Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. What? Christ commends the Jews, who shall at last embrace the faith with great fervour. (Worthington) — Thou. Hebrew and Septuagint, “ye.” They join this sentence with the preceding chapter. (Haydock) — Companies. Hebrew, “as it were the choir (or dance) of Mahanaim,” (Calmet) where Jacob saw the camps of angels, near the Jaboc. (Haydock) (Genesis xxxii.) — These dances might be proverbial.
Ver. 4. Ivory. Preachers communicate the sentiments of the Church, (Calmet) which prevails against the gates of hell. [Matthew xvi. 18.] (Cassiodorus)
Ver. 5. Carmel. Shaded with trees. (Calmet) — Hebrew, “purple,” which colour was sometimes given to the hair. (Propertius ii. 18.) — Channels. Of the dyers. Hebrew, “to beams.” (Calmet) — Protestants, “the king is held in the galleries” to view thee. (Haydock) — Christ was all charity, and the faithful are twice dyed, with the love of God, and of their neighbour. (Menochius)
Ver. 7. Grapes. The Church triumphs over her adversaries, and feeds her children. (Calmet)
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. (Calmet) — Mouth. Hebrew and Septuagint, “nose.”
Ver. 9. Lips. Septuagint, “sufficient for my lips and teeth.” (Haydock) — The wine in that country was very thick, when kept a long time. It here denotes charity, or the gospel truths, Luke v. 37., and Acts ii. 13. Hebrew, “causing the lips of them who sleep to speak,” (Calmet) as the apostles did, in transports of zeal. (Theodoret) — Yet the reading of the Septuagint, Aquila, &c., seems preferable. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. Turning. The Church is submissive to Jesus Christ, and is entirely actuated by his Spirit. (Calmet) — She takes the words, as it were out of his mouth, (ver. 9.) and answers, worthy, &c., acknowledging that all the praise belongs to him.
Ver. 11. Villages. She begs that he would come and remain with her. (Worthington) — She accompanies him into the country, on the morning after the fifth night. There Christ affords the purest delights, (ver. 12.; Calmet) and the Church (Menochius) becomes his mother, while she instructs and feeds others. (St. Gregory, hom.) (Menochius)
Ver. 13. Mandrakes. Hebrew dodai comes from the same root as dodi, “my breasts or loves,” ver. 12. (Haydock) — It may denote oranges, as mandrakes are not spring-fruits, Genesis xxx. 14. (Calmet) — Yet (Haydock) married women eagerly sought after mandrakes. Here they may signify such as are fit to gain souls to Christ. (Menochius) — And the old. Or great abundance, Leviticus xxvi. 10., and Matthew xiii. 52. (Calmet) — She acknowledges Christ to be the Saviour of all, under the Old and the New Testament. (Worthington) — A doctor of the Church shews Christ in the prophets, and figures of the law, as well as manifested in the gospel. (Aponius, &c.) (Calmet)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
A further description of the graces of the Church, the spouse of Christ.
1 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.
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 fish-pools in Hesebon, which are in the gate of the daughter of the multitude. Thy nose is as the tower of Libanus, that looketh towards Damascus.
5 Thy head is like Carmel: and the hairs of thy head as the purple of the king bound in the channels.
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.
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.
9 Thy throat like the best wine, worthy for my beloved to drink, and for his lips and his teeth to ruminate.
10 I to my beloved, and his turning is towards me.
11 Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field, let us abide in the villages.
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.