• Dirk van der Merwe



The woman in Song of Songs seems to be the main character in dialogue with a lover and friends. Over many centuries several hypotheses have appeared about the epistemological questions concerning the identity and character of this woman as well as the interpretation of her dialogue with other characters in the Song. The unencumbered, rich and vibrant metaphoric text of Song of Songs describes the woman as a most beautiful and dynamic character. This research intends not to become involved in these debates but only to attempt to investigate in a coherent way the following topics, “A literary interpretation and some general remarksâ€, “The identity of the womanâ€, “The character of the womanâ€, “The woman in different relationships†and finally “The function of the woman in the rhetoric of the authorâ€.


Metrics Loading ...


Brenner, A (ed.) 1993. A feminist companion to the Song of Songs. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.

_______ 1993. On gendering texts: female and male voices in the Hebrew Bible. Leiden: Brill.

______ 1993a. Women Poets and Authors, in Brenner 1993:86–97.

______ 1993b. To see is to assume: Whose love is celebrated in the Song of Songs? Biblical Interpretation 1:265–284. DOI:

Brown, F, Driver, S R & Briggs, C A 1977. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English lexicon (electronic ed.). Oak Harbor: Logos Research Systems.

Carr, D M 2000a. Ancient sexuality and divine eros: rereading the Bible through the lens of the Song of Songs, Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 54:1–18.

_______ 2000b. Gender and the shaping of desire in the Song of Songs and its interpretation, Journal of Biblical Literature 119:233–48. DOI:

Davidson, R M 1989. Theology of sexuality in the Song of Songs: return to Eden, Andrews University Seminary Studies 27:1–19.

DeClaissé-Walford, N L 2008. An introduction to the Song of Songs, Review and Expositor 105:389–402. DOI:

Dobbs-Allsopp, F W 2005. The delight of beauty and Song of Songs 4:1–7, Interpretation July:260–277. DOI:

Ewald, G H A 1826. Das Hohelied Salomos übersetzt mit Einleitung, Anmerkungen und linem Anhang über den Prediger. Available: [Accessed 2014/05/09.]

Exum, J C 1973. A literary and structural analysis of the Song of Songs, Zeitschrift fur die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft 85:47–79. DOI:

_______ 2005. Song of Songs: A commentary. Old Testament Library. Louisville: Westminster

John Knox Press.

Fields, W W 1980. Early and medieval Jewish interpretation of the Song of Songs, Grace Theological Journal 1:221–231.

Fox, M V 1983. Love, passion, and perception in Israelite and Egyptian love poetry, Journal of Biblical Literature 102:210–228. DOI:

Garrett, D A 1993. Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. The New American Commentary Vol. 14. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Gollwitzer, H 1979. Song of love: a biblical understanding of sex. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Harding, K 2008. “I sought him but did not find himâ€: The elusive lover in the Song of Songs, Biblical Interpretation 16:43–59. DOI:

Landy, F 1980. Beauty and the enigma: an inquiry into some interrelated episodes of the Song of Songs, JSOT 17:55–106 DOI:

_______ 1983. Paradoxes of paradise: identity and difference in the Song of Songs. Sheffield: Almond Press.

Linnemeyer, D [n.d.]. Song of Songs structural analysis. Available: Song_of_Songs_paper.pdf. [Accessed 2016/01/10.]

Longman, T 2001. Song of Songs. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.

Meyers, C L 1986. Gender imagery in the Song of Songs, Hebrew Annual Review 10:209–223.

Murphy, R E 1990. The Song of Songs: a commentary on the book of Canticles or the Song of Songs. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Ndoga, S S & Viviers, H 2000. Is the woman in the Song of Songs really that free? HTS Theological Studies 56:1286–1305. DOI:

Ogden, G S & Zogbo, L 1998. A handbook on the Song of Songs. UBS Handbook Series. New York: United Bible Societies.

Polaski, D C 1997. What will ye see in the Shulammite? Women, power or penopticism in the Song of Songs, Biblical Interpretation 5/1:64–81. DOI:

Pope, M H 1977. Song of Songs. Anchor Bible. New York: Doubleday. DOI:

_______ 1995. Song of Songs. New translation with an introduction and commentary. New York: Random House.

Rabin, C 1973. The Song of Songs and Tamil love poetry, TBL 89:27–37.

Robbins, V K 1996. Exploring the texture of texts: a guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation. Valley-Forge: Trinity Press.

Robinson, A B 2004. Singing of sex: Reading the Song of Songs, Christian Century Jan 2004:12.

Sparks, K L 2008. The Song of Songs: Wisdom for young Jewish women, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 70:277–299.

Tanner, J P 1997a. The history of interpretation of the Song of Songs, Bibliotheca Sacra 154:23–46.

_______ 1997b. The message of the Song of Songs, Bibliotheca Sacra 154:142–61.

Van Dijk-Hemmes, F 1993. Love songs and songs of harlots, in Brenner 1993:71–82.

Vinatieri, T 2014. Sexual allusions and symbols in the Song of Songs. Available:

[Accessed 2014//05/13.]




How to Cite

van der Merwe, Dirk. 2016. “THE WOMAN IN SONG OF SONGS”. Journal for Semitics 25 (2):572-94.



Back Isssues