Song of Solomon 4:12
A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) A garden inclosed.—Comp. with this passage Song of Solomon 4:12-15; Proverbs 5:15; Proverbs 5:21. The closed or walled garden and the sealed fountain appear to have been established metaphors for the pure and chaste wife. For the latter, at least, there is not only the above passage in Proverbs, but a prayer still in use in Jewish marriages: “Suffer not a stranger to enter into the sealed fountain,” &c

Song of Solomon 4:12. A garden — For order and beauty, for pleasant walks, and flowers, and fruits; enclosed — Defended by the care of my providence:

and reserved for my proper use. A spring shut up — To preserve it from all pollution, and to reserve it for the use of its owner, for which reason springs were shut up in those countries where water was scarce and precious.

4:8-15 Observe the gracious call Christ gives to the church. It is, 1. A precept; so this is Christ's call to his church to come off from the world. These hills seem pleasant, but there are in them lions' dens; they are mountains of the leopards. 2. As a promise; many shall be brought as members of the church, from every point. The church shall be delivered from her persecutors in due time, though now she dwells among lions, Ps 57:4. Christ's heart is upon his church; his treasure is therein; and he delights in the affection she has for him; its working in the heart, and its works in the life. The odours wherewith the spouse is perfumed, are as the gifts and graces of the Spirit. Love and obedience to God are more pleasing to Christ than sacrifice or incense. Christ having put upon his spouse the white raiment of his own righteousness, and the righteousness of saints, and perfumed it with holy joy and comfort, he is well pleased with it. And Christ walks in his garden unseen. A hedge of protection is made around, which all the powers of darkness cannot break through. The souls of believers are as gardens enclosed, where is a well of living water, Joh 4:14; 7:38, the influences of the Holy Spirit. The world knows not these wells of salvation, nor can any opposer corrupt this fountain. Saints in the church, and graces in the saints, are fitly compared to fruits and spices. They are planted, and do not grow of themselves. They are precious; they are the blessings of this earth. They will be kept to good purpose when flowers are withered. Grace, when ended in glory, will last for ever. Christ is the source which makes these gardens fruitful; even a well of living waters.The loveliness and purity of the bride are now set forth under the image of a paradise or garden fast barred against intruders, filled with rarest plants of excellent fragrance, and watered by abundant streams. Compare Proverbs 5:15-20.

Songs 4:12

A fountain sealed - i. e., A well-spring covered with a stone Genesis 29:3, and sealed with "the king's own signet" (Daniel 6:17; compare Matthew 27:66).

12. The Hebrew has no "is." Here she is distinct from the garden (So 5:1), yet identified with it (So 4:16) as being one with Him in His sufferings. Historically the Paradise, into which the soul of Jesus Christ entered at death; and the tomb of Joseph, in which His body was laid amid "myrrh," &c. (So 4:6), situated in a nicely kept garden (compare "gardener," Joh 20:15); "sealed" with a stone (Mt 27:66); in which it resembles "wells" in the East (Ge 29:3, 8). It was in a garden of light Adam fell; in a garden of darkness, Gethsemane, and chiefly that of the tomb, the second Adam retrieved us. Spiritually the garden is the gospel kingdom of heaven. Here all is ripe; previously (So 2:13) it was "the tender grape." The garden is His, though He calls the plants hers (So 4:13) by His gift (Isa 61:3, end).

spring … fountain—Jesus Christ (Joh 4:10) sealed, while He was in the sealed tomb: it poured forth its full tide on Pentecost (Joh 7:37-39). Still He is a sealed fountain until the Holy Ghost opens it to one (1Co 12:3). The Church also is "a garden enclosed" (Ps 4:3; Isa 5:1, &c.). Contrast Ps 80:9-12. So "a spring" (Isa 27:3; 58:11); "sealed" (Eph 4:30; 2Ti 2:19). As wives in the East are secluded from public gaze, so believers (Ps 83:3; Col 3:3). Contrast the open streams which "pass away" (Job 6:15-18; 2Pe 2:17).

A garden, for order and beauty, for pleasant walks, and flowers, and fruits.

Enclosed; either,

1. Defended by the care of my providence; or,

2. Reserved for my proper use. She will not admit of other lovers, either false teachers or worldly lusts, but keeps herself close for me. She is chaste, and pure, and modest, as virgins are or should be.

A spring; either,

1. For others, sending forth the wholesome streams of saving doctrine, for the refreshing, and healing, and cleansing of those who receive it. Or,

2. Within herself, being well watered, i.e. replenished with spiritual graces and blessings, which are frequently compared to waters, both in the Old and New Testament, as Isaiah 44:3 John 4:10 7:38, for which the church is compared to a watered garden, or a spring of water, Isaiah 58:11.

Shut up; either,

1. To preserve it from all pollution or injury; or,

2. To reserve it for the use and service of its owner, for which reason springs were shut up in those countries where water was scarce and precious, as Genesis 29:3.

A fountain sealed; the same thing is here repeated in other words.

A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse,.... At a little distance from Bethlehem are pools of water, and below these runs a narrow rocky valley, enclosed on both sides with high mountains which the friars, as Mr. Maundrell says (d) will have to be the enclosed garden here alluded to; but it is more likely that the allusion is to a garden near Jerusalem, called the king's garden, Adrichomius (e) makes mention of, which was shut up, and only for the king's use and pleasure: to which the church may be compared; for its being distinguished from the world's wide waste, by the sovereign grace of God; and for the smallness of it in comparison of that; and for its pleasantness and fruitfulness, having pleasant and precious plants of great renown; or consisting of persons of different gifts and graces; in whose hearts these are not naturally, or do not grow there of themselves; but are sown or planted and raised up by the Spirit of God, for which the fallow ground of their hearts is thrown up: and that everything may be kept in good order, as in a garden, the plants are watered with the grace of God; the trees of righteousness are pruned by Christ's father, the vinedresser; the fences are kept up, and the whole is watched over night and day; and here Christ, the owner of it, takes his delightful walks, and grants his presence with his people. And the church is like an "enclosed" garden; for distinction, being separated by the grace of God, in election, redemption, effectual calling, &c. and for protection, being encompassed with the power of God, as a wall about it; and for secrecy, being so closely surrounded, that it is not to be seen nor known by the world; and indeed is not accessible to any but to believers in Christ; and is peculiarly for his use, who is the proprietor of it; see Sol 4:16;

a spring shut up, a fountain sealed; the allusion may be to the sealed fountains great personages reserved for their own use; such as the kings of Persia had, of which the king and his eldest son only might drink (f); and King Solomon might have such a spring and fountain in his garden, either at Jerusalem or at Ethan, where he had pleasant gardens, in which he took great delight, as Josephus (g) relates: and near the pools, at some distance from Bethlehem, supposed to be his, is a fountain, which the friars will have to be the sealed fountain here alluded to; and, to confirm which, they pretend a tradition, that Solomon shut up these springs, and kept the door of them sealed with his signet, to preserve the waters for his own drinking; and Mr. Maundrell (h), who saw them, says it was not difficult so to secure them, they rising underground, and having no avenue to them, but by a little hole, like to the mouth of a narrow well. Now the church may be thus compared, because of the abundance of grace in her, and in each of her members, which is as a well of living water, springing up unto everlasting life, John 4:14; and because of the doctrines of the Gospel, called a fountain, Joel 3:18; with which Gospel ministers water the plants in Christ's garden, the members of the church; whereby they are revived, refreshed, and flourish; and their souls become as a watered garden, whose springs fail not. Though some read this clause in connection with the former; "a garden enclosed art thou, with a spring" or flow of water "shut up, and with a fountain sealed" (i); meaning Christ and his fulness; from whence all grace is received by the church and its members; and with which they are supplied, and their souls are watered: and the phrases, "shut up" and "sealed", which, whether applied to the doctrines of grace and truth, in and from Christ, may denote the secrecy and safety of them from the men of the world; or to the grace of Christ, communicated by him to the saints, may denote the security of it, the invisible operations of it, and the sole exercise of it on him: for these phrases denote the inviolable chastity of the church to Christ, in her faith, love, service, and worship; see Proverbs 5:15; and are used in the Jewish writings (k), to express the chastity of the bride. Ambrose affirms (l), that what Plato (m) says concerning Jove's garden, elsewhere called by him the garden of the mind, is taken out of Solomon's Song.

