Song of Solomon 8:1
O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
VIII.

(1) O that thou wert as my brother.—The poet makes his beloved recall the feelings she had for him before the obstacles to their union were removed. She dared not then avow her affection for him as a lover, and wished that their relationship had been such as to allow of their meeting and embracing without reproach. Marg., “They (i.e., her family and friends) should not despise (i.e., reproach) me.”

Song of Solomon 8:1. O that thou wert as my brother — Most intimate, and free, and familiar with me, as brethren and sisters commonly are; that sucked the breasts of my mother — That came out of the same womb and sucked the same breasts, and were brother and sister by father and mother too: for such are generally most dear to one another. The intent of these expressions, and of those in the three following verses, is to signify the church’s earnest desire of a stricter union, and more intimate fellowship with Christ. When I should find thee without, &c. — In the open streets; I would kiss thee, &c. — And thus express my affection to thee openly, without fearing any scandal or contempt; such expressions being usual among persons so nearly and dearly related.

8:1-4 The church wishes for the constant intimacy and freedom with the Lord Jesus that a sister has with a brother. That they might be as his brethren, which they are, when by grace they are made partakers of a Divine nature. Christ is become as our Brother; wherever we find him, let us be ready to own our relation to him, and affection for him, and not fear being despised for it. Is there in us an ardent wish to serve Christ more and better? What then have we laid up in store, to show our affection to the Beloved of our souls? What fruit unto holiness? The church charges all her children that they never provoke Christ to withdraw. We should reason with ourselves, when tempted to do what would grieve the Spirit.Royal rank and splendor are grown wearisome. The king once called her "sister" and "sister-bride." Would he were indeed as a "brother," her mother's own child whom she might meet, embrace, and welcome everywhere without restraint or shame. Her love for him is simple, sacred, pure, free from the unrest and the stains of mere earthly passion. CHAPTER 8

So 8:1-14.

1. He had been a brother already. Why, then, this prayer here? It refers to the time after His resurrection, when the previous outward intimacy with Him was no longer allowed, but it was implied it should be renewed at the second coming (Joh 20:17). For this the Church here prays; meanwhile she enjoys inward spiritual communion with Him. The last who ever "kissed" Jesus Christ on earth was the traitor Judas. The bride's return with the King to her mother's house answers to Ac 8:25, after the mission to Samaria. The rest spoken of (So 8:4) answers to Ac 9:31.

that sucked … mother—a brother born of the same mother; the closest tie.The church expresseth her desire of familiarity with Christ, Song of Solomon 8:1, by the entertainment she would make him, Song of Solomon 8:2,3. She charges the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb her. Beloved, Song of Solomon 8:4. A commendation of the church for her faith in Christ, Song of Solomon 8:5. She prayeth for full assurance of his love; her invincible desire, Song of Solomon 8:6; which is insatiable, Song of Solomon 8:7. The calling of the Gentiles, with their intent, and her condition, Song of Solomon 8:8-13. Christ’s coming prayed for, Song of Solomon 8:14.

Oh that thou wert as my brother, most intimate, and free, and familiar with me, as brethren and sisters commonly are,

that sucked the breasts of my mother! that came out of the same womb, and sucked the same breasts, and consequently were brother and sister by father and mother too; for such are most dear to one another. See Genesis 43:29 Deu 13:6. Heb. sucking the breasts, &c.; so she wisheth that he were as a little sucking brother, with whom she might innocently and inoffensively delight herself, as sister: do with such a brother. The church here expresseth her passionate desire of a stricter union and closer communion with Christ than yet she had attained. And in particular these may be the breathings of the ancient Jewish church after Christ’s incarnation, whereby he was to be their brother, Romans 8:29 Hebrews 2:11,12, and a sucking infant.

Without; in the open streets; I might then express my affections to thee, and kiss thee openly, without any scandal or contempt. Or, without, i.e. come forth from the Father’s bosom into the world, John 16:28.

I would kiss thee; I would demonstrate my reverence, and subjection, and affection to thee, of all which kissing was a token in those times and places, as hath been oft observed in divers foregoing texts.

Yet I should not be despised; then should I not be ashamed or censured, as if I had done an indecent or immodest action, because such expressions of love are usual amongst persons so nearly and dearly related.

