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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 2



Let us go back to the first meaning concerning the rank of the soul in its involvement in the final part of her divine stages.1 She adjures those from lower ranks than hers not to force her and wake her from intellectual occupation, truthful delight and spiritual enjoyment. She said that from where she is, she cannot truthfully see her lover. Yet, she heard his voice, in spite of the fact he wakened in high mountains; in another words, the intellectual universe. After that, [he will wake] on high hills, incomparable to the mountains height, representing the astronomical universe. 2 Therefore, she said:


Here is the voice of my beloved coming, Leaping on the mountains, bounding on the hills.3

The mountains are higher than the hills and more majestic. The meaning of leaping and bouncing is close, as the meaning of mountains and hill is close. The Aramaic form would be: To leap ← 197 | 198 → with them over the ground, to jump with them.4 It concerns leap and bound. As to the jump, it is somewhat stronger than the leap.5


My lover resembles a gazelle or a young deer6 Here he is standing behind our wall Looking from the windows Observing from the lattice

[The word] Gazelle יבצ [in the expression]: My lover resembles a gazelle or a young deer (Song 2:9) has common elements with תואבצ [armies] as already mentioned, with the...

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