Song of Solomon 4:2
Your teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
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(2) Thy teeth . . . —i.e., white as newly washed sheep. The word translated shorn is only used as a synonym for sheep, as we see by comparison with Song of Solomon 6:6. The only other place where it is found is 2Kings 6:6, where it is used of cutting wood.

Bear twins.—The Hebrew word means “to make double.” But this may either be “to produce twins,” as in the text, or “to make pairs,” or “to occur in pairs,” a rendering which gives far better sense. The perfect and regular rows of teeth are exactly paired, upper to lower, like the sheep coming two and two from the washing, not one being bereaved of its fellow.

Song of Solomon 4:2-3. Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep — Numerous, and placed in due order: that are even and shorn — Smooth and even, as also clean and white. Whereof every one bears twins — Which seems to denote the two rows of teeth: and none is barren among them — Not one tooth is lacking. Thy speech is comely — Which is added as another ingredient of an amiable person; and to explain the foregoing metaphor. The discourse of believers is edifying and comfortable, and acceptable to God, and to serious men. Thy temples — Under which he comprehends the cheeks; are like a piece of pomegranate — In which there is a lovely mixture of red and white.4:1-7 If each of these comparisons has a meaning applicable to the graces of the church, or of the faithful Christian, they are not clearly known; and great mistakes are made by fanciful guesses. The mountain of myrrh appears to mean the mountain Moriah, on which the temple was built, where the incense was burned, and the people worshipped the Lord. This was his residence till the shadows of the law given to Moses were dispersed by the breaking of the gospel day, and the rising of the Sun of righteousness. And though, in respect of his human nature, Christ is absent from his church on earth, and will continue to be so till the heavenly day break, yet he is spiritually present in his ordinances, and with his people. How fair and comely are believers, when justified in Christ's righteousness, and adorned with spiritual graces! when their thoughts, words, and deeds, though imperfect, are pure, manifesting a heart nourished by the gospel!Whereof ... - Or, "all of them are equal pairs, and none is bereft among them," i. e., none has lost her mate. The points of comparison in this simile are of course brilliant whiteness, regularity, and completeness of number. 2. even shorn—the Hebrew is translated (1Ki 6:25), "of one size"; so the point of comparison to teeth is their symmetry of form; as in "came up from the washing," the spotless whiteness; and in "twins," the exact correspondence of the upper and lower teeth: and in "none barren," none wanting, none without its fellow. Faith is the tooth with which we eat the living bread (Joh 6:35, 54). Contrast the teeth of sinners (Ps 57:4; Pr 30:14); also their end (Ps 3:7; Mt 25:30). Faith leads the flock to the washing (Zec 13:1; 1Co 6:11; Tit 3:5).

none … barren—(2Pe 1:8). He who is begotten of God begets instrumentally other sons of God.

Thy teeth are like a flock, numerous, and placed in due order, of sheep; which is here fitly supplied out of Song of Solomon 6:6, where it is expressed.

Even shorn; smooth and even, as also clean and white, whereas unshorn sheep retain much filth in their wool, even after their washing.

Every one bear twins; which seems to note the two rows of teeth, like twins, one directly answering to the other; which is a great part of the beauty or comeliness belonging to the teeth. Nor let any wonder to hear of sheep bearing. twins; for that there were many such in the Eastern countries is apparent, not only from Holy Scripture, but also from the express testimony of Aristotle, and other ancient writers.

None is barren among them; not one tooth is lacking. By the teeth some understand the teachers, which may be compared to teeth, because they prepare, and as it were chew, spiritual food for the people, and to such teeth as are here described for their great number and excellent order, and for that purity and fruitfulness which is required of them. Others understand some gracious qualification or action of the faithful, either their faith, which is compared to eating, John 6:41, &c., and elsewhere; which also purifies the heart and life, and produceth good works in abundance; or their meditation or study of God, and of his word, whereby, like the clean beasts under the law, they chew the cud; which also much promotes their purity and fertility. But, as I said on the first verse, there is no need of a distinct application of every particular, as it is in parables, where many things are added for decency, which belong not to the main scope, and therefore are neglected in the interpretation of them. The scope of this place is only to set forth the church’s perfection and beauty by the resemblance of a beautiful woman, and one part of beauty consists in the colour and order of the teeth. Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep,.... That is, like the teeth of a flock of sheep; as her eyes were like the eyes of doves, and her hair like the hair of goats: and Galen long ago observed, that human teeth are much like the teeth of sheep, in figure, order, and structure, as well as are small and white; neatly set, innocent and harmless, not ravenous and voracious, cropping herbs and grass only (w); the whiteness of the teeth is chiefly intended, in which the beauty of them lies, for which they are sometimes compared (x) to Parian marble for whiteness. The Targum interprets these teeth of the priests and Levites; but it is much better to understand them of the ministers of the Gospel: teeth are bony, solid, firm, and strong, sharp to cut and break the food, and prepare it for the stomach: all which well agree with ministers; who are strong in the Lord, and in his grace, to labour in the word and doctrine; to oppose gainsayers, withstand Satan's temptations; bear the reproaches of the world, and the infirmities of weaker saints; and remain firm and unmoved in their ministry; unshaken by all they meet with, from without and from within: they are sharp to rebuke such who are unsound in the faith, or corrupt in their morals, and to penetrate into Gospel truths; to cut and rightly divide the word of truth, and break the bread of life to others, and so chew and prepare spiritual food for souls; not raw and crude; not hard and difficult of digestion, but plain and easy to be understood. And they are like to a flock of sheep,

