Song of Solomon 5:16
But perhaps the best example to illustrate the difficulty in exchanging one word for another is found in the Song of Solomon, chapter 5, verse 16. In this passage Muslims claim that the Hebrew word machmad (“altogether lovely”) can be translated “praise” or “Ahmad.” Following is the text of the passage as translated in the Bible (NIV):
Song of Solomon 5:16: “His mouth is sweetness itself; he is altogether lovely. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
Song of Solomon is a poetic love story between the Beloved and her Lover. It is a piece that explores the beauty of a marriage relationship between a king and his wife.
Muslims believe that the adjectival clause “altogether lovely” can be changed to a proper noun, “Muhammad.” The text, they state, should then read, when translated into English:
“His mouth is sweetness itself; he is Muhammad. This is my lover, this my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”
This rendering, however, begs a number of difficult questions according to the context of the entire book.
- Who are the daughters of Jerusalem? Did Muhammad ever court one of his many wives in Jerusalem?
- If this is Muhammad, which of his wives is speaking? Was Muhammad ever married to a dark woman he wooed from Lebanon?
- Did Muhammad ever claim kingship?
What, then, is this prophecy saying? The stressed words in the text above are the English renderings of the Hebrew word, machmad. Strong’s concordance defines machmad as: desire, desirable thing, a pleasant thing.
So, can machmad signify Muhammad? Wise men allow that when one verse is in doubt it is justified to explain one passage of the Bible by another. The word machmad appears another twelve times in the Old Testament. Since Muslims are so intent on finding the Arabic name of Muhammad in the Hebrew word machmad, it is important that they remain consistent. Therefore, we have printed three of the twelve prophetic verses below and leave it to you to ascertain whether they fit. (Note: we have been consistent in now translating this word as the long-neglected “proper noun” which Muslims claim it to be.)
- 1 Kings 20:6
“Yet I will send my servants to thee tomorrow about this time, and they shall search thy house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, [that] whatever is Muhammad in thy eyes, they shall take [it] in their hand, and carry [it] away.”
- Lamentations 1:11
“All her people sigh, they seek bread; they have given their Muhammad things for food to relieve the soul: see, O LORD, and consider; for I am become vile.”
- Ezekiel 24:21
“Speak to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will profane my sanctuary, the excellence of your strength, the Muhammad of your eyes, and that which your soul pitieth; and your sons and your daughters whom ye have left shall fall by the sword.”
If this mutilation of Scripture seems to you ridiculous, it is meant to be as it shows the quality of the theory behind such an idea. But don’t just take our word for it. Look up the other nine references which employ machmad and see for yourself whether Muhammad would fit. They are: 2 Chronicles 36:19, Isaiah 64:11, Lamentations 1:10, Lamentations 2:4, Ezekiel 24:16, Ezekiel 24:25, Hosea 9:6, Hosea 9:16 and Joel 3:5.
When taken to its logical conclusion it makes a mockery of Hebrew grammar. Why should an adjectival clause be translated a proper noun? Machmad already has a proper noun counterpart, ‘Chemdan’ (or ‘Hemdan’, the eldest son of Dishon of Anah the Horite). If machmad should have been written as a proper noun the author would have written Chemdan.
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