O that thou wert as my brother,.... Or, "who will give thee as a brother to me?" (q) an usual form of wishing, Deuteronomy 5:29, Psalm 14:7. The church here not only requests that Christ would be like a brother to her, but appear to be really one, and to act the part of one towards her; with whom she might as freely converse as brother and sister may. Several Jewish (r) writers own, that the King Messiah is intended here; and in such a relation Christ does stand to his church and people, by virtue of his incarnation, Hebrews 2:11; hence many of the ancients take this to be a wish of the Jewish church, for the coming of Christ in the flesh; and also through their adoption, he and they having one Father, John 20:17; and by being of a like nature, disposition, and practice, Matthew 12:50; as well as on the score of love and friendship, Proverbs 18:24; and this relation Christ fills up, by the intimacy and familiarity he uses them with; by his compassion on them, and sympathy with them, in all their afflictions; by the help, aid, and relief, he gives them; by his condescension to their weaknesses, and by his great love and affection for them. As a further description of him as a brother, it is added,

that sucked the breasts of my mother; which may denote the truth and reality of Christ's incarnation, being a sucking infant: and the near relation of Christ to his people, being a brother by the mother's side, reckoned the nearest, and their affection to each other the strongest: by her "mother" may be meant Jerusalem above, the mother of us all; and, by her "breasts", the ordinances, of which Christ, as man, partook when on earth, and now may be said to suck, as formed in the hearts of his people;

when I should find thee without; or, "in the street" (s); in public ordinances, where Christ is to be found; or outside of Judea, in the Gentile world, where, after his coming in the flesh, his Gospel was preached, the ordinances administered, and he was there to be found; or in the most public place and manner, where she should not be ashamed to own him, his truths and ordinances, before men;

I would kiss thee; not only with a kiss of approbation, Proverbs 24:16; but of love and affection, of faith and confidence, of homage and subjection, of worship and adoration; see Psalm 2:12; this is an usage with relations and friends, brothers and sisters, at meeting; hence Heunischius refers this to the time when the saints shall meet Christ in the clouds, who will be admitted to the nearest embraces of him, with unspeakable pleasure, and enjoy him to all eternity;

yea, I should not be despised; for taking such freedom with Christ, her brother. Or, "they would not despise me" (t); neither men nor angels, for such an action, and still less God, the Father, Son, and Spirit; which she might conclude from the relation between them, it being no more unseemly than for a sister to use such freedom with an own brother, even in the street; and from the reception she had reason to believe she should meet with from Christ: who would not turn away his face from her, when she offered to kiss him, which would occasion shame and blushing. The whole expresses her boldness in professing Christ, without fear or shame, in the most public manner.

(q) "quis det te?" Pagninus, Montanus, Marckius. (r) Targum in loc. Zohar in Gen. fol. 104. 1. Tzeror Hammor, fol. 73. 3. Caphtor Uperah, fol. 5. 2.((s) "in platen", Montanus, Brightman, Marckius; "in publico", Cocceius, Michaelis. (t) "non contemnent, vel contemnerent me", Montanus, Brightman, Marckius.

O {a} that thou wert as my brother, that was nourished at the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee outside, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.

(a) The Church called of the Gentiles speaks thus to the Church of Jerusalem.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Ch. Song of Solomon 8:1. O that thou wert as my brother] As should probably be omitted, as the accidental repetition of the last letter of the preceding word. She wishes that her lover were her brother. That she should wish that being her lover he were in the same position in regard to her as a brother would have occupied, does not seem to be likely. What she desires is freedom to love him and to express that love. Had he been her brother she would have had that liberty. Only the uterine brother and the father’s brother’s son have among the Bedawin the right to kiss a maiden. Cp. Wetzstein, ZDMG. XXII. pp. 93, 108. Such a wish as this seems quite incompatible with the view that the Song is a collection of songs sung at weddings after the marriage has been consummated.

when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee] Better, so that, should I find thee without, I might kiss thee, and yet none would despise me. She would in that case be doing nothing unmaidenly, nothing for which she could be held in contempt, in shewing her love.

