Song of Solomon 7:1
How beautiful are your feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of your thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
VII.

(1) How beautiful . . .—Literally, How beautiful are thy feet (or thy steps) in the sandals. This description of the beauty of the bride—

“From the delicate Arab arch of her feet

To the grace that, bright and light as the crest

Of a peacock, sits on her shining head”—

is plainly connected with the dance mentioned in the last verse, and possibly proceeds in this order, instead of from the head downwards, because the feet of a dancer would first attract attention. See end of Excursus III.

O prince’s daughter!—Heb. Bath-nadib (the LXX. keep Ναδαβ)—evidently again suggested by Amminadib, in Song of Solomon 6:12. But as the allusion there cannot be recovered, nothing relating to the rank of the heroine can be deduced from the recurrence of nadib (= noble) here. The reference may be to character rather than descent, just as in the opposite expression, “daughter of Belial” (1Samuel 1:16).

Joints.—Heb. chamûk, from chamah—went away, probably refers to the rapid movements in dancing, and the image is suggested by the graceful curves formed by a chain or pendulous ornament when in motion. Or the reference may be to the contour of the person.

Song of Solomon 7:1. How beautiful are thy feet, &c. — The bridegroom, who spake the last words, here continues his speech, and breaks forth into a particular description and commendation of the spouse, partly from the parts of her body, and partly from her ornaments. With respect to which the same thing is to be observed which was remarked concerning her description of the bridegroom, namely, that there is no necessity of a distinct application of every particular article of it, the design being only this, to describe the beauty and glory of the church, under the representation of a beautiful and noble woman. This also is observable, that in the description of Christ, she begins at the head, and so goeth downward, (Song of Solomon 5:11, &c.,) but Christ, in the description of the spouse, proceeds from the feet upward. With shoes — Shoes were anciently evidences of a free and comfortable state, whereas slaves and mourners used to go barefoot.7:1-9 The similitudes here are different from what they were before, and in the original refer to glorious and splendid clothing. Such honour have all his saints; and having put on Christ, they are distinguished by their beautiful and glorious apparel. They adorn the doctrine of God their Saviour in all things. Consistent believers honour Christ, recommend the gospel, and convince and awaken sinners. The church resembles the stately and spreading palm; while her love for Christ, and the obedience resulting therefrom, are precious fruit of the true Vine. The King is held in the galleries. Christ takes delight in the assemblies and ordinances of his people; and admires the fruit of his grace in them. When applied to the church and to each faithful Christian, all this denotes that beauty of holiness, in which they shall be presented to their heavenly Bridegroom.Thy feet with shoes - Or, thy steps in the sandals: the bride's feet are seen in motion in the dance. "Joints" might be rendered circling movements.

Prince's daughter - Or, daughter of a noble; the bride is of honorable though not of kingly birth.

Like jewels - The image suggested is that of large well-formed pearls or other jewels skillfully strung or linked together.

CHAPTER 7

So 7:1-13.

1. thy feet—rather, "thy goings" (Ps 17:5). Evident allusion to Isa 52:7: "How beautiful … are the feet of him … that publisheth peace" (Shulamite, So 6:13).

shoes—Sandals are richly jewelled in the East (Lu 15:22; Eph 6:15). She is evidently "on the mountains," whither she was wafted (So 6:12), above the daughters of Jerusalem, who therefore portray her feet first.

daughter—of God the Father, with whom Jesus Christ is one (Mt 5:9), "children of (the) God" (of peace), equivalent to Shulamite (Ps 45:10-15; 2Co 6:18), as well as bride of Jesus Christ.

prince's—therefore princely herself, freely giving the word of life to others, not sparing her "feet," as in So 5:3; Ex 12:11. To act on the offensive is defensive to ourselves.

joints—rather, "the rounding"; the full graceful curve of the hips in the female figure; like the rounding of a necklace (as the Hebrew for "jewels" means). Compare with the English Version, Eph 4:13-16; Col 2:19. Or, applying it to the girdle binding together the robes round the hips (Eph 6:14).

cunning workman—(Ps 139:14-16; Eph 2:10, 22; 5:29, 30, 32).A further description of the church’ s graces, Song of Solomon 7:1-7. This design to visit the church, with the blessed effect thereof, Song of Solomon 7:8,9. She professeth her faith and desire, Song of Solomon 7:10. She inviteth him to communion with her, Song of Solomon 7:11. The end thereof, Song of Solomon 7:12,13.

