Daily Thought for: 14th March

CLUSTER OF CAMPHIRE

Song of Songs 1. 14, 16-17

Three words provide a basis for our meditation on this title: ‘camphire’, its identification; ‘cluster’, its implication; ‘Engedi’, its location.

The identification of ‘camphire’ is the henna flower, a small, fragrant, white and yellow flower. It speaks of the beauty and value of our Beloved’s humble life. The Hebrew word for cam- phire, S. of S. 1.14; 4.13, is kopher, translated ‘ransom’ in eight of its seventeen occurrences. Every Old Testament occurrence of atonement in the King James Version is either its root word or a related word. The connection may be that the leaves of the plant produced a dye that women used to paint, or cover, their fingernails. Hence, the word is linked with a covering for sins or a price to cover, or to give satisfaction for a person’s life. This connection, and the mercy seat resting on the ark, illustrate that the value of Christ’s work is inseparable from the worth of His person.

The implication of ‘cluster’ is fullness. It took two spies to carry one cluster of the grapes of Eschol (same word). The Jews call a man full of virtue and knowledge ‘clusters’: ‘a man that has all things in him’, John Gill. Ancient doctors claimed they found the mystery of the Messiah in this ‘cluster of camphire’: ‘my beloved is unto me the man who propitiates all things’. The Talmud taught that the meaning was, ‘he, whose all things are, has atoned for my iniquity’.

Engedi’s location is in a desert by the Dead Sea. An oasis, it had palms and vineyards. It is thought that in Solomon’s time, henna flowers grew only at Engedi. The spouse’s full bouquet represented a living fragrance surrounded by barrenness. Our Beloved’s humble beauty stands out from earth’s desert, ‘a tender plant ...a root out of a dry ground’, ‘fairer than the children of men’, ‘the chiefest among ten thousand’, ‘anointed . . . above thy fellows’. He is now ‘far above all’, ‘head over all things’, His name ‘above every name’. He will be manifested as ‘King of kings and Lord of lords’ for He is ‘God over all, blessed forever.’ Yet, dearest to our hearts, ‘His visage was so marred more than any man’.

 

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