The Jewish poet-prophets did not get involved in the military, or in love, but transposed the metaphors of love

Capernaum, ancient synagogue
Capernaum, ancient synagogue

from Ovid and other poets to the religious level. In Ovid’s poems the lover, the literary first-person narrator, laments the beloved woman’s unfaithfulness.

In the works of the Hebrew poet-prophets the Jewish God laments the unfaithfulness of his beloved people in the same images and verses; see Hez. 16 and 23.


Ovid and other poets of the Augustan period recommended the service of courtly love to replace military service or service to the state.


In several literary works, Ovid described how the young man who had no opportunity to serve his country, or who found this service distasteful, should devote himself to the service of courtly love, dedication to his lover. The poet also gave tips on how to go about this.

The young men of Judea and Galilee were in the same position as those in Rome: the period of peace under Augustus and his successors denied them a military career; the monarchy of Herod’s successors or Roman governorships prevented them from gaining the influential political posts that had previously been available in the small independent states.

Ovid’s alternative, the service of love, was also denied to the religious young men in Judea and Galilee.

However the Augustan poets not only suggested courtly love as an alternative occupation; they also spoke out against the social and religious conditions in Rome. And the Jewish poets discovered this option as a new field of activity.