Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
The Song of Solomon
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.
(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.)
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;
(Note: Vid., Fernbacher's Die Reden des. h. Bernhard ber das Hohelied, prefaced by Delitzsch. Leipzig 1862.)
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 Tirhka romance, i.e., a series of pictures of the events occurring between Samaria and her Aethiopian lover Tirhka, 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? Rosenmller (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" (Ephesians 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
(Note: Vid., Hammer-Purgstall's Das hohe Lied der Liebe der Araber, 1854.)
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 Genesis 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 Tra recognises, indeed, in its primitive history monogamy as the original form (Matthew 19:4-6); but in its legislation, giving up the attempt to abolish polygamy, it is satisfied with its limitation (Deuteronomy 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" (Matthew 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 premire rverie de ce genre sur le livre en question; plt Dieu que ce ft la dernire;" 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. Zckler has recognised my book
(Note: Das Hohelied undersucht u. ausg. Leipzig 1851.)
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 equals 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 (Ecclesiastes 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" (Ezekiel 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.
(Note: Cf. Tosefta Sanhedrin xii., Sanhedrin iii.a, and the commencement of the tract Kalla.)
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 (Jeremiah 2:2; Isaiah 62:5), and Solomon a type of the Prince of peace (Isaiah 9:5; Luke 11:31), and marriage a mystery, viz., as a pattern of the loving relation of God and His Christ to the church (Ephesians 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. Hollnder (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),
(Note: Vid., Jahrg. i. No. 22-24 of the Berne Kirchenfreund.)
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.
(Note: And in this Godet stands not alone. The Jewish interpreter Malbim (1850) accepts also this seduction-history: Solomon equals the sensual impulse; Shulamith equals the spirit-soul; the little sister equals the natural soul; and Shulamith's beloved equals the heavenly Friend, the Shepherd of the universe.)
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 Westst. 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,
(Note: Literaturb. der Darmst. Kirchenzeitung, 1851, pp. 114-146, and 1854, No. 11.)
"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 Petrus, 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:
(Note: "Shulamith," says E. F. Friedrich (1855 and 1866), "is the oldest theatrical piece in existence." Ewald and Bttcher, 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 Kaldasa. For the Sakuntla and the drama Der Kaufmann und die Bajadere belong to the first century of our era.)
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
(Note: Vid., my Prolegomena to Luzzatto's מגדל עז (Heb. Paraphrase of the Pastors fido of Guarini), 1837, pp. 24-32.)
to emulate Greece. Grtz' (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;
(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.)
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.
(Note: Vid., Repert. fr bibl. u. morgenl. Lit. viii. (1781), p. 180. The Archimandrite Porphyrios describes such a MS in his (Russian) Reisewerk (1856).)
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 ... ?"
Zckler 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 (Genesis 30:13; Psalm 41:3; Psalm 107:32), and the poet, if he had wished to explain the praise as to its contents, would have done this otherwise (cf. Proverbs 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 V: 6:10-8:4 6:10-7:6 7:7-8:4 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.
(Note: Ephr. Epstein, surgeon in Cincinnati, in a review of Von Grtz' 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.)
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 Psalm 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 Proverbs 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 (Proverbs 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 Tbingen 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 Grtz attempts to prove that the Song in its Graecising language and Greek customs and symbols bears evidences of the Syro-Macedonian age;
(Note: So also, on linguistic grounds, Ant. Theod. Hartmann in Winer's Zeitschr. 1829.)
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,"
(Note: Epstein, in true American style, calls him "the bogus 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 Ezekiel 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 Proverbs 1-9 alludes in Proverbs 7:23 to Eros and his quivers, and in Proverbs 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,
(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.)
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 Grtz 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!
Grtz (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 (Ecclesiastes 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;"
(Note: Vid., for the explanation of this, my essay, "Das Hohelied verunreinigt die Hnde," in the Luth. Zeitsch. 1854. The Tra 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.)
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 Grtz 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 Tra, 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 (Proverbs 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. Revelation 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 Zckler 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 Mnich 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.
The song of songs, which is Solomon's.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:
(Note: Vid., Frst's Der Kanon des A. T. (1868), p. 86.)
"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," Genesis 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, Genesis 9:25; Exodus 29:37, or of the inner member of a genitival connection of words, Jeremiah 3:19; but it is also wanting in other places, as Ezekiel 16:7 and Ecclesiastes 1:2; Ecclesiastes 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 1 Kings 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 Jeremiah 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 Isaiah 1:1, cf. 1 Kings 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.
