Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Song of Songs: Inscription, Part 1

1. The Inscription. Why is the book called, not שיר, the Song, butשיר השירים, the Song of Song? The conjectures of the Hebrews, Athanasius, and others.



This little book is inscribed, שִׁ֥יר הַשִּׁירִ֖ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר לִשְׁלֹמֹֽה׃, the Song of Songs, which is Solomon’s, or concerning Solomon. Now, it is called שִׁיר, a song, an oration elegant with respect to words, moving with respect to substance, and with respect to sound rhythmic and bound by meter. But, that it is not called simply שִׁיר, a song, but שִׁיר הַשִּׁירִים, the Song of Songs, the Hebrews thinks to have been done, so that it might be implied that it is not just any sort of song, but המשבח המעלה שבשירים, the most commendable, surpassing all others, the most excellent: or that it is שיר כפול ומכפל, a song multiplied. Saint Athanasius in his Synopsi says that it was called the Song of Songs διὰ τὸ μετὰ τὰ ἐκ τούτου μηδὲν ἕτερον προσδοκᾶν, because no other is to be expected after those that are here sung. That is, while the other Prophets foretell the coming of the Christ, in this Song he sets forth that Christ is sung as if already present, and that it is consigned to Him as an Epithalamium on marriage, so that afterwards no further Song is necessary. Which is perhaps more ingenious than solid. It is well known that Hyperbole is not uncommon, both in sacred and foreign Writers. Now, this Song is the most excellent and praiseworthy, not only with respect to it art, which is unknown today, as of almost all the rest of the Hebrew songs: but especiall in the fruitfulness of its meanings, and the abundance of its mysteries. And indeed, it is certainly μυστηριωδέστατον, filled to capacity with mysteries, if anything else: so that Saint Augustine said that nothing but enimas are contained in it.

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