Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
1 On my bed in the nights
I sought him whom my soul loveth:
I sought him, and found him not.
She does not mean to say that she sought him beside herself on her couch; for how could that be of the modest one, whose home-bringing is first described in the next act - she could and might miss him there neither waking nor sleeping. The commencement is like Job 33:15. She was at night on her couch, when a painful longing seized her: the beloved of her soul appeared to have forsaken her, to have withdrawn from her; she had lost the feeling of his nearness, and was not able to recover it. לילות is neither here nor at Sol 3:8 necessarily the categ. plur. The meaning may also be, that this pain, arising from a sense of being forgotten, always returned upon her for several nights through: she became distrustful of his fidelity; but the more she apprehended that she was no longer loved, the more ardent became her longing, and she arose to seek for him who had disappeared.
I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
2 So I will arise, then, and go about the city,
The markets, and the streets;
I will seek him whom my soul loveth! -
I sought him, and found him not.
How could this night-search, with all the strength of love, be consistent with the modesty of a maiden? It is thus a dream which she relates. And if the beloved of her soul were a shepherd, would she seek him in the city, and not rather without, in the field or in some village? No; the beloved of her soul is Solomon; and in the dream, Jerusalem, his city is transported close to the mountains of her native home. The resolution expressed by "I will arise, then," is not introduced by "then I said," or any similar phrase: the scene consists of a monologue which dramatically represents that which is experienced. Regarding the second Chatef-Pathach of ואס, vid., Baer's Genesis, p. 7. שׁוקים is the plur of שׁוּק ( equals shavḳ), as שׁורים of שׁוּר ( equals shavr); the root-word שוק (Arab. shaḳ) signifies to press on, to follow after continuously; (Arab.) suwaḳ designates perhaps, originally, the place to which one drives cattle for sale, as in the desert; (Arab.) sawaḳ designates the place to which one drives cattle for drink (Wetzst.). The form אבקשׁה is without the Daghesh, as are all the forms of this verb except the imper.; the semi-guttural nature of the Koph has something opposing the simple Sheva.
The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
Shulamith now relates what she further experienced when, impelled by love-sorrow, she wandered through the city:
3 The watchmen who go about in the city found me:
"Have ye seen him whom my soul loveth?"
Here also (as in Sol 3:2) there is wanting before the question such a phrase as, "and I asked them, saying:" the monologue relates dramatically. If she described an outward experience, then the question would be a foolish one; for how could she suppose that the watchmen, who make their rounds in the city (Epstein, against Grtz, points for the antiquity of the order to Psalm 127:1; Isaiah 62:6; cf. Isaiah 21:11), could have any knowledge of her beloved! But if she relates a dream, it is to be remembered that feeling and imagination rise higher than reflection. It is in the very nature of a dream, also, that things thus quickly follow one another without fixed lineaments. This also, that having gone out by night, she found in the streets him whom she sought, is a happy combination of circumstances formed in the dreaming soul; an occurrence without probable external reality, although not without deep inner truth:
It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
4 Scarcely had I passed from them,
When I found him whom my soul loveth.
I seized him, and did not let him go
Until I brought him into the house of my mother,
And into the chamber of her that gave me birth.
כּמעט equals paululum, here standing for a sentence: it was as a little that I passed, etc. Without שׁ, it would be paululum transii; with it, paululum fuit quod transii, without any other distinction than that in the latter case the paululum is more emphatic. Since Shulamith relates something experienced earlier, אחזתּי is not fitly rendered by teneo, but by tenui; and ארפּנּוּ dna ;iune לאו, not by et non dimittam eum, but, as the neg. of וארפנו, et dimisi eum, - not merely et non dimittebam eum, but et non dimisi eum. In Genesis 32:27 , we read the cogn. שׁלּח, which signifies, to let go ("let me go"), as הרפּה, to let loose, to let free. It is all the same whether we translate, with the subjective colouring, donec introduxerim, or, with the objective, donec introduxi; in either case the meaning is that she held him fast till she brought him, by gentle violence, into her mother's house. With בּית there is the more definite parallel חדר lellar, which properly signifies (vid., under Sol 1:4), recessus, penetrale; with אמּי, the seldom occurring (only, besides, at Hosea 2:7) הורה, part.f. Kal of הרה fo la, to conceive, be pregnant, which poetically, with the accus., may mean parturire or parere. In Jacob's blessing, Genesis 49:26, as the text lies before us, his parents are called הורי; just as in Arab. ummâni, properly "my two mothers," may be used for "my parents;" in the Lat. also, parentes means father and mother zeugmatically taken together.
