Christian Churches of God
Commentary on Song of Songs: Part 2
(Edition 2.0 19951021-19990607)
We continue the Commentary here from Chapter 2:8-14 to end Chapter 4:7.
Commentary on Song of Songs: Part 2
The Soncino produces the following commentary on the next section. The division becomes apparent that we have seen a removal of the Shulemite from her first position which was centred in her own environment and her work was transferred by force, by her own brothers. So the Church in the first phase is in Jerusalem and was surrounded by the daughters of Jerusalem and Jerusalem tried to stamp out the Church. It was because of the Jews that the Church had to be transferred. They fled to Pella for the destruction of the Temple and they then set up the Ephesian era in proper, through the apostles, centred on Ephesus.
The first scene concluded with the failure of the king and his court ladies to persuade the peasant girl to be disloyal to her lover. This section is devoted to an account of how, one spring morning, her shepherd came and invited her to join him in the field. To prevent this meeting, her brothers transferred her work to the vineyards from which she had been taken by force to the royal court. She finds consolation in the certainty that her lover would seek her. His approach is traced until he reaches the wall of the building in which she is confined. Peering through the attic window, he fails to see her and pleads for the sound of her voice. In reply she informs him that she has sent away the court ladies who guard her to hunt foxes that destroy the vineyards (Malbim).
The brothers appear to represent the nation not sympathetic to the beloved. This could only be Judah. The Church is then persecuted under the circumstances we see in the text. This would accord with what we understand of the Smyrna era. The court ladies hunt foxes that destroy the vineyards. The ruse is to hunt false shepherds. The foxes are also found in the story of Samson where there are 300 tied in pairs. These symbols are explained in the paper Samson and the Judges (No. 073). We also see what happens in the paper Gideon’s Force and the Last Days (No. 022).
Song of Songs 2:8-14 The voice of my beloved! Behold, he comes, leaping upon the mountains, bounding over the hills.
The text uses the word kol (lit. voice) in the sense of hark (cf. Gen. 4:10; Isa. 43:3). The sense hear is applied to the meaning hark, meaning listen to the voice of the shepherd. The elect hear the voice of the shepherd (Jn. 10:25-30).
John 10:25-30 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; 26but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. 27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; 28and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30I and the Father are one." (RSV)
That is a powerful text and it is the thing that keeps the Church free and pure from idolatry and false doctrines. Because when we hear these false doctrines we know that they are not the voice of our master or of the shepherd, and we are simply taken away from these false teachers. The Soncino states concerning the text:
The author depicts how the Shulemite hears the footsteps of her beloved although he is still far away. She, nevertheless discerns that he is coming. He is leaping upon the mountains, from mountain to mountain, and then, upon the hills below. He is hastening over the hills with the speed of a swift footed gazelle (Malbim). [She must be alluding to her shepherd since the language would not be used of a king] (Soncino).
The language here is not that of a king. They are talking about the priest-Messiah, because when Christ came in the first instance he came as the priest-Messiah of Aaron and not the king-Messiah of Israel. That is why some of his disciples could not stand. That is why Judas fell away and many fell away when he did not take up the sword of the ruling monarch. This language is that of a shepherd. He is a shepherd of the sheep until the end of the era of the Churches. At the end, he comes again as king-Messiah in power and glory. That same symbolism is mirrored in the Day of Atonement, when the priest-Messiah is dressed in linen, makes atonement and then you have the separation of the goats and then he is re-attired in the apparel of the king-Messiah. So there are two priests involved. The high priest is in two forms of dress on the Day of Atonement, one as priest-Messiah and the other as king-Messiah as high priest - ruling high priest and the atoning priest. They are two different forms of dress. One is in clear white linen with no royal apparel and the other is in the total royal apparel of the ruling high priest. That is the division of the first and second instances or advents of Christ. The language is used of the shepherd for the period in the interim.
This text refers also to Psalm 114:4-6.
Psalm 114:4-6 The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs. 5What ails you, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back? 6O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs? (RSV)
This is of Messiah and the Messianic advent. The hills are literally being shaken at the coming of the Messiah. So this beloved who is skipping over the hills is the one true shepherd - the Messiah.
