Song of Solomon 8:11
Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard to keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
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(11, 12) Solomon had a vineyard . . .—Here the poet repeats the sentiment of Song of Solomon 6:8-9—the contrast of his love for one chosen bride with the state of feeling and morality fostered by polygamy. But while in the former passage the contrast lay in number only, here it lies also in the value which comes to be set on the possession. Any one member of the harem of Solomon is no dearer to him than one of his many vineyards, which has to be cultivated by hirelings (perhaps with allusion to the eunuchs who guard the seraglio), and is valued only for the return it yields. But the one wedded wife is a vineyard tended by the owner, loved for its own sake as well as valued. A certain obscurity arises from the abrupt transition from simile to metaphor. Long similes, so common in classical poetry, are almost unknown in that of the Hebrews. Complete, the simile would have run, “As Solomon, who possesses so many vineyards, does not keep any one, even the choicest, in his own hands, but entrusts it to keepers and only enjoys an annual rent, so, with such a large and costly establishment of wives, he has none that is to him what my one, my sole possession, is to me.” But after the first member of it in Song of Solomon 8:11, he breaks abruptly into metaphor, so much more natural to him, “My vineyard,” &c. For the figure comp. Song of Solomon 4:12-13.

Baal-hamon.—Many are the conjectures hazarded as to the locality of this place. It has been identified (1) with Baal-gad, or Heliopolis (Rosenmüller); (2) with Hammon, a place in the tribe of Asher (Joshua 19:28, Ewald); (3) with Balamo (LXX. Βεελαμων), a place mentioned in the Book of Judith, Song of Solomon 8:3, in connection with Dothaim, which (if the same as Dothan) has possibly been discovered to the south of the valley of Esdraelon.—Recovery of Jerusalem, p. 463 (1871). (Comp. Judith 4:10; Judith 3:9; Meier, Hitzig, &c) But no identification is necessary. If the poet had any definite place in his mind he merely used it for the play on words (Baal-hamon=lord of multitude). The correct translation is “a vineyard was to Solomon as lord of a multitude.” The particle be often has this force. Exodus 6:3 : “I appeared as God Almighty.” Comp. Proverbs 3:26; Isaiah 40:10; 1Chronicles 9:33, &c. We further note that Baal, as lord with us, often means husband, and Baal-hamon has a covert allusion to the polygamy of the king.

A thousand pieces of silver.—Supply shekels. The substantives denoting weight, measure, or time are frequently omitted (Genesis 20:16). (Comp. Isaiah 7:23 : a thousand silverlings, whence we see that it was customary to portion off vineyards into sections containing a certain number of vines.) For worth of shekel, see Genesis 23:15.

Song of Solomon 8:11. Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon — A place, according to Aben-ezra, not far from Jerusalem, where many persons had vineyards. He let out the vineyard unto keepers — To farmers or tenants: to how many is not said; but the text supposes to several. Every one for the fruit was to bring a thousand of silver — That is, shekels, supposed to be in value about two shillings and four pence halfpenny each: as much as to say, it brought him a vast revenue yearly. The words imply the great extent of the vineyard, which required so many keepers, and its singular fertility, which afforded so great a rent. Thus Christ, typified by Solomon, had a church in a very fruitful place, (Isaiah 5:1,) under the means of grace. He appointed ministers to watch over, defend, and cultivate it; to dispense the word and administer the ordinances of God for the edification of its members. And each minister was to endeavour to the utmost of his power to promote the fruits of righteousness in every individual, to the honour and glory of the great proprietor of the whole. See notes on Isaiah 5:1-7; and Matthew 21:33; Matthew 21:43.8:8-12 The church pleads for the Gentiles, who then had not the word of God, nor the means of grace. Those who are brought to Christ themselves, should contrive what they may do to help others to him. Babes in Christ are always seen among Christians, and the welfare of their weak brethren is an object of continual prayer with the stronger believers. If the beginning of this work were likened to a wall built upon Him the precious Foundation and Corner-stone, then the Gentile church would become as a palace for the great King, built of solid silver. If the first preaching of the gospel were as the making a door through the wall of partition, that door should be lasting, as cased with boards of durable cedar. She shall be carefully and effectually protected, enclosed so as to receive no damage. The church is full of care for those yet uncalled. Christ says, I will do all that is necessary to be done for them. See with what satisfaction we should look back upon the times and seasons, when we were in his eyes as those that find favour. Our hearts are our vineyards, which we must keep with all diligence. To Christ, and to his praise, all our fruits must be dedicated. All that work for Christ, work for themselves, and shall be unspeakable gainers by it.She next turns to the king, and commends her brothers to his favorable regard by means of another parable. Solomon owns a vineyard in Baal-hamon (possibly Baalbak, or identical with Amana (Conder)), situated in the warm and fertile plains of Coele-Syria, overshadowed by the heights of Lebanon Sol 4:8. This vineyard he has let out to tenants etc.

