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WHAT shalt thou see in the Sulamitess but the companies of camps? How beautiful are thy steps in shoes, O prince's daughter! The joints of thy thighs are like jewels, that are made by the hand of a skilful workman.

Ver. 1.  What?  Christ commends the Jews, who shall at last embrace the faith with great fervour.  W.


--- Thou.  Heb. and Sept. "ye."  They  join this sentence with the preceding chapter.  H.


--- Companies.  Heb. "as it were the choir (or dance) of Mahanaim,"( C). where Jacob saw the camps of angels, near the Jaboc.  H.  Gen. xxxii.


--- These dances might be proverbial.

2 Thy navel is like a round bowl never wanting cups. Thy belly is like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies. 3 Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins. 4 Thy neck as a tower of ivory. Thy eyes like the fishpools in Hesebon, which are in the gate of the daughter of the multitude. Thy nose is as the tower of Libanus, that looketh toward Damascus.

Ver. 4.  Ivory.  Preachers communicate the sentiments of the Church, (C.) which prevails against the gates of hell.  Cassiod.

5 Thy head is like Carmel: and the hairs of thy head as the purple of the king bound in the channels.

Ver. 5.  Carmel.  Shaded with trees.  C.


--- Heb. "purple," which colour was sometimes given to the hair.  Propert. ii. 18.


--- Channels.  Of the dyers.  Heb. "to beams."  C.


--- Prot. "the king is held in the galleries" to view thee.  H.


--- Christ was all charity, and the faithful are twice dyed, with the love of God, and of their neighbour.  M.


Carmel. Not where Elias dwelt, but a city and mountain 10 miles east of Eleutheropolis. Nabal rendered it famous by his imprudence, (1 K. xxv.) and Saul by a triumphal arch, 1 K. xv. 12. --- Carmel, so famous for the miracles of Elias, 3 K. xviii. 20. Josephus (Bel. ii. 17,) places it 120 stadia south of Ptolemais. This range of mountains extended northward through the tribes of Issachar and of Zabulon. Pliny (v. 17,) speaks of a promontory and of a town of this name. Here also the god Carmel was adored, having an altar, but no temple or image, as the ancients had decreed. Nec simulacrum Deo aut templum, (sic tradidere majores) ara tantum et reverentia. Tacit. Hist. ii. 78. --- Vespasian consulted the priest Basilides. Carmel means "the vineyard of the Lord," or the excellent vineyard, &c. It was so rich and beautiful as to become proverbial. The spouse compares the head of his beloved to Carmel. C. vii. 5. Isaias (xxxii. 15,) foretels that the deserts shall be equal to Carmel. It was covered with wood and fruit. S. Jerom in Isai. x. 18. Jer. iv. 26. The city, which was built upon this mountain, and which Pliny calls by the same name, was formerly styled Ecbatana. The oracle had denounced to Cambyses that he should die at Ecbatana, and he concluded that the city of Media was meant; but it was "that of Syria," says Herodotus, (iii. 64,) where he died.

6 How beautiful art thou, and how comely, my dearest, in delights! 7 Thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of grapes.

Ver. 7.  Grapes.  The Church triumphs over her adversaries, and feeds her children.  C.

8 I said: I will go up into the palm tree, and will take hold of the fruit thereof: and thy breasts shall be as the clusters of the vine: and the odour of thy mouth like apples.

Ver. 8.  Up.  Christ shed his blood on the cross, and enabled his Church, composed of Jews and Gentiles, who were before barren, to produce a numerous progeny.  C.


--- Mouth.  Heb. and Sept. "nose."

9 Thy throat like the best wine, worthy for my beloved to drink, and for his lips and his teeth to ruminate.

Ver. 9.  Lips.  Sept. "sufficient for my lips and teeth."  H.


--- The wine in that country was very thick, when kept a long time.  It here denotes charity, or the gospel truths.  Lu. v. 37.  Acts ii. 13.  Heb. "causing the lips of them who sleep to speak," (C.) as the apostles did, in transports of zeal.  Theod.


--- Yet the reading of the Sept. Aquila, &c. seems preferable.  C.

10 I to my beloved, and his turning is towards me.

Ver. 10.  Turning.  The Church is submissive to Jesus Christ, and is entirely actuated by the Spirit.  C.


--- She takes the words, as it were out of his mouth, (v. 9.) and answers, worthy, &c. acknowledging that all the praise belongs to him.

11 Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field, let us abide in the villages.

Ver. 11.  Villages.  She begs that he would come and remain with her.  W.


--- She accompanies him into the country, on the morning after the fifth night.  There Christ affords the purest delights, (v. 12.  C.) and the Church (M.) becomes his mother, while she instructs and feeds others.  S. Greg. hom.  M.

12 Let us get up early to the vineyards, let us see if the vineyard flourish, if the flowers be ready to bring forth fruits, if the pomegranates flourish: there will I give thee my breasts. 13 The mandrakes give a smell. In our gates are all fruits: the new and the old, my beloved, I have kept for thee.

Ver. 13.  Mandrakes.  Heb. dodai comes from the same root as dodi, "my breasts or loves."  v. 12.  H.


--- It may denote oranges, as mandrakes are not spring-fruits.  Gen. xxx. 14.  C.


--- Yet (H.) married women eagerly sought after mandrakes.  Here they may signify such as are fit to gain souls to Christ.  M.


--- And the old. Or great abundance.  Lev. xxvi. 10.  Matt. xiii. 52.  C.


--- She acknowledges Christ to be the Saviour of all, under the Old and the New Testament.  W.


--- A doctor of the Church shews Christ in the prophets, and figures of the law, as well as manifested in the gospel.  Aponius, &c.  C.


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Holy Spirit