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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 5

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

My honeycomb - literally, “my reed” or “my wood,” i. e., the substance itself, or portions of it in which the comb is formed. The bees in Palestine form their combs not only in the hollows of trees and rocks, but also in reeds by the river-banks. The king’s meaning appears to be: “All pleases me in thee, there is nothing to despise or cast away.”

Eat, O friends - A salutation from the king to his assembled guests, or to the chorus of young men his companions, bidding them in the gladness of his heart Song of Solomon 3:11 partake of the banquet. So ends this day of outward festivity and supreme heart-joy. The first half of the Song of Songs is fitly closed. The second half of the poem commences Song of Solomon 5:2 with a change of tone and reaction of feeling similar to that of Song of Solomon 3:1. It terminates with the sealing Song of Solomon 8:6-7 of yet deeper love.

Verse 2

Some time may be supposed to have elapsed since the bride’s solemn espousals with the king Song of Solomon 4:7-1. A transient cloud of doubt or estrangement is now passing over her soul, as by the relation of this dream she intimates to her friends. Ancient allegorical interpreters find here a symbol of the condition and feelings of Israel during the Babylonian captivity, when the glories and privileges of Solomon’s Temple were no more, and the manifested presence of the Holy One had been withdrawn. Israel in exile seeks the Lord Song of Solomon 5:8, and will find Him again in the second temple Song of Solomon 6:3-9.

I sleep, but my heart waketh - A poetical periphrasis for “I dream.” Compare the ancient saying: “Dreams are the vigils of those who slumber, hopes are waking dreams.”

The voice - Or, “sound.” Compare Song of Solomon 2:8, note. She hears him knocking before he speaks.

My undefiled - literally, “my perfect one.” Vulgate “immaculata mea.” Compare Song of Solomon 4:7.

Verse 3

She makes trivial excuses, as one in a dream.

Verse 4

Put in his hand - Through (literally “from”) the hole (of the lock), in order to raise the pins by which the bolt was fastened. The Oriental lock is a hollow piece of wood attached to the doorpost, into which a sliding-bolt is made to run. As soon as the bolt has been driven home a number of pins drop into holes prepared in it for their reception. To raise these pins, and so enable the bolt to be withdrawn, is to unfasten the lock. This is commonly done by means of the key (literally “opener”), but may often be accomplished by the fingers if dipped in paste or some other adhesive substance. For such a purpose the beloved inserts his fingers here anointed with the costly unguent, which will presently distil on those of the bride when she rises to open to him.

Verse 5

Sweet smelling myrrh - Or (as in the margin) “running myrrh,” that which first and spontaneously exudes, i. e., the freshest, finest myrrh. Even in withdrawing he has left this token of his unchanged love.

Verse 8

The bride, now awake, is seeking her beloved. The dream of his departure and her feelings under it have symbolized a real emotion of her waking heart.

Verse 9

Section 5:9–6:3: The bride’s commendation of the beloved. In the allegorical interpretations of Jewish expositors all is here spoken by exiled Israel of the Holy One whose praise she sings “by the waters of Babylon” Psalms 137:1. Christian interpreters apply the description directly to the Incarnate Son, partly in His Eternal Godhead, but chiefly in His risen and glorified Humanity.

Verse 10

My beloved is white and ruddy - Compare 1 Samuel 16:12; Daniel 7:9. The complexion most admired in youth. Jewish interpreters remark that he who is elsewhere called “the Ancient of Days” is here described as the Ever-Young. “White in His virgin-purity,” says Jerome, “and ruddy in His Passion.”

The chiefest among ten thousand - literally, “a bannered one among a myriad;” hence one signalized, a leader of ten thousand warriors.

Verse 11

His head is as the most fine gold - Perhaps in the sense of noble and precious as the finest gold. Lamentations 4:2.

Bushy - Waving like branches of the palm.

Verse 12

Or, His eyes are doves. The comparison is to doves seen by streams of water washing in milk (i. e., milk-white), and sitting on fulness (i. e., on the full or abundant water-flood).

Fitly set - This rendering supposes that the eyes within their sockets are compared to precious stones set in the foil of a ring (see the margin); but the other rendering is preferable. The milk-white doves themselves, sitting by full streams of water, or reflected in their flittings athwart the glassy surface, present images of the calm repose and vivid glances of the full pure lustrous eyes of the beloved.

Verse 13

Sweet flowers - Better as in the margin, i. e., plants with fragrant leaves and flowers trained on trellis-work.

Like lilies - Are lilies dropping liquid myrrh (see the Song of Solomon 5:5 note). Perhaps the fragrance of the flowers, or the delicate curl of the lip-like petals, is here the point of comparison, rather than the color.

Verse 14

His hands ... - Are golden rings or cylinders. The fingers of the bent or closed hand are compared to a massive ring or set of rings; or, if outstretched or straightened, to a row of golden rods or cylinders.

The beryl - The “tarshish” (compare Exodus 28:20), probably the chrysolite of the ancients (so called from its gold color), the modern topaz.

His belly ... - His body (the Hebrew term applies to the whole body, from the shoulders to the thighs) is a piece of ivory workmanship overlaid with sapphires. The sapphire of the ancients seems to have been the lapis lazuli.

Verse 15

His countenance - Or, his appearance (his whole port and mien, but especially head and countenance) “is as the Lebanon.”

Verse 16

He is altogether lovely - literally, the whole of him desires or delights; the plural substantive expressing the notion of the superlative. Theodoret, applying to our Lord the whole description, interprets well its last term: “Why should I endeavor to express His beauty piecemeal when He is in Himself and altogether the One longed-for, drawing all to love, compelling all to love, and inspiring with a longing (for His company) not only those who see, but also those who hear?”

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 5". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/song-of-solomon-5.html. 1870.
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