Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Tues 091201 pm SoS 4

Song of Songs 4

As Keel points out, for the most part the descriptions focus on dynamic powers rather than shapes. So the eyes are not shaped like doves but act like doves.
Matthews, Victor Harold ;  Chavalas, Mark W. ;   Walton, John H.: The IVP Bible Background Commentary  : Old Testament. electronic ed. Downers Grove, IL : InterVarsity Press, 2000, S. So 4:7
Gilead...  a mountainous region east of Jordan. From its mountainous character it is called “the mount of Gilead” (Gen. 31:25). It is called also “the land of Gilead” (Num. 32:1), and sometimes simply “Gilead” (Ps. 60:7; Gen. 37:25). It comprised the possessions of the tribes of Gad and Reuben and the south part of Manasseh (Deut. 3:13; Num. 32:40). It was bounded on the north by Bashan, and on the south by Moab and Ammon (Gen. 31:21; Deut. 3:12-17). “Half Gilead” was possessed by Sihon, and the other half, separated from it by the river Jabbok, by Og, king of Bashan. The deep ravine of the river Hieromax (the modern Sheriat el-Mandhur) separated Bashan from Gilead, which was about 60 miles in length and 20 in breadth, extending from near the south end of the Lake of Gennesaret to the north end of the Dead Sea. Abarim, Pisgah, Nebo, and Peor are its mountains mentioned in Scripture.

4.10  my sister...  What's with that!?  I would assume it is a term of endearment or closness, but its sounds weird to my 21st century western ears.
4.13  pomegranates... 
    The pomegranate tree, Punica granatum (Natural Order, Granateae) occurs usually as a shrub or small tree 10-15 ft. high, and is distinguished by its fresh green, oval leaves, which fall in winter, and its brilliant scarlet blossoms (compare Song of Solomon 7:12). The beauty of an orchard of pomegranates is referred to in Song of Solomon 4:13. The fruit which is ripe about September is apple-shaped, yellow-brown with a blush of red, and is surmounted by a crown-like hard calyx; on breaking the hard rind, the white or pinkish, translucent fruits are seen tightly packed together inside. The juicy seeds are sometimes sweet and sometimes somewhat acid, and need sugar for eating. The juice expressed from the seeds is made into a kind of syrup for flavoring drinks, and in ancient days was made into wine:
   "I would cause thee to drink of spiced wine, of the juice (margin "sweet wine") of my pomegranate" (Song of Solomon 8:2). The beauty of a cut section of pomegranate--or one burst open naturally, when fully ripe--may have given rise to the comparison in Song of Solomon 4:3; 6:7: "Thy temples are like a piece of a pomegranate." The rind of the pomegranate contains a very high percentage of tannic acid, and is employed both as a medicine and for tanning, particularly in making genuine morocco leather.  --ISBE

Throughout the Orient, the pomegranate has since earliest times occupied a position of importance alongside the grape and the fig. According to the Bible, King Solomon possessed an orchard of pomegranates, and, when the children of Israel, wandering in the wilderness, sighed for the abandoned comforts of Egypt, the cooling pomegranates were remembered longingly. Centuries later, the prophet Muḥammad remarked, “Eat the pomegranate, for it purges the system of envy and hatred.”

4.13   henna...

   Lawsonia is named after Isaac Lawson, an 18th century Scottish army doctor who was a friend of Linnaeus; inermis means unarmed without spines).
The plant
   Henna is a shrub that can grow up to 7 m high at its tallest, with greyish-brown bark. Its wood is close-grained and hard and is used to make tool handles and tent pegs.
   Leaves - used as a skin and hair dye and in traditional medicine. They are almond-shaped, tapering at the end attached to the tree.
   Flowers - used in traditional medicine and oil for perfumery. They are sweet-scented and creamy-white in colour, in dense clusters at ends of branches. Each flower has 4 greenish-yellow petals, 4 sepals and 8 stamens.
   Fruits - seeds are used in traditional medicine and oil for perfumery. They are spherical in shape, about the size of a small pea (5-7 mm wide), brown when ripe and contain many little pyramid-shaped seeds.

