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1. A quiet and tender play of fancy.
O that thou wert Better, If thou hadst but been. When I, etc. “If I found thee even in the streets, I would kiss thee, and none would reproach me for it.” She could then lay aside reserve and act with greater freedom. This is said as the lovers walk to the country.
2. I would lead thee That is, from the street.
Who would instruct me Hebrew, Thou shouldst be my teacher. There should be a pause between spiced wine and of the juice of my pomegranate, as they refer to entirely distinct things.
3. Turning to the Chorus she affirms that she needs no support at any time other than her Beloved can give.
4. This verse differs slightly from Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5, and is more forcible. That ye stir, etc. Hebrew, Why should ye stir, or awake, my affection to make it wish another? This is an appeal to them to see for themselves that she is perfectly content and happy in her Beloved. The scene now changes. The Chorus of the Daughters of Jerusalem the ladies of the court and palace no more appear. The Enamoured and the Beloved go from the city to the open fields on their way to the village in which is their home. The Chorus is now composed of villagers. Shulem, the native place of the happy pair, is so situated, that to reach it one crosses the plain of Esdraelon.
5. The wilderness Hebrew, the plain. Dismissed now from the palace, the people of the village the Homeric τις the casual group, ask of each other this question. Not hearing certainly not heeding any words of theirs, they pass on in tender musing’s, until a dear old trysting place, an apple tree, calls out a remark.
I raised thee up Hebrew, I incited thee to love. The common people of the East live much in the open air, and it is not extraordinary that the Beloved may have been born under the apple tree, (Hebrew, this apple tree,) where, in years long after, the speaker won his heart. The repetition here given makes the identification of the tree the more forcible.
6. Set me as a seal The place of so tender associations gives new impulse to her feelings. In all ancient nations the sealing ring, or signet ring the “seal” here alluded to was constantly worn upon the person, sometimes as a bracelet, oftener as a finger ring. It was, from the comparative infrequency of writing, much used in impressions which served as a sign manual. The wish of the Enamoured is, that she may be always with him.
Jealousy The Hebrew term is simply more intense than that for “love.” Ardent love is more resistless than sheol the world to which all the living are hurried. The coals, etc. Hebrew, the flames thereof are flames of fire.
Which hath Hebrew, because they are the flames of the eternal. The Author of our being, the Maker of our hearts, has implanted love within us. This brief sentence contains within itself the ample excuse for the existence of this song. This is the only mention of the divine Being in this book, and it gives reverently his sanction, or rather, appeals to him as fashioning our hearts and framing our nature.
7. Many waters cannot quench love “Therefore” is to be supplied before “many.” It has often been observed that the lack of logical particles in Hebrew causes an appearance of independent, proverbial statement, when there is real connexion. In this respect it is even more obscure than Latin, and contrasts forcibly with Greek. For the reason that love is a flame from the Eternal, “many waters cannot quench it.” If a man, etc. The allusion to the efforts and the failure of the King is very plain. The idea of the holy origin of love is still kept in view. It cannot be bought and sold for money, for houses and lands. Only a heart can buy a heart; and in dark, polygamous times, and in the case of such a king, it is good to see this truth, on the delicate and conscientious regard for which the happiness of the individual and the welfare of society must for ever depend, so firmly, though gently, asserted. The brothers of whose care over the Shulamite, honest (though perhaps rigorous) mention has already been made appear upon the scene in anxious discussion, to which their sister listens. One says to the other:
8. We have, etc. Hebrew, Our sister is young, and not yet marriageable.
When she shall be spoken for Better, when she shall be demanded in marriage. The brothers contemplate the time when she will pass from their guardianship, and according to her behaviour during the years of her minority they will apportion her dowry.
9. If she be a wall This implies stability and fidelity of character.
A palace of silver Better, a turret of silver. Among the Druses of Mount Lebanon an unmarried girl wears upon the crown of her head a silver horn, often studded with jewels. Possibly a beautiful gift of this sort is contemplated as a reward for her maintenance of the honour of their family.
And if she be a door That is, “swinging to and fro,” “fickle.” Cedar is a strong wood, and the idea of enclosing her in boards of cedar is that of close, strict custody. If she show herself accessible to seductive arts, she shall be guarded with the greater vigilance.
10. I am a wall, etc. Better, I am a wall, and of marriageable age. This is her reply to the suggestions of her brothers. Her principles have stood the test. The development of the bosom in woman, as the growth of beard in man, marks puberty, the time of life when marriage unions may properly be consummated.
“ ‘ Tis the time of times, in the dewy morn,
When the sunbeams flush the earth,
To yield in love a glowing heart,
Whatever that heart be worth.”
She turns to the Beloved with an air of triumph. The last obstacle of love the removal of her brothers’ misgivings seems removed.
Then was I Better, therefore am I. This is said to the Beloved concerning her brother, whose anxiety for her character is now at rest.
11. A vineyard at Baal-hamon From the presentation of this verse, in its connexion with the following, it suggests that the estate herein described was offered by Solomon (who has until now been called simply the King) as a dowry to the Shulamite if she would accept his proposals. No such place as “Baal-hamon” can be traced.
A thousand pieces The “pieces of silver” which each tenant brought were probably the shekel about fifty cents of our money. The property was evidently valuable.
12. We have seen the Shulamite sitting in the pavilion of the King, and in his palace. Now, she is sitting in the gardens; the friends of herself and of her Beloved welcoming her return, and anticipating the bridal feast, beguile the happy time with gentle conversation.
13. The Beloved addresses her in this verse, and urges the gladsome utterance that shall fix the nuptial hour.
14. To this she replies that there need be no delay. The Beloved may haste to assume the character of bridegroom. The lively, simple imagery, now so familiar, is kept to the last
“Wouldst thou the poet rightly understand,
Go thou and wander through his native land.”
The graceful forms of the gazelle and the young hart, the hills set with spicy groves like those of “Araby the blest,” the bride amid her companions, the bridegroom coming out of his chamber in the prime of his manly beauty with this picture, simple, yet richly set with many a charm, the Song concludes. No wonder that the rabbi, in language still preserved in the Talmud, pronounced it a legend of the beautiful, a comfort and a blessing.
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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany