The Song of Songs is one of the shortest books in the Bible, consisting of only 117 verses. According to Ashkenazi Jewish tradition, it is read in its entirety on Shabbat that falls during the intermediate days of Passover, or on the seventh or eighth day if it happens to be Shabbat. In the Sephardi community these verses are recited every Friday night.
The name of the book ("The Song of Songs of Solomon") comes from a superscription: "The song of songs, which is Solomon's" (which also constitutes the opening verse of the book).
"Song of songs" is a Hebrew grammatical construction denoting the superlative; that is, the title attests to the greatness of the song, similar to "the lord of lords", "The King of Kings" or "Holy of Holies" (used of the inner sanctuary of the Jerusalem temple). Rabbi Akiba declared, "Heaven forbid that any man in Israel ever disputed that Song of Songs is holy. For the whole world is not worth the day on which Song of Songs was given to Israel, for all the Writings are holy and Song of Songs is Holy of Holies." (Mishnah Yadayim 3:5). Similarly, Martin Luther called it Das Hohelied (the high song). This is still its name in German, Danish, Swedish and in Dutch.
Some people translate the first clause of the title as "which is of Solomon", which could be construed as meaning that the book is authored by Solomon. Rabbi Hiyya the Great said Solomon first wrote Book of Proverbs, then Song of Songs, and afterward Ecclesiastes. Rabbi Jonathan said Solomon first wrote Song of Songs, then Proverbs, then Ecclesiastes. The Talmud, however, states the order of the canon, listing Proverbs first, then Ecclesiastes, and then Song of Songs.....
The Jewish Sages themselves considered this a prophetic work that was written during the time of the Prophet Jeremiah by his colleagues, but these latter prophets then attributed their result to king Solomon, just as other writings of Jewish Scripture have been written by one prophet while being attributed to another, such as the Book of Hosea, Isaiah, and others.
Another approach to the authorship is that offered by Rashi, consistent with allegorical interpretations, rendering the narrator "him to whom peace belongs", i.e.: God. The Hebrew name of Solomon, Shlomo, can also be inflected to mean the constructed form of the noun shalom, peace, which through noun declension can be possessive. This means that the author is in fact Solomon, but he narrates the book from the perspective of God, who is conversing with the Jewish people, his allegorical and future bride.
Twenty first century linguistic work, including re-examining the dating of early Hebrew poetry, according to evidence of dialectic variation, has been applied to the Song by a number of scholars from different traditions. Noegel and Rendsburg, for example, conclude as follows.
The Song of Songs was written circa 900 BC, in the northern dialect of ancient Hebrew, by an author of unsurpassed literary ability, adept at the techniques of alliteration and polyprosopon, able to create the most sensual and erotic poetry of his day, and all the while incorporating into his work a subtext critical of the Judahite monarchy in general and Solomon in particular.
Song of Songs for the first time gives literary representation to the everyday post-exilic vernacular. It contains loan words from languages with which Hebrew had contact in post-exilic times, such as Persian, Greek, and Aramaic, and contains numerous items of vocabulary that are otherwise unknown in Biblical Hebrew but are known from Rabbinic Hebrew, and these expressions give the impression of being part of a living language and not the result of an archaic or artificial style. There are longer phrases that are typical of Rabbinic Hebrew in word order and are different from Biblical Hebrew.[13