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Bible Commentaries

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical
Song of Solomon 8

 

 

Verses 1-4

See Song of Solomon 5:1 ff for the passage quote with footnotes.

Song of Solomon 8:1. O that thou wert as a brother of mine,כְּאָח cannot possibly be taken as a simple vocative (Septuag, Luth.). It rather refers to a relation like that of a brother (“as a brother of mine,” comp. Psalm 35:14) and consequently expresses the wish and that a wish seriously meant and speedily to be realized (vs. Weissb.), that Solomon would come so near to her in every respect, both inwardly and outwardly, that she could regard and treat him just as her own brother, as a member of her family, belonging to her own domestic household. The wish here expressed would have no meaning in respect to a lover of the rank of a shepherd. It most manifestly implies as its object a lover, whose whole station in life was above that of his beloved, in whose case there must be a coming down from his elevation, if an actual living communion is to subsist between him and her. For the fact of his having made his beloved a “queen” and a “prince’s daughter” is evidently without effect on the child-like and humble mind of this simple child of nature. She has not been able to prevail upon herself in addressing this proud lord of a harem, surrounded by his sixty queens and his eighty concubines, as well as by his female slaves, to call him her own with the same cordial confidence that a sister cherishes towards her brother. She has learned to call him דּוֹד “beloved” but not אָח “brother,” often as he may since their marriage have addressed her as אֲחוֹתִי כַלָּה “my sister, bride.” If this relation which she sustained to him be correctly estimated, Hengstenberg’s paraphrase of the exclamation before us “O that thou who art my brother, wouldst enter into a really brotherly relation to me” will appear to be by no means so absurd, as Weissb. would represent it.[FN1]Were I to find thee without, I would kiss thee. “Without,” i.e. on the street or in the open country and in general wherever I must now observe a stiff courtly etiquette toward thee as king. A new protest therefore against the manners of the harem, which had become intolerable to her.—Yet none would despise me.לֹא־יָבֻזוּ לִי they, viz. the people, would not despise and reproach me as though I were a vulgar wench who kissed strange men in the public street; comp Proverbs 7:12-13.

Song of Solomon 8:2. I would lead thee, bring thee to my mother’s house. What she had only dreamed before Song of Solomon 3:4, she can now utter to her lover as the burning wish of her heart, certain of its speedy accomplishment. אֶנְהָ‍ֽגְךָ “I would lead thee,” that is to say by the hand; whither is told by the following verb, which limits the one before it in the same way as אֶשָּׁקְךָ does אֶמְצָאֲךָ in Song of Solomon 8:1, b.Thou wouldst instruct me. Again an indication that the lover is not a young shepherd but the wise and learned king Song of Solomon, in comparison with whom Shulamith had long learned to feel her ignorance and at the same time her need of instruction from the rich stores of his mind. Feeling the incongruity of instruction by a lover, who was a mere shepherd, Hitz. has taken up again the conjecture of Ibn Ezra, that שֶׁ· is to be supplied before תְּלַמְּדֵנִי and the verb thus converted into a relative clause is to be referred as a 3 d pers. fem. to the preceding אִמִּי: “my mother who would teach me,” viz. how to do every thing for you in the best manner. But this is quite arbitrary; for all the verbs before and after are in the 2 d pers. [?]; a verb thus extraordinarily interrupting this series must necessarily have been indicated not merely by שֶׁ· or אֲשֶׁר but by an emphatic הִיא “she”; and to this הִיא would then have to be opposed an אֲנִי אַשְׁקֶךָetc. comp. (Böttcher Neue Aehrenl. III:172). Most of the ancient versions confirm ours, which is the common view; and that the Sept. and Syr. in place of תְּלַמְּדֵנִי have mechanically repeated the last line of Song of Solomon 3:4, can prove nothing against its correctness. I would give thee to drink of the spiced wine. That אַשְׁקְךָ “I would cause thee to drink” contains an intentional allusion to אֶשָּׁ‍ֽקְךָ “I would kiss thee,” Song of Solomon 8:1, which is identical in its consonants, is an idle remark of Hitzig and Weissbach, which has little in its favor. Meier has needlessly taken this clause to be a statement of what her lover was to teach the speaker, “thou wouldst teach me how to make thee drink,” etc.; so too Ewald and Heiligst, according to whom the meaning is: “from thy mouth I would learn, what is pleasant and agreeable to thee, viz., to cause thee to drink,” etc. But all is simpler and in better taste if we assume no close relation between תְּלַמְּדֵנִי “thou wouldst instruct me” and this clause, and find nothing intimated here beyond the reciprocity subsisting between the spiritual gifts which the teacher confers, and the bodily refreshment which his pupil affords him in turn (comp. Luke 10:38 ff, 1 Corinthians 9:11; Galatians 6:6).—By the spiced wine, of which she means to give him to drink, Shulamith probably means grape wine mixed with fragrant and pungent essences (according to a well-known oriental custom, comp. Döpke and Vaih, in loc). The definite article designates this wine as the well known drink of superior excellence, as the spiced wine par excellence; comp. יִיִן הַטּוֹב Song of Solomon 7:10. Of my pomegranate juice. Notwithstanding the absence of the copula something different from the preceding is here intended and not the spiced wine itself, as though this were merely made from the juice of fruit (Hitzig). For such a difference is indicated by the use of עָסִים “must, unfermented juice,” instead of the preceding יַיִן “wine,” as well as by the mention above of the vine along with the pomegranate ( Song of Solomon 7:13, comp. Song of Solomon 6:11). The suffix in רִמּוֹנִי (for which the Vulg. and Syr. read רִמוֹנַי “my pomegranates”) is gen. of possession to עָסִים (comp. הַר קָדְשִׁי) hence equivalent to “pomegranate wine prepared by me.” It makes against the view of Weissbach and others: “of the wine of my pomegranate tree,” that according to Song of Solomon 6:11; Song of Solomon 7:13, Shulamith had more than one such tree.—The ancients called the fermented juice of pomegranates “wine,” as appears from Plin. H. N. 14, Song of Solomon 16: “Vinum fit—e punicis, quod rhoiden (ῥοιά, pomegranate) vocant”; comp. Winer R- W- B. Art. “Wein.”

Song of Solomon 8:3. His left hand (is) under my head and his right embraces me. This verse is not a mere phrase to mark the termination of a section, and unconnected with what precedes (Hitzig). It rather stands in the same sort of connection with the detailed description given Song of Solomon 7:13 ff. of what the two lovers would do and enjoy together in Shulamith’s home, that Song of Solomon 2:6 does with the preceding representation of their mutual enjoyment of nature and of love, Song of Solomon 1:16 ff.; Song of Solomon 2:3 ff. Only there Shulamith was depicting the present, whilst here she vividly portrays joys belonging to the future; though not in an optative form, as Ewald, Vaih, etc., assume without sufficient reason.

Song of Solomon 8:4. I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,etc.—On the significance of this exclamation here as Shulamith’s farewell to the daughters of Jerusalem (which Hitzig too has seen with substantial correctness), see on Song of Solomon 2:7 above. Only it is not necessary with Vaih. to impute the brevity of its form to the excited and reproachful tone in which Shulamith, who had been affronted by the ladies of the court, here speaks.

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The churchly allegorical exegesis is necessarily precluded from gaining an insight into the progress of the action in the act before us. It finds every where figurative representations of soteriological mysteries with no inner organic connection; shifting figures, the aim of which lies in the repeated exhibition of the central point of Christian truth, the conversion, justification, sanctification and perfection of the sinner by the grace of the Redeemer, or the call and election of the whole church to the saving communion of God in Christ. Thus the narrative of the dream, Song of Solomon 5:2-7, together with the following dialogue, as far as Song of Solomon 6:3, that is to say, the first scene according to our division seems to it to be a dramatic representation, which is already complete, of the apostasy and restoration of the Church, or of the fall and redemption of mankind. This one section constitutes, as it were, the Canticles in brief, a poetic picture of the entire history of redemption from first to last. This representation opens, according to Hengstenb. (p135), with a “dark scene,” or night piece. The apostasy of unbelieving mankind from their God, and especially the rejection of the Saviour by the daughter of Zion, together with the punishment of induration and blindness which overtook her in consequence, are so distinctly set forth by the dream-like figures of Shulamith’s sleep, her lover’s vain desire to be admitted, his subsequent disappearance, and the fruitless search for him, and finally by the blows which the watchmen (the “heavenly ministers of vengeance”) administered to her during her search, that the whole forms, so to speak, a fit accompaniment to Isaiah 53and likewise an illustration of Romans 11:7, “the election hath obtained it and the rest were blinded,” or of Romans 11:25-26. And then again the representation is directed to the goal of the ultimate conversion of Israel and the consequent consummation of the entire redemptive process. For forsaken and repelled by her lover, she nevertheless continues always sick with love and longing for him ( Song of Solomon 5:8); in answer to the question proposed to test her, what she thinks of her lover ( Song of Solomon 5:9), she exhibits a heart full of love and submission to the heavenly Song of Solomon, as the ideal of all excellence ( Song of Solomon 5:10-16); finally she answers the second question also, which is addressed to her to pave the way for her reunion with her heavenly bridegroom, in a concrete manner ( Song of Solomon 6:1-3), since in her answer to, Where has thy beloved gone? she ungrudgingly recognizes that he has his being in the Church, and in consequence of this recognition the former relation may be regarded as restored.—So Hengstenberg, whose view may be regarded as the idealizing recapitulation of all former churchly-allegorical interpretations of this section.—The following portions also depict according to him the one main object of the song again and again—the restoration of the loving relation between the Lord and His Church, which originally existed, was then disturbed and broken off, and has finally been cemented again. Song of Solomon 6:4-10 does this in the form of praises of the beauty of the bride, and a comparison of her with all other women, who constitute the household of the heavenly Solomon. Song of Solomon 6:11 to Song of Solomon 7:1 in the form of a narrative by the daughter of Zion of the way in which she attained to the high dignity of a bride of heaven’s king, together with a blessing bestowed upon her by the daughters of Jerusalem, who express their heartfelt joy at her return from her wanderings, and at the distinguished graces which have in consequence been imparted to her; Song of Solomon 7:2-11, in the form of a new panegyric pronounced by the king upon the daughter of Zion, who has returned to him from her straying, and consequently to her former beauty,—to which is further added the expression of his determination to enjoy her charms, and her cordial assent to this determination ( Song of Solomon 7:8-11); and finally, Song of Solomon 7:12 to Song of Solomon 8:4, in the form of a prayer from the daughter of Zion to her heavenly lover, to restore to her his ancient love, and, far from the tumult of this sinful world, in rural retirement and seclusion, to live with her as her brother.—The explanations of the older allegorists are still richer in repetitions and in corresponding measure poorer in true inward progress. One of their number, e.g., Starke (who closely follows Marck, Ainsworth Michael, etc.) paraphrases Song of Solomon 6:2-3, so as to make the bride set forth “the delightful feelings resulting from the special presence of the bridegroom of her soul, which she has just experienced in her heart,” describing thus Christ’s control in the spice garden of His Church, i.e., in the hearts of the true children of God, wherein the whole work of salvation by the Lord in the word and sacraments, and His operations on individual souls, planting, fostering, preserving and perfecting, is briefly exhibited. Song of Solomon 7:1 he then paraphrases thus: “Return, return to me and to thyself from the confusion, in which thou wert, before I revealed myself again to thee ( Song of Solomon 5:6; Psalm 116:7), O Shulamith, who hast obtained peace with God, righteousness and strength in communion with me; return again, banish all gloomy and timorous thoughts. I shall ever remain thy Jesus, thy Saviour and Benefactor. Fix only a confiding heart again on me, thy soul’s friend, that we, viz. I, thy Redeemer, with my Father who loves thee in me, and the Holy Spirit may look upon thee, i, e., may have our delight and joy in thee as a perfect mirror of spiritual beauty.” And in Song of Solomon 8:1 the same interpreter remarks upon the words, “Should I find thee without, I would kiss thee,” etc.: If I find thee without, i.e., meet thee outside of my mother’s house, while I live in the foreign land and the pilgrimage of this world ( 2 Corinthians 5:6-9), I will kiss thee with the kiss of faith, love and obedience, yea, give thee all conceivable tokens of my sincere and ardent love ( Psalm 2:12; Hosea 13:2; Job 31:27). And no one should put me to shame, least of all they, to whom I appear so despicable, and who scoff at me when I boast of my communion with thee and declare thy praise ( Song of Solomon 5:7; Genesis 38:23, etc, etc.).” In short, every possible thing is here found in every thing, and the simple meaning of the words is almost every where sacrificed to the superabundant fancy of a dogmatical and mystical interpretation.

