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Medieval Criticism

Biblical criticism among the Jewish exegetes

Edomite Kings List: Is It Post-Mosaic?

Genesis 36:31 introduces a list of kings who ruled “before a king ruled in Israel,” ostensibly a reference to Saul. Traditional commentators, committed to the Mosaic authorship of the Torah, have long struggled to reinterpret this phrase against its plain meaning, though some accepted its implications.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Moses Strikes the Rock in Exodus and Numbers: One Story or Two?

In Numbers 20, when the Israelites are without water, God tells Moses to get water from a stone, which he does by striking it, and is punished. Yet in Exodus, Moses does the same thing and the story ends positively. What is the relationship between these two accounts? Remarkably, R. Joseph Bekhor Shor says that they are two accounts of the same story.

Prof.

Jonathan Jacobs

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When Moses Placed Ephraim Before Manasseh

R. Judah HeḤasid, in his comment on Jacob’s blessing asserts that the subject of Genesis 48:20b, “he placed Ephraim before Manasseh,” and 48:22, “I have given you [=Joseph] an extra portion…,” is not Jacob but Moses, referring to when Moses put Ephraim before Manasseh in the tribal listings in Num 2:18-21. This further leads him to conclude that Moses could not be the author of v. 20b.[1]

Prof.

Baruch J. Schwartz

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The Challenges of Ancient Near Eastern Antecedents to the Torah

Thoughts on Torah Min HaShamayim

Dr. Rabbi

Michael Harris

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The Significance of Ibn Ezra's Position that Verses Were Added to the Torah

“And this is the Torah that Moses Placed Before the Children of Israel”

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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The Song of the Well, Psalm 136, Was Removed from the Torah

Numbers 21:16–18 speaks about the Song of the Well, but only records a short snippet. Whereas most commentators assume that the song was simply very short, R. Yehudah HeChasid offers the radical suggestion that the song was actually cut from the Torah and placed in the book of Psalms by none other than King David.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Did an Aramean Try to Destroy our Father?

A medieval non-traditional interpretation of arami oved avi and the push-back against it. 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Editorial Comments in the Opening Chapters of Deuteronomy

And Ibn Ezra's Secret

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Is Modern Critical Study a Jewish Way of Studying Torah?

The works of medieval exegetes such as Maimonides, Rashbam and Ibn Ezra demonstrate that Judaism has a long-standing tradition of studying the Torah critically.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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