From Creation to Redemption: Progressive Approaches to Midrash: Proceedings of the Midrash Section, Society of Biblical Literature, Volume 7 9781463207366, 1463207360

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From Creation to Redemption: Progressive Approaches to Midrash: Proceedings of the Midrash Section, Society of Biblical Literature, Volume 7
 9781463207366, 1463207360

Table of contents :
Table of Contents
Introduction
Pseudo-Philo and the Pharisees: A Look at the Prehistory of Rabbinic Judaism
Weeping at the Aqedah
The Aqedah in the Bavli: An Analysis of Sanhedrin 89b
‘Scripture Interprets Itself’ in Rashbam’s Torah Commentary
“At that Time Jerusalem shall be Called the Throne of the Lord” (Jer 3:17): Israel and the Nations in Genesis Rabbah 5, Leviticus Rabbah 10, and Pesiqta de-Rab Kahana 20
Midrash and Metalepsis in Genesis Rabbah: A Reappraisal of Rabbinic Atomism
Leah: The “Lost Matriarch” in Genesis Rabbah
The Contradictory Philosophical Lessons of the Parable of the Lame and the Blind Guards in Various Rabbinic Midrashim

Citation preview

From Creation to Redemption: Progressive Approaches to Midrash

Judaism in Context

20 Series Editors Rivka Ulmer Phillip Ackerman-Lieberman Elisheva Carlebach Jonathan Jacobs Naomi Koltun-Fromm W. David Nelson Lieve Teugels

Judaism in Context provides a platform for scholarly research focusing on the relations between Jews, Judaism, and Jewish culture and other peoples, religions, and cultures among whom Jews have lived and flourished, from ancient times through the 21st century. The series includes monographs as well as edited collections.

From Creation to Redemption: Progressive Approaches to Midrash

Proceedings of the Midrash Section, Society of Biblical Literature, Volume 7

Edited by

W. David Nelson Rivka Ulmer

gp 2017

Gorgias Press LLC, 954 River Road, Piscataway, NJ, 08854, USA www.gorgiaspress.com Copyright © 2017 by Gorgias Press LLC

All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, scanning or otherwise without the prior written permission of Gorgias Press LLC. ‫ܝ‬

1

2017

ISBN 978-1-4632-0736-6

ISSN 1935-6978

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data A Cataloging-in-Publication Record is available from the Library of Congress. Printed in the United States of America

TABLE OF CONTENTS Table of Contents ..................................................................................... v Introduction .............................................................................................. 1 Pseudo-Philo and the Pharisees: A Look at the Prehistory of Rabbinic Judaism ............................................................................. 5 ZEV FARBER Weeping at the Aqedah ......................................................................... 29 KRISTEN LINDBECK The Aqedah in the Bavli: An Analysis of Sanhedrin 89b ............... 39 MATTHEW HASS ‘Scripture Interprets Itself’ in Rashbam’s Torah Commentary ...... 57 JONATHAN JACOBS “At that Time Jerusalem shall be Called the Throne of the Lord” (Jer 3:17): Israel and the Nations in Genesis Rabbah 5, Leviticus Rabbah 10, and Pesiqta de-Rab Kahana 20 ....................................................................................... 85 JOHANNA ERZBERGER Midrash and Metalepsis in Genesis Rabbah: A Reappraisal of Rabbinic Atomism.......................................................................107 NICHOLAS J. SCHASER Leah: The “Lost Matriarch” in Genesis Rabbah ............................133 KATIE J. WOOLSTENHULME The Contradictory Philosophical Lessons of the Parable of the Lame and the Blind Guards in Various Rabbinic Midrashim .....................................................................................153 LIEVE M. TEUGELS

v

INTRODUCTION This volume contains select papers presented in the sessions of the Midrash Section at the 2015 and 2016 annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature. The contributors of these chapters not only define and demarcate, but also employ and apply, methodological approaches to the study of midrash that range from fundamental and foundational to forward-thinking and progressive, e.g., traditional critical-historical approaches, literary, topical and atomistic approaches, comparative and theological approaches, and feminist approaches. The result is a volume distinguished by its simultaneous attention to the scholarly past, present, and future of the ever-emerging and unfolding field of study devoted to the biblical interpretation of the earliest rabbis. Zev Farber presents a ground-breaking analysis of Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo (Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum in Latin), which retells biblical history from creation to the death of Saul. Biblical Antiquities is a truncated version of biblical history starting with Genesis and continuing into the reign of Saul. Nevertheless, the work is punctuated by expansions, both in genealogies as well as in narrative. As with most books authored by Jews from this period, we don’t know who wrote Biblical Antiquities, though it certainly was not Philo. Farber points to a large number of parallels between Biblical Antiquities and rabbinic literature. These points of contact cover some calendrical matters, doctrinal matters, and, most commonly, biblical interpretive traditions. Although this does not prove that the author of Biblical Antiquities was a proto-Rabbi or a Pharisee, it does suggest that he was part of the continuum, culturally and ideologically, of the move from Pharisaic Judaism to Rabbinic Judaism. As such, study of Biblical Antiquities may contribute to the understanding of the Pharisees and their transformation into the post-Temple rabbinic movement. 1

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FROM CREATION TO REDEMPTION

Kristen Lindbeck utilizes a lachrymose methodological lens to explore the interpretative understanding of the Aqedah – the biblical Binding of Isaac narrative in Genesis 22 – as presented in the early amoraic, homiletical midrash Genesis Rabbah. By focusing on the presentation of the physicality of weeping in Genesis Rabbah – with a particular emphasis on its midrashic portrayal of the weeping of the angels in the divine retinue – Lindbeck argues that Genesis Rabbah portrays and understands the Aqedah as a complex event denoted by overlapping physical, emotional and spiritual forces. In so doing, Genesis Rabbah transforms this befuddling, disturbing biblical narrative about God’s faithfulness and sagacity, as opposed to God’s emotional failure and flippancy. Matthew Hass continues this volume’s examination of the Aqedah with his focused attention on the editorial and anthological dimensions of the midrashic tradition of interpretation of this biblical narrative located in Bavli Sanhedrin 89b. Hass’ examination reveals how the redactor of this talmudic sugya editorially crafted a singular version and unique, rabbinic interpretive understanding of the Aqedah, by situating a version of its midrashic tradition both within a particular halakhic context and in relation to other midrashic traditions of interpretation in the Bavli. His close analysis of this sugya reveals how the editorial intention of the Bavli is to focus the attention of the reader of its version of the midrashic Aqedah on the heavenly struggle between God and Satan, as well as on Abraham’s role as God’s soldier in this contention and the fact that it is Abraham’s fidelity to rabbinic halakha which allows him to emerge victorious. Jonathan Jacobs researches midrash in the biblical commentary of Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam, 1080–1160 CE approx.). Jacobs mentions that Rashbam propelled the usage of intra-biblical exegesis to its height. His Torah commentary is replete with quotes of verses which assist him in interpreting Scripture based on other biblical sources. This method is employed in most of his Torah commentaries, and Rashbam utilized this tool more than any other commentator in his era. The employment of verses from all areas of Scripture as exegetical tools reflects Rashbam’s approach whereby Scripture should be understood from within itself, without external aids. Jacobs surveys the Rashbam’s wide usage of intrabiblical exegesis for the purpose of proving his commentaries. When Rashbam invoked cited verses as prooftexts for his interpre-

INTRODUCTION

3

tations, he used set formulas such as: “this is proven below”; “as is proven below”; “since it is proven below,” and the like. The cited verses support Rashbam both by explaining difficult words and by innovating content-based, topical exegesis. In cases of a contradiction between various cited verses, Rashbam preferred the proof from closer verses over the proof from more distant cited verses. The scope of his usage of cited verses serves to set Rashbam apart as the exegete who propelled the use of intra-biblical exegesis to its utmost. Johanna Erzberger researches aggadic rabbinic midrashim that are to a high degree made up of smaller textual passages that can also be found in other aggadic rabbinic midrashim. They constitute more-or-less fixed traditional textual units that must have had a prior existence of some kind before being placed in their present contexts. Within these traditional units, biblical texts are intertextually linked following cultural conventions. In addition to (1) the selection of texts that are considered relevant and (2) the selection of texts that are understood to refer to each other, those cultural conventions dictate (3) the mode in which those texts are thought to refer to each other. These modes can be described in terms of hypertexts, which describe relations in time or space and even causal relations. Variations between the versions of a given traditional unit that appears in different midrashim can be shown to serve meaningfully the contexts in which the unit has been placed. Contexts consequently prove to be meaningful. Hypertexts also organize the contextualization of traditional units. Nicholas J. Schaser focuses on the problem of to which extent rabbinic authors attended to the context of the biblical verses they cited. A common scholarly view is that the rabbis used Scripture atomistically—that is, without attention to its original context. In the atomistic approach, the rabbis are thought to remove a verse (or a part of a verse) from its narrative surroundings and juxtapose it with other decontextualized verses from elsewhere in Scripture. While rabbinic literature sometimes uses Scripture atomistically, this article argues that we have overemphasized atomism without giving due attention to contextual exegesis. The literary device of metalepsis, which points the reader to the biblical narrative beyond the cited text, allows for broader contextual considerations of midrash. A prime example of metalepsis in midrash is Genesis Rabbah 19:9, which contains Scriptural juxtapositions that compare Adam’s

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FROM CREATION TO REDEMPTION

expulsion from Eden with Israel’s exile. The wider contexts of the verses cited in Gen R. 19:9 establish an extensive narrative pattern between the biblical accounts of Adam and Israel. Katie J. Woolstenhulme analyses the portrayal of Leah, the “Lost Matriarch,” in a particular rabbinic midrash, Genesis Rabbah. No matter the extent to which Leah is a neglected and largely overlooked character in the biblical narrative, Woolstenhulme’s examination of the midrashic Leah in Genesis Rabbah reveals how the rabbis engage and use the sparse biblical information on Leah to give her depth of character as a founding matriarch of the Israelite nation. In these traditions of interpretation, it is Leah's role as a mother that is the most poignant and meaningful aspect of her character. The rabbinic tradents on Genesis Rabbah provide Leah with a voice of her own that she does not have in the biblical text. As opposed to the timid, homely maiden of the biblical text, the midrashic Leah is revered as a matriarch of Israel and as central to Jewish identity. Lieve M. Teugels renders apparent the fluidity and multivalent characteristics of the rabbinic mashal, through her investigation of multiple versions of the midrashic parable of the lame and blind guards in a range of tannaitic and amoraic rabbinic texts (i.e., the two Mekhiltot, the Babylonian Talmud, Leviticus Rabbah, and Tanhuma Buber). Her expert analysis of the similarities and differences among the various versions of this frequently employed rabbinic parable reveals both complementary and contradictory philosophical views on the nature of and relation between the human body and soul in the world of early Rabbinic Judaism. This is to say, in all these texts the parable of the lame and blind guards always refers in some fashion to the relation between body and soul, particularly to the assignment of both responsibility and punishment to the body and the soul for sin. However, Teugels’ examination reveals that there exists no single, harmonious concept of the body and soul along these lines in the early centuries of rabbinic thought. Rather, these midrashic traditions present both hierarchical, dualistic views and what Teugel terms “egalitarian” views of body and soul. W. David Nelson Rivka Ulmer 23 Av 5777

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES: A LOOK AT THE PREHISTORY OF RABBINIC JUDAISM ZEV FARBER FELLOW, PROJECT TABS INTRODUCTION

The Biblical Antiquities of Pseudo-Philo (Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum in Latin) retells biblical history from creation to the death of Saul. Biblical Antiquities (BA) is a truncated version of biblical history starting with Genesis and continuing into the reign of Saul. Nevertheless, the work is punctuated by expansions, both in genealogies as well as in narrative. As with most Jewish books from this period, we don’t know who wrote Biblical Antiquities, though it certainly was not Philo. (It is called Pseudo-Philo because some early manuscripts included this work together with some of Philo’s works, not because the author was attempting to write as if he were Philo. The work is actually not at all reminiscent of Philo.) 1 We also do not know in what language it was written. The work was preserved in a Latin translation, which was derived from For an edition of the work, including an introduction, the original Latin plus translation, and commentary, see: Howard Jacobson, A Commentary on Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum, with Latin text and English translation (2 vol.; Leiden: Brill, 1996.) The Latin quotes in this essay are all from this edition. The English translations of this and all other texts are based on this edition, with some tweaks. 1

5

6

ZEV FARBER

a Greek Vorlage. This Greek version was itself probably translated from a Hebrew original, but this is speculative. 2 We further do not know when Biblical Antiquities was written but it was almost certainly composed after the destruction of the Second Temple since it refers to the 17th of Tammuz (BA 19:7). 3 To what religious milieu does the work belong? This is a difficult question, and many suggestions have been offered. Louis Feldman and Daniel Harrington suggest that the work should be associated with non-sectarian or “synagogue” Judaism. Others have argued for a connection with the groups that put forth the apocalyptic works 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch. 4 I would like to argue for the likelihood that Biblical Antiquities originated in a post-Pharisaic/ proto-Rabbinic community. The possibility of identifying a text that represents the midpoint between Pharisaic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism would be significant. Modern scholarship has approached the question of Pharisees and the prehistory of Rabbinic Judaism from a number No fragments of a Hebrew or a Greek Biblical Antiquities exist. The arguments for Greek and Hebrew Vorlagen are based on grammatical forms and other characteristic expressions. For a discussion of the pros and cons for these hypotheses, see: Daniel J. Harrington, “The Original Language of Pseudo-Philo’s Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum,” HTR 63 (1970), 503–514. For some pushback against the probability of a Hebrew Vorlage, see: Louis Feldman, “Prolegomena” in M. A. James’ The Biblical Antiquities of Philo (New York: Ktav, 1971 [reprint]), xxvii–xxi. 3 See discussion in Jacobson, Commentary, 202–205. Some date the work differently. See discussion in Bruce Fisk, Do You Not Remember? Scripture, Story and Exegesis in the Rewritten Bible of Pseudo-Philo (JSPSup 37; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 34–40; also Preston Sprinkle, Law and Life: The Interpretation of Leviticus 18:5 in Early Judaism and in Paul (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008), 116 (ns. 7–9). Nevertheless, the consensus of many Pseudo-Philo scholars takes the post-70 date as the terminus post quem based on the 17th of Tammuz argument, and I also see this argument as definitive. 4 See discussion in George Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah: A Historical and Literary Introduction (2nd ed.; Augsburg: Fortress Press, 2005), 2–285. 2

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

7

of different angles. 5 One thing that has been sorely lacking is a text that is representative of the Pharisees. Although Biblical Antiquities is too late to be Pharisaic proper, nevertheless, in my estimation a strong case can be made for seeing it as a proto-rabbinic text, one that stands at a halfway point between Pharisaism and Rabbinic Judaism.

UNAVAILABLE TYPES OF EVIDENCE

As Biblical Antiquities makes no reference to Jewish sects, nor does it attempt to position itself vis-à-vis any heretical groups, the case for a Pharisaic/rabbinic Weltanschauung can only be made circumstantially, based on similarities between Biblical Antiquities’ traditions and those found later in rabbinic texts, and this is the type of evidence I will explore. It would have been useful if Biblical Antiquities had described Jewish religious praxis, since details often varied between groups. Nevertheless, unlike Jubilees, Biblical Antiquities does not attempt to fit great swaths of Torah law into its narrative. In fact, even though it retells the story of Moses and Israel in the wilderness, there is very little in the way of law at all in this work.

SHAVUOT: 6TH OR 16TH?

Considering the nature of the polemics at the end of the Second Temple period, the strongest evidence of religious affiliation would have been calendrical. Unlike Jubilees, however, Biblical Antiquities does not make its calendrical system clear. We do not know if the author used a lunar or solar calendar. Frustratingly, the one date which should be the “giveaway” is surprisingly unhelpful.

See, for example, Gabriele Boccaccini, Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History from Ezekiel to Daniel (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002); Shaye D. Cohen, “The Significance of Yavneh: Pharisees, Rabbis, and the End of Jewish Sectarianism,” HUCA 55 (1984): 27–53; Peter Schäfer, The History of the Jews in the Greco-Roman World (Revised Edition; Great Britain: Routledge Press, 2003). 5

8

ZEV FARBER

Joshua makes a speech as he inaugurates the altar which he builds in Shiloh. 6 The speech is delivered on the 16th of the third month, according to the Latin MS of Biblical Antiquities (23:2). Et congregates omnibus populis (X)VI die mensis tertii ante conspectun Domini in Sylo cum mulieribus et filiis.

On the (1)6th day of the third month all the people including women and children gathered together before the Lord in Shiloh. 7

The 16th of the third month would be the day after Sectarian (Essene) Pentecost. Choosing this date for a speech could be evidence that the work is associated with a sectarian community like Qumran and not a proto-rabbinic group. With the prominent usage of the Horeb story in his speech, Joshua seems to allude to an association between the day of the speech and the day of the Horeb event, just as Pentecost functions in both Jubilees and rabbinic tradition. Nevertheless, this argument is weakened by the fact that the date used is not sectarian Pentecost (15th of Sivan) but only the day after. Although it is possible that the date was not meant to be significant, this seems unlikely. For this reason, the accuracy of the text here has come into dispute. Some scholars, like J. Van Goudoever, accept the 16th as the accurate text, 8 but Feldman, followed by Jacobson and others, suggests emending the text to read 6th of the month, i.e., Pharisaic or rabbinic Pentecost. 9

This follows the LXX text of Josh 24, and that of Josephus; the MT has Shechem. Later in this essay we will see that it is unclear of which text BA made use, since in some places it reads like the MT and in others like the LXX. 7 Jacobson’s edition is particularly confusing here, since he has XVI in the Latin (p. 34) but 6 in the English (p. 129). This is because he does not want to amend the Latin text but believes it should be amended and does so in the English, but without reading the notes (which, for this section, are in a separate volume), the reader would not know this. 8 See, Jan Van de Goudoever, Biblical Calendars 2nd ed., (Leiden: Brill, 1961), 116–117. 9 Feldman, “Prolegomenon,” CVIII–CIX; Jacobson, Commentary, 711. Jacobson is sufficiently certain of this emendation that in his new 6

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

9

The reason for the emendation, Feldman argues, is that whereas the 6th is Pentecost for one group (Rabbis/Pharisees) the 16th is not Pentecost for anybody—Sectarian Pentecost is the 15th. Although being off by a day may not seem overly significant, since the day of Pentecost was one of the most contested points, religiously speaking, of that period, being off by a day would be an astronomic problem. A sectarian author who wished to connect Horeb or Joshua’s speech with Pentecost would have made the speech on the 15th of Sivan, not the 16th. One problem with this suggestion is that, in theory, one could emend the text to read 15th just as easily. In both cases, it is a question of removing one Roman numeral (the X or the I). Thus, the date for this speech really gives us little information with regard to the author’s date for Pentecost.

SEVENTEENTH OF TAMMUZ AND THE SMASHING OF THE TABLETS

Another date that does seem significant is the 17th of Tammuz (BA 19:7). Demonstrabo tibi locum, in quo mihi servient annos DCCXL. Et post hec tradetur in manus inimicorum suorum et demolientur eum, et circumdabunt eum alienigene. Et erit in illa die secundum diem illum in quo contrivi tabulas testamenti quas disposui ad te in Oreb, et

[God to Moses]: I will show you the place where they will serve me for 740 years. 10 After this it will be given over to the hands of their enemies, and they will breach it and foreigners will encircle it. And it will be on the same day that you

translation and commentary for the Outside the Bible series, he simply writes 6th with no explanation or annotation to reflect that it is an emendation. Howard Jacobson, “Pseudo-Philo, Book of Biblical Antiquities,” in Outside the Bible: Ancient Jewish Writings Related to Scripture vol. 1,eds. Louis H. Feldman, James L. Kugel, and Lawrence H. Schiffman (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2013), 525. 10 In both his translations, Jacobson has 440 instead of 740. This would require an emendation in the Latin to read CDXL instead of DCCXL. I thank John Townsend for pointing this out to me during my presentation of this paper as an AJS talk.

10

ZEV FARBER

peccantibus illis evolavit ex eis quod erat scriptum. Dies autem erat septima decima mensis quarti.

smashed the tablets of the covenant which I established with you on Horeb; and when they sinned, what was written on them flew away. Now that day was the seventeenth of the fourth month.

The 17th of Tammuz commemorates something that would be “historical time” for the author, i.e., the breaking of Jerusalem’s walls during the Roman siege, which quickly led to the capture of the city and the destruction of the Temple. For this reason, it would be impossible to connect this date per se to an association with any particular pre-destruction brand of Judaism. It is possible that multiple Jewish groups commemorated the day the walls were breached. Nevertheless, the way Biblical Antiquities discusses this date is telling, since it is highly reminiscent of rabbinic tradition. As we saw above, when recounting God’s message to Moses at the end of his life, Biblical Antiquities refers to the 17th of Tammuz as the day that Moses smashed the tablets. The Mishna (Ta’anit 4:6) makes the same claim. ‫חמשה דברים אירעו את‬ ‫אבותינו בשבעה עשר‬ ‫ בשבעה עשר בתמוז‬...‫בתמוז‬ ‫נשתברו הלוחות ובטל התמיד‬ ‫והובקעה העיר ושרף‬ ‫אפוסטמוס את התורה‬ ...‫והעמיד צלם בהיכל‬

Five things happened to our ancestors on the 17th of Tammuz… On the 17th of Tammuz the tablets were shattered, and the Tamid offering was cancelled, the city [walls] were broken and Apostamus burned the Torah, and an idol was set up in the Temple…

Since the account of the destruction of the tablets is told in the Bible without a connection to any date, it would seem that both Biblical Antiquities and the rabbinic tradition are using the historical date of the 17th of Tammuz and giving it cosmic significance by attaching other Jewish tragedies to it. The choice of Moses’ tablet smashing is so idiosyncratic that it seems virtually impossible to suggest that each tradition came to this independently. Moreover, this cannot be a case where both traditions received the account from Second Temple period tradition, since this date would have had no significance until after the Temple had been destroyed.

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

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FLOATING LETTERS

The account of Moses’ breaking of the tablets contains another overlap with rabbinic tradition (BA 12:5). Et respexit in tabulas et vidit quoniam non errant scripte, et festinans confregit eas. Aperte sunt manus eius, et factus est similis mulieri parturienti in primitivis suis que, cum tenetur in doloribus, et manus eius super pectus illius, et virtus non erit que adiuvet partum eius.

He looked at the tablets and saw that they were not written upon, and feeling agitated, he smashed them. He stretched out his hands and he became like a woman in labor with her first child who, when she is seized by pains, her hands are upon her chest and she has no strength to aid her delivery.

This is strikingly similar to the description in Midrash Tanḥuma (Warsaw printing, Ki Tissa 30): ‫ארז"ל כל ימים שהיה הכתב‬ ‫על הלוחות לא היה משה‬ ‫ כיון שפרח‬,‫מרגיש בהם‬ ‫הכתב נמצאו כבדים על ידיו‬ ‫והשליכם ונשתברו‬

The Rabbis said: “As long as the writing was on the tablets, Moses could not feel the weight. Once the writing flew off of them, the tablets began to feel heavy in his hands and he threw them down and they shattered.”

In Biblical Antiquities, Moses’ lack of strength seems like an afterthought, and is not given as the explanation for why he smashes the tablets. 11 Nevertheless, one could read an implied connection, that Moses drops the tablets because they became heavy once the writing was gone. This point is made explicitly in Tanḥuma. It appears that both traditions were uncomfortable with the boldness of This seems like a case of what Jim Kugel calls overkill in midrash, when an author makes use of multiple midrashic explanations for the same thing, in this case for why Moses smashed the tablets: 1. He saw the words were gone and became agitated. 2. He lost his physical strength and they slipped. For more on this concept, see James L. Kugel, In Potiphar’s House (San Francisco: Harper, 1990), 38. 11

12

ZEV FARBER

Moses’ action and ameliorated it by stating that God gave him a sign to do it by removing the writing and that Moses didn’t actually throw the tablets, but dropped them because without the writing they were too heavy. 12

THREE GIFTS ON ACCOUNT OF THREE RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE

Continuing with midrashic resonances, Biblical Antiquities (20:8) explains three of the miracles in the wilderness as gifts due to three righteous siblings, whose death caused the cessation of the miracles: Et hec sunt tria que dedit populo suo Deus propter tres homines, id est, puteum aque mirre pro Maria et columnam nubis pro Aaron et manna pro Moyse. Et finitis his tribus ablanta sunt hec tria ab illis.

There are three things that God gave to his people on account of three persons: that is, the well of water of Marah for Miriam and the pillar of cloud for Aaron and the manna for Moses. After these three people died, these three things were taken away from them (the Israelites).

This very tradition appears in Tosefta Soṭah (11:1-2): ‫כל זמן שהיתה מרים קיימת‬ ‫היתה באר מספקת את‬ ...‫ישראל‬ ‫כל זמן שהיה אהרן קיים עמוד‬ ...‫ענן מנהיג את ישראל‬

As long as Miriam was alive, the well would supply Israel [with water]…. As long as Aaron was alive, the pillar of cloud would lead Israel….

The motif of flying letters appears elsewhere in rabbinic literature, not in connection with the tablets. See, for example, the story of the burning of R. Haninah ben Teradyon with the Torah scroll (b. Avodah Zarah 18a). ,‫ רבי‬:‫[ אמרו לו תלמידיו‬R. Haninah ben Teradyon]’s students said :‫ מה אתה רואה? אמר להן‬to him [as the Romans burned him with a ‫ גליון נשרפין ואותיות‬Torah scroll]: “Master, what do you see?” .‫ פורחות‬He replied: “The parchment is burning but the letters are flying away.” 12

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES ‫כל זמן שהיה משה קיים היה‬ ...‫מן יורד להן לישראל‬

13

As long as Moses was alive, the manna would fall for Israel….

Unlike in Biblical Antiquities, the Tosefta offers prooftexts for each assertion. Nevertheless, it is almost certain that Biblical Antiquities and the Tosefta are working with the same midrashic reading of verses, and drawing from the same tradition.

PINCHAS IS ELIJAH

Both Pinchas and Elijah are identified in the Bible as “zealots.” This led to the rabbinic belief that the two are really the same individual. 13 This identification first appears explicitly in Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 6:18: ‫וּשׁנֵ י ַחיוֹי ִד ְק ָהת ֲח ִס ָידא ְמ ָאה‬ ְ ‫וּת ַלת ְשׁנִ ין ַחיָ יא ַﬠד‬ ְ ‫וּת ָל ִתין‬ ְ ‫ְד ָח ָמא יַ ת ִפּינְ ָחס הוּא ֵא ִליָ הוּ‬ ‫ַכּ ֲהנָ א ַר ָבּא ְד ָﬠ ִתיד ְל ִמ ְשׁ ַתּ ְל ָחא‬ .‫יוֹמיָ א‬ ַ ‫לוּתא ְדיִ ְשׂ ָר ֵאל ְבּסוֹף‬ ָ ָ‫ְלג‬

The years of the righteous Kehat’s life were 133 years. He lived long enough to see [the birth of] Pinchas, this is Elijah, the high priest, who was destined to be sent to the exiled Jews at the end of days. 14

Jim Kugel suggests further that the lack of a burial notice for Pinchas likely contributed to the idea that he was immortal. See, James L. Kugel, The Bible as It Was (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1997), 497–500. 14 See discussion in Robert Hayward, “Phinehas—the same is Elijah: The Origins of a Rabbinic Tradition,” JJS 29 (1978): 22–34. It also appears, among other places, in Pirqei de-Rabbi Eliezer, genizah fragments of Midrash Shochar Tov, and the Geonic Sefer Maʿayan Ha-Ḥokhma, and is a staple of medieval Jewish interpretation. Nevertheless, the question of Elijah’s identity remained a matter of dispute as can be seen from a 13th cent. genizah fragment recording a dispute in a synagogue about the legitimacy of a piyyut that described Elijah as being from a tribe other than Levi. See Moshe Lavee, “Contesting the Identification of Elijah the Immortal as Pinchas the Zealot,” TheTorah.com (2016); also, Moshe Lavee and Moshe Gan-Zvi, “From France to Fustat: The Influence of Cultural Emigration on the Role of Aggadic Midrash and Piyyut in the Debate Sur13

14

ZEV FARBER

This same identification of Pinchas with Elijah undergirds the passage in Biblical Antiquities (48.1): Et in tempore eo Finees reclinavit se ut moreretur, et dixit ad eum Dominus: Ecce transisti centumviginti annos, qui constitute errant omni homini. Et nunc exsurge et vade hinc, et habita in Danaben in monte, et inhabita ibi annis plurimis. Et mandabo ego aquile mee, et nutriet te ibi, et non descendes ad homines iam quousque superveniat tempus et proberis in tempore, et tu claudas celum tunc, et in ore tuo aperietur. Et postea elevaberis in locum ubi elevati sunt priores tui, et eris ibi quousque memorabor seculi. Et tunc adducam vos, et gustabitis quod est mortis.

At that time, Pinchas was verging toward death, and the LORD said to him, “Behold you have passed the 120 years that have been established for every man (see Gen 6:3). Now rise up and go from here and dwell in the desert on the mountain and dwell there many years. I will command my eagle, and he will nourish you there, and you will not come down again to mankind until the appointed time arrives and you will be tested at the appropriate time; and then you will shut up the heaven [from rain], and by your mouth it will be opened up. Afterward you will be raised up to the place where those who were before you were raised up, and you will be there until I remember the world. Then I will bring you, and you will get a taste of death.

Without identifying Pinchas as Elijah explicitly, Biblical Antiquities connects the characters, implying that Pinchas will hide away from the world until it is time for him to appear again as Elijah. The method of hiding is the same as that of Elijah, who was taken care of by ravens, who brought him food (1 Kings 17:6), and the claim that Pinchas will eventually shut the heavens up from rain is almost explicit, since Elijah is the one who does this (1 Kings 17:1). 15 This rounding the Prophet Elijah’s identity,” Peʿamim 139–140 (5774): 109–154 [Hebrew]. 15 For more on Pinchas in Biblical Antiquities, see Louis H. Feldman, “The Portrayal of Phinehas by Philo, Pseudo-Philo, and Josephus,” JQR 92 (2002): 315–45.

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

15

tradition of Elijah as Pinchas appears to be unique to the rabbis and Pseudo-Philo.

THE THREAT OF NON-PROCREATION AND MIRIAM’S PROPHECY OR INTERCESSION

The story of the Hebrews’ refusal to have children in Egypt after Pharaoh’s decree is a particularly complicated example of the connection between Biblical Antiquities and the rabbinic tradition (9:2– 10). A version of this story appears both in Biblical Antiquities and in rabbinic literature. Although they share a number of features, each version is quite different in describing the sequence of events and the function of its main characters (Amram and Miriam). Biblical Antiquities begins with a decision of the elders of Israel not to have more children (9:2–10): 2. Tunc seniors populi congregaverunt populum cum planctu et planxerunt cum luctu dicentes : “Ometoceam passa sunt viscera mulierum nostrarum, fructus noster inimicis nostris traditus est. Et nunc deficimus et constituamus nobis terminos ut non appropinquet mulieri sue vir, ne fructus ventris earum contaminetur et viscera nostra idolis serviant. Melius est enim sine filiis mori, donec sciamus quid faciat Deus.” 3. Et respondit Amram et dixit: “Celerius est ut in Victoria minuatur speculum aut in inmensurabile mundus concidat aut cor abissi astra contingant, quam genus filiorum Israel minuatur… 4. Nunc ergo permanebo in his que vos determinatis, sed ingrediens mulierem meam accipeam et faciam filios, ut amplificemur super terram… 5. Nunc ergo iens accipiam mulierem meam, et non adquiescam preceptis regis…”

2. Then the elders of the people gathered the people together in mourning, and they mourned with lamentation saying: “The wombs of our wives have lost their children; our fruit is delivered to our enemies. Now lest us make a resolution and let us establish a rule for ourselves that a man should not approach his wife, lest the fruit of their wombs be defiled and our offspring serve idols. For it is better to die without children until we know what God does.” 3. Amram answered and said: “Sooner will the world be destroyed forever or the universe sink into the immeasurable or the heart of the deep touch the stars than that the race of the sons of Israel will be destroyed… 4. Accordingly, now I will not abide by what you decree, but I will go in and take my wife and produce children, that we will multiply upon the earth… 5. Now therefore, I will go and take

16

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9. Et profectus est Amram de tribu Levi, et accepit uxorem de tribu sua. Et factum est cum acceptera team, imitati sunt eum ceteri et acceperunt uxores suas. Huic autem erat unus filius et una filia; et nomen eorum Aaron et Maria. 10. Et spiritus Dei incidit in Mariam nocte, et vidit somnium et ennarivit parentibus suis mane dicens: “Vidi in hac nocte, et ecce vir stabat in veste bissina et dixit mihi: ‘Vade et dic parentibus tuis: “Ecce quod nascetur de vobis in aquam proicietur, quomodo per eum aqua siccabitur. Et faciam per eum signa et salvabo populum meum, et ipse ducatum eius aget semper.”’” Et cum enarrasset Maria somnium suum, non crediderunt ei parentes eius.

my wife, and I will not consent to the orders of this king…” 9. Amram of the house of Levi went out and took his wife from his own tribe. When he had taken her, the others imitated him and took their own wives. And this man had one son and one daughter; their names were Aaron and Miriam. 10. The spirit of God came upon Miriam one night, and she saw a dream and reported it to her parents in the morning, saying: “I had a vision this night, and behold a man was standing in a linen garment and he said to me, ‘Go and say to your parents, “Behold the child who will be born of you will be cast forth into the water; likewise through him the water will be dried up. And I will work signs through him and save my people, and he will exercise leadership always.”’” When Miriam reported her dream, her parents did not believe her.

In this version, Amram flouts the decision of the elders of Israel, takes a wife anyway and has two children, Miriam and Aaron. Miriam then receives a prophecy that the next child her parents have will work miracles and save the Israelites from the Egyptians. The two parts of the story seem to have no intrinsic connection, but a look at the (much later) rabbinic version gives us the key to understanding what once held these two stories together (b. Sotah 12a): ‫ להיכן‬- ‫וילך איש מבית לוי‬ ‫הלך? אמר רב יהודה בר‬ .‫ שהלך בעצת בתו‬:‫זבינא‬ ,‫ עמרם גדול הדור היה‬:‫תנא‬ ‫כיון ]שגזר[ פרעה הרשע כל‬ ,‫הבן הילוד היאורה תשליכוהו‬

A man from the house of Levi went – where did he go? Rav Yehudah bar Zevina said: “He followed his daughter’s advice.” It was taught: “Amram was the leader of the generation, once wicked Pharaoh made the decree that all boys should be thrown into

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES ‫ לשוא אנו עמלין! עמד‬:‫אמר‬ ‫ עמדו כולן‬,‫וגירש את אשתו‬ ‫ אמרה לו‬.‫וגירשו את נשותיהן‬ ‫ קשה גזירתך יותר‬,‫ אבא‬:‫בתו‬ ‫ שפרעה לא גזר‬,‫משל פרעה‬ ‫ ואתה גזרת‬,‫אלא על הזכרים‬ !‫על הזכרים ועל הנקיבות‬ ,‫פרעה לא גזר אלא בעוה"ז‬ !‫ואתה בעוה"ז ולעוה"ב‬ ‫ ספק מתקיימת‬,‫פרעה הרשע‬ ,‫גזירתו ספק אינה מתקיימת‬ ‫אתה צדיק בודאי שגזירתך‬ ‫ ותגזר‬:‫ שנאמר‬,‫מתקיימת‬ ‫אומר ויקם לך! עמד והחזיר‬ ‫ עמדו כולן והחזירו‬,‫את אשתו‬ .‫את נשותיהן‬

17

the Nile, [Amram] said: “We are striving for nothing!” He then divorced his wife. Every man followed him and divorced their wives. His daughter said to him: “Father, your decree is worse than Pharaoh’s. Pharaoh’s decree applies only to boys, but yours applies to boys and girls. Pharaoh’s decree extends only to this world, but yours extends to this world and the world to come! The wicked Pharaoh’s decree might or might not be acted upon [in any given situation], but you are a righteous person so your decree will take effect, as it says (Job 22:28): “You will decree and it will be fulfilled.” [Amram] went and brought back his wife. All the men brought back their wives as well.

This version is different in a number of particulars: • Amram, not the elders, declares that the Israelites should have no more children. • Miriam, not Amram, objects to the rule. • Amram retakes his divorced wife and has Moses (instead of marrying for the first time and having Miriam and Aaron). • Miriam’s advice causes Amram to act; in Biblical Antiquities, her prophecy comes out of nowhere and does not affect the outcome of Amram’s actions. In fact, he doesn’t even believe her at first.

Although the rabbinic material comes from a much later source, unlike in Biblical Antiquities, two midrashic hooks are easier to discern: 1. Exodus 2:1 on how a Levite man took a Levite woman immediately after the decree against the male children in chapter 1. Why would he do such a thing? 2. After their marriage they have Moses, but when were Miriam and Aaron born? These problems brought on the explanation that this was a remarriage and done specifically in spite of the decree. If this is correct, then either Biblical Antiquities reworked the older midrashic timeline

18

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on purpose, or even at this early date, the meaning of the story was lost to the author.

HOW THE TABERNACLE’S INSTRUMENTS WERE DESIGNED

Another example of overlapping hermeneutics, also involving Moses, is the midrashic understanding of how the tabernacle and its accoutrements were designed. Biblical Antiquities suggests that God showed Moses a model of the Tabernacle and its accoutrements on Mount Sinai. Et precepit ei de tabernaculo et arca Domini, et de sacrificio holocaustomatum et incensorum, et de eppomede et de logio, et de preciosissimis lapidibus, ut faciant sic filii Israel. Et ostendit ei similitudinem eorum, ut faceret secundum exemplar quod viderat. Et dixit ad eum: “Facite mihi sanctificationem, et erit tabernaculum glorie mee in vobis.”

He (God) commanded him (Moses) about the tabernacle and the ark of the Lord and about the sacrifice of burnt offerings and about the incense and about the duties pertaining to the table and the lamp and about the laver and its base and about the ephod and the breastplate and about the precious stones, so that the children of Israel might make these things. He showed him their likeness in order that he might make them according to the pattern that he had seen, he said to him: “Make me a sanctuary, and the tabernacle of my glory will be among you.”

In the Babylonian Talmud (Menaḥot 29a), Rabbi Yossi b’Rabbi Yehuda makes the same suggestion about the ark, the table, and the menorah. ‫ רבי יוסי ברבי יהודה‬,‫תניא‬ ‫ ארון של אש ושלחן‬:‫אומר‬ ‫של אש ומנורה של אש ירדו‬ ‫ וראה משה ועשה‬,‫מן השמים‬ ‫ וראה ועשה‬:‫ שנאמר‬,‫כמותם‬ ‫כתבניתם אשר אתה מראה‬ ‫ והקמת‬,‫ אלא מעתה‬.‫בהר‬ ‫את המשכן כמשפטו אשר‬ ‫הראית בהר הכי נמי? הכא‬

It was taught: Rabbi Yossi b’Rabbi Yehuda says: “An ark of fire, a table of fire and a menorah of fire came down from heaven. Moses saw then and copied them, as it says (Exod. 25:40): ‘Note well, and follow the patterns for them that are being shown you on the mountain.’” But if so, the verse (Exod. 26:30): “Then set up the Tabernacle according to the manner of it that you were

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES ‫ התם כתיב‬,‫כתיב כמשפטו‬ ‫כתבניתם‬.

19

shown on the mountain” should have the same meaning! In that case, it says “according to the manner,” but there it says “according to the patterns.”

Both the Talmud and Biblical Antiquities appear to base their idea that God showed Moses the image of a physical object on the mountain, on a literal reading of the word “show” (‫ )מראה‬which appears in the relevant verses describing the above items. As in the previous example, the derasha is explicit in the rabbinic text, but implicit in Biblical Antiquities.

TOWER OF BABEL

Biblical Antiquities’ retelling of the Tower of Babel story contains a number of parallels with rabbinic traditions. For example, it describes what happened once the languages became confused (7:5). …dum edificatores ministris suis iuberent affere lapides, illi afferent aquam, et si deposcerent aquam, illi afferent stipulam…

…when builders would order their assistants to bring bricks, those would bring water; and if they requested water, they would bring straw…

The same basic interpretation appears in Genesis Rabbah (Vilna ed., Noah 38), but with an added element of violence: ‫ א"ר אבא‬,‫ונבלה שם שפתם‬ ‫בר כהנא משפתם אעשה‬ ‫ הוה חד מנהון אמר‬,‫נבלה‬ ‫לחבריה אייתי לי קולב והוא‬ ‫הוה יהיב ליה מגרופי הוה‬ ‫ הה"ד‬,‫מחי ליה ופצע מוחיה‬ ,‫משפתם אעשה נבלה‬

And we will ruin their language – Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: “From their language I will cause ruin. One of them would say to his fellow: ‘Bring me an axe,’ and his fellow would go and bring him a trowel. The [first man] would take it and break his skull with it, and this is what it means when it says: ‘from their language I will cause ruin.’”

20

ZEV FARBER

Other details of this story that stand out as parallel in the two traditions are: 1. Abraham’s refusal to participate in the building of the tower. (BA 6:13, 16–17; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eliezer, ch. 24.) 16 2. Abraham’s being thrown into a fiery furnace, from which he leaves unscathed. (BA 6:13, 16–17, Genesis Rabbah 38). Although the fiery furnace story is not directly connected with that of the cursing in rabbinic literature, it is a very pervasive rabbinic motif when describing the early years of Abraham. 17

DINAH MARRIES JOB: PROBLEMATIZING THE MIDRASHIC PARALLELS

One final midrashic parallel can assist in underlining the methodological difficulties of using shared midrashic traditions to identify the ideological camp of an author. According to Biblical Antiquities (8:7–8), after Dinah is reclaimed by her brothers and father, she is married off to Job. (Apparently, the poor girl’s suffering was only beginning in Shechem.) Et ingressi sunt filii Iacob Simeon et Levi, et interfecerunt omnem civitatem eorum in ore gladii, et Dinam sororem

The sons of Jacob, Simeon, and Levi, went in and killed their whole city by the sword; and they took

It must be admitted, however, that this is a weak parallel. Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer is not only a very late source (9th cent CE), but it is known to copy from pseudepigraphical works without attribution, as was demonstrated by Rachel Adelman in The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha (JSJsupp 140; Leiden: Brill, 2009). 17 Yet another parallel that Biblical Antiquities and the Rabbis share is the account of Agag conceiving a son the night before Samuel kills him. According to Biblical Antiquities (58:6), God planned for this act of reproduction, so that it would produce the Amalekite man who would eventually kill King Saul (56:4). The most similar rabbinic version of this source is found in Esther Rabbah (“Petiḥtot” 7), which uses this same final conjugal visit to explain Haman. Other rabbinic sources, though they don’t discuss the final visit, do connect Haman with Agag directly (b. Megillah 13a; Pirqei deRabbi Eliezer, ch. 48). 16

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES suam acceperunt et exierunt inde. Et postea accepit eam in uxorem Iob, et genuit ex ea quatuordecim filios et sex filias…

21

their sister Dinah and went out from there. Afterwards, Job took her for a wife and begot from her fourteen sons and six daughters…

Rabbinic literature records the same suggestion: ‫ר' הונא בשם ר' אבא הכהן בר‬ ‫ אמר לו הקדוש ברוך‬...‫דלא‬ ‫הוא מנעת חסדה מאחוך כמה‬ ...‫דנסבה לאיוב לא גיירתיה‬

‫ איוב בימי יעקב‬:‫ויש אומרים‬ ,‫ ודינה בת יעקב נשא‬,‫היה‬

R. Huna in the name of R. Abba the Kohen bar Dela began: “…The Holy One, bb”h, said to him (Jacob): “You have withheld kindness from your brother. When she married Job, did you not convert him? … (Genesis Rabbah, “Vayishlach” 80) There are those who say: “Job was in the days of Jacob, and he married the daughter of Jacob. (b. Baba Batra 15b)

This parallel between Biblical Antiquities and rabbinic literature brings forward the methodological hitch. Yet another source claims that Dinah was Job’s wife. It is found in an obscure, not at all rabbinic, pseudepigraphical work called The Testament of Job (1:1–7). The words of Job… I am from the sons of Esau, the brother of Jacob, of whom is your mother Dinah, from whom I begot you…

The fact that this tradition appears in this work, which does not overlap significantly with rabbinic literature, points to a reality about midrashic interpretation emphasized by Jim Kugel. 18 Many of the so-called “midrashic” interpretations were simply part of the Jewish discourse during Second Temple times, which is why the same traditions can appear in works from very different Jewish communities, from Samaritan to Qumranic to Early Christian to proto-Rabbinic. See, for example, his chapter called “The World of Ancient Biblical Interpreters in, James L. Kugel, The Bible as it Was (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997), 1–42. 18

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ZEV FARBER

For this reason, I will add a caveat to my above listing of midrashic parallels—although the sheer number of parallels points to the likelihood of a relationship between Biblical Antiquities and the Rabbis, midrashic parallels per se should not be seen as definitive evidence of a connection, unlike calendrical or legal parallels, which would be clearer indicators. This distinction was used to good effect by Michael Segal in his work on Jubilees. 19

SHARED “SCIENTIFIC” THINKING

Another interesting parallel between Biblical Antiquities and the rabbis is in the world of ancient science. In its description of Isaac’s life, Biblical Antiquities offers this cryptic description (23:8): Et dedi ei Isaac et plasmavi eum in metra eius que eum genuit, et precepi ei ut citius restituens eum redderet mihi in mense septimo. Et propterea omnis mulier que pepererit septimo mense, vivet filius eius, quoniam super eum vocavi gloriam meam et novum ostendi seculum.

I gave him Isaac and formed him in the womb of her who bore him and commanded to restore him quickly and to give him back to me in the seventh month. Therefore, every woman who gives birth in the seventh month, her son will live, because upon him I summoned my glory and revealed the new age.

Michael Segal, The Book of Jubilees: Rewritten Bible, Redaction, Ideology and Theology (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 2007) [Hebrew]. Segal argues that the core midrashic texts were not penned by the sectarian community, but that the editor made use of these (more general) traditions, and overlaid them with a calendrical and halakhic framework reflecting his community’s viewpoint. This is not the only view of how the book was put together. Jim Kugel, for instance, sees an early form of Jubilees undergoing expansion by an “interpolater” (his term), whereas James Vanderkam believes the entire work to stem from one author. James L. Kugel, A Walk Through Jubilees: Studies in the Book of Jubilees and the World of Its Creation (JSJsupp 156; Leiden: Brill, 2012); James C. Vanderkam, The Book of Jubilees (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001). 19

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

23

Biblical Antiquities sees the story of the birth of Isaac and his near sacrifice in the 7th month as a support for the “scientific” reality of the viability of 7 month babies. The Rabbis also believe in the viability of 7 month babies (as opposed to 8 month babies who are not viable). For example, in Genesis Rabbah (Theodor-Albeck, Bereishit 20), a number of rabbis are recorded giving details or evidence for the viability of seven month babies and non-viability of eight month babies. ‫ר' הונא אמר נוצר‬ ‫לתשעה ונולד לשבעה‬ ,‫ לשמונה אינו חיי‬,‫חיי‬ ‫נוצר לשבעה ונולד‬ ‫לתשעה אינו חיי קל‬ ‫ בעון‬,‫וחומר לשמונה‬ ‫קומי ר' אבהו מנין‬ ,‫שהנולד לשבעה חיי‬ ‫אמר להון מדידכון אנה‬ ‫ממטי לכון זיטא איפטא‬ .‫היטה אוקטון‬

Rav Huna said: “If [a baby] is formed for nine months and born after seven months it will live, if after eight months it will not live. If it was formed in seven months and born in nine months it will not live and certainly not in eight months.” They asked Rabbi Abahu: “How do you know that a seven month old fetus being born can survive?” He said to them: “I’ll answer you in your own language (=Greek): ‘Zeta (7th letter; also means live) hepta (7), eta (8th letter; also means go or euphemistically, die) octon (8).’”

Although this source does not connect Isaac to this scientific theory, the Babylonian Talmud (Rosh Hashana 11a) implies that Isaac was a 7 month baby, since it claims that Isaac was announced on Rosh Hashanah or Sukkot, but born on Pesach. 20 The Talmud asks: “How could he have been born after only 6 months?” The answer—it was a leap year, making it seven months. Thus, it seems possible that the rabbis shared the tradition connecting Isaac’s birth with the viability of seven month babies. If this is the case, the rabbinic tradition would most likely be preserving the original midrashic hook. It is much easier to understand how Isaac being a 7-month baby could be a proof that 7 20

‫ אימת קאי? אילימא‬.‫בפסח נולד יצחק מנלן? כדכתיב למועד אשוב אליך‬ ‫ בחמשין יומין מי קא ילדה? אלא דקאי בעצרת‬- ‫בפסח וקאמר ליה בעצרת‬ ‫ וקאמר‬,‫ בחמשה ירחי מי קא ילדה? אלא דקאי בחג‬,‫ אכתי‬- ‫וקאמר ליה בתשרי‬ .‫ אותה שנה מעוברת היתה‬:‫ אכתי בשיתא ירחי מי קא ילדה? תנא‬,‫לה בניסן‬

24

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month babies are viable than how Isaac surviving the Aqedah on the 7th month could be used to prove this. Putting the Isaac tradition aside, it is possible that the connection between the rabbis and Biblical Antiquities in this case could be based on a shared Greco-Roman medical theory, and thus simply be part of the Weltanschauung in which both traditions lived.

ROSH HASHANAH AS NEW YEARS

The Torah never refers to the holiday on the first of the seventh month as New Years, but both Biblical Antiquities and the Rabbis do. In describing the holiday, Biblical Antiquities (13:6) writes: Nam festivitas psalphingarum in oblationem eri prospeculatoribus vestris. In eo quod prespexi creaturam, memores sitis totius orbis; per initia ostendentibus vobis agnoscam numerum mortuorum et natorum.

On the festival of Trumpets there will be an offering on behalf of your watchmen. Because on it I review creation, so as to take note of the entire world. At the beginning of the year, when you present yourselves, I will decide the number of those who are to die and who are to be born.

Similarly, the Rabbis call the first of Tishrei Rosh Hashana and describe it as a day of judgment, when the world appears before God (m. Rosh Hashana 1:2). ‫בראש השנה כל באי העולם‬ ‫עוברין לפניו כבני מרון‬ ‫שנאמר )תהלים ל"ג( היוצר‬ ‫יחד לבם המבין אל כל‬ .‫מעשיהם‬

On Rosh Hashana all the inhabitants of the world pass before him in single file, as it says (Psalms 33:15): “Who fashions that hearts of them all, who discerns all their doings.”

THE BIBLICAL TEXT USED BY B IBLICAL ANTIQUITIES

A completely different approach to identifying the community to which Biblical Antiquities belonged would be to look at the text of the Torah it is working with, whether the MT, the SP, the LXX, or some other version. I have been arguing for a proto-rabbinic milieu for Biblical Antiquities, and presumably, the proto-rabbinic group used the MT. If clear evidence pointed in one direction or another

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

25

it would help; however, there does not appear to be a cut-and-dried way to answer this question. Using the ages of the first ten generations of humanity, for instance, the lack of a clear answer is apparent. See the chart below. 21 Adam

B.A.

LXX

MT

SP

Josephus

105/807

205/707=912

105/807=912

105/807=912

205-912

?/700

Seth

Enosh

Keinan

Mehalalel Yered

Enoch

Methuselah Lemach Noah

190/715 170/740 165/730 162/800 165/200 187/782 182/595 300

230/700=930 190/715=905 170/740=910 165/730=895 162/800=962 165/200=365 167/802=969 188/565=753 500

130/800=930 90/815=905 70/840=910 65/830=895

162/800=962 65/300=365

187/782=969 182/595=777 500

130/800=930 90/815=905 70/840=910 65/830=895 62/785=847 65/300=365 67/653=720 53/600=653 500

230-930 190-905 170-910 165-895 162-962 165-365 187-969 188-707 500

In describing the ages of the first ten generations of humans from the line of Adam, Biblical Antiquities lines up with the LXX and Josephus for 6 cases, with the MT for 4, and with the SP for 1 (some of these overlap). 22 More importantly, in 5 cases it follows the LXX against the MT, in 3 cases it follows the MT against the LXX, and in one case (Noah) Biblical Antiquities offers an age that differs from all other texts. In short, Biblical Antiquities is inconsistently one or The first number is the man’s age upon having children, the second number is the years he lives after having the first child, and the third is the total number of his years. The underline represents texts that read the same as Biblical Antiquities. 22 Earlier in this chapter, I noted that BA reads like the LXX and Josephus for Josh 24, since he locates this speech in Shiloh and not in Shechem (=MT). 21

26

ZEV FARBER

the other; I imagine this points to the fluidity of biblical texts even during this (relatively late) period.

RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD

Like text-type and ritual calendar, ideology is often an important dividing line and identity marker. Depending on the period, certain ideological differences function as the critical dividing line between groups. During the Second Temple period, one of these key issues was the belief in the resurrection of the dead. The Acts of the Apostles (23:8), for instance, declares that whereas the Pharisees believed in resurrection, the Sadducees did not. 8

Σαδδουκαῖοι μὲν γὰρ λέγουσιν μὴ εἶναι ἀνάστασιν μήτε ἄγγελον μήτε πνεῦμα, Φαρισαῖοι δὲ ὁμολογοῦσιν τὰ ἀμφότερα.

The Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit; but the Pharisees acknowledge all three. (NRSV) 8

In the story, Paul uses this ideological dividing line to his advantage to curry favor with his fellow Pharisees; he makes it appear that the persecution against his belief in Jesus’ resurrection was actually a simple case of Sadducees persecuting him for his belief in the tenet of resurrection in general. Like the Pharisees, the rabbis continued with a belief in resurrection (m. Sanhedrin 11:1). ‫ואלו שאין להם חלק לעולם‬ ‫ האומר אין תחיית‬:‫הבא‬ ...‫המתים מן התורה‬

And these are the ones who have no share in the World to Come: Anyone who says: “There is no resurrection according to the Torah”…

That belief in this tenet is described as a dividing line between Jews who receive a share in the future world and those who do not, implies that even during this period (2nd cent. C.E.), the matter re-

PSEUDO-PHILO AND THE PHARISEES

27

mained controversial. 23 This observation can be amplified by noting that the rabbis created multiple midrashic proofs that the Bible advocates a belief in resurrection: Mekhilta de-Rashbi Exodus 15:1

‫ר' אומ' אז שר משה‬ ‫ובני יש' אין כת' כ]ן‬ ‫אלא[ אז ישיר משה‬ ‫נמצינו למדין לתחית‬ .[‫המתים מן התו]רה‬

Midrash Tannaim Deuteronomy, 33:29

‫יחי ראובן ואל ימות‬ ‫והלא מת הוא אלא‬ ‫ואל ימת לעולם הבא‬ ‫מיכן לתחית המתים‬ .‫מן התורה‬

Rabbi said: “‘Then Moshe and the Israelites sang’—it does not say, instead it says, ‘Then Moshe will sing’—we learn from this that there is resurrection according to the Torah.” “Let Reuven live and not die”—but did he not already die? Rather, he should not die in the World-to-Come, this proves that there is resurrection of the dead according to the Torah.

In line with the rabbis and the Pharisees, Biblical Antiquities also expresses a belief in resurrection and a future life. Immediately before Moses dies, God communicates the following message to him (Biblical Antiquities 19:12–13): …Et excitabo te et patres tuos de terra Egipti in qua dormietis, et venietis simul et habitabitis inhabitationem immortalem que non tenetur in tempore. Celum autem hoc erit in conspectu meo tamquam dies transiens hesternus. Et erit cum appropinquaverit visitare orbem iubebo annis et precipiam temporibus et breviabuntur et accelarbuntur astra, et

…I will raise up you and your fathers from the earth in which you sleep and you will come together and dwell in the immortal dwelling place that is not subject to time. But this world will be in my eyes like a fleeting cloud and like yesterday that has passed. When I draw near to visit the world, I will

The threat could be meant ironically or as humor, since it hardly seems threatening to tell someone who does not believe in resurrection that he/she will not merit to be resurrected. 23

28

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festinabut lumen solis in occasum, et non permanebit lumen lune; quoniam festinabo excitare vos dormientes, ut quem ostendi tibi locum sancificationis in eo habitant omnes qui possunt vivere.

command the years and order the times and they will be shortened and the stars will speed up and the light of the sun will hurry to set and the light of the moon will not abide; for I will hasten to raise up you who are sleeping in order that all who will be restored to life will dwell in the place of sanctification that I showed you.

Although the wild description of the sun and moon going out and the days shrinking is reminiscent of the apocalyptic literature so common during the first and second centuries C.E., the belief in resurrection fits with that of the Pharisees and the rabbis.

CONCLUSION: A PROTO-RABBINIC TEXT

In the above analysis, I have pointed to a large number of parallels between Biblical Antiquities and rabbinic literature. These points of contact cover some calendrical matters, doctrinal matters, and, most commonly, biblical interpretive traditions. Although this does not prove that the author of Biblical Antiquities was a proto-Rabbi or a Pharisee, it does suggest that he was part of the continuum, culturally and ideologically, of the move from Pharisaic Judaism to Rabbinic Judaism. As such, study of Biblical Antiquities may contribute to the understanding of the Pharisees and their transformation into the post-Temple rabbinic movement.

WEEPING AT THE AQEDAH KRISTEN LINDBECK FLORIDA ATLANTIC UNIVERSITY

Weeping affects the senses deeply: We see the tears and the grieving face of the weeper, and usually hear sobs. Tears themselves can be felt and even tasted. As we all know from airplanes, even an unknown infant’s crying sets our nerves on edge, but to see an adult weep, especially in public, can be deeply disturbing. Clearly a consideration of the physicality of weeping in the midrash on the Aqedah, specifically Genesis Rabbah, deepens our understanding of the text while at the same time makes it more vivid and perhaps more disturbing. This chapter is part of a larger project on the Aqedah in Genesis Rabbah, one which explores how the text both affirms the eternal value of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and also counts its profound cost, implying at times that God was asking too much of even Abraham’s profound faith. It may at first seem strange to suggest that Genesis Rabbah contains even implicit questioning of divine command. As Kugel states, ancient biblical interpretation holds that biblical heroes such as Abraham, and needless to say God, are truly “perfect” in their ethics and behavior, despite appearances to the contrary in the plain reading of the text. 1 Nevertheless, midrashic interpretations of the Aqedah do seem open to considering the extremity, and perhaps inappropriateness, of God’s command and Abraham’s response. In “Binding-Unbinding: DiJames L. Kugel, The Bible as It Was (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997), 21. 1

29

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vided Responses of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the ‘Sacrifice’ of Abraham's Beloved Son,” Yvonne Sherwood shows how late antique and early medieval interpretation, Jewish and Islamic in particular, posit that Isaac was physically or psychologically harmed by the aborted sacrifice. “Strangely,” Sherwood writes, “in a way that rather confuses assumed trajectories of evolution from pious fidelity to critical scholarship … ancient Jewish, Christian, and Islamic sources often seem more radical than contemporary scholars in the depth and range of their ethical critique.” 2 Of course many modern sources, especially those coming from a literary perspective, also weigh the costs Isaac’s binding. Geoffrey Hartman explores how the mysterious brevity of the biblical text almost points the reader toward doubting God or God’s motives, leading to midrashic word play on “seeing” and “fearing” in the interpretation of Genesis 22:14. On the other hand, Hartman is correct when he writes that midrash, despite its willingness to read against the plain sense of the biblical text, “at the same time retains total confidence in the goodness and unity of God.” 3 As Elbaum states, all rabbinic midrash highlights and praises Abraham’s obedience, and yet at the same time Genesis Rabbah in particular emphasizes “the idea that Abraham's obedience was born out of a fierce inner struggle.” 4 Perhaps that very undergirding of faith allows midrash the possibility—or necessity—of questioning God’s goodness and justice on the way to affirming it. This chapter addresses how the weeping of the angels and of Abraham are key elements in this drama. The angels question, and, although he does not question, Abraham suffers. It is important to remember the homiletic purpose of these passages. Despite the telegraphic style of the written midrash, it Yvonne Sherwood, “Binding-Unbinding: Divided Responses of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the ‘Sacrifice’ of Abraham’s Beloved Son,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72 (2004), 846–48. 3 Geoffrey H. Hartman, “The Blind Side of the Akedah,” Raritan 16.1 (1996): 39–40. 4 Yaakov Elbaum, “From Sermon to Story: The Transformation of the Akedah,” Prooftexts 6.2 (1986), 108. 2

WEEPING AT THE AQEDAH

31

plays with emotions and ideas in ways that would have been publicly preached and rhetorically expanded. These stories can take the audience through a religious and emotional journey that begins by excusing doubt and ends by affirming faith. 5 The weeping of the angels explicitly raises questions of theodicy. One finds a comparable dynamic in medieval Jewish stories of oral origin. In these stories, human protagonists challenge the strange actions of mediating figures who do God’s will, such as Elijah or the angel of death. In identifying with the challengers, the audience can indirectly question God’s justice on the way to affirming it. 6 Rabbinic sources, including midrash on the Aqedah, sometimes make doubt acceptable in another way, by questioning God directly but putting the questions into mouths of authorities, including angels. The Bavli, for example, expresses its heartfelt objection to the martyrdom of Rabbi Akiva—“this is Torah and this its reward?”—only through Moses in one passage (b. Men. 29) and through the ministering angels in another (b. Ber. 61b). The angels’ tears also have physical consequences. They dissolve Abraham’s knife, literally softening the inexorable force of the sacrifice. On the other hand, they also cause Isaac’s blindness in old age, underlining the continuing bitter cost of God’s command. The weeping of Abraham is probably, as we will see, a later tradition inserted in Genesis Rabbah. It encourages emotional responses to the depth of Abraham’s faith as it conflicted with fatherly love, thus emphasizing both the heroism and the cost of the sacrifice. For the oral, homiletic origins of midrash, particularly Genesis Rabbah, see: Ofra Meir, The Darshanic Story in Genesis Rabba [Hebrew] (Israel: Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House Ltd., 1987); Ronald Brown, “Tracing Oral Elements in Genesis Rabba,” in Frank Talmage, ed., Studies in Jewish Folklore (Cambridge, MA: Association for Jewish Studies, 1980), 109–16; and, Irving Jacobs, The Midrashic Process: Tradition and Interpretation in Rabbinic Judaism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). 6 Dov Noy, “The Jewish Theodicy Legend” in Victor D. Sanua, ed., Fields of Offerings: Studies in Honor of Raphael Patai (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983), 69–70. 5

32

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In addition to having their roots in oral homily, midrashim such as Genesis Rabbah and later texts are often strikingly visual. Marc Bregman describes many midrashic expansions of the Aqedah as calls to visualization, describing them as cinematic. He writes that the scene of Isaac’s binding in Yalqut Shimoni, which includes the motifs of Abraham’s and the angels’ tears, “can be read as a shooting-script for a film” intended to be played in the inner eye. 7 Weeping at the Aqedah is thus a physical act that can be visualized and heard, calling forth emotional response, and bringing urgency into its questions of theodicy. The motif of angels weeping at the Binding of Isaac is prerabbinic. It first appears among the Dead Sea Scrolls in 4Q225, also known as “Pseudo-Jubilees.” It contains the simple statement, “The angels of holiness were standing weeping above,” inserted in an otherwise rather close paraphrase of the biblical text. Kugel suggests that this and other ancient instances of angels at the Aqedah gave rise to the varied uses of the motif, and this makes a good deal of sense. 8 Bernstein similarly states that “because it was not enough for the rabbis to have a traditional motif of ‘watching and weeping angels’ in their Aqedah narrative, they sought for something which could make it textually based.” 9 This leads to three exegetical connections in Genesis Rabbah: to Isaiah 33:7, in which “the angels of peace weep bitterly”; to the potentially puzzling “lay not your hand upon the lad” (Gen. 22:12; why “hand” when Abraham had a knife?); and finally to Isaac’s blindness in old age. If these prooftexts developed later, how did the motif of weeping angels first arise? Kugel connects it to another exegetical issue also covered in Marc Bregman, “Aqedah: Midrash as Visualization,” Textual Reasoning 2.1 (2003), no pages [cited 15 May 2017]. Online: http://jtr. shanti.virginia.edu/volume-2-number-1/aqedah-midrash-asvisualization/. See Yalkut Shimoni I, section 101, citing “midrash” (ed. Shiloni, Vol. 1, 446). 8 James Kugel, “Exegetical Notes on 4Q225 ‘Pseudo-Jubilees’ Angels at the Aqedah: A Study in the Development of a Midrashic Motif,” Dead Sea Discoveries 13.1 (2006), 77. 9 Moshe J. Bernstein, “Angels at the Aqedah: A Study in the Development of a Midrashic Motif,” Dead Sea Discoveries 7.3 (2000), 280. 7

WEEPING AT THE AQEDAH

33

Genesis Rabbah: How can God tell Abraham that “now,” but not before the test, “I know you fear God” (Gen. 22:12) without compromising His omniscience? Jubilees, 4Q225, and Genesis Rabbah (56.12) all resolve this in the same way, by reading the word “know” with different vowels to yield “Now I have made known.” But made known to whom? Genesis Rabbah says “I have made it known to all” and Jubilees is comparable. 10 Kugel suggests that in 4Q225 God has made known Abraham’s faithfulness to the ministering angels. 11 Kugel’s explanation of how the first weeping angels appeared at the Aqedah is plausible but not provable. It is nearly certain, however, that once it was accepted that the angels were present, it is an easy exegetical move to link Isaiah 33:7, “the angels of peace weep bitterly,” to the Binding of Isaac, and from there to connect Isaiah 33:8 with the same scene. At the time when Abraham our father stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son (Gen 22:10), the ministering angels wept, as it is written “Erelim [or “the valiant ones”] cry out outside [the angels of peace weep bitterly]” (Isa. 33:7). What does “outside” mean? R. Azariah said [it means] “‘unnatural’ [outside normal bounds] for his hand to wound his son.” And what did they cry? “The highways lie waste” (Isa. 33:8): Abraham does not welcome travelers and captives; “He has declared void the covenant” (Isa. 33:8): [for He said] “I will establish my covenant with Isaac” (Gen. 17:21); “He does not consider [any] person” (Isa. 33:8): Does no merit endure for Abraham? (Gen. Rab., Theodor-Albeck 56:9)

When Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son the ministering angels quote Isaiah to express their shock at God’s command. The highways, they cry, are desolate because Abraham no longer welcomes travelers. They challenge God by connecting “he has broken a covenant” (Isa. 33:7–8) directly to “I will establish my covenant with Isaac” (Gen. 17:21), implying God has been unfaithful. Lastly, the angels cite “He does not consider [any] person” (Isa. 33:8) to ur10 11

Kugel, “‘Pseudo-Jubilees’ Angels at the Aqedah,” 79. Kugel, “‘Pseudo-Jubilees’ Angels at the Aqedah,” 80–81.

34

KRISTIN LINDBECK

gently demand “does no merit endure for Abraham?” In these three cases, however, the answers are included in the angels’ implied challenges because the reader knows something the angels do not. God has not in fact broken the covenant or ceased to consider Abraham’s merit. The Divine sees him as worthy of the most severe test and highest reward, a reward that will benefit the whole Jewish people eternally. More troubling is the start of the passage above, on Isaiah 33:7 “The valiant ones cry outside”: “Outside,” says the midrash, means or implies the Aramaic ḥitzah, “unnatural”; it is unnatural for a man to slay his son. This objection is not answered by the text, leaving the reader free to wonder whether God has required an unnatural sacrifice, perhaps an unnatural cruelty, from Abraham. Like Isaac’s blindness, this passage points to the permanent cost of the Aqedah, despite its necessity. The physical power of the angels’ tears to dissolve Abraham’s knife brings their objection to a new level (Gen. Rab. 56.12). The biblical prooftext here is the angel’s “do not stretch out your hand against the lad” (Gen. 22:12): If the angel only mentions Abraham’s “hand,” what happened to the knife? Sherwood holds that the dissolving knife suggests “divine protection and safety,” 12 seeking perhaps to reassure the reader of God’s overarching care for Abraham and Isaac even in the context of the terrible test. One can read it that way, but one can also, or instead, read it in context as a way of contrasting the angels’ palpable protest with Abraham’s heroic faithfulness. After all, in Genesis Rabbah (56.12) Abraham does not hold back when the knife dissolves. When it vanishes, Abraham decides, “then I will strangle him.” When the angel calls out “do not stretch out your hand against the lad,” Abraham responds, “Let us draw a drop of blood from him.” This makes it necessary for the angel to continue, “Do not do anything to him” (Gen. 22:12), which Genesis Rabbah paraphrases as “inflict no blemish upon him.” This dramatically visual scene reads as some combination of supreme faith and a sort of emotional and spiritual frenzy: Having steeled himself to sacrifice his beloved son, Abraham finds it exceedingly hard to not complete what he has started. 12

Sherwood, “Binding-Unbinding,” 846.

WEEPING AT THE AQEDAH

35

The last effect of the angel’s tears in Genesis Rabbah is mentioned later. Isaac’s blindness, along with the death of Sarah as described in several midrashim, are two of the most poignant statements of the permanent cost of the Aqedah. Furthermore, it does not seem to be called forth by unique wording or an exegetical puzzle in Genesis. As James Kugel remarks, this result of the angels’ tears is not suggested by the text, which simply connects Isaac’s blindness to age, but actually contradicts its plain meaning. 13 There is a prooftext however, one which interprets an idiom against its normal sense. Genesis reads, “When Isaac was old and his eyes were too dim to see” (27:1), which can be read literally as “his eyes were dim from seeing,” as Genesis Rabbah interprets it. “Dim from seeing,” it suggests, might mean “dim from the sight.” “Thus when Abraham our father bound Isaac the ministering angels wept … and the tears fell from their eyes into his eyes, and were imprinted within his eyes, and when he was old, his eyes grew dim (Gen. Rab. 65.1). The term “imprinted,” reshumot, creates a striking image, physical, but difficult to visualize. Like the angels’ contention that Isaac’s Binding is “unnatural,” it also underscores the cost of the Aqedah, and does so more concretely, in describing a lasting physical debility. In the standard Vilna text of Genesis Rabbah, Abraham weeps as well as the angels. Abraham’s “eyes let fall tears and the tears fell into Isaac’s eyes from a father’s compassion, but his heart rejoiced to do the will of his creator” (56.8). As the Theodor and Albeck edition’s notes indicate, this is almost certainly a later tradition, as it is found only in the Venice printed edition and one Yemenite manuscript. Is this memorable description meant to invoke horror or a more pious sharing in Abraham’s grief? In either case, it answers a question modern readers might ask, “what in the world was Abraham feeling?” if not in a contemporary way. Even more than the angel’s tears, these tears are visible and palpable; they cause no concrete damage, either to the knife or Isaac’s eyes, but they link Abraham and Isaac with almost unbearable physicality. This is emphasized by the immediately preceding passage in the traditional printed version in which Isaac asks Abra13

James Kugel, “Pseudo-Jubilees’ Angels at the Aqedah,” 78.

36

KRISTIN LINDBECK

ham to bind him “very, very tightly,” suggesting that Isaac cannot even turn his head aside from his father’s tears. The use of this motif in later midrashic texts, such as Yalqut Shimoni, is even more strikingly visual, or, as Bregman terms it, “cinematic,” with Abraham’s tears and the angels’ juxtaposed. 14 Yet this physicality is only part of the story. As Herbert Basser writes, the wording of the passage evokes the Aqedah as cosmic turning point. The tears “signify … constructive power because they are tears of both Abraham’s love for Isaac and his love for God. The tensions in these unbearable tears are overcome by Abraham’s faith.” 15 The site of the Aqedah, in midrashic tradition, will be the site of the future Temple, 16 and the Aqedah itself is a key instance of the “merit of the ancestors”: “May be Your will, LORD our God, that when Isaac's children fall into trouble, You will remember the Binding in their favor and be filled with compassion for them” (Gen. Rab. 56.14). Every New Year with the blowing of the shofar, and on the Last Day, “Israel will be redeemed by the ram’s horn” (ibid. 56.12), the horn of the ram sacrificed in Isaac’s stead. In conclusion, for Genesis Rabbah weeping in the Aqedah has physical, emotional, and spiritual or salvific force, all of which interact in complex ways. Writing this, I was both energized and frustrated by my inability to separate one from the other, to arrive at one clear conclusion about its meaning. It does seem true, as Sherwood observes, that Genesis Rabbah and other rabbinic texts are more willing than many modern interpreters to emphasize the human cost of the Aqedah. This willingness, however, as Hartman says explicitly, and Basser implies, is likely due to a greater faith. By including the physical, emotional and spiritual as one, this terrifying story becomes one of God’s faithfulness and wisdom, not their Bregman, “Aqedah: Midrash as Visualization.” Herbert W. Basser, “Love for All Seasons: Weeping in Jewish Sources,” in Kimberley Christine Patton and John Stratton Hawley, eds., Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination; (Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 190–91. 16 See Bregman, “Aqedah: Midrash as Visualization,” note 27, citing Levenson, Sinai and Zion. 14 15

WEEPING AT THE AQEDAH

37

failure. Nevertheless, the heartbreaking physicality of Abraham’s weeping, the later blindness of Isaac from angelic tears, and the angels’ cry that Abraham’s sacrifice, or God’s command, is ḥitzah, “unnatural,” may make room for human questioning of the Aqedah, or at least counting its cost and admitting that not everything it damaged can be made right.

BIBLIOGRAPHY Basser, Herbert W., “Love for All Seasons: Weeping in Jewish Sources,” in Patton, Kimberley Christine and Hawley, Christine Patton, eds., Holy Tears: Weeping in the Religious Imagination (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005), 178–200. Bernstein, Moshe J., “Angels at the Aqedah: A Study in the Development of a Midrashic Motif,” Dead Sea Discoveries 7.3 (2000), 263–91. Bregman, Marc, “Aqedah: Midrash as Visualization,” Textual Reasoning 2.1 (2003). No pages. Cited 15 May 2017. Online: http://jtr.shanti.virginia.edu/volume-2-number-1/aqedahmidrash-as-visualization/. Brown, Ronald, “Tracing Oral Elements in Genesis Rabba,” in Talmage, Frank, ed., Studies in Jewish Folklore (Cambridge, MA: Association for Jewish Studies, 1980), 109–16. Elbaum, Yaakov, “From Sermon to Story: The Transformation of the Aqedah,” Prooftexts 6.2 (1986): 97–116. Hartman, Geoffrey H., “The Blind Side of the Aqedah,” Raritan 16.1 (1996): 28–40. Jacobs, Irving, The Midrashic Process: Tradition and Interpretation in Rabbinic Judaism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995). Kugel, James, “Exegetical Notes on 4Q225 ‘Pseudo-Jubilees’ Angels at the Aqedah: A Study in the Development of a Midrashic Motif,” Dead Sea Discoveries 13.1 (2006), 73–98. Meir, Ofra, The Darshanic Story in Genesis Rabba [Hebrew] (Israel: Hakibbutz Hameuchad Publishing House Ltd., 1987). Noy, Dov, “The Jewish Theodicy Legend,” in Sanua, Victor D., ed., Fields of Offerings: Studies in Honor of Raphael Patai (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1983), 69–70.

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Sherwood, Yvonne, “Binding-Unbinding: Divided Responses of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the ‘Sacrifice’ of Abraham’s Beloved Son,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 72 (2004), 821–61.

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI: AN ANALYSIS OF SANHEDRIN 89B MATTHEW HASS HARVARD UNIVERSITY

A prominent trend in recent scholarship on rabbinic biblical interpretation has been to trace the development of individual exegetical motifs and traditions. Such investigations are certainly important, as they illustrate certain fundamental assumptions that remain constant across the Second Temple and Rabbinic Periods. 1 Additionally, scholars have demonstrated that certain motifs found in relatively late rabbinic works are, in fact, quite ancient. 2 Such findings have led Menahem Kister to downplay the uniqueness of the Rabbinic exegetical enterprise. In a recent article, he voices his opinion that “Aggadic statements in rabbinic literature should be regarded principally as traditions, 3 and the sages to whom these utterances are attributed as tradents of ancient material.” 4 For a discussion of these assumptions, see James L. Kugel, Traditions of the Bible (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1998), 14–19. 2 See Menahem Kister, “Observations on Aspects of Exegesis and Theology in Midrash, Pseudepigrapha, and other Jewish Writings,” in John C. Reeves, ed., Tracing the Threads: Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1994), 5–6. 3 Emphasis in the original. 4 Menahem Kister, “Allegorical Interpretations of Biblical Narratives in Rabbinic Literature, Philo, and Origen: Some Case Studies,” Gary A. Anderson et al., eds., New Approaches to the Study of Biblical Interpretation in 1

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40

MATTHEW HASS

This scholarly focus on the history of individual “traditions” is understandable, in light of the anthological nature of the earliest midrashic compilations. As scholars have recently emphasized, the compilations commonly referred to as the “Tannaitic” and “Amoraic” midrashim are not focused interpretations of biblical narratives but rather anthologies of different interpretations of individual verses. 5 It is often difficult to decide whether the documentary context in which a particular midrashic tradition is located should play a role in its interpretation, or whether the editorial juxtaposition of different traditions was intended to produce new meaning. 6 In this state of aporia, focusing on smaller units of tradition is often the safest way to proceed. 7 This problem is somewhat attenuated when the reader encounters midrashim in the Babylonian Talmud. While there are certainly anthological dimensions to the Bavli, it does not make a regular practice of presenting long blocks of aggadic midrashim. 8 Thus, when one does find such a sequence of midrashim in the middle of a sugya, several questions suggest themselves. Why did the Talmudic redactors include these specific midrashim? How do they contribute to the overall flow of the sugya? And most imJudaism of the Second Temple Period and Early Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 142. 5 For more thorough discussion of this issue see David Stern, “Anthology and Polysemy in Classical Midrash” in David Stern, ed., The Anthology in Jewish Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 108– 139. Marc Hirshman also reflects on the “encyclopedic” character of midrashic collections in Marc Hirshman, “The Greek Fathers and the Aggada on Ecclesiastes,” Hebrew Union College Annual 59 (1988), 137–165. 6 For more on this point see David Stern, Parables in Midrash (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 152–154. 7 This is not to say that scholars have eschewed interpreting the editorial juxtaposition of midrashim. To give only one example, Steven Fraade productively analyzes this aspect of parts of Sifre Devarim in his From Tradition to Commentary (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991). 8 There are exceptions to this general trend. Especially noteworthy is the collection of midrashim on Megillat Esther in Bavli Megillah 12b–16b.

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

41

portantly, are new meanings created by the juxtaposition of these specific midrashim in their next context in the Bavli? The goal of this essay is to ask these very questions of the midrashim on Genesis 22, commonly referred to as the Aqedah, in Bavli Sanhedrin 89b. It will examine how the redactors 9 of the Talmudic sugya presented a unique picture of the Aqedah by juxtaposing specific midrashim within a particular “halakhic context.” 10 The subsequent analysis will show that the reader’s attention is directed to the heavenly struggle between God and Satan, and to Abraham’s role as God’s soldier in this battle. Additionally, it is Abraham’s adherence to rabbinic halakha which allows him ultimately to succeed. It is my claim that this sequence of midrashim as a whole, as opposed to only the individual traditions, should be understood as an important chapter in the history of interpretation of the Aqedah. 11 I personally adhere to the hypothesis, proposed by both Shamma Friedman and David Weiss Halivni, that the redaction of the Babylonian Talmud was carried out by a group (or groups) of post-Amoraic scholars who are often referred to in the scholarly literature as “Stammaim.” In this chapter, however, I am only concerned with the redaction of this particular sugya, and make no claims regarding the editing of the Babylonian Talmud as a whole. For an accessible summary of recent scholarship on this question see Jeffrey L. Rubenstein, Talmudic Stories: Narrative Art, Composition, and Culture (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1999), 15-21 and the literature cited therein. 10 I borrow this term from Rubenstein, Talmudic Stories, 24. 11 There have been many studies of the interpretation of Genesis 22 in Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism. Two of the most widely cited surveys include Shalom Spiegel, The Last Trial: On the Legends and Lore of the Command to Abraham to Offer Isaac as a Sacrifice (Woodstock: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1993) [Original Hebrew original published in 1950] and Jon D. Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 173–199. Two recent contributions are Edward Kessler, Bound by the Bible: Jews, Christians, and the Sacrifice of Isaac (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004) and Isaac Kalimi, “‘Go, I beg you, take your beloved son and slay him!’ The Binding of Isaac in Rabbinic Literature and Thought,” Review of Rabbinic Judaism 13:1 (2010), 1–29. I 9

42

MATTHEW HASS

It will be helpful to begin the present analysis with an examination of the halakhic argumentation that precedes the midrashim. The Bavli’s presentation of the Aqedah occurs in the context of its discussion of Mishnah Sanhedrin 11:5, which discusses six categories of individuals under the general heading “the false prophet.” 12 The talmudic sugya examines each category of false prophet in turn by providing biblical examples. One of the categories listed is an individual who “disregards the words of a prophet.” 13 This category presents a peculiar problem. An individual is punished for listening to a false prophet, and also guilty for not heeding the words of a genuine prophet. But how is one to know the difference between the two? According to the Bavli, the true prophet, whom a Jew is obligated to obey, is an individual who has previously been “established” 14 as a prophet. Such a person is to be believed even if he does not give a sign of his authority. The Bavli offers the following argument to substantiate this claim: 52F

For if you do not say thus, how could Isaac have listened to Abraham on Mount Moriah? [And similarly] how could they have relied on Elijah on Mount Carmel and made an offering outside the temple? 15

In this sugya, Abraham and Elijah are paradigmatic examples of true prophets because people listened to them despite the extraordinary instructions they gave. The text makes clear that Elijah must have been a true prophet because the people offered sacrifices to God outside of the temple, which is in clear violation of the law. 16 The example of Abraham is somewhat more difficult to decipher. It is probable that the editors of this sugya envisioned Isaac as an active, have not found any studies that examine the midrashim in Bavli Sanhedrin as a unit. 12 Heb. ‫נביא השקר‬ 13 Heb. ‫המוותר על דברי נביא‬ 14 Heb. ‫מוחזק‬. 15 b. Sanhedrin 89b. All translations are my own, unless otherwise noted. I have used the Herzog manuscript as my base text, as I believe it offers the best reading of the sugya. 16 See Rashi’s commentary ad loc.

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

43

willing participant in the Aqedah, whose cooperation was rooted in the fact that he believed that Abraham had in fact received a divine command to sacrifice his son. Isaac’s trust is thus an example of the Bavli’s claim that someone who is “established” as a true prophet must be obeyed at all costs. What matters is not the content of the prophecy, but the stature and reputation of the individual conveying God’s message. No doubt the reader of this sugya is also meant to understand that an individual who does not have a reputation as a prophet must not be obeyed, even if what he says seems to be eminently reasonable. This conclusion is particularly noteworthy, given the Bavli’s emphasis on reason and learned argumentation. When it comes to prophecy, what matters is the man, not the message. It is with these ideas in mind that the reader is confronted with a sequence of midrashim on the narrative in Genesis 22. The following analysis will examine each midrash in turn, while also giving attention to the cumulative effect that they have on the reader. The first midrash reads as follows: And it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham. 17 Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Yose son of Zimra: “After the words of Satan…Satan said before the Holy One, Blessed be He, ‘This old man whom you graced with fruit of the womb at one-hundred years, did he not have one turtledove or one pigeon to offer before you from the entire feast that he made!?’ [God] said to him, ‘Did he do anything except on account of his son? If I say to him ‘Sacrifice your son before me’ he would sacrifice him immediately.’ Immediately, God tested Abraham.”

This midrash confronts a peculiar problem in the biblical narrative. God’s command to sacrifice Isaac comes without any explanation or justification. What provoked this test? The midrash suggests that the Aqedah took place in the aftermath of a confrontation between God and Satan. The rabbis did not invent this idea whole cloth. It is already found in the Book of Jubilees. In this narrative, the angel Translations of verses from the Hebrew Bible are from the NJPS translation unless otherwise noted. 17

44

MATTHEW HASS

Mastema, clearly a Satan-like figure, suggests that Abraham’s love of his new son, Isaac, outweighs his devotion to God. 18 He suggests, therefore, that God command Abraham to sacrifice Isaac in order to discover “whether he is faithful in everything in which you test him.” 19 While God takes up Mastema’s challenge, the author of Jubilees informs his readers that He only did so to humiliate His adversary, because “the Lord was aware that Abraham was faithful in every difficulty which he had told him.” 20 By including this detail, the author preserves the theological claim that God is omniscient. God did not test Abraham because He was unsure of the outcome, but because he wanted to humiliate Mastema. The midrash, while likewise envisioning a confrontation between God and Satan, differs from Jubilees in several key respects. First, Satan’s challenge is of an entirely different nature. 21 He states that Abraham has committed an affront by not offering a sacrifice on the occasion of his son’s birth. The charge, therefore, is one of impiety, 22 and there is no suggestion that Abraham values Isaac more than God. 23 Nevertheless, God still feels compelled to answer His adversary’s accusation. He commands the sacrifice of Isaac in order to prove to Satan that Abraham’s neglect to offer an animal sacrifice was just a momentary lapse, and did not stem from a lack of proper reverence. Thus, as in the Bible itself, it is ultimately God who conceives of the Aqedah. Additionally, unlike Jubilees, the midrash does not inform the reader that God knew all along that Abraham would obey. The omission of this detail preserves more tension in the story, and suggests that perhaps the confrontaFor this interpretation of Mastema’s challenge see Jon D. Levenson, The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son: The Transformation of Child Sacrifice in Judaism and Christianity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993), 177. 19 I quote from the translation found in Levenson, ibid. 20 The translation is from James C. Vanderkam, The Book of Jubilees (Leuven: Peeters, 1989), 1:105. 21 This is noted in Kister, “Observations,” 11. 22 Or perhaps a lack of gratitude. 23 Kister opines that because of this change, “the resulting midrash exhibits a slightly petty character.” See Kister, “Observations,” 11. 18

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

45

tion between God and Satan is not as one-sided as the reader might presume. In considering these differences, one sees that the rabbis put a distinctive slant on the “accusing angel” 24 motif that first appeared in the Second Temple period. Moshe Bernstein suggests that the “Rabbinic accounts are both contextually more satisfactory and theologically more justified than those in earlier works.” 25 It is true that the midrash accounts for the context of the Aqedah in the narrative in Genesis by explicitly invoking the events that transpired in the previous chapter. However, it is not obvious that the rabbinic presentation of the “accusing angel” motif is more theologically palatable than its parallel in Jubilees. God still gives a horrifying command to Abraham in order to prove Satan wrong. 26 In any event, by opening with this midrash, the editors of the sugya in the Bavli cast the Aqedah in a particular light. The heavenly sphere is brought into the foreground. God has a vested interest in proving Satan wrong, and He is an active participant in the heavenly conflict. As the next several midrashim show, the editors are interested in highlighting this tension, and focusing the reader on both the struggle between God and Satan, and Abraham’s key role in that conflict. The next midrash augments a statement of a rabbi from the Land of Israel in order to keep the focus on the battle between God and Satan. The interpretation is centered on the Hebrew phrase ‫נא‬-‫ קח‬in Genesis 22:2. The Bavli first quotes a statement of Rabbi Shimon son of Abba that “‫ נא‬is nothing other than the language of request.” 27 This interpretation is then illustrated by the following parable: 65F

I appropriate this label from Moshe J. Bernstein, “Angels at the Aqedah: A Study in the Development of a Midrashic Motif,” Dead Sea Discoveries 7:3 (2000), 266. 25 Bernstein, “Angels at the Aqedah,” 271. 26 The enduring theological problem is noted in Kalimi, “Binding,” 7. 27 ‫אין "נא" אלא לשון בקשה‬. I am unable to find an exact parallel to this statement in the Yerushalmi or Amoraic midrashim. However, a similar idea is found in Bereshit Rabbah 55:7. Therefore, I feel comfortable con24

46

MATTHEW HASS This may be compared to a king of flesh and blood, who had been faced with many wars, and who had one mighty and victorious warrior. One day, he was faced with a difficult war. He said to him [i.e., the warrior], “I beg of you, stand up for me in this war, so that people may not say that there was no substance 28 in the earlier ones.” Similarly, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Abraham, “I have tested you with many trials and you withstood them all. Now, withstand this trial for me so that they may not say that there was no substance in the previous ones.

David Stern notes that the rabbinic parable, also known as a mashal, “draws a series of parallels between a fictional story and the actual, ‘real-life’ situation to which the mashal is directed.” 29 However, these parallels are rarely made explicit, and the reader often needs to fill in details, in order to draw out the correspondence between the “fictional story” and the “‘real-life’ situation.” In the present case, it is clear that the king corresponds to God, and Abraham is His mighty warrior. The tests that Abraham had to endure are compared to wars, and the final test, the Aqedah, is the greatest war that he has had to face. God therefore entreats Abraham to stand firm in the current war as he has in the previous ones. The reason for this entreaty is particularly interesting. God is concerned that, should Abraham fail, “they” will say that the previous tests were not really tests at all. If this parable is removed from its present literary context, one could propose that the mysterious “they” refers to other humans. In the context of the present sugya, however, the reader has already been confronted with an interested third party: Satan. Therefore, it is not a huge leap for the reader to fill in that, in the present context, there is a much greater concern undercluding that while the attribution may be pseudepigraphic, the content of the statement is Palestinian in origin. 28 Heb. ‫ממש‬ 29 David Stern, “The Rabbinic Parable and the Narrative of Interpretation,” in Michael Fishbane, ed., The Midrashic Imagination: Jewish Exegesis, Thought, and History (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 83.

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

47

lying God’s words in the mashal. If Abraham fails, Satan will be proven right, and will emerge victorious in this cosmic duel. When seen in this light, the mention of wars at the beginning of the parable takes on new meaning. The Aqedah, in addition to being a test of Abraham’s obedience, is the site of a full-fledged war between God and Satan. Abraham, however, is not a mere after-thought, but God’s prized soldier, whose actions will determine which side emerges victorious. Thus, when this midrash is read back into the biblical text, the phrase ‫נא‬-‫ קח‬constitutes a plea from God that Abraham obey him and prove Satan wrong. The reader is not presented with Jubilees’ omniscient deity who patiently waits for his adversary’s humiliation. Rather, God needs Abraham in order to defeat Satan, and has a vested interest in motivating Abraham to succeed in this trial. The next midrash in the sugya emphasizes this point even further by offering a rather startling interpretation of the remainder of Genesis 22:2. The rabbis were bothered 30 by the long-winded statement “Take your son, your favored one, the one whom you love, Isaac…” 31 God could have simply said, “Take Isaac.” In order to rectify this difficulty, the rabbis imagined a larger conversation between God and Abraham. The beginning of the midrash, which is paralleled in Bereshit Rabbah, 32 reads as follows: 68F

69F

“Your son.” He [i.e., Abraham] said to Him, “I have two sons.” “Your favored one.” “This one is the favored of his mother, and 70F

By “bothered” I mean that this verse does not adhere to the rabbinic assumption of the verbal economy of the Torah. The midrashim show that the rabbis were sensitive to the literary function of this verse. 31 Gen. 22:2. The translation is based on the NJPS, but I have switched the English order so that it more accurately reflects the Hebrew. 32 Bereshit Rabbah 55:7. I am not sure what to conclude from the fact that in the Bavli Abraham’s responses to God are primarily in Hebrew, while in Bereshit Rabbah they are in Aramaic. 30

48

MATTHEW HASS this one is the favored of his mother.” “The one whom you love.” “I love them both.” “Isaac.” 33

Levenson notes that the midrash “demonstrates the step effect of the four terms that designate the victim of the slaughter commanded in Gen 22:2.” 34 There is a slow build-up from “son,” the most general term, to “Isaac,” the most specific. Where Bereshit Rabbah and the Bavli differ, however, is in their interpretation of the intention of this “step effect.” The former states that God did not “reveal it to him immediately” in order to “make him [i.e., Isaac] more beloved and to give him [i.e., Abraham] a reward for each utterance.” 35 In other words, each of the four terms heightens the intensity of the test, making it more difficult for Abraham to carry it out. It is seemingly for this reason that Abraham will receive a “reward for each utterance.” Bereshit Rabbah’s interpretation seems to reflect the plain sense of the narrative in Genesis, which goes to great lengths to heighten the intensity and difficulty of the act that Abraham has been commanded to perform. The Bavli’s interpretation of the verse is of a different sort entirely. God did not employ a slow build-up in order to increase the magnitude of the test and make it more difficult for Abraham. Rather, He did not immediately mention Isaac in order that “[Abraham’s] mind would not be unsettled.” 36 The meaning of this phrase is somewhat cryptic. The assumption seems to be that if God had simply said “take Isaac,” Abraham would have been so torn up emotionally that he would not have been able to obey the command even if he wanted to. God therefore employed a slow buildup in order to allow Abraham to slowly come to terms with the magnitude of the task that was set before him. In other words, God was not trying to increase the difficulty of the test, but to make it more bearable. I have based my translation on Levenson’s translation of the Bereshit Rabbah parallel in Levenson, Death and Resurrection, 127. I have had to make changes, in order to reflect the wording of the Bavli. 34 Levenson, Death and Resurrection, 127. 35 Ibid. 36 Heb. ‫כדי שלא תטרף דעתו‬ 33

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

49

The question that now arises is why the Bavli interprets Genesis 22:2 in this way. As noted above, the interpretation found in Bereshit Rabbah seems to adhere more closely to the plain sense of the biblical narrative. One possibility is that the redactors of this sugya were not comfortable with the notion that God tried to heighten Abraham’s pain. Perhaps, in their opinion, commanding the sacrifice of Isaac was traumatic enough, and they preferred to highlight that God had compassion on Abraham even during this difficult trial. More importantly, in the context of the broader struggle between God and Satan which the Bavli has highlighted, it makes sense that God would do what He could to make sure that Abraham completed the test successfully. This included presenting the command to sacrifice in such a way that Abraham could accept it without being overly distraught. At this point, the sugya in the Bavli skips forward in the biblical narrative to the middle of Genesis 22, when Abraham and Isaac are making their way up the mountain. The redactors present a midrash depicting a conversation between Satan and Abraham. This is a motif that appears in several rabbinic works, but has no antecedents in the literature of the Second Temple period. 37 While the specific exegetical function of this tradition is unclear, it fits well in the present sugya, which is concerned with the struggle between God and Satan. Abraham, previously depicted as God’s soldier, finally comes face to face with the heavenly adversary. The midrash can be conveniently divided into two parts, each one containing a different argument for why Abraham should ignore the command to sacrifice his son. The first section reads as follows: Satan stood ahead of him on the way and said to him, “Should he test you with something that will leave you weary? 38 See, you have encouraged many; you have strengthened falling hands. Your words have kept he who stumbles from falling. But now it overtakes you, it is too

As noted in Bernstein, “Angels at the Aqedah,” 276n30. Job 4:1. The NJPS translates this verse as “If one ventures a word with you, will it be too much?” I have tailored my translation to approximate how the reader of the Bavli is meant to understand this verse in its new context. 37 38

50

MATTHEW HASS much.” 39 He said to him, “I walk without blame.” 40 He said to him, “Is not your piety your folly?” 41 He said to him, “Think now, what innocent man ever perished?” 42

The dialogue in this section consists entirely of biblical quotations, but the choice of verses evinces remarkable sensitivity to the Aqedah narrative and the Abraham-cycle as a whole. Satan’s opening salvo comes from Eliphaz the Temanite’s opening speech in the fourth chapter of the Book of Job. The intertextual link between these verses and the Aqedah is provided by the opening word, ‫הנסה‬, which echoes the word ‫ נסה‬in Genesis 22:1. Thus, Satan begins by explicitly questioning Abraham’s response to God’s “test.” It is interesting that in their original context, these verses from Job are Eliphaz’s paraphrase of Job’s claim that he has suffered unjustly. Eliphaz himself thinks differently, and goes on to emphasize that while the righteous may suffer for some time, they will ultimately be rewarded. 43 In Satan’s mouth, however, these words have a different meaning. They are not a summary of an opposing position, but the divine adversary’s own claim. He suggests that Abraham has done nothing at all to deserve this treatment from God. He has behaved in the proper manner, and God has unjustifiably commanded him to sacrifice Isaac. This trial is simply too great to bear. Abraham, therefore, should not go through with it. This line of argumentation is somewhat ironic, as Satan initially provoked this test by suggesting that Abraham had not exhibited proper devotion to God. Thus Satan has, in a sense, been caught in his own lie. Additionally, a reader who is well-acquainted with the book of Job knows that Eliphaz is ultimately condemned by God for not “speaking the 81F

Job 4:3–5. Some parts of these verses are left out. Psalm 26:11. 41 Job 4:6. Heb. ‫הלא יראתך כסלתך‬. I have altered the NJPS translation as it seems likely that the Bavli is reading ‫ כסלה‬as “folly” or “stupidity,” as suggested already by the ‫מהרש"א‬. NJPS translates it as “confidence.” 42 Job 4:7. 43 See Job 4:7–11. 39 40

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

51

truth.” 44 Thus, both the content of Satan’s message and the specific words he uses serve to paint him as a liar. Rather than take Satan’s bait, Abraham responds with the words of Psalm 26, “I walk without blame.” This particular verse may have been chosen because of its resonance with God’s initial words to Abraham in Genesis 17:1 “Walk in My ways and be blameless.” 45 Once this allusion is noted, Abraham’s words take on additional meaning. His claim of blamelessness is not merely a statement of his confidence in his actions, but also a commitment to remain loyal to God and follow His ways. Therefore, it is incumbent upon him to steadfastly follow God’s command and sacrifice Isaac. Satan continues his attempt to dissuade Abraham by claiming that his piety is mere foolishness. The word translated as “piety,” ‫יראה‬, is a central motif in Genesis 22, where it is often translated “fear.” God ultimately spares Isaac because Abraham has proven, through his willingness to sacrifice his son, that he fears God. Thus, by instilling doubt regarding the virtues of Abraham’s “piety,” Satan is in effect questioning the very quality that will allow Abraham ultimately to succeed. Abraham, however, is not deterred. He invokes the theological tenet that the righteous will not ultimately suffer. In sum, despite Satan’s best attempts to dissuade him, Abraham continues to express his fidelity to God and affirm His justice. In the parallel to this midrash in Bereshit Rabbah, Satan gives up on Abraham at this point and turns his attention to Isaac. 46 The Bavli supplies a different continuation, which is conceptually linked with the halakhic context of the sugya: When he saw that [Abraham] was not listening to him, he said “A word came to me in stealth. 47 I heard this from behind the cur-

See Job 40:7: “The Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, ‘I am incensed at you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the truth about me.’” 45 Gen. 17:1. Heb. ‫התהלך לפני והיה תמים‬. 46 Bereshit Rabbah 56:4. 47 Job 4:12. 44

52

MATTHEW HASS tain, 48 ‘The sheep [will be] for the burnt offering, 49 [but] Isaac will not be a burnt offering.’” [Abraham] said to him, “This is the punishment of a liar, that even if he speaks the truth, one pay him any heed.” 50

Satan realizes that he cannot break Abraham’s faith in God’s justice. He therefore takes up a different tactic. He tells Abraham that he has heard from behind the “curtain” 51 that God has no intention of allowing Isaac to be sacrificed. It has already been decided that Abraham will sacrifice a sheep instead. The text does not make explicit why Satan expects this information to stop Abraham from carrying out the sacrifice. Perhaps the assumption is that Abraham, knowing it was decreed in advance that Isaac would live anyway, would see no reason to go ahead with a pointless exercise. Abraham’s final words, while rebuking Satan in one sense, also betray the fact that the divine adversary has mounted a convincing argument. Unlike in his previous responses, Abraham does not once again voice his confidence in God’s justice and his eagerness to perform the divine command. Rather, it seems that, were it not for a mere technicality, he would have dropped the knife, turned around, and headed for home. Abraham accepts the accuracy of Satan’s claim that “Isaac will not be a burnt offering.” Indeed, he explicitly states that Satan “speaks the truth.” However, he informs the divine adversary that, because he is a liar, he cannot be believed even when he speaks the truth. 52 As the midrash would have it, Abraham does not proceed up the mountain because of the flaws

Heb. ‫פרגוד‬. This phrase is actually a quotation from Genesis 22:8, where Abraham tells Isaac, “God will see to the sheep for the burnt offering…” 50 Heb. ‫אין משגיחין בו‬ 51 The “curtain” seems to be a partition between the earthly and heavenly realms. Elsewhere in the Bavli, it is clear that humans can hear authoritative heavenly messages from the other side of this curtain. See, for example, b. Hagigah 15a. 52 As noted above, at this point the attentive reader has already caught Satan in a lie. He told God that Abraham had committed an affront in order to provoke this “test,” but then told Abraham that he had done nothing to deserve this treatment from God. 48 49

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

53

in Satan’s argument, but rather because he cannot accept a liar’s testimony. It seems that, were it not for this legal technicality, Satan would have emerged victorious in his battle with God. The notion that a liar cannot be believed even if he speaks the truth brings the reader back to the “halakhic context” of this passage in the Bavli. As mentioned above, the redactors place these midrashim on the Aqedah in the middle of a discussion of the false prophet. The main legal principle at work in this sugya is that a prophet is only to be believed if he has been “established.” If an individual does not have such a reputation, the pious Jew must treat him as a false prophet in the absence of some sign to the contrary. The content of the prophet’s message is immaterial. Once one recalls these legal details, it is evident that Abraham’s conduct in the final midrash cited above corresponds to rabbinic halakhah. Satan delivers a prophecy that he heard from behind the “curtain”: Isaac will not be sacrificed. Abraham, for reasons that are not made clear, believes this prophecy to be accurate. However, he is obligated to reject Satan’s words because the divine adversary is “established” as a liar, not a prophet. In this way, Abraham is a model for how the Rabbinic Jew should properly encounter supposed words of prophecy. There is, however, another message in this presentation of the Aqedah that should not be ignored. As argued above, the redactors of the Bavli are particularly interested in highlighting the battle between God and Satan. The insertion of the parable concerning the king and his warrior clearly conveys the notion that Abraham’s trial is an instance of warfare in the heavenly realm. The final midrash examined above shows that Satan was dangerously close to victory. What ultimately guaranteed God’s triumph was not Abraham’s learned refutation of Satan’s arguments, but rather his fidelity to rabbinic halakhah. This is a bold statement in favor of the significance of the rabbinic project. In the hands of the Talmudic redactors, the Aqedah has become a kind of “halakhic drama.” 53 Abraham displays his “fear” of God by adhering to Rabbinic law in the most emotionally trying The presentation of Genesis 22 in the Bavli is thus similar to other traditions that “rabbinize” the biblical Abraham. 53

54

MATTHEW HASS

circumstance imaginable. Knowledge of rabbinic law has been moved to the center of this dramatic narrative, and indeed provides the means by which Abraham passed this most grueling test. The centrality of Torah to the Bavli’s reading of the Aqedah is cemented by the final midrash in our sequence, which takes the reader back to the beginning of the story and presents an alternative account of what initiated the “test”: Rabbi Levi said: After Ishmael’s words to Isaac. Ishmael said to Isaac, “I am greater than you in mitzvot, for you were circumcised at eight days, but I was circumcised at thirteen years.” He replied, “You are bothering me over one limb? If the Holy One blessed be He says to me, ‘sacrifice yourself before me,’ I would do so!” Immediately, God tested Abraham.

Like the other midrashim in our sequence, Rabbi Levi’s statement has a close parallel in Bereshit Rabbah. 54 In that version, Isaac and Ishmael argue over which of them is more beloved. 55 In the Bavli’s version, Ishmael claims that he is “greater in mitzvot” because he was circumcised at 13 years of age, when presumably he could have refused to be circumcised. Isaac, being circumcised at eight days, is not as “great” because he was, in effect, an unwilling participant. This need to prove himself “great” in mitzvot leads Isaac to claim that were God to ask him to make the ultimate sacrifice, he would willingly comply. This midrash is interesting in many respects, but for the present purposes it is important to note that it closes the sequence in the Bavli by explicitly bringing the issue of mitzvot to the center of the Aqedah narrative. In doing so, it cements the Aqedah’s status as a “halakhic drama.” The test was initiated because of doubts regarding the extent of the protagonists’ devotion to God. 56 Abraham passed the test because of his ability to call upon his knowledge of rabbinic halakhah in the most trying of circumstances. Bereshit Rabbah 55:4. ‫חביב‬. 56 Whether it was Ishmael’s doubts regarding Isaac, or Satan’s doubts regarding Abraham. 54 55

THE AQEDAH IN THE BAVLI

55

This re-reading of the Aqedah narrative as a whole is only revealed when the reader considers the Bavli’s juxtaposition of individual midrashim in their present “halakhic context.” I do not wish to claim that sequential readings of similar midrashic blocks will necessarily yield productive results. However, careful editorial work cannot be dismissed out of hand either. A careful, contextual reading of midrashim in the Bavli can help fully illuminate the literary and theological artistry of the Talmud’s redactors. In the present example, such a reading uncovered an understanding of the Aqedah as a “halakhic drama,” where knowledge of rabbinic law ultimately allows Abraham to pass this harrowing test. This novel presentation of the narrative as a whole should take its rightful place in the rich history of interpretation of this central biblical episode.

‘SCRIPTURE INTERPRETS ITSELF’ IN RASHBAM’S TORAH COMMENTARY JONATHAN JACOBS BAR ILAN UNIVERSITY INTRODUCTION

Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam, 1080–1160 approx.) propelled the usage of intra-biblical exegesis to its height. His Torah commentary is replete with quotes of verses which assist him in interpreting Scripture based on other biblical sources. This method is employed in most of his Torah commentaries, and Rashbam utilized this tool more than any other commentator in his era. The use of verses from all areas of Scripture as exegetical tools reflects Rashbam’s approach whereby Scripture should be understood from within itself, without external aids. 1 * I would like to acknowledge the generous support of Beit Shalom, Kyoto, Japan, in preparing this research. All quotations from Rashbam’s commentary derive from Rosin’s edition—Rashbam, Perush ha-Torah, D. Rosin (ed.), (Breslau, 1882)—unless otherwise stated. The English rendering of the commentary is based on Lockshin’s edition, with modifications as deemed appropriate for the present chapter. 1 Rashbam followed in the footsteps of his colleague R. Joseph Kara who declared this in his commentary to I Sam. 1:17. Regarding R. Joseph Kara’s methodology on this topic, see Rabbi Joseph Kara’s Commentary on Job, Moshe M. Ahrend (ed.), (Jerusalem, 1988), 63–67 (Heb). Regarding Rashbam’s methodology on this topic, see Moshe Greenberg, “The Relation between the Commentaries of Rashi and Rashbam on the Torah,” Isaac Leo Seeligmann Volume—Essays on the Bible and the Ancient World, ii, A.

57

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The verses cited by Rashbam can be classified into three categories. For convenience, we will refer to the verse Rashbam is dealing with as “the verse in question” and the additional verse cited by Rashbam will be referred to as “the cited verse”. References cited as support The most common usage of the citation is in instances where the interpretation of the verse in question stands on its own, and the cited verse supports his commentary but does not introduce any previously unknown details. The cited verse is easier to understand than the verse in question, and thus supports the explanation. In such instances, the cited verse is not directly related to the verse in question from a content or topical perspective, but merely presents an identical phenomenon or interpretation. In most cases of this type, Rashbam preceded the cited verse with the words ‫( כמו‬like) or ‫( כדכתיב‬as it is written). This category includes over five hundred cases. For example, Rashbam’s commentary on Genesis 25:22 reads: '‫ כדכתיב 'לדרש את ה‬,‫ אל הנביאים שבאותן הימים‬- '‫לדרש את ה‬ ‫( וכתיב 'כי יבא אלי העם לדרש את ה'' )שמ' יח‬8 ‫מאתו' )מל"א כב‬ .(15

“Lidrosh—to inquire of the Lord: From the prophets of those days, as in the phrase (I Kings 22:8) lidrosh et yhwh meʾoto— ‘through whom we can inquire of the Lord’, and the phrase (Ex. 18:15), ‘idrosh et yhwh—[the people come to me] to inquire of the Lord”.

Rofe and Y. Zakovitch (eds.), (Jerusalem, 1983), 566 (Heb); Moshe M. Ahrend, “The Concept ‘Peshuto Shellamiqra’’ in the Making,” The Bible in the Light of its Interpreters—Sarah Kamin Memorial Volume, S. Japhet (ed.), (Jerusalem, 1994), 248 (Heb); Morris Bernard Berger, The Torah Commentary of Rabbi Samuel Ben Meir, diss. (Harvard University, 1982) 22–33; Morris Bernard Berger, “Rashbam’s attitude toward Midrash,” in “Open Thou Mine Eyes…”—Essays on Aggadah and Judaica Presented to Rabbi William G. Braude, H.J. Blumberg, B. Braude, B. H. Mehlman (eds.), (New Jersey, 1992), 22.

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Rashbam explained that Rebecca sought out God by means of a prophet, despite the fact that this is not mentioned explicitly in the text. This interpretation stands even in the absence of support from the verses cited from I Kings and Exodus, and there is no connection between the content of the verse in question and the cited verses. The purpose of the cited verses is to demonstrate additional instances in which seeking out God is accomplished through prophets, and in this way, it supports the interpretation of the verse in question. 2 References for the purpose of applying the commentary In these cases as well, the commentary stands on its own, and the cited verse is not connected topically with the verse in question. However, Rashbam’s goal was not to provide support for the present interpretation; it was to apply his novel interpretation of the verse in question, and his novel interpretation of the verse in question is applied to the cited verse as well. In this category, Rashbam usually prefaced the cited verse with the word: ‫“( וכן‬and also”). This category includes about ninety cases. For example, Rashbam’s commentary on Num. 18:19: '‫ וכן 'לדוד ולזרעו ברית מלח‬.‫ נראה לי לשון קיום‬- ‫ברית מלח‬ ‫ אבל 'לא תשבית מלח ברית‬.‫( כי פתרונם לפי עניינם‬5 ‫)דה"ב יג‬ ‫ ברית קיום‬,‫ ברית מלח‬.‫( מדבר ]ב[מלח ממש‬13 ‫אלהיך' )וי' ב‬ .‫ועומד לדורות‬ In most cases, Rashbam used a cited verse to explain difficult words and phrases. Rashbam wrote of this category: ‫דרך קצרה יש לנו‬ ‫ כשישגה המדקדק בדקדוק תיבה‬.‫להורות לפני תועי בינה ללמוד תיבה מחברתה‬ ‫אחת]…[ ידמה לה תיבות ה פ ש ו ט ו ת ל ו ודומות לאותה תיבה וממנה יבין‬ ‫משפט התיבה אשר ישגה לעמוד על אמיתתה‬ “There is a quick way of instructing the misguided as to how [the meaning] of one word may be extrapolated from [that of] another. When one examines the precise grammar of one word… there will be other words that are forms of it and similar to it, and from this one can understand the meaning of the word whose essence he is trying to grasp”. Dayyaqut MeRabbenu Shemuel [Ben Meir (Rashbam)], Ronela Merdler (ed.), (Jerusalem 1999), 18 (Heb). 2

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JONATHAN JACOBS “A covenant of ‘salt’ (berit melah): It appears to me [that ‘salt’ here] means ‘lasting’. So one should also interpret the verse (II Chr. 13:5) “gave David kingship—to him and his sons—by a covenant of ‘salt’ [i.e. by an everlasting covenant]. One must interpret [the word ‘salt’ in] those verses in a contextually appropriate manner. But [the word ‘salt’ in the verse] (Lev. 2:13) ‘do not omit the ‘salt’ of your covenant with God’ means salt, literally. A covenant of salt means a covenant that continues and lasts over the generations.”

The words berit melah in the cited verse are just as difficult to understand as in the verse in question. Rashbam took advantage of the opportunity whereby he presented his novel interpretation of the phrase berit melah in the verse in question and applies the same interpretation to the cited verse from II Chronicles as well. References serving as proof for the interpretation As opposed to the first two paragraphs, which presented cases where no topical connection exists between the verse in question and the cited verse, many cases exist in which there is a topical connection between the two verses. In such instances, Rashbam’s commentary on the verse in question does not stand on its own, and the cited verse sheds light on the verse in question and does not merely support it; at times, it even proves Rashbam’s interpretation. Despite the central role intra-biblical exegesis plays in Rashbam’s commentaries, it appears that until recently, appropriate attention has not been devoted to this component of his exegesis. In recent years, I have devoted several studies to this important issue. The present article was preceded by two articles which were devoted to the study of the first two categories of cited verses, 3 two artiJonathan Jacobs, “‘Extrapolating One Word from Another’— Rashbam as an Interpreter of the Bible on its Own Terms,” Shnaton—an Annual for Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies 17 (2007), 215–231 (Heb); Jonathan Jacobs, “Inner-Biblical Exegesis in the Commentary of Rashbam on the Bible—Rashbam’s Terminology in Referring to a Cited Verse,” REJ 168 (2009), 463–480. The first article presented the two for3

“SCRIPTURE INTERPRETS ITSELF”

61

cles which dealt with unique phenomena relating to the third category, 4 as well as an article which dealt with intra-biblical exegesis in Rashbam’s commentary on Ecclesiastes. 5 The present article is therefore the last in the series of articles on this topic, and it will present the third category of cited verses mentioned above. Before moving to the actual discussion I would like to preface it with a methodological comment. One of the criticisms I received after publishing the above articles was that the term “intra-biblical exegesis” is unsuitable for referring to an exegete’s utilization of verses for the purpose of interpreting other verses. I use the term “intra-biblical exegesis” according to Zakovitch’s definition: “When using the term ‘intra-biblical exegesis’ we refer to the light one Scriptural text sheds on another, whether it is to solve a problem that arises in a close or distant context, or in order to adapt the text to the beliefs and opinions of the exegete. The explanatory text may be distant from the explained text, adjacent to it, or even within it”. It appears to me that this definition does justice in describing Rashbam’s exegetical act when using one Scriptural text in order to mer categories and the differences between them. The second article presented the methodological terminology employed by Rashbam with regard to the various categories. 4 Jonathan Jacobs, “The ‘Principle of Anticipation’ in Rashbam’s Commentary on the Torah,” Studies in Bible and Exegesis, Vol. 8, Presented to Elazar Touitou, S. Vargon, A. Frisch, M. Rachimi (eds.), (Jerusalem, 2008), 451–479 (Heb); Jonathan Jacobs, “Retrospection as an Exegetical Device in Rashbam’s Torah Commentary,” Iggud—Selected Essays in Jewish Studies, vol. 1, (Jerusalem 2008), 125–142 (Heb). In these articles, I examined two literary issues—the principle of anticipation and the principle of retrospection—for which Rashbam used cited verses. A close topical connection exists between the explained and cited verses both with regard to verses related to the anticipation principle as well as those related to the retrospection principle. 5 Jonathan Jacobs, “Inner-Biblical Exegesis in Rashbam’s Commentary on Qohelet,” It’s better to hear the rebuke of the wise than the song of fools (Qoh 7:5): Proceedings of the Midrash Section, Society of Biblical Literature, Vol. 6, W. D. Nelson and R. Ulmer (eds.), (Piscataway, NJ, 2015), 167–188.

62

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shed light on another, so that I think it is justified to use the term “intra-biblical exegesis” in connection with Rashbam’s exegesis. 6 As mentioned, the third category is unique with regard to two issues: Firstly, it is unique in the topical connection between the verse in question and the cited verse, as opposed to the first two categories where no such connection exists. Its second uniqueness is in the fact that the cited verse proves Rashbam’s commentary and does not merely support it. I have chosen a limited number of examples out of the hundreds of instances where Rashbam used this method. Rashbam used intra-biblical exegesis both to explain difficult words and to provide innovative content and topical interpretations. 7 To prove his commentaries, Rashbam frequently utilized cited verses that are adjacent to the verse in question, or cited verses located in an adjacent passage, or in a parallel passage; at times, he even employed verses from entirely different sections of Scripture.

See Yair Zakovitch, An Introduction to Inner-Biblical Interpretation, (Even Yehuda, 1992), 9 (Heb). Of course, there are various definitions for this term, and much has been written about the topic in recent years. For example, see John A. Sanders, Canon and Community, A Guide to Canonical Criticism, (Philadelphia, 1984); Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel, (Oxford, 1985); David Noel Freedman, The Unity of the Hebrew Bible, (Ann Arbor, 1991) as well as the collection of articles Reading between Texts: Intertextuality and the Hebrew Bible, Danna Nolan Fewell (ed.), (Louisville, 1992). 7 In an article dealing with the two first categories (Jacobs, “Extrapolating One Word”) I demonstrated the cited verses in three types of commentaries: Linguistic commentaries; Content and meaning commentaries; literary perspectives. This follows Japhet’s classification: The Commentary of Rashbam on Qoheleth, edited and translated by S. Japhet and R. Salters, (Jerusalem, 1985), 30 (Heb). In the present article, I will demonstrate linguistic commentaries and content and meaning commentaries, but I did not find cited verses which prove literary perspectives in the verse in questions. 6

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CITED VERSES PROVING WORD EXPLANATIONS

We will begin with several examples of cited verses which prove Rashbam’s word explanations. At times, Rashbam made use of a quote that appears immediately following the verse in question. For example, regarding the words Jacob said to Judah (Gen. 49:8) “You, O Judah, your brother shall praise (yodukha)” Rashbam wrote: ‫ אלא לפי שגינה את הראשונים‬.‫המפרש ישבחוך אחיך שטות בידו‬ ‫ אמר ליהודה אבל אתה יתנו‬,‫ונטל מלכות מראובן ופיזר שמעון ולוי‬ ‫ כ מ ו ש מ ו כ י ח ס ו ף ה פ ס ו ק‬.‫לך אחיך הוד מלכות‬ .‫וישתחוו לך בני אביך‬

“Whoever interprets [yodukha] to mean they shall praise you, has interpreted foolishly. Rather, since he [Jacob] chastised the previous [brothers], taking the kingship from Reuben and scattering Simeon and Levi, he said to Judah, ‘to you, however, your brothers shall give the splendor (hod) of kingship.’ This interpretation is proven by the end of the verse, ‘Your father’s sons shall bow low to you’”.

Rashbam rejected the interpretation (whose source is unknown to us) whereby the word yodukha means “they shall praise you”. His novel interpretation is that yodukha means “they shall crown you”. He invokes proof for his original explanation from the conclusion of the verse, in which Jacob promises Judah that his brothers will prostrate themselves before him. 8 An additional example: Regarding the difficult word man (Exodus 16:15), Rashbam wrote: ‫ וגם דונש‬,‫ לפי שלא ידעו מה הוא‬- ‫ויאמרו איש אל אחיו מן הוא‬ .‫ כ י ס ו ף ה מ ק ר א מ ו כ י ח כי לא ידעו מה הוא‬,‫פתר כן‬

“They said to one another ‫[ מן הוא‬which means “what is it?”]: because they did not know what it was. Dunash also explains

An identical explanation of the word yodu is cited in Rashbam’s name in Arugath Habosem. See: Elazar Touitou, Exegesis in Perpetual Motion—Studies in the Pentateuchal Commentary of Rabbi Samuel Ben Meir, (Ramat Gan, 2003), 222 (Heb). 8

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JONATHAN JACOBS the verse that way. The continuation of the verse, ‘for they did not know what it was’ proves [that that is the correct interpretation of the phrase ‫”]מן הוא‬.

In Rashbam’s opinion, the word man means “what” (ma, as in the Egyptian language), 9 and he invokes proof for his interpretation from the conclusion of the verse which relates the amazement of the Children of Israel who did not know what the manna was. In other instances of word explanations, Rashbam found support in more distant verses. For example, Rashbam explained the word ‫ פירושו לא יכלו‬- ‫“( וילאו‬so that they were helpless to find the entrance”) (Gen. 19:11). Later, he takes the opportunity to apply his explanation to another verse: ‫( – לא יכלו‬18 ‫וכן ונלאו מצרים לשתות מים מן היאור )שמ' ז‬ ‫ ו כ ן‬,‫לשתות מאחר שהיו דם‬ .(21 ‫ מ ו כ י ח ל ב ס ו ף ולא יכלו לשתות ממי היאור )שמ' ז‬10

“Similarly, (Ex. 7:18), ‘venil’u to drink the water of the Nile’ means that they were unable to drink it since the water had become blood. This interpretation is proven by the explicit statement there, further on (Ex. 7:21), ‘They could not (velo’ yakhelu)’ drink water from the Nile’”.

The cited verse proves Rashbam’s novel explanation of the difficult word. These examples also prove the extensive use Rashbam made of context in interpreting Scripture. 11 Rashbam was unfamiliar with ancient Egyptian, and it is possible that he retrieved this information from Midrash Leqah Tov. See: Meir I. Lockshin, Rashbam on the Torah, (Jerusalem, 2009), 231 n. 68 (Heb); Jonathan Jacobs, “To what Degree was Rashbam Familiar with Midrash Leqah Tov?” Ta-Shma: Studies in Judaica in Memory of Israel M. Ta-Shma, Avraham Reiner (ed.), (Allon Shevut, 2011), 492–493 (Heb). 10 This application belongs to the second category of cited verses mentioned above. 11 Regarding the importance of learning from context in Rashbam’s commentaries, see Berger, The Torah Commentary, 53–55; Sara Japhet, Dor 9

“SCRIPTURE INTERPRETS ITSELF”

65

EXPLANATIONS OF CONTENT AND MEANING: THE CITED VERSE IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE VERSE IN QUESTION

In many instances, Rashbam used cited verses as proof for interpretation of content and meaning. At times, the cited verse is a direct continuation of the verse in question. For example, regarding the verse: “and I will break your proud glory (geʾon uzkhem)” (Lev. 26:19) Rashbam wrote: ‫ וכדכתיב 'גאון שבעת‬,(26 ‫כדכתיב 'בשברי לכם מטה לחם' )להלן‬ .(49 ‫לחם היה לה' )יח' טז‬ ‫ כדכתיב 'הנני מחלל את מקדשי גאון‬,‫ואגדה הוא בית המקדש‬ .(21 ‫עוזכם' )יח' כד‬ ‫ ש כ ך מ ו כ י ח ס ו ף ה מ ק ר א‬,‫ולפי הפשט כמו שפירשתי‬ .'‫'ונתתי את שמיכם' וגו‬

“I will break your powerful pride: [This refers to causing famine conditions in the land] as it is written (vs. 26), ‘I will break your staff of bread’, and it is written (Ezek. 16:49) ‘She had the pride (‫ )גאון‬of having plenty of bread’.

According to an aggadah, the phrase [‘your powerful pride’] means the Temple. [This interpretation is based on the similarity of our verse to the verse in Ezekiel (24:21), where] it is written ‘I am going to destroy my temple, your powerful pride’ (‫)מקדשי גאון עזכם‬. However, the plain meaning of Scripture is as I have explained it. The end of [our] verse proves [that the verse is referring to agricultural desolation, not to the destruction of the Temple, for it reads]: ‘I will make your skies [like iron]…’”

Rashbam suggested that breaking “your powerful pride” means breaking the staff of bread, and invokes two cited verses—one is from later in the passage, while the other is from Ezekiel. Both verses connect the verse in question to the concept of bread: The dor u-parshanav, Collected Studies In Biblical Exegesis, (Jerusalem, 2008), 97– 100 (Heb).

66

JONATHAN JACOBS

first connects shever and bread, while the second connects geʾon with bread. Rashbam then mentions the Sages’ explanation whereby the verse is referring to the destruction of the Temple. He invoked a convincing proof for this explanation as well from the book of Ezekiel, where the verse clearly states that “your powerful pride” refers to the Temple. 12 It appears that because Rashbam identified cited verses that support his own explanation as well as that of the Sages, he concluded his interpretation of the verse with a quote from the verse in question, from which he provided decisive proof that the verse is relating to physical distress and not to the distress of the Temple’s destruction.

THE CITED VERSE ADJACENT TO THE VERSE IN QUESTION

At times, the cited verse is located in adjacency to the verse in question, following it in the same passage. The following are two examples from the passage relating to the purchase of the Cave of Machpelah (Gen. 23). After Sarah’s death, Abraham sought out a location that would serve as a burial plot for her grave. Abraham turned to the Hittites, saying: “I am a resident alien among you; grant (tenu) me a burial site among you, that I may remove my dead for burial” (Gen. 23:4). It appears that Rashbam found it difficult that Abraham turned to all the Hittites and not directly to Ephron son of Zohar (as he would later in verses 8–9), and an additional difficulty was why Abraham asked the Hittites to give him the burial plot rather than asking to purchase it. Rashbam explained: ‫ הניחו לי לקנות קרקע כאן ותתרצו אתם יושבי‬- ‫תנו לי אחוזת קבר‬ ‫ כי אחוזת קבר אין יכול‬,‫העיר להניח לי לקבור בה מתי ממשפחתי‬ .‫להיות אלא ברצון כל בני העיר‬ ‫ו כ ן מ ו כ י ח ל פ נ י נ ו כשנתן אברהם הכסף לעפרון ויקם‬ ‫( וקם לו‬20-17 ‫לאברהם למקנה ואחרי כן קבר אברהם )בר' כג‬ .‫לאחוזת קבר מאת כל בני חת‬

“Grant me a burial site: I.e., allow me to buy land here and you, the townspeople, permit me to bury therein my dead, i.e., 12

Sifra ad loc.; the cited verse already appears in the Midrash.

“SCRIPTURE INTERPRETS ITSELF”

67

the dead from my family. Land can be used as a burial site only with the permission of all the townspeople.

This principle is proven below (verses 17–20). First, when Abraham gave the money, Ephron’s field passed to Abraham as a possession; then ‘Abraham buried Sarah’ and then it ‘passed to Abraham as a burial site, with the approval of all the children of Heth’”.

Rashbam claimed that before the actual burial, two stages must occur: Firstly, the purchase, with money, of a plot of land from the landowners. Secondly, the land is converted into a burial plot. For the second stage, as opposed to the first, it was necessary to obtain the acquiescence of all the Sons of Het. That is why Abraham asked all the Sons of Het to convert a plot of land into a burial plot. 13 Rashbam provided proof for his explanation from the cited verses which detail both stages. 14 Later in the episode, Abraham makes his request in detail as follows: “Let him sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns, which is at the edge of his land. Let him sell it to me, at the full price, for a burial site in your midst” (Gen. 23:9). The name of the cave, Machpelah, requires explanation. Rashbam wrote: ‫ כל הבקעה קרויה מכפלה‬,‫מערת המכפלה‬ ,(‫ י‬,‫כ מ ו 'ככר הירדן' )בר' יג‬ .(‫ יז‬,‫ו כ ן מ ו כ י ח ל פ נ י נ ו 'שדה עפרון אשר במכפלה' )בר' כג‬

“The cave of Machpelah: Machpelah is the name of the entire valley [not the name of the cave], like the phrase (Gen. 13:10),

Rashbam presented his proof yet again while explaining the cited verses. See his commentary on Gen. 23:18. 14 Touitou, Exegesis in Perpetual Motion, 152, is of the opinion that this verse is related to Rashbam’s principle of anticipation. However, one of the conditions for the existence of an anticipating verse is that the superfluous anticipating verse sheds light on the difficult verse (see Jacobs, “Principle of Anticipation,” 453). Here, the situation is reversed: The later verse is the one that sheds light on the earlier one, as Rashbam wrote explicitly: “this principle is proven below”, so that this verse should not be viewed as being related to the anticipation principle. 13

68

JONATHAN JACOBS kikkar ha-yarden—‘the plain of the Jordan.’ This interpretation is proven below by the phrase (v. 17), ‘Ephron’s land in Machpelah’”.

Rashbam suggested a “literal” explanation as an alternative to the explanation offered by the Sages and Rashi. 15 In his opinion, the word Machpelah refers to a more extensive area and is not the name of the cave, or in other words: The cave is located in the area of Machpelah. Rashbam cited two verses as a basis for his commentary, one as support and one as proof: As support, Rashbam offered an analogy to a verse that is not topically connected to the verse in question: The phrase kikar ha’yarden can be explained as a plain located in the area of the Jordan. Similarly, the phrase ‘Cave of Machpelah’ can be understood to mean a cave located in the area of Machpelah. This cited verse belongs to the first category mentioned above. Rashbam offers proof for his commentary from the verse “Ephron’s land in Machpelah”. This cited verse is closely related to the verse in question, and proves Rashbam’s explanation of this verse, since it demonstrates that the word Machpelah does not describe the cave, but rather the entire area. In some instances, Rashbam utilized the cited verse, not as support for his commentary but in order to reject an alternative interpretation. For example, regarding the verse “she sat down befetah ʿenayim” (Gen. 38:14) Rashbam wrote: ‫ בשער של פרשת דרכים שהכל עוברים ונראים לעינים‬- ‫בפתח עינים‬ .‫דרך שם‬ '‫ ש ה ר י כ ת ו ב ל פ נ י נ ו 'היא ָבעינים‬,‫והמפרשו ֵשם עיר טועה‬ ,‫ חטף‬- ‫ הבי"ת‬,'‫ ואילו היה ֵשם עיר היה לו לומר ' ְבעינים‬,(21 ‫)להלן‬ .‫ ַבירושלים‬,‫ ַביריחו‬,‫שלא מצינו שיאמר ַבביתאל‬ “Befetah ʿenayim: At the gate of the crossroads where many people go by and can be seen. He who interprets ʿenayim as the name of a city is mistaken, for below the form baʿenayim (v. 21) appears. If it were a place name, it would be vocalized

Rashi (following the Sages, Eruvin 53a) “a room with an upper level on top of it; another interpretation: it had multiples of couples”. 15

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69

beʿenayim, with a sheva under the bet.—One never finds [a form like] ba-betʾel or ba-yeriho or ba-yerushalayim.”

Rashbam rejected the explanation of ʿenayim as the name of a city, by providing a cited verse appearing later in the passage. 16

THE CITED VERSE IS DISTANT FROM THE VERSE IN QUESTION

At times, the cited verse invoked by Rashbam as proof for his commentaries is not located in proximity to the verse in question, but several chapters away. The following are two examples. Ex. 12:17 reads: “You shall observe [the commandment of] the matzot, for on this very day I brought your ranks out of the Land of Egypt; you shall observe this day throughout the ages as an institution for all time”. The question arises: What is the connection between the beginning of the verse and the rest of it, namely, how does the Exodus serve as the reasoning for observing the commandment of the matzot? Rashbam is the only one of the classical commentators who related to this question, resolving the difficulty by using a cited verse: ‫ ולא הספיק בצק להחמיץ‬,'‫כי בעצם היום הזה הוצאתי וגו‬ Razin and Lockshin thought that the source of this interpretation is in the Talmud (bSotah 10a). See Perush ha-Torah, Rashbam, D. Razin (ed.), (Breslau, 1882), 54 n. 4; Lockshin, Rashbam on the Torah, 117 n. 50. However, it appears to me that the way Rashbam phrases his words indicates that he did not relate to the Sages’ statement at all. Rashbam methodically refers to the Sages as ‫ חכמים‬or ‫ רבותינו‬and not anonymously as ‫והמפרשו‬. The sharp way he phrases his words: ‘He who interprets […] is mistaken’ is incongruent with Rashbam’s attitude toward the Sages. Leqah Tov offered two derash explanations of this verse and later wrote: “and there are those who say that petah ʿenayim is the name of a place”. Ibn Ezra also explained “Befetah ʿenayim —the name of a place”, so it appears that Rashbam is arguing with Ibn Ezra or with Leqah Tov. See Jonathan Jacobs, “Does Rashbam’s Commentary on the Torah Acknowledge the Commentaries of Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra?” JJS 61 (2010), 298–299, Jacobs, “To what Degree,” 486. 16

70

JONATHAN JACOBS ‫כ ד כ ת ' 'ויאפו את הבצק אשר הוציאו ממצרים עוגות מצות כי לא‬ .(39 ‫חמץ כי גורשו וגו' )שמ' יב‬

“For on this very day I brought your ranks out, etc.: and their dough did not have time to leaven, as it is written (12:39) ‘and they baked unleavened cakes (matzot) of the dough that they had taken out of Egypt, since they had been driven out [of Egypt and could not delay]’.”

The cited verse reveals new details regarding the baking of matzot which clarify the connection between the commandment to preserve the matzot and the fact of the Exodus. Since the Israelites did not have time to bake bread, they baked matzoh, and therefore, the baking of matzot constitutes a recollection of the Exodus. At the outset of his commentary on the book of Numbers (1:1) Rashbam was troubled by the following question: Why does Scripture give “the Wilderness of Sinai” as the location of the Children of Israel instead of “Mount Sinai”, since they will not leave Mount Sinai until chapter 10? Rashbam wrote: ‫ כל הדברות שנאמרו‬- ‫במדבר סיני באהל מועד באחד לחדש השני‬ ‫ אבל‬.‫בשנה הראשונה קודם שהוקם המשכן כת' בהן בהר סיני‬ ‫משהוקם המשכן באחד לחדש בשנה השנייה לא יאמר בהר סיני‬ .‫אלא במדבר סיני באהל מועד‬ ‫ו כ ן מ ו כ י ח ל פ נ י נ ו ד כ ת ' 'ואלה תולדות אהרן ומשה‬ ‫ קודם שהוקם המשכן אז‬,(1 ‫ביום דבר את משה בהר סיני' )במ' ג‬ ‫היו תולדות אהרן ארבעה 'ואלה שמות בני אהרן נדב ואביהוא‬ ‫ אבל לסוף בשנה שנייה שהוקם המשכן‬,(2 ‫ואלעזר ואיתמר' )במ' ג‬ ‫ לפי שלבסוף כשהוקם המשכן בשנה שנייה‬,‫לא היו כי אם שנים‬ ‫ במדבר‬,(4 ‫נאמר 'וימת נדב ואביהוא לפני ה' במדבר סיני' )במ' ג‬ ‫סיני היו ארבעה ולבסוף שניים כי בו ביום שהוקם אהל מועד מתו נדב‬ .‫ואביהוא‬

[The Lord spoke to Moses] in the wilderness of Sinai in the Tent of Meeting on the first day of the second month [in the second year following the Exodus]: Whenever divine communication occurred in the first year [following the Exodus] before the erection of the Tabernacle, the text writes that it took place ‘at Mount Sinai’. But after the Tabernacle was erected— on the first day of the [first] month in the second year after the Exodus—the text does not say [that divine communication oc-

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71

curred] ‘at Mount Sinai’ but rather ‘in the wilderness of Sinai in the Tent of Meeting’.

This [distinction—between the implications of the two phrases ‘at Mount Sinai’ and ‘in the wilderness of Sinai’] is proven below. It is written (3:1) ‘These are the descendants of Aaron and Moses on the day that the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai’. The time when Aaron had four sons was before the Tabernacle was erected, [as the next verse there (3:2) says,] ‘These were the names of Aaron’s sons: Nadab, the first born, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar’. But later, once the Tabernacle was erected in the second year, he had only two sons. For later, once the Tabernacle was erected in the second year, it is written (3:4) ‘Nadab and Abihu died before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai’. At Mount Sinai they [=Aaron’s children] numbered four. Later there were only two, because Nadab and Abihu died on the very day that the Tabernacle was erected.

In Rashbam’s opinion, both descriptions, “At Mount Sinai” and “In the wilderness of Sinai” are unrelated to the departure from Mount Sinai, but rather, are influenced by the erection of the Tabernacle. Before the erection of the Tabernacle, Scripture uses “at Mount Sinai”. After its erection, it uses “in the wilderness of Sinai”; this explains why the book of Numbers begins with the words “in the wilderness of Sinai”. Rashbam proves his claim with the help of cited verses: “These are the descendants of Aaron and Moses on the day that the Lord spoke to Moses at Mount Sinai. These were the names of Aaron’s sons: Nadab, the first born, and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar…and Nadab and Abihu died by the will of the Lord when they offered alien fire before the Lord in the wilderness of Sinai, and they left no sons…” (Num. 3:1–4). Rashbam claimed that Nadab and Abihu died before the Israelites left Mount Sinai, and in any case, Scripture names the wilderness of Sinai as the location of their death. The detail that has changed is the ceremony of the erection of the Tabernacle (when the deaths of Nadab and Abihu occurred) and it follows that the

72

JONATHAN JACOBS

erection of the Tabernacle changes the description of location from “Mount Sinai” to “the wilderness of Sinai”. 17

THE CITED VERSE AND VERSE IN QUESTION APPEAR IN DIFFERENT BOOKS

Rashbam did not shy away from proving his commentaries with the help of cited verses located a great distance away from the verse in question. In such instances, as opposed to the previous cases, the verse in question and the cited verse deal with the same topic, but there is no close topical relationship between them. The following are a number of cases in which Rashbam made use of cited verses from the Prophets and Writings as proof for his Torah commentaries. Regarding the instructions given to Lot by the angels, “Do not look behind you” (Gen. 19:17), Rashbam wrote: ‫ גם‬,‫ ועוד כי המביט אחריו מתעכב בדרך‬,‫בשביל צער חתניך שבעיר‬ ‫שלא להסתכל במלאכים ובמעשיהם שלא לצורך כדכתיב 'מות נמות‬ ‫(; וכן ביעקב 'כי ראיתי אלהים פנים‬12 ‫כי ה' ראינו' )ראה שופ' כג‬ .(31 ‫אל פנים ותנצל נפשי' )בר' לב‬

“Do not look behind you: out of sorrow for your sons-in-law in the town; also because he who looks back dallies on the way; furthermore, so as not to look upon the angels and their doings without cause, as it is written (Jud. 13:22), ‘We will surely die since we have seen the Lord’ and, concerning Jacob (Gen. 32:31), ‘I have seen a divine being face to face, yet my life has been preserved’.”

Rashbam made use of cited verses from Genesis and Judges to prove his claim that had Lot looked behind him, his life would have been in danger since he would have gazed upon angels unnecessarily. The connection between the verse in question and the cited verses is that they are all situations where a human being encounters an angel. Regarding God’s words to Rebecca “The older shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23), Rashbam wrote: ‫ולכך אהבה את יעקב שאהבו‬ 17

Also see his commentary on Num. 3:1.

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73

(2 ‫הקב"ה וכדכ' 'ואהב את יעקב' )מל' א‬, “That is why she loved Jacob (v. 28) because God did. And it is further written (Mal. 1:2), ‘I have loved Jacob’”. According to Rashbam, this verse is a preface to the verse “And Rebecca loved Jacob” (Gen. 25:28)—Rebecca loved Jacob because she saw that God loved him. 18 But how did Rashbam know that God loved Jacob? Rashbam invoked a cited verse from Malachi, relying upon it to explain that “the oldest” refers to Esau, “shall serve the younger”—Jacob, proving that God loves Jacob. The connection between the verse in question and the cited verse is that both describe God’s relationship with Jacob. In his explanation of the curses at the end of the book of Leviticus (26:30–32) Rashbam makes use of the prophet Jeremiah’s descriptions as support for his interpretations: ‫ כדכתיב בירמיה 'כי‬,‫ כי בבית במותיכם ֵתהרגו‬- ‫על פגרי גילוליכם‬ (32 ‫אם גיא ההריגה וקברו בתופת מאין מקום' )יר' ז‬

“[I will destroy your cult places…and I will heap your lifeless bodies] upon the lifeless bodies of your fetishes: For you will be killed in the houses of your cult places, as it says in Jeremiah (7:32) ‘[A time is coming when men shall no longer speak of Topheth or the Valley of Ben-hinnom] but of the Valley of Slaughter, and they shall bury in Topheth until no room is left’.”

Rashbam used the cited verse from Jeremiah to explain the situation whereby the corpses of the Israelites will be heaped upon the lifeless bodies of their gods. ‫ כדכתיב 'כל עובר עליה‬,‫ כשבאים לשבת בה‬- ‫ושממו עליה אויביכם‬ (8 ‫ מכותיה' )יר' יט‬...‫יישום וישרוק על‬

“So that your enemies will be appalled by it: when they come to settle there. So it is written (Jer. 19:8), ‘Everyone who passes by it will be appalled (‫ )ישום‬and will hiss over all its wounds’”.

According to Rashbam, Scripture is creating a chain of anticipations here. See Jacobs, “Principle of Anticipation,” 468. 18

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JONATHAN JACOBS

Again, with the aid of a cited verse from Jeremiah, Rashbam explained that the verse is referring to enemies who will arrive in the Land following the destruction, as opposed to the possible understanding of the verse as referring to enemies who already reside in it—“so that your enemies who settle in it (‫ )היושבים בה‬shall be appalled.” The cited verse aided Rashbam in his explanation of the difficult word ‫—שממו‬in the sense of “to be appalled and to hiss”. In both of these instances, the connection between the verses in question and the cited verses is the situation of the nation of Israel at the time of the destruction. The reason behind the prohibition of “Do not plant an ʾasherah, any tree, beside the altar of the Lord your God” (Deut. 16:21) is explained by Rashbam who made use of cited verses from Judges and Jeremiah: ‫ כי שם היו רגילים לעשות כדכת' בגדעון 'ואת האשרה‬- ‫אצל מזבח‬ ‫ 'כזכר בניהם מזבחתם ואשריהם על‬,(25 ‫אשר עליו תכרת' )שופ' ו‬ .(2 ‫עץ רענן' )יר' יז‬

“Beside the altar [of the Lord]: For that was the place where ʾasherot were generally located, as it is written concerning Gideon (Judg. 6:25), ‘[Pull down the altar of Baal…] and cut down the ʾasherah that is beside it’ [and it is written also] (Jer. 17:2), ‘When their children remember their altars and ʾasherot beside verdant trees’”.

THE CITED VERSE PRECEDES THE VERSE IN QUESTION

In quite a few places, Rashbam utilized a cited verse that appears before the verse in question; at times, one that is nearby and in other instances, a distant one. A number of examples follow. The commentators questioned the contradiction between Sarah’s words: “Now that I am withered, am I to have enjoymentwith my husband so old?” (Gen. 18:12) and God’s citation of her

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75

words: “Why did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I in truth bear a child, old as I am?” (Gen. 18:13). 19 Rashbam wrote: '‫ שאמרה אחרי בלותי וגו‬- ‫“ ואני זקנתי‬As old as I am: As she herself said (v. 12), ‘Now that I am withered’”. The reference to the previous verse resolves the difficulty by explaining that when God said “old as I am” He referring to Sarah’s explicit statement “now that I am withered”. However, it should be noted that even according to this explanation, God omitted Sarah’s words “with my husband so old” thereby changing her statement. At the end of Jacob’s blessings to his sons, it is said: “And this is what their father said to them as he bade them farewell, addressing to each a suitable blessing” (Gen. 49:28). The commentaries pondered why Scripture refers to Jacob’s words as “blessings”, since in some of the instances, Jacob cursed and did not bless. 20 Rashbam explained this with the aid of a cited verse from earlier in the passage: ‫ כמו שאמור למעלה 'אשר יקרא‬,‫ העתיד לבא לו‬- ‫אשר כברכתו‬ .(1 ‫אתכם באחרית הימים' )בר' מט‬

“Each with the suitable blessing: that would yet happen to him, as it is written above (v. 1), ‘What is to befall you in the days to come’”.

According to Rashbam, Jacob is not giving blessings, but informing his sons what is to happen to them in the future. 21 One of Rashbam’s most original and brilliant commentaries relates to God’s words (Gen. 26:5) “Because Abraham obeyed me, following my mandate, my commandments, my laws and my teachRashi, in the footsteps of the Sages, explained: “Scripture changed [her words] for the sake of peace,” and so did Bekhor-Shor and Hizkuni. Ibn Ezra interpreted the verse like Rashbam did. 20 Rashi explained that aside from the blessings mentioned explicitly above, Jacob gave each tribe additional blessings; Ibn Ezra explains this verse in a similar manner (Gen. 49:1). 21 See his explanation “What is to befall them—their strengths and their inheritances” (Gen. 49:1). 19

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JONATHAN JACOBS

ings”. The commentaries offered a variety of suggestions regarding the events alluded to by the verse. Rashbam wrote: ‫ דכתיב 'עקב אשר‬,‫ על העקידה‬- ‫עקב אשר שמע אברהם בקולי‬ .(18 ‫שמעת בקולי' )בר' כב‬ '‫ דכתיב בה 'ואתה את בריתי תשמור‬,‫ כגון מילה‬- ‫וישמור משמרתי‬ .(9 ‫)בר' יז‬ '‫ דכתיב 'כאשר ציוה אותו אלהים‬,‫ כגון מצות שמנה ימים‬- ‫מצותי‬ .(4 ‫)בר' כא‬ ‫ כגון גזל‬,‫ כל המצות הניכרות‬,‫ לפי עיקר פשוטו‬- ‫חוקותי ותורותי‬ ‫ כלם היו נוהגין קודם מתן‬,‫ועריות וחימוד ודינין והכנסת אורחים‬ .‫ וכרתו ברית לקיימן‬,‫ אלא שנתחדש ונתפרש לישראל‬,‫תורה‬ “Because Abraham obeyed me: at the time of the binding of Isaac, as it is written there (Gen. 22:18), ‘Because (ʿeqev) you have obeyed me’.

Followed my mandate: e.g. circumcision, about which it is written (Gen. 17:9), ‘you shall follow (tishmor) my covenant’. My commandments: e.g. the rule that circumcision takes place on the eighth day of life, about which it is written (Gen. 21:4), ‘as God had commanded (tzivvah) him’.

My laws and my teaching: According to the true plain meaning of Scripture, this refers to all the well accepted laws like theft, adultery, covetousness, civil laws and hospitality for guests, all of which were observed before the giving of the Torah but were repeated and elaborated to the Israelites [at Sinai where] they entered a covenant to fulfill them.”

Rashbam is the only exegete who successfully located cited verses from the passages concerning Abraham which are phrased in a similar way to the wording of the verse in question, and with the aid of these verses, was able to explain God’s words. In my opinion, this is a wonderful example of Rashbam’s efforts to explain

“SCRIPTURE INTERPRETS ITSELF”

77

Scripture from within itself, without external assumptions which do not stem from the text. 22

THE CITED VERSE AND THE VERSE IN QUESTION ARE LOCATED IN PARALLEL PASSAGES

Rashbam made extensive use of cited verses located in parallel passages, such as the blessings of Moses in Deuteronomy which are parallel to the blessings of Jacob in Genesis, as proof for his interpretations. Several examples from Rashbam’s commentary on Jacob’s blessings will now follow. Regarding Jacob’s blessing to Issachar (Gen. 49:14), Rashbam wrote: ,‫ לא כזבולון שהולך עם עוברי ימים לסחורה‬- ‫יששכר חמור גרם‬ ‫ מצוי בין‬,‫אלא עובד אדמתו יהיה כחמור בעל איברים חזק‬ ‫ כדכתיב 'זורעי‬,‫ לחרוש ולעבוד את האדמה‬,‫ תחומי העיר‬,‫המשפתים‬ .‫ לחרוש ולזרוע‬- (20 ‫על כל מים משלחי רגל השור והחמור' )יש' לב‬ ‫ו כ ן א מ ר מ ש ה 'שמח זבולון בצאתך ויששכר באהליך' )דב' יב‬ .(9

“Yissahar hamor garem: Unlike Zebulun who goes trading with seamen, Issachar works his land like a strong, large-boned ass, who is to be found ben ha-mishpetayim, i.e. within the boundaries of the city, plowing and working the land. So one should also interpret the verse (Is. 33:20), ‘[Happy shall you be who] sow on all waters and let loose the feet of cattle and asses’ to plow and to sow. So Moses also said (Deut. 33:18), ‘Rejoice, O Zebulun, on your journeys and Issachar, in your tents’”.

Rashbam differentiated between Zebulun who leaves his home for trade, and Issachar who remains at home. His proof for this distinction, which is not mentioned explicitly in Genesis, is the cited verse from the blessings of Moses. Regarding Jacob’s blessing to Asher (Gen. 49:20) Rashbam wrote: Also see Berger, The Torah Commentary, 56. Touitou was of the opinion that Rashbam’s explanation here is a polemic with Christian claims. See Touitou, Exegesis in Perpetual Motion, 175. 22

78

JONATHAN JACOBS ‫ ומטגנים‬,‫ כי מאשר היו מביאין שמן זית‬- ‫"מאשר שמנה לחמו‬ - '‫ ו כ ן א מ ר מ ש ה 'ברוך מבנים אשר' וגו‬.‫מאכלם בשמן‬ ‫ לפי ש'טובל בשמן רגלו' )דב' לג‬,‫יברכוהו ישראל ויהי רצוי להם‬ ."(24

“Me-asher shemena lahmo: From Asher[’s territory], they used to bring olive oil which was used for frying foods. Moses’ blessing (Deut. 33:24) is to be understood in the same way: ‘Blessed by sons be Asher’—i.e. let Israel bless him and let him be their ‘favorite’—because ‘he dips his foot in oil’.”

Rashbam’s explanation that olive oil is harvested from the Asher’s territory—information that is not mentioned explicitly in Genesis—is based on the cited verse from the blessings of Moses. Regarding Jacob’s blessing to Joseph (Gen. 49: 26) Rashbam wrote: ‫ ברכות אביך יעקב שבירכני‬- ‫ברכות אביך גברו על ברכות הורי‬ ,(13 ‫ כדכתיב 'והנה ה' נצב עליו' וגו' )בר' כח‬,‫הקדוש ברוך הוא‬ ‫ כדכתיב שם 'ופרצה ימה וקדמה' וגו' )בר' כח‬,‫גברו על ברכות הרים‬ - ‫ עד תאות‬.‫ מעולה מכל הררי עולם‬,‫ נחלה טובה ובלא ְמ ָצ ִרים‬- (14 ‫עד סוף גבעות עולם]…[ ו ב ר כ ו ת מ ש ה מ ו כ י ח י ן ע ל‬ ‫ דכתיב שם‬,‫ לשון כפל של גבעות עולם‬- ‫ כי הורי‬,‫פ ס ו ק ז ה‬ ‫ ואותן ברכות‬.(15 ‫'ומראש הררי קדם וממגד גבעות עולם' )דב' לג‬ .‫תהיינה לראש יוסף‬ “Birkhot ʾavikha gaveru ʿal birkhot horay: The blessings with which I, your father, Jacob, was blessed, when, ‘The Lord was standing beside him…’ (Gen. 28:13) are greater than the blessings of the mountains. For there (v. 14), he was promised, ‘You shall spread out to the west and to the east…’ i.e., a goodly, boundless inheritance, superior to all the mountains of the earth. ʿAd taʾavat means to the ends of The eternal hills: It is related to the words, vehitʾavvitem—‘You shall draw a line’ (Num. 34:10) and tetaʾu, in the phrase (Num. 34:8) ‘Draw a line (tetaʾu) to Lebohamath. Horay is [synonymous with and] in parallelism with givʿot ʿolam, as can be proven from Moses’ [similar] blessing [of Joseph] (Deut. 33:15), ‘With the best of the ancient mountains (harare) and the bounty of the hills (givʿot) immemorial’. These blessings will be on the head of Joseph.”

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79

Rashbam invoked a novel interpretation of the difficult word horay, in the sense of mountains, and supports his explanation by citing the pair of words “mountains-hills (harei-gevaʿot)” which appear in the parallel blessing given by Moses to Joseph. In many instances, Rashbam utilized parallel descriptions of the Temple vessels in different passages as proof for his exegesis. For example, while explaining the difficult phrase “and for the incense” (Ex. 25:6) Rashbam wrote: ‫ כדכת' בקטרת‬,‫ כלומ' לצורך קטורת הביאו סמים‬- ‫ולקטרת הסמים‬ .(35-34 ‫'קח לך סמים' בכי תשא )שמ' ל‬

"‫ ולקטרת הסמים‬: means And for the preparation of the incense (‫ )ולקטרת‬you should bring herbs (‫)סמים‬, as it is written in the Torah portion Ki tissa (30:34) concerning the incense, ‘Take the herbs (‫”’)סמים‬

Rashbam explained that since the verse begins by listing various items and their purpose, such as ‘oil—for lighting; spices—for the anointing oil’, the end of the verse should be read in a similar manner: ‘herbs—for incense’, meaning that herbs were brought for the incense. 23 He provided proof for his interpretation from the parallel passage (Ex. 30:34–35) which explicitly states that the incense is made of herbs. 24 In the Scriptural description of the lampstand (menorah) (Ex. 25:37) the following is stated: “Make its seven lamps, and he shall mount its lamps and it will give light ʿal ʿever paneha”. 25 Rashbam wrote:

Kogut demonstrates that according to Rashbam, the order here is changed so as to conclude a series. See: Simcha Kogut, Correlations between Biblical Accentuation and Traditional Jewish Exegesis—Linguistic and Contextual Studies, (Jerusalem, 1996), 88 (Heb). 24 Also see: Itamar Kislev, “The Commentaries of Ibn Ezra and Rashbam and the Dispute over the Ingredients of the Altar Incense,” Tarbiz 78 (2008), 70–72 (Heb). 25 Rashi (in the wake of bMenahot 98b) explained that the six side lamps were tilted toward the inner lamp. R. Joseph Bekhor Shor and Hizkuni explained the verse like Rashbam. For a brief discussion of the commentaries of the Northern French exegetes regarding this verse, see: 23

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JONATHAN JACOBS ‫ ידליק הפתילות אל עבר מול המנורה שזהו‬- ‫והאיר על עבר פניה‬ '‫ כ ד כ ת ' 'ואת המנורה נוכח השולחן' )שמ‬.‫לצד השולחן שכנגדו‬ '‫ ו כ ן כ ת ו ב 'אל מול פני המנורה יאירו שבעת הנרות‬,(35 ‫כו‬ ."‫( שכל שבעתן מאירין לצד השולחן שכנגדו לפניה‬2 ‫)במ' ח‬

“And it will give light ʿal ʿever paneha —He should light the wicks [so that they give light] towards the table, opposite the lampstand. As it is written (26:35), ‘[place] the lampstand opposite the table’, and it is written (Num. 8:2), ‘let the seven lights throw their light forward toward the front of the lampstand’. [This means] that all seven of the lamps should shine towards the front, in the direction of the table opposite”.

Rashbam makes use of two cited verses which also describe the menorah and its functions. The first cited verse proves that the menorah is located opposite the table. The second cited verse proves that the word ever means “opposite”. 26

INCONGRUENCE BETWEEN PROOFTEXTS FROM CITED VERSES

Earlier, I presented Rashbam’s commentary on “I will break your powerful pride” (Lev. 26:19) in which Rashbam offered the Sages’ interpretation in addition to a “literal” explanation, providing support from cited verses for each. I suggested that his decision in favor of the “literal” explanation is due to a nearer cited verse. I have identified a number of similar cases where Rashbam contrasted adjacent and distant cited verses, preferring the adjacent verses over the distant ones; an additional example will be presented below. It is said of Moses’ spies: “They went up into the Negev and he came [‫ ]ויבא‬to Hebron, where lived Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai…” (Num. 13:22). The difficulty in this verse is the move

Hananel Mak, “New Fragments from the Biblical Commentary of R. Joseph Kara,” Tarbiz 63 (1994), 549–551 (Heb). 26 Also see his commentary on 25:31.

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from the plural to the singular; why does it say ‫( ויעלו‬they went up) and later, ‫( ויבא‬and he came), in the singular? 27 Rashbam offered a lengthy explanation of this verse, suggesting at first that the interpretation of the Midrash constitutes the “literal” meaning of the verse: 12F

‫ שנאמר‬,‫ הגדה נראית פשט שעל כלב אמר הכתוב‬- ‫ויבא עד חברון‬ ‫ 'והביאותיו אל הארץ‬,(36 ‫'ולו אתן את הארץ אשר דרך בה' )דב' א‬ '‫ לפיכך 'ויבא עד חברון‬,(24 ‫אשר בא שמה וזרעו יורישנה' )במ' יד‬ .‫ ונשתטח על קבורת אבות ונתפלל שינצל מעצת מרגלים‬,‫הוא כלב‬ ‫ כדכת' 'ואת שדה העיר ואת‬,‫ומצינו ביהושע שנתן לכלב את חברון‬ .(12 ‫חצריה נתנו לכלב בן יפונה באחוזתו' )יהו' כא‬

“And he came to Hebron: There is an aggadah that appears [at first glance to represent] the plain meaning of Scripture which [explains that] the verse is referring to Caleb [who, according to this midrash, was the only one of the spies who came to Hebron]. For it says below (Deut. 1:36) [concerning Caleb] ‘to him I will give the land on which he set foot’, and (Num. 14:24) ‘him will I bring into the land that he entered and his offspring shall hold it as a possession’. So [the Midrash says that the meaning of the singular verb in the phrase,] ‘he came (‫ )ויבא‬to Hebron’ is [that] Caleb [alone came there]. And [according to that same midrash] he prostrated himself at the grave of the forefathers [at the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron] and prayed that he would be saved [by God] from the evil advice of [the rest of] the spies. And we find that Joshua assigned Hebron to Caleb, as it is written (Josh. 21:12), ‘They gave the fields and the villages of the town [of Hebron] to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as his holding’”.

Rashbam’s explanation is based on three factors: A problematic verse that moves from the plural ‫ ויעלו‬to the singular ‫ ;ויבא‬cited verses from Numbers and Deuteronomy in which, to Rashbam’s Rashi, in the footsteps of the Sages (bSotah 34b) explained that Caleb went to Hebron alone, and so did Ibn Ezra and Hizkuni. These exegetes accepted the Sages’ interpretation in the absence of any proof, as opposed to Rashbam who bases the Sages’ interpretation on Scripture. 27

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opinion, God promises Caleb the land of the area in which he sojourned while spying in the Land; a cited verse from Joshua proving that the area given to Caleb and his family when the inheritance of the Land was distributed, was Hebron. 28 It should be noted that in the verses Rashbam quoted from Numbers and Deuteronomy, it is not mentioned explicitly that Caleb was promised the area of Hebron specifically. Only the combination of these verses and the data in Joshua form a connection between the land promised to Caleb and the Hebron area. In other words, in Rashbam’s opinion, integrating the cited verses from Numbers, Deuteronomy and Joshua reveals a new, unknown detail: That Caleb was the only one to visit Hebron when the land was being scouted. The cited verses clarify why the verse describing the visit to Hebron is phrased in the singular. By citing these verses, Rashbam transformed the Midrash into a “literal” interpretation based on Scriptural context. 29 However, Rashbam ultimately preferred an alternate “literal” reading: ‫ שהרי‬,‫ומכל מקום לפי עיקר פשוטו ויבא כל אחד ואחד עד חברון‬ ‫ וכת' 'ושם‬.‫( בחברון‬28 ‫אמרו 'וגם בני הענקים ראינו שם' )דב' א‬ .(33 ‫ראינו את הנפילים בני ענק' )במ' יג‬

But in any case, following the true plain meaning of Scripture [the phrase ‘he came—‫ ויבא‬to Hebron’ means that] each and every one of the spies ‘comes’ to Hebron. We know this because the spies [other than Caleb] say (v. 28) ‘and we saw the children of Anak there’ [and the children of Anak lived in Hebron. It is also written that they said] (v. 33) ‘there we saw the Nephilim, the children of Anak’.

According to Touitou, the reason for Rashbam’s preference of the “literal” interpretation over that of the Sages is because there are verses that explicitly contradict their explanation. 30 Additionally, it See Lockshin, Rashbam on the Torah, 414 n. 32. For additional instances where Rashbam grounds the Midrash in Scriptural verses, also see Rashbam’s commentary on Num. 5:10; 11:35; 34:6, and see Berger, “Rashbam’s attitude,” 24–26. 30 Touitou, Exegesis in Perpetual Motion, 56–58. 28 29

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should be noted that the cited verses supporting the “literal” interpretation are closer to the verse in question than the cited verses supporting the Sages’ interpretation. It should also be noted that the explicit connection between Caleb and Hebron does not appear in the Pentateuch, but only in Joshua. Two conclusions can be drawn from these cases: Firstly, that Rashbam at times made an effort to ground the Midrash in explicit verses. Secondly, that Rashbam preferred cited verses that are adjacent to the verse in question over more distant ones. 31

SUMMARY

In this article, I surveyed the wide use made by Rashbam of intrabiblical exegesis for the purpose of proving his commentaries. When Rashbam invoked cited verses as prooftexts for his interpretations, he used set formulas such as: “this is proven below”; “as is proven below”; “since it is proven below”, and the like. Rashbam is aided by cited verses both for explaining difficult words as well as for innovating content based, topical exegesis. He finds support in cited verses adjacent to the verse in question or in parallel passages, and at times, even from entirely different sections of Scripture. At times, Rashbam quoted verses located before the verse in question. In cases of a contradiction between various cited verses, Rashbam preferred the proof from closer verses over the proof from more distant cited verses. The scope of his usage of cited verses serves to set Rashbam aside as the exegete who propelled the use of intrabiblical exegesis to its height.

Berger, “Rashbam’s attitude,” 22 and n. 5 commented that Rashbam prefers to explain the verses according to their immediate context—(‫“ דבר הלמד מעניינו‬something proved by the context”); also see Berger, The Torah Commentary, 53–55. Berger does not discuss cited verses in detail, but his study supports the conclusion suggested above. 31

“AT THAT TIME JERUSALEM SHALL BE CALLED THE THRONE OF THE LORD” (JER 3:17): ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS IN GENESIS RABBAH 5, LEVITICUS RABBAH 10, AND PESIQTA DE-RAB KAHANA 20 JOHANNA ERZBERGER UNIVERSITY OF PRETORIA INTRODUCTION

Aggadic rabbinic midrashim are to a high degree made up of smaller textual passages that can also be found in other aggadic rabbinic midrashim. They constitute more-or-less fixed traditional textual units that must have had a prior existence of some kind before being placed in their present contexts. Within these traditional units, 1 biblical texts are intertextually linked 2 following cultural convenIn a previous publication, I called passages that constitute fixed traditional textual units Traditionsstücke (traditional units); see Johanna Erzberger, Kain und Abel und Israel: Die Rezeption von Gen 4,1–16 in rabbinischen Midraschim (BWANT 192; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2010), 40. 2 In midrashim, biblical texts are interpreted in light of other biblical texts. Gary G. Porton, Understanding Rabbinic Midrash: Texts and Commentary (Library of Judaic Learning 5; Hoboken, NJ: Ktav, 1985), 9:171; James L. Kugel, “Cain and Abel in Fact and Fable,” in Hebrew Bible or Old Testament? Studying the Bible in Judaism and Christianity, eds. Roger Brooks and John J. Collins (Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity 5; Notre Dame: University 1

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tions. 3 In addition to (1) the selection of texts that are considered relevant and (2) the selection of texts that are understood to refer to each other, those cultural conventions dictate (3) the mode in which those texts are thought to refer to each other. These modes can be described in terms of hypertexts, 4 which describe relations in time or space and even causal relations. Variations between the versions of a given traditional unit that appears in different midrashim can be shown to meaningfully serve the contexts in which the unit has been placed. Contexts consequently prove to be meaningful. Hypertexts also organize the contextualization of traditional units. This article will analyze three passages from Genesis Rabbah, Leviticus Rabbah, and Pesiqta de Rab Kahana, in which the reading of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2–3 constitutes a traditional unit. In Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus Rabbah, this tradition is part of a more extensive traditional unit, with significant variations. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana expands this traditional reading of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2–3 beyond its parallels in Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus of Notre Dame Press, 1990), 167–90; Günter Stemberger, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch (Munich: Beck, 1992), 235; Alexander Samely, Forms of Rabbinic Literature and Thought: An Introduction (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 83. Boyarin was the first to use the term intertextuality in this context. Daniel Boyarin, Intertextuality and the Reading of Midrash (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1990), passim. 3 Boyarin, Intertextuality, 12. Boyarin does not go into detail with regard to what constitutes these cultural conventions (or—according to Boyarin—codes). 4 In a previous publication, I called these structures hypertexts. Erzberger, Kain, 36. In contrast to Boyarin and others, I argue that the midrashim do not decontextualize the biblical verses they quote. (Cf. Boyarin, Intertextuality, 23.) The extent to which the context of any quoted verse is alluded to—in reception or contradiction—can only be judged by the extent to which the midrash responds to it. The newly created hypertexts do not replace textual and narrative structures provided by the immediate context of the quoted verses. Rather, they claim a structure underlying the biblical tradition that connects texts that are not obviously related.

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Rabbah. Genesis Rabbah, Leviticus Rabbah, and Pesiqta de Rab Kahana each create different hypertexts. Though all the hypertexts and the juxtaposition of intertexts that they structure aim at Israel being represented by Jerusalem, Israel is characterized in distinctive ways. In all three midrashim, both the presence of the nations in the larger context of the biblical intertexts and the spatial imagery of Jerusalem, which is part of the hypertext of all the midrashim, create a potentially subversive subtext. But only Pesiqta de Rab Kahana refers to the relation between Israel and the nations.

TRADITIONAL UNIT: “THE SMALL HOLDS THE LARGE”

In both Gen. Rab. 5 and Lev. Rab. 10, the interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2–3 is part of a traditional unit constituted by a list of incidents from throughout Israel’s remembered history in which something small holds something large. The selection and order of elements as well as the exact wording varies. In the habit of the world a man empties a full vessel into an empty vessel but not a full vessel into a full vessel. The whole world was full of water, but you say: “at one place” (Gen 1:9). But from this [you may conclude], that the small has held the large. As “And they gathered, Moses and Aaron” (Num 20:10). Rabbi Chanina said: Like the size of a mouth of a small vessel, it was in it and all Israel stands in it? But from here [you may conclude], that the small has held the large. Like “YHWH said to Moses and Aaron: Take for this” (Exod 9:8). Rabbi Hunna said: And that the hollow hand of Moses holds eight fists. Strange! What is a hollow hand is not similar to what is a fist. What is a hollow hand is the twofold of what is a fist. And it is written: “And Moses shall throw” (Exod 9:8). You have found the hollow hand of Moses holds eight fists. But from here [you may conclude], that the small has held the large. As: Rabbi Jose bar Chalafta said: “The length of the court is a hundred cubits, the width fifty in/against fifty” (Exod 27:18). And all Israel stands there. Strange! But from here [you may conclude], that the small has held the large. And as: “And Joshua said to the sons of Israel: Come here, etc.” (Josh 3:9). Rabbi Hunna said: He put them between the two hands of the ark. Rabbi Acha bar Rabbi Chanina: He packed(?) them between the two hands of the ark. The rabbis said: He squeezed them between the two

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JOHANNA ERZBERGER hands of the ark. Joshua said to them: From this, that the two hands of the ark hold you, you know/learn that the Shechinah of the Holy One, blessed be he, was among you. This is what is written: “By this you shall know, that the living God is among you” (Josh 3:10). And also in Jerusalem: As it is taught: They are standing crowded, and those who prostrated themselves had open space. Rabbi Shmuel bar Rabbi Chana in the name of Rabbi Acha said: Four cubits for each one, one cubit from every side, so that there will be no one hearing the prayer of his neighbor. And also for the coming future as it has been said: “In that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH etc.” (Jer 3:17). Rabbi Jochanan went up in order to ask for the peace of Rabbi Chanina. He found him as he sat and studied the case of the verse: “In that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH etc.” (Jer 3:17). He said to him: Is it really like that that she, Jerusalem, holds the throne of YHWH? He said to him: The holy one, blessed be he, will say to him: Stretch out, widen, receive those inhabiting you, this is what has been written: “Enlarge the place of your tent … for you will spread out to the right and to the left etc.” (Isa 54:2–3). (Gen. Rab. 5)

“And gather the whole congregation at the entrance of the tent of the assembly” (Lev 8:3). Rabbi Eleazar said: sixty [times] ten thousand, and you say at the entrance of the tent of the assembly? But this is one of the places where the small holds the large. As: “The waters under the sky shall be gathered at one place” (Gen 1:9). It is common that in the world a man empties a full vessel into an empty vessel; or perhaps a full vessel into a full vessel? The whole world was full of water and you say “The waters shall be gathered.” But this is one of the places where the small holds the large. As: “Take for yourself handfuls” (Exod 9:8). Rabbi Hunna said: The case of the one who takes a handful is not like the case of the one who takes a fistful. The case of the one who takes a handful is twice the case of the one who takes a fistful. Four handfuls are eight fistfuls. We find that the hollow hand of Moses holds eight fistfuls. And you say: “And Moses shall throw it in the air” (Exod 9:8) at once. But this is one of the places etc. As: “The length of the court: one hundred cubits” (Exod 27:18). Rabbi Jose bar

ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS Chalafta said: The length of the court: one hundred cubits, and the whole of Israel stands in its midst? But this is one of the places etc. Like: “And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock” (Num 20:19). Rabbi Hunna said: It was like a sieve, and the whole of Israel are standing on it? This is one of the places etc. Like: “And Joshua said to the sons of Israel: Draw near here and hear the words of YHWH your God” (Josh 3:9). Rabbi Hunna said: He put them between the two arms of the ark. Rabbi Hunna said: He stood them between the two arms of the ark. The rabbis said: He squeezed them between the two arms of the ark. “By this you shall know that the living God is among you” (Josh 3:10). From that it holds [you] between the two arms of the ark, you know that the living God is in your midst. Also in Jerusalem it is so, for it has been taught: They are standing squeezed and they are bending comfortably. What is “comfortably”? Rabbi Ishmael bar Ibo in the name of Rabbi Acha: Four cubits between each one and each one, a cubit for each side, that nobody will be hearing the voice of the prayer of his partner. Also in the coming future it will be so. It is written: “At that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH and all the nations shall be gathered to it” (Jer 3:17). Rabbi Jochanan ascended in order to ask Rabbi Chanina. He found him occupied with the case of the verse: “At that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH etc.” The rabbi asked him: Does Jerusalem hold them? He said to him: The holy one, praised be he, says: Lengthen, widen, and receive those inhabiting you. This is what has been written: “Enlarge the place of your tent” (Isa 54:2). Why? “For you will spread out to the right and to the left and your offspring will inherit the nations, they will settle and the inhabited cities they will cause to dwell” (Isa 54:3). (Lev. Rab. 10)

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Both midrashim start with an example that establishes the subject of their interpretation. The initial example of Genesis Rabbah is the gathering of the waters of creation at one place (Gen 1:9). The initial example of Leviticus Rabbah entails Moses gathering the people at the entrance of the sanctuary (Lev 8:3). The following parallel examples, which are considered to mirror the first, roughly follow the canonical order of the cited texts. In both midrashim, the tradi-

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tional unit closes with and aims at two examples concerning Jerusalem, the first of which creates a transition from the preceding. As all Israel are gathered between the rods of the ark, so they have been gathered in Jerusalem, 5 which endows them with sufficient space to pray comfortably. The final eschatological example involves the above-quoted interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2–3. In an eschatological future, Jerusalem will expand in order to take in all her inhabitants. Gen. Rab. 5 Gen 1:9: The waters of creation are gathered at one place.

Num 20:10: Moses and Aaron gather Israel on the occasion of the miracle of the waters of Meribah. Exod 9:8: Moses uses one fist to throw the ashes, which both Moses and Aaron collected with both of their open hands, in order to bring the plagues upon Egypt. Exod 27:17: The court of the sanctuary holds all Israel. Joshua gathers Jos 3:9, 10: 6 Israel between the rods of the ark. 7

Lev. Rab. 10 Lev 8:3: Moses gathers the people at the entrance to the sanctuary. Gen 1:9: The waters of creation are gathered at one place. Exod 9:8: Moses uses one fist to throw the ashes, which both Moses and Aaron collected with both of their open hands, in order to bring the plagues upon Egypt. Exod 27:17: The court of the sanctuary holds all Israel. Num 20:10: Moses and Aaron gather Israel on the occasion of the miracle of the waters of Meribah. Jos 3:9, 10: Joshua gathers Israel

One manuscript of Lev. Rab. (‫ )ד‬has “house of the sanctuary” (‫ )בבית המקדש‬instead of “Jerusalem” (‫)בירושלם‬. 6 Several manuscripts of Lev. Rab. underline their reading of Josh 3:9 as referring to Israel as a whole by quoting against the exact wording of MT. According to those manuscripts, Joshua addresses not “the sons of Israel” (‫ )בני ישראל‬but “Israel” (‫ )ל( )ישראל‬or “the whole of the people” (‫)א ב( )כל העם‬. 7 The midrash identifies the subject of what Israel will know (referred to by the demonstrative pronoun ‫ )זאת‬not with the following proposition (attached with ‫ )כי‬about God driving the nations out of the land before Israel but with what precedes. Building on a word play, which only one manuscript of Lev. Rab. (‫ )ך‬makes explicit, God’s presence 5

ISRAEL AND THE NATIONS [no biblical quote] Jerusalem Jer 3:17 Jerusalem

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between the rods of the ark. [no biblical quote] Jerusalem Jer 3:17 Jerusalem

Differences concern the order and selection of examples. The initial example of Leviticus Rabbah is missing in Genesis Rabah. In Genesis Rabbah, the gathering of the people at Meribah follows the gathering of the water during the creation, against the canonical order, which is upheld in Leviticus Rabbah. On the one hand, the gathering of the people at Meribah that evokes a miracle concerning water logically follows the example of the gathering of the waters in the context of creation. On the other hand, the differing order emphasize a dynamic according to which the four final examples concern the gathering of the people in a cultic context. The most important difference in wording concerns the final example of expanding Jerusalem: And also for the coming future as it has been said: “In that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH etc.” (Jer 3:17). Rabbi Jochanan went up in order to ask for the peace of Rabbi Chanina. He found him as he sat and studied the case of the verse: “In that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH etc.” (Jer 3:17). He said to him: Is it really like that, that she, Jerusalem, holds the throne of YHWH? He said to him: The holy one, blessed be he, will say to him: Stretch out, widen, receive those inhabiting you, this is what has been written: “Enlarge the place of your tent … for you will spread out to the right and to the left etc.” (Isa 54:2-3). (Gen. Rab. 5)

Also in the coming future it will be so. It is written: “At that time they will call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH and all the nations shall be gathered to it” (Jer 3:17). Rabbi Jochanan ascended in order to ask Rabbi Chanina. He found him occupied with the case of the verse: “At that time they will call Jerusalem

among Israel is illustrated by the people being squeezed between the rods of the ark. The midrash plays on the double meaning of the root ‫תוך‬, indicating both “to press” and “midst.”

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JOHANNA ERZBERGER the throne of YHWH etc.” The rabbi asked him: Does Jerusalem hold them? He said to him: The holy one, praised be he, says: Lengthen, widen, and receive those inhabiting you. This is what has been written: “Enlarge the place of your tent” (Isa 54:2). Why? “For you will spread out to the right and to the left and your offspring will inherit the nations, they will settle and the inhabited cities they will cause to dwell” (Isa 54:3). (Lev. Rab. 10)

In its biblical context Jer 3:17 is part of an announcement of salvation (Jer 3:14–18) made up of several individual announcements that are not totally consistent. The announcement that Jerusalem will be God’s throne (v. 17) might be understood to mirror the ark of the covenant being superfluous and forgotten (v. 16), the announcement of return concerns the exiles, who return to the land (v. 14) and multiply there (v. 16), 8 all nations coming to Zion (v. 17), and Judah and Israel returning to the land at last (v. 18). Isaiah 54:2–3 is part of a unit (Isa 54:1–10) that addresses an anonymous female figure, presented as infertile, a widow, and—at the expense of ambiguity—temporarily abandoned by God, her husband. She is asked to enlarge her habitation (tent) to make room for the children she will have, who will inherit the nations and settle the desolate towns. By connecting these verses from Jeremiah and Isaiah, the traditional unit identifies the anonymous woman with Jerusalem and her descendants with those named in Jer 3:15–18. 9 Jerusalem is Some consider vv. 14–15 to contain older material addressed to the former northern state. See William L. Holladay, Jeremiah, 2 vols. (Hermeneia; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986), 1:72, 120; William McKane, Jeremiah, 2 vols. (ICC; Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), 2:75. 9 In referring to parallel texts as well as the imagery of the town in the second part of the text (vv. 11–17), most modern exegetes also identify the anonymous woman in Isa 54:2–3 with Jerusalem. See Ulrich Berges, Jesaja 49–54 (HThKAT; Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2015), 285–86, 293; John Goldingay, Isaiah 40–55 (ICC; New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), 337. An alternative identification would be the nation. See Goldingay, Isaiah 40–55, 337. 8

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enlarged (Isa 54:2–3) in order to hold either those who have returned (Lev. Rab.) or the throne of God (Gen. Rab.), both mentioned in Jer 3:17. By paralleling Jerusalem with the ark and the sanctuary, the midrashim highlight the cultic dimension not of the temple but of Jerusalem. 10 In so far as Jerusalem becomes the place of the eschatological assembly of Israel, which finally indicates God’s presence among Israel, Jerusalem replaces the sanctuary and the cult. As Jerusalem is understood to be expanding in order to cover all Israel, the image of Jerusalem is broken up and transcends Jerusalem as a mere locality. 11 In Leviticus Rabbah as well as some versions of Genesis Rabbah, 12 Isa 54:2–3 is introduced as an answer to a question raised with regard to Jer 3:17, most likely understood to refer to the great number of those returning: “Does Jerusalem hold them?” Leviticus Rabbah reinforces this understanding by interrupting its quotation of Isa 54:2–3 with ‫למה‬, underlining its second part, which refers to the great number of Jerusalem’s descendants who inherit the nations while settling in the desolate cities, 13 thus transcending the locality of Jerusalem. Most versions of Genesis Rabbah, however, vary the rhetorical question by referring to the keyword ‫ כסא‬in Jer 3:17a, which has no equivalent in Isa 54:2–3, and by asking how Jerusalem can hold God’s throne. Genesis Rabbah thus shifts the Berges denies any connection between the motif of the tent in Isa 54 and the motif of the sanctuary in the biblical text: “Das Zeltheiligtum auf der Wüstenwanderung war ja kein Wohnort für Menschen, sondern für JHWH und zudem fehlt in Jes 54 jegliche Verbindung zum Kult.” (Berges, Jesaja 49–54, 297). In the context of the midrash, however, the tent echoes the sanctuary against the background of the parallelization of Jerusalem, the city, and the desert sanctuary. 11 In Isa 54:1–10 the border between the personified city and her inhabitants is variable. As the mother of those representing Israel, she becomes a figuration of Israel herself. (See Berges, Jesaja 49–54, 285: “Die Grenze zwischen ihr und ihren Bewohnern ist fließend.”) 12 See J. Theodor Albeck and Chanoch Albeck, Midrash Bereshit Rabba: Critical Edition with Notes and Commentary (Jerusalem: Wahrmann, 1965). 13 Jerusalem inheriting the desolate cities has an echo in Israel multiplying in the land in the context of Jer 3:17 in v. 16. 10

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focus. The envisaged miracle is no longer that Jerusalem holds those who return but is rather the enlargement of Jerusalem as such, illustrated by the enlargement of Jerusalem to an extent that it finally reaches the throne of YHWH.

GENESIS RABBAH 5

Gen 1:9: “And God said: Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear. And it was so.”

From the beginning of creation the waters obey their creator and praise him. Throughout Israel’s history the works of creation (incl. the waters) follow the agreements God had with them at the time of creation. Gen 1:9: “… gathered together into one place …”

“A small thing holds a large one”: (1) the collection of the waters of creation in one place; (2) Moses and Aaron gathering Israel at Meribah (Num 20:10); (3) Moses using one hand to throw the ashes, which both Moses and Aaron collected with both of their hands in order to bring the plagues over Egypt (Exod 9:8); the court of the sanctuary hosting all Israel (Exod 27:18); Joshua gathering Israel between the rods of the ark (Josh 3:9, 10) ( as: Jerusalem). The future to come:

Jer 3:17: “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it …”— How does Jerusalem seize the throne of God? Isa 54:2–3: “Enlarge the site of your tent …”

In the context of Genesis Rabbah, the interpretation of Gen 1:9 constitutes a textual unit that ends with a chatima, a reference to an eschatological future, which is constituted by the interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2–3, discussed above. The textual unit consists of two parts, each starting with a quotation of Gen 1:9. The aforementioned traditional unit, which constitutes the second part, is preceded by a textual unit starting with a proposition according to which the waters have obeyed and praised their creator since the beginning of creation. Their obedience, which is contradicted by the disobedience of humans, stands as an exemplar for other works of creation, whose transgressions

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of natural laws in Israel’s favor throughout Israel’s history are considered to have been inscribed into the concept of creation from the very beginning: the waters part for the Israelites in the days of the exodus, the sun and the moon stand still before Joshua, and the lions refuse to harm Daniel. In the representation of the midrash, the creation of the world focuses on Israel. At the same time, Israel’s remembered history is set in a universal context. In its position following the first part, the traditional unit, according to which something small holds something large, gains a specific meaning: two hypertexts representing two images of Israel’s history coincide. By mirroring the initial incident common to both text, namely the gathering of the waters and juxtaposing the laws of nature (a small entity holding a large), an image of Israel’s history that aims at the sanctuary, which is finally replaced by the eschatological assembly of Israel in a Jerusalem that encompasses the throne of God, is inscribed into another one, according to which the transgression of natural laws throughout Israel’s history has been inscribed into and thus inscribes Israel’s history into the order of creation. The meaning of the final event, enlarging Jerusalem, is determined by both its context and its specific form. When Jerusalem is enlarged to the extent that it reaches God’s throne, the final example regains cosmic perspective.

LEVITICUS RABBAH 10

Lev 8:2: “Take Aaron and his sons with him.”

Ps 45:8a: “you love righteousness and hate wickedness. Therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” Abraham; Isaiah; Aaron

Prov 24:11: “if you hold back from rescuing those taken away to death, those who go staggering to the slaughter.”

the rabbi’s students raising Antonius’s dead servant; out of four sons of Aaron two are saved (Lev 8:2) and two are dying (Exod 32:14)

While some think that prayer (Hezekiah: Isa 36:1; 38:5) atones for all whereas repentance atones half (Cain: Gen 4:13, 16), others think that repentance (men of Anathoth: Jer 11:22; Neh

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JOHANNA ERZBERGER 7:27; Jehoiachin: Jer 22:28, 30; 22:24; 1 Chr 3:17) atones for all whereas prayer atones for half (two sons of Aaron are dying [Deut 9:20; Amos 2:9], two are saved [Lev 8:2]). Lev 8:2: “… the vestments …”:

the clothes of the (high) priest atone. Lev 8:2: “… the anointing oil …”:

the first anointing oil was sufficient for the initiation of the cult, the anointing of the high priests up to the tenth generation; four exceptional kings; the time to come. Lev 8:2: “…the bull of sin offering, the two rams …”: the presentation of the sacrificed animals.

Lev 8:3: “and gather all the congregation together at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.” “A small thing holds a large one”: (1) Moses gathering the people at the entrance of the sanctuary; (2) the collection of the waters of creation in one place; (3) Moses using one hand to throw the ashes, which both Moses and Aaron collected with both of their hands in order to bring the plagues over Egypt (Exod 9:8); (4) the court of the sanctuary hosting all Israel (Exod 27:18); (5) Moses and Aaron gathering Israel at Meribah (Num 20:10); (6) Joshua gathering Israel between the rods of the ark (Josh 3:9, 10) ( as: Jerusalem). The future to come:

Jer 3:17: “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of YHWH; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it …”— How does Jerusalem seize them all? Isa 54:2–3: “Enlarge the site of your tent …”

Leviticus Rabbah 10 focuses on Lev 8:2–3. In its biblical context, Lev 8:2–3 offers an introduction of Lev 8, which focuses on those rites and sacrifices that constitute the ordination of Aaron and his sons. Leviticus 8:2–3 presents the subjects of the preliminary rites: Aaron and his sons, the clothes of the priests, the devices of the cult, and the altar. In the context of the biblical text, the congregation functions as witnesses (see v. 3). As the ordination of Aaron and his sons in Lev 8 implements the instructions concerning the

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priests in Exod 29:1–37, the initiation of the first priests stands in the context of the implementation of the cult. 14 The three opening petichot of Lev. Rab. 10 concentrate on the figure of Aaron: In a lengthy interpretation of Lev 8:2 in light of Ps 45:8, Abraham, Isaiah, and finally Aaron are presented as exemplary figures whose love of righteousness and hatred of wickedness express themselves in taking action in favor of the wicked. 15 A short interpretation of Lev 8:2 in light of Prov 24:11 aims at Aaron’s righteousness in saving the life of two of his four sons. The same evocation of Aaron saving two of his sons is part of a debate about the greater effectiveness of prayer versus repentance, which makes up a traditional unit that also appears in other midrashim. 16 Due to its overall dynamics and in contrast to the dynamics of the traditional unit, the example of Aaron’s prayer being half as effective as repentance nevertheless closes the peticha in this version. 17 In what follows, the midrash focuses on consecutive elements of Lev 8:2–3. The vestments point to the atoning function of the clothes of the high priest. The anointing oil, which was used for the initial ordination of Aaron and for the ordination of ten generations of high priests and several exemplary kings but which is said to last until the time to come, draws a picture of Israel’s history from the exodus to an eschatological future. 18 It also creates a tranSee Thomas Hieke, Levitikus 1–15 (HThKAT; Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2014), 331. Lev 8 stands in the context of Lev 8–10: Lev 9 describes the first sacrifices, which Aaron performs on behalf of himself and the people. The offense of Nadab and Abihu in Lev 10 constitutes the counterpoint of a failing cult. 15 Their love of righteousness and hate of wickedness expresses itself in their intercession for the wicked (Abraham) and their suffering for (Isaiah) or even taking over the sins of (Aaron) the wicked. All three are rewarded with a particular closeness to God, which in Aaron’s case is constituted by dispensations from the temple. 16 See Pesiq. Rab. 47. 17 This second example of the same interpretation within the same midrash, however, builds on different intertexts (Deut 9:20; Amos 2:9) as far as the death of the two sons is concerned. 18 It does not explicitly refer to postexilic times. 14

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sition to the last passage. 19 The midrash closes with a passage referring to the gathering of the people, which is interpreted by the traditional unit analyzed above. The final reference to the coming age contains the final interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2, constituting the last element of the list. The midrash takes up the topic of the cult but shifts its focus. In its biblical context, the investiture of the priests in Lev 8 represents the investiture of the sanctuary and the cult. The midrash focuses on the atoning function of the cult, which is prepared for by the atoning actions of important protagonists throughout Israel’s history and correlated with the atoning function of repentance and prayer. The assembly of the people, which in the biblical context has only a witnessing function, is revalued. It is the assembly of the people in the sanctuary, not the priests, the sacrifices, or the sanctuary as such, that finally indicates God’s presence among Israel and points to an eschatological future. The image of Jerusalem spreading and widening in order to include all those who return literally opens up the concept of the sanctuary and replaces it with a concept of the people standing in for the sanctuary and the cult and transcending the locality of Jerusalem.

PESIQTA DE RAB KAHANA 20

Isa 54:1: “Sing, O barren one who did not bear; burst into song and shout, you who have not been in labor! For the children of the desolate woman will be more than the children of her that is married, says YHWH.”

a) The “barren woman” is pointing to a) several barren women in Israel’s history, ending with personified Zion; b) Israel, Jerusalem, and Rachel (mother of Israel); c) the sanctuary (Song 4:3  fruits; sinner). Ps 72:16

The kind of fruit that the first man ate in the Garden of Eden. The transition is only interrupted by a short remark referring to the mentioned sacrificial animals and dealing with their presentation. The last element of Lev 8:2, the basket of unleavened bread, is not referred to in the midrash. 19

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Jer 3:17: “At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of YHWH, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of YHWH in Jerusalem”—How does Jerusalem seize them all? Isa 54:2–3: “Enlarge the site of your tent … For you will spread out to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess the nations and will settle the desolate towns.”

Zech 9:1: Damascus is YHWH’s resting place = Jerusalem (Ps 132:14). Jerusalem is expanding—in length (Isa 54:2); in the width (Zech 14:10); in height (Ezek 41:7). In the future, Jerusalem will touch the throne of glory (Isa 49:20; Zech 2:9).

Pesiqta de Rab Kahana 20 offers an interpretation of Isa 54:1–3 that initially concentrates on an exposition of Isa 54:1, interpreted section by section. The barren woman who finally has children is referred to in three consecutive interpretations: In the first part she represents a long series of barren women who finally give birth to a child or to children who either play an important role in Israel’s remembered history or represent Israel. 20 This part of the interpretation closes with personified Zion. In the second and third parts, the barren woman refers to three figures representing Israel and to the sanctuary, whose children are identified with the righteous produced by the sanctuary’s destruction (recalling the condition of the barren woman) and who are opposed by the sinners who arose at the time it was first built. The transition to the following interpretation of Ps 72, which discusses the identity of the fruit that the first man ate in the garden of Eden, seems awkward and is not easy to make sense of, but it might be initiated by the quotation of Song 4:3, where one detail (‫מדבר‬, usually understood to mean mouth) in The series starts with Sarah and the other wives of the patriarchs, continues with the mothers of Samson and Samuel, and closes with Zion. The wives of the patriarchs include Leah, who is not called ‫ עקר‬in the biblical texts, but experiences a period of infertility. On intertextual links constituted by the keyword ‫עקר‬, see Berges, Jesaja 49–54, 294. 20

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the description of the lover, understood to be God, is read as desert and thus as a reference to the sanctuary. It might also be initiated by the mention of sinners in the midrash. A final reference to the coming age, which in the context of the midrash also leads back to the initial text (Isa 54:2–3), once again uses the interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2 discussed above. Whereas it is the closing element in a long series of parallel examples in Gen. Rab. 5 and Lev. Rab. 10, it stands on its own in Pesiq. Rab Kah. 20. At the same time, it is largely extended. As in Lev. Rab. 10, Isa 54:2–3 is introduced as an answer to a question raised with regard to Jer 3:17 which should most likely be understood as referring to the great number of those returning: “Does Jerusalem hold them?” What follows, however, refers not to the great number of Jerusalem’s inhabitants but to the territories that are effected by Jerusalem’s extension. The enlargement of Jerusalem is further illustrated by quoting Zech 9:1, naming Hadrach and Damascus, which are defended against objections 21 to mean actual places. In its biblical context, Hadrach and Damascus introduce a list of foreign places that, after having been defeated by God for Israel’s sake, are now part of his territory, alongside Judah. 22 In compliance with the biblical quote, the midrash calls Damascus God’s resting place (‫)מנוחה‬. 23 By referring to Ps 132:14, the only other biblical passage besides 1 Chr 28:2 148F

One of the objections reads Hadrach as referring to the Messiah. In splitting ‫ חדרך‬into ‫ חד‬and ‫רך‬, the name is read as describing the Messiah’s attitude toward the nations (‫ )חד‬and toward Israel (‫)רך‬. In replacing the nations with the world (‫)העולם‬, one manuscript (‫ )צ‬undermines the opposition between Israel and the nations underlying the juxtaposition of Jer 3:17 and Isa 54:2, which the midrash is referring to by playing with those intertexts. 22 See Al Wolters, Zechariah (HCOT; Leuven: Peeters, 2014), 273. 23 The connection between Isa 54:3 and Zech 9:4 has further reference points in context. Zech 9:4 uses ‫ ירש‬to describe God possessing Tyre, which is also used in Isa 54:3 to describe Jerusalem’s descendants inheriting the nations by taking over their desolate cities or integrating them into Israel. 21

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that uses ‫ מנוחה‬to describe God’s eternal residence, 24 Damascus is identified with Jerusalem. 25 Jeremiah 30:18, which deals with a city that is rebuilt at its rightful place and identified with Jerusalem, is presented as contradicting a possible (mis)understanding of Zech 9:1 and Ps 132:14, according to which the identification of Jerusalem with Damascus might have implied that Jerusalem was being “replaced” with Damascus. 26 149F

150F

15F

In Isa 66:1 the ‫ מנוחה‬of God is part of a rhetorical question. The midrash refers to the psalm’s central topic of Zion as the place of God’s permanent and eternal residence, which is in the form of divine speech expressed in the closing passage of the psalm. It is preceded by God’s vow to establish a lasting Davidic dynasty as long as David’s descendants keep the covenant. In the context of the psalm, it answers David’s vow to find a place for YHWH, with which the psalm starts. In contrast to 1 Sam 7/2 Sam 6, which the vow is referring to, it is David who establishes the cult in Jerusalem. The midrash dispenses with the Davidic theme. David’s vow is followed by the quotation of a 3rd pers. pl., who are said to have found his ark in Efrata, asking God to come to his resting place, to which the final part refers. The mention of the ark (in the context of textual dynamics starting with the ark and ending with the temple; see Erich Zenger and Frank Lothar Hossfeld, Psalmen 101–150 [HThKAT; Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 2008], 617) and the implicit presentation of Zion as a woman whom God “desires” (‫ ;אוה‬see Zenger and Hossfeld, Psalmen 101–150, 626) establish other reference points. Within the psalm, the king’s crown might imply a priestly element. 26 The town, which is rebuilt according to Jer 30:18, is identified with Jerusalem by the midrash. Several details within the context of Jer 30:18 echo topics in the midrash. The midrash might or might not identify the following ‫ ארמון‬with the temple, as the LXX does, and the following sounds of thanksgiving and merrymaking with the cult, as the Targum does (cf. McKane, Jeremiah, 2:772). The ‫עדה‬, which is established before YHWH, might equally have a cultic connotation. The growing number (‫ )והיו בניו בקדם‬of Jacob’s sons as well as their establishment as an ‫עדה‬, whether cultic or not, echoes the main topics of the midrash. (Cf. McKane, Jeremiah, 2:773, according to whom the ‫ עדה‬might have a cultic connotation or represent a political assembly.) The investiture of leadership is not echoed by the midrash, regardless of whether it is read as referring to priestly leadership. (Cf. McKane, Jeremiah, 2:774.) 24 25

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Isaiah 54:2–3 is reintroduced and supplemented by Zech 14:10 and Ezek 41:7 in order to illustrate the “correct” understanding, according to which Jerusalem will not be replaced but rather will expand in every direction until it covers Damascus. 27 The description of Jerusalem in the context of Zech 14:10, referring to the dimensions of the town, 28 echoes several central themes of the midrash: the abandoning of any distinction between profane and holy and the assumption of characteristics of the sanctuary by Jerusalem echoes Jerusalem’s replacing the sanctuary. Ezekiel 41:7, which the midrash reads as indicating Jerusalem’s height, is part of a passage describing an annex of the temple’s main building that is taller than the main temple building. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana 20 closes with a second (and perhaps secondary) reference to the coming age, taking up a figure of interpretation known from Genesis Rabbah and, ironically, breaking it: in the future, the expansion will continue until Jerusalem touches God’s throne. The throne of God here echoes the throne of God in Jer 3:17, one of the two verses that are part of the traditional unit on which the passage is building. Jeremiah 3:17, however, is not explicitly cited. The verse that explicitly introduces the throne of God here is Isa 49:20. In asking God to make a place for her, in Isa 49:20 Jerusalem demands from God the same thing that she witnesses her returning children demanding from those who are already there. 29 Does Jerusalem push God off the throne? Though the term ‫עקר‬, which the midrash and several of its intertexts use (Gen 11:20; 29:31; Judg 13:3; Isa 54:1, etc.) is missing, Zion’s initial childlessness 30 echoes the main topic of the midrash. Several textu15F

‫ ל‬corrects the three dimensions of Jerusalem to two and erases the city’s extension into the heights by replacing ‫מתרחבת ועולה והגליות באות‬ ‫ ונחות תחתיה‬with ‫מתרחבת הולכת ובאות ונחות‬. 28 Though the text refers to the lowering of the surroundings to create a plain and the elevation of Jerusalem, this verse is quoted to indicate Jerusalem’s enlargement not in width but in height. 29 See Goldingay, Isaiah 40–55, 191. 30 In the context of the biblical text, the future remark about the children addressing Jerusalem (v. 20b) is part of a promise of salvation that is contrasted (and framed) by those children’s description as “the 27

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al elements echo several of its intertexts. The land, which will be crowded by those who are gathering, who are identified with Zion’s children, is described by the same term (‫ )שמם‬as are the cities in which Jerusalem’s descendants will settle according to Isa 54:3. Jerusalem’s expansion to reach the throne of God signifies the city’s superiority and glory. The glory and “superiority” of Jerusalem thus carried to extremes—but ironically broken—is moderated by a final remark, attributed to Jose bar Rabbi Nehemiah: Zech 2:9 characterizes the glory of Jerusalem as God’s presence around Jerusalem and in her midst. In its biblical context, Zech 2:9 closes the third vision of the man who is measuring Jerusalem. The declaration that Jerusalem will remain an open town, without a wall, in order to host the great number of people living there (alluded to in Zech 2:8) is a variation on a central proposition of the initial interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2.

SPATIAL DIMENSIONS

The hypertexts of Genesis Rabbah, Leviticus Rabbah, and Pesiqta de Rab Kahana all refer to spatial dimensions. In reading Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2, they share one significant interpretational feature, namely, the eschatological enlargement of Jerusalem. However, the three midrashim highlight three distinct elements of this interpretation. By underlining the enlargement of Jerusalem’s width in order to encompass those who constitute the eschatological assembly which replaces the cult, Leviticus Rabbah thus highlights the assembly. Genesis Rabbah highlights the vertical enlargement of Jerusalem to reach the throne of God, thus completing Israel’s history, which is inscribed in a cosmic drama. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana underlines both the vertical and the horizontal enlargement of Jerusalem. In discussing Jerusalem’s enlarged width, the extension of the traditional material in Pesiqta de Rab Kahana makes explicit the subversive subtext of Israel’s relationship to the foreign nations, children of her childlessness” (‫בני שכליך‬, v. 20a) and by Zion’s selfdescription as childless and barren and someone who has not given birth (v. 21).

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which neither Genesis Rabbah nor Leviticus Rabbah explicitly refer to. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana illustrates the enlargement of Jerusalem using Hadrach and Damascus as reference points. The specific role of Jerusalem, which the traditional material is aiming at, is questioned by the identification of Damascus with God’s resting place, which opens up the possibility of Damascus replacing Jerusalem. This option is then rejected by the midrash. On the surface, the image of Jerusalem covering Damascus either literally erases the mention of the nations or integrates them into Israel. 31 The horizontal enlargement of Jerusalem up to the throne of God is restricted to signify Jerusalem’s superiority and glory without signifying the completion of creation as it does in Genesis Rabbah.

SUMMARY AND RESULTS

The different shapes and contexts given to the interpretation of Jer 3:17 in light of Isa 54:2–3 in Genesis Rabbah, Leviticus Rabbah, and Pesiqta de Rab Kahana point to distinctively different understandings of Israel. In each midrash, Jerusalem holds and thus represents the congregation of Israel. Leviticus Rabbah focuses on Israel as a community of prayer and atonement that stands in the tradition of Israel as cult and temple community. Genesis Rabbah focuses on Israel’s predestined history, which is inscribed in the plan and drama of creation. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana draws a picture of Israel’s future as a growing community whose glory—in a humorous turn—is likely to throw God off his throne. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana plays a specific role in discussing a textual element that has In what follows, the subject is present under the surface, although in a contradictory manner. How much the author or implied reader is aware of this must remain an open question, as the subject is not explicitly referred to again: Zech 14:10 describes Jerusalem as the center of a newly organized world. What is left of the nations after God has used them as an instrument of punishment against Jerusalem and has turned against them in Jerusalem’s defense comes to Jerusalem in order to take part in the cult. In the context of Isa 48:20, the pilgrimage of the nations to Zion is entirely at the service of the return of Zion’s children. In the context of Zech 2:9, the covenant formula refers to the nation. 31

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the potential to create a subversive subtext with regard to the spatial image of the enlargement of Jerusalem: the midrash can be understood either as erasing any mention of the nations present in several intertexts or as integrating them into Israel. Pesiqta de Rab Kahana, by using figures of interpretation known from Genesis Rabbah and Leviticus Rabbah, answers a potential question that lurks beneath the surface of all three midrashim.

MIDRASH AND METALEPSIS IN GENESIS RABBAH: A REAPPRAISAL OF RABBINIC ATOMISM NICHOLAS J. SCHASER VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY

The extent to which rabbinic authors attended to the context of the biblical verses they cited remains an open question. A common scholarly view is that the rabbis used Scripture atomistically—that is, without attention to its original context. In the atomistic approach, the rabbis are thought to remove a verse (or a part of a verse) from its narrative surroundings and juxtapose it with other decontextualized verses from elsewhere in Scripture. While rabbinic literature sometimes uses Scripture atomistically, this article argues that we have overemphasized atomism without giving due attention to contextual exegesis. The literary device of metalepsis, which points the reader to the biblical narrative beyond the cited text, allows for broader contextual considerations of midrash. A prime example of metalepsis in midrash is Genesis Rabbah 19:9, which contains Scriptural juxtapositions that compare Adam’s expulsion from Eden with Israel’s exile. The wider contexts of the verses cited in Gen R. 19:9 establish an extensive narrative pattern between the biblical accounts of Adam and Israel. In what follows, I offer a reading of midrash that challenges the prevailing theory of atomism. This article proceeds in four parts. First, I introduce the atomistic approach to midrash, which continues to be the more popular scholarly stance since George Foot Moore’s assessment of rabbinic exegesis in the 1920s. As James Kugel has promoted an understanding of atomism that has informed rabbinic scholarship for over thirty years, I refer to his approach as a representative case of 107

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atomistic reading. Second, I note that some have responded by tempering the generalization of atomism in rabbinic texts, and have therefore provided a basis for my own non-atomistic examination of Genesis Rabbah. Third, I present metalepsis as a literary device that allows for an approach that is focused on the Scriptural material beyond what the midrash explicitly cites. Finally, I employ metalepsis in my analysis of Gen. Rab. 19:9 to show that the theory of atomism is not an adequate description of the midrashic use of Scripture in this passage. To the contrary, the rabbis who present the Scriptural interpretation in Gen. Rab. 19:9 are supremely aware of their verses’ biblical contexts. Therefore, our own attention to context in the reading of midrash is crucial for a comprehensive understanding of the rabbinic exegetical project.

ATOMISTIC READING OF RABBINIC LITERATURE

Since the early twentieth century, the dominant scholarly assumption regarding rabbinic exegesis has been that the rabbis employ an atomistic approach in which the scope of citations is limited to single verses, which are interpreted without regard for their original contexts. In 1927, George Foot Moore argued that the rabbinic use of Scripture constitutes “an atomistic exegesis, which interprets sentences, clauses, phrases, and even single words independently of the context or the historical occasion… combines them with other similarly detached utterances; and makes large use of analogy of expressions, often by purely verbal association.” 1 Much more recently, Carol Bakhos has restated Moore’s assessment of rabbinic atomism: [The notion] that a verse must be understood in its context, that what comes before and after the verse is important in determining its meaning, goes against the rabbinic atomistic, verso-centric approach. For the rabbis, verses are removed from their immediate context and recontextualized vis-à-vis other texts ostensibly by means of word association. Discrete verses

George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim [3 Vols.] (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927–30), 1.248. 1

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serve as the midrash’s tesserae. The rabbinic orientation toward intertextual reading runs in the opposite direction of reading verses in situ. They are to be read in isolation of that context and in light of other verses. 2

These two quotations—the first from the late 1920s and the second from 2014—demonstrate the persistence of this long-held understanding of rabbinic exegesis as atomistic. Since the early 1980s, James Kugel has promoted a variation of Moore’s conclusion. 3 Kugel claims that the rabbinic atomistic approach—one that interprets single verses at a time throughout a given midrashic compilation—came about because, often, ancient Jews could not remember the broader biblical contexts of individual verses. Since the rabbis remembered verses at some remove Carol Bakhos, The Family of Abraham: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Interpretations (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014), 49 (emphasis original). 3 See James L. Kugel, “Two Introductions to Midrash,” Prooftexts 3 (1983): 131–55. For views on both rabbinic and Second Temple literature that also agree with Moore, but predate Kugel, see Yitzhak Heinemann, Methods of Aggadah [Hebrew] (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1949), 100–01; Fritz Maass, “Von den Ursprügen der rabbinischen Schriftauslegung,” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 52 (1955): 129–61, esp. 148; Sigmund Mowinckel, He That Cometh: The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005 [1956]), 323, 336 n. 3; E. Earle Ellis, “Jesus, the Sadducees, and Qumran,” New Testament Studies 10 (1963/64), 275; D. S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, 200 BC – AD 100 (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 1964), 179–80; Addison Wright, The Literary Genre: Midrash (Staten Island: Alba House, 1967), 63; Daniel Patte, Early Jewish Hermeneutic in Palestine (Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1975), 75; Patricia Crone, Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980), 5; Israel Drazin, Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy: An English Translation of the Text with Analysis and Commentary (New York: Ktav, 1982), 49. Paul Humbert categorized targumic exegesis as “atomistic” before Moore’s comments regarding Tannaitic literature, more generally. See Paul Humbert, “Le Messie dans le Targum des prophètes,” Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie 44 (1911): 5–46, esp. 20. 2

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from their original context, the midrash follows suit in explicating one verse at a time. In his summary of the verse-centered method of midrash, Kugel claims that although a “gifted memory” would be able to recall the immediate context of a given verse, “it was sometimes difficult to recall the larger context of the verse in question—‘Is that what Abraham said… or what Isaac said?’ ‘Is that in Psalm 145, or Psalm 34?’ Midrash generally seems to be addressing its verse in the same relative isolation in which it is remembered… often without reference to the wider context.” 4 For Kugel, on the one hand, midrash is atomistic in its neglect of the biblical contexts upon which it draws. On the other hand, as a result of this acontextual handling of Scripture, the midrashic compilations themselves attend to single verses or even “bits” of verses that are “rather atomistic, and… not part of an overall exegesis at all.” 5 Rather than reflecting on a sustained passage of Scripture, midrash is, as a rule, only concerned with understanding the individual verse, or bits thereof. Thus, Kugel sees two related levels of rabbinic atomism: the rabbinic memory of Scripture was often atomistic, and the verse-by-verse procedure of midrashic explication reflects the rabbis’ approach to Scripture. Kugel does not argue that all midrashic discussions revolve around a single verse. Instead, he clarifies that verses usually appear on their own “with the exception of certain patterns.” 6 The patterns to which Kugel alludes include biblical descriptions of dreams that the rabbis often interpret as a sustained passage (e.g., Gen 28:10–17; 37:1–9), and the so-called ‫ קרא פטר‬pattern, which begins, “Rabbi X interpreted the verse,” and includes an interpretation of several verses from the same passage. 7 He rightly notes that these instances are not strictly atomistic since they include multiple verses in succession. However, he does not mean that each verse 163F

Kugel, “Introductions,” 147. Ibid. 6 Ibid. 7 See ibid., 152 n. 7; cf. 154 n. 26. For more on the ‫ קרא פטר‬pattern and its relationship to Qumranic literature, see Lou H. Silberman, “Unriddling the Riddle: Structure and Language of 1QP Hab.,” Revue de Qumran 11 (1961): 323–64; cf. Heinemann, Methods, 58–59. 4 5

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necessarily attends to its original biblical context. Kugel highlights these patterns because they include successive verses in the midrashic discussion—so that the discussion itself is not atomistic—not because knowledge of these verses’ biblical contexts is required for understanding that discussion. To illustrate the atomistic nature of midrash, Kugel offers an example from Genesis Rabbah, which contains several opinions about the meaning(s) of Gen 21:1: “The Lord remembered Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had spoken.” 8 In Gen. Rab. 53:5, various rabbis comment on the meaning of the specific phrases of this verse: R. Judah expounded, “‘The Lord remembered Sarah’ in order to give her a son; ‘and the Lord did to Sarah as he had spoken’ [that is, he fulfilled his promise] to bless her with milk.” R. Nehemiah said to him, “Had she already been informed about milk [previously in the biblical narrative]? This teaches, rather, that God restored to her the days of her youth. R. Abbahu said, “He [God] inspired all people with fear of her, so that they should not call her a barren woman. R. Judan said, “She lacked an ovary, thus the Lord fashioned an ovary for her.” In light of the focus on “bits” of Gen 21:1 in this passage, Kugel concludes that midrash proceeds “independent of any larger exegetical context.” 9 However, this is not quite true; rather, R. Nehemiah’s disagreement with R. Judah is predicated upon the larger context of Sarah’s story. R. Nehemiah challenges R. Judah’s initial assertion that Gen 21:1 refers to God fulfilling a promise to bless Sarah with milk, and rightly retorts that Sarah had not been “informed about milk” at any point before Gen 21:1. Therefore, R. Nehemiah reasons, the verse in question cannot refer to God blessing Sarah with milk; instead, it shows that God “restored to her the days of her youth,” which has a biblical basis in that “Sarah [was] old, advanced in years”—having already gone through menopause (Gen 18:11)—and God still gave her a son. In order to understand why R. Nehemiah objects to R. Judah’s comment about milk and 8 9

See “Introductions,” 146. Ibid., 147.

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offers “restoration to youth” as an alternative, one must be familiar with the biblical context of Genesis 18-21. Another problem with Kugel’s conclusion about Gen. Rab. 53:5 is that he does not attend to the immediately following midrashic comment, which confirms that the rabbis clearly remember the verses in their original context, rather than in the “suspended animation” that Kugel imagines. 10 After the various comments about God giving Sarah youth to bear a child, milk to sustain her child, and an ovary to produce her child, the discussion turns to the wickedness of Amalek, the righteousness of Sarah, and God’s repayments to them both: R. Adda said, “The Holy One, blessed be he, is a trustee: Amalek deposited bundles of thorns [i.e., wrongdoings], therefore [God] returned to [Amalek] bundles of thorns [i.e., punishments], as it says, ‘I remember that which Amalek did to Israel’ (1 Sam 15:2). Sarah [on the other hand] laid up with [God] a store of pious acts and good deeds, therefore the Lord returned her [the reward for] them, as it says, ‘The Lord remembered Sarah’” (Gen 21:1).

The citations of 1 Sam 15:2 and Gen 21:1 recall the contexts of both verses, so that neither of them is taken out of their biblical context; to the contrary, the verses need each other in order for R. Adda to make his point. First Sam 15:2 alludes to “that which Amalek did to Israel,” which the prophet Samuel explicates in 1 Sam 15:32–33. Before killing “Agag the king of the Amalekites,” Samuel says to him, “As your sword has made women childless, so shall your mother be childless among women’” (15:33). Thus, when Gen. Rab. 53:5 notes that God repaid Amalek for his wrongdoing with reference to 1 Sam 15:2, the midrash alludes the fact that the king made women “childless” according to 1 Sam 15:33. In Sarah’s case, because of her righteousness God repaid her with a child—the positive inverse of the “childlessness” he repaid to Amalek: “The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had spoken. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son” (Gen 21:1-2). In order to understand R. Adda’s assertion that Amalek 10

Ibid., 146.

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and Sarah got what they deserved, one needs to know that the biblical contexts of Gen 21:1 and 1 Sam 15:2 refer to childbearing and childlessness, respectively. The example of Gen. Rab. 53:5 not only argues against Kugel’s claims about rabbinic atomism, but it also contradicts Bakhos’s claim that “rabbinic… intertextual reading runs in the opposite direction of reading verses in situ.” 11 In the case of Gen. Rab. 53:5, the exact opposite is true: rabbinic intertextual reading is dependent upon reading verses in situ. As noted above, Kugel does not preclude the idea that a gifted rabbinic mind could recall a verse’s context; therefore, he does not claim that all midrashic exegesis isolates the verse from its original Scriptural surroundings. Kugel demonstrates attention to a verse’s context in his treatment of Pesiqta Rabbati 28 [28:7], which follows a citation of Psalm 137:1 with a story about the Israelites’ exile to Babylon: “There we sat down, yea we wept…” [Ps 137:1]. Why does it say “there we sat down?” This teaches that they had no reststop from the time they left the Land of Israel until they reached the Euphrates. They had no rest to sit down because they [the Babylonians] had taken counsel concerning them…. Therefore they pressed them and harried them against their will, as it is said, “On our necks we were pursued…” [Lam. 5:5]. 12

While this passage opens as an interpretation of Ps 137:1, Kugel notes that the assertion that Israel had “no rest-stop” between Israel and Babylon actually relates to “Lam. 5:5, only partially cited by the midrashist…. ‘On our necks we were pursued, exhausted, we were given no rest.’” 13 Kugel shows that, in this instance, the direction of the exegesis is contingent upon the entirety of Lam 5:5 (which the writer had memorized but chose not to cite in full). However, because this example does not extend past the single verse of Lam Bakhos, Abraham, 49. Quoted from James L. Kugel, In Potiphar’s House: The Interpretive Life of Biblical Texts (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990), 180 (emphasis original). 13 Ibid., 181 (emphasis original). 11 12

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5:5, Kugel can still claim, “early biblical exegesis is relentlessly verse-centered…. That is, our midrashists did not as a general rule seek to explicate larger units—a whole pericope or chapter—at one blow.” 14 While this “general rule” holds for Kugel’s example of Lam 5:5 in Pesiqta Rabbati 28 [28:7], the rule does not hold for his reading of Gen. Rab. 53:5 above. There, the reference to Amalek in 1 Sam 15:2 alludes to “childlessness” in 1 Sam 15:33, thereby making a comment on nearly the whole 35-verse chapter. Many scholars have adopted Kugel’s assessment of midrash as verse-centered and unconcerned with biblical context. David Stern, for example, refers to Kugel’s framework in his analysis of parables in midrash: The larger literary units that we most comfortably use in reading and interpreting the meaning of literary works—the document as a whole, chapters, even subsections in chapters, or discrete narrative or legal sections in a work like the Bible—do not constitute significant units of meaning for midrash… [which] tends to be, in James Kugel’s felicitous phrase, “versocentric”—that is, oriented to interpreting the meaning of verses (or parts of verses) in isolation from their larger contexts in situ. 15

This comment about midrash’s verse-centric isolationist tendencies draws on Kugel and also presents the rabbinic aversion to Scriptural context in stronger terms. Bakhos also cites Kugel in her similar assessment of rabbis whose use of Scripture runs counter to reading verses “in situ.” 16 Thus, Kugel’s atomistic framework for reading midrash continues to resonate in scholarly discussions of rabbinic literature. 17 Ibid., 254-55. David Stern, Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), 153–54 (emphasis original). 16 Bakhos [Abraham, 235 n. 109] includes a footnote to Kugel’s “Two Introductions” for support of her atomistic reading. 17 For further studies that build on Kugel’s notion of atomism, see, e.g., Elizabeth Shanks Alexander, Transmitting Mishnah: The Shaping Influence 14 15

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CONTEXTUAL READING OF RABBINIC LITERATURE

Since Kugel, several scholars have taken issue with the overarching application of atomism to rabbinic texts. 18 For our purposes, an example of contextual exegesis in Alexander Samely’s analysis of the Mishnah will provide a template for my own reading of Genesis Rabbah. Samely recognizes that the Mishnah cites parts of verses that support the mishnaic conclusion through their allusions to biblical context. For instance, he notes the use of Gen 34:25 as a proof for when a child should be bathed after circumcision according to m. Shab. 9:3: “How [do we know] that one bathes a child on the third day [after circumcision] that falls [even] on the Sabbath? Because it is said, ‘And it came to pass on the third day when they were in pain’” (Gen 34:25). While there is no mention of circumcision in Gen 34:25, the Mishnah assumes knowledge of the referof Oral Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), esp. 8485; Benjamin D. Sommer, “Concepts of Scriptural Language in Midrash,” in ibid., ed., Jewish Concepts of Scripture: A Comparative Introduction (New York: New York University Press, 2012), 64–79, esp. 66–69. For more general assessments of rabbinic exegesis as atomistic, see Arnold Goldberg, “The Rabbinic View of Scripture,” in Philip R. Davies and Richard T. White, eds., A Tribute to Geza Vermes: Essays on Jewish and Christian Literature and History (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990), 156; Burton L. Visotzky, Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006), 114–15; Philip S. Alexander, “Rabbinic and Patristic Bible Exegesis as Intertexts: Towards a Theory of Comparative Midrash,” in R. Timothy McLay, ed., The Temple in Text and Tradition: A Festschrift in Honour of Robert Hayward (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), 79–80. 18 See, e.g., David Weiss Halivni, Peshat and Derash: Plain and Applied Meaning in Rabbinic Exegesis (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 10; David Instone Brewer, Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exegesis before 70 CE (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992), 1; Alexander Samely, Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 41; Azzan Yadin, Scripture as Logos: Rabbi Ishmael and the Origins of Midrash (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), 61; Aaron Koller, Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 170–71.

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ence to every male of Shechem being “circumcised” in the preceding verse (Gen 34:24). Without prior knowledge of the information surrounding Gen 34:25, the relevance of the verse to a discussion about circumcision is not at all apparent, but the wider context supports the mishnaic conclusion. Samely notes that such examples consist of legal decisions and their supporting verses that are “linked by cohesive signals or narrative connectedness beyond the [biblical] clause… [which] show[s] that the ‘atomistic’… approach, while prominent, is very far from being universal in Mishnaic hermeneutics.” 19 The fact that the narrative beyond the biblical clause is necessary for understanding the mishnaic argument shows that we should not presuppose atomism when trying to make sense of rabbinic exegesis.

METALEPSIS

The literary device known as “metalepsis” provides the methodological terminology for returning to a citation’s original context, and then reading beyond the cited text. According to Richard Hays, metalepsis “requires the reader to interpret a citation… by recalling aspects of the original context that are not explicitly quoted.” 20 To Samely, Mishnah, 41. Richard B. Hays, “Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: Abstract,” in Craig A. Evans and James A. Sanders, eds., Paul and the Scriptures of Israel (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 43; cf. idem., Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), 2023. Hays adopts the term from John Hollander, The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After (Berkeley: University of California Press), 1981. For those who utilize Hollander’s formulation of metalepsis in literary studies, see Daniel Fischlin, In Small Proportions: A Poetics of the English Ayre 1596–1622 (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998), 169–190; Matthew Gibson, Yeats, Coleridge and the Romantic Sage (London: Macmillan, 2000), 88–89; Madhavi Menon, Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004), 85– 86; Harold Bloom, “Whitman’s Image of Voice: To the Tally of My Soul,” in ibid., The American Renaissance (New York: Chelsea House, 2004), 141. For those who follow Hays (and Hollander) in biblical studies, see Bruce Norman Fisk, Do You Not Remember? Scripture, Story, and Exegesis in the Re19 20

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read a text with metalepsis in mind is to imagine an ellipsis at the end of each citation, so that only small portions of the citations are needed in order to allude to material that appears beyond what appears on the page. 21 Metalepsis engages the reader in constructing narrative patterns—the author of a text (A) cites words and phrases from a precedent text (B), and the reader returns to the context of the precedent text in order to make further connections between both texts. Thus, with its “structural reliance on the unsaid… metalepsis is formally contingent upon readerly activity, responding to (perceived) signals in a text left by a (constructed) author.” 22 The author may have intended that the reader would recall the context of the precedent text, but one need not make recourse to authorial intent for metalepsis to produce meaning for the reader. As a literary approach, metalepsis works regardless of one’s philosophy regarding authorial intent vis-à-vis reader response. One must read a passage metaleptically, and then provide textual evidence to support the idea that the midrashic discussion is contingent upon the biblical context.

RABBINIC METALEPSIS IN GENESIS R ABBAH 19:9

Genesis Rabbah 19:9 provides a sustained example of how metalepsis can function in the reading of midrash, and, conversely, highlights the shortcomings of the atomistic approach. Gen. Rab. 19:9 uses Scripture to compare Adam’s experiences in, and expulsion from, written Bible of Pseudo-Philo (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), 69; Kenneth Duncan Litwak, Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts: Telling the History of God’s People Intertextually (London: T&T Clark, 2005), 52; Christopher A. Beetham, Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 22–23; Ruth Sheridan, “The Testimony of Two Witnesses: John 8:17,” in Alicia D. Myers and Bruce G. Schuchard, eds., Abiding Words: The Use of Scripture in the Gospel of John (Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015), 167; cf. Jeannine K. Brown, “Metalepsis,” in B. J. Oropeza and Steve Moyise, eds., Exploring Intertextuality: Diverse Strategies for New Testament Interpretation of Texts (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2016), 29–41. 21 For metalepsis as ellipsis, see Hollander, Figure of Echo, 115. 22 Matthew Scott, The Hermeneutics of Christological Psalmody in Paul: An Intertextual Inquiry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 6.

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the Garden of Eden with the Israelites’ captivity in, and exile from, the Land of Israel. When we read the Scriptural pairings in Gen. Rab. 19:9 metaleptically, we can identify similarities between the narratives of Adam and Israel that would not have been visible within an atomistic framework. Metalepsis enables the reader to see that none of the verses in the passage is taken out of context; rather, the original context of each verse is required for recognizing the wide-reaching narrative pattern between Adam and Israel. Gen. Rab. 19:9 reads, ‫כת' והמה כאדם עברו ברית וגו' )הושע ו ז( המה כאדם כאדם‬ ‫הראשון מה אדם הראשון הכנסתיו לגן עדן וציויתיו ועבר על ציוויי‬ ‫ודנתי אותו בשילוחים ובגירושין וקוננתי עליו איכה הכנסתיו לגן עדן‬ (‫דכת' ויקח יי אלהים את האדם ויניחהו בגן עדן )בראשית ב טו‬ ‫ טז( ועבר על ציוויי‬/'‫בראשית ב‬/ ‫וציויתיו ויצו יי אלהים וגו' )שם שם‬ ‫ ג יא( ודנתי אותו בשילוחים‬/‫בראשית‬/ ‫המן העץ אשר ציויתיך )שם‬ ‫ כג( ודנתי אותו‬/'‫בראשית ג‬/ ‫וישלחהו יי אלהים מגן עדן )שם שם‬ ‫ כד( קוננתי עליו‬/'‫בראשית ג‬/ ‫בגירושין ויגרש את האדם )שם שם‬ ‫איכה ויאמר לו איכה איכה כת' אף בניו הכנסתים לארץ ישראל‬ ‫וציויתים ועברו על ציוויי ודנתים בשילוחים ובגירושין וקוננתי עליהם‬ ‫איכה הכנסתים לארץ ישראל ואביא אתכם אל ארץ הכרמל )ירמיה‬ ‫ב ז( ציויתים ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל )שמות כז כ( צו את בני‬ ‫ישראל )ויקרא כד ב( עברו על ציוויי וכל ישראל עברו על תורתך‬ (‫)דניאל ט יא( דנתים בשילוחים שלח מעל פני ויצאו )ירמיה טו א‬ ‫בגירושין מביתי אגרשם )הושע ט טו( וקוננתי עליהם איכה איכה‬ (‫ישבה בדד )איכה א א‬

It is written, “They, like a man, have transgressed the covenant, etc.” (Hos 6:7). “They, like a man,” like the first man [Adam]. What [about] the first man?

Just as I led him into the Garden of Eden and commanded him, and he transgressed my command, and I punished him by sending out and driving out, and mourned over him, “How?”—I led him into the Garden of Eden as it is written, “And the Lord took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden” (Gen 2:15); and I commanded him, “And the Lord God commanded,” etc. (2:16); and he transgressed my command, “Have you eaten of the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?” (3:11). And I punished him by sending out: “Therefore, the Lord God sent him forth from the Garden of

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Eden” (3:23); and I punished him by driving out: “So he drove out the human” (3:24). I mourned over him, “How?”—“And he said to him, “Where are you?” (‫)איֶּ ָכּה‬ ַ (Gen 3:9)—“How” (‫יכה‬ ָ ‫)א‬ ֵ is written.

So [also] I led his children into the Land of Israel: “And I brought you into a land of fruitful fields” (Jer 2:7); I commanded them: “And you shall command the children of Israel” (Exod 27:20), “Command the children of Israel” (Lev 24:2); but they transgressed my command: “Indeed, all Israel has transgressed your Torah” (Dan 9:11); I punished by sending them away: “Send them out of my sight, and let them go” (Jer 15:1); by driving them out: “From my house I will drive them out” (Hos 9:15); and I mourned over them, “How?”: “How [the city] sits alone” (Lam 1:1). 23

This passage includes a wordplay on God’s question to Adam in Gen 3:9: “Where are you?” (‫) ַאיֶּ ָכּה‬. In reading the question as “How?” (‫יכה‬ ָ ‫)א‬, ֵ the midrash links God’s question in Gen 3:9 with Israel’s lament in Lam 1:1. 24 Through this wordplay, the rabbinic 180F

Parallels to Genesis Rabbah 19:9 appear in Lamentations Rabbah proem 4 and Pesiqta de Rav Kahana 15:1. The Targum to Lamentations 1:1 similarly equates the exiles of the first humans and Israel, and 4Q167: 7-8 may also reflect this tradition: “[Like Adam] they broke the covenant… Interpretation: […] they abandoned God and followed the laws of […].” The Babylonian Talmud also cites Hos 6:7 with reference to Adam (b. Sanh. 38a). 24 For brief treatments of this midrash, see Hanneke Reuling, After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16-21 (Leiden: Brill, 2006), 269; Gabrielle Oberhänsil-Widmer, Biblische Figuren in der rabbinischen Literatur: Gleichnisse und Bilder zu Adam, Noah und Abraham im Midrasch Bereschit Rabba (Bern: Peter Lang, 1998), 149–52; Seth D. Postell, Adam as Israel: Genesis 13 as the Introduction to the Torah and Tanakh (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011), 6–7; Gary A. Anderson, The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 15– 16, 197; Jacob Neusner, Confronting Creation: How Judaism Reads Genesis: An Anthology of Genesis Rabbah (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991), 103–05. Also see Neusner’s comments on this passage as it appears 23

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commentator imposes a new word and meaning onto the original text of Genesis. 25 While this relationship between Genesis and Lamentations is the product of midrashic manipulation, the rest of the passage includes strong parallels between Adam and Israel, inherent to the Bible itself, which support the rabbinic conviction that Adam’s experiences echo those of Israel, and vice versa. 26 Our midrash draws its initial parallel between Gen 2:15a and Jer 2:7a, which describe Adam and Israel being placed into Eden and the Land of Israel, respectively: ‫ויקח יהוה את האדם וינחהו בגן עדן‬

And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden. (Gen 2:15a) ‫ואביא אתכם אל ארץ הכרמל‬

And I brought you into a plentiful Land. (Jer 2:7a)

in Pesiqta and Lamentations Rabbah, respectively, in Jacob Neusner, SelfFulfilling Prophecy: Exile and Return in the History of Judaism (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987), 222–24; idem., A Theological Commentary to the Midrash: Lamentations Rabbati (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001), 9–10; cf. Isaiah M. Gafni, Land, Center and Diaspora: Jewish Constructs in Late Antiquity (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997), 25. 25 See Anderson, Genesis, 16. 26 Scholars often note the similarities in the biblical narratives between Adam’s expulsion from Eden and Israel’s exile. See, e.g., Anderson, Genesis, 15, 121, 208; Arnold M. Eisen, Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986), 4–7; Robin Parry, “Prolegomena to Christian Theological Interpretations of Lamentations,” in Craig G. Bartholomew, Scott Hahn, Robin Parry, Christopher Seitz, and Al Wolters, eds., Canon and Biblical Interpretation, Volume 7 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 408; G. K. Beale, The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 120–21; Nancy E. Berg, Exile from Exile: Israeli Writers from Iraq (New York: SUNY, 1996), 9. Like the rabbis, Jubilees also casts Adam’s story in light of Israel’s experiences. See James M. Scott, On Earth as it is in Heaven: The Restoration of Sacred Time and Space in the Book of Jubilees (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 132–40.

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While these citations share no words in common, the rest of Jer 2:7 (which the rabbis do not cite) provides the linguistic connection to Adam’s story: “And I brought you into a plentiful land to eat (‫ )לאכל‬of its fruit (‫ )פריה‬and its goodness (‫)וטובה‬.” The words “eat,” “fruit,” and “good” appear consistently throughout Gen 2–3, so that the unstated part of Jer 2:7 secures the connection to Eden: And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may eat freely (‫ )אכל תאכל‬from every tree of the garden, but you shall not eat (‫ )לא תאכל‬from the tree of the knowledge of good (‫ )טוב‬and evil, for the day you eat (‫ )אכלך‬from it, you will surely die…. And the woman said to the snake, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden (‫)מי פרי עץ נאכל‬, but of the fruit of the tree (‫ )מפרי עץ‬in the middle of the garden, God said, ‘You shall not eat (‫)אל תאכל‬, nor shall you touch it, lest you die’”…. When the woman saw that the tree was good for food (‫ …)טוב העץ למאכל‬she took of its fruit and she ate (‫)מפריו ותאכל‬, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (‫)ויאכל‬. (Gen 2:16-17; 3:2-3, 6 cf. 3:11-14, 17-19, 22)

While one might conclude that the rabbinic use of Scripture is atomistic based on a restrictive reading of only the cited words, metalepsis allows the reader to identify the linguistic and thematic connections to which the rabbis only allude in their partial biblical citations. Continuing to read metaleptically, the verses on either side of Jer 2:7 contain the inverse of God’s question to Adam in Gen 3:9: “Where are you?” (aykh). Speaking of a wayward Israel, God states, They did not say, “Where is the Lord (‫ )איה יהוה‬who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, who led us through the wilderness, through a land of deserts and pits, through a land of drought and the shadow of death, through a land that no man passed through, and where no human (‫ )אדם‬dwelt. 27 And I 183F

Genesis Rabbah equates the ‫ אדם‬of Jer 2:6 with Adam: “Thus it is written, ‘Through a land that no man passed through, and where no per27

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NICHOLAS J. SCHASER brought you into a plentiful Land to eat of its fruit and its goodness. But when you came in, you defiled my Land and made my heritage an abomination. The priests did not say, “Where is the Lord?” (‫)איה יהוה‬. And those who handle the Torah do not know me, and the rulers transgressed against me. (Jer 2:6–8a)

Jer 2:6–8 describes the people of Israel coming out of Egypt and into a Land that the prophet compares with a pre-human Eden where no “Adam” had yet dwelt. However, when Israel entered this new Eden, ripe with edible fruit, they transgressed God’s command, just as Adam did in the Garden. Through a metaleptic reading of both Gen 2:15 and Jer 2:7, we can see that the first Scriptural juxtaposition of Gen. Rab. 19:9 draws upon the unstated contexts of both Genesis and Jeremiah. Neither verse is taken out of context; the interplay between the cited verses only reaches its full potential if both are read firmly in their own contexts and then compared. In choosing to cite verses whose contexts contain multiple links, Gen. Rab. 19:9 presents Adam in such a way that the individual prefigures the collective and the collective recapitulates the individual. The rabbis highlight the fact that Jeremiah models the Land of Israel on the Garden of Eden to show that the Edenic progression from inhabitance to transgression is foundational to the story of biblical Israel. From an atomistic perspective, the only information the reader gleans from the cited verses is that God put Adam and Israel into their respective lands. Metalepsis allows the reader to see that Adam and Israel both ate of the good fruit within their lands, but transgression in those lands led to their respective exiles. The next citations of Scripture in Gen. Rab. 19:9 bring together Gen 2:16, Exod 27:20, and Lev. 24:2, which all deliver further metaleptic resonances between Adam and Israel. The midrash states, “I commanded [Adam], ‘And the Lord God commanded (‫ )ויצו‬the man’ (Gen 2:16)…. I commanded [Israel]: ‘You shall command the children of Israel (‫( ’)ואתה תצוה את בני ישראל‬Exod 27:20); also, son (‫ )אדם‬dwelt’ (Jer 2:6): i.e., Adam (‫ )אדם‬had not dwelt there” (Gen. Rab. 19:3; cf. b. Ber. 3a).

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“‘Command the children of Israel (‫( ”’)צו את בני ישראל‬Lev 24:2). Ostensibly, the rabbis connect these verses on the basis of the shared verb, “to command” (‫)צוה‬. Indeed, the rabbis themselves note that just as God “commanded” Adam, God also “commanded” Israel. However, metalepsis reveals more substantive similarities between the passages surrounding the single verses. First, the contexts of the verses from Exodus and Leviticus recount (nearly verbatim) the lighting of the lamp in the Tent of Meeting (the prototype for the Jerusalem Temple)—an event that the biblical writers describe in terms that are reminiscent of creation in Genesis 1. The version of the lamp lighting in Exodus reads, You shall command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light (‫)למאור‬, so that a lamp may continually be set up to burn. In the tent of meeting, outside of the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning (‫ )מערב עד בקר‬before the Lord. It shall be a statue forever to be observed throughout the generations by the people of Israel. (Exod 27:20–21‫ף‬ cf. Lev 24:2–3)

The reference to “light” (‫ )מאור‬for the lamp evokes the opening of Genesis insofar as the only place that ‫“( מאור‬light”) appears before the command in Exod 27:20 (and the anticipatory reference to it in Exod 25:6) is Gen 1:14–16, in which God appoints the sun and the moon to be “lights” (‫ )מאורות‬in the sky. 28 Second, the command 184F

Leviticus Rabbah associates God’s “lights” in Genesis with the light that God commands for Israel in Lev 24:2 (// Exod 27:20). Commenting on the “great things” that God has done according to Psalm 71:19, Lev. R. 31:1 states, “‘Great things’ applies to the two great lights, of which it says, ‘The two great lights’ (Gen 1:16)…. You [God] give light to all who come into the world, and yet your desire is for Israel’s light! Thus, it is written [in Lev 24:2), “Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light” (cf. Lev. R. 31:6–8; PRK 21:1). While Gen. Rab. 19:9 does not connect the lights of God and Israel explicitly, Leviticus Rabbah supports the possibility that our midrash alludes to this relationship through its choice of scriptural juxtaposition. 28

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that Aaron kindle the light “from evening to morning” ( ‫מערב עד‬ ‫ )בקר‬also supports the link to Genesis 1, as it recalls the phrase, “And there was evening, and there was morning” ( ‫ויהי ערב ויהי‬ ‫ )בקר‬during the days of creation (Gen 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31). Thus, the fact that Gen 2:16 and Exod 27:20/Lev 24:2 share the word “command” is only a surface connection; other word associations in the proximate biblical context reveal a relationship not only between Israel and Adam, but also between Israel’s cultic responsibilities and God’s creative activities in Genesis 1. Second, the phrase that Gen. Rab. 19:9 quotes from Lev 24:2—“Command the children of Israel (‫—”)צו את בני ישראל‬also appears verbatim in Num 5:2 (cf. Num 28:2; 34:2; 25:2), which introduces an episode that similarly resonates with the first humans’ experiences in Genesis 1-3: Gen 1:27; 2:7; 3:23–24 And God created the human (‫ )האדם‬in his own image; in the image of God he created him; male and female (‫ )זכר ונקבה‬he created them (‫…)אתם‬. The Lord God formed the human (‫ )האדם‬from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the human was a living person (‫…)לנפש חיה‬. Then God sent out (‫[ )וישלחהו‬Adam] from the garden of Eden… and the cherubim dwelt (‫ )וישכן‬at the east of the Garden.

Num 5:2–4a Command the children of Israel that they send out (‫ )וישלחו‬of the camp everyone who is leprous, and everyone who has an issue, and anyone who is unclean via a [dead] person (‫)לנפש‬. Both male and female (‫ )מזכר עד נקבה‬you shall send out (‫ …)תשלחו‬so that they may not defile their camp, in the midst of which I dwell (‫)שכן‬. And the children of Israel did so; they sent them out (‫ )וישלחו אותם‬from the camp.

In Genesis, God’s first living persons are sent out of the Garden where heavenly cherubim dwell; in Numbers, those within Israel who have become unclean through contact with a dead person are sent out of the camp in which God dwells. In other words, Num 5 recapitulates the pattern of Adam, who is cast out from God’s presence in the Garden just as the unclean Israelites are cast out from God’s presence in the camp. The preponderance of shared terminology in Gen 1–3 and Num 5:2–4 supports the notions that the writer of Numbers drew on the story of Adam in fashioning

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the passage on purity, and that the rabbis (aware of this terminological and thematic relationship) added the phrase “command the children of Israel” in order to highlight the Adam-Israel connection. Indeed, it is likely that Gen. Rab. 19:9 alludes to the contexts of both Lev 24:2 (lamp lighting) and Num 5:2 (camp purity) with its reference to ‫ואת בני ישראל‬. 29 The texts from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers show that the similarities between the stories of nascent creation and national Israel run much deeper than the fact that God “commanded” Adam and Israel. Gen. Rab. 19:9 then couples Gen 3:11 with Dan 9:11, and it notes that just as Adam “transgressed [God’s] commandment, ‘Have you eaten of the tree from which I commanded you not to eat?’” (Gen 3:11), Israel has also transgressed God’s commands: “Indeed, all Israel has transgressed your Torah” (Dan 9:11). 30 As 185F

Midrash halakhah from the Land of Israel that predates Genesis Rabbah similarly establishes a connection between the commands in Lev 24:2 and Num 5:2. According to Sifre Numbers 1:2, God’s commands apply immediately after they are given because Num 5:2–4 concludes with “the people of Israel did thusly” (‫)כן עשו בני ישראל‬. The midrash then notes that God’s commands are also eternal because Lev 24:3 specifies that the lamp is to be lit “throughout your generations” (‫)לדרתיכם‬. Based on its exegesis of Num 5:2 and Lev 24:2–3, Sifre concludes that all of the Torah’s commands are to be viewed as both immediate and lasting. Leviticus Rabbah also reads Num 5:2 as God commanding exile, saying of those who are expelled from the camp, “Just as [a king] of flesh and blood imposes exile, so does the Holy One, blessed be he, impose exile” (Lev. R. 18:5). 30 Leviticus Rabbah also cites Dan 9:11 as the reason for exile and the destruction of the Temple: “Abraham spoke before the Holy One, blessed be he, ‘Sovereign of the Universe, why have you exiled my children and handed them over to the gentile nations who have put them to all kinds of unnatural death and destroyed the Temple, the place where I offered my son Isaac as a burnt offering before you?’ The Holy One, blessed be he, replied to Abraham, ‘Your children sinned and transgressed the whole of the Torah and the twenty-two letters [of the alphabet] in which it is composed; and so it is said: ‘Indeed, all Israel has transgressed your Torah (Dan 9:11)’” (Lev. R. proem 24). 29

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with our initial Scriptural pair, these partial citations of Gen 3:11 and Dan 9:11 contain no shared language. However, the whole of Dan 9:11 reads, “Indeed, all Israel has transgressed your Torah and have turned aside, so as not to listen to your voice ( ‫לבלתי שמוע‬ ‫)בקלך‬.” A metaleptic reading of Dan 9:11 reveals another correlation to Eden: insofar as Adam and Eve chose to eat the forbidden fruit, they did not listen to God’s command. Indeed, the trope of hearing God’s voice but failing to listen pervades Genesis 3: And they heard the voice (‫ )וישמעו את קול‬of the Lord God walking in the garden…. And [Adam] said, “I heard your voice (‫ )קלך שמעתי‬in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself…. And [God] said to Adam, “Because you have listened to your wife’s voice (‫ )שמעת לקול אשתך‬and have eaten the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you.” (Gen 3:8, 10, 17)

The portions of Scripture that the rabbis cite merely show that both Adam and Israel “transgressed God’s commandment”; by reading metaleptically, the reader ascertains exactly what that transgression was—namely, failing to listen to God’s voice. The midrash then juxtaposes Gen 3:23a, “Therefore, the Lord God sent him [Adam] out (‫ )וישלחהו‬from the Garden of Eden,” with Jer 15:1b: “Send [them] out (‫ )שלח‬from before my face, and let them go.” While these verses share references to being “sent out” (xlv), further similarities exist between Genesis 1–2 and Jer 15:3: Genesis 1:26b; 2:20a And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky (‫ )עוף השמים‬and over the beasts (‫ )בהמה‬and over all the earth (‫…)הארץ‬. The human gave names to all the beasts (‫)בהמה‬ and to the birds of the sky ( ‫עוף‬ ‫)השמים‬.

Jeremiah 15:3 I will appoint over them four kinds of destroyers, declares the Lord: the sword to kill, the dogs to tear, and the birds of the sky (‫)עוף השמים‬ and the beasts of the earth ( ‫בהמת‬ ‫ )הארץ‬to devour (‫ )לאכל‬and destroy.

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Jeremiah reverses the Edenic picture—instead of describing human dominion over the animals and humanity’s permission to eat freely, Jeremiah gives the animals the power “to devour” (lit. “to eat” ‫ )לאכל‬human beings. 31 Thus, the situation is worse for Israel than for Adam: while the first man lost the tranquility of Eden when God “sent him out” (‫)וישלחהו‬, Israel must undergo an undoing of Eden in their own Land before they too are “sent out” (‫)שלח‬. Once again, knowledge of these verses’ original contexts is crucial for recognizing the depth of rabbinic exegesis. The information provided in the cited texts is secondary to the much richer relationship between Adam and Israel in the uncited biblical context. The final Scriptural pairing in Gen. Rab. 19:9 shows that both Adam and Israel were “driven out” (‫ )גרש‬via Gen 2:24 and Hos 9:15: And he drove out the human. (Gen 2:24a) From my house I will drive them out. (Hos 9:15a)

‫ויגרש‬ ‫מביתי אגרשם‬

As we have seen with every other verse in this midrash, the contexts of these pieces of Scripture contain further linguistic parallels that show the reversal of Eden in Israel’s pending exile: Genesis 3:3, 16–17, 19 But God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit (‫ …)פרי‬lest you die (‫…)תמתון‬. In pain you shall give birth (‫…)תלדי‬. And to the human (‫ )האדם‬he said, “Because you have listened (‫ )שמעת‬to the voice of your wife… you [will] return to the ground.”

Hosea 9:12, 16–17 There shall not be a human being (‫ )אדם‬left…. They shall bear no fruit (‫)פרי‬. Although they give birth (‫)ילדון‬, I will put their beloved [children] to death (‫)המתי‬. My God will reject them because they have not listened (‫ )שמעו‬to him.

On this reversal in Jeremiah, see Jack R. Lundbom, Jeremiah 1–20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary [ABC] (New York: Doubleday, 1999), 721. 31

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These texts echo each other in their references to childbirth, fruit, death, and refusal to listen to God: the punishments of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 resurface with reference to Israel as a whole in Hosea 9. According to the prophet, the death that foreigners will bring into the Land of Israel fulfills the curses in Eden, so that Adam becomes an individual symbol of Israel in exile. An atomistic reading of these verses only provides the parallel that Adam and Israel were both “driven out.” Yet this similarity seems almost incidental in light of the metaleptic realization that the people of Israel received the Edenic curses when they were driven from their Land. Indeed, every single biblical citation in Gen. Rab. 19:9 is dependent upon its original context, and metalepsis is required in order to appreciate the breadth of the midrash.

CONCLUSION

Throughout Genesis Rabbah 19:9, the Scriptural contexts of the cited verses highlight the parallels between Adam and Israel; according to the midrash, the first human experience is prototypical of Israel’s collective experience. The rabbis use Scripture in order to situate Adam so that he cannot be separated from the life of corporate Israel after encountering the midrash. While a cursory reading provides several singular points of contact between Adam and Israel, a contextual reading reveals the rabbis’ deeper literary and theological claims. Metalepsis expands the stories of Adam and Israel in a way that is not possible with an atomistic approach. Therefore, although atomism continues to be prevalent in rabbinic scholarship, closer attention to the midrashic use of biblical context is warranted. Reading Gen. Rab. 19:9 atomistically is the equivalent of viewing the interior of a mansion through the front door keyhole; metalepsis is the key to unlocking the door, which, once opened, discloses a much more comprehensive presentation of Scripture in midrash.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Philip S. “Rabbinic and Patristic Bible Exegesis as Intertexts: Towards a Theory of Comparative Midrash,” in R. Timothy McLay, ed. The Temple in Text and Tradition: A Festschrift in Honour of Robert Hayward. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015: 71–97.

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Anderson, Gary A. The Genesis of Perfection: Adam and Eve in Jewish and Christian Imagination. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001. Bakhos, Carol. The Family of Abraham: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Interpretations. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2014. Beale, G. K. The Temple and the Church’s Mission: A Biblical Theology of the Dwelling Place of God. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004. Beetham, Christopher A. Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians. Leiden: Brill, 2008. Berg, Nancy E. Exile from Exile: Israeli Writers from Iraq. New York: SUNY, 1996. Bloom, Harold. “Whitman’s Image of Voice: To the Tally of My Soul,” in Harold Bloom, ed. The American Renaissance. New York: Chelsea House, 2004: 127–46. Brown, Jeannine K. “Metalepsis,” in B. J. Oropeza and Steve Moyise, eds. Exploring Intertextuality: Diverse Strategies for New Testament Interpretation of Texts. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2016: 29–41. Crone, Patricia. Slaves on Horses: The Evolution of the Islamic Polity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980. Drazin, Israel. Targum Onkelos to Deuteronomy: An English Translation of the Text with Analysis and Commentary. New York: Ktav, 1982. Ellis, E. Earle. “Jesus, the Sadducees, and Qumran,” New Testament Studies 10 (1963/64): 274–79. Eisen, Arnold M. Galut: Modern Jewish Reflection on Homelessness and Homecoming. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1986. Fischlin, Daniel. In Small Proportions: A Poetics of the English Ayre 1596–1622. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998. Fisk, Bruce Norman. Do You Not Remember? Scripture, Story, and Exegesis in the Rewritten Bible of Pseudo-Philo. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001. Gafni, Isaiah M. Land, Center and Diaspora: Jewish Constructs in Late Antiquity. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.

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Gibson, Matthew. Yeats, Coleridge and the Romantic Sage. London: Macmillan, 2000. Goldberg, Arnold. “The Rabbinic View of Scripture,” in Philip R. Davies and Richard T. White, eds. A Tribute to Geza Vermes: Essays on Jewish and Christian Literature and History. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1990: 153–66. Halivni, David Weiss. Peshat and Derash: Plain and Applied Meaning in Rabbinic Exegesis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. Hays, Richard B. Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989. Hays, Richard B. “Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: Abstract,” in Craig A. Evans and James A. Sanders, eds. Paul and the Scriptures of Israel. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993: 42–46. Heinemann, Yitzhak. Methods of Aggadah [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Magnes, 1949. Hollander, John. The Figure of Echo: A Mode of Allusion in Milton and After. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981. Humbert, Paul. “Le Messie dans le Targum des prophètes,” Revue de Théologie et de Philosophie 44 (1911): 5–46. Instone Brewer, David. Techniques and Assumptions in Jewish Exegesis before 70 CE. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1992. Koller, Aaron. Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Kugel, James L. In Potiphar’s House: The Interpretive Life of Biblical Texts. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1990. Kugel, James L. “Two Introductions to Midrash,” Prooftexts 3 (1983): 131–55. Litwak, Kenneth Duncan. Echoes of Scripture in Luke-Acts: Telling the History of God’s People Intertextually. London: T&T Clark, 2005. Lundbom, Jack R. Jeremiah 1-20: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Anchor Bible Commentary. New York: Doubleday, 1999. Maass, Fritz. “Von den Ursprügen der rabbinischen Schriftauslegung,” Zeitschrift für Theologie und Kirche 52 (1955): 129–61.

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Menon, Madhavi. Wanton Words: Rhetoric and Sexuality in English Renaissance Drama. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2004. Moore, George Foot. Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era: The Age of the Tannaim. 3 Volumes. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1927–30. Mowinckel, Sigmund. He That Cometh: The Messiah Concept in the Old Testament and Later Judaism. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005 [1956]. Neusner, Jacob. A Theological Commentary to the Midrash: Lamentations Rabbati. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2001. Neusner, Jacob. Confronting Creation: How Judaism Reads Genesis: An Anthology of Genesis Rabbah. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1991. Neusner, Jacob. Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Exile and Return in the History of Judaism. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1987. Oberhänsil-Widmer, Gabrielle. Biblische Figuren in der rabbinischen Literatur: Gleichnisse und Bilder zu Adam, Noah und Abraham im Midrasch Bereschit Rabba. Bern: Peter Lang, 1998. Parry, Robin. “Prolegomena to Christian Theological Interpretations of Lamentations,” in Craig G. Bartholomew, Scott Hahn, Robin Parry, Christopher Seitz, and Al Wolters, eds. Canon and Biblical Interpretation, Volume 7. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006. Patte, Daniel. Early Jewish Hermeneutic in Palestine. Missoula, MT: Scholars, 1975. Postell, Seth D. Adam as Israel: Genesis 1-3 as the Introduction to the Torah and Tanakh. Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2011. Reuling, Hanneke. After Eden: Church Fathers and Rabbis on Genesis 3:16–21. Leiden: Brill, 2006. Russell, D. S. The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic, 200 BC – AD 100. Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 1964. Samely, Alexander. Rabbinic Interpretation of Scripture in the Mishnah. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Scott, James M. On Earth as it is in Heaven: The Restoration of Sacred Time and Space in the Book of Jubilees. Leiden: Brill, 2005.

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Scott, Matthew. The Hermeneutics of Christological Psalmody in Paul: An Intertextual Inquiry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Shanks Alexander, Elizabeth. Transmitting Mishnah: The Shaping Influence of Oral Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Sheridan, Ruth. “The Testimony of Two Witnesses: John 8:17,” in Alicia D. Myers and Bruce G. Schuchard, eds. Abiding Words: The Use of Scripture in the Gospel of John. Atlanta: SBL Press, 2015: 161–86. Silberman, Lou H. “Unriddling the Riddle: Structure and Language of 1QP Hab.” Revue de Qumran 11 (1961): 323–64. Sommer, Benjamin D. “Concepts of Scriptural Language in Midrash,” in Benjamin D. Sommer, ed. Jewish Concepts of Scripture: A Comparative Introduction. New York: New York University Press, 2012: 64–79. Stern, David. Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991. Visotzky, Burton L. Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006. Wright, Addison. The Literary Genre: Midrash. Staten Island: Alba House, 1967. Yadin, Azzan. Scripture as Logos: Rabbi Ishmael and the Origins of Midrash. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004.

LEAH: THE “LOST MATRIARCH” IN GENESIS RABBAH KATIE J. WOOLSTENHULME PHD SHEFFIELD UNIVERSITY INTRODUCTION

Leah, the first wife of Jacob and sister to Rachel, is one of the most neglected figures in the book of Genesis. The biblical text provides only limited information about this woman and, as a result, subsequent interpreters have often sidelined Leah in favor of the other matriarchs: Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Jerry Rabow’s monograph, The Lost Matriarch: Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash, seeks to address this issue. 1 Rabow considers classical midrashic treatments of Leah’s character alongside modern commentary, in order to uncover “the full, dramatic story of Leah’s life and the lessons it can teach us.” 2 For Rabow, this “Lost Matriarch” must be rediscovered. 3 This chapter will combine Rabow’s interest in the “Lost Matriarch” with the portrayal of Leah in a particular rabbinic midrash: Genesis Rabbah. 4 This fifth century CE exegetical midrash on GeneJerry Rabow, The Lost Matriarch: Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2014). 2 Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 11. 3 Cf. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, ix–iv, 1–11. 4 This article has grown out of my doctoral research on the role of the biblical matriarchs in Genesis Rabbah. 1

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sis interprets each biblical verse in turn, omitting only a few. 5 It often provides multiple interpretations of biblical verses, some of which may contradict others. The purpose of midrashic commentary is to explore the richness and interpretative possibilities of biblical material. In this way, the rabbis take the little detail provided about Leah in the biblical text, using it to develop her character and her role as a matriarch. For the rabbis, Leah was a foundational mother of Israel and her portrayal in the midrash reflects this. The Lost Matriarch is a noble attempt to provide Leah with the attention that she deserves. However, Rabow’s work falls short in many ways. By narrowing the focus of Rabow’s endeavor to the portrayal of Leah in one midrash, it will be possible to gain a clearer idea of how Leah was understood by a group of Jews in the early centuries of the Common Era. For the rabbis, Leah’s role as a mother represents the most significant aspect of her character. As Bronner explains: “a woman’s primary (if not entire) significance lies in her role as wife, mother, and homemaker.” 6 Leah bore several tribal ancestors of Israel, including Levi and Judah, who founded Israel’s priesthood and royalty. The Jewish people descend from this woman, and she is therefore central to Jewish identity.

JERRY RABOW’S T H E L OST M ATRIARCH : F INDING L EAH IN TH E B IBLE AND M IDRASH (JPS: 2014)

Jerry Rabow’s recent monograph: The Lost Matriarch: Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2014) is a long overdue piece on the portrayal of Leah in the Bible and by its subsequent interpreters, considering sources as early as The Book of Jubilees (second century BCE) through to modern commenta-

Perhaps most notably, Abraham’s servant’s report of his meeting Rebekah by the well in Genesis 24 is omitted. The rabbis may simply have wished to avoid unnecessary repetition of narrative material. A more likely explanation for the omission of Gen 24:34–49 in Gen. Rab. relates to the servant’s alteration of details in his own account of the meeting, which are intended to improve the impression that he gives of his own character. 6 Leila Leah Bronner, From Eve to Esther: Rabbinic Reconstructions of Biblical Women (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), 33. See also Bronner, From Eve to Esther, 2–5, 80. 5

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tors. 7 Rabow aims to give his readers an insight into the development of Leah's character throughout the ages. Leah is often overlooked by biblical interpreters and religious believers, who focus instead on the more dynamic matriarchal figures of Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Nevertheless, Leah is as important for Israel as these other women. In Rabow’s own words: “The Lost Matriarch is the story I found deep within the midrashic commentaries that have interpreted, expanded, and, to put it bluntly, created a fuller story of the biblical Leah.” 8 Rabow works methodically through the biblical text of Genesis, noting occasions when Leah is mentioned and those where she is not. As well as offering his own analysis of these biblical passages, Rabow explains how the ancient rabbis and modern commentators have dealt with the texts, the details they offer, and the gaps that they leave. As he draws not only upon the biblical base text but upon centuries of interpretation, Rabow is able to build up a much clearer and more developed picture of Leah’s character than his readers may be used to. He “uncovers” a woman who, among other things, stands up to her husband when he accuses her of wrong; 9 demonstrates a desire to contribute to Israel’s national history as she bears sons for her husband; 10 and perhaps most importantly, continually displays “moral heroism in the face of adversity,” refusing to compromise her values. 11 Key to Rabow’s investiOn Jub., see e.g. James C. VanderKam, The Book of Jubilees (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001); James C. VanderKam, The Book of Jubilees (Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalum 510–11; Scriptores Aethiopici 87–88, 2 vols.; Leuven: Peeters, 1989); O.S. Wintermute, “Jubilees (Second Century B.C.),” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., Volume 2: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1985), 35–142. 8 Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 5. 9 Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 60–62, 65. 10 Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 108–11, 167. 11 e.g. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 35–36, 43, 98–99, 117–18, 135, 162, 188–89. 7

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gations is his understanding that: “Leah has a rich story; it is only that she has not been permitted to tell it in the Bible.” 12 Through its “Leah-centric” approach to Genesis, The Lost Matriarch is able to refocus attention on Leah, a matriarch who bears covenant sons for Jacob and therefore becomes an ancestress of Israel. 13 Given Leah’s “marginal” status in the Bible and the history of interpretation, this study offers a much-needed re-evaluation of Leah’s significance as it draws attention to diverse traditions concerning this matriarch. Rabow offers good analysis of biblical material and a good general overview of postbiblical developments of Leah’s character. In so doing, he shows that Leah should be recognized as an important ancestress of Israel together with Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Rabow’s work takes a form similar to classical midrash, combining quotations and information from the biblical text with analysis, additional material, and multivocal interpretations by numerous scholars and interpreters. The material is presented without judgment of its quality and without asserting that certain traditions are “correct,” whilst others are not. Rabow perfectly fulfils the mission of the Jewish Publication Society, the publisher of this work, by presenting “accessible scholarship,” namely, “the highest levels of scholarship, written in a popular manner.” 14 In The Lost Matriarch, Rabow succeeds in opening up whole new worlds of interpretation for his readers by consulting a wide range of sources. However, Rabow is too ambitious in his endeavour and is unable to consider how Leah’s character has developed over the course of time, and how Leah is portrayed within the boundaries of particular texts or by particular interpreters. Ancient and modern commentators appear side by side in his work, sometimes with no explanation or recognition of the very different circumstances within which they wrote. Endnotes provide the names of sources and traditions cited. Whilst they are clearly provided at the end of the book to prevent continuous references interrupting the main body of the text, these endnotes make it Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 2. See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 162. 14 “Mission and Vision,” The Jewish Publication Society. https://jps.org/ about/mission-and-vision/. 12 13

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more difficult to identify which sources are being referred to at any given point in Rabow’s extended narrative of Leah's life. Thus, whilst I commend Rabow’s aim of finally affording Leah the attention she deserves and recognizing her significant role as an ancestress of Israel, I believe that more focused studies must now follow his commendable overview of traditions concerning Leah. This article will focus on a particular rabbinic text, Genesis Rabbah, and will look in greater detail at its portrayal of Leah. Genesis Rabbah dates to the fifth century CE and as such, is an early rabbinic exegetical midrash. 15 It therefore provides important insights into the ways in which the classical rabbis understood Leah’s role. By the end of this article, I hope to show that Leah was highly respected by the ancient rabbis as a matriarch of Israel. Like Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, Leah is a barren woman who finally becomes the mother of Israel’s covenant sons. Compared with Genesis, Leah becomes a more developed character in Genesis Rabbah. This article will therefore further Rabow’s aim of uncovering the “Lost Matriarch.”

THE BIBLICAL LEAH

Before turning to Leah in the midrash, it is important to consider briefly her biblical characterization. Leah is introduced into the biblical narrative in Gen 29:16–17 as the elder daughter of Laban and sister to Rachel: “Now Laban had two daughters; the name of the elder was Leah, and the name of the younger was Rachel. Leah’s eyes were lovely, and Rachel was graceful and beautiful.” 16 As this verse indicates, Leah and Rachel are destined to be compared to On Gen. Rab., see Alexander Samely, in collaboration with Philip Alexander, Rocco Bernasconi, Robert Hayward, Profiling Jewish Literature in Antiquity: An Inventory From Second Temple Texts to the Talmuds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 409–25; Eyal Ben-Eliyahu, Yehudah Cohn, and Fergus Millar, Handbook of Jewish Literature from Late Antiquity, 135–700 CE (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 81–83; H.L. Strack and Günter Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, trans. Markus Bockmuehl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 276–83. 16 Biblical quotations are from the NRSV. 15

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one another throughout their lives. 17 The two sisters both marry the same man, the patriarch Jacob. For the first time in Israel’s patriarchal period, two matriarchal wives co-exist. Leah and Rachel become rivals, each seeking to bear the greater number of sons for Jacob. As the generation that provides Israel with its twelve tribal ancestors, this is a particularly important issue for Leah and Rachel. Yet, whilst motherhood is central to Leah’s characterization in Genesis, this quality is often overshadowed by her rivalry with Rachel and by Jacob’s preference for Rachel over her sister. The themes of this narrative are perhaps most clearly shown by Gen 29:30–31, where: Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah. He served Laban for another seven years. When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb; but Rachel was barren.

Here, Jacob marries Rachel after having been tricked by Laban into first marrying Leah. Jacob’s affection for Rachel is directly contrasted with his feelings about Leah. These verses have set the tone for subsequent interpretations of Leah by interpreters of the Bible throughout the centuries. Yet, this must not dictate our understanding of Leah, who is in fact a central matriarchal figure.

THE MIDRASHIC LEAH

A rather different picture of Leah emerges in rabbinic midrash. She is regarded by the rabbis as one of the matriarchs of Israel. Leah was one of the foundational mothers of Israel, living in the earliest generations of the covenant. In Genesis Rabbah, Leah shares with the other matriarchs in Genesis a transition from barren woman to mother. The rabbinic development of Leah’s maternal role highlights her significance as a matriarch of Israel.

Tammi J. Schneider, Mothers of Promise: Women in the Book of Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008), 63; Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 10–11. 17

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Barrenness Betsy Halpern-Amaru remarks that: “the connection between infertility and birthing the distinguished heir is strongly implied in the Genesis narratives of the matriarchs.” 18 Indeed, three of the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel are described as “barren” (‫)עקרה‬ in the biblical text before they bear children (Gen 11:30; 25:21; 29:31). Leah is the notable exception, but in Genesis Rabbah, the rabbis also described her as barren. In Genesis Rabbah 72:1, Hannah’s prayer from 1 Sam 2:5–6 is applied line by line to Leah and Rachel: They that were full hired themselves for bread, etc. (I Sam. II, 5). “They that were full hired themselves for bread” applies to Leah, who was full with children, yet hired herself; And they that were hungry have ceased (ib.) applies to Rachel, who though hungry for children yet ceased. While the ʾaḳarah (barren) hath borne seven (ib.)—Leah, who was barren … bore seven; She that had many children hath languished (ib.)—Rachel, from whom it was natural [Hebrew ‫ראויה‬: “fit,” “destined,” “worthy,” “chosen”] that most of the children should be born, yet languished. And who caused this? The Lord, [who] killeth, and maketh alive, He bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up (ib. 6). 19

Significantly, the “barren woman (‫[ )עקרה‬who] bore seven” (1 Sam 2:5) is identified with Leah. Although Leah does bear seven children in the narrative—six sons and Dinah—she is never called barren. Yet for the rabbis, Leah was an Israelite matriarch and could be expected to share this characteristic with the other wives of the patriarchs. Tammi Schneider suggests a possible biblical basis for this association, noting that when Leah conceives for the first time in Gen 29:31, God is said to have “opened her womb” (‫ויפתח את־‬ ‫)רחמה‬. This phrase appears again in Gen 30:22 when Rachel’s barrenness is finally reversed, and may therefore indicate that Leah too 206F

Betsy Halpern-Amaru, The Empowerment of Women in the Book of Jubilees: Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 60 (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 100. 19 All translations of Genesis Rabbah are taken from H. Freedman, trans., Midrash Rabbah Genesis (London: Soncino Press, 1951). 18

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was initially barren. 20 By declaring Leah to be barren, the rabbis acknowledged that she, like Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel, is a matriarch. Having established Leah’s barrenness, the rabbis could then explore its meaning for Leah’s role as a matriarch. Genesis Rabbah 71:1 comments on Gen 29:31, where: “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved (or: “hated,” ‫)שנואה‬, he opened her womb.” 21 This midrash uses the form of a proem, where, as Mary Callaway explains: “A verse from the prophets or the writings usually provided a general statement by which the story from the Torah was interpreted.” 22 In this case, Ps 69:34—“For the Lord hears the needy, and does not despise his own that are in bonds”—is used to elucidate Gen 29:31: 208F

209F

“For the Lord hearkeneth unto the needy” [Ps. LXIX, 34] refers to Israel, for R. Joḥanan said: Wherever “poor,” “afflicted,” or “needy” occurs, Scripture refers to Israel. “And despiseth not His prisoners” [Ps. LXIX, 34] alludes to childless women who are as prisoners in their houses, but as soon as the Holy One, blessed be He, visits [i.e. blesses] them with children, they become erect [with pride]. The proof is that Leah was hated in her house, yet when God visited her she became erect; hence it is written, AND THE LORD SAW THAT LEAH WAS HATED, AND HE OPENED HER WOMB [Gen. XXIX, 31].

That “the Lord does not despise his own that are in bonds” is said to refer to barren women, whose household position improves when they become mothers. Cheryl Exum notes that: “it was through bearing children that women achieved status and gained some security for themselves in the patriarchal society of ancient 75.

20

Schneider, Mothers of Promise, 72–73. Cf. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 73–

Schneider notes that Genesis does not explain exactly who “hated” Leah. She suggests that Jacob simply loved Rachel more than Leah, and that it was, in fact, Rachel who “hated” Leah. See Schneider, Mothers of Promise, 66, 72, 77. 22 Mary Callaway, Sing, O Barren One: A Study in Comparative Midrash, SBL Dissertation Series 91 (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1986), 130. 21

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Israel.” 23 In Genesis Rabbah 71:1, Leah becomes a biblical representative of all barren women, providing hope to those with similar problems. In this way, as Judith Baskin argues: “biblical models could become paradigms and symbols of empowerment in women’s lives.” 24 As a matriarch, Leah’s experiences have wider relevance. The representative role of the matriarchs is found elsewhere in Genesis Rabbah. For example, in Genesis Rabbah 53:8, the reversal of Sarah’s barrenness causes the reversal of other people’s misfortunes, including barren women. Similarly, in Genesis Rabbah 71:6, Rachel becomes a representative of the childless and also of the disadvantaged. Her statement from Gen 30:1, “Give me children, or I shall die!” is used by Rabbi Samuel as part of his argument that: “Four [groups of disadvantaged people] are regarded as dead (‫ ”)מת‬because of the anguish they face. 25 Thus, the rabbinic interpreters highlighted the wider implications of the matriarchs’ lives, and Leah was no exception to this. There is however a further dimension to Leah’s barrenness in Genesis Rabbah 71:1. The other half of Ps 69:34, “For the Lord hears the needy (‫ ”)אביונים‬is said to concern Israel because: “R. Joḥanan said: Wherever ‘poor’ (‫)דל‬, ‘afflicted’ (‫)עני‬, or ‘needy’ (‫ )אביון‬occurs, Scripture refers to Israel.” In the midrash, this statement is juxtaposed with the claim that Leah represents the barren and offers them hope for an improvement in their situations. 26 As a matriarch, Leah now also provides hope for Israel that God will intervene when they are in anguish. Callaway therefore explains that: “if God did not despise Leah, the hated wife, all the more will he not despise Israel, his beloved.” 27 Leah’s barrenness is 21F

213F

214F

J. Cheryl Exum, Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 163 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993), 104. 24 Judith R. Baskin, Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature (Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 2002), 119. 25 See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 71–87. 26 See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 188. 27 Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, 131. Cf. Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, 130–32, 137–38. 23

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multifaceted, allowing her to take on a representative role. The rabbis believed that Leah was a true mother of Israel. Her experiences resonate throughout the centuries, shaping the selfunderstanding of the Israelite nation and the Jewish people who descend from her. Barrenness and motherhood also allow the other Genesis matriarchs to act as representatives of the nation. Most obviously, several midrashim in Genesis Rabbah are devoted to exploring Rachel’s depiction as the archetypal mother of Israel in Jer 31:15–17: Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more. Thus says the Lord: Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country. 28

In Gen. Rab. 71:2, the interpretation of these verses is preceded by a discussion of the term “barren” (‫ )עקר‬in relation to Rachel. The rabbis reinterpret “barren” (‫ )עקר‬as “chief” (‫)עיקר‬, thus arguing that barrenness was an indicator of Rachel’s authority and of her significance within Israel’s history: R. Isaac said: Rachel was the chief of the house, as it says, BUT RACHEL WAS ʾAḲARAH, which means, she was the chief (ʾiḳar) of the house. R. Abba b. Kahana said: The majority of those who dined [at Jacob’s table] were Leah’s children, therefore Rachel was declared the principal, BUT RACHEL WAS ʾAḲARAH, meaning that Rachel was the chief of the house.

By making Leah explicitly barren, the rabbis confirmed her status as a matriarch and allowed her to share a greater part of her story with Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. As a group, the matriarchs act as These verses are extremely important in Jewish tradition. For more information, see e.g. Barnabas Lindars, “‘Rachel Weeping for Her Children’—Jeremiah 31:15–22,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 12 (1979), 47–62. 28

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representatives of the disadvantaged and of Israel. This ultimately highlights their continued relevance for Israel and the Jewish people. Motherhood The Genesis matriarchs stand at the very foundations of the nation Israel. Sarah and Rebekah bear sons who continue the covenant into the next generation and by the third generation, Rachel, Leah, and their handmaidens, Bilhah and Zilpah, are bearing the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel. As the ancestress of Israel’s two great institutions, the priesthood (through Levi) and royalty (through Judah), Leah plays a fundamental role in shaping Israel’s national identity. Schneider argues that: “The role of Leah’s children is a recurring beat indicating that Leah is at least as important as Rachel.” 29 This can at times be forgotten in the biblical text, where, as Callaway notes: “the struggle between the two women pervades the entire narrative, even to the extent of influencing the etymologies of the names of the sons.” 30 Genesis Rabbah 70:15 expounds Gen 29:16, where Laban’s two daughters are officially introduced into the narrative. The biblical verse begins by claiming that: “Laban had two daughters,” before specifying: “the name of the elder (‫ )הגדלה‬was Leah, and the name of the younger (‫ )הקטנה‬was Rachel.” The midrash begins by discussing the two daughters as equals, noting comparable achievements by their descendants. Thus, for example: “Each produced captains, each produced kings, from each arose slayers of lions, from each arose conquerors of countries, from each arose dividers of countries.” However, just like in the biblical text, the rabbis then distinguish between the two daughters: 31 THE NAME OF THE GREAT ONE [E.V. “ELDER”] WAS LEAH (XXIX, 16). She was great (‫ )גדולה‬in her gifts, receiving the priesthood for all time and royalty for all time. AND THE NAME OF THE SMALL ONE [E.V. “YOUNGER”] WAS 218F

Schneider, Mothers of Promise, 66. Cf. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 31. See e.g. Gen 29:32; 30:8. Callaway, Sing, O Barren One, 26. 31 Cf. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 30–31. 29 30

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KATIE J. WOOLSTENHULME RACHEL (ib.): small (‫ )קטנה‬in her gifts, Joseph [bearing sway] for but a time, and Saul for but a time.”

Although both women are equally worthy of the title “matriarch,” Leah’s descendants will have continued power in Israel through the priestly and royal tribes; but Rachel’s descendants only rule for a short time. 32 In this midrash, Leah’s full significance is recognized. A major development in postbiblical treatments of the matriarchs is the women’s recognition of their own significance. Genesis Rabbah 72:5 justifies Leah’s rather inappropriate demand to Jacob: “You must come into me (‫( ”)אלי תבוא‬Gen 30:16), on the grounds that she was keen to produce more tribes of Israel with the patriarch. As Rabow notes, this explains why God intervenes following the mandrake incident and immediately causes Leah to conceive. It also provides Leah with a worthy excuse for her forceful demand, linking it with her desire to enable Israel to emerge and her eagerness to mother more tribes. 33 Elsewhere in Genesis Rabbah, matriarchs show an awareness of the national dimensions of their actions. For example, in Genesis Rabbah 65:14, Rebekah notes that goats, like those that Jacob takes to Isaac in order to receive the blessing in Gen 27, will later be used by Israel as sin-offerings on the Day of Atonement. Although the matriarchs stand at the very origins of the nation, they are shown to recognize that their actions have national implications. As Rabow notes, in Genesis, Leah’s “life story receives only skimpy treatment, while if we consider Leah’s role in the Bible’s grand story of the Jewish people, she surely qualifies as one of its major figures.” 34 This discrepancy was felt acutely by the rabbis, for whom Leah was a revered matriarch and central to their identity as Jews. Genesis Rabbah 71:2 is a particularly interesting pericope, dealing with Gen 29:31: “When the Lord saw that Leah was unloved, he opened her womb.” Halfway through the midrash, two rabbis explain that until Leah had children, Jacob: 20F

See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 31. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 108–09, 105–06. 34 Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 1. 32 33

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determined to divorce her. But as soon as the Holy One, blessed be He, visited her with children, he exclaimed, “Shall I divorce the mother of these children!” Eventually he gave thanks for her, as it says, And Israel bowed down [in thanksgiving] for the bed’s head (Gen. XLVII, 31): who was the head of our father Jacob’s bed? surely Leah.

The rabbis here reinterpret Gen 47:31 as an expression of Jacob’s altered relationship with his first wife. According to Jastrow, the term ‫מטה‬, “bed,” has an extended meaning of “family, offspring.” 35 Thus, Gen 47:31 is said to show Jacob’s recognition of Leah, his most fertile wife, as the “head of his family.” The rabbis were uncomfortable with Jacob’s treatment of his first wife in the biblical text. This midrash suggests that over time, Jacob’s initial hatred of Leah turns to respect and admiration. Motherhood is Leah’s defining quality, revealing her true significance. 36 By reexamining Jacob’s relationship with Leah, these interpreters emphasize Leah’s worthiness as a matriarch and her patriarchal husband’s acknowledgement of this. Rabow suggests that: “we might find such a resolution to be a too-convenient invention that seems wholly unsubstantiated in the text.” 37 However, this pericope offers us important insights into rabbinic views on this “Lost Matriarch.” Leah has finally achieved the respect she deserves as a matriarch in Israel and she can now rightfully resume her place alongside Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. The overall portrayal of Leah as a mother in Genesis Rabbah is extremely positive; yet one midrashic pericope presents a more negative view of her maternal role. Genesis Rabbah 80:1 comments on Gen 34:1, where: “Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out (‫ ”)תצא‬and was subsequently raped by 2F

23F

24F

Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature, 2nd Edition (1903; repr. New York, 2004), 765. 36 Cf. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 73–74; Baskin, Midrashic Women, 147. 37 Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 190. Cf. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 171. 35

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Shechem. This verse is linked with Gen 30:16, where Leah also “went out (‫ ”)תצא‬following the mandrake incident: 38 So he went up to him, and he asked him: "What is meant by the verse, ‘Behold, every one that useth proverbs shall use this proverb against thee, saying: As the mother, so the daughter’?” [Ezek. XVI, 44] … “A cow does not gore unless her calf kicks; a woman is not immoral until her daughter is immoral,” he replied. “If so,” said he, “then our mother Leah was a harlot!” “Even so,” he replied; “because it says, And Leah went out to meet him (Gen. XXX, 16), which means that she went out to meet him adorned like a harlot”; therefore AND DINAH THE DAUGHTER OF LEAH WENT OUT [Gen. XXXIV, 1]. 25F

On the basis of the verb ‫יצא‬, “to go out,” common to both verses, the midrash claims that Leah and Dinah are both harlots because their actions resulted in sexual intercourse. 39 Furthermore, this is connected to Ezek 16:44 containing the proverb: “Like mother, like daughter,” which suggests that there is a correlation between the behavior of mothers and their daughters. 40 In this case, that correspondence is interpreted negatively as a sign of shared immorality. 41 26F

27F

28F

Bronner and Fuchs note that whilst biblical mothers often play a role in their sons’ lives, they do not act on their daughters’ behalves. Bronner, From Eve to Esther, 113–24; Esther Fuchs, “The Literary Characterisation of Mothers and Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible,” in Alice Bach, ed., Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader (New York and London: Routledge, 1999), 137. 39 On ‫יצא‬, see Jastrow, 587–88; F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, (Peabody, Massachusetts, 2008, repr. from 1906 ed.), 422–25. 40 See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 105–07, 147–49. Midrash also offers positive explanations of Leah’s demand in Gen 30:16, suggesting that she was merely keen to produce more tribes of Israel. See Genesis Rabbah 72:5; Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 108–09. 41 Cf. Baskin, Midrashic Women, 160. Cf. Bronner, From Eve to Esther, 142. For interpretations of Dinah’s story in Gen 34 and Leah’s connection to it, see Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 146–61. 38

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This pericope should not undermine the positive portrayal of Leah elsewhere in the midrash, but neither should it be ignored. Midrash is known to offer differing, sometimes even contradictory, interpretations of the biblical text. Moreover, the rabbis recognized that the matriarchs and patriarchs were human beings, prone to make mistakes, and they did not whitewash all of their actions. 42 However, this midrash unfairly criticizes these women for licentiousness. 43 It seemingly blames Dinah for her rape and her mother for encouraging such behavior through her own actions. This passage is shocking but it should not be used alone to judge Genesis Rabbah’s portrayal of either Leah or the matriarchs more generally.

LEAH: FROM PASSIVE WIFE TO ACTIVE MATRIARCH

In the midrash, Leah’s movement from barren woman to mother is emphasized and developed. Genesis describes a woman who is passive throughout her lifetime. Nothing demonstrates Leah’s passivity with greater clarity than the episode in which Jacob is tricked by Laban into marrying Leah, his elder daughter, instead of Rachel, the younger daughter whom Jacob loves and for whom he has worked seven years to earn her hand in marriage: But in the evening he [Laban] took his daughter Leah and brought her to Jacob; and he went in to her. … When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?” Laban said, “This is not done in our country—giving the younger before the firstborn” (Gen 29:23, 25–26).

These events set the tone for Jacob and Leah’s marriage. Jacob resents Leah, and Leah spends the rest of her life trying to gain Jacob’s love. 44 See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 65. Cf. e.g. Baskin, Midrashic Women, 109, 149; Bronner, From Eve to Esther, 119–20. 44 See e.g. Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 10, 45, 65, 79, 185. 42 43

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Midrash offers embellishments of the story of Jacob and Leah’s wedding night. 45 In line with the rabbis’ understanding of the matriarchs as influential mothers of Israel, both Leah and Rachel take on a more active role in the events. For example, in Lamentations Rabbah Proem 24, Rachel informs Jacob of her father’s intended deception and agrees upon signs with Jacob so that he will know that he is with Rachel. However, she then takes pity on Leah and hides under the marriage bed so that she may answer Jacob throughout his first night with Leah. She will thus trick her husband into believing that he is marrying Rachel, when in fact, he is lying with Leah. 46 In Genesis Rabbah 70:19, a different explanation is offered: 47 The whole of that night he called her “Rachel,” and she answered him. In the morning, however, BEHOLD, IT WAS LEAH (ib. 25). Said he to her: “What, you are a deceiver and the daughter of a deceiver!” “Is there a teacher without pupils,” she retorted; “did not your father call you ‘Esau,’ and you answered him! So did you too call me and I answered you!”

In this version, Leah deceives Jacob by answering to her sister’s name throughout their first night together. As the room in which they lie is darkened, Jacob cannot see that it is Leah, and not Rachel, who answers him. The following morning, upon realizing his bride’s true identity, Jacob defames Leah, calling both her and her father “deceivers.” Leah defends herself and compares her deception of Jacob to Jacob’s deception of his ageing father. 48 In Gen 27, Rebekah overhears Isaac telling Esau to prepare his favorite meal, after which he will bless his eldest son. Rebekah convinces Jacob to disguise himself as Esau and go to his father. The deception is successful and the blind Isaac bestows his blessing on Jacob, before For Leah’s wedding night, see e.g. Rabow, Lost Matriarch 45–65; b. Meg. 13b. 46 This midrash is one of several variations of the wedding night story, with Rachel’s signs being used by, or for, Leah. See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 52–57. 47 On this pericope, see Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 60–62, 65. 48 See Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 49, 57–59. 45

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realizing that he has got the wrong son. In drawing a comparison between these two episodes, Leah becomes an active character. This contrasts with the biblical text, in which Leah is not even addressed: Jacob goes straight to Laban after realizing which woman he has married. In Genesis Rabbah 70:19, Leah is not afraid to challenge Jacob, and she suggests that the pair are more similar than Jacob would care to admit—it would in fact seem that Leah and Jacob are the perfect match! Rabow suggests that: Perhaps the Rabbis invent such sharp words for Leah to justify Jacob’s indifference to her … the Rabbis appear to be assigning to Leah some personal measure of responsibility for Jacob’s lifelong coolness toward her, on the grounds of her sharp retorts in this imagined conversation—a conversation that the Rabbis themselves create. 49

Whilst the rabbis may be using this midrash partly to suggest that Leah’s own words and actions had a role in her being “hated” by Jacob, this does not seem to be the primary purpose of the tradition. Rather, as discussed above, the rabbis wish to demonstrate that Jacob and Leah are supposed to marry one another; their comparable actions are used to prove this. This in turn legitimizes Leah as a matriarch, and it legitimizes the Israelite tribes that emerge from her union with Jacob. This legitimization is at the forefront of the rabbis’ minds throughout their midrashic portrayal of Leah. Overall: “Leah, and possibly Laban, do nothing wrong in the eyes of their culture, the context of the Hebrew Bible, or the eyes of the Israelite Deity. Without Leah’s marriage to Jacob, key tribes, Levi and Judah, would not exist, nor would Moses and David.” 50

Genesis Rabbah 70:19 highlights the development of Leah’s character in midrash, showing that the rabbis were prepared to give Leah a Rabow, Lost Matriarch, 61–62. Baskin argues similarly in Baskin, Midrashic Women, 149. 50 Schneider, Mothers of Promise, 66. 49

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voice that she does not have in the biblical text. This matriarch is so much more than the timid, unattractive maiden that Genesis suggests her to be, and she deserves to stand proud as a matriarch of Israel.

CONCLUSIONS

Leah is a fascinating woman, whose development from a neglected, and even hated, wife in Genesis to a revered matriarch in Genesis Rabbah highlights the rabbis’ respect for her. Leah is as much a matriarch as Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. She becomes a mother of Israelite tribes following a period of barrenness; she recognizes her own significance in the history of Israel; and she even comes to represent the nation itself. I have applied Jerry Rabow’s principle of rediscovering “the Lost Matriarch” to the text of Genesis Rabbah, narrowing his rather ambitious endeavor to focus on the portrayal of Leah in a specific rabbinic text. 51 The conclusions reveal that the matriarchs were regarded as central to the life and history of Israel, even up to the rabbis’ own day. In Genesis Rabbah, Leah is by no means “the Lost Matriarch.”

BIBLIOGRAPHY Primary Literature Elliger, K., and W. Rudolph, eds., Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, 5th rev. ed. (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1997). Epstein, Isidore, ed., The Babylonian Talmud, 18 vols. (London, 1936–52). Freedman, H., trans., Midrash Rabbah Genesis, 2 vols., vols. 1–2 of Midrash Rabbah translated into English with Notes, Glossary and Indices under the editorship of H. Freedman and Maurice Simon (London: Soncino Press, 1951). I have only been able to touch upon issues such as Leah’s relationships with Jacob and Rachel, and her naming of children, although the midrash has so much more to say about these. 51

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Theodor, J., and Chaim Albeck, eds., Bereschit Rabba mit kritischem Apparat und Commentar, 2 vols., Veröffentlichungen der Akademie für die Wissenschaft des Judentums (Berlin: Z. Hirsch Itzkowski, 1912–29; repr. in 3 vols., Jerusalem: Wahrman, 1965). Reference Works Brown, F., S. Driver, and C. Briggs, The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, Massachusetts, 2008, repr. from 1906 ed.). Jastrow, Marcus, Dictionary of the Targumim, Talmud Bavli, Talmud Yerushalmi and Midrashic Literature, 2nd ed. (repr. New York, 2004). Secondary Literature Baskin, Judith R., Midrashic Women: Formations of the Feminine in Rabbinic Literature (Hanover, NH: Brandeis University Press, 2002). Ben-Eliyahu, Eyal, Yehudah Cohn, and Fergus Millar, Handbook of Jewish Literature from Late Antiquity, 135–700 CE (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). Bronner, Leila Leah, From Eve to Esther: Rabbinic Reconstructions of Biblical Women (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1994). Callaway, Mary, Sing, O Barren One: A Study in Comparative Midrash, SBL Dissertation Series 91 (Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1986). Exum, J. Cheryl, Fragmented Women: Feminist (Sub)versions of Biblical Narratives, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement Series 163 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993). Fuchs, Esther, “The Literary Characterisation of Mothers and Sexual Politics in the Hebrew Bible,” in Alice Bach, ed., Women in the Hebrew Bible: A Reader (New York and London: Routledge, 1999), 127–39. Halpern-Amaru, Betsy, The Empowerment of Women in the Book of Jubilees, Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 60 (Leiden: Brill, 1999).

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Lindars, Barnabas, “‘Rachel Weeping for Her Children’—Jeremiah 31:15–22,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 12 (1979), 47–62. Rabow, Jerry, The Lost Matriarch: Finding Leah in the Bible and Midrash (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2014). Samely, Alexander, in collaboration with Philip Alexander, Rocco Bernasconi, Robert Hayward, Profiling Jewish Literature in Antiquity: An Inventory From Second Temple Texts to the Talmuds (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). Schneider, Tammi J., Mothers of Promise: Women in the Book of Genesis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2008). Strack, H.L., and Günter Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash, trans. Markus Bockmuehl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996). VanderKam, James C., The Book of Jubilees, Corpus Scriptorum Christianorum Orientalum 510–11; Scriptores Aethiopici 87– 88, 2 vols. (Leuven: Peeters, 1989). VanderKam, James C., The Book of Jubilees, Guides to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001). Wintermute, O.S., “Jubilees (Second Century B.C.),” in James H. Charlesworth, ed., Volume 2: Expansions of the “Old Testament” and Legends, Wisdom and Philosophical Literature, Prayers, Psalms, and Odes, Fragments of Lost Judeo-Hellenistic Works (London: Darton, Longman and Todd, 1985), 35–142.

THE CONTRADICTORY PHILOSOPHICAL LESSONS OF THE PARABLE OF THE LAME AND THE BLIND GUARDS IN VARIOUS RABBINIC MIDRASHIM LIEVE M. TEUGELS UTRECHT UNIVERSITY AND PTHU AMSTERDAM

The ancient rabbis designed many meshalim with the purpose of instructing and teaching. Most rabbinic parables are transmitted in a context of interpretation of a biblical text, i.e., midrash. 1 They are tools that provide a narrative a means of explaining a biblical text, in addition to the other ways and methods employed in midrash. Moreover, apart from teaching the interpretation of biblical verses, Much has been written about parables in the New Testament, with or without their relation to rabbinic parables. Acknowledging the importance of this research, in this study I focus solely on parables in midrashic rabbinic literature. Studies about parables in midrash referenced in the present article include David Stern, Parables in Midrash: Narrative and Exegesis in Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1991); Yonah Fraenkel, “Ha-Mashal,” in Darkhe Ha-Aggadah Vehamidrash, 2 vols. (Givataim: Yad letalmud, 1991), 323–93; Arnold Goldberg, “Das schriftauslegende Gleichnis im Midrasch,” Frankurter Judaistische Beiträge 9 (1981): 1–90; C. Thoma, S. Lauer, and H. Ernst, Die Gleichnisse der Rabbinen. 1. Tl.: Pesiqtā deRav Kahanā (PesK): Einleitung, Übersetzung, Parallelen, Kommentar, Texte (Bern: Peter Lang, 1986). The first volume contains a general introduction serving the entire series. Three additional volumes have appeared in this series, treating parables in Genesis Rabbah and Exodus Rabbah. 1

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the midrashic meshalim often teach something else also: a theological lesson, 2 a political view, or a philosophical issue. Therefore most midrashic parables are doubly pedagogical: they teach an interpretation of a biblical text, and at the same time they teach another, theological, political, or philosophical, lesson. 3 In the present paper I will discuss several versions of the same rabbinic mashal, namely the parable of the lame and the blind Yonah Fraenkel suggests that the author of the mashal (whom he calls the memashel) uses the unexpected or shocking elements of the mashal (peritsat degem hamashal: the breaching of the pattern of the mashal), to convey a theological message. See Fraenkel, “Ha-Mashal,” 330–37. 3 I believe that the opposition which is often made between “rhetorical” and “exegetical” meshalim, or between their mainly “rhetorical” or “hermeneutical” function, is artificial. Hermeneutics is not just “biblical interpretation” in the academic sense. Good rhetoric, in mashal as in midrash in general, depends on good hermeneutics. Cf. already Paul Ricoeur: “The task of hermeneutics, defined as the task of displaying the kind of ‘world’ projected by a certain type of text, would find its fulfillment at this stage: in the deciphering of the limit-experiences of human life (as well as the peak experiences …). At the same time, the task of connecting the interpretation of the text and the interpretation of life would be satisfied by a mutual clarification of the limit-expressions of religious language and the limit-experiences of human life.” Cf., P. Ricoeur, “Biblical Hermeneutics,” Semeia 4 (1975): 99. In a similar vein, Clemens Thoma and his colleagues wrote about the “renewal” brought about by a mashal: “Ein Gleichnis kan erst als gelungen bezeichnet werden wenn ein ḥiddûš zum Aufscheinen kommt. Rabbinische Gleichnisse können in diesem Sinne als ḥiddûšê ṯôra verstanden werden, d.h. als literarische Einheiten, die die rabbinisch verstandene Tora des Hörern/Lesern so anbieteten dass sie diesen zu einem Eigentum werden kann, dass sie bejahen können, weil es mit ihrem Leben und ihrer Situation korrespondiert.” Cf. Thoma, Lauer, and Ernst, Die Gleichnisse der Rabbinen. 1, 21–22. See also Lieve Teugels, “Between Hermeneutic and Rhetoric: The Parable of the Slave Who Buys a Rotten Fish in Exegetical and Homiletical Midrashim,” in Eveline van StaalduineSulman, ed., Your Text and My Text. FS Alberdina Houtman (Leiden: Brill, 2017). 2

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guards. 4 This parable, in its various versions, not only serves the interpretation of various biblical texts; it also conveys various, even contradictory, philosophical views on the nature of body and soul in the human, and the relation between them. We will see that these contradictory interpretations cannot be resolved or harmonized: they rather attest to the fact that various opinions about the relation between body and soul competed with each other in the rabbinic world. 5

THE PARABLE IN THE MEKHILTOT

In the Mekhilta de rabbi Ishmael (MRI) and her sister-midrash Mekhilta de rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (MRS), both tannaitic Midrashim from the third century CE, the mashal of the lame and the blind follows a midrash on Exodus 15:1: The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. For easy reference in the following discussion, I indicate the various sections of this text by capital letters A,B etc. Section A is the midrash. 6 The material I use in this paper issues from the annotated edition with translation of meshalim in tannaitic Midrashim on which I am working as part of the parable project of the Dutch national research fund (NWO) which is currently running in Utrecht, the Netherlands. The first part of this edition will cover the fifty meshalim in the two Mekhiltot. The parable of the lame and the blind is in chapter 20. I presented about this topic on the SBL Annual Meeting in 2016 in San Antonio. My study about the same parable was published in Dutch in 2016: L. Teugels, “De Parabel van de Lamme en de Blinde in de Rabbijnse Overlevering: Externe en Interne Confrontaties,” Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 73, no. 3 (2016): 236–45. 5 Cf. Marcel Poorthuis, “Gott, die Seele und der Leib: Kernfragen religiöser Anthropologie im Spiegel eines jüdischen Morgengebetes,” in Albert Gerhards, ed., Identität durch Gebet. Zur gemeinschaftsbildenden Funktion institutionalisierten Betens in Judentum und Christentum (Paderborn: Schöningh, 2003), 413–28. Poorthuis also quotes the present mashal. 6 All the translations in this article are mine, based on Lauterbach’s (for MRI) and Nelson’s (for MRS). In sections A and B the texts of MRI and MRS are very similar. See Jacob Zallel Lauterbach and David Stern, eds., Mekhilta de-Rabbi Ishmael: A Critical Edition, Based on the Manuscripts and 4

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LIEVE M. TEUGELS A. The horse and its rider (He has hurled into the sea) (Exod 15:1) The Holy One, blessed be He, would bring the horse and its rider and make them stand trial. He would say to the horse: “Why did you run after My children?” It would answer: “The Egyptian drove me against my will,” as it is said: the Egyptians gave chase to them, (and all the chariot horses of Pharaoh, his horsemen, and his warriors overtook them) (Exod 14.9). God would then say to the Egyptian: “Why did you pursue My children?” And he would answer: “It was the horse that ran away with me against my will,” as it is said: For the horses of Pharaoh, (with his chariots and horsemen), went (into the sea) (Exod 15.19). What would God do? He would make the man ride upon the horse and thus judge them together, as it is said: The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.

The midrash on the first verse of the “Song at the Sea” draws on a detail of the biblical text. The words ‫ סוּס וְ ר ְֹכבוֹ ָר ָמה ַביָּ ם‬are difficult to explain, not only from a textual, but also from a theological perspective. Textually, the first two words literally translate as “the horse and its rider.” Whereas this makes grammatical sense, one would rather expect the other way around: the driver and his horse. For the rabbis, this textual focus on the horse would already be enough to serve as a “peg” on which to “hang” a midrash. But there is more: Theologically, this verse raises a problem which begs Early Editions (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewish Publication Society, 2004), 182; W. David Nelson, Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon Bar Yoḥai (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2006), 127–28. In MRI this is found in tractate Shirata chapter 2: Lauterbach and Stern, MRI, 182; S. Horovitz and I. A. Rabin, eds., Mechilta d’Rabbi Ismael cum variis lectionibus et adnotationibus edidit H.S. Horovitz. Defuncti editoris opus exornavit et absolvit I.A. Rabin., Corpus tannaiticum. Section 3 ; pt. 3 (Frankfurt a. M.: Kauffmann, 1931), 125. For MRS, see J.N. Epstein and E.Z. Melamed, eds., Mekhilta d’rabbi Sim’on b. Jochai. Fragmenta in Geniza Cairensa reperta digessit apparatu critico, notis, praedatione instruxit (Jerusalem: Mekitse Nirdamim, 1955), 76–77. The textual witnesses of MRI for this section are, apart from the Editio Princeps (Constantinople, 1515): Oxford Bodeleian Marshall Or. 24; Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. Heb. 117; Vatican Biblioteca Apostolica ebr. 299; and Rome, Biblioteca Casanatense H 2736.

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for an explanation: why did the horses need to drown together with their Egyptian drivers? Were they merely collateral damage? The midrash answers this question by evoking a divine court. As an answer to God’s question why each of them pursued “His children,” both horse and rider “reply” that the other partner was responsible for this action, and they state their answer (or their answer is stated) with a biblical prooftext. God doesn’t accept these excuses and tries them both together. He judges them as one entity in the exact way that they pursued the Israelites: one riding on the other, together. Thus, summarizing the midrash, the remarkable construction “horse and its driver” draws the attention to the togetherness of both partners in crime. The textual anomaly serves a theological message that possibly surpasses the interpretation of this verse. Indeed, there is no indication that the ancient Rabbis were so driven by animal welfare that they would question the divine judgment of war horses. Immediately after this midrash, the Mekhiltot introduce a philosophical discussion between Rabbi—short for Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nasi (ca. 135 – ca. 200 CE)—and Antoninus (B). This Antoninus has been identified with various Roman emperors, but most importantly, he stands for the skeptic, Roman philosopher, or for a generic rabbinic construct of the “Other.” 7 As a rule, Antoninus is depicted in a positive light, and often he is presented in dialogue with Rabbi, as is the case here. It is plausible that the dialogues between Rabbi and Antoninus reflect the former’s good relationship with the Roman authorities in his capacity of leader of the Jewish community. Antoninus’ question deals with the judgment of the The latter is suggested by Ron Naiweld, “There Is Only One Other: The Fabrication of Antoninus in a Multilayered Talmudic Dialogue,” Jewish Quarterly Review (2014): 81–104. On Antoninus, see already Arnold Bodek, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus als Zeitgenosse und Freund des rabbi Jehuda ha-Nasi. Ein Beitrag zur Culturgeschichte (Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1868); Samuel Krauss, Antoninus und Rabbi (Wien: Israel-theol. Lehranstalt, 1910). More recently, and with reference to this passage, S. Newmeyer, “Antoninus and Rabbi on the Soul: Stoic Elements of a Puzzling Encounter,” Koroth 9 (1988): 108–124. 7

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body after death. Such a question is obviously a way to introduce the rabbinic opinion(s) on the matter. B. Antoninus asked our teacher: “In the hour that a human being dies, and the body ceases to be, does the Holy One make it/him/them stand to trial?” He said to him: “Instead of asking me about the body which is impure, ask me about the soul which is pure.”

Antoninus’ question is not entirely clear in either midrashic version: in the manuscript versions of MRI it is asked whether the Holy One makes “them” stand trial—which seems to refer to the human being and his body; in the Editio Princeps of MRI, and in MRS, Antoninus asks whether God makes “him/it” stand to trial, which according to the male grammatical form can refer to the human being, but most possibly to the body (guf is masculine). 8 Rabbi’s answer seems to work better with the version that applies Antoninus’ question only to the body: “Why do you ask about the impure body and not about the pure soul?” From Rabbi’s responsequestion we can deduce that the relationship between body and soul and their judgment after death is at stake here. This dialogue reflects speculation about body and soul in antiquity. In antique mind-body or mind-matter dualism, the soul is considered of a different nature than the body, which is matter, and it is moreover placed on a higher level. Dualism in this sense, therefore, implies a hierarchy: the nature of the soul is “higher” than that of the body. Interestingly, Rabbi’s response-question, rather than Antoninus’ initial question, represents a hierarchical dualist view, as he speaks about the “impure” body and the “pure” soul. In Plato’s Phaedrus, the horse and the rider represent different sections of (only) the soul. 9 This known imagery must have been the main reason why the question of Antoninus is attached here to the midrash on “horse and rider.” Indeed, in retrospect, the midrash of the horse and the rider must have been influenced by this classical image. The midrash is presented as a mere solution of a The versions either read: ‫ מעמידן בדין‬or ‫מעמידו בדין‬ Cf. Plato, Phaedrus 253c–254a. In fact, here three parts of the soul are represented by a charioteer and two horses. 8 9

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grammatical issue (horse and its rider). The answer to this grammatical issue, however, implies questions of theodicy: why did God drown the horses along with the riders? The latter is an unlikely rabbinical concern, if the “horse” was considered as nothing else than an Egyptian horse. In the rabbinic view, which, unlike Platonism, is inherently “carnal,” the body is also an integral part of the human being. Therefore the classical imagery of the horse(s) and the rider seems to have undergone a rabbinic revision that also includes the body. This basic idea, that “horse” stands for body and “rider” stands for soul must have been in the back of the mind of the rabbinic darshan who composed the midrash of the “horse and its rider.” This gradually becomes evident in the context of the dialogue between Antoninus and Rabbi, and the following sections of this literary unit: the mashal and its nimshal. The mashal, which follows now, is presented as an answer to the questions raised by Antoninus and Rabbi. MRI does not present the mashal in full. It is, rather, introduced as a well-known story which does not need quoting: the implied audience is supposed to know it. 10 This is the text as it occurs in all textual witnesses of MRI. 11 Other, maybe even older versions of the mashal existed. See the quotation of a similar parable (probably in combination with other sources) by the church father Epiphanius, Panarion 64.70.5–17. For the text of the Apocryphon, from Epiphanius and other sources, see James R. Mueller, The Five Fragments of the Apocryphon of Ezekiel: A Critical Study (Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), 14, 38–47, 79–100; Michael E. Stone, Benjamin G. Wright, and David Satran, eds., The Apocryphal Ezekiel (Atlanta, Ga.: Society of Biblical Literature, 2000). In the latter see esp. Esther Chazon, “The Blind and the Lame” (9–19) and Marc Bregman, “Excursus: The Rabbinic Versions of the Blind and the Lame” (61–68). See for further studies: Marc Bregman, “The Parable of the Lame and the Blind: Epiphanius' Quotation from an Apocryphon of Ezekiel,” Journal of Theological Studies (1991): 125–38; Richard Bauckham, “The Parable of the Royal Wedding Feast (Matthew 22:1–14) and the Parable of the Lame Man and the Blind Man (Apocryphon of Ezekiel),” Journal of Biblical Literature (1996): 471–88; Reuven Kiperwasser, “A Bizarre Invitation to the King’s Banquet: The Metamorphosis of a Parable Tradition and the 10

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LIEVE M. TEUGELS C. They told this parable. To what is the matter similar? To a king of flesh and blood who had a beautiful orchard. The king placed in the orchard two guards, one lame and one blind. Until: “and afterwards: to judge with it (Ps 50:4 cont.)”—that is the body. 12

The text is, fortunately, quoted in full in MRS. 13 I will henceforth discuss the mashal as present in MRS. In the following translation, C marks the mashal, D is the nimshal—the application of the mashal, and E introduces the prooftext Ps 50:4 with its midrash. C. They told this parable. To what is the matter similar? To a king of flesh and blood who had a beautiful orchard. The king placed in the orchard two guards, one lame and one blind. The lame said to the blind: “Beautiful young fruits do I see.” Said the blind one to him: “As if I can see?!” The lame one said: “As if I can walk?!” The lame rode on the back of the blind, and they went and took the first fruits. After (some) days, the king came and sat in judgment over them. He said to them: “Where are the young fruits?” Said the blind to him: “As if I can see?!” Said the lame to him: “As if I can walk?!” The king was clever: What did he do? He let the one ride on the back of

Transformation of an Eschatological Idea,” Prooftexts (2013): 147–81. The theme of a blind person carrying a lame person to perform treacherous deeds is not unique to Jewish and Christian literature, but is widely represented in world folklore. For more, see bibliography: Bregman, “The Parable of the Lame and the Blind,” 127 note 5, and Stith Thompson, MotifIndex of Folk-Literature; a Classification of Narrative Elements in Folktales, Ballads, Myths, Fables, Mediaeval Romances, Exempla, Fabliaux, Jest-Books, and Local Legends (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955), N886 (Folktale Type 519). 11 The textual witnesses for this passage are listed in note 6. 12 The end of this unit in MRI introduced by “Until,” which is identical to its parallel in MRS (see below), indicates that not only the content but also the wording of the mashal was well-known. The midrash of Ps 50:4 involves a specific reading of this verse, which I will explain later. 13 The manuscript containing this section of MRS is Paris, Alliance Israelite XI 126 5v–6r.

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the other, and they would walk. The king said to them: “So you did, and you ate!”

D. So the Holy One blessed be He brings the body and the soul and puts them to trial. He says to the body: “Why did you sin before me?” It says before Him: “Master of the World, from the day that the soul went out of me, I am cast down like a stone.” He says to the soul: “Why did you sin before me?” It says before Him: “Master of the World, Is it me who has sinned? The body has sinned! Since the day that I went out from it, haven’t I been pure before you?” The Holy One takes the soul and enters it in the body and judges them together,

E. as it is said: He summoned the heavens above (Ps 50:4)—to bring the soul. And the earth (Ps 50:4 cont.)—to bring the body. And afterwards: to judge with it (‫( )לדין עמו‬Ps 50:4 cont.).

The mashal uses yet another image, of one “riding” on another, namely a lame guard riding on the shoulders of a blind guard. 14 These two are appointed by the king to guard the fruit in his orchard. Each on his own cannot access the fruit, but they cooperate and thus manage to steal the forbidden fruits. Just as in the midrash of the horse and its rider, the lame and the blind each plead innocent and blame the other “partner” for stealing the fruit. The smart king, just like God in the midrash, judges the two together “as one.” The nimshal (D) does not revert to the base text Exod 15:1 and its midrash (A), as is usually the case in a midrashic mashal. It, rather, picks up on the philosophical discussion between Antoninus and Rabbi (B) and applies the story of the lame and the blind to the body and the soul. In line with the dialogue between God and the horse and rider (midrash) and the king and the two guards (mashal), a third dialogue is presented here, between God and the body and the soul. The dialogue is structured in the same way as According to I. Ziegler, Die Königsgleichnisse des Midrasch, beleuchtet durch die römerische Kaiserzeit (Breslau: Schottländer, 1903), 299, garden work was known to be done by weak and old people in antiquity. For references, see there. 14

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the two previous ones: the body and the soul each in their turn blame the other partner for the fact that they have sinned. Thereupon God judges them both together. Unlike Rabbi’s statement about the impure body and the pure soul, which involves a dualist hierarchy, the nimshal, in line with the mashal, rather treats body and soul as equal parts of the human being which operate, sin, and are being judged together—just as the horse and the rider in the midrash. The nimshal concludes with the quotation of Ps 50:4, which, in turn, is subjected to a midrash (E) that reads it as an application of the issues portrayed in the nimshal. Because this verse deals with “judging,” it is an appropriate prooftext. The “heavens” are asked to bring on the soul, and the “earth” is asked to supply the body. This placing of the soul in heaven, which is “higher,” and the body on earth, which is “lower,” entails the possibility of a hierarchical dualistic view of the world and the human. This is, however, not elaborated here: it is not said that the soul is “higher” because it comes from heaven. The specific reading of ‫ ָל ִדין ַﬠמּוֹ‬in Ps 50:4 still needs to be addressed. According to the Masoretic vocalization, which is reflected in the modern translations, the text reads “to judge his people.” The darshan, however, “reads” the word ‫( עמו‬amo) differently by vocalizing it imo—with it, i.e. the body with the soul. This is also explicitly the case in the parallels to this mashal in later Midrashim, which we will discuss after we wrap up the discussion of this textual unit in the Mekhiltot. To summarize: In the Mekhiltot, the mashal is not presented as a direct interpretation of Exod 15:1: the horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The midrash (A) is a direct interpretation of that verse. In the midrash, horse and rider are not explicitly presented as images for body and soul, and without the following passages, they would not be read as anything more than the Egyptian horse and “its” rider. The dialogue between Antoninus and Rabbi (B) forms the connection between the midrash (A) and the mashal and nimshal (C, D). This dialogue is appended to this midrash, or the other way around, because “horse and rider” are a traditional image for “body and soul” in Greek philosophy. As opposed to the twofold structure typical of the mashal, this results in a threefold repetition of the same structure: the dialogue between God, horse and rider in the midrash; the dialogue

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between king, lame and blind in the mashal; and the dialogue between God, body and soul in the nimshal. In addition, there is the dialogue between Antoninus and Rabbi. Structure, as is well known, is one of the ordering principles of rabbinic texts. However, the similar structure camouflages different philosophical views. Throughout this passage, the relation between body and soul shifts back and forth between a simple mind-body dualism (body and soul are separate instances within the human but one is not “higher” than the other), and a hierarchical dualism (the soul is of a higher order than the body). I will return to this in the conclusion of this chapter, after having discussed some parallels in later rabbinic works which present a similar juxtaposition of various philosophical views.

THE MASHAL OF THE LAME AND THE BLIND IN LATER RABBINIC SOURCES

Babylonian Talmud The mashal, together with its narrative context (Antoninus and Rabbi), but without the midrash of Exod 15:1, is also found in the Babylonian Talmud, where it appears in a collection of several “Antoninus” episodes. The fact that the mashal appears here without its exegetical context is an indication that, at least in a later stage, it circulated independently from a biblical text. 15 The discussion between Antoninus and Rabbi is structured differently in the Bavli: it is Antoninus who initiates the story about body and soul blaming each other (the nimshal in the Mekhiltot): Antoninus said to Rabbi: “The body and the soul can both free themselves from judgment. Thus, the body can plead, ‘The soul has sinned: from the day it left me I lie like a dumb stone in the grave.’ While the soul can say, ‘The body has sinned:

15

See also note 10.

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LIEVE M. TEUGELS from the day I departed from it I fly about in the air like a bird.’” 16

The mashal is presented as Rabbi’s answer:

He (Rabbi) replied, “I will tell you a parable. To what may this be compared?” etc.

As in the Mekhilot, the mashal is followed by the nimshal, including the midrash of Ps 50:4: So will the Holy One, blessed be He, bring the soul, [re]place it in the body, and judge them together, as it is written, He summoned the heavens above, and the earth, to judge imo: He summoned the heavens above—this refers to the soul; and the earth, to judge imo— to the body.

Leviticus Rabbah In Leviticus Rabbah, the mashal appears in the context of a midrash on Lev 4:2: when a soul has sinned by mistake against any of the Lord’s commandments (literal translation). This verse may be a more original exegetical context for the mashal than Exod 15:1. A premise behind this midrash, and in all midrashim about Lev 4:2 mentioned in this paper, is that nefesh does not refer to a “human,” a “person,” as it is meant in the biblical verse, but that it is taken to mean “soul,” a particular part of the human, separate from his body. The mashal of the lame and the blind is followed here by a “twin” mashal about a priest with two wives, which reveals the exactly opposite view about the relation between body and soul, and their mutual responsibility. Whereas, as we have seen, the mashal of the lame and the blind illustrates that body and soul are equally responsible, this new mashal, with its nimshal, demonstrates that the soul is more responsible than the body, because it is of a higher order. Translation: Isidore Epstein, The Babylonian Talmud (London: Soncino Press, 1978), with some adaptations. 16

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R. Chiyya taught: This may be compared to a priest who had two wives, one the daughter of a priest, and the other the daughter of an Israelite, and handed to them dough of terumah, and they rendered it unclean. Said he to them: “Who made the dough unclean?” Each said that the other had made it unclean. What did the priest do? He let the daughter of the Israelite alone, and began to judge the daughter of the priestly family. Said she to him: “My lord priest, have you not handed it [i.e. the dough] to both of us alike? Why do you judge me and are you letting the daughter of the Israelite alone?” Said he to her: “You are the daughter of a priest and trained [in the laws appertaining to terumah] from your father’s house, therefore I judge you, but she is the daughter of an Israelite, and is not trained from her father's house; for this reason I judge you.”

Even so in the Time to Come, the Holy One blessed be He will say to the soul: “Why have you sinned before me?” The latter will say before Him: “O Lord of the Universe, I and the body have sinned as one; why do You judge me and let the body alone?” He will answer her: “You are from the upper regions, from a place where they do not sin but the body is from the lower regions, from a place where they sin. Therefore I judge you (‫)אני מדיין עימיך‬.” 17

The idea formulated at the end of the nimshal, that the soul is of a higher order than the body, is as we have seen, is already present in nuce in the midrash of Ps 50:40. That verse, with its midrash, is again quoted at the end of the mashal of the lame and the blind which comes before the new mashal of the two priestly wives. Interestingly, Ps 50:4 and its midrash is not repeated at the end of this new mashal. However, it seems to be implied in the reference to the “upper” and “lower” regions, which is this time elaborated in an explicitly hierarchical, dualistic way. Moreover at the very end of the passage, the expression ‫מדיין עם‬/‫ לדין עם‬is used in the sense of “to judge,” with the preposition ‫ עם‬denoting the object of “judg25F

Translation taken from Soncino Midrash Rabbah, with some adaptations. 17

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ing, whereas in the midrash of Ps 50:4 at the end of the mashal of the lame and the blind, this expression was used in the sense of “to judge with.” This different use of the expression reflects a different anthropology. To sum up: in Leviticus Rabbah the mashal of the lame and the blind occurs in an exegetical context, a midrash of Lev 4:2, without the dialogue between Antoninus and Rabbi. In Leviticus Rabbah, as in the Mekhiltot, the mashal of the lame and the blind reveals a certain dualism, but no hierarchical view of body and soul. Like the lame and the blind guards, the body and the soul sin together and are being judged together, as one. Ps 50:4 is quoted at the end of this mashal and explained in exactly the same, nonhierarchical way as in the Mekhiltot. This mashal-nimshal unit is, in Leviticus Rabbah, immediately followed by a different mashal of two priestly wives who defile the terumah, with its nimshal. That mashal-nimshal unit, quoted above, betrays a different view of the relation between body and soul. Just like the priestly wife, who should have “known better,” the soul is deemed more responsible for sin than the body. The reason why this is so is explained at the end of the nimshal: because the soul is from a “higher region” than the body. Thus, the second mashal promotes a hierarchical dualistic view of the relation between body and soul. Interestingly, both meshalim are juxtaposed without any introduction or explanation of their different implications. 18 Tanchuma Buber Vayikra 11–12 In Tanchuma Buber, the mashal of the lame and the blind is also accompanied by a twin-mashal, but a different one than in Leviticus Rabbah. This time, the twin-mashal, about two people working Marc Bregman, “The Parable of the Lame and the Blind,” 131 note 23 suggests that the view that the soul and the body are reunited after death and can be punished together for sin is more characteristic of Tannaitic sources, whereas the view that only the soul survives and is punishable for sin is more characteristic of the Amoraic sources. The fact that various opinions about the relation between body and soul co-existed in ancient Judaism is discussed by Marcel Poorthuis, “Gott, die Seele und der Leib,” 413–28. 18

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in the royal palace, precedes the mashal of the lame and the blind. Both meshalim are brought anonymously, as is often the case in later Midrashim. As in Leviticus Rabbah, both meshalim are connected to a midrash of Lev 4:2. In the Tanchuma, they are preceded by a fascinating midrash of that verse, which reads the sentence in an alternative way. 19 When a soul has sinned by mistake (Lev 4:2). Is it the soul that sins? Scripture says: In the place of justice (tsedek), there is wickedness (Eccl 3:16)—the place of the soul, that was given from the Righteousness, from a place where there is no iniquity or sin. And (when) it does sin, Scripture cries out in surprise: When a soul has sinned by mistake?! In the place of justice—there is wickedness!

The exact interpretation of this midrash is difficult, as both the question and exclamation marks are not present in the Hebrew text. In a typical petichta-style, the base verse, Lev 4:2 is connected with a “remote” verse: Eccl 3:16. The tendency of the present midrash seems to be that it is unthinkable that a “soul” sins, because the soul issues from a “higher” place, where there is only justice, or even from the Divine, from Righteousness. When a soul sins, this implies that wickedness enters that righteous place. This midrash thus involves a dualistic-hierarchical view of the relation between body and soul. This is immediately followed by the first mashal: To what is the matter similar? To two persons who sinned against the king, one from the province and one from the palace. When he saw that both of them had committed a single offense, he released the one from the province but rendered a guilty verdict against the person from the palace. His palace people said to him: Both of them committed a single offense; yet you released the one from the province and gave a verdict against the one from the palace. He said to them: I released the

Translation based on: Salomon Buber, ed., Midrasch Tanchuma: ein agadischer Commentar zum Pentateuch (Wilna: Wittwe & Gebrüder Romm, 1885). For my translation I was guided by John T. Townsend, Midrash Tanhuma. S. Buber Recension. Vol. 2 Exodus and Leviticus (Hoboken, NJ: Ktav Publ. House, 1997), 194–95. 19

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In this mashal, the person who has always lived in the palace bears a higher responsibility than the outsider. Even without an explicit nimshal, it should be clear, in view of the midrash that precedes it, that the “one from the palace” stands for the “soul” who stems from a “place of righteousness.” When such a person casu quo soul “sins,” “wickedness” enters the “righteous place.” The mashal, unlike the midrash, introduces the “one from the province,” who— as explained in the nimshal that follows—is identified with the body, the soul’s counterpart. So also the body is like one from the province. The Lord God formed man from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7). But the soul is a palace person from above. He blew into his nostrils the breath of life (Ibid.) Yet both of them sinned.

Given this “application” of the mashal’s images to the body and the soul, the tendency seems to be hierarchical-dualistic, just as in the mashal of the two wives of the priest in Leviticus Rabbah. Hereafter, however, the nimshal reverts to the position that body and soul are equally guilty and responsible, as in the mashal of the lame and the blind. Why? Because it is impossible for the body to exist without the soul. Thus, if there is no soul, there is no body, and if there is no body, there is no soul. So both of them sinned.

The nimshal continues with the quotation of several prooftexts which divert into various directions that are of lesser interest for this study. Then it reverts again to the base verse, and it renders explicit the reasoning behind the midrash: the text deliberately uses the word nefesh, “soul,” to indicate that it is “from above.” Here, we are back to hierarchical dualism. When a soul sins (Lev 4:2). (It is) because it is from above that “a person (adam)” is not written here.

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After this, Tanchuma proceeds with the mashal of the lame and the blind with exactly the same implications as in the previously quoted sources: body and soul have sinned together and will be judged together, as one. 20

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

In all the rabbinic sources that feature the parable of the lame and the blind, it is adduced to illuminate the relation between body and soul. Notably at stake is the responsibility of the body and the soul for sin, and their respective punishment after death. The mashal is included in the two Mekhiltot—tannaitic Midrashim— and in the amoraic Leviticus Rabbah, the Babylonian Talmud, and Midrash Tanchuma. The tendency of the mashal and its nimshal is the same in all sources: body and soul, like the lame and the blind guards in the story, can only sin together and will therefore be punished together, as a unity. In all the rabbinic sources, the nimshal ends with an identical midrash of Psalm 50:4: in this midrash, it is also said that body and soul will be judged together, yet the kernel of a hierarchical dualist view is introduced: the body is said to be “from the earth,” i.e., below, and the soul is placed in heaven, i.e., above. In this midrash, however, no consequences are drawn from this spatial hierarchy: it is not said that the soul is more responsible because it is “better” in any way. In the Mekhiltot and the Bavli, the mashal is preceded by a dialogue between Antoninus and Rabbi. The attributions (who says what?) are different in both sources. In the Mekhiltot, it is, interestingly, Rabbi who suggests that the soul is “pure” whereas the body is “impure.” In the Bavli this hierarchical distinction is not made. In the Mekhiltot, the mashal and this dialogue are embedded in the

The section “In the world to come the Holy One blessed be He will bring in the soul and say to it: Why have you transgressed against the commandments?” serves here as the introduction to the mashal. After the mashal, follows the “rest” of the nimshal: “So the Holy One blessed be He will take a spirit and toss it into a body, as stated: He summoned the heavens above (Ps 50:4), i.e., the soul; and the earth, to judge imo (Ibid.), i.e., the body.” 20

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context of a midrash on Exod 15:1 (the horse and its rider). I have demonstrated that the connection between this midrash and the theme of the body and soul is forged by the traditional Hellenistic imagery of “horse and rider” (or charioteer) for parts of the soul. The midrash of the horse and the rider, which at first sight appears to deal with a purely exegetical question, seems to have been inspired by the concerns about the body and the soul that are the topic of the dialogue between Antoninus and Rabbi, and the mashal of the Lame and the Blind. In Leviticus Rabbah and the Tanchuma, the mashal functions in a midrash of Lev 6:2: When a “soul” has sinned by mistake. The combination of “soul” and “sin” is the lead here for reflections on the nature and origin of the soul, and its relation with the body. In both collections, the mashal of the lame and the blind is presented exactly as in the Mekhiltot, with the same “egalitarian” view of body and soul. However, in both sources, this mashal is combined with a “twin” that reflects a different, hierarchical-dualistic view which amounts to the idea that the soul is more, or even solely, responsible for sin because it is of a higher, even divine, order. The combination of the various components of the literary units in both Midrashim—midrash and two meshalim with their respective nimshalim— reveals a redaction that did not smooth away the bumps and seams of different philosophical views. Not only do the two meshalim reflect various views, but different perspectives are also traceable within the nimshalim of the two meshalim, and in the midrash. To conclude: In the various sources that have been studied in this chapter, different, even mutually excluding, opinions about the nature of and the relation between body and soul appear side by side. In view of the contrast that is often made between “Athens” and “Jerusalem,” between the “carnal Jewish” and the “ideological Hellenistic” views, one could expect that the Roman Antoninus would promote a more hierarchical dualistic view of the relation between body and soul. In addition, in view of assumptions about the development of ideology in rabbinic literature, one could possibly expect that the tannaitic sources would reflect a less dualistic

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view of the human than the later sources. 21 Both assumptions are not obvious in the studied materials: The parable of the lame and the blind—which, because of its inclusion in the Mekhiltot, can, in its rabbinic form, be assumed to be “tannaitic”—indeed reflects an “egalitarian” view of body and soul. This stands in contrast with the hierarchical-dualist stance of the two other (amoraic) meshalim. However, in the Mekhilot, it is the Jew, Rabbi, and not the Roman, Antoninus, who distinguishes between the “pure soul” and the “impure body.” Returning to the theme of pedagogy that was the topic of the 2016 SBL Midrash Section session: the rabbinic sources that include the mashal of the lame and the blind, are, especially in the literary context surrounding the mashal, replete with internal contradictions. According to present-day standards, this would not be considered pedagogically sound, but rather confusing. On the other hand, the texts may reflect the actuality of the debate, and the uncertainty about these matters during the entire rabbinic period. Side-by-side presentation of contradicting views is, moreover, very characteristic of rabbinic literature, and we can therefore assume that learning to deal with conflicting views was part of rabbinic pedagogy.

21

See note 18.