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closely." In the exquisite description of a virtuous woman, in xxxi. 10-31., the initial letters of the verses follow the order of the Hebrew alphabet.
IV. The Proverbs of Solomon hold a conspicuous rank among the metrical books of the Old Testament. Not only are they admirably adapted to convey instruction by the treasures of practical wisdom which they open to us, but they also afford us a noble specimen of the didactic poetry of the Hebrews, the nature of which they enable us to understand by means of the antithetic parallels with which they abound.2 Much, indeed, of the elegance, acuteness, and force, which are discernible in Solomon's wise sayings, is derived from the antithetic form, the opposition of diction and sentiment. Hence a careful attention to the parallelism of members (which topic has already been largely discussed in the first volume of this work) will contribute to remove that obscurity in which some of the proverbs appear to be involved. Sometimes, also, one member or part of a proverb must be supplied from the other; or, as Glassius has expressed it in other words, sometimes one thing is expressed in one member, and another in the other, and yet both are to be understood in both members. Thus, in Prov. x. 14. we read,
Wise men lay up knowledge:
But the mouth of the foolish is near destruction.
The meaning of which is, that wise men communicate, for the benefit of others, the wisdom they have acquired and preserved; while fools, being destitute of that knowledge, soon exhaust their scanty stock, and utter not merely useless but even injurious things. Again,
Both the father and mother are to be understood in the two members of this passage, although in the first the father only is noticed, and in the second the mother only is mentioned. Lastly, many things which are spoken generally, are to be restrained to particular individuals and circumstances: as, however, this rule has already been illustrated at length, it will not be necessary to multiply additional examples. The author, with much pleasure, refers his readers to the Rev. Mr. Holden's "Attempt towards an Improved Translation of the Proverbs of Solomon," with Notes, as the best critical help to an exact understanding of this fine compendium of ethics that is extant in the English language.
ON THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES.
I. Title, author, and canonical authority.-II. Scope and synopsis.-III. Observations.
I. THE title of this book in our Bibles is derived from the Septuagint version, EKKAHEIA THE signifying a preacher, or one who harangues a public congregation. In Hebrew it is termed, from the initial word n (KоHеLеTH), "the Preacher;" by whom may be intended, either the person assembling the people, or he who addresses them when convened. Although this book does not bear the name of Solomon, it is evident from several passages that he was the author of it. Compare ch. i. 12. 16. ii. 4-9. and xii. 9, 10. The celebrated Rabbi Kimchi, however, ascribes it to the prophet Isaiah; and the Talmudical writers to Hezekiah. Grotius, from some foreign expressions which he thinks are discoverable in it, conceives that it was composed by order of Zerubbabel for his son Abihud; Jahn, after some later German critics, for the same reason, thinks it was written after the Babylonish captivity; and Zirkel imagines that it was composed about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, from some traces of the notions of the Pharisees and Sadducees which he conceives he has discovered in this book, and against which he supposes it to be directed. But it is not likely that those Jewish sects would permit a work levelled
1 Dr. Good's Dissertation on the Book of Proverbs, in Dr. Gregory's Memoirs of his Life, p. 305. On the Nature of the Scripture Proverbs, see Vol. I. Part II. Book II. Chap. I. Sect. VI.
3 See Vol. I. Part II. Book II. Chap. VI. Sect. I.
The opinion of these and of other writers are satisfactorily refuted by the Rev. Mr. Holden, in his "Attempt to Illustrate the Book of Ecclesiastes." (Svo. London, 1822.) Preliminary Discourse, pp. v.—xxviii.
