8th September 1859
After long delays in the attempt to find a publisher who would help in the expenses, I have resolved, at a considerable pecuniary sacrifice, to print for myself, believing it a Missionary service.
Frances' letter to Rev. Francis Redford outlines her reason for writing The Book of Canticles, or, Song of Solomon, according to the English Version, Revised and Explained from the Original Hebrew. Her reason for writing was that the Song of Solomon in the Bible had been unnecessarily neglected. Her great love for the scripture and desire that it not be ignored impelled her to take on the expense herself.
One verse in particular she brought to Rev. Redford's attention:
Only one verse of my translation meets with hesitation from the great Hebraists to whom I have submitted the work, the eighth verse of the sixth chapter; I enclose you a paper concerning it, and should be very glad of your opinion. I have no "authority" for my translation but the Hebrew text lying before me.
The general understanding of the message of the poetical Song of Solomon was that it portrayed the love between Messiah and his bride (his people). The AV rendering of 6:8 seemed, therefore, inappropriate: "There are threescore queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number."
Frances noticed that a simple change of one vowel point in two Hebrew words (the vowel points were added long after the Bible was written) would change the reading to "There are fine linens for the queen, and unguents for the companions, and virgins without number."
In support of this, she noted that "threescore" was given as "fine linen" in Exodus 28:6; and that "fourscore" was translated "unguents" in the Song 1:2 and Psalm 45:14.
I find Frances "discovery" to be helpful to myself, and it is a disappointment to me that our modern translations persist in threescore queens and fourscore concubines. (Can there even be 60 queens? Isn't only one royal wife considered the queen?)