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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Song of Solomon 1

 

 

Verses 1-8

Song of Solomon 1:1. Superscription by the collector or a later editor describing the whole book as the noblest or the most beautiful of Solomon's songs (1 Kings 4:32).

Song of Solomon 1:2-4. A brief song by the bride or one of the wedding guests expressive of the bride's love for the bridegroom, and suggesting by the symbols of perfume and wine the power of his attraction.

Song of Solomon 1:2. The exchange of person is puzzling, and it is proposed to change thy to his, or the reverse, but MT is supported by LXX, and there may have been much freedom in dramatio songs of this type, helped out by gestures.—love, etc., i.e. caresses (LXX has "breasts") are pleasanter than wine (Song of Solomon 1:4, Song of Solomon 4:10).

Song of Solomon 1:3. In the original the words for name and ointment are similar in sound (cf. Ecclesiastes 7:1*); in such word-play the ancients took delight. The "name" is not a mere label, it has a close connexion with the person (Genesis 32:29*); even as the fine ointment or perfume that he uses, he spreads abroad an air of pleasantness. Perhaps for poured forth, costly should be read.—virgins, the young women, companions of the bride.

Song of Solomon 1:4. It has been suggested that the second clause of this verse should be placed at the beginning of the following verse; it suits very well there, and is difficult to explain here.—make mention of thy love: better "celebrate thy caresses"; but some scholars suggest a verb of similar sound meaning "to intoxicate with."

Song of Solomon 1:5 f. The Bride Rejoices in her Beauty.—She has lived an open-air life and been exposed to the sun, so that she has not the white, delicate complexion of the city-dweller, but the ruddy appearance (1 Samuel 16:12) of the peasant woman. Her brothers, her natural guardians, have been severe with her, for what reason we cannot tell; they have set her to this work of keeping the family vineyard, but her own vineyard they could not compel her to keep, her heart has been given to another. Love conquers disadvantages and spurns unreasonable restraints.—Kedar, name of a nomad tribe (Isaiah 21:16 f.*, Psalms 12:05*), used here because of its resemblance to a word meaning black. It is possible to take "the curtains of Solomon" to refer to the other member of the statement, the beauty not the blackness; there is then no need to change Solomon to Salma (another nomad tribe).—daughters of Jerusalem, if original, may refer to the bridal companions who represent "court ladies."

Song of Solomon 1:7 f. An Inquiry and Reply.—There is difficulty in fixing the connexion of this small piece, the first specimen of dialogue that we meet. It has the motive of seeking and finding (Song of Solomon 2:8 ff., Song of Solomon 3:1). The woman addressing her lover, or the bride speaking to the bridegroom, wishes to know where he and his flock spend the hour of rest at noon-tide (2 Samuel 4:5), so that she may visit it and enjoy his company (Genesis 37:16). She is advised by her lover, or the chorus of girls, to go forth with her kids, following the track of the flocks, till she comes to the shepherds' tents (cf. Genesis 38:17, Judges 15:1). The one difficult phrase in the passage is "as one that is veiled" (AV "that turneth aside"). This suggests, why should she incur suspicion or run into danger as a woman of loose character? (Genesis 38:15). But on the whole, it is better to translate, with the versions (mg.), "as a wandering woman" i.e. a female tramp.


Verses 9-17

Song of Solomon 1:9-17. A Mutually Responsive Song of Love and Admiration.—(1) The comparison of the richly-ornamented horses of Pharaoh's chariots. Parallels from ancient literature may be found in the commentaries. The Arabs had fine breeds of horses which they esteemed very highly, and such horses were splendidly adorned when driven in the chariots of the princes. The rich and even excessive adornment of the bride appealed to the Orientals as much as the simple beauty of the maiden. Hence the reference to plaits of hair, circlets of gold with silver points is appropriate both to a woman's headdress and the trappings of a gaily-decorated steed (Genesis 24:53; Genesis 34:12). (2) The bride returns the compliment. Her perfumes and her own charms exert their full power when stimulated by the gracious presence of her king. He is compared to a bundle or bag of myrrh which Oriental women place between their breasts at night, and which has a protecting and refreshing influence, as well as to the Paradise flower (henna-flower), the dye from which is used to give a delicate tinge to the hands and feet. These flowers are said to be found only in Palestine at En-gedi. (3) The bridegroom declares again the beauty of his love (lit. friend, in the OT peculiar to this book and Judges 11:37). He says that her eyes are doves, meaning that they have the softness and innocence of doves' eyes. There is no general agreement about the exact reference of Song of Solomon 1:16 f. whether it is a picture of a fine mansion, or a poetic description of life among the trees of the forest; "the green bed" is the difficulty, which some take literally, and others figuratively, or according to the custom mentioned in Proverbs 7:17.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Song of Solomon 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/song-of-solomon-1.html. 1919.

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