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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 night I looked for the one my soul loves, I looked for him but could not find him.

[The expression]: On my bed during the nights (Song 3:1) [designates] the sleep of the soul in the body, paralleled to the night because of its thickness, darkness and the absence of light or transparency. [The expression]: I looked for him but could not find him (Song 3:1) [means that] as long as she is incapable of relinquishing the body and what is related to it, its desires and the disparity in its needs the soul will not be able to see the intellect. Indeed, [body and intellect] are two opposite realities that cannot meet.

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