The bride also has a vineyard of her own Sol 1:6, her beauty and virtue faithfully guarded by these same brothers in time past. This vineyard now belongs to Solomon. Let him have "the thousand" which is his due - she is indeed herself henceforth entirely his - but let the faithful keepers have their meed as well. At least two hundred silverlings should be theirs - a double tithe of royal praise and honor.

11. The joint Church speaks of Jesus Christ's vineyard. Transference of it from the Jews, who rendered not the fruits, as is implied by the silence respecting any, to the Gentiles (Mt 21:33-43).

Baal-hamon—equivalent to the owner of a multitude; so Israel in Solomon's day (1Ki 4:20); so Isa 5:1, "a very fruitful hill" abounding in privileges, as in numbers.

thousand pieces—namely, silverlings, or shekels. The vineyard had a thousand vines probably; a vine at a silverling (Isa 7:23), referring to this passage.

Baal-hamon; a place not far from Jerusalem, where Solomon had, as it seems, a noble vineyard.

Every one was to bring a thousand pieces of silver; whereby he signifies both the vast extent of the vineyard, which required so many keepers, and its singular fertility, which afforded so great a rent. Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon,.... The little sister, or Gentile church, goes on to give an account of the success of the Gospel, the planting of churches, and the establishment of the interest of Christ in the Gentile world, together with the advantages that accrued to Christ from it; for not Solomon literally, but a greater than he, is here, Christ, the antitype of him, the Prince of peace; See Gill on Sol 3:7. By the "vineyard" is meant the church, especially under the New Testament dispensation; so called, because separated from the world by sovereign grace; planted with precious and fruitful plants, which Christ has a property in, by his Father's gift and his own purchase; and therefore receives of the fruit of it; takes delight and pleasure to walk in it; and takes care to keep it in order, and to protect and preserve it: this is said to be at Baalhamon; perhaps the same with Baalgad, the names signifying much the same, and where Solomon might have a vineyard, Joshua 11:17; the word signifies "the master", or "lord of a multitude" (f); the Gentile world, consisting of a multitude of nations; and in which were many churches, and consisting of many persons;

he let out the vineyard unto keepers; to his apostles, and to ministers of the Gospel in succeeding times; and who have their employment in it; some to plant, others to water; some to prune, to reprove and correct for bad principles and practices, and others to support and uphold weak believers; and others to defend truth, and preserve the church from innovation in doctrine and worship: the "letting" it out to these agrees with the parables in Matthew 20:1; where there seems to be an allusion to this passage. Christ is the proprietor of the vineyard, and the principal vinedresser; yet he makes use of his ministers to take the care of it, watch and keep it in order; for which purpose he lets, or "gives" (g), it to them, as the word is, for he makes them in some sense owners; and they have an interest in the churches, and their life and comfort, greatly lie in the fruitfulness and well being of them; the vines are called "ours", Sol 2:15;

everyone for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver; or shekels, amounting to about an hundred and fifty pounds; which shows the fruitfulness of the vineyard, that its produce should be worth so much; and the great usefulness of the Gospel ministry, in bringing souls to Christ; the fruit of his labour is as dear to him as pieces of silver, Luke 15:8. Christ's ministers are his rent gatherers, and the collectors of his fruit, John 15:16; and though they have different talents and success, yet, being honest and faithful, the meanest are reckoned to bring in the same as others, or what make for Christ's delight, pleasure, and glory; as will appear when the reckoning day comes, and an account will be given in, Matthew 25:19.

(f) "in ea quae habet populos", V. L. "in domino multitudinis", Piscator. (g) Sept. "dedit", Marckius, Michaelis.

{h} Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard to keepers; every one for the fruit of it was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.

(h) This is the vineyard of the Lord hired out, Mt 21:33.

11. Following up the same train of thought, that love could not be bought, she speaks of Solomon as a vineyard proprietor of exceptional wealth, who, as she implies, had attempted to add her to his possessions. He had failed in this, for her vineyard, the only wealth she has, viz. her person and her love, are in her own power, and Solomon will have to be content with the material riches he possesses. Some think that these verses are spoken by the bridegroom, but that is hardly so natural as that the bride, who has just been recalling her victory over Solomon, should continue her reminiscences.

Solomon had a vineyard] The meaning of this sentence might be expressed with or without the verb hâyâh. The verb being used here, some insist that Solomon is thereby thrust away back into the past, and cannot therefore be an actor in the book. But that is not necessary; cp. Isaiah 5:1, where the verb in the past tense is used of a vineyard still in its owner’s possession. The effect of the verb there is to shew that the possession of the vineyard extends over some considerable time. It involves a retrospect. That would seem to be the case here also. The bride is looking back over her past. She has just been speaking slightingly both of her brothers’ watchfulness and of Solomon’s wealth. If we might suppose that her brothers were the keepers of the king’s vineyard at Baal-hamon, then it would be very natural that her thoughts should turn at this point to the vineyard in which Solomon’s wealth and her brothers’ care as guardians were both exhibited.

at Baal-hamon] Oettli, following Rosenmüller, thinks this place is identical with Belamon or Balamon in Jdt 8:3, which, he says, was not far from Shunem, Dothan, and the plain of Esdraelon. If the keepers are the Shulammite’s brothers, Baal-hamon would naturally be in the neighbourhood of Shunem.

he let out] This is simply he gave, without any indication that it was rented; he gave it in charge to keepers.

every one … was to bring] Better, as Budde excellently translates it, anyone would gain 1000 shekels by its fruits, i.e. anyone who might sell the fruit would get 1000 shekels for it. Isaiah 7:23 is not parallel, since the price there mentioned is not the value of the produce as here, but the price of the vineyard, which would be sold for as many silver shekels as there were vines.5a Who is this coming up out of the wilderness,

     Leaning on her beloved?

The third Acts; Sol 3:6, began with a similar question to that with which the sixth here commences. The former closed the description of the growth of the love-relation, the latter closes that of the consummated love-relation. Instead of "out of the wilderness," the lxx has "clothed in white" (λελευκανθισμένη); the translator has gathered mitchauweret from the illegible consonants of his MS before him. On the contrary, he translates מתחוּרת correctly by ἐπιστηριζομένη (Symm. ἐπερειδομένη, Venet. κεκμηκυῖα ἐπί, wearily supporting herself on ...), while Jerome renders it unsuitably by deliciis affluens, interchanging the word with מתפּנּקת. But התרפּק, common to the Heb. with the Arab. and Aethiop., signifies to support oneself, from רפק, sublevare (French, soulager), Arab. rafaḳa, rafuḳa, to be helpful, serviceable, compliant, irtafaḳa, to support oneself on the elbow, or (with the elbow) on a pillow (cf. rafîk, fellow-traveller, rufḳa, a company of fellow-travellers, from the primary idea of mutually supporting or being helpful to each other); Aethiop. rafaḳa, to encamp for the purpose of taking food, ἀνακλίνεσθαι (cf. John 13:23). That Shulamith leant on her beloved, arose not merely from her weariness, with the view of supplementing her own weakness from his fulness of strength, but also from the ardour of the love which gives to the happy and proud Solomon, raised above all fears, the feeling of his having her in absolute possession. The road brings the loving couple near to the apple tree over against Shulamith's parental home, which had been the witness of the beginning of their love.

5b Under the apple tree I waked thy love:

     There thy mother travailed with thee;

     There travailed she that bare thee.

