Psalm 45:8
All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) All thy garments smell of . . .—Or, perhaps, from the last verse (and comparing Psalm 133:2, and the customs there referred to), are anointed with. The spices mentioned may have been ingredients of the “oil of gladness.”

Myrrh . . . cassia.—These spices formed part of the sacred oil described Exodus 30:23-24. On the other hand, for the custom of perfuming clothes, beds, &c, comp. Song of Solomon 5:5; Proverbs 7:17.

For myrrh see Genesis 37:25.

Aloes.—Heb. ahālôth (sometimes ahālîm), a word formed from the native name aghil (Cochin China and Siam are its homes), which also appears in eagle-wood (Aquilaria agallochum). The lign aloes of Numbers 24:6, was most probably a different tree from that whose resin forms the precious perfume here mentioned. (See Bib. Ed. i. 243.)

Cassia.—See Note Exodus 30:24.

The Oriental’s love for these mixtures of many fragrant spices has been finely caught in some modern lines.

“Heap cassia, sandal-buds, and stripes

Of labdanum, and aloe-balls,

Smeared with dull nard an Indian wipes

From out her hair, such balsam falls

From seaside mountain pedestals,

From tree-tops where tired winds are fain—

Spent with the vast and howling main—

To treasure half their island gain.”

R. BROWNING: Paracelsus.

Out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad.—Rather, out of the ivory palaces music (literally, strings) has made thee glad.

Of the many conjectured explanations this, though somewhat grammatically doubtful, is in all other respects preferable. Indeed, it would have been strange if a nuptial ode, giving a picture of the splendour and pomp accompanying the marriage, had missed the mention of music, and at this verse we may imagine the doors of the palace thrown open for the issue of the bridal train (comp. the procession immediately after the bath in the weddings in the Arabian Nights), not only allowing the strains of music to float out, but also giving a glimpse into the interior, where, surrounded by her train of ladies, the queen-bride stands.

The word rendered “palace” (generally “temple,”) may from its derivation be only a spacious place, and so a receptacle. On the other hand, Amos 3:15 shows that ivory was frequently used as an ornament of the houses of the rich, and Ahab’s “ivory house” (1Kings 22:39) is familiar.

Psalm 45:8. All thy garments smell of myrrh, &c. — Wherewith they used to perfume their garments, Genesis 27:27. This may denote those glorious and sweet-smelling virtues, which, as they were treasured up inwardly in Christ’s heart, so did they manifest themselves outwardly, and give forth a grateful smell in the whole course of his life and actions; his doctrine also was a sweet savour unto God and men, 2 Corinthians 2:14-15. Out of the ivory palaces — The king is here supposed to reside in his ivory palaces, and his garments are so fragrant that they not only perfume the whole palace in which he is, but the sweet savour is perceived by those that pass by them; all which is poetically said, and with allusion to Solomon’s glorious garments and palaces. The heavenly mansions may not unfitly be called ivory palaces, as elsewhere, in the same figurative manner, they are said to be adorned with gold and precious stones; from which mansions Christ came into the world; into which Christ went, and where he settled his abode after he went out of the world; and from whence he poured forth all the fragrant gifts and graces of his Spirit. Although there is no necessity to strain every particular circumstance in such poetical descriptions; for some expressions may be used only as ornaments, as they are in parables; and it may suffice to know, that the excellences of the King Christ are described by things in which earthly potentates place their glory. Whereby they have made thee glad — Or, thou art made glad by the sweet smell of thy garments out of those ivory palaces, or the effusion of the gifts and graces of thy Spirit from heaven; which, as it is a great blessing to those who receive them, so doth it rejoice the heart of Christ, both as it is a demonstration of his own power and glory, and as it is the instrument of bringing souls to God.

45:6-9 The throne of this almighty King is established for ever. While the Holy Spirit leads Christ's people to look to his cross, he teaches them to see the evil of sin and the beauty of holiness; so that none of them can feel encouragement to continue in sin. The Mediator is God, else he had been neither able to do the Mediator's work, nor fit to wear the Mediator's crown. God the Father, as his God in respect to his human nature and mediatorial offices, has given to him the Holy Spirit without measure. Thus anointed to be a Prophet, Priest, and King, Christ has pre-eminence in the gladdening gifts and graces of the spirit, and from his fulness communicates them to his brethren in human nature. The Spirit is called the oil of gladness, because of the delight wherewith Christ was filled, in carrying on his undertakings. The salvation of sinners is the joy of angels, much more of the Son. And in proportion as we are conformed to his holy image, we may expect the gladdening gifts influences of the Comforter. The excellences of the Messiah, the suitableness of his offices, and the sufficiency of his grace, seem to be intended by the fragrance of his garments. The church formed of true believers, is here compared to the queen, whom, by an everlasting covenant, the Lord Jesus has betrothed to himself. This is the bride, the Lamb's wife, whose graces are compared to fine linen, for their purity; to gold, for their costliness: for as we owe our redemption, so we owe our adorning, to the precious blood of the Son of God.All thy garments smell of myrrh - The word "smell" is not in the original. The literal translation would be, "Myrrh, and aloes - cassia - all thy garments;" that is, they were so impregnated with perfumes that these seemed to constitute his very clothing. The mention of the "anointing" in the previous verse may have suggested the idea of these perfumes, as the anointing with a richly perfumed unguent seemed to have spread over, and to have pervaded all his raiment. Compare Psalm 133:2. It was common, however, for Orientals to use much perfumery, particularly on festive occasions. Myrrh - מר môr or מוּר mur - is an article which exudes from a tree found in Arabia, and still more extensively in Abyssinia. It is obtained by making an incision in the bark. It constituted one of the earliest articles of commerce Genesis 43:11, and was highly esteemed by the Egyptians and Jews, as well as by the Greeks and the Romans. It is mentioned in Esther 2:12 as an article used in the purification of women; and as a perfume, Sol 4:6; Sol 5:5. It was used among the ancients, not only as a perfume, but as a fumigator, and as an article of medicine, and was employed in embalming the bodies of the dead. Herodotus, speaking of the practice of embalming among the Egyptians, says, "They then fill the body with powder of pure myrrh, cassia, and other perfumes, except frankincense," ii. 86. Compare Exodus 30:23; Matthew 2:11; Mark 15:23; John 19:39. Of the tree which produces the myrrh, however, we have as yet no very accurate accounts. See Kitto's Encyc., art. "Mor."

And aloes - The word rendered "aloes" - אהלות 'ăhâlôth - occurs four times in the Old Testament: Numbers 24:6, where it is rendered "lign-aloes;" and here, as in Proverbs 7:17; Sol 4:14, where it is rendered "aloes." The reference is, undoubtedly, to some odoriferous substance, well known in ancient times. Why the word "aloe" has been used as a translation of the original word, in the English and in the older versions, it is not easy to ascertain, but it is certain that the substance referred to is not to be confounded with the bitter and nauseous aloes known as a medicine. It is now generally understood that the reference in the word as used in the Scriptures, is to a species of odoriferous tree growing in India, and which anciently doubtless constituted part of the valuable commerce of the East. It is not a "fruit" or a "gum," but the tree itself. It is a species of sweet-smelling "wood," and was valued on account of its fragrance. It is produced still in India. The tree is believed to be a native of the mountainous tracts east and southeast of Silhet, in about 24 degrees of north latitude. See Kitto's Encyc., art. "Ahalim."

And cassia. - Cassia - קציעות qetsiy‛ôth - is better known. It is a bark resembling cinnamon, but less aromatic. It is mentioned in two other places in the Scriptures, Exodus 30:24; Ezekiel 27:19. This, as well as "aloes," is a production of India and its islands. See Kitto's Encyc., art. "Ketzioth."

Out of the ivory palaces - That is, As thou comest out of the ivory palaces. The representation is that of the king as coming out of the palace where he dwelt, and as clad in apparel appropriate to his station, and surrounded by his attendants, diffusing joy all around them. The imagery has "chanqed" from what it was in Psalm 45:3-5, where he goes forth as a conqueror, with his sword on his "thigh," and ascending his war-chariot. Here he appears clothed, indeed, in regal splendor, in the magnificence of state, but as the husband of the bride, and as encircled with the attendants of an Oriental court. Ivory palaces are palaces adorned with ivory, or where ivory constituted a prominent and striking part of the ornaments. It cannot be supposed that the palace was constructed entirely of ivory. Kitto supposes that this refers to the interior decorations, or that the walls were "inlaid" with ivory, gold, etc., as constituting a part of the decorations of the building. "Ivory," it would seem, was so abundant and conspicu ous that the name might be given to the whole structure. Such a palace was that built by Ahab: 1 Kings 22:39.

Whereby they have made thee glad - Hebrew, "from them (or thence) they have gladdened thee." That is, They, the attendants referred to more particularly in the following verses, have gladdened thee; have diffused around a general joy; have contributed to make thee happy. He was clad in robes that became his station, and was accompanied and surrounded by attendants who diffused around a general joy, and who made his own heart glad. The "idea" may be, that the Redeemer, the Messiah, is made happy by the affection and the companionship of the redeemed, his people.

8. The king thus inaugurated is now presented as a bridegroom, who appears in garments richly perfumed, brought out from

ivory palaces—His royal residence; by which, as indications of the happy bridal occasion, He has been gladdened.

With myrrh, and aloes, and cassia they used to perfume their garments: see Genesis 27:27. This may denote those glorious and sweet-smelling virtues, which as they were treasured up inwardly in Christ’s heart, so did they manifest themselves outwardly and visibly, and give forth a grateful smell in the whole course of his life and actions; his doctrine also was a sweet savour unto God and men, 2 Corinthians 2:14,15.

Out of the ivory palaces; which may be referred, either,

1. To the garments, which were usually kept in, and now upon this extraordinary solemnity were brought out of, palaces, or houses, or wardrobes of ivory; so called here, as also Amos 3:15, not because they were wholly made of ivory, but because they were adorned or covered here and there with it. Or rather,

2. To the king himself, who is here supposed to reside in his ivory palaces; and his garments are so fragrant, that they do not only perfume the whole palaces in which he is, but the sweet savour thereof is perceived by those that pass by them, or are at some distance from them; all which is poetically said, and with a manifest allusion to Solomon’s glorious garments and palaces. By these ivory palaces he may mean either,

1. His human nature, in which Christ dwelt, as in a tabernacle, as the Greek word signifies, John 1:14; in which all these fragrant virtues were, and from whence they were diffused every where. Indeed the body is called a temple, John 2:19, and a house or tabernacle, 2 Corinthians 5:1,2, and so it might be called a palace. But why it should be called palaces, and that of ivory, seems not so plain. Or rather,

2. Those glorious and heavenly mansions, John 14:2, which may not unfitly be called ivory palaces, as elsewhere in the same figurative manner they are said to be made of or adorned with gold and precious stones, Revelation 21:1 8,19; from which mansions Christ came into the world, John 3:13, and into which Christ went, and where he settled his abode, after he went out of the world, John 13:1 Acts 1:11, and from whence Christ poured forth all the fragrant gifts and graces of his Spirit into the world and church, Acts 2:33. Although there is no necessity to strain every particular circumstance in such poetical descriptions, nor to find out some particular thing in Christ to which it agrees; for some expressions may be used only as ornaments in such cases, as they are in parables; and it may suffice to know and say, that the glories and excellencies of the King Christ are described by such things in which earthly potentates do place their glory.

Whereby; or, from which; either,

1. From which place or palaces. Or rather,

2. From which thing, i.e. from the sweet smell of thy garments out of those ivory palaces, or from the effusion of the gifts and graces of thy Spirit from thy Father’s right hand in heaven; which as it is a great blessing and comfort to those who receive them, so doth it rejoice the heart of Christ, both as it is a demonstration of his own power and glory, and as it is the happy instrument of doing much good in the world, and of bringing souls to God, which is Christ’s great work and delight.

They have made thee glad, i.e. thou art made glad; such phrases being oft used indefinitely and impersonally, as Luke 15:32, and in many other places.

All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia,.... Either his human nature, as anointed with the oil of gladness, and filled with the graces of the Spirit, signified by the holy anointing oil in the tabernacle, of which the things mentioned were ingredients, Exodus 30:23; or the garments of salvation and robe of righteousness, wrought out by him for his people, which are well pleasing and acceptable to his Father, and of a sweet smelling savour, being agreeable to his law and justice; and also to himself, as they are put upon his people; see Sol 4:11. And likewise to them who rejoice at being clothed with them, and desire to be found in them: or else his people themselves, who are sometimes compared to a clothing and to garments, Isaiah 49:18; whose persons are to God as the smell of a field, whom the Lord has blessed; and whose sacrifices of prayer and praise are sweet odours to him, through the mediation of his Son;

out of the ivory palaces; see Sol 7:4; meaning the places from whence these garments were taken, the wardrobe; or from whence Christ came, and where he appears; as heaven, the palace of the great King, from whence he came down, whither he is gone, and from whence he is expected again; and the human nature of Christ, in which he tabernacled on earth, and was pure and clear from sin; and his churches, which are his temples and palaces, where he grants his presence. Or it may be rendered, "more than the ivory palaces" (i), and so be expressive of the excellency of Christ's garments above them; and denote the purity of his human nature, the spotlessness of his righteousness, and the comeliness of his people;

whereby they have made thee glad; or, "wherein" or "from whence" (k); in which palaces, the churches, the saints make Christ glad, by speaking of his glory; by ascribing glory to him; and by the exercise of grace upon him, with which his heart is ravished, Sol 4:9. Or "for which" (l); garments of salvation, and robe of righteousness; they being clothed with them, and rejoicing in them, cause joy and gladness in Christ: or "more than they", or "theirs that make thee glad" (m); meaning his fellows and their garments, his being more odorous than theirs.

(i) "prae palatiis eburneis", Cocceius, Gejerus. (k) "unde", Montanus, Musculus, Muis, Noldius, p. 629, No. 1664. (l) "Propter quod", Muis. (m) "Prae iis", Junius & Tremellius; "magis quam eorum", Piscator; so Ainsworth.

All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, {g} whereby they have made thee glad.

(g) In which the people made you joyful to see them give thanks and rejoice for you.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8. The bridegroom appears, arrayed for the marriage, his garments saturated with costly perfumes, brought from distant lands. Myrrh was a product of Arabia: aloes here denotes the perfumed wood of an Indian tree: cassia (a different word from that so translated in Exodus 30:24; Ezekiel 27:19, and found here only) was either a species of cinnamon, or the koost of India, Indian orris or costus. Myrrh and aloes are mentioned together in Song of Solomon 4:14 among chief spices.

Prof. Earle notes that “these English spice-names are all identical with the words in the Hebrew; for with these oriental spices their oriental names travelled westward, and they became through Greek and Latin the common property of the European languages.” Psalter of 1539, p. 285.

out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made thee glad] An impossible rendering. Translate with R.V., out of ivory palaces stringed instruments have made thee glad. Music greets the bridegroom as he enters the palace. Palaces ornamented with ivory, probably inlaid in panels, are mentioned in 1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:15. Cp. 1 Kings 10:18; 1 Kings 10:22; Song of Solomon 5:14; Song of Solomon 7:4; Amos 6:4; Ezekiel 27:6; Ezekiel 27:15. Homer (Od. IV. 72) speaks of

Echoing halls

Of gold, electron, silver, ivory,

in the palace of Menelaus. Vergil (Aen. x. 135 ff.) and Horace (Odes ii. 18. 2) mention the use of ivory for inlaying.

Verse 8. - All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia; literally, myrrh and aloes [and] cassia are thy garments. The "and" before "cassia" appears in four manuscripts, and in all the ancient versions. The garments are so impregnated with spices as to seem made of them. Out of the ivory palaces. "Ivory palaces" are mentioned in 1 Kings 22:39 and Amos 3:15. We must understand "palaces adorned with ivory." Whereby they have made thee glad. So Hengstenberg, Kay, Professor Alexander, and others. But most moderns render, "Out of the ivory palaces stringed instruments have made thee glad." Psalm 45:8(Heb.: 45:9-10) The song of that which is lovely here reaches the height towards which it aspires from the beginning. It has portrayed the lovely king as a man, as a hero, and as a divine ruler; now it describes him as a bridegroom on the day of his nuptials. The sequence of the thoughts and of the figures corresponds to the history of the future. When Babylon is fallen, and the hero riding upon a white horse, upon whom is inscribed the name "King of kings and Lord of lords," shall have smitten the hostile nations with the sword that goeth out of His mouth, there then follows the marriage of the Lamb, for which the way has been prepared by these avenging victories (Revelation 19:7.). It is this final ga'mos which the Psalm, as a song of the congregation, when the light was dawning upon the Old Testament church, sees by anticipation, and as it were goes forth to meet it, rejoicing to behold it afar off. The king's garments are so thoroughly scented with costly spices that they seem to be altogether woven out of them. And מנּי out of the ivory palaces enchant him. This מנּי has been taken mostly, according to Isaiah 59:18 (cf. also Isaiah 52:6), as a repetition of the מן: "out of ivory palaces, whence they enchant thee." But this repetition serves no special purpose. Although the apocopated plural in ı̂, instead of ı̂m, is controvertible in Biblical Hebrew (vid., on Psalm 22:17; 2 Samuel 22:44), still there is the venture that in this instance מנּי is equivalent to מנּים, the music of stringed instruments (Psalm 150:4); and if in connection with any Psalm at all, surely we may venture in connection with this Psalm, which in other respects has such an Aramaic or North-Palestinian colouring, to acknowledge this apocope, here perhaps chosen on account of the rhythm. In accordance with our historical rendering of the Psalm, by the ivory palaces are meant the magnificent residences of the king, who is the father of the bride. Out of the inner recesses of these halls, inlaid within with ivory and consequently resplendent with the most dazzling whiteness, the bridegroom going to fetch his bride, as he approaches and enters them, is met by the sounds of festive music: viewed in the light of the New Testament, it is that music of citherns or harps which the seer (Revelation 14:2) heard like the voice of many waters and of mighty thunder resounding from heaven. The Old Testament poet imagines to himself a royal citadel that in its earthly splendour far surpasses that of David and of Solomon. Thence issues forth the sound of festive music zealous, as it were, to bid its welcome to the exalted king.

Even the daughters of kings are among his precious ones. יקר is the name for that which is costly, and is highly prized and loved for its costliness (Proverbs 6:26). The form בּיקּרותיך resembles the form ליקּהת, Proverbs 30:17, in the appearance of the i and supplanting the Sheba mobile, and also in the Dag. dirimens in the ק (cf. עקּבי, Genesis 49:17; מקּדשׁ, Exodus 15:17).

(Note: It is the reading of Ben-Naphtali that has here, as an exception, become the receptus; whereas Ben-Asher reads בּיקּרותיך. Saadia, Rashi, Simson ha-Nakdan and others, who derive the word from בּקּר (to visit, wait on), follow the receptus, comparing משׁיסּה, Isaiah 42:24, in support of the form of writing. Also in ליקּהת, Proverbs 30:17; ויללת, Jeremiah 25:36; כּיתרון, Ecclesiastes 2:13, the otherwise rejected orthography of Ben-Naphtali (who pointed ויחלּוּ, Job 29:21, לישׂראל, ויתּן, and the like) is retained, as quite an exception, in the textus receptus. Vide S. D. Luzzatto, Prolegomeni, cxcix., and Grammatica della Lingua Ebraica, 193.)

Now, however, he has chosen for himself his own proper wife, who is here called by a name commonly used of Chaldaean and Persian queens, and, as it seems (cf. on Judges 5:30), a North-Palestinian name, שׁגל,

(Note: Bar-Ali says that in Babylonia Venus is called ודלפת שגל, vid., Lagarde, Gesammelte Abhandl. S. 17. Windischmann (Zoroastrische Studien, S. 161) erroneously compares ćagar (pronounced tshagar) as a name of one of the two wives of Zarathustra; but it happens that this is not the name of the wife who holds the first rank (Neo-Persic padishāh-zen), but of the second (ćakir-zen, bond-woman).)

instead of גּבירה. From the fact that, glittering with gold of Ophir, she has taken the place of honour at the right hand of the king (נצּבה, 3rd praet., not part.), it is evident that her relationship to the king is at this time just in the act of being completed. Who are those daughters of kings and who is this queen standing in closest relationship to the king? The former are the heathen nations converted to Christ, and the latter is the Israel which is remarried to God in Christ, after the fulness of the heathen is come in. It is only when Israel is won to Him, after the fulness of the heathen is come in (Romans 11:25), that the morning of the great day will dawn, which this Psalm as a song of the church celebrates. בּנות מלכים cannot certainly, like בּת־צר, be a personificative designation of heathen kingdoms, although שׁגל is the believing Israel conceived of as one person. It is actually kings' daughters as the representatives of their nations that are intended; and the relation of things is just the same here as in Isaiah 49:23, where, of the Israelitish church of the future, it is predicted that kings shall be its foster-fathers and their princesses its nursing-mothers.

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