4.14  saffron...
Saffron-based pigments have been found in 50,000 year-old depictions of prehistoric beasts in what is today Iraq. Later, the Sumerians used wild-growing saffron in their remedies and magical potions Saffron was an article of long-distance trade before the Minoan palace culture's 2nd millennium BC peak. Ancient Persians cultivated Persian saffron (Crocus sativus 'Hausknechtii') in Derbena, Isfahan, and Khorasan by the 10th century BC. At such sites, saffron threads were woven into textiles, ritually offered to divinities, and used in dyes, perfumes, medicines, and body washes. Thus, saffron threads would be scattered across beds and mixed into hot teas as a curative for bouts of melancholy. Non-Persians also feared the Persians' usage of saffron as a drugging agent andaphrodisiac. During his Asian campaigns, Alexander the Great used Persian saffron in his infusions, rice, and baths as a curative for battle wounds. Alexander's troops mimicked the practice and brought saffron-bathing back to Greece.
4.14  calamus...
   The aromatic underground stem or rhizome of the perennial herb known from Biblical times, Acorus calamus L. is also referred to as ‘calamus’, or as the ‘sweet flag’. Children suffering from colic or adults who suffer from various kinds of indigestion have been known to take calamus for quick relief of their symptoms. The calamus, which closely resembles the iris in appearance, belongs to the family Araceae, and it grows abundantly under moist conditions, such as near a pond or a stream or swamp. This perennial herb is found in Europe, North America, and also in Asia.
   Acorus calamus is a semi-aquatic plant that likes to grow with “wet feet”, often alongside Irises, Cattails, and other waterweeds.  It likes the edges of ponds, lakes, and rivers, but I've seen it growing in drier soil as well.  The leaves are similar to Cattail or Iris leaves, being sword shaped, and from 2 1/2 to 3 feet in length.  Calamus leaves, though, are a yellow-green in color, not blue-green, and have a slightly wavy margin (edge) and a midrib.  Easily, the most effective way to identify the plant is to break off and smell the leaves.  Ahhhh… nothing else smells like Sweet Flag.  The root is a rhizome, which is a horizontal tuber that runs across the ground.  It is marked by leaf scars above, and produces abundant rootlets, which for the most part go straight down, below.  There are no stems; the leaves rise directly from the rhizome.   The plant can easily be cultivated from a root cutting, and will grow quickly once established.  I have a few different varieties growing in a non-draining planter that I keep wet, and it thrives, producing flowers every year.  I used wild soil in the planter, and the seeds and roots that came along with have all happily sprouted, offering a little wetland ecosystem that, when I was living on the third floor of an apartment building, the birds and insects delighted in. 
   The root is used medicinally, but the leaves can be steeped into an elegant if unusual tea or used for a unique and exquisite smudge.  They are incredibly nice to simply bruise and smell, and they’ve been long used strewn across floors to release their enlightening scent as they’re walked upon.  If collecting the plant, keep in mind that as an aquatic, it’s going to have taken up whatever’s in the water it’s growing in, which you may not want to chew on.  Ironically, the invading Mongols used to plant Calamus in any source of water they intended to drink from, believing it would purify the water in which it grew.  This act gave rise to one of its common folk names, “Mongolian Poison”… people were generally freaked out if they found it growing somewhere they hadn’t seen it before.  Coming upon it in the wild, I always quickly scan the area for any such invading Mongols, but so far haven’t seen any, so maybe this is an old wive’s tale… ---Jim Mcdonald @
4.14  cinnamon...
cinnamomum zeylanicum
Sanskrit: cacy-nam
Hebrew: qinnâmôn
Septuagint: kinnamômon
Vulgate: cinnamomum
Proverbs 7, 17
Song 4, 10-14
Revelation 18, 13-14
Exodus 30, 23-24
   This particular cinnamon, known as sweet cinnamon, also known as Ceylong cinnamon, was occasionally mistake for aromatic cassia (Cinnamomum cassia), owing to its similar aroma. In the preparation of kyphi, the sacred perfume of the Egyptians, these two types of cinnamon are combined as they are in holy unction of the Hebrews, in the instructions given by the Lord to Moses (Exodus 30, 23-24).
   Growing in tropical regions of the Far East, the cinnamon tree can stand ten meters tall. Its bark, harvest every two years, contains the aromatic substances. It was imported from India and Ceylon, where it originates, first by the Persians and Mesopotamians, and then by sea to Egypt, via Ethiopia or southern Arabia. History records many fanciful stories told about the origins of cinnamon.
   Considered in ancient times to be one of the most exquisite of fragrances, sweet cinnamon was a perfume of seduction. Mixed with myrrh and aloe, women in love would sprinkle their bed with it.
   Cinnamon has a slightly pungent, spicy aroma redolent of burning and a somewhat bitter flavor.
4.14  frankincense...