Verses 1-3. - Oh that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! When I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; and none would despise me. I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me; I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice of my pomegranate. His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me. The meaning seems to be this - Let our relation to one another be the highest and the purest and the most permanent possible. The sisterly relation is not merely one of affection, but one of blood. The bond between husband and wife may be broken by the caprice and weakness of human feeling, but nothing can destroy the bond of blood. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17); "There is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Proverbs 18:24). The brotherly bond represents the strength of the blood relationship. When to that is added personal affection, then the tie is perfect. Shulamith means that she would have their love freed from all the uncertainties of human fickleness. As symbolically interpreted, therefore, we take this whole passage to signify that the Church, when it is desiring the closest fellowship with the Saviour, would be lifted above all the temptations of earthly life, which so often lower the standard of Christian feeling and service. The words are specially impressive in the lips of the bride of Solomon. It is a testimony to the inspiration of the whole book that the voluptuous monarch, whose life fell so far below the ideal of a godly king, should yet, indirectly though still powerfully, condemn and rebuke his own departure from God, setting clearly before us the surpassing excellence of pure love and the sanctity of married life. In the Mug's address to his bride he called her "sister" and "sister-bride;" she now virtually returns his own sentiment and calls him "brother."' She shows that she has risen in her love far above the mere fleshly desires - "the lust of the fiesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life." She would blend her whole existence with that of her Lord. I would kiss thee; yea, and none would despise me. Nothing can more exquisitely and delicately express the fulness of affection. It is not merely a return for that which is given; it is free and spontaneous. So should our spiritual feelings be. They should be the natural outpouring of the soul towards the Saviour; not a worked up, artificial, spasmodic impulse, not a cold, dead formalism, not an unsympathetic service of conscience; but "doing the will of God from the heart." "Love is the fulfilling of the Law;" "Faith worketh by love." The second verse is differently rendered by some. Jerome, Venetian, and Luther take it as referring to the bride's dependence on her husband's superior wisdom - "Thou wouldest instruct me;" which, of course, is a very suitable sentiment as addressed to the wise King Solomon. The Targum expounds it thus: "I would conduct thee, O King Messiah, and bring thee into the house of my sanctuary; and thou wouldest teach me to fear God and to walk in his ways." Hitzig and our Revisers take the verb as in the third person feminine, and applied to the mother. "She would teach me as a mother teaches a young bride, from her own early experience." The old view that the bride is the personification of wisdom seems quite refuted by this speech of Shulamith's. She desires and waits for instruction. Solomon is wisdom. She is the soul of man, or the Church of God, delighting to sit at his feet and learn of him. Whichever rendering we choose, whether the mother or Solomon be regarded as teacher, the meaning is the same. It is, as Delitzsch has observed, a deep revelation of Shulamith's heart. "She knew how much she yet came short of being to the king all that a wife should be. But in Jerusalem the bustle of court life and the burden of his regal duties did not permit him to devote himself to her; in her mother's house, if he were once there, he would in. struct her, and she would requite him with her spiced wine and with the juice of the pomegranates." The "spiced wine," vinum conditura, aromatic wine, probably grape wine "mixed with fragrant and pungent essences," as in the East. The juice, or pressed juice, of the pomegranate is a delicious drink. There is no allusion to any love symbol. The grains of the pomegranates were said by the Arabians to be from Paradise (cf. the ῤοι'´της, or "vinum de punicis quod roidem vocant" in Dioscorides and Pliny). Perhaps this reference to exchange of gifts may be taken as symbolizing the happy state of the Church when she pours out her treasures in response to the spiritual blessings which she is freely receiving. The meaning is something beautiful and precious. And that is the highest state of religious life when the service we render and the gifts we place on the altar are felt to be the grateful sacrifices of our hearts under a sense of Divine love. When the Church of Christ depends for its support on such fellowship between itself and the Saviour there will be no limits to its attainments, no achievements beyond its powers. "All that see" such a state of the Church "shall acknowledge" the glory of it, "that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed" (see the whole of the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, which breathes the very spirit of Solomon's Song). The rejoicing bride then gives herself up to the thought of her husband's affection. In that beautiful simplicity and purity of her childhood's life she would realize the bliss of her new relation. Delitzsch describes her state of mind thus: "Resigning herself dreamily to the idea that Solomon is her brother, whom she may freely and openly kiss, and her teacher besides, with whom she may sit in confidential intercourse under her mother's eye, she feels herself as if closely embraced by him, and calls from a distance to the daughters of Jerusalem not to disturb this her happy enjoyment." Perhaps the sense of weakness and dependence is meant to be expressed. The bride is conscious that her lord is everything to her. In that identification which the highest love brings vividly into the soul, there is the joy of exultation. "All things are ours; and we are Christ's, and Christ is God's." Song of Solomon 8:1If Solomon now complies with her request, yields to her invitation, then she will again see her parental home, where, in the days of her first love, she laid up for him that which was most precious, that she might thereby give him joy. Since she thus places herself with her whole soul back again in her home and amid its associations, the wish expressed in these words that follow rises up within her in the childlike purity of her love:

1 O that thou wert like a brother to me,

   Who sucked my mother's breasts!

