-7

Following from a discussion on Christianity stack https://christianity.stackexchange.com/a/80248/47775 on this passage, I thought it prudent to get clarification from a Jewish perspective.

I would like clarification on a few points related to the below. The notes relate to my understanding, please correct if I am wrong.

Songs of songs 5:16

"Hikko Mamittakim we kullo Muhammadim Zehdoodeh wa Zehraee Bayna Jerusalem."

Q1) how are we to understand the word 'Muhammadim'?

Note: i) this is not a Hebrew word or rooted in a Hebrew word so cannot be translated - otherwise it will be grammatical incorrect.

ii) Hebrew had no vowels at the time, which were introduced 1000's of years later so can not use vowels to translate

Q2) "Maḥammadim" is NOT related to the Hebrew word "Mahmad" or rooted in חָמַד "Ch-m-d" (chamad) - as it would cause a linguistic/Semantic/Grammatical problem?

Q3) how are we to understand the 'im'?

Note: i) I understand 'im' is not to indicate a plural in essence and number but to signify majesty

Q4) Is ‘im’ in the following used in the same way as the above ("ElohIM", "EliakIM", "JehoiakIM")

Q5) Significance of 'ten thousand' (5:10 what does '...chiefest among ten thousand...')?

Any other information to help understand this passage.

3 Answers 3

10

this is not a Hebrew word or rooted in a Hebrew word so cannot be translated

That is nonsense, it is indeed a Hebrew word used throughout Tanakh in various constructs. See Hosea 9:6; 9:16, 1 Kings 20:6, Songs 5:16, Lamentations 1:10; 2:4, Joel 4:5, Isaiah 64:10, Chronicles 36:19, Ezekiel 24:16; 24:21; 24:25.

Hebrew had no vowels at the time, which were introduced 1000's of years later so can not use vowels to translate

Hebrew always had vowels, it did not always have a written notation system of vowels. This does not mean that Hebrew vowels did not exist. Many with a basic and rudimentary understanding of Hebrew would be able to read and understand the word מחמדים perfectly fine even where it is presented without written vowelization.

I understand 'im' is not to indicate a plural in essence and number but to signify majesty

This is incorrect. The word is simply presented in the plural intensive. Nothing suggests otherwise.

This is nothing other than very weak Islamic polemics trying to read Islam into Tanakh.

2
  • Many thanks for this - Yes Muslims make an argument on this passage - 'im' what about Elohim - would that not imply many Gods based on your rendering? Also, is the exact word 'Muhammadim' ever used anywhere else, if not would that be unusual / rare? Any expansion of your A would also assist. Feb 21 at 12:06
  • 1
    "'im' what about Elohim - would that not imply many Gods based on your rendering?" It depends on the context. " is the exact word 'Muhammadim' ever used anywhere else, if not would that be unusual" The root word is חמד - as pointed out above it is not unusual at all (used over 60 times in Tanakh). It is by no means a true hapax legomenon. Feb 21 at 14:56
3

this is not a Hebrew word

It is. Machmad מחמד means desirable

Yet I will send my servants unto thee to morrow about this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant (machmad) in thine eyes, they shall put it in their hand, and take it away (1 Kings 20:6)

He hath bent his bow like an enemy: he stood with his right hand as an adversary, and slew all that were pleasant (machamaddei) to the eye in the tabernacle of the daughter of Zion: he poured out his fury like fire (Lamentations 2:4)

Our holy and our beautiful house, where our fathers praised thee, is burned up with fire: and all our pleasant things (machamaddeinu) are laid waste (Isaiah 64:11)

The adversary hath spread out his hand upon all her pleasant things (machamaddeiha) : for she hath seen that the heathen entered into her sanctuary, whom thou didst command that they should not enter into thy congregation (Lamentations 1:10)

Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things (machamadday) (Joel 3:5)

Also the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, behold, I take away from you the** desire (machmad) **of your eyes with one stroke; yet you shall neither mourn nor weep, nor shall your tears run down (Ezekiel 24:15-16)

Speak unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellency of your strength, the desire (machmad) of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword (Ezekiel 24:21)

All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their pleasant things (machamaddeihem) for meat to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile (Lamentations 1:11)

