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Song of Solomon
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Song of Solomon

Books of Ketuvim
Song of Solomon
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Song of Solomon is also the title of a novel by Toni Morrison; ISBN 0452260116.

The Song of Solomon or Song of Songs (שיר השירים) is a book of the Bible (Tanakh and Old Testament). It is also sometimes called, after the Vulgate, the "Canticles." The book consists of a cycle of poems about love and sex, largely in the form of a dialogue between a man and woman. Elements of the text are similar to ancient Near Eastern erotic poetry.

The name of the book comes from the first verse, "The Song of songs, which is of (or for) Solomon." Some believe the title "song of songs" attests to the greatness of the book. Rabbi Akiba declared, "Heaven forbid that any man in Israel ever disputed that the Song of Songs is holy. For the whole world is not worth the day on which the Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy and the Song of Songs is the Holy of Holies. (Mishnah Yadayim 3:5). Similarly, Martin Luther called it "das Hohelied."

Some people translate the second clause of the title as "which is of Solomon," meaning that the book is authored by Solomon. According to Jewish tradition, Solomon wrote three Biblical books, corresponding to three states in a man's life: Song of Songs, which expresses the lustful vigor of youth; Proverbs, which expresses the wisdom of maturity; and Ecclesiastes, which expresses the cynicism of old age. Others translate the second clause as "which is for Solomon," meaning that the book is dedicated to Solomon. Some read the book as contrasting the nobility of monogamous love with the debased nature of promiscuous love, and suggest that the book is actually a veiled criticism of Solomon, who is said to have had seven hundred wives and three hundred concubines.

Although the book never mentions God by name, many argued for, or have justified, its inclusion in the Biblical canon, as a divine allegory. According to Jewish tradition, it is an allegory of God's love for the Children of Israel; in Christian tradition it is allegory for the relationship of the worshipper to the Church, or of Christ and the Church. This type of allegory is heavily used later in the New Testament by Jesus Christ and Paul. It is also heavily used in sufi poetry.

(Compare Ps. 45; Isa. 54:4-6; 62:4, 5; Jer. 2:2; 3:1, 20; Ezek. 16; Hos. 2:16, 19, 20. Compare also Matt. 9:15; John 3:29; Eph. 5:23, 27, 29; Rev. 19:7-9; 21:2, 9; 22:17.)

Initial text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897 -- Please update as needed