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Shir ha-Shirim X: Part Eight: Three Names

He was called three names, Yedidyah (II Samuel 12:25), Solomon, and Kohelet. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: These three, and Agur, Yakeh (Proverbs 30:1), Lemuel (31:1), and Ithiel (30:1), total seven, not three!


Rabbi Shmuel ben Nachman said: the names that properly belong to him are Yedidyah, Solomon, and Kohelet. He admits that these four additional names were applied to him, and therefore some lesson must be derived from them.

He was called Agur because he gathered (agar) words of Torah; “Son of Yakeh,” the son who spat it out (heki) for a time like a dish which is filled for a time and then emptied. So Solomon learned Torah for a time and then forgot it. “Lemuel,” because he spoke to God (nam le-el) with all his heart, saying, I can take in large numbers of wives, horses, and wealth, and yet not sin. “Ithiel,” God is with me (itti el) and I can. (Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1.1:10, part eight)

Solomon, who lived all aspects of his life in threes, had three basic names, each one representing a different stage of his life. However, everything that Solomon did reflected his entire being so that each of his major decisions represented a different aspect of his essence, hence, all the extra names.

It is interesting that the story of our enslavement in Egypt begins with names but quickly switches to a story in which no one is named! This story is one of a nation that has lost its sense of identity. The entire Book of Shemot is the story of the Children of Israel developing a strong sense of identity. This, of course, is one of the major themes of the Haggadah; our sense of identity as the Children of Israel, and as individuals. All that we do at the Seder should reflect our essence just as Solomon’s “extra” names reflected his.

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