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The title of the book at once denotes that it is a connected whole, and is the work of one author. - Song of Solomon 1:1. The Song of Songs, composed by Solomon. The genitival connection, “Song of Songs,” cannot here signify the Song consisting of a number of songs, any more than calling the Bible “The Book of books” leads us to think of the 24 + 27 canonical books of which it consists. Nor can it mean “one of Solomon's songs;” the title, as it here stands, would then be the paraphrase of שׁיר שׁירי שׁ , chosen for the purpose of avoiding the redoubled genitives; but “one of the songs” must rather have been expressed by שׁיר משּׁירי . It has already been rightly explained in the Midrash:
(Note: Vid., Fürst's Der Kanon des A. T. (1868), p. 86.)
“the most praiseworthy, most excellent, most highly-treasured among the songs.” The connection is superl. according to the sense (cf. ἄῤῥητα ἀῤῥήτων of Sophocles), and signifies that song which, as such, surpasses the songs one and all of them; as “servant of servants,” Genesis 9:25, denotes a servant who is such more than all servants together. The plur. of the second word is for this superl. sense indispensable ( vid., Dietrich's Abhand. zur hebr. Gramm. p. 12), but the article is not necessary: it is regularly wanting where the complex idea takes the place of the predicate, Genesis 9:25; Exodus 29:37, or of the inner member of a genitival connection of words, Jeremiah 3:19; but it is also wanting in other places, as Ezekiel 16:7 and Ecclesiastes 1:2; Ecclesiastes 12:8, where the indeterminate plur. denotes not totality, but an unlimited number; here it was necessary, because a definite Song - that, namely, lying before us - must be designated as the paragon of songs. The relative clause, “ asher lishlōmō ,” does not refer to the single word “Songs” (Gr. Venet. τῶν τοῦ ), as it would if the expression were שׁיר מהשּׁ , but to the whole idea of “the Song of Songs.” A relative clause of similar formation and reference occurs at 1 Kings 4:2: “These are the princes, asher lo , which belonged to him (Solomon).” They who deny the Solomonic authorship usually explain: The Song of Songs which concerns or refers to Solomon, and point in favour of this interpretation to lxx B. ὃ ἐστι Σαλ ., which, however, is only a latent genit., for which lxx A. τῷ Σαλ . Lamed may indeed introduce the reference of a writing, as at Jeremiah 23:9; but if the writing is more closely designated as a “Song,” “Psalm,” and the like, then Lamed with the name of a person foll. is always the Lamed auctoris; in this case the idea of reference to, as e.g., at Isaiah 1:1, cf. 1 Kings 5:13, is unequivocally expressed by על . We shall find that the dramatized history which we have here, or as we might also say, the fable of the melodrama and its dress, altogether correspond with the traits of character, the favourite turns, the sphere of vision, and the otherwise well-known style of authorship peculiar to Solomon. We may even suppose that the superscription was written by the author, and thus by Solomon himself. For in the superscription of the Proverbs he is surnamed “son of David, king of Israel,” and similarly in Ecclesiastes. But he who entitles him merely “Solomon” is most probably himself. On the other hand, that the title is by the author himself, is not favoured by the fact that instead of the שׁ , everywhere else used in the book, the fuller form asher is employed. There is the same reason for this as for the fact that Jeremiah in his prophecies always uses asher, but in the Lamentations interchanges שׁ with asher. This original demonstrative שׁ is old-Canaanitish, as the Phoenician אש , arrested half-way toward the form asher, shows.
(Note: From this it is supposed that asher is a pronom. root-cluster equivalent to אשׁל . Fleischer, on the contrary, sees in asher an original substantive athar = (Arab.) ithr , Assyr. asar , track, place, as when the vulgar expression is used, “The man where ( wo instead of welcher) has said.”)
In the Book of Kings it appears as a North Palest. provincialism, to the prose of the pre-exilian literature it is otherwise foreign;
(Note: We do not take into view here Genesis 6:3. If בּשׁגם is then to be read, then there is in it the pronominal שׁ , as in the old proper name Mishael (who is what God is?).)
but the pre-exilian shir and kinah (cf. also Job 19:29) make use of it as an ornament. In the post-exilian literature it occurs in poetry (Psalms 122:3, etc.) and in prose (1 Chronicles 5:20; 1 Chronicles 27:27); in Ecclesiastes it is already a component part of the rabbinism in full growth. In a pre-exilian book-title שׁ in place of asher is thus not to be expected. On the other hand, in the Song itself it is no sign of a post-exilian composition, as Grätz supposes. The history of the language and literature refutes this.
From these words with which as a solo the first strophe begins:
Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth,
We at once perceive that she who here speaks is only one of many among whom Solomon's kisses are distributed; for min is partitive, as e.g., Exodus 16:27 (cf. Jeremiah 48:32 and Isaiah 16:9), with the underlying phrase נשׁיקה נשׁק , osculum osculari = figere , jungere , dare . Nashak properly means to join to each other and to join together, particularly mouth to mouth. פּיהוּ is the parallel form of פּיו , and is found in prose as well as in poetry; it is here preferred for the sake of the rhythm. Böttcher prefers, with Hitzig, ישׁקני (“let him give me to drink”); but “to give to drink with kisses” is an expression unsupported.
In line 2 the expression changes into an address:
For better is thy love than wine.
Instead of “thy love,” the lxx render “thy breasts,” for they had before them the word written defectively as in the traditional text, and read דּדּיך . Even granting that the dual dadayim or dadiym could be used in the sense of the Greek μαστοί (Revelation 1:13),
(Note: Vid., my Handsch. Funde, Heft 2 (1862).)
of the breasts of a man (for which Isaiah 32:12, Targ., furnishes no sufficient authority); yet in the mouth of a woman it were unseemly, and also is itself absurd as the language of praise. But, on the other hand, that דּדיך is not the true reading (“for more lovely - thus he says to me - are,” etc.), R. Ismael rightly says, in reply to R. Akiba, Aboda zara 29 b, and refers to שׁמניך following (Song of Solomon 1:3), which requires the mas. for דדיך . Rightly the Gr. Venet. οἱ σοὶ ἔρωτες , for דּודים is related to אהבח , almost as ἔρως to ἀγάπη , Minne to Liebe . It is a plur. like חיּים , which, although a pluraletantum , is yet connected with the plur. of the pred. The verbal stem דוד is an abbreviated reduplicative stem (Ewald, §118. 1); the root דו appears to signify “to move by thrusts or pushes” ( vid., under Psalms 42:5); of a fluid, “to cause to boil up,” to which the word דּוּד , a kitchen-pot, is referred.
(Note: Yet it is a question whether דד , to love, and דד , the breast (Arab. thady , with a verb thadiyi , to be thoroughly wet), are not after their nearest origin such words of feeling, caressing, prattling, as the Arab. dad , sport (also dadad , the only Arab. word which consists of the same three letters); cf. Fr. dada , hobby-horse.)
It is the very same verbal stem from which דּיד (David), the beloved, and the name of the foundress of Carthage, דּידה ( = דּידון ) Minna, is derived. The adj. tov appears here and at 3 a twice in its nearest primary meaning, denoting that which is pleasant to the taste and (thus particularly in Arab.) to the smell.
