Song of Solomon 2:5
Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(5) Flagons.—Heb., ashishôth, apparently a dried cake, but of what substance is uncertain. From the margin of Hosea 3:1, possibly “grape cakes.” In 2Samuel 6:19 it occurs as one of the gifts distributed by David at the removal of the ark, and is rendered by the LXX., a cake from the frying-pan. Here the LXX. have sweet unguents, and the Vulg. flowers. The Authorised Version, flagons, follows a Rabbinical interpretation.

Comfort.—The margin, straw me with apples, follows the LXX.; the Hebrew word occurs in Job 17:3; Authorised Version, “make my bed”—Job 41:30 (Heb. 22). Authorised Version, “spreadeth.” Hence some translate here, “make me a bed of apple-leaves;” but the parallelism is against this, and the root idea in both the words translated “comfort” and “stay” is putting a prop or support under. Metaphorically = refresh or sustain.

2:1-7 Believers are beautiful, as clothed in the righteousness of Christ; and fragrant, as adorned with the graces of his Spirit; and they thrive under the refreshing beams of the Sun of righteousness. The lily is a very noble plant in the East; it grows to a considerable height, but has a weak stem. The church is weak in herself, yet is strong in Him that supports her. The wicked, the daughters of this world, who have no love to Christ, are as thorns, worthless and useless, noxious and hurtful. Corruptions are thorns in the flesh; but the lily now among thorns, shall be transplanted into that paradise where there is no brier or thorn. The world is a barren tree to the soul; but Christ is a fruitful one. And when poor souls are parched with convictions of sin, with the terrors of the law, or the troubles of this world, weary and heavy laden, they may find rest in Christ. It is not enough to pass by this shadow, but we must sit down under it. Believers have tasted that the Lord Jesus is gracious; his fruits are all the precious privileges of the new covenant, purchased by his blood, and communicated by his Spirit; promises are sweet to a believer, and precepts also. Pardons are sweet, and peace of conscience sweet. If our mouths are out of taste for the pleasures of sin, Divine consolations will be sweet to us. Christ brings the soul to seek and to find comforts through his ordinances, which are as a banqueting-house where his saints feast with him. The love of Christ, manifested by his death, and by his word, is the banner he displays, and believers resort to it. How much better is it with the soul when sick from love to Christ, than when surfeited with the love of this world! And though Christ seemed to have withdrawn, yet he was even then a very present help. All his saints are in his hand, which tenderly holds their aching heads. Finding Christ thus nigh to her, the soul is in great care that her communion with him is not interrupted. We easily grieve the Spirit by wrong tempers. Let those who have comfort, fear sinning it away.Flagons - More probably cakes of raisins or dried grapes (2 Samuel 6:19 note; 1 Chronicles 16:3; Hosea 3:1). For an instance of the reviving power of dried fruit, see 1 Samuel 30:12.5. flagons—Maurer prefers translating, "dried raisin cakes"; from the Hebrew root "fire," namely, dried by heat. But the "house of wine" (So 2:4, Margin) favors "flagons"; the "new wine" of the kingdom, the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

apples—from the tree (So 2:3), so sweet to her, the promises of God.

sick of love—the highest degree of sensible enjoyment that can be attained here. It may be at an early or late stage of experience. Paul (2Co 12:7). In the last sickness of J. Welch, he was overheard saying, "Lord, hold thine hand, it is enough; thy servant is a clay vessel, and can hold no more" [Fleming, Fulfilling of the Scriptures]. In most cases this intensity of joy is reserved for the heavenly banquet. Historically, Israel had it, when the Lord's glory filled the tabernacle, and afterwards the temple, so that the priests could not stand to minister: so in the Christian Church on Pentecost. The bride addresses Christ mainly, though in her rapture she uses the plural, "Stay (ye) me," speaking generally. So far from asking the withdrawal of the manifestations which had overpowered her, she asks for more: so "fainteth for" (Ps 84:2): also Peter, on the mount of transfiguration (Lu 9:33), "Let us make … not knowing what he said."

Stay me; or, support me; keep me from sinking or fainting. The spouse speaks this to her bridemaids, the daughters of Jerusalem, as it is expressed, Song of Solomon 2:7, or to the servants or friends of the Bridegroom there waiting, and to the Bridegroom himself; as a person ready to faint cries to any or all that are near to him or her for help.

With flagons; with wine, which is a good cordial, Psalm 104:15 Proverbs 31:6,7, and which was there present, Song of Solomon 2:4. Flagons are here, and 1 Chronicles 16:3, put for flagons of wine, as it is fully expressed, Hosea 3:1, or for the wine contained in them, as the cup is put for wine, Luke 22:20, by a common metonymy.

