I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spoke: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When he spake.—We can suppose an ejaculation of disappointment uttered by the lover as he goes away, which catches the ear of the heroine as she wakes.Song of Solomon 5:6. My beloved had withdrawn — Denied me his comfortable presence, as a just punishment for my former neglect. My soul failed — Hebrew, went out of me. I fainted, and was ready to die away; when he spake — Or, for what he spake; for those endearing expressions related Song of Solomon 5:2, which then I did not heed. I sought him — By diligent inquiry and importunate prayer.
when he spake—rather, "because of His speaking"; at the remembrance of His tender words (Job 29:2, 3; Ps 27:13; 142:7), or till He should speak.
no answer—(Job 23:3-9; 30:20; 34:29; La 3:44). Weak faith receives immediate comfort (Lu 8:44, 47, 48); strong faith is tried with delay (Mt 15:22, 23).Withdrawn himself; denied me his gracious and comfortable presence, as a just punishment for my former neglect and folly.
And was gone; either she repeats the same thing to show how deeply she was affected with it; or this is added to imply that he had not only stepped aside, but was quite gone away.
My soul failed, Heb. went out of me. I fainted and was ready to die away through excessive passion, as this phrase is used, Genesis 35:18 42:28, and elsewhere.
When he spake; or, for what he spoke; for those endearing expressions related Song of Solomon 5:2, which then I did not heed, but this sad occasion brings them to my remembrance; as ofttimes that word which is ineffectual when it is preached, is afterwards brought to a man’s mind, and, produceth blessed effects.
I sought him by diligent inquiry and importunate prayer. He gave me no answer; that so he might both chastise her folly, and quicken her desires, and prepare the way for a more hearty welcome, and his longer abode with her.
but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: a sad disappointment this! she expected to have seen him, and been received in his arms and embraced in his bosom; but instead of that, he was gone out of sight and hearing: this withdrawing was to chastise her for her former carriage, and to show her more the evil of her sin, and his resentment of it; to try the truth and strength of her grace to inflame her love the more, and sharpen her desires after his presence, to prize it more when she had it, and be careful not to lose it: her using two words of the same import, "he turned himself" (h), and was gone, signifies that he was really gone, and not in her imagination only; and that he was gone suddenly, at an unawares, and, as she might fear, would never return; and these words being without a copulative, "had withdrawn himself, he was gone", show her haste in speaking, the confusion she was in, thee strength of her passion, the greatness of her disappointment and sorrow; it is as if she was represented wringing her hands and crying, He is gone, he is gone, he is gone;
my soul failed when he spake; or "went out" (i); not out of her body, but she fell into a swoon, and was as one dead; for a while; and this was "at" or "through his word" (k), as it may be rendered; through what he said when he turned about and departed, expressing his resentment at her behavior; or rather at the remembrance of his kind and tender language he used when he first called her to arise, "saying, open to me, my sister, my spouse", &c. Sol 5:2; and when she called to mind how sadly she had slighted and neglected him, it cut her to the heart, and threw her into this fainting fit;
I sought him, but I could not find him; in the public ordinances of his house; See Gill on Sol 3:2;
I called him, but he gave me no answer; called him by his name as she went along the streets and broad ways of the city, where she supposed he might be; praying aloud, and most earnestly and fervently, that he would return to her; but had no answer, at least not immediately, and thus be treated her in the same manner she had treated him; he had called to her and she disregarded him, and now she calls to him, and he takes no notice of her; but this was not in a way of vindictive wrath and punishment, as in Proverbs 1:24; but of chastisement and correction.I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)6. had withdrawn himself] Lit. had turned away. This disappointment is just such as comes in dreams.
my soul failed when he spake] R.V. My soul had failed me when he spake. This is the explanation of his departure. She had fainted when she heard his voice, and when she came to herself and opened the door he was gone. This seems to be the simple explanation of a clause which has greatly vexed interpreters. Hitzig, Ewald, and Oettli would read for bĕdhabbĕrô = ‘when he spake,’ bĕdhobhrô, in the sense ‘when he turned away.’ But this is an Aramaic meaning, and though, according to the Oxford Heb. Lex. this is probably the root meaning of the word from which all the others are derived, the verb is not found in Heb. in this sense. As the ordinary signification of the verb gives a good meaning here it seems unnecessary to go beyond it.Verse 6. - I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone. My soul had failed me when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. The meaning is this - The voice of my beloved struck my heart; but in the consciousness that I had estranged myself from him I could not openly meet him, I could not offer him mere empty excuses. Now I am made sensible of my own deficiency. I call after him. I long for his return, but it is in vain (cf. the two disciples going to Emmaus, Luke 24, "Did not our heart burn within us," etc.?). Similar allusion to the effect of the voice of the beloved is found in Terence, 'And.,' 1:5, 16, "Oratio haec," etc. The failing or departing of the soul at the sound of the voice must refer to the lack of response at the time, therefore it was that she sought him and cried out after him. When he spake; literally, in his speaking; i.e. when he said, "I will not now come because at first refused;" cf. Proverbs 1:20-33, the solemn warning against the loss of opportunity. It is a coincidence between the two books of Solomon which cannot be disregarded. If there is any spiritual meaning at all in Solomon's Song, it certainly is a book which he who wrote the first chapter of Proverbs is likely to have written.
16 Awake, thou North (wind), and come, thou South!
Blow through my garden, cause its spices to flow -
Let my beloved come into his garden,
And eat the fruits which are precious to him.
The names of the north and south, denoting not only the regions of the heavens, but also the winds blowing from these regions, are of the fem. gender, Isaiah 43:6. The east wind, קדים, is purposely not mentioned; the idea of that which is destructive and adverse is connected with it (vid., under Job 27:21). The north wind brings cold till ice is formed, Sir. 43:20; and if the south wind blow, it is hot, Luke 12:55. If cold and heat, coolness and sultriness, interchange at the proper time, then growth is promoted. And if the wind blow through a garden at one time from this direction and at another from that, - not so violently as when it shakes the trees of the forest, but softly and yet as powerfully as a garden can bear it, - then all the fragrance of the garden rises in waves, and it becomes like a sea of incense. The garden itself then blows, i.e., emits odours; for (פּח equals the Arab. fakh, fah, cf. fawh, pl. afwâh, sweet odours, fragrant plants) as in היּום רוּח, Genesis 3:8, the idea underlies the expression, that when it is evening the day itself blows, i.e., becomes cool, the causative הפיחי, connected with the object-accus. of the garden, means to make the garden breezy and fragrant. נזל is here used of the odours which, set free as it were from the plants, flow out, being carried forth by the waves of air. Shulamith wishes that in her all that is worthy of love should be fully realized. What had to be done for Esther (Esther 2:12) before she could be brought in to the king, Shulamith calls on the winds to accomplish for her, which are, as it were, the breath of the life of all nature, and as such, of the life-spirit, which is the sustaining background of all created things. If she is thus prepared for him who loves her, and whom she loves, he shall come into his garden and enjoy the precious fruit belonging to him. With words of such gentle tenderness, childlike purity, she gives herself to her beloved.
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