I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
The closing words of the monologue are addressed to the daughters of Jerusalem.
5 I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem,
By the gazelles or the hinds of the field,
That ye awake not and disturb not love
Till she pleases.
We are thus obliged apparently to think of the daughters of Jerusalem as being present during the relation of the dream. But since Shulamith in the following Act is for the first time represented as brought from her home to Jerusalem, it is more probable that she represented her experience to herself in secret, without any auditors, and feasting on the visions of the dream, which brought her beloved so near, that she had him by herself alone and exclusively, that she fell into such a love-ecstasy as Sol 2:7; and pointing to the distant Jerusalem, deprecates all disturbance of this ecstasy, which in itself is like a slumber pervaded by pleasant dreams. In two monologues dramatically constructed, the poet has presented to us a view of the thoughts and feelings by which the inner life of the maiden was moved in the near prospect of becoming a bride and being married. Whoever reads the Song in the sense in which it is incorporated with the canon, and that, too, in the historical sense fulfilled in the N.T., will not be able to read the two scenes from Shulamith's experience without finding therein a mirror of the intercourse of the soul with God in Christ, and cherishing thoughts such, e.g., as are expressed in the ancient hymn:
Quando tandem venies, meus amor?
Propera de Libano, dulcis amor!
Clamat, amat sponsula: Veni, Jesu,
Dulcis veni Jesu!
Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?
6 Who is this coming up from the wilderness
Like pillars of smoke,
Perfumed with myrrh and frankincense,
With all aromatics of the merchants?
It is possible that זאת and עלה may be connected; but עני זה, Psalm 34:7 (this poor man, properly, this, a poor man), is not analogous, it ought to be העלה זאת. Thus zoth will either be closely connected with מי, and make the question sharper and more animated, as is that in Genesis 12:18, or it will be the subject which then, as in Isaiah 63:1; Job 38:2, cf. below Sol 7:5, Jonah 4:11, Amos 9:12, is more closely written with indeterminate participles, according to which it is rightly accented. But we do not translate with Heiligst. quid est hoc quod adscendit, for mī asks after a person, mā after a thing, and only per attract. does mī stand for mā in Genesis 33:8; Judges 13:17; Micah 1:5; also not quis est hoc (Vaih.), for zoth after mi has a personal sense, thus: quis (quaenam) haec est. That it is a woman that is being brought forward those who ask know, even if she is yet too far off to be seen by them, because they recognise in the festal gorgeous procession a marriage party. That the company comes up from the wilderness, it may be through the wilderness which separates Jerusalem from Jericho, is in accordance with the fact that a maiden from Galilee is being brought up, and that the procession has taken the way through the Jordan valley (Ghr); but the scene has also a typical colouring; for the wilderness is, since the time of the Mosaic deliverance out of Egypt, an emblem of the transition from a state of bondage to freedom, from humiliation to glory (vid., under Isaiah 40:3; Hosea 1:11; Psalm 68:5). The pomp is like that of a procession before which the censer of frankincense is swung. Columns of smoke from the burning incense mark the line of the procession before and after. תּימרות (תּים) here and at Job 3 (vid., Norzi) is formed, as it appears, from ימר, to strive upwards, a kindred form to