Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)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).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.
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!"
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".
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:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)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.
With me from Lebanon shalt thou come;
Shalt look from the top of Amana,
From the top of Shenir and Hermon,
From dens of lions,
From mountains of leopards.
Zckl. interprets אתּי in the sense of אלי, and תּשׁוּרי in the sense of journeying to this definite place: "he announces to her in overflowing fulness of expression that from this time forth, instead of the lonely mountainous regions, and the dangerous caves and dens, she shall inhabit with him the royal palace." Thus also Kingsbury. But the interpretation, however plausible, cannot be supported. For (1) such an idea ought to be expressed either by תב אלי or by תשׁבי ואתּי תב, instead of אתּי תּב; (2) Shulamith is not from Lebanon, nor from the Anti-Libanus, which looks toward Damascus; (3) this would be no answer to Shulamith's longing for lonely quietness. We therefore hold by our explanation given in 1851. He seeks her to go with him up the steep heights of Lebanon, and to descend with him from thence; for while ascending the mountain one has no view before him, but when descending he has the whole panorama of the surrounding region lying at his feet. Thus תשׁ is not to be understood as at Isaiah 57:9, where it has the meaning of migrabas, but, as at Numbers 23:9, it means spectabis. With מר the idea of prospect lies nearer than that of descending; besides, the meaning spectare is secondary, for שׁוּר signifies first "to go, proceed, journey," and then "going to view, to go in order to view." Sêr in Arab. means "the scene," and sêr etmek in Turkish, "to contemplate" (cf. Arab. tamashy, to walk, then, to contemplate). Lebanon is the name of the Alpine range which lies in the N.-W. of the Holy Land, and stretches above 20 (German) miles from the Leontes (Nahr el-Kasme) northwards to the Eleutheros (Nahr el-Kebr). The other three names here found refer to the Anti-Libanus separated from the Lebanon by the Coelo-Syrian valley, and stretching from the Banis northwards to the plain of Hamth.
Amana denotes that range of the Anti-Libanus from which the springs of the river Amana issue, one of the two rivers which the Syrian captain (2 Kings 5:12) named as better than all the waters of Israel. These are the Amana and Pharpar, i.e., the Barad and A'wadsh; to the union of the Barad (called by the Greeks Chrysorrhoas, i.e., "golden stream") with the Feidshe, the environs of Damascus owe their ghuwdat, their paradisaical beauty.
Hermon (from חרם, to cut of; cf. Arab. kharom and makhrim, the steep projection of a mountain) is the most southern peak of the Anti-Libanus chain, the lofty mountains (about 10, 000 feet above the level of the sea) which form the north-eastern border of Palestine, and from which the springs of the Jordan take their rise.
Another section of the Anti-Libanus range is called Senir, not Shenir. The name, in all the three places where it occurs (Deuteronomy 3:9; 1 Chronicles 5:23), is, in accordance with tradition, to be written with Sin. The Onkelos Targum writes סריון; the Jerusalem paraphrases, טורא דמסרי פירוי (the mountain whose fruits become putrid, viz., on account of their superabundance); the Midrash explains otherwise: שהוא שובא הניר (the mountain which resists being broken up by the plough), - everywhere the writing of the word with the letter Sin is supposed. According to Deuteronomy 3:9, this was the Amorite name of Hermon. The expression then denotes that the Amorites called Hermon - i.e., the Anti-Libanus range, for they gave the name of a part to the whole range - by the name Senr; Abulfeda uses Arab. snîr as the name of the part to the north of Damascus, with which the statement of Schwarz (Das h. Land, p. 33) agrees, that the Hermon (Anti-Libanus) to the north-west of Damascus is called Senr.
נמרים, panthers, to the present day inhabit the clefts and defiles of the Lebanon, and of the Anti-Libanus running parallel to it; whereas lions have now altogether disappeared from the countries of the Mediterranean. In Solomon's time they were to be met with in the lurking-places of the Jordan valley, and yet more frequently in the remote districts of the northern Alpine chains. From the heights of these Alps Solomon says Shulamith shall alone with him look down from where the lions and panthers dwell. Near these beasts of prey, and yet inaccessible by them, shall she enjoy the prospect of the extensive pleasant land which was subject to the sceptre of him who held her safe on these cliffs, and accompanied her over these giddy heights. If "mountain of myrrh," so also "the top of Amana" is not without subordinate reference. Amana, proceeding from the primary idea of firmness and verification, signifies fidelity and the faithful covenant as it is established between God and the congregation, for He betrothes it to Himself b'mwnh ("in faithfulness"), Hosea 2:22 ; the congregation of which the apostle (Ephesians 5:27) says the same as is here said by Solomon of Shulamith. Here for the first time he calls her כלה, not כּלּתי; for that, according to the usus loq., would mean "my daughter-in-law." Accordingly, it appears that the idea of "daughter-in-law" is the primary, and that of "bride" the secondary one. כּלה, which is equals כּלוּלה, as חלּה, a cake, is equals חלוּלה, that which is pierced through (cf. כּלוּלות, being espoused; Jeremiah 2:2), appears to mean
(Note: L. Geiger's Ursprung d. Sprach. p. 227; cf. 88.)
(cf. what was said regarding חתן under Sol 3:11) her who is comprehended with the family into which, leaving her parents' house, she enters; not her who is embraced equals crowned with a garland (cf. Arab. qkll, to be garlanded; tēklîl, garlanding; iklil, Syr. kelilo, a wreath), or her who is brought to completion (cf. the verb, Ezekiel 27:4, Ezekiel 27:11), i.e., has reached the goal of her womanly calling. Besides, כּלה, like "Braut" in the older German (e.g., Gudrun), means not only her who is betrothed, but also her who has been lately married.
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