The words, "under the apple tree I waked thee," עוררתּיך, might be regarded as those of Shulamith to Solomon: here, under this apple tree, where Solomon met with her, she won his first love; for the words cannot mean that she wakened him from sleep under the apple tree, since עורר has nowhere the meaning of הקיץ and העיר here given to it by Hitzig, but only that of "to stir, to stir up, to arouse;" and only when sleep or a sleepy condition is the subject, does it mean "to shake out of sleep, to rouse up" (vid., under Sol 2:7). But it is impossible that "there" can be used by Shulamith even in the sense of the shepherd hypothesis; for the pair of lovers do not wander to the parental home of the lover, but of his beloved. We must then here altogether change the punctuation of the text, and throughout restore the fem. suffix forms as those originally used: עוררתּיך, חבּלתך אמּך,

(Note: חבּלתך, penult. accented, and Lamed with Pathach in P. This is certainly right. Michlol 33a adduces merely ילדתך of the verse as having Kametz, on account of the pause, and had thus in view חבּ, with the Pathach under Lamed. But P. has also יל, with Pathach under Daleth, and so also has H, with the remark בּ פתחין (viz., here and Jeremiah 22:26). The Biblia Rabbinica 1526 and 1615 have also the same pointing, Pathach under Daleth. In the printed list of words having Pathach in pause, this word is certainly not found. But it is found in the MS list of the Ochla veochla, at Halle.)

and ילדתך (cf. שׁו, Isaiah 47:10), in which we follow the example of the Syr. The allegorizing interpreters also meet only with trouble in regarding the words as those of Shulamith to Solomon. If התפיח were an emblem of the Mount of Olives, which, being wonderfully divided, gives back Israel's dead (Targ.), or an emblem of Sinai (Rashi), in both cases the words are more appropriately regarded as spoken to Shulamith than by her. Aben-Ezra correctly reads them as the words of Shulamith to Solomon, for he thinks on prayers, which are like golden apples in silver bowls; Hahn, for he understands by the apple tree, Canaan, where with sorrow his people brought him forth as their king; Hengstenberg, rising up to a remote-lying comparison, says, "the mother of the heavenly Solomon is at the same time the mother of Shulamith." Hoelemann thinks on Sur. 19:32 f., according to which 'Isa, Miriam's son, was born under a palm tree; but he is not able to answer the question, What now is the meaning here of the apple tree as Solomon's birthplace? If it were indeed to be interpreted allegorically, then by the apple tree we would rather understand the "tree of knowledge" of Paradise, of which Aquila, followed by Jerome, with his ἐκεῖ διεφθάρη, appears to think, - a view which recently Godet approves of;

(Note: Others, e.g., Bruno von Asti († 1123) and the Waldensian Exposition, edited by Herzog in the Zeit. fr hist. Theol. 1861: malum equals crux dominica. Th. Harms (1870) quotes Sol 2:3, and remarks: The church brings forth her children under the apple tree, Christ. Into such absurdities, in violation of the meaning of the words, do the allegorizing interpreters wander.)

there Shulamith, i.e., poor humanity, awakened the compassionate love of the heavenly Solomon, who then gave her, as a pledge of this love, the Protevangelium, and in the neighbourhood of this apple tree, i.e., on the ground and soil of humanity fallen, but yet destined to be saved, Shulamith's mother, i.e., the pre-Christian O.T. church, brought forth the Saviour from itself, who in love raised Shulamith from the depths to regal honour. But the Song of Songs does not anywhere set before us the task of extracting from it by an allegorizing process such far-fetched thoughts. If the masc. suff. is changed into the fem., we have a conversation perfectly corresponding to the situation. Solomon reminds Shulamith by that memorable apple tree of the time when he kindled within her the fire of first love; עורר elsewhere signifies energy (Psalm 80:3), or passion (Proverbs 10:12), put into a state of violent commotion; connected with the accus. of the person, it signifies, Zechariah 9:13, excited in a warlike manner; here, placed in a state of pleasant excitement of love that has not yet attained its object. Of how many references to contrasted affections the reflex. התע is capable, is seen from Job 17:8; Job 31:29; why not thus also עורר?

With שׁמּה Solomon's words are continued, but not in such a way as that what follows also took place under the apple tree. For Shulamith is not the child of Beduins, who in that case might even have been born under an apple tree. Among the Beduins, a maiden accidentally born at the watering-place (menhîl), on the way (rahîl), in the dew (ṭall) or snow (thelg), is called from that circumstance Munêhil, Ruhêla, Talla, or Thelga.

(Note: Vid., Wetstein's Inschriften (1864), p. 336.)

The birthplace of her love is not also the birthplace of her life. As התפוח points to the apple tree to which their way led them, so שׁמה points to the end of their way, the parental home lying near by (Hitzig).


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