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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Song of Solomon (Canticles) Chapter 4

Song of Solomon (Canticles)

sol 4:0

The king in a lyric song of five stanzas commends the beauty of the bride:

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:1

sol 4:1

Thou hast doves' eyes ... - Thine eyes are doves behind thy veil. So also in Sol 4:3; Sol 6:7; Isa 47:2, "veil" is better than "locks."

That appear from ... - Or, "that couch upon Mount Gilead." The point of comparison seems to be the multitudinousness of the flocks seen browsing on the verdant slopes of the rich pasture-lands Num 32:1; Mic 7:14.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:2

sol 4:2

Whereof ... - Or, "all of them are equal pairs, and none is bereft among them," i. e., none has lost her mate. The points of comparison in this simile are of course brilliant whiteness, regularity, and completeness of number.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:3

sol 4:3

Thy speech is comely - Perhaps, "thy mouth," i. e., the organ of speech.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:4

sol 4:4

The "tower of David" may be that mentioned in Neh 3:25-27; Mic 4:8. For the custom of hanging shields and other weapons in and upon buildings suited for the purpose, see Eze 27:10-11.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:7

sol 4:7

Section 4:7-5:1: The king meeting the bride in the evening of the same day, expresses once more his love and admiration in the sweetest and tenderest terms and figures. He calls her now "bride" (spouse, Sol 4:8) for the first time, to mark it as the hour of their espousals, and "sister-bride" (spouse, Sol 4:9-10, Sol 4:12; Sol 5:1), to express the likeness of thought and disposition which henceforth unites them. At the same time he invites her to leave for his sake her birthplace and its mountain neighborhood, and live henceforth for him alone.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:8

sol 4:8

The order and collocation of words in the Hebrew is grand and significant. With me from Lebanon, O bride, with me from Lebanon thou shalt come, shalt look around (or wander forth) from the height (literally "head") of Amana, from the height of Shenir and Hermon, from dens of lions, from mountain-haunts of leopards. It is evidently a solemn invitation from the king in the sense of Psa 45:10-11. Four peaks in the same mountain-system are here named as a poetical periphrasis for northern Palestine, the region in which is situated the native home of the bride.

(1) Amana (or Abana, Kg2 5:12), that part of the Anti-libanus which overlooks Damascus.

(2) Shenir or Senir, another peak of the same range (according to Deu 3:9, the Amorite name for Hermon, but spoken of here and in Ch1 5:23 as distinct from it).

(3) Hermon, the celebrated mountain which forms the culminating point of the Anti-libanus, on the northeastern border of the holy land.

(4) Lebanon, properly the western range overlooking the Mediterranean, but here used as a common designation for the whole mountain system.

Leopards are still not unfrequently seen there, but the lion has long since disappeared.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:9

sol 4:9

The similes employed refer to the graces of adornment, speech, and gesture, as expressions of inward character and sentiment.

Sol 4:9

With one of thine eyes - Rather, with one look of thine.

Sol 4:11

Honeycomb - literally, Thy lips distill a dropping (of pure honey). Compare the marginal references.

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:12

sol 4:12

The loveliness and purity of the bride are now set forth under the image of a paradise or garden fast barred against intruders, filled with rarest plants of excellent fragrance, and watered by abundant streams. Compare Pro 5:15-20.

Sol 4:12

A fountain sealed - i. e., A well-spring covered with a stone Gen 29:3, and sealed with "the king's own signet" (Dan 6:17; compare Mat 27:66).

Sol 4:13

Orchard - This is the renderlng here and in Ecc 2:5 of "pardes" (see Neh 2:8 note). The pomegranate was for the Jews a sacred fruit, and a characteristic product of the land of promise (compare Exo 28:33-34; Num 20:5; Deu 8:8; Kg1 7:18, Kg1 7:20). It is frequently mentioned in the Song, and always in connection with the bride. It abounds to this day in the ravines of the Lebanon.

Camphire - Cyprus. See Sol 1:14 note.

Sol 4:13-15

Seven kinds of spices (some of them with Indian names, e. g. aloes, spikenard, saffron) are enumerated as found in this symbolic garden. They are for the most part pure exotics which have formed for countless ages articles of commerce in the East, and were brought at that time in Solomon's ships from southern Arabia, the great Indian Peninsula, and perhaps the islands of the Indian Archipelago. The picture here is best regarded as a purely ideal one, having no corresponding reality but in the bride herself. The beauties and attractions of both north and south - of Lebanon with its streams of sparkling water and fresh mountain air, of Engedi with its tropical climate and henna plantations, of the spice-groves of Arabia Felix, and of the rarest products of the distant mysterious Ophir - all combine to furnish one glorious representation, "Thou art all fair!"

Song of Solomon (Canticles) 4:16

sol 4:16

The bride's brief reply, declaring her affection for the king and willingness to belong to him.

Next: Song of Solomon (Canticles) Chapter 5