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Genesis Rabbah

Content and Structure: – Genesis Rabbah provides simple explanations of words and sentences in Aramaic for youth instruction. – It includes varied aggadic expositions popular […]

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Content and Structure:
– Genesis Rabbah provides simple explanations of words and sentences in Aramaic for youth instruction.
– It includes varied aggadic expositions popular in public lectures of synagogues and schools.
– The editor strings together explanations and interpretations of passages, sometimes citing authors.
– The midrash contains rich material on the creation of the world and man, with references to contemporary philosophical thought.
– Genesis Rabbah views Bible personages and conditions in the context of contemporary history.
– Genesis Rabbah serves as a complete commentary on Genesis, showcasing various points of midrashic exegesis.
– The midrash is divided into sections with prefatory remarks at the beginning of each chapter.
– Each chapter is headed by the first verse of the passage to be explained.
– About 230 passages are included, with 70 cited with the originating Rabbi’s name.
– The midrash distinguishes itself from tannaitic midrashim by its structure and organization.
– Prefatory passages begin with the text’s verse, often without formal introduction.
– The structure of prefatory passages varies, containing explanations that relate to the Genesis verse to be expounded.
– Introductions are often lengthy, combining different expositions of the same Biblical verse.
– Sections of Genesis Rabbah lack formal endings but transition smoothly to the next passage.
– Sections in Genesis Rabbah are consecutively numbered in manuscripts and editions.
– The total number of sections varies between 97 to 101, with most manuscripts and editions counting 96 chapters.
– The division principle follows the fixed Biblical text at the time of the midrash compilation.
– Some sections relate to Torah portions of the Palestinian triennial cycle.

Authorship and Origin:
– Most passages are anonymous and may be attributed to the author of Genesis Rabbah.
– The tradition attributes Genesis Rabbah to Rabbi Hoshaiah, suggesting he began the work in tannaitic commentary form.
– The editing process of Genesis Rabbah combined running commentary with finished homilies, incorporating traditions of aggadic exegesis from the period of the Amoraim.
– The name Genesis Rabbah may have come from a larger midrash at the beginning of Genesis.
– It could have been used to distinguish this midrash from an older one ascribed to Rabbi Hoshayah.
– The opinion that the name derives from the first words of Rabbi Hoshayah rabbah is untenable.
– In the best manuscripts, the name Rabbi Hoshayah stands without the addition rabbah.
– The authorial designation may have been lost while the attribute remained in the title.

Content Analysis:
– Genesis Rabbah’s contents raise questions about original material versus later additions.
– The midrash contains a framework for the exposition of Biblical verses.
– Aggadic exegesis allowed for spontaneous additions of comments, stories, and passages.
– Material from Torah portion Vayishlach was probably added early.
– The concluding chapters of Genesis Rabbah seem to be incomplete.

Dating and Editions:
– The exact editing date of Genesis Rabbah is uncertain.
– Editing likely occurred not long after the Jerusalem Talmud (4th to 5th centuries).
– Passages in Genesis Rabbah show marks of later aggadah and connection with Tanhuma homilies.
– Extensive passages from Torah portion Vayishlach were probably added early.
– Print editions include translations by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, as well as the Artscroll Kleinman Edition Midrash Rabbah Genesis.

References and External Links:
– The article incorporates text from Bereshit Rabbah, published in The Jewish Encyclopedia.
– The entry was contributed by Marcus Jastrow and J. Theodor.
– External links include resources for further reading and exploration of Genesis Rabbah.

Genesis Rabbah (Wikipedia)

Genesis Rabbah (Hebrew: בְּרֵאשִׁית רַבָּה‎, B'reshith Rabba) is a religious text from Judaism's classical period, probably written between AD 300 and 500 with some later additions. It is a midrash comprising a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis (B'reshith in Hebrew).

It is expository midrash to the first book of the Torah, assigned by tradition to the amora Hoshaiah (or Osha'yah), who flourished in the third century in Roman Syria Palaestina. The midrash forms an aggadic commentary on Genesis, in keeping with the midrashic exegesis of that age. In a continuous sequence, broken only toward the end, the Biblical text is expounded, verse for verse, often word for word. Only genealogic passages and passages that furnish no material for exposition (as the reiterated account of Abraham's servant in Genesis 24:35–48) are omitted.

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