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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and Homiletical

Song of Solomon 2

Verses 1-7

I. 1 THE SONG OF SONGS, WHICH IS BY SOLOMON

FIRST SONG

The first time the lovers were together at the royal palace (in or near) Jerusalem

(Song of Solomon 1:2 to Song of Solomon 2:7)

FIRST SCENE:

Shulamith and the Daughters of Jeruzsalem

(Song of Solomon 1:2-8)

Shulamith

2 1Let him kiss me with kisses2 of his mouth,

3for better is thy love than wine!

3 In fragrance thine unguents are good;4

5an unguent6 poured forth is thy name,7

therefore virgins love thee.

Shulamith and the Daughters of Jerusalem (in responsive song).

4 Draw me!—after thee will we run!—8

9The king has brought me into his chambers!10

We will exult and be glad in thee,
will commend11 thy love beyond wine!—

Rightly12 do they love thee!

Shulamith

5 13Black I am, but 14comely, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

as the tents of Kedar, as the tent-cloths of Solomon.

6 Look15 not at me, because16 I am dusky,17

because the sun has scorched18 me;

19my mother’s sons were angry20 with me,

made me keeper of the vineyards;—
mine own vineyard I have not kept.21

(Looking around for Solomon)

7 22Tell me, thou whom my soul loveth, where23 feedest thou?

where makest thou (thy flock) to recline at noon?
For24 why should I be as one straying25

by the flocks of thy companions?

Daughters of Jerusalem

8 26If thou know not,27 fairest among women,

go forth in the footprints of the flock
and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

SECOND SCENE:

Solomon and Shulamith

(Song of Solomon 1:9 to Song of Solomon 2:7)

Solomon

9 To my horse28 in Pharaoh’s chariots

I liken29 thee, my dear.30

10 Comely are thy cheeks with chains,31

thy neck with beads.32

11 Chains33 of gold will we make thee

with points34 of silver.

Shulamith

12 35Whilst the king is at his table,36

my spikenard yields its fragrance.

13 A bundle37 of myrrh is my beloved38 to me,

that lodges between my breasts.

14 A cluster of the cyprus-flower39 is my beloved to me,

in the vineyards of Engedi.

Solomon

15 40Lo! thou art fair, my dear,

lo! thou art fair; thine eyes are doves.

Shulamith

16 41Lo! thou art fair, my beloved, yea sweet;

yea our couch is green.42

17 The beams43 of our houses are cedars,

our wainscot44 is cypresses.45

II. 1. 46I am (only) a wildflower of Sharon,

a lily of the valleys.

Solomon

2 As a lily among thorns,

so is my dear among the daughters.

Shulamith.

3 47As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood,

so is my beloved among the sons.
In his shade delighted I sit.
and his fruit is sweet to my palate.48

4 He has brought me into the wine-house,

and his banner over me is love.

5 Stay me with pressed grapes,49

refresh50 me with apples,

for I am sick of love.

6 His left hand is under my head,

and his right embraces me.

7 51I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,52

that ye wake not, and that ye waken not
love till it53 please.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. For the explanation of the title, see the Introduction, § 1 and § 3. To the view of those who assign Song of Solomon 1:2-4 entirely to the “daughters of Jerusalem,” and suppose the words of Shulamith to begin with Song of Solomon 1:5 (Hitz., Vaih. and others, so too Del.) stands opposed—1. That the wish “to be kissed with the kisses of his mouth” could scarcely have been expressed by the ladies of the court, or even by one of them, without filling Shulamith with indignation, of which, however, she shows nothing in what follows. 2. That the way in which the lover is extolled in Song of Solomon 1:2-3, agrees perfectly with the fond encomiums and enthusiastic descriptions which Shulamith subsequently, Song of Solomon 1:13 ff., and Song of Solomon 2:3 ff., bestows upon her loSong Song of Solomon 1:3. That the interchange of the 1st sing. and the 1st plur. plainly points to a diversity of persons speaking, or to an alternation between a single speaker and a whole chorus. This latter circumstance likewise renders their assumption impossible, who (as Ew., Hengstenb., Weissb. and most of the older interpreters) suppose that the whole of Song of Solomon 1:2-7 is spoken by Shulamith. Undoubtedly Shulamith and the ladies of the court here respond to each other in speech or song; yet not so that only the words “Draw me after thee ... chambers” Song of Solomon 1:4 a belong to Shulamith, and all the rest to Song of Solomon 1:5 to the “women of the harem” (so Renan), but simply that all that is in the singular is to be regarded as spoken by her alone, and all that is in the plural by her and the ladies together, so that in particular נרוצה (we will run) and נגילה וגו (we will be glad, etc.) are to be assigned to the ladies who confirm the words of Shulamith by joining in them themselves, while אהרידמשבני (draw me after thee), הביאני המלך חדריו (the king has brought me into his chambers) and מישרים אהבוך (they rightly love thee) belong to Shulamith alone54 (comp. Döpkein loc.) Then Song of Solomon 1:5-7 unquestionably belong to Shulamith alone; Song of Solomon 1:8 again to the ladies of the court, who reply with good-humored banter to the rustic simplicity and naivetê with which she has expressed Song of Solomon 1:7 her desire for her royal lover; Song of Solomon 1:9, ff. to Solomon, who now begins a loving conversation with his beloved, reaching to the close of the act.55 During this familiar and cosy chat, which forms the second scene of the act, the chorus of ladies withdraws to the back-ground, but without leaving the stage entirely; for the concluding words of Shulamith Song of Solomon 2:7 are manifestly directed to them again, and that not as absent, but as present on the stage. The place of the action must be supposed to be some locality in the royal palace or residence in or near Jerusalem, some one of the “king’s chambers” (חדרי המלך) Song of Solomon 1:4; whether precisely the “room devoted to wine parties,” the “wine-room of the royal palace” (Del.), cannot, as it seems, be certainly determined from the repeated reference to the excellence of wine (Song of Solomon 1:2; Song of Solomon 1:4), nor from the mention of the “house of wine” (בית היין2:4); and even the “table” of the king spoken of Song of Solomon 1:12 does not afford a perfectly sure support to this opinion. Only it appears to be certain from Song of Solomon 1:16-17 that we must imagine the scene to be open outwards, and to afford a prospect of fresh verdure and stately trees, such as cedars, cypresses, etc. It must therefore have been either a room in the king’s palace upon Zion immediately adjacent to parks or gardens, or what in view of Song of Solomon 6:2-3 (comp. Song of Solomon 4:16) is still more probable, an open summer-house (or pavilion) in the royal pleasure gardens of Wady Urtas, south of Jerusalem, near Bethlehem and Etam, in those magnificent grounds of David’s splendor-loving son, which probably bordered upon Zion itself, and thence extended southward for several leagues, and of which there still remains at least a grand aqueduct, with three basins lying successively one above another, the so-called “pools of Solomon” (comp. K. Furrer, Wanderungen durch Palästina, Zürich, 1865, p. 178, etc.; C. Hergt, Palästina, p. 278, etc.;Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, III. 1, p. 64, etc.). That Shulamith had formed a personal acquaintance with the royal gardens in the neighborhood of Jerusalem directly after she had been brought from her home in the north of Israel to Solomon’s court, is shown by her mention Song of Solomon 1:14 of the “vineyards” or “vine-gardens of Engedi,” near the Dead Sea, five or six German miles south-east of Jerusalem, from which however the conclusion must not be drawn that these pleasure-grounds of Engedi formed the scene of the action in the opening of the piece; see on that verse. Weissbach very properly locates the second scene of the Song from Song of Solomon 1:9 onward in the gardens of Solomon near Jerusalem, but puts the action of Song of Solomon 1:1-8 somewhere on the way to this retreat, where Shulamith in her search for her lover chances to meet the women of Jerusalem. But in opposition to this may be urged—1. That there is nothing in the context to indicate a change in the locality between Song of Solomon 1:8-17. The mention of the “king’s chambers” in Song of Solomon 1:4 certainly implies the immediate vicinity of a royal palace, and probably the presence of the speaker in it. 3. It by no means follows from the metaphors borrowed from pastoral life, in which Shulamith speaks of her lover, Song of Solomon 1:7 that she thought he was really to be found in a “pasture ground,” and engaged in feeding sheep. 4. With as little propriety can it be inferred from Song of Solomon 1:8 that Shulamith is represented as wandering about over the country and “accompanied by some little kids, searching for her lover in or near Jerusalem.”56

2. First Scene. Shulamith. Song of Solomon 1:2-3.—Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.יִשָּׁקֵנִי—for which Hitzig needlessly reads יַשְׁקֵנִי, “let him give me to drink,” etc. (comp. Song of Solomon 8:2)—is manifestly the utterance of a wish, “O that he would kiss me;” and its subject is not פִּיהוּ, “his mouth,” which is too remote and manifestly stands in a genitive relation to נְשִׁיקוֹת “kisses;” nor מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת, equivalent to “one of his kisses” (Ewald, E. Meier), for “a kiss kisses not but is kissed, and מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת includes an accusative” (Hitzig). The speaker’s lover is rather thought of as the kissing subject, the same, whom in the vividness of her conception she immediately afterwards in b and in Song of Solomon 1:3 addresses in the second person, as though he who is so ardently longed for were already present.57 The partitive מִן properly points to but one or a few kisses of her lover as the object of the beloved’s wish; comp. Genesis 28:11; Exodus 16:27; Psalms 132:11, and generally Ew., Lehr., § 217, b, 294, c. [Green’sHeb. Gram., § 242, a]; J. H. Michaelis, in loc., “uno tantum vel altero de osculis.”—”Kisses of his mouth”58 are, moreover, in contrast with the idolatrous custom of hand-kisses, or kissing the hand to any one (Job 31:27; comp. Del., in loc.), tokens of honest love and affection between blood relations and friends (Genesis 29:11; Genesis 33:4; Genesis 41:40; 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 20:41; comp. Psalms 2:12), and especially between lovers (Proverbs 7:13). It is not likely that the similarity of the words נשקkiss and שקהdrink gave occasion to the comparison in b of caresses with wine (Weissb.); this comparison is of itself a very natural one; comp. Song of Solomon 4:10; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 8:2.—For better is thy love than wine.דדִֹים different from דַדַּיִם “breasts, paps” (which the LXX here express by μαστοί, and the Vulg. by ubera [so Wic., Cov., Dow.]), as well as from דוֹדִים plur. of דוֹד “beloved” (Song of Solomon 5:1), denotes manifestations of love, caresses, φιλοφροσύναι (comp. Song of Solomon 4:10-11; Song of Solomon 7:13; Proverbs 7:18; Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 23:17), i.e., dalliance, exhibition of אַהֲבָה (Song of Solomon 7:7; Song of Solomon 8:6), fond endearments, (in bad taste Vaih., “Liebelei,” flirtation.) In the comparison of such love with wine, the tertium comparationis is, as is shown by the parallels Song of Solomon 4:10 ff.; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 7:9, ff. not the intoxicating power of wine, but primarily its sweetness59 only; comp. Acts 2:13. The figure of intoxication indicates a higher grade of loving ecstasy than is here intended, comp. Song of Solomon 5:1 b;Proverbs 5:19; Proverbs 7:18, and in general Weissb., in loc.

Song of Solomon 1:3. In fragrance thine unguents are good.לְרֵיחַ, “in respect to odor, as to fragrance,” limits טוֹבִים, “good” (comp. Joshua 22:10; 1 Kings 10:23; Job 32:4), and is emphatically placed at the beginning of the sentence. Commonly: “to the smell,” or “for the smell,” against which, however, lies the twofold objection: 1, that רֵיחַ denotes not the organ of smell, nor the act of smelling, but the odor which any thing exhales (odor, halitus), comp. Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 2:13; Song of Solomon 4:10; Song 7:14; Hosea 14:7, etc.; 2, it is not לָרֵיחַ, but simply לְרֵיחַ. Hitzig’s construction is quite too artificial; he connects 3 a with 2 b as its sublimitation, and translates “thy caresses are more precious than wine with the odor of thy precious ointment” (comp. the like mode of connection adopted in the Vulg., “ubera—fragantia unguentis optimis” [so Coverdale, Doway]). So also is that of Weissbach, “thy ointments are good to serve as a perfume,” where too much is evidently foisted into the simple לְרֵיחַ.60An unguent which is poured forth is thy name.—The comparison of a good name with a fragrant unguent is also found, and on the basis of this passage in Hosea 14:7-8; Ecclesiastes 7:1; Sir 49:1. The ideas of smelling and being (or being named, bearing this or that name) are, as a general fact, closely related through the intermediate notion of breathing, respiring; comp. in German “Gerücht, ruchbar.”61 That the name of the lover is thus compared to a costly perfume diffusing a wide fragrance (comp. Mark 14:3; John 12:3) plainly indicates that it is only the renowned King Solomon, an actual possessor of שֵׁם (name, i.e., fame, gloria—comp. Pro 22:1; 1 Kings 1:47; Job 30:3), who can be thought of as this lover, and not a simple country swain (so Weissb. properly against Herd., Umbr., etc.).—Therefore virgins love theei.e., not barely on account of this thy renown, but on account of all the excellencies celebrated in Song of Solomon 1:2-3. Observe that עֲלָמוֹת is without the article. It is not the virgins universally, but simply virgins, such as Shulamith herself, or the “daughters of Jerusalem,” the ladies of Solomon’s court, by whom she sees herself surrounded, that she describes as lovers, as reverential admirers of the graceful, brilliant and lovely king. The guileless country lass, who has but recently been transferred into the circle of the countless virgins of the royal court (comp. Song of Solomon 6:8) here accounts to herself for the fact that many other virgins besides her are attached to the king with admiring devotion and love; comp., 4. e.

3. Shulamith and the daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon 1:4. Draw me after thee—as it is to be translated with the Targ., Luth. and most of the recent expositors, connecting contrary to the common accentuation אַחֲרֶיךָ with מָשְׁכֵנִי, which requires it as its proper complement;62 comp. Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3. By this drawing is meant, as appears from b, a drawing into the king’s chambers, or at least into immediate proximity to him, not a conducting out of the palace into the country, as the advocates of the swain-hypothesis suppose, who see in these words an ardent call upon her distant lover.—We will runi.e., not, “let us take flight, and hasten hence” [so Ginsburg: “Oh, let us flee together!”], as though here again there were a cry for help to her absent lover; but: “we will hasten to him,” viz.: the gracious king; a lively exclamation uttered by Shulamith, and at the same time by the chorus of the daughters of Jerusalem catching the word from her.—The king has brought me into his chambers—a simple expression of the virgin’s rapturous joy at the high honor and delight granted her by the king. As the words stand, they contain neither an indirect petition or complaint addressed to her distant lover (to which the following clauses of the verse would agree poorly enough), nor a wish directed to the king—as though the preterite הֱבִיאַנִי were to be taken in the sense of a precative or optative: “O that the king had brought me into his chambers” (so, e.g., Hug, Weissb.), nor finally a condition dependent on the following נָגִילָה וגו (so Hahn, who supplies אִם, if, before הֱבִיאַנִי. “If the king brings me into his chambers, we will,”63etc. Furthermore, the “king’s chambers” are by no means simply identical with the harem, the house of the women belonging to the royal palace (Vaih., Ren., etc.); this would rather have been designated בֵּית הַנָּשִׁים, as in Esther 2:3; Esther 2:9, ff., or simply called בית, house, as in 1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 9:24; Psalms 68:13, etc. They are 2 Samuel 4:7; 2 Samuel 13:10, the king’s own rooms in the palace, his sleeping apartments and sitting-rooms, penetralia regis, in distinction from those of his wives and the ladies of the court, which formed a particular division of the royal palace. Comp. 1 Kings 7:8; Esther 2:12-14. Into these the king’s own innermost apartments, Shulamith, as the favored object of his special love, had been repeatedly brought,—nay, she has in them her own proper abode and residence. She had therefore a perfect right to say: “The king has brought me into his chambers.”64We will exult and be glad in thee.—With these words, which recall Psalms 31:7; Psalms 118:24; Isaiah 25:9; Joel 2:21; Joel 2:23, the ladies of the court again chime in with the language of Shulamith, in order to commend with her the happiness of belonging to the number of those who were loved by the king. בָּךְ, in thee, belongs in equal measure to both verbs; comp. Isaiah 65:19.—We will celebrate thy love more than wine.—Comp. Song of Solomon 1:2.—Rightly do they love thee.—The most obvious construction is to make the virgins again the subject, as in 3c, and consequently to regard Shulamith as again the speaker. But the 3d plur. might also be taken impersonally (they, i.e., people generally love thee. Comp. יָבֻזוּ, they despise, Song of Solomon 8:1), and then the clause might be spoken by the entire chorus. מֵישָׁרִים, an adverbial accusative (as, e.g., פְּלָאִים, wonderfully, Lamentations 1:9), means neither “without reserve” (Weissb.), nor “sincerely” (Gesen., Del.) [so Noyes; Eng. Ver. marg.: uprightly], but, as appears from the context and the parallels Psalms 48:2; Psalms 75:3, “with good reason, rightly” (Ew., Hitzig, Vaih., etc.). This word is taken as the subject by the Sept. (εὐθύτης), Vulg. (recti diligunt te), Hengstenb. (rectitudes, i.e., abst. for concrete, the upright love thee), Umbr. (O favorite of all the virtues), etc. [so Eng. Ver., Thrupp, Wordsworth, Withington, Ginsburg], interpretations as ungrammatical as they are unsuited to the connection. The attempts at emendation proposed by Velth., Schelling, Augusti, are altogether unnecessary65 (see Weissb., in loc.).

4. Shulamith. Song of Solomon 1:5-7.

Song of Solomon 1:5. Black I am, but comely.—The explanation of the fact that she was black (שְׁחוֹרָה) contained in the following verse shows that by this blackness can only be meant her being browned by the hot sun. Then too in Lamentations 4:8 the substantive שְׁחוֹר denotes only the livid or swarthy appearance of one who has suffered long from famine and wretchedness, and in this very passage the strong expression “black” is qualified by the diminutive “blackish” (שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת) in the verse immediately following.—Moreover, the whole statement before us was occasioned according to Song of Solomon 1:6, by the curious looks with which Shulamith had meanwhile been regarded by many of the daughters of Jerusalem and probably also by jeering remarks which they had made (comp. Song of Solomon 1:8). “But comely” [Taylor: attractive, engaging] (נָאוָה., lit., “agreeable”); the plain country maid hereby expresses with frank, straightforward simplicity her consciousness that nevertheless she was not altogether unworthy of the love of Solomon. There is no vain self-laudation in the words.—As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.—The first of these comparisons is designed to illustrate and set before the mind the idea of blackness, the second that of comeliness or elegance. “Kedar is a Bedawîn tribe near Palestine in the Arabian desert, Genesis 25:13; Isaiah 21:17, which is here named in preference to all others, simply because the name קֵדָר seems originally to denote “blackness.” Tents of poor Bedawîns, which are always exposed to the heat of the sun, must certainly appear blacker and less attractive than those of Solomon; and we need not therefore with other interpreters (see especially Hitz. and Weissb. who refer to the observations of modern travellers as della Valle, Burckhardt, Harmer, Volney, etc.,) have recourse to the tents now commonly covered with black goat skins, as Shulamith only has in mind the blackness caused by the sun’s rays. But Solomon’s tents as a figure of the greatest elegance can only correspond to נָאוָהcomely. We may without difficulty assume that the splendor-loving Solomon adopted the custom of oriental monarchs of living in tents once in the year in some charming district and in the utmost elegance and splendor (comp. the remarks above, Song of Solomon 1:1, respecting the pleasure grounds at Etham and Engedi.) It is, therefore, wholly unnecessary to understand by יְרִיעוֹת (with Del., Hitz., etc.,) tapestry,66 which is neither permitted by usage nor by etymology, from יָרַעcontinuit, prop. velum, then tent-cloth.” We shall have in the main to abide by this explanation of the passage given by Ewald, although we might assign to יְרִיעָה a different etymology, and derive it perhaps with Gesenius from יָרַעto tremble, flutter, or with Weissb. from יָרַעto be bad, i. e., of coarse, inferior workmanship. The two comparisons are in any case understood in quite too artificial a manner by the latter and by several others, who assume that both the tents of Kedar and the tent-coverings of Solomon set forth the peculiar combination of dark color with attractiveness in Shulamith’s looks (for which an appeal is made to the testimony of travellers like D’Arvieux, Shaw, etc., according to whom a plain filled with the black tents of the Bedawîn presents a very pleasing and even beautiful spectacle.) In opposition to Böttcher’s view, who though he assigns the words “Black am I, daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar” to the “vinedresser,” i.e., to Shulamith, refers the rest (“but comely” and “as the tent cloths of Solomon”) to an “elderly princess,” who looks with astonishment at the new comer, comp. Hitz. in loc., who properly rebukes the extravagance of the dissecting mania here exhibited.

Song of Solomon 1:6. Look not at me because I am dusky, because the sun has scorched me. There is nothing in the context to indicate that the “look” is one of approval, in admiration of her beauty67 (versusBöttcher, Hitz., etc.) Comp. above on Song of Solomon 1:5. My mother’s sons were angry with me.Velth., Umbr., Ewald needlessly think of step-brothers or half-brothers; the passages adduced for this purpose Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 20:11 : Deuteronomy 23:2, etc., are outweighed by many others as Genesis 27:29; Psalms 50:20; Psalms 69:9; Deuteronomy 13:7, where “mother’s sons” corresponds in the parallelism to “brothers,” and consequently is entirely synonymous with it. And this expression is the less surprising in Shulamith’s mouth since like a true Hebrew daughter she is in the habit of denominating everything after her mother; comp. “my mother’s house,” Song of Solomon 3:4; Song of Solomon 8:2, and so too Ruth 1:8. We need not even assume that she would intimate a less favorable judgment of her brothers as more or less strange or distant in their bearing to her (Rocke, Hitz.); and there is still less to justify the assumption that her brothers are by this expression emphatically designated as Shulamith’s own brothers-german (vs.Magnus.) Yet it may with considerable probability be inferred from the expression before us, that Shulamith’s father was no longer living at the time of this transaction, and her brothers had assumed the prerogatives of a father (comp. Genesis 34:5, ff.; 2 Samuel 13:20 ff.), but that her mother meanwhile was still living, which also seems to be favored by Song of Solomon 6:9, (Song of Solomon 8:2; Song of Solomon 3:4).—Made me keeper of the vineyards. This manifestly does not assign the reason of her brothers’ anger, nor is this intimated in the following clause (vs. Hengstenberg and E. Meier), it is rather passed over in silence as irrelevant. But this clause tells what her brothers did in consequence of their anger, and then the last clause states what further happened to her when degraded into a vineyard-keeper.—Mine own vineyard I have not kept.—The addition of שֶׁלִּי not only gives a special emphasis to the suffix in כַּרְמִי, but distinguishes the vineyard of Shulamith here named as quite distinct and of another sort from those of her brothers, which she had been obliged to keep (Song of Solomon 8:12). It is a vineyard of a higher and more valuable kind, which alas! she had not carefully guarded. She herself with all that she has and is, must be intended by this vineyard of her own (comp. Del. and Weissb. in loc.), or it may be her beauty (Ew., Döpke., Magn., Heiligst., Hitz., Vaih.),—at all events every thing that she had to surrender to Solomon and devote to him when she became his beloved and followed him. There is, in these words, no serious lament for her lost virtue (on the contrary see Song of Solomon 4:12-16) or for her forsaken lover (as Böttcher, Meier and tentatively also Vaih.); but they contain a lament half in jest or with mingled sadness and irony for her forfeited freedom, for which she constantly longs in spite of her attachment to her royal lover. In favor of this double meaning of “vineyard” may also be urged the etymology of כֶּרֶם, which agreeably to its derivation from the root כרם, signifies the “noblest,” the “most valued possession,” the “highest good,” (comp. Hosea 2:17; Isaiah 5:7; Psalms 16:6, as well as Ewald and Hitzigin loc.).

Song of Solomon 1:7. Tell me, thou whom my soul loveth, where feedest thou? To this dreamy exclamation of longing desire for her still absent lover, the close of the preceding verse forms a thoroughly appropriate introduction. Despoiled of her freedom and her beloved home she can only then feel happy amid the new and splendid objects which surround her, when he from love to whom she has forsaken all and to whom her whole heart belongs, is actually close beside her. הַגִּידָה לִּי “inform me” not “cause me to be informed,” for הגיד always denotes an immediate declaration or announcement. This expression would manifestly be less suited to an address to a far distant lover. The paraphrase of the idea דּוֹדִי by the fond circumlocution “whom my soul loveth” is found four times beside in the beautiful section Song of Solomon 3:1-4.—Shulamith represents her royal lover as “feeding” and then as “reclining” (or more exactly as “causing to recline,” viz., his flock) simply because, as a plain country girl, she supposes that she can directly transfer to him the relations and occupations of country life, and hence assumes that the king may now be somewhere in the fields with his flocks, and have sought with them some shady resting-place as a protection from the hot noon-day sun. That Solomon was just then residing in his pleasure grounds near Jerusalem, that is to say in the country, might favor this artless conception of hers (comp. above on Song of Solomon 1:5.) But the assumption of Weissbach is needless, that Solomon was then actually engaged in the over-sight of his flocks (Ecclesiastes 2:7) like Absalom and his brothers who, according to 2 Samuel 13:23, ff., were accustomed to manage the sheep-shearing themselves, and to convert it into a merry-making. Nothing further is to be sought in the expressions before us, than a ready trope from pastoral life, and consequently one of those criteria which mark this poem as at least a partially idyllic or pastoral drama (comp. Introduc. § 1, Rem. 3). That Joseph’s going to the pasturage of his brethren, Genesis 37:15-16, was what specially suggested the present figurative representation is too far-fetched, though asserted by Hengstenberg, and connected with his allegorical mode of interpretation. Parallels for this “reclining at noon” may better be adduced from the figurative language of the prophets, as Isaiah 49:10; Psalms 23:2; Ezekiel 34:13-15, or even from the ancient classics, as Theocritus, Id., Song of Solomon 1:14-15; Song of Solomon 6:4; 25:216: Horace, Od., III. 29:21; Virg. Georg. III. 324 ff.68

For why should I be as one straying?etc.כְּעטְֹיָה is very variously explained. עָטָה “to cover” is commonly regarded as its theme, and it is accordingly translated “as one veiled” [so Eng. Ver. margin] i.e., as a harlot, Genesis 38:14-15 (Rosenm., Del.) [so Thrupp, Burrowes, Noyes]; or as “one ashamed, veiled through shame” (Umbreit, Döpke, Hengstenberg), or “as one unknown” (Ewald, Heiligst., who compare the Arab. غطىobscurus fuit, occultavit) [Williams: as a stranger], or “as a mourner,” (so some of the older commentators, as R. Solomon ben Melek, [Ainsworth] after 2 Samuel 15:30). [Weiss.: Muffled up as eastern women always were when exposed to the eyes of strangers, and as a shepherdess subject to insolent and injurious treatment from the shepherds, comp. Exodus 2:16-19]. But the signification “cover” can no more be proved for עטה, than that of “pining away,” which Schultens (Op. Min. p. 240), Rocke and others have sought to establish for the word. The Vulgate (ne vagari incipiam), Symmach. (ὡς ῥεμβομένη), Syr. and Targ., favor the meaning of wandering or straying, which is admirably suited to the context; [Clarke: as a wanderer; one who not knowing where to find her companions wanders fruitlessly in seeking them.] In proof of it we shall not need Böttcher’s emendation כְשׂטְיָה (“as a country-stroller”), but simply Hitzig’s assumption that עֹטְיָה by a transposition of the ע is for טוֹעָה (= תּוֹעָה comp. Genesis 37:15); comp. ערף רעף עטף = Arab. ضعفetc., (a view as old as Kleukerin loc., who with S. Bochart actually proposes to read כְטֹעְיָה). The following expression “by the flocks of thy companions” is closely connected with this idea as the more exact limitation of the “straying.” The “straying by the flocks of the king’s companions,” is nothing but a figure of speech for remaining among the throng of ladies in the royal court without the presence of the king himself; and that is just the veritably desolate and forlorn condition, from which Shulamith wishes to be released by the return of her lover. Hitzig arbitrarily explains the wandering of a wandering of her thoughts; and still more arbitrarily Weissbach seeks to give to עטה (with the following עַל for אֶל) the sense of “laying hands upon, purloining” (“that I, by the flocks of thy companions, be not regarded as one who will lay hands upon them,” and for that reason is sneaking about them watching his opportunity.)

5. The daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon 1:8. If thou know not, fairest among women,etc. This address (lit. “the fair (one) among the women.” compare [Green’sHebrew Grammar, § 260, 2 (2)], Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 513, c) which is also used Song of Solomon 5:9; Song of Solomon 6:1 by the “daughters of Jerusalem” in speaking to Shulamith, does not prove that the counsel here given “to follow the tracks of the flocks and pasture her kids beside the shepherds’ huts” is a seriously meant exhortation to Shulamith to return to the condition of a shepherdess, or a friendly direction to her on her way to the royal flocks (Weissb.). This language is evidently an “answer adapted to the narrow range of thought implied in Shulamith’s question (which must necessarily appear foolish to the ladies of the court) and hence an unmeaning one, after which the fair shepherdess knew neither more nor less than she did before” (Del.). It is therefore jeeringly intended, and if it did not exactly wound her deeply, it was certainly adapted to increase Shulamith’s longing for her lover.—אִם־לֹא תֵדְעִי means neither “if thou do not know thyself” (Sept., Luth.), nor “if thou art deficient in understanding” (Ewald, Hitzig, etc., who appeal to Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 56:10, passages not appropriate in this connection), but conformably to the similar passage, Song of Solomon 6:12, “if thou know not,” viz.: where thy lover feeds, this object being readily supplied from the context.—צְאִי־לָךְ בְּעִקְבֵי הַצֹּאן “go out at the heels of the flock,” i.e., go after it, follow its tracks, comp. Judges 4:10; Judges 5:15. יָצָא therefore denotes here, as the Hiphil in Isaiah 40:26; 2 Samuel 5:2, going forth with the flock, not going out of the palace (Vaih., etc.).—“Thy kids,” i.e., the kids which as such an enthusiastic admirer of country life, and a shepherd’s occupation you must certainly have. That she actually had some with her (Weissb.) by no means follows from this expression.

6. Second Scene. Solomon, Song of Solomon 1:9-11. The king has now returned from the engagements, which had hitherto detained him from his women, and he begins a tender conversation with Shulamith, who is favored by him above all the rest; during which the others withdraw into the background. Comp. No. 1, above.

Song of Solomon 1:9. To my horse in Pharaoh’s chariots, literally: “to my mare;” for סוּסָה can scarcely stand collectively for סוּסִים “horses, a body of horse,” (Vulg. “equitatui;Hengstb., Weissb., etc.), and there is nothing to justify its being pointed לְסוּסֹתַי (Magn., Hitz.). The singular לְסוּסָתִי evidently refers to a favorite mare of the king (comp. Zechariah 10:3), to a particularly fine, and splendidly caparisoned specimen of those τέσσαρες χιλιάδες θήλειαι ἵπποι, which according to 1 Kings 10:26, Sept., Solomon had for his chariots; and more exactly to such a steed used on state occasions in Solomon’s “Pharaoh-chariots,” i.e., in those costly Pharaonic spans of horses, which according to 1 Kings 10:28-29, he had imported from Egypt. Solomon compares his beloved to this mare of his, harnessed and magnificently decorated before stately Pharaoh-chariots (not exactly before one of them, Vatabl.), and that “on account of her youthful bloom and her unaffected demeanor, whose lovely charms are still further heightened by the simple ornaments worn upon her head and neck, Song of Solomon 1:10-11” (Del.). The point of the comparison is not to be sought exclusively in the proud bearing of the horse, Job 39:19, etc. (Ewald, Vaih., etc.), any more than in the glittering ornaments of his head and neck. In opposition to Weissb., who thinks merely of the latter, and referring to Hartmann’sHebräerin am Putztische, (Hebrew woman at her Toilet), Olearius“Persische Reisen” (Travels in Persia), etc. [see also Harmer’sOutlines, p. 205, and the illustrations of a bride’s dress, in Calmet’sDictionary] maintains that there was a marked similarity between the ornaments of pearls and chains worn by horses and by women in the East, and consequently by Shulamith in the present instance, it may be said that according to Song of Solomon 1:11 Solomon now first proposes to adorn his beloved with the proper gold and silver ornaments, and therefore she did not yet wear a burdensome head and neck ornament like a richly bridled mare.69My dear; comp. Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 2:2; Song of Solomon 4:1, etc., where the same familiar form of address recurs.

Song of Solomon 1:10. Comely are thy cheeks in chains.תּוֹר kindred with &דּוֹר טוֹרetc., is equivalent to a circle, ring; in the plural consequently it denotes a chain composed of many rings, which goes around from the head under the chin, by which therefore the cheeks are encircled. Shulamith may not have brought this ornament together with the necklaces named in b (חֲרוּזִים kindred with &הרש חרט, little disks of metal or corals pierced and strung together) with her from the country, but may have received it as a present from Solomon since her coming to the royal court. Solomon, however, is not satisfied with this simple ornament, but promises her, Song of Solomon 1:11, much richer and more splendid jewels,—scarcely with the view of alluring her and binding her to his court (as even Del. supposes) but simply to adorn yet more handsomely one who is so lovely, and to have his full pleasure in her as a magnificently attired princess.70

Song of Solomon 1:11. Chains of gold—with points of silver. Needlessly, and quite too artificially, Weissb. will have us understand by the נְקֻדּוֹת הַכֶּסֶף something similar to the חֲרוּזִים little disks of silver pierced and strung together, which might be worn along with the gold chains. But עִםwith by no means requires this explanation (comp. Song of Solomon 4:13): it rather leads to the far more natural assumption that the golden chains were dotted with silver “punctis argenteis distincti” (Hitzig).71

7. Shulamith Song of Solomon 1:12-14.

Song of Solomon 1:12. Whilst the king (is) at his table, my spikenard yields its fragrance. If these words were to be translated: “whilst the king was at his table, my spikenard yielded its fragrance” (Rosenmueller, Ewald, Hengstenb., Vaih., Weissb., etc.), they could only mean: “as long as Solomon was absent, and did not burden me with his attentions, I was happy in the memory of my friend;” they would accordingly bear an emphatic testimony to the correctness of the herdsman or shepherd-hypothesis; for that the “fragrance of the spikenard” is to be taken literally and explained of the costly nard-oil on Shulamith’s hair and garments, which had been as it were suppressed and far exceeded by the coming of her lover with his much more delightful fragrance (Weissb.) is a very far-fetched explanation of these simple words.72 They are rather to be taken as referring to the present, because the fact of there being no הָיָהwas in the protasis makes against the preterite sense of נָתַןgive73 (comp. Hitz. in loc.) and because מֵסַב does not properly mean table, but rather company, festive assembly (comp. the adverbial use of the word in the singular, 1 Kings 6:29, and in the plural, 2 Kings 23:5; Job 37:12) and consequently points to the place where the king then was, to the women’s apartment of his palace or park in contrast with his former stay in the fields, with the soldiers, on the chase, or elsewhere. The fragrance of Shulamith’s nard is accordingly a figurative designation of the agreeable sensations or delightful feelings produced in her heart by the presence of her lover (comp. Del.: “it only emits again that fragrance, which it has absorbed from his glances”), a representation which by no means sounds too refined and courtly for this simple country girl, this child of nature, which therefore Hitzig very needlessly puts (as well as Song of Solomon 1:13) into the mouth of an enamored court lady as a voluptuous piece of flattery for Solomon.74 For נֵרְדְּ, which must here denote not a stalk of the well-known Indian plant Valeriana Jatamansi (Magn., Böttcher), but the aromatic unguent prepared from it, and that as poured out, and consequently emitting its fragrance, comp. Winer, R. W. B. Art., “Narde.” [Smith’sDictionary of the Bible, Art. Spikenard. Kitto’sBiblical Cyclopedia, Art. Nerd].

Song of Solomon 1:13. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me. Evidently an advance upon the figure of the fragrant nard. The royal lover, who now rests upon Shulamith’s bosom, is compared by her to a parcel of the costly myrrh-gum such as the ladies of the East are in the habit of carrying in their bosom. צְרוֹר הַמּרֹ is not a bunch [so Noyes] or sprig of myrrh (Ewald, Delitzsch, etc.) for there is no more evidence of any aromatic quality in the branches and leaves of the myrrh tree than there is of its occurrence in Palestine at all. We must therefore think of a bundle or box (not exactly a flask, as Weissb. proposes, contrary to the meaning of צְרוֹר) of semi-fluid, or fluid myrrh gum, and must besides compare the use of this gum as an unguent, which is vouched for also in Song of Solomon 5:5; Song of Solomon 5:13; Esther 2:12; Exodus 30:28. On the carrying of boxes of ointment by Hebrew women, comp. also Isaiah 3:20; Job 42:14, and Hartmann, die Hebräerin am Putztische II., p. 280 f.

Song of Solomon 1:14. A cluster of Cyprus is my beloved to me.כֹּפֶרSept.: (κύπρος here and Song of Solomon 4:13) is the Cyprus flower or Alhenna, which is indigenous to India, and probably to Egypt (Pliny, H. N. xii. 24) and may have been transplanted by Solomon in his vineyards at Engedi (on which comp. No. 1 above) for the sake of the peculiarly strong odor of its yellowish-white, grape-like clusters of flowers. [See Harmer’sOutlines, pp. 218–221; Shaw’sTravels, pp. 113, ‘4: Sonnini’sVoyage, pp. 291–302]. Comp. in respect to the fondness of oriental women for this aromatic plant the testimony of a recent traveller in the “Ausland,” 1851, No. 17. “The white Henna-blossoms, which grow in clusters and are called Tamar-henna, have a very penetrating odor, which seems disagreeable to the European who is unaccustomed to it; but the Orientals have an uncommon liking for this odor, and prefer it to any other. The native women commonly wear a bouquet of Tamar-henna on their bosom.” The Hebrew name of this plant might with Simonis and others be derived from כפר to cover, with allusion to the custom which prevails among Oriental women of staining their finger nails yellow with Henna powder, but it is more natural to refer כֹּפֶר as well as κύπρος and the Lat. cuprum to the Sanskrit root cubh, “to shine, be yellow,” whence cubhra. The exact parallelism between Song of Solomon 1:13-14, and in general the intimate connection of Song of Solomon 1:12-14, with their figures taken without exception from the region of vegetable aromas further yields decided testimony against Hitzig’s division of the passage as though Song of Solomon 1:12-13, belonged to one of the women of the Harem, and only Song of Solomon 1:14 to Shulamith.

8. Solomon, Shulamith, Song of Solomon 1:15-17.

Song of Solomon 1:15. Lo! thou art fair, my dear. The fond ardor, with which she has just spoken of her lover, has doubled the expressive beauty of her features. The perception of this leads Solomon full of rapture to praise her beauty.—Thine eyes are doves,i.e., not “thine eyes are doves’ eyes,” as though (like Psalms 45:7; 1 Kings 4:13, Ezra 10:13) the const. עֵינֵי were to be supplied; and the dove-like simplicity and fidelity of Shulamith’s eyes were to be brought into the account as the point of comparison (Vulg., Syr., Ibn Ezra, Vat., Gesen., Del., etc.), [Eng. Ver.]; but as is shown both by the context and the parallel passage, Song of Solomon 5:12, “thine eyes resemble the lustrous and shimmering plumage of doves,” wherein more particularly the white of the eyes is compared to that of the body, and the lustrous iris to the metallic lustre of the neck or wings of the dove (comp. Psalms 68:14). Correctly therefore the Sept.: ὀφθαλμοί σου περιστεραί, and in the later times Targ., Rashi, Hengstenberg, Hitzig, etc.) [So Hodgson, Williams, Fry, Thrupp, etc.].

Song of Solomon 1:16. Lo! thou art fair, my beloved, yea sweet. The exactly analogous form of expression, with which Shulamith here answers the flattering caresses of the king, makes it appear to the last degree forced to regard these words of hers as addressed to a distant lover. The climacteric אַף נָעִים “yes sweet, yes charming” is only the expression of her loving transport, and finds an illustrative commentary in the description Song of Solomon 2:3-5. [Will., Gins. connect this adjective with what follows: “Lovely is our verdant couch”].—Yea, our couch is green, lit.: “greens, grows green” (רַעֲנָנָה) a reference to the stately, verdant, and refreshing natural surroundings, in the midst of which to their delight their loving intercourse now takes place, and perhaps more particularly to a shady grassplot under the trees of the park, upon which they were for the moment sitting or reclining; comp. § 1 above, and Weissb. in loc. In opposition to Hengstenb., who takes עֶרֶשׂ in the sense of “marriage-bed,” and רַעֲנָן in a purely figurative sense of a gladsome and flourishing condition, may be urged that no mention can be made of a marriage-bed for Shulamith and Solomon before their nuptials, which are not described until Song of Solomon 3:6, etc.; likewise the contents of the following verses, especially Song of Solomon 2:1-3, which point to a continued stay of the lovers in the open air, under shady trees, and beside fragrant flowers.75

Song of Solomon 1:17. The beams of our houses are cedars, our wainscoting cypress-trees. This can neither be the language of the “choir of women belonging to the harem” (Böttcher), whose entrance here would be to the last degree disturbing; nor even of Solomon (Hitzig, Weissb., Ren.) to whom the beauty of the place where they are, is a matter of perfect indifference, by reason of the rapture with which he regards his beloved; but only that of Shulamith, the innocent, light-hearted child of nature, who has just begun to express her pleasure in that lovely spot in the open air, to which her lover had conducted her, and whose words would sound quite unfinished and end abruptly if nothing further were added to the commendation of their verdant couch.—”Cedars” and “cypresses,” also named together Isaiah 14:8; Zechariah 11:2, as costly species of wood for building and stately, lofty trees, are here evidently meant in the literal sense, of living trees of this description, such as were to be found, along with other rare and noble plants, in the royal gardens of a king so skilled in nature and so fond of splendor. The figurative part of her language lies rather in the “beams” and the “wainscoting” (רָחִיטִים from רהט = Ar. جرط “to hew,” hence = laquearia of the Vulg., wainscoting on walls and ceilings—not. “pillars,” Weissb., nor “rafters,” Vatabl. and L. Cappell, [so E. V.], nor “floor,” Hengstenberg, who prefers the K’ri רָהיטִים). She, who had hitherto been without Solomon in the showy apartments of the palace, felicitates herself that she can now rest with him under the green trees of the garden, which seem to her to arch over them a far finer ceiling than those richly adorned halls. It is impossible to reconcile the mention of cedars, which only grew wild in Lebanon, not in central or northern Palestine, and consequently not in the vicinity of Shunem, with the shepherd hypothesis, whose advocates here find expressed Shulamith’s longing for the verdure and shade of her home (e.g.Ewald, Vaih.).

For the DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL comments, see Song of Solomon 2:7 ff.

Footnotes:

[1][Wicliffe: The Church of the coming of Christ speaketh, saying. Matthews: The voice of the Church. Cover-Dale: O that thy mouth would give me a kiss, for thy breasts are more pleasant than wine, and that because of the good and pleasant savor.].

[2]On the combination of the kindred words נשק and נשיקה. Comp. 1 Kings 1:12; 1 Kings 2:16; Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 8:10; Jonah 1:10; Jonah 1:16, and generally Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 281 a, [Green’s Heb. Gram. § 271, 3].

[3][Wicliffe: The voice of the Father.]

[4][Thrupp’s proposed emendation לריח שמני קטורים “like as the scent which cometh from incenses,” is nothing but ingenious trifling, and has not even the merit of being good Hebrew.—Tr.]

[5][Wic. The voice of the Church.]

[6]Observe the assonance in שֶׁמֶן and שֵׁם which is probably intentional. [Thrupp: as ointment thou art, by thy name, poured forth.]

[7]In regard to the construction of the words שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ four views are possible: 1. שֵׁם is taken as the subject, and תּוּרַק as 3 pers. fem. here employed because שֵׁם is exceptionally used as a feminine after the analogy of the Ethiopic (so Ew.: “thy name is poured out as an ointment;” Vaih.: “as the fragrance of balsam thy name pours itself forth,” etc.) 2. שֶׁמֶן is regarded as the subject, which is here exceptionally treated as feminine, and to which תּוּרַק belongs as a relative clause; “an unguent, which is shed forth, is thy name” (so the Septuag., Vulg., Luth. and the generality of interpreters). 3. שֶׁמֶן is taken as a masc., but the form תּוּרַק is regarded as a hardened form for יוּרַק (after the analogy of Isaiah 44:28; Ecclesiastes 10:15), and accordingly translated as before (Hitzig). 4. תּוּרַק is held to be the 2 pers. sing. fut. Hophal with a double accusative: “thou art poured forth in respect to thy name as ointment,” i.e., thou, or more precisely thy name, diffusest a noble fragrance, like a box of ointment which is emptied of its contents (so J. H. Michaelis: “sicut oleum effunderis nomine tuo;” Hengstenb., Weissb.). This last construction is to be preferred as grammatically the best established, while it agrees in sense substantially with Nos. 2 and 3.

[8][Matt. Yea, that same moveth me also to run after thee.]

[9][Matt. The spousess to her companions.]

[10][Cov., Cranmer, Bishops: “privy chamber;” Doway: “cellars,” altered in later editions to “store-rooms.”]

[11]Upon הִזְכִּיר prop. “to mention, bring to remembrance,” then “to mention with praise, celebrate,” comp. Psalms 20:8; Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 63:7; also Ps. 45:18; 1 Chronicles 16:4, where it is parallel to הוֹדה thank, praise.

[12][Cov. Well is them that love thee. Eng. Ver. The upright, Marg. uprightly. Noyes, Burrowes: sincerely.]

[13][Wic. The Church, of her tribulations. Mat. The voice of the Church in persecution. Cov., Cran. I am black, (O ye daughusalem) like as the tents of the Cedarenes and as the hangings of Solomon; but yet I am fair and well-favored withal. Ginsburg: swarthy.]

[14][Withington: fair; Burrowes: lovely.]

[15][Cov. marvel; Doway: consider; Williams, Noyes: gaze; With. scorn; Ginsburg: disdain.]

[16] שֶׁ signifies in both instances, in שֶׁאֲניִ and in שֶׁשְׁזָפַהְני not “for,” but “for the reason that,” “because” (εἰς έκεῖυο ὅτι); comp. Exodus 2:2. The second clause is therefore co-ordinated with the first, although explanatory of it (comp. Weissb. in loc.)

[17][Cov.: so black. E. Ver. black; Doway: brown; Weiss: swarthy; Bur., Thrupp: dark.] On שְׁחַרְחרֶת blackish, dusky (not “very black, deep black,” as Hitz. and formerly Ewald too would have it), comp. on Song of Solomon 1:5 above [Green’s Heb. Gram., § 188].

[18] שָׁזַף is not “look upon” [so E. V.; Cov. shined; Will. beamed; Thrupp: fiercely scanned; Weiss: glanced] (Septuag. παρέβλεψε, comp. Job 20:9), but is here=שָׁדַף (Genesis 41:23) “scorch, blacken,” the sense already expressed by Aquila (συνέκαυαέ με) and the Vulg. (decoloravit me) [Good: discolored; Bur., Gins. browned], and retained by most of the recent interpreters (in opposition to Rosenm., Hengstenb., Weissb.).

[19][Mat. The voice of the Synagogue.]

[20] נִחֲרוּ either Niph. of חרר to burn, glow, (so Ew., Meier, Hitz.), or more probably from חרה (so that the sing. would be נִחֲרָה or נֶחֱרָה); for the Niph. of חרר always elsewhere means “to be dried, parched” (Psalms 69:4; Psalms 102:4, etc.), whilst the meaning demanded here is “to be angry, wroth.” Comp. Gesenius’ Lexicon and Weissb. in loc. [Cov.: had evil will.]

[21][Cov.: Thus was I fain to keep a vineyard, which was not mine own.]

[22][Wic., Mat. The voice of the Church to Christ.]

[23] אִיִכָה elsewhere how? [which Weiss. retains] is here=אֵיפֹה where? so too 2 Kings 6:13, K’thibh, whilst the Kri has אֵיכוֹ

[24] שַׁלָּמָה properly “for why” (comp. אֲשֶׁר לָמָּה, Daniel 1:10), a fuller expression for the simple לָמָּה why, as in Job 34:27, אֲֹשֶר עַל־כֵּן stands for עַל־כֵּן, Psalms 45:3. The sense is correctly given by the Sept. and Syr., which here and in Daniel 1:10 translate “that not, lest” (μήποτε). [Cov.: and that. The critical conjecture mentioned by Williams, that this word should be pointed as a proper name שְׁלֹמחֹ O Solomon is unworthy of attention.—Tr.]

[25][Wic. go vagrant; Cov. lest I go wrong and come unto the flocks of thy companions; E. Ver. one (Genev. she) that turneth aside; Good, Percy, Clarke: wanderer; Williams, Fry: stranger; Taylor: rover; Ginsb.: roaming; E. Ver. Marg. one that is veiled, so Noyes, Weiss., Thrupp.]

[26][Wic., Mat. The voice of Christ to the Church.]

[27] לָךְ is here added inasmuch as the action returns upon its subject (comp. Proverbs 9:12; and Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 8:14 below), so in general Ewald, Lehrb. § 315 a [Green’s Heb. Chrest. note on Isaiah 40:9.]

[28][Wic. my riding; Genev. troop (E. V. company) of horses; Will.: the horse; Noyes: the horses; Gins.: my steed.]

[29][Cov. There will I tarry for thee, my love, with mine host and with my chariots, which shall be no fewer than Pharaoh’s]

[30]The plur. רַעְיוֹת [rather רְעָיוֹת—Tr.] Judges 11:37 K’thibh. [E. Ver. my love, Marg. in Song of Solomon 1:15 : companion; Will.: consort; Fry: partner.]

[31][Genev. rows of stones; E. Ver. rows of jewels; Fry: jewels; With. chains; Thrupp, Ginsb.; circlet; Weiss.: reins.]

[32][Genev. chains; E. Ver. chains of gold; Doway: jewels; Fry: strings of beads; Good, Burrowes: strings of pearls: Thrupp, With., Ginsb. necklace; Weiss.: chains, i.e., such as are attached to the pole or beam of the carriage, and which the horse wears on his neck.]

[33][In addition to the renderings given to this word in the preceding verse, Wic. here translates it: ribands; Cov. neck-band; E. Ver. borders; With. collars.]

[34][Cov. buttons; E. Ver. studs; With. stars.]

[35][Wic. The voice of the Church, of Christ. Mat. The voice of the Church.]

[36][So Cov., Eng. Ver.; Genev. repast; Doway: repose, after the Vulg. accubitu and the LXX ἀνακλίσει; Good: banquet; Fry: ‘the king in his circuit’ may either refer to his going round in some part of the procession, or to taking his stand in the midst of his retinue, or we may translate, ‘until the king had taken his seat;’ Will., Burr, circle of friends; Weiss.: with his guest.]

[37][Ainsw.: bag; Taylor: scent-bag; Good: casket; Burrowes: amulet.]

[38][Cov. O my beloved. E. Ver. my well-beloved, so constantly throughout the book in Genev., except once in Song of Solomon 5:9, “lover.”]

[39][So Cov., Doway, E. Ver. Marg. The text of the Eng. Ver. has camphire.]

[40][Wic., Mat. The voice of Christ to the Church.]

[41][Wic., Mat. The voice of the Church to Christ.]

[42][Cov., Cran., Bish. Our bed is decked with flowers. Dow.: our little bed is flourishing.]

[43][Cov. ceilings.]

[44][Cov. balks; Cran., Bish. cross-joints; E. V.: rafters, Marg.: galleries; Good, Noyes boardings; Parkhurst: ceiling; Gesen.: carved ceiling; Fuerst: carved beams].

[45][E. Ver. fir; Ains. brutin-tree.]

[46][Wic. The voice of Christ, of Him and of the Church; Mat. The voice of Christ.]

[47][Wic., Mat. The voice of the Church, of Christ.]

[48][Cov., Cran., Bish., Dow. throat; Genev. mouth; E. V. taste].

[49][Cov. grapes; Cran., Bish. cups; Genev., E. V. flagons].

[50][E. V. comfort; Marg. straw me; Doway, compass me about; Ainsworth: strew me a bed; Williams: strew citrons around me; Thrupp: strew me with citron leaves].

[51][Wic., Mat. The voice of Christ, of the Church; Wic., Dow. I adjure you; Cov., Cran., Genev., E. V.: I charge you.]

[52][Thrupp has: “fells,” so as to rhyme with “gazelles,” in fancied imitation of the original].

[53][Cov., Dow., Genev. she; E. V. correctly: he; Ginsb., Thrupp: it].

[54][So Patrick, Good, Williams, Taylor, Fry, the last two of whom divide Song of Solomon 1:5 in like manner, assigning the words “but comely,” and “as the curtains of Solomon” to the daughters of Jerusalem, who compliment the bride on her beauty, while she in the remaining clauses speaks depreciatingly of herself; Taylor also apportions Song of Solomon 1:2-3 between the bride and her attendant ladies, to whom Fry adds an imaginary messenger from the king. Harmer carries the sub-division of parts to an equal extent, claiming that not only the variation in number, but the change of person from third to second, and vice versa, indicates a diversity of speakers. The majority of English Commentators regard the bride as the sole speaker in Song of Solomon 1:2, as is done also in the headings to this chapter in the authorized version, and either find in the change of number evidence of the plurality involved in the unity of the speaker, (Poole, Thrupp), or suppose that she in thought associates her companions with herself, we, i.e., “I and the virgins fore-mentioned” (Ainsworth), or that it is the language of modesty, though she means only herself (Clarke)].

[55][Patrick. Scott and Taylor suppose it interrupted by the attendant ladies in Song of Solomon 1:11].

[56][Taylor and Williams make the place to have been the bride’s parlor in Solomon’s palace, and the time the first day of the week preceding the marriage, Song of Solomon 1:1-8 belonging to the morning, and Song of Solomon 1:9 to Song of Solomon 2:7 to the evening of the day. Burrowes follows Harmer in the conjecture that “in the opening scene of this poem the king had probably gone forth, according to Oriental customs, to meet the bride, and was awaiting her with his princely retinue in an encampment where his rich pavilion, Song of Solomon 1:5, stood pre-eminent. The spouse on coming in sight of those kingly tents, gives utterance to the strong emotions of her heart].”

[57][Patrick. As in John 20:15 “the pronoun is used without a consciousness of the absence of the antecedent. Her heart is so full that she supposes every one must know who she means by him].”

[58][“Permission to kiss the hand of a sovereign is considered an honor; but for that sovereign to give another the kisses of his mouth, is evidence of the tenderest affection, and is the highest possible honor.”—Burrowes.]

[59][“Thy love is more reviving and exhilarating than the effects of wine. Comp. Psalms 104:15; Proverbs 31:6.”—Burrowes].

[60][Weiss.: Besides or in addition to the savor, etc. A sense which the prep. rarely has, and which is neither admissible here nor in Exodus 14:28; Leviticus 11:26; Leviticus 16:16, to which he appeals. Incorrectly also the Eng. Ver.: Because of the savor, etc., which must then be connected with “therefore,” etc., in the last clause, the second clause being parenthetic. “She has ointments preparatory to her exaltation; just as Esther was purified to go in to the king, Esther 2:12.”—Withington].

[61][Comp. Eng. To be in good or bad odor’ for good or ill repute. This explanation of the relation of these ideas, which is developed at length by Baehr, Symbolik d. Mos. Cultus, I., p. 459 ff., appears to be too subtle and remote. It is simpler to find the connection in the fact that the odor, like the name, indicates the character or quality of that from which it proceeds, or to which it belongs. It is an efflux from the object itself, the impression which it makes ad extra.—Tr.]

[62][There seems to be no sufficient reason for departing from the authority of the accents in the present instance. “We will run” requires “after thee” as its complement to indicate the direction of the running more than “draw me,” where the direction is sufficiently implied. The violation of the accents is merely for the sake of evading the evidence afforded by the masc. pron. אַחֲרֶיךּ, that “after thee we will run” is still the language of the bride to Solomon—not of her virgin companions to the bride.—Tr].

[63][So too Weiss.: “When the king shall have brought me;” nor is it a prophetic preterite, the bride anticipating the time when she shall be brought (Thrupp). Ginsburg insists that the changes of person in this verse “clearly show that the king here referred to is a separate person from the beloved to whom the maiden is addressing herself.” But he is compelled to acknowledge that just before in Song of Solomon 1:2 the third person and the second both refer to the same subject.—Tr.]

[64][This would seem to compel the conclusion that the marriage has already taken place, and is not still future, as our author supposes.—Tr.]

[65][Fry, who disregards the points; they do right in loving thee. Good alters the text into: thou art every way lovely.]

[66][Eng. Ver., curtains, Ainsworth: the goodly hangings that were in his house and about his bed.]

[67][Look not disdainfully upon me, Hall; do not too accurately scrutinize, Taylor; Gaze with wonder at her presumption, Noyes.]

[68] [The introduction of these figures from pastoral life has occasioned much needless perplexity among interpreters. Clarke says: “How this would apply either to Solomon or to the princess of Egypt, is not easy to ascertain. Probably in the marriage festival there was something like our masks, in which persons of quality assumed rural characters and their employments.” Some have thought this to be a separate and independent composition, unconnected with the preceding in which the king was spoken of. So besides the German fragmentists, Fry, who begins a new idyl with Song of Solomon 1:7 on account of “the entire change of imagery.” Others maintain that the unity of the poem is unbroken, but insist that the king and the shepherd are distinct persons; so Ginsburg and the entire class of interpreters to which he belongs, and extremes meeting here as not infrequently elsewhere, allegorical interpreters have gone so far in the same direction as to allege that these diverse representations are incompatible in application to any literal subject, and that no consistent sense can be made of them but by referring them to Christ. This, however, is to prejudice the beauty and perfection of the allegory, and to damage the spiritual interpretation of the Song itself. The author of the Song is not writing directly of Christ and His church, but only under the figure of a bridegroom and his bride. His language must, therefore, in all cases have immediate application to the latter, and can set forth the former only as the character and relations in which the more immediate subjects are presented, serve as their faithful image. If this image is distorted, wanting in consistency, and its various parts mutually discordant, the effect of the whole is marred, its beauty and its truth are defaced. It is at least safe to say that this is an assumption, which should not be made without necessity.

The objection to the explanation of the bride’s language given by Zöckler is, that it seems to impute to her the silly conceit that her royal husband or betrothed was actually engaged in the occupation of a shepherd, and it makes the reply by the daughters of Jerusalem utterly unmeaning. Withington presents three alternatives, the last of which is the only simple and natural one. This speech “may be a natural mistake of the rural lass on her first union with the king, or it may be the king went into her country to rusticate, or it may be an allegorical expression by which she signifies that the king is a shepherd and his kingdom is a flock.” Williams: “If he be like a good shepherd feeding his flock, administering public benefits and dispensing judgment, why should not I enjoy the common benefit? If he be indulging in retirement, why may not I, who am admitted as his wife, enjoy his company and conversation?”]

[69][Clarke, Burrowes, and others adhere to the singular, “to my mare or steed.” Good drops the pronoun: “one of the steeds,” supposing the final yodh to be paragogic. So the common Eng. Ver., which takes the noun in a collective sense “company of horses,” and is followed by the majority of English commentators, who find in this a proof of its allegorical meaning. The point of comparison according to the Westminster Assembly’s Annotations is “comeliness,” according to Fry “splendid decoration.” Poole, “An horse is a very stately and beautiful creature, and the Egyptian horses were preferred before others, and Pharaoh’s own chariot horses were doubtless the best of their kind.” Thrupp, Wordsworth, Moody Stuart suppose special allusion to the formidable character of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:9; Exodus 14:23. Several classic parallels have been adduced as Theocritus, Idyl, 18:30; Horace, Odes, Song of Solomon 3:11; Sophocles, Electra, 25.—Tr.]

[70][“The mention of the Egyptian steed in Song of Solomon 1:9 naturally suggested the reference here made to the beautiful head-dress of the spouse.” Burrowes. “Whether she be still compared hereby to a company of horses, as in Song of Solomon 1:9, or to a woman is doubtful, for both similitudes do agree to the things here spoken of. The bridles of horses are often adorned with rows (of jewels) especially in kings’ chariots. Also the next words ‘thy neck with chains’ may have like reference; for the kings of Midian when they went to war had chains about their camels’ necks, Judges 8:26.” Ainsworth, so too Gill. Of the ornament spoken of in the first clause Ainsworth further says, “The same word תּוֹר is also used for a ‘turtledove,’ which some therefore take here to be jewels or ornaments that had the figures of ‘turtle-doves.’ ” It is so in fact translated both in the Sept. and Vulg., followed by Wicliffe and Doway, “thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle-doves.” So too Cranmer and Bishops: “thy cheeks and thy neck are beautiful as the turtle’s.” It is needless to say after the explanation given in the commentary that this rendering confounds two entirely distinct words.—Tr.]

[71][Burrowes adopts the conjecture of Harmer in his Outlines, p. 206, that this is the description of a crown. So Moody Stuart: These silver studded circles of gold mean either the royal or the nuptial crown, or both in one. Patrick, Williams, Taylor make this the language not of the bridegroom, but of the attendant virgins.]

[72][Much less so, however, than that which would make the nard refer to a distant shepherd lover, of whose existence there is no evidence. Weiss, who adopts the above rendering gives a peculiar turn to the thought: “The bride is supposed to have been provided with a bundle of spikenard, with which she intended to regale her bridegroom, when he entered the banqueting house or saloon, where the guests and the bride await him, and he approached to salute her according to custom. But unfortunately the bridegroom being detained a long time in another chamber by one of the guests, the bride’s precious bundle of spikenard yielded all its fragrance, and became useless. When he enters, however, Song of Solomon 1:13 it is more than supplied by the delicious odors of the bridegroom’s ointments and spices, which fill all the room.” This belongs to his historical interpretation of it as an emblem of Israel’s losing his pious fervor and lapsing into gross sin, while the Lord was with Moses on Mount Sinai, and the subsequent forgiving love and condescending grace of God.—Tr.]

[73][There is no need of departing from the preterite form of the Hebrew verb to obtain the sense desired. It should be rendered “Whilst the king has been (as he still is) with his company, my nard has yielded its fragrance.”—Tr.]

[74][The meaning of this verse is differently given by Coverdale: “When the king sitteth at the table, he shall smell my nardus.” Her spikenard was not for her own gratification; she had perfumed herself with it for the king’s sake alone, Esther 2:12, and it now gladly diffuses its fragrance in his presence to afford him pleasure. This Fry takes in its literal sense, supposing allusion to the throwing of flowers and perfumes as a token of high respect and complimentary congratulation. To this Noyes adds with an unnecessary degree of hesitation its emblematic sense: “It would seem to be too harsh a figure to suppose ‘my spikenard’ to mean ‘my personal charms and graces’ though such a supposition is favored by the next verse.” Ainsworth suggests the spiritual application: “In her and from her so adorned by her beloved, the odor of the Spirit of God in her, flowed forth and spread abroad to the delight of herself and others.” Thrupp: “The symbolism of the song of songs was outwardly acted, as is recorded in the gospels in the earthly life of the Lord Jesus, and is also permanently embodied in the worship of the Christian church. It was while He sat at table that the feet of our Saviour were on two separate occasions anointed, Luke 7:36-50; John 12:3 ff. And it is in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper that the church still most solemnly presents her sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which she beseeches God of His fatherly goodness to accept.”—Tr.]

[75][“The scene seems to be laid in the kiosk or summerhouse in the royal garden. The green flowery turf is our place of repose; our canopy is cedar interspersed with fir, richly carved.” Burrowes. Better still, GOOD: The lovers are not in a house, but a grove, where the spreading branches of the firs and the cedars are poetically called the beams and the roof of their chamber. Thus Milton, describing Adam’s bower, Par. Lost., 4:692, comp. Homer Il., 24:191. Harmer supposes Song of Solomon 1:16 to be the language of the bride, and Song of Solomon 1:17 that of the bridegroom. She commends the rural beauty of the spot in which they then were. He, impatient to introduce her to his palace, replies in substance: “Arise, my love, and quit this place, pleasant as it is, for equally pleasant and much more commodious will you find the abode to which I am conveying you, it being built of the fragrant cedar, and of other precious wood.” Poole, with many others, supposes the nuptial bed to be referred to “adorned with green garlands or boughs.” Ainsworth: “Green is not meant so much of color as of flourishing growth and increase.”]

Verses 1-7

I. 1 THE SONG OF SONGS, WHICH IS BY SOLOMON

FIRST SONG

The first time the lovers were together at the royal palace (in or near) Jerusalem

(Song of Solomon 1:2 to Song of Solomon 2:7)

FIRST SCENE:

Shulamith and the Daughters of Jeruzsalem

(Song of Solomon 1:2-8)

Shulamith

2 1Let him kiss me with kisses2 of his mouth,

3for better is thy love than wine!

3 In fragrance thine unguents are good;4

5an unguent6 poured forth is thy name,7

therefore virgins love thee.

Shulamith and the Daughters of Jerusalem (in responsive song).

4 Draw me!—after thee will we run!—8

9The king has brought me into his chambers!10

We will exult and be glad in thee,
will commend11 thy love beyond wine!—

Rightly12 do they love thee!

Shulamith

5 13Black I am, but 14comely, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

as the tents of Kedar, as the tent-cloths of Solomon.

6 Look15 not at me, because16 I am dusky,17

because the sun has scorched18 me;

19my mother’s sons were angry20 with me,

made me keeper of the vineyards;—
mine own vineyard I have not kept.21

(Looking around for Solomon)

7 22Tell me, thou whom my soul loveth, where23 feedest thou?

where makest thou (thy flock) to recline at noon?
For24 why should I be as one straying25

by the flocks of thy companions?

Daughters of Jerusalem

8 26If thou know not,27 fairest among women,

go forth in the footprints of the flock
and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

SECOND SCENE:

Solomon and Shulamith

(Song of Solomon 1:9 to Song of Solomon 2:7)

Solomon

9 To my horse28 in Pharaoh’s chariots

I liken29 thee, my dear.30

10 Comely are thy cheeks with chains,31

thy neck with beads.32

11 Chains33 of gold will we make thee

with points34 of silver.

Shulamith

12 35Whilst the king is at his table,36

my spikenard yields its fragrance.

13 A bundle37 of myrrh is my beloved38 to me,

that lodges between my breasts.

14 A cluster of the cyprus-flower39 is my beloved to me,

in the vineyards of Engedi.

Solomon

15 40Lo! thou art fair, my dear,

lo! thou art fair; thine eyes are doves.

Shulamith

16 41Lo! thou art fair, my beloved, yea sweet;

yea our couch is green.42

17 The beams43 of our houses are cedars,

our wainscot44 is cypresses.45

II. 1. 46I am (only) a wildflower of Sharon,

a lily of the valleys.

Solomon

2 As a lily among thorns,

so is my dear among the daughters.

Shulamith.

3 47As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood,

so is my beloved among the sons.
In his shade delighted I sit.
and his fruit is sweet to my palate.48

4 He has brought me into the wine-house,

and his banner over me is love.

5 Stay me with pressed grapes,49

refresh50 me with apples,

for I am sick of love.

6 His left hand is under my head,

and his right embraces me.

7 51I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,52

that ye wake not, and that ye waken not
love till it53 please.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. For the explanation of the title, see the Introduction, § 1 and § 3. To the view of those who assign Song of Solomon 1:2-4 entirely to the “daughters of Jerusalem,” and suppose the words of Shulamith to begin with Song of Solomon 1:5 (Hitz., Vaih. and others, so too Del.) stands opposed—1. That the wish “to be kissed with the kisses of his mouth” could scarcely have been expressed by the ladies of the court, or even by one of them, without filling Shulamith with indignation, of which, however, she shows nothing in what follows. 2. That the way in which the lover is extolled in Song of Solomon 1:2-3, agrees perfectly with the fond encomiums and enthusiastic descriptions which Shulamith subsequently, Song of Solomon 1:13 ff., and Song of Solomon 2:3 ff., bestows upon her loSong Song of Solomon 1:3. That the interchange of the 1st sing. and the 1st plur. plainly points to a diversity of persons speaking, or to an alternation between a single speaker and a whole chorus. This latter circumstance likewise renders their assumption impossible, who (as Ew., Hengstenb., Weissb. and most of the older interpreters) suppose that the whole of Song of Solomon 1:2-7 is spoken by Shulamith. Undoubtedly Shulamith and the ladies of the court here respond to each other in speech or song; yet not so that only the words “Draw me after thee ... chambers” Song of Solomon 1:4 a belong to Shulamith, and all the rest to Song of Solomon 1:5 to the “women of the harem” (so Renan), but simply that all that is in the singular is to be regarded as spoken by her alone, and all that is in the plural by her and the ladies together, so that in particular נרוצה (we will run) and נגילה וגו (we will be glad, etc.) are to be assigned to the ladies who confirm the words of Shulamith by joining in them themselves, while אהרידמשבני (draw me after thee), הביאני המלך חדריו (the king has brought me into his chambers) and מישרים אהבוך (they rightly love thee) belong to Shulamith alone54 (comp. Döpkein loc.) Then Song of Solomon 1:5-7 unquestionably belong to Shulamith alone; Song of Solomon 1:8 again to the ladies of the court, who reply with good-humored banter to the rustic simplicity and naivetê with which she has expressed Song of Solomon 1:7 her desire for her royal lover; Song of Solomon 1:9, ff. to Solomon, who now begins a loving conversation with his beloved, reaching to the close of the act.55 During this familiar and cosy chat, which forms the second scene of the act, the chorus of ladies withdraws to the back-ground, but without leaving the stage entirely; for the concluding words of Shulamith Song of Solomon 2:7 are manifestly directed to them again, and that not as absent, but as present on the stage. The place of the action must be supposed to be some locality in the royal palace or residence in or near Jerusalem, some one of the “king’s chambers” (חדרי המלך) Song of Solomon 1:4; whether precisely the “room devoted to wine parties,” the “wine-room of the royal palace” (Del.), cannot, as it seems, be certainly determined from the repeated reference to the excellence of wine (Song of Solomon 1:2; Song of Solomon 1:4), nor from the mention of the “house of wine” (בית היין2:4); and even the “table” of the king spoken of Song of Solomon 1:12 does not afford a perfectly sure support to this opinion. Only it appears to be certain from Song of Solomon 1:16-17 that we must imagine the scene to be open outwards, and to afford a prospect of fresh verdure and stately trees, such as cedars, cypresses, etc. It must therefore have been either a room in the king’s palace upon Zion immediately adjacent to parks or gardens, or what in view of Song of Solomon 6:2-3 (comp. Song of Solomon 4:16) is still more probable, an open summer-house (or pavilion) in the royal pleasure gardens of Wady Urtas, south of Jerusalem, near Bethlehem and Etam, in those magnificent grounds of David’s splendor-loving son, which probably bordered upon Zion itself, and thence extended southward for several leagues, and of which there still remains at least a grand aqueduct, with three basins lying successively one above another, the so-called “pools of Solomon” (comp. K. Furrer, Wanderungen durch Palästina, Zürich, 1865, p. 178, etc.; C. Hergt, Palästina, p. 278, etc.;Ewald, Geschichte des Volkes Israel, III. 1, p. 64, etc.). That Shulamith had formed a personal acquaintance with the royal gardens in the neighborhood of Jerusalem directly after she had been brought from her home in the north of Israel to Solomon’s court, is shown by her mention Song of Solomon 1:14 of the “vineyards” or “vine-gardens of Engedi,” near the Dead Sea, five or six German miles south-east of Jerusalem, from which however the conclusion must not be drawn that these pleasure-grounds of Engedi formed the scene of the action in the opening of the piece; see on that verse. Weissbach very properly locates the second scene of the Song from Song of Solomon 1:9 onward in the gardens of Solomon near Jerusalem, but puts the action of Song of Solomon 1:1-8 somewhere on the way to this retreat, where Shulamith in her search for her lover chances to meet the women of Jerusalem. But in opposition to this may be urged—1. That there is nothing in the context to indicate a change in the locality between Song of Solomon 1:8-17. The mention of the “king’s chambers” in Song of Solomon 1:4 certainly implies the immediate vicinity of a royal palace, and probably the presence of the speaker in it. 3. It by no means follows from the metaphors borrowed from pastoral life, in which Shulamith speaks of her lover, Song of Solomon 1:7 that she thought he was really to be found in a “pasture ground,” and engaged in feeding sheep. 4. With as little propriety can it be inferred from Song of Solomon 1:8 that Shulamith is represented as wandering about over the country and “accompanied by some little kids, searching for her lover in or near Jerusalem.”56

2. First Scene. Shulamith. Song of Solomon 1:2-3.—Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth.יִשָּׁקֵנִי—for which Hitzig needlessly reads יַשְׁקֵנִי, “let him give me to drink,” etc. (comp. Song of Solomon 8:2)—is manifestly the utterance of a wish, “O that he would kiss me;” and its subject is not פִּיהוּ, “his mouth,” which is too remote and manifestly stands in a genitive relation to נְשִׁיקוֹת “kisses;” nor מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת, equivalent to “one of his kisses” (Ewald, E. Meier), for “a kiss kisses not but is kissed, and מִנְּשִׁיקוֹת includes an accusative” (Hitzig). The speaker’s lover is rather thought of as the kissing subject, the same, whom in the vividness of her conception she immediately afterwards in b and in Song of Solomon 1:3 addresses in the second person, as though he who is so ardently longed for were already present.57 The partitive מִן properly points to but one or a few kisses of her lover as the object of the beloved’s wish; comp. Genesis 28:11; Exodus 16:27; Psalms 132:11, and generally Ew., Lehr., § 217, b, 294, c. [Green’sHeb. Gram., § 242, a]; J. H. Michaelis, in loc., “uno tantum vel altero de osculis.”—”Kisses of his mouth”58 are, moreover, in contrast with the idolatrous custom of hand-kisses, or kissing the hand to any one (Job 31:27; comp. Del., in loc.), tokens of honest love and affection between blood relations and friends (Genesis 29:11; Genesis 33:4; Genesis 41:40; 1 Samuel 10:1; 1 Samuel 20:41; comp. Psalms 2:12), and especially between lovers (Proverbs 7:13). It is not likely that the similarity of the words נשקkiss and שקהdrink gave occasion to the comparison in b of caresses with wine (Weissb.); this comparison is of itself a very natural one; comp. Song of Solomon 4:10; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 8:2.—For better is thy love than wine.דדִֹים different from דַדַּיִם “breasts, paps” (which the LXX here express by μαστοί, and the Vulg. by ubera [so Wic., Cov., Dow.]), as well as from דוֹדִים plur. of דוֹד “beloved” (Song of Solomon 5:1), denotes manifestations of love, caresses, φιλοφροσύναι (comp. Song of Solomon 4:10-11; Song of Solomon 7:13; Proverbs 7:18; Ezekiel 16:8; Ezekiel 23:17), i.e., dalliance, exhibition of אַהֲבָה (Song of Solomon 7:7; Song of Solomon 8:6), fond endearments, (in bad taste Vaih., “Liebelei,” flirtation.) In the comparison of such love with wine, the tertium comparationis is, as is shown by the parallels Song of Solomon 4:10 ff.; Song of Solomon 5:1; Song of Solomon 7:9, ff. not the intoxicating power of wine, but primarily its sweetness59 only; comp. Acts 2:13. The figure of intoxication indicates a higher grade of loving ecstasy than is here intended, comp. Song of Solomon 5:1 b;Proverbs 5:19; Proverbs 7:18, and in general Weissb., in loc.

Song of Solomon 1:3. In fragrance thine unguents are good.לְרֵיחַ, “in respect to odor, as to fragrance,” limits טוֹבִים, “good” (comp. Joshua 22:10; 1 Kings 10:23; Job 32:4), and is emphatically placed at the beginning of the sentence. Commonly: “to the smell,” or “for the smell,” against which, however, lies the twofold objection: 1, that רֵיחַ denotes not the organ of smell, nor the act of smelling, but the odor which any thing exhales (odor, halitus), comp. Song of Solomon 1:12; Song of Solomon 2:13; Song of Solomon 4:10; Song 7:14; Hosea 14:7, etc.; 2, it is not לָרֵיחַ, but simply לְרֵיחַ. Hitzig’s construction is quite too artificial; he connects 3 a with 2 b as its sublimitation, and translates “thy caresses are more precious than wine with the odor of thy precious ointment” (comp. the like mode of connection adopted in the Vulg., “ubera—fragantia unguentis optimis” [so Coverdale, Doway]). So also is that of Weissbach, “thy ointments are good to serve as a perfume,” where too much is evidently foisted into the simple לְרֵיחַ.60An unguent which is poured forth is thy name.—The comparison of a good name with a fragrant unguent is also found, and on the basis of this passage in Hosea 14:7-8; Ecclesiastes 7:1; Sir 49:1. The ideas of smelling and being (or being named, bearing this or that name) are, as a general fact, closely related through the intermediate notion of breathing, respiring; comp. in German “Gerücht, ruchbar.”61 That the name of the lover is thus compared to a costly perfume diffusing a wide fragrance (comp. Mark 14:3; John 12:3) plainly indicates that it is only the renowned King Solomon, an actual possessor of שֵׁם (name, i.e., fame, gloria—comp. Pro 22:1; 1 Kings 1:47; Job 30:3), who can be thought of as this lover, and not a simple country swain (so Weissb. properly against Herd., Umbr., etc.).—Therefore virgins love theei.e., not barely on account of this thy renown, but on account of all the excellencies celebrated in Song of Solomon 1:2-3. Observe that עֲלָמוֹת is without the article. It is not the virgins universally, but simply virgins, such as Shulamith herself, or the “daughters of Jerusalem,” the ladies of Solomon’s court, by whom she sees herself surrounded, that she describes as lovers, as reverential admirers of the graceful, brilliant and lovely king. The guileless country lass, who has but recently been transferred into the circle of the countless virgins of the royal court (comp. Song of Solomon 6:8) here accounts to herself for the fact that many other virgins besides her are attached to the king with admiring devotion and love; comp., 4. e.

3. Shulamith and the daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon 1:4. Draw me after thee—as it is to be translated with the Targ., Luth. and most of the recent expositors, connecting contrary to the common accentuation אַחֲרֶיךָ with מָשְׁכֵנִי, which requires it as its proper complement;62 comp. Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3. By this drawing is meant, as appears from b, a drawing into the king’s chambers, or at least into immediate proximity to him, not a conducting out of the palace into the country, as the advocates of the swain-hypothesis suppose, who see in these words an ardent call upon her distant lover.—We will runi.e., not, “let us take flight, and hasten hence” [so Ginsburg: “Oh, let us flee together!”], as though here again there were a cry for help to her absent lover; but: “we will hasten to him,” viz.: the gracious king; a lively exclamation uttered by Shulamith, and at the same time by the chorus of the daughters of Jerusalem catching the word from her.—The king has brought me into his chambers—a simple expression of the virgin’s rapturous joy at the high honor and delight granted her by the king. As the words stand, they contain neither an indirect petition or complaint addressed to her distant lover (to which the following clauses of the verse would agree poorly enough), nor a wish directed to the king—as though the preterite הֱבִיאַנִי were to be taken in the sense of a precative or optative: “O that the king had brought me into his chambers” (so, e.g., Hug, Weissb.), nor finally a condition dependent on the following נָגִילָה וגו (so Hahn, who supplies אִם, if, before הֱבִיאַנִי. “If the king brings me into his chambers, we will,”63etc. Furthermore, the “king’s chambers” are by no means simply identical with the harem, the house of the women belonging to the royal palace (Vaih., Ren., etc.); this would rather have been designated בֵּית הַנָּשִׁים, as in Esther 2:3; Esther 2:9, ff., or simply called בית, house, as in 1 Kings 7:8; 1 Kings 9:24; Psalms 68:13, etc. They are 2 Samuel 4:7; 2 Samuel 13:10, the king’s own rooms in the palace, his sleeping apartments and sitting-rooms, penetralia regis, in distinction from those of his wives and the ladies of the court, which formed a particular division of the royal palace. Comp. 1 Kings 7:8; Esther 2:12-14. Into these the king’s own innermost apartments, Shulamith, as the favored object of his special love, had been repeatedly brought,—nay, she has in them her own proper abode and residence. She had therefore a perfect right to say: “The king has brought me into his chambers.”64We will exult and be glad in thee.—With these words, which recall Psalms 31:7; Psalms 118:24; Isaiah 25:9; Joel 2:21; Joel 2:23, the ladies of the court again chime in with the language of Shulamith, in order to commend with her the happiness of belonging to the number of those who were loved by the king. בָּךְ, in thee, belongs in equal measure to both verbs; comp. Isaiah 65:19.—We will celebrate thy love more than wine.—Comp. Song of Solomon 1:2.—Rightly do they love thee.—The most obvious construction is to make the virgins again the subject, as in 3c, and consequently to regard Shulamith as again the speaker. But the 3d plur. might also be taken impersonally (they, i.e., people generally love thee. Comp. יָבֻזוּ, they despise, Song of Solomon 8:1), and then the clause might be spoken by the entire chorus. מֵישָׁרִים, an adverbial accusative (as, e.g., פְּלָאִים, wonderfully, Lamentations 1:9), means neither “without reserve” (Weissb.), nor “sincerely” (Gesen., Del.) [so Noyes; Eng. Ver. marg.: uprightly], but, as appears from the context and the parallels Psalms 48:2; Psalms 75:3, “with good reason, rightly” (Ew., Hitzig, Vaih., etc.). This word is taken as the subject by the Sept. (εὐθύτης), Vulg. (recti diligunt te), Hengstenb. (rectitudes, i.e., abst. for concrete, the upright love thee), Umbr. (O favorite of all the virtues), etc. [so Eng. Ver., Thrupp, Wordsworth, Withington, Ginsburg], interpretations as ungrammatical as they are unsuited to the connection. The attempts at emendation proposed by Velth., Schelling, Augusti, are altogether unnecessary65 (see Weissb., in loc.).

4. Shulamith. Song of Solomon 1:5-7.

Song of Solomon 1:5. Black I am, but comely.—The explanation of the fact that she was black (שְׁחוֹרָה) contained in the following verse shows that by this blackness can only be meant her being browned by the hot sun. Then too in Lamentations 4:8 the substantive שְׁחוֹר denotes only the livid or swarthy appearance of one who has suffered long from famine and wretchedness, and in this very passage the strong expression “black” is qualified by the diminutive “blackish” (שְׁחַרְחֹרֶת) in the verse immediately following.—Moreover, the whole statement before us was occasioned according to Song of Solomon 1:6, by the curious looks with which Shulamith had meanwhile been regarded by many of the daughters of Jerusalem and probably also by jeering remarks which they had made (comp. Song of Solomon 1:8). “But comely” [Taylor: attractive, engaging] (נָאוָה., lit., “agreeable”); the plain country maid hereby expresses with frank, straightforward simplicity her consciousness that nevertheless she was not altogether unworthy of the love of Solomon. There is no vain self-laudation in the words.—As the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.—The first of these comparisons is designed to illustrate and set before the mind the idea of blackness, the second that of comeliness or elegance. “Kedar is a Bedawîn tribe near Palestine in the Arabian desert, Genesis 25:13; Isaiah 21:17, which is here named in preference to all others, simply because the name קֵדָר seems originally to denote “blackness.” Tents of poor Bedawîns, which are always exposed to the heat of the sun, must certainly appear blacker and less attractive than those of Solomon; and we need not therefore with other interpreters (see especially Hitz. and Weissb. who refer to the observations of modern travellers as della Valle, Burckhardt, Harmer, Volney, etc.,) have recourse to the tents now commonly covered with black goat skins, as Shulamith only has in mind the blackness caused by the sun’s rays. But Solomon’s tents as a figure of the greatest elegance can only correspond to נָאוָהcomely. We may without difficulty assume that the splendor-loving Solomon adopted the custom of oriental monarchs of living in tents once in the year in some charming district and in the utmost elegance and splendor (comp. the remarks above, Song of Solomon 1:1, respecting the pleasure grounds at Etham and Engedi.) It is, therefore, wholly unnecessary to understand by יְרִיעוֹת (with Del., Hitz., etc.,) tapestry,66 which is neither permitted by usage nor by etymology, from יָרַעcontinuit, prop. velum, then tent-cloth.” We shall have in the main to abide by this explanation of the passage given by Ewald, although we might assign to יְרִיעָה a different etymology, and derive it perhaps with Gesenius from יָרַעto tremble, flutter, or with Weissb. from יָרַעto be bad, i. e., of coarse, inferior workmanship. The two comparisons are in any case understood in quite too artificial a manner by the latter and by several others, who assume that both the tents of Kedar and the tent-coverings of Solomon set forth the peculiar combination of dark color with attractiveness in Shulamith’s looks (for which an appeal is made to the testimony of travellers like D’Arvieux, Shaw, etc., according to whom a plain filled with the black tents of the Bedawîn presents a very pleasing and even beautiful spectacle.) In opposition to Böttcher’s view, who though he assigns the words “Black am I, daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar” to the “vinedresser,” i.e., to Shulamith, refers the rest (“but comely” and “as the tent cloths of Solomon”) to an “elderly princess,” who looks with astonishment at the new comer, comp. Hitz. in loc., who properly rebukes the extravagance of the dissecting mania here exhibited.

Song of Solomon 1:6. Look not at me because I am dusky, because the sun has scorched me. There is nothing in the context to indicate that the “look” is one of approval, in admiration of her beauty67 (versusBöttcher, Hitz., etc.) Comp. above on Song of Solomon 1:5. My mother’s sons were angry with me.Velth., Umbr., Ewald needlessly think of step-brothers or half-brothers; the passages adduced for this purpose Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 20:11 : Deuteronomy 23:2, etc., are outweighed by many others as Genesis 27:29; Psalms 50:20; Psalms 69:9; Deuteronomy 13:7, where “mother’s sons” corresponds in the parallelism to “brothers,” and consequently is entirely synonymous with it. And this expression is the less surprising in Shulamith’s mouth since like a true Hebrew daughter she is in the habit of denominating everything after her mother; comp. “my mother’s house,” Song of Solomon 3:4; Song of Solomon 8:2, and so too Ruth 1:8. We need not even assume that she would intimate a less favorable judgment of her brothers as more or less strange or distant in their bearing to her (Rocke, Hitz.); and there is still less to justify the assumption that her brothers are by this expression emphatically designated as Shulamith’s own brothers-german (vs.Magnus.) Yet it may with considerable probability be inferred from the expression before us, that Shulamith’s father was no longer living at the time of this transaction, and her brothers had assumed the prerogatives of a father (comp. Genesis 34:5, ff.; 2 Samuel 13:20 ff.), but that her mother meanwhile was still living, which also seems to be favored by Song of Solomon 6:9, (Song of Solomon 8:2; Song of Solomon 3:4).—Made me keeper of the vineyards. This manifestly does not assign the reason of her brothers’ anger, nor is this intimated in the following clause (vs. Hengstenberg and E. Meier), it is rather passed over in silence as irrelevant. But this clause tells what her brothers did in consequence of their anger, and then the last clause states what further happened to her when degraded into a vineyard-keeper.—Mine own vineyard I have not kept.—The addition of שֶׁלִּי not only gives a special emphasis to the suffix in כַּרְמִי, but distinguishes the vineyard of Shulamith here named as quite distinct and of another sort from those of her brothers, which she had been obliged to keep (Song of Solomon 8:12). It is a vineyard of a higher and more valuable kind, which alas! she had not carefully guarded. She herself with all that she has and is, must be intended by this vineyard of her own (comp. Del. and Weissb. in loc.), or it may be her beauty (Ew., Döpke., Magn., Heiligst., Hitz., Vaih.),—at all events every thing that she had to surrender to Solomon and devote to him when she became his beloved and followed him. There is, in these words, no serious lament for her lost virtue (on the contrary see Song of Solomon 4:12-16) or for her forsaken lover (as Böttcher, Meier and tentatively also Vaih.); but they contain a lament half in jest or with mingled sadness and irony for her forfeited freedom, for which she constantly longs in spite of her attachment to her royal lover. In favor of this double meaning of “vineyard” may also be urged the etymology of כֶּרֶם, which agreeably to its derivation from the root כרם, signifies the “noblest,” the “most valued possession,” the “highest good,” (comp. Hosea 2:17; Isaiah 5:7; Psalms 16:6, as well as Ewald and Hitzigin loc.).

Song of Solomon 1:7. Tell me, thou whom my soul loveth, where feedest thou? To this dreamy exclamation of longing desire for her still absent lover, the close of the preceding verse forms a thoroughly appropriate introduction. Despoiled of her freedom and her beloved home she can only then feel happy amid the new and splendid objects which surround her, when he from love to whom she has forsaken all and to whom her whole heart belongs, is actually close beside her. הַגִּידָה לִּי “inform me” not “cause me to be informed,” for הגיד always denotes an immediate declaration or announcement. This expression would manifestly be less suited to an address to a far distant lover. The paraphrase of the idea דּוֹדִי by the fond circumlocution “whom my soul loveth” is found four times beside in the beautiful section Song of Solomon 3:1-4.—Shulamith represents her royal lover as “feeding” and then as “reclining” (or more exactly as “causing to recline,” viz., his flock) simply because, as a plain country girl, she supposes that she can directly transfer to him the relations and occupations of country life, and hence assumes that the king may now be somewhere in the fields with his flocks, and have sought with them some shady resting-place as a protection from the hot noon-day sun. That Solomon was just then residing in his pleasure grounds near Jerusalem, that is to say in the country, might favor this artless conception of hers (comp. above on Song of Solomon 1:5.) But the assumption of Weissbach is needless, that Solomon was then actually engaged in the over-sight of his flocks (Ecclesiastes 2:7) like Absalom and his brothers who, according to 2 Samuel 13:23, ff., were accustomed to manage the sheep-shearing themselves, and to convert it into a merry-making. Nothing further is to be sought in the expressions before us, than a ready trope from pastoral life, and consequently one of those criteria which mark this poem as at least a partially idyllic or pastoral drama (comp. Introduc. § 1, Rem. 3). That Joseph’s going to the pasturage of his brethren, Genesis 37:15-16, was what specially suggested the present figurative representation is too far-fetched, though asserted by Hengstenberg, and connected with his allegorical mode of interpretation. Parallels for this “reclining at noon” may better be adduced from the figurative language of the prophets, as Isaiah 49:10; Psalms 23:2; Ezekiel 34:13-15, or even from the ancient classics, as Theocritus, Id., Song of Solomon 1:14-15; Song of Solomon 6:4; 25:216: Horace, Od., III. 29:21; Virg. Georg. III. 324 ff.68

For why should I be as one straying?etc.כְּעטְֹיָה is very variously explained. עָטָה “to cover” is commonly regarded as its theme, and it is accordingly translated “as one veiled” [so Eng. Ver. margin] i.e., as a harlot, Genesis 38:14-15 (Rosenm., Del.) [so Thrupp, Burrowes, Noyes]; or as “one ashamed, veiled through shame” (Umbreit, Döpke, Hengstenberg), or “as one unknown” (Ewald, Heiligst., who compare the Arab. غطىobscurus fuit, occultavit) [Williams: as a stranger], or “as a mourner,” (so some of the older commentators, as R. Solomon ben Melek, [Ainsworth] after 2 Samuel 15:30). [Weiss.: Muffled up as eastern women always were when exposed to the eyes of strangers, and as a shepherdess subject to insolent and injurious treatment from the shepherds, comp. Exodus 2:16-19]. But the signification “cover” can no more be proved for עטה, than that of “pining away,” which Schultens (Op. Min. p. 240), Rocke and others have sought to establish for the word. The Vulgate (ne vagari incipiam), Symmach. (ὡς ῥεμβομένη), Syr. and Targ., favor the meaning of wandering or straying, which is admirably suited to the context; [Clarke: as a wanderer; one who not knowing where to find her companions wanders fruitlessly in seeking them.] In proof of it we shall not need Böttcher’s emendation כְשׂטְיָה (“as a country-stroller”), but simply Hitzig’s assumption that עֹטְיָה by a transposition of the ע is for טוֹעָה (= תּוֹעָה comp. Genesis 37:15); comp. ערף רעף עטף = Arab. ضعفetc., (a view as old as Kleukerin loc., who with S. Bochart actually proposes to read כְטֹעְיָה). The following expression “by the flocks of thy companions” is closely connected with this idea as the more exact limitation of the “straying.” The “straying by the flocks of the king’s companions,” is nothing but a figure of speech for remaining among the throng of ladies in the royal court without the presence of the king himself; and that is just the veritably desolate and forlorn condition, from which Shulamith wishes to be released by the return of her lover. Hitzig arbitrarily explains the wandering of a wandering of her thoughts; and still more arbitrarily Weissbach seeks to give to עטה (with the following עַל for אֶל) the sense of “laying hands upon, purloining” (“that I, by the flocks of thy companions, be not regarded as one who will lay hands upon them,” and for that reason is sneaking about them watching his opportunity.)

5. The daughters of Jerusalem.

Song of Solomon 1:8. If thou know not, fairest among women,etc. This address (lit. “the fair (one) among the women.” compare [Green’sHebrew Grammar, § 260, 2 (2)], Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 513, c) which is also used Song of Solomon 5:9; Song of Solomon 6:1 by the “daughters of Jerusalem” in speaking to Shulamith, does not prove that the counsel here given “to follow the tracks of the flocks and pasture her kids beside the shepherds’ huts” is a seriously meant exhortation to Shulamith to return to the condition of a shepherdess, or a friendly direction to her on her way to the royal flocks (Weissb.). This language is evidently an “answer adapted to the narrow range of thought implied in Shulamith’s question (which must necessarily appear foolish to the ladies of the court) and hence an unmeaning one, after which the fair shepherdess knew neither more nor less than she did before” (Del.). It is therefore jeeringly intended, and if it did not exactly wound her deeply, it was certainly adapted to increase Shulamith’s longing for her lover.—אִם־לֹא תֵדְעִי means neither “if thou do not know thyself” (Sept., Luth.), nor “if thou art deficient in understanding” (Ewald, Hitzig, etc., who appeal to Isaiah 1:3; Isaiah 56:10, passages not appropriate in this connection), but conformably to the similar passage, Song of Solomon 6:12, “if thou know not,” viz.: where thy lover feeds, this object being readily supplied from the context.—צְאִי־לָךְ בְּעִקְבֵי הַצֹּאן “go out at the heels of the flock,” i.e., go after it, follow its tracks, comp. Judges 4:10; Judges 5:15. יָצָא therefore denotes here, as the Hiphil in Isaiah 40:26; 2 Samuel 5:2, going forth with the flock, not going out of the palace (Vaih., etc.).—“Thy kids,” i.e., the kids which as such an enthusiastic admirer of country life, and a shepherd’s occupation you must certainly have. That she actually had some with her (Weissb.) by no means follows from this expression.

6. Second Scene. Solomon, Song of Solomon 1:9-11. The king has now returned from the engagements, which had hitherto detained him from his women, and he begins a tender conversation with Shulamith, who is favored by him above all the rest; during which the others withdraw into the background. Comp. No. 1, above.

Song of Solomon 1:9. To my horse in Pharaoh’s chariots, literally: “to my mare;” for סוּסָה can scarcely stand collectively for סוּסִים “horses, a body of horse,” (Vulg. “equitatui;Hengstb., Weissb., etc.), and there is nothing to justify its being pointed לְסוּסֹתַי (Magn., Hitz.). The singular לְסוּסָתִי evidently refers to a favorite mare of the king (comp. Zechariah 10:3), to a particularly fine, and splendidly caparisoned specimen of those τέσσαρες χιλιάδες θήλειαι ἵπποι, which according to 1 Kings 10:26, Sept., Solomon had for his chariots; and more exactly to such a steed used on state occasions in Solomon’s “Pharaoh-chariots,” i.e., in those costly Pharaonic spans of horses, which according to 1 Kings 10:28-29, he had imported from Egypt. Solomon compares his beloved to this mare of his, harnessed and magnificently decorated before stately Pharaoh-chariots (not exactly before one of them, Vatabl.), and that “on account of her youthful bloom and her unaffected demeanor, whose lovely charms are still further heightened by the simple ornaments worn upon her head and neck, Song of Solomon 1:10-11” (Del.). The point of the comparison is not to be sought exclusively in the proud bearing of the horse, Job 39:19, etc. (Ewald, Vaih., etc.), any more than in the glittering ornaments of his head and neck. In opposition to Weissb., who thinks merely of the latter, and referring to Hartmann’sHebräerin am Putztische, (Hebrew woman at her Toilet), Olearius“Persische Reisen” (Travels in Persia), etc. [see also Harmer’sOutlines, p. 205, and the illustrations of a bride’s dress, in Calmet’sDictionary] maintains that there was a marked similarity between the ornaments of pearls and chains worn by horses and by women in the East, and consequently by Shulamith in the present instance, it may be said that according to Song of Solomon 1:11 Solomon now first proposes to adorn his beloved with the proper gold and silver ornaments, and therefore she did not yet wear a burdensome head and neck ornament like a richly bridled mare.69My dear; comp. Song of Solomon 1:15; Song of Solomon 2:2; Song of Solomon 4:1, etc., where the same familiar form of address recurs.

Song of Solomon 1:10. Comely are thy cheeks in chains.תּוֹר kindred with &דּוֹר טוֹרetc., is equivalent to a circle, ring; in the plural consequently it denotes a chain composed of many rings, which goes around from the head under the chin, by which therefore the cheeks are encircled. Shulamith may not have brought this ornament together with the necklaces named in b (חֲרוּזִים kindred with &הרש חרט, little disks of metal or corals pierced and strung together) with her from the country, but may have received it as a present from Solomon since her coming to the royal court. Solomon, however, is not satisfied with this simple ornament, but promises her, Song of Solomon 1:11, much richer and more splendid jewels,—scarcely with the view of alluring her and binding her to his court (as even Del. supposes) but simply to adorn yet more handsomely one who is so lovely, and to have his full pleasure in her as a magnificently attired princess.70

Song of Solomon 1:11. Chains of gold—with points of silver. Needlessly, and quite too artificially, Weissb. will have us understand by the נְקֻדּוֹת הַכֶּסֶף something similar to the חֲרוּזִים little disks of silver pierced and strung together, which might be worn along with the gold chains. But עִםwith by no means requires this explanation (comp. Song of Solomon 4:13): it rather leads to the far more natural assumption that the golden chains were dotted with silver “punctis argenteis distincti” (Hitzig).71

7. Shulamith Song of Solomon 1:12-14.

Song of Solomon 1:12. Whilst the king (is) at his table, my spikenard yields its fragrance. If these words were to be translated: “whilst the king was at his table, my spikenard yielded its fragrance” (Rosenmueller, Ewald, Hengstenb., Vaih., Weissb., etc.), they could only mean: “as long as Solomon was absent, and did not burden me with his attentions, I was happy in the memory of my friend;” they would accordingly bear an emphatic testimony to the correctness of the herdsman or shepherd-hypothesis; for that the “fragrance of the spikenard” is to be taken literally and explained of the costly nard-oil on Shulamith’s hair and garments, which had been as it were suppressed and far exceeded by the coming of her lover with his much more delightful fragrance (Weissb.) is a very far-fetched explanation of these simple words.72 They are rather to be taken as referring to the present, because the fact of there being no הָיָהwas in the protasis makes against the preterite sense of נָתַןgive73 (comp. Hitz. in loc.) and because מֵסַב does not properly mean table, but rather company, festive assembly (comp. the adverbial use of the word in the singular, 1 Kings 6:29, and in the plural, 2 Kings 23:5; Job 37:12) and consequently points to the place where the king then was, to the women’s apartment of his palace or park in contrast with his former stay in the fields, with the soldiers, on the chase, or elsewhere. The fragrance of Shulamith’s nard is accordingly a figurative designation of the agreeable sensations or delightful feelings produced in her heart by the presence of her lover (comp. Del.: “it only emits again that fragrance, which it has absorbed from his glances”), a representation which by no means sounds too refined and courtly for this simple country girl, this child of nature, which therefore Hitzig very needlessly puts (as well as Song of Solomon 1:13) into the mouth of an enamored court lady as a voluptuous piece of flattery for Solomon.74 For נֵרְדְּ, which must here denote not a stalk of the well-known Indian plant Valeriana Jatamansi (Magn., Böttcher), but the aromatic unguent prepared from it, and that as poured out, and consequently emitting its fragrance, comp. Winer, R. W. B. Art., “Narde.” [Smith’sDictionary of the Bible, Art. Spikenard. Kitto’sBiblical Cyclopedia, Art. Nerd].

Song of Solomon 1:13. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me. Evidently an advance upon the figure of the fragrant nard. The royal lover, who now rests upon Shulamith’s bosom, is compared by her to a parcel of the costly myrrh-gum such as the ladies of the East are in the habit of carrying in their bosom. צְרוֹר הַמּרֹ is not a bunch [so Noyes] or sprig of myrrh (Ewald, Delitzsch, etc.) for there is no more evidence of any aromatic quality in the branches and leaves of the myrrh tree than there is of its occurrence in Palestine at all. We must therefore think of a bundle or box (not exactly a flask, as Weissb. proposes, contrary to the meaning of צְרוֹר) of semi-fluid, or fluid myrrh gum, and must besides compare the use of this gum as an unguent, which is vouched for also in Song of Solomon 5:5; Song of Solomon 5:13; Esther 2:12; Exodus 30:28. On the carrying of boxes of ointment by Hebrew women, comp. also Isaiah 3:20; Job 42:14, and Hartmann, die Hebräerin am Putztische II., p. 280 f.

Song of Solomon 1:14. A cluster of Cyprus is my beloved to me.כֹּפֶרSept.: (κύπρος here and Song of Solomon 4:13) is the Cyprus flower or Alhenna, which is indigenous to India, and probably to Egypt (Pliny, H. N. xii. 24) and may have been transplanted by Solomon in his vineyards at Engedi (on which comp. No. 1 above) for the sake of the peculiarly strong odor of its yellowish-white, grape-like clusters of flowers. [See Harmer’sOutlines, pp. 218–221; Shaw’sTravels, pp. 113, ‘4: Sonnini’sVoyage, pp. 291–302]. Comp. in respect to the fondness of oriental women for this aromatic plant the testimony of a recent traveller in the “Ausland,” 1851, No. 17. “The white Henna-blossoms, which grow in clusters and are called Tamar-henna, have a very penetrating odor, which seems disagreeable to the European who is unaccustomed to it; but the Orientals have an uncommon liking for this odor, and prefer it to any other. The native women commonly wear a bouquet of Tamar-henna on their bosom.” The Hebrew name of this plant might with Simonis and others be derived from כפר to cover, with allusion to the custom which prevails among Oriental women of staining their finger nails yellow with Henna powder, but it is more natural to refer כֹּפֶר as well as κύπρος and the Lat. cuprum to the Sanskrit root cubh, “to shine, be yellow,” whence cubhra. The exact parallelism between Song of Solomon 1:13-14, and in general the intimate connection of Song of Solomon 1:12-14, with their figures taken without exception from the region of vegetable aromas further yields decided testimony against Hitzig’s division of the passage as though Song of Solomon 1:12-13, belonged to one of the women of the Harem, and only Song of Solomon 1:14 to Shulamith.

8. Solomon, Shulamith, Song of Solomon 1:15-17.

Song of Solomon 1:15. Lo! thou art fair, my dear. The fond ardor, with which she has just spoken of her lover, has doubled the expressive beauty of her features. The perception of this leads Solomon full of rapture to praise her beauty.—Thine eyes are doves,i.e., not “thine eyes are doves’ eyes,” as though (like Psalms 45:7; 1 Kings 4:13, Ezra 10:13) the const. עֵינֵי were to be supplied; and the dove-like simplicity and fidelity of Shulamith’s eyes were to be brought into the account as the point of comparison (Vulg., Syr., Ibn Ezra, Vat., Gesen., Del., etc.), [Eng. Ver.]; but as is shown both by the context and the parallel passage, Song of Solomon 5:12, “thine eyes resemble the lustrous and shimmering plumage of doves,” wherein more particularly the white of the eyes is compared to that of the body, and the lustrous iris to the metallic lustre of the neck or wings of the dove (comp. Psalms 68:14). Correctly therefore the Sept.: ὀφθαλμοί σου περιστεραί, and in the later times Targ., Rashi, Hengstenberg, Hitzig, etc.) [So Hodgson, Williams, Fry, Thrupp, etc.].

Song of Solomon 1:16. Lo! thou art fair, my beloved, yea sweet. The exactly analogous form of expression, with which Shulamith here answers the flattering caresses of the king, makes it appear to the last degree forced to regard these words of hers as addressed to a distant lover. The climacteric אַף נָעִים “yes sweet, yes charming” is only the expression of her loving transport, and finds an illustrative commentary in the description Song of Solomon 2:3-5. [Will., Gins. connect this adjective with what follows: “Lovely is our verdant couch”].—Yea, our couch is green, lit.: “greens, grows green” (רַעֲנָנָה) a reference to the stately, verdant, and refreshing natural surroundings, in the midst of which to their delight their loving intercourse now takes place, and perhaps more particularly to a shady grassplot under the trees of the park, upon which they were for the moment sitting or reclining; comp. § 1 above, and Weissb. in loc. In opposition to Hengstenb., who takes עֶרֶשׂ in the sense of “marriage-bed,” and רַעֲנָן in a purely figurative sense of a gladsome and flourishing condition, may be urged that no mention can be made of a marriage-bed for Shulamith and Solomon before their nuptials, which are not described until Song of Solomon 3:6, etc.; likewise the contents of the following verses, especially Song of Solomon 2:1-3, which point to a continued stay of the lovers in the open air, under shady trees, and beside fragrant flowers.75

Song of Solomon 1:17. The beams of our houses are cedars, our wainscoting cypress-trees. This can neither be the language of the “choir of women belonging to the harem” (Böttcher), whose entrance here would be to the last degree disturbing; nor even of Solomon (Hitzig, Weissb., Ren.) to whom the beauty of the place where they are, is a matter of perfect indifference, by reason of the rapture with which he regards his beloved; but only that of Shulamith, the innocent, light-hearted child of nature, who has just begun to express her pleasure in that lovely spot in the open air, to which her lover had conducted her, and whose words would sound quite unfinished and end abruptly if nothing further were added to the commendation of their verdant couch.—”Cedars” and “cypresses,” also named together Isaiah 14:8; Zechariah 11:2, as costly species of wood for building and stately, lofty trees, are here evidently meant in the literal sense, of living trees of this description, such as were to be found, along with other rare and noble plants, in the royal gardens of a king so skilled in nature and so fond of splendor. The figurative part of her language lies rather in the “beams” and the “wainscoting” (רָחִיטִים from רהט = Ar. جرط “to hew,” hence = laquearia of the Vulg., wainscoting on walls and ceilings—not. “pillars,” Weissb., nor “rafters,” Vatabl. and L. Cappell, [so E. V.], nor “floor,” Hengstenberg, who prefers the K’ri רָהיטִים). She, who had hitherto been without Solomon in the showy apartments of the palace, felicitates herself that she can now rest with him under the green trees of the garden, which seem to her to arch over them a far finer ceiling than those richly adorned halls. It is impossible to reconcile the mention of cedars, which only grew wild in Lebanon, not in central or northern Palestine, and consequently not in the vicinity of Shunem, with the shepherd hypothesis, whose advocates here find expressed Shulamith’s longing for the verdure and shade of her home (e.g.Ewald, Vaih.).

For the DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL comments, see Song of Solomon 2:7 ff.

Footnotes:

[1][Wicliffe: The Church of the coming of Christ speaketh, saying. Matthews: The voice of the Church. Cover-Dale: O that thy mouth would give me a kiss, for thy breasts are more pleasant than wine, and that because of the good and pleasant savor.].

[2]On the combination of the kindred words נשק and נשיקה. Comp. 1 Kings 1:12; 1 Kings 2:16; Isaiah 1:13; Isaiah 8:10; Jonah 1:10; Jonah 1:16, and generally Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 281 a, [Green’s Heb. Gram. § 271, 3].

[3][Wicliffe: The voice of the Father.]

[4][Thrupp’s proposed emendation לריח שמני קטורים “like as the scent which cometh from incenses,” is nothing but ingenious trifling, and has not even the merit of being good Hebrew.—Tr.]

[5][Wic. The voice of the Church.]

[6]Observe the assonance in שֶׁמֶן and שֵׁם which is probably intentional. [Thrupp: as ointment thou art, by thy name, poured forth.]

[7]In regard to the construction of the words שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ four views are possible: 1. שֵׁם is taken as the subject, and תּוּרַק as 3 pers. fem. here employed because שֵׁם is exceptionally used as a feminine after the analogy of the Ethiopic (so Ew.: “thy name is poured out as an ointment;” Vaih.: “as the fragrance of balsam thy name pours itself forth,” etc.) 2. שֶׁמֶן is regarded as the subject, which is here exceptionally treated as feminine, and to which תּוּרַק belongs as a relative clause; “an unguent, which is shed forth, is thy name” (so the Septuag., Vulg., Luth. and the generality of interpreters). 3. שֶׁמֶן is taken as a masc., but the form תּוּרַק is regarded as a hardened form for יוּרַק (after the analogy of Isaiah 44:28; Ecclesiastes 10:15), and accordingly translated as before (Hitzig). 4. תּוּרַק is held to be the 2 pers. sing. fut. Hophal with a double accusative: “thou art poured forth in respect to thy name as ointment,” i.e., thou, or more precisely thy name, diffusest a noble fragrance, like a box of ointment which is emptied of its contents (so J. H. Michaelis: “sicut oleum effunderis nomine tuo;” Hengstenb., Weissb.). This last construction is to be preferred as grammatically the best established, while it agrees in sense substantially with Nos. 2 and 3.

[8][Matt. Yea, that same moveth me also to run after thee.]

[9][Matt. The spousess to her companions.]

[10][Cov., Cranmer, Bishops: “privy chamber;” Doway: “cellars,” altered in later editions to “store-rooms.”]

[11]Upon הִזְכִּיר prop. “to mention, bring to remembrance,” then “to mention with praise, celebrate,” comp. Psalms 20:8; Isaiah 48:1; Isaiah 63:7; also Ps. 45:18; 1 Chronicles 16:4, where it is parallel to הוֹדה thank, praise.

[12][Cov. Well is them that love thee. Eng. Ver. The upright, Marg. uprightly. Noyes, Burrowes: sincerely.]

[13][Wic. The Church, of her tribulations. Mat. The voice of the Church in persecution. Cov., Cran. I am black, (O ye daughusalem) like as the tents of the Cedarenes and as the hangings of Solomon; but yet I am fair and well-favored withal. Ginsburg: swarthy.]

[14][Withington: fair; Burrowes: lovely.]

[15][Cov. marvel; Doway: consider; Williams, Noyes: gaze; With. scorn; Ginsburg: disdain.]

[16] שֶׁ signifies in both instances, in שֶׁאֲניִ and in שֶׁשְׁזָפַהְני not “for,” but “for the reason that,” “because” (εἰς έκεῖυο ὅτι); comp. Exodus 2:2. The second clause is therefore co-ordinated with the first, although explanatory of it (comp. Weissb. in loc.)

[17][Cov.: so black. E. Ver. black; Doway: brown; Weiss: swarthy; Bur., Thrupp: dark.] On שְׁחַרְחרֶת blackish, dusky (not “very black, deep black,” as Hitz. and formerly Ewald too would have it), comp. on Song of Solomon 1:5 above [Green’s Heb. Gram., § 188].

[18] שָׁזַף is not “look upon” [so E. V.; Cov. shined; Will. beamed; Thrupp: fiercely scanned; Weiss: glanced] (Septuag. παρέβλεψε, comp. Job 20:9), but is here=שָׁדַף (Genesis 41:23) “scorch, blacken,” the sense already expressed by Aquila (συνέκαυαέ με) and the Vulg. (decoloravit me) [Good: discolored; Bur., Gins. browned], and retained by most of the recent interpreters (in opposition to Rosenm., Hengstenb., Weissb.).

[19][Mat. The voice of the Synagogue.]

[20] נִחֲרוּ either Niph. of חרר to burn, glow, (so Ew., Meier, Hitz.), or more probably from חרה (so that the sing. would be נִחֲרָה or נֶחֱרָה); for the Niph. of חרר always elsewhere means “to be dried, parched” (Psalms 69:4; Psalms 102:4, etc.), whilst the meaning demanded here is “to be angry, wroth.” Comp. Gesenius’ Lexicon and Weissb. in loc. [Cov.: had evil will.]

[21][Cov.: Thus was I fain to keep a vineyard, which was not mine own.]

[22][Wic., Mat. The voice of the Church to Christ.]

[23] אִיִכָה elsewhere how? [which Weiss. retains] is here=אֵיפֹה where? so too 2 Kings 6:13, K’thibh, whilst the Kri has אֵיכוֹ

[24] שַׁלָּמָה properly “for why” (comp. אֲשֶׁר לָמָּה, Daniel 1:10), a fuller expression for the simple לָמָּה why, as in Job 34:27, אֲֹשֶר עַל־כֵּן stands for עַל־כֵּן, Psalms 45:3. The sense is correctly given by the Sept. and Syr., which here and in Daniel 1:10 translate “that not, lest” (μήποτε). [Cov.: and that. The critical conjecture mentioned by Williams, that this word should be pointed as a proper name שְׁלֹמחֹ O Solomon is unworthy of attention.—Tr.]

[25][Wic. go vagrant; Cov. lest I go wrong and come unto the flocks of thy companions; E. Ver. one (Genev. she) that turneth aside; Good, Percy, Clarke: wanderer; Williams, Fry: stranger; Taylor: rover; Ginsb.: roaming; E. Ver. Marg. one that is veiled, so Noyes, Weiss., Thrupp.]

[26][Wic., Mat. The voice of Christ to the Church.]

[27] לָךְ is here added inasmuch as the action returns upon its subject (comp. Proverbs 9:12; and Proverbs 2:6; Proverbs 8:14 below), so in general Ewald, Lehrb. § 315 a [Green’s Heb. Chrest. note on Isaiah 40:9.]

[28][Wic. my riding; Genev. troop (E. V. company) of horses; Will.: the horse; Noyes: the horses; Gins.: my steed.]

[29][Cov. There will I tarry for thee, my love, with mine host and with my chariots, which shall be no fewer than Pharaoh’s]

[30]The plur. רַעְיוֹת [rather רְעָיוֹת—Tr.] Judges 11:37 K’thibh. [E. Ver. my love, Marg. in Song of Solomon 1:15 : companion; Will.: consort; Fry: partner.]

[31][Genev. rows of stones; E. Ver. rows of jewels; Fry: jewels; With. chains; Thrupp, Ginsb.; circlet; Weiss.: reins.]

[32][Genev. chains; E. Ver. chains of gold; Doway: jewels; Fry: strings of beads; Good, Burrowes: strings of pearls: Thrupp, With., Ginsb. necklace; Weiss.: chains, i.e., such as are attached to the pole or beam of the carriage, and which the horse wears on his neck.]

[33][In addition to the renderings given to this word in the preceding verse, Wic. here translates it: ribands; Cov. neck-band; E. Ver. borders; With. collars.]

[34][Cov. buttons; E. Ver. studs; With. stars.]

[35][Wic. The voice of the Church, of Christ. Mat. The voice of the Church.]

[36][So Cov., Eng. Ver.; Genev. repast; Doway: repose, after the Vulg. accubitu and the LXX ἀνακλίσει; Good: banquet; Fry: ‘the king in his circuit’ may either refer to his going round in some part of the procession, or to taking his stand in the midst of his retinue, or we may translate, ‘until the king had taken his seat;’ Will., Burr, circle of friends; Weiss.: with his guest.]

[37][Ainsw.: bag; Taylor: scent-bag; Good: casket; Burrowes: amulet.]

[38][Cov. O my beloved. E. Ver. my well-beloved, so constantly throughout the book in Genev., except once in Song of Solomon 5:9, “lover.”]

[39][So Cov., Doway, E. Ver. Marg. The text of the Eng. Ver. has camphire.]

[40][Wic., Mat. The voice of Christ to the Church.]

[41][Wic., Mat. The voice of the Church to Christ.]

[42][Cov., Cran., Bish. Our bed is decked with flowers. Dow.: our little bed is flourishing.]

[43][Cov. ceilings.]

[44][Cov. balks; Cran., Bish. cross-joints; E. V.: rafters, Marg.: galleries; Good, Noyes boardings; Parkhurst: ceiling; Gesen.: carved ceiling; Fuerst: carved beams].

[45][E. Ver. fir; Ains. brutin-tree.]

[46][Wic. The voice of Christ, of Him and of the Church; Mat. The voice of Christ.]

[47][Wic., Mat. The voice of the Church, of Christ.]

[48][Cov., Cran., Bish., Dow. throat; Genev. mouth; E. V. taste].

[49][Cov. grapes; Cran., Bish. cups; Genev., E. V. flagons].

[50][E. V. comfort; Marg. straw me; Doway, compass me about; Ainsworth: strew me a bed; Williams: strew citrons around me; Thrupp: strew me with citron leaves].

[51][Wic., Mat. The voice of Christ, of the Church; Wic., Dow. I adjure you; Cov., Cran., Genev., E. V.: I charge you.]

[52][Thrupp has: “fells,” so as to rhyme with “gazelles,” in fancied imitation of the original].

[53][Cov., Dow., Genev. she; E. V. correctly: he; Ginsb., Thrupp: it].

[54][So Patrick, Good, Williams, Taylor, Fry, the last two of whom divide Song of Solomon 1:5 in like manner, assigning the words “but comely,” and “as the curtains of Solomon” to the daughters of Jerusalem, who compliment the bride on her beauty, while she in the remaining clauses speaks depreciatingly of herself; Taylor also apportions Song of Solomon 1:2-3 between the bride and her attendant ladies, to whom Fry adds an imaginary messenger from the king. Harmer carries the sub-division of parts to an equal extent, claiming that not only the variation in number, but the change of person from third to second, and vice versa, indicates a diversity of speakers. The majority of English Commentators regard the bride as the sole speaker in Song of Solomon 1:2, as is done also in the headings to this chapter in the authorized version, and either find in the change of number evidence of the plurality involved in the unity of the speaker, (Poole, Thrupp), or suppose that she in thought associates her companions with herself, we, i.e., “I and the virgins fore-mentioned” (Ainsworth), or that it is the language of modesty, though she means only herself (Clarke)].

[55][Patrick. Scott and Taylor suppose it interrupted by the attendant ladies in Song of Solomon 1:11].

[56][Taylor and Williams make the place to have been the bride’s parlor in Solomon’s palace, and the time the first day of the week preceding the marriage, Song of Solomon 1:1-8 belonging to the morning, and Song of Solomon 1:9 to Song of Solomon 2:7 to the evening of the day. Burrowes follows Harmer in the conjecture that “in the opening scene of this poem the king had probably gone forth, according to Oriental customs, to meet the bride, and was awaiting her with his princely retinue in an encampment where his rich pavilion, Song of Solomon 1:5, stood pre-eminent. The spouse on coming in sight of those kingly tents, gives utterance to the strong emotions of her heart].”

[57][Patrick. As in John 20:15 “the pronoun is used without a consciousness of the absence of the antecedent. Her heart is so full that she supposes every one must know who she means by him].”

[58][“Permission to kiss the hand of a sovereign is considered an honor; but for that sovereign to give another the kisses of his mouth, is evidence of the tenderest affection, and is the highest possible honor.”—Burrowes.]

[59][“Thy love is more reviving and exhilarating than the effects of wine. Comp. Psalms 104:15; Proverbs 31:6.”—Burrowes].

[60][Weiss.: Besides or in addition to the savor, etc. A sense which the prep. rarely has, and which is neither admissible here nor in Exodus 14:28; Leviticus 11:26; Leviticus 16:16, to which he appeals. Incorrectly also the Eng. Ver.: Because of the savor, etc., which must then be connected with “therefore,” etc., in the last clause, the second clause being parenthetic. “She has ointments preparatory to her exaltation; just as Esther was purified to go in to the king, Esther 2:12.”—Withington].

[61][Comp. Eng. To be in good or bad odor’ for good or ill repute. This explanation of the relation of these ideas, which is developed at length by Baehr, Symbolik d. Mos. Cultus, I., p. 459 ff., appears to be too subtle and remote. It is simpler to find the connection in the fact that the odor, like the name, indicates the character or quality of that from which it proceeds, or to which it belongs. It is an efflux from the object itself, the impression which it makes ad extra.—Tr.]

[62][There seems to be no sufficient reason for departing from the authority of the accents in the present instance. “We will run” requires “after thee” as its complement to indicate the direction of the running more than “draw me,” where the direction is sufficiently implied. The violation of the accents is merely for the sake of evading the evidence afforded by the masc. pron. אַחֲרֶיךּ, that “after thee we will run” is still the language of the bride to Solomon—not of her virgin companions to the bride.—Tr].

[63][So too Weiss.: “When the king shall have brought me;” nor is it a prophetic preterite, the bride anticipating the time when she shall be brought (Thrupp). Ginsburg insists that the changes of person in this verse “clearly show that the king here referred to is a separate person from the beloved to whom the maiden is addressing herself.” But he is compelled to acknowledge that just before in Song of Solomon 1:2 the third person and the second both refer to the same subject.—Tr.]

[64][This would seem to compel the conclusion that the marriage has already taken place, and is not still future, as our author supposes.—Tr.]

[65][Fry, who disregards the points; they do right in loving thee. Good alters the text into: thou art every way lovely.]

[66][Eng. Ver., curtains, Ainsworth: the goodly hangings that were in his house and about his bed.]

[67][Look not disdainfully upon me, Hall; do not too accurately scrutinize, Taylor; Gaze with wonder at her presumption, Noyes.]

[68] [The introduction of these figures from pastoral life has occasioned much needless perplexity among interpreters. Clarke says: “How this would apply either to Solomon or to the princess of Egypt, is not easy to ascertain. Probably in the marriage festival there was something like our masks, in which persons of quality assumed rural characters and their employments.” Some have thought this to be a separate and independent composition, unconnected with the preceding in which the king was spoken of. So besides the German fragmentists, Fry, who begins a new idyl with Song of Solomon 1:7 on account of “the entire change of imagery.” Others maintain that the unity of the poem is unbroken, but insist that the king and the shepherd are distinct persons; so Ginsburg and the entire class of interpreters to which he belongs, and extremes meeting here as not infrequently elsewhere, allegorical interpreters have gone so far in the same direction as to allege that these diverse representations are incompatible in application to any literal subject, and that no consistent sense can be made of them but by referring them to Christ. This, however, is to prejudice the beauty and perfection of the allegory, and to damage the spiritual interpretation of the Song itself. The author of the Song is not writing directly of Christ and His church, but only under the figure of a bridegroom and his bride. His language must, therefore, in all cases have immediate application to the latter, and can set forth the former only as the character and relations in which the more immediate subjects are presented, serve as their faithful image. If this image is distorted, wanting in consistency, and its various parts mutually discordant, the effect of the whole is marred, its beauty and its truth are defaced. It is at least safe to say that this is an assumption, which should not be made without necessity.

The objection to the explanation of the bride’s language given by Zöckler is, that it seems to impute to her the silly conceit that her royal husband or betrothed was actually engaged in the occupation of a shepherd, and it makes the reply by the daughters of Jerusalem utterly unmeaning. Withington presents three alternatives, the last of which is the only simple and natural one. This speech “may be a natural mistake of the rural lass on her first union with the king, or it may be the king went into her country to rusticate, or it may be an allegorical expression by which she signifies that the king is a shepherd and his kingdom is a flock.” Williams: “If he be like a good shepherd feeding his flock, administering public benefits and dispensing judgment, why should not I enjoy the common benefit? If he be indulging in retirement, why may not I, who am admitted as his wife, enjoy his company and conversation?”]

[69][Clarke, Burrowes, and others adhere to the singular, “to my mare or steed.” Good drops the pronoun: “one of the steeds,” supposing the final yodh to be paragogic. So the common Eng. Ver., which takes the noun in a collective sense “company of horses,” and is followed by the majority of English commentators, who find in this a proof of its allegorical meaning. The point of comparison according to the Westminster Assembly’s Annotations is “comeliness,” according to Fry “splendid decoration.” Poole, “An horse is a very stately and beautiful creature, and the Egyptian horses were preferred before others, and Pharaoh’s own chariot horses were doubtless the best of their kind.” Thrupp, Wordsworth, Moody Stuart suppose special allusion to the formidable character of Pharaoh’s horses and chariots at the Red Sea, Exodus 14:9; Exodus 14:23. Several classic parallels have been adduced as Theocritus, Idyl, 18:30; Horace, Odes, Song of Solomon 3:11; Sophocles, Electra, 25.—Tr.]

[70][“The mention of the Egyptian steed in Song of Solomon 1:9 naturally suggested the reference here made to the beautiful head-dress of the spouse.” Burrowes. “Whether she be still compared hereby to a company of horses, as in Song of Solomon 1:9, or to a woman is doubtful, for both similitudes do agree to the things here spoken of. The bridles of horses are often adorned with rows (of jewels) especially in kings’ chariots. Also the next words ‘thy neck with chains’ may have like reference; for the kings of Midian when they went to war had chains about their camels’ necks, Judges 8:26.” Ainsworth, so too Gill. Of the ornament spoken of in the first clause Ainsworth further says, “The same word תּוֹר is also used for a ‘turtledove,’ which some therefore take here to be jewels or ornaments that had the figures of ‘turtle-doves.’ ” It is so in fact translated both in the Sept. and Vulg., followed by Wicliffe and Doway, “thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle-doves.” So too Cranmer and Bishops: “thy cheeks and thy neck are beautiful as the turtle’s.” It is needless to say after the explanation given in the commentary that this rendering confounds two entirely distinct words.—Tr.]

[71][Burrowes adopts the conjecture of Harmer in his Outlines, p. 206, that this is the description of a crown. So Moody Stuart: These silver studded circles of gold mean either the royal or the nuptial crown, or both in one. Patrick, Williams, Taylor make this the language not of the bridegroom, but of the attendant virgins.]

[72][Much less so, however, than that which would make the nard refer to a distant shepherd lover, of whose existence there is no evidence. Weiss, who adopts the above rendering gives a peculiar turn to the thought: “The bride is supposed to have been provided with a bundle of spikenard, with which she intended to regale her bridegroom, when he entered the banqueting house or saloon, where the guests and the bride await him, and he approached to salute her according to custom. But unfortunately the bridegroom being detained a long time in another chamber by one of the guests, the bride’s precious bundle of spikenard yielded all its fragrance, and became useless. When he enters, however, Song of Solomon 1:13 it is more than supplied by the delicious odors of the bridegroom’s ointments and spices, which fill all the room.” This belongs to his historical interpretation of it as an emblem of Israel’s losing his pious fervor and lapsing into gross sin, while the Lord was with Moses on Mount Sinai, and the subsequent forgiving love and condescending grace of God.—Tr.]

[73][There is no need of departing from the preterite form of the Hebrew verb to obtain the sense desired. It should be rendered “Whilst the king has been (as he still is) with his company, my nard has yielded its fragrance.”—Tr.]

[74][The meaning of this verse is differently given by Coverdale: “When the king sitteth at the table, he shall smell my nardus.” Her spikenard was not for her own gratification; she had perfumed herself with it for the king’s sake alone, Esther 2:12, and it now gladly diffuses its fragrance in his presence to afford him pleasure. This Fry takes in its literal sense, supposing allusion to the throwing of flowers and perfumes as a token of high respect and complimentary congratulation. To this Noyes adds with an unnecessary degree of hesitation its emblematic sense: “It would seem to be too harsh a figure to suppose ‘my spikenard’ to mean ‘my personal charms and graces’ though such a supposition is favored by the next verse.” Ainsworth suggests the spiritual application: “In her and from her so adorned by her beloved, the odor of the Spirit of God in her, flowed forth and spread abroad to the delight of herself and others.” Thrupp: “The symbolism of the song of songs was outwardly acted, as is recorded in the gospels in the earthly life of the Lord Jesus, and is also permanently embodied in the worship of the Christian church. It was while He sat at table that the feet of our Saviour were on two separate occasions anointed, Luke 7:36-50; John 12:3 ff. And it is in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper that the church still most solemnly presents her sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, which she beseeches God of His fatherly goodness to accept.”—Tr.]

[75][“The scene seems to be laid in the kiosk or summerhouse in the royal garden. The green flowery turf is our place of repose; our canopy is cedar interspersed with fir, richly carved.” Burrowes. Better still, GOOD: The lovers are not in a house, but a grove, where the spreading branches of the firs and the cedars are poetically called the beams and the roof of their chamber. Thus Milton, describing Adam’s bower, Par. Lost., 4:692, comp. Homer Il., 24:191. Harmer supposes Song of Solomon 1:16 to be the language of the bride, and Song of Solomon 1:17 that of the bridegroom. She commends the rural beauty of the spot in which they then were. He, impatient to introduce her to his palace, replies in substance: “Arise, my love, and quit this place, pleasant as it is, for equally pleasant and much more commodious will you find the abode to which I am conveying you, it being built of the fragrant cedar, and of other precious wood.” Poole, with many others, supposes the nuptial bed to be referred to “adorned with green garlands or boughs.” Ainsworth: “Green is not meant so much of color as of flourishing growth and increase.”]

Verses 8-17

SECOND SONG

The first meeting of the lovers, related by Shulamith who has returned to her home.

Song of Solomon 2:8 to Song of Solomon 3:5

FIRST (AND ONLY) SCENE:

SHULAMITH (ALONE).

8 Hark!14 my beloved; lo! here he comes,

leaping15 over the mountains,

bounding over the hills.

9 My beloved is like a gazelle

or a young hart.16

Lo! here he stands behind our wall,17

looking through18 the windows,

glancing through the lattices.19

10 Answered my beloved and said to me:

“Up,20 my dear, my fair one and go forth!

11 For, lo! the winter is past,

the rain is over, is gone.

12 The flowers appear in the land,

the time for song21 has arrived,

and the voice of the turtle dove is heard in our land.

13 The fig-tree spices22 its green figs

and the vines are in bloom,23 they yield fragrance,

24 up! my dear, my fair one and go forth!

14 My dove, in the clefts25 of the rock,

in the recess of the cliffs,26

let me see thy form,27 let me hear thy voice,

for thy voice is sweet and thy form is comely.”—

15 Catch28 us foxes,

little foxes, spoiling vineyards;
for our vineyards are in bloom.

16 My beloved is mine, and I am his,

who feeds among the lilies.

17 Against29 the day cools, and the shadows flee

turn thee, my beloved, and be like
a gazelle or a young hart
on the cleft30 mountains.

(She sleeps and after some time awakes again:)

III. 1 31On my bed32 in the nights33

I sought him whom my soul loves;
I sought him but I found him not.

2 “I will rise now and go about in the city

in the markets and in the streets;34

I will seek him whom my soul loves.”—
I sought him but I found him not.

3 Found35 me the watchmen, who go about in the city;

36Whom my soul loves, have ye seen?”37

4 Scarcely38 had I passed from them,

when I found him whom my soul loves.
I grasped him and would not let him go,
until I had brought39 him into my mother’s house,

and into the chamber of her that conceived40 me.—

5 I41 adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

by the gazelles or by the hinds of the field,
that ye wake not and that ye waken not
love until it please.

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. It is the fixed opinion of almost all the more recent interpreters that this act contains two monologues or sonnets sung by Shulamith alone, and nothing more; and this is verified by all the particulars that it contains. The attempt of Magnus and Delitzsch to strike out as spurious the formula of citation Song of Solomon 2:10אָמַר דִּוֹדִי וְאָמַר לִי and so to gain a dialogue form for the first and larger division (Song of Solomon 2:8-17) is wrecked not only by the evidence of genuineness afforded by all MSS. and ancient versions in favor of these words, but also by the closing verses of the section (Song of Solomon 2:15-17) which correctly interpreted represent her lover as present only to the imagination of Shulamith or to her memory, which vividly recalled him. Whether the two monologues are regarded as two distinct scenes, (as is commonly the case), or the scene is allowed to remain the same in both without change and only a pause of some length is interposed between them (Ewald, Hitz., Hahn,) is on the whole but an unessential difference. For a pause after Song of Solomon 2:17 is as undeniable and as universally admitted as is the peculiar character of the second sonnet Song of Solomon 3:1-5, which as the narration of a dream (with the apostrophizing of the daughters of Jerusalem therewith connected) is sharply and distinctly sundered from the preceding monologue, though this too is of a narrative character. As to what takes place between the two monologues or scenes, we may either suppose (with Ewald and others) a prolonged meditation and silence on the part of Shulamith, exhausted by the foregoing lively expression of her longing desire for her lover, or, as intimated in the above translation, that she sinks into a brief slumber, which brings before her in a dream the lover for whom she so ardently longs, and thus in the moment of her awaking recalls to her remembrance a like dream from the early days of her love, which she hereupon relates. No sufficient proof of this assumption can, it is true, be brought from the context. Yet it undoubtedly has more in its favor than, e.g., the hypothesis proposed by Umbreit, Rocke, Vaihinger, Renan and several of the older writers, that Shulamith utters the words Song of Solomon 2:8-17 in a dream, and then, after awaking, she relates (to the women of the harem around her) a dream which she had previously had, Song of Solomon 3:1 ff., in order to “prove her changeless love to the friend to whom her heart was given.” The language in Song of Solomon 2:8-17 has, to be sure, a certain dreamlike vagueness, rather than the character of a strictly historical narration. But this is sufficiently explained by the highly excited fancy of the singer, which brings up the past before her, as though she were experiencing it anew, and which in this lyrical recital, that is any thing but dry narration, here and there springs over what intervenes between the separate particulars of the action, especially in Song of Solomon 2:9 and between Song of Solomon 2:14-15.

2. It is, however, far more difficult to determine the scene or the situation, and the external-surroundings of the speaker during this act, than to decide upon the form and style of the discourse. The adherents of the shepherd-hypothesis, who here conceive of Shulamith as continuing at Jerusalem in the royal harem, and expressing her longing for her distant lover, can urge, it is true, in favor of this the repetition of the address to the “daughters of Jerusalem” at the close of the section (Song of Solomon 3:5), but are not able to explain why the description in Song of Solomon 2:8-17 presupposes an undoubted country scene, with mountains, hills, vineyards, flowery fields, etc., or why it is a simple monologue of the beloved, and neither Solomon nor the daughters of Jerusalem utter a word. Böttcher’s view, therefore, seems to have something in its favor, that the locality of the action was a royal country house not far from Jerusalem, where Shulamith was detained a solitary prisoner. And the one circumstance at least that according to Song of Solomon 2:8 ff. the scene appears to be in the country, might be conveniently combined with the assumption that Shulamith here continues to stay in the royal pleasure-grounds south of the capital, and that Solomon has only left her again for a while for some unknown reasons. But Shulamith’s place of abode plainly appears to be one further removed from Jerusalem, and in fact to be located in the region of her home. For 1) the mention of her mother’s house, with its wall and its latticed window (Song of Solomon 3:4; Song of Solomon 2:9) makes it probable that she is there. 2) We are also led to the very same result by בְּאַרְצֵנוּ, “in our land,” Song of Solomon 2:12, the mention of the “vineyards in bloom,” Song of Solomon 2:13; Song of Solomon 2:15, as well as the הָרֵי בֶתֶר, Song of Solomon 2:17, whether this difficult expression be rendered “separating mountains,” or “cleft mountains,” or “spice mountains” (see in loc.). 3) Shulamith brought in solemn pomp to the wedding by her royal bridegroom, as described for the first time in the following act, Song of Solomon 3:6-11, presupposes that she had before been staying again in her parents’ house; for it is from thence that according to the custom of the ancient Hebrews, the bride must always be brought (comp. 1Ma 9:37; 1Ma 9:39; Matthew 25:1, etc.). 4) That Shulamith came from northern Palestine to Jerusalem for her marriage with Solomon, is also rendered highly probable by the mention of Lebanon in what her newly espoused says to her, Song of Solomon 4:8; and further, the “coming up of the bride out of the wilderness,” as described in Song of Solomon 3:6, in her entry into the capital, might point to a coming from the north, and not out of the wilderness of Judah, which lay south of Jerusalem (comp. in loc.). Accordingly the parental residence of the bride, or its vicinity is, with Döpke, Heiligstedt and Delitzsch, to be regarded as the scene of this passage—that is to say, Shunem or some neighboring locality in the tribe of Issachar north of Mount Gilboa, or on the south side of “Little Hermon.” How Shulamith came thither again from the royal residence, whether peaceably dismissed to her home by agreement with her bridegroom, or conducted thither by himself in order to be subsequently brought with solemn pomp to the wedding, is not clearly explained in the piece. Only every thought must be excluded of a possible flight of the virgin from the royal harem to her home, for she exhibits her longing for her royal lover in undiminished strength, and this too not as though it had arisen from regret at her too hasty flight from him (comp. Delitzsch, p. 99 f.).—As regards the time of the action, it appears to follow from the way that, Song of Solomon 2:11-13, the winter is described as past, and the fair spring-time as come, that an interval of some months had elapsed between the summer or autumn scene of the preceding act (Song of Solomon 1:14; Song of Solomon 1:16 f.; Song of Solomon 2:3 ff.) and the present, or more briefly, that “the entire rainy season lies between Song of Solomon 2:7 and Song of Solomon 2:8” (Hitz.). But as that charming description of opening spring belongs to a narration, and furthermore to a poetic and ideal narration of what Solomon said to his beloved on his first meeting with her, no conclusion can be drawn from it in respect to the time of this action. And neither the “winter” in Song of Solomon 2:11 nor the “nights” in Song of Solomon 3:1 (according to Hitzig the “long winter nights!”) afford any support for that opinion, which would charge upon the poet too great a violation of the Aristotelian demand of the unity of time. On the contrary, there is nothing in the way of assuming with Ewald, Böttcher, Del. and most of the later interpreters, an interval of but a few days between Acts 1:2 (which certainly need not be narrowed down to the space of a few hours, as, e.g., Vaihinger assumes), nor of regarding the entire action of the piece generally as taking place in the course of a single spring, and occupying, at the utmost, a few weeks.42 Comp. on Song of Solomon 7:13.

3. Ch.2, Song of Solomon 2:8-9.

Song of Solomon 2:8. Hark! my beloved.—Literally, “the voice [or sound] of my beloved,”—קוֹל דּוֹדִי, to which abrupt expression הָיָהit is or נִשְׁמַעis heard is to be supplied as in Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 40:6 (Matthew 3:3); 2 Kings 6:32. [It is rather an exclamation, to which no verb need be supplied, see Green’sHeb. Chres. on Isaiah 40:3; Isaiah 40:6]. And the following expression, “lo! there he comes,” etc., shows that it is not the words of the bridegroom (Hengstenberg, after Michaelis and many of the older writers), but his coming itself or the sound of his coming and bounding over the mountains and the hills, in short his steps, which are indicated by קוֹל, comp. Song of Solomon 5:2; Genesis 3:8; 1 Kings 14:6. That Shulamith was shortly expecting her lover, may be probably inferred from this exclamation of hers which may be supposed to have been occasioned by some noise in which she thought she heard the steps of him for whom she longed. But that which further follows is not a description of his arrival, which now actually ensues (Magn., Del.), nor a mere airy fancy sketch or dreaming description of what her friend would say and do, if he were now actually to come (Umbr., Hitz., Vaih., etc.—see No. 1, above), but a vivid reminiscence of the way that he had actually come to her the first time and of the loving conversation which had then taken place between him and her by the wall of her parental home. It was the more natural for the bride to be thus vividly transported to the past, as she was hourly expecting her bridegroom back again at the very spot where he had then met with her for the first time.43Leapingbounding (מְקַפֵּץמְדַלֵּג). From this description of her lover’s first coming to Shulamith, which is further illustrated by the following figures of the gazelle and the young hart, we may perhaps conclude that Solomon while hunting on Mount Gilboa, or in its vicinity, saw his beloved there for the first time, and formed a connection with her in the manner ideally described in what follows.

Song of Solomon 2:9. My beloved is like a gazelle or a young hart.Hitzig calls in question the genuineness of these words, with no other grounds of suspicion than such as are purely subjective. They are designed more particularly to illustrate and justify in their application to her lover the somewhat bold and in themselves not very intelligible terms דלג “leaping,” and קפץ “bounding.” And this they manifestly do in so far as they call attention to the fact that he resembles those fair and noble animals not in his speed and agility merely, but generally in the charming grace and loftiness of his whole bearing. Comp. passages like 2 Samuel 2:18; 1 Chronicles 12:8; Proverbs 6:5, where speed alone is the tert. comp. in this figure, with Psalms 18:34; Habakkuk 3:19; Proverbs 5:19, where the other qualities of these animals are also taken into the account.—Lo here he is, standing behind our wall. Judged by the analogy of other passages, in which it is found, the word here used does not mean the wall about the vineyard but the wall of the house, to which the mention of the window immediately after also points.44 “Our wall,” because Shulamith means the house belonging to her family, in or near which she now is again [or which she so well remembers—Tr.]; comp. Song of Solomon 8:8 “our sister,” and “our vineyards” Song of Solomon 2:15.—Looking through the windows, glancing through the lattices—literally, “from the windows, from the lattices.” It is a matter of indifference from which window he looks into the interior; it was only worth while to affirm in the general that he looked in from the region of the windows, that is from without. “Window” (חַלּוֹן), and “lattice” (חֲרַכָּא—according to the Targ. Joshua 2:15; Joshua 2:18 equivalent to חַלּוֹן, of the same meaning also with אֶשְׁנָבJdg 5:28; Proverbs 7:6, as well as with אֲרֻבָּהHos 13:3; Ecclesiastes 7:3) are plainly only different names for the same thing, of which however the latter expression is the more special or precise; for the lattice properly closed the aperture of the window and consequently was that through which he must have looked, comp. 2 Kings 13:17.—מֵצִיץ literally, “blooming” (comp. Isaiah 27:6; Psalms 132:18 and especially Psalms 72:16, where מֵצִיץ occurs of men blooming out of the earth) does not express a “transient appearing” or a “quick and stolen glance,” but evidently describes the blooming and radiant appearance of her lover, who is also called “white and red,” Song of Solomon 5:10. “He blooms in through the window” (comp. Michaelis: “roseum suum vultum instar floris jucundissimi per retia cancellorum ostendens”) is a pregnant expression, and reminds one of Genesis 49:22, where Joseph is described as a young fruit tree of luxuriant growth, whose “daughters” run over the wall.45

4. Solomon’s first greeting to Shulamith, Song of Solomon 2:10-14.

Song of Solomon 2:10. My beloved answered and said to me. In opposition to the doubts of Magnus and Delitzsch regarding the genuineness of these words, see above No. 1. In respect to ענה in the opening of a discourse and consequently in the sense of “beginning to speak” (not “answering” Hengstenberg), comp. Deuteronomy 21:7; Deuteronomy 26:5; 2 Chronicles 29:31; Isaiah 14:10; Job 3:2, and ἀποκρίνεσθαι, which is frequently so used in the New Testament.46 Arise, my dear, my fair one, and go forth,viz., out of the house—not “out of the city into the country,” as the adherents of the shepherd-hypothesis suppose, who think the shepherd utters these words to Shulamith in her captive condition (similarly also Weissbach).47

Song of Solomon 2:11. For lo, the winter is past.סְתָו (for which the K’ri סְתָיו to fix the correct pronunciation instead of סְתוֹ as it might possibly be read) denotes, as also in Aram., the winter and that on the side of its cold, as the parallel expression גֶּשֶׁם (comp. Ecclesiastes 12:2; Job 37:6) denotes the same on the side of its moisture, that is to say, as the rainy season (עֵת גְשָׁמִיםtime of rain, Ezra 10:9; Ezra 10:13). The winter as the cold season of the year necessarily keeps people in the house; whence the allusion to its being past adds force to the solicitation to come out of the house.

Song of Solomon 2:12. The flowers appear in the land, literally, “are seen (נִרְאוּ) in the land.” On the rapidity with which the spring with its new verdure and its blooming attire usually follows the winter in the East, comp. Hasselquist, Reisen, p. 261.—The time of singing has arrived.עֵת הַזָּמִיר is not the “time for pruning vines,” as the old translators explained it, after the analogy of Leviticus 25:3 f.; Isaiah 5:6; for in Song of Solomon 2:13; Song of Solomon 2:15 the vines are represented as already in blossom, the time for pruning them was therefore long since past; but it is the “time of singing, of merry songs.” By this, however, we are not to understand the singing of birds (Ibn Ezra, Rashi, E. Meier), but conformably to Isaiah 25:5 (זְמִיר), Isaiah 24:16; Job 35:10; Psa 119:54; 2 Samuel 23:1, etc. (זְמִירוֹת), the glad songs of men, such as spring usually awakens, especially in the life of shepherds and country people (comp. Judges 21:20 f.).—And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land,viz. in Palestine, the land of Solomon and and Shulamith. This בְּאַרְצֵנוּ does not by any means require us to regard Shulamith’s country lover as the speaker, although it favors the assumption that the scene of the narrative lay in the country rather than in the city. The “turtle-dove” (תּוֹר) as a bird of passage (Jeremiah 8:7) is a fit representative of spring, and it need not therefore symbolize the Holy Spirit (Targ.), nor the meek (Hengstenb.), nor Israel in general (Hahn).

Song of Solomon 2:13. The fig tree spices its fruit. As פַּגִּים means not the early figs but the late figs, i.e. the small fruit of the fig tree which continues to grow during the winter, and does not ripen until spring (Septuag. ὄλυνθοι, Vulgate, grossi), and as חָנַט signifies, Genesis 1:2; Genesis 1:26, “to spice, to perfume,” this verb must here too have the sense of spicing and denote that “aromatic sweetness” which figs attain about the time of their ripening (comp. Schubert, Reise III. p. 113). We must reject, therefore, both the “putting forth” of the ancient versions (Sept., Aq., Vulg., Syr.), and the signification of “reddening” or “browning,” preferred by Ewald, Hitzig, Renan, etc.; for the late figs are of a violet color even during the winter, when they are still unfit to eat (comp. Meier and Weissbachin loc.).—And the vines are in blossom, literally, “are blossom.” סְמָדַר a substantive, which occurs again Song of Solomon 2:15; Song of Solomon 7:13, and whose etymology is very obscure (comp. Velth., Ewald and Hitzigin loc.), can mean nothing but “blossom, vine blossom” either here or in the other two passages; and this is confirmed by the ancient versions (Sept.κυπρίζειν, Vulg. florere, Symm.οἰνάνθη; also the Syr. on Isaiah 17:11). It plainly makes no difference in the sense whether we translate “the vines are blossom (comp. e.g.Exodus 9:31), give fragrance” (as is commonly done) or “the vines in blossom, i.e. since they are blossoming, yield their fragrance” (see e.g.Weissb. comp. Delitzsch). With regard to the fine delicious fragrance of the vine blossom comp. also Sir 24:23.

Song of Solomon 2:14. My dove in the clefts of the rock.—No pause is observable between Song of Solomon 2:13-14 (Hitzig; comp. Weissbach). The tenderly caressing and alluring language continues without change. Solomon here entitles his beloved a “dove in the clefts of the rock,” because, as appears from Song of Solomon 2:9, the bars of the latticed window still separate him from her. The allusion to her dove-like innocence and her lovely form is altogether subordinate, but must nevertheless not be left wholly out of the account as e.g.Weissbach insists; for “dove” is undoubtedly a tender pet-name, comp. Song of Solomon 6:9, and even Song of Solomon 1:15. The allegorical interpretation, which sees in the dove “persecuted innocence” (Hengsten.), or even the righteous hiding himself in the gaping wounds of Christ (Theodoret, Greg. the great, J. Gerh.) has clearly no exegetical justification.48In the secret of the cliffs, literally “in the hiding-place of the ladder of rock, of the steep rocky precipices,” for this appears to be the meaning of the word here used. The expression evidently serves only to finish out the figure employed immediately before of the clefts of the rock concealing the dove. No conclusion can be based upon it respecting Shulamith’s place of residence, as though it actually were a rock-bound castle (Böttcher), or were in Solomon’s lofty palace upon Zion (Ewald, Hitzig, Vaih., etc.)49 The present description would rather appear to indicate (comp. above No. 2) that Shulamith’s country home was surrounded by a mountainous and rocky region (Delitzsch).—Let me see thy form,מַרְאֶה denotes in this poem not barely the face (this Solomon already saw through the lattice) but the entire form, comp. Song of Solomon 5:15, also Genesis 12:11; Genesis 24:17; Genesis 39:6.—Let me hear thy voice. Evidently an invitation to sing, with which Shulamith complies in Song of Solomon 2:15.—The following fortifying clause reminds of the similar one in Song of Solomon 2:9, a.

5. Shulamith’s answer.

Song of Solomon 2:15. That this verse is a little vintagers’ song or at least the fragment of one, and that Shulamith sings it in answer to the request of her lover in Song of Solomon 2:10-14 is regarded as settled by most of the recent interpreters since Herder. Only the allegorists, as Hengstenberg, Hahn, etc. see expressed in it Shulamith’s fear of the foes of God’s vineyard (i.e. heretics according to Hengstenberg, [so Cov., Patr., Poole and the generality of English Commentators], pagan Hamites according to Hahn.); and Ewald inappropriately puts the words into the mouth of the lover, who thus makes the connection again with what he had said in Song of Solomon 2:13. That we rather have here a separate ditty or fragment of a song, is shown not only by the plural form of address, but also by the accumulation of rhymes (,&#שעלים כרמים מחבלים קטנים). And that this ditty is sung by the bride, not by the bridegroom, appears from its contents, which seem perfectly suitable for the keeper of a vineyard (see Song of Solomon 1:6), but not for her lover, be he king or shepherd.50 It is, however, arbitrary and preposterous to assume with Hitzig and Renan, that Shulamith sings this sonnet at one of the windows in the harem at Jerusalem in order to inform her lover from her old home, who was in the vicinity of the place of her abode, in nearly the same way that Richard Cœur de Lion betrayed the place of his captivity to Blondel, his faithful minstrel, by singing the refrain of a song familiar to them both. The whole situation too is not in the remotest manner adapted to such a romantic and sentimental meaning and design of the sonnet. Its context rather indicates plainly enough that it still belongs to Shulamith’s narrative of her first meeting with her lover, and consequently is neither more nor less than her answer to his request to come out to him and to sing to him,—an answer, which whether actually given by her in just these words or not, at all events concealed a delicate allusion to her lover under a popular veil artlessly employed and half in jest, and intimated to him that she was not disinclined to let him take part henceforth in her care for the security of her vineyard. If she really sang these words, she did so while opening or the doors of her house to admit her lover who stood without before the wall, or while she stepped out to him singing and smiling (comp. Delitzschin loc.)—Catch us foxes, little foxes, spoiling vineyards. The foxes deserve this name, not because they attack the ripe grapes themselves (Theocr. Id. I. 46, ff; V. 112), but because by their passages and holes they undermine the walls of the vineyards and injure the roots of the vines; and they also gnaw the stems and young shoots.51 It was important, therefore, in the spring when the vines were blossoming, to protect the vineyards from these uninvited guests; and the more so, since the spring is the very time of the coming forth of the young foxes from their kennels. The predicate קְטַנִּיםlittle refers to young foxes (comp. Genesis 9:24; Genesis 27:15; 1 Kings 3:7), not to the diminutive size of the animals which nevertheless do so much damage [so Harmer, Good, Williams]; in that case the smaller variety of the jackal, which is known by the name of adive, would be specially intended by שֻׁעָלְים (Hitzig). But as the jackal is always called אִי or תַּן (Job 30:29, Micah 1:8) in every other passage in which it is mentioned in the Old Testament, whilst שׁוּעָלis the constant designation of the fox proper, we are not justified here in departing from this usual meaning of the expression, comp. Oedmann, Sammlungen II. 38; Winer, Real-Wörterbuch, Art. Füchse, also P. Cassel on Judges 15:4. Moreover the expressions “little foxes” and “destroying vineyards” are simply related as in apposition to the principal object שֻׁעָלִים; and both this and the words named as in apposition are without the article, because it is not the foxes universally, but just foxes, vineyard-destroying foxes that are to be taken. Hitzig seeks without necessity to base upon this absence of the article before שֻׁעָלִים his translation “hold for us, ye foxes,” etc., which he makes equivalent to “wait, ye foxes, I’ll give it to you!”—For our vineyards are in bloom, literally “and our vineyards are in bloom;” comp. in respect to this specifying “and, and in fact,” which here has a specially motive character, Ecclesiastes 1:15; Ecclesiastes 8:2; Judges 6:25; Judges 7:22; Malachi 1:11, and in general Ewald, § 340, b. By the expression סְמָדַר the singer takes up again what had been said, by her lover, Song of Solomon 2:13, a, whether she altered her ditty in conformity with it, or that expression in the mouth of Solomon recalled to her mind this vernal song with the like-sounding refrain; this latter view is evidently the more natural.

6. Conclusion of the first monologue. Song of Solomon 2:16-17.

Song of Solomon 2:16. My beloved is mine and I am his.—This declaration that she has become the property of her beloved and he hers, that they have mutually surrendered themselves to one another (comp. Song of Solomon 6:3; Song of Solomon 7:11), does not continue Shulamith’s answer to the greeting of Solomon, Song of Solomon 2:10-14Song of Solomon 2:10-14Song of Solomon 2:10-14 (Delitzsch, Weissbach, etc.), but after her account of her first meeting with him, which terminates with Song of Solomon 2:15, she takes up again the expression of her desire for her absent lover uttered in Song of Solomon 2:8-9, by asserting in the first instance that though still absent, he was inseparably bound to her.52Who feeds among the lilies.—Manifestly a figurative expression for “who, wherever he abides, spreads radiance, joy and loveliness about him,” or “in whose footsteps roses and lilies ever bloom.”53 With reference to the figurative nature of this form of speech as a fixed and favorite poetical phrase, comp. its recurrence with two different applications, Song of Solomon 4:5 and Song of Solomon 6:3. Shulamith had already represented her royal lover as feeding his flock, Song of Solomon 1:7.

Song of Solomon 2:17. Against the day cools and the shadows flee.—Contrary to the division of the verses, as well as to the analogy of Song of Solomon 6:3, Herder, Amm., Kleuker, Döpke [so Coverdale, Doway] connect these words with the participial clause at the close of the preceding verse. “Feeding among the lilies till the day grows cool” would yield a very tame and trivial thought, whilst, on the other hand, the following solicitation, “turn thee,” etc., can scarcely dispense with some more particular statement of the time up to which or about which it should be complied with. Upon עַד שֶׁי (literally, “enduring till,” “waiting till”)=“until,” “whilst,” by the time that, comp. the like forms of expression, Genesis 24:33; Genesis 27:45; Exodus 22:26; 1 Samuel 1:22; 1 Samuel 14:19, etc.; also Song of Solomon 1:12 above, where, it is true, the connection demands a somewhat different translation. Shulamith evidently begs her lover to return to her before the coming on of the shades of evening (before the day wholly cools, and the ever lengthening shadows melt quite away in the darkness—comp. Job 14:2). By evening, at the latest, and before night, he should come over the mountains to her swift as a gazelle, as at that first time when she had seen him bounding over the summits and the hills (Song of Solomon 2:8).54Turn thee and be like,etc.סֹב neither qualifies דְּמֵה adverbially, “resemble hereabouts a gazelle,” etc. (Weissbach); nor is it an invitation to her friend already present to ramble with her upon the mountains in the neighborhood” (Delitzsch); nor equivalent to “turn back again,” as though it were intended to call back one who had shortly before been near her and who was going away (Böttcher); but simply=“turn thyself hither, direct thy steps hither” (comp. 1 Samuel 22:18; 2 Samuel 18:30). The Vulgate quite correctly, therefore, as regards the sense, revertere; so also the Syr., Luth., etc.—The call upon him to “resemble the gazelle” is evidently connected with the description given of her lover in Song of Solomon 2:8. She wishes that her lover would now soon return, as she saw him then, swiftly and gracefully, like the sudden appearing of a noble deer on the mountain height.—On cleft mountains.—This translation of the difficult עַל־הָרֵי בֶתֶר is especially favored by the ἐπὶ ὄρη κοιλωμάτων of the Sept. The usual signification of בֶּתֶר, “piece,” “severed portion” (Genesis 15:10; Jeremiah 34:18-19, etc.) lies at the basis of it; and both the name of the place, בִּתְרוֹן, Bithron, the designation of a mountain ravine east of the Jordan, 2 Samuel 2:29, and the Greek ῥαγάς, “fissure, cleft,” offer themselves at once as confirmatory analogies (comp. Gesen., Lex., also Vaih., Renan and Delitzschin loc., “riven mountains”). Commonly, “on mountains of separation,” i.e., on the mountains that separate us (comp. Luther, “auf den Scheidebergen;” Merc., Ewald, Hitzig, also the Targ., Ibn Ezra and Jarchi) [so Ginsburg]. Peculiarly Weissbach “on the spice-mountains” (or “Bathrum heights,” comp. Vulg., “super montes Bother,” and Theodoret, who, as well as the Syr., translates similarly “ἐπὶ τὰ ὄρη θυμιαμάτων”); by this he supposes to be meant Shulamith’s breasts perfumed with aromatic betel-leaves, i.e., with μαλοβάθρον, malabathrum=Syr., bathrum. But such an adducing of the הָרֵי בְשָׂמִים, mountains of spices mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:14, and that as identical in signification with the “mountain of myrrh” and “hill of frankincense” mentioned in Song of Solomon 4:6, i.e., with the fragrant breasts of his beloved (?), is in the present instance manifestly destructive of the sense and repugnant to the connection, and would besides yield an absolutely lascivious sense, which the expressions in question do not have in the two passages alleged.

Footnotes:

[14][Wic. heading: The voice of the church of Christ. Mat.: The voice of the church. Cov.: Methink I hear the voice of my beloved. So Cran., Bish.]

[15]“Whilst the verb דלג suggests his long leaps, as he springs, comp. Isaiah 35:6; Psalms 18:30; Zephaniah 1:9, the verb קפץ (an older form for קפז and related to the קמץ to press together, as well as to קבץ to gather; in the Piel “to cause to draw together”) lets us, as it were, see the gazelles, with which the lover is compared, as in galloping they draw their feet together again, after being stretched so wide apart.” Weissb.

[16][Ains.: a fawn of the hinds]

[17] כֹּתֶל according to the Targ. on Joshua 2:15 equivalent to קִיר “wall” occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament except in the Chaldee forms כְּתַל Daniel 5:5, and (plur.) כֻּתְלַיָּא Ezra 5:8.

[18][E. Ver.: “forth at.” Cov.: better “in at.” Words.: “spying in at the windows.”]

[19][Cov.: peepeth through the grate. Ains.: flourishing through the lattices.]

[20]The two-fold לָךְ to thee after קוּמִי arise and after לְכִי go, throws back the action, as it were, upon its subject and thus serves to impart to the language an easy, colloquial and kindly character, comp. Song of Solomon 1:8, also Song of Solomon 2:11; Song of Solomon 2:13; Song of Solomon 2:17; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 8:14. Weissbach correctly remarks that it is chiefly verbs of motion to which this kindly לָךְ or לִי or לָמוֹ is added. [Mat.: The voice of Christ.]

[21][E. Ver.: “singing of birds,” which Harmer refers especially to the nightingale. Wic.: “cutting.” Cov.: the twisting time. Doway: “pruning,” so Thrupp and Weiss. Poole: cutting or cropping for nosegays.]

[22][So Noyes. Cov.: bringeth forth. E. Ver.: putteth forth. Good, Ginsb.: sweeten. Williams: ripen. Fry: embalm. Weiss: perfume. Thrupp: mature.]

[23][Wic.: flowering. Cov.: blossoms, so Fry, Noyes, Thrupp. Doway: flower. E. Ver.: tender grapes; so Good, Weiss, Ginsb. Williams: tender buds.]

[24][Wic.: The voice of Christ to the church.]

[25] חַגְוֵי הַסֶּלַע appears here as well as in Obad. Song of Solomon 2:3; Jeremiah 49:16, which are probably derived from the passage before us, to be not rocky heights, lofty refuges on top of the rocks, (Schult., Gesen., Hengstenb., Weissb., etc.,) but rather “fissures, clefts in the rocks” (comp. Ewald and Hitzig in loc.) For the latter figure manifestly agrees better with the present situation, (see Song of Solomon 2:9) and may also have a better etymological basis (comp. Arab. خَجَّ to split.)

[26] מַדְרגֵוֹת (from דרג kindred to. דרך) comp. Ezek. 38:29, the only other passage in which the word occurs.

[27]On the form מַרְאַיִךְ as a singular, comp. Ewald, § 256 b, [Green’s Heb. Gramm. § 221, 7 a.]

[28][Wic.: The voice of Christ to the church against heretics. Mat.: The voice against the heretics.]

[29][Adopted from Thrupp.]

[30][E. Ver. marg: division, but in the text: Bether, as though it were a proper name which Patrick identifies with Bethel; Ainsworth and Poole with Bithron; and Clarke with Beth-horon. Cov.: simply; “mountains” omitting Bether. Bish., Cran.: wide mountains. Parkhurst, Williams: craggy mountains. Burrowes: a region cut up or divided by mountains and valleys, rough, craggy and difficult to cross. With.: our secluded hills.]

[31][Wicliffe’s heading: The voice of the church gathered together of Gentiles. Mat.: The voice of the church which is chosen out of the heathen.]

[32][Wic.: little bed.]

[33][So Ains., Wic., by nights. Mat., E. Ver., by night.]

[34] שְׁוָקִים plur. of שׁוּק, as דְּוָרִים from דּוּד [Green’s Heb. Gramm. § 207, 1. f.] related to שָׁקַק to run (whence also שׁוֹק leg) denotes “places where people run,” bustling public places, hence the Sept. correctly έν αγοραῖς. Comp. Ecclesiastes 12:4-5; and Proverbs 7:8.—For רְחֹבוֹת streets (πλατεῖαι) comp. Proverbs 1:20; Proverbs 7:12. Without sufficient proof from the language Weissbach claims for this latter expression the meaning “markets, open squares,” and for the former the meaning “streets.” [Wic.: by towns and streets. Cov.: upon the market and in all the streets. Genev.: by the streets and by the open places. E. Ver. in the streets and in the broad ways. Patrick: שְׁוָקִים are the lesser thoroughfares in the city or the streets of lesser cities; as רְחֹבוֹת are the greater, wider streets, or rather the streets of the royal capital city.]

[35]On מצא “to strike upon any one, find, meet him,” 1 Samuel 10:3; Song Song of Solomon 5:7.

[36][Wic. The church saith of Christ to the apostles. Mat.: The church speaking of Christ.]

[37]The interrogative particle הֲ is omitted before the verb רְאִיתֶם, because it is at so great a remove from the beginning of the clause. Comp. Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 314 a, b.

[38]On &כִּמְעַט מִעַט with כְ veritatis) “as much as a little.” Comp. Isaiah 1:9.

[39]On the form שֶׁהֲבֵיאתִיו for שֶׁהֲבִיאֹתִיו see Hitzig in loc. [Green’s Heb. Gram., § 160, 2.]

[40] הוֹרָתִי synonym of אֵם as Hosea 2:5.

[41][Wic.: The voice of Christ to the church. Mat.: The voice of Christ.]

[42] [If Shulamith is here describing her first meeting with her royal lover, there is no reason why she might not remember and relate it as fully as is here done, without the necessity of being transported for the purpose from Jerusalem to Shunem, even supposing that to have been her original home. Especially as her adjuration of the “daughters of Jerusalem,” Song of Solomon 3:5, is a more evident proof of her still being in the royal capital, than any which Zöckler has been able to bring to the contrary. He seems to have made the mistake of confounding the locality of a past event narrated with the place of the narrator. It may be a necessity to the dramatic hypothesis to get her back again to Shunem, after her residence with the king in his palace, in order that she may come thence in solemn pomp to her marriage at a subsequent period. But this scarcely warrants the drawing of so large a conclusion from so slender a premise.

The advocates of the idyllic hypothesis find here a distinct song, describing a visit paid by the lover to the fair object of his affections, without being at any pains to trace a connection between it and what had preceded. Taylor thinks that this belongs to the second day of the marriage feast; the bride from her window in the palace is attracted by the sound of a hunting party (Song of Solomon 2:15); the bridegroom, who is one of the party, looks up and addresses her. Withington supposes some time to have elapsed since the preceding scene. “The bride had gone up to Jerusalem, and after a stay there had gone back to the country, and was to remain there until the season came of her husband’s rustication, which would naturally be in the spring.” Burrowes: “The beloved had left the spouse; these words describe his return.” Wordsworth connects this scene directly with the immediately preceding verse, the slumber of the bridegroom there described being equivalent to his absence or withdrawal: “The patience of the bride, after long waiting, is rewarded by the joyful sight of the bridegroom bounding over the hills.” Ginsburg, with his peculiar modification of the shepherd-hypothesis, describes the situation as follows: “The Shulamite, to account for the severity of her brothers, mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:6, relates that her beloved shepherd came one charming morning in the spring to invite her to the fields (8–14); that her brothers, in order to prevent her from going, gave her employment in the gardens (15); that she consoled herself with the assurance that her beloved, though separated from her at that time, would come again in the evening (16, 17); that seeing he did not come, she, under difficult circumstances, ventured to seek him and found him (Song of Solomon 3:1-4).”—Tr.]

[43][There is no propriety in sundering this from what follows. The succeeding verses evidently continue or explain this opening exclamation. If it belongs to the present, so does the entire description which it introduces. If the coming of the beloved here narrated is past, her exclamation on hearing the sound of his approach is past also.—Tr.]

[44][Harmer supposes the reference is to a kiosk or eastern arbor, and quotes the Letters of Lady Montague, who speaks of them II. p. 74 as “enclosed with gilded lattices, round which vines, jessamines and honeysuckles make a sort of green wall.”]

[45][Wordsw.: Literally, sprouting and blooming like a flowering shrub or creeper, whose blossoms peep and glance through the trellis or lattice work of a window, and giving brightness and loveliness to the apartment.]

[46][Wordsw.: Here is an anticipation of the phrase so often applied in the gospels to Christ, who answered even the thoughts of His hearers.]

[47][It can scarcely be anything but a slip when Withington puts these words into the mouth of the bride: “He hears her distant voice: Rise up, my love,” etc.—Tr.]

[48] Harmer says, on the authority of Dr. Shaw: “Doves in those countries, it seems, take up their abodes in the hollow places of rocks and cliffs.” Wordsw. suggests that the comparison is “to a dove fleeing to the clefts of the rock for refuge from the storm.” Good quotes as parallel the following simile from Homer’s description of the wounded Diana, Il. xxi. 493.

“As when the falcon wings her way above,
To the cleft cavern speeds the affrighted dove,
Straight to her shelter thus the goddess flew.”]

[49][So Harmer, who supposes an allusion to “her apartments in a lofty palace of stone.” Good: “The common version, ‘secret places of the stairs’ is erroneous. The mistake has obviously originated from a wish in the translators to give a literal interpretation to this highly figurative phraseology. Stairs may well enough apply to the royal fair-one as a bride, but not as a dove.”]

[50] [Good, Burrowes, Noyes, Adelaide Newton, Withington, Thrupp, make this the language of the bride; Patrick, Poole, Ainsworth, Henry, Scott, Taylor, Fry, Clarke, Wordsworth the language of the bridegroom. Ginsburg puts it in the mouth of Shulamith’s brothers. Williams is led by the plural form of the pronouns both of the first and second persons to suppose that the chorus of virgins is here addressing the companions of the bridegroom. The ingenious suggestion that these words may be borrowed from a popular song, which here receive a new meaning from their connection, agrees well with this peculiarity in the form of expression and also with the intimation in the preceding verse.

Wordsw.: “He commands her to look well to her vineyard. He calls it our vineyard; it is his as well as hers.” Withington, (after Taylor, who thinks this verse a summons to a chase) sees in it an allusion to the “sports and employments of the care-worn king” in his seasons of relaxation.]

[51][Patrick: Aristophanes in his Equites, compares soldiers to foxes; spoiling whole countries as they do vineyards.]

[52][Williams: “These verses stand perfectly distinct from the preceding.” Others endeavor to establish a direct connection with the foregoing verses. Thus Taylor paraphrases: “I am all obedience to his requests; it shall be my happiness to accomplish his desires.” And Wordsworth in its spiritual application: “The Church thankfully catches up the expression ‘our vineyard;’ and rejoices that not only have they one vineyard, but that He is hers and she is His.”]

[53][Good, with an entire misapprehension of the figure intended: “So sweet is his breath, that surely he feedeth among the lilies.” Ginsb.: “Who tends his flock in the meadows abounding with flowers.” A figure for “the best pastures,” according to Williams, “for in such lilies appear to have grown spontaneously;” or for “sweet and lovely pastures,” according to Poole, “where there is not only herbage to feed them, but lilies to delight them.” Fry suggests as the connection between the clauses of the verse: “let him drive his flock to pasture in the flowery meads and I will accompany him.” Ainsworth, Henry, Words. and others find in the lilies a figurative reference to the bride herself as the object of his fond attachment, and one who had been compared to a lily among thorns, Song of Solomon 2:2.]

[54][Good: “Till the day breathe. The expression is truly elegant and poetical. At midnight all nature lies dead and lifeless. The shadows, however, at length fly; the morning breathes and nature revivifies. The intrinsic excellence of the metaphor has seldom been understood by our commentators, who have almost all of them referred it to the day breeze of the country, or at least to that peculiar current of air which is often found existing in most climates at the dawn.” Williams: “Return, my beloved, and remain with me until the day breathe.” Noyes: “This is understood by many of the morning. But the more recent commentators refer it to sunset or the evening.” Wordsw.: “Before the first cool gales of the evening.”]

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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 2". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/song-of-solomon-2.html. 1857-84.