1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Midrash

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MIDRASH, a very common term in Jewish writings for “exposition” and a certain class of expository literature. The word also occurs twice in the Old Testament (2 Chron. xiii. 22, xxiv. 27; R.V. rather poorly “commentary”).

1. Introduction.—The term (Heb. midrāsh from dārash “to search out, enquire”) denotes some explanation or exposition, which, in contrast to the more literal exegesis (technically called pĕshat “simple”), endeavours to reach the spirit lying below the text. It may be defined as a didactic or homiletic development of some thought or theme, characterized by a more subjective, imaginative and ampliative treatment. Jewish Midrash falls broadly into two classes: Halaka (q.v.) or Hălākā (walking, way, conduct) and Haggādah (narrative [with a purpose], homily; Aramaic equivalent Aggādah; the incorrect form Agadah rests upon a mistaken etymology). The former dealt with legal and ritual matters; it flourished in the schools and developed into the most subtle casuistry. The latter covered all non-halakic exposition and was essentially popular. It embraced historical and other traditions; stories, legends, parables and allegories; beliefs, customs and all that may be called folk-lore. It fed itself, not upon the laws, but upon the narrative, the prophetical and the poetical writings of the Old Testament, and it had a more spiritual and ethical tone than the Halaka. In both classes, accepted tradition (written or oral) was reinterpreted in order to justify or to deduce new teaching (in its widest sense), to connect the present with a hallowed past, and to be a guide for the future; and the prevalence of this process, the innumerable different examples of its working, and the particular application of the term Midrash to an important section of Rabbinical literature complicates both the study of the subject and any attempt to treat it concisely.[1] Apart from the popular paraphrastic translations of the Old Testament (see Targum), the great mass of orthodox Rabbinical literature consists of (1) the independent Midrāshīm, and (2) the Mishna which, with its supplement the Gĕmārā, constitutes the Talmud. Both contain Halaka, and Haggada, although the Mishna itself is essentially Halaka, and the Midrashim are more especially Haggadic; and consequently further information bearing upon Midrash must be sought in the art. Talmud. These two articles handle one of the most famous bodies of ancient literature, which, in its turn, has given rise to innumerable Jewish and non-Jewish works, and has many points of value and interest which cannot be adequately discussed here. It must suffice, therefore, to deal rather broadly with the subject, and to refer for fuller details to the special encyclopedias, viz.: Hamburger's Real-Encyc. für Bibel und Talmud, and the very elaborate articles in the Jewish Encyclopedia.

2. Narrative Midrash.—Of the three different kinds of historical writing—the genetic or scientific, the purely narrative and the pragmatic—it is the last which has prevailed among religious historians. It is extremely difficult to avoid the subjective element in dealing with matters of fact, and the religious treatment of history is influenced, however unconsciously, by the mental environment of the writers. In giving greater prominence to events of religious importance and to their bearing upon the spiritual needs of contemporaries they view and interpret the past in a particular light, and will see in the past those growths which only in their own time have become mature. A latent significance is found, a particular connexion is traced, and a continuity is established, the true nature of which must be tested by critical students. Now, it is subjective history which we find in the earliest references to Midrash. The Midrash of the prophet Iddo (2 Chron. xiii. 22) like the Visions and the Histories of Iddo and Shemaiah (ix. 29, xii. 15) which are quoted for the lives of Solomon, Abijah and Jeroboam, are evidently quite distinct from the sources cited in the parallel portions of the earlier compilation, and the entire spirit of the narratives is different. Similarly, there is a conspicuous difference of treatment of the life of Joash in 2 Kings xi. seq., compared with 2 Chron. xxiii. seq., which refers to some Midrash of the Book of the Kings (xxiv. 27). Although it is uncertain whether this comprehensive Midrash also included the “books of the Kings” (xvi. 11, xxvii. 7, &c.), and the Midrash of Iddo and other related works, it is clear that the Book of Chronicles (q.v.) marks a very noteworthy advance upon the records in the (canonical) Book of Kings (q.v.). It is now recognized that the compiler of the former has used many novel narratives of a particular edifying and didactic stamp, and scholars are practically unanimous that these are subsequent to the age of the Israelite monarchy and present a picture of historical and religious conditions which (to judge from earlier sources) is untrustworthy. At the same time various details (as comparison with the Book of Kings shows) are relatively old and, on a priori grounds, it is extremely unlikely that the unhistorical elements are necessarily due to deliberate imagination or perversion rather than to the development of earlier traditions. The religious significance of the past is dominant, and the past is idealized from a later standpoint; and whether the narratives in Chronicles are expressly styled Midrash or not, they are the fruit of an age which sought to inculcate explicitly those lessons which, it conceived, were implied in the events of the past. The value of the book lay not in history for its own sake, but in its direct application to present needs. But the tendency to reshape history for the edification of later generations was no novelty when Chronicles was first compiled (about 4th cent. B.C.). Pragmatic historiography is exemplified in the earliest continuous sources (viz. of the “Deuteronomic” writers, i.e. allied to Deut., especially the secondary portions); and there are many relatively early narratives in which the details have been modified, and the heroes of the past are the mouthpiece for the thought of a later writer or of his age. Numerous instructive examples of the active tendency to develop tradition may be observed in the relationship between Genesis and the “Book of Jubilees,” or in the embellishments of Old Testament history in the Antiquities of Josephus, or in the widening gaps in the diverse traditions of the famous figures of the Old Testament (Adam, Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Ezra, &c.), as they appear in non-canonical writings. In such cases as these one can readily perceive the different forms which the same material elements have assumed, and one may distinguish the unreliable accretions which are clearly later and secondary. Accordingly, when there are narratives which cannot be tested in this manner, should they show all the internal marks of didactic expansion and date from an age much later than the times with which they deal, their immediate value will not necessarily lie in the details which appear to be of historical interest, but in their contribution to later forms of tradition and phases of thought. So far then, Midrash tends to include moralizing history, whether we call it narrative or romance, attached to names and events, and it is obviously exemplified whenever there are unmistakable signs of untrustworthy amplification and of some explicit religious or ethical aim colouring the narrative. This, however, is only one of the aspects which have to be taken into consideration when one advances to the Rabbinical Midrash.