2. The proper antithesis to such excesses can surely not lie in banishing with the profane-erotic exegesis every thing sacred from the course of the action here presented, and converting it, as is done particularly by Hitzig and Renan, into a succession of voluptuous scenes in the harem, without order or progress. This view becomes really repulsive, especially where it maintains that the poet brings Solomon’s love for other favorites than Shulamith before his readers or spectators by a detailed description of his amorous intercourse with them; that he describes with particularity by word and act how the king turns wearied away from the coy Shulamith, to “indemnify” himself with the other beauties of his harem. Hitzig’s exegesis on the passage Song of Solomon 7:2-11 based on this understanding of it, even Böttcher indignantly pronounces one that “culminates in the disgustingly vulgar,”—a judgment that might with equal reason be passed upon Renan’s treatment of the same section. But even in its more moderate form, as advanced by Herder, Umbr, Ew, Vaih, etc., the shepherd hypothesis invariably involves much that is of doubtful morality, by which the religious and ethical character of the section before us is sensibly damaged in several points. Solomon’s character especially suffers more than is just, inasmuch as there is heaped upon him besides the reproach of polygamy with its excesses, that of an assiduous attempt at seduction and a corrupting assault upon female innocence, an actually adulterous procedure therefore,—which especially in the Song of Solomon -called “final assault,” Song of Solomon 7:2-10, comes into unseemly contrast with the alleged fidelity of the maiden to a distant lover. Shulamith’s character, too, appears on this view less fair and great than in ours; the extravagance, not to say the braggart character of the description given of her lover, Song of Solomon 5:10-16, if this refers to a plain young shepherd, is particularly offensive; so is the excited pathos of the appeal which, according to this view, is directed to a far distant lover to go with her into the country, Song of Solomon 7:12 ff. Some of the finest and loveliest traits in the picture of this noble woman are wholly lost, especially the symbolic significance of her dream, Song of Solomon 5:2-7; the lovely gentleness with which she seeks by her evasive answer in Song of Solomon 6:2-3, to excuse her absent husband; the adroitness with which she interrupts him ( Song of Solomon 7:10) in order wholly to disarm and captivate him; the genuine womanly naiveté with which, in her picture of the innocent joys of their life together in the country, she inserts, Song of Solomon 8:2, a hint of the instruction which she hopes to receive from her lover, etc.

3. The typical Messianic view avoids these faults in a manner which really satisfies both the æsthetic and the religious feeling. It throughout gives due prominence alike to light and shade, and while it sets forth in all its rigor the conflict of the lovely, chaste and pure child of nature with the corrupt manners of the court and her royal lover who shared them, it nevertheless paves the way likewise for a truly blessed reconciliation and removal of this conflict by showing how Shulamith’s urgency to return to her country home, lays the foundation for a change of mind in her husband, and for satisfying her boldest and highest wishes. The true power of love in the humble maiden thus shines in its most glorious light, and the lover who at first resisted is drawn along by it; his resistance to the sanctity of the marriage connection is overcome by the purity of her feelings.—When put in a parallel with the relation of Christ to His Church, this episode from the story of the love of Solomon and Shulamith certainly exhibits more disparity than resemblance. But it forms also just that section of the story, in which the dissimilarity of the two relations must naturally come most strongly out, in some parts of it almost to the obliteration of every trace of similitude. And yet there remain even here significant analogies enough to establish the essentially Messianic character of the whole. Above all the glowing description of the beauty of the lover, Song of Solomon 5:10-16, which is only applicable to Song of Solomon, not to any of his subjects, points to the King of all kings as the heavenly prototype of that king, as the possessor of an eternal glory which far outshines the splendor of the earthly Solomon. Mankind seeking after God, and craving His salvation, the antitype in the history of redemption of the earthly Shulamith, by its earnest and continued longing, waiting, entreating and imploring, succeeds in moving this heavenly Solomon to give up his glory and enter into its low estate, as she moves her lord and king to the resolve to live with her in her mother’s house, and to partake with her of all the simple country enjoyments and pleasures which this house, with its surroundings, could offer him and her. In this parallel there certainly lies a prophecy of the fulfilling of that which is written, John 14:23, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him and make our abode with him;” likewise of 2 Corinthians 6:16 ( Leviticus 26:11; Hebrews 8:10), “I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people;” as well as of Revelation 21:3, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and He himself, God with them, shall be their God.” That significant phrase too, “thou wouldst instruct me,” Song of Solomon 8:2, points to the higher stage of divine revelation to which mankind has been exalted under the New Testament, in the same manner as Isaiah 54:13 ( John 6:45): “And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord;” or as Jeremiah 31:33 ( Hebrews 8:10 ff.): “I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts;—and they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord,” (comp. Joel 3:1 f.; Acts 2:16 f.; 1 John 2:27, etc.).—But certainly,—and herein lies the exaltation of the New Testament Solomon above the Old, and the superiority of the New Testament covenant of grace, as compared with the marriage covenant between Solomon and Shulamith—no express entreaty with flattering words and persistent supplication was needed to bring down the Lord of the New Covenant to His own. Even if here and there in His parables He assumes the air of the reluctant friend or the unmerciful Judges, and thus seems to impose upon His own people the duty of importunate begging and crying ( Luke 11:5-8; Luke 18:1-7), this is purposely done that the contrast between human hard-heartedness and His own infinitely merciful and prevenient love, may induce to a heartier confidence in the latter. His becoming poor in order to make us rich, His emptying and humbling Himself to the form of a servant was prevenient throughout, with no merit or worthiness on the part of man; yea, so that He “was found of them that sought Him not, and was made manifest unto them that asked not after Him” ( Romans 10:20; Isaiah 65:1). Of His coming to His own it may in truth be said:

“You do not need to labor,

Nor struggle day and night,

To bring Him down from heaven,

By efforts of your might.

He comes of His own motion,

Is full of love and grace,

Your every grief and sorrow

He’ll utterly efface.”

And besides it is a real and substantial glory, which He gives up and forsakes from love to the poor children of men, not a mere seeming glory, full of sin and vanity, like that of the earthly Solomon. His love to the poor damsel of earth is so utterly unselfish that He gives everything and receives nothing, whilst she can give nothing but only receive (comp. St. Francis of Assisi’s fable of the rich king Christ, and the fair damsel “Poverty”). Nay, she does not even possess as her own those “excellent fruits, new and old,” with which she was to regale her gracious and heavenly guest upon his entrance into her mother’s house. But it is her lover, and He alone, who makes the seed of His divine word bring forth in her good and worthy fruit, which endureth unto everlasting life. It is He alone who makes her rich in all the fruits of the Spirit and of righteousness ( Philippians 1:11; Galatians 5:22, etc.). He alone distributes the precious wine of joy at the table of His grace, by which He solemnly seals and confirms with His earthly bride, the covenant of His love, established by His bloody sacrificial death (comp. John 2:1-11). And while Shulamith’s entreaty of her royal lord and husband “O that thou wert like my brother, who sucked the breasts of my mother” ( Song of Solomon 8:1) can only be made in the most restricted sense,—while she, upon a calm and sober view of the case at least, can expect no more than a transient coming down of her lover into her poverty and retirement, the heavenly bridegroom of the Church, on the contrary, comes not only once and in the fullest truth, but for ever as our brother on the earth. He “is not ashamed to call all them, whom He redeems, His brethren” ( Hebrews 2:11; comp. John 20:17). He is made partaker of their earthly flesh and blood in order to raise them from being slaves of sin and death to be children of God and heirs of His eternal, heavenly blessedness ( Hebrews 2:14-15; John 8:32-36).—Thus set in the light of His deeds of redeeming love, this section of the Canticles becomes a song of praise to the grace of the Lord, which worketh all in all, a hymn of glory to that inscrutable mystery of the Divine mercy, of which Paul exclaims, Romans 11:34 f.: “For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and to Him, are all things; to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”


Verses 5-14

FIFTH SONG

The return home and the triumph of the chaste love of the wife over the unchaste feelings of her royal husband

Song of Solomon 8:5-14

FIRST SCENE:

The Arrival Home

( Song of Solomon 8:5-7)

Country people (in the fields at Shunem)

5 Who[FN2] is this coming up out of the wilderness,

leaning upon her beloved?

