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Song of Songs 8:8 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— We have a little sister, And she hath no breasts: What shall we do for our sister In the day when she shall be spoken for?
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “We have a little sister, And she has no breasts; What shall we do for our sister On the day when she is spoken for?
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— We have a little sister, And she hath no breasts: What shall we do for our sister In the day when she shall be spoken for?—
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— [THEY] A sister, have we, a little one, and, breasts, hath she none, What shall we do for our sister, in the day when she may be spoken for?
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— We have a little sister, and breasts she hath not, What do we do for our sister, In the day that it is told of her?
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Our sister is little, and hath no breasts. What shall we do to our sister in the day when she is to be spoken to?
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— We [haue] a litle sister, and shee [hath] no breasts: what shall we doe for our sister, in the day when she shall bee spoken for?
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Our sister is little, and has no breasts; what shall we do for our sister, in the day wherein she shall be spoken for?
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
We have a little 6996
{6996} Prime
From H6962; abbreviated, that is, diminutive, literally (in quantity, size or number) or figuratively (in age or importance).
sister, 269
{0269} Prime
Irregular feminine of H0251; a sister (used very widely (like H0250), literally and figuratively).
and she hath no x369
(0369) Complement
As if from a primitive root meaning to be nothing or not exist; a non-entity; generally used as a negative particle.
breasts: 7699
{7699} Prime
Probably from H7736 (in its original sense) contracted; the breast of a woman or animal (as bulging).
what x4100
(4100) Complement
A primitive particle; properly interrogitive what? (including how?, why? and when?); but also exclamations like what! (including how!), or indefinitely what (including whatever, and even relatively that which); often used with prefixes in various adverbial or conjugational senses.
shall we do 6213
{6213} Prime
A primitive root; to do or make, in the broadest sense and widest application.
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
for our sister 269
{0269} Prime
Irregular feminine of H0251; a sister (used very widely (like H0250), literally and figuratively).
in the day 3117
{3117} Prime
From an unused root meaning to be hot; a day (as the warm hours), whether literally (from sunrise to sunset, or from one sunset to the next), or figuratively (a space of time defined by an associated term), (often used adverbially).
when she shall be spoken for? 1696
{1696} Prime
A primitive root; perhaps properly to arrange; but used figuratively (of words) to speak; rarely (in a destructive sense) to subdue.
<8792> Grammar
Stem - Pual (See H8849)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 93
(7945) Complement
For the relative H0834; used with prepositional prefix, and often followed by some pronoun affixed; on account of, what soever, which soever.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Song of Songs 8:8

_ _ The Gentile Church (Ezekiel 16:48). “We,” that is, the Hebrew Church, which heretofore admitted Gentiles to communion, only by becoming Judaic proselytes. Now first idolatrous Gentiles are admitted directly (Acts 11:17-26). Generally, the saint’s anxiety for other souls (Mark 5:19; John 4:28, John 4:29).

_ _ no breasts — neither faith nor love as yet (see on Song of Songs 4:5), which “come by hearing” of Him who first loved us. Not yet fit to be His bride, and mother of a spiritual offspring.

_ _ what shall we do — the chief question in the early Church at the first council (Acts 15:23-29). How shall “the elder brother” treat the “younger,” already received by the Father (Luke 15:25-32)? Generally (2 Samuel 15:15; John 9:4; Acts 9:6; Galatians 6:10).

_ _ In the day ... spoken for — that is, when she shall be sought in marriage (Judges 14:7), namely, by Jesus Christ, the heavenly bridegroom.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Song of Songs 8:8-12

_ _ Christ and his spouse having sufficiently confirmed their love to each other, and agreed it to be on both sides strong as death and inviolable, they are here, in these verses, like a loving husband and his wife, consulting together about their affairs, and considering what they should do. Yoke-fellows, having laid their hearts together, lay their heads together, to contrive about their relations and about their estates; and, accordingly, this happy pair are here advising with one another about a sister, and a vineyard.

