Song of Solomon 1:13
A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved to me; he shall lie all night between my breasts.
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(13) A bundle of myrrh.—The mention of perfumes leads the poet to a new adaptation of the language of flowers. For myrrh (Heb., môr), see Genesis 37:25. For various personal and domestic uses, see Psalm 45:8; Proverbs 7:17; Proverbs 5:13. Ginsburg quotes from the Mischna to prove the custom, alluded to in the text, of wearing sachets, or bottles of myrrh, suspended from the neck. Tennyson’s exquisite little song in The Miller’s Daughter suggests itself as a comparison:—

“And I would be the necklace,

And all day long to fall and rise

Upon her balmy bosom

With her laughter or her sighs.

And I would lie so light, so light,

I scarce should be unclasped at night.”

Song of Solomon 1:13-14. A bundle of myrrh — Myrrh was ever reckoned among the best perfumes; shall lie, &c. — This phrase may denote the church’s intimate union with, and hearty affection to Christ. My beloved is as a cluster of camphire — We are not concerned to know exactly what this was; it being confessed that it was some grateful plant, and that it set forth that great delight which the church hath in the enjoyment of Christ; in the vineyards of Engedi — A pleasant and well-watered place in the tribe of Judah, where there were many pleasant plants.1:9-17 The Bridegroom gives high praises of his spouse. In the sight of Christ believers are the excellent of the earth, fitted to be instruments for promoting his glory. The spiritual gifts and graces which Christ bestows on every true believer, are described by the ornaments then in use, ver. 10,11. The graces of the saints are many, but there is dependence upon each other. He who is the Author, will be the Finisher of the good work. The grace received from Christ's fulness, springs forth into lively exercises of faith, affection, and gratitude. Yet Christ, not his gifts, is most precious to them. The word translated camphire, signifies atonement or propitiation. Christ is dear to all believers, because he is the propitiation for their sins. No pretender must have his place in the soul. They resolved to lodge him in their hearts all the night; during the continuance of the troubles of life. Christ takes delight in the good work which his grace has wrought on the souls of believers. This should engage all who are made holy, to be very thankful for that grace which has made those fair, who by nature were deformed. The spouse (the believer) has a humble, modest eye, discovering simplicity and godly sincerity; eyes enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, that blessed Dove. The church expresses her value for Christ. Thou art the great Original, but I am but a faint and imperfect copy. Many are fair to look at, yet their temper renders them unpleasant: but Christ is fair, yet pleasant. The believer, ver. 16, speaks with praise of those holy ordinances in which true believers have fellowship with Christ. Whether the believer is in the courts of the Lord, or in retirement; whether following his daily labours, or confined on the bed of sickness, or even in a dungeon, a sense of the Divine presence will turn the place into a paradise. Thus the soul, daily having fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, enjoys a lively hope of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance above.Render: A bag of myrrh is my beloved to me, which lodgeth in my bosom.13. bundle of myrrh—abundant preciousness (Greek), (1Pe 2:7). Even a little myrrh was costly; much more a bundle (Col 2:9). Burrowes takes it of a scent-box filled with liquid myrrh; the liquid obtained by incision gave the tree its chief value.

he—rather, "it"; it is the myrrh that lies in the bosom, as the cluster of camphire is in the vineyards (So 1:14).

all night—an undivided heart (Eph 3:17; contrast Jer 4:14; Eze 16:15, 30). Yet on account of the everlasting covenant, God restores the adulteress (Eze 16:60, 62; Ho 2:2, &c.). The night is the whole present dispensation till the everlasting day dawns (Ro 13:12). Also, literally, "night" (Ps 119:147, 148), the night of affliction (Ps 42:8).

A bundle of myrrh; or, a bag of myrrh; in which there was a considerable quantity of the gum which droppeth from the myrrh tree. Myrrh is bitter to the taste, but sweet to the smell, and therefore was ever reckoned amongst the best perfumes. See Exodus 30:23 Psalm 45:8 John 19:39.

Is my Beloved unto me; he is most precious and comfortable to me, and the author of my sweet smell last mentioned.

Betwixt my breasts; in the place where bundles or bags of myrrh or other perfumes hang down, being fastened about their necks, which yet were taken away and laid aside by night. But the church intimates that she will not part with Christ, neither day nor night. Or this phrase may note the church’s intimate union with and hearty affection unto Christ. A bundle of myrrh is my well beloved unto me,.... These are the words of the church continued; expressing her great delight in Christ, and her strong love and affection for him, and therefore calls him "my well beloved"; which is expressive both of the greatness of Christ's love to her, and of the strength of her affection to him, as well as of her faith of interest in him; hence she says, he was as "a bundle of myrrh" to her. Some think (n) sweet marjoram is meant, or an herb of a sweet smell, very much like it, called "marum"; but myrrh is commonly understood; and not twigs or branches of it but sprigs, or the flowers of it, bound up as a nosegay, and carried in the bosom; or better, liquid myrrh, or "stacte", as the Septuagint render it, put in a bag (o) or bottle, as the word is rendered, Job 14:7; the allusion being to persons that carry smelling bottles in their bosoms, for refreshment or for pleasure. Now what these were to such, that, and much more, is Christ to his church; like sweet smelling myrrh, exceeding delightful and reviving, and make him very acceptable; his very garments smell of myrrh: and "a bundle" of this, or a bag of it, denotes the abundance of the odours of divine grace in Christ, who is full of it, which he communicates in great plenty: and now Christ is all this, not to any and everyone; but to his church and people, to whom alone he is precious, "my beloved is unto me"; which expresses not only the strength of her affection to Christ, and the value she had for him, and the delight she had in him; but the particular application of him to her own soul by faith;

he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts; "it" or "he"; the bundle of myrrh, or Christ, which comes to the same sense: by her "breasts" are meant her heart, where Christ dwells by faith, which is the best room the church has, and where she desires Christ might lodge; so Alshech explains it of being in her heart: and the time in which she would have him continue here is "all night"; meaning the night of affliction, temptation, &c. or rather the whole time of this life, until the everlasting day breaks; and so it is a desire of Christ's presence with her, and of her having communion with him, as long as she lived in the world; and between her breasts, and in her bosom she desires he might be for an ornament to her, like sweet flowers, and for her delight and pleasure, refreshment and comfort; and that he might be always in her sight, and never be forgotten by her.

(n) Vid. Fortunat. Schace. Eleochrism. Sacr. I. 1, c. 51. p. 256, 257. (o) "folliculus", Cocceius; "sacculum", Marckius; "fasciculus, vel sacculus", Michaelis.

A bundle of myrrh is my wellbeloved to me; he shall lie all night between my {s} breasts.

(s) He will be most dear to me.

13. A bundle] From Isaiah 3:20 we learn that Israelite women were accustomed to carry perfume boxes. The bundle of myrrh here would seem to be something of that kind, probably a small bag with myrrh resin in it.

myrrh] Heb. môr. It is the Balsamodendron myrrha of botanists, a low, thorny, ragged-looking tree, something like an acacia. It is found in Arabia Felix. “A viscid white liquid oozes from the bark when punctured, which rapidly hardens when exposed to the air, and becomes a sort of gum, which in this simple state is the myrrh of commerce. The wood and bark emit a pungent aromatic odour.” Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 365.

he shall lie all night] Rather, as R.V., that lieth. The clause is the ordinary relative sentence with the relative pron. suppressed, by which the attributive participle in English is expressed in Heb., and the translation should be, a bundle of myrrh lying all night between my breasts is my love to me, i.e. the thought of him abides with her and refreshes her heart as a perfume bag of myrrh would do. Cp. Shelley,

“Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,

Are heaped for the beloved’s bed,

And so thy thoughts when thou art gone

Love itself shall slumber on.”

The translation of the A.V. is refuted by the parallelism. In the second half of Song of Solomon 1:14, in the vineyards of En-gedi is an attribute of the cluster of henna-flowers, and so in Song of Solomon 1:13, lying between my breasts is an attribute of the bundle of myrrh.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.

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