His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)His hands . . .—Galil, translated ring, is more probably a cylinder (from galal, to roll), referring to the rounded arm, ending in a well-shaped hand with beautiful nails.
Beryl.—Heb. tarshish; LXX. θαρσις. Possibly “stones of Tarshish,” and if so, either chrysolite or topaz, both said to have been first found in Tartessus, an ancient city of Spain, between the two mouths of the Bœtis (Guadalquiver). Mentioned as one of the precious stones in the breastplate of the High Priest (Exodus 28:20; Exodus 39:13). The LXX. adopt the various renderings χρυσολίθο =ς, ἄνθραξ, λίθος ἄνθρακος, or, as here, keep the original word.
Bright ivory.—Literally, a work of ivory, i.e., a chef-d’œuvre in ivory.
Sapphires.—It is doubtful whether the sapphire of Scripture is the stone so called now, or the lapis-lazuli. The former best suits Exodus 28:18 and Job 28:6, because lapis-lazuli is too soft for engraving. The comparison in the text either alludes to the blue veins showing through the white skin or to the colour of some portion of dress.Song of Solomon 5:14-16. His hands as gold rings set with beryl — Beautiful and precious, and richly adorned, as it were, with gold rings set with precious stones; his belly as bright ivory — Which seems to be here used for the whole body, reaching from the neck to the bottom of the belly; overlaid with sapphires — Of a pure and bright white colour, intermixed with blue veins; for some sapphires are of a bright blue colour. His legs as pillars of marble — White, and straight, and well shaped, and strong; set upon sockets of fine gold — His feet are compared to gold, for their singular brightness, for which they are compared to fine brass, Revelation 1:15; his countenance — Hebrew, his aspect or appearance, his form or person; is as Lebanon, &c. — In respect of its cedars, tall, and upright, and stately. He is altogether lovely — Not to run out into more particulars. This is my beloved, O ye daughters, &c. — And therefore you have no cause to wonder if I am transported with love to so excellent a personage.
The beryl - The "tarshish" (compare Exodus 28:20), probably the chrysolite of the ancients (so called from its gold color), the modern topaz.
His belly ... - His body (the Hebrew term applies to the whole body, from the shoulders to the thighs) is a piece of ivory workmanship overlaid with sapphires. The sapphire of the ancients seems to have been the lapis lazuli.
belly—Burrowes and Moody Stuart translate, "body." Newton, as it is elsewhere, "bowels"; namely, His compassion (Ps 22:14; Isa 63:15; Jer 31:20; Ho 11:8).
bright—literally, "elaborately wrought so as to shine," so His "prepared" body (Heb 10:5); the "ivory palace" of the king (Ps 45:8); spotless, pure, so the bride's "neck is as to tower of ivory" (So 7:4).
sapphires—spangling in the girdle around Him (Da 10:5). "To the pure all things are pure." As in statuary to the artist the partly undraped figure is suggestive only of beauty, free from indelicacy, so to the saint the personal excellencies of Jesus Christ, typified under the ideal of the noblest human form. As, however, the bride and bridegroom are in public, the usual robes on the person, richly ornamented, are presupposed (Isa 11:5). Sapphires indicate His heavenly nature (so Joh 3:13, "is in heaven"), even in His humiliation, overlaying or cast "over" His ivory human body (Ex 24:10). Sky-blue in color, the height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ (Eph 3:18).His hands; the instruments of action and of distribution, which may design the actions of Christ, and particularly his distributing gifts and graces to his members.
As gold rings set with the beryl; beautiful and precious, and richly adorned, as it were with gold rings set with precious stones.
His belly; which seems to be here used, either,
1. Metonymically for the bowels, which are contained in the belly. Or rather,
2. Synecdochically, for the whole body, reaching from the neck, to the bottom of the belly, which is distinguished from the face and the joints, which are described in the other clauses. For he speaks here of those parts which are visible to the eye. And thus here is a complete description of Christ’s beauty in all parts, from his head to his feet.
