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Song of Songs 4:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; Thine eyes are [as] doves behind thy veil. Thy hair is as a flock of goats, That lie along the side of mount Gilead.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair; thou [hast] doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair [is] as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “How beautiful you are, my darling, How beautiful you are! Your eyes are [like] doves behind your veil; Your hair is like a flock of goats That have descended from Mount Gilead.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair; thou [hast] doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair [is] as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Behold, thou art fair, my love; behold, thou art fair; Thine eyes are doves behind thy veil; Thy hair is as a flock of goats, On the slopes of mount Gilead.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— [HE] Lo! thou art beautiful, my fair one, Lo! thou art beautiful, Thine eyes, are doves, from behind thy veil,—Thy hair, is like a flock of goats, which are reclining on the sides of Mount Gilead:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Lo, thou [art] fair, my friend, lo, thou [art] fair, Thine eyes [are] doves behind thy veil, Thy hair as a row of the goats That have shone from mount Gilead,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— How beautiful art thou, my love, how beautiful art thou! thy eyes are doves' eyes, besides what is hid within. Thy hair is as flocks of goats, which come up from mount Galaad.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Behold, thou [art] faire, my loue, behold thou [art] faire, thou [hast] doues eyes within thy lockes: thy haire is as a flocke of goats, that appeare from mount Gilead.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Behold, thou art fair, my companion; behold, thou art fair; thine eyes are doves, beside thy veil: thy hair is as flocks of goats, that have appeared from Gilead{gr.Galaad}.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair; thou [hast] doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair [is] as a flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilad.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Behold, x2009
(2009) Complement
Prolonged for H2005; lo!.
thou [art] fair, 3303
{3303} Prime
From H3302; beautiful (literally of figuratively).
my love; 7474
{7474} Prime
Feminine of H7453; a female associate.
behold, x2009
(2009) Complement
Prolonged for H2005; lo!.
thou [art] fair; 3303
{3303} Prime
From H3302; beautiful (literally of figuratively).
thou [hast] doves' 3123
{3123} Prime
Probably from the same as H3196; a dove (apparently from the warmth of their mating).
eyes 5869
{5869} Prime
Probably a primitive word; an eye (literally or figuratively); by analogy a fountain (as the eye of the landscape).
within 1157
{1157} Prime
From H5704 with prepositional prefix; in up to or over against; generally at, beside, among, behind, for, etc.
(4480) Complement
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
thy locks: 6777
{6777} Prime
From an unused root meaning to fasten on; a veil.
thy hair 8181
{8181} Prime
(The second form used in Isaiah 7:20); from H8175 in the sense of dishevelling; hair (as if tossed or bristling).
[is] as a flock 5739
{5739} Prime
From H5737; an arrangement, that is, muster (of animals).
of goats, 5795
{5795} Prime
From H5810; a she goat (as strong), but masculine in plural (which also is used elliptically for goats' hair).
that appear 1570
{1570} Prime
A primitive root; probably to caper (as a goat).
(7945) Complement
For the relative H0834; used with prepositional prefix, and often followed by some pronoun affixed; on account of, what soever, which soever.
from mount 2022
{2022} Prime
A shortened form of H2042; a mountain or range of hills (sometimes used figuratively).
(4480) Complement
For H4482; properly a part of; hence (prepositionally), from or out of in many senses.
Gil`äđ גִּלעָד. 1568
{1568} Prime
Probably from H1567; Gilad, a region East of the Jordan; also the name of three Israelites.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Song of Songs 4:1

_ _ Contrast with the bride’s state by nature (Isaiah 1:6) her state by grace (Song of Songs 4:1-7), “perfect through His comeliness put upon her” (Ezekiel 16:14; John 15:3). The praise of Jesus Christ, unlike that of the world, hurts not, but edifies; as His, not ours, is the glory (John 5:44; Revelation 4:10, Revelation 4:11). Seven features of beauty are specified (Song of Songs 4:1-5) (“lips” and “speech” are but one feature, Song of Songs 4:3), the number for perfection. To each of these is attached a comparison from nature: the resemblances consist not so much in outward likeness, as in the combined sensations of delight produced by contemplating these natural objects.

_ _ doves’ — the large melting eye of the Syrian dove appears especially beautiful amid the foliage of its native groves: so the bride’s “eyes within her locks” (Luke 7:44). Maurer for “locks,” has “veil”; but locks suit the connection better: so the Hebrew is translated (Isaiah 47:2). The dove was the only bird counted “clean” for sacrifice. Once the heart was “the cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” Grace makes the change.

_ _ eyes — (Matthew 6:22; Ephesians 1:18; contrast Matthew 5:28; Ephesians 4:18; 1 John 2:16). Chaste and guileless (“harmless,” Matthew 10:16, Margin; John 1:47). John the Baptist, historically, was the “turtledove” (Song of Songs 2:12), with eye directed to the coming Bridegroom: his Nazarite unshorn hair answers to “locks” (John 1:29, John 1:36).

_ _ hair ... goats — The hair of goats in the East is fine like silk. As long hair is her glory, and marks her subjection to man (1 Corinthians 11:6-15), so the Nazarite’s hair marked his subjection and separation unto God. (Compare Judges 16:17, with 2 Corinthians 6:17; Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 2:9). Jesus Christ cares for the minutest concerns of His saints (Matthew 10:30).

_ _ appear from — literally, “that lie down from”; lying along the hillside, they seem to hang from it: a picture of the bride’s hanging tresses.

_ _ Gilead — beyond Jordan: there stood “the heap of witness” (Genesis 31:48).

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Song of Songs 4:1-7

_ _ Here is, I. A large and particular account of the beauties of the church, and of gracious souls on whom the image of God is renewed, consisting in the beauty of holiness. In general, he that is a competent judge of beauty, whose judgment, we are sure, is according to truth, and what all must subscribe to, he has said, Behold, thou art fair. She had commended him, and called all about her to take notice of his glories; and hereby she recommends herself to him, gains his favour, and, in return for her respects, he calls to all about him to take notice of her graces. Those that honour Christ he will honour, 1 Samuel 2:30.

_ _ 1. He does not flatter her, nor design hereby either to make her proud of herself or to court her praises of him; but, (1.) It is to encourage her under her present dejections. Whatever others thought of her, she was amiable in his eyes. (2.) It is to teach her what to value herself upon, not any external advantages (which would add nothing to her, and the want of which would deprive her of nothing that was really excellent), but upon the comeliness of grace which he had put upon her. (3.) It is to invite others to think well of her too, and to join themselves to her: “Thou art my love, thou lovest me and art beloved of me, and therefore thou art fair.” All the beauty of the saints is derived from him, and they shine by reflecting his light; it is the beauty of the Lord our God that is upon us, Psalms 90:17. She was espoused to him, and that made her beautiful. Uxor fulget radiis maritiThe spouse shines in her husband's rays. It it repeated, Thou art fair, and again, Thou art fair, denoting not only the certainty of it, but the pleasure he took in speaking of it.

_ _ 2. As to the representation here made of the beauty of the church, the images are certainly very bright, the shades are strong, and the comparisons bold, not proper indeed to represent any external beauty, for they were not designed to do so, but the beauty of holiness, the new man, the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible. Seven particulars are specified, a number of perfection, for the church is enriched with manifold graces by the seven spirits that are before the throne, Revelation 1:4; 1 Corinthians 1:5, 1 Corinthians 1:7.

_ _ (1.) Her eyes. A good eye contributes much to a beauty: Thou hast doves' eyes, clear and chaste, and often cast up towards heaven. It is not the eagle's eye, that can face the sun, but the dove's eye, a humble, modest, mournful eye, that is the praise of those whom Christ loves. Ministers are the church's eyes (Isaiah 52:8, thy watchmen shall see eye to eye); they must be like doves' eyes, harmless and inoffensive (Matthew 10:16), having their conversation in the world in simplicity and godly sincerity. Wisdom and knowledge are the eyes of the new man; they must be clear, but not haughty, not exercised in things too high for us. When our aims and intentions are sincere and honest, then we have doves' eyes, when we look not unto idols (Ezekiel 18:6), but have our eyes ever towards the Lord, Psalms 25:15. The doves' eyes are within the locks, which area as a shade upon them, so that, [1.] They cannot fully see. As long as we are here in this world we know but in part, for a hair hangs in our eyes; we cannot order our speech by reason of darkness; death will shortly cut those locks, and then we shall see all things clearly. [2.] They cannot be fully seen, but as the stars through the thin clouds. Some make it to intimate the bashfulness of her looks; she suffers not her eyes to wander, but limits them with her locks.

_ _ (2.) Her hair; it is compared to a flock of goats, which looked white, and were, on the top of the mountains, like a fine head of hair; and the sight was more pleasant to the spectator because the goats have not only gravity from their beards, but they are comely in going (Proverbs 30:29), but it was most pleasant of all to the owner, much of whose riches consisted in his flocks. Christ puts a value upon that in the church, and in believers, which others make no more account of than of their hair. He told his disciples that the very hairs of their head were all numbered, as carefully as men number their flocks (Matthew 10:30), and that not a hair of their head should perish, Luke 21:18. Some by the hair here understand the outward conversation of a believer, which ought to be comely, and decent, and agreeable to the holiness of the heart. The apostle opposes good works, such as become the professors of godliness, to the plaiting of the hair, 1 Timothy 2:9, 1 Timothy 2:10. Mary Magdalen's hair was beautiful when she wiped the feet of Christ with it.

_ _ (3.) Her teeth, Song of Songs 4:2. Ministers are the church's teeth; like nurses, they chew the meat for the babes of Christ. The Chaldee paraphrase applies it to the priests and Levites, who fed upon the sacrifices as the representatives of the people. Faith, by which we feed upon Christ, meditation, by which we ruminate on the word and chew the cud upon what we have heard, in order to the digesting of it, are the teeth of the new man. These are here compared to a flock of sheep. Christ called his disciples and ministers a little flock. It is the praise of teeth to be even, to be white, and kept clean, like sheep from the washing, and to be firm and well fixed in the gums, and not like sheep that cast their young; for so the word signifies which we translate barren. It is the praise of ministers to be even in mutual love and concord, to be pure and clean from all moral pollutions, and to be fruitful, bringing forth souls to Christ, and nursing his lambs.

_ _ (4.) Her lips; these are compared to a thread of scarlet, Song of Songs 4:3. Red lips are comely, and a sign of health, as the paleness of the lips is a sign of faintness and weakness; her lips were the colour of scarlet, but thin lips, like a thread of scarlet. The next words explain it: Thy speech is comely, always with grace, good, and to the use of edifying, which adds much to the beauty of a Christian. When we praise God with our lips, and with the mouth make confession of him to salvation, then they are as a thread of scarlet. All our good works and good words must be washed in the blood of Christ, dyed like the scarlet thread, and then, and not till then, they are acceptable to God. The Chaldee applies it to the chief priest, and his prayers for Israel on the day of atonement.

_ _ (5.) Her temples, or cheeks, which are here compared to a piece of a pomegranate, a fruit which, when cut in two, has rich veins or specks in it, like a blush in the face. Humility and modesty, blushing to lift up our faces before God, blushing at the remembrance of sin and in a sense of our unworthiness of the honour put upon us, will beautify us very much in the eyes of Christ. The blushes of Christ's bride are within her locks, which intimates (says Mr. Durham) that she blushes when no other sees, and for that which none sees but God and conscience; also that she seeks not to proclaim her humility, but modestly covers that too; yet the evidences of all these, in a tender walk, appear and are comely.

_ _ (6.) Her neck; this is here compared to the tower of David, Song of Songs 4:4. This is generally applied to the grace of faith, by which we are united to Christ, as the body is united to the head by the neck; this is like the tower of David, furnishing us with weapons of war, especially bucklers and shields, as the soldiers were supplied with them out of that tower, for faith is our shield (Ephesians 6:16): those that have it never want a buckler, for God will compass them with his favour as with a shield. When this neck is like a tower, straight, and stately, and strong, a Christian goes on in his way, and works with courage and magnanimity, and does not hang a drooping head, and he does when faith fails. Some make the shields of the mighty men, that are here said to hang up in the tower of David, to be the monuments of the valour of David's worthies. Their shields were preserved, to keep in remembrance them and their heroic acts, intimating that it is a great encouragement to the saints to hold up their heads, to see what great things the saints in all ages have accomplished and won by faith. In Heb. 11 we have the shields of the mighty men hung up, the exploits of believers and the trophies of their victories.

_ _ (7.) Her breasts; these are like two young roes that are twins, Song of Songs 4:5. The church's breasts are both for ornament (Ezekiel 16:7) and for use; they are the breasts of her consolation (Isaiah 66:11), as she is said to suck the breasts of kings, Isaiah 60:16. Some apply these to the two Testaments; others to the two sacraments, the seals of the covenant of grace; others to ministers, who are to be spiritual nurses to the children of God and to give out to them the sincere milk of the word, that they may grow thereby, and, in order to that, are themselves to feed among the lilies where Christ feeds (Song of Songs 2:16), that they may be to the babes of the church as full breasts. Or the breasts of a believer are his love to Christ, which he is pleased with, as a tender husband is with the affections of his wife, who is therefore said to be to him as the loving hind and the pleasant roe, because her breasts satisfy him at all times, Proverbs 5:19. This includes also his edifying others and communicating grace to them, which adds much to a Christian's beauty.

_ _ II. The bridegroom's resolution hereupon to retire to the mountain of myrrh (Song of Songs 4:6) and there to make his residence. This mountain of myrrh is supposed to signify Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, where incense was daily burnt to the honour of God. Christ was so pleased with the beauty of his church that he chose this to be his rest for ever; here he will dwell till the day break and the shadows flee away. Christ's parting promise to his disciples, as the representatives of the church, answer to this: Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Where the ordinances of God are duly administered there Christ will be, and there we must meet him at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Some make these to be the words of the spouse, either modestly ashamed of the praises given her, and willing to get out of the hearing of them, or desirous to be constant to the holy hill, not doubting but there to find suitable and sufficient succour and relief in all her straits, and there to cast anchor, and wish for the day, which, at the time appointed, would break and the shadows flee away. The holy hill (as some observe) is here called both a mountain of myrrh, which is bitter, and a hill of frankincense, which is sweet, for there we have occasion both to mourn and rejoice; repentance is a bitter sweet. But in heaven it will be all frankincense, and no myrrh. Prayer is compared to incense, and Christ will meet his praying people and will bless them.

_ _ III. His repeated commendation of the beauty of the spouse (Song of Songs 4:7): Thou art all fair, my love. He had said (Song of Songs 4:1), Thou art fair; but here he goes further, and, in review of the particulars, as of those of the creation, he pronounces all very good:Thou art all fair, my love; thou art all over beautiful, and there is nothing amiss in thee, and thou hast all beauties in thee; thou art sanctified wholly in every part; all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17); there is not only a new face and a new name, but a new man, a new nature; there is no spot in thee, as far as thou art renewed.” The spiritual sacrifices must be without blemish. There is no spot but such as is often the spot of God's children, none of the leopard's spots. The church, when Christ shall present it to himself a glorious church, will be altogether without spot or wrinkle, Ephesians 5:27.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Song of Songs 4:1

Behold — These words are evidently spoken by the bridegroom. Fair — Being clothed with my righteousness, and adorned with all the graces of my spirit. Fair — He repeats it both to confirm his assertion, and to shew the fervency of his affection. Dove's eyes — Whereas the beauty of the spouse is here described in her several parts, we need not labour much about the application of each particular to some distinct grace of the church, this being the chief design of the description to shew that compleatness and absolute perfection which the church hath in part received, and shall more fully receive in the future life. Goats — Which in these parts was of extraordinary length, and softness, and comeliness. Mount Gilead — A very fruitful place, fit for breeding all sorts of cattle, and especially of goats, because it was an hilly and woody country.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Song of Songs 4:1

Behold, thou [art] (a) fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair; thou [hast] doves' eyes within thy locks: thy hair [is] as a (b) flock of goats, that appear from mount Gilead.

(a) Because Christ delights in his Church, he commends all that is in her.

(b) He has respect for the multitude of the faithful, which are many in number.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Song of Songs 4:9-10 Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, [my] spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. ... How fair is thy love, my sister, [my] spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices!
Song of Songs 1:15 Behold, thou [art] fair, my love; behold, thou [art] fair; thou [hast] doves' eyes.
Song of Songs 2:10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Song of Songs 2:14 O my dove, [that art] in the clefts of the rock, in the secret [places] of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet [is] thy voice, and thy countenance [is] comely.
Psalms 45:11 So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he [is] thy Lord; and worship thou him.
Ezekiel 16:14 And thy renown went forth among the heathen for thy beauty: for it [was] perfect through my comeliness, which I had put upon thee, saith the Lord GOD.
2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

thou hast:

Song of Songs 5:12 His eyes [are] as [the eyes] of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, [and] fitly set.
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
Philippians 2:3-5 [Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. ... Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

thy hair:

Song of Songs 5:11 His head [is as] the most fine gold, his locks [are] bushy, [and] black as a raven.
Song of Songs 6:5 Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have overcome me: thy hair [is] as a flock of goats that appear from Gilead.
Song of Songs 6:7 As a piece of a pomegranate [are] thy temples within thy locks.
Song of Songs 7:5 Thine head upon thee [is] like Carmel, and the hair of thine head like purple; the king [is] held in the galleries.

appear from:
or, eat of, etc


Numbers 32:1 Now the children of Reuben and the children of Gad had a very great multitude of cattle: and when they saw the land of Jazer, and the land of Gilead, that, behold, the place [was] a place for cattle;
Numbers 32:40 And Moses gave Gilead unto Machir the son of Manasseh; and he dwelt therein.
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Nu 32:1, 40. Ps 45:11. So 1:15; 2:10, 14; 4:9; 5:11, 12; 6:5, 7; 7:5. Ezk 16:14. Mt 11:29. 2Co 3:18. Php 2:3.

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The first two lovely characteristics of the beauty of the Beloved Christ’s lover are her eyes and her hair. Spiritually these two features of a loving seeker go together. The hair of our separation and consecration affords the purity that is essential for the spiritual revelation of the eyes of our heart.
- Frank Pytel, "The Two Become One" (7/8/2017 5:47:33 AM)
Nearly twelve times in this love song, the Beloved Christ addresses His lover bride as “my love”. Since His love has so occupied her and transformed her into His beauty and delight she is called “my love”. Her love has become His love!
- Frank Pytel, "The Two Become One" (7/1/2017 8:30:38 AM)
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