against themselves to be inserted in the sacred canon; and with regard to the foreign expressions alleged by Grotius (supposing all of them to be really foreign expressions, which, however, is not the case), their appearance may be accounted for by the circumstance of Solomon's having indulged in sinful intercourse "with strange women" (1 Kings xi. 1, 2.), whose language he probably acquired. phenomena in the natural world, and their causes, of the The beautiful descriptions which this book contains of the circulation of the blood (as the late Bishop Horsley thought), and of the economy of the human frame, all show it to be the work of a philosopher. It is generally supposed to have been written by Solomon in his old age, after he had repented of his sinful practices, and when, having seen and observed much, as well as having enjoyed every thing that he could wish, he was fully convinced of the vanity of every thing except picty towards God. The Rabbinical writers inform us, and their account is corroborated by Jerome, that the Jews, who, after the captivity, collected the Inspired Writings into the canon, at first refused to admit this book into the sacred code, in consequence of some heresies and contradictions, which, from inattention to the author's scope and design, they imagined to exist in it. But, after considering the expressions it contains towards the close, relative to the fear of God and the observation of his laws, they concluded to receive it; and its canonical authority has been recognised ever since. There can, indeed, be no doubt of its title to admission: Solomon was eminently distinguished by the illumination of the divine Spirit, and had even twice witnessed the divine presence. (1 Kings iii. 5. ix. 2. xi. 9.) The tendency of the book is excellent when rightly under stood; and Solomon speaks in it with great clearness of the revealed truths of a future life and of a future judgment.7
Bishop Lowth has classed this book among the didactic poetry of the Hebrews: but Mr. Des Voeux considers it as a philosophical discourse written in a rhetorical style, and interspersed with verses, which are introduced as occasion served; whence it obtained a place among the poetical books. To this opinion Bishop Lowth subsequently declared his
i. 2. and xiii. 13., viz. to demonstrate the vanity of all earthly II. The SCOPE of this book is explicitly announced in ch. objects, and to draw off men from the pursuit of them, as an apparent good, to the fear of God, and communion with him, as to the highest and only permanent good in this life, and to show that men must seek for happiness beyond the grave. We may therefore consider it as an inquiry into that most. important and disputed question,-What is the Sovereign Good of man, that which is ultimately good, and which in all its bearings and relations is conducive to the best interests of man? What is that good for the sons of men, which they should do under the heaven all the days of their life? (ii. 3.) "This is the object of the preacher's inquiry; and, after discussing various erroneous opinions, he finally deter mines that it consists in TRUE WISDOM. The scope of the whole argument, therefore, is the praise and recommendation of WISDOM, as the supreme good to creatures responsible for their actions. In this wisdom is not included a single particle of that which is worldly and carnal, so frequently possessed by men addicted to vice, the minions of avarice, and the slaves of their passions; but that which is from above, that which is holy, spiritual, and undefiled, and which, in the writings of Solomon, is but another word for Religion. Guided by this clue, we can easily traverse the intricate
Of the four words which Grotius asserts to be foreign, viz. "VD (SIR) a
THORN, Eccl. vii. 6. 72 (ARJONɑH) desire, xii. 5., WD (PasHaR) to inter. pret, viii. 1., and 3D (GUMATZ) a pit, x. 8.,-two only can at all be considered as belonging to his argument; for the first occurs in Exod. xvi. 3. and 2 Kings iv. 39. (Heb.), and the second may be derived' from the Hebrew root N (ABan) to wish: and although the last two are at present that they are not Hebrew, for how many other words are there in the Heonly to be found in the Chaldee, it does not therefore necessarily follow brew language, the roots of which are now only to be found in the kindred Arabic or Chaldee dialect? And if they shall be deemed genuine Hebrew not equally be true and proper Hebrew. It is indeed wonderful, as Witwords, there surely is no reason why the last two words above cited should sius has long ago remarked, to observe of what trifling pretexts learned men sometimes avail themselves, in order to support paradoxes. (Witsii, Miscellanea Sacra, lib. i. p. 227. Alber, Interpretatio Scripturæ, tom. viii. p. 189.) But the philological speculations of Grotius are surpassed by those of the late Professor Eichhorn, which are satisfactorily refuted by Mr. Holden in his translation of Ecclesiastes, Prel. Diss. p. xiii.
Bp. Horsley's Sermons, vol. iii. pp. 189, 190. Mr. Holden has refuted this hypothesis, Ecclesiastes, pp. 173, 174. Carpzov, Introd. ad Libros Vet. Test. part ii. p. 222. Bp. Gray's Key, 292.
In his "Philosophical and Critical Essay on the Book of Ecclesiastes,' 4to. London, 1760.
preacher treated the subject; not with exact, philosophic method, but in a free and popular manner, giving au uncor trolled range to his capacious intellect, and suffering himsel to be borne along by the exuberance of his thoughts an the vehemence of his feelings. But, though the methodica disposition of his ideas is occasionally interrupted, his plan is still discernible; and perhaps he never wanders more from his principal object than most of the other writers in the Sacred Volume."
windings and mazes in which so many commentators upon of order and arrangement. In the same way has the roya the Ecclesiastes have been lost and bewildered.. By keeping steadily in view the preacher's object, to eulogize Heavenly Wisdom, the whole admits of an easy and natural interpretation; light is diffused around its obscurities; connection is discovered in that which was before disjointed; the argument receives additional force, the sentiments new beauty; and every part of the discourse, when considered in reference to this object, tends to develope the nature of True Wisdom, to display its excellence, or to recommend its acquirement.
