1. Song of Solomon 2:17 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

Why must the young man turn and be like a gazelle on cleft mountains?

Song of Solomon 2:17 (ESV)

17 Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle or a young stag on cleft mountains.

The Hebrew word translated as cleft mountains has the root btr, which means cut into pieces or cut into halves. This suggests cleavage and may indicate that the mountains stand for the woman’s breasts.1 It could also be the name of a place, Beitar, a hilly area in the west of Jerusalem. So there may be a play on words.

For now, the man must leave her and turn away to the mountains, but the cleft shape of the mountains serves to point him forward to the future consummation that he so desires. There is a day coming when he will indeed be able to romp like a deer on those spice-laden mountains (see Song of Solomon 8:14). Her no to his appeal to come away with him (Song of Solomon 2:10) is a not yet, my love, not a never.2