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present state. The golden objects of our vision present themselves we embrace them, and they vanish.
This world's a dream, an empty show;
• When shall I wake and find me there?'
This will apply even to spiritual enjoyments. When the Lord turned again the captivity of 'Zion, we were like them that dream,' says the Psalmist. And how true is this in the experience of the Christian! Our brightest views of the divine glory are as imperfect and transient as a vision. While we enjoy these divine comforts we begin to doubt them--and what is the vision when withdrawn?
The repetition of the chorus shews the conclusion of another scene-another day-and, with us, another section. But with what beauty or connection is it here introduced? She had dreamed of being in the company of her beloved, she supposes him still in her embraces, and she deprecates the loss of his presence. But I cannot forbear here introducing a few more lines from my favourite commentator--WATTS.
Chap. iii. Ver. 6—11.
1st Virgin. What is this rising from the wilderness, like columns of smoke,
Fuming with myrrh, and frankincense,
More [precious] than all the powders of the merchant?
2d Virgin. Behold! Solomon's own palanquin!
Threescore warriors surround it, the warriors
Every one having a sword, being skilled in war;
1st Virgin. A carriage hath he made for himself,
Even Solomon the king, of the wood of Lebanon.
2d Virgin. Go forth, ye daughters of Zion, and view King Solomon,
In the crown wherewith his mother crowned
In the day of his espousals,
In the day of the gladness of his heart.
THIS section, like the preceding, seems not well to admit of division.
A grand scene now opens upon our view. The royal palanquin is seen coming up from the wilderness-i. e. from Egypt, which lay beyond the wilderness. To render this scene
Its cushion-the same word 2 is used for a seat, or saddle to ride on, Levit. xv. 9. It is properly, I think, the seat of a carriage.—Beds, i. e. carpets of gold and silver are mentioned, Esther i. 6.
intelligible, it may be necessary to give some account of the kind of carriage here introduced, and explain the other parts of the poetical imagery, before we attempt any spiritual application.
The use of perfumes at eastern marriages is common, and, upon grand occasions, very profuse. Not only are the garments scented till, in the Psalmist's language, they smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia:' but it is customary for virgins to meet and lead the procession with silver-gilt pots of perfumes; and sometimes even the air around is rendered fragrant by the burning of aromatics in the windows of all the houses, in the streets through which the procession is to pass'. In the present instance, so liberally were these rich perfumes burnt, that, at a distance, a pillar, or pillars of smoke arose from them: and the perfume was so rich as to exceed in value and fragrancy all the powders of the merchant3.
1 Harmer on Sol. Song, p. 123-5.
2 Twenty MSS. the LXX, Symmachus, the Syriac, and Vulgate, all read this word singular (n). The word used for columns means strictly palm trees, which from their height and straitness were often used for that purpose; and a pillar or column of smoke, in a calm atmosphere, strongly resembles that tree-rising very high, and then bending downwards. Columnæ, ad formam palmæ assurgentes.' Buxtorf. 3 More (rich, excellent, or precious) than-I take to be the exact force of the particle in this place, (See in Heb. Ps. iv. 8. cx. 3. Prov. iii. 14. Is. x. 10. Job xxxv. 2.) and so it is rendered by Junius & Tremel. and Piscator. I have rendered abekat (p) powders, rather than perfumes, as more literal; and as comprehending gold dust, which was a grand article of commerce, and probably here alluded to. In preferring
There is some difficulty to fix the speakers, to me it appears that neither the bride nor bridegroom are introduced throughout the whole of this section; but that it is a kind of dialogue between the virgins, probably in two semi-cho
The carriage here introduced appears to have been a kind of palanquin of state, sufficiently large, perhaps, to inclose both bride and bridegroom'. The magnificence of this car
these perfumes to gold dust, and the powders of the merchant, I suppose there may be an allusion to the sacred perfumes of the temple, which were not to be manufactured or used for any other purpose, under penalty of death.
The original word n is supposed to mean a kind of litter, or open vehicle, usually called a palanquin, in which the great men of the east are carried, sometimes upon elephants or camels, and other times on men's shoulders. The bier on which Abner was carried to his grave was probably of this nature. See Parkhurst in . Niebuhr says, a Niebuhr says, a palanquin completely ornamented with silver, covered with rich stuffs, and suspended on a handsome bamboo, will cost about 2001. sterling. Travels, vol. II. p. 410.
In the year 1796, the British government presented the Nabob of the Carnatic with a superb carriage of this nature, which may even vie with Solomon's, of which the following account is copied from the public prints of the time. The beams are solid gold, the inside beautifully decorated with • silver lining and fringe throughout: the panels are painted in the highest style of finishing, and represent various groups and heads of animals, after the manner of Asia, beaded with gold richly raised above the surface, and engraved. The stays, and different other ornaments, are of • embossed silver.'
The word appirion (p) used in the next verse, and rendered by our translators chariot, is of very doubtful origin and import. Most of the critics derive it from a root (D) implying fruitfulness, and render it a bridal-bed, which was always expected to be fruitful. [So Lord Clarendon calls a
riage is not merely ideal; such are to this day employed by eastern nabobs, as may be seen in the margin.
A carriage seems also alluded to in the 45th psalm, but differing materially from this. That resembles more the war-chariot of a conqueror, and the prince goeth forth to victory, with his sword girded on his thigh. This is the palanquin of a new-married pair, accompanied with festivity and joy. In an allegorical view, the object intended is probably the same, only considered in a different point of view.
But what is this object? The TARGUM and Jewish commentators explain it of the temple; and this was indeed a magnificent object. But something grander than the temple is here; and THEODORET, and other Christian writers, explain it of the propagation of the gospel by its first ministers, whom he considers, not improperly, as pillars of the church.
The success of the gospel is sometimes consi
numerous family, The offspring of a very fruitful bed.'] But then it must mean such a bed as the Rabins say the bride used to be carried in from her father's house to her husband's: i. e. a palanquin or litter, and so the word is used. in the Misnah. Avenarius makes it a compound word, signifying a carriage upon wheels; but the LXX. simply render it Dopelov, a carriage; and from the similarity of sound, Cocceius, among others, has supposed the term to have been originally Greek, and hebraised (with other foreign words) by Solomon. Pausanius mentions a nuptial chariot which contained three persons, the bride, the bridegroom, and his friend, Something like this is the Indian palanquin called Palki, in which the bride and bridegroom are carried upon men's shoulders.