Heidegger's Bible Handbook: Song of Songs: Jewish Prohibition?

6. What sort of reader does the book require? Do the Hebrews rightly prohibit the young?


The Hebrews prohibit the young from reading this book. As a matter of fact, with Jerome testifying in his Præfatione in Ezekielem, unless one among them has reached the year of Priestly ministry, that is, the thirtieth year,[1] it is not permitted to him to read the beginning chapters of Genesis, the Song of Songs, or the beginning and ending of Ezekiel. But they would have acted more rightly, if they had attended to the fullness of virtue, rather than of years. Provided that the reader be fearing and loving God, abhorring obscene lusts, sober, temperate, teachable, humble, having his sense exercises in the Sacred Books,[2] and furnished with some sort of experience of the varied conditions of the Church, he will not be able from reading not to perceive the superabounding fruits of this most excellent Song. Certainly in vain, as one admonished Saint Bernard, does one approach to read a song of spiritual love, who does not himself love spiritually, because his frigid heart is not able to grasp the fiery eloquence. The language of love will be foreign to him that loves not.

[1] See Numbers 4. [2] See Hebrews 5:14.

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