Shir Hashir­im: A Mod­ern Com­men­tary on the Song of Songs

Leonard S. Kravitz, Ker­ry M. Olitzky
  • Review
By – July 16, 2012

Shir Hashir­im, the Song of Songs, is one of the most beau­ti­ful books in the Tanakh. The lyri­cal expres­sion of erot­ic images invites inter­pre­ta­tion on sev­er­al lev­els. Two young lovers in a beau­ti­ful set­ting may sim­ply be a young cou­ple in love. They may also rep­re­sent the rela­tion­ship between God and the Jew­ish peo­ple. This new trans­la­tion and com­men­tary by two Reform rab­bis allows read­ers to explore this ancient text using a mod­ern lens. 

The book has eight chap­ters, one for each chap­ter of Shir Hashir­im. Using the Tar­gum, a fifth-cen­tu­ry Ara­ma­ic trans­la­tion and inter­pre­ta­tion of the Hebrew text, and com­men­taries by Rashi, Abra­ham ibn Ezra, and Ger­son­ides, the authors trans­late the Hebrew text and ana­lyze it, verse by verse. They pro­vide con­text with com­men­tary about the imagery used in the pas­sages. Glean­ings, brief drashot by oth­er schol­ars, appear at the end of each chap­ter. This small vol­ume will enhance the read­ing of the Song of Songs by pro­vid­ing fresh insight. It is a valu­able tool for text study. Biblio.

Bar­bara M. Bibel is a librar­i­an at the Oak­land Pub­lic Library in Oak­land, CA; and at Con­gre­ga­tion Netiv­ot Shalom, Berke­ley, CA.

Discussion Questions