Comfort me with apples; with odoriferous apples, such as pomegranates, or the like, the smell whereof was grateful and useful to persons ready to faint. By these metaphors understand the application of the promises, and the comfortable and quickening influences of the Spirit.

I am sick of love; either,

1. With transports of joy, which sometimes causes a fainting of the spirits, as Genesis 45:26 1 Kings 10:5. Or,

2. With grief for his departure from her, of which we read Song of Solomon 3:1,2, or for fear of it. Or rather,

3. With ardent desire of a stricter union, and clearer discoveries of his love, and perfect and uninterrupted communion with him in glory. That sickness is sometimes the effect of love hath been oft observed by physicians. Stay me with flagons,.... Of wine, which is a supporter of the animal spirits (w). The church was now in a house of wine, where was plenty of it; even of the love of Christ, compared to wine, and preferred unto it, Sol 1:2; the church though she had had large discoveries of it, desired more; and such that have once tasted of this love are eagerly desirous of it, and cannot be satisfied until they have their fill of it in heaven: the flagons, being vessels in which wine is put, and from thence poured out, may signify the word and ordinances, in which the love of Christ is displayed and manifested; the church desires she might be stayed and supported hereby, while she was attending on Christ in them;

comfort me with apples; with exceeding great and precious promises; which, when fitly spoken and applied, are "like apples of gold in pictures of silver", Proverbs 25:11; and are very comforting: or rather, with fresh and greater manifestations of his love still; for the apple is an emblem of love, as before observed; for one to send or throw an apple to another indicated love (x). It may be rendered, "strew me with apples" (y); in great quantities, about me, before me, and under me, and all around me, that I may lie down among them, and be sweetly refreshed and strengthened: the words, both in this and the former clause, are in the plural number; and so may be an address to the other two divine Persons, along with Christ, to grant further manifestations of love unto her, giving the following reason for it:

for I am sick of love; not as loathing it, but as wanting, and eagerly desirous of more of it; being, as the Septuagint version is, "wounded" (z) with it; love's dart stuck in her, and she was inflamed therewith: and "languished" (a); as the Vulgate Latin version is; with earnest desires after it; nor could she be easy without it, as is the case of lovers.

(w) "Vino fulcire venas cadentes", Senecae Ephesians 95. (x) "Malo me Galatea petit", Virgil. Bucolic. Eclog. 3. v. 64. Vid. Theocrit. Idyll. 3. v. 10. & Idyll. 6. v. 6, 7. & Suidam in voce (y) "sternite ante me", so some in Vatablus; "substernite mihi", Tigurine version, Piscator. (z) Sept. (a) "Langueo amore", V. L. so Michaelis; "aegrotus" is used in this sense, in Terent. Heautont. l. 1.

Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. flagons] The Heb. ’ashîshôth means raisin cakes, cp. Hosea 3:1, and is connected possibly with Arab. ’assasa, ‘to found’ or ‘establish,’ and so ‘cakes of pressed fruit.’ The LXX translate ἐν μύροις and the Vulg. floribus, under the impression that the Shulammite calls for restoratives to prevent fainting, just as smelling-salts are used in our day. But that can hardly be the case, as ’ashîshôth would not be suitable for this purpose, nor apples either, though, as we have seen, the sick desire apples for their smell. Her love and longing have brought her into a state of physical weakness, to bear up against which she needs stimulating and sustaining food. This the raisin cakes and apples would supply. The ‘flagons’ of the A.V. is derived from the Rabbinic commentators, cp. Ibn Ezra on this verse, “ashîshôth, vessels of glass full of wine.” But there is no support for it.

sick of love] i.e. weakened and made faint by hope deferred and disappointed longing. Delitzsch’s idea that she is fainting because of excessive delight is less likely. A country girl would scarcely be liable to an excess of weakness demanding restoratives of this kind from such a cause.Verse 5. - Stay me with raisins, comfort me with apples: for I am sick of love. Again the intensive form of the verb is chosen. She is almost sinking; she cries out for comfort. The food for which she longs is the grape cakes - the grapes sufficiently dried to be pressed together as cakes, which is very refreshing and reviving; not raisins as we know them, but with more of the juice of the grape in them. So date cakes are now offered to travellers in the East. "Refresh me; for I am in a state of deep agitation because of the intensity of my love." Ginsburg thinks the cakes are baked by the fire, the word being derived from a root "to burn." The translation, "flagons of wine," in the Authorized Version, follows the rabbinical exposition, but it is quite unsupported by the critics. Love sickness is common in Eastern countries, more so than with us in the colder hemisphere. Perhaps the appeal of the bride is meant to be general, not immediately directed to the king, as if a kind of exclamation, and it may be connected with the previous idea of the banner. The country maiden is dazzled with the splendour and majesty of the king. She gives up, as it were, in willing resignation of herself, the rivalry with one so great and glorious in the expression of love and praise; she sinks back with delight and ecstasy, calling upon any around to support her, and Solomon himself answers the appeal, and puts his loving arm around her and holds up her head, and gives her the sweetest and tenderest embraces, which renew her strength. We know that in the spiritual life there are such experiences. The intensity of religious feeling is closely connected with physical exhaustion, and when the soul cries for help and longs for comfort, the presence of the Saviour is revealed; the weakness is changed into strength. The apostolic seer in the Apocalypse describes himself as overcome with the glory of the Saviour's appearance, and being brought back to himself by his voice (Revelation 1:17). 16 Behold, thou art comely, my beloved; yea charming;