"Hence he commences with the declaration that all is vanity, which is not to be understood as implying any censure upon the works of creation, for God does nothing in vain, every thing being properly adapted to its end, and excellently fitted to display the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Almighty. Yet when the things of this world are applied to improper purposes; when they are considered as the end, while they are only intended to be the means; and are rested in as the source of happiness which they were not designed to afford, vanity is discovered to be their character; that which is most excellent becomes useless, if not injurious, by the abuse; and the works of Omnipotence, however wise and good in themselves, are unprofitable to those who misuse and pervert them. It were a kind of blasphemy to vilify whatever has proceeded from Omniscient Power; and Solomon can only be supposed to pronounce all things here below vain, when they are applied to a wrong use, by the ignorance and wickedness of man. Nor does he so denominate all things universally and without any exception, but only all earthly things, as wealth, pleasure, pomp, luxury, power, and whatever is merely human and terrestrial. If these are placed in competition with divine and heavenly things, or are foolishly regarded as the means of real happiness, they become useless and unprofitable, because they are uncertain and transitory, never fully satisfying the desires of the soul, nor producing permanent felicity. If worldly things are vain in these respects, it would, nevertheless, be presumption and impiety to represent them as actually bad. They are good in themselves, and, when rightly used, tend only to good, since they contribute to the enjoyment of life, and, in an eminent degree, to the ultimate and real interest of man. But if they are pursued as the only portion in this life,' as constituting the happiness of beings formed for immortality, they are not estimated on right principles, and the result will be vexation and disappointment. Their vanity then, arises from the folly and baseness of men, who, in forgetfulness of eternity, are too apt to regard this world as their sole and final abode, and to expect that satisfaction from them which they cannot give. Nor are they to be condemned on this account. That they are insufficient to render man happy is itself the ordination of Infinite Wisdom, and, consequently, best suited to a probationary state; wisely calculated for the trial of man's virtue, and, by weaning him from too fond attachment to things on earth, to stimulate his desires and exertions after the blessedness of another life.
"In prosecuting his inquiry into the Chief Good, Solomon has divided his work into two parts. The first, which extends to the tenth verse of the sixth chapter, is taken up in demonstrating the vanity of all earthly conditions, occupations, and pleasures; the second part, which includes the remainder of the book, is occupied in eulogizing WISDOM, and in describing its nature, its excellence, its beneficial effects. This division, indeed, is not adhered to throughout with logical accuracy; some deviations from strict method are allowable in a popular discourse; and the author occasionally diverges to topics incidentally suggested; but, amidst these digressions, the distinctions of the two parts cannot escape the attentive reader. It is not the manner of the sacred writers to form their discourses in a regular series of deductions and concatenated arguments: they adopt a species of composition, less logical indeed, but better adapted to common capacities, in which the subject is still kept in view, though not handled according to the rules of dialectics. Even St. Paul, whose reasoning powers are unquestionable, frequently digresses from his subject, breaks off abruptly in the middle of his argument, and departs from the strictness
The finest commentary on this aphorism, Vanity of vanities, all is vanity, was unintentionally furnished by the late celebrated Earl of Chesterfield in one of his posthumous letters. See the passage at length in Bishop Horne's Works, vol. v. discourse xiii. pp. 185-187., where the frightful picture, exhibited by a dying man of the world, is admirably improved to the edification of the reader.
For the preceding view of the scope of this admirably instructive book, the author is indebted to Mr. Holden's learned and elaborate attempt to illustrate it.2 The following Synopsis (which is also borrowed from Mr. Holden) wil give the reader a clear view of its design:— PART I. THE VANITY OF ALL EARTHLY CONDITIONS OCCUPA
TIONS, AND PLEASURES.
SECT. I. The vanity of all earthly things. (i. 2.)
SECT. II. The unprofitableness of human labour, and the transitoriness of human life. (i. 3—11.)
SECT. III. The vanity of laborious inquiries into the ways and works of man. (i. 12—18.)
SECT. IV. Luxury and pleasure are only vanity and vexation of spirit. (ii. 1-11.)
SECT. V. Though the wise excel fools, yet, as death happens to them both, human learning is but vanity. (ii. 12—17.) SECT. VI. The vanity of human labour, in leaving it they know not to whom. (ii. 18-23.)
SECT. VII. The emptiness of sensual enjoyments. (ii. 24
SECT. VIII. Though there is a proper time for the execution
SECT. XII. The vanity of prosperity. (iv. 4.)
SECT. XIII. The vanity of folly, or of preferring the world to
SECT. XIV. The vanity of covetousness. (iv. 7, 8.)
SECT. XVI. Errors in the performance of divine worship,
SECT. XVIII. The vanity of riches; with an admonition as
PART II. THE NATURE, EXCELLENCE, AND BENEFICIAL EFFECTS
OF WISDOM OR RELIGION.
SECT. XX. Since all human designs, labours and enjoyments
SECT. XXIII. The excellence of Wisdom. (vii. 11-14.)
SECT. XXVI. An objection, with the answer. (viii. 14. ix. 1.)
