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doves her hair, for its sleekness and abundance, to a flock of goats from Gilead'-and her teeth, for their whiteness, evenness, and uniformity, to a shorn flock-to a flock of ewes bearing twins, and none coming before their time”.
Her lips also he compares to scarlet threads, and commends her speech as agreeable and charming.
The next article of the comparison is more difficult to adjust. If we were to preserve the common version, • thy temples within thy
locks,' we might say the forehead was divided by the locks of hair into compartments like those of the pomegranate ; but I confess myself satisfied that the word for the temples : must, as learned men have observed, include, or rather intend, the cheeks, which are always a prominent object in the description of female beauty;
The word mount is onnitted in several MSS. the LXX, and Arabic, as in chap. vi. 5. Its omission makes a very slight variation in the original, and its insertion rather clogs and obscures the verse, the sense of which is at best equivocal. Either, 1. Up froin Gilead to Jerusalem means from the country to the capital, as from Highgate up to London--so Percy; or 2. from the lower to the higher parts of the mountainBochart and Patrick ; or 3. the words may perhaps be rendered, which shine (or browse) upon Mount Gilead, covering it from bottom to top-Dr. Hunt. Gilead appears to have been a place famous for pasturage, and probably they used to sheer sheep at the bottom of it.
Some expositors suppose the hair and teeth are compared to the hair of goats and teeth of sheep; the similarity may be exact enough, but this idea is far from natural or elegant.
Bp. Percy follows Le Clerc in rendering van simply twins, and now orba, deprived, as in Jer. xviii. 21.– all • of them twins, and none hath lost its fellow.' New Trans.
77127, Mynov cou, LXX-Genæ tuæ; Vulgate, Pagninus, Cocceius.
and the comparison of these to the flower of the pomegranate' is, according to Sir W. Jones, a common image in Asiatic poetry. Farther, if the bridal veil of the Hebrew ladies was like that of the Persians’, made of red silk or muslin, it would throw a glow over the whole countenance, that will account more fully for this comparison.-If my reader, however, adheres to our translators in rendering it'a piece,' or section of the pomegranate, it may be re
' marked that the fruit itself, when cut open,
is red, as well as the blossom.
The spouse's neck, adorned with necklaces, is compared to the tower of David, which was built for an armory, hung with shields and bucklers. Of this tower we know nothing certain, but that from the comparison it must have been tall, slender, erect, and elegant. Such the house of the forest of Lebanon is supposed to have been, which was furnished with many hundred shields and targets of beaten gold“,
I'mba, Eruptio floris, Simonis : Balaustium, Guarini. As ! the opening blossom of the pomegranate.' Patrick after Castell, and Henley in Lowth's Lect.
2 The bridal veil of the Persian ladies was of red silk or muslin, (called by the Greeks kavos, and by the Romans flammeum.) Such was Rebecca's veil (vs) Gen. xxiv. 65. and the nisen, Isa. iii. 19, according to Schroeder.
Orient. Col. vol. I. p. 125.
3 • Thy cheeks are as a piece of a pomegranate,' which when cut up is of a beautiful vermilion.--Dr. Durell. • Like ! a slice of a pomegranate are thy cheeks.' Dr. Hodgson. See 2 Chron. ix. 16. comp. with Isa. xxii. 8. Mr. Sandys
2 says, this tower of David was a high tower, in the utmost angle of a mountain, whose ruins are still extant.' As the Jews built with white stone or marble, this has been supposed a compliment to the spouse's complexion.-But see note on chap. vii. 4.
intended no doubt to do honour to those brave men who signalized themselves in the defence of their country. The metaphor intimates that, thus adorned, her appearance was brilliant and captivating, and her charms as potent as the armour of the warrior.
The description closes with the breasts, which are compared to twin fauns of the antelope or gazel, feeding among the lilies. BOCHART',
, and others, explain this of the nipples upon the bosom, like young gazels in the corn-fields, where the lilies were wont to grow: but I have my doubts whether any thing more is intended than to describe them as beautiful, and elegant in form, like those lovely animals; which appear to be a favourite object of comparison with the writer, not only in this song, but also in the book of Proverbs, where he recommends fidelity to the marriage covenant in these figurative terms Rejoice with the wife of thy youth. Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe ; let her breasts satisfy thee at all times, and be thou ravished with her love?.'
In the concluding verse the king compares his bride to a mountain of myrrh, or hill of frankincense, alluding to those fragrant groves of spices which were to be found in that coun.
i 'Hierozoic. tom. I. b. iii. c. 24. 2 Chap. v. 19.
try'; and implying the same sentiment expressed in a subsequent chapter, concerning the beloved. His mouth is most sweet, yea,
he • is altogether lovely.' In this verse is also an allusion to the chorus in a preceding chapter, where the beloved is compared to an antelope, (as he has just compared the breasts of the spouse to its twin fauns) and he intimates in reply, that as the antelope flies to the mountains, so would he hie to the arms of his bride; and as she had expressed her desire, until the
day breathe and the shades flee away,” he would solace himself in her chaste embraces?
The whole of the above description comprizes maturity, health, portliness, and beauty; which are the general ideas suggested by the imagery, and might each be a little amplified without the violation of propriety or indecorum ; but it is here unnecessary, as they all ocçur separately in different passages of the poem : I shall only therefore suggest a few
* It is said of Pompey the Great, that when he passed over Lebanon, and by Damascus, he passed through sweet-smelling groves and woods of frankincense and balsam. Florus de gest. de Rom. 1. 3. c. 5.
The eastern poets, supposing angels not to be intelligences, feign that they have bodies of musk and amber, an image very similar to this of Solomon. See Harmer on Sol. Song, p. 290
The vaú (1) in the last line of this verse rendered and, is omitted in nearly sixty MSS. but is found in the LXX.
2 This may seem hardly consistent with what is observed above, of the new married pair being separate, after the first night, during the remainder of the nuptial week; but perhaps that custom might not be so rigid as to admit no exception, especially when the bridegroom was a sovereign prince.
hints on some particular branches of the description.
Fine hair was not only an esteemed beauty among the Hebrews (witness the instance of Absolom) but was considered as a natural veil, and in married women, a sign of subjection to the matrimonial yoke'. This applies to the church; for as the husband is the head of the wife,' even so is - Christ the head of the church;' and as wives should be in subjection • to their own husbands,' so should the church be subject unto Christ in all things.?
We have already considered the graces of the Spirit as the ornaments of the church, more precious than gold or silver, or precious stones. It seems from the figurative language here used, that these female ornaments were often wrought in the shape of shields and bucklers; as, among us, the ladies wear jewels in the form of hearts and anchors. These significant ornaments, wrought in the necklace, would give the female neck the appearance of what poetry would call, a little armory: and in these ornaments we may farther trace the resemblance of the Christian graces. The golden shields of faith adorn the neck of the church, and of the be. liever. And, as it has been hinted that these golden shields and bucklers were hung up in the tower of David in honour of his worthies, and to excite others to similar achievements : so hath the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews exhibited the shields, (i. e. the faith) of Old Tess
1 Corxi. 15.