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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 8




Would that you were my brother, Nursing at my mother’s breasts, For then, finding you in the marketplace I would kiss you, Without anyone scorning me.

[The expression]: Would that you were my brother (Song 8:1) [means that] “would that you were always abiding with me, with your providence that never leave me.” [The expression]: … nursing at my mother’s breasts (Song 8:1) [means] that “my perceptions are linked to knowing you.” [The expression]: … for then if I find you in the marketplace I would kiss you (Song 8:1) [means] “that your emanation is always reaching me.” [The expression]: … without anyone scorning me (Song 8:1) [implies] “that I don’t care about those who scorn me and the assembly of nations who believe that I am diminished because of my union with you and the manifestation of a loving relationship between us instead of the previous humiliation and ignominy. I wouldn’t care about the past.”


I lead you, introduce you to my mother’s house, She may teach me.1 I will give you perfumed wine to drink, The juice of my pomegranate.

[The expression]: I lead you, introduce you to my mother’s house, she may teach me (Song 8:2) [means] “that your light will be over the prophets, there will be the emanation of your light over them, while they instruct me and show me how to implement your ← 183 | 184...

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