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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 6

Verses 2-9

A Dream. His Beauty and hers

2-7. Another dream of hers, with a painful ending. The accumulation (Song of Solomon 5:2) of names of endearment reminds us of the frequent repetition, by a Palestinian bridegroom during the wedding dance, of Yâ halâli, Yâ mâli, ’ O my property, ’Omy possession!’

2. Heavy dew falls, especially during spring and in the second half of the night. The Spanish poet whom Longfellow translated had in his mind our passage and Revelation 3:20:

’Lord, what am I, that, with unceasing care,

Thou didst seek after me,—that thou didst wait,

Wet with unhealthy dews before my gate,

And pass the gloomy nights of winter there?

How oft my guardian angel gently cried,

“Soul, from thy casement look, and thou shalt see

How he persists to knock and wait for thee.”’

And our Lord’s parable (Luke 11:5-8) presents a parallel to Song of Solomon 5:3. The tunic had been put off (Exodus 22:26; Deuteronomy 24:18). The feet, shod only with sandals, needed washing each night.

4. A hole is still cut in the door of Syrian houses, through which the owner can insert his arm and the key. 5. ’Myrrha stacta,’ liquid myrrh, which flowed from the bark of the plant, was the finest and most costly. In two modern Egyptian poems we find: ’My love hath perfumed herself on the nights of the festival,’ and ’0 thou, with sweet hands!’

7. The watchmen treat her as a mere night-wanderer: cp. the solicitude of Boaz for Ruth (Ruth 3 :M). They tore off her wrapper (Mark 14:51-52), a light garment which rested on the shoulders, or was thrown round the head as a veil.

9. The chorus prepares the way for her eulogy of her beloved.

10-16. Nuptial songs in praise of the bridegroom’s beauty are at the present day comparatively rare in Palestine. His head is the most fine gold, an expression which recalls Shakespeare’s ’Golden lads and girls.’ His eyes are doves, building in a ravine through which a stream flows. Possibly the fact that these birds delight in clear water and frequently bathe in it may explain the ’sitting by full streams’ of the RV, or, ’sitting upon fulness,’ which literally represents the original.

13. The ’banks of sweet herbs’ (RV) have also been rendered,’ towers of perfumes.’ The lips are compared to red lilies, red being the dominant colour of the flora of that land.

14. The fingers are round and shapely; the nails like topazes; the body (RV) a plate of ivory encrusted with lapis lazuli, blue veins showing through the lighter skin.

15. The pillars of marble remind us of a song still current in those regions: the singer avers that his dear one’s foot is of white silver, which would be scratched if she walked even on cloth.

Song of Solomon 6:1-3. The chorus enquire where he may be found, and she, in dreamy and indefinite language, informs them.

4-9. He again strikes in, celebrating her beauty. Tirzah is in a lofty and delightful situation, surrounded by olive groves: its name (= ’Delight’) implies its attractiveness. Jerusalem has always been lovely to an Israelite’s eye (Psalms 48:2; Psalms 50:2; Lamentations 2:15, etc.). A pure and charming woman is ’awe-inspiring as bannered hosts’ (RM). Coventry Patmore speaks of ’her awful charm of grace and innocence sincere’:

’And though her charms are a strong law

Compelling all men to admire,

They go so clad with lowly awe

None but the noble dare desire.’

5. Her eyes have thrown him into confusion. 8. She is far above all the queens and concubines, the ladies of the harem, who are just now at hand.

9. She is her mother’s only, i.e. dearest, one (Genesis 22:2), and her pure one.

A Dialogue. Her Loveliness

10-13. A dialogue between these ladies and her. They compare her to the dawn, stooping down to look on the earth from the sky. It is still common in Arabic poems to address the beloved as ’Moon,’ or ’Full moon’!

11, 12. She tells of her visit to the nut-garden, where, ere she was aware of it, her soul, i.e. her desire, set her in the chariots of Ammi-nadib. The precise meaning of this expression cannot be determined. The general sense appears to be that she was sunk in reverie, carried away in a lover’s dream, a flight of fancy. Aroused from this, she would shyly hasten away.

13. But the chorus beg her to return and perform for them the ’Dance of Mahanaim’ (RV), a sword-dance, no doubt, such as the bride executes, sword in hand, on the evening of the marriage, amidst a half-circle of men and women, whilst a poem (wasf= ’description’) of the character of Song of Solomon 7:1-6 is being sung. The title Shulamite is derived from the town-name Shulem (otherwise spelled ’Shunem’), from which Abishag, the fairest maiden of her day, came (1 Kings 1:4): obviously it is another way of calling her ’fairest among women’ (Song of Solomon 1:8; Song of Solomon 5:9; Song of Solomon 6:1).

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 6". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.