Christian Churches of God
Commentary on Song of Songs: Part 5
(Edition 2.0 19951021-19990607)
We continue here with Chapter 8 to the end of the Commentary on Song of Songs.
Commentary on Song of Songs: Part 5
New and old is rendered by Malbim as “‘New which seems like old, My love I have laid up for thee’. The precious new fruits seem like old since we have become sated with them. Our love, however, will never grow old” (Soncino). The reference is developed into the parable of the wages of the kingdom (Mat. 20:1-16). The last will be first and the first last. This also applies to the conversion of Judah. The wages of Judah shall be the same as that for the elect so that Jerusalem and the household of the king (the elect) cannot exalt themselves against Judah. In that day the feeble will be like David and the Household of David (the elect) will be as elohim, as the angel of Jehovah at their head (see Zech. 12:7-8). The being at the head of the household of the king is an elohim identified at Psalm 45:6-7 as the elohim of Israel anointed by his elohim. Hebrews 1:8-9 identifies this elohim as Messiah and thus Messiah is undeniably the Angel of Jehovah from this text.
Fruit was stored on shelves and cupboards and above doorways where they were left to dry and be out of reach. The Shulemite assures the shepherd that she has laid up the fruit for him only to enjoy (Daath Mikra).
Song of Songs 8:1-14 O that thou wert as my brother, that sucked the breasts of my mother! when I should find thee without, I would kiss thee; yea, I should not be despised.
Isaiah da Trani holds that the maiden complains that she found it necessary to leave her mother’s house and her family to go out to the village as to show affection for her beloved. She wishes he were like her brother, in which case they could show affection for each other in public without being despised (Soncino). The Church is indeed despised, as it must be distinguished from the nations of the world in its relationship with Messiah.
The next text I would lead thee etc. has the connotation that as her brother, none would question her about bringing him to her home (Metsudath David). The meaning is twofold. The distinction between the Church and Judah in the first instance saw the Church persecuted in Judah. In the second instance, the Church among the Gentiles also saw a serious attack on the OT aspects of the Church. The attacks on what were seen as Jewish traditions of the law and the Sabbaths saw the Church persecuted there also.
2I would lead thee, and bring thee into my mother's house, who would instruct me: I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine of the juice of my pomegranate.
The translation here of the text in the KJV who would instruct me is rendered in the Soncino as that thou mightest instruct me. This follows Malbim. Isaiah da Trani, however, renders that she might instruct me. The Hebrew can be construed as second person masculine or third person feminine. Hence this rendering means her mother would teach her the secrets of love.
The reference to the juice of pomegranates is explained by the Soncino as:
Asis is fermented juice obtained from crushing the fruit in a wine-press. With sherbet added to it, this was a favourite cooling drink in the Orient. She stresses my pomegranate, i.e. which she herself had prepared for him.
3His left hand should be under my head, and his right hand should embrace me.
The text shows a repetition of 2:6. We see here the anticipation of the coming of the beloved.
4I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, until he please.
The charge is repeated from the earlier text where the stirring up of love before it pleases him is a reference to the calling of the elect in due time. It was for this reason that Christ spoke in parables so that people would not understand until it was time for them to come into judgment. The first love is critical in the elect and should not be undertaken until the proper time as determined by God and should not therefore be lost through unfortunate timing.
5Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness, leaning upon her beloved? I raised thee up under the apple tree: there thy mother brought thee forth: there she brought thee forth that bare thee.
The Soncino notes Malbim’s explanation.
The lovers are seen approaching, and the author asks, ‘Who is this that cometh up from the wilderness etc.’ Thereupon her lover replies, ‘under the apple-tree I awakened thee.’ The first time I found thee thou wert asleep under the apple-tree, and there I awakened thee, ‘There thy mother was in travail with thee.’ i.e. thou wert accustomed to be in the wilderness, rather than in the city (Malbim).
The explanation makes no comment as to the response and the persons involved. The beloved is here replying to the question directed at them. The beloved first saw the inquirer under the apple tree when their mother was in travail with them. In other words the beloved saw these before they were born. The inquirers are the daughters of Jerusalem and Israel proper. They are those who were of the seed of the woman referred to in Revelation 12:1-17. This woman was the nation and the Church, which brought forth the elect and the Messiah. She is referred to in Genesis 3:1-17. The Angel of Jehovah or Jehovah Elohim was he who guarded them in the garden. He was the presence or face of God (no man has seen God ever (Jn. 1:18; 1Tim. 6:16). He saw the woman under the apple tree in travail. This punishment was inflicted on the woman because of the problem that arose in the garden (Gen. 3:16). Here the beloved declares himself as The Angel of Yahovah (Jehovah) or Jehovah Elohim of the Garden of Eden.
The interpretation regarding the being in travail is interpreted by the Soncino as being a poetic repetition of the preceding. Malbim renders, ‘there she who bore thee was born.’ Not only were thou born in the wilderness but also thy mother was as well. This interpretation is necessary because the literal meaning places the beloved at a great age and renders the description of him incongruous. The fact of course is that we are speaking of Messiah as a pre-incarnate being and as a resurrected being and to admit this possibility condemns Judah outright and thus it must be avoided. For this reason also the wilderness is identified as the Plain of Esdraelon between Jezreel and Shulem which the lovers were held by the Soncino to have had to cross on their homeward journey. This explanation raises more problems than it solves given the prophecies concerning the valley of Jezreel and the return of the Messiah.
The term leaning upon her beloved is literally ‘joined, associated, with the beloved’ (Rashi). The Church is to be finally joined to Messiah at his return. The dubious assertion is also made that in the Middle East childbirth in the open air is not uncommon.
6Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 7Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be condemned.
The Shulemite longs to be constantly near the beloved and never parted (Malbim). She pleads with her lover to be set as a seal upon his heart and upon his arm to protect her from the king (Malbim). Thus the Church appeals to Messiah for protection in the final phase. The text love is strong as death is held to indicate that the Shulemite had risked her life for his love (Malbim). The comments regarding jealousy are directed at the king. Malbim holds that jealousy completely enslaves one in its sway. She is fearful lest the king return to woo her and take her to his harem (Soncino). The flashes thereof are flashes of fire a very flame of the Lord. The text is literally a very flame of God (Jah), i.e. a tremendous flame (Isaiah da Trani, Metsudath David). The meaning is that the battle is spiritual. The king is one of the spiritual Host. His authority and power were given originally by Jah or God. Thus he is more powerful and she needs protection from the very fire of his jealous wrath. Messiah is the only one who can provide such protection.
The verse Many waters cannot quench love is held to be the climax of the Book, which has dramatically been mounting to this culmination (Soncino). Malbim holds that nothing can destroy true love which flows spontaneously from the heart and cannot be bought with a kings treasures as she has shown.
The use of the term flood is held to naturally follow the previous flame as a natural simile (Rashi, Metsudath David). The Soncino says:
Homiletically interpreted, it applies to the nations of the world who did not succeed in wresting the love of God from the heart of Israel either by force or by blandishments. The Midrash adds: ‘Even if the nations should open their treasuries and offer their money for one word of Torah, they would never succeed. All the temptations dangled before the eyes of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were of no avail.’
The usage is found in relation to the offspring of the woman as a flood which proceeds from the mouth of the dragon. The Church is spiritual Israel. Judah is only part of physical Israel. All of Israel, both physical and spiritual, is sought to be destroyed by the dragon, the god of this world (2Cor. 4:4) and the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2).
Salvation is also of the Gentiles and thus the Midrash falls. The love of God cannot be bought; it is the free gift of grace. It is not the sole prerogative of Judah and Torah is not the entirety of the word of God. No one holding this view can of course obtain salvation as part of the elect.
The last eight verses are held to be the reminisces and triumphs of the Shulemite. She reminds her brothers how unnecessary had been their fear for her chastity when beset by temptation (Akedath Yitschak).
8We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
Akedath Yitschak takes the text then to refer to the Shulemite when she was still young and undeveloped. He holds that what shall we do for our sister refers to her wedding day. They stipulate that their plans will depend upon her virtue. When they first discussed this matter she was as yet of unmarriageable age. Yitschak’s commentary forms the basis of the Soncino comments. There is of course another interpretation. That is that the beloved and Messiah are speaking of the little sister who has not yet come of age. This is equally able to be construed as Judah who is kept from conversion until the time of the Gentiles is complete (i.e. 1995/6; see the paper The Fall of Egypt (No. 036): The Prophecy of Pharaoh’s Broken Arms).
9If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar. 10I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
The text seems to be talking of two entities, the Shulemite and another. The construction is made however that the brothers speak of her and then she comes of age. They speak of her as being virtuous and that if she is able to withstand all attacks on her then they will give her hand in marriage to one who is worthy (Akedath Yitschak). Thus she claims this right as being a wall and her breasts were like towers. This virtue then enabled her to find favour in the eyes of the beloved, the Messiah. The turret of silver (palace of silver KJV) is held to be symbolic of an esteemed man worthy of a wife chaste and modest (Akedath Yitschak).
The term if she be a door is held to mean one who yields to temptation in view of the fact that a door opens to those who knock. If that were the case then they would give her to one of lesser calibre. Boards of cedar is held to refer to a small attic chamber, meaning a man of low calibre (Akedath Yitschak). The alternate meaning is of course as explained earlier as the meaning of Messiah standing at the door and knocking. The absence of other comment is indicative of the dilemma of this text.
The reply I am a wall is held to be the triumphant reply of an impregnable and faithful guardian of her honour. Where is the reward you promised for me? (Akedath Yitschak). She is ripe for marriage now in view of the comment regarding her breasts being like the towers thereof (Isaiah da Trani). The finding of peace is related by the commentaries as being the condition of her brothers after her virtue is unchallenged. The real understanding of peace under Messiah as the prince of peace and holder of the titles of God by delegation (Isa. 9:6) is not understood.
The most important aspect is in the commentary of Saadia Gaon. According to the Soncino:
Saadia Gaon sees ‘the little sister’ as the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the smaller part of the nation of Israel.
This is the most important commentary of the Book. The little sister is indeed the nation of Judah and Benjamin that is converted to the remainder of Israel in the last days. This nation showing the fruits of it is joined by the little sister when her age is come and she is able to stand with her sister Israel with Messiah at the advent.
The Soncino goes on with another telling commentary.
What shall we do for our sister. to let us know what God decrees at the end of over a thousand years, which is to Him like a day? What can we do if the redemption comes when they are still rebellious and will require the coming of the Messiah son of Joseph? God replies, ‘If she be a wall.’ I.e. if they are repentant, they will not require the Messiah son of Joseph, but the Messiah son of David will come and rebuild the Temple. If, however, they are in a state of disobedience, they will require the Messiah son of Joseph, who will gather warriors as cedar, to fight for them. Israel replies, ‘I am strong in the traditions of the Prophets, and my sages and scholars are protected by their righteousness, studies, and prayers. Then I know that I can rely on His prophecies and find peace.
This is the most critical text in the rabbinical commentaries. It shows that the rabbinical authorities knew that there had to be two Messiahs. The first, the priest Messiah was the Messiah son of Joseph, which is Joshua or Jesus Christ. The king Messiah or Messiah son of David is he who is to come. Judah wanted a king Messiah to rid itself of the Roman yoke. The Song of Songs was a warning to Judah of the coming of the Messiah and the failure of the tribes to repent. Judah knew that it had to be repentant but relied upon its traditions, which Messiah condemned it for in the name of God. The Dead Sea Scrolls show that at least some Jews at the time of Christ understood that there was to be a Messiah of two advents. These two were the one Messiah (Damascus Rule VII and the fragment from cave 4 (Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English)). The requirement for repentance as proclaimed by John the Baptist was thus understood by Judah, but they did not repent. The requirement for the salvation of the priest Messiah is not understood by Judah. The rabbinical authorities do not seem to understand or at least acknowledge the symbolism of the Atonement sacrifices and the symbolism of the two types of vestments worn by the High Priest on Atonement. There is no doubt however that the authorities know that the Song of Songs is the love story of Messiah and the Church and involves the conversion of Judah and Benjamin when they come of age. In other words when the hardening of their heart is removed and they are converted.
11Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon; he let out the vineyard unto keepers; every one for the fruit thereof was to bring a thousand pieces of silver.
This text is held to be a reminiscence of the temptation of the Shulemite by Solomon, whose wealth was used as a temptation to make her yield. The magnificent vineyard of the king was spurned with her retort ‘I am quite happy with my own humble vineyard’ (verse 12) (Malbim).
Baal-hamon. The site is unidentified and is not mentioned elsewhere. Rashi believes that it was near Jerusalem and its name (lit. ‘owner of a multitude’) derived from the fact that it attracted crowds of visitors. [It has been conjectured that it may have been Hamath in the kingdom of Aleppo] (Soncino).
The name is perhaps overlooked. The literal name is also Lord of the Multitude. The Lord of the Multitude is Satan as the entity behind the beast power of Revelation. The fact that the name occurs only here should reinforce the fact that it is allegorical.
The giving of the vineyard to keepers was an illusion to the fact that Solomon erected temples to foreign gods and allowed their priests to officiate in Israel and he took part in the services himself. The Soncino notes that it was the custom of metayers or partner-labourers (aris) to receive a portion of the produce, usually a third or a half in exchange for their work. The thousand pieces of silver has a symbolic meaning, just as the thirty pieces of silver paid for Christ was not only the price of a slave (Ex. 21:32) but also the number of the Council of God as we see from Revelation 4:1 to 5:14. The death of Christ was an offence against the entire Council. So too have we the price of the thousand being related to the administration of the Host (see Job 33:23 RSV) where the redeemer was one of the thousand. Solomon thus by his actions established another administration, but of the fallen Host. Those that keep the fruit were also recompensed but according to their part. The Shulemite would have none of this fruit. These are the 144,000 spiritual virgins who are faithful to Messiah (Rev. 14:4).
The commentaries concern themselves only with the size of the vineyard and the fact that it was let to so many tenants, each of whom paid this sum annually. In other words it cost them their salvation. The thousand is also a grouping of the 144,000, being of the twelve and the twelve tribes (Rev. 7:5; 21:14). 144 cubits, which is the measure of a man, forms also the basis of the height of the wall of New Jerusalem, the City of God (Rev. 21:17). The elect form the wall of the City of God, whereas they were its Temple. There are thus multitudes diverted under the idolatrous system of Solomon. This is a reflection of the term many are called but few are chosen. Solomon is used here to show how close to the very heart of Israel idolatry was to strike. Solomon traditionally is held to have kept the keys of the Temple and to have delayed the services by dalliance with the daughter of Pharaoh (see Proverbs 31 Soncino and also the paper Proverbs 31 (No. 114)).
12My vineyard, which is mine, is before me: thou, O Solomon, must have a thousand, and those that keep the fruit thereof two hundred.
The understanding also follows that the redemption of mankind can only follow from the mediation of one of the thousand. Thus the comment at verse 12 is in reality a taunt that Solomon is condemned for his idolatry and indeed must have the redemption of the mediator for salvation.
13Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the companions hearken to thy voice: cause me to hear it. 14Make haste, my beloved, and be thou like to a roe or to a young hart upon the mountains of spices. (KJV)
The commentaries attempt to make sense of this text by having the beloved speak to his companions and request to hear the voice of the Shulemite (see Isaiah da Trani) in recounting her experiences at the palace (Soncino). True, the Shulemite will give testimony at the judgment and the way the saints were treated will be the source of the judgment as we see from the parable of the sheep and the goats (Mat. 25:31-46). The commentaries hold that she is coy or embarrassed and begs to be left alone for a while and when they are alone she will sing to him (Isaiah da Trani). This runs counter to the entire thrust of her urgent search for him over the Song. She is urging his coming to end her trials.
The companions that dwell in the gardens here are the saints. These are they who hear the voice of the shepherd and they know his voice (Jn. 10:3-4). She pleads to be caused to hear it. This is a reminder that the calling is a gift of God and, without the direction of God, no one can come to Messiah (Jn. 6:37,44).
The Soncino ends the commentary with this text concerning the mountains of spices.
Now that they are finally united, the rugged heights are no longer barriers between them but delightful like mountains of spices. The Midrash reads a prayer into the verse: ‘Mayest thou hasten the advent of the redemption and cause Thy Shechinah to dwell on the mountain of spices (i.e. Moriah, as though derived from mor, “myrrh”) and rebuild the temple speedily in our days.’
Remember that the Shechinah will dwell on the Holy Mountain at the restoration and the pillar of fire and cloud will settle over Zion and the assemblies of the Lord permanently when the Lord washes away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleanses the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spring of judgment and a spirit of burning (Isa. 4:2-6).
The last verse of the Song is a call to Messiah to come quickly. This is a fitting end to the Song of Songs as it is to the Bible itself (Rev. 22:20-21). The Spirit and the Bride say come (Rev. 22:17). Surely he is coming soon. Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus (or J[eh]oshua) be with all the saints. Amen.