Biblical commentary the Old Testament/Volume IV. Poetical Books/Song of Songs
The Song of Solomon edit
The Song is the most obscure book of the Old Testament. Whatever principle of interpretation one may adopt, there always remains a number of inexplicable passages, and just such as, if we understood them, would help to solve the mystery. And yet the interpretation of a book presupposes from the beginning that the interpreter has mastered the idea of the whole. It has thus become an ungrateful task; for however successful the interpreter may be in the separate parts, yet he will be thanked for his work only when the conception as a whole which he has decided upon is approved of.
It is a love-poem. But why such a minne-song in the canon? This question gave rise in the first century, in the Jewish schools, to doubts as to the canonicity of the book. Yet they firmly maintained it; for they presupposed that it was a spiritual and not a secular love-poem. They interpreted it allegorically. The Targum paraphrases it as a picture of the history of Israel from the Exodus to the coming of the Messiah. The bride is the congregation of Israel; and her breasts, to quote one example, are interpreted of the Messiah in His lowliness and the Messiah in His glory. But “Solomon” is an anthropomorphic representation of Jahve Himself. And all the instances of the occurrence of the name, with one exception, are therefore regarded as an indirect allegorical designation of the God of peace (vid., Norzi under Sol 1:1). And because of its apparently erotic, but in truth mysterious contents, it was a Jewish saying, as Origen and Jerome mention, that the Song should not be studied by any one till he was thirty years of age (nisi quis aetatem sacerdotalis ministerii, id est, tricesimum annum impleverit). Because, according to the traditional Targ. interpretation, it begins with the departure out of Egypt, it forms a part of the liturgy for the eighth day of the Passov. The five Megilloths are arranged in the calendar according to their liturgical use. 
In the church this synagogal allegorizing received a new turn. They saw represented in the Song the mutual love of Christ and His church, and it thus became a mine of sacred mysticism in which men have dug to the present day. Thus Origen explains it in twelve volumes. Bernhard of Clairvaux died (1153) after he had delivered eighty-six sermons on it, and had only reached the end of the second chapter;  and his disciple Gilbert Porretanus carried forward the interpretation in forty-eight sermons only to Sol 5:10, when he died. Perluigi de Palestrina gained by his twenty-nine motettoes on the Song (1584) the honoured name of Principe della Musica. In modern times this allegorico-mystical interpretation is represented in the department of exegesis (Hengst.), sermon (F. W. Krummacher), and poetry (Gustav Jahn), as well as of music (Neukomm's duet:Er und sie), and even of painting (Ludw. von Maydell).
If the Song is to be understood allegorically, then Shulamith is the personification of the congregation of Israel, and mediately of the church. All other interpretations fall below this. Hug (1813) understands by the “beloved” the kingdom of the ten tribes longing after a reunion with the house of David; and Heinr. Aug. Hahn (1852), the Japhetic heathendom. Ludw. Noack (1869) has even changed and modified the readings of the Heb. text, that he might find therein the ballads of a Tirhâka romance, i.e., a series of pictures of the events occurring between Samaria and her Aethiopian lover Tirhâka, of the years (b.c.) 702, 691, and 690. These are the aberrations of individuals. Only one other interpretation recommends itself. Solomon's chairsma and aim was the Chokma. The Peshito places over the Song the superscription חכמת דחכמתא. Is Shulamith, then, the personification of wisdom, like Dante's Beatrice? Rosenmüller (1830) is the most recent representative of this view; we ought then to have in Dante's Convito the key to the allegorical interpretation. He there sings sweet songs of love of his mistress Philosophy. But there is nothing in the description here to show that Shulamith is Wisdom. The one expression, “Thou shalt teach me” (Sol 8:2), warns us against attempting to put Wisdom in the place of the church, as a reversal of the facts of the case.
But if one understands the church to be meant, there yet remains much that is inexplicable. Who are the sixty queens and the eighty concubines (Sol 6:8)? And why are the heroes just sixty (Sol 3:7)? The synagogal and church interpretation, in spite of two thousand years' labour, has yet brought to light no sure results, but only numberless absurdities, especially where the Song describes the lovers according to their members from head to foot and from foot to head. But notwithstanding all this, it is certain that the “great mystery” (Eph 5:32) mirrors itself in the Song. In this respect it resembles the love of Joseph and Zuleikha, often sung by the Arabian poets, which is regarded by the mystics  as a figure of the love of God towards the soul longing for union with Him. Shulamith is a historic personage; not the daughter of Pharaoh, as has been often maintained since the days of Theodore of Mopsuestia (died 429) and Abulfaraj (died 1286), but a country maiden of humble rank, who, by her beauty and by the purity of her soul, filled Solomon with a love for her which drew him away from the wantonness of polygamy, and made for him the primitive idea of marriage, as it is described in Gen 3:23., a self-experienced reality. This experience he here sings, idealizing it after the manner of a poet; i.e., removing the husk of that which is accidental, he goes back to its kernel and its essential nature. We have before us six dramatic figures, each in two divisions, which represent from within the growth of this delightful relation to its conclusion. This sunny glimpse of paradisaical love which Solomon experienced, again became darkened by the insatiableness of passion; but the Song of Songs has perpetuated it, and whilst all other songs of Solomon have disappeared, the providence of God has preserved this one, the crown of them all. It is a protest against polygamy, although only in the measure one might expect from the Mosaic standpoint. For the Tôra recognises, indeed, in its primitive history monogamy as the original form (Mat 19:4-6); but in its legislation, giving up the attempt to abolish polygamy, it is satisfied with its limitation (Deu 17:17).
The Song celebrates paradisaical, but yet only natural love (minne). It stands, however, in the canon of the church, because Solomon is a type of Him of whom it can be said, “a greater than Solomon is here” (Mat 12:12). Referred to Him the antitype, the earthly contents receive a heavenly import and glorification. We see therein the mystery of the love of Christ and His church shadowed forth, not, however, allegorically, but typically. The allegory has to coincide throughout with that which is represented; but the type is always only a type subtractis subtrahendis, and is exceedingly surpassed by the antitype. In this sense Jul. Sturm (1854) has paraphrased the Song under the title of “Zwei Rosen” (two roses) (the typical and the antitypical). When my monograph on the Song appeared (1851), a notice of it in Colani's Revue de Theologie (1852) began with the frivolous remark: “Ce n'est pas la première rêverie de ce genre sur le livre en question; plût à Dieu que ce fût la dernière;” and Hitzig (1855) judged that “such a work might properly have remained unprinted; it represents nothing but a perverse inconsiderate literature which has no conception of scientific judgment and industry.” But this work (long since out of print and now rare) was the fruit of many years of study. The commentary here given is based on it, but does not put it out of date. It broke with the allegorizing interpretation, the untenableness of which appears against his will in Hengstenberg's commentary (1853); it broke also with the theory which regards the poem as a history of Solomon's unsuccessful seductive efforts to gain the Shulamite's affections, a theory which Hitzig (1855) tries to exempt from the necessity of doing violence to the text by arbitrarily increasing the number of speakers and actors in the plot. I certainly succeeded in finding the right key to the interpretation of this work. Zöckler has recognised my book  as presenting “the only correct interpretation of its design and contents.” Kingsbury, author of the notes on the Son in The Speaker's Commentary, has expressed the same judgment. Poets such as Stadelmann (Das Hohelied, ein dramatisches Gedicht = The Song of Songs: a dramatic poem, 1870) and J. Koch, late pastor of St. Mary's in Parchim (died 1873), have recognised in their beautiful German paraphrases my interpretation as natural and in conformity with the text; and for twenty years I have constantly more and more seen that the solution suggested by me is the right and only satisfactory one.
Shulamith is not Pharaoh's daughter. The range of her thoughts is not that of a king's daughter, but of a rustic maiden; she is a stranger among the daughters of Jerusalem, not because she comes from a foreign land, but because she is from the country; she is dark-complexioned, not from the sun of her more southern home, but from the open sunshine to which she has been exposed as the keeper of a vineyard; in body and soul she is born to be a princess, but in reality she is but the daughter of a humble family in a remote part of Galilee; hence the child-like simplicity and the rural character of her thoughts, her joy in the open fields, and her longing after the quiet life of her village home. Solomon appears here in loving fellowship with a woman such as he had not found among a thousand (Ecc 7:28); and although in social rank far beneath him, he raises her to an equality with himself. That which attached her to him is not her personal beauty alone, but her beauty animated and heightened by nobility of soul. She is a pattern of simple devotedness, naive simplicity, unaffected modesty, moral purity, and frank prudence, - a lily of the field, more beautifully adorned than he could claim to be in all his glory. We cannot understand the Song of Songs unless we perceive that it presents before us not only Shulamith's external attractions, but also all the virtues which make her the idea of all that is gentlest and noblest in woman. Her words and her silence, her doing and suffering, her enjoyment and self-denial, her conduct as betrothed, as a bride, and as a wife, her behaviour towards her mother, her younger sister, and her brothers, - all this gives the impression of a beautiful soul in a body formed as it were from the dust of flowers. Solomon raises this child to the rank of queen, and becomes beside this queen as a child. The simple one teaches the wise man simplicity; the humble draws the king down to her level; the pure accustoms the impetuous to self-restraint. Following her, he willingly exchanges the bustle and the outward splendour of court life for rural simplicity, wanders gladly over mountain and meadow if he has only her; with her he is content to live in a lowly cottage. The erotic external side of the poem has thus an ethical background. We have here no “song of loves” (Eze 33:32) having reference to sensual gratification. The rabbinical proverb is right when it utters its threat against him who would treat this Song, or even a single verse of it, as a piece of secular literature. 
The Song transfigures natural but holy love. Whatever in the sphere of the divinely-ordered marriage relation makes love the happiest, firmest bond uniting two souls together, is presented to us here in living pictures. “The Song,” says Herder, “is written as if in Paradise. Adam's song: Thou art my second self! Thou art mine own! echoes in it in speech and interchanging song from end to end.” The place of the book in the canon does not need any further justification; that its reception was favoured also by the supposition that it represented the intercourse between Jahve and the congregation of Israel, may be conjectured indeed, but is not established. The supposition, however, would have been false; for the book is not an allegory, and Solomon is by no means an Allegorumenon of God. But the congregation is truly a bride (Jer 2:2; Isa 62:5), and Solomon a type of the Prince of peace (Isa 9:5; Luk 11:31), and marriage a mystery, viz., as a pattern of the loving relation of God and His Christ to the church (Eph 5:32). The Song has consequently not only a historico-ethical, but also a typico-mystical meaning. But one must be on his guard against introducing again the allegorical interpretation as Soltz (1850) has done, under the misleading title of the typical interpretation. The typical interpretation proceeds on the idea that the type and the antitype do not exactly coincide; the mystical, that the heavenly stamps itself in the earthly, but is yet at the same time immeasurably different from it. Besides, the historico-ethical interpretation is to be regarded as the proper business of the interpreter. But because Solomon is a type (vaticinium reale) of the spiritual David in his glory, and earthly love a shadow of the heavenly, and the Song a part of sacred history and of canonical Scripture, we will not omit here and there to indicate that the love subsisting between Christ and His church shadows itself forth in it.
But the prevailing view which Jacob (1771) established, and which has predominated since Umbreit (1820) and Ewald (1826), is different from ours. According to them, the Song celebrates the victory of the chaste passion of conjugal love. The beloved of Shulamith is a shepherd, and Solomon acts toward her a part like that of Don Juan with Anna, or of Faust with Gretchen. Therefore, of course, his authorship is excluded, although Anton (1773), the second oldest representative of this so-called shepherd hypothesis, supposes that Solomon at a later period of his life recognised his folly, and now here magnanimously praises the fidelity of Shulamith, who had spurned his enticements away from her; and a Jewish interpreter, B. Holländer (1871), following Hezel (1780), supposes that Solomon represents himself as an enticer, only to exhibit the idea of female virtue as triumphing over the greatest seduction. Similarly also Godet (1867),  who, resting on Ewald, sees here a very complicated mystery presented by Solomon himself, and pointing far beyond him: Solomon, the earthly Messiah; Shulamith, the true Israel; the shepherd, Jahve, and as Jahve who is about to come, the heavenly Solomon; the little sisters, heathenism - it is the old allegory, able for everything, only with changed names and a different division of the parts which here comes in again by the back-door of the seduction-history. 
Thus this seduction-history has not put an end to the over-ingenious allegorizing. In one point, however, at least, it has aided in the understanding of the Song. Herder saw in the Song a collection of Solomonic songs of love, which he translated (1778), as the oldest and the most beautiful, from the Orient. But Goethe, who in the Westöst. Divan (1819) praises the Song as the most divine of all love-songs, recognised, after the appearance of Umbreit's Comm., the unity also of the “inexplicably mysterious.”
We are not conscious of any prejudice which makes it impossible for us to do justice to the interpretation to which Umbreit and Ewald gave currency. It abundantly accounts for the reception of the book into the canon, for so interpreted it has a moral motive and aim. And the personality of Solomon has certainly not merely a bright side, which is typical, but also a dark side, which is pregnant with dark issues for his kingdom; it may perhaps be possible that in the Song the latter, and not the former, is brought to view. Then, indeed, the inscription would rest on an error; for that in this case also the Solomonic authorship could be maintained, is an idea which, in the traditional-apologetical interest, mounts up to a faith in the impossible. But the truth goes beyond the tradition; the inscription would then indicate a traditional interpretation which, as is evident from the book itself, does not correspond with its original meaning and aim. “It is clear to every unprejudiced mind,” says Gustav Baur,  “that in Sol 2:10-15; Sol 4:8-15, a different person speaks from the royal wooer; for (1) Solomon only says, 'my friend' Sol 1:15, etc.; while, on the other hand, the shepherd heaps up flattering words of warmest love; (2) Solomon praises only the personal beauty of the woman; the shepherd, the sweet voice, the enchanting look, the warm love, the incorruptible chastity of his beloved; - in short, the former reveals the eye and the sensuousness of the king; the latter, the heart of a man who is animated by the divine flame of true love.” We only ask, meanwhile, whether words such as Sol 4:13 are less sensuous than Sol 4:5, and whether the image of the twin gazelles is not more suitable in the mouth of the shepherd than the comparison of the attractions of Shulamith with the exotic plants of Solomon's garden? “In three passages,” says Godet, “lies open the slender thread which Ewald's penetrating eye discovered under the flowers and leaves which adorn the poem: 'The kings has brought me into his palace' (Sol 1:4); 'I knew not how my heart has brought me to the chariots of a princely people' (Sol 6:12); 'I was a wall, and have found peace before his eyes' (Sol 8:10).” The same critic also finds in several passages an apparent contrariety between Solomon and the shepherd. “Observe,” says he, “e.g., Sol 1:12-13, where the shepherd - whom Shulamith calls her spikenard, and compares to a bunch of flowers on her breast - is placed over against the king, who sits on his divan; or Sol 7:9. where, suddenly interrupting the king, she diverts the words which he speaks concerning herself to her beloved; or Sol 8:7, where, leaning on the arm of her beloved, she expresses her disregard for riches, with which Solomon had sought to purchase her love.” But spikenard is not the figure of the shepherd, not at all the figure of a man; and she who is praised as a “prince's daughter” (Sol 7:2) cannot say (Sol 6:12) that, enticed by curiosity to see the royal train, she was taken prisoner, and now finds herself, against her will, among the daughters of Jerusalem; and he whom she addresses (Sol 8:12) can be no other than he with whom she now finds herself in her parents' home. The course of the exposition will show that the shepherd who is distinguished from Solomon is nothing else than a shadow cast by the person of Solomon.
The Song is a dramatic pastoral. The ancients saw in it a carmen bucolicum mimicum. Laurentius Peträus, in his Heb.-Danish Paraphrase (1640), calls it carmen bucolicum, ἀμοιβαῖον (δραματικόν); George Wachter (1722), an “opera divided into scenic parts.” It acquires the character of a pastoral poem from this, that Shulamith is a shepherdess, that she thinks of Solomon as a shepherd, and that Solomon condescends to occupy the sphere of life and of thought of the shepherdess. It is not properly an idyll, nor yet properly a drama. Not an idyll, because the life-image which such a miniature drawn from life - such, e.g., as the Adon. of Theocritus presents to us - unfolds itself within a brief time without interruption; in the Song, on the other hand, not merely are the places and persons interchanged, but also the times. The whole, however, does not fall into little detached pictures; but there runs through this wreath of figures a love-relation, which embodies itself externally and internally before our eyes, and attains the end of its desire, and shows itself on the summit of this end as one that is not merely sensuous, but moral. The Song is certainly not a theatrical piece:  the separate pieces would necessarily have been longer if the poet had had in view the changes of theatrical scenery. But at all events the theatre is not a Semitic institution, but is of Indo-Persian Greek origin. Jewish poetry attempted the drama only after it began in Alexandrinism  to emulate Greece. Grätz' (1871) polemic against the dramatists is so far justified. But yet we see, as in the Book of Job, so in the Song, the drama in process of formation from the lyric and narrative form of poetry, as it has developed among the Greeks from the lyric, and among the Indians from the epic. In the Book of Job the colloquies are all narrative. In the Song this is never the case;  for the one expression, “answered my beloved, and said to me” (Sol 2:10), is not to be compared with, “and Job answered and said:” the former expression indicates a monologue. And in the “Daughters of Jerusalem” (Job 1:5, etc.) we have already something like the chorus of the Greek drama. The ancient Greek MSS bear involuntary testimony to this dramatic character of the Song. There are several of them which prefix to the separate addresses the names of the persons speaking, ας ἡ νύμφη ὁ νυμφίος. 
And the Aethiopic translation makes five separate pieces, probably, as the Cod. Sinait. shows, after the example of the lxx, which appear as divisions into Acts.
The whole falls into the following six Acts: -
(1.) The mutual affection of the lovers, 1:2-2:7, with the conclusion, “I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem.”
(2.) The mutual seeking and finding of the lovers, 2:8-3:5, with the conclusion, “I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem.”
(3.) The fetching of the bride, and the marriage, 3:6-5:1, beginning with, “Who is this ... ?” and ending with, “Drink and be drunken, beloved.”
(4.) Love scorned, but won again, 5:2-6:9.
(5.) Shulamith the attractively fair but humble princess, 6:10-8:4, beginning with, “Who is this ... ?” and ending with, “I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem.”
(6.) The ratification of the covenant of love in Shulamith's home, Sol 8:5-14, beginning with, “Who is this ... ?”
Zöckler reckons only five acts, for he comprehends Song 5:2-8:4 in one; but he himself confesses its disproportionate length; and the reasons which determine him are invalid; for the analogy of the Book of Job, which, besides, including the prologue and the epilogue, falls into seven formal parts, can prove nothing; and the question, “Who is this?” Sol 6:10, which he interprets as a continuation of the encomium in Sol 6:9, is rather to be regarded, like Sol 3:8; Sol 8:5, as a question with reference to her who is approaching, and as introducing a new act; for the supposition that Sol 6:9 requires to be further explained by a statement of what was included in the “blessing” and the “praising” is unwarranted, since these are ideas requiring no supplement to explain them (Gen 30:13; Psa 41:3; Psa 107:32), and the poet, if he had wished to explain the praise as to its contents, would have done this otherwise (cf. Pro 31:28.) than in a way so fitted to mislead. Rightly, Thrupp (1862) regards Sol 6:10 as the chorus of the daughters of Jerusalem. He divides as follows: (1) The Anticipation, 1:2-2:7; (2) the Awaiting, 2:8-3:5; (3) the Espousal and its Results, 3:6-5:1; (4) the Absence, Sol 5:2-8; (5) the Presence, 5:9-8:4; (6) Love's Triumph, Sol 8:5-12, with the Conclusion, Sol 8:13-14. But how can Sol 5:9 begin a new formal part? It is certainly the reply to Shulamith's adjuration of the daughters of Jerusalem, and not at all the commencement of a new scene, much less of a new act.
In our division into six parts, the separate acts, for the most part necessarily, and in every case without any violence, divide themselves into two scenes each, thus: -
|Act||Scene 1||Scene 2|
|I: 1:2-2:7||Sol 1:2-8||1:9-2:7|
|II: 2:8-3:5||Sol 2:8.||Sol 3:1-5|
|III: 3:6-5:1||Sol 3:6.||4:1-5:1|
|IV: 5:2-6:9||5:2-6:3||Sol 6:4-9|
|VI: Sol 8:5-14||Sol 8:5-7||Sol 8:8-14|
The first scene of the first act I formerly (1851) extended to Sol 1:17, but it reaches only to Sol 1:8; for up to this point Solomon is absent, but with Sol 1:9 he begins to converse with Shulamith, and the chorus is silent - the scene has thus changed. Kingsbury in his translation (1871) rightly places over Sol 1:9 the superscription, “The Entrance of the King.”
The change of scenery is not regulated in accordance with stage decoration, for the Song is not a theatrical piece. 
The first act is played both in the dining-room and in the wine-room appertaining to the women of the royal palace. In the second act, Shulamith is again at home. In the third act, which represents the marriage, the bride makes her entrance into Jerusalem from the wilderness, and what we further then hear occurs during the marriage festival. The locality of the fourth act is Jerusalem, without being more particularly defined. That of the fifth act is the park of Etam, and then Solomon's country house there. And in the sixth act we see the newly-married pair first in the way to Shulem, and then in Shulamith's parental home. In the first half of the dramatic pictures, Shulamith rises to an equality with Solomon; in the second half, Solomon descends to an equality with Shulamith. At the close of the first, Shulamith is at home in the king's palace; at the close of the second, Solomon is at home with her in her Galilean home.
In our monograph on the Song (1851), we believe we have proved that it distinctly bears evidences of its Solomonic origin. The familiarity with nature, the fulness and extent of its geographical and artistic references, the mention made of so many exotic plants and foreign things, particularly of such objects of luxury as the Egyptian horses, point to such an authorship; in common with Ps 72, , it has the multiplicity of images taken from plants; with the Book of Job, the dramatic form; with the Proverbs, manifold allusions to Genesis. If not the production of Solomon, it must at least have been written near his time, since the author of Prov 1-9, , the introduction to the older Book of Proverbs, for the origin of which there is no better defined period than that of Jehoshaphat (909-883 b.c.), and the author or authors of the supplement (Prov 22:17-24:22), reveal an acquaintance with the Song. Ewald also, and Hitzig, although denying that Solomon is the author because it is directed against him, yet see in it a produce of the most flourishing state of the language and of the people; they ascribe it to a poet of the northern kingdom about 950 b.c. Modern Jewish criticism surpasses, however, on the field of O.T. history, the anachronisms of the Tübingen school. As Zunz has recently (Deut. Morgenl. Zeitsch. xxvii.) sought to show that the Book of Leviticus was written about a thousand years after Moses, that there never was a prophet Ezekiel, that the dates of this book are fictitious, etc.; so Grätz attempts to prove that the Song in its Graecising language and Greek customs and symbols bears evidences of the Syro-Macedonian age;  that the poet was acquainted with the idylls of Theocritus and the Greek erotic poets, and, so far as his Israelitish standpoint admitted, imitates them; and that he placed an ideal picture of pure Jewish love over against the immorality of the Alexandrine court and its Hellenistic partisans, particularly of Joseph b. Tobia, the collector of taxes in the time of Ptolemy Euergetes (247-221 b.c.), - a picture in which “the Shepherd,”  now grown into a fixed idea, renders welcome service, in contrast to Solomon, in whom the poet glances at the court of Alexandria. One is thus reminded of Kirschbaum (1833), who hears in Eze 33:5 an echo of Cicero's dixi et salvavi animam, and in the Sol 2:17, a reference to the Bethar of Barcochba. We do not deny the penetration which this chief of Jewish historians has expended on the establishment of his hypothesis; but the same penetration may prove that the Babylon.-Assyr. “syllabaries” of the time of Asurbanipal (667-626) belong to the Greek era, because there occurs therein the word azamillav (knife), and this is the Greek σμίλη; or that the author of Prov 1-9 alludes in Pro 7:23 to Eros and his quivers, and in Pro 9:1 betrays a knowledge of the seven artes liberales. Parallels to the Song are found wherever sensuous love is sung, also in the Pastoralia of Longus, without the least dependence of one author upon another. And if such a relation is found between Theocritus and the Song, then it might rather be concluded that he became acquainted with it in Alexandria from Jewish literates,  than that the author of the Song has imitated Greek models, as Immanuel Romi, the Arabians and Dante; besides, it is not at all the Song lying before us which Grätz expounds, but the Song modified by violent corrections of all kinds, and fitted to the supposed tendency. Thus he changes (Sol 1:3) שׁמניך (thine unguent) into בּשׂמיך, and תּוּרק שׁמן (ointment poured forth) into תּמרוּק שׁמך. - Shulamith says this of her beautiful shepherd, and what follows (Sol 1:4) the damsels say to him; he changes משׁכני into משׁכנו, הביאני into הביאנו, and then remarks: “Shulamith mentions it as to the praise of her beloved, that the damsels, attracted by his beauty, love him, and say to him, 'Draw us, we will run after thee; though the king brought us into his changers, we would rejoice only with thee, and prefer thee to the king.' “ His too confident conjectural criticism presents us with imaginary words, such as (Sol 3:10) אהבים (ebony); with unfortunate specimens of style, such as (Sol 6:10), “Thou hast made me weak, O daughter of Aminadab;” and with unheard-of renderings, such as (Sol 8:5), “There where thy mother has wounded thee;” for he supposes that Shulamith is chastised by her mother because of her love. This Song is certainly not written by Solomon, nor yet does it date from the Syro-Macedonian time, but was invented in Breslau in the 19th century of our era!
Grätz (1871) has placed yet farther down than the Song the Book of Ecclesiastes, in which he has also found Graecisms; the tyrannical king therein censured is, as he maintains, Herod the Great, and the last three verses (Ecc 12:12-14) are not so much the epilogue of the book as that of the Hagiographa which closes with it. Certainly, if this was first formed by the decision of the conference in Jerusalem about 65, and of the synod in Jabne about 90, and the reception of the Books of Ecclesiastes and the Song was carried not without controversy, then it lies near to regard these two books as the most recent, originating not long before. But the fact is this: We learn from Jud-ajim iii. 5, iv. 6, cf. Edujoth v. 3, that in the decade before the destruction of Jerusalem the saying was current among the disciples of Hillel and Shammai, that “all Holy Scriptures (Kethubîm) pollute the hands;”  but that the question whether Ecclesiastes is included was answered in the negative by the school of Shammai, and in the affirmative by the school of Hillel - of the Song nothing is here said. But we learn further, that several decades later the Song also was comprehended in this controversy along with Ecclesiastes; and in an assembly of seventy-two doctors of the law in Jabne, that decree, “all Holy Scriptures (Kethubîm) pollute the hands,” was extended to Ecclesiastes and the Song. R. Akiba (or some one else) asserted, in opposition to those who doubted the canonicity of the Song, “No day in the whole history of the world is so much worth as that in which the Song of Songs was given; for all the Kethubîm are holy, but the Song of Songs is most holy.” From this Grätz draws the conclusion that the Hagiographa was received as canonical for the first time about 65, and that its canon was finally fixed so as to include Ecclesiastes and the Song, not till about 90; but this conclusion rests on the false supposition that “Holy Scriptures” (Kethubîm) is to be understood exclusive of the Hagiographa, which is just as erroneous as that Sephârim designates the prophets, with the exclusion of the Hagiographa. Holy Kethubîm is a general designation, without distinction, of all the canonical books, e.g., Bathra i. 6, and Sephârim in like manner, with the exception only of the Tôra, Megilla i. 8, 333. 1, Shabbath 115b. And it rests on a misapprehension of the question discussed: the question was not whether Ecclesiastes and the Song should be admitted, but whether they had been justly admitted, and whether the same sacred character should be ascribed to them as to the other holy writings; for in Bathra 14b-15a (without a parallel in the Palest. Talmud) the enriching of the canon by the addition of the Books of Isaiah, Proverbs, the Song, and Ecclesiastes, is ascribed to the Hezekiah-Collegium (Pro 21:5), and thus is dated back in the period before the rise of the great synagogue. That Philo does not cite the Song proves nothing; he cites none of the five Megilloth. But Josephus (C. Ap. 1, 8; cf. Euseb. H. E. iii. 10), since he enumerates five books of the Mosaic law, thirteen books of prophetic history and prediction, and four books of a hymno-ethical character, certainly means by these four the Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the Song, which in the Alexandrine canon stand thus connected. His work, Cont. Apion, was not indeed written till about 100 a.d.; but Josephus there speaks of a fact which had existed for centuries. The Song and Ecclesiastes formed part of the sacred books among the Hellenists as well as among the Palestinian Jews of the first Christian century; but, as those Talmud notices show, not without opposition. The Old Testament canon, as well as that of the New Testament, had then also its Antilegomena. These books were opposed not because of their late origin, but because their contents apparently militated against the truth of revelation and the spiritual nature of revealed religion. Similar doubts, though not so strong and lasting, were also uttered with reference to Proverbs, Esther, and Ezekiel.
The history of the exposition of this book is given in detail by Christian D. Ginsburg in The Song of Songs, London 1857; and by Zöckler in “The Song,” forming part of Lange's Bibelwerk, 1868, and supplemented by an account of the English interpretations and translations in the Anglo-American translation of this work by Green. Zunz, in the preface to Rebenstein's (Bernstein's) Lied der Lieder, 1834, has given an historical account of the Jewish expositors. Steinschneider's המזכיר (Heb. Bibliograph. 1869, p. 110ff.) presents a yet fuller account of the Jewish commentaries. The Münich royal library contains a considerable number of these, - e.g., by Moses b. Tibbon, Shemariah, Immanuel Romi, Moses Calais (who embraced Christianity). Our commentary presents various new contributions to the history of the interpretation of this book. No other book of Scripture has been so much abused, by an unscientific spiritualizing, and an over-scientific unspiritual treatment, as this has. Luther says, at the close of his exposition: Quodsi erro, veniam meretur primus labor, nam aliorum cogitationes longe plus absurditatis habent. To inventory the maculatur of these absurdities is a repulsive undertaking, and, in the main, a useless labour, from which we absolve ourselves.
EXPOSITION OF THE SONG OF SONGS. edit
Chap. 1 edit
Verse 1 edit
The title of the book at once denotes that it is a connected whole, and is the work of one author. - Sol 1:1. The Song of Songs, composed by Solomon. The genitival connection, “Song of Songs,” cannot here signify the Song consisting of a number of songs, any more than calling the Bible “The Book of books” leads us to think of the 24 + 27 canonical books of which it consists. Nor can it mean “one of Solomon's songs;” the title, as it here stands, would then be the paraphrase of שׁיר שׁירי שׁ, chosen for the purpose of avoiding the redoubled genitives; but “one of the songs” must rather have been expressed by שׁיר משּׁירי. It has already been rightly explained in the Midrash: “the most praiseworthy, most excellent, most highly-treasured among the songs.” The connection is superl. according to the sense (cf. ἄῤῥητα ἀῤῥήτων of Sophocles), and signifies that song which, as such, surpasses the songs one and all of them; as “servant of servants,” Gen 9:25, denotes a servant who is such more than all servants together. The plur. of the second word is for this superl. sense indispensable (vid., Dietrich's Abhand. zur hebr. Gramm. p. 12), but the article is not necessary: it is regularly wanting where the complex idea takes the place of the predicate, Gen 9:25; Exo 29:37, or of the inner member of a genitival connection of words, Jer 3:19; but it is also wanting in other places, as Eze 16:7 and Ecc 1:2; Ecc 12:8, where the indeterminate plur. denotes not totality, but an unlimited number; here it was necessary, because a definite Song - that, namely, lying before us - must be designated as the paragon of songs. The relative clause, “asher lishlōmō,” does not refer to the single word “Songs” (Gr. Venet. τῶν τοῦ), as it would if the expression were שׁיר מהשּׁ, but to the whole idea of “the Song of Songs.” A relative clause of similar formation and reference occurs at 1Ki 4:2 : “These are the princes, asher lo, which belonged to him (Solomon).” They who deny the Solomonic authorship usually explain: The Song of Songs which concerns or refers to Solomon, and point in favour of this interpretation to lxx B. ὃ ἐστι Σαλ., which, however, is only a latent genit., for which lxx A. τῷ Σαλ. Lamed may indeed introduce the reference of a writing, as at Jer 23:9; but if the writing is more closely designated as a “Song,” “Psalm,” and the like, then Lamed with the name of a person foll. is always the Lamed auctoris; in this case the idea of reference to, as e.g., at Isa 1:1, cf. 1Ki 5:13, is unequivocally expressed by על. We shall find that the dramatized history which we have here, or as we might also say, the fable of the melodrama and its dress, altogether correspond with the traits of character, the favourite turns, the sphere of vision, and the otherwise well-known style of authorship peculiar to Solomon. We may even suppose that the superscription was written by the author, and thus by Solomon himself. For in the superscription of the Proverbs he is surnamed “son of David, king of Israel,” and similarly in Ecclesiastes. But he who entitles him merely “Solomon” is most probably himself. On the other hand, that the title is by the author himself, is not favoured by the fact that instead of the שׁ, everywhere else used in the book, the fuller form asher is employed. There is the same reason for this as for the fact that Jeremiah in his prophecies always uses asher, but in the Lamentations interchanges שׁ with asher. This original demonstrative שׁ is old-Canaanitish, as the Phoenician אש, arrested half-way toward the form asher, shows.
In the Book of Kings it appears as a North Palest. provincialism, to the prose of the pre-exilian literature it is otherwise foreign; but the pre-exilian shir and kinah (cf. also Job 19:29) make use of it as an ornament. In the post-exilian literature it occurs in poetry (Psa 122:3, etc.) and in prose (1Ch 5:20; 1Ch 27:27); in Ecclesiastes it is already a component part of the rabbinism in full growth. In a pre-exilian book-title שׁ in place of asher is thus not to be expected. On the other hand, in the Song itself it is no sign of a post-exilian composition, as Grätz supposes. The history of the language and literature refutes this.
Verse 2 edit
From these words with which as a solo the first strophe begins:
Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth,
We at once perceive that she who here speaks is only one of many among whom Solomon's kisses are distributed; for min is partitive, as e.g., Exo 16:27 (cf. Jer 48:32 and Isa 16:9), with the underlying phrase נשׁיקה נשׁק, osculum osculari = figere, jungere, dare. Nashak properly means to join to each other and to join together, particularly mouth to mouth. פּיהוּ is the parallel form of פּיו, and is found in prose as well as in poetry; it is here preferred for the sake of the rhythm. Böttcher prefers, with Hitzig, ישׁקני (“let him give me to drink”); but “to give to drink with kisses” is an expression unsupported.
In line 2 the expression changes into an address:
For better is thy love than wine.
Instead of “thy love,” the lxx render “thy breasts,” for they had before them the word written defectively as in the traditional text, and read דּדּיך. Even granting that the dual dadayim or dadiym could be used in the sense of the Greek μαστοί (Rev 1:13), of the breasts of a man (for which Isa 32:12, Targ., furnishes no sufficient authority); yet in the mouth of a woman it were unseemly, and also is itself absurd as the language of praise. But, on the other hand, that דּדיך is not the true reading (“for more lovely - thus he says to me - are,” etc.), R. Ismael rightly says, in reply to R. Akiba, Aboda zara 29b, and refers to שׁמניך following (Sol 1:3), which requires the mas. for דדיך. Rightly the Gr. Venet. οἱ σοὶ ἔρωτες, for דּודים is related to אהבח, almost as ἔρως to ἀγάπη, Minne to Liebe. It is a plur. like חיּים, which, although a pluraletantum, is yet connected with the plur. of the pred. The verbal stem דוד is an abbreviated reduplicative stem (Ewald, §118. 1); the root דו appears to signify “to move by thrusts or pushes” (vid., under Psa 42:5); of a fluid, “to cause to boil up,” to which the word דּוּד, a kitchen-pot, is referred.
It is the very same verbal stem from which דּיד (David), the beloved, and the name of the foundress of Carthage, דּידה ( = דּידון) Minna, is derived. The adj. tov appears here and at 3a twice in its nearest primary meaning, denoting that which is pleasant to the taste and (thus particularly in Arab.) to the smell.
Verse 3 edit
This comparison suaves prae vino, as well as that which in line 3 of the pentastich, Sol 1:3,
To smell thy ointments are sweet shows that when this song is sung wine is presented and perfumes are sprinkled; but the love of the host is, for those who sing, more excellent than all. It is maintained that ריח signifies fragrance emitted, and not smell. Hence Hengst., Hahn, Hölem., and Zöck. explain: in odour thy ointments are sweet. Now the words can certainly, after Jos 22:10; Job 32:4; 1Ki 10:23, mean “sweet in (of) smell;” but in such cases the word with Lamed of reference naturally stands after that to which it gives the nearer reference, not as here before it. Therefore Hengst.: ad odorem unguentorem tuorum quod attinet bonus est, but such giving prominence to the subject and attraction (cf. 1Sa 2:4; Job 15:20) exclude one another; the accentuation correctly places לריה out of the gen. connection. Certainly this word, like the Arab. ryḥ, elsewhere signifies odor, and the Hiph. הריח (araḥ) odorari; but why should not ריח be also used in the sense of odoratus, since in the post-bibl. Heb. הריח חושׁ means the sense of smell, and also in Germ. “riechen” means to emit fragrance as well as to perceive fragrance? We explain after Gen 2:9, where Lamed introduces the sense of sight, as here the sense of smell. Zöckl. and others reply that in such a case the word would have been לריח; but the art. is wanting also at Gen 2:9 (cf. Sol 3:6), and was not necessary, especially in poetry, which has the same relation to the art. as to asher, which, wherever practicable, is omitted.
Thus in line 4:
An ointment poured forth is thy name.
By “thy ointments,” line 3, spices are meant, by which the palace was perfumed; but the fragrance of which, as line 4 says, is surpassed by the fragrance of his name. שׁם (name) and שׁמן (fragrance) form a paranomasia by which the comparison is brought nearer Ecc 7:1. Both words are elsewhere mas.; but sooner than שׁם, so frequently and universally mas. (although its plur. is שׁמות, but cf. אבות), שׁמן may be used as fem., although a parallel example is wanting (cf. devǎsh, mōr, nōphěth, kěmāh, and the like, which are constantly mas.). Ewald therefore translates שמן תורק as a proper name: “O sweet Salbenduft” Fragrance of Ointment; and Böttcher sees in turǎk a subst. in the sense of “sprinkling” [Spreng-Oel]; but a name like “Rosenoel” [oil of roses] would be more appropriately formed, and a subst. form תורק is, in Heb. at least, unexampled (for neither תּוּגה nor תּוּבל, in the name Tubal-Cain, is parallel). Fürst imagines “a province in Palestine where excellent oil was got,” called Turak; “Turkish” Rosenöl recommends itself, on the contrary, by the fact of its actual existence. Certainly less is hazarded when we regard shěměn, as here treated exceptionally, as fem.; thus, not: ut unguentum nomen tuum effunditur, which, besides, is unsuitable, since one does not empty out or pour out a name; but: unguentum quod effunditur (Hengst., Hahn, and others), an ointment which is taken out of its depository and is sprinkled far and wide, is thy name. The harsh expression שׁמן מוּרק is intentionally avoided; the old Heb. language is not φιλομέτοχος (fond of participles); and, besides, מורק sounds badly with מרק, to rub off, to wash away. Perhaps, also, יוּרק שׁמן is intentionally avoided, because of the collision of the weak sounds n and j. The name Shēm is derived from the verb shāmā, to be high, prominent, remarkable: whence also the name for the heavens (vid., under Psa 8:2). That attractive charm (lines 2, 3), and this glory (line 4), make him, the praised, an object of general love, line 5, Sol 1:3 :
Therefore virgins love thee.
This “therefore” reminds us of Ps 45. עלמות (sing. Isa 7:14), from עלם (Arab.), ghalima, pubescere, are maidens growing to maturity. The intrans. form אהבוּך, with transitive signification, indicates a pathos. The perf. is not to be translated dilexerunt, but is to be judged of according to Gesen. §126. 3: they have acquired love to thee (= love thee), as the ἠγάπησάν σε of the Greek translators is to be understood. The singers themselves are the evidence of the existence of this love.
With these words the first pentastich of the table-song terminates. The mystical interpretation regards it as a song of praise and of loving affection which is sung to Christ the King, the fairest of the children of men, by the church which is His own. The Targum, in line first, thinks of the “mouth to mouth” [[[Bible_(King_James)/Numbers|Num 12:8]]] in the intercourse of Moses with God. Evidence of divine love is also elsewhere thought of as a kiss: the post-bibl. Heb. calls the gentlest death the death בנשׁיקה, i.e., by which God takes away the soul with a kiss.
Verse 4 edit
The second pentastich also begins with a solo: 4 Draw me, so will we run after thee.
All recent interpreters (except Böttcher) translate, like Luther, “Draw me after thee, so we run.” Thus also the Targ., but doubtfully: Trahe nos post te et curremus post viam bonitatis tuae. But the accentuation which gives Tiphcha to משׁ requires the punctuation to be that adopted by the Peshito and the Vulg., and according to which the passage is construed by the Greeks (except, perhaps, by the Quinta): Draw me, so will we, following thee, run (vid., Dachselt, Biblia Accentuata, p. 983 s.). In reality, this word needs no complement: of itself it already means, one drawing towards, or to himself; the corresponding (Arab.) masak signifies, prehendere prehensumque tenere; the root is מש, palpare, contrectare. It occurs also elsewhere, in a spiritual connection, as the expression of the gentle drawing of love towards itself (Hos 11:4; Jer 31:3); cf. ἑλκύειν, Joh 6:44; Joh 12:32. If one connects “after thee” with “draw me,” then the expression seems to denote that a certain violence is needed to bring the one who is drawn from her place; but if it is connected with “we will run,” then it defines the desire to run expressed by the cohortative, more nearly than a willing obedience or following. The whole chorus, continuing the solo, confesses that there needs only an indication of his wish, a direction given, to make those who here speak eager followers of him whom they celebrate.
In what follows, this interchange of the solo and the unisono is repeated: 4b If the king has brought me into his chambers, So will we exult and rejoice in thee. We will praise thy love more than wine! Uprightly have they loved thee.
The cohortative נרוּצה (we will run) was the apodosis imperativi; the cohortatives here are the apodosis perfecti hypothetici. “Suppose that this has happened,” is oftener expressed by the perf. (Psa 57:7; Pro 22:29; Pro 25:16); “suppose that this happens,” by the fut. (Job 20:24; Ewald, §357b). חדרי are the interiora domus; the root word hhādǎr, as the Arab. khadar shows, signifies to draw oneself back, to hide; the hhěděr of the tent is the back part, shut off by a curtain from the front space. Those who are singing are not at present in this innermost chamber. But if the king brings one of them in (הביא, from בּוא, introire, with acc. loci), then - they all say - we will rejoice and be glad in thee. The cohortatives are better translated by the fut. than by the conjunctive (exultemus); they express as frequently not what they then desire to do, but what they then are about to do, from inward impulse, with heart delight. The sequence of ideas, “exult” and “rejoice,” is not a climax descendens, but, as Psa 118:24, etc., an advance from the external to the internal, - from jubilation which can be feigned, to joy of heart which gives it truth; for שׂמח - according to its root signification: to be smoothed, unwrinkled, to be glad - means to be of a joyful, bright, complaisant disposition; and גּיל, cogn. חיל, to turn (wind) oneself, to revolve, means conduct betokening delight. The prep. ב in verbs of rejoicing, denotes the object on account of which, and in which, one has joy. Then, if admitted into the closest neighbourhood of the king, they will praise his love more than wine. זכר denotes to fix, viz., in the memory; Hiph.: to bring to remembrance, frequently in the way of praise, and thus directly equivalent to celebrare, e.g., Ps. 45:18. The wine represents the gifts of the king, in contradistinction to his person. That in inward love he gives himself to them, excels in their esteem all else he gives. For, as the closing line expresses, “uprightly they love thee,” - viz. they love thee, i.e., from a right heart, which seeks nothing besides, and nothing with thee; and a right mind, which is pleased with thee, and with nothing but thee. Heiligstedt, Zöckler, and others translate: with right they love thee. But the pluralet. מישׁרים (from מישׁר, for which the sing. מישׁור occurs) is an ethical conception (Pro 1:3), and signifies, not: the right of the motive, but: the rightness of the word, thought, and act (Pro 23:16; Psa 17:2; Psa 58:2); thus, not: jure; but: recte, sincere, candide. Hengst., Thrupp, and others, falsely render this word like the lxx, Aquil., Symm., Theod., Targ., Jerome, Venet., and Luther, as subject: rectitudes abstr. for concr. = those who have rectitude, the upright. Hengstenberg's assertion, that the word never occurs as in adv., is set aside by a glance at Psa 58:2; Psa 75:3; and, on the other hand, there is no passage in which it is sued as abstr. pro concr. It is here, as elsewhere, an adv. acc. for which the word בּמישׁרים might also be used.
The second pentastich closes similarly with the first, which ended with “love thee.” What is there said of this king, that the virgins love him, is here more generalized; for diligunt te is equivalent to diligeris (cf. Sol 8:1, Sol 8:7). With these words the table-song ends. It is erotic, and yet so chaste and delicate, - it is sensuous, and yet so ethical, that here, on the threshold, we are at once surrounded as by a mystical cloudy brightness. But how is it to be explained that Solomon, who says (Pro 27:2), “Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth,” begins this his Song of Songs with a song in praise of himself? It is explained from this, that here he celebrates an incident belonging to the happy beginning of his reign; and for him so far fallen into the past, although not to be forgotten, that what he was and what he now is are almost as two separate persons.
Verse 5 edit
After this choral song, Shulamith, who has listened to the singers not without being examined by their inquisitive glances as a strange guest not of equal rank with them, now speaks: 5 Black am I, yet comely, ye daughters of Jerusalem, As the tents of Kedar, as the hangings of Solomon.
