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Barnes' Notes on the Bible
The bride relates to the chorus what appears to be an imaginary occurrence transacted in a dream (like that of Sol 5:2-8). The Targum takes this section to be typical of the wanderings of Israel after the Holy One in the wilderness, as the next Sol 3:6-11 is made to represent their entrance into the land.
1By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
By night - i. e., In the night-hours.
2I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not.
3The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?
The city - One near the bride's native home, possibly Shunem.
4It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother's house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.
I held him - This begins the fourth stanza. The bride's mother is mentioned again in Sol 6:9; Sol 8:2.
5I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.
See Sol 2:7 note.
6Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed with myrrh and frankincense, with all powders of the merchant?
The principal and central action of the Song; the bride's entry into the city of David, and her marriage there with the king. Jewish interpreters regard this part of the poem as symbolizing the "first" entrance of the Church of the Old Testament into the land of promise, and her spiritual espousals, and communion with the King of kings, through the erection of Solomon's Temple and the institution of its acceptable worship. Christian fathers, in a like spirit, make most things here refer to the espousals of the Church with Christ in the Passion and Resurrection, or the communion of Christian souls with Him in meditation thereon.
Two or more citizens of Jerusalem, or the chorus of youths, companions of the bridegroom, describe the magnificent appearance of the bride borne in a royal litter, and then that of the king in festive joy wearing a nuptial crown.
"wilderness" is here pasture-land in contrast with the cultivated districts and garden-enclosures round the city. Compare Jeremiah 23:10; Joel 2:22; Isaiah 42:11; Psalm 65:12.
Pillars of smoke - Here an image of delight and pleasure. Frankincense and other perfumes are burned in such abundance round the bridal equipage that the whole procession appears from the distance to be one of moving wreaths and columns of smoke.
All powders of the merchant - Every kind of spice forming an article of commerce.
7Behold his bed, which is Solomon's; threescore valiant men are about it, of the valiant of Israel.
Bed - Probably the royal litter or palanquin in which the bride is borne, surrounded by his own body-guard consisting of sixty mighties of the mighty men of Israel.
8They all hold swords, being expert in war: every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.
Because of fear in the night - i. e., Against night alarms. Compare Psalm 91:5.
9King Solomon made himself a chariot of the wood of Lebanon.
A stately bed hath king Solomon made for himself of woods (or trees) of the Lebanon. The word rendered "bed" occurs nowhere else in Scripture, and is of doubtful etymology and meaning. It may denote here
(1) the bride's car or litter; or
(2) a more magnificent vehicle provided for her reception on her entrance into the city, and in which perhaps the king goes forth to meet her.
It has been made under Solomon's own directions of the costliest woods (ceda and pine) of the Lebanon; it is furnished with "pillars of silver" supporting a "baldachin" or "canopy of gold" (not "bottom" as in the King James Version), and with "a seat (not 'covering') of purple cushions," while "its interior is paved with (mosaic work, or tapestry of) love from (not 'for') the daughters of Jerusalem;" the meaning being that this part of the adornment is a gift of love, whereby the female chorus have testified their goodwill to the bride, and their desire to gratify the king.
10He made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom thereof of gold, the covering of it of purple, the midst thereof being paved with love, for the daughters of Jerusalem.
11Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold king Solomon with the crown wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.
Daughters of Zion - So called here to distinguish them from the bride's companions, who are always addressed by her as "daughters of Jerusalem."
His mother - Bathsheba 1 Kings 1:11. This is the last mention of her in sacred history.