As bright ivory overlaid with sapphires; of a pure and bright white colour, intermixed with blue veins; for some sapphires are of a bright blue colour. Exodus 28:20; one of the pearl foundations of the New Jerusalem, Revelation 21:20; the appearance of the wheels in Ezekiel's vision was like it, Ezekiel 1:16; the body of the glorious person, seen by Daniel, is said to be as that, Daniel 10:6; so that it is no wonder the hands of Christ should be compared to gold rings set with it. The word "tarshish", here rendered by "beryl", is sometimes used for the "sea"; and naturalists (a) tell us, that the best beryl is that which most resembles the colour of the sea; so all the three Targums, on Exodus 28:20; call it , from its sea colour; and some versions have it here, "the sea coloured beryl" (b). Some think the chrysolite is meant, so called from Tarshish, a city in the Indian sea, from whence it was brought, 1 Kings 10:22; which is a precious stone, of a golden colour. Others take it to be the "hyacinth", or "jacinth", which is of a violet or purple colour. Cocceius is of opinion that the "sardonyx" in intended, a composition of the "sardius" and "onyx" stones; and is of a white and ruddy colour, and much resembles the nail of a man's hand; which it was usual to set in rings wore on the hand; and a hand adorned with a ring set with a sardonyx, Martial calls "sardonychata manus" (c). Now Christ's hands, which are the instruments of action, may be compared to "gold rings", set with one or other of these stones; because of the variety of his works in nature, providence, and grace; and because of the preciousness and value of them; and because of their perfection and completeness; the circular form being reckoned the most perfect: and never do the hands of Christ appear as thus described, and look more beautiful and lovely, than when he is beheld as grasping, holding, and retaining his people in his hands, out of which they never be plucked; and who are as so many gold rings, jewels, pearls, and precious stories, in his esteem; and as holding the bright stars, the ministers of the word, in there, who sparkle in their gifts and graces, like so many gems there: and particularly this may be expressive of the munificence and liberality of Christ, in the distribution of his gifts and graces to his people, so freely and generously, so largely and plenteously, and so wisely and faithfully, as he does; and a beautiful sight it is, to the eye of faith, to behold him with his hands full of grace, and a heart ready to distribute it;
his belly is as bright ivory, overlaid with sapphires: which most of the ancient interpreters understand of the human nature of Christ, described by one part of it, because of its frailty and weakness in itself; and is compared to bright ivory, partly because of its firmness and constancy in suffering, and partly because of its purity, holiness, and innocence; and is said to be "overlaid with sapphires", because of its exaltation and glory at the right hand of God. The words may be rendered, "his bowels are as bright ivory", &c. (d); as in Sol 5:4; and may express the love, grace, mercy, pity, compassion of Christ to the sons of men; compared to "ivory", or the elephant's teeth, for the excellency of it, Christ's love being better than life itself; and for the purity and sincerity of it, there being no hypocrisy in it; and for the firmness, constancy, and duration of it, it being from everlasting to everlasting, without any change or variation; and to an overlay or enamel of "sapphires", for the riches, worth and value of it, it being preferable to all precious stones, or that can be desired. Some interpreters are of opinion, that not any part of the body, the belly or bowels, are here meant, but rather some covering of the same; for seems not so agreeable with the rules of decency, nor consistent with the spouse's modesty, to describe her beloved by those parts to the daughters of Jerusalem; nor with the scope of the narration, which is to give distinguishing marks and characters, by which they might know him from another. Aben Ezra thinks the girdle is meant; which either may be his royal girdle, the girdle of righteousness and faithfulness; or his priestly girdle, said to be of gold; see Isaiah 11:5; or his prophetic girdle, the girdle of truth. The allusion may be to the embroidered coat of the high priest: in the holes and incisures of which, as Jarchi says, were put jewels and precious stones: or rather to the ephod with the breastplate, in which were twelve precious stones, and among these the sapphire; and which may represent Christ, as the great High Priest, bearing all his elect upon his heart in heaven; having entered there, in their name, to take possession of it for them, until they are brought into the actual enjoyment of it.
(z) "Et solitum digito beryllum adederat ignis", Propert. l. 4. Eleg. 7. v. 9. (a) Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 37. c. 5. Solin. Polyhistor. c. 65. Ruaeus de Gemmis, l. 9. c. 8. De Boot Hist. Gemm. l. 2. c. 70. Dionys. Perieg. v. 1012. (b) "beryllo thalassio", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator. (c) Epigr. l. 2. Ep. 25. (d) "viscera ejus", Marckius, Michaelis.His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)14. gold rings] Rather, cylinders of gold. In Esther 1:6, which is the only place in the O.T. besides this where the word occurs in a similar sense, it probably means ‘rods’ or ‘cylinders.’ Here it refers to the delicately rounded fingers forming the hand.
set] Cp. Exodus 28:17.
the beryl] Better, chrysolite, i.e. topaz (R.V. marg.). His finger-nails are compared to transparent pink chrysolite.
his belly] R.V. rightly, his body. This is a piece of ivory work. Budde suggests a sheet of ivory.
overlaid with sapphires] R.V. margin, encrusted. What is meant is that his body was as beautiful as a piece of ivory work studded with sapphires. This is the only part of this description which might appear unmaidenly, but understood as above, it is quite compatible with the situation as supposed.
8 I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,
If ye find my beloved, -
What shall ye then say to him?
"That I am sick of love."
That אם is here not to be interpreted as the negative particle of adjuration (Bttch.), as at Sol 2:7; Sol 3:5, at once appears from the absurdity arising from such an interpretation. The or. directa, following "I adjure you," can also begin (Numbers 5:19.) with the usual אם, which is followed by its conclusion. Instead of "that ye say to him I am sick of love," she asks the question: What shall ye say to him: and adds the answer: quod aegra sum amore, or, as Jerome rightly renders, in conformity with the root-idea of חלה: quia amore langueo; while, on the other hand, the lxx: ὃτι τετροομένη (saucia) ἀγάπης ἐγώ εἰμι, as if the word were חללת, from חלל. The question proposed, with its answer, inculcates in a naive manner that which is to be said, as one examines beforehand a child who has to order something. She turns to the daughters of Jerusalem, because she can presuppose in them, in contrast with those cruel watchmen, a sympathy with her love-sorrow, on the ground of their having had similar experiences. They were also witnesses of the origin of this covenant of love, and graced the marriage festival by their sympathetic love.
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