אמר; cf. Isaiah 61:6 with Isaiah 17:6, Psalm 94:4; the verb תּמר, whence the date-palm receives the name תּמר, is a secondary formation, like תּאב to אבה. Certainly this form תּימרה (cf. on the contrary, תּולדה) is not elsewhere to be supported; Schlottm. sees in it תמּרות, from תּמרה; but such an expansion of the word for Dag. dirimens is scarcely to be supposed. This naming of the pillars of smoke is poet., as Jonah 3:3; cf. "a pillar of smoke," Judges 20:40. She who approaches comes from the wilderness, brought up to Jerusalem, placed on an elevation, "like pillars of smoke," i.e., not herself likened thereto, as Schlottm. supposes it must be interpreted (with the tertium comp. of the slender, precious, and lovely), but encompassed and perfumed by such. For her whom the procession brings this lavishing of spices is meant; it is she who is incensed or perfumed with myrrh and frankincense. Schlottm. maintains that מקטּרת cannot mean anything else than "perfumed," and therefore he reads מקּטרת (as Aq. ἀπὸ θυμιάματος, and Jerome). But the word mekuttěrěth does not certainly stand alone, but with the genit. foll.; and thus as "rent in their clothes," 2 Samuel 13:31, signifies not such as are themselves rent, but those whose clothes are rent (Ewald, 288b, compare also de Sacy, II 321), so וגו מקט can also mean those for whom (for whose honour) this incense is expended, and who are thus fumigated with it. מר .t, myrrh, (Arab.) murr (vid., above under Sol 1:13), stands also in Exodus 30:23 and Psalm 45:9 at the head of the perfumes; it came from Arabia, as did also frankincense levōnā, Arab. lubân (later referred to benzoin); both of the names are Semitic, and the circumstance that the Tra required myrrh as a component part of the holy oil, Exodus 30:23, and frankincense as a component part of the holy incense, Exodus 30:34, points to Arabia as the source whence they were obtained. To these two principal spices there is added ממּל (cf. Genesis 6:20; Genesis 9:2) as an et cetera. רוכל denotes the travelling spice merchants (traders in aromatics), and traders generally. אבקה, which is related to אבק as powder to dust (cf. abacus, a reckoning-table, so named from the sand by means of which arithmetical numbers were reckoned), is the name designating single drugs (i.e., dry wares; cf. the Arab. elixir equals ξηρόν).
Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
The description of the palanquin now following, one easily attributes to another voice from the midst of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
7 Lo! Solomon's palanquin,
Threescore heroes are around it,
Of the heroes of Israel,
8 All of them armed with the sword, expert in war.
Each with his sword on his thigh,
Against fear in the nights.
Since אפּריון, 9a, is not by itself a word clearly intelligible, so as to lead us fully to determine what is here meant by מטּה as distinguished from it, we must let the connection determine. We have before us a figure of that which is called in the post-bibl. Heb. כּלה הכנסת (the bringing-home of the bride). The bridegroom either betook himself to her parents' house and fetched his bride thence, which appears to be the idea lying at the foundation of Psalm 45, if, as we believe, the ivory-palaces are those of the king of Israel's house; or she was brought to him in festal procession, and he went forth to meet her, 1 Macc. 9:39 - the prevailing custom, on which the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25) is founded.
(Note: Weigand explains the German word Braut (bride) after the Sanscr. prauḍha, "she who is brought in a carriage;" but this particip. signifies nothing more than (aetate) provetca.)
