Song of Solomon 1

Verse 10. Therefore remove sorrow] caas, anger; every kind

of violent passion, all filthiness of the flesh and spirit.

"Childhood and youth are vanity;" they pass away and come to

nothing. Eternity alone is permanent; live for eternity.

THE

SONG OF SOLOMON

-Year from the Creation of the World, according to Archbishop

Usher, 2990.

-Year from the Flood of Noah, according to the common Hebrew

text, 1334.

-Year before the birth of Christ, 1010.

-Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 1014.

CHAPTER I

The bride's love to her spouse, 1-5.

She confesses her unworthiness; desires to be directed to the

flock, 6, 7;

and she is directed to the shepherds' tents, 8.

The bridegroom describes his bride, and shows how he will

provide for her, and how comfortably they are accommodated,

9-17.

NOTES ON CHAP. I

Verse 1. The song of songs] A song of peculiar excellence. See

the Introduction. The rabbins consider this superior to all songs.

TEN songs, says the Targum, have been sung; but this excels them

all. 1. The first was sung by Adam when his sin was pardoned. 2.

The second was sung by Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea.

3. The third was sung by the Israelites when they drank of the

rock in the wilderness. 4. The fourth was sung by Moses when

summoned to depart from this world. 5. The fifth was sung by

Joshua when the sun and moon stood still. 6. The sixth was

sung by Deborah and Barak after the defeat of Sisera. 7. The

seventh was sung by Hannah when the Lord promised her a son. 8.

The eighth was sung by David for all the mercies given him by

God. 9. The ninth is the present, sung in the spirit of prophecy

by Solomon. 10. The tenth is that which shall be sung by the

children of Israel when restored from their captivities. See the

Targum.

Verse 2. Let him kiss me, &c.] She speaks of the bridegroom in

the third person, to testify her own modesty, and to show him the

greater respect.

Thy love is better than wine.] The versions in general

translate dodeyca, thy breasts; and they are said to

represent, spiritually, the Old and New Testaments.

Verse 3. Thy name is as ointment poured forth] Ointments and

perfumes were, and still are, in great request among the Asiatics.

They occur constantly in their entertainments. Thy name is as

refreshing to my heart, as the best perfumes diffused through a

chamber are to the senses of the guests.

Therefore do the virgins love thee.] She means herself; but uses

this periphrasis through modesty.

Verse 4. Draw me] Let me have the full assurance of thy

affection.

We will run after thee] Speaking in the plural through modesty,

while still herself is meant.

The king hath brought me] My spouse is a potentate, a mighty

king, no ordinary person.

Into his chambers] He has favoured me with his utmost

confidence.

The upright love thee.] The most perfect and accomplished find

thee worthy of their highest esteem.

Verse 5. I am black, but comely] This is literally true of many

of the Asiatic women; though black or brown, they are exquisitely

beautiful. Many of the Egyptian women are still fine; but their

complexion is much inferior to that of the Palestine females.

Though black or swarthy in my complexion, yet am I comely-well

proportioned in every part.

As the tents of Kedar] I am tawny, like the tents of the

Arabians, and like the pavilions of Solomon, probably covered by

a kind of tanned cloth. The daughters of Jerusalem are said to

represent the synagogue; the bride, the Church of Christ. It is

easy to find spiritual meanings: every creed will furnish them.

Verse 6. Because the sun hath looked upon me] The bride gives

here certain reasons why she was dark complexioned. "The sun hath

looked upon me." I am sunburnt, tanned by the sun; being obliged,

perhaps, through some domestic jealously or uneasiness, to keep

much without: "My mother's children were angry; they made me

keeper of the vineyards." Here the brown complexion of the

Egyptians is attributed to the influence of the sun or climate.

My mother's children were angry with me] Acted severely. The

bringing of a foreigner to the throne would no doubt excite

jealousy among the Jewish females; who, from their own superior

complexion, national and religious advantages, might well suppose

that Solomon should not have gone to Egypt for a wife and queen,

while Judea could have furnished him with every kind of superior

excellence.

Verse 7. Tell me-where thou feedest] This is spoken as if the

parties were shepherds, or employed in the pastoral life. But how

this would apply either to Solomon, or the princes of Egypt, is

not easy to ascertain. Probably in the marriage festival there was

something like our masks, in which persons of quality assumed

rural characters and their employments. See that fine one composed

by Milton, called COMUS.

To rest at noon] In hot countries the shepherds and their flocks

are obliged to retire to shelter during the burning heats of the

noon-day sun. This is common in all countries, in the summer

heats, where shelter can be had.

One that turneth aside] As a wanderer; one who, not knowing

where to find her companions, wanders fruitlessly in seeking them.

