Song of Songs 5:16

Another text Muslims often use to ”prove” Muhammad is to be found in the Bible is Song of Songs 5:16, with the emphasis on the Hebrew word machamadim (מַחֲּמַדִּים). To begin with, the overall message of the chapter has nothing to do with a last/final prophet. It narrates a woman searching for her beloved in Jerusalem. She explains for a group of women how to recognise him, in a highly poetic way.

My beloved is radiant and ruddy, distinguished among ten thousand. His head is the finest gold; his locks are wavy, black as a raven. His eyes are like doves beside streams of water, bathed in milk, sitting beside a full pool. His cheeks are like beds of spices, mounds of sweet-smelling herbs. His lips are lilies, dripping liquid myrrh. His arms are rods of gold, set with jewels. His body is polished ivory, bedecked with sapphires. His legs are alabaster columns, set on bases of gold. His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as the cedars. His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable [machamadim]. This is my beloved and this is my friend, o daughters of Jerusalem. (5:10-16)

Among all the features the woman tell them, one is that her beloved is desirable. And it is the Hebrew word behind ”desirable”, machamadim, that Muslims use to ”prove” Muhammads name is in the Old Testament. They take this word totally out of its context in order to make their point. As already mentioned, the text says nothing about a last/final prophet. But there are more to say about machamadim. Let us therefore study it in detail.

His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether desirable [machamadim]. This is my beloved and this is my friend, o daughters of Jerusalem.

Muslims say machamadim is the name Muhammad with the plural ending –im. The famous Muslim apologist Zakir Naik pronounce it ”muhammadim”, despite the fact that the Hebrew word מַחֲּמַדִּים cannot be pronounced ”muhammadim”. I have studied Biblical Hebrew at the university and know very well how to pronounce Hebrew letters and words. To pronounce מַחֲּמַדִּים as ”muhammadim” is nothing but a lie. It should be ”machamadim” and nothing else.

The meaning of machamadim has nothing to do with a name. It means ”desirable”, ”lovely”, ”pleasant” and ”precious”. It consists of the word machmad with the plural ending –im suffixed to the word. Muslims claim that this plural ending is a so-called ”plural of majesty” added to the name Muhammad to emphasise his honorable name. But personal names in the Bible does not have plural endings, and that enough should be evidence that machamadim has nothing to do with Muhammad. 

But Muslims argue that the Hebrew word for God, elohim, has the same plural ending. It is true that elohim has the same plural ending as machamadim, but elohim is not a name but a title. It can be treated as a name, but it is nevertheless a title. That’s why it can have the plural ending. We can make a telling comparison. The most powerful name in the universe is Yahweh (יהוה). Yes, you read it correctly. The most powerful name is not Allah but Yahweh. It occurs almost 5 800 times in the Hebrew Bible. But not even ones does it occur with a plural ending. Why not, if this name is much, much, much mightier and holier than the name Muhammad? Is it reasonable to think that Muhammads name has a plural of majesty, while the name Yahweh has not? Of course not! To think otherwise is absurd.

Let’s continue our in-depth study. There is another way of proving that machamadim has nothing to do with Muhammad. It’s understandable that people like Zakir Naik only quotes from Song of Songs 5:16. Because if he would quote from other places in the Bible where this same word occurs, his argument would collapse.  

Our holy and beautiful house (the Temple in Jerusalem), where our fathers praised You, has been burned by fire; And all our precious [machamadim] things have become a ruin. (Isaiah 64:11)

According to this text, all the machamadim has become a ruin. Shall we agree that it talks about Muhammad, that he as become a ruin? I assume not, because the text does not talk about him. It’s the same with Song of Songs 5:16. It does not talk about Muhammad. To try to find him there is only a wishful undertaking. Nothing more!

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