Song of Solomon 4:13
Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
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(13) Thy plants.—Some have thought the offspring of the marriage intended here; but the poet is plainly, by a new adaptation of the language of flowers, describing the charms of the person of his beloved.

Orchard.—Heb. pardes; LXX. παράδεισος; found only elsewhere in Nehemiah 2:8 (where see Note), Ecclesiastes 2:5. The pomegranate was perhaps an emblem of love, having been held sacred to the Syrian Venus. (See Tristram, Nat. Hist. of Bible, p. 389.)

Camphire.—See Note, Song of Solomon 1:14.

Song of Solomon 4:13-14. Thy plants are an orchard — Believers, which are planted in thee, are like the plants or fruits of an orchard, which are pleasant to the eye, and delicious to the taste or smell, whereby he signifies the variety and excellence of the gifts and graces in the several members of the church. Spike-nard — Which he mentions here with camphire, and in the next verse with saffron, because it is mixed with both these, and, being so mixed, yields the more grateful smell. All trees of frankincense — Such trees as produce frankincense.

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.Orchard - This is the renderlng here and in Ecclesiastes 2:5 of "pardes" (see Nehemiah 2:8 note). The pomegranate was for the Jews a sacred fruit, and a characteristic product of the land of promise (compare Exodus 28:33-34; Numbers 20:5; Deuteronomy 8:8; 1 Kings 7:18, 1 Kings 7:20). It is frequently mentioned in the Song, and always in connection with the bride. It abounds to this day in the ravines of the Lebanon.

Camphire - Cyprus. See Sol 1:14 note.

Songs 4:13-15

Seven kinds of spices (some of them with Indian names, e. g. aloes, spikenard, saffron) are enumerated as found in this symbolic garden. They are for the most part pure exotics which have formed for countless ages articles of commerce in the East, and were brought at that time in Solomon's ships from southern Arabia, the great Indian Peninsula, and perhaps the islands of the Indian Archipelago. The picture here is best regarded as a purely ideal one, having no corresponding reality but in the bride herself. The beauties and attractions of both north and south - of Lebanon with its streams of sparkling water and fresh mountain air, of Engedi with its tropical climate and henna plantations, of the spice-groves of Arabia Felix, and of the rarest products of the distant mysterious Ophir - all combine to furnish one glorious representation, "Thou art all fair!"

13. orchard—Hebrew, "a paradise," that is, a pleasure-ground and orchard. Not only flowers, but fruit trees (Joh 15:8; Php 1:11).

camphire—not camphor (So 1:14), hennah, or cypress blooms.

Thy plants, the plants of thy garden, believers which are planted in thee,

are an orchard; are like the plants or fruits of an orchard, which are pleasant to the eye, and delicious to the taste or smell, such as are here mentioned in the following words; whereby he signifies the variety and excellency of gifts and graces in the several members of the church.

Spikenard; which he mentions both here with camphire or cypress, and in the next verse with saffron, because it is mixed with both these, and being so mixed, yieldeth the more grateful smell.

Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates,.... These plants are the members of the church, true converts, believers in Christ; pleasant plants, plants of renown, planted in the church by Christ's heavenly Father, and shall never be plucked up; or, thy gardens, as it may be rendered (n); particular churches, well taken care of and watered; these make an orchard, or are like one, even a paradise, as the word (o) signifies: it is generally thought to be a Persic word; see Nehemiah 2:8; but Hillerus (p) derives it from to "separate", it being a garden, separated and enclosed as before; one like Eden's garden, exceeding pleasant and delightful: and not like an orchard of any sort of trees, but of "pomegranates", of which there were plenty in Canaan, hence called a "land of pomegranates", Deuteronomy 8:8; many places in it had their names from thence, Joshua 15:32. To which believers in Christ may be compared, for the various sorts of them (q), for their largeness, fruitfulness, and uprightness; saints have gifts and grace, differing from one another as to size, but all pomegranates, trees of righteousness; some are larger, and excel others, are full of all the fruits of righteousness; but all are, more or less, fruitful and upright in heart: and so the saints of the higher class may be here designed, as those of a lower are by other trees and spices after mentioned;

with pleasant fruits; that are valuable, precious, and desirable, of which an enumeration follows:

camphire, with spikenard; or "cypresses", or "cyprusses with nards" (r); both in the plural number: the former may intend cypress trees, so called on account of their berries and fruits growing in clusters; see Sol 1:14; and the latter, because there are different sorts of them, as "nardus Italica", "Indica", and "Celtica": to these saints may be compared, because pleasant and delightful, of a sweet smell, and rare and excellent.

