Song of Solomon 2

CHAPTER II

A description of the bridegroom, and his love to the bride, 1-9.

A fine description of spring, 10-13.

The mutual love of both, 14-17.

NOTES ON CHAP. II

Verse 1. I am the rose of Sharon] Sharon was a very fruitful

place, where David's cattle were fed, 1Ch 27:29. It is mentioned

as a place of excellence, Isa 35:2, and as a place of flocks,

Isa 65:10, Perhaps it would be better, with almost all the

versions, to translate, "I am the rose of the field." The

bridegroom had just before called her fair; she with a becoming

modesty, represents her beauty as nothing extraordinary, and

compares herself to a common flower of the field. This, in the

warmth of his affection, he denies, insisting that she as much

surpasses all other maidens as the flower of the lily does the

bramble, So 2:2.

Verse 3. As the apple tree] The bride returns the compliment,

and says, As the apple or citron tree is among the trees of the

wood, so is the bridegroom among all other men.

I sat down under his shadow] I am become his spouse, and my

union with him makes me indescribably happy.

Verse 4. He brought me to the banqueting house] Literally, the

house of wine. The ancients preserved their wine, not in barrels

or dark cellars under ground, as we do, but in large pitchers,

ranged against the wall in some upper apartment in the house, the

place where they kept their most precious effects. We have a proof

of this in HOMER:-

ωςφανοδυψοραφονθαλομονκατεβησατοπατρος

ευρυνοθινητοςχρυσοςκαιχαλκοςεκειτο

εσθηςτενχηλοισιναλιςτευωδεςελαιον

ενδεπιθοιοινοιοπαλαιουηδυποτοιο

εστασανακρητονθειονποτονεντοςεχοντες

εξειηςποτετοιχοναρηροτεςειποτοδυσσευς

οικαδενοστησειεκαιαλγεαπολλαμογησας

κληισταιδεπεσανσανιδεςπυκινωςαραρυιαι

δικλιδεςενδεγυνηταμιηνυκταςτεκαιημαρ

εσχκτλ Od. lib. ii., ver. 337.

Meantime the lofty rooms the prince surveys,

Where lay the treasures of th' Ithacian race.

Here, ruddy brass and gold refulgent blazed;

There, polished chests embroider'd vestures graced.

Here, pots of oil breathed forth a rich perfume;

There, jars of wine in rows adorn'd the dome.

(Pure flavorous wine, by gods in bounty given,

And worthy to exalt the feasts of heaven.)

Untouch'd they stood, till, his long labours o'er,

The great Ulysses reach'd his native shore.

A double strength of bars secured the gates;

Fast by the door wise Euryclea waits, &c.

POPE.

Verse 5. Stay me with flagons] I believe the original words mean

some kind of cordials with which we are unacquainted. The versions

in general understand some kind of ointment or perfumes by the

first term. I suppose the good man was perfectly sincere who took

this for his text, and, after having repeated, Stay me with

flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am sick of love sat down,

perfectly overwhelmed with his own feelings, and was not able to

proceed! But while we admit such a person's sincerity, who can

help questioning his judgment?

Verse 7. I charge you-by the roes] This was probably some rustic

mode of adjuration. The verses themselves require little comment.

With this verse the first night of the first day is supposed to

end.

Verse 8. Behold, he cometh leaping] This appears to be highly

characteristic of the gambols of the shepherds, and points out the

ecstasy with which those who were enamoured ran to their mates. It

is supposed that the second day's eclogue begins at this verse.

The author of what was then called A New Translation of Solomon's

Song, observes, 1. The bride relates how the bridegroom, attended

by his companions, had come under her window, and called upon her

to come forth and enjoy the beauties of the spring, So 2:9-11,

&c. 2. She then returns to her narration, So 3:1. The bridegroom

did not come according to her wishes. Night came on; she did not

find him in her bed; she went out to seek him; found him, and

brought him to her mother's pavilion, So 3:4; and then, as

before, conjures the virgins not to disturb his repose, So 3:5.

Verse 9. He standeth behind our wall] This may refer to the wall

by which the house was surrounded, the space between which and the

house constituted the court. He was seen first behind the wall,

and then in the court; and lastly came to the window of his

bride's chamber.