This comparison suaves prae vino , as well as that which in line 3 of the pentastich, Song of Solomon 1:3,
To smell thy ointments are sweet
shows that when this song is sung wine is presented and perfumes are sprinkled; but the love of the host is, for those who sing, more excellent than all. It is maintained that ריח signifies fragrance emitted, and not smell. Hence Hengst., Hahn, Hölem., and Zöck. explain: in odour thy ointments are sweet. Now the words can certainly, after Joshua 22:10; Job 32:4; 1 Kings 10:23, mean “sweet in (of) smell;” but in such cases the word with Lamed of reference naturally stands after that to which it gives the nearer reference, not as here before it. Therefore Hengst.: ad odorem unguentorem tuorum quod attinet bonus est , but such giving prominence to the subject and attraction (cf. 1 Samuel 2:4; Job 15:20) exclude one another; the accentuation correctly places לריה out of the gen. connection. Certainly this word, like the Arab. ryḥ , elsewhere signifies odor, and the Hiph. הריח ( araḥ ) odorari ; but why should not ריח be also used in the sense of odoratus , since in the post-bibl. Heb. הריח חושׁ means the sense of smell, and also in Germ. “ riechen ” means to emit fragrance as well as to perceive fragrance? We explain after Genesis 2:9, where Lamed introduces the sense of sight, as here the sense of smell. Zöckl. and others reply that in such a case the word would have been לריח ; but the art. is wanting also at Genesis 2:9 (cf. Song of Solomon 3:6), and was not necessary, especially in poetry, which has the same relation to the art. as to asher, which, wherever practicable, is omitted.
Thus in line 4:
An ointment poured forth is thy name.
By “thy ointments,” line 3, spices are meant, by which the palace was perfumed; but the fragrance of which, as line 4 says, is surpassed by the fragrance of his name. שׁם (name) and שׁמן (fragrance) form a paranomasia by which the comparison is brought nearer Ecclesiastes 7:1. Both words are elsewhere mas.; but sooner than שׁם , so frequently and universally mas. (although its plur. is שׁמות , but cf. אבות ), שׁמן may be used as fem., although a parallel example is wanting (cf. devǎsh , mōr , nōphěth , kěmāh , and the like, which are constantly mas.). Ewald therefore translates שמן תורק as a proper name: “O sweet Salbenduft ” Fragrance of Ointment; and Böttcher sees in turǎk a subst. in the sense of “sprinkling” [ Spreng-Oel ]; but a name like “ Rosenoel ” [oil of roses] would be more appropriately formed, and a subst. form תורק is, in Heb. at least, unexampled (for neither תּוּגה nor תּוּבל , in the name Tubal-Cain, is parallel). Fürst imagines “a province in Palestine where excellent oil was got,” called Turak ; “Turkish” Rosenöl recommends itself, on the contrary, by the fact of its actual existence. Certainly less is hazarded when we regard shěměn , as here treated exceptionally, as fem.; thus, not: ut unguentum nomen tuum effunditur , which, besides, is unsuitable, since one does not empty out or pour out a name; but: unguentum quod effunditur (Hengst., Hahn, and others), an ointment which is taken out of its depository and is sprinkled far and wide, is thy name. The harsh expression שׁמן מוּרק is intentionally avoided; the old Heb. language is not φιλομέτοχος (fond of participles); and, besides, מורק sounds badly with מרק , to rub off, to wash away. Perhaps, also, יוּרק שׁמן is intentionally avoided, because of the collision of the weak sounds n and j. The name Shēm is derived from the verb shāmā , to be high, prominent, remarkable: whence also the name for the heavens ( vid., under Psalms 8:2). That attractive charm (lines 2, 3), and this glory (line 4), make him, the praised, an object of general love, line 5, Song of Solomon 1:3:
Therefore virgins love thee.
This “therefore” reminds us of Ps 45. עלמות (sing. Isaiah 7:14), from עלם (Arab.), ghalima , pubescere , are maidens growing to maturity. The intrans. form אהבוּך , with transitive signification, indicates a pathos. The perf. is not to be translated dilexerunt, but is to be judged of according to Gesen. §126. 3: they have acquired love to thee (= love thee), as the ἠγάπησάν σε of the Greek translators is to be understood. The singers themselves are the evidence of the existence of this love.
With these words the first pentastich of the table-song terminates. The mystical interpretation regards it as a song of praise and of loving affection which is sung to Christ the King, the fairest of the children of men, by the church which is His own. The Targum, in line first, thinks of the “mouth to mouth” [Numbers 12:8] in the intercourse of Moses with God. Evidence of divine love is also elsewhere thought of as a kiss: the post-bibl. Heb. calls the gentlest death the death בנשׁיקה , i.e., by which God takes away the soul with a kiss.
The second pentastich also begins with a solo:
4 Draw me, so will we run after thee.
All recent interpreters (except Bצttcher) translate, like Luther, “Draw me after thee, so we run.” Thus also the Targ., but doubtfully: Trahe nos post te et curremus post viam bonitatis tuae . But the accentuation which gives Tiphcha to משׁ requires the punctuation to be that adopted by the Peshito and the Vulg., and according to which the passage is construed by the Greeks (except, perhaps, by the Quinta): Draw me, so will we, following thee, run ( vid., Dachselt, Biblia Accentuata, p. 983 s.). In reality, this word needs no complement: of itself it already means, one drawing towards, or to himself; the corresponding (Arab.) masak signifies, prehendere prehensumque tenere ; the root is מש , palpare , contrectare . It occurs also elsewhere, in a spiritual connection, as the expression of the gentle drawing of love towards itself (Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3); cf. ἑλκύειν , John 6:44; John 12:32. If one connects “after thee” with “draw me,” then the expression seems to denote that a certain violence is needed to bring the one who is drawn from her place; but if it is connected with “we will run,” then it defines the desire to run expressed by the cohortative, more nearly than a willing obedience or following. The whole chorus, continuing the solo, confesses that there needs only an indication of his wish, a direction given, to make those who here speak eager followers of him whom they celebrate.
In what follows, this interchange of the solo and the unisono is repeated:
4 b If the king has brought me into his chambers,
So will we exult and rejoice in thee.
We will praise thy love more than wine!
Uprightly have they loved thee.
The cohortative נרוּצה (we will run) was the a podosis imperativi; the cohortatives here are the apodosis perfecti hypothetici. “Suppose that this has happened,” is oftener expressed by the perf. (Psalms 57:7; Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 25:16); “suppose that this happens,” by the fut. (Job 20:24; Ewald, §357 b). חדרי are the interiora domus ; the root word hhādǎr , as the Arab. khadar shows, signifies to draw oneself back, to hide; the hhěděr of the tent is the back part, shut off by a curtain from the front space. Those who are singing are not at present in this innermost chamber. But if the king brings one of them in ( הביא , from בּוא , introire , with acc. loci), then - they all say - we will rejoice and be glad in thee. The cohortatives are better translated by the fut. than by the conjunctive ( exultemus ); they express as frequently not what they then desire to do, but what they then are about to do, from inward impulse, with heart delight. The sequence of ideas, “exult” and “rejoice,” is not a climax descendens, but, as Psalms 118:24, etc., an advance from the external to the internal, - from jubilation which can be feigned, to joy of heart which gives it truth; for שׂמח - according to its root signification: to be smoothed, unwrinkled, to be glad
(Note: Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indo-german.-sem. Studien (1873), p. 99f.)
