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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Song of Solomon 2

 

 

Verses 1-7

See Song of Solomon 1:1 ff for the passage comments with footnotes.

Song of Solomon 2:1. Shulamith: I am (only) a wild flower of Sharon, a lily of the valleys. The connection with the preceding is not to be denied altogether (with Delitzsch, who makes a new scene begin with this verse); still we must assume a pause of some length after Song of Solomon 1:17, during which Shulamith who continues to tarry in the garden at the side of her lover, reflects upon her great good fortune in being selected to be the darling of the king, and by the comparison of the splendor which now surrounds her with the meadows and valleys of her home is disposed to humility and at the same time filled with longing for that simpler condition which she must forsake. She gives an artless as well as a delicate and striking expression to these feelings by calling herself “a wild-flower,” a “lily of the valleys,” which was not congruous to the many ornamental plants and artistic beauties of the royal court.[FN1]—Which flower of the plain of Sharon is intended by חֲבַצֶּלֶת הַשָּׁרוֹן, it is difficult to determine. Its identity with the “lily of the valley” (Sept, Vulg, and Targ. on Isaiah 35:1, the only other passage of the O. Test. in which חֲבַצֶּלֶת occurs), [Cran, lily; so Lee], is contradicted by its being mentioned in a parallel with it, a circumstance which requires us to think of some similar plant, but one which is specifically different from it. If חבצלתֹ were really connected with חמץ, “to be red” (comp. הָמוּץred, Isaiah 63:1), as Hitzig, Weissb, etc., assume, the simplest course would be with Aquila and R. Kimchi on Isaiah 35:1, to translate it “rose,” [so Bish, Genev, E. Ver.], and then to compare the combination of rose and lily in Sirach 39:13-14 as probably drawn from this passage. But another etymology, which supposes the word to be in some manner compounded with בֶּצֶלonion (whether ח is prefixed, which serves to form quadrilaterals, or the adj. חָמֵץ “sour,” lurks in its initial letters), points rather to some bulbous plant; perhaps the meadow-saffron, which the Old Syriac seems to have intended (comp. Mich, Ewald, Gesenius, etc.), [so Royle, Wordsworth, Noyes and Thrupp, who however translates it “daisy”], or the tulip (Velthusen, Magn, Vaih.), or the narcissus, for which last the Targ. already testifies with its נַרְקוֹם. As no one of these significations can be demonstrated with absolute certainty, it may be most advisable with the Sept. and Vulg. to abide by the indefinite “flower” [so Cov, Dow.], or “wild-flower” [so Withington, Ginsburg]. Also in regard to the name Sharon שָׁרוֹן, it cannot be said decisively, whether it denotes the well-known plain along the coast between Cesarea and Joppa ( Acts 9:35), or the trans-jordanic plain named 1 Chronicles 5:16, or finally a third meadow-land of Sharon between Tabor and the lake of Gennesaret mentioned by Eusebius in the Onomast. This last might perhaps be most readily thought of on account of its vicinity to Shunem.[FN2]—Further חֲבַצֶּלֶת הַשָּׁרוֹן, Isaiah, notwithstanding the article before שָׁרוֹן, to be translated “a wild-flower of Sharon” (comp. Genesis 9:20; Genesis 35:16; Jeremiah 13:4, etc.), and no conclusion can be drawn from this expression in favor of the allegorical explanation of Shulamith as the Church (against Hengstenberg).[FN3]—In both these comparisons, that with the flower of Sharon, and that with the lily (by which must be meant not the strongly scented lilium candidum, but rather as appears from Song of Solomon 1:5-6; Song of Solomon 5:13 the Palestine red lily, lilium rubens of Pliny H. N21:5), the tertium comparat. is both the diminutive size of these plants compared with cedars, cypresses, etc., and also their beauty and elegance ( Matthew 6:28; Luke 12:27), so that, although Shulamith refers to her lowliness and rural simplicity, she yet says nothing derogatory to herself,[FN4] and quite in analogy with Song of Solomon 1:5 manifests a certain self-regard though genuinely modest, and pure as a child.

Song of Solomon 2:2. As a lily among thorns, so is my dear among the daughters. That which had been to Shulamith an expression of her lowliness is seized upon by Solomon with courtly skill in order to bring out of it the more emphatic praise of her grace and beauty. More strongly almost than afterwards in Song of Solomon 6:8-9 he puts all other women in the shade in comparison with his chosen one, likening them to thorns, the well-known figure of whatever is mean, troublesome and offensive (comp. Judges 9:14; 2 Kings 14:9; Isaiah 7:23 ff; Isaiah 32:13; Isaiah 55:13; Ezekiel 2:6; Ezekiel 28:24; Hosea 9:6; Hosea 10:8; Psalm 58:10; Proverbs 22:5, etc). [Noyes: “It is not implied that the lily grows among thorns, but that his love surpassed other women as much as the lily the thorn.” Moody Stuart quotes the following as illustrative from Bonar: “Close by these lilies there grew several of the thorny shrubs of the desert; but above them rose the lily spreading out its fresh green leaf as a contrast to the dingy verdure of these prickly shrubs.”] With the translation “rose” [so Cov, Cran.] (which is moreover absolutely inadmissible, since the fem. שׁוֹשַׁנָּה must unquestionably have a sense like that of the masc. שׁוּשַׁן or שׁושָׁן “lily”) the strong contrast intended would almost entirely vanish, for the thorns serve only to adorn the rose. Renan regards this verse and Song of Solomon 2:7 as spoken by the shepherd (!) entering here for the first time (“entrant brusquement en scène”)! [Ginsburg imagines that Song of Solomon 1:15 is also spoken by this imaginary shepherd.—Tr.]