Here the bride comes from a great distance; and the difference in rank between the Galilean maid and the king brings this result, that he does not himself go and fetch her, but that she is brought to him. She comes, not as in old times Rebecca did, riding on a camel, but is carried in a mittā, which is surrounded by an escort for protection and as a mark of honour. Her way certainly led through the wilderness, where it was necessary, by a safe convoy, to provide against the possibility (min in mippahad, cf. Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 25:4) of being attacked by robbers; whereas it would be more difficult to understand why the marriage-bed in the palace of the king of peace (1 Chronicles 22:9) should be surrounded by such an armed band for protection. That Solomon took care to have his chosen one brought to him with royal honours, is seen in the lavish expenditure of spices, the smoke and fragrance of which signalized from afar the approach of the procession, - the mittā, which is now described, can be no other than that in which, sitting or reclining, or half sitting, half reclining, she is placed, who is brought to him in such a cloud of incense. Thus mittā (from nāthā, to stretch oneself out), which elsewhere is also used of a bier, 2 Samuel 3:21 (like the Talm. ערס equals ערשׂ), will here signify a portable bed, a sitting cushion hung round with curtains after the manner of the Indian palanquin, and such as is found on the Turkish caiques or the Venetian gondolas. The appositional nearer definition שׁלּשׁ, "which belonged to Solomon" (vid., under 6b), shows that it was a royal palanquin, not one belonging to one of the nobles of the people. The bearers are unnamed persons, regarding whom nothing is said; the sixty heroes form only the guard for safety and for honour (sauvegarde), or the escorte or convoie. The sixty are the tenth part (the lite) of the royal body-guard, 1 Samuel 27:2; 1 Samuel 30:9, etc. (Schlottm.). If it be asked, Why just 60? we may perhaps not unsuitably reply: The number 60 is here, as at Sol 6:8, the number of Israel multiplied by 5, the fraction of 10; so that thus 60 distinguished warriors form the half to the escort of a king of Israel. חרב אחזי properly means, held fast by the sword so that it goes not let them free, which, according to the sense equals holding fast equals practised in the use of the sword; the Syr. translation of the Apoc. renders παντοκράτωρ by 'he who is held by all," i.e., holding it (cf. Ewald, 149b).
(Note: This deponent use of the part. pass. is common in the Mishna; vid., Geiger's Lehrbuch zur Sprache der Mishna, 16. 5.)
They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.
King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.
Another voice now describes the splendour of the bed of state which Solomon prepared in honour of Shulamith:
9 A bed of state hath King Solomon made for himself
Of the wood of Lebanon.
10 Its pillars hath he made of silver,
Its support of gold, its cushion of purple;
Its interior is adorned from love
By the daughters of Jerusalem.
The sound of the word, the connection and the description, led the Greek translators (the lxx, Venet., and perhaps also others) to render אפּריון, by φορεῖον, litter palanquin (Vulg. ferculum). The appiryon here described has a silver pedestal and a purple cushion - as we read in Athenaeus v. 13 (II p. ed. Schweigh.) that the philosopher and tyrant Athenion showed himself "on a silver-legged φορεῖον, with purple coverlet;" and the same author, v. 5 (II p. , also says, that on the occasion of a festal procession by Antiochus Epiphanes, behind 200 women who sprinkled ointments from golden urns came 80 women, sitting in pomp on golden-legged, and 500 on silver-legged, φορεῖα - this is the proper name for the costly women's-litter (Suidas: φορεῖον γυναικεῖον), which, according to the number of bearers (Mart. VI 77: six Cappadocians and, ix. 2, eight Syrians), was called ἑξάφορον (hexaphorum, Mart. II 81) or ὀκτώφορον (octophorum, Cicero's Verr. v. 10). The Mishna, Sota ix. 14, uses appiryon in the sense of φορεῖον: "in the last war (that of Hadrian) it was decreed that a bride should not pass through the town in an appiryon on account of the danger, but our Rabbis sanctioned it later for modesty's sake;" as here, "to be carried in an appiryon," so in Greek, προιέναι (καταστείχειν) ἐν φορείω. In the Midrash also, Bamidbar rabba c. 12, and elsewhere, appiryon of this passage before us is taken in all sorts of allegorical significations in most of which the identity of the word with φορεῖον is supposed, which is also there written פּוּרון (after Aruch), cf. Isaiah 49:22, Targ., and is once interchanged with פאפליון, papilio (parillon), pleasure-tent. But a Greek word in the Song is in itself so improbable, that Ewald describes this derivation of the word as a frivolous jest; so much the more improbable, as φορεῖον as the name of a litter (lectica) occurs first in such authors (of the κοινή) as Plutarch, Polybuis, Herodian, and the like, and therefore, with greater right, it may be supposed that it is originally a Semitic word, which the Greek language adopted at the time when the Oriental and Graeco-Roman customs began to be amalgamated. Hence, if mittā Sol 3:7, means a portable bed, - is evident from this, that it appears as the means of transport with an escort, - then appiryon cannot also mean a litter; the description, moreover, does not accord with a litter. We do not read of rings and carrying-poles, but, on the contrary, of pillars (as those of a tent-bed) instead, and, as might be expected, of feet. Schlottm., however, takes mittā and appiryon as different names for a portable bed; but the words, "an appiryon has King Solomon made," etc., certainly indicate that he who thus speaks has not the appiryon before him, and also that this was something different from the mittā. While Schlottm. is inclined to take appiryon, in the sense of a litter, as a word borrowed from the Greek (but in the time of the first king?), Gesen. in his Thes. seeks to derive it, thus understood, from פּרה, cito ferri, currere; but this signification of the verb is imaginary.