that are even shorn; on which no wool is left, sticking out here and there; which is another good property of teeth, that are of equal size and bigness, do not stand out, nor rise up one above another; and are as if they had been "cut and planed, and made alike" (y), as some render the word: which may denote the equality of Gospel ministers in power and authority; one having no superiority over another; all having the same mission and commission, employed in the same work, preaching the same Gospel; and though their gifts are different, yet there is a harmony and agreement in the doctrines they preach;

which came up from the washing; white and clean, which is another property of good teeth; as the teeth of sheep be, and they themselves are, when just come up out of the washing pit: this may signify the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which are necessary to ministers of the word, in order to preach it; and more especially the purity of their lives and conversations, in which they should be examples to the flock;

whereof everyone bear twins, and none is barren among them; the figures are just and beautiful; it is common with sheep to bear twins, or more, in the eastern countries, as the philosopher observes (z); frequent mention is made of goats bearing twins (a): these may answer to the two rows of teeth, and the word for "teeth" is in the dual number; and when these are white and clean, and equal, are well set, and not one wanting, none rotten, nor shed, nor fallen out, look very beautiful. This may express the fruitfulness and success of Gospel ministers, in bringing many souls to Christ; and was particularly true of the apostles, and first ministers of the Gospel, who were instrumental in the conversion of many; and who bore twins to Christ, Jews and Gentiles; and none were without their usefulness. Likewise all this may be understood of believers in general, and of meditation and faith in them; by meditation they feed upon Christ, his Gospel, doctrines, and promises; they chew the end, and ruminate on the word of God; and are equal, alike partakers of the same grace, and blessings of it; and are sanctified, and, in some measure, cleansed, from the pollution of their minds and actions; ascend heavenwards in their thoughts, desires, and affections; and are not "barren" and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ and his Gospel; and generally, through meditation, bring forth the "twins" of prayer and praise: by faith also they feed on Christ and his grace; and which is "alike", precious faith in all, as to nature and quality; is "pure", sincere, and unfeigned; is always fruitful, and bears the "twins" of love to Christ, and of love to his saints; and is not "barren", but attended with the fruits of righteousness.

(w) In Salazar apud Marckium in loc. (x) Theocrit. Idyll. 6. v. 37, 38. (y) "caesae vel dedolatae", Bochart. Hierozoic. par. 1. I. 2. c. 45. col. 493. "aequarum", Junius & Tremellius; "statura aequalium", Cocceius. (z) Aristot. de Animal. Hist. l. 6. c. 19. (a) Theocrit. Idyll. 1. v. 25. & 3. v. 34. & 5. v. 54. & 8. v. 44.

Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them.
2. The A.V. has supplied a great deal in the first clause, and has diverted the comparison thereby from the whiteness to the evenness of the teeth. The comparison is really this, Thy teeth are like a flock of shorn sheep which have come up from the washing, i.e. they are white as a flock of sheep in their most spotlessly white condition. The smoothness of the teeth may also be referred to in the simile.