Verse 11. The winter is past] Mr. Harmer has made some good

collections on this part, from Drs. Shaw and Russel, which I shall

transcribe. One part of the winter is distinguished from the rest

of it by the people of the East, on account of the severity of the

cold. At Aleppo it lasts about forty days, and is called by the

natives maurbanie. I would propose it to the consideration of the

learned, whether the word here used, and translated winter, may

not be understood to mean what the Aleppines express by the term

maurbanie. It occurs nowhere else in the Old Testament; and

another word is used for the rainy part of the year in general. If

this thought be admitted, it will greatly illustrate the words of

the bridegroom: Lo, the winter is past; the rain is over, and

gone. For then the last clause will not be explanatory of the

first, and signify that the moist part of the year was entirely

past; with which, Dr. Russel assures us, all pleasantness

withdraws at Aleppo; but the words will import: "The maurbanie is

past and over; the weather is become agreeably warm; the rain too

is just ceased, and consequently hath left us the prospect of

several days of serenity and undisturbed pleasantness."

The weather of Judea was in this respect, I presume, like that

at Algiers; where, after two or three days of rain, there is

usually, according to Dr. Shaw, "a week, a fortnight, or more, of

fair and good weather. Of such a sort of cessation of rain alone,

the bridegroom, methinks, is here to be understood; not of the

absolute termination of the rainy season, and the summer droughts

being come on. And if so, what can the time that is past mean but

the maurbanie? Indeed, Dr. Russel, in giving us an account of the

excursions of the English merchants at Aleppo, has undesignedly

furnished us with a good comment on this and the two following

verses. These gentlemen, it seems, dine abroad under a tent, in

spring and autumn on Saturdays, and often on Wednesdays. They do

the same during the good weather in winter; but they live at the

gardens in April, and part of May. In the heat of the summer they

dine at the gardens, as once or twice a week they dine under a

tent in autumn and spring." The cold weather is not supposed by

Solomon to have been long over, since it is distinctly mentioned;

and the Aleppines make these incursions very early; the narcissus

flowers during the whole of the maurbanie; the hyacinths and

violets at least before it is quite over. The appearing of

flowers, then, doth not mean the appearing of the first and

earliest flowers, but must rather be understood of the earth's

being covered with them; which at Aleppo is not till after the

middle of February, a small crane's bill appearing on the banks of

the river there about the middle of February, quickly after which

comes a profusion of flowers. The nightingales, too, which are

there in abundance, not only afford much pleasure by their songs

in the gardens, but are also kept tame in the houses, and let out

at a small rate to divert such as choose it in the city; so that

no entertainments are made in the spring without a concert of

these birds. No wonder, then, that Solomon makes the bridegroom

speak of the singing of birds; and it teaches us what these birds

are, which are expressly distinguished from turtle doves.

Verse 13. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs] The fig

tree in Judea bears double crops; the first of which is ripe in

spring. But the tree, as I have elsewhere observed, bears figs

all the year through, in the climes congenial to it. That is, the

fig tree has always ripe or unripe fruit on it. I never saw a

healthy tree naked. But in the beginning of spring they grow fast,

and become turgid.

The vines with the tender grape] The versions understand this of

the flowers of the vine. These were formerly put into the new wine

(2 lbs. to every cask) to give it a fine flavour.

Verse 14. My dove-in the clefts of the rock] He compares his

bride hiding herself in her secret chambers and closets to a dove

in the clefts of the rock.

Verse 15. Take us the foxes] That these were ruinous to vines

all authors allow. They love the vine, and they are eaten in

autumn in some countries, according to Galen, when they are very

fat with eating the grapes. They abounded in Judea; and did most

damage when the clusters were young and tender. It is likely that

these are the words of the bridegroom to his companions, just as

he was entering the apartment of his spouse. "Take care of the

vineyard: set the traps for the foxes, which are spoiling the

vines; and destroy their young as far as possible."

Verse 16. My beloved is mine] The words of the bride on his

entering: "I am thy own; thou art wholly mine."

He feedeth among the lilies.] The odour with which he is

surrounded is as fine as if he passed the night among the sweetest

scented flowers.

Verse 17. Until the day break] Literally, until the day breathe;

until the first dawn, which is usually accompanied with the most

refreshing breezes.

The shadows flee away] Referring to the evening or setting of

the sun, at which all shadows vanish.

The mountains of Bether.] Translated also mountains of division,

supposed to mean the mountains of Beth-horon.

There was a place called Bithron, 2Sa 2:29, on the other side

of Jordan; and as the name signifies PARTITION, it might have had

its name from the circumstance of its being divided or separated

from Judea by the river Jordan.

With this chapter the second night is supposed to end.

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