Song of Solomon 5:7
The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.
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(7) The watchmen.—See Note on Song of Solomon 3:3.

Veil.—Heb. redîd; LXX. θέριστρόν. Probably a light summer dress for throwing over the person on going out in a hurry, like the tsaiph put on by Rebecca (Genesis 24:65). Only elsewhere in Isaiah 3:23.

Song of Solomon 5:7. The watchman that went about the city — The governors of the church, who, though by their place they are obliged to comfort the faithful, do frequently discourage them. Found me, and smote me — With bitter calumnies and persecutions. The keepers of the walls — The same with the watchmen, whose office it is to keep the gates and walls of the city. Took away my veil from me — Which was an ornament of her sex, and an ensign of her relation to Christ. And so the taking of this veil away signifies their contemptuous usage of her, and endeavours to represent her as one that had no relation to Christ.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.Sweet smelling myrrh - Or (as in the margin) "running myrrh," that which first and spontaneously exudes, i. e., the freshest, finest myrrh. Even in withdrawing he has left this token of his unchanged love. 7. watchmen—historically, the Jewish priests, &c. (see on [674]So 5:2); spiritually, ministers (Isa 62:6; Heb 13:17), faithful in "smiting" (Psalm 141. 5), but (as she leaves them, {v.} 8) too harsh; or, perhaps, unfaithful; disliking her zeal wherewith she sought Jesus Christ, first, with spiritual prayer, "opening" her heart to Him, and then in charitable works "about the city"; miscalling it fanaticism (Isa 66:5), and taking away her veil (the greatest indignity to an Eastern lady), as though she were positively immodest. She had before sought Him by night in the streets, under strong affection (So 3:2-4), and so without rebuff from "the watchmen," found Him immediately; but now after sinful neglect, she encounters pain and delay. God forgives believers, but it is a serious thing to draw on His forgiveness; so the growing reserve of God towards Israel observable in Judges, as His people repeat their demands on His grace. The watchmen that went about the city; the governors of the church, as Song of Solomon 3:3, who, though by their place and office they be obliged, to comfort and protect the faithful, do frequently discourage and oppress them, as they manifestly did both in the days of Isaiah, and Jeremiah, and the other holy prophets, and in the time of Christ and his apostles, and in divers other ages.

They wounded me with bitter calumnies and persecutions.

The keepers of the walls; the same with the watchmen, whose office is to keep the gates and walls of the city.

Took away my veil; which was an ornament of her sex, Isaiah 3:23, and a badge of her modesty, Genesis 24:65, or an ensign of her relation and subjection to Christ, Genesis 20:16 1 Corinthians 11:5. And so the taking of this veil away signifies their contemptuous and injurious usage of her, their endeavours to blast her reputation, and to represent and treat her as a common and impudent prostitute, and as one that had no relation to Christ. The watchmen that went about the city, found me,.... Of the city and the watchmen in it, and of their finding the church; see Gill on Sol 3:2; See Gill on Sol 3:3;

they smote me, they wounded me; taking her for a night walker, they gave her ill words and hard blows this was not very becoming watchmen to use those of the city in this manner; for, as Plato (l) says, keepers of cities should be mild and gentle towards their own, but to enemies rough and severe: if these were true ministers of Christ, this they did by reproaching her for and upbraiding her with her lukewarmness and unkindness to Christ, sharply reproving her for them; and, instead of comforting her with the doctrines of grace, cut and wounded her with the terrors of the law; or else hearing some sweet discourses from them concerning the person and grace of Christ, her heart was smitten and wounded therewith; and hence she charges the daughters of Jerusalem, in Sol 5:8, that if they found her beloved, that they would tell him, that she was "sick of" or "wounded with love": but as they rather appear to be false teachers, since the church would have shunned them, nor did she make any application to them, nor any inquiry of them about her beloved, and met with cruel and unkind usage from them, they may be said to smite and wounded her by their false doctrines and scandalous lives, by the divisions they made, and by the censures and reproaches they cast upon her, the odious names they gave her, and by stirring up the civil magistrates against her; all which agree with antichristian ministers;

the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me; there were two sorts of watchmen in a city, one that went about to see that all was right and safe within; and others placed on the walls of it, who kept their stand, and whose business it was to give notice of an enemy approaching, and to defend the city from outward attacks upon it; and such are the ministers of the word, Isaiah 62:6; but here false teachers are meant as before, as appears from their abuse of the church, taking away her veil from her, such as women wore for ornament, or as a sign of modesty or as a token of subjection to their husbands, Isaiah 3:23, Genesis 24:65; and may here design either their falsely accusing her good conduct, which was her outward covering; or their attempt to take away from her the doctrine of Christ's imputed righteousness, which is her covering, the wedding garment, the nuptial robe, as Gregory Nyssene (m) calls the veil here: and such a veil was given by the bridegroom with the Romans, and was called "flammeum", from its being of a flame colour (n), either yellow or red, expressive of the blushing modesty of the newly married bride (o); and the like custom might obtain with the Jews.

