Imatges de pÓgina
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which had darted his full beams' upon her'. For though the natives of Egypt are generally dark, and far southward toward Ethiopia, almost black ’; yet those of high' tank being protected from the sun are pretty fair,' and would be reckoned such even in Britain. Mr. HARMER conceives the complexion of this princess might have been spoiled by her journey to Judea ; but this appears to me very improbable. The sacred poet clearly attributes it to the anger of her brothers, who, perhaps piqued at her superior talents, or offended with

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• The sun hath beamed on me.'-- This word (910), which is evidently poetic, is used only in two other passages, both in Job, where I think it will scarcely bear any other rendering than I have given it. Chap. xx. 9. • The eye • which beamed on him shall not add' (to beam on him :] i. e. shall beam on him no more. Chap. xxviii. 7. · The

vulture's eye hath not beamed on it.'- Mr. PARKHURST says "glanced ;' but that term is too weak to express such an action of the sun as materially tans the complexion.

2 . Because I am black.'--Some critics have suggested that the spouse was literally a black, the daughter of an Ethiopian woman : but 1. This agrees not with her own account, that her complexion was occasioned by exposure to

2. It agrees not with the subsequent description that her cheeks were like the pomegranate, &c. 3. There is no ground for it in the text; the term black, applied to the countenance, its other texts not intending absolute but comparative and adventitious blackness--the effect of grief, famine, &c.

The original word here is the same as in the preceding verses, only rendered more emphatical by the reduplication of the two last radicals (77777777W) valde fusca,' Bochart. • Prorsus, vel valde, et tota nigra,' Markius, Michaelis. So Gill- very black.' See (in Heb.) Ps. xlv. 5. Prov.

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her religion', had occasioned her being sent to a more southerly part of the country, where she had neglected her personal charms, and, by exposure to the sun, become very swarthy. One of those revolutions common in eastern courts, where every thing usually depends on the caprice of the prince, or of his favourite, might occasion her recal; the beauty of her features might on this occasion be the more remarked ; and reaching the ears of the king of Israel, together with her conversion, might lay the foundation of her future fortune.

That she was sent to keep vineyards need not be literally taken. Her meaning may be, that she was sent to reside among them, as if she had been employed in á menial capacity -as a keeper of the vineyards; or, it is probable, she might have the care and management of some infant sisters, and thus have been the guardian of their beauty, while she neglected

And this may be intended by her vineyard, as being the natural object of a vir

a gin's care; since the Jews by this term usually intend whatever is a person's proper duty or employment?. It is possible, however, the words may admit a literal interpretation, for

In the preliminary essays (page 59) I have hinted the probability that this lady was a proselyte to the Jewish religion; and if we allow ourselves to suppose her conversion to have taken place early in life, it will very sufficiently account for the anger and resentment of her brothers; and the report of this circumstance afterward would be a powerful lecommendation to the court of Solomon.

% See Bp. Patrick's Paraphrase, and Mr. Binnel in Bp. Percy. So, Dr. Gill remarks, Horace calls his own works, Vineta.'-Epist. 1. lib, öi.

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she had a vineyard of her own, and might have superintended it herself, before she let it out to keepers'.

Let us now consider the allegorical application of the passage.

Most commentators have referred this to moral defilement. The TARGUM applies it to the idolatry of the golden calf by the Israelites, that then their faces became • as black · as the Ethiopians, who dwell in the tents of Kedar;' but afterwards, on repentance and forgiveness, • beautiful and bright as those of angels.' And St. AUGUSTINE says, the church, is ' black by nature, and beautiful by 'grace. But these applications are evidently

' contrary to the text, which supposes the blackness here spoken of to be, not natural, but acquired and adventitious; and at the same time consistent with her beauty-black but ' comely.'

The ancient book of ZOHAR explains this blackness much better of a state of captivity or slavery: black with grief, mourning and astonishment. So David in his mourning was black all the day long;' and Jeremiah was black with grief and sorrow). There is perhaps in this expression a distant allusion to the state of Israel in Egypt (a circumstance not unlikely to be known to Pharoah's daughter) when they were reduced to the vilest servitude, exposed to the fiercest sun-beams, and at the

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1 Chap. viii. 12.

In all languages black signifies any thing that is sad, dismal, cruel, or unfortunate. Daubuz in Rev. vi.

5. 3 Psal. xxxviii. 6. in Heb. Jer. viii. 21. xiv. 2. See alsa Job, xxx. 30. Joel, ii. 6. Nah. ii. 10.

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same time, mourning under their affliction. So in Psalm lxviii', Mr. HARMER thinks there is a comparison between Israel and those doves, which, resorting to the caves where the shepherds make their fires, are blackened with the smoke; where there is an opposition somewhat similar in the terms—though ye are black with having lain among the pots, yet shall ye be beautiful as the sacred doves of Syria, covered with silver and with gold.'The blackness in this case, it may be observed, was occasioned by the heat of fire, as in the other by the sun-beams.

This blackness being attributed to the force of the sun-beams, reminds us of our Lord's parable of the sower', in which he compares the heat of persecution to that of the sun. And these circumstances laid together, I think, lead us to explain the blackness of the church, of her sufferings by “tribulation and persecu* tion, which may very properly be attributed to the envy and anger of her elder brethren of the world“; for as Cain to Abel, so is the world the elder brother of the church.

This complexion is also perfectly consistent with her beauty ; for, though despicable in the eyes of the world, the church never suffered any thing in her real excellency, and acceptableness in the sight of God, by persecution or affliction. Indeed, when most black

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1 Ver. 13.

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* Observations on Passages of Scripture, vol. III. No. 17.
Matt, xiii. 5, 21.

See Luke, xv. 25.
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in this respect, she has generally been most amiable in herself, and in the esteem of her heavenly bridegroom.

The manner in which the bride accounts for her complexion, and apologises to the daughters of Jerusalem, merits a remark. She concedes willingly, that she was dark, and was apprehensive that to others she might appear even very black; but she justifies herself as innocent of the cause it was the fault of her enemies, not

If this were applied to moral defilement it were unaccountable; God forbid we should make apologies for sin! But applied to tribulation and persecution it is easy, natural, and just. However the state of the church, and of believers, may, render tribulation or persecution necessary, it is not for evil-doing, but for well-doing, that they are called to suffer from the world ; and they may with a good conscience justify themselves in this respect; of which we have many instances in the Scriptures.

As the beauty of the church is so fully considered in the sequel, there scems no necessity for enlarging here. The phrase, 'mine

own vineyard have I not kept,' is a concession, in whatever way

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be taken, that she had been guilty of negligence: a concession always seasonable and in character : for though the church is persecuted for her virtues, and not her crimes; yet as we said, it is the negligence and languor of the church, which is the occasion of her being brought into such circumstances, to refine and purify her.

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