Song of Solomon 6:4
Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.
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(4) Beautiful . . . as Tirzah.—There is no sufficient reason for the employment of Tirzah side by side with Jerusalem in this comparison but the fact that they were both capitals, the one of the northern, the other of the southern kingdom. This fixes the date of the composition of the poem within certain limits (see Excursus I.). Jeroboam first selected the ancient sanctuary of Shechem for his capital; but, from some unexplained cause, moved the seat of his government, first to Penuel, on the other side Jordan, and then to Tirzah, formerly the seat of a petty Canaanite prince. (See 1Kings 12:25; 1Kings 14:17; 1Kings 15:21; 1Kings 15:33; 1Kings 16:6; 1Kings 16:8; 1Kings 16:15; 1Kings 16:18; 1Kings 16:23; Joshua 12:24.) Robinson identified Tirzah with Tellûzah, not far from Mount Ebal, which agrees with Brocardus, who places Thersa on a high mountain, three degrees from Samaria to the east. Tirzah only remained the capital till the reign of Omri, but comes into notice again as the scene of the conspiracy of Menahem against Shallum (2Kings 15:14-16). The LXX. translate Tirzah by εὐδοκία, Vulg. suavis; and the ancient versions generally adopt this plan, to avoid, as Dr. Ginsburg thinks, the mention of the two capitals, because this made against the Solomonic authorship.

As Jerusalem.—See Lamentations 2:15. As to the idea involved in a comparison so strange to us, we notice that this author is especially fond of finding a resemblance between his love and familiar localities (see Song of Solomon 5:15; Song of Solomon 7:4-5); nor was it strange in a language that delighted in personifying a nation or city under the character of a maiden (Isaiah 47:1), and which, ten centuries later, could describe the new Jerusalem as a bride coming down from heaven adorned for her husband (Revelation 21:9, seqq.).

An army with banners.—Heb. nidgalôth, participle of niphal conjugation = bannered. (Comp.—

“And what are cheeks, but ensigns oft,

That wave hot youth to fields of blood?”)

Song of Solomon 6:4. Thou art beautiful — These are the words of Christ, who had now again manifested himself to his church; as Tirzah — A very pleasant city, the royal seat of the kings of Israel; comely as Jerusalem — Which was beautiful, both for its situation and for its goodly buildings; terrible as an army, &c. — To her enemies, whom God will certainly destroy.

6:4-10 All the real excellence and holiness on earth centre in the church. Christ goes forth subduing his enemies, while his followers gain victories over the world, the flesh, and the devil. He shows the tenderness of a Redeemer, the delight he takes in his redeemed people, and the workings of his own grace in them. True believers alone can possess the beauty of holiness. And when their real character is known, it will be commended. Both the church and believers, at their first conversion, look forth as the morning, their light being small, but increasing. As to their sanctification, they are fair as the moon, deriving all their light, grace, and holiness from Christ; and as to justification, clear as the sun, clothed with Christ, the Sun of righteousness, and fighting the good fight of faith, under the banners of Christ, against all spiritual enemies.The section might be entitled, "Renewed declaration of love after brief estrangement."

Songs 6:4

Tirzah ... Jerusalem - Named together as the then two fairest cities of the land. For Jerusalem compare Psalm 48:2. "Tirzah" (i. e., "Grace" or "Beauty ")was an old Canaanite royal city Joshua 12:24. It became again a royal residence during the reigns of Baasha and his three successors in the kingdom of the ten tribes, and may well therefore have been famed for its beauty in the time of Solomon.

Terrible as ... - Awe-inspiring as the bannered (hosts). The warlike image, like others in the Song, serves to enhance the charm of its assured peace.

4. Tirzah—meaning "pleasant" (Heb 13:21); "well-pleasing" (Mt 5:14); the royal city of one of the old Canaanite kings (Jos 12:24); and after the revolt of Israel, the royal city of its kings, before Omri founded Samaria (1Ki 16:8, 15). No ground for assigning a later date than the time of Solomon to the Song, as Tirzah was even in his time the capital of the north (Israel), as Jerusalem was of the south (Judah).

Jerusalem—residence of the kings of Judah, as Tirzah, of Israel (Ps 48:1, &c.; 122:1-3; 125:1, 2). Loveliness, security, unity, and loyalty; also the union of Israel and Judah in the Church (Isa 11:13; Jer 3:18; Eze 37:16, 17, 22; compare Heb 12:22; Re 21:2, 12).

terrible—awe-inspiring. Not only armed as a city on the defensive, but as an army on the offensive.

banners—(See on [678]So 5:10; [679]Ps 60:4); Jehovah-nissi (2Co 10:4).

Thou art beautiful, O my love: these are the words of Christ, who had now again manifested himself to his church; whereby he declares, that though he had for a season hid his face from her, yet still he retained a sincere and fervent affection to her, and that, notwithstanding her manifold infirmities, she was yet beautiful in his eyes.

Tirzah; a very pleasant city, as its very name signifies, and therefore made the royal seat of the kings of Israel; of which see 1 Kings 14:17 15:31,33 16:6, &c.

Comely as Jerusalem; which was beautiful, both for its situation, Psalm 48:2, and for its goodly buildings, especially the temple. See Lamentations 2:15.

Terrible; either,

1. To strangers, whom by her grave and, majestic looks and carriage she affrights from rude or bold attempts, whereas some women invite others to familiarity with them by their loose and wanton carriage. Or,

2. To her enemies, whom God will certainly destroy.

Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah,.... These are the words of Christ, who had been absent for some time, and till now silent; but, like another Joseph, could not refrain any longer, but makes himself known to his church, and bursts out in strong expressions of love to her, and in high commendations of her; for, notwithstanding her behavior toward him, she was his love still, and as "beautiful" and as comely in his sight as ever: and for which he compares her here to Tirzah; which is either the name of some beautiful woman, well known in those times; so one of the daughters of Zelophehad is called by this name, Numbers 27:1; but whether from her beauty is nowhere said: or rather a city of this name is here meant, since, in the next clause, the church is compared to the city of Jerusalem for the same reason. There was a city in the land of Canaan, called Tirzah, formerly the seat of one of the ancient kings of Canaan, and, in later times, of Jeroboam and some of his successors; and which, no doubt, was a very pleasant and delightful place, as its name imports, either from its situation or buildings, Joshua 12:24. Adrichomius (x) says, it was an heroic city, situated on a high mountain. In some of the Greek versions, it is read as an appellative, and tendered, as "good will" or "good pleasure" (y), and so may respect the sweetness of her temper and disposition; which is heightened by using the abstract, she was all good nature and good will; not only sweet, as the Vulgate Latin version, but "sweetness" itself, as she says of him, Sol 5:16; and this may be said of her, as she was the object of God's good will and pleasure in election, of Christ's in redemption, and of the Spirit's in effectual calling; and as she was the subject of good will, bearing one to God, to Christ, to his people, word, worship, ways, and ordinances. The word comes from a root which signifies to be "grateful and accepted": and so Jarchi interprets the word here "acceptable": and so some ancient writings of the Jews (z): and may denote the acceptableness of the church in Christ, with whom God is well pleased in him for his righteousness's sake, in which she appears exceeding fair and lovely. And for the same reason is said to be

comely as Jerusalem; the metropolis of Judea, and seat of the kings of it; and, as Pliny (a) says, was far the most famous of any of the cities of the east; it was a city well built and compact together, beautiful for situation, very rich in Solomon's time, the place of divine worship, and was strongly fortified by nature and art: and hence the church of God often bears this name, both in the Old and New Testament, Isaiah 40:2, being the city of the great King, built on Christ, the Rock; consisting of saints, fitly and closely united together; rich with the unsearchable riches of Christ; where the several parts of spiritual and evangelic worship are performed; possessed of many privileges, and well secured by the power and salvation of God. Yet

terrible as an army with banners; to her enemies, though so lovely to Christ. This shows that not a single person is meant all along, who could not with propriety be compared to an army; but a collective body, as the church is: and that the church on earth is militant, and, like a well disciplined army, in good order, and provided with proper officers and suitable armour, and in a posture of defence, and ready to fight when attacked; and so "terrible" to her enemies, Satan and his principalities, wicked men and false teachers; who are terrified by their having such a General at the head of them as Christ, and being under such banners as his, and provided with such good weapons of warfare, as are mighty through God; by their close union to one another; and by the constancy, undauntedness, and invincibleness of their faith; and are awed by their pious conversation and good examples. Perhaps some respect may be had by Christ to the church's courage and constancy in seeking after him; the force of whose faith and love he felt, which he could not withstand, and therefore says as follows:

(x) Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 74. (y) , Sept. Symmachus. (z) Siphri in Jarchi, & Shir Hashirim Rabba in loc. (a) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 14.

