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Bible Commentaries
Song of Solomon 8

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

Royal rank and splendor are grown wearisome. The king once called her “sister” and “sister-bride.” Would he were indeed as a “brother,” her mother’s own child whom she might meet, embrace, and welcome everywhere without restraint or shame. Her love for him is simple, sacred, pure, free from the unrest and the stains of mere earthly passion.

Verse 2

Who would instruct me - Or, thou shouldest teach me Isaiah 54:13. Some allegorists make the whole passage Song of Solomon 7:11-2 a prayer of the synagogue for the Incarnation of the Word, like Song of Solomon 1:2 (see note). Others, a prayer of the Church under both covenants for that complete union with the Incarnate Godhead which is still future.

Verse 3

The bride now turns to and addresses the chorus as before (marginal reference).

Verse 4

That ye stir not up - literally, as in the margin. For “my love” read as before love. The omission of “the roes and hinds” here is noticeable. Hebrew scholars regard this charge here and elsewhere Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5 as an admonition to Israel not to attempt obtaining a possession of, or restoration to, the promised land, and union or reunion there with the Holy One, before being inwardly prepared for it by the trials of the wilderness and the exile. This interpretation comes very near to what appears to be the genuine literal meaning (see Song of Solomon 2:7 note). They suppose the words here to be addressed by Messiah to Israel in “the wilderness of the people” Ezekiel 20:35, in the latter day, and the former words Song of Solomon 3:5 by Moses in the wilderness of Sinai.

Verse 5

The scene changes from Jerusalem to the birthplace of the bride, where she is seen coming up toward her mother’s house, leaning on the arm of the great king her beloved.

Who is this - Compare and contrast with Song of Solomon 3:6. In the former scene all was splendor and exaltation, but here condescension, humility, and loving charm.

I raised thee up ... - Beneath this apple-tree I wakened thee. The king calls the bride’s attention to a fruit-tree, which they pass, the trysting-spot of earliest vows in this her home and birthplace. The Masoretic pointing of the Hebrew text (the most ancient traditional interpretation) assigns these words to the bride, but the majority of Christian fathers to the king. The whole passage gains in clearness and dramatic expression by the latter arrangement.

Verses 6-7

The key-note of the poem. It forms the Old Testament counterpart to Paul’s panegyric 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 under the New.

(a) Love is here regarded as an universal power, an elemental principle of all true being, alone able to cope with the two eternal foes of God and man, Death and his kingdom.

“For strong as death is love,

Tenacious as Sheol is jealousy.”

“Jealousy” is here another term for “love,” expressing the inexorable force and ardor of this affection, which can neither yield nor share possession of its object, and is identified in the mind of the sacred writer with divine or true life.

(b) He goes on to describe it as an all-pervading Fire, kindled by the Eternal One, and partaking of His essence:

“Its brands are brands of fire,

A lightning-flash from Jah.”

Compare Deuteronomy 4:24.

(c) This divine principle is next represented as overcoming in its might all opposing agencies whatsoever, symbolized by water.

(d) From all which it follows that love, even as a human affection, must be reverenced, and dealt with so as not to be bought by aught of different nature; the attempt to do this awakening only scorn.

Verses 8-12

She next turns to the king, and commends her brothers to his favorable regard by means of another parable. Solomon owns a vineyard in Baal-hamon (possibly Baalbak, or identical with Amana (Conder)), situated in the warm and fertile plains of Coele-Syria, overshadowed by the heights of Lebanon Song of Solomon 4:8. This vineyard he has let out to tenants etc.

The bride also has a vineyard of her own Song of Solomon 1:6, her beauty and virtue faithfully guarded by these same brothers in time past. This vineyard now belongs to Solomon. Let him have “the thousand” which is his due - she is indeed herself henceforth entirely his - but let the faithful keepers have their meed as well. At least two hundred silverlings should be theirs - a double tithe of royal praise and honor.

Verses 13-14

The poem having opened with the song of a chorus in praise of the king Song of Solomon 1:2-4, concludes with a versicle recited by the bride, repeating the last words of her former strain Song of Solomon 2:17, with one significant change. She no longer thinks of the possibility of separation. The “Mountains of Bether” (division) of Song of Solomon 2:17, are now “Mountains of Besamim” (spices). His haunts and hers are henceforth the same (compare Song of Solomon 4:6).

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/song-of-solomon-8.html. 1870.
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