Your cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, your neck with chains of gold.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Rows.—Heb., tôrim, from tûr = went round; hence = either circlets or strings of jewels, or the round beads themselves of which necklaces, &c, were made.
Chains.—Literally, perforated, i.e., beads, or possibly coins strung together. “Arab ladies, particularly the married, are extravagantly fond of silver and gold ornaments, and they have an endless variety of chains, bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and rings. It is also quite common to see thousands of piastres, in various coins, round the forehead and suspended from the neck, and covering a system of network, called suffa, attached to the back of the head-dress, which spreads over the shoulders and falls down to the waist” (Thomson, The Land and the Book).
Olearius (quoted by Harmer) says:—“Persian ladies use as head-dress two or three rows of pearls, which pass round the head and hang down the cheeks, so that their faces seem set in pearls.” Lady Mary Montague describes the Sultana Hafitan as wearing round her head-dress four strings of pearls of great size and beauty.Proverbs 25:12), or substitute for the strung beads of the bride's necklace.Rows of jewels; which being fastened to the heads of brides, used to hang down upon and to adorn their cheeks, according to the manner in those times. He mentions the cheeks as the chief seat of beauty; and he intimates that the church’s beauty is not natural, nor from herself, but from the jewels wherewith Christ adorns her.
Thy neck; which is mentioned as another visible part and seat of beauty, Hosea 10:11. But to accommodate every part and ornament named in this book to some particular thing in the church, seems to have more of curiosity and artifice than of solidity and use.
Chains of gold; whereby, as well as by the rows of jewels, he may seem to design all those persons and things wherewith the church is made beautiful in the eyes of God and of men; such as excellent ministers, and saints, righteous laws, holy ordinances, and the gifts and graces of God’s Spirit, all which are given by God to the church, and are her best ornaments. Genesis 24:22; observes, hung down by the ears in rows on both sides of the cheeks, and made but one ornament; as they did when another jewel from the same plate or ribbon hung down from the forehead to the nose, called a nose jewel, Ezekiel 16:12; (a); and such an ornament, consisting of these several parts, Abraham's servant is said to put upon the face or cheeks of Rebekah, Genesis 24:47; and these may respect the gifts and graces of the Spirit of God, with which the church is ornamented; and are many and various, and are orderly and regularly disposed, and make very comely and lovely, and may be further described in the next clause;
thy neck with chains of gold; the word "gold" not being in the text, the chains may be understood, as they commonly are by the Jewish writers, of precious stones; as pearls bored and strung, which make a necklace; so Stockius (b) interprets it of an ornament of pearls and precious stones, orderly disposed and put about the neck, in use with great personages; so the eldest daughter of Priamus had, "collo monile baccatum" (c), a pearl necklace, which Aeneas made a present of to Dido; such was the chain of gold, beset with amber, presented to Penelope by her suitors, which shone like the sun (d). The church has her golden chain, or pearl necklace; which are either the graces of the Spirit, so linked together, that where there is one there are all; and which consists of those ten links, or pearls, faith, hope, love, repentance, humility, patience, self-denial, contentment in every state, spiritual knowledge, longsuffering, or forbearance; sincerity goes through them all. Or else the spiritual blessings of the covenant of grace, with which the church and all the saints are blessed in Christ at once, and with one and all; and which golden chain of salvation, one link of which cannot be broken, is excellently described by the apostle in Romans 8:30.Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. Thy cheeks are comely] The LXX have τί ὡραιώθησαν σιαγόνες σου, ‘How comely are thy cheeks,’ which would be a very good reading.
with rows of jewels] Most probably these are strings, either of beads formed of the precious metals, or of precious stones, hanging down over the cheeks in loops. R.V. renders ‘plaits of hair.’ Archdeacon Aglen very aptly quotes from Olearius the following sentence: “Persian ladies use as head-dress two or three rows of pearls, which pass round the head and hang down the cheeks, so that their faces seem set in pearls.” He also notes that Lady Mary Wortley Montague describes the Sultana Hafitan as wearing round her head-dress four strings of pearls of great size and beauty.
with chains of gold] Rather, with strings of jewels, as R. V. The word occurs here only in the O.T., but cognate words in Aramaic and Arabic shew that it means an ornament of beads or jewels strung together. Probably it is the ‛iqd or necklace described and figured by Lane, Modern Egyptians, vol. II. p. 319. He says the necklaces mostly worn by ladies are of diamonds or pearls.Verses 10, 11. - Thy cheeks are comely with plaits of hair, thy neck with strings of jewels. We will make thee plaits of gold with studs of silver. This language may be suggested by the comparison first employed - the trappings of the horse. "The head frame of the horse's bridle and the poitral were then certainly, just as now, adorned with silken tassels, fringes, and other ornaments of silver. Torim, 'round ornaments,' which hang down in front on both sides of the headband or are also inwoven in the braids of hair in the forehead." The strings of jewels were necklaces - three rows of pearls. The ornamentation is, however, quite in accordance with female dress. The king makes the promise of gold and silver decoration as an expression of his personal delight in his bride and acceptance of her. Gold and silver were closely connected; hence silver was called, in the Old Egyptian language, "white gold." The idea seems to be that of silver points sprinkled over golden knobs. Compare the description in 'Faust' of Margaret's delight in the casket she finds in her room. The LXX. and Vulgate have mistaken the word torim for a similar word for "doves," taking the simile to be the beautiful colours of the dove's neck. The bride does not seem to reply immediately to the king; but we may suppose that the king takes his bride by the hand, and leads her into the banqueting chamber. But the next three verses, which are certainly in the lips of the bride, may be taken as her expression of delight in her husband, either while he feasts in the banquet or when it is over. The banquet is a familiar emblem of the delight of mutual love. Hence the feasts of love in the primitive Church were regarded, not only as seasons of fellowship between Christians, but times of rejoicing, when the soul entered into the full appreciation of the Saviour's presence.