Machmad מחמד is its singular. Machamaddim מחמדים is its plural. Plurals are made adding ים -im: ben (son) → banim (sons). Machamaddeinu is plural with the pronoun “nu” (our) at the end. When the pronoun attaches to the plural, "im" changes to "ei": banim (sons) → baneinu (our sons)

"Maḥammadim" is NOT related to the Hebrew word "Mahmad"

If it is its plural then how is it not related? That's like saying "men" is not related to "man"

It is intensive plural to make its meaning stronger, i.e. “very lovely”. We see another example of that in the same verse: chikko mamtaqqim (his mouth is most sweet). Chikko is singular, but mamtaqqim is plural, meaning “very sweet”. Another example of intensive plural:

ואהיה אצלו אמון ואהיה שעשעים יום יום משחקת לפניו בכל עת

Waehyeh etslo amon waehyeh shaashuim yom yom mesacheket lefanav bechol et

Then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Proverbs 8:30

לא יתנני השב רוחי כי ישבעני ממררים

Lo yitteneni hashev ruchi ki yasbiani mammerorim

He will not allow me to catch my breath, But fills me with bitterness Job 9:18

Significance of 'ten thousand' (5:10 what does '...chiefest among ten thousand...')?

Majority of translations don't use the word "chiefest", but "better" or "outstanding". The word Rebabah רבבה is often used for a very large number. 10,000 is אשר אלפים

The context implies that it is not a name. The verse says “wechullo machamaddim”. “We” means “and”. “Chull” means “all”, “whole”, “every” and “o” means “of him”, like in “chikko” (his mouth, chik - mouth, o - of him, his). So “wechullo” means “and all of him is”, not "and he is”. All its translations are like this:

His mouth is most sweet: yea, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem (King James Version)

His mouth is sweetness, and all of him is desirable. This is my beloved, this is my friend, young women of Jerusalem! (International Standart Version)

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is desirable in every way. Such, O women of Jerusalem, is my lover, my friend (New Living Translation)

His mouth is full of sweetness. And he is wholly desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, You daughters of Jerusalem (New American Standart Bible)

His mouth is sweetness itself; he is delightful in every way. Such is my lover, and such my friend, Daughters of Jerusalem! (New American Bible)

His mouth is very sweet; he is totally desirable. This is my beloved! This is my companion, O maidens of Jerusalem! (NET Bible)

His speech is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable. This is my beloved and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem (New Revised Standart Version)

Saying “all of him is Muhammad", "he is altogether Muhammad" isn't that correct. If there is a person who is wholly Muhammad, so there can be also people who are a little bit Muhammad, half Muhammad, mostly Muhammad etc. As a name it doesn't fit into this. “He is altogether lovely" or "all of him is desirable" makes more sense. It means that everything in this person is pleasant, there is nothing unpleasant in him

3
  • Many thanks for this very helpful - are you saying 'Muhammadim' is not in the text (not Hebrew word) & why (ie not the correct translation), is it not written like this in the text? apologise for ignorance of any obvious matters, not acquainted with Hebrew Feb 21 at 12:13
  • Not sure that I understood your question. In ancient hebrew vowels weren't written. Without diacritics, the hebrew word "mahmad" (מַחְמָד) and the name "Muhammad" (מֻחַמַּד) look exactly the same: מחמד Feb 21 at 14:08
  • just wanted to clarify מַחֲמַדִּ֑ים - which is in the passage - when I search it comes up as ma·ḥă·mad·dîm (lovely) - is this the correct translation of the Hebrew word or is this just the way its pronounced? Feb 22 at 14:30
1

EliakIM (Elyaqim) and JehoiakIM (Yehoyaqim) are not correct examples because the "im" there is not plural "im" like in elohim and mahamaddim. It is part of the verb "yaqim": https://biblehub.com/hebrew/yakim_6965.htm

thy God will raise up (yaqim) unto thee a Prophet (Deut.18:15)

the one will lift up (yaqim) his fellow (Ecclesiastes 4:10)

Elyaqim means "God sets up" https://biblehub.com/hebrew/471.htm

Yehoyaqim means "the LORD raises up" https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3079.htm

1
  • Welcome to MiYodeya Ayva and thanks for this first answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Mar 24 at 10:08

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .