King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Song of Solomon 1

The title. (1) The church confesses her deformity. (2-6) The church beseeches Christ to lead her to the resting-place of his people. (7,8) Christ’s commendation of the church, Her esteem for Him. (9-17)

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The title

1 The song of songs, which is Solomon’s.

The church confesses her deformity

2 Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine.

3 Because of the savour of thy good ointments thy name is as ointment poured forth, therefore do the virgins love thee.

4 Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

5 I am black, but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Kedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

6 Look not upon me, because I am black, because the sun hath looked upon me: my mother’s children were angry with me; they made me the keeper of the vineyards; but mine own vineyard have I not kept.

The church beseeches Christ to lead her to the resting-place of his people

7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions?

8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.

Christ’s commendation of the church, Her esteem for Him

9 I have compared thee, O my love, to a company of horses in Pharaoh’s chariots.

10 Thy cheeks are comely with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.

11 We will make thee borders of gold with studs of silver.

12 While the king sitteth at his table, my spikenard sendeth forth the smell thereof.

13 A bundle of myrrh is my well-beloved unto me; he shall lie all night betwixt my breasts.

14 My beloved is unto me as a cluster of camphire in the vineyards of Engedi.

15 Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; thou hast doves’ eyes.

16 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, yea, pleasant: also our bed is green.

17 The beams of our house are cedar, and our rafters of fir.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Let. Heb. yishakeni, (H.) “kiss or instruct me,” as if to insinuate the we must raise our thoughts from carnal to spiritual things. — The. Heb. “kisses.” — His mouth. Others I reject. M. — The synagogue prays for Christ’s coming, as the Church does for his glorious appearance. W. — The figures of the law and predictions afford not satisfaction; only the Messias can bring it to mankind. Orig. — They shall all be taught by God. Jo. vi. 45. Heb. i. 2. H. — Breasts. Heb. also, “loves.” But the former is the primary signification of (M.) dodec. Christ, in his divine and human nature, is the source of all our good. His graces are manifested. He instructs and feeds us with the truths contained in Scripture, and in tradition, (H.) or in the Old and New Testament. Ven. Bede, &c. — Spiritual delights are to be preferred before all terrestrial ones. From the incarnation of Christ, and sanctification of man, all other graces proceed. T. — At first the spouse speaks to the bridegroom in the third person, to show her respect, though he was certainly present. Her companions attend her. C. — Wine. All seem to agree that these words are addressed to the bridegroom: which shews that they must be understood in the mystical sense. H.

Ver. 2. Ointments. The bosom used to be perfumed. Athen. xv. 5. and xv. 14. — Thy name. Thou thyself. The preaching of the gospel produced a wonderful change in the world. 2 Cor. ii. 15. C. — The Church honours the name of Jesus on the second Sunday after the Epiphany. A. Butler, p. 130. H. — Thee. The martyrs and Christian virgins are inflamed with divine love.

Ver. 3-4. To, &c. is in the Sept.; but not in Heb. or Complut. C. — Grace must draw, and then people will run. Jo. vi. 44. and xii. 32. Phil. iii. 12. S. Amb. Bossuet. — Rooms. Where there is abundance of wine and ointments. The extraordinary favours of heaven are not granted to all. Matt. xiii. 11. C. — Righteous. The apostles, and faithful souls, (H.) and all who form a right judgment of things, (M.) having their thoughts, works, and actions composed. T. — Black. Or brown. v. 5. H. — The Egyptians were of a less fair complexion, and she had been exposed to the sun. v. 5. C. — The synagogue gloried in her advantages; but the Gentiles being chosen by Christ, obtain the palm. Theod. — Though outwardly afflicted, the Church is inwardly fair. W. — Cedar. Or of the Arabs, who dwelt in tents, made of black goat’s hair. C. — The tents of the eastern kings were equal in magnificence to our palaces. Bernier, Valle, &c.

Ver. 5. Altered. Heb. “looked upon me,” (Prot.) or “darted his rays at me.” Mont. H. — The Church of the Gentiles was quite disfigured before Christ chose it. Persecutors afterwards strove to tarnish its beauty, but in vain. — Vineyard. My face (C.) and person I have not regarded, while I was attentive to serve others. H. — Pastors, who are chosen against their will, sometimes pay so much attention to the welfare of their flock, that they neglect their own interior, and fall into small faults, which Christ will know how to excuse and pardon. Ezec. xxxiii. 2. S. Bern. ser. xxx. C.