- means to be of a joyful, bright, complaisant disposition; and גּיל , cogn. חיל , to turn (wind) oneself, to revolve, means conduct betokening delight. The prep. ב in verbs of rejoicing, denotes the object on account of which, and in which, one has joy. Then, if admitted into the closest neighbourhood of the king, they will praise his love more than wine. זכר denotes to fix, viz., in the memory; Hiph.: to bring to remembrance, frequently in the way of praise, and thus directly equivalent to celebrare , e.g., Ps. 45:18. The wine represents the gifts of the king, in contradistinction to his person. That in inward love he gives himself to them, excels in their esteem all else he gives. For, as the closing line expresses, “uprightly they love thee,” - viz. they love thee, i.e., from a right heart, which seeks nothing besides, and nothing with thee; and a right mind, which is pleased with thee, and with nothing but thee. Heiligstedt, Zöckler, and others translate: with right they love thee. But the pluralet. מישׁרים (from מישׁר , for which the sing. מישׁור occurs) is an ethical conception (Proverbs 1:3), and signifies, not: the right of the motive, but: the rightness of the word, thought, and act (Proverbs 23:16; Psalms 17:2; Psalms 58:2); thus, not: jure; but: recte, sincere, candide. Hengst., Thrupp, and others, falsely render this word like the lxx, Aquil., Symm., Theod., Targ., Jerome, Venet., and Luther, as subject: rectitudes abstr. for concr. = those who have rectitude, the upright. Hengstenberg's assertion, that the word never occurs as in adv., is set aside by a glance at Psalms 58:2; Psalms 75:3; and, on the other hand, there is no passage in which it is sued as abstr. pro concr. It is here, as elsewhere, an adv. acc. for which the word בּמישׁרים might also be used.
The second pentastich closes similarly with the first, which ended with “love thee.” What is there said of this king, that the virgins love him, is here more generalized; for diligunt te is equivalent to diligeris (cf. Song of Solomon 8:1, Song of Solomon 8:7). With these words the table-song ends. It is erotic, and yet so chaste and delicate, - it is sensuous, and yet so ethical, that here, on the threshold, we are at once surrounded as by a mystical cloudy brightness. But how is it to be explained that Solomon, who says (Proverbs 27:2), “Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth,” begins this his Song of Songs with a song in praise of himself? It is explained from this, that here he celebrates an incident belonging to the happy beginning of his reign; and for him so far fallen into the past, although not to be forgotten, that what he was and what he now is are almost as two separate persons.
After this choral song, Shulamith, who has listened to the singers not without being examined by their inquisitive glances as a strange guest not of equal rank with them, now speaks:
5 Black am I, yet comely, ye daughters of Jerusalem,
As the tents of Kedar, as the hangings of Solomon.
From this, that she addresses the ladies of the palace as “daughters of Jerusalem” ( Kerı̂ ירושׁלים , a du. fractus; like עפרין for עפרון , 2 Chronicles 13:19), it is to be concluded that she, although now in Jerusalem, came from a different place. She is, as will afterwards appear, from Lower Galilee; - and it may be remarked, in the interest of the mystical interpretation, that the church, and particularly her first congregations, according to the prophecy, was also Galilean, for Nazareth and Capernaum are their original seats; - and if Shulamith is a poetico-mystical Mashal or emblem, then she represents the synagogue one day to enter into the fellowship of Solomon - i.e., of the son of David, and the daughters of Jerusalem, i.e., the congregation already believing on the Messiah. Yet we confine ourselves to the nearest sense, in which Solomon relates a self-experience. Shulamith, the lightly esteemed, cannot boast that she is so ruddy and fair of countenance as they who have just sung how pleasant it is to be beloved by this king; but yet she is not so devoid of beauty as not to venture to love and hope to be loved: “Black am I, yet comely.” These words express humility without abjectness. She calls herself “black,” although she is not so dark and unchangeably black as an “Ethiopian” (Jeremiah 13:23). The verb שׁחר has the general primary idea of growing dark, and signifies not necessarily soot-blackness (modern Arab. shuhwar , soot), but blackness more or less deep, as שׁחר , the name of the morning twilight, or rather the morning grey, shows; for (Arab.) saḥar
(Note: After an improbable etymology of the Arab., from saḥar , to turn, to depart, “the departure of the night” (Lane). Magic appears also to be called sihar , as nigromantia (Mediaev. from nekromantia), the black art.)
denotes the latter, as distinguished from (Arab.) fajr , the morning twilight ( vid., under Isaiah 14:12; Isaiah 47:11). She speaks of herself as a Beduin who appears to herself as (Arab.) sawda , black, and calls
(Note: The houri (damsel of paradise) is thus called ḥawaryyt , adj. relat. from ḥawra , from the black pupil of the eye in the centre of the white eyeball.)
the inhabitants of the town (Arab.) ḥawaryyat ( cute candidas). The Vav we have translated “yet” (“yet comely”); it connects the opposite, which exists along with the blackness. נאוה is the fem. of the adj. נאוה נאוה נאוי , which is also formed by means of the doubling of the third stem-letter of נאה נאו נאי (to bend forward, to aim; to be corresponding to the aim, conformable, becoming, beautiful), e.g., like רענן , to be full of sap, green. Both comparisons run parallel to nigra et bella ; she compares on the one hand the tents of Kedar, and on the other the tapestry of Solomon. אהל signifies originally, in general, the dwelling-place, as בּית the place where one spends the night; these two words interchange: ohel is the house of the nomad, and baith is the tent of him who is settled. קדר (with the Tsere, probably from (Arab.) ḳadar , to have ability, be powerful, though of after the Heb. manner, as Theodoret explains and Symm. also translates: σκοτασμός , from (Heb.) Kadar , atrum esse ) is the name of a tribe of North. Arab. Ishmaelites (Genesis 25:13) whom Pliny speaks of ( Cedraei in his Hist. Nat. Song of Solomon 5:11), but which disappeared at the era of the rise of Islam; the Karaite Jefeth uses for it the word (Arab.) Ḳarysh , for he substitutes the powerful Arab tribe from which Muhammed sprung, and rightly remarks: “She compares the colour of her skin to the blackness of the hair tents of the Koreishites,” - even to the present day the Beduin calls his tent his “hair-house” ( bêt wabar , or, according to a more modern expression, bêt sa'r , שׂער בּית ); for the tents are covered with cloth made of the hair of goats, which are there mostly black-coloured or grey. On the one hand, dark-coloured as the tents of the Kedarenes, she may yet, on the other hand, compare herself to the beautiful appearance of the יריעות of Solomon. By this word we will have to think of a pleasure-tent or pavilion for the king; pavillon (softened from Lat. papilio ) is a pleasure-tent spread out like the flying butterfly. This Heb. word could certainly also mean curtains for separating a chamber; but in the tabernacle and the temple the curtains separating the Most Holy from the Holy Place were not so designated, but are called פּרכת and מסך ; and as with the tabernacle, so always elsewhere, יריעות (from ירע , to tremble, to move hither and thither) is the name of the cloths or tapestry which formed the sides of the tent (Isaiah 54:2); of the tent coverings, which were named in parall. with the tents themselves as the clothing of their framework (Habakkuk 3:7; Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 10:20; Jeremiah 49:29). Such tent hangings will thus also be here meant; precious, as those described Ex 26 and 36, and as those which formed the tabernacle on Zion (2 Sam 7; cf. 1 Chronicles 17:1) before the erection of the temple. Those made in Egypt
(Note: Vid., Wetzstein's Isaiah (1869), p. 698.)
were particularly prized in ancient times.
Shulamith now explains, to those who were looking upon her with inquisitive wonder, how it is that she is swarthy:
6a Look not on me because I am black,
Because the sun has scorched me.
If the words were בי תּראינה אל־תּראוּ , then the meaning would be: look not at me, stare not at me. But אל־תּראני , with שׁ (elsewhere כּי ) following, means: Regard me not that I am blackish ( subnigra ); the second שׁ is to be interpreted as co-ordin. with the first (that ... that), or assigning a reason, and that objectively (for). We prefer, with Böttch., the former, because in the latter case we would have had שׁהשׁמשׁ . The quinqueliterum שׁחרחרת signifies, in contradistinction to שׁחור , that which is black here and there, and thus not altogether black. This form, as descriptive of colour, is diminutive; but since it also means id quod passim est , if the accent lies on passim , as distinguished from raro , it can be also taken as increasing instead of diminishing, as in יפיפה הפכפּך . The lxx trans. παρέβλεπσέ (Symm. παρανέβλεπσέ ) με ὁ ἣλιος : the sun has looked askance on me. But why only askance? The Venet. better: κατεῖδέ με ; but that is too little. The look is thought of as scorching; wherefore Aquila: συνέκαυσέ με , it has burnt me; and Theodotion: περιέφρυξέ με , it has scorched me over and ov. שׁזף signifies here not adspicere (Job 3:9; Job 41:10) so much as adurere. In this word itself (cogn. שׁדף ; Arab. sadaf , whence asdaf , black; cf. דּעך and זעך , Job 17:1), the looking is thought of as a scorching; for the rays of the eye, when they fix upon anything, gather themselves, as it were, into a focus. Besides, as the Scriptures ascribe twinkling to the morning dawn, so it ascribes eyes to the sun (2 Samuel 12:11), which is itself as the eye of the heavens.
(Note: According to the Indian idea, it is the eye of Varuna; the eye (also after Plato: ἡλιοειδέστατον τῶν περὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις οργάνων ) is regarded as taken from the sun, and when men die returning to the sun (Muir in the Asiatic Journal, 1865, p. 294, S. 309).)
The poet delicately represents Shulamith as regarding the sun as fem. Its name in Arab. and old Germ. is fem., in Heb. and Aram. for the most part mas. My lady the sun, she, as it were, says, has produced on her this swarthiness.
She now says how it has happened that she is thus sunburnt:
6b My mother's sons were angry with me,
Appointed me as keeper of the vineyards -
Mine own vineyard have I not kept.
If “mother's sons” is the parallel for “brothers” ( אחי ), then the expressions are of the same import, e.g., Genesis 27:29; but if the two expressions stand in apposition, as Deut. 13:76, then the idea of the natural brother is sharpened; but when “mother's sons” stands thus by itself alone, then, after Leviticus 18:9, it means the relationship by one of the parents alone, as “father's wife” in the language of the O.T. and also 1 Corinthians 5:5 is the designation of a step-mother. Nowhere is mention made of Shulamith's father, but always, as here, only of her mother, Song of Solomon 3:4; Song of Solomon 8:2; Song of Solomon 6:9; and she is only named without being introduced as speaking. One is led to suppose that Shulamith's own father was dead, and that her mother had been married again; the sons by the second marriage were they who ruled in the house of their mother. These brothers of Shulamith appear towards the end of the melodrama as rigorous guardians of their youthful sister; one will thus have to suppose that their zeal for the spotless honour of their sister and the family proceeded from an endeavour to accustom the fickle or dreaming child to useful activity, but not without step-brotherly harshness. The form נחרוּ , Ewald, §193 c, and Olsh. p. 593, derive from חרר , the Niph. of which is either נחר or נחר (= נחרר ), Gesen. §68, An. 5; but the plur. of this נחר should, according to rule, have been נחרוּ (cf. however, נחלוּ , profanantur , Ezekiel 7:24); and what is more decisive, this נחר from חרר everywhere else expresses a different passion from that of anger; Böttch. §1060 (2, 379). חרה is used of the burning of anger; and that נחרוּ (from נחרה נחרה ) can be another form for נחרוּ , is shown, e.g., by the interchange of אחרוּ and אחרוּ ; the form נחרוּ , like נחלוּ , Amos 6:6, resisted the bringing together of the ח and the half guttural ר . Něhěrā (here as Isaiah 41:11; Isaiah 45:24) means, according to the original, mid. signif. of the Niph., to burn inwardly, ἀναφλέγεσθαι = ὀργίζεσθαι . Shulamith's address consists intentionally of clauses with perfects placed together: she speaks with childlike artlessness, and not “like a book;” in the language of a book, וישׂמוּני would have been used instead of שׂמני . But that she uses נטרה (from נטר , R. טר = τηρεῖν ; cf. Targ. Genesis 37:11 with Luke 2:51), and not נחרה , as they were wont to say in Judea, after Proverbs 27:18, and after the designation of the tower for the protection of the flocks by the name of “the tower of the nōtsrīm ” the watchmen, 2 Kings 17:9, shows that the maid is a Galilean, whose manner of speech is Aramaizing, and if we may so say, platt-Heb. (= Low Heb.), like the Lower Saxon plattdeutsch . Of the three forms of the particip. נטרה נוטרה נוטרת , we here read the middle one, used subst. (Ewald, §188 b), but retaining the long ē (ground-form, nâṭir ). The plur. את־הךּ does not necessarily imply that she had several vineyards to keep, it is the categ. plur. with the art. designating the genus; custodiens vineas is a keeper of a vineyard. But what kind of vineyard, or better, vine-garden, is that which she calls שׁלּי כּרמי , i.e., meam ipsius vineam ? The personal possession is doubly expressed; shělli is related to cǎrmī as a nearer defining apposition: my vineyard, that which belongs to me ( vid., Fr. Philippi's Status constr. pp. 112-116). Without doubt the figure refers to herself given in charge to be cared for by herself: vine-gardens she had kept, but her own vine-garden, i.e., her own person, she had not kept. Does she indicate thereby that, in connection with Solomon, she has lost herself, with all that she is and has? Thus in 1851 I thought; but she certainly seeks to explain why she is so sunburnt. She intends in this figurative way to say, that as the keeper of a vineyard she neither could keep nor sought to keep her own person. In this connection cǎarmī , which by no means = the colourless memet ipsam , is to be taken as the figure of the person in its external appearance, and that of its fresh-blooming attractive appearance which directly accords with כּרם , since from the stem-word כּרם (Arab.), karuma , the idea of that which is noble and distinguished is connected with this designation of the planting of vines (for כּרם , Arab. karm , cf. karmat , of a single vine-stock, denotes not so much the soil in which the vines are planted, as rather the vines themselves): her kěrěm is her (Arab.) karamat , i.e., her stately attractive appearance. If we must interpret this mystically then, supposing that Shulamith is the congregation of Israel moved at some future time with love to Christ, then by the step-brothers we think of the teachers, who after the death of the fathers threw around the congregation the fetters of their human ordinances, and converted fidelity to the law into a system of hireling service, in which all its beauty disappeared. Among the allegorists, Hengstenberg here presents the extreme of an interpretation opposed to what is true and fine.
These words (Song of Solomon 1:5-Joshua :) are addressed to the ladies of the palace, who look upon her with wonder. That which now follows is addressed to her beloved:
7 O tell me, thou whom my soul loveth: where feedest thou?
Where causest thou it (thy flock) to lie down at noon?
Among the flocks of thy companions!
The country damsel has no idea of the occupation of a king. Her simplicity goes not beyond the calling of a shepherd as of the fairest and the highest. She thinks of the shepherd of the people as the shepherd of sheep. Moreover, Scripture also describes governing as a tending of sheep; and the Messiah, of whom Solomon is a type, is specially represented as the future Good Shepherd. If now we had to conceive of Solomon as present from the beginning of the scene, then here in Song of Solomon 1:7 would Shulamith say that she would gladly be alone with him, far away from so many who are looking on her with open eyes; and, indeed, in some country place where alone she feels at home. The entreaty “O tell me” appears certainly to require (cf. Genesis 37:19) the presence of one to whom she addresses herself. But, on the other hand, the entreaty only asks that he should let her know where he is; she longs to know where his occupation detains him, that she may go out and seek him. Her request is thus directed toward the absent one, as is proved by Song of Solomon 1:8. The vocat., “O thou whom my soul loveth,” is connected with אתּה , which lies hid in הגּידה (“inform thou”). It is a circumlocution for “beloved” (cf. Nehemiah 13:26), or “the dearly beloved of my soul” (cf. Jeremiah 12:7). The entreating request, indica quaeso mihi ubi pascis , reminds one of Genesis 37:16, where, however, ubi is expressed by איפה , while here by איכה , which in this sense is hap leg For ubi = איפה , is otherwise denoted only by איכה איכו ), 2 Kings 6:13, and usually איּה , North Palest., by Hosea אהי . This איכה elsewhere means quomodo, and is the key-word of the Kîna , as איך is of the Mashal (the satire); the Song uses for it, in common with the Book of Esther, איככה . In themselves כה and כה , which with אי preceding, are stamped as interrog. in a sense analogous to hic, ecce , κεῖνος , and the like; the local, temporal, polite sense rests only on a conventional usus loq., Böttch. §530. She wishes to know where he feeds, viz., his flock, where he causes it (viz., his flock) to lie down at mid-day. The verb רבץ (R. רב , with the root signif. of condensation) is the proper word for the lying down of a four-footed animal: complicatis pedibus procumbere ( cubare ); Hiph. of the shepherd, who causes the flock to lie down; the Arab. rab'a is the name for the encampment of shepherds. The time for encamping is the mid-day, which as the time of the double-light, i.e., the most intense light in its ascending and descending, is called צהרים שׁלּמה , occurring only here, signifies nam cur, but is according to the sense = ut ne, like למּה אשׁר , Daniel 1:10 (cf. Ezra 7:23); למּה , without Dag. forte euphone., is, with the single exception of Job 7:20, always milra, while with the Dag. it is milel, and as a rule, only when the following word begins with הע '' א carries forward the tone to the ult. Shulamith wishes to know the place where her beloved feeds and rests his flock, that she might not wander about among the flocks of his companions seeking and asking for him. But what does כּעטיה mean? It is at all events the part. act. fem. of עטי which is here treated after the manner of the strong verb, the kindred form to the equally possible עטה (from 'âṭaja ) and עטיּה . As for the meaning, instar errabundae (Syr., Symm., Jerome, Venet., Luther) recommends itself; but עטה must then, unless we wish directly to adopt the reading כּטעיה (Böttch.), have been transposed from טעה תעה ), which must have been assumed if עטה , in the usual sense of velar e (cf. עטף ), did not afford an appropriate signification. Indeed, velans , viz., sese , cannot denote one whom consciousness veils, one who is weak or fainting (Gesen. Lex.), for the part. act. expresses action, not passivity. But it can denote one who covers herself (the lxx, perhaps, in this sense ὡς περιβαλλομένη ), because she mourns (Rashi); or after Genesis 38:14 (cf. Martial, 9:32) one who muffles herself up, because by such affected apparent modesty she wishes to make herself known as a Hierodoule or harlot. The former of these significations is not appropriate; for to appear as mourning does not offend the sense of honour in a virtuous maiden, but to create the appearance of an immodest woman is to her intolerable; and if she bears in herself the image of an only beloved, she shrinks in horror from such a base appearance, not only as a debasing of herself, but also as a desecration of this sanctuary in her heart. Shulamith calls entreatingly upon him whom her soul loveth to tell her how she might be able directly to reach him, without feeling herself wounded in the consciousness of her maidenhood and of the exclusiveness of her love. It is thereby supposed that the companions of her only beloved among the shepherds might not treat that which to her is holy with a holy reserve, - a thought to which Hattendorff has given delicate expression in his exposition of the Song, 1867. If Solomon were present, it would be difficult to understand this entreating call. But he is not present, as is manifest from this, that she is not answered by him, but by the daughters of Jerusalem.
8 If thou knowest not, thou fairest of women,
Go after the footprints of the flock,
And feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.
היּפה , standing in the address or call, is in the voc.; the art. was indispensable, because “the beautiful one among women” = the one distinguished for beauty among them, and thus is, according to the meaning, superlative; cf. Judges 6:15; Amos 2:16, with Judges 5:24; Luke 1:28; Ewald, §313 c. The verb יפה refers to the fundamental idea: integrum, completum esse , for beauty consists in well-proportioned fulness and harmony of the members. That the ladies of the court are excited to speak thus may arise from this, that one often judges altogether otherwise of a man, whom one has found not beautiful, as soon as he begins to speak, and his countenance becomes intellectually animated. And did not, in Shulamith's countenance, the strange external swarthiness borrow a brightness from the inner light which irradiated her features, as she gave so deep and pure an expression to her longing? But the instruction which her childlike, almost childish, naïvete deserved, the daughters of Jerusalem do not feel disposed to give her. ידע לא signifies, often without the obj. supplied, non sapere , e.g., Psalms 82:5; Job 8:9. The לך subjoined guards against this inclusive sense, in which the phrase here would be offensive. This dat. ethicus ( vid., Song of Solomon 2:10-1 Kings :, Song of Solomon 2:13, Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 8:14), used twice here in Song of Solomon 1:8 and generally in the Song, reflects that which is said on the will of the subject, and thereby gives to it an agreeable cordial turn, here one bearing the colour of a gentle reproof: if thou knowest not to thee, - i.e., if thou, in thy simplicity and retirement, knowest it not, viz., that he whom thou thinkest thou must seek for at a distance is near to thee, and that Solomon has to tend not sheep but people, - now, then, so go forth, viz., from the royal city, and remain, although chosen to royal honours, as a shepherdess beside thine own sheep and kids. One misapprehends the answer if he supposes that they in reality point out the way to Shulamith by which she might reach her object; on the contrary, they answer her ironically, and, entering into her confusion of mind, tell her that if she cannot apprehend the position of Solomon, she may just remain what she is. עקב (Arab. 'aḳib ), from עקב , to be convex, arched, is the heel; to go in the heels (the reading fluctuates between the form, with and without Dag. dirimens in ק ) of one = to press hard after him, to follow him immediately. That they assign to her not goats or kids of goats, but kids, גּריּת , is an involuntary fine delicate thought with which the appearance of the elegant, beautiful shepherdess inspires them. But that they name kids, not sheep, may arise from this, that the kid is a near-lying erotic emblem; cf. Genesis 38:17, where it has been fittingly remarked that the young he-goat was the proper courtesan-offering in the worship of Aphrodite (Movers' Phönizier, I 680). It is as if they said: If thou canst not distinguish between a king and shepherds, then indulge thy love-thoughts beside the shepherds' tents, - remain a country maiden if thou understandest not how to value the fortune which has placed thee in Jerusalem in the royal palace.
Solomon, while he was absent during the first scene, is now present. It is generally acknowledged that the words which follow were spoken by him:
9 To a horse in the chariot of Pharaoh Do I compare thee, my love.
10 Beautiful are thy cheeks in the chains, Thy neck in the necklaces.
11 Golden chains will we make for thee, With points of silv.
Till now, Shulamith was alone with the ladies of the palace in the banqueting-chamber. Solomon now comes from the banquet-hall of the men (Song of Solomon 1:12); and to Song of Solomon 2:7, to which this scene extends, we have to think of the women of the palace as still present, although not hearing what Solomon says to Shulamith. He addresses her, “my love:” she is not yet his bride. רעיה (female friend), from רעי רעה ), to guard, care for, tend, ethically: to delight in something particularly, to take pleasure in intercourse with one, is formed in the same way as נערה ; the mas. is רעה (= ra'j ), abbreviated רע , whence the fem. rǎ'yāh (Judges 11:37; Chethı̂b ), as well as rē'āh , also with reference to the ground-form. At once, in the first words used by Solomon, one recognises a Philip, i.e., a man fond of horses, - an important feature in the character of the sage ( vid., Sur. 38 of the Koran), - and that, one fond of Egyptian horses: Solomon carried on an extensive importation of horses from Egypt and other countries (2 Chronicles 9:28); he possessed 1400 war-chariots and 12, 000 horsemen (1 Kings 10:26); the number of stalls of horses for his chariots was still greater (1 Kings 5:6) [4:26]. Horace (Ode iii. 11) compares a young sprightly maiden to a nimble and timid equa trima ; Anacreon (60) addresses such an one: “thou Thracian filly;” and Theocritus says (Idyl xviii. 30, 31):
“As towers the cypress mid the garden's bloom,
As in the chariot proud Thessalian steed,
Thus graceful rose-complexioned Helen moves.”
But how it could occur to the author of the Song to begin the praise of the beauty of a shepherdess by saying that she is like a horse in Pharaoh's chariot, is explained only by the supposition that the poet is Solomon, who, as a keen hippologue, had an open eye for the beauty of the horse. Egyptian horses were then esteemed as afterwards the Arabian were. Moreover, the horse was not native to Egypt, but was probably first imported thither by the Hyksos: the Egyptian name of the horse, and particularly of the mare, ses - t , ses - mut , and of the chariot, markabuta , are Semitic.
(Note: Eber's Aegypten u. die B. Mose's, Bd. I pp. 221f. 226; cf. Aeg. Zeitschr. 1864, p. 26f.)
סוּסה is here not equitatus (Jerome), as Hengst. maintains: “ Susah does not denote a horse, but is used collectively;” while he adds, “Shulamith is compared to the whole Egyptian cavalry, and is therefore an ideal person.” The former statement is untrue, and the latter is absurd. Sūs means equus , and susā may, indeed, collectively denote the stud (cf. Joshua 19:5 with 1 Chronicles 4:31), but obviously it first denotes the equa . But is it to be rendered, with the lxx and the Venet., “to my horse”? Certainly not; for the chariots of Pharaoh are just the chariots of Egypt, not of the king of Israel. The Chirek in which this word terminates is the Ch. compag., which also frequently occurs where, as here and Genesis 49:11, the second member of the word-chain is furnished with a prep. ( vid., under Psalms 113:1-1 Samuel :). This i is an old genitival ending, which, as such, has disappeared from the language; it is almost always accented as the suff. Thus also here, where the Metheg shows that the accent rests on the ult. The plur. רכבי , occurring only here, is the amplificative poetic, and denotes state equipage. דּמּה is the trans. of דּמה , which combines the meanings aequum and aequalem esse . Although not allegorizing, yet, that we may not overlook the judiciousness of the comparison, we must remark that Shulamith is certainly a “daughter of Israel;” a daughter of the people who increased in Egypt, and, set free from the bondage of Pharaoh, became the bride of Jahve, and were brought by the law as a covenant into a marriage relation to Him.
The transition to Song of Solomon 1:10 is mediated by the effect of the comparison; for the head-frame of the horse's bridle, and the poitral, were then certainly, must as now, adorned with silken tassels, fringes, and other ornaments of silver ( vid., Lane's Modern Egypt, I 149). Jerome, absurdly, after the lxx: pulchrae sunt genae tuae sicut turturis . The name of the turtle, תּוּד , redupl. turtur, is a pure onomatopoeia, which has nothing to do with תּוּר , whence דּוּר , to go round about, or to move in a circle; and turtle-dove's cheeks - what absurdity! Birds have no cheeks; and on the sides of its neck the turtle-dove has black and white variegated feathers, which also furnishes no comparison for the colour of the cheeks. תּורים are the round ornaments which hang down in front on both sides of the head-band, or are also inwoven in the braids of hair in the forehead; תּוּר , circumire , signifies also to form a circle or a row; in Aram. it thus denotes, e.g., the hem of a garment and the border round the eye. In נאווּ ( vid., at 5 a) the Aleph is silent, as in לאמר אכל חרוּזים are strings of pearls as a necklace; for the necklace (Arab. kharaz ) consists of one or more, for the most part, of three rows of pearls. The verb חרז signifies, to bore through and to string together; e.g., in the Talm., fish which one strings on a rod or line, in order to bring them to the market. In Heb. and Aram. the secondary sense of stringing predominates, so that to string pearls is expressed by חרז , and to bore through pearls, by קדח ; in Arab., the primary meaning of piercing through, e.g., michraz, a shoemaker's awl.
