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Full text of "Tales and maxims from the Midrash"

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TALES AND MAXIMS FROM 
THE MIDRASH 



TALES AND MAXIMS 

FROM 

THE MIDRASH 



By 
RE\'. SAMUEL RAPAPORT 

Late Rabbi of Port Elizabeth and Eastern District 

of Cape Colony 

Author of ' Words of the Sages and thfir Enigmas,' ' Stories 
and Sayings from the Talmud ' 




LONDON 

GEORGE ROUTLEDGE & SONS LLMITED 

New York: E. P. DUTION & CO 

1907 






S)eMcate& 

TO MT Son Isidore Rapaport 



8,'JG«;;)5 



Contents 











paob 


Introduction 






1-7 


Alexander of Macedon 






. 


8-2 1 


Demons. .... 








22-27 


AsHMEDAi (King of Demons) 








28-41 


Messiah ..... 








42-56 


Gen. Rabba .... 








57-87 


ExoD. Rabba 








. 88-III 


Levit. Rabba 








:i2-i28 


Numb. Rabba 








. 129-146 


Deut. Rabba 








• 147-159 


MiDRASH Ruth 








. 1 60- 1 66 


MiDRASH Song of Songs 








• 167-175 


MiDRASH ECCLESIASTES 








. 176-186 


MiDRASH Lamentations . 








. 187-193 


MiDRASH Esther . 








• 194-197 


MiDRASH Psalms . 








. 198-21 1 


MiDRASH Proverbs 








. 212-214 


MiDRASH Samuel . 








215-218 


MiDRASH Tanchumah (or Yelamdinu) 






219-253 


Index ..... 








. 254-264 



vii 



THE MIDRASH 

INTRODUCTION 

Jl'st as the Written Law given by Moses emanates 
from God, whilst He Himself only proclaimed the first 
two commandments of the Decalogue, owing to the 
Israelites being too terrified to hear God's voice (Deut. 
20. 19), and the whole of the Torah was then conveyed 
to Israel by Moses, so he likewise received the Oral law, 
which he was not allowed to commit to writing. This 
Oral law had to be taught by word of mouth side by 
side with the Written law, and thus the former became 
an unfolding and sequel to the latter. 

This, says the Midrash,^ is meant by the words : ' Only 
take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently lest 
thou forget the words — DHQl meaning " words " as well 
as" things" — which thine eyes have seen, and lest they 
depart from thy heart all the days of thy life ' (Deut. 
4. 9). ' The words which thine eyes have seen ' means 
the Written words which can be seen, and ' lest they 
depart from thy heart ' refers to the Oral law, words 
conunitted to memory, laid up in the heart. 

From time immemorial, during the time of the pro- 
phets and even earlier, the Israelites had established 
schools or assemblies for the teaching of the Torah. 
To the places of worship schools were invariably 
attached in which religion was taught, the Torah was 
read and exegetically expounded. Whenever a portion 
of Holy Writ was read a i:;il (Drash) — a searching 

' Exod. Rabba, 46. 1-6 and 12. 



2 THE MIDRASH 

inquiry — into the meaning of every sentence was made, 
with explanations drawn therefrom, based on the Oral 
law. Not only was this the case on Sabbaths and 
Festivals, but on week-days too, especially so on Mon- 
days and Thursdays, when a small portion of the Torah 
was read, an institution ascribed to Ezra.^ Later on 
— probably in the time of the Maccabees — the reading 
of the prophets was also introduced. 

The dissertations and expositions which were held 
were known as tt^"n;D (Midrash), and this term was 
originally applied to both the HDbn (Halacha) and the 
TM^i^ (Agada). 

The sermons, dissertations and expositions of what- 
ever nature — whether exegetical, homiletical or ethical 
— were always given by word of mouth, but were after 
delivery reduced to writing. A knowledge of the Scrip- 
tures on the part of the audience was assumed, as the 
study of the Law was looked upon as one of the highest 
religious duties. There was great anxiety on the part 
of these teachers that nothing should be added to the 
Written law, which is known to us as the ^lli^'i DHIi^^ 
— the Canon of the twenty-four books. 

There is this line of demarcation between nD"?;! 
(Halacha) and n"T^i< (Agada), which in course of time 
were separated from one another, though the former 
contains now and then a little of the latter, and vice 
versa.2 Halacha, derived from "^^n (to go, walk), is a 
term denoting laws regulating man's walk in life — the 
performance of his religious duties. The Aramaic trans- 
lation of Onkeles (Exod. 21. 9) gives il^bn as an equiva- 
lent of tODIi^Q. Halacha, when decided by a majority 
of the school, became incontrovertible, law that could not 
be gainsaid ; and any one, no matter how great his 
reputation for piety and learning, who might attempt 

^ Baba Kamma, 82. 

' In the Mechiita, Sifra and Sifre, Halacha and Agada go 
together. 



INTRODUCTION 3 

to impugn it, would be excommunicated. Thus we find 
such hghts amongst the Rabbis as Eleazer B. Hanoch, 
who, having questioned the Halacha on ' Purity,' was 
put under the ban, in which he remained all his life, 
and a stone was thrown on his coffin, since he had died 
under sentence. Akabyah b. Mahalalel was similarly 
excommunicated for refusing to accept the decision of 
the majority on four questions, and Rabbi Eliazar b. 
Horkynas, too, was put under the ban for dechning to 
recognize the decision of the majority on some points. 
The names of the respective authorities in the Halacha 
were always retained. 

The Agada, on the other hand, is a free interpreta- 
tion of the Scriptures. As its name implies : ' It was 
said.' Its assertions were not incontrovertible or not 
to be gainsaid. There was, on the one hand, strong 
opposition to the Agada ; but, on the other hand, it 
was very highly esteemed by most, and not every one 
was considered quahfied to handle it. Even Rabbi 
Akiba received a mild rebuke when he tried to dive 
into the depths of this method of teaching.^ There 
grew up in the course of time a saying: ' If you desire 
to find the greatness of the Creator, study the Agada.' 
The names of the Agadic teachers were not always 
mentioned, yet certain rabbis were known to have 
possessed an enviable capacity for this branch of re- 
ligious instniction, such as Rabbis Abahu, Ishmael, 
Eliazar b. Azaryah, Eliazar b. R. Jose the Galilean, and 
others, and they were known as the Rabbis of the 
Agada. 

The Agada, of which the various Midrashim contain 
collections, and which some of the Apocrypha have for 
their source, was written in the time of the Tanaim, 
and consequently before the Halacha, which was only 
taken in hand by the school of Rav Ash6. 

Whilst the Agada seeks but free scope in its own 

* Sanhedrin \{. 



4 THE MIDRASH 

teachings and in its own interpretation of Scripture, 
and does not intend to invade the domain of Halacha, 
it yet occasionally touches some legal points. It is the 
oldest exegesis of the Scriptures, and contains in its 
elevating teachings, sermons, prayers, homilies, histori- 
cal records, exhortations, admonitions and consolations, 
conveyed frequently in allegories, legends, parables and 
similes. 

From the time of Ezra there were many institutions 
for the diffusion of this kind of teaching by the Scribes 
and priests. It formed the vital element in the nation's 
morality. When the Scribes took the place of the 
prophets, their interpretation and exposition of the 
Scriptures also took the place of prophetic utterances. 
In prosperity the people's favourite was the Halacha,^ 
but in adversity they preferred attending Agadic ex- 
positions, containing as they did — among much else — 
words of comfort and consolation, instilling faith in 
God and hope in His help and protection. 

Rabbi Abahu and Rabbi Chanina b. Abbe were hold- 
ing discourses at the same time ; the former preaching 
on Agada and the latter on Halacha. Rabbi Chanina's 
audience, hearing of Rabbi Abahu's Agadic discourse, 
rudely left him, and went to hear the latter. This 
gentle sage, distinguished for his meekness and piety, 
felt aggrieved at the slight shown to his colleague, of 
which he was the innocent and unwilling cause. He 
went to see Rabbi Chanina and tried to assuage the 
grief caused him. ' It is hardly to be wondered at,' he 
said, ' that the people come to hear me instead of 
craving for your words. For do we not find this folly 
in almost every walk of life ? Let a man offer cheap 
and flimsy finery for sale, and he will find far more 
buyers than he who offers choice pearls and precious 
stones.' ^ The Rabbis knew well how to make their 

^ Midrash Song of Songs j^. 
* Sota 40. 



INTRODUCTION 5 

Agadic discourses as attractive as possible, and to 
awaken their audience from their lethargic condition 
when occasion arose. One device was to use words of 
foreign languages, Latin, Greek, Persian, etc., in order 
to provoke questions and further interest, and so well 
was the Agada known for its foreign words, that if one 
found in the Mishna a word of doubtful meaning, 
recourse was had to the written Agada for its elucidation. 

Rabbi Akiba, once finding his audience drowsy and 
inattentive, used the following device : ' What,' he 
asked, ' induced Esther to reign over 127 provinces ? ' 
The question at once roused the attention of the whole 
assembly, who expected some subtle arithmetical solu- 
tion, with which the Rabbi had no intention of edifying 
them. But finding his device successful and attention 
awakened, he answered the question by saying that 
' it was proper for the descendant of Sarah, who lived 
127 years, to reign over 127 provinces.' ^ 

Rabbi Judah Hanasi, too, had recourse to enigmatical 
sayings : ' I know of a woman,' he said, ' who bore 
600,000 children at one time.' This was enough to 
excite the curiosity of his congregation, who were 
depressed and in a dejected spirit owing to the havoc 
wrought by the ruthless Hadrian. Seeing that the 
assembly was quite puzzled at such a wonderful event. 
Rabbi Ishmacl b. Jose explained that that woman was 
no other than Jochabad, the mother of Moses, who was 
not only a host in himself, but also delivered 600,000 
men from slavery .^ 

Some of the Rabbis wrote down their notes on Holy 
Writ as they occurred to them. Rabbi Meir, who was 
a skilful Scribe and wrote a scroll of the Pentateuch for 
his own use, is said to have written on the margin 
thereof short notes for his discourses. A great many 
Agadic and other teachings were developed in the 

' Gen. Rabba 58. j. ' Midr. Cantls. i. 27. 

' Midrash Eccleii, 4, and Lamentations i. 



b THE MIDRASH 

school of Yabne, or Jamnia, granted by Vespasian to 
Rabbi Jochanon b. Zakkai, the last pupil of Hillel, and 
to his friends as well as to Gamliel's descendants. This 
truly great load-star of the Jewish religion established 
his school there, and the place became a new Jerusalem 
and the new seat of a highly learned assembly.^ Of the 
Midrashic writings of the period between the Hashmo- 
neans and Hadrian, a period of some three hundred 
years, we possess but fragments, although that period 
may be said to have levelled the path from the Canon 
of the Bible to that of tradition. 

What is known as the New Agada had its rise for the 
most part from the first to the fifteenth century. The 
reopening of the schools in Palestine in the year 520 c.e., 
and in Babylon in the year 589, gave rise to Midrash 
Rabba on Genesis, followed by that on Leviticus, then 
Exodus and Deuteronomy, the last of the five books 
being Numbers. Of the Midrashim on the five Megil- 
loth, that on Lamentations was the first, and that on 
Ecclesiastes was the last. 

Midrash Tanchuma, or Yelamdenu, was most probably 
written in the last century of the Gaonim in Italy, about 
the ninth century c.e. These Gaonim were in constant 
communication with Palestine. Tanchuma was fol- 
lowed by Midrash 2110 ITIW on Psalms, Midrash on 
Proverbs and on Samuel. 

I do not pretend to have explored for this little work 
(which I commenced in my sixty-ninth year, and hope 
to see published on or before my seventieth birthday) 
the Midrash in the whole of its scope. I have not even 
as much as touched the Pesikta (the oldest of all Mid- 
rashim) Mechilta, Yalkut, Sifra or Sifre ; but have 
restricted myself to about nine hundred quotations 
from the following Midrashim, viz. Rabba on the five 
books of Moses and the five Megilloth, Tanchuma on 

^ See Dr. Yost's Geschichte des Judenthums und seine Sekten 
vol. ii. pp. 13, etc. 



INTRODUCTION 7 

the Pentateuch, and the Midrash on Psalms, Proverbs 
and Samuel. 

Moreover, whilst I have here and there ventured to 
' dress up ' the mere ' dry bones ' of simple quotations 
with a word or two of my own, according to the (dim) 
light that is within me, I have chiefly confined myself 
to the mere quotations only. I hope that the Eldorado 
which the intelligent reader will at once detect to exist 
in the somewhat untravcrscd highway of this wonder- 
land of Rabbinical literature, may encourage an ex- 
ploring thereof, and one is sure to find an inexhaustible 
deposit peppered with gold, to use the miner's phrase. 
The acquisition of a claim in this may not secure a 
residence in Park Lane, but it will ensure a habitation 
in the spheres which do not pass away. The whole 
realm of the moral code is represented in the Midrash ; 
and there is not a point, whether on prudence, life's 
experience, or worldly wisdom, which the Midrash has 
left untouched. 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON 

The great conqueror Alexander the Macedonian, the 
son of PhiHp, who, at the instigation of the Persians, 
was assassinated by Pisanius, when yet a boy showed 
great thirst for conquest. When he heard of his father's 
conquests he wept bitterly, complaining that by the 
time he assumed the crown there would be so little for 
him to conquer. He was barely twenty years old when 
he'ascended the throne, but he knew well how to make 
his power felt. He soon conquered the Thracians, as 
well as the rebellious Thebans, and his heroic qualities 
developed so rapidly that he was appointed by the 
Greeks as military chief in their wars against the Per- 
sians. Uninterrupted success followed his arms, and 
had he not died at a comparatively early age he would 
probably have conquered what was then known as 
the whole world. His victory over the Persian General 
Memnon, on the river Granicus, in the North-West of 
Asia Minor, opened for him the road into the interior 
of further Asia. He was not slow to take advantage 
of the opportunity, and pushed rapidly through the 
States of Asia Minor, through Lydia and Ionia to Pam- 
phylia. In the latter, near Issus, he gained a brilliant 
victory over Darius the Third, also known as Codo- 
manus, who narrowly escaped death, leaving his mother, 
his wife and his children in the hands of the conqueror. 
The Macedonian hero, with his troops intoxicated 
with victory after victory, now entered Syria, not so 
much in pursuit of Darius as with a view to extending 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON 9 

his conquests. He took Damascus and Sidon, and 
attacked Tyre, so as to become master of the sea also. 

That city, however, being very strongly fortified, and 
being on one side protected by the sea, offered a stubborn 
resistance, and Alexander found himself compelled to 
embark on a long siege. In order to prevent any un- 
toward event during the siege, Alexander was anxious 
to ensure immunity from the neighbouring State. 

He therefore sent a message to Jerusalem, with a 
letter to the High Priest Jedua with the following 
requests : (i) To supply him with troops ; (2) to allow 
free traffic between the Macedonian army and Jeru- 
salem ; (3) to give him every possible assistance, such 
as had been granted to Darius. A hint was also thrown 
out that the High Priest would do well to consider 
whose friendship and goodwill was of greater value — 
that of the victor, or that of the vanquished. 

The letter further expressed Alexander's anticipation 
of having these modest requests granted, and assured 
the Jews that they would have no reason to regret 
compliance. The Jews could not but know that it 
would be greatly to their advantage to be on good 
tenns with this famous hero, and that the beaten 
Persian could neither benefit nor injure them. Yet 
they did not feel justified in deserting the Persians. 
The High Priest therefore indited something like the 
following answer : — 

' Recognition and high esteem are undoubtedly due 
to so glorious a hero, yet for the present the Jews of 
Jerusalem cannot comply with his wishes, for these 
reasons : We Jews have promised our loyalty, on our 
oath, to Darius. So long as that Prince lives the oath 
has its force, and the Jews could commit no sin so 
grievous as wilful perjury, seeing that one of their com- 
mandments, with which God has entrusted them, is 
this : " Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy 
God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless 



10 THE MIDRASH 

that taketh His name in vain." ' The High Priest 
moreover mentioned instances — such as Zedekiah, the 
last King of Judah, who became disloyal to the Baby- 
lonian ruler, his former allegiance notwithstanding, and 
brought calamity upon himself and upon Judea. He 
further pointed out that Moses' teaching tends to show 
that the God of Israel is a God of Truth, that treachery 
and untruth bring misfortune on those who practise 
them, and that it is incumbent on every true adherent 
of the teaching of Moses to avoid all falsehood and 
duplicity. Alexander would perhaps have been satis- 
fied with the explanation offered by the High Priest 
Jedua, had it not been for the Samaritans, who, whilst 
practising all sorts of idolatry, were at the same time 
anxious to unite with the Jews, and to be considered 
as a portion of that body. When the Jews repudiated 
them, they sought to set up a temple of their own on 
the model of the Jerusalem Temple. Menasseh, a 
brother of Jedua, formerly a priest, having married a 
Samaritan woman, the daughter of a Samaritan governor, 
was deprived of his office of priest in the temple, and 
was naturally all the more anxious to set up an opposi- 
tion temple, in which he could exercise his priestly 
function. The Samaritans therefore strained every 
nerve to excite Alexander's illwill against the Jews, 
and to obtain his sanction for the erection of a temple 
on Mount Gerizim. 

Sanblat, the Governor of Samaria, and father-in-law 
of Menasseh, the expelled priest, sought audience of 
Alexander, and took the opportunity to give his version 
of the motives of Jedua, the High Priest, in refusing 
Alexander's requests. He maintained that loyalty to 
Darius was not the motive of the refusal, as the Jews, 
he said, knew nothing of loyalty, but, on the contrary, 
would overthrow every throne not occupied by one of 
their own people if they had the power. He said that 
they were priest-ridden, and that if there were any who 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON II 

would join his (Alexander's) army, they dared not 
venture it, as that would exclude them from partici- 
pating in the Temple service, which to them meant 
moral death. If he (the Macedonian) would only secure 
an alternative to the Jerusalem Temple by sanctioning 
the opposition Temple which the Samaritans were 
anxious to set up, this would bring large numbers from 
Jerusalem to the new Temple ; and the newcomers, no 
longer fearing exclusion from the Jerusalem service, 
would gladly join with the Samaritans the banner of 
the great conqueror Alexander. It is perhaps not sur- 
prising that the Macedonian conqueror was much 
impressed with this plausible version, especially when 
the Samaritans, as an earnest of their acceptance of 
and adhesion to the new state of affairs, deserted en 
masse the ranks of the crushed Darius, and went over 
to Alexander's army. 

The desired j)ermission for the building of the Gerizim 
Temjile was granted, and the work was taken in hand. 
Soon afterwards, however, the governor, who was a man 
of advanced age, died. Tyre could no longer resist the 
severe siege, and, as predicted by the prophet (Is. 27), 
it capitulated. Indescribable slaughter and ravage 
took place within its walls ; the town was laid in ruins, 
and its heroes were either slaughtered or taken as slaves. 

Alexander now turned his attention to the punish- 
ment of the Jews, and started with his ever-victorious 
army for Jerusalem. When tlie news of the approach 
of Alexander and his formidable army reached Jerusa- 
lem, there was consternation, and despair ruled supreme 
amongst the inhabitants, one and all. The Jews took 
refuge, as ever, in their religion ; prayer, fasting, 
sackcloth and ashes were the order of the day. Con- 
fession of sin and repentance were practised daily 
by almost every person. When Alexander was but 
al)out one day's distance from Jerusalem, the High 
Priest and Elders of the Temple had the streets of the 



12 THE MIDRASH 

city beautifully decorated, the public buildings as well 
as the private residences were magnificently adorned, 
and they ordered the inhabitants to form two lines in 
the streets — one opposite the other — the people to 
appear in their holiday attire. The gates of the city 
were bedecked with garlands of the finest flowers, and 
triumphal arches were erected. The priests, the Levites 
and the Elders, at their head the venerable High Priest 
Jedua in full priestly robes, mitre, ephod and breast- 
plate, made their way, towards evening, to the entrance 
of the city, cairying torches and candles in their hands, 
and a light was thrown on the brilliant assembly such 
as echpsed the noonday brightness of a magnificent 
summer's day. 

Soon after their arrival at the gate, Alexander, at the 
head of his army, made his appearance. He was quite 
astonished at the sight that met his view, and seemed 
to be overwhelmed on beholding the grand and imposing 
assembly that came to meet him. When he saw the 
High Priest, who looked even as an angel in his garments, 
Alexander dismounted, as though impelled by an in- 
stinct, bowed himself reverently, and proclaimed aloud : 
' Blessed be the God whose servant you are.' His army, 
however, having anticipated plunder rather than the 
sight before them, could ill conceal their bewilderment 
at the strange turn of affairs. They could hardly 
believe, on the evidence of their own senses, that their 
proud monarch should bend his head so humbly and so 
reverently before the High Priest. One of Alexander's 
confidential and favourite officers, Parmenion by name, 
ventured at last to ask the King why he, the proud 
conqueror, showed such marked honour and deference 
to the Jewish priest. 

' Listen, then,' replied Alexander, ' and I will tell you 
of a wonderful experience of mine. While I was still 
in Macedonia I often lay awake at night, when all else 
was at rest, thinking of a plan by which to gain mastery 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON 13 

of Asia. One evening, when my thoughts were more 
than usually occupied with this fond scheme of mine, 
I fell, exhausted by this mental strain, into a deep 
slumber, and saw in a vision an awe-insi)iring man 
standing before me. The very sight of him seemed to 
instil into me courage and hope, and, as though reading 
my very thoughts, he advised me to cross the borders 
of Greece without further hesitation, and assured me of 
the success of my projected undertaking. That vision 
of mine was no myth, no nightmare, not the mere 
phantasy of a heated brain ; for not only have I, since 
that vision, never met with anything but victory, but 
in the hoar-headed and venerable servant of the Jewish 
God, in his attire and in his bearing, I see no other than 
the man of my vision. Shall I not then revere the man 
who was the messenger of his God to lead me to victory ? 
I am equally convinced that my destiny is to overthrow 
Darius, and for that purpose I was called to undertake 
this venture, and the appearance of this holy man fore- 
tells complete success.' After this explanation, Alex- 
ander entered Jerusalem, accompanied by the Jewish 
dignitaries who came to meet him. He was welcomed 
and cheered throughout by the iX)pulation of the city. 
His first request was to be taken to the Temple, where 
he anxiously inquired concerning the ceremonies and 
sacrifices and the manner of the services. 

His curiosity was gladly satisfied, and the High 
Priest directed his attention also to the passage in 
Daniel 8. 5, where it is foretold that a Greek ruler 
(which term the High Priest ajiplied to Alexander) would 
overthrow the Persian kingdom, and Alexander was 
exceedingly pleased with all he saw and heard. The 
following day the Macedonian hero summoned all the 
priests and elders, and asked them to tell him, without 
restraint and hesitation, what they wished of him as a 
token of his great satisfaction at the reception given 
him, and as a mark of his high estimation of their 



14 THE MIDRASH 

services and organization. The High Priest, who was 
the spokesman, asked his Majesty to grant them the 
free and unhindered exercise of their religious rites, and 
to waive the payment of taxes in the Sabbatical year, 
when, according to the law of Moses, no agricultural 
pursuits were allowed, and consequently there was no 
revenue from their lands. This was at once granted ; 
but Alexander observed from Jedua's demeanour that 
there was some further favour he wished to obtain, but 
that the good man was reluctant to name it. He there- 
fore requested the High Priest to lay all his wishes before 
him. The High Priest then ventured to ask that the 
great monarch might extend his permission regarding 
the exercise of the religious rites by his Jewish subjects 
to all other parts of his wide dominions, such as Babylon 
and Media, and this was also cheerfully granted by the 
great Alexander. At the express wish of the Mace- 
donian warrior, a large number of the most valiant of 
the Jewish community joined his army, and he gave 
them permission to follow their religious observances in 
the camp. As a further favour, Alexander requested 
that his hkeness might be framed and placed in the 
Temple. It was pointed out to him that the Jews were 
strictly forbidden to have pictures and likenesses of 
anything whatever in their places of worship, and, in 
lieu of this, it was suggested (i) that all male children 
born in that year throughout Jerusalem should be 
named Alexander, and (2) that the Jews should adopt 
a new era called the Alexander Era. That era was to 
commence with October i of the year 312 before the 
Christian era. This suggestion met with Alexander's 
approval, and up to the eleventh century of the Chris- 
tian era this method of reckoning the years was actually 
in force, and was known as the Era of Documents.^ 
With Alexander's entry into Jerusalem began a very 

1 See Rapoport's Erech Millin, page 73. 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON 15 

considerable improvement in the condition of the Jows.^ 
The Samaritans used every subterfuge in order to be 
recognized as Jews by the Macedonian hero, so that 
they miglit enjoy the privileges and advantages bestowed 
on the latter, but they failed to convince Alexander, 
who remembered their efforts to prejudice him against 
the Jews, that they were of the same people. ' If you 
are indeed Jews,' he asked, ' how is it that you are not 
known by that name ? ' ' We are,' they insisted, 
' descendants of the Patriarch Jacob, and Israel's God 
is our God ; but the Sidomites call us Samaritans, and 
we are also knowTi to them by the name of Shechemites, 
after our ca})ital Shechem.' 

Alexander was not satisfied with their answer, and 
told them that he could not recognize them as Jews, 
and to the Jews alone he had granted the privileges 
which the Samaritans sought to obtain. He asked 
them to leave the matter in abeyance till his return 
from the long journey he was about to undertake, and 
on his return he would thoroughly investigate their 
claim, and then see that justice was done to them. The 
Samaritans were dissatisfied with Alexander's treat- 
ment of them, and they rebelled and burned the Governor 
Andromachus in his own palace. Alexander's anger at 
this was very great ; he returned, put to death the 
leaders, exiled a number of Samaritans to Egypt, 
where they formed a colony in Thebais, and handed a 
large number of them over to the Jews as slaves, as a 
reward for their tried loyalty. 

Alexander of Macedonia, be it remembered, was by 
no means a mere uncouth warrior whose knowledge did 
not extend beyond the narrow compass of the battle- 
field, for the vast dominion of art and science was an 
open book to him. From his thirteenth to his eighteenth 

* There is a difference in the dates mentioned in the Talmud. 
In Taanis it is stated as the 21st Kislev, and in Yoma 69 as the 
28th of Tebeth. 



l6 THE MIDRASH 

year he was a pupil of Aristotle, who guided him through 
all branches of wisdom and knowledge, and inspired in him 
a love for Homer's works, which in fact he always carried 
with him. As a consequence, he naturally had a longing 
for intercourse with the educated and learned men of 
every place which he visited. Arrived in the South, his 
first step was to have the men distinguished for their 
wisdom brought before him. To them he put the 
following ten questions : (i) Which is the longer dis- 
tance — from the earth to the skies, or from the east of 
the world to the west ? Answer : The last-mentioned 
is the longer, because if the sun stands in the East or 
in the West, then he is perceived in the half of each 
sphere ; but if he is in the centre of the sky, then he 
is not visible everywhere. Consequently he must be 
higher in the former case than in the latter. (2) Which 
was created first — the heavens or the earth ? Answer : 
The Almighty clearly commenced His work with the 
heavens, for is it not said, ' In the beginning God created 
the heavens and the earth ' ? (3) Who is truly wise ? 
Answer : He who can foresee the result of his acts is 
truly a wise man. (4) Who is truly strong ? Answer : 
Strength is in the possession of him who can overcome 
his passions. (5) Who can be considered truly rich ? 
Answer : Truly rich is he who possesses contentment. 
(6) How can man acquire true Hfe ? Answer : True 
life can be obtained by deadening one's passions. (7) 
What hastens man's death ? Answer : Indulgence in 
earthly pleasures. (8) How can man obtain the love 
of his fellow-men ? Answer : By not seeking supremacy 
over them. Alexander felt himself hit by this answer, 
and said, ' I am not of your opinion in this respect. 
My idea is that, in order to obtain the love of one's 
fellow-man, one must acquire might and power, and 
use them with discretion.' (9) Which is the more agree- 
able abode — on land or water ? Answer : Surely on 
land, because seafaring men are not happy and con- 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON I7 

tented till they reach land. (10) Who amongst you is 
considered the wisest ? Answer : In this respect we 
are unable to give any one the preference, as you may 
have observed that our answers were unanimous and 
simultaneous. 

Alexander proceeded in argument with the wise men. 
' Why,' he asked, ' are you so averse to heathenism, 
seeing that the heathens greatly outnumber you ? ' To 
which he received the reply that it is just the multitude, 
the masses, who are apt to lose sight of truth, and it is 
only given to a comparative few to perceive and under- 
stand pure truth. ' But,' he continued, ' it is in my 
power to destroy the whole of you.' ' No doubt,' was 
the answer, ' you possess the power to do so, but we 
are not apprehensive on that point, having once received 
the promise of your protection.' He then consulted 
them concerning his projected journey to Africa. The 
wise men answered, ' That you cannot reach, as it lies 
beyond the dark mountains, which no human foot can 
traverse.' The king seemed to be piqued by this, and 
said, ' I do not ask you whether I shall or can traverse 
those mountains. My mind is made up, and there is 
no resistance to my will. What I want to know is the 
best means known to man for undertaking this formid- 
able expedition.' The wise men advised him to the 
best of their knowledge. Part of their advice was to 
procure certain draught animals from Libya, which 
possess the faculty of seeing their way in darkness. 
The king, having adopted all the necessary measures, 
started for Africa. He arrived at a place called the 
land of Amazon, whose inhabitants consisted only of 
women, to whom he sent a declaration of war. The 
women sent a message to him that a war with them 
could only be an inglorious one, inasnuich as if he were 
victorious a victory over women could not bring him 
cither fame or honour ; whereas if they should be 
victorious, that would surely bring disgrace uix)n him. 

C 



l8 THE MIDRASH 

The king saw the wisdom of their argument, and gave 
up the idea of war, but bade them supply him with 
bread. The women brought him lumps of gold in the 
shape of loaves of bread. The king said in amazement : 
' Do you use this metal as bread ? ' They answered : 
' You surely have not come all this distance merely for 
bread ; is there no bread in your own country ? ' 

Alexander took his departure thence, but, before 
starting, he wrote on the gate of the city : ' I, Alexander 
of Macedonia, was a simpleton until I arrived at this 
gate, where I learnt wisdom from women.' He next 
arrived at Katzia, where also he was met with presents 
of gold. ' I want no gold of yours,' said Alexander to 
the chief. ' And to what other purpose have you come 
all this great distance ? ' was the answer, given in the 
shape of a question. ' I have come,' said Alexander, ' to 
become acquainted with your manners and customs, 
especially with your administration of justice.' 

A remarkable case of litigation happened to be in 
progress in the place at this time. A man who had 
bought a house of another found in its precincts a 
treasure -trove, which he took back to the seller, sapng : 
' This is yours ; I bought the house only, and not what 
may be found in it.' The other, in refusing to accept 
the proffered treasure, argued that he sold the house, 
and the buyer was the rightful owner of all that might 
be found in it. The judge gave his decision that the 
son of the purchaser of the house should marry the 
daughter of the seller, and the young couple should 
receive the treasure as a dowry. As Alexander ex- 
pressed his wonder at and approval of the wise verdict, 
he was asked by the judge how a similar suit would be 
decided in his own country. ' In my country,' replied 
Alexander, ' the treasure would be taken by the Crown, 
and both parties would be deterred by the threat of 
death from laying any claim to it.' ' How,' said the 
judge, ' have you also rain and sunshine in your 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON I9 

country ? ' ' Surely,' replied Alexander. ' And you 
possess also animals and fowls ? ' ' Why not ? ' asked 
the Macedonian. * Then,' remarked the judge, ' I must 
suppose that the purpose of the rain and sunshine in 
your land is to sustain those harmless creatures ; for 
you, the human inhabitants, judging by your perverse- 
ness and injustice, are unworthy of such blessed gifts 
of nature.' 

One day they arrived at a river, and as his servants 
were washing off the salt of the fish, which they carried 
with them for their august master, in the water of the 
river, they saw that life was returning to the fishes. 
When the marvellous event was reported to Alexander, 
he determined to find the source of that river. He 
pursued his way, and at last found a gate, where he 
demanded admittance. The answer he received to his 
demand was : ' This is the gate of the Lord ; the 
righteous shall enter therein,' and he concluded that it 
must be the gate of Paradise. As all his pleadings did 
not gain him admittance, he asked for some article from 
the place as a token of his having arrived there. A 
lump of gold in the shape of a human eye was handed 
out to him, and on putting it in the scales to ascertain 
its remarkable weight, he found that whatever weight 
he might put on the opposite scale, it would not turn 
the scale on which the golden eye was put. As soon 
as he met with the Rabbis again, he asked them to 
unriddle this remarkable thing. The Rabbis told him 
to put a little earth over the eye, and its weight would 
vanish. They explained that the eye was a perfect 
type of the human eye, which, as the wise king tells 
us (Prov. 27.), is never satisfied, until a little earth 
is put over it (in death), and its everlasting hunger 
ceases.* 

' This allt'Kory was conspicuously applicable to Alexander's 
career .ind character. However extensive were his conquests, 
be longcU for more and was never satislieU, not even after tlie 



20 THE MIDRASH 

Alexander returned home from his great adventures 
through the wilderness and went to Egypt, where he 
built the city of Alexandria. He was anxious for the 
Jews, whom he held in high esteem for their bravery 
and loyalty, to be among the settlers of the great city. 
Once, some African tribe and some descendants of 
Ishmael laid complaints before him against the Jews. 
The Africans claimed the possession of Palestine, basing 
their claim on Numbers 34. 2 and on their being 
descendants of Canaan ; they maintained that they 
had an undisputed right to the country of their 
ancestor. The sons of Ishmael, too, put in a claim 
to the possession of at least a portion of Palestine, 
as the land was promised to their grandfather Abra- 
ham (Gen. 25. 13). And so the Egyptians bethought 
themselves of their claim against the Jews, and re- 
ferred also to a Scriptural passage (Exod. 12. 36). 

Alexander had the elders of the Jews summoned to 
him, and mentioned the claims of the respective parties 
against them. The Jews selected one named Gebeha, 
son of Psisa, as their defender. He faced the plaintiffs, 
and said : ' You have each based your claims on Scrip- 
ture ; I, too, will plead against you out of the books of 
Moses, our lawgiver. Regarding the Canaanites, we 
have it in Genesis 9. 25 that Canaan was cursed and 
was made a slave to his brothers. A slave can possess 
no property of his own. As to the demand of the 
Ishmaelites, we have it also on the same authority 
(Gen. 25. 5) that Abraham presented Isaac with all his 
possessions, and to the children of his concubines he 
made presents and sent them away from his son Isaac. 

' Against the claims of the Egyptians, we have a huge 
counterclaim. The second book of Moses mentions the 



plundering of Asia, not after receiving, in consequence of his 
great conquests, the appellation of ' the great.' But with his 
death, his and his country's greatness ceased, the monstrous 
possessions were cut up, and none of his kin ascended the throne. 



ALEXANDER OF MACEDON 21 

time of the Jewish compulsory servitude in Egypt as 
430 years. We are fully prepared to restore the value 
of what we carried away from Egypt, if the Egyptians 
will pay us the wages of 600,000 men, whom they com- 
})elled to work for them for the period mentioned.' 

Alexander demanded a reply on the part of the three 
claimants against the Jewish arguments, within three 
days, if they did not wish to be punished for making 
fictitious claims. 

Nothing more was heard of the claims.^ The Jews 
rose in Alexander's esteem daily, and he gave them the 
most beautiful part of the city, on the banks of the 
river, as their quarter, and granted them the full rights 
of citizenship. The Jewish community increased greatly 
in wealth and numbers. A year later, at the battle of 
Arbela, a town in Chaldea, Alexander entirely annihi- 
lated the Persian empire. After more wars and con- 
quests, he died suddenly at the age of thirty-three. 
His death was brought about as much by revelry as 
by his many cares and bodily exhaustion. Some of his 
generals contended for his throne ; he was left unburied 
for some time, and eventually no royal burial was his 
j)ortion. The Macedonian monarchy was divided amongst 
four of his generals. — Midr. Rabba Gen. 33 ; Lev. 27. ; 
and Tanchuma Emmor, etc. 

' Different dates are f^iven for the above event. In Sanhed 
91. it is given as the 24th of Nisson, and in Taanis as the 25th 
of Sivon. 



DEMONS 

The spirits of demons were created on the eve of the 
sixth day, but before their bodies were formed the 
Sabbath set in, when rest was proclaimed, and their 
formation was not consummated. — Gen. Rabba 7. 

After Cain had killed Abel, Adam separated from his 
wife for the space of 130 years, during which time Adam 
emitted male demons and Eve female demons. — Gen. 
Rabba 20. 

Eve, ' as the mother of all living,' was also the mother 
of demons. — Gen. Rabba 20. 

Four things were altered from their former condition 
in the time of Enos, son of Seth : the mountains became 
as hard as flint, dead bodies of man commenced to 
putrefy, which was not the case before ; man began to 
resemble the ape, and demons commenced having 
power or dominion over man, of which they were 
deprived before the image of God in man was impaired. 
— Gen. Rabba 23. 

From Adam to Enos man had God's image, then 
man formed the image of demons. — Gen. Rabba 24. 

Noah took demons into the ark and thus preserved 
their species. — Gen. Rabba 31. 

A demon named Shamdon went with Noah to plant 
the vineyard and made a condition with him (Noah) 
not to interfere in any way with his work, or he would 
injure him. — Gen. Rabba 36. 

Demons are also known as the ' Hairy ones,' as the 
prophet describes them (Is. 13.). — Gen. Rabba 65. 

The flaming revolving swords were placed at the 



DEMONS 23 

entrance of the Garden of Eden through the agency of 
demons. The word Jon"? means demoniac agency as 
well as ' flames.' And when we are told that Pharaoh's 
magicians imitated Moses' performance of miracles 
Dn"'to'?3, it means that they did this through the 
agency of demons. — Exod. Rabba 9. 

As Pharaoh's magicians worked their imitation of 
Moses' miracles through demons, they were unable to 
imitate the third plague, since demons cannot bring 
forth anything smaller than a barleycorn. — Exod. 
Rabba 10. 

With the crow of the cock announcing the approach- 
ing dawn of day, the power of demons diminishes, their 
power being for the most part confined to night only. — 
Levit. Rabba 5. 

Religious men may gain power over demons and 
subdue them in various ways, as did King Solomon 
before his fall, before he was led astray by strange 
women. After his fall, though partly restored to his 
greatness, he not only had lost his power over demons, 
but was in terror of them, hence he had need of the 
sixty mighty men to surround his bed (Songs 3. 7). — 
Numb. Rabba 11. 

The ninety-first psalm was composed by Moses as a 
sort of talisman or protection against demons whom he 
feared, when about to ascend Mount Sinai, as putting 
a stumbling block in his way. Agras, daughter of 
Machlas, is the name of a female demon who commands 
a large number of associates or assistants, and there is 
one great demon whose name is 2Dp (Kativc), in Hebrew 
' Arrow.' The Psalmist alludes to this when he says, 
' The arrow that flieth l:)y day ' (Ps. 91.). This terrible 
demon has exceptional power l)etwcen the first six and 
the last nine hours of the twenty-four. His power is 
greatest neither in the shade, nor in the sun, but in the 
condition betwixt sun and shade. His physiognomy is 
described as follows : head similar to that of a calf, 



24 THE MIDRASH 

one horn rising out of his forehead in the shape of a 
cruse or a pitcher. No one beholding him, man or 
beast, can hve, but drops down dead at once, and 
several instances are given of men who on seeing him 
fell down dead immediately. There was one, however, 
Judah son of Samuel, who was proof against falling 
down at the sight of this demon, but he died shortly 
afterwards. There is a certain period of the year when 
this demon has special sway, and that is during the 
three weeks between the 17th day of Tamuz and the 
9th day of Ab. So great indeed is his power for evil 
during the above-mentioned period, that the Rabbis 
prohibited the schoolmasters chastising naughty scholars 
during those days, lest ' Arrow ' should avail himself of 
his propitious season and add mischief of his own to 
the beaten pupils, and the result should prove fatal. 
It is comforting to know that during the existence of 
the ]2WD (Mishkan) Tabernacle, demons were removed 
from this globe because the Shechinah took up its 
abode in the Mishkan, which was erected by special 
command and design of the Lord. — Numb. Rabba 12 ; 
Midr. on Psalms, Lamentations, and Song of Songs. 

There is not so small a space as a yard of ground 
upon which there are not thousands of demons ready 
to injure man, but a sort of mask or thick veil is put 
before their faces, which tends to dim their sight, so 
that they cannot look clearly at man, and thus injure 
him by their very stare. When, however, man incurs 
retribution for his misdeeds, the image of God on him 
is reduced (or eliminated), and this has the effect of 
lessening the dimness of the demon's sight, so that he 
then has the power of injuring man by merely looking 
at him. — Deut. Rabba 4. 

Arginutin is the name of the demon who has dominion 
over bathing places. — Gen. Rabba 63. 

Demons could not exist on earth while the Mishkan 
stood. — Numb. Rabba 12. 



DEMONS 25 

Mcin is above everytliiiig — even over demons he can 
have dominion — but when he falls (by sin), dominion is 
given over him. — Numb. Rabba 11. 

The priestly benediction in which occur the words 
ll.^i:^^'), ' and keep thee,' refers to security from injury 
by demons. — Numb. Rabba 11. 

A woman once sent her child to fetch her a candle. 
On his way to do her bidding a demon met him, and 
was alx)ut to inflict injury on him, when lo and behold 
a cock crowed, announcing the approaching dawn. The 
demon not only desisted from his pernicious intention, 
but told the child to inform his mother of the fact that 
if it were not for the dawn of the day he would not 
have returned to tell the tale. — Levit. Rabba 5. 

Let no man disregard God's behests ; they were the 
wisdom of Solomon, and his safeguard, but as soon as 
he lost hold of them, terror was his portion, and he was 
terrified by fear of demons. — Exod. Rabba 30. 

The men of the Tower of Babel were divided into 
three sections in their work and were punished with 
three different punishments. One section became 
demons, another had their language confused, and the 
third were ' cast about.' — Midr. Psalms i. 

When Esau is styled the ' hairy man,' this indicates 
tiiat he was a demon. The name of demons is ' hairy 
ones.' * — Gen. Rabba 65. 

That demons themselves do not enjoy immunity from 
injury by other demons, the following story will illus- 
trate. Rabbi Abba b. Dowsa passed by a well, when 
he was addressed by a demon, who solicited his and his 
pupils' help to ward off the attack of a more fierce 
demon. The demon suggested that the Rabbi and his 
disciples need do no more than meet at the place, i.e. 
the well, and when the attacking demon made his 
appearance his opponent would say to him, * See that 

' See Dr. Ludwig Philipsohn's Prophet Jeschajah, cap. 13. 



26 THE MIDRASH 

there is a number of men waiting to take your life,' 
and he would become so cowed that he would be slain 
with ease. And so it actually happened. — Midr. Psalms 

20. 

The following is an instance where a demon rendered 
excellent service to the Jewish community. Diokletian, 
when he was tending a herd of pigs, was invariably 
persecuted by Jewish children, who never missed an 
opportunity of throwing missiles at him. When he rose 
to the dignity of king he was bent on having revenge 
on the Rabbis, who, he supposed, were those who had 
persecuted him when he and they were but boys. He 
sent a letter to them late on a Friday to appear before 
him on the following morning, well knowing that the 
message would not reach them in time to allow them 
to make preparation for their appearance without inter- 
ference with the evening hjmin of the Sabbath. Rabbi 
Samuel, son of Nachmon, meeting Rabbi Judah Hanasi 
in the bathing house, saw that he was very sad, and on 
inquiry, he was told of the sudden summons to the 
unfriendly king. 

Whilst they were conversing, Arginiton, the demon 
who has dominion over the bathing house, was dancing 
before them. Rabbi Judah Hanasi, not knowing him, 
and not being in a mood for dancing, was about to 
rebuke him, but he was prevented by his colleague 
(Rabbi Samuel) from doing so. But Rabbi Samuel 
himself addressed Arginiton, telling him that there was 
trouble in the community. The demon assured them 
that all would be well with them and they need not 
sadden their Sabbath. 

When the Sabbath was over Arginiton laid hold of 
the Rabbis and placed them at the gate of the king's 
palace. When the latter was informed of their presence 
he ordered the gates to be fastened, lest the visitors 
should step inside and afterwards plead that they were 
there in good time, but had to wait for admission ; but 



DEMONS 27 

as the gate was being fastened the demon placed the 
Rabbis within. When the king was informed of this 
amazing fact, he concluded that miracles were per- 
formed for them, and when they came before him, his 
anger was considerably softened. Instead of dealing 
hardly with them, he began to converse about olden 
times, asking how it was that they used to treat him so 
contemptuously. They answered, Diokletian the swine- 
herd was treated indifferently, but for Diokletian the 
great king there can be nothing but the utmost respect. 
The king dismissed them with a mild rebuke. — Gen. 
Rabba 63. 

Demons offered their services to King Solomon in the 
erection of the Temple. — Song of Songs Rabba i. 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING OF DEMONS 

After King Solomon had ascended his father's throne, 
he called all his counsellors together one day and 
addressed them as follows : ' As the wise and distin- 
guished men of the people, you cannot but recognize 
that the time has now come when I have to discharge 
a deferred debt, which has been left to me as a legacy 
by my illustrious father, King David. It is the building 
of a Temple to the glory and worship of the Most High 
God, which would gladly have been undertaken by 
my father were it not for the message he received 
through Nathan the Prophet, that it was not to be he 
himself but his son and successor who should undertake 
the work. 

* I now desire to discharge that holy duty and to erect 
a structure worthy of its exalted purpose, and consecrate 
it to Almighty God. The condition of things is pro- 
pitious ; peace rules supreme, there is no lack of ways 
and means, and Hiram of Tyre has, in fact, already 
received instructions to fell cedars in Labonon, and 
marble and stone is also ready in abundance. But it 
requires your wise counsel to enable the building to 
proceed without the use of any iron. It would not be 
proper to employ an element of destruction in the 
erection of a structure which is to be dedicated to peace 
and harmony.' At the end of the king's speech, the 
members of the Court looked at one another in per- 
plexity for a while ; then they began : — 

' Wise King and Ruler ! Moses, our teacher of blessed 
memory, found himself in similar perplexity when he 

28 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING OF DEMONS 29 

wanted to engrave the names on the Ephod, but the 
Spirit of God enlightened him, and he soon found the 
marvellous worm called " Shomir," which possesses the 
wonderful power of cutting the hardest object known 
by a touch. If, O Glorious King ! you succeed in 
obtaining that wonderful insect, you will have no need 
of iron or any element of destruction in the erection of 
the house which you wish to consecrate to the Most 
High God, and dedicate as the emblem of peace and 
harmony. 

