Song of Solomon

painting representing the Old Testament Book of Song of SolomonThe Song of Songs, also Song of Solomon, Canticle of Canticles, or Canticles, is one of the megillot (scrolls) found in the last section of the Tanakh, known as the Ketuvim (or "Writings"), and a book of the Old Testament.

The Song of Songs is unique within the Hebrew Bible: it shows no interest in Law or Covenant or the God of Israel, nor does it teach or explore wisdom like Proverbs or Ecclesiastes (although it does have some affinities to wisdom literature, as the ascription to Solomon indicates); instead, it celebrates sexual love, giving "the voices of two lovers, praising each other, yearning for each other, proffering invitations to enjoy". The two are in harmony, each desiring the other and rejoicing in sexual intimacy; the women of Jerusalem form a chorus to the lovers, functioning as an audience whose participation in the lovers' erotic encounters facilitates the participation of the reader.

In modern Judaism the Song is read on the Sabbath during the Passover, which marks the beginning of the grain harvest as well as commemorating the Exodus from Egypt. Jewish tradition reads it as an allegory of the relationship between God and Israel, Christianity as an allegory of Christ and his bride, the Church.

There is widespread consensus that, although the book has no plot, it does have what can be called a framework, as indicated by the links between its beginning and end. Beyond this, however, there appears to be little agreement: attempts to find a chiastic structure have not been compelling, and attempts to analyze it into units have used differing methods and arrived at differing results. The following schema, from Kugler & al. must therefore be taken as indicative, rather than determinative:

  • Introduction (1:1-6)
  • Dialogue between the lovers (1:7-2:7)
  • The woman recalls a visit from her lover (2:8-17)
  • The woman addresses the daughters of Zion (3:1-5)
  • Sighting a royal wedding procession (3:6-11)
  • The man describes his lover's beauty (4:1-5:1)
  • The woman addresses the daughters of Jerusalem (5:2-6:4)
  • The man describes his lover, who visits him (6:5-12)
  • Observers describe the woman's beauty (6:13-8:4)
  • Appendix (8:5-14)

View the Chapters of Song of Solomon:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8  






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