The reversal is used in this text. Messiah makes the hills themselves skip.
Psalm 29:6 He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf, and Si'rion like a young wild ox. (RSV)
Thus we deal with the period up to his return whilst he is yet distant. He is not yet returned as King Messiah. He came first as priest Messiah or the Messiah of Aaron and became High Priest of the order of Melchisedek (Ps. 110:4).
At the time of Christ the Dead Sea Scrolls were quite clear. All of Judah expected a Messiah of two advents. They expected a Messiah of Aaron and a Messiah of Israel. Damascus Rule VII of the DSS and the unpublished fragment in cave four are quite clear that the Messiah of Aaron and the Messiah of Israel are the one Messiah. So we have one Messiah of two advents. The Jews understood that at the time of Christ. The Pharisees still killed Christ even though they knew that there had to be one Messiah of two advents. Some of them knew that they had to kill him in order to fulfil prophecy.
9My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag. Behold, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice.
The Soncino notes of this text:
He has already come so close that he ‘standeth behind our wall.’ Now he has come still closer, for he ‘peereth through the lattice.’ He actually thrusts his head through the lattice. The word ‘metsits’ means ‘blossoms,’ denoting something protruding (Malbim). It is likewise possible that the word for peereth signifies ‘to sparkle’ and perhaps suggests that she thinks of her rescuer as so close that she can see the ardent gleam in his eyes (see Rashi, Psalms 132:18). (Soncino).
The beloved places his head, as head of the elect, so that it protrudes through the barriers of the earthly system. He sparkles as the new Morning Star designate.
10My beloved speaks and says to me: "Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away;
This text is understood that her lover raised his voice and called her to join him (Malbim, Metsudath David).
11for lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone.
The word sethav occurs only here - the only place in the Bible it is used. The word sethav is used to translate winter but it does not mean that. Based on Targum Genesis 8:22, it is synonymous with choref meaning winter. According to many commentators this is the second half of Kislev, Tebeth, and the first half of Shebat, ending usually in February. SHD 5638 shows this word to stem from an unused root meaning to hide and hence it means the season of hiding hence this is synonymous with winter. This is the hiding attendant upon the persecution of the Smyrna era during the persecution referred to at Revelation 2:10.
Revelation 2:9-10 "`I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. 10Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. (RSV)
These people were persecuted ten days, but not in the West. They were persecuted ten days in the East. Diocletian’s persecution was ten years long in the eastern Churches but it was only three years long in the western Churches. That is why there is some confusion about this prophesy not being kept because a lot were looking at the persecution in west Europe and saying it was only three years, but it was ten years in the East. When the Church was based in Smyrna they were persecuted more and they took the brunt of the persecution. The persecution in the Empire was not all that long or great, in fact Gibbons says that in the entire period of the Roman Empire there were only fifteen hundred people put to death. Most of those were put to death for striking magistrates. They struck the magistrates so they could be put to death and so be in the first resurrection. That is not the way to get into the first resurrection! It wasn’t the Roman Empire that persecuted the Church overly much; it was ten years under Diocletian.
The persecution of the Church came under the successor of the Roman Empire, which was the Holy Roman Empire. They killed hundreds of thousands. It was actually the mainstream Christian church that persecuted the true Church of God.
The persecution under Diocletian in the East endured for ten years, whereas in the West it was only three years. The persecution did not cease with the Empire but occurred over many years under its successor, the Holy Roman Empire.
12The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.
This verse is misunderstood. The flowers appearing are taken to be the spring flowers in Palestine (Akedath Yitzchak). The time of singing is however rendered in the LXX and also by Rashbam as the time for pruning the vines; cf. Leviticus 25:3. This is the time of pruning the vines. We are then going into the tribulation and the pruning of the vines and tearing out the weakness in the Church. This marked the councils of Nicea, Constantinople, and Chalcedon. The vines were pruned.
Others maintain the zamir is the name of a migratory bird that utters song on its return to spring (Daath Mikra). The Midrash refers the verse to Moses and Aaron (the flowers) whose coming to Pharaoh resulted in Israel’s singing Az Yashir [Exod. 15] at the Red Sea after the winter of oppression in Egypt (Soncino).
The voice of the turtle [dove] is not a singing bird but a bird of passage (cf. Jer. 8:7). Its voice announces the coming of spring (Malbim).
The pruning of the vines is the understanding of the persecution and the trial of the elect. The analogy to Moses and Aaron and to Israel in Egypt and at the Red Sea is exactly that of the Church in the wilderness of the forty Jubilees on a year for a Jubilee basis. Israel was forty years in the wilderness and the Church was forty Jubilees in the wilderness. Israel was judged forty years after three year’s mission of Messiah. The gentile nations were given forty Jubilees and then the world’s systems are torn down.
13The fig tree puts forth its figs, and the vines are in blossom; they give forth fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
The fig tree putteth forth has as the literal sense of the verb sweetens with spice which is also used for the act of embalming with spices (Soncino).
This may also refer to the pollen, which resembles the spices sprinkled on the dead in the process of embalming (Ibn Ezra).
The meaning has thus a connection with the spices of affliction. This symbolism was used of Messiah at and before his burial. Myrrh is also a basis for the name of Mordecai, which has also Messianic symbolism in the story of Esther (see the paper Commentary on Esther (No. 063)). The text relating to green figs is important.
green figs. [Hebrew paggeha; ripe figs are called te’enim, and those that ripen early bikkurah. Figs ripen at various times, usually from August onwards. Some remain unripe on the tree until the following Spring. The green figs are slightly darker in colour; and the verb chanat which is related to the reddish brown wheat (chittah), suggests the translation, ‘The fig tree maketh red-ripe her winter figs’.] (Soncino).
Thus the meaning is that those ripened under the season of hiding are red ripe or likened also to the wheat harvest which is that of the elect. The vines in blossom is also significant.
the vines in blossom. Noted for their sweet fragrance. Semadar, a word of unknown origin and occurring only here, is interpreted by the Rabbis as ‘tender grapes when they first appear.’ A few weeks later they become boserim, and when fully ripe are called anabim. ‘When the blossom falls away and the grapes are visible, that is the stage of semadar’ (Rashi).
We are thus dealing with the firstfruit stage of the vine. This is the early stage of the calling of the elect.
14O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the covert of the cliff, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is comely. (RSV)
Kimchi renders the text on top of the rocks. The dove in the cleft of the rocks represents a dove remaining in its nesting place when hiding. The shepherd lover, impatient at her delay to join him, urges her to leave her hiding place (Malbim).
The Church went into hiding during the persecution and could not accomplish its task. The Shepherd calls it to action.
Song of Songs 2:15-17 Catch us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vineyards, for our vineyards are in blossom." 16My beloved is mine and I am his, he pastures his flock among the lilies. 17Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, turn, my beloved, be like a gazelle, or a young stag upon rugged mountains. (RSV)
The text is: take us the foxes or catch us the foxes.
With this she explains to her lover how she rid herself of the daughters of Jerusalem, who kept a close watch over her. She urged them to hunt the foxes who were destroying the vineyards, ‘for our vineyards are in blossom’ (Malbim).
The daughters of Jerusalem inhibited the actions of the Church. The actions of Judah even though it was hardened and thus denied conversion was able to withstand the effects of the attacks on the faith made by Gnostic elements and thus preserved intact the physical understanding of the Scriptures ready for the Restoration. In this manner the Church was able to free itself from the daughters of Jerusalem also. But the little foxes that destroyed the vineyard ultimately ended up in the councils of Nicea, Constantinople and Chalcedon. These foxes, these false priests and prophets destroyed the faith and created what is now called the mainstream Christian church and those people do not enter the first resurrection. They destroyed the vineyards of God.
The Soncino comments on the term: the little foxes is telling.
the little foxes. Perhaps she is referring to her danger at court. Comparing herself to a vineyard, she calls upon him to save her from the foxes who seek to destroy her true happiness. This may be an allusion to the story of Samson, who released foxes in the vineyards to avenge himself against those who had destroyed his marriage (Malbim).
If we look back to when we dealt with Samson and the Judges, this whole structure is of Christ’s operation in the Holy Spirit with Samson to establish the forward prophesies on the bringing down of the gentile nations. These three hundred foxes were sent forward two by two, into the nations of the Gentiles, by Jesus Christ. These are the three hundred lights under bushels that got smashed at the same time so that the gospel of the Kingdom of God is brought to the Gentiles and the nations are given the understanding.
Samson used the 300 foxes to set the fields of the Philistines alight (see the paper Samson and the Judges (No. 073)). This story is a physical representation of the spiritual intervention of Messiah. It refers to the development of the Holy Spirit in the individual as it occurs with Samson. Messiah as the Angel of Yahovah (Jehovah) uses Samson to deal with the gentile system. The foxes also have application to the story of Gideon (see the paper Gideon’s Force and the Last Days (No. 022)). The foxes that destroy the vineyards are the shepherds who are to be removed from the flock. The passages in Ezekiel 34, Malachi and others show this to be the power of the rabbinical teachers. This structure had to be removed from its influence on the elect. The term in blossom means that it is easily destroyed (Metsudath David). Therefore the protection had to be extended to ensure the elect were not destroyed before they could develop.
The comment my beloved is mine in verse 16 is held to mean that the woman turns to the women (the daughters of Jerusalem) and
she makes this passionate confession as though to imply, ‘My brothers succeeded in separating us, but we are for ever united in our love.’ (Metsudath David).
So the Jews separated us from Messiah and put us in the wilderness but we are still united to Messiah as the Church.
Of course the brothers of Judah did indeed succeed in separating Messiah from the Church but they are forever united in love and will be joined at the marriage supper. Judah will at last be converted and take its place when it realises the full significance of the Messianic Scriptures to which it has been blinded. A hardness of heart has come over Judah but that hardness is going to be taken away. In the last days Judah is going to be converted and Judah will be restored first.
The term in verse 17 until the day breathe is literally until the day blow’ i.e. the evening breeze rises. Metsudath David explains, ‘until the sun blow away’ from the earth (Soncino). This is held by the rabbis to be the end of the day. However, the meaning can also be that the day dawns as mentioned by Peter in 2Peter 1:19.
2Peter 1:19 And we have the prophetic word made more sure. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. (RSV)
Messiah is the new Morning Star. The reference to the shadows fleeing can also be to the light removing all darkness and all shadow. The meaning is taken to extend until sunset as being when the shadows flee away. The separation is to be only until sunset when she will expect him (Metsudath David). Thus the rabbis did understand that the process was as a separation which entailed a reconciliation at the end. This is the reconciliation of Christ and the Church at the marriage supper.
The term: upon rugged mountains, is rendered by the Soncino as upon the mountains of spices.
This translation follows Gratz.
The final word bather means ‘division, separation,’ and may refer to the intervening mountains which the shepherd had to cross in order to reach her. The word ‘division’ is aptly used of mountains that appear to be cleft. Other explanations proposed are that it is a proper noun, ‘the mountains of Bether’ (Metsudath David).
The mountains of division or separation are referred to in the various texts describing Messiah returning to the Church and to Israel. The mountains in the end prove to be the refuge of the survivors of the wrath of God. Division is also evident in the Church through error. The broken staff of union is the division that resulted in the separation of Israel and Judah.
Each text in the Song of Songs has a major meaning or implication for the establishment of the Church and its relationship to Judah. It also has a meaning in relation to the conversion of Judah. Once Judah understands and can place all of these in context, Judah can be converted. It will not be done by fables and will not occur out of faulty theology. We have to know what we are talking about and we have to be able to get to each of these texts in the OT and explain them so that the Jews can see by the Holy Spirit what Christ and the Church was doing for two thousand years. Once we can do that we will convert Judah.
Song of Songs 3:1-3 Upon my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loves; I sought him, but found him not; I called him, but he gave no answer.
The Soncino notes of the text:
Many days later, the maiden, imprisoned in Solomon’s chambers, remembers her lover and his love while lying in bed at night. She rises from her bed and goes out to seek him in the city. She does not find him until she leaves the city and goes out into the wilderness. She joins her beloved until she is pursued by the daughters of Jerusalem. Nevertheless she continues her union with him and he speaks to her affectionately. This episode relates how she left Solomon’s bed, and how the daughters of Jerusalem did not separate them afterwards. This goes on until v. 2 (Malbim).
I sought him. Repeated to connote that she sought him repeatedly (Malbim).
The elect among Israel are constantly being called and are in battle with the reactionary elements of Judaism. This will only cease on the conversion of Judah as a whole. This will occur in the last days because of this constant love affair of the nation with Messiah in spite of the rabbinical resistance to the Messianic restructuring of the priesthood and the elect.
Zechariah 9:9 shows how Messiah came to the daughters of Jerusalem and they did not receive him.
2"I will rise now and go about the city, in the streets and in the squares; I will seek him whom my soul loves." I sought him, but found him not.
The Messiah was not to be found within the structure of Jerusalem and the Temple or in the later rabbinical system. Only in the wilderness could this union occur.
3The watchmen found me, as they went about in the city. "Have you seen him whom my soul loves?" (RSV)
The watchmen are the watchmen of Ezekiel and the scribes and executioners of Ezekiel 8:1 to 9:11.
The text then goes on to the finding of the loved one. The rabbinical authorities hold that the watchmen did not answer her (Metsudath David).
Song of Songs 3:4-5 It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me. 5I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please. (KJV)
The immediate follow on from the watchmen to the beloved shows a nexus of one aspect to the other. If they answered her, she neglects to state the answer. There is an abruptness in the style here.
The bringing of the beloved into the mother’s house is as a permanent place and not skipping over the mountains that separate them (Malbim). The permanent place is a reference to the house of the Mother, which is Jerusalem and Zion as the capital of Israel and the centre of the millennial system.
The chamber of her that conceived me is an example of the parallelism that characterises Hebrew poetry. However, the chamber of her that conceived the Church is the Temple so that the mother’s house for the nation is the same as the chambers of the Church.
The text in verse 5 is held by Malbim to relate to the fact that the daughters of Jerusalem pursue her, and she adjures them not to alienate the love that the beloved has for her (as above v. 2). This relates to the aspects of conversion. The adjuration is that the conversion of the daughters of Jerusalem does not take place before they are ready to be called by God. In other words, until it pleases God. Judah was not to be called and converted until the time of the Gentiles were completed. This period lasted seven time frames from the period of 605-525 BCE and ended in 1914-1994/95. They could not understand and it was given to them in parables so that they would not turn and be saved before they were ready to come into judgment.
The text then goes on to the next phase of the story, which relates to the power of Israel.
Song of Songs 3:6-11 Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?
The Soncino makes this telling comment.
When the maiden returns from the wilderness, everyone wonders how she fled from Solomon’s bed at night. How did it happen that the mighty men surrounding it did not detain her? This is the question, ‘Who is this that cometh up out of the wilderness etc.? Behold it is the litter of Solomon, Threescore mighty men are about it etc.’ The answer is, ‘Every man hath his sword upon his thigh Because of dread in the night.’ The dread of the night fell upon them until they were unable to draw their swords (Malbim).
This comment shows the condition of Judah and the mighty men of Israel at this period. The question on Judah’s lips here is ‘How did the Church escape from the environs of Judah and Jerusalem.’ Firstly, Judah tried to detain the Church and destroy it. In the latter days Judah comes to this realisation and is converted from that realisation and from the adversity in which it finds itself. We see this developing from this period in history.
7Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel. 8They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night. 9King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon. 10He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem. 11Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart. (KJV)
The fear in the night is because of the destruction surrounding the nation. The swords are on their thighs as were the bows in the hands of the men who built the walls of Jerusalem under Nehemiah (Neh. 4:10-20). The text here also says behold his bed, which is Solomon’s. The term does not say it is Solomon but rather the litter is that which is Solomon’s. This litter was the litter of the heritage of Solomon. We are thus speaking also of the descendants of Solomon over the history of the Church. The story might also be extended to embrace the power and right of Messiah who deals with the unified nation of Israel on his return. However, the time sequence indicates we are dealing with Judah in the sequence of the Church. The time sequence here would have to be during Pergamos following on from Smyrna (Rev. 2:9-17).
Revelation 2:9-17 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. 12And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan's seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. (KJV)
The persecution of the Smyrna era had been brought about by Roman authority but it had been assisted by the divisions and animosity caused by Judah. The Trinitarian systems in the West saw a reaction to their power in the East. The foundation of the Catholic system from the support of Theodosius as emperor in 381 CE saw the Church persecuted. The Judaic kingdoms in Arabia and North Africa saw Islam arise as a reaction to both systems based on some, but not all, Christian doctrines. The Church was forced into an alliance with Islam because of the Roman Empire in Constantinople. The Jewish hegemony over Arabia was destroyed at the same time. Thus Judah was set in fear and dispersed. The sixty mighty men show that we are dealing with a reduced force. It has neither the spiritual power nor the authority of the seventy of the Sanhedrin, as that was removed to the Church from Luke 10:1. The mighty men are afraid because the system, being reliant on physical force, has no power to deal with either Western Trinitarianism or of the Church and Islamite Unitarianism. The Paulicians during the Pergamos era put Constantinople’s forces to flight and pillaged Asia Minor up to the Taurus Mountains and to the sea. They gained the protection of Islam throughout the empire. The Church in Islamite Spain also enjoyed protection at this time (see the paper General Distribution of the Sabbath-keeping Churches (No. 122)). Christ said he would proceed against Pergamos with the sword of his mouth, because they were tainted by the thinking that goes with military force, and Christ deals with them accordingly.
The Church, and also Judah, was from this time supported in the wilderness symbolised by hidden manna. The hidden manna relates to the power of the Spirit, which was the prerogative of the Church only. However, Judah was still protected by God.
The white stones are they that formed the foundation of the Temple under Solomon. The stones also formed the system of voting in the Hellenised world. Thus the white stone with a new name is evidence of the power to contribute by voice to the government of God as part of the administration which forms the foundation of the City of God.
The crown referred to in Chapter 3:11 is not held to be a symbol of royalty but of happiness. This equated with the garlands worn on festive occasions (see Soncino). The espousals referred to here concern Solomon and the crown given him by his mother who was in fact not of Judah as she was Bathsheba, the wife of Uriah the Hittite, and hence we are speaking of a different system. The espousal may have been his wedding or refer to the union with foreign gods with which he became enmeshed.
Some refer to this text as commencing a discourse of Solomon pressing his suit with the woman and extolling her beauty; others hold that it is the Shepherd who is addressing his beloved after the arrival of his retinue. This is considered more probable (Ibn Ezra, Isaiah da Trani, Malbim).
Song of Songs 4:1-16 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead. 2Thy teeth are like a flock of sheep that are even shorn, which came up from the washing; whereof every one bear twins, and none is barren among them. 3Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet, and thy speech is comely: thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate within thy locks. 4Thy neck is like the tower of David builded for an armoury, whereon there hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men. 5Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies. 6Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, I will get me to the mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense. 7Thou art all fair, my love; there is no spot in thee.
The text here deals with the attributes of the beloved. The eyes as doves refer back to 1:15. Rashi says the comparison is suggested by the innocence of the dove. Malbim says that it is an old custom to sing praises of the bride at her wedding. Verse 1 is translated as thy eyes are as doves behind thy veil by the Soncino. The veil conceals the entire face save the eyes. This follows Ibn Ganach and Kimchi. Rashi explains that the Hebrew denotes “a hair net to keep her locks tidy; the root meaning is to ‘confine’” (Soncino). The sense is one of constraint. The beloved is beautiful and sees in beauty regardless of the constraints upon her and the limitations of the disclosure of the mysteries of God.
The comments regarding “the hair being as a flock of goats” refer to the natural glossy black colour of the goat of each braid. When the sun shone upon it, its hair glistened with a beautiful sheen (Daath Mikra). The text: that trail down from mount Gilead is regarded as presenting difficulties. It occurs only here and in 6:5. Both ancient and modern commentators vary widely in the interpretation. The Soncino considers that the best interpretation is that proposed by Professor Yahuda who connected it with an Arabic root, ‘to do a thing before dawn’. The picture here is a flock of goats coming down from the mountainside in rows just before the daybreak, forming white lines against the dark background in the dim light. It holds that this interpretation seems to be alluded to in the Midrashic comment on the phrase, viz. ‘When a woman has a luxuriant growth of hair she arranges it in white lines,’ i.e. in plaits which show white partings in between. Thus they render it as: ‘thy hair is like a flock of goats that trail down in the morning twilight’.
The difficulty might be better understood or removed, if the Church was referred to and the entire arrangement of the white rows was as the elect in white garments, being arrayed in the dawn of the Messianic system, when the day dawns in the hearts of the elect (2Pet. 1:19) who partake of the divine nature (2Pet. 1:4) and are called out of the darkness into his marvellous light (1Pet. 2:9).
The area of Gilead is that area east of the Jordan. The Soncino says that it is A chain of mountains, beyond the Jordan, intersected by numerous valleys. The tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh found a home there [Josh. 17:1ff.]. Gilead was renowned for its rich pasture and countless flocks [Num. 23:1; Mic. 7:14]. It lies within view of Jerusalem. The fact that it lies within view of Jerusalem is also significant. We are relating the text to the anticipation of the Messianic advent and the end of the current age. Gilead was held in nexus to the kings of Judah (Jer. 22:6). The kingship was removed because of their idolatry and given to those who became both kings and priests unto God (Rev. 5:10). Thus Gilead symbolised the place of peace for the elect. There was a balm in Gilead, yet the health of the people was not restored (Jer. 8:22) due to their idolatry (Jer. 8:19). The nations were also told to go up to Gilead to take balm (Jer. 46:11). Thus salvation from this prophecy over the extent of the entire book of Jeremiah was removed from Judah and extended to the Gentiles. There must be no iniquity in Gilead (Hos. 12:11). The destruction of the women of Gilead will be punished (Amos 1:13). This is the basis of the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31ff. The Messianic restoration will involve Benjamin taking Gilead (Obad. 19) thus the inheritance of Reuben and Gad with half of Manasseh is elsewhere beyond the Jordan to the east.
Micah 7:14 shows that the people who are the flock of the inheritance of Messiah will dwell alone in a forest in the midst of a garden land. They will feed in Bashan and Gilead as in the days of old (Mic. 7:14). This period refers to the period after the destruction of the planet by the nations (Mic. 7:8-17). Then the restoration of the last days shall be as the exodus and it will be to Gilead and the Lebanon also (Zech. 10:10). Thus the elect shall also come from Lebanon as we see from verse 8.
The teeth are compared here to the whiteness of newly washed wool, the colour of snow (Isa. 1:18) (see Soncino). The student of the NT here will immediately recognise the symbolism of spiritual cleanness (Rev. 15:6; 19:8,14) and the washing of the robes of the elect in the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 3:5,18; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9,13,14). The fact that they are all shaped alike (Soncino), Rashi explains as ‘well numbered’, and Kimchi and Ibn Ezra explain as ‘all of the same size’. The significance is to the fact of the enumeration in the book of life of the Lamb and they are all spiritually prepared alike.
The text whereof all are paired, Daath Mikra explains that they are like sheep, each of which keeps to its mate i.e. here symbolised by the upper and lower teeth. Rashi connects a word for paired with methomm or ‘perfection’ i.e. none were decayed. This is considered to be the correct interpretation. Only by Rashi’s identification of the Hebrew can we see that the state of spiritual perfection among the elect is the subject. The Soncino renders the text: Whereof all are paired and none faileth among them. The text is interpreted as being “a play on words”. ‘All of them (shekullam) are paired and none is missing (shakkulah) among them’.
Thy lips are like a thread of scarlet refers to the salvation of the Gentiles through the Passover sacrifices prefigured by the salvation of Rahab at the wall of Jericho (see the paper The Fall of Jericho (No. 142) for explanation).
The Hebrew word for mouth here is midbarech or thy speech or the instruments of thy speech, namely, the mouth. Metsudath David says that her lips being red and thin are comparable to a thread of red scarlet. Thin red lips are hardly sensual, so the sense must be concerned with text elsewhere in the Bible. The sense of the speech being perfect is also correct, when we see that that condition is the one of the creation and extended to Satan before the fall, where his instruments were perfect before iniquity was found in him (Ezek. 28:13-15) as we are expected to be perfect.
The temples being like a pomegranate split open behind the veil refers to the complexion being ruddy. The word for temple refers to the thin part of the skull and Ibn Ezra translates pelach as ‘the red flower of the pomegranate’. Accordingly, he praises her ruddy complexion. Those who translate the text as a pomegranate split open explain that the temples gleam through the veil as the mingled white and red of the pomegranate gleam through the cracks in the rind (Metsudath David). Rashi renders the text ‘like half a pomegranate’. He is praising her for the roundness of her cheeks and their ruddy colour. The reference is to the elect. The splitting open perhaps refers to the curtain. The elect went behind the veil when it was torn in two by the sacrifice of Messiah symbolised by the ruddy colour. The play on words, places the elect as the inner sanctuary.
The reference to the neck and the tower of David built with turrets whereupon hang a thousand shields, is a reference to the numbers of the inner administration of the celestial government. The sacrifice of Messiah was determined from among the thousand of the angelic Host. This inner number of the Host appears to relate to the elohim central structure and the sacrifice of one of them was determined from the beginning. This was also understood from Job 33:19-24. Metsudath David merely says that a thousand represents a large number. The shields were used as ornaments according to the Soncino (cf. Ezek. 27:11). The fact of the matter is that anciently the fortified structure was as strong as its defenders. The practice of displaying shields during heraldic times was as signs to those without of who the defenders were and they signified the composition, derivation and loyalties of the defenders.
Job 33:23-24 If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to man what is right for him; 24and he is gracious to him, and says, `Deliver him from going down into the Pit, I have found a ransom; (RSV)
Ibn Ezra renders the text builded with turrets as meaning for the suspension of arms. A mound or tel in which arms are stored, i.e. the neck is compared to the mound not to the swords. Rashi and Rashbam translate talpioth as if delivered from the root ‘to teach’ (aleph), the first letter being elided. The rendering of the Targum, ‘the instruction of the law,’ may have suggested this explanation (Soncino). The neck of the Shulemite is like a splendid tower built as a model for others to follow. The word is understood by the LXX as a proper noun, ‘The tower of David built towards Talpioth’. This context seems to evade the issue or complex problem presented by the text. The fact of the elect being those beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and those who would not worship the beast or take its number from the NT (Rev. 20:4) could not of course be addressed here by the Soncino.
The reference to the breasts being two fawns that feeds among the lilies has stumped the Hebrew commentators. Metsudath David holds that fawns appear more beautiful when they feed among lilies. The reference is to the feeding of the flock and the clothing of the lilies of the field as greater than Solomon in all his glory. Messiah directly refers to this concept at Matthew 6:24-34.
The concept here of the day breathing is the same as at 2:17. The cooling or breathing of the day symbolises the joy of the beloved at meeting the shepherd at the end of the day. This refers to the Messianic advent. The start of the day for the elect is also the first love when the day dawns in the heart of the elect as we see above. Metsudath David renders the text: When evening comes I shall repair to the open country, where everything is sweet and fragrant like myrrh and frankincense. The symbolism of myrrh and frankincense and especially myrrh has been dealt with in the paper Commentary on Esther (No. 063) and also above. The nexus with Messiah is unmistakable. Indeed those were the specific offerings by the Magi at his birth (Mat. 2:11).
Thou art fair my love and there is no spot in thee is a direct reference to the elect being without spot or blemish as we see from the primary concept of the lamb that was Messiah from 1Peter 1:19 and also of the elect at 2Peter 3:14.
This is the salutation of Messiah to the bride who is the elect. The next phase is his call to the Church.
Continue with Part 3 (No. F022iii).