whereof every one beareth twins, and none is barren among them] There is a play on words here such as Orientals love. ‘All of whom’ is shekkullâm, and ‘a barren,’ or rather, ‘a childless one,’ is shakkûlâh. In the R.V. margin the clause is translated, which are all of them in pairs, and undoubtedly that is the idea meant to be conveyed. The teeth run accurately in pairs, the upper corresponding to the lower, and none of them is wanting. But the Hiph. participle math’îmôth can hardly mean anything, according to O.T. usage, but ‘producing twins.’ Cp. the word for ‘producing a firstborn’ in Jeremiah 4:31. Consequently the leading commentators retain this meaning. It would also seem to be demanded by the use of the word shakkûlâh, ‘bereaved,’ for that too implies that the individual teeth are compared to mothers. The only thing in favour of the R.V. margin is that in the Talmud this same Hiph. is used in the meaning ‘to be twins.’ (Cp. Levy, Neuhebr. Wörterb. IV. 622.) As the language of the Song has in some respects affinities with late Heb., the word may have the same signification here. Certainly, if that view be not taken, the last clause of the verse can be only a rhetorical expansion of the simile, to indicate that the sheep to which the teeth are compared are in full health.Verse 2. - Thy teeth are like a flock of ewes that are newly shorn, which are come up from the washing; whereof every one hath twins, and none is bereaved among them. The simile is very apt and beautiful Thy teeth are perfectly smooth, regular, and white; the upper set corresponding exactly to the lower set, like twin births in which there is no break (cf. Song of Solomon 6:6). The moisture of the saliva dentium, heightening the glance of the teeth, is frequently mentioned in love songs. The whiteness of wool is often used as a comparison (see Isaiah 1:18; Daniel 7:9; Revelation 1:14; Book of Enoch 46:1). Some think that קְצוּבות. should not be rendered "newly shorn," but "periodically shorn" (see Ginsburg) - a poetical epithet for וְחֵלֵים. The newly shorn would be washed first, תָּאַם, "to be double, be pairs," in the hiph. is "to make double," "to make pairs," "to appear paired." Perhaps the reference is to the sheep being washed in pairs, and going up side by side from the water. This would seem almost more exact than the idea of twin lambs, because the difference in size between the ewe and the lamb would suggest irregularity. The word שַׁכֻּלָּת, "deprived," "bereaved" (Jeremiah 18:21), may point merely to the loneliness of the single sheep going up by itself, suggesting one tooth without its fellow. Ginsburg says, "all of which are paired." Each keeps to its mate as they come up from the pool. This is a decided improvement on the Authorized Version. But the figure is clear with either rendering, and is very striking and suggestive of the pleasant country life to which the bride was accustomed. The description of the palanquin now following, one easily attributes to another voice from the midst of the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

7 Lo! Solomon's palanquin,

   Threescore heroes are around it,

   Of the heroes of Israel,

8 All of them armed with the sword, expert in war.

   Each with his sword on his thigh,

   Against fear in the nights.

Since אפּריון, 9a, is not by itself a word clearly intelligible, so as to lead us fully to determine what is here meant by מטּה as distinguished from it, we must let the connection determine. We have before us a figure of that which is called in the post-bibl. Heb. כּלה הכנסת (the bringing-home of the bride). The bridegroom either betook himself to her parents' house and fetched his bride thence, which appears to be the idea lying at the foundation of Psalm 45, if, as we believe, the ivory-palaces are those of the king of Israel's house; or she was brought to him in festal procession, and he went forth to meet her, 1 Macc. 9:39 - the prevailing custom, on which the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25) is founded.

(Note: Weigand explains the German word Braut (bride) after the Sanscr. prauḍha, "she who is brought in a carriage;" but this particip. signifies nothing more than (aetate) provetca.)

Here the bride comes from a great distance; and the difference in rank between the Galilean maid and the king brings this result, that he does not himself go and fetch her, but that she is brought to him. She comes, not as in old times Rebecca did, riding on a camel, but is carried in a mittā, which is surrounded by an escort for protection and as a mark of honour. Her way certainly led through the wilderness, where it was necessary, by a safe convoy, to provide against the possibility (min in mippahad, cf. Isaiah 4:6; Isaiah 25:4) of being attacked by robbers; whereas it would be more difficult to understand why the marriage-bed in the palace of the king of peace (1 Chronicles 22:9) should be surrounded by such an armed band for protection. That Solomon took care to have his chosen one brought to him with royal honours, is seen in the lavish expenditure of spices, the smoke and fragrance of which signalized from afar the approach of the procession, - the mittā, which is now described, can be no other than that in which, sitting or reclining, or half sitting, half reclining, she is placed, who is brought to him in such a cloud of incense. Thus mittā (from nāthā, to stretch oneself out), which elsewhere is also used of a bier, 2 Samuel 3:21 (like the Talm. ערס equals ערשׂ), will here signify a portable bed, a sitting cushion hung round with curtains after the manner of the Indian palanquin, and such as is found on the Turkish caiques or the Venetian gondolas. The appositional nearer definition שׁלּשׁ, "which belonged to Solomon" (vid., under 6b), shows that it was a royal palanquin, not one belonging to one of the nobles of the people. The bearers are unnamed persons, regarding whom nothing is said; the sixty heroes form only the guard for safety and for honour (sauvegarde), or the escorte or convoie. The sixty are the tenth part (the lite) of the royal body-guard, 1 Samuel 27:2; 1 Samuel 30:9, etc. (Schlottm.). If it be asked, Why just 60? we may perhaps not unsuitably reply: The number 60 is here, as at Sol 6:8, the number of Israel multiplied by 5, the fraction of 10; so that thus 60 distinguished warriors form the half to the escort of a king of Israel. חרב אחזי properly means, held fast by the sword so that it goes not let them free, which, according to the sense equals holding fast equals practised in the use of the sword; the Syr. translation of the Apoc. renders παντοκράτωρ by 'he who is held by all," i.e., holding it (cf. Ewald, 149b).

(Note: This deponent use of the part. pass. is common in the Mishna; vid., Geiger's Lehrbuch zur Sprache der Mishna, 16. 5.)

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