     Yea, our couch is luxuriously green.

17 The beams of our house are cedars,

     Our wainscot of cypresses.

If Sol 1:16 were not the echo of her heart to Solomon, but if she therewith meant some other one, then the poet should at least not have used הנּך, but הנּה. Hitzig remarks, that up to "my beloved" the words appear as those of mutual politeness - that therefore נעים (charming) is added at once to distinguish her beloved from the king, who is to her insufferable. But if a man and a woman are together, and he says הנּכך and she says הנּך, that is as certainly an interchange of address as that one and one are two and not three. He praises her beauty; but in her eyes it is rather he who is beautiful, yea charming: she rejoices beforehand in that which is assigned to her. Where else would her conjugal happiness find its home but among her own rural scenes? The city with its noisy display does not please her; and she knows, indeed, that her beloved is a king, but she thinks of him as a shepherd. Therefore she praises the fresh green of their future homestead; cedar tops will form the roof of the house in which they dwell, and cypresses its wainscot. The bed, and particularly the bridal-bower (D. M. Z. xxii. 153), - but not merely the bed in which one sleeps, but also the cushion for rest, the divan (Amos 6:4), - has the name ערשׂ, from ערשׂ, to cover over; cf. the "network of goats' hair" (1 Samuel 19:13) and the κωνωπεῖον of Holofernes (Judith 10:21; 13:9), (whence our kanapee equals canopy), a bed covered over for protection against the κώνωπες, the gnats. רענן, whence here the fem. adj. accented on the ult., is not a word of colour, but signifies to be extensible, and to extend far and wide, as lentus in lenti salices; we have no word such as this which combines in itself the ideas of softness and juicy freshness, of bending and elasticity, of looseness, and thus of overhanging ramification (as in the case of the weeping willow). The beams are called קרות, from קרה, to meet, to lay crosswise, to hold together (cf. congingere and contignare). רחיטנוּ (after another reading, רח, from רחיט, with Kametz immutable, or a virtual Dag.) is North Palest. equals רה equals .tse (Kerı̂), for in place of רהטים, troughs (Exodus 2:16), the Samarit. has רחטים (cf. sahar and sahhar, circumire, zahar and zahhar, whence the Syr. name of scarlet); here the word, if it is not defect. plur. (Heiligst.), is used as collect. sing. of the hollows or panels of a wainscoted ceiling, like φάτναι, whence the lxx φατνώματα (Symm. φατνώσεις), and like lacunae, whence lacunaria, for which Jerome has here laquearia, which equally denotes the wainscot ceiling. Abulwald glosses the word rightly by מרזבים, gutters (from רהט, to run); only this and οἱ διάδρομοι of the Gr. Venet. is not an architectural expression, like רהיטים, which is still found in the Talm. (vid., Buxtorf's Lex.). To suppose a transposition from חריטנו, from חרט, to turn, to carve (Ew., Heiligst., Hitz.), is accordingly not necessary. As the ת in בּרותים belongs to the North Palest. (Galilean) form of speech,

(Note: Pliny, H. N. xxiv. 102, ed. Jan., notes brathy as the name of the savin-tree Juniperus sabina. Wetstein is inclined to derive the name of Beirut from ברות, as the name of the sweet pine, the tree peculiar to the Syrian landscape, and which, growing on the sandy hills, prevents the town from being filled with flying sand. The cypress is now called (Arab.) sanawbar; regarding its old names, and their signification in the figurative language of love, vid., under Isaiah 41:19.)

so also ח for ה in this word: an exchange of the gutturals was characteristic of the Galilean idiom (vid., Talm. citations by Frankel, Einl. in d. jerus. Talm. 1870, 7b). Well knowing that a mere hut was not suitable for the king, Shulamith's fancy converts one of the magnificent nature-temples of the North Palest. forest-solitudes into a house where, once together, they will live each for the other. Because it is a large house, although not large by art, she styles it by the poet. plur. bāattenu. The mystical interpretation here finds in Isaiah 60:13 a favourable support.

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