What if Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs) Really Is an Allegory After All?

Shai Held

Until modern times, the dominant Jewish (and Christian) interpretation of Shir HaShirim was that it was an allegory whose real subject was the love between God and Israel. Modern readers have often been dismissive of this approach, seeing it as an overly pious attempt to domesticate an erotic poem about human love. But in recent years, a small group of scholars has begun to ask: might this well-loved text about love be an allegory after all? Or, better yet, might it be meant to be read both literally and allegorically?

What if Shir HaShirim (the Song of Songs) Really Is an Allegory After All?
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