Song of Solomon 1:9
I have compared you, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots.
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(9) Company of horses.—So Vulg., equitatus, but Heb. susah more properly = mare, as in LXX., Τῇ ἵππῳ μου. The ground of the comparison is variously understood. Some, offended at the comparison of female beauty to that of a horse, think the rich trappings of a royal equipage suggested it, while on the other hand, the mention of the caparisoned steed may have suggested the reference to the lady’s ornaments. But Anacreon (60) and Theocritus (Idyll xviii. 30, 31), and also Horace (Ode iii. 11), have compared female with equine beauty; and an Arab chief would not hesitate to prefer the points of his horse to the charms of his mistress.

Chariots.—The plural shows that the image is general, and with no reference to any one particular equipage. Pharaoh’s teams are selected as pre-eminently fine by reputation. The supposition that there is a reference to some present from the Egyptian to the Israelite monarch is gratuitous. The kings of Israel bought their horses and chariots at a high price (1Kings 10:29).

Song of Solomon 1:9-11. I have compared thee — For strength and courage, to overcome all thine enemies; to a company of horses — For horses are famous for that property, and the strength of the battle was then thought to consist much in horses and chariots, especially in a company or multitude of them. And the church in this book is represented not only as fair and beautiful, but also as terrible to her enemies. Thy cheeks, &c., with rows of jewels — Which being fastened to the heads of brides, used to hang down upon their checks in those times. He mentions the cheeks, as the chief seat of beauty. Thy neck with chains of gold — Whereby, as well as by the rows of jewels, he may seem to design all those persons and things wherewith the church is made beautiful in the eyes of God and of men, such as excellent ministers and saints, righteous laws, holy ordinances, and the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit. We — I and my father; will make thee borders of gold — Beautiful and honourable ornaments.1:9-17 The Bridegroom gives high praises of his spouse. In the sight of Christ believers are the excellent of the earth, fitted to be instruments for promoting his glory. The spiritual gifts and graces which Christ bestows on every true believer, are described by the ornaments then in use, ver. 10,11. The graces of the saints are many, but there is dependence upon each other. He who is the Author, will be the Finisher of the good work. The grace received from Christ's fulness, springs forth into lively exercises of faith, affection, and gratitude. Yet Christ, not his gifts, is most precious to them. The word translated camphire, signifies atonement or propitiation. Christ is dear to all believers, because he is the propitiation for their sins. No pretender must have his place in the soul. They resolved to lodge him in their hearts all the night; during the continuance of the troubles of life. Christ takes delight in the good work which his grace has wrought on the souls of believers. This should engage all who are made holy, to be very thankful for that grace which has made those fair, who by nature were deformed. The spouse (the believer) has a humble, modest eye, discovering simplicity and godly sincerity; eyes enlightened and guided by the Holy Spirit, that blessed Dove. The church expresses her value for Christ. Thou art the great Original, but I am but a faint and imperfect copy. Many are fair to look at, yet their temper renders them unpleasant: but Christ is fair, yet pleasant. The believer, ver. 16, speaks with praise of those holy ordinances in which true believers have fellowship with Christ. Whether the believer is in the courts of the Lord, or in retirement; whether following his daily labours, or confined on the bed of sickness, or even in a dungeon, a sense of the Divine presence will turn the place into a paradise. Thus the soul, daily having fellowship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, enjoys a lively hope of an incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance above.This and the next Cant. 1:15-2:7 sections are regarded by ancient commentators (Jewish and Christian) as expressing "the love of espousals" Jeremiah 2:2 between the Holy One and His Church, first in the wilderness of the Exodus, and then in the wilderness of the world Ezekiel 20:35-36.

Songs 1:9

Or, to a mare of mine in the chariots of Pharaoh I liken thee, O my friend. (The last word is the feminine form of that rendered "friend" at Sol 5:16.) The comparison of the bride to a beautiful horse is singularly like one in Theocritus, and some have conjectured that the Greek poet, having read at Alexandria the Septuagint Version of the Song, may have borrowed these thoughts from it. If so, we have here the first instance of an influence of sacred on profane literature. The simile is especially appropriate on the lips, or from the pen, of Solomon, who first brought horses and chariots from Egypt 1 Kings 10:28-29. As applied to the bride it expresses the stately and imposing character of her beauty.