The king's countenance brightened at this informa- 
tion, and, lifting up his eyes heavenwards, he said, 
' Verily, O God of Israel, thou hast granted wisdom and 
knowledge to my people Israel ! You, my friends, have 
given me new life and fresh spirit. Now, can you tell 
me where the wonderful insect is to be found, so that 
I may have it brought and may utilize its power ? ' 
' That, mighty ruler,' replied the wise men, ' is beyond 
our ken, and we doubt whether it is within the know- 
ledge of any mortal man. It is supposed that the 
" Shomir " has its home in wild and desolate places 
which have never been traversed by human foot. We 
are therefore not able to comply with your wish, but if 
you have the advice of a male and female demon who 
traverse those wastes, we doubt not that they will be 
able to throw more light on this dark mystery.' 

Solomon then sent to Sichon, the rendezvous of demons, 
had a male and female demon brought before him, and 
addressed them as follows : ' It is said of you that you 
have a knowledge of mysteries which we do not possess. 
Tell me, therefore, where I could obtain that wonderful 
insect known as " Shomir " ? ' 

They replied, ' We are aware of the existence of the 
marvellous " Shomir," but are unable to give anything 
like a near description of its abode ; that is only known 
to our king and great master, Ashmedai. He alone 
would be able to gratify your wish.' ' And,' said 



30 THE MIDRASH 

Solomon, ' where is the abode of your king and great 
master ? ' * His home,' was the answer, ' is on a high 
mountain, far, very far, from Jerusalem, in a lovely 
and beautiful spot. There he has a well filled with cold 
clear water, covered with a wooden slab, sealed with 
his seal. Every day he leaves his terrestrial abode and 
flies heavenwards to hear the songs of the angels, who 
sing praises to the Great God. 

* Being refreshed with the heavenly hymns, he 
searches through the heavens, and casts his eyes on the 
various spheres within his view, and towards evening 
he returns to his abode. Arriving there, he looks 
carefully at the seal of his well to see that it has not 
been tampered with, and, finding it all right, he lifts 
the slab and refreshes himself with the cooling and 
refreshing liquid. 

' More than this, O mighty king, we are not permitted 
to impart to you concerning our king and master.' 
For a long time King Solomon allowed his eyes to wander 
about his great room, and at last fixed them on a 
youth amongst the assembly — a youth of powerful 
frame and lovely appearance, and with an expression of the 
most resolute and keenest spirit in his countenance. 

' Benaihu, son of Jehoiada,' exclaimed the king, ' long 
have I known you as the most courageous in all my 
legions ! See now what a magnificent opportunity 
there is offered to you to prove the truth of the opinion 
I have formed of you. Will you venture to bring 
Ashmedai as a captive to me, and by such heroic deed 
not only to make yourself a hero amongst your people, 
but to do a great service to the holy cause of your 
religion ? ' 'I will venture,' cried the youth, ' any task 
your majesty may honour me with,' his eyes shining 
brightly with delight. ' God be with you,' said the 
king ; ' He knows that we do all this to glorify His 
name ; may He guide you and bless your undertaking.' 
Benaihu left the assembly, and at his orders a chain 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING OF DEMONS 3I 

was given to him upon every link of which was engraved 
the unspeakable name of God in the Chaldean language. 
He also ordered for his journey a large quantity of 
lambs' wool, spades and shovels, and a pipe of the most 
exquisite wine of the vines of ' Bal Hamon,' a famous 
vineyard, the property of King Solomon. 

Thus equipped, Benaihu staitcd with a few followers 
on the perilous expedition. After a long and adven- 
turous journey through the desert, he reached the 
lovely spot on the mountain which was the home of 
Ashmedai. On the top of the mountain grew a cluster 
of lovely palms, on which an eternal summer seemed 
to rest. At its foot ran a clear brook, teeming with 
fish of all sorts ; on the slope of the mountain could 
be seen the well of the great Ashmedai, as described by 
the two demons. 

Benaihu mused a long while, then he said to his 
followers : ' My friends, we have now reached our 
destination, but not our aim. Now let us bear in mind 
that muscular power is now of no use to us when we 
have to deal with the master of demons, but God has 
granted us discernment and understanding, and with 
these divine gifts it should not be impossible to prevail 
over the mighty king of the demons. If only we con- 
trive to empty his well of the water and fill it with the 
wine we have brought with us, then our task is an easy 
one ; but to effect this is a formidable difficulty, because 
we must not lift the slab and break the seal, or we 
defeat our purpose.' 

He then commenced, during Ashmedai's absence, to 
dig a jnt under the well, and connected the two by 
boring a small tunnel, so that the water from Ashmedai's 
well ran into the newly made pit, then stopped up the 
small tunnel completely with the lamb's wool ; then a 
similar jiit was dug above the well, and also connected 
with Ashmedai's well. The wine was poured in here, 
and found its way into the well. After this he had 



32 THE MIDRASH 

every possible trace of the fresh digging removed, and 
ordered his companions to go away from the place, 
but he climbed up one of the many palm trees, and sat 
there to watch events. When the shadows of the 
evening lengthened there was a fiery flush through the 
skies, and there came with it a monstrous creature 
with black wings, which gradually let itself down to the 
earth. 

Ashmedai, for he it was, looked long on the seal of 
the well, and finding it untouched, broke it, lifted up 
the slab, and was about to refresh himself with the 
contents of the well. When he detected that it contained 
wine instead of the refreshing liquid which he had 
husbanded, he turned in disgust from it, exclaiming, 
' Wine is a mocker, and every intoxicant confuses the 
senses. No ! your flattering sweetness shall not lead 
me astray ; as well would I suffer the tortures of un- 
quenched thirst as have your exquisite taste upon my 
palate.' But after a while Ashmedai could not any 
longer withstand his craving for some liquid, if only 
to moisten his lips, and he said to himself, ' If I only 
sip at the accursed stuff it will have no power over me. 
I will touch of it no more than is sufficient to moisten 
my burning tongue.' He drank at first very sparingly, 
but it was very, very sweet, and it seemed to give him 
a brightness and freshness he had never experienced 
before. ' Only a little, a very little more,' he said, 
' not sufficient to overmaster me.' But this very little 
was followed by few more ' very littles,' till he became 
quite intoxicated, and fell asleep. This was quite 
satisfactory to the concealed young hero, who, climbing 
down from his hiding place, went cautiously forward 
until he reached the sleejiing demon, over whose neck 
he threw the chain with the name of God engraved on 
every link. 

Ashmedai slept till the early hours of the morning, 
when he found himself heavily fettered, scarcely able 



ASIIMEDAT, TIIF. KING OF DEMONS 33 

tu turn round on his bed. He looked for heavy manacles, 
but found only a fragile chain round his neck, which he 
could not credit with such immense power. He tried 
his utmost to snap the frail thing, but without success. 

He roared terribly, so that the very air was filled 
with the violent noise. ' O set me free ; who will set 
me free from this hellish burden ? ' ' No one,' came 
the answer from the hitherto hidden Benaihu ; ' all 
your efforts are fniitless ; you are fettered, not indeed 
with iron manacles, only with a chain of softer metals, 
but that has the name of God engraved on it, and in 
the name of God you are my captive.' Ashmedai, on 
hearing Benaihu's words, became quiet and resigned to 
his situation. One of Benaihu's men was ordered to 
take charge of him, and like a tamed lion he was led 
forth. Ashmcdai's concealed courage exhibited itself 
now and then on the journey towards Jerusalem. As 
they passed one day a gigantic palm tree, he asked for 
a rest under its shade, and when this was granted, he 
rubl)ed himself so violently against it that it was up- 
rooted. Thereupon he passed a hut, the property of a 
poor widow, and was about to demolish it, when the 
woman, seeing the giant about to lean against the frail 
walls of her home, prevailed upon him to spare her 
hut. 

One day they met a blind man who became entangled 
amongst some bushes and could not find his way out. 
Ashmedai took the man by the hand, and led him out 
of his perplexed situation into the highway. So also 
they met a man in his cups, who was nearing a precipice 
into which he was about to fall, when his demoniac 
majesty hastened to get him out of danger's way and 
l)laced him in a safe road. They passed one day through 
a town where he heard a man calling out to a shoe- 
maker, ' Heda, friend, can j'ou make me a pair of boots 
to last me seven years ? ' Ashmedai burst out laughing 
at this. They met also a wedding party, with music 

D 



34 THE MIDRASH 

accompanying them. Ashmedai wept. They saw a 
wizard sitting on a large stone telling a patronizing 
clientele their future fate, and again Ashmedai laughed. 
Benaihu was curious to know the motives of the demon's 
conduct, but he could not be persuaded to explain 
himself, and said he reserved the explanation for King 
Solomon himself. When they arrived in Jerusalem, 
Benaihu brought his captive triumphantly before 
Solomon, who was sitting on his throne surrounded 
by his counsellors and elders. At the entrance of 
Ashmedai they rose from their magnificent divans. 
Ashmedai, however, in great excitement and anger took 
a long staff, and marking round himself a space of four 
yards in circumference, and pointing to King Solomon, 
exclaimed, ' Look at this man, a king of dust and ashes ! 
When he dies, nothing will be his beyond a space of 
earth the size of which I have just marked out, yet he 
is not satisfied to have subjected all his neighbours and 
all the kingdoms as his tributaries, but he must needs 
try to wrench the sceptre from the king of the spirits. 
Otherwise, why have you, O great king, brought such con- 
tempt and dismay upon me ? ' 'Be not angry with me,' 
returned Solomon, ' king of spirits, and be assured that 
conquest is not the object of your captivity. It is a matter 
appertaining to the glory of my God, who is also your 
God. Tell me, then, where I can obtain the marvellous 
" Shomir," of which I have need to cleave the marble and 
stones for the House of God.' ' If that is the object,' 
returned Ashmedai, pacified and reassured by Solomon's 
reconciling words, ' then I willingly submit to my hard 
fate, and will also tell you where and how to obtain 
the much-sought " Shomir." The " Shomir " belongs 
to the lord over all seas and waters, but he has entrusted 
it for safe keeping to a mountain-bird in the desert. 
This bird is to be found in the desert on a very steep, 
barren hill ; there in a cliff it has bored out a hole, and 
keeps the " Shomir," which was created in the evening 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING OF DEMONS 35 

of the sixth day of creation, before the Sabbath was 
proclaimed.' 

The services of the young hero Benaihu were again 
called into requisition. Solomon addressed the youth 
with his wonted eloquence, referring to the services he 
had rendered in the past, and entertaining no doubt 
of the hero's willingness to render this consummate 
national sersnce of obtaining the ' Shomir,' the reward 
for which his royal master would not bestow niggardly 
or grudgingly. 

Benaihu replied by a profound bow before his majesty, 
and left the palace to prepare at once for his hazardous 
journey. There is no need for details of the hardships 
the young hero had to encounter on his journey, where 
there was not a blade of grass, a drop of water, or a 
shade for shelter from the merciless rays of the scorching 
sun, nor is it necessary to relate all his adventures, and 
all the subtle designs adopted to wrest the ' Shomir ' 
from its guard. Suffice it to say that the hardships and 
adventures of our hero were rewarded by success, and 
the ' Shomir ' was at last in Jerusalem. Needless to 
say, there was great joy and festivity in the Holy 
City, and the work (which lasted seven years) now 
began in earnest, that of erecting, without iron or any 
other metal, a structure for the worship of the God of 
Israel — a structure which was the admiration of the 
world, and which has never been equalled in majesty 
and splendour. 

Ashniedai, the mighty king of demons, was all these 
years held captive by Solomon in Jerusalem. He was 
very desirous to be informed by the chief of the demons 
concerning the mystic spheres, but during the building 
of the Temple he was too much occupied with the 
sacred business to be able to spare time for anything 
else. After the consecration of the holy edifice, Solomon 
had Ashmedai brought before him, and explained the 
reason of his prolonged captivity, requesting him at the 



36 THE MIDRASH 

same time, first of all, to explain to him his inexpHcable 
conduct whilst on the way to Jerusalem. ' What, for 
instance, prompted you to guide the blind man into 
safety, when he was entangled in a bush ? Surely it 
could not have been compassion, a virtue to which a 
demon is a stranger ? ' Ashmedai replied, ' That blind 
man is a most pious and righteous man, and I heard it 
proclaimed in the higher spheres that great reward 
should be his who should render that man a ser- 
vice.' 

' And why did you lead the drunken man into the 
road away from the precipice into which he was walk- 
ing ? ' * That man,' said Ashmedai, ' is very wicked, 
and if he deserves any reward for ever having done 
anything but evil, he should receive it here on earth.' 
' And what provoked your laughter when you heard a 
man inquire for boots to last him seven years ? ' 
' Simply,' said the master of demons, ' that the man 
had but seven days more on earth.' ' Why did you 
weep on meeting a bridal party with their music ? ' 
' Mighty King of Israel,' exclaimed Ashmedai, ' this 
very moment the last shred of flesh is gnawed off the 
bones of that bridegroom ; he died five days after I 
met the wedding party.' ' Last of all,' demanded 
Solomon, ' what was the cause of your laughter on 
seeing the wizard with the people who consulted him ? ' 
' Why should I not laugh when I saw a stupid person 
who professed to remove the veil of the hidden future, 
whilst he knew not that under the stone on which he 
was sitting there was hidden a kingly treasure ? ' ^ 



> Demons resembk man in these respects, they eat and drink, 
are fruitful and multiply, and die. But they also somewhat 
resemble angels in so far as they have wings, flying to and 
fro all the world over like angels, and knowing a little of the 
secrets of the higher spheres — not quite as much as angels, but 
generally the fate of men is known to them. Talmud. Chagiga 
4t. Hence Ashmedai knew the fate of those he met on his 
way to Jerusalem. 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING OF DEMONS 37 

King Solomon now intimated by a gesture that he 
wished to be left alone with the king of the demons, 
and all his counsellors, ministers, and high officials 
surrounding his throne left the palatial room. When 
the king was alone with Ashmedai he addressed him as 
follows : ' The fact that I carefully excluded all my 
advisers from hearing what there is between us will 
have shown you that I have an important matter upon 
which I crave information from you. I therefore want 
you, Ashmedai, whose power is infinitely above mine, 
because you know what is going on in the higher as 
well as in the lower spheres, to tell me my own future.' 
Ashmedai betrayed a satirical smile and said, 'It is 
perhaps not to be wondered at that a monarch as wise 
and mighty on earth as you are, who has acquired 
almost all the knowledge that it is possible for a mortal 
man to possess, should long for knowledge of the super- 
natural from the region of the unseen ; but I must advise 
you to desist from this ambition : it will not be of any 
use or pleasure to you.' ' No,' insisted Solomon, 
' nothing will induce me to abstain from increasing my 
knowledge, for it is that, and not silver or gold, that I 
have set my heart upon.' ' If my advice is to no 
purpose,' said Ashmedai, ' I will proceed to open for 
you the hidden secrets, but it will be necessary to release 
me from the chain I had put round me when I was made 
captive, and you will, instead, have to give me the chain 
that adorns your majesty's neck, and the ring with the 
name of God on it, which lies on the table before 
you.' 

Solomon did as suggested, took off his chain and jiut 
it on Ashmedai's neck, and placed the ring on his hand. 
Scarcely had the master of the demons closed his hand 
on the ring handed him by Solomon when a thunder 
clap passed through the room which made the whole 
place vibrate. At the same moment Ashmedai seemed 
to have grown into a terrible giant, his eyes looked 



38 THE MIDRASH 

like two great gleaming fires, his arms extended to 
enormous proportions, and looked as though they would 
catch hold of the extreme ends of the earth. Solomon 
trembled at the sight, his heart seemed to stand still 
from terror, and he was about to call for help ; but his 
whole body was paralysed, his tongue refused its duty, 
and in the midst of this he was seized by Ashmedai by 
arm and neck and thrown into the air, and he became 
senseless. The men who had quitted the throne room 
at King Solomon's bidding were all the time impatiently 
awaiting the summons back to their king and master, 
but they remained in the ante-room longer than they 
ever had to wait, when at last they received the glad 
tidings, and the monarch summoned them to his pre- 
sence. They found, on entering the throne room, King 
Solomon sitting as usual on his throne. They expressed 
their surprise at the absence of Ashmedai, whom they 
had left in the room on retiring, but no answer was 
vouchsafed to them. The king, however, took up the 
thread of conversation on the subject upon which he 
was consulting when they retired from the room. Yet 
they detected a marked change in the tone of the king's 
words, which lacked that mildness and gentleness for 
which the wise Solomon was so renowned. 

Some of the ministers ventured to ask his majesty 
for the reason of this change, but, instead of a reply, 
they received a sardonic laugh. It occurred to some of 
the wise men that this might not be King Solomon, but 
Ashmedai, the king of demons, who usurped their 
monarch's position ; but who could give expression to 
that dreadful thought ? 

King Solomon had been thrown by Ashmedai no less 
a distance than four hundred miles from Jerusalem. 
For a long time he laj^ in the open field, unconscious ; 
as consciousness returned and he opened his eyes, he 
took in the situation, but happily his wisdom had not 
failed, amongst his other great qualities, to bestow on 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING 01- DEMONS 39 

him the habit of practising abstinence in the midst of 
his splendour, and he occasionally used to subject 
himself to actual hunger, and deprive himself of the 
necessaries of life, so as to cultivate the habit of wanting 
things and not having them. 

He now made up his mind to face his great calamity 
in the best way possible, and resolved that, if need 
were, he would be bent, but not broken totally by it. 
As a beggar he traversed the land over which he had 
ruled with such splendour and power, and he was often 
thrown on the mercy of one of his humblest subjects. 
Yet in the midst of this great sorrow he proclaimed 
himself, wherever he came, the great ' Koheleth,' King 
of Jerusalem. 

No wonder that he was everywhere looked upon as 
insane ! But he struggled hard to make his way to 
Jerusalem, which he eventually reached, and on his 
arrival at his metropolis he asked to be brought before 
the Sanhedrin. He repeated to the Sanhedrin his as- 
sertion that he was King Solomon, and related to them 
all the events that had happened to him. His state- 
ment was received by the Sanhedrin, if not with de- 
rision, still, with great mistrust and incredulit}', and 
they were about to declare him insane, when one of 
the Sanhedrin, wiser and bolder than the others, rose 
and spoke as follows : ' Friends and worthy colleagues, 
whom the Lord has graced with wisdom and understand- 
ing, it will not be difficult for you to comprehend that 
any one afflicted with insanity would not be able to 
make so coherent a statement as we have now heard, 
but would wander about in his assertions incoherently 
from one subject to another. Now, this man who 
asserts himself to be King Solomon, has not spoken one 
incoherent word, and has given no indication of his 
insanity, except his assertion in general that he is the 
gre^t king our master, and that assertion he made 
coherently enough. Besides this, there is no reason 



40 THE MIDRASH 

whatever, either in his demeanour, gesture or speech, 
to condemn him as insane. Would it be consistent 
with justice, as shown to us by our Great Lawgiver, 
to conclude that this man is insane, simply because he 
claims the throne as his own, without further investi- 
gation as to who is the one who now occupies the throne 
as King Solomon ? Moreover, can we overlook the 
fact that when we left the throne room there were two 
individuals, and when we returned one had disappeared, 
without our being able to comprehend how that hap- 
pened ? My advice is, that we request Topos, one of 
King Solomon's many wives, that when the present 
king pays her a visit, she may notice his feet,^ and then 
on her report on this you can form your judgment in 
this matter.' The Sanhedrin fell in with this sugges- 
tion, and when they appealed to Topos, she reported 
that the king, her husband, never entered her chamber 
without a cover over his feet. The Sanhedrin requested 
her to try and remove the covering from her husband's 
feet at the next opportunity. Topos did as requested 
by the Sanhedrin, and reported that, to her amazement 
and disgust, she found her husband's feet to resemble 
those of a cock. 

The Sanhedrin were now concerned to have Ashmedai 
stripped of the chain and the ring by which he had subtly 
obtained the throne from King Solomon. In this they 
succeeded through a confidential servant of the demon, 
and these precious and holy things were handed over 
to the rightful owner, the real King Solomon, who now 
re-entered upon his glorious throne. The wise king 
had the chief of the demons brought before him, and 
exhibited to him the chain and the ring. The demon, 
amidst a peal of thunder, made his escape from the 
palace, and was seen no more. 

Solomon was again in his former greatness, but was 

1 The Rabbis say that the feet of demons resemble those of 
a cock. 



ASHMEDAI, THE KING OF DEMONS 4I 

till the end of his days in terror of demons ; hence he 
had sixty of the most valiant men of his army surround- 
ing his bed. — Midr. Rabba Gen. 7 and 36 ; Exod. 30 ; 
Num. 5 and 11 ; Lament. 3 ; Ruth, Eccles., and Song 
of Songs, and Midr. Tanchuma Emmor and Midr. 
Psalms 78. 



MESSIAH 

Of the six things which existed before creation, when 
only ' the spirit of God moved upon the face of the 
waters,' two, the Torah and the throne of God, were 
complete in every detail. The remaining four, however, 
viz., the Patriarchs, Israel, the Temple, and the name 
of Messiah, existed prior to the creation only in an 
incomplete form. — Gen. Rabba i. 

From the time of creation constant reference is made 
in Holy Writ to Messiah and the Messianic hope of 
Israel. ' The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the 
waters ' ; the Spirit of God means Messiah. — Gen. Rabba 
2 ; also Levit. Rabba 14. 

When Eve at the birth of Seth exclaimed, ' God hath 
appointed me another seed.' her underlying thought was 
the King Messiah. — Gen. Rabba 23. 

He who knows how long the Israelites worshipped 
idols can learn therefrom when the Son of David — 
Messiah— will come. Three different prophets tell us 
this : (i) ' Like as you have forsaken Me, and served 
strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in 
a land that is not yours ' (Jer. 5. 19) ; (2) ' And I will 
visit her the days of Baahm,' etc., (Hos. 2. 13); (3) ' Yea, 
they made their hearts as an adamant stone lest they 
should hear the law, and the words which the Lord hath 
sent in his spirit by the prophets. Therefore it is come 
to pass that as he cried and they would not hear, so 
they cried and I would not hear, saith the Lord ' (Zech. 
7. 12, 13). — Lament. Rabba i. 

The great mountain spoken of by the prophet 



MESSIAH 43 

Zechariah (4. 7) is no other than Messiah, Son of David, 
and he is called ' the Great Mountain,' because lie 
towers above the Patriarchs, is greater than Moses, and 
is above the ministering angels. As Isaiah says {52. 10), 
' Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be 
exalted and extolled and be very high.' — Midr. Tan- 
chuma Toldos. 

The word "Jlin (Hadrach), used by the prophet 
Zechariah (9.1), is one of the titles of Messiah. It is 
connected with the word ITT (leading), and is therefore 
applied to him who will lead man to repentance. — 
Midr. Song of Songs 7. 

The ' four carpenters ' to whom the prophet also 
refers, are Elijah, Melchizedek, the Messiah of war, 
called by some Messiah son of Joseph, and the true 
Messiah. These Messiahs are referred to in the 32nd 
chapter of Isaiah, and their existence is constantly 
mentioned. Seven or eight Messiahs are sometimes 
said to be promised in the words of the Prophet Micah 
(5- 5)> ' Then shall we raise against him seven shepherds 
and eight principal men,' but it is held that there will 
be but four (Zech. i. 20), and these are they : Elijah 
the Tishbite, an unnamed man of the tribe of Manasseh, 
Messiah of war — an Ephraimite, and Messiah the Great, 
the descendant of David. — Midr. Song of Songs 2. 

Two of King David's descendants were destined for 
universal dominion : King Solomon and King Messiah, 
to whom David refers in his seventy-second Psalm. — 
Numb. Rabba 13. 

The whole of the 27th chajiter of Isaiah refers to the 
Messiah. — Exod. Rabba i. 

Solomon's Song has also reference to Messiah. ' The 
voice of the turtle is heard in our land ' means the voice 
of Messiah. — Midr. Song of Songs 2. 

When King Solomon speaks of his ' beloved,' he 
usually means Israel the nation. In one instance he 
compares his beloved to a roe, ar.d therein he refers 



44 THE MIDRASH 

to a feature which marks alike Moses and the Messiah, 
the two redeemers of Israel. Just as a roe comes 
within the range of man's vision only to disappear from 
sight and then appear again, so it is with these re- 
deemers. Moses appeared to the Israelites, then 
disappeared, and eventually appeared once more, and 
the same peculiarity we have in connexion with 
Messiah ; He will appear, disappear, and appear again. 
— Numb. Rabba ii. 

The fourteenth verse in the second chapter of Ruth 
is thus explained. ' Come thou hither ' is the predic- 
tion of Messiah's kingdom. ' Dip the morsel in the 
vinegar,' foretells the agony through which Messiah 
will pass, as it is written in Isaiah (cap. 53.), ' He was 
wounded for our sins, He was bruised for our trans- 
gressions.' ' And she set herself beside the reapers ' 
predicts the temporary departure of Messiah's king- 
dom. ' And he reached her a parched corn ' means the 
restoration of His kingdom. — Midr. Ruth 5. 

To three individuals God said, ' Ask, and it shall be 
given to thee.' These are Solomon, Ahaz, and Messiah, 
to the last of whom it was promised, ' Ask of Me, and 
I shall give Thee the heathens for Thine inheritance.' — 
Gen. Rabba 44. 

In a similar strain we read, Israel is to overcome ten 
of the heathen nations of the world ; seven of them 
have already been conquered ; the remaining three will 
fall at the advent of Messiah. — Gen. Rabba 44. But, 
despite all this, Messiah will not come till all those who 
are to be created have made their appearance in the 
world. — Gen. Rabba 24. 

In tracing the descent and history of the Israelites, 
the Bible enumerates the generations of the heads of 
the families of the earth whose history touched that of 
the chosen people. ' These are the generations of the 
heavens and the earth ' is the first instance of the use 
of the word Jin'?")D in such a connexion. If regard 



MESSIAH 45 

be had to the Hebrew text of the verse, it will be found 
that here the word referred to is written in full, i.e. 
spelt Jin"?"!/!, with the additional \ whilst in all other 
places whore the word occurs the word is always spelt 
with one "I, thus, mi':'/!. This, it will be found, is the 
invariable usage until we come to, ' Now these are the 
generations of Perez ' (Ruth 4. 18). Here we once 
again find the word nn"?!/! spelt in full. These are 
the only two instances in the whole of the Bible. The 
first refers to the time before the sin and fall of Adam, 
which brought death into the world, and, in consequence, 
all succeeding mi'^n, ' generations,' were deprived of 
some of the possibiHtics of life, and this is indicated 
by the omission of the 1. But the enumeration of the 
descendants of Perez, bringing appreciably nearer the 
promised aboHtion of death through the agency of his 
descendant, the Messiah, is hailed as the occasion to 
celebrate the restoration to perfect man of what he 
had lost through the imperfection of the first of his 
kind, and hence the word Jin'^in is here spelt in full. — 
Exod. Rabba 30. 

A similar deduction is made with reference to the 
spelling of the word Dm/li? ' he-goats.' Each of the 
princes of Israel brought as a sacrifice at the dedication 
of the tabernacle five he-goats. This word is spelt 
without the 1, thus, Dn/li^, in all the numerous 
repetitions of the details of the offerings, which are 
identically the same in all instances. There is but one 
exception, and that is (Numb. 7. 17) in the account of 
the offerings brought by Nachshon, son of Aminadab, 
because from him were to spring six (the numerical 
value of 1) of the great men of Israel, who were each to 
be distinguished by six special attributes. The Messiah 
and his ancestor David are among the six, and Isaiah 
thus enumerates the six distinguishing traits in the 
character of the descendant of Jesse, whose coming he 
foretells. ' And there shall rest upon him (i) the 



46 THE MIDRASH 

Spirit of the Lord, (2) the Spirit of wisdom and under- 
standing, (3) the Spirit of counsel, (4) and might, (5) the 
Spirit of knowledge, and (6) the Spirit of the Lord.' — 
Numb. Rabba 13. 

Abraham, Job, Hezekiah, and Messiah found God out 
for themselves without being previously instructed. — 
Numb. Rabba 14. 

The great gifts of God, of which Adam was deprived 
by reason of his sin and fall — light being one of them — 
will all be restored through Messiah, who will appear 
from the North and rebuild the Temple in the South. — 
Numb. Rabba 13. 

The prophecy of Isaiah concerning Jerusalem, ' Be- 
hold, thy sons shall come from afar and thy daughters 
shall be nursed by thy side,' could not be hailed with 
the same satisfaction as the words of Zechariah, ' Be- 
hold, thy King cometh unto thee ; he is just and having 
salvation, lonely and riding upon an ass.' This latter 
prophecy will bring it about that the daughter of Zion 
shall greatly rejoice in the Lord, her soul shall be joyful 
in her God. — Midr. Song of Songs i. 

So greatly shall Zion rejoice and so glorious will be 
the restoration of the Temple service in the days of 
Messiah, that three additional strings will be required 
besides the seven that were formerly upon the harps 
used by the Levites. In this way only will it be possible 
for the whole people to give expression to the depths 
of reverence for their God that shall then stir their 
hearts. — Numb. Rabba 15. and Tanchuma Behaloscho. 

It was indeed pre-ordained that Jerusalem should be 
lost to the Israelites, but only until the coming of him 
concerning whom it was said, ' Rejoice greatly, O 
daughter of Zion.' — Gen. Rabba 56. 

And so the destruction of Jerusalem is to be looked 
upon as an event bringing joy in its train rather than 
as an irreparable loss or sorrow, for through it the 
coming of the Messiah and consequent expiation of 



MESSIAH 47 

Israel's sin were rendered possible. For, just as all 
sacrifices were formerly brought to Jenisalem, so in 
future shall messengers come with offerings to Messiah, 
and all kings sliall prostrate themselves before him. — 
Midr. Esther i. 

As you brought Me the perpetual light in the Temple, 
says God unto Israel, so will I bring unto you Him, 
Messiah, who is the personification of light, ' the sun of 
righteousness ' promised through Malachi. — Midr. Tan- 
chuma Tetzava. 

Our father Abraham, by his meritorious life, won for 
himself the blessing. ' Tell the stars, if thou art able 
to number them,' He said unto him ; ' so shall be thy 
children.' Isaac's ready compliance with God's de- 
mand to sacrifice his life evoked the promise, ' I will 
multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven.' Jacob was 
heartened with the prospect, ' And thy seed shall be as 
the dust of the earth.' That which God promised to 
Abraham He has already fulfilled in that Moses was 
able to address to his people the words, ' The Lord 
your God hath multiplied you, and behold, you are this 
day as the stars of heaven for multitude.' 

Balaam was constrained to acknowledge the impossi- 
bility of ' counting the dust of Jacob,' and it might 
seem as if the prophet Hosea looked fonvard to the 
speedy reahzation of the promise made to Isaac when 
he gave utterance to the sentiment, ' Yet the number 
of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, 
which cannot be measured or numbered.' The fulfil- 
ment, however, will not come about until the time of 
the Messiah, when the heathen shall be altogether 
absorbed and God will pour out His Spirit upon all 
flesh. — Numb. Rabba 2. 

The honour and majesty with which David tells us 
(Ps. 104.) that God is clothed, He will bestow on Messiah. 
As it is said, ' His glory is great in Thy salvation, honour 
and majesty hast Thou laid upon Him.' — Numb. Rab- 
ba 14. 



48 THE MIDRASH 

Seeing in his spirit of prophecy that the time would 
come when the ]Dti^Q, ' Mishkan ' (the Sanctuary) would 
cease to exist and the Shechinah dwell no more in 
Israel's midst, Moses was anxious to know by what 
means the sins of his people would then be expiated. 
The Almighty vouchsafed the information that He 
would choose a righteous man from their midst, and 
make him a ]21*f2 (pledge) for them, and through 
him their sins would be forgiven. — Exod. Rabba 35. 

The prophets formerly recorded the good deeds 
performed by man, but now Elijah and Messiah record 
them and God puts His seal on the record. — Levit. 
Rabba 34. 

' Fear not, Abraham ; I am thy shield and thine 
exceeding great reward,' refers to the glorious epoch 
of Messiah. The Patriarch was apprehensive lest the 
covenant made with him might not prove lasting 
because of the sins of his descendants. God here gave 
him the assurance that, though his descendants fall 
into sin, there shall be one great and noble amongst 
them, who will be qualified to say to the avenging 
angel, ' Stay thy hand.' ' Him will I accept and he 
shall be a pledge for my people.' — Midr. Song of Songs i. 

' The sceptre shall not depart from Judah nor a 
lawgiver from between his feet until " Shiloh " come,' 
refers also to Messiah, who is to enlighten Israel on the 
words of the Torah, and point out the errors of the 
people. Rabbi Chanan, on the other hand, holds that 
the teaching of Messiah will not be addressed to Israel, 
whose knowledge of the law of God will be all-sufficient. 
Rather will his task be to instruct the Gentiles : in the 
words of the prophet Isaiah (11. 10), ' To him shall 
the Gentiles seek, and he shall assemble the outcast of 
Israel.' — Gen. Rabba 98. 

The faithful of Israel are desirous of sepulture in the 
land of Palestine because, at the advent of Messiah, the 
resurrection will take place there before any other part 



MESSIAH 49 

of the world, but that will be the resurrection of the 
righteous only. — Gen. Rabba 96. 

The general resurrection of the dead is appointed for 
the day of judgment, and when it takes place the 
revived souls will sing angelic songs. — Midr. Eccles. i. 

The death of the righteous is even like the Day of 
Atonement, in that each secures forgiveness for the 
sins of Israel. — Levit. Rabba 20. 

A time has been appointed by God for the coming of 
Messiah. Yet if Israel but repent his sins, the glorious 
redemption will be hastened, and Messiah will make His 
appearance before the appointed time. — Exod. Rabba 25. 

Great indeed will be the time of the approaching 
advent of Messiah. The wicked will be trodden dow^n 
as ashes under the feet of the righteous, the trees will 
send forth their fragrance, and concerning the righteous 
it will be said, ' He that is left in Zion and he that 
remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy.' 

The seven years preceding the coming of the Son of 
David will be distinguished by the following signs : 
The first year rain will be scarce and partial ; in the 
second year pangs of hunger will be felt ; during the 
third year a severe famine will be experienced, and 
many human beings will die ; men of renown and piety 
will jierish, so that the Torah will be forgotten in Israel. 
This famine will be the last of the ten predestined for the 
world ; the other nine occurred during the lives of 
Adam, Lemech, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, Ehsha, 
the Judges, and King David. The fourth year will be 
marked neither by famine nor by plenty, but the fifth 
year will be one of prosperity, when the earth will bring 
forth abundance. There will then be joy in all parts 
of the earth, and a revival of study and knowledge of 
the Torah will be noticeable in the ranks of Israel. The 
sixth year will be full of rumours of war, and the 
seventh year will see the actual dread visitation of war. 
After all these signs have come to j)ass, at the end of 

£ 



50 THE MIDRASH 

the seventh year, the Son of David will make His 
appearance. According to other opinions, prior to the 
coming of Messiah the world will be terribly corrupt ; 
there will be no compassion amongst men, great derision 
and contempt for the Torah and for piety will be uni- 
versal, and truth will be almost unknown. Men will be 
as shameless of their evil doings as the very animals, 
and the few righteous who still exist will be in exceeding 
great distress. Persecution will be rife everywhere, the 
youth will have no respect for the aged, so that the 
aged will even rise before the presence of the young. 
The daughter will rebel against her mother, and a man's 
worst enemies will be those of his own household. The 
reigning powers will become infidel, and none will be 
found to raise his voice in protest, so that mankind 
will seem to merit nought but extermination. If, there- 
fore, we behold the generations becoming ever more 
corrupt, there is therein good reason to anticipate the 
advent of Messiah. — Midr. Song of Songs 2. 

The nDli (' Zemach '), mentioned by Jeremiah (23. 5) 
and by Zechariah (6. 12) is the Messiah. — Numb. Rabba 
18. 

Unlike the kings of this earth, God bestows some of 
His possessions and dignities upon beings of flesh and 
blood. He set Solomon upon His own throne (i Chron, 
29. 23). He caused Elijah to ride upon His own horse ; 
that is to say, upon the storm and whirlwind. To 
Moses He gave God's rod, and upon the head of Messiah 
He placed His own crown. — Exod. Rabba 8. and 
Tanchuma Voera. 

Many and varied are the things that in the Bible are 
designated ' the first.' The month of the Egyptian 
exodus God named the first month of the year (Exod. 
12. 2). He revealed Himself as ' the first ' to the 
prophet Isaiah (44. 6). Zion, too, is styled ' the first ' 
(Jer. 17). Of Esau also the epithet is used (Gen. 25.) 
And, lastly, Messiah is mentioned as ' the first ' (Isa. 



MESSIAH 51 

41. 27). There is this intimate connexion between 
thcni, that God, who is the lirst, will rebuild Zion the 
first, and bring retribution on Esau ( = Romc), known 
as the first, at the time of the advent of Messiah the first, 
in the month {=Nissan) which was appointed as the 
first. — Exod. Rabba 15. 

Five things brought about the redemption of the 
Israelites from Egypt : (i) The sufferings of the people ; 
(2) their repentance ; (3) the merits of their ancestors ; 

(4) the expiration of the time fixed for their captivity ; 

(5) the mercy of their God. These same causes will 
operate towards the realization of Israel's Messianic 
hopes and lead to the last redemption through Messiah. 
— Deut. Rabba 2. 

There will be a great difference between the Egyptian 
and the last redemption. ' When you were delivered 
from Egypt,' says God to Israel, ' you had to depart 
in haste ; at the last deliverance you shall not go in 
haste nor by flight, (Isa. 52. 12). At the Egyptian 
deliverance I, in my manifestation, went before you 
(Exod. 13. 21). At the last deliverance ' the Lord will 
go before you and the God of Israel will be your reward.' 
(Isa. 52. 12). — Exod. Rabba ig. 

' All your former redemptions,' God says to Israel, 
* have been accomplished through the instrumentality 
of men, and were, consequently, not lasting in their 
effect. You were delivered from Egypt through Moses 
and Aaron ; you were rescued out of the hands of 
Sisera by Deborah and Barak ; from the power of 
Midian you were saved by Shamgar. I myself will be 
your last and your everlasting Redeemer.' — Tanchuma 
Achray. 

Great chariots, precious stones and other valuable 
gifts will the nations bring to Messiah. This means 
that the nations will bring Israel as a present to Messiah. 
— Midr. Song of Songs 4. 

Just as Juilali, though not the eldest, hail always 



52 THE MIDRASH 

precedence of Reuben and the other tribes (as is to be 
seen in various parts of the Bible — Numbers 2. 3, 2. 9, 
7. 12 ; Judges i. 2, 20. 18), so he will have precedence 
in announcing the coming of Messiah, as foretold by 
the prophet Nahum (i. 15). — Numb. Rabba 2. 

To Judah were revealed all the great men and what 
will happen to them from the time of Jacob till the 
coming of Messiah. — Numb. Rabba 13, 

The perpetual light in the Mishkan was typical of the 
light of King Messiah. — Levit. Rabba 31. 

All the gifts which Jacob felt himself constrained — 
out of fear — to present to Esau, will be restored to Israel 
at the advent of Messiah. — Gen. Rabba 75. 

Moses, the first redeemer, rode on an ass, gave the 
Israelites manna for food, and brought up the water. 
So also shall Messiah be seen riding on an ass (Zech. 9), 
shall bring down manna from on high (Ps. 70. 16), and 
cause the rivers of Judah to flow with water (Joel 4. 18). 
— Midr. Eccles. i. 

' The envy of Ephraim shall depart and the adver- 
saries of Judah shall be cut off ' (Isa. 11. 13). That 
means that amongst the Jews themselves, at the time 
of Messiah, there will be perfect peace and harmony. — 
Tanchuma Vayeegash. 

There is no redemption without faith. — Tanchuma 
Beshallach. 

Three things Israel despised, viz., the kingdom of 
heaven, the kingdom of the house of David, and the 
Temple, and God withholds His blessings from them till 
they mend their ways in these things. That they will 
do so the prophet Hosea (3. 5) tells us. ' Afterwards 
shall the children of Israel return and seek their God ' 
means that they will again accept the kingdom of 
heaven, ' and David their king ' obviously means the 
formerly rejected House of David, ' and shall fear the 
Eternal and his goodness ' refers to the Temple. — Midr. 
Samuel 13. 



MESSIAH 53 

Messiah will be asked which place He selects as His 
residence. His reply will be, ' Need you ask Me ? 
Surely Zion, my holy mountain.' — Midr. Samuel 19. 

Amongst the various names of Messiah, who was born 
on the day on which the Temple was destroyed, is that 
of "^hi^D;; p DH^D (Menachem ben Amiel). — Numb. 
Rabba 13. 

The proper name of Messiah is IJplii 'n (the Lord 
our righteousness). — Midr. Lament, i. 



It is neither desirable nor consistent with the teach- 
ings of Judaism, or with present day sentiment, to make 
attacks or adverse reflections on any rehgious creed. 
But, while disclaiming any desire to provoke theological 
controversy, or to accentuate religious differences, I 
should like to append a few observations to this collec- 
tion of excerpts from the Midrash on the subject of 
Messiah. 

What impels me to do this is the existence of organiza- 
tions for the conversion of the Jews to Christianity, and 
the possibihty of attempts being made to make capital 
out of some of the Rabbinic passages which I have 
cited. 

It has been my privilege to come into contact with 
many Christian clergymen, both in England and in the 
Cape Colony, during more than forty years, and I have 
reason to know, and am glad to acknowledge, that there 
could not be a body of men more learned and pious, 
and more free from religious rancour and intolerance. 
My own experience has abundantly proved that it is 
possible for sincere Jews and Christians to associate 
on terms of friendship and mutual respect, and that no 
friction need arise from their differences of opinion on 
certain matters. But, at the same time, these differ- 
ences do exist ; and if a Jew refuses to adopt Christianity 
on the strength of arguments drawn from Jewish 
writings, he must be prepared to justify his attitude. 
I will therefore touch very briefly on one or two of the 



MESSIAH 55 

arguments brought forward in support of the belief in 
Jesus as the Messiah. 

The prophetic utterances which Christians quote as 
foreshadowing the coming of Messiah are quoted re- 
])catedly by the Rabbis, and, in my opinion, have been 
largely borrowed by Christians from that source. 
These prophecies cannot be assumed without further 
proof to refer to the founder of Christianity. 

I do not wish to go into the question whether the 
term ' Messiah ' means an epoch of time or a personal 
Messiah — a matter on which Jews are by no means 
unanimous. 

But it must be apparent to every thinking and 
unbiassed mind that not one of the prophetic utterances 
and predictions or of the Midrashic sayings can apply to 
the founder of Christianity any more than to the other 
numerous claimants to the Messianic dignity who have 
appeared from time to time. Jesus of Nazareth, no 
less than the other claimants, utterly failed to answer 
to the description of the Messiah in the prophets, and 
to accomplish the work which the prophets predicted. 

One has but to glance at the present condition of the 
world — not the heathen, but the Christian world — after 
more than nineteen hundred years from the supposed 
advent of the Messiah ; one has but to obsen'e how 
anxious, for instance, nations are to convert their 
Krupp guns into ploughshares and their machine guns 
into pruning hooks. One has but, amongst very many 
other things, to consider the peace on earth which now 
exists throughout the world ! I would also remind 
those who see in the name 1jpi2{ 'H as applied 
to Messiah, a convincing proof of the divinity of Jesus, 
that Jerusalem is also called •i:pi:i 'H (Jer. 33. 16). 
In a similar way, the altar which Moses erected — in com- 
memoration of his victory over Amalek — he dignified 
by naming it ^D2 TT (Exod. 17. 15). 

And there is, in my humble opinion, amongst other 



56 THE MIDRASH 

arguments, one argument against the belief in Jesus as 
the Messiah, which is unanswerable. 

The Messiah, according to all who believe in a personal 
Messiah, Jews and Christians alike, is to be a descendant 
of David. Now, according to Christianity, Jesus, the 
son — though not the only son — of Mary, was the off- 
spring of immaculate conception, and had no earthly 
father from whom to take his pedigree. Even assuming 
that (as some of my Christian friends assert, but without 
proof) Mary was a descendant of David, that would not 
make Jesus a descendant, because pedigrees are reckoned 
from the father's, and not the mother's, side. God 
being the Father of Jesus, and God not being a descend- 
ant of King David, it follows that Jesus, His alleged 
son, cannot be King David's descendant. 

In support of my argument I may state that in the 
first four chapters of Numbers, the words D/lirrBIi^D'? 
DniJ^ D'^2'7 ' After their families by the house of their 
fathers,' occur more than twenty times. There is not 
in the whole range of Holy Writ an instance where we 
find a phrase repeated so many times in so short a space. 

And this tends to show Moses' anxiety to impress us 
with the fact that descent is to be reckoned on the 
father's side. On his father's side Jesus is not a scion 
of David, and consequently he cannot be the Messiah. 



GENESIS RABBA 

It is forbidden to inquire what existed before creation, 
as Moses distinctly tells us (Deut. 4. 32) : ' Ask now of 
the days that are past which were before thee, since the 
day God created man upon earth.' Thus the scope of 
inquiry is limited to the time since the Creation. — Gen. 
Rabba i. 

The unity of God is at once set before us in the history 
of creation, where we are told He, not they, created. — 
Gen. Rabba i. 

The Torah was to God, when He created the world, 
what the plan is to an architect when he erects a build- 
ing. — Gen. Rabba i. 