For Old Testament “Midrash” see further K. Budde, Zeitschr. f. alt-test. Wissenschaft, xii. 37, seq., and commentaries on Chronicles (q.v.). The elaborate study by the Jewish scholar Zunz (Die gottesdienstlichen Vorträge, ch. viii.) is also valuable for bridging the gulf between the canonical and the non-canonical traditions and for its just attitude to the criticism of historical traditions. The rigid line between fact or fiction in religious literature, which readers often wish to draw, cannot be consistently justified, and in studying old Oriental religious narratives it is necessary to realize that the teaching was regarded as more essential than the method of presenting it. “Midrash” which may be quite useless for historical investigation may be appreciated for the light it throws upon forms of thought. Historical criticism does not touch the reality of the ideas, and since they may be as worthy of study as the apparent facts they clothe, they thus indirectly contribute to the history of their period. In any case, while the true historical kernel of the Midrashic narrative (e.g. dealing with Adam, Moses or Isaiah) will always be a matter of dispute, the teaching to which it is applied stands on an independent footing as also does the application of that teaching to other ages.

3. Continuity of Literature and Material.—Amid obscure vicissitudes in the 7th to 5th centuries, B.C., the Canonical books of the Old Testament gradually began to assume their present shape (see Palestine: History). The internal peculiarities show that the compilations are the much edited remains of a larger body of literature, and it may reasonably be supposed that the older sources did not at once perish. There is literary critical evidence for late insertions by exilic or later compilers;[2] the compiler of Chronicles apparently refers to accessible works; and there is a close material relationship between the Old Testament and later literature. All this suggests that Old Hebrew writings, apart from those preserved in the Canon, persisted to a relatively late period. No a priori distinction can be made and no precise chronological line can be drawn between the books of the Canon (Canticles, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Ezekiel and Proverbs had been at one time or another subjects of debate among the Rabbis) and the Apocrypha (Ecclesiasticus, Judith, Maccabees and Tobit, were “allowed”); and the intimate relation between them appears in the character of the “Wisdom Literature” (e.g. Proverbs, and the Wisdom of Solomon), in the treatment of the stories of Esther and Daniel (the history of Susanna), and also in the twofold recension's Ezra and 1 Esdras. Historical or narrative Midrash is exemplified in the “canonical” books Daniel, Esther, Jonah and Ruth, and in the “apocryphal” stories of Daniel (viz. Susanna, where the point lies in the name Daniel “God is judge”), Esther, Judith, Tobit (and the Ahiqar cycle of stories), the story of Zerubbabel (1 Esd. iii. seq., the sequel of which belongs to the canonical Ezra), and the martyrdom of Eleazer (2 Macc. vi. seq., compare 4 Macc.). This is not the place to notice the course of Jewish literary activity in Palestine or Alexandria, whether along the more rigid lines of Pharisaic legalism (the development of the canonical “priestly” law), or the popular and less scholastic phases, which recall the earlier apocalyptical tendencies of the Old Testament and were cultivated alike by early Jewish and Christian writers. But after the fall of Jerusalem, partly through the need for systematizing the traditional post-biblical law, and partly through disputes with the Christians, orthodox Rabbinism received the stamp which has since characterized it. The traditional or oral law was codified in the Mishna (see Talmud, § 1 seq.), the Canon was fixed, and the fluctuations in the MSS. of the Old Testament (which, like the numerous variations in the Septuagint, complicated exact exegesis) gave way to what was virtually a single text. Moreover, the important body of apocalyptical and pseudepigraphical literature, with all its links between Christianity and Judaism, fell into disfavour on both sides. This literature is especially valuable because it illustrates contemporary Halaka and Haggada, and it illuminates the circle of thought with which Jesus and his followers were familiar; it thus fills the gap between the Old Testament and the authoritative Rabbinical Midrashim which, though often in a form several centuries later, not rarely preserve older material.[3]

A few miscellaneous examples of related Midrashic details may be cited:—

i. The book of Jubilees (a haggadic and halakic Midrash on Genesis, about 2nd century B.C.), contains the story of the war between Amorite Kings and Jacob (ch. xxxiv.). This is known to the probably contemporary Testament of Judah and to much later Midrashim (Mid. Wayyisā‘ū, Yalqūt Shimeonī, also the apocryphal “book of Jashar”), and is evidently connected with the cryptic allusion to the capture of Shechem in Gen. xlviii. 22 (R.V. marg.). Unless we suppose that the latter was suddenly expanded into the stories which thenceforth persisted, it may be inferred that an old extra-canonical tradition (for which a case can be made) continued to survive the compilation of Genesis (q.v.) and ultimately assumed the various exaggerated forms now extant. Naturally the probability of such a tradition—the merest hint of which happens to be preserved in Gen. loc. cit.—does not prejudice the problem of its origin or accuracy; in Jub. the story is useless for Jacob's history, and is probably influenced by a recollection of more recent events in the Maccabaean age.

ii. A curious account of war between Egypt and Canaan after Joseph's death recurs in Jub. xli., Test. of Simeon, viii., and Benjamin vii., and is connected with details (burial of Jacob's sons at Hebron) recorded by Josephus (Ant. ii. 8). Josephus in turn has another story wherein Moses leads the Egyptians against Ethiopia (Ant. ii. 10, for parallels see Moore, Ency. Bib. col. 2089 seq.), and this is found in the late chronicles of Jerahmeel and the Book of Jashar (cf. also Mid. Dibrē ha-yāmīm shel-Mōsheh; see Jew. Ency. viii. 573 seq.). The former may be linked with Gen. l. 9 (where the concourse of chariots and horsemen would invite speculation), and the latter with the Cushite wife of Moses; but although one may grant that the canonical sources do not by any means preserve all the older current traditions, the contents of the latter cannot be recovered from the later persisting Midrashim.[4]

iii. The allusion in Jude v. 9 to the contention of the archangel Michael for the body of Moses belongs to a group of traditions which have been collected by R. H. Charles (Assumption of Moses, pp. 105 seq.), and it appears that the incident was familiar to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and other early writers. Moreover, Jude v. 16 agrees very closely with the Latin version of the Testament of Moses, which has other parallels in Matt. xxiv. 29; Acts vii. 36, 38 seq. (ibid. pp. lxii. seq.). Here may be added Jannes and Jambres, who withstood Moses (2 Tim. iii. 8); these or related names were known to the elder Pliny (xxx. i. 11), Apuleius (first half of 2nd century), Origen (who refers to a book of Jannes and Mambres), and various earlier and later Jewish sources; see I. Abrahams, Ency. Bib. col. 2327 seq.; H. St J. Thackeray, Relation of St Paul to contemporary Jewish thought (London, 1900), pp. 215 sqq.

iv. Jewish traditions of Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees recur in the Targums, Midrashic works, and earlier in the book of Jubilees (ch. xii., ed. Charles, p. 91; cf. also Judith v. 6 seq.). The legends of his escape from a fiery furnace may have a philological basis (ūr interpreted as “fire”), but the allusion to the redemption of Abraham in Isa. xxix 22 seems to indicate that older tradition was fuller than the present records in Genesis, and supplies another example of the link connecting the Old Testament with Rabbinical thought.

v. Not to multiply examples further, it may suffice to refer to (a) the apparent belief that the serpent tempted Eve to unchastity (2 Cor. xi. 2 seq., see Thackeray pp. 50 seq.); (b) the descent of the angels upon earth (Gen. vi. 1 seq.; Jude 6, 14 seq., see Charles, Jub. p. 33 seq., Clermont-Ganneau, Quart. Statements of the Pal. Explor. Fund, 1903, pp. 233 seq. and the Midr. Abkir. see Jew. Ency. viii. 572); (c) the relationship between the Midrashic developments of the story of Esther in Josephus, the Greek and Old Latin Versions, the Targums and later Jewish sources (see L. B. Paton, Comm. on Esther, pp. 20, 100 and passim); and finally (d) the numerous minor miscellaneous parallels noticed in recent annotated editions of the pseudepigraphical literature (especially those of R. H. Charles). (See further Talmud, § 5.)

4. Midrashic Exposition.—The Talmud poetically describes Midrash as a hammer which wakes to shining light the sparks which slumber in the rock; and the simile is a happy one when one considers the exegetical implements, the workmen and their workmanship. For the expository or interpretative Midrash was bound up with rules and methods which often appear crude and arbitrary, they are nevertheless those of the age and they helped to build up lasting monuments.[5] It was believed that the Written Word had an infinite fulness; according to the Midr. Bemidbar Rabbak every word of the Law had seventy different aspects, and Philo of Alexandria held that there are no superfluous words in Scripture. Consequently an exaggerated emphasis is often laid upon single words; as, for example, in the school of Rabbi ‘Aqība, where even individual letters were forced to reveal their meaning. Thus, since the Hebrew eth, which marks the accusative, is also the preposition “with,” Deut. x. 20 (“thou shalt fear [eth-] Yahweh thy God”) was interpreted to include the veneration of the doctors of the law along with Yahweh.[6] Many examples of literal interpretation can of course be found, but arbitrary cases of the kind just noticed are due either to an obviously far-fetched interpretation or to the endeavour to find some authoritative support for teaching which it was desired to inculcate. Thus faulty proof rather than faulty inference is illustrated when the word “in-number” (Ex. xii. 4) was used to confirm the Halaka that the man who killed the Passover Lamb must know how many people were about to share it (Jew. Ency. viii. 570)., Often the' biblical text cannot be said to supply more than a hint or a suggestion, and the particular application in Halaka or Haggada must be taken on its merits, and the teaching does not necessarily fall because the exegesis is illegitimate. To take another specimen: the Mekilta on Ex. xx. 25 infers from the unusual form of the word “it,” that the prohibition of iron applies only to it, i.e. the altar, and not to stones used in building the temple. This Halaka is followed by a haggadic explanation of the prohibition: “iron abridges life while the altar prolongs it; iron causes destruction and misery, while the altar produces reconciliation between God and man; and therefore the use of iron cannot be allowed in making the altar.”[7] Such were the sparks that could be hammered out of the rock, and it is instructive to observe similar exegetical methods in the New Testament. Emphasis upon a single word is illustrated by Gal. iii. 16, where the argument rests upon the word “seed” (and not the plural “seeds”) in the proof-text, and the same word in Rabbinical writings is used to support other arguments.[8] By identical kinds of exegesis Lev. xix. 14 (not to put a stumbling block before the blind) is the ground for cautioning a father against striking an adult child, and Deut. xxv. 4 (the law of the muzzled ox) is used to show that God's labourer is worthy of his hire.[9] Again, since through Eve sin entered into the world, woman must be subordinate to man (1 Tim. ii. 11-14), or, she who has thus extinguished “the light of the world” should atone by lighting the festal candles on the sabbath (Talm. Shabb. 5b). By the allegorical method Isa. lxi. is interpreted as applying to Jesus (Luke iv. 16-22), and frequently passages which originally had another application have a Messianic reference in Christian and Rabbinical teaching. Similarly the application of Hos. ii. 23, not to the scattered tribes of Israel, but to the Gentiles, is common to the Mishna and to Romans ix. 25 seq. (Sanday and Headlam, Comment. ad loc.) The Apostle Paul, once a disciple of the famous Rabbi Gamaliel, uses in 1 Cor. x. 4 (“the spiritual rock that followed them”) a familiar Jewish Haggada which, however, he reinterprets, even as, when he identifies the “rock” with Christ, he diverges from the Alexandrian Philo who had identified it with Wisdom or the Word of God. Moreover, not only are passages thus taken out of their context, but they are combined, especially when they contain the same words or phrases, or appear to have the same or similar thoughts or aims. The Talmud, with a reference to Prov. xxxi. 14 (“she bringeth her food from afar”), says “the words of the Torah are poor (or deficient) in one place but rich in another.” Hence in the Mid. Siphrē on Numbers xv. 39, “ye shall not seek after . . . your own eyes” is explained to refer to adultery, after the words of Samson “she is pleasing in my eyes” (Judg. xiv. 3); and on Deut. vi. 5 it charges man to love the Lord “with all thy soul . . . even if he should take away thy soul,” the teaching being based upon Ps. xliv. 22.[10] Similarly, in the New Testament, after the same method, Mal. iii. 1 and Is. xl. 3 (linked by the phrase “to prepare the way”) are combined in Mark i. 2 seq.; Abraham's faith (Gen. xv. 6) and temptation (xxii. 1) are associated in James ii. 21-23, as also in contemporary Jewish thought; and by other combined quotations Paul enunciates the universality of sin (Rom. iii. 10 sqq.) and the doctrine that Christians are God's temple (2 Cor. vi. 16 sqq.). Proceeding upon such lines as these, the Jews wove together their Midrashic homilies or sermons where, though we may find much that seems commonplace, there are illuminating parables and proverbs, metaphors and similes, the whole affording admirable examples of the contemporary thought and culture, both of the writers and—what is often overlooked—the level of their hearers or readers. Like many less ancient discourses, the Midrashim are apt to suffer when read in cold print, and they are sometimes judged from a standpoint which would be prejudicial to the Old Testament itself. But they are to be judged as Oriental literature and if they contain jarring extravagances and puerilities, one may recall that even in modern Palestine it was found that the natives understood Robinson Crusoe as a religious book more readily than the Pilgrim's Progress (J. Robertson, Early Rel. of Israel, 1892, p. 66). In making allowance for the defects (without which they would probably not have appealed to the age) it must be remembered that some of the Rabbis themselves recognized that the Midrashic Haggada was not always estimable.