Boswellia carterii Birdw
Hebrew: lebonâh and ketôreth
Septuagint: libanos and thumiama
Vulgate: thus and incensum
Middle Ages: olibanum

   Note that in Hebrew, the word for frankincense, lebonâh, literally means milk-white, while the Egyptian term s-ntr may be translated as that which makes god known.
   A tree found growing in tropical regions, a member of the Burseraceae family, its height ranges from three to six meters. Its gum resin, frankincense, the amle incense of the ancient world, is a milky liquid which, following incision, exudes from the bark. It hardens into yellowish droplets, known as frankincense tears. Ti was long imported from Southern Arabia, from the kingdom of Sheba and from Hadramawt, on the backs of camels following desert trails.
   Many scenes on the walls of Egyptian temples depict the collection, transport and use of Boswellia and its resin. Present in numerous pharmacopoeia, frankincense has long been prescribed, especially for its haemostatic properties.
   The purest grade of frankincense is used without processing as incense for burning. Note that the term incense once referred exclusively to frankincense. It has only quite recently come to refer to any pleasant smelling fumigation.
   The Egyptian associated it with unrivalled symbolic properties : a substance which revealed god, it sanctified rituals and offerings.
   More generally, it symbolized the divine, the father and the diurnal, in contrast with myrrh, with which it was often associated. These two substances, along with royal gold, were the gifts of the three Magi to baby Jesus (Matthew 2,11).
   In ritual ceremonies, the smoke of frankincense is both an instrument of meditation with the divinity and a protective screen which maintains a safe distance from God, whom no mortal man shall see and live (Leviticus 16, 12-13 and Exodus 33,20).
   Frankincense gives off a warm, slightly citrine perfume, balsamic par excellence, still used in modern perfumery for its oriental notes.
4.14  myrrh...

   In the Semitic languages, the word mör or mur, from which myrrh is derived, means that which is bitter.
   Bitter myrrh is to be distinguished from sweet myrrh, which was in reality the plant opoponax (Hercules’ allheal).
   Myrrh is a gum-oil resin extracted from various varieties of the genus Commiphora, trees with grayish bark, growing mainly along the coasts of the Red Sea. Exuded through natural splits or artificial incisions, the liquid, initially milky and yellow-white, hardens into irregular reddish-brown drops when it is exposed to air. Myrrh, like frankincense, has always been consumed in large quantities, both in the preparation of domestic and religious incense and in perfumed oils and unguents. Symbolically, myrrh has often represented femininity, associated with the mystery of night, in contrast with frankincense, representing solar, the diurnal and the active.
   The Egyptians imported it from the mythical land of Punt, probably in fact Somalia and Sudan. Queen Hatshepsut (1504-1483 BC) brought thirty or so frankincense and myrrh tress by boat in great baskets and tried, without great success, to make them grow in Egypt. Inscriptions in Saqqarah, the first references to this desire to master the growing of divine aromatic substances, date from the 10th dynasty, a thousand years before Hatshepsut, and refer to a similar expedition.
   With a marvelous perfume reputed to be among the best in the world, myrrh is the substance which is referred to the most often in the texts. The Song of Songs constantly praises the sweetness of its perfume (1,13; 3,6; 4, 6-14; 5,1; 5,5; 5,13). Twelve centuries after the Exodus, myrrh was a gift given by one of the three Magi to baby Jesus.
   In medical terms, myrrh has antiseptic and sedative properties.
   The aroma of myrrh is warm, fragrant, aromatic and slightly pungent; it is bitter to the taste.
4.14  aloes...

   Translated from the Hebrew word, 'ahalim)
   This was a fragrant wood (Num. 24:6; Ps. 45:8; Prov. 7:17 ), the Aquilaria agallochum of botanists, or, as some suppose, the costly gum or perfume extracted from the wood.
   It is found in China, Siam, and Northern India, and grows to the height sometimes of 120 feet. This species is of great rarity even in India. There is another and more common species, called by Indians aghil. Europeans have given it the name of Lignum aquile, or eagle-wood. Aloewood was used by the Egyptians for embalming dead bodies. Nicodemus brought it (pounded aloe-wood) to embalm the body of Christ (John 19:39); but whether this was the same as that mentioned elsewhere is uncertain.
   The “bitter aloes” of the apothecary is the dried juice of the leaves Aloe vulgaris.
4.16b  I suspect that "his garden" has little to do with vegetables.

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