The Bridegroom, who spake the last words, here continueth his speech, and breaks forth into an elegant and particular description and commendation of the spouse, partly from the parts of her body, and partly from her ornaments; in which the same thing is to be observed which was noted concerning her description of the Bridegroom, that there is no necessity of a distinct application of every parcel of it, the design being only this, to describe the beauty and glory of the church under the representation of a beautiful and noble woman. This also is observable, that in the description of Christ she begins at the head, and so goeth downward, Song of Solomon 5:11, &c., but Christ in the description of the spouse proceedeth from the feet upwards.

Feet being the chief instrument of our motion from place to place, is oft used metonymically for the motion itself, and so may here signify either the inward motions, the workings of the affections, or the outward motions, the steps or actions of the life, both which are right and amiable in believers.

Shoes were anciently evidences of a free and comfortable state, whereas slaves and mourners use to go barefoot, 2 Samuel 15:30 Isaiah 20:4, which also in women of high quality were adorned with gold and other ornaments; of which see Isaiah 3:18. These may also signify that the feet of believers should be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15. Prince’s daughter, both by birth, being born of God, and by disposition and deportment agreeable to that quality.

The joints of thy thighs; either,

1. The hollow place in which the hip or thigh-bone moveth and turneth itself; or rather,

2. The hip or thighbone which moveth there; for this is more fitly compared to a jewel well set. Some understand this of some ornaments worn by women upon those parts; for the word rendered joints may signify girdles, or any ornament which encompasseth any part of the body, and the same words which signify thighs are both in Hebrew and other languages sometimes used concerning the legs; which being admitted, this might seem to be understood of the bride’s garters, about her legs, which not unfitly follows the shoes upon her feet last mentioned. But this sense seems not to suit so well with the following comparison as the former doth.

Like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman; like jewels orderly and excellently set by a skillful artist. So this signifies the uprightness and decency of her going, which depends very much upon the right situation of the hip or thigh-bone, which when it is dislocated or disordered causeth a lameness or uncomeliness in going; whereby he understands the orderliness and amiableness of her conversation.

How beautiful are thy feet with shoes,.... It is no unusual thing to describe the comeliness of women by their feet, and the ornaments of them; so Hebe is described by Homer (d) as having beautiful feet, and Juno by her golden shoes: particular care was taken of, and provision made for, the shoes of queens and princesses in the eastern countries; Herodotus (e) tells us, that the city of Anthylla was given peculiarly to the wife of the king of Egypt, to provide her with shoes; which custom, he says, obtained when Egypt became subject to Persia; See Gill on Esther 2:18. Shoes of a red, or scarlet, or purple colour, were in esteem with the Jews; and so the Targum here is,

"purple shoes:''

the word used is thought by some (f) to signify a colour between scarlet and purple; see Ezekiel 16:10; and also with the Tyrian virgins (g); and so with the Romans (h); and with whom likewise white shoes (i) were much in use. That this is said of the church, is plain from the appellation of her,

