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closely." In the exquisite description of a virtuous woman, against themselves to be inserted in the sacred canon, and in xxxi, 10—31., the initial letters of the verses follow the order with regard to the foreign expressions alleged by Grotius of the Hebrew alphabet.
(supposing all of them to be really, foreign expressions, IV. The Proverbs of Solomon hold a conspicuous rank which, however, is not the case),5 their appearance may be among the metrical books of the Old Testament. Not only accounted for by the circumstance of Solomon's having inare they admirably adapted to convey instruction by the dulged in sinful intercourse with strange women” (1 Kings treasures of practical wisdom which they open to us, but xi.
1, 2.), whose language he probably acquired. they also afford us a noble specimen of the didáctic poetry phenomena in the natural world, and their causes, of the
The beautiful descriptions which this book contains of the of the Hebrews, the nature of which they enable us to un- Circulation of the blood (as the late Bishop Horsley thought), derstand by means of the antithetic parallels with which they and of the economy of the human frame, all show it to be abound.2 Much, indeed, of the elegance, acuteness, and force, which are discernible in Solomon's wise sayings, is the work of a philosopher. It is generally supposed to have derived from the antithetic form, the opposition of diction been written by Solomon in his oli age, after he had repented and sentiment. Hence a careful attention to the parallelism of his sinful practices, and when, having seen and observed of members (which topic has already been largely discussed much, as well as having enjoyed every thing that he could in the first volume of this work) will contribute to remove wish, he was fully convinced of the vanity of every thing that obscurity in which some of the proverbs appear to be except piety towards God. The Rabbinical writers inform us, involved. Sometimes, also, one member or part of a pro- and their account is corroborated by Jerome, that the Jews, verb must be supplied from the other; or, as Glassius has who, after the captivity, collected the Inspired Writings into expressed it in other words, sometimes one thing is expressed the canon,
at first refused to admit this book into the sacred in one member, and another in the other, and yet both are to code, in consequence of some heresies and contradictions, be understood in both members. Thus, in Prov. x. 14. we which, from inattention to the author's scope and design, read,
they imagined to exist in it. But, after considering the exWise men lay up knowledge:
pressions it contains towards the close, relative to the fear But the inouch of the foolish is near destruction.
of God and the observation of his laws, they concluded to
receive it; and its canonical authority has been recognised The meaning of which is, that wise men communicate, for ever since. There can, indeed, be no doubt of its title to the benefit of others, the wisdom they have acquired and admission : Solomon was eminently distinguished by the preserved; while fools, being destitute of that knowledge, illumination of the divine Spirit, and had even twice witsoon exhaust their scanty stock, and utter not merely useless nessed the divine presence. (1 Kings iii. 5. ix. 2. xi. 9.) but even injurious things. Again,
The tendency of the book is excellent when rightly under A wise son maketh a glad father :
stood; and Solomon speaks in it with great clearness of the But a foolish son is the heaviness of his mother.
revealed truths of a future life and of a future judgment.? Prov. x. 1.
Bishop Lowth has classed this book among the didactic Both the father and mother are to be understood in the two poetry of the Hebrews: but Mr. Des Voeux considers it as inembers of this passage, although in the first the father only a philosophical discourse written in a rhetorical style, and is noticed, and in the second the mother only is mentioned. interspersed with verses, which are introduced as occasion Lastly, many things which are spoken generally, are to be To this opinion Bishop Lowth subsequently declared his
served; whence it obtained a place among the poetical books. restrained to particular individuals and circumstances: as,
assent. however, this rule has already been illustrated at length, it will not be necessary to multiply additional examples. The i. 2. and xiii. 13., viz. to demonstrate the vanity of all earthly
II. The Scope of this book is explicitly announced in ch. author, with much pleasure, refers his readers
to the Rev: objects, and to draw off
' men from the pursuit of them, as an the Proverbs of Solomon,” with Notes, as the best critical apparent good, to the fear of God, and communion with him, help to an exact understanding of this fine compendium of as to the highest and only permanent good in this life, and ethics that is extant in the English language.
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 inte SECTION IV.
rests of man? What is that good for the sons of men, which
they should do under the heaven all the days of their life? ON THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES.
(ii. 3.). “This is the object of the preacher's inquiry; and, I. Title, author, and canonical authority.-II. Scope and
after discussing various erroneous opinions, he finally detersynopsis.—III. Observations.
mines that it consists in 'TRUE WISDOM. The scope of the
whole argument, therefore, is the praise and recommendation 1. The title of this book in our Bibles is derived from the of WISDOM, as the supreme good to creatures responsible for Septuagint version, EKKAHETAŁTHE signifying a preacher, their actions. In this wisdom is not included a single paror one who harangues a public congregation. In Hebrew ticle of that which is worldly and carnal, so frequently posit is termed, from the initial word na (KOHLETH), “the sessed by men addicted to vice, the minions of avarice, and Preacher;" by whom may be intended, either the person the slaves of their passions; but that which is from above, assembling the people, or he who addresses them when that which is holy, spiritual, and undefiled, and which, in convened. Although this book does not bear the name of the writings of Solomon, is but another word for Religion. Solomon, it is evident from several passages that he was the Guided by this clue, we can easily traverse the intricate author of it. Compare ch. i. 12. 16. ii. 449. and xii. 9, 10. The celebrated Rabbi Kimchi, however, ascribes it to the of the four words which Grotius asserts to be foreign, viz. TD (SIR) a prophet Isaiah; and the Talmudical writers to Hezekiah. Thors, Eccl. vii. 6. 72'IN (ABJONAH) desire, xii. 5., TMD (pasitar) to inter. Grotius, from some foreign expressions which he thinks are pret, viii
. 1., and Dua (Gumatz) a pit
, x. 8., -two only can at all be con. discoverable in it, conceives that it was composed by order sidered as belonging to his argument ; for the first occurs in Exod. xvi. 3. of Zerubbabel for his son Abihud; Jahn, after some later and 2 Kings iv. 39. (Ileb.), and the second may be derived' from the He. German critics, for the same reason, thinks it was written brew root 73% (Aban) to wish: and although the last two are at present after the Babylonish captivity; and Zirkel imagines that it that they are not Hebrew, for how many other words are there in the He. was composed about the time of Antiochus Epiphanes, from brew language, the roots
of which are now only to be found in the kindred some traces of the notions of the Pharisees and Sadducees Arabic or Chaldes dialect? And if they shall
be deemed genuine Hebrew which he conceives he has discovered in this book, and words there surely is no reason why the last two words above cited should against which he supposes it to be directed. But it is not sius has long ago remarked, to observe of what trifling pretexts learned likely that those Jewish sects would permit a work levelled 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 1 Dr. Good's Dissertation on the Book of Proverbs, in Dr. Gregory's those of the late Professor Eichhorn, which are satisfactorily refuted by
Mr. Holden in his translation of Ecclesiastes, Prel. Diss. p. xiii. * On the Nature of the Scripture Proverbs, see Vol. I. Part II. Book II.
6 Bp. Horsley's Sermons,
vol. iii. pp. 189, 190. Mr. Holden has refuted Chap. I. Sect. VI.
this hypothesis, Ecclesiastes, pp. 173, 174. 3 See Vol. I. Part II. Book II. Chap. VI. Sect. I.
1 Carpzov, Introd. ad Libros Vet. Test. part ii. p. 222. Bp. Gray's Key, * The opinion of these and of other writers are satisfactorily refuted by p. 292. the Rev. Mr. Holden, in his “ Attempt to Illustrate the Book of Ecclesias- 8 In his "Philosophical and Critical Essay on the Book of Ecclesiastes, tes.” (8vo. London, 1822.) Preliminary Discourse, pp. v.-xxviii. 4to. London, 1760.
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 keep- preacher treated the subject; not with exact, philosophicus ing steadily in view the preacher's object, to eulogize method, but in a free and popular manner, giving au uncor Heavenly Wisdom, the whole admits of an easy and natural trolled range to his capacious intellect, and suffering hinise) interpretation; light is diffused around its obscurities; con- to be borne along by the exuberance of his thoughts and nection is discovered in that which was before disjointed; the vehemence of his feelings. But, though the methodica the argument receives additional force, the sentiments new disposition of his ideas is occasionally interrupted, his plan beauty ; and every part of the discourse, when considered in is still discernible; and perhaps he never wanders more from reference to this object, tends to develope the nature of True his principal object than most of the other writers in the Wisdom, to display its excellence, or to recommend its ac- Sacred Volume." quirement.
