Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Canticles i.

Notes & Commentary:

[Title.] Canticles. Hebrew shir hashirim asher Lishlomo, "the Canticle of Canticles which is for (Haydock) or according to Solomon," (Menochius) dictated to him by the Holy Ghost.

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

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

Ver. 3-4. To, &c., is in the Septuagint; but not in Hebrew or Complutensian. (Calmet) --- Grace must draw, and then people will run, John vi. 44., and xii. 32., and Philippians iii. 12. (St. Ambrose) (Bossuet) --- Rooms. Where there is abundance of wine and ointments. The extraordinary favours of heaven are not granted to all, Matthew xiii. 11. (Calmet) --- Righteous. The apostles, and faithful souls, (Haydock) and all who form a right judgment of things, (Menochius) having their thoughts, works, and actions composed. (Tirinus) --- Black. Or brown, ver. 5. (Haydock) --- The Egyptians were of a less fair complexion, and she had been exposed to the sun, ver. 5. (Calmet) --- The synagogue gloried in her advantages; but the Gentiles being chosen by Christ, obtain the palm. (Theodoret) --- Though outwardly afflicted, the Church is inwardly fair. (Worthington) --- Cedar. Or of the Arabs, who dwelt in tents, made of black goat's hair. (Calmet) --- The tents of the eastern kings were equal in magnificence to our palaces. (Bernier, Valle, &c.)

Ver. 5. Altered. Hebrew, "looked upon me," (Protestants) or "darted his rays at me." (Montanus) (Haydock) --- The Church of the Gentiles was quite disfigured before Christ chose it. Persecutors afterwards strove to tarnish its beauty, but in vain. --- Vineyard. My face (Calmet) and person I have not regarded, while I was attentive to serve others. (Haydock) --- Pastors, who are chosen against their will, sometimes pay so much attention to the welfare of their flock, that they neglect their own interior, and fall into small faults, which Christ will know how to excuse and pardon, Ezechiel xxxiii. 2. (St. Bernard, ser. xxx.) (Calmet)

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

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

Ver. 8. Company. Hebrew, "mare." Such were preferred, as more gentle and swift. Pharao had probably made his son-in-law a present of a magnificent chariot. Theocritus (xviii.) compares the beautiful Helena to a Thessalian horse in a chariot, so that this idea is not low, Genesis xlix. 14., and Osee x. 11. (Calmet) --- Horsemen. Protestants, "horses." (Haydock) --- Hebrew susa. Septuagint e ippos means also "cavalry," as well as a mare. The Church has nothing to fear. (Menochius)

Ver. 9. As, &c. Hebrew, "with rows of jewels, thy neck with chains of gold." (Protestants) --- Septuagint here read like the Vulgate c instead of b before thurim, which signifies chains, (ver. 10.; Haydock) as well as turtles. We cannot say that this bird has cheeks. (Calmet) --- It is an emblem of the Church mourning, and ever true to her beloved, (Origen, &c.) who bestows a variety of graces on different people, 1 Corinthians xii. 4. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. While. The Church meditates on his passion and resurrection. (Worthington) --- Repose. Or bed. Thus our Saviour was treated, Matthew xxvi. 7., and Luke vii. 37. (Calmet) --- Odour. The virtues of the Church please him. (Menochius) --- The saints, before and since his coming, pray with all earnestness, Apocalypse v. 8.

Ver. 12. Abide. Hebrew adds, "all night." Christ remained nine months in the virgin's womb. (Calmet) --- The faithful discover him in both the Testaments, (Haydock) and meditate on his sufferings. Myrrh is a bitter but odoriferous liquor.

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

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

Ver. 15. Behold. The spouse makes a return of praise, and thanksgiving for her repose, to Christ. (Worthington) --- The corporal beauty of Solomon or of our Saviour is not fully ascertained; but their inward perfections are often proclaimed. --- Flourishing. Hebrew, "green." Septuagint, "shaded." (Esther i. 5.) --- This bed was the womb of the blessed Virgin [Mary], the cross, or any faithful soul. St. Bernard says it is a monastery, retired and adorned with all virtues. (Calmet)

Ver. 16. Beams. Prelates. --- Rafters. Virtuous subjects. (Menochius) --- Cypress. The are both odoriferous and incorruptible. The cypress has leaves from top to bottom, and grows not so large as the cedar. (Pliny, [Natural History?] xii. 17.)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

The spouse aspires to an union with Christ; their mutual love for one another.

1 Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are better than wine,

2 Smelling sweet of the best ointments. Thy name is as oil poured out; therefore young maidens have loved thee.

3 Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The king hath brought me into his store-rooms: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the righteous love thee.

4 I am black, but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

5 Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.

6 Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou liest in the mid-day, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy companions.

7 If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents of the shepherds.

8 To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened thee, O my love.

9 Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtle dove's, thy neck as jewels.

10 We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.

11 While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the odour thereof.

12 A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my breasts.

13 A cluster of cyprus my love is to me, in the vineyards of Engaddi.

14 Behold thou art fair, O my love, behold thou art fair, thy eyes are as those of doves.

15 Behold, thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is flourishing.

16 The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress-trees.