The ' l^' being the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet, 
demurred at her place being usurped by the letter 2, 
which is second to her, at the creation ; the history of 
which commences with the latter instead of with the 
former. She was, however, quite satisfied when told 
that in the history of giving the Decalogue, she w^ould 
be placed at the beginning in the word 02M, for the 
world has only been created on account of the Torah, 
which, indeed, e.xisted anterior to creation ; and had 
the Creator not foreseen that Israel would consent to 
receive and diffuse the Torah, creation would not have 
taken place. — Gen. Rabba i. 

There is a difference of opinion as to the day on 
which angels were created ; one authority decides for 
the second day, on the ground that they are mentioned 
in connexion with water (Ps. 104. 3, 4), which was 



58 THE MIDRASH 

created on that day ; while another, arguing from the fact 
that they are said to fly (Isa. 6.), assigns their creation 
to the fifth day, on which aU other flying things were 
created. But all authorities are agreed that they did 
not exist on the iirst day of creation, so that sceptics 
cannot say that they were helpers in the work of creation. 
— Gen. Rabba i. 

The title of an earthly king precedes his name, for 
instance, Emperor Augustus, etc. Not so was the will 
of the King of kings ; He is only known as God after 
creating heaven and earth. Thus it is not said D^n'^'i'i 
^^-)a (God created), but Q^Tlbik i^l2. ' In the beginning 
created God heavens and earth ' ; He is not mentioned 
as God before He created. — Gen. Rabba i. 

Even the new heavens and earth, spoken of by the 
Prophet Isaiah (65. 17), were created in the six days of 
creation. — Gen. Rabba i. 

When any divergence is found in the Scriptures, it 
must not be thought that it is by mere accident, for it 
is done advisedly. Thus, for instance, we invariably 
find Abraham, Isaac and Jacob ; but once, as an excep- 
tion, Jacob is mentioned before the other Patriarchs 
(Levit. 26. 42). Again, whilst Moses has always pre- 
cedence over Aaron, in one instance we find Aaron's 
name placed before that of Moses (Exod. 6. 26). This 
is also the case with Joshua and Caleb ; whilst the 
former normally precedes the name of Caleb, there is one 
exception (Numb. 14. 30). 

This is to show us that these men were equally beloved 
by God. The same is the case with the love and honour 
due to parents ; whilst the father is as a rule men- 
tioned first in this connexion, once (in Levit. 19. 3) the 
mother is mentioned before the father. This is also 
intended to indicate that children owe the same love 
and honour to the mother as to the father. — Gen. 
Rabba i. 

The man that gloats over another man's disgrace and 



GENESIS RABBA 59 

thinks himself raised in dignity by it, is unworthy of 
future bhss. — Gen. Rabba i. 

Light is mentioned five times in the opening chapter 
of the Bible. This i)oints to the five books of Moses. 
' God said let there be light ' refers to the book of 
Genesis, which enlightens us as to how creation was 
carried out. The words ' And there was light ' bear 
reference to the book of Exodus, which contains the 
history of the transition of Israel from darkness to 
light. ' And God saw the light that it was good ' : this 
alludes to the book of Leviticus, which contains numerous 
statutes. ' And God divided between the light and 
between the darkness ' : this refers to the book of 
Numbers, divided as that book is between the history 
of those who came out of Egypt and that of those who 
w^ere on their way to possess the promised land. ' And 
God called the light day ' : this bears reference to the 
book of Deuteronomy, which is not only a rehearsal of 
the four earlier books, but contains Moses' eloquent 
dying charge to Israel and many laws not mentioned 
in the preceding books. — Gen. Rabba 3. 

' And the earth was without form and void.' There 
seems to be some reason for the earth's despondency, 
as though she was aware of her lot beforehand. This 
may be illustrated by the following parable : A king 
acquired two servants on precisely the same conditions, 
but made a distinction in their treatment. Regarding 
the one, he decreed that she should be fed and main- 
tained at the expense of the king. For the other, he 
decided that she must maintain herself by her .own 
labour. In the same way, the earth was sad because 
she saw that the heavens and the earth were equally 
and at the same time called into being by the same 
' let there be ' or will of God, and yet the heavenly 
bodies feast on and are maintained by Divine Glory ; 
whilst earthly bodies, unless they labour and pro- 
duce their own sustenance, are not sustained. Or, 



6o THE MIDRASH 

again, it is as though the king decreed that the one 
servant should be a constant dweller in his palace, 
whilst the other should be a fugitive and a wanderer ; 
or gave to the one perpetuity or eternity, and to the 
other, death. Thus, the earth knowing — as though by 
inspiration — God's words spoken afterwards to Adam 
(Gen. 3. 17) : ' Cursed is the ground for thy sake, ' 
put on mourning, and thus was ' without form and 
void.' — Gen. Rabba 2. 

In the words ' and there was evening and there was 
morning one day,' the ' one day ' referred to is the Day 
of Atonement — the day of expiation. — Gen. Rabba 2. 

There seems to be a covenant made with the waters 
that whenever the heat is excessive and there is scarcely 
a breath of air moving on land, there is always some 
breeze, however slight, on the waters. — Gen. Rabba 2. 

God knew beforehand that the world would contain 
both righteous and wicked men, and there is an allusion 
to this in the story of creation. * The earth without 
form,' means the wicked, and the words ' and there was 
light ' refers to the righteous. — Gen. Rabba 3. 

Other worlds were created and destroyed ere this 
present one was decided on as a permanent one. — Gen. 
Rabba 3. 

Rain is produced by the condensed effusion of the 
upper firmament. — Gen. Rabba 4. 

' How is it,' asked an inquisitive matron of Rabbi 
Jose, ' that your Scriptures crown every day of creation 
with the words : " And God saw that it was'good," but 
the second day is deprived of this phrase ? ' The Rabbi 
sought to satisfy her by pointing out that at the end 
of the creation it is said : ' And God saw all that He 
had made, and it was exceedingly good,' so that the 
second day shares in this commendation. ' But,' in- 
sisted the matron, ' there is still an unequal division, 
since every day has an additional sixth part of the 
praise, whilst the second day has only the sixth part 



GENESIS RABBA 6l 

without the whole one, which the others liave for them- 
selves.' The sage then mentioned the opinion of Rabbi 
Samuel, that the reason for the omission is to be found 
in the fact that the work begun on the second day was 
not finished before the following (the third) day ; hence 
we find the expression ' it was good ' twice on that day. 
— Gen. Rabba 4. 

Three were accused : Adam, Eve and the Serpent ; 
but four were sentenced, viz., the earth, as well as those 
three. The earth received her sentence as the element 
out of which rebellious and fallen man was formed. — 
Gen. Rabba 5. 

The waters of the various seas are apparently the 
same, but the different taste of the fish coming from 
the various seas seems to contradict this. — Gen. Rabba 5. 

God made a condition with Nature at the Creation, 
that the sea should divide to let the Israelites pass 
through it at the Exodus, and that Nature should alter 
her course when emergency should arise. — Gen. Rabba 5. 

When iron was found, the trees began to tremble, but 
the iron reassured them : ' Let no handle made from 
you enter into anything made from me, and I shall be 
powerless to injure you.' — Gen. Rabba 5. 

The following are God's presents, or free gifts, to the 
world : The Torah (Exod. 31. 18), Light (Gen. i. 17), 
Rain (Levit. 26. 4), Peace (Levit. 26. 6), Salvation 
(Ps. 18. 36), Mercy (Ps. 106. 46). Some add also the 
knowledge of navigation. — Gen. Rabba 6. 

When creation was all but ended, the world with all 
its grandeur and splendour stood out in its glorious 
beauty. There was but one thing wanting to consum- 
mate the marvellous work called into existence by the 
mere ' let there be,' and that was a creature with thought 
and understanding able to behold, reflect and marvel 
on this great handiwork of God, who now sat on His 
Divine Throne surrounded by hosts of angels and 
seraphim singing hymns before Him. 



62 THE MIDRASH 

Then God said, ' Let us make man in our likeness, 
and let there be a creature not only the product of 
earth, but also gifted with heavenly, spiritual elements, 
which will bestow on him reason, intellect and under- 
standing.' Truth then appeared, falling before God's 
throne, and in all humility exclaimed : ' Deign, O God, 
to refrain from calling into being a creature who is beset 
with the vice of lying, who will tread truth under his 
feet.' Peace came forth to support thispetition. 'Where- 
fore, Lord, shall this creature appear on earth, a 
creature so full of strife and contention, to disturb the 
peace and harmony of Thy creation ? He will carry 
the flame of quarrel and ill-will in his trail ; he will 
bring about war and destruction in his eagerness for 
gain and conquest.' 

Whilst they were pleading against the creation of 
man, there was heard, arising from another part of 
the heavens, the soft voice of Charity : ' Sovereign of 
the Universe,' the voice exclaimed, in all its mildness, 
' vouchsafe Thou to create a being in Thy likeness, for 
it will be a noble creature striving to imitate Thy attri- 
butes by its actions. I see man now in Spirit, that 
being with God's breath in his nostrils, seeking to per- 
form his great mission, to do his noble work. I see him 
now in spirit, approaching the humble hut, seeking out 
those who are distressed and wretched to comfort them, 
drying the tears of the afflicted and despondent, raising 
up them that are bowed down in spirit, reaching his 
helping hand to those who are in need of help, speaking 
peace to the heart of the widow, and giving shelter to 
the fatherless. Such a creature cannot fail to be a 
glory to His Maker.' The Creator approved of the 
pleadings of Charity, called man into being, and cast 
Truth down to the earth to flourish there ; as the 
Psalmist says (Ps. 85. 12) : ' Truth shall spring out of 
the earth ; and righteousness shall look down from 
heaven to abide with man ' ; and He dignified Truth 
by making her His own seal. — Gen. Rabba 8. 



GENESIS RABBA 63 

The sun alone without the moon would have sufficed 
for all his purpose, but if he were alone, the primitive 
people might have had some plausible excuse for wor- 
shipping him. So the moon was added, and there is 
less reason for deifying either. — Gen. Rabba 6. 

The progeny of man is reckoned from his father's 
and not from his mother's family. — Gen. Rabba 7. 

' Let us make man.' God may be said to address the 
spiritual and the material elements thus : ' Till now all 
creatures have been of matter only ; now I will create 
a being who shall consist of both matter and spirit.' — 
Gen. Rabba 8. 

' In our form, in our likeness.' ' Hitherto there was 
but one such creature ; I have now added to him 
another who was taken from him. They shall both be 
in our form and likeness ; there shall be no man without 
a woman and no woman without a man, and no man 
and woman together without God.' Thus in the words 
^VVi^^ Wik {' man and woman ') there is the word H', 
(God).— Gen. Rabba 8. 

If they are unworthy the ^ from the word Wi^ and 
the n from nWi^ is taken away, and thus n^ God, 
departs and there are left the words Wik") li'N^" fire and 
fire." 

Adam was created with two bodies, one of which was 
cut away from him and formed Eve. — Gen. Rabba 8. 

If man had been created out of spiritual elements 
only there could be no death for him, in the event of 
his fall. If, on the other hand, he had been created 
out of matter only, there could be no future bliss for 
him. Hence he was formed out of matter and spirit. 
If he lives the earthly, i.e. the animal life only, he dies 
like all matter ; if he lives a spiritual life, he obtains 
the spiritual future bliss. — Gen. Rabba 8. 

Michael and Gabriel acted as ' best men ' at the 
nuptials of Adam and Eve. God joined them in wed- 
lock, and pronounced the mnrriage benediction on them. 
— Gen. Rabba 8. 



64 THE MIDRASH 

Rabbi Meier wrote a rTTlJl 13D (scroll) for his own use, 
on the margin of which he wrote, in connexion with the 
words : ' And God saw that it was good,' ' This means 
death, which is the passing from life transitory to life 
everlasting.' — Gen. Rabba 9. 

God knows our thoughts before they are formed. — 
Gen. Rabba 9. 

There is a limit to everything except to the greatness 
and depth of the Torah. — Gen. Rabba 10. 

After destroying Jerusalem and the Temple, plunder- 
ing all its valuables and doing much what he hked, 
Titus became intoxicated with his success and indulged 
in gross blasphemy. ' It is all very well,' he said, * for 
the God of the Jews to conquer kings of the desert, but 
I attacked Him in His very palace and prevailed against 
Him.' When he was on his return voyage to Rome, 
with the booty robbed from the Temple, a great tempest 
arose on the sea and threatened him with shipwreck. 
He again had recourse to blasphemy : ' The God of the 
Jews,' said he, ' seems to have dominion over the 
waters ; the generation of Noah He destroyed by 
water, Pharaoh and the Egyptians He drowned in the 
waters, and over me He had no power until I gave Him 
the chance by using the elements over which He pos- 
sesses this subtle power.' Suddenly a perfect calm set 
in, the sea became quite smooth, and Titus prosecuted 
his voyage without let or hindrance. Arrived in Rome 
with the golden vessels of the Temple, he was given a 
great reception, and a large number of distinguished 
men went to meet him. 

After resting from his fatigue, he appeared again 
before a distinguished assembly, and was offered wine ; 
but whilst he was partaking of it a microbe, so minute 
that it was imperceptible, found its way into his glass, 
and soon began to cause him intense pain in the head. 
In the course of a short time the insect grew, and with 
it grew the pain in Titus' head, till it was decided to 



GENESIS RABBA 65 

have recourse to an operation, to open his skull, in 
order — as the Romans said — to see what the God of 
the Jews employed as punishment for Titus. An insect 
of the size of a pigeon and of the weight of nearly two 
pounds was found in Titus' brain. Rabbi Eleazer, son 
of Rabbi Jose, who was then in Rome, saw with his 
ouTi eyes the insect when taken out of Titus' skuU. — 
Gen. Rabba 10. 

Even flies, parasites and microbes have their purpose 
to fulfil, and there is nothing superfluous in creation. — 
Gen. Rabba 10. 

The river Sambation casts up stones all the days of 
the week, but desists from doing so on Sabbath — indeed, 
on Friday after midday, when it becomes quite calm, 
as a proof of the day which is really the Sabbath. — 
Gen. Rabba ii. 

Rabbi Judah Hanasa invited his friend Antoninus to 
dine with him on the Sabbath day, when all the viands 
were served cold. After a time the Rabbi again had 
the pleasure of his friend's company at dinner on a 
week-day, when warm food was served. Antoninus, 
however, expressed his preference for the food he had 
enjoj'ed at his friend's table on the Sabbath, though it 
was cold. ' Ah,' said the sage, ' there is something 
missing to-day which we cannot procure.' ' But,' re- 
plied Antoninus, ' surely my means can procure any- 
thing ? ' ' No,' answered the Rabbi, ' your means can- 
not procure the Sabbath ; it is the Sabbath that gives 
the zest to the food.' — Gen. Rabba 11. 

The merciful Creator did not overlook the wild goat 
or the coney, but provided for them a refuge and a 
protecting shelter. It follows that he created all that 
is necessary for man. — Gen. Rabba 12. 

The light, when first created, would have enabled 
man to see from one corner of the earth to the other ; 
but the wicked men of the generation of Enos, the flood, 
and the Tower caused that light to be withdrawn from 

F 



66 THE MIDRASH 

this world, and it is preserved for the righteous in a 
higher sphere. — Gen. Rabba 12. 

The nose is the most important feature in man's face, 
so much so, that there is no legal identification of man, 
in Jewish law, without the identification of the nose. — 
Gen. Rabba 12. 

All the rivers go into the sea and the sea is not full, 
because the waters of the sea are again absorbed, and 
this causes the mist which rises from the earth. When 
the clouds have absorbed the mist, the moisture becomes 
condensed, and loses its salty substance before it comes 
down again on earth in the shape of rain. — Gen. Rabba 

13- 

The Hebrew word for ' forming ' is, in connexion 
with the formation of man, spelled exceptionally 1ii^''1 
with two "< ' , which is not its proper spelling. This is 
to be taken as a hint that man was formed out of two 
elements — spirit and matter. This is also manifested 
in man's life. His material part has need of matter to 
sustain him, and of the other laws of nature ; he grows, 
flourishes, decays and dies. But, on the other hand, 
he resembles spiritual beings by walking upright, by his 
power of speech and thought, and by being able in some 
degree to see behind him without need of turning his 
head round ; which facility is given to man alone and 
not to the lower animals. — Gen. Rabba 14. 

The appearance of Adam and Eve, when just formed, 
was like that of persons of twenty years of age. — Gen. 
Rabba 14. 

Rabbi Jose b. Chlafta paid a visit of condolence to a 
man who had lost a dearly beloved son. He met there 
a man of sceptical ideas, who, observing the Rabbi's 
silence, asked him whether he had nothing to say to 
the mourner. ' We,' said the good man, ' believe in a 
meeting again hereafter.' ' Has our friend not sorrow 
enough,' observed the sceptic, ' that you must needs add 
to it by offering him foolish words as comfort ? Can a 



GENESIS RABBA 67 

broken pitcher be made whole ? ' he argued. ' Your owti 
Psalmist does not seem to think so when he says (Ps. 2. 
8) : " Thou shalt dash them to pieces like a potter's 
vessel." ' ' And yet,' answered the Rabbi, ' there is even 
a vessel made by human hands, or rather by blowing, 
viz. a vessel made from glass, which, when broken, can 
be made whole again by the same process, by blowing. 
And if such is the case with anything made by human 
skill, shall we doubt it where the Great Master blew 
into the nostrils His own breath ? ' — Gen. Rabba 14. 

The builder mixes a thick sand with a thinner one 
in the mortar, by which contrivance the latter be- 
comes very strong and the building more substantial. 
In creating the first pair, something of this method was 
adopted. Adam was the strong and Eve the weaker. This 
mixture of the weak with the strong is beneficial to the 
liuman race. — Gen. Rabba 14. 

Man was originally formed with a tail like the lower 
animals, but this was afterwards taken from him out 
of consideration for him. — Gen. Rabba 14. 

God designed man for work — work for his own 
sustenance ; he who does not work shall not eat. — Gen. 
Rabba 14. 

Perhaps in the proper order of things, Abraham should 
have been the first man created, not Adam. God, how- 
ever, foresaw the fall of the first man, and if Abraham 
had been the first man and had fallen, there would have 
been no one after him to restore righteousness to the 
world ; whereas after Adam's fall came Abraham, who 
established in the world the knowledge of God. As a 
builder puts the strongest beam in the centre of the 
building, so as to support the structure at both ends, 
so Abraham was the strong beam carrying the burden 
of the generations that existed before him and that 
came after him. — Gen. Rabba 14. 

Here in this life we have the Spirit = the soul, 
blown into our nostrils ; hence it goes from us at death. 



68 THE MIDRASH 

In futurity the soul, when restored, will be given to us, 
as it is said in Ezek. 37. 14 : a complete gift never to 
be returned. — Gen. Rabba 14. 

The river Euphrates (n")E)) is the chief and choicest 
of all rivers. — Gen. Rabba 16. 

The Greeks, amongst other insults which they heaped 
on Jews, had a satirical saying. The Jews should write 
on the horn of an ox — alluding to the making of the 
golden calf — that they are not the portion of the God 
of Israel. — Gen. Rabba 16. 

* Why,' asked a matron of Rabbi Jose, ' did God 
steal a rib from Adam ? ' ' Steal, did you say ? ' re- 
plied the Sage. ' If one were to take away from your 
house an ounce of silver, and give you in return a 
pound of gold, that would not be stealing from you.' 
' But,' persisted his friend, ' what need was there for 
secrecy ? ' 'It was surely better,' replied R. Jose, ' to 
present Eve to Adam when she was quite presentable, 
and when no traces of the effects of the operation were 
visible.' — Gen. Rabba 17. 

That woman exercises more influence over man than 
he possesses over woman was illustrated by a couple 
who were famous for their piety, but who were eventually 
divorced. The man married a woman of questionable 
habits, and soon copied her conduct and became hke 
his new wife, conspicuous for his evil deeds ; whilst the 
divorced woman married a notorious sinner, and con- 
verted him into a pious man. — Gen. Rabba 17. 

Woman is formed out of bone. Touch a bone and 
it emits sound ; hence woman's voice is thinner than 
man's. Again, man is formed from earth, which is 
comparatively soft and melts when water comes over 
it ; whilst woman, being formed from hard substance, 
is more stubborn and unbending. — Gen. Rabba 17. 

Sleep is a sixtieth portion of death ; a dream is the 
same proportion of prophecy and the Sabbath of the 
Future bliss, — Gen, Rabba 17. 



GENESIS RABBA 69 

Dreams, something like prophecy, are the offspring of 
imaginations and comparisons which we may form 
whilst awake. — Gen. Rabba 17. 

Sleepiness and laziness in a man are the beginning of 
his misfortune. — Gen. Rabba 17. 

Man in celibacy is in sublime ignorance of what is 
meant by the words good, help, J03', blessing, peace and 
expiation of sin. He is, in fact, not entitled to the 
dignified name of man. — Gen. Rabba 17. 

Rabbi Jose, the Galilean, married his niece — his 
sister's daughter — who proved an exceedingly bad wife, 
and took a delight in abusing him in the presence of 
his pupils, who urged him to divorce her. This he 
refused to do, pleading that he was not in position to 
make provision for her maintenance, without which it 
would not be just to cast her adrift. One day he 
brought home with him Rabbi Eleazar b. Azaria, to 
whom, as well as to her husband, she offered a frown 
as her greeting. Upon inquiry as to what repast there 
was to place before his guest, R. Jose received the reply 
that there was nothing but lentils. His sense of smell, 
however, told him that there was something more 
savoury, and looking into the simmering pot on the 
liob, he found its contents to be stuffed chickens. 
After a deal of persuasion the good woman was pre- 
vailed upon to place the tempting morsels before her 
liusband and his guest. Rabbi Eleazar, who, having 
overheard the answer which the woman first gave her 
husband, that there was nothing better than lentils, 
expressed his surprise that chickens were served. In 
order to screen his wife. Rabbi Jose made the remark 
that perhaps a miracle had hapj^ened in honour of so 
distinguished a guest. The true character of the 
woman, however, reached the ears of Rabbi Eleazar, 
and he also learnt that it was owing to his friend's 
inability to provide for her maintenance that he was 
not divorced from her. The means to make provision 



70 THE MIDRASH 

for her were then soon found, and she was duly divorced 
from her husband. 

Rabbi Jose had the good fortune to find a very much 
more desirable helpmate in his second wife, but no such 
good luck followed his divorced wife. She married the 
town watchman, who, after a lingering illness, was 
struck with total blindness, and he employed his wife 
to guide him through the streets for the purpose of 
begging. When they arrived at the street in which 
Rabbi Jose lived, the woman retraced her steps, but 
the man, though blind, knew every street, owing to 
his having been watchman of the town, and demanded 
his wife's motive for so persistently avoiding a certain 
street. She eventually had to divulge her reason, and 
this led to quarrels between the couple ; the man saying 
that his wife deprived him of a source of income by 
avoiding the very street where he expected to find a 
decent revenue. The quarrels soon culminated in blows 
bestowed by the blind man upon his unhappy wife. 
This scandal made quite a stir in the small town, and 
did not escape the ears of Rabbi Jose, whose worldly 
affairs had vastly improved, and who, in fact, was now a 
man of affluence, possessing property in the little town. 
When he became aware of the sad plight his former 
wife was in, he placed one of his houses at the disposal 
of herself and her husband, and made them, in addition, 
a monetary allowance which placed them beyond the 
reach of want till the last day of their lives. — Gen. 
Rabba 17. 

Woman attains discretion at an earlier age than man. 
— Gen. Rabba 18. 

Woman was not formed from Adam's head, so that 
she might not be haughty ; nor from his eye, so that 
she might not be too eager to look at everything ; nor 
from his ear, so that she might not hear too keenly and 
be an eavesdropper ; nor from his mouth, so that she 
might not be a chatterer ; nor from his heart, lest she 



GENESIS RABBA 7I 

should become jealous ; nor yet not from his hand, so 
that she might not be afflicted with kleptomania ; nor 
from his foot, lest she should have a tendency to run 
about. She was made from Adam's rib, a hidden, 
modest part of his body, so that she too might be 
modest, not fond of show, but rather of seclusion. But 
woman ba files God's design and purpose. She is 
haughty and walks with outstretched neck (Isa. 3. 16), 
and wanton eyes (Isa. 3. 6). She is given to eaves- 
dropping (Gen. 18. 10). She chatters slander (Numb. 
12. II), and is of a jealous disposition (Gen. 30. i). She 
is afflicted with kleptomania (Gen. 31. ig), and is fond 
of running about (Gen. 34. i). In addition to these 
vices women are gluttonous (Gen. 3. 6), lazy (Gen. 18. 
6) and bad tempered (Gen. 16. 5). — Gen. Rabba 18. 

When the Jews returned from Babylon, their wives 
had become brown, and almost black, during the years 
of captivity, and a large number of men divorced their 
wives. The divorced women probably married black 
men, which would, to some extent, account for the 
existence of black Jews. — Gen. Rabba 18. 

The higher the position the greater is the fall, and 
this applies to the serpent, who not only was the chief 
of all animals, but walked upright like man, and when 
it fell it sank into the reptile species. — Gen. Rabba 
19. 

The delight of the Shechinah is to dwell here amongst 
men. Adam's fall caused it to retire from earth to the 
first heaven. Cain drove it, by his misdeeds, further 
into the second, the generation of Enos further still, 
and the generation of the flood again to the fourth. 
The generation of the Tower, the Sodomites and the 
Egyptians of Abraham's time finally drove the Shechinah 
into the seventh heaven. 

Then arose Abraham, who induced the Divine Glory 
to descend one degree nearer. So also did Isaac, Jacob, 
Levi, Kehos, Amram and Moses, so that the Shechinah 



72 THE MIDRASH 

was once more brought down to dwell with man. — 
Gen. Rabba 19. 

Like the desire of a woman for her husband is the 
desire of Satan for men of Cain's stamp. — Gen. Rabba 20. 

' Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.' 
The grave is the only thing which every man has honestly 
acquired and can honestly claim. — Gen. Rabba 20. 

To protect Cain from being killed, a dog was given 
him, who accompanied him and protected him against 
all comers. — Gen. Rabba 22. 

When Cain went abroad, after killing Abel, he met 
his father Adam, who expressed his surprise at Cain's 
life being spared. The son explained that he owed his 
life to the act of repentance, and to his pleading that 
his sin was greater than he could bear. Adam thus 
received a hint of his error in not having fallen back 
upon repentance instead of putting the blame on Eve. 
He there and then composed a hymn, now known as 
the Ninety-second Psalm, which, in the course of time, 
became lost or forgotten. Moses, however, found it 
and used it, and it became known as the prayer of 
Moses, the man of God. — Gen. Rabba 22. 

Do not befriend an evil man and no evil will overtake 
you. — Gen. Rabba 22. 

The i^in ")2i\ evil inclination, at first behaves like 
a guest, but eventually becomes master. He makes not 
only the open streets, but the palace also, the centre of 
his traffic ; wherever he observes a vain or proud per- 
son, or any traces of vice in a man, he says, ' He is 
mine.' — Gen. Rabba 22. 

The evil enticer (or i^"in "iii>) is as cunning as the 
famous dogs of Rome, who feign sleep when they see 
the baker with the basket of bread approaching the 
palace, and are thus able to snatch the loaves from the 
incautious carrier. He pretends at first great mildness, 
the gentleness of a woman, but soon shows the boldness 
of a strong man ; he begs admittance like an outcast. 



GENESIS RABBA T^ 

l>at eventually becomes master of the situation. — Gen. 
Kabba 22. 

' Sin lieth at the door ' (Gen. 4. 7). Happy is the 
man who can rise above the sin that lieth in waiting 
for him. — Gen. Rabba 22. 

Cain was a twin, for with him was born a girl ; and 
Abel was one of three, for with him came two girls. — ■ 
Gen. Rabba 22. 

Three men craved for things of earth, and none of 
them made a success of his occupation. Cain was a 
tiller of the ground ; we know his sad history. Noah 
attempted to become a husbandman, and he became a 
drunkard. Uzziah became a leper (2 Chron. 26. 10-20). — 
Gen. Rabba 22. 

In the early time of creation, in the time of Lemech, 
a medicine was known, the taking of which prevented a 
woman's conception. — Gen. Rabba 23. 

The deluge in the time of Noah was by no means the 
only flood with which this earth was visited. The first 
flood did its w^ork of destruction as far as Jaffe, and 
the one of Noah's days extended to Barbary. — Gen. 
Rabba 23. 

Naamah, daughter of Lemech and sister toTubalcain, 
was Noah's wife. — Gen. Rabba 23. 

It is an error to think that Cain was stronger than Abel, 
for the contrary was the case, and in the quarrel that 
arose Cain would have fared worse had he not appealed 
to Abel for compassion and then attacked him unawares 
and killed him. — Gen. Rabba 26. 

Man should look upon the birth of a daughter as a 
blessing from the Lord. — Gen. Rabba 26. 

For seven days the Lord mourned (or deplored) the 
necessity of destroying His creatures by the deluge. 
— Gen. Rabba 27. 

God will wipe away tears from off all faces (Isa. 25. 8). 
This means from the faces of non-Jews as well as Jews. 
— Gen. Rabba 26. 



74 THE MIDRASH 

Rabbi Judah Hanasa was an exceedingly meek man, 
who always tried to put the virtues of others above his 
own. He used to say : I am prepared to do anything 
reasonable that any man may ask me to do. Though 
the chief of the Rabbis of his time he rose when he saw 
Rav Hunna — much his inferior in learning, piety and 
position — explaining that he — Rav Hunna — was a scion 
of the tribe of Judah on his father's side, whereas he 
himself was only from that of Benjamin, and that only 
on his mother's side. — Gen. Rabba 33. 

Mercy and compassion are the great virtues which 
bring with them their own rewards, for they are recom- 
pensed with mercy and lovingkindness from the Mercy- 
seat of God. There was once a great drought in Pales- 
tine which afflicted its inhabitants long and severely. 
Rabbi Tanchuma proclaimed a fast day once, twice and 
thrice without propitiating the heavens to send down 
the much needed rain. He then assembled the people 
for prayer. 

Before the congregation engaged in prayer, the good 
man intended to address his flock ; but a report was 
brought to him that a certain man had been seen giving 
a woman some money within the precincts of the House 
of Assembly, an act which, under all the circumstances, 
could not but excite suspicion. The Rabbi had the man 
brought before him and asked him in what relationship 
he stood with the person to whom he was seen to have 
given money outside. ' She is my divorced wife,' 
answered the man simply. ' And how is it,' insisted the 
Rabbi, ' that you are on cordial terms with her and 
continue to give her money ? ' 'I am on no friendly 
footing with her ; as for giving her money, she is in 
want, and that is a sufficient reason for my relieving 
her distress,' replied the man. ' Her want obscured all 
other considerations and the peculiarity of our relation- 
ship.' The Rabbi was much affected by the man's 
generous nature and kindliness, and preached his sermon 



GENESIS RABBA 75 

on charity and brotherly love, a sermon worthy of the 
distinguished sage, showing that those virtues stand on 
an eminently higher level and are more efficacious than 
fasting and chastising of the body, and asking his 
audience to imitate ' the man in the street,' who set them 
such a good example. The good man then lifted up his 
heart in prayer, in which the congregation joined, and 
invoked the Throne of Mercy on behalf of a people 
imbued with mercy and compassion. The service was 
barely brought to a close when copious showers came 
down to refresh the parched ground and replenish the 
empty water tanks, and the people were once more 
happy. — Gen. Rabba 33. 

The very punishments with which God visits His erring 
children are often turned into blessings. When the 
deluge was sent on a sinning world all the fountains of the 
great deep were opened (Gen. 7. 11), but when the deluge 
ceased not all the fountains were stopped (Gen. 8. 2). 
Those containing the mineral waters with their healing 
properties were left open for the great benefit of man. 
— Gen. Rabba 33. 

The difference between the solar and the lunar year 
is that the former is eleven days longer than the latter. — 
Gen. Rabba 33. 

The period covering the second hal f of Tishri, the whole 
of Cheshvon and the first half of Kislev is the season 
for sowing. The second half of Kislev, the whole of 
Tebeth and first half of Shvat is winter. The second half 
of Shvat, the whole of Adar and first half of Nisson is 
spring. The second half of Nisson, the whole of lyar 
and first half of Sivon is harvest time, according to 
climate. The second half of Sivon, the whole of Tammuz 
and fust half of Ab is summer, and the second half of Ab, 
the whole of Ellul and first half of Tishri is autumn. — 
Gen. Rabba 34. 

The wicked make no resistance, but abandon them- 
selves to their evil inclination. — Gen. Rabba 34. 



7^ THE MIDRASH 

Noah began by being righteous in his generation, but 
fell back and became a man of earth (Gen. 9. 20). 
Moses, on the other hand, began his career as an Egyptian 
(Exod. 2. 19), but developed into a man of God. — Gen. 
Rabba 36. 

By Japhet,Gomer and Magog Africa is meant, and by 
Tiros Persia. — Gen. Rabba 37. 

The sexes of both man and the lower animals were 
meant to be separated in the ark during the deluge. This 
is clear from the way in which they entered the ark : first 
Noah and his three sons went in, and then their wives 
separately (Gen. 7. 7). But when they came out of the 
ark after the flood, God commanded Noah, ' Go out 
of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons and their wives ' 
(Gen. 8. 16), thus putting the sexes together again. 
Ham among the human beings, and the dog among 
the lower animals, disregarded this injunction and 
did not separate from the opposite sex in the ark. 
The dog received a certain punishment, and Ham became 
a black man ; just as when a man has the audacity to 
coin the king's currency in the king's own palace 
his face is blackened as a punishment and his issue is 
declared counterfeit. — Gen. Rabba 37. 

Artaban ^ sent Rabbi Judah Hanasa as a present a 
pearl of great value, and when he asked the Rabbi a 
present of equal value in return, the sage sent him a 
parchment (Ephesian letters). Artaban thought it 
unworthy, since his own gift was of such priceless value. 
Rabbi Judah replied that not only was his present 
precious above all the possessions of both, but it had 
immeasurable advantage over the valuable pearl, as care 
must be taken of the pearl, whilst his amulet would take 
care of its possessor. — Gen. Rabba 35. 

We are not allowed to say any portion of Holy Writ 
by heart, but must always read it from the Scroll. Thus 

1 See Rapoport's Erech Millin as to Artaban. 



CxENESIS RABBA ']'^ 

when Rabbi Meier was once in Asia on Purim, and was 
unable to find a copy of the book of Esther, he wrote the 
book out from memory (as he knew it by heart), and 
then made another copy from which he read to the con- 
gregation. — Gen. Rabba 36. 

If a man has entertained you only with lentils, do you 
entertain him with flesh. If one shows you small favours, 
bestow on him great ones when an opportunity occurs. — 
Gen. Rabba 38. 

There is not an evil which fails to bring benefit to 
some one. — Gen. Rabba 38. 

Terah, the father of Abraham and Haran, was a dealer 
in images as well as a worshipper of them. Once when 
he was away he gave Abraham his stock of graven images 
to sell in his absence. In the course of the day an elderly 
man came to make a purchase. Abraham asked him his 
age, and the man gave it as between fifty and sixty 
years. Abraham taunted him with want of sound sense 
in calling the work of another man's hand, produced 
perhaps in a few hours, his god ; the man laid the words 
of Abraham to heart and gave up idol worship. Again 
a woman came with a handful of fine flour to offer to 
Terah's idols, which were now in charge of Abraham. He 
took a stick and broke all the images except the largest 
one, in the hand of which he placed the stick which 
had worked this wholesale destmction. When his father 
returned and saw the havoc committed on his ' gods ' 
and property he demanded an explanation from his son 
whom he had left in charge. Abraham mockingly 
explained that when an offering of fine flour was brought 
to these divinities they quarrelled with each other as to 
who should be the recipient, when at last the biggest of 
them, being angry at the altercation, took up a stick to 
chastise the offenders, and in so doing broke them all up. 
Terah, so far from being satisfied with this explanation, 
understood it as a piece of mockery, and when he learnt 
also of the customers whom Abraham had lost him 



78 THE MIDRASH 

during his management he became very incensed, and 
drove Abraham out of his house and handed him over to 
Nimrod. Nimrod suggested to Abraham that since he 
had refused to worship his father's idols because of their 
want of power, he should worship fire, which is very 
powerful. Abraham pointed out that water has power 
over fire. ' Well,' said Nimrod, ' let us declare water 
god.' ' But,' replied Abraham, ' the clouds absorb the 
water ; and even they are dispersed by the wind.' ' Then 
let us declare the wind our god.' ' Bear in mind,' 
continued Abraham, ' that man is stronger than wind, 
and can resist it and stand against it.' 

Nimrod, becoming weary of arguing with Abraham, 
decided to cast him before his god — fire — and challenged 
Abraham's deliverance by the God of Abraham, but 
God saved him out of the fiery furnace. Haran too 
was challenged to declare his god, but halted between 
two opinions, and delayed his answer until he saw the 
result of Abraham's fate. When he saw the latter 
saved he declared himself on the side of Abraham's 
God, thinking that he too, having now become an 
adherent of that God, would be saved by the same 
miracle. But since his faith was not real, but 
depended on a miracle, he perished in the fire, into which 
like Abraham he was cast by Nimrod, This is hinted in 
the words (Gen. 11. 28) : ' And Haran died before his 
father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the 
Chaldees.' — Gen. Rabba 38. 

Abraham, Joshua, David and Mordecai issued their 
own coinage. The coins of Abraham had the figure of 
an old man and an old woman on the face of the coin, and 
those of a youth and a maiden on the obverse, signi- 
fying that after Abraham and Sarah had grown old their 
youth was renewed and they begat a son. 

Those which Joshua issued bore the figure of an ox, 
and on the obverse that of a unicorn, alluding to the 
words (Deut. 33. 17) ' His glory is like the firstling of his 



GENESIS RABBA 79 

bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns ' ; for 
Joshua was descended from Joseph, concerning whom 
those words were uttered. The coins which David 
issued had a shepherd's staff and satchel on the face, and 
a tower on the obverse, in allusion to his having been 
raised to the throne from the sheepcote. Mordecai's 
coins bore sackcloth and ashes on the face, and a crown 
of gold on the obverse, these symbols being a ' multum 
in parvo ' of his career. — Gen. Rabba 39. 

What has now become a popular expression, viz. 
' The man in the street,' is a phrase used in the Midrash. 
— Gen. Rabba 41 

The pure of heart are God's friends. — Gen. Rabba 
41. 

Lot enjoyed four great benefits in accompanying 
Abraham. He became rich, became the possessor of 
property, was rescued from 36 kings who pursued him, 
and was sav^ed with his family at the destruction of 
Sodom and Gomorrah. Yet Amnion and Moab 
(Lot's descendants) inflicted four great sorrows upon 
Abraham's descendants, to whom they owed their 
very existence. They hired Balaam to curse. Eglon 
king of Moab gathered the children of Ammon and 
subjected the Israelites to his yoke 18 years. The war 
which Ammon and Moab waged against Israel, as 
recorded in 2nd Chronicles, and the destruction of 
Jerusalem and the Temple, and all its attending sor- 
rows, are lamented by Jeremiah in the Book of Lamen- 
tations. Therefore there came four prophets to prophesy 
the downfall of these two ungrateful nations, viz., 
Isaiah (see the 15th chapter of his book), Jeremiah (in 
his 49th chapter), Ezekiel, who prophesies against Am- 
mon in the 25th chapter of his book, and Zephaniah, who 
proj^hesies that the fate of Ammon and Moab will 
be like that of Sodom and Gomorrah. — Gen. Rabba 41. 

Once a man, twice a child. — Gen. Rabba 42. 

Nations in Abraham's time desired to proclaim him 



80 THE MIDRASH 

their prince, their king, and even their god, but he in- 
dignantly dechned, and took that very opportunity to 
point out to them that there is but one Great King, one 
Great God. — Gen. Rabba 42. 

Being aware that wine carries misfortune in its trail, 
as we find for instance in the case of Noah and Aaron's 
sons, one might indulge in the hope of finding a pleasant 
exception in the wine that Melchizedek brought out to 
Abraham. But not so, for immediately after this act of 
mere courtesy Abraham had to face unpleasant tidings 
when he was told that his offspring would be slaves and 
afflicted for four hundred years in a land not their own. 
— Gen. Rabba 43. 

Hagar was the daughter of the Pharaoh who captured 
Sarah, and on restoring her to Abraham he presented 
Sarah with Hagar as her maid. — Gen. Rabba 45. 

If a man calls you an ass, the best way is to take no 
notice of it ; but if you are called so by two or more 
persons take the bit into your own mouth. — Gen. 
Rabba 45. 

Do not depart, whether from a great or an insignificant 
individual, without leave-taking and parting greetings. 
— Gen. Rabba 47. 

If you are in Rome do as the Romans do. Moses, 
when he spent forty days and forty nights in heaven, 
where there is neither eating nor drinking, neither ate 
nor drank. On the other hand, when the angels visited 
Abraham, they partook — or pretended to partake — of 
the meat and drink which was prepared for them. — Gen. 
Rabba 48. 

The names of the Hebrew months, as at present used, 
and the names of angels, were brought with them by the 
Jews on their return from the Babylonish captivity. — 
Gen. Rabba 48. 

Angels have no back to their necks, and cannot turn 
their heads round. — Gen. Rabba 49. 

One angel cannot perform two duties at a time, nor are 



GENESIS RABBA 8l 

two angels sent to perform one and the same duty. — Gen. 
Rabba 50. 

The feeble prayer which a sick person can offer him- 
self is infinitely better than all the prayers offered 
for him by others. — Gen. Rabba 53. 

Every one is (morally) blind until his eyes are opened 
for him from above, — Gen. Rabba 53. 

Man's fatherly compassion does not extend beyond his 
grandchildren. — Gen. Rabba 54. 

Have no compunction to admonish where admonition 
is called for ; it will produce not animosity, but eventu- 
ally love and peace. — Gen. Rabba 54. 

Job was born when the Jews went down to Egypt ; he 
married Dinah, Jacob's daughter, and he died when the 
Israelites left Egypt. — Gen. Rabba 57. 

Job probably never existed, and if he did exist, the 
events recorded concerning him never took place. The 
whole narrative is intended as a moral lesson. — Gen. 
Rabba 57. 

Rabbi Meier came to a place where he found a family 
(a people ?) remarkable for dying young. They asked 
him to pray for them, but he advised them to be of 
a charitable disposition in order to prolong life. — Gen. 
Rabba 59. 

Abraham was the blessed of the Eternal, and he was 
the blessing of mankind (Gen. 12. 3). Moses was the 
miracle and miracle worker of the Israelites, and God was 
his own miracle (Exod. 13-15.) ' And Moses built an altar 
and called the name of it '•02 'H- ' The Lord my miracle ' 
(also ' the Lord my banner '). David was Israel's shepherd 
(i Chron. 11.), and God was David's shepherd (Ps. 23.). 
Jerusalem was the light of the world (Isa. 60.), and God 
is its light (Isa. 60.). — Gen. Rabba 59. 

When Rebecca left her parents' house they blessed her, 
and prayed that she might be the mother of millions of 
people (Gen. 24. 60). Yet she was barren till she her- 
self and Isaac supplicated the Lord. Hence we see 

G 



S2 THE MIDRASH 

that it makes a difference who offers prayers. — Gen. 
Rabba 60. 

All the numerous disciples of Rabbi Akiba hastened 
their own death by their vices of envy and unchari- 
tableness ; but his last seven pupils took warning 
by the fate of their predecessors, and they prospered. 
These are the seven pupils : Rabbi Meier, R. Jose, R. 
Simeon, R. Eleazar b. Chanania, R. Jochanan the Sandal- 
maker, and R. Eleazar b. Jacob. — Gen. Rabba 61. 

Man is in duty bound to look to his son's religious 
education until he attains the age of thirteen, and then 
to offer thanks to God for having relieved him of his 
responsibility. — Gen. Rabba 63. 

When pronouncing his blessing upon Jacob, Isaac said, 
' The voice is Jacob's voice, but the hands are the hands 
of Esau.' Thus Isaac's blessings fixed upon each of his 
sons what should be his power. Jacob's power and 
function should be his voice =prayer, and Esau's might 
was to be in his hands. So long then as Jacob exercises 
his power or function, that of prayer, he need have no 
fear of the hands of Esau, of the persecutions of 
those amongst whom his lot may be cast. — Gen. Rabba 

65. 

The garments which Esau put on when he went hunt- 
ing, were originally Adam's ; they had on them figures 
of various animals, and hunting was thereby facilitated, 
as the animals on seeing the garments came running 
towards the wearer. Nimrod coveted these garments, 
and resolved to kill Esau in order to possess himself of 
them. Esau, being aware of his constant danger, says 
when selling his birthright to Jacob, ' Behold I am on 
the point to die.' — Gen. Rabba 63 and 65. 

When the pig pauses from his gluttony and lies down 
to rest he stretches out his foot to show his cloven hoof, 
and pretends that he belongs to the clean kind of animals. 
— Gen. Rabba 65. 

A person afflicted with total blindness eats more than 



GENESIS RABBA 83 

one blessed with the sense of sight : sight having more 
of satiating than appetising effect. — Gen. Rabba 65. 

All members of man's body were given him for use, 
yet over some he has no power of restraint. His eyes 
sometimes see what he would rather not see, his ears 
often hear against his will, and his nose smells occasion- 
ally what he would rather dispense with. — Gen. Rabba 67. 

Italy is a fat land, i.e. a fertile country. — Gen. 
Rabba 67. 

Dreams neither injure nor benefit : they are vain. — 
Gen. Rabba 68. 

Matches are made in heaven. — Gen. Rabba 68. 

In three different places of Holy Writ are we told that 
heaven appoints the wife of a man : in Gen. 24. 50, 
Judges 14. 4, and in Prov. 19. 14. — Gen. Rabba 68. 

Just as two knives are both sharpened by being rubbed 
one against the other, so scholars improve and increase 
in knowledge when in touch with one another. — Gen. 
Rabba 6g. 

The portion of the Temple called ^n^<^t:^^ n'X the 
Drawing-court, was so called because the people drew 
thence the Holy Spirit. — Gen. Rabba 70. 

Rabbi Meier was asked by a sceptic how he could 
justify the conduct of Jacob, who, having vowed 
(Gen. 28.-22.) to give to God a tithe of all He might bestow 
upon him, yet, out of the twelve tribes with which he 
was blessed, consecrated one tribe only to the service of 
God, which represented only the tithe of ten. The Rabbi 
replied : ' Out of the twelve tribes there were to be 
deducted the firstborn, who were themselves consecrated 
to God, and no tithe had to be given out of them. — Gen. 
Rabba 70. 