(l) De Legibus, l. 2. p. 602. (m) Homil. 12. in Cant. p. 651. (n) "Non timidum nuptae leviter tinctura padorem, lutea demissos velarunt flammea vultus", Lucan. Pharsal. l. 2. v. 360, 361. Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 21. c. 8. "Uti tibi corycio glomerarem flammea luto", Virgil. Cyris. Vid. Barthii ad Claudian. Fescen. Ode 4. v. 4. (o) Vid. Chartarium de Imag. Deorurn, p. 84, 89. & Kipping. Antiqu. Roman. l. 4. c. 2. p. 693, 694.

The {f} watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

(f) These are the false teachers who wound the conscience with their traditions.

7. In this dream all goes ill with her, in comparison with the former dream (Song of Solomon 3:1 ff.). Oettli suggests that this is due to the anxious state of mind in which she lay down to sleep, shrinking from the return of her undesired lover (Song of Solomon 4:6).

that went about the city] R.V. rightly, that go about the city; the participle here indicating their duty, what they were accustomed to do.

they smote me, they wounded me] Taking her for a suspicious character, they tried to stop her, but in her wild anxiety she refused, until they used violence.

the keepers of the walls] Better, the watchmen of the walls, the same probably as “the watchmen that go about the city.” They may however be different divisions of the watchmen of the city. Del. thinks that the fact that she sought her beloved, not in the open field, nor in the villages, but in the city, is fatal to the ‘shepherd’ hypothesis here as in the other dream, but see note there.

my vail] The word here is different from that for ‘veil’ in ch. Song of Solomon 4:1; Song of Solomon 4:3. There it is tsammâh; here it is rĕdhîdh, a word which occurs again in the O.T. only in Isaiah 3:23, where the A.V. translates ‘veils,’ as here. But the LXX has in both places θἐριστρον, a thin summer garment, and here it should be translated mantle, or thin outer garment. Riehm, Handwörterbuch, p. 1428, says, “The veil mentioned in Song of Solomon 5:7 and in Isaiah 3:23 seems to have been a fine lawn garment which the women of the East still throw over their whole dress. Cp. Susanna v. 32.” Cheyne and Driver translate it mantle. The word occurs in Syriac and in Targum for the Heb. tsâ‘îph=‘a veil,’ and in the Mishnah.Verse 7. - The watchmen that go about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my mantle from me. The intention is to show into what evil she fell by having to seek her beloved instead of being with him. She is mistaken and misjudged; she is smitten and wounded with reproaches and false accusations, as though she were a guilty and evil minded woman. She is subjected to abuse and ill treatment from those who should be her guardians. She had hard work to escape, leaving her robe behind her (cf. Genesis 39:12). The redhidh, like ridha in Arabic, is a plaid-like upper garment thrown over the shoulders - so says Aben Ezra; but it is derived, no doubt, from the root "to make broad or thin," to spread out - perhaps, therefore, "a thin, light upper robe" which was worn over the chiton, a summer overdress, a cloak (LXX., θερίστρον: Jerome, pallium; Luther, Schleier). If we take the dream thus described, and which seems to conclude at this point, as related to the surrounding ladies, then we must suppose that it is introduced for the sake of what follows. The bride feels that she does not love her beloved one half enough; she is so conscious of deficiencies, that she might even have acted as her dream represented. It had entered her soul and made her ill with inward grief and self-reproach. She might so act, she might so treat her husband. So she adjures her companions to tell him how much she loves him. The spiritual application is not difficult to see. When the soul loses its joy in Christ, it becomes the prey of fears and self accusations, and even of reproaches from Christ's servants and the guardians of his Church. For when our religion ceases to be a spontaneous delight to us, we are apt to carry on even the active work of our life in a manner to be misunderstood by sincere believers around us. Yea, the very efforts we make to recover peace may bring reproach upon us. Any Christian minister who has had to deal with religious despondency will quite understand this dream of the bride's. We may often smite and wound, and even deprive of the garment of reputation and esteem, those who are really seeking for Christ, because we have misunderstood them. She gives herself to him, and he has accepted her, and now celebrates the delight of possession and enjoyment.

1 I am come into my garden, my sister-bride;

   Have plucked my myrrh with my balsam;

   Have eaten my honeycomb with my honey;

   Have drunk my wine with my milk -

   Eat, drink, and be drunken, ye friends!

