(Song 4:9) Does this passage support incest? (cf. 4:10, 5:1)

CLAIM: Solomon writes, “You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride” (Song 4:10). Did Solomon have a romance with his sister?

RESPONSE: In the ancient Near East, it was common to refer to a person as your brother or sister. Kinlaw writes, “This is not uncommon in ancient Near Eastern love poetry as a love epithet.”[1] Murphy writes that “sister” was “a term frequently used of the beloved in Egyptian love poetry.”[2] For instance, in a Ugaritic poem, Anat seduces Aqhat. She says, “Hear, O hero Aqhat, you are my brother and I your sister” (Aqhat 18 1:24). Moreover, in the Apocryphal books, a wife was often referred to as the husband’s “sister” (Esth. 15:9; Tob. 5:20; 7:16).


[1] Kinlaw, D. F. Song of Songs. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Vol. 5). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House. 1991. 1229.

[2] Murphy, R. E. The Song of Songs: a commentary on the Book of Canticles or the Song of Songs. (S. D. McBride, Ed.). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press. 1990. 160.