Were it not for the patience and endurance which Rabbi 
Joshua manifested towards Onkeles, he would have 
slipped back into his former heathenism — Gen. Rabba 70. 

With the birth of a child a woman escapes blame for 
household accidents which would otherwise be charged 



84 THE MIDRASH 

to her. If anything is wasted or broken, there is 
no longer any inquiry as to who has done this ; 
it is taken for granted that the child did it. — Gen. 
Rabba y-^. 

The ten tribes are on the other side of the river Sam- 
bation, and the Jews at present scattered over the earth 
are those of Judah and Benjamin. — Gen. Rabba 73. 

The blessings that Isaac bestowed upon Jacob were 
endorsed from heaven (Gen. 27. 28, 29) : ' God give thee 
of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and 
plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve thee, and 
nations bow down to thee : be lord over thy brethren, 
and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee.' Micah (5. 6) 
says ' the remnant of Jacob shall be as the dew 
from the Lord.' (Isaiah 30.-23.) ' Then shall ye sow 
the ground, and it shall be fat and plenteous.' The same 
prophet (49. 23) : ' And kings shall be thy nursing fathers 
and their queens thy nursing mothers.' And in Deut. 
26. 19, ' And to make thee above all nations.' — Gen. 
Rabba 75. 

Frequently does David, in his prayers, use the phrase 
' Arise, O God ' (in Psalms 3, 7, 9, 10, 17). We do not find 
a direct response to this prayer ; but when he uses this 
prayer in connexion with oppression of the poor, the 
answer he receives is, ' Now I will arise, saith the Lord ' 
(Ps. 12. 5). — Gen. Rabba 75. 

The fact that we awake from sleep is some evidence for 
the resurrection. — Gen. Rabba 78. 

Man in distress pledges himself to good deeds ; man in 
prosperity forgets his good resolutions. — Gen. Rabba 81. 

The righteous require no monuments ; their lives and 
their teachings are their monuments. — Gen. Rabba 82. 

We are told that Abraham took his wife Sarah, and 
the souls they had gotten in Haran, and they went forth 
into the land of Canaan. By this is meant the souls 
that they had brought away from idolatry and brought 
to the knowledge of the living God. — Gen. Rabba 84. 



GENESIS RABBA 85 

Man should be on his guard not to fall in love with his 
wife's sister. — Gen. Rabba 85. 

Before the first captivity of Israel took place (the 
Egyptian captivity) the ancestor of their last redeemer 
(Perez) was already born. — Gen. Rabba 85. 

Slaves do not, as a rule, bring blessings on their 
master's house, but Joseph's master's house was blessed 
because of Joseph. Slaves are not remarkable for being 
scrupulous, but Joseph gathered in the silver in Egypt 
for his king. Slaves are not distinguished for their 
chastity and modesty, but Joseph would not listen to a 
sinful suggestion. — Gen. Rabba 86. 

Potiphar showed the subtlety for which the Egyptians 
were famous where their own interest was concerned. He 
boasted to his friends that as a rule a white man has a 
Cushite, a coloured man, for his slave, whilst he, a Cushite, 
contrived to obtain a youth of the white race for a slave. 
Hence it became a saying in Egypt, ' The slaves sold (i.e. 
the Ishmaelites who sold Joseph) ; the slave bought 
(alluding to Potiphar, Pharaoh's servant) ; and the 
freeman has become the slave of both.' — Gen. Rabba 
86. 

A certain matron discussing Joseph with' Rabbi Jose 
maintained that the Biblical version of the incident with 
Potiphar's wife is not the correct one, but is intended to 
screen Joseph, whose virtues are vastly exaggerated. 
Rabbi Jos6 replied that Holy Writ is no respecter of 
persons, and records the history of those of whom it 
speaks just as it happened, the vices as well as the vir- 
tues. He cited Reuben's and Judah's transgressions, 
which are detailed without any attempt to screen 
them. — Gen. Rabba 87. 

It was obviously to Joseph's advantage that the chief 
butler — though he did not wish to benefit Joseph — had 
not mentioned Joseph's name to Pharaoh until all the 
astrologers had failed to interpret Pharaoh's dream to 
his satisfaction. Otherwise, if Joseph had been called 



86 THE MIDRASH 

before them, it might have been thought that they were 
able to interpret the dream. — Gen. Rabba 89. 

In your intercourse with the world it is well to bear in 
mind that there are thousands of men whose character- 
istic is lying, and woe to those that trust them. — Gen. 
Rabba 8g. 

The heathen stands by his god. (Gen. 41. i.) The 
Jewish God stands by his people. (Gen. 28. 13.) — Gen. 
Rabba 89. 

A dream towards morning is likely to be fulfilled. — 
Gen. Rabba 89. 

During the twenty- two years that Joseph was separated 
from his brethren neither he nor they had tasted wine ; 
hence they were somewhat overcome by drinking wine at 
the banquet to which he invited them in Egypt. — Gen. 
Rabba 92. 

By the law of God even a slave, when his master 
knocked out his eye or tooth, had to be set free because 
of the pain he had suffered. Surely it cannot be worse 
with God's own children ; when they undergo hardship, 
sorrow, and trouble in this life, their pain will surely 
purify them from the dross of iniquity, and they will 
inherit futurity. — Gen. Rabba 92. 

Man when reproached with his misdeeds becomes con- 
fused and confounded. Balaam, when reproached by 
the humblest of animals and asked ' What have I done 
unto thee, that thou hast smitten me these three times ? 
Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever 
since I was thine unto this day ? Was I ever wont to do 
so unto thee ? ' was constrained to reply ' Nay.' Joseph, 
telling his brethren who he was, said, ' I am Joseph, your 
brother, whom you sold to Egypt.' And his brethren, 
ten great, proud, and mighty men, could not answer 
him, for they were confounded in his presence (Gen 45. 3). 
' How then, man, will it be with me ' (so do thou ask 
thyself),' when I stand before God's tribunal and a record 



GENESIS RABBA 87 

of my conduct, during my life, is placed before me !' — 
Gen. Rabba 93. 

To rebel against the king is to rebel against the King 
of Kings. — Gen. Rabba 94. 

At the approach of the death of Moses the two 
silver trumpets which he had made for the purpose 
of calling the people together (Num. 10. 2) were hidden, 
so that no one else should use them. — Gen. Rabba 96. 

A book of pedigrees was found in Jerusalem, wherein 
it was stated that Hillel was a descendant of King David. 
— Gen. Rabba 98. 

The effects of the blessing bestowed upon Judah by 
his father are to be seen even at the present time. Jacob 
said (Gen. 49. 8), ' Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren 
shall praise.' If an Israelite describes his race, he says, 
' I am a Jew, i.e. a Judaite,' he does not describe him- 
self as a Reul:)enite or a Simconite. — Gen. Rabba 98. 

Slander is compared to an arrow, not to any other 
handy weapon, such as a sword, etc., because like an 
arrow it kills at a distance. It can be uttered in Rome 
and have its baneful effect in Syria. — Gen. Rabba 98. 

Amongst a number of great men who all reached the 
same age are Moses, Hillel, Rabbi Johanan b. Zakkai, 
and Rabbi Akiba. Moses' years were divided into three 
equal portions, viz., forty years in Pharaoh's palace, 
forty years in Midian, and forty years as leader of the 
Israelites in the wilderness. 

Rabbi Jochanan too had his forty years of trade, 
forty years of study, and forty years of serving his people. 
Rabbi Akiba was forty years an ignoramus, forty years 
he gave himself to study, and for forty years he served 
his community. — Gen. Rabba 100. 



EXODUS RABBA. 

King David was a descendant of Miriam. — Exod. 
Rabba i. 

Jethro, who was originally a priest of Midianite 
idolatry, renounced his idols, and with them his priestly 
position. For this he was boycotted and excommuni- 
cated by his former compatriots ; no one was to perform 
any work for him or his ; or, indeed, to have any inter- 
course with them. His daughters, who were therefore 
compelled to look after their father's flock, were perse- 
cuted by the shepherds. Moses, from a sense of chivalry, 
seeing women do the work which generally was done 
by the stronger sex, and .yet being harassed by them, 
offered the women his assistance. — Exod. Rabba i. 

It would be a serious error to say that Moses murdered 
the Egyptian. In slaying him he was the executioner 
of a man who, even by the laws of the Egyptians — who 
observed what are known as the seven commandments 
of the sons of Noah, one of which was prohibition of 
murder — deserved death. According to a tradition, 
this Egyptian ravished the wife of an Israelite, and to 
escape accusation by her husband he killed him, and 
thus incurred death. — Exod. Rabba i. 

He who lifts up his hand in a threatening manner 
against a fellow-man, though he may not actually strike 
him, is designated a wicked man. — Exod. Rabba i. 

When Pharaoh's daughter indicated to her maidens, 
who accompanied her to the river, her intention of 
saving the weeping child (Moses), her maidens expressed 
their disapproval, arguing that it would be bad enough 



EXODUS RABBA 89 

for any of the king's subjects to disregard his decree, 
but in the king's own daughter such a want of loyalty 
would be highly reprehensible. Their arguments — lest 
they should have the effect desired by them — were cut 
short by the angel Gabriel, who struck them all down 
except one, so that the dignity of the princess should 
not be outraged by not having even one maid to attend 
on her. Hence, at the opening of the narrative we find 
maidens attending her, but when she rescued the child 
she sent her maiden, not maidens. — Exod. Rabba. 

Moses, before he left Egypt, succeeded in securing 
for the Israelites the observance of rest on the Sabbath, 
by pointing out to Pharaoh the necessity — in his own 
interest — of granting his slaves one day every week 
freedom from labour, and thereby invigorating them for 
the renewal of labour after their rest. — Exod. Rabba i. 

In calling his two sons by the names of Gershom and 
Eliezer, Moses, like Joseph and other righteous men, 
intended to have the fact of God's hclj) constantly 
before him. Since his sons would be with him, and he 
would often address them or call them by name, he 
would remember his gratitude to God. — Exod. Rabba i. 

Amongst Pharaoh's advisers or counsellors were 
Balaam, Job, and J e thro. Balaam advocated the perse- 
cution of the Israehtes ; as a retribution, he fell by the 
sword. Job was silent, and would not advise either 
way, and he had his punishment for this act of un- 
friendliness. Jethro would not countenance any sugges- 
tion of persecution, and was rewarded by having his 
family raised to greatness (i Chron. 2.). — Exod. Rabba i. 

' The new king ' who arose in Egypt is not to be taken 
literally, for it was the same Pharaoh who had elevated 
Joseph. But when the Egyptians suggested the en- 
slaving of the Israelites he protested, pointing out that 
the people were saved from starvation by an Israelite. 
This so displeased the Egyptians that they dethroned 
him ; and being for three months deprived of his throne, 



go THE MIDRASH 

he at last gave in, and ' did not know Joseph,' that is, 
the benefits conferred by him on the land. Thereupon 
he was reinstated. Hence the expression, ' a new king 
who knew not Joseph ' : when he pretended to know 
nothing of Joseph and his benefits, then his kingdom 
was renewed. — Exod. Rabba i. 

There is more than appears on the surface in the 
words (Exod. i. 5), ' For Joseph was in Egypt.' It is 
intended to convey to us the noble character of this 
pattern of righteousness ; to tell us that all the time 
he was in Egypt, during all his vicissitudes, whether as 
a slave or as a ruler, there was no change in his character 
or in his humility and piety. — Exod. Rabba i. 

' He that spareth his rod hateth his son,' as the wise 
king tells us (Prov. 13. 24). Yet we are aware that a 
father would be very indignant with any one who 
should beat his son. But we have examples before us of 
the pernicious result of indulging one's son and putting 
no restraint upon him. The reward of such treatment 
is not love and affection, but rather estrangement 
between parent and child, where a timely and 
judicious chastisement would have averted it. Take 
the case of Ishmael, of whom it is traditionally said that 
he did very much in accordance with his own sweet 
will, that he actually had his own idols brought into 
Abraham's house when he was but a lad of fifteen years. 
His father's forbearance had only the effect that Ishmael 
so indulged in his evil propensities that eventually 
he was driven out of his father's house, without pro- 
vision being made for his maintenance, a thing which can 
only be accounted for — with a tender-hearted man like 
Abraham — by the fact that the lad had, by his evil 
ways, actually incurred his father's hatred. Other in- 
stances we have, like Isaac and his son Esau, or David 
and his son Absalom. 

Further, King Solomon adds, ' but he that loveth 
him chasteneth him betimes.' This may well be applied 



EXODUS RABBA 9I 

to God's dealings with his son (Israel). ' I have loved 
you,' says God to Israel, and this very love brought 
affliction with it. — Exod. Kabba i. 

There is no place without God's presence. Even in 
the bush He was present, and this was the lesson of 
God's omnipresence that Moses learnt when he was 
called out of the bush. — Exod. Rabba 2. 

Moses, when tending Jethro's flock in the wilderness, 
proved himself a tender shepherd. He was not above 
carrying a little lamb, becoming footsore in its search 
for water, on his shoulder back to the flock. God said, 
' This tender shepherd of man's flock shall be the 
shepherd of my own flock.' — Exod. Rabba 2. 

Moses, leading Jethro's flock into the wilderness, was 
typical of his leading God's flock in the wilderness. 
Sheltering, feeding, and getting drink for the sheep 
were the forerunners of his obtaining for Israel the 
sheltering protection of the pillars of fire and cloud, and 
a supply of manna, quails, and water in the wilderness. 
— Exod. Rabba 2. 

The burning bush was typical of the indestructibility 
of Israel. Just as the bush, though continually burn- 
ing, was not consumed, so would the fire of Egyptian 
persecution and oppression of other nations be unable to 
consume Israel. — Exod. Rabba 2. 

Moses wanted to know God's name, and God tells him, 
' I am that I am ' ; that is to say, ' I am called — or to 
1)6 called — in accordance with my work in this world.' 
When I judge mankind I am D''^'?^< Elohim, that being 
the title or designation for judgment. When I war with 
the wicked I am known as jmhi2ii Zevooth. When I 
execute judgment for the sins of man I am known as 
nti^'?}^ El Shadai, and when I am visiting the world 
with mercy I am ''J1^^ or mn^ Adonoi, the Eternal. — 
Exod. Rabba 3. 

Moses' assertion, ' Behold they will not believe me 
nor hearken unto my voice ; for they will say, the Lord 



92 THE MIDRASH 

hath not appeared unto thee ' (Exod. 4. i) was an ungen- 
erous remark on his part, unworthy of him, as it was 
prejudging the people adversely. This seems to be borne 
out by what follows. God asked him what he had in his 
hand, and the answer was ' a rod,' an appropriate instru- 
ment with which he deserved to be punished for his 
harshness. Then the rod turned into a serpent, pointing 
out to him that he had adopted something of the vices of 
the reptile, which slandered God himself to Adam and 
Eve (Gen. 3. 5). — Exod. Rabba 3. 

There was no false modesty in Moses' hesitation to 
accept the most important mission, that of dehvering 
the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. Judging from 
past events he felt that this mission was too vast and 
too important for him. When God wanted to save one 
individual — he reasoned — and that individual Lot, he 
sent one of his angels for the purpose. Even to save 
Ishmael angels were employed. Measured by that 
standard, * Who am I, to be the deliverer of this great 
multitude ? ' — Exod. Rabba 3. 

The matron whom we find so often arguing with Rabbi 
Jose observed one day to that sage, ' My god is surely 
greater than yours. When your God appeared to Moses 
in the bush, Moses merely covered his face, whilst when 
my god (the serpent) made its appearance he could not 
stand his ground at all, but had to run away out of fear.' 
' Not so,' returned the Rabbi, ' for in order to be out of 
the power of your god it sufficed for Moses to step a few 
paces back, but whither could he have fled from the 
presence of Him who filleth the earth ? ' — Exod. Rabba 3. 

There was a secret sign handed down to the Israelites in 
Egypt, a legacy left by Jacob, who entrusted it to Joseph, 
and he again to his brother Asher, who handed it down 
to his daughter Serach. She was blessed with longevity, 
and was living when Moses made his appearance before 
Pharaoh. The tradition was that the one who appeared in 
Egypt as the messenger of God with the tidings of their 



EXODUS RABBA 93 

redemption would use the word ipS ' visiting,' that 
God visited them and saw what was done to them in 
Egypt. Thus they would know and believe that he was 
really sent by their God. Hence we find that when Moses 
used the words ' ^/llp3 lp3,' and not until then, the 
people believed that the Lord looked upon their afflic- 
tion, they bowed their heads and worshipped. (Exod. 
4. 31.) — Exod. Rablxi 5. 

That one should not be wise above what is written 
is well demonstrated in the life of King Solomon. The 
Torah says that the king whom the Israelites should 
set over them should not multi]ily horses to himself, nor 
wives, in order that he might not cause the people to 
return to Egypt, and that his heart might not turn away 
(Deut. 17. 16, 17). ' Then,' argued Solomon, ' since the 
reason for the paucity of wives and horses is given, I am 
sure that I can stand proof against these ; I can multiply 
horses and wives and shall not turn away and will not 
cause my people to return to Egypt.' Unfortunately 
he was not ])roof against the prohibitions, as it is recorded 
against him (in i Kings 2. 1-7). And one can also see the 
wisdom of the Torah in withholding any reason for many 
commandments it enjoins. — Exod. Rabba 6. 

How beautiful was that simple life and faith of the 
Patriarchs and their submission to the Divine will. To 
Abraham God said, ' Lift up thine eyes and look from 
the place where thou art, northwards, southwards, 
eastwards, and westwards ; for all the land which thou 
seest to thee I will give it and to thy seed for ever.' Yet 
when he needed a sepulchre for his beloved Sarah he 
could get none until he bought it from Ephron ; but 
he murmured not. Isaac, too, was told, ' Sojourn in 
this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee, 
and unto thy seed I will give all these countries.' But 
when he dug for water the herdmen of Gerar disputed with 
his herdmen for the water which they found, and he was 
obliged to seek another place, and do over again the work 



94 THE MIDRASH 

which had been expended in vain in Gerar. Then again 
Jacob was told the land upon which he lay should be 
given to him and to his seed for ever, etc. When, how- 
ever, he wanted to pitch his tent in the city of Shechem 
in the land of Canaan he had to purchase a ' parcel of 
the field ' upon which his tent was spread for a hundred 
pieces of money. There was no murmuring on the part 
of these smiple and holy men, who knew well that God 
would carry out his promises to them in his own good 
time. — Exod. Rabba 6. 

There is not a word in Holy Writ without its purpose. 
In the statement that ' Aaron took him Elishaba the 
daughter of Aminadab, sister of Nachshon, to wife,' the 
addition of the brother's name is apparently superfluous. 
But in truth its purpose is to caution the would-be 
Benedick to inquire of the character and disposition of 
the brothers of her whom he intends to marry, since most 
sons take after the character and disposition of their 
mother's brothers. — Exod. Rabba 7. 

When Moses was performing the miracles in Egypt 
to convince the Egyptians that he was the messenger of 
God, Pharaoh simply ridiculed him and asked him ironi- 
cally, ' Art thou bringing straw to Eprayne (where there 
was plenty) ? Art thou not aware that the Egyptians 
are past masters in magic ? People usually take their 
wares to places where they are scarce. Here children of 
four or five years of age can work this sort of conjuring.' 
And he actually had some children brought out of school, 
and they and Pharaoh's wife performed similar works to 
those of Moses. ' Is he a wise man,' continued Pharaoh, 
' who carries muria (a sort of salt) ^ to Spain or fish to 
Acco ? ' Moses refrained from controversy, but merely 
replied, ' Where there is the market of greenstuff there 
I take my greenstuff.' — Exod. Rabba 9. 

When praying on behalf of Pharaoh to remove the 

^ See Dr. Sach's Beitrdge zur Sprach iind AlterthumsforschiDig 
aus jiidischen Quellen, 2nd vol., page 3, for the word Muria. 



EXODUS RABBA 95 

plague of hail from him, JMoses went out of the town to do 
so (Exod. Q. 20), because he would not pray in the midst 
of the idols and abominations that polluted the place 
and rendered it unfit for prayer to the throne of mercy. 
He went into the open, pure air of God to pray to God. 
— Exod. Rabba 12. 

Even from such hardened sinners as Pharaoh and 
the Egyptians God did not withhold the opportunity of 
mending their ways. Before a plague visited them Moses 
was charged to warn them of its coming, to-morrow, if 
they remained ol)durate. — Exod. Rabba 13. 

Behold God as a pleader as well as an accuser. Whilst 
He complains of a sinful nation (Isa. i. 4) He pleads, 
' Open ye the gates that a righteous nation may enter ' 
(Isa. 26. 2). Again, designating Israel as a people laden 
with iniquity, He yet condescends to say, ' Thy people are 
all righteous ' (Isa. 60. 21). Though declaring them to be 
children that are corrupted, He calls them ' children 
taught of the Lord ' (Isa. 54.13). Whilst they are 'a seed 
of evildoers,' He says, * their .seed shall be known 
amongst the heathen ' (Isa. 61. 9). Again they are told, 
' When you make many prayers I will not hear.' Yet He 
assures us (Isa. 65. 24) ' Before they call I will answer.' 
Wliilst declaring that our new moons and our feasts his 
soul hateth. He invites us to come and prostrate our 
selves before Him on new moons and sabbaths. — Exod. 
Rabba 15. 

The rite of proclaiming and sanctifying the month 
at the appearance of the new moon is traced back to the 
time of the Exodus, when Nisson was placed at the head 
of the months. The ceremony was of the same import- 
ance as are dates in legal documents and in evidence, 
and the month only began when it had been proclaimed 
by the representative of the community. — Exod. Rab- 
ba 15. 

Water, air, and fire were created before the world ; 
the water begat darkness, the fire begat light, the ni"). 



96 THE MIDRASH 

spirit or air, begat wisdom, and with these the world is 
always governed, viz. wind, fire, wisdom, light, dark- 
ness and water. — Exod. Rabba 15. 

For the purpose of effecting Israel's redemption 
God did not disdain to appear in a place where there 
were images of idols or other impurities. — Exod. Rabba 

15- 

The kingdom of Greece was a terror to the world, 
but Mattathias the priest, with faith and not with 
weapons, boldly met the terror and defeated it. — Exod. 
Rabba 15. 

* Who is she that looketh forth as the morning, fair 
as the woman ? ' (Song, 6. 10). She is no other than Esther, 
who like the morning star was the light brought to Israel 
in the dark days of Media. ' Clear as the sun and terrible 
as an army with banners ' (Song, 6. 10) : these were no 
other than Mattathias the High Priest and his sons, who 
like an army with their banners stood up against the 
evil power of Greece, from which every power fled as one 
flees from the strength of the mid-day sun. Their 
army and their banners were faith in their God ; they 
were stimulated by the words of the prophet (Joel 4. 
6-10), ' The children of Judah and the children of 
Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians . . . Beat 
your ploughshares into swords and your pruning-hooks 
into spears ; let the weak say, I am strong.' — Exod. 
Rabba 15. 

Certain commandments were given to Israelites 
exclusively ; and these are mostly known by the word 
DD"? (to you). The observance of the Passover in the 
month of Nisson (Exod. 12) : Not to make graven images 
(Levit. 26) :Tobe just in judgment (Hosea5.) : Righteous- 
ness and charity (Deut. 24.) : To be merciful and compas- 
sionate (Deut. 13.) : Sabbatical years and Jubilees 
(Levit. 25.) : and various others (Deut. 11.), tithes, con- 
cerning the Firstborn (Deut. 14.), Sacrifices (Exod. 20.), 
Fringes (Num. 15.), Festivals (Levit. 23.), Atonement Day, 



EXODUS RABBA 97 

etc. On the other hand there are special gifts, viz. : 
God's blessings (Levit. 25. and Numb. 6.), Palestine 
(Levit. 25.), the Torah (Prov. 3.), and Light (Isa. 60.). 
— Exod. Rabba 15. 

The reconstruction of the calendar, as far as the 
months are concerned, Nisson having taken the place of 
Tishri, as the head of the months, at the Exodus, was 
but in proper keeping with things. A king proclaimed 
the day of the birth of his son as a holiday ; the son was 
taken captive and enslaved, but eventually set free. 
The day of his freedom was henceforth ordered to be 
observed as the holiday, instead of the day of his birth. 
Thus God distinguished the month when his son, Israel, 
was set free from thraldom, and crowned it as henceforth 
the first or head of the months. — Exod. Rabba 15. 

There is a remedy for every sin, viz. prayer and 
repentance ; but there are three grievous sins for which 
there seems to be no expiation, and these are murder, 
idolatry and adultery. If therefore one says to you, 
* Let us go and murder, and we shall escape punishment,' 
beware of what was said even in the early days of the 
world's existence, before the Torah was given : ' He that 
sheds man's blood, through man his blood shall be shed.' 
If you are enticed to commit adultery and are perhaps 
persuaded that you can atone for it, flee from the very 
thought. The two laws, the one appertaining to the 
Nazirite and the one concerning a woman suspected of 
misconduct, are advisedly placed side by side because of 
their affinity to each other. The Nazirite, for instance, 
who takes upon himself to abstain from wine, is told that 
he is not permitted to partake of the very fruit that pro- 
duces intoxicants, so that the good resolution may not 
be frustrated, which would probably be the case were he 
to indulge in the tasting of the grape. Remember that 
a woman also is mentioned as a fruitful vine, so that a 
woman's and your own conduct should be like that 
prescribed for the Nazirite. Do not say, I will guard 

H 



98 THE MIDRASH 

myself against so great an offence as actual adultery, 
but there can be no harm in say, kissing, embracing, or 
caressing and fondling my neighbour's wife. Bear in 
mind that the Nazirite's resolution not to partake of 
wine was supplemented by the prohibition of partaking 
of the fruit that produces wine. ' Can a man take fire in 
his bosom,' says the wise king, ' and his clothes not be 
burnt ? Can one go upon hot coals and his feet not 
be scorched ? So he that goeth to his neighbour's 
wife ; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent ' 
(Prov. 6,). If again you are persuaded to commit the 
very grievous sin of idolatry, let these serious words ever 
be before you : ' He that sacrificeth unto any god, save 
unto the Eternal only, he shall be utterly destroyed ' 
(Exod. 22. 20). And not only are we prohibited the 
worship of a strange god, but all accessories of such 
worship are forbidden, even for the purpose of medicine, 
such as using some of the incense for a medicine, or any 
of the groves for any purpose whatsoever. We are told, 
' And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to 
thine hand ' (Deut. 13. 17) ; ' Neither shaft thou bring 
an abomination into thine house, lest thou be a 
cursed thing like it ' (Deut. 7. 26). — Exod. Rabba 16. 

There is in heaven an accuser and a defender of 
man ; the name of the former is Semoel and that of the 
latter Michael. — Exod. Rabba 18. 

Onkeles, who became a convert to Judaism, com- 
plained to the Rabbis that God's love for converts only 
went to the extent of giving them bread and raiment 
(Deut. 10. 18) : ' You have now joined the house of Israel,' 
replied one rabbi, ' and you should bear in mind that 
Israel (Jacob) asked the Lord only to give him bread to 
eat and raiment to put on, and therefore you might be 
contented with the promise to give you spontaneously 
what Israel had to petition for.' ' More than this,' 
added another of the wise men, ' the bread and raiment 
mentioned are not to be taken in their literal sense only, 



EXODUS RABBA 99 

for since you have entered the folds of God's people you 
are not precluded from eating the shcwbread and hav- 
ing for your raiment the priestly garments.' — Exod. 
Rabba 19. 

God may be regarded as saying to would-be prose- 
lytes : ' Perhaps you may hesitate to come within my 
fold because I have put a stigma on you by enacting, in 
connexion with the Passover lamb, ' No stranger shall 
eat thereof.' Inquire then of the Gibeonites who were 
received within the pale of the Israelites by practising 
fraud and because they feared earthly evil ; yet I 
punished Saul and his household because they did not 
deal kindly with the Gibeonites {2 Saml. 21.). If I 
valued the Gibeonites' conversion, how much more 
will I be pleased with those who seek to come under the 
banner of my law, not out of bodily fear but from motives 
of the higher life.' — Exod. Rabba 19. 

When, at the Exodus, Moses was anxious to take up 
Joseph's bones for interment in Palestine, Serach the 
daughter of Asher was still living, and she pointed out 
the spot of Joseph's sepulchre. — Exod. Rabba 20. 

Honour the physician so long as you do not require 
his skill. — Exod. Rabba 21. 

David advisedly calls one of his Psalms (Psalm 90.) 
' A prayer of Moses, the man of God,' and another Psalm 
(Psalm 102.) he names ' A prayer of the afflicted,' to 
convey to us the truth that the prayer of the greatest 
and of the most humble of men, that of the richest and 
that of the poorest, of the slave and of the master, are 
equal before God. — Exod. Rabba 21. 

Prayers should be said in common, master and man, 
mistress and maid, rich and poor together, for all are 
equal before God. — Exod. Rabba 21. 

By Isaac's blessings Esau became the possessor of the 
power of the hand, and he made good use of it. When 
the Israelites intended passing his country he warned 
them of his handy sword (Num. 20.). Not less does Jacob 



100 THE MIDRASH 

(i.e. Israel) appreciate his power of the voice, i.e. prayer. 
There will come a time when each will take the full 
benefit of the power possessed by him. Esau's is pre- 
dicted in the thirty-fourth chapter of Isaiah, and that of 
Israel in the thirty-third chapter of Jeremiah. — Exod. 
Rabba 21. 

The approach of Pharaoh on the shores of the Red Sea 
was worth a hundred fast days and a hundred formal or 
ordinary prayers. It caused the Israelites to lift up their 
hearts and eyes in trust and sincerity to their Heavenly 
Father, to whom they prayed and to whom they looked 
for help. — Exod. Rabba 21. 

If your hands are stained by dishonesty, your prayers 
will be polluted and impure, and an offence to Him to 
whom you direct them. Do not pray at all before you 
have your hands purified from every dishonest act. — 
Exod. Rabba 22. 

With all their professed faith, in Egypt, there was no 
real faith in the Israelites until they saw God's wonders 
on the Red Sea. Prompted by that faith they were 
enabled to compose and sing the exquisite song of praise. 
— Exod. Rabba 23. 

The song of praise that Israel offered on the Red Sea 
was pleasing to God as an outburst of real gratitude. 
There had indeed been no such praise offered to God 
since creation. Adam, formed out of dust and put above 
all creation, omitted to praise the Creator for the dignity 
conferred on him. Even Abraham, rescued from the 
fiery furnace and made conqueror of the kings he pur- 
sued, or Isaac when dehvered by the message of God 
from the knife, or Jacob when he resisted the attacking 
angel, withstood the enmity of Esau and the men of 
Shechem, not one was prompted to offer hymns to God 
for his protecting power and deliverance. It was left to 
the poor enslaved and oppressed Israelites, rescued from 
thraldom, to sing that exquisite h3ann to the glory of 
their God. — ^Exod. Rabba 23. 



EXODUS RABBA lOI 

Through their faith the IsraeHtes on the Red Sea 
became j)ossessed of the Holy Spirit. — Exod. Rabba 23. 

Man is the proudest of God's creatures, the eagle is 
the haughtiest amongst the birds, the ox amongst the 
cattle, and the lion amongst the beasts of the field. 
Hence it was the image of these four which Ezekiel saw 
in his vision on the throne of God. — Exod. Rabba 23. 

So persistent were the Israelites in their desire to 
return to Egypt, that Moses had to use force, after per- 
suasive language had failed, to make them continue their 
journey. Their arguments were that God's object in 
bringing them out of Egypt was fivefold : (i) to give 
them the Egyptians' goods, to which they were entitled 
as wages for their work ; (2) to lead them through the 
Red Sea ; (3) to shelter them with his cloud of glory ; 
(4) to avenge them on the Egyptians ; (5) to enable them 
to sing hymns of praise to Him. Now that all these 
things were accomplished, the Egyptians drowned, and 
not sufficient left in Egypt to force them again to slavery, 
their best step would be, they thought, to return to a 
country where, free from slavery, they could enjoy life 
infinitely better than in the wilderness that faced them, 
where there was no bread and no water, not to mention 
the fish and the onions of Egypt. But Moses pointed 
out to them that there was a great debt which they had 
not yet discharged. ' Ye shall serve God upon this 
mountain' (Exod. 3. 12), which was, in fact, the token 
beforehand of God's being with Moses and his mission to 
Pharaoh. — Exod. Rabba 24. 

' He made his people go forth like sheep and guided 
them in the wilderness like a flock ' (Ps. 78. 52). ' Like 
sheep ' — like the sheej) of Jethro which Moses led to the 
wilderness ; so he led the Israelites through the wilder- 
ness, for as sheep are not brought into the dwelling-house, 
and there is no fixed fund out of which to maintain them, 
so was it with Israel ; they had no buildings wherein to 
dwell, they had to pick up their food in the open. Not 



102 THE MIDRASH 

however like sheep destined for slaughter, for they are 
God's holy flock ; he who touches that which is holy 
unto the Lord incurs guilt, and he who touches Israel, 
God's firstborn, shall offend ; evil shall come upon them, 
says the prophet (Jer. 2.). — Exod. Rabba 24. 

That Saturday is the Sabbath proclaimed on Sinai was 
fully demonstrated to the Israelites in the wilderness. 
When, contrary to God's ordinance, they went out on 
that day to gather manna and found none, Moses told 
them ' See,' — he did not say ' Know ' but See — that God 
has given you the Sabbath, pointing out to them visibly 
the Sabbath day. — Exod. Rabba 25. 

The observance of the Sabbath proclaimed on Sinai 
by an Israelite outweighs all other commandments. 
And from the point of view that the Sabbath was estab- 
lished as a token between God and his people (Exod. 31. 
13) one is justified in saying that it is not right 
and proper for a non-Jew to observe that Sabbath ; it is 
the expression of a relation so intimate that the intrusion 
of a stranger would be resented. — Exod. Rabba 25. 

The ways of the Lord are inscrutable ; it is vain for 
mortal man to define how his work is done. If you wish 
to find out whence punishments or blessings come, you 
will be confounded in the attempt. The fire and brim- 
stone brought upon Sodom and Gomorrah came from 
heaven (Gen. 19.). You may perhaps conclude that 
punishment only comes thence, but you will then find 
the beneficial dew coming from heaven (Micah 5). 
The Egyptians received their plagues from heaven, 
and the retribution of the Ammonites came down from 
heaven (Joshua 10.) ; Sisera was fought against from 
heaven (Judg. 5.). On the other hand goodness and 
blessings came from heaven (Deut. 28.). Bread seems 
to come from earth only (Ps. 104.), but it comes from 
heaven also (Exod. 16.). Water came from earth 
(Numb. 21.), and you will find water from heaven 
(Deut. II.). 



EXODUS RABBA IO3 

The same confusion will meet you if you try to find the 
position or attitude of angels. You may conclude that 
they fly (Isa. 6. 6), but behold they stand (Isa. 6. 2). You 
find them sitting (Judg. 6.), and you find them walking 
too (Zech. 3). You conclude, in one instance, that they 
appear in the figure of a woman (Zech. 5.), but they are 
men (Gen. 18.), and they are also wind and fire (Ps. 
104. — Exod. Rabba 25. 

Because of his love, God did not disdain to do the 
work proper to a servant for the Israelites in the wilder- 
ness. He held a light for them through their wanderings 
there. He washed them, clothed them, and shod 
them (Ezkl. 16.). He carried them and watched over 
them when asleep (Ps. 121.). — Exod. Rabba 25. 

Every prophecy, afterwards uttered by various pro- 
phets, was handed over on Sinai at the time of the giving 
of the Decalogue, but was to be kept unproclaimed until 
each prophet had received the charge of proclaiming his 
respective prophecy. — Exod. Rabba 28. 

' I am the first and I am the last, and beside Me there 
is no God ' (Isa. 43. 6) I am the first, I have no father ; 
I am the last, I have no brother. Beside iNIe there is no 
God ; I have no son. — Exod. Rabba 29. 

Nature was silent and at rest when the Decalogue was 
proclaimed on Sinai. No animal made a sound, no fowl 
flew, the very angels kept silent, and desisted from 
praises before God. The billows of the sea became calm 
and at rest, and no creature uttered a sound whilst the 
words were uttered by the living God saying, ' I am the 
Lord thy God.' — Exod. Rabba 29. 

When Onkeles intimated to his uncle Hadrian his 
intention of becoming a convert to Judaism, the uncle 
ridiculed his nephew's taste for attaching himself to a 
people of such low estate and so despised. He asked 
Onkeles to tell him what prompted him to such a folly. 
Onkeles' reply was, ' The Jew, the most insignificant, and 
may be the most despised amongst men as he now is, 



104 THE MIDRASH 

knows more about God and the creation than any man 
amongst the other peoples, and the Torah contains 
nothing but Truth.' The uncle then permitted his 
nephew to dive into the study of the Torah, but for- 
bade him circumcision, which however Onkeles under- 
went. — Exod. Rabba 30. 

Poverty is man's greatest affliction. — Exod. Rabba 31. 

Moses offered his life for Israel and for the Torah, 
therefore these were designated as his. In Isaiah (63. 11) 
we are told, ' Moses and his people,' and in Malachi (3. 4) 
' Remember the law of Moses my servant.' — Exod. 
Rabba 30. 

Rabbis Gamaliel, Joshua, Eleazar b. Azaria and Akiba 
were preachers in Rome. — Exod. Rabba 30. 

Repentance makes virtues almost of the very vices of 
the penitent sinner. — Exod. Rabba 31. 

Riches, might, and worldly wisdom are not only not 
always a blessing to their possessors, but may be the 
very causes of their destruction. Korah and Haman had 
their fall brought about by their riches. Goliath paid 
with his life the penalty of his might, and Balaam's 
wisdom was his destruction. — Exod. Rabba 31. 

The poor are styled ' God's own.' — Exod. Rabba 31. 

He who lives by usury in this world shall not live in 
the world to come. — Exod. Rabba 31. 

' Behold I send an angel before thee, to keep thee in the 
way, and to bring thee into the place which I have pre- 
pared, etc' (Exod. 23. 20-22). ' Up to the time of 
the grievous sin of the people,' says God to Moses, ' I 
myself was leading them (Exod. 12.). By their making 
and worshipping the golden calf they have forfeited that 
high privilege and tender care. I will now send you an 
angel — or messenger — to lead you in the way. Beware 
not to rebel against him, for my name is in him ; he 
comes by my authority ; what he tells you he says in my 
name.' A similar expression is used in connexion with 
Moses himself, when God says (Exod. 19. 9), ' Behold 



EXODUS RABBA IO5 

1 come unto thee in a thick cloud that the people may 
hear when I speak with thee, and may believe in thee for 
ever,' which obviously does not mean that they should 
believe in Moses as a deity, but they should believe that 
he (Moses) speaks as God's messenger. 

Further, regarding the words that the angel shall not 
forgive their sins if they rebel against him, the meaning 
is that he has no such power as forgiving sin. Moreover, 
the words, ^2 l^n bi^ may mean ' Thou shalt not change 
him : not change him for God because he has taken up 
the leadership in the wilderness, instead of God who led 
you hitherto, and therefore worship him and pray to 
him for the forgiveness of sin. I alone forgive iniquity 
and pass away sin. — Exod. Rabba 32. 

When Moses was charged with the erection of the 
Mishkan he inwardly wondered that God who filleth the 
worlds above and below should require a residence made 
for Him. But the Lord said to him, ' Israel is my flock 
(Ezkl. 34.), 'and I am their shepherd ' (Ps. 80.) : make a 
hut for the shepherd whither he shall come to tend them. 
— Exod. Rabba 33. 

In giving his Torah to Israel, God is like a king who 
gives his only daughter in marriage, and makes it a con- 
dition with her husband that there shall always be a room 
kept for him in their house. If we wish to have the 
Torah, we must have God also. This is the meaning of 
the words ' Make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell 
therein.' — Exod. Rabba 33. 

My light, the Torah, says God to man, is in thy hand; 
but thy light, the soul, is in my hand. Take care of 
my light, so that I may take care of thy light. — Exod. 
Rabba 37. 

Gold is one of the things for the non-existence of which 
man would probably be all the better. It was originally 
called into existence for the service of the Mishkan and 
of the Temple. — Exod. Rabba 37. 

God requires but earnest prayer and a penitent heart. 



I06 THE MIDRASH 

Israel was redeemed from Egypt in answer to prayer. 
Joshua became a conqueror because of his prayer ; in the 
days of the judges help was obtained by prayer ; 
Samuel's help for his people was granted in reply to 
prayer. — Exod. Rabba 38. 

It was but proper that Aaron the holy (Ps. 106.) should 
enter the holy place (Exod. 15.) to make atonement before 
the Most Holy (Levit. ig.) for a holy people (Levit. 19.). 
— Exod. Rabba 38. 

The poor amongst Israel plead before the Lord, saying, 
' If one of our rich transgresses, he can bring a sacrifice 
for his accidental sin and it is atoned (Levit. 4. 22); but 
what are we, who have no means to purchase sacrifices, 
to do in order to expiate our sins ? ' In reply they are 
told to have regard to the words of the Psalmist and the 
prophets. 

The Psalmist says (Ps. 26. 6, 7), ' I will wash my hands 
in innocency,' and lest you should think that he alludes 
to the bringing of bullocks and goats he hastens to add, 
' So will I encompass thine altar, that I may cause to 
be heard the voice of thanksgiving and tell all thy 
wondrous work.' 

And the prophet Hosea tells you (Hosea 14. 3), ' Take 
with you words and return to the Lord.' Words, words 
of earnest prayer and not sacrifice, do I require. — Exod. 
Rabba 38. 

The tribe of Judah was the elite of the Israelites, that of 
Dan the plebeian. For the erection of the Mishkan God 
called for Bezaleel from the tribe of Judah, and com- 
manded that Aholiab, from the tribe of Dan, should be 
placed with him ; they jointly should do the work 
(Exod. 31. 1-6), to demonstrate that all, the one of high 
estate and the one of low estate, are alike before God. 
— Exod. Rabba 40. 

The Tablets of the commandments were called Tablets 
of Stones, because the punishment for violating the com- 
mandments was death by stoning. — Exod. Rabba 41. 



EXODUS RABBA I07 

Israel is the most arrogant among nations, like the dog 
amongst beasts and the cock amongst fowls. — Exod. 
Kabba 42. 

Moses, in pleading for the Israehtes against their 
projected destruction for making the golden calf, 
had recourse to all sorts of excuses in order to 
avert the threatened punishment. ' When appearing 
on Mount Sinai and proclaiming Thyself as the only 
God,' he pleaded. Thou didst say, ' I am the Lord 
thy God,' not in the plural, ' Your God,' so that 
this ignorant people, just set free from slaver5^ may 
perchance have taken this proclamation as strictly 
applying to me only.' The using of this argument 
seems to have been a fact because, whilst at the giv- 
ing of the commandments the singular 1'^'7^< ' thy 
God,' is used, thereafter the word DD^^':'^^. ' Your God,' 
is used. * Moreover,' Moses said, ' this golden calf may 
be thy coadjutor, O God. Thou causest the sun to 
shine : the golden calf will take over some of the work- 
ings of nature, and may cause the rain to descend. 
Thou wilt send down the dew, and the golden calf will 
cause the herb to grow.' Moses received the merited 
rebuke from God, who said, ' Thou also hast become an 
idolater ; is there any power in that idol which the people 
have made themselves as a god ? is it anything but 
inanimate matter ? ' 

' Why then,' Moses said, ' shouldst Thou bo angry with 
thy people who have made this worthless, powerless 
thing ? ' Further Moses argued and pleaded ' Why does 
thine anger grow against the people whom Thou hast 
brought out from Egypt ? They have been slaves of the 
Egyptians, a people who worshipped animals as their 
gods ; and can it be wondered at that they imitated 
their masters ? A man once got for his son a trade which 
brought him into contact with a set of men of question- 
able repute, whose habits he soon adopted. The father 
became incensci to such an extent that he threatened 



I08 THE MIDRA3H 

his son's destruction ; but a friend pleaded for the son by 
pointing out to the father that he, by the force of cir- 
cumstances, had somewhat contributed to the evil habits 
of his son, by having put him into a trade which brought 
him into the company of evildoers. The Israelites are but 
like children prone to adopt the ways and manners of 
their elders, and if they are now destroyed there will be 
no chance for them to develop the better and higher life, 
to redeem the evil they have done, and to live by the law 
which Thou hast proclaimed.' Moses prevailed with his 
prayer. And yet we see distinctly that not until Moses 
made mention of the Patriarchs was the reply ' And the 
Lord repented of the evil which He thought to do to 
His people ' given. Just as a vine, to which Israel is 
likened (Ps. 80. 9), requires dead branches to support 
and prop the living ones, so Israel requires his departed 
ancestors' merits for his support. Thus Solomon says 
(Eccl. 9.) 'And I praise the dead which died long ago' ; 
and so Moses, perceiving that his pleadings and prayers 
of forty days' duration (Deut. 9, 18-25) were left un- 
answered, made mention of the Patriarchs, and then his 
prayer was answered. There was yet another reason for 
Moses' mention of the three Patriarchs in his intercession 
for the Israelites. ' If death,' he said, * is total annihila- 
tion, and there is now nothing of Abraham, Isaac, and 
Jacob, I have no plea for the sinning people ; but if they 
— the Patriarchs — live in another, better and higher 
sphere, what of the promise made to them to multiply 
their offspring like the stars of the heavens ? ' Finally 
Moses mentioned that God was prepared to spare Sodom 
and Gomorrah if there could be found ten righteous men ; 
and he agreed to produce the number demanded to 
save a sinning community, i.e. Aaron, Eliezer, Ithamar, 
Phineas, Joshua, Caleb and himself, but there were still 
three lacking to make up the Ten. Then Moses inquired 
of God again whether the righteous who depart from this 
world live in another world, and he received a reply in 



EXODUS RABBA IO9 

the affirmative. ' Remember then,' he prayed, ' the 
Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who with the 
seven names mentioned will make up the ten righteous ; 
for whose sake vouchsafe to save thy people.' — Exod. 
Rabba 43 and 44. 