O Prince's daughter! the same with the King's daughter, Psalm 45:13; the daughter of the King of kings; for, being espoused to Christ, his Father is her Father, and his God her God: besides, she is born of him who is the Prince of the kings of the earth, 1 John 2:28; she is both a Prince's wife and a Prince's daughter. It may be rendered, "O noble", or "princely daughter" (k)! being of a free princely spirit, in opposition to a servile one, Psalm 51:12; of a bountiful and liberal spirit, as in, Isaiah 32:5; in distributing temporal things to the necessities of the poor; and in communicating spiritual things to the comfort and edification of others. Some take these to be the words of the daughters of Jerusalem, wondering at the church's beauty, on turning herself to them as they desired: but they are rather the words of Christ; who, observing the church speak so meanly of herself, in order to encourage her, gives a high commendation of her in this and some following verses, and begins with her "feet"; not her ministers, who are "shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace", Ephesians 6:15, and who appear beautiful in the eyes of those who have any knowledge of the good things they publish and proclaim; for they are set in the highest place in the church: but here the lowest and meanest members of the church are meant; whose outward walk, the feet are the instruments of, may be said to be "beautiful with shoes", when they are ready to every good work; when their conversation is ordered aright, is agreeably to the word of God, and as becomes the Gospel of Christ; and which, like shoes, is a fence against the briers and thorns, the reproaches and calumnies, of the world; and when there is such a lustre upon it that it cannot but be seen and observed by spectators, by which they are excited to glorify God, it is so beautiful in the eyes of Christ, that to such he shows the salvation of God;

the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman; a skilful artificer, a goldsmith or jeweller: the allusion seems to be to some ornaments about the knees or legs, wore by women in those times; see Isaiah 3:18; and this may serve to set off the lustre and beauty of the church's conversation. And since it seems not so decent to describe the parts themselves mentioned, the words may rather design the "femoralia", or garments, with which they were covered; and may signify the garments of salvations and robe of Christ's righteousness, whereby the church's members are covered, so that their nakedness is not seen; but with them are as richly adorned bridegroom and bride with their ornaments and which are not the bungling work of a creature, but of one that is God as well as man, and therefore called the righteousness of God. Some have thought that the girdle about the loins is meant, the thighs being put for the loins, Genesis 46:26; and so may intend the girdle of truth, mentioned along with the preparation of the Gospel of peace the feet are said to be shod with, Ephesians 6:14; and the metaphor of girding is used when a Gospel conversation is directed to, Luke 12:35. But it seems best by these "joints", or "turnings of the thighs" (l), by which they move more orderly and regularly, to understand the principles of the walk and conversation of saints, as one observes (m); without which it cannot be ordered aright; for principles denominate actions, good and bad; and the principles of grace, by which believers move in their Christian walk, are as valuable and as precious as jewels, such as faith and love, and a regard to the glory of God; and which are curiously wrought by the finger of God, by his Holy Spirit, who "works in them both to will and to do of his good pleasure", Philippians 2:13.

(d) Odyss. 11. v. 602, 603. "Auratos pedes", Ovid. Amor. l. 3. Eleg. 12. (e) Euterpe, sivw l. 2. c. 98. (f) Vid. Braunium de Vest. Sacerd. Heb. l. 1. p. 295, 306. (g) "Virginibus Tyrriis mos est", &c. Virgil. Aeneid. 1.((h) Vid. Persii Satyr. 5. v. 169. Virgil. Bucolic. Eclog. 7. v. 32. (i) "Pes maslus in niveo", &c. Ovid. de Arte Amandi, l. 3. Vid. Martial. l. 7. Epigr. 27. (k) "puella nobills", Castalio; "filia voluntarie", Marckius; "principalis, nobills, et ingenua virgo, sc. filia", so some in Michaelis. (l) "vertebra", Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus; "signat illam agilem versatilem juncturam, qua capite femorum in suis foraminibus expedite moventur", Brightman. (m) Durham in loc.

How beautiful are thy {a} feet with shoes, O prince's daughter! the joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a skilful workman.

(a) He describes the comely beauty of the Church in every part, which is to be understood spiritually.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. thy feet with shoes] Lit. thy steps in sandals. Budde emphasises the fact that the feet are not spoken of here, but the steps, i.e. in his view the dancing movements of the feet in the sword dance. Oettli on the other hand emphasises the shoes, pointing out that the country maiden had probably not worn them before, but the ladies say how well she walks, and how well they become her. The latter is the sense which accords best with the view of the poem which we have taken.

O prince’s daughter] This does not mean that the bride was actually of a noble family. Even if Budde’s interpretation of the poem were accepted, it would be a strange thing to call the bride a nobleman’s daughter, for it would be ridiculous to call a peasant bride, who was a queen only as a bride, a prince’s daughter, and even if Abishag were referred to she was not that either. Nor can the phrase be a substitute for queen, for strictly speaking Solomon’s queens were not noblemen’s but kings’ daughters. On the dramatic view, bath nâdhîbh must mean ‘a born lady’ as we say, i.e. one who would adorn any station. Siegfried thinks that the words arise from a confusion with the Shunammite woman in 2 Kings 4:8, who is called ‘a great woman,’ i.e. a woman of good position. Cheyne would read here, as in Song of Solomon 6:12, daughter of delights. That would suit our view admirably, but there seems to be no sufficient support for it.

The joints of thy thighs are like jewels] Probably this should be rendered as in the R.V. margin, Thy rounded thighs are like jewels, except that the diminutive force which the word ‘jewels’ has is rather inappropriate here, where some large ornament must be meant. The graceful curves of the hips are for beauty of form like ornaments. Some with less probability explain the word to mean the rhythmical movements of the dance.

a cunning workman] Cunning, of course, is used here in the old sense of ‘skilful,’ and probably ’ommân is equivalent to ’âmôn, a skilled artisan. Stade, Gramm. p. 12, gives it as a word of the Northern dialect.

Chap. Song of Solomon 7:1-6. The Praises of the Ladies of the Hareem

This song or section contains the praises of the Shulammite by the ladies of the hareem; but the circumstances under which the words are spoken are in no way indicated. Some, as Oettli, would make it part of the previous scene. But we can hardly suppose that her dress in the presence of Solomon would be such as to suggest the kind of references to her person here made. It would rather seem to us that they were made in the privacy of the women’s apartments, when the Shulammite was being dressed by the women of the court to receive Solomon. In that case it would stand by itself as a separate picture. The object of this fulsome flattery would be to induce her to accept the king’s addresses. The phrase ‘a king is prisoner in its locks’ (Song of Solomon 7:5) is the climax, and reveals the purpose of the whole.Verse 1. - How beautiful are thy feet in sandals, O prince's daughter! The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, the work of the hands of a cunning workman. To the ladies who are looking on the bride appears simply noble and royal. The word naudhib which is used, translated "prince's daughter," means "noble in disposition," and so in birth and rank, as in 1 Samuel 2:8; Psalm 113:8; so in Song of Solomon 6:12, "the princely people." The description, which is perfectly chaste, is intended to bring before the eye the lithe and beautiful movements of an elegant dancer; the bendings of the body, full of activity and grace, are compared to the swinging to and fro of jewelled ornaments made in chains. The cunning workman or artist is one who is master of that which abides beautiful. אָמָּן, like, יָמִין, "whose truthful work can be trusted." The description passes from the thighs or loins to the middle part of the body, because in the mode of dancing prevailing in the East the breast and the body, are raised, and the outlines of the form appear through the clothing, which is of a light texture. We must not expect to find a symbolical meaning for all the details of such a description. The general intention is to set forth the beauty and glory of the bride. The Church of Christ is most delightful in his sight when it is most full of activity and life, and every portion of it is called forth into manifest excellence. "Arise, shine," is the invitation addressed to the whole Church, "shake thyself from the dust," "put on thy beautiful garments," be ready for thy Lord. 8 There are sixty queens,

   And eighty concubines,

   And virgins without number.

9 One is my dove, my perfect one, -

   The only one of her mother,

   The choice one of her that bare her.

   The daughters saw her and called her blessed, -

   Queens and concubines, and they extolled her.

