After indicating that the person mentioned in this passage belonged to the progeny of Isaac’s brother, who was none other than Ishmā’el, Solomon describes the conspicuous features and qualities of his beloved. First of all he describes his complexion and says that he is:

 אדוםו עח[1]    (tsakh w adom) 

white and ruddy

The Hebrew word for the English word ‘white’ is ‘עח’ (tsach). According to Strong’s Dic., the meanings of this Hebrew word used for the English word ‘white’ (or ‘radiant’, as some other English translations have used for it) are:

Dazzling, i.e. sunny; bright, clear, white.[2]

The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the OT explains the word as follows:

MHeb. bright, clarity; Syr. sahhiha warm, gleaming; OSArb. vb. shh to renew, adj. Healthy, intact.[3]

The Pulpit Commentary explains it as:

The word tsach, from the root tsachach (cf. Lam. Iv, 7), means a bright, shining clearness; it is not the same as Lavan, which would mean ‘dead white.’[4]

It can thus be appreciated that the actual Hebrew word for ‘white’ does not signify some spiritless, morbid, or deadly whitish colour. It rather stands here for brightness, brilliance, wholesomeness, handsomeness, and attractiveness of the countenance and sound health.

The next word is ‘ruddy’, for which the Heb. word is ‘אדום’ (adom/awdome). It complements the theme of the preceding word ‘white’. Strong’s Dic. explains it as ‘Rosy, red’.[5] The root of the word is ’a#dam which means:

to show blood (in the face), i.e. flush or turn rosy:- be red.[6]

It signifies a red and rosy colour, shining with a flush. Combined together, the words ‘white and ruddy’, depict a comely figure of healthiness, strength, brightness, and beauty, as the Pulpit Commentary has rightly explained:

The mingling of colours in the countenance is a peculiar excellence. (...), no doubt as betokening[7] health and vigour.[8]

Matthew Henry explained the phrase in his commentary as:

His complexion is a very happy composition.[9]

The combination of both these words (white & ruddy) represents a complete picture of health, vigour, and beauty. It reflects the exact features of the Prophet of Islām (pbAh). One of the Prophet’s companions, Jābir binSamurah, states:

رأيتُ رسولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلمفي ليلةِ أضحِيان [10]وعليه حُلَّةٌ حَمرَاءُ فَجَعَلتُ أنظُرُ إليهِ وإلي القَمَرِ فَلَهُوَ عندي أحسنُ مِن القَمَرِ [11]

Once it was a moonlit night in which there were no clouds [i.e. the moon was in its full bloom and the sky was clear]. The Apostle of Allah (pbAh) was dressed in reddish clothes. At times I looked at his countenance and at times at the moon. For certain, the Apostle’s face seemed to me comelier than the moon.

 Rubayyi‘ bint Mu‘awiz describes:

يَا بُنَيَّ لَوْ رَأَيْتَهُ رَأَيْتَ الشَّمْسَ طَالِعَةً[12]

 My son, if you looked at him [the Prophet of Islām (pbAh), it would seem as if] you had seen the rising sun.

Obviously the sun at the time of rising is white and ruddy.

Umm Ma‘bad has given a detailed account of the Prophet’s person and personality. With regard to the present theme her description is as below:

ظاهر الوضاءة[13]ابلج[14]الوجه ···))اجمل الناس و ابها[15]هم من بعيد و احسنه و احلاه من قريب [16]

Conspicuous in purity and cleanliness, of fair and bright complexion (...) the most beautiful of the people and very splendid and bright [if seen] from afar; and comely and sweet [when seen] from proximity.

Anas bin Mālik reports:

أَزْهَرَ اللَّوْنِ لَيْسَ بِأَبْيَضَ أَمْهَقَ[17] وَلَا آدَمَ [18]

He was of brilliant and rosy colour. Neither dull and deadly white [void of all brilliance and brightness: as explained by the Pulpt Commentary (p.122) in the words of ‘it is not the same as Lavan, which would mean dead white’ on the first page of this chapter] nor earth-coloured (darkish brown).[19]

Barā bin ‘Āzib says:

حَدَّثَنَا (٠٠٠) إِبْرَاهِيمُ بْنُ يُوسُفَ (٠٠٠) قَالَ سَمِعْتُ الْبَرَاءَ يَقُولُ كَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلمأَحْسَنَ النَّاسِ وَجْهًا (٠٠٠[20]

The face of the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) was comeliest among the people.

Ka‘b bin Mālik reports:

وَكَانَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلمإِذَا سُرَّ اسْتَنَارَ وَجْهُهُ حَتَّى كَأَنَّهُ قِطْعَةُ قَمَرٍ[21]

When the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) was happy, his countenance brightened as if it be a piece of the moon.

Abū Hurayrah states:

مَا رَأَيْتُ شَيْئًا أَحْسَنَ مِنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِصلى الله عليه وسلمكَأَنَّ الشَّمْسَ تَجْرِي فِي وَجْهِهِ [22]

I never saw anything more beautiful than the Apostle of Allah (pbAh). It seemed as if the sun was running in his face.

At the time of some extraordinary feelings his face turned beautifully and brilliantly red like a red pomegranate of Qandahār. Abū Hurayrah depicts it as follows:

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ خَرَجَ عَلَيْنَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلموَنَحْنُ نَتَنَازَعُ فِي الْقَدَرِ فَغَضِبَ حَتَّى احْمَرَّ وَجْهُهُ حَتَّى كَأَنَّمَا فُقِئَ فِي وَجْنَتَيْهِ الرُّمَّانُ[23]

Appeared before us the Apostle of Allah (pbAh) while we were involved in a dispute about fate. He was so displeased at it that his face turned red as if a pomegranate had been dashed against his cheeks. 

As a whole there was a beautiful and healthy combination of white and red in the Priophet’s cmplexion. Shama’il Tirmidhi reports:

كان عليٌّ إذا وَصَفَ رسولَ الله صلى الله عليه وسلمقال (...) في وجهه تدوير. أبيضُ مُشْرَب (...) قال أبو موسى سمعيت أبا جعفر محمد بن الحسين يقول سميت الأصمعي في تفسير صفة نبي صلى الله عليه وسلم(...) والمُشْرَبُ الذي في بياضه خمرة.[24]

When Ali portrayed the Apostle of Allah (pbAh), he said: (…). ‘There was roundness in his face. It was white “tinged over [or intermixed] with redness” (…).’ Abu# Mu#sa# said: I heard Aba Ja‘far Muhammad bin al-Husayn saying that he heard al-Asma‘i [saying] in his description of the traits of the Prophet (pbAh) (…) and ‘al-mushrab’ (المُشْرَبُ) is that in whose whiteness there is redness.

The word مُشْرَب(Mushrab) in this tradition is a very important and decisive word. It conveys exact and complete sense of ‘white and ruddy’. Lane’s Lexicon has recorded its meanings as:

A man whose complexion is tinged over [or intermixed] with redness (T. A., i.e. Taj-el-‘Aroos).[25]

The above traditions regarding the complexion of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh), and especially this last one, decide it once for ever that the words ‘white and ruddy’ apply perfectly to his complexion without any shadow of doubt.

All the features and attributes of the Prophet of Islam (pbAh)have reliably been recorded in authenticated written form. There are many other traditions of the same theme but the above material is sufficient to establish that the first sentence of the prophecy obviously and unequivocally relates to none other than the Prophet of Islam (pbAh) and it has literally been fulfilled in the person of this sole Prophet of the lineage of Ishma‘el. On the other hand the events of the life story of Jesus Christ were very scantily recorded.[26] However, whatsoever is available in this regard, makes it quite clear that he had nothing to do with the attributes mentioned in this opening sentence of the prophecy.

Matthew Henry explains:

My beloved is white and ruddy, the colours that make up a complete beauty. This points not to any extraordinary beauty of his body, when he should be incarnate (it was never said of the child Jesus, as of the child Moses, when he was born, that he was exceedingly fair [Acts vii.20[27]]; nay, he had no form nor comeliness, Isa. liii.2[28]); but his divine glory, (…). In him we may behold the beauty of the Lord; he was the holy child Jesus; that was his fairness. (...). He is white in his spotless innocency of his life, ruddy in the bloody sufferings he went through at his death,—white in his glory, as God (when he was transfigured his raiment was white as the light), ruddy in his assuming the nature of man, Adamred earth, —white in his tenderness towards his people, ruddy in his terrible appearances against his and their enemies.[29] His complexion is a very happy composition.[30]

Matthew Henry has a masterly adroitness of beautifully and effectively explaining the words of the Bible and affording them the shades of meanings according to his own taste and requirements. He has got a deep insight into the Bible and its language. But he has closed upon him the doors of impartial, analytical, and critical study of the theme due to his credulous preconceptions; otherwise he could have easily discovered the contradictions in his above passage. The above passage requires a thorough study once again. Probably the commentator fully understands that the application of this prediction to Jesus Christ is not justifiable. It is only due to this double mindedness that he has indulged himself in such a farfetched, ridiculous, self-contradictory verbosity and mental exercise.

Rev R. A. Redford has explained it as follows:

He was white in his spotless purity; his sacred body was reddened with the precious blood.[31]

The dexterity of interpretation exercised by the worthy commentator in freely applying the words of ‘white and ruddy’ of this prophecy to the person of Jesus is worth seeing:

His life exhibited a picture of holiness such as the world has never seen, such as none of its greatest sages has ever imagined. It stands alone in its pure beauty, unique, unapproachable. We know that no human intellect could have imagined such a life; no merely human pen could have described it [what a masterpiece of subjective credulousness!].[32]

The Christian scholars know it of certain and categorically admit that the words of Solomon’s this prophecy cannot be literally applied to the physical characteristics of Jesus (pbAh). But on the other hand they do not like to lose this beautiful prophecy lest someone else may use it in favour of its true object, Muh,ammad (pbAh). They try to create confusion by means of far-fetched interpretations for this simple statement of physical features of the particular person. Had some non-Christian scholar attempted to prove some proposition through such far-fetched interpretations, they would have bluntly thrown it away as rubbish.

The exposition of these words is afforded hereunder from a comparatively new commentary:

The term radiant means dazzling, glowing, or clear. It is used as descriptive of heat (Isa 18:4) and of wind (Jer 4:11). Certainly this does not apply to a physical characteristic. It rather implies an exceedingly striking, literary, radiant personality. Some assistance may be gained from Lamentations 4:7[33], which uses similar imagery. In both instances the reference may be to character [is ‘character’ described in terms of attributes of ‘white and ruddy’? Does it have some colours? Are there no appropriate attributes for the description of character in the human language?].[34]

It becomes quite clear from the above study that the words of Solomon’s this prophecy can by no means be applied to Jesus Christ (pbAh); whereas they are absolutely relevant to Prophet Muhammad (pbAh).

To sum up the above study of the phrase ‘white and ruddy’ it can be presented as follows:

The word ‘white/radiant’ does not signify some spiritless, morbid, or deadly whitish colour. It rather stands here for brightness, brilliance, and beauty of the countenance and sound health.

The word ‘ruddy’ means to show blood (in the face), i.e. flush or turn rosy:- be red.

The combination of both these words, i.e. ‘white and ruddy’ depicts a comely figure of healthiness, strength, beauty and brightness. It reflects the exact features of Prophet Muhammad (pbAh).

They cannot be physically applied to Jesus Christ (pbAh) by any stretch of sense. He was literally neither ‘radiant’ nor ‘ruddy’. But, on the contrary, the Bible notes that ‘he had no form nor comeliness’.

They apply to the Prophet of Islam (pbAh) in true sense of the word. It is a historical fact that he was perfectly ‘radiant and ruddy’.

The Christian scholars have vainly attempted to relate these words to Jesus Christ (pbAh).

The next sentence of the prophecy is:

דגול מרבבה

The chiefest/choicest among ten thousand

Which is to be elaborated in the next chapter.