Song of Songs 6:13a (ESV) reads:
Return, return, O Shulammite,
return, return, that we may look upon you.
Most translations have some version of “the Shulammite [woman/maiden],” (a near transliteration of the Hebrew1,2), understanding it as an alternative for the gentilic name “Shunammite” used to refer to inhabitants of Shunem (which has alternatively been called Shulem). The NET has a very different interpretation of השולמית– there it is understood as a substantival use of an adjective from the root שלמ “to be perfect”3, with a gentilic suffix, thus:
Turn, turn, O Perfect One!
Turn, turn, that I may stare at you!
- Is a gentilic suffix normally used on non- place names (a la NET)?4
- Is it reasonable to posit that the beloved may indeed be from Shunem/Shulem?
- Which reading is more likely?
1. In BHS, it is 7:1.
2. The LXX (6:12 here, just to mix it up) also reads Σουλαμῖτις.
3. Pulling this from the NET notes. I don’t really understand this derivation; feel free to explain if you agree this is likely.
4. This is purely my ignorance and curiosity – not at all intending to challenge them on this point.