A farther description of the bride, 1-9. Her invitation to the bridegroom, 10-13.
Notes on Chapter 7
How beautiful are thy feet with shoes
"How graceful is thy walking." In the sixth chapter the bridegroom praises the Shulamite, as we might express it, from head to foot. Here he begins a new description, taking her from foot to head.
The shoes, sandals, or slippers of the Eastern ladies are most beautifully formed, and richly embroidered. The majestic walk of a beautiful woman in such shoes is peculiarly grand. And to show that such a walk is intended, he calls her a prince's daughter.
The joints of thy thighs
Must refer to the ornaments on the beautiful drawers, which are in general use among ladies of quality in most parts of the East.
Thy navel is like a round goblet
This may also refer to some ornamental dress about the loins. These suppositions are rendered very probable from hundreds of the best finished and highly decorated drawings of Asiatic ladies in my own collection, where every thing appears in the drawings, as in nature.
A heap of wheat set about with lilies.
This is another instance of the same kind. The richly embroidered dresses in the above drawings may amply illustrate this also. Ainsworth supposes the metaphor is taken from a pregnant woman; the child in the womb being nourished by means of the umbilical cord or navel string, till it is brought into the world. After which it is fed by means of the mother's breasts, which are immediately mentioned. Possibly the whole may allude to the bride's pregnancy.
Thy two breasts
Where the hair and breasts are fine, they are the highest ornaments of the person of a female.
Thy neck-as a tower of ivory
High, white, and ornamented with jewellery, as the tower of David was with bucklers. See on Song of Solomon 4:4.
The fish-pools in Heshbon
Clear, bright, and serene. These must have been very beautiful to have been introduced here in comparison. These two fountains appear to have been situated at the gate that led from Heshbon to Rabba, or Rabboth Ammon. There is a propriety in this metaphor, because fountains are considered to be the eyes of the earth.
Thy nose-as the tower of Lebanon
There was doubtless a propriety in this similitude also, which cannot now be discerned. If we are to understand the similitude as taken from the projecting form of the nose, even here I see nothing striking in the metaphor; for surely the tower of Lebanon did not project from the mountain as the human nose does from the face. It is better to acknowledge that there was undoubtedly some fit resemblances; but in what circumstance we know not. But some commentators are always extolling the correctness of the imagery in those very difficult places, where no soul sees the similitude but themselves.
Thine head-like Carmel
Rising majestically upon thy neck, and above thy shoulders, as Mount Carmel does in its district. Carmel was the name of the mountain where Elijah had his contest with the prophets of Baal. See 1 Kings 18:19,
The hair of thine head like purple
Ornamented with ribbons and jewellery of this tint.
The king is held in the galleries.
Or is detained in the antechamber. His heart is captivated by thy person and conduct. Some understand the ringlets of the bride's hair.
How fair and how pleasant
Thou art every way beautiful, and in every respect calculated to inspire pleasure and delight.
Like to a palm tree
Which is remarkably straight, taper, and elegant.
And thy breasts to clusters of grapes.
Dates are the fruit of the palm tree; they grow in clusters; and it is these, not grapes, which are intended.
I will go up to the palm tree
I will take hold on the boughs of this tree, and climb up by them, in order to gather the clusters of dates at the top. The rubric here in the old MS. interprets this of the cross of Christ.
The roof of thy mouth like the best wine
The voice or conversation of the spouse is most probably what is meant.
Causing the lips of those that are asleep to speak.
As good wine has a tendency to cause the most backward to speak fluently when taken in moderation; so a sight of thee, and hearing the charms of thy conversation, is sufficient to excite the most taciturn to speak, and even to become eloquent in thy praises.
I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me.
It is worthy of remark that the word which we translate his desire is the very same used Genesis 3:16: Thy desire, thy ruling appetite, teshukathech, shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. This was a part of the woman's curse. Now here it seems to be reversed; for the bride says, I am my beloved's, and his desire or ruling appetite and affection, teshukatho, is ali, UPON ME. The old MS. translates this with considerable force:-I to my leef, and to me the turnynge of him.
Let us go forth into the field
It has been conjectured that the bridegroom arose early every morning, and left the bride's apartment, and withdrew to the country; often leaving her asleep, and commanding her companions not to disturb her till she should awake of herself. Here the bride wishes to accompany her spouse to the country, and spend a night at his country house.
Let us get up early to the vineyards
When in the country, we shall have the better opportunity to contemplate the progress of the spring vegetation; and there she promises to be peculiarly affectionate to him.
The mandrakes give a smell
See Clarke on Genesis 30:14. where the mandrake is particularly described; from which this passage will receive considerable light. The reader is requested to consult it.
All manner of pleasant fruits
Fruits new and old; flowers and herbs of every kind which the season could yield. The literal sense, allowing for the concealing metaphors, is, I believe, of a widely different nature from what is generally given. But this must be left to the reader's sagacity and prudence.