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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 2



Verses 1-17

1. She compares herself to a simple wild flower, the crocus (RM) of Sharon. The plain, which extended from Joppa to Cæsarea, was proverbial for its flowers (Isaiah 35:2), and travellers continue to revert to this feature: 'We constantly had reason to admire the faint harmonious colouring of the wild flowers on the untilled plain. Cæsarea was surrounded by fields of the yellow marigold. Other flowers were also conspicuous—the red pheasant's eye, in some cases as big as a poppy; blue pimpernels, moon-daisies, the lovely phlox, gladioles, and high hollyhocks.'

2. He will hot suffer her to depreciate her own value: compared with other women she is a lily among thorns (Proverbs 31:29). The Huleh lily, in the north of the Holy Land, grows in the midst of thorns, which lacerate the hands of the flower-gatherers. The soil near Bethlehem, in the S., is enamelled with lilies and covered almost everywhere with dwarf thorns.

3-7. In this strife of mutual compliments she now likens him to the beautiful, flowering, fruit-bearing apple tree, which gives a welcome shade, gratifies the sense of taste, and is to Orientals a symbol of love.

4. He has brought her to a 'house of wine' (RM), a place of feasting and enjoyment, where the banner floating over them was not merely inscribed with the word Love, but was Love, itself. The entire description is figurative, and if the language were not sufficient to indicate this we should be driven to the conclusion by the fact that it was not considered decorous for women to be present at banquets (Esther 1:12; Daniel 5:10, Daniel 5:23). In Egypt the house where a marriage-festival is in progress is marked by rows of flags and streamers stretched across the street.

5. She begs her friends to sustain her with cakes of pressed raisins (RV), such as were given to those who were fainting for hunger (1 Samuel 25:18; 1 Samuel 30:12; 2 Samuel 6:19; Hosea 3:1).

7. And they are to leave her and her beloved for the present undisturbed by the festal dances and songs. The request is repeated Song of Solomon 3:5; Song of Solomon 8:4, and on each occasion is evidently meant to mark one of the main divisions of the poem. The adjuration, by the gazelles (RM), and by the hinds of the field, is suggested by the beauty and the timidity of those graceful creatures.

Verses 8-17

A Visit and an Invitation

8-13 After an interval she relates one of his visits to her home. He comes swiftly and easily; hills and mountains are no obstacle. He stands behind the wall of her mother's house, and she gazes at him through the lattice, for she has seen his approach from afar. The unglazed, latticed windows of an Oriental house admits air and a softened light, allow those within to see out, and prevent their being observed from outside.

10. He would have her accompany him to the open country.

11. It is the right season. The winter and the rains are over, for in that climate there is a cloudless sky from the beginning of May to the end of October.

12. It is the time of flowers: 'Everywhere this day the earth was beautifully green, and carpeted with flowers. The air was fresh and balmy and laden with the sweet scents of spring... The sky was so blue, the mountains and plains looked so beautiful, the birds, insects, the wild flowers, the fresh balmy breeze, the sweet smells, and gentle sun, the black tents, all combined to make one glad to be alive.' 'Come here in spring, O traveller!' Lady Butler says, 'and not in the arid, dusty, burnt-up autumn.'

13. The early figs are growing spicy; the vines are all blossom and fragrance. It is the season when a young man's mind turns lightly to thoughts of love. Even in our cold England the poet sings—

'Twas when the spousal time of May

Hangs all the hedge with bridal wreaths,

And air's so sweet the bosom gay

Gives thanks for every breath it breathes;

When like to like is gladly moved,

And each thing joins in Spring's refrain,

“Let those love now who never loved;

Let those who have loved love again.”'

14. 15. He begs her to lay aside her coyness, for she is concealing herself, like a dove in an inaccessible mountain gorge. Where there is no village pigeon-house the wild doves of Syria build in hollows of the steep rocks. At the monastery of St. Saba 'one sees, sailing on outstretched wings from out of those caverns, flights of the fair blue pigeons.'

15. She sings him the little ditty concerning the foxes that ruin the vineyards: any song, on any theme, would have pleased him, and short poems that seem to have no special relevance to the occasion are still in common use amongst the peasants and the Bedouin.

16, 17. She declares their unchangeable, mutual devotion, and bids the shepherd, who pastures his flock in the fields bright with lilies, come to her.

17. At midday the heat is overpowering—All round the coast the languid air did swoon, Breathing like one that hath a weary dream.' But at sunset the day 'breathes' (RM); a cool breeze blows, and the shadows gradually disappear (Genesis 3:8; Job 14:2). The gazelles (RM) descend at night to the plains to feed; they leap and run safely on the mountains of Bether. The meaning of the last word is not clear: it may be the name of a locality not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture; it may signify 'the cloven mountains'; it may be the same as the besamim (= spices) of Song of Solomon 8:14, or, as RM suggests, the spice malobathron.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 2:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". 1909.

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