Song of Solomon 8:12
My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: you, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Thou, O Solomon . . .—i.e., “Let Solomon keep and enjoy his possessions (his harem of mercenary beauties), which cost so much to obtain and keep; I am happier in the secure love of my one true wife.” The mention of “two hundred to the keepers of the fruit” seems added to show the cost of a polygamous establishment on a great scale.

Song of Solomon 8:12. My vineyard, which is mine — My soul, may every true member of the church say, my heart and life, my time and talents; or, my privileges and advantages, may the church in general say, which are committed to my trust, and for which I must be accountable; are before me — Under my continual care. Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand — Thou, O Christ, must have the honour and glory: thou must receive returns of gratitude, love, and duty for the blessings thou hast bestowed; thou must be served with the produce of the vineyard, and of every plant therein. And those that keep the fruit thereof, two hundred — Those ministers that take pains with thy people to make them fruitful, must have that reward and encouragement that is due to them, 1 Corinthians 9:7. They that give Christ his due, will also give ministers theirs; yet without encroaching on Christ’s. It may be observed here, that the Hebrew of this verse will admit of a different translation, thus; My vineyard, which before brought me a thousand pieces, is now thine, O Solomon, and there are two hundred pieces for those who look after the fruit thereof. They who adopt this translation suppose that the occasion of writing this book was taken from Solomon’s marriage of a beautiful person called Shulamith, (Song of Solomon 6:13,) and generally supposed to be Pharaoh’s daughter: and that in her single state she possessed a vineyard, which upon her marriage became Solomon’s; because, though among the Jews it was usual for the husband to endow his spouse with a sum of money at their marriage, yet the bride also often brought a portion to her husband, as appears from Tob 10:10. Now, supposing it to be a fact, that Solomon’s marriage gave occasion to this book, and that what has now been stated is the literal meaning of this verse; in the application of it to Christ and his church, we must say, as Solomon’s spouse gave her vineyard, or her whole property, to him on her marriage, so the church, the spouse of Christ, upon her marriage to him, gives him, not only herself, but her all, and retains a propriety or exclusive right in nothing. She lays herself and her all at his feet. With her heavenly husband’s permission, however, she takes care to provide for those who are employed in cultivating and keeping the vineyard. For while Solomon has the vineyard, two hundred pieces, arising from the produce of it, are reserved for those who look after the fruit thereof. For the labourer, said Jesus, is worthy of his hire: and he that is taught in the word must communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.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.

12. "mine" by grant of the true Solomon. Not merely "let out to keepers," as in the Jewish dispensation of works, but "mine" by grace. This is "before me," that is, in my power [Maurer]. But though no longer under constraint of "keeping" the law as a mere letter and covenant of works, love to Jesus Christ will constrain her the more freely to render all to Solomon (Ro 8:2-4; 1Co 6:20; Ga 5:13; 1Pe 2:16), after having paid what justice and His will require should be paid to others (1Co 7:29-31; 9:14). "Before me" may also mean "I will never lose sight of it" (contrast So 1:6) [Moody Stuart]. She will not keep it for herself, though so freely given to her, but for His use and glory (Lu 19:13; Ro 6:15; 14:7-9; 1Co 12:7). Or the "two hundred" may mean a double tithe (two-tenths of the whole paid back by Jesus Christ) as the reward of grace for our surrender of all (the thousand) to Him (Ga 6:7; Heb 6:10); then she and "those that keep" are the same [Adelaide Newton]. But Jesus Christ pays back not merely two tithes, but His all for our all (1Co 3:21-23). My vineyard; my church, which is oft compared to a vineyard, and is here opposed to Solomon’s vineyard. It is much doubted and disputed whether this verse be spoken by Christ or by the spouse; the first clause seems to agree best to the former, and the following clause to the latter. Possibly the difficulty may be reconciled by ascribing the first clause to Christ, and the latter to the spouse; such interlocutions being familiar in this book, and in other writings of this kind. Which is mine: this repetition is not idle, but very emphatical, to show that Christ had a more eminent and special title to his vineyard, the church, than Solomon had to his vineyard, because it was purchased not by his money, but by his blood, and because it was his, not only for the short time of this present life, as Solomon’s was, but to all eternity.

Is before me; is under my own eye and care, and is not wholly committed to the care and management of others, as Solomon’s was: I the Lord do keep it night and day, as we read, Isaiah 27:3. I am with it to the end of the world, Matthew 28:20.

Thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand: these are the church’s return to Christ, who is here called Solomon, as he was Song of Solomon 3:9,11, as elsewhere he is called David. Dost thou, O Christ, keep thine own vineyard, which Solomon did not? Then surely it is meet that thou shouldst receive, and thou shalt receive, as large a revenue from thy vineyard as he did from his.

Those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred; though the chief revenue belongeth and is justly given to thee, yet thy ministers who serve thee in thy vineyard shall have, and are allowed by thee to receive, some encouragement for their service. See 1 Corinthians 9:7. My vineyard, which is mine, is before me,.... These are either the words of Christ, asserting and confirming his right and property in his vineyard, the church; and which he distinguishes from and prefers to all others; and which being said to be before him denotes his exact knowledge of every vine in it, not a plant escaping his watchful eye; his presence in it, his care of it, the delight and complacency he has therein: or else the words of the church, expressing her care, watchfulness, and diligence in the vineyard, and her concern for the welfare of the several vines and plants in it; see Sol 1:6; And certain it is that the next clause is spoken by her:

thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand; a thousand pieces or shekels of silver, as before: the church is willing Christ should have all he desires and demands, his whole due and full revenue of glory from his people; for he is meant, and not Solomon literally, as many Jewish writers (h) acknowledge. And the church being now in his presence, and using familiarity with him, thus addresses him,

and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred; by which may be meant an honourable maintenance for themselves and families, and much esteem and respect among the people to whom they minister; this is the double honour in 1 Timothy 5:17. Christ has the greatest share, as in reason he should, being the proprietor of the vineyard, and having the chief care and oversight of it, and gives it its increase: however, faithful ministers have their reward, which lies greatly in the conversion of sinners, and edification of saints; for that is their joy, and crown of rejoicing; and in eternal happiness they shall enjoy hereafter, 1 Thessalonians 2:19.

(h) Shir Hashirim Rabba, & Alshech in loc. R. Abendamae Not. in Miclol Yophi in Psal. lxxii. 20.

My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. My vineyard, which is mine] This is an emphatic expression for my vineyard, in contrast to Solomon’s, and also as being her own exclusive possession.

is before me] is still in my possession, neither given away nor sold (Oettli), and is sufficiently guarded by me.

thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred] More literally, the thousand be to thee, O Solomon, and two hundred to those keeping (or watching) the fruit. The meaning seems to be, ‘O Solomon, you may keep the income of your vineyard, and the keepers may have their reward for their guardianship, but my vineyard is beyond your reach, and I have no need that my brothers or any others should guard it.After Solomon has thus called to remembrance the commencement of their love-relation, which receives again a special consecration by the reference to Shulamith's parental home, and to her mother, Shulamith answers with a request to preserve for her this love.

6 Place me as a signet-ring on thy heart,

   As a signet-ring on thine arm!

   For strong as death is love;

   Inexorable as hell is jealousy:

   Its flames are flames of fire,

   A flame of Jah.

7 Mighty waters are unable to quench such love,

   And rivers cannot overflow it.

   If a man would give

   All the wealth of his house for love, -

   He would only be contemned.

The signet-ring, which is called חותם (חתם, to impress), was carried either by a string on the breast, Genesis 38:18, or also, as that which is called טבּעת denotes (from טבע, to sink into), on the hand, Jeremiah 22:24, cf. Genesis 41:42; Esther 3:12, but not on the arm, like a bracelet, 2 Samuel 1:10; and since it is certainly permissible to say "hand" for "finger," but not "arm" for "hand," so we may not refer "on thine arm" to the figure if the signet-ring, as if Shulamith had said, as the poet might also introduce her as saying: Make me like a signet-ring (כּחותם) on thy breast; make me like a signet-ring "on thy hand," or "on thy right hand." The words, "set me on thy heart," and "(set me) on thine arm," must thus also, without regard to "as a signet-ring," express independent thoughts, although שׂימני is chosen (vid., Haggai 2:23) instead of קחני, in view of the comparison.

(Note: Of the copy of the Tra, which was to be the king's vade-mecum, it is said, Sanhedrin 21b: עושה אותה כמין קמיע ותולה בזרוע, but also there the amulet is thought of not as fastened to the finger, but as wound round the arm.)

continued...

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