THWARTED METAPHORS: COMPLICATING THE LANGUAGE OF DESIRE IN THE TARGUM OF THE SONG OF SONGS

in Journal for the Study of Judaism
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Abstract

Contrary to what might be expected, the allegorical interpretation of the Song of Songs set forth in the Targum of the Song of Songs does not consistently portray God and Israel as male lover and female beloved. Instead, the Targum presents a multiplicity of additional metaphors suggesting the intimacy between divine and human counterparts throughout their history together, including the affective relationships between male friends and scholarly colleagues, siblings, infant and nurse, father and son, gardener and plants, and farmer and animals. Ambivalence towards sexual love and marriage as appropriate theological metaphors, sensitivity to the rich symbolic language of the Song of Songs and other scriptural passages, and celebration of the primacy of Torah study with male colleagues in rabbinic culture all contribute to this diversification of imagery, which builds on the emotive intensity of the Song of Songs even as it complicates the language of desire.

THWARTED METAPHORS: COMPLICATING THE LANGUAGE OF DESIRE IN THE TARGUM OF THE SONG OF SONGS

in Journal for the Study of Judaism

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