The net overflows with pictures of Victoria’s tattooed neck and back. But no one has explained the Hebrew words, how one pronounces them, what the imagery means. Those who tried got it wrong (see below)! A picture of Victoria’s tattoo is reproduced below.
Hebrew is a gorgeous language, and the Song of Solomon is magnificent love poetry. For a short introduction and sample poetic translation, go here.
If you are thinking about learning Hebrew, find a teacher and go for it! You will not be disappointed. Some tips for those who wish to pursue Hebrew are available here.
This is the Hebrew on Victoria’s back (from top to bottom across her neck and back, read from right to left here; I subdivide the text into three thoughts):
It’s a quote from Song of Solomon 6:3.
This is how one pronounces it, phrase-by-phrase (capitalized syllables receive stress):
Here is a translation (a girl speaks):
I am my love’s
and my love is mine,
who browses among the lilies.
(Song of Solomon 6:3 - my translation)
What does it mean? That’s pretty obvious, except for the last phrase. Ancient Hebrew can be very roundabout in its erotic expressions. The lover who grazes, or browses, among the lilies, is elsewhere described in these terms (once again, a girl speaks):
A sachet of myrrh
is my love to me;
between my breasts he lodges.
(Song of Solomon 1:13 - my translation)
By now the meaning of the imagery should be clear.
Victoria Beckham has excellent taste in love poetry. Did you know the Bible has love poetry in it? It does, some of the best ever written.
In another way, the Bible is an exchange of love letters between God and humanity. The letters are full of desire and wrath and sweetness. A stormy love, in which God’s faithfulness saves the day against all odds more than once.
The Bible will always be worth reading. Here are links to translations that are accurate but not too difficult to follow, with introductions and notes to each book:
By the way, when it comes to Hebrew Tattoos, Buyers Beware!
As an aid to some of my friends who always have their nose in a book, Victoria Beckham, born Victoria Caroline Adams, is best-known as "Posh Spice" of the famous Spice Girls.