Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou fairest among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside? that we may seek him with thee.The question put by the chorus, and the answer it receives from the bride, show that the loss and seeking are not to be taken too seriously.
My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.
I am my beloved's, and my beloved is mine: he feedeth among the lilies.
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.The section might be entitled, "Renewed declaration of love after brief estrangement."
Tirzah ... Jerusalem - Named together as the then two fairest cities of the land. For Jerusalem compare Psalm 48:2. "Tirzah" (i. e., "Grace" or "Beauty ")was an old Canaanite royal city Joshua 12:24. It became again a royal residence during the reigns of Baasha and his three successors in the kingdom of the ten tribes, and may well therefore have been famed for its beauty in the time of Solomon.
Terrible as ... - Awe-inspiring as the bannered (hosts). The warlike image, like others in the Song, serves to enhance the charm of its assured peace.
Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair is as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.Even for the king the gentle eyes of the bride have an awe-striking majesty. Such is the condescension of love. Now follows Sol 6:5-7 the longest of the repetitions which abound in the Song, marking the continuance of the king's affection as when first solemnly proclaimed Sol 4:1-6. The two descriptions belong, according to some (Christian) expositors, to the Church of different periods, e. g. to the primitive Church in the splendor of her first vocation, and to the Church under Constantine; other (Jewish) expositors apply them to "the congregation of Israel" under the first and second temples respectively.
Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins, and there is not one barren among them.
As a piece of a pomegranate are thy temples within thy locks.
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and blessed her; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her.The king contrasts the bride with the other claimants for her royal estate or favor Sol 6:8. She not only outshines them all for him, but herself has received from them disinterested blessing and praise.
This passage is invaluable as a divine witness to the principle of monogamy under the Old Testament and in the luxurious age of Solomon.
Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners?The chorus address the bride here only as the Shulamite, and beg her to perform for their entertainment a sacred dance (see Sol 6:13) of her own country. The bride, after complying with their request, while they sing some stanzas in her praise Sol 7:1-5, and after receiving fresh commendations from the king Sol 7:6-10, invites him to return with her to her mother's house Cant. 7:11-8:4. Many Jewish allegorists interpret the whole as referring to the times of the second temple, and to the present dispersion of Israel, during which, God continuing to vouchsafe His mercy, Israel prays for final restoration, the coming of Messiah, and the glory of the latter day. Christian interpreters have made similar applications to the now militant Church looking for the Second Advent, or to the ancient synagogue praying for the Incarnation.
As the morning - The glorious beauty of the bride bursts upon them like a second dawn, as she comes forth to meet them at the commencement of another day. Special poetical words are used for "sun" (burning heat) and "moon" (white one). The same terms are applied to sun and moon in Isaiah 24:23; Isaiah 30:26.
I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.The bride's words may be paraphrased: "You speak of me as a glorious beauty; I was lately but a simple maiden engaged in rustic toils. I went down one day into the walnut-garden" (the walnut abounded on the shores of Lake Gennesaret, and is still common in Northern Palestine) "to inspect the young plants of the vale" (i. e., the wady, or watercourse, with now verdant banks in the early spring after the rainy season), "and to watch the budding and blossoming of vine and pomegranate." Compare Sol 2:11-13 notes. "Then, suddenly, ere I was myself aware, my soul" (the love-bound heart) "had made me the chariot of a lordly people" (i. e., an exalted personage, one who resides on the high places of the earth; compare 2 Kings 2:12; 2 Kings 13:14, where Elijah and Elisha, as the spiritual leaders of the nation, are "the chariot and horsemen of Israel," compare also Isaiah 22:18). This last clause is another instance of the love for military similitudes in the writer of the Song.
Ammi-nadib - literally, my people a noble one. The reference is either to Israel at large as a wealthy and dominant nation, under Solomon, or to the bride's people (the Shulamites) in particular, to the chief place among whom, by her union with the king, she is now exalted.
Or ever I was aware, my soul made me like the chariots of Amminadib.
Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.Return, return - About to withdraw, the bride is recalled by the chorus, desiring yet a little longer to contemplate a grace and beauty which has won all hearts.
Shulamite - Probably the same as "Shunamite," i. e., a native of the town or district of Shunem, situated in the territory of Issachar Joshua 19:18, on the slopes of the Little Hermon, overlooking the plain of Jezreel. It is now called Salem.
See - Look or gaze at. The bride's modest reply, taking up their words, and wondering at their request. The chorus answer with a further petition.
As it were the company of two armies - Or, rather, the dance of Mahanaim (see the margin), a well-known sacred dance, taking its name from the locality in which it originated Genesis 32:2; Joshua 21:38. Some, taking "Mahanaim" to be an ordinary designation for "the Angels" or "Angelic Hosts," render here "a dance as it were of angel-choirs," i. e., one of special grace and beauty. The former of these interpretations is to be preferred.