Who is this that comes forth like the dawn,Liturgy of the Hours, Midmorning Prayer, Song of Songs 6:10
as beautiful as the moon, as resplendent as the sun,
as awe-inspiring as bannered troops?
Who is this that comes forth like the dawn, beautiful as the white moon, pure as the blazing sun, fearsome as celestial visions?New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?Revised Standard Version
Who is this who looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, awesome as the bannered legions?The Complete Tanakh (Hebrew Bible), ed. by Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg
The poetic tribute of the Song of Songs to the “woman” radiant as the sun, moon, and starry legions paints an image of feminine strength radiating from the hand of the divine artist.
The obscure subject in the Hebrew phrase ă-yum-māh kan-niḏ-gā-lō-wṯ (אֲיֻמָּ֖ה כַּנִּדְגָּלֽוֹת) is variously translated as “troops,” “army,” “hosts,” or “legions” from its military overtones. The key word is dagal, a primitive verb meaning “to flaunt, raise a flag, or set up with banners” (Strong’s Concordance). It is cognate with the noun degel which means “flag, banner, or standard.”
The phrase also appears in Song of Songs 6:4. The New American Bible (Revised Edition) offers this footnote concerning the phrase it translates as “celestial visions,” which hides the reference to military banners:
Celestial visions: the meaning is uncertain. Military images may be implied here, i.e., the “heavenly hosts” who fight along with God on Israel’s behalf (cf. Judges 5:20), or perhaps a reference to the awesome goddesses of the region who combined aspects of both fertility and war.
In the context of the Church’s celebration of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we honor the Mother of God whose blazing virginal strength inspires the confidence of children protected by legions of celestial hosts.