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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Song of Solomon 6

 

 

Verses 1-3

Song of Solomon 5:8 to Song of Solomon 6:3. Descriptive Poem (Wasf): The Strength and Beauty of the Bridegroom.—On this view, Song of Solomon 6:8 f. is taken as an introduction to the praises of "the beloved," and whether there is any real connexion with "the dream poem" is uncertain.

Song of Solomon 6:1-3. These verses form a conclusion to the descriptive poem; if we cannot take them as referring to an absent shepherd lover, then we must regard the symbols of the enjoyment of love as having the same meaning here as in other parts of the book. The bride can answer questions about this wonderful lover by saying simply that they possess each other, and are sufficient for each other's happiness (Song of Solomon 4:12-16, Song of Solomon 5:13).


Verses 4-7

Song of Solomon 6:4-7. The Bride's Powerful Beauty.—There is much uncertainty as to the best way of dividing this chapter, and especially as to the position of Song of Solomon 6:10; this would go well before Song of Solomon 7:1; a place at the beginning of this song has also been suggested for it. This small piece consists largely of quotations from or reminiscences of other poems (cf. Song of Solomon 4:1, Song of Solomon 2:3).

Song of Solomon 6:4. The originality of these two names has been questioned. Tirzah is the name of a famous and beautiful city of the N. Kingdom, whose precise site is not settled (p. 30): in 1 Kings 14:16 we are told from the time of Jeroboam I to Omri it was a royal residence; the name means pleasure or beauty. If it is original, the use of this old name may have come from the desire of the writer to avoid the (at this period) hated name of Samaria. On the beauty of Jerusalem, see Lamentations 2:15, Psalms 48:3.—Terrible or awe-inspiring as bannered (hosts); she is dignified, standing on guard, as inaccessible as a well-arranged army. The chief weapon of the virgin is her eyes, which she uses with terrible effect to terrify or confuse. For the remainder of the passage, see Song of Solomon 4:1-4.


Verse 8-9

Song of Solomon 6:8 f. The Simple Home Nobler than the Royal Harem.—The reference is probably to Solomon's domestic establishment as pictured in the historical books (1 Kings 11:3); some critics change the word translated there are into to Solomon, i.e. Solomon had.—concubines: subordinate wives. The origin of the Hebrew word is unknown.—virgins: more correctly maidens (mg.), i.e. servants and attendants. The bridegroom would rather have his one beloved than all these ladies of the court. "For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings, That then I scorn to change my state with kings." It is added to enhance her value that she is an only daughter.—Pure (mg.) instead of choice one seems to be more expressive; it would, however, have to be taken not in a moral sense (Psalms 73:1) but of the physical features (clear in Song of Solomon 6:10). That another word was used emphasizing the fact that she was the only one borne by her mother is mere conjecture. By a bold effort of imagination she is pictured as the object of admiration even to those who are accustomed to the richest splendour and most dazzling beauty.


Verses 10-12

Song of Solomon 6:10-12. It is very difficult to explain, as they now stand, the relation of these verses to the context and each other. It is possible that Song of Solomon 6:10 is misplaced, and that it may have stood as an introduction to another song. The interpretation also of Song of Solomon 6:11 f. is unusually difficult.

Song of Solomon 6:10. See Song of Solomon 6:4.—morning, i.e. dawn. The poetic (Heb.) words for sun and moon are found together also in Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 30:26; Isaiah 11:12.

Song of Solomon 6:11 f. The translation of the RV is the best that can be done with the existing text, and the proposed emendations have no secure basis. On the dramatic view the bride is rehearsing all that happened on "the fatal day" when she was carried off to the court; but that her soul or desire set her among the royal chariots is surely a strange way of saying that "when she was engaged in inspecting and enjoying the gardens, suddenly before she knew, her longing to see the plants brought her among the chariots of her noble people, etc." Then when she would have fled from them the ladies of the court cried "Return, return, etc."; and she asks why they would gaze upon the Shulammite, etc. But our view of particular passages must be influenced by our theory as to the structure of the whole book (see Intro.). On any view this passage has great difficulties, Song of Solomon 6:12 being a hard riddle. The other suggestion is that when the lady was enjoying the beauties of nature her lover comes suddenly and sets her in the wedding car, which, however, was not a modern motor-car.


Verse 13

Song of Solomon 6:13 to Song of Solomon 8:4. The Dancing Bride and the Rapture of Love.—This section also is probably composed of different lyrics, though it is difficult to separate them; we have first the description of the loved one or bride in the act of dancing, then the comparison of her figure to a date palm, and finally a song of love and spring, concluding with the repetition of Song of Solomon 2:6 f. In Song of Solomon 7:1-6 it is possible that we have a descriptive poem setting forth the charms of the bride and sung by a chorus of women at the wedding dance.

Song of Solomon 6:13. A very similar word would give turn (instead of return) i.e. in the dance.—Shulammite: on the dramatic theory "the maiden of Shunem who is the heroine of the story." More likely a traditional name for a very beautiful woman, based on the narrative of 1 Kings 1:3*. Shunem (now Solam or Sulam), a village a little N. of Jezreel.—dance of Mahanaim: another riddle with several possible answers: (a) Mahanaim (Genesis 32:2) was a sacred place famous for its dances (cf. Judges 21:21); (b) adopt mg., of two companies, explaining company of a country dance or bridal sword-dance; circling dance of the armed company (LXX). The feet were enclosed in jewelled sandals and the dancer moved with glittering graceful steps (mg.).

Song of Solomon 7:1. prince's daughter is not taken literally on either theory; it is supposed to rest on a reminiscence of 2 Kings 4:8.—The curved lines of thy thighs (cf. mg.). The swaying movement of the dance brings out the beauty of the figure and suppleness of the limbs. The Orientals delighted in these sensuous descriptions, as may be seen from the quotations in the commentaries. It is exceedingly difficult, in many cases impossible, to settle the precise point involved in these comparisons of various parts of the body to different natural objects, such as the decorated body of the dancer and the heap of brown wheat adorned with scarlet flowers.

Song of Solomon 7:3. See Song of Solomon 4:5.

Song of Solomon 7:4. We can understand eyes that are like pools, on which the light is reflected, but undue prominence of the nose to us seems to border on the grotesque.—Bath-rabbim (daughter of many) is uncertain, whether another name for Heshbon, or of a village near by. She holds her head proudly, and her dark hair has an almost purple hue.

Song of Solomon 7:5. hair: the Heb. word is very rare; in Isaiah 38:12 it seems to be used of the threads of the loom. The word rendered tresses (AV galleries) means elsewhere water-troughs (Genesis 30:38; Genesis 30:41; Exodus 2:16); how it comes to mean tresses is not clear; the idea of flowing is supposed to make the connexion.

Song of Solomon 7:6. May be an interpolation or an interlude. How supremely beautiful and gracious is love among all the delights of life, or "How beautiful art thou, how gracious, my loved one, in the delights of love."

Song of Solomon 7:7. stature from verb to rise, because graceful height is the feature made prominent (cf. Tamar, "palm," as name of a woman). Perhaps the words of grapes should be dropped as the reference may be to dates (cf. Song of Solomon 1:14).

Song of Solomon 7:9. The lover decides on bold action and asks for favourable reception.—Nose (mg.) same word as in Song of Solomon 6:5; here, however, breath (RV) is probably a correct interpretation.

Song of Solomon 7:9 b is difficult to translate. Neither AV nor RV is satisfactory. By conjecture and comparison with VSS a plausible translation is secured: "That goes down pleasantly for my palate, gliding over my lips and teeth."

Song of Solomon 7:10. A repetition from Song 3:16, Song of Solomon 6:3, or a formal opening of a new song. On the dramatic view "uttered with an almost triumphant gesture of rejection towards Solomon."

Song of Solomon 7:11-13. Cordial invitation of the bride to the lover to enjoy, at the same time, the beauties of nature in the glory of spring, and the delight of friendly companionship.—in the villages may mean among the henna-flowers (Song of Solomon 4:13).—mandrakes or love-plants: perhaps the reference here is rather to the pleasant taste, peculiar smell, and stimulating qualities than to the magical virtues ascribed to it (Genesis 30:14*).—The transition to thrifty housekeeping in the reference to fruits new and old stored up over the door is rather prosaic; if we could eliminate new and old, the statement would harmonise better with the spirit of the song, but even then stored up would be troublesome. Some interpret the fruit symbolically of maidenly charms (cf. Song of Solomon 4:12 ff.), and take new and old to mean all kinds (Matthew 13:52).

Song of Solomon 8:1-4. It is difficult to say whether this is a continuation of the foregoing or a separate piece; Song of Solomon 6:3 f. is a repetition from Song of Solomon 2:6 f., Song of Solomon 3:5, probably by an editor. She expresses a longing for closest intimacy. If he were a near relative she could lavish tenderness without shame or fear of rebuke.

Song of Solomon 8:2. Probably the first two lines should be, I would lead thee into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bare me (cf. LXX and Song of Solomon 3:4).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 6:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/song-of-solomon-6.html. 1919.

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