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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Song of Solomon Overview



Introduction to Song of Solomon

1. “The Song of Songs which is Solomon‘s,” so designated by its most ancient (Hebrew) title, holds a unique position in sacred literature. It may be said to be the enigma of the Old Testament, just as the Apocalypse (Revelation) is of the New Testament.

The Song was regarded as an integral and venerated portion of the Hebrew canon before the commencement of the Christian era, and passed as such into the canon of the primitive church. It has been always held both by the church and by the synagogue in the highest and most reverent estimation.

One or two allusions have been found in the Song to at least one older canonical book (Genesis); and a few references to it occur in books of later composition (Proverbs, Isaiah, Hosea); while two or three doubtful allusions have been thought to be made to it by writers of the New Testament. These references are sufficient to establish the recognition of the Song as a part of Holy Scripture by some among the canonical writers.

2. The difficulties of the interpreter of the Song are unusually great. One lies in the special form of composition. The Song of Songs might be called a lyrico-dramatic poem, but it is not a drama in the sense that it was either intended or adapted for representation.

Though the Song is a well-organized poetical whole, its unity is made up of various parts and sections, of which several have so much independence and individuality as to have been not inaptly called Idylls, i. e. short poetic pieces of various forms containing each a distinct subject of representation. These shorter pieces are all, however, so closely linked by a common purpose, as to form, when viewed in their right connection, constituent parts of a larger and complete poem.

The earliest Jewish expositor of the Song as a whole, the author of the so-called Chaldee Targum, divides it in his historico-prophetic interpretation into two nearly equal halves at Psalm 136:23, and then raising along with itself a sanctified humanity to the heavenly places Ephesians 2:6, is finally awaiting there an invitation from the mystic Bride to return to earth once more and seal the union for eternity Revelation 22:17.


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Song of Solomon:4 Overview". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.

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