Song of Songs

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Ketuvim (writings) of the Tanakh
Sifrei Emet (poetic books)
חמש מגילות- Megillot (fixed rollers)
Textbooks or wisdom books of
the Old Testament

Names after the ÖVBE . Pseudepigraphs of
the Septuagint are in italics .

As Song (also: Song of Solomon , rare: Song of Solomon , abbreviated Cant ) refers to a book of the Tanakh , where it's five Megillot counts, or the Old Testament . It is a collection of tender, sometimes explicitly erotic love songs, in which the searching and finding, the yearning and mutual praise of two lovers are described.


The book title is Hebrew שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים Shir ha-Shirim . It literally means “The Song of Songs” and expresses the Hebrew superlative (meaning: “The most beautiful of all songs”). This largely corresponds to the title in the Greek Septuagint Ἄσμα Ἀσμάτων (ásma asmáton) and in the Latin Vulgate Canticum Canticorum .

The name “Song of Songs” goes back to the translation of the Bible by Martin Luther , who called the book “The Song of Solomon Salomonis”.

Slightly different spellings are used in German today. In the specialist literature and in religious Christian usage, the spelling “Song of Songs” predominates (more rarely “Song of Songs”). The Duden , on the other hand, recommends the form “Hohelied” without the inflection of the adjective (e.g. “des Hoheliedes”). In technical language, the term is mostly inflected in both parts of the word (ie "des Hohenlied"). In accordance with its naming convention for biblical names, Wikipedia follows the technical language.

Text shape

There is now a consensus regarding the finding that the Song of Songs is a collection of originally independent love songs. It is controversial whether the songs were arranged according to an overarching concept. Basically three views can be distinguished: One interprets the Song of Songs as a progressive story (e.g. André Robert, 1963), a second reads it as a drama (e.g. Origenes, 244; Christoph Uehlinger, 2001), while a third interprets it as a rather loose compilation considered (inter alia Keel, 1992; Zakovitch, 2004). The interpretation of the Song of Songs as a loose combination can be seen as common sense , whereby the use of some refrain-like elements (e.g. evocation of the daughters of Jerusalem : 2.7; 3.5; 8.4; togetherness formula: 2.16, 6, 3; 7.11) and recurring motifs (e.g. the garden motif:; 5.1; 6.2.11; 8.13) give the collection a certain structural connection.

In the Song of Songs, a man, a woman and a kind of choir appear alternately as speakers. Traditionally, the man was often identified with Solomon (the attribution in the poem is unclear; where the name “Solomon” is used, this does not have to be the male speaker); sometimes a love drama between three people (a woman, a simple shepherd and King Solomon as his rival) was accepted. The woman's name was mostly given with Sulamith due to the mention in Chapter 7 ( Hld 7,1  EU ) . It should be noted, however, that in keeping with the collection character of the Song of Songs, different female and male figures originally spoke and acted here.

The Song of Songs has been divided into eight chapters since the Middle Ages .


The time of origin of the Hohenlied is highly controversial. The mention of Solomon at the beginning of the Song of Songs is generally not interpreted as sufficient evidence of Solomon's authorship. Nevertheless, some theologians do not rule out a (partial) authorship of Solomon or at least assign the origin of the Song of Songs to the Solomonic context. One argument for the possible old age of poetry is its proximity to Egyptian poetry of the New Kingdom .

On the other hand, aramaic language forms, a Persian loan word ( pardes ; Park in Hld 4,13) as well as various names for exotic spices and fragrances are cited, which indicate that the Song of Songs did not take its final form until after 500 BC. Has received.

Parallels to Greek poetry and various Greek customs (e.g. royal litter in Hld 3,9-10; bridegroom wreath in Hld 3,11) in the Song of Songs point to the Hellenistic period, i. H. the 3rd century BC Chr, out.

The surviving text witnesses from the Qumran caves also show variants in the text collection, which indicates that this was in the 2nd century BC. Was not yet finalized.

The philosopher of religion Carl Gebhardt dealt with dating and interpretation in translations and commentaries in 1930. Regardless of older, assumed original ideas and parts of the text, he dates the work to the time of Hellenism (300 BC). He represented the motif correspondences with the Amoebean poetry Theocrites , after the humanists of the 17th and 18th centuries had already noticed that parallels to Greek poetry can be found here. Then also Hugo Grotius and Johann Theophil Lessing, a brother of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, already pointed out.

Religious-historical classification

A cultic-mythological theory emphasizes the correspondence with Sumerian and Akkadian texts about the holy marriage , in particular the connection between Dumuzi or Tammuz and the goddess Inanna / Ištar . Against this theory, it is argued that the Old Testament otherwise clearly opposes Canaanite fertility cults.


Egon Tschirch: The Song of Solomon (picture cycle 1923)

The Song of Songs contains longing to rapturous statements about human love and eroticism. Husbands and wives take turns praising their love for one another, their longing for the other and praising the beauty of the loved one. A progressive action can hardly be discerned, rather it is about the changeful interplay of desire and fulfillment, of separation and union.

It is noticeable that the female speaker speaks much more often than her male counterpart. Structurally, too, her utterances are exposed, since the Song of Songs begins with her song of longing (Hld 1, 2–4) and ends with the invitation to her lover to hurry to her (Hld 8:14). In terms of content, the speaker also presents herself as noticeably active, strong and powerful. The prominent position of women in the Song of Songs was established by Ginsberg as early as 1857 and described by the feminist theologian Brenner as open " gynocentrism ".

Characteristic for the Song of Songs is an ambiguous, extremely pictorial language. The beauty of the beloved (e.g. eyes like doves, Hld 4,1  EU ) or the act of love (e.g. going into the garden, 4,12-5,1) are sung about in metaphors, which in anchored in the language and culture of Israel, Egypt and the Middle East.

Design tradition

“Your lips are like a scarlet string, and your mouth is lovely. Your temples are behind your veil like a slice of a pomegranate "4.3 - The. Pomegranate in the Song of Solomon 4,3.13; 6,7.11; 7.13-14; 8.2
"I am a flower in Sharon and a lily in the valley." 2.1 - The dune-funnel narcissus could be the flower mentioned in the Song of Solomon 2.1, which is known under names like " Rose of Sharon " in poetry and Music has been mentioned frequently with reference to the Song of Songs.

In ancient times, the biblical King Solomon was accepted as the author of the Song of Songs. This is probably due to the fact that Solomon himself is mentioned in the text (1.5; 3.7ff .; 8.11f.) And Solomon was considered to be the author of 1005 poems ( 1 Kings 5.12  EU ). This attribution of the author was also adopted from the Middle Ages and has followers to this day.

According to the allegorical method of interpretation, in antiquity and the Middle Ages, Jews and Christians used the erotic approach the poem is about as a description of the love between God and his chosen people (in Judaism) or between Christ and the Church as the bride of Christ (in Christianity ) interpreted.


The Talmud provides the oldest message . In the Mishnah tract on Jadayim (III-5) it is reported that the Jamnia Synod (c. 90 CE) had to decide whether the Song of Songs should be included in the canon of the scriptures. The Hillel's school recognized the claim to canonicality despite Shammai's contradiction . This interpretation was particularly resolutely pursued within Judaism by Rabbi Akiba in the 2nd century. He interpreted the song as a representation of the relationship between God and the people of Israel. As a result, he strongly condemned a secular, erotic interpretation and a corresponding singing of the song. Akiba's interpretation was dominant for centuries. The Targum for the Song of Songs between 700 and 900 AD and later medieval rabbis such as Saadia Gaon , Schlomo ben Jizchak or Abraham ibn Esra interpreted it in a similar way .


Franz Pforr , Maria and Sulamith (1811), Georg Schäfer Collection , Schweinfurt

The line of interpretation was continued by Christianity . The bridegroom was mostly Christ and the bride the church (as with Hippolytus ), the individual soul ( Origen ) or the Virgin Mary ( Ambrosius of Milan ).

Since Sulamith was also often seen as a representation of Mary in the Christian Middle Ages, the Song of Songs played a prominent role in the Marian piety of Christian mystics . In the fine arts it is often the Hortus conclusus that alludes to the Song of Songs as a motif and is one of the Marian symbols . The motif refers to the text passage A closed garden is my sister bride, a closed garden, a sealed spring ( Hld 4,12  EU ).


This interpretation has been increasingly on the defensive in the course of the Enlightenment since the 18th century. From the beginning of the 18th to the 19th century the “Dramatic Hypothesis” can be traced, which for the first time focused on the change of scene and speaker between female and male voices, dialogues between both and choral we-pieces. However, the exact delimitation of the individual elements always remained controversial. While Georg Wachter saw the Song of Songs in 1722 as a scenic singspiel in five acts, Heinrich Ewald interpreted it as a shepherd's play in 1826.

The Jewish religious philosopher Franz Rosenzweig defended the Song of Solomon against traditional religious interpretations and against a purely secular understanding, as it had prevailed since Herder and Goethe : “Not although, but because the Song of Songs is' real ', that is to say: a' was a worldly 'love song, precisely because of that it was a real' spiritual 'song of God's love for man. Man loves because and how God loves. His human soul is the soul awakened and loved by God. "

While the Song of Songs was often commented on and used as a sermon material in the Middle Ages - Bernhard von Clairvaux is an outstanding example of this - it hardly plays a role in today's piety practice in the major churches.



  • Carl Gebhardt : The song of songs. Transmission with introduction and commentary. Philo Verlag, Berlin 1931.
  • Ludger Schwienhorst-Schönberger (Ed.): The Song of Songs in the Conflict of Interpretations (Austrian Biblical Studies 47) Frankfurt a. a. 2017, ISBN 3-631-68123-2 .
  • Henning Graf Reventlow , Peter Kuhn , Ulrich Köpf and Jean M. Vincent: Hoheslied I. Old Testament II. Interpretation history in Judaism III. Interpretation history in Christianity III / 1. Old church to Herder III / 2. Interpretation history of the 19th century. In: Theologische Realenzyklopädie 15, 1986, pp. 499-514 (introduction and literature).
  • Othmar Keel : Art. Song of Songs. In: New Bible Lexicon. Vol. 2, Zurich, Düsseldorf 1995, ISBN 3-545-23075-9 , Sp. 183-191.
  • Marion Gardei, Andreas Nachama (Ed.): Das Hohelied Translation: Max A. Klausner, German, Hebrew, including Jewish and Christian interpretative history, drawings: Astrid Saalmann. Verlag Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-95565-180-0 .
  • Ernst Koch: Observations on dealing with the Song of Songs in theology and piety of Lutheranism in the 16th to 18th centuries. In: ders .: Studies on the theology and piety history of Lutheranism in the 16th to 18th centuries. Edited by Matthias Richter and Johann Anselm Steiger , Waltrop 2005, 285–306.


  • Christian D. Ginsberg: The Song of Songs and Coheleth (commonly called the Book of Ecclesiastes). Translated from the Original Hebrew, with a Commentary, Historical and Critical (preface by Sheldon H. Blank), New York 1970 (1857).
  • Marvin H. Pope: Song of Songs. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. The Anchor Bible 7C. Doubleday, New York 1980, ISBN 0-385-00569-5 .
  • Gerhard Maier : The Song of Songs. Wuppertal Study Bible, AT 29. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1991, ISBN 3-417-25219-9 .
  • Othmar Keel : "Your eyes are deaf." On the metaphor of the song. Stuttgart Bible Studies 114/115, ISBN 3-460-04141-2 .
  • Othmar Keel: The Song of Songs . Zurich Bible Commentaries February 18, through. Ed. Theol. Verl., Zurich 1992, ISBN 3-290-14739-8 .
  • Hans-Peter Müller, Otto Kaiser , James Alfred Loader: The Song of Songs, Lamentations, The Book of Ester . The Old Testament German 16.2. 4., completely reworked. Edition Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 1992, ISBN 3-525-51237-6 .
  • Walter Bühlmann: The Song of Songs . New Stuttgart Commentary 15th Ed. Kath. Bibelwerk, Stuttgart 1997, ISBN 3-460-07151-6 .
  • Levi ben Gershom (Gersonides): Commentary on Song of Songs . Yale Judaica Series 28. Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn. 1998, ISBN 0-300-07147-7 .
  • Athalya Brenner , Carole R. Fontaine (Eds.): The Song of Songs. A Feminist Companion to the Bible. The Feminist Companion to the Bible Series 2/6. Academic Press, Sheffield 2000, ISBN 1-84127-052-0 .
  • Duana Garrett: Song of Songs. Word Biblical Commentary 23B. Nelson, Nashville 2004, ISBN 0-8499-0825-6 .
  • Yair Zakovitch: The Song of Songs . Herder's theological commentary on the Old Testament . Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau a. a. 2004, ISBN 3-451-26830-2 .
  • Richard S. Hess: Song of Songs. Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms. Baker Academic, Grand Rapids 2005, ISBN 0-8010-2712-8 .
  • Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum : The Song of Songs. A biblical concept of love. Christian Media Service, Hünfeld 2011, ISBN 978-3-939833-32-1 .

Individual studies

  • Athalya Brenner: The Song of Songs . Polyphony of love. In: Luise Schottroff, Marie-Theres Wacker (ed.): Compendium Feminist Biblical Interpretation. Gütersloh 1999, pp. 233–245.
  • Katharina Elliger , Herbert Haag : If he did kiss me ..., the song of love. 3. Edition. Benziger, Solothurn 2001, ISBN 3-545-34121-6 .
  • Mary Timothea Elliott: The Literary Unity of the Canticle. In: EHS. 23/371. Lang, Frankfurt am Main 1989, ISBN 3-631-42121-4 .
  • Jean Emmanuel de Ena: Sens et interprétations du Cantique des Cantiques. Sens textuel, sens directionnels et cadre du texte. Lectio divina 194. Ed. du Cerf, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-204-07295-8 .
  • Stefan Fischer: The Song of Solomon between poetry and story. In: Research on the Old Testament, 72nd Tübingen 2010.
  • Meik Gerhards: The Song of Songs. Studies on its literary form and theological significance. In: Works on the Bible and its history, 35. Leipzig 2010.
  • Anselm C. Hagedorn (Ed.): Perspectives on the Song of Songs = Perspektiven der Hoheliedausstellung. In: Supplements to the Journal for Old Testament Science . 346. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2005, ISBN 3-11-017632-7 .
  • Hans-Josef Heinevetter: "Come on, my dearest, your garden is calling you!" The Song of Songs as a programmatic composition. In: Athenäums Monographs Theologie. Bonn Biblical Contributions, 69th Athenaeum, Frankfurt am Main 1988, ISBN 3-610-09120-7 .
  • Steven C. Horine: Interpretive Images in the Song of Songs. From Wedding Chariots to Bridal Chambers. In: Studies in the Humanities, 55. Lang, New York a. a. 2001, ISBN 0-8204-5156-8 .
  • Jacques Nieuviarts et al. a. (Ed.): Les nouvelles voies de l'exégèse. En lisant le Cantique des cantiques. XIXe congrès de l'Association Catholique pour l'Étude de la Bible (Toulouse, September 2001) . Collection “Lectio divina” 190. Éd. du Cerf, Paris 2002, ISBN 2-204-06932-9 .
  • George M. Schwab: The Song of Songs' cautionary message concerning human love. Studies in Biblical Literature 41. P. Lang, New York a. a. 2002, ISBN 0-8204-5566-0 .
  • Jürg Stenzl : The sound of the Song of Songs - settings of the “Canticum canticorum” from the 9th to the end of the 15th century. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8260-3694-1 .
  • PWT Stoop-van Paridon: The Song of Songs. A Philological Analysis of the Hebrew book = Šīr haš-Šīrīm . Ancient Near Eastern Studies Supplement 17. Peeters, Louvain 2005, ISBN 90-429-1638-9 .
  • Hudson Taylor : Union and Communion or Thoughts on the Song of Solomon. Cosimo Classics 2007 English original, free download from Project Gutenberg , ISBN 1-60206-422-9 , German translation: Hoheslied. 4th edition Verlagbuchhandlung, Bethel 1951.
  • Yvonne Sophie Thöne: love between city and field. Space and gender in the Song of Songs. Exegesis in our time 22nd LIT-Verlag, Berlin / Münster 2012, ISBN 978-3-643-11633-8 .
  • Eva von Tiele-Winckler : Christian nobility. Reflections on Song of Songs 4, 6-5, 1. Changed edition. Bad Wildbad 2008, ISBN 978-3-939075-25-7 .
  • Christoph Uehlinger: The Song of Songs - Anthology or Dramaturgy? In: World and Environment of the Bible. Vol. 6, H. 21, 2001, pp. 34-39.

Impact history

  • The Targum of Canticles . Transl., With a critical introd., Apparatus, and notes by Philip S. Alexander. The Aramaic Bible 17A. Liturgical Pr., Collegeville, Minn. 2003, ISBN 0-8146-5453-3 .
  • Mark W. Elliott: The Song of Songs and Christology in the Early Church. 381-451 . Studies and texts on antiquity and Christianity 7. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2000, ISBN 3-16-147394-9 .
  • Gregory of Nyssa : The sealed source. Interpretation of the Song of Songs . Transcribed in abbreviation and introduced by Hans Urs von Balthasar . 3rd, after d. critical output through Ed. Johannes-Verl., Einsiedeln 1984, ISBN 3-265-10283-1 .
  • Ann W. Astell: The Song of Songs in the Middle Ages . Cornell Univ. Press, Ithaca 1990, ISBN 0-8014-2347-3 .
  • Urban Küsters: The locked garden. Folk-language interpretation of the Song of Songs and monastic way of life in the 12th century . Studia humaniora, Düsseldorf studies on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance 2. Droste, Düsseldorf 1985, ISBN 3-7700-0802-2 .
  • Max Engammare: Qu'il me baise des baisiers de sa bouche. Le cantique des cantiques à la renaissance. Etude et bibliographie . Travaux d'humanisme et renaissance 277.Droz, Genève 1993.
  • Noam Flinker: The Song of Songs in English Renaissance Literature. Kisses of Their Mouths . Studies in Renaissance Literature 3. Brewer, Cambridge a. a. 2000, ISBN 0-85991-586-7 .
  • Burkhard Dohm: Poetic Alchemy. Opening to sensuality in the poetry of the Song of Songs and the Bible, from Protestant baroque mysticism to Pietism . Studies on German literature 154. Niemeyer, Tübingen 2000, ISBN 3-484-18154-0 .
  • John D. Baildam: Paradisal Love. Johann Gottfried Herder and the Song of Songs . JSOTSup 298. Acad. Press, Sheffield 1999, ISBN 1-84127-022-9 .
  • Klaus Mayer: How beautiful is your love. Pictures of the Song of Songs in the National Museum of the Biblical Embassy Marc Chagall in Nice . 4th edition. Echter Verl., Würzburg 1990, ISBN 3-429-00857-3 .


  • Eros and Myth. The Song of Solomon . From the Heb. transl., ext. and brought into dialogue form by Egbert Richter-Ushanas. 4th, revised. Edition Richter, Bremen 2004, ISBN 3-924942-38-2 .
  • Helmut Gollwitzer : The great song of love . 8th edition. Kaiser pocket books 8. Kaiser, Munich 1991, ISBN 3-459-01675-2 .
  • Charles Haddon Spurgeon : The Secret of the Most Beautiful Love. Sermons on the Song of Solomon . TELOS books 2357. Johannis, Lahr 1992, ISBN 3-501-01154-7 .
  • Norbert Buske with contributions by Beate Bugenhagen and Matthias Schneider : Pious baroque symbols in color and music. Das Hohe Lied - Representations at the patronage gallery in Steinhagen (with a CD) . Thomas Helms Verlag , Schwerin 2013, ISBN 978-3-940207-84-5 .
  • Elisabeth Baumann / Kerstin Offermann, Between you and me. Exegesis, Bible studies and suggestions for the Song of Songs of Love. Ecumenical Bible Week 2017/18. Workbook ( Texts on Bible 33 ). With DVD. For the 80th Bible Week 2017/18 ed. of the Missionary Services Working Group in the EKD , the German Bible Society and the Catholic Biblical Works , Neukirchener Verlagsgesellschaft , Neukirchen 2017, ISBN 978-3-7615-6414-1 .
  • The high song in German love songs. Selection and afterword by Gerhard Amanshauser, with 15 drawings by Anton Lehmden. Sefer-Verlag, Vienna 1929 (64 pages; contains, among other things, the post-poetry by Johann Wolfgang Goethe: Das Hohe Lied Salomons as well as poems on the Hohen Lied by Johann Gottfried Herder, Matthias Claudius, Clemens Brentano, Heinrich Heine, Else Lasker-Schüler and others).

Web links

Commons : Song of Solomon  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Biblia Germanica. Luther translation 1545, final edition. Facsimile hand edition based on the original print in the possession of the German Bible Society; single column. With numerous initials and woodcuts by the master MS, which Luther himself helped design. German Bible Society, 1967, ISBN 3-438-05501-5 .
  2. Othmar Keel: The Song of Songs. Zurich Bible Commentaries February 18, through. Ed. Theol. Verl., Zurich 1992, p. 9.
  3. Christoph Uehlinger: The Song of Songs - Anthology or Dramaturgy? In: World and Environment of the Bible. Vol. 6, H. 21, 2001, pp. 34-39.
  4. ^ Michael V. Fox: The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs. University of Wisconsin Press, Madison Wis. 1985, ISBN 0-299-10094-4 .
  5. Othmar Keel: The Song of Songs. In: Zurich Bible Commentaries. 18. 2., throughout Edition. Theol. Verlag, Zurich 1992, p. 12 f.
  6. Emanuel Tov: 106-108. Introduction to 4QCant a-c . In: Eugene Ulrich u. a. (Ed.): Qumran Cave. 4, XI. Psalms to Chronicles. Brill, Leiden 2000, ISBN 0-19-826943-9 (Discoveries in the Judaean Desert XVI).
  7. ^ SN Kramer: The Biblical Song of Songs and Sumerian Love Songs. In: Expedition. 5/1, 1962, pp. 28-29.
  8. ^ Samuel Noah Kramer : Cuneiform Studies and the History of Literature: The Sumerian Sacred Marriage Texts. In: Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 107/6, Cuneiform Studies and the History of Civilization 1963, p. 489; Moshe Weinfeld : Feminine Features in the Imagery of God in Israel: The Sacred Marriage and the Sacred Tree. In: Vetus Testamentum. 46/4, p. 525.
  9. ^ Christian D. Ginsberg, Christian D .: The Song of Songs and Coheleth (commonly called the Book of Ecclesiastes). Translated from the Original Hebrew, with a Commentary, Historical and Critical (preface by Sheldon H. Blank), New York 1970 (1857), pp. 12-20.
  10. Athalya Brenner: The Song of Songs . Polyphony of love. In: Luise Schottroff, Marie-Theres Wacker (ed.): Compendium Feminist Biblical Interpretation. Gütersloh 1999, pp. 233–245, here p. 238.
  11. ^ Tremper Longman: Song of Songs. 2001, p. 20 ff.
  12. ^ Marvin H. Pope: Song of Songs. Doubleday, 1977, p. 89.
  13. Otto Kaiser: Introduction to the Old Testament - An introduction to their results and problems. 2nd Edition. Gütersloh publishing house Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh 1970, p. 286.
  14. Otto Kaiser: Introduction to the Old Testament - An introduction to their results and problems. 2nd Edition. Gütersloh publishing house Gerd Mohn, Gütersloh 1970, p. 187.
  15. Georg Wachter: The high song of Solomon. 1722.
  16. Star of Redemption. Frankfurt am Main 1988, p. 222.