Torah Portion

Lech Lecha

לך לך

Genesis 12:1-17:27
Isaiah 40:27–41:16

Abraham and Sarah in Egypt: A Story Composed to Prefigure the Exodus

Abraham and Sarah in Egypt: A Story Composed to Prefigure the Exodus

The sister-wife story of Abraham and Sarah in Egypt reworks the sister-wife story of Isaac and Rebekah in Gerar. The passage is an intertextual bricolage, composed to have Abraham, the paradigmatic “first Israelite,” personally experience the nation's core redemptive event.

Prof.
Christoph Levin
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Ishmael, King of the Arabs

Ishmael, King of the Arabs

Throughout the Bible, Ishmaelite is a collective term for eastern nomads. Why, then, does Genesis present their eponymous ancestor Ishmael as dwelling in the west? The answer can be found in the political realities of Persian period Yehud.

Prof.
Yairah Amit
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Ur Kasdim: Where Is Abraham’s Birthplace?

Ur Kasdim: Where Is Abraham’s Birthplace?

Ur-Kasdim is generally identified with the great Sumerian city of Ur in southern Iraq. And yet, a look at the geography in Genesis 11 points to a different location much farther north.

Prof.
Gary Rendsburg
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Allegorizers of Torah and the Story of Their Prosecution in Languedoc (1305)

Allegorizers of Torah and the Story of Their Prosecution in Languedoc (1305)

The attempt of the great Catalonian Sage, Rashba, to limit philosophic study and interpretation of Torah in Languedoc (southern France)[1] and to excommunicate one of its well-known practitioners, Levi ben Avraham ben Hayyim of Villefranche-de-Conflent.

Dr.
Gregg Stern
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The Rabbinic Chronology of Lech Lecha

The Rabbinic Chronology of Lech Lecha

An analysis of the Rabbinic interpretation that the covenant of the pieces predates the Lech Lecha command.

Prof. Rabbi
David R. Blumenthal
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Seven Torah Passages of Non-Mosaic Origin According to Ibn Ezra and R. Joseph Bonfils

Seven Torah Passages of Non-Mosaic Origin According to Ibn Ezra and R. Joseph Bonfils

A Source Sheet listing Ibn Ezra’s Six Non-Mosaic Biblical Passages plus his One Counter-Example, with the Complete Text of Ibn Ezra’s Comments and Bonfils’ Glosses on these comments in English and Hebrew

Project TABS Editors
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Abraham, Smasher of Idols, and the Question of the Torah's Historicity

Abraham, Smasher of Idols, and the Question of the Torah's Historicity

Does the Torah’s Abraham really need the historical Abraham in order to claim an important role in Jewish religious consciousness or should the Torah be seen as the story of God and not as a historical account reported by God.

Dr. Rabbi
Amit Kula
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Circumcision as Purification

Circumcision as Purification

Second Temple period interpreters understood circumcision as an act of purification, but they debated whether it was physical or spiritual.

Dr.
David Bernat
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Circumcision: Is the Foreskin a Defect?

Circumcision: Is the Foreskin a Defect?

Prima facie, circumcision maims a body. Genesis Rabbah, however, argues that it actually perfects the body, and the book of Jubilees says it makes Jewish men like angels.

Dr.
David Bernat
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Joshua Circumcises Israel in Response to Egypt's Scorn

Joshua Circumcises Israel in Response to Egypt's Scorn

Before circumcision was a mitzvah, it was a cultural marker: Thus Joshua introduces circumcision to Israel at Gilgal (Joshua 5:2-9), Jacob’s sons insist that the Shechemites circumcise before Shechem marries their sister (Genesis 34), and the Israelites scorn the Philistines for being uncircumcised (Judges 14:3).

Dr. Rabbi
David Frankel
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How did Abraham Discover God? The Experiential Approach

How did Abraham Discover God? The Experiential Approach

Part 1 concluded by raising some questions about Maimonides’ rationalistic reading of the Parable of the Illuminated Fortress. In Part 2 we will now deal with alternative interpretations based on the idea of an experiential, living relationship with God.

Dr. Rabbi
Seth (Avi) Kadish
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What Caused the War Between the Kings? Philo's Dual Interpretation

What Caused the War Between the Kings? Philo's Dual Interpretation

In his account of Abraham’s life, the first-century thinker Philo of Alexandria skillfully interprets the bewildering details in the story of the war between the four and five kings. Understanding the tale on a literal and allegorical level, he offers intriguing suggestions about what motivates both powerful rulers and forces within the soul.

Dr.
Ellen Birnbaum
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Who Assumed Melchizedek's Priesthood?

Who Assumed Melchizedek's Priesthood?

How such a minor biblical character became so significant in Jewish and Christian interpretation

Prof. Rabbi
Joshua Garroway
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How did Abraham Discover God? The Rationalistic Approach

How did Abraham Discover God? The Rationalistic Approach

A single midrash on Parashat Lekh Lekha manages to touch upon the existence of God and how to relate to Him, on the tension between Torah and science, and on rabbinic criticism of Maimonides’ thirteen principles. 

Dr. Rabbi
Seth (Avi) Kadish
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What Kind of Hero Is Abraham?

What Kind of Hero Is Abraham?

The lack of details surrounding God’s first call to Abram—לך לך, “go forth”—or about Abram’s trip to Canaan contrasts starkly with other biblical figures, highlighting that Abraham is not a typical hero.

Prof.
Everett Fox
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Lech Lecha

לך לך

Genesis 12:1-17:27

וְלֹא־יִקָּרֵא עוֹד אֶת־שִׁמְךָ אַבְרָם וְהָיָה שִׁמְךָ אַבְרָהָם כִּי אַב־הֲמוֹן גּוֹיִם נְתַתִּיךָ׃

בראשית יז:ה

And you shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I make you the father of a multitude of nations.

Gen 17:5

Genesis

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