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Bible Commentaries

Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 8

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).

Verses 5-14

Memories. The Close

5. The chorus enquire who this happy bride may be. And the bridegroom points her to the apple-tree where he had once found her asleep, and to the spot where she was born. These are lovers’ reminiscences, sweet to them, trivial to others.

6, 7. Her passionate clinging to him, and her assertion of the irresistibleness, the indestructibleness, the unselfishness of genuine love.

6. She would fain be as inseparable from him as the seal-cylinder, which men wore on a cord round the neck, or the seal-ring on the right hand (Genesis 38:18; Jeremiah 22:24;). Love is strong as resistless death. Jealousy can be hard as Sheol (RV), the place of the dead.

’Turning all love’s delight to miserie,

Through feare of loosing his felicitie.’

And this is especially true of Orientals: ’A son of the East cannot quietly enjoy his inward felicity, cannot love without being consumed with the suspicion that others will rob him of this sweet treasure; and jealousy, the passion which gives birth to hatred and blood-feuds, establishes its way in his heart, growing apparently out of a morbid excess of sentiment.’ Othello kills the person he most dearly loves. It is ’a very flame of the Lord’ (RV), resistless, fierce, consuming (Genesis 23:6; Psalms 80:10; Jonah 3:2; Acts 7:20).

7. Render, ’If a man were ready to give the whole substance of his house for love, could any one despise him? ’No. It is better worth the purchase than anything else on earth.

8, 9. The solicitude which the brothers once felt concerning their sister. If she repels all improper advances they will do her honour: if she is weak they will carefully guard her. When she hath no breasts, she is not of marriageable age. To be spoken foris to be asked in marriage.

10. Our heroine can proudly assert her purity, and her beloved honours her.

11, 12. In figurative speech he expresses his contentment. King Solomon has a fertile and profitable vineyard at Baal-hamon (perhaps the town mentioned in Joshua 19:28). Any one would give for its produce a thousand shekels (about £130). Those to whom it is entrusted will not make less than two hundred shekels profit. But the happy lover is well satisfied that Solomon should have his thousand shekels and the keepers their two hundred, provided he may have his dear one. The Arab poet sings, ’Take away all roses; one little garden is enough for me.’ Solomon here is the typical wealthy king, the Croesus of Hebrew fancy (1 Kings 10:21): cp. also Sirach 12:5.

13. The bridegroom once more (see Song of Solomon 2:14) begs her to sing. His companions are the young men (Judges 14:11) who attended him all through the festivities.

14. Her final word, of invitation to her husband, is a slightly modified repetition of the refrain Song of Solomon 2:17.

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Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.