I. Title, Authorship

I. Title, Authorship

The Hebrew title Shîr Hashîrîm in 1:1 means “Ode of Odes” or “Song of Songs.” This superlative form implies it is a song of utmost excellence or of the most exquisite composition. Because Solomon is named in v. 1, it is also known as the Song of Solomon. “Canticles” is the Latin Vulgate form of “Songs.”

Solomon's name appears seven times in the book (1:1, 5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12). The ascription in 1:1, like those of the Pss, is probably not part of the inspired text. 1Ki 4:29-34 states that Solomon wrote 1,005 songs and that he had great wisdom and intimate knowledge of plants and animals. There are more than twenty varieties of plants and fifteen species of animals named in the book. Numerous references to precious metals and stones are also made. Tradition of long-standing, based on such internal evidence, assigns the book to Solomon.

Some critics say, “It would be difficult to find a man in all history who more conspicuously illustrated the exact opposite [of the poem's] praise of the love and fidelity of a country maiden and her lover [with] the simplicity of their rustic life” (Gray and Adams, 3:31).

Other scholars object to assigning authorship to Solomon primarily because in a book of only 117 verses nearly 50 words are found nowhere else in the OT. Also, some linguistic forms seem to suggest Greek or Persian influence of a later era (Kinlaw, 643). There is inadequate evidence, however, to deny Solomonic authorship. But perhaps it is best left open to debate. Additional material to be considered when assigning authorship follows.