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1a Lo, thou art fair, my friend! yes, thou art fair!
Thine eyes are doves behind thy veil.
The Gr. Venet. translates, after Kimchi, “looking out from behind, thy hair flowing down from thy head like a mane.” Thus also Schultens, capillus plexus ; and Hengst., who compares πλέγμα , 1 Timothy 2:9, and ἐμπλοκὴ τριχῶν , 1 Peter 3:3, passages which do not accord with the case of Shulamith; but neither צמם , Arab. ṣmm , nor ṭmm signifies to plait; the latter is used of the hair when it is too abundant, and ready for the shears. To understand the hair as denoted here, is, moreover, inadmissible, inasmuch as מבעד cannot be used of the eyes in relation to the braids of hair hanging before them. Symm. rightly translates צמה by κάλυμμα veil (in the Song the lxx erroneously renders by σιωπήσεως behind thy silence), Isaiah 47:2. The verb צמם , (Arab.) ṣmam , a stopper, and (Arab.) alṣamma , a plaid in which one veils himself, when he wraps it around him.
(Note: Regarding this verbal stem and its derivatives, see Theé's Schlafgemach der Phantasie, pp. 102-105.)
The veil is so called, as that which closely hides the face. In the Aram. צמם , Palp. צמצם , means directly to veil, as e.g., Bereshith rabba c. 45, extr., of a matron whom the king lets pass before him it is said, פניה צימצמה . Shulamith is thus veiled. As the Roman bride wore the velum flammeum , so also the Jewish bride was deeply veiled; cf. Genesis 24:65, where Rebecca veiled herself (Lat. nubit ) before her betrothed. בּעד , constr. בּעד , a segolate noun, which denotes separation, is a prep. in the sense of pone, as in Arab. in that of post. Ewald, sec. 217 m, supposes, contrary to the Arab., the fundamental idea of covering (cogn. בגד ); but that which surrounds is thought of as separating, and at the same time as covering, the thing which it encompasses. From behind her veil, which covered her face ( vid., Bachmann, under Judges 3:23), her eyes gleam out, which, without needing to be supplemented by ` עיני , are compared, as to their colour, motion, and lustre, to a pair of doves.
From the eyes the praise passes to the hair.
1b Thy hair is like a flock of goats
Which repose downwards on Mount Gilead.
The hair of the bride's head was uncovered. We know from later times that she wore in it a wreath of myrtles and roses, or also a “golden city” ( עיר שׁל זהב ), i.e., an ornament which emblematically represented Jerusalem. To see that this comparison is not incongruous, we must know that sheep in Syria and Palestine are for the most part white; but goats, for the most part, black, or at least dark coloured, as e.g., the brown gedi Mamri.
(Note: Burns, the Scottish poet, thinking that goats are white, transfers the comparison from the hair to the teeth:
“Her teeth are like a flock of sheep,
With fleeces newly washen clean,
That slowly mount the rising steep;
And she's twa glancin', sparklin' een.”)
The verb גּלשׁ is the Arab. jls , which signifies, to rest upon; and is distinguished from the synon. q'd in this, that the former is used of him who has previously lain down; the latter, of one who first stands and then sits down.
(Note: Ḳ'ad cannot be used of one who sits on the bed farash ; in jalas lies the direction from beneath to above; in ḳ'ad (properly, to heap together, to cower down), from above to beneath.)
The nejd bears also the name jals , as the high land raising itself, and like a dome sitting above the rest of the land. One has to think of the goats as having lain down, and thus with the upper parts of their bodies as raised up. מן in מהר is used almost as in מדּלי מר , Isaiah 40:15. A flock of goats encamped on a mountain (rising up, to one looking from a distance, as in a steep slope, and almost perpendicularly), and as if hanging down lengthwise on its sides, presents a lovely view adorning the landscape. Solomon likens to this the appearance of the locks of his beloved, which hang down over her shoulders. She was till now a shepherdess, therefore a second rural image follows:
2 Thy teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep
Which comes up from the washing
All bearing twins,
And a bereaved one is not among them.
The verb קצב is, as the Arab. shows, in the sense of tondere oves, the synon. of גּזז . With shorn (not to be shorn) sheep, the teeth in regard to their smoothness, and with washed sheep in regard to their whiteness, are compared - as a rule the sheep of Palestine are white; in respect of their full number, in which in pairs they correspond to one another, the one above to the one below, like twin births in which there is no break. The parallel passage, Song of Solomon 6:6, omits the point of comparison of the smoothness. That some days after the shearing the sheep were bathed, is evident from Columella 7:4. Regarding the incorrect exchange of mas. with fem. forms, vid., under Song of Solomon 2:7. The part. Hiph. מתאימות (cf. διδυματόκος , Theocr. i. 25) refers to the mothers, none of which has lost a twin of the pair she had borne. In “which come up from the washing,” there is perhaps thought of, at the same time with the whiteness, the saliva dentium . The moisture of the saliva, which heightens the glance of the teeth, is frequently mentioned in the love-songs of Mutenebbi, Hariri, and Deschami. And that the saliva of a clean and sound man is not offensive, is seen from this, that the Lord healed a blind man by means of His spittle.
The mouth is next praised:
3a Like a thread of crimson thy lips,
And thy mouth is lovely,
As distinguished from red-purple, ארגּמן שׁני (properly, shining, glistening; for this form has an active signification, like נקי , as well as a passive, like עני ) - fully, שׁני תּולעת - signifies the kermes or worm-colour; the karmese, the red juice of the cochineal. מדבּרך מדבּריך ) is translated by the lxx “thy speech;” Jerome, eloquium ; and the Venet. “thy dialogue;” but that would be expressed, though by a ἁπ . λεγ ., by מדבּר דבּוּרך is here the name of the mouth, the naming of which one expects; the preform. is the mem instrumenti : the mouth, as the instrument of speech, as the organ by which the soul expresses itself in word and in manner of speech. The poet needed for פּיך a fuller, more select word; just as in Syria the nose is not called anf , but minchâr (from nachara , to blow, to breathe hard).
Praise of her temples.
3b Like a piece of pomegranate thy temples
Behind thy veil.
רקּה is the thin piece of the skull on both sides of the eyes; Lat., mostly in the plur., tempora ; German, schläfe , from schlaff , loose, slack, i.e., weak = רק . The figure points to that soft mixing of colours which makes the colouring of the so-called carnation one of the most difficult accomplishments in the art of painting. The half of a cut pomegranate (Jer. fragmen mali punici ) is not meant after its outer side, as Zöckler supposes, for he gives to the noun rǎkkā , contrary to Judges 4:21; Judges 5:26, the meaning of cheek, a meaning which it has not, but after its inner side, which presents
(Note: The interior of a pomegranate is divided by tough, leather-like white or yellow skins, and the divisions are filled with little berries, in form and size like those of the grape, in the juicy inside of which little, properly, seed-corns, are found. The berries are dark red, or also pale red. The above comparison points to the mixing of these two colours.)
a red mixed and tempered with the ruby colour, - a figure so much the more appropriate, since the ground-colour of Shulamith's countenance is a subdued white.
(Note: The Moslem erotic poets compare the division of the lips to the dividing cleft into a pomegranate.)
Up to this point the figures are borrowed from the circle of vision of a shepherdess. Now the king derives them from the sphere of his own experience as the ruler of a kingdom. She who has eyes like doves is in form like a born queen.
4 Like the tower of David thy neck,
Built in terraces;
Thereon a thousand shields hang,
All the armour of heroes.
The tower of David, is, as it appears, “the tower of the flock,” Micah 4:4, from which David surveyed the flock of his people. In Nehemiah 3:25. it is called the “tower which lieth out from the king's high house,” i.e., not the palace, but a government house built on Zion, which served as a court of justice. But what is the meaning of the ἁπ . λεγ . תּלפּיּות ? Grätz translates: for a prospect; but the Greek τηλωπός , of which he regards תל as the Heb. abstr., is a word so rare that its introduction into the Semitic language is on that account improbable. Hengst. translates: built for hanging swords; and he sees in the word a compound of תּל (from תּלה , with which forms such as יד = jadj , שׁד = shadj , שׁל , 2 Samuel 6:7, are compared) and פּיּות ; but this latter word signifies, not swords, but edges of the (double-edged) sword; wherefore Kimchi (interpreting תּל as the constr. of תל , as אל , in בּצלאל , is of צל ) explains: an erection of sharp-cornered stones; and, moreover, the Heb. language knows no such nmm. comp. appellativa: the names of the frog, צפרדּע , and the bat, עטלּף (cf. the Beth in [Arab.] sa'lab , fox, with the added Pe), are not such; and also tsalmāveth , the shadow of death, is at a later period, for the first time, restamped
(Note: Cf. regarding such double words belonging to the more modern Semitic language, Jesurun, pp. 232-236.)
as such from the original tsalmuth (cf. Arab. zalumat = tenebrae). Gesen. obtains the same meanings; for he explains לתל by exitialibus (sc.,, armis ), from an adj. תּלפּי , from תּלף = Arab. talifa , to perish, the inf. of which, talaf , is at the present day a word synon. with halak (to perish); (Arab.) matlaf (place of going down) is, like ישׁמון , a poetic name of the wilderness. The explanation is acceptable but hazardous, since neither the Heb. nor the Aram. shows a trace of this verb; and it is thus to be given up, if תלף can be referred to a verbal stem to be found in the Heb. and Aram. This is done in Ewald's explanation, to which also Böttcher and Rödig. give the preference: built for close (crowded) troops (so, viz., that many hundreds or thousands find room therein); the (Arab.) verb aff , to wrap together (opp. nashar , to unfold), is used of the packing together of multitudes of troops ( liff , plur. lufuf ), and also of warlike hand-to-hand conflicts; תלף would be traced to a verb לפה synon. therewith, after the form תּאניּה . But if תלף were meant of troops, then they would be denoted as the garrison found therein, and it would not be merely said that the tower was built for such; for the point of comparison would then be, the imposing look of the neck, overpowering by the force of the impression proceeding from within. But now, in the Aram., and relatively in the Talm. Heb., not only לפף and לוּף occur, but also לפי (Af. אלפי ), and that in the sense of enclosure, i.e., of joining together, the one working into the other, - e.g., in the Targ.: of the curtain of the tabernacle ( בּית לופי , place of the joining together = חברת or מחבּרת of the Heb. text); and in the Talm.: of the roofs of two houses ( Bathra 6 a, לוּפתּא , the joining)
(Note: The Arab. lafa , vi., proceeding from the same root-idea, signifies to bring in something again, to bring in again, to seek to make good again.).
