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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.

  • It is worth mentioning the Ibn Ezra's interpretation that "Shulammite" is a shortening of "Jerusalemite". Accordingly, the text is about a beautiful maiden from Jerusalem. – Bach Apr 1 '19 at 18:09
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Is a gentilic suffix normally used on non- place names (a la NET)?

Yes, it's pretty common. So called gentilic suffixes in Hebrew indicate affiliation, not necessarily affiliation with a place.

Is it reasonable to posit that the beloved may indeed be from Shunem/Shulem?

It's definitely a possibility. One problem with the gentilic interpretation is that the gentilic suffix is added not to the common word Shalom, but to the word Shulam ("has been paid"). It can be derived from the root שלמ, but isn't in itself a common word.

Which reading is more likely?

Considering the context, I'd say that the likeliest scenario is that both readings are correct. The Song of Songs is full of double entandres, and in this case the word is a play on Shalom (Peace), Shulem (a place), Shulam (payment / completion), and Shlomo (Solomon).

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    I like this answer, as it goes to the core of understanding the Song of Solomon as more than a "love poem'. These 'double entendre's' are lost in English, but spell out the rich woven fabric of the author's description of God's relationship with Israel. – Tau Aug 23 '14 at 0:55

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