Song of Solomon 5:3
I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(3) Coat.—Heb. cutoneth=cetoneth; Gr. χίτων, tunic.

Song of Solomon 5:3. I have put off my coat — My day clothes, as persons use to do when they go to rest. How shall I put it on? — It is inconvenient and troublesome to do it at this time. I have washed my feet — Which the eastern people commonly did when they went to bed.5:2-8 Churches and believers, by carelessness and security, provoke Christ to withdraw. We ought to notice our spiritual slumbers and distempers. Christ knocks to awaken us, knocks by his word and Spirit, knocks by afflictions and by our consciences; thus, Re 3:20. When we are unmindful of Christ, still he thinks of us. Christ's love to us should engage ours to him, even in the most self-denying instances; and we only can be gainers by it. Careless souls put slights on Jesus Christ. Another could not be sent to open the door. Christ calls to us, but we have no mind, or pretend we have no strength, or we have no time, and think we may be excused. Making excuses is making light of Christ. Those put contempt upon Christ, who cannot find in their hearts to bear a cold blast, or to leave a warm bed for him. See the powerful influences of Divine grace. He put in his hand to unbolt the door, as one weary of waiting. This betokens a work of the Spirit upon the soul. The believer's rising above self-indulgence, seeking by prayer for the consolations of Christ, and to remove every hinderance to communion with him; these actings of the soul are represented by the hands dropping sweet-smelling myrrh upon the handles of the locks. But the Beloved was gone! By absenting himself, Christ will teach his people to value his gracious visits more highly. Observe, the soul still calls Christ her Beloved. Every desertion is not despair. Lord, I believe, though I must say, Lord, help my unbelief. His words melted me, yet, wretch that I was, I made excuses. The smothering and stifling of convictions will be very bitter to think of, when God opens our eyes. The soul went in pursuit of him; not only prayed, but used means, sought him in the ways wherein he used to be found. The watchmen wounded me. Some refer it to those who misapply the word to awakened consciences. The charge to the daughters of Jerusalem, seems to mean the distressed believer's desire of the prayers of the feeblest Christian. Awakened souls are more sensible of Christ's withdrawings than of any other trouble.She makes trivial excuses, as one in a dream. 3. Trivial excuses (Lu 14:18).

coat—rather, the inmost vest, next the skin, taken off before going to bed.

washed … feet—before going to rest, for they had been soiled, from the Eastern custom of wearing sandals, not shoes. Sloth (Lu 11:7) and despondency (De 7:17-19).

I have put off my coat, my day clothes, as persons use to do when they go to rest.

How shall I put it on? it is inconvenient and troublesome to do it at this time. Thus she tacitly reflects upon the Bridegroom for coming to her so unseasonably, and giving her such disturbance, and puts him off to another time, and excuseth her non-admission of him by her present indisposition, and the difficulty of the thing required of her.

I have washed my feet; which the Eastern people commonly did when they went to bed, partly to cool their feet, and partly to cleanse them from that dust and sweat which they had contracted in the day time by labour and travel, as being used to go barefoot. I have put off my coat,.... In order to lie down on her bed at night, and take her ease; meaning her conversation garments, which she had not been careful of to keep, but had betook herself to carnal ease and rest, and was off her watch and guard, Nehemiah 4:23; and being at ease, and free from trouble, affliction, and persecution, was unwilling to arise and go with her beloved, lest she should meet with the same trials and sufferings as before, for the sake of him and his Gospel; which may be greatly the sense of her next words;

how shall I put it on? which suggests an apprehension of difficulty in doing it, it being easier to drop the performance of duty than to take it up again; and shows slothfulness and sluggishness, being loath and not knowing how to bring herself to it; and an aversion of the carnal and fleshly part unto it; yea, as if she thought it was unreasonable in Christ to desire it of her, when it was but her reasonable service; or as if she imagined it was dangerous, and would be detrimental to her rest, and prejudicial to her health;

I have washed my feet; as persons used to do when come off of a journey, and about to go to bed (e), being weary; as she was of spiritual exercises, and of the observance of ordinances and duties, and so betook herself to carnal ease, and from which being called argues,

how shall I defile them? by rising out of bed, and treading on the floor, and going to the door to let her beloved in; as if hearkening to the voice of Christ, obeying his commands, and taking every proper step to enjoy communion with him, would be a defiling her; whereas it was the reverse of these that did it: from the whole it appears, that not only these excuses were idle and frivolous, but sinful; she slighted the means Christ made use of to awaken her, by calling and knocking; she sinned against light and knowledge, sleeping on, when she knew it was the voice of her beloved; she acted a disingenuous part in inviting Christ into his garden, and then presently fell asleep; and then endeavoured to shift the blame from herself, as if she was no ways culpable, but what was desired was either difficult, or unreasonable, or unlawful; she appears guilty of great ingratitude, and discovers the height of folly in preferring her present ease to the company of Christ.

(e) Homer. Odyss. 19. v. 317.

I have put off my {d} coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?

(d) The spouse confesses her nakedness, and that of herself she has nothing, or seeing that she is once made clean she promises not to defile herself again.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
3. As all commentators remark, the reasons for not opening the door are of a very trifling kind, and such as are insurmountable only in dreams.

my coat] or tunic, a garment, generally of linen, worn next the skin by both men and women. The man’s tunic reached to the knee, the woman’s was longer.

how] Heb. ’çkhâkhâh, found elsewhere in the O.T. only in Esther 8:6. The use of this form has consequently some bearing on the date of the book. Budde remarks in this connexion that all the words occurring in this passage which are not used elsewhere occur in Judaeo-Aramaic.

I have washed my feet] Budde sees in this phrase an indication that the Shulammite was accustomed to go barefoot; but all wearers of sandals would have to wash their feet as much as those who might go barefoot.

defile them] soil them, Heb. ’ătanněphçm, found here only in O.T., but occurring in the Heb. of the Mishnah and in the Talmud. The suffix for them here is masculine, though the word for feet is feminine. This is one of the grammatical inaccuracies which are frequent in this book, but this particular irregularity is not uncommon elsewhere.Verse 3. - I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? Evidently the meaning is, "I have retired to rest; do not disturb me." She is lying in bed. The cuttoneth, or χτιών, was the linen garment worn next the body - from cathan, "linen." The Arabic kutun is "cotton;" hence the French coton, "calico, or cotton" shift. Shulamith represents herself as failing in love, not meeting the condescension and affection of her lover as she should. Sloth, reluctance, ease, keep her back. "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion!" The scene is, of course, only ideally true; it is not meant to be a description of an actual occurrence. Fancy in dreams stirs up the real nature, though it also disturbs it. Shulamith has forsaken her first love. She relates it with sorrow, but not with despondency. She comes to herself again, and her repentance and restoration are the occasion for pouring out the fulness of her affection, which had never really changed, though it has been checked and restrained by self-indulgence. How true a picture both of the individual soul and of the Church in its decline! "Leave me to myself; let me lie at ease in my luxury and my smooth, conventional ways and self-flattering deceit." 13 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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