Song of Solomon 1:7
Tell me, O you whom my soul loves, where you feed, where you make your flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turns aside by the flocks of your companions?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Where thou feedest . . . thy flock . . . For why should I be . . .?—The marginal reading, that is veiled, follows the LXX. in rendering the Hebrew literally. But it has been found somewhat difficult to assign a meaning to a literal translation. The suggestions=unknown (Ewald), veiled as a harlot (Delitzsch, &c; comp. Genesis 38:15), fainting (Gesenius), seem all wide of the mark, since the question only refers to the danger of missing her beloved through ignorance of his whereabouts. A transposition of two letters would give a word with a sense required = erring, wandering about, a sense, indeed, which old Rabbinical commentators gave to this word itself in Isaiah 22:16 (Authorised Version, cover); and probably the idea involved is the obvious one that a person with the head muffled up would not find her way easily, as we might say, “Why should I go about blindfold?”

The Rabbinical interpretation of this verse is a good instance of the fanciful treatment the book has received: “When the time came for Moses to depart, he said to the Lord, ‘It is revealed to me that this people will sin and go into captivity; show me how they shall be governed and dwell among the nations whose decrees are oppressive as the heat; and wherefore is it they shall wander among the flocks of Esau and Ishmael, who make them idols equal to thee as thy companions?’”

Song of Solomon 1:7. Tell me, &c. — Notwithstanding all these discouragements and afflictions, which I suffer for thy sake, and for my love to thee. Being reproached and persecuted by others, I flee to thee, O my only refuge and joy, and beg direction and help from thee; where thou feedest thy flock — Discover to me which is thy true church, and which are those assemblies and people where thou art present. This is the request of particular believers. Where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon — In the heat of the day, when the shepherds, in those hot countries, used to lead their flocks into shady places. Whereby he means the time of persecution, when it is hard to discover the true church, because she is deformed by it, and because she is obscured and driven into the wilderness. Why should I be as one that turneth aside? — Or a wanderer, or vagabond; like a neglected and forlorn creature, exposed both to censure and danger. By the flocks of thy companions — The assemblies of corrupt teachers and worshippers. These she calls Christ’s companions, because they profess the name of Christ, and their conjunction with him in God’s worship.1:7,8 Observe the title given to Christ, O Thou whom my soul loveth. Those that do so, may come to him boldly, and may humbly plead with him. Is it with God's people a noon-time of outward troubles, inward conflicts? Christ has rest for them. Those whose souls love Jesus Christ, earnestly desire to share in the privileges of his flock. Turning aside from Christ is what gracious souls dread more than anything else. God is ready to answer prayer. Follow the track, ask for the good old way, observe the footsteps of the flock, look what has been the practice of godly people. Sit under the direction of good ministers; beside the tents of the under shepherds. Bring thy charge with thee, they shall all be welcome. It will be the earnest desire and prayer of the Christian, that God would so direct him in his worldly business, and so order his situation and employment, that he may have his Lord and Saviour always before him.whom my soul loveth - A phrase recurring several times. It expresses great intensity of affection.

Feedest - i. e., "Pursuest thy occupation as a shepherd;" so she speaks figuratively of the Son of David. Compare Sol 2:16; Sol 6:3; Psalm 23:1.

Rest - Or, lie down; a term properly used of the couching of four-footed animals: "thy flock" is here therefore easily understood. Compare Ezekiel 34:14-15; Psalm 23:2; Jeremiah 50:6.

As one that turneth aside - Or, goeth astray like an outcast.