If the exclamation of Solomon, 1a, is immediately connected with the words of Shulamith, Sol 4:16, then we must suppose that, influenced by these words, in which the ardour of love and humility express themselves, he thus in triumph exclaims, after he has embraced her in his arms as his own inalienable possession. But the exclamation denotes more than this. It supposes a union of love, such as is the conclusion of marriage following the betrothal, the God-ordained aim of sexual love within the limits fixed by morality. The poetic expression בּאתי לגנּי points to the אל eht ot בּוא, used of the entrance of a man into the woman's chamber, to which the expression (Arab.) dakhal bihā (he went in with her), used of the introduction into the bride's chamber, is compared. The road by which Solomon reached this full and entire possession was not short, and especially for his longing it was a lengthened one. He now triumphs in the final enjoyment which his ardent desire had found. A pleasant enjoyment which is reached in the way and within the limits of the divine order, and which therefore leaves no bitter fruits of self-reproach, is pleasant even in the retrospect. His words, beginning with "I am come into my garden," breathe this pleasure in the retrospect. Ginsburg and others render incorrectly, "I am coming," which would require the words to have been בּא אני (הנּה). The series of perfects beginning with באתי cannot be meant otherwise than retrospectively. The "garden" is Shulamith herself, Sol 4:12, in the fulness of her personal and spiritual attractions, Sol 4:16; cf. כּרמי, Sol 1:6. He may call her "my sister-bride;" the garden is then his by virtue of divine and human right, he has obtained possession of this garden, he has broken its costly rare flowers.

ארה (in the Mishna dialect the word used of plucking figs) signifies to pluck; the Aethiop. trans. ararku karbê, I have plucked myrrh; for the Aethiop. has arara instead of simply ארה. בּשׂמי is here שׂבּם deflected. While בּשׂם, with its plur. besâmim, denotes fragrance in general, and only balsam specially, bāsām equals (Arab.) bashâm is the proper name of the balsam-tree (the Mecca balsam), amyris opobalsamum, which, according to Forskal, is indigenous in the central mountain region of Jemen (S. Arabia); it is also called (Arab.) balsaman; the word found its way in this enlarged form into the West, and then returned in the forms בּלסמון, אפּופלסמון, אפּלרלסמא (Syr. afrusomo), into the East. Balsam and other spices were brought in abundance to King Solomon as a present by the Queen of Sheba, 1 Kings 10:10; the celebrated balsam plantations of Jericho (vid., Winer's Real-W.), which continued to be productive till the Roman period, might owe their origin to the friendly relations which Solomon sustained to the south Arab. princess. Instead of the Indian aloe, Sol 4:14, the Jamanic balsam is here connected with myrrh as a figure of Shulamith's excellences. The plucking, eating, and drinking are only interchangeable figurative descriptions of the enjoyment of love.

"Honey and milk," says Solomon, Sol 4:11, "is under thy tongue." יער is like יערה, 1 Samuel 14:27, the comb (favus) or cells containing the honey, - a designation which has perhaps been borrowed from porous lava.

(Note: Vid., Wetstein in the Zeitsch. fr allgem. Erdkunde, 1859, p. 123.)

With honey and milk "under the tongue" wine is connected, to which, and that of the noblest kind, Sol 7:10, Shulamith's palate is compared. Wine and milk together are οἰνόγαλα, which Chloe presents to Daphnis (Longus, i. 23). Solomon and his Song here hover on the pinnacle of full enjoyment; but if one understands his figurative language as it interprets itself, it here also expresses that delight of satisfaction which the author of Psalm 19:6 transfers to the countenance of the rising sun, in words of a chaste purity which sexual love never abandons, in so far as it is connected with esteem for a beloved wife, and with the preservation of mutual personal dignity. For this very reason the words of Solomon, 1a, cannot be thought of as spoken to the guests. Between Sol 4:16 and Sol 5:1 the bridal night intervenes. The words used in 1a are Solomon's morning salutation to her who has now wholly become his own. The call addressed to the guests at the feast is given forth on the second day of the marriage, which, according to ancient custom, Genesis 29:28; Judges 14:12, was wont to be celebrated for seven days, Tob. 11:18. The dramatical character of the Song leads to this result, that the pauses are passed over, the scenes are quickly changed, and the times appear to be continuous.

The plur. דּודים Hengst. thinks always designates "love" (Liebe); thus, after Proverbs 7:18, also here: Eat, friends, drink and intoxicate yourselves in love. But the summons, inebriamini amoribus, has a meaning if regarded as directed by the guests to the married pair, but not as directed to the guests. And while we may say רוה דדים, yet not שׁכר דו, for shakar has always only the accus. of a spirituous liquor after it. Therefore none of the old translators (except only the Venet.: μεθύσθητε ἔρωσιν) understood dodim, notwithstanding that elsewhere in the Song it means love, in another than a personal sense; רעים and דח are here the plur. of the elsewhere parallels רע and דּוד, e.g., Sol 5:16, according to which also (cf. on the contrary, Sol 4:16) they are accentuated. Those who are assembled are, as sympathizing friends, to participate in the pleasures of the feast. The Song of Songs has here reached its climax. A Paul would not hesitate, after Ephesians 5:31., to extend the mystical interpretation even to this. Of the antitype of the marriage pair it is said: "For the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready" (Revelation 19:7); and of the antitype of the marriage guests: "Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb" (Revelation 19:9).

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