Thou art beautiful, O my love, as {b} Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners.

(b) Which was a fair and strong city, 1Ki 14:17.

4. Tirzah] = pleasantness, is mentioned in Joshua 12:24. It was an ancient Canaanite city, famed as its name and our passage shew for its beautiful situation. It was the royal residence of the Northern kings from the time of the abandonment of Shechem by Jeroboam I till the 6th year of Omri, who left it for Samaria, but it was apparently still of importance in the time of Menahem (2 Kings 15:14; 2 Kings 15:16). Neither the O.T. nor Josephus contains any indication as to the situation of Tirzah. But Brocardus in the 13th century, and Breydenbach in the 15th, mention a Thersa, three hours eastward of Samaria. Robinson, therefore, has identified it with the large village of Talluza, two-and-a-half hours E. of Samaria, and two hours N. of Nablous. Conder, however, has suggested that the village of Teiasir may be Tirzah. It lies two-and-a-half hours to the N. of Talluza, and has been identified by Porter in Murray’s Guide-book, 1858, with Asher a town of Manasseh, placed by Eusebius on the 15th mile from Neapolis to Scythopolis, anciently Bçthshe’ân. An objection which seems fatal is, that it lies too far from the great thoroughfare of the country for the ancient seat of the Israelite kings. From Tirzah being mentioned along with Jerusalem, this reference probably is to it as the capital of the N. kingdom. Its ancient rank as a Canaanite royal city can hardly have been in the writer’s mind. Consequently, unless this be an interpolation, as Budde makes it, the Song cannot have been written by Solomon. But it does not prove that it was written during the period that Tirzah was the capital. For the name of the town at least was known up till the 15th century of our era, and the site must always have been beautiful. Therefore, if the writer of the Song was a Northern man, who knew its beauty and history, he might have inserted the reference centuries after it had become an unimportant place, or even a ruin. Tirzah may have been chosen along with Jerusalem instead of Samaria, because of the evil odour in which the latter was held after Nehemiah’s day, or for its significant name and well-known beauty.

terrible as an army with banners] The last four words represent the Heb. word nidhgâlôth, partic. niphal of a denominative from deghel = a banner. Cp. dâghûl, ch. Song of Solomon 6:10 : literally it would be ‘beflagged things,’ if we might coin such an expression; hence companies of soldiers gathered about a flag. Rightly the LXX, θάμβος ὡς τεταγμέναι (sc. φὰλαγγες), a terror (i.e. terrible) as ranked (phalanxes). As Oettli remarks, this simile indicates that a king, not a shepherd, is speaking here. Whether the bannered hosts are terrible as overcoming, conquering, so that we have here praise of the Shulammite’s beauty, or whether we have praise of her inaccessibility as frowning upon her flatterers, must be left to individual taste. The former seems simpler, but the latter agrees best with the next clause. Cheyne suspects corruption in the text (Jew. Quart. Rev. Jan. 1899). For Tirzah he would read chabhatstseleth, and for Jerusalem and the words following it, he would read keshôshannath ǎmâqîm. His translation would therefore be, ‘Thou art fair, my friend, as the crocus, and comely as the lily of the valleys.’ But this would make the verse a mere repetition of Song of Solomon 2:1.

for they have overcome me] Rather, for they [i.e. thine eyes] have made me afraid. The word translated ‘overcome’ in A.V. is found elsewhere in the O.T. only in Psalm 138:3, where it is variously translated; A.V. ‘thou didst strengthen,’ R.V. ‘encourage,’ Variorum Bib. ‘make proud.’ Here also some have taken it in this sense. But against that is the last clause of Song of Solomon 6:4, and the “turn away” of Song of Solomon 6:5. Moreover Hitzig has shewn that in Syr. and Arab. the forms corresponding to that here used in Heb. mean, ‘to terrify.’ The LXX seem to favour that view, for their translation ἀνεπτέρωσάν με may mean ‘agitate me,’ probably with fear (cp. θάμβος in the previous verse). This would suit the context best. It is not probable that there is in the words any reference to the magic of the evil eye.

