Chapter-I

 

There are so many predictions in the Bible regarding Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) that refer to him in unequivocal terms. But it is not a common practice to predict about some future prophet by name. It is almost a rare phenomenon that some coming prophet be foretold in the Bible by name. The prediction regarding Prophet Muhammad (pbAh) in King Solomon’s ‘Song of Songs’ in the Bible is an example of such rare phenomenon. It is being reproduced below:

(10) My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand.

(11) His head is as the most fine gold, his locks are bushy, and black as a raven.

(12) His eyes are as the eyes of doves by the rivers of waters, washed with milk, and fitly set.

(13) His cheeks are as a bed of spices, as sweet flowers: his lips like lilies, dropping sweet smelling myrrh.

(14) His hands are as gold rings set with the beryl: his belly is as bright ivory overlaid with sapphires.

(15) His legs are as pillars of marble, set upon sockets of fine gold: his countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars.

(16) His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.[1]

 

 

A Compact Picture of the Passage

By

The Expositor’s Bible:

He is both fair and ruddy, the chiefest among 10,000. For this is what he is like: a head splendid as finest gold; massive, curling, raven locks; eyes like doves by water brooks, and looking as though they had been washed in milk― an elaborate image in which the soft iris and the sparking light on the pupils suggest the picture of the gentle birds brooding on the bank of a flashing stream, and the pure healthy eyeballs a thought of the whiteness of milk; cheeks fragrant as spices; lips red as lilies (The blood red anemones[2]); A body like ivory, with blue veins as of sapphire; legs like marble columns on golden basis. The aspect of him is like great Lebanon, splendid as the far-famed cedars; and when he opens his lips his voiceis ravishingly[3]sweet. Yes, he is altogether lover. Such is her beloved, her dearest one[4]

 

 

A Compact Picture of the Passage

by

Ronald A. Knox:

 

My sweetheart? Among ten thousand you shall know him; so white is the colour of his fashioning, and so red. His head dazzles like the purest gold; the hair on it lies close as the high palm-branches, raven hair. His eyes are gentle as doves by the brook-side, only these are bathed in milk, eyes full of repose[5]. Cheeks trim as a spice-bed of the perfumer’s own tending; drench lilies in the finest myrrh, and you shall know the fragrance of his lips. Hands well rounded; gold set with jacynth is not workmanship so delicate; body of ivory and veins of sapphire blue; legs straight as marble columns, that stand in sockets of gold. Erect his stature as Lebanon itself, noble as Lebanon cedar. Oh, that sweet utterance! Nothing of him but awakes desire. Such is my true love, maidens of Jerusalem; such is the companion I have lost.[6]

 

 


 

 

Authorship of the Song

 

As to the authorship of this lyric idyll[7], there are different opinions. However, some authorities categorically ascribe it to King Solomon. Here are some points based on the objective study of the works of the Biblical scholars. (The authorities on whose basis these conclusions have been deducted are also being afforded thereafter, but they are only for those readers who want to tally these points with the original data):

1.   It is generally acknowledged that basically the author of the ‘Song of Songs’ is King and Prophet Solomon.

2.   However, the entire work cannot be ascribed to him.

3.   Solomon composed the ‘Songs’ in the middle of the tenth centuryBC, but its final redaction was accomplished in the post-exilic period, probably during the 3rd-4th centuriesBC.

4.   Obscene and profane material has freely been interpolated into it by some redactors.

5.   Due to its obscene and indecent material it was felt desirable by some authorities that its study should be banned for young people.

6.   There is no structural unity in it, and it can be treated ‘as a string of independent lyrics’.

Hereunder are given some excerpts from which the above points have been deduced, and, which assert that actually Solomon was the author of a number of these songs:

The Nelson Study Bible asserts:

The author of the Song of Solomon is Solomon, the son of David and the third king of Israel. He is named as the author and his name appears seven times in the book (i:1,5; iii:7,9, 11; viii:11,12). Even so, some have argued that the references to Solomon may be only a stylistic device and the author may have been from a later period. The arguments for this are inconclusive. But the fact that Solomon was known for his wisdom and poetry (see I Kin. iv:29-34) partially substantiates his authorship of this book. (….). Ironically because of its explicit language, ancient and modern Jewish sages forbade men to read the book before they were thirty (and presumably kept women from reading it at all). [8]

Similar views have been expressed by Kenneth D. BOA. Ph.D. in the ‘Introduction to the Song’ in the Open Bible:

Solomonic authorship is rejected by critics who claim it is a later collection of songs. Many take 1:1 to mean “which is about or concerning Solomon.” But the internal evidence of the book strongly favors the traditional position that Solomon is its author. Solomon is specifically mentioned seven times(…), and he is identified as the groom. There is evidence of royal luxury and rich imported goods (e.g. 3:6-11). The king by this time also had sixty queens and eighty concubines (6:8). Solomon’s harem at its fullest extent reached seven hundred queens and three hundred concubines (1Kin. 11:3).

1Kings 4:32,33 says that Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs and composed 1,005 songs and had intimate knowledge of the plant and animal world. This greatest of his songs alludes to twenty-one species of plants and fifteen species of animals. It cites geographical locations in the north and in the south, indicating that they were still one kingdom. For example, 6:4 mentions both Tirzah[9] and Jerusalem, the northern and southern capitals. (…), but Solomon was its author, probably early in his reign, about 965 B.C. There is a problem regarding how a man with a harem of140 women (6:8) could extol the love of the Shulamite as though she were his only bride. (…). This book was also written before Solomon plunged into gross immorality and idolatry. ‘For it was so, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God’ (1Kin. 11:4).[10]

The New Jerusalem Bible has treated the theme in the following manner:

That Solomon was a writer of songs, Hebrew tradition was aware, 1K 5:12; for this reason ‘the greatest of all songs’ was attributed to him (hence the title, Sg 1:1); (...). People have found it surprising that a book that makes no mention of God and whose vocabulary is so passionate should figure in sacred canon. The doubts in Jewish circles of the first century AD were, however, settled by an appeal to tradition. On these same grounds the Christian Church has always accepted the Song as part of holy scripture. (....). The inspired and canonical status of the Song leads these commentators to suppose that it must be celebrating something other than profane love. (….). The Song proclaims the lawfulness and exalts the value of human love; and the subject is not merely profane,(...). We have no right to set a limit to God’s inspiration. (….), the dating of the book becomes more difficult to establish. Some scholars assign it to a date as early as the reign of Solomon, but the Aramaic features of the language, and the borrowing of one word from Persian, 4:13, and of another from Greek, 3:9, indicate a date after the Exile[11], in the fifth or fourth centuries BC. The place of composition was certainly Palestine.[12]

The NIV Study Bible has also addressed the theme briefly in its introduction to the ‘Song of Songs’. It asserts:

To date the Song in the tenth centuryB.C. during Solomon’s reign is not impossible. In fact, mention of Tirzah and Jerusalem in one breath (6:4) has been used to prove a date prior to King Omri (885-874BC[13]; see 1Ki 16:23-24), though the reason for Tirzah’s mention is not clear. On the other hand, many have appealed to the language of the Song as proof of a much later date, but on present evidence the linguistic data are ambiguous.[14]

Smith’s Dic. of the Bible asserts:

It was probably written by Solomon about B.C. 1012.[15]

John T. Bunn has tried to explain the theme in a more scholarly manner. He writes:

The muteness of the book on matters of Israelite religious tradition is quite striking.(….). Internal references to Solomon (1:1,5; 3:7-9,11; 8:11-12), together with the statement in 1Kings 4:32, were deemed authoritative enough to ascribe the work to him. A question did arise, however, as to when Solomon composed the book. (...). Thus the date of writing would have been shortly before 961B.C. (….). Although many of the poetic fragments predated by hundreds of years the time of editing, the presence within the book of Aramaic, Persian, and Greek language influence indicates a late date for its finalized form. Generally a date within the span of the third century B.C. is assigned to the composition as it now stands.[16]

Walter F. Adeney sees no structural unity in it:

There are indications that it is a continuous poem; and yet it is characterized by startling kaleidoscopic changes that seem to break it up into incongruous fragments. If it is a single work the various sections of it succeed one another in the most abrupt manner, without any connecting links or explanatory clauses. The simplest way out of the difficulty presented by the many curious turns and changes of the poem is to deny it any structural unity, and treat it as a string of independent lyrics.[17]

Sierd Woudstra, Th.D. pastor, Calvin Christian Reformed Church, Ottawa, Canada has asserted in ‘The Wycliffe Bible Commentary’ that Solomon was its author. He says:

Although the first verse of chapter 1 can also be read: ‘The Song of Songs which is about or concerning Solomon,’ the traditional view has been to regard Solomon as the author of the Song. Since the contents of the book is [sic] fully in harmony with the great gifts of wisdom which we know Solomon possessed (1Kgs 4:32,33), there is no sufficient ground to deviate from this historic position.[18]

W. J. Cameron Prof. of NT Language and Literature, Free Church College, Edinburgh asserts:

The title may mean either that the Song is composed by Solomon or that it is about him. Tradition uniformly favours the former interpretation. Some modern scholars, however, have maintained that the large number of foreign words used in the poem would not occur in the literature of Israel before the post-exilic period. Others think, with Driver, that the widespread contacts of Israel with foreign nations during the reign of Solomon would sufficiently account for the presence of these words in the book. If this view be accepted, and if it is assumed that there are only two principal characters in the Song, there does not appear to be any substantial reason for setting aside the traditional view of the authorship.[19]

John A Balchin, Minister of First Presbyterian Church, Papakura, New Zealand has adopted a balanced approach. He observes:

The presence of some later words indicates either a date after Solomon’s time or that the book had its final redaction, though not its original composition, in a later period.[20]

M. Timothea Elliot, R.M.S., U.S.A. writes:

(...), it is esteemed as one of the most unusual and beautiful books of the Bible. (...). Rabbi Akiba, for example, toward the end of the first century remarked, ‘All the world is not worth the day that the Song of Songs was given to Israel. All the writings are holy, but the Song of Songs is the holy of holies’. Another rabbi of this period exaggeratingly commented, ‘If God had not given the Torah to Israel, the Song of Song would be sufficient to govern the universe.’ [21]

The Annotated Paragraph Bible has justified its having been written by Solomon. Here are a few excerpts:

The title also agrees with all ancient writers on the subject in ascribing this poem to Solomon [stress added]; and this too is corroborated by internal evidence. (...). All this is just what might naturally be expected if Solomon were the author.[22]

From the above excerpts it is clear that the ‘Song of Songs’ was originally written in the tenth century BC by King Solomon, who was admittedly a poet, a writer, and a wise and intelligent scholar. Its final edition was prepared in about fourth century BC. During this process some interpolations, corruptions, and obscene material entered into it. Due to this obscenity it was advised that woman and young people should not be allowed to read it. Obviously, this obscene material could not have been written by the King and Prophet Solomon.

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