For the preceding view of the scope of this admirably - Hence he commences with the declaration that all is va- instructive book, the author is indebted to Mr. Holden"; nity,' which is not to be understood as implying any censure learned and elaborate attempt to illustrate it.? The following upon the works of creation, for God does nothing in vain, Synopsis (which is also borrowed from Mr. Holden) wil every thing being properly adapted to its end, and excellently give the reader a clear view of its design :fitted to display the power, wisdom, and goodness of the Part I. Tue vanITY OF ALL EARTHLY CONDITIONS OCCUPA Almighty. Yet when the things of this world are applied
TIONS, AND PLEASURES. to improper purposes; when they are considered as the end, while they are only intended to be the means; and are rested Sect. I. The vanity of all earthly things. (i. 2.) in as the source of happiness which they were not designed Sect. II. The unprofitableness of human labour, and the to afford, vanity is discovered to be their character; that transitoriness of human life. (i. 3-11.) which is most excellent becomes useless, if not injurious, by Sect. III. The vanity of laborious inquiries into the ways the abuse; and the works of Omnipotence, however wise and and works of man. (i. 12–18.) good in themselves, are unprofitable to those who misuse and Sect. IV. Luxury and pleasure are only vanity and vexation pervert them. It were a kind of blasphemy to vilify what
of spirit. (ii, 1–11.) ever has proceeded from Omniscient Power; and Solomon Sect. V. Though the wise excel fools, yet, as death happens can only be supposed to pronounce all things here below
to them both, human learning is but vanity. (ii. 12–17.) vain, when they are applied to a wrong use, by the ignorance Sect. VI. The vanity of human labour, in leaving it they and wickedness of man. Nor does he so denominate all
know not to whom. (ii. 18—23.)" things universally and without any exception, but only all
Sect. VII. The emptiness of sensual enjoyments. (ii, 24 earthly things, as wealth, pleasure, pomp, luxury, power, and -26.) whatever is merely human and terrestrial. "If these are
Sect. VIII. Though there is a proper time for the execution placed in competition with divine and heavenly things, or
of all human purposes, yet are they useless and vain; the are foolishly regarded as the means of real happiness, they
divine counsels, however, are immutable. (iii. 1-14.) become useless and unprofitable, because they are uncertain
Sect. IX. The vanity of human pursuits proved from the and transitory, never fully satisfying the desires of the soul,
wickedness prevailing in courts of justice, contrasted with nor producing permanent felicity. If worldly things are vain in these respects, it would, nevertheless, be presumption
the righteous judgment of God. (iii. 15—17.) and impiety to represent them as actually bad. They are
Sect. X. Though life, considered in itself, is vanity, for men good in themselves, and, when rightly used, tend only to
die as well as beasts, yet in the end, it will be very different good, since they contribute to the enjoyment of life, and, in
with the spirit of man and that of beasts. (iii. 18—22.) an eminent degree, to the ultimate and real interest of man. Sect. XI. Vanity is increased unto men by oppression. (iv.
1-3.) But if they are pursued as the only 'portion in this life, as constituting the happiness of beings formed for immortality,
Sect. XII. The vanity of prosperity. (iv. 4.). they are not estimated on right principles, and the result will Sect. XIII. The vanity of folly, or of preferring the world to be vexation and disappointment. Their vanity then, arises
True Wisdom. (iv. 5, 6.) from the folly and baseness of men, who, in forgetfulness of
Sect. XIV. The vanity of covetousness. (iv. 7, 8.) eternity, are too apt to regard this world as their sole and Sect. XV. Though society has its advantages, yet dominion final abode, and to expect that satisfaction from them which and empire are But vanity. (iv. 9–16.) they cannot give. Nor are they to be condemned on this Sect. XVI. Errors in the performance of divine worship, account. That they are insufficient to render man happy is which render it vain and unprofitable. (v. 1—7.) itself the ordination of Infinite Wisdom, and, consequently, Sect. XVII. The vanity of murmuring at injustice ; for best suited to a probationary state; wisely calculated for the though the oppression of the poor and the perversion of trial of man's virtue, and, by weaning him from too fond judgment greatly prevail, they do not escape the notice of attachment to things on earth, to stimulate his desires and the Almighty. (v. 8, 9.) exertions after the blessedness of another life.
Sect. XVIII. The vanity of riches; with an admonition as “In prosecuting his inquiry into the Chief Good, Solomon to the moderate enjoyment of them. (v. 10—20.) has divided his work into two parts. The first, which ex- Sect. XIX. The vanity of avarice. (vi. 1-9.) tends to the tenth verse of the sixth chapter, is taken up in Part II. THE NATURE, EXCELLENCE, AND BENEFICIAL EFFECTS 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, SECT. XX. Since all human designs, labours and enjoyments and in describing its nature, its excellence, its beneficial are vain, it is natural to inquire, What is good for man? effects. This division, indeed, is not adhered to throughout What is his Supreme Good ? (vi. 10–12.) The answer with logical accuracy; some deviations from strict method
is contained in the remainder of the book. are allowable in a popular discourse; and the author occa
Sect. XXI. The praise of character and reputation. (vii. 1.) sionally diverges to topics incidentally suggested; but, amidst
Sect. XXII. Affliction improves the heart, and exalts the these digressions, the distinctions of the two parts cannot character of the wise. (vii. 2-10.) escape the attentive reader. It is not the manner of the
Sect. XXIII. The excellence of Wisdom. (vii
. 11–14.) sacred writers to form their discourses in a regular series of
Sect. XXIV. An objection, with the answer. (vii. 15. viii. 7.) deductions and concatenated arguments : they adopt a species
Sect. XXV. The evil of wickedness shows the advantage of of composition, less logical indeed, but better adapted to
True Wisdom. (viii, 8–13.) common capacities, in which the subject is still kept in view,
Sect. XXVI. An objection, with the answer. (viii
. 14. ix. 1.) though not handled according to the rules of dialectics.
Sect. XXVII, An objection, with the answer. (ix. 2. x. 17.) Even St. Paul, whose reasoning powers are unquestionable,
Sect. XXVIII. The banefulness of sloth. (x. 18.) frequently digresses from his subject, breaks off abruptly in the middle of his argument, and departs from the strictness
Sect, XXIX. The power of wealth. (x, 19.)
Sect. XXX. An exhortation against speaking evil of digni · The finest commentary on this aphorism, Vanity of vanities, all is
ties. (x. 20.) vanity, was unintentionally furnished by the late celebrated Earl of Ches- Sect. XXXI. Exhortation to charity and benevolence. (xi terfield in one of his posthumous letters. See the passage at length in 1-10.) 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.
* Prelim. Diss. pp. Ixv. Ixviii.--Ixxii.
OF WISDOM OR RELIGION.
ON THE SONG OF SOLOMON.
Sect. XXXII. An exhortation to the early cultivation of re- II. If the canon of the Hebrew Scriptures was settled by ligious habits. (xiii, 1–7.)
Ezra (which we have already seen was most probably the Sect. XXXIII. The conclusion. (xii. 8--14.)"
case), there can be no doubt but that the Song of Solomon is III. Bishop Lowth pronounces the style of this book to a sacred book; for, to use the strong language of Bishop be singular: its language is generally low, frequently loose Warburton, “ Ezra wrote, and we may believe acted, ' by and unconnected, approaching to the incorrectness of conver- the inspiration of the Most High,' amid the last blaze indeed, sation; and it possesses very little poetical character, even yet in the full lustre of expiring prophecy. And such a man in the composition and structure of the periods : which pe- would not have placed any book that was not sacred in the culiarity, he thinks, may be accounted for from the nature same volume with the law and the prophets.”4 In addition of the subject. Leusden says, that in his time (the close of to this evidence, the following considerations will authorize the seventeenth century) the book of Ecclesiastes was read us to infer, that the Song of Solomon was, from the most in the Jewish synagogues on the feast of tabernacles ; be- early, period, deemed a sacred book, and ranked with the cause, as that feast commemorates the gladness and content Hagiographa or Holy Writings of the Jews, and thence with which their forefathers dwelt in tents, so this book, was received among the canonical books of the Old Testawhile it shows the vanity of all earthly things, inculcates on ment. every one the duty of rejoicing and being content with such
A Greek translation of it is extant, which without contrathings as God in his providence thinks fit to bestow.
diction 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 SECTION V.
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 I. Author.-II. Canonical authority.—III. Structure of the he was in the habit of consulting respecting the authority
poem.—Its subject and scope.— The Song of Solomon a and literal import of their sacred books, inserted it in his sublime mystical allegory.