Solomon (entering arm in arm with Shulamith).

Under[FN3] this[FN4] apple tree I waked thee;[FN5]

there[FN6] thy[FN7] mother travailed[FN8] with thee,

there travailed she that bare thee.

Shulamith (familiarly pressing up close to her lover)

6 Place[FN9] me as a signet-ring upon thy heart,

as a signet-ring upon thine arm.

For strong as death is love,

hard as Sheol[FN10] is jealousy

Its flames[FN11] are flames of fire,

a blaze of Jehovah.[FN12]

7 Many waters cannot

quench love,

and rivers shall not wash[FN13] it away.

If a man were to give

all the wealth of his house for love,

he would be utterly contemned.

SECOND SCENE:

Shulamith with her lover (in the circle of her friends.)

( Song of Solomon 8:8-14)

Shulamith

8 A[FN14] sister we have, little

and she has no breasts;

what shall we do for[FN15] our sister

in the day that she shall be spoken for?[FN16]

Shulamith’s Brothers

9 If[FN17] she be a wall,

we will build upon her a silver castle;

but if she be a door,

we will stop her up with a cedar board.

Shulamith

10 I[FN18] was a wall

and my breasts like towers.

Then was I in his eyes

as one that finds peace.—

11Solomon[FN19] has[FN20] a vineyard in Baal-hamon.

He committed the vineyard to the keepers,

each was to bring for its fruit

a thousand of silver.

12My[FN21] vineyard, my own,[FN22] is before me;

the thousand is thine, Song of Solomon,

and two hundred for the keepers of its fruit.

Solomon

13Thou that dwellest in the gardens,

companions are listening for thy voice;

let me hear it.

Shulamith (singing)

14Flee,[FN23] my beloved,

and be like a gazelle,

or a young hart

upon mountains of spices.[FN24]

EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL

1. Some of the more recent interpreters dismember this last Acts, by attaching part of it to the preceding section, and regarding the remainder as an appendix or epilogue to the whole. Thus Umbreit extends the last act of the piece to Song of Solomon 8:7, which is then followed by Song of Solomon 8:8-12 as a first appendix, “The shrewd old brothers and the naively jesting sister;” and Song of Solomon 8:13-14 as a second appendix, “The unlucky trip to the country.” In like manner Renan, who regards the fifth act as ending with Song of Solomon 8:7, and the remaining seven verses as forming an epilogue. On the contrary v. Hofmann connects Song of Solomon 8:5-12 with his last main division of the whole ( Song of Solomon 6:1 to Song of Solomon 8:12), and considers the last two verses only, Song of Solomon 8:13-14, as an appendix.—Döpke and Magnus push the process of dismemberment to the greatest length, the former of whom divides this section into three separate songs (5–7; 8–12; 13, 14). The latter makes it consist of four small pieces, a lyric poem: “The parting” (5–7), two dramatic epigrams (8–10,11, 12), and a fragment with several glosses (13, 14).—A correct apprehension of the unity of this section as one whole, separated from the preceding by the solemn introductory formula מי זאת וגו “Who is this,” etc., is found in Ewald, Hitz, Del, Hengstenb, Vaih, Böttcher, Weissb. Only some of these, especially the last named, go too far in their assertion of the compactness and continuity of the passage, since they fail to recognize the difference between the two scenes, which it unmistakably contains. For in Song of Solomon 8:5-7 there is evidently represented a return home, and in Song of Solomon 8:8 ff. a transaction after arriving home. The former of these paragraphs exhibit the principal couple of the piece as still travelling, although quite near the end of their journey. The latter depicts their acts and doings at home in the circle of Shulamith’s family, where merry jests and peaceful enjoyment reign. The two scenes of such different character are therefore related exactly as in the third act; only there the excited tumult of the capital and the noisy bustle of the royal palace on Zion resounding with luxurious festivities, formed the background of the action, whilst here an innocent rural seclusion and simplicity, a cheerful, quiet life under apple trees, in gardens, and on mountains fragrant with spices, is depicted as a bright and peaceful termination of the whole matter.

2. With respect to the time and place of the action, no well grounded doubt can exist, on the supposition that the contents and meaning of the preceding act have been correctly understood. Solomon must have yielded to the urgent entreaties of his beloved, and immediately arranged a journey to her home and started with her, so that at the utmost there can only be an interval of three or four days between this and the foregoing act. Various indications suggest Shunem, the home of Shulamith, as the goal toward which the loving pair are journeying, and consequently as the locality of this act; especially the introductory passage, Song of Solomon 8:5, rightly understood and interpreted, and also the mention of Shulamith’s little sister, Song of Solomon 8:8 f, her “abiding in the gardens,” Song of Solomon 8:13, as well as the “mountains of spices” or “mountains of balm,” Song of Solomon 8:14, which remind us of Song of Solomon 2:17.—Partly on account of the introductory words, which are identical with Song of Solomon 3:6, “Who is this coming up out of the wilderness?” partly on account of the masc. suffixes in חבלתך אמך,עוררתיךetc. (according to the Masoretic punctuation), which appear to show that the passage refers not to Shulamith’s but to Solomon’s birth-place, Weissbach (as also Döpke, etc., before him) explains and assumes the royal palace on Zion to be the place of this action; Song of Solomon 8:5 ff. describe the arrival of the lovers there from the royal gardens (or more exactly from the “path or pasture ground of the royal flocks, which is to be sought between Zion and the king’s gardens”); the rest of the action is then performed on Zion itself. But the correctness of the Masoretic reading in that passage is more than doubtful (see just below, No3); and it is only by the greatest forcing that all that follows, especially Song of Solomon 8:8 f, 11ff. and Song of Solomon 8:13, can be brought into harmony with this transfer of the scene to Jerusalem, as is sufficiently shown by the strange combinations of Weissbach with respect to the circumstances, under which Bathsheba had borne Solomon “under an apple tree” and the way that Shulamith had “waked” the king on this his native spot, comp. on Song of Solomon 8:5 b.—The majority of recent interpreters are agreed with us in assuming Shunem to be the place of the action, only the advocates of the shepherd hypothesis, as might be expected, make not Song of Solomon, but the shepherd and Shulamith arrive there and transact what follows;—a view, which is already sufficiently refuted by Song of Solomon 8:12 where Solomon is evidently addressed as present (see in loc. as well as on Song of Solomon 8:13), and which has as little foundation as Vaihinger’s assertion that Song of Solomon 8:5-7 is performed at the house of Shulamith’s mother, and Song of Solomon 8:8 ff. “on the eastern slope of little Mt. Hermon,” where her brothers may have had their pasture ground.—When Delitzsch, whose view of the position and import of this act is in every other respect correct and appropriate, finds represented merely “a visit of Shulamith with her husband to her home,” we must remark on the contrary that the entreaties and desires of Shulamith at the close of the preceding act certainly looked to more than a mere transient stay at her home, and that this was demanded by the whole state of the case.[FN25] It was only in an actual settlement both of herself and of her husband in her home that she could find the needed guarantee of an undisturbed continuance of her relation to him of cordial and conjugal love.

3. First Scene. The arrival, vers5–7.

Song of Solomon 8:5. Who is this coming up out of the wilderness? So asked Song of Solomon 3:6 the “daughters of Jerusalem,” the chorus of ladies of the court, who took part in the action until towards the end of the preceding act. This chorus could only have come to Shulamith’s home in company with the royal pair; and then the question before us would, be insupposable in their mouth[FN26] (vs. Renan, etc.). Ewald, Böttcher, Hitzig, Delitzsch, etc. therefore correctly assume the speakers to be “shepherds,” or country people, or “inhabitants of the district,” whilst Umbreit and Meier arbitrarily suppose the question to be put by the poet himself; Weissb. by courtiers on Zion, Rosenm. by citizens of Jerusalem.—מִדְבָּר lit. “place to which cattle are driven, pasture ground” (in opposition to cultivated land, comp. Isaiah 32:15; Joel 1:19; Psalm 65:13) is here used in a different sense from Song of Solomon 3:6 where it referred to the barren tracts north and east of Jerusalem. It is here a designation of the plain of Esdraëlon or Merj ibn ’Amir, lying southward from Shunem to Jezreel, which is still for the most part untilled and traversed by Bedouins (Robinson, Pal. II:324, 362). For through this plain the travellers coming from the capital must ultimately pass.—Leaning upon her beloved. The long journey, though she may have got over part of it in her sedan, has wearied the delicate lady who therefore supports herself upon the arm of her husband. Failing to recognize this situation so clear in itself and so easily conceivable, the old translators have variously altered the sense of the passage. In this way we may explain the glosses to be found in the text of the Sept. and Vulg,λελευκανθισμένη (=מִתְבָּרֶרֶת) and deliciis affluens (=מִתְפִַּנֱקת), which are in both cases followed again by the correct translation of מִתְִרַפֶּקֶת עַל־דּוֹדָהּ.—Under this apple tree I waked thee. The pointing עוֹרַרְתִּיךָ, like that of the following verb implies that Solomon is the person addressed and that Shulamith is the speaker, but the consonants admit also of the reverse, and the old Syriac version seems actually to have read fem suffixes. Most of the older as well as of the more recent interpreters, following the Masoretic text conceive Shulamith to be the speaker, whilst Hitzig, Böttcher (who to be sure assigns a part of the verse to Shulamith’s mother), Delitzsch, Rebenst, Sanders, etc. make her lover speak. In favor of the latter assumption it may be urged1) that if Solomon were the person addressed, the absurd sense would result of his birth under an apple tree—a sense which is certainly not made any more tolerable by Weissbach’s supposition of a “temporary sojourn of Bathsheba in the royal gardens with a view to her confinement;” 2) that in case the young shepherd were addressed the entire absence of any mention of his mother in what precedes, would be somewhat surprising and is not relieved by the parallels adduced by Ewald Genesis 35:48, Donati, vit. virg. c. 1, etc.; 3) that Song of Solomon 8:6-7 confessedly spoken by Shulamith would require to be more closely connected with Song of Solomon 8:5 b than they actually are, in case Song of Solomon 8:5 b was also spoken by her: 4) that the expression “travail” or “conceive” (חַבֵּל) seems fitter in the mouth of a man than of a woman, in like manner as עוררתיך when correctly explained only appears appropriate in the mouth of the lover. For this expression, which we therefore read עוֹרַרְתִּיךְ, as is shown by its likeness to תְּעֹרְריּ Song of Solomon 8:4, is not to be understood of a literal awakening out of sleep (Ewald, Heiligst, Hitzig, Vaih. etc.) but of waking a previously slumbering affection, the stirring up of love. “I waked thee” is here equivalent to “I excited thy love, I won thy heart” (Döpke, Del, Hengstenb. etc.). The circumstance, to which Solomon here alludes, is manifestly identical with that described by Shulamith Song of Solomon 2:8 ff. We must, therefore, imagine the apple tree to be immediately adjoining the house of Shulamith’s mother, and probably shading one of its windows; the following statement is thus too more easily explained.—There thy mother travailed with thee, there travailed she that bare thee. “There,” i.e. not precisely under the apple tree as though the birth had taken place in the open air (Döpke), but more indefinitely, there, where that apple tree stands, in the dwelling shaded by it.

