“Know, my brother, that you will find great differences in interpretation of the Song of Songs. It resembles locks to which the keys have been lost.” (Rabbi Saadia).
The book of Song of Songs, where the Three Oaths are found, is the smallest book of the Bible. It contains only 117 verses, but it is the most puzzling book of all. No other book in the Scriptures involves so many controversies and variety of interpretations than Solomon’s Song of Songs. Despite this, Rabbi Akiba said, “Heaven forbid that any man in Israel ever disputed that the Song of Songs is holy.” (The Mishnah Yadayim 3:5).
Let us examine what King Solomon, being the author and Biblical prophet, has said about Three Oaths.
Somewhere around 957 BCE, Solomon built the first Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In his dedication speech at the opening ceremony in front of the “assembled elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chiefs of the fathers of the children of Israel,” Solomon foresaw with Divine Inspiration, that as a result of their sin, the Israelites would be punished by God and sent into exile to the lands of their enemies. It was the most ideal time for Solomon to make the people of Israel swear to abide by the ‘prohibition’ Oaths.
Instead, Solomon prayed to God in plain literal, not metaphorical or allegorical, language, as follows: “When Thy people Israel be smitten down before the enemy, because they have sinned against Thee, and shall turn again to Thee, and confess Thy name, and pray, and make supplication unto Thee; Then hear Thou in heaven, and forgive the sin of Thy people Israel, and bring them again unto the land which Thou gavest unto their fathers” (I Kings 8:1, 33-34).
Solomon did not mention any prohibitions or oaths in his divinely inspired speech, nothing concerning rules and conditions of the exile. Not even a hint of how long the exile would be. There is no indication as to whether Israel should end the exile on its own or wait for the Messiah. There is nothing that says whether they should immigrate to the Promised Land ‘en masse’ or like ‘a door’. The Israelites are not told not to rebel against the nations. It also does not say whether or not the nations of the world were adjured not to oppress Israel too much. Solomon said nothing of the Three Oaths along these lines!
In the time of Solomon there were no Jews. The people of his united kingdom were called Israelites. After division, defeat, and exile they become different nations, living in all corners of the Earth, speaking different languages, bearing different names, having different histories, cultures, traditions, and religions. This fact is very well documented in the Hebrew Bible, where the God’s prophets have made careful distinction between the Jewish people of Judah and Israelite people of Joseph. There is no name of Judah mentioned in the Three Oaths.
So what is the source of the Oaths?
The Rabbis of the Talmud, Amoraim of the Land of Israel and Babylon, together wrote the Talmud in the time period of 300-600 BCE. In order to prevent tragic disasters such as that of the first great Jewish revolt, the Bar Kokhba Rebellion, and the negative fallout of the appearances of false messiahs who claim they come to save the Jewish people and Judaism, the rabbis came up with these Three (prohibition) Oaths, which they wrongly applied to the Jews in exile, instead of Israel. But the Ten Tribes of Israel in exile are not the Jews.
The Torah and Tanakh are explicitly against any prohibition for Judah or Israel to return to the Holy Land. Quite the opposite: God asks, supplicates, and pleads with them to return to Him; as a loving father, He even begs the children of Israel to repent and return to “the Lord your God, for He is graceful and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. Turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping and with mourning” (Joel 2:12-13).
Here is the message to the Jewish people: “Awake, awake, put on your strength, O Zion! Shake off your dust; rise up, O Jerusalem; free yourself from the chains of the bondage from your neck, O captive daughter of Zion” (Isaiah 52:1-2).
And to Israel God says: “Return, O Virgin Israel, return to your towns. How long will you wander, O unfaithful daughter?” (Jeremiah 31:21-22).
Scripture is full of such messages. Where do we see prohibitions in these verses?
The Three Prohibition Oaths cannot be applied to the Jewish people because their presence in the Promised Land and in Jerusalem at the End Times was predicted and blessed by Almighty God in many instances of Scripture (Lamentations 4:22; Ezekiel 37:12; Zephaniah 2:7; Hosea 6:11; Joel 3:1).