Psalm 45:8
All your garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia, out of the ivory palaces, whereby they have made you 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." (Heb.: 45:2-3) The verb רחשׁ, as מרחשׁת shows, signifies originally to bubble up, boil, and is used in the dialects generally of excited motion and lively excitement; it is construed with the accusative after the manner of verbs denoting fulness, like the synonymous נבע, Psalm 119:171 (cf. Talmudic לשׁונך תרחישׁ רננות, let thy tongue overflow with songs of praise). Whatever the heart is full of, with that the mouth overflows; the heart of the poet gushes over with a "good word." דּבר is a matter that finds utterance and is put into the form of words; and טּוב describes it as good with the collateral idea of that which is cheerful, pleasing, and rich in promise (Isaiah 52:7; Zechariah 1:13). The fact that out of the fulness and oppression of his heart so good a word springs forth, arises from the subject in which now his whole powers of mind are absorbed: I am saying or thinking (אני pausal form by Dechמ, in order that the introductory formula may not be mistaken), i.e., my purpose is: מעשׁי למלך, my works or creations (not sing., but plur., just as also מקני in Exodus 17:3; Numbers 20:19, where the connection leads one to expect the plural) shall be dedicated to the king; or even: the thought completely fills me, quite carries me away, that they concern or have reference to the king. In the former case למלך dispenses with the article because it is used after the manner of a proper name (as in Psalm 21:2; Psalm 72:1); in the latter, because the person retires before the office of dignity belonging to it: and this we, in common with Hitzig, prefer on account of the self-conscious and reflecting אמר אני by which it is introduced. He says to himself that it is a king to whom his song refers; and this lofty theme makes his tongue so eloquent and fluent that it is like the style of a γραμματεὺς ὀξύγραφος. Thus it is correctly rendered by the lxx; whereas סופר מהיר as an epithet applied to Ezra (Ezra 7:6) does not denote a rapid writer, but a learned or skilled scribe. Rapidly, like the style of an agile writer, does the tongue of the poet move; and it is obliged to move thus rapidly because of the thoughts and words that flow forth to it out of his heart. The chief thing that inspires him is the beauty of the king. The form יפיפית, which certainly ought to have a passive sense (Aquila κάλλει ἐκαλλίωθης), cannot be explained as formed by reduplication of the first two radicals of the verb יפה (יפי); for there are no examples to be found in support of quinqueliterals thus derived. What seems to favour this derivation is this, that the legitimately formed Pealal יפיפה (cf. the adjective יפהפי equals יפיפי, Jeremiah 46:20) is made passive by a change of vowels in a manner that is altogether peculiar, but still explicable in connection with this verb, which is a twofold weak verb. The meaning is: Thou art beyond compare beautifully fashioned, or endowed with beauty beyond the children of men. The lips are specially singled out from among all the features of beauty in him. Over his lips is poured forth, viz., from above, חן (gracefulness of benevolence), inasmuch as, even without his speaking, the form of his lips and each of their movements awakens love and trust; it is evident, however, that from such lips, full of χάρις, there must proceed also λόγοι τῆς χάριτος (Luke 4:22; Ecclesiastes 10:12). In this beauty of the king and this charm of his lips the psalmist sees a manifestation of the everlasting blessing of God, that is perceptible to the senses. It is not to be rendered: because Elohim hath blessed thee for ever. The assertion that על־כּן is used in some passages for על־כּן אשׁר cannot be proved (vid., on Psalm 42:7). But the meaning of the psalmist is, moreover, not that the king, because he is so fair and has such gracious lips, is blessed of God. If this were the idea, then the noble moral qualities of which the beauty of this king is the transparent form, ought to be more definitely expressed. Thus personally conceived, as it is here, beauty itself is a blessing, not a ground for blessing. The fact of the matter is this, beauty is denoted by על־כן as a reason for the blessing being known or recognised, not as a reason why the king should be blessed. From his outward appearance it is at once manifest that the king is one who is blessed by God, and that blessed for ever. The psalmist could not but know that "grace is deceitful and beauty vain" (Proverbs 31:30), therefore the beauty of this king was in his eyes more than mere earthly beauty; it appears to him in the light of a celestial transfiguration, and for this very reason as an imperishable gift, in which there becomes manifest an unlimited endless blessing.
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