From this, that she addresses the ladies of the palace as “daughters of Jerusalem” (Kerı̂ ירושׁלים, a du. fractus; like עפרין for עפרון, 2Ch 13:19), it is to be concluded that she, although now in Jerusalem, came from a different place. She is, as will afterwards appear, from Lower Galilee; - and it may be remarked, in the interest of the mystical interpretation, that the church, and particularly her first congregations, according to the prophecy, was also Galilean, for Nazareth and Capernaum are their original seats; - and if Shulamith is a poetico-mystical Mashal or emblem, then she represents the synagogue one day to enter into the fellowship of Solomon - i.e., of the son of David, and the daughters of Jerusalem, i.e., the congregation already believing on the Messiah. Yet we confine ourselves to the nearest sense, in which Solomon relates a self-experience. Shulamith, the lightly esteemed, cannot boast that she is so ruddy and fair of countenance as they who have just sung how pleasant it is to be beloved by this king; but yet she is not so devoid of beauty as not to venture to love and hope to be loved: “Black am I, yet comely.” These words express humility without abjectness. She calls herself “black,” although she is not so dark and unchangeably black as an “Ethiopian” (Jer 13:23). The verb שׁחר has the general primary idea of growing dark, and signifies not necessarily soot-blackness (modern Arab. shuhwar, soot), but blackness more or less deep, as שׁחר, the name of the morning twilight, or rather the morning grey, shows; for (Arab.) saḥar denotes the latter, as distinguished from (Arab.) fajr, the morning twilight (vid., under Isa 14:12; Isa 47:11). She speaks of herself as a Beduin who appears to herself as (Arab.) sawda, black, and calls the inhabitants of the town (Arab.) ḥawaryyat (cute candidas). The Vav we have translated “yet” (“yet comely”); it connects the opposite, which exists along with the blackness. נאוה is the fem. of the adj. נאוה = נאוה = נאוי, which is also formed by means of the doubling of the third stem-letter of נאה = נאו, נאי (to bend forward, to aim; to be corresponding to the aim, conformable, becoming, beautiful), e.g., like רענן, to be full of sap, green. Both comparisons run parallel to nigra et bella; she compares on the one hand the tents of Kedar, and on the other the tapestry of Solomon. אהל signifies originally, in general, the dwelling-place, as בּית the place where one spends the night; these two words interchange: ohel is the house of the nomad, and baith is the tent of him who is settled. קדר (with the Tsere, probably from (Arab.) ḳadar, to have ability, be powerful, though of after the Heb. manner, as Theodoret explains and Symm. also translates: σκοτασμός, from (Heb.) Kadar, atrum esse) is the name of a tribe of North. Arab. Ishmaelites (Gen 25:13) whom Pliny speaks of (Cedraei in his Hist. Nat. Sol 5:11), but which disappeared at the era of the rise of Islam; the Karaite Jefeth uses for it the word (Arab.) Ḳarysh, for he substitutes the powerful Arab tribe from which Muhammed sprung, and rightly remarks: “She compares the colour of her skin to the blackness of the hair tents of the Koreishites,” even to the present day the Beduin calls his tent his “hair-house” (bêt wabar, or, according to a more modern expression, bêt sa'r, שׂער בּית); for the tents are covered with cloth made of the hair of goats, which are there mostly black-coloured or grey. On the one hand, dark-coloured as the tents of the Kedarenes, she may yet, on the other hand, compare herself to the beautiful appearance of the יריעות of Solomon. By this word we will have to think of a pleasure-tent or pavilion for the king; pavillon (softened from Lat. papilio) is a pleasure-tent spread out like the flying butterfly. This Heb. word could certainly also mean curtains for separating a chamber; but in the tabernacle and the temple the curtains separating the Most Holy from the Holy Place were not so designated, but are called פּרכת and מסך; and as with the tabernacle, so always elsewhere, יריעות (from ירע, to tremble, to move hither and thither) is the name of the cloths or tapestry which formed the sides of the tent (Isa 54:2); of the tent coverings, which were named in parall. with the tents themselves as the clothing of their framework (Hab 3:7; Jer 4:20; Jer 10:20; Jer 49:29). Such tent hangings will thus also be here meant; precious, as those described Ex 26 and 36, and as those which formed the tabernacle on Zion (2 Sam 7; ; cf. 1Ch 17:1) before the erection of the temple. Those made in Egypt were particularly prized in ancient times.
Verse 6 edit
Shulamith now explains, to those who were looking upon her with inquisitive wonder, how it is that she is swarthy: 6a Look not on me because I am black, Because the sun has scorched me.
If the words were בי (תּראינה) אל־תּראוּ, then the meaning would be: look not at me, stare not at me. But אל־תּראני, with שׁ (elsewhere כּי) following, means: Regard me not that I am blackish (subnigra); the second שׁ is to be interpreted as co-ordin. with the first (that ... that), or assigning a reason, and that objectively (for). We prefer, with Böttch., the former, because in the latter case we would have had שׁהשׁמשׁ. The quinqueliterum שׁחרחרת signifies, in contradistinction to שׁחור, that which is black here and there, and thus not altogether black. This form, as descriptive of colour, is diminutive; but since it also means id quod passim est, if the accent lies on passim, as distinguished from raro, it can be also taken as increasing instead of diminishing, as in יפיפה, הפכפּך. The lxx trans. παρέβλεπσέ (Symm. παρανέβλεπσέ) με ὁ ἣλιος: the sun has looked askance on me. But why only askance? The Venet. better: κατεῖδέ με; but that is too little. The look is thought of as scorching; wherefore Aquila: συνέκαυσέ με, it has burnt me; and Theodotion: περιέφρυξέ με, it has scorched me over and ov. שׁזף signifies here not adspicere (Job 3:9; Job 41:10) so much as adurere. In this word itself (cogn. שׁדף; Arab. sadaf, whence asdaf, black; cf. דּעך and זעך, Job 17:1), the looking is thought of as a scorching; for the rays of the eye, when they fix upon anything, gather themselves, as it were, into a focus. Besides, as the Scriptures ascribe twinkling to the morning dawn, so it ascribes eyes to the sun (2Sa 12:11), which is itself as the eye of the heavens.
The poet delicately represents Shulamith as regarding the sun as fem. Its name in Arab. and old Germ. is fem., in Heb. and Aram. for the most part mas. My lady the sun, she, as it were, says, has produced on her this swarthiness.
She now says how it has happened that she is thus sunburnt: 6b My mother's sons were angry with me, Appointed me as keeper of the vineyards - Mine own vineyard have I not kept.
If “mother's sons” is the parallel for “brothers” (אחי), then the expressions are of the same import, e.g., Gen 27:29; but if the two expressions stand in apposition, as Deut. 13:76, then the idea of the natural brother is sharpened; but when “mother's sons” stands thus by itself alone, then, after Lev 18:9, it means the relationship by one of the parents alone, as “father's wife” in the language of the O.T. and also 1Co 5:5 is the designation of a step-mother. Nowhere is mention made of Shulamith's father, but always, as here, only of her mother, Sol 3:4; Sol 8:2; Sol 6:9; and she is only named without being introduced as speaking. One is led to suppose that Shulamith's own father was dead, and that her mother had been married again; the sons by the second marriage were they who ruled in the house of their mother. These brothers of Shulamith appear towards the end of the melodrama as rigorous guardians of their youthful sister; one will thus have to suppose that their zeal for the spotless honour of their sister and the family proceeded from an endeavour to accustom the fickle or dreaming child to useful activity, but not without step-brotherly harshness. The form נחרוּ, Ewald, §193c, and Olsh. p. 593, derive from חרר, the Niph. of which is either נחר or נחר (= נחרר), Gesen. §68, An. 5; but the plur. of this נחר should, according to rule, have been נחרוּ (cf. however, נחלוּ, profanantur, Eze 7:24); and what is more decisive, this נחר from חרר everywhere else expresses a different passion from that of anger; Böttch. §1060 (2, 379). חרה is used of the burning of anger; and that נחרוּ (from נחרה = נחרה) can be another form for נחרוּ, is shown, e.g., by the interchange of אחרוּ and אחרוּ; the form נחרוּ, like נחלוּ, Amo 6:6, resisted the bringing together of the ח and the half guttural ר. Něhěrā (here as Isa 41:11; Isa 45:24) means, according to the original, mid. signif. of the Niph., to burn inwardly, ἀναφλέγεσθαι = ὀργίζεσθαι. Shulamith's address consists intentionally of clauses with perfects placed together: she speaks with childlike artlessness, and not “like a book;” in the language of a book, וישׂמוּני would have been used instead of שׂמני. But that she uses נטרה (from נטר, R. טר = τηρεῖν; cf. Targ. Gen 37:11 with Luk 2:51), and not נחרה, as they were wont to say in Judea, after Pro 27:18, and after the designation of the tower for the protection of the flocks by the name of “the tower of the nōtsrīm” the watchmen, 2Ki 17:9, shows that the maid is a Galilean, whose manner of speech is Aramaizing, and if we may so say, platt-Heb. (= Low Heb.), like the Lower Saxon plattdeutsch. Of the three forms of the particip. נטרה, נוטרה, נוטרת, we here read the middle one, used subst. (Ewald, §188b), but retaining the long ē (ground-form, nâṭir). The plur. את־הךּ does not necessarily imply that she had several vineyards to keep, it is the categ. plur. with the art. designating the genus; custodiens vineas is a keeper of a vineyard. But what kind of vineyard, or better, vine-garden, is that which she calls שׁלּי כּרמי, i.e., meam ipsius vineam? The personal possession is doubly expressed; shělli is related to cǎrmī as a nearer defining apposition: my vineyard, that which belongs to me (vid., Fr. Philippi's Status constr. pp. 112-116). Without doubt the figure refers to herself given in charge to be cared for by herself: vine-gardens she had kept, but her own vine-garden, i.e., her own person, she had not kept. Does she indicate thereby that, in connection with Solomon, she has lost herself, with all that she is and has? Thus in 1851 I thought; but she certainly seeks to explain why she is so sunburnt. She intends in this figurative way to say, that as the keeper of a vineyard she neither could keep nor sought to keep her own person. In this connection cǎarmī, which by no means = the colourless memet ipsam, is to be taken as the figure of the person in its external appearance, and that of its fresh-blooming attractive appearance which directly accords with כּרם, since from the stem-word כּרם (Arab.), karuma, the idea of that which is noble and distinguished is connected with this designation of the planting of vines (for כּרם, Arab. karm, cf. karmat, of a single vinestock, denotes not so much the soil in which the vines are planted, as rather the vines themselves): her kěrěm is her (Arab.) karamat, i.e., her stately attractive appearance. If we must interpret this mystically then, supposing that Shulamith is the congregation of Israel moved at some future time with love to Christ, then by the step-brothers we think of the teachers, who after the death of the fathers threw around the congregation the fetters of their human ordinances, and converted fidelity to the law into a system of hireling service, in which all its beauty disappeared. Among the allegorists, Hengstenberg here presents the extreme of an interpretation opposed to what is true and fine.
Verse 7 edit
These words (Sol 1:5-6) are addressed to the ladies of the palace, who look upon her with wonder. That which now follows is addressed to her beloved: 7 O tell me, thou whom my soul loveth: where feedest thou? Where causest thou it (thy flock) to lie down at noon? Among the flocks of thy companions!
The country damsel has no idea of the occupation of a king. Her simplicity goes not beyond the calling of a shepherd as of the fairest and the highest. She thinks of the shepherd of the people as the shepherd of sheep. Moreover, Scripture also describes governing as a tending of sheep; and the Messiah, of whom Solomon is a type, is specially represented as the future Good Shepherd. If now we had to conceive of Solomon as present from the beginning of the scene, then here in Sol 1:7 would Shulamith say that she would gladly be alone with him, far away from so many who are looking on her with open eyes; and, indeed, in some country place where alone she feels at home. The entreaty “O tell me” appears certainly to require (cf. Gen 37:19) the presence of one to whom she addresses herself. But, on the other hand, the entreaty only asks that he should let her know where he is; she longs to know where his occupation detains him, that she may go out and seek him. Her request is thus directed toward the absent one, as is proved by Sol 1:8. The vocat., “O thou whom my soul loveth,” is connected with אתּה, which lies hid in הגּידה (“inform thou”). It is a circumlocution for “beloved” (cf. Neh 13:26), or “the dearly beloved of my soul” (cf. Jer 12:7). The entreating request, indica quaeso mihi ubi pascis, reminds one of Gen 37:16, where, however, ubi is expressed by איפה, while here by איכה, which in this sense is hap leg For ubi = איפה, is otherwise denoted only by איכה (איכו), 2Ki 6:13, and usually איּה, North Palest., by Hosea אהי. This איכה elsewhere means quomodo, and is the key-word of the Kîna, as איך is of the Mashal (the satire); the Song uses for it, in common with the Book of Esther, איככה. In themselves כה and כה, which with אי preceding, are stamped as interrog. in a sense analogous to hic, ecce, κεῖνος, and the like; the local, temporal, polite sense rests only on a conventional usus loq., Böttch. §530. She wishes to know where he feeds, viz., his flock, where he causes it (viz., his flock) to lie down at mid-day. The verb רבץ (R. רב, with the root signif. of condensation) is the proper word for the lying down of a four-footed animal: complicatis pedibus procumbere (cubare); Hiph. of the shepherd, who causes the flock to lie down; the Arab. rab'a is the name for the encampment of shepherds. The time for encamping is the mid-day, which as the time of the double-light, i.e., the most intense light in its ascending and descending, is called צהרים. שׁלּמה, occurring only here, signifies nam cur, but is according to the sense = ut ne, like למּה אשׁר, Dan 1:10 (cf. Ezr 7:23); למּה, without Dag. forte euphone., is, with the single exception of Job 7:20, always milra, while with the Dag. it is milel, and as a rule, only when the following word begins with העא carries forward the tone to the ult. Shulamith wishes to know the place where her beloved feeds and rests his flock, that she might not wander about among the flocks of his companions seeking and asking for him. But what does כּעטיה mean? It is at all events the part. act. fem. of עטי which is here treated after the manner of the strong verb, the kindred form to the equally possible עטה (from 'âṭaja) and עטיּה. As for the meaning, instar errabundae (Syr., Symm., Jerome, Venet., Luther) recommends itself; but עטה must then, unless we wish directly to adopt the reading כּטעיה (Böttch.), have been transposed from טעה (תעה), which must have been assumed if עטה, in the usual sense of velare (cf. עטף), did not afford an appropriate signification. Indeed, velans, viz., sese, cannot denote one whom consciousness veils, one who is weak or fainting (Gesen. Lex.), for the part. act. expresses action, not passivity. But it can denote one who covers herself (the lxx, perhaps, in this sense ὡς περιβαλλομένη), because she mourns (Rashi); or after Gen 38:14 (cf. Martial, 9:32) one who muffles herself up, because by such affected apparent modesty she wishes to make herself known as a Hierodoule or harlot. The former of these significations is not appropriate; for to appear as mourning does not offend the sense of honour in a virtuous maiden, but to create the appearance of an immodest woman is to her intolerable; and if she bears in herself the image of an only beloved, she shrinks in horror from such a base appearance, not only as a debasing of herself, but also as a desecration of this sanctuary in her heart. Shulamith calls entreatingly upon him whom her soul loveth to tell her how she might be able directly to reach him, without feeling herself wounded in the consciousness of her maidenhood and of the exclusiveness of her love. It is thereby supposed that the companions of her only beloved among the shepherds might not treat that which to her is holy with a holy reserve, - a thought to which Hattendorff has given delicate expression in his exposition of the Song, 1867. If Solomon were present, it would be difficult to understand this entreating call. But he is not present, as is manifest from this, that she is not answered by him, but by the daughters of Jerusalem.
Verse 8 edit
Sol 1:8 8 If thou knowest not, thou fairest of women, Go after the footprints of the flock, And feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents. היּפה, standing in the address or call, is in the voc.; the art. was indispensable, because “the beautiful one among women” = the one distinguished for beauty among them, and thus is, according to the meaning, superlative; cf. Jdg 6:15; Amo 2:16, with Jdg 5:24; Luk 1:28; Ewald, §313c. The verb יפה refers to the fundamental idea: integrum, completum esse, for beauty consists in well-proportioned fulness and harmony of the members. That the ladies of the court are excited to speak thus may arise from this, that one often judges altogether otherwise of a man, whom one has found not beautiful, as soon as he begins to speak, and his countenance becomes intellectually animated. And did not, in Shulamith's countenance, the strange external swarthiness borrow a brightness from the inner light which irradiated her features, as she gave so deep and pure an expression to her longing? But the instruction which her childlike, almost childish, naïvete deserved, the daughters of Jerusalem do not feel disposed to give her. ידע לא signifies, often without the obj. supplied, non sapere, e.g., Psa 82:5; Job 8:9. The לך subjoined guards against this inclusive sense, in which the phrase here would be offensive. This dat. ethicus (vid., Sol 2:10-11, Sol 2:13, Sol 2:17; Sol 4:6; Sol 8:14), used twice here in Sol 1:8 and generally in the Song, reflects that which is said on the will of the subject, and thereby gives to it an agreeable cordial turn, here one bearing the colour of a gentle reproof: if thou knowest not to thee, - i.e., if thou, in thy simplicity and retirement, knowest it not, viz., that he whom thou thinkest thou must seek for at a distance is near to thee, and that Solomon has to tend not sheep but people, - now, then, so go forth, viz., from the royal city, and remain, although chosen to royal honours, as a shepherdess beside thine own sheep and kids. One misapprehends the answer if he supposes that they in reality point out the way to Shulamith by which she might reach her object; on the contrary, they answer her ironically, and, entering into her confusion of mind, tell her that if she cannot apprehend the position of Solomon, she may just remain what she is. עקב (Arab. 'aḳib), from עקב, to be convex, arched, is the heel; to go in the heels (the reading fluctuates between the form, with and without Dag. dirimens in ק) of one = to press hard after him, to follow him immediately. That they assign to her not goats or kids of goats, but kids, גּריּת, is an involuntary fine delicate thought with which the appearance of the elegant, beautiful shepherdess inspires them. But that they name kids, not sheep, may arise from this, that the kid is a near-lying erotic emblem; cf. Gen 38:17, where it has been fittingly remarked that the young he-goat was the proper courtesan-offering in the worship of Aphrodite (Movers' Phönizier, I 680). It is as if they said: If thou canst not distinguish between a king and shepherds, then indulge thy love-thoughts beside the shepherds' tents, - remain a country maiden if thou understandest not how to value the fortune which has placed thee in Jerusalem in the royal palace.
Verses 9-11 edit
Solomon, while he was absent during the first scene, is now present. It is generally acknowledged that the words which follow were spoken by him: 9 To a horse in the chariot of Pharaoh Do I compare thee, my love. 10 Beautiful are thy cheeks in the chains, Thy neck in the necklaces. 11 Golden chains will we make for thee, With points of silv.
Till now, Shulamith was alone with the ladies of the palace in the banqueting-chamber. Solomon now comes from the banquet-hall of the men (Sol 1:12); and to Sol 2:7, to which this scene extends, we have to think of the women of the palace as still present, although not hearing what Solomon says to Shulamith. He addresses her, “my love:” she is not yet his bride. רעיה (female friend), from רעי (רעה), to guard, care for, tend, ethically: to delight in something particularly, to take pleasure in intercourse with one, is formed in the same way as נערה; the mas. is רעה (= ra'j), abbreviated רע, whence the fem. rǎ'yāh (Jdg 11:37; Chethı̂b), as well as rē'āh, also with reference to the ground-form. At once, in the first words used by Solomon, one recognises a Philip, i.e., a man fond of horses, - an important feature in the character of the sage (vid., Sur. 38 of the Koran), - and that, one fond of Egyptian horses: Solomon carried on an extensive importation of horses from Egypt and other countries (2Ch 9:28); he possessed 1400 war-chariots and 12, 000 horsemen (1Ki 10:26); the number of stalls of horses for his chariots was still greater (1Ki 5:6) [4:26]. Horace (Ode iii. 11) compares a young sprightly maiden to a nimble and timid equa trima; Anacreon (60) addresses such an one: “thou Thracian filly;” and Theocritus says (Idyl xviii. 30, 31): “As towers the cypress mid the garden's bloom,
As in the chariot proud Thessalian steed,
Thus graceful rose-complexioned Helen moves.”
But how it could occur to the author of the Song to begin the praise of the beauty of a shepherdess by saying that she is like a horse in Pharaoh's chariot, is explained only by the supposition that the poet is Solomon, who, as a keen hippologue, had an open eye for the beauty of the horse. Egyptian horses were then esteemed as afterwards the Arabian were. Moreover, the horse was not native to Egypt, but was probably first imported thither by the Hyksos: the Egyptian name of the horse, and particularly of the mare, ses-t, ses-mut, and of the chariot, markabuta, are Semitic. סוּסה is here not equitatus (Jerome), as Hengst. maintains: “Susah does not denote a horse, but is used collectively;” while he adds, “Shulamith is compared to the whole Egyptian cavalry, and is therefore an ideal person.” The former statement is untrue, and the latter is absurd. Sūs means equus, and susā may, indeed, collectively denote the stud (cf. Jos 19:5 with 1Ch 4:31), but obviously it first denotes the equa. But is it to be rendered, with the lxx and the Venet., “to my horse”? Certainly not; for the chariots of Pharaoh are just the chariots of Egypt, not of the king of Israel. The Chirek in which this word terminates is the Ch. compag., which also frequently occurs where, as here and Gen 49:11, the second member of the word-chain is furnished with a prep. (vid., under Psa 113:1-9). This i is an old genitival ending, which, as such, has disappeared from the language; it is almost always accented as the suff. Thus also here, where the Metheg shows that the accent rests on the ult. The plur. רכבי, occurring only here, is the amplificative poetic, and denotes state equipage. דּמּה is the trans. of דּמה, which combines the meanings aequum and aequalem esse. Although not allegorizing, yet, that we may not overlook the judiciousness of the comparison, we must remark that Shulamith is certainly a “daughter of Israel;” a daughter of the people who increased in Egypt, and, set free from the bondage of Pharaoh, became the bride of Jahve, and were brought by the law as a covenant into a marriage relation to Him.
The transition to Sol 1:10 is mediated by the effect of the comparison; for the head-frame of the horse's bridle, and the poitral, were then certainly, must as now, adorned with silken tassels, fringes, and other ornaments of silver (vid., Lane's Modern Egypt, I 149). Jerome, absurdly, after the lxx: pulchrae sunt genae tuae sicut turturis. The name of the turtle, תּוּד, redupl. turtur, is a pure onomatopoeia, which has nothing to do with תּוּר, whence דּוּר, to go round about, or to move in a circle; and turtle-dove's cheeks - what absurdity! Birds have no cheeks; and on the sides of its neck the turtle-dove has black and white variegated feathers, which also furnishes no comparison for the colour of the cheeks. תּורים are the round ornaments which hang down in front on both sides of the head-band, or are also inwoven in the braids of hair in the forehead; תּוּר, circumire, signifies also to form a circle or a row; in Aram. it thus denotes, e.g., the hem of a garment and the border round the eye. In נאווּ (vid., at 5a) the Aleph is silent, as in לאמר, אכל. חרוּזים are strings of pearls as a necklace; for the necklace (Arab. kharaz) consists of one or more, for the most part, of three rows of pearls. The verb חרז signifies, to bore through and to string together; e.g., in the Talm., fish which one strings on a rod or line, in order to bring them to the market. In Heb. and Aram. the secondary sense of stringing predominates, so that to string pearls is expressed by חרז, and to bore through pearls, by קדח; in Arab., the primary meaning of piercing through, e.g., michraz, a shoemaker's awl.
After Sol 1:11, one has to represent to himself Shulamith's adorning as very simple and modest; for Solomon seeks to make her glad with the thought of a continued residence at the royal court by the promise of costly and elegant ornaments. Gold and silver were so closely connected in ancient modes of representation, that in the old Aegypt. silver was called nub het, or white gold. Gold derived its name of זהב from its splendour, after the witty Arab. word zahab, to go away, as an unstable possession; silver is called כּסף, from כּסף, scindere, abscindere, a piece of metal as broken off from the mother-stone, like the Arab. dhuḳrat, as set free from the lump by means of the pickaxe (cf. at Psa 19:11; Psa 84:3). The name of silver has here, not without the influence of the rhythm (Sol 8:9), the article designating the species; the Song frequently uses this, and is generally in using the art. not so sparing as poetry commonly is. עם makes prominent the points of silver as something particular, but not separate. In נישׂה, Solomon includes himself among the other inhabitants, especially the women of the palace; for the plur. majest. in the words of God of Himself (frequently in the Koran), or persons of rank of themselves (general in the vulgar Arab.), is unknown in the O.T.
They would make for her golden globules or knobs with (i.e., provided with ...; cf. Psa 89:14) points of silver sprinkled over them, - which was a powerful enticement for a plain country damsel.
Verse 12 edit
Now for the first time Shulamith addresses Solomon, who is before her. It might be expected that the first word will either express the joy that she now sees him face to face, or the longing which she had hitherto cherished to see him again. The verse following accords with this expectation: 12 While the king is at his table, My nard has yielded its fragrance. שׁ עד or אשׁר r עד, with fut. foll., usually means: usque eo, until this and that shall happen, Sol 2:7, Sol 2:17; with the perf. foll., until something happened, Sol 3:4. The idea connected with “until” may, however, be so interpreted that there comes into view not the end of the period as such, but the whole length of the period. So here in the subst. clause following, which in itself is already an expression of continuance, donec = dum (erat); so also עד alone, without asher, with the part. foll. (Job 1:18), and the infin. (Jdg 3:26; Exo 33:22; Jon 4:2; cf. 2Ki 9:22); seldomer with the fin. foll., once with the perf. foll. (1Sa 14:19), once (for Job 8:21 is easily explained otherwise) with the fut. foll. (Psa 141:10, according to which Gen 49:10 also is explained by Baur and others, but without כי עד in this sense of limited duration: “so long as,” being anywhere proved). מסבּו is the inflected מסב, which, like the post-bibl. מסבּה, signifies the circuit of the table; for סבב signifies also, after 1Sa 16:11 (the lxx rightly, after the sense οὐ μὴ κατακλιθῶμεν), to seat themselves around the table, from which it is to be remarked that not till the Greek-Roman period was the Persian custom of reclining at table introduced, but in earlier times they sat (1Sa 20:5; 1Ki 13:20; cf. Psa 128:3). Reclining and eating are to be viewed as separate from each other, Amo 6:4; הסב, “three and three they recline at table,” is in matter as in language mishnic (Berachoth 42b; cf. Sanhedrin 2:4, of the king: if he reclines at table, the Tôra must be opposite him). Thus: While (usque eo, so long as), says Shulamith, the king was at his table, my nard gave forth its fragrance. נרדּ is an Indian word: naladâ, i.e., yielding fragrance, Pers. nard (nârd), Old Arab. nardîn (nârdîn), is the aromatic oil of an Indian plant valeriana, called Nardostachys 'Gatâmânsi (hair-tress nard). Interpreters are wont to represent Shulamith as having a stalk of nard in her hand. Hitzig thinks of the nard with which she who is speaking has besprinkled herself, and he can do this because he regards the speaker as one of the court ladies. But that Shulamith has besprinkled herself with nard, is as little to be thought of as that she has in her hand a sprig of nard (spica nardi), or, as the ancients said, an ear of nard; she comes from a region where no nard grows, and nard-oil is for a country maiden unattainable.
Horace promises Virgil a cadus (= 9 gallons) of the best wine for a small onyx-box full of nard; and Judas estimated at 300 denarii (about £8, 10s.) the genuine nard (how frequently nard was adulterated we learn from Pliny) which Mary of Bethany poured from an alabaster box on the head of Jesus, so that the whole house was filled with the odour of the ointment (Mar 14:5; Joh 12:2). There, in Bethany, the love which is willing to sacrifice all expressed itself in the nard; here, the nard is a figure of the happiness of love, and its fragrance a figure of the longing of love. It is only in the language of flowers that Shulamith makes precious perfume a figure of the love which she bears in the recess of her heart, anl which, so long as Solomon was absent, breathed itself out and, as it were, cast forth its fragrance (cf. Sol 2:13; Sol 7:13) in words of longing. She has longed for the king, and has sought to draw him towards her, as she gives him to understand. He is continually in her mind.
Verses 13-14 edit
Sol 1:13-14 13 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, Which lieth between by breasts. 14 A bunch of cypress-flowers is my beloved to me, From the vine-gardens of Engedi.
Most interpreters, ignoring the lessons of botany, explain Sol 1:13 of a little bunch of myrrh; but whence could Shulamith obtain this? Myrrh, מר (מרר, to move oneself in a horizontal direction hither and thither, or gradually to advance; of a fluid, to flow over the plain), belongs, like the frankincense, to the amyrids, which are also exotics in Palestine; and that which is aromatic in the Balsamodendron myrrha are the leaves and flowers, but the resin (Gummi myrrhae, or merely myrrha) cannot be tied in a bunch. Thus the myrrh here can be understood in no other way than as at Sol 5:5; in general צרור, according to Hitzig's correct remark, properly denotes not what one binds up together, but what one ties up - thus sacculus, a little bag. It is not supposed that she carried such a little bag with her (cf. Isa 3:20), or a box of frankincense (Luth. musk-apple); but she compares her beloved to a myrrh-repository, which day and night departs not from her bosom, and penetrates her inwardly with its heart-strengthening aroma. So constantly does she think of him, and so delightful is it for her to dare to think of him as her beloved.
The 14th verse presents the same thought. כּפר is the cypress-cluster or the cypress-flowers, κύπρος (according to Fürst, from כפר = עפר, to be whitish, from the colour of the yellow-white flowers), which botanists call Lawsonia, and in the East Alḥennā; its leaves yield the orange colour with which the Moslem women stain their hands and feet. אשׁכּל (from שׁכל, to interweave) denotes that which is woven, tresses, or a cluster or garland of their flowers. Here also we have not to suppose that Shulamith carried a bunch of flowers; in her imagination she places herself in the vine-gardens which Solomon had planted on the hill-terraces of Engedi lying on the west of the Dead Sea (Ecc 2:4), and chooses a cluster of flowers of the cypress growing in that tropical climate, and says that her beloved is to her internally what such a cluster of cypress-flowers would be to her externally. To be able to call him her beloved is her ornament; and to think of him refreshes her like the most fragrant flowers.
Verse 15 edit
In this ardour of loving devotion, she must appear to the king so much the more beautiful. 15 Lo, thou art fair, my love. Lo, thou art fair; thine eyes are doves.
This is a so-called comparatio decurtata, as we say: feet like the gazelle, i.e., to which the swiftness of the gazelle's feet belongs (Hab 3:19); but instead of “like doves,” for the comparison mounts up to equalization, the expression is directly, “doves.” If the pupil of the eye were compared with the feathers of the dove (Hitz.), or the sprightliness of the eye with the lively motion hither and thither of the dove (Heiligst.), then the eulogium would stand out of connection with what Shulamith has just said. But it stands in reference to it if her eyes are called doves; and so the likeness to doves' eyes is attributed to them, because purity and gentleness, longing and simplicity, express themselves therein. The dove is, like the myrtle, rose, and apple, an attribute of the goddess of love, and a figure of that which is truly womanly; wherefore ימימה (the Arab. name of a dove), Columbina, and the like names of women, columba and columbari, are words of fondness and caressing. Shulamith gives back to Solomon his eulogium, and rejoices in the prospect of spending her life in fellowship with him.
Verses 16-17 edit
Sol 1:16-17 16 Behold, thou art comely, my beloved; yea charming; Yea, our couch is luxuriously green. 17 The beams of our house are cedars, Our wainscot of cypresses.
If Sol 1:16 were not the echo of her heart to Solomon, but if she therewith meant some other one, then the poet should at least not have used הנּך, but הנּה. Hitzig remarks, that up to “my beloved” the words appear as those of mutual politeness - that therefore נעים (charming) is added at once to distinguish her beloved from the king, who is to her insufferable. But if a man and a woman are together, and he says הנּכך and she says הנּך, that is as certainly an interchange of address as that one and one are two and not three. He praises her beauty; but in her eyes it is rather he who is beautiful, yea charming: she rejoices beforehand in that which is assigned to her. Where else would her conjugal happiness find its home but among her own rural scenes? The city with its noisy display does not please her; and she knows, indeed, that her beloved is a king, but she thinks of him as a shepherd. Therefore she praises the fresh green of their future homestead; cedar tops will form the roof of the house in which they dwell, and cypresses its wainscot. The bed, and particularly the bridal-bower (D. M. Z. xxii. 153), - but not merely the bed in which one sleeps, but also the cushion for rest, the divan (Amo 6:4), - has the name ערשׂ, from ערשׂ, to cover over; cf. the “network of goats' hair” (1Sa 19:13) and the κωνωπεῖον of Holofernes (Judith 10:21; 13:9), (whence our kanapee = canopy), a bed covered over for protection against the κώνωπες, the gnats. רענן, whence here the fem. adj. accented on the ult., is not a word of colour, but signifies to be extensible, and to extend far and wide, as lentus in lenti salices; we have no word such as this which combines in itself the ideas of softness and juicy freshness, of bending and elasticity, of looseness, and thus of overhanging ramification (as in the case of the weeping willow). The beams are called קרות, from קרה, to meet, to lay crosswise, to hold together (cf. congingere and contignare). רחיטנוּ (after another reading, רח, from רחיט, with Kametz immutable, or a virtual Dag.) is North Palest. = רה = .tse (Kerı̂), for in place of רהטים, troughs (Exo 2:16), the Samarit. has רחטים (cf. sahar and sahhar, circumire, zahar and zahhar, whence the Syr. name of scarlet); here the word, if it is not defect. plur. (Heiligst.), is used as collect. sing. of the hollows or panels of a wainscoted ceiling, like φάτναι, whence the lxx φατνώματα (Symm. φατνώσεις), and like lacunae, whence lacunaria, for which Jerome has here laquearia, which equally denotes the wainscot ceiling. Abulwalîd glosses the word rightly by מרזבים, gutters (from רהט, to run); only this and οἱ διάδρομοι of the Gr. Venet. is not an architectural expression, like רהיטים, which is still found in the Talm. (vid., Buxtorf's Lex.). To suppose a transposition from חריטנו, from חרט, to turn, to carve (Ew., Heiligst., Hitz.), is accordingly not necessary. As the ת in בּרותים belongs to the North Palest. (Galilean) form of speech, so also ח for ה in this word: an exchange of the gutturals was characteristic of the Galilean idiom (vid., Talm. citations by Frankel, Einl. in d. jerus. Talm. 1870, 7b). Well knowing that a mere hut was not suitable for the king, Shulamith's fancy converts one of the magnificent nature-temples of the North Palest. forest-solitudes into a house where, once together, they will live each for the other. Because it is a large house, although not large by art, she styles it by the poet. plur. bāattenu. The mystical interpretation here finds in Isa 60:13 a favourable support.
Chap. 2 edit
Verse 1 edit
What Shulamith now further says confirms what had just been said. City and palace with their splendour please her not; forest and field she delights in; she is a tender flower that has grown up in the quietness of rural life. 1 I am a meadow-flower of Sharon, A lily of the valleys.
We do not render: “the wild-flower,” “the lily,” ... for she seeks to represent herself not as the one, but only as one of this class; the definiteness by means of the article sometimes belongs exclusively to the second number of the genit. word-chain. מלאך ה may equally (vid., at Sol 1:11, Hitz. on Psa 113:9, and my Comm. on Gen 9:20) mean “an angel” or “the angel of Jahve;” and בת ישׂ “a virgin,” or “the virgin of Israel” (the personification of the people). For hhǎvatstsělěth (perhaps from hhivtsēl, a denom. quadril. from bětsěl, to form bulbs or bulbous knolls) the Syr. Pesh. (Isa 35:1) uses chamsaljotho, the meadow-saffron, colchicum autumnale; it is the flesh-coloured flower with leafless stem, which, when the grass is mown, decks in thousands the fields of warmer regions. They call it filius ante patrem, because the blossoms appear before the leaves and the seed-capsules, which develope themselves at the close of winter under the ground. Shulamith compares herself to such a simple and common flower, and that to one in Sharon, i.e., in the region known by that name. Sharon is per aphaer. derived from ישׁרון. The most celebrated plain of this name is that situated on the Mediterranean coast between Joppa and Caesarea; but there is also a trans-Jordanic Sharon, 1Ch 5:16; and according to Eusebius and Jerome, there is also another district of this name between Tabor and the Lake of Tiberias, which is the one here intended, because Shulamith is a Galilean: she calls herself a flower from the neighbourhood of Nazareth. Aquila translates: “A rosebud of Sharon;” but שׁושׁנּה (designedly here the fem. form of the name, which is also the name of a woman) does not mean the Rose which was brought at a later period from Armenia and Persia, as it appears, and cultivated in the East (India) and West (Palestine, Egypt, Europe). It is nowhere mentioned in the canonical Scriptures, but is first found in Sir. 24:14; 39:13; 50:8; Wisd. 2:8; and Est 1:6, lxx. Since all the rosaceae are five-leaved, and all the liliaceae are six-leaved, one might suppose, with Aben Ezra, that the name sosan (susan) is connected with the numeral שׁשׁ, and points to the number of leaves, especially since one is wont to represent to himself the Eastern lilies as red. But they are not only red, or rather violet, but also white: the Moorish-Spanish azucena denotes the white lily.
The root-word will thus, however, be the same as that of שׁשׁ, byssus, and שׁישׁ, white marble. The comparison reminds us of Hos 14:5, “I shall be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily.” העמקים are deep valleys lying between mountains. She thinks humbly of herself; for before the greatness of the king she appears diminutive, and before the comeliness of the king her own beauty disappears - but he takes up her comparison of herself, and gives it a notable turn.
Verse 2 edit
Sol 2:2 2 As a lily among thorns, So is my love among the daughters.
By החוחים are not meant the thorns of the plant itself, for the lily has no thorns, and the thorns of the rose are, moreover, called kotsim, and not hhohhim; besides, ben (among) contradicts that idea, since the thorns are on the plant itself, and it is not among them - thus the hhohhim are not the thorns of the flower-stem, but the thorn-plants that are around. חוח designates the thorn-bush, e.g., in the allegorical answer of King Josiah to Amaziah, 2Ki 14:9. Simplicity, innocence, gentleness, are the characteristics in which Shulamith surpasses all בּנות, i.e., all women (vid., Sol 6:9), as the lily of the valley surpasses the thorn-bushes around it. “Although thorns surround her, yet can he see her; he sees her quiet life, he finds her beautiful.” But continuing this reciprocal rivalry in the praise of mutual love, she says:
Verse 3 edit
Sol 2:3 3a As an apple-tree among the trees of the wood, So is my beloved among the sons.
The apple-tree, the name of which, תּפּוּח, is formed from נפח, and denominates it from its fragrant flower and fruit, is as the king among fruit trees, in Shulamith's view. יער (from יער, to be rough, rugged, uneven) is the wilderness and the forest, where are also found trees bearing fruit, which, however, is for the most part sour and unpalatable. But the apple-tree unites delicious fruit along with a grateful shade; and just such a noble tree is the object of her love. 3b Under his shadow it delighted me to sit down; And his fruit is sweet to my taste.
In concupivi et consedi the principal verb completes itself by the co-ordinating of a verb instead of an adv. or inf. as Isa 42:21; Est 8:7; Ewald, §285. However, concupivi et consedi is yet more than concupivi considere, for thereby she not only says that she found delight in sitting down, but at the same time also in sitting down in the shadow of this tree. The Piel חמּד, occurring only here, expresses the intensity of the wish and longing. The shadow is a figure of protection afforded, and the fruit a figure of enjoyment obtained. The taste is denoted by חך = חנך, from חנך, to chew, or also imbuere; and that which is sweet is called מתוק, from the smacking connected with an agreeable relish. The usus loq. has neglected this image, true to nature, of physical circumstances in words, especially where, as here, they are transferred to the experience of the soul-life. The taste becomes then a figure of the soul's power of perception (αἰσθητικόν); a man's fruit are his words and works, in which his inward nature expresses itself; and this fruit is sweet to those on whom that in which the peculiar nature of the man reveals itself makes a happy, pleasing impression. But not only does the person of the king afford to Shulamith so great delight, he entertains her also with what can and must give her enjoyment.
Verse 4 edit
Sol 2:4 4 He has brought me into the wine-house, And his banner over me is love.
After we have seen the ladies of the palace at the feast, in which wine is presented, and after Solomon, till now absent, has entered the banqueting-chamber (Arab. meglis), by היּין בּית we are not to understand the vineyard, which would be called bēth hǎggephānim or bēth hā'ǎnāvim, as in Act 1:12, Pesh. the Mount of Olives, bēth zaite.
He has introduced her to the place where he royally entertains his friends. Well knowing that she, the poor and sunburnt maiden, does not properly belong to such a place, and would rather escape away from it, he relieves her from her fear and bashfulness, for he covers her with his fear-inspiring, awful, and thus surely protecting, banner; and this banner, which he waves over her, and under which she is well concealed, is “love.” דּגל (from דּגל, to cover) is the name of the covering of the shaft or standard, i.e., pannus, the piece of cloth fastened to a shaft. Like a pennon, the love of the king hovers over her; and so powerful, so surpassing, is the delight of this love which pervades and transports her, that she cries out:
Verse 5 edit
Sol 2:5 5 Support me with grape-cakes, Refresh me with apples: For I am sick with love.
She makes use of the intensive form as one in a high degree in need of the reanimating of her almost sinking life: סמּך is the intens. of סמך, to prop up, support, or, as here, to under-prop, uphold; and ripeed, the intens. of רפד (R. רף), to raise up from beneath (vid., at Pro 7:16), to furnish firm ground and support. The apple is the Greek attribute of Aphrodite, and is the symbol of love; but here it is only a means of refreshing; and if thoughts of love are connected with the apple-tree (Sol 2:3; Sol 8:5), that is explained from Shulamith's rural home. Böttcher understands quinces; Epstein, citrons; but these must needs have been more closely denoted, as at Pro 25:11, by some addition to the expression. אשׁישׁות (from אשׁשׁ, to establish, make firm) are (cf. Isa 16:7; Hos 3:1) grapes pressed together like cakes; different from צמּוּקים, dried grapes (cf. דּבלה), fig-cakes (Arab. dabbûle, a mass pressed together), and πλακοῦς, placenta, from the pressed-out form. A cake is among the gifts (2Sa 6:19) which David distributed to the people on the occasion of the bringing up of the ark; date-cakes, e.g., at the monastery at Sinai, are to the present day gifts for the refreshment of travellers. If Shulamith's cry was to be understood literally, one might, with Noack, doubt the correctness of the text; for “love-sickness, even in the age of passion and sentimentality, was not to be cured with roses and apples.” But (1) sentimentality, i.e., susceptibility, does not belong merely to the Romantic, but also to Antiquity, especially in the Orient, as e.g., is shown by the symptoms of sympathy with which the prophets were affected when uttering their threatenings of judgment; let one read such outbreaks of sorrow as Isa 21:3, which, if one is disposed to scorn, may be derided as hysterical fits. Moreover, the Indian, Persian, and Arabic erotic (vid., e.g., the Romance Siret 'Antar) is as sentimental as the German has at any time been. (2) The subject of the passage here is not the curing of love-sickness, but bodily refreshment: the cry of Shulamith, that she may be made capable of bearing the deep agitation of her physical life, which is the consequence, not of her love-sickness, but of her love-happiness. (3) The cry is not addressed (although this is grammatically possible, since סמּכוּני is, according to rule, = סמּכנה אתי) to the daughters of Jerusalem, who would in that case have been named, but to some other person; and this points to its being taken not in a literal sense. (4) It presupposes that one came to the help of Shulamith, sick and reduced to weakness, with grapes and apple-scent to revive her fainting spirit. The call of Shulamith thus means: hasten to me with that which will revive and refresh me, for I am sick with love. This love-sickness has also been experienced in the spiritual sphere. St. Ephrem was once so overcome by such a joy that he cried out: “Lord, withdraw Thine hand a little, for my heart is too weak to receive so great joy.” And J. R. Hedinger († 1704) was on his deathbed overpowered with such a stream of heavenly delight that he cried: “Oh, how good is the Lord! Oh, how sweet is Thy love, my Jesus! Oh, what a sweetness! I am not worthy of it, my Lord! Let me alone; let me alone!” As the spiritual joy of love, so may also the spiritual longing of love consume the body (cf. Job 19:27; Psa 63:2; Psa 84:3); there have been men who have actually sunk under a longing desire after the Lord and eternity. It is the state of love-ecstasy in which Shulamith calls for refreshment, because she is afraid of sinking. The contrast between her, the poor and unworthy, and the king, who appears to her as an ideal of beauty and majesty, who raises her up to himself, was such as to threaten her life. Unlooked for, extraordinary fortune, has already killed many. Fear, producing lameness and even death, is a phenomenon common in the Orient.
If Pharaoh's daughter, if the Queen of Sheba, finds herself in the presence of Solomon, the feeling of social equality prevents all alarm. But Shulamith is dazzled by the splendour, and disconcerted; and it happens to her in type as it happened to the seer of Patmos, who, in presence of the ascended Lord, fell at His feet as one dead, Rev 1:17. If beauty is combined with dignity, it has always, for gentle and not perverted natures, something that awakens veneration and tremor; but if the power of love be superadded, then it has, as a consequence, that combination of awe and inward delight, the psychological appearance of which Sappho, in the four strophes which begin with “Φαίνεταί μοι κῆνος ἴσος θεοῖσιν ἔμμεν ὡνήρ,” has described in a manner so true to nature. We may thus, without carrying back modern sentimentality into antiquity, suppose that Shulamith sank down in a paroxysm caused by the rivalry between the words of love and of praise, and thus thanking him, - for Solomon supports and bears her up, - she exclaims:
Verse 6 edit
Sol 2:6 6 His left hand is under my head, And his right hand doth embrace me.
With his left hand he supports her head that had fallen backwards, and with his right he embraces her [herzet], as Luther rightly renders it (as he also renders the name Habakkuk by “der Herzer” = the embracer); for חבּק signifies properly to enfold, to embrace; but then generally, to embrace lovingly, to fondle, of that gentle stroking with the hand elsewhere denoted by חלּה, mulcere. The situation here is like that at Gen 29:13; Gen 48:10; where, connected with the dat., it is meant of loving arms stretched out to embrace. If this sympathetic, gentle embracing exercises a soothing influence on her, overcome by the power of her emotions; so love mutually kindled now celebrates the first hour of delighted enjoyment, and the happy Shulamith calls to those who are witnesses of her joy:
Verse 7 edit
Sol 2:7 7 I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or the hinds of the field, That ye arouse not and disturb not love Till she pleases.
