Song of Solomon 4:4
Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(4) Tower of David.—This is not likely to be identified, when even the towers of Phasaelus and Hippicus, minutely described by Josephus, cannot be found. The structure at the north-west angle, known since the Crusades as the “Tower of David,” is Herodian. No clue would be given by the words in the text, “builded for an armoury,” even were it certain that this is their right rendering. The LXX. regard the Heb. thalpiôth as a proper name. Rabbinical authority is in favour of “as a model for architects,” but most modern commentators, though differing as to the etymology, agree in giving the sense of the English Version, which the context seems to require. (Comp. Ezekiel 27:11 : “They hanged their shields upon thy walls round about; they have made thy beauty perfect.”) The shields and targets made by Solomon for the house in the forest of Lebanon may have suggested this addition to an image which is repeated in Song of Solomon 7:7, and, indeed, is too common to need remark. “Her snowy neck like a marble tower” (Spenser). “Her neck is like a stately tower” (Lodge).

Song of Solomon 4:4-5. Thy neck — This may represent the grace of faith, by which we are united to Christ, (as the body is to the head by the neck,) by which Christians receive their spiritual food, and consequently their strength and ability for action; is like the tower — Upright, firm, and strong; and moreover, adorned with chains of gold, or pearl, or the like ornaments; of David — Some tower built by David, when he repaired and enlarged his royal city, and used by him as an armory. Whereon there hang a thousand bucklers — Such as are reserved for the use of mighty men. A thousand is put indefinitely for a great number. Which feed among the lilies — In the fields where lilies grow.

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!The "tower of David" may be that mentioned in Nehemiah 3:25-27; Micah 4:8. For the custom of hanging shields and other weapons in and upon buildings suited for the purpose, see Ezekiel 27:10-11. 4. neck—stately: in beautiful contrast to the blushing temples (So 4:3); not "stiff" (Isa 48:4; Ac 7:51), as that of unbroken nature; nor "stretched forth" wantonly (Isa 3:16); nor burdened with the legal yoke (La 1:14; Ac 15:10); but erect in gospel freedom (Isa 52:2).

tower of David—probably on Zion. He was a man of war, preparatory to the reign of Solomon, the king of peace. So warfare in the case of Jesus Christ and His saints precedes the coming rest. Each soul won from Satan by Him is a trophy gracing the bride (Lu 11:22); (each hangs on Him, Isa 22:23, 24); also each victory of her faith. As shields adorn a temple's walls (Eze 27:11), so necklaces hang on the bride's neck (Jud 5:30; 1Ki 10:16).

Thy neck: this may seem to represent the grace of faith, by which we are united to Christ, as the body is to the head by the neck, and through which Christians receive their spiritual food, and consequently their strength and ability for action.

Is like the tower of David; round, and smooth, and white, long, and straight, and upright, firm, and strong; and moreover, adorned with chains of gold or pearl, or the like ornaments; all which things, as they set forth the beauty of the neck, so they may signify the various excellencies and uses of faith. By this tower he understands either,

1. The strong hold of Zion, of which see 2 Samuel 5:7. Or rather,

2. Some other tower built by David, when he repaired, and enlarged, and fortified his royal city, 1 Chronicles 11:8, and used by him as an armoury. See Nehemiah 3:19,25-27.

A thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men; either,

1. Such as are fit and reserved for the use of mighty men. Or,

2. Such as had been used either by themselves, or by their enemies, from whom they took them by force, and were hung up there as trophies or monuments of victory; which is added, to show that the church is not only beautiful and glorious, but also strong and victorious over all her enemies, and to intimate the great power and exploits of faith, of which read Hebrews 11, and which is compared to a shield, Ephesians 6:16.

A thousand is here put indefinitely for a great number.

Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armoury,.... This was either the strong hold of Zion; or some tower erected by David for an armoury, wherein his worthies or mighty men bring up their shields; Mr. Sandys (k) says, it stood aloft in the utmost angle of a mountain, whose ruins are yet extant: though the neck is compared to this, not for its height, seeing a high and outstretched neck is a token of pride and haughtiness with the Jews, Isaiah 3:16; see Psalm 74:5; and so the phrase is used in Latin writers (l); but for its being ornamented with spoils hung up in it, as golden shields after mentioned, as the neck is with pearls, jewels, and chains of gold, Sol 1:10; The word for "armoury" is from "alaph", "to teach"; not as being a pattern to teach artificers, as Jarchi; nor to show passengers their way, as R. Jonah and others, who think this tower was built as a "pharus", for such a purpose (m); but it was as an arsenal, in which young learners of the art of war laid up their weapons, as well as what were taken from an enemy; or what were made and laid up here, as a store in time of need. By the church's neck may be meant either the ministers of the word, set in the highest part of the body, the church, next to Christ the Head, and in subjection to him; to whom they hold, and whose name, cause, and interest, they bear up and support in the world; and are the means of conveying spiritual food from him to the souls of men; and are adorned with the gifts and graces of the Spirit: and may be compared to the "tower of David", for their integrity and uprightness, and for their strength and immovableness, standing firm and unmoved against the batteries of Satan and the world, and for the defence of the Gospel; and to that "built for an armoury", they being furnished with the whole armour of God. An ancient writer (n) supposes the Apostle Paul is particularly meant; that eminent exalter of Christ the Head, and who was set for the defence of the Gospel: or it may be rather the Scriptures themselves are meant; which point out and hold forth Christ the Head, and make him manifest to the sons of men; and are a means of conveying spiritual breath; when attended with a divine power, then are they spirit and life; and of conveying food to the souls of men, very nourishing and satisfying; and are bespangled with glorious truths and precious promises; where every truth is a golden link, and every promise a pearl, to a believer: and they may be compared to the "tower of David" for their sublimity, being out of the reach and above the capacity of a natural man; and for their firmness and immovableness, which Satan and all his emissaries will never be able to remove out of the world; and like to that as "built for an armoury",

whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men: no other armour is mentioned, as in this armoury, but shields; they being a principal part of armour, and are especially (o) so called, as in the Septuagint version of 1 Kings 14:26; these shields are armour of mighty men; mighty, through God and his grace, to perform mighty actions, and do great exploits; being furnished from the spiritual armoury with the whole armour of God, to repel Satan's temptations, to defend the Gospel, and refute error; particularly the ministers of the word are those mighty men; though it is applicable to all saints.

(k) Travels, p. 139. Vid. Adrichom. Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 168. (l) Vid. Barthii Animadv. ad Claudian. in Rufin. l. 1. v. 53. & l. 2. v. 294. (m) Vid. Castell. Lexic. col. 3904. so Pagninus and Tigurine version. (n) Psellus in ioc. (o) Vid. Cuperi Observ. l. 1. c. 7. p. 42. & Gutberleth. de Saliis, c. 12. p. 69.

Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. for an armoury] lěthalpiyyôth. This rendering of a very difficult word follows the Talmud, which takes it to be a compound of tal, a form of the const. of tel, and piyyôth = ‘edges,’ i.e. swords. That gives ‘a mound in which swords were stored,’ ‘an armoury.’ But to compare a beautiful neck to a mound is impossible, and to call swords simply edges in a common name like this, would be very strange. Ewald renders ‘built for war hosts,’ connecting talpiyyôth with a similar Arabic word having that meaning. Delitzsch on the other hand translates, ‘built in or according to terraces.’ Perhaps the best rendering is Rothstein’s, built for trophies. He takes the root to be lâphâh, which in late Heb. in Aphel means to set in rows. Talpiyyôth would then be ‘repetitions of the act of setting in rows,’ and then ‘the things so set.’ The bride’s neck would, in that case, be compared to a tower adorned with trophies. Margoliouth in the Expositor, Jan. 1900, p. 45, takes the word to be a proper name. He points out that the LXX take it for the name of a place, and that the Arabic geographer Yakut says, Talfiatha is one of the villages of the ghutah or plain of Damascus. He would therefore translate, ‘the tower of David built towards Talpioth,’ and compares Song of Solomon 7:4, “the tower of Lebanon which looks towards Damascus.” But can built to mean built so as to face?

whereon there hang a thousand bucklers] Heb. the thousand bucklers, denoting that those referred to were known as belonging to the tower of David. For shields hung as adornments, cp. Ezekiel 27:11, where of the gallant ship which is Tyre, it is said, “they hanged their shields upon thy walls round about, they have perfected thy beauty.” Cp. Davidson, in loc., and 1Ma 4:57.

shields of mighty men] The Heb. here is shiltç hag-gibbôrîm. Shelet is generally translated shield, but Dr Barnes in the Expository Times, Oct. 1898, p. 48, deals very exhaustively with the word, and comes to the conclusion that it means armour, or equipment. In that case the translation would be, ‘all the equipments of the heroes.’ But shields hung round a tower might be used as a comparison for a beautiful neck adorned with jewels; suits of armour would not be so appropriate.