SECT. XXXI. Exhortation to charity and benevolence. (xi
Prelim. Diss. pp. lxv. lxviii.-lxxii.
SECT. XXXII. An exhortation to the early cultivation of religious habits. (xiii. 1—7.)
SECT. XXXIII. The conclusion. (xii. 8--14.)1
III. Bishop Lowth pronounces the style of this book to be singular: its language is generally low, frequently loose and unconnected, approaching to the incorrectness of conversation; and it possesses very little poetical character, even in the composition and structure of the periods: which peculiarity, he thinks, may be accounted for from the nature of the subject. Leusden says, that in his time (the close of the seventeenth century) the book of Ecclesiastes was read in the Jewish synagogues on the feast of tabernacles; because, as that feast commemorates the gladness and content with which their forefathers dwelt in tents, so this book, while it shows the vanity of all earthly things, inculcates on every one the duty of rejoicing and being content with such things as God in his providence thinks fit to bestow.
ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON.
I. Author.-II. Canonical authority.-III. Structure of the poem.-Its subject and scope.-The Song of Solomon a sublime mystical allegory.
II. If the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was settled by Ezra (which we have already seen was most probably the case), there can be no doubt but that the Song of Solomon is a sacred book; for, to use the strong language of Bishop Warburton, "Ezra wrote, and we may believe acted, by the inspiration of the Most High,' amid the last blaze indeed, yet in the full lustre of expiring prophecy. And such a man would not have placed any book that was not sacred in the same volume with the law and the prophets."4 In addition to this evidence, the following considerations will authorize us to infer, that the Song of Solomon was, from the most early period, deemed a sacred book, and ranked with the Hagiographa or Holy Writings of the Jews, and thence was received among the canonical books of the Old Testa
A Greek translation of it is extant, which without contradiction is ascribed to the Jewish authors of the Septuagint, who flourished about two centuries before Christ, and which still forms a part of the Alexandrian version. With the same conviction of the sacred character of the work, it was rendered into Greek in the second century of the Christian æra, by Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion. Origen, who wrote early in the third century, on the authority of those learned Jews who were contemporary with him, and whom he was in the habit of consulting respecting the authority and literal import of their sacred books, inserted it in his Hexapla, and wrote some homilies upon it, explaining its FEW poems have excited more attention, or have found mystical sense, which have in part been translated into Latin more translators and commentators, than the Song of Songs; by Jerome. Further, that the ancient Jews, without excepbut the learned are not yet agreed respecting its arrangement from the allegorical signification annexed to it in the Chaldee tion, considered it as a divinely inspired production, appears and design. The majority consider it as an inspired book, and certainly on the best evidence, while others affirm it to paraphrase. Josephus, in his answer to Apion, gives a be merely a human composition: the former regard it as a catalogue of the Jewish books, and in the third class of sacred allegory; the latter, as a mere amatory effusion. such as related to moral instruction includes the Song of I. In addition to other divine compositions of Solomon, | Songs. From the Jewish synagogue this book was received we are informed (1 Kings iv. 32.) that his songs were a thou- into the Christian church without any doubt of its divine sand and five, of which the present book is supposed to be one. authority: it occurs in the catalogue of books of the Old In the first verse it is called, by way of eminence and dis- Testament made by Melito, Bishop of Sardis in Lydia, who tinction, according to the Hebrew idiom (SHIR Palestine on purpose to learn the number of these books, is placed by Cave about the year 170, who travelled into HASHIRIM), that is, a Song of Songs, or, the most beautiful and who made the first catalogue of the Hebrew Scriptures. Song. Of this ancient poem the author is asserted, by the unanimous voice of antiquity, to have been Solomon; and It is cited by Ignatius, who had been a disciple of the apostle this tradition is corroborated by many internal marks of au- Saint John about the beginning of the second century, as a thenticity.2 In the very first verse it is ascribed to the He-book of authority in the church at Antioch. It is enumerated brew monarch by name: he is the subject of the piece, and the principal actor in the conduct of it. Allusions are made to the rich furniture of his palace (i. 5.); to the horses and chariots which he purchased of Pharoah king of Egypt (i. 9. compared with 1 Kings x. 28, 29.); to Aminadab, who was eminent for such chariots, and who married one of Solomon's daughters (vi. 12. with 1 Kings iv. 11.); to his building of the temple under the figure of a palanquin or coach for his bride (iii. 9, 10.); to the materials of which it was formed. In short, all the leading circumstances in Solomon's life, in a religious point of view, appear to be either alluded to or implied in this ancient poem, and, therefore, render it probable that it was the production of some writer in his age, it were not his own composition. From the occurrence, however, of a few Aramaan words, some later critics have imagined that this book was written in the latter years of the Jewish monarchy, not long before the captivity; but this conjecture is repelled by the internal evidences above cited in favour of Solomon; and the occasional appearance of Aramæan words will be satisfactorily accounted for when we recollect the extensive commercial intercourse that existed between Solomon and the neighbouring nations. Dr. Kennicott was of opinion that this poem is many ages later than Solo-in the church before his time; but affirms that the idea of Solomon being mon, from the uniform insertion of the yod in all copies, in spelling the name of David; but this remark is not conclusive, for the name of David occurs but once (iv. 4.): and, after it had been written erroneously by a scribe in the time of Ezra, it might have been inadvertently copied by a subsequent
1 Prelim. Diss. pp. cix. cx. Mr. Des Voeux, in his learned and ingenious work on Ecclesiastes, was of opinion that the royal author's design was to prove the immortality of the soul, or rather the necessity of another state after this life, by such arguments as may be deduced from reason and experience. But Mr. Holden has satisfactorily shown that this is not the primary design of the book in question; though it contains some strong proofs of this article of religious faith. See his Prelim. Diss. pp. xlvii.-lx. 2 Calmet states that some of the rabbins ascribed this poem to Isaiah; but this opinion has long since been rejected. Dissert. tom. ii. p. 258.
