Study the Torah with Academic Scholarship

By using this site you agree to our Terms of Use

Abraham

Reconciling Hagar and Sarah: Feminist Midrash and National Conflict

In Jewish and Muslim interpretation, Hagar and Sarah represent the matriarchs of Abraham’s blessed heirs, the Arabs and the Jews. In classical sources, the break between the two women is never mended, but feminist readers of the Bible, Jewish and Muslim, have used midrash-style poetry to rewrite the ending of their story. Part of this endeavor is the hope of rewriting the contemporary conflict and reconciling between their putative descendants.

Noam Zion

,

,

“Take Your Only Son Isaac” – What Happened to Ishmael?

In the introductory verses of the Akedah (Binding of Isaac), God refers to Isaac as Abraham’s only son, ignoring the existence of Ishmael. Ishmael’s absence has bothered even the earliest readers of the text, but a documentary approach obviates the problem. The key is understanding the relationship between Abraham and Hagar.

Dr.

Philip Yoo

,

Grace Leake

,

Abraham and Lot’s Bedouin-Style Hospitality

Bedouin culture goes back 4,500 years. Owing to the unchangeability of desert conditions, this culture remained largely unchanged and is recognizable in the Bible. The stories of Abraham and Lot hosting angels illustrate one of the most renowned and cherished social values in Bedouin society, namely the practice of hospitality.

Dr.

Clinton Bailey

,

,

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

,

,

Abraham Passes the Test of the Akedah But Fails as a Father

The story of the Akedah appears to present Abraham’s actions in a uniformly positive light. However, Isaac’s absence at the end of the story, and Sarah’s death immediately afterwards, suggested to some traditional and modern commentators a criticism of Abraham.

Prof.

Aaron Koller

,

,

Rachel Weeps in Ramah: Of All the Patriarchs, God Listens Only to Her

Rachel weeps over her exiled descendants and God hears her plea (Jer 31:14–16). Expanding on this passage, the rabbis in Midrash Eichah Rabbah envision Jeremiah awakening the patriarchs and Moses to plead with God to have mercy on Israel. Upon their failure to move God, the matriarch Rachel intervenes successfully.

Prof.

Hagith Sivan

,

,

Why the Sages Add Titles to Biblical Personalities

Dr.

Malka Zeiger Simkovich

,

,

The Maimonidean Akedah

Dr.

Chaim Trachtman

,

,

The Portrayal of Abraham in The Testament of Abraham

Dr.

Malka Zeiger Simkovich

,

,

Our Stepmother: Keturah

Project TABS Editors

,

,

The Sacrifice of Isaac in Context

Recovering a Lost Ending of the Akedah

Dr.

Tzemah Yoreh

,

,

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

,

,

Akedah: How Jews and Christians Explained Abraham's Faith

God promised Abraham that Isaac would be his heir, yet God asked Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. What did Abraham believe that allowed him to reconcile this divine contradiction?

Dr.

Devorah Schoenfeld

,

,

Why the Midrash Has Abraham Thrown into Nimrod's Furnace

The historical association of Abraham and Nimrod with Zoroaster, the founder of Zoroastrianism

Dr.

Yishai Kiel

,

,

Circumcision: Interpreting the Foreskin as a Defect

Genesis 17 states that circumcision will be a sign of the covenant, but is silent about the significance of the act itself. Some Jewish interpreters filled this gap by constructing orlah, possession of a foreskin, as a physical defect or disability, and circumcision as an act of healing or perfection. 

Dr.

David Bernat

,

,

Aging Gracefully

Dr.

Erica Brown

,

,

Conclusion: Fathers and Fables

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

,

,

Abraham's Premature Obituary

Project TABS Editors

,

,

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

,

,

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

,

,

Akeda and Rosh Hashanah: Invoking the Original Oath God Was Forced to Make

Prof. Rabbi

David R. Blumenthal

,

,

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

,

,

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

,

,

Testing Abraham: Justice in Sodom Before Loyalty in the Akedah

Prof. Rabbi

Reuven Kimelman

,

,

Abraham as the Great (Un)Circumciser

A Surprising Midrashic Portrait of Abraham

Dr.

Malka Zeiger Simkovich

,

,

Mitigating the Akedah

Rabbinic Exegetes’ Attempts to Explain the Context, Meaning, and Value of the Akedah

Prof.

Isaac Kalimi

,

,

Heretics, Mystics and Abraham's Mother

Rabbi

David D. Steinberg

,

,

A Parasha Pregnant with the Past, Present, and Future of Israel's Protagonists

Three distinct themes in Parashat Vayetzei are intertwined: Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel, the birth of Jacob’s sons, and Jacob’s departure from Haran. 

Prof.

Zvi Ben-Dor Benite

,

,

The Expulsion of Ishmael: Who Is Being Tried?

The literary similarities between the expulsion of Ishmael account and that of the Akedah implies that a trial is taking place.

Dr.

Rachel Adelman

,

,