   If I found thee without, I would kiss thee;

   They also could not despise me.

2 I would lead thee, bring thee into my mother's house;

   Thou wouldest instruct me -

   I would give thee to drink spiced wine,

   The must of my pomegranates.

Solomon is not her brother, who, with her, hung upon the same mother's breast; but she wishes, carried away in her dream into the reality of that she wished for, that she had him as her brother, or rather, since she says, not אח, but כּאח (with כּ, which here has not, as at Psalm 35:14, the meaning of tanquam, but of instar, as at Job 24:14), that she had in him what a brother is to a sister. In that case, if she found him without, she would kiss him (hypoth. fut. in the protasis, and fut. without Vav in the apodosis, as at Job 20:24; Hosea 8:12; Psalm 139:18) - she could do this without putting any restraint on herself for the sake of propriety (cf. the kiss of the wanton harlot, Proverbs 7:13), and also (גּם) without needing to fear that they who saw it would treat it scornfully (ל בּוּז, as in the reminiscence, Proverbs 6:30). The close union which lies in the sisterly relationship thus appeared to her to be higher than the near connection established by the marriage relationship, and her childlike feeling deceived her not: the sisterly relationship is certainly purer, firmer, more enduring than that of marriage, so far as this does not deepen itself into an equality with the sisterly, and attain to friendship, yea, brotherhood (Proverbs 17:17), within. That Shulamith thus feels herself happy in the thought that Solomon was to her as a brother, shows, in a characteristic manner, that "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life," were foreign to her. If he were her brother, she would take him by the hand,

(Note: Ben-Asher punctuates אנהגך. Thus also P. rightly. Ben-Naphtali, on the contrary, punctuates אנהגך. Cf. Genesis (1869), p. 85, note 3.)

and bring him into her mother's house, and he would then, under the eye of their common mother, become her teacher, and she would become his scholar. The lxx adds, after the words "into my mother's house," the phrase, καὶ εἰς ταμεῖον τῆς συλλαβούσης με, cf. Sol 3:4. In the same manner also the Syr., which has not read the words διδάξεις με following, which are found in some Codd. of the lxx. Regarding the word telammedēne (thou wouldest instruct me) as incongruous, Hitzig asks: What should he then teach her? He refers it to her mother: "who would teach me," namely, from her own earlier experience, how I might do everything rightly for him. "Were the meaning," he adds, "he should do it, then also it is she who ought to be represented as led home by him into his house, the bride by the bridegroom." But, correctly, Jerome, the Venet., and Luther: "Thou wouldest (shouldest) instruct me;" also the Targ.: "I would conduct thee, O King Messiah, and bring Thee into the house of my sanctuary; and Thou wouldest teach me (וּתאלּף יתי) to fear God and to walk in His ways." Not her mother, but Solomon, is in possession of the wisdom which she covets; and if he were her brother, as she wishes, then she would constrain him to devote himself to her as her teacher. The view, favoured by Leo Hebraeus (Dialog. de amore, c. III), John Pordage (Metaphysik, III 617 ff.), and Rosenmller, and which commends itself, after the analogy of the Gtagovinda, Boethius, and Dante, and appears also to show itself in the Syr. title of the book, "Wisdom of the Wise," that Shulamith is wisdom personified (cf. also Sol 8:2 with Proverbs 9:2, and Proverbs 8:3; Proverbs 2:6 with Proverbs 4:8), shatters itself against this תלמדני; the fact is rather the reverse: Solomon is wisdom in person, and Shulamith is the wisdom-loving soul,

(Note: Cf. my Das Hohelied unter. u. ausg. (1851), pp. 65-73.)

- for Shulamith wishes to participate in Solomon's wisdom. What a deep view the "Thou wouldest teach me" affords into Shulamith's heart! She knew how much she yet came short of being to him all that a wife should be. But in Jerusalem the bustle of court life and the burden of his regal duties did not permit him to devote himself to her; but in her mother's house, if he were once there, he would instruct her, and she would requite him with her spiced wine and with the juice of the pomegranates.

continued...

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