|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
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.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi. Engedi was a place near Jericho, and famous for palm trees, as that was, hence called Hazazontamar, 2 Chronicles 20:2. Pliny (o) sneaking of this place, which he calls Engadda, says, it is second to Jerusalem for fertility and groves of palm trees; and Josephus (p) observes, that there grew the best palm trees and opobalsam; wherefore Aben Ezra, and other Jewish writers, think that dates, the fruit of the palm trees, which grow in clusters, are here meant: and because the balsam tree also, grew in this place, as observed before from Josephus, and grew in the manner of vines, as others (q) assert; and this being said to, be in vineyards, some have thought that that might be in, tended; but what is valuable in it is a gum or tear, that drops from it, and not fruit in clusters, which it bears not: nor can it be supposed that what we call "camphire" should be meant, which grows not in clusters, and was unknown to the ancients; nor the "cyperus", or "cypirus", as Cocceius and others. The Septuagint version readers it "cyprus": and there was a tree of this name which grew in Askelon in Judea, which, according to Pliny (r), bore a white flower of a sweet smell; and which, in Italy, was called "ligustrum", the privet tree, commended by the poets (s) for its peculiar whiteness; and the cypress tree is reckoned by Josephus (t) among the odoriferous trees which grew about Jericho, near to which Engedi was. The word here used is to be found in the Misnah (u); and the commentators (w) on it say, it is the same which, in Arabic, is called "alhena", the cypress tree, and refer to this place; of which Dr. Shaw (x) says,
"this beautiful and odoriferous plant, "alhenna", if it is not annually cut, and kept low, grows ten or twelve feet high, putting out its little flowers in clusters, which yield a most grateful smell, like camphire.''
But, after all, perhaps the Cyprus vine is here meant, which, according to Pliny (y), was the best and largest of vines; and which, though it grew in Cyprus, from whence it had its name, yet some plants of it might be obtained by Solomon, and planted in the vineyards of Engedi; or there were such there like them, and were called by the same name: Jarchi, from an ancient exposition of theirs, relates, that the vineyards of this place brought forth fruit four or five times a year; Alshech says seven. Now as Christ compares himself to a vine, John 15:1; the church may compare him to a cluster of the grapes of the Cyprus vine, reckoned the best; there being a cluster of all perfections, divine and human, in him; and of all the spiritual blessings of the everlasting covenant, and of all the precious promises in it; and of all the grace of the Spirit, and the fulness of it, which is in him. The Jews calls a man, eminent for virtue, and a large share of knowledge, "clusters" (z); and they interpret "eschol", a cluster, by , "a man that has all things in him" (a): such an one is Christ, in the highest sense, having all perfections, excellencies, and virtues, in him. Some leave the word untranslated, "copher" (b), and which has the signification of atonement and propitiation; and so well agrees with Christ, who is the propitiation for sin, and has made atonement for it. Bishop Patrick observes, that the ancient Hebrew doctors, by dividing the first word "eschol", found out the mystery of the Messiah; considering it as if thus read, , "my beloved is unto me the man that propitiates" or "expiates all things"; that is, all sins and transgressions: in the Talmud (c) it is explained,
"he, whose all things are, has atoned for my iniquity;''
which Christ has done for his church and people; and which makes him precious, and is matter of joy and gladness to them, Romans 5:11, 1 John 2:2.
(o) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 17. (p) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 1. s. 2.((q) Justin. e Trogo, l. 36. c. 3. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 25. Vid. Foliot in loc. (r) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 29. (s) Virgil. Eclog. 2. v. 18. Ovid. Metamorph. l. 13. Fab. 8. (t) De Bello Jud. l. 4. c. 8. s. 3.((u) Sheviith, c. 7. s. 6. (w) Maimon. & Bartenora in ibid. (x) Travels, p. 113, 114. edit. 2.((y) Nat. Hist. l. 14. c. 1.((z) Misnah Sotah, c. 9. s. 9. (a) T. Bab. Temurah, fol. 15. 2. Jarchi, & Ez Chaysim in Sotah ibid. (b) "copher", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius, Marckius. (c) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 88. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. cluster—Jesus Christ is one, yet manifold in His graces.
camphire—or, "cypress." The "hennah" is meant, whose odorous flowers grow in clusters, of a color white and yellow softly blended; its bark is dark, the foliage light green. Women deck their persons with them. The loveliness of Jesus Christ.
vineyards—appropriate in respect to Him who is "the vine." The spikenard was for the banquet (So 1:12); the myrrh was in her bosom continually (So 1:13); the camphire is in the midst of natural beauties, which, though lovely, are eclipsed by the one cluster, Jesus Christ, pre-eminent above them all.
En-gedi—in South Palestine, near the Dead Sea (Jos 15:62; Eze 47:10), famed for aromatic shrubs.
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