It is permitted to the Israelites to swear, נשׁבּע, only by God (Gen 21:23); but to adjure, השׁבּיע, by that which is not God, is also admissible, although this example before us is perhaps the only direct one in Scripture. צבי (= צבי, dialect. טבי), fem. צביה (Aram. טביתא, Act 9:36), plur. tsebaim or tsebajim, fem. tsabaōth (according with the pl. of צבא), softened from tsebajōth, is the name for the gazelle, from the elegance of its form and movements. אילות is the connecting form of איּלות, whose consonantal Yod in the Assyr. and Syr. is softened to the diphthong ailuv, ailaa; the gen. “of the field,” as not distinguishing but describing, belongs to both of the animals, therefore also the first is without the article. או (after the etymon corresponding to the Lat. vel) proceeds, leaving out of view the repetition of this so-called Slumber-Song (Sol 3:5; cf. Sol 8:4, as also Sol 2:9), from the endeavour to give to the adjuration the greatest impression; the expression is varied, for the representations flit from image to image, and the one, wherever possible, is surpassed by the other (vid., at Pro 30:31).
Under this verse Hengst. remarks: “The bride would not adjure by the hinds, much more would she adjure by the stage.” He supposes that Solomon is here the speaker; but a more worthless proof for this could not be thought of. On the contrary, the adjuration by the gazelles, etc., shows that the speaker here is one whose home is the field and wood; thus also not the poet (Hitz.) nor the queen-mother (Böttch.), neither of whom is ever introduced as speaking. The adjuration is that love should not be disturbed, and therefore it is by the animals that are most lovely and free, which roam through the fields. Zöckler, with whom in this one point Grätz agrees, finds here, after the example of Böttch. and Hitz., the earnest warning against wantonly exciting love in themselves (cf. Lat. irritamenta veneris, irritata voluptas) till God Himself awakens it, and heart finds itself in sympathy with heart. But the circumstances in which Shulamith is placed ill accord with such a general moralizing. The adjuration is repeated, Sol 3:5; Sol 8:4, and wherever Shulamith finds herself near her beloved, as she is here in his arms. What lies nearer, then, than that she should guard against a disturbance of this love-ecstasy, which is like a slumber penetrated by delightful dreams? Instead of אתכם, תּעירוּ, and תּעוררוּ, should be more exactly the words אתכן, תּעררנה, and תּעוררנה; but the gram. distinction of the genera is in Heb. not perfectly developed. We meet also with the very same synallage generis, without this adjuration formula, at Sol 5:8; Sol 7:1; Sol 4:2; Sol 6:8, etc.; it is also elsewhere frequent; but in the Song it perhaps belongs to the foil of the vulgar given to the highly poetic. Thus also in the vulgar Arab. the fem. forms jaḳtulna, taḳtulna, corresponding to תּקטלנה, are fallen out of use. With העיר, expergefacere, there is connected the idea of an interruption of sleep; with עורר, excitare, the idea, which goes further, of arousing out of sleep, placing in the full activity of awakened life.
The one adjuration is, that love should not be awakened out of its sweet dream; the other, that it should not be disturbed from its being absorbed in itself. The Pasek between מעירו and the word following has, as at Lev 10:6, the design of keeping the two Vavs distinct, that in reading they might not run together; it is the Pasek which, as Ben Asher says, serves “to secure to a letter its independence against the similar one standing next it.” האהמה is not abstr. pro concreto, but love itself in its giving and receiving. Thus closes the second scene of the first act: Shulamith lies like one helpless in the arms of Solomon; but in him to expire is her life; to have lost herself in him, and in him to find herself again, is her happiness.
Verse 8 edit
Sol 2:8 8 Hark, my beloved! lo, there he comes! Springs over the mountains, Bounds over the hills.
The word קול, in the expression דּודי קול, is to be understood of the call of the approaching lover (Böttch.), or only of the sound of his footsteps (Hitz.); it is an interjectional clause (sound of my beloved!), in which kōl becomes an interjection almost the same as our “horch” “hear!”. Vid., under Gen 4:10. זה after הנּה sharpens it, as the demonst. ce in ecce = en ce. בּא is though of as partic., as is evident from the accenting of the fem. בּאה, e.g., Jer 10:22. דּלּג is the usual word for springing; the parallel קפץ (קפּץ), Aram. קפץ, קפז, signifies properly contrahere (cogn. קמץ, whence Kametz, the drawing together of the mouth, more accurately, of the muscles of the lips), particularly to draw the body together, to prepare it for a spring. In the same manner, at the present day, both in the city and in the Beduin Arab. kamaz, for which also famaz, is used of the springing of a gazelle, which consists in a tossing up of the legs stretched out perpendicularly. 'Antar says similarly, as Shulamith here of the swift-footed schêbûb (D. M. Zeitung, xxii. 362); wahu jegmiz gamazât el-gazâl, it leaps away with the springing of a gazelle.
Verse 9 edit
Sol 2:9 9 My beloved is like a gazelle, Or a young one of the harts. Lo, there he stands behind our wall! He looks through the windows, Glances through the lattices.
The figure used in Sol 2:8 is continued in Sol 2:9. צבי is the gazelle, which is thus designated after its Arab. name ghazāl, which has reached us probably through the Moorish-Spanish gazela (distinct from “ghasele,” after the Pers. ghazal, love-poem). עפר is the young hart, like the Arab. ghufar (ghafar), the young chamois, probably from the covering of young hair; whence also the young lion may be called כּפיר. Regarding the effect of או passing from one figure to another, vid., under Sol 2:7. The meaning would be plainer were Sol 2:9 joined to Sol 2:8, for the figures illustrate quick-footed speed (2Sa 2:18; 1Ch 12:8; cf. Psa 18:34 with Hab 3:19 and Isa 35:6). In Sol 2:9 he comes with the speed of the gazelle, and his eyes seek for the unforgotten one. כּתל (from כּתל, compingere, condensare; whence, e.g., Arab. mukattal, pressed together, rounded, ramassé; vid., regarding R. כת at Psa 87:6), Aram. כּוּתל (Jos 2:15; Targ. word for קיר), is meant of the wall of the house itself, not of the wall surrounding it. Shulamith is within, in the house: her beloved, standing behind the wall, stands without, before the house (Tympe: ad latus aversum parietis, viz., out from it), and looks through the windows, - at one time through this one, at another through that one, - that he might see her and feast his eyes on her. We have here two verbs from the fulness of Heb. synon. for one idea of seeing. השׁגּיח, from שׁגח, occurring only three times in the O.T., refers, in respect of the roots ש, שך, שק, to the idea of piercing or splitting (whence also שׁגּע, to be furious, properly pierced, percitum esse; cf. oestrus, sting of a gadfly = madness, Arab. transferred to hardiness = madness), and means fixing by reflexion and meditation; wherefore השׁגּחח in post-bibl. Heb. is the name for Divine Providence. הציץ, elsewhere to twinkle and to bloom, appears only here in the sense of seeing, and that of the quick darting forward of the glance of the eye, as blick glance and blitz lightning (blic) are one word; “he saw,” says Goethe in Werther, “the glance of the powder” (Weigand).
The plurs. fenestrae and transennae are to be understood also as synechdoche totius pro parte, which is the same as the plur. of categ.; but with equal correctness we conceive of him as changing his standing place. חלּון is the window, as an opening in the wall, from חלל, perforare. חרכּים we combine most certainly (vid., Pro 12:27) with (Arab.) khark, fissura, so that the idea presents itself of the window broken through the wall, or as itself broken through; for the window in the country there consists for the most part of a pierced wooden frame of a transparent nature, - not (as one would erroneously conclude, from the most significant name of a window שׂבכה, now schubbâke, from שׂבך, to twist, to lattice, to close after the manner of our Venetian blinds) of rods or boards laid crosswise. הציץ accords with the looking out through the pierced places of such a window, for the glances of his eye are like the penetrating rays of light.
Verse 10 edit
When now Shulamith continues: 10a My beloved answered and said to me, Arise, my love, my fair one, and go forth! the words show that this first scene is not immediately dramatic, but only mediately; for Shulamith speaks in monologue, though in a dramatic manner narrating an event which occurred between the commencement of their love-relation and her home-bringing.
She does not relate it as a dream, and thus it is not one. Solomon again once more passes, perhaps on a hunting expedition into the northern mountains after the winter with its rains, which made them inaccessible, is over; and after long waiting, Shulamith at length again sees him, and he invites her to enjoy with him the spring season. ענה signifies, like ἀποκρίνεσθαι, not always to answer to the words of another, but also to speak on the occasion of a person appearing before one; it is different from ענה, the same in sound, which signifies to sing, properly to sing through the nose, and has the root-meaning of replying (of the same root as ענן, clouds, as that which meets us when we look up toward the heavens); but taking speech in hand in consequence of an impression received is equivalent to an answer. With קוּמי he calls upon her to raise herself from her stupor, and with ולכי־לך, French va-t-en, to follow him.
Verses 11-13 edit
Sol 2:11-13 11 For, lo! the winter is past, The rain is over, is gone. 12 The flowers appear in the land; The time of song has come, And the voice of the turtle makes itself heard in our land. 13 The fig-tree spices her green figs, And the vines stand in bloom, they diffuse fragrance; - Rise up, my love, my fair one, and go forth!
The winter is called סתו, perhaps from a verb סתה (of the same root as סתר, סתם, without any example, since סוּת, Gen 49:11, is certainly not derived from a verb סוּת), to conceal, to veil, as the time of being overcast with clouds, for in the East winter is the rainy season; (Arab.) shataā is also used in the sense of rain itself (vid., D. M. Zeitsch. xx. 618); and in the present day in Jerusalem, in the language of the people, no other name is used for rain but shataā (not metar). The word סתיו, which the Kerı̂ substitutes, only means that one must not read סתו, but סתו, with long a; in the same way עניו, humble, from ענה, to be bowed down, and שׂליו, a quail, from שׂלה, to be fat, are formed and written. Rain is here, however, especially mentioned: it is called gěshěm, from gāshǎm, to be thick, massy (cf. revīvīm, of density). With עבר, to pass by, there is interchanged חלף, which, like (Arab.) khalaf, means properly to press on, and then generally to move to another place, and thus to remove from the place hitherto occupied. In לו הלך, with the dat. ethicus, which throws back the action on the subject, the winter rain is thought of as a person who has passed by. נצּן, with the noun-ending ân, is the same as ניסן, and signifies the flower, as the latter the flower-month, floréal; in the use of the word, נצּן is related to נץ and נצּה, probably as little flower is to flower. In hǎzzāmīr the idea of the song of birds (Arab. gharad) appears, and this is not to be given up. The lxx, Aquila, Symm., Targ., Jerome, and the Venet. translate tempus putationis: the time of the pruning of vines, which indeed corresponds to the usus loq. (cf. זמר, to prune the vine, and מזמרה, a pruning-knife), and to similar names, such as אסיף ingathering of fruit, but supplies no reason for her being invited out into the open fields, and is on this account improbable, because the poet further on speaks for the first time of vines. זמר (זמּר) is an onomatopoeia, which for the most part denotes song and music; why should זמיר thus not be able to denote singing, like זמרה, - but not, at least not in this passage, the singing of men (Hengst.), for they are not silent in winter; but the singing of birds, which is truly a sign of the spring, and as a characteristic feature, is added to this lovely picture of spring? Thus there is also suitably added the mention of the turtle-dove, which is a bird of passage (vid., Jer 8:7), and therefore a messenger of spring. נשׁמע is 3rd pret.: it makes itself heard.
The description of spring is finished by a reference to the fig-tree and the vine, the standing attributes of a prosperous and peaceful homestead, 1Ki 5:5; 2Ki 18:31. פּג (from פּנג, and thus named, not from their hardness, but their delicacy) are the little fruits of the fig-tree which now, when the harvest-rains are over, and the spring commences with the equinox of Nisan, already begin to assume a red colour; the verb חנט does not mean “to grow into a bulb,” as Böttch. imagines; it has only the two meanings, condire (condiri, post-bibl. syn. of בּשׁל) and rubescere. From its colour, wheat has the name חטּה = חנטה; and here also the idea of colour has the preference, for becoming fragrant does not occur in spring-in the history of the cursing of the fig-tree at the time of the Passover, Mark (Mar 11:13) says, “for the time of figs was not yet.” In fig-trees, by this time the green of the fruit-formation changes its colour, and the vines are סמדר, blossom, i.e., are in a state of bloom (lxx κυπρίζουσαι; cf. Sol 7:13, κυπρισμός) - it is a clause such as Exo 9:31, and to which “they diffuse fragrance” (Sol 2:13) is parallel. This word סמדר is usually regarded as a compound word, consisting of סם, scent, and סמדר, brightness = blossom (vid., Gesen. Thes.); it is undeniable that there are such compound formations, e.g., שׁלאנן, from שׁלה and שׁאן; חלּמישׁ, from (Arab.) ḥams, to be hard, and hals, to be dark-brown.
But the traditional reading סמדר (not סמדר) is unfavourable to this view; the middle ā accordingly, as in צלצל, presents itself as an ante-tone vowel (Ewald, §154a), and the stem-word appears as a quadril. which may be the expansion of סדּר, to range, put in order in the sense of placing asunder, unfolding. Symm. renders the word by οἰνάνθη, and the Talm. idiom shows that not only the green five-leaved blossoms of the vine were so named, but also the fruit-buds and the first shoots of the grapes. Here, as the words “they diffuse fragrance” (as at 7:14 of the mandrakes) show, the vine-blossom is meant which fills the vineyard with an incomparably delicate fragrance. At the close of the invitation to enjoy the spring, the call “Rise up,” etc., with which it began, is repeated. The Chethı̂b לכי, if not an error in writing, justly set aside by the Kerı̂, is to be read לכי (cf. Syr. bechi, in thee, levotechi, to thee, but with occult i) - a North Palestinism for לך, like 2Ki 4:2, where the Kerı̂ has substituted the usual form (vid., under Ps 103 introd.) for this very dialectic form, which is there undoubtedly original.
Verse 14 edit
Solomon further relates how he drew her to himself out of her retirement:
My dove in the clefts of the rock,
In the hiding-place of the cliff;
Let me see thy countenance,
Let me hear thy voice!
For thy voice is sweet and thy countenance comely. “Dove” (for which Castellio, columbula, like vulticulum, voculam) is a name of endearment which Shulamith shares with the church of God, Psa 74:19; cf. Psa 56:1; Hos 7:11. The wood-pigeon builds its nest in the clefts of the rocks and other steep rocky places, Jer 48:28.
That Shulamith is thus here named, shows that, far removed from intercourse with the world, her home was among the mountains. חגוי, from חגו, or also חגוּ, requires a verb הגה = (Arab.) khajja, findere. (סל, as a Himyar. lexicographer defines it, is a cleft into the mountains after the nature of a defile; with צוּר, only the ideas of inaccessibility and remoteness are connected; with סלע, those of a secure hiding-place, and, indeed, a convenient, pleasant residence. מדרגה is the stairs; here the rocky stairs, as the two chalk-cliffs on the Rügen, which sink perpendicularly to the sea, are called “Stubbenkammer,” a corruption of the Slavonic Stupnhkamen, i.e., the Stair-Rock. “Let me see,” said he, as he called upon her with enticing words, “thy countenance;” and adds this as a reason, “for thy countenance is lovely.” The word מראיך, thus pointed, is sing.; the Jod Otians is the third root letter of ראי, retained only for the sake of the eye. It is incorrect to conclude from ashrēch, in Ecc 10:17, that the ech may be also the plur. suff., which it can as little be as êhu in Pro 29:18; in both cases the sing. ěshěr has substituted itself for ashrē. But, inversely, mǎraīch cannot be sing.; for the sing. is simply marēch. Also mǎrāv, Job 41:1, is not sing.: the sing. is marēhu, Job 4:16; Sol 5:15. On the other hand, the determination of such forms as מראינוּ, מראיהם, is difficult: these forms may be sing. as well as plur. In the passage before us, מראים is just such a non-numer. plur. as פנים. But while panīm is an extensive plur., as Böttcher calls it: the countenance, in its extension and the totality of its parts, - marīm, like marōth, vision, a stately term, Exo 40:2 (vid., Deitrich's Abhand. p. 19), is an amplificative plur.: the countenance, on the side of its fulness of beauty and its overpowering impression.
Verses 15-16 edit
There now follows a cantiuncula. Shulamith comes forward, and, singing, salutes her beloved. Their love shall celebrate a new spring. Thus she wishes everything removed, or rendered harmless, that would disturb the peace of this love: 15 Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, The spoilers of the vineyards; For our vineyards are in bloom! 16 My beloved is mine, and I am his; Who feeds his flock among the lilies.
If the king is now, on this visit of the beloved, engaged in hunting, the call: “Catch us,” etc., if it is directed at all to any definite persons, is addressed to those who follow him. But this is a vine-dresser's ditty, in accord with Shulamith's experience as the keeper of a vineyard, which, in a figure, aims at her love-relation. The vineyards, beautiful with fragrant blossom, point to her covenant of love; and the foxes, the little foxes, which might destroy these united vineyards, point to all the great and little enemies and adverse circumstances which threaten to gnaw and destroy love in the blossom, ere it has reached the ripeness of full enjoyment. שׁעלים comprehends both foxes and jackals, which “destroy or injure the vineyards; because, by their holes and passages which they form in the ground, loosening the soil, so that the growth and prosperity of the vine suffers injury” (Hitzig). This word is from שׁעל (R. של), to go down, or into the depth. The little foxes are perhaps the jackals, which are called tǎnnīm, from their extended form, and in height are seldom more than fifteen inches. The word “jackal” has nothing to do with שׁוּעל, but is the Persian-Turkish shaghal, which comes from the Sanscr. crgâla, the howler (R. krag, like kap-âla, the skull; R. kap, to be arched). Moreover, the mention of the foxes naturally follows 14a, for they are at home among rocky ravines. Hitzig supposes Shulamith to address the foxes: hold for us = wait, ye rascals! But אחז, Aram. אחד, does not signify to wait, but to seize or lay hold of (synon. לכד, Jdg 15:4), as the lion its prey, Isa 5:29. And the plur. of address is explained from its being made to the king's retinue, or to all who could and would give help. Fox-hunting is still, and has been from old times, a sport of rich landowners; and that the smaller landowners also sought to free themselves from them by means of snares or otherwise, is a matter of course, - they are proverbially as destroyers, Neh. 3:35 [4:3], and therefore a figure of the false prophets, Eze 13:4. מחבּ כּרם are here instead of מחבּלי הכּרם. The articles are generally omitted, because poetry is not fond of the article, where, as here (cf. on the other hand, Sol 1:6), the thoughts and language permit it; and the fivefold îm is an intentional mere verborum sonus. The clause וּכר סמדר is an explanatory one, as appears from the Vav and the subj. preceding, as well as from the want of a finitum. סמדר maintains here also, in pausa, the sharpening of the final syllable, as חץ, Deu 28:42.
The 16th verse is connected with the 15th. Shulamith, in the pentast. song, celebrates her love-relation; for the praise of it extends into Sol 2:15, is continued in Sol 2:16, and not till Sol 2:17 does she address her beloved. Luther translates:
My beloved is mine, and I am his;
He feeds (his flock) among the roses.
He has here also changed the “lilies” of the Vulgate into “roses;” for of the two queens among the flowers, he gave the preference to the popular and common rose; besides, he rightly does not translate הרעה, in the mid. after the pascitur inter lilia of the Vulgate: who feeds himself, i.e., pleases himself; for רעה has this meaning only when the object expressly follows, and it is evident that בּשּׁו cannot possibly be this object, after Gen 37:2, - the object is thus to be supplied. And which? Without doubt, gregem; and if Heiligst., with the advocates of the shepherd-hypothesis, understands this feeding (of the flock) among the lilies, of feeding on a flowery meadow, nothing can be said against it. But at Sol 6:2., where this saying of Shulamith is repeated, she says that her beloved בּגּנּים feeds and gathers lilies. On this the literal interpretation of the qui pascit (gregem) inter lilia is wrecked; for a shepherd, such as the shepherd-hypothesis supposes, were he to feed his flock in a garden, would be nothing better than a thief; such shepherds, also, do not concern themselves with the plucking of flowers, but spend their time in knitting stockings. It is Solomon, the king, of whom Shulamith speaks. She represents him to herself as a shepherd; but in such a manner that, at the same time, she describes his actions in language which rises above ordinary shepherd-life, and, so to speak, idealizes. She, who was herself a shepherdess, knows from her own circle of thought nothing more lovely or more honourable to conceive and to say of him, than that he is a shepherd who feeds among lilies. The locality and the surroundings of his daily work correspond to his nature, which is altogether beauty and love. Lilies, the emblem of unapproachable highness, awe-inspiring purity, lofty elevation above what is common, bloom where the lily-like (king) wanders, whom the Lily names her own. The mystic interpretation and mode of speaking takes “lilies” as the figurative name of holy souls, and a lily-stalk as the symbol of the life of regeneration. Mary, who is celebrated in song as the rosa mystica, is rightly represented in ancient pictures with a lily in her hand on the occasion of the Annunciation; for if the people of God are called by Jewish poets “a people of lilies,” she is, within this lily-community, this communio sanctorum, the lily without a parallel.
Verse 17 edit
Shulamith now further relates, in a dramatic, lively manner, what she said to her beloved after she had saluted him in a song: 17 Till the day cools and the shadows flee away, Turn; make haste, my beloved, Like a gazelle or a young one of the hinds On the craggy mountains.
With the perf., עד שׁ (cf. אם עד, Gen 24:33) signifies, till something is done; with the fut., till something will be done. Thus: till the evening comes - and, therefore, before it comes - may he do what she requires of him. Most interpreters explain סב, verte te, with the supplement ad me; according to which Jerome, Castell., and others translate by revertere. But Psa 71:21 does not warrant this rendering; and if Shulamith has her beloved before her, then by סב she can only point him away from herself; the parall. Sol 8:14 has בּרח instead of סב, which consequently means, “turn thyself from here away.” Rather we may suppose, as I explained in 1851, that she holds him in her embrace, as she says, and inseparable from him, will wander with him upon the mountains. But neither that ad me nor this mecum should have been here (cf. on the contrary Sol 8:14) unexpressed. We hold by what is written. Solomon surprises Shulamith, and invites her to enjoy with him the spring-time; not alone, because he is on a hunting expedition, and - as denoted by “catch us” (v. 15) - with a retinue of followers. She knows that the king has not now time to wander at leisure with her; and therefore she asks him to set forward his work for the day, and to make haste on the mountains till “the day cools and the shadows flee.” Then she will expect him back; then in the evening she will spend the time with him as he promised her. The verb פּוּח, with the guttural letter Hheth and the labial Pe, signifies spirare, here of being able to be breathed, i.e., cool, like the expression ha' רוּח, Gen 3:8 (where the guttural Hheth is connected with Resh). The shadows flee away, when they become longer and longer, as if on a flight, when they stretch out (Psa 109:23; Psa 102:12) and gradually disappear. Till that takes place - or, as we say, will be done - he shall hasten with the swiftness of a gazelle on the mountains, and that on the mountains of separation, i.e., the riven mountains, which thus present hindrances, but which he, the “swift as the gazelle” (vid., Sol 2:9), easily overcomes. Rightly, Bochart: montes scissionis, ita dicti propter, ῥωξημούς et χάσματα. Also, Luther's “Scheideberge” are “mountains with peaks, from one of which to the other one must spring.” We must not here think of Bithron (2Sa 2:29), for that is a mountain ravine on the east of Jordan; nor of Bar-Cochba's ביתר (Kirschbau, Landau), because this mountain (whether it be sought for to the south of Jerusalem or to be north of Antipatris) ought properly to be named ביתתר (vid., Aruch). It is worthy of observation, that in an Assyrian list of the names of animals, along with ṣbi (gazelle) and apparu (the young of the gazelle or of the hind), the name bitru occurs, perhaps the name of the rupicapra. At the close of the song, the expression “mountain of spices” occurs instead of “mountain of separation,” as here. There no more hindrances to be overcome lie in view, the rock-cliffs have become fragrant flowers. The request here made by Shulamith breathes self-denying humility, patient modesty, inward joy in the joy of her beloved. She will not claim him for herself till he has accomplished his work. But when he associates with her in the evening, as with the Emmaus disciples, she will rejoice if he becomes her guide through the new-born world of spring. The whole scene permits, yea, moves us to think of this, that the Lord already even now visits the church which loves Him, and reveals Himself to her; but that not till the evening of the world is His parousia to be expected.
Chap. 3 edit
Verse 1 edit
Sol 3:1 1 On my bed in the nights I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and found him not.
She does not mean to say that she sought him beside herself on her couch; for how could that be of the modest one, whose home-bringing is first described in the next act - she could and might miss him there neither waking nor sleeping. The commencement is like Job 33:15. She was at night on her couch, when a painful longing seized her: the beloved of her soul appeared to have forsaken her, to have withdrawn from her; she had lost the feeling of his nearness, and was not able to recover it. לילות is neither here nor at Sol 3:8 necessarily the categ. plur. The meaning may also be, that this pain, arising from a sense of being forgotten, always returned upon her for several nights through: she became distrustful of his fidelity; but the more she apprehended that she was no longer loved, the more ardent became her longing, and she arose to seek for him who had disappeared.
Verse 2 edit
Sol 3:2 2 So I will arise, then, and go about the city, The markets, and the streets; I will seek him whom my soul loveth! - I sought him, and found him not.
How could this night-search, with all the strength of love, be consistent with the modesty of a maiden? It is thus a dream which she relates. And if the beloved of her soul were a shepherd, would she seek him in the city, and not rather without, in the field or in some village? No; the beloved of her soul is Solomon; and in the dream, Jerusalem, his city is transported close to the mountains of her native home. The resolution expressed by “I will arise, then,” is not introduced by “then I said,” or any similar phrase: the scene consists of a monologue which dramatically represents that which is experienced. Regarding the second Chatef-Pathach of ואס, vid., Baer's Genesis, p. 7. שׁוקים is the plur of שׁוּק (= shavḳ), as שׁורים of שׁוּר (= shavr); the root-word שוק (Arab. shaḳ) signifies to press on, to follow after continuously; (Arab.) suwaḳ designates perhaps, originally, the place to which one drives cattle for sale, as in the desert; (Arab.) sawaḳ designates the place to which one drives cattle for drink (Wetzst.). The form אבקשׁה is without the Daghesh, as are all the forms of this verb except the imper.; the semi-guttural nature of the Koph has something opposing the simple Sheva.
Verse 3 edit
Shulamith now relates what she further experienced when, impelled by love-sorrow, she wandered through the city: 3 The watchmen who go about in the city found me: “Have ye seen him whom my soul loveth?”
Here also (as in Sol 3:2) there is wanting before the question such a phrase as, “and I asked them, saying:” the monologue relates dramatically. If she described an outward experience, then the question would be a foolish one; for how could she suppose that the watchmen, who make their rounds in the city (Epstein, against Grätz, points for the antiquity of the order to Psa 127:1; Isa 62:6; cf. Isa 21:11), could have any knowledge of her beloved! But if she relates a dream, it is to be remembered that feeling and imagination rise higher than reflection. It is in the very nature of a dream, also, that things thus quickly follow one another without fixed lineaments. This also, that having gone out by night, she found in the streets him whom she sought, is a happy combination of circumstances formed in the dreaming soul; an occurrence without probable external reality, although not without deep inner truth:
Verse 4 edit
Sol 3:4 4 Scarcely had I passed from them, When I found him whom my soul loveth. I seized him, and did not let him go Until I brought him into the house of my mother, And into the chamber of her that gave me birth. כּמעט = paululum, here standing for a sentence: it was as a little that I passed, etc. Without שׁ, it would be paululum transii; with it, paululum fuit quod transii, without any other distinction than that in the latter case the paululum is more emphatic. Since Shulamith relates something experienced earlier, אחזתּי is not fitly rendered by teneo, but by tenui; and ארפּנּוּ dna ;iune לאו, not by et non dimittam eum, but, as the neg. of וארפנו, et dimisi eum, - not merely et non dimittebam eum, but et non dimisi eum. In Gen 32:27 , we read the cogn. שׁלּח, which signifies, to let go (“let me go”), as הרפּה, to let loose, to let free. It is all the same whether we translate, with the subjective colouring, donec introduxerim, or, with the objective, donec introduxi; in either case the meaning is that she held him fast till she brought him, by gentle violence, into her mother's house. With בּית there is the more definite parallel חדר lellar, which properly signifies (vid., under Sol 1:4), recessus, penetrale; with אמּי, the seldom occurring (only, besides, at Hos 2:7) הורה, part.f. Kal of הרה fo la, to conceive, be pregnant, which poetically, with the accus., may mean parturire or parere. In Jacob's blessing, Gen 49:26, as the text lies before us, his parents are called הורי; just as in Arab. ummâni, properly “my two mothers,” may be used for “my parents;” in the Lat. also, parentes means father and mother zeugmatically taken together.
Verse 5 edit
The closing words of the monologue are addressed to the daughters of Jerusalem. 5 I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, By the gazelles or the hinds of the field, That ye awake not and disturb not love Till she pleases.
We are thus obliged apparently to think of the daughters of Jerusalem as being present during the relation of the dream. But since Shulamith in the following Act is for the first time represented as brought from her home to Jerusalem, it is more probable that she represented her experience to herself in secret, without any auditors, and feasting on the visions of the dream, which brought her beloved so near, that she had him by herself alone and exclusively, that she fell into such a love-ecstasy as Sol 2:7; and pointing to the distant Jerusalem, deprecates all disturbance of this ecstasy, which in itself is like a slumber pervaded by pleasant dreams. In two monologues dramatically constructed, the poet has presented to us a view of the thoughts and feelings by which the inner life of the maiden was moved in the near prospect of becoming a bride and being married. Whoever reads the Song in the sense in which it is incorporated with the canon, and that, too, in the historical sense fulfilled in the N.T., will not be able to read the two scenes from Shulamith's experience without finding therein a mirror of the intercourse of the soul with God in Christ, and cherishing thoughts such, e.g., as are expressed in the ancient hymn:Quando tandem venies, meus amor? Propera de Libano, dulcis amor! Clamat, amat sponsula: Veni, Jesu, Dulcis veni Jesu!
Verse 6 edit
Sol 3:6 6 Who is this coming up from the wilderness Like pillars of smoke, Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, With all aromatics of the merchants?
It is possible that זאת and עלה may be connected; but עני זה, Psa 34:7 (this poor man, properly, this, a poor man), is not analogous, it ought to be העלה זאת. Thus zoth will either be closely connected with מי, and make the question sharper and more animated, as is that in Gen 12:18, or it will be the subject which then, as in Isa 63:1; Job 38:2, cf. below Sol 7:5, Jon 4:11, Amo 9:12, is more closely written with indeterminate participles, according to which it is rightly accented. But we do not translate with Heiligst. quid est hoc quod adscendit, for mī asks after a person, mā after a thing, and only per attract. does mī stand for mā in Gen 33:8; Jdg 13:17; Mic 1:5; also not quis est hoc (Vaih.), for zoth after mi has a personal sense, thus: quis (quaenam) haec est. That it is a woman that is being brought forward those who ask know, even if she is yet too far off to be seen by them, because they recognise in the festal gorgeous procession a marriage party. That the company comes up from the wilderness, it may be through the wilderness which separates Jerusalem from Jericho, is in accordance with the fact that a maiden from Galilee is being brought up, and that the procession has taken the way through the Jordan valley (Ghôr); but the scene has also a typical colouring; for the wilderness is, since the time of the Mosaic deliverance out of Egypt, an emblem of the transition from a state of bondage to freedom, from humiliation to glory (vid., under Isa 40:3; Hos 1:11; Psa 68:5). The pomp is like that of a procession before which the censer of frankincense is swung. Columns of smoke from the burning incense mark the line of the procession before and after. תּימרות (תּים) here and at Job 3 (vid., Norzi) is formed, as it appears, from ימר, to strive upwards, a kindred form to אמר; cf. Isa 61:6 with Isa 17:6, Psa 94:4; the verb תּמר, whence the date-palm receives the name תּמר, is a secondary formation, like תּאב to אבה. Certainly this form תּימרה (cf. on the contrary, תּולדה) is not elsewhere to be supported; Schlottm. sees in it תמּרות, from תּמרה; but such an expansion of the word for Dag. dirimens is scarcely to be supposed. This naming of the pillars of smoke is poet., as Jon 3:3; cf. “a pillar of smoke,” Jdg 20:40. She who approaches comes from the wilderness, brought up to Jerusalem, placed on an elevation, “like pillars of smoke,” i.e., not herself likened thereto, as Schlottm. supposes it must be interpreted (with the tertium comp. of the slender, precious, and lovely), but encompassed and perfumed by such. For her whom the procession brings this lavishing of spices is meant; it is she who is incensed or perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. Schlottm. maintains that מקטּרת cannot mean anything else than “perfumed,” and therefore he reads מקּטרת (as Aq. ἀπὸ θυμιάματος, and Jerome). But the word mekuttěrěth does not certainly stand alone, but with the genit. foll.; and thus as “rent in their clothes,” 2Sa 13:31, signifies not such as are themselves rent, but those whose clothes are rent (Ewald, §288b, compare also de Sacy, II §321), so וגו מקט can also mean those for whom (for whose honour) this incense is expended, and who are thus fumigated with it. מר .t, myrrh, (Arab.) murr (vid., above under Sol 1:13), stands also in Exo 30:23 and Psa 45:9 at the head of the perfumes; it came from Arabia, as did also frankincense levōnā, Arab. lubân (later referred to benzoin); both of the names are Semitic, and the circumstance that the Tôra required myrrh as a component part of the holy oil, Exo 30:23, and frankincense as a component part of the holy incense, Exo 30:34, points to Arabia as the source whence they were obtained. To these two principal spices there is added ממּל (cf. Gen 6:20; Gen 9:2) as an et cetera. רוכל denotes the travelling spice merchants (traders in aromatics), and traders generally. אבקה, which is related to אבק as powder to dust (cf. abacus, a reckoning-table, so named from the sand by means of which arithmetical numbers were reckoned), is the name designating single drugs (i.e., dry wares; cf. the Arab. elixir = ξηρόν).
Verses 7-8 edit
The description of the palanquin now following, one easily attributes to another voice from the midst of the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 7 Lo! Solomon's palanquin, Threescore heroes are around it, Of the heroes of Israel, 8 All of them armed with the sword, expert in war. Each with his sword on his thigh, Against fear in the nights.
Since אפּריון, 9a, is not by itself a word clearly intelligible, so as to lead us fully to determine what is here meant by מטּה as distinguished from it, we must let the connection determine. We have before us a figure of that which is called in the post-bibl. Heb. כּלה הכנסת (the bringing-home of the bride). The bridegroom either betook himself to her parents' house and fetched his bride thence, which appears to be the idea lying at the foundation of Ps 45, if, as we believe, the ivory-palaces are those of the king of Israel's house; or she was brought to him in festal procession, and he went forth to meet her, 1 Macc. 9:39 - the prevailing custom, on which the parable of the ten virgins (Matt 25) is founded.
Here the bride comes from a great distance; and the difference in rank between the Galilean maid and the king brings this result, that he does not himself go and fetch her, but that she is brought to him. She comes, not as in old times Rebecca did, riding on a camel, but is carried in a mittā, which is surrounded by an escort for protection and as a mark of honour. Her way certainly led through the wilderness, where it was necessary, by a safe convoy, to provide against the possibility (min in mippahad, cf. Isa 4:6; Isa 25:4) of being attacked by robbers; whereas it would be more difficult to understand why the marriage-bed in the palace of the king of peace (1Ch 22:9) should be surrounded by such an armed band for protection. That Solomon took care to have his chosen one brought to him with royal honours, is seen in the lavish expenditure of spices, the smoke and fragrance of which signalized from afar the approach of the procession, - the mittā, which is now described, can be no other than that in which, sitting or reclining, or half sitting, half reclining, she is placed, who is brought to him in such a cloud of incense. Thus mittā (from nāthā, to stretch oneself out), which elsewhere is also used of a bier, 2Sa 3:21 (like the Talm. ערס = ערשׂ), will here signify a portable bed, a sitting cushion hung round with curtains after the manner of the Indian palanquin, and such as is found on the Turkish caiques or the Venetian gondolas. The appositional nearer definition שׁלּשׁ, “which belonged to Solomon” (vid., under 6b), shows that it was a royal palanquin, not one belonging to one of the nobles of the people. The bearers are unnamed persons, regarding whom nothing is said; the sixty heroes form only the guard for safety and for honour (sauvegarde), or the escorte or convoie. The sixty are the tenth part (the élite) of the royal body-guard, 1Sa 27:2; 1Sa 30:9, etc. (Schlottm.). If it be asked, Why just 60? we may perhaps not unsuitably reply: The number 60 is here, as at Sol 6:8, the number of Israel multiplied by 5, the fraction of 10; so that thus 60 distinguished warriors form the half to the escort of a king of Israel. חרב אחזי properly means, held fast by the sword so that it goes not let them free, which, according to the sense = holding fast = practised in the use of the sword; the Syr. translation of the Apoc. renders παντοκράτωρ by 'he who is held by all,” i.e., holding it (cf. Ewald, §149b).
Verses 9-10 edit
Another voice now describes the splendour of the bed of state which Solomon prepared in honour of Shulamith: 9 A bed of state hath King Solomon made for himself Of the wood of Lebanon. 10 Its pillars hath he made of silver, Its support of gold, its cushion of purple; Its interior is adorned from love By the daughters of Jerusalem.
The sound of the word, the connection and the description, led the Greek translators (the lxx, Venet., and perhaps also others) to render אפּריון, by φορεῖον, litter palanquin (Vulg. ferculum). The appiryon here described has a silver pedestal and a purple cushion - as we read in Athenaeus v. 13 (II p. 317, ed. Schweigh.) that the philosopher and tyrant Athenion showed himself “on a silver-legged φορεῖον, with purple coverlet;” and the same author, v. 5 (II p. 253), also says, that on the occasion of a festal procession by Antiochus Epiphanes, behind 200 women who sprinkled ointments from golden urns came 80 women, sitting in pomp on golden-legged, and 500 on silver-legged, φορεῖα - this is the proper name for the costly women's-litter (Suidas: φορεῖον γυναικεῖον), which, according to the number of bearers (Mart. VI 77: six Cappadocians and, ix. 2, eight Syrians), was called ἑξάφορον (hexaphorum, Mart. II 81) or ὀκτώφορον (octophorum, Cicero's Verr. v. 10). The Mishna, Sota ix. 14, uses appiryon in the sense of φορεῖον: “in the last war (that of Hadrian) it was decreed that a bride should not pass through the town in an appiryon on account of the danger, but our Rabbis sanctioned it later for modesty's sake;” as here, “to be carried in an appiryon,” so in Greek, προιέναι (καταστείχειν) ἐν φορείω. In the Midrash also, Bamidbar rabba c. 12, and elsewhere, appiryon of this passage before us is taken in all sorts of allegorical significations in most of which the identity of the word with φορεῖον is supposed, which is also there written פּוּרון (after Aruch), cf. Isa 49:22, Targ., and is once interchanged with פאפליון, papilio (parillon), pleasure-tent. But a Greek word in the Song is in itself so improbable, that Ewald describes this derivation of the word as a frivolous jest; so much the more improbable, as φορεῖον as the name of a litter (lectica) occurs first in such authors (of the κοινή) as Plutarch, Polybuis, Herodian, and the like, and therefore, with greater right, it may be supposed that it is originally a Semitic word, which the Greek language adopted at the time when the Oriental and Graeco-Roman customs began to be amalgamated. Hence, if mittā Sol 3:7, means a portable bed, - is evident from this, that it appears as the means of transport with an escort, - then appiryon cannot also mean a litter; the description, moreover, does not accord with a litter. We do not read of rings and carrying-poles, but, on the contrary, of pillars (as those of a tent-bed) instead, and, as might be expected, of feet. Schlottm., however, takes mittā and appiryon as different names for a portable bed; but the words, “an appiryon has King Solomon made,” etc., certainly indicate that he who thus speaks has not the appiryon before him, and also that this was something different from the mittā. While Schlottm. is inclined to take appiryon, in the sense of a litter, as a word borrowed from the Greek (but in the time of the first king?), Gesen. in his Thes. seeks to derive it, thus understood, from פּרה, cito ferri, currere; but this signification of the verb is imaginary.
We expect here, in accordance with the progress of the scene, the name of the bridal couch; and on the supposition that appiryon, Sota 12a, as in the Mishna, means the litter (Aruch) of the bride, Arab. maziffat, and not torus nuptialis (Buxt.), then there is a possibility that appiryon is a more dignified word for 'ěrěs, Sol 1:17, yet sufficient thereby to show that פּוּריא is the usual Talm. name of the marriage-bed (e.g., Mezia 23b, where it stand, per meton., for concubitus), which is wittily explained by שׁפרין ורבין עליה (Kethuboth 10b, and elsewhere). The Targ. has for it the form פּוּרין (vid., Levy). It thus designates a bed with a canopy (a tent-bed), Deu 32:50, Jerus; so that the ideas of the bed of state and the palanquin (cf. כילה, canopy, and כילת חתנים, bridal-bed, Succa 11a) touch one another. In general, פוריא (פורין, as is also the case with appiryon, must have been originally a common designation of certain household furniture with a common characteristic; for the Syr. aprautha, plur. parjevatha (Wiseman's Horae, p. 255), or also parha (Castell.), signifies a cradle. It is then to be inquired, whether this word is referable to a root-word which gives a common characteristic with manifold applications. But the Heb. פּרה, from the R. pr, signifies to split, to tear asunder, to break forth, to bring fruit, to be fruitful, and nothing further. Paaraa has nowhere the signification to run, as already remarked; only in the Palest.-Aram. פּרא is found in this meaning (vid., Buxt.). The Arab. farr does not signify to run, but to flee; properly (like our “ausreissen” = be tear out, to break out), to break open by flight the rank in which one stands (as otherwise turned by horse-dealers: to open wide the horse's mouth). But, moreover, we do not thus reach the common characteristic which we are in search of; for if we may say of the litter that it runs, yet we cannot say that of a bed or a cradle, etc. The Arab. farfâr, species vehiculi muliebris, also does not help us; for the verb farfar, to vacillate, to shake, is its appropriate root-word.
With better results shall we compare the Arab. fary, which, in Kal and Hiph., signifies to break open, to cut out (couper, tailler une étoffe), and also, figuratively, to bring forth something strange, something not yet existing (yafry alfaryya, according to the Arab. Lex. = yaty bal'ajab fy 'amalh, he accomplishes something wonderful); the primary meaning in Conj. viii. is evidently: yftarra kidban, to cut out lies, to meditate and to express that which is calumnious (a similar metaphor to khar'a, findere, viii. fingere, to cut out something in the imagination; French, inventer, imaginer). With this fary, however, we do not immediately reach פּוּריא, אפּריון; for fary, as well as fara (farw), are used only of cutting to pieces, cutting out, sewing together of leather and other materials (cf. Arab. farwat, fur; farrā, furrier), but not of cutting and preparing wood.
But why should not the Semitic language have used פּרה, פּרא, also, in the sense of the verb בּרא, which signifies to cut and hew, in the sense of forming (cf. Pih. כּרא, sculpere, Eze 21:24), as in the Arab. bara and bary, according to Lane, mean, “be formed or fashioned by cutting (a writing-reed, stick, bow), shaped out, or pared,” - in other words: Why should פרה, used in the Arab. of the cutting of leather, not be used, in the Heb. and Aram., of the preparing of wood, and thus of the fashioning of a bed or carriage? As חשּׁבון signifies a machine, and that the work of an engineer, so פּריון signifies timber-work, carpenter-work, and, lengthened especially by Aleph prosthet., a product of the carpenter's art, a bed of state. The Aleph prosth. would indeed favour the supposition that appiryon is a foreign word; for the Semitic language frequently forms words after this manner, - e.g., אמגּוּשׁא, a magician; אסמּרא, a stater.
But apart from such words as אגרטל, oddly sounding in accord with κάρταλλος as appiryon with φορεῖον, אבטּיח and אבעבּעה are examples of genuine Heb. words with such a prosthesis, i.e., an Aleph, as in אכזב and the like. אפּדן, palace, Dan 11:45, is, for its closer amalgamation by means of Dag., at least an analogous example; for thus it stands related to the Syr. opadna, as, e.g., (Syr.), oparsons, net, Ewald, §163c, to the Jewish-Aram. אפרסנא, or אפּרסנא; cf. also אפּתם, “finally,” in relation to the Pehlv. אפדוּם (Spiegel's Literatur der Parsen, p. 356).
