1. Song of Solomon 4:13–15 (ESV)
  2. Exposition

How are the woman's shoots an orchard of pomegranates, choice fruits, and spices?

Song of Solomon 4:13–15 (ESV)

13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates with all choicest fruits, henna with nard,

The reference to the woman’s shoots is not clear. The root Hebrew word salah means to send out and could refer to the garden or the fountain that he compares his bride to. The young woman can barely contain the abundant life that pours forth from her, whether she is viewed as a fertile garden sending out its shoots or a well of living water (Song of Solomon 4:15), gushing out cool, refreshing rivers like flowing streams from the mountain ranges of Lebanon. It is possible that allusion is being made to both: she is both the fertile garden and the life-giving fountain.1

The woman is to her lover a fertile garden in which are found choice fruits and spice-producing plants and trees. As a garden she is unparalleled; no ordinary garden in ancient Palestine would have contained such a diversity of plant life, drawn from every corner of the ancient world.2 The list of exotic spices in this garden serves to suggest that the pleasures of the woman’s love are abundant and especially that they are varied; he could never grow bored in such a garden. They do not symbolize specific parts of her body, but rather refer to the pleasures of her body as a whole and her as a lover. The spring of water is a metaphor for her sexual love (see Proverbs 5:15–20).3.

We are reminded of the powerful imagery of the Garden of Eden, a place of one-to-one intimacy, where a human couple are to be found naked and unashamed (Genesis 2:25) before the breaking of their relationship with God and each other led to their exclusion from this paradise.4 The image of the sexual relationship as a locked garden that has many abundant delights recalls Eden itself, the garden sanctuary where the Lord God walked regularly with the first man and woman. The woman is an orchard filled with every good fruit and all the best aromatic spices. All the scents and tastes mentioned in the Song are brought together in this garden. No literal garden could possibly have contained all these different plants, but that merely heightens the associations with Eden that are being made.5

These clear allusions to Eden emphasize the fact that what is being celebrated in the Song is the good and God-given design for marriage and sexual intimacy as described in Genesis 1:1 – 2:25: one man and one woman united for life. It is that relationship that the man and woman are about to enter into.