An interesting example of combined quotation is illustrated in Matt. xii. 4-8, where the teaching of Jesus on the law of the Sabbath rests upon 1 Sam. xxi. 1-6, Num. xxviii. 9 seq. and Hos. vi. 6. Apropos of this law the Rabbinical arguments are worth noticing. Apparently the severe rules laid down in Jubilees l. 8-12 (see R. H. Charles, ad loc.) were exceptional. It was allowed that the Sabbath need not be too rigorously kept, and this was justified by Exod. xxxi. 13, where the singular use of the restrictive particle ak (EV “verily”) supported the teaching that other Sabbaths need not be observed. Also, from the words “holy unto you” (v. 14) it was taught that “the Sabbath is given to you to desecrate in case of need, but thou art not given to the Sabbath.” Hence the Sabbath might be broken when life was in danger. Moreover, it was argued that a battle need not be stopped from religious considerations, e.g. the Sabbath. This was justified by Deut. xx. 20 “until it fall” (Talm. Shabb. 19a). Also, the Passover Lamb could be sacrificed on the Sabbath, and justification for this was found in Num. ix. 2 “in its season” (Pesah. 66a). See further on this subject, and on the evasions of the Sabbath law, S. Shechter, Studies in Judaism, pp. 297 sqq.; ibid. in C. G. Montefiore, Hibbert Lectures (for 1892), Appendix; ibid. Hastings’ Dict. Bib. v. 63, and also S. R. Driver, Hastings' Dict. iv. 320 seq. With the above interpretations, cf. A. H. McNeile on Matt. xii. 5, John vii. 23: “the à priori element in them perhaps suggests that [these verses] were due to later reflexion on the part of Christians who had realized the inadequacy of the law” (Swete's Camb. Bibl. Essays, 1909, p. 226). For other examples illustrating Rabbinical methods of exegesis in the New Testament, see McNeile, pp. 221, sqq. (“Our Lord's use of the Old Testament”); Briggs, op. cit. pp. 436, sqq., and Thackeray, op. cit. (ch. vii. “use of the Old Testament,” ch, viii. “St Paul the Haggadist”). The latter observes (p. 203): “the arguments by which Paul tried to convince his opponents of the true meaning of the Old Testament as pointing forward to Christ, are those which they would themselves have employed for another purpose; and to some extent we need not doubt that they were selected for that very reason. They were the arguments which were best calculated to appeal to them.” Quite in accordance with Rabbinical custom is the system of question and answer (Rom. x. 5, seq., 16 seq.), and the argument in the sequence: statement, objection and reply, appears already in the book of Malachi (q.v.).

5. The Jewish Midrashim.—The earlier stages in the growth of the extant Rabbinical Midrashim cannot be traced with any certainty. Although there are several allusions to early written works, other references manifest an objection to the writing down of Haggada and Halaka. Perhaps it was felt that to preserve uniformity of teaching in the schools it was undesirable to popularize the extant collections, or perhaps the references must be reconsidered in the light of those significant changes after the fall of Jerusalem which have been mentioned above (§ 3).[11] However this may be, the independent Hălākōth (where the oral decisions are interpreted or discussed on the basis of the Old Testament) were gradually collected and arranged according to their subject in the Mishnah and Tōsephtā (Talmud, § 1), while in the halakic Midrashim (where the decisions are given in connection with the biblical passage from which they were derived) they follow the sequence of the text of the Old Testament. The Haggada was likewise collected according to the textual sequence of the Old Testament. But the sermons or discourses of the homiletic Midrashim are classified according to the reading of the Pentateuch in the Synagogue, either the three year cycle, or else according to the sections of the Pentateuch and Prophetical books assigned to special and ordinary Sabbaths and festival days. Hence the latter are sometimes styled Pesiqta (“section”). The homiletic Midrashim are characterized by (a) a proem, an introduction based upon some biblical text (not from the lesson itself), which led up to (b) the exposition of the lesson, the first verse of which is more fully discussed than the rest. They conclude (c) with Messianic or consolatory passages on the future glory of Israel. A feature of some Midrashim (e.g. nos. 4, 5d, e, and 7 below) is the halakic exordium which precedes the proems.[12]

Among the more important Midrashim are: i.—Měkilta (Aram. “measure,” i.e. “rule”) best known as the name of a now imperfect halakic Midrash on Exod. xii.-xxiii. 19 (also xxxi. 12-17 and xxxv. 1-3). It represents the school of R. (Rabbi) Ishmael, is a useful source for old Haggadah (especially on the narrative portions of Exodus), and is interesting for its variant readings of the Canonical Massoretic text.[13] Edited by Blasius Ugolinus, Thes. Antiq. Sacr. xiv. (Venice, 1744, with a poor Latin translation), more recently by J. H. Weiss (Vienna, 1865) and M. Friedmann (ibid. 1870), Germ. trans. by J. Winter and A. Wünsche (Leipzig, 1909). See further J. Z. Lauterbach, Jew. Ency. viii. 444 seq.

ii. Siphrā (Aram. “the book”) or Tōrath Kōhănīm (“the law of the priests”), a commentary on Leviticus, mainly halakic, the text being a source for various maxims. (On Lev. xix. 17 seq., neighbourly love and abstinence from vengeance constitute, according to R. Aqiba, the great principle of the Torah.) It is useful for the interpretation of the Mishnah treatises Qŏdāshīm and Ṭĕhārōth. Latin trans. in Ugolinus, vol. xiv.; recent editions by I. H. Weiss (Vienna, 1862), and with the commentary of Shimshon (Samson) of Siens (Warsaw, 1866); see Jew. Ency. xi. 330 sqq.

iii. Siphré (Aram. “the books”), an old composite collection of Halaka on Numbers, after R. Ishmael's school; and on Deut. after that of R. Aqiqa, although the haggadic portions belong to the former. Latin in Ugol. xv.; recent edition, with good introduction by Friedmann (Vienna, 1864); see Jew. Ency. xi. 332 seq.

The above works, although of 5th century or later date in their present form, contain much older material, which was perhaps first redacted in the earlier part, of the 2nd century, A.D. They are of Palestinian origin, although the main redaction was made in Babyonia.[14]

iv. Tanhrimd, one of the oldest on the lessons of the Pentateuch, with many proems ascribed to R. Tanḥūmā ben (“son of”) Abbā, one of the most famous haggadists of Palestine (4th century), who systematized and fixed the haggadic literature. This collection of 158-161 homilies is also known as T. Yelammedēnū, from the opening words, Yel. Rabbēnū, “our Rabbi teaches us”; on the critical questions connected with the titles and the present redaction (probably 5th century), see Jew. Ency. viii. 560 seq., xii. 44 sqq. Recent edition by Buber (Wilna, 1885).