We think we have thus proved that אפּריון is a Heb. word, which, coming from the verb פּרה, to cut right, to make, frame, signifies a bed, and that, as Ewald also renders, a bed of state. רפידה (from רפד, R. רף, to lift from beneath, sublevare, then sternere) is the head of the head of the bed; lxx ἀνάκλιτον; Jerome, reclinatorium, which, according to Isidore, is the Lat. vulgar name for the fulchra, the reclining (of the head and foot) of the bedstead. Schlottmann here involuntarily bears testimony that appiryon may at least be understood of a bed of state as well as of a litter of state; for he remarks: “The four sides of the bed were generally adorned with carved work, ivory, metal, or also, as in the case of most of the Oriental divans, with drapery.” “Nec mihi tunc,” says Porpertius, ii. 10, 11, “fulcro lectus sternatur eburno.” Here the fulcrum is not of ivory, but of gold. מרכּב (from רכב, to lie upon anything; Arab. II componere; Aethiop. adipisci) is that which one takes possession of, sitting or lying upon it, the cushion, e.g., of a saddle (Lev 15:9); here, the divan (vid., Lane, Mod. Egypt, I 10) arranged on an elevated frame, serving both as a seat and as a couch. Red purple is called ארגּמן, probably from רגם = רקם, as material of variegated colour. By the interior תּוך of the bed, is probably meant a covering which lay above this cushion. רצף, to arrange together, to combine (whence רצפה, pavement; Arab. ruṣafat, a paved way), is here meant like στορέννυμι, στόρνυμι, στρώννυμι, whence στρῶμα. And רצוּף אה is not equivalent to רצוּף אה (after the construction 1Ki 22:10; Eze 9:2), inlaid with love, but is the adv. accus of the manner; “love” (cf. hhesed, Psa 141:5) denotes the motive: laid out or made up as a bed from love on the part of the daughters of Jerusalem, i.e., the ladies of the palace - these from love to the king have procured a costly tapestry or tapestries, which they have spread over the purple cuchion. Thus rightly Vaihinger in his Comm., and Merx, Archiv. Bd. II 111-114. Schlottmann finds this interpretation of מן “stiff and hard;” but although מן in the pass. is not used like the Greek ὑπό, yet it can be used like ἀπό (Ewald, sec. 295b); and if there be no actual example of this, yet we point to Ps 45 in illustration of the custom of presenting gifts to a newly-married pair. He himself understands אהבה personally, as do also Ewald, Heiligst., Böttcher; “the voice of the people,” says Ewald, “knows that the finest ornament with which the invisible interior of the couch is adorned, is a love from among the daughters of Jerusalem, - i.e., some one of the court ladies who was raised, from the king's peculiar love to her, to the rank of a queen-consort. The speaker thus ingeniously names this newest favourite 'a love,' and at the same time designates her as the only thing with which this elegant structure, all adorned on the outside is adorned within.” Relatively better Böttcher: with a love (beloved one), prae filiis Hierus. But even though אהבה, like amor and amores, might be used of the beloved one herself, yet רצוף does not harmonize with this, seeing we cannot speak of being paved or tapestried with persons. Schlottm. in vain refers for the personal signification of אהבה to Sol 2:7, where it means love and nothing else, and seeks to bring it into accord with רצוף; for he remarks, “as the stone in mosaic work fills the place destined for it, so the bride the interior of the litter, which is intended for just one person filling it.” But is this not more comical, without intending to be so, than Juvenal's (i. 1. 32 s.):Causidici nova cum veniat lectica Mathonis Plena ipso ... .
But Schlottm. agrees with us in this, that the marriage which is here being prepared for was the consummation of the happiness of Solomon and Shulamith, not of another woman, and not the consummation of Solomon's assault on the fidelity of Shulamith, who hates him to whom she now must belong, loving only one, the shepherd for whom she is said to sigh (Sol 1:4), that he would come and take her away. “This triumphal procession,” says Rocke, “was for her a mourning procession, the royal litter a bier; her heart died within her with longing for her beloved shepherd.” Touching, if it were only true! Nowhere do we see her up to this point resisting; much rather she is happy in her love. The shepherd-hypothesis cannot comprehend this marriage procession without introducing incongruous and imaginary things; it is a poem of the time of Gellert. Solomon the seducer, and Shulamith the heroine of virtue, are figures as from Gellert's Swedish Countess; they are moral commonplaces personified, but not real human beings. In the litter sits Shulamith, and the appiryon waits for her. Solomon rejoices that now the reciprocal love-bond is to find its conclusion; and what Shulamith, who is brought from a lowly to so lofty a station, experiences, we shall hear her describe in the sequel.
Verse 11 edit
At the close of the scene, the call now goes forth to the daughters of Zion, i.e., the women of Jerusalem collectively, to behold the king, who now shows himself to the object of his love and to the jubilant crowd, as the festal procession approaches. 11 Come out, yet daughters of Zion, and see King Solomon with the crown With which his mother crowned him On the day of his espousal, And on the day of the gladness of his heart.
The women of the court, as distinguished from the Galilean maiden, are called “daughters of Jerusalem;” here, generally, the women of Zion or Jerusalem (Lam 5:11) are called “daughters of Zion.” Instead of צאנה (since the verb Lamed Aleph is treated after the manner of verbs Lamed He, cf. Jer 50:20; Eze 23:49), צאינה, and that defect. צאנה, is used for the sake of assonance with וּראינה; elsewhere also, as we have shown at Isa 22:13, an unusual form is used for the sake of the sound. It is seen from the Sota (ix. 14) that the old custom for the bridegroom to wear a “crown” was abolished in consequence of the awful war with Vespasian. Rightly Epstein, against Grätz, shows from Job 31:36; Isa 28:1; Psa 103:4, that men also crowned themselves. בּעטרה (with the crown) is, according to the best authorities, without the art., and does not require it, since it is determined by the relat. clause following. חתנה is the marriage (the word also used in the post-bibl. Heb., and interchanging with חפּה, properly νυμφών, Mat 9:15), from the verb חתן, which, proceeding from the root-idea of cutting into (Arab. khatn, to circumcise; R. חת .R ;, whence חתך, חתם, חתר), denotes the pressing into, or going into, another family; חתן is he who enters into such a relation of affinity, and חטן the father of her who is taken away, who also on his part is related to the husband.
Here also the seduction fable is shattered. The marriage with Shulamith takes place with the joyful consent of the queen-mother. In order to set aside this fatal circumstance, the “crown” is referred back to the time when Solomon was married to Pharaoh's daughter. Cogitandus est Salomo, says Heiligst., qui cum Sulamitha pompa sollemni Hierosolyma redit, eadem corona nuptiali ornatus, qua quum filiam regis Aegyptiorum uxorem duxeret ornatus erat. But was he then so poor or niggardly as to require to bring forth this old crown? and so basely regardless of his legitimate wife, of equal rank with himself, as to wound her by placing this crown on his head in honour of a rival? No; at the time when this youthful love-history occurred, Pharaoh's daughter was not yet married. The mention of his mother points us to the commencement of his reign. His head is not adorned with a crown which had already been worn, but with a fresh garland which his mother wreathed around the head of her youthful son. The men have already welcomed the procession from afar; but the king in his wedding attire has special attractions for the women - they are here called upon to observe the moment when the happy pair welcome one another.
Chap. 4 edit
Verse 1 edit
Sol 4:1 1a Lo, thou art fair, my friend! yes, thou art fair! Thine eyes are doves behind thy veil.
The Gr. Venet. translates, after Kimchi, “looking out from behind, thy hair flowing down from thy head like a mane.” Thus also Schultens, capillus plexus; and Hengst., who compares πλέγμα, 1Ti 2:9, and ἐμπλοκὴ τριχῶν, 1Pe 3:3, passages which do not accord with the case of Shulamith; but neither צמם, Arab. ṣmm, nor ṭmm signifies to plait; the latter is used of the hair when it is too abundant, and ready for the shears. To understand the hair as denoted here, is, moreover, inadmissible, inasmuch as מבעד cannot be used of the eyes in relation to the braids of hair hanging before them. Symm. rightly translates צמה by κάλυμμα veil (in the Song the lxx erroneously renders by σιωπήσεως behind thy silence), Isa 47:2. The verb צמם, (Arab.) ṣmam, a stopper, and (Arab.) alṣamma, a plaid in which one veils himself, when he wraps it around him.
The veil is so called, as that which closely hides the face. In the Aram. צמם, Palp. צמצם, means directly to veil, as e.g., Bereshith rabba c. 45, extr., of a matron whom the king lets pass before him it is said, פניה צימצמה. Shulamith is thus veiled. As the Roman bride wore the velum flammeum, so also the Jewish bride was deeply veiled; cf. Gen 24:65, where Rebecca veiled herself (Lat. nubit) before her betrothed. בּעד, constr. בּעד, a segolate noun, which denotes separation, is a prep. in the sense of pone, as in Arab. in that of post. Ewald, sec. 217m, supposes, contrary to the Arab., the fundamental idea of covering (cogn. בגד); but that which surrounds is thought of as separating, and at the same time as covering, the thing which it encompasses. From behind her veil, which covered her face (vid., Bachmann, under Jdg 3:23), her eyes gleam out, which, without needing to be supplemented by `עיני, are compared, as to their colour, motion, and lustre, to a pair of doves.
From the eyes the praise passes to the hair. 1b Thy hair is like a flock of goats Which repose downwards on Mount Gilead.
The hair of the bride's head was uncovered. We know from later times that she wore in it a wreath of myrtles and roses, or also a “golden city” (עיר שׁל זהב), i.e., an ornament which emblematically represented Jerusalem. To see that this comparison is not incongruous, we must know that sheep in Syria and Palestine are for the most part white; but goats, for the most part, black, or at least dark coloured, as e.g., the brown gedi Mamri. (Note: Burns, the Scottish poet, thinking that goats are white, transfers the comparison from the hair to the teeth: “Her teeth are like a flock of sheep,
With fleeces newly washen clean,
That slowly mount the rising steep;
And she's twa glancin', sparklin' een.”)
The verb גּלשׁ is the Arab. jls, which signifies, to rest upon; and is distinguished from the synon. q'd in this, that the former is used of him who has previously lain down; the latter, of one who first stands and then sits down.
The nejd bears also the name jals, as the high land raising itself, and like a dome sitting above the rest of the land. One has to think of the goats as having lain down, and thus with the upper parts of their bodies as raised up. מן in מהר is used almost as in מדּלי מר, Isa 40:15. A flock of goats encamped on a mountain (rising up, to one looking from a distance, as in a steep slope, and almost perpendicularly), and as if hanging down lengthwise on its sides, presents a lovely view adorning the landscape. Solomon likens to this the appearance of the locks of his beloved, which hang down over her shoulders. She was till now a shepherdess, therefore a second rural image follows:
Verse 2 edit
Sol 4:2 2 Thy teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep Which comes up from the washing All bearing twins, And a bereaved one is not among them.
The verb קצב is, as the Arab. shows, in the sense of tondere oves, the synon. of גּזז. With shorn (not to be shorn) sheep, the teeth in regard to their smoothness, and with washed sheep in regard to their whiteness, are compared - as a rule the sheep of Palestine are white; in respect of their full number, in which in pairs they correspond to one another, the one above to the one below, like twin births in which there is no break. The parallel passage, Sol 6:6, omits the point of comparison of the smoothness. That some days after the shearing the sheep were bathed, is evident from Columella 7:4. Regarding the incorrect exchange of mas. with fem. forms, vid., under Sol 2:7. The part. Hiph. מתאימות (cf. διδυματόκος, Theocr. i. 25) refers to the mothers, none of which has lost a twin of the pair she had borne. In “which come up from the washing,” there is perhaps thought of, at the same time with the whiteness, the saliva dentium. The moisture of the saliva, which heightens the glance of the teeth, is frequently mentioned in the love-songs of Mutenebbi, Hariri, and Deschami. And that the saliva of a clean and sound man is not offensive, is seen from this, that the Lord healed a blind man by means of His spittle.
Verse 3 edit
The mouth is next praised: 3a Like a thread of crimson thy lips, And thy mouth is lovely,
As distinguished from red-purple, ארגּמן, שׁני (properly, shining, glistening; for this form has an active signification, like נקי, as well as a passive, like עני) - fully, שׁני תּולעת - signifies the kermes or worm-colour; the karmese, the red juice of the cochineal. מדבּרך (מדבּריך) is translated by the lxx “thy speech;” Jerome, eloquium; and the Venet. “thy dialogue;” but that would be expressed, though by a ἁπ. λεγ., by מדבּר דבּוּרך is here the name of the mouth, the naming of which one expects; the preform. is the mem instrumenti: the mouth, as the instrument of speech, as the organ by which the soul expresses itself in word and in manner of speech. The poet needed for פּיך a fuller, more select word; just as in Syria the nose is not called anf, but minchâr (from nachara, to blow, to breathe hard).
Praise of her temples. 3b Like a piece of pomegranate thy temples Behind thy veil. רקּה is the thin piece of the skull on both sides of the eyes; Lat., mostly in the plur., tempora; German, schläfe, from schlaff, loose, slack, i.e., weak = רק. The figure points to that soft mixing of colours which makes the colouring of the so-called carnation one of the most difficult accomplishments in the art of painting. The half of a cut pomegranate (Jer. fragmen mali punici) is not meant after its outer side, as Zöckler supposes, for he gives to the noun rǎkkā, contrary to Jdg 4:21; Jdg 5:26, the meaning of cheek, a meaning which it has not, but after its inner side, which presents a red mixed and tempered with the ruby colour, - a figure so much the more appropriate, since the ground-colour of Shulamith's countenance is a subdued white.
Up to this point the figures are borrowed from the circle of vision of a shepherdess. Now the king derives them from the sphere of his own experience as the ruler of a kingdom. She who has eyes like doves is in form like a born queen.
Verse 4 edit
Sol 4:4 4 Like the tower of David thy neck, Built in terraces; Thereon a thousand shields hang, All the armour of heroes.
The tower of David, is, as it appears, “the tower of the flock,” Mic 4:4, from which David surveyed the flock of his people. In Neh 3:25. it is called the “tower which lieth out from the king's high house,” i.e., not the palace, but a government house built on Zion, which served as a court of justice. But what is the meaning of the ἁπ. λεγ. תּלפּיּות? Grätz translates: for a prospect; but the Greek τηλωπός, of which he regards תל as the Heb. abstr., is a word so rare that its introduction into the Semitic language is on that account improbable. Hengst. translates: built for hanging swords; and he sees in the word a compound of תּל (from תּלה, with which forms such as יד = jadj, שׁד = shadj, שׁל, 2Sa 6:7, are compared) and פּיּות; but this latter word signifies, not swords, but edges of the (double-edged) sword; wherefore Kimchi (interpreting תּל as the constr. of תל, as אל, in בּצלאל, is of צל) explains: an erection of sharp-cornered stones; and, moreover, the Heb. language knows no such nmm. comp. appellativa: the names of the frog, צפרדּע, and the bat, עטלּף (cf. the Beth in [Arab.] sa'lab, fox, with the added Pe), are not such; and also tsalmāveth, the shadow of death, is at a later period, for the first time, restamped as such from the original tsalmuth (cf. Arab. zalumat = tenebrae). Gesen. obtains the same meanings; for he explains לתל by exitialibus (sc.,, armis), from an adj. תּלפּי, from תּלף = Arab. talifa, to perish, the inf. of which, talaf, is at the present day a word synon. with halak (to perish); (Arab.) matlaf (place of going down) is, like ישׁמון, a poetic name of the wilderness. The explanation is acceptable but hazardous, since neither the Heb. nor the Aram. shows a trace of this verb; and it is thus to be given up, if תלף can be referred to a verbal stem to be found in the Heb. and Aram. This is done in Ewald's explanation, to which also Böttcher and Rödig. give the preference: built for close (crowded) troops (so, viz., that many hundreds or thousands find room therein); the (Arab.) verb aff, to wrap together (opp. nashar, to unfold), is used of the packing together of multitudes of troops (liff, plur. lufuf), and also of warlike hand-to-hand conflicts; תלף would be traced to a verb לפה synon. therewith, after the form תּאניּה. But if תלף were meant of troops, then they would be denoted as the garrison found therein, and it would not be merely said that the tower was built for such; for the point of comparison would then be, the imposing look of the neck, overpowering by the force of the impression proceeding from within. But now, in the Aram., and relatively in the Talm. Heb., not only לפף and לוּף occur, but also לפי (Af. אלפי), and that in the sense of enclosure, i.e., of joining together, the one working into the other, - e.g., in the Targ.: of the curtain of the tabernacle (בּית לופי, place of the joining together = חברת or מחבּרת of the Heb. text); and in the Talm.: of the roofs of two houses (Bathra 6a, לוּפתּא, the joining).
Accordingly לתלף, if we interpret the Lamed not of the definition, but of the norm, may signify, “in ranks together.” The Lamed has already been thus rendered by Döderl.: “in turns” (cf. לפת, to turn, to wind); and by Meier, Mr.: “in gradation;” and Aq. and Jerome also suppose that תלף refers to component parts of the building itself, for they understand pinnacles or parapets (ἐπάλξεις, propugnacula); as also the Venet.: εἰς ἐπάλξεις χιλίας. But the name for pinnacles is פּנּהּ, and their points, שׁמשׁות; while, on the contrary, תלף is the more appropriate name for terraces which, connected together, rise the one above the other. Thus to build towers like terraces, and to place the one, as it were, above the other, was a Babylonian custom.
The comparison lies in this, that Shulamith's neck was surrounded with ornaments so that it did not appear as a uniform whole, but as composed of terraces. That the neck is represented as hung round with ornaments, the remaining portion of the description shows. מגן signifies a shield, as that which protects, like clupeus (clypeus), perhaps connected with καλύπτειν and שׁלט, from שׁלט = (Arab.) shalita, as a hard impenetrable armour. The latter is here the more common word, which comprehends, with מגן, the round shield; also צנּה, the oval shield, which covers the whole body; and other forms of shields. המּגן אלף, “the thousand shields,” has the indicative, if not (vid., under Sol 1:11) the generic article. The appositional כּל שׁלטי הגּ is not intended to mean: all shields of (von) heroes, which it would if the article were prefixed to col and omitted before gibborim, or if כּלם, Sol 3:8, were used; but it means: all the shields of heroes, as the accentuation also indicates. The article is also here significant. Solomon made, according to 1Ki 10:16., 200 golden targets and 300 golden shields, which he put in the house of the forest of Lebanon. These golden shields Pharaoh Shishak took away with him, and Rehoboam replaced them by “shields of brass,” which the guards bore when they accompanied the king on his going into the temple (1Ki 14:26-28; cf. 2Ch 12:9-11); these “shields of David,” i.e., shields belonging to the king's house, were given to the captains of the guard on the occasion of the raising of Joash to the throne, 2Ki 11:10; cf. 2Ch 23:9. Of these brazen shields, as well as of those of gold, it is expressly said how and where they were kept, nowhere that they were hung up outside on a tower, the tower of David. Such a display of the golden shields is also very improbable. We will perhaps have to suppose that 4b describes the tower of David, not as it actually was, but as one has to represent it to himself, that it might be a figure of Shulamith's neck. This is compared to the terraced tower of David, if one thinks of it as hung round by a thousand shields which the heroes bore, those heroes, namely, who formed the king's body-guard. Thus it is not strange that to the 200 + 300 golden shields are here added yet 500 more; the body-guard, reckoned in companies of 100 each, 2Ki 11:4, is estimated as consisting of 1000 men. The description, moreover, corresponds with ancient custom. The words are עליו תּלוּי, not בּו תּלוּי; the outer wall of the tower is thought of as decorated with shields hung upon it. That shields were thus hung round on tower-walls, Ezekiel shows in his prophecy regarding Tyre, Eze 27:11; cf. 1 Macc. 4:57, and supra foris Capitolinae aedis, Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxxv. 3; and although we express the presumption that Solomon's imagination represented David's tower as more gorgeous than it actually was, yet we must confess that we are not sufficiently acquainted with Solomon's buildings to be able to pass judgment on this. These manifold inexplicable references of the Song to the unfolded splendour of Solomon's reign, are favourable to the Solomonic authorship of the book. This grandiose picture of the distinguished beauty of the neck, and the heightening of this beauty by the ornament of chains, is now followed by a beautiful figure, which again goes back to the use of the language of shepherds, and terminates the description:
Verse 5 edit
Sol 4:5 5 Thy two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle, Which feed among lilies.
The dual, originating in the inner differ. of the plur., which denotes in Heb. not two things of any sort, but two paired by nature or by art, exists only in the principal form; שׁדים, as soon as inflected, is unrecognisable, therefore here, where the pair as such is praised, the word שׁני is used. The breasts are compared to a twin pair of young gazelles in respect of their equality and youthful freshness, and the bosom on which they raise themselves is compared to a meadow covered with lilies, on which the twin-pair of young gazelles feed. With this tender lovely image the praise of the attractions of the chosen one is interrupted.
If one counts the lips and the mouth as a part of the body, which they surely are, there are seven things here praised, as Hengst. rightly counts (the eyes, the hair, teeth, mouth, temples, neck, breasts); and Hahn speaks with right of the sevenfold beauty of the bride.
Verse 6 edit
Shulamith replies to these words of praise: 6 Until the day cools and the shadows flee, I will go forth to the mountain of myrrh And to the hill of frankincense.
All those interpreters who suppose these to be a continuation of Solomon's words, lose themselves in absurdities. Most of them understand the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense of Shulamith's attractions, praised in Sol 4:5, or of her beauty as a whole; but the figures would be grotesque (cf. on the other hand Sol 5:13), and אל לי אלך prosaic, wherefore it comes that the idea of betaking oneself away connects itself with לו הלך (Gen 12:1; Exo 18:27), or that it yet preponderates therein (Gen 22:2; Jer 5:5), and that, for לי אלך in the passage before us in reference to Sol 2:10-11, the supposition holds that it will correspond with the French jè m'en irai. With right Louis de Leon sees in the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense names of shady and fragrant places; but he supposes that Solomon says he wishes to go thither to enjoy a siesta, and that he invites Shulamith thither. But we read nothing of this invitation; and that a bridegroom should sleep a part of his marriage-day is yet more unnatural than that, e.g., Wilh. Budäus, the French philologist, spent a part of the same at work in his study. That not Solomon but Shulamith speaks here is manifest in the beginning, “until the day,” etc., which at Sol 2:17 are also Shulamith's words. Anton (1773) rightly remarks, “Shulamith says this to set herself free.” But why does she seek to make herself free? It is answered, that she longs to be forth from Solomon's too ardent eulogies; she says that, as soon as it is dark, she will escape to the blooming aromatic fields of her native home, where she hopes to meet with her beloved shepherd. Thus, e.g., Ginsburg (1868). But do myrrh and frankincense grow in North Palestine? Ginsburg rests on Florus' Epitome Rerum Rom. iii. 6, where Pompey the Great is said to have passed over Lebanon and by Damascus “per nemora illa odorata, per thuris et balsami sylvas.” But by these thuris et balsami sylvae could be meant only the gardens of Damascus; for neither myrrh nor frankincense is indigenous to North Palestine, or generally to any part of Palestine. Friedrich (1866) therefore places Shulamith's home at Engedi, and supposes that she here once more looks from the window and dotes on the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense, “where, at the approach of twilight, she was wont to look out for her betrothed shepherd.” But Shulamith, as her name already denotes, is not from the south, but is a Galilean, and her betrothed shepherd is from Utopia! That myrrh and frankincense were planted in the gardens of Engedi is possible, although (Sol 1:14) mention is made only of the Al-henna there. But here places in the neighbourhood of the royal palace must be meant; for the myrrh tree, the gum of which, prized as an aroma, is the Arab. Balsamodendron Myrrha, and the frankincense tree, the resin of which is used for incense, is, like the myrrh tree, an Arab. amyrid. The Boswellia serrata, indigenous to the East Indies, furnishes the best frankincense; the Israelites bought it from Sheba (Isa 60:6; Jer 6:20). The myrrh tree as well as the frankincense tree were thus exotics in Palestine, as they are in our own country; but Solomon, who had intercourse with Arabia and India by his own mercantile fleet, procured them for his own garden (Ecc 2:5). The modest Shulamith shuns the loving words of praise; for she requests that she may be permitted to betake herself to the lonely places planted with myrrh and frankincense near the king's palace, where she thinks to tarry in a frame of mind befitting this day till the approaching darkness calls her back to the king. It is the importance of the day which suggests to her this לי אלך, a day in which she enters into the covenant of her God with Solomon (Pro 2:17). Without wishing to allegorize, we may yet not omit to observe, that the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense put us in mind of the temple, where incense, composed of myrrh, frankincense, and other spices, ascended up before God every morning and evening (Exo 30:34.). המּור הר is perhaps a not unintentional accord to הר המּוריּה (2Ch 3:1), the mountain where God appeared; at all events, “mountain of myrrh” and “hill of frankincense” are appropriate names for places of devout meditation, where one holds fellowship with God.
Verse 7 edit
This childlike modest disposition makes her yet more lovely in the eyes of the king. He breaks out in these words: 7 Thou art altogether fair, my love, And no blemish in thee.
Certainly he means, no blemish either of soul or body. In Sol 4:1-5 he has praised her external beauty; but in Sol 4:6 her soul has disclosed itself: the fame of her spotless beauty is there extended to her would no less than to her external appearance. And as to her longing after freedom from the tumult and bustle of court life, he thus promises to her:
Verse 8 edit
Sol 4:8 8 With me from Lebanon, my bride, With me from Lebanon shalt thou come; Shalt look from the top of Amana, From the top of Shenir and Hermon, From dens of lions, From mountains of leopards.
Zöckl. interprets אתּי in the sense of אלי, and תּשׁוּרי in the sense of journeying to this definite place: “he announces to her in overflowing fulness of expression that from this time forth, instead of the lonely mountainous regions, and the dangerous caves and dens, she shall inhabit with him the royal palace.” Thus also Kingsbury. But the interpretation, however plausible, cannot be supported. For (1) such an idea ought to be expressed either by תב אלי or by תשׁבי ואתּי תב, instead of אתּי תּב; (2) Shulamith is not from Lebanon, nor from the Anti-Libanus, which looks toward Damascus; (3) this would be no answer to Shulamith's longing for lonely quietness. We therefore hold by our explanation given in 1851. He seeks her to go with him up the steep heights of Lebanon, and to descend with him from thence; for while ascending the mountain one has no view before him, but when descending he has the whole panorama of the surrounding region lying at his feet. Thus תשׁ is not to be understood as at Isa 57:9, where it has the meaning of migrabas, but, as at Num 23:9, it means spectabis. With מר the idea of prospect lies nearer than that of descending; besides, the meaning spectare is secondary, for שׁוּר signifies first “to go, proceed, journey,” and then “going to view, to go in order to view.” Sêr in Arab. means “the scene,” and sêr etmek in Turkish, “to contemplate” (cf. Arab. tamashy, to walk, then, to contemplate). Lebanon is the name of the Alpine range which lies in the N.-W. of the Holy Land, and stretches above 20 (German) miles from the Leontes (Nahr el-Kasmîe) northwards to the Eleutheros (Nahr el-Kebîr). The other three names here found refer to the Anti-Libanus separated from the Lebanon by the Coelo-Syrian valley, and stretching from the Banis northwards to the plain of Hamâth.Amana denotes that range of the Anti-Libanus from which the springs of the river Amana issue, one of the two rivers which the Syrian captain (2Ki 5:12) named as better than all the waters of Israel. These are the Amana and Pharpar, i.e., the Baradâ and A'wadsh; to the union of the Baradâ (called by the Greeks Chrysorrhoas, i.e., “golden stream”) with the Feidshe, the environs of Damascus owe their ghuwdat, their paradisaical beauty.
Hermon (from חרם, to cut of; cf. Arab. kharom and makhrim, the steep projection of a mountain) is the most southern peak of the Anti-Libanus chain, the lofty mountains (about 10, 000 feet above the level of the sea) which form the north-eastern border of Palestine, and from which the springs of the Jordan take their rise.
Another section of the Anti-Libanus range is called Senir, not Shenir. The name, in all the three places where it occurs (Deu 3:9; 1Ch 5:23), is, in accordance with tradition, to be written with Sin. The Onkelos Targum writes סריון; the Jerusalem paraphrases, טורא דמסרי פירוי (the mountain whose fruits become putrid, viz., on account of their superabundance); the Midrash explains otherwise: שהוא שובא הניר (the mountain which resists being broken up by the plough), - everywhere the writing of the word with the letter Sin is supposed. According to Deu 3:9, this was the Amorite name of Hermon. The expression then denotes that the Amorites called Hermon - i.e., the Anti-Libanus range, for they gave the name of a part to the whole range - by the name Senîr; Abulfeda uses Arab. snîr as the name of the part to the north of Damascus, with which the statement of Schwarz (Das h. Land, p. 33) agrees, that the Hermon (Anti-Libanus) to the north-west of Damascus is called Senîr. נמרים, panthers, to the present day inhabit the clefts and defiles of the Lebanon, and of the Anti-Libanus running parallel to it; whereas lions have now altogether disappeared from the countries of the Mediterranean. In Solomon's time they were to be met with in the lurking-places of the Jordan valley, and yet more frequently in the remote districts of the northern Alpine chains. From the heights of these Alps Solomon says Shulamith shall alone with him look down from where the lions and panthers dwell. Near these beasts of prey, and yet inaccessible by them, shall she enjoy the prospect of the extensive pleasant land which was subject to the sceptre of him who held her safe on these cliffs, and accompanied her over these giddy heights. If “mountain of myrrh,” so also “the top of Amana” is not without subordinate reference. Amana, proceeding from the primary idea of firmness and verification, signifies fidelity and the faithful covenant as it is established between God and the congregation, for He betrothes it to Himself b'mwnh (“in faithfulness”), Hos 2:22 ; the congregation of which the apostle (Eph 5:27) says the same as is here said by Solomon of Shulamith. Here for the first time he calls her כלה, not כּלּתי; for that, according to the usus loq., would mean “my daughter-in-law.” Accordingly, it appears that the idea of “daughter-in-law” is the primary, and that of “bride” the secondary one. כּלה, which is = כּלוּלה, as חלּה, a cake, is = חלוּלה, that which is pierced through (cf. כּלוּלות, being espoused; Jer 2:2), appears to mean (cf. what was said regarding חתן under Sol 3:11) her who is comprehended with the family into which, leaving her parents' house, she enters; not her who is embraced = crowned with a garland (cf. Arab. qkll, to be garlanded; tēklîl, garlanding; iklil, Syr. kelilo, a wreath), or her who is brought to completion (cf. the verb, Eze 27:4, Eze 27:11), i.e., has reached the goal of her womanly calling. Besides, כּלה, like “Braut” in the older German (e.g., Gudrun), means not only her who is betrothed, but also her who has been lately married.
Verse 9 edit
All that the king calls his, she now can call hers; for she has won his heart, and with his heart himself and all that is his. 9 Thou hast taken my heart, my sister-bride; Thou hast taken my heart with one of thy glances, With a little chain of thy necklace.
The Piel לבּב may mean to make courageous, and it actually has this meaning in the Aram., wherefore the Syr. retains the word; Symm. renders it by ἐθάρσυνάς με. But is it becoming in a man who is no coward, especially in a king, to say that the love he cherishes gives him heart, i.e., courage? It might be becoming, perhaps, in a warrior who is inspired by the thought of his beloved, whose respect and admiration he seeks to gain, to dare the uttermost. But Solomon is no Antar, no wandering knight.
Besides, the first effect of love is different: it influences those whom it governs, not as encouraging, in the first instance, but as disarming them; love responded to encourages, but love in its beginning, which is the subject here, overpowers. We would thus more naturally render: “thou hast unhearted me;” but “to unheart,” according to the Semitic and generally the ancient conception of the heart (Psychol. p. 254), does not so much mean to captivate the heart, as rather to deprive of understanding or of judgment (cf. Hos 4:11). Such denomin. Pi. of names of corporeal members signify not merely taking away, but also wounding, and generally any violent affection of it, as זנּב, גּרם, Ewald, §120c; accordingly the lxx, Venet., and Jerome: ἐκαρδίωσάς με, vulnerasti cor meum. The meaning is the same for “thou hast wounded my heart” = “thou hast subdued my heart” (cf. Psa 45:6). With one of her glances, with a little chain of her necklace, she has overcome him as with a powerful charm: veni, visa sum, vici. The Kerı̂ changes באחד into בּאחת; certainly עין is mostly fem. (e.g., Jdg 16:28), but not only the non-bibl. usus loq., which e.g., prefers רעה or רע עין, of a malignant bewitching look, but also the bibl. (vid., Zec 3:9; Zec 4:10) treats the word as of double gender. ענק and צוּרנים are related to each other as a part is to the whole. With the subst. ending ôn, the designation of an ornament designed for the neck is formed from צוּאר, the neck; cf. שׂהרון, the “round tires like the moon” of the women's toilet, Isa 3:18. ענק (connected with אחד ענק, cervix) is a separate chain (Aram. עוּנקתא) of this necklace. In the words ענק אחד, אחד is used instead of אחד, occurring also out of genit. connection (Gen 48:22; 2Sa 17:22), and the arrangement (vid., under Psa 89:51) follows the analogy of the pure numerals as נשׁים שׁלשׁ; it appears to be transferred from the vulgar language to that used in books, where, besides the passage before us, it occurs only in Dan 8:13. That a glance of the eye may pierce the heart, experience shows; but how can a little chain of a necklace do this? That also is intelligible. As beauty becomes unlike itself when the attire shows want of taste, so by means of tasteful clothing, which does not need to be splendid, but may even be of the simplest kind, it becomes mighty. Hence the charming attractive power of the impression one makes communicates itself to all that he wears, as, e.g., the woman with the issue of blood touched with joyful hope the hem of Jesus' garment; for he who loves feels the soul of that which is loved in all that stands connected therewith, all that is, as it were, consecrated and charmed by the beloved object, and operates so much the more powerfully if it adorns it, because as an ornament of that which is beautiful, it appears so much the more beautiful. In the preceding verse, Solomon has for the first time addressed Shulamith by the title “bride.” Here with heightened cordiality he calls her “sister-bride.” In this change in the address the progress of the story is mirrored. Why he does not say כּלּתי (my bride), has already been explained, under Sol 4:8, from the derivation of the word. Solomon's mother might call Shulamith callathi, but he gives to the relation of affinity into which Shulamith has entered a reference to himself individually, for he says ahhothi callaa (my sister-bride): she who as callaa of his mother is to her a kind of daughter, is as callaa in relation to himself, as it were, his sister.
Verses 10-11 edit
He proceeds still further to praise her attractions. 10 How fair is thy love, my sister-bride! How much better thy love than wine! And the fragrance of thy unguents than all spices! 11 Thy lips drop honey, my bride; Honey and milk are under thy tongue; And the fragrance of thy garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.
Regarding the connection of the pluralet. דּודים with the plur. of the pred., vid., at Sol 1:2. The pred. יפוּ praises her love in its manifestations according to its impression on the sight; טבוּ, according to its experience on nearer intercourse. As in Sol 4:9 the same power of impression is attributed to the eyes and to the necklace, so here is intermingled praise of the beauty of her person with praise of the fragrance, the odour of the clothing of the bride; for her soul speaks out not only by her lips, she breathes forth odours also for him in her spices, which he deems more fragrant than all other odours, because he inhales, as it were, her soul along with them. נפת, from נפת, ebullire (vid., under Pro 5:3, also Schultens), is virgin honey, ἄκοιτον (acetum, Pliny, xi. 15), i.e., that which of itself flows from the combs (צוּפים). Honey drops from the lips which he kisses; milk and honey are under the tongue which whispers to him words of pure and inward joy; cf. the contrary, Psa 140:4. The last line is an echo of Gen 27:27. שׂלמה is שׂמלה (from שׂמל, complicare, complecti) transposed (cf. עלנה from עולה, כּשׂבּה from כּבשׂה). As Jacob's raiment had for his old father the fragrance of a field which God had blessed, so for Solomon the garments of the faultless and pure one, fresh from the woods and mountains of the north, gave forth a heart-strengthening savour like the fragrance of Lebanon (Hos 4:7), viz., of its fragrant herbs and trees, chiefly of the balsamic odour of the apples of the cedar.
Verse 12 edit
The praise is sensuous, but it has a moral consecration. 12 A garden locked is my sister-bride; A spring locked, a fountain sealed. גּן (according to rule masc. Böttch. §658) denotes the garden from its enclosure; גּ (elsewhere נּלּה ere), the fountain (synon. מבּוּע), the waves bubbling forth (cf. Amo 5:24); and מעין, the place, as it were an eye of the earth, from which a fountain gushes forth. Luther distinguishes rightly between gan and gal; on the contrary, all the old translators (even the Venet.) render as if the word in both cases were gan. The Pasek between gan and nā'ul, and between gal and nā'ul, is designed to separate the two Nuns, as e.g., at 2Ch 2:9; Neh 2:2, the two Mems; it is the orthophonic Pasek, already described under Sol 2:7, which secures the independence of two similar or organically related sounds. Whether the sealed fountain (fons signatus) alludes to a definite fountain which Solomon had built for the upper city and the temple place, we do not now inquire. To a locked garden and spring no one has access but the rightful owner, and a sealed fountain is shut against all impurity. Thus she is closed against the world, and inaccessible to all that would disturb her pure heart, or desecrate her pure person.
All the more beautiful and the greater is the fulness of the flowers and fruits which bloom and ripen in the garden of this life, closed against the world and its lust.
Verses 13-14 edit
Sol 4:13-14 13 What sprouts forth for thee is a park of pomegranates, With most excellent fruits; Cypress flowers with nards; 14 Nard and crocus; calamus and cinnamon, With all kinds of incense trees; Myrrh and aloes, With all the chief aromatics.
The common subject to all down to Sol 4:15 inclusive is שׁלחיך (“what sprouts for thee” = “thy plants”), as a figurative designation, borrowed from plants, of all the “phenomena and life utterances” (Böttch.) of her personality. “If I only knew here,” says Rocke, “how to disclose the meaning, certainly all these flowers and fruits, in the figurative language of the Orient, in the flower-language of love, had their beautiful interpretation.” In the old German poetry, also, the phrase bluomen brechen to break flowers was equivalent to: to enjoy love; the flowers and fruits named are figures of all that the amata offers to the amator. Most of the plants here named are exotics; פּרדּס (heaping around, circumvallation, enclosing) is a garden or park, especially with foreign ornamental and fragrant plants - an old Persian word, the explanation of which, after Spiegel, first given in our exposition of the Song, 1851 (from pairi = περί, and dêz, R. diz, a heap), has now become common property (Justi's Handb. der Zendsprache, p. 180). מגדים פּרי (from מגד, which corresponds to The Arab. mejd, praise, honour, excellence; vid., Volck under Deu 33:13) are fructus laudum, or lautitiarum, excellent precious fruits, which in the more modern language are simply called מגדים (Shabbath 127b, מיני מגדים, all kinds of fine fruits); cf. Syr. magdo, dried fruit. Regarding כּפר, vid., under Sol 1:14; regarding מר, under Sol 1:13; also regarding נרדּ, under Sol 1:12. The long vowel of נרדּ corresponds to the Pers. form nârd, but near to which is also nard, Indian nalada (fragrance-giving); the ē is thus only the long accent, and can therefore disappear in the plur. For נרדים, Grätz reads ירדים, roses, because the poet would not have named nard twice. The conjecture is beautiful, but for us, who believe the poem to be Solomonic, is inconsistent with the history of roses (vid., under Sol 2:1), and also unnecessary. The description moves forward by steps rhythmically. כּרוכם is the crocus stativus, the genuine Indian safran, the dried flower-eyes of which yield the safran used as a colour, as an aromatic, and also as medicine; safran is an Arab. word, and means yellow root and yellow colouring matter. The name כּרוכם, Pers. karkam, Arab. karkum, is radically Indian, Sanscr. kunkuma. קנה, a reed (from קנה, R. qn, to rise up, viewed intrans.), viz., sweet reed, acorus calamus, which with us now grows wild in marshes, but is indigenous to the Orient. קנּמנן is the laurus cinnamomum, a tree indigenous to the east coast of Africa and Ceylon, and found later also on the Antilles. It is of the family of the laurineae, the inner bark of which, peeled off and rolled together, is the cinnamon-bark (cannella, French cannelle); Aram. קוּנמא, as also the Greek κιννάμοομον and κίνναμον, Lat. (e.g., in the 12th book of Pliny) cinnamomum and cinnamum, are interchanged, from קנם, probably a secondary formation from קנה (like בּם, whence בּמה, from בּא), to which also Syr. qenûmā', ὑπόστασις, and the Talm.-Targ. קנּוּם קונם, an oath (cf. קים), go back, so that thus the name which was brought to the west by the Phoenicians denoted not the tree, but the reed-like form of the rolled dried bark. As “nards” refer to varieties of the nard, perhaps to the Indian and the Jamanic spoken of by Strabo and others, so “all kinds of incense trees” refers definitely to Indo-Arab. varieties of the incense tree and its fragrant resin; it has its name fro the white and transparent seeds of this its resin (cf. Arab. lubân, incense and benzoin, the resin of the storax tree, לבנה); the Greek λίβανος, λιβανωτός (Lat. thus, frankincense, from θύω), is a word derived from the Pheonicians. אהלות or אהלים (which already in a remarkable way was used by Balaam, Num 24:6, elsewhere only since the time of Solomon) is the Semitized old Indian name of the aloe, agaru or aguru; that which is aromatic is the wood of the aloe-tree (aloëxylon agallochum), particularly its dried root (agallochum or lignum aloës, ξυλαλόη, according to which the Targ. here: אלואין אכסיל, after the phrase in Aruch) mouldered in the earth, which chiefly came from farther India. עם, as everywhere, connects things contained together or in any way united (Sol 5:1; cf. Sol 1:11, as Psa 87:4; cf. 1Sa 16:12). The concluding phrase וגו כּל־ר, cum praestantissimis quibusque aromatibus, is a poet. et cetera. ראשׁ, with the gen. of the object whose value is estimated, denotes what is of meilleure qualité; or, as the Talm. says, what is אלפא, ἄλφα, i.e., number one. Ezek; Eze 27:22, in a similar sense, says, “with chief (ראשׁ) of all spices.”
Verse 15 edit
The panegyric returns now once more to the figure of a fountain. 15 A garden-fountain, a well of living water, And torrents from Lebanon.
The tertium compar. in Sol 4:12 was the collecting and sealing up; here, it is the inner life and its outward activity. A fountain in gardens (גּנּים, categ. pl.) is put to service for the benefit of the beds of plants round about, and it has in these gardens, as it were, its proper sphere of influence. A well of living water is one in which that which is distributes springs up from within, so that it is indeed given to it, but not without at the same time being its own true property. נזל is related, according to the Semitic usus loq., to אזל, as “niedergehen” (to go down) to “weggehen” (to go away) (vid., Pro 5:15); similarly related are (Arab.) sar, to go, and sal (in which the letter ra is exchanged for lam, to express the softness of the liquid), to flow, whence syl (sêl), impetuous stream, rushing water, kindred in meaning to נזלים. Streams which come from Lebanon have a rapid descent, and (so far as they do not arise in the snow region) the water is not only fresh, but clear as crystal. All these figures understood sensuously would be insipid; but understood ethically, they are exceedingly appropriate, and are easily interpreted, so that the conjecture is natural, that on the supposition of the spiritual interpretation of the Song, Jesus has this saying in His mind when He says that streams of living water shall flow “out of the belly” of the believer, Joh 7:38.
Verse 16 edit
The king's praise is for Shulamith proof of his love, which seeks a response. But as she is, she thinks herself yet unworthy of him; her modesty says to her that she needs preparation for him, preparation by that blowing which is the breath of God in the natural and in the spiritual world. 16 Awake, thou North (wind), and come, thou South! Blow through my garden, cause its spices to flow - Let my beloved come into his garden, And eat the fruits which are precious to him.
The names of the north and south, denoting not only the regions of the heavens, but also the winds blowing from these regions, are of the fem. gender, Isa 43:6. The east wind, קדים, is purposely not mentioned; the idea of that which is destructive and adverse is connected with it (vid., under Job 27:21). The north wind brings cold till ice is formed, Sir. 43:20; and if the south wind blow, it is hot, Luk 12:55. If cold and heat, coolness and sultriness, interchange at the proper time, then growth is promoted. And if the wind blow through a garden at one time from this direction and at another from that, - not so violently as when it shakes the trees of the forest, but softly and yet as powerfully as a garden can bear it, - then all the fragrance of the garden rises in waves, and it becomes like a sea of incense. The garden itself then blows, i.e., emits odours; for (פּח = the Arab. fakh, fah, cf. fawh, pl. afwâh, sweet odours, fragrant plants) as in היּום רוּח, Gen 3:8, the idea underlies the expression, that when it is evening the day itself blows, i.e., becomes cool, the causative הפיחי, connected with the object-accus. of the garden, means to make the garden breezy and fragrant. נזל is here used of the odours which, set free as it were from the plants, flow out, being carried forth by the waves of air. Shulamith wishes that in her all that is worthy of love should be fully realized. What had to be done for Esther (Est 2:12) before she could be brought in to the king, Shulamith calls on the winds to accomplish for her, which are, as it were, the breath of the life of all nature, and as such, of the life-spirit, which is the sustaining background of all created things. If she is thus prepared for him who loves her, and whom she loves, he shall come into his garden and enjoy the precious fruit belonging to him. With words of such gentle tenderness, childlike purity, she gives herself to her beloved.
Chap. 5 edit
Verse 1 edit
She gives herself to him, and he has accepted her, and now celebrates the delight of possession and enjoyment. 1 I am come into my garden, my sister-bride; Have plucked my myrrh with my balsam; Have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; Have drunk my wine with my milk - Eat, drink, and be drunken, ye friends!
If the exclamation of Solomon, 1a, is immediately connected with the words of Shulamith, Sol 4:16, then we must suppose that, influenced by these words, in which the ardour of love and humility express themselves, he thus in triumph exclaims, after he has embraced her in his arms as his own inalienable possession. But the exclamation denotes more than this. It supposes a union of love, such as is the conclusion of marriage following the betrothal, the God-ordained aim of sexual love within the limits fixed by morality. The poetic expression בּאתי לגנּי points to the אל eht ot בּוא, used of the entrance of a man into the woman's chamber, to which the expression (Arab.) dakhal bihā (he went in with her), used of the introduction into the bride's chamber, is compared. The road by which Solomon reached this full and entire possession was not short, and especially for his longing it was a lengthened one. He now triumphs in the final enjoyment which his ardent desire had found. A pleasant enjoyment which is reached in the way and within the limits of the divine order, and which therefore leaves no bitter fruits of self-reproach, is pleasant even in the retrospect. His words, beginning with “I am come into my garden,” breathe this pleasure in the retrospect. Ginsburg and others render incorrectly, “I am coming,” which would require the words to have been בּא אני (הנּה). The series of perfects beginning with באתי cannot be meant otherwise than retrospectively. The “garden” is Shulamith herself, Sol 4:12, in the fulness of her personal and spiritual attractions, Sol 4:16; cf. כּרמי, Sol 1:6. He may call her “my sister-bride;” the garden is then his by virtue of divine and human right, he has obtained possession of this garden, he has broken its costly rare flowers. ארה (in the Mishna dialect the word used of plucking figs) signifies to pluck; the Aethiop. trans. ararku karbê, I have plucked myrrh; for the Aethiop. has arara instead of simply ארה. בּשׂמי is here שׂבּם deflected. While בּשׂם, with its plur. besâmim, denotes fragrance in general, and only balsam specially, bāsām = (Arab.) bashâm is the proper name of the balsam-tree (the Mecca balsam), amyris opobalsamum, which, according to Forskal, is indigenous in the central mountain region of Jemen (S. Arabia); it is also called (Arab.) balsaman; the word found its way in this enlarged form into the West, and then returned in the forms בּלסמון, אפּופלסמון, אפּלרלסמא (Syr. afrusomo), into the East. Balsam and other spices were brought in abundance to King Solomon as a present by the Queen of Sheba, 1Ki 10:10; the celebrated balsam plantations of Jericho (vid., Winer's Real-W.), which continued to be productive till the Roman period, might owe their origin to the friendly relations which Solomon sustained to the south Arab. princess. Instead of the Indian aloe, Sol 4:14, the Jamanic balsam is here connected with myrrh as a figure of Shulamith's excellences. The plucking, eating, and drinking are only interchangeable figurative descriptions of the enjoyment of love. “Honey and milk,” says Solomon, Sol 4:11, “is under thy tongue.” יער is like יערה, 1Sa 14:27, the comb (favus) or cells containing the honey, - a designation which has perhaps been borrowed from porous lava.
