Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Song of Solomon (Canticles) 8:1
If 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 Psa 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; Hos 8:12; Psa 139:18) - she could do this without putting any restraint on herself for the sake of propriety (cf. the kiss of the wanton harlot, Pro 7:13), and also (גּם) without needing to fear that they who saw it would treat it scornfully (ל בּוּז, as in the reminiscence, Pro 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 (Pro 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 Pro 9:2, and Pro 8:3; Pro 2:6 with Pro 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.
הרקח יין, vinum conditura, is appos. = genitiv. יין הרקח, vinum conditurae (ἀρωματίτης in Dioscorides and Pliny), like יין תּר, Psa 6:5, לחץ מים Kg1 22:27, etc., vid., Philippi's Stat. Const. p. 86. אשׁקך carries forward אשּׁקך in a beautiful play upon words. עסיס designates the juice as pressed out: the Chald. עסּי corresponds to the Heb. דּרך, used of treading the grapes. It is unnecessary to render רמּני as apoc. plur., like מנּי, Psa 45:9 (Ewald, 177a); rimmoni is the name she gives to the pomegranate trees belonging to her, - for it is true that this word, rimmon, can be used in a collective sense (Deu 8:8); but the connection with the possessive suff. excludes this; or by 'asis rimmoni she means the pomegranate must (cf. ῥοΐ́της = vinum e punicis, in Dioscorides and Pliny) belonging to her. Pomegranates are not to be thought of as an erotic symbol;
(Note: Vid., Porphyrius, de Abstin. iv. 16, and Inman in his smutty book, Ancient Faiths, vol. I 1868, according to which the pomegranate is an emblem of "a full womb.")
they are named as something beautiful and precious. "O Ali," says a proverb of Sunna, "eat eagerly only pomegranates (Pers. anâr), for their grains are from Paradise."
(Note: Vid., Fleischer's Catal. Codd. Lips. p. 428.)
Song of Solomon (Canticles) 8:3
Resigning herself now 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:
3 His left hand is under my head,
And his right doth embrace me:
4 I adjure you, ye daughters of Jerusalem,
That ye awake not and disturb not love
Till she please!
Instead of תּהת ל, "underneath," there is here, as usual, תּהת (cf. Sol 8:5). Instead of אם ... ואם in the adjuration, there is here the equivalent מה ... ומה; the interrogative מה, which in the Arab. ma becomes negat., appears here, as at Job 31:1, on the way toward this change of meaning. The per capreas vel per cervas agri is wanting, perhaps because the natural side of love is here broken, and the ἔρως strives up into ἀγάπη. The daughters of Jerusalem must not break in upon this holy love-festival, but leave it to its own course.
Song of Solomon (Canticles) 8:5
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 mit
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 Jer 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, Isa 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 = 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 (Psa 80:3), or passion (Pro 10:12), put into a state of violent commotion; connected with the accus. of the person, it signifies, Zac 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).
The lxx translates well: ἐκεῖ ὠδίνησέ σε ἡ μήτηρ σου, for while the Arab. ḥaḅida means concipere, and its Pi., ḥabbada, is the usual word for gravidam facere, חבּל in the passage before us certainly appears to be
(Note: The Arab. ḥabilat, she has conceived, and is in consequence pregnant, accords in the latter sense with ḥamilat, she bears, i.e., is pregnant, without, however, being, as Hitzig thinks, of a cognate root with it. For ḥamal signifies to carry; הבל, on the contrary, to comprehend and to receive (whence also the cord, figuratively, the tie of love, liaison, as enclosing, embracing, is called ḥabl, הבל), and like the Lat. concipere and suscipere, is used not only in a sexual, but also in an ethical sense, to conceive anger, to take up and cherish sorrow. The Assyr. , corresponding to the Heb. בן, is explained from this Arab. ḥabl, concipere. On the supposition that the Heb. had a word, חבל, of the same meaning as the Arab. ḥabl, then חבּל might mean concipiendo generare; but the Heb. sentence lying before us leads to the interpretation eniti.)
a denom. Pi. in the sense of "to bring forth with sorrow" (חבלי היּלדה). The lxx further translates: ἐκεῖ ὠδίνησέ σε ἡ τεκοῦσά σε, in which the σε is inserted, and is thus, as also by the Syr., Jerome, and Venet., translated, with the obliteration of the finite ילדתך, as if the reading were ילדתּך. But not merely is the name of the mother intentionally changed, it is also carried forward from the labour, eniti, to the completed act of birth.
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, Gen 38:18, or also, as that which is called טבּעת denotes (from טבע, to sink into), on the hand, Jer 22:24, cf. Gen 41:42; Est 3:12, but not on the arm, like a bracelet, Sa2 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., Hag 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.)
Thus, with right, Hitzig finds the thought therein expressed: "Press me close to thy breast, enclose me in thine arms." But it is the first request, and not the second, which is in the form עכל־זרועך, and not על־זרועתיך (שׁימני), which refers to embracing, since the subject is not the relation of person and thing, but of person and person. The signet-ring comes into view as a jewel, which one does not separate from himself; and the first request is to this effect, that he would bear her thus inalienably (the art. is that of the specific idea) on his heart (Exo 28:29); the meaning of the second, that he would take her thus inseparably as a signet-ring on his arm (cf. Hos 11:3 : "I have taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms"), so that she might lie always on his heart, and have him always at her side (cf. Psa 110:5): she wishes to be united and bound to him indissolubly in the affection of love and in the community of life's experience.