If thou hast done any meritorious act, do not ask at 
once for the reward thereof ; if you receive it not, your 
offspring after you will receive it. What would have 
become of us if our Patriarchs had asked for and received 
the reward of their merits whilst they lived ? — Exod. 
Rabba 44. 

Moses considered the breaking of the Tablets preferable 
to delivering them to the people, after they had made the 
golden calf. He was like a man commissioned by a king 
to convey the marriage contract to his future bride, 
who learns on his way that the would-be bride has 
rendered herself guilty of a serious indiscretion. He 
decides — in the woman's own interest — not to proceed 
further with the nuptial contract, but to tear it up, as 
she will thus still be unmarried and her guilt less serious 
than if she were guilty of her misdeed after she had 
received her marriage lines. — Exod. Rabba 43 and 
46. 

When God first called Moses, not being then an expert 
proj)het, he was addressed in a voice similar to that of 
his own father, and he thought that his father had come 
to him from Egypt. God then told him that it was not 
his earthly father who called him, but the God of his 
father. Then, we find, Moses hid his face, which he did 
not do when first called by his name ; not in fact until 
he heard the words, ' I am the God of thy fathers.' — 
Exod. Rabba 45. 

It is prohibited to preach out of manuscript. Sermons 
are to be delivered without the help of any writing 
before the preacher. — Exod. Rabba 47. 

If you want a vine to flourish it should be replanted 
on another soil. God replanted his vine — Israel — from 



no THE MIDRASH 

Egypt to Palestine, and it became famous. — Exod. 
Rabba 44. 

There were two ships : the one left the harbour, and 
the other entered it. The spectators expressed their joy 
over the ship that was leaving, but took hardly any notice 
of the incoming one. Amongst the spectators was a man 
of sound sense, who pointed out to the crowd that their 
joy was misplaced, inasmuch as there should be more joy 
at a ship safely returned from its voyage than for the ship 
whose fate no one could foretell. This is what King 
Solomon meant when he said that the day of death is 
better than the day of one's birth, since no one can 
foretell the career of the newly-born child, whilst if a man 
goes hence with a good record behind him such death is 
better than a new birth. — Exod. Rabba 48. 

* And they brought earrings, rings, tablets and jewels 
of gold ' (Exod. 35. 22). We have here five different 
articles of gold, in accordance with the law laid 
down (Exod. 21.) : if one defrauds with a bullock, he 
shall pay five-fold. They had committed a sin with the 
gold in making the golden calf, and they brought to the 
sanctuary the five-fold penalty. — Exod. Rabba 48. 

Why was the Mishkan called ' the Tabernacle of 
Testimony ' (Exod. 38. 23) ? Because it testified to the 
fact that Israel gained forgiveness and was received 
again into God's favour. A king had a beloved wife, 
but she had forfeited his love by her conduct and was 
sent away ; and the public concluded that the couple 
had parted for ever. After a lapse of time the king 
reinstated his first love, but the populace were still 
dubious about the reconciliation. When however she 
was seen in the king's palace adorned with all the charms 
befitting a queen, the happy relations between the king 
and his consort could no longer be doubted. So when 
the Shechinah vouchsafed to dwell in the Mishkan, it 
was a glorious demonstration that the Lord was recon- 
ciled with his people. — Exod. Rabba 51. 



EXODUS RABBA III 

A pupil of Rabbi Simeon b. Joshua went abroad and 
returned with wealth. When the other pupils came to 
know of it, they too clamoured to go abroad. The Rabbi 
bade them follow him, and he brought them to a valley 
where he pulled out a quantity of gold coins, saying, 
' If it is gold you want, here it is ; take it. Remember, 
however, that not every one can have a double reward. 
Perchance if you have this gold, which may procure you 
pleasures on earth, you are likely to have no reward here- 
after, where the righteous can rely on receiving it.' — 
Exod. Rabba 52. 



LEVITICUS RABBA 

The great characteristic of Moses — humility — pervades 
his life throughout. When he was first charged with the 
mission to Pharaoh his hesitation in accepting the charge 
was based upon self-abasement. ' Who am I,' he says, 
' that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring 
out Israel from Egypt ? ' Any other man, having 
been selected by God Himself as the fit and proper 
person to be his own messenger, would surely have been 
induced to think more of himself ; but not so Moses. 
Coming to the Red Sea, he again retires in his humility, 
not being bold enough to take the initiative until called 
upon by the Lord. * And thou lift up thy rod, and 
stretch out thy hand over the sea and divide it, (Exod. 
14). At the l^^r^ bni^, the Tabernacle of the congre- 
gation, his deep humility again manifests itself ; he does 
not venture to approach until the Lord calls him (Levit. 
I. i). — Levit. Rabba i. 

If you are a man of distinction and entitled to a pro- 
minent seat at an assembly, seat yourself, nevertheless, 
two or three seats lower, for it is better to be told ' Go 
up,' than to be asked to ' go down.' Hillel was wont to 
say, ' If I condescend I am exalted, but if I am haughty I 
am degraded.' — Levit. Rabba i. 

Pharaoh's daughter married Caleb. — Levit. Rabba i. 

The Torah sets us an example of refinement of speech. 
If allusion is made to an offering made by man, it is said 
(Levit. I. 2,) * If any man of you bring an offering,' but 
if anything objectionable needs to be spoken of — such as 

112 



LEVITICUS RABBA II3 

lo])iosy — the expression is not ' if any one of you shall 
have leprosy,' but ' if there shall happen to be a boil in 
any flesh.' Further, when a blessing is pronounced it is 
given fully and distinctly, ' these shall stand up to bless 
the people ' (Deut, 27. 12) ; but when it is necessary 
to threaten with a curse, the words ' the people ' are 
omitted, and the phrase used is, ' they shall curse.' — 
Levit. Rabba 2. 

Better for you to have no more than two ' Zehubim ' 
(coins = about a shilling) as the means with which to 
gain a livelihood, than to be a man of large capital and 
employ it in usury. — Levit. Rabba 3. 

If sincere converts to Judaism enter heaven, Antoninus 
will be at the head of them. — Levit. Rabba 3. 

The proverb says, ' If you give out your money in usury 
you will lose what you gain as well as your original 
capital.' — Levit. Rabba 3. 

Whom will the Lord hold responsible after death for 
the unrighteous life on earth ? The body as inanimate 
matter can surely not be affected by anything done to it. 
The soul has surelya very tangible plea in the fact that all 
misdeeds were committed by the body whilst alive, for 
which it (the soul) ^'•'ould not be held responsible. But 
it is as though the owner of a very valuable garden, being 
anxious for the preservation of his fruit, employed two 
men, one blind and the other lame, to watch his orchard. 

Said the lame one to the blind, ' Would I could walk ! 
I could feast on the wonderful and enticing fruit which I 
see all round about me.' ' I,' said the blind man, ' am 
strong enough in my legs, but unfortunately have not the 
sense of sight, and cannot even feast my eyes on the 
choice fruit of which you tell me. Supposing,' sug- 
gested he to his lame comrade, ' you were to get on my 
back and pilot me to those wonderful trees which you 
see, I could with ease carry you there and you could 
pluck the coveted fruit for both of us.' The suggestion 
wits adopted, and the garden was quickly despoiled. 

I 



114 THE MIDRASH 

When the owner visited his garden, he was shocked at 
the havoc committed on what to him was his most 
precious possession, and charged the two men with 
depredation. 

Said the bhnd man, ' I surely cannot be guilty of the 
theft of a thing the existence and whereabouts of which 
I could not even see.' ' Neither was I able,' said the 
lame watchman, ' to lay my hand on any of the fruit, for 
you know that my legs refuse to carry me a step.' The 
owner of the orchard was, however, able to demonstrate 
the method employed by the pair in robbing him of his 
precious fruit, by taking the lame man and putting him 
on the back of the blind watchman, and making the 
latter carry the former to the trees. Thus the Psalmist 
intimates (Ps. 50. 4), ' He will call to the heavens above 
and to the earth that He may judge his people ' : that 
is to say. He will unite man's heavenly element (the 
soul) with his earthly element (the body) again, and will 
fix the responsibility on the reunited whole. — Levit. 
Rabba 4. 

' Your Torah tells you,' argued a heathen with one of 
the Rabbis, ' to be guided by the majority. Why then 
do you decline to adopt the religion of the majority ? ' 
' Apart from the fact,' replied the sage, ' that a large 
number is no argument in a matter of religion, and my 
Torah also tells me ' You shall not go after the multitude 
to do evil,' I will ask you a question. ' Have you any 
children ? ' ' Yes, to my sorrow,' replied the ques- 
tioner, ' for they cause me sorrow with their religious 
views ; whenever they come together there is contention 
between them as to the truth of their respective beliefs.' 
' Try then,' retorted the Rabbi, ' to create unity and 
harmony regarding religion in your own family, rather 
than waste your efforts in trying to bring me to your 
views.' When the questioner had gone the Rabbi's 
disciples said to him, ' It is well that the heathen left you 
with the lame argument you gave him ; but what have 



LEVITICUS RABBA II5 

you in reality to say as to the paucity of followers of our 
religion ? ' 

' Esau's family,' answered their teacher, ' is spoken of 
as consisting of so many souls, whilst the seventy 
members of Jacob's family are described as one soul, 
because the former had many gods, but the latter had 
aU of them one and the same God. So that even if a 
majority were an argument in favour of religion, still, 
though we are apparently smaller in number, we are 
actually larger if we are not divided in our monotheism ' 
— Levit. Rabba 4. 

Great and dignified names which have been given to 
Israel have also been bestowed on other nations, such 
as ' Congregation,' ' mighty,' ' wise,' ' perfect,' and 
' righteous.' — Levit. Rabba 5. 

If a man is a witness, whether he has seen or other- 
wise knows of a thing, if he does not testify he shall 
bear his iniquity (Levit. 5. i). ' You, my people,' says God 
to Israel, 'have both seen (Deut. 4. 35), and know 
(Deut. 5. 39) that I am God, and thus you are my proper 
witnesses (Isa. 43. 10). If then you will not proclaim Me 
as God to all nations of the earth, you shall bear your 
iniquity.' — Levit. Rabba 6. 

A certain ruler there was, who when thieves and the 
recipients of their stolen goods were brought before him, 
invariably discharged the former and severely punished 
the latter. — Levit. Rabba 6. 

If you sit in judgment and you find one of the litigants 
anxious to verify his statement by taking an oath, have 
suspicion against that individual. 

There was a man named Bar Talmion with whom one 
deposited a sum of money for safe keeping. When the 
depositor called for his deposit Bar Talmion said, Surely I 
have placed in your own hands the amount you left with 
me. When they came before Rabbi Asse and his court 
Bar Talmion was anxious to verify his assertion on oath, 
and the two litigants accompanied by the Rabbi went to 



Il6 THE MIDRASH 

the synagogue to have the oath taken there. At the 
entrance of the sacred edifice Bar Talmion said to the 
plaintiff, ' Just take this stick and hold it for me whilst 
I take the solemn oath.' The stick being unusually 
heavy excited suspicion, and was broken to see the cause 
of its remarkable weight, when the coins deposited with 
the rascal fell out from the hollow made for the pur- 
pose of being a receptacle for the money ; the perjurer 
having placed the stick in the hands of the plaintiff, 
thinking that by this subterfuge he could honestly 
swear that he had returned the money to the claimant's 
own hands. — Levit. Rabba 6. 

Broken things are not admired, but God is pleased 
with a broken spirit and contrite heart. — Levit. Rabba 7. 

God pairs — in marriages — and appoints all destinies. — 
Levit. Rabba 8. 

By the ordinance of sacrifices we are taught lessons of 
frugality. He who could afford it had to bring a bullock ; 
if a man's means did not reach so far, then a sheep was as 
well accepted ; and if that was beyond his means, a goat 
was accepted, or a dove if a goat was too costly ; and 
the very poor who could afford neither of these could 
bring a handful of flour. This very inexpensive sacrifice 
could be brough tin two instalments (Levit. 6.). — Levit. 
Rabba 8. 

All sacrifices, except thankofferings, will be abolished 
in future; and even should prayer be abolished, that 
portion thereof which comes under Praises will not be 
abolished. — Levit. Rabba 9. 

All contention amongst the Israelites ceased when they 
stood at the foot of Sinai to receive the commandments, 
and owing to the peace and harmony that existed then 
amongst them they were fit and qualified to receive God's 
behests. — Levit. Rabba 9. 

Amongst the heavenly bodies and beings there is no 
envy, jealousy, hatred or contention ; yet it is said (Job 
25. 2), ' He maketh peace in his high places.' How 



LEVITICUS RABBA II7 

much more, then, is peace needed amongst God's crea- 
tures in this lower sphere. — Levit. Rabba 9. 

The creation of peace and goodwill amongst men 
towers above all other God's commandments. Take for 
instance that b2a'Jtiful commandment of restoring your 
enemy's lost cattle. One is not bidden to go and seek 
them, only if you meet them you are bound to restore 
them (Exod. 23). Or again the injunction regarding a 
birds' nest ; you have not to seek this out, it is only 
when you happen to meet with one that your duty 
applies. But with regard to peace and goodwill we are 
distinctly asked to pursue it (Ps. 34.). We are to seek 
and establish it in our midst, and pursue and found it 
ever^'\vhere else. — Levit. Rabba 9. 

The })rophet Amos was a stutterer. — Levit. Rabba 10. 

Where repentance effects half, prayer is wholly effec- 
tive. — Levit. Rabba 10. 

Without the young there would be no pupils, and 
without them there would be no scholars ; and without 
them again there would be no want of the Torah, with- 
out which we would have no place of worship, no 
l^lace of study ; and without these God w'ould not vouch- 
safe his Shechinah amongst us. — Levit. Rabba 11. 

King Solomon was very abstemious till he married 
Pharaoh's daughter ; then he began to indulge in wine 
rather freely. On his marriage there was a double 
rejoicing, the one in honour of the Temple, and the other 
to celebrate his (forbidden) marriage. His new wife 
danced eighty rounds ; and Solomon, who kept the keys 
of the Temple under his pillow, overslept himself four 
hours, and there could consequently be no service in the 
Temple the following morning. His mother administered 
to him a sharj) rebuke for this, reminding him of his 
father's great joy when the prophet Nathan foretold the 
birth of Solomon, and that his great joy was because of 
the Temple which his son was to build for the service of 
God, which he (Solomon) so shamefully neglected. — 
Levit. Rabba 12. 



Il8 THE MIDRASH 

Alexander of Macedonia invariably rose when he saw 
Simeon the Righteous. Some of his ministers expressed 
their amazement that so proud a king should rise — as 
they said — for a Jew. His explanation was that when 
he embarked on a war and had previous to his starting 
seen the image of this holy man he could reckon on 
victory. — Levit. Rabba 13. 

The last Darius was the son of Esther. — Levit. Rabba 13. 

God considered all the nations, and found Israel in the 
wilderness the most fit and proper to be the recipients of 
his Torah. Likewise Sinai was decided to be the most 
fitting spot for the purpose. Jerusalem was fixed upon 
as the best place for the Temple, and Palestine as the 
country for Israel. — Levit. Rabba 13. 

A man is not consulted by his parents as to whether he 
wishes to be brought into this world.^ — Levit. Rabba 
14. 

Man is the last in creation and the first in responsibility. 
— Levit. Rabba 14. 

A woman can only conceive either immediately before 
or a certain number of days after menstruation. — Levit. 
Rabba 14. 

There was a limit to every prophet's inspiration. 
Beeri, the father of Hosea, only uttered a few words of 
prophecy, and as they were insufficient to be embodied 
in a book by themselves, they were incorporated within 
the book of Isaiah, viz. verses 19 and 20 of the 8th 
chapter of Isaiah. — Levit. Rabba 15. 

Man's body should contain an equal portion of water 
and blood ; if the blood increases and preponderates over 
the water, he becomes afflicted with leprosy. — Levit. 
Rabba 15. 

It is very dangerous to be within four yards of a leper, 
and of his breath even within a hundred yards. — Levit. 
Rabba 16. 

^ Schiller expresses the same idea. 



LEVITICUS RABBA II9 

Ninety-nine out of a hundred evils which overtake man 
can be traced to his own acts. — Levit. Rabba 16. 

If your prayers are earnest, hope for the fulfilment of 
them. — Levit. Rabba 16. 

The human tongue is not free, like some other members 
of the human body, but is confined in the mouth, and 
moreover is constantly in moisture : yet how many burns 
can it cause with its sharp edge and its fire. How much 
worse then would it have been, were that dangerous 
member of the human body possessed of more facilities. — 
Levit. Rabba 16. 

If speech is silver, then silence is gold. — Levit. Rabba 
16. 

Sweet is the attainment of the evil inclination at the 
start, but bitter, very bitter in the end. — Levit. Rabba 16. 

Antoninus asked Rabbi Judah Hanasi to pray for 
him. ' May you be protected against cold,' said the 
wise man. Antoninus demurred, saying, ' Oh, an addi- 
tional coat will do that for me.' ' Then,' exclaimed the 
Rabbi, ' may you be sheltered against heat and drought ! ' 
a wish that thoroughly pleased Antoninus. — Levit. 
Rabba 16. 

At the approach of the Israelites to the promised land, 
the Girgashites offered no resistance, but were ready to 
vacate their country for the Israelites to take possession 
of it, in consideration of which compensation was granted 
them, viz. Africa was given to them, a country in every 
respect as good as the one they had given up. The 
Gibeonites formed a peaceful alliance with the Israelites, 
l)ut thirty-one of the princes and chieftains offered resist- 
ance and were conquered. — Levit. Rabba 17. 

At first sight it would be difficult to understand why 
the message concerning leprosy in the land which the 
Israelites were to take possession of should be couched in 
language like that of a promise. ' When you come into 
the land of Canaan,' says Holy Writ, ' I put the plague of 
leprosy in a house of the land of your possession ' 



120 THE MIDRASH 

(Levit. 14. 34). But when the Canaanites heard of 
Israel's approaching their borders, they hid their trea- 
sures in the secret places of their houses and in the fields ; 
and when they vacated the country in haste their 
hidden treasures, which they had no time to take up, 
were left behind. When therefore the plague of leprosy 
was sent, the houses, — according to the law of Moses — 
had to be razed to the ground, and the hidden treasures 
were discovered and taken possession of by the Israelites. 
Joshua sent these tribes due notice of the approach of the 
Israelites to possess themselves of the land of promise, 
and offered them the opportunity of either leaving the 
country with all their movable property or offering 
resistance, in which event, in case of their defeat, they 
would forfeit their movables with their immovables. — 
Levit. Rabba 17. 

The prophet Obadiah was an Edomite who embraced 
the Jewish faith. — Levit. Rabba 18. 

God tells man, ' Behold, I am pure, my habitation is 
pure, my ministering angels are pure, and the spark of 
Myself (the soul) deposited with you is pure : take heed 
that you restore to Me that spark in the same state of 
purity as when it was given to you.' — Levit. Rabba 18. 

If man with all his knowledge and wisdom were to try 
his utmost to alter so little of nature or of creation as even 
to make the wing of the raven white, he would utterly 
fail in his efforts. Equally would they fail, if all nations 
of the world were to endeavour to annul one word of the 
Torah. — Levit. Rabba 19. 

Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem and took up his 
position at the side of Antisachia. The great Sanhedrin 
went out to him, asking the object of his coming. 
He demanded to have Jehoiakim delivered to him, or he 
would lay siege to the city. Jehoiakim pleaded hard 
against being delivered into the hands of Nebuchad- 
nezzar, but was reminded of his shocking career of 
iniquity, of the gross and unspeakable misdeeds he was 



LEVITICUS RABBA 121 

guilty of. He was given up to Nebuchadnezzar, who 
put him in irons, subjected him to a cruel death, and had 
the corpse exhibited in a wooden box in the shape of a 
donkey, throughout Judea. He then set Jechoniah, the 
son of Jehoiakim, on his father's throne, but when he 
returned to Babylon his people reproached him for his 
act of folly in having given the throne to the son of so 
inveterate an enemy and so notorious a sinner. Nebu- 
chadnezzar then returned to Jerusalem and demanded 
the delivery of Jechoniah , with which demand the people 
complied. Before he was given over to Nebuchadnezzar 
he went with the keys of the Temple to the top of his 
house and threw the keys down, saying that he delivered 
them up to God ? who would appoint a worthier man to 
take charge of them. He was carried to Babylon, and 
through the influence of Shealtiel and Nebuchadnezzar's 
wife (Shemirimith) he was treated with less rigour, and 
he was even subsequently allowed certain privileges. 
His son Zcrubbabel was born in Babylon, and the king- 
dom was restored to this good man. Jechoniah died 
penitent and at peace with his Maker. — Levit. Rabba 
19. (See also Gen. Rabba 94.) 

If you want to court derision, give your opinion on 
weighty matters in the presence of your teachers or your 
superiors. — Levit. Rabba 20. 

Do not enter any house without some indication of your 
coming, such as knocking at the door : even in your own 
house you should not make your appearance suddenly or 
unexpectedly ; something may be going on there which, 
however innocent, may cause you annoyance and may 
lead to a want of peace and harmony in your household. 
— Levit. Rabba 21. 

The 27th Psalm contains the song of the Red Sea. — 
Levit. Rabba 21. 

The high-priest with all his dignity and greatness was 
not to enter the Sanctuary in golden but in modest linen 
garments. It would be inconsistent that he who made 



122 THE MIDRASH 

atonement for the people should be attired in the very 
material (gold) with which they committed such grievous 
sin. Another reason for the humble attire was that the 
high-priest was to be impressed and to impress others 
with humility and not with pride. — Levit. Rabba 21. 

There were but eighteen priests ministering in the first 
Temple, but they were skilful servants, and the Temple 
service was kept up for four hundred and ten years. Not 
so was it, unfortunately, in the second Temple, where 
over eighty priests officiated. With a few honourable 
exceptions, they were unworthy to serve on the altar of 
God. Some bought their position with money, and there 
were others amongst them who did not disdain to use 
witchcraft. — Levit. Rabba 21. 

He who defrauds his fellow-man — no matter how small 
an amount — has it in him to go to the extent of taking 
life. — Levit. Rabba 22. 

A king had a stupid son who was in the habit of eating 
all sorts of abominations when absent from his father's 
table. The king ordered that his son should be indulged 
in his fancy at his — the king's, own — table, considering 
this the best means of weaning his son of his objectionable 
habit. Thus the Israelites, when in Egypt, got into 
the habit of offering sacrifices to the Egyptian gods ; 
they were therefore commanded to bring the sacrifices 
which they used to offer to demons (Levit. 17. 7) unto the 
Tabernacle of the Lord.^ — Levit. Rabba 22. 

The present Rome is Edom. — Levit. Rabba 22. 

Adultery can be committed with the eyes. — Levit. 
Rabba 23. 

The nineteenth chapter of Leviticus contains the Ten 
Commandments. — Levit. Rabba 24. 

The inhabitants of Canaan had vices similar to those 
of the Egyptians, as regards witchcraft and immorality. 
The Israelites, who had seen nothing but evil practices 

1 See also ^laimonides' Moreh Nehitchini, cap. 3. 



LEVITICUS RABBA 123 

up to now, would be prone to conclude — seeing the 
same vicious practices amongst the remaining nations 
of Canaan — that these practices were common to man- 
kind. Wherefore God tells them (Levit. i8. 2), ' After 
the doings of the land of Egypt wherein you dwelt shall 
ye not do, and after the doings of the land of Canaan 
wherein I bring you shall ye not do.' As in Egypt, 
so will you be in Canaan, a rose amongst thorns. — Levit. 
Rabba 24. 

* Thy camp shall be holy ' (Deut. 23. 15). By this it is 
meant that we must be choice in speech. — Levit. Rabba 

The Israelites were commanded to plant trees in Ca- 
naan when it came into their possession (Levit. 19. 23). 
Thus they were to occupy themselves in agriculture, and 
even imitate their God, who after calling the world into 
existence planted trees therein. — Levit. Rabba 25. 

Adrianus (Hadrian) was passing on his way to Tiberias 
when he saw a very old man digging holes preparatory to 
planting trees. Addressing the old man, he said : ' I can 
understand you having worked in your younger days to 
provide food for yourself, but you seem to labour in vain 
at this work. You can surely not expect to eat of the fruits 
which the trees, that you intend planting, will bring 
forth ? ' 'I,' said the old man, ' must nevertheless do 
my duty as long as I am able to do it.' ' How old are 
you ? ' asked Adrianus. ' I am a hundred years old,' 
replied the planter, * and the God who granted me these 
long years may even vouchsafe me to eat of the fruit of 
these trees. But in any case I do not grudge the labour 
on them, and as it pleases the Lord so He may do with 
me.' * Promise me,' said Adrianus, ' that if you should 
be alive when these trees bear figs you will apprise me of 
it.' When the trees brought forth their fruit the old man 
loaded a basket full of figs, and made his way with the 
fruit to the king's palace. Arrived at the gate he was at 
first refused admission, but owing partly to his persist- 



124 THE MIDRASH 

ence and partly to his venerable appearance his wish for 
an audience was conveyed to the king, who granted it. 
On being asked his wish, he reminded the king that he 
was the old man whom his majesty had observed plant- 
ing trees, and that he had expressed the wish to be 
acquainted with the fact if the old man should be alive 
when the trees bore fruit. ' Here,' continued the old 
man, ' I have brought a basket full of the figs which I 
plucked from the trees your majesty saw me planting.' 
So pleased was Adrianus with the incident that he 
accepted the fruit from the gray-haired man and ordered 
the basket, now empty, to be filled with coins. — Levit. 
Rabba 25. 

The word ''IDii' used for ' cock ' instead of the word 
'pjjnn is Arabic. — Levit. Rabba 25. 

Slander injures the slanderer, the victim, and the 
listener, and sad indeed may be its baneful effects. A 
man, it is related, was affianced to a woman afflicted with 
this dreadful vice, and in spite of the man's entreaties 
she could not or would not give up entirely the vicious 
practice. One day she told her affianced that his own 
father had made unbecoming advances to her, and sug- 
gested that, in order to satisfy himself of the truth of her 
statement, he should arrive at the house in the evening 
unexpectedly, and he would find his father making 
advances to her. Arriving at the house, he found his 
father in a kneeling posture before the woman, as he was 
begging of her, on his knees, to give up her slanderous 
habits and render herself worthy of being the wife of such 
a good young man as his beloved son was. The young man, 
however, remembering what his affianced had repeatedly 
stated, and seeing his father in a suspicious attitude, 
considered her story confirmed, and in a moment of rage 
killed his father. On the affair being investigated it was 
found that the murdered man was quite innocent. His 
son was put to death for the murder, and the woman 
suffered the same penalty, for being the chief cause of 



LEVITICUS RABBA 125 

tlie whole tragedy. Thus wore three lives sacrificed 

through a lying and slanderous tongue. — Levit.Rabba 26. 

There is a Rabbinical phrase not infrequently met with, 

viz. t^m ^2y:;' D\"3Dn nai by muM bj ' He who 

wilfully transgresses the enactments of the sages de- 
serves the bite of the serpent.' The Midrash explains 
this peculiar expression as follows : One asks the 
serpent, ' Why are you so fond of hiding under fences ? ' 
and its reply is, ' Because I broke down the first great 
fence of the world, the fence that existed between Adam 
and death.' Now the enactments of the sages are 
Dm;i ' fences,' set round about the law of God to guard 
it, and he who breaks through them deserves to meet 
with the one hidden under them who was the first to 
break them. — Levit. Rabba 26. 

King Saul's conduct may well be compared to that of 
the king who decreed that all the cocks of the town should 
be destroyed, but the following day, having to under- 
take a journey and wishing to rise early, gave orders to 
procure him a cock to wake him at an early hour. Saul 
ordered all witches and wizards to be destroyed, and yet 
he was anxious to seek out a witch to learn from her the 
secrets of heaven. — Levit. Rabba 26. 

God makes no choice of persecutors, but rather of the 
persecuted. Abel was the victim of Cain, Abel's offer- 
ings were accepted ; Noah was persecuted by his contem- 
l-)oraries, Abraham by Nimrod, Isaac by the early 
Philistines, Jacob by Esau, Joseph by his brothers, 
Moses by Pharaoh, David by Saul, and Saul himself by the 
Philistines ; and amongst all these the persecuted and 
not the persecutors were chosen by God. This does not 
apply to man only, but also to the lower animals. The ox 
is pursued by the lion, the sheep by the wolf, and not the 
pursuer, but the pursued, is chosen for God's altar. — 
Levit. Rabba 27. 

Heathens were in the habit of taunting the Israelites 
with making the golden calf, a transgression which they 



126 THE MIDRASH 

said would never be forgiven them. As a mark, there- 
fore, of having pardoned their sin, -God mentioned the 
ox at the head of sacrifices. — Levit. Rabba 27. 

The trumpets jmsiti^ used in the Temple could be 
made from the horns of any animal, but might not be 
made from the horns of a cow, because that animal was 
connected with Israel's idolatry. — Levit. Rabba 27. 

Israel had not to maintain the three leaders with whom 
God provided them in the wilderness, though it is invari- 
ably incumbent on any organized society to have to 
maintain their officers of state. Here on the contrary 
they were the means of sustaining the people : Moses 
brought down the manna, Miriam brought up the waters 
of the wells, and Aaron invoked the clouds of glory. — 
Levit. Rabba 27. 

It cannot be doubted that those who instigated the 
Israelites to make the golden calf were of ' the mixed 
multitude,' who fastened themselves on to the Israelites 
at the Exodus, and there is incontestable evidence of this 
in the words employed at the end of the pernicious 
work, for it is said (Exod. 32. 4) ' These are thy gods.' 
Had the Israelites been the workers of this iniquity, they 
would have more appropriately said, ' This is oiir god 
that brought us out,' etc. — Levit. Rabba 27. 

The number seven seems to be particularly selected 
and sanctified. Arovoth is the seventh name of heaven, 
and is especially favoured (Ps. 68. 5). " Tebel " is the 
seventh name by which this world is known, and that too 
has special mention (Ps. 96. 4). Enoch was in the seventh 
generation from Adam, and Moses was in the seventh 
generation from Abraham ; David was the seventh son of 
Jesse, and Asa was the seventh king after Saul. Then 
the seventh day was sanctified as the Sabbath, the seventh 
year as the sabbatical year, and seven sabbatical 
years as the Jubilee ; and almost the whole of the 
seventh month is devoted to solemn festivals. — Levit. 
Rabba 29. 



LEVITICUS RARBA I27 

The Temple required no light from the outer world, 
but had to diffuse light io the outer world. The forma- 
tion of its windows indicated this fact. — Levit. Rabba 31. 

There were some beautiful traits in the character of the 
Israelites in Egyjjt, by which alone they merited redemp- 
tion. They did not change their names, such as Rufus 
instead of Reuben, Leon in lieu of Simeon, Listus in place 
of Joseph, or Alexander for Benjamin. Neither had they 
changed their language, but they retained the Hebrew 
tongue. They eschewed slander, and they were very 
chaste. — Levit. Rabba 32. 

* The merciful man,' says King Solomon, ' doeth good 
to his own soul, but he that is cruel troubleth his own 
flesh ' (Prov. 11. 17). Solomon meant by this, the rich 
who disdain to invite their poor relatives to their festive 
tables. — Levit. Rabba 34. 

The opening words of the forty-first Psalm, ' Happy is 
he that considereth the poor,' were interpreted by 
the rabbis in various ways. It is maintained by one 
authority that the words fit him whose better propensi- 
ties prevail over the evil ones ; another has it that they 
allude to him who visits the sick ; and yet another refers 
the words to the man who not only helps the poor, but 
considers the best way of really helping them without 
making them feel the sense of shame which receipt 
of charity may cause them. Thus Rabbi Jonah, to 
whose knowledge it came that a person, formerly in 
affluence, had met with reverses, approached the man 
with the words : ' I understand you have some expecta- 
tions, and I shall therefore be glad to advance you some 
money with which you can make some profitable trans- 
actions, and then you can pay me back when you have 
no longer need for the money.' The question of assisting 
the man having thus been opened in an inoffensive 
manner, he was only too glad of the proffered help, and 
was then told that there was no need to repay the money, 
as it was a gift. — Levit. Rabba 34. 



128 THE MIDRASH 

Rabbi Tanchuma, son of R. Cheya, laid it down as a 
maxim that it is man's duty, when he becomes aware of 
any one having come down in the Vv^orld, to consider the 
best means of helping him as quickly as possible. He 
himself would never purchase anything for his household 
without, at the same time, providing an equal quantity 
for the poor. — Levit. Rabba 34. 

When the poor stand at your door, remember that their 
Maker stands at their right hand (Ps. 109), and consider 
it a high privilege for you to help them. — Levit. Rabba 

34- 

It is man's duty to keep his body in a state of cleanli- 
ness, as well as to keep his soul in a state of purity. 
Hillel, when going to bathe, used to tell his pupils that 
he was going to do a godly deed. Once his pupils 
ventured to ask for an explanation. * Have you not 
observed,' said he to his disciples, ' how the caretakers in 
the theatres and other public places always wash the 
statues and keep them clean ? If then such care is 
bestowed on inanimate sculptures, the works of man, it 
must surely be a holy duty scrupulously to clean the 
handiwork and masterpiece of God. — Levit. Rabba 34. 



NUMBERS RABBA 

The works of the wicked are darkness (Isa. 29. 15), and 
their retribution is darkness (Ezkl. 31.) : like a pot of 
earthenware whose cover is of the same material. — 
Numb. Rabba i. 

The tribe of Levi took no part in the making of the 
golden calf, and moreover punished the offence of the 
others (Exod. 32.). They were therefore set apart for 
the service of God, and were not to be numbered in 
common with the rest of the people. — Numb. Rabba i. 

The tribe of Levi then was not to be numbered with 
the people. A great king had many legions, a census 
of which was necessary, but amongst them was 
one legion known as the king's body-guard. His 
mandate therefore was to separate his own body- 
guard from the ordinary legions and not to count them 
together, since these were exclusively for the service of 
the king. Thus the people were counted by themselves 
(Numb. 2. 33) and the Levites by themselves (Numb. 
3. 14). — Numb. Rabba i. 

If the Gentiles would only consider how beneficial the 
Temple of Jerusalem was to them they would have 
ornamented and guarded it. At the consecration of that 
Temple we find the following prayer offered by King 
Solomon : ' Moreover, a stranger that is not of thy 
people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy 
name's sake, when he shall come and pray towards 
this house, hear Thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and 
do according to all that the stranger calleth to Thee for, 

129 K 



130 THE MIDRASH 

that all the people of the earth may know thy name, and 
fear Thee, as do thy people Israel ' (i Kings 8. 41, 42). 

Mark then that to the Israelites' prayer there is a 
condition attached for the granting thereof. For the 
prayer of Solomon proceeds : ' Then hear Thou from 
heaven thy dwelling-place, and forgive, and render unto 
every one, according unto all his ways, whose heart Thou 
knowest ' (2 Chr. 6. 30). There is a condition or the 
fulfilment of the Israelites' prayer, but to the prayer of 
the stranger or non-Jew no condition is attached, and 
Solomon prays that the Lord may grant his prayer un- 
conditionally. — Numb. Rabba i. 

Potiphar, frequently observing Joseph moving his lips 
(in prayer), demanded one day an explanation of this (to 
him) strange conduct. When told by Joseph that he 
was praying to his God, he asked him to let him see that 
God. Joseph invited him outside, and told him to look 
up at the glaring sun, which, of course, Potiphar was 
unable to do. ' This,' said Joseph, ' is one of my God's 
messengers. How can you then hope to look at the great 
Master when you are unable to look at one of his ser- 
vants ?' — Numb. Rabba i. 

The world was like a wilderness before the Exodus 
and the giving of God's behests on Sinai. — Numb. 
Rabba 2. 

The Israelites were the first to introduce national flags. 
— Numb. Rabba 2. 

Since Israel was consecrated to the service of God and 
the Divine Glory was to dwell in the Mishkan which 
they erected, it was but proper that they should have 
also their banners. Each tribe had to have colours on 
its banner corresponding to the colours of the precious 
stones which were on Aaron's breastplate. 

The banner of Reuben was red, and in the centre 
painted mandrake. That of Simeon was green, and in 
its centre it had the picture of Shechem. That of Levi 
had a tricolour, one stripe of white, one of black, and one 



NUMBERS RABBA IJI 

of red, and in the centre it carried the picture of the Urim 
and Tumim. Judah's banner had the colour of the sky, 
and in the centre the picture of a Hon. 

Issachar's banner was blackish, and had in the centre 
the picture of the sun and the moon. Zebulun had a 
whitish banner which carried the picture of a ship in the 
centre. Dan's banner had the colour of sapphire, and an 
image of a serpent in its centre. Gad's was a mixture of 
black and white, and carried the picture of a camp. 
Naphtali's had the peculiar colour of a pale reddish wine, 
and the picture in its centre was that of a hind. Asher's 
banner bore tlie colour of a precious stone, the ornament 
of a woman, and the picture of an olive-tree in the centre. 
The colour of Joseph's banner was of a deep black, and 
had the following pictures : Egypt, then an ox repre- 
senting Ephraim, and a unicorn to represent Manassch. 
Benjamin's banner had some of the colours of each tribe, 
i.e. twelve different colours, and the picture of a wolf in 
the centre. — Numb. Rabba 2. 

Moses was much perplexed in trying to arrange the 
positions which the tribes should take up with their 
banners, as he was anxious to avoid jealousy amongst 
them. If, thought he, I tell Reuben, for instance, to take 
his position in the east, he might say the south would 
suit him better, and so on. But he was spared the 
ordeal, for the tribes had it clearly arranged at their 
father's deathbed how they should take up their respec- 
tive positions when they should go out to bury him. 

When Jacob was dying, says Rabbi Chuma, son 
of Chananiah, he assembled his sons (Gen. 49.) and 
charged them to live a godly life and to take upon 
themselves the kingdom of heaven. Having finished 
this charge, he made arrangements with them con- 
cerning his burial. He would not have any of 
their children (who had Canaanite mothers) nor any 
of the Egyptians concern themselves with his funeral, 
but the sons should prepare everything and follow 



132 THE MIDRASII 

him to his grave in manner following : Judah, Issachar, 
and Zebulun should take uj) their i)o.sition on the east, 
Reuben, Simeon and Gad on the south, Asher and 
Naphtali on the north. Joseph should not carry the 
corpse (therefore his sons were permitted to do so), for he 
was a king and they must pay him deference. Levi 
should not carry the coffin, for he was destined to carry 
the Ark of God and to be separated for holiness. ' And,' 
said Jacob, ' as I now arrange with you as to your respec- 
tive positions at my burial, so shall it be arranged 
when the Lord causes his Shechinah to dwell in the 
midst of you in your journey with your flags.' — Numb. 
Rabba 2. 

Regarding the four winds of heaven, from the east 
Cometh out light for the world, therefore Judah who 
represents sovereignty, Issachar the pattern of learning, 
and Zel)ulun who represents navigation and commerce, 
dwelt with their flags on the cast side, and were the 
leaders in the journey. The west sends forth snow, hail, 
heat and cold. From the south come beneficent dew 
and beneficent rains ; and from the north comes dark- 
ness. On the south therefore was Reuben, who repre- 
sents repentance, bringing forth God's mercy and com- 
passion : he was accompanied by Gad, the type of a 
troop which he shall overcome; and Simeon was in their 
centre, because Simeon requires strength and mercy to 
be his shelter, and that is obtained by repentance. They 
— those three mentioned — were second in the journey, 
showing that repentance is second to the Torah only. 
When those two })arties with their banners were arranged, 
the Levites came forth carrying the Mishkan. On the 
west thereof were i)laced Ephraim, Benjamin and Ma- 
nassch, being able to weather the snow and hail. Dan, 
the followers of Jeroboam, who darkened Israel with 
two golden calves which he erected, took his place on the 
north, and was joined by Asher who was to bear light 
to Dan's darkness, and by Naphtali who was blessed 



NUMBERS RABBA I33 

with plenty. These were the last in the journey with 
the banners. — Numb. Rabba 2. 

* Thus shall be thy seed ' (Gen. 15. 5) was the blessing 
of God unto Abraham. A traveller being a long time on 
his journey without finding any shelter, or any wholesome 
water, or a shady tree under which to take his rest, all at 
once beheld, at a short distance, a large tree. On near- 
ing it he found, to his delight, that not only had the 
tree extensive branches, affording him shade against 
the scorching sun, but the ground around it was very 
clean and fit for him to lie down to rest ; its fruit was 
sweet and exceedingly palatable, and near it there flowed 
a brook of j^ure wholesome water, of which he partook to 
his delight. Having appeased his hunger with the 
delicious fruit, quenched his thirst with the beautiful 
water, and rested his aching limbs, he now rose to pro- 
ceed on his journey. Gazing up at the noble tree, he 
exclaimed, ' What shall I bless thee with ? That thy 
branches shall be extensive ? Such is already the case. 
That thy fruit shall be good and the water round about 
thee sweet and pure ? That is already thy portion. I 
can only bless thee with this, that all the trees planted 
from thy seed may be as noble in every respect as thou 
art.' Thus God said to Abraham : * I cannot bless 
thee with faith, for that thou already hast, nor with 
peace, charity, or goodwill to man, for these virtues 
are already thine. ' Thus shall be thy seed ' is 
the only blessing I can bestow on thee.' — Numb. 
Rabba 2. 

Israel is compared to sand (Gen. 22.). Just as sand, if 
it gets into food, destroys the teeth, so if you touch Israel 
you will bring down calamity upon you (Jer. 2.). Just 
as sand going through fire becomes converted from a dull 
substance to a clear glass, so Israel going through the fire 
of persecution comes out brighter and clearer. More- 
over, other nations are comj^ared to lime (Isa.33. 12.) and 
Israel to sand. As one cannot build with lime unless it 



134 THE MIDRASH 

is mixed with sand, so the nations cannot exist or 
flourish without Israel in the midst of them. — Numb. 
Rabba 2. 

The IsraeUtes are compared to stars, to dust, and to 
sand. There was a man who was efficient in three 
different handicrafts, a goldsmith, a potter, and a glass- 
blower. Those who respected him alluded to him as the 
goldsmith ; those who were indifferent to him called 
him the glassblower ; and those who had contempt for 
him named him ' the potter.' Thus Moses who loved his 
flock calls them (Deut. i.) ' the stars of heaven ' ; Hosea, 
who was indifferent to them, speaks of them as ' the 
sand on the seashore ' ; and Balaam who was their enemy 
calls them ' the dust of Jacob.' — Numb. Rabba 2. 

The Israelites are declared to be holy unto the Lord 
(Jer. 2. 3). It is forbidden to touch holiness, therefore 
those who persecute them will not escape retribution. — 
Numb. Rabba 2. 

Nisson was the most suitable month, neither too hot 
nor too cold, nor a rainy month ; therefore it was selected 
for the Exodus.— Numb. Rabba 3, 

No one under thirty years of age was eligible for the 
office of priest. — Numb. Rabba 3. 

A child born after seven months of pregnancy can live, 
but not one of eight months. — Numb. Rabba 4. 

The Ark was the most precious of all that the Mishkan 
contained. — Numb. Rabba 4. 

People might have had some misconception as to the 
holiness of incense and the Ark, were they not specially 
mentioned as very holy. 

Though incense is connected with the death of Nadab 
and Abihu and with the perishing of Korah and his 
associates, one must not conclude that its power was only 
for punishment, for it is mentioned also as having 
stayed the plague (Numb. 17.). The holy Ark too was 
the means through which a host of Philistines and the 
men of Beth-Shemesh were killed ; but one must not 



NUMBERS RABBA 135 

forget the blessings which it also brought (2 Saml. 
6. II, 12). — Numb. Rabba4. 

Hungation (a heathen sage) called the attention of 
Rabbi Jochanan b. Zakkai to a discrepancy in the num- 
ber of the Levites (Numb. 3.). Moses declares them to 
be 22,000, but when you count their number separately 
you find as follows : 7,500, 8,600, and 6,200, making a 
total of 22,300. ' Hence,' he said, ' it is clear that your 
Moses was dishonest, or he was ignorant of elementary 
arithmetic. ' God said,' he proceeded, ' that the first- 
born who outnumber the Levites (and consequently can- 
not find Levites to redeem them) should redeem them- 
selves by giving each five shekels, and the whole amount 
received was to be given to Aaron and his sons. In 
reality there were more than sufficient Levites to redeem 
the whole of the firstborn, and there was no call for the 
latter to pay their shekels for redemption ; but Moses, 
if he was able to count correctly, purposely gives the 
number of Levites as less than they actually were, in 
order that the (presumed) deficiency should cause a cer- 
tain number of the firstborn to pay five shekels each, 
which were to find their way into the pockets of Moses* 
brother and nephews.' 

The reply of R. Jochanan was : ' Moses was neither 
dishonest nor ignorant of elementary arithmetic, but 
you, though you are able to read, are unable to think or 
to understand. When he counted the Levites simply to 
ascertain their number, there certainly were 22,300, but 
when he ascertained how many there were for the purpose 
of redeeming or replacing the firstborn, 300 out of that 
number of Levites had to be excluded, inasmuch as they 
were (in addition to being Levites) also firstborn and 
could not redeem themselves, and could not be counted, 
in that capacity, as Levites.' The answer satisfied Hun- 
gation. — Numb. Rabba 4. 

He that serves on God's altar must be free from 
haughtiness and false pride. Eleazar, the son of Aaron, 



136 THE MIDRASH 

styled ' the chief over the chief of the Levites ' (Numb. 
3. 32) did not disdain to carry a vessel with oil 
in his right hand, one with incense in his left, and the 
daily meat offerings hanging down from his girdle, and 
he would not allow any one else to carry them for him. — 
Numb. Rabba 4. 

The infliction of stripes, given in the Torah, was not a 
severe punishment, and was moreover given in many 
instances in lieu of capital punishment, which the delin- 
quent might have deserved besides. When the punish- 
ment had been inflicted, there was to be no further 
reproach attached to the punished individual, but he 
was to be received in the community as a brother (Deut. 
25). — Numb. Rabba 5. 

Pedigrees are reckoned after the father's, not after the 
mother's side. — Numb. Rabba 6. 

Unless one makes marked progress in his study and 
acquires very considerable knowledge within five years, 
he had better give up further attempts. — Numb. 
Rabba 6. 

The badger, the li^n/l, mentioned in Exod. 35. 23, 
was a unique creature with one horn in its forehead, and 
it was unknown whether it belonged to the clean animals 
or the beasts of the field until Moses used its skin for 
the Mishkan, when it was known to belong to the clean 
kind of animals. It ceased to exist after its use for the 
Mishkan. — Numb. Rabba 6. 

The word ]^M used for the priestly benediction has its 
origin in the word Dux, frequently found in the Mid- 
rash, meaning ' man of distinction ' ; and as this service 
was the function of the Priests — Duche — it took its 
name from the men performing it. — Numb. Rabba 7. 

David in saying (Ps. 33.) ' The eyes of the Lord are 
over those who fear Him, who hope for his lovingkind- 
ness,' alludes to the tribe of Levi, who had no share in the 
division of the seven nations and no earthly heritage, but 
are servants on the altar of God. — Numb. Rabba 5. 



NUMBERS RABBA 13? 

The malady of lejirosy was incurred by those who were 
guilty of either adultery, idolatry, murder, profaning 
God's name, profane language, haughtiness, robbery, 
lying, perjury, slander, or unduly intruding in another 
man's sphere. — Numb. Rabba 6. 

WTien the king dies, long live the king. When the wise 
man dies it is not always an easy matter to replace him. — 
Numb. Rabba 6. 

The nature of the work which the Israelites had to 
perform in Egypt maimed many of them, but when they 
stood at the foot of Sinai to receive the Decalogue all 
were cured ; there was not one of them cither blind, deaf, 
lame, or with any other defect. — Numb. Rabba 7. 

At the giving of the Ten Commandments the whole 
house of Israel, without distinction of tribes, were alike 
willing and ready to take upon themselves the burden of 
the Law. ' All the people together answered and said,' 
etc. (Exod. 19.) ; but the whole of Israel soon after 
became unfaithful, and the one tribe only, that of Levi, 
kept steadfast to God's behests and proved themselves 
worthy of his service. — Numb. Rabba 7. 

God bestowed three virtues on Israelites by which they 
may always be known. An Israelite is to be compas- 
sionate, merciful, and modest. — Numb. Rabba 8. 

' God loveth the righteous ' (Ps. 146.). This expression 
has special reference to those of the righteous who are 
not priests or Levites. Priests and Levites inherit their 
dignity, and are spoken of as ' a house,' e.g. ' the house of 
Aaron ' or ' the house of Levi,' but righteousness is not 
hereditary ; there is no ' house of righteousness ' ; it 
comes spontaneously to good and worthy men. — Numb. 
Rabba 8. 

'The Lord prescrveth the strangers.' The W")^, the 
proselytes who embrace Judaism, are kept steadfast in 
their faith by God Himself, and are in every respect 
like a Jew born. Love is granted to Israel (Obad.i.) : 
the same gift is bestowed on them (Deut. 10.). Songs 



138 THE MIDRASH 

are given to Israel (Isa. 61.), and also given to them 
(Isa. 56.). Preservation is promised to Israel (Ps. 121.), 
and preservation is promised to them. — Numb. Rabba 8. 

Sincere converts to Judaism, who seek shelter under 
the wings of the Shechinah, and worship only the one 
Holy God, and Jews of a blameless character, pay by 
their lives a tribute of honour to God. — Numb. Rabba 8. 

When the Gibeonites asked for Joshua's help (Josh. 
10) he was disinclined to inconvenience his own 
people to afford assistance to what he termed ' these 
strangers,' but he was reminded that he himself was the 
offspring of one who was an alien in Egypt, Joshua being 
a descendant of Joseph. — Numb. Rabba 8. 

An Arabian prince complained to Rabbi Akiba 
against his wife, who being an Arabian woman gave birth 
to a perfectly white child. The Rabbi, who was always 
anxious to establish good and friendly relations amongst 
men, especially amongst those who should live in peace 
and in harmony, knowing the beams on the ceiling in the 
Arabian's house to be dazzling white, mentioned Jacob's 
contrivance of obtaining speckled sheep, and pointed out 
that the phenomenon of his child might be due to the 
extreme whiteness of his ceiling at which the princess 
gazed. — Numb. Rabba 9. 

Of the many that go to sea most return, only a small 
percentage are lost. Also of those who plunge into the 
sea of matrimony most are happy, and only a small 
number are misalliances. — Numb. Rabba 9. 

Most of the many misdeeds which man is liable to 
commit he can to some extent redeem — such as 
theft, fraud, etc. ; but adultery never. The man who 
seduces another man's wife is beyond redemption. — 
Numb. Rabba 9. 

' Thy camp shall be holy ' (Deut. 23.). This is Moses' 
warning against adultery when going to war, as God 
would remove his presence from their midst if there were 
adulterers in their camp. — Numb. Rabba 9. 



NUMBERS RABBA I39 

However the Israelites in Egypt may, by reason of 
their slavery, have gone astray, they kej)t themselves 
pure from sexual vice. — Numb. Rabba 9. 

It is not judicious to lodge in the same house with any 
woman — even with wife, daughter, or sister — if the 
relationship is not known to the people of the place ; 
for the world is slanderously inclined. — Numb. Rabba 
10. 

He that sanctifies himself here will receive sanctifica- 
tion from on high. — Numb. Rabba 10. 

In man's intellect there seem to be four degrees, and 
thus we find him losing his wits by four several degrees 
when indulging in strong drink. When a man drinks 
one-fourth more than is good for him, he loses one-fourth 
of his intellect ; when he indulges in as much again, half 
of his faculties are for the time paralysed ; after the third 
cup over and above what is good for him, he begins to 
speak incoherently, indeed he knows not what he says ; 
and when he has indulged in the full four parts he is 
intellectually wrecked. — Numb. Rabba 10. 

Where wine goes in, intellect comes out, as well as 
.secrets. — Numb. Rabba 10. 

Israel will have her kingdom restored to her. — Numb. 
Rabba 10. 

See what an excess of wine did in the world. Noah 
came out of the ark with his three sons, his wife and 
their wives, who composed the human family of the 
world ; and a fourth of this he cursed in consequence of 
his indulgence. — Numb. Rabba 10. 

Intoxicants lead to fornication. — Numb. Rabba 10. 

Wine was giv^en to a criminal sentenced to death, 
before the execution, to mitigate his sorrow. — Numb. 
Rabba 10. 

' And I have separated you from other nations that 
you shall be mine ' (Levit. 20. 26). The Jew is indeed 
unique in many respects. In his ploughing, sowing, 
reaping, shearing and threshing, in his firstfruits and 



I.]0 THE MIDRASH 

liquids he has laws which teach him charity and unself- 
ishness. And in his very appearance, as to his hair, etc., 
and in his reckoning of time, in all this he is separated. — 
Numb, Rabba lo. 

There is a different proceeding in picking out the bad 
from the good or vice versa. If one wishes to separate 
the bad from the good, one usually does it in one attempt; 
whilst if the good are picked out from the bad one is, as a 
rule, not satisfied with one attempt, for one is eager to 
find more and more of the -good, and so reverts to 
seeking out more, in the hope of finding what is worth 
selecting. Thus the Holy One, blessed be He ! in select- 
ing Israel from the heathen, is continually looking for- 
ward for more of other nations to be brought under the 
wings of the Shechinah. — Numb. Rabba lo. 

Intemperance of the Ten Tribes was the cause of their 
captivity. — Numb. Rabba lo. 

When the prophets went forth on their mission the 
Holy Spirit rested upon them, and awed their audience, 
and inspired them with respect for the prophets. — Numb. 
Rabba lo. 

The laws concerning the Nazirite are placed near the 
priestly blessings because he who debars himself from 
partaking of strong drink may look forward for the bless- 
ings of grace and peace which the priests pronounce. — 
Numb. Rabba ii. 

It would seem strange that although God told Abraham, 
' In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed ' 
(Gen. 12. 8), yet we do not find Abraham blessing 
his own sons. But in his pure and simple faith Abraham 
left this to God himself, arguing that one son of his 
(Ishmael) might perhaps be unworthy of God's blessings. 
' I am but flesh and blood ' — or dust and ashes — as he 
was wont to say, * and cannot decide so weighty a 
matter ; when I am gone hence let the Lord do what 
seemeth good in his eyes.' And after the death of Abra- 
ham we find that the Lord blessed his son Isaac (Gen. 



NUMBERS RARBA I4I 

25. 11), and this blessing Isaac bestowed on Jacob, and 
the latter on his sons. — Numb. Rabba 11. 

It is the priest's function to bless the people in the 
name of the Lord, and the Lord blesses the priests. — 
Numb. Rabba 11. 

Consider the great value of peace. Peace was the 
reward Abraham received for his faith and righteousness 
(Gen. 15). It was all that Jacob prayed for (Gen. 28). 
The reward of Aaron was a covenant of peace (Mai. 2.) ; 
the same was the reward of Phineas (Numb. 25. 12). 
The Torah could receive no higher dignity than that all its 
paths are peace (Prov.3.). Jerusalem is comforted with 
peace (Isa. 32.). On the other hand, when Ammon and 
Moab incurred retribution they were to be deprived of 
peace (Deut. 23.). When Israel receives the priestly 
benediction, it is that of peace. — Numb. Rabba 11. 

In pronouncing the priestly benediction, the Cohanim 
are to place themselves before the Ark with the whole con- 
gregation fronting them. The blessing can have no effect 
on any one behind them. The Cohanim are to form 
their hands in the shape of a window. The first part of 
the benediction, ' The Lord bless and keep thee ' refers 
to childhood, which requires keeping (care). The second 
portion, * Give thee grace,' refers to manhood, to inter- 
course with the world, and the last part, ' Grant thee 
peace,' to declining years. — Numb. Rabba ii. 

The truth of the Torah is a weapon to its possessor. — 
Numb. Rabba 12. 

The ninety-first Psalm was composed by Moses. — 
Numb. Rabba 12. 

If any one tells you that there is no such thing as 
resurrection, refer him to what one of God's servants 
(Elijah) (lid (i Kings 17.). If one says God does not 
receive the penitent, show him the case of Manasseh 
(2 Chr. 33.). If a man asserts that one who is known as a 
barren woman will never bear children, remind him of 
Hannah (i Saml. 2.). If you are told God does not 



142 THE MIDRASH 

deliver from the waters, cite Moses (Exod. 2.) ; if that He 
does not save from fire or wild beasts, mention Daniel 
(Dan. 3. and 6.) ; if that He does not heal leprosy, remind 
him of Naaman. — Numb. Rabba 14. 

It is prohibited to add to the canon of the Bible, con- 
sisting of i^Znhil Dnti'J/ twenty-four books. — Numb. 
Rabba 14. 

There were many features in the life of Joseph remark- 
ably similar to those of his father. Jacob's mother was 
for a time barren ; so was Joseph's. Jacob's mother had 
two sons only ; so had Joseph's mother. Jacob's 
brother sought his life ; so did Joseph's brothers. Again, 
each went from Palestine to a foreign land, each had 
children born in a foreign country, the fathers-in-law of 
each were blessed for the sake of their sons-in-law ; both 
Jacob and Joseph went to Egypt ; each made his 
brothers swear to keep the promise made to him, each 
was embalmed, the bones of each were taken away from 
Egypt, etc. Hence the Scripture has it, ' These are the 
generations of Jacob,' and follows at once with Joseph 
instead of with Reuben, who was the eldest. — Numb. 
Rabba 14. 

' I have made thee a god to Pharaoh,' said the Lord to 
Moses : a god to Pharaoh, but not a god. — Numb. Rabba 
14. 

' No man shall see me and live,' said God (Exod. 33.). 
Not in this earthly life, but in the higher life. — Numb. 
Rabba 14. 

God, notwithstanding the various injunctions con- 
cerning light (Exod. 27., Levit. 24., and Numb. 15.), 
requires no light from man. There is no darkness with 
Him (Ps. 139. and Danl. 2.). — Numb. Rabba 15. 

Man's eyes have white and black in them ; but the 
power of sight, the lens supplying light, is the black. — 
Numb. Rabba 15. 

The respect and honour due to one's teacher, and 
indeed to learned men in general, includes the following : 



NUMBERS RABBA I43 

not to stand or sit in the place he has temporarily vacated, 
not to contradict anything he says, not to interrupt him 
whilst he speaks ; to put any question you may have to 
put to him with marked respect, and to reply to anything 
he asks of you without frivolity.— Numb. Rabba 15. 

Man's eyes and his heart prompt him to sin. — Numb. 
Rabba 17. 

Four sorts of men may be termed wicked men : one 
who threatens personal violence, one who borrows and 
refuses to pay, he who is abusive to another and has no 
remorse when his temper has cooled down, and he who 
causes strife and ill-feeling amongst his fellows. — Numb. 
Rabba 18. 

Aaron's staff (Numb. 17. 23) was the one Judah had 
(Gen. 38. 18), and this same staf^ was afterwards in 
possession of every king of Israel until the destruction of 
the Temple, when it was lost ; but it will be restored to 
the hands of King Messiah. — Numb. Rabba 18. 

When the Jews in the wilderness were bitten by the 
serpent, and they confessed their sin, they were at once 
forgiven. This illustrates the efficacy of repentance, and 
teaches us moreover the wholesome lesson not to 
tyrannize over one who has offended but expressed regret 
for it. — Numb. Rabba 19. 

So great was King Solomon's wisdom that by merely 
looking at any one he could tell whether that person 
had a fatal disease. When he once sent to the king of 
Egypt for skilful masons to build the Temple, Pharaoh 
selected a number of sick men and sent them to Solomon. 
When Solomon saw them he detected a fatal disease 
in every one of them. He supplied the men with 
shrouds and sent them back to Pharaoh with a letter 
stating that he concluded that there were no shrouds in 
Egypt for the men Pharaoh sent, so he had furnished 
them with the necessary apparel and sent them back. 
They died shortly after. — Numb. Rabba 19. 

If you have not acquired knowledge, what can you 



144 THE MIDRASH 

claim to be possessed of ? If you have knowledge, what 
do you lack ? — Numb. Rabba 19. 

He who refuses to accept an apology from one who 
has offended him is wicked. — Numb. Rabba 19. 

Let not the nations of the earth say that God has 
favoured Israel and neglected them, for whatever benefit 
He bestowed on Israel was given also to other nations. 
Solomon was a great king of Israel ; so was Nebuchad- 
nezzar a great king. David was wealthy ; so was Haman. 
Moses was very great, and so was Balaam. But let us 
see what use the men of Israel made of their gifts, and 
how those of the other nations abused their gifts. 

Solomon employed his wisdom to build that great 
Temple which was the admiration of mankind, to compose 
hymns of praise to God, to write books of moral lessons 
and instruction for the world ; Nebuchadnezzar used 
his gifts for debauchery, revelry, and oppression. David 
used his wealth to the glory of the Giver ; Haman offered 
his wealth to have a nation destroyed. Moses, the meek 
and the good, only lived for the good of others, and 
stood always in the breach between a sinning people and 
an offended God ; Balaam was in feverish haste and 
anxiety to curse a people without having received the 
slightest provocation. 

Further, all Hebrew prophets were concerned about 
the welfare of other nations as well as of Israel. Jeremiah 
bewailed the calamity of Moab (Jer. 48.) ; Ezekiel 
laments the sorrows of Tyrus (Ezkl. 27.) ; and Isaiah is full 
of grief for the reverses of other nations. God had 
granted his Holy Spirit to non-Israelites, but they were 
found wanting. — Numb. Rabba 20. 

The angel who stood in the way of Balaam with a 
sword in his hands could have effected his purpose with- 
out a drawn sword. Do we not find that the angel of the 
Lord slew in one night Sennacherib and his army without 
any weapon ? (Isa. 37.). But he showed Balaam howper- 
verse he was, in that he sought to reverse the order of 



NUMBERS RABBA I45 

things. Isaac's blessing to Jacob was that his power 
should be with his mouth (prayer), and to Esau he gave 
the power of the sword ; whereas now Balaam was going 
to assume the power of Jacob : so the angel showed him 
his legal and rightful weapon, the sword ; he showed 
him also the weapon by which he was to lose his life. — 
Numb. Rabba 20. 

In the matter of Zelophehad's daughters, there arises 
first the question why, out of all the difficult matters that 
Moses had to decide and adjust, this one should have so 
perplexed him that he submitted it to God. Again, as 
soon as he received the judgment which he was to ]:)ro- 
nounce, we find him praying for the appointment of his 
successor, whilst he was yet, so to say, in the midst of his 
work. The fact is that Zelophehad's daughters had, as 
was the custom, in the first instance put the matter of 
complaint before the princes of ten, then before those of 
fifty ; and when they hesitated to pronounce judgment it 
was referred to those of a hundred, who referred them to 
Moses. Moses, in his meekness, seeing that it had been 
before the several courts, none of which would give its 
decision, thought it would be arrogance on his part 
to consent tacitly to be a higher authority than the 
several princes wlio had had the matter before them, and 
so he submitted it to God. Seeing by the decision of the 
Most High that children, including daughters in the 
absence of sons, had to inherit their fathers' estates, and 
knowing that his sons were unqualified for his estate, viz. 
the leadership of the Israelites, he prayed now for a suc- 
cessor to himself, and the Lord told him that his mantle 
would fall on Joshua, his faithful disciple. — Numb. 
Rabba 21. 

He who causes his fellow-man to sin is worse than he 
who seeks a man's life. The Egyptians pursued the 
Israelites with the sword (Exod.15.), Edom threatened 
them with the sword (Numb. 20.) : yet the Israelites 
were told not to despise an Egyptian or an Edomite 

1 



146 THE MIDRASH 

(Deut. 23.). But Ammon and Moab, who prompted the 
IsraeHtes to sin, were excluded from coming into the fold 
of Israel, even unto the tenth generation (Deut. 26.). 
Further, the Israelites were told, when going out to war, 
to offer peace first when approaching a town ; but not so 
with the Midianites, whom they were commanded to 
attack and smite. — Numb. Rabba 21. 



DEUTERONOMY RABBA 

Moses declared (Exod. 4.) that he was not a man of 
words, but observe his eloquence in the book of Deutero- 
nomy ; an eloquence acquired since he gained possession 
of the Torah. — Deut. Rabba i. 

The rebukes which the Israelites received from Moses 
would seem to have been more appropriately given by 
Balaam, and Balaam's blessings would, it seems, have 
been more fittingly uttered by Moses. But the admonition, 
if it had come from Balaam, would have had no effect 
upon the Israelites, who would naturally have concluded 
that they were the result of his animosity. If, again, 
Moses had spoken those blessings and words of j-jraise, 
others would have belittled them as emanating from the 
warm friendshij) of the warm-hearted Moses. But 
Moses' rebukes could not have failed to be laid to heart 
by the Israelites, coming from such a tried friend; and 
Balaam's blessings could by no means be construed by 
others as arising from partiality to the chosen people. — 
Deut. Rabba i. 

The proper qualification of a ]n (judge) is the possession 
of the following virtues : he must be an able man, God- 
fearing, a man of truth, free from covetousness, a wise 
man, a man of understanding, and known amongst his 
people. If no such man can be found for the position, 
then one not the happy possessor of all the qualities 
enumerated may be chosen. — Deut. Rabba i. 

God has a seal, and his seal is truth. — Deut. Rabba i. 

A community rejecting the leadership of the great and 

147 



148 THE MIDRASH 

selecting as its leaders insignificant individuals can only 
be compared to the serpent which decided to creep along 
tail foremost, in consequence of which it was hurt by 
thorns, burnt by fire, and injured by water ; a community 
should not be led by one man only. Moses himself 
confessed his inability to lead single-handed. — Deut. 
Rabba i. 

In futurity the righteous will stand on a higher level 
than angels. — Deut. Rabba i. 

If sorrows overtake you, receive them with fortitude 
and resignation. — Deut. Rabba i. 

In reply to his disciples who asked how far hon- 
ouring of parents should go. Rabbi Eliezer the Great 
related to them that a man named Douma, whose 
mother's mind was demented so that she took a delight 
in grossly insulting him in public, had invariably only 
these words to answer her : ' Enough, mother.' This 
same man was the possessor of some valuable precious 
stones, some of which men from Ashkelon came to pur- 
chase of him, to replace some which had fallen out and 
been lost from the priest's breastplate. 

When he looked for the box containing the precious 
stones, he found that his father lying down in sleep had 
his feet on the little box. He declined to disturb his 
father's sleep, and would not bring out the jewels to show 
to the would-be purchasers. They, thinking that a big 
price would induce him to part with the stones, and 
knowing them to suit the purpose for which they wanted 
them, offered him a much larger price than was their 
value. Whilst they were arguing the father woke up ; 
and when the men wanted to pay the son the increased 
price spontaneously offered, he refused to accept more 
than the original price, on the ground that the increase 
of the money offered was due to their belief that he 
would not part with the jewels for the figure they first 
named, whereas in reality he would not show them the 
stones because by so doing he would have had to disturb 



DEUTERONOMY RABBA I49 

his father, and he wanted no payment for fihal duty. — 
Dent. Rabba i. 

Tlierc were several incidents which brought about the 
redemption from Egypt, (i) There was the IsracHtcs' 
distress (Exod. 2. 23). (2) They su}ii)hcated God, which 
means repentance on their part. (3) There was the 
covenant with their fathers, which God remembered. 
(4) There was God's compassion. (5) The end of their 
captivity had arrived. 

And the same will be the reasons of the last redemp- 
tion, (i) Because of the sorrow Israel will find himself 
in ; (2) because of repentance ; (3) God's mercy ; (4) 
He will remember the covenant of the Patriarchs ; etc., 
etc. — Deut. Rabba 2. 

The word ' prayer ' is a very wide term, and may mean 
prayer properly so called, or beseeching, crying, sighing, 
pleading, supplication, or petition. It can also be applied 
to adoration, praise and exaltation. It requires dis- 
crimination in its use. Thus we find that Job, the most 
righteous amongst non-Jewish prophets, had not em- 
ployed the best phrases in its exercise. The words he 
used are : ' I would order my cause before Him and fill 
my mouth with argument ' (Job 23. 4). 

Contrast this with the manner of prayer adopted by 
Moses and Isaiah. The former tells his people, ' I 
besought the Lord ' (Deut. 3. 23). Isaiah commenced 
his prayer with the words ' O Lord, be gracious unto us ; 
we have waited for Thee '(Isa. 33. 2). 

There is no time fixed when one can say he expects his 
])rayer to be answered ; we have indeed no claim on 
God's mercy, and must leave the answering of our 
l^rayers to God's own good time. Moses, for instance, 
was answered after praying for forty days (Deut. 9. 25). 
Daniel's prayer was heard after twenty days (Dan. 10. 3). 
Jonah was answered after the lapse of three days (Jon. 
2.), Elijah in one day (i Kings 18. 37). David, on 
occasions, received answers to his prayers as soon as he 



150 THE MIDRASH 

prayed (Ps. 69. 14); and there is an answering to prayer 
even before the petition is sent up heavenwards 
(Isa. 65. 24). — Deut. Rabba 2. 

Moses could not understand why his craving to enter 
the land of promise, to lay his bones there, should not be 
satisfied, since Joseph had his wish granted and had his 
bones taken up and buried in Palestine. He was sup- 
plied with a tangible reason. Joseph, he was told, in all 
his vicissitudes never denied his race or his country, but 
on the contrary seems to have felt a pride in calling him- 
self a Hebrew ; so that it was but fitting that he should 
have his sepulchre in the land of which he was so proud. 
With Moses it was different. He posed as an Egyptian — 
Jethro's daughters mentioned him as an ' Egyptian man,' 
and thereby he forfeited his right to have his resting- 
place in a country which he did not acknowledge. — 
Deut. Rabba 2. 

Consider the immeasurable distance from us of what 
we know as God's dwelling-place, the heavens ; yet how 
near He is to us when we call upon Him. — Deut. Rab- 
ba 2. 

' What is the meaning,' R. Samuel, son of Nachman, 
was asked, ' of David praying to God to hear him in an 
acceptable time ? ' ' The gates of prayer,' replied the 
Rabbi, ' may sometimes be closed, in contradistinction 
of the gates of repentance, which are 7iever closed.' — 
Deut. Rabba 2. 

' There seems to be more than one Creator,' said a 
sceptic to Rabbi Samuel. ' Is it not written " In the 
beginning Elohim (the plural) created heaven and 
earth " } Further, " Let us make man in our likeness." ' 
' Do you find it said,' returned the sage, ' they created, 
or are we told they saw or they said, or that man was 
formed in their image ? In each instance you find the 
singular, and the ' Elohim ' is applied to Him in whom is 
combined all power and all might.' — Deut. Rabba 2. 

People are prone to imitate their superiors and their 



DEUTERONOMY RABBA I5I 

teachers, hence the great and serious responsibihty of 
rehgious teachers as to their conduct. There can be no 
greater injury to rehgion than that its teachers should 
disregard its teachings. — Deut. Rabba 2. 

' I have created some things in pairs,' says God, ' such 
as lieaven and earth, the sun and the moon, Adam and 
Eve, male and female in all animals, this life and the 
future life ; but I am One.' He that proclaims the 
absolute unity of God proclaims the kingdom of heavea 
— Deut. Rabba 2. 

In vain have you acquired knowledge if you do not 
impart knowledge to others. — Deut. Rabba 2. 

God filleth the world, and the human soul filleth the 
human body. God supports the world, and the soul 
supports the body. God is unique in the world, the soul 
is unique in the body. God neither sleepeth nor slum- 
bereth ; the soul neither sleepeth nor slumbereth. 
God is pure, the soul is pure. God seeth and cannot 
be seen ; the soul seeth and cannot be seen. Let 
the soul, which so far possesses the attributes of the Lord, 
praise and worship the Lord. — Deut. Rabba 2. 

Let no man be deterred from repenting by knowing 
the great depth of his sin. Let him bear in mind that 
he does not come to a stranger but to his Heavenly 
Father. — Deut. Rabba 2. 

When the Rabbis Eliazar, Joshua, and Gamaliel lived 
in Rome, a mandate went forth that no Jew .should be 
suffered to live after the lapse of thirty days after the 
decree. Amongst the ministers of state was one de- 
votedly attached to the Jews and Judaism (in secret). 
He informed Rabbi Gamahel of the decision before 
it was made public, at the same time telling the 
Rabbi of his confidence that the great God of Israel 
would frustrate this evil decree. Returning home from 
his private interview with Rabbi Gamaliel, he informed 
his wife (who also was devoted to Jews and Judaism) of 
the decision arrived at concerning the destruction of the 



152 THE MIDRASH 

Jews, which was to be carried out in a few days. As 
there was no other way out of the difficulty she advised 
her husband to commit suicide by means of poison, 
which, at that time, it was the practice of the Romans to 
carry in the hollow of their signet rings for use in case of 
emergency. This advice was based on the fact 
that amongst the Romans, when the fixed time for 
the carrying out of a decree had elapsed, the decree 
was no longer in force ; and as it was also custom- 
ary to observe thirty days of mourning for the death 
of any statesman, during which time no steps could 
be taken for the carrying out of a newly enacted law, 
the law would through the death of the statesman and 
the subsequent mourning become, at all events for a 
time, inoperative if not entirely obsolete. This advice 
the statesman followed : he sucked out the poison con- 
cealed in the hollow of his ring, thirty days of mourning 
were proclaimed and observed, the decree lapsed and 
was not enacted. On further inquiry by the Rabbis 
it was found that the late statesman had secretly under- 
gone circumcision and had been (in secret) a devout con- 
vert to Judaism. — Deut, Rabba 2. 

The phrase which we have in our ritual, ' Blessed be 
his name, whose glorious kingdom is for ever and ever,' 
Moses brought down from heaven, where he heard these 
words from the angels when worshipping the Lord. We 
therefore utter this praise silently, being unworthy to 
use the praise which angels employ in their worship of 
God. On the Day of Atonement, however, when we shut 
the door to the outer world, when we strive after holi- 
ness, when indeed it is with us a day on which we are 
meant to be one with God, then we are like angels, and 
we are permitted to proclaim these words aloud. — Deut. 
Rabba 2. 

Marriage conventions and agreements are not to be 
arranged without the consent of both parties to the con- 
tract, and the man is to pay the costs. — Deut. Rabba 3. 



DEUTERONOMY RABBA I53 

Sabbath observance outweighs all other command- 
ments. — Deut. Rabba 3. 

As patterns of honesty we have Rabbi Pinchas b. Joeer 
and Rabbi Simeon b. Shotoch. With the former, when 
lie lived in a certain town in the north, two men deposited 
two bushels of barley and left the place. As they did 
not return for some time, and he feared that the barley 
would spoil, he used it for sowing, sold all the crops that 
grew from it, and put away the proceeds of the sale. 
When the men returned, after a considerable time, he 
handed them quite a little fortune, the proceeds of the 
grain they had left with him. R. Simeon b. Shotoch 
bought a camel of an Ishmaelite. It was the custom of 
the Ishmaelites to hang a strap studded with precious 
stones round the necks of their camels, and in this 
instance the Ishmaelite forgot to remove the strap before 
handing over the camel to the purchaser. 

When his pupils saw the trinkets on the camel's neck, 
they greatly rejoiced at their master's good fortune, of 
which he did not seem to be aware. They received a 
deserved rebuke from the good man, who said, ' I bought 
the camel and not the jewels ; they belong to the Ish- 
maelite, and to him they shall be restored.' — Deut. 
Rabba 3. 

The Torah and righteousness are held in the right hand 
of the Lord. ' From his right hand went a fiery law for 
them ' (Deut. 33. 2). ' Thy right hand is full of righteous- 
ness ' (Ps. 48. 11). — Deut. Rabba 5. 

Having clamoured for a king, the Jews learnt to their 
cost the great advantage of Theocracy. Saul caused 
many of them to fall by the sword of the Philistines 
(i Saml. 4.). Through David's act many of them 
j->erished by the plague (2 Saml. 24.). Ahab caused 
drought to visit them (i Kings 17). Zedekiah brought 
about the destruction of the Temple. When they saw 
tlie baneful effects of human administration, they sup- 
plicated for God's reign as before (Isa. 33.), and the Lord 



154 THE MIDRASH 

promised to be again their king (Zech. 14.). — Deut. 
Rabba 5. 

Justice is one of the supports of God's throne. — Deut. 
Rabba 5. 

When no justice is done here below, it will be executed 
from above. — Deut. Rabba 5. 

To do justice and righteousness is more acceptable 
to God than sacrifices (Pro v. 21. 3). Sacrifices were 
in vogue only whilst the Temple was in existence, 
but justice and righteousness must exist with and 
without the Temple. Sacrifices atoned only for sins 
committed in error, not for presumptuous sin : justice 
and righteousness atone for all sins. — Deut. Rabba 5. 

All men alike, both those who know the living God 
and those who know Him not, lose their Jives, one may 
say, when they sleep ; but God in his goodness restores 
their lives to all alike. — Deut. Rabba 5. 

When Nathan the prophet brought to David the mes- 
sage that he was not to build God's house, he prayed for 
his own speedy death, so that the building of God's house 
might be expedited, but God said that he should live out 
his allotted time (2 Saml. 7.), because righteousness and 
justice, which David practised, were more acceptable 
to God than the building of the Temple and the offering 
of sacrifices. — Deut. Rabba 5. 

The great Rabbi Meier, renowned for his learning and 
eloquence, was in the habit of holding discourses on 
Friday evenings previous to Divine service. These dis- 
courses commanded very large audiences, containing as 
they did a word in season for all classes of the com- 
munity. The rich were exhorted to charity and com- 
passion, the poor to hope and courage, employers to 
mildness and forbearance, and employees to fidelity and 
obedience. Parents carried away advice as to the train- 
ing of their children. Teachers were impressed with the 
necessity of patience and endurance ; and pupils were 
exhorted to obedience and diligence. Wives — for whose 



DEUTERONOMY RABBA 155 

benefit especially the discourses were held — were taught 
the duties which are essential to make husbands and 
homes happy. 

Amongst the women in the audience was one who had 
the misfortune to have a jealous husband. As soon as 
the sermon was over she hastened home, only to find the 
house in darkness and her husband ablaze with wrath, 
demanding to know where she had been. ' As you are 
aware, my dear husband,' the wife replied, ' I, like others, 
appreciate so much the sermons and advice of the good 
and wise Rabbi, that, when able to do so, I like to hear 
him, and always feel that I carry away some useful 
lesson.' This little speech only intensified the foolish 
man's anger. * You shall not step over the threshold of 
my house,' he cried, ' without going to your beloved 
Rabbi and passing your hand over his face, or performing 
some other foolish act.' The poor woman at first looked 
upon this ridiculous order as a foolish whim which would 
soon pass. Unfortunately the fool persisted in his folly, 
and the affair became known in the town, and could 
hardly have escaped the ears of Rabbi Meier himself. 
The neighbours prevailed upon the poor woman to comply 
with her husband's wish. When however she appeared 
with her neighbour before the Rabbi, her courage failed 
her, but the sage, pleading weak eyesight, a remedy for 
which it was alleged would be the passing of a handover 
the eyes, induced the woman to do this, and then told 
her to go home and tell her husband of her compliance 
with his wish. To his pupils, to whom the Rabbi's con- 
duct seemed strange, he explained that the good end of 
making peace between man and wife had justified this 
harmless subterfuge, since otherwise there would have 
been no peace for the poor woman. — Deut. Rabba 5. 

Be not spiteful or revengeful, and do not harbour any 
wrong which you may have suffered at any one's hands. 
In spite of all the wTongs and sorrows the Egyptians have 
inflicted on Israel, God does not allow us to abhor an 
Egyptian. — Deut. Rabba 5. 



156 THE MIDRASH 

Slander no one, whether brother or not your brother, 
a Jew or non-Jew. — Deut. Rabba 6. 

The greater your talent the greater your responsibility. 
—Deut. Rabba 7. 

' You are my sons,' says God, ' when you accept My 
behests.' — Deut. Rabba 7. 

Do not pray in the porch of the synagogue, but in the 
synagogue itself. The synagogue requires no r\W2- — 
Deut. Rabba 7. 

Although the study of the Torah is so earnestly 
demanded, yet it would seem preferable for one to remain 
in ignorance of it than to acquire knowledge thereof and 
set its teachings at naught. If a king had two gardeners, 
one an expert in his craft who raised beautiful trees only 
to hew them down, and the other less skilled but also 
less destructive, he would surely punish the former 
rather than the latter. — Deut. Rabba 7. 

God says to Israel, ' You are called my children, but 
you must take my law as your guide of life.' It is as 
though a prince should ask his father to make it known 
throughout his kingdom that he is the king's son. The 
father tells him : ' Clothe yourself in purple and put on 
your coronet ; then all will know that you are my son.' — 
Deut. Rabba 7. 

Joseph's bones, which were brought up from Egypt, 
were buried by the children of Israel in Shechem (Jos. 
24. 32) because they sold him in Shechem (Gen. 27.). 
When thieves have stolen a cask of wine, the owner might 
well say to them : You have stolen the wine, the least 
you can do is to take back the empty cask to the place 
whence you took it. — Deut. Rabba 8. 

The Torah is not in heaven, nor with those who occupy 
their time in studying the heavenly bodies. — Deut. 
Rabba 8. 

Rabbi Samuel was a great astronomer, but devoted 
only his spare moments to the study of astronomy. — 
Deut. Rabba 8. 



DEUTERONOMY RABRA T57 

By saying that the Torah is not in heaven, Moses 
meant to convey that there is no other Torah to come 
thence to supersede this Torah, and there is no other 
man to come and bring another Torah from heaven. — 
Deut. Rabba 8. 

If you are anxious not to forget the subject you study, 
then it is necessary to pass what you read through your 
hps, not merely to read the subject up. If you do not 
utter the words you read you will forget them. — Deut. 
Rabba 8. 

Remember that whatever evil it may be possible to 
avert or delay, there is no such possibility with death. 
Death is no respecter of persons, against it there is no 
appieal, and after it there is no remedy, nor can you sug- 
gest a substitute such as your slave, nor can you plead 
for delay, saying that you are not quite ready to meet it, 
nor can you create anything to protect you from it. — 
Deut. Rabba 9. 

One of the reasons why Moses called upon heaven and 
earth as witnesses (Deut. 33.) is that by them the Torah 
was given (Deut. 4.). — Deut. Rabba 10. 

Moses had more than one reason for addressing the 
heavens and the earth and calling them as witnesses. 
In the first place it should not be forgotten that Moses, 
whilst only a man, was a heavenly as well as an earthly 
man. He was no stranger to heaven, and if he had ad- 
dressed himself to the earth only he would have been like 
one who, being made governor of a dominion, should ad- 
dress one part of the country under his charge and ignore 
the other. But there is a weightier reason, inasmuch as the 
heavens and the earth will not be indifferent spectators 
at Israel's redemption, but will sing and shout and break 
forth in singing (Isa. 44. 33). Another important point : 
they were adjuncts at the giving of the Decalogue. More- 
over, Israel had l:)ecn compared to the stars of heaven 
and to the dust of the earth. — Deut. Rabba 10. 

Moses, probably on account of his anxiety lest after 



158 THE MIDRASH 

his death the Israehtes should go astray (Deut. 31. 29), 
prayed for everlasting life on earth. God said He could 
not gratify his wish, since in order to inherit the bliss of 
the future life he must give up earthly life. — Deut. 
Rabba 11. 

The name of the angel who exercises in heaven the 
function of the usher of the court is Achazriel ; the one 
who holds the position of secretary is Zagzuel, the chief 
of the Satanic ones is Smoel, and those fallen ones who 
became corrupted on seeing the beautiful daughters 
of man (Gen. 6. 2) are Uzoh and Azael. — Deut. Rabba 
II. 

Moses was greater than every one. Adam, the first 
man created in the image of God, one might be inclined 
to consider above Moses ; but one has to remember how 
he used his dignified position : one could almost apply 
to him the words of the Psalmist, ' Man that is in honour 
and understandeth not is like the beasts that perish ' 
(Ps. 49. 20). Then Noah might perhaps put in a claim, 
for he was saved by the Lord from the destructive flood. 
But remember that, though righteous enough to save 
himself, he could not save his generation of evil-doers ; 
whereas Moses was able by his prayer to save hundreds 
of thousands of workers of iniquity from destruction. 
They might be compared to the captains of two sinking 
ships, one of whom manages to save himself, while the 
ship and all on it go to the bottom of the sea ; whereas 
the other saves his ship and all on it. Abraham has, 
at first sight, a good claim to tower above Moses, at all 
events in regard to hospitable disposition; but such is 
not the case in reality : for what Abraham was able to 
obtain and bestow in a settled place Moses obtained 
and supplied to the great multitude in the wilderness. 
Isaac, on account of his submission to be sacrificed, 
might perhaps be thought greater than Moses, but not 
if we bear in mind how willingly Moses offered to be 
annihilated himself rather than the flock he loved. 



DEUTERONOMY RABBA I 59 

Even physically Moses was superior, for whilst Isaac 
became blind in his old age, of Moses, at one hundred and 
twenty years of age, we are told that his eye was not dim 
nor his natural forces abated. 

But then there is Jacob, who wrestled with an angel 
and prevailed over him ; surely he is greater than Moses. 
But do not overlook the fact that Jacob contended with 
the angel where he was a stranger and Jacob was at home, 
whereas Moses went into the very home of the angels. 
There was never a man who possessed, like Moses, at one 
and the same time, such great and good qualities. He 
was a wise legislator, a great statesman, a skilful leader, 
a devout patriot, a tender friend, a pious priest, a 
most brilliant, and at the same time a very meek, man. 

Whether we consider his great meekness, his wisdom, 
his prudence, his chivalry, his forgiving spirit, his un- 
selfishness, his freedom from envy, his gentleness of dis- 
position, or the sweetness of his nature, he was above 
every one, and the one man qualified to bless Israel. — 
Dcut. Rabba ii. 

Heaven and earth wept at the death of Moses. — Deut. 
Rabba ii. 



MIDRASH RUTH 

In no instance is it permitted to hear the evidence of 
a witness in the absence of the htigants. — Mid. Ruth i. 

' The words of God were scarce,' etc. (i SamLa.). That 
generation was known as a generation of hypocrites : 
they pretended to adhere to the rehgion of their fathers, 
but worshipped idols in secret, and the Holy Spirit did 
not rest upon them. — Ruth Rabba. 

Woe to the generation whose judges need judging. 
Learning can suffer no greater blow than when those who 
possess knowledge of the Torah and learning in general 
disregard the teaching which the Torah imparts. Take, 
for example, one who eloquently enlarges on the words, 
' Thou shalt not wrest judgment, thou shalt not respect 
persons nor accept a bribe' (Deut. i6.), or ' You shall not 
afflict a widow or a fatherless child' (Exod. 22.), and yet 
is known to disregard any or all of these grand teachings. 
Can one imagine a greater blow to the Torah ? To 
such men may well be applied the words of the prophet 
Hosea, ' Their mother hath become a harlot ' — the 
Torah, which is a mother to its possessors. — Mid. 
Ruth I. 

The following are the proper appellations for a cor- 
rupt judge : — Unrighteous, Perverter, Abomination, and 
Banned.— Mid. Ruth i. 

There were two obscure prophets whose prophecy was 
not made known, as only prophecy which was of any 
utility at the time or in the immediate future was pub- 
lished or recorded ; but the prophecy of the prophets 
mentioned will be made known at a future time. — 
Mid. Ruth 2. 

160 



MIDRASH RUTH T^i 

Moses, who always stood in the breach, has been 
compared to a shepherd who, when bringing home his 
flock for the night, finds the fence around their resting- 
place fallen in and has only time to put it up again on 
three sides, leaving on one side easy access to the wolf. 
This good shepherd placed himself on the open side, for 
the protection of his flock from the wolf and the lion. — 
Mid. Ruth 2. 

Death is every one's portion, but it is not given to 
every man to leave a good reputation behind him. No 
one feels the death of a man like his wife, or of a woman 
like her husband. — Mid. Ruth 2. 

A great and good man sheds lustre on the place in 
which he happens to live. — Mid. Ruth 2. 

A would-be convert to Judaism should not at once be 
admitted into the fold, but should be mildly dissuaded 
from the step he intends taking. If he persists, and is 
steadfast in his desire, he is to be admitted. — Mid. 
Ruth 2. 

What Boaz meant by telling Ruth ' Hearest thou 
not, my daughter ? Go not to glean in another field ' 
(Ruth 2. 8) was to caution her against tainting her 
religion with the beliefs of any other. Having now 
become a Jewess she was to bear in mind the command 
which the Israelites heard and promised to keep, ' Thou 
shalt have no other gods beside Me.' — Mid. Ruth 2. 

Ten priests and prophets descended from Rahab, upon 
whom rested the Holy Spirit, because she sent the spies 
away for three days, knowing that they would be safe 
after that. The following are the priests and prophets : 
Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Sariah, Machsia, Hanomel, Salom, 
Baruch, Neriah, Ezekiel and Booza. — Mid. Ruth 2. 

In this life it may be given to an obscure individual to 
become famous, or to a distinguished man to sink into 
obscurity ; but there are no such changes in the life to 
come ; as you enter it so you remain ; the great can- 
not become small, nor the small great. The grandson 

M 



l62 THE MIDRASH 

of Rabbi Joshua was once in a trance for tliree days. 
When he awoke his father asked him where he had been 
and what he had seen. He said he had been in a world 
of great confusion, where he saw a large number of men, 
some of whom he recognized as coming from this world. 
Here they had held most dignified and honoured posi- 
tions, but there he found them amongst the most 
despised and contemptible. When Rabbi Jochanan and 
Resh Lakish called to inquire how the sick lad was pro- 
gressing, the father related to them what his son said he 
had seen. Resh Lakish, noticing some incredulity on 
the part of the father, said, ' Surely we have Scripture 
warrant for the lad's vision : " Thus said the Lord 
God, remove the diadem and take off the crown, this 
shall not be the same ; exalt him that is low and abase 
him that is high " ' (Ezkl. 21. 26). Rabbi Jochanan fully 
endorsed the view of his friend, and was pleased with the 
Scripture quotation. — Mid. Ruth 3. 

In this life misdeeds may be redeemed, and a good life 
may at the eleventh hour be rendered worthless by 
backslidings in old age ; but in the world to come there 
is finality, there is no retracting and no improving. 
There are some who associate here with those who lead 
a life of vice, and when they all come before the tribunal 
of God, one is put amongst the righteous and another is 
given a place amongst the ungodly. On beholding this 
he is inclined to think there is partiality in God's judg- 
ment ; for did not his friend, who is now in the company 
of the good, follow together with him the narrow track, 
and did they not alike indulge their vicious inclinations ? 
Let such a man understand and know that his associate 
in vice and wickedness at last repented and made every 
effort to redeem his past. Then he will say, ' So will I 
do now to get myself out of this bad company.' Then let 
him also understand that the world which he has now 
entered is"! like the sea, and the one whence he came like 
the dry land. He who goes to sea must fit himself out 



MIDRASH RUTH 163 

for the voyage whilst on land ; for what he omits to 
take with him he will be unable to supply himself with 
at sea. — Mid. Ruth 3. 

Said Hadrian to one of the Rabbis, ' I am better than 
Moses, your teacher, because I am alive and he is dead ; 
and you are aware that your King Solomon said, A 
living dog is better than a dead lion.' ' Could you prohibit 
anything, say the kindling of light or fire for only three 
days ? ' asked the Rabbi. ' Certainly,' replied Hadrian. 
In the evening Hadrian and Rabbi Joshua went up to 
tlie top of the house to sit down in the cool of the night, 
when the latter, observing smoke coming out of one of 
the chimneys of a house, asked his friend how it was that 
his prohibition was disregarded. Hadrian replied that in 
the house whence the smoke came there lived a man of 
distinction, who being unwell probably found it desir- 
able to have a fire lit in his house. ' And yet,' retorted 
the Rabbi, ' You consider yourself superior to Moses, 
although whilst you are living your law — which would 
only entail inconvenience for a day or so — is at 
once set at nought ; whereas the law of Moses, who 
said we must not kindle a fire on the Sabbath day, — 
which means fifty-two days in each year — is strictly 
observed by rich and poor though he is dead.' — Mid. 
Ruth 3. 

