|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
5:9-16 Even those who have little acquaintance with Christ, cannot but see amiable beauty in others who bear his image. There are hopes of those who begin to inquire concerning Christ and his perfections. Christians, who are well acquainted with Christ themselves, should do all they can to make others know something of him. Divine glory makes him truly lovely in the eyes of all who are enlightened to discern spiritual things. He is white in the spotless innocence of his life, ruddy in the bleeding sufferings he went through at his death. This description of the person of the Beloved, would form, in the figurative language of those times, a portrait of beauty of person and of grace of manners; but the aptness of some of the allusions may not appear to us. He shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all that believe. May his love constrain us to live to his glory.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
His hands are as gold rings, set with the beryl,.... Beryl is with great propriety mentioned, because it was usual to wear it on the fingers (z). This was one of the precious stones in the breastplate of the high priest, a type of Christ, Exodus 28:20; one of the pearl foundations of the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:20; the appearance of the wheels in Ezekiel's vision was like it, Ezekiel 1:16; the body of the glorious person, seen by Daniel, is said to be as that, Daniel 10:6; so that it is no wonder the hands of Christ should be compared to gold rings set with it. The word "tarshish", here rendered by "beryl", is sometimes used for the "sea"; and naturalists (a) tell us, that the best beryl is that which most resembles the colour of the sea; so all the three Targums, on Exodus 28:20; call it , from its sea colour; and some versions have it here, "the sea coloured beryl" (b). Some think the chrysolite is meant, so called from Tarshish, a city in the Indian sea, from whence it was brought, 1 Kings 10:22; which is a precious stone, of a golden colour. Others take it to be the "hyacinth", or "jacinth", which is of a violet or purple colour. Cocceius is of opinion that the "sardonyx" in intended, a composition of the "sardius" and "onyx" stones; and is of a white and ruddy colour, and much resembles the nail of a man's hand; which it was usual to set in rings wore on the hand; and a hand adorned with a ring set with a sardonyx, Martial calls "sardonychata manus" (c). Now Christ's hands, which are the instruments of action, may be compared to "gold rings", set with one or other of these stones; because of the variety of his works in nature, providence, and grace; and because of the preciousness and value of them; and because of their perfection and completeness; the circular form being reckoned the most perfect: and never do the hands of Christ appear as thus described, and look more beautiful and lovely, than when he is beheld as grasping, holding, and retaining his people in his hands, out of which they never be plucked; and who are as so many gold rings, jewels, pearls, and precious stories, in his esteem; and as holding the bright stars, the ministers of the word, in there, who sparkle in their gifts and graces, like so many gems there: and particularly this may be expressive of the munificence and liberality of Christ, in the distribution of his gifts and graces to his people, so freely and generously, so largely and plenteously, and so wisely and faithfully, as he does; and a beautiful sight it is, to the eye of faith, to behold him with his hands full of grace, and a heart ready to distribute it;
his belly is as bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires: which most of the ancient interpreters understand of the human nature of Christ, described by one part of it, because of its frailty and weakness in itself; and is compared to bright ivory, partly because of its firmness and constancy in suffering, and partly because of its purity, holiness, and innocence; and is said to be "overlaid with sapphires", because of its exaltation and glory at the right hand of God. The words may be rendered, "his bowels are as bright ivory", &c. (d); as in Sol 5:4; and may express the love, grace, mercy, pity, compassion of Christ to the sons of men; compared to "ivory", or the elephant's teeth, for the excellency of it, Christ's love being better than life itself; and for the purity and sincerity of it, there being no hypocrisy in it; and for the firmness, constancy, and duration of it, it being from everlasting to everlasting, without any change or variation; and to an overlay or enamel of "sapphires", for the riches, worth and value of it, it being preferable to all precious stones, or that can be desired. Some interpreters are of opinion, that not any part of the body, the belly or bowels, are here meant, but rather some covering of the same; for seems not so agreeable with the rules of decency, nor consistent with the spouse's modesty, to describe her beloved by those parts to the daughters of Jerusalem; nor with the scope of the narration, which is to give distinguishing marks and characters, by which they might know him from another. Aben Ezra thinks the girdle is meant; which either may be his royal girdle, the girdle of righteousness and faithfulness; or his priestly girdle, said to be of gold; see Isaiah 11:5; or his prophetic girdle, the girdle of truth. The allusion may be to the embroidered coat of the high priest: in the holes and incisures of which, as Jarchi says, were put jewels and precious stones: or rather to the ephod with the breastplate, in which were twelve precious stones, and among these the sapphire; and which may represent Christ, as the great High Priest, bearing all his elect upon his heart in heaven; having entered there, in their name, to take possession of it for them, until they are brought into the actual enjoyment of it.
(z) "Et solitum digito beryllum adederat ignis", Propert. l. 4. Eleg. 7. v. 9. (a) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 5. Solin. Polyhistor. c. 65. Ruaeus de Gemmis, l. 9. c. 8. De Boot Hist. Gemm. l. 2. c. 70. Dionys. Perieg. v. 1012. (b) "beryllo thalassio", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (c) Epigr. l. 2. Ep. 25. (d) "viscera ejus", Marckius, Michaelis.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. rings set with … beryl—Hebrew, Tarshish, so called from the city. The ancient chrysolite, gold in color (Septuagint), our topaz, one of the stones on the high priest's breastplate, also in the foundation of New Jerusalem (Re 21:19, 20; also Da 10:6). "Are as," is plainly to be supplied, see in So 5:13 a similiar ellipsis; not as Moody Stuart: "have gold rings." The hands bent in are compared to beautiful rings, in which beryl is set, as the nails are in the fingers. Burrowes explains the rings as cylinders used as signets, such as are found in Nineveh, and which resemble fingers. A ring is the token of sonship (Lu 15:22). A slave was not allowed to wear a gold ring. He imparts His sonship and freedom to us (Ga 4:7); also of authority (Ge 41:42; compare Joh 6:27). He seals us in the name of God with His signet (Re 7:2-4), compare below, So 8:6, where she desires to be herself a signet-ring on His arms; so "graven on the palms," &c., that is, on the signet-ring in His hand (Isa 49:16; contrast Hag 2:23, with Jer 22:24).
belly—Burrowes and Moody Stuart translate, "body." Newton, as it is elsewhere, "bowels"; namely, His compassion (Ps 22:14; Isa 63:15; Jer 31:20; Ho 11:8).
bright—literally, "elaborately wrought so as to shine," so His "prepared" body (Heb 10:5); the "ivory palace" of the king (Ps 45:8); spotless, pure, so the bride's "neck is as to tower of ivory" (So 7:4).
sapphires—spangling in the girdle around Him (Da 10:5). "To the pure all things are pure." As in statuary to the artist the partly undraped figure is suggestive only of beauty, free from indelicacy, so to the saint the personal excellencies of Jesus Christ, typified under the ideal of the noblest human form. As, however, the bride and bridegroom are in public, the usual robes on the person, richly ornamented, are presupposed (Isa 11:5). Sapphires indicate His heavenly nature (so Joh 3:13, "is in heaven"), even in His humiliation, overlaying or cast "over" His ivory human body (Ex 24:10). Sky-blue in color, the height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ (Eph 3:18).
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