Song of Solomon 6:8
There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number.
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(8) There are threescore queens.—Presumably a description of Solomon’s harem (from comp. with Song of Solomon 8:11-12), though the numbers are far more sober than in 1Kings 11:3. Probably the latter marks a later form of the traditions of the grand scale on which everything at the court of the monarch was conducted, and this, though a poetic, is a truer version of the story of his loves. The conjunction of alamôth with concubines, pilageshîm (comp. παλλακή, pellex), decides for translating it puellœ rather than virgines.

Song of Solomon 6:8-9. There are threescore queens — A certain number for an uncertain. The sense seems to be this: there are many beautiful queens and concubines in the world, in the courts of princes, but none of them is to be compared with my spouse. My undefiled is but one — The only beloved of my soul, my only spouse. The only one of her mother — She is as dear and as precious to me as only children use to be to their parents, and especially to their mothers. The daughters saw her — Called virgins, Song of Solomon 6:8. They praised her — As more beautiful and worthy than themselves.

6:4-10 All the real excellence and holiness on earth centre in the church. Christ goes forth subduing his enemies, while his followers gain victories over the world, the flesh, and the devil. He shows the tenderness of a Redeemer, the delight he takes in his redeemed people, and the workings of his own grace in them. True believers alone can possess the beauty of holiness. And when their real character is known, it will be commended. Both the church and believers, at their first conversion, look forth as the morning, their light being small, but increasing. As to their sanctification, they are fair as the moon, deriving all their light, grace, and holiness from Christ; and as to justification, clear as the sun, clothed with Christ, the Sun of righteousness, and fighting the good fight of faith, under the banners of Christ, against all spiritual enemies.Even for the king the gentle eyes of the bride have an awe-striking majesty. Such is the condescension of love. Now follows Sol 6:5-7 the longest of the repetitions which abound in the Song, marking the continuance of the king's affection as when first solemnly proclaimed Sol 4:1-6. The two descriptions belong, according to some (Christian) expositors, to the Church of different periods, e. g. to the primitive Church in the splendor of her first vocation, and to the Church under Constantine; other (Jewish) expositors apply them to "the congregation of Israel" under the first and second temples respectively.8. threescore—indefinite number, as in So 3:7. Not queens, &c., of Solomon, but witnesses of the espousals, rulers of the earth contrasted with the saints, who, though many, are but "one" bride (Isa 52:15; Lu 22:25, 26; Joh 17:21; 1Co 10:17). The one Bride is contrasted with the many wives whom Eastern kings had in violation of the marriage law (1Ki 11:1-3). Threescore queens, and fourscore concubines; a certain number for an uncertain. The sense seems to be this, There are many beautiful queens and concubines in the world, in the courts of princes, and particularly in Solomon’s court; but none of them is to be compared with my spouse, and my heart is set upon none of them, but only upon my spouse, as the following verse declareth. Or the queens and concubines may note the particular congregations which are called by Christ’s name, and the virgins may signify the particular believers or professors; all which do make up one catholic church, as it follows. See Poole "Psalm 45:10", See Poole "Psalm 45:14", See Poole "Psalm 45:15". Virgins; either,

1. Which wait upon the queens and concubines. Or,

2. Which were reserved as a nursery, out of which queens and concubines were to be taken.

There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. In this verse and Sol 6:9 the church is commended as she stood related to others; and is compared with them, and preferred to them. The words may be considered either as an assertion, "there are", &c. or as a supposition, "though there be", &c. yet Christ's church is but one, and excels them all. "Queens" are principal and lawful wives of kings; "concubines", secondary or half wives, as the word (i) signifies; who were admitted to the bed, but their children did not inherit: "virgins", unmarried persons, maids of honour, who waited on the queen. The allusion is to the custom of kings and great personages, who had many wives, and more concubines, and a large number of virgins to wait on them; see 1 Kings 11:3; or to a nuptial solemnity, and the ceremony of introducing the bride to the bridegroom, attended with a large number of persons of distinction; and so Theocritus (k) speaks of four times sixty virgins attending the nuptials of Menelaus and Helena; see Psalm 45:9. By all which may be meant either the kingdoms and nations of the world; by "queens", the more large, rich and flourishing kingdoms; by "concubines", inferior states; and by "virgins without number", the vast multitudes of inhabitants that fill them; but all, put together, are not equal to the church; see Sol 2:2; or else false churches; by "queens", such who boast of their riches and number, as the church of Rome, Revelation 18:7; by "concubines", such as are inferior in those things, but equally corrupt, as Arians, Socinians, &c. and by "virgins without number", the multitudes of poor, weak, ignorant people, seduced by them; and what figure soever these make, or pretensions to be the true churches of Christ, they are none of his, his spouse is preferred to them all. Or rather true believers in Christ, of different degrees, are here meant; queens, those that have the greatest share of gifts grace, most nearness to Christ, and communion with him; by "concubines", believers of a lower class, and of a more servile spirit, and yet sometimes are favoured with, fellowship with Christ; and by "virgins", young converts, who have not so large an experience as the former; and this distribution agrees with 1 John 2:13; and the rather this may be the sense, since each of these are said to praise the church in Sol 6:9, who is preferable to them, and includes them all.

(i) "secundariae uxores", Michaelis. (k) Idyll. 18. v. 24.

There are {d} sixty queens, and eighty concubines, and virgins without number.

(d) Meaning that the gifts are infinite which Christ gives to his Church: or that his faithful are many in number.

8. This is evidently a description of a hareem, and it can only be Solomon’s own. The word translated are here is somewhat anomalous, and Budde would substitute ‘to Solomon are.’ But this is a much more moderate hareem than the account of Solomon’s given in the historical books would lead us to expect, e.g. 1 Kings 11:3, where we read of 700 wives and 300 concubines. Solomon being here the speaker, it is natural that he should in his present circumstances minimise the size of his establishment, and veil it under the vague last phrase.

queens] These are wives of royal birth.

concubines] Heb. pîlaghshîm, plur. of pîlegesh or pillegesh, appears in Greek as πάλλαξ, παλλακή, and is probably there a loan word from the Semitic peoples. But the derivation is unknown. Oettli says that as the king speaks here, he witnesses against Delitzsch’s idea that he was united in marriage to the Shulammite in ch. Song of Solomon 5:1, by using the word tammâthî, ‘my undefiled’; but that is surely to press the word too far. Marriage was not regarded as impairing a woman’s purity.

virgins] The word used here, ‘ǎlâmôth, does not necessarily mean ‘virgins,’ but young women of marriageable age. Consequently, either subordinate members of the hareem, or young women not yet, but about to be, taken into it are intended.

Verses 8, 9. - There are three score queens, and four score concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my undefiled is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the choice one of her that bare her. The daughters saw her, and called her blessed; yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her. The account given us of Solomon's harem in 1 Kings 11:3 represents the number as much larger. Is not that because the time referred to in the poem was early in the reign? The words are an echo of what we read in Proverbs 31:28 and Genesis 30:13. Perhaps the general meaning is merely to celebrate the surpassing beauty of the new bride. But there certainly is a special stress laid on her purity and innocence. There is no necessity to seek for any exact interpretation of the queens and concubines. They represent female beauty in its variety. The true Church is in closer relation to the Bridegroom than all the rest of the world. Even in the heathen and unconverted world there is a revelation of the Word, or, as the ancient Fathers of the Church said, a Λόγος σπερματὶκος. He was then as light, though the darkness comprehended him not. The perfection of the true bride of the Lamb will be acknowledged even by those who are not professedly Christian. Song of Solomon 6:88 There are sixty queens,

   And eighty concubines,

   And virgins without number.

9 One is my dove, my perfect one, -

   The only one of her mother,

   The choice one of her that bare her.

   The daughters saw her and called her blessed, -

   Queens and concubines, and they extolled her.

Even here, where, if anywhere, notice of the difference of gender was to be expected, המּה stands instead of the more accurate הנּה (e.g., Genesis 6:2). The number off the women of Solomon's court, 1 Kings 11:3, is far greater (700 wives and 300 concubines); and those who deny the Solomonic authorship of the Song regard the poet, in this particular, as more historical than the historian. On our part, holding as we do the Solomonic authorship of the book, we conclude from these low numbers that the Song celebrates a love-relation of Solomon's at the commencement of his reign: his luxury had not then reached the enormous height to which he, the same Solomon, looks back, and which he designates, Ecclesiastes 2:8, as vanitas vanitatum. At any rate, the number of 60 מלכות, i.e., legitimate wives of equal rank with himself, is yet high enough; for, according to 2 Chronicles 11:21, Rehoboam had 18 wives and 60 concubines. The 60 occurred before, at Sol 3:7. If it be a round number, as sometimes, although rarely, sexaginta is thus used (Hitzig), it may be reduced only to 51, but not further, especially here, where 80 stands along with it. פילגשׁ (פּלּגשׁ), Gr. πάλλαξ παλλακή (Lat. pellex), which in the form פּלּקתּא (פּלקתא) came back from the Greek to the Aramaic, is a word as yet unexplained. According to the formation, it may be compared to חרמשׁ, from חרם, to cut off; whence also the harem bears the (Arab.) name ḥaram, or the separated synaeconitis, to which access is denied. And ending in is (ש) is known to the Assyr., but only as an adverbial ending, which, as 'istinis equals לבדּו, alone, solus, shows is connected with the pron. su. These two nouns appear as thus requiring to be referred to quadrilitera, with the annexed שׁ; perhaps פלגשׁ, in the sense of to break into splinters, from פּלג, to divide (whence a brook, as dividing itself in its channels, has the name of פּלג), points to the polygamous relation as a breaking up of the marriage of one; so that a concubine has the name pillěgěsh, as a representant of polygamy in contrast to monogamy.

In the first line of Sol 6:9 אחת is subj. (one, who is my dove, my perfect one); in the second line, on the contrary, it is pred. (one, unica, is she of her mother). That Shulamith was her mother's only child does not, however, follow from this; אחת, unica, is equivalent to unice dilecta, as יחיד, Proverbs 4:3, is equivalent to unice dilectus (cf. Keil's Zechariah 14:7). The parall. בּרה has its nearest signification electa (lxx, Syr., Jerome), not pura (Venet.); the fundamental idea of cutting and separating divides itself into the ideas of choosing and purifying. The Aorists, Sol 6:9, are the only ones in this book; they denote that Shulamith's look had, on the part of the women, this immediate result, that they willingly assigned to her the good fortune of being preferred to them all, - that to her the prize was due. The words, as also at Proverbs 31:28, are an echo of Genesis 30:13, - the books of the Chokma delight in references to Genesis, the book of pre-Israelitish origin. Here, in Sol 6:8, Sol 6:9, the distinction between our typical and the allegorical interpretation is correctly seen. The latter is bound to explain what the 60 and the 80 mean, and how the wives, concubines, and "virgins" of the harem are to be distinguished from each other; but what till now has been attempted in this matter has, by reason of its very absurdity or folly, become an easy subject of wanton mockery. But the typical interpretation regards the 60 and the 80, and the unreckoned number, as what their names denote, - viz. favourites, concubines, and serving-maids. But to see an allegory of heavenly things in such a herd of women - a kind of thing which the Book of Genesis dates from the degradation of marriage in the line of Cain - is a profanation of that which is holy. The fact is, that by a violation of the law of God (Deuteronomy 17:17), Solomon brings a cloud over the typical representation, which is not at all to be thought of in connection with the Antitype. Solomon, as Jul Sturm rightly remarks, is not to be considered by himself, but only in his relation to Shulamith. In Christ, on the contrary, is no imperfection; sin remains in the congregation. In the Song, the bride is purer than the bridegroom; but in the fulfilling of the Song this relation is reversed: the bridegroom is purer than the bride.

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