Song of Solomon 2:3. As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. Observe the exact parallelism of this sentence with Song of Solomon 2:2. Shulamith gives back the flattering commendation of her lover with a still closer adherence to his expressions than above in Song of Solomon 1:16, and thus their conversation assumes the appearance of a “contest of mutually eulogistic love” (Delitzsch). The reference of Shulamith’s language to an absent lover, whom she praises in opposition to Song of Solomon, who is indifferent or repulsive to her (Ew, Hitz, Vaih, etc.), destroys the simple beauty of the dialogue. It is inadmissible to understand by the “apple tree (תַּפּוּחַ, Sept. μῆλον) some nobler fruit tree than the common Pyrus malus, as for instance, the quince (Pyrus cydonia), or the citron (malus medica) [so Good, Williams, Taylor, Thrupp, With.], or the orange (as is done by Celsius in his Hierobot.Velthus, Rosenm, Van Kooten, etc.), on account of the mention made immediately afterwards ( Song of Solomon 2:3 d, and Song of Solomon 2:5) of the sweet fruit of the tree, because those acquainted with the East in former as well as in more recent times commend even the common apples of Syria and Palestine as an exceedingly generous fruit, of fine flavor and a pleasing fragrance (comp. Harmer, Observations, etc.,), and because the comparatively rare occurrence of תַּפּוּחַ in the Old Test, and its combination with the fig, pomegranate, palm, etc. ( Joel 1:12; comp. Sol. Song of Solomon 7:9; Song of Solomon 8:5) point to its belonging to the nobler fruit-bearing plants of the flora of ancient Israel. [Wordsworth: It is a generic word (like malum in Latin), and may include the citron and lemon].—In his shadow delighted I sit, lit, “I delight and sit” (חִמַּדְתִּי וְיָשַׁבְתִּי) [Gins.: I delight to sit”], a construction like תַּרְבּוּ תְדַבְּרוּ, 1 Samuel 2:3, where the first verb seems to have only an adverbial force and the second expresses the principal idea,[FN5] comp. also below Song of Solomon 4:8; Song of Solomon 5:6, and Ewald, Lehrbuch, § 285, b. [Green’sHeb. Gram. § 269]. Further it is no more necessary to take these verbs in a preterite sense here (Ewald, Hitz, etc.) than in Song of Solomon 1:12, [strictly: I have been sitting and still sit.—Tr.], so that this passage supplies no valid argument in favor of the shepherd hypothesis. In the figure of the shadow the point of comparison is not the protection afforded (as e.g. Psalm 17:8; Psalm 91:1; Isaiah 25:4, etc.), but the refreshing and reviving influence of the nearness of her lover, just as the sweet fruit of the apple-tree serves to represent his agreeable caresses, so Song of Solomon 4:16; Song of Solomon 7:13 (comp. Weissb. in loc.).

Song of Solomon 2:4. He has brought me into his wine house.בְּית הַיַּיִן must be the same essentially as בֵּית מִשְׁתֵּה הַיַּין, that is to say, a room or apartment for drinking wine, a banquet hall [Eng. Ver.], not a “wine shop” (! Böttch.), or a “wine cellar” (Vulg.: “cella vinaria,” Luth, Ren, etc.), [Cov, Cran, Genev, Doway, Williams], or a “vine-arbor” (Vaih, etc.), or a “vineyard” (Ewald, Heiligst, etc). But so surely as the expressions in the context, especially the “fruit” of the apple-tree in Song of Solomon 2:3 d, and the “banner” in4 b, are to be understood figuratively, with the same certainty must the literal interpretation of “leading into the wine room” be rejected, and the sense of this expression must be found rather in an increased participation in the sweet tokens of his love, an intoxication from caresses (already essentially correct Ruperti, Döderl, Gesenius, Döpke, Weissb, etc.). [So Good, Noyes. Gins.: “bower of delight.”] The words need therefore neither be taken as a wish (Sept,εἰσαγάγετέ με εἰς οἶκον τοῦ οἴνου, Velth, Amm, Hug, Umbreit, etc.), [so Good, Fry], nor as a narrative of what her country lover had previously done with her (Ewald, Vaih, Böttcher), nor as the enthusiastic exclamation of a lady of the harem, who was now embraced by Solomon instead of the coy Shulamith (!! Hitz.), etc. There is no alternative but to regard it as a figurative description of the love which she had experienced from Song of Solomon, having its most exact analogon in Song of Solomon 1:4 b, “the king has brought me into his chambers.”—And his banner over me is love,i.e. not “he bears his love as an ensign before me who follow him” (Grotius, Hitzig, Weissb, etc.), [so Noyes, Thrupp, etc.], but “love waves as a protecting and comforting banner over my head ( Psalm 20:6) when I am near him.” So correctly Döpke, Del, [Wordsw, Burrowes]; also Ewald, Vaih, etc., only the latter here again find described the love formerly enjoyed with her shepherd in the country. The banner (דֶּגֶל) Isaiah, wherever it occurs in the Old Test, a military figure (comp. besides Psalm 20:6, also Numbers 1:52; Numbers 2:2, ff.). It must accordingly be explained here too in this sense, and not with Böttcher of the sign before a wine shop (a tavern signboard!).[FN6]