(n) Vid. Guisium in Misn. Sheviith, c. 2. s. 2.((o) Sept. "paradisus", Pagninus, Montanus, Tigurine version, Cocceius, Marckius, Michaelis. (p) Onomastic. Sacr. p. 291. (q) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 13. c. 19. (r) So Junius & Tremellius, Piscator.

Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard,
13. Thy plants are an orchard] Better, Thy shoots make an orchard. These shoots denote all the bride’s charms. Orchard is in Heb. pardçs, which is merely a grander word for gan, and is originally Persian=‘a paradise.’ It is found elsewhere in the O.T. only in Nehemiah 2:8 and Ecclesiastes 2:5. It is usually and rightly regarded as a proof of the late origin of this book. Cp. Introduction, § 4.

pleasant fruits] Lit. fruits of excellence, R.V. precious fruits.

camphire] Properly, henna. See note on ch. Song of Solomon 1:14.

spikenard] Cp. ch. Song of Solomon 1:12. Grätz for nerâdhîm reads werâdhîm = roses. Rather than that Budde would strike out the last three words as a repetition. But either suggestion would detract from the poetical character of the passage.

Verses 13, 14. - Thy shoots are an orchard of pomegranates, with precious fruits; henna with spikenard plants, spikenard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices. Thy shoots; i.e. that which comes forth from thee, thy plants, or, as Bottcher puts it, "all the phenomena and life utterances of her personality." All the plants had their meaning in flower language. They are mostly exotics. But it is difficult now to suggest meanings, though they may have been familiar to Jewish readers at the time. The pardes, "park, or enclosure," was adorned especially with foreign and fragrant plants of great beauty. It is an Old Persian word, perhaps, as Delitzsch suggests, from pairi (περὶ) and dez (Pers. diz), "a heap." Precious fruit; literally, fructus laudam, "fruits of renown" or excellence (cf. Syriac magdo, "dried fruit"). The carcom, or saffron, a kind of crocus (Ind. safran), yields the saffron colour from its dried flower eyes, used both as a cosmetic and as a medicine (cf. Sansc. kuakuma). The calamus, simply a reed, the sweet reed, a corn indigenous to the East. Cinnamon (Quinnamon), Laurus cinnamomum, is indigenous on the east coast of Africa and Ceylon, found later in the Antibes. The inner bark peeled off and roiled together forms the cinnamon bark (see Pliny, bk. 12). There are seven spices mentioned. We need not trouble ourselves to identify them all, as they are mostly Indian, and such as Solomon would fetch from the far East in his celebrated ships. The description is highly poetical, and simply means that all sweetness and attractiveness combine in the fair one. But symbolically we may see an allusion to the spread of the Church over the world, and all the glory and honour of the nations" being introduced into it. So the graces of the individual soul expand themselves under the influence of Christian truth and fellowship. Song of Solomon 4:1313 What sprouts forth for thee is a park of pomegranates,

     With most excellent fruits;

     Cypress flowers with nards;

14 Nard and crocus; calamus and cinnamon,

     With all kinds of incense trees;

     Myrrh and aloes,

     With all the chief aromatics.

The common subject to all down to Sol 4:15 inclusive is שׁלחיך ("what sprouts for thee" equals "thy plants"), as a figurative designation, borrowed from plants, of all the "phenomena and life utterances" (Bttch.) of her personality. "If I only knew here," says Rocke, "how to disclose the meaning, certainly all these flowers and fruits, in the figurative language of the Orient, in the flower-language of love, had their beautiful interpretation." In the old German poetry, also, the phrase bluomen brechen to break flowers was equivalent to: to enjoy love; the flowers and fruits named are figures of all that the amata offers to the amator. Most of the plants here named are exotics; פּרדּס (heaping around, circumvallation, enclosing) is a garden or park, especially with foreign ornamental and fragrant plants - an old Persian word, the explanation of which, after Spiegel, first given in our exposition of the Song, 1851 (from pairi equals περί, and dêz, R. diz, a heap), has now become common property (Justi's Handb. der Zendsprache, p. 180). מגדים פּרי (from מגד, which corresponds to The Arab. mejd, praise, honour, excellence; vid., Volck under Deuteronomy 33:13) are fructus laudum, or lautitiarum, excellent precious fruits, which in the more modern language are simply called מגדים (Shabbath 127b, מיני מגדים, all kinds of fine fruits); cf. Syr. magdo, dried fruit. Regarding כּפר, vid., under Sol 1:14; regarding מר, under Sol 1:13; also regarding נרדּ, under Sol 1:12. The long vowel of נרדּ corresponds to the Pers. form nârd, but near to which is also nard, Indian nalada (fragrance-giving); the ē is thus only the long accent, and can therefore disappear in the plur. For נרדים, Grtz reads ירדים, roses, because the poet would not have named nard twice. The conjecture is beautiful, but for us, who believe the poem to be Solomonic, is inconsistent with the history of roses (vid., under Sol 2:1), and also unnecessary. The description moves forward by steps rhythmically.

כּרוכם is the crocus stativus, the genuine Indian safran, the dried flower-eyes of which yield the safran used as a colour, as an aromatic, and also as medicine; safran is an Arab. word, and means yellow root and yellow colouring matter. The name כּרוכם, Pers. karkam, Arab. karkum, is radically Indian, Sanscr. kunkuma. קנה, a reed (from קנה, R. qn, to rise up, viewed intrans.),

(Note: In this general sense of "reed" (Syn. arundo) the word is also found in the Gr. and Lat.: κάνναι (κάναι), reed-mats, κάνεον κάναστρον, a wicker basket, canna, canistrum, without any reference to an Indo-Germ. verbal stem, and without acquiring the specific signification of an aromatic plant.)

viz., sweet reed, acorus calamus, which with us now grows wild in marshes, but is indigenous to the Orient.

קנּמנן is the laurus cinnamomum, a tree indigenous to the east coast of Africa and Ceylon, and found later also on the Antilles. It is of the family of the laurineae, the inner bark of which, peeled off and rolled together, is the cinnamon-bark (cannella, French cannelle); Aram. קוּנמא, as also the Greek κιννάμοομον and κίνναμον, Lat. (e.g., in the 12th book of Pliny) cinnamomum and cinnamum, are interchanged, from קנם, probably a secondary formation from קנה (like בּם, whence בּמה, from בּא), to which also Syr. qenûmā', ὑπόστασις, and the Talm.-Targ. קנּוּם קונם, an oath (cf. קים), go back, so that thus the name which was brought to the west by the Phoenicians denoted not the tree, but the reed-like form of the rolled dried bark. As "nards" refer to varieties of the nard, perhaps to the Indian and the Jamanic spoken of by Strabo and others, so "all kinds of incense trees" refers definitely to Indo-Arab. varieties of the incense tree and its fragrant resin; it has its name fro the white and transparent seeds of this its resin (cf. Arab. lubân, incense and benzoin, the resin of the storax tree, לבנה); the Greek λίβανος, λιβανωτός (Lat. thus, frankincense, from θύω), is a word derived from the Pheonicians.

אהלות or אהלים (which already in a remarkable way was used by Balaam, Numbers 24:6, elsewhere only since the time of Solomon) is the Semitized old Indian name of the aloe, agaru or aguru; that which is aromatic is the wood of the aloe-tree (aloxylon agallochum), particularly its dried root (agallochum or lignum alos, ξυλαλόη, according to which the Targ. here: אלואין אכסיל, after the phrase in Aruch) mouldered in the earth, which chiefly came from farther India.

(Note: Vid., Lassen's Ind. Alterthumsk. I 334f. Furrer, in Schenkel's Bib. Lex., understands אהלות of the liliaceae, indigenous to Palestine as to Arabia, which is also called alo. But the drastic purgative which the succulent leaves of this plant yield is not aromatic, and the verb אחל "to glisten," whence he seeks to derive the name of this aloe, is not proved. Cf. besides, the Petersburg Lex. under aguru ("not difficult"), according to which is this name of the amyris agallocha, and the aquilaria agallocha, but of no liliaceae. The name Adlerholz ("eagle-wood") rests on a misunderstanding of the name of the Agila tree. It is called "Paradiesholz," because it must have been one of the paradise trees (vid., Bereshith rabba under Genesis 2:8). Dioskorides says of this wood: θυμιᾶται ἀντὶ λιβανωτοῦ; the Song therefore places it along with myrrh and frankincense. That which is common to the lily-aloe and the wood-aloe, is the bitter taste of the juice of the former and of the resinous wood of the latter. The Arab. name of the aloe, ṣabir, is also given to the lily-aloe. The proverbs: amarru min eṣ-ṣabir, bitterer than the aloe, and es-sabr sabir, patience is the aloe, refer to the aloe-juice.)


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