A poetic book in the OT attributed to Solomon (which probably secured its place in the canon) but possibly written in the later part of the 6th cent. BCE. Other dates ranging over several centuries have been proposed. It is a series of love poems in dialogue form between a man and a woman who both use powerful and moving imagery. In 4: 5 to 5: 1 there is a clear allusion to the consummation of heterosexual love followed by a celebratory meal, and soon the man’s hasty exit. The conventional interpretation in Judaism and Christianity has been to regard the Song’s erotic vocabulary as allegorical: it is said to express the love of God for his people (Israel, or the Church) or between Christ, or his mother, and the individual. But there is a reversal of roles as between the prophetic books (e.g. Hosea) where Yahweh’s constant love is for his fickle bride, whereas in Song of Songs, the passionate and loyal female goes off in search of her lover when he has abandoned her. A valid liturgical usage must therefore reinterpret the allegory; and the book is not mentioned in the NT. However, as reinterpreted, the Song of Songs takes place not only as one of the Five Scrolls and used in the liturgy, at Passover, but also in Christian lectionaries, e.g. after Easter.
It should, however, be added that it has also been argued, perhaps to the disappointment of a modern reader, that the author of the Song himself wrote it as an allegory and not of human love at all. However, most probably the exuberant lyrical poems were indeed written to celebrate human love. There are beautiful and sensuous metaphors and similes to extol the bodies both of women (e.g. 7: 1–6) and of men (5: 10–16). Mountain goats and pomegranates and nectar; lilies and spices and sapphire, are among the images with which the lovers entice each other to the vineyards (7: 12).