4 Draw me, so will we run after thee.
All recent interpreters (except Bttcher) translate, like Luther, "Draw me after thee, so we run." Thus also the Targ., but doubtfully: Trahe nos post te et curremus post viam bonitatis tuae. But the accentuation which gives Tiphcha to משׁ requires the punctuation to be that adopted by the Peshito and the Vulg., and according to which the passage is construed by the Greeks (except, perhaps, by the Quinta): Draw me, so will we, following thee, run (vid., Dachselt, Biblia Accentuata, p. 983 s.). In reality, this word needs no complement: of itself it already means, one drawing towards, or to himself; the corresponding (Arab.) masak signifies, prehendere prehensumque tenere; the root is מש, palpare, contrectare. It occurs also elsewhere, in a spiritual connection, as the expression of the gentle drawing of love towards itself (Hosea 11:4; Jeremiah 31:3); cf. ἑλκύειν, John 6:44; John 12:32. If one connects "after thee" with "draw me," then the expression seems to denote that a certain violence is needed to bring the one who is drawn from her place; but if it is connected with "we will run," then it defines the desire to run expressed by the cohortative, more nearly than a willing obedience or following. The whole chorus, continuing the solo, confesses that there needs only an indication of his wish, a direction given, to make those who here speak eager followers of him whom they celebrate.
In what follows, this interchange of the solo and the unisono is repeated:
4b If the king has brought me into his chambers,
So will we exult and rejoice in thee.
We will praise thy love more than wine!
Uprightly have they loved thee.
The cohortative נרוּצה (we will run) was the apodosis imperativi; the cohortatives here are the apodosis perfecti hypothetici. "Suppose that this has happened," is oftener expressed by the perf. (Psalm 57:7; Proverbs 22:29; Proverbs 25:16); "suppose that this happens," by the fut. (Job 20:24; Ewald, 357b). חדרי are the interiora domus; the root word hhādǎr, as the Arab. khadar shows, signifies to draw oneself back, to hide; the hhěděr of the tent is the back part, shut off by a curtain from the front space. Those who are singing are not at present in this innermost chamber. But if the king brings one of them in (הביא, from בּוא, introire, with acc. loci), then - they all say - we will rejoice and be glad in thee. The cohortatives are better translated by the fut. than by the conjunctive (exultemus); they express as frequently not what they then desire to do, but what they then are about to do, from inward impulse, with heart delight. The sequence of ideas, "exult" and "rejoice," is not a climax descendens, but, as Psalm 118:24, etc., an advance from the external to the internal, - from jubilation which can be feigned, to joy of heart which gives it truth; for שׂמח - according to its root signification: to be smoothed, unwrinkled, to be glad
(Note: Vid., Friedr. Delitzsch's Indo-german.-sem. Studien (1873), p. 99f.)
- means to be of a joyful, bright, complaisant disposition; and גּיל, cogn. חיל, to turn (wind) oneself, to revolve, means conduct betokening delight. The prep. ב in verbs of rejoicing, denotes the object on account of which, and in which, one has joy. Then, if admitted into the closest neighbourhood of the king, they will praise his love more than wine. זכר denotes to fix, viz., in the memory; Hiph.: to bring to remembrance, frequently in the way of praise, and thus directly equivalent to celebrare, e.g., Psalm 45:18. The wine represents the gifts of the king, in contradistinction to his person. That in inward love he gives himself to them, excels in their esteem all else he gives. For, as the closing line expresses, "uprightly they love thee," - viz. they love thee, i.e., from a right heart, which seeks nothing besides, and nothing with thee; and a right mind, which is pleased with thee, and with nothing but thee. Heiligstedt, Zckler, and others translate: with right they love thee. But the pluralet. מישׁרים (from מישׁר, for which the sing. מישׁור occurs) is an ethical conception (Proverbs 1:3), and signifies, not: the right of the motive, but: the rightness of the word, thought, and act (Proverbs 23:16; Psalm 17:2; Psalm 58:2); thus, not: jure; but: recte, sincere, candide. Hengst., Thrupp, and others, falsely render this word like the lxx, Aquil., Symm., Theod., Targ., Jerome, Venet., and Luther, as subject: rectitudes abstr. for concr. equals those who have rectitude, the upright. Hengstenberg's assertion, that the word never occurs as in adv., is set aside by a glance at Psalm 58:2; Psalm 75:3; and, on the other hand, there is no passage in which it is sued as abstr. pro concr. It is here, as elsewhere, an adv. acc. for which the word בּמישׁרים might also be used.
The second pentastich closes similarly with the first, which ended with "love thee." What is there said of this king, that the virgins love him, is here more generalized; for diligunt te is equivalent to diligeris (cf. Sol 8:1, Sol 8:7). With these words the table-song ends. It is erotic, and yet so chaste and delicate, - it is sensuous, and yet so ethical, that here, on the threshold, we are at once surrounded as by a mystical cloudy brightness. But how is it to be explained that Solomon, who says (Proverbs 27:2), "Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth," begins this his Song of Songs with a song in praise of himself? It is explained from this, that here he celebrates an incident belonging to the happy beginning of his reign; and for him so far fallen into the past, although not to be forgotten, that what he was and what he now is are almost as two separate persons.
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