7. my soul loveth—more intense than "the virgins" and "the upright love thee" (So 1:3, 4; Mt 22:37). To carry out the design of the allegory, the royal encampment is here represented as moving from place to place, in search of green pastures, under the Shepherd King (Ps 23:1-6). The bride, having first enjoyed communion with him in the pavilion, is willing to follow Him into labors and dangers; arising from all absorbing love (Lu 14:26); this distinguishes her from the formalist (Joh 10:27; Re 14:4).

feedest—tendest thy flock (Isa 40:11; Heb 13:20; 1Pe 2:25; 5:4; Re 7:17). No single type expresses all the office of Jesus Christ; hence arises the variety of diverse images used to portray the manifold aspects of Him: these would be quite incongruous, if the Song referred to the earthly Solomon. Her intercourse with Him is peculiar. She hears His voice, and addresses none but Himself. Yet it is through a veil; she sees Him not (Job 23:8, 9). If we would be fed, we must follow the Shepherd through the whole breadth of His Word, and not stay on one spot alone.

makest … to rest—distinct from "feedest"; periods of rest are vouchsafed after labor (Isa 4:6; 49:10; Eze 34:13-15). Communion in private must go along with public following of Him.

turneth aside—rather one veiled, that is, as a harlot, not His true bride (Ge 38:15), [Gesenius]; or as a mourner (2Sa 15:30), [Weiss]; or as one unknown [Maurer]. All imply estrangement from the Bridegroom. She feels estranged even among Christ's true servants, answering to "thy companions" (Lu 22:28), so long as she has not Himself present. The opposite spirit to 1Co 3:4.

Whom my soul loveth, notwithstanding all these discouragements mid afflictions which I suffer for thy sake, and for my love to thee. Being reproached and persecuted by others, I flee to thee, O my only refuge and joy, and I beg direction and help from thee.

Where thou feedest, understand, thy flock, as Genesis 29:7 37:16. Seeing false teachers and churches bear thy name, Mark 13:21,22, and thy true church sometimes lies hid, Revelation 12:14, discover to me which is thy true church, and which are those assemblies and people where thou art present, and where thine ordinances are dispensed in purity and power, and where thou dost and wilt command the blessing, even life for evermore, as it is expressed, Psalm 133:3, that I may join myself to them. This is the request of particular believers. For it must be minded, as that which will be useful to explain really difficulties in this book, that the church in this book is sometimes considered, and speaketh, or is spoken of, as one entire body, and sometimes with respect unto and in the name of her particular members, and that promiscuously; and in which of these capacities each place is to be understood is left to the prudent and diligent reader to gather out of the words and context.

At noon; in the heat of the day, when the shepherds in those hot countries used to carry their flocks into shady places; whereby he means the time of hot persecution, when it is hard to find and discover the true church, partly because she is deformed by it, and partly because she is obscured and driven into the wilderness, as is said, Revelation 12:14.

Be as one, i.e. be really one, the particle as being here a note of truth, as it is in many other places. Why wilt thou by withdrawing thyself from me, and denying thy direction to me, suffer me, or give occasion to me, to be such a one?

One that turneth aside; or, a wanderer, or vagabond, like a neglected and forlorn creature, exposed both to censure and danger, from both which it belongs to thee, my Husband, to protect and save me. By, or about, or towards, as this particle is elsewhere used, the flocks of thy companions; the assemblies of corrupt and false teachers and worshippers, by which I am like to be insnared, if thou dost forsake me. These he calls Christ’s companions, partly because they profess the name of Christ, and their conjunction with him in God’s worship; and partly because they set themselves up in Christ’s stead, and usurp his power in delivering and imposing their own laws and doctrines upon men’s consciences, and behave themselves like his equals or companions, not as becometh his subjects. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth,.... With all her heart, cordially and sincerely; for, notwithstanding her sinful compliance with others, and neglect of her own affairs, she had not lost her love to Christ; and, being sensible of her sin and folly, whereby she was deprived of his company, and communion with him, applies to him to guide, direct, and restore her wandering soul; and particularly inform her

where, says she,

thou feedest; that is his flock, like a shepherd: for this phrase supposes him to be a shepherd, as he is, of God's choosing, appointing, and setting up, the chief, the good, the great, and only Shepherd of the sheep; and that he has a flock to feed, which is but one, and a little one, is his property, given him by God, purchased by his blood, called a flock of slaughter, and yet a beautiful one, he has undertook to feed; and feeding it includes the whole business of a shepherd, in leading the sheep into pastures, protecting them from all enemies, restoring them when wandering, healing their diseases, watching over them in the night seasons, and making all necessary provisions for them. Or, "tell me how thou feedest" (f); the manner of it, and with what; which he does by his ministers, word, and ordinances; with himself, the bread of life; with the doctrines and promises of the Gospel, and with the discoveries of his love;

