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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Song of Solomon 2

 

 

Verses 1-7

Song of Solomon 2:1-7. Mutual Praise and Praise of Love.—The bride sets herself forth as the Rose (meadow saffron or crocus) of Sharon (or the plain) and the Lily (scarlet anemone?) of the valley. To this the lover replies that other young women are in comparison to her the thorns among which those lilies often grow. This is not a cynical attack on womankind, but shows the idealising power of love for the one. The appropriate reply is that he also stands out from among men as the apple (or quince) tree among trees, a tree which gives grateful shade and a pleasant aromatic fruit; it is joy to be in his company as it was a delight to sit under the shadow of such a tree. This thought is now expanded as the young woman dwells upon the delights of love. For banqueting house the literal rendering of mg., "house of wine" is to be preferred: as it is not likely that the phrase is a proper name, it is probably a symbol for the chamber of love. The banner means not a flag to be followed, but a sign for gathering. It is possible that there may be an allusion to the custom of the ancient wine-seller, who hoisted a flag to show that he had wine in stock. The excitement and ecstasy induces weariness and faintness, so she desires to be restored and strengthened by raisins (2 Samuel 6:19) or raisin cakes (Jeremiah 7:18), and apples with their stimulating aroma and suggestions of love. The passage closes with the refrain which occurs again in Song of Solomon 3:5 and Song of Solomon 8:4, in a similar context. On the whole, though the abstract word love is used for the concrete lover, it seems most probable that the charge is not to disturb the enjoyment of love rather than not to waken the desire for it. In this connexion it is natural that the conjuration should not bring in the name of Israel's God, but rather, as here, the names of animals that were used as symbols of modest gracefulness and by tradition associated with the ancient worship of the goddess of love.


Verses 8-17

Song of Solomon 2:8-17 contains one of the most beautiful poems in the whole book; it breathes the air of the fresh spring-time, when, according to our own poet, "a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love"; here it is a young woman's fancy that hears the steps of the beloved hastening over the mountains, drawn by the sweet attractiveness of love. (1) The beloved comes (Song of Solomon 2:8 f.). (2) His speech (Song of Solomon 2:10-14). (3) The bride calls for his companionship (Song of Solomon 2:16 f.). Note the vividness, the dramatic force, of the opening words, "Hark my beloved—There he comes—Hastening over the mountains, leaping over the hills," etc. The first clause of Song of Solomon 2:9 is probably a gloss introduced from Song of Solomon 2:17, where the words have a more suitable connexion; the LXX has here also "on the mountains of Bether" (baithel). He gazed from the outside of the window, i.e. he looks in through the window, etc. Song of Solomon 2:10 a may be an explanatory gloss, it is clear in any case that the lover now speaks. The word for winter (found only here in OT) and that for rain both refer to the same season, the time of heavy, cold, winter rain. The spring comes with a sudden rush and reveals itself in magnificent colours. Song of Solomon 2:12 b should probably be translated, "the time of pruning has come," the time when rich foliage needs careful attention. The turtle dove is mentioned because its migration is a sign of spring (Jeremiah 8:7). "In our land" is probably a prosaic addition. The winter figs begin to swell and take on new colour. Translate the next words with RV: And the vines are in blossom, They give forth their fragrance. In endearing tones she is, in her character of a dove, summoned from her refuge behind the lattice, which is rhetorically described as the hiding-places of the rock and the secrecy of the steep place. It is difficult to form any connexion for Song of Solomon 2:15. It is mostly taken as a fragment of a sarcastic song which warns the maidens that love makes havoc with their charms, the cares of wedlock soon rub some of the glitter from these fine pictures. The passage closes with a glowing description of the meeting of the lovers in the evening time, when the day becomes cool and there are no shadows because the daylight has gone. The meaning of Bether is uncertain; cleft-riven mountains, separating mountains, mountains of spices or of cypresses (Lebanon) are specimens of the various conjectures.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/song-of-solomon-2.html. 1919.

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Wednesday, January 29th, 2020
the Third Week after Epiphany
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