9. horses in Pharaoh's chariots—celebrated for beauty, swiftness, and ardor, at the Red Sea (Ex 14:15). These qualities, which seem to belong to the ungodly, really belong to the saints [Moody Stuart]. The allusion may be to the horses brought at a high price by Solomon out of Egypt (2Ch 1:16, 17). So the bride is redeemed out of spiritual Egypt by the true Solomon, at an infinite price (Isa 51:1; 1Pe 1:18, 19). But the deliverance from Pharaoh at the Red Sea accords with the allusion to the tabernacle (So 1:5; 3:6, 7); it rightly is put at the beginning of the Church's call. The ardor and beauty of the bride are the point of comparison; (So 1:4) "run"; (So 1:5) "comely." Also, like Pharaoh's horses, she forms a great company (Re 19:7, 14). As Jesus Christ is both Shepherd and Conqueror, so believers are not only His sheep, but also, as a Church militant now, His chariots and horses (So 6:4). I have compared thee, Heb. I have made thee like; which may be understood either,

1. Verbally, by comparing. Or,

2. Really, by making a real resemblance in quality or condition. To a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots; either,

1. For comeliness; for a horse is a very stately and beautiful creature, and the Egyptian horses were preferred before others, 1 Kings 10:28 Isaiah 31:1, and Pharaoh’s own chariot horses were doubtless the best of their kind. Or,

2. For excellent order and usefulness, as those horses did equally and orderly draw the chariot, and carried Pharaoh with ease and speed whither he designed to go. Or rather,

3. For strength and courage, to overcome all thine enemies. For horses are famous for that property, Job 39:21, &c. And the strength of the battle was then thought to consist very much in horses, Proverbs 21:31, and chariots, and especially in a company or multitude of them. And the church in this book is represented not only as fair and beautiful, but also as terrible to her enemies, Song of Solomon 6:10. Compare Revelation 19:11,14. I have compared thee, O my love,.... The church having taken the direction of Christ, had now found him, and was with him; and when for her encouragement and comfort he greets her as his love, an appellation very usual among lovers; and in the chastest sense between husband and wife; the church was Christ's love, being both the object and subject of it; to whom he had showed love, and whose love was shed abroad in her heart; or "my friend" (t), another name used among lovers; there is a mutual friendship between Christ and his people; they are Christ's friends, and he is theirs, Sol 5:1. The Septuagint render it "my neighbour", whom Christ loves as himself; and they dwell near each other; he dwells in them, and they in him, John 6:56; and here are compared by him

to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariots; or "I have likened thee", or reckoned thee like (u); formed such an image of thee in my mind, with regard to some peculiar excellencies in her which agreed therewith: or to "my mare" (w), as some translate the word, which ran in one of his chariots, called Pharaoh's chariot; because perhaps it was made a present of to him by Pharaoh king of Egypt, his father in law, for which he had a particular regard, as Alexander for his Bucephalus; nor is such a comparison of a woman a disagreeable one, since, as Marckius observes, many women have had their names from the horse, because of some celebrated excellency in them (x); and Theocritus (y) compares Queen Helena to a Thessalian horse in a chariot; and it is thought he took the hint from this song, as admiring it; so, by others (z), persons are compared to mares for their beautiful form. Christ's church and people be compared to "the horse" for their strength, majesty, and comeliness; they are strong in Christ, and in his grace, and of an undaunted courage in bearing hardships, reproaches, and persecutions for his sake, and in fighting the Lord's battles; and are stately and majestic, especially a company of them in Gospel order, Sol 6:4; and are very comely and beautiful in their trappings, clothed with the righteousness of Christ, and the graces of his Spirit; and to a "company" of them, a collection of goodly ones, as Egyptian ones, reckoned the best; and those in Pharaoh's chariot best of all; choice, costly, well fed, and well taken care of; and not wild and loose, but coupled and joined together in a chariot, all drawing one way. Christ's church and people are a choice and select company, distinguished from others by the grace of God; cost a great price, the blood of Christ; are well fed with the finest of the wheat; and are under the care both of angels and Gospel ministers; and look very beautiful as under the yoke of Christ, and joined together in Gospel bonds, being of the same faith and judgment; drawing one way, striving together for the faith of the Gospel, and endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.