After Song of Solomon 1:11, one has to represent to himself Shulamith's adorning as very simple and modest; for Solomon seeks to make her glad with the thought of a continued residence at the royal court by the promise of costly and elegant ornaments. Gold and silver were so closely connected in ancient modes of representation, that in the old Aegypt. silver was called nub het , or white gold. Gold derived its name of זהב from its splendour, after the witty Arab. word zahab , to go away, as an unstable possession; silver is called כּסף , from כּסף , scindere, abscindere , a piece of metal as broken off from the mother-stone, like the Arab. dhuḳrat , as set free from the lump by means of the pickaxe (cf. at Psalms 19:11; Psalms 84:3). The name of silver has here, not without the influence of the rhythm (Song of Solomon 8:9), the article designating the species; the Song frequently uses this, and is generally in using the art. not so sparing as poetry commonly is.
(Note: The art. denoting the idea of species in the second member of the st. const. standing in the sing. without a determining reference to the first, occurs in Song of Solomon 1:13, “a bundle of ( von) myrrh;” Song of Solomon 1:14, “a cluster of ( von) the cyprus-flower;” Song of Solomon 4:3, “a thread of ( von) scarlet,” “a piece of pomegranate;” Song of Solomon 5:13, “a bed of balm” (but otherwise, Song of Solomon 6:2), Song of Solomon 7:9, “clusters of the vine;” Song of Solomon 7:3, “a bowl of roundness” (which has this property); Song of Solomon 7:10, “wine (of the quality) of goodness;” cf. Song of Solomon 8:2, “wine the (= of the) spicing.” It also, in cases where the defined species to which the first undefined member of the st. const. belongs, stands in the pl.: Song of Solomon 2:9, Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 8:14, “like a young one of the hinds;” Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 6:5, “a herd of goats;” Song of Solomon 4:2, “a flock of shorn sheep;” Song of Solomon 6:6, “a flock of lambs,” i.e., consisting of individuals of this kind. Also, when the second member states the place where a thing originates or is found, the first often remains indeterminate, as one of that which is there found, or a part of that which comes from thence: Song of Solomon 2:1, “a meadow-saffron of Sharon,” “a lily of the valleys;” Song of Solomon 3:9, “the wood of Lebanon.” The following are doubtful: Song of Solomon 4:4, “a thousand bucklers;” and Song of Solomon 7:5, “a tower of ivory;” less so Song of Solomon 7:1, “the dance of Mahanaim.” The following are examples of a different kind: Genesis 16:7, “a well of water;” Deuteronomy 22:19, “a damsel of Israel;” Psalms 113:9, “a mother of children;” cf. Genesis 21:28.)
עם makes prominent the points of silver as something particular, but not separate. In נישׂה , Solomon includes himself among the other inhabitants, especially the women of the palace; for the plur. majest. in the words of God of Himself (frequently in the Koran), or persons of rank of themselves (general in the vulgar Arab.), is unknown in the O.T.
They would make for her golden globules or knobs with ( i.e., provided with ...; cf. Psalms 89:14) points of silver sprinkled over them, - which was a powerful enticement for a plain country damsel.
Now for the first time Shulamith addresses Solomon, who is before her. It might be expected that the first word will either express the joy that she now sees him face to face, or the longing which she had hitherto cherished to see him again. The verse following accords with this expectation:
12 While the king is at his table,
My nard has yielded its fragrance.
שׁ עד or אשׁר עד , with fut. foll., usually means: usque eo , until this and that shall happen, Song of Solomon 2:7, Song of Solomon 2:17; with the perf. foll., until something happened, Song of Solomon 3:4. The idea connected with “until” may, however, be so interpreted that there comes into view not the end of the period as such, but the whole length of the period. So here in the subst. clause following, which in itself is already an expression of continuance, donec = dum ( erat); so also עד alone, without asher, with the part. foll. (Job 1:18), and the infin. (Judges 3:26; Exodus 33:22; Jonah 4:2; cf. 2 Kings 9:22); seldomer with the fin. foll., once with the perf. foll. (1 Samuel 14:19), once (for Job 8:21 is easily explained otherwise) with the fut. foll. (Psalms 141:10, according to which Genesis 49:10 also is explained by Baur and others, but without כי עד in this sense of limited duration: “so long as,” being anywhere proved). מסבּו is the inflected מסב , which, like the post-bibl. מסבּה , signifies the circuit of the table; for סבב signifies also, after 1 Samuel 16:11 (the lxx rightly, after the sense οὐ μὴ κατακλιθῶμεν ), to seat themselves around the table, from which it is to be remarked that not till the Greek-Roman period was the Persian custom of reclining at table introduced, but in earlier times they sat (1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Kings 13:20; cf. Psalms 128:3). Reclining and eating are to be viewed as separate from each other, Amos 6:4; הסב , “three and three they recline at table,” is in matter as in language mishnic ( Berachoth 42 b; cf. Sanhedrin 2:4, of the king: if he reclines at table, the Tôra must be opposite him). Thus: While ( usque eo , so long as), says Shulamith, the king was at his table, my nard gave forth its fragrance.
נרדּ is an Indian word: naladâ , i.e., yielding fragrance, Pers. nard ( nârd ), Old Arab. nardîn ( nârdîn ), is the aromatic oil of an Indian plant valeriana, called Nardostachys 'Gatâmânsi (hair-tress nard). Interpreters are wont to represent Shulamith as having a stalk of nard in her hand. Hitzig thinks of the nard with which she who is speaking has besprinkled herself, and he can do this because he regards the speaker as one of the court ladies. But that Shulamith has besprinkled herself with nard, is as little to be thought of as that she has in her hand a sprig of nard ( spica nardi), or, as the ancients said, an ear of nard; she comes from a region where no nard grows, and nard-oil is for a country maiden unattainable.
(Note: The nard plant grows in Northern and Eastern India; the hairy part of the stem immediately above the root yields the perfume. Vid., Lassen's Indische Alterthumskunde, I 338f., III 41f.)
Horace promises Virgil a cadus (= 9 gallons) of the best wine for a small onyx-box full of nard; and Judas estimated at 300 denarii (about £8, 10s.) the genuine nard (how frequently nard was adulterated we learn from Pliny) which Mary of Bethany poured from an alabaster box on the head of Jesus, so that the whole house was filled with the odour of the ointment (Mark 14:5; John 12:2). There, in Bethany, the love which is willing to sacrifice all expressed itself in the nard; here, the nard is a figure of the happiness of love, and its fragrance a figure of the longing of love. It is only in the language of flowers that Shulamith makes precious perfume a figure of the love which she bears in the recess of her heart, anl which, so long as Solomon was absent, breathed itself out and, as it were, cast forth its fragrance
(Note: In Arab. ntn = נתן , to give an odour, has the specific signification, to give an ill odour ( mintin, foetidus), which led an Arab. interpreter to understand the expression, “my nard has yielded, etc.,” of the stupifying savour which compels Solomon to go away ( Mittheilung, Goldziher's).)
(cf. Song of Solomon 2:13; Song of Solomon 7:13) in words of longing. She has longed for the king, and has sought to draw him towards her, as she gives him to understand. He is continually in her mind.
13 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me,
Which lieth between by breasts.
14 A bunch of cypress-flowers is my beloved to me,
From the vine-gardens of Engedi.
Most interpreters, ignoring the lessons of botany, explain Song of Solomon 1:13 of a little bunch of myrrh; but whence could Shulamith obtain this? Myrrh, מר מרר , to move oneself in a horizontal direction hither and thither, or gradually to advance; of a fluid, to flow over the plain),
(Note: Vid., Schlotmann in the Stud. u. Krit. (1867), p. 217.)
belongs, like the frankincense, to the amyrids, which are also exotics
(Note: They came from Arabia and India; the better Arabian was adulterated with Indian myrrh.)
in Palestine; and that which is aromatic in the Balsamodendron myrrha are the leaves and flowers, but the resin ( Gummi myrrhae, or merely myrrha) cannot be tied in a bunch. Thus the myrrh here can be understood in no other way than as at Song of Solomon 5:5; in general צרור , according to Hitzig's correct remark, properly denotes not what one binds up together, but what one ties up - thus sacculus, a little bag. It is not supposed that she carried such a little bag with her (cf. Isaiah 3:20), or a box of frankincense (Luth. musk-apple); but she compares her beloved to a myrrh-repository, which day and night departs not from her bosom, and penetrates her inwardly with its heart-strengthening aroma. So constantly does she think of him, and so delightful is it for her to dare to think of him as her beloved.
The 14th verse presents the same thought. כּפר is the cypress-cluster or the cypress-flowers, κύπρος (according to Fürst, from כפר עפר , to be whitish, from the colour of the yellow-white flowers), which botanists call Lawsonia, and in the East Alḥennā ; its leaves yield the orange colour with which the Moslem women stain
(Note: Vid., the literature of this subject in Defrémery's notice of Dozy-Engelmann's work in the Revue Critique, III 2 (1868), p. 408.)
their hands and feet. אשׁכּל (from שׁכל , to interweave) denotes that which is woven, tresses, or a cluster or garland of their flowers. Here also we have not to suppose that Shulamith carried a bunch of flowers; in her imagination she places herself in the vine-gardens which Solomon had planted on the hill-terraces of Engedi lying on the west of the Dead Sea (Ecclesiastes 2:4), and chooses a cluster of flowers of the cypress growing in that tropical climate, and says that her beloved is to her internally what such a cluster of cypress-flowers would be to her externally. To be able to call him her beloved is her ornament; and to think of him refreshes her like the most fragrant flowers.
In this ardour of loving devotion, she must appear to the king so much the more beautiful.
15 Lo, thou art fair, my love.
Lo, thou art fair; thine eyes are doves.
This is a so-called comparatio decurtata , as we say: feet like the gazelle, i.e., to which the swiftness of the gazelle's feet belongs (Habakkuk 3:19); but instead of “like doves,” for the comparison mounts up to equalization, the expression is directly, “doves.” If the pupil of the eye were compared with the feathers of the dove (Hitz.), or the sprightliness of the eye with the lively motion hither and thither of the dove (Heiligst.), then the eulogium would stand out of connection with what Shulamith has just said. But it stands in reference to it if her eyes are called doves; and so the likeness to doves' eyes is attributed to them, because purity and gentleness, longing and simplicity, express themselves therein. The dove is, like the myrtle, rose, and apple, an attribute of the goddess of love, and a figure of that which is truly womanly; wherefore ימימה (the Arab. name of a dove), Columbina, and the like names of women, columba and columbari, are words of fondness and caressing. Shulamith gives back to Solomon his eulogium, and rejoices in the prospect of spending her life in fellowship with him.
16 Behold, thou art comely, my beloved; yea charming;
Yea, our couch is luxuriously green.
17 The beams of our house are cedars,
Our wainscot of cypresses.
If Song of Solomon 1:16 were not the echo of her heart to Solomon, but if she therewith meant some other one, then the poet should at least not have used הנּך , but הנּה . Hitzig remarks, that up to “my beloved” the words appear as those of mutual politeness - that therefore נעים (charming) is added at once to distinguish her beloved from the king, who is to her insufferable. But if a man and a woman are together, and he says הנּכך and she says הנּך , that is as certainly an interchange of address as that one and one are two and not three. He praises her beauty; but in her eyes it is rather he who is beautiful, yea charming: she rejoices beforehand in that which is assigned to her. Where else would her conjugal happiness find its home but among her own rural scenes? The city with its noisy display does not please her; and she knows, indeed, that her beloved is a king, but she thinks of him as a shepherd. Therefore she praises the fresh green of their future homestead; cedar tops will form the roof of the house in which they dwell, and cypresses its wainscot. The bed, and particularly the bridal-bower ( D. M. Z. xxii. 153), - but not merely the bed in which one sleeps, but also the cushion for rest, the divan (Amos 6:4), - has the name ערשׂ , from ערשׂ , to cover over; cf. the “network of goats' hair” (1 Samuel 19:13) and the κωνωπεῖον of Holofernes (Judith 10:21; 13:9), (whence our kanapee = canopy), a bed covered over for protection against the κώνωπες , the gnats. רענן , whence here the fem. adj. accented on the ult., is not a word of colour, but signifies to be extensible, and to extend far and wide, as lentus in lenti salices ; we have no word such as this which combines in itself the ideas of softness and juicy freshness, of bending and elasticity, of looseness, and thus of overhanging ramification (as in the case of the weeping willow). The beams are called קרות , from קרה , to meet, to lay crosswise, to hold together (cf. congingere and contignare). רחיטנוּ (after another reading, רח , from רחיט , with Kametz immutable, or a virtual Dag.) is North Palest. = רה = .tse ( Kerı̂ ), for in place of רהטים , troughs (Exodus 2:16), the Samarit. has רחטים (cf. sahar and sahhar, circumire, zahar and zahhar, whence the Syr. name of scarlet); here the word, if it is not defect. plur. (Heiligst.), is used as collect. sing. of the hollows or panels of a wainscoted ceiling, like φάτναι , whence the lxx φατνώματα (Symm. φατνώσεις ), and like lacunae, whence lacunaria, for which Jerome has here laquearia , which equally denotes the wainscot ceiling. Abulwalîd glosses the word rightly by מרזבים , gutters (from רהט , to run); only this and οἱ διάδρομοι of the Gr. Venet. is not an architectural expression, like רהיטים , which is still found in the Talm. ( vid., Buxtorf's Lex.). To suppose a transposition from חריטנו , from חרט , to turn, to carve (Ew., Heiligst., Hitz.), is accordingly not necessary. As the ת in בּרותים belongs to the North Palest. (Galilean) form of speech,
(Note: Pliny, H. N. xxiv. 102, ed. Jan., notes brathy as the name of the savin-tree Juniperus sabina. Wetstein is inclined to derive the name of Beirut from ברות , as the name of the sweet pine, the tree peculiar to the Syrian landscape, and which, growing on the sandy hills, prevents the town from being filled with flying sand. The cypress is now called (Arab.) sanawbar ; regarding its old names, and their signification in the figurative language of love, vid., under Isaiah 41:19.)
so also ח for ה in this word: an exchange of the gutturals was characteristic of the Galilean idiom ( vid., Talm. citations by Frankel, Einl. in d. jerus. Talm. 1870, 7 b). Well knowing that a mere hut was not suitable for the king, Shulamith's fancy converts one of the magnificent nature-temples of the North Palest. forest-solitudes into a house where, once together, they will live each for the other. Because it is a large house, although not large by art, she styles it by the poet. plur. bāattenu . The mystical interpretation here finds in Isaiah 60:13 a favourable support.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 1". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent