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1 a How beautiful are thy steps in the shoes,
O prince's daughter!
The noun נדיב , which signifies noble in disposition, and then noble by birth and rank (cf. the reverse relation of the meanings in generosus ), is in the latter sense synon. and parallel to מלך and שׂר ; Shulamith is here called a prince's daughter because she was raised to the rank of which Hannah, 1 Samuel 2:8, cf. Psalms 113:8, speaks, and to which she herself, 6:12 points. Her beauty, from the first associated with unaffected dignity, now appears in native princely grace and majesty. פּעם (from פּעם , pulsare , as in nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus ) signifies step and foot, - in the latter sense the poet. Heb. and the vulgar Phoen. word for רגל ; here the meanings pes and passus (Fr. pas , dance-step) flow into each other. The praise of the spectators now turns from the feet of the dancer to her thighs:
1 b The vibration of thy thighs like ornamental chains,
The work of an artist's hands.
The double-sided thighs, viewed from the spine and the lower part of the back, are called מתנים ; from the upper part of the legs upwards, and the breast downwards (the lumbar region), thus seen on the front and sidewise, חלצים or ירכים . Here the manifold twistings and windings of the upper part of the body by means of the thigh-joint are meant; such movements of a circular kind are called חמּוּקים , from חמק , Song of Solomon 5:6. חלאים is the plur. of חלי = (Arab.) ḥaly , as חבאים (gazelles) of צבי = zaby . The sing. חלי (or חליה = Arab. hulyah ) signifies a female ornament, consisting of gold, silver, or precious stones, and that (according to the connection, Proverbs 25:2; Hosea 2:15) for the neck or the breast as a whole; the plur. חל , occurring only here, is therefore chosen because the bendings of the loins, full of life and beauty, are compared to the free swingings to and fro of such an ornament, and thus to a connected ornament of chains; for חם are not the beauty-curves of the thighs at rest, - the connection here requires movement. In accordance with the united idea of חל , the appos. is not מעשׂי , but (according to the Palestin.) מעשׂה (lxx, Targ., Syr., Venet.). The artist is called אמּן ( ommân ) (the forms אמן and אמן are also found), Syr. avmon , Jewish-Aram. אוּמן ; he has, as the master of stability, a name like ימין , the right hand: the hand, and especially the right hand, is the artifex among the members.
(Note: Vid., Ryssel's Die Syn. d. Wahren u. Guten in d. Sem. Spr. (1873), p. 12.)
The eulogists pass from the loins to the middle part of the body. In dancing, especially in the Oriental style of dancing, which is the mimic representation of animated feeling, the breast and the body are raised, and the forms of the body appear through the clothing.
2 Thy navel is a well-rounded basin -
Let not mixed wine be wanting to it
Thy body is a heap of wheat,
Set round with lilies.
In interpreting these words, Hitzig proceeds as if a “voluptuary” were here speaking. He therefore changes שׁררך into שׁררך , “thy pudenda.” But (1) it is no voluptuary who speaks here, and particularly not a man, but women who speak; certainly, above all, it is the poet, who would not, however, be so inconsiderate as to put into the mouths of women immodest words which he could use if he wished to represent the king as speaking. Moreover (2) שׁר = (Arab.) surr , secret (that which is secret; in Arab. especially referred to the pudenda, both of man and woman), is a word that is
(Note: Vid., Tebrîzi, in my work entitled Jud.-Arab. Poesien, u.s.w. (1874), p. 24.)
foreign to the Heb. language, which has for “ Geheimnis ” secret the corresponding word סוד ( vid., under Psalms 2:2; Psalms 25:14), after the root-signification of its verbal stem (viz., to be firm, pressed together); and (3) the reference - preferred by Döpke, Magnus, Hahn, and others, also without any change of punctuation - of שׁר to the interfeminium mulieris , is here excluded by the circumstance that the attractions of a woman dancing, as they unfold themselves, are here described. Like the Arab. surr , שׁר (= shurr ), from שׁרר , to bind fast, denotes properly the umbilical cord, Ezekiel 16:4, and then the umbilical scar. Thus, Proverbs 3:8, where most recent critics prefer, for לשׁרּך , to read, but without any proper reason, לשׁרך לשׁארך , “to thy flesh,” the navel comes there into view as the centre of the body, - which it always is with new-born infants, and is almost so with grown-up persons in respect of the length of the body, - and as, indeed, the centre. whence the pleasurable feeling of health diffuses its rays of heat. This middle and prominent point of the abdomen shows itself in one lightly clad and dancing when she breathes deeply, even through the clothing; and because the navel commonly forms a little funnel-like hollow (Böttch.: in the form almost of a whirling hollow in the water, as one may see in nude antique statues), therefore the daughters of Jerusalem compare Shulamith's navel to a “basin of roundness,” i.e., which has this general property, and thus belongs to the class of things that are round. אגּן does not mean a Becher (a cup), but a Bechen (basin), pelvis; properly a washing basin, ijjanah (from אגן = ajan , to full, to wash = כּבּס ); then a sprinkling basin, Exodus 24:6; and generally a basin, Isaiah 22:24; here, a mixing basin, in which wine was mingled with a proportion of water to render it palatable ( κρατήρ , from κεραννύναι , temperare ), - according to the Talm. with two-thirds of water. In this sense this passage is interpreted allegorically, Sanhedrin 14 b, 37 a, and elsewhere ( vid., Aruch under מזג ). מזג מז is not spiced wine, which is otherwise designated (Song of Solomon 8:2), but, as Hitzig rightly explains, mixed wine, i.e., mixed with water or snow ( vid., under Isaiah 5:22). מזג is not borrowed from the Greek μίσγειν (Grätz), but is a word native to all the three chief Semitic dialects, - the weaker form of מסך , which may have the meaning of “to pour in;” but not merely “to pour in,” but, at that same time, “to mix” ( vid., under Isaiah 5:22; Proverbs 9:2). סהר , with אגּן , represents the circular form (from סהר סחר ), corresponding to the navel ring; Kimchi thinks that the moon must be understood (cf. שׂהרון , lunula ): a moon-like round basin; according to which the Venet., also in Gr., choosing an excellent name for the moon, translates: ῥἀντιστρον τῆς ἑκάτης . But “moon-basin” would be an insufficient expression for it; Ewald supposes that it is the name of a flower, without, however, establishing this opinion. The “basin of roundness” is the centre of the body a little depressed; and that which the clause, “may not mixed wine be lacking,” expresses, as their wish for her, is soundness of health, for which no more appropriate and delicate figure can be given than hot wine tempered with fresh water.
The comparison in 3b is the same as that of R. Johanan's of beauty, Mezîa 84 a: “He who would gain an idea of beauty should take a silver cup, fill it with pomegranate flowers, and encircle its rim with a garland of roses.”
(Note: See my Gesch. d. Jüd. Poesie, p. 30 f. Hoch (the German Solomon) reminds us of the Jewish marriage custom of throwing over the newly-married pair the contents of a vessel wreathed with flowers, and filled with wheat or corn (with money underneath), accompanied with the cry, פּרוּ וּרבוּ be fruitful and multiply.)
To the present day, winnowed and sifted corn is piled up in great heaps of symmetrical half-spherical form, which are then frequently stuck over with things that move in the wind, for the purpose of protecting them against birds. “The appearance of such heaps of wheat,” says Wetstein ( Isa. p. 710), “which one may see in long parallel rows on the thrashing-floors of a village, is very pleasing to a peasant; and the comparison of the Song; Song of Solomon 7:3, every Arabian will regard as beautiful.” Such a corn-heap is to the present day called ṣubbah , while ‛aramah is a heap of thrashed corn that has not yet been winnowed; here, with ערמה , is to be connected the idea of a ṣubbah , i.e., of a heap of wheat not only thrashed and winnowed, but also sifted (riddled). סוּג , enclosed, fenced about (whence the post-bibl. סיג , a fence), is a part. pass. such as פּוּץ , scattered ( vid., under Psalms 92:12). The comparison refers to the beautiful appearance of the roundness, but, at the same time, also the flesh-colour shining through the dress; for fancy sees more than the eyes, and concludes regarding that which is veiled from that which is visible. A wheat-colour was, according to the Moslem Sunna, the tint of the first created man. Wheat-yellow and lily-white is a subdued white, and denotes at once purity and health; by πυρός wheat one thinks of πῦρ - heaped up wheat developes a remarkable heat, a fact for which Biesenthal refers to Plutarch's Quaest. In accordance with the progress of the description, the breasts are now spoken of:
3 Thy two breasts are like two fawns,
Twins of a gazelle.
Song of Solomon 4:5 is repeated, but with the omission of the attribute, “feeding among lilies,” since lilies have already been applied to another figure. Instead of תּאומי there, we have here מּאמי ( taǒme ), the former after the ground-form ti'âm , the latter after the ground-form to'm (cf. נּאלי , Nehemiah 8:2, from גּאל גּאל ).
4a Thy neck like an ivory tower.
The article in חשּׁן may be that designating species ( vid., under Song of Solomon 1:11); but, as at Song of Solomon 7:5 and Song of Solomon 4:4, it appears to be also here a definite tower which the comparison has in view: one covered externally with ivory tablets, a tower well known to all in and around Jerusalem, and visible far and wide, especially when the sun shone on it; had it been otherwise, as in the case of the comparison following, the locality would have been more definitely mentioned. So slender, so dazzlingly white, is imposing, and so captivating to the eye did Shulamith's neck appear. These and the following figures would be open to the objection of being without any occasion, and monstrous, if they referred to an ordinary beauty; but they refer to Solomon's spouse, they apply to a queen, and therefore are derived from that which is most splendid in the kingdom over which, along with him, she rules; and in this they have the justification of their grandeur.
4 b a Thine eyes pools in Heshbon,
At the gate of the populous (city).
Hesbhon, formerly belonging to the Amorites, but at this time to the kingdom of Solomon, lay about 5 1/2 hours to the east of the northern point of the Dead Sea, on an extensive, undulating, fruitful, high table-land, with a far-reaching prospect. Below the town, now existing only in heaps of ruins, a brook, which here takes it rise, flows westward, and streams toward the Ghôr as the Nahr Hesbán. It joins the Jordan not far above its entrance into the Dead Sea. The situation of the town was richly watered. There still exists a huge reservoir of excellent masonry in the valley, about half a mile from the foot of the hill on which the town stood. The comparison here supposes two such pools, but which are not necessarily together, though both are before the gate, i.e., near by, outside the town. Since שׁער , except at Isaiah 14:31, is fem., רבּים־בּים , in the sense of עם רבּתי , Lamentations 1:1 (cf. for the non-determin. of the adj., Ezekiel 21:25), is to be referred to the town, not to the gate (Hitz.); Blau's
(Note: In Merx' Archiv. III 355.)
conjectural reading, bath - 'akrabbim , does not recommend itself, because the craggy heights of the “ascent of Akrabbim” (Numbers 34:4; Joshua 15:3), which obliquely cross
(Note: Vid., Robinson's Phys. Geogr. p. 51.)
the Ghôr to the south of the Dead Sea, and from remote times formed the southern boundary of the kingdom of the Amorites (Judges 1:36), were too far off, and too seldom visited, to give its name to a gate of Heshbon. But generally the crowds of men at the gate and the topography of the gate are here nothing to the purpose; the splendour of the town, however, is for the figure of the famed cisterns like a golden border. בּרכה (from בּרך , to spread out, vid., Genesis, p. 98; Fleischer in Levy, I 420 b) denotes a skilfully built round or square pool. The comparison of the eyes to a pool means, as Wetstein
(Note: Zeitschr. für allgem. Erdkunde, 1859, p. 157 f.)
remarks, “either thus glistening like a water-mirror, or thus lovely in appearance, for the Arabian knows no greater pleasure than to look upon clear, gently rippling water.” Both are perhaps to be taken together; the mirroring glance of the moist eyes (cf. Ovid, De Arte Am. ii. 722):
“Adspicies obulos tremulo fulgore micantes,
Ut sol a liquida saepe refulget aqua”
and the spell of the charm holding fast the gaze of the beholder.
4 b b Thy nose like the tower of Lebanon,
Which looks towards Damascus.
This comparison also places us in the midst of the architectural and artistic splendours of the Solomonic reign. A definite town is here meant; the art. determines it, and the part. following appositionally without the art., with the expression “towards Damascus” defining it more nearly ( vid., under Song of Solomon 3:6), describes it. הלּמנון designates here “the whole Alpine range of mountains in the north of the land of Israel” (Furrer); for a tower which looks in the direction of Damascus ( פּני , accus., as את־פּני , 1 Samuel 22:4) is to be thought of as standing on one of the eastern spurs of Hermon, or on the top of Amana (Song of Solomon 4:8), whence the Amana (Barada) takes its rise, whether as a watch-tower (2 Samuel 8:6), or only as a look-out from which might be enjoyed the paradisaical prospect. The nose gives to the face especially its physiognomical expression, and conditions its beauty. Its comparison to a tower on a lofty height is occasioned by the fact that Shulamith's nose, without being blunt or flat, formed a straight line from the brow downward, without bending to the right or left (Hitzig), a mark of symmetrical beauty combined with awe-inspiring dignity. After the praise of the nose it was natural to think of Carmel; Carmel is a promontory, and as such is called anf el - jebel (“nose of the mountain-range”).
5 a a Thy head upon thee as Carmel.
We say that the head is “on the man” (2 Kings 6:31; Judith 14:18), for we think of a man ideally as the central unity of the members forming the external appearance of his body. Shulamith's head ruled her form, surpassing all in beauty and majesty, as Carmel with its noble and pleasing appearance ruled the land and sea at its feet. From the summit of Carmel, clothed with trees) Amos 9:3; 1 Kings 18:42), a transition is made to the hair on the head, which the Moslem poets are fond of comparing to long leaves, as vine leaves and palm branches; as, on the other hand, the thick leafy wood is called ( vid., under Isaiah 7:20) comata silva (cf. Oudendorp's Apuleii Metam. p. 744). Grätz, proceeding on the supposition of the existence of Persian words in the Song, regards כרמל as the name of a colour; but (1) crimson is designated in the Heb.-Pers. not כרמל , but כרמיל , instead of תולעת שׁני ( vid., under Isaiah 1:18; Proverbs 31:21); (2) if the hair of the head (if ראשׁך might be directly understood of this) may indeed be compared to the glistening of purple, not, however, to the listening of carmese or scarlet, then red and not black hair must be meant. But it is not the locks of hair, but the hair in locks that is meant. From this the eulogium finally passes to the hair of the head itself.
5 a b The flowing hair of thy head like purple -
A king fettered by locks.
Hitzig supposes that כרמל reminded the poet of כּרמיל (carmese), and that thus he hit upon ארגּמן (purple); but one would rather think that Carmel itself would immediately lead him to purple, for near this promontory is the principal place where purple shell-fish are found (Seetzen's Reisen, IV 277 f.). דּלּה (from דּלל , to dangle, to hang loose, Job 28:4, Arab. tadladal ) is res pendula , and particularly coma pendula . Hengst. remarks that the “purple” has caused much trouble to those who understand by דלה the hair of the head. He himself, with Gussetius, understand by it the temples, tempus capitis ; but the word רקּה is used (Song of Solomon 4:3) for “temples,” and “purple-like” hair hanging down could occasion trouble only to those who know not how to distinguish purple from carmese. Red purple, ארגּמן (Assyr. argamannu , Aram., Arab., Pers., with departure from the primary meaning of the word, ארגּון ,drow eht ), which derives this name from רגם רקם , material of variegated colour, is dark-red, and almost glistening black, as Pliny says ( Hist. Nat. ix. 135): Laus ei (the Tyrian purple) summa in colore sanguinis concreti, nigricans adspectu idemque suspectu (seen from the side) refulgens, unde et Homero purpureus dicitur sanguis . The purple hair of Nisus does not play a part in myth alone, but beautiful shining dark black hair is elsewhere also called purple, e.g., πυρφύρεος πλόκαμος in Lucian, πορφυραῖ χαῖται in Anacreon. With the words “like purple,” the description closes; and to this the last characteristic distinguishing Shulamith there is added the exclamation: “A king fettered by locks!” For רהטים , from רהט , to run, flow, is also a name of flowing locks, not the ear-locks (Hitz.), i.e., long ringlets flowing down in front; the same word (Song of Solomon 1:17) signifies in its North Palest. form רחיט ( Chethı̂b ), a water-trough, canalis . The locks of one beloved are frequently called in erotic poetry “the fetters” by which the lover is held fast, for “love wove her net in alluring ringlets” (Deshâmi in Joseph and Zuleika).
(Note: Compare from the same poet: “Alas! thy braided hair, a heart is in every curl, and a dilemma in every ring” ( Deut. Morg. Zeit. xxiv. 581).)
Goethe in his Westöst. Divan presents as a bold yet moderate example: “There are more than fifty hooks in each lock of thy hair;” and, on the other hand, one offensively extravagant, when it is said of a Sultan: “In the bonds of thy locks lies fastened the neck of the enemy.” אסוּר signifies also in Arab. frequently one enslaved by love: asîruha is equivalent to her lov.
(Note: Samaschshari, Mufaṣṣal , p. 8.)
The mention of the king now leads from the imagery of a dance to the scene which follows, where we again hear the king's voice. The scene and situation are now manifestly changed. We are transferred from the garden to the palace, where the two, without the presence of any spectators, carry on the following dialogue.
6 How beautiful art thou, and how charming,
O love, among delights!
It is a truth of all-embracing application which is here expressed. There is nothing more admirable than love, i.e., the uniting or mingling together of two lives, the one of which gives itself to the other, and so finds the complement of itself; nor than this self-devotion, which is at the same time self-enrichment. All this is true of earthly love, of which Walther v. d. Vogelweide says: “ minne ist sweier herzen wnne ” love is the joy of two hearts, and it is true also of heavenly love; the former surpasses all earthly delights (also such as are purely sensuous, Ecclesiastes 2:8), and the latter is, as the apostle expresses himself in his spiritual “Song of Songs,” 1 Corinthians 13:13, in relation to faith and hope, “greater than these,” greater than both of them, for it is their sacred, eternal aim. In יפית it is indicated that the idea, and in נעמתּ that the eudaemonistic feature of the human soul attains its satisfaction in love. The lxx, obliterating this so true and beautiful a promotion of love above all other joys, translate ἐν ταῖς τρυφαῖς σου (in the enjoyment which thou impartest). The Syr., Jerome, and others also rob the Song of this its point of light and of elevation, by reading אהמה O beloved! instead of אהבה . The words then declare (yet contrary to the spirit of the Hebrew language, which knows neither אהוּמה nor אהוּמתי as vocat.) what we already read at Song of Solomon 4:10; while, according to the traditional form of the text, they are the prelude of the love-song, to love as such, which is continued in Song of Solomon 8:6.
When Solomon now looks on the wife of his youth, she stands before him like a palm tree with its splendid leaf-branches, which the Arabians call ucht insגn (the sisters of men); and like a vine which climbs up on the wall of the house, and therefore is an emblem of the housewife, Psalms 128:3.
7 Thy stature is like the palm tree;
And thy breasts clusters.
8 I thought: I will climb the palm,
Grasp its branches;
And thy breasts shall be to me
As clusters of the vine,
And the breath of thy nose like apples,
Shulamith stands before him. As he surveys her from head to foot, he finds her stature like the stature of a slender, tall date-palm, and her breasts like the clusters of sweet fruit, into which, in due season its blossoms are ripened. That קומתך (thy stature) is not thought of as height apart from the person, but as along with the person (cf. Ezekiel 13:18), scarcely needs to be remarked. The palm derives its name, tāmār , from its slender stem rising upwards ( vid., under Isaiah 17:9; Isaiah 61:6). This name is specially given to the Phoenix dactylifera, which is indigenous from Egypt to India, and which is principally cultivated ( vid., under Genesis 14:7), the female flowers of which, set in panicles, develope into large clusters of juicy sweet fruit. These dark-brown or golden-yellow clusters, which crown the summit of the stem and impart a wonderful beauty to the appearance of the palm, especially when seen in the evening twilight, are here called אשׁוכלות (connecting form at Deuteronomy 32:32), as by the Arabians 'ithkal , plur. 'ithakyl ( botri dactylorum). The perf. דּמתה signifies aequata est = aequa est ; for דּמה , R. דם , means, to make or to become plain, smooth, even. The perf. אמרתּי , on the other hand, will be meant retrospectively. As an expression of that which he just now purposed to do, it would be useless; and thus to notify with emphasis anything beforehand is unnatural and contrary to good taste and custom. But looking back, he can say that in view of this august attractive beauty the one thought filled him, to secure possession of her and of the enjoyment which she promised; as one climbs ( עלה with בּ , as Psalms 24:3) a palm tree and seizes ( אחז , fut. אחז , and אאחז with בּ , as at Job 23:11) its branches ( סנסנּים , so called, as it appears,
(Note: Also that סנסן is perhaps equivalent to סלסל זלזל תלתל ), to wave hither and thither, comes here to view.)
after the feather-like pointed leaves proceeding from the mid-rib on both sides), in order to break off the fulness of the sweet fruit under its leaves. As the cypress ( sarwat), so also the palm is with the Moslem poets the figure of a loved one, and with the mystics, of God;
(Note: Vid., Hâfiz, ed. Brockhaus, II p. 46.)
and accordingly the idea of possession is here particularly intended. ויהיוּ־נא denotes what he then thought and aimed at. Instead of בּתּמר , Song of Solomon 7:9, the punctuation בּתּמר is undoubtedly to be preferred. The figure of the palm tree terminates with the words, “will grasp its branches.” It was adequate in relation to stature, but less so in relation to the breasts; for dates are of a long oval form, and have a stony kernel. Therefore the figure departs from the date clusters to that of grape clusters, which are more appropriate, as they swell and become round and elastic the more they ripen. The breath of the nose, which is called אף , from breathing hard, is that of the air breathed, going in and out through it; for, as a rule, a man breathes through his nostrils with closed mouth. Apples present themselves the more naturally for comparison, that the apple has the name תּפּוּח (from נפח , after the form תּמכוּף ), from the fragrance which it exhales.
9 a a And thy palate like the best wine.
יין הטּוב is wine of the good kind, i.e., the best, as רע אושׁת , Proverbs 6:24, a woman of a bad kind, i.e., a bad woman; the neut. thought of as adject. is both times the gen. of the attribute, as at Proverbs 24:25 it is the gen. of the substratum . The punctuation כּיּין הטּוב (Hitz.) is also possible; it gives, however, the common instead of the delicate poetical expression. By the comparison one may think of the expressions, jungere salivas oris (Lucret.) and oscula per longas jungere pressa moras (Ovid). But if we have rightly understood Song of Solomon 4:11; Song of Solomon 5:16, the palate is mentioned much rather with reference to the words of love which she whispers in his ears when embracing her. Only thus is the further continuance of the comparison to be explained, and that it is Shulamith herself who continues it.
9 a b Which goes down for my beloved smoothly,
Which makes the lips of sleepers move.
The dramatic structure of the Song becomes here more strongly manifest than elsewhere before. Shulamith interrupts the king, and continues his words as if echoing them, but again breaks off. The lxx had here לדודי in the text. It might notwithstanding be a spurious reading. Hitzig suggests that it is erroneously repeated, as if from Song of Solomon 7:11. Ewald also ( Hohesl. p. 137) did that before, - Heiligstedt, as usual, following him. But, as Ewald afterwards objected, the line would then be “too short, and not corresponding to that which follows.” But how shall לדודי now connect itself with Solomon's words? Ginsburg explains: “Her voice is not merely compared to wine, because it is sweet to everybody, but to such wine as would be sweet to a friend, and on that account is more valuable and pleasant.” But that furnishes a thought digressing εἰς ἄλλο γένος ; and besides, Ewald rightly remarks that Shulamith always uses the word דודי of her beloved, and that the king never uses it in a similar sense. He contends, however, against the idea that Shulamith here interrupts Solomon; for he replies to me ( Jahrb. IV 75): “Such interruptions we certainly very frequently find in our ill-formed and dislocated plays; in the Song, however, not a solitary example of this is found, and one ought to hesitate in imagining such a thing.” He prefers the reading לדּודים beloved ones, although possibly לדודי , with î, abbreviated after the popular style of speech from îm, may be the same word. But is this ledodim not a useless addition? Is excellent wine good to the taste of friends merely; and does it linger longer in the palate of those not beloved than of those loving? And is the circumstance that Shulamith interrupts the king, and carried forward his words, not that which frequently also occurs in the Greek drama, as e.g., Eurip. Phoenissae, v. 608? The text as it stands before us requires an interchange of the speakers, and nothing prevents the supposition of such an interchange. In this idea Hengstenberg for once agrees with us. The Lamed in ledodi is meant in the same sense as when the bride drinks to the bridegroom, using the expression ledodi . The Lamed in למישׁרים is that of the defining norm, as the Beth in במי , Proverbs 23:31, is that of the accompanying circumstance: that which tastes badly sticks in the palate, but that which tastes pleasantly glides down directly and smoothly. But what does the phrase וגו דּובב שׂף mean? The lxx translate by ἱκανούμενος χείλεσί μου καὶ ὀδοῦσιν , “accommodating itself (Sym. προστιθέμενος ) to my lips and teeth.” Similarly Jerome (omitting at least the false μου ), labiisque et dentibus illius ad ruminandum , in which דּבּה , rumor, for דובב , seems to have led him to ruminare . Equally contrary to the text with Luther's translation: “which to my friend goes smoothly goes, and speaks of the previous year;” a rendering which supposes ישׁנים (as also the Venet.) instead of ישׁנים (good wine which, as it were, tells of former years), and, besides, disregards שׁפתי . The translation: “which comes at unawares upon the lips of the sleepers,” accords with the language (Heiligst., Hitz.). But that gives no meaning, as if one understood by ישׁנים , as Gesen. and Ewald do, una in eodem toro cubantes ; but in this case the word ought to have been שׁכבים . Since, besides, such a thing is known as sleeping through drink or speaking in sleep, but not of drinking in sleep, our earlier translation approves itself: which causes the lips of sleepers to speak. This interpretation is also supported by a proverb in the Talm. Jebamoth 97 a, Jer. Moeed Katan, iii. 7, etc., which, with reference to the passage under review, says that if any one in this world adduces the saying of a righteous man in his name ( רוחשׁות or מרחשׁות ), שׂפתותיו דובבות בקבר . But it is an error inherited from Buxtorf, that דובבות means there loquuntur , and, accordingly, that דובב of this passage before us means loqui faciens . It rather means ( vid., Aruch), bullire , stillare , manare (cogn. זב טף , Syn. רחשׁ ), since, as that proverb signifies, the deceased experiences an after-taste of his saying, and this experience expresses itself in the smack of the lips; and דּובב , whether it be part. Kal or Po. = מדובב , thus: brought into the condition of the overflowing, the after-experience of drink that has been partaken of, and which returns again, as it were, ruminando . The meaning “to speak” is, in spite of Parchon and Kimchi (whom the Venet., with its φθεγγόμενος , follows), foreign to the verb; for דּבּה also means, not discourse, but sneaking, and particularly sneaking calumny, and, generally, fama repens . The calumniator is called in Arab. dabûb , as in Heb. רכיל .
We now leave it undecided whether in דובב , of this passage before us, that special idea connected with it in the Gemara is contained; but the roots דב and זב are certainly cogn., they have the fundamental idea of a soft, noiseless movement generally, and modify this according as they are referred to that which is solid or fluid. Consequently דּבב , as it means in lente incedere (whence the bear has the name דּב ), is also capable of being interpreted leniter se movere , and trans. leniter movere , according to which the Syr. here translates, quod commovet labia mea et dentes meos (this absurd bringing in of the teeth is from the lxx and Aq.), and the Targ. allegorizes, and whatever also in general is the meaning of the Gemara as far as it exchanges דובבות for רוחשות ( vid., Levy under רחשׁ ). Besides, the translations qui commovet and qui loqui facit fall together according to the sense. For when it is said of generous wine, that it makes the lips of sleepers move, a movement is meant expressing itself in the sleeper speaking. But generous wine is a figure of the love-responses of the beloved, sipped in, as it were, with pleasing satisfaction, which hover still around the sleepers in delightful dreams, and fill them with hallucinations.
10 I am my beloved's
And to me goeth forth his desire.
After the words “I am my beloved's,” we miss the “and my beloved is mine” of Song of Solomon 6:3, cf. Song of Solomon 2:16, which perhaps had dropped out. The second line here refers back to Genesis 3:16, for here, as there, תּשׁוּקה , from שׁוּק , to impel, move, is the impulse of love as a natural power. When a wife is the object of such passion, it is possible that, on the one side, she feels herself very fortunate therein; and, on the other side, if the love, in its high commendations, becomes excessive, oppressed, and when she perceive that in her love-relation she is the observed of many eyes, troubled. It is these mingled feelings which move Shulamith when she continues the praise so richly lavished on her in words which denote what she might be to the king, but immediately breaks off in order that, as the following verse now shows, she might use this superabundance of his love for the purpose of setting forth her request, and thus of leading into another path; her simple, child-like disposition longs for the quietness and plainness of rural life, away from the bustle and display of city and court life.
11 Up, my lover, we will go into the country,
Lodge in the villages.
Hitzig here begins a new scene, to which he gives the superscription: “Shulamith making haste to return home with her lov.” The advocate of the shepherd-hypothesis thinks that the faithful Shulamith, after hearing Solomon's panegyric, shakes her head and says: “I am my beloved's.” To him she calls, “Come, my beloved;” for, as Ewald seeks to make this conceivable: the golden confidence of her near triumph lifts her in spirit forthwith above all that is present and all that is actual; only to him may she speak; and as if she were half here and half already there, in the midst of her rural home along with him, she says, “Let us go out into the fields,” etc. In fact, there is nothing more incredible than this Shulamitess, whose dialogue with Solomon consists of Solomon's addresses, and of answers which are directed, not to Solomon, but in a monologue to her shepherd; and nothing more cowardly and more shadowy than this lover, who goes about in the moonlight seeking his beloved shepherdess whom he has lost, glancing here and there through the lattices of the windows and again disappearing. How much more justifiable is the drama of the Song by the French Jesuit C. F. Menestrier (born in Sion 1631, died 1705), who, in his two little works on the opera and the ballet, speaks of Solomon as the creator of the opera, and regards the Song as a shepherd-play, in which his love-relation to the daughter of the king of Egypt is set forth under the allegorical figures of the love of a shepherd and a shepherdess!
(Note: Vid., Eugène Despris in the Revue politique et litteraire 1873. The idea was not new. This also was the sentiment of Fray Luis de Leon; vid., his Biographie by Wilkens (1866), p. 209.)
For Shulamith is thought of as a רעה shepherdess, Song of Solomon 1:8, and she thinks of Solomon as a רעה shepherd. She remains so in her inclination even after her elevation to the rank of a queen. The solitude and glory of external nature are dearer to her than the bustle and splendour of the city and the court. Hence her pressing out of the city to the country. השׂדה is local, without external designation, like rus (to the country). כּפרים (here and at 1 Chronicles 27:25) is plur. of the unused form כּפר (constr. כּפר , Joshua 18:24) or כּפר , Arab. kafar (cf. the Syr. dimin. kafrûno , a little town), instead of which it is once pointed כּפר , 1 Samuel 6:18, of that name of a district of level country with which a multitude of later Palest. names of places, such as כּפר נחוּם , are connected. Ewald, indeed, understands kephārim as at Song of Solomon 4:13: we will lodge among the fragrant Al-henna bushes. But yet בּכּף cannot be equivalent to תּחת הכפרים ; and since לין (probably changed from ליל ) and השׁכים , Song of Solomon 7:13, stand together, we must suppose that they wished to find a bed in the henna bushes; which, if it were conceivable, would be too gipsy-like, even for a pair of lovers of the rank of shepherds ( vid., Job 30:7). No. Shulamith's words express a wish for a journey into the country: they will there be in freedom, and at night find shelter ( בכף , as 1 Chronicles 27:25 and Nehemiah 6:2, where also the plur. is similarly used), now in this and now in that country place. Spoken to the supposed shepherd, that would be comical, for a shepherd does not wander from village to village; and that, returning to their home, they wished to turn aside into villages and spend the night there, cannot at all be the meaning. But spoken of a shepherdess, or rather a vine-dresser, who has been raised to the rank of queen, it accords with her relation to Solomon, - they are married, - as well as with the inexpressible impulse of her heart after her earlier homely country-life. The former vine-dresser, the child of the Galilean hills, the lily of the valley, speaks in the verses following.
12 In the morning we will start for the vineyards,
See whether the vine is in bloom,
Whether the vine-blossoms have opened,
The pomegranates budded -
There will I give thee my love.
13 The mandrakes breathe a pleasant odour,
And over our doors are all kinds of excellent fruits,
New, also old,
Which, my beloved, I have kept for thee.
As the rising up early follows the tarrying over night, the description of that which is longed for moves forward. As השׁכּים is denom. of שׁכם , and properly signifies only to shoulder, i.e., to rise, make oneself ready, when early going forth needs to be designated it has generally בּבּקר (cf. Joshua 6:15) along with it; yet this word may also be wanting, 1 Samuel 9:26; 1 Samuel 17:16. נשׁךּ לכּר נשׁב ונלך לבר , an abbreviation of the expression which is also found in hist. prose, Genesis 19:27; cf. 2 Kings 19:9. They wished in the morning, when the life of nature can best be observed, and its growth and progress and striving upwards best contemplated, to see whether the vine had opened, i.e., unfolded (thus, Song of Solomon 6:11), whether the vine-blossom ( vid., at Song of Solomon 2:13) had expanded (lxx ἤνθησεν ὁ κυπρισμός ), whether the pomegranate had its flowers or flower-buds ( הנצוּ , as at Song of Solomon 6:11); פּתּח is here, as at Isaiah 48:8; Isaiah 60:11, used as internally transitive: to accomplish or to undergo the opening, as also (Arab.) fattaḥ
(Note: Vid., Fleischer, Makkari, 1868, p. 271.)
is used of the blooming of flowers, for (Arab.) tafttaḥ (to unfold). The vineyards, inasmuch as she does not say כּרמינוּ , are not alone those of her family, but generally those of her home, but of her home; for these are the object of her desire, which in this pleasant journey with her beloved she at once in imagination reaches, flying, as it were, over the intermediate space. There, in undisturbed quietness, and in a lovely region consecrating love, will she give herself to him in the entire fulness of her love. By דּדי she means the evidences of her love ( vid., under Song of Solomon 4:10; Song of Solomon 1:2), which she will there grant to him as thankful responses to his own. Thus she speaks in the spring-time, in the month Ijjar, corresponding to our Wonnemond (pleasure-month, May), and seeks to give emphasis to her promise by this, that she directs him to the fragrant “mandragoras,” and to the precious fruits of all kinds which she has kept for him on the shelf in her native home.
דּוּדי (after the form לוּלי ), love's flower, is the mandragora officinalis, L., with whitish green flowers and yellow apples of the size of nutmegs, belonging to the Solanaceae; its fruits and roots are used as an aphrodisiac, therefore this plant was called by the Arabs abd al - sal'm , the servant of love, postillon d'amour ; the son of Leah found such mandrakes (lxx Genesis 30:14, μῆλα μανδραγορῶν ) at the time of the vintage, which falls in the month of Ijjar; they have a strong but pleasant odour. In Jerusalem mandrakes are rare; but so much the more abundantly are they found growing wild in Galilee, whither Shulamith is transported in spirit. Regarding the מגדים (from מגד , occurring in the sing. exclusively in the blessing of Moses, Deut 33), which in the Old Testament is peculiar to the Song, vid., Song of Solomon 4:13, Song of Solomon 4:16. From “over our doors,” down to “I have kept for thee,” is, according to the lxx, Syr., Jerome, and others, one sentence, which in itself is not inadmissible; for the object can precede its verb, Song of Solomon 3:3, and can stand as the subject between the place mentioned and the verb, Isaiah 32:13, also as the object, 2 Chronicles 31:6, which, as in the passage before us, may be interpunctuated with Athnach for the sake of emphasis; in the bibl. Chald. this inverted sequence of the words is natural, e.g., Daniel 2:17. But such a long-winded sentence is at least not in the style of the Song, and one does not rightly see why just “over our doors” has the first place in it. I therefore formerly translated it as did Luther, dividing it into parts: “and over our doors are all kinds of precious fruits; I have,” etc. But with this departure from the traditional division of the verse nothing is gained; for the “keeping” (laying up) refers naturally to the fruits of the preceding year, and in the first instance can by no means refer to fruits of this year, especially as Shulamith, according to the structure of the poem, has not visited her parental home since her home-bringing in marriage, and now for the first time, in the early summer, between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest, is carried away thither in her longing. Therefore the expression, “my beloved, I have kept for thee,” is to be taken by itself, but not as an independent sentence (Böttch.), but is to be rendered, with Ewald, as a relative clause; and this, with Hitz., is to be referred to ישׁנים (old). Col refers to the many sorts of precious fruits which, after the time of their ingathering, are divided into “new and old” (Matthew 13:52). The plur. “our doors,” which as amplif. poet. would not be appropriate here, supposes several entrances into her parents' home; and since “I have kept” refers to a particular preserving of choice fruits, al does not (Hitzig) refer to a floor, such as the floor above the family dwelling or above the barn, but to the shelf above the inner doors, a board placed over them, on which certain things are wont to be laid past for some particular object. She speaks to the king like a child; for although highly elevated, she yet remains, without self-elation, a child.
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 7". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent