Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Comparative History Allegorical and Literal Interpretations of the Song of Songs: A Commentary of Song of Songs 4:1-5:1

            The Song of Songs is a book that has many interpretations- many of which are allegorical. One vein of allegorical interpretation stems from the Jewish understanding of the song, and the other stems from early church leaders like Origen and Gregory of Nyssa. The problem with allegory is that it is subjective and fails to meet any standard of consistent interpretation. Allegorical interpretation is where the interpreter reads into the text what he or she wants it to say, rather than what the author intended it to mean. Exegetes should remember that the word of God was inspired by God through holy men. Thus, it is imperative to seek that original authorial intent. Therefore, it is necessary for exegetes and interpreters to understand the background and the problems that arise from an allegorical understanding of the text, and there is no better text that expresses this idea than the Song of Songs, with its many allegorical interpretations.  
Jewish and Early Christian Interpretation of the Song of Songs
Jewish Interpretations
            Jewish and Christian interpreters alike have understood the Song of Songs to be a book that is to be interpreted allegorically. It is worth mentioning that in the Septuagint, there seems to be only one passage  that might indicate that the translators were moving towards an allegorical understanding of the text.  This passage is Song of Songs 4:8c., "
ἐλεύσῃ καὶ διελεύσῃ ἀπὸ ἀρχῆς πίστεως"(LXX). It states, "You, yourself, come and go through from the beginning of faith." This shows a clear diversion from the original in the Hebrew which states, "Depart from the peak of Amana" (ESV). The problem with this argument is that the translators like "Josephus and others" transliterated and translated "Hebrew proper names" very inconsistently and poorly.[1] According to Fields,
It is further disproved by the rendering of[תִרְצָ֔ה], "Tirzah," by [εὐδοκία], "delight," (6:4), and of [בַּת־נָדִ֑יב], "noble daughter," by [θύγατερ Ναδαβ] "daughter of Nadab," (7:2), "whence it is evident that the Septuagint frequently mistook proper names for appellatives and adjectives, and vice versa."[2]

It is not clear why the Greek LXX used πίστεως (Faith) instead of "peak of Amana," other than that these errors were "commonplace" in transitions.[3]  Thus, it is unlikely that the Septuagint translators understood the Song of Songs to be an allegory.  
            There is also speculation that Ben Sira alluded to an allegorical understanding of the Song. Sira 47:14-17(NRSV) states,
How wise you were when you were young! You overflowed like the Nile with understanding. 15 Your influence spread throughout the earth, and you filled it with proverbs having deep meaning. 16 Your fame reached to far-off islands, and you were loved for your peaceful reign. 17 Your songs, proverbs, and parables, and the answers you gave astounded the nations. (Bold Added)

And according to the KJVA,
14 How wise wast thou in thy youth and, as a flood, filled with understanding! 15 Thy soul covered the whole earth, and thou filledst it with dark parables. 16 Thy name went far unto the islands; and for thy peace thou wast beloved. 17 The countries marveled at thee for thy songs, and proverbs, and parables, and interpretations. (Bold Added)

Some have taken verse 15 with its mention of "dark parables"/"proverbs of deep meaning" to refer to the Song of Songs, because it seems to be "distinct from Proverbs."[4] Moreover, the idea of dark parables and deeper meaning also played into the idea that the Song of Songs should be interpreted allegorically, so as to find those hidden and deeper meanings. The flaw with this conclusion is that this passage is simply echoing I Kings 10:23-25, which states:
Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind. Every one of them brought his present, articles of silver and gold, garments, myrrh, spices, horses, and mules, so much year by year. (ESV)

            Another, allegorical argument found within Jewish thought is that the Song of Songs should be understood allegorically in light of the book of Wisdom. Wisdom 8:2 (NRSV)states, "I loved her and sought her from my youth; I desired to take her for my bride, and became enamored of her beauty." This argument assumes that because this book talks about love, it somehow indicates that the one being loved or showing love is the same one spoken of in the Song.  Furthermore, if one reads through both books, it will become quite obvious that the Song of Songs is neither the same as nor even remotely comparable to the book of the Wisdom [of Solomon].[5]
            Then there is the Hellenistic Jewish historian Josephus. Josephus did not actually have a commentary on the Song of Songs and he rarely mentions it in his writings.[6] However, it is noted that Josephus categorizes the Song of Songs as a prophetic book. This implies that Josephus understood the Song allegorically.
            During the 5th and 6th century, the Talmud was written and it is clearly conveyed an allegorical understanding of the Song of Songs. Meanwhile, the Midrash refers to the Song, by condemning its use in an inappropriate manor; which could be referring to its literal use in public conversation. In Yadaim 3:5 it states, "All the holy scriptures render the hands unclean. The Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes render the hands unclean."[7] Furthermore, in Sanhedrin 101a it states, " Our Rabbis taught: He who recites a verse of the Song of Songs and treats it as a [secular] air, and one who recites a verse at the banqueting table unseasonably, brings evil upon the world."[8] A clear example of how the Song was understood allegorically by the Midrash is found in its interpretation of Song of Songs 1:2(NET), " For your lovemaking is more delightful than wine." According to the Midrash, "here the words of the Torah are compared to wine. Just as wine makes heart of man rejoice, as written in Psalms 104:15...'and wine makes glad the heart of man,' so does the Torah..."[9] Basically, they replaced wine in the Song 1:2 with the Torah. This is possibly one of the clearest examples of a move towards an allegorical understanding of the book by early Jewish interpreters.
            Finally, there is the Targum, a massive allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs. In fact the Song has "probably engendered more exegesis in proportion to its size than any other book outside the Pentateuch."[10]  The Targumists see two main voices in the Song, the Beloved or the dod and the bride.[11] The beloved (dod) is understood to be God and the bride is Israel, and the book is showing a love relationship between God and his chosen people throughout Jewish history. This history is divided into three moments in Israel's history.[12] Each time period "begins with an exile[13], leads to an exodus, and culminates in an occupation of the land, the building of the Temple, the establishment of the monarchy and the abiding of the Shekinah[14] in the midst of the people."[15] Philip Alexander breaks down the Targumist argument as:
A. Preamble (1:1-2)
B. Exile from Egypt to Reign of Solomon (1:3-5:1).
C. Exile of Babylon to Hasmoneasns[16](5:2-7:11).
D. Exile of Edom to a future messiah (7:12-8:12).
E. Peroration(8:13-14).[17]

Ultimately, the Targum is probably the clearest and most thought-out allegory of the Song of Songs - both exegetically and theologically.
Christian Interpretations
            The Christian interpretations while not as systematic as that of the Targumist, are passionately allegorical, with few exceptions. Commentator Exum states that, "the Song is not an allegory, [but] it may be admitted that it lends itself to allegorical interpretation."[18] While Exum may be right, the fact is many in the early church did not need the Song to lend itself to an allegorical interpretation, because their hermeneutics was allegorical by its very nature. If one is to understand the early churches' understanding of the song, then it is as important to understand their exegetical background. The early church understood that there were secrets that could not be understood by the carnal man, thus they created a method of interpretation seeking to find the hidden truth or the spiritual truth in the Word of God. They would base this off statements found in Mathew 13:10-17 which state,
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to the one who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:"You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” For this people's heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it. (ESV: Bold added)

and statements in 1 Corinthians 2:14-16,
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.(ESV, Bold added)

Theologians like Irenaeus and Origen believed that non-Christians could read the biblical text but could not fully understand "mysteries of God," rather, only the Christian had the "key" to understand God's οἰκονομία "from beginning to end.[19] Origen states,
And what must we say about the prophecies, which we all know are filled with riddles and dark sayings? Or if we come to the gospels, the accurate interpretation even of these, since it is an interpretation of the mind of Christ... freely given to us by God.[20]

Origen, Irenaeus, and others after them, saw the Bible as being understood in terms of the body, soul, and spirit, or the literal (plain historical), typological, and spiritual respectively.[21] Therefore, when reading the allegorical musings of Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, it must be noted that these writings are founded on the ideas of searching for a deeper truth - a spiritual truth that is the very interpretation based on the mind of Christ, given to them by God.
            More specifically to Origen, in book three of his commentary on the Song of Songs, he presents a more detailed reason for his allegorical interpretation of the Song. He states,
Paul the apostle teaches us that the invisible things of God are understood by means of things that are visible, and that the things that are not seen are beheld through their own relationship and likeness to the things seen. He thus shows that the visible world teaches us about that which is invisible, and that this earthly scene contains certain patterns of things heavenly. Thus it is possible for us to mount up from things below to things above and to perceive and understand from the things we see on earth the things that belong to heaven.[22]

Origen is arguing that Paul in Romans 1:20 and 2 Corinthians 4:18 makes the case that Christians can understand spiritual things through earthly and natural things. On the other hand, Gregory of Nyssa seems to have allegorized the song for moral reasons. In a sense, he is cleansing, purging and trivializing the Song's "sexual eroticism."[23]
            When it comes to the interpretation of the Song, it aligns well with biblical ecclesiology, where the bride is the church and the groom is Christ Jesus. More specifically, Origen interprets the bride to be the Christian soul.[24]  Meanwhile, Gregory of Nyssa sees the bride as the best or most "advanced believers" like Moses and Paul - with souls considered to be perfect.[25] The believing soul "is lead as a bride toward[s] an incorporeal and spiritual and undefiled marriage with God."[26]
Gregory of Nyssa
             During the early church there was one theologian who strongly opposed the allegorical method of interpretation of scriptures, including the Song of Songs. That theologian was Theodore of Mopsuestia of the Antiochene school of hermeneutics. He saw the song as love poetry between Solomon and Pharoh's daughter, and he saw it as justification for their marriage. Thus, he thought it had no requisite value to be included in the cannon.[27] Mopsuestia was "posthumously condemned for his views on the Song", as well as for other theological fallacies he held. While none of his commentaries on the Song of Songs have survived except for the parts his critics may have quoted, Mopsuestia does make strong statements against allegory in other commentaries he has written. In his commentary on Galatians 4:24, he states,
There are some people who make it their business to pervert the meaning of the divine Scriptures and thwart whatever is to be found there. They invent foolish tales of their own and give to their nonsense the name of 'allegory.' by using the apostle's word, they imagine that they have found a way to undermine the meaning of everything scripture-they keep on using the apostle's expression "allegorical.'[28]

Clearly, Mopsuestia has a valid criticism of allegorical interpretation. He understands that the problem with allegorical interpretations is that they are very subjective. As Othmar Keel states, "If two allegorizers ever agree on the interpretation of a verse it is only because one has copied from another."[29] Keel makes the point that the discovered "deeper meaning... is only there because one has first inserted it."[30] This reiterates exactly the argument made by Mopsuestia about the danger of inventing tales and imagining new meaning to a text in the name of "allegory."
            In conclusion, both Gregory of Nyssa and Origen like the other exegetes of their day, sought to reveal the hidden mysteries of God through allegory. While this is imaginative and flawed, one must understand their hermeneutic and theological presuppositions about God and His Word. With this understanding one can possibly judge their flawed hermeneutic more compassionately.  
Commentary on Song of Song 4:1-5:1[31]
4:1Behold, you are beautiful, my love, behold, you are beautiful! Your eyes are doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats leaping down the slopes of Gilead. 2 Your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes that have come up from the washing, all of which bear twins, and not one among them has lost its young. 3 Your lips are like a scarlet thread, and your mouth is lovely. Your cheeks are like halves of a pomegranate behind your veil. 4 Your neck is like the tower of David, built in rows of stone; on it hang a thousand shields, all of them shields of warriors. 5 Your two breasts are like two fawns, twins of a gazelle, that graze among the lilies. 6 Until the day breathes and the shadows flee, I will go away to the mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense. 7 You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.

Analysis and Commentary

            This passage is the descriptive song also known as a wasf. Notice the structure of this introductory song.
  1. Declaration of beauty, for "my love" (4:1a).
  2. Describes her body parts (4:1b-5).
  3.  Day/shadow refrain[32] shows desire or intent to be with his love(4:6).
  4. Restating the beauty. (4:7)[33]

This description song creates a "sequence," describing the "physical beauty" of his love.[34] These sequences are broken down into "nominal clauses," followed by a "dependent clause."[35] Keel makes a great point that,
 These dependent clauses warn against a static understanding of the comparisons. Contrary to many interpretations, the issue here is not geometric shapes (shape of the eyes, shape of the neck, etc.); in Hebrew the meaning conveyed by these descriptions of the body is generally more dynamic, not static or geometric....the inherent powers of the beloved are the issue: the mystery of the attractive force of her beauty.[36]

There is credence to Keel's argument because the passage is in the middle of a thematic inclusio where the beauty of "My Love" is mentioned at the beginning and the end. Moreover, the larger section in 4:9 seems to express the very same idea of how she drives her lover "crazy."[37]
            The most obvious part of this introductory passage is that this man is in love with someone he finds very beautiful. What is not so obvious is who the "love" is. This Song falls within the Targumist section that is about the "Glories of the Solomonic age."[38] This creates a rubric through  which the Targumist molds the Song, in order to come up with his allegorical understanding which emphasizes what he saw as befitting to be in the Solomonic age.
            The Targumist understands the possessive statement "my love" to be "the assembly of Israel."[39] Alexander explains that, "the first occurrence of the word beautiful is applied to the assembly as a whole, the second to the leaders of the Assembly and the Sages."[40] This allegory is possible since they understand "eyes" to be the sages. Ironically, in the same section eyes which are mentioned later in 4:9 refers specifically to the Sanhedrin, and later in 7:5 the eyes are referring even more narrowly to scribes within the Sanhedrin. This narrowing seems to imply a sense of subjectiveness that is inconsistent. The Targumist understands the body parts to fit specific aspects of Jewish culture and life, for example, teeth refer to "Priest and Levites who... eat priestly gifts" brow refers to king, neck refers to "head of the college," and the "two breasts" refer to the messiahs of "David and Ephraim."[41] The Targumist also understands the flock of goats to be likened to Jacob's family and is somehow linked to Genesis 32:23-24, where Jacob wrestled an angel.[42] Finally, in verse 7, the Targumist understands the two fawns to be representations of Moses and Aaron, and the gazelle to be their mother.[43]
            Meanwhile, Gregory of Nyssa takes "my love" to mean "my close one."[44] Furthermore, the list of body parts for Nyssa is nothing more than a reference to the body of Christ, and Christ is just describing his body. Nyssa states in reference to this passage,
As the apostle says, there are many members, and all the members do not have the same function (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-26), but  forms one as an eye for the body and another was implanted as an ear, and some become hands on account of what they are able to do, and some that carry our weight are called feet, but there will also have to be a job of tasting and smelling, not to mention all the individual parts which the human body is composed....It is possible to find the common body of the church lips as well as teeth and tongue, breasts and womb and neck and, as Paul says, also those members of the body that appear unseemly.[45]

After this introductory concept, Nyssa takes the passage and shows how each body part listed in the Song is a metaphor for the specific members that make up the church. He did this for each body part, except for the breast, of which Nyssa explains that the reason they are referred to as fawns, is  because "the heart is located between them."[46]
            Also, while the Targumist did not interpret the dove, Nyssa does, and he states that, "the Holy Spirit is a dove."[47] Ironically Nyssa himself even runs out of ideas to allegorize when he gets to the "herd of goats" in verse 1. He states,
I have not yet been able to grasp what we are meant, by our careful efforts, to see about them. My guess is, however, that just as the king constructed his palanquin after he had changed the wood of Lebanon into gold and silver and purple and precious stones, so the good shepherd knows how to take herds of goats to himself and turn the herds on mount Gilead into sheep.[48]

This is a clear example of the subjectivity of Nyssa's allegorical method; for he does not know for certain what the passage's meaning is, so he turns to the use of conjecture.
            When it comes to literally understanding this passage, one must come to the simple realization that the Song of Songs is a book about human love - a love between Solomon and Shulamith. When one realizes this, one can better understand and appreciate the symbolism intertwined within the text. For example, when the word dove is used in verse 1, this is significant for doves are considered to be "messengers of love."
[49] Thus, when Shulamith's eyes were compared to doves, it could mean that her glances were relaying her love back to Solomon because communication goes both ways.  Moreover, the flock of goats that Nyssa struggled with identifying is a simile that possibly alludes to the fact that Shulamith had an abundance of hair.[50]
            Subsequently, verses 2-3 makes reference to Shulamith's mouth filled with pearly white teeth and lined with red lips. This conveys the idea that Solomon desires to kiss Shulamith, for he sees her mouth as clean and sees her lips as desirable.[51] Keel states that the symbolism of red lips is that they are "an invitation of love."[52] Solomon also likens her lips to a pomegranate. The pomegranate fruit was considered by ancient near easterners to be an aphrodisiac[53], thus in this passage, it is being used as a "sexual metaphor" - describing the desire for Solomon to want to kiss Shulamith. [54] In verse 4, Solomon talks about her character figuratively by comparing her neck to a tower of David, one upon which mighty men hang their shields. This not only expresses "stateliness", but the mention of the shields and the mighty men convey a sense of purity and strength, a cause for respect.[55]
            The Song of Songs 4:5, speaks of Shulamith's breasts as being compared to fawns. As mentioned above, there seems to be a theme of desire, and now the language used here for fawns conveys an idea of softness and the emotional response that the breast will "evoke."[56] This leads to verse 6 where the breasts are referred to as a "mountain of myrrh and the hill of frankincense."
            Finally, in verse 7, there is a key word, "blemish." The Hebrew word (מ֖וּם) conveys the idea of "inner and outer flaws."[57] This is significant because Solomon is choosing to say here that in his eyes, Shulamith has no inner or outer flaws. Keel translates this passage as "there is not flaw (מ֖וּם) in you...the term (מ֖וּם) is usually cultic, describing defects in priest or sacrifices... that arouse" the disapproval of God. [58] Thus Solomon, according to Keel, is ultimately saying that there is nothing about Shulamith that displeases him or that would "make him reject her and send her away."[59] Thus this song is a descriptive song that expresses through figurative language, a desire for love that is magnetized by the fact that she is without blemish - both inside and outside. The figurative language used throughout the Song conveys that this song is one of great passion and desire.
Wedding night: Song of Songs 4:8
8 Come with[60] me from Lebanon, my bride; come with me from Lebanon. Depart from the peak of Amana, from the peak of Senir and Hermon, from the dens of lions, from the mountains of leopards.

Analysis and Commentary
            The next section starts off at Song of Songs 4:8, which is its own individual song.[61] This is a passage where Solomon seeks for his bride to go with him and leave her protection. This passage contains symbols that are allusions to aspects of Sumerian love poetry. For instance, when Solomon in Song of Songs is asking Shulamith to come down from the mountains which are in Lebanon, this is a reference to Ishtar's throne or home, which is referenced in the Epic of Gilgamesh.[62]Moreover, Solomon makes reference to leopards and lions and both are related to Inanna/Ishtar.[63] In fact, in the Sumerian love song, "She Painted Her Eyes with Kohl (DI E1)," Ishtar is actually riding a lion.[64] However, though the Song of Songs shares this commonality with a Sumerian love song, this is not to say that the Song of Songs is in any way a pagan book, nor is Solomon making Shulamith out to be a goddess, anymore than he makes her out to be "lily or a garden."[65]
            On the other hand, Song of Songs 4:8 is understood by the Targumist to be referring to Israel as a chaste bride, while Lebanon refers to the temple.[66] The "Mount Amana" is actually allegorized as "river Amana."[67] Moreover, since the text was written within the context of Solomon's reign, it had an imperialist tone. The mountains, lions and leopards all convey the idea of "fortified cities" and "towns" that pay tribute and offerings to Israel.[68]
            Meanwhile, Nyssa sees verse 8, the request "to come away from frankincense" as a parallel to the call Christ makes to come and drink from Him as the well of life. He compares this passage to John 7:37. Gregory argues that,
The wellspring of good things always draws the thirsty to itself-just as in the Gospel the well-spring says: 'if anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink(John 7:37). For in using these words, He sets no limit...He issues a continuing invitation to thirst and to drink and to be impelled toward him.[69]

Thus, Gregory purports that this passage is a request to continue to drink from Christ - the well that will not run dry. Also, unlike the modern translation, the LXX states "come and pass through from the beginning of the faith" instead of "Depart from the peak of Amana."  Furthermore, Gregory of Nyssa believed that the lions convey a pre-salvation fallen state of the Christian's past nature to be compared to their new nature, and frankincense represents those who have been baptized and have died in Christ. [70]
            Allegorically this passage can mean many things, especially when looked at literally and within the cultural and historical context. Therefore, it seems that Othmar Keel is more on point by saying that in Songs 4:8, Solomon is pleading to "compel" Shulamith, "to come down from her godlike pedestal, a proud request of a proud woman!"[71] This is because; Solomon realizes or at least believes that he is "helpless and unable to attain her."[72]
Wedding night: Song of Songs 4:9-5:1a

9 You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace. 10 How beautiful is your love, my sister, my bride! How much better is your love than wine, and the fragrance of your oils than any spice! 11 Your lips drip nectar, my bride; honey and milk are under your tongue; the fragrance of your garments is like the fragrance of Lebanon.

Analysis and Commentary
This section then leads into the next song/poem, Song of Songs 4:9-11;  Dorsey calls this song a speech of praise.[73] However, because of the dialogue and some overlapping themes, this song is probably better understood to contain verses 4:9-5:1. This is a song where Solomon desires his bride and he praises her, then she the "enclosed garden"(4:12-14) opens up and invites Solomon in.
            Solomon is praising her by saying how Shulamith "drives [him] crazy" just by glancing over at him(4:9).[74] The phrase comes from the Hebrew word, labab (לִבַּבְתּ) derived from the noun lavav (heart) which can be understood several ways,
  1. "You have made my heart beat faster"(NASB).
  2. "You have stolen my heart,"(NET).
  3. "You have ravished my heart,"(NRSV/KJV).
  4. "You have captivated my heart,"(ESV)
  5. "You [drive me crazy]," or "you [enchant me]"(Keel)[75]
  6. "You have heartened us,"/" Ἐκαρδίωσας ἡμᾶς, "(LXX).
  7. "Thou hast encouraged me"(BDB).[76]
  8. "you have embolden me"/"ἐθάρσυνάς με,"[77]  (Symmachus, Greek old testament).[78]

BDB refers to this passage as one of encouragement, which is aligned with Symmachus' concept of emboldening. The context seems to draw another conclusion - one wherein the ESV and Keel are correct in saying that this passage is talking about an enchantment or captivation, and conveying the idea that Shulamith is the cause of the emotional change - love/infatuation.
            However, to the Targumist, verse 9 shows God praising Israel, the scholars and the assembly,[80] and more specifically the eyes refer to the Sanhedrin and they are compared as equal to the royalty. Moreover, this passage also takes a new twist for it says that God loves "the least among you, if he is righteous."[81]  This conditional phrase shows Yahweh's desire for justice for the poor, and His love for them, but it is conditioned on their righteousness.
            Subsequently, Nyssa's LXX (4:9) states, "You have heartened me," which to him is dealing with salvation or possibly more specifically with regeneration. He states, "By your own agency you have worked within us a soul and a mentality that enabled comprehension of the light."[82] In a sense it is God's enlightenment by God putting a heart into an individual.[83] This new heart is enlightenment also because it is a heart that opens up one's spiritual eyes. [84]
            While the Hebrew word, labab, in Song of Songs 4:9 is ambiguous, there is meaning within the text that does not need an interpretation through allegory. This is true especially when one understands the difference is basically degrees of love - whether one is captivated and driven crazy or whether one is sexually aroused. Either way, the word labab is a passionate response from Solomon toward his lover.
            Song of Songs 4:10-11 continues and concludes the song of praise. The song, while a separate song, seems to have the same play on desire as the descriptive song in 4:1-7, in that the bride has honey and milk under her tongue, she smells attractive and that she is sweeter than wine. All of these figurative descriptions help to capture why Solomon longs for Shulamith. This also is aligned with the idea that 4:9 is talking about how Shulamith is able to sexually arouse or captivate Solomon. It must be noted that this song, while showing great desire, does not go as far as to portray sexual intercourse.[85]
            Meanwhile, the Targumist has several nuances regarding the Song of Songs 4:10. He allegorizes the wine to refer to the 70 nations, because Israel's love is better than the rest of the world's, and their righteousness is more fragrant than that of the rest of the world. Then in verse 11, the honey that is under the tongue is allegorized to be the priests' prayers.[86] Finally, Israel is compared to a "chaste bride."[87]
            Nyssa understands the sweet fragrance (4:10) as the "fulfillment of the teaching of the gospel -[which] is for God the only [thing] that is 'sweet-smelling.'"[88] Moreover, a Christian who lives a life of dedication or a holy life then is acting like God and seeking to imitate Christ's likeness. To Nyssa, this is the fragrance spoken about in verse 10. [89] Nyssa even states, "the soul that breaths out spiritual fragrance like Paul, (who was 'the aroma of Christ" [2 Cor 2:15]) transcends all the spices of the law."[90] Finally, he sees the reference of honey and milk in this passage, as being a reference directed to immature Christians who cannot yet take the meat of the word of God.[91] In Verse 11 Nyssa sees figurative language talking about the bride's breast.[92] Now one must remember for Nyssa the bride is the body of Christ or the church. With this understanding the Bride's breast supposedly gave forth milk, which is needed for immature Christians (1 Cor 3:1-2), but now her breast change and this shows maturity.
            When looking at this song as a whole, it shows the deep desire which is expressed in this song of praise. Even the Targumist expresses this when it shows God's love for his people over other nations. That said, these interpretations are based off a conditional statement - one that is not present in the Hebrew. Rather, this song is about Solomon praising his bride, who utterly captivates him.
Wedding night: Song of Songs 4:12-15b
12 A garden locked is my sister, my bride, a spring locked, a fountain sealed. 13 Your shoots are an orchard of pomegranates  with all choicest fruits, henna with nard, 14 nard and saffron, calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense, myrrh and aloes, With all choice spices— 15 a garden fountain, a well of living water, and flowing streams from Lebanon.

Analysis and Commentary

            Verses 12-15 make up the section that compares the bride to a garden, spring, and a fountain. This passage uses a spring as a metaphor for sexual love, [93] and this metaphor has been argued by some to refer to a woman's vagina. [94] This metaphor can also be seen in Proverbs 5:15-19 which states,
Drink water from your own cistern and running water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed outside, your streams of water in the wide plazas? Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you. May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in your young wife– a loving doe, a graceful deer; may her breasts satisfy you at all times, may you be captivated by her love always. (NET)

Furthermore, the garden metaphor is one that links back to Eden, and conveys the idea of a "garden of delights"(Gen. 2:15; Ezek. 36:35; Joel 2:3).[95]
            These passages also show how Solomon is calling for his bride to come down, or come with him. Keel explains,
The metaphors of the locked garden and the sealed fountain belong to a series of metaphors of inaccessibility (cf. 2:14, the dove in clefts of the rock; 4:8, the bride on the peak of Hermon,, among the lions)...this image is simply about the inaccessible loved one....[because] the doors that lead to them are locked.[96]

Some have argued that the locked garden refers to chastity, or purity which would not necessarily be wrong since Solomon in verse 7 said she is without a blemish - being pure both inwardly and outwardly. That said, this passage is not one interpreters should use as an example of a bride's purity; rather, this passage is about "inaccessibility." It is on account of this very reason, why Solomon has to be let in, because he does not have access to his love.
            It should be noted that the Targumist does get something right regarding the allegory dispensed throughout this passage. The metaphor for the garden refers to the Garden of Eden, which as noted above is perfectly acceptable. The variation in the Targumist's understanding of verse 12 is that he believes the passage is referring to "chaste brides," and "virgins", instead of an inaccessible lover. Yet, the concept of Eden stays the same, meaning that it is referring to paradise.[97] In verse 13 the shoots are understood to be "young men" and are metaphorically compared to an orchard of pomegranates. The Targumist believes the choice fruits in this passage refers to sons of righteousness (or the offspring of godly marriages), which is a parallel to Psalm 127:3 that states, "Yes, sons are a gift from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward"(NET).[98]  Then, verse 14 is simply a "catalog" of fruits found in Eden.[99]
            In the Song of Songs 4:12-15, Gregory of Nyssa shows the bride maturing. The garden is sealed and only can be entered by the righteous bride.  Therefore, she does not only enter the garden and stops maturing, but she goes on even further by making it a "paradise [that] sprouts from her mouth."[100] Nyssa also sees this section as having a parallel to 1 Corinthians 3:6 that mentions Paul planting and Apollos watering, because the bride, being the whole body of Christ, can do both planting and watering. This is why living water flows from her.[101]
Wedding night: Song of Songs 4:16 (Brides Invitation)
16 Awake, O north wind, and come, O south wind! Blow upon my garden, let its spices flow. Let my beloved come to his garden, and eat its choicest fruits.

Analysis and Commentary

            This passage is shifted away from Solomon and is a response from the bride. She is calling for the wind to come and blow upon her garden, which happens to be fragrant. This fragrant scent and the choice fruits are both symbols to how inviting she was when she requested Solomon to come into her garden.  This is seen by some commentators as the consummation of their marriage.[102] This can be supported by the fact that while other parts of the Song contain several adjurations against awaking love before its time (2:7,3:5;8:4), this verse specifically says "awake."[103]
            It has been argued that in the first half of this verse, Solomon is speaking, because the phrase "my garden" is used.[104] Exum explains,
Ordinarily the garden, as a metaphor for the woman, belongs to the man; she calls it 'his garden' here in this verse (and in 6:2), and he calls it 'my garden' to refer to herself and her physical charms. In the present context, however, the woman could be using 'my garden' to refer to herself and her physical charms which are hers alone to give and which in her next breath, she offers to her lover by calling herself 'his garden.'[105]

Therefore, although possible, it is unlikely that Solomon is talking at all in verse 16, especially when one realizes that the garden is sealed and locked.
            To the Targumist, Song of Songs 4:16, is not a depiction of  Shulamith simply responding to Solomon, but a depiction of Israel responding to Yahweh and requesting for Him to come and make his abode in the temple.[106] He goes on to state that each wind represents an offering: the north wind represents a "burnt-offering, which was killed on the north side [Lev 1:10-11]" and the south wind represents a "peace offering", which was killed on the south side" of the altar respectively.[107] A very key point is when the bride states "let my beloved come," the Targumist argues that this refers to Israel requesting Yahweh's Shekinah glory or His divine presence.[108] The exact words of the Targum are, "Let my God, my Beloved, come into His temple, and receive with favor the offerings of His people."[109] Thus, the roles seemed to have been reversed from that of the actual text, for while modern translations show Solomon practically begging to be with his bride, the Targum shows the bride begging to be with Yahweh in His divine presence.
            In homily 10 on the Song of Songs by Gregory of Nyssa, the bride is then given the title of queen because she can command the winds.[110] The north wind according to Nyssa was commanded to depart and the south wind was commanded to come forth; but this is only because Nyssa purposefully chose to translate (Ἐξεγέρθητι) as "away" instead of "awake" or "rise up."[111] The south wind is allegorically understood to be Pentecost when the Spirit came down and gave the gift of tongues to the disciples. Acts 2:2-4 states,
Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.

Gregory of Nyssa explains this is why the queen is calling the south wind, because it is good for it is the Holy Spirit imparting His blessings.[112]However, the queen is sending the north wind away because it is "harsh" and refers "to the prince and power of darkness."[113]The bride has this power because "her Creator" made her to be mother of the garden, which refers to an early understanding of the church being viewed as a mother.[114]As mother, she takes care of the trees, which are the members of the church and they are the ones who bear fruit.[115]
Wedding Night: Song of Songs 5:1
5:1a I came to my garden, my sister, my bride, I gathered my myrrh with my spice, I ate my honeycomb with my honey, I drank my wine with my milk.5:1b Eat, Friends, Drink, and be drunk with love!

Analysis and Commentary

            This last verse shows Solomon's response to Shulamith - finalizing the dialogue for this section. This passage shows that they had pleasurable sexual intercourse, which is shown by the fact that he has enjoyed his "myrrh," "spice," "honeycomb," "wine," and "milk." All of these allude to the fact that he had "partaken of her pleasures to the full."[116] The second half of the passage simply shows the poet or author charging these lovers to eat, drink and be full of love to the point that they are drunk or infatuated with each other.
            The Targumist understands this last verse within this section on the Solomonic age to be the "climax" where God responds to His people's invitation and choose to enter and live within the temple.[117] In this passage, the "garden" represents the "Temple, "the gathering of myrrh with spice" represents "God's acceptance," and the word "consume" refers to God's favorable acceptance.[118] Meanwhile the "honey" represents the "scarifies of the holy things," and "wine" and "milk" both refer to "libations offered in the temple."[119] The "friends" and "lovers" refer to the "priests" [120]; and  in the end, the main focus of this passage shows Yahweh choosing to return to his people and "caused [his] Shekinah to reside among" them.[121]
            Gregory interprets this passage with an interesting angle. He perceives this passage as depicting God being generous by doing more than the bride had asked for. God came and "changed the nature of the fruit" and made them better.[122] Nyssa explains that the "ensouled plants" (Christians) bake "bread" for God, and he bases this conclusion off Matthew 25:35 (NET) which states, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in."[123] Finally, he makes a point that this food and drink is "divine", thus seeming to allude that the effects of the wine will allow one to get drunk without its negative effects. [124] This is because anything that is from God goes from "worse to better."[125]
            In conclusion, when looking at this section of the Song of Songs, through the lenses of multiple interpretations, one can clearly see the flaws with the subjective allegorical method. While the Targumist had a methodological, historical and theological rubric to accommodate to, Gregory of Nyssa used his own opinion and the New Testament to reinterpret the Song. In the end, Mopsuestia and others who have held to a historical critical/literal method were right, and those who use this method will find the true biblical meaning; for it is only through this that one can find the authorial intent.

                [1] Weston W. Fields, "Early and Medieval Jewish Interpretation of the Song of Songs," GTJ 1.2 (1980): 223.
                [2] Fields, "Early and Medieval," 223-224.
                [3] Marvin H. Pope, Song of Songs: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. (AB 7c; New York, NY: Doubleday, 1977):90.
                [4] Pope, Song of Songs, 91.
                [5] Fields, "Early and Medieval," 225.
                [6] Fields, "Early and Medieval," 225.
                [7] Fields, "Early and Medieval," 227.
                [8] Judeo Christian Research, “The Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin,” n. p. [cited 14 Sep, 2013]. Online:
                [9] Fields, "Early and Medieval," 229.
                [10] Philip S. Alexander, The Targum of Canticles: Translated with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes, (The Aramaic Bible Vol 17a, Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2003): 34.
                [11] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 13.
                [12] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 13.
                [13] For the Targumist exile "means the loss of statehood and the absence of the divine presence." Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 19.
                [14] Shekhinah is divine presence that "nourishes and protects Israel...and even banishes demons." This blessing can only be fully realized and enjoyed in the land and not in exile. Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 19.
                [15] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 13.
                [16] "A prominent priestly, but non-Aaronic family from Modein," who started a rebellion and overthrew their pro-Syrian oppressors. Sara R. Mandell, "Hasmoneans", in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible ( ed. David Noel Freedman et al.;Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000), 555.
                [17] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 15.             
                [18] J. Cheryl Exum, Song of Songs: A commentary, (OTL, Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox Press, 2005):77.
                [19] Karlfried Froehlich, Biblical interpretations in the Early Church. (Philadelphia, PA, Fortress Press,1985):13-14.
                [20] Origen, On First Principles.(Trans. G. W. Butterworth, New York, NY, Harper Torchbooks, 1966)273-274.
                [21] J.N.D. Kelly, Early Church Doctrines (New York, NY, Continuum International Publishing, 2012):73.
                [22] Origen, The Song of Songs, Commentary and Homilies,(eds. J. Plumpe, J. Quasten, ACW 26, New York, NY, 1956):218.
                [23] Richard A. Norris Jr., Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Song of Songs, (writings from The Greco-Roman World 13, Atlanta, GA, Society of Biblical Literature, 2012):xxiii.
                [24] Origen, Song of Songs, 7.
                [25] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, xxxvi.
                [26] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, xxxvi.
                [27] Exum, Song of Songs, 73.
                [28] Theodore of Mopsuestia "Commentary on Galatians 4:24," pages 151-154, in Documents in Early Christian Thought, (Trans H. B. Sweet, Eds M. Wiles and M. Santer, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 1975):151.
                [29] Othmar Keel, The Song of Songs: A continental commentary (Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1994)8.
                [30] Keel, Song of Songs, 7.
                [31] All verses unless listed are ESV.
                [32]For more information on Day and Shadow Refrains refer to, Roland E. Murphy, "The Unity of the Song of Songs," VT 24, (1979):437.
                [33] Outline based off outline found in, Roland E. Murphy, "From-Critical Studies in the Song of Songs," Int 27, 4(1973):4:19.
                [34] Murphy, "From Critical Studies," INT,419.
                [35] Keel, Song of Songs, 139.
                [36] Keel, Song of Songs, 139.
                [37] Keel, Song of Songs, 161.
                [38] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 15.
                [39] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 130.
                [40] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 130.
                [41] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 130-134.
                [42] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 134.
                [43] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 135.
                [44] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 227.
                [45] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 227.
                [46]There really is not an allegorical or textual support for Nyssa's idea that the heart is between the fawns thus they are breasts. Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 249.
                [47] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 231.
                [48] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 231.
                [49] Keel, Song of Songs, 141.
                [50] Keel, Song of Songs, 141.
                [51] Duane A. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, (NAC 14, Nashville, TN, Boradman Press, 1993): 404.
                [52] Keel, Song of Songs, 143.
                [53] Keel, Song of Songs, 143.
                [54] Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 404.
                [55] Craig Glickman, Solomon's Song of Love: Let the Song of Songs Inspire your own romantic story (Louisiana: Howard Publishing co., 2004), 24-25.
                [56] Glickman, Solomon's Song of Love, 20.
                [57] Glickman, Solomon's Song of Love, 26, 210. Moreover, the Hebrew word mumo has cultic ramifications, for if a priest was to have a physical flaw he was to be excluded from "priestly service"(Lv 21:17-23) and the same went for animal sacrifices (Lv 22:20, 21, 25 Nu 19:2 Dt 15:21; 17:1)...  moreover, the word can be taken figuratively as a "moral blemish."(Dt 32:5)  Francis Brown et al., BDB (electronic ed.; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 548.
                [58] Keel, Song of Songs, 153.
                [59] Keel, Song of Songs, 153.
                [60]In the Septuagint it reads "come" but the Hebrew text states "with me," thus the more difficult reading is more likely, that said they are almost identical and the meaning really won't be lost either way.  Keel, Song of Songs, 154.
                [61] Both Keel and David Dorsey take this song to be its own speech/song. Keel, Song of Songs, 153; David A. Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A commentary on Genesis-Malachi, (Grand Rapids, MI, Backer Accademic,2005):205-206.
                [62] Keel, The Song of Songs,155.
                [63]Keel, The Song of Songs, 158.
                [64] Yiṣḥāq Ṣefātî, Love Songs in Sumerian Literature: Critical Edition of the Dumuzi-Inanna Songs.( Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan Univ. Press, 1998)313,316.
                [65] Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 404.
                [66] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 137.
`               [67] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 138.
                [68] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 137-138.
                [69] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 261.
                [70] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa:Homilies, 261-262.
                [71] Keel, The Song of Songs, 158.
                [72] Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 406
                [73] Dorsey, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, 206.
                [74] Keel, The Song of Songs, 161-166.
                [75] Keel, The Song of Songs, 161-162.
                [76] Francis Brown et al., Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (electronic ed.; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000), 525.
                [77] Reinhart Ceulemans, "A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of the Book of Canticles, with Emphasis on Their Reception in Greek Christian exegesis," (PhD. Diss., Katholiek Universiteit Leuven, 2009): 405.
                [78] "Some translators take the first clause as though the word 'ravished' should be rendered 'emboldened.' Symmachus, θαρσύνας με.” Song of Solomon ( ed. H. D. M. Spence-Jones;, The Pulpit Commentary London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 94.
                [79] James Swanson, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew (Old Testament) (electronic ed.; Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997).
                [80] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles, 137-138.
                [81] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,139.
                [82] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 271.
                [83]Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 267.
                [84] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 271.
                [85] Keel, The Song of Songs, 166; Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 406.
                [86] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,140.
                [87] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,140.
                [88] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 283.
                [89] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 287.
                [90] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 283.
                [91] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 284.
                [92] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 284.
                [93] Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 407.
                [94] Keel, Song of Songs, 176-178; and Pope, Song of Songs, 490-491.
                [95] Keel, Song of Songs, 170.
                [96] Keel, Song of Songs, 174.
                [97] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,140.
                [98] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,143.
                [99] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,143.
                [100] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 295.
                [101] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 307.
                [102] Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 407.
                [103] Exum, Song of Songs, 180.
                [104] Keel, Song of Songs, 181.
                [105] Exum, Song of Songs, 180.Garrett also understands 16 as being the female speaking. Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 407.
                [106] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,145
                [107] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,145.
                [108] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,145
                [109] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,145
                [110] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 313.
                [111] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 312-315.
                [112] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 317.
                [113] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 317.
                [114] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 317-21.
                [115] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 321.
                [116] Garrett, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, 407.
                [117] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,146.
                [118] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,146.
                [119] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,146.
                [120] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,146.
                [121] Alexander, The Targum of Canticles,146.
                [122] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 323.
                [123] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 325.
                [124] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 325.
                [125] Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies, 325.
Alexander, Philip S. The Targum of Canticles: Translated with a Critical Introduction, Apparatus, and Notes, The Aramaic Bible Vol 17a, Collegeville, MN, Liturgical Press, 2003.
Brown, Francis  et al., Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, electronic ed.; Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 2000.
Ceulemans, Reinhart ,"A Critical Edition of the Hexaplaric Fragments of the Book of Canticles, with Emphasis on Their Reception in Greek Christian exegesis," PhD. Diss., Katholiek Universiteit Leuven, 2009.
Dorsey, David A., The Literary Structure of the Old Testament: A commentary on Genesis-Malachi, Grand Rapids, MI, Backer Academic, 2005.
Exum, J. Cheryl. Song of Songs: A commentary, Old Testament Library, Louisville, KY, Westminster John Knox Press, 2005.
Fields, Weston W.  "Early and Medieval Jewish Interpretation of the Song of Songs," Grace Theological Journal 1.2 (1980): 221-231.
Froehlich, Karlfried, Biblical interpretations in the Early Church, Philadelphia, PA, Fortress Press,1985):1.
Garrett, Duane A.,  Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, NAC 14, Nashville, TN, Boradman Press, 1993.
Glickman, Craig, Solomon's Song of Love: Let the Song of Songs Inspire your own romantic story, Louisiana: Howard Publishing co., 2004.
Judeo Christian Research, “The Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin,” n. p. [cited 14 Sep, 2013]. Online:
Keel, Othmar, The Song of Songs: A continental commentary, Minnesota: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1994.
Kelly, J.N.D., Early Church Doctrines, New York, NY, Continuum International Publishing, 2012.
Mandell, Sara R. "Hasmoneans", in Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, ed. David Noel Freedman et al.; Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000.
Mopsuestia, Theodore of "Commentary on Galatians 4:24," pages 151-154, in Documents in Early Christian Thought, Trans H. B. Sweet, Eds M. Wiles and M. Santer, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 1975.
Murphy, Roland E. "From-Critical Studies in the Song of Songs," Interpretation 27, 4(1973):413-422.
Murphy, Roland E. "The Unity of the Song of Songs," Vetus Testamentum 24, (1979):436-443.
Norris Jr., Richard A., Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Song of Songs, Writings from The Greco-Roman World 13, Atlanta, GA, Society of Biblical Literature, 2012.
Origen, The Song of Songs, Commentary and Homilies, eds. J. Plumpe, J. Quasten, Ancient Christian Writings 26, New York, NY, 1956.
Origen, On First Principles, Trans. G. W. Butterworth, New York, NY, Harper Torchbooks, 1966.
Pope, Marvin H.  Song of Songs: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible 7c; New York, NY: Doubleday, 1977.
ṢefātîYiṣḥāq, Love Songs in Sumerian Literature: Critical Edition of the Dumuzi-Inanna Songs, Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan Univ. Press, 1998.
Spence-Jones, H. D. M. ed., Song of Solomon, the Pulpit Commentary London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909.
Swanson, James, Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains : Hebrew, Old Testament, electronic ed.; Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997.

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