Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba


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Tales of Durga Mythology, 1. A Commentary on Horace: Odes. A Commentary on Hegel's Logic. A Commentary on Isocrates' Busiris. A commentary on Plato's Timaeus,. A Commentary on Plato's Meno. Excerpt of a Commentary on Revelation. Rabbi Phinehas commented in Rabbi Hoshaya's name that God told Abraham to go forth and tread out a path for his children, for everything written in connection with Abraham is written in connection with his children: [].

Similarly, Rabbi Joshua of Sikhnin taught that God gave Abraham a sign: Everything that happened to him would also happen to his children: []. Rav deduced from Genesis that Abram had not even looked at his own wife before that point. Reading the words, "And it came to pass, that, when Abram came into Egypt," in Genesis , a Midrash asked why the text at that point mentioned Abraham but not Sarai.

The Midrash taught that Abram had put Sarai in a box and locked her in. The Midrash told that when Abram came to the Egyptian customs house, the customs officer demanded that Abram pay the custom duty on the box and its contents, and Abram agreed to pay. The customs officer proposed that Abram must have been carrying garments in the box, and Abram agreed to pay the duty for garments. The customs officer then proposed that Abram must have been carrying silks in the box, and Abram agreed to pay the duty for silks. The customs officer then proposed that Abram must have been carrying precious stones in the box, and Abram agreed to pay the duty for precious stones.

But then the customs officer insisted that Abram open the box so that the customs officers could see what it contained. As soon as Abram opened the box, Sarai's beauty illuminated the land of Egypt. Rabbi Azariah and Rabbi Jonathan in Rabbi Isaac's name taught that Eve's image was transmitted to the reigning beauties of each generation setting the standard of beauty.

Reading the words, "And the princes of Pharaoh saw her, and praised her to Pharaoh," in Genesis , Rabbi Johanan told that they tried to outbid each other for the right to enter Pharaoh's palace with Sarai. One prince said that he would give a hundred dinars for the right to enter the palace with Sarai, whereupon another bid two hundred dinars. Rabbi Helbo deduced from Genesis that a man must always observe the honor due to his wife, because blessings rest on a man's home only on account of her.

Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of "Bereshit Rabba"

Rabbi Samuel bar Nahmani said in the name of Rabbi Johanan that leprosy resulted from seven things: slander, bloodshed, vain oath, incest, arrogance, robbery, and envy. The Gemara cited God's striking Pharaoh with plagues in Genesis to show that incest had led to leprosy. A Baraita deduced from the words, "like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt," in Genesis that among all the nations, there was none more fertile than Egypt.

And the Baraita taught that there was no more fertile spot in Egypt than Zoan, where kings lived, for Isaiah says of Pharaoh , "his princes are at Zoan. But rocky Hebron was still seven times as fertile as lush Zoan, as the Baraita interpreted the words "and Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt " in Numbers to mean that Hebron was seven times as fertile as Zoan. The Baraita rejected the plain meaning of "built," reasoning that Ham would not build a house for his younger son Canaan in whose land was Hebron before he built one for his elder son Mizraim in whose land was Zoan, and Genesis lists presumably in order of birth "the sons of Ham: Cush , and Mizraim, and Put , and Canaan.

Rabbi Issi taught that there was no city in the plain better than Sodom, for Lot had searched through all the cities of the plain and found none like Sodom. Thus the people of Sodom were the best of all, yet as Genesis reports, "the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners. The Mishnah deduced from Genesis that the men of Sodom would have no place in the world to come. And the Gemara also cited the instances of Genesis followed by Genesis ; Genesis followed by Genesis ; Joshua followed by the rest of Joshua ; Joshua followed by Joshua ; 1 Samuel followed by 1 Samuel ; 1 Samuel followed by 1 Samuel ; 1 Samuel close after 1 Samuel ; 2 Samuel followed by 1 Kings ; Ruth followed by the rest of Ruth ; and Esther followed by Haman.


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But the Gemara also cited as counterexamples the words, "And there was evening and there was morning one day," in Genesis , as well as Genesis , and 1 Kings So Rav Ashi replied that wa-yehi sometimes presages misfortune, and sometimes it does not, but the expression "and it came to pass in the days of" always presages misfortune.

Rav and Samuel equated the Amraphel of Genesis with the Nimrod whom Genesis describes as "a mighty warrior on the earth," but the two differed over which was his real name.

One held that his name was actually Nimrod, and Genesis calls him Amraphel because he ordered Abram to be cast into a burning furnace and thus the name Amraphel reflects the words for "he said" amar and "he cast" hipil. But the other held that his name was actually Amraphel, and Genesis calls him Nimrod because he led the world in rebellion against God and thus the name Nimrod reflects the word for "he led in rebellion" himrid.