(Note: 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 equals (Arab.) ithr, Assyr. asar, track, place, as when the vulgar expression is used, "The man where (wo instead of welcher) has said.")
In the Book of Kings it appears as a North Palest. provincialism, to the prose of the pre-exilian literature it is otherwise foreign;
(Note: We do not take into view here Genesis 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?).)
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 (Psalm 122:3, etc.) and in prose (1 Chronicles 5:20; 1 Chronicles 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 Grtz supposes. The history of the language and literature refutes this.
Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.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., Exodus 16:27 (cf. Jeremiah 48:32 and Isaiah 16:9), with the underlying phrase נשׁיקה נשׁק, osculum osculari equals 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. Bttcher 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 (Revelation 1:13),
(Note: Vid., my Handsch. Funde, Heft 2((1862).)
of the breasts of a man (for which Isaiah 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 Psalm 42:5); of a fluid, "to cause to boil up," to which the word דּוּד, a kitchen-pot, is referred.
(Note: 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.)
It is the very same verbal stem from which דּיד (David), the beloved, and the name of the foundress of Carthage, דּידה ( equals 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.
Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.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, Hlem., and Zck. explain: in odour thy ointments are sweet. Now the words can certainly, after Joshua 22:10; Job 32:4; 1 Kings 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. 1 Samuel 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 Genesis 2:9, where Lamed introduces the sense of sight, as here the sense of smell. Zckl. and others reply that in such a case the word would have been לריח; but the art. is wanting also at Genesis 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 Ecclesiastes 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 Bttcher 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). Frst imagines "a province in Palestine where excellent oil was got," called Turak; "Turkish" Rosenl 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 Psalm 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 Psalm 45. עלמות (sing. Isaiah 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 ( equals 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" [Numbers 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.
Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.The second pentastich also begins with a solo:
4 Draw me, so will we run after thee.
All recent interpreters (except Bttcher) 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 (Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3); cf. ἑλκύειν, John 6:44; John 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. (Psalm 57:7; Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 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 Psalm 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
(Note: Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indo-german.-sem. Studien (1873), p. 99f.)
- 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., Psalm 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, Zckler, and others translate: with right they love thee. But the pluralet. מישׁרים (from מישׁר, for which the sing. מישׁור occurs) is an ethical conception (Proverbs 1:3), and signifies, not: the right of the motive, but: the rightness of the word, thought, and act (Proverbs 23:16; Psalm 17:2; Psalm 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. equals those who have rectitude, the upright. Hengstenberg's assertion, that the word never occurs as in adv., is set aside by a glance at Psalm 58:2; Psalm 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 (Proverbs 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.
I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.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, 2 Chronicles 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" (Jeremiah 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
(Note: 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.)
denotes the latter, as distinguished from (Arab.) fajr, the morning twilight (vid., under Isaiah 14:12; Isaiah 47:11). She speaks of herself as a Beduin who appears to herself as (Arab.) sawda, black, and calls
(Note: 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.)
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 equals נאוה equals נאוי, which is also formed by means of the doubling of the third stem-letter of נאה equals 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 (Genesis 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 (Isaiah 54:2); of the tent coverings, which were named in parall. with the tents themselves as the clothing of their framework (Habakkuk 3:7; Jeremiah 4:20; Jeremiah 10:20; Jeremiah 49:29). Such tent hangings will thus also be here meant; precious, as those described Exodus 26 and 36, and as those which formed the tabernacle on Zion (2 Samuel 7; cf. 1 Chronicles 17:1) before the erection of the temple. Those made in Egypt
(Note: Vid., Wetzstein's Isaiah (1869), p. 698.)
were particularly prized in ancient times.
Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother's children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.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 Bttch., 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 (2 Samuel 12:11), which is itself as the eye of the heavens.
(Note: 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).)
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., Genesis 27:29; but if the two expressions stand in apposition, as Deuteronomy 13:76, then the idea of the natural brother is sharpened; but when "mother's sons" stands thus by itself alone, then, after Leviticus 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 1 Corinthians 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 ( equals נחרר), Gesen. 68, An. 5; but the plur. of this נחר should, according to rule, have been נחרוּ (cf. however, נחלוּ, profanantur, Ezekiel 7:24); and what is more decisive, this נחר from חרר everywhere else expresses a different passion from that of anger; Bttch. 1060 (2, 379). חרה is used of the burning of anger; and that נחרוּ (from נחרה equals נחרה) can be another form for נחרוּ, is shown, e.g., by the interchange of אחרוּ and אחרוּ; the form נחרוּ, like נחלוּ, Amos 6:6, resisted the bringing together of the ח and the half guttural ר. Něhěrā (here as Isaiah 41:11; Isaiah 45:24) means, according to the original, mid. signif. of the Niph., to burn inwardly, ἀναφλέγεσθαι equals 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 equals τηρεῖν; cf. Targ. Genesis 37:11 with Luke 2:51), and not נחרה, as they were wont to say in Judea, after Proverbs 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, 2 Kings 17:9, shows that the maid is a Galilean, whose manner of speech is Aramaizing, and if we may so say, platt-Heb. ( equals 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 equals 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 vine-stock, 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.
Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?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. Genesis 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. Nehemiah 13:26), or "the dearly beloved of my soul" (cf. Jeremiah 12:7). The entreating request, indica quaeso mihi ubi pascis, reminds one of Genesis 37:16, where, however, ubi is expressed by איפה, while here by איכה, which in this sense is hap leg For ubi equals איפה, is otherwise denoted only by איכה (איכו), 2 Kings 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., Bttch. 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 equals ut ne, like למּה אשׁר, Daniel 1:10 (cf. Ezra 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 הע''א 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 (Bttch.), 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 Genesis 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.
If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds' tents.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" equals the one distinguished for beauty among them, and thus is, according to the meaning, superlative; cf. Judges 6:15; Amos 2:16, with Judges 5:24; Luke 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, navete deserved, the daughters of Jerusalem do not feel disposed to give her. ידע לא signifies, often without the obj. supplied, non sapere, e.g., Psalm 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 equals 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. Genesis 38:17, where it has been fittingly remarked that the young he-goat was the proper courtesan-offering in the worship of Aphrodite (Movers' Phnizier, 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.
I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.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 ( equals ra'j), abbreviated רע, whence the fem. rǎ'yāh (Judges 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 (2 Chronicles 9:28); he possessed 1400 war-chariots and 12, 000 horsemen (1 Kings 10:26); the number of stalls of horses for his chariots was still greater (1 Kings 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.
(Note: Eber's Aegypten u. die B. Mose's, Bd. I pp. 221f. 226; cf. Aeg. Zeitschr. 1864, p. 26f.)
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. Joshua 19:5 with 1 Chronicles 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 Genesis 49:11, the second member of the word-chain is furnished with a prep. (vid., under Psalm 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 Psalm 19:11; Psalm 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.
(Note: 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 ( equals 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: Genesis 16:7, "a well of water;" Deuteronomy 22:19, "a damsel of Israel;" Psalm 113:9, "a mother of children;" cf. Genesis 21:28.)
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. Psalm 89:14) points of silver sprinkled over them, - which was a powerful enticement for a plain country damsel.
Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.
While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.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 equals dum (erat); so also עד alone, without asher, with the part. foll. (Job 1:18), and the infin. (Judges 3:26; Exodus 33:22; Jonah 4:2; cf. 2 Kings 9:22); seldomer with the fin. foll., once with the perf. foll. (1 Samuel 14:19), once (for Job 8:21 is easily explained otherwise) with the fut. foll. (Psalm 141:10, according to which Genesis 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 1 Samuel 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 (1 Samuel 20:5; 1 Kings 13:20; cf. Psalm 128:3). Reclining and eating are to be viewed as separate from each other, Amos 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 Tra 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.
(Note: 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., III41f.)
Horace promises Virgil a cadus ( equals 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 (Mark 14:5; John 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
(Note: In Arab. ntn equals 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).)
(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.
A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.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),
(Note: Vid., Schlotmann in the Stud. u. Krit. (1867), p. 217.)
belongs, like the frankincense, to the amyrids, which are also exotics
(Note: They came from Arabia and India; the better Arabian was adulterated with Indian myrrh.)
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. Isaiah 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 Frst, from כפר equals 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
(Note: Vid., the literature of this subject in Defrmery's notice of Dozy-Engelmann's work in the Revue Critique, III 2 (1868), p. 408.)
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 (Ecclesiastes 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.
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.
Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes.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 (Habakkuk 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.
Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.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 (Amos 6:4), - has the name ערשׂ, from ערשׂ, to cover over; cf. the "network of goats' hair" (1 Samuel 19:13) and the κωνωπεῖον of Holofernes (Judith 10:21; 13:9), (whence our kanapee equals 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. equals רה equals .tse (Kerı̂), for in place of רהטים, troughs (Exodus 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. Abulwald 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,
(Note: 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 Isaiah 41:19.)
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 Isaiah 60:13 a favourable support.
The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.