From here to the end of Song of Solomon 6:7 we have a mere repetition of Song of Solomon 4:1-3 b, with very slight variation. The only differences are that here we have ‘from Gilead’ instead of ‘from mount Gilead,’ and instead of ‘shorn ewes,’ simply, ‘ewes.’ For the commentary see Song of Solomon 4:1, &c. The repetition may be intended to indicate that the words are mere stock phrases in Solomon’s mouth (Oettli), but more probably they are stock phrases taken by the poet from the marriage wasfs, which must have consisted mainly of just such phrases.

Chap. Song of Solomon 6:4-13. The King fascinated

Here we have a renewed assault by Solomon. Just after the Shulammite’s impassioned claim to belong wholly to her lover her royal persecutor returns, and bursts out into praise of her physical beauty as before, Song of Solomon 6:4-9. In Song of Solomon 6:10 he repeats the words used by the court ladies in praising her. In Song of Solomon 6:11-13 the Shulammite, ignoring Solomon, recalls what she was doing on the fatal day when she was so praised, and her attempt at flight from the court ladies.

Verses 4-7. - Thou art beautiful, O my love, as Tirzah, comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army with banners. Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me. Thy hair is as a flock of goats that lie along the side of Gilead. Thy teeth are like a flock of ewes which are come up from the washing, whereof every one hath twins, and none is bereaved among them. Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate behind thy veil. The king is not far off. The bride knows that he is near. She prepares herself for him with words of love. He is coming among his "rosebud garden. of girls." His voice is heard as he approaches. And as he enters the chamber he bursts forth with lavish praises of his bride. Tirzah and Jerusalem, two of the most beautiful cities of the world, are taken as symbols of the surpassing beauty of the bride - doubtless also with an intended reference to the symbology of Scripture, where the people of God are compared throughout to a city. Tirzah was discovered by Robinson in 1852, on a height in the mountain range to the north of Nablus, under the name Tulluzah, high and beautiful, in a region of olive trees. The name itself signifies sweetness, which might be so employed even if there were no actual city so called. Jerusalem is said to have been "the perfection of beauty" (Psalm 48:2; Psalm 50:2; Lamentations 2:15). Cities are generally spoken of as females, as also nations. The Church is the city of God. The new Jerusalem is the bride of the Lamb. If the prophets did not take their language from this Song of Solomon, then the phraseology and symbology which we find here must have been familiarly known and used among the people of Israel from the time of Solomon. The beauty of the bride is overwhelming, it is subduing and all-conquering, like a warrior host with flying banners going forth to victory. Solomon confesses that he is vanquished. This, of course, is the hyperbole of love, but it is full of significance to the spiritual mind. The Church of Christ in the presence and power of the Lord is irresistible. It is not until he appears that the bride is seen in her perfection. She hangs her head and complains while he is absent; but when he comes and reveals himself, delighting in his people, their beauty, which is a reflection of his, will shine forth as the sun forever and ever. The word which is employed, "terrible," is from the root "to be impetuous," "to press impetuously upon," "to infuse terror," LXX., ἀναπτεροῦν, "to make to start up," referring to the flash of the eyes, the overpowering brightness of the countenance. So the purity and excellence of the Church shall delight the Lord, and no earthly power shall be able to stand before it. Heaven and earth shall meet in the latter days. Wickedness shall fly before righteousness as a detbated host before a victorious army. Is there not something like a practical commentary on these words in the history of all great revivals of religion and eras of reformation? Are there not signs even now that the beauty of the Church is becoming more and more army-like, and bearing down opposition? The remainder of the description is little more than a repetition of what has gone before, with some differences. Mount Gilead is here simply Gilead. The flock of shorn sheep is here the flock of ewes with their young. Perhaps there is intended to be a special significance in the use of the same description. The bride is the same, and therefore the same terms apply to her; but she is more beautiful than ever in the eyes of the bridegroom. Is it not a delicate mode of saying, "Though my absence from thee has made thee complain for a while, thou art still the same to me"? There is scope here for variety of interpretation which there is no need to follow. Some would say the reference is to the state of the Church at different periods - as e.g. to the primitive Church in its simplicity and purity, to the Church of the empire in its splendour and growing dominion. The Jewish expositors apply it to the different stages in the history of Israel, "the congregation" being the bride, as under the first temple and under the second temple. Ibn Ezra, and indeed all expositors, recognize the reason for the repetition as in the sameness of affection. "The beloved repeats the same things here to show that it is still his own true bride to whom he speaks, the sameness in the features proving it." So the Targum. The flock of goats, the flock of ewes, the piece of pomegranate, all suggest the simple purity of country life in which the king found so much satisfaction, he is wrapt up in his northern beauty, and idolizes her. One cannot help thinking of the early Jewish Church coming forth from Galilee, when all spoke of the freshness and genuineness of a simple-hearted piety drawn forth by the preaching of the Son of Mary - the virgin-born Bridegroom whose bride was like the streams and flowers, the birds and flocks, of beautiful Galilee; a society of believing peasants untouched by the conventionalities of Judaea, and ready to respond to the grand mountain like earnestness and heavenly purity of the new Prophet, the Shepherd of Israel, "who feedeth his flock among the lilies." There is a correspondence in the early Church, before corruption crept in and sophistication obscured the simplicity of faith and life among Christians, to this description of the bride, the Lamb's wife. There must be a return to that primitive ideal before there can be the rapturous joy of the Church which is promised. We are too much turned aside from the Bridegroom to false and worthless attractions which do not delight the Beloved One. When he sees his bride as he first saw her, he will renew his praises and lift her up to himself. Song of Solomon 6:4With Sol 6:4 Solomon's address is resumed, and a new scene opens. Shulamith had found him again, and she who is beautiful in herself appears now so much the more beautiful, when the joy of seeing him again irradiates her whole being.