Rabbi Berekiah and Rabbi Helbo taught in the name of Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman that the Valley of Siddim mentioned in Genesis in connection with the battle between the four kings and the five kings was called the Valley of Shaveh which means "as one" because there all the peoples of the world agreed as one, felled cedars, erected a large dais for Abraham, set him on top, and praised him, saying in the words of Genesis , "Hear us, my lord: You are a prince of God among us.

But Abraham replied that the world did not lack its King, and the world did not lack its God. A Midrash taught that there was not a mighty man in the world more difficult to overcome than Og , as Deuteronomy says, "only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the Rephaim. The Midrash taught that Og was the refuse among the Rephaim, like a hard olive that escapes being mashed in the olive press.

The Midrash inferred this from Genesis , which reports that "there came one who had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew," and the Midrash identified the man who had escaped as Og, as Deuteronomy describes him as a remnant, saying, "only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the Rephaim. God rewarded Og for delivering the message by allowing him to live all the years from Abraham to Moses , but God collected Og's debt to God for his evil intention toward Abraham by causing Og to fall by the hand of Abraham's descendants. On coming to make war with Og, Moses was afraid, thinking that he was only years old, while Og was more than years old, and if Og had not possessed some merit, he would not have lived all those years.

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So God told Moses in the words of Numbers , "fear him not; for I have delivered him into your hand," implying that Moses should slay Og with his own hand. Rabbi Abbahu said in Rabbi Eleazar's name that "his trained men" in Genesis meant Torah scholars, and thus when Abram made them fight to rescue Lot, he brought punishment on himself and his children, who were consequently enslaved in Egyptian for years.

But Samuel said that Abram was punished because he questioned whether God would keep God's promise, when in Genesis Abram asked God "how shall I know that I shall inherit it? Rav interpreted the words "And he armed his trained servants, born in his own house" in Genesis to mean that Abram equipped them by teaching them the Torah. Samuel read the word vayarek "he armed" to mean "bright," and thus interpreted the words "And he armed his trained servants" in Genesis to mean that Abram made them bright with gold, that is, rewarded them for accompanying him.

The Gemara reported that others employing gematria said that Eliezer alone accompanied Abram to rescue Lot, as the Hebrew letters in Eliezer's name have a numerical value of Midrash identified the Melchizedek of Genesis with Noah's son Shem. And straightaway, God gave the priesthood to Abram, as Psalm says, "The Lord God said to my Lord Abram , Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool," which is followed in Psalm by, "The Lord has sworn, and will not repent, 'You Abram are a priest for ever, after the order dibrati of Melchizedek,'" meaning, "because of the word dibbur of Melchizedek.

Rabbi Isaac the Babylonian said that Melchizedek was born circumcised. The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer taught that God was revealed to all the prophets in a vision, but to Abraham God was revealed in a revelation and a vision.

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The Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer told that when Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees , all the magnates of the kingdom gave him gifts, and Nimrod gave Abraham Nimrod's first-born son Eliezer as a perpetual slave. After Eliezer had dealt kindly with Isaac by securing Rebekah to be Isaac's wife, he set Eliezer free, and God gave Eliezer his reward in this world by raising him up to become a king — Og, king of Bashan. The Gemara expounded on the words, "And He brought him outside," in Genesis The Gemara taught that Abram had told God that Abram had employed astrology to see his destiny and had seen that he was not fated to have children.

God replied that Abram should go "outside" of his astrological thinking, for the stars do not determine Israel's fate. The Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael taught that Abraham inherited both this world and the World to Come as a reward for his faith, as Genesis says, "And he believed in the Lord.

Resh Lakish taught that Providence punishes bodily those who unjustifiably suspect the innocent. In Exodus , Moses said that the Israelites "will not believe me," but God knew that the Israelites would believe. God thus told Moses that the Israelites were believers and descendants of believers, while Moses would ultimately disbelieve. The Gemara explained that Exodus reports that "the people believed" and Genesis reports that the Israelites' ancestor Abram "believed in the Lord," while Numbers reports that Moses "did not believe.


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  3. Noach (parsha).
  4. Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of "Bereshit Rabba"?
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  6. Abraham asked God if Abraham's descendants should sin before God, would God do to them as God did to the generation of the Flood in Genesis 6—8 and the generation of the Dispersion in Genesis in Genesis —9.

    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba
    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba
    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba
    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba
    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba
    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba
    Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba Polemics and mythology: A commentary on chapters 1 and 8 of Bereshit Rabba

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