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 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, i 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 prvn 7 (SHUR Palestine on purpose to learn the number of these books,
is placed by Cave about the year 170, who travelled into Song: Of this ancient poem the author is asserted, by the and who made the first catalogue of the Hebrew Scriptures. 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. 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 in the list of canonical books occurring in the synopsis the principal actor in the conduct of it. Allusions are made attributed to Athanasius, who flourished in the third century, to the rich furniture of his palace (i. 5.); to the horses and and in the catalogues of Jerome and Rufinus, towards the chariots which he purchased of Pharoah king of Egypt (i. 9. close of the fourth century, in which also we find it cited in compared with 1 Kings x. 28, 29.); to Aminadab, who was the Apostolical Constitutions, and also in the Apostolical eminent for such chariots, and who married one of Solomon's Canons; since which time the Song of Songs has maintaindaughters (vi. 12. with 1 Kings iv. 11.); to his building of ed its place in the sacred canon. the temple under the figure of a palanquin or coach for his
But, though the Song of Songs has come down to us thus bride (iii. 9, 10.); to the materials of which it was formed. strongly
recommended by the voice of antiquity, its divine In short, all the leading circumstances in Solomon's life, in authority has been questioned in modern days.' Theodore, a religious point of view, appear to be either alluded to or allegorical interpretations, in the fourth and fifth centuries,
Bishop of Mopsuestia, a bold critic, and a determined foe to implied in this ancient poem, and, therefore, render it proba is said to have spoken in disrespectful terms of this poem, ble that it was the production of some writer in his age, if as well as of the book of Job : but, as those accounts appear it were not his own composition. From the occurrence, however, of a few Aramæan words, some later critics have among the charges and accusations of his enemies, Dr. imagined that this book was written in the latter years of
Lardner doubts the accuracy of such representation. In the the Jewish monarchy, not long before the captivity; but this early part of the last century, Simon and Le Clerc questioned conjecture is repelled by the internal evidences above cited its authenticity, but were refuted by the elder Carpzov; and, in favour of Solomon; and the occasional appearance of subsequently, the eccentric writer Whiston boldly affirmed Aramæan words will be satisfactorily accounted for when we antiquity in the time of the Hebrew king, and is the same which is referred recollect the extensive commercial intercourse that existed be- to in the Psalms by the words “dark sayings of old." He thinks it possitween Solomon and the neighbouring nations. Dr. Kennicott ble that Solomon collected
and incorporated the materials of this book, as 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 the author of this song of Songs is founded on a mis-translation of the Hespelling the name of David ; but this remark is not
conclusive, a work
not yet published in support of his hypothesis, it is impossible to for the name of David occurs but once (iv. 4.): and, after it form a correct judgment respecting it: brut we may be permitted to obhad been written erroneously by a scribe in the time of Ezra, serve, that the internal evidences above noticed, which makes so strongly it might have been inadvertently copied by a subsequent against Dr. Kennicott, afford pretty strong corroboration of the universally transcriber.3
were acquainted with their native tongue. See the Classical Journal, vol. 1 Prelim. Diss. pp. cix. cx.
Mr. Des Voeux, in his learned and inge- • Bishop Gleig's edition of Stackhouse, vol. I, p. xxiii. nious work on Ecclesiastes, was of opinion that the royal author's design was 5 Josephus cont. Apion, book i. c. 8. Eusebius, following the Jewish to prove the immortality of the soul, or rather the necessity of another historian, makes the song of Songs the fifteenth of the number of canonistate after this life, by such arguments as may be deduced from reason and cal books. Eccl. Hist. lib. vi. c. 25. experience. But Mr. Holden has satisfactorily shown that this is not the 6 Eusebius has preserved this catalogue of Melito in his Eccl. list. lib primary design of the book in question; though it contains some strong iv. c. 26. proofs of this article of religious faith. See his Prelim. Diss. pp. xlvii.-Ix. Constit. Apostol. lib. vi. cc. 13. 18. tom. I. pp. 345. 351. Edit. Amst. 1724.
2 Calmet states that some of the rabbins aseribed this poem to Isaiah; Canon. Apostol. No. lxxvi. ibid. p. 133. Boih these productions, though but this opinion has long since been rejected. Dissert. tom. ii. p. 258. pretending to be of apostolical origin, are spurious compilations of the
3 Dr. Kennicott, Diss. i. pp. 20–22. Hewlett's Commentary on the Song fourth century. See Dr. Lardner's Works, vol. iv. pp. 300-354. Svo. ; of Solomon, Supplementary Observations, in fine. A writer of the present ito. vol. ii. pp. 421-441. day (Mr. Bellamy), who has distinguished himself by his bold and para- 8 Jortin's Remarks on Ecc). Hist. vol. I. p. 157. 2d edit. Dr. Lardner's doxical assertions, has stated his opinion to be, that it was a book of great' Works, 8vo. vol. iv. pp. 509, 510.; 4to. vol. ii. p. 528. VOL. II.
xv. p. 190.
it to be a dissolute love-song, composed by Solomon when expressing his judgment that this song ought to be classed advanced in years and dissolute in practice, and that, conse- among the Hebrew idyls.! quently, it ought to be excluded from the canon of the sacred Supported by the high authority of this distinguished books. This preposterous notion (for nothing like proof has scholar, Dr. Good,10 after Signor Melesegenio (a learned been offered in its support) has, with some slight modifica- Italian translator of this poem), considers the Song of Songs tion, been adopted by several later writers; and Semler, as forming, not one continued and individual poem, but a among others, declines taking any notice of it
, as a work series of poems, each distinct and independent of the other. manifestly spurious. These objections, however, are suffi- These he designates “ Sacred Idyls,” and makes them to be ciently counteracted by the strong internal evidences of the twelve in number; viz. authenticity of the Canticles, as well as by the uninterrupted IDYL 1
CHAP. i. 148. current of Jewish and Christian antiquity.
i. 9.-ii. 7. III. That this book is a poem, all critics and expositors
ii. 8-17. are agreed; though they are by no means unanimous to what
iii. 1-5. class of Hebrew poetry it is to be referred. Michaelis, to
iii. 6.-iv. 7. whose profound researches biblical students are so deeply
iv. 8.-v.1. indebted, is of opinion that the object of this poem was
v. 2.-vi. 10. simply to inculcate the divine approbation of marriage; and
vi. 11-13 Mendelsohn, a learned German Jew, considers it as a repre
vii. 1-9. sentation, by Solomon's son, of a trial of skill between a
vii. 10.-viii. 4. shepherd and shepherdess; but the ideas of Mr. Harmer2
viii. 5-7. appear much more rational, who, though unwilling to give it
viii. 8–14. the name of an epithalamium or nuptial dialogue, considers it to be a nuptial song, which will best be explained by that the Song of Solomon cannot be one connected poem,
*In support of this mode of arrangement, Dr. Good remarks compositions of a similar nature in Eastern countries. Bos- since the transitions
are too abrupt for the wildest flights of regular drama, which is to be explained by the consideration ings and conclusions; while
, as a regular drama, it is defidays together, distinguished by peculiar solemnities. He classification ; having neither dramatic fable nor action, invoaccordingly divides it in the following manner:
lution nor catastrophe, and being without beginning, middle, 1 CHAP. i.-ii. 6.
or end.11 But in opposition to these strictures it may be 2
observed, that bold transitions are so much the character of 3
Eastern poetry, that this circumstance alone cannot decide 4
v. 2.-vi. 9.
against the individuality of the poem. 5
vi. 10.-vii. 11.
Further, the subject of the poem is the same from begin6
vii. 12.-viii. 3.
ning to end; the personages introduced as speakers are the 7
same; and, though to a modern reader the transitions in Calmet, Bishop Percy, and Mr. Williams5 agree with many places may seem abrupt, and the thoughts unconnectBossuet. Bishop Lowth, indeed, who has devoted two of ed, yet the conduct of the piece is not suspended, but is carhis learned and elegant lectures to an examination of this ried on under a fable regularly constructed, and terminating poem, adopts the opinion of Bossuet, not as absolute demon- in a conclusion interesting and unexpected. stration, but as a very ingenious and probable conjecture With the eminent critics above cited we concur in conupon 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 like the Cassides of the poets of Arabia. With regard to some of the essential requisites of a regular dramatic com- the fair bride in whose honour this collection of exquisite position.
poems was primarily composed, Bossuet, Calmet, Harmer,12 Bauer, however, affirms this poem to be an idyl; the Bishops Percy and Lowth, in short, we believe all modern same opinion is intimated by Jahn, who makes it consist of commentators, have supposed the object of Solomon's ateight idyls:8 but neither of these eminent critics assign any tachment to be the royal daughter of Pharaoh king of Egypt. reasons for their opinion. Probably they derived it from Sír Dr. Good, however, contends, and we think successfully, William Jones, who, having compared this poem with some that she was a native of Palestine, and espoused some years of the cassides or idyls of the Arabian poets, concludes with later: it is not easy to believe that so impassioned a compo
sition as the Song of Songs should have resulted from a state 1 Apparatus ad liberalem Vet. Test. Interpretationem, pp. 209–214. alliance. 6. The matrimonial connection of the Hebrew : Outlines of a Commentary on Solomon's Song. (8vo. London, 1768, re- monarch with the Egyptian princess,” Dr. Good observes, printed in 1775.)
Calmet, Commentaire Littéral, tom. v. pp. 68, 69., or Dissertationes, tom. was probably, indeed, a connection of political interest ii. pp. 260-262
alone; for we have no reason to conceive that it had been * In his "Song of Solomon, newly translated from the original Hebrew, preceded by any personal intimacy or interchange of affecIn "The Song of Songs, which is by Solomon ; a new Translation, with tion : the offer was proposed by him on his first accession to Commentary and Notes." 8vo. 1801.
the throne, prior to his having received from Jehovah the • There is, however, one circumstance in which Bishop Lowth thinks 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, 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 opto their inquiries; they take part in the whole business of the poem, and family of Egypt
was likely to be of essential advantage to cipal characters ; they are questioned by them, and they return answers ponents and competitors, and when an alliance with the royal it does not appear that they quit the scene upon any occasion. Some of him: from which also, as a further proof of his políticalthe learned have conjectured, that Theocritus, who was contemporary views in such an union, he received the city of Gezer as a in the court of Ptolemy Philadelphus, was not unacquainted with the beau- dowry with the princess (1 Kings ix. 16.) -a city captured ties of this poem, and inat he has alınost literally introduced some passages by Pharaoh from the Canaanites, and rased to the ground, 30. 26. Cant. iv. 11. with Theoc. xx. 26. ; Cant. viii, 6, 7: with Theoc. xxii: probably from the obstinacy of its resistance; but afterwards 23–26. It might also be suspected, that the Greek tragedians were indebted rebuilt by Solomon, and converted into a place of considerafor their chorus to this poem of Solomon, were not the probabilities on the ble distinction. The matrimonial connection here celebrated, other side much greater, that the Greeks were made
acquainted with it at on the contrary, appears to have proceeded from recipronad a very different origin; were it not evident, indeed, that the chorus cal affection alone ; and from the gentleness, modesty, and 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. + Herm. Sacr. p. 386.