Song of Solomon 8:6. Place me as a signet-ring upon thy heart. This is manifestly said by Shulamith in ardently loving response to what her lover had said to her, by which she had been reminded of the commencement of her relation to him. She thereupon presses familiarly and closely to him, illustrating the meaning of her words by a corresponding action. חוֹתָם the seal or signet-ring ( Genesis 38:18) is here as in Jeremiah 22:24, and Haggai 2:23 (which latter passage is probably an imitation of that before us) a symbol of close inseparable connection and most faithful preservation. Reference is had to the custom attested by Gen. loc. cit. of wearing signet-rings on a string upon the breast as well as to the like custom of binding them to the arm or right hand (see Jer. loc. cit., Sirach 49:11); not to the use of the signet-ring for sealing, as though the sense were “press me closely to thy breast and in thy arms” (Hitzig), and quite as little to the impression taken from the seal (Herder, Döpke), or to an elegantly engraved bracelet (Weissb.), or even to the high priest’s breastplate (Golz, Hahn, etc.) For strong as death is love, hard as Sheol is jealousy. The request that he would keep her firmly and faithfully as his inalienable possession is here based by Shulamith on a reference to the death-vanquishing power and might of her love, or rather of love (אַהֲבָה absolutely), of true love in general. “The adjectives עַזָּה and קָשָׁה stand together also in Genesis 49:7 to designate the passionate anger and fiery zeal of Simeon and Levi as one which was too strong and invincible to be repressed. As our poet probably (?) had this passage in mind, he doubtless designed עַזָּה to be understood here too of the all-conquering power and קָשָׁה (literally hard, resisting all impressions) of the constancy of love which baffles every attempt to suppress or to extirpate it. The comparisons also tend to the same conclusion; for death overcomes all things and the nether world (hell, sheol) cannot be subdued, comp. Job 7:9; Wisdom of Solomon 2:1; Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 15:55.” Thus Weissbach, who is substantially correct, only he goes too far perhaps, in regarding Genesis 49:7 as the model, which the poet designedly follows in this passage. On קִנְאָה zeal, zealous love, comp. Proverbs 6:34; Proverbs 27:4, where however the expression is used in a bad sense of love that has cooled, jealousy. In this passage it intensifies the idea of love, just as “death” and “hell” stand to each other in the relation of climax, and as “strong” (i.e. invincible) indicates a lower degree of the passion of love than “hard, unyielding” (i.e. inexorable, not to be appeased, like the realm of death, which never gives up anything that it possesses). Comp. Hitzigin loc.Its flames are flames of fire, a blaze of Jehovah. On רְשָׁפִים “sparks, rays, flames,” comp. Job 5:7 (בְּנֵֹי רֶשֶׁף “sons of the flame,” i.e. sparks of fire); Psalm 76:4 (“flashes” or “sparks of the bow,” i.e. arrows); Deuteronomy 32:24; Habakkuk 3:5, etc. Love or rather its intenser synonym קִנְאָה (comp. Zephaniah 1:18), appears here as a brightly blazing fire, which sends forth a multitude of sparks or flames into the hearts of men and thus verifies its invincible power and its inextinguishable intensity. And this quality belongs to it because it is not natural fire, but a “blaze of Jehovah,” flame kindled and sustained by God Himself. Observe that the name of God is mentioned only in this one passage of the Song of Solomon, which must, however, prove to be just the radiant apex in the development of its doctrinal and ethical contents (comp. Doct. and Eth. No2). As parallels to this verse may be adduced: Motanebbi (edit. v. Hammer) p. Song of Solomon 3 :

In the heart of the lover flames the blaze of desire

Fiercer than the flames of hell, which are but ice in comparison.

Also Anacreon: “νικᾳ δὲ καὶ σιδηρὸν καὶ πῦρ.” Likewise Theocritus, Id. 2, 133.

——ἔρως δ’ ἄρα καὶ Λιπαρίου

Πολλάκις ‘Αφαίστοιο σέλας φλογερώτερον αἴθει.

And many other expressions of Arabic, Greek and Roman poets. See Magnusin loc.

Song of Solomon 8:7. Many waters cannot quench love, and rivers shall not wash it away. It is here shown more particularly in what respect love is a divine flame, a fire greater than any kindled by a human hand, comp. 1 Kings 18:38. To the figure of a blazing fire was readily added that of the inability of floods of water to extinguish this fire, and therefore in explanation of this new figure we need neither refer (as Hitzig does) to Isaiah 43:16, a passage which is different in every respect, nor (with Vaihinger and others) explain the floods of water of the enticements of Solomon in particular, by which he would have turned Shulamith away from her lover. The “rivers” (נְהָרוֹת) do not form a climax to the “many waters,” as Hölemann supposes (see e.g. on the contrary Jonah 2:3); but in the latter case the thing chiefly regarded is the great mass of the element hostile to fire and in the former its rapidity and violence.—If a man were to give all the wealth of his house for love,i.e. with the view of exciting love and producing it artificially where it does not exist. Here we might really see something to favor the shepherd hypothesis, if a statement of the impossibility of purchasing true love was not appropriate in the mouth of Shulamith on our assumption likewise. But that this is the case, may be learned from the contrast between Shulamith’s genuine, invincibly strong love for Solomon and the mere semblance of love which had previously subsisted between this king and his other wives; comp. the sentence referring to this very contrast, Song of Solomon 2:7; Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:4, by which Shulamith represents to the ladies of the court how impossible it was for them by means of their amorous arts really to gain the king’s heart (see on Song of Solomon 2:7, p63). On the expression comp. Numbers 22:18; Proverbs 6:31, which latter passage was probably drawn from this. On אִישׁ “a Prayer of Manasseh, any one,” comp. Exodus 16:29. That it is here an indefinite subject seems the more certain from the fact that in the apodosis also a universal statement follows with an impersonal form of the verb (יָבוּזוּ לוֹ). Vaihinger, Hölem, etc., therefore translate without good reason “If some Prayer of Manasseh,etc.He would be utterly contemned; lit, “contemning they would contemn him.” The impersonal plural expresses, as in the similar passage Proverbs 6:30, the universal sentiment not merely that of those in particular who were solicited by false love and with money. The repetition of the verb by means of the Infin. absol. expresses the very high degree of contempt, which such an one as is here spoken of would encounter.

4. Second Scene.—a.Shulamith’s little sister, Song of Solomon 8:8-10. Weissbach is alone in attempting to point out an intimate connection between these verses and the preceding. He says: “What was uttered Song of Solomon 8:7 c, d as a universal proposition (viz. that money and property have no value as compared with love) is now Song of Solomon 8:8-9 conditionally illustrated in the sister who is still young and destitute of charms, whilst Shulamith represents herself, Song of Solomon 8:10, as the antithesis.” As this view can only be based on a very artificial interpretation of Song of Solomon 8:8-9, we shall have to abide by the looser connection maintained, e.g., by Delitzsch and Hahn. They suppose that the sense expressed by Shulamith, Song of Solomon 8:6-7, of the high happiness which she possesses and enjoys in her love for the king, reminded her of her young sister who was still debarred from such loving enjoyment, and she accordingly expresses her solicitude for her future conduct and fortunes. Upon this assumption the unmistakable dramatic progress receives due acknowledgment without the sundering of all connection between the new scene which begins here and that which preceded it, as is the case, e.g., in Umbreit’s view, according to which Song of Solomon 8:6-7 constitute the closing sentiment of the drama (spoken by the poet himself) and Song of Solomon 8:8-14 a twofold supplement to it. So in the similar views of Renan, Döpke, Magnus (comp. above No1) and no less so finally on the assumption of Döderlein, Ewald, Heiligstedt, Meier and Rocke, that Shulamith narrates in Song of Solomon 8:8-9 what had formerly been said by the brothers in relation to her little sister. In opposition to this latter opinion, according to which Song of Solomon 8:8-9 are to be regarded as recitative, and Shulamith’s own words do not begin again until Song of Solomon 8:10, Delitzsch correctly urges: “It would be vain to appeal to Song of Solomon 3:2; Song of Solomon 5:3 to prove the possibility of this view; in both those passages the introduction of the language of another without any formal indication of the fact, occurs in the course of a narrative, whilst Song of Solomon 8:8 f. is only converted into a narrative by the “fratres aliquando dixerunt” (Heiligstedt) understood. There is nothing to justify such an insertion. The only seeming necessity for it might be found in Song of Solomon 6:9, according to which Shulamith herself appears to be the “little sister.” It is not, however, said in Song of Solomon 6:9 that “Shulamith was the only daughter of her mother, but only that her mother did not possess or know her equal,” (comp. in loc.). Hitzig, too, emphatically opposes understanding the passage as a narration, but assumes that both verses, Song of Solomon 8:9, as well as Song of Solomon 8:8, were spoken by Shulamith’s brothers, which is contrary to the relation of the two verses as question and answer. Nevertheless this assumption, shared also by Vaihinger, especially if one brother is supposed to speak in Song of Solomon 8:8, and the other in Song of Solomon 8:9, would be far more tolerable than Böttcher’s view, which makes Shulamith’s mother put the question in Song of Solomon 8:8, and one of her sons answer it in Song of Solomon 8:9; or than the opinion of Hengstenberg that both Song of Solomon 8:8-9 were spoken by Solomon; or than the view of Starke, and of many of the older interpreters, that Song of Solomon 8:8 belongs to Shulamith, and Song of Solomon 8:9 to Solomon.

