The Commentary on the Song of Songs Attributed to R. Samuel ben Meïr (Rashbam)

The Commentary on the Song of Songs Attributed to R. Samuel ben Meïr (Rashbam)

By Hanna Liss

Medieval Jewish Studies, Vol. 1 (2007/8)

Abstract: This article deals with the commentary on the Song of Songs from MS Hamburg Heb 32 that is usually attributed to Rashbam. After discussing the question if this commentary can be traced back to Rashbam as the ‘author’, or whether it is a later compilation by a Rashbam-‘school’ (Ps.-Rashbam ), the author addresses the relationship between the exegesis ad litteram and the ‘allegorical’ explanations. In contrary to Rashi’s Commentary on the Song of Songs that offers allegorical explanations by using the term dûgmâ throughout, this commentary at all times introduces these interpretations with the expression dimyôn. One section, therefore, elucidates why Ps.-Rashbam relinquished the term dûgmâ and introduced his explanations with the term dimyôn. Finally, it is argued that Ps.-Rashbam insists on reading the Song of Songs as a profane love-poem comparable to the coeval chansons de femmes. Ps.-Rashbam’s characteristic exegetical technique comprises a description of a love-scene or ‘paraphrase’ of the text as an attempt to open up new fictional realms and to create an ‘old-new’ fictional narrative.

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