Dr. Kennicott, Diss. i. pp. 20-22. Hewlett's Commentary on the Song of Solomon, Supplementary Observations, in fine. A writer of the present day (Mr. Bellamy), who has distinguished himself by his bold and paradoxical assertions, has stated his opinion to be, that it was a book of great VOL. II. 21
in the list of canonical books occurring in the synopsis attributed to Athanasius, who flourished in the third century, and in the catalogues of Jerome and Rufinus, towards the close of the fourth century, in which also we find it cited in Canons; since which time the Song of Songs has maintainthe Apostolical Constitutions, and also in the Apostolical ed its place in the sacred canon.
But, though the Song of Songs has come down to us thus strongly recommended by the voice of antiquity, its divine authority has been questioned in modern days. Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia, a bold critic, and a determined foe to is said to have spoken in disrespectful terms of this poem, allegorical interpretations, in the fourth and fifth centuries, as well as of the book of Job: but, as those accounts appear among the charges and accusations of his enemies, Dr. Lardner doubts the accuracy of such representation. In the early part of the last century, Simon and Le Clerc questioned subsequently, the eccentric writer Whiston boldly affirmed its authenticity, but were refuted by the elder Carpzov; and, antiquity in the time of the Hebrew king, and is the same which is referred to in the Psalms by the words "dark sayings of old." He thinks it possible that Solomon collected and incorporated the materials of this book, as David did other sacred songs of prophecy and praise, which were in use
the author of this Song of Songs is founded on a mis-translation of the He-
Josephus cont. Apion, book i. c. 8. Eusebius, following the Jewish historian, makes the Song of Songs the fifteenth of the number of canonical books. Eccl. Hist. lib. vi. c. 25.
Eusebius has preserved this catalogue of Melito in his Eccl. Hist. lib iv. c. 26.
Constit. Apostol. lib. vi. cc. 13. 18. tom. i. pp. 345. 351. Edit. Amst. 1724. Canon. Apostol. No. Ixxvi. Ibid. p. 453. Both these productions, though pretending to be of apostolical origin, are spurious compilations of the fourth century. See Dr. Lardner's Works, vol. iv. pp. 320-354. 8vo. ; 4to. vol. ii. pp. 421-441.
s Jortin's Remarks on Eccl. Hist. vol. i. p. 157. 2d edit. Dr. Lardner's Works, 8vo. vol. iv. pp. 509, 510.; 4to. vol. ii. p. 528.
it to be a dissolute love-song, composed by Solomon when advanced in years and dissolute in practice, and that, consequently, it ought to be excluded from the canon of the sacred books. This preposterous notion (for nothing like proof has been offered in its support) has, with some slight modification, been adopted by several later writers; and Semler, among others, declines taking any notice of it, as a work manifestly spurious. These objections, however, are sufficiently counteracted by the strong internal evidences of the authenticity of the Canticles, as well as by the uninterrupted current of Jewish and Christian antiquity.
