Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary, 1859 edition.

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Canticles v.

Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Apple-trees. The spouse, submitting to God's will, is content to suffer. (Worthington) --- She addresses her beloved, and as he had praised her, under the similitude of a delightful garden, she invites him into it. (Calmet) --- I, &c. Christ again approves of her patience, and invites the saints to congratulate with her. (Worthington) --- He always hears his Church, Matthew xxviii. 20., and Mark xi. 24. (Calmet) --- The saints had prayed for Christ's coming; and accordingly, (Isaias lviii. 9.) he takes flesh of the most pure virgin. (St. Athanasius, Synop.) --- Comb. Septuagint, "bread." --- Milk. Chaldean, "white wine." But (Calmet) milk and wine may be taken together. (Clem. Pæd. i. 6.) --- The chaste delights of retired and penitent souls are thus described: (Calmet) Dulciores sunt lacrymæ orantium quam gaudia theatrorum. (St. Augustine, Psalm cxxviii." "The tears of penitents are the wine of angels, because in them is the odour of life." (St. Bernard, ser. 30.) --- Inebriated. Not so as to lose reason, Genesis xliii. 34. (Calmet) --- Protestants marginal note, "be drunk with loves." (Haydock) (Proverbs v. 19., and vii. 18.) This wine of love, is the blessed Eucharist, which maketh virgins to spring forth, (Zacharias ix. 17.) and is a foretaste of heaven, Psalm xxxv. 9. It makes us forget the old man, (Calmet) and raises the mind to God. (St. Cyprian, ep. 63.) --- To this feast Christ invites his disciples, Matthew xxvi., and 1 Corinthians xi. (Menochius) --- Myrrh. Implies that they must be mortified. (Haydock)

Ver. 2. Knocking. The spouse had retired to rest, as her beloved delayed longer than usual. But love is ever on the watch. (Calmet) --- She wished to meditate, but is called upon to assist others, and excited by Christ's own example. (Worthington) --- Dew. Having been out in the evening, preceding this fourth night. This denotes imperfect Christians, who remain, indeed, attached to the head, but are a disgrace to it, by their scandalous lives. (St. Augustine, tr. 57 in John) (St. Gregory) (Calmet) --- Such was the state of many in the days of Luther, who accordingly joined the first reformers. See Philips's Life of Card. Pole. p. 364. (Haydock) --- Nights. Anacreon (ode 1.) has something similar. Christ knocks by his inspirations and chastisements, and he is better heard in the night of tribulation, Apocalypse iii. 20. (Calmet) --- Heretics began to blaspheme Christ, after the Church had only enjoyed a short peace, (Menochius) after the ten persecutions.

Ver. 3. Garment. By this is designated the tunic, which was undermost. (Haydock) --- Feet. People in that climate had their feet bare in the house, and even on journies only wore sandals: so that frequent washing was requisite, Genesis xviii. 4., and 1 Timothy v. 10. These excuses were vain, and Christ would not regard them, Matthew xxv. 1., and Luke xii. 35. (Theodoret) (Calmet) --- The care of souls brings on many external occupations, which contemplative men would decline. (St. Gregory) (Menochius)

Ver. 4. Touch. Of me, (Cassiodorus) or rather of the door or window. I was grieved that I had made him wait so long. (Calmet) --- Hebrew, "were moved for him." Protestants' marginal note, "or (as some read) in me." Pagnin prefers this; Septuagint and Montanus the former explanation of halaiv. (Haydock) --- Grace moves us to begin and prosecute good works. (St. Gregory of Nyssa) (Theodoret) --- Christ gives it more abundantly, to make the champions of the Church contend with adversity. (Menochius)

Ver. 5. Arose. The Church employs herself in active life, still retaining a desire to return to contemplation, ver. 8. (Worthington)

Ver. 8. Love. She seems insensible to the insults received. (Calmet) --- The Church prays to the saints on earth, and in heaven. (Menochius)

Ver. 10. Ruddy. Or shining. Et color in niveo corpore purpureus. The divine and human nature, or the conception and sufferings of Christ are thus described. (Calmet) --- The spouse gives this admirable description of her beloved. (Haydock)

Ver. 11. Gold. God is the head of Christ, (1 Corinthians xi. 3.) and is most pure. (N.[Menochius?]) --- The guards of Solomon were powdered with gold dust. (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities) --- Branches. Elatæ, or fruits of the male palm-tree. (Theodoret) (Pliny, [Natural History?] xiii. 4.)

Ver. 13. Set by. Protestants, "as sweet flowers." --- Choice. Literally, "the first," ver. 5. (Haydock) --- The modesty and words of Christ excited admiration, 1 Peter ii. 21., and John vii. 46. (Calmet) --- He exhorted sinners to repent, and rebuked the obstinate. (Menochius)

Ver. 14. Hyacinths. Or purple veins. (Calmet) --- Protestants, "hands are as gold rings set with the beryl." Hebrew, "full of Tharsis," (Haydock) or precious stones, (Menochius) from that country, (Exodus xxviii.) with which his rings were ornamented. (Calmet) --- Sapphires. His belt or garment is thus ornamented. (Sanchez) --- The works of Christ proceeded from his infinite charity for mankind, whose salvation he greatly desired, (Mark vii. 37., and 1 Corinthians xv. 22., and 1 Timothy ii. 4.) so that none can perish but by their own fault. (Calmet)

Ver. 16. Lovely. Hebrew and Septuagint, "desires." (Menochius) --- The beauty of Christ is chiefly interior; and all must aim at this perfection, who would be his spouses, Psalm xliv. 3. (Calmet)

Ver. 17. Seek. The fervent resolve to seek Christ, wherever he may be. (Worthington) --- His praises excite many to love him. (Menochius)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Christ calls his spouse: she languishes with love: and describes him by his graces.

1 Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat the fruit of his apple-trees. I am come into my garden, O my sister, my spouse, I have gathered my myrrh, with my aromatical spices: I have eaten the honeycomb with my honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, and drink, and be inebriated, my dearly beloved.

2 I sleep, and my heart watcheth; the voice of my beloved knocking: Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is full of dew, and my locks of the drops of the nights.

3 I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet, how shall I defile them?

4 My beloved put his hand through the key-hole, and my bowels were moved at his touch.

5 I arose up to open to my beloved: my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers were full of the choicest myrrh.

6 I opened the bolt of my door to my beloved: but he had turned aside, and was gone. My soul melted, when he spoke: I sought him, and found him not: I called, and he did not answer me.

7 The keepers that go about the city found me: they struck me, and wounded me: the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

8 I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, that you tell him that I languish with love.

9 What manner of one is thy beloved of the beloved, O thou most beautiful among women? what manner of one is thy beloved of the beloved, that thou hast so adjured us?

10 My beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands.

11 His head is as the finest gold: his locks as branches of palm-trees, black as a raven.

12 His eyes as doves upon brooks of waters, which are washed with milk, and sit beside the plentiful streams.

13 His cheeks are as beds of aromatical spices set by the perfumers. His lips are as lilies dropping choice myrrb.

14 His hands are turned, and as of gold, full of hyacinths. His belly as of ivory, set with sapphires.

15 His legs as pillars of marble, that are set upon bases of gold. His form as of Libanus, excellent as the cedars.

16 His throat most sweet, and he is all lovely: such is my beloved, and he is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.

17 Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou most beautiful among women? whither is thy beloved turned aside, and we will seek him with thee?