The reason for the double request following כּי, abstracted from the individual case, rises to the universality of the fact realized by experience, which specializes itself herein, and celebrates the praise of love; for, assigning a reason for her "set me," she does not say, "my love," nor "thy love," but אהבה, "love" (as also in the address at Sol 7:7). She means love undivided, unfeigned, entire, and not transient, but enduring; thus true and genuine love, such as is real, what the word denotes, which exhausts the conception corresponding to the idea of love.
קנאה, which is here parallel to "love," is the jealousy of love asserting its possession and right of property; the reaction of love against any diminution of its possession, against any reserve in its response, the "self-vindication of angry love."
(Note: Vid., my Prolegomena to Weber's Vom Zorne Gottes (1862), p. 35 ss.)
Love is a passion, i.e., a human affection, powerful and lasting, as it comes to light in "jealousy." Zelus, as defined by Dav. Chytrus, est affectus mixtus ex amore et ira, cum videlicet amans aliquid irascitur illi, a quo laeditur res amata, wherefore here the adjectives עזּה (strong) and קשׁה (hard, inexorable, firm, severe) are respectively assigned to "love" and "jealousy," as at Gen 49:7 to "anger" and "wrath." It is much more remarkable that the energy of love, which, so to say, is the life of life, is compared to the energy of death and Hades; with at least equal right ממּות and משּׁאול (might be used, for love scorns both, outlasts both, triumphs over both (Rom 8:38.; Co1 15:54.). But the text does not speak of surpassing, but of equality; not of love and jealousy that they surpass death and Hades, but that they are equal to it. The point of comparison in both cases is to be obtained from the predicates. עז, powerful, designates the person who, being assailed, cannot be overcome (Num 13:28), and, assailing, cannot be withstood (Jdg 14:18). Death is obviously thought of as the assailer (Jer 9:20), against which nothing can hold its ground, from which nothing can escape, to whose sceptre all must finally yield (vid., Ps 49). Love is like it in this, that it also seizes upon men with irresistible force (Bttcher: "He whom Death assails must die, whom Love assails must love"); and when she has once assailed him, she rests not till she has him wholly under her power; she kills him, as it were, in regard to everything else that is not the object of his love. קשׁה, hard (opposed to רך, Sa2 3:39), σκληρός, designates one on whom no impression is made, who will not yield (Psa 48:4; Psa 19:4), or one whom stern fate has made inwardly stubborn and obtuse (Sa1 1:15). Here the point of comparison is inflexibility; for Sheol, thought of with שׁאל, to ask (vid., under Isa 5:14), is the God-ordained messenger of wrath, who inexorably gathers in all that are on the earth, and holds them fast when once they are swallowed up by him. So the jealousy of love wholly takes possession of the beloved object not only in arrest, but also in safe keeping; she holds her possession firmly, that it cannot be taken from her (Wisd. 2:1), and burns relentlessly and inexorably against any one who does injury to her possession (Pro 6:34 f.). But when Shulamith wishes, in the words, "set me," etc., to be bound to the heart and to the arm of Solomon, has she in the clause assigning a reason the love in view with which she loves, or that with which she is loved? Certainly not the one to the exclusion of the other; but as certainly, first of all, the love with which she wishes to fill, and believes that she does fill, her beloved. If this is so, then with "for strong as death is love," she gives herself up to this love on the condition that it confesses itself willing to live only for her, and to be as if dead for all others; and with "inexorable as hell is jealousy," in such a manner that she takes shelter in the jealousy of this love against the occurrence of any fit of infidelity, since she consents therein to be wholly and completely absorbed by it.
To קנאה, which proceeds from the primary idea of a red glow, there is connected the further description of this love to the sheltering and protecting power of which she gives herself up: "its flames, רשׁפיה, are flames of fire;" its sparkling is the sparkling of fire. The verb רשף signifies, in Syr. and Arab., to creep along, to make short steps; in Heb. and Chald., to sparkle, to flame, which in Samar. is referred to impetuosity. Symmachus translates, after the Samar. (which Hitzig approves of): ἁι ὁρμαὶ αὐτοῦ ὁρμαὶ πύρινοι; the Venet., after Kimchi, ἄνθρακες, for he exchanges רשׁף with the probably non.-cogn. רצפה; others render it all with words which denote the bright glancings of fire. רשׁפּי (so here, according to the Masora; on the contrary, at Psa 76:4, רשׁפּי) are effulgurations; the pred. says that these are not only of a bright shining, but of a fiery nature, which, as they proceed from fire, so also produce fire, for they set on fire and kindle.
(Note: The Phoen. Inscriptions, Citens. xxxvii., xxxviii., show a name for God, רשפי חץ, or merely רשף, which appears to correspond to Ζεὺς Κεραύνιος on the Inscriptions of Larnax (vid., Vogu's Mlanges Archologiques, p. 19). רשפי are thus not the arrows themselves (Grtz), but these are, as it were, lightnings from His bow (Psa 76:4).)