With honey and milk “under the tongue” wine is connected, to which, and that of the noblest kind, Sol 7:10, Shulamith's palate is compared. Wine and milk together are οἰνόγαλα, which Chloe presents to Daphnis (Longus, i. 23). Solomon and his Song here hover on the pinnacle of full enjoyment; but if one understands his figurative language as it interprets itself, it here also expresses that delight of satisfaction which the author of Psa 19:6 transfers to the countenance of the rising sun, in words of a chaste purity which sexual love never abandons, in so far as it is connected with esteem for a beloved wife, and with the preservation of mutual personal dignity. For this very reason the words of Solomon, 1a, cannot be thought of as spoken to the guests. Between Sol 4:16 and Sol 5:1 the bridal night intervenes. The words used in 1a are Solomon's morning salutation to her who has now wholly become his own. The call addressed to the guests at the feast is given forth on the second day of the marriage, which, according to ancient custom, Gen 29:28; Jdg 14:12, was wont to be celebrated for seven days, Tob. 11:18. The dramatical character of the Song leads to this result, that the pauses are passed over, the scenes are quickly changed, and the times appear to be continuous.
The plur. דּודים Hengst. thinks always designates “love” (Liebe); thus, after Pro 7:18, also here: Eat, friends, drink and intoxicate yourselves in love. But the summons, inebriamini amoribus, has a meaning if regarded as directed by the guests to the married pair, but not as directed to the guests. And while we may say רוה דדים, yet not שׁכר דו, for shakar has always only the accus. of a spirituous liquor after it. Therefore none of the old translators (except only the Venet.: μεθύσθητε ἔρωσιν) understood dodim, notwithstanding that elsewhere in the Song it means love, in another than a personal sense; רעים and דח are here the plur. of the elsewhere parallels רע and דּוד, e.g., Sol 5:16, according to which also (cf. on the contrary, Sol 4:16) they are accentuated. Those who are assembled are, as sympathizing friends, to participate in the pleasures of the feast. The Song of Songs has here reached its climax. A Paul would not hesitate, after Eph 5:31., to extend the mystical interpretation even to this. Of the antitype of the marriage pair it is said: “For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready” (Rev 19:7); and of the antitype of the marriage guests: “Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev 19:9).
Verse 2 edit
Sol 5:2 2 I sleep, but my heart keeps waking- Hearken! my beloved is knocking: Open to me, my sister, my love, My dove, my perfect one; For my head is filled with dew, My locks (are) full of the drops of the night.
The partic. subst. clauses, Sol 5:2, indicate the circumstances under which that which is related in Sol 5:2 occurred. In the principal sentence in hist. prose ויּדפּק would be used; here, in the dramatic vivacity of the description, is found in its stead the interject.vocem = ausculta with the gen. foll., and a word designating state or condition added, thought of as accus. according to the Semitic syntax (like Gen 4:10; Jer 10:22; cf. 1Ki 14:6). To sleep while the heart wakes signifies to dream, for sleep and distinct consciousness cannot be coexistent; the movements of thought either remain in obscurity or are projected as dreams. ער = ‛awir is formed from עוּר, to be awake (in its root cogn. to the Aryan gar, of like import in γρηγορεῖν, ἐγείρειν), in the same way as מת = mawith from מוּת. The שׁ has here the conj. sense of “dieweil” (because), like asher in Ecc 6:12; Ecc 8:15. The ר dag., which occurs several times elsewhere (vid., under Pro 3:8; Pro 14:10), is one of the inconsistencies of the system of punctuation, which in other instances does not double the ר; perhaps a relic of the Babylonian idiom, which was herein more accordant with the lingual nature of the r than the Tiberian, which treated it as a semi-guttural. קוצּה, a lock of hair, from קץ = קיץ, abscîdit, follows in the formation of the idea, the analogy of קציר, in the sense of branch, from קצר, desecuit; one so names a part which is removed without injury to the whole, and which presents itself conveniently for removal; cf. the oath sworn by Egyptian women, laḥajât muḳṣu̇si, “by the life of my separated,” i.e., “of my locks” (Lane, Egypt, etc., I 38). The word still survives in the Talmud dialect. Of a beautiful young man who proposed to become a Nazarite, Nedarim 9a says the same as the Jer. Horajoth iii. 4 of a man who was a prostitute in Rome: his locks were arranged in separate masses, like heap upon heap; in Bereshith rabba c. lxv., under Gen 27:11, קוּץ, curly-haired, is placed over against קרח, bald-headed, and the Syr. also has ḳauṣoto as the designation of locks of hair-a word used by the Peshito as the rendering of the Heb. קוצּות, as the Syro-Hexap. Job 16:12, the Greek κόμη. טל, from טלל (Arab. ṭll, to moisten, viz., the ground; to squirt, viz., blood), is in Arabic drizzling rain, in Heb. dew; the drops of the night (רסיסי, from רסס, to sprinkle, to drizzle) are just drops of dew, for the precipitation of the damp air assumes this form in nights which are not so cold as to become frosty. Shulamith thus dreams that her beloved seeks admission to her. He comes a long way and at night. In the most tender words he entreats for that which he expects without delay. He addresses her, “my sister,” as one of equal rank with himself, and familiar as a sister with a brother; “my love” (רע), as one freely chosen by him to intimate fellowship; “my dove,” as beloved and prized by him on account of her purity, simplicity, and loveliness. The meaning of the fourth designation used by him, תּמּתי, is shown by the Arab. tam to be “wholly devoted,” whence teim, “one devoted” = a servant, and mutajjam, desperately in love with one. In addressing her tmty, he thus designates this love as wholly undivided, devoting itself without evasion and without reserve. But on this occasion this love did not approve itself, at least not at once.
Verse 3 edit
Sol 5:3 3 I have put off my dress, How shall I put it on again? I have washed my feet, How shall I defile them again?
She now lies unclothed in bed. כּתּנת is the χιτών worn next to the body, from כתן, linen (diff. from the Arab. ḳuṭun, cotton, whence French coton, calico = cotton-stuff). She had already washed her feet, from which it is supposed that she had throughout the day walked barefooted, - how (איככה, how? both times with the tone on the penult.; cf. איכה, where ? Sol 1:7) should she again put on her dress, which she had already put off and laid aside (פּשׁט)? why should she soil (אטנּפם, relating to the fem. רגלי, for אטנפן) again her feet, that had been washed clean? Shulamith is here brought back to the customs as well as to the home of her earlier rural life; but although she should thus have been enabled to reach a deeper and more lively consciousness of the grace of the king, who stoops to an equality with her, yet she does not meet his love with an equal requital. She is unwilling for his sake to put herself to trouble, or to do that which is disagreeable to her. It cannot be thought that such an interview actually took place; and yet what she here dreamed had not only inward reality, but also full reality. For in a dream, that which is natural to us or that which belongs to our very constitution becomes manifest, and much that is kept down during our waking hours by the power of the will, by a sense of propriety, and by the activities of life, comes to light during sleep; for fancy then stirs up the ground of our nature and brings it forth in dreams, and thus exposes us to ourselves in such a way as oftentimes, when we waken, to make us ashamed and alarmed. Thus it was with Shulamith. In the dream it was inwardly manifest that she had lost her first love. She relates it with sorrow; for scarcely had she rejected him with these unworthy deceitful pretences when she comes to herself again.
Verse 4 edit
Sol 5:4 4 My beloved stretched his hand through the opening, And my heart was moved for him. חוּר, from the verb חוּר, in the sense of to break through (R. חר, whence also חרז, Sol 1:10, and חרם, Arab. kharam, part. broken through, e.g., of a lattice-window), signifies foramen, a hole, also caverna (whence the name of the Troglodytes, חרי, and the Haurân, חורן), here the loophole in the door above (like khawkht, the little door for the admission of individuals in the street or house-door). It does not properly mean a window, but a part of the door pierced through at the upper part of the lock of the door (the door-bolt). מן־החור is understood from the standpoint of one who is within; “by the opening from without to within,” thus “through the opening;” stretching his hand through the door-opening as if to open the door, if possible, by the pressing back of the lock from within, he shows how greatly he longed after Shulamith. And she was again very deeply moved when she perceived this longing, which she had so coldly responded to: the interior of her body, with the organs which, after the bibl. idea, are the seat of the tenderest emotions, or rather, in which they reflect themselves, both such as are agreeable and such as are sorrowful, groaned within her, - an expression of deep sympathy so common, that “the sounding of the bowels,” Isa 63:15, an expression used, and that anthropopathically of God Himself, is a direct designation of sympathy or inner participation. The phrase here wavers between עליו and עלי (thus, e.g., Nissel, 1662). Both forms are admissible. It is true we say elsewhere only naphshi 'ālai, ruhi 'ālai, libbi 'ālai, for the Ego distinguishes itself from its substance (cf. System d. bibl. Psychologie, p. 151f.); meai 'alai, instead of bi (בּקרבּ), would, however, be also explained from this, that the bowels are meant, not anatomically, but as psychical organs. But the old translators (lxx, Targ., Syr., Jerome, Venet.) rendered עליו, which rests on later MS authority (vid., Norzi, and de Rossi), and is also more appropriate: her bowels are stirred, viz., over him, i.e., on account of him (Alkabez: בעבורו). As she will now open to him, she is inwardly more ashamed, as he has come so full of love and longing to make her glad.
Verse 5 edit
Sol 5:5 5 I arose to open to my beloved, And my hands dropped with myrrh, And my fingers with liquid myrrh, On the handle of the bolt.
The personal pron. אני stands without emphasis before the verb which already contains it; the common language of the people delights in such particularity. The Book of Hosea, the Ephraimite prophet's work, is marked by such a style. עבר מור, with which the parallel clause goes beyond the simple mōr, is myrrh flowing over, dropping out of itself, i.e., that which breaks through the bark of the balsamodendron myrrha, or which flows out if an incision is made in it; myrrha stacte, of which Pliny (xii. 35) says: cui nulla praefertur, otherwise דּרור מר, from דּרר, to gush out, to pour itself forth in rich jets. He has come perfumed as if for a festival, and the costly ointment which he brought with him has dropped on the handles of the bolts (מנעוּל, keeping locked, after the form מלבּוּשׁ, drawing on), viz., the inner bolt, which he wished to withdraw. A classical parallel is found in Lucretius, iv. 1171:“At lacrimans exclusus amator limina saepe Floribus et sertis operit postesque superbos Unguit amaracino” ...
Böttch. here puts to Hitzig the question, “Did the shepherd, the peasant of Engedi, bring with him oil of myrrh?” Rejecting this reasonable explanation, he supposes that the Shulamitess, still in Solomon's care, on rising up quickly dipped her hand in the oil of myrrh, that she might refresh her beloved. She thus had it near her before her bed, as a sick person her decoction. The right answer was, that the visitant by night is not that imaginary personage, but it is Solomon. She had dreamed that he stood before her door and knocked. But finding no response, he again in a moment withdrew, when it was proved that Shulamith did not requite his love and come forth to meet it in its fulness as she ought.
Verse 6 edit
Sol 5:6 6 I opened to my beloved; And my beloved had withdrawn, was gone: My soul departed when he spake - I sought him, and found him not; I called him, and he answered me not.
As the disciples at Emmaus, when the Lord had vanished from the midst of them, said to one another: Did not our heart burn within us when He spake with us? so Shulamith says that when he spake, i.e., sought admission to her, she was filled with alarm, and almost terrified to death.
Love-ecstasy (ἐκστῆναι, as contrast to γενέσθαι ἐν ἑαυτῷ) is not here understood, for in such a state she would have flown to meet him; but a sinking of the soul, such as is described by Terence (And. I 5. 16):“Oratio haec me miseram exanimavit metu.”
The voice of her beloved struck her heart; but in the consciousness that she had estranged herself from him, she could not openly meet him and offer empty excuses. But now she recognises it with sorrow that she had not replied to the deep impression of his loving words; and seeing him disappear without finding him, she calls after him whom she had slighted, but he answers her not. The words: “My soul departed when he spake,” are the reason why she now sought him and called upon him, and they are not a supplementary remark (Zöckl.); nor is there need for the correction of the text בּדברו, which should mean: (my soul departed) when he turned his back (Ewald), or, behind him (Hitz., Böttch.), from דּבר = (Arab.) dabara, tergum vertere, praeterire, - the Heb. has the word דּביר, the hinder part, and as it appears, דּבּר, to act from behind (treacherously) and destroy, 2Ch 22:10; cf. under Gen 34:13, but not the Kal דּבר, in that Arab. signification. The meaning of חמק has been hit upon by Aquila (ἔκλινεν), Symmachus (ἀπονεύσας), and Jerome (declinaverat); it signifies to turn aside, to take a different direction, as the Hithpa. Jer 31:22 : to turn oneself away; cf. חמּוּקים, turnings, bendings, Sol 7:2. חבק and אבק (cf. Gen 32:25), Aethiop. ḥaḳafa, Amhar. aḳafa (reminding us of נקץ, Hiph. הקּיף), are usually compared; all of these, however, signify to “encompass;” but חמק does not denote a moving in a circle after something, but a half circular motion away from something; so that in the Arab. the prevailing reference to fools, aḥamḳ, does not appear to proceed from the idea of closeness, but of the oblique direction, pushed sideways. Turning himself away, he proceeded farther. In vain she sought him; she called without receiving any answer. ענני is the correct pausal form of ענני, vid., under Psa 118:5. But something worse than even this seeking and calling in vain happened to her.
Verse 7 edit
Sol 5:7 7 The watchmen who go about in the city found me, They beat me, wounded me; My upper garment took away from me, The watchmen of the walls.
She sought her beloved, not “in the midbar” (open field), nor “in the kepharim” (villages), but בעיר, “in the city,” - a circumstance which is fatal to the shepherd-hypothesis here, as in the other dream. There in the city she is found by the watchmen who patrol the city, and have their proper posts on the walls to watch those who approach the city and depart from it (cf. Isa 62:6). These rough, regardless men, - her story returns at the close like a palindrome to those previously named, - who judge only according to that which is external, and have neither an eye nor a heart for the sorrow of a loving soul, struck (הכה, from נכה, to pierce, hit, strike) and wounded (פּצע, R. פץ, to divide, to inflict wounds in the flesh) the royal spouse as a common woman, and so treated her, that, in order to escape being made a prisoner, she was constrained to leave her upper robe in their hands (Gen 39:12). This upper robe, not the veil which at Sol 4:1, Sol 4:3 we found was called tsammā, is called רדיד. Aben Ezra compares with it the Arab. ridâ, a plaid-like over-garment, which was thrown over the shoulders and veiled the upper parts of the body. But the words have not the same derivation. The ridâ has its name from its reaching downward, - probably from the circumstance that, originally, it hung down to the feet, so that one could tread on it; but the (Heb.) redid (in Syr. the dalmatica of the deacons), from רדד, Hiph., 1Ki 6:32, Targ., Talm., Syr., רדד, to make broad and thin, as expansum, i.e., a thin and light upper robe, viz., over the cuttoněth, 3a. The lxx suitably translates it here and at Gen 24:65 (hatstsaiph, from tsa'aph, to lay together, to fold, to make double or many-fold) by θέριστρον, a summer overdress. A modern painter, who represents Shulamith as stripped naked by the watchmen, follows his own sensual taste, without being able to distinguish between tunica and pallium; for neither Luther, who renders by schleier (veil), nor Jerome, who has pallium (cf. the saying of Plautus: tunica propior pallio est), gives any countenance to such a freak of imagination. The city watchmen tore from off her the upper garment, without knowing and without caring to know what might be the motive and the aim of this her nocturnal walk.
Verse 8 edit
All this Shulamith dreamed; but the painful feeling of repentance, of separation and misapprehension, which the dream left behind, entered as deeply into her soul as if it had been an actual external experience. Therefore she besought the daughters of Jerusalem: 8 I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem, If ye find my beloved, - What shall ye then say to him? “That I am sick of love.”
That אם is here not to be interpreted as the negative particle of adjuration (Böttch.), as at Sol 2:7; Sol 3:5, at once appears from the absurdity arising from such an interpretation. The or. directa, following “I adjure you,” can also begin (Num 5:19.) with the usual אם, which is followed by its conclusion. Instead of “that ye say to him I am sick of love,” she asks the question: What shall ye say to him: and adds the answer: quod aegra sum amore, or, as Jerome rightly renders, in conformity with the root-idea of חלה: quia amore langueo; while, on the other hand, the lxx: ὃτι τετροομένη (saucia) ἀγάπης ἐγώ εἰμι, as if the word were חללת, from חלל. The question proposed, with its answer, inculcates in a naive manner that which is to be said, as one examines beforehand a child who has to order something. She turns to the daughters of Jerusalem, because she can presuppose in them, in contrast with those cruel watchmen, a sympathy with her love-sorrow, on the ground of their having had similar experiences. They were also witnesses of the origin of this covenant of love, and graced the marriage festival by their sympathetic love.
Verse 9 edit
When, therefore, they put to her the question: 9 What is thy beloved before another (beloved), Thou fairest of women? What is thy beloved before another (beloved), That thou dost adjure us thus? the question thus asked cannot proceed from ignorance; it can only have the object of giving them the opportunity of hearing from Shulamith's own mouth and heart her laudatory description of him, whom they also loved, although they were not deemed worthy to stand so near to him as she did who was thus questioned. Böttch. and Ewald, secs. 325a, 326a, interpret the מן in מדּור partitively: quid amati (as in Cicero: quod hominis) amatus tuus; but then the words would have been מה־מדוד דודך, if such a phrase were admissible; for מה־דוד certainly of itself alone means quid amati, what kind of a beloved. Thus the מן is the comparative (prae amato), and דּוד the sing., representing the idea of species or kind; מדּודים, here easily misunderstood, is purposely avoided. The use of the form השׁבעתנו for השׁבעתּינו is one of the many instances of the disregard of the generic distinction occurring in this Song, which purposely, after the manner of the vulgar language, ignores pedantic regularity.
Verse 10 edit
Hereupon Shulamith describes to them who ask what her beloved is. He is the fairest of men. Everything that is glorious in the kingdom of nature, and, so far as her look extends, everything in the sphere of art, she appropriates, so as to present a picture of his external appearance. Whatever is precious, lovely, and grand, is all combined in the living beauty of his person.
She first praises the mingling of colours in the countenance of her beloved. 10 My beloved is dazzling white and ruddy, Distinguised above ten thousand.
The verbal root צח has the primary idea of purity, i.e., freedom from disturbance and muddiness, which, in the stems springing from it, and in their manifold uses, is transferred to undisturbed health (Arab. ṣaḥḥ, cf. baria, of smoothness of the skin), a temperate stomach and clear head, but particularly to the clearness and sunny brightness of the heavens, to dazzling whiteness (צחח, Lam 4:7; cf. צחר), and then to parched dryness, resulting from the intense and continued rays of the sun; צח is here adj. from צחח, Lam 4:7, bearing almost the same relation to לבן as λαμπρός to λευκός, cogn. with lucere. אדום, R. דם, to condense, is properly dark-red, called by the Turks kuju kirmesi (from kuju, thick, close, dark), by the French rouge foncé, of the same root as דּם, the name for blood, or a thick and dark fluid. White, and indeed a dazzling white, is the colour of his flesh, and redness, deep redness, the colour of his blood tinging his flesh. Whiteness among all the race-colours is the one which best accords with the dignity of man; pure delicate whiteness is among the Caucasian races a mark of high rank, of superior training, of hereditary nobility; wherefore, Lam 4:7, the appearance of the nobles of Jerusalem is likened in whiteness to snow and milk, in redness to corals; and Homer, Il. iv. 141, says of Menelaus that he appeared stained with gore, “as when some woman tinges ivory with purple colour.” In this mingling of white and red, this fulness of life and beauty, he is דּגוּל, distinguished above myriads. The old translators render dagul by “chosen” (Aquila, Symm., Syr., Jerome, Luther), the lxx by ἐκλελοχισμένος, e cohorte selectus; but it means “bannered” (degel, Sol 2:4), as the Venet.: σεσημαιωμένος, i.e., thus distinguished, as that which is furnished with a degel, a banner, a pennon. Grätz takes dagul as the Greek σημειωτός (noted). With רבבן, as a designation of an inconceivable number, Rashi rightly compares Eze 16:7. Since the “ten thousand” are here though of, not in the same manner as דגולים, the particle min is not the compar. magis quam, but, as at Gen 3:14; Jdg 5:24; Isa 52:14, prae, making conspicuous (cf. Virgil, Aen. v. 435, prae omnibus unum). After this praise of the bright blooming countenance, which in general distinguished the personal appearance of her beloved, so far as it was directly visible, there now follows a detailed description, beginning with his head.
Verse 11 edit
Sol 5:11 11 His head is precious fine gold, His locks hill upon hill, Black as the raven.
The word-connection פּז כּתם, occurring only here, serves as a designation of the very finest pure gold; for כּתם (hiding, then that which is hidden), from כתם, R. כת (vid., concerning the words appertaining to this root, under Psa 87:6), is the name of fine gold, which was guarded as a jewel (cf. Pro 25:12), and פּז (with long ā), is pure gold freed from inferior metals, from פּזז, to set free, and generally violently to free (cf. zahav muphaz, 1Ki 10:18, with zahav tahor, 2Ch 9:17). The Targ. to the Hagiog. translate פז by אובריזא (e.g., Psa 119:127), or אובריזין (e.g., Psa 19:11), ὄβρυζον, i.e., gold which has stood the fire-proof (obrussa) of the cupel or the crucible. Grammatically regarded, the word-connection kethem paz is not genit., like kethem ophir, but appositional, like narrah bethulah, Deu 22:28, zevahim shelamim, Exo 24:5, etc. The point of comparison is the imposing nobility of the fine form and noble carriage of his head. In the description of the locks of his hair the lxx render תלתלים by ἐλάται, Jerome by sicut elatae palmarum, like the young twigs, the young shoots of the palm. Ewald regards it as a harder parall. form of זלזלּים, Isa 18:5, vine-branches; and Hitzig compares the Thousand and One Nights, iii. 180, where the loose hair of a maiden is likened to twisted clusters of grapes. The possibility of this meaning is indisputable, although (Arab.) taltalat, a drinking-vessel made of the inner bark of palm-branches, is named, not from taltalah, as the name of the palm-branch, but from taltala, to shake down, viz., in the throat. The palm-branch, or the vine-branch, would be named from תּלתּל, pendulum esse, to hang loosely and with a wavering motion, the freq. of תּלה, pendere. The Syr. also think on תלה, for it translates “spread out,” i.e., a waving downward; and the Venet., which translates by ἀπαιωρήματα. The point of comparison would be the freshness and flexibility of the abundant long hair of the head, in contrast to motionless close-lying smoothness. One may think of Jupiter, who, when he shakes his head, moves heaven and earth. But, as against this, we have the fact: (1) That the language has other names for palm-branches and vine-branches; the former are called in the Sol 7:9, sansinnim. (2) That תלתלים, immediately referred to the hair, but not in the sense of “hanging locks” (Böttch.), is still in use in the post-bibl. Heb. (vid., under Sol 5:2); the Targ. also, in translating דּגוּרין דּגורין, cumuli cumuli, thinks תלתלים = תּלּין תּלּין, Menachoth 29b. A hill is called תל, (Arab.) tall, from טלל, prosternere, to throw along, as of earth thrown out, sand, or rubbish; and תּלתּל, after the form גּלגּל, in use probably only in the plur., is a hilly country which rises like steps, or presents an undulating appearance. Seen fro his neck upwards, his hair forms in undulating lines, hill upon hill. In colour, these locks of hair are black as a raven, which bears the Semitic name עורב from its blackness (ערב), but in India is called kârava from its croaking. The raven-blackness of the hair contrasts with the whiteness and redness of the countenance, which shines forth as from a dark ground, from a black border. The eyes are next described.
Verse 12 edit
Sol 5:12 12 His eyes like doves by the water-brooks, Bathing in milk, stones beautifully set
The eyes in their glancing moistness (cf. ὑγρότης τῶν ὀμμάτων, in Plutarch, of a languishing look), and in the movement of their pupils, are like doves which sip at the water-brooks, and move to and fro beside them. אפיק, from אפק, continere, is a watercourse, and then also the water itself flowing in it (vid., under Psa 18:16), as (Arab.) wadin, a valley, and then the river flowing in the valley, bahr, the sea-basin (properly the cleft), and then also the sea itself. The pred. “bathing” refers to the eyes (cf. Sol 4:9), not to the doves, if this figure is continued. The pupils of the eyes, thus compared with doves, seem as if bathing in milk, in that they swim, as it were, in the white in the eye. But it is a question whether the figure of the doves is continued also in ישׁבות על־מלּאת. It would be the case of milleth meant “fulness of water,” as it is understood, after the example of the lxx, also by Aquila (ἐκχύσεις). Jerome (fluenta plenissima), and the Arab. (piscinas aqua refertas); among the moderns, by Döpke, Gesen., Hengst., and others. But this pred. would then bring nothing new to Sol 5:12; and although in the Syr. derivatives from melā' signify flood and high waters, yet the form milleth does not seem, especially without מים, to be capable of bearing this signification. Luther's translation also, although in substance correct: und stehen in der fülle (and stand in fulness) (milleth, like שׁלמותא of the Syr., πληρώσεως of the Gr. Venet., still defended by Hitz.), yet does not bring out the full force of milleth, which, after the analogy of כּסּא, רצפה, appears to have a concrete signification which is seen from a comparison of Exo 25:7; Exo 27:17, Exo 27:20; Exo 39:13. There מלּאה and מלּאים signify not the border with precious stones, but, as rightly maintained by Keil, against Knobel, their filling in, i.e., their bordering, setting. Accordingly, milleth will be a synon. technical expression: the description, passing from the figure of the dove, says further of the eyes, that they are firm on (in) their setting; על is suitable, for the precious stone is laid within the casket in which it is contained. Hitzig has, on the contrary, objected that מלאת and מלאים denote filling up, and thus that milleth cannot be a filling up, and still less the place thereof. But as in the Talm. מוּליתא signifies not only fulness, but also stuffed fowls or pies, and as πλήρωμα in its manifold aspects is used not only of that with which anything is filled, but also of that which is filled (e.g., of a ship that is manned, and Eph 1:23 of the church in which Christ, as in His body, is immanent), - thus also milleth, like the German “Fassung,” may be used of a ring-casket (funda or pala) in which the precious stone is put. That the eyes are like a precious stone in its casket, does not merely signify that they fill the sockets, - for the bulbus of the eye in every one fills the orbita, - but that they are not sunk like the eyes of one who is sick, which fall back on their supporting edges in the orbita, and that they appear full and large as they press forward from wide and open eyelids. The cheeks are next described.
Verse 13 edit
Sol 5:13 13a His cheeks like a bed of sweet herbs, Towers of spicy plants.
A flower-bed is called ערוּגה, from ערג, to be oblique, inclined. His cheeks are like such a soft raised bed, and the impression their appearance makes is like the fragrance which flows from such a bed planted with sweet-scented flowers. Migedaloth are the tower-like or pyramidal mounds, and merkahhim are the plants used in spicery. The point of comparison here is thus the soft elevation; perhaps with reference to the mingling of colours, but the word chosen (merkahhim) rather refers to the lovely, attractive, heart-refreshing character of the impression. The Venet., keeping close to the existing text: αἱ σιαγόνες αὐτοῦ ὡς πρασιὰ τοῦ ἀρώματος πύργοι ἀρωματισμῶν (thus not a̓ρωματιστῶν] according to Gebhardt's just conjecture). But is the punctuation here correct? The sing. כערוגת is explained from this, that the bed is presented as sloping from its height downward on two parallel sides; but the height would then be the nose dividing the face, and the plur. would thus be more suitable; and the lxx, Symm., and other ancient translators have, in fact, read כערוגת. But still less is the phrase migdeloth merkahhim to be comprehended; for a tower, however diminutive it may be, it not a proper figure for a soft elevation, nor even a graduated flowery walk, or a terraced flowery hill, - a tower always presents, however round one may conceive it, too much the idea of a natural chubbiness, or of a diseased tumour. Therefore the expression used by the lxx, φύουσαι μυρεψικά, i.e., מרק' מהדּלות, commends itself. Thus also Jerome: sicut areolae aromatum consitae a pigmentariis, and the Targ. (which refers לחיים allegorically to the לוּחי of the law, and merkahhim to the refinements of the Halacha): “like the rows of a garden of aromatic plants which produce (gignentes) deep, penetrating sciences, even as a (magnificent) garden, aromatic plants.” Since we read מגדּלות כערוגת, we do not refer migadloth, as Hitzig, who retains כערוגת, to the cheeks, although their name, like that of the other members (e.g., the ear, hand, foot), may be fem. (Böttch. §649), but to the beds of spices; but in this carrying forward of the figure we find, as he does, a reference to the beard and down on the cheeks. גּדּל is used of suffering the hair to grow, Num 6:5, as well as of cultivating plants; and it is a similar figure when Pindar, Nem. v. 11, compares the milk-hair of a young man to the fine woolly down of the expanding vine-leaves (vid., Passow). In merkahhim there scarcely lies anything further than that this flos juventae on the blooming cheeks gives the impression of the young shoots of aromatic plants; at all events, the merkahhim, even although we refer this feature in the figure to the fragrance of the unguents on the beard, are not the perfumes themselves, to which megadloth is not appropriate, but fragrant plants, so that in the first instance the growth of the beard is in view with the impression of its natural beauty. 13b His lips lilies, Dropping with liquid myrrh.
Lilies, viz., red lilies (vid., under Sol 2:1), unless the point of comparison is merely loveliness associated with dignity. She thinks of the lips as speaking. All that comes forth from them, the breath in itself, and the breath formed into words, is עבר מור, most precious myrrh, viz., such as of itself wells forth from the bark of the balsamodendron. עבר, the running over of the eyes (cf. myrrha in lacrimis, the most highly esteemed sort, as distinguished from myrrha in granis), with which Dillmann combines the Aethiop. name for myrrh, karbê (vid., under Song Num 5:5).
Verse 14 edit
Sol 5:14 14a His hands golden cylinders, Filled in with stones of Tarshish.
The figure, according to Gesen., Heb. Wörterbuch, and literally also Heilgst., is derived from the closed hand, and the stained nails are compared to precious stones. both statements are incorrect; for (1) although it is true that then Israelitish women, as at the present day Egyptian and Arabian women, stained their eyes with stibium (vid., under Isa 54:11), yet it is nowhere shown that they, and particularly men, stained the nails of their feet and their toes with the orange-yellow of the Alhenna (Lane'sEgypt, I 33-35); and (2) the word used is not כּפּיו, but ידיו; it is thus the outstretched hands that are meant; and only these, not the closed fist, could be compared to “lilies,” for גּליל signifies not a ring (Cocc., Döpke, Böttch., etc.), but that which is rolled up, a roller, cylinder (Est 1:6), from גּלל, which properly means not κυκλοῦν (Venet., after Gebhardt: κεκυκλωμέναι), but κυλίνδειν. The hands thus are meant in respect of the fingers, which on account of their noble and fine form, their full, round, fleshy mould, are compared to bars of gold formed like rollers, garnished (ממלּאים, like מלּא, Exo 28:17) with stones of Tarshish, to which the nails are likened. The transparent horn-plates of the nails, with the lunula, the white segment of a circle at their roots, are certainly, when they are beautiful, an ornament to the hand, and, without our needing to think of their being stained, are worthily compared to the gold-yellow topaz. Tarshish is not the onyx, which derives its Heb. name שׁהם from its likeness to the finger-nail, but the χρυσόλιθος, by which the word in this passage before us is translated by the Quinta and the Sexta, and elsewhere also by the lxx and Aquila. But the chrysolite is the precious stone which is now called the topaz. It receives the name Tarshish from Spain, the place where it was found. Pliny, xxxviii. 42, describes it as aureo fulgore tralucens. Bredow erroneously interprets Tarshish of amber. There is a kind of chrysolite, indeed, which is called chryselectron, because in colorem electri declinans. The comparison of the nails to such a precious stone (Luther, influenced by the consonance, and apparently warranted by the plena hyacinthis of the Vulg., has substituted golden rings, vol Türkissen, whose blue-green colour is not suitable here), in spite of Hengst., who finds it insipid, is as true to nature as it is tender and pleasing. The description now proceeds from the uncovered to the covered parts of his body, the whiteness of which is compared to ivory and marble. 14b His body an ivory work of art, Covered with sapphires.
The plur. מעים or מעים, from מעה or מעי (vid., under Psa 40:9), signifies properly the tender parts, and that the inward parts of the body, but is here, like the Chald. מעין, Dan 2:32, and the בּטן, Sol 7:3, which also properly signifies the inner part of the body, κοιλία, transferred to the body in its outward appearance. To the question how Shulamith should in such a manner praise that which is for the most part covered with clothing, it is not only to be answered that it is the poet who speaks by her mouth, but also that it is not the bride or the beloved, but the wife, whom he represents as thus speaking. עשׁת (from the peculiar Hebraeo-Chald. and Targ. עשׁת, which, after Jer 5:28, like ḳhalak, creare, appears to proceed from the fundamental idea of smoothing) designates an artistic figure. Such a figure was Solomon's throne, made of שׁן, the teeth of elephants, ivory, 1Ki 10:18. Here Solomon's own person, without reference to a definite admired work of art, is praised as being like an artistic figure made of ivory, - like it in regard to its glancing smoothness and its fine symmetrical form. When, now, this word of art is described as covered with sapphires (מעלּפת, referred to עשׁת, as apparently gramm., or as ideal, fem.), a sapphire-coloured robe is not meant (Hitzig, Ginsburg); for עלף, which only means to disguise, would not at all be used of such a robe (Gen 38:14; cf. Gen 24:65), nor would the one uniform colour of the robe be designated by sapphires in the plur. The choice of the verb עלף (elsewhere used of veiling) indicates a covering shading the pure white, and in connection with ספּירים, thought of as accus., a moderating of the bright glance by a soft blue. For ספיר (a genuine Semit. word, like the Chald. שׁפּיר; cf. regarding ספר = שׁפר, under Psa 16:6) is the sky-blue sapphire (Exo 24:10), including the Lasurstein (lapis lazuli), sprinkled with golden, or rather with gold-like glistening points of pyrites, from which, with the l omitted, sky-blue is called azur (azure) (vid., under Job 28:6). The word of art formed of ivory is quite covered over with sapphires fixed in it. That which is here compared is nothing else than the branching blue veins under the white skin.
Verse 15 edit
Sol 5:15 15a His legs white marble columns, Set on bases of fine gold.
If the beauty of the living must be represented, not by colours, but in figurative language, this cannot otherwise be done than by the selection of minerals, plants, and things in general for the comparison, and the comparison must more or less come short, because dead soulless matter does not reach to a just and full representation of the living. Thus here, also, the description of the lower extremity, which reaches from the thighs and the legs down to the feet, of which last, in the words of an anatomist, it may be said that “they form the pedestal for the bony pillars of the legs.” The comparison is thus in accordance with fact; the שׁוקים (from שוק = Arab. saḳ, to drive: the movers forward), in the structure of the human frame, take in reality the place of “pillars,” and the feet the place of “pedestals,” as in the tabernacle the wooden pillars rested on small supports in which they were fastened, Exo 26:18. But in point of fidelity to nature, the symbol is inferior to a rigid Egyptian figure. Not only is it without life; it is not even capable of expressing the curvilinear shape which belongs to the living. On the other hand, it loses itself in symbol; for although it is in conformity with nature that the legs are compared to pillars of white (according to Aquila and Theod., Parian) marble, - שׁשׁ = שׁישׁ, 1Ch 29:2 (material for the building of the temple), Talm. מרמרא, of the same verbal root as שׁוּשׁן, the name of the white lily, - the comparison of the feet to bases of fine gold is yet purely symbolical. Gold is a figure of that which is sublime and noble, and with white marble represents greatness combined with purity. He who is here praised is not a shepherd, but a king. The comparisons are thus so grand because the beauty of the beloved is in itself heightened by his kingly dignity. 15b His aspect like Lebanon, Distinguised as the cedars.
By בּחוּר the Chald. thinks of “a young man” (from בּחר = בּגר, to be matured, as at Psa 89:20); but in that case we should have expected the word כּארז instead of כּארזים. Luther, with all other translators, rightly renders “chosen as the cedars.” His look, i.e., his appearance as a whole, is awe-inspiring, majestic, like Lebanon, the king of mountains; he (the praised one) is chosen, i.e., presents a rare aspect, rising high above the common man, like the cedars, those kings among trees, which as special witnesses of creative omnipotence are called “cedars of God,” Psa 80:11 . בּחוּר, electus, everywhere else an attribute of persons, does not here refer to the look, but to him whose the look is; and what it means in union with the cedars is seen from Jer 22:7; cf. Isa 37:24. Here also it is seen (what besides is manifest), that the fairest of the children of men is a king. In conclusion, the description returns from elevation of rank to loveliness.
Verse 16 edit
Sol 5:16 16a His palate is sweets (sweetnesses), And he is altogether precious (lovelinesses).
The palate, חך, is frequently named as the organ of speech, Job 6:30; Job 31:30; Pro 5:3; Pro 8:7; and it is also here used in this sense. The meaning, “the mouth for kissing,” which Böttch. gives to the word, is fanciful; חך (= ḥnk, Arab. ḥanak) is the inner palate and the region of the throat, with the uvula underneath the chin. Partly with reference to his words, his lips have been already praised, 13b; but there the fragrance of his breath came into consideration, his breath both in itself and as serving for the formation of articulate words. But the naming of the palate can point to nothing else than his words. With this the description comes to a conclusion; for, from the speech, the most distinct and immediate expression of the personality, advance is made finally to the praise of the person. The pluraliatant. ממתּקּים and מחמדּים designate what they mention in richest fulness. His palate, i.e., that which he speaks and the manner in which he speaks it, is true sweetness (cf. Pro 16:21; Psa 55:15), and his whole being true loveliness. With justifiable pride Shulamith next says: 16b This is my beloved and this my friend, Ye daughters of Jerusalem!
The emphatically repeated “this” is here pred. (Luth. “such an one is” ...); on the other hand, it is subj. at Exo 3:15 (Luth.: “that is” ...).
Chap. 6 edit
Verse 1 edit
The daughters of Jerusalem now offer to seek along with Shulamith for her beloved, who had turned away and was gone. 1 Whither has thy beloved gone, Thou fairest of women? Whither has thy beloved turned, That we may seek him with thee?
The longing remains with her even after she has wakened, as the after effect of her dream. In the morning she goes forth and meets with the daughters of Jerusalem. They cause Shulamith to describe her friend, and they ask whither he has gone. They wish to know the direction in which he disappeared from her, the way which he had probably taken (פנה, R. פן .R, to drive, to urge forward, to turn from one to another), that with her they might go to seek him (Vav of the consequence or the object, as at Psa 83:17). The answer she gives proceeds on a conclusion which she draws from the inclination of her beloved.
Verse 2 edit
Sol 6:2 2 My beloved has gone down into the garden, To the beds of sweet herbs, To feed in the gardens And gather lilies.
He is certainly, she means to say, there to be found where he delights most to tarry. He will have gone down - viz. from the palace (Sol 6:11; cf. 1Ki 20:43 and Est 7:7) - into his garden, to the fragrant beds, there to feed in his garden and gather lilies (cf. Old Germ. “to collect rôsen”); he is fond of gardens and flowers. Shulamith expresses this in her shepherd-dialect, as when Jesus says of His Father (Joh 15:1), “He is the husbandman.” Flowerbeds are the feeding place (vid., regarding לרעות under Sol 2:16) of her beloved. Solomon certainly took great delight in gardens and parks, Ecc 2:5. But this historical fact is here idealized; the natural flora which Solomon delighted in with intelligent interest presents itself as a figure of a higher Loveliness which was therein as it were typically manifest (cf. Rev 7:17, where the “Lamb,” “feeding,” and “fountains of water,” are applied as anagogics, i.e., heavenward-pointing types). Otherwise it is not to be comprehended why it is lilies that are named. Even if it were supposed to be implied that lilies were Solomon's favourite flowers, we must assume that his taste was determined by something more than by form and colour. The words of Shulamith give us to understand that the inclination and the favourite resort of her friend corresponded to his nature, which is altogether thoughtfulness and depth of feeling (cf. under Psa 92:5, the reference to Dante: the beautiful women who gather flowers representing the paradisaical life); lilies, the emblems of unapproachable grandeur, purity inspiring reverence, high elevation above that which is common, bloom there wherever the lily-like one wanders, whom the lily of the valley calls her own. With the words:
Verse 3 edit
Sol 6:3 3 I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine, Who feeds among the lilies,
Shulamith farther proceeds, followed by the daughters of Jerusalem, to seek her friend lost through her own fault. She always says, not אישׁי, but דּודי and רעי; for love, although a passion common to mind and body, is in this Song of Songs viewed as much as possible apart from its basis in the animal nature. Also, that the description hovers between that of the clothed and the unclothed, gives to it an ideality favourable to the mystical interpretation. Nakedness is ערוה. But at the cross nakedness appears transported from the sphere of sense to that of the supersensuous.
Verse 4 edit
With Sol 6:4 Solomon's address is resumed, and a new scene opens. Shulamith had found him again, and she who is beautiful in herself appears now so much the more beautiful, when the joy of seeing him again irradiates her whole being. 4 Beautiful art thou, my friend, as Tirzah, Comely as Jerusalem, Terrible as a battle-array.
In the praise of her beauty we hear the voice of the king. The cities which are the highest ornament of his kingdom serve him as the measure of her beauty, which is designated according to the root conceptions by יפה, after the equality of completeness; by נאוה, after the quality of that which is well-becoming, pleasing. It is concluded, from the prominence given to Tirzah, that the Song was not composed till after the division of the kingdom, and that its author was an inhabitant of the northern kingdom; for Tirzah was the first royal city of this kingdom till the time of Omri, the founder of Samaria. But since, at all events, it is Solomon who here speaks, so great an historical judgment ought surely to be ascribed to a later poet who has imagined himself in the exact position of Solomon, that he would not represent the king of the undivided Israel as speaking like a king of the separate kingdom of Israel. The prominence given to Tirzah has another reason. Tirzah was discovered by Robinson on his second journey, 1852, in which Van de Velde accompanied him, on a height in the mountain range to the north of Nablûs, under the name Tullûzah. Brocardus and Breydenback had already pointed out a village called Thersa to the east of Samaria. This form of the name corresponds to the Heb. better than that Arab. Tullûzah; but the place is suitable, and if Tullûzah lies high and beautiful in a region of olive trees, then it still justifies its ancient name, which means pleasantness or sweetness. But it cannot be sweetness on account of which Tirzah is named before Jerusalem, for in the eye of the Israelites Jerusalem was “the perfection of beauty” (Psa 50:2; Lam 2:15). That there is gradation from Tirzah to Jerusalem (Hengst.) cannot be said; for נאוה (decora) and יפה (pulchra) would be reversed if a climax were intended. The reason of it is rather this, that Shulamith is from the higher region, and is not a daughter of Jerusalem, and that therefore a beautiful city situated in the north toward Sunem must serve as a comparison of her beauty. That Shulamith is both beautiful and terrible (אימּה from אים) is not contradiction: she is terrible in the irresistible power of the impression of her personality, terrible as nîdgaloth, i.e., as troops going forth with their banners unfurled (cf. the Kal of this v. denom., Psa 20:6). We do not need to supply מצנות, which is sometimes fem., Psa 25:3; Gen 32:9, although the attribute would here be appropriate, Num 2:3, cf. Song Num 10:5; still less צבאות, which occurs in the sense of military service, Isa 40:2, and a war-expedition, Dan 8:12, but not in the sense of war-host, as fem. Much rather nidgaloth, thus neut., is meant of bannered hosts, as ארחות (not אר), Isa 21:13, of those that are marching. War-hosts with their banners, their standards, go forth confident of victory. Such is Shulamith's whole appearance, although she is unconscious of it - a veni, vidi, vici. Solomon is completely vanquished by her. But seeking to maintain himself in freedom over against her, he cries out to her:
Verses 5-7 edit
Sol 6:5-7 5a Turn away thine eyes from me, For overpoweringly they assail me.
Döpke translates,ferocire me faciunt; Hengst.: they make me proud; but although הרהיב, after Psa 138:3, may be thus used, yet that would be an effect produced by the eyes, which certainly would suggest the very opposite of the request to turn them away. The verb רהב means to be impetuous, and to press impetuously against any one; the Hiph. is the intens. of this trans. signification of the Kal: to press overpoweringly against one, to infuse terror, terrorem incutere. The lxx translates it by ἀναπτεροῦν, which is also used of the effect of terror (“to make to start up”), and the Syr. by afred, to put to flight, because arheb signifies to put in fear, as also arhab = khawwaf, terrefacere; but here the meaning of the verb corresponds more with the sense of Arab. rb, to be placed in the state of ro'b, i.e., of paralyzing terror. If she directed her large, clear, penetrating eyes to him, he must sink his own: their glance is unbearable by him. This peculiar form the praise of her eyes here assume; but then the description proceeds as at Sol 4:1, Sol 2:3. The words used there in praise of her hair, her teeth, and her cheeks, are here repeated. 5b Thy hair is like a flock of goats Which repose downwards on Giliad. 6 Thy teeth like a flock of lambs Which come up from the washing, All of them bearing twins, And a bereaved one is not among them. 7 Like a piece of pomegranate thy temples Behind thy veil.