4 Beautiful art thou, my friend, as Tirzah,

   Comely as Jerusalem,

   Terrible as a battle-array.

In the praise of her beauty we hear the voice of the king. The cities which are the highest ornament of his kingdom serve him as the measure of her beauty, which is designated according to the root conceptions by יפה, after the equality of completeness; by נאוה, after the quality of that which is well-becoming, pleasing. It is concluded, from the prominence given to Tirzah, that the Song was not composed till after the division of the kingdom, and that its author was an inhabitant of the northern kingdom; for Tirzah was the first royal city of this kingdom till the time of Omri, the founder of Samaria. But since, at all events, it is Solomon who here speaks, so great an historical judgment ought surely to be ascribed to a later poet who has imagined himself in the exact position of Solomon, that he would not represent the king of the undivided Israel as speaking like a king of the separate kingdom of Israel. The prominence given to Tirzah has another reason. Tirzah was discovered by Robinson on his second journey, 1852, in which Van de Velde accompanied him, on a height in the mountain range to the north of Nabls, under the name Tullzah. Brocardus and Breydenback had already pointed out a village called Thersa to the east of Samaria. This form of the name corresponds to the Heb. better than that Arab. Tullûzah; but the place is suitable, and if Tullzah lies high and beautiful in a region of olive trees, then it still justifies its ancient name, which means pleasantness or sweetness. But it cannot be sweetness on account of which Tirzah is named before Jerusalem, for in the eye of the Israelites Jerusalem was "the perfection of beauty" (Psalm 50:2; Lamentations 2:15). That there is gradation from Tirzah to Jerusalem (Hengst.) cannot be said; for נאוה (decora) and יפה (pulchra) would be reversed if a climax were intended. The reason of it is rather this, that Shulamith is from the higher region, and is not a daughter of Jerusalem, and that therefore a beautiful city situated in the north toward Sunem must serve as a comparison of her beauty. That Shulamith is both beautiful and terrible (אימּה from אים) is not contradiction: she is terrible in the irresistible power of the impression of her personality, terrible as nîdgaloth, i.e., as troops going forth with their banners unfurled (cf. the Kal of this v. denom., Psalm 20:6). We do not need to supply מצנות, which is sometimes fem., Psalm 25:3; Genesis 32:9, although the attribute would here be appropriate, Numbers 2:3, cf. Song Numbers 10:5; still less צבאות, which occurs in the sense of military service, Isaiah 40:2, and a war-expedition, Daniel 8:12, but not in the sense of war-host, as fem. Much rather nidgaloth, thus neut., is meant of bannered hosts, as ארחות (not אר), Isaiah 21:13, of those that are marching. War-hosts with their banners, their standards, go forth confident of victory. Such is Shulamith's whole appearance, although she is unconscious of it - a veni, vidi, vici. Solomon is completely vanquished by her. But seeking to maintain himself in freedom over against her, he cries out to her:

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