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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 6

Verse 1

1. Whither… gone By a very skilful and gentle turn of the action. the reader is prepared for a very different scene. The Chorus, as being in the secret knowledge of the King’s desires, remind the Enamoured that her Beloved, charming as he may be in her eyes, has suddenly gone and left her, as intimating that his love for her cannot be very ardent, and that she may as well not be wholly inaccessible to the approaches of one who has much to recommend him. This sentiment is half concealed and half revealed in this first verse.

That we may seek Supply, Tell us, in order that we may, etc.

Verse 2

2. Into his garden This reply is made with the utmost composure, as if she divined their plan, but was entirely easy and assured of herself. The verse might be introduced by an “Oh,” pronounced so as to depreciate the question. “As if he thought his stay here might not be the best thing, he has returned to his pleasant business at home.”

To feed in the gardens Better, to enjoy the good of the gardens.

Verse 3

3. See Song of Solomon 2:16. Supply, For all that. The connective though, is to be supplied: “ Though he feedeth his flock among the lilies.” This is now uttered for the king to hear, and his ear can catch it, as, “with condescension covering every kingly grace,” he approaches to see if he may win a new victory over a fresh young heart by blandishments that never yet have failed.

Verse 4

4. Tirzah ( Delightful) was the capital of Israel until Omri built Samaria. Its site was charming, and the town probably worthy of its name.

Comely as Jerusalem “The perfection of beauty,” “built as a city compact together,” or at harmony with itself now adorned with the temple and the various works of the royal builder must have been the most imposing of all cities known to the people of the land. Terrible, etc. The beauty of woman has more than once been compared to the power of an army. The fascinations of Cleopatra dazzled and subdued Caesar the foremost man of all his time, and afterward the grim and unscrupulous Antony. So Alexander refused to see the daughters of Darius, lest, alter conquering men, he should be conquered by women.

Verse 5

5. Thine eyes… have overcome me Better, Have unmanned me; as if he could not bear the full blaze of her charms.

Verses 6-7

6, 7. Thy teeth, etc. The King falls into the same forms of speech as the Beloved had used before. (See Song of Solomon 4:2.) Had he overheard? Or had his thought an identity of expression, as it had identity of suggestion, with that of the Beloved? However that might be to his hearer, how different the sound! These words were the words that charmed her ear from the lips of her Beloved, but they lose all music when the voice is the voice of the King. No elocution of his can make these compliments sound as when that other spoke them.

Verse 8

8. There are Better, I have there, pointing to the women’s apartments of his palace. The King here alludes to his harem. Threescore queens, etc.

Stating the numbers of its inmates in general and representative terms, equivalent to many, very many. The exact numbers are given three hundred wives and seven hundred concubines in 1 Kings 11:3. These hapless beauties, by a policy of luxury which in the end proved disastrous, were selected to form a galaxy to brighten and adorn the court, and minister to the pride and passion of the King. But he affirms that this one, on whom his eye is newly set, is

“Fair as a star when only one

Is shining in the sky.”

Verse 9

9. Is but one That is, there is none like her. It is not affirmed that she is an only child, or even an only daughter, but that she is without like or equal absolutely peerless in her beauty.

The daughters That is, The maidens in waiting

Blessed her… praised her The verbs should be in the present. The King nowhere ventures to call her his betrothed.

My undefiled Hebrew, My perfect one. To connect this verse with the following, supply “saying.”

Verse 10

10. Who is she, etc. The purport of this verse is, that if all the ladies of the palace are thus warm in admiration of this girl, she need have no apprehension of slights and annoyances to which jealousy might give rise.

That looketh forth Better, looks forth.

As the morning The Greek goddess Athena,

“The patroness of Athens, and to whom was built the Parthenon.

The brightest gem

Greece wore on all her zone,”

was the deified dawn. At the first streak of light in the east the priestess kindled her sacrificial fire and chanted a hymn of praise. The red morn beaming from the hills is always beautiful. So the meek moon, walking in brightness, and the effulgent sun that lights up the blushing day, all are vigorous metaphors.

Verse 11

11. Went… into the garden Unaffected by these courtly words, yet her cheeks mantling as if flushed with wine, the girl timidly and apologetically explains what seems to herself passing strange how she came to be in the palace at all. These verses are not only the most difficult of translation to be found in the song, but they contain the most difficult point of the entire plot. Yet the author follows strictly the rule honoured by the great masters of the dramatic art, and laid down by Horace of old; that what would be revolting or unintelligible to enact before an audience, may properly be rehearsed, its painful or obscure features being omitted. She was in the enjoyments and employments of her quiet country life, looking after the welfare of her little “garden.”

Verse 12

12. Or ever I was aware Hebrew, I knew not; that is, unconsciously, unintentionally.

Made me Hebrew, set me.

Amminadib Hebrew, the escort of the prince. “By some influence, of which I could hardly explain the cause, I joined the chariots of the escort of the King.” The most careful and rigorous construction of the Hebrew comes to this as the sense and design of the verse. It explains how she left her home which she herself cannot quite understand and came with the King’s train from the pavilion in the country, and afterward to the palace in the capital. This bashful, half-hinted, half-suppressed confession, skilful as if from the lips of the Jocaste of Sophocles, tells what seems passing strange to the heroine herself that she should be at all in royal company.

Verse 13

13. Shulamite is, in Hebrew, the same as “Shunammite.” Shunem was a little village near Jezreel, the residence of Abishag, the last wife of David, and of the woman whose son Elisha restored to life. The address of the verse is to one who is, apparently, in the act of departing. The speaker, in the first period, may be either the King or the Chorus.

The Shulamite Representing herself as one of the people of the village, the proper translation should be, “a Shulamite;” that is, an humble country girl.

The company of two armies This very difficult passage can, on the whole, have but one of two meanings. One is, “a dance of double lines,” as when the dancers are arranged in rows facing each other. It would then be poetically equivalent to “many beauties and graces in harmony.” Its other sense would be taken from Genesis 32:1-2, where Jacob and his company are met by the vision of angels, and he calls the place Mahanaim, because angels as well as mortals are there. This would poetically signify, “Something more than human, more fair and lovely, seems added to our company when thou art here.” The idea of angels was always familiar to the Jewish mind, nor is this sense of the word extravagant. In either case and sound criticism can hardly admit the possibility of a third the speech is very highly complimentary.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 6". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/song-of-solomon-6.html. 1874-1909.