The repetition is literal, but yet not without change in the expression, - there, גל מהר, here, מן־הגּל; there, הקּץ, tonsarum, here, הרח, agnarum (Symm., Venet. τῶν ἀμναìδων); for רחל, in its proper signification, is like the Arab. rachil, richl, richleh, the female lamb, and particularly the ewe. Hitzig imagines that Solomon here repeats to Shulamith what he had said to another donna chosen for marriage, and that the flattery becomes insipid by repetition to Shulamith, as well as also to the reader. But the romance which he finds in the Song is not this itself, but his own palimpsest, in the style of Lucian's transformed ass. The repetition has a morally better reason, and not one so subtle. Shulamith appears to Solomon yet more beautiful than on the day when she was brought to him as his bride. His love is still the same, unchanged; and this both she and the reader or hearer must conclude from these words of praise, repeated now as they were then. There is no one among the ladies of the court whom he prefers to her, - these must themselves acknowledge her superiority.
Verses 8-9 edit
Sol 6:8-9 8 There are sixty queens, And eighty concubines, And virgins without number. 9 One is my dove, my perfect one, - The only one of her mother, The choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her and called her blessed, - Queens and concubines, and they extolled her.
Even here, where, if anywhere, notice of the difference of gender was to be expected, המּה stands instead of the more accurate הנּה (e.g., Gen 6:2). The number off the women of Solomon's court, 1Ki 11:3, is far greater (700 wives and 300 concubines); and those who deny the Solomonic authorship of the Song regard the poet, in this particular, as more historical than the historian. On our part, holding as we do the Solomonic authorship of the book, we conclude from these low numbers that the Song celebrates a love-relation of Solomon's at the commencement of his reign: his luxury had not then reached the enormous height to which he, the same Solomon, looks back, and which he designates, Ecc 2:8, as vanitas vanitatum. At any rate, the number of 60 מלכות, i.e., legitimate wives of equal rank with himself, is yet high enough; for, according to 2Ch 11:21, Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines. The 60 occurred before, at Sol 3:7. If it be a round number, as sometimes, although rarely, sexaginta is thus used (Hitzig), it may be reduced only to 51, but not further, especially here, where 80 stands along with it. פילגשׁ (פּלּגשׁ), Gr. παìλλαξ παλλακηì (Lat. pellex), which in the form פּלּקתּא (פּלקתא) came back from the Greek to the Aramaic, is a word as yet unexplained. According to the formation, it may be compared to חרמשׁ, from חרם, to cut off; whence also the harem bears the (Arab.) name hòaram, or the separated synaeconitis, to which access is denied. And ending in is (ש) is known to the Assyr., but only as an adverbial ending, which, as 'istinis = לבדּו, alone, solus, shows is connected with the pron. su. These two nouns appear as thus requiring to be referred to quadrilitera, with the annexed שׁ; perhaps פלגשׁ, in the sense of to break into splinters, from פּלג, to divide (whence a brook, as dividing itself in its channels, has the name of פּלג), points to the polygamous relation as a breaking up of the marriage of one; so that a concubine has the name pillěgěsh, as a representant of polygamy in contrast to monogamy.
In the first line of Sol 6:9 אחת is subj. (one, who is my dove, my perfect one); in the second line, on the contrary, it is pred. (one, unica, is she of her mother). That Shulamith was her mother's only child does not, however, follow from this; אחת, unica, is equivalent to unice dilecta, as יחיד, Pro 4:3, is equivalent to unice dilectus (cf. Keil's Zec 14:7). The parall. בּרה has its nearest signification electa (lxx, Syr., Jerome), not pura (Venet.); the fundamental idea of cutting and separating divides itself into the ideas of choosing and purifying. The Aorists, Sol 6:9, are the only ones in this book; they denote that Shulamith's look had, on the part of the women, this immediate result, that they willingly assigned to her the good fortune of being preferred to them all, - that to her the prize was due. The words, as also at Pro 31:28, are an echo of Gen 30:13, - the books of the Chokma delight in references to Genesis, the book of pre-Israelitish origin. Here, in Sol 6:8, Sol 6:9, the distinction between our typical and the allegorical interpretation is correctly seen. The latter is bound to explain what the 60 and the 80 mean, and how the wives, concubines, and “virgins” of the harem are to be distinguished from each other; but what till now has been attempted in this matter has, by reason of its very absurdity or folly, become an easy subject of wanton mockery. But the typical interpretation regards the 60 and the 80, and the unreckoned number, as what their names denote, - viz. favourites, concubines, and serving-maids. But to see an allegory of heavenly things in such a herd of women - a kind of thing which the Book of Genesis dates from the degradation of marriage in the line of Cain - is a profanation of that which is holy. The fact is, that by a violation of the law of God (Deu 17:17), Solomon brings a cloud over the typical representation, which is not at all to be thought of in connection with the Antitype. Solomon, as Jul Sturm rightly remarks, is not to be considered by himself, but only in his relation to Shulamith. In Christ, on the contrary, is no imperfection; sin remains in the congregation. In the Song, the bride is purer than the bridegroom; but in the fulfilling of the Song this relation is reversed: the bridegroom is purer than the bride.
Verse 10 edit
Sol 6:10 10 Who is this that looketh forth like the morning-red, Beautiful as the moon, pure as the sun, Terrible as a battle-host?
The question, “Who is this?” is the same as at Sol 3:6. There, it refers to her who was brought to the king; here, it refers to her who moves in that which is his as her own. There, the “this” is followed by עלה appositionally; here, by הנּשׁ looking forth determ., and thus more closely connected with it; but then indeterm., and thus apposit. predicates follow. The verb שׁקף signifies to bend forward, to overhang; whence the Hiph. השׁקיף and Niph. שׁקף, to look out, since in doing so one bends forward (vid., under Psa 14:2). The lxx here translates it by ἐκκυìπτουσα, the Venet. by παρακυìπτουσα, both of which signify to look toward something with the head inclined forward. The point of comparison is, the rising up from the background: Shulamith breaks through the shades of the garden-grove like the morning-red, the morning dawn; or, also: she comes nearer and nearer, as the morning-red rises behind the mountains, and then fills always the more widely the whole horizon. The Venet. translates ὡς ἑωσφοìρος; but the morning star is not שׁחר, but בּן־שׁחר, Isa 14:12; shahhar, properly, the morning-dawn, means, in Heb., not only this, like the Arab. shahòar, but rather, like the Arab. fajr, the morning-red, - i.e., the red tinge of the morning mist. From the morning-red the description proceeds to the moon, yet visible in the morning sky, before the sun has risen. It is usually called ירח, as being yellow; but here it is called לבנה, as being white; as also the sun, which here is spoken of as having risen (Jdg 5:31), is designated not by the word שׁמשׁ, as the unwearied (Psa 19:6, Psa 19:6), but, on account of the intensity of its warming light (Psa 19:7), is called חמּה. These, in the language of poetry, are favourite names of the moon and the sun, because already the primitive meaning of the two other names had disappeared from common use; but with these, definite attributive ideas are immediately connected. Shulamith appears like the morning-red, which breaks through the darkness; beautiful, like the silver moon, which in soft still majesty shines in the heavens (Job 31:26); pure (vid., regarding בּר, בּרוּר in this signification: smooth, bright, pure under Isa.Isa 49:2) as the sun, whose light (cf. טהור with the Aram. מיהרא, mid-day brightness) is the purest of the pure, imposing as war-hosts with their standards (vid., Sol 6:4). The answer of her who was drawing near, to this exclamation, sounds homely and childlike:
Verses 11-12 edit
Sol 6:11-12 11 To the nut garden I went down To look at the shrubs of the valley, To see whether the vine sprouted, The pomegranates budded. 12 I knew it not that my soul lifted me up To the royal chariots of my people, a noble (one).
In her loneliness she is happy; she finds her delight in quietly moving about in the vegetable world; the vine and the pomegranate, brought from her home, are her favourites. Her soul - viz. love for Solomon, which fills her soul - raised her to the royal chariots of her people, the royal chariots of a noble (one), where she sits besides the king, who drives the chariot; she knew this, but she also knew it not for what she had become without any cause of her own, that she is without self-elation and without disavowal of her origin. These are Shulamith's thoughts and feelings, which we think we derive from these two verses without reading between the lines and without refining. It went down, she says, viz., from the royal palace, cf. Sol 6:2. Then, further, she speaks of a valley; and the whole sounds rural, so that we are led to think of Etam as the scene. This Etam, romantically (vid., Jdg 15:8 f.) situated, was, as Josephus (Antt. viii. 7. 3) credibly informs us, Solomon's Belvedere. “In the royal stables,” he says, “so great was the regard for beauty and swiftness, that nowhere else could horses of greater beauty or greater fleetness be found. All had to acknowledge that the appearance of the king's horses was wonderfully pleasing, and that their swiftness was incomparable. Their riders also served as an ornament to them. They were young men in the flower of their age, and were distinguished by their lofty stature and their flowing hair, and by their clothing, which was of Tyrian purple. They every day sprinkled their hair with dust of gold, so that their whole head sparkled when the sun shone upon it. In such array, armed and bearing bows, they formed a body-guard around the king, who was wont, clothed in a white garment, to go out of the city in the morning, and even to drive his chariot. These morning excursions were usually to a certain place which was about sixty stadia from Jerusalem, and which was called Etam; gardens and brooks made it as pleasant as it was fruitful.” This Etam, from whence (the עין עיטם) a watercourse, the ruins of which are still visible, supplied the temple with water, has been identified by Robinson with a village called Artas (by Lumley called Urtas), about a mile and a half to the south of Bethlehem. At the upper end of the winding valley, at a considerable height above the bottom, are three old Solomonic pools, - large, oblong basins of considerable compass placed one behind the other in terraces. Almost at an equal height with the highest pool, at a distance of several hundred steps there is a strong fountain, which is carefully built over, and to which there is a descent by means of stairs inside the building. By it principally were the pools, which are just large reservoirs, fed, and the water was conducted by a subterranean conduit into the upper pool. Riding along the way close to the aqueduct, which still exists, one sees even at the present day the valley below clothed in rich vegetation; and it is easy to understand that here there may have been rich gardens and pleasure-grounds (Moritz Lüttke's Mittheilung). A more suitable place for this first scene of the fifth Act cannot be thought of; and what Josephus relates serves remarkably to illustrate not only the description of Sol 6:11, but also that of Sol 6:12. אגוז is the walnut, i.e., the Italian nut tree (Juglans regia L.), originally brought from Persia; the Persian name is jeuz, Aethiop. gûz, Arab. Syr. gauz (gôz), in Heb. with א prosth., like the Armen. engus. גּנּת אגוז is a garden, the peculiar ornament of which is the fragrant and shady walnut tree; גנת אגוזים would not be a nut garden, but a garden of nuts, for the plur. signifies, Mishn. nuces (viz., juglandes = Jovis glandes, Pliny, xvii. 136, ed. Jan.), as תּאנים, figs, in contradistinction to תּאנה, a fig tree, only the Midrash uses אגוזה here, elsewhere not occurring, of a tree. The object of her going down was one, viz., to observe the state of the vegetation; but it was manifold, as expressed in the manifold statements which follow ירדתּי. The first object was the nut garden. Then her intention was to observe the young shoots in the valley, which one has to think of as traversed by a river or brook; for נחל, like Wady, signifies both a valley and a valley-brook. The nut garden might lie in the valley, for the walnut tree is fond of a moderately cool, damp soil (Joseph. Bell. iii. 10. 8). But the אבּי are the young shoots with which the banks of a brook and the damp valley are usually adorned in the spring-time. אב, shoot, in the Heb. of budding and growth, in Aram. of the fruit-formation, comes from R. אב, the weaker power of נב, which signifies to expand and spread from within outward, and particularly to sprout up and to well forth. ב ראה signifies here, as at Gen 34:1, attentively to observe something, looking to be fixed upon it, to sink down into it. A further object was to observe whether the vine had broken out, or had budded (this is the meaning of פּרח, breaking out, to send forth, R. פר, to break), - whether the pomegranate trees had gained flowers or flower-buds הנצוּ, not as Gesen. in his Thes. and Heb. Lex. states, the Hiph. of נוּץ, which would be הניצוּ, but from נצץ instead of הנצוּ, with the same omission of Dagesh, after the forms הפרוּ, הרעוּ, cf. Pro 7:13, R. נץ נס, to glance, bloom (whence Nisan as the name of the flower-month, as Ab the name of the fruit-month).
Why the pomegranate tree (Punica granatum L.), which derives this its Latin name from its fruit being full of grains, bears the Semitic name of רמּון, (Arab.) rummân, is yet unexplained; the Arabians are so little acquainted with it, that they are uncertain whether ramm or raman (which, however, is not proved to exist) is to be regarded as the root-word. The question goes along with that regarding the origin and signification of Rimmon, the name of the Syrian god, which appears to denote “sublimity;” and it is possible that the pomegranate tree has its name from this god as being consecrated to him.
In Sol 6:12, Shulamith adds that, amid this her quiet delight in contemplating vegetable life, she had almost forgotten the position to which she had been elevated. ידעתּי לא may, according to the connection in which it is sued, mean, “I know not,” Gen 4:9; Gen 21:26, as well as “I knew not,” Gen 28:16; Pro 23:35; here the latter (lxx, Aquila, Jerome, Venet., Luther), for the expression runs parallel to ירדתי, and is related to it as verifying or circumstantiating it. The connection לא יד נפשי, whether we take the word נפשי as permut. of the subject (Luther: My soul knew it not) or as the accus. of the object: I knew not myself (after Job 9:21), is objectionable, because it robs the following שׂמתני of its subject, and makes the course of thought inappropriate. The accusative, without doubt, hits on what is right, since it gives the Rebia, corresponding to our colon, to יד; for that which follows with נפשׁי שׂם is just what she acknowledges not to have known or considered. For the meaning cannot be that her soul had placed or brought her in an unconscious way, i.e., involuntarily or unexpectedly, etc., for “I knew not,”as such a declaration never forms the principal sentence, but, according to the nature of the case, always a subordinate sentence, and that either as a conditional clause with Vav, Job 9:5, or as a relative clause, Isa 47:11; cf. Ps. 49:21. Thus “I knew not” will be followed by what she was unconscious of; it follows in oratio directa instead of obliqua, as also elsewhere after ידע, כּי, elsewhere introducing the object of knowledge, is omitted, Ps. 9:21; Amo 5:12. But if it remains unknown to her, if it has escaped her consciousness that her soul placed her, etc., then naphsi is here her own self, and that on the side of desire (Job 23:13; Deu 12:15); thus, in contrast to external constraint, her own most inward impulse, the leading of her heart. Following this, she has been placed on the height on which she now finds herself, without being always mindful of it. It would certainly now be most natural to regard מרכּבות, after the usual constr. of the verb שׂוּם with the double accus., e.g., Gen 28:22; Isa 50:2; Psa 39:9, as pred. accus. (Venet. ἐìθετοì με ὀχηìματα), as e.g., Hengst.: I knew not, thus my soul brought me (i.e., brought me at unawares) to the chariots of my people, who are noble. But what does this mean? He adds the remark: “Shulamith stands in the place of the war-chariots of her people as their powerful protector, or by the heroic spirit residing in her.” But apart from the syntactically false rendering of ידעתי לא, and the unwarrantable allegorizing, this interpretation wrecks itself on this, that “chariots” in themselves are not for protection, and thus without something further, especially in this designation by the word מרכבות, and not by רכב (2Ki 6:17; cf. 2Ki 2:12; 2Ki 13:14), are not war-chariots. מר will thus be the accus of the object of motion. It is thus understood, e.g., by Ewald (sec. 281d): My soul brought me to the chariots, etc. The shepherd-hypothesis finds here the seduction of Shulamith. Holländer translates: “I perceived it not; suddenly, it can scarcely be said unconsciously, I was placed in the state-chariots of Amminidab.” But the Masora expressly remarks that עמי נדיב are not to be read as if forming one, but as two words, תרין מלין.
Hitzig proportionally better, thus: without any apprehension of such a coincidence, she saw herself carried to the chariots of her noble people, i.e., as Gesen. in his Thes.: inter currus comitatus principis. Any other explanation, says Hitzig, is not possible, since the accus. מרך in itself signifies only in the direction wither, or in the neighbourhood whence. And certainly it is generally used of the aim or object toward which one directs himself or strives, e.g., Isa 37:23. Koděsh, “toward the sanctuary,” Psa 134:2; cf. hashshā'rā, “toward the gate,” Isa 22:7. But the accus. mārom can also mean “on high,” Isa 22:16, the accus. hashshāmaīm “in the heavens,” 1Ki 8:32; and as shalahh hāārets of being sent into the land, Num 13:27, thus may also sīm měrkāvāh be used for sim beměrkāvāh, 1Sa 8:11, according to which the Syr. (bemercabto) and the Quinta (εἰς ἁÌρματα) translate; on the contrary, Symm. and Jerome destroy the meaning by adopting the reading שׁמּתני (my soul placed me in confusion). The plur. markevoth is thus meant amplifi., like richvē, Sol 1:9, and battēnu, Sol 1:17.
As regards the subject, 2Sa 15:1 is to be compared; it is the king's chariot that is meant, yoked, according to Sol 1:9, with Egypt. horses. It is a question whether nadiv is related adject. to ammi: my people, a noble (people), - a connection which gives prominence to the attribute appositionally, Gen 37:2; Psa 143:10; Eze 34:12, - or permutat., so that the first gen. is exchanged for one defining more closely: to the royal chariot of my people, a prince. The latter has the preference, not merely because (leaving out of view the proper name Amminidab) wherever עם and נדיב are used together they are meant of those who stand prominent above the people, Num 21:18, Ps. 47:10; Psa 113:8, but because this נדיב and בּת־נדיב evidently stand in interchangeable relation. Yet, even though we take נדיב and עמי together, the thought remains the same. Shulamith is not one who is abducted, but, as we read at Sol 3:6 ff., one who is honourably brought home; and she here expressly says that no kind of external force but her own loving soul raised her to the royal chariots of her people and their king. That she gives to the fact of her elevation just this expression, arises from the circumstance that she places her joy in the loneliness of nature, in contrast to her driving along in a splendid chariot. Designating the chariot that of her noble people, or that of her people, and, indeed, of a prince, she sees in both cases in Solomon the concentration and climax of the people's glory.
Verse 13 edit
Encouraged by Shulamith's unassuming answer, the daughters of Jerusalem now give utterance to an entreaty which their astonishment at her beauty suggests to them. 13 Come back, come back, O Shulamith! Come back, come back, that we may look upon thee!
She is now (Sol 6:10.) on the way from the garden to the palace. The fourfold “come back” entreats her earnestly, yea, with tears, to return thither with them once more, and for this purpose, that they might find delight in looking up her; for ב חזה signifies to sink oneself into a thing, looking at it, to delight (feast) one's eyes in looking on a thing. Here for the first time Shulamith is addressed by name. But השּׁוּ cannot be a pure proper name, for the art. is vocat., as e.g., הבּת ירו, “O daughter of Jerusalem!” Pure proper names like שׁלמה are so determ. in themselves that they exclude the article; only such as are at the same time also nouns, like ירדּן and לבנון, are susceptible of the article, particularly also of the vocat., Psa 114:5; but cf. Zec 11:1 with Isa 10:34. Thus השּׁוּ will be not so much a proper name as a name of descent, as generally nouns in î (with a few exceptions, viz., of ordinal number, הררי, ימני, etc.) are all gentilicia. The lxx render השׁו by ἡ Σουναμῖτις, and this is indeed but another form for השּׁוּנמּית, i.e., she who is from Sunem. Thus also was designated the exceedingly beautiful Abishag, 1Ki 1:3, Elisha's excellent and pious hostess, 2Ki 4:8 ff. Sunem was in the tribe of Issachar (Jos 19:18), near to Little Hermon, from which it was separated by a valley, to the south-east of Carmel. This lower Galilean Sunem, which lies south from Nain, south-east from Nazareth, south-west from Tabor, is also called Shulem. Eusebius in his Onomasticon says regarding it: Σουβηìμ (l. Σουληìμ) κληìρου Ισσαìχαρ καιÌ νῦν ἐστιÌ κωìμη ΣουληÌμ κ.τ.λ., i.e., as Jerome translates it: Sunem in tribue Issachar. et usque hodie vicus ostenditur nomine Sulem in quinto miliario montis Thabor contra australum plagam. This place if found at the present day under the name of Suwlam (Sôlam), at the west end of Jebel ed-Duhi (Little Hermon), not far from the great plain (Jisre'el, now Zer'în), which forms a convenient way of communication between Jordan and the sea-coast, but is yet so hidden in the mountain range that the Talmud is silent concerning this Sulem, as it is concerning Nazareth. Here was the home of the Shulamitess of the Song. The ancients interpret the name by εἰρημευìουσα, or by ἐσκυλευμεìνη (vid., Lagarde's Onomastica), the former after Aquila and the Quinta, the latter after Symm. The Targum has the interpretation: השׁלמה באמונתה עם ה (vid., Rashi). But the form of the name (the Syr. writes שׁילוּמיתא) is opposed to these allegorical interpretations. Rather it is to be assumed that the poet purposely used, not hshwb', but hshwl', to assimilate her name to that of Solomon; and that it has the parallel meaning of one devoted to Solomon, and thus, as it were, of a passively-applied שׁלומית = Σαλοìμη, is the more probable, as the daughters of Jerusalem would scarcely venture thus to address her who was raised to the rank of a princess unless this name accorded with that of Solomon.
Not conscious of the greatness of her beauty, Shulamith asks - 1ba What do you see in Shulamith?
She is not aware that anything particular is to be seen in her; but the daughters of Jerusalem are of a different opinion, and answer this childlike, modest, but so much the more touching question - 1bb As the dance of Mahanaim!
They would thus see in her something like the dance of Manahaaïm. If this be here the name of the Levitical town (now Mahneh) in the tribe of Gad, north of Jabbok, where Ishbosheth resided for two years, and where David was hospitably entertained on his flight from Absalom (Luthr.: “the dance to Mahanaaïm”), then we must suppose in this trans-Jordanic town such a popular festival as was kept in Shiloh, Jdg 21:19, and we may compare Abel-meholah = meadow of dancing, the name of Elisha's birth-place (cf. also Herod. i. 16: “To dance the dance of the Arcadian town of Tegea”). But the Song delights in retrospective references to Genesis (cf. Gen 4:11, Gen 7:11). At Gen 32:3, however, by Mahanaaïm is meant the double encampment of angels who protected Jacob's two companies (Gen 32:8). The town of Mahanaaïm derives its name from this vision of Jacob's. The word, as the name of a town, is always without the article; and here, where it has the article, it is to be understood appellatively. The old translators, in rendering by “the dances of the camps” (Syr., Jerome, choros castrorum, Venet. θιìασον στρατοπεìδων), by which it remains uncertain whether a war-dance or a parade is meant, overlook the dual, and by exchanging מחנים with מצנות, they obtain a figure which in this connection is incongruous and obscure. But, in truth, the figure is an angelic one. The daughters of Jerusalem wish to see Shulamith dance, and they designate that as an angelic sight. Mahanaaïm became in the post-bibl. dialect a name directly for angels. The dance of angels is only a step beyond the responsive song of the seraphim, Isa 6:1-13. Engelkoere angel-choir and “heavenly host” are associated in the old German poetry.
The following description is undeniably that (let one only read how Hitzig in vain seeks to resist this interpretation) of one dancing. In this, according to biblical representation and ancient custom, there is nothing repulsive. The women of the ransomed people, with Miriam at their head, danced, as did also the women who celebrated David's victory over Goliath (Exo 15:20; 1Sa 18:6). David himself danced (2 Sam 6) before the ark of the covenant. Joy and dancing are, according to Old Testament conception, inseparable (Ecc 3:4); and joy not only as the happy feeling of youthful life, but also spiritual holy joy (Psa 87:7). The dance which the ladies of the court here desire to see, falls under the point of view of a play of rival individual artistes reciprocally acting for the sake of amusement. The play also is capable of moral nobility, if it is enacted within the limits of propriety, at the right time, in the right manner, and if the natural joyfulness, penetrated by intelligence, is consecrated by a spiritual aim. Thus Shulamith, when she dances, does not then become a Gaditanian (Martial, xiv. 203) or an Alma (the name given in Anterior Asia to those women who go about making it their business to dance mimic and partly lascivious dances); nor does she become a Bajadere (Isa 23:15 f.), as also Miriam, Exo 15:20, Jephthah's daughter, Jdg 11:34, the “daughters of Shiloh,” Jdg 21:21, and the woman of Jerusalem, 1Sa 18:6, did not dishonour themselves by dancing; the dancing of virgins is even a feature of the times after the restoration, Jer 31:13. But that Shulamith actually danced in compliance with the earnest entreaty of the daughters of Jerusalem, is seen from the following description of her attractions, which begins with her feet and the vibration of her thighs.
After throwing aside her upper garments, so that she had only the light clothing of a shepherdess or vinedresser, Shulamith danced to and fro before the daughters of Jerusalem, and displayed all her attractions before them. Her feet, previously (Sol 5:3) naked, or as yet only shod with sandals, she sets forth with the deportment of a prince's daughter.
Chap. 7 edit
Verse 1 edit
Sol 7:1 1a How beautiful are thy steps in the shoes, O prince's daughter!
The noun נדיב, which signifies noble in disposition, and then noble by birth and rank (cf. the reverse relation of the meanings in generosus), is in the latter sense synon. and parallel to מלך and שׂר; Shulamith is here called a prince's daughter because she was raised to the rank of which Hannah, 1Sa 2:8, cf. Psa 113:8, speaks, and to which she herself, 6:12 points. Her beauty, from the first associated with unaffected dignity, now appears in native princely grace and majesty. פּעם (from פּעם, pulsare, as in nunc pede libero pulsanda tellus) signifies step and foot, - in the latter sense the poet. Heb. and the vulgar Phoen. word for רגל; here the meanings pes and passus (Fr. pas, dance-step) flow into each other. The praise of the spectators now turns from the feet of the dancer to her thighs: 1b The vibration of thy thighs like ornamental chains, The work of an artist's hands.
The double-sided thighs, viewed from the spine and the lower part of the back, are called מתנים; from the upper part of the legs upwards, and the breast downwards (the lumbar region), thus seen on the front and sidewise, חלצים or ירכים. Here the manifold twistings and windings of the upper part of the body by means of the thigh-joint are meant; such movements of a circular kind are called חמּוּקים, from חמק, Sol 5:6. חלאים is the plur. of חלי = (Arab.) ḥaly, as חבאים (gazelles) of צבי = zaby. The sing. חלי (or חליה = Arab. hulyah) signifies a female ornament, consisting of gold, silver, or precious stones, and that (according to the connection, Pro 25:2; Hos 2:15) for the neck or the breast as a whole; the plur. חל, occurring only here, is therefore chosen because the bendings of the loins, full of life and beauty, are compared to the free swingings to and fro of such an ornament, and thus to a connected ornament of chains; for חם are not the beauty-curves of the thighs at rest, - the connection here requires movement. In accordance with the united idea of חל, the appos. is not מעשׂי, but (according to the Palestin.) מעשׂה (lxx, Targ., Syr., Venet.). The artist is called אמּן (ommân) (the forms אמן and אמן are also found), Syr. avmon, Jewish-Aram. אוּמן; he has, as the master of stability, a name like ימין, the right hand: the hand, and especially the right hand, is the artifex among the members.
The eulogists pass from the loins to the middle part of the body. In dancing, especially in the Oriental style of dancing, which is the mimic representation of animated feeling, the breast and the body are raised, and the forms of the body appear through the clothing.
Verse 2 edit
Sol 7:2 2 Thy navel is a well-rounded basin - Let not mixed wine be wanting to it Thy body is a heap of wheat, Set round with lilies.
In interpreting these words, Hitzig proceeds as if a “voluptuary” were here speaking. He therefore changes שׁררך into שׁררך, “thy pudenda.” But (1) it is no voluptuary who speaks here, and particularly not a man, but women who speak; certainly, above all, it is the poet, who would not, however, be so inconsiderate as to put into the mouths of women immodest words which he could use if he wished to represent the king as speaking. Moreover (2) שׁר = (Arab.) surr, secret (that which is secret; in Arab. especially referred to the pudenda, both of man and woman), is a word that is foreign to the Heb. language, which has for “Geheimnis” secret the corresponding word סוד (vid., under Psa 2:2; Psa 25:14), after the root-signification of its verbal stem (viz., to be firm, pressed together); and (3) the reference - preferred by Döpke, Magnus, Hahn, and others, also without any change of punctuation - of שׁר to the interfeminium mulieris, is here excluded by the circumstance that the attractions of a woman dancing, as they unfold themselves, are here described. Like the Arab. surr, שׁר (= shurr), from שׁרר, to bind fast, denotes properly the umbilical cord, Eze 16:4, and then the umbilical scar. Thus, Pro 3:8, where most recent critics prefer, for לשׁרּך, to read, but without any proper reason, לשׁרך = לשׁארך, “to thy flesh,” the navel comes there into view as the centre of the body, - which it always is with new-born infants, and is almost so with grown-up persons in respect of the length of the body, - and as, indeed, the centre. whence the pleasurable feeling of health diffuses its rays of heat. This middle and prominent point of the abdomen shows itself in one lightly clad and dancing when she breathes deeply, even through the clothing; and because the navel commonly forms a little funnel-like hollow (Böttch.: in the form almost of a whirling hollow in the water, as one may see in nude antique statues), therefore the daughters of Jerusalem compare Shulamith's navel to a “basin of roundness,” i.e., which has this general property, and thus belongs to the class of things that are round. אגּן does not mean a Becher (a cup), but a Bechen (basin), pelvis; properly a washing basin, ijjanah (from אגן = ajan, to full, to wash = כּבּס); then a sprinkling basin, Exo 24:6; and generally a basin, Isa 22:24; here, a mixing basin, in which wine was mingled with a proportion of water to render it palatable (κρατήρ, from κεραννύναι, temperare), - according to the Talm. with two-thirds of water. In this sense this passage is interpreted allegorically, Sanhedrin 14b, 37a, and elsewhere (vid., Aruch under מזג). מזג .)מז is not spiced wine, which is otherwise designated (Sol 8:2), but, as Hitzig rightly explains, mixed wine, i.e., mixed with water or snow (vid., under Isa 5:22). מזג is not borrowed from the Greek μίσγειν (Grätz), but is a word native to all the three chief Semitic dialects, - the weaker form of מסך, which may have the meaning of “to pour in;” but not merely “to pour in,” but, at that same time, “to mix” (vid., under Isa 5:22; Pro 9:2). סהר, with אגּן, represents the circular form (from סהר = סחר), corresponding to the navel ring; Kimchi thinks that the moon must be understood (cf. שׂהרון, lunula): a moon-like round basin; according to which the Venet., also in Gr., choosing an excellent name for the moon, translates: ῥἀντιστρον τῆς ἑκάτης. But “moon-basin” would be an insufficient expression for it; Ewald supposes that it is the name of a flower, without, however, establishing this opinion. The “basin of roundness” is the centre of the body a little depressed; and that which the clause, “may not mixed wine be lacking,” expresses, as their wish for her, is soundness of health, for which no more appropriate and delicate figure can be given than hot wine tempered with fresh water.
The comparison in 3b is the same as that of R. Johanan's of beauty, Mezîa 84a: “He who would gain an idea of beauty should take a silver cup, fill it with pomegranate flowers, and encircle its rim with a garland of roses.”
To the present day, winnowed and sifted corn is piled up in great heaps of symmetrical half-spherical form, which are then frequently stuck over with things that move in the wind, for the purpose of protecting them against birds. “The appearance of such heaps of wheat,” says Wetstein (Isa. p. 710), “which one may see in long parallel rows on the thrashing-floors of a village, is very pleasing to a peasant; and the comparison of the Song; Sol 7:3, every Arabian will regard as beautiful.” Such a corn-heap is to the present day called ṣubbah, while ‛aramah is a heap of thrashed corn that has not yet been winnowed; here, with ערמה, is to be connected the idea of a ṣubbah, i.e., of a heap of wheat not only thrashed and winnowed, but also sifted (riddled). סוּג, enclosed, fenced about (whence the post-bibl. סיג, a fence), is a part. pass. such as פּוּץ, scattered (vid., under Psa 92:12). The comparison refers to the beautiful appearance of the roundness, but, at the same time, also the flesh-colour shining through the dress; for fancy sees more than the eyes, and concludes regarding that which is veiled from that which is visible. A wheat-colour was, according to the Moslem Sunna, the tint of the first created man. Wheat-yellow and lily-white is a subdued white, and denotes at once purity and health; by πυρός wheat one thinks of πῦρ - heaped up wheat developes a remarkable heat, a fact for which Biesenthal refers to Plutarch's Quaest. In accordance with the progress of the description, the breasts are now spoken of:
Verse 3 edit
Sol 7:3 3 Thy two breasts are like two fawns, Twins of a gazelle.
Sol 4:5 is repeated, but with the omission of the attribute, “feeding among lilies,” since lilies have already been applied to another figure. Instead of תּאומי there, we have here מּאמי (taǒme), the former after the ground-form ti'âm, the latter after the ground-form to'm (cf. נּאלי, Neh 8:2, from גּאל = גּאל).
Verse 4 edit
Sol 7:4 4a Thy neck like an ivory tower.
The article in חשּׁן may be that designating species (vid., under Sol 1:11); but, as at Sol 7:5 and Sol 4:4, it appears to be also here a definite tower which the comparison has in view: one covered externally with ivory tablets, a tower well known to all in and around Jerusalem, and visible far and wide, especially when the sun shone on it; had it been otherwise, as in the case of the comparison following, the locality would have been more definitely mentioned. So slender, so dazzlingly white, is imposing, and so captivating to the eye did Shulamith's neck appear. These and the following figures would be open to the objection of being without any occasion, and monstrous, if they referred to an ordinary beauty; but they refer to Solomon's spouse, they apply to a queen, and therefore are derived from that which is most splendid in the kingdom over which, along with him, she rules; and in this they have the justification of their grandeur. 4ba Thine eyes pools in Heshbon, At the gate of the populous (city).Hesbhon, formerly belonging to the Amorites, but at this time to the kingdom of Solomon, lay about 5 1/2 hours to the east of the northern point of the Dead Sea, on an extensive, undulating, fruitful, high table-land, with a far-reaching prospect. Below the town, now existing only in heaps of ruins, a brook, which here takes it rise, flows westward, and streams toward the Ghôr as the Nahr Hesbán. It joins the Jordan not far above its entrance into the Dead Sea. The situation of the town was richly watered. There still exists a huge reservoir of excellent masonry in the valley, about half a mile from the foot of the hill on which the town stood. The comparison here supposes two such pools, but which are not necessarily together, though both are before the gate, i.e., near by, outside the town. Since שׁער, except at Isa 14:31, is fem., רבּים־בּים, in the sense of עם רבּתי, Lam 1:1 (cf. for the non-determin. of the adj., Eze 21:25), is to be referred to the town, not to the gate (Hitz.); Blau's conjectural reading, bath-'akrabbim, does not recommend itself, because the craggy heights of the “ascent of Akrabbim” (Num 34:4; Jos 15:3), which obliquely cross the Ghôr to the south of the Dead Sea, and from remote times formed the southern boundary of the kingdom of the Amorites (Jdg 1:36), were too far off, and too seldom visited, to give its name to a gate of Heshbon. But generally the crowds of men at the gate and the topography of the gate are here nothing to the purpose; the splendour of the town, however, is for the figure of the famed cisterns like a golden border. בּרכה (from בּרך, to spread out, vid., Genesis, p. 98; Fleischer in Levy, I 420b) denotes a skilfully built round or square pool. The comparison of the eyes to a pool means, as Wetstein remarks, “either thus glistening like a water-mirror, or thus lovely in appearance, for the Arabian knows no greater pleasure than to look upon clear, gently rippling water.” Both are perhaps to be taken together; the mirroring glance of the moist eyes (cf. Ovid, De Arte Am. ii. 722):“Adspicies obulos tremulo fulgore micantes, Ut sol a liquida saepe refulget aqua” and the spell of the charm holding fast the gaze of the beholder. 4bb Thy nose like the tower of Lebanon, Which looks towards Damascus.
This comparison also places us in the midst of the architectural and artistic splendours of the Solomonic reign. A definite town is here meant; the art. determines it, and the part. following appositionally without the art., with the expression “towards Damascus” defining it more nearly (vid., under Sol 3:6), describes it. הלּמנון designates here “the whole Alpine range of mountains in the north of the land of Israel” (Furrer); for a tower which looks in the direction of Damascus (פּני, accus., as את־פּני, 1Sa 22:4) is to be thought of as standing on one of the eastern spurs of Hermon, or on the top of Amana (Sol 4:8), whence the Amana (Barada) takes its rise, whether as a watch-tower (2Sa 8:6), or only as a look-out from which might be enjoyed the paradisaical prospect. The nose gives to the face especially its physiognomical expression, and conditions its beauty. Its comparison to a tower on a lofty height is occasioned by the fact that Shulamith's nose, without being blunt or flat, formed a straight line from the brow downward, without bending to the right or left (Hitzig), a mark of symmetrical beauty combined with awe-inspiring dignity. After the praise of the nose it was natural to think of Carmel; Carmel is a promontory, and as such is called anf el-jebel (“nose of the mountain-range”).
Verse 5 edit
Sol 7:5 5aa Thy head upon thee as Carmel.
We say that the head is “on the man” (2Ki 6:31; Judith 14:18), for we think of a man ideally as the central unity of the members forming the external appearance of his body. Shulamith's head ruled her form, surpassing all in beauty and majesty, as Carmel with its noble and pleasing appearance ruled the land and sea at its feet. From the summit of Carmel, clothed with trees) Amo 9:3; 1Ki 18:42), a transition is made to the hair on the head, which the Moslem poets are fond of comparing to long leaves, as vine leaves and palm branches; as, on the other hand, the thick leafy wood is called (vid., under Isa 7:20) comata silva (cf. Oudendorp's Apuleii Metam. p. 744). Grätz, proceeding on the supposition of the existence of Persian words in the Song, regards כרמל as the name of a colour; but (1) crimson is designated in the Heb.-Pers. not כרמל, but כרמיל, instead of תולעת שׁני (vid., under Isa 1:18; Pro 31:21); (2) if the hair of the head (if ראשׁך might be directly understood of this) may indeed be compared to the glistening of purple, not, however, to the listening of carmese or scarlet, then red and not black hair must be meant. But it is not the locks of hair, but the hair in locks that is meant. From this the eulogium finally passes to the hair of the head itself. 5ab The flowing hair of thy head like purple - A king fettered by locks.
Hitzig supposes that כרמל reminded the poet of כּרמיל (carmese), and that thus he hit upon ארגּמן (purple); but one would rather think that Carmel itself would immediately lead him to purple, for near this promontory is the principal place where purple shell-fish are found (Seetzen's Reisen, IV 277 f.). דּלּה (from דּלל, to dangle, to hang loose, Job 28:4, Arab. tadladal) is res pendula, and particularly coma pendula. Hengst. remarks that the “purple” has caused much trouble to those who understand by דלה the hair of the head. He himself, with Gussetius, understand by it the temples,tempus capitis; but the word רקּה is used (Sol 4:3) for “temples,” and “purple-like” hair hanging down could occasion trouble only to those who know not how to distinguish purple from carmese. Red purple, ארגּמן (Assyr. argamannu, Aram., Arab., Pers., with departure from the primary meaning of the word, ארגּון ,drow eht), which derives this name from רגם = רקם, material of variegated colour, is dark-red, and almost glistening black, as Pliny says (Hist. Nat. ix. 135): Laus ei (the Tyrian purple) summa in colore sanguinis concreti, nigricans adspectu idemque suspectu (seen from the side) refulgens, unde et Homero purpureus dicitur sanguis. The purple hair of Nisus does not play a part in myth alone, but beautiful shining dark black hair is elsewhere also called purple, e.g., πυρφύρεος πλόκαμος in Lucian, πορφυραῖ χαῖται in Anacreon. With the words “like purple,” the description closes; and to this the last characteristic distinguishing Shulamith there is added the exclamation: “A king fettered by locks!” For רהטים, from רהט, to run, flow, is also a name of flowing locks, not the ear-locks (Hitz.), i.e., long ringlets flowing down in front; the same word (Sol 1:17) signifies in its North Palest. form רחיט (Chethı̂b), a water-trough, canalis. The locks of one beloved are frequently called in erotic poetry “the fetters” by which the lover is held fast, for “love wove her net in alluring ringlets” (Deshâmi in Joseph and Zuleika).
Goethe in his Westöst. Divan presents as a bold yet moderate example: “There are more than fifty hooks in each lock of thy hair;” and, on the other hand, one offensively extravagant, when it is said of a Sultan: “In the bonds of thy locks lies fastened the neck of the enemy.” אסוּר signifies also in Arab. frequently one enslaved by love: asîruha is equivalent to her lov.
The mention of the king now leads from the imagery of a dance to the scene which follows, where we again hear the king's voice. The scene and situation are now manifestly changed. We are transferred from the garden to the palace, where the two, without the presence of any spectators, carry on the following dialogue.
Verse 6 edit
Sol 7:6 6 How beautiful art thou, and how charming, O love, among delights!
It is a truth of all-embracing application which is here expressed. There is nothing more admirable than love, i.e., the uniting or mingling together of two lives, the one of which gives itself to the other, and so finds the complement of itself; nor than this self-devotion, which is at the same time self-enrichment. All this is true of earthly love, of which Walther v. d. Vogelweide says: “minne ist sweier herzen wünne” love is the joy of two hearts, and it is true also of heavenly love; the former surpasses all earthly delights (also such as are purely sensuous, Ecc 2:8), and the latter is, as the apostle expresses himself in his spiritual “Song of Songs,” 1Co 13:13, in relation to faith and hope, “greater than these,” greater than both of them, for it is their sacred, eternal aim. In יפית it is indicated that the idea, and in נעמתּ that the eudaemonistic feature of the human soul attains its satisfaction in love. The lxx, obliterating this so true and beautiful a promotion of love above all other joys, translate ἐν ταῖς τρυφαῖς σου (in the enjoyment which thou impartest). The Syr., Jerome, and others also rob the Song of this its point of light and of elevation, by reading אהמה O beloved! instead of אהבה. The words then declare (yet contrary to the spirit of the Hebrew language, which knows neither אהוּמה nor אהוּמתי as vocat.) what we already read at Sol 4:10; while, according to the traditional form of the text, they are the prelude of the love-song, to love as such, which is continued in Sol 8:6.
Verses 7-8 edit
When Solomon now looks on the wife of his youth, she stands before him like a palm tree with its splendid leaf-branches, which the Arabians call ucht insân (the sisters of men); and like a vine which climbs up on the wall of the house, and therefore is an emblem of the housewife, Psa 128:3. 7 Thy stature is like the palm tree; And thy breasts clusters. 8 I thought: I will climb the palm, Grasp its branches; And thy breasts shall be to me As clusters of the vine, And the breath of thy nose like apples,
Shulamith stands before him. As he surveys her from head to foot, he finds her stature like the stature of a slender, tall date-palm, and her breasts like the clusters of sweet fruit, into which, in due season its blossoms are ripened. That קומתך (thy stature) is not thought of as height apart from the person, but as along with the person (cf. Eze 13:18), scarcely needs to be remarked. The palm derives its name, tāmār, from its slender stem rising upwards (vid., under Isa 17:9; Isa 61:6). This name is specially given to the Phoenix dactylifera, which is indigenous from Egypt to India, and which is principally cultivated (vid., under Gen 14:7), the female flowers of which, set in panicles, develope into large clusters of juicy sweet fruit. These dark-brown or golden-yellow clusters, which crown the summit of the stem and impart a wonderful beauty to the appearance of the palm, especially when seen in the evening twilight, are here called אשׁוכלות (connecting form at Deu 32:32), as by the Arabians 'ithkal, plur. 'ithakyl (botri dactylorum). The perf. דּמתה signifies aequata est = aequa est; for דּמה, R. דם, means, to make or to become plain, smooth, even. The perf. אמרתּי, on the other hand, will be meant retrospectively. As an expression of that which he just now purposed to do, it would be useless; and thus to notify with emphasis anything beforehand is unnatural and contrary to good taste and custom. But looking back, he can say that in view of this august attractive beauty the one thought filled him, to secure possession of her and of the enjoyment which she promised; as one climbs (עלה with בּ, as Psa 24:3) a palm tree and seizes (אחז, fut. אחז, and אאחז with בּ, as at Job 23:11) its branches (סנסנּים, so called, as it appears, after the feather-like pointed leaves proceeding from the mid-rib on both sides), in order to break off the fulness of the sweet fruit under its leaves. As the cypress (sarwat), so also the palm is with the Moslem poets the figure of a loved one, and with the mystics, of God; and accordingly the idea of possession is here particularly intended. ויהיוּ־נא denotes what he then thought and aimed at. Instead of בּתּמר, Sol 7:9, the punctuation בּתּמר is undoubtedly to be preferred. The figure of the palm tree terminates with the words, “will grasp its branches.” It was adequate in relation to stature, but less so in relation to the breasts; for dates are of a long oval form, and have a stony kernel. Therefore the figure departs from the date clusters to that of grape clusters, which are more appropriate, as they swell and become round and elastic the more they ripen. The breath of the nose, which is called אף, from breathing hard, is that of the air breathed, going in and out through it; for, as a rule, a man breathes through his nostrils with closed mouth. Apples present themselves the more naturally for comparison, that the apple has the name תּפּוּח (from נפח, after the form תּמכוּף), from the fragrance which it exhales.
Verse 9 edit
Sol 7:9 9aa And thy palate like the best wine. יין הטּוב is wine of the good kind, i.e., the best, as רע אושׁת, Pro 6:24, a woman of a bad kind, i.e., a bad woman; the neut. thought of as adject. is both times the gen. of the attribute, as at Pro 24:25 it is the gen. of the substratum. The punctuation כּיּין הטּוב (Hitz.) is also possible; it gives, however, the common instead of the delicate poetical expression. By the comparison one may think of the expressions, jungere salivas oris (Lucret.) and oscula per longas jungere pressa moras (Ovid). But if we have rightly understood Sol 4:11; Sol 5:16, the palate is mentioned much rather with reference to the words of love which she whispers in his ears when embracing her. Only thus is the further continuance of the comparison to be explained, and that it is Shulamith herself who continues it. 9ab Which goes down for my beloved smoothly, Which makes the lips of sleepers move.
The dramatic structure of the Song becomes here more strongly manifest than elsewhere before. Shulamith interrupts the king, and continues his words as if echoing them, but again breaks off. The lxx had here לדודי in the text. It might notwithstanding be a spurious reading. Hitzig suggests that it is erroneously repeated, as if from Sol 7:11. Ewald also (Hohesl. p. 137) did that before, - Heiligstedt, as usual, following him. But, as Ewald afterwards objected, the line would then be “too short, and not corresponding to that which follows.” But how shall לדודי now connect itself with Solomon's words? Ginsburg explains: “Her voice is not merely compared to wine, because it is sweet to everybody, but to such wine as would be sweet to a friend, and on that account is more valuable and pleasant.” But that furnishes a thought digressing εἰς ἄλλο γένος; and besides, Ewald rightly remarks that Shulamith always uses the word דודי of her beloved, and that the king never uses it in a similar sense. He contends, however, against the idea that Shulamith here interrupts Solomon; for he replies to me (Jahrb. IV 75): “Such interruptions we certainly very frequently find in our ill-formed and dislocated plays; in the Song, however, not a solitary example of this is found, and one ought to hesitate in imagining such a thing.” He prefers the reading לדּודים beloved ones, although possibly לדודי, with î, abbreviated after the popular style of speech from îm, may be the same word. But is this ledodim not a useless addition? Is excellent wine good to the taste of friends merely; and does it linger longer in the palate of those not beloved than of those loving? And is the circumstance that Shulamith interrupts the king, and carried forward his words, not that which frequently also occurs in the Greek drama, as e.g., Eurip. Phoenissae, v. 608? The text as it stands before us requires an interchange of the speakers, and nothing prevents the supposition of such an interchange. In this idea Hengstenberg for once agrees with us. The Lamed in ledodi is meant in the same sense as when the bride drinks to the bridegroom, using the expression ledodi. The Lamed in למישׁרים is that of the defining norm, as the Beth in במי, Pro 23:31, is that of the accompanying circumstance: that which tastes badly sticks in the palate, but that which tastes pleasantly glides down directly and smoothly. But what does the phrase וגו דּובב שׂף mean? The lxx translate by ἱκανούμενος χείλεσί μου καὶ ὀδοῦσιν, “accommodating itself (Sym. προστιθέμενος) to my lips and teeth.” Similarly Jerome (omitting at least the false μου), labiisque et dentibus illius ad ruminandum, in which דּבּה, rumor, for דובב, seems to have led him to ruminare. Equally contrary to the text with Luther's translation: “which to my friend goes smoothly goes, and speaks of the previous year;” a rendering which supposes ישׁנים (as also the Venet.) instead of ישׁנים (good wine which, as it were, tells of former years), and, besides, disregards שׁפתי. The translation: “which comes at unawares upon the lips of the sleepers,” accords with the language (Heiligst., Hitz.). But that gives no meaning, as if one understood by ישׁנים, as Gesen. and Ewald do, una in eodem toro cubantes; but in this case the word ought to have been שׁכבים. Since, besides, such a thing is known as sleeping through drink or speaking in sleep, but not of drinking in sleep, our earlier translation approves itself: which causes the lips of sleepers to speak. This interpretation is also supported by a proverb in the Talm. Jebamoth 97a, Jer. Moeed Katan, iii. 7, etc., which, with reference to the passage under review, says that if any one in this world adduces the saying of a righteous man in his name (רוחשׁות or מרחשׁות), שׂפתותיו דובבות בקבר. But it is an error inherited from Buxtorf, that דובבות means there loquuntur, and, accordingly, that דובב of this passage before us means loqui faciens. It rather means (vid., Aruch), bullire, stillare, manare (cogn. זב, טף, Syn. רחשׁ), since, as that proverb signifies, the deceased experiences an after-taste of his saying, and this experience expresses itself in the smack of the lips; and דּובב, whether it be part. Kal or Po. = מדובב, thus: brought into the condition of the overflowing, the after-experience of drink that has been partaken of, and which returns again, as it were, ruminando. The meaning “to speak” is, in spite of Parchon and Kimchi (whom the Venet., with its φθεγγόμενος, follows), foreign to the verb; for דּבּה also means, not discourse, but sneaking, and particularly sneaking calumny, and, generally, fama repens. The calumniator is called in Arab. dabûb, as in Heb. רכיל.
We now leave it undecided whether in דובב, of this passage before us, that special idea connected with it in the Gemara is contained; but the roots דב and זב are certainly cogn., they have the fundamental idea of a soft, noiseless movement generally, and modify this according as they are referred to that which is solid or fluid. Consequently דּבב, as it means in lente incedere (whence the bear has the name דּב), is also capable of being interpreted leniter se movere, and trans. leniter movere, according to which the Syr. here translates, quod commovet labia mea et dentes meos (this absurd bringing in of the teeth is from the lxx and Aq.), and the Targ. allegorizes, and whatever also in general is the meaning of the Gemara as far as it exchanges דובבות for רוחשות (vid., Levy under רחשׁ). Besides, the translations qui commovet and qui loqui facit fall together according to the sense. For when it is said of generous wine, that it makes the lips of sleepers move, a movement is meant expressing itself in the sleeper speaking. But generous wine is a figure of the love-responses of the beloved, sipped in, as it were, with pleasing satisfaction, which hover still around the sleepers in delightful dreams, and fill them with hallucinations.
Verse 10 edit
Sol 7:10 10 I am my beloved's And to me goeth forth his desire.
After the words “I am my beloved's,” we miss the “and my beloved is mine” of Sol 6:3, cf. Sol 2:16, which perhaps had dropped out. The second line here refers back to Gen 3:16, for here, as there, תּשׁוּקה, from שׁוּק, to impel, move, is the impulse of love as a natural power. When a wife is the object of such passion, it is possible that, on the one side, she feels herself very fortunate therein; and, on the other side, if the love, in its high commendations, becomes excessive, oppressed, and when she perceive that in her love-relation she is the observed of many eyes, troubled. It is these mingled feelings which move Shulamith when she continues the praise so richly lavished on her in words which denote what she might be to the king, but immediately breaks off in order that, as the following verse now shows, she might use this superabundance of his love for the purpose of setting forth her request, and thus of leading into another path; her simple, child-like disposition longs for the quietness and plainness of rural life, away from the bustle and display of city and court life.
Verse 11 edit
Sol 7:11 11 Up, my lover, we will go into the country, Lodge in the villages.
Hitzig here begins a new scene, to which he gives the superscription: “Shulamith making haste to return home with her lov.” The advocate of the shepherd-hypothesis thinks that the faithful Shulamith, after hearing Solomon's panegyric, shakes her head and says: “I am my beloved's.” To him she calls, “Come, my beloved;” for, as Ewald seeks to make this conceivable: the golden confidence of her near triumph lifts her in spirit forthwith above all that is present and all that is actual; only to him may she speak; and as if she were half here and half already there, in the midst of her rural home along with him, she says, “Let us go out into the fields,” etc. In fact, there is nothing more incredible than this Shulamitess, whose dialogue with Solomon consists of Solomon's addresses, and of answers which are directed, not to Solomon, but in a monologue to her shepherd; and nothing more cowardly and more shadowy than this lover, who goes about in the moonlight seeking his beloved shepherdess whom he has lost, glancing here and there through the lattices of the windows and again disappearing. How much more justifiable is the drama of the Song by the French Jesuit C. F. Menestrier (born in Sion 1631, died 1705), who, in his two little works on the opera and the ballet, speaks of Solomon as the creator of the opera, and regards the Song as a shepherd-play, in which his love-relation to the daughter of the king of Egypt is set forth under the allegorical figures of the love of a shepherd and a shepherdess!
For Shulamith is thought of as a רעה shepherdess, Sol 1:8, and she thinks of Solomon as a רעה shepherd. She remains so in her inclination even after her elevation to the rank of a queen. The solitude and glory of external nature are dearer to her than the bustle and splendour of the city and the court. Hence her pressing out of the city to the country. השׂדה is local, without external designation, like rus (to the country). כּפרים (here and at 1Ch 27:25) is plur. of the unused form כּפר (constr. כּפר, Jos 18:24) or כּפר, Arab. kafar (cf. the Syr. dimin. kafrûno, a little town), instead of which it is once pointed כּפר, 1Sa 6:18, of that name of a district of level country with which a multitude of later Palest. names of places, such as כּפר נחוּם, are connected. Ewald, indeed, understands kephārim as at Sol 4:13 : we will lodge among the fragrant Al-henna bushes. But yet בּכּף cannot be equivalent to תּחת הכפרים; and since לין (probably changed from ליל) and השׁכים, Sol 7:13, stand together, we must suppose that they wished to find a bed in the henna bushes; which, if it were conceivable, would be too gipsy-like, even for a pair of lovers of the rank of shepherds (vid., Job 30:7). No. Shulamith's words express a wish for a journey into the country: they will there be in freedom, and at night find shelter (בכף, as 1Ch 27:25 and Neh 6:2, where also the plur. is similarly used), now in this and now in that country place. Spoken to the supposed shepherd, that would be comical, for a shepherd does not wander from village to village; and that, returning to their home, they wished to turn aside into villages and spend the night there, cannot at all be the meaning. But spoken of a shepherdess, or rather a vine-dresser, who has been raised to the rank of queen, it accords with her relation to Solomon, - they are married, - as well as with the inexpressible impulse of her heart after her earlier homely country-life. The former vine-dresser, the child of the Galilean hills, the lily of the valley, speaks in the verses following.
Verses 12-13 edit
Sol 7:12-13 12 In the morning we will start for the vineyards, See whether the vine is in bloom, Whether the vine-blossoms have opened, The pomegranates budded - There will I give thee my love. 13 The mandrakes breathe a pleasant odour, And over our doors are all kinds of excellent fruits, New, also old, Which, my beloved, I have kept for thee.
As the rising up early follows the tarrying over night, the description of that which is longed for moves forward. As השׁכּים is denom. of שׁכם, and properly signifies only to shoulder, i.e., to rise, make oneself ready, when early going forth needs to be designated it has generally בּבּקר (cf. Jos 6:15) along with it; yet this word may also be wanting, 1Sa 9:26; 1Sa 17:16. נשׁךּ לכּר = נשׁב ונלך לבר, an abbreviation of the expression which is also found in hist. prose, Gen 19:27; cf. 2Ki 19:9. They wished in the morning, when the life of nature can best be observed, and its growth and progress and striving upwards best contemplated, to see whether the vine had opened, i.e., unfolded (thus, Sol 6:11), whether the vine-blossom (vid., at Sol 2:13) had expanded (lxx ἤνθησεν ὁ κυπρισμός), whether the pomegranate had its flowers or flower-buds (הנצוּ, as at Sol 6:11); פּתּח is here, as at Isa 48:8; Isa 60:11, used as internally transitive: to accomplish or to undergo the opening, as also (Arab.) fattaḥ is used of the blooming of flowers, for (Arab.) tafttaḥ (to unfold). The vineyards, inasmuch as she does not say כּרמינוּ, are not alone those of her family, but generally those of her home, but of her home; for these are the object of her desire, which in this pleasant journey with her beloved she at once in imagination reaches, flying, as it were, over the intermediate space. There, in undisturbed quietness, and in a lovely region consecrating love, will she give herself to him in the entire fulness of her love. By דּדי she means the evidences of her love (vid., under Sol 4:10; Sol 1:2), which she will there grant to him as thankful responses to his own. Thus she speaks in the spring-time, in the month Ijjar, corresponding to our Wonnemond (pleasure-month, May), and seeks to give emphasis to her promise by this, that she directs him to the fragrant “mandragoras,” and to the precious fruits of all kinds which she has kept for him on the shelf in her native home. דּוּדי (after the form לוּלי), love's flower, is the mandragora officinalis, L., with whitish green flowers and yellow apples of the size of nutmegs, belonging to the Solanaceae; its fruits and roots are used as an aphrodisiac, therefore this plant was called by the Arabs abd al-sal'm, the servant of love, postillon d'amour; the son of Leah found such mandrakes (lxx Gen 30:14, μῆλα μανδραγορῶν) at the time of the vintage, which falls in the month of Ijjar; they have a strong but pleasant odour. In Jerusalem mandrakes are rare; but so much the more abundantly are they found growing wild in Galilee, whither Shulamith is transported in spirit. Regarding the מגדים (from מגד, occurring in the sing. exclusively in the blessing of Moses, Deut 33), ), which in the Old Testament is peculiar to the Song, vid., Sol 4:13, Sol 4:16. From “over our doors,” down to “I have kept for thee,” is, according to the lxx, Syr., Jerome, and others, one sentence, which in itself is not inadmissible; for the object can precede its verb, Sol 3:3, and can stand as the subject between the place mentioned and the verb, Isa 32:13, also as the object, 2Ch 31:6, which, as in the passage before us, may be interpunctuated with Athnach for the sake of emphasis; in the bibl. Chald. this inverted sequence of the words is natural, e.g., Dan 2:17. But such a long-winded sentence is at least not in the style of the Song, and one does not rightly see why just “over our doors” has the first place in it. I therefore formerly translated it as did Luther, dividing it into parts: “and over our doors are all kinds of precious fruits; I have,” etc. But with this departure from the traditional division of the verse nothing is gained; for the “keeping” (laying up) refers naturally to the fruits of the preceding year, and in the first instance can by no means refer to fruits of this year, especially as Shulamith, according to the structure of the poem, has not visited her parental home since her home-bringing in marriage, and now for the first time, in the early summer, between the barley harvest and the wheat harvest, is carried away thither in her longing. Therefore the expression, “my beloved, I have kept for thee,” is to be taken by itself, but not as an independent sentence (Böttch.), but is to be rendered, with Ewald, as a relative clause; and this, with Hitz., is to be referred to ישׁנים (old). Col refers to the many sorts of precious fruits which, after the time of their ingathering, are divided into “new and old” (Mat 13:52). The plur. “our doors,” which as amplif. poet. would not be appropriate here, supposes several entrances into her parents' home; and since “I have kept” refers to a particular preserving of choice fruits, al does not (Hitzig) refer to a floor, such as the floor above the family dwelling or above the barn, but to the shelf above the inner doors, a board placed over them, on which certain things are wont to be laid past for some particular object. She speaks to the king like a child; for although highly elevated, she yet remains, without self-elation, a child.
Chap. 8 edit
Verses 1-2 edit
If Solomon now complies with her request, yields to her invitation, then she will again see her parental home, where, in the days of her first love, she laid up for him that which was most precious, that she might thereby give him joy. Since she thus places herself with her whole soul back again in her home and amid its associations, the wish expressed in these words that follow rises up within her in the childlike purity of her love: 1 O that thou wert like a brother to me, Who sucked my mother's breasts! If I found thee without, I would kiss thee; They also could not despise me. 2 I would lead thee, bring thee into my mother's house; Thou wouldest instruct me - I would give thee to drink spiced wine, The must of my pomegranates.
Solomon is not her brother, who, with her, hung upon the same mother's breast; but she wishes, carried away in her dream into the reality of that she wished for, that she had him as her brother, or rather, since she says, not אח, but כּאח (with כּ, which here has not, as at Psa 35:14, the meaning of tanquam, but of instar, as at Job 24:14), that she had in him what a brother is to a sister. In that case, if she found him without, she would kiss him (hypoth. fut. in the protasis, and fut. without Vav in the apodosis, as at Job 20:24; Hos 8:12; Psa 139:18) - she could do this without putting any restraint on herself for the sake of propriety (cf. the kiss of the wanton harlot, Pro 7:13), and also (גּם) without needing to fear that they who saw it would treat it scornfully (ל בּוּז, as in the reminiscence, Pro 6:30). The close union which lies in the sisterly relationship thus appeared to her to be higher than the near connection established by the marriage relationship, and her childlike feeling deceived her not: the sisterly relationship is certainly purer, firmer, more enduring than that of marriage, so far as this does not deepen itself into an equality with the sisterly, and attain to friendship, yea, brotherhood (Pro 17:17), within. That Shulamith thus feels herself happy in the thought that Solomon was to her as a brother, shows, in a characteristic manner, that “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life,” were foreign to her. If he were her brother, she would take him by the hand, and bring him into her mother's house, and he would then, under the eye of their common mother, become her teacher, and she would become his scholar. The lxx adds, after the words “into my mother's house,” the phrase, καὶ εἰς ταμεῖον τῆς συλλαβούσης με, cf. Sol 3:4. In the same manner also the Syr., which has not read the words διδάξεις με following, which are found in some Codd. of the lxx. Regarding the word telammedēne (thou wouldest instruct me) as incongruous, Hitzig asks: What should he then teach her? He refers it to her mother: “who would teach me,” namely, from her own earlier experience, how I might do everything rightly for him. “Were the meaning,” he adds, “he should do it, then also it is she who ought to be represented as led home by him into his house, the bride by the bridegroom.” But, correctly, Jerome, the Venet., and Luther: “Thou wouldest (shouldest) instruct me;” also the Targ.: “I would conduct thee, O King Messiah, and bring Thee into the house of my sanctuary; and Thou wouldest teach me (וּתאלּף יתי) to fear God and to walk in His ways.” Not her mother, but Solomon, is in possession of the wisdom which she covets; and if he were her brother, as she wishes, then she would constrain him to devote himself to her as her teacher. The view, favoured by Leo Hebraeus (Dialog. de amore, c. III), John Pordage (Metaphysik, III 617 ff.), and Rosenmüller, and which commends itself, after the analogy of the Gîtagovinda, Boethius, and Dante, and appears also to show itself in the Syr. title of the book, “Wisdom of the Wise,” that Shulamith is wisdom personified (cf. also Sol 8:2 with Pro 9:2, and Pro 8:3; Pro 2:6 with Pro 4:8), shatters itself against this תלמדני; the fact is rather the reverse: Solomon is wisdom in person, and Shulamith is the wisdom-loving soul, - for Shulamith wishes to participate in Solomon's wisdom. What a deep view the “Thou wouldest teach me” affords into Shulamith's heart! She knew how much she yet came short of being to him all that a wife should be. But in Jerusalem the bustle of court life and the burden of his regal duties did not permit him to devote himself to her; but in her mother's house, if he were once there, he would instruct her, and she would requite him with her spiced wine and with the juice of the pomegranates. הרקח יין, vinum conditura, is appos. = genitiv. יין הרקח, vinum conditurae (ἀρωματίτης in Dioscorides and Pliny), like יין תּר, Psa 6:5, לחץ מים 1Ki 22:27, etc., vid., Philippi's Stat. Const. p. 86. אשׁקך carries forward אשּׁקך in a beautiful play upon words. עסיס designates the juice as pressed out: the Chald. עסּי corresponds to the Heb. דּרך, used of treading the grapes. It is unnecessary to render רמּני as apoc. plur., like מנּי, Psa 45:9 (Ewald, §177a); rimmoni is the name she gives to the pomegranate trees belonging to her, - for it is true that this word, rimmon, can be used in a collective sense (Deu 8:8); but the connection with the possessive suff. excludes this; or by 'asis rimmoni she means the pomegranate must (cf. ῥοΐ́της = vinum e punicis, in Dioscorides and Pliny) belonging to her. Pomegranates are not to be thought of as an erotic symbol; they are named as something beautiful and precious. “O Ali,” says a proverb of Sunna, “eat eagerly only pomegranates (Pers. anâr), for their grains are from Paradise.”
Verses 3-4 edit
Resigning herself now dreamily to the idea that Solomon is her brother, whom she may freely and openly kiss, and her teacher besides, with whom she may sit in confidential intercourse under her mother's eye, she feels herself as if closely embraced by him, and calls from a distance to the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb this her happy enjoyment: 3 His left hand is under my head, And his right doth embrace me: 4 I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem, That ye awake not and disturb not love Till she please!
Instead of תּהת ל, “underneath,” there is here, as usual, תּהת (cf. Sol 8:5). Instead of אם ... ואם in the adjuration, there is here the equivalent מה ... ומה; the interrogative מה, which in the Arab. ma becomes negat., appears here, as at Job 31:1, on the way toward this change of meaning. The per capreas vel per cervas agri is wanting, perhaps because the natural side of love is here broken, and the ἔρως strives up into ἀγάπη. The daughters of Jerusalem must not break in upon this holy love-festival, but leave it to its own course.
Verse 5 edit
Sol 8:5 5a Who is this coming up out of the wilderness, Leaning on her beloved?
The third Acts; Sol 3:6, began with a similar question to that with which the sixth here commences. The former closed the description of the growth of the love-relation, the latter closes that of the consummated love-relation. Instead of “out of the wilderness,” the lxx has “clothed in white” (λελευκανθισμένη); the translator has gathered mit|chauweret from the illegible consonants of his MS before him. On the contrary, he translates מתחוּרת correctly by ἐπιστηριζομένη (Symm. ἐπερειδομένη, Venet. κεκμηκυῖα ἐπί, wearily supporting herself on ...), while Jerome renders it unsuitably by deliciis affluens, interchanging the word with מתפּנּקת. But התרפּק, common to the Heb. with the Arab. and Aethiop., signifies to support oneself, from רפק, sublevare (French, soulager), Arab. rafaḳa, rafuḳa, to be helpful, serviceable, compliant, irtafaḳa, to support oneself on the elbow, or (with the elbow) on a pillow (cf. rafîk, fellow-traveller, rufḳa, a company of fellow-travellers, from the primary idea of mutually supporting or being helpful to each other); Aethiop. rafaḳa, to encamp for the purpose of taking food, ἀνακλίνεσθαι (cf. Joh 13:23). That Shulamith leant on her beloved, arose not merely from her weariness, with the view of supplementing her own weakness from his fulness of strength, but also from the ardour of the love which gives to the happy and proud Solomon, raised above all fears, the feeling of his having her in absolute possession. The road brings the loving couple near to the apple tree over against Shulamith's parental home, which had been the witness of the beginning of their love. 5b Under the apple tree I waked thy love: There thy mother travailed with thee; There travailed she that bare thee.
The words, “under the apple tree I waked thee,” עוררתּיך, might be regarded as those of Shulamith to Solomon: here, under this apple tree, where Solomon met with her, she won his first love; for the words cannot mean that she wakened him from sleep under the apple tree, since עורר has nowhere the meaning of הקיץ and העיר here given to it by Hitzig, but only that of “to stir, to stir up, to arouse;” and only when sleep or a sleepy condition is the subject, does it mean “to shake out of sleep, to rouse up” (vid., under Sol 2:7). But it is impossible that “there” can be used by Shulamith even in the sense of the shepherd hypothesis; for the pair of lovers do not wander to the parental home of the lover, but of his beloved. We must then here altogether change the punctuation of the text, and throughout restore the fem. suffix forms as those originally used: עוררתּיך, חבּלתך אמּך, and ילדתך (cf. שׁו, Isa 47:10), in which we follow the example of the Syr. The allegorizing interpreters also meet only with trouble in regarding the words as those of Shulamith to Solomon. If התפיח were an emblem of the Mount of Olives, which, being wonderfully divided, gives back Israel's dead (Targ.), or an emblem of Sinai (Rashi), in both cases the words are more appropriately regarded as spoken to Shulamith than by her. Aben-Ezra correctly reads them as the words of Shulamith to Solomon, for he thinks on prayers, which are like golden apples in silver bowls; Hahn, for he understands by the apple tree, Canaan, where with sorrow his people brought him forth as their king; Hengstenberg, rising up to a remote-lying comparison, says, “the mother of the heavenly Solomon is at the same time the mother of Shulamith.” Hoelemann thinks on Sur. 19:32 f., according to which 'Isa, Miriam's son, was born under a palm tree; but he is not able to answer the question, What now is the meaning here of the apple tree as Solomon's birthplace? If it were indeed to be interpreted allegorically, then by the apple tree we would rather understand the “tree of knowledge” of Paradise, of which Aquila, followed by Jerome, with his ἐκεῖ διεφθάρη, appears to think, - a view which recently Godet approves of; there Shulamith, i.e., poor humanity, awakened the compassionate love of the heavenly Solomon, who then gave her, as a pledge of this love, the Protevangelium, and in the neighbourhood of this apple tree, i.e., on the ground and soil of humanity fallen, but yet destined to be saved, Shulamith's mother, i.e., the pre-Christian O.T. church, brought forth the Saviour from itself, who in love raised Shulamith from the depths to regal honour. But the Song of Songs does not anywhere set before us the task of extracting from it by an allegorizing process such far-fetched thoughts. If the masc. suff. is changed into the fem., we have a conversation perfectly corresponding to the situation. Solomon reminds Shulamith by that memorable apple tree of the time when he kindled within her the fire of first love; עורר elsewhere signifies energy (Psa 80:3), or passion (Pro 10:12), put into a state of violent commotion; connected with the accus. of the person, it signifies, Zec 9:13, excited in a warlike manner; here, placed in a state of pleasant excitement of love that has not yet attained its object. Of how many references to contrasted affections the reflex. התע is capable, is seen from Job 17:8; Job 31:29; why not thus also עורר?
With שׁמּה Solomon's words are continued, but not in such a way as that what follows also took place under the apple tree. For Shulamith is not the child of Beduins, who in that case might even have been born under an apple tree. Among the Beduins, a maiden accidentally born at the watering-place (menhîl), on the way (rahîl), in the dew (ṭall) or snow (thelg), is called from that circumstance Munêhil, Ruhêla, Talla, or Thelga.
The birthplace of her love is not also the birthplace of her life. As התפוח points to the apple tree to which their way led them, so שׁמה points to the end of their way, the parental home lying near by (Hitzig).
The lxx translates well: ἐκεῖ ὠδίνησέ σε ἡ μήτηρ σου, for while the Arab. ḥaḅida means concipere, and its Pi., ḥabbada, is the usual word for gravidam facere, חבּל in the passage before us certainly appears to be a denom. Pi. in the sense of “to bring forth with sorrow” (חבלי היּלדה). The lxx further translates: ἐκεῖ ὠδίνησέ σε ἡ τεκοῦσά σε, in which the σε is inserted, and is thus, as also by the Syr., Jerome, and Venet., translated, with the obliteration of the finite ילדתך, as if the reading were ילדתּך. But not merely is the name of the mother intentionally changed, it is also carried forward from the labour, eniti, to the completed act of birth.
Verses 6-7 edit
After Solomon has thus called to remembrance the commencement of their love-relation, which receives again a special consecration by the reference to Shulamith's parental home, and to her mother, Shulamith answers with a request to preserve for her this love. 6 Place me as a signet-ring on thy heart, As a signet-ring on thine arm! For strong as death is love; Inexorable as hell is jealousy: Its flames are flames of fire, A flame of Jah. 7 Mighty waters are unable to quench such love, And rivers cannot overflow it. If a man would give All the wealth of his house for love, - He would only be contemned.
The signet-ring, which is called חותם (חתם, to impress), was carried either by a string on the breast, Gen 38:18, or also, as that which is called טבּעת denotes (from טבע, to sink into), on the hand, Jer 22:24, cf. Gen 41:42; Est 3:12, but not on the arm, like a bracelet, 2Sa 1:10; and since it is certainly permissible to say “hand” for “finger,” but not “arm” for “hand,” so we may not refer “on thine arm” to the figure if the signet-ring, as if Shulamith had said, as the poet might also introduce her as saying: Make me like a signet-ring (כּחותם) on thy breast; make me like a signet-ring “on thy hand,” or “on thy right hand.” The words, “set me on thy heart,” and “(set me) on thine arm,” must thus also, without regard to “as a signet-ring,” express independent thoughts, although שׂימני is chosen (vid., Hag 2:23) instead of קחני, in view of the comparison.
Thus, with right, Hitzig finds the thought therein expressed: “Press me close to thy breast, enclose me in thine arms.” But it is the first request, and not the second, which is in the form עכל־זרועך, and not על־זרועתיך (שׁימני), which refers to embracing, since the subject is not the relation of person and thing, but of person and person. The signet-ring comes into view as a jewel, which one does not separate from himself; and the first request is to this effect, that he would bear her thus inalienably (the art. is that of the specific idea) on his heart (Exo 28:29); the meaning of the second, that he would take her thus inseparably as a signet-ring on his arm (cf. Hos 11:3 : “I have taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms”), so that she might lie always on his heart, and have him always at her side (cf. Psa 110:5): she wishes to be united and bound to him indissolubly in the affection of love and in the community of life's experience.
The reason for the double request following כּי, abstracted from the individual case, rises to the universality of the fact realized by experience, which specializes itself herein, and celebrates the praise of love; for, assigning a reason for her “set me,” she does not say, “my love,” nor “thy love,” but אהבה, “love” (as also in the address at Sol 7:7). She means love undivided, unfeigned, entire, and not transient, but enduring; thus true and genuine love, such as is real, what the word denotes, which exhausts the conception corresponding to the idea of love. קנאה, which is here parallel to “love,” is the jealousy of love asserting its possession and right of property; the reaction of love against any diminution of its possession, against any reserve in its response, the “self-vindication of angry love.”
Love is a passion, i.e., a human affection, powerful and lasting, as it comes to light in “jealousy.” Zelus, as defined by Dav. Chyträus, est affectus mixtus ex amore et ira, cum videlicet amans aliquid irascitur illi, a quo laeditur res amata, wherefore here the adjectives עזּה (strong) and קשׁה (hard, inexorable, firm, severe) are respectively assigned to “love” and “jealousy,” as at Gen 49:7 to “anger” and “wrath.” It is much more remarkable that the energy of love, which, so to say, is the life of life, is compared to the energy of death and Hades; with at least equal right ממּות and משּׁאול (might be used, for love scorns both, outlasts both, triumphs over both (Rom 8:38.; 1Co 15:54.). But the text does not speak of surpassing, but of equality; not of love and jealousy that they surpass death and Hades, but that they are equal to it. The point of comparison in both cases is to be obtained from the predicates. עז, powerful, designates the person who, being assailed, cannot be overcome (Num 13:28), and, assailing, cannot be withstood (Jdg 14:18). Death is obviously thought of as the assailer (Jer 9:20), against which nothing can hold its ground, from which nothing can escape, to whose sceptre all must finally yield (vid., Ps 49). Love is like it in this, that it also seizes upon men with irresistible force (Böttcher: “He whom Death assails must die, whom Love assails must love”); and when she has once assailed him, she rests not till she has him wholly under her power; she kills him, as it were, in regard to everything else that is not the object of his love. קשׁה, hard (opposed to רך, 2Sa 3:39), σκληρός, designates one on whom no impression is made, who will not yield (Psa 48:4; Psa 19:4), or one whom stern fate has made inwardly stubborn and obtuse (1Sa 1:15). Here the point of comparison is inflexibility; for Sheol, thought of with שׁאל, to ask (vid., under Isa 5:14), is the God-ordained messenger of wrath, who inexorably gathers in all that are on the earth, and holds them fast when once they are swallowed up by him. So the jealousy of love wholly takes possession of the beloved object not only in arrest, but also in safe keeping; she holds her possession firmly, that it cannot be taken from her (Wisd. 2:1), and burns relentlessly and inexorably against any one who does injury to her possession (Pro 6:34 f.). But when Shulamith wishes, in the words, “set me,” etc., to be bound to the heart and to the arm of Solomon, has she in the clause assigning a reason the love in view with which she loves, or that with which she is loved? Certainly not the one to the exclusion of the other; but as certainly, first of all, the love with which she wishes to fill, and believes that she does fill, her beloved. If this is so, then with “for strong as death is love,” she gives herself up to this love on the condition that it confesses itself willing to live only for her, and to be as if dead for all others; and with “inexorable as hell is jealousy,” in such a manner that she takes shelter in the jealousy of this love against the occurrence of any fit of infidelity, since she consents therein to be wholly and completely absorbed by it.
To קנאה, which proceeds from the primary idea of a red glow, there is connected the further description of this love to the sheltering and protecting power of which she gives herself up: “its flames, רשׁפיה, are flames of fire;” its sparkling is the sparkling of fire. The verb רשף signifies, in Syr. and Arab., to creep along, to make short steps; in Heb. and Chald., to sparkle, to flame, which in Samar. is referred to impetuosity. Symmachus translates, after the Samar. (which Hitzig approves of): ἁι ὁρμαὶ αὐτοῦ ὁρμαὶ πύρινοι; the Venet., after Kimchi, ἄνθρακες, for he exchanges רשׁף with the probably non.-cogn. רצפה; others render it all with words which denote the bright glancings of fire. רשׁפּי (so here, according to the Masora; on the contrary, at Psa 76:4, רשׁפּי) are effulgurations; the pred. says that these are not only of a bright shining, but of a fiery nature, which, as they proceed from fire, so also produce fire, for they set on fire and kindle.
Love, in its flashings up, is like fiery flashes of lightning; in short, it is שׁלהבתיה, which is thus to be written as one word with ה raphatum, according to the Masora; but in this form of the word יה is also the name of God, and more than a meaningless superlative strengthening of the idea. As להבה is formed from the Kal להב to flame (R. לב, to lick, like להט, R. לט, to twist), so is שׁלהבת, from the Shafel שׁלהב, to cause to flame; this active stem is frequently found, especially in the Aram., and has in the Assyr. almost wholly supplanted the Afel (vid., Schrader in Deut. Morg. Zeit. xxvi. 275). שׁלהבת is thus related primarily to להבה, as inflammatio to (Ger.) Flamme; יה thus presents itself the more naturally to be interpreted as gen. subjecti. Love of a right kind is a flame not kindled and inflamed by man (Job 20:26), but by God - the divinely-influenced free inclination of two souls to each other, and at the same time, as is now further said, Sol 8:7, Sol 8:7, a situation supporting all adversities and assaults, and a pure personal relation conditioned by nothing material. It is a fire-flame which mighty waters (רבּים, great and many, as at Hab 3:15; cf. עזּים, wild, Isa 43:16) cannot extinguish, and streams cannot overflow it (cf. Psa 69:3; Psa 124:4) or sweep it away (cf. Job 14:19; Isa 28:17). Hitzig adopts the latter signification, but the figure of the fire makes the former more natural; no heaping up of adverse circumstances can extinguish true love, as many waters extinguish elemental fire; no earthly power can suppress it by the strength of its assault, as streams drench all they sweep over in their flow - the flame of Jah is inextinguishable.
Nor can this love be bought; any attempt to buy it would be scorned and counted madness. The expressions is like Pro 6:30 f., cf. Num 22:18; 1Co 13:3. Regarding הון (from הוּן, (Arab.) han, levem esse), convenience, and that by which life is made comfortable, vid., at Pro 1:13. According to the shepherd-hypothesis, here occurs the expression of the peculiar point of the story of the intercourse between Solomon and Shulamith; she scorns the offers of Solomon; her love is not to be bought, and it already belongs to another. But of offers we read nothing beyond Song Sol 1:11, where, as in the following Sol 8:12, it is manifest that Shulamith is in reality excited in love. Hitzig also remarks under Sol 1:12 : “When the speaker says the fragrance of her nard is connected with the presence of the king, she means that only then does she smell the fragrance of nard, i.e., only his presence awakens in her heart pleasant sensations or sweet feelings.” Shulamith manifestly thus speaks, also emphasizing Sol 6:12, the spontaneousness of her relation to Solomon; but Hitzig adds: “These words, Sol 1:12, are certainly spoken by a court lady.” But the Song knows only a chorus of the “Daughters of Jerusalem” - that court lady is only a phantom, by means of which Hitzig's ingenuity seeks to prop up the shepherd-hypothesis, the weakness of which his penetration has discerned. As we understand the Song, Sol 8:7 refers to the love with which Shulamith loves, as decidedly as Sol 8:6 to the love with which she is loved. Nothing in all the world is able to separate her from loving the king; it is love to his person, not love called forth by a desire for riches which he disposes of, not even by the splendour of the position which awaited her, but free, responsive love with which she answered free love making its approach to her. The poet here represents Shulamith herself as expressing the idea of love embodied in her. That apple tree, where he awaked first love in her, is a witness of the renewal of their mutual covenant of love; and it is significant that only here, just directly here, where the idea of the whole is expressed more fully, and in a richer manner than at Sol 7:7, is God denoted by His name, and that by His name as revealed in the history of redemption. Hitzig, Ewald, Olshausen, Böttcher, expand this concluding word, for the sake of rhythmic symmetry, to שׁלהבתיה שׁלהבת יהּ its flames are flames of Jah; but a similar conclusion is found at Psa 24:6; Psa 48:7, and elsewhere. “I would almost close the book,” says Herder in his Lied der Lieder (Song of Songs), 1778, “with this divine seal. It is even as good as closed, for what follows appears only as an appended echo.” Daniel Sanders (1845) closes it with Sol 8:7, places Sol 8:12 after Sol 1:6, and cuts off Sol 1:8-11, Sol 1:13, Sol 1:14, as not original. Anthologists, like Döpke and Magnus, who treat the Song as the Fragmentists do the Pentateuch, find here their confused medley sanctioned. Umbreit also, 1820, although as for the rest recognising the Song as a compact whole, explains Sol 8:8-14 as a fragment, not belonging to the work itself. Hoelemann, however, in his Krone des Hohenliedes Crown of the Song, 1856 (thus he names the “concluding Act,” Sol 8:5-14), believes that there is here represented, not only in Sol 8:6, Sol 8:7, but further also in Sol 8:8-12, the essence of true love - what it is, and how it is won; and then in Sol 8:13 f. he hears the Song come to an end in pure idyllic tones.
We see in Sol 8:8 ff. the continuation of the love story practically idealized and set forth in dramatic figures. There is no inner necessity for this continuance. It shapes itself after that which has happened; and although in all history divine reason and moral ideas realize themselves, yet the material by means of which this is done consists of accidental circumstances and free actions passing thereby into reciprocal action. But Sol 8:8 ff. is the actual continuance of the story on to the completed conclusion, not a mere appendix, which might be wanting without anything being thereby missed. For after the poet has set before us the loving pair as they wander arm in arm through the green pasture-land between Jezreel and Sunem till they reach the environs of the parental home, which reminds them of the commencement of their love relations, he cannot represent them as there turning back, but must present to us still a glimpse of what transpired on the occasion of their visit there. After that first Act of the concluding scene, there is yet wanting a second, to which the first points.
Verse 8 edit
The locality of this scene is Shulamith's parental home. It is she herself who speaks in these words: 8 We have a sister, a little one, And she has no breasts: What shall we do with our sister In the day when she will be sued for?
Between Sol 8:8 and Sol 8:7 is a blank. The figure of the wanderers is followed by the figure of the visitors. But who speaks here? The interchange of the scene permits that Shulamith conclude the one scene and begin the other, as in the first Act; or also that at the same time with the change of scene there is an interchange of persons, as e.g., in the third Act. But if Shulamith speaks, all her words are not by any means included in what is said from Sol 8:8 to Sol 8:10. Since, without doubt, she also speaks in Sol 8:11 f., this whole second figure consists of Shulamith's words, as does also the second of the second Acts; Sol 3:1-5. But there Shulamith's address presents itself as the narrative of an experience, and the narrative dramatically framed in itself is thoroughly penetrated by the I of the speaker; but here, as e.g., Ewald, Heiligst., and Böttch. explain, she would begin with a dialogue with her brothers referable to herself, one that had formerly taken place-that little sister, Ewald remarks under Sol 8:10, stands here now grown up she took notice of that severe word formerly spoken by her brothers, and can now joyfully before all exclaim, taking up the same flowery language, that she is a wall, etc. But that a monologue should begin with a dialogue without any introduction, is an impossibility; in this case the poet ought to have left the expression, “of old my mother's sons said,” to be supplemented by the reader or hearer. It is true, at Sol 3:2; Sol 5:3, we have a former address introduced without any formal indication of the fact; but it is the address of the narrator herself. With Sol 8:8 there will thus begin a colloquy arising out of present circumstances. That in this conversation Sol 8:8 appertains to the brothers, is evident. This harsh entweder oder (aut ... aut) is not appropriate as coming from Shulamith's mouth; it is her brothers alone, as Hoelemann rightly remarks, who utter these words, as might have been expected from them in view of Sol 1:6. But does Sol 8:8 belong also to them? There may be two of them, says Hitzig, and the one may in Sol 8:9 reply to the question of the other in Sol 8:8; Shulamith, who has heard their conversation, suddenly interposes with Sol 8:10. But the transition from the first to the second scene is more easily explained if Shulamith proposes the question of Sol 8:8 for consideration. This is not set aside by Hitzig's questions: “Has she to determine in regard to her sister? and has she now for the first time come to do nothing in haste?” For (1) the dramatic figures of the Song follow each other chronologically, but not without blanks; and the poet does not at all require us to regard Sol 8:8 as Shulamith's first words after her entrance into her parental home; (2) but it is altogether seeming for Shulamith, who has now become independent, and who has been raised so high, to throw out this question of loving care for her sister. Besides, from the fact that with Sol 8:8 there commences the representation of a present occurrence, it is proved that the sister here spoken of is not Shulamith herself. If it were Shulamith herself, the words of Sol 8:8, Sol 8:9 would look back to what had previously taken place, which, as we have shown, is impossible. Or does Sol 6:9 require that we should think of Shulamith as having no sister? Certainly not, for so understood, these words would be purposeless. The “only one,” then, does not mean the only one numerically, but, as at Pro 4:3, it is emphatic (Hitzig); she is called by Solomon the “only one” of her mother in this sense, that she had not one her equal.
Thus it is Shulamith who here speaks, and she is not the “sister” referred to. The words, “we have a sister ... ,” spoken in the family circle, whether regarded as uttered by Shulamith or not, have something strange in them, for one member of a family does not need thus to speak to another. We expect: With regard to our sister, who is as yet little and not of full age, the question arises, What will be done when she has grown to maturity to guard her innocence? Thus the expression would have stood, but the poet separates it into little symmetrical sentences; for poetry present facts in a different style from prose. Hoelem. has on this remarked that the words are not to be translated: we have a little sister, which the order of the words וגו אחות ק would presuppose, Gen 40:20; cf. 2Sa 4:4; 2Sa 12:2 f.; Isa 26:1; Isa 33:21. “Little” is not immediately connected with “sister,” but follows it as an apposition; and this appositional description lays the ground for the question: We may be now without concern; but when she is grown up and will be courted, what then? “Little” refers to age, as at 2Ki 5:2; cf. Gen 44:20. The description of the child in the words, “she has no breasts,” has neither in itself nor particularly for Oriental feeling anything indecent in it (cf. mammae sororiarunt, Eze 16:7). The ל following מה־נּעשׂה is here not thus purely the dat. commodi, as e.g., Isa 64:3 (to act for some one), but indiff. dat. (what shall we do for her?); but מה is, according to the connection, as at Gen 27:37; 1Sa 10:2; Isa 5:4, equivalent to: What conducing to her advantage? Instead of בּיּום, the form בּיום lay syntactically nearer (cf. Exo 6:28); the art. in בּיּום is, as at Ecc 12:3, understood demonst.: that day when she will be spoken for, i.e., will attract the attention of a suitor. בּ after דּבּר may have manifold significations (vid., under Psa 87:3); thus the general signification of “concerning,” 1Sa 19:3, is modified in the sense of courting a wife, 1Sa 25:39. The brothers now take speech in hand, and answer Shulamith's question as to what will have to be done for the future safety of their little sister when the time comes that she shall be sought for:
Verse 9 edit
Sol 8:9 9 If she be a wall, We will build upon her a pinnacle of silver; And if she be a door, We will block her up with a board of cedar-wood.
The brothers are the nearest guardians and counsellors of the sister, and, particularly in the matter of marriage, have the precedence even of the father and mother, Gen 24:50, Gen 24:55; Gen 34:6-8.. They suppose two cases which stand in contrast to each other, and announce their purpose with reference to each case. Hoelem. here affects a synonymous instead of the antithetic parallelism; for he maintains that אם (ואם) ... אם nowhere denotes a contrast, but, like sive ... sive, essential indifference. But examples such as Deu 18:3 (sive bovem, sive ovem) are not applicable here; for this correl. אם ... אם, denoting essential equality, never begins the antecedents of two principal sentences, but always stands in the component parts of one principal sentence. Wherever ואם ... אם commences two parallel conditional clauses, the parallelism is always, according to the contents of these clauses, either synonymous, Gen 31:50; Amo 9:2-4; Ecc 11:3 (where the first ואם signifies ac si, and the second sive), or antithetic, Num 16:29 f.; Job 36:11 f.; Isa 1:19 f. The contrast between חומה (from חמה, Arab. ḥaman, Modern Syr. chamo, to preserve, protect) and דּלת (from דּלל, to hang loose, of doors, Pro 26:14, which move hither and thither on their hinges) is obvious. A wall stands firm and withstands every assault if it serves its purpose (which is here presupposed, where it is used as a figure of firmness of character). A door, on the contrary, is moveable; and though it be for the present closed (דלת is intentionally used, and not פּתח, vid., Gen 19:6), yet it is so formed that it can be opened again. A maiden inaccessible to seduction is like a wall, and one accessible to it is like a door. In the apodosis, Sol 8:9, the lxx correctly renders טירת by ἐπάλξεις; Jerome, by propugnacula. But it is not necessary to read טירת. The verb טור, cogn. דור, signifies to surround, whence tirah (= Arab. duâr), a round encampment, Gen 25:16, and, generally, a habitation, Psa 69:25; and then also, to range together, whence תּוּר, a rank, row (cf. Arab. thur and daur, which, in the manifoldness of their meanings, are parallel with the French tour), or also tirah, which, Eze 46:23 (vid., Keil), denotes the row or layer of masonry, - in the passage before us, a row of battlements (Ew.), or a crown of the wall (Hitz.), i.e., battlements as a wreath on the summit of a wall. Is she a wall, - i.e., does she firmly and successfully withstand all immoral approaches? - then they will adorn this wall with silver pinnacles (cf. Isa 54:12), i.e., will bestow upon her the high honour which is due to her maidenly purity and firmness; silver is the symbol of holiness, as gold is the symbol of nobility. In the apodosis 9b, על צוּר is not otherwise meant than when used in a military sense of enclosing by means of besieging, but, like Isa 29:3, with the obj.-accus., of that which is pressed against that which is to be excluded; צור here means, forcibly to press against, as סגר, Gen 2:21, to unite by closing up. ארז לוּח is a board or plank (cf. Eze 27:5, of the double planks of a ship's side) of cedar wood (cf. Zep 2:14, ארזה, cedar wainscot). Cedar wood comes here into view not on account of the beautiful polish which it takes on, but merely because of its hardness and durability. Is she a door, i.e., accessible to seduction? They will enclose this door around with a cedar plank, i.e., watch her in such a manner that no seducer or lover will be able to approach her. By this morally stern but faithful answer, Shulamith is carried back to the period of her own maidenhood, when her brothers, with good intention, dealt severely with her. Looking back to this time, she could joyfully confess:
Verse 10 edit
Sol 8:10 10 I was a wall, And my breasts like towers; Then I became in his eyes Like one who findeth peace.
In the language of prose, the statement would be: Your conduct is good and wise, as my own example shows; of me also ye thus faithfully took care; and that I met this your solicitude with strenuous self-preservation, has become, to my joy and yours, the happiness of my life. That in this connection not אני חומה, but חומה אני has to be used, is clear: she compares herself with her sister, and the praise she takes to herself she takes to the honour of her brothers. The comparison of her breasts to towers is suggested by the comparison of her person to a wall; Kleuker rightly remarks that here the comparison is not of thing with thing, but of relation with relation: the breasts were those of her person, as the towers were of the wall, which, by virtue of the power of defence which they conceal within themselves, never permit the enemy, whose attention they attract, to approach them. The two substantival clauses, murus et ubera mea instar turrium, have not naturally a retrospective signification, as they would in a historical connection (vid., under Gen 2:10); but they become retrospective by the following “then I became,” like Deu 26:5, by the historical tense following, where, however, it is to be remarked that the expression, having in itself no relation to time, which is incapable of being expressed in German, mentions the past not in a way that excludes the present, but as including it. She was a wall, and her breasts like the towers, i.e., all seductions rebounded from her, and ventured not near her awe-inspiring attractions; then (אז, temporal, but at the same time consequent; thereupon, and for this reason, as at Psa 40:8; Jer 22:15, etc.) she became in his (Solomon's) eyes as one who findeth peace. According to the shepherd-hypothesis, she says here: he deemed it good to forbear any further attempts, and to let me remain in peace (Ewald, Hitz., and others). But how is that possible? מצא שׁלום בעיני is a variation of the frequently occurring מצא חן בעיני, which is used especially of a woman gaining the affections of a man, Est 2:17; Deu 24:1; Jer 31:2 f.; and the expression here used, “thus I was in his eyes as one who findeth peace” is only the more circumstantial expression for, “then I found (אז מצאתי) in his eyes peace,” which doubtless means more than: I brought it to this, that he left me further unmolested; שׁלום in this case, as syn. of חן, means inward agreement, confidence, friendship, as at Psa 41:10; there it means, as in the salutation of peace and in a hundred other cases, a positive good. And why should she use שׁלום instead of חן, but that she might form a play upon the name which she immediately, Sol 8:11, thereafter utters, שׁלמה, which signifies, 1Ch 22:9, “The man of peace.” That Shulamith had found shalom (peace) with Shelomoh (Solomon), cannot be intended to mean that uninjured she escaped from him, but that she had entered into a relation to him which seemed to her a state of blessed peace. The delicate description, “in his eyes,” is designed to indicate that she appeared to him in the time of her youthful discipline as one finding peace. The כ is כ veritatis, i.e., the comparison of the fact with its idea, Isa 29:2, or of the individual with the general and common, Isa 13:6; Eze 26:10; Zec 14:3. Here the meaning is, that Shulamith appeared to him corresponding to the idea of one finding peace, and thus as worthy to find peace with him. One “finding peace” is one who gains the heart of a man, so that he enters into a relation of esteem and affection for her. This generalization of the idea also opposes the notion of a history of seduction. מוחאת is from the ground-form matsiat, the parallel form to מוצאת, 2Sa 18:22. Solomon has won her, not by persuasion or violence; but because she could be no other man's, he entered with her into the marriage covenant of peace (cf. Pro 2:17 with Isa 54:10).
Verses 11-12 edit
It now lies near, at least rather so than remote, that Shulamith, thinking of her brothers, presents her request before her royal husband: 11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal-hamon; He committed the vineyard to the keepers, That each should bring for its fruit A thousand in silv. 12 I myself disposed of my own vineyard: The thousand is thine, Solomon, And two hundred for the keepers of its fruit!
The words לשׁ היה כּרם are to be translated after כרמוגו, 1Ki 21:1, and לידידי ... , Isa 5:1, “Solomon had a vineyard” (cf. 1Sa 9:2; 2Sa 6:23; 2Sa 12:2; 2Ki 1:17; 1Ch 23:17; 1Ch 26:10), not “Solomon has a vineyard,” which would have required the words לשׁ כרם, with the omission of היה. I formerly explained, as also Böttcher: a vineyard became his, thus at present is his possession; and thus explaining, one could suppose that it fell to him, on his taking possession of his government, as a component part of his domain; but although in itself לו היה can mean, “this or that has become one's own” (e.g., Lev 21:3), as well as “it became his own,” yet here the historical sense is necessarily connected by היה with the נתן foll.: Solomon has had ... , he has given; and since Solomon, after possession the vineyard, would probably also preserve it, Hitzig draws from this the conclusion, that the poet thereby betrays the fact that he lived after the time of Solomon. But these are certainly words which he puts into Shulamith's mouth, and he cannot at least have forgotten that the heroine of his drama is a contemporary of Solomon; and supposing that he had forgotten this for a moment, he must have at least once read over what he had written, and could not have been so blind as to have allowed this היה which had escaped him to stand. We must thus assume that he did not in reality retain the vineyard, which, as Hitzig supposes, if he possessed it, he also “probably” retained, whether he gave it away or exchanged it, or sold it, we know not; but the poet might suppose that Shulamith knew it, since it refers to a piece of land lying not far from her home. For המון בּעל, lxx Βεελαμών, is certainly the same as that mentioned in Judith 8:3, according to which Judith's husband died from sunstroke in Bethulia, and was buried beside his fathers “between Dothaim and Balamoon” (probably, as the sound of the word denotes, Belmen, or, more accurately, Belmaïn, as it is also called in Judith 4:4, with which Kleuker in Schenkel's Bibl. Lex., de Bruyn in his Karte, and others, interchange it; and חמּון, Jos 19:28, lying in the tribe of Asher). This Balamoon lay not far from Dothan, and thus not far from Esdräelon; for Dothan lay (cf. Judith 3:10) south of the plain of Jezreel, where it has been discovered, under the name of Tell Dotan, in the midst of a smaller plain which lies embosomed in the hills of the south.
The ancients, since Aquila, Symm., Targ., Syr., and Jerome, make the name of the place Baal-hamon subservient to their allegorizing interpretation, but only by the aid of soap-bubble-like fancies; e.g., Hengst. makes Baal-hamon designate the world; nothrim [keepers], the nations; the 1000 pieces in silver, the duties comprehended in the ten commandments. Hamon is there understood of a large, noisy crowd. The place may, indeed, have its name from the multitude of its inhabitants, or from an annual market held there, or otherwise from revelry and riot; for, according to Hitzig, there is no ground for co-ordinating it with names such as Baal-gad and Baal-zephon, in which Baal is the general, and what follows the special name of God. Amon, the Sun-God, specially worshipped in Egyptian Thebes, has the bibl. name אמון, with which, after the sound of the word, accords the name of a place lying, according to Jer. Demaï ii. 1, in the region of Tyrus, but no אמון. The reference to the Egypt. Amon Ra, which would direct rather to Baalbec, the Coele-Syrian Heliupolis, is improbable; because the poet would certainly not have introduced into his poem the name of the place where the vineyard lay, if this name did not call forth an idea corresponding to the connection. The Shulamitess, now become Solomon's, in order to support the request she makes to the king, relates an incident of no historical value in itself of the near-lying Sunem (Sulem), situated not far from Baal-hamon to the north, on the farther side of the plain of Jezreel. She belongs to a family whose inheritance consisted in vineyards, and she herself had acted in the capacity of the keeper of a vineyard, Sol 1:6, - so much the less therefore is it to be wondered at that she takes an interest in the vineyard of Baal-hamon, which Solomon had let out to keepers on the condition that they should pay to him for its fruit-harvest the sum of 1000 shekels of silver (shekel is, according to Ges. §120. 4, Anm. 2, to be supplied). יבא, since we have interpreted היה retrospectively, might also indeed be rendered imperfect. as equivalent to afferebat, or, according to Ewald, §136c, afferre solebat; but since נתן = ἐξέδοτο, Mat 21:33, denotes a gift laying the recipients under an obligation, יבא is used in the sense of יבא (אשׁר) למען; however, למען is not to be supplied (Symm. ἐνέγκη), but יבא in itself signifies afferre debebat (he ought to bring), like יע, Dan 1:5, they should stand (wait upon), Ewald, §136g. Certainly נארים does not mean tenants, but watchers, - the post-bibl. language has חכר, to lease, קבּל, to take on lease, chikuwr, rent, e.g., Mezîa ix. 2, - but the subject here is a locatio conductio; for the vine-plants of that region are entrusted to the “keepers” for a rent, which they have to pay, not in fruits but in money, as the equivalent of a share of the produce (the ב in בּפר is the ב pretii). Isa 7:23 is usually compared; but there the money value of a particularly valuable portion of a vineyard, consisting of 1000 vines, is given at “1000 silverlings” (1 shekel); while, on the other hand, the 1000 shekels here are the rent for a portion of a vineyard, the extent of which is not mentioned. But that passage in Isaiah contains something explanatory of the one before us, inasmuch as we see from it that a vineyard was divided into portions of a definite number of vines in each. Such a division into mekomoth is also here supposed. For if each “keeper” to whom the vineyard was entrusted had to count 1000 shekels for its produce, then the vineyard was at the same time committed to several keepers, and thus was divided into small sections (Hitzig). It is self-evident that the gain of the produce that remained over after paying the rent fell to the “keepers;” but since the produce varied, and also the price of wine, this gain was not the same every year, and only in general are we to suppose from Sol 8:12, that it yielded on an average about 20 per cent. For the vineyard which Shulamith means in Sol 8:12 is altogether different from that of Baal-hamon. It is of herself she says, Sol 1:6, that as the keeper of a vineyard, exposed to the heat of the day, she was not in a position to take care of her own vineyard. This her own vineyard is not her beloved (Hoelem.), which not only does not harmonize with Sol 1:6 (for she there looks back to the time prior to her elevation), but her own person, as comprehending everything pleasant and lovely which constitutes her personality (4:12-5:1), as îøê is the sum-total of the vines which together form a vineyard.
Of this figurative vineyard she says: לפני שׁלּי כּרמי. This must mean, according to Hitzig, Hoelem., and others, that it was under her protection; but although the idea of affectionate care may, in certain circumstances, be connected with לפני, Gen 17:18; Pro 4:3, yet the phrase: this or that is לפני, wherever it has not merely a local or temporal, but an ethical signification, can mean nothing else than: it stands under my direction, Gen 13:9; Gen 20:15; Gen 47:6; 2Ch 14:6; Gen 24:51; 1Sa 16:16. Rightly Heiligst., after Ewald: in potestate mea est. Shulamith also has a vineyard, which she is as free to dispose of as Solomon of his at Baal-hamon. It is the totality of her personal and mental endowments. This vineyard has been given over with free and joyful cordiality into Solomon's possession. This vineyard also has keepers (one here sees with what intention the poet has chosen in Sol 8:11 just that word נארים) - to whom Shulamith herself and to whom Solomon also owes it that as a chaste and virtuous maiden she became his possession. These are her brothers, the true keepers and protectors of her innocence. Must these be unrewarded? The full thousands, she says, turning to the king, which like the annual produce of the vineyard of Baal-hamon will thus also be the fruit of my own personal worth, shall belong to none else, O Solomon, than to thee, and two hundred to the keepers of its fruit! If the keepers in Baal-hamon do not unrewarded watch the vineyard, so the king owes thanks to those who so faithfully guarded his Shulamith. The poetry would be reduced to prose if there were found in Shulamith's words a hint that the king should reward her brothers with a gratification of 200 shekels. She makes the case of the vineyard in Baal-hamon a parable of her relation to Solomon on the one hand, and of her relation to her brothers on the other. From מאתים, one may conclude that there were two brothers, thus that the rendering of thanks is thought of as מעשׂר (a tenth part); but so that the 200 are meant not as a tax on the thousand, but as a reward for the faithful rendering up of the thousand.
Verse 13 edit
The king who seems to this point to have silently looked on in inmost sympathy, now, on being addressed by Shulamith, takes speech in hand; he does not expressly refer to her request, but one perceives from his words that he heard it with pleasure. He expresses to her the wish that she would gratify the companions of her youth who were assembled around her, as well as himself, with a song, such as in former times she was wont to sing in these mountains and valleys. 13 O thou (who art) at home in the gardens, Companions are listening for thy voice; Let me hear!
We observe that in the rural paradise with which she is surrounded, she finds herself in her element. It is a primary feature of her character which herein comes to view: her longing after quietness and peace, her love for collectedness of mind and for contemplation; her delight in thoughts of the Creator suggested by the vegetable world, and particularly by the manifold soft beauty of flowers; she is again once more in the gardens of her home, but the address, “O thou at home in the gardens!” denotes that wherever she is, these gardens are her home as a fundamental feature of her nature. The חברים are not Solomon's companions, for she has come hither with Solomon alone, leaning on his arm. Also it is indicated in the expression: “are listening for thy voice,” that they are such as have not for a long time heard the dear voice which was wont to cheer their hearts. The חבר are the companions of the former shepherdess and keeper of a vineyard, Sol 1:6 f., the playmates of her youth, the friends of her home. With a fine tact the poet does not represent Solomon as saying חבריך nor חברינוּ: the former would be contrary to the closeness of his relation to Shulamith, the latter contrary to the dignity of the king. By חברים there is neither expressed a one-sided reference, nor is a double-sided excluded. That “for thy voice” refers not to her voice as speaking, but as the old good friends wish, as singing, is evident from השׁמיעני in connection with Sol 2:14, where also קולך is to be supplied, and the voice of song is meant. She complies with the request, and thus begins:
Verse 14 edit
Sol 8:14 14 Flee, my beloved, And be thou like a gazelle, Or a young one of the harts, Upon spicy mountains.
Hitzig supposes that with these words of refusal she bids him away from her, without, however, as “my beloved” shows, meaning them in a bad sense. They would thus, as Renan says, be bantering coquetry. If it is Solomon who makes the request, and thus also he who is addressed here, not the imaginary shepherd violently introduced into this closing scene in spite of the words “(the thousand) is thine, Solomon” (Sol 8:12), then Shulamith's ignoring of his request is scornful, for it would be as unseemly if she sang of her own accord to please her friends, as it would be wilful if she kept silent when requested by her royal husband. So far the Spanish author, Soto Major, is right (1599): jussa et rogata id non debuit nec potuit recusare. Thus with “flee” she begins a song which she sings, as at Sol 2:15 she commences one, in response to a similar request, with “catch us.” Hoelem. finds in her present happiness, which fills her more than ever, the thought here expressed that her beloved, if he again went from her for a moment, would yet very speedily return to his longing, waiting bride.
But apart from the circumstance that Shulamith is no longer a bride, but is married, and that the wedding festival is long past, there is not a syllable of that thought in the text; the words must at least have been אלי בּרח, if ברח signified generally to hasten hither, and not to hasten forth. Thus, at least as little as סב, Sol 2:17, without אלי, signifies “turn thyself hither,” can this בּרח mean “flee hither.” The words of the song thus invite Solomon to disport himself, i.e., give way to frolicsome and aimless mirth on these spicy mountains. As sov lecha is enlarged to sov demeh-lecha, Sol 2:17, for the sake of the added figures (vid., under Sol 2:9), so here berahh-lecha (Gen 27:43) is enlarged to berahh udemeh (udǎmeh) lecha. That “mountains of spices” occurs here instead of “cleft mountains,” Sol 2:17, has its reason, as has already been there remarked, and as Hitzig, Hoelem., and others have discovered, in the aim of the poet to conclude the pleasant song of love that has reached perfection and refinement with an absolutely pleasant word.
But with what intention does he call on Shulamith to sing to her beloved this בּרח, which obviously has here not the meaning of escaping away (according to the fundamental meaning, transversum currere), but only, as where it is used of fleeting time, Job 9:25; Job 14:2, the sense of hastening? One might suppose that she whom he has addressed as at home in gardens replied to his request with the invitation to hasten forth among the mountains, - an exercise which gives pleasure to a man. But (1) Solomon, according to Sol 2:16; Sol 6:2 f., is also fond of gardens and flowers; and (2) if he took pleasure in ascending mountains, it doubled his joy, according to Sol 4:8, to share this joy with Shulamith; and (3) we ask, would this closing scene, and along with it the entire series of dramatic pictures, find a satisfactory conclusion, if either Solomon remained and gave no response to Shulamith's call, or if he, as directed, disappeared alone, and left Shulamith by herself among the men who surrounded her? Neither of these two things can have been intended by the poet, who shows himself elsewhere a master in the art of composition. In Sol 2:17 the matter lies otherwise. There the love-relation is as yet in progress, and the abandonment of love to uninterrupted fellowship places a limit to itself. Now, however, Shulamith is married, and the summons is unlimited. It reconciles itself neither with the strength of her love nor with the tenderness of the relation, that she should with so cheerful a spirit give occasion to her husband to leave her alone for an indefinite time. We will thus have to suppose that, when Shulamith sings the song, “Flee, my beloved,” she goes forth leaning on Solomon's arm out into the country, or that she presumes that he will not make this flight into the mountains of her native home without her. With this song breaking forth in the joy of love and of life, the poet represents the loving couple as disappearing over the flowery hills, and at the same time the sweet charm of the Song of Songs, leaping gazelle-like from one fragrant scene to another, vanishes away.
- Note: The Song. was read on the 8th day of the Passover; Ruth, on the second Shabuoth Pentecost; Lamentations, on the 9th Ab; Ecclesiastes, on the 3rd Succoth Tabernacles; Esther, between the 11th and 16th Adar feast of Purim.
- Note: Vid., Fernbacher's Die Reden des. h. Bernhard über das Hohelied, prefaced by Delitzsch. Leipzig 1862.
- Note: Vid., Hammer-Purgstall's Das hohe Lied der Liebe der Araber, 1854.
- Note: Das Hohelied undersucht u. ausg. Leipzig 1851.
- Note: Cf. Tosefta Sanhedrin xii., Sanhedrin iii.a, and the commencement of the tract Kalla.
- Note: Vid., Jahrg. i. No. 22-24 of the Berne Kirchenfreund.
- Note: And in this Godet stands not alone. The Jewish interpreter Malbim (1850) accepts also this seduction-history: Solomon = the sensual impulse; Shulamith = the spirit-soul; the little sister = the natural soul; and Shulamith's beloved = the heavenly Friend, the Shepherd of the universe.
- Note: Literaturb. der Darmst. Kirchenzeitung, 1851, pp. 114-146, and 1854, No. 11.
- Note: “Shulamith,” says E. F. Friedrich (1855 and 1866), “is the oldest theatrical piece in existence.” Ewald and Böttcher, who find not fewer than twelve persons mentioned in it, think that it was represented on an actual stage. Then, indeed, it would be the oldest drama - older than Thespis and Kalîdasa. For the Sakuntâla and the drama Der Kaufmann und die Bajadere belong to the first century of our era.
- Note: Vid., my Prolegomena to Luzzatto's מגדל עז (Heb. Paraphrase of the Pastors fido of Guarini), 1837, pp. 24-32.
- Note: Similar is the relation between Homer, where the speakers are introduced with narrative, and our national epics, the Nibelungen and Gudrun, which become dramatic when the action and the feeling rise to a higher elevation: the words of the different persons follow each other without introduction, so that here the manner of the singer had to become dramatic.
- Note: Vid., Repert. für bibl. u. morgenl. Lit. viii. (1781), p. 180. The Archimandrite Porphyrios describes such a MS in his (Russian) Reisewerk (1856).
- Note: Ephr. Epstein, surgeon in Cincinnati, in a review of Von Grätz' Comm. in The Israelite (1872), calls the Song quite in our sense, “a dramatic poem, though not a complete scenic drama.” But the bridal procession in the third act is not of this character - he sees in it a return from a hunting expedition.
- Note: So also, on linguistic grounds, Ant. Theod. Hartmann in Winer's Zeitschr. 1829.
- Note: Epstein, in true American style, calls him “the bogus shepherd.”
- Note: Vid.Gesch. der jud. Poesie, p. 205ff. Not as Joh. Gott. Lessing (Eclogae regis Salomonis, 1777), the brother of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, supposes: through the lxx translation; for the Song was among the books latest in being translated.
- Note: Vid., for the explanation of this, my essay, “Das Hohelied verunreinigt die Hände,” in the Luth. Zeitsch. 1854. The Tôra and the Theruma-food, as being both reckoned holy, were usually placed together in the temple. It was discovered that the sacred books were thereby exposed to damage by mice; and hence, to prevent their being brought any longer into contact with the Theruma, the Rabbins decided that they were henceforth to be regarded as unclean, and they gave forth the decree, “All Holy Scriptures pollute the hand.” This decree was applicable only to holy or inspired books. Vid., Ginsburg on the Song, p. 3, note.
- Vid., Fürst's Der Kanon des A. T. (1868), p. 86.
- From this it is supposed that asher is a pronom. root-cluster equivalent to אשׁל. Fleischer, on the contrary, sees in asher an original substantive athar = (Arab.) ithr, Assyr. asar, track, place, as when the vulgar expression is used, “The man where (wo instead of welcher) has said.”
- We do not take into view here Gen 6:3. If בּשׁגם is then to be read, then there is in it the pronominal שׁ, as in the old proper name Mishael (who is what God is?).
- Vid., my Handsch. Funde, Heft 2 (1862).
- Yet it is a question whether דד, to love, and דד, the breast (Arab. thady, with a verb thadiyi, to be thoroughly wet), are not after their nearest origin such words of feeling, caressing, prattling, as the Arab. dad, sport (also dadad, the only Arab. word which consists of the same three letters); cf. Fr. dada, hobby-horse.
- Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indo-german.-sem. Studien (1873), p. 99f.
- After an improbable etymology of the Arab., from saḥar, to turn, to depart, “the departure of the night” (Lane). Magic appears also to be called sihar, as nigromantia (Mediaev. from nekromantia), the black art.
- The houri (damsel of paradise) is thus called ḥawaryyt, adj. relat. from ḥawra, from the black pupil of the eye in the centre of the white eyeball.
- Vid., Wetzstein's Isaiah (1869), p. 698.
- According to the Indian idea, it is the eye of Varuna; the eye (also after Plato: ἡλιοειδέστατον τῶν περὶ τὰς αἰσθήσεις οργάνων) is regarded as taken from the sun, and when men die returning to the sun (Muir in the Asiatic Journal, 1865, p. 294, S. 309).
- Eber's Aegypten u. die B. Mose's, Bd. I pp. 221f. 226; cf. Aeg. Zeitschr. 1864, p. 26f.
- The art. denoting the idea of species in the second member of the st. const. standing in the sing. without a determining reference to the first, occurs in Sol 1:13, “a bundle of (von) myrrh;” Sol 1:14, “a cluster of (von) the cyprus-flower;” Sol 4:3, “a thread of (von) scarlet,” “a piece of pomegranate;” Sol 5:13, “a bed of balm” (but otherwise, Sol 6:2), Sol 7:9, “clusters of the vine;” Sol 7:3, “a bowl of roundness” (which has this property); Sol 7:10, “wine (of the quality) of goodness;” cf. Sol 8:2, “wine the (= of the) spicing.” It also, in cases where the defined species to which the first undefined member of the st. const. belongs, stands in the pl.: Sol 2:9, Sol 2:17; Sol 8:14, “like a young one of the hinds;” Sol 4:1; Sol 6:5, “a herd of goats;” Sol 4:2, “a flock of shorn sheep;” Sol 6:6, “a flock of lambs,” i.e., consisting of individuals of this kind. Also, when the second member states the place where a thing originates or is found, the first often remains indeterminate, as one of that which is there found, or a part of that which comes from thence: Sol 2:1, “a meadow-saffron of Sharon,” “a lily of the valleys;” Sol 3:9, “the wood of Lebanon.” The following are doubtful: Sol 4:4, “a thousand bucklers;” and Sol 7:5, “a tower of ivory;” less so Sol 7:1, “the dance of Mahanaim.” The following are examples of a different kind: Gen 16:7, “a well of water;” Deu 22:19, “a damsel of Israel;” Psa 113:9, “a mother of children;” cf. Gen 21:28.
- The nard plant grows in Northern and Eastern India; the hairy part of the stem immediately above the root yields the perfume. Vid., Lassen's Indische Alterthumskunde, I 338f., III 41f.
- In Arab. ntn = נתן, to give an odour, has the specific signification, to give an ill odour (mintin, foetidus), which led an Arab. interpreter to understand the expression, “my nard has yielded, etc.,” of the stupifying savour which compels Solomon to go away (Mittheilung, Goldziher's).
- Vid., Schlotmann in the Stud. u. Krit. (1867), p. 217.
- They came from Arabia and India; the better Arabian was adulterated with Indian myrrh.
- Vid., the literature of this subject in Defrémery's notice of Dozy-Engelmann's work in the Revue Critique, III 2 (1868), p. 408.
- Pliny, H. N. xxiv. 102, ed. Jan., notes brathy as the name of the savin-tree Juniperus sabina. Wetstein is inclined to derive the name of Beirut from ברות, as the name of the sweet pine, the tree peculiar to the Syrian landscape, and which, growing on the sandy hills, prevents the town from being filled with flying sand. The cypress is now called (Arab.) sanawbar; regarding its old names, and their signification in the figurative language of love, vid., under Isa 41:19.
- Vid., Lagarde, Onomastica, p. 296; cf. Neubauer, Géographic du Talm. p. 47.
- Vid., Ewald, Jahrbuch, IV p. 71; cf. Wüstemann, Die Rose, etc., 1854.
- Vid., Fleischer, Sitzungs-Berichten d. Sächs. Gesell. d. Wissensch. 1868, p. 305. Among the rich flora on the descent of the Hauran range, Wetstein saw (Reisebericht, p. 148) a dark-violet magnificent lily (susan) as large as his fist. We note here Rückert's “Bright lily! The flowers worship God in the garden: thou art the priest of the house.”
- An Aramaic proverb: “from thorns sprouts the rose” (i.e., bad fathers have often pious children), in Heb. is קוץ מוציא שׁושׁן; vid., Jalkut Samuel, §134.
- In Heb. יין does not denote the vine as a plant, as the Aethiop. wain, whence asada wain, wine-court = vineyard, which Ewald compares; Dillmann, however, ineptly cites “vine-arbour,” and South-Germ. “kamerte” = vinea camerata; in Heb. היין בּית is the house in which wine is drunk.
- “Ro‛b (רעב, thus in Damascus), or ra‛b (thus in the Hauran and among the Beduins), is a state of the soul which with us is found only in a lower degree, but which among the Arabians is psychologically noteworthy. The wahm, i.e., the idea of the greatness and irresistibility of a danger or a misfortune, overpowers the Arabian; all power of body and of soul suddenly so departs from him, that he falls down helpless and defenceless. Thus, on the 8th July 1860, in a few hours, about 6000 Christian men were put to death in Damascus, without one lifting his hand in defence, or uttering one word of supplication. That the ro‛b kills in Arabia, European and native physicians have assured me; and I myself can confirm the fact. Since it frequently produces a stiffening of the limbs, with chronic lameness, every kind of paralysis is called ro‛b, and every paralytic mar‛ûb. It is treated medically by applying the 'terror-cup' (tâset er-ro‛b), covered over with sentences engraved on it, and hung round with twenty bells; and since, among the Arabians, the influence of the psychical on the physical is stronger and more immediate than with us, the sympathetic cure may have there sometimes positive results.” - Wetstein.
- The distinction between these words is well explained by Lewisohn in his Investigationes Linguae (Wilna, 1840), p. 21: “The מעיר את־הישׁן is satisfied that the sleeper wakes, and it is left to him fully to overcome the influence of sleep; the מעורר, however, arouses him at once from sleepiness, and awakes him to such a degree that he is secured against falling asleep again.”
- In this sense: to look sharply toward, is הציץ (Talm.) - for Grätz alone a proof that the Song is of very recent date; but this word belongs, like סמדר, to the old Heb. still preserved in the Talm.
- Grätz misinterprets this in order by the supplement of similar ones to make the whole poem a chain of narrative which Shulamith declaims to the daughters of Jerusalem. Thereby it certainly ceases to be dramatic, but so much more tedious does it become by these interposed expressions, “I said,” “he said,” “the sons of my mother said.”
- It is true that besides in this passage zāmǎr, of the singing of birds, is not demonstrable, the Arab. zamar is only used of the shrill cry of the ostrich, and particularly the female ostrich.
- In like manner as (Arab.) karbsh, corrugare, is formed of karb, to string, and karsh, to wrinkle, combined; and another extension of karsh is kurnash, wrinkles, and mukarnash, wrinkled. “One day,” said Wetstein to me, “I asked an Arab the origin of the word karnasa, to wrinkle, and he replied that it was derived from a sheep's stomach that had lain over night, i.e., the stomach of a slaughtered sheep that had lain over night, by which its smooth surface shrinks together and becomes wrinkled. In fact, we say of a wrinkled countenance that it is mathal alkarash albayt.” With right Wetstein gathers from this curious fact how difficult it is to ascertain by purely etymological considerations the view which guided the Semites in this or that designation. Samdor is also a strange word; on the one side it is connected with sadr, of the veiling of the eyes, as the effect of terror; and on the other with samd, of stretching oneself straight out. E. Meier takes סמדר as the name of the vine-blossom, as changed from סמסר, bristling. Just as unlikely as that סמד is cogn. to חמד, Jesurun, p. 221.
- Wetstein's Reisebericht, p. 182: “If the Syrian wood-pigeon does not find a pigeon-tower, περιστερεῶνα, it builds its nest in the hollows of rocky precipices, or in the walls of deep and wide fountains.” See also his Nord-arabien, p. 58: “A number of scarcely accessible mountains in Arabia are called alkunnat, a rock-nest.”
- Weigand explains the German word Braut (bride) after the Sanscr. prauḍha, “she who is brought in a carriage;” but this particip. signifies nothing more than (aetate) provetca.
- This deponent use of the part. pass. is common in the Mishna; vid., Geiger's Lehrbuch zur Sprache der Mishna, §16. 5.
- Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indogerman.-semit. Studien, p. 72.
- The Turkish Kâmûs says of farfâr: “it is the name of a vehicle (merkeb), like the camel-litter (haudej), destined merely for women.” This also derives its name from rocking to and fro. So farfâr, for farfara is to the present day the usual word for agiter, sécouer les ailes; farfarah, for légèreté; furfûr, for butterfly (cf. Ital. farfalla); generally, the ideas of that which is light and of no value - e.g., a babbler-connect themselves with the root far in several derivatives.
- Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indogerm.-sem. Stud. p. 50. We are now taught by the Assyr. that as בן goes back to בנה, so בר (Assyr. nibru) to ברה = ברא, to bring forth.
- Vid., Merx's Gramm. Syr. p. 115.
- אּפוּריא, quoted by Gesen. in his Thes., Sanhedrin 109b, is not applicable here, it is contracted from אד־פוריא (on the bed).
- This derivation explains how it comes that appiryon can mean, in the Karaite Heb., a bird-cage or aviary, vid., Gottlober's ס בקרת, p. 208. We have left out of view the phrase אפריון נמטיי ליה, which, in common use, means: we present to him homage (of approbation or thanks). It occurs first, as uttered by the Sassanidean king, Shabur I, Mezia 119a, extr.; and already Rapoport, in his Erech Millîn, 1852, p. 183, has recognised this word appiryon as Pers. It is the Old Pers. âfrîna or âfrivana (from frî, to love), which signifies blessing or benediction (vid., Justi's Handb. d. Zendsprache, p. 51). Rashi is right in glossing it by חן שׁלנו (the testimony of our favour).
- Das Hohelied, Erstlingsdrama, u.s.w. The Song, a Primitive Drama from the East; or, Family Sins and Love's Devotion. A Moral Mirror for the Betrothed and Married, 1851.
- Without the Jod after Aleph in the older ed. Thus also in J and H with the note לית וחסר [= nonnisi h. l. et defective] agreeing with the MS Masora Parna. Thus also Kimchi, Michlol 108b.
- The Resh has in H Chatef-Pathach, with Metheg preceding. This, according to Ben-Asher's rule, is correct (cf. Psa 28:9. וּר). In the punctuation of the Aleph with Tsere or Segol the Codd. vary, according to the different views of the punctuation. J has Segol; D H, Tsere, which latter also Kimchi, Michlol 109a.
- L. Geiger (Ursprung der Sprache, 1869, p. 88) erroneously finds in R. חת (חתם, etc.) the meaning of binding. The (Arab.) noun Khatan means first a married man, and then any relation on the side of the wife (Lane); the fundamental idea must be the same as that of Khatn, circumcidere (cf. Exo 4:25), viz., that of penetrating, which חתת, percellere, and נחת, descendere (cf. e.g., ferrum descendit haud alte in corpus, in Livy, and Pro 17:1), also exhibit.
- Regarding this verbal stem and its derivatives, see Theé's Schlafgemach der Phantasie, pp. 102-105.
- Ḳ'ad cannot be used of one who sits on the bed farash; in jalas lies the direction from beneath to above; in ḳ'ad (properly, to heap together, to cower down), from above to beneath.
- The interior of a pomegranate is divided by tough, leather-like white or yellow skins, and the divisions are filled with little berries, in form and size like those of the grape, in the juicy inside of which little, properly, seed-corns, are found. The berries are dark red, or also pale red. The above comparison points to the mixing of these two colours.
- The Moslem erotic poets compare the division of the lips to the dividing cleft into a pomegranate.
- Cf. regarding such double words belonging to the more modern Semitic language, Jesurun, pp. 232-236.
- The Arab. lafa, vi., proceeding from the same root-idea, signifies to bring in something again, to bring in again, to seek to make good again.
- Vid., also Lagarde's Onomastica, p. 202: Θαλπιὼθ ἐπάλξη (read εἰς) ἤ ὑψηλά.
- Vid., Oppert's Grundzüge der Assyr. Kunst (1872), p. 11.
- Lassen's Ind. Alterthumskunde, I 334.
- L. Geiger's Ursprung d. Sprach. p. 227; cf. 88.
- A specimen of Böttcher's interpretation: “What is more natural than to suppose that the keeper of a vineyard showed herself with half of her head and neck exposed at the half-opened window to her shepherd on his first attempt to set her free, when he cried, 'my dove in the clefts of the rocks,' etc., and animated him thereby to this present bold deliverance of her from the midst of robbers?” We pity the Shulamitess, that she put her trust in this moonshiny coward.
- Vid., Zschocke in the Tübinger Quartalschrift, 1867, 3.
- Seal, חותם, pers. muhr, is used directly in the sense of maiden-like behaviour; vid., Perles' etymol. Studien (1871), p. 67.
- In this general sense of “reed” (Syn. arundo) the word is also found in the Gr. and Lat.: κάνναι (κάναι), reed-mats, κάνεον κάναστρον, a wicker basket, canna, canistrum, without any reference to an Indo-Germ. verbal stem, and without acquiring the specific signification of an aromatic plant.
- Vid., Lassen's Ind. Alterthumsk. I 334f. Furrer, in Schenkel's Bib. Lex., understands אהלות of the liliaceae, indigenous to Palestine as to Arabia, which is also called aloë. But the drastic purgative which the succulent leaves of this plant yield is not aromatic, and the verb אחל “to glisten,” whence he seeks to derive the name of this aloe, is not proved. Cf. besides, the Petersburg Lex. under aguru (“not difficult”), according to which is this name of the amyris agallocha, and the aquilaria agallocha, but of no liliaceae. The name Adlerholz (“eagle-wood”) rests on a misunderstanding of the name of the Agila tree. It is called “Paradiesholz,” because it must have been one of the paradise trees (vid., Bereshith rabba under Gen 2:8). Dioskorides says of this wood: θυμιᾶται ἀντὶ λιβανωτοῦ; the Song therefore places it along with myrrh and frankincense. That which is common to the lily-aloe and the wood-aloe, is the bitter taste of the juice of the former and of the resinous wood of the latter. The Arab. name of the aloe, ṣabir, is also given to the lily-aloe. The proverbs: amarru min eṣ-ṣabir, bitterer than the aloe, and es-sabr sabir, patience is the aloe, refer to the aloe-juice.
- Vid., Wetstein in the Zeitsch. für allgem. Erdkunde, 1859, p. 123.
- דּופק is knocking is not an attribute to the determinate דּודי my beloved which it follows, but a designation of state or condition, and thus acc., as the Beirut translation renders it: “hear my beloved in the condition of one knocking.” On the other hand, דוד דופק signifies “a beloved one knocking.” But “hear a beloved one knocking” would also be expressed acc. In classical language, the designation of state, if the subst. to which it belongs is indeterminate, is placed before it, e.g., “at the gate stood a beloved one knocking.”
- According to the primary idea: to break that which is solid or fluid into little pieces, wherefore רסיסים means also broken pieces. To this root appertains also the Arab. rashh, to trickle through, to sweat through, II to moisten (e.g., the mouth of a suckling with milk), and the Aethiop. rasěḥa, to be stained. Drops scattered with a sprinkling brush the Arabs call rashaḥât; in the mystical writings, rashaḥât el-uns (dew-drops of intimacy) is the designation of sporadic gracious glances of the deity.
- That it has the tone on the penult., like כּכה, e.g., Sol 5:9, is in conformity with the paragog. nature of .ה The tone, however, when the following word in close connection begins with ,א goes to the ult., Est 7:6. That this does not occur in איך אל, is explained from the circumstance that the word has the disjunctive Tifcha. But why not in איך אט? I think it is for the sake of the rhythm. Pinsker, Einl. p. 184, seeks to change the accentuation in order that the penult. accent might be on the second איך, but that is not necessary. Cf. Psa 137:7.
- Cf. the Arab. ghawr (ghôr), as a sinking of the earth, and khawr (khôr), as a breaking through, and, as it were, a piercing. The mouth of a river is also called khôr, because there the sea breaks into the riv.
- Hengstenberg finds in this eulogium, on the supposition that Solomon is the author, and is the person who is here described, incomprehensible self-praise. But he does not certainly say all this immediately of himself, but puts it into the mouth of Shulamith, whose love he gained. But love idealizes; she sees him whom she loves, not as others see him, - she sees him in her own transforming light.
- Ivory is fully designated by the name שׁנהבּים, Lat. ebur, from the Aegypt. ebu, the Aegypto-Indian ibha, elephant.
- Hyrtl's Lehrbuch der Anat. des Menschen, sec. 155.
- Dillmann proposes the question, the answer to which he desiderates in Ewald, how the maiden could be so fluent in speaking of the new glories of the Solomonic era (plants and productions of art). Böttcher answers, that she had learned to know these whilst detained at court, and that the whole description has this ground-thought, that she possessed in her beloved all the splendour which the women of the harem value and enjoy. But already the first words of the description, “white and ruddy,” exclude the sunburnt shepherd. To refer the gold, in the figurative description of the uncovered parts of the body, to this bronze colour is insipid.
- According to Sebachim 54b, one of the highest points of the Holy Land.)
- Vid., Friedh. Delitzsch, Indo-Germ. Sem. Studien, p. 72.
- Cf. my Jesurun, p. 149.
- An old Chald. king is called Rim-Sin; rammu is common in proper names, as Ab-rammu.
- The name scarcely harmonizes with רמּה, worm, although the pomegranate suffers from worm-holes; the worm which pierces it bears the strange name (דרימוני) הה, Shabbath 90a.
- עמּי־נדיב, thus in D F: עמּי, without the accent and connected with נדיב by Makkeph. On the contrary, P has עמּינדיב as one word, as also the Masora parva has here noted חדה מלה. Our Masora, however, notes לית ותרתין כתיבין, and thus Rashi and Aben Ezra testify.
- Böttcher explains Mahanaaïm as a plur.; but the plur. of מצנה is מצנות and מחנים; the plur. termination ajim is limited to מים and שׁמים.
- Vid., Walther von der Vogelweide, 173. 28. The Indian mythology goes farther, and transfers not only the original of the dance, but also of the drama, to heaven; vid., Götting. Anziegen, 1874, p. 106.
- Alma is the Arab. 'ualmah (one skilled, viz., in dancing and jonglerie), and Bajadere is the Portug. softening of baladera, a dancer, from balare (ballare), mediaev. Lat., and then Romanic: to move in a circle, to dance.
- Vid., Ryssel's Die Syn. d. Wahren u. Guten in d. Sem. Spr. (1873), p. 12.
- Vid., Tebrîzi, in my work entitled Jud.-Arab. Poesien, u.s.w. (1874), p. 24.
- See my Gesch. d. Jüd. Poesie, p. 30 f. Hoch (the German Solomon) reminds us of the Jewish marriage custom of throwing over the newly-married pair the contents of a vessel wreathed with flowers, and filled with wheat or corn (with money underneath), accompanied with the cry, פּרוּ וּרבוּ be fruitful and multiply.
- In Merx' Archiv. III 355.
- Vid., Robinson's Phys. Geogr. p. 51.
- Zeitschr. für allgem. Erdkunde, 1859, p. 157 f.
- Compare from the same poet: “Alas! thy braided hair, a heart is in every curl, and a dilemma in every ring” (Deut. Morg. Zeit. xxiv. 581).
- Samaschshari, Mufaṣṣal, p. 8.
- Also that סנסן is perhaps equivalent to סלסל (זלזל, תלתל), to wave hither and thither, comes here to view.
- Vid., Hâfiz, ed. Brockhaus, II p. 46.
- Vid., Eugène Despris in the Revue politique et litteraire 1873. The idea was not new. This also was the sentiment of Fray Luis de Leon; vid., his Biographie by Wilkens (1866), p. 209.
- Vid., Fleischer, Makkari, 1868, p. 271.
- Ben-Asher punctuates אנהגך. Thus also P. rightly. Ben-Naphtali, on the contrary, punctuates אנהגך. Cf. Genesis (1869), p. 85, note 3.
- Cf. my Das Hohelied unter. u. ausg. (1851), pp. 65-73.
- Vid., Porphyrius, de Abstin. iv. 16, and Inman in his smutty book, Ancient Faiths, vol. I 1868, according to which the pomegranate is an emblem of “a full womb.”
- Vid., Fleischer's Catal. Codd. Lips. p. 428.
- חבּלתך, penult. accented, and Lamed with Pathach in P. This is certainly right. Michlol 33a adduces merely ילדתך of the verse as having Kametz, on account of the pause, and had thus in view חבּ, with the Pathach under Lamed. But P. has also יל, with Pathach under Daleth, and so also has H, with the remark בּ פתחין (viz., here and Jer 22:26). The Biblia Rabbinica 1526 and 1615 have also the same pointing, Pathach under Daleth. In the printed list of words having Pathach in pause, this word is certainly not found. But it is found in the MS list of the Ochla veochla, at Halle.
- Others, e.g., Bruno von Asti († 1123) and the Waldensian Exposition, edited by Herzog in the Zeit. für hist. Theol. 1861: malum = crux dominica. Th. Harms (1870) quotes Sol 2:3, and remarks: The church brings forth her children under the apple tree, Christ. Into such absurdities, in violation of the meaning of the words, do the allegorizing interpreters wander.
- Vid., Wetstein'sInschriften (1864), p. 336.
- The Arab. ḥabilat, she has conceived, and is in consequence pregnant, accords in the latter sense with ḥamilat, she bears, i.e., is pregnant, without, however, being, as Hitzig thinks, of a cognate root with it. For ḥamal signifies to carry; הבל, on the contrary, to comprehend and to receive (whence also the cord, figuratively, the tie of love, liaison, as enclosing, embracing, is called ḥabl, הבל), and like the Lat. concipere and suscipere, is used not only in a sexual, but also in an ethical sense, to conceive anger, to take up and cherish sorrow. The Assyr. ìáä, corresponding to the Heb. בן, is explained from this Arab. ḥabl, concipere. On the supposition that the Heb. had a word, חבל, of the same meaning as the Arab. ḥabl, then חבּל might mean concipiendo generare; but the Heb. sentence lying before us leads to the interpretation eniti.
- Of the copy of the Tôra, which was to be the king's vade-mecum, it is said, Sanhedrin 21b: עושה אותה כמין קמיע ותולה בזרוע, but also there the amulet is thought of not as fastened to the finger, but as wound round the arm.
- Vid., my Prolegomena to Weber's Vom Zorne Gottes (1862), p. 35 ss.
- The Phoen. Inscriptions, Citens. xxxvii., xxxviii., show a name for God, רשפי חץ, or merely רשף, which appears to correspond to Ζεὺς Κεραύνιος on the Inscriptions of Larnax (vid., Vogué's Mélanges Archéologiques, p. 19). רשפי are thus not the arrows themselves (Grätz), but these are, as it were, lightnings from His bow (Psa 76:4).
- Thus in the Biblia Rabbinica and P. H. with the note מלהחדא ולא מפיק. Thus by Ben-Asher, who follows the Masora. Cf. Liber Psalmorum Hebr. atque Lat. p. 155, under Psa 118:5; and Kimchi, Wörterb., under אפל and שלהב. Ben-Naphtali, on the other hand, reads as two words, שׁלהבת יהּ. [Except in this word, the recensions of Ben-Asher and Ben-Naphtali differ only “de punctis vocalibus et accentibus.” Strack's Prolegomena, p. 28.]
- This is certainly not the Baal-meon (now Maïn) lying half an hour to the south of Heshbon; there is also, however, a Meon (now Maïn) on this the west side of Jordan, Nabal's Maon, near to Carmel. Vid., art. “Maon,” by Kleuker in Schenkel'sBibl. Lex.
- Vid., Robinson's Physical Geogr. of the Holy Land, p. 113; Morrison's Recovery of Jerusalem (1871), p. 463, etc.
- Cf. also Schwarz' Das heilige Land, p. 37.
- Similarly Godet: The earth during the present time belongs to the earthly power; only at the end shall the bridegroom fetch the bride, and appear as the heavenly Solomon to thrust out the false and fleshly, and to celebrate the heavenly marriage festival.