🔼The name Shulammite: Summary
- From the verb שלם (shalem), to be or make whole or complete.
🔼The name Shulammite in the Bible
There's only one Shulammite in the Bible, and she is the hallowed Bride of the Song of Solomon (Song of Solomon 6:13). Technically, the name Shulammite looks like it describes a female inhabitant of a place called Shulam, but no such place is mentioned in the Bible, and that is curious to say the least. In rapid succession, the Groom compares her and her qualities to the highlights of the Solomonic empire:
- Tirzah, which was so attractive that Jeroboam moved his headquarters there, and the kings of Israel up to Omri ruled from it (Song of Solomon 6:4).
- Jerusalem, the splendid capital of Israel, which king Solomon turned into a world wonder (Song of Solomon 6:4).
- Gilead, the unofficial capital of the Transjordanian tribes, and vanguard against enemies approaching from the east. Its proverbial balm was known to heal nations (Song of Solomon 6:5).
- Heshbon, an ancient and annexed Moabite city with such a surplus of fresh water that its pools were renowned. One of Heshbon's gates was called Bath-rabbim; Daughter Of Multitudes (Song of Solomon 7:4).
- Lebanon, the white-capped mountains from which Solomon obtained the cedars with which he built the temple (Song of Solomon 7:4).
- Damascus, the splendid capital of Assyria (Song of Solomon 7:4).
- Carmel, the fertile mountain on the Mediterranean coast (Song of Solomon 7:5).
And in the midst of all this geographical praise the women to whom it is applied appears to be from Shulam; the boondocks.
The Song of Solomon is obviously fictive, and the author could have let the Bride come from anywhere. He could have called her hillbilly or downtown girl or something to that extent; he depicts her after all as a lowly vineyardist, even a forced laborer (Song of Solomon 1:6). Instead he has her originate in a possibly fictive town called Shulam. And that's probably because that name is derived from quite a telling word.
🔼Etymology of the name Shulammite
The name Shulam(mite) appears to be based on the familiar word שלום (shalom), meaning peace, which in turn is derived from the verb שלם (shalem), to be or make whole or complete:
The verb שלם (shalem) means to be or make whole or complete, and is also used to describe a righteous recompense or proper restitution (whether positive or not). The familiar noun שלום (shalom) means wholeness, completeness or peace.
Other derivatives are: noun שלם (shelem), peace offering; verb שלם (shalam), to be in a covenant of peace; adjective שלם (shalem), perfect, whole, complete, safe; noun שלם (shillem), recompense; nouns שלמן (shalmon), שלום (shillum), שלם (shillum) and שלמה (shilluma), reward or proper recompense.
For a meaning of the name Shulammite, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names proposes Complete.
All NOBSE Study Bible Name List has to say about the name Shulammite is that it denotes "a native of Shulam," but doesn't interpret Shulam.
BDB Theological Dictionary notes that Shulam isn't otherwise mentioned in the Bible and asserts that Shulammite is a text error and should really read שונמית (Shunammite; of which there are two mentioned in the Bible; both women). Here at Abarim Publications we see no reason to take that assumption serious.
Our take on the Shulammite is that she represents the unified people of a nation that had started out as a collective of laborers, which began to cooperate, and which thus was about to develop central rule by a just king and become prosperous.