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I am dark but lovely,
you daughters of Jerusalem,
like the tents of Kedar, like Solomon’s curtains. Bible

“lovely.” The Hebrew word means “lovely,” but its verbal stem is “to desire” and that meaning may also be brought into play here. In his commentary on Song of Solomon, the Hebrew scholar Robert Alter translates it: “I am dark but desirable” (Strong As Death Is Love).

“the tents of Kedar.” Kedar was the name of an ancient Arabian Bedouin tribe. The Arabs traditionally lived in tents, and their tents were made of goat hair, and the goats in the ancient Near East were black, not white as many modern Western goats are. The goat hair tents started a beautiful dark black, but over time the sun bleached them somewhat so that many tents were “dark” but not strictly black. The Shulamite woman (Song 6:13) had worked in the sun and her skin was darker than it normally would have been.


Commentary for: Song of Songs 1:5