III. That this book is a poem, all critics and expositors are agreed; though they are by no means unanimous to what class of Hebrew poetry it is to be referred. Michaelis, to whose profound researches biblical students are so deeply indebted, is of opinion that the object of this poem was simply to inculcate the divine approbation of marriage; and Mendelsohn, a learned German Jew, considers it as a representation, by Solomon's son, of a trial of skill between a shepherd and shepherdess; but the ideas of Mr. Harmer2 appear much more rational, who, though unwilling to give it the name of an epithalamium or nuptial dialogue, considers it to be a nuptial song, which will best be explained by compositions of a similar nature in Eastern countries. Bossuet, Bishop of Meaux, is of opinion that this song is a regular drama, which is to be explained by the consideration that the Jews were wont to celebrate their nuptials for seven days together, distinguished by peculiar solemnities. He accordingly divides it in the following manner:CHAP. i.-ii. 6.
ii. 7-17. iii.-v. 1.
v. 2.-vi. 9.
that the Song of Solomon cannot be one connected poem, In support of this mode of arrangement, Dr. Good remarks since the transitions are too abrupt for the wildest flights of the Oriental muse, and evidently imply a variety of opencient in almost every requisite that could give it such a ings and conclusions; while, as a regular drama, it is deficlassification; having neither dramatic fable nor action, involution nor catastrophe, and being without beginning, middle, or end. But in opposition to these strictures it may be observed, that bold transitions are so much the character of Eastern poetry, that this circumstance alone cannot decide against the individuality of the poem.
Further, the subject of the poem is the same from beginning to end; the personages introduced as speakers are the same; and, though to a modern reader the transitions in many places may seem abrupt, and the thoughts unconnected, yet the conduct of the piece is not suspended, but is carried on under a fable regularly constructed, and terminating in a conclusion interesting and unexpected."
vi. 10.-vii. 11. vii. 12.-viii. 3. viii. 4-14. Calmet, Bishop Percy, and Mr. Williams agree with Bossuet. Bishop Lowth, indeed, who has devoted two of his learned and elegant lectures to an examination of this poem, adopts the opinion of Bossuet, not as absolute demonstration, but as a very ingenious and probable conjecture upon an extremely obscure subject. He therefore deter-sidering the Song of Solomon as a series of Hebrew idyls, mines it to be a sacred pastoral drama, though deficient in some of the essential requisites of a regular dramatic composition.
Bauer, however, affirms this poem to be an idyl; the same opinion is intimated by Jahn, who makes it consist of eight idyls: but neither of these eminent critics assign any reasons for their opinion. Probably they derived it from Sir William Jones, who, having compared this poem with some of the cassides or idyls of the Arabian poets, concludes with
1 Apparatus ad liberalem Vet. Test. Interpretationem, pp. 209-214.
printed in 1775.)
3 Calmet, Commentaire Littéral, tom. v. pp. 68, 69., or Dissertationes, tom. ii. pp. 260-262.
In his "Song of Solomon, newly translated from the original Hebrew, In "The Song of Songs, which is by Solomon; a new Translation, with Commentary and Notes." 8vo. 1801.
with a Commentary and Annotations." 12mo. 1764.
With the eminent critics above cited we concur in con
like the Cassides of the poets of Arabia. With regard to the fair bride in whose honour this collection of exquisite poems was primarily composed, Bossuet, Calmet, Harmer, 12 Bishops Percy and Lowth, in short, we believe all modern commentators, have supposed the object of Solomon's attachment to be the royal daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Dr. Good, however, contends, and we think successfully, that she was a native of Palestine, and espoused some years later: it is not easy to believe that so impassioned a composition as the Song of Songs should have resulted from a state alliance. "The matrimonial connection of the Hebrew monarch with the Egyptian princess," Dr. Good observes, was probably, indeed, a connection of political interest alone; for we have no reason to conceive that it had been preceded by any personal intimacy or interchange of affection: the offer was proposed by him on his first accession to the throne, prior to his having received from Jehovah the the Song of Songs bears a very striking affinity to the Greek drama; the gift of superior wisdom; at a time when, according to Archchorus of virgins seems in every respect congenial to the tragic chorus of bishop Usher,13 he could not have been more than twenty the Greeks. They are constantly present, and prepared to fulfil all the years of age, when he was surrounded by a vast body of opduties of advice and consolation; they converse frequently with the prin-ponents and competitors, and when an alliance with the royal cipal characters; they are questioned by them, and they return answers to their inquiries; they take part in the whole business of the poem, and it does not appear that they quit the scene upon any occasion. Some of the learned have conjectured, that Theocritus, who was contemporary with the seventy Greek translators of the Scriptures, and lived with them in the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus, was not unacquainted with the beauties of this poem, and that he has almost literally introduced some passages from it into his elegant idyls. (Compare Cant. í. 9. vi. 10. with Theoc. xviii. 30. 26.; Cant. iv. 11. with Theoc. xx. 26.; Cant. viii, 6, 7. with Theoc. xxiii. 23-26.) It might also be suspected, that the Greek tragedians were indebted for their chorus to this poem of Solomon, were not the probabilities on the other side much greater, that the Greeks were made acquainted with it at too late a period; and were it not evident, that the chorus of the Greeks nad a very different origin; were it not evident, indeed, that the chorus was not added to the fable, but the fable to the chorus. Prælect. xxx. in fine, or vol. ii. pp. 307, 308. of Dr. Gregory's translation.
