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Old Jewish Commentaries on «The Song of Songs» II

The Two Commentaries of Tanchum Yerushalmi- Text and translation

Series:

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 5

Extract

B

5:1

I came to my garden, o my sister, o bride, I have gathered my myrrh with my spice, I have eaten my honey with my sweet,1 I drank my wine with my milk. Eat, o my friends, Drink and become inebriated, o beloved.2

[The expression]: I came to my garden, o my sister, o bride (Song 5:1) [means] “the attention you have paid reached me and I came to your banquet, ate of its fruit and enjoyed its delights. Such is my wish for each one engaged in this way, loving such food, such wine and entering in a similar place: Eat, o my friends, drink and become inebriated, o beloved (Song 5:1).” Concerning his expression: I have gathered my myrrh (Song 5:1) we have already explained that myrrh is [a word] designating both: The musk and a fragrant plant. Here, it designates a plant, given his expression: … I have gathered (Song 5:1), since it is only the plan fruit that could be gathered. Another particular reason [for considering myrrh as plant] is that he appends it to spices: I have gathered my myrrh with my spice (Song 5:1). It may be added that it is a description of the spices, mentioned first. What he means is that perfume [from the spices] is equal in fragrance to the aroma from the musk. Another opinion: He applied [the verb] “to gather” to musk as a figure...

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