_ _ I. They are here consulting about their sister, their little sister, and the disposing of her.

_ _ 1. The spouse proposes her case with a compassionate concern (Song of Songs 8:8): We have a little sister and she has no breasts (she has not grown up to maturity); what shall we do for this little sister of ours in the day that she shall be spoken for, so as that we may do well for her? (1.) This may be understood as spoken by the Jewish church concerning the Gentile world. God has espoused the church of the Jews to himself, and she was richly endowed, but what shall become of the poor Gentiles, the barren that has not borne, and the desolate? Isaiah 54:1. Their condition (say the pious Jews) is very deplorable and forlorn; they are sisters, children of the same fathers, God and Adam, but they are little, because not dignified with the knowledge of God; they have no breasts, no divine revelation, no scriptures, no ministers, no breasts of consolation drawn out to them, when they might suck, being strangers to the covenants of promise, no breasts of instruction themselves to draw out to their children, to nourish them, 1 Peter 2:2. What shall we do for them? We can but pity them, and pray for them. Lord, what wilt thou do for them? The saints, in Solomon's time, might know, from David's psalms, that God had mercy in store for them, and they begged it might be hastened to them. Now the tables are turned; the Gentiles are betrothed to Christ, and ought to return the kindness by an equal concern for the bringing in of the Jews again, our eldest sister, that once had breasts, but now has none. If we take it in this sense, the unbelieving posterity of these pious Jews contradicted this prayer of their fathers; for, when the day came that the Gentiles should be spoken for and courted to Christ, instead of considering what to do for them they plotted to do all they could against them, which filled up the measure of their iniquity, 1 Thessalonians 2:16. Or, (2.) It may be applied to any other that belong to the election of grace, but are yet uncalled. They are remotely related to Christ and his church, and sisters to them both, other sheep that are not of this fold, John 10:16; Acts 18:10. They have no breasts, none yet fashioned (Ezekiel 16:7), no affection to Christ, no principle of grace. The day will come when they shall be spoken for, when the chosen shall be called, shall be courted for Christ, by the ministers, the friends of the bridegroom. A blessed day it will be, a day of visitation. What shall we do, in that day, to promote the match, to conquer their coyness, and persuade them to consent to Christ and present themselves chaste virgins to him? Note, Those that through grace are brought to Christ themselves should contrive what they may do to help others to him, to carry on the great design of his gospel, which is to espouse souls to Christ and convert sinners to him from whom they have departed.

_ _ 2. Christ soon determines what to do in this case, and his spouse agrees with him in it (Song of Songs 8:9): “If she be a wall, if the good work be once begun with the Gentiles, with the souls that are to be called in, if the little sister, when she shall be spoken for by the gospel, will but receive the word, and build herself upon Christ the foundation, and frame her doings to turn to the Lord, as the wall is in order to the house, we will build upon her a palace of silver, or build her up into such a palace; we will carry on the good work that is begun, till the wall become a palace, the wall of stone a palace of silver,” which goes beyond the boast of Augustus Caesar, that what he found brick he left marble. This little sister, when once she is joined to the Lord, shall be made to grow into a holy temple, a habitation of God through the Spirit, Ephesians 2:21, Ephesians 2:22. If she be a door, when this palace comes to be finished, and the doors of this wall set up, which was the last thing done (Nehemiah 7:1), then we will enclose here with boards of cedar; we will carefully and effectually protect her, that she shall receive no damage. We will do it; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, all concur in contriving, carrying on, and crowning, the blessed work when the time comes. Whatever is wanting shall be set in order, and the work of faith shall be fulfilled with power. Though the beginnings of grace be small, the latter end shall greatly increase. The church is in care concerning those that are yet uncalled. “Let me alone,” says Christ; “I will do all that which is necessary to be done for them. Trust me with it.”

_ _ 3. The spouse takes this occasion to acknowledge with thankfulness his kindness to her, Song of Songs 8:10. She is very willing to trust him with her little sister, for she herself had had great experience of his grace, and, for her part, she owed her all to him: I am a wall, and my breasts like towers. This she speaks, not as upbraiding her little sister that had no breasts, but comforting her concerning her, that he who had made her what she was, who had built her up upon himself and made her to grow up to maturity, could and would do the same kindness for those whose case she bore upon her heart. Then was I in his eyes as one that found favour. See, (1.) What she values herself upon, her having found favour in the eyes of Jesus Christ. Those are happy, truly happy, and for ever so, that have the favour of God and are accepted of him. (2.) How she ascribes the good work of God in her to the good-will of God towards her: “He has made me a wall and my breasts as towers, and then, in that instance more than in any thing, I experienced his love to me.” Hail, thou that art highly favoured, for in thee Christ is formed. (3.) What pleasure God takes in the work of his own hands. When we are made as a wall, as a brazen wall (Jeremiah 1:18; Jeremiah 15:20), that stands firmly against the blast of the terrible ones (Isaiah 25:4), then God takes delight in us to do us good. (4.) With what joy and triumph we ought to speak of God's grace towards us, and with what satisfaction we should look back upon the special times and seasons when we were in his eyes as those that find favour; these were days never to be forgotten.

_ _ II. They are here consulting about a vineyard they had in the country, the church of Christ on earth considered under the notion of a vineyard (Song of Songs 8:11, Song of Songs 8:12): Solomon had a vineyard at Baal-hamon, had a kingdom in the possession of a multitude, a numerous people. As he was a type of Christ, so his vineyard was a type of the church of Christ. Our Saviour has given us a key to these verses in the parable of the vineyard let out to the unthankful husbandmen, Matthew 21:33. The bargain was that, every one of the tenants having so much of the vineyard assigned him as would contain 1000 vines, he was to pay the annual rent of 1000 pieces of silver; for we read (Isaiah 7:23) that in a fruitful soil there were 1000 vines at 1000 silverlings. Observe, 1. Christ's church is his vineyard, a pleasant and peculiar place, privileged with many honours; he delights to walk in it, as a man in his vineyard, and is pleased with its fruits. 2. He has entrusted each of us with his vineyard, as keepers of it. The privileges of the church are that good thing which he has committed to us, to be kept as a sacred trust. The service of the church is to be our business, according as our capacity is. Son, go work today in my vineyard. Adam, in innocency, was to dress the garden, and to keep it. 3. He expects rent from those that are employed in his vineyard and entrusted with it. He comes, seeking fruit, and requires gospel-duty of all those that enjoy gospel-privileges. Every one, of what rank or degree soever, must bring glory and honour to Christ, and do some service to the interest of his kingdom in the world, in consideration of what benefit and advantage they enjoy by their share of the privileges of the vineyard. 4. Though Christ has let out his vineyard to keepers, yet still it is his, and he has his eye always upon it for good; for, if he did not watch over it night and day (Isaiah 27:1, Isaiah 27:2), the watchmen, to whom he has let it out, would keep it but in vain, Psalms 127:1. Some take these for Christ's words (Song of Songs 8:12): My vineyard, which is mine, is before me; and they observe how he dwells upon his property in it: It is my vineyard, which is mine; so dear is his church to him, it is his own in the world (John 13:1), and therefore he will always have it under his protection; it is his own, and he will look after it. 5. The church, that enjoys the privileges of the vineyard, must have them always before her. The keeping of the vineyard requires constant care and diligence. They are rather the words of the spouse: My vineyard, which is mine, is before me. She has lamented her fault and folly in not keeping her own vineyard (Song of Songs 1:6), but now she resolves to reform. Our hearts are our vineyards, which we must keep with all diligence; and therefore we must have a watchful jealous eye upon them at all times. 6. Our great care must be to pay our rent for what we hold of Christ's vineyard, and to see that we do not go behind-hand, nor disappoint the messengers he sends to receive the fruits (Matthew 21:34): Thou, O Solomon! must have 1000, and shalt have. The main of the profits belong to Christ; to him and his praise all our fruits must be dedicated. 7. If we be careful to give Christ the praise of our church-privileges, we may then take to ourselves the comfort and benefit of them. If the owner of the vineyard have had his due, the keepers of it shall be well paid for their cares and pains; they shall have 200, which sum, no doubt, was looked upon as a good profit. Those that work for Christ are working for themselves, and shall be unspeakable gainers by it.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Song of Songs 8:8

We — These are still the words of the bride. The present church, which was that of the Jews, speaks of a future church, which was to consist of the Gentiles, which she calls little, because she was the younger sister, and then scarce had a being; and she calls her sister to intimate that the Gentile — church should be admitted to the same privileges with the Jews. She hath — No grown and full breasts, as virgin have when they are ripe for marriage, Ezekiel 16:7. This signifies the present state of the Gentiles, which as yet were not grown up, and wanted the milk or food of life, as for itself, so also for its members. When spoken for — In order to her marriage. How shall we supply that defect?

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Song of Songs 8:8

(e) We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?

(e) The Jewish Church speaks this of the Church of the Gentiles.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance
a little:

Ezekiel 16:46 And thine elder sister [is] Samaria, she and her daughters that dwell at thy left hand: and thy younger sister, that dwelleth at thy right hand, [is] Sodom and her daughters.
Ezekiel 16:55-56 When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall return to your former estate. ... For thy sister Sodom was not mentioned by thy mouth in the day of thy pride,
Ezekiel 16:61 Then thou shalt remember thy ways, and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters, thine elder and thy younger: and I will give them unto thee for daughters, but not by thy covenant.
Ezekiel 23:33 Thou shalt be filled with drunkenness and sorrow, with the cup of astonishment and desolation, with the cup of thy sister Samaria.
John 10:16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd.
Acts 15:14-17 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. ... That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things.
Romans 15:9-12 And that the Gentiles might glorify God for [his] mercy; as it is written, For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. ... And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

she hath:

Song of Songs 8:10 I [am] a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.
Song of Songs 4:5 Thy two breasts [are] like two young roes that are twins, which feed among the lilies.
Song of Songs 7:3 Thy two breasts [are] like two young roes [that are] twins.
Psalms 147:19-20 He sheweth his word unto Jacob, his statutes and his judgments unto Israel. ... He hath not dealt so with any nation: and [as for his] judgments, they have not known them. Praise ye the LORD.
Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and [with] our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:
Romans 3:1-2 What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit [is there] of circumcision? ... Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.
Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:


Psalms 2:8 Ask of me, and I shall give [thee] the heathen [for] thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth [for] thy possession.
Psalms 72:17-19 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and [men] shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed. ... And blessed [be] his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled [with] his glory; Amen, and Amen.
Isaiah 49:6 And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
Isaiah 60:1-5 Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. ... Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee.
Isaiah 60:10-11 And the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls, and their kings shall minister unto thee: for in my wrath I smote thee, but in my favour have I had mercy on thee. ... Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that [men] may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and [that] their kings [may be] brought.
Acts 10:1-48 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian [band], ... And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.
Acts 11:1-18 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. ... When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.
Acts 16:9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us.
Acts 22:21 And he said unto me, Depart: for I will send thee far hence unto the Gentiles.
Acts 26:17-18 Delivering thee from the people, and [from] the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, ... To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Romans 10:12-15 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. ... And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
Ephesians 2:13-15 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. ... Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained] in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace;
Ephesians 2:19-22 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; ... In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

in the day:

Luke 19:44 And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.
1 Peter 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by [your] good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Ps 2:8; 72:17; 147:19. So 4:5; 7:3; 8:10. Is 49:6; 60:1, 10. Ezk 16:46, 55, 61; 23:33. Lk 19:44. Jn 10:16. Ac 7:38; 10:1; 11:1; 15:14; 16:9; 22:21; 26:17. Ro 3:1; 10:12; 15:9. Ep 2:12, 13, 19. 1P 2:12.

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