Even here, where, if anywhere, notice of the difference of gender was to be expected, המּה stands instead of the more accurate הנּה (e.g., Genesis 6:2). The number off the women of Solomon's court, 1 Kings 11:3, is far greater (700 wives and 300 concubines); and those who deny the Solomonic authorship of the Song regard the poet, in this particular, as more historical than the historian. On our part, holding as we do the Solomonic authorship of the book, we conclude from these low numbers that the Song celebrates a love-relation of Solomon's at the commencement of his reign: his luxury had not then reached the enormous height to which he, the same Solomon, looks back, and which he designates, Ecclesiastes 2:8, as vanitas vanitatum. At any rate, the number of 60 מלכות, i.e., legitimate wives of equal rank with himself, is yet high enough; for, according to 2 Chronicles 11:21, Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines. The 60 occurred before, at Sol 3:7. If it be a round number, as sometimes, although rarely, sexaginta is thus used (Hitzig), it may be reduced only to 51, but not further, especially here, where 80 stands along with it. פילגשׁ (פּלּגשׁ), Gr. πάλλαξ παλλακή (Lat. pellex), which in the form פּלּקתּא (פּלקתא) came back from the Greek to the Aramaic, is a word as yet unexplained. According to the formation, it may be compared to חרמשׁ, from חרם, to cut off; whence also the harem bears the (Arab.) name ḥaram, or the separated synaeconitis, to which access is denied. And ending in is (ש) is known to the Assyr., but only as an adverbial ending, which, as 'istinis equals לבדּו, alone, solus, shows is connected with the pron. su. These two nouns appear as thus requiring to be referred to quadrilitera, with the annexed שׁ; perhaps פלגשׁ, in the sense of to break into splinters, from פּלג, to divide (whence a brook, as dividing itself in its channels, has the name of פּלג), points to the polygamous relation as a breaking up of the marriage of one; so that a concubine has the name pillěgěsh, as a representant of polygamy in contrast to monogamy.

In the first line of Sol 6:9 אחת is subj. (one, who is my dove, my perfect one); in the second line, on the contrary, it is pred. (one, unica, is she of her mother). That Shulamith was her mother's only child does not, however, follow from this; אחת, unica, is equivalent to unice dilecta, as יחיד, Proverbs 4:3, is equivalent to unice dilectus (cf. Keil's Zechariah 14:7). The parall. בּרה has its nearest signification electa (lxx, Syr., Jerome), not pura (Venet.); the fundamental idea of cutting and separating divides itself into the ideas of choosing and purifying. The Aorists, Sol 6:9, are the only ones in this book; they denote that Shulamith's look had, on the part of the women, this immediate result, that they willingly assigned to her the good fortune of being preferred to them all, - that to her the prize was due. The words, as also at Proverbs 31:28, are an echo of Genesis 30:13, - the books of the Chokma delight in references to Genesis, the book of pre-Israelitish origin. Here, in Sol 6:8, Sol 6:9, the distinction between our typical and the allegorical interpretation is correctly seen. The latter is bound to explain what the 60 and the 80 mean, and how the wives, concubines, and "virgins" of the harem are to be distinguished from each other; but what till now has been attempted in this matter has, by reason of its very absurdity or folly, become an easy subject of wanton mockery. But the typical interpretation regards the 60 and the 80, and the unreckoned number, as what their names denote, - viz. favourites, concubines, and serving-maids. But to see an allegory of heavenly things in such a herd of women - a kind of thing which the Book of Genesis dates from the degradation of marriage in the line of Cain - is a profanation of that which is holy. The fact is, that by a violation of the law of God (Deuteronomy 17:17), Solomon brings a cloud over the typical representation, which is not at all to be thought of in connection with the Antitype. Solomon, as Jul Sturm rightly remarks, is not to be considered by himself, but only in his relation to Shulamith. In Christ, on the contrary, is no imperfection; sin remains in the congregation. In the Song, the bride is purer than the bridegroom; but in the fulfilling of the Song this relation is reversed: the bridegroom is purer than the bride.

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