Bereshith Rabbah (The Great Genesis) is a midrash comprising a collection of rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis. It contains many. Books & Judaica: Parperaot LaTora El Midrash Bereshit (H) Menajem Becker [W] – The core of Jewish thought and it cosmovision finds its. I. The Earliest Exegetical Midrashim—Bereshit Rabbah and Ekah Rabbati. (For Midrash Shemu’el, Midrash Mishle, Midrash Tehillim see the several articles.).

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Genesis Rabbah – Wikipedia

The character of the exposition in the exegetic midrashim like Bereshit Rabbah has been discussed in Jew. Genesis Rabba contains many simple explanations of words and sentences, often in the Aramaic languagesuitable for the instruction of youth.

Abba, severely censures the reducing of haggadot to writing and the use of written haggadot, for it was in general considered that the prohibition against writing down the “words of the oral law” referred not only to halakot, but also to haggadot; for the latter in particular might be the expression of private opinions and interpretations which, not being under control of the schools, were likely to lead micrash abuses. It is of the utmost importance, in considering the several midrash works, to emphasize the fundamental difference in plan between the midrashim forming a running commentary to the Scripture text and the homiletic midrashim.

Johanan quotes the verse [Ps.

The disproportion between the proems and the interpretations has not yet been satisfactorily explained, in spite of various attempts to do so. The homilies generally close with verses from the Bible prophesying Israel’s auspicious future. There must also have been collections of legends and stories, for it is hardly conceivable that the mass of haggadic works should have been preserved for centuries by word of mouth only.

References to contemporaneous conditions and historical events also occur. Levi, that they read a Haggadah-book on the Sabbath. Huna the Elder of Sepphoris said, “While the angels were disputing and discussing with one another, the Holy One, praised be He, created him.

There are other scattered allusions to haggadic works in Talmudic-midrashic literature. Berechiah said, “When the Holy One, praised be He, was about to create the first man, He foresaw that both the pious and the wicked would descend from him.

There are separate sections in the midrash for almost all these sections as they are still found in Genesis, with the exception of the genealogical passages. The work is written in pure Hebrew, the diction of many passages is notably beautiful, and the style is fluent though frequently verbose; it is not always easy to follow the train of thought and to find the real connection between the several passages. In some, only the introductory text is given, its application to the verse of Genesis to be expounded being self-evident or being left to a later working out.


It is furthermore evident that different manuscripts of the same midrash, etc. One may, as Bacher says, “speak in a certain sense of the completion of the haggadic Midrash as one speaks of the completion of the Talmud, although the works belonging to this class continued to be produced for five centuries or more after that time. The words of Zunz, the master of midrash study, in his chapter “Organismus der Hagada,” may serve to close the first, general part of the beeeshit survey: What did the Holy One, praised midrahs He?

Most of these passages are anonymous and may perhaps be ascribed in part to the author of Genesis Rabba. This page was last edited on 10 Februaryat Shimeon” or that the author was a native of Frankfort-on-the-Main. Perhaps the editor made use also of different collections on the several parts of Genesis.

This is the common form of the homilies in beresnit the homiletic midrashim; it allows, however, of the utmost freedom of treatment and execution in its various parts. The purely haggadic-exegetic midrashim were edited at a much later time, after the completion of the Talmud.


Hence the words “Rabbah” and “Rabbati” are added to two only of the midrashim, each of the three others being called merely “Midrash. The opening words of this quotation are a paraphrase of a famous sentence in which the Haggadah was praised by the old haggadists themselves. The proems are either simple, consisting of a simple exposition of the proem-text, often amplified by quotations, parables, etc. The composite introductions consist of different expositions of the same Biblical verse, by different haggadists, strung together in various ways, but always arranged so that the last exposition — the last link of the introduction — leads to the exposition of the passage of Genesis, with the first verse of which the introductions often close.

Much material from the various early midrashic collections, which gradually increased in numbers, was doubtless incorporated in the exegetic midrashim which have been preserved; and the latter clearly indicate the nature of the early exegesis, the “manner of discourse of antiquity”; but only the above-mentioned tannaitic midrashim—the Mekilta, Sifre, and Sifra, containing Haggadah mixed with Halakah—date in their earliest component parts from the second century, having been definitively edited in the post-tannaitic time.

The sequence of the midrashim with the names given to them in the paginal superscriptions of the Venice edition as in the editio princeps is as follows: The interpretations which follow the proems and the halakic exordium in the halakic midrashim are confined, as mentioned above, to some of the first verses of the lesson.


The haggadic Midrash, which confined itself originally to the exposition of Scripture text, was developed in its period of florescence into finished discourses. And God said, Let us make manetc. The nature of the homilies has been sketched above; they begin with several proems, to which is added the exposition, which generally covers only a few of the first verses and verse-texts of the lesson in question, ending with a Messianic or middrash comforting verse.

They regarded such collections as demanded by the times, and paraphrasing Psalm cxix.

It is expository midrash to the first book of the Torahassigned by tradition to the amora Hoshaiah or Osha’yahwho flourished in the third century in Christian Palestine. Or, finally, the mass of haggadic matter was collected and edited in the exegetic midrashim proper—the midrashim par excellence, which formed either running haggadic commentaries to the single books of the Bible, or homiletic midrashim, consisting of discourses actually delivered on the Sabbath beresshit festival lessons or of revisions of such discourses.

But even then the text was probably not finally closed, for longer or shorter passages could always be added, le number of prefatory passages to a section be increased, and those existing be enlarged by accretion. The word “haggadah” Aramaic, “agada” means primarily the recitation or teaching of Scripture; in a narrower sense it denotes the exegetic amplification of a Biblical passage and the development of a new thought based midraeh.

Genesis Rabbah

Levi himself says that he once looked into a haggadic work “sifra di-Agadta”and he quotes numerical interpretations therefrom Yer. Exegetic material for use in the proems, especially the composite ones, which are often very extensive, was always at hand in abundance; and the art of the haggadist appeared in the use he made of this material, in the interesting combination, grouping, and connection of the several sentences and interpretations into a uniform structure so developed that the last member formed the fitting introduction to the exposition of the lesson proper.

The opinion that the name of the midrash finds its explanation in the first words, “Rabbi Hosha’yah rabbah began.