The Song of Solomon -
Song of Solomon (Song of Songs or Canticles) is a collection of love poems exchanged between a woman and a man, with occasional remarks by one or more choruses. Throughout, the lovers delight in the tastes, smells, and feel of each other, which they describe in a cascade of comparisons with the world of nature and of urban life. The identity of these lovers has been explained in various ways. (1) Solomonic: Because of references to this famous king of Israel, the poems have been read as describing a wedding between Solomon and a shepherdess. (2) Allegorical: By the turn of the era, some Jewish interpreters read the Song as an allegory * of God's love for Israel, despite (or perhaps because of) the book's lack of mention of God. Similarly, the Christian tradition of reading the poems as expressing Christ's * love for the church, or seeing “the bride” as the Virgin Mary, has a long history. (3) Sacred marriage: One school of Hebrew Bible interpretation * draws parallels between these images and ancient Near Eastern descriptions of the sacred union between a god and goddess. (4) Love poetry: Contemporary scholars tend to accept the book as secular love poetry. The extended description of the lover's body, called a “wasf,” and the use of “bride” as a term of endearment are analogous to Egyptian, Arabic, and Syrian love poems.
The allegorical reading explains the book's placement in the Jewish canon * : It appears with the five “megilloth” (or festival scrolls * ) and is read at Passover. * In the Christian canon, Songs appears in the poetical books. Various linguistic features suggest that it was written much later than the tenth century, perhaps in the Persian period; * the references to Solomon are best read as allusions to the great lover of ancient Israel (1 Kings 11.1–3 ) rather than as a key to the book's authorship. The book bears a strong women's perspective: The woman speaks more often than the man; the woman's sexuality is celebrated rather than controlled; and mothers rather than fathers are mentioned throughout. Some scholars cite this perspective as evidence that the book was written by or for women.