Song of Solomon 5
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures

Shulamith’s longing for her home again awakened.

SONG 5:2–8:4



(SONG 5:2–6:3)

SHULAMITH (relating a dream).

2 I1 was sleeping, but my heart was waking2

Hark!3 my beloved is knocking:

‘Open4 to me, my sister,

my dear, my dove, my perfect;5

for6 my head is filled with dew,

my locks with drops of the night!’

3 “I7 have taken off my dress,

how shall I put it on?

I have washed my feet,

how8 shall I soil them?”—

4 My9 beloved extended his hand through the window,10

and I was inwardly excited11 for him.

5 Up I rose to open to my beloved,

and my hands dropped with myrrh,

and my fingers with liquid myrrh,

upon the handle of the bolt.

6 I opened to my beloved,

and my beloved had turned12 away, was gone;

my soul failed,13 when he spoke;14

I sought him but I did not find him,

I called him but he answered me not.

7 Found15 me then the watchmen, who go around in the city;

they struck me, wounded me,

took my veil16 off from me,

the watchmen of the walls.

8 I17 adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

if ye find my beloved—

what shall ye tell him?

“that I am sick of love.”


9 What18 is thy beloved more than (any other) beloved,19

thou fairest among women?

What is thy beloved more than (any other) beloved,

that thou dost adjure us thus?


10 My20 beloved is white and ruddy,

distinguished above ten thousand.

11 His head is pure gold,

his locks are hill upon hill,21

black as a raven.22

12 His eyes like doves by brooks of water,

bathing in milk, sitting on fulness.23

13 His cheeks like a bed of balm,

towers of spice plants;24

his lips lilies,

dropping liquid myrrh.

14 His hands golden rods,

encased in turquoises;25

his body a figure of ivory,

veiled with sapphires.

15 His legs columns of white marble

set on bases of pure gold;

his aspect like Lebanon,

choice26 as the cedars.

16 His palate27 is sweets,28

and he is altogether precious.29

This is my beloved, and this30 my friend,

ye daughters of Jerusalem.


VI. 1 Whither31 has thy beloved gone,

thou fairest among women?

whither has thy beloved turned,

that we may seek him with thee?


2 My32 beloved has gone down to his garden,

to the beds of balm33,

to feed34 in the gardens

and to gather lilies.35

3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,

who feeds among the lilies.



(SONG 6:4–7:6)


4 Fair36 art thou, my dear, as Tirzah,

comely as Jerusalem, terrible37 as bannered38 hosts,

5 Turn away thine eyes from39 me,

for they have taken me by storm.40

Thy hair is as a flock of goats,

reposing on Gilead.

6 Thy teeth as a flock of sheep,41

that go up from the washing,

all of which have twins,

and there is not a bereaved one among them.

7 Like a piece of pomegranate thy cheek

from behind thy veil.—

8 There are sixty queens

and eighty concubines

and virgins without number.

9 My dove, my perfect is one,42

the only one43 of her mother,

the choice44 one of her that bare her.

Daughters saw her and called her blessed,

queens and concubines and they praised her:

10 “Who45 is this, that looks forth like the dawn,

fair as the moon, pure as the sun,

terrible as bannered hosts?”46


11 To47 the nut48 garden I went down,

to look at the shrubs of the valley,

to see whether the vine sprouted,

the pomegranates blossomed.

12 I49 knew it not, my desire brought me

to the chariots of my people, the noble.


VII. 1 Come50 back, come back, Shulamith,

Come back, come back, that we may look upon thee.


What51 do you see in Shulamith?


As the dance of Mahanaim.


2 How52 beautiful are thy steps in the shoes, O prince’s daughter,

thy rounded53 thighs are like jewels,

the work of an artist’s hands.

3 Thy navel is a round bowl,54

let not mixed wine be lacking!55

thy body is a heap of wheat,

set56 around with lilies.

4 Thy two breasts are like two fawns,

twins of a gazelle.

5 Thy neck like a tower of ivory,

thy eyes like pools in Heshbon

at the gate of the daughter of multitudes;

thy nose like the tower of Lebanon

which looks toward Damascus.

6 Thy head upon thee like Carmel,57

and thy flowing locks like purple—

a king fettered by curls !58



(SONG 7:7–8:4)


7 How fair art thou and how comely,

O love,59 among delights!60

8 This thy stature resembles a palm tree,

and thy breasts clusters.61

9 I62 resolve: I will climb the palm,

will grasp its branches,63

and64 be thy breasts, please, like clusters of the vine,

and the breath of thy nose65 like apples,

10 And thy palate66 like the best wine.….

SHULAMITH (interrupting him)

—going67 down for my beloved smoothly,68

gliding over the lips of sleepers.

11 I am my beloved’s,

and for69 me is his desire.——

12 Come,70 my beloved, let us go out to the country,71

lodge in the villages,

13 Start early72 for the vineyards;

we shall see whether the vine has sprouted,

its blossoms opened,73

the pomegranates flowered. …

there will I give thee my love.74

14 The mandrakes75 give forth their odor,

and over our doors are all sorts of excellent fruit,76

new as well as old,

(which), my beloved, I have laid up for thee.77

VIII. 1 O78 that thou wert as a brother of mine,

who sucked the breasts of my mother!

should I find79 thee without I would kiss thee,

yet80 none would despise81 me.

2 I would lead thee, bring thee to my mother’s house,

thou82 wouldst instruct me;

I would give thee to drink of the spiced wine,

of my pomegranate juice.

3 His left hand is under my head,

and his right embraces me.83

4 I84 adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,

that ye wake not, and that ye waken not

love; till it please.


1. The place of the action in this new section is without doubt the same as in the foregoing act. The dialogue with the daughters of Jerusalem (5:8, 9, 16; 6:1–3; 7:1); the mention of the “city” and the “keepers of its walls” in this fresh recital of a dream (5:2–7) which reminds one of its predecessor (3:1–5); the “garden” of Solomon, to which he has gone down, 6:2; finally and above all her appeal to her lover to go out with her “to the country” (7:12) and to the house of his chosen one’s mother (8:2), and there in the enjoyment of simple country pleasures to become to her “as a brother who had sucked the breasts of her mother” (8:1); all this points to the king’s palace at Jerusalem as the scene, and more probably to some room in this palace, than to “contiguous grounds” or “the royal gardens,” as is thought by DELITZSCH. The room in the Palace on Zion, which, according to scene 2 of the foregoing act, was used for the marriage feast, may very well be the one in which the whole of the present act was performed; for there is no indication any where of a change of scene, not even between 7:1 and 2, or between Song 5:6 and 7 of the same chapter (vs. DEL.).—The time of the action is determined by its characteristic contents to have been some days or weeks later than the wedding festivities described in act third. For the relation of love so pure and happy at the beginning has since suffered certain checks and interruptions, which reveal themselves on the part of Shulamith at least by various symptoms of uneasiness, nay, of sadness and dejection, without her betraying, however, that she has been at all wounded or actually injured by her husband. The dream, which she tells her companions at the beginning of the section that she has very recently had in the night, begins exactly like the preceding, and runs on partly in the same way. It does not, however, end as that does in a bright and joyous manner, but with pain and fright. Seeking her beloved by night, she not only fails to find him—she is beaten and robbed by the watchmen! Her gloomy misgiving in respect to the unfaithfulness of her lover, expressed in her apprehension that she might soil her feet again, which had just been washed (5:3, see in loc.), proves to be only too correct, and drives her therefore with an anxious and troubled heart to have it said to her lover, who has actually forsaken her for a time, “that she is sick of love”—of loving solicitude about his heart partially averted and alienated from her (5:8)! She expresses this solicitude, it is true, not by open complaint; on the contrary, in what follows she sedulously avoids dropping any thing to the disadvantage of her husband in the hearing of the ladies of the court (5:10–16), she apologizes for his leaving her by the harmless assumption that he may have gone “to feed in the gardens and to gather lilies,” 6:2, and only inserts in her exclamation at the close an allusion indicative of painful longing in respect to the way that she wishes to be and to remain her beloved’s, viz., that he should now as formerly “feed among the lilies,” that he should be and remain a guileless, pure and simple-hearted country lover (6:3)!—When, therefore, Solomon himself returns to her after a considerable absence, the manifestations of her partial dissatisfaction with him assume a somewhat altered form. She regards him gravely and sternly, and thus leads him in the picture of her beauty and loveliness, which, full of ecstacy, he again begins to sketch (6:4 ff.; comp. 4:1 ff.) to introduce some allusions to her “terribleness” (6:4, 10), as well as to the effect of the glance of her eyes (6:5a), which “overcome” or “dismay” him. The spirited statement of the prior rank accorded to her above all his wives and virgins, into which this description finally passes (6:8–10), she leaves wholly unnoticed; nay, she answers it with a description of what she once did and was engaged in, when a simple country maid in happier circumstances, and with more agreeable surroundings (6:11), and thereupon she gives him plainly enough to understand that the elevation bestowed upon her in consequence of her love “to the state-carriages of her people, the noble,” i.e. to the highest rank among the nobles of her people, had also led to her being painfully undeceived (6:12). She even wishes to escape from the society of the voluptuous ladies of the court, which has become irksome to her, and she is induced to return and remain, not so much by their urgent entreaties and representations (7:1) as simply and alone by her unconquerable love to Solomon, whom she hopes finally to free from his corrupt surroundings and to gain wholly for herself and for the purer pleasures of her life at home.—To the new and exaggerated laudation of her charms, in which her lover hereupon indulges (7:2 ff.) she listens in silence; as in one place at least they offend against the rules of modesty (7:3), she deigns not to answer. Not until the other ladies had left her alone with Solomon, does she venture to open her heart to him and to give free expression to her longing desire, which has been most strongly aroused, to return to her home and to have her lover changed from a voluptuous servant of sin to an innocent child of nature like herself. She does this by interrupting (7:10) the fond language of her husband just where it had become most urgent and tender, and chiming in with what had been begun by him. With extraordinary address and delicacy she first, as it were, disarms and fetters him (7:10, 11) and then brings her desire before him with such overpowering force and urgency that refusal is impossible, and he is borne along as on the wings of the wind by her pure love, which triumphs thus over the enticements and temptations of his court (7:12 ff.). He need not utter a word of express consent to her request; she has him completely in her power, and as he has just called himself “a king fettered by her locks” (7:6), she but briefly refers to the fact, that his whole desire is toward her (7:11b), that “his left arm is under her head, and his right embraces her” (8:3), and then leaves the scene on the arm of her beloved with that exclamation twice before uttered to the daughters of Jerusalem (8:4), and which this time has the force of farewell advice.85