(t) "amica mea", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Mercerus, Michaelis. (u) "similem te judico", Tigurine version. (w) , Sept. "equae meae", Pagninus, Montanus, Gussetius, p. 551. so Aben Ezra, Syriac and Arabic versions; "equabus", Piscator. (x) As Hippo, Hippe, Hippia, Hippodomia, Hippothoe, Hipponoe, Mercippe, Alcippe, Archippe. (y) Idyll. 18. v. 29. (z) , Theognis Sententiae, v. 257. '- Phocylides. So by Plato in Hippias Major, p. 1250. & Horat. Carmin. l. 3. Ode 11. v. 9.

I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh's {q} chariots.

(q) For your spiritual beauty and excellency there was no worldly treasure to be compared to you.

9. O my love] Rather, O my friend; cp. the use of ami in French between lovers. This word ra‛yâh is found only in the Song of Solomon, except once in the plural in Jdg 11:37, where Jephthah’s daughter says “I and my companions,” and in that case there is an alternative reading. It is used in the Song indiscriminately by Solomon and by the Shulammite’s true lover.

a company of horses] Here the A.V. follows the Vulgate, which has equitatus; and that might be the meaning as the fem. may be a collective (cp. Ges. K. Gramm. § 122 s). Oettli, however, suggests that a favourite mare is meant, and in that case we should render to my mare in Pharaoh’s chariots have I compared thee. The plural, chariots, makes a slight difficulty, but it may be meant to indicate that this favourite steed was driven in various chariots. This reference to Egyptian chariots and horses is specially Solomonic (cp. 1 Kings 10:26-29), as he first introduced the horse and chariot as a regular part of the army of Israel. To us this may seem a very unbecoming simile, but in the East women are held in lighter esteem than with us, and the horse in higher esteem. Arabic poets often use such comparisons for the women they love. But perhaps there is intended here a hint of the quality of the king’s affection. Cp. Tennyson, Locksley Hall,

“He will hold thee, when his passion shall have spent its novel force,

Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his horse.”

Chap. Song of Solomon 1:9—Chap. Song of Solomon 2:7. A King’s Love despised

In this scene Solomon presses his love upon the Shulammite for the first time; but in reply to his endeavours to win her she always utters praises of her absent lover. She contrasts their humble woodland resting-place with the royal palace, and declares herself to be a modest country flower which cannot bloom elsewhere than in the country. Finally, grown love-sick at the thought of her lover, she turns to the ladies of the court, beseeching them to restore her strength, and adjures them not to seek to kindle love, which should always be spontaneous, by any unworthy or extraneous means.Verse 9. - (Entrance of the bridegroom.) I have compared thee, O my love, to a steed in Pharaoh's chariots. There can be no reasonable doubt that these words are put into the mouth of the king. The "steed" is in the feminine (סוּסָה); some would point the word with the plural vowels, that is, "to my horses," or a "body of horses." There is no necessity for that. The reference to a particular very lovely mare is more apt and pointed. In 1 Kings 10:26 we read in the LXX. Version of τεσσάρες χιλίαδες θηλειαὶ ἵπποι, which Solomon had for his chariots - fourteen hundred war chariots and twelve thousand horsemen. The Pharaoh chariots were those which the king had imported from Egypt (1 Kings 10:28, 29; 2 Chronicles 9:28). It may be that the reference is to the splendid decoration of the trappings. Delitzsch very rightly sees in such a figure a confirmation of the view that Solomon himself was the author. The horses from Egypt were famed at that time as those of Arabia became afterwards. The names both of horses and chariots in the Egyptian language were borrowed from the Semitic, as they were probably first imported into Egypt by the Hyksos, or shepherd kings. Other examples of the same comparison are found in poetry, as in Horace, Anacreon, and Theocritus. In the last ('Idyl.,' 18:30, 31) occur the following lines, rendered into English verse: -

"As towers the cypress 'mid the garden's bloom,
As in the chariot proud Thessalian steed,
Thus graceful, rose-complexioned Helen moves."
The idea is that of stately beauty and graceful movements. The old commentators see the Divine love of espousals (Jeremiah 2:2), as in the wilderness of the Exodus, and afterwards in the wilderness of the world. The Bible is full of the expression of Divine tenderness and regard for man. This comparison suaves prae vino, as well as that which in line 3 of the pentastich, Sol 1:3,

