The JPS Bible Commentary: Song of Songs

The JPS Bible Commentary: Song of Songs

The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation
Commentary by Michael Fishbane

JPS Bible Commentary Series

400 pages


March 2015


$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Song of Songs is a wondrous collection of love lyrics nestled in the heart of the Hebrew Bible—songs of passion and praise between a young maiden and her beloved. It is religious lyric par excellence. But what is its true meaning? Is it an expression of human love and passion, pure and simple? A celebration of the covenant between God and Israel? Or something else?
The latest volume in the Jewish Publication Society’s highly acclaimed Bible Commentary series, Song of Songs provides a line-by-line commentary of the original Hebrew Bible text, complete with vocalization and cantillation marks, alongside the JPS English translation. Unique to this volume are four layers of commentary: the traditional PaRDeS of  peshat (literal meaning), derash (midrashic and religious-traditional sense), remez (allegorical level), and sod (mystical and spiritual intimations). Michael Fishbane skillfully draws from them all to reveal the extraordinary range of interpretations and ideas perceived in this beloved biblical book. A comprehensive introduction, extensive endnotes, a full bibliography (traditional and modern), and additional explanatory materials are included to enhance the reader’s appreciation of the work.
This original, comprehensive commentary on the Song of Songs interprets historical, critical, and traditional sources drawn from the ancient Near East, the entire spectrum of Jewish sources and commentaries, and modern critical studies.

Author Bio

Michael Fishbane is the Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago. He is the author and editor of numerous books, including The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot (2002); the National Jewish Book Award–winning Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel; and The Kiss of God: Spiritual and Mystical Death in Judaism. Fishbane received a lifetime achievement award for scholarship from the National Foundation of Jewish Culture and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


"This series is an indispensable resource, and Fishbane's new work is among the most rewarding entries."—Howard Freedman,

"This multilayered commentary makes for an absorbing, enriching and satisfying immersion in this endlessly fascinating Song."—Pinchas Roth, Jewish Book Council

"This most interactive book invites the reader to engage with its multiple levels of understanding and interpretation. It provides abundant material for both sermons and for study sessions."—David J. Zucker, CCAR Journal

“Michael Fishbane, one of the most penetrating Bible scholars of our time, has surpassed himself in this magnificent study of The Song of Songs, combining scholarly erudition, poetic sensibility, theological depth, and an unmatched mastery of the history of interpretation of this most difficult yet lyrical testimony of love. A masterpiece of scholarship!”—Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, emeritus chief rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth.

“Fishbane’s commentary on ‘the great songbook of the Jewish soul’ is a tour de force. There is nothing like it for opening up the inner depths of the biblical dialogue of love.”—Bernard McGinn, Naomi Shenstone Donnelley Professor emeritus, Divinity School, University of Chicago


Table of Contents


Abbreviations and Other Conventions

Introduction to the Commentary: Song of Songs

Songs of Love

The Language of Love

Other Love Language and Lyrics in Antiquity

Getting Love Language Right

The Many Poetics of Love in Jewish Tradition

The Song of Songs and Jewish Religious Practice

Reading the Commentary

Notes to the Introduction

Full Hebrew-English Text of the Song of Songs

The Commentary to the Song of Songs

Four Levels of Commentary: Peshat, Derash, Remez, and Sod

Chapter 1:1-17            First Words, First Encounters

Chapter 2:1-17            Love in Its Proper Time

Chapter 3:1-11            Inner Experience and Shared Joy

Chapters 4:1-5:1          The Beautiful Maiden, So Praised

Chapter 5:2-16            In Quest of the Marvelous Beloved

Chapter 6:4-10            The Maiden, Lovely and Luminous

Chapters 6:11-7:11      Love Overwhelming

Chapters 7:12-8:14      Longing, Love, and Loss

Notes to the Commentary

Excursus        A History of Jewish Interpretation in the Song of Songs

            Peshat: The Exegetical Revolution and Its Exemplars

            Derash: The Forms and Formulations of Covenant Love

Remez: Personal Love of God—With All One’s Heart, Soul and Mind

Sod: The Most Hidden Truth—Divinity and Divine Love in the Depths         

Notes to the Excursus


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