Song of Solomon 4:14
Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
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(14) Spikenard.—See Note, Song of Solomon 1:12. Saffron; Heb. carchom; only here. The Arabic name is still kûrkûm = Crocus sativus, a well-known bulb of the order Iridaceœ. The pistil and stigma. dried, form the saffron.

Calamus.—Heb. kâneh. (Comp. kâneh bosem = sweet calamus, Exodus 30:23; k. hottôv—sweet cane, Jeremiah 6:20.) There are many sweet grasses in India and the East. Andropogon calamus aromaticus has been identified (Royle) with the “reed of fragrance” of Exodus, and Jeremiah’s “good reed from a far country,” but the identification is not to be implicitly accepted. (See Bible Educator, Vol. I., p. 245.)

Cinnamon.—Heb. kinnamôn probably included Cinnamomum Zeylanicum (cinnamon) and Cinnamomum cassia (Cassia lignea). (See Bible Educator, Vol. I., p. 245.) The rind of the plant is the “cinnamon” in use. The plant belongs to the family of laurels, and grows in Ceylon, on the Malabar coast, and in East Indian Islands. It attains a height of from twenty to thirty feet, having numerous boughs, bearing leaves of a scarlet colour when young, but changing to a bright green, and white blossoms.

Aloes.—See Note, Numbers 24:6.

With all the chief spices.—“That in thy sweet all sweets encloses” (H. Constable).

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!"

14. calamus—"sweet cane" (Ex 30:23; Jer 6:20).

myrrh and aloes—Ointments are associated with His death, as well as with feasts (Joh 12:7). The bride's ministry of "myrrh and aloes" is recorded (Joh 19:39).

Trees of frankincense; such trees as produce frankincense. Or, as others, both ancient and modern, render it, trees of Lebanon; such sweet-smelling trees and plants as grew in Lebanon, of which See Poole "Song of Solomon 4:11".

Spikenard and saffron,.... The former is the best sort of nard, and therefore mentioned and repeated, to which saints may be compared, because of the graces of the Spirit in them; which, when exercised, give a sweet odour, and are exceeding grateful to Christ; see Sol 1:12; and the latter, according to Schindler (s), seems to have been read "carcos", the same with "crocus", and is a plant well known by us for its cheering nature; and has its name from the Arabic, "zaffran", because of its yellow or golden colour; but "crocus", from "Corycus" (t), a mountain in Cilicia, where it grew; it is properly joined with spikenard, since itself is a "spica", and is sometimes called "spica Cilissa" (u). Next follow

calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; "calamus" is the sweet cane in Isaiah 43:24; "cinnamon" is the rind or bark of a tree; both grow in India (w) and in Arabia (x); as also trees of "frankincense", which are only in Arabia; hence one of the Arabias is called "thurifera" (y), for they do not grow in all Arabia: the two first were ingredients in the holy anointing oil, and the latter in the holy perfume, Exodus 30:23;

myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices; Solomon's gardens might be furnished with all these; and with the above trees, plants, and spices, from Arabia Felix, where, as Appianus (z) says, "cassia" grew in marshy places; myrrh and frankincense were gathered from trees, cinnamon from shrubs, and their meadows naturally produced nard; hence called "aromatifera", the spicy country (a): myrrh was also an ingredient in the anointing oil; and aloes, according to the Targum, is the same with lign aloes; see Numbers 24:6; not the herb which has a very bitter juice, but the tree of a sweet odour, which Isidore (b) distinguishes, and is what is meant in Psalm 45:8; and were both of a very fragrant smell. Now all these trees, plants, and spices, signify truly precious souls, possessed of the graces of the Spirit; comparable to them for their valuableness and excellency, their sweet smell, and the reviving and refreshing nature of them; which make the subjects of these graces very agreeable to Christ, and to one another. What a garden is the church thus planted!

(s) Lexic. Pentaglott. col. 910. (t) "Corycii pressura croci", Lucan. Pharsal. l. 9. v. 809. (u) Ovid. Fast. l. 1. v. 76. in Ibin, v. 200. Propert. l. 4. Eleg. 6. v. 74. (w) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 19, 22. Strabo, l. 15. p. 478. (x) Herodot. Thalia, c. 107. "Cinnamoni et multi pastor odoris Araba", Propert. l. 3. Eleg. 13. v. 8, 9. (y) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 12. c. 14. (z) Apud Schindler. Lexic. col. 1192. (a) Strabo. Geograph. l. 16. p. 538. Vid. p. 535. (b) Origin. l. 17. c. 8, 9.

Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
14. saffron] Heb. karkôm occurs in the O.T. only here, but its meaning is clear from the Arabic kurkum = the Crocus sativus. There are many species of crocus in Palestine, and from most of them saffron is obtained. The women and children gather the pistil and stigma from the centre of each flower. These are dried in the sun and then pounded. It is used for a condiment. The name ‘saffron’ is merely the Arabic zafran = ‘yellow.’ The best saffron is of an orange-red colour. See Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 480.

calamus] Heb. qâneh, i.e. ‘aromatic reed.’ According to Tristram, p. 438, who makes a careful collation of all the passages in which the word occurs, this is not a sweet cane like the sugar-cane, but an aromatic cane imported from the East, either from Arabia Felix, or more probably from India. It is the same as the qeneh bôsem, the ‘sweet calamus’ of Exodus 30:23.

cinnamon] Heb. qinnâmôn, our cinnamon, a plant unknown in Syria. It is a native of Ceylon, and belongs to the family of the laurels. The tree attains to the height of 30 feet and has a white blossom. The spice is simply the inner rind separated from the outer bark and dried in the sun. See Tristram, Nat. Hist. p. 346.

trees of frankincense] For frankincense see ch. Song of Solomon 3:6.

aloes] A stately tree (Numbers 24:6) from which some aromatic substance was derived. It has generally been identified, according to Tristram (p. 333), with the Aquilaria agallocha, the eagle wood, found in Cochin China and Silhet in Northern India. This tree attains a height of 120 feet, and from it a costly perfume is extracted, which yields a fragrant odour when burned. The Enc. Brit., sub voce, supposes that it more probably is the Aquilaria malaccensis, found in the Malayan Peninsula, from which it would more easily find its way into Palestine in Biblical times than the other from North India. Cp. article ‘Aloes,’ Encycl. Bibl. vol. 1. p. 121.

the chief spices] i.e. the chief spice-bearing trees. It is notable that all the trees of this ‘paradise’ are rare exotics, probably to hint that the bride’s charms are as rare and as much to be admired as such plants are. But the rare and foreign character of all the objects to which the bride is compared is entirely incompatible with the supposition that our book is a collection of popular songs (Volkslieder). In them the comparisons are always with homely well-known objects.

Song of Solomon 4:1413 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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