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They made me keeper of the vineyard,' they put me to base and laborious servitude. This has been often literally true in times of persecution. Israel, in Egypt, were enjoined to make bricks even without straw; and allowed no time for their own rest, or the service of their God. And in the Christian church many confessors and martyrs have been put to labour in the mines, or at the gallies, without the least mercy or indulgence; and innumerable others forbidden the worship of their God. They have kept the vineyard of others, but have not been suffered to attend their own.
The words admit a farther practical application. It too often happens, that persons in public characters, either magistrates or teachers, who are faithful and active in their charge, neglect their own personal interest-I mean in a moral and religious view. They keep the vineyards of others—they guard their morals and direct their piety—but they deprive themselves of their seasons of retirement - they neglect their personal devotions - and thus, , while they are in the constant habits of doing good to others, they neglect themselves—they keep the vineyard of others and neglect their own. This is a proper subject for confession and regret:
This section concludes with an apostrophe to the beloved, and the reply of the virgins ; both in the language of pastoral poetry.
8. Spouse. Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where
thou feedest ? Where thou causest (thy flock] to rest at noon? For why should I bę as a stranger
Among the flocks of thy companions? Virgins. If thou thyself knowest not, o most beautiful
of women, Go thy way forth by the footsteps of.this flock, And feed thy kids among the tents of these
shepherds. On these verses, in a literal sense, we may remark,
1. The pastoral images employed. I have already observed the analogy between the regal and pastoral offices, and have supposed that the allusions made to the latter refer literally to the exercise of government, and administration of justice'; if so the resting at noon will signify the relaxation of public business, and the luxury (for such it must be to wise and good princes) of retirement and privacy. The language of the bride then is an enquiry, in the passionate manner of apostrophe, where the king was, and whether employed in public or in private. • If he be, like a good shepherd feeding his flock, administering public benefits, and dispensing judg
ment, why should not I enjoy the common • benefit? If he be indulging in retirement, why may not I, who am admitted as his wife, enjoy his company and conversation ?'
The translation of this verse is so difficult, that I feel myself diffident and undecided; and shall therefore include both the renderings
in the margin, as consistent in the general idea, though I have preferred in the version, that which appeared to me the most natural and easy!
It should seem necessary, however, in the first place, to settle the meaning of the expression, “By the flocks of thy companions. appears that eastern marriages were frequently celebrated in tents, which on grand occasions were doubtless superb and numerous ?: pastoral language converts these into the tents of shepherds, and the attendants into sheep. In this
If the original word [iroy] be derived from the root [oy), to hurry or drive away (as I consider the roots of three radicals with final He originally the saine with those of two radicals without He], the sense will be nearly that of our translators one that turneth aside,' wandereth, or is driven away [hy] to, beyond or among the flocks of thy companions. So the Targum, Kimchi, Dathe, &c.
But Michaelis, Piscator, Coccius, Martinus, &c. chuse to follow the Septuagint, who have rendered it (wegibuhoMeyvm) veiled, (deriving it regularly from (moy) to cover, veil, i. e. cast something hastily, and loosely over a person ;] the meaning will then be, ' Why should I be overlooked, neg• lected, as if I was not one of the flock of thy companions,
that is, one of thy wives?' The veil was also in one case a mark of widowhood, and in ancther of harlotry; it may therefore be explained, · Why should I appear as a widow, or an harlot, rather than be treated as a lawful wife?''
A learned friend suspects that the compound particle (nasu) for why, should be taken as the proper name “Solo
mon, the letters being the same (and De Rossi suspects the pointing to be wrong)-in which case the verse would read thus :
· Solomon, shall I be as a stranger?' &c. but as this wants authority, though I admire the spirit of this version, I have not ventured to adopt it.
Hariner on Sol. Song, p. 201.
view the words import, Why should I be • forsaken and neglected by him, as if I had • belonged to another shepherd, that is, to some • of the princes or nobles encamped around?' If we prefer the other rendering, "Why
• should I appear as one veiled-considering the veil as a token of widowhood', or harlotryo; then the expression means, “Why should I appear as a widow, or be treated as an hárlot, when I am the bride of Solomon.'
The mention of the shepherds tents,' in the following verse, shews that shepherds when they met with good pasturage used to pitch their tents; and there they generally continued till the want of fresh pasturage led them farther: and the supposition of the shepherd retiring with his flock to rest at noon, is perfectly agreeable to the eastern manners. PLATO 3 speaks of sheep nooning themselves, and VIRGIL * informs us that the shepherds usually retired with their flocks to some shady retreat at the fourth hour, or two hours before
2. The reply of the virgins demands our next attention, it comprizes these directionsseek him in the way himself hath marked out-follow him in the traces of his flockwait for him among the tents of his shepherds.
This idea strikes out an easy and simple
i Gen. xxxviii. 14. 3 Phædrus,'
• Ezek. xxiv. 17, 22.
Georg. lib. ii.
method of allegorizing this section, which may suggest several natural and useful remarks, without the danger of losing ourselves in wanton or unintelligible fancies. 1. We remark the office of Christ as a SHEP
So under the Old Testament, Messiah was designated by this character: “Awake, () * sword, against my SHEPHERD, against the
man that is my fellow (or companion) saith the · LORD of Hosts '.' He claims himself the character of the good shepherd ?,' and he is styled, by the different writers of the New Testament, the great shepherd, the chief shepherd, the shepherd and bishop of our souls; and he well answers to every part of the shepherd's character. Does it require knowledge, care, attention? He says, ' I know my sheep, I * call thein by their names, they hear my
voice and follow me.'-Does it imply defence, support, protection ? • The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He leadeth me
green pastures, beside the still waters.' * He restoreth my soul : yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for thou art with me; thy ' rod and thy staff, they shall comfort me.'Does this office require tenderness and affec-, tion ? · He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs in his bosom, and carry
them in his arms, and gently lead those that are with young.'— I am (saith he)