Douay-Rheims, Book 24: Canticle of Canticles

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Title: The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version, Book 24: Canticle of Canticles
       The Challoner Revision
Release Date: June 2005  [EBook #8324]
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Book 24        Canticle of Canticles


This Book is called the Canticle of Canticles, that is to say, the most
excellent of all canticles: because it is full of high mysteries,
relating to the happy union of Christ and his spouse: which is here
begun by love; and is to be eternal in heaven. The spouse of Christ is
the church: more especially as to the happiest part of it, viz., perfect
souls, every one of which is his beloved, but, above all others, the
immaculate and ever blessed virgin mother.

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 1

The spouse aspires to an union with Christ, their mutual love for one

1:1. Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for thy breasts are
better than wine,

Let him kiss me... The church, the spouse of Christ, prays that he may
love and have peace with her, which the spouse prefers to every thing
delicious: and therefore expresses (ver. 2) that young maidens, that is
the souls of the faithful, have loved thee.

1:2. Smelling sweet of the best ointments. Thy name is as oil poured
out: therefore young maidens have loved thee.

1:3. Draw me: we will run after thee to the odour of thy ointments. The
king hath brought me into his storerooms: we will be glad and rejoice in
thee, remembering thy breasts more than wine: the rightous love thee.

Draw me... That is, with thy grace: otherwise I should not be able to
come to thee. This metaphor shews that we cannot of ourselves come to
Christ our Lord, unless he draws us by his grace, which is laid up in
his storerooms: that is, in the mysteries of Faith, which God in his
goodness and love for mankind hath revealed, first by his servant Moses
in the Old Law in figure only, and afterwards in reality by his only
begotten Son Jesus Christ.

1:4. I am black but beautiful, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, as the tents
of Cedar, as the curtains of Solomon.

I am black but beautiful... That is, the church of Christ founded in
humility appearing outwardly afflicted, and as it were black and
contemptible; but inwardly, that is, in its doctrine and morality, fair
and beautiful.

1:5. Do not consider me that I am brown, because the sun hath altered my
colour: the sons of my mother have fought against me, they have made me
the keeper in the vineyards: my vineyard I have not kept.

1:6. Shew me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou
liest in the midday, lest I begin to wander after the flocks of thy

1:7. If thou know not thyself, O fairest among women, go forth, and
follow after the steps of the flocks, and feed thy kids beside the tents
of the shepherds.

If thou know not thyself, etc... Christ encourages his spouse to follow
and watch her flock: and though she know not entirely the power at hand
to assist her, he tells her, ver. 8, my company of horsemen, that is,
his angels, are always watching and protecting her. And in the following
verses he reminds her of the virtues and gifts with which he has endowed

1:8. To my company of horsemen, in Pharao's chariots, have I likened
thee, O my love.

1:9. Thy cheeks are beautiful as the turtledove's, thy neck as jewels.

1:10. We will make thee chains of gold, inlaid with silver.

1:11. While the king was at his repose, my spikenard sent forth the
odour thereof.

1:12. A bundle of myrrh is my beloved to me, he shall abide between my

1:13. A cluster of cypress my love is to me, in the vineyards of

1:14. Behold thou are fair, O my love, behold thou are fair, thy eyes
are as those of doves.

1:15. Behold thou art fair, my beloved, and comely. Our bed is

1:16. The beams of our houses are of cedar, our rafters of cypress

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 2

Christ caresses his spouse: he invites her to him.

2:1. I am the flower of the field, and the lily of the valleys.

I am the flower of the field... Christ professes himself the flower of
mankind, yea, the Lord of all creatures: and, ver. 2, declares the
excellence of his spouse, the true church above all other societies,
which are to be considered as thorns.

2:2. As the lily among thorns, so is my love among the daughters.

2:3. As the apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved
among the sons. I sat down under his shadow, whom I desired: and his
fruit was sweet to my palate.

2:4. He brought me into the cellar of wine, he set in order charity in

2:5. Stay me up with flowers, compass me about with apples: because I
languish with love.

2:6. His left hand is under my head, and his right hand shall embrace

2:7. I adjure you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and the
harts of the field, that you stir not up, nor make the beloved to awake,
till she please.

2:8. The voice of my beloved, behold he cometh leaping upon the
mountains, skipping over the hills.

The voice of my beloved: that is, the preaching of the gospel
surmounting difficulties figuratively here expressed by mountains and
little hills.

2:9. My beloved is like a roe, or a young hart. Behold he standeth
behind our wall, looking through the windows, looking through the

2:10. Behold my beloved speaketh to me: Arise, make haste, my love, my
dove, my beautiful one, and come.

2:11. For winter is now past, the rain is over and gone.

2:12. The flowers have appeared in our land, the time of pruning is
come: the voice of the turtle is heard in our land:

2:13. The fig tree hath put forth her green figs: the vines in flower
yield their sweet smell. Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come:

2:14. My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the hollow places of the
wall, shew me thy face, let thy voice sound in my ears: for thy voice is
sweet, and thy face comely.

2:15. Catch us the little foxes that destroy the vines: for our vineyard
hath flourished.

Catch us the little foxes... Christ commands his pastors to catch false
teachers, by holding forth their fallacy and erroneous doctrine, which
like foxes would bite and destroy the vines.

2:16. My beloved to me, and I to him who feedeth among the lilies,

2:17. Till the day break, and the shadows retire. Return: be like, my
beloved, to a roe, or to a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 3

The spouse seeks Christ. The glory of his humanity.

3:1. In my bed by night I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him,
and found him not.

In my bed by night, etc... The Gentiles as in the dark, and seeking in
heathen delusion what they could not find, the true God, until Christ
revealed his doctrine to them by his watchmen, (ver. 3,) that is, by the
apostles, and teachers by whom they were converted to the true faith;
and holding that faith firmly, the spouse (the Catholic Church)
declares, ver. 4, That she will not let him go, till she bring him into
her mother's house, etc., that is, till at last, the Jews also shall
find him.

3:2. I will rise, and will go about the city: in the streets and the
broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, and I
found him not.

3:3. The watchmen who keep the city, found me: Have you seen him, whom
my soul loveth?

3:4. When I had a little passed by them, I found him whom my soul
loveth: I held him: and I will not let him go, till I bring him into my
mother's house, and into the chamber of her that bore me.

3:5. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes and the harts
of the fields, that you stir not up, nor awake my beloved, till she

3:6. Who is she that goeth up by the desert, as a pillar of smoke of
aromatical spices, of myrrh, and frankincense, and of all the powders of
the perfumer?

3:7. Behold threescore valiant ones of the most valiant of Israel,
surrounded the bed of Solomon?

3:8. All holding swords, and most expert in war: every man's sword upon
his thigh, because of fears in the night.

3:9. King Solomon hath made him a litter of the wood of Libanus:

3:10. The pillars thereof he made of silver, the seat of gold, the going
up of purple: the midst he covered with charity for the daughters of

3:11. Go forth, ye daughters of Sion, and see king Solomon in the
diadem, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of the joy of his

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 4

Christ sets forth the graces of his spouse: and declares his love for

4:1. 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.

How beautiful art thou... Christ again praises the beauties of his
church, which through the whole of this chapter are exemplified by a
variety of metaphors, setting forth her purity, her simplicity, and her

4:2. Thy teeth as flocks of sheep, that are shorn, which come up from
the washing, all with twins, and there is none barren among them.

4:3. Thy lips are as a scarlet lace: and thy speech sweet. Thy cheeks
are as a piece of a pomegranate, besides that which lieth hid within.

4:4. Thy neck, is as the tower of David, which is built with bulwarks: a
thousand bucklers hang upon it, all the armour of valiant men.

4:5. Thy two breasts like two young roes that are twins, which feed
among the lilies.

Thy two breasts, etc... Mystically to be understood: the love of God and
the love of our neighbour, which are so united as twins which feed among
the lilies: that is, the love of God and our neighbour, feeds on the
divine mysteries and the holy sacraments, left by Christ to his spouse
to feed and nourish her children.

4:6. Till the day break, and the shadows retire, I will go to the
mountain of myrrh, and to the hill of frankincense.

4:7. Thou art all fair, O my love, and there is not a spot in thee.

4:8. Come from Libanus, my spouse, come from Libanus, come: thou shalt
be crowned from the top of Amana, from the top of Sanir and Hermon, from
the dens of the lions, from the mountains of the leopards.

4:9. Thou hast wounded my heart, my sister, my spouse, thou hast wounded
my heart with one of thy eyes, and with one hair of thy neck.

4:10. How beautiful are thy breasts, my sister, my spouse! thy breasts
are more beautiful than wine, and the sweet smell of thy ointments above
all aromatical spices.

4:11. Thy lips, my spouse, are as a dropping honeycomb, honey and milk
are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments, as the smell of

4:12. My sister, my spouse, is a garden enclosed, a garden enclosed, a
fountain sealed up.

My sister, etc., a garden enclosed... Figuratively the church is
enclosed, containing only the faithful. A fountain sealed up... That
none can drink of its waters, that is, the graces and spiritual benefits
of the holy sacraments, but those who are within its walls.

4:13. Thy plants are a paradise of pomegranates with the fruits of the
orchard. Cypress with spikenard.

4:14. Spikenard and saffron, sweet cane and cinnamon, with all the trees
of Libanus, myrrh and aloes with all the chief perfumes.

4:15. The fountain of gardens: the well of living waters, which run with
a strong stream from Libanus.

4:16. Arise, O north wind, and come, O south wind, blow through my
garden, and let the aromatical spices thereof flow.

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 5

Christ calls his spouse: she languishes with love: and describes him by
his graces.

5:1. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat the fruit of his apple
trees. I am come into my garden, O my sister, my spouse, I have gathered
my myrrh, with my aromatical spices: I have eaten the honeycomb with my
honey, I have drunk my wine with my milk: eat, O friends, and drink, and
be inebriated, my dearly beloved.

Let my beloved come into his garden, etc... Garden, mystically the
church of Christ, abounding with fruit, that is, the good works of the

5:2. I sleep, and my heart watcheth: the voice of my beloved knocking:
Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is
full of dew, and my locks of the drops of the nights.

5:3. I have put off my garment, how shall I put it on? I have washed my
feet, how shall I defile them?

5:4. My beloved put his hand through the key hole, and my bowels were
moved at his touch.

My beloved put his hand through the key hole, etc... The spouse of
Christ, his church, at times as it were penned up by its persecutors,
and in fears, expecting the divine assistance, here signified by his
hand: and ver. 6, but he had turned aside and was gone, that is, Christ
permitting a further trial of suffering: and again, ver. 7, the keepers,
etc., signifying the violent and cruel persecutors of the church taking
her veil, despoiling the church of its places of worship and ornaments
for the divine service.

5:5. I arose up to open to my beloved: my hands dropped with myrrh, and
my fingers were full of the choicest myrrh.

5:6. I opened the bolt of my door to my beloved: but he had turned
aside, and was gone. My soul melted when he spoke: I sought him, and
found him not: I called, and he did not answer me.

5:7. The keepers that go about the city found me: they struck me: and
wounded me: the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me.

5:8. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved,
that you tell him that I languish with love.

5:9. What manner of one is thy beloved of the beloved, O thou most
beautiful among women? what manner of one is thy beloved of the beloved,
that thou hast so adjured us?

5:10. My beloved is white and ruddy, chosen out of thousands.

My beloved, etc... In this and the following verses, the church
mystically describes Christ to those who know him not, that is, to
infidels in order to convert them to the true faith.

5:11. His head is as the finest gold: his locks as branches of palm
trees, black as a raven.

5:12. His eyes as doves upon brooks of waters, which are washed with
milk, and sit beside the plentiful streams.

5:13. His cheeks are as beds of aromatical spices set by the perfumers.
His lips are as lilies dropping choice myrrh.

5:14. His hands are turned and as of gold, full of hyacinths. His belly
as of ivory, set with sapphires.

5:15. His legs as pillars of marble, that are set upon bases of gold.
His form as of Libanus, excellent as the cedars.

5:16. His throat most sweet, and he is all lovely: such is my beloved,
and he is my friend, O ye daughters of Jerusalem.

5:17. Whither is thy beloved gone, O thou most beautiful among women?
whither is thy beloved turned aside, and we will seek him with thee?

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 6

The spouse of Christ is but one: she is fair and terrible.

6:1. My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the bed of aromatical
spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies.

My beloved is gone down into his garden... Christ, pleased with the good
works of his holy and devout servants labouring in his garden, is always
present with them: but the words is gone down, are to be understood,
that after trying his Church by permitting persecution, he comes to her
assistance and she rejoices at his coming.

6:2. I to my beloved, and my beloved to me, who feedeth among the

6:3. Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem
terrible as an army set in array.

6:4. Turn away thy eyes from me, for they have made me flee away. Thy
hair is as a flock of goats, that appear from Galaad.

6:5. Thy teeth as a flock of sheep, which come up from the washing, all
with twins, and there is none barren among them.

6:6. Thy cheeks are as the bark of a pomegranate, beside what is hidden
within thee.

6:7. There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and young
maidens without number.

6:8. One is my dove, my perfect one is but one, she is the only one of
her mother, the chosen of her that bore her. The daughters saw her, and
declared her most blessed: the queens and concubines, and they praised

One is my dove, etc... That is, my church is one, and she only is
perfect and blessed.

6:9. Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the
moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?

Who is she, etc... Here is a beautiful metaphor describing the church
from the beginning. As, the morning rising, signifying the church before
the written law; fair as the moon, shewing her under the light of the
gospel: and terrible as an army, the power of Christ's church against
its enemies.

6:10. I went down into the garden of nuts, to see the fruits of the
valleys, and to look if the vineyard had flourished, and the
pomegranates budded.

6:11. I knew not: my soul troubled me for the chariots of Aminadab.

6:12. Return, return, O Sulamitess: return, return that we may behold

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 7

A further description of the graces of the church the spouse of Christ.

7:1. What shalt thou see in the Sulamitess but the companies of camps?
How beautiful are thy steps in shoes, O prince's daughter! The joints of
thy thighs are like jewels, that are made by the hand of a skilful

How beautiful are thy steps, etc... By these metaphors are signified the
power and mission of the church in propagating the true faith.

7:2. Thy navel is like a round bowl never wanting cups. Thy belly is
like a heap of wheat, set about with lilies.

7:3. Thy two breasts are like two young roes that are twins.

7:4. Thy neck as a tower of ivory. Thy eyes like the fishpools in
Hesebon, which are in the gate of the daughter of the multitude. Thy
nose is as the tower of Libanus, that looketh toward Damascus.

7:5. Thy head is like Carmel: and the hairs of thy head as the purple of
the king bound in the channels.

Thy head is like Carmel... Christ, the invisible head of his church, is
here signified.

7:6. How beautiful art thou, and how comely, my dearest, in delights!

7:7. Thy stature is like to a palm tree, and thy breasts to clusters of

7:8. I said: I will go up into the palm tree, and will take hold of the
fruit thereof: and thy breasts shall be as the clusters of the vine: and
the odour of thy mouth like apples.

7:9. Thy throat like the best wine, worthy for my beloved to drink, and
for his lips and his teeth to ruminate.

7:10. I to my beloved, and his turning is towards me.

7:11. Come, my beloved, let us go forth into the field, let us abide in
the villages.

7:12. Let us get up early to the vineyards, let us see if the vineyard
flourish, if the flowers be ready to bring forth fruits, if the
pomegranates flourish: there will I give thee my breasts.

7:13. The mandrakes give a smell. In our gates are all fruits: the new
and the old, my beloved, I have kept for thee.

Canticle of Canticles Chapter 8

The love of the church to Christ: his love to her.

8:1. Who shall give thee to me for my brother, sucking the breasts of my
mother, that I may find thee without, and kiss thee, and now no man may
despise me?

8:2. I will take hold of thee, and bring thee into my mother's house:
there thou shalt teach me, and I will give thee a cup of spiced wine and
new wine of my pomegranates.

8:3. His left hand under my head, and his right hand shall embrace me.

His left hand, etc... Words of the church to Christ. His left hand,
signifying the Old Testament, and his right hand, the New.

8:4. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, that you stir not up, nor
awake my love till she please.

8:5. Who is this that cometh up from the desert, flowing with delights,
leaning upon her beloved? Under the apple tree I raised thee up: there
thy mother was corrupted, there she was defloured that bore thee.

Who is this, etc... The angels with admiration behold the Gentiles
converted to the faith: coming up from the desert, that is, coming from
heathenism and false worship: flowing with delights, that is, abounding
with good works which are pleasing to God: leaning on her beloved, on
the promise of Christ to his Church, that the gates of hell should not
prevail against it; and supported by his grace conferred by the
sacraments. Under the apple tree I raised thee up; that is, that Christ
redeemed the Gentiles at the foot of the cross, where the synagogue of
the Jews (the mother church) was corrupted by their denying him, and
crucifying him.

8:6. Put me as a seal upon thy heart, as a seal upon thy arm, for love
is strong as death, jealousy as hard as hell, the lamps thereof are fire
and flames.

8:7. Many waters cannot quench charity, neither can the floods drown it:
if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, he shall
despise it as nothing.

8:8. 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?

Our sister is little, etc... Mystically signifies the Jews, who are to
be spoken to: that is, converted towards the end of the world: and then
shall become a wall, that is, a part of the building, the church of

8:9. If she be a wall: let us build upon it bulwarks of silver: if she
be a door, let us join it together with boards of cedar.

8:10. I am a wall: and my breasts are as a tower since I am become in
his presence as one finding peace.

8:11. The peaceable had a vineyard, in that which hath people: he let
out the same to keepers, every man bringeth for the fruit thereof a
thousand pieces of silver.

8:12. My vineyard is before me. A thousand are for thee, the peaceable,
and two hundred for them that keep the fruit thereof.

8:13. Thou that dwellest in the gardens, the friends hearken: make me
hear thy voice.

8:14. Flee away, O my beloved, and be like to the roe, and to the young
hart upon the mountains of aromatical spices.

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