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The Bride’s attitude to herself is summed up in Song of Songs 1:5 ‘Dark am I yet lovely.’ In the BBC’s 1995 adaptation of Pride & Prejudice there’s a scene where Mr Darcy’s sisters are discussing with their brother the physical beauty or otherwise of Miss Elisabeth Bennett. The sisters negatively remark that Miss Bennett is too dark in her skin, that is, suntanned. You see, In 18th century English society it was considered somewhat common for a woman to be tanned, and a light, fair skin was thought to be a plus sign in the aristocratic beauty stakes.

That’s how it was for the Bride here. The King has brought His bride into His royal tents. She sees the King’s female attendants who haven’t been exposed to the hot middle-eastern sun and so have relatively fair complexions – her heavy suntan showed that she was used to working outside and was from the common people. Now the Bride’s conscious of how she stands out: ‘Dark am I.’ But then she’s able to say, ‘yet lovely.’ You see, she has a very special relationship with the King and to Him is beautiful.

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