Verse 4. - Thy neck is like the tower of David, builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all the shields of the mighty men. There is an evident change here in the character of the similitudes. The royal bridegroom does not forget to praise the majesty of his bride. The description now suits a royal queen. She is full of dignity and grace in her bearing. The tower referred to was no doubt that which was sometimes called "The tower of the flock" (Micah 4:4), that from which David surveyed the flock of his people (cf. Nehemiah 3:16, 25) - the government building erected on Mount Zion which served as a court of justice. The word talpiyoth is an ἅπαξ λεγόμενον: LXX. θαλπίωθ, as if a proper name. Hengstenberg would render it "built for hanging swords," supposing it composed of two words - tal, from a root "to hang," and piyoth, "swords." But the word piyoth does not mean "swords," but the "double edges" of the swords. Kimchi renders. "an erection of sharp-cornered stones." Gesenius takes it from two roots, "to perish" and "to go," that is, exitialibus armis, which is very doubtful. Ewald's explanation seems the best, "built for close troops, so that many hundreds or thousands find room therein," taking it from a root, connected with the Arabic, meaning, "to wrap together." Delitzsch, however, observes that both in Aramaic and Talmudic Hebrew words occur, like this, in the sense of "enclosure," i.e. joining together, one working into the other, so that it may be taken as meaning, "in ranks together." This view is supported by Doderlein, Meier, Aquila, Jerome, Vulgate (propugnacula), and Venetian (ἐπάλξεις). If this be accepted, it may mean "terraced," i.e. built in stories one above another. This would convey the appearance of the tall, straight neck better than any. Surrounded with ornaments, the neck would so appear. There is another suggestion, supported by Ginsburg and taken from Rashi and Rashbun, Jewish writers, that the word is a contraction for a noun meaning "instruction," and means "the model tower" - the tower built for an architect's model. It would be rendered, "built for the builder's model." The meaning "armoury" takes it as composed of two words, tael," a hill," and piyoth," swords." It was decorated with a thousand shields, which was a customary adornment of towers and castles (see Ezekiel 27:11). All the shields of heroes. We can scarcely doubt the reference in such words to the time of Solomon, and therefore to his authorship, as the allusion to heroes, or mighty men of valour, would be customary soon after the time of David. Song of Solomon 4:44 Like the tower of David thy neck,

   Built in terraces;

   Thereon a thousand shields hang,

   All the armour of heroes.

The tower of David, is, as it appears, "the tower of the flock," Micah 4:4, from which David surveyed the flock of his people. In Nehemiah 3:25. it is called the "tower which lieth out from the king's high house," i.e., not the palace, but a government house built on Zion, which served as a court of justice. But what is the meaning of the ἁπ. λεγ. תּלפּיּות? Grtz translates: for a prospect; but the Greek τηλωπός, of which he regards תל as the Heb. abstr., is a word so rare that its introduction into the Semitic language is on that account improbable. Hengst. translates: built for hanging swords; and he sees in the word a compound of תּל (from תּלה, with which forms such as יד equals jadj, שׁד equals shadj, שׁל, 2 Samuel 6:7, are compared) and פּיּות; but this latter word signifies, not swords, but edges of the (double-edged) sword; wherefore Kimchi (interpreting תּל as the constr. of תל, as אל, in בּצלאל, is of צל) explains: an erection of sharp-cornered stones; and, moreover, the Heb. language knows no such nmm. comp. appellativa: the names of the frog, צפרדּע, and the bat, עטלּף (cf. the Beth in [Arab.] sa'lab, fox, with the added Pe), are not such; and also tsalmāveth, the shadow of death, is at a later period, for the first time, restamped

(Note: Cf. regarding such double words belonging to the more modern Semitic language, Jesurun, pp. 232-236.)

as such from the original tsalmuth (cf. Arab. zalumat equals tenebrae). Gesen. obtains the same meanings; for he explains לתל by exitialibus (sc.,, armis), from an adj. תּלפּי, from תּלף equals Arab. talifa, to perish, the inf. of which, talaf, is at the present day a word synon. with halak (to perish); (Arab.) matlaf (place of going down) is, like ישׁמון, a poetic name of the wilderness. The explanation is acceptable but hazardous, since neither the Heb. nor the Aram. shows a trace of this verb; and it is thus to be given up, if תלף can be referred to a verbal stem to be found in the Heb. and Aram. This is done in Ewald's explanation, to which also Bttcher and Rdig. give the preference: built for close (crowded) troops (so, viz., that many hundreds or thousands find room therein); the (Arab.) verb aff, to wrap together (opp. nashar, to unfold), is used of the packing together of multitudes of troops (liff, plur. lufuf), and also of warlike hand-to-hand conflicts; תלף would be traced to a verb לפה synon. therewith, after the form תּאניּה. But if תלף were meant of troops, then they would be denoted as the garrison found therein, and it would not be merely said that the tower was built for such; for the point of comparison would then be, the imposing look of the neck, overpowering by the force of the impression proceeding from within. But now, in the Aram., and relatively in the Talm. Heb., not only לפף and לוּף occur, but also לפי (Af. אלפי), and that in the sense of enclosure, i.e., of joining together, the one working into the other, - e.g., in the Targ.: of the curtain of the tabernacle (בּית לופי, place of the joining together equals חברת or מחבּרת of the Heb. text); and in the Talm.: of the roofs of two houses (Bathra 6a, לוּפתּא, the joining)

(Note: The Arab. lafa, vi., proceeding from the same root-idea, signifies to bring in something again, to bring in again, to seek to make good again.).

Accordingly לתלף, if we interpret the Lamed not of the definition, but of the norm, may signify, "in ranks together." The Lamed has already been thus rendered by Dderl.: "in turns" (cf. לפת, to turn, to wind); and by Meier, Mr.: "in gradation;" and Aq. and Jerome also suppose that תלף refers to component parts of the building itself, for they understand

(Note: Vid., also Lagarde's Onomastica, p. 202: Θαλπιὼθ ἐπάλξη (read εἰς) ἤ ὑψηλά.)

pinnacles or parapets (ἐπάλξεις, propugnacula); as also the Venet.: εἰς ἐπάλξεις χιλίας. But the name for pinnacles is פּנּהּ, and their points, שׁמשׁות; while, on the contrary, תלף is the more appropriate name for terraces which, connected together, rise the one above the other. Thus to build towers like terraces, and to place the one, as it were, above the other, was a Babylonian custom.

(Note: Vid., Oppert's Grundzge der Assyr. Kunst (1872), p. 11.)

The comparison lies in this, that Shulamith's neck was surrounded with ornaments so that it did not appear as a uniform whole, but as composed of terraces. That the neck is represented as hung round with ornaments, the remaining portion of the description shows.

מגן signifies a shield, as that which protects, like clupeus (clypeus), perhaps connected with καλύπτειν and שׁלט, from שׁלט equals (Arab.) shalita, as a hard impenetrable armour. The latter is here the more common word, which comprehends, with מגן, the round shield; also צנּה, the oval shield, which covers the whole body; and other forms of shields. המּגן אלף, "the thousand shields," has the indicative, if not (vid., under Sol 1:11) the generic article. The appositional כּל שׁלטי הגּ is not intended to mean: all shields of (von) heroes, which it would if the article were prefixed to col and omitted before gibborim, or if כּלם, Sol 3:8, were used; but it means: all the shields of heroes, as the accentuation also indicates. The article is also here significant. Solomon made, according to 1 Kings 10:16., 200 golden targets and 300 golden shields, which he put in the house of the forest of Lebanon. These golden shields Pharaoh Shishak took away with him, and Rehoboam replaced them by "shields of brass," which the guards bore when they accompanied the king on his going into the temple (1 Kings 14:26-28; cf. 2 Chronicles 12:9-11); these "shields of David," i.e., shields belonging to the king's house, were given to the captains of the guard on the occasion of the raising of Joash to the throne, 2 Kings 11:10; cf. 2 Chronicles 23:9. Of these brazen shields, as well as of those of gold, it is expressly said how and where they were kept, nowhere that they were hung up outside on a tower, the tower of David. Such a display of the golden shields is also very improbable. We will perhaps have to suppose that 4b describes the tower of David, not as it actually was, but as one has to represent it to himself, that it might be a figure of Shulamith's neck. This is compared to the terraced tower of David, if one thinks of it as hung round by a thousand shields which the heroes bore, those heroes, namely, who formed the king's body-guard. Thus it is not strange that to the 200 + 300 golden shields are here added yet 500 more; the body-guard, reckoned in companies of 100 each, 2 Kings 11:4, is estimated as consisting of 1000 men. The description, moreover, corresponds with ancient custom. The words are עליו תּלוּי, not בּו תּלוּי; the outer wall of the tower is thought of as decorated with shields hung upon it. That shields were thus hung round on tower-walls, Ezekiel shows in his prophecy regarding Tyre, Ezekiel 27:11; cf. 1 Macc. 4:57, and supra foris Capitolinae aedis, Pliny, Hist. Nat. xxxv. 3; and although we express the presumption that Solomon's imagination represented David's tower as more gorgeous than it actually was, yet we must confess that we are not sufficiently acquainted with Solomon's buildings to be able to pass judgment on this. These manifold inexplicable references of the Song to the unfolded splendour of Solomon's reign, are favourable to the Solomonic authorship of the book. This grandiose picture of the distinguished beauty of the neck, and the heightening of this beauty by the ornament of chains, is now followed by a beautiful figure, which again goes back to the use of the language of shepherds, and terminates the description:

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