v. Midrash Rabbah (or Rabboth), a large collection of very diverse origin and date, probably not completed before the 13th century. It covers the Pentateuch (1st ed., Constantinople, 1512) and the “Five Rolls” (Pesaro, 1519; the whole printed first at Venice, 1545); Germ. trans. by A. Wünsche, Bibliotheca rabbinica (Leipzig, 1880-1885). The several portions are named after the ordinary Jewish titles of the Old Testament books with the addition of Rabbah “great.” These are (a) Běrēshith (“in the beginning,” Gen. i. 1) Rabbah, on Genesis, the oldest and most valuable of haggadic Midrashim. Traditionally ascribed to R. Hōshaiah (3rd. century), but in the main a redaction of 6th century. Ed. J. Theodor; see Jew. Ency. iii. 62 seq.; viii. 557 seq. (b) Shēmōth (“names” Exod. i. 1) R., a composite and incomplete work of 11th and 12th century date, but valuable nevertheless for its Tanḥūmā homilies. Exod. i.-xi. is a commenter on the text in continuation of (a).[15] See Jew. Ency. viii. 562. (c) Wayyiqrā (“and he called”) R., on Leviticus, perhaps 7th century, based upon sources in 2 and 5a above. It is characterized by its numerous proverbs (e.g. on xix. 6: “do not care for the good pup of a bad dog, much less for the bad pup of a bad dog”). See Jew. Ency. viii. 560, xii. 478 seq. (d) Bemidbar (“in the desert of . . . ”) R., 33 homilies on Numbers, mainly derived from 4 above (though in an earlier text), with a later haggadic exposition, perhaps of 12th century, on Num. i.-vii. See Jew. Ency. ii. 669 sqq., viii. 562. (e) Dēbārīm (“words”) R., independent homilies on Deuteronomy, of about A.D. 900, but with a good collection of Tanḥūmās and excerpts from the old sources. See Jew. Ency. iv. 487 seq. (f) Shir (“song”) R., or (after the opening words) Aggadath Ḥazith, a late compilation of haggadah on Canticles, illustrating the allegorical interpretation of the book in reference to the relation between God and Israel (so already in the exegesis of R. Aqiba, cf. also 2 Esd. v. 24, 26, vii. 26). For this and other Mid. on this popular book, see Jew. Ency. viii. 564 seq., xi. 291 seq. (g) Mid. Ruth or Ruth Rabbah, a compilation including an exposition of 1 Chron. iv. 21-23, xi. 13-15 and interesting Messianic references. For this and similar Mid. on Ruth, see Jew. Ency. viii. 565, x. 577 seq. (h) Ēkāh (“how”) Rabbathi, a compilation of about the 7th century on Lamentations, from sources cited also in the Palestinian Talmud. Thirty-six proems precede the commentary. See Jew. Ency. v. 85 seq. (i) Mid. Koheleth or Koh. Rabbah, on Ecclesiastes; see Jew. Ency. vii. 529 sqq.; viii. 565, (j) Mid. Megillath Esther, dating, to judge from its indebtedness to Josippon (the pseudo-Josephus), after 10th century. On this and other similar works dealing with this ever-popular book, see Jew. Ency. v. 241, viii. 566, and Paton’s Comment. on Esther, p. 104.

vi. Pesiqtā (“section”) or P. de-Rab Kāhana, contains 33 or 34 homilies (on the principal festivals), the first of which opens with a sentence of R. Abba bar Kahana, who was confused with a predecessor, Rab Kahana. Although it goes back to early Haggada it has received later additions (as is shown by the technique of the proems). Edited by S. Buber (Lyck, 1868), Germ. trans. by A. Wünsche (Leipzig, 1885); see Jew. Ency. viii. 559 seq. Not to be confused with this is:—

vii. Pesiqṭā Rabbdthi.—A very similar but larger collection of 51 homilies, of which 28 have a halakic exordium prefixed to the Tanḥūmā-proems, perhaps of 9th century. Edited by M. Friedmann (Vienna, 1880). Quite another and later work is the Pēs. Zūtarta or Leqaḥ Tōb of Tobiah b. Eliezer of Mainz (trans. Ugolinus, vol. xv. seq.; ed. Buber, 1880); see Jew. Ency. viii. 561 sqq.

viii. In addition to the more prominent Midrashim mentioned above there are numerous self-contained works of greater or less interest. Some are connected with Old Testament books; e.g. Aggadath Bereshith, 83 homilies on Genesis, each in three parts connected with a section from the lectionary of the Pentateuch, and one from the Prophets, and a Psalm (ed. Buber, Cracow, 1903; see Jew. Ency. viii. 563); the Mid. Tehillīm on the Psalms (Germ. trans. A. Wünsche, Trier, 1892-1893), &c. Others are historical, e.g. Pirqe or Baraitha de-Rabbi Eliezer, a fanciful narrative of events selected from the Pentateuch, &c.; the eschatology is interesting. Though associated by name with a well-known 1st century Rabbi, it is hardly earlier than the 8th (Latin trans. by Vorstius, Leiden, 1644; see Jew. Ency. viii. 567). Further, the Megillath Ta‘anīth (“roll of fasts”), an old source with a collection of miscellaneous legends, &c.; Megillath Antiokhos, on the martyrdom under Hadrian; Seder‘Olām Rabbah, on biblical history from Adam to the rebellion of Bar Kōkba (Barcocheba); the “Book of Jashar”; the Chronicle of Jeraḥmeel,” &c. Liturgical Midrash is illustrated by the Haggada shel Pesaḥ, part of the ritual recited at the domestic service of the first two Passover evenings. In Mid. Ta‘ame Ḥăsērōth we- Yĕthērōth, Hebrew words written “defectively” or “fully,” and other Massoretic details, arg haggadically treated. Finally Kabbalah (q.v.) is exemplified in Ōthiyyōth de R. Aqība on the alphabet, and M. Tadshe (or Baraitha de-R. Phineḥas b. Yā’īr), on groups of numbers, &c.; of some interest for its relation to the book of Jubilees.