Ver. 6. Liest. Heb. “makest thy flock to rest.” Prot. H. — Mid-day. She represents herself and her beloved as guarding flocks, which were usually driven into some shady place during the heat of the day, when the shepherds took their innocent recreations. — Wander. Sept. Prot. But marginal note has, “as one that is veiled,” which was the mark of a common woman. Gen. xxxviii. 14. The Gentile Church is eager to be guided by the one true Shepherd, and adheres to him with the greatest fervour, (C.) during the heat of persecution. Cassiod. — We ought to imitate the solicitude of the spouse, and hide ourselves under the shadow of the cross when we are tempted. Isai. xxv. 4. C.

Ver. 7. If. Christ comforts his Church. W. — He doubts not of her fidelity. M. — But the very insinuation, which she had made, causes him to give her this sort of rebuke. God is jealous. Ex. xxxiv. 14. He punishes the smallest faults. The spouse perceives this, and runs towards him. — Thyself. He who is ignorant of himself, must be so likewise of God, (C.) and will be sentenced to feed goats. S. Jer. ep. xxii. ad Eustoc. — Kids. Which had been detained at home. They will naturally seek their mothers. All creatures will raise the soul to God. Job xii. — Shepherds. Though in the midst of a perverse generation of idolaters and philosophers, the Church will continue steadfast. M.

Ver. 8. Company. Heb. “mare.” Such were preferred, as more gentle and swift. Pharao had probably made his son-in-law a present of a magnificent chariot. Theocritus (xviii.) compares the beauty of Helena to a Thessalian horse in a chariot, so that this idea is not low. Gen. xliv. 14. Os. x. 11. C. — Horsemen. Prot. “horses.” H. — Heb. susa. Sept. e ippos means also “cavalry,” as well as a mare. The Church has nothing to fear. M.

Ver. 9. As, &c. Heb. “with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold.” Prot. — Sept. here read like the Vulg. c instead of b before thurim, which signifies chains, (v. 10. H.) as well as turtles. We cannot say that this bird has cheeks. C. — It is an emblem of the Church mourning, and ever true to her beloved, (Orig. &c.) who bestows a variety of graces on different people. 1 Cor. xii. 4. C.

Ver. 11. While. The Church meditates on his passion and resurrection. W. — Repose. Or bed. Thus our Saviour was treated. Matt. xxvi. 7. Lu. vii. 37. C. — Odour. The virtues of the Church please him. M. — The saints, before and since his coming, pray with all earnestness. Apoc. v. 8.

Ver. 12. Abide. Heb. adds, “all night.” Christ remained nine months in the virgin’s womb. C. — The faithful discover him in both the Testaments, (H.) and meditate on his sufferings. Myrrh is a bitter but odoriferous liquor.

Ver. 13. Cyprus. A shrub with leaves like the olive-tree, and fruit growing in clusters, of a very agreeable smell. See Pliny, xii. 24. Christ has given us his sacred blood on the cross, and in the blessed Eucharist. M.

Ver. 14. Behold. Christ praiseth his spouse. W. — Doves. Sharp-sighted, and reddish. Gen. xlix. 12. The Holy Ghost came upon Christ in the form of a dove. Matt. iii. 16. We must imitate his simplicity, (Matt. x. 16.) and have a pure and single eye, or intention, (Matt. vi. 22. C.) inviolably to please God. Orig. — The Church decides matters of controversy, without any mistakes. M.

Ver. 15. Behold. The spouse makes a return of praise, and thanksgiving for her repose, to Christ. W. — The corporal beauty of Solomon or of our Saviour is not fully ascertained; but their inward perfections are often proclaimed. — Flourishing. Heb. “green.” Sept. “shaded.” Est. i. 5. — This bed was the womb of the blessed Virgin, the cross, or any faithful soul. S. Bernard says it is a monastery, retired and adorned with all virtues. C.

Ver. 16. Beams. Prelates. — Rafters. Virtuous subjects. M. — Cypress. The are both odoriferous and incorruptible. The cypress has leaves from top to bottom, and grows not so large as the cedar. Pliny, xii. 17.