The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for you, O my beloved.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Mandrakes.—Heb. dûdaîm = love-apples. Suggested probably by the word loves immediately preceding, as well as the qualities ascribed to the plant, for which see Note, Genesis 30:14.Song of Solomon 7:13. The mandrakes — This Hebrew word is used Genesis 30:14-15, and the signification of it is very much doubted and disputed by interpreters. The word here signifies sweet and pleasant flowers, and therefore if it be understood of mandrakes, they were of another sort than ours, as flowers of the same kind, in several climates, have very different natures and qualities. At our gates — Brought thither by divers persons to congratulate our nuptials. New and old fruits — Fruits of this year and of the former; which seems to be meant of the various fruits and operations of the Spirit, and degrees of grace in several believers.
gates—the entrance to the kiosk or summer house. Love "lays up" the best of everything for the person beloved (1Co 10:31; Php 3:8; 1Pe 4:11), thereby really, though unconsciously, laying up for itself (1Ti 6:18, 19).Mandrakes: this Hebrew word is used Genesis 30:14,15, and the signification of it is very much doubted and disputed by interpreters; of which see my Latin Synopsis on that place. But this is certain, that the word signifies sweet and pleasant flowers; and therefore if it be understood of mandrakes, they were of another sort than ours, as it is no unusual thing for flowers of the same kind in several climates to have very differing natures and qualities.
At our gates; either,
1. Growing there upon the walls, or in gardens, or orchards, near the door of our dwellinghouse. Or rather,
2. Brought thither by divers persons to congratulate and adorn our nuptials, or laid up for our entertainment, as may be gathered from the nature of the fruits, which were not only new, and growing, but also old, and laid up, as it here follows.
Fruits new and old; fruits of this year and of the former, that the variety might delight; which seems to be spiritually meant of the various fruits and operations of the Spirit and degrees of grace in several believers.
Which I have laid up for thee; which have been produced by my ministry for thy service and glory. Jeremiah 24:1; and to his sense Heidegger (i) agrees; only he thinks the word "branches" is not to be restrained to a particular species, but may signify branches of sweet smelling flowers, and fruits in general. Ludolphus (k) would have the fruit the Arabians, call "mauz", or "muza", intended; which, in the Abyssine country, is as big as a cucumber, and of the same form and shape, fifty of which grow upon one and the same stalk, and are of a very sweet taste and smell; from which cognation of a great many on the same stalk he thinks it took the name of "dudaim", the word here used, and in Genesis 30:14. But the generality of interpreters and commentators understand by it the mandrakes; and so it is rendered by the Septuagint, and in both the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, on Genesis 30:14; but it is questionable whether the same plant that is known among us by that name is meant, since it is of a strong ill scented and offensive smell; and so Pliny says (l) of it: though Dioscorides, Levinus, Lemnius (m), and Augustine (n) (who says he saw the plant and examined it), say it is of a very sweet smell; which though it does not agree with the plant that now bears the name, yet it does with that here intended; for though it is only said to give a smell, no doubt a good one is meant, and such Reuben's mandrakes gave. And by them here may be intended, either the saints and people of God, compared to them for their fragrancy, being clad with the garments of Christ, which smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia, and are anointed with the savoury ointments of the grace of the Spirit; whose prayers are sweet odours; and their works, with their persons, accepted with God in Christ: or rather the graces of the Spirit in lively exercise may be meant; such as those lovely flowers of faith, hope, love, repentance, patience, self-denial, humility, thankfulness, and others;
and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits; in distinction from the mandrakes and flowers in the fields Genesis 30:14; and in allusion to a custom, in many countries, to garnish the posts of the door of newly married persons with branches of trees, and fruits, and flowers; and at other festivals, besides nuptial ones (o), which made it inviting to enter in: and these "all manner of pleasant fruits" may denote the plenty, variety, and excellency of the blessings of grace, and of the graces of the Spirit, believers have from Christ; and of the doctrines and ordinances of the Gospel, which are for their use; and may be said to be "at our gates", as being ready at hand, in the hearts of saints, and in the mouths of Gospel ministers; and open and visible, held forth to public view in the word and ordinances; and which are administered at Wisdom's gates, the gates of Zion, where they are to be met with and had. And which are
new and old; denoting the plenty of grace and blessings of it, of old laid up in Christ, and from whom there are fresh supplies continually: or rather the doctrines of the Old and New Testament; which, for matter and substance, are the same; and with which the church, and particularly her faithful ministers, being furnished, bring forth out of their treasure things new and old, Matthew 13:52;
which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved; Christ, whom her soul loved; for though the above fruits, the blessings, promises, and doctrines of grace, which she laid up in her heart, mind, and memory, to bring forth and make use of at proper times and seasons, were for her own use and benefit, and of all believers, yet in all for the honour and glory of Christ, the author and donor of them. Respect may be had to a custom with lovers, to lay up fruits for those they love; at least such custom may be compared with this (p).
(g) Pfeiffer. Dubia Vexata, cent. 1. loc. 59. p. 79. (h) Dissert. de Dudaim. (i) Hist. Patriarch. tom. 2. exercit. 19. s. 9, 15. (k) Hist. Ethiop. l. 1. c. 9. (l) Nat. Hist. l. 25. c. 13. (m) Herb. Bibl. Explic. l. 2.((n) Contr. Faustum, l. 22. c. 56. (o) Vid. Plutarch. Amator. vol. 2. p. 755. & Barthium ad Claudian. de Nupt. Honor. v. 208. "Longos erexit janua ramos", Juvenal. Satyr. 12. v. 91. "Necte coronam postibus", Satyr. 6. v. 51, 52. "Ornantur postes", v. 79. "Ornatas paulo ante fores", &c. v. 226, 227. "Junua laureata", Tertull. ad Uxor. l. 2. c. 6. (p) "----Sunt poma gravantia ramos Sunt auro similes longis in vitibus uvae, Sunt et purpureae, tibi et has servamus et ilias". Ovid. Metamorph. l. 13. Fab. 8.The mandrakes give a smell, and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)13. The mandrakes give a smell] Heb. had-dûdhâ îm (LXX, οἱ μανδραγόραι), lit. ‘love plants.’ The mandrake is fully described in Tristram, Nat. Hist. pp. 466 ff. It belongs to the family of plants to which the potato belongs. The flowers are cup-shaped, of a rich purple colour. The fruit has a peculiar but decidedly not unpleasant smell, and a pleasant, sweet taste. In Groser’s Script. Nat. Hist., Mariti is quoted to the following effect: “The fruit when ripe, in the beginning of May, is of the size and colour of a small apple, exceedingly ruddy and of a most agreeable odour. Our guide thought us fools for suspecting it to be unwholesome. He ate it freely himself, and it is generally valued by the inhabitants as exhilarating their spirits.” It is mentioned here as denoting the time of year, May, the time of the wheat harvest, or for its pleasant smell, not, as in Genesis 30:14-16, as an aphrodisiac.
and at our gates are all manner of pleasant fruits] Rather, over our doors. This would seem to indicate that in village houses it was the custom to lay up fruits on shelves or in cupboards placed above the doorways.
pleasant fruits] or, as R.V., precious fruits. Cp. ch. Song of Solomon 4:13; Song of Solomon 4:16.
which I have laid up] This relative clause refers to the old fruits, as the new fruits were only now ripening. If Solomon were the bridegroom it is difficult to see how the shepherdess could have laid up fruits for him, as she had not been home since he carried her away.Verse 13. - The mandrakes give forth fragrance, and at our doors are all manner of precious fruits, new and old, which I have laid up for thee, O my beloved. The dudhai after the form Lulai, and connected probably with דּוד, are the "love flowers," the Mandragora officinalis (Linn.), whitish-green in colour, with yellow apples about the size of nutmegs; they belong to the order of Solanaceae, and both fruits and roots were employed as aphrodisiac, to promote love. We are, of course, reminded of Genesis 30:14, where the LXX. has, μὴλα, μανδραγορῶν, when the son of Leah found mandrakes in vintage time. They produce their effect by their powerful and pleasant fragrance. They are said to be only rarely found in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, but they were abundant in. Galilee, where Shulamith was brought up. The Arabs called them abd-el-sal'm, "servant of love" - postillon d'amour. We are not wrong in using that which is perfectly natural and simple for the cherishing and increasing of devout feeling. The three elements which coexist in true spiritual life are thought, feeling, and action. They support one another. A religion which is all impulse and emotion soon wears itself out, and is apt to end in spiritual vacuity and paralysis; but when thought and activity hold up and strengthen and guide feeling, then it is scarcely possible to endanger the soul. The heart should go out to Christ in a simple but fervent worship, especially in praise. There are no Christians who are more ready to devote themselves to good works than those who delight much in hearty and happy spiritual songs.
7 Thy stature is like the palm tree;
And thy breasts clusters.
8 I:thought: I will climb the palm,
Grasp its branches;
And thy breasts shall be to me
As clusters of the vine,
And the breath of thy nose like apples,
Shulamith stands before him. As he surveys her from head to foot, he finds her stature like the stature of a slender, tall date-palm, and her breasts like the clusters of sweet fruit, into which, in due season its blossoms are ripened. That קומתך (thy stature) is not thought of as height apart from the person, but as along with the person (cf. Ezekiel 13:18), scarcely needs to be remarked. The palm derives its name, tāmār, from its slender stem rising upwards (vid., under Isaiah 17:9; Isaiah 61:6). This name is specially given to the Phoenix dactylifera, which is indigenous from Egypt to India, and which is principally cultivated (vid., under Genesis 14:7), the female flowers of which, set in panicles, develope into large clusters of juicy sweet fruit. These dark-brown or golden-yellow clusters, which crown the summit of the stem and impart a wonderful beauty to the appearance of the palm, especially when seen in the evening twilight, are here called אשׁוכלות (connecting form at Deuteronomy 32:32), as by the Arabians 'ithkal, plur. 'ithakyl (botri dactylorum). The perf. דּמתה signifies aequata est equals aequa est; for דּמה, R. דם, means, to make or to become plain, smooth, even. The perf. אמרתּי, on the other hand, will be meant retrospectively. As an expression of that which he just now purposed to do, it would be useless; and thus to notify with emphasis anything beforehand is unnatural and contrary to good taste and custom. But looking back, he can say that in view of this august attractive beauty the one thought filled him, to secure possession of her and of the enjoyment which she promised; as one climbs (עלה with בּ, as Psalm 24:3) a palm tree and seizes (אחז, fut. אחז, and אאחז with בּ, as at Job 23:11) its branches (סנסנּים, so called, as it appears,
(Note: Also that סנסן is perhaps equivalent to סלסל (זלזל, תלתל), to wave hither and thither, comes here to view.)
after the feather-like pointed leaves proceeding from the mid-rib on both sides), in order to break off the fulness of the sweet fruit under its leaves. As the cypress (sarwat), so also the palm is with the Moslem poets the figure of a loved one, and with the mystics, of God;
(Note: Vid., Hfiz, ed. Brockhaus, 2 Peter 46.)
and accordingly the idea of possession is here particularly intended. ויהיוּ־נא denotes what he then thought and aimed at. Instead of בּתּמר, Sol 7:9, the punctuation בּתּמר is undoubtedly to be preferred. The figure of the palm tree terminates with the words, "will grasp its branches." It was adequate in relation to stature, but less so in relation to the breasts; for dates are of a long oval form, and have a stony kernel. Therefore the figure departs from the date clusters to that of grape clusters, which are more appropriate, as they swell and become round and elastic the more they ripen. The breath of the nose, which is called אף, from breathing hard, is that of the air breathed, going in and out through it; for, as a rule, a man breathes through his nostrils with closed mouth. Apples present themselves the more naturally for comparison, that the apple has the name תּפּוּח (from נפח, after the form תּמכוּף), from the fragrance which it exhales.
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