9 Poëseos Asiaticæ Commentarii, cap. iii. (Works, vol. iv. or vi. p. 71. * Introd. ad Libros Sacros Veteris Federis, pp. 506–508. Jahn divides he poem in the following manner :
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 arrangeCHAP. I. 1.-ii. 7.
ment of the Canticles into twelve idyls, in his translation of this book of the royal poet. London, 1811. 8vo.
ii Good's Song of Songs. Preface, p. iv. v. 2.--vi. 9.
12 On the supposition that Solomon married an Egyptian princess, this vi. 10.-viii. 3
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. viii. 13, 14.
13 An. Mund. 2971-2991. .
ii. 8.-iii. 5. iii. 6.-v. 1.
delicacy of mind, which are uniformly and perpetually attri-| composition, and for its reception first into the Jewish and buted to this beautiful and accomplished_fair one, she must then into the Christian church.3 have been well worthy of royal love. Instead of being of From this view of the subject, it is impossible to withhold Egyptian origin, she herself informs us that she was a native the praise of learning, piety, and ingenuity; but we conceive of Sharon (Cant. ii. 1.), which was a canton of Palestine. the Song of Solomon to have a more extended meaning than Though not of royal blood, and it should seem from Cant. i. this author admits; and we cannot accede to his arrange6. of low extraction in comparison of her royal bridegroom, ment and exposition of its argument, for the following yet she must have been of noble birth ; for she is addressed reasons:by her attendants under the appellation of princess or noble It has been a question in all ages, whether the literal and lady (Cant. vii. 1.); and though she could not augment by obvious meaning of the Song of Solomon be the whole that her dowry the dimensions of the national territory, she pos- was ever intended by the royal bard; or whether it does not, sessed for her marriage-portion a noble and fruitful estate in at the same time, afford the veil of a sublime and mystical Baal-hammon (Cant. viii. 12.), ingeniously supposed by Mr. allegory delineating the bridal union between Jehovah and Harmer to have been situated in the delightful valley of his pure and uncorrupted church? Michaelis and most of Bocat in the immediate vicinity of Balbec,1 leased out to a the modern critics on the Continent advocate the former variety of tenants, with whose number we are not acquaint- opinion; in which they are followed by some eminent critics ed, but every one of whom paid her a clear rental of a thou- in our own country, but the latter opinion is adopted by sand shekels of silver, amounting to about 1201. 16s. 8d. most commentators, Jewish and Christian. sterling. From the possession of this property it is natural Among those who hold it to be allegorical, there is also to conceive that her father was deceased; more especially as much disagreement; some conceiving it to be no more than the house in which she resided is repeatedly called the a simple allegory, while Bishop Lowth and others consider house of her mother (Cant. iii. 4. viii. 2.), as it was her it as a mystical allegory, and are of opinion that under the mother who betrothed her to the enamoured monarch (Cant. figure of a marriage is typified the intimate connection beviii. 5.), and as no notice of any kind is taken of the exist- tween God and his church, of which a more concise model ence of her father. She appears to have possessed two dis- was furnished in the forty-fifth psalm. That this view of tinct families, and, consequently, to have had two marriages: the subject is correct, we think will appear from the folfor in Cant. i. 6. the royal bride speaks of an offspring con- lowing considerations, principally extracted from Bishop siderably older than herself, whom she denominates not her Lowth:6– father's but her mother's children, who seem to have taken The narrowness and imbecility of the human mind, he an undue advantage of her infancy, and to have behaved observes, being such as scarcely to comprehend or attain a with great unkindness towards her. For these she nowhere clear idea of any part of the divine nature by its utmost exexpresses any degree of affection ; but for an own brother ertions; God has condescended, in a manner, to contract the and sister,—the former an infant, and the latter considerably infinity of his glory, and to exhibit it to our understandings younger than herself,—she evinces the tenderest regard of under such imagery as our feeble optics are capable of conthe most affectionate bosom. (Cant. viii. 1. 8.)