It was customary for shepherds to drive their flocks together for

the purpose of conversing, playing on the pipe, or having trials

of skill in poetry or music. So VIRGIL:-

Forte sub arguta consederat ilice Daphnis

Compulerantque greges Corydon et Thyrsis in unum:

Thyrsis oves, Corydon distentas lacte capellas;

Ambo florentes aetatibus, Arcades ambo,

Et cantare pares, et respondere parati.

ECL,. vii. v. 1.

"Beneath a holm repair'd two jolly swains:

Their sheep and goats together grazed the plains;

Both young Arcadians, both alike inspired

To sing and answer as the song required."

DRYDEN.

This does not express the sense of the original: from the

different pastures in which they had been accustomed to feed their

flocks, they drove their sheep and goats together for the purpose

mentioned in the pastoral; and, in course, returned to their

respective pasturages, when their business was over.

Verse 8. If thou know not] This appears to be the reply of the

virgins. They know not exactly; and therefore direct the bride

to the shepherds, who would give information.

Verse 9. I have compared thee-to a company of horses] This may

be translated, more literally, "I have compared thee

lesusathi, to my mare, in the chariots or courses of Pharaoh;"

and so the versions understood it. Mares, in preference to horses,

were used both for riding and for chariots in the East. They are

much swifter, endure more hardship, and will go longer without

food, than either the stallion or the gelding. There is perhaps

no brute creature in the world so beautiful as a fine well-bred

horse or mare; and the finest woman in the universe, Helen, has

been compared to a horse in a Thessalian chariot, by Theocritus.

Idyl. xviii. ver. 28:-

ωδεκαιχρυσεαελεναδιαφαινετενημιν

πιειρημεγαληατανεδραμενογμοςαρουρα

ηκαπωκυπαρισσοςηαρματιθεσσαλοςιππος

"The golden Helen, tall and graceful, appears as distinguished

among us as the furrow in the field, the cypress in the garden, or

the Thessalian horse in the chariot."

This passage amply justifies the Hebrew bard, in the simile

before us. See Jer 6:2.

Verse 10. Thy cheeks are comely] D'Arvieux has remarked that

"the Arabian ladies wear a great many pearls about their necks and

caps. They have golds chains about their necks which hang down

upon their bosoms with strings of coloured gauze; the gauze itself

bordered with zechins and other pieces of gold coin, which hang

upon their foreheads and both cheeks. The ordinary women wear

small silver coins, with which they cover their forehead-piece

like fish scales, as this is one of the principal ornaments of

their faces." I have seen their essence bottles ornamented with

festoons of aspers, and small pieces of silver pearls, beads, &c.

One of these is now before me.

Verse 11. Borders of gold] I have observed several of the

handkerchiefs, shawls, and head attire of the Eastern women,

curiously and expensively worked in the borders with gold and

silver, and variously coloured silk, which has a splendid

effect.

Verse 12. While the king sitteth at his table] bimsibbo,

in his circle, probably meaning the circle of his friends at the

marriage festivals, or a round table.

Verse 13. He shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.] Mr. Harmer

contends that it is the bundle of myrrh which the bride says shall

lie all night betwixt her breasts, to which she compares the

bridegroom, his name being as pleasing and refreshing to her mind,

as the myrrh or stacte was to her senses, by its continual

fragrance.

Verse 14. A cluster of camphire] Mr. Hasselquist supposes this

to mean a bunch of the Cyprus grape; but this is supposed to mean

a shrub so called, not any production of the isle of Cypress; the

best kinds of which were found at En-gedi. This place belonged to

the tribe of Judah.

Perhaps the poet alludes to the dark colour of the hair, which

by the Greeks was not unfrequently compared to the bunches of

grapes; by no means an unfit similitude for thick black clustering

curls. The following lines represent the same idea:-

[Persian]

[Persian]

"The dark black locks that ornament her neck

Hang thick and clustering like the branchy palm."

Verse 15. Thou hast doves' eyes] The large and beautiful dove of

Syria is supposed to be here referred to, the eyes of which are

remarkably fine.

Verse 16. Also our bed is green.] eres, from its use

in several places of the Hebrew Bible, generally signifies a

mattress; and here probably a green bank is meant, on which they

sat down, being now on a walk in the country. Or it may mean a

bower in a garden, or the nuptial bed.

Verse 17. The beams of our house are cedar] Perhaps it was under

a cedar tree, whose vast limbs were interwoven with the

beroth, a tree of the cypress kind, where they now sat. And this

natural bower recommended itself to the poet's attention by its

strength, loftiness, and its affording them a shady cover and cool

retreat. How natural to break out into the praise of a bower, by

whose branches and foliage we are shielded from the intense heat

of the sun! Even the shelter of a great rock to a weary land is

celebrated by the pen of the first of prophets and greatest of

poets, Isa 32:2.

With this chapter the first day of the marriage ceremonies is

supposed to end.

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