To smell thy ointments are sweet

shows that when this song is sung wine is presented and perfumes are sprinkled; but the love of the host is, for those who sing, more excellent than all. It is maintained that ריח signifies fragrance emitted, and not smell. Hence Hengst., Hahn, Hlem., and Zck. explain: in odour thy ointments are sweet. Now the words can certainly, after Joshua 22:10; Job 32:4; 1 Kings 10:23, mean "sweet in (of) smell;" but in such cases the word with Lamed of reference naturally stands after that to which it gives the nearer reference, not as here before it. Therefore Hengst.: ad odorem unguentorem tuorum quod attinet bonus est, but such giving prominence to the subject and attraction (cf. 1 Samuel 2:4; Job 15:20) exclude one another; the accentuation correctly places לריה out of the gen. connection. Certainly this word, like the Arab. ryḥ, elsewhere signifies odor, and the Hiph. הריח (araḥ) odorari; but why should not ריח be also used in the sense of odoratus, since in the post-bibl. Heb. הריח חושׁ means the sense of smell, and also in Germ. "riechen" means to emit fragrance as well as to perceive fragrance? We explain after Genesis 2:9, where Lamed introduces the sense of sight, as here the sense of smell. Zckl. and others reply that in such a case the word would have been לריח; but the art. is wanting also at Genesis 2:9 (cf. Sol 3:6), and was not necessary, especially in poetry, which has the same relation to the art. as to asher, which, wherever practicable, is omitted.

Thus in line 4:

An ointment poured forth is thy name.

By "thy ointments," line 3, spices are meant, by which the palace was perfumed; but the fragrance of which, as line 4 says, is surpassed by the fragrance of his name. שׁם (name) and שׁמן (fragrance) form a paranomasia by which the comparison is brought nearer Ecclesiastes 7:1. Both words are elsewhere mas.; but sooner than שׁם, so frequently and universally mas. (although its plur. is שׁמות, but cf. אבות), שׁמן may be used as fem., although a parallel example is wanting (cf. devǎsh, mōr, nōphěth, kěmāh, and the like, which are constantly mas.). Ewald therefore translates שמן תורק as a proper name: "O sweet Salbenduft" Fragrance of Ointment; and Bttcher sees in turǎk a subst. in the sense of "sprinkling" [Spreng-Oel]; but a name like "Rosenoel" [oil of roses] would be more appropriately formed, and a subst. form תורק is, in Heb. at least, unexampled (for neither תּוּגה nor תּוּבל, in the name Tubal-Cain, is parallel). Frst imagines "a province in Palestine where excellent oil was got," called Turak; "Turkish" Rosenl recommends itself, on the contrary, by the fact of its actual existence. Certainly less is hazarded when we regard shěměn, as here treated exceptionally, as fem.; thus, not: ut unguentum nomen tuum effunditur, which, besides, is unsuitable, since one does not empty out or pour out a name; but: unguentum quod effunditur (Hengst., Hahn, and others), an ointment which is taken out of its depository and is sprinkled far and wide, is thy name. The harsh expression שׁמן מוּרק is intentionally avoided; the old Heb. language is not φιλομέτοχος (fond of participles); and, besides, מורק sounds badly with מרק, to rub off, to wash away. Perhaps, also, יוּרק שׁמן is intentionally avoided, because of the collision of the weak sounds n and j. The name Shēm is derived from the verb shāmā, to be high, prominent, remarkable: whence also the name for the heavens (vid., under Psalm 8:2). That attractive charm (lines 2, 3), and this glory (line 4), make him, the praised, an object of general love, line 5, Sol 1:3::

Therefore virgins love thee.

This "therefore" reminds us of Psalm 45. עלמות (sing. Isaiah 7:14), from עלם (Arab.), ghalima, pubescere, are maidens growing to maturity. The intrans. form אהבוּך, with transitive signification, indicates a pathos. The perf. is not to be translated dilexerunt, but is to be judged of according to Gesen. 126. 3: they have acquired love to thee ( equals love thee), as the ἠγάπησάν σε of the Greek translators is to be understood. The singers themselves are the evidence of the existence of this love.

With these words the first pentastich of the table-song terminates. The mystical interpretation regards it as a song of praise and of loving affection which is sung to Christ the King, the fairest of the children of men, by the church which is His own. The Targum, in line first, thinks of the "mouth to mouth" [Numbers 12:8] in the intercourse of Moses with God. Evidence of divine love is also elsewhere thought of as a kiss: the post-bibl. Heb. calls the gentlest death the death בנשׁיקה, i.e., by which God takes away the soul with a kiss.

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