(d) Journey from Aleppo, &c. p. 89. Edit. 7. (e) Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 170. (f) Theatrum Deipnosoph. l. 12. c. 2. p. 515. (g) Antiqu. l. 8. c. 7. s. 3. Vid. Adrichom. p. 170. (h) Journey from Aleppo &c. p. 88, 89. (i) "Cum fluctu obserato, cum fonte obsignato", Marckius, so some in Michaelis. (k) T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 75. Apud Wagenseil. Sota, p. 240. Seder Tephillot, fol. 203. 1. Ed. Basil. vid. Targum, Jarchi & Aben Ezra in loc. (l) De Bono Mortis, c. 5. (m) In Sympos. p. 1194.

A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. a spring shut up] The word rendered spring is gal, not found elsewhere in this sense. Another derivative from the same root is used in Joshua 15:19 and Jdg 1:15 in a similar sense. Some MSS., the LXX, the Vulg. and Syr. have gan=‘a garden,’ repeated, and Budde with others prefers this reading. But it is difficult to see why the perfectly simple and satisfactory gan should have been changed into the more difficult gal. The only argument for gan which seems to have much weight is that the ‘spring’ is mentioned again immediately under another name. But that is met by Delitzsch, who distinguishes the ‘spring’ from the ‘fountain’; the latter being the place whence the former issues forth.

a fountain sealed] Cp. Proverbs 5:15-18. The fountain is the condition precedent of the garden, so that the metaphor is not changed. Perhaps the three nouns of the verse should be distinguished thus: A garden shut in is my sister my bride, a streamlet shut in, a sealed spring. Del. points out that chôthâm, ‘a seal,’ is used directly of maiden-like behaviour.

12–15. These verses are a further comparison of the bride in her beauty to a garden in its splendour of colour and its fertility, but a garden shut or closed to all but its lawful owner. The reference is to her modesty and chastity. Nâ‘ûl is properly shut and bolted.

Verse 12. - A garden shut up is my sister, my bride; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. We must bear in mind that these words are supposed to be spoken on the journey in the marriage procession. The bride is not yet brought to the royal palace. She is still travelling in the royal palanquin. The idea of a paradise or garden is carried from the beginning of Scripture to the end, the symbol of perfect blessedness. The figure of the closed or shut-up garden represents the bridegroom's delight in the sense of absolute and sole possession - for himself and no other. The language is very natural at such a time, when the bride is being taken from her home. We may compare with the figures here employed those in Proverbs 5:15-20. Song of Solomon 4:12The praise is sensuous, but it has a moral consecration.

12 A garden locked is my sister-bride;

     A spring locked, a fountain sealed.

גּן (according to rule masc. Bttch. 658) denotes the garden from its enclosure; גּ (elsewhere נּלּה ere), the fountain (synon. מבּוּע), the waves bubbling forth (cf. Amos 5:24); and מעין, the place, as it were an eye of the earth, from which a fountain gushes forth. Luther distinguishes rightly between gan and gal; on the contrary, all the old translators (even the Venet.) render as if the word in both cases were gan. The Pasek between gan and nā'ul, and between gal and nā'ul, is designed to separate the two Nuns, as e.g., at 2 Chronicles 2:9; Nehemiah 2:2, the two Mems; it is the orthophonic Pasek, already described under Sol 2:7, which secures the independence of two similar or organically related sounds. Whether the sealed fountain (fons signatus) alludes to a definite fountain which Solomon had built for the upper city and the temple place,

(Note: Vid., Zschocke in the Tbinger Quartalschrift, 1867, 3.)

we do not now inquire. To a locked garden and spring no one has access but the rightful owner, and a sealed fountain is shut against all impurity. Thus she is closed against the world, and inaccessible to all that would disturb her pure heart, or desecrate her pure person.

(Note: Seal, חותם, pers. muhr, is used directly in the sense of maiden-like behaviour; vid., Perles' etymol. Studien (1871), p. 67.)

All the more beautiful and the greater is the fulness of the flowers and fruits which bloom and ripen in the garden of this life, closed against the world and its lust.

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