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Is Muhammad Referenced in the Tanach?
Shir Hashirim 5:16

© John of AllFaith*

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If people sought for the Truth as much as they seek for deception the world would be full of the knowledge of HaShem!
חכו ממתקים וכלו מחמדים זה דודי וזה רעי בנות ירושׁלם׃
                                 (Shir Hashirim 5:16)

"His palate is sweet, and he is altogether desirable; this is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem."
Kaplan translates the first part as:
“His mouth is most sweet, and he is altogether a delight.”

The Muslim taqiyya (i.e. Sharia approved deception) about the name of Muhammad appearing in this verse is baseless. Muhammad is never mentioned in the Tanach. Neither is Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth.

Hebrew language is consonant based using roots (usually 3 consonants). From these roots words are formed by adding prefixes and suffixes as well as inserting vowels, in the form of dots and dashes, below, above, or beside the consonants. The word מחמדים (root: HMD) is the issue here. This is properly pronounced "MaCHaMaDim" here and means desire, or delight, the subject comes something lovely. The slight confusion is that this is obviously a plural noun (hence the "dim" ending) but not a proper noun. This is probably because its a simile.

Pronouncing the word as "machmad" (as Strong's Concordance does) is incorrect according to most Jewish, Islamic, and secular scholars I am aware of. The "Ch" is a chet (as in Chanukah) so its not the standard soft "h" of Muhammad. Muslims therefore read this as "mahamad" instead of "machamad" and claim it is a biblical prophecy pointing to their prophet by name.

This is not the case. מחמד is not used as a proper name here. Were that the case we read that:

"His mouth is most sweet; yea, he is altogether (וכלו מחמדים) Muhammad.'
Such a reading makes no sense and no one, including the author, would have understood it that way since Muhammad was not born for a very long time after this. There is nothing prophetic about this passage.

Who is the subject being discussed, the "He" that is altogether desirable? Some Christians claim its Jesus. Rashi clarifies:

this is my beloved: This is the likeness of my beloved, and this is the likeness of my friend, and because of all these things I have become ill for his love. The allegorical meaning, symbolizing the Holy One, blessed be He."

Like Jews, Muslims are strict monotheists. They do not claim divinity for Muhammad like most Christians do for Jesus. When we read this chapter from the beginning it is clearly speaking of the Holy One, as Rashi says, using Solomon as the protagonist.

Of verse one Rashi says:

I have come to my garden: in the days of the dedication of the Temple.
And then in verse 2 he reveals the subject of this chapter. First the text:
"I sleep, but my heart is awake. Hark! My beloved is knocking: Open for me, my sister, my beloved, my dove, my perfect one, for my head is full of dew, my locks with the drops of the night."

Rashi: I sleep: When I was confident and tranquil in the First Temple, I despaired of worshipping the Holy One, blessed be He, as one who sleeps and slumbers.
but my heart is awake: This is the Holy One, blessed be He. So is this explained in the Pesikta (Rabbathi, ch. 15).
but my heart is awake: The Holy One, blessed be He, Who is (Ps. 73:26): “the Rock of my heart and my portion,” is awake to guard me and to favor me.
Hark! My beloved is knocking: He causes His Shechinah to rest upon the prophets and He admonishes through them by sending them betimes.
Open for me: Do not cause Me to withdraw from you.
HaShem is the subject who is the desired by our hearts. He is altogether a delight for all who awake and seek Him.

Such deceptive interpretations are not unique to Muslims. Some Christians claim that Jonah believed in Jesus by citing the following verse:

Jonah 2:9 (2:10) But I will sacrifice unto Thee with the voice of thanksgiving; that which I have vowed I will pay. Salvation [ישוע] is of the LORD....
The Hebrew for this can be read as "yeshua [is] of the Lord." Yeshua is the Hebrew form of both Joshua and Jesus. They claim a prophetic utterance is made here. However ישוע, yeshua just means "salvation" and mahamad just means "desirable."

Both of these are attempts to convince Jews and others to embrace their religions. The truth is, neither of these religious reformers are ever mentioned in the Tanach, the Hebrew Bible.

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* John of AllFaith © January 22, 2015 (last updated July 18, 2023)

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