where thou makest thy flocks to rest at noon, either at the noon of temptation, when Satan's fiery darts fly thick and fast; when Christ is a shadow and shelter in his person, grace, blood, righteousness, and sacrifice, Isaiah 25:4; or the noon of affliction, when he makes their bed in it, and gives them rest from adversity; or the noon of persecution, when Christ leads his flocks to cooling shades, and gives them rest in himself, when troubled by others: the allusion, is to shepherds, in hot countries, leading their flocks to some shady place, where they may be sheltered from the scorching heat of the sun; which, as Virgil says (g), was at the fourth hour, or ten o'clock, two hours before noon; we read of (h), sheep nooning themselves, or lying down at noon, under a shade, by a fountain, asleep;

for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? not real associates with Christ, that keep company with him, and are attached to his word and ordinances; but false friends, hypocrites and heretics (i), rivals with him, who set up schemes of worship and doctrine in opposition to his; such as Papists, Socinians, &c. now such false teachers have had their flocks in all ages, such as have followed them, and have formed separate societies; and therefore the church, sensible of their craftiness, and her own weakness, and liableness to go astray, desires she might not be under, and left to such a temptation, as to apostatize from Christ, and join to such persons and their flocks, or seem to do so: or, "be as one that covereth herself", or "is covered" (k); as a harlot; so Tamar, Genesis 38:14; or as a widow in mourning; she chose not to be, or to be thought to be, either as one that left her husband, an unchaste woman; or had lost her husband, or as if she had none, when neither was the case: or, "as one that spreads the tent" (l); by the flocks of such; as if in communion with them, and joining with them in feeding their flocks; and therefore desires she might speedily know where Christ was, and go to him, that such an aspersion or suspicion might at once be wiped from her.

(f) "quomodo pascas?" Tigurine version; so the Syriac version and Jarchi; see Ainsworth. (g) "Inde, ubi quarta sitim coeli collegetit hora", Virgil. Georgic. l. 3. v. 327. (h) Platonis Phaedrus, p. 1230. (i) So Stockius, p. 302. (k) "quasi operiens se", Piscator; "ut obnubens", Cocceius; "sicut obvelans se", Marckius; "velut operta", Michaelis. (l) So Junius & Tremellius.

Tell me, {n} O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of {o} thy companions?

(n) The spouse feeling her fault flees to her husband only for comfort.

(o) Whom you have called to the dignity of pastors, and they set forth their own dreams instead of your doctrine.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. where thou feedest, &c.] Rather, where thou wilt pasture (thy flock), where thou wilt make (them) rest at noon. ‘Feedest’ is in English ambiguous, but the Heb. word is not. Cp. Genesis 37:16, “Tell me, I pray thee, where they feed (their flocks).”

