Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

Frontmatter

pdf iconDownload PDF
 

CONTENTS

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. vii-vii

read more

Foreword

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. ix-x

To most people, the Hebrew Bible is an impenetrable book. It was written during a thousand-year period, and reflected a wide variety of internal and external political and intellectual currents. Even more difficult yet is Jewish interpretation of the Bible, which has been written for over two millennia in an even wider set of political and intellectual currents. To add to the problem,...

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. xi-xiii

When I began teaching a course on Jewish biblical interpretation at Vanderbilt University in 2001, I was met with a series of surprises. The first was the lack of available texts tracing Jewish commentary on biblical narrative and law from the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism, roughly two thousand years ago, until today. Even the small group of texts that did exist (in English) tended not to...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 1-6

BEN BAG BAG is referring to the Torah. This work is a study in how the Rabbis and their descendants turned the Torah. Ben Bag Bag’s image is particularly apt, because there are two ways to turn: spinning on the horizontal axis and overturning on the vertical axis. Spinning the Torah allows you to see different facets or faces of the Jewish crown jewel. “The Torah has 70 faces,”1 say the later Rabbis in using the...

read more

1. No Word Unturned

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 7-39

The study of Jewish biblical commentary combines literary theory, Jewish history, and Jewish thought. It is this confluence of factors, each quite complex in itself, that makes the exploration of Jewish biblical commentary so rich and exciting. This chapter sets out to explain the diversity and development of approaches used by Jews to understand Scripture during the major periods of Jewish history–Rabbinic, medieval, and modern. Since history often influences...

read more

2. The Creation of Humanity

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 40-71

Although there are two creation stories in the Book of Genesis, we begin with the narrative that has pride of place, chapter 1. In these six verses, which focus on the latter part of the sixth day of creation, the Torah treats issues of theology, anthropology, and ecology....

read more

3. The Sons of Adam and Eve

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 72-100

The Torah's verdict on life outside the Garden is mixed. On the one hand, there’s the fratricide. On the other hand, it didn’t have to be that way. And that possibility, resounding with Divine authority, holds out the hope for a better future. Let’s look in on Cain and Abel through the windows of three translations and two millennia of Jewish interpretation....

read more

4. The Hebrew Slave

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 101-131

If a rose by any other name smells just as sweet, is bondage just as bitter? The subject of this chapter is the Hebrew slave. Or is it the Hebrew serf, or, perhaps, the Hebrew servant?1 Our translation of Leviticus uses slave in verse 39 and servant in verse 42. One commentator, Rabbeinu Bahya, points out that the Hebrew term, ‘eved, is ambiguous....

read more

5. Korah and His Gang

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 132-160

In the chapters exploring both the creation of humanity and the laws of the Hebrew slave, there were examples of how the commentators contended with parallel texts in tension with one another. The redactor of the Torah included two stories of creation (Gen 1:1–2:4a and Gen 2:4b-24) and three sets of laws about slaves (Exod. 21:2–6, Lev. 25:39–40, and Deut. 15:12–17) that present contradictory details....

read more

6. The Daughters of Zelophehad

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 161-188

The Torah can be a difficult piece of literature for contemporary feminists. Although the women of Genesis and Exodus are usually portrayed as strong and perceptive, the legal sections of the Torah tend to treat women as the inferior other. Prior to the moment of God’s revelation at Mount Sinai, for example, Moses directs his words of preparation only to the men (Exod. 19:15)....

read more

Epilogue

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 189-191

In chapter two, the angels debated creating humanity. It was two against two .Loving-kindness and Justice were in favor. Peace was opposed, as was Truth who warned that we would be a lying lot. Rather than futilely arguing with Truth, God cast him to the earth, and the tie was broken...

Glossary of Terms

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 192-195

Glossary of Texts and Commentators

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 196-201

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 202-214

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF

pp. 215-231