Accordingly לתלף , if we interpret the Lamed not of the definition, but of the norm, may signify, “in ranks together.” The Lamed has already been thus rendered by Döderl.: “in turns” (cf. לפת , to turn, to wind); and by Meier, Mr.: “in gradation;” and Aq. and Jerome also suppose that תלף refers to component parts of the building itself, for they understand
(Note: Vid., also Lagarde's Onomastica, p. 202: Θαλπιὼθ ἐπάλξη (read εἰς ) ἤ ὑψηλά .)
pinnacles or parapets ( ἐπάλξεις , propugnacula); as also the Venet.: εἰς ἐπάλξεις χιλίας . But the name for pinnacles is פּנּהּ , and their points, שׁמשׁות ; while, on the contrary, תלף is the more appropriate name for terraces which, connected together, rise the one above the other. Thus to build towers like terraces, and to place the one, as it were, above the other, was a Babylonian custom.
(Note: Vid., Oppert's Grundzüge der Assyr. Kunst (1872), p. 11.)
The comparison lies in this, that Shulamith's neck was surrounded with ornaments so that it did not appear as a uniform whole, but as composed of terraces. That the neck is represented as hung round with ornaments, the remaining portion of the description shows.
מגן signifies a shield, as that which protects, like clupeus ( clypeus), perhaps connected with καλύπτειν and שׁלט , from שׁלט = (Arab.) shalita , as a hard impenetrable armour. The latter is here the more common word, which comprehends, with מגן , the round shield; also צנּה , the oval shield, which covers the whole body; and other forms of shields. המּגן אלף , “the thousand shields,” has the indicative, if not ( vid., under Song of Solomon 1:11) the generic article. The appositional כּל שׁלטי הגּ is not intended to mean: all shields of ( von) heroes, which it would if the article were prefixed to col and omitted before gibborim, or if כּלם , Song of Solomon 3:8, were used; but it means: all the shields of heroes, as the accentuation also indicates. The article is also here significant. Solomon made, according to 1 Kings 10:16., 200 golden targets and 300 golden shields, which he put in the house of the forest of Lebanon. These golden shields Pharaoh Shishak took away with him, and Rehoboam replaced them by “shields of brass,” which the guards bore when they accompanied the king on his going into the temple (1 Kings 14:26-28; cf. 2 Chronicles 12:9-11); these “shields of David,” i.e., shields belonging to the king's house, were given to the captains of the guard on the occasion of the raising of Joash to the throne, 2 Kings 11:10; cf. 2 Chronicles 23:9. Of these brazen shields, as well as of those of gold, it is expressly said how and where they were kept, nowhere that they were hung up outside on a tower, the tower of David. Such a display of the golden shields is also very improbable. We will perhaps have to suppose that 4 b describes the tower of David, not as it actually was, but as one has to represent it to himself, that it might be a figure of Shulamith's neck. This is compared to the terraced tower of David, if one thinks of it as hung round by a thousand shields which the heroes bore, those heroes, namely, who formed the king's body-guard. Thus it is not strange that to the 200 + 300 golden shields are here added yet 500 more; the body-guard, reckoned in companies of 100 each, 2 Kings 11:4, is estimated as consisting of 1000 men. The description, moreover, corresponds with ancient custom. The words are עליו תּלוּי , not בּו תּלוּי ; the outer wall of the tower is thought of as decorated with shields hung upon it. That shields were thus hung round on tower-walls, Ezekiel shows in his prophecy regarding Tyre, Ezekiel 27:11; cf. 1 Macc. 4:57, and supra foris Capitolinae aedis , Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxxv. 3; and although we express the presumption that Solomon's imagination represented David's tower as more gorgeous than it actually was, yet we must confess that we are not sufficiently acquainted with Solomon's buildings to be able to pass judgment on this. These manifold inexplicable references of the Song to the unfolded splendour of Solomon's reign, are favourable to the Solomonic authorship of the book. This grandiose picture of the distinguished beauty of the neck, and the heightening of this beauty by the ornament of chains, is now followed by a beautiful figure, which again goes back to the use of the language of shepherds, and terminates the description:
5 Thy two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle,
Which feed among lilies.
The dual, originating in the inner differ. of the plur., which denotes in Heb. not two things of any sort, but two paired by nature or by art, exists only in the principal form; שׁדים , as soon as inflected, is unrecognisable, therefore here, where the pair as such is praised, the word שׁני is used. The breasts are compared to a twin pair of young gazelles in respect of their equality and youthful freshness, and the bosom on which they raise themselves is compared to a meadow covered with lilies, on which the twin-pair of young gazelles feed. With this tender lovely image the praise of the attractions of the chosen one is interrupted.
If one counts the lips and the mouth as a part of the body, which they surely are, there are seven things here praised, as Hengst. rightly counts (the eyes, the hair, teeth, mouth, temples, neck, breasts); and Hahn speaks with right of the sevenfold beauty of the bride.
Shulamith replies to these words of praise:
6 Until the day cools and the shadows flee,
I will go forth to the mountain of myrrh
And to the hill of frankincense.
All those interpreters who suppose these to be a continuation of Solomon's words, lose themselves in absurdities. Most of them understand the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense of Shulamith's attractions, praised in Song of Solomon 4:5, or of her beauty as a whole; but the figures would be grotesque (cf. on the other hand Song of Solomon 5:13), and אל לי אלך prosaic, wherefore it comes that the idea of betaking oneself away connects itself with לו הלך (Genesis 12:1; Exodus 18:27), or that it yet preponderates therein (Genesis 22:2; Jeremiah 5:5), and that, for לי אלך in the passage before us in reference to Song of Solomon 2:10-11, the supposition holds that it will correspond with the French jè m'en irai . With right Louis de Leon sees in the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense names of shady and fragrant places; but he supposes that Solomon says he wishes to go thither to enjoy a siesta, and that he invites Shulamith thither. But we read nothing of this invitation; and that a bridegroom should sleep a part of his marriage-day is yet more unnatural than that, e.g., Wilh. Budäus, the French philologist, spent a part of the same at work in his study. That not Solomon but Shulamith speaks here is manifest in the beginning, “until the day,” etc., which at Song of Solomon 2:17 are also Shulamith's words. Anton (1773) rightly remarks, “Shulamith says this to set herself free.” But why does she seek to make herself free? It is answered, that she longs to be forth from Solomon's too ardent eulogies; she says that, as soon as it is dark, she will escape to the blooming aromatic fields of her native home, where she hopes to meet with her beloved shepherd. Thus, e.g., Ginsburg (1868). But do myrrh and frankincense grow in North Palestine? Ginsburg rests on Florus' Epitome Rerum Rom. iii. 6, where Pompey the Great is said to have passed over Lebanon and by Damascus “ per nemora illa odorata, per thuris et balsami sylvas .” But by these thuris et balsami sylvae could be meant only the gardens of Damascus; for neither myrrh nor frankincense is indigenous to North Palestine, or generally to any part of Palestine. Friedrich (1866) therefore places Shulamith's home at Engedi, and supposes that she here once more looks from the window and dotes on the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense, “where, at the approach of twilight, she was wont to look out for her betrothed shepherd.” But Shulamith, as her name already denotes, is not from the south, but is a Galilean, and her betrothed shepherd is from Utopia! That myrrh and frankincense were planted in the gardens of Engedi is possible, although (Song of Solomon 1:14) mention is made only of the Al-henna there. But here places in the neighbourhood of the royal palace must be meant; for the myrrh tree, the gum of which, prized as an aroma, is the Arab. Balsamodendron Myrrha, and the frankincense tree, the resin of which is used for incense, is, like the myrrh tree, an Arab. amyrid . The Boswellia serrata,
(Note: Lassen's Ind. Alterthumskunde, I 334.)
indigenous to the East Indies, furnishes the best frankincense; the Israelites bought it from Sheba (Isaiah 60:6; Jeremiah 6:20). The myrrh tree as well as the frankincense tree were thus exotics in Palestine, as they are in our own country; but Solomon, who had intercourse with Arabia and India by his own mercantile fleet, procured them for his own garden (Ecclesiastes 2:5). The modest Shulamith shuns the loving words of praise; for she requests that she may be permitted to betake herself to the lonely places planted with myrrh and frankincense near the king's palace, where she thinks to tarry in a frame of mind befitting this day till the approaching darkness calls her back to the king. It is the importance of the day which suggests to her this לי אלך , a day in which she enters into the covenant of her God with Solomon (Proverbs 2:17). Without wishing to allegorize, we may yet not omit to observe, that the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense put us in mind of the temple, where incense, composed of myrrh, frankincense, and other spices, ascended up before God every morning and evening (Exodus 30:34.). המּור הר is perhaps a not unintentional accord to הר המּוריּה (2 Chronicles 3:1), the mountain where God appeared; at all events, “mountain of myrrh” and “hill of frankincense” are appropriate names for places of devout meditation, where one holds fellowship with God.
This childlike modest disposition makes her yet more lovely in the eyes of the king. He breaks out in these words:
7 Thou art altogether fair, my love,
And no blemish in thee.
Certainly he means, no blemish either of soul or body. In Song of Solomon 4:1-5 he has praised her external beauty; but in Song of Solomon 4:6 her soul has disclosed itself: the fame of her spotless beauty is there extended to her would no less than to her external appearance. And as to her longing after freedom from the tumult and bustle of court life, he thus promises to her:
8 With me from Lebanon, my bride,
With me from Lebanon shalt thou come;
Shalt look from the top of Amana,
From the top of Shenir and Hermon,
From dens of lions,
From mountains of leopards.
Zצckl. interprets אתּי in the sense of אלי , and תּשׁוּרי in the sense of journeying to this definite place: “he announces to her in overflowing fulness of expression that from this time forth, instead of the lonely mountainous regions, and the dangerous caves and dens, she shall inhabit with him the royal palace.” Thus also Kingsbury. But the interpretation, however plausible, cannot be supported. For (1) such an idea ought to be expressed either by תב אלי or by תשׁבי ואתּי תב , instead of אתּי תּב ; (2) Shulamith is not from Lebanon, nor from the Anti-Libanus, which looks toward Damascus; (3) this would be no answer to Shulamith's longing for lonely quietness. We therefore hold by our explanation given in 1851. He seeks her to go with him up the steep heights of Lebanon, and to descend with him from thence; for while ascending the mountain one has no view before him, but when descending he has the whole panorama of the surrounding region lying at his feet. Thus תשׁ is not to be understood as at Isaiah 57:9, where it has the meaning of migrabas, but, as at Numbers 23:9, it means spectabis. With מר the idea of prospect lies nearer than that of descending; besides, the meaning spectare is secondary, for שׁוּר signifies first “to go, proceed, journey,” and then “going to view, to go in order to view.” Sêr in Arab. means “the scene,” and sêr etmek in Turkish, “to contemplate” (cf. Arab. tamashy , to walk, then, to contemplate). Lebanon is the name of the Alpine range which lies in the N.-W. of the Holy Land, and stretches above 20 (German) miles from the Leontes ( Nahr el-Kasmîe) northwards to the Eleutheros ( Nahr el-Kebîr). The other three names here found refer to the Anti-Libanus separated from the Lebanon by the Coelo-Syrian valley, and stretching from the Banis northwards to the plain of Hamâth.
Amana denotes that range of the Anti-Libanus from which the springs of the river Amana issue, one of the two rivers which the Syrian captain (2 Kings 5:12) named as better than all the waters of Israel. These are the Amana and Pharpar, i.e., the Baradâ and A'wadsh; to the union of the Baradâ (called by the Greeks Chrysorrhoas, i.e., “golden stream”) with the Feidshe, the environs of Damascus owe their ghuwdat , their paradisaical beauty.
Hermon (from חרם , to cut of; cf. Arab. kharom and makhrim , the steep projection of a mountain) is the most southern peak of the Anti-Libanus chain, the lofty mountains (about 10, 000 feet above the level of the sea) which form the north-eastern border of Palestine, and from which the springs of the Jordan take their rise.
Another section of the Anti-Libanus range is called Senir, not Shenir. The name, in all the three places where it occurs (Deuteronomy 3:9; 1 Chronicles 5:23), is, in accordance with tradition, to be written with Sin. The Onkelos Targum writes סריון ; the Jerusalem paraphrases, טורא דמסרי פירוי (the mountain whose fruits become putrid, viz., on account of their superabundance); the Midrash explains otherwise: שהוא שובא הניר (the mountain which resists being broken up by the plough), - everywhere the writing of the word with the letter Sin is supposed. According to Deuteronomy 3:9, this was the Amorite name of Hermon. The expression then denotes that the Amorites called Hermon - i.e., the Anti-Libanus range, for they gave the name of a part to the whole range - by the name Senîr; Abulfeda uses Arab. snîr as the name of the part to the north of Damascus, with which the statement of Schwarz ( Das h. Land, p. 33) agrees, that the Hermon (Anti-Libanus) to the north-west of Damascus is called Senîr.
נמרים , panthers, to the present day inhabit the clefts and defiles of the Lebanon, and of the Anti-Libanus running parallel to it; whereas lions have now altogether disappeared from the countries of the Mediterranean. In Solomon's time they were to be met with in the lurking-places of the Jordan valley, and yet more frequently in the remote districts of the northern Alpine chains. From the heights of these Alps Solomon says Shulamith shall alone with him look down from where the lions and panthers dwell. Near these beasts of prey, and yet inaccessible by them, shall she enjoy the prospect of the extensive pleasant land which was subject to the sceptre of him who held her safe on these cliffs, and accompanied her over these giddy heights. If “mountain of myrrh,” so also “the top of Amana” is not without subordinate reference. Amana, proceeding from the primary idea of firmness and verification, signifies fidelity and the faithful covenant as it is established between God and the congregation, for He betrothes it to Himself b'mwnh (“in faithfulness”), Hosea 2:22 ; the congregation of which the apostle (Ephesians 5:27) says the same as is here said by Solomon of Shulamith. Here for the first time he calls her כלה , not כּלּתי ; for that, according to the usus loq., would mean “my daughter-in-law.” Accordingly, it appears that the idea of “daughter-in-law” is the primary, and that of “bride” the secondary one. כּלה , which is = כּלוּלה , as חלּה , a cake, is = חלוּלה , that which is pierced through (cf. כּלוּלות , being espoused; Jeremiah 2:2), appears to mean
(Note: L. Geiger's Ursprung d. Sprach. p. 227; cf. 88.)
(cf. what was said regarding חתן under Song of Solomon 3:11) her who is comprehended with the family into which, leaving her parents' house, she enters; not her who is embraced = crowned with a garland (cf. Arab. qkll , to be garlanded; tēklîl , garlanding; iklil , Syr. kelilo , a wreath), or her who is brought to completion (cf. the verb, Ezekiel 27:4, Ezekiel 27:11), i.e., has reached the goal of her womanly calling. Besides, כּלה , like “ Braut ” in the older German ( e.g., Gudrun ), means not only her who is betrothed, but also her who has been lately married.
All that the king calls his, she now can call hers; for she has won his heart, and with his heart himself and all that is his.
9 Thou hast taken my heart, my sister-bride;
Thou hast taken my heart with one of thy glances,
With a little chain of thy necklace.
The Piel לבּב may mean to make courageous, and it actually has this meaning in the Aram., wherefore the Syr. retains the word; Symm. renders it by ἐθάρσυνάς με . But is it becoming in a man who is no coward, especially in a king, to say that the love he cherishes gives him heart, i.e., courage? It might be becoming, perhaps, in a warrior who is inspired by the thought of his beloved, whose respect and admiration he seeks to gain, to dare the uttermost. But Solomon is no Antar, no wandering knight.
(Note: A specimen of Böttcher's interpretation: “What is more natural than to suppose that the keeper of a vineyard showed herself with half of her head and neck exposed at the half-opened window to her shepherd on his first attempt to set her free, when he cried, 'my dove in the clefts of the rocks,' etc., and animated him thereby to this present bold deliverance of her from the midst of robbers?” We pity the Shulamitess, that she put her trust in this moonshiny coward.)
Besides, the first effect of love is different: it influences those whom it governs, not as encouraging, in the first instance, but as disarming them; love responded to encourages, but love in its beginning, which is the subject here, overpowers. We would thus more naturally render: “thou hast unhearted me;” but “to unheart,” according to the Semitic and generally the ancient conception of the heart ( Psychol. p. 254), does not so much mean to captivate the heart, as rather to deprive of understanding or of judgment (cf. Hosea 4:11). Such denomin. Pi. of names of corporeal members signify not merely taking away, but also wounding, and generally any violent affection of it, as זנּב גּרם , Ewald, §120 c; accordingly the lxx, Venet., and Jerome: ἐκαρδίωσάς με , vulnerasti cor meum . The meaning is the same for “thou hast wounded my heart” = “thou hast subdued my heart” (cf. Psalms 45:6). With one of her glances, with a little chain of her necklace, she has overcome him as with a powerful charm: veni, visa sum, vici . The Kerı̂ changes באחד into בּאחת ; certainly עין is mostly fem. ( e.g., Judges 16:28), but not only the non-bibl. usus loq., which e.g., prefers רעה or רע עין , of a malignant bewitching look, but also the bibl. ( vid., Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10) treats the word as of double gender. ענק and צוּרנים are related to each other as a part is to the whole. With the subst. ending ôn, the designation of an ornament designed for the neck is formed from צוּאר , the neck; cf. שׂהרון , the “round tires like the moon” of the women's toilet, Isaiah 3:18. ענק (connected with אחד ענק , cervix) is a separate chain (Aram. עוּנקתא ) of this necklace. In the words ענק אחד אחד is used instead of אחד , occurring also out of genit. connection (Genesis 48:22; 2 Samuel 17:22), and the arrangement ( vid., under Psalms 89:51) follows the analogy of the pure numerals as נשׁים שׁלשׁ ; it appears to be transferred from the vulgar language to that used in books, where, besides the passage before us, it occurs only in Daniel 8:13. That a glance of the eye may pierce the heart, experience shows; but how can a little chain of a necklace do this? That also is intelligible. As beauty becomes unlike itself when the attire shows want of taste, so by means of tasteful clothing, which does not need to be splendid, but may even be of the simplest kind, it becomes mighty. Hence the charming attractive power of the impression one makes communicates itself to all that he wears, as, e.g., the woman with the issue of blood touched with joyful hope the hem of Jesus' garment; for he who loves feels the soul of that which is loved in all that stands connected therewith, all that is, as it were, consecrated and charmed by the beloved object, and operates so much the more powerfully if it adorns it, because as an ornament of that which is beautiful, it appears so much the more beautiful. In the preceding verse, Solomon has for the first time addressed Shulamith by the title “bride.” Here with heightened cordiality he calls her “sister-bride.” In this change in the address the progress of the story is mirrored. Why he does not say כּלּתי (my bride), has already been explained, under Song of Solomon 4:8, from the derivation of the word. Solomon's mother might call Shulamith callathi, but he gives to the relation of affinity into which Shulamith has entered a reference to himself individually, for he says ahhothi callaa (my sister-bride): she who as callaa of his mother is to her a kind of daughter, is as callaa in relation to himself, as it were, his sister.
He proceeds still further to praise her attractions.
10 How fair is thy love, my sister-bride!
How much better thy love than wine!
And the fragrance of thy unguents than all spices!
11 Thy lips drop honey, my bride;
Honey and milk are under thy tongue;
And the fragrance of thy garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
Regarding the connection of the pluralet. דּודים with the plur. of the pred., vid., at Song of Solomon 1:2. The pred. יפוּ praises her love in its manifestations according to its impression on the sight; טבוּ , according to its experience on nearer intercourse. As in Song of Solomon 4:9 the same power of impression is attributed to the eyes and to the necklace, so here is intermingled praise of the beauty of her person with praise of the fragrance, the odour of the clothing of the bride; for her soul speaks out not only by her lips, she breathes forth odours also for him in her spices, which he deems more fragrant than all other odours, because he inhales, as it were, her soul along with them. נפת , from נפת , ebullire ( vid., under Proverbs 5:3, also Schultens), is virgin honey, ἄκοιτον ( acetum , Pliny, xi. 15), i.e., that which of itself flows from the combs ( צוּפים ). Honey drops from the lips which he kisses; milk and honey are under the tongue which whispers to him words of pure and inward joy; cf. the contrary, Psalms 140:4. The last line is an echo of Genesis 27:27. שׂלמה is שׂמלה (from שׂמל , complicare, complecti) transposed (cf. עלנה from עולה כּשׂבּה from כּבשׂה ). As Jacob's raiment had for his old father the fragrance of a field which God had blessed, so for Solomon the garments of the faultless and pure one, fresh from the woods and mountains of the north, gave forth a heart-strengthening savour like the fragrance of Lebanon (Hosea 4:7), viz., of its fragrant herbs and trees, chiefly of the balsamic odour of the apples of the cedar.
The praise is sensuous, but it has a moral consecration.
12 A garden locked is my sister-bride;
A spring locked, a fountain sealed.
גּן (according to rule masc. Böttch. §658) denotes the garden from its enclosure; גּ (elsewhere נּלּה ere ), the fountain (synon. מבּוּע ), the waves bubbling forth (cf. Amos 5:24); and מעין , the place, as it were an eye of the earth, from which a fountain gushes forth. Luther distinguishes rightly between gan and gal; on the contrary, all the old translators (even the Venet.) render as if the word in both cases were gan. The Pasek between gan and nā'ul , and between gal and nā'ul , is designed to separate the two Nuns, as e.g., at 2 Chronicles 2:9; Nehemiah 2:2, the two Mems; it is the orthophonic Pasek, already described under Song of Solomon 2:7, which secures the independence of two similar or organically related sounds. Whether the sealed fountain ( fons signatus ) alludes to a definite fountain which Solomon had built for the upper city and the temple place,
(Note: Vid., Zschocke in the Tübinger Quartalschrift, 1867, 3.)
we do not now inquire. To a locked garden and spring no one has access but the rightful owner, and a sealed fountain is shut against all impurity. Thus she is closed against the world, and inaccessible to all that would disturb her pure heart, or desecrate her pure person.
(Note: Seal, חותם , pers. muhr, is used directly in the sense of maiden-like behaviour; vid., Perles' etymol. Studien (1871), p. 67.)
All the more beautiful and the greater is the fulness of the flowers and fruits which bloom and ripen in the garden of this life, closed against the world and its lust.
13 What sprouts forth for thee is a park of pomegranates,
With most excellent fruits;
Cypress flowers with nards;
14 Nard and crocus; calamus and cinnamon,
With all kinds of incense trees;
Myrrh and aloes,
With all the chief aromatics.
The common subject to all down to Song of Solomon 4:15 inclusive is שׁלחיך (“what sprouts for thee” = “thy plants”), as a figurative designation, borrowed from plants, of all the “phenomena and life utterances” (Böttch.) of her personality. “If I only knew here,” says Rocke, “how to disclose the meaning, certainly all these flowers and fruits, in the figurative language of the Orient, in the flower-language of love, had their beautiful interpretation.” In the old German poetry, also, the phrase bluomen brechen to break flowers was equivalent to: to enjoy love; the flowers and fruits named are figures of all that the amata offers to the amator. Most of the plants here named are exotics; פּרדּס (heaping around, circumvallation, enclosing) is a garden or park, especially with foreign ornamental and fragrant plants - an old Persian word, the explanation of which, after Spiegel, first given in our exposition of the Song, 1851 (from pairi = περί , and dêz , R. diz , a heap), has now become common property (Justi's Handb. der Zendsprache, p. 180). מגדים פּרי (from מגד , which corresponds to The Arab. mejd , praise, honour, excellence; vid., Volck under Deuteronomy 33:13) are fructus laudum, or lautitiarum, excellent precious fruits, which in the more modern language are simply called מגדים ( Shabbath 127 b, מיני מגדים , all kinds of fine fruits); cf. Syr. magdo , dried fruit. Regarding כּפר , vid., under Song of Solomon 1:14; regarding מר , under Song of Solomon 1:13; also regarding נרדּ , under Song of Solomon 1:12. The long vowel of נרדּ corresponds to the Pers. form nârd , but near to which is also nard , Indian nalada (fragrance-giving); the ē is thus only the long accent, and can therefore disappear in the plur. For נרדים , Grätz reads ירדים , roses, because the poet would not have named nard twice. The conjecture is beautiful, but for us, who believe the poem to be Solomonic, is inconsistent with the history of roses ( vid., under Song of Solomon 2:1), and also unnecessary. The description moves forward by steps rhythmically.
כּרוכם is the crocus stativus, the genuine Indian safran , the dried flower-eyes of which yield the safran used as a colour, as an aromatic, and also as medicine; safran is an Arab. word, and means yellow root and yellow colouring matter. The name כּרוכם , Pers. karkam , Arab. karkum , is radically Indian, Sanscr. kunkuma . קנה , a reed (from קנה , R. qn, to rise up, viewed intrans.),
(Note: In this general sense of “reed” (Syn. arundo ) the word is also found in the Gr. and Lat.: κάνναι ( κάναι ), reed-mats, κάνεον κάναστρον , a wicker basket, canna , canistrum , without any reference to an Indo-Germ. verbal stem, and without acquiring the specific signification of an aromatic plant.)
viz., sweet reed, acorus calamus, which with us now grows wild in marshes, but is indigenous to the Orient.
קנּמנן is the laurus cinnamomum, a tree indigenous to the east coast of Africa and Ceylon, and found later also on the Antilles. It is of the family of the laurineae, the inner bark of which, peeled off and rolled together, is the cinnamon-bark ( cannella, French cannelle ); Aram. קוּנמא , as also the Greek κιννάμοομον and κίνναμον , Lat. ( e.g., in the 12th book of Pliny) cinnamomum and cinnamum , are interchanged, from קנם , probably a secondary formation from קנה (like בּם , whence בּמה , from בּא ), to which also Syr. qenûmā' , ὑπόστασις , and the Talm.-Targ. קנּוּם קונם , an oath (cf. קים ), go back, so that thus the name which was brought to the west by the Phoenicians denoted not the tree, but the reed-like form of the rolled dried bark. As “nards” refer to varieties of the nard, perhaps to the Indian and the Jamanic spoken of by Strabo and others, so “all kinds of incense trees” refers definitely to Indo-Arab. varieties of the incense tree and its fragrant resin; it has its name fro the white and transparent seeds of this its resin (cf. Arab. lubân , incense and benzoin, the resin of the storax tree, לבנה ); the Greek λίβανος , λιβανωτός (Lat. thus, frankincense, from θύω ), is a word derived from the Pheonicians.
אהלות or אהלים (which already in a remarkable way was used by Balaam, Numbers 24:6, elsewhere only since the time of Solomon) is the Semitized old Indian name of the aloe, agaru or aguru ; that which is aromatic is the wood of the aloe-tree ( aloëxylon agallochum), particularly its dried root ( agallochum or lignum aloës, ξυλαλόη , according to which the Targ. here: אלואין אכסיל , after the phrase in Aruch) mouldered in the earth, which chiefly came from farther India.
