Canticles ii.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. I am. The spouse compares herself to a lily, as she is the fairest flower on the bed, (Calmet) or Christ may here speak. (Worthington) (Isaias xi. 1.) (Origen) — He praises himself first, that his spouse may hear her own eulogy. (Menochius)

Ver. 2. Thorns. The bridegroom enhances the praise of his spouse. The Church, surrounded by infidels and persecutors, maintains her beauty and station. Heretics, &c., are no better than thorns. (Origen) (Calmet) — The Church excels all other societies. In her communion the innocent are preferred before sinners, and among the former, the blessed Virgin [Mary] surpasses all.

Ver. 3. As. The Church praises Christ, resting secure under his protection. (Worthington)

Ver. 4. Cellar. This was not under ground. Homer (Odyssey b. 237.) places the wine near the nuptial bed. (Calmet) — In me. Hebrew, “he brought me to the banquetting-house, and his banner over me was love.” (Protestants) (Haydock) — He has shewn me the greatest tenderness. Only the religion of Christ lays before us our duties to God, to ourselves, and neighbours. (Calmet) (St. Thomas Aquinas, ii. 2. q. 26.) (Haydock) — The holy Spirit came on the assembled disciples, who were deemed to be drunk, and Christ nourishes the pious soul with the wine of his own blood. (Menochius)

Ver. 5. Flowers. Hebrew, “bottles.” — Languish. Septuagint, “am wounded.” (Haydock) — Those who enter upon the paths of virtue, are often deprived of consolations. (Calmet) — They must support themselves by reflecting on the words and sufferings of Christ. (St. Ambrose, psalm cxviii. ser. 5.) (Bossuet)

Ver. 6. Hand. After peace comes affliction: grace is followed by glory, Proverbs iii. 16. (Calmet)

Ver. 7. I. Christ permits not his Church to be persecuted, till she be able to bear it. (Worthington) — Roes. Septuagint, “armies and power;” the angels and apostles, who have spread the gospel through the world. It would seem that the Jewish women loved hunting, (Calmet) like those of Phœnicia and Lacedæmon. (Virgil, Æneid i.) They were going to sing, (Calmet) the morning epithalamium, (Theocrit. xviii.) after the first night of the marriage. The second meeting takes place, ver. 8, 17. (Haydock)

Ver. 8. The. Feeling the protection of Christ, the Church preacheth boldly the truth against pagans and heretics. (Worthington) — She knows the voice of the shepherd, (John viii. 47., and x. 2.) and keeps at a distance the wolves in sheep’s clothing, or pretended reformers, who would scatter the flock. — Hills. She sees him returning in the evening with the utmost speed of a stag, as the Hebrew implies, chap. ii. 9., and viii. 14.

Ver. 9. Hart, (Proverbs v. 18.) which is swifter that the dogs. (Xenophon, Cuneg.) — This animal is said to destroy serpents, as Christ did the power of the devil. (Theodoret) — Wall. Under the old law, Christ was only seen in figure. He manifested himself in the new. Yet our sins separate him from us, Isaias lix. 2. He is concealed in the sacred mysteries, (Calmet) and his humanity keeps from our sight the glory of his divinity, which alone can impart full content. (St. Ambrose; St. Bernard) — He shewed a glimpse of it at his transfiguration, and by his miracles. (Menochius)

Ver. 10. Arise. He sings under the window, to ver. 16. — My dove, is taken from the Septuagint. (Calmet) — Christ invites his spouse to approach, though he shews not himself as yet; and orders his pastors to root out heresies, ver. 25. (Worthington) — She is ever faithful, and rejoices in him, 2 Corinthians xi. 2., Matthew ix. 15., and Ephesians v. 26. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. Winter. The rigour and darkness of the old law give place to that of light and love. (Origen) — After persecution had ceased, pruning became more necessary. (Calmet) — The Israelites and the world were redeemed in spring, and the ceremonies of the law were abolished at the same season. (Menochius)

Ver. 12. Pruning. Protestants, “singing of birds.” (Haydock) — But the former version is better. (Septuagint, Symmachus, &c.) — Turtle. Which returns in spring, Isaias viii. 9. (Calmet) — It denotes the preaching of the gospel, (St. Cyril, ador. 15.) or rather the sighs of a holy soul in exile.

Ver. 14. Rock. Wild pigeons retire thither. (Varro, iii. 7.) Koilen eiseptato petren. (Il. 20. Ser. xlviii. 28.) (Calmet) — Holy souls seek protection in the wounds of their Saviour. (St. Gregory; St. Bernard, ser. lxi.) — Wall. In the holy Scriptures, which defend the Church. She is brought to light for the edification of all. (Menochius)

Ver. 15. Foxes. They hurt vines, (Theoc. 5.) and denote false prophets, Ezechiel xiii. 4. (St. Augustine) (Psalm lxxx.) — For. Hebrew, “and our vines of Semadar,” ver. 13. (Calmet) — Foxes breed in spring, and greatly infested the country, Judges xv. 4.

Ver. 16. Feedeth. “His flock.” (Septuagint) He still retains the fragrancy of lilies. As married people are two in one flesh, (Ephesians v. 31.) Christ and his Church are irrevocably united. (Calmet) — She reposes in him. (Worthington)

Ver. 17. Break. Or “yield a refreshing air,” (aspiret) in the morning, (Haydock) and evening, when she begs he will return, (Theodoret) as she could not enjoy his company in the day-time, chap. i. 1., and iv. 6. — Bether. Or the lower Bethoron, near Jerusalem. These short visits in the night, shew the vicissitudes of comfort and dryness in the most perfect. Those who are still addicted to their passions, and to the world, can have no pretensions to such favours, which amply repay any passing desolation. (St. Bernard, ser. lxxiv.) (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Christ caresses his spouse; he invites her to him.

1 I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the vallies.

2 As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

3 As the apple-tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow, whom I desired: and his fruit was sweet to my palate.

4 He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in me.

5 Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples: because I languish with love.

6 His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.

7 I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and the harts of the fields, that you stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake, till she please.

8 The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping over the hills.

9 My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the lattices.

10 Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my dove, my beautiful one, and come.

11 For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.

12 The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land:

13 The fig-tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come:

14 My dove in the clifts of the rock, in the hollow places of the wall, shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is sweet, and thy face comely.

15 Catch us the little foxes that destroy the vines: for our vineyard hath flourished.

16 My beloved to me, and I to him who feedeth among the lilies,

17 Till the day break, and the shadows retire. Return: be like, my beloved, to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.