Song of Solomon 2:5. Stay me with grapes, refresh me with apples. The caresses of the king, who is clasping and embracing her (see Song of Solomon 2:6) produce an effect upon one so ardent in her love, which even if not “thoroughly agitating” (Delitzsch), or “taking away her breath and almost stifling” (Hoelem), is yet powerfully exciting and as it were intoxicating, and directly wakens in her, probably for the first time since she came to the court, the consciousness that she is sick of love (comp. Song of Solomon 5:8), and therefore needs to be strengthened by eating some refreshing fruit, or something of the sort. She directs her request for it, as is shown by the plurals סַמְּכוּנִי (literally, fulcite me, support me; comp. Genesis 27:37; Psalm 104:15), רַפְּדוּנִי, not to her lover himself (Weissb.), but to the ladies of the court near her, to whom also the lively exclamation, Song of Solomon 2:7, is uttered. אֲשִׁישׁוֹת are neither aromatic unguents (Sept,μύρα), nor flowers (Vulg.:fulcite me floribus [so Doway]; so too Symm, etc.), but agreeably to its probable derivation from אָשַׁשׁ “to found, to make firm” (see Knobel on Isaiah 46:8), pressed grapes, and so perhaps wine syrup, or better raisin cakes, grape cakes, which is favored both by the verb סָמַךְ and by the use of the word in Hosea 3:1 (where the Sept. translate, πέμματα), and in 2 Samuel 6:19 (Sept.:λάγανον ἀπὸ τηγάνου, pancakes).

Song of Solomon 2:6. His left hand is under my head and his right embraces me.תְּחַבְּקֵנִי must not be taken in the optative here any more than in Song of Solomon 8:3, where the entire passage recurs, as though the sentence expressed a wish, “let his left hand be under my head and his right embrace me”[FN7] (Ewald, Vaih, Weissb, etc., [so Ginsb.].—This is contradicted by the whole situation as well in this passage as in Song of Solomon 8:3. On the score of language too it is simpler and more natural to understand it as an indicative.