' Lord, make me to know mine end,' prayed David 
(Ps. 39.), i.e. ' Tell me exactly when I shall die.' ' That,' 
said God, ' is a thing hidden from all men.' * Then may 
I know,' persisted David, ' the measure of my days what 
it is.' To which he received the answer : ' Threescore and 
ten years.' He was further told that he would die on a 
Sabbath day. David, who had an objection to being kept 
above ground longer than was absolutely necessary, 
asked again that he might die on a Friday, so that he 
could come to his resting-place on the day of his death, 
which would be impossible were he to die on the Sabbath 
day. This wish of his to die a day earlier was not 



164 THE MIDRASH 

granted; and the reason given was that, as he was the 
sweet singer of Israel, God would prefer the hymns and 
prayers offered by him to the thousand burnt offerings 
which his son and successor would offer. — Mid. Ruth 3. 

The earth has wings (Isa. 24.), the sun has wings 
(Mai. 3.), the cherubim have wings (i Kings 8.), and the 
seraphim have wings (Isa. 6.) ; but the righteous and those 
who are compassionate and merciful are sheltered under 
none of these wings, but under the wings of the Most High 
God.— Mid. Ruth 5. 

It is a great and good thing for a man to have the 
blessings of a good man. — Mid. Ruth 6. 

One of the characteristics of the righteous is that their 
aye is aye, and their nay is nay. — Mid. Ruth 7. 

Do not sit down in the presence of one who is greater 
than you unless he invites you to do so. — Mid. Ruth 7. 

Whilst expounding in the college of Tiberias on some 
texts of Holy Writ, Rabbi Meier was informed that his 
former great master, Elisha b. Abuya, was riding on 
horseback notwithstanding that it was the Sabbath day. 
Rabbi Meier went out to see his master, and was asked 
by the latter upon what text he was preaching. R. 
Meier told him, on the words ' The Lord blessed the latter 
end of Job more than his beginning ' (Job 42.). He was 
further questioned as to what interpretation he put 
on the text, and replied that the meaning was that Job 
was richer than he formerly was. Elisha criticised his 
pupil's version, and said it was not the one that Rabbi 
Akiba taught. He had maintained that Job's blessings 
consisted in his having repented of the reflections on 
God's judgment which he had expressed in former days. 
Having thus broken the ice. Rabbi Meier, after further 
discussions of other Scriptural texts, ventured to suggest 
to his great teacher the necessity of repentance, of imitat- 
ing Job, and bringing down upon himself the blessings 
of Job's latter days. ' For me,' observed Elisha, ' there 
is no hope ; I am beyond the possibility of receiving 



MIDRASH RUTH 165 

pardon for my misdeeds.' In further conversation he 
mentioned, amongst other things, the anomahcs he had 
observed in the course of his hfe, that those who hve 
in defiance of God's laws enjoy their hves and perfect 
immunity from punishment, whilst on the contrary 
those who scrupulously carry them out bring about their 
own destruction. ' Thus, for instance,' he continued, ' I 
have seen a man commit the double sin of climbing up a 
tree on the Sabbath day and robbing a nest of the dam 
and her young, and climbing down, without any mishap 
to himself ; whilst on another occasion I saw — not on a 
Sabbath day — a man who found a birds' nest, and scru- 
pulously observed the Scriptural injunction, and sent 
the dam away and took the young ones ; but no 
sooner had he climbed down than he was bitten 
by a snake, and thus perished in the very act for 
which God promised long life. I therefore denounced all 
belief in futurity or in reward and punishment. More- 
over,' he went on, ' one Sabbath day, when it was also 
the Day of Atonement, I rode on horseback past a syna- 
gogue, and I distinctly heard an echo exclaiming : " The 
words of the prophet Malachi, Return unto Me and 
I will return unto you" apply to every one except to 
Elisha ben Abuya, who rebelled against God, and not for 
lack of better knowledge.' 

Some time after this Rabbi Meier visited his old master, 
\s ho was lying on a bed of sickness. Said Elisha to his 
pupil, ' To what extent can a man indulge in sin and still 
hope to be received by God if he re])ents ? ' Rabbi Meier 
quoted the words of the Psalmist : ' Thou turnest man 
back to dust, and saycst. Return ye children of men ' ; 
when he ob.served his old master shed tears. When 
Elisha, not long after this, died, the good man rejoiced, 
saying that he had reason to hope that his old master 
repented before his death. In the course of instructing 
his pupils. R. Meier was asked by some of them, ' If you 
were to pray for one's salvation, for whom would you pray 



l66 THE MIDRASH 

first ? ' He answered, ' For my father, and then for my 
teacher.' When they expressed their surprise he ex- 
plained to them that in the event of danger to the Torah, 
i.e. of the scroll being burned, the scroll is to be rescued 
together with the ark in which it is encased. Thus he was 
sure that Elisha — in whom was the Torah — would be 
saved for the sake of the Torah that was within him. 
When after the death of Elisha his daughters required 
pecuniary assistance, they applied to Rabbi Judah 
Hanasi. His first impulse was to decline their request, 
thinking of the words of the Psalmist, ' Let there be none 
to extend mercy unto him, neither let there be any to 
favour his fatherless children ' (Ps. 109. ). The daughters, 
noticing R. Judah's hesitation to help them, anticipated 
him by saying, ' We cannot plead our father's piety, but 
only his great learning.' In the course of conversation 
the Rabbi detected great godliness in Elisha's daughters, 
and had provision made for them. He added, ' If this 
is the offspring of one who acquired the knowledge of the 
Torah without at the same time being blessed with the 
spirit of piety, how much better must it be in the case of 
one who makes the study of the Torah his life's aim for 
the sake of his Heavenly Father.' — Mid. Ruth 7 



MIDRASH SONG OF SONGS 

Elisha b. Abuya used to make it his duty to call at 
infant schools and endeavour by his idle talk to divert 
the children's attention from religious instruction and 
direct them to frivolous matters. — Mid. Song of Songs i. 

Scrupulousness causes cleanliness, which again leads to 
purity, and purity brings holiness, holiness meekness, 
and this prompts a fear of sin, a fear of sin begets saint- 
liness, and saintliness brings the Holy Spirit. — Mid. 
Songs I. 

Moses, Aaron and Miriam died by having their souls 
drawn out by God's kiss.^ — Mid. Songs i. 

The nations of the world are not justified in thinking 
that, because Israel is rebellious, God will change them 
for another nation. It is as though a black maid should 
expect her master to divorce his wife and marry her, 
because her mistress's hand had turned black. — Mid. 
Songs I. 

' I am black but comely ' (Songs i. 5). So says the 
house of Israel : I am, to my knowledge, black, yet my 
God considers me comely. I am truly black with my 
deeds, but I am comely if the acts of my Patriarchs are 
accounted to me. And in Egypt I was at times black 
and at times comely. The same may be said about me 
concerning my i)osition at the Red Sea ; there too I was 
l)oth black and comely. Black, as the Psalmist says : 
' Our fathers understood not thy wonders in Egypt, they 
remembered not the multitude of thy mercies, but pro- 
voked at the sea, even the Red Sea ' (Ps. 106.). But I was 

' Sec also March Nebuchim, vol. 3, cap. 51. 
167 



l68 THE MIDRASH 

comely at the Red Sea when I said, ' He is my God, and 
I will prepare Him an habitation ' (Exod. 15.). 

The same may be said regarding myself in Marah, when 
the people murmured against Moses saying, ' What shall 
we drink?' (Exod. 15.); but we were yet comely when 
Moses cried unto the Lord, who showed him a tree to 
sweeten the water for us. Or in Rephidim, when in 
consequence of our rebellion the place was named Massa 
and Meriba ; yet we may be called even there comely, 
when Moses built an altar and called it Adonoi Nissi. 
We were black in Horeb, where the golden calf was made, 
but are we not comely even there when we say, ' All that 
the Lord hath said we will do and be obedient ' ? (Exod. 
24.). We were black in the wilderness : ' How oft did they 
provoke in the wilderness ? ' (Ps. y8.), and yet I am not 
devoid of comeliness there, if we see that the cloud 
covered the Tabernacle on the day the Mishkan was reared 
up (Numb. 9.). Further, I am surely black in the history 
of the spies when they brought up an evil report 
(Numb. 13.), but there is my comeliness in Joshua and 
Caleb. I am verily black in Shittim (Numb. 25.), yet 
there is my comeliness in Phineas. If I am made black 
by Achan (Joshua 7.) I am made comely by Joshua. 
The kings of Israel rendered me black, but the kings of 
Judah rendered me comely. And though I am a mixture 
of blackness and comeliness through all these enumerated 
events and conditions of things, I am perfectly comely in 
my prophets. — Mid. Songs i. 

What wisdom considers to be her very crown, meekness 
looks upon as her mere sandal. — Mid. Songs i. 

Do not look upon a parable or simile lightly, for some 
difficult passages of Scripture may be explained through 
them ; just as one may find anything lost in a dark place 
by the aid of a candle. — Mid. Songs i. 

The consecratory Psalm (30.) was actually Solomon's 
composition, although it bears David's name. — Mid. 
Songs I. 



MIDRASH SONG OF SONGS 169 

The Torah has been compared to wine, water, oil, and 
honey and milk. Just as we find water all over the 
earth's surface, so do we find the Torah ; water will never 
cease from this globe, neither will God's laws cease. 
Water comes from the heavens, and the Torah came from 
heaven. There is a noise when water descends, and the 
Torah descended amidst thunders. Water quickens the 
thirsty soul ; so does the Torah quicken him who is thirsty 
for knowledge. Water cleanses impurities, and God's 
laws do the same. Water coming down by drops can 
form a river ; so if a man acquires Torah bit by bit he 
may eventually become a great scholar. Water, unless 
one is thirsty, cannot be drunk with any degree of 
pleasure ; in the same way, unless one has a craving for 
the Torah, its study, if enforced, will become a burden. 
Water runs from high places and seeks the lower portions 
of the earth ; so the Torah will not remain with the 
haughty man, but rather seeks out the lowly. Water is 
not kept in golden or silver vessels, but is best kept in 
earthenware ; so the Torah will not be retained except 
by him who is meek of spirit. A man of distinction will 
not think it beneath his dignity to ask for water from the 
meanest individual, neither is any one too great to despise 
instruction from the most insignificant person. One may 
drown in water if one cannot swim ; so, unless one pos- 
sesses a thorough knowledge of the Torah and all its 
meanings, one may be drowned in it. But it may be 
said that water gets stale if kept for a time in a vessel, 
and that the same should apply to the Torah. Remem- 
ber therefore that it is also likened to wine, which im- 
proves with age. Again, water leaves no trace on him 
who tastes it, and the same, it might be said, must be the 
case with the Torah. But here again we must remember 
the comjiarison of the Torah to wine. Just as wine has 
a visilile effect on one who drinks it, so the studious man 
is at once known wiien one looks at him. Water does 
not rejoice the heart, and it might be concluded that the 



170 THE MIDRASH 

same is true of the Torah ; hence it is likened to wine, 
since each rejoices the heart. Yet wine is sometimes 
injurious ; not so the Torah, which is compared with oil. 
As oil is capable of anointing any part of the human body, 
so is the Torah an anointment to its possessor. But oil 
again has a bitter taste before it is purified ; is this, then, 
equally true of the Torah ? No ; for the Torah is com- 
pared to milk and honey, each of which has an agreeable 
taste, while when blended they have healing properties 
as well as sweetness. — Mid. Songs i. 

Israel is compared to oil. As berries do not yield their 
oil except when they are crushed, so Israel will not show 
his greatness except under the stress of persecution. As 
oil will not mix with other liquids, so Israel will not 
assimilate with other nations. Oil does not effervesce ; 
so Israel is modest in speech. If a drop of water is put 
into a vessel full of oil, a drop of oil will fall out ; so if an 
atom of levity is put into the heart of a wise man, an atom 
of his knowledge will be lost. Oil brings light ; so Israel 
is the light of the world (Isa. 60.). Oil has no echo, neither 
has Israel in this world. — Mid. Songs i. 

Any one who brings another under the wings of the 
Shechinah may be said to have created him. So it was 
said concerning Abraham and Sarah, ' The souls they 
have made in Haran ' (Gen. 12.) because of the souls they 
had rescued from idolatry and brought to the knowledge 
of God. — Mid. Songs i. 

The Israelites were asked what security they could 
offer that the Torah about to be intrusted to them would 
be strictly observed by them. All proffered security, 
such as the Patriarchs, was rejected ; but when they 
mentioned their children as security these were accepted. 
Therefore the prophet is charged to tell them, ' Thou 
hast forgotten tlie Torah of thy God, so will I also forget 
thy children ' (Hosea 4.). — Mid. Songs i. 

From the point of view of religious observance one 
may say that poverty becomes the Jew ; in poverty 



MIDRASH SONG OF SONGS 17I 

he is an observant Jew. Rabbi Akiba used to say, 
Poverty becomes a Jew as a red bridle becomes a white 
horse. — Mid. Songs i. 

King Solomon's mind may well be compared to a 
hidden treasure, of the existence of which no one was 
aware until an expert pointed out the spot and its con- 
tents. His was a most brilliant mind, lying dormant till it 
was inspired from above, and then he became a veritable 
light to the Torah in his exposition, by prose, poetry, 
and simile, of many of its obscure passages. — Midrash 
Songs I. 

Israel is justified in pleading for God's special protec- 
tion, since concurrently with God's work on their behalf 
the light of the knowledge of God is brought about. 
The redemption from Egv'pt had the effect that such as 
Jethro, Rahab, and others were brought under the wings 
of the Shechinah. The miracles wrought on behalf of 
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah also caused a large 
number of proselytes to Judaism. — Mid. Songs i. 

Rabbi Simeon b. Jochuah made it a point to cement 
affection between man and wife. A man came to him 
once from Sidon and asked him to grant him a divorce 
from his wife, as his ten years of conjugal bliss had 
brought him no offspring. The wise Rabbi, who read 
impulsiveness in the man's character, told him to go 
home and make a sort of a feast in commemoration of 
the coming event. ' I see no reason,' he said, * why a 
divorce should not be celebrated in some way, similar to 
the tying of the marriage knot.' The man, in expecta- 
tion of his approaching freedom, was right glad of the 
opportunity of making merry, and gave a banquet ; 
and being in good spirits he said to his wife : ' See, I am 
prepared to give you the most valuable thing in my house 
to take with you if you offer no obstacle to our divorce, 
and will return to your father's house.' When, after the 
banquet, he fell into a deep slumber, she got her servants 
to carry him to her father's house, whither she went her- 



172 THE MIDRASH 

self. On awakening and finding himself in the house of 
the man with whom he was about to sever his relation- 
ship, he asked his wife who was by his side the meaning 
of all this. ' I have done nothing against your ex- 
pressed wish,' said his spouse : ' it was only last evening 
that you offered me the most precious thing in your 
house.' The man was very much touched by this mani- 
festation of true affection on the part of his wife, and 
when they appeared again before the Rabbi the following 
day, the sly sage could not conceal a smile as he asked 
the man what he could do for him. ' My wife and I 
have come to ask your prayers on our behalf, so that the 
Lord may grant us an heir or heirs.' The good man 
prayed to God to grant their desire, if in his wisdom it 
seemed good for them, and the couple did not remain 
childless for very many days. — Mid. Songs i. 

Ben Azai was in a deep study, and to those who passed 
him it seemed as if he was sitting in the midst of a flame. 
They told Rabbi Akiba of it, who went to him and asked 
him. whether he was studying any mystery. ' Not at 
all,' said Ben Azai. ' I was looking up the Pentateuch, 
the Prophets and the Hagiographa, and rejoiced over 
their contents as though I had been one of those who 
received the Torah at the foot of Sinai when God pro- 
claimed His word in the midst of fire.' — Mid. Songs i. 

On the day on which Solomon married Necha, 
Pharaoh's daughter, the foundation of Rome — Israel's 
persecutor and oppressor — was laid by the angel Michael. 
— Mid. Songs i. 

When Jeroboam erected the two golden calves, they 
tried likewise to erect two cottages in Rome, but they 
fell in as often as they were put up. There was near by 
an old man, named Abbe Kolon, who told the builders 
that unless water were brought from the river Euphrates 
to mix with the lime, no building would stand there, and 
he offered to fetch the water from the Euphrates. He 
took large casks, and posing as a wine merchant made his 



MIDRASH SONG OF SONGS I73 

way unopposed to the river Euphrates, where he filled 
his casks with water of that river and returned to Rome. 
The water being used for the mixing of the lime and sand, 
the houses were successfully erected.^ — Mid. Songs i. 

Jacob went to Beersheba for the purpose of hewing 
down the groves which Abraham had planted there. 
When on his deathbed Jacob was inspired by the Holy 
Spirit and told that the Shechinah would dwell 
amongst his descendants when they returned to their 
fatherland. The middle beam of the Mishkan had to 
reach from one end to the other, and measured thirty-two 
cubits (Exod. 26. 28), and was made of the timber which 
Jacob had hewn down in Beersheba. The Israelites had 
carried this timber with them to Egypt and preserved 
some during their captivity. Subsequently they took 
this timber with them at the Exodus. Thus we have it 
stated : ' and every man with whom was found shittim 
wood for the work of the service brought it.' — Mid. 
Songs I. 

Formerly learning was a thing sought after, but now 
we are become spiritually sick we grow dainty, and 
choose only light reading or what we consider comfort- 
ing and promising words. So a man when in robust 
health does not pick and choose his food, but when less 
robust he must have light morsels such as will tempt his 
appetite. — Mid. Songs 2. 

Israel at the Exodus may well be compared to a prince 
just recovered from illness. When his tutor suggests 
study, the king decides to allow his son some time after 
his convalescence to recover his strength before he begins 

' This narrative is seemingly uninteresting, but it seems to 
me to be given in connexion with what is said about the building 
of Rome owing to Solomon marrying Pharaoh's daughter. 
The Mitlrash proceeds to show how the building of Rome ex- 
tended as the Israelites sunk deeper in sin. Jeroboam having 
erected the idols caused a further development of Rome. The 
houses there only became firm when the water of Euphrates, 
near Jeroboani's wicked monuments, was mixed with the 
building materials. 



174 THE MIDRASH 

to read. Israel did not at once recover from the sufferings 
they had endured in Egypt, and their Heavenly Father 
decided to let them have a three months' rest, and feed 
them with manna and quails, before they approached 
their school, Sinai, to receive instruction. — Mid. Songs 2. 

Nebuchadnezzar was indeed the proverbial gale coming 
from the north, and sweeping everything before it in the 
south. — Mid. Songs 3. 

Sleep is most agreeable and beneficial in the earlier part 
of the night. — Mid. Songs 3. 

In the plague of hail which was sent on Egypt there 
were two opposite elements mingled together. There 
was hail, and fire mingled with the hail (Exod. 9.). It is 
like a king ruling over various nationalities which are 
enemies to one another, yet the legions the king sends 
against an enemy bury their opposition and unite to fight 
for the king's cause. — Mid. Songs 3. 

A preacher must be well conversant with the whole 
twenty-four books of the Bible. If he is deficient in the 
knowledge of one of these books it is as bad as if he had 
no acquaintance with any of them. He must be meek, 
and even humble ; every act of his life should testify to 
his worth, and withal if his hearers do not like his preach- 
ing he is to desist from it. — Mid. Songs 4. 

The Psalms were composed by ten individuals : Adam, 
Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Asaph, Heman, 
Jeduthun, Korah's three sons (taken as one of the com- 
posers), and Ezra. But although they were composed by 
ten different individuals, David's name alone is connected 
with them. It is like a company of musicians who 
appear before a king, and are told : ' Although you are, 
every one of you, efficient in your art, yet I wish the 
one with the sweetest voice to sing before me.' — Mid. 
Songs 4. 

The Sanhedrin were known by the designation, ' The 
eyes of the community.' — Mid. Songs 4. 

During the existence of the Temple there were plenty 



MIDRASII SONG OF SONGS I75 

of wicked men such as Ahaz and his followers, Manasseh 
and his associates, and Amon and his companions. On 
the contrary, when the Temple was destroyed, the people 
were conspicuous for the good men amongst them, like 
Daniel and his associates in righteousness, Mordecai and 
his followers, and Ezra and his people. — Mid. Songs 4. 

Do not, like a simpleton, be deterred from study by 
thinking ' How can I meet the formidable task of 
acquiring all that is to be known ? ' Rather argue like 
a wise man, ' Others have done it, so it can be done.' 
Try a little by day and a little by night, and in the course 
of time your task will be accomplished. — Mid. Songs 5. 

The Torah or knowledge increases, and the intellect 
becomes keener by proper study, and any difficult matter 
submitted to scholars will find solution ; as a structure 
will be satisfactorily erected by skilful workmen each 
contributing his skill. — Mid. Songs 5. 

The second Temple was deprived of the following five 
blessings which the first Temple had enjoyed : (i) The 
fire that came down from heaven for the altar, (2) The 
anointing oil. (3) The ark. (4) The Holy Spirit. 
(5) The Urim and Thummim. — Mid. Songs 8. 

With the death of the three last of the latter prophets, 
viz. Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, the Holy Spirit 
(prophecy) ceased, but use was made of the bp J12 
echo. Once at the assembly of the wise men in Jericho 
they heard the echo proclaim, ' There is one amongst you 
who is well worthy of the Holy Spirit, but alas the 
present generation is unworthy of it.' They thought of 
Hillel the elder. At his death they lamented him with 
the words, ' Oh that saintly man, that meek man, that 
pupil of Ezra.' — Mid. Song of Songs 8. 



MIDRASH ECCLESIASTES 

The prophet Amos stuttered. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

King Solomon was like the clever statesman adopted 
in the king's house, who when asked by his august master 
what token of his favour he wished, asked for the king's 
daughter, Solomon, when asked by the King of Kings 
for his wish, asked for wisdom. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

At the resurrection men will be revived and will have 
the same infirmities and defects that they may have 
had during their former life ; so that there may be no 
mistake as to whether those that are resuscitated are 
the same as those who were known to be dead. — Mid. 
Eccles. I. 

If those who are in authority at present should be 
inferior men to those who were in authority before them, 
one is not permitted to slight them on that account, but 
is bound to pay them the tribute of respect due to their 
position. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

There is no hard and fast rule as to any part with 
which books in Holy Writ should open. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

Man as a rule does not allude to his low estate, 
except when he comes out of it and gets into an improved 
position. — Mid. Eccles i. 

The Sanhedrin sat at a table in the form of a half moon, 
or horseshoe, so that they should be able to see each 
other. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

No man dies possessing half of what he wishes to 
possess. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

In one sense there is an advantage in failing memory ; 
if man's memory did not fail, there would be no study of 
the Torah. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

What Solomon meant to convey by the words, ' What 

176 



MIDRASH ECCLESIASTES 177 

profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh 
under the sun ? ' (Eccl. i. 2) is that whatever a man 
may possess on earth — under the sun — he must inevit- 
ably part with, but it is dirterent if he provides for 
himself above the sun, i.e. in heaven. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

One does not go to the trouble of examining a pig or 
camel to see whether it is fit to sacrifice on the altar, but 
one generally examines a clean animal to see whether it 
is free from those defects which disqualify it as a sacrifice 
on God's altar. So one does not criticise the actions or 
scrutinise the life of ' the man in the street,' but if one pos- 
sesses piety and learning and j:)oscs as a religious teacher 
he must expect to have his life and actions tested and 
examined, so that it may be known whether they are in 
harmony with his professions. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

If the wind had unbridled sway no human being could 
stand against it, but God limits its power so that it may 
not become injurious to mankind. The wind that 
destroyed Job's property and that which caused ship- 
wreck to Jonah were specially sent and confined to the 
j)laces where they had to do their work of destruction. — 
Mid. Eccles. i. 

All the waters run into the sea and the sea is not filled ; 
so a man may be possessed of much knowledge and 
learning and not be overcharged. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

Rabbi Janai and Rabbi Ishmael both agree that there is 
no such thing as Gehinom, but that the Lord will employ 
the sun to bestow punishment on the unrighteous and 
reward on the righteous. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

The sun rises and the sun goeth down. Ere Sarah 
died there arose the sun of Rebecca ; the sun of Athniel 
shone before that of Joshua set. So on the day when 
Rabbi Akiba died Rabbi Judah Hanasi was born, on 
the death of Rab Adda Rab Hamomonah saw the light ; 
at Hamomonah's death Rabbi Abbin came into the 
world ; and on the day of R. Abbin's death Abb6 
Hoshiah the man of Tar ia was born. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

N 



178 THE MIDRASH 

Rabbi Judah Hanasai made a feast in honour of his 
son, to which he invited all his fellow- Rabbis, but forgot 
Bar Kapara, who, in vindication of the slight, wrote on 
the door, ' After the feast, death.' Rabbi Judah then 
made a special feast to which he now invited his acci- 
dentally omitted friend, who however tasted nought of 
the viands brought on the table ; but, as each dish 
made its appearance, opened a dissertation, taking for 
his theme the contents of the dish, and so the other guests, 
their attention being directed to the ready wit and 
wisdom of Bar Kapara, eat nothing, and every dish was 
removed untouched. To Rabbi Judah's remonstrance 
his friend replied that his anger, for not being invited 
to the former banquet, was not because he was deprived 
of the food and drink at that feast, but because he could 
not hold forth on God's goodness in providing good 
things for man. — Mid. Eccles. i. 

Solomon used the word * vanity ' seven times, to cor- 
respond with the seven stages which man goes through. 
In his infancy he is like a king, fondled, kissed, and made 
much of. At the age of two or three years he is more 
like a pig rolling in the mud, etc. When about ten 
years of age he is somewhat like a little kid, jumping about 
and skipping. About the age of twenty he resembles 
the wild horse in his lusts and desires. When married 
he is not unlike the ass in his dulness and cheerless- 
ness and sleepiness. Becoming a parent, he becomes 
bold like the dog in his anxiety to obtain sustenance 
for his family. And in his old age, with his fur- 
rows and wrinkles, he is not unlike an ape. — Mid. 
Eccles. I. 

When Solomon says ' the wise man's eyes are in his 
head,' he does not imply that the fool's eyes are in his 
feet, but that the wise man can, at the start, foresee the 
consequence of every one of his actions. Rabbi Meier 
was in the habit of calling the finishing of a thing its 
beginning. — Mid. Eccles. i. 



MIDRASH ECCLESIASTES I79 

Rabbi Meier, who was an excellent penman, earned 
three ' seloim ' a week by writing, a third of which he 
gave away in support of learned men who were poor. — 
Mid. Eccles. i. 

How wonderful is the human heart ! It speaks and 
sees (Eccles. i.), it hears (i Kings 3.), it walks (2 Kings 5.), 
it falls (i Saml. 17.), it stands (Ezekl. 22.), and it rejoices 
(Ps. 16.), it cries (Lament. 2.), it is comforted (Isa. 40.), 
and it grieves (Deut. 15.), it hardens (Exod. 19.), and it 
softens (Deut. 20.), it saddens (Gen. 6.), it is terrified 
(Deut. 28.), it breaks (Ps. 51.), it is haughty (Deut. 8.), 
it rebels (Jer. 8.), it devises (i Kings 12.), and it has 
imaginations (Deut. 29.), it indites (Ps. 45.), it thinks 
(Prov. 19.), it desires (Ps. 21.), and it declines (Prov. 7.), 
it goes astray (Numb. 15.), it supports (Gen. 18.), it is 
stolen (Gen. 31)., it becomes humiliated (Levit. 26.), it is 
persuaded (Gen. 24.), it errs (Isa. 21.), it trembles (i Saml. 
4.), it is awake (Songs 5.), it loves (Deut. 6.), and it hates 
(Levit. 19.), it is envious (Prov. 23.), and it is searched 
(Jer. 17.), it is rent (Joel 2.), it meditates (Ps. 49.), it is 
like fire (Jer. 20.), and it is stony (Ezkl. 36.), it repents 
(2 Kings 23.), it is hot (Deut. 19.), it dies (i Saml. 25.), 
it melts (Joshua 7.), it receives fear (Jer. 23.), it gives 
thanks (Ps. iii.), it covets (Prov. 6.), it hardens (Prov. 
28.), and it is pleased (Judges 16.), it deceives (Prov. 12.), 
it speaks inwardly (i Saml. i.), it loves bribery 
(Jer. 22.), it is written upon (Prov. 33.), it is mischievous 
(Prov. 6.), it receives injunctions (Prov. 10.), it is pre- 
sumptuous (Obad. I.), and it arranges (Prov. 16.). — 
Mid. Eccles. i. 

Wherever ' eating and drinking ' is mentioned in 
Ecclesiastes it means righteousness and good work, and 
not material food. — Mid. Eccles. 2. 

All the j)eace and happiness here are mere vanity as 
compared with the abiding peace in the world to come. — 
Mid. Eccles. 2. 

Hadrian said to Rabbi Joshua b. Hananiah, ' I call 



l80 THE MIDRASH 

on you to verify the words of your Torah regarding 
Palestine being a land that lacks nothing (Deut. 8.), by 
supplying me with pepper, quails, and silk.' Rabbi 
Joshua complied and brought him the articles de- 
manded from three different towns in Palestine. — Mid. 
Eccles. 2. 

Solomon's saying that there was a ' time to cast away ' 
was illustrated in the case of a merchant and his son 
who, travelling over the sea, and having a large sum of 
money with them, overheard some of the sailors plan to 
kill both of them and share the spoil. The father and the 
son decided to pretend to quarrel on deck, and in the rage 
of the quarrel the older man took the money and threw 
it overboard and so escaped death. On arriving at their 
destination the would-be assassins were put in prison, 
and the merchant brought an action against the owners 
of the vessel for the recovery of the money. The plea of 
the defendants that the money was thrown into the sea 
by its owner himself was of no avail ; the judge holding 
that it was the ' time for casting away,' the merchant 
being justified in throwing the money into the sea to 
save the lives of himself and his son, which were 
threatened by the servants of the shipowner. — Mid. 
Eccles. 3. 

If a man does good acts at the close of his life, it shows 
he is anxious to add these to the many he has done in the 
course of his life ; and vice versa, if at the end of his 
career a man does a reprehensible act, it tends to show 
that he is full of such misdeeds, and only required this 
additional one to complete the sinister list. — Mid. 
Eccles. 3. 

Adam was destined to be the father of the twelve 
tribes of Israel ; but, seeing that of the two sons he had 
one killed the other, the privilege was withdrawn. The 
Torah also would have been given through Adam, had 
he not proved himself unable to observe even one of 
God's behests. — Mid. Eccles. 3. 



MIDRASH ECCLESIASTES lOI 

That there is a time to be born and a time to die we 
can have verified in Ezkl. i6. 4 and Num. 14. 36. 
Equally is there a time to j)lant (Amos 9. 15) and to root 
out plants (Deut. 29. 27). There is a time to weep 
(Lament, i. 2), and one to laugh (Ps. i2(). 2) ; a time to 
lament (Isa. 22. 12), and a lime to dance (Zech. 8.5); a time 
to cast stones (Lament. 4. i), and a time to gather stones 
(isa. 28. lO) ; a time for embracing (Song of Songs 2. 6), 
and a time to keep away from embracing (Isa. 6. 12) ; a 
time to seek (Deut. 4. 29), and a time to lose (Deut. 11. 
17) ; a time to rend (i Saml. 15. 28), and a time to join 
together (Ezek. 37. i) ; a time to be silent (Isa. 42. 14), 
and a time to speak (Isa. 40. 2) ; a time to love (Mai. i. 2), 
and a time to hate (Jer. 12. 8) ; a time for war (Isa. 63. 
10), and a time for peace (Isa. 66.12); a time to slay 
(Lament. 2. 4). and a time to heal (Jer. 3^. 6). All these 
refer to Israel's history ; there were proper times for 
the respective events, enumerated above, to overtake 
them. — Mid. Eccles. 3. 

That King Solomon held the fear of God in high esti- 
mation we glean from the fact that his two great books, 
those of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, conclude by saying 
that the fear of God is above everything. — Mid. 
Eccles. 3. 

All souls go uj)wards ; but for those of the righteous 
there is a resting-place, whilst those of the wicked are 
fugitive. — Mid. Eccles. 3. 

The recital of the yr^V is better than a thousand burnt 
offerings. — Mid. Eccles. 4. 

An ignorant man who puts forth pretentions to know- 
ledge is best styled a flatterer of the Torah.— Mid. 
Eccles. 5. 

There is stir and noise when man is born, and the same 
when he dies ; he comes to this world weeping, and there 
is weeping for him when he goes hence. He arrives 
without knowledge, and departs without knowledge. 
When born his fists are closed, as if to say, ' I have 



I 82 THE MIDRASH 

everything,' and when he dies his hands are open, show- 
ing that he has nothing. — Mid. Eccles. 5. 

There is no death brought about without sin, and no 
pain without iniquity. — Mid. Eccles. 5. 

Are you troubled by evil forebodings, visions, or 
dreams ? Have recourse to prayer, repentance, and 
charity ; for if there is in reality any evil decree against 
you, the exercise of these great virtues will avert it. — 
Mid. Eccles. 5. 

God says to the prophets, ' Think not that if you 
do not carry my messages, my will cannot be made 
known in the world. I have many messengers — even 
such as a scorpion, a snake, a frog, or an insect.' — 
Mid. Eccles. 5. 

The Israelites were bent on sacrificing, they sacri- 
ficed on the high places in the wilderness ; hence the 
Mishkan was erected as soon as was practicable, so that 
they should bring their sacrifices in that sanctuary. — 
Mid. Eccles. 5. 

If you see cruelty and injustice perpetrated by 
Romulus in Rome, be not dismayed ; remember there is 
One above the dukes and princes of Rome who executes 
judgement even by the mere word ' Behold.' — Mid. 
Eccles. 5. 

The well of Miriam can be seen from the top of the 
mountain Jeshimon (Numb. 21. 20), and its waters have 
healing properties. — Mid. Eccles. 5. 

The soul is not attracted by any earthly goods that 
may be offered to her. She is like a king's daughter, who 
finds no value in things which to others may seem pre- 
cious. — Mid. Eccles. 6. 

There are additional reasons, besides the one Solomon 
gives, why it is better to go to the house of mourning than 
to the house of feasting. In the former case you show 
respect to the living as well as to the memory of the dead ; 
you can offer consolation and soften the sharp edge of 
sorrow ; you can do all this to the rich as well as to the 



MIDRASH ECCLESIASTES 183 

poor ; and you can rely on it that the Lord does not 
leave acts of charity and kindliness unrewarded. Moses, 
who took such great care to bury Joseph's remains where 
the latter expressed his desire they should be re-interred, 
was buried by God Himself. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

' A good name is better than good oil.' Two men 
(Nadab and Abihu) were anointed with good oil ; they 
went into the place of life (the Tabernacle), but were 
burnt and did not come out ahve. There were three 
men with good names, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 
who were put into a place of death (the fiery fur- 
nace) and came out alive. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

Heart sickness is bad, that of the intestines is worse, 
but that of the pocket is worse still. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

There are certain things which seek ascendancy 
over one another. Thus the mighty deep is over- 
shadowed by the high ground, and the mountains are 
still higher, but they can be levelled by iron. And 
the iron itself must give way to fire, which can 
melt it. Fire is extinguished by water, and water is 
absorbed by the clouds. The wind disperses the clouds, 
and yet a strong wall defies the wind. Man can pull the 
wall down, but sorrow pulls man down. Strong drink 
drowns sorrow, and strong drink is robbed of its effect by 
sleep. Sleep itself is frustrated by sickness, and sickness 
is ended by death. A bad woman, however, is worst of 
all ; she is bitterer than death. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

The admonition of a good and sincere preacher is 
preferable to the expounding of Holy Writ by a quack ; 
however great his enthusiasm, he can only be called 
a firebrand. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

There are three crowns : that of the priesthood, which 
fell to Aaron's lot ; that of kingdom, which is the jiortion 
ot the house of David ; and the crown of the Torah, which 
anybody can own ; and yet he who acquires it not has 
acquired nothing. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

Patience is an ornament to a religious teacher, and has 



184 THE MIDRASH 

mostly a good effect. A Persian called on Rabbi Judah 
Hanasi to instruct him in the Jewish faith. At the very 
outset he was shown the first letter of the Hebrew alpha- 
bet ; the Persian went into debate and asked how we 
know that the letter is called Aleph, etc. The Rabbi sent 
him away in disgust. Then he went to Rabbi Samuel 
and tried the same tiresome trick. When the sage 
pinched his ear, he cried, ' O my ear.' ' How do you 
know ? ' asked the Rabbi, ' that this is an ear ? ' With 
this witty act the Persian was pleased ; he acquired know- 
ledge, and was turned away from heathenism. — Mid. 
Eccles. 7. 

A man had the misfortune to have a bad neighbour 
and a bad wife. His neighbour went out at night 
to rob, and spent the proceeds in providing a good 
table for himself and family. Said his wife to him, 
' See how our neighbours live, and contrast it with 
our humble state.' ' Shall I then go out at night 
to rob people ? ' replied her husband. ' And what then 
if you did ? ' retorted the woman ; ' it would cer- 
tainly put us beyond the necessity of pinching, as 
we have to do.' She persisted, and kept on nagging 
at the man so long that at last he resolved to embark one 
evening on his neighbour's avocation. It so happened 
that a band of robbers, in whose sphere of operations the 
man's neighbour carried on his depredations, resolved to 
put their competitor out of the way, but the man got wind 
of this and determined to stay at home. The poor man 
who, at the instigation of his wife, went out to try his 
neighbour's profession, fell a victim to the plot arranged 
against his neighbour. Here we have one example of 
the bitterness of a bad wife. — Mid. Eccles. 7. 

Rabbi Judah b. Eleah, having a robust appearance, 
was told that a certain non- Jew of his acquaintance had 
expressed the opinion that it was due to good living 
or to being a usurer. The sage explained to him 
that his was a very frugal mode of living ; as to 



MIDRASH ECCLESIASTES 185 

drink, he had the headache from the Passover night 
— when he tasted of the four cups of wine — till the Taber- 
nacles ; and with usury he would not stain his life. He 
ascribed his robust health to the study of the Torah. — 
Mid. Eccles. 8. 

He who rebels against the king has it in him to rebel 
against God. — Mid. Eccles. 9. 

Some of the Rabbis, whilst very assiduous in study and 
prayer, would not neglect their daily avocations, but had 
set apart a third of the day for the pursuit of labour, and 
they were, on that account, known as ' the holy body.' — 
Mid. Eccles. 9. 

Abbe, called ' the Saintly,' returning home with his 
bundle of goods from his hawking expedition, one Friday 
afternoon, saw on the road a sick man unable to walk, 
who beseeched him to carry him to the town. The poor 
saintly Abbe was at first perplexed how to act. ' If I 
leave my bundle with my all in all here, I am undone,' he 
said to himself, ' as far as a living is concerned ; if, on 
the other hand, I do not carry this poor helpless man into 
town, he may perish in the open field.' Humanity, how- 
ever, was the victor, and the good man, casting his bur- 
den on God, took the burden of the invalid on his 
shoulders, walked with him to town, and housed him 
where he would be taken care of. As there was yet a 
little sun in the sky, he ventured out again on the high 
road in the hope of finding the bundle of wares he had 
left behind, in which hope he was not disappointed, as he 
found his scanty stock where he had left it. He now set 
out in great haste on his return journey, being most 
anxious to arrive home before sundown and before the 
Sabbath set in. To his great dismay the shadows of 
the evening were rapidly setting : when he entered the 
town and his neighbours saw him coming in with his pack 
on his back together with the Sabbath, they exclaimed, 
There comes Abbe, ' the saintly,' who will now be known 
as Abb6 the Sabbath breaker. When, lo and behold, the 



l86 THE MIDRASH 

sun came out in all his brightness so that to this good man 
could truly be applied the words of the Prophet Malachi 
(3. 20), ' Unto you that fear my name shall the sun of 
righteousness arise.' — Mid. Eccles. 9. 

Fools, as a rule, look upon all mankind as fools. — 
Mid. Eccles. 10. 



MIDRASH LAMENTATIONS 

Rabbi Joshua, as was his wont, was on a mission of 
charity on a hot summer's day, in a glowing sun, with- 
out finding a drop of water to quench his thirst. To- 
wards evening he reached a small village, where he espied 
a girl filling her pitcher at the village well. ' grant 
me a draught of your refreshing water,' he said to the 
damsel, ' for I am well-nigh perishing of thirst.' Like 
the graceful Rebecca of Holy Writ, the maid handed her 
pitcher full to the thirsty sage, with the remark, ' Drink, 
worthy man, to thy full, and I wiU. then also give water 
to the beast upon which thou camest hither.' Touched 
by the kindly act, the Rabbi said to the maiden, ' I see 
you understand well how to imitate our pious mother 
Rebecca.' ' And you, I hope,' came the quick answer, 
' will equally understand how to imitate the faithful 
Eliezer.' ' Quite right, my daughter,' replied Rabbi 
Joshua, struck by the quick- wittedness of the maiden, 
' You well deserve golden trinkets for your kindness ; 
but you deserve them, you do not need them, for you 
possess a jewel in your kindly soul that is the brightest 
ornament one can possess. The only addition I can 
give you to it is my prayer that the Lord may aid you to 
retain your kindly nature through life.' With this 
Rabbi Joshua took his departure. — Mid. Lament, i. 

At Sinai the Israelites carried a glorious weapon with 
the name of God inscribed on it. They were deprived 
of it after making the golden calf. — Pesichta of Mid. 
Lament. 

Rav Asse and Rabbi Amme went to inspect a town, 
to see what improvements were required therein. When 

187 



l88 THE MIDRASH 

they came to the place they asked for the protectors of 
it. The watchmen of the town were presented to them, 
as being what they asked for. ' These,' the Rabbis said, 
' are not the protectors of your place. What we want to 
see is your real protectors : your schools, your teachers 
and their pupils.' — Mid. Lament, i. 

Balaam the son of Beor and Abinimos the Gardite, 
who were considered the wisest men amongst their 
people at the time, were consulted how to act in order 
to effect a serious injury to the Israelites. The advice 
of these two wise men was, to find out whether there 
were any elementary schools for the instruction of the 
rising generation amongst the Jews. ' If you hear,' 
said they, ' children's voices studying their Torah, all 
your efforts to hurt that people will be in vain ; if not, 
you will succeed. For you should remember the words 
in connexion with the blessings they have received : 
" the voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the 
hands of Esau." As long as the voice of Jacob is used 
in prayer and in study of the Torah, he will defy the 
hands of Esau.' — Mid. Lament, i. 

He who trains a bad pupil must expect discredit. — 
Mid. Lament. (Pesichta). 

There was harmony between God and his people 
when He redeemed them from Egypt. They have sinned 
and broken that harmony, and become separated from 
their God. — Mid. Lament. (Pesichta). 

At the destruction of the Temple, whilst some of the 
enemy were busy with the plunder of gold and silver, 
the men of Ammon and Moab sought to lay hands on the 
scrolls of the Pentateuch, as it is there written (Deut. 23. 
4), ' An Ammonite or Moabitc shall not enter into the 
congregation of the Lord.' So, when a fire breaks out 
on a slaveowner's premises, while others look for plunder 
among his valuables, the slave's first care is to look for 
the contract which binds him to his master and to de- 
stroy it. — Mid. Lament, i. 



MIDRASH LAMENTATIONS 189 

The following story is related of a woman named 
Miriam, daughter of Nachtem, who was made captive 
with her seven sons. When the chief of the place had 
her sons brought before an image of an idol and bade 
them bow down before it, six of the sons, each in his 
turn, stubbornly declined to do so, each basing his re- 
fusal on a different Biblical passage showing the prohi- 
bition of idolatry ; and each on his refusal to comply 
with the mandate of the savage paid the penalty of 
death. When at last the turn of the youngest son came, 
and he, like his elder brothers, refused to bow down be- 
fore the idol, the perpetrator of this wholesale slaughter 
seemed to be overcome with something like pity for the 
young life, and tried, instead of violence, his persuasive 
})owers, and argued with the youngster to induce com- 
})liance with his orders. ' See,' he said, ' the fate of 
your brothers for refusing to do my bidding.' ' No,' 
answered the lad, ' I will not bow down to an idol, and 
I am prepared to meet death with the same fortitude as 
my brothers.' ' But your brothers,' argued the heathen, 
' did not die before they had seen something of life, and 
tasted its sweetness ; whilst you are so young and have 
seen nothing of life, you should not be so ready to 
sacrifice it.' ' No,' persisted the boy, ' I will not do an 
act which is offensive to my God and destructive of my 
soul.' ' I am prepared to compromise with you,' the 
savage went on with his subterfuges, ' I will drop my 
ring in front of the image, and you will bend down to 
pick the ring up, so that it shall appear to my people 
that you did my bidding, and they will no longer be 
able to say that I was defied, not only by your six 
brothers, but even by one of such tender years as you,' 
When all these devices had failed, the chief adopted 
other tactics. ' See,' he said, ' in my idol you have 
something tangible, which is more than can be said of 
your God, whom no one has ever seen and who lias no- 
thing visible about Him. Has your God a mouth, as you 



igO THE MIDRASH 

see my god has ? ' ' He has not a mouth,' rephed the 
lad, ' for He is incorporeal ; but by his word the hea- 
vens were made (Ps. 33.). He has no eyes, yet I know 
that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the 
land (Zech. 4.). He has no bodily ears, but he hearkens 
and hears (Mai. 3. ). He has no mortal hand, but his hands 
founded the earth ' (Isa. 48.). ' Then,' said the hea- 
then, ' why does He not save you out of my hands ? ' 
' Because I am destined to die,' replied the boy, ' and 
you are but the instrument — as any wild beast, such as 
a lion, a wolf, or a snake might be — to bring about the 
destiny decreed upon me.' Hereupon the child was put 
to death by order of the savage, and his mother, bereft 
of reason by the loss of all her children, threw herself 
down from the top of her house. Thus perished the 
mother and all her seven sons. — Mid. Lament, i. 

God in his love and mercy provides the remedy even 
before the disease visits us. He sent the sweet balm 
of comfort through one prophet before another of his 
prophets uttered his lamentations over the woes and 
sorrows which had overtaken Jerusalem and its people. 
In the first chapter of the Book of Lamentations Jere- 
miah pours out his bitter heart in twenty-two verses, 
alphabetically arranged ; but before Jeremiah thus 
uttered his sorrows the prophet Isaiah anticipated each 
of his colleague's woes with words of comfort suitable 
to the complaint. 