templating. Thus the Almighty may be said to descend, “Of the age of this unrivalled beauty, at the time of her as it were, in the Holy Scriptures, from the height of his nuptials, we are nowhere informed. Being in possession majesty, to appear on earth in a human shape, with human of an estate bequeathed to her by her father, or some collateral senses and affections, in all respects resembling a mortal — relation, she must, at least, have acquired her majority ac- “ with human voice and human form." This kind of allecording to the Hebrew ritual ; yet, from the circumstance of gory is called anthropopathy, and occupies a considerable her brother's being an unweaned infant, she could not have portion of theology, properly so called, that is, as delivered exceeded the prime of life; and from the exquisite delinea- in the Holy Scriptures. The principal part of this imagery tions of her person by her companions as well as by her is derived from the passions; nor, indeed, is there any one lover, she must have been in the full flower of youth and affection or emotion of the human soul which is not, with all beauty. As to the age of king Solomon, we may fairly cal- its circumstances, ascribed in direct terms, without any culate it, from collateral circumstances, to have been about qualification whatever, to the supreme God; not excepting twenty-five or twenty-six, and, consequently, that the nup- those in which human frailty and imperfection is most tials were celebrated about the year 1010 before the birth of evidently displayed, viz. anger and grief, hatred and revenge. Christ. At the age of twenty, he contracted his marriage That love, also, and that of the tenderest kind, should bear of political interest with the Egyptian princess; and if he a part in this drama, is highly natural and perfectly conhad not at this period complied with the luxurious fashion sistent. Thus, not only the fondness of paternal affection is of his age, and opened his harem for the reception of the attributed to God, but also the force, the ardour, and the most beautiful women who could be found, and would con- solicitude of conjugal attachment, with all the concomitant sent to live with him, it is obvious that this establishment emotions, the anxiety, the tenderness, and the jealousy incicommenced very shortly afterwards."'2
dental to this passion. Before we proceed to offer any further remarks on the After all, this figure is not in the least productive of obstyle of this sacred poem, justice requires that we notice scurity; the nature of it is better understood than that of another view of it which has been given by a learned and most others; and although it is exhibited in a variety of ingenious, though anonymous, writer in Dr. Rees's New lights, it constantly preserves its native perspicuity. A peCyclopædia, which appears to be a modification of the opinion culiar people, of the posterity of Abraham, was selected by entertained by Mr. Harmer, above noticed. He regards it God from among the nations, and he ratified his choice by a as a parable, in the form of a drama; in which the bride is solemn covenant. This covenant was founded upon reciproconsidered as representing true religion; the royal lover as cal conditions ; on the one part, love, protection, and supthe Jewish people; the younger sister as the Gospel dis- port; on the other, faith, obedience, and worship pure and pensation. The gradual expansion of it, from its first dawn devout. This is that conjugal union between God and his in the garden of Eden, to its meridian effulgence produced church; that solemn compact so frequently celebrated by by the death and resurrection of Christ, is supposed to be almost all the sacred writers under this image. It is, indeed, portrayed in these beautiful words :—“Who is he that look- a remarkable instance of that species of metaphor which eth forth as the morning, fair as the moon, bright as the Aristotle calls analogical; that is, when in a propositior sun, and serene as the starry hcst ?" (See vi. 10.) The consisting of four ideas, the first bears the same relation to epilogue in chap. viii. respecting the younger brother and the second as the third does to the fourth, and the corressister, he further conceives, demonstrates that its views ter- ponding words may occasionally change their places without minate in the temple service: while, at the same time, the any injury to the sense. Thus, in this form of expression, allusion at the close to the rise of the Gospel and the con- God is supposed to bear exactly the same relation to the version of the Gentiles, which took place so many hundred church as a husband to a wife; God is represented as the years after Solomon, proves that the author wrote under spouse of the church, and the church is betrothed to God. divine inspiration. The metaphorical sense, thus capable Thus also, when the same figure is maintained with a difof being put upon every part of the poem, the anonymous ferent mode of expression, and connected with different cirwriter apprehends justifies the high appellation of the Song cumstances, the relation is still the same: thus the piety of of Songs, which has been given to it; and also accounts for
3 Dr. Rees's Cyclopedia, vol. vi. article Canticles. its being regarded, by Jews and Christians, as a sacred * Among others by Mr. Hewlett in his valuable Commentary.
s On the nature of this species of allegory, see Vol. I. Part II Chap. 1. 1 Outlines of a New Commentary, pp. 35, 36.
e Prælect. xxxi. vol. ii. pp. 312–321. - Good's Song of Songs, pp. xi. xvi
• Puet. cha
xxii. and Rhet. iii. 3.