as one that turneth aside] Vulg. ne vagari incipiam. The LXX, ὡς περιβαλλομένη = as one veiling herself, is more correct. The Heb. of the text is kě ‛ôtyâh, which is the participle fem. Qal for the usual ‛ôtâh (but perhaps it should be ‛ôtîyyâh; cp. Ges. Kautzsch Gramm. § 75 v) of the verb âtâh = to fold, or pack together; cp. Isaiah 22:17, “He will wrap thee up closely” (R.V.); and Jeremiah 43:12, “He shall array himself” (literally wrap himself) “with the land of Egypt”; then ‘to veil’ or ‘cover,’ and this must be its meaning here; like one veiling herself. But what is the significance of her veiling herself? Delitzsch and others understand the reference here to be to the custom of harlots to disguise themselves, as Tamar, Genesis 38:15, “He thought her to be an harlot, for she had covered her face,” but there is no plausible reason given why she should veil herself, especially if this interpretation could be put upon her doing so. Others, taking the text to be correct, make the meaning to be ‘as one mourning or forsaken,’ then ‛ôtyâh must have become a technical term from which the original meaning had almost wholly been stripped. The Syriac, the Vulgate, and Symm. apparently read, ‘wanderer,’ transposing the letters and making ‛ôtîyyâh into tô‛ iyyâh, the participle of the verb ‘to wander.’ Archdeacon Aglen’s suggestion in Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers, that as the word ‛âtâh in Isaiah 22:17 is given the meaning of ‘erring,’ or ‘wandering about,’ by the Rabbinic commentators, probably the idea they had in their mind was that a person with the head wrapped up has difficulty in finding his way, and thus, even without any transposition of the letters, the word might come to be translated ‘wandering,’ is interesting and plausible. He would translate as one blindfold. This seems the best rendering.

7, 8. Song of Solomon 1:7 is spoken by the Shulammite, asking her lover where she will find him at noon, and Song of Solomon 1:8 is the mocking comment of the daughters of Jerusalem. Martineau, indeed, supposes that the lover actually appears here, at the king’s residence in Jerusalem, and she asks him where she can find him feeding his flocks. But that seems unmeaning if he was a shepherd of En-gedi, as Martineau supposes; and in any case, he would not be feeding his flocks in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem. Budde supposes that this is a song put into the mouth of the newly married couple, in order that the marriage, which really was a mere matter of arrangement, should be made to appear to be the result of previous affection. This, therefore, is an account of a lovers’ meeting before marriage. But if the universal custom was to arrange marriages in this way it seems obvious that no one would wish to make the thing appear otherwise, in fact it would be a breach of the convenances to hint at such a thing. There seems no alternative but to suppose that the speaker is here musing upon her absent lover and asks aloud where she could find him. She longs to go to seek him. Some however take the two verses to be a reference to the past, while Oettli supposes them to be an interlude brought in to shew who the two lovers are.Verse 7. - Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest thy flock, where thou makest it to rest at noon: for why should I he as one that is veiled beside the flock of thy companions? These words carry on the associations suggested by the previous verse. The bride is longing for the bridegroom; but she cannot think of him yet in any other light than as a companion of her simple country life - he is a shepherd, and she a shepherdess. "Take me into closer fellowship with thyself; let me not remain still only one amongst the many." Perhaps there is intended to be an allusion to the common metaphor - the king as the shepherd and the people as his flock; but the uppermost thought of the bride is separation unto her husband. The soul which longs for the enjoyment of fellowship with God desires to be carried away out of all distractions, out of all restraints, lifted above reserve and above doubt into the closest and most loving union. The idea of the veil may be either the veil of mourning or the veil of modesty and reserve. Probably the latter is the true reference. The LXX. has, ὡς περιβαλλομένη. There is some difference of opinion among critics. Ewald thinks it refers to strangeness - "like one unknown," and therefore veiled; Gesenius says, "one fainting;" others connect the word with the root "to roam," "to wander" (see Isaiah 22:17), which is confirmed by Symmachus, the Vulgate, the Syriac, the Chaldee, Jerome, Venetian, and Luther. The simplest explanation is that the bride compares herself, in her absence from her lord, among the ladies of the court, to a veiled woman travelling beside the flocks of the shepherds, seeking her friend, but not yet brought to him. The title of the book at once denotes that it is a connected whole, and is the work of one author. - Sol 1:1. The Song of Songs, composed by Solomon. The genitival connection, "Song of Songs," cannot here signify the Song consisting of a number of songs, any more than calling the Bible "The Book of books" leads us to think of the 24 + 27 canonical books of which it consists. Nor can it mean "one of Solomon's songs;" the title, as it here stands, would then be the paraphrase of שׁיר שׁירי שׁ, chosen for the purpose of avoiding the redoubled genitives; but "one of the songs" must rather have been expressed by שׁיר משּׁירי. It has already been rightly explained in the Midrash:

(Note: Vid., Frst's Der Kanon des A. T. (1868), p. 86.)

"the most praiseworthy, most excellent, most highly-treasured among the songs." The connection is superl. according to the sense (cf. ἄῤῥητα ἀῤῥήτων of Sophocles), and signifies that song which, as such, surpasses the songs one and all of them; as "servant of servants," Genesis 9:25, denotes a servant who is such more than all servants together. The plur. of the second word is for this superl. sense indispensable (vid., Dietrich's Abhand. zur hebr. Gramm. p. 12), but the article is not necessary: it is regularly wanting where the complex idea takes the place of the predicate, Genesis 9:25; Exodus 29:37, or of the inner member of a genitival connection of words, Jeremiah 3:19; but it is also wanting in other places, as Ezekiel 16:7 and Ecclesiastes 1:2; Ecclesiastes 12:8, where the indeterminate plur. denotes not totality, but an unlimited number; here it was necessary, because a definite Song - that, namely, lying before us - must be designated as the paragon of songs. The relative clause, "asher lishlōmō," does not refer to the single word "Songs" (Gr. Venet. τῶν τοῦ), as it would if the expression were שׁיר מהשּׁ, but to the whole idea of "the Song of Songs." A relative clause of similar formation and reference occurs at 1 Kings 4:2 : "These are the princes, asher lo, which belonged to him (Solomon)." They who deny the Solomonic authorship usually explain: The Song of Songs which concerns or refers to Solomon, and point in favour of this interpretation to lxx B. ὃ ἐστι Σαλ., which, however, is only a latent genit., for which lxx A. τῷ Σαλ. Lamed may indeed introduce the reference of a writing, as at Jeremiah 23:9; but if the writing is more closely designated as a "Song," "Psalm," and the like, then Lamed with the name of a person foll. is always the Lamed auctoris; in this case the idea of reference to, as e.g., at Isaiah 1:1, cf. 1 Kings 5:13, is unequivocally expressed by על. We shall find that the dramatized history which we have here, or as we might also say, the fable of the melodrama and its dress, altogether correspond with the traits of character, the favourite turns, the sphere of vision, and the otherwise well-known style of authorship peculiar to Solomon. We may even suppose that the superscription was written by the author, and thus by Solomon himself. For in the superscription of the Proverbs he is surnamed "son of David, king of Israel," and similarly in Ecclesiastes. But he who entitles him merely "Solomon" is most probably himself. On the other hand, that the title is by the author himself, is not favoured by the fact that instead of the שׁ, everywhere else used in the book, the fuller form asher is employed. There is the same reason for this as for the fact that Jeremiah in his prophecies always uses asher, but in the Lamentations interchanges שׁ with asher. This original demonstrative שׁ is old-Canaanitish, as the Phoenician אש, arrested half-way toward the form asher, shows.

(Note: From this it is supposed that asher is a pronom. root-cluster equivalent to אשׁל. Fleischer, on the contrary, sees in asher an original substantive athar equals (Arab.) ithr, Assyr. asar, track, place, as when the vulgar expression is used, "The man where (wo instead of welcher) has said.")

In the Book of Kings it appears as a North Palest. provincialism, to the prose of the pre-exilian literature it is otherwise foreign;

(Note: We do not take into view here Genesis 6:3. If בּשׁגם is then to be read, then there is in it the pronominal שׁ, as in the old proper name Mishael (who is what God is?).)

but the pre-exilian shir and kinah (cf. also Job 19:29) make use of it as an ornament. In the post-exilian literature it occurs in poetry (Psalm 122:3, etc.) and in prose (1 Chronicles 5:20; 1 Chronicles 27:27); in Ecclesiastes it is already a component part of the rabbinism in full growth. In a pre-exilian book-title שׁ in place of asher is thus not to be expected. On the other hand, in the Song itself it is no sign of a post-exilian composition, as Grtz supposes. The history of the language and literature refutes this.

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