Thy neck [is] as a tower of ivory
Two things recommend the neck, erectness and whiteness; both are here expressed, the one by a "tower", the other by "ivory"; hence a fine beautiful neck is called an ivory one F20; and for the same reason it sometimes has the epithet of "snowy" F21, and sometimes of "marble" F23. Of the church's neck, as it may design either the ministers of the word, or the Scriptures of truth, (See Gill on Song of Solomon 4:4); where it is compared to "the tower of David", and here to "a tower of ivory": Marckius conjectures that they may be the same, or that this is the name of, vine ancient structure known at this time; however, it is used as expressive of the purity of the lives of Gospel ministers, and the evenness of their doctrines, and of the purity, beauty, glory, axial harmony of the Scriptures; thine eyes [like] the fish pools in Heshbon, by the gate of
Heshbon was formerly the seat of Sihon, king of the Amorites, ( Numbers 22:26 ) ; of which Bathrabbim was one of its gates; so called, either because it led to Rabbath, a city near it, and mentioned with it, ( Jeremiah 49:3 ) ; or because of the great numbers that went in and out by it; for it may be rendered, "the daughter of many", or "of great ones" F24: near this gate, it seems, were very delightful fish pools, to which the eyes of the church are compared. In the Hebrew language, the word for eyes and fountains is the same; the eyes having humours in them, and so fitly compared to fish pools. Of the eyes of the church, as they may design either the ministers of the word, or the eyes of her understanding, particularly faith, (See Gill on Song of Solomon 1:15); here they are said to be like "fish pools", whose waters are clear, quiet, constant and immovable; and, seen at a distance, between trees and groves, look very beautiful: and, if applied to ministers, may denote the clearness of their sight in discerning the truths of the Gospel; and their being filled with the fulness of the blessing of the Gospel of Christ; and their being blessings to the churches of Christ, and to the souls of men the word for "fish pools" comes from a word which signifies "to bless" F25; and such being observed as were near the gate of Bathrabbim, may have respect to the multitude that attend their ministry, and receive benefit by it; in which they are constant and invariable, and all of a piece, and appear very beautiful to those to whom they are useful. And if applied to the church's eyes of understanding, those of faith and knowledge, may denote the perspicuity of them, in the discernment of spiritual things; and the fixedness and immovableness of them on the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; looking alone to him, and off of every other object, and so very attractive to him, and beautiful in his sight, as well as their abounding with the waters of evangelic repentance and humiliation; see ( Song of Solomon 4:9 ) ( 6:5 ) ; thy nose [is] as the tower of Lebanon, which looketh towards Damascus;
a tower on that part of Mount Lebanon which faced Damascus, which lay in a plain, and so open to view, as well as exposed to winds; hence called, by Lucan F26, Ventosa Damascus; which tower was so high, as Adrichomius F1 says, that from thence might be numbered the houses in Damascus: by which also may be meant the ministers of the word; nor need it seem strange that the same should be expressed by different metaphors, since the work of ministers is of different parts; who, as they are as eyes to see, so like the nose to smell; and having a spiritual discerning of Gospel truths, both savour them themselves, and diffuse the savour of them to others; and are both the ornament and defence of the church: the former is signified by the "nose", which is an ornament of the face, and the latter by the "tower of Lebanon", and this is looking towards Damascus, the inhabitants of which were always enemies to the people of Israel; and so may denote the vigilance and courage of faithful ministers, who watch the church's enemies, and their motions, and, with a manful courage, face and attack them. Moreover, this description may respect the majesty and magnanimity of the church herself; the former may be intimated by her nose, which, when of a good size, and well proportioned, adds much grace and majesty to the countenance; and the latter by its being compared to the impregnable tower of Lebanon, looking towards Damascus, signifying that she was not afraid to look her worst enemies in the face: or the whole may express her prudence and discretion in spiritual things: by which she can distinguish truth from error, and espy dangers afar off, and guard against them.
F20 "Eburnea cervix", Ovid. Epist. 20. v. 57. "Eburnea colla", ib. Metamorph. l. 3. Feb. 6. v. 422. & l. 4. Fab. 5. v. 335.
F21 Ovid. Amor. l. 2. Eleg. 4. v. 41.
F23 Ib. Fasti, l. 4. v. 135. Virgil. Georgic. 4. in fine.
F24 (Mybr tb) (yugatrov pollwn) Sept. "filiae muititudinis", V. L. "magnatum", Montanus; "nobilium", Pagninus.
F25 (twkrb) a rad. (Krb) "benedixit".
F26 Pharsal. l. 3. v. 215.
F1 Theatrum Terrae Sanctae, p. 100.