(Note: Vid., Lassen's Ind. Alterthumsk. I 334f. Furrer, in Schenkel's Bib. Lex., understands אהלות of the liliaceae, indigenous to Palestine as to Arabia, which is also called aloë. But the drastic purgative which the succulent leaves of this plant yield is not aromatic, and the verb אחל “to glisten,” whence he seeks to derive the name of this aloe, is not proved. Cf. besides, the Petersburg Lex. under aguru (“not difficult”), according to which is this name of the amyris agallocha, and the aquilaria agallocha, but of no liliaceae. The name Adlerholz (“eagle-wood”) rests on a misunderstanding of the name of the Agila tree. It is called “ Paradiesholz,” because it must have been one of the paradise trees ( vid., Bereshith rabba under Genesis 2:8). Dioskorides says of this wood: θυμιᾶται ἀντὶ λιβανωτοῦ ; the Song therefore places it along with myrrh and frankincense. That which is common to the lily-aloe and the wood-aloe, is the bitter taste of the juice of the former and of the resinous wood of the latter. The Arab. name of the aloe, ṣabir , is also given to the lily-aloe. The proverbs: amarru min eṣ - ṣabir , bitterer than the aloe, and es - sabr sabir , patience is the aloe, refer to the aloe-juice.)
עם , as everywhere, connects things contained together or in any way united (Song of Solomon 5:1; cf. Song of Solomon 1:11, as Psalms 87:4; cf. 1 Samuel 16:12). The concluding phrase וגו כּל־ר , cum praestantissimis quibusque aromatibus , is a poet. et cetera. ראשׁ , with the gen. of the object whose value is estimated, denotes what is of meilleure qualité; or, as the Talm. says, what is אלפא , ἄλφα , i.e., number one. Ezek; Ezekiel 27:22, in a similar sense, says, “with chief ( ראשׁ ) of all spices.”
The panegyric returns now once more to the figure of a fountain.
15 A garden-fountain, a well of living water,
And torrents from Lebanon.
The tertium compar. in Song of Solomon 4:12 was the collecting and sealing up; here, it is the inner life and its outward activity. A fountain in gardens ( גּנּים , categ. pl.) is put to service for the benefit of the beds of plants round about, and it has in these gardens, as it were, its proper sphere of influence. A well of living water is one in which that which is distributes springs up from within, so that it is indeed given to it, but not without at the same time being its own true property. נזל is related, according to the Semitic usus loq., to אזל , as “ niedergehen ” (to go down) to “ weggehen ” (to go away) ( vid., Proverbs 5:15); similarly related are (Arab.) sar , to go, and sal (in which the letter ra is exchanged for lam, to express the softness of the liquid), to flow, whence syl ( sêl ), impetuous stream, rushing water, kindred in meaning to נזלים . Streams which come from Lebanon have a rapid descent, and (so far as they do not arise in the snow region) the water is not only fresh, but clear as crystal. All these figures understood sensuously would be insipid; but understood ethically, they are exceedingly appropriate, and are easily interpreted, so that the conjecture is natural, that on the supposition of the spiritual interpretation of the Song, Jesus has this saying in His mind when He says that streams of living water shall flow “out of the belly” of the believer, John 7:38.
The king's praise is for Shulamith proof of his love, which seeks a response. But as she is, she thinks herself yet unworthy of him; her modesty says to her that she needs preparation for him, preparation by that blowing which is the breath of God in the natural and in the spiritual world.
16 Awake, thou North (wind), and come, thou South!
Blow through my garden, cause its spices to flow -
Let my beloved come into his garden,
And eat the fruits which are precious to him.
The names of the north and south, denoting not only the regions of the heavens, but also the winds blowing from these regions, are of the fem. gender, Isaiah 43:6. The east wind, קדים , is purposely not mentioned; the idea of that which is destructive and adverse is connected with it ( vid., under Job 27:21). The north wind brings cold till ice is formed, Sir. 43:20; and if the south wind blow, it is hot, Luke 12:55. If cold and heat, coolness and sultriness, interchange at the proper time, then growth is promoted. And if the wind blow through a garden at one time from this direction and at another from that, - not so violently as when it shakes the trees of the forest, but softly and yet as powerfully as a garden can bear it, - then all the fragrance of the garden rises in waves, and it becomes like a sea of incense. The garden itself then blows, i.e., emits odours; for ( פּח = the Arab. fakh , fah , cf. fawh , pl. afwâh , sweet odours, fragrant plants) as in היּום רוּח , Genesis 3:8, the idea underlies the expression, that when it is evening the day itself blows, i.e., becomes cool, the causative הפיחי , connected with the object-accus. of the garden, means to make the garden breezy and fragrant. נזל is here used of the odours which, set free as it were from the plants, flow out, being carried forth by the waves of air. Shulamith wishes that in her all that is worthy of love should be fully realized. What had to be done for Esther (Esther 2:12) before she could be brought in to the king, Shulamith calls on the winds to accomplish for her, which are, as it were, the breath of the life of all nature, and as such, of the life-spirit, which is the sustaining background of all created things. If she is thus prepared for him who loves her, and whom she loves, he shall come into his garden and enjoy the precious fruit belonging to him. With words of such gentle tenderness, childlike purity, she gives herself to her beloved.
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 4". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 8 / Ordinary 13