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The personae in the Song of Songs (1)

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04 Religious and philosophical literature and poetry

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

03 Religious festivals, cults, rituals and practices

sacred marriage
No period specified
Old Testament
Sumerian poetry

The personae of the Song of Songs are the girl or the woman, the Shulammite, the boy or the man, the girls of Jerusalem (= chorus), the king (the boy/Solomon), and the girl’s brothers. When comparing the Song of Songs with the Sumerian love poems, it is apparent that the two have several things in common. As in the Sumerian and Egyptian love poems, the two lovers courting each other call each other “sister” and “brother.” The situation of the lovers is the same as in the Dumuzi-Inanna Songs, where the girl still lives in her mother’s house. Yet the two lovers do get together for an intimate rendezvous. Furthermore, the girl/woman is in fact the “Perfect One” (Hebrew haššulammit), associating her with a perfect woman, such as Inanna/Ištar. As in the Sumerian love poems, the woman’s lover is a shepherd. He is also a king, or at least compared to one, e.g.: “The king brought me to his chambers” (1:4). It would seem natural, if the tradition of using the term “king” for the male lover came from a culture where the real king was a character in the love poetry - as in Mesopotamia. It is possible that it later lost its original meaning, and came to be a mere term for the boy. Furthermore, the boy of the Song, called the king, is also a shepherd, hence creating another parallel with the Mesopotamian love poems. The Mesopotamian ruler had the epithet “good/righteous shepherd.”

Source (list of abbreviations) (source links will open in a new browser window)
Song of Songs


Lapinkivi 2004, 96-97Lapinkivi, Pirjo. The Sumerian Sacred Marriage in the Light of Comparative Evidence. State Archives of Assyria Studies 15. Helsinki: The Neo-Assyrian Text Coprus Project 2004.

Pirjo Lapinkivi

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