ix. Of collections of Midrash the chief are (a) the Yalqūṭ Shimeoni, which arranges the material according to the text of the Old Testament (extending over the whole of it), preserves much from sources that have since disappeared, and is valuable for the criticism of the text of the Midrashim (recent ed. Wilna, 1898) translation of the Yalqut on Zechariah by E. G. King (Cambridge, 1882; see further Jew. Ency. xii. 585 seq.). (b) Yal. ha-Makiri, perhaps later, covers only certain books, is useful for older sources and their criticism; portions have been edited by Spira (1894, on Isaiah); Buber (1899, on Psalms); Grünhut (1902, on Proverbs). (c) Midrash ha-Gādōl (“the great”), an extensive thesaurus, but later (quoting from Ibn Ezra, Maimonides, &c.); the arrangement is not so careful as in (a) and (b). See further Jew. Ency. viii. 568 seq.

Of modern collections special mention must be made of A. Jellinek’s Bet ha-Midrasch (Leipzig, 1853) and A. Wünsche’s valuable translations; to those already mentioned must be added his Aus Israels Lehrhallen (excerpts of a more miscellaneous character (Leipzig, 1907 sqq.).

Besides dictionary articles on this subject (S. Schiller-Szinessy, Ency. Brit., 9th ed.; H. L. Strack, Real-Ency. f. Protest. Theol. u. Kirche; and especially J. Theodor and others in the Jew. Ency.), see D. Hoffmann, Zur Einleitung in die halachischen Midraschim (Berlin, 1888), and the great work by Zunz, Die gottesdienstlichen Vorträge der Juden, 2nd ed. by N. Brüll (Frankfort on Main, 1892). These, as also the citations in the course of this article, give fuller information. (See further Talmud.)  (S. A. C.) 

  1. For a careful study of the meaning of the term, see W. Bacher, Jew. Quart. Rev. IV. 406-429.
  2. E.g. Judg. i. (see G. F. Moore, Ency. Bib. “Historical Lit.,” col. 2085, middle), 2 Sam. ix.-xx., &c.
  3. On the history of his intermediate stage see E. Schürer, Hist. of Jew. People (Edinburgh, 1886), Germ. Gesch. Jüd. Volkes; M. Friedländer, Relig. Bewegungen innerhalb des Judentums im Zeitalter Jesu (Berlin, 1905); W. Fairweather, Background of the Gospels (Edinburgh 1908). See also Apocalyptic Lit. and Apocryphal Lit.
  4. Note also the allusion to the wisdom of Moses in Acts vii. 22, upon which contemporary writings are pretty well informed.
  5. For the Rabbinical “rules” and examples of their working see F. Weber, Jüd. Theologie (Leipzig, 1897), pp. 109-125; C. A. Briggs, Study of Holy Scripture (Edinburgh, 1899), ch. xviii.; Jew. Ency. xii. 30-33; S. Schechter, Hastings's Dict. Bible, v. 59, 63; and H. L. Strack, Einleitung in den Talmud (Leipzig, 1908), pp. 119-131.
  6. So Aquila, the disciple of ‘Aqiba, translates the accusative particle by σύν; see W. R. Smith, Old Test. in the Jew. Church, p. 63.
  7. Oesterley and Box, Religion and Worship of the Synagogue (London, 1907), p. 80; pp. 44-97 deal with Midrashic and other Jewish literature.
  8. Mish. Sanhed. iv. 5, see A. Geiger, Zeit. f. morgenländ. Gesellschaft, 1858, pp. 307 sqq., S. R. Driver, Expositor, ix. (1889), p. 18 seq.
  9. The Talmud Mō’ed Qatan, 7a, and New Testament (1 Cor. ix. 9, 1 Tim. v. 18) respectively.
  10. Cited by S. Schechter, Hastings, Dict. Bible, v. 64.
  11. See, on this point, Jew. Ency. viii. 549 seq., 552, 576; Schechter, op. cit. p. 62; Strack, op. cit. pp. 10 sqq.
  12. See more fully Jew. Ency. viii. 553. Cf. for the structure, the hopeful concluding notes in the prophecies (e.g. Amos) and the discourse after the reading of the lesson from the prophets in Luke iv. 17 sqq., Acts xiii. 15 sqq.
  13. See I. Abrahams in Swete's Cambridge Bibl. Essays (1909), pp. 174 seq.
  14. They contain (as I. Abrahams has pointed out to the present writer) a good deal of haggada, but far more halakic material than those which follow. The latter (nos. 4 sqq.) also contain halaka, but the chief contents are haggadic and homiletical.
  15. I. Abrahams points out to the writer that the rest is more summary. This difference is accounted for by the fact that Exod. xii. onwards and the rest of the Pentateuch have independent Midrashim: the Law proper was held by the Rabbis to begin at Exod. xii.