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Midrash Rabba in the Islamic domain

(693 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
From the beginning of  Jewish printing in the fifteenth century, Midrash Rabba has been the most popular collection of midrashim on the Pentateuch and Five Scrolls, and the most frequently studied and interpreted midrashic text. However, Midrash Rabba is not a unified work.  Rather, it represents a collection of early and late works, differing from each other in style, structure, and context, that span the period from the fifth to the twelfth century. The discussion in this article focuses on components o…

Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer

(1,233 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
A late semi-midrashic work dating from the eighth and ninth centuries, Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer (Heb. The Chapters of R. Eliezer) is distinguished from the majority of midrashic compilations by its coherent style, structure, and content. It retells the biblical narrative from the story of the creation (Gen. 1) to Miriam’s leprosy (Num. 12), with expansive digressions on related themes (e.g., repentance, marriage, the calendar) or to associatively connected biblical texts (e.g., Jonah, Esther). In contrast to classical midrash, Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer does not offer anthologica…

Midrash Tanḥuma in the Islamic Cultural Milieu

(1,247 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
Midrash Tanḥuma (sometimes also called Yelammedenu) is the name given to a family of homiletical midrashic works on the Pentateuch. Its earliest versions were probably produced in Palestine of the Byzantine period, prior to the Muslim conquest. However, the Midrash continued to evolve after the Muslim conquest and was disseminated in a variety of editions, some of which absorbed features and elements that represent the cultural tendencies, as well as the literary preferences, of the Jews in Islamic lands at the turn of the first millennium. The c…

Midrash and Aggada - activity and reception in the Islamic era

(1,348 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
Aggadic midrash is a Jewish literary form which encompasses Bible-related rabbinic teachings arranged in anthological collections. This literary type was originally created and developed by the tannaitic and amoraic sages of Late Antiquity in Roman and Byzantine Palestine, but it continued to play a cultural role in the Jewish world under Islam. New works were compiled, earlier works were adapted and redacted; midrashic ideas, images, and interpretations were subjected to ongoing adaptation and …

Seder Eliyahu

(472 words)

Author(s): Moshe Lavee
Seder Eliyahu is a semi-midrashic work that differs from the majority of midrashic compilations in style, structure, language, and thematic emphasis. It consists of a series of teachings in homiletic style that incorporate midrashic materials, stories, and parables attributed in some cases to prominent tannaim, and presents itself as the work of a narrator who speaks at times in the first person. Unlike most midrashic works, Seder Eliyahu is not structured as an anthological or collective compil…