Song of Solomon 2:7. “I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,etc. In favor of Shulamith as the speaker in these closing words, it may be said: 1. That she is unmistakably the speaker of these words in Song of Solomon 3:5 and Song of Solomon 8:4, where as here they introduce a “pause in the action” of considerable length (Ewald). 2. That Shulamith already addressed the ladies of the court in Song of Solomon 2:5, who must accordingly be supposed to be near at hand as spectators of her joy3. That what she has said of her being “sick of love” prepared the way for this adjuration, and the latter is well-nigh unintelligible without reference to the former. We may from the outset, therefore, repel the attempts to treat the verse as the language of the queen mother, who enters here (! Böttch.), or of the celestial Solomon (Hengstenb, after many older expositors as Starke, Jo. Lange, etc.), or of the poet (Umbr, Hitzig),[FN8] or, finally of the shepherd speaking to the chorus (! Renan). “I adjure you,” literally, I cause you (as much as in me is) to swear, I exact from you the sacred promise, I earnestly beg you.[FN9] Compare Genesis 1:5; Numbers 5:19. By the gazelles or by the hinds of the field. These animals are not named in the adjuration, because animals generally in contrast with men have “fixed annual rutting seasons” (Hitzig; likewise also Herder and others); nor because the ladies of Jerusalem were in the habit of keeping little pet gazelles (J. D. Mich.), nor on account of the resemblance of צְבָאוֹת and אַיָּלוֹת הַשָּׂדֶה to the divine names יְהֹוָה צְבָאוֹת and אֱלֹהֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם (Weissb.); but doubtless on account of their pretty and graceful appearance (comp. Proverbs 5:19), which makes these animals in particular fit symbols of tender and ideal love, and must make them especially dear to women in this point of view. Comp. particularly Döpkein loc., likewise Ewald: “In common life people swore by things, which belonged to the subject of conversation, or were especially dear to the speaker. As therefore the warrior swears by his sword, as Mohammed by the soul of which he is just about to speak (Kor. Song 91:7), so here Shulamith by the lovely gazelles since she is speaking of love.”[FN10]That ye wake not nor awaken love until it please.אִם תָּעִירוּ, literally, “if ye wake,” etc. (Ewald, § 325, b), [Green’sHeb. Chrestomathy on Genesis 42:15]. The verb is here masc, corresponding to אֶתְכֶם in a, not because the daughters of Jerusalem were not real female personalities, as Hengstenberg [so too Wordsworth] insists, but because the primary gender is here used as common, as in Song of Solomon 2:5 above, and Judges 4:20; Isaiah 32:11; and frequently in the imperative. [Thrupp explains it by “the general indefiniteness of the character which the daughters of Jerusalem as members of the chorus here sustain.” But see Green’sHeb. Gram. § 275, 5.—Tr.]—הָאַהֲבָה is certainly not “the loved one,” as though the warning here were not wantonly to wake Shulamith who had fallen asleep (Vulg. dilectam, Syr, Gesen, Ewald, Rosenm, Hengstenb, Renan and J. D. Michaelis who for the sake of this sense points הָאֲהֻבָה), but as this meaning would be in the highest degree unsuitable in the parallel passages Song of Solomon 3:5 and Song of Solomon 8:4, and as love as an ethical idea comes significantly forward elsewhere in this poem ( Song of Solomon 7:7 and Song of Solomon 8:6 f.), it is manifestly love itself as a passion slumbering in the heart, which it would not do over-curiously to rouse or kindle to a flame. הָעִיר הָאַהֲבָה cannot possibly mean “disturbing love” before it has attained full satisfaction of its desire for converse with the beloved object (Delitzsch, Weissb.), for it certainly expresses something analogous to הָעִיר קִנְאָה “stir up jealousy” Isaiah 42:13, and the Pi. עוֹרֵר, which is added to strengthen it, always and only has the sense of exciting or awakening e.g. strife, Proverbs 10:12, strength or power, Psalm 80:3, etc. Comp. also irritata voluptas, irritamenta amoris seu veneris in Latin poets (e.g.Ovid, de arte am. 2, 681; Metam. 9, 133; Juven11, 165); although here we are certainly not to think of any magic charms or philters to inflame love or lust, such as love apples, Genesis 30:14, etc., or quinces (Böttcher). The meaning of the admonition is rather simply this: “Plunge not rash and unbidden into the passion of love, that is to say not before love awakes of itself (till heart is joined to heart, till God Himself awakens in you an affection for the right man), be not forward to excite it in your hearts by frivolous coquetry or loose amorous arts.” This caution may in some measure be regarded as the moral of the entire poem, inasmuch as it aims at the preservation of the chaste, truly moral, and consequently truly natural, character of love. It Isaiah, therefore, most suitably put into the mouth of Shulamith as the bearer or representative of such pure ethical love in contrast with the women of Solomon’s court.[FN11] Comp. the like sentence Song of Solomon 8:7 b.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The allegorical interpretation current in the Church regards all the particulars in the foregoing description of the loving intercourse between the bridegroom and the bride, as allusions veiled under mystical figures to the relation of Christ to the Church and further to the soul of the individual Christian. It sees in the opening words of Shulamith Song of Solomon 1:2-4 a manifestation of the longing of the Church for union with her heavenly bridegroom, whilst the partial identification or combination of Shulamith with the other virgins was especially designed to indicate that the speaker was an ideal person as well as her lover, who is now addressed, now mentioned in the third person, and who forms the object of her longing desire. It further supposes in what Shulamith says Song of Solomon 1:5-6 of her “blackness” and of her “not having kept her own vineyard,” references to the sins of the church, as the causes of her temporary separation from God and her enslavement by the empire of this world; and accordingly finds, in Song of Solomon 1:7, a prayer to be informed respecting the way which leads back to communion with God and Christ, in Song of Solomon 1:8 a statement of this way vouchsafed to her by divine grace; Song of Solomon 1:9-17 depict the emulous contest of love, which proceeds between the Church penitently returned to her heavenly bridegroom and Christ, who graciously receives her; in which the cordial promptness and address, with which the bride immediately repeats in application to her bridegroom everything said in her praise, indicate the faith of the Church working by love and making constant progress in holiness. Then in Song of Solomon 2:1-7, it is alleged that “declarations of love advance to the enjoyment of love,” and this latter is represented in Song of Solomon 1:6 as having already attained its acme under the emblem of an embrace, or of the nuptial couch. The epiphonema in Song of Solomon 1:7 brings the entire development to its conclusion, and shows by its twofold recurrence subsequently in Song of Solomon 3:5 and Song of Solomon 8:4, that the same subject is treated in successive cycles, and the process by which the loving union of Christ with the Church is effected is thus repeatedly symbolized under an allegorico-dramatic veil, varied with every iteration.—So among the more recent allegorizers, e.g., Hengstenberg (pp 2 ff, 24ff, 36 ff.), with whom the rest, as Hahn, Hoelemann, etc., agree in everything essential, and particularly in the assertion of a cyclical mode of presentation, by which the dramatic unity of the whole is fundamentally destroyed, and several successive tableaux or portraitures of character are assumed, all relating to the same subject (or as Hahn expresses it, each “serves to supplement or further explain” its predecessors). Similarly the older allegorical interpreters, only they go into more detail in the mystical exposition of the individual figures, and see e.g. in the bundle of myrrh, Song of Solomon 1:13, a reference to Christ’s bitter passion, or to His perfect sacrifice for the sins of men (comp. Starke in loc.), whereby consequently an allusion to His munus sacerdotale is added to that to the munus propheticum ( Song of Solomon 1:7, Christ as shepherd), and regium ( Song of Solomon 1:12, Christ as king); or expound the “golden bracelets” Song of Solomon 1:11 of the growth of faith, the “silver points,” in the same passage, of holiness of life; or hold the “wine cellar” Song of Solomon 2:4 to be an emblem of Christian churches and schools as “houses of Wisdom of Solomon,” or see in it whether “the altar of the Church, where the body and blood of Christ are dispensed,” or the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, with their various sorts or stages of divine Revelation 12

2. In opposition to such aimless and unbridled trifling, which lays no sure historical and exegetical foundation at the outset, and hence supposes that it can bring every possible mystery into the simple language of this poem, an unprejudiced historical exposition can see nothing in the section explained above, but the first act of a more prolonged lyrico-dramatic action, which by a gradual progress brings to its denouement the relation of two lovers, king Solomon and a fair Israelitish maiden, whose previous condition was that of a shepherdess or a vine-dresser. The development in this first section is not carried beyond the exhibiting a decided ethical contrast between the character of this maiden and that of the daughters of Jerusalem, i. e, the ladies of Solomon’s court or harem, and the knitting in addition of a firm bond of loving heart-communion between her and the king, who for her sake already begins to contemn all the others, and even to find them unlovely (see Song of Solomon 2:2). It is not exactly the very first of the “mutual attachment” of the two lovers (Delitzsch), but it is the first consciousness in both of the incomparable strength and ardor of their reciprocal affection (see particularly Song of Solomon 2:5-6), which is exhibited in this Acts, together with the first evident cropping out of an inner contrariety between this closely united pair and the other persons of the court; and this is brought by the principal person in the piece to the briefest and most emphatic expression possible, by the remark at the close in Song of Solomon 2:7, as a contrast of true and false love, or that which “awakes of itself,” and that which is “excited” by amorous arts.[FN13]

3. Only thus much can be maintained as the well assured result of a sober, yet earnest-minded exposition of this first division, which keeps aloof from the profane assumptions and artificial combinations of modern shepherd-romances and amatory poems; and it is simply on this basis, therefore, that a practical application of the contents of this chapter and a half must proceed, if it is to be conducted upon sound and worthy principles. Its aim must consist essentially in pointing out and devoutly estimating the typical analogy which undeniably holds between what is here found and the dealings of the Redeemer with His Church. As Solomon raised his beloved from a low condition to his own glory, and that from mere love, and drawn by her beauty and charms, so the Lord has exalted Prayer of Manasseh, sunk in misery and degradation, from no other motive than His love, His mere personal regard for our race, upon which His divine glory and blessedness were in no manner dependent; for

“Nothing brought Him from above,

Nothing but redeeming love.”

As further Solomon’s love to Shulamith appears in a gradual growth and a progression by successive steps, so too Christ lifts both His entire church and the individual souls that compose it, only step by step to the full and complete fellowship of His grace. To the call into His kingdom, which corresponds with the establishing of the relation of conjugal love in the royal gardens at Jerusalem represented in this Acts, succeed the higher stages of illumination, conversion, sanctification; but they do not follow immediately upon the heels of the former. As finally the lovely combination of child-like humility and of inward longing for her beloved, which Shulamith’s character already exhibits in this first Song of Solomon, forms her chief attraction which first makes her appear truly worthy of the love of her royal bridegroom, so in the soul of every Christian whom the Lord calls into His kingdom and will make partaker of His grace, the necessity of surrendering himself voluntarily to these gracious drawings with a hearty desire for a complete union with him becomes His highest duty; for “non visi volentes trahuntur a Deo” ( Matthew 23:37.)—Besides these analogies a sound and sober practical exposition of this section must also hold up the numerous points of difference between the historical type and the soteriological and Messianic antitype; and among these it must particularly point out the dissimilitude, nay the contrast between the earthly Song of Solomon, and the divine-human Redeemer, as well as between the surroundings of both. For it is only in this way that the total of what is contained in this action can be duly developed and converted to practical profit in both a positive and a negative respect. Comp. Introduction, § 4, pp16 ff.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Patrick, Poole and Doway follow Wicliffe and Matthews in making Song of Solomon 2:1 the language of the bridegroom. The great body of commentators with better reason assign it to the bride. Burrowes: “Reclining thus on a bed of grass and flowers, the beloved and the bride naturally speak of each other in language drawn from the beautiful objects under their notice.” Still more appropriately Williams: “The spouse with the most beautiful productions of the royal garden in her view, ventures to compare herself, not with them, but with the more humble natives of the fields and valleys.” The “longing,” which Zöckler here finds for her home and former humble station, belongs purely to his theory of the plot in the Song of Solomon, and has no place in the text itself.—Tr.]

FN#2 - Hengstenberg argues that “the valleys,” which correspond in the parallelism with “Sharon,” must also have the force of a proper name, and on the ground of 1 Chronicles 12:15, he decides that the valleys on either side of the Jordan are referred to. Cov, Geneva, Doway, Fry, Thrupp, With, Gins, follow the LXX in giving to Sharon an appellative sense: meadow, field or plain. The parallelism Isaiah, of course, not sufficient to justify either conclusion. Good finds an allusion here to her birth-place: “she was not of Egyptian origin, or royal descent, but a rose of the fields of Sharon—a native of Palestine.” Of course the famous Sharon must be the one intended in such a passage as this.—Tr.]

FN#3 - The article is always definite in Hebrew; and the only correct translation is therefore, “the flower of Sharon,” where the article, however, is not to be taken in an eminent or exclusive sense, “the flower” par excellence (as Wordsworth: the flower of the whole earth; Doway: the flower of mankind) but has its generic sense, as is usual in comparisons. We may in conformity with our idiom substitute our indefinite for the Hebrew definite article in such cases, but this is by way of paraphrase, not exact translation. See Green’s Heb. Gram. § 245, 5, d.—Tr.]

FN#4 - If חבצלת really meant the “saffron,” Colchicum autumnale, the comparison would contain what was damaging and degrading to Shulamith; but this is not admissible on account of the parallel, “lily of the valleys.”

FN#5 - Wordsw. preserves the distinct verbal force of both words: “I long for his shadow and sit beneath it.” Cov.: “My delight is to sit under his shadow.” Eng. Ver.: “I sat down under his shadow with great delight.” Geneva: “Under his shadow I had delight and sat down.”]

FN#6 - The meaning of this clause is well expressed by Coverdale: He loveth me specially well. Doway has: He hath ordered in me chastity. Parkhurst, without reason, supposes a reference to “a light or lamp, such as was carried before the new-married couple on the evening of their wedding, comp. Matthew 25:1-2.”]

FN#7 - Thrupp insists on the future sense: The time shall come when that sickness of love, of which I now complain, shall be solaced and satisfied. Taylor makes Song of Solomon 2:4-6 the protasis of the sentence completed in Song of Solomon 2:7, “when he brings me, etc., when his left hand Isaiah, etc., I adjure you,” etc.]

FN#8 - Gill, Patrick, Scott and Williams make this the language of the bridegroom; the great body of English commentators refer it to the bride.—Tr.]

FN#9 - Withington, in accordance with his supposition that the bride is the daughter of an Arab chief, whose adjuration is consequently by the roes and hinds of her native fields, remarks: “The semi-paganism of the oath is extremely natural.” Moody Stuart: “This is no oath by the hinds of the fields, but a solemn charge with the strength of an oath.” Williams infers, from a comparison of Genesis 21:30, that the “antelopes and hinds of the field” are referred to as witnesses of this solemn adjuration made in their presence.—Tr.]

FN#10 - Henry: “She gives them this charge by everything that is amiable in their eyes and dear to them.” Fry: “The bride bids her attendants to be cautious not to disturb or call off the attention of her husband, whose society she has so coveted, as though they were approaching the gazelles or the deer of the plain.” Taylor and Burrowes likewise find the point of the allusion in the timorousness of these animals. Gill and Scott combine both: “They are gentle and pleasant creatures, but exceedingly timorous.” Words: “The roes and hinds love their mates with tender affection and steadfast reliance and will not disturb them in their slumbers.”]

FN#11 - This surely cannot be accepted as a satisfactory explanation of this difficult verse. The spontaneity of love, which no effort must be made to awaken, but which must be excited of itself, so far from being accounted a worthy lesson of divine Revelation, is not even a doctrine of ethics, and would require considerable qualification before it could be admitted to be sound rational advice. If inspired instruction were to be given on the subject of conjugal love, and a whole book devoted to the treatment of it, we might reasonably expect that its constancy, purity and strength would be prominently dwelt upon, that due attention would be paid to the qualities on which it should be based, the affectionate offices by which it should be maintained, and the holy principles by which it should be regulated. But instead of all this the one thing insisted upon is that love must be spontaneous and unsolicited. What is this but to convert it into heedless, inconsiderate passion, the spring of ill-judged attachments, which prove as inharmonious in their issue as they were irrational in their origin? This Isaiah, besides, a very different thing from the theme of this book, as Zöckler himself conceives and represents it, which is the commendation of a pure and chaste conjugal affection as opposed to the dissoluteness and sensuality fostered by polygamy. It would also be a most extraordinary admonition for Shulamith to the daughters of Jerusalem, among whom, according to Zöckler’s hypothesis were the wives of Song of Solomon, married to him long before Shulamith had ever seen him.

Then besides the feebleness and inappropriateness of the sense obtained, it is doubtful whether the language of the verse can be made to yield it. The expressions thus explained are exceedingly vague. There is nothing to indicate in whom they are cautioned not to awaken love, whether in themselves or others; or in what way—may they not in any way seek to win another’s affection or to excite their own, not even by exhibiting or discerning what is worthy of regard? And “till it (i.e., love) please,” is to say the least an unexampled phrase. It is a very singular form of speech for any one to adopt: “do not excite a passion until that passion is willing to be excited.”

Of the English commentators, who take “love” in its subjective sense of the feeling or emotion, Ginsburg under the bias of the unfounded shepherd-hypothesis translates: “neither to excite nor to incite my affection till it wishes another love,” the words “another love” being introduced without any warrant from the text or context. Patrick paraphrases thus: “I conjure you not to discompose or give the least disturbance to that love; but let it enjoy its satisfaction to the height of its desires.” So substantially Taylor and Thrupp. Weiss.: “if ye disturb this love until it shall become complete, i.e., until the marriage be consummated.” But the verbs here employed mean to awaken or excite, not to disturb. It seems better, however, with the great body of interpreters to take “love” here as in Song of Solomon 7:6 in its objective sense of one who is beloved. Wordsworth compares “the words of S. Ignatius ad Romans 7, έμὸς ἔρως έσταύρωται” The bride is locked in the fond embrace of him whom she loves. She would not have him aroused by the intrusion of others to the interrupting or abridging of her joy. Poole, with an eye to its spiritual application: “Do not disturb nor offend him by your miscarriages.” Words.: “The church conjures her children that they be not impatient but wait in faith and hope for God’s own time, when it may please Him to arise and deliver her.”—Tr.]

FN#12 - Geneva Bible, note on Song of Solomon 1:2 : “This is spoken in the person of the Church or of the faithful soul inflamed with the desire of Christ, whom she loveth.” Ainsw.: “The bride is the Church espoused to Christ.” In Song of Solomon 1:2 she “desireth to have Christ manifested in the flesh, and to have the loving and comfortable doctrines of His gospel applied unto her conscience.” “By virgins ( Song of Solomon 1:3) are meant all such (whether whole churches or particular persons) who with chaste and pure minds serve the Lord only.” The daughters of Jerusalem are “the friends of Christ and His Church, the elect of God, though not yet perfectly instructed in the way of the Lord.” The bride’s blackness ( Song of Solomon 1:5) is “the Church’s afflictions and infirmities.” Her mother’s sons, “either false brethren, false prophets and deceivers, or inordinate lusts and sins which dwelt in her, and were conceived with her.” “The vineyards opposed to her own vineyard seem to mean false churches, and in them the corruption of religion, whereunto her mother’s sons sought to draw her; setting her to observe the ordinances and traditions of men, or otherwise to undergo their cruelty and wrath.” In Song of Solomon 1:7 “the Church maketh request unto Christ for instruction in the administration of His kingdom here on earth.” Burrowes regards this section as exhibiting, in successive steps, “the progress of the pious soul in the enjoyment of Christ’s love and favor.” 1. We enjoy the love of Jesus as manifested in private communion “in His chambers,” Song of Solomon 1:4. 2. In the way of duty and self-denial, Song of Solomon 1:7-11. 3. In sitting with the King in the circle of His friends, and enjoying, as one of them, the delights of social communion with Him, Song of Solomon 1:12-14. 4. In delightful repose with Him, amid enlarged prospects of spiritual beauty, Song of Solomon 1:15-17. 5. In the protection and delights set forth in Song of Solomon 2:1 to Song of Solomon 3:6. In enjoying at last the pleasures mentioned in Song of Solomon 2:4-7, the greatest possible on earth.”

Wordsw. finds expressed in Song of Solomon 1:2 “the fervent yearnings of the Church for the advent of Christ.” “The mother of the Bride (i.e., of the Church of Christ) is the Jewish nation, and her mother’s children are Jews or Judaizers. It was the delinquency, ingratitude and cruelty of the “mother’s children” which made the Christian Church become the “keeper of the vineyards.”

According to Thrupp, “the Church of Israel, in Song of Solomon 1:2, desires the very presence of her Saviour. She had been instructed and wooed through the messages of the prophets; she desired now that her promised Messiah should pour into her mouth words from His own mouth.” The daughters of Jerusalem are “the members of the Church of Israel in their contemplative capacity; not necessarily different persons in their outer being from the virgins of Song of Solomon 1:3 (the upright), but yet representing them in a different point of view, with reference solely to their intelligent and emotional survey of what is passing, and without regard to their own spiritual state.” The mother of the Bride is the nation of Israel. The mother’s sons are “the several members of the nation, viewed only in their civil dealings, in their relation to the State, not in their relation to the Church.” Their anger was the rebellion of the ten tribes. Her own vineyard was the religious culture of all Israel. Hindered in this by the political condition of the nation, she was driven to the establishment of colleges of holy disciples, the sons of the prophets at different centres, whose spheres of action are denoted by the vineyards, of which the anger of her brethren made her the keeper. Weiss refers this section to the time when Israel lay encamped at the foot of Sinai. The blackness of the bride ( Song of Solomon 1:5) was the sin of the golden calf, the sun that occasioned it was the bondage in Egypt. The petition ( Song of Solomon 1:7) concerns the leading through the wilderness, and the house ( Song of Solomon 1:17) is the tabernacle of Moses. Moody Stuart supposes the longing for Christ’s appearance, and His actual birth among men, to be the subject of this section; his interpretation of which is specialized even to the extent of making the “green bed” of Song of Solomon 1:16 refer to the fresh grass upon which the newly-born Saviour was laid in the manger for the cattle.

FN#13 - The contrast in character, which Zöckler finds already indicated in this section between Shulamith and the daughters of Jerusalem, though essential to his scheme of the book, is purely imaginary. It certainly is not established by Song of Solomon 2:2, the only passage that can, with the slightest plausibility, be urged in its favor; whilst Song of Solomon 1:3-4 speak decisively against it.

Whether the cyclic or the dramatic view of this book is to be preferred, may be left an open question at this stage of the exposition. If our author succeeds in showing a continuous progress in the action from first to last, the latter view is of course entitled to the preference. But if he fails in this, as in the translator’s judgment he does, and as all have done who have made the same attempt before him, we seem to be shut up to the former; unless indeed even the cyclic view, at least as refined by some of its later advocates, is too artificial for the artless simplicity of this beautiful poem, in which the same theme recurs under varied aspects, but the law of succession is rather that of poetical association than logical exactness.

And the general character of this section creates an antecedent presumption favorable to this view. The intimacy here described is of the strictest and most loving nature, and seems to leave no room for any further advance. Instead of preparing the way for a married union, it rather implies that the marriage has already taken place. The “bed” Song of Solomon 1:16 is in all probability not the nuptial couch. But Shulamith’s presence in the king’s apartments, the kisses and embraces, her open expression of her passionate fondness for the king would be unbecoming and inadmissible, especially amid the restraints of oriental society, prior to marriage.—Tr.]


Verses 8-11

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![FN14] my beloved; lo! here he comes,

leaping[FN15] over the mountains,

bounding over the hills.

9 My beloved is like a gazelle

or a young hart.[FN16]

Lo! here he stands behind our wall,[FN17]

looking through[FN18] the windows,

glancing through the lattices.[FN19]

10 Answered my beloved and said to me:

“Up,[FN20] my dear, my fair one and go forth!

11For, lo! the winter is past,

the rain is over, is gone.

12The flowers appear in the land,

the time for song[FN21] has arrived,

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

13The fig-tree spices[FN22] its green figs

and the vines are in bloom,[FN23] they yield fragrance,

[FN24] up! my dear, my fair one and go forth!

14My dove, in the clefts[FN25] of the rock,

in the recess of the cliffs,[FN26]

let me see thy form,[FN27] let me hear thy voice,

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

15 Catch[FN28] 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 Against[FN29] the day cools, and the shadows flee

turn thee, my beloved, and be like

a gazelle or a young hart

on the cleft[FN30] mountains.

(She sleeps and after some time awakes again:)

III:1 [FN31]On my bed[FN32] in the nights[FN33]

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;[FN34]

I will seek him whom my soul loves.”—

I sought him but I found him not.

3Found[FN35] me the watchmen, who go about in the city;

[FN36]Whom my soul loves, have ye seen?”[FN37]

4Scarcely[FN38] 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 brought[FN39] him into my mother’s house,

and into the chamber of her that conceived[FN40] me.—

5 I[FN41] 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 Isaiah, however, far more difficult to determine the scene or the situation, and the external-surroundings of the speaker during this Acts, 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. For1) 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 there2) 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 Acts, 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. 1 Maccabees 9:37; 1 Maccabees 9:39; Matthew 25:1, etc.). 4) That Shulamith came from northern Palestine to Jerusalem for her marriage with Song of 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 Isaiah, 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, p99 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.[FN42] Comp. on Song of Solomon 7:13.

3. Ch.2, Son 2:8-9.

[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 No1, 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.[FN43]Leapingbounding (מְקַפֵּץ—מְדַלֵּג). 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 Psalm 18:34; Habakkuk 3:19; Proverbs 5:19, where the other qualities of these animals are also taken into the account.—Lo here he Isaiah, 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.[FN44] “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 אֶשְׁנָב, Judges 5:28; Proverbs 7:6, as well as with אֲרֻבָּה, Hosea 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; Psalm 132:18 and especially Psalm 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.[FN45]

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 No1. 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).[FN47]

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, p261.—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; Psalm 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. p113). 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 Sirach 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.[FN48]In 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.)[FN49] The present description would rather appear to indicate (comp. above No2) 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 of Solomon, 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.[FN50] It Isaiah, 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.[FN51] It was important, therefore, in the spring when the vines were blossoming, to protect the vineyards from these uninvited guests; and the more Song of Solomon, 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 Song of Solomon, Song of Solomon 2:10 b–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.[FN52]Who 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.”[FN53] 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).[FN54]Turn 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:

FN#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.]

FN#15 - “Whilst the verb דלג suggests his long leaps, as he springs, comp. Isaiah 35:6; Psalm 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.

FN#16 - Ains.: a fawn of the hinds]

FN#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.

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

FN#19 - Cov.: peepeth through the grate. Ains.: flourishing through the lattices.]

FN#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.]

FN#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.]

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

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

FN#24 - Wic.: The voice of Christ to the church.]

FN#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.)

FN#26 - מַדְרגֵוֹת (from דרג kindred to. דרך) comp. Ezekiel 38:29, the only other passage in which the word occurs.

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

FN#28 - Wic.: The voice of Christ to the church against heretics. Mat.: The voice against the heretics.]

FN#29 - Adopted from Thrupp.]

FN#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.]

FN#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.]

FN#32 - Wic.: little bed.]

FN#33 - So Ains, Wic, by nights. Matthew, E. Ver, by night.]

FN#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.]

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

FN#36 - Wic. The church saith of Christ to the apostles. Mat.: The church speaking of Christ.]

FN#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.

FN#38 - On כִּמְעַט (מִעַט with כְ veritatis) “as much as a little.” Comp. Isaiah 1:9.

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

FN#40 - הוֹרָתִי synonym of אֵם as Hosea 2:5.

FN#41 - Wic.: The voice of Christ to the church. Mat.: The voice of Christ.]

FN#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 of Solomon, 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.]

FN#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.]

FN#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.”]

FN#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.]

FN#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.]

FN#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.]

FN#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. xxi493.

“As when the falcon wings her way above,

To the cleft cavern speeds the affrighted dove,

Straight to her shelter thus the goddess flew.”]

FN#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.”]

FN#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 of Solomon, 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.]

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

FN#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.”]

FN#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.]

FN#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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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 2:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/song-of-solomon-2.html. 1857-84.

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