There is, however, one circumstance in which Bishop Lowth thinks
Herm. Sacr. p. 386.
Introd. ad Libros Sacros Veteris Fœderis, pp. 506-508. Jahn divides he poem in the following manner :
family of Egypt was likely to be of essential advantage to him: from which also, as a further proof of his politicalviews in such an union, he received the city of Gezer as a dowry with the princess (1 Kings ix. 16.) a city captured by Pharaoh from the Canaanites, and rased to the ground, probably from the obstinacy of its resistance; but afterwards rebuilt by Solomon, and converted into a place of considerable distinction. The matrimonial connection here celebrated, on the contrary, appears to have proceeded from reciprocal affection alone; and from the gentleness, modesty, and
Poëseos Asiaticæ Commentarii, cap. iii. (Works, vol. iv. or vi. p. 71. 8vo. edit.) 10 In his "Song of Songs, or Sacred Idyls, translated from the Hebrew, with Notes," 8vo. 1803. The Rev. Mr. Fry has adopted Dr. Good's arrangement of the Canticles into twelve idyls, in his translation of this book of the royal poet. London, 1811. 8vo.
11 Good's Song of Songs. Preface, p. iv.
12 On the supposition that Solomon married an Egyptian princess, this learned and ingenious writer considers the Song of Solomon as a lively emblem of the Messiah's admitting the Gentiles to equal privileges with the Jews. Outlines of a new Commentary, pp. 74-84.
13 An. Mund. 2971-2991..
delicacy of mind, which are uniformly and perpetually attributed to this beautiful and accomplished fair one, she must have been well worthy of royal fove. Instead of being of Egyptian origin, she herself informs us that she was a native of Sharon (Cant. ii. 1.), which was a canton of Palestine. Though not of royal blood, and it should seem from Cant. i. 6. of low extraction in comparison of her royal bridegroom, yet she must have been of noble birth; for she is addressed by her attendants under the appellation of princess or noble lady (Cant. vii. 1.); and though she could not augment by her dowry the dimensions of the national territory, she possessed for her marriage-portion a noble and fruitful estate in Baal-hammon (Cant. viii. 12.), ingeniously supposed by Mr. Harmer to have been situated in the delightful valley of Bocat in the immediate vicinity of Balbec, leased out to a variety of tenants, with whose number we are not acquainted, but every one of whom paid her a clear rental of a thousand shekels of silver, amounting to about 1207. 16s. 8d. sterling. From the possession of this property it is natural to conceive that her father was deceased; more especially as the house in which she resided is repeatedly called the house of her mother (Cant. iii. 4. viii. 2.), as it was her mother who betrothed her to the enamoured monarch (Cant. viii. 5.), and as no notice of any kind is taken of the exist ́ence of her father. She appears to have possessed two distinct families, and, consequently, to have had two marriages: for in Cant. i. 6. the royal bride speaks of an offspring considerably older than herself, whom she denominates not her father's but her mother's children, who seem to have taken an undue advantage of her infancy, and to have behaved with great unkindness towards her. For these she nowhere expresses any degree of affection; but for an own brother and sister, the former an infant, and the latter considerably younger than herself, she evinces the tenderest regard of the most affectionate bosom. (Cant. viii. 1. 8.)
"Of the age of this unrivalled beauty, at the time of her nuptials, we are nowhere informed. Being in possession of an estate bequeathed to her by her father, or some collateral relation, she must, at least, have acquired her majority according to the Hebrew ritual; yet, from the circumstance of her brother's being an unweaned infant, she could not have exceeded the prime of life; and from the exquisite delineations of her person by her companions as well as by her lover, she must have been in the full flower of youth and beauty. As to the age of king Solomon, we may fairly calculate it, from collateral circumstances, to have been about twenty-five or twenty-six, and, consequently, that the nuptials were celebrated about the year 1010 before the birth of Christ. At the age of twenty, he contracted his marriage of political interest with the Egyptian princess; and if he had not at this period complied with the luxurious fashion of his age, and opened his harem for the reception of the most beautiful women who could be found, and would consent to live with him, it is obvious that this establishment commenced very shortly afterwards."2
Before we proceed to offer any further remarks on the style of this sacred poem, justice requires that we notice another view of it which has been given by a learned and ingenious, though anonymous, writer in Dr. Rees's New Cyclopædia, which appears to be a modification of the opinion entertained by Mr. Harmer, above noticed. He regards it as a parable, in the form of a drama; in which the bride is considered as representing true religion; the royal lover as the Jewish people; the younger sister as the Gospel dispensation. The gradual expansion of it, from its first dawn in the garden of Eden, to its meridian effulgence produced by the death and resurrection of Christ, is supposed to be portrayed in these beautiful words :-"Who is he that looketh forth as the morning, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, and serene as the starry hcst?" (See vi. 10.) The epilogue in chap. viii. respecting the younger brother and sister, he further conceives, demonstrates that its views terminate in the temple service: while, at the same time, the allusion at the close to the rise of the Gospel and the conversion of the Gentiles, which took place so many hundred years after Solomon, proves that the author wrote under divine inspiration. The metaphorical sense, thus capable of being put upon every part of the poem, the anonymous writer apprehends justifies the high appellation of the Song of Songs, which has been given to it; and also accounts for its being regarded, by Jews and Christians, as a sacred
1 Outlines of a New Commentary, pp. 35, 36.
2 Good's Song of Songs, pp. xi.-xvi
composition, and for its reception first into the Jewish and then into the Christian church.3
From this view of the subject, it is impossible to withhold the praise of learning, piety, and ingenuity; but we conceive the Song of Solomon to have a more extended meaning than this author admits; and we cannot accede to his arrangement and exposition of its argument, for the following reasons:
It has been a question in all ages, whether the literal and obvious meaning of the Song of Solomon be the whole that was ever intended by the royal bard; or whether it does not, at the same time, afford the veil of a sublime and mystical allegory delineating the bridal union between Jehovah and his pure and uncorrupted church? Michaelis and most of the modern critics on the Continent advocate the former opinion; in which they are followed by some eminent critics in our own country, but the latter opinion is adopted by most commentators, Jewish and Christian. Among those who hold it to be allegorical, there is also much disagreement; some conceiving it to be no more than a simple allegory, while Bishop Lowth and others consider it as a mystical allegory, and are of opinion that under the figure of a marriage is typified the intimate connection between God and his church, of which a more concise model was furnished in the forty-fifth psalm. That this view of the subject is correct, we think will appear from the following considerations, principally extracted from Bishop Lowth:6
The narrowness and imbecility of the human mind, he observes, being such as scarcely to comprehend or attain a clear idea of any part of the divine nature by its utmost exertions; God has condescended, in a manner, to contract the infinity of his glory, and to exhibit it to our understandings under such imagery as our feeble optics are capable of contemplating. Thus the Almighty may be said to descend, as it were, in the Holy Scriptures, from the height of his majesty, to appear on earth in a human shape, with human senses and affections, in all respects resembling a mortal"with human voice and human form." This kind of allegory is called anthropopathy, and occupies a considerable portion of theology, properly so called, that is, as delivered in the Holy Scriptures. The principal part of this imagery is derived from the passions; nor, indeed, is there any one affection or emotion of the human soul which is not, with all its circumstances, ascribed in direct terms, without any qualification whatever, to the supreme God; not excepting those in which human frailty and imperfection is most evidently displayed, viz. anger and grief, hatred and revenge. That love, also, and that of the tenderest kind, should bear a part in this drama, is highly natural and perfectly consistent. Thus, not only the fondness of paternal affection is attributed to God, but also the force, the ardour, and the solicitude of conjugal attachment, with all the concomitant emotions, the anxiety, the tenderness, and the jealousy incidental to this passion.
After all, this figure is not in the least productive of obscurity; the nature of it is better understood than that of most others; and although it is exhibited in a variety of lights, it constantly preserves its native perspicuity. A peculiar people, of the posterity of Abraham, was selected by God from among the nations, and he ratified his choice by a solemn covenant. This covenant was founded upon reciprocal conditions; on the one part, love, protection, and support; on the other, faith, obedience, and worship pure and devout. This is that conjugal union between God and his church; that solemn compact so frequently celebrated by almost all the sacred writers under this image. It is, indeed, a remarkable instance of that species of metaphor which Aristotle calls analogical; that is, when in a propositior consisting of four ideas, the first bears the same relation to the second as the third does to the fourth, and the corresponding words may occasionally change their places without any injury to the sense. Thus, in this form of expression, God is supposed to bear exactly the same relation to the church as a husband to a wife; God is represented as the spouse of the church, and the church is betrothed to God. Thus also, when the same figure is maintained with a different mode of expression, and connected with different circumstances, the relation is still the same: thus the piety of
3 Dr. Rees's Cyclopædia, vol. vi. article Canticles.
Among others by Mr. Hewlett in his valuable Commentary.
On the nature of this species of allegory, see Vol. I. Part II Chap. 1. Sect. IV.
e Prælect. xxxi. vol. ii. pp. 312-321. Poet. chap. xxii. and Rhet. iii. 3.