Jeremiah said, ' How doth the city sit solitary ' 
(Lament. I. i), but in anticipation of this lament Isaiah 
declares, ' The place is too strait for me, give place to 
me that I may dwell ' (Isa. 49. 20). Against Jeremiah's 
lament, ' She weepeth sore in the night, and her tears 
are on her cheeks,' Isaiah preceded him with the words, 
' For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem, thou 
shalt weep no more ' (Isa. 30. 19). 

Jeremiah says, ' Judah is gone into captivity,' which 
Isaiah anticipates with the assurance, ' He shall assemble 



MIDRASH LAMENTATIONS IQI 

the outcasts of Israel,' etc. (Isa. ii. 12). The words of 
Jeremiah, ' The ways of Zion do mourn,' Isaiah meets 
beforehand with the words, ' Prepare ye the way of the 
Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our 
God ' (Isa. 40. 3). Jeremiah complains, ' Her adver- 
saries have become chiefs ' : but Isaiah tells us before 
this, ' The sons of them that afflicted thee shall come 
bending their knee ' (Isa. 60. 14). Jeremiah cries, ' From 
the daughter of Zion all her beauty is departed ' : Isaiah 
had already said, ' And the Redeemer shall come to Zion ' 
(Isa. 59. 20). Jeremiah says, ' Jerusalem remembers in 
her days of affliction ' ; Isaiah assures us, ' The former 
shall not be remembered ' (Isa. 65. 17). Jeremiah says, 
' Jerusalem hath sinned ' ; Isaiah previous to this de- 
clares, ' I have blotted out as a thick cloud thy trans- 
gressions ' (Isa. 44. 22). Jeremiah says, 'Her filthiness 
is in her skirts ' ; Isaiah speaks of a time ' when the 
Lord shall wash away the filth of the daughters of Zion ' 
(Isa. 4. 4). Jeremiah laments, ' The enemy hath spread 
out his hands on all her pleasant things ' ; Isaiah anti- 
cipates this lament by assuring us, ' the Lord shall set 
his hand again the second time to recover the remnant 
of his people ' (Isa. 11. 11). Jeremiah says, ' All her 
people sigh, they seek bread ' ; Isaiah anticipates this 
complaint with the comforting words, ' they shall not 
hunger nor thirst ' (Isa. 49. 10). Jeremiah asks, 'See if 
there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow ' ; Isaiah has 
it, ' The Spirit shall be poured out on us from on high ' 
(Isa. 32. 15). Jeremiah laments, ' From above hath He 
sent a fire into my bones ' ; Isaiah brought the message 
from the Most High, ' For I will not contend for ever, 
neither will I be always wroth ' (Isa. 57. 16). Jeremiah 
complains, ' The yoke of transgressions is bound by his 
hand ' ; which Isaiah anticipates with the words, ' Loose 
thyself from the bands of thy neck,' etc. (Isa. 52. 2). 
Jeremiah cries, ' The Lord hath trodden under foot all 
my mighty men ' ; Isaiah comforts us with the words, 



192 THE MIDRASH 

' Prepare ye the way of the people, cast up the highway, 
hft up the standard for the people ' (Isa. 62. 10). Jere- 
miah says, ' For this I weep, mine eye runneth down 
with tears ' ; Isaiah assures us, ' For they shall see eye 
to eye when the Lord shall bring again Zion ' (Isa. 52. 
7). Jeremiah complains, ' Zion spreadeth forth her 
hands, and there is none to comfort her ' ; Isaiah had 
said, ' Comfort you, even I am He that comforteth you ' 
(Isa. 51. 12). Jeremiah declares, 'The Lord is righteous, 
for I have rebelled against his commandments ' ; Isaiah 
declares, 'Thy people also shall be all righteous' (Isa. 
60. 2). Jeremiah wails, ' I called for my lovers, but they 
deceived me ' ; Isaiah declares, ' But thou shalt call 
thy walls salvation and thy gates praise ' (Isa. 60. 18). 
Jeremiah cries, ' See, Lord, for I am in distress ' ; 
Isaiah declared, ' And when ye see this your heart shall 
rejoice ' (Isa. 66. 14). Jeremiah laments, ' There is 
none to comfort me ' ; Isaiah had previously proclaimed, 
' Comfort ye, comfort ye, my people,' etc. (Isa. 40. i). 
Jeremiah finally says, ' Let their wickedness come before 
thee,' etc. ; Isaiah had previously said, ' Even them will 
I bring to my holy mountain,' etc. — Mid. Lamenta- 
tions I. 

It seems that the identical word used to describe 
Israel's sin is employed to particularize the punishment 
for that sin, and is again made use of as the forgiveness of 
their transgression. It is, for instance, said that Israel 
sinned, and with the sin employed the word Ufi^l ' head ' 
in suggesting ' Let us appoint a head — a leader — and 
let us return to Egypt ' (Numb. 14.). In punishing 
them the same word Wi^l ' head ' is used (Isa. i. 5), 
and in comforting them the same word ti^K"! ' head ' 
is employed (Micah 2. 13). 

They transgressed with the word ' ear ' (Zech. 7. 11) ; 
in punishing them the same word is used (i Saml. 3. 11), 
and they arc comxforted with the same word (Isa. 30. 21). 
They sinned with the word ' eye ' (Isa. 3.) ; they were 



MIDRASH LAMENTATIONS I93 

punished with that word (Lament, i. 16), and comforted 
with the same word (Isa. 52). They transgressed with 
the word ' nose ' (Ezkl. 8. 17) ; they were punished with 
the word (Levit. 26. 24), and comforted with that word 
(Levit. 26. 42). They committed sin, and used in con- 
nexion therewith the word ' mouth ' (Isa. 5.) ; they were 
punished with that word (Isa. 9. ), and comforted with the 
same word (Ps. 126.). They erred with their tongue 
(Jer. 9.) ; they had their retribution with the same word 
(Lament. 4. 4), and w^ere comforted with the same word 
(Ps. 126.). They sinned, and used in connexion with 
their sin the word 'heart' (Zech. 7.) ; and so they were 
punished with that word (Isa. i. ), and were also comforted 
with the same word (Isa. 40.). They committed iniquity 
with their hands (Isa. i.), were punished with the same 
(Lament. 4. 10), and comforted with the same (Isa. 11. 11). 
They sinned with the word 'foot' (Prov. i.), were 
punished with the word (Jer. 13.), and comforted 
with that word (Isa. 52.). They committed sin with the 
word ' fire ' (Jer. 7), were punished with it (Lament. 
I. 3), and comforted with it (Zech. 2.). — Mid. Lament. 2. 



MIDRASH ESTHER 

Rabbi Eleazar, son of Rabbi Jose, says that he saw in 
Rome fragments of King Solomon's throne. — Mid. 
Esther i. 

As early as the time of creation it was decreed that the 
following should have precedence, each in his own sphere. 
Adam was first of man, Cain of murderers, and Abel of 
the murdered. Noah the first to escape from peril. 
Abraham held the enviable position of first of the faithful, 
and Isaac was the first of those ready and willing to sacri- 
fice themselves at the bidding of God. Jacob was the first 
of plain men, Judah of the tribes, and Joseph of saints ; 
Aaron first of priests, Moses of prophets, and Joshua of 
conquerors. Samuel was the first anointer, and Saul the 
first anointed (of kings), David the first singer, and Solo- 
mon the first builder ; Nebuchadnezzar the first destroyer, 
Ahasuerus the first seller, and Haman the first buyer. — 
Mid. Esther i. 

Among the vices of Ahasuerus his four cardinal virtues 
should not be overlooked. (i) Modesty : he reigned 
three years without demanding a crown or throne. 
(2) Patience, as he waited patiently for years until he 
found a wife worthy of his exalted position. (3) He was 
not too self-reliant, as he did nothing without consulting 
first those whom he trusted. (4) He was grateful, since 
any benefit bestowed on him had to be recorded in a book 
kept for the purpose. — Mid. Esther i. 

Ten measures of prostitution were given to this world, 
of which Alexandria (in Egypt) took nine. Out of ten 
measures of riches Rome took nine ; and of an equal num- 
ber of poverty Lud took nine. Ten measures of witch- 



MIDRASH ESTHER I95 

craft were also appropriated to the world, and of these 
Egypt grasped nine for herself. Out of the ten measures 
of stupidity, of an equal number of health, and of the 
same number of strength, Ishmael is the possessor of 
nine of each. Persia can boast of nine measures of vermin 
(D'JD ) out of the ten that were sent here below. Media 
is the happy owner of nine measures of beauty out of the 
ten that were given to the world. Nine measures each of 
contempt and ugliness fell to the lot of the East. The 
Chaldeans had for their share nine out of the ten mea- 
sures of might, and Judah an equal share of strength. 
Jerusalem got for her share nine of each of the ten 
measures of comeliness, flattery, learning, and wisdom. — 
Mid. Esther i. 

The question is raised,whcnce had Ahasuerus his riches ? 
And it is answered that Nebuchadnezzar, who was as rich 
and as mean as he was wicked, grudged Avilmerodach so 
much wealth, and therefore had secret caves made on the 
shores of Euphrates and diverted its waters on to them 
to cover them. Cyrus, when he decreed to rebuild the 
Temple, was rewarded by the Lord, who revealed to 
him the hidden treasures (Isa. 45. 3), of which he took 
possession, and which eventually found their way to 
Ahasuerus — Mid. Esther 2. 

Semiramis was the name of Nebuchadnezzar's wife, 
and she was one of four women who ruled ; she and 
Vashti amongst gentiles, Jezebel and Athalia amongst 
Jews. — Mid. Esther 3. 

A woman's pleasure consists in a fine house and fine 
clothes rather than in the best of food. — Mid. Esther 3. 

When Israelites assemble for eating, drinking, and 
making merry, they do not omit to offer praise and thanks 
to God for the meat and drink. With some of the nations 
it is different ; in an assembly of that sort the conversa- 
tion is confined to the question who are the more beauti- 
ful, the Persian or the Median women. — Mid. Esther 3 

Rabbi Simon b. Jochua and his son Rabbi Eleazar hid 



196 THE MIDRASH 

themselves for years in caves to escape death on account 
of their religion. They suffered greatly from hunger. 
Now and then R. Simon ventured to peep out of the cave, 
and he used to see a hunter shooting at birds with varied 
success. Sometimes the bird fell, and at times a bird 
escaped. From this he gained greater resignation to his 
lot, saying, ' even a bird does not fall to the hunter's bow 
unless death is decreed for it, and what is decreed we 
must accept cheerfully.' — Mid. Esther 3. 

The Hebrew language for speech, Latin for war, and 
the Persian language for lamentations. — Mid. Esther 4. 

The misdeeds of faithless servants sometimes bring 
about the reward of deserving men, as was the case with 
Joseph and with Mordecai. — Mid. Esther 6. 

The book of memorial of Ahasuerus should remind us 
of the Book of Memorial of the Most High (Mai. 3.). — 
Mid. Esther 6. 

David's blessing, ' Blessed are they that keep judg- 
ment and he that doeth righteousness all the time ' 
(Ps. 106. 3) is applied to him who adopts an orphan. — 
Mid. Esther 6. 

The fact that the wicked are free from sorrow and wax 
fat in this world by no means implies their ultimate good. 
The prosperity of Haman only made him feel his fall all 
the more keenly. Said the young ass to his elder : * How 
wrong it is on the part of our master to feed that pig of 
his which does no work, and fatten it up with such care ; 
whilst for us, who work for him, he has but a small 
measure with which he gauges our food.' ' Do not judge 
things by appearance,' answered the older and more 
experienced animal : ' that very fattening of the pig will 
cause its destruction. When he is fit and fattened up 
his master will kill him.' — Mid. Esther 7. 

The narrative of the sixth chapter of the book of Esther 
seems to corroborate the tradition that the sleep of 
Ahasuerus was broken by a dream or vision that Haman 
was stripping him of his crown and royal attire previous 



MIDRASH ESTHER I97 

to taking his life ; and when Haman suggested putting 
the crown on the man whom the kingdehghted to honour, 
he saw in this that his dream was about to be fulfilled. — 
Mid. Esther 10. 

The following is the origin and history of the letters 
and presents that Merodach-baladan sent to Hezekiah 
(Isa. 39.). This heathen, a sun worshipper, was accus- 
tomed to sleep regularly up to a certain hour of the day. 
Once an echpse of the sun caused darkness at the hour 
when he should have risen, and he overslept himself, and 
was incensed with his courtiers for allowing him to do so. 
When they pleaded the sun's eclipse and the consequent 
darkness he seemed amazed at their statement. ' What 
God is greater than my god, the sun,' he asked, ' that 
could control his movements ? ' The God of Hezekiah,' 
they replied, ' is greater than your god.' He was struck 
by their reply, and proceeded to write to Hezekiah a 
letter to accompany the presents which he sent him. The 
letter began : ' Peace to Hezekiah, Peace to the God of 
Hezekiah, and Peace to Jerusalem.' He handed the 
epistle with the presents to the messengers, but they had 
only gone a short distance when he bethought himself. 
' All the honour,' he said to himself, ' that I now bestow 
on Hezekiah is only because of that great God of his, and 
yet I indited the letter to him, with peace to him first, 
and then peace to his God.' So distressed was he at this 
serious error that he himself ran after the messengers, 
brought them back, tore up the original letter, and framed 
another one which lie headed, ' Peace to the Great God of 
Hezekiah, Peace to Hezekiah, and Peace to Jerusalem.' 
The Eternal decreed as a reward for him that three of 
his descendants — Nebuchadnezzar, Avilmerodach, and 
Belshazzar — should reign over extensive kingdoms. — 
Mid. Esther 10. 



MIDRASH PSALMS 

As the sea throws up its refuse on its shores, so have 
the wicked their filthiness upon their mouths. — Mid. 
Psalms 2. 

As the billows of the sea, when rushing towards the 
shores in their violence and fury, threaten to swamp the 
whole shore, yet when they near the shore their fury and 
violence are lessened, and at last they meekly spend them- 
selves ; so also with those who persecute Israel (likened 
to the sand on the shore of the sea) and threaten to over- 
whelm them ; they are eventually constrained to lessen 
their violence and fury. — Mid. Psalms 2. 

The wicked try to improve on one another in their 
acts of wickedness. Cain killed Abel. Esau sought to 
improve on Cain, who killed his brother whilst Adam was 
yet alive to beget another son instead of Abel ; he would 
wait till his father died, then he would kill his brother, 
so that he alone might inherit everything. Pharaoh 
thought Esau's scheme did not go far enough, because 
whilst Esau was waiting he allowed Jacob to raise up a 
family of his own ; therefore his design was an improve- 
ment on Esau's : better kill the Israelites' males at 
their very birth ; the women would then be intermixed 
with the Egyptians, and thus Israel would be entirely 
obliterated. Haman criticised Pharaoh's wisdom, and 
decided upon the policy of making a clean sweep of all 
the Jews without distinction of sex. Gog and Magog 
ridiculed all their predecessors in iniquity, and taking 
into account that the Jews had a Protector in their 
Heavenly Father, thought of attacking God Himself. — 

Mid. Psalms 2. 

us 



MIDRASH PSALMS I99 

All the prophets started with admonitions and ended 
with words of comfort. Jeremiah alone had no words 
of comfort to offer. — Mid. Psalms 4. 

That the mere mechanical application to the Throne of 
Mercy is not efficacious is plainly seen from the words of 
King David, who says God is nigh to all that call upon 
Him, and, as it were, as a condition, he adds the import- 
ant words, ' to those who call upon Him iji truth.' — Mid. 
Psalms 4. 

The last words of Rabbi Zivry b. Leves were : ' For 
this let every saint pray to Thee.' Those of Rabbi Jos6 
b. Pinehas were : ' Better one day in thy court ' ; and 
those of Rabbi Joshua b. Levi were : ' How great is thy 
goodness which Thou hast reserved for those who revere 
Thee.' — Mid. Psalms 5. 

A man is bound to pay the same respect to his wife's 
father as he would to his own father. — Mid. Psalms 7. 

With regard to the conduct of life, men may be said to 
be divided into three sections. There arc men who are 
thoroughly good, practising righteousness for righteous- 
ness' sake. They are thankful to their Maker for having 
brought them to this life and endowed them with intel- 
lect to view the works of creation ; they expect and ask 
for no reward. There is another sect who, when doing 
any commendable deed, book it, as it were, to their credit 
and expect recompense in the future life. But there is, 
alas ! a worse section, who neither have nor seek to have 
any merits of their own, but look for favours to the merits 
of their ancestors. — Mid. Psalms 8. 

If one tells you definitely when the Messiah will come, 
believe him not. — Mid. Psalms 9. 

The following Rabbis were martyrs : Rabbi Simeon 
b. Gamaliel, Rabbi Ishmacl b. Elisha, Jcshbab the scribe, 
Chu^pas the translator, Jos6 Judah b. Baba, Judah 
Nachtom, Simon b. Azai, Chanina b. Tradyon. and Rabbi 
Akiba. — Mid. Psalms 9. 
[ David's words clearly show that righteous non-Jews 



200 THE MIDRASH 

will inherit future bliss. He says : ' The wicked shall 
go to ' Sheol ' and all the nations that forget God ' 
(Ps. 9. 18), i.e. those of the nations that forget God, but 
not those who worship God. — Mid. Psalms 9.^ 

A certain philosopher asked Rabbi Elisha : — ' Your 
prophet predicts about us " They shall build, but I will 
throw down " (Mai. i. 4). Now look at Alexandria 
built by Alexander ; at Constantinople, built by Con- 
stantine ; or Antiochia, raised up by Antiochus ; at 
Seleucia, built by Seleucus ; or at our Roman empire. 
The founders and builders themselves are gone, yet their 
works stand as a monument to their might and wisdom.' 
' What the prophet means,' answered the sage, ' is not 
the structures of brick and mortar, but your designs 
against us, in which you will not prevail, but which our 
God will throw down.' ' If it is that,' confessed the 
Roman philosopher, ' to which your prophet alludes, 
' then I must admit the truth of it, because I well know 
what weapons are forged every year, in our councils, for 
your destruction ; and somehow each time some one 
comes and frustrates our designs.' — Mid. Psalms 9. 

There would be a serious discrepancy in two parts 
of Scripture were it not that we know, traditionally, 
the explanation. In the second Book of Samuel (17. 
25) mention is made of ' Ithra an Israehte.' In the 
first of Chronicles (2. 18) the same person is mentioned as 
' Ithra the Ishmaelite.' The fact is that this man was 
originally an Ishmaelite who used to frequent the Jewish 
seminary, when he heard Jesse hold forth on the text in 
Isaiah (45, 23) ' Look unto Me and be ye saved, all the 
ends of the earth ; for I am God and there is none else.' 
So impressed was this Ithra with the expounding of this 
text that he became a convert to Judaism, married Jesse's 
daughter, and was henceforth known as Ithra the 
Israehte. — Mid. Psalms 9. 

1 See also Tosephta Sanhedrin. 



MIDRASH PSALMS 201 

Of all the gjod men who arc designed to see God, those 
that were upright in their hves here stand in the first 
rank. — Mid. Psalms ii. 

Moses' prayer for his people was, ' O that there were 
such a heart in them,' etc. (Deut. 5.), and when his disciple 
Joshua suggested to him to prohibit any but himself to 
prophesy, this meek and unselfish man burst out in the 
l^rayer, ' Would that all the Lord's people were prophets, 
that the Lord would put his Spirit upon them ' 
(Xumb. II.). Such a prayer from such a man cannot 
l)e left unanswered, though we must leave it to God's 
own good time, when these prayers will be brought into 
fulfilment. By the prophet Ezekiel God's people are 
promised a new heart (Ezkl. 36.), and through his 
prophet Joel God promises to pour out his Spirit upon 
all flesh, and they shall prophesy (Joel 2.). — Mid. 
Psalms 14. 

Most of the blessings that God bestows upon his 
people proceed from Zion. The Torah, as it is said in 
Isaiah (2. 3). Blessings in general (Ps. 134.). The bless- 
ing of brightness (Ps. 52.), that of support (Ps. 20.), of hfe 
(Ps. 133.), of greatness (Ps. 98.), and of salvation (Ps. 14.). 
— Mid. Psalms 14. 

David enumerates eleven attributes which will render 
a man fit to abide in the Tabernacle of the Lord (Ps. 15.). 
One of these is, ' he that putteth not his money out to 
usury.' And this applies equally to non-Jews. One is 
not allowed to take usury from either. — Mid. Psalms 17. 

Hillel and Shammai declined to accept remuneration 
for the instruction tliey gave to their pupils, and truly 
can we say of them ' they have not put their money out 
to usury.' — Mid. Psalms 15. 

He who hears himself abused (or cursed) and does not 
retaliate may l>e called a saintly man. — Mid. Psalms 16. 

The si.\ hundred and thirtren commandments which 
were handed over to the Israelites were reduced by 
King David to eleven (Ps. 15.). Isaiah further reduced 



202 THE MIDRASH 

all the commandments to six (Isa. 23- ^5, i6). Micah 
made a further reduction of them to three (Micah 6. 8). 
Habakkuk reduced the whole to one, that of faith 
(Hab. 2. 4). — Mid. Psalms 17. 

Rabbi Joshua b. Levi mentions a tradition to the effect 
that when Jacob and Esau met for the purpose of bury- 
ing their father Isaac (Gen. 35.), Esau at last attempted 
to carry bis long cherished desire for vengeance on his 
brother into effect, and took up a threatening attitude 
towards Jacob ; but when Judah — who with his brothers 
was present at the burial of Isaac — saw that Esau's 
enmity towards Jacob was still smouldering, he prevented 
any untoward event by killing Esau. — Mid. Psalms 18. 

It is much more difhcult to cope with a Jewish enemy 
than with a non- Jewish enemy. — Mid. Psalms 18. 

Good men are meek and humble, and style themselves 
servants, and they are registered in the book of God's 
army as servants. Abraham called himself servant (Gen. 
18. ) and God refers to him as his servant (Gen. 18. ) ; Jacob 
pronounced himself servant (Gen. 32.), and God calls him 
his servant (Isa. 44.) ; Moses refers to himself as servant 
(Deut. 3.), and God declares him his servant (Numb. 12.); 
David describes himself as servant (Ps. 116.), and God 
calls him his servant (2 Saml. 3.). And there are two 
individuals who had not taken the opportunity of 
pronouncing themselves servants, but God declares 
them to be his servants, viz. Isaac (Exod. 32)., and 
Joshua (Josh. 24.). — Mid. Psalms 18. 

A father and his son being on a long journey, the son 
said that he would like to know when they would arrive 
at the end of it. The older man replied that when they 
saw a cemetery they might hope to arrive at the town 
soon. Similarly our Heavenly Father indicates to us 
that when heavy persecution and sorrow meet us we 
may hope to be brought to Him, to a haven of rest and 
shelter. — Mid. Psalms 20. 

The whole of our history tends to show that, when 



MIDRASH PSALMS 203 

distress was at its greatest, God was nearest. E\en 
when we well deserved God's punishment, as for the 
making of the golden calf for which our destruction was 
threatened, yet we find soon after, ' And the Lord 
repented of the evil which He thought to do unto his 
people ' (Exod. 32.). When in darkness the Lord hath 
become our light (Micah 7.). In his anger God yet 
grants us his mercy (Hab. 2.). The very time of trouble 
is transposed into a time of joy and help (Jer. 30.), the 
estrangement to a bringing near (Hosea 2.), the threat 
of annihilation into exaltation (Esther 4). — Mid. 
Psalms 21. 

Trust in God delivers us from impending peril. — Mid. 
Psalms 22. 

The more good men are exalted the meeker they 
become. Abraham declared himself dust and ashes 
(Gen. 18). Moses and Aaron disclaimed all greatness 
(Exod. 16.). David styled himself a worm and not a 
man (Ps. 22.). Saul called himself but a child of a 
Benjaminite (i Saml. q.). Gideon said he was the hum- 
blest in Manasseh (Jud. 6.). Not so with the heathen in 
his brief authority. Pharaoh said, ' Who is the Lord 
that I should obey his voice ? ' (Exod. 5.). Goliath defied 
the armies of Israel (i Saml. 17.). Sennacherib boasted, 
' Who are they among all the gods that have delivered 
theircountryout of my hands ? ' (2 Kings 18.). Nebuchad- 
nezzar asked, ' Who is that god that shall deliver you 
out of my hands ? ' (Dan. 3.). Bclshazzar was rebuked 
by Daniel for having lifted himself up against * the Lord 
of heaven ' (Danl. 5.). Hiram too received a sharp 
rebuke for having set his heart as the heart of God 
(Ezkl. 28.).— Mid. Psalms 22. 

Woe to any man when death approaches him, to the 
strong man when he becomes weak, or to him who lo.ses 
his sight ; but woe to the whole generation which is 
ruled by a woman. — Mid. Psalms 22. 

An officiating Priest once scorned a woman who 



204 THE MIDRASH 

brought a handful of flour as an offering, and, in a vision 
which he had immediately afterwards, he received a very 
severe rebuke. — Mid. Psalms 22. 

Haman's property was divided as follows : One- 
third went to Mordecai and Esther, another went to 
those who separated themselves from the outer world 
and devoted themselves to study and religion, and one- 
third towards the building of the Temple. — Mid. 
Psalms 22. 

The Holy Spirit sometimes rested on King David 
before he commenced singing and playing hymns, and 
he was in fact prompted to the hymns by the Holy Spirit 
that rested upon him. At other times the Holy Spirit 
kept away from him, but came upon him as soon as he 
gave himself up to hymns and praises. — Mid. Psalms 24. 

We Jews surely give practical proof of our faith in 
God's promises. No resurrection has yet taken place, 
yet the established ritual throughout Jewry contains the 
prayers to be said, ' Blessed art Thou, Lord, who 
quickenest the dead.' Our last (chief) redemption has 
not yet been brought about, but we proclaim twice every 
day, ' Blessed art Thou, O God, the Redeemer of Israel.' 
— Mid. Psalms 31. 

If all your life is given up to the pursuit of earthly 
things, it is quite consistent for you to look downwards ; 
but if you pursue the higher life, look upwards. — Mid. 
Psalms 32. 

He that feels as though his heart is torn within him 
on account of his sin may well hope for God's forgive- 
ness. Yet whilst continually thinking of his grievous 
sin, man must not make a habit of sinning and rely on 
his sorrow and confession for the expiation of his sin. — 
— Mid. Psalms 32. 

The wicked are, as a rule, brought to judgment when 
all fear of judgment has left them. — ^Mid. Psalms 36. 

Jerusalem is destined to become the Metropolis of the 
world. — Mid. Psalms 36. 



MIDRASH PSALMS 205 

Israel was in the darkness of slavery in Egypt, and 
Moses and Aaron were the means of bringing them to the 
light of freedom. They were in captivity in Babylon ; 
Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were the messengers of 
their freedom. They were oppressed at the hands of the 
Greeks, and deliverance was brought by Mattathias 
Hashmonai and his sons. When again brought under 
the yoke of Edom (Rome) Israel wishes no longer any 
human agency for his rescue, but looks direct to God to 
l)e his light of deliverance (Ps. ii8.). So one enveloped 
in darkness endeavours to get artificial light time after 
time, but each time the light becomes extinguished, 
and he at last resolves to abandon all further attempts 
to procure light, and to wait for sunrise to bring him 
natural light. — Mid. Psalms 36. 

How flexible is the tongue, and how great is its power ! 
It is related of a Persian king that his physicians ordered 
him to drink the milk of a lioness, and one of his servants 
offered to procure the rare medicine. Taking with him 
some sheep with which to lure the beast, he actually 
succeeded in obtaining milk from a lioness. 

On his journey homewards, being fatigued, he fell 
into a deep slumber, during which the various members 
of his body commenced disputing as to which of 
them had contributed most towards the success of their 
owner in obtaining so rare a thing as milk from a 
lioness. 

Said the feet : ' There can be no doubt that we are the 
only factors in this successful undertaking. Without us 
there could have been no setting out on this dangerous 
venture.' ' Not so,' said the hands, ' the facility you 
offered would have been of no avail had our power not 
been called into requisition ; it is the service we 
rendered that enabled our owner to procure milk from 
the lioness.' ' Neither of you could have rendered any 
service,' exclaimed the eyes, ' without the sight which we 
supplied.' ' And yet,' interrupted the heart, ' had not I 



206 THE MIDRASH 

inspired the idea, no steps would have been taken to bring 
any of your powers into exercise.' At last the tongue 
put in her claim, and was utterly ridiculed by the unani- 
mous opinions of all the other contending members of 
the body. 

' You,' they scornfully replied, ' you who have not the 
free power of action which is possessed by all and each of 
us, you who are imprisoned in the narrow space of the 
human mouth, — you dare to put in a claim to have con- 
tributed to this success ! ' In the midst of this contention 
the man woke up, and prosecuted his journey home- 
wards. Being brought before the king with the much 
desired milk, the man, by a slip of the tongue, said, 
' Here I have brought your Majesty the dog's milk.' The 
savage king becoming incensed by this insulting remark, 
there and then ordered the man to be put to death. On 
the man's way to execution, all the members of his body, 
heart, eyes, feet, and hands trembled and were terribly 
afraid. * Did I not tell you,' said the tongue, ' that my 
power is above all the united powers you possess ? and 
you ridiculed me for my trouble. What think you of 
my power now ? Are you now prepared to acknowledge 
my power to be greater than all yours ? ' 

When all the members of the body consented to the 
tongue's proposition, the tongue requested and obtained 
a short reprieve, so that it could make a last appeal for 
the king's clemency. When the man was brought to the 
king his tongue started in all its eloquence. ' Is this the 
reward,' it began, ' great and just king, to be meted out 
to the only one of your majesty's servants who was glad 
of the opportunity to offer his life to fulfil his king's 
desire, who gladly carried his life in his hand to obtain 
for his august master what scarcely ever was obtained 
by mortal man ? ' ' But,' replied the king, ' your own 
statement was that you brought me dog's milk instead 
of the lioness' milk which you undertook to procure.' 
' Not so, O gracious king,' replied the tongue, * I brought 



MIDRASH PSALMS 2O7 

the identical milk that your majesty required ; it was 
merely by an unfortunate mistake in my speech that I 
changed the name ; and in fact there is a similarit}', as 
the word hi'^'^D may mean either lioness or dog. My 
words will be verifted if your majesty will condescend to 
make use of the milk I procured, for it will effect the cure 
your majesty desires.' The milk was submitted to the 
test, and was found to be that of a lioness ; and so the 
tongue triumphantly demonstrated its great power for 
good or for evil. — Mid. Psalms 39. 

View David's career, and you will see both the neces- 
sity and the efficacy of repentance. — Mid. Psalms 40. 

He that is satiated with tears cannot be expected to 
have appetite for food. — Mid. Psalms 42. 

In futurity the righteous will feast on the splendour of 
the Shechinah. — Mid. Psalms 45. 

To Israel's question ' O Lord, when wilt Thou redeem 
us ? ' God's answer is, ' When you have fallen to your 
lowest depth.' — Mid. Psalms 45. 

He that puts his sin wilfully away from his eyes has 
no right to expect or hope for pardon. ' My sin,' says 
David, ' is continually before me.' David was like the 
patient to whom the physician said, ' I am very sorry for 
you, your illness is a very serious one.' ' No,' said the 
patient, ' the reason of my illness is that there may be a 
reward for curing me.' Thus David prayed to God to 
cure him (to pardon his sins), so that God's great power, 
his mercy and lovingkindness, might be known, since He 
had pardoned such great and grievous sin. — Mid. 
Psalms 51. 

He that is deeply sensible of his sin, is in terror of it, 
confesses it, and is in communion with God concerning 
this burden of uncleanliness, may hope for forgiveness. — 
Mid. Psalms 51. 

If you intend to put man to rights, put yourself to 
rights first. — Mid. Psalms 53. 

As there is no limit to the evils of a bad wife, so 



208 THE MIDRASH 

there is no limit to the good that is caused by a good wife. 
— Mid. Psalms 53. 

Men who do not marry deprive themselves of (i) God's 
blessing, for it was only after Adam became possessed of 
Eve that God blessed them (Gen. 28.). (2) Life, as King 
Solomon has it, ' Live joyfully with the wife,' etc. 
(Eccles. 9.). (3) Joy, as it is said, ' Rejoice with the wife 
of thy youth ' (Prov. 5.). (4) Help, ' I will make a help- 
mate for him ' (Gen. 2. ). (5) Good, ' Whoso findeth a wife 
findeth a good thing ' (Prov. 18.). — Mid. Psalms 59. 

If a man should intend committing an evil act, but has 
not carried out his intention, the Merciful One will forbear 
punishing him. On the other hand, if a man intends 
doing a religious deed, and is somehow prevented from 
carrying it into effect, he will receive his reward as 
though he had carried out his intention. We find that 
David was looked upon almost as the builder of the 
Temple, and the Consecration Psalm (30.) is called ' the 
dedication of the house of David.' — Mid. Psalms 62. 

' I am that I am,' said God to Moses, by which He 
intimated that He created the world in mercy, and will 
always rule the world in mercy. — Mid. Psalms 72. 

The great faith manifested by the tribe of Judah 
entitles it to the dignified position it has attained, that 
of being the Royal House of Israel. On the banks of the 
Red Sea the people hesitated to plunge into the water, 
until the tribe of Judah, exclaiming that there can be no 
hesitation where one has God's promise of protection, like 
one man took the initiative and jumped into the sea ; then 
their example was followed by all the other tribes. — 
Mid. Psalms 76. 

One is not to think lightly of a parable or a simile : in- 
deed one is to look upon them in the same sense as psalms, 
hymns, or prophecy. 

Hath not the Lord sent his prophet Ezekiel to put 
forth a riddle and speak a parable unto the house of 
Israel (Ezkl. 17.) ? and hath not the Psalmist said, 



MIDRASH PSALMS 2O9 

' I will open my mouth in a parable ' (Ps. 78.) ? — Mid. 
Psalms 79. 

It seems strange that, out of all the Patriarchs, the 
Temple should only be called by the name of Jacob 
(Isa. 2. 3, and Jer. 30. 18). Yet it is but proper that the 
Temple is styled ' the house of the God of Jacob.' A 
king once intimated to three of his friends his intention of 
building a palace, and showed them the spot upon which 
that palace was to be erected. The first friend remarked 
slightingly, ' there was a mountain on this spot before.' 
The second friend made the disparaging remark, ' This 
is an open field.' The third friend said, ' This is the 
place for a palace.' Abraham, being on the spot where 
the Temple was destined to be erected, called it the 
mountain of God (Gen. 22.). Isaac alluded to the spot as 
a field that God blessed (Gen. 27.). It was left to Jacob 
to call the place by the proper name when he said, on 
waking up from his vision, ' This is no other than the 
house of God, and this is the gate of heaven ' (Gen. 28.). 
Therefore the Temple was called by his name. — Mid. 
Psalms 81. 

A generation is twenty years. — Mid. Psalms 90. 

The coats, or covers, with which God clothed Adam 
and Eve after their fall were made of the serpent's skin. — 
Mid. Psalms 92. 

Moses and Isaiah alone of all the prophets knew 
what they were prophesying ; all the other prophets, 
including Elijah and Samuel, uttered their prophecies 
mechanically. — Mid. Psalms 90. 

If you bear in mind that your prayers are directed to 
the God above, then they will be a blending of joy and 
awe. — Mid. Psalms 100. 

Sing praises unto the Eternal whether you worship Him 
as a God of judgment or as a God of mercy. — Mid. 
Psalms loi. 

God asks neither for burnt offerings nor for other sacri- 
fices. He asks for earnest prayer. — Mid. Psalms 102. 

p 



210 THE MIDRASH 

Rabbi Gamaliel was asked by a heathen to define the 
residence of God. When the sage stated his inability 
to do so, the questioner retorted : ' and yet you pray to 
Him daily without even knowing where He is. Surely 
our position is a more rational one ; we know and we see 
the god that we worship.' ' Now,' said Rabbi Gamaliel, 
' you ask of me a thing as difficult to comply with as 
though you had asked me to walk for five hundred years : 
I will, in return, ask you something by no means so diffi- 
cult to answer. In which part of your body does your 
soul reside ? ' ' I do not know,' answered R. Gamaliel's 
friend. ' Well then,' observed the sage, ' hath David 
said " Bless the Lord, my soul," for in certain attri- 
butes the soul resembles its giver. As God filleth the 
whole world so the human soul filleth the whole body. 
God is unique, and the soul is unique. God neither eats 
nor drinks, neither does the soul. As God is pure, so is 
the soul (his spark) pure. As God cannot be seen, so 
the soul cannot be seen.' — Mid. Psalms 103. 

Prayer is not to be offered in the midst of frivolity or 
laughter, but with humility and bowed head. — Mid. 
Psalms 108. 

At the redemption of Israel, the nations amongst 
which they have been scattered, and out of which they 
will be redeemed, will sing praises to God. — Mid. 
Psalms 117. 

The wicked walk in darkness, but those who have the 
light of God, the Torah, as their guide are restricted 
from committing sin even when they have a passing 
desire to do so. — Mid. Psalms 119. 

The fact that special mention is made of the affair of 
Zimri (Numb. 24. 14) tends to show that the Israelites, 
in those days, were very chaste, as such conduct seems 
to have come as a surprise to the whole camp. — Mid. 
Psalms 122. 

Every man gets the wife he deserves. — Mid. Psalms 
125. 



MIDRASH PSALMS 211 

Repentance is of no avail in a matter of wronging your 
fellow-man, without first rectifying the wrong done. — 
Mid. Psalms 125. 

Whether in season or out of season, it is a good omen 
to see white grapes in a dream. With black grapes there 
is a difference : in their season it is favourable, but if 
they are seen when they are not in season it is exceed- 
ingly unfavourable, and the dreamer should pray for 
God's mercy. — Mid. Psalms 128. 

Water, milk and wine should never be left uncovered. — 
Mid. Psalms 136. 

No one has a right to expect success in his mundane 
affairs unless he works for it. Moses blessed the works 
of the hiUids and all of man's doings (Deut. 14. 29). — 
Mid. Psalms 136. 

Let no man say ' My father was a righteous man ; I 
shall be all right for his sake,' or ' My brother was a 
righteous man, and I shall reaj) the benefit of his merits.' 
Abraham could not save Ishmael, and Jacob could not 
save Esau. Each man must work out his own salva- 
tion. — Mid. Psalms 146. 



MIDRASH PROVERBS 

Man should attain sound sense and a feeling of responsi- 
bility at the age of twenty. — Mid. Proverbs i. 

Man must be attentive to his wife, to his studies, and 
to his occupation. — Mid. Proverbs 5. 

Happy indeed is the teacher who has a disciple that 
can intercede with Heaven, by his prayer, on behalf of 
the teacher. — Mid. Proverbs 7. 

Do not despise an ignorant man who strives to gain 
knowledge, or a man of ill repute who strives to redeem 
his past. — Mid. Proverbs 7. 

The Day of Atonement will never be abolished. — 
Mid. Proverbs 9. 

Have a good word for your fellow-man, and the minis- 
tering angels will plead for you before the throne of 
mercy. — Mid. Proverbs 11. 

Man has two hands ; but he is not to rob with the one 
and give alms with the other. — Mid. Proverbs 11. 

He who, being on friendly terms with another, eats 
and drinks with him and does not refrain from speaking 
against him, is designated by God Himself an evil one. — 
Mid. Proverbs 12. 

A man proud of his knowledge is a propagator of 
folly. — Mid. Proverbs 13. 

Here man is able to comprehend things and test them 
by his senses, such as the sense of sight or the sense of 
hearing ; but he cannot imagine what future bliss means, 
since it is an abstract idea and cannot be tested either 
by the sense of sight or by the sense of hearing. — Mid. 
Proverbs 13. 



MIDRASH PROVERBS 213 

Consider the great value of righteousness (or charity, 
the word HpliJ may mean either righteousness or charity. 
The view taken in Holy Writ of giving alms or help to the 
poor, is that it is nothing more than what is right or just, 
an act of justice or equity). It atones for the sins, not 
only of Jews, but also of non-Jews. It is placed at the 
right hand of God (Ps. 48.). It is God's praise (Isa. 63.). 
It gives life and honour to its practisers (Prov. 21.). 
Abraham was praised for it (Gen. 15.). David too was 
praised for it (i Saml. 28.). And so it is also Israel's praise 
(Deut. 6.). God will be.e.xalted by it (Isa. 5.). It goes to 
{)repare a place before the departure hence of those who 
have practised it (Isa. 38.). — Mid. Proverbs 14. 

God lends eloquence to the supphant. — Mid. Pro- 
verbs 15. 

A man of a kindly and charitable disposition is 
generally blessed with old age, which sits on him like a 
crown. — Mid. Proverbs 16. 

A learned man who has a learned son and a learned 
grandson may reasonably hope that learning will be the 
characteristic of his family for generations to come. — 
Mid. Proverbs 18. 

If you want to incur contempt, be extravagant in self- 
I)raise. — Mid. Proverbs 27. 

A judge, like a king, should not depend on anybody's 
gifts ; nor should he, like a priest, live on the people's 
bounty. — Mid. Proverbs 30. 

Alexander of Macedonia overran the whole world like a 
swarm of locusts. — Mid. Proverbs 30. 

What blessings cannot earnest prayer bring down for 
us from heaven ! It was in answer to Hannah's earnest 
prayer that >he was blessed with a son whose name was 
associated with those of Moses and Aaron (Ps. 99.) as the 
lights of Israel. — Mid. Proverbs 30. 

The virtues of Noah's wife outweighed those of Noah. 
— Mid. Proverbs 31. 

As an example of a good wife, the spouse of Rabbi 



214 THE MIDRASH 

Meier may perhaps be mentioned. The learned Rabbi 
was engaged the whole of one Sabbath afternoon in a 
discourse in the college, during which time his two sons 
died. Their mother had them removed to a room and 
covered up. When in the evening her husband returned 
from the college and asked for his two sons she gave him 
some evasive answer and asked him to pronounce the 
blessing fixed for the departing Sabbath. This done, 
she set some food before him, of which he partook after 
persuasion, as his anxiety about his two boys was in- 
creasing. When the meal was finished and the good 
Rabbi insisted on knowing where his boys were, his wife 
said, ' I will answer your question after you have 
answered mine. If any one,' she asked, ' has deposited 
something with you, are you bound to return it to him 
without any complaint ? ' Her husband expressed his 
surprise that his own wife should ask a question upon a 
matter so obvious. ' Do you want instruction on this 
point, and does it not go without saying that you must 
return what is deposited with you ? ' 

At this she took him gently by the hand, and bidding 
him follow her, led him to the room where the two corpses 
lay, and removing the cover from their faces showed him 
their dead boys. Rabbi Meier showed a tendency to 
give way to grief, but the good woman checked him. 
' Did you not tell me but a few minutes ago that it is 
our duty to return anything that had been deposited 
with us ? It is our duty not to utter a word of com- 
plaint, but to say, " The Lord hath given, the Lord hath 
taken ; blessed be the name of the Lord " ' (Job i.). 

Rabbi Meier was glad and grateful to his wife for re- 
calling him to a sense of his duty. — Mid. Proverbs 31. 



MIDRASH SAMUEL 

Behold the greatness of worship. Israel was redeemed 
from Egypt because of his worship (Exod. 4.). The 
Torah was given to the Israehtes on account of worship 
(Exod. 24.). The Temple was built owing to worship 
(Ps. 99.). The dead will be quickened in consequence of 
worship (Ps.). The final redemption will be brought 
about through worship (Isa. 27.). — Mid. Samuel 3. 

In naming your children try to perpetuate a good 
name. You know it is not the custom of the world to 
name their children after Pharaoh, Sisera, or Sennacherib; 
rather call them after the Patriarchs or other good men. 
— Mid. Samuel i. 

Prayer is, or should be, the service of the heart. — 
Mid. Samuel 2. 

In the time of Elkanah and Hannah there was a tradi- 
tion that a wonderful child would be born who would 
receive the name of Samuel. Many mothers called 
their newly-born boys by the name of Samuel ; but 
when the Samuel came it was universally acknowledged 
that this was the one looked forward to. — Mid. 
Samuel 3. 

Faith is a very good thing indeed, but no man has a 
right to neglect his duty and cast himself on God and say 
he has faith in Him to do what he himself ought to do. 
The rabbis taught this practical lesson by their lives. 
Rabbi Ishmael and Rabbi Akiba were walking through 
some streets in Jerusalem when a sick man came up to 
them complaining about his ailment and soliciting their 

216 



2l6 THE MIDRASH 

advice. When they told him of a remedy, another man 
came up to them reproaching them with irrehgion. ' If,' 
argued the man, ' it is God's will that this man should 
have a certain disease, are you going to counteract God's 
decision by removing the disease which has been decreed 
for him ? ' ' What is your occupation ? ' demanded the 
Rabbis in reply to this piece of philosophy. ' I am a 
gardener, as you may see by the tools which I carry in 
my hands.' ' But why do you interfere with the earth 
which God has created ? ' continued the wise men. ' If 
I were not to manure, prune, and water the trees,' re- 
torted the man, ' how could I expect them to produce 
their fruit ? ' ' And man is even like the tree of the 
field,' said the Rabbis ; ' he requires tender treatment 
and attention to his body to make it flourish and keep 
in good trim.' — Mid. Samuel 4. 

No wizard or astrologer can produce a human soul. — 
Mid. Samuel 5. 

A religious teacher who in his old age is found not to 
be what he had always led men to believe that he was, 
pious and pure, is not to be held up to public derision, 
but should be made to retire from his duties in a manner 
which will not detract from his dignity. — Mid. Samuel 7. 

Great as is God's mercy, and open as his gates are to 
admit the prayer of the penitent, a man must not carry 
his evil deeds too far and rely upon the reception of him- 
self and his prayers, and reckon upon the greatness of 
God's mercy. The following Scripture quotations tend to 
confirm our assertion on this point : they would stand 
in open contradiction to one another were it not that one 
can detect in them the differences between man's timely 
repentance and his repenting when the measure of his evil 
deeds is overfull. Take the following passages and see 
whether they can possibly be reconciled without adopt- 
ing the hypothesis which we advance : — ' Have I pleasure 
that the wicked should die, saith the Lord God, and 
not that he should return from his way and live ? ' