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Old Jewish Commentaries on «The Song of Songs» II

The Two Commentaries of Tanchum Yerushalmi- Text and translation


Joseph Alobaidi

This book contains two commentaries on The Song of Songs by Tanchum Yerushalmi (c. 1220-1291), one of the best representatives of rational exegesis in the Middle Eastern rabbinical school of thought. His in depth knowledge of the Bible as well as his acquaintance with Greek philosophy, added to familiarity with his own Jewish tradition allowed him to write rich biblical commentaries. In so doing he showed himself as a worthy disciple of Saadia Gaon, Hai and Ibn Janah whom he mentions in his commentary on The Song of Songs. The extent of his knowledge can easily be seen in both his philological and philosophical commentaries on one of the most intriguing books of the Bible.
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Chapter 3




On my bed at nights I looked for the one my soul loves, I looked for him but could not find him.

[The meaning is]: “I could never find my lover when I looked [for him] while in the obscurity of exile and the veil of sin. Every time I started to look for him, to inquire, or to mention him I was beaten, humiliated and paid a price.”


Now I will go up to the city, In the market place and the broad ways, Looking for the one whom my soul loves.

I looked for him but could not find him.1


The guards who go round the city ran into me Did you see the one whom my soul loves?

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