Love, in its flashings up, is like fiery flashes of lightning; in short, it is שׁלהבתיה,
(Note: Thus in the Biblia Rabbinica and P. H. with the note מלהחדא ולא מפיק. Thus by Ben-Asher, who follows the Masora. Cf. Liber Psalmorum Hebr. atque Lat. p. 155, under Psa 118:5; and Kimchi, Wrterb., under אפל and שלהב. Ben-Naphtali, on the other hand, reads as two words, שׁלהבת יהּ. [Except in this word, the recensions of Ben-Asher and Ben-Naphtali differ only "de punctis vocalibus et accentibus." Strack's Prolegomena, p. 28.])
which is thus to be written as one word with ה raphatum, according to the Masora; but in this form of the word יה is also the name of God, and more than a meaningless superlative strengthening of the idea. As להבה is formed from the Kal להב to flame (R. לב, to lick, like להט, R. לט, to twist), so is שׁלהבת, from the Shafel שׁלהב, to cause to flame; this active stem is frequently found, especially in the Aram., and has in the Assyr. almost wholly supplanted the Afel (vid., Schrader in Deut. Morg. Zeit. xxvi. 275). שׁלהבת is thus related primarily to להבה, as inflammatio to (Ger.) Flamme; יה thus presents itself the more naturally to be interpreted as gen. subjecti. Love of a right kind is a flame not kindled and inflamed by man (Job 20:26), but by God - the divinely-influenced free inclination of two souls to each other, and at the same time, as is now further said, Sol 8:7, Sol 8:7, a situation supporting all adversities and assaults, and a pure personal relation conditioned by nothing material. It is a fire-flame which mighty waters (רבּים, great and many, as at Hab 3:15; cf. עזּים, wild, Isa 43:16) cannot extinguish, and streams cannot overflow it (cf. Psa 69:3; Psa 124:4) or sweep it away (cf. Job 14:19; Isa 28:17). Hitzig adopts the latter signification, but the figure of the fire makes the former more natural; no heaping up of adverse circumstances can extinguish true love, as many waters extinguish elemental fire; no earthly power can suppress it by the strength of its assault, as streams drench all they sweep over in their flow - the flame of Jah is inextinguishable.
Nor can this love be bought; any attempt to buy it would be scorned and counted madness. The expressions is like Pro 6:30 f., cf. Num 22:18; Co1 13:3. Regarding הון (from הוּן, (Arab.) han, levem esse), convenience, and that by which life is made comfortable, vid., at Pro 1:13. According to the shepherd-hypothesis, here occurs the expression of the peculiar point of the story of the intercourse between Solomon and Shulamith; she scorns the offers of Solomon; her love is not to be bought, and it already belongs to another. But of offers we read nothing beyond Song Sol 1:11, where, as in the following Sol 8:12, it is manifest that Shulamith is in reality excited in love. Hitzig also remarks under Sol 1:12 : "When the speaker says the fragrance of her nard is connected with the presence of the king, she means that only then does she smell the fragrance of nard, i.e., only his presence awakens in her heart pleasant sensations or sweet feelings." Shulamith manifestly thus speaks, also emphasizing Sol 6:12, the spontaneousness of her relation to Solomon; but Hitzig adds: "These words, Sol 1:12, are certainly spoken by a court lady." But the Song knows only a chorus of the "Daughters of Jerusalem" - that court lady is only a phantom, by means of which Hitzig's ingenuity seeks to prop up the shepherd-hypothesis, the weakness of which his penetration has discerned. As we understand the Song, Sol 8:7 refers to the love with which Shulamith loves, as decidedly as Sol 8:6 to the love with which she is loved. Nothing in all the world is able to separate her from loving the king; it is love to his person, not love called forth by a desire for riches which he disposes of, not even by the splendour of the position which awaited her, but free, responsive love with which she answered free love making its approach to her. The poet here represents Shulamith herself as expressing the idea of love embodied in her. That apple tree, where he awaked first love in her, is a witness of the renewal of their mutual covenant of love; and it is significant that only here, just directly here, where the idea of the whole is expressed more fully, and in a richer manner than at Sol 7:7, is God denoted by His name, and that by His name as revealed in the history of redemption. Hitzig, Ewald, Olshausen, Bttcher, expand this concluding word, for the sake of rhythmic symmetry, to שׁלהבתיה שׁלהבת יהּ its flames are flames of Jah; but a similar conclusion is found at Psa 24:6; Psa 48:7, and elsewhere.
"I would almost close the book," says Herder in his Lied der Lieder (Song of Songs), 1778, "with this divine seal. It is even as good as closed, for what follows appears only as an appended echo." Daniel Sanders (1845) closes it with Sol 8:7, places Sol 8:12 after Sol 1:6, and cuts off Sol 1:8-11, Sol 1:13, Sol 1:14, as not original. Anthologists, like Dpke and Magnus, who treat the Song as the Fragmentists do the Pentateuch, find here their confused medley sanctioned. Umbreit also, 1820, although as for the rest recognising the Song as a compact whole, explains Sol 8:8-14 as a fragment, not belonging to the work itself. Hoelemann, however, in his Krone des Hohenliedes Crown of the Song, 1856 (thus he names the "concluding Act," Sol 8:5-14), believes that there is here represented, not only in Sol 8:6, Sol 8:7, but further also in Sol 8:8-12, the essence of true love - what it is, and how it is won; and then in Sol 8:13 f. he hears the Song come to an end in pure idyllic tones.
We see in Sol 8:8 ff. the continuation of the love story practically idealized and set forth in dramatic figures. There is no inner necessity for this continuance. It shapes itself after that which has happened; and although in all history divine reason and moral ideas realize themselves, yet the material by means of which this is done consists of accidental circumstances and free actions passing thereby into reciprocal action. But Sol 8:8 ff. is the actual continuance of the story on to the completed conclusion, not a mere appendix, which might be wanting without anything being thereby missed. For after the poet has set before us the loving pair as they wander arm in arm through the green pasture-land between Jezreel and Sunem till they reach the environs of the parental home, which reminds them of the commencement of their love relations, he cannot represent them as there turning back, but must present to us still a glimpse of what transpired on the occasion of their visit there. After that first Act of the concluding scene, there is yet wanting a second, to which the first points.
The locality of this scene is Shulamith's parental home. It is she herself who speaks in these words:
8 We have a sister, a little one,
And she has no breasts:
What shall we do with our sister
In the day when she will be sued for?
Between Sol 8:8 and Sol 8:7 is a blank. The figure of the wanderers is followed by the figure of the visitors. But who speaks here? The interchange of the scene permits that Shulamith conclude the one scene and begin the other, as in the first Act; or also that at the same time with the change of scene there is an interchange of persons, as e.g., in the third Act. But if Shulamith speaks, all her words are not by any means included in what is said from Sol 8:8 to Sol 8:10. Since, without doubt, she also speaks in Sol 8:11 f., this whole second figure consists of Shulamith's words, as does also the second of the second Acts; Sol 3:1-5. But there Shulamith's address presents itself as the narrative of an experience, and the narrative dramatically framed in itself is thoroughly penetrated by the I of the speaker; but here, as e.g., Ewald, Heiligst., and Bttch. explain, she would begin with a dialogue with her brothers referable to herself, one that had formerly taken place-that little sister, Ewald remarks under Sol 8:10, stands here now grown up she took notice of that severe word formerly spoken by her brothers, and can now joyfully before all exclaim, taking up the same flowery language, that she is a wall, etc. But that a monologue should begin with a dialogue without any introduction, is an impossibility; in this case the poet ought to have left the expression, "of old my mother's sons said," to be supplemented by the reader or hearer. It is true, at Sol 3:2; Sol 5:3, we have a former address introduced without any formal indication of the fact; but it is the address of the narrator herself. With Sol 8:8 there will thus begin a colloquy arising out of present circumstances. That in this conversation Sol 8:8 appertains to the brothers, is evident. This harsh entweder oder (aut ... aut) is not appropriate as coming from Shulamith's mouth; it is her brothers alone, as Hoelemann rightly remarks, who utter these words, as might have been expected from them in view of Sol 1:6. But does Sol 8:8 belong also to them? There may be two of them, says Hitzig, and the one may in Sol 8:9 reply to the question of the other in Sol 8:8; Shulamith, who has heard their conversation, suddenly interposes with Sol 8:10. But the transition from the first to the second scene is more easily explained if Shulamith proposes the question of Sol 8:8 for consideration. This is not set aside by Hitzig's questions: "Has she to determine in regard to her sister? and has she now for the first time come to do nothing in haste?" For (1) the dramatic figures of the Song follow each other chronologically, but not without blanks; and the poet does not at all require us to regard Sol 8:8 as Shulamith's first words after her entrance into her parental home; (2) but it is altogether seeming for Shulamith, who has now become independent, and who has been raised so high, to throw out this question of loving care for her sister. Besides, from the fact that with Sol 8:8 there commences the representation of a present occurrence, it is proved that the sister here spoken of is not Shulamith herself. If it were Shulamith herself, the words of Sol 8:8, Sol 8:9 would look back to what had previously taken place, which, as we have shown, is impossible. Or does Sol 6:9 require that we should think of Shulamith as having no sister? Certainly not, for so understood, these words would be purposeless. The "only one," then, does not mean the only one numerically, but, as at Pro 4:3, it is emphatic (Hitzig); she is called by Solomon the "only one" of her mother in this sense, that she had not one her equal.
Thus it is Shulamith who here speaks, and she is not the "sister" referred to. The words, "we have a sister ... ," spoken in the family circle, whether regarded as uttered by Shulamith or not, have something strange in them, for one member of a family does not need thus to speak to another. We expect: With regard to our sister, who is as yet little and not of full age, the question arises, What will be done when she has grown to maturity to guard her innocence? Thus the expression would have stood, but the poet separates it into little symmetrical sentences; for poetry present facts in a different style from prose. Hoelem. has on this remarked that the words are not to be translated: we have a little sister, which the order of the words וגו אחות ק would presuppose, Gen 40:20; cf. Sa2 4:4; Sa2 12:2 f.; Isa 26:1; Isa 33:21. "Little" is not immediately connected with "sister," but follows it as an apposition; and this appositional description lays the ground for the question: We may be now without concern; but when she is grown up and will be courted, what then? "Little" refers to age, as at Kg2 5:2; cf. Gen 44:20. The description of the child in the words, "she has no breasts," has neither in itself nor particularly for Oriental feeling anything indecent in it (cf. mammae sororiarunt, Eze 16:7). The ל following מה־נּעשׂה is here not thus purely the dat. commodi, as e.g., Isa 64:3 (to act for some one), but indiff. dat. (what shall we do for her?); but מה is, according to the connection, as at Gen 27:37; Sa1 10:2; Isa 5:4, equivalent to: What conducing to her advantage? Instead of בּיּום, the form בּיום lay syntactically nearer (cf. Exo 6:28); the art. in בּיּום is, as at Ecc 12:3, understood demonst.: that day when she will be spoken for, i.e., will attract the attention of a suitor. בּ after דּבּר may have manifold significations (vid., under Psa 87:3); thus the general signification of "concerning," Sa1 19:3, is modified in the sense of courting a wife, Sa1 25:39. The brothers now take speech in hand, and answer Shulamith's question as to what will have to be done for the future safety of their little sister when the time comes that she shall be sought for:
9 If she be a wall,
We will build upon her a pinnacle of silver;
And if she be a door,
We will block her up with a board of cedar-wood.
The brothers are the nearest guardians and counsellors of the sister, and, particularly in the matter of marriage, have the precedence even of the father and mother, Gen 24:50, Gen 24:55; Gen 34:6-8.. They suppose two cases which stand in contrast to each other, and announce their purpose with reference to each case. Hoelem. here affects a synonymous instead of the antithetic parallelism; for he maintains that אם (ואם) ... אם nowhere denotes a contrast, but, like sive ... sive, essential indifference. But examples such as Deu 18:3 (sive bovem, sive ovem) are not applicable here; for this correl. אם ... אם, denoting essential equality, never begins the antecedents of two principal sentences, but always stands in the component parts of one principal sentence. Wherever ואם ... אם commences two parallel conditional clauses, the parallelism is always, according to the contents of these clauses, either synonymous, Gen 31:50; Amo 9:2-4; Ecc 11:3 (where the first ואם signifies ac si, and the second sive), or antithetic, Num 16:29 f.; Job 36:11 f.; Isa 1:19 f. The contrast between חומה (from חמה, Arab. ḥaman, Modern Syr. chamo, to preserve, protect) and דּלת (from דּלל, to hang loose, of doors, Pro 26:14, which move hither and thither on their hinges) is obvious. A wall stands firm and withstands every assault if it serves its purpose (which is here presupposed, where it is used as a figure of firmness of character). A door, on the contrary, is moveable; and though it be for the present closed (דלת is intentionally used, and not פּתח, vid., Gen 19:6), yet it is so formed that it can be opened again. A maiden inaccessible to seduction is like a wall, and one accessible to it is like a door. In the apodosis, Sol 8:9, the lxx correctly renders טירת by ἐπάλξεις; Jerome, by propugnacula. But it is not necessary to read טירת. The verb טור, cogn. דור, signifies to surround, whence tirah (= Arab. duâr), a round encampment, Gen 25:16, and, generally, a habitation, Psa 69:25; and then also, to range together, whence תּוּר, a rank, row (cf. Arab. thur and daur, which, in the manifoldness of their meanings, are parallel with the French tour), or also tirah, which, Eze 46:23 (vid., Keil), denotes the row or layer of masonry, - in the passage before us, a row of battlements (Ew.), or a crown of the wall (Hitz.), i.e., battlements as a wreath on the summit of a wall. Is she a wall, - i.e., does she firmly and successfully withstand all immoral approaches? - then they will adorn this wall with silver pinnacles (cf. Isa 54:12), i.e., will bestow upon her the high honour which is due to her maidenly purity and firmness; silver is the symbol of holiness, as gold is the symbol of nobility. In the apodosis 9b, על צוּר is not otherwise meant than when used in a military sense of enclosing by means of besieging, but, like Isa 29:3, with the obj.-accus., of that which is pressed against that which is to be excluded; צור here means, forcibly to press against, as סגר, Gen 2:21, to unite by closing up.
ארז לוּח is a board or plank (cf. Eze 27:5, of the double planks of a ship's side) of cedar wood (cf. Zep 2:14, ארזה, cedar wainscot). Cedar wood comes here into view not on account of the beautiful polish which it takes on, but merely because of its hardness and durability. Is she a door, i.e., accessible to seduction? They will enclose this door around with a cedar plank, i.e., watch her in such a manner that no seducer or lover will be able to approach her. By this morally stern but faithful answer, Shulamith is carried back to the period of her own maidenhood, when her brothers, with good intention, dealt severely with her. Looking back to this time, she could joyfully confess:
10 I was a wall,
And my breasts like towers;
Then I became in his eyes
Like one who findeth peace.
In the language of prose, the statement would be: Your conduct is good and wise, as my own example shows; of me also ye thus faithfully took care; and that I met this your solicitude with strenuous self-preservation, has become, to my joy and yours, the happiness of my life. That in this connection not אני חומה, but חומה אני has to be used, is clear: she compares herself with her sister, and the praise she takes to herself she takes to the honour of her brothers. The comparison of her breasts to towers is suggested by the comparison of her person to a wall; Kleuker rightly remarks that here the comparison is not of thing with thing, but of relation with relation: the breasts were those of her person, as the towers were of the wall, which, by virtue of the power of defence which they conceal within themselves, never permit the enemy, whose attention they attract, to approach them. The two substantival clauses, murus et ubera mea instar turrium, have not naturally a retrospective signification, as they would in a historical connection (vid., under Gen 2:10); but they become retrospective by the following "then I became," like Deu 26:5, by the historical tense following, where, however, it is to be remarked that the expression, having in itself no relation to time, which is incapable of being expressed in German, mentions the past not in a way that excludes the present, but as including it. She was a wall, and her breasts like the towers, i.e., all seductions rebounded from her, and ventured not near her awe-inspiring attractions; then (אז, temporal, but at the same time consequent; thereupon, and for this reason, as at Psa 40:8; Jer 22:15, etc.) she became in his (Solomon's) eyes as one who findeth peace. According to the shepherd-hypothesis, she says here: he deemed it good to forbear any further attempts, and to let me remain in peace (Ewald, Hitz., and others). But how is that possible? מצא שׁלום בעיני is a variation of the frequently occurring מצא חן בעיני, which is used especially of a woman gaining the affections of a man, Est 2:17; Deu 24:1; Jer 31:2 f.; and the expression here used, "thus I was in his eyes as one who findeth peace" is only the more circumstantial expression for, "then I found (אז מצאתי) in his eyes peace," which doubtless means more than: I brought it to this, that he left me further unmolested; שׁלום in this case, as syn. of חן, means inward agreement, confidence, friendship, as at Psa 41:10; there it means, as in the salutation of peace and in a hundred other cases, a positive good. And why should she use שׁלום instead of חן, but that she might form a play upon the name which she immediately, Sol 8:11, thereafter utters, שׁלמה, which signifies, Ch1 22:9, "The man of peace." That Shulamith had found shalom (peace) with Shelomoh (Solomon), cannot be intended to mean that uninjured she escaped from him, but that she had entered into a relation to him which seemed to her a state of blessed peace. The delicate description, "in his eyes," is designed to indicate that she appeared to him in the time of her youthful discipline as one finding peace. The כ is כ veritatis, i.e., the comparison of the fact with its idea, Isa 29:2, or of the individual with the general and common, Isa 13:6; Eze 26:10; Zac 14:3. Here the meaning is, that Shulamith appeared to him corresponding to the idea of one finding peace, and thus as worthy to find peace with him. One "finding peace" is one who gains the heart of a man, so that he enters into a relation of esteem and affection for her. This generalization of the idea also opposes the notion of a history of seduction. מוחאת is from the ground-form matsiat, the parallel form to מוצאת, Sa2 18:22. Solomon has won her, not by persuasion or violence; but because she could be no other man's, he entered with her into the marriage covenant of peace (cf. Pro 2:17 with Isa 54:10).
It now lies near, at least rather so than remote, that Shulamith, thinking of her brothers, presents her request before her royal husband:
11 Solomon had a vineyard in Baal-hamon;
He committed the vineyard to the keepers,
That each should bring for its fruit
A thousand in silv.
12 I myself disposed of my own vineyard:
The thousand is thine, Solomon,
And two hundred for the keepers of its fruit!
The words לשׁ היה כּרם are to be translated after כרמוגו, Kg1 21:1, and לידידי ... , Isa 5:1, "Solomon had a vineyard" (cf. Sa1 9:2; Sa2 6:23; Sa2 12:2; Kg2 1:17; Ch1 23:17; Ch1 26:10), not "Solomon has a vineyard," which would have required the words לשׁ כרם, with the omission of היה. I formerly explained, as also Bttcher: a vineyard became his, thus at present is his possession; and thus explaining, one could suppose that it fell to him, on his taking possession of his government, as a component part of his domain; but although in itself לו היה can mean, "this or that has become one's own" (e.g., Lev 21:3), as well as "it became his own," yet here the historical sense is necessarily connected by היה with the נתן foll.: Solomon has had ... , he has given; and since Solomon, after possession the vineyard, would probably also preserve it, Hitzig draws from this the conclusion, that the poet thereby betrays the fact that he lived after the time of Solomon. But these are certainly words which he puts into Shulamith's mouth, and he cannot at least have forgotten that the heroine of his drama is a contemporary of Solomon; and supposing that he had forgotten this for a moment, he must have at least once read over what he had written, and could not have been so blind as to have allowed this היה which had escaped him to stand. We must thus assume that he did not in reality retain the vineyard, which, as Hitzig supposes, if he possessed it, he also "probably" retained, whether he gave it away or exchanged it, or sold it, we know not; but the poet might suppose that Shulamith knew it, since it refers to a piece of land lying not far from her home. For המון בּעל, lxx Βεελαμών, is certainly the same as that mentioned in Judith 8:3, according to which Judith's husband died from sunstroke in Bethulia, and was buried beside his fathers "between Dothaim and Balamoon"
(Note: This is certainly not the Baal-meon (now Man) lying half an hour to the south of Heshbon; there is also, however, a Meon (now Man) on this the west side of Jordan, Nabal's Maon, near to Carmel. Vid., art. "Maon," by Kleuker in Schenkel's Bibl. Lex.)
(probably, as the sound of the word denotes, Belmen, or, more accurately, Belman, as it is also called in Judith 4:4, with which Kleuker in Schenkel's Bibl. Lex., de Bruyn in his Karte, and others, interchange it; and חמּון, Jos 19:28, lying in the tribe of Asher). This Balamoon lay not far from Dothan, and thus not far from Esdrelon; for Dothan lay (cf. Judith 3:10) south of the plain of Jezreel, where it has been discovered, under the name of Tell Dotan, in the midst of a smaller plain which lies embosomed in the hills of the south.
(Note: Vid., Robinson's Physical Geogr. of the Holy Land, p. 113; Morrison's Recovery of Jerusalem (1871), p. 463, etc.)
The ancients, since Aquila, Symm., Targ., Syr., and Jerome, make the name of the place Baal-hamon subservient to their allegorizing interpretation, but only by the aid of soap-bubble-like fancies; e.g., Hengst. makes Baal-hamon designate the world; nothrim [keepers], the nations; the 1000 pieces in silver, the duties comprehended in the ten commandments. Hamon is there understood of a large, noisy crowd. The place may, indeed, have its name from the multitude of its inhabitants, or from an annual market held there, or otherwise from revelry and riot; for, according to Hitzig,
(Note: Cf. also Schwarz' Das heilige Land, p. 37.)
there is no ground for co-ordinating it with names such as Baal-gad and Baal-zephon, in which Baal is the general, and what follows the special name of God. Amon, the Sun-God, specially worshipped in Egyptian Thebes, has the bibl. name אמון, with which, after the sound of the word, accords the name of a place lying, according to Jer. Dema ii. 1, in the region of Tyrus, but no אמון. The reference to the Egypt. Amon Ra, which would direct rather to Baalbec, the Coele-Syrian Heliupolis, is improbable; because the poet would certainly not have introduced into his poem the name of the place where the vineyard lay, if this name did not call forth an idea corresponding to the connection. The Shulamitess, now become Solomon's, in order to support the request she makes to the king, relates an incident of no historical value in itself of the near-lying Sunem (Sulem), situated not far from Baal-hamon to the north, on the farther side of the plain of Jezreel. She belongs to a family whose inheritance consisted in vineyards, and she herself had acted in the capacity of the keeper of a vineyard, Sol 1:6, - so much the less therefore is it to be wondered at that she takes an interest in the vineyard of Baal-hamon, which Solomon had let out to keepers on the condition that they should pay to him for its fruit-harvest the sum of 1000 shekels of silver (shekel is, according to Ges. 120. 4, Anm. 2, to be supplied).
יבא, since we have interpreted היה retrospectively, might also indeed be rendered imperfect. as equivalent to afferebat, or, according to Ewald, 136c, afferre solebat; but since נתן = ἐξέδοτο, Mat 21:33, denotes a gift laying the recipients under an obligation, יבא is used in the sense of יבא (אשׁר) למען; however, למען is not to be supplied (Symm. ἐνέγκη), but יבא in itself signifies afferre debebat (he ought to bring), like יע, Dan 1:5, they should stand (wait upon), Ewald, 136g. Certainly נארים does not mean tenants, but watchers, - the post-bibl. language has חכר, to lease, קבּל, to take on lease, chikuwr, rent, e.g., Meza ix. 2, - but the subject here is a locatio conductio; for the vine-plants of that region are entrusted to the "keepers" for a rent, which they have to pay, not in fruits but in money, as the equivalent of a share of the produce (the ב in בּפר is the ב pretii). Isa 7:23 is usually compared; but there the money value of a particularly valuable portion of a vineyard, consisting of 1000 vines, is given at "1000 silverlings" (1 shekel); while, on the other hand, the 1000 shekels here are the rent for a portion of a vineyard, the extent of which is not mentioned. But that passage in Isaiah contains something explanatory of the one before us, inasmuch as we see from it that a vineyard was divided into portions of a definite number of vines in each. Such a division into mekomoth is also here supposed. For if each "keeper" to whom the vineyard was entrusted had to count 1000 shekels for its produce, then the vineyard was at the same time committed to several keepers, and thus was divided into small sections (Hitzig). It is self-evident that the gain of the produce that remained over after paying the rent fell to the "keepers;" but since the produce varied, and also the price of wine, this gain was not the same every year, and only in general are we to suppose from Sol 8:12, that it yielded on an average about 20 per cent. For the vineyard which Shulamith means in Sol 8:12 is altogether different from that of Baal-hamon. It is of herself she says, Sol 1:6, that as the keeper of a vineyard, exposed to the heat of the day, she was not in a position to take care of her own vineyard. This her own vineyard is not her beloved (Hoelem.), which not only does not harmonize with Sol 1:6 (for she there looks back to the time prior to her elevation), but her own person, as comprehending everything pleasant and lovely which constitutes her personality (4:12-5:1), as is the sum-total of the vines which together form a vineyard.
Of this figurative vineyard she says: לפני שׁלּי כּרמי. This must mean, according to Hitzig, Hoelem., and others, that it was under her protection; but although the idea of affectionate care may, in certain circumstances, be connected with לפני, Gen 17:18; Pro 4:3, yet the phrase: this or that is לפני, wherever it has not merely a local or temporal, but an ethical signification, can mean nothing else than: it stands under my direction, Gen 13:9; Gen 20:15; Gen 47:6; Ch2 14:6; Gen 24:51; Sa1 16:16. Rightly Heiligst., after Ewald: in potestate mea est. Shulamith also has a vineyard, which she is as free to dispose of as Solomon of his at Baal-hamon. It is the totality of her personal and mental endowments. This vineyard has been given over with free and joyful cordiality into Solomon's possession. This vineyard also has keepers (one here sees with what intention the poet has chosen in Sol 8:11 just that word נארים) - to whom Shulamith herself and to whom Solomon also owes it that as a chaste and virtuous maiden she became his possession. These are her brothers, the true keepers and protectors of her innocence. Must these be unrewarded? The full thousands, she says, turning to the king, which like the annual produce of the vineyard of Baal-hamon will thus also be the fruit of my own personal worth, shall belong to none else, O Solomon, than to thee, and two hundred to the keepers of its fruit! If the keepers in Baal-hamon do not unrewarded watch the vineyard, so the king owes thanks to those who so faithfully guarded his Shulamith. The poetry would be reduced to prose if there were found in Shulamith's words a hint that the king should reward her brothers with a gratification of 200 shekels. She makes the case of the vineyard in Baal-hamon a parable of her relation to Solomon on the one hand, and of her relation to her brothers on the other. From מאתים, one may conclude that there were two brothers, thus that the rendering of thanks is thought of as מעשׂר (a tenth part); but so that the 200 are meant not as a tax on the thousand, but as a reward for the faithful rendering up of the thousand.
The king who seems to this point to have silently looked on in inmost sympathy, now, on being addressed by Shulamith, takes speech in hand; he does not expressly refer to her request, but one perceives from his words that he heard it with pleasure. He expresses to her the wish that she would gratify the companions of her youth who were assembled around her, as well as himself, with a song, such as in former times she was wont to sing in these mountains and valleys.
13 O thou (who art) at home in the gardens,
Companions are listening for thy voice;
Let me hear!
We observe that in the rural paradise with which she is surrounded, she finds herself in her element. It is a primary feature of her character which herein comes to view: her longing after quietness and peace, her love for collectedness of mind and for contemplation; her delight in thoughts of the Creator suggested by the vegetable world, and particularly by the manifold soft beauty of flowers; she is again once more in the gardens of her home, but the address, "O thou at home in the gardens!" denotes that wherever she is, these gardens are her home as a fundamental feature of her nature. The חברים are not Solomon's companions, for she has come hither with Solomon alone, leaning on his arm. Also it is indicated in the expression: "are listening for thy voice," that they are such as have not for a long time heard the dear voice which was wont to cheer their hearts. The חבר are the companions of the former shepherdess and keeper of a vineyard, Sol 1:6 f., the playmates of her youth, the friends of her home. With a fine tact the poet does not represent Solomon as saying חבריך nor חברינוּ: the former would be contrary to the closeness of his relation to Shulamith, the latter contrary to the dignity of the king. By חברים there is neither expressed a one-sided reference, nor is a double-sided excluded. That "for thy voice" refers not to her voice as speaking, but as the old good friends wish, as singing, is evident from השׁמיעני in connection with Sol 2:14, where also קולך is to be supplied, and the voice of song is meant. She complies with the request, and thus begins:
14 Flee, my beloved,
And be thou like a gazelle,
Or a young one of the harts,
Upon spicy mountains.
Hitzig supposes that with these words of refusal she bids him away from her, without, however, as "my beloved" shows, meaning them in a bad sense. They would thus, as Renan says, be bantering coquetry. If it is Solomon who makes the request, and thus also he who is addressed here, not the imaginary shepherd violently introduced into this closing scene in spite of the words "(the thousand) is thine, Solomon" (Sol 8:12), then Shulamith's ignoring of his request is scornful, for it would be as unseemly if she sang of her own accord to please her friends, as it would be wilful if she kept silent when requested by her royal husband. So far the Spanish author, Soto Major, is right (1599): jussa et rogata id non debuit nec potuit recusare. Thus with "flee" she begins a song which she sings, as at Sol 2:15 she commences one, in response to a similar request, with "catch us." Hoelem. finds in her present happiness, which fills her more than ever, the thought here expressed that her beloved, if he again went from her for a moment, would yet very speedily return to his longing, waiting bride.
(Note: Similarly Godet: The earth during the present time belongs to the earthly power; only at the end shall the bridegroom fetch the bride, and appear as the heavenly Solomon to thrust out the false and fleshly, and to celebrate the heavenly marriage festival.)
But apart from the circumstance that Shulamith is no longer a bride, but is married, and that the wedding festival is long past, there is not a syllable of that thought in the text; the words must at least have been אלי בּרח, if ברח signified generally to hasten hither, and not to hasten forth. Thus, at least as little as סב, Sol 2:17, without אלי, signifies "turn thyself hither," can this בּרח mean "flee hither." The words of the song thus invite Solomon to disport himself, i.e., give way to frolicsome and aimless mirth on these spicy mountains. As sov lecha is enlarged to sov demeh-lecha, Sol 2:17, for the sake of the added figures (vid., under Sol 2:9), so here berahh-lecha (Gen 27:43) is enlarged to berahh udemeh (udǎmeh) lecha. That "mountains of spices" occurs here instead of "cleft mountains," Sol 2:17, has its reason, as has already been there remarked, and as Hitzig, Hoelem., and others have discovered, in the aim of the poet to conclude the pleasant song of love that has reached perfection and refinement with an absolutely pleasant word.
But with what intention does he call on Shulamith to sing to her beloved this בּרח, which obviously has here not the meaning of escaping away (according to the fundamental meaning, transversum currere), but only, as where it is used of fleeting time, Job 9:25; Job 14:2, the sense of hastening? One might suppose that she whom he has addressed as at home in gardens replied to his request with the invitation to hasten forth among the mountains, - an exercise which gives pleasure to a man. But (1) Solomon, according to Sol 2:16; Sol 6:2 f., is also fond of gardens and flowers; and (2) if he took pleasure in ascending mountains, it doubled his joy, according to Sol 4:8, to share this joy with Shulamith; and (3) we ask, would this closing scene, and along with it the entire series of dramatic pictures, find a satisfactory conclusion, if either Solomon remained and gave no response to Shulamith's call, or if he, as directed, disappeared alone, and left Shulamith by herself among the men who surrounded her? Neither of these two things can have been intended by the poet, who shows himself elsewhere a master in the art of composition. In Sol 2:17 the matter lies otherwise. There the love-relation is as yet in progress, and the abandonment of love to uninterrupted fellowship places a limit to itself. Now, however, Shulamith is married, and the summons is unlimited. It reconciles itself neither with the strength of her love nor with the tenderness of the relation, that she should with so cheerful a spirit give occasion to her husband to leave her alone for an indefinite time. We will thus have to suppose that, when Shulamith sings the song, "Flee, my beloved," she goes forth leaning on Solomon's arm out into the country, or that she presumes that he will not make this flight into the mountains of her native home without her. With this song breaking forth in the joy of love and of life, the poet represents the loving couple as disappearing over the flowery hills, and at the same time the sweet charm of the Song of Songs, leaping gazelle-like from one fragrant scene to another, vanishes away.