Song of Solomon or Canticles also known as Song of Songs
Song of Songs is among the five scrolls or megillot present in the Ketuvim section of Tanakh. Also known as the Song of Solomon, it is a unique piece within Hebrew Bible since it doesn’t speak of Yahweh, or Jewish Covenant or Law, nor does it preach Proverbs dealing with wisdom. Instead, Song of Songs exclusively celebrates the sexual love and union between a man and woman in matrimonial bond.
Although the composition refers to the name of Solomon from Song of Solomon, there is no agreed consensus that the work was created by the pre-Christian king of Israel. Scholars who have tried to date the poetic piece noticed the influence of Egyptian and Mesopotamian love poetry as well as similarities with pastoral idylls created by the Greek poet Theocritus. Along with the strongly noticeable Aramaic influence, Song of Songs or Song of Solomon is broadly dated between 10th and 2nd centuries BC, with a greater propensity of a later date.
Song of Songs or Song of Solomon is notable for the absence of any obvious structure. However, it does have a specific framework that is indicated by its well defined beginning and ending. The superlative in the title Song of Songs or Song of Solomon refers to the piece of work as the most beautiful and poignant of all songs or poems. At the beginning of the poem, we find the woman expressing her amorous feelings for her lover. She also describes her physical attributes to the so-called “daughters of Jerusalem”, pointing out that her black skin is caused by exposure to sun’s hot rays during her long hours of work in vineyards. This is then followed by an exchange of sweet phrases and compliments between the lovers when the woman asks her man for a meeting. In the next section, the woman recollects a springtime visitation from her lover. To do this, she makes use of imagery taken from the life of a shepherd.
In a further address to Zion’s daughters, the woman describes her passionate search for her man through the city streets in the night and how after finding him she almost forcefully takes him to the place where she was herself conceived by her mother. The woman then reveals that it is a dream which she sees in her bed at nighttime.
The following scene describes a royal wedding march. The Solomon from Song of Solomon is mentioned here by name. The daughters of Zion are invited to bear witness to the amazing spectacle. The man now describes the beauty of his beloved in great detail. Intense sensuous suggestions and analogies are made to refer to her magical beauty. This eventually develops into a garden poem where the woman invites her man to enter her garden and enjoy the fruits. This is followed by the description of another dream sequence by the woman. The people then praise the woman’s beauty by using strikingly sensuous imagery. The man expresses his desire to enjoy all that is present in the woman’s garden. In reply, she invites him for an encounter in the fields. The woman finally compares love to the ideas of death and sheol stating that love is as jealous and relentless as these two, which makes it unquenchable by any force.
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