We expect here, in accordance with the progress of the scene, the name of the bridal couch; and on the supposition that appiryon, Sota 12a, as in the Mishna, means the litter (Aruch) of the bride, Arab. maziffat, and not torus nuptialis (Buxt.), then there is a possibility that appiryon is a more dignified word for 'ěrěs, Sol 1:17, yet sufficient thereby to show that פּוּריא is the usual Talm. name of the marriage-bed (e.g., Mezia 23b, where it stand, per meton., for concubitus), which is wittily explained by שׁפרין ורבין עליה (Kethuboth 10b, and elsewhere). The Targ. has for it the form פּוּרין (vid., Levy). It thus designates a bed with a canopy (a tent-bed), Deuteronomy 32:50, Jerus; so that the ideas of the bed of state and the palanquin (cf. כילה, canopy, and כילת חתנים, bridal-bed, Succa 11a) touch one another. In general, פוריא (פורין, as is also the case with appiryon, must have been originally a common designation of certain household furniture with a common characteristic; for the Syr. aprautha, plur. parjevatha (Wiseman's Horae, p. 255), or also parha (Castell.), signifies a cradle. It is then to be inquired, whether this word is referable to a root-word which gives a common characteristic with manifold applications. But the Heb. פּרה, from the R. pr, signifies to split,
(Note: Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indogerman.-semit. Studien, p. 72.)
to tear asunder, to break forth, to bring fruit, to be fruitful, and nothing further. Paaraa has nowhere the signification to run, as already remarked; only in the Palest.-Aram. פּרא is found in this meaning (vid., Buxt.). The Arab. farr does not signify to run, but to flee; properly (like our "ausreissen" equals be tear out, to break out), to break open by flight the rank in which one stands (as otherwise turned by horse-dealers: to open wide the horse's mouth). But, moreover, we do not thus reach the common characteristic which we are in search of; for if we may say of the litter that it runs, yet we cannot say that of a bed or a cradle, etc. The Arab. farfâr, species vehiculi muliebris, also does not help us; for the verb farfar, to vacillate, to shake, is its appropriate root-word.
(Note: The Turkish Kâmûs says of farfâr: "it is the name of a vehicle (merkeb), like the camel-litter (haudej), destined merely for women." This also derives its name from rocking to and fro. So farfâr, for farfara is to the present day the usual word for agiter, scouer les ailes; farfarah, for lgret; furfûr, for butterfly (cf. Ital. farfalla); generally, the ideas of that which is light and of no value - e.g., a babbler-connect themselves with the root far in several derivatives.)
With better results shall we compare the Arab. fary, which, in Kal and Hiph., signifies to break open, to cut out (couper, tailler une toffe), and also, figuratively, to bring forth something strange, something not yet existing (yafry alfaryya, according to the Arab. Lex. equals yaty bal'ajab fy 'amalh, he accomplishes something wonderful); the primary meaning in Conj. viii. is evidently: yftarra kidban, to cut out lies, to meditate and to express that which is calumnious (a similar metaphor to khar'a, findere, viii. fingere, to cut out something in the imagination; French, inventer, imaginer). With this fary, however, we do not immediately reach פּוּריא, אפּריון; for fary, as well as fara (farw), are used only of cutting to pieces, cutting out, sewing together of leather and other materials (cf. Arab. farwat, fur; farrā, furrier), but not of cutting and preparing wood.
But why should not the Semitic language have used פּרה, פּרא, also, in the sense of the verb בּרא, which signifies
He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.
Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.
At the close of the scene, the call now goes forth to the daughters of Zion, i.e., the women of Jerusalem collectively, to behold the king, who now shows himself to the object of his love and to the jubilant crowd, as the festal procession approaches.
11 Come out, yet daughters of Zion, and see
King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother crowned him
On the day of his espousal,
And on the day of the gladness of his heart.
The women of the court, as distinguished from the Galilean maiden, are called "daughters of Jerusalem;" here, generally, the women of Zion or Jerusalem (Lamentations 5:11) are called "daughters of Zion." Instead of צאנה (since the verb Lamed Aleph is treated after the manner of verbs Lamed He, cf. Jeremiah 50:20; Ezekiel 23:49), צאינה, and that defect. צאנה,
(Note: Without the Jod after Aleph in the older ed. Thus also in J and H with the note לית וחסר [ equals nonnisi h. l. et defective] agreeing with the MS Masora Parna. Thus also Kimchi, Michlol 108b.)
is used for the sake of assonance with וּראינה;
(Note: The Resh has in H Chatef-Pathach, with Metheg preceding. This, according to Ben-Asher's rule, is correct (cf. Psalm 28:9. וּר). In the punctuation of the Aleph with Tsere or Segol the Codd. vary, according to the different views of the punctuation. J has Segol; D H, Tsere, which latter also Kimchi, Michlol 109a.)
elsewhere also, as we have shown at Isaiah 22:13, an unusual form is used for the sake of the sound. It is seen from the Sota (ix. 14) that the old custom for the bridegroom to wear a "crown" was abolished in consequence of the awful war with Vespasian. Rightly Epstein, against Grtz, shows from Job 31:36; Isaiah 28:1; Psalm 103:4, that men also crowned themselves. בּעטרה (with the crown) is, according to the best authorities, without the art., and does not require it, since it is determined by the relat. clause following. חתנה is the marriage (the word also used in the post-bibl. Heb., and interchanging with חפּה, properly νυμφών, Matthew 9:15), from the verb חתן, which, proceeding from the root-idea of cutting into (Arab. khatn, to circumcise; R. חת .R ;, whence חתך, חתם, חתר), denotes the pressing into, or going into, another family; חתן is he who enters into such a relation of affinity, and חטן the father of her who is taken away, who also on his part is related to the husband.
(Note: L. Geiger (Ursprung der Sprache, 1869, p. 88) erroneously finds in R. חת (חתם, etc.) the meaning of binding. The (Arab.) noun Khatan means first a married man, and then any relation on the side of the wife (Lane); the fundamental idea must be the same as that of Khatn, circumcidere (cf. Exodus 4:25), viz., that of penetrating, which חתת, percellere, and נחת, descendere (cf. e.g., ferrum descendit haud alte in corpus, in Livy, and Proverbs 17:1), also exhibit.)
Here also the seduction fable is shattered. The marriage with Shulamith takes place with the joyful consent of the queen-mother. In order to set aside this fatal circumstance, the "crown" is referred back to the time when Solomon was married to Pharaoh's daughter. Cogitandus est Salomo, says Heiligst., qui cum Sulamitha pompa sollemni Hierosolyma redit, eadem corona nuptiali ornatus, qua quum filiam regis Aegyptiorum uxorem duxeret ornatus erat. But was he then so poor or niggardly as to require to bring forth this old crown? and so basely regardless of his legitimate wife, of equal rank with himself, as to wound her by placing this crown on his head in honour of a rival? No; at the time when this youthful love-history occurred, Pharaoh's daughter was not yet married. The mention of his mother points us to the commencement of his reign. His head is not adorned with a crown which had already been worn, but with a fresh garland which his mother wreathed around the head of her youthful son. The men have already welcomed the procession from afar; but the king in his wedding attire has special attractions for the women - they are here called upon to observe the moment when the happy pair welcome one another.