Song of Solomon 8:8. We have a sister, little, and she has (as yet) no breasts. On קָטָן “little” in the sense of young, belonging to the period of childhood, comp. Genesis 9:24; Genesis 27:15; 1 Kings 3:7; and in relation to the breasts as the criterion of virgin maturity, Ezekiel 16:7.—What shall we do. … in the day that she shall be spoken for? The day that a maiden is sued for, is when she becomes of a marriageable age. The suit was addressed in the first instance to the father of the damsel, or to her brothers, not directly to herself ( Genesis 34:11; Genesis 34:13; Genesis 24:50, etc.).

Song of Solomon 8:9. If she be a wall, we will build upon her a silver castle; but if she be a door, we will stop her up with a cedar board.Delitzsch correctly paraphrases these words: “If she opposes a firm and successful resistance to all immoral suggestions, we will build on her, as on a solid wall, a castle of silver, i.e., we will bestow upon her the freedom and honor due to her virgin purity and steadfastness, so that she may shine forth in the land like a stately castle on a lofty wall which is seen far and wide. But if she is a door, i.e., open and accessible to the arts of seduction, we will block her up with cedar boards, i.e., watch her so that she cannot be approached by any seducer, nor any seducer approached by her.”—As soon as we suppose the brothers to give this answer respecting their younger sister, it loses the strange or even offensive appearance which its figures would certainly have in the mouth of Shulamith. Then, too, we shall not be compelled to seek for a closer connection between this sentiment and the main action of the poem (as the advocates of the shepherd hypothesis do), but can abide by the simple assumption that what is here said, as in general, all from Song of Solomon 8:8 onward, is simply designed to form a cheerful and sportive termination of the whole matter. Least of all need we take refuge in the over-refined view of Weissbach that Song of Solomon 8:9 is a continuation of the language of Shulamith, who supposes two questions to be put to her by certain men respecting her sister when marriageable, and immediately replies to them both—so that the sentences run thus:

…. What shall we do then in respect to our sister when they ask about her:

(a) “Is she a wall?”

Ans. We will build a little silver wall around her (?);

(b) “Is she a door?”

Ans. We will construct around her (?) a cedar frame (?)—

As to the particulars observe further: The wall חוֹמָה is not designed to set forth the idea of lofty stature (קוֹמָה7:8), or the impossibility of being scaled, but simply that of the firm resistance which checks the further advance of foes (Hitzig correctly, vs. Weissbach).—The “castle of silver” טִירַת כֶּסֶף to be built on the wall Isaiah, of course, only to be conceived of as a small but strong castle, tower or bulwark (comp. טִירָה in Numbers 31:10; Ezekiel 25:4, etc.), or if any prefer as a “pinnacle” or “battlement crowning the wall” (Hitzig, Heiligstedt, Magn, Meier, Hölem.—comp. the Sept.:ἔπαλξις),—not as a “palace” (Goltz) [so Eng. Ver.] or “habitation” (Hengstenberg), or “court-yard” (Böttcher), or “low fence” (Weissbach). The meaning of the figure is admirably illustrated by Hitzig by a reference to our proverbial form of speech, “He (or she) deserves to be set in gold.” He also not inappropriately suggests an allusion to the way that oriental ladies to this day decorate their head-dress with strings of silver coins or with horn-like ornaments of embossed silver and the like (comp. on Song of Solomon 4:4 above). On the contrary the sense which Vaihinger would attribute to the expression is undemonstrable and in bad taste: “we will seek to obtain a large dowry by her.” And Weissbach’s explanation is perfectly absurd and trifling: “we will carry up a silver wall around her, who needs no such protection.”—The door presents a fitting contrast to the wall, because it is easily opened and admits everything through it; an expressive emblem of unchastity which is open to every amorous seduction. “Stopping up” or “blocking” (Hitzig: “barricading”) this door with a “cedar board” naturally means a determined warding off of those seductive influences, and rendering all dissoluteness impossible by the most sedulous care. By this is not to be understood a “fore-door or vestibule door in front of the proper door” (Hug), nor a “cedar post” (Weissb.), nor a tablet to be put on the door as an ornament (Hölem.), but quite certainly a plank or board to be put against the door on the inside to prevent it from turning and opening. This board was to be of cedar, because this wood is a particularly strong building material and not liable to rot.[FN27]

Song of Solomon 8:10. I was a wall and my breasts like towers. This is evidently said by Shulamith, whose thoughts were turned back to her own maiden state by her brothers’ faithful care shown for the honor and purity of her little sister. Looking back upon this time, which now lies in the past, she can joyfully affirm that all seduction recoiled from her as from a solid wall, and that no one had dared to venture an assault upon her pure and awe-inspiring charms (her breasts as inaccessible and hard to be scaled as towers upon walls, comp. Song of Solomon 7:9 b).—Then was I in his eyes as one that finds peace,i.e., this careful preservation of my chastity, this keeping my charms pure and sacred procured me his, the king’s, favor and inmost love. שָׁלוֹם “welfare, peace,” is here as in אִישׁ שְׁלוֹמִי, Psalm 41:10, a synonym of חֵן “favor” or חֶסֶד “kindness” (comp. מָצָא חֵן, Genesis 6:8; Genesis 19:19; Jeremiah 31:2, as well as חֶסֶד וָחֵן, Esther 2:17) and is not without a delicate allusion to the name of Solomon. There is also a certain refinement in the expression that Shulamith does not exactly say אָז מָצָאתִי בְעֵינָיו שָׁלוֹם “then I found peace in his eyes,” but with a modest circumlocution: “then was I as one (כְּ as in כְּאָח8:1) that finds peace in his eyes,” then I appeared to him worthy of his cordial affection (comp. Delitzsch and Hölemannin loc.). The expression contains no allusion, therefore, to the preceding comparison of herself to a wall surmounted by towers, or to a fortification. If the poet intended by אז הייתי בעיניו כמוצאת שלום to express the meaning: “then he finally left me in peace, instead of assailing me further,” he did so in a most strange and unintelligible manner (vs. Hitzig), and to regard חוֹמָה “wall” as the subject of מוֹצֵאת “found” (Ewald, Weissbach) will not answer on account of this word being too remote; and such a form of speech as “a wall or fortress finds peace—it surrenders or it is spared,” receives no confirmation from the Old Testament elsewhere, or from oriental literature generally.

5. Continuation.—b.Shulamith’s intercession for her brothers, Song of Solomon 8:11-12.—These difficult verses can only be explained in accordance with the context, and with the whole course and tenor of the piece, by assuming with Delitzsch that the “vineyard of Solomon in Baal-hamon,” mentioned in Song of Solomon 8:11, is simply adduced by way of example; that the speaker’s “own vineyard,” as in Song of Solomon 1:6 (comp. Song of Solomon 4:12 ff.), is a figurative designation of herself and her charms, which she devotes to the king; and finally that the “keepers of its fruit” ( Song of Solomon 8:12 b) is a designation of her brothers, the faithful and zealous guardians of her innocence; and consequently the whole must be taken to be an intercession of Shulamith on behalf of her brothers. This intercession fitly connects itself with their tender care for her little sister, just now manifested; and it likewise refers back in a suitable manner to the mention before made of her brothers, Song of Solomon 1:6, and thus helps to bring about a termination of the whole, in which everything shall be satisfactorily adjusted and harmonized. We therefore reject the following divergent explanations of this brief section: 1) Shulamith declares that she has herself guarded her virgin innocence better than Solomon his vineyard in Baal-hamon, whose keepers had secretly retained, besides the fruit, two hundred shekels for themselves; she therefore needs no other keepers, not even the guardianship of her brothers (Herder, Umbreit,Döpke, Hitzig, Rocke). 2) Shulamith protests that she disdains all the wealth and the treasures of Song of Solomon, which, like his vineyard in Baal-hamon, he is obliged to entrust to the guardianship of others; her vineyard, i.e., her innocence and virtue is under her own control, and in this possession of hers she has enough (Dathe, Rosenmueller, Ewald, Heiligstedt, etc.). 3) Shulamith triumphantly relates that Solomon offered her the rich vineyard at Baal-hamon, whither she had been carried to his pleasure-palace, with all its produce, and the entire park as her own property, if she would be his; he was even willing to release her from the payment of the two hundred shekels due to each of its keepers; but she had renounced the whole for the sake of her lover, who now, as her own chosen vineyard(!) stood before her (Vaihinger). 4) Shulamith means to say, Solomon must have his distant vineyard in Baal-hamon kept for him, and must therefore pay away considerable of its proceeds; but she, on the contrary, kept her own vineyard, that is to say Solomon (!), herself, and hence possessed his love alone without being obliged to share it with others (Hölemann). 5) Shulamith intends by Solomon’s vineyard in Baal-hamon herself, and by her own vineyard the shepherd, her lover; she means to say, Solomon did indeed get Shulamith into his power at Shulem (=Baal-hamon), and offered her one thousand shekels by each of the ladies of the court as her keepers; but he may keep this money, for her proper keeper, the shepherd, now stands before her again (Meier). 6) Shulamith means to say that Song of Solomon, who has let out his vineyard to keepers, receives as the owner one thousand silverlings in cash from each keeper, whilst the keepers retain for their pay five times as much in fruit = five thousand shekels. But Shulamith, who keeps her own vineyard, i.e., herself with all her personal charms, and consequently might, as both owner and keeper, retain the entire produce for herself, gives the use of the fruit, consequently the five parts, in this case = 1000 (!) to Song of Solomon, and only retains for herself as keeper the200, i.e., the possession; the usufruct shall be his, she will only be the keeper of her vineyard (Weissbach). 7) Solomon’s vineyard in Baal-hamon denotes the kingdom of God founded in the midst of the world, in the midst of the savage masses of heathen population. The keepers of this vineyard are the several Christian nations, each of which has to pay one thousand shekels to the heavenly Solomon as the product of his labor. Each must therefore produce as much fruit as the people of Israel, the tenants of the vineyard mentioned, Song of Solomon 8:12, which forms one part of the great vineyard of the Church. Each people then receives in return a reward of grace of two hundred shekels, that is to say, a fifth part of the produce of his portion; and the people of Israel receives no more, comp. Matthew 20:1-16 (Hengstenberg). 8) Solomon’s vineyard at Baal-hamon denotes the Church of the Lord in the midst of the world. Its keepers are the prophets, apostles, pastors and teachers of Christendom, to whom two-tenths (twice as much, therefore, as under the Old Testament) shall be given as a reward of grace for their faithful raising of fruit, or for their leading many thousand souls to the heavenly Solomon (Calov, Michael, Marck, Berleb. Bib, and in general most of the old allegorists). 9) The vineyard at Baal-hamon denotes the Gentile world, generally, Shulamith’s vineyard, Song of Solomon 8:12, Japhetic gentilism as one half of this Gentile world, the two hundred silverlings the spiritual peace granted by the king to Japhetic humanity in regard for their loving submission to him, etc.[FN28] (Hahn).

Song of Solomon 8:11. Solomon has a vineyard in Baal-hamon. Baal-hamon Isaiah, without doubt, the place not far from Dothaim in the south of the tribe of Issachar, which is called Βελαμὼν or Βαλαμὼν, Judith 8:3, a locality therefore not very remote from Shunem. It derived its name from the Syro-Egyptian god, Ammon הָמוֹן (=אָמוֹן, Jeremiah 46:25), which may have been worshipped there, just as Baal-gad ( Joshua 11:17; Joshua 12:7, etc.) was named from Gad, the well-known Babylonish god of fortune. Baal-hamon scarcely signifies “the populous” (Vulg, Weissb, etc.), and it is still more improbable that it is to be identified, as many of the older writers assumed, with Baalbec in Cœ Leviticus -Syria (where vineyards could hardly ever have flourished), or with Hammon, חַמּוֹן, Joshua 19:28, or with Baalgad, Joshua 11:17, etc. But if that locality near Shunem is intended, it by no means follows that Shulamith had been carried off to just that spot by Song of Solomon, and detained there for some time as a prisoner in a pleasure-palace of the king, as Vaih. strangely supposes. But Shulamith only names this vineyard as an instance very near her home of a royal property let out on high rent, in order afterwards to illustrate by it her relation to the king as well as to her brothers.—He committed the vineyard to the keepersi.e., to several at once, amongst whom the piece of ground was parcelled out in greater or smaller portions. That these keepers rented the property is shown by what follows.—Each was to bring for its fruit a thousand of silveri.e., a thousand shekels of silver. From the high rent may be inferred the productiveness of the property; for that its annual yield corresponded to the agreement is certainly presupposed, as well as that a part of the produce of his piece annually remained for each tenant—that Isaiah, on an average, about two hundred shekels (see Song of Solomon 8:12).

Song of Solomon 8:12. My vineyard, my own, is before mei.e., I take charge myself of my own vineyard, viz., of myself and my womanly charms, of myself as an object of men’s admiration and courtship. Since I came to maturity, I have been my own keeper, and have with entire freedom transferred to my royal husband this right of mine to dispose of myself. I have no longer any other keepers but him, who is one with me (comp. on Song of Solomon 1:6, p56).—The thousand is thine, O Song of Solomon, and two hundred for the keepers of its fruiti.e., the entire proceeds are due to thee; I remain wholly thine own with all that I am and have. But they who kept my fruit, i.e., my innocence and virtue, before I was thine, should not go empty away. These trusty brotherly guardians of my maidenhood, who once watched over me as they now faithfully and sedulously watch over our little sister ( Song of Solomon 8:9), must be commended to thy love and favor, as in my heart they hold the next place after thee.—This explanation, it is true, does not completely remove all difficulties; but it involves fewer doubtful and forced assumptions than the other attempted explanations adduced above.

6. Conclusion.—c.The cheerful pleasantry and singing of the royal couple, Song of Solomon 8:13-14.—These two concluding verses contain, according to Herder, the fragment of a conversation; according to Umbreit the serenade of a young man from the city with the answer of his lady-love in the country; according to Döpke a “small duet” belonging to the initial period of Shulamith’s love, and here appended by the poet; according to Magnus, a glossed and mutilated fragment of a love-song; while most of the advocates of the shepherd hypothesis see in it a colloquy between the lover and Shulamith, consisting of an invitation to sing on the part of the former, and a song of a roguish and playful character, which Shulamith thereupon sings (Ewald, Hitzig, Vaihinger, etc.). This last view evidently has the most in its favor on account of the recurrence of הַשְׁמִיעֵנִי “let me hear,” from Song of Solomon 2:14, and the unmistakable resemblance of the song in Song of Solomon 8:14 to Song of Solomon 2:17 (and partly also to Song of Solomon 2:15). Only there is no reason to suppose the person, who invites her to sing and whom Shulamith addresses in her song as דּוֹדִי “my beloved,” to be a young shepherd. The epithet which he bestows upon her, “thou that dwellest in the gardens,” makes it seem far more likely that he was a citizen of rank, and even resident in a palace, a man of royal race exalted greatly above her station in life. But little reason as there is to regard another than Solomon as the “beloved” who speaks in Song of Solomon 8:13 and is then addressed in the sprightly little Song of Solomon, there is quite as little for assigning this occurrence with Hitzig to a period considerably later than the one recorded just before, or for assuming with Böttcher that the bridegroom, in quitting the merry engagement feast in the house of Shulamith’s mother, wanted to hear one more song from his bride before he left her for the last brief interval prior to the celebration of their marriage. Delitzsch and Weissbach understand the passage correctly, only the latter preposterously imagines the locality of the action here as in the final section generally to be the royal palace in Jerusalem (comp. p127).—Thou that dwellest in the gardens.—Literally, “thou sitting in the gardens,” i.e., thou resident in gardens, who art opposed to living in populous cities and splendid palaces (comp. Song of Solomon 1:16 f.; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 5:7; Song of Solomon 7:12 ff.). Solomon here evidently means to allude with pleasant raillery to the fact that his beloved, who had so often before exhibited her longing for the gardens and meadows of her home, was now exactly in her element, and ought therefore to be in the best of moods.—Companions are listening for thy voice; let me hear it.—The חֲבֵרִים “companions” are, according to Magnus, “neighbors,” or “the family;” according to Hufnagel, “female friends;” according to Moldenh, Ewald, Ren, etc., “bridemen” (des paranymphes, Renan); according to Vaihinger, “shepherds, fellow-pasturers;” according to Weissbach, Solomon himself, who here jestingly represents himself as a shepherd, or rather in the plural as “shepherds!” and finally, according to Herder, Hug, Delitzsch, “playmates” or “youthful associates” of Shulamith. This last view has most in its favor; only it is a matter of course that the companions of Shulamith’s youth were likewise those of her brothers; they are consequently in all likelihood shepherds and country people from Shunem and its vicinity. They were probably, therefore, the same as the speakers in Song of Solomon 8:5 a of this chapter; on the contrary they are not the companions of Solomon (comp. Song of Solomon 5:1), of whom Shulamith spoke Song of Solomon 1:7 (vs. Ewald).

Song of Solomon 8:14. Flee, my beloved. The words sound like sending off, or if any prefer “scaring away” or at least “urging out into the open ground” (Delitzsch). They do not, however, by any means express seriously intended coyness, as is shown by the very form of the address דּוֹדִי “my beloved.” They rather invite to hasten and range with the singer over the mountains and plains as is shown by what follows. ברח is not, however, exactly equivalent to “hasten, up!” as is maintained by Vaihinger and Weissbach, who refer to Numbers 24:11, Isaiah 30:16, etc. For even in these passages, as well as in Genesis 27:43; Amos 7:12, the primary signification of this verb “to flee” is clearly apparent. Ewald arbitrarily: the meaning is that “he should cut across, leave his companions and not stay opposite to her but hasten to her side,” etc.And be like a gazelle,etc. comp. on Song of Solomon 2:17. In place of the “mountains of separation” or “cleft mountains” there mentioned we here have balsam mountains or “heights of scented herbs” (Weissbach), which to be sure are meant in a different sense from Song of Solomon 4:6. Shulamith here calls by this name the mountains and hills of her home (comp. Song of Solomon 2:8) because they were just then in the season of spring or early summer covered with fragrant flowers of all sorts and accordingly filled with balmy odors (comp. Song of Solomon 2:12 f, Song of Solomon 6:11).—On the import of this verse as the conclusion of the entire poem, comp. Delitzsch, p. Song of Solomon 153: “Amid the cheerful notes of this song we lose sight of the pair rambling over the flowery heights, and the graceful spell of the Song of Solomon, which bounds gazelle-like from one scene of beauty to another, vanishes with them.”

DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL

1. The allegorical exegesis is in this section less able than ever to bring all into a form possessing unity and regular structure, and to reach really certain results, as the attempts above exhibited (p132) to give an allegorical explanation of Song of Solomon 8:11-12 have evinced. Not only in this passage but in other parts of this section this mode of interpretation shows a very great multiplicity and divergence of opinions among its various advocates. The “little sister,” Song of Solomon 8:8 f. is by some made to denote the first-fruits of Jews and Gentiles received into the church immediately after the ascension of Christ (Cassiodorus, Beza, Gregory, Rupert v. Deutz, etc.;) by others the entire body of the Jews and Gentiles yet to be converted (Heunisch, Reinhard, Rambach, likewise Hahn, who refers it particularly to “Hamitic Gentilism”); by others the weak in faith and young beginners in Christianity belonging to every period of the church in their totality (Marck, Berleb. Bib, Starke); and finally by others the daughter of Zion at the time of the first beginnings of her conversion to the heavenly Solomon (Hengst. and others). “The wall and the door,” Song of Solomon 8:9, are indeed mostly understood of the steadfast and faithful keeping of the word of God and of its zealous proclamation to the Gentiles (according to 1 Corinthians 16:9, etc.); but some also explain them of the valiant in faith and the weak in faith, or of the learned and simple, or of faithful Christians and such as are recreant and easily accessible to the arts of seduction. And then according to these various interpretations the “silver bulwarks” are now the miracles of the first witnesses of Jesus, now the distinguished teachers of the church, now pious Christian rulers, now the testimonies of Holy Scripture by which faith is strengthened, etc. And again by the “cedar board” are sometimes understood the ten commandments or the law, sometimes Christian teachers, sometimes the examples of the saints, sometimes the salutary discipline of the cross and sufferings for Christ’s sake, etc. (comp. Starke in loc.). By the “companions” or “associates” who listen for the voice of the bride, Song of Solomon 8:13, Piscator in all seriousness understands God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; whilst the followers of Cocceius for the most part referred it to the angels; some of them, however, to true Christians; and the two most recent interpreters of this class suppose that the Gentile world before the time of Christ is intended by the expression, but with this difference that one (Hahn) has in mind chiefly the Gentiles as hostile to Revelation, the other (Hengstenberg) as kindly disposed to the people of God and His revelation.

2. It is apparent from the exegetical explanations given above, that this divergence in the allegorical exegesis is matched by an equal variety of opinions and uncertain guess-work on the part of the merely historical interpreters of this chapter; and in fact it is scarcely possible by even the most cautious procedure to arrive at perfectly certain results in respect to the meaning and the connection of the sentences of this section with their fragment-like brevity and obscurity. This, however, only makes it the more necessary with a view to its practical application to adhere to its leading and most perspicuous passage which formulates the fundamental thought not only of the closing Acts, but of the entire poem with solemn emphasis and with an elevation and pathos of language purposely rising to a climax. We mean the spirited encomium contained in Song of Solomon 8:6-7 of love between man and woman as a mysterious divine creation, and a power superior to death, Shulamith’s exalted panegyric of conjugal and wedded love, the culminating point of the entire poem, and the only true key to its meaning according to the unanimous assumptions, of interpreters of all schools. Delitzsch (p182 f.) has given the best exposition of the thought contained in this leading passage, which has in it the gist of the whole matter: “Shulamith herself here declares how she loves Solomon and how she wishes to be loved by him. This spontaneous testimony discloses to us the intermingling of human freedom and of divine necessity in true love between man and woman. Love is a שׁלהבת יה, a flame kindled by God Himself. Man cannot produce it in himself, and though he employ all his wealth for the purpose, he cannot kindle it in others. She is speaking, of course, of true love, which is directed to the person and not to any mere things. Man cannot create this love by his own agency. It is an operation of God—a divine flame, which seizes upon a man like death with irresistible power, and can neither be quenched nor extinguished by any calamity or by any hostile force. There is thus evinced in true love an inevitable and invincible power of divine necessity. But this divine necessity has for its other side human freedom. It is the inmost and truest ego of a Prayer of Manasseh, from which this divine flame of love blazes forth. Whilst a man becomes a lover by a resistless divine energy, the lover’s passionate desire for the possession of the beloved object is as vehement and inflexible as the resistless and all-devouring grave. The lover loves because he must, but love is at the same time his most pleasurable volition, a return of love his most ardent desire. Smitten with love to Shulamith Solomon exclaims: How beautiful and how comely art thou, O love, among delights ( Song of Solomon 7:7); and smitten with love to Solomon Shulamith prays: Place me as a signet upon thy heart, as a signet ring upon thine arm ( Song of Solomon 8:6).” In this declaration of Shulamith, which gathers up all the main elements in the idea of wedded love and experience, and accordingly formulates the fundamental thought of the entire poem there is no allusion indeed to the blessing of children as the resplendent consummation of the wedded communion of man and wife, as also no express mention is made of this matter elsewhere throughout the piece. For to see an allusion to it in what Shulamith says, Song of Solomon 8:12, of the “thousand” due to her husband from the produce of his vineyard, would evidently be forced and arbitrary. But Delitzsch properly remarks in relation to this omission of an apparently essential particular: “The author of Canticles has avoided everything, which would look to an externalizing of the relation, which he describes. He makes no mention of children; for a marriage in which the parties who conclude it are not an end to each other, but merely a means for obtaining posterity, does not correspond to its idea. Children are by divine blessing the sparks which result, when the flames of two souls flash into one. The latter is the main thing in marriage.” It is also a delicate feature of great psychological as well as æsthetic value, that Shulamith, the chaste and pure-minded maiden, though silent respecting the blessing of children, mentions instead with tender love and solicitude her little sister and her brothers, the same who had previously been angry with her and treated her harshly ( Song of Solomon 1:6), and consults with her brothers respecting the future of the former and in her intercession with her royal husband lays to heart the future of her brothers. This overplus of love, which with all the ardent fervor of her devotion to her husband, she still preserves for her own family (see Song of Solomon 8:12); this touching sisterly love, which is essentially identical with her faithful and pious filial devotion to her mother repeatedly shown in the previous portion of the Song; this combined with her gladsome, cheery, playful disposition, which expresses itself in her concluding words, adds the finishing touch, sweetly transfiguring this noble picture which the poet would sketch of her character as the ideal of a bride and of a young wife, and by which—an unconscious organ of the Holy Spirit—he has set forth the idea and mystery of marriage itself as a sacred and divine institution.

3. From this luminous and revered female figure there proceeds a transfiguring radiance, in which the form of her royal husband, the enthusiastic admirer and spirited singer of her love and her loveliness also shines with a clear and pleasing light. But yet for the sake of, a complete and thoroughly correct typical estimate of the transaction, the sad truth must not be left out of the account, that the bond of love so purely and holily regarded by her was nevertheless at last desecrated and broken by him. For that this was the case, can scarcely be doubted from the manner in which both the historians of the Old Testament record the final fortunes of Solomon and the end of his life ( 1 Kings 11:1-43, 2 Chronicles 9:22-31). Of a sincere and permanent conversion of this monarch to a God-fearing and virtuous walk in the evening of his days neither the book of Kings nor Chronicles has anything to relate, the latter of which would scarcely have omitted to note a similarity in the life of Solomon to that of Manasseh in this respect. That no proof can be drawn from the book of Ecclesiastes for this view, a favorite one with many of the older theologians, the introduction to this book may teach us (§ 4). We must stand by the assumption confirmed by 1 Kings11and contradicted by no other testimony, that the unhappy king afterwards proceeded from that stage of polygamous degeneracy indicated in this Song of Solomon, especially in Song of Solomon 6:8, to still grosser extravagances in this direction, and thus at last filled up the measure of his sins, and brought upon himself and upon his house the corresponding judgment beginning with the revolt of Jeroboam. He must accordingly have deeply wounded Shulamith’s heart by a speedy return to the criminally voluptuous and idolatrous manners of his court and have repaid her love so pure and ardent with base infidelity. This deplorable condition of things casts a light not very creditable to him upon his relation to his antitype in the history of redemption, the Messiah. Love for the purest and best of the daughters of his people, whom he adorned with the crown royal and raised from an humble station to the throne of David, could not permanently purify and hallow the earthly Solomon and rescue him from the abyss of crime into which he was in danger of sinking. The heavenly Song of Solomon, on the contrary, must laboriously lift the Church, which He is gathering to Himself from amongst mankind, step by step to the luminous elevation of His own holiness and truth; He must have great indulgence for her weakness, must pardon her many relapses into her old walk of sin, must absolutely despair of presenting His bride perfectly pure, without spot or wrinkle, so long as she remains in this present world. In the Old Testament type, therefore, we find a sad contrast between the fidelity of the wife and the unfaithfulness of her husband. Of the Messianic archetype, on the other hand, it is written with perfect truth: “Though we be unfaithful, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself” ( 2 Timothy 2:13). In the type no really pure, complete and durable realization of the idea of marriage is reached, but the natural relation existing for a time is only too speedily perverted to its opposite by the fault of the husband. In the fulfilment of the type it is the husband, the new Adam, the Son of Man who came down from heaven and yet is essentially in heaven ( John 3:13), who not merely concludes the marriage covenant with mankind, but likewise preserves, confirms, refines and conducts it step by step to its ideal consummation, which is at the same time the palingenesia and perfection of humanity. To our human consciousness this parallel, which strictly carried out leaves scarcely more than a faint glimmer of resemblance between the type and the archetype, has in it something deeply humiliating. But it may nevertheless operate to the strengthening of faith in our heart, for it points us to the one divine helper and physician, who heals all our diseases; it drives us into the arms of the one mediator and comforter, who is rich in mercy unto all them that call upon Him; it encourages us to childlike confidence in the heavenly author and finisher of our faith, whose grace worketh all in all according to His word of promise ( John 5:15; Philippians 1:6; Philippians 2:12, etc.).

His love no end nor measure knows,

No change can turn its course,

Immutably the same it flows,

From one eternal source.

Footnotes:

FN#1 - Williams: She suggests a wish that her relation to him were rather that of an infant brother than a husband; that she might be at liberty to express her affection in the strongest and most public manner, without incurring the charge of forwardness or indecorum.]

FN#2 - Wicl.: The voice of the synagogue, of the church. Mat.: The synagogue speaking of the church.]

FN#3 - Wicl.: The voice of Christ to the synagogue, of the holy cross. Under an apple tree I reared thee. Mat.: The voice of the spouse before the spousess. Cov, Mat.: I am the same that waked thee up among the apple trees. Bish.: I waked thee up among, etc. Genev.: I raised thee up under an [Eng. Ver.: the] apple tree.]

FN#4 - הַתַּכּוּחַ deictic: “this apple tree.”

FN#5 - We read עוֹרַרְתִּיךְ.

FN#6 - שָׁמָּה we take to be synonymous with שָׁם as in Jeremiah 18:2 : 2 Kings 23:8, etc.

FN#7 - Here too we read the fem. suf. חִבְּלָתֶךְ אמֵּךְ and at the end of the verse יְלָדָתֶךְ (or with the Sept, Vulg, Syr. יֹלַדְתֵּךְ)

FN#8 - Wicl.: there shamed is thy mother, there defiled is she that gat thee. Dow.: “there thy mother was corrupted, there she was deflowered that bare thee;” to which is appended the note: “under the apple tree I raised thee up; that Isaiah, that Christ redeemed the Gentiles at the foot of the cross, where the synagogue of the Jews (the mother church) was corrupted by their denying Him and crucifying Him.”]

FN#9 - Mat.: The church speaking to Christ.]

FN#10 - Wicl, Cov, Matthew, Cran, Bish, Dow.: hell. Genev, Eng. Ver.: the grave.]

FN#11 - Wicl, Dow.: lamps. Other English versions: coals.]

FN#12 - In שַׁלְהֶתֶתְיָהּ the Masorah has connected the genitive יָהּ with the construct, as in מַאְכֵּלְיָה Jeremiah 2:31, and as in proper names compounded with יָה or יָהוּ (the abbreviation of יהוה). The recension of Ben Asher retains this mode of writing the expression as a compound, while that of Ben Naphtali separates the words. The φλὀγεζ αν̓τῆζ of the Septuagint is based upon this contraction into one word. Ewald and Hitzig needlessly conjecture that the original reading was שַׁלְהֲבֹתֶיהָ שַׁלְחֲבוֹת יָהּ “its flames are flames of God.” The analogy of the preceding sentences rather requires, as Weissbach correctly observes, the giving of two predicates to the single subject רְשָׁכֶּיהָ. It Isaiah, therefore, properly to be translated “its flames are flames of fire, they are a blaze of God.” On the etymology of שַׁלְהֶבֶת as a compound of אֵשׁ and לְהָבָה compare Weissbach in loc. [The שׁ is servile, such as marks the Shaphel species in Chald. and Syr. See Gesen. and Fuerst’s Lexicons. Cov, Mat.: a very flame of the Lord. Genev.: a vehement flame. Eng. Ver.: a most vehement flame.]

FN#13 - שׁטף is neither “to deluge” (Ewald), nor “overflow” (Delitzsch, Hengstenberg), nor “choke up” with sediment (Rosenm.), but “wash away, sweep away,” as is shown by Job 14:19; comp. Isaiah 28:17 f .; Ezekiel 16:9.

FN#14 - Wicl.: The voice of Christ to the lineage of holy church. Mat.: Christ speaking of the church to the synagogue. Note in Geneva Bible: The Jewish church speaketh this of the church of the Gentiles. Cov, Mat.: When our love is told our young sister, whose breasts are not yet grown, what shall we do unto her?]

FN#15 - On מַה־נַּעֲשֶׂה לְ “what shall we do in respect to,” etc., comp. 1 Samuel 10:2; also Genesis 27:37.

FN#16 - דִּבֶּר בְּ is neither “to speak to any one,” nor “to speak about any one,” whether in a good or a bad sense (Doederl, Weissb.), but simply and only “to speak for any one” (בְּ prep. of the end or aim, as in7 b), i.e., to sue for any one, to woo a maid ( 1 Samuel 25:39).

FN#17 - Mat.: The answer of Christ for the church.]

FN#18 - Wicl.: The voice of the church answering. Mat.: The church answereth to the synagogue. Cov, Mat.: If I be a wall and my breasts like towers, then am I as one that hath found favor in his sight.]

FN#19 - Wicl.: The synagogue of the church saith. Vine she was to peaceable in her that hath peoples; she took it to the keepers; a man taketh away for the fruit of it, a thousand silver plates. Dow.: The peaceable had a vineyard in that which hath people. Mat.: The synagogue speaking to the church.]

FN#20 - כֶּרֶם הָיָה לִשׁלֹמֹה literally “a vineyard became Solomon’s,” i.e., he has it now (comp. Psalm 119:56; Psalm 119:83; also Ezekiel 16:8), not, he had it once, as though Solomon were here spoken of as a ruler long since dead (Ewald, Hitzig, etc.).

FN#21 - Wicl.: Christ to the church saith. Mat.: The voice of Christ. Cov, Mat.: But my vineyard, O Song of Solomon, giveth thee a thousand, and two hundred to the keepers of the fruit. Thou that dwellest in the garaens, O let me hear thy voice, that my companions may hearken to the same.]

FN#22 - On the different explanations of כַּרְמִי שֶׁלִּי see on Song of Solomon 1:6, p56.

FN#23 - Wicl, Mat.: The voice of the church to Christ. Wicl.: Flee thou, my love; be thou likened to a capret and to an hart, calf of harts, upon the mountains of sweet spices. Cov, Mat.: O get thee away, my love, as a roe or a young hart unto the sweet smelling mountains. The end of the Ballet of Ballets of Song of Solomon, called in Latin Canticum Canticorum.]

FN#24 - On the general usage of בְּשָׂמִים comp. Song of Solomon 4:14; Song of Solomon 5:13; Song of Solomon 6:2.

FN#25 - The transparent absurdity of this hypothesis of Solomon going to Shunem not merely for a visit but to reside, involving the abandonment of his capital and the neglect of the affairs of government, renders any scheme of the book untenable of which it is a necessary part.—Tr.]

FN#26 - Zöckler has repeatedly argued before that the recurrence of the same language implies the same speaker and the same subject: see his comment on Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 4:6; Song of Solomon 6:9; Song of Solomon 6:10 and several times elsewhere. Whatever force there is in this consideration makes against the locality and the speakers that he here assumes. The wilderness here spoken of should not without some obvious necessity be regarded as different from that in Song of Solomon 3:6. And that the queen appears on foot leaning on her royal husband’s arm is surely not suggestive of the termination of a long and wearisome journey.—Tr.]

FN#27 - Thrupp quotes in opposition to the view above given of this verse the language of Renan: “This interpretation is pressed by serious difficulties. I do not insist on its vapid and feeble character. We may admit contrary to all probability, that the silver battlements of which the brothers speak might denote a sort of ornament as a recompense of the young girl’s virtue, it will still remain a trait whose signification is an enigma. If the brothers wish to punish their sister in case she should commit any fault, why do they menace her with panels of cedar? It is evident that this implies an idea of riches and luxury. Battlements of silver, panels of cedar answer to one another. Neither of these alternatives includes an idea of punishment or recompense.” Thrupp himself supposes it to be the language of the bridegroom, and its meaning to be: “We will build her up, and that in full glory. The walls and the doors come into view as two of the most obvious features of every edifice. As for her wall of enclosure, we will fence her around with silver; as for her doors, of cedar alone and of no inferior wood, shall they be constructed.” Burrowes: “Her nature should be adorned with ornaments, giving more beauty and strength than turrets of silver, or a richly carved door of the most elegant cedar.” Moody Stuart: “They liken the little sister to two of the principal parts of a building or temple—first, the wall without which there is no stability, no house; and second, the door without which there is no entrance to the house, and no use of it. The wall is the image of stability on which, with its solid strength, is to be built a silver palace for habitation and for beauty. The door is the image of accessibleness; but a door-way without the wooden frame work, requires cedar boards to distinguish it from a mere open thoroughfare.” Good understands by the “silver turrets:” “The prominent charm of an ample dowry shall immediately be her own;” and by the “door encased in cedar:” “She shall be the graceful entrance to my favor and friendship.” Harmer, who supposes the little sister to be Pharaoh’s daughter espoused to Song of Solomon, imagines that the “wall” and the door” are emblems of the political consequences of the alliance as on the one hand “a guard and defence, giving a new security to Judæa,” and on the other opening “a free communication between Egypt and the Jewish country.”]

FN#28 - Good finds in these verses a request made of Solomon by his royal bride that he would “consign the estate which, prior to her marriage, she had possessed in Baal-hamon, and which now appertained to himself as a part of the dowry she had brought him, to her younger and unendowed sister.” Burrowes: “While Solomon’s tenants were obliged to pay the stipulated rent, the spouse speaks of a vineyard which was her own, but which she would nevertheless so keep under her own control and management, as to be able while paying the keepers equitable wages, to offer yearly to the king a thousand pieces of silver as a testimonial of her love.” Moody Stuart: “Solomon is the Messiah, and Baal-hamon is no doubt either Jerusalem or the land of Israel. The vineyard was let to keepers, who were to render its fruits to the king—they were to render them, but the silence as to the fulfilment implies that the covenant was not kept. The New Testament church now declares, that by the Lord’s grant the vineyard is hers, and undertakes, through grace, that she will never lose sight of it. She further engages to assign to those who labor in it a suitable and moderate maintenance, and allots ‘two hundred pieces of silver to those that keep the fruit of it.’ At the same time she promises that the full revenue shall only be the Lord’s, and that she will never attempt, like her predecessor, to claim the vineyard as her own.” The same author also calls attention to the “remarkable agreement between this passage and the reference to the Lord’s vineyard, in the fifth chapter of Isaiah,” and adds: “The Song of Solomon was evidently much in the mind of Isaiah, and he refers to it more or less directly in every page of his prophecies.” This last statement is verified through several pages filled with passages from Isaiah, which bear more or less affinity in language or ideas to expressions in the Song of Solomon. The interesting relation thus suggested as existing between these two books, has its importance in determining the estimate put upon the Song of Solomon, and the interpretation given to it in Old Testament times and by inspired men.—Tr.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 8:4". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lcc/song-of-solomon-8.html. 1857-84.

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Saturday, December 7th, 2019
the First Week of Advent
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