Muhammad mentioned by name in the Song of Solomon 5:16?
[Professor Lewis was asked to reply to this claim in a popular Muslim propaganda video (available, e.g., here) and gave permission to quote his informal email response on our website.]
The Muslim attempt to find “Muhammad” by name in the Song of Solomon 5:16 is a prime example of eisegesis, of reading something entirely out of context into a verse of the Bible.
The Song of Solomon contains beautiful and sensuous poetry expressing romantic love between a young man (a shepherd 1:7) and.a young woman (a shepherdess 1:8). A key theme is that marriage is a gift from God to be founded on commitment and loyalty.
The young lady is describing her husband’s body in 5:10-16. Is it likely that while enamored of her husband, she would suddenly speak of another man in verse 16?
Even if some Jewish pronunciations of one of the Hebrew words sounded something like “Muhammed,” that is irrelevant because it is not the sound, but the meaning of the word that is significant.
In that romantic context, the meaning is certainly not about a totally unknown man at the time the Song of Solomon was written (about 960 BC). Muhammad was born … later …! He was a man of whom the shepherdess could have had no knowledge whatsoever. And if she did, she would not have mentioned it while making love to another.
Muslims who allege that the Song mentions Muhammad would not want us to introduce into their writings something entirely foreign and then base major teaching of the Trinity upon that literary distortion. If they would not want Jews or Christians to do that with Muslim writings, they ought not do that to the Song of Solomon.
If Muslims need this type of fallacious argument, there must be serious concerns about whether Muhammad is a prophet, …
How much better for them to trust Jesus of Nazareth who fulfilled the roles of the final prophet, the one and only priest offering himself as the sacrifice for our sins and the king and Lord of all as he triumphed over sin, death and Satan and ascended to heaven where he was given all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18-20). See the many lines of evidence to support his claims, listed in Matthew 11:2-14; 1 Corinthians 15:1-7; Hebrews 2:1-4. Then read John 20:30-31.
May you be led by the Spirit of truth,
Dr. Gordon Lewis
Senior Professor of Philosophy and Theology
[Other articles discussing this oft-repeated Muslim claim can be found here.]