2. The sketch here given of the inner progress of the action in the course of this act departs in several important particulars from the view of the later interpreters; but it appears to us to be the only one which corresponds with the language and the design of the poet. It is principally distinguished from the view of DELITZSCH, which approaches it most nearly, by its taking the “little disturbances” and troubles in the life of the newly married pair, which this scholar also affirms, to be more serious and real, and not restricting them for instance barely to the tragic contents of that story of her dream (5:2–7) but letting the dissatisfaction of the chaste bride with the voluptuous conduct of the king and his court come properly forward as the actual cause of the clouded horizon of their married state. Our view too repels the assumption shared by DELITZSCH with several recent commentators, but destitute of proof, that the description of Shulamith’s charms contained in 7:2 ff. was occasioned by a “country-dance” which she was executing before him and the ladies of the court,—a hypothesis dubious in every point of view, and upon which Shulamith’s character could scarcely be freed from moral taint (for the dance in question, the “dance of Mahanaim” can scarcely be conceived of as other than an unchaste pantomime); and from this it would be but a single step to the notion of RENAN that Solomon in this passage describes the charms of a danseuse of the harem, or to the similar one of HITZIG, that the king is here “cooing round a concubine.” Finally our view differs in one point at least from that of DELITZSCH in respect to the division into scenes, inasmuch as it rejects the opening of a new scene or even act after 6:9 (comp. in loc., as well as the Introduction, § 2, Rem. 2), and consequently takes the whole to be one act with three scenes, of which the first extends to 6:3; the second to 7:6; and the third from that to 8:4. Against the assumption of a point of division after 7:6 it has often indeed been urged (see e.g.EW., HITZ., WEISSB., and HENGSTENB. too) that the passage 7:2–10 forms a continuous description of the beauties of the beloved, beginning with her feet and ending with her nose and palate. But with the more general exclamation 7:7, “How fair and how delightful art thou, O Love, among the joys!” this description evidently assumes an entirely different character from that it had before in Song 5:2–6, where the individual members are enumerated very much as had been done previously (4:1–3 and 6:5–7) only in inverted order, and certain comparisons are instituted with them. And what Shulamith says to her lover (7:10 ff.) in the closest connection with the second description (or rather interrupting it and proceeding of her own motion), is of such a nature that it can scarcely be conceived of as spoken in the presence of the “daughters of Jerusalem,” who had been present before. On which account DELITZSCH’S assumption that a new scene begins with 7:7, does not in fact deserve so unceremonious an epithet as that of “purely gratuitous,” which HITZIG bestows upon it. The assumption of HITZ., BÖTTCHER, REN. and HENGSTENBERG that a new scene does not begin until 7:12, might with equal propriety be denominated gratuitous; and so might many other modes of division which differ from ours, e.g., that followed by EWALD, DÖPKE, BÖTTCHER, HITZ., HENGSTENB., etc., and in general by most of the recent writers according to which a new scene opens with 7:2; that of VAIH. and others (particularly the older writers) which begins this new scene with 7:1; the assertion of EWALD that 6:10–7:1 is a dialogue between the ladies of the court and Shulamith which is repeated by Solomon, etc. The question as to the beginning and end of the scenes in this act moreover appears to be of little consequence, inasmuch as the locality of the action, as has been before shown, does not change.86 The only matters involved are 1) an entrance at 6:4 of Solomon, who had not been present before and 2) an exit or retirement of the chorus in the neighborhood of 7:6, or 7:11. And this retirement of the chorus is furthermore, as is shown by the epiphonema 8:4, probably not to be conceived of as a total disappearance but simply as a withdrawal to the background, as toward the end of Act first (see above, p. 62).

3. SCENE FIRST. a.SHULAMITH’S STORY OF HER DREAM,5:2–8.—This like the similar passage 3:1–5 must be a dream, which Shulamith had had shortly before, and which she now relates as indicative of the state of her mind. In opposition to the opinion that Shulamith is relating a real outward occurrence (DÖPKE, HAHN, WEISSB., etc.) may be urged both the analogy of that prior passage and that such an affair is inconceivable in the history of Solomon’s love to Shulamith. It would have conflicted with decorum for that, which is narrated in vs. 2–5, to have actually taken place; and for the favorite of the king to have been beaten and robbed by the city night watch as is related Song 5:7, would form the non plus ultra of historical improbability. Besides the visionary character of the experience described is indicated not only by the introductory words, when correctly explained, “I was sleeping but my heart was waking,” but also by several characteristic particulars, as Song 5:3 and 6.

Song 5:2. I was sleeping but my heart was waking.HITZIG adduces a striking parallel to the thought that in a dream the heart or spirit is awake, while the rest of the person sleeps, from CIC. de divin. I. 30: “jacet corpus dormientis ut mortui, viget antem et vivit animus.”WEISSBAGH’S objections (p. 211) to this parallel as inadmissible amount to nothing. Comp. F. SPLITTGERBER, Schlaf und Tod, nebst den damit zusammenhängenden Erscheinungen des Seelenlebens (Halle, 1866), p. 37 ff., espec. p. 43: “The soul is still in the body during sleep, though freer from it than in the state of wakefulness. It is in a condition of inner self-collection and concentration in order that it may afterwards operate with the greater force upon the course of things around it in its particular sphere of life.” And p. 71, “The soul sinks down in sleep to its innermost life-hearth, and loses itself there in that potential self-consciousness, which forms the proper essential quality of our spirits;—whilst in dreams it lifts itself to a comparatively higher region, that of the dawning consciousness, as it were, a region which stands considerably nearer the surface of the outward life and the daily consciousness, which moves upon it, and whose images therefore leave behind more impressive traces in our memory, which extend into our waking moments.” Hence GÖSCHEL not incorrectly remarks: “If sleep is to be conceived of as depression, (καταφορά), dreaming is elevation (αναφορά).” From this statement also it further appears why the view maintained by GROT. and DÖPKE, that אני ישׁנה ולבי ער denotes a condition midway between sleep and wakefulness, a semi-sleep, is superfluous; an opinion by the way, which has the meaning of the words against it, for “I slept” is not the same thing as “I was half asleep.” The heart stands here in its customary O. Test. sense of the centre and organ of the entire life of the soul, not barely for the intellectual faculties of the soul, the region of thought, as HITZIG maintains. Comp. further on Prov. 2:10 (in this commentary.)—Hark, my beloved is knocking: Open to me, my sister, my dear, my dove, my perfect. Compared with the similar passage 2:8 this fond quadruple address shows a considerable advance in the relation between the loving pair. The predicate “my fair one,” which there stands with “my dear” is here wholly wanting, and is supplied by the more intimate “my sister,” which since Shulamith’s marriage had become the common pet name, by which Solomon called her (see 4:9, 10, 12, 5:1). He had it is true already said “my dove” to her before their nuptials (2:14, comp. again 6:9); but “my perfect” is an entirely new appellation (comp. likewise again 6:9), which it is likely was first adopted after their marriage, and by which Solomon probably designed to express her innocence and purity (תַמָּה perfect, integra) in contrast with the character of his other wives, who were not so perfect and pure. For he can scarcely have employed this appellation unmeaningly, as “my angel” among us (vs.DÖPKE and HITZ.), [nor can it mean as THRUPP alleges “mine perfectly or entirely.”]—For my head is filled with dew, my locks with drops of the night. The copiousness of the nightly fall of dew in Palestine is attested also by the well-known history of Gideon’s fleece, Judg. 6:38; comp. also Ps. 110:3; 2 Sam. 17:12; Mic. 5:6; Bar. 2:25. That Shulamith sees her lover come to her window dripping with the dew of the night, and chilly too in consequence, might seem to imply that she thought of him as a shepherd, who as ἀγραυλῶν “abiding in the field” (Luke 2:8) had had to endure wet and cold, and hence had sought shelter in her dwelling. But to explain that representation it is sufficient to assume that the first half of her dream (Song 5:2–4) transports her back to her home, or in other words that now in her dream, as she had done before when awake (see 1:7; 2:16; 4:6) she transfers her lover without more ado from the sphere of royalty to that of a shepherd’s life. That in the latter half of her dream (Song 5:6, 7) she thinks of him again as living in the city, and herself too as wandering about in the city looking for him, is a feature of the most delicate psychological truth, which has its analogue in the story of her previous dream, 3:1–4.

Song 5:3. I have taken off my dress.כֻּתָּנְתִּי lit., “my tunic, my under garment.” She here too thinks herself back again in her former humble circumstances, where she commonly wore nothing but a tunic, χιτών (comp. Ex. 22:25 f.; 2 Sam. 13:18, also Mark 6:9,) and consequently in the night was entirely unclothed with the exception of the warm covering or upper garment (שִׂמְלָה, Ex. ibid., Gen. 9:23; Deut. 22:17) under which she slept.—I have washed my feet: how shall I soil them? This is again another particular referring back to her former scanty mode of life in the country. She did not then wear the shoes, which since her elevation to be a prince’s daughter (7:2) she was now obliged to wear: on the contrary she ordinarily went barefoot in the house and in its immediate vicinity, except in long walks in the country when she wore sandals, (comp. Am. 2:6, 8:6; Deut. 29:4; Josh. 9:5). Hence the feet washed before going to bed might easily get dirty again on the floor of the house. The soiling of the feet is in the religious and ethical region a symbol of moral contamination from the petty transgressions of every-day life (John 13:10); and in the figurative language of dreams it is a well-known symbol of moral defilement reproved by the conscience and accompanied with shame, comp. (SCHUBERT, Symbolik des Traums, 3d edit. p. 13, SPLITTBERGER, ibid. p. 128 ff.87). It is therefore from going out to her lover, this symbol of more intimate and enduring intercourse with him, that she apprehends the soiling of her feet. Hence the objections which she makes to complying with his request, and the cold, almost indifferent, if not exactly “rude” (DEL.) tone of her answer.88

Song 5:4. My beloved extended his hand through the window.מִן־הַחוֹר lit., from the hole,89i.e., through the latticed window (for that is certainly what is intended here, as appears from 2:9, not a mere opening in the wall as HITZ. supposes) and from it toward me.90This gesture of extending (שׁלח) the hand in does not signify his intention to climb in through the window (HITZ.), nor his desire to gain access by forcibly breaking a hole through the wall (HENGSTENBERG after Ezek. 8:7, 8) [so WORDSWORTH], but is rather the expression of an urgent request to be admitted. The customary gesture of a petitioner is, it is true that of spreading forth his hands פָּרַשׂ כַּפָּיו (Ex. 9:29–31, etc.) But this could not be done in the present instance on account of the smallness of the window and the darkness of the night, and would besides have been unsuitable in relation to his beloved, for everywhere else it appears only as a usage in prayer. He must here, therefore, in craving admission adopt a gesture, which would at the same time express his longing to be united with his beloved (comp. DEL. and WEISSB. in loc.)—And I was inwardly excited over him; lit., “my bowels91 were agitated, sounded over him”—which according to Jer. 31:20; Isa. 16:11; 63:15 is equivalent to “I felt a painful sympathy for him.” This was of course because she had let him stand out in the wet and cold. According to the reading עָלַי (so the so-called Erfurt Ms., see DE ROSSIin loc.) the feeling expressed would be regret instead of pity: “my bowels were agitated on me” (i.e. in me, or over me, on my account—comp. HITZ. and Ew. in loc.) But this slenderly attested reading appears to have crept into the text from Ps. 42:6, 12, and for this reason to deserve no attention.

Song 5:5. Up I rose to open to my beloved.אֲנִי stands after קַמְתִּי without special emphasis, according to the more diffuse style of speaking among the people. So HITZ. no doubt correctly, whilst WEISSB., is certainly far astray in asserting that Shulamith means by this אֲנִי to emphasize “her entire person in contrast with any particular parts.”92And my hands dropped with myrrh and my fingers with liquid myrrh upon the handle of the bolt. That is to say, as my hands touched the handle of the bolt (or lock on the door of the house) in order to shove it back and open it, they dropped, etc.עַל כַּפּוֹת הַמַּנְעוּל, whose genuineness MEIER suspects without any reason, plainly shows that the dropping of myrrh did not proceed from Shulamith’s anointing herself, as she rose and dressed, (as MAGN. and WEISSB. imagine) [so too BURROWES], but from the fact that her lover had taken hold of the door on the outside with profusely anointed hands, and so had communicated the fluid unguent of myrrh to the bolt inside likewise.93 This might have resulted from the unguent flowing in from the outer lock through the keyhole (HITZ.), or some drops of myrrh from the hand of her lover inserted through the hole above the door, might have trickled down upon the inner lock, which was directly beneath (DEL). Too accurate an explanation of the affair seems inadmissible from the indefinite dreamlike character of the whole narrative. But at any rate an anointing of the outer lock of the door by the lover on purpose is not to be thought of (with LESS., DÖPKE, EW., VAIH., etc.) because though classic parallels94 may be adduced for this “silent homage of love,” none can be brought from oriental antiquity.—מוֹר עוֹבֵר is not “overflowing myrrh,”95i.e., dealt out in copious abundance (EW.), but myrrh exuding or flowing out of itself in contrast with that which is solidified and gum-like, σμύρνα στακτή in contrast with σμ. πλαστή (THEOPHR. Hist. Plant. 9, 4); comp. מרֹ דְּרוֹרEx. 30:23, as well as above on 1:13.

Song 5:6. I opened to my beloved, comp. on 5a.And my beloved had turned away, was gone. My soul failed when he spoke. That is, before, when he was speaking to me through the window (Song 5:2, 4), my breath for-sook me, my soul almost went out of me.96 It is consequently a supplementary remark, whose principal verb, however, is not necessarily to be taken as a pluperfect (vs. DÖPKE).—I sought him but I did not find him; I called him but he did not answer me. With the first of these lines comp. 3:2b; with both together Prov. 1:28; 8:17.

Song 5:7. Found me then the watchmen,etc. Comp. 3:3, HITZ. correctly: “In her previous dream the watchmen make no reply to her question; here without being questioned they reply by deeds.”—Took my veil off from me.רָדִיד (from רָדַד spread out, disperse, make thin) is according to Isa. 3:23 a fine light material thrown over the person like a veil, such as was worn by noble ladies in Jerusalem; comp. TARG. on Gen. 24:65; 38:14 where רדידא represents the Heb. צָנִיף.97נָ‍ֽשְׂאוּ מֵעָלַי certainly means not a bare “lifting” (MEIER), but a forcible tearing off and taking away of this article of dress; else this expression would not form with the preceding “they struck me, wounded me,” the climax, which the poet evidently intends.—The watchmen of the walls; not the subject of the immediately preceding clause (WEISSB.), but a repetition of the principal subject which stands at the beginning of the verse. In her complaint she naturally comes back to the ruffians who had done all this to her, the villainous watchmen.—“Watchmen of the walls,” whose functions relate as in this instance to the interior of the city, and who, therefore, were not appointed principally with a view to the exterior circuit walls, occur also Isa. 62:6.

Song 5:8. I adjure you,etc. For this expression, as well as the masc. form of address, comp. on 2:7.—What shall ye tell him? So correctly EW., HEILIGSTEDT, DEL., HENGSTENB. etc.; for although מָה sometimes expresses an earnest negative or prohibition, and might therefore be synonymous with אִם in 2:7; 3:5, yet the translation “do not tell him that I am sick of love” (WEISSB. and others) yields a less natural sense than the one given above, according to which Shulamith seeks to induce her lover to a speedy return by the intelligence of her being sick of love. And in fact she connects a charge of this purport to the daughters of Jerusalem immediately with the narrative of her dream, because this had already evidenced in various ways that she had an almost morbid longing for her lover (see especially Song 5:4, b; Song 5:6, 7.)


Song 5:9. What is thy beloved more than (any other) beloved, thou fairest among women? This question of the daughters of Jerusalem which serves in an admirable way to connect what precedes with the following description of the beauty of her lover, springs from the assumption readily suggested by Song 5:2–4, that Shulamith’s lover was some other than Solomon; an assumption admitted without scruple by the voluptuous ladies of the court, in spite of their knowledge of the fact that Shulamith had shortly before given her hand to the king as her lawful husband. It is therefore a question of real ignorance and curiosity,98 which they here address to Shulamith, not the mere show of a question with the view of leading her to the enthusiastic praise of the king who was well known to the ladies of the court and beloved by them likewise (DEL.); and quite as little was it a scornful question (DÖPKE, MEIER) or reproachful (MAGN.) or one involving but a gentle reproof (HITZ.)—against these last opinions the words “fairest among women” are decisive.

Song 5:10. My beloved is white and ruddy, distinguished above ten thousand. This general statement precedes the more detailed description of the beauties of her lover, which then follows Song 5:11–15 in ten particulars, at the close of which (Song 5:16) stands another general eulogium.—The aim of the entire description is evidently to depict Solomon, as one who is without blemish from head to foot, as is done 2 Sam. 14:25, 26 in the case of his brother Absalom. A commendation of his fair color, or his good looks in general fitly stands at the head of the description.—צַח lit., “dazzling white;” stronger than לָבָן; an expression which may be applied to a king’s son, but scarcely to a simple young shepherd from the country. His face might very well be called ruddy or brownish (as 1 Sam 16:12) but scarcely dazzling white; and it is to the face that the predicate mainly refers, as a comparison with Song 5:14 and 15 shows.—To white as the fundamental color is added the blooming red. (אָדוֹם) of the cheeks and other parts of the face both here in the case of Solomon and Lam. 4:7 in the description of the fair Nazarites of Jerusalem, which reminds one of the passage before us.—“Distinguished above ten thousand,” lit. “from ten thousand, or a myriad” (רְבָבָה), i.e., surpassing an immense number in beauty. Comp. Ps. 91:7, as well as the plur. רבבות Ps. 3:7; Deut. 33:17.—דָּגוּל from דֶּגֶל “standard, banner,” as in Lat. insignis from signum, denotes one that is conspicuous as a standard amidst a host of other men, signalized, distinguished above others, and מִן is again comparative as in Song 5:9. The expression is evidently a military one like נִגְדָּלוֹת 6:4, 10.

Song 5:11. His head is pure gold. The comparison is not directed to the color of the face, as though this was to be represented as a reddish brown (HITZ.), but to the appearance of the head as a whole. From the combined radiance of his fresh and blooming countenance, and of his glossy black hair adorned with a golden crown, it presented to the beholder at a distance the appearance of a figure made of solid gold with a reddish lustre. כֶּתֶם. according to GESEN., HENGSTENB., and others, equivalent to that which is hidden, concealed = gold that is treasured up; according to DIETRICH and others from כתם “to be solid, dense,” hence massive gold; according to HITZ., WEISSB., etc., equivalent to that which is reddish, of red lustre, which latter explanation is favored by Arabic parallels and by the expression נכתם Jer. 2:22. The adjective פָּז connected with it designates this gold as carefully refined and purified (comp. the Hoph. part. מוּפָּז with the like sense 1 Kin. 10:18).—His locks are hill upon hill. תַּלְתַּלִּים may be thus explained with DEL., WEISSB., etc., by deriving it from תָּלַל to raise, heap up (whence תֵּלִ a hill and תָּלוּל high, Ezek. 17:22). Commonly “palm branches,” (“flexible or curling palm branches” from תלל in the sense of “wavering or swaying to and fro”); or “pendent, hanging locks” (from תלהsuspendit—so HENGSTENB.); or “pendulous clusters of grapes” (as though תלתלּים = זַלְזַלִּיםIsa. 18:5—so HITZ.). The comparison reminds us somewhat of that with the flock of goats on Mount Gilead (4:2; 6:5); which was also designed to set forth his long curling locks piled one on another.—Black as a raven. Parallels to this simile from Arab, poets, see in HARTMANN, Ideal weibl. Schönheit, I. 45 f., comp. MAGNUS on Cant. 4:1 (p. 85) and DÖPKEin loc. The latter adduces particularly two verses of MOTANEBBI (from J. v. HAMMER, p. 11):

“Black as a raven and thick as midnight gloom,

Which of itself, with no hairdresser, curls.”

Song 5:12. His eyes like doves by brooks of water. On the comparison of the eyes with doves comp. 1:15. In this case it is not doves in general, but particularly doves sitting “by brooks of water” (lit. water-channels or beds) to which the eyes are likened doubtless in order to represent the lustrous brightness and the moisture of the white of the eye by a figure like that employed 7:5, and to place it in fitting contrast with the iris whose varied hues resemble the plumage of the dove.—Bathing in milk, sitting on fulness. A further description of the relation of the “doves” to the “brooks of water,” i.e. of the iris (with the pupil) to the white that surrounds it. These water-brooks here appear to be filled up with milk instead of water, and the doves answering to the irides of both eyes are represented as bathing in this milk and accordingly as “sitting on” or “by fulness”—in which there is an allusion likewise to the convex form of the eye (correctly the SEPTUAG., VULG., SYR., and after them HENGSTENB., WEISSBACH, etc.). מִלֵּאת, lit. “fulness,” an idea undefined in itself, is here limited by the preceding אפּיקי מים and therefore means “the fulness of the water-courses, that which fills them up” (WEISSB.); and the עַל which stands before it, indicates the same sense substantially of sitting by this fulness, as is expressed by the same preposition before אפיקי מים (comp. Ps. 1:3). Others take מִלֵּאת in the sense of “setting” as of a gem (comparing מִלֻּאַת אֶבֶןEx. 28:17) and hence translate “enthroned in a setting” (MAGN.) or “jewels finely set” (BÖTTCH., DEL., preceded by IBN EZRA, JARCH., ROSENM., WINER). But in opposition to this may be urged both the absence of אֶבֶן after the indefinite מלאת, and the prep. עַל instead of which בְּ might rather have been expected. More correctly COCCEIUS and DÖPKE, who explain it “over the setting” i.e. “over the edge of the brook,” though still they do violence to the natural meaning of מלאת.

Song 5:13. His cheeks like a bed of balm. The tert. compar. is not barely their delightful fragrance, but likewise the superb growth of beard upon his cheeks. Shulamith would scarcely have compared beardless cheeks with a bed of balm, i.e. a garden plot covered with plants. That she likens the two cheeks to but one bed may be explained from the fact that the beard, which likewise surrounds the chin and lips, unites them into one whole, which like the borders in many gardens has its two parallel sides (comp. HITZIG). The punctuation עֲרוּגתֹ, which the ancient versions seem to have followed (e. g, VULG.sicut areolæ aromatum”) and which WEISSB. still prefers, accordingly appears to be less suitable than the sing. עֲרוּגַת here retained by the Masorites; whilst the plur. עֲרוּגוֹת is unquestionably the true reading in 6:2.—Towers of spice plants. The expression מִגְדְּלוֹת מֶרְקָחִים is doubtless so to be understood, as explanatory apposition to עֲרוּגַת הַבּשֶֹׁם and the bed of balm is accordingly to be conceived of as a plot embracing several “towers” or pyramidal elevations of aromatic herbs, by which the rich luxuriance of his beard and perhaps also its fine curly appearance is most fitly set forth (EW., DELITZSCH, HENGSTENB., etc.). We can see no ground for the scruples, which are alleged to stand in the way of this explanation, or why we must with J. CAPPELLUS suppose a reference to “boxes of unguents” (pyxides unguentorum) or with HITZIG, FRIEDR., WEISSB., follow the SEPTUAG. (φύουσαι μυρεψικά) in reading the part. מְגַדְּלוֹת. The fem. plur. מִגְדְּלוֹת from מִגְדָּל is also attested by 8:10. The custom of raising fragrant plants on mounds of earth of a pyramidal or high tower-like shape, receives sufficient confirmation from 4:6 (the “mountain of myrrh” and the “hill of frankincense”). And the whole comparison appears to be entirely appropriate, if we but think of the beard on the chin and cheeks of her lover as not merely a soft down (HITZ.) but as a vigorous, finely cultivated and carefully arranged growth of hair. And in this we are justified in precise proportion as we rid ourselves of the notion of a youthful lover of the rank of a shepherd, and keep in view king Solomon in the maturity of middle life as the object of the description before us. Besides the circumstance that they were in the habit of perfuming the beard, as is still done to a considerable extent in the east (see ARVIEUX, R., p. 52; DELLA VALLE, II. 98; HARMER, Beobacht., II. 77, 83; REISKE on Tarafa, p. 46) may have contributed its share to the particular form of the comparison.—His lips lilies, dropping liquid myrrh.Of course it is not white but red lilies, lilies of the color, denoted 4:3 by the “crimson thread,” to which the lips of her lover are here likened. The “dropping of liquid myrrh” (comp. on Song 5:3) refers not to the lilies (SYR., ROSENM.) but directly to the lips. It serves to represent the lovely fragrance of the breath, which issues from her lips (comp 7:9); for the “loveliness of his speech” (HENGSTENB., comp. TARG.) is not mentioned till Song 5:316.

Song 5:14. His hands golden rods. Others, as COCCEI., GESEN., (Thesaur. p. 287), ROSENM., DÖPKE, VAIH., [so ENG. VER.], take גְּלִילֵי זָהָב to be gold rings, which they refer to the bent or closed hand, with allusion also to the fingernails colored with alhenna as compared with the jewels of the rings. Very arbitrarily, because 1) the curved or hollow hand must necessarily have been denoted by כַף; 2) the proper expression for ring would not have been גָּלִיל but חוֹתָם or טַבַּעַת; 3) מְמֻלָּאִים could no more express the idea of being “set with anything,” than turquoises standing with it could yield a figure even remotely appropriate for yellow-stained finger nails. גָּלִיל is rather roller, cylinder, rod, and the expression “golden rods” is applied primarily to the individual fingers with reference to their reddish lustre and finely rounded shape (comp. Song 5:11a) and then by synecdoche to the hands consisting of the fingers.99Encased in turquoises. Whatever precious stone may be intended by תַּרְשִׁישׁ, whether the chrysolite of the ancients (see SEPTUAG.,Ex. 28:17; 39:13) which seems to answer to our topaz; or what is now called the turquoise (a light-blue semi-precious stone); or the onyx, which HITZIG proposes (though this was called שֹׁהַםGen. 2:12, etc.), it is at all events in bad taste to understand by this encasing of the fingers in costly jewels anything but actual jewel ornaments with which his hands glittered, agreeably to the well-known custom in the ancient East of wearing many rings. (Comp. WINER, Realwörterb., ART.,Ringe” and “Siegelring”). The nails in and of themselves differed too little in color and lustre from the fingers and hands as a whole, to admit of their being compared with precious stones; and staining them with alhenna (comp. on 1:14) if practised at all in the time of Solomon, was most likely a custom restricted to women and which could scarcely have been likewise in use amongst men. On מִלֵּא in the sense of “encasing” (lit., to fill in the encasement or enclosure) comp. Ex. 28:17; 31:5; 35:33. “Golden rods encased in turquoise” or “with turquoise” are properly such rods filled into the body of jewels here named i.e. surrounded and glittering with them (comp. WEISSB. in loc.).—His body a figure of ivory, veiled with sapphires.מֵעָיו here, where the exterior parts of the body only are enumerated, is certainly not “his bowels, his inwards” (HENGSTENBERG), but “his body,” comp. 7:3, as well as Dan. 2:32, where מֵעִים also stands as a synonym of בֶּטֶן. It is only the pure white and the smooth appearance of the body, i.e. of the trunk generally, including the breast, thighs, etc., which can be intended by the comparison with an עֵשֶׁת שֵׁן a “figure of ivory” (עֵשֶׁת sing, of עַשְׁתּוֹת [but see GESEN. Lex. s. v.—TR.] forms, thoughts, Job 12:5), a comparison in which that ivory work of art restored by Solomon according to 1 Kin. 10:18 may have been before the mind of the speaker. The sapphires veiling the statue are naturally a figure of the dress of sapphire-blue or better still of the dress confined by a splendid girdle studded with sapphires. On the latter assumption the apparent “unsuitableness of the comparison” vanishes, which certainly would have to be admitted (HITZ.) if the sapphire referred to the azure color of the dress. For it would evidently be too far-fetched, with VAIH. to refer the sapphire to the “blue veins appearing through the splendid white skin of the body,” and this would neither comport with the deep blue color of the sapphire or lapis lazuli, nor with the expression “veiled, covered (מְעֻלֶּפֶת) with sapphires.”—There is accordingly an indirect proof of the royal rank and condition of Shulamith’s lover in the representations of this verse likewise, especially in its allusions to the ornaments of precious stones on the hands and about the waist of the person described.

Song 5:15. His legs columns of white marble. The figure of an elegant statue is here continued with little alteration. To understand the שׁוֹקַיִם simply of the lower part of the legs and to assume that Shulamith omits to mention the יְרֵכַיִםi.e. the upper part of the legs from a fine sense of decorum (HITZ.) is inadmissible, because שׁוֹקַיִם according to passages like Prov. 26:7; Isa. 47:2 appears to include the upper part of the leg, whilst יְרֵכַיִם according to Gen. 24:2; Ex. 28:42: Dan. 2:32, etc., denotes rather the loins or that part of the body where the legs begin to separate. Further, the mention of the legs and just before of the body could only be regarded as unbecoming or improper by an overstrained prudishness, because the description which is here given avoids all libidinous details and is so strictly general as not even to imply that she had ever seen the parts of the body in question in a nude condition. It merely serves to complete the delineation of her lover, which Shulamith sketches by a gradual descent from head to foot, and moreover is to be laid to the account of the poet rather than to that of Shulamith, who is in every thing else so chaste and delicate in her feelings.—The legs are compared with “white marble” (שֵׁשׁ) principally on account of the lustrous color of their skin, not with reference to their solidity; for an Arabic poet (AMRU B KELTH., Moal. Song 5:18) pictures even the legs of a girl as “pillars of marble and ivory;” and the figure of the marble column is also employed in a like sense by Greek poets and mythographers (comp. VAIH. in loc.). Set on bases of fine gold,viz., on the feet which are here named as the bases or pedestals of the columns (their יְסוֹד) without however going into any further description of them.100His aspect like Lebanon.מַרְאֶה not synonymous with קוֹמָה “stature” (7:8), but denoting his entire appearance, his whole figure and bearing comp. 2:14. By this comparison with Lebanon his figure is characterized as majestically tall and impressive, comp. Jer. 46:18. There is probably no allusion to the “lordly look” which Lebanon bestows upon his beholders (vs.ROSENM., MAGN.), and still less likelihood of a reference to the roots of the mountain penetrating deeply and extending widely in the earth as analogous to the “roots of her lover’s feet.” Job 13:27; Hos. 14:6 (vs.HITZ.).—Choice as the cedars; that is, stately and majestic as these giant trees which crown the summit of Lebanon.

Song 5:16. His palate (is) sweets.חֵךְ is not the mouth for kissing (MAGN., BÖTTCH.) but the palate as an organ of speech, as in Job 6:30; 31:30; Prov. 5:3; 8:7. HITZ. correctly: “It is speech which first betrays that the beautiful body described Song 5:10–15 has a soul;” whilst WEISSB. in asserting that the palate is here regarded as an organ of breathing like the lips Song 5:13, fails to perceive this advance from the corporeal to the spiritual and creates an unhandsome repetition. On the figure comp. Prov. 16:21; 27:9.—And he is altogether precious.כֻּלּוֹ “all of him” combines in one the sum total of the ten corporeal excellencies enumerated in Song 5:11–15 together with the last named endowment of a spiritual nature, and thus completes the portrait of her lover, whereupon there follows the general reference to the preceding description: “This is my beloved, and this my friend, ye daughters of Jerusalem.”

See Song of Solomon 8:1 for DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL.


[1][WICL., MAT.: The voice of the Church.]

[2]The unmistakably close connection of these words with what follows “Hark! my beloved knocking!” gives to both the participles יְשֵׁנָה and עֵר the sense of imperfects. HITZIG correctly says: “The connection makes the two partic. as well as דּוֹכֵּק express the relative past (comp. Jer. 38:26; Ex. 5:8); and this first part of the verse is therefore=בַּחֲלוֹמִי Gen. 41:17.”

[3]Lit. “The sound of my beloved knocking,” etc. Comp. 2:8. דּוֹכֵּק is not in apposition to דּוֹדִי, but the predicate, and for this reason is without the article; comp. Gen. 3:8 [see GREEN’S Chrestom., p. 95, on this passage]. HITZIG correctly: “קוֹל is just the knocking, and is known to be קוֹל דּוֹדָהּ by the accompanying words.”

[4][MAT.: Christ to the Church.]

[5][COV., MAT., CRAN., BISH.: darling. GENEV., ENG. VER.: undefiled.]

[6] שֶׁ· before ראשִׁי assigns the reason as אֲשֶׁר Eccles. 6:12, or as כִּי Cant. 2:11.

[7][MAT.: The voice of the spousess.]

[8]The prolonged form אֵיכָכָה instead of אֵיךְ or אֵיכָה serves to make the question more emphatic, like our “How could I. …? How can you ask me to. …?”

[9][MAT.: The voice of the Church speaking of Christ.]

[10][WICL., MAT.: hole. GENEV., ENG. VER.: hole of the door.]

[11][GENEV.: Mine heart was affectioned toward him. Marg. as ENG. VER.: my bowels were moved.]

[12] חמק cognate with חבק “to embrace” is substantially synonymous with סבב “to turn;” comp. the Hith. in the sense of “turning and forsaking,” Jer. 31:22, as well as the substantive חַמּוּקִים “that which is turned or rounded,” 7:2 below. “He had turned away” is now strengthened by adding the synonyme עבר to express his total disappearance. SYMMACHUS correctly: ἀπονεν̓σαζ ἀπῆλθε, and still better the VULG.:at ille declinaverat atque transierat;” for the pluperfect sense of the verbs is demanded by the context.

[13]Comp. Gen. 42:8: יָצָא לֵב. [COV., MAT.: Now like as aforetime, when he spake, my heart could not refrain. WICL., DOW.: melted. BURROWES: sunk in consequence of what he had said. NOYES, better: I was not in my senses while he spake.]

[14]Others read instead of בְּדַבְּרוֹ, בְּדָבְרוֹ and either explain this from the Arabic as equivalent to בְּעָבְרוֹ “at his going away, at his departure” (Ew., etc.) or (comparing the Arab. dabra אַחֲרֵי “behind him,” (HITZ.) with which UMBREIT’S reference of בְּדַֹבְּרוֹ to a verb דִּבֶּר “to follow” (“I went out to follow him”) substantially agrees. But all these explanations, as well as that of WEISSBACH, according to which we should read בִּדְכָרוֹ “on his account, for his sake,” lack the requisite confirmation in point of language.

[15][MAT.: The Church complaineth of her persecutors.]

[16][WICL.: mantle. COV., MAT.: garment. CRAN., BISH.: kerchief. DOW.: cloak.]

[17][MAT.: The spousess speaketh to her companions.]

[18][WICL.: The voice of friends saith to the Church. Which is thy lemman (lover) of the loved? MAT.: The voice of the Synagogue. Who is thy love above other lovers—or what can thy love do more than other loves?]

[19] מִדּוֹד beyond any one who is a beloved, i.e., more excellent than any other. דּוֹד here simply states the idea in a general form, and מִן is comparative, expressing the superiority of one thing above another, as in 10 b.

[20][WICL.: The voice of the Church of Christ saith to the friends. MAT.: The Church answering of Christ.]

[21][WICL.: as bunches of palms. DOW.: as the branches of palm trees. GENEV.: curled. ENG. VER.: bushy. THRUPP in imitation of the reduplicated form in Hebrew: flow flowingly.]

[22][COV., MAT.: brown as the evening.]

[23][COV., MAT.: remaining in a plenteous place. CRAN., BISH.: set like pearls in gold. GENEV.: remain by the full vessels. DOW.: sit beside the most full streams. ENG. VER.: fitly set; Marg.: sitting in fullness, that is, fitly placed and set as a precious stone in the foil of a ring.]

[24][COV., MAT., CRAN., BISH.: His cheeks are like a garden bed wherein the apothecaries plant all manner of sweet things.]

[25][COV., MAT.: His hands are full of gold rings and precious stones; his body is like the pure ivory, decked over with sapphires. CRAN., BISH.: his hands are like gold rings having enclosed the pleasant stone of Tharsis. DOW.: his hands wrought round of gold, full of hyacinths. GENEV.: his hands as rings of gold set with the chrysolite.]

[26] בָּחוּר “chosen, excellent” (not “young man,” as TARG., MAGN., EW., BÖTTCH. have it) is evidently intended to indicate the pre-eminence of the cedars above all other trees, their surpassing height and stately form. Comp. דָּגוּל Song 5:10 above, which is substantially synonymous, as well as the expressions מִבְחַר אֲרָזִים Jer. 22:7, and מִבְחוֹר בְּרשִׁים (together with קוֹמַת אֲרָזִים) 2 Kings 19:23. This word moreover belongs to מַרְאֵהוּ as its predicate; for it is too remote to refer it to the suffix attached to this word, or to a new subject derived from it (HITZ.).

[27][COV., MAT., DOW.: his throat. CRAN., BISH.: the words of his mouth. GENEV., ENG. VER.: his mouth; Marg.: palate.]

[28]On the plur. מַמְתַּקִּים “sweetnesses” see Ew. Lehrb. § 179, a [GREEN’S Heb. Gram. § 201, 1, a and c].

[29] מַחֲמַדִּים lit. “preciousnesses, desirable things;” comp. Joel 4:5; Hos. 9:16; 2 Chron. 36:19.

[30]On the repeated זֶה comp. Gen. 3:15.

[31][WICL.: The voice of holy souls, of the church. MAT.: The voice of the synagogue speaking to the church.]

[32][WICL., MAT.: The voice of the church.]

[33]In regard to עֲרוּגוֹת בֶּשֹׁם comp. on 5:13 above.

[34][COV., MAT., CRAN., BISH.: that he may refresh himself.]

[35][THRUPP: Note in the Hebrew of this verse not only the rhyme between בגנים and שושנים, but also the resemblance in sound between לערוגות and לרעות.COV., MAT.: flowers. CRAN.: roses.]

[36][WICL., MAT.: The voice of Christ to the church. WICL.: Fair thou art, my love, sweet and fair as Jerusalem. COV., MAT.: Thou art pleasant, O my love, even as loveliness itself; thou art fair as Jerusalem, glorious as an army of men with their banners.]

[37][GOOD, PERCY, TAYLOR, THRUPP: dazzling.]

[38] נִגְדָּלוֹת lit., provided with a דֶּגֶל banner, gathered about a standard (comp. Num. 1:52; 2:2; Ps. 20:6); not, “distinguished, select,” as WEISSB. misled by the affinity between this expression and דָּגוּל 5:10 supposes. The fem. נִגְדָּלוֹת is not to be explained by a מַחֲנוֹת understood (IBN EZRA), but it “expresses the idea of a collective, as in אֹרְחָה and גּוֹלָה” (HITZ.).

[39] WEISSB. preposterously: הֵסֵבִּי עֵינִַיךְ מִנֶּגְדִּי is equivalent to “turn thine eyes away from thee to me,” and then the only suitable sense in the second clause must be “thine eyes encourage me.” [So THRUPP: מִנֶּגֶד “opposite, over-against.” The full meaning is “Thou who art standing over against me, bend thou thine eyes so as directly to meet mine.”] Against this excessively artificial and over-refined interpretation of מִנֶּגֶד one single parallel is decisive, Isa. 1:16: הָסִירוּ — מנֶּגֶד עֵינַי “put away—from before mine eyes.”

[40]The Hiph. הרהיכ from רהב “to rage, be violent,” most probably expresses a sense corresponding to the predicate אֲיֻמָּה, consequently not “to encourage, inspire courage,” as in Ps. 138:3, but “to assault, violently excite, take by storm.” [COV., MAT.: make me too proud. CRAN., BISH.: have set me on fire. DOW.: make me flee away. ENG. VER.: overcome me; Marg.: puffed me up. THRUPP.: swell my heart with pride.]

[41]Verbally corresponding with 4:2, except in the more special הַקְצוּבוֹת “shorn” instead of the more general expression הָרְחֵלִים “lambs” used here. [This is the meaning of the word in Arabic, but in Heb. it means “ewes, sheep.”]

[42]The numeral אַחַת one, forming a marked contrast with the sixty, eighty, etc., receives its proper limitation from the added הִיא: one she, i.e., she only. [It is better to regard הִיא as the copula like הֵמָּה in Song 6:8. GREEN’S Heb. Gram. § 258, 2]. That אֲחֹתִי “my sister” which stands with יוֹנָתִי תַמָּתִי “my dove, my perfect” in the parallel passage 5:2, can have influenced the selection of אַחַת “one” in this place, is very improbable (vs. WEISSB.).

[43] אַחַת הִיא cannot be taken here otherwise than it was before; the predicate is, therefore, wanting after this expression, as well as after the parallel בָּרָה הִיא, and hence the predicate of the preceding clause, viz: “my dove, my perfect” must be supplied here again. The meaning therefore is “only one, she alone is my dove, my darling; she alone of her mother (i.e. her only daughter), she as separated or chosen of her that bare her.” So correctly WEISSB. in opposition to HITZ. who takes אַחַת the second time as the predicate and הִיא as subject: “she is the only one of her mother.”

[44]On בָּרָה electa (VULG.) from ברר “to separate,” comp. Ezek. 20:38; Jer. 23:28. [THRUPP: For the same reason that תמתי lit., “my perfect one” may be rendered “my own one” may כרה, lit. “pure one” be rendered “sole darling.” She is her parent’s “pure one”; and this would in fact be the best rendering, had not the word “pure” in its original sense become somewhat antiquated.]

[45][MAT.: The voice of the Synagogue. WICL.: Who is she, this that goeth forth as the morrow tide, rising fair as the moon, chosen as the sun? COV., MAT.: Who is she, this that peepeth out as the morning? fair as the moon, excellent as the sun.]

[46][GOOD, MOODY STUART and others: dazzling as the stars.]

[47][WICL.: The voice of the church, of the synagogue, MAT.: Christ to the synagogue. COV., MAT., CRAN.: I went down into the nut-garden to see what grew by the brooks, and to look if the vineyard flourished and if the pomegranates were shot forth.]

[48][CASTELL., PARKHURST: pruned garden as if אְגֶוֹז were from גָּזַז. THRUPP without authority proposes to substitute הַגּוֹי.]

[49][MAT.: The voice of the synagogue. Cov., MAT.: Then the chariots of the prince of my people made me suddenly afraid. CRAN., BISH.: I knew not that my soul had made me the chariot of the people that be under tribute. Dow.: My soul troubled me for the chariots of Aminadab. GENEV.: I knew nothing, my soul set me as the chariots of my noble people. ENG. VER.: My soul made me like the chariots of Ammi-nadib; Marg.: Set me on the chariots of my willing people. THRUPP: “All translations which introduce a preposition before ‘the chariots’—‘on,’ ‘to,’ ‘among,’ ‘on account of,’ etc., are grammatically untenable.” He renders: my soul had made me the chariots of my people the Freewilling.] נַכְּשִׁי שָׂמַתְנִי limits the meaning of the preceding לֹא יָדַעְתִּי, though there is no necessity of supplying כִּי. The relation is rather such that the preceding principal clause is logically subordinated to the limiting and explanatory clause annexed to it, and thus yields some such sense as “without my knowing it, unawares my desire, etc;” comp. Job 9:5, Isa. 47:11 as well as HITZ. and HENGSTENB. in loc. נַכְּשִׁי—which can neither be the object, nor in apposition with the subject of יָדַעְתִּי—might it is true, have the sense of “I myself” (comp. Hos. 9:4; Job 9:21; Ps. 3:3, etc.), but as the subject of the verb שָׂמַתְנִי obtains the sense of “desire, longing,” which is attested by Gen. 23:8; Job 23:13; 2 Kin. 9:15, etc.

[50][WICL.: The voice of the church to the faith of the neophyte. MAT.: The voice of the church calling again the synagogue.]

[51][WICL.: The voice of Christ to the church, of the synagogue. MAT.: Christ to the synagogue. What pleasure have ye more in the Shulamite than when she danceth among the men of war?]

[52][WICL., MAT.: The voice of Christ to the church. MAT.: O how pleasant are thy treadings with thy shoes.

[53]For חַמּוּקִים and its root חמק turn, revolve, see on 5:6, and for יְרֵכַיִם thighs, on 5:15.

[54][THRUPP: Note the homœophony in the Hebrew.] אַגַן הַסַּהַר “bowl of roundness” is of course equivalent to “round bowl,” see EWALD, § 287 f. [GREEN’S Heb. Gram. § 254, 6, a] The root סהר, as appears from the Samaritan, is synonymous with סחר “to go round, surround;” comp. on the one hand סֹחֵרָה “shield,” Ps. 91:14, and on the other hand סֹהַר castle, fortress, tower; also שַׂהֲרוֹן “little moon,” and the Talmudic סָהָר wall, fence.

[55][WICK.: Never needing drink. CON., MAT.: which is never without drink. Dow.: Never wanting cups. E. V.; which wanteth not liquor.]

[56] סוּגָה Aramæism for שׂוּגָה; literally “hedged in lilies.”

[57][GENEV.: scarlet. ENG. VER. Marg.: crimson.]

[58] רְהָטִים elsewhere “channels, water-troughs” are here manifestly the flowing ringlets or locks of her hair, comp. the Lat. coma fluens. [COV., MAT.: like the king’s purple folden up in plates. CRAN.: like purple and like a king going forth with his guards about him. Dow.: as a king’s purple tied to water-pipes. GENEV.: the king is tied in the rafters; with the marginal note “he delighteth to come near thee and to be in thy company.” ENG. VER.: the king is held in the galleries. WORDSWORTH: the king is bound or tied at the water-troughs, i.e. dispenses grace through the appointed channels.]

[59][WICL.: Thou most dearworth. COV., MAT.: my darling. GENEV.: O my love.]

[60][THRUPP, who is quite too fond of ingenious emendations: “O daughter of allurements. We may follow the SYRIAC and AQUILA in dividing the בתענגים of our Hebrew text into the two words בת ענגים.”]

[61][COV., MAT.: like the grapes.]

[62][WICL.: Christ of the holy cross saith. MAT.: The spouse speaking of the cross.]

[63][WICL., DOW.: fruits.]

[64][WICL.: The voice of Christ to the church. MAT.: The spouse to the spousess.]

[65][WICL.: The smell of thy mouth. DOW.: odor of thy mouth. COV., MAT.: the smell of thy nostrils. GENEV.: the savor of thy nose.]

[66][WICL., COV., MAT., DOW.: throat. CRAN.: jaws. BISH., GENEV, ENG. VER.: the roof of thy mouth.]

[67][WICL.: The church saith of Christ,—worthy to my love to drink, to the lips and to the teeth of him to chew. COV., MAT.: this shall be pure and clear for my love; his lips and teeth shall have their pleasure. CRAN,: which goeth straight unto my beloved and bursteth forth by the lips of the ancient elders. BISH.: which is meet for my best beloved, pleasant for his lips and for his teeth to chew. GENEV.: which goeth straight to my well-beloved and causeth the lips of the ancient to speak, DOW.: worthy for my beloved to drink and for his lips and his teeth to ruminate. ENG. VER.: that goeth down Sweetly (Marg. straightly) causing the lips of those that are asleep (Marg. the ancient) to speak, THRUPP: “In so difficult a passage some variations of text must be expected; and for שפּתי ישנים ‘the lips of the sleepers,’ the LXX, SYRIAC and AQUILA apparently concur in reading שפתי ושנים ‘my lips and teeth;’ to which reading the versions of SYMMACHUS and JEROME also lend partial and indirect support. It has, however, the disadvantage of being ungrammatical, the true Hebrew for ‘my lips and teeth’ being שפתי ושני. Moreover, the received text is decidedly upheld by the TARGUM, and yields a more appropriate meaning.”]

[68]On הוֹלֵךְ לְמֵישָׁרִים lit. “going according to evenness” (in an even, smooth way) comp. the similar הִתְהַלֵךְ בְּמֵישָׁרִים Prov. 23:31; also Isa. 8:6.

[69]On אֵלַי=עָלַי comp. Prov. 29:5; Ps. 36:3. [WICL.: I to my love and to me the turning of him. DOW.: I to my beloved and his turning is towards me. COV., MAT., CRAN.: There will I turn me unto my love, and he shall turn him unto me. BISH.: I am my beloved’s and he shall turn him unto me. GENEV.: I am my well-beloved’s (ENG. VER.: beloved’s) and his desire is toward me. GINSBURG: “It is for me to desire him. עָלַי lit. on me, i. e. it is upon me as a duty, thus 2 Sam. 18:11; Prov. 7:14.”]

[70][WICL.: The voice of the church to Christ. MAT.: The church speaking to Christ.]

[71]On יָצָא הַשָׂדֶה of going out of the city into the open country comp. also 1 Sam. 20:6.

[72]“To start early (הִשְׁכִּים) for the vineyards” i. e. to rise early and go to them, a constr. prægnans, comp. EW. § 282, c. [GREEN’S Heb. Gram. § 272, 3. WICL.: early rise we to the vine. COV., MAT.: in the morning will we rise betimes and go see the vineyard.]

[73]The Piel כִּתַּח is to be taken reflexively, “opened themselves” (DEL., HENGSTENB., MEIER), perhaps also inchoatively, “whether they are opening, are on the point of bursting” (EW., HEILIGST., VAIH. etc.). For סְמָדַד comp. on 2:13.

[74]On אֶתֵּן אֶת־דּוֹדַי comp. Prov. 29:17. [WICL. omits. COV., MAT., CRAN. BISH., my breasts.]

[75][WICL.: the mandrakes give their smell in our gates. All apples new and old, my love, I kept to thee. COV., MAT.: there shall the mandragoras give their smell beside our doors; there, O my love, have I kept unto thee all manner of fruits both new and old.]

[76][GENEV.: All sweet things.]

[77]This last clause cannot be taken as an independent sentence (DÖPKE, ROSENM., HENGSTENB.) for then the verb would have “new fruit” likewise for its object. אֲשֶׁד must be supplied and the resulting relative clause must only be connected with the last predicate יְשֵׁנִים (correctly HITZ.).

[78][WICL., MAT.: The voice of the patriarchs speaking of Christ. WICL.: Who to me giveth [DOW. shall give to me] thee my brother sucking the teats [DOW. breasts] of my mother, that I find thee alone without forth [DOW. I may find thee without] and kiss thee. COV., MAT.: O that I might find thee without and kiss thee, whom I love as my brother, which sucked my mother’s breasts; and that thou wouldst not be offended if I took thee and brought thee, etc. CRAN.:—and that thou shouldst not be despised. I will lead thee and bring thee, etc.]

[79]On the conditional clause without אִם, and with nothing to mark the apodosis, comp. Hos. 8:12; Prov. 24:10; Judg. 11:36.

[80] גַם yet, nevertheless, see Ew. § 341, a, [GESEN. Lex. in verb.]

[81]On בּוּז see Song 7:7 below, Prov. 6:30. Instead of לִי me some inferior MSS. read לָךְ thee, which however seems far less appropriate, and has doubtless been repeated here from the close of the preceding verse. All the ancient versions read לִי. [GENEV.: they should not despise thee; Marg. me].

[82][WICL., DOW., GENEV.: Thou shalt teach me. COV., MAT., CRAN., BISH.: that thou mightest teach me. ENG. VER.: who would instruct me.]

[83]This exclamation differs from that in 2:6, with which in other respects it agrees verbatim, merely in the omission of לְ after תַּחַת, Just as תַּחַת stands alone also in Song 7:5 b, so likewise in Ex. 24:4; 32:19. We have already seen 6:3; 4:1; 7:4, etc. that the poet does not like exact verbal repetitions of formulas before used.

[84][WICL., MAT.: The voice of Christ.] Repeated with some freedom from 2:7; 3:5. In place of אִם there, a prohibitory מָה is introduced here (see EWALD, § 325, b, comp. also on 5:8 above) [AINSWORTH, with more scrupulous adherence to the form of the Hebrew expression; why should ye stir, and why should ye stir up the love.] And by omitting the gazelles and hinds of the field as well as contracting עד שתחכּץ into one word by means of Makkeph, a rhythmical reduction of the whole exclamation to a verse of but two members has been attained.

[85] [That Solomon had given Shulamith any occasion for disquietude, or that her pain at his absence arose from a suspicion of the constancy, warmth or purity of his affection, is the merest figment without the shadow of a foundation in the language of the Song. Solomon is Shulamith’s ideal as she is his. She does not utter one word of complaint to others or of reproach to him. There is nothing to imply that in her most secret thoughts she censures him for an absence which is intolerable to her. As far as there is any blame in the case, she casts it upon her own drowsy sluggishness, which forbore to open to him promptly and grant him the admission that he sought. Even this, however, occurring as it did in a dream, seems to be told not so much in a spirit of self-reproach as to demonstrate that she was “sick of love.” She longs for her beloved every moment, and, sleeping or waking, he is ever in her thoughts, and she is uneasy and restless when he is not by her side. But her confidence is unabated that she is her beloved’s and her beloved is hers, 6:3. Her language respecting him is that of affectionate admiration, 5:10, etc., and his to her is that of the most tender fondness, 6:4, etc. There has been a brief separation, but there is nothing to indicate so much as a momentary estrangement on her part or on his.

The current allegorical interpretations seem here to be at fault in one direction as much as that of ZÖCKLER errs in the other. The image of ideal love presented in the Song should not be marred by the untimely introduction of any thing outside of itself, whether the sins and inconsistencies of the church or of believing souls on the one hand, or the actual historical character of Solomon as learned from Kings and Chronicles on the other. We are not at liberty to put constraint upon the language here employed for the sake of making the bride mirror forth the deficiencies of the Church or of preserving the consistency of Solomon’s character as represented here with all that is recorded of him elsewhere.

The bride supplies an emblem of devoted attachment and faithful love, which is to be set before the Church as the ideal towards which she should tend, and after which she should aspire and struggle, rather than as a picture which has been or is realized in her actual life. It is a bride loving, longing for, delighting in her lord, but conscious of no unfaithfulness on her part and suspecting none on his.

And the bridegroom is equally removed from any charge of inconstancy. The military metaphor of 6:4, 5, to which ZÖCKLER appeals, is not suggestive of frowns or of displeasure any more than 4:4 or the strong language of 4:9. It is her incomparable charms, the batteries of beauty and of love which assault him with such resistless energy that he pleads for quarter. Nor is there any foundation for the desire attributed to Shulamith to escape from Solomon’s court or to have him forsake it on account of its presumed excesses. It certainly cannot be deduced from language which simply expresses an exquisite delight in natural objects, and a wish to enjoy them in the company of her beloved, and to possess the opportunity which would thus be afforded for uninterrupted and unrestricted converse. The language of the bride 7:11, 12 is entirely parallel to 2:10–13 in the mouth of her lover. And the indelicacy alleged in 7:2 is not in the pure language of the song, nor in the chaste and beautiful emblems employed, but must be wholly charged to the account of mal-interpretation. Commentators of what our author justly terms the profane-erotic class have put their own offensive glosses upon this Song; and some devout and evangelical interpreters have unfortunately made concessions which the facts of the case do not warrant. There is not the slightest taint of impurity or immodesty to he found in any portion of this elegant lyric.—TR.]

[86][The difficulty of finding a suitable beginning and close for these divisions suggests a doubt of their certainty, or at least of their importance.—TR.]

[87]A marked instance of this is to be found in the well-known dream of the youthful Ansgar at Corbie, of the broad morass, which prevented him from coming to his mother and other pious women, whom he saw in the company of the blessed virgin on a delightful road, comp. A. TAPPEHORN, Leben des heil. ANSGAR, Apostels Von Dänemark, etc. Munst. 1863, p. 69 f. RIMBERT, Vita S. Ansgarii, c. 2, in Pertz, Monum. Germaniæ Tom. II. p. 690.

[88][BURROWES states the true sense much more simply and correctly: “These words mean, that as the bride had retired to rest, she could not put herself to the trouble of arising even to let in the beloved.”]

[89][Not “withdrew his hand from the hole,” a rendering mentioned by AINSWORTH, disapproved by WILLIAMS, and adopted by BURROWES and GINSBURG.]

[90][PERCY: “It was the ancient custom to secure the door of a house by a cross bar or bolt; which at night was fastened with a little button or pin. In the upper part of the door was left a round hole, through which any person from without might thrust his arm, and remove the bar, unless this additional security were superadded.” THRUPP: “The hole is that through which according to the fashion of eastern doors, a person from without thrusts in his hand in order to insert the key and so to open it, see THOMSON The Land and the Book, chap. 22”]

[91][ALEXANDER (Comm. on Isa. 16:11): “The viscera are evidently mentioned as the seat of the affections. Modern usage would require heart and bosom. BARNES correctly applies to this verse the distinction which philologists have made between the ancient usage of bowels to denote the upper viscera and its modern restriction to the lower viscera, a change which sufficiently accounts for the different associations excited by the same or equivalent expressions then and now.”]

[92][THRUPP: “up I arose.” Literally “I arose.” So too at the beginning of the next verse the literal rendering is simply “I opened.” But in both places the use, contrary to the Hebrew custom of the pronoun אני “I” is emphatic; and seems to indicate an alertness and forwardness, which must in an English rendering be expressed in some other manner.]

[93][THRUPP thinks the myrrh came from the hands of the bridegroom, WORDSWORTH from those of the bride. WILLIAMS: “Commentators in general suppose that the perfume here called liquid myrrh, proceeded from the moisture of his hands, wet with dew; and the compliment in this view is very elegant and beautiful, implying that the fragrance of his body perfumed everything which came in contact with it. If the perfume, however, be referred to the spouse, I think it will imply that she had anointed herself with such luxuriancy that her fingers were still wet with myrrh; and this would partly account for her reluctancy to rise, since indulgence naturally induces sloth.” GOOD and PATRICK strangely imagine that in her haste to reach the door she overturned a vase of fragrance which agreeably to oriental practice she had prepared for her lover.]

[94] Particularly Lucretius, 4:1171:

At lacrimans exclusus amator limina sæpe

Floribus et sertis operit, postesque superbos

Unguit amaracino et foribus miser oscula figit.”

Comp. also Tibull. I. ii. 14; Athenæ. ed. Casaubon, I. 669.

[95][GOOD: “Pure or perhaps liquid myrrh, that which weeps or drops from the tree, the most esteemed but most expensive of this class of perfumes.”]

[96][NOYES gives the most satisfactory explanation of this expression: “I was not in my senses; literally, ‘my soul was gone from me.’ The meaning most suited to the connection is, that she acted insanely in not admitting her beloved at his request. It seems to denote that bewilderment of the faculties caused by fear, as in Gen. 42:28, or by any other passion; here by the passion of love.” Or rather the bewilderment intended would seem to be that strange want of self possession so common in dreams, in consequence of which a person does precisely the wrong thing, and as the result, finds himself in most embarrassing and trying situations. WESTMINSTER ANNOTATIONS: “My neglect of his speech troubled me when he was gone.” SCOTT: “Either she now recollected his former most tender and affectionate call which she had resisted; or he spake a reproving word as he withdrew, which filled her with extreme distress.” THRUPP: “My soul failed me for what he had spoken. Here the reference must be to the words uttered by the bridegroom when he first presented himself at the door: for there is no record of his speaking subsequently.” GINSBURG: “When he spoke of it, i.e., of his going away.” MOODY STUART: “My soul failed for his speaking; with mingled desire and fear she listens till her soul faints within her.”]

[97][THRUPP: “It seems to be generally agreed that the word רדיד occurring here, and at Isaiah 3:23, denotes a wide and thin garment, such as Eastern ladies to the present day throw over all the rest of their dress. The Germans well translate it Schleierkleid, veil-garment.” GOOD: “To tear away the veil from an Eastern lady is one of the greatest indignities that can be offered to her.”]

[98][Much better THRUPP: “That the dramatic form may be preserved a question is here put by the chorus of the Daughters of Jerusalem in order to furnish occasion for the description which follows.” It is also to he observed that the inquiry is not who he is, as though it implied their ignorance of his person, but what is he. They simply wish to draw from her her estimate of him.—TR.]

[99][THRUPP: “His hands are folding panels of gold. The word גליל is applied, as we learn from 1 Kings 6:34, to the separate portions of a folding door; the doors to the holy of holies consisted of two leaves, each of which in its turn consisted of two halves or folds. There is no passage in which the word denotes a ‘ring;’ nor would this meaning be here so appropriate. The image is that of a door, not necessarily a large door, constructed in four or five separate folds, corresponding to the appearance presented by the hand when the fingers, while kept in contact with each other, are stretched at full length.”]

[100](BURROWES: “These doubtless refer to the beauty of his sandals;” so GOOD, TAYLOR, WILLIAMS and others. This seems to be the better explanation notwithstanding GINSBURG’S objection: “That it refers to his feet and not to his sandals is evident from Song 5:11 and 14, where the head and the hands, the visible parts of the body, are described as golden; and it is but natural that the feet, the only remaining exposed parts, should also be described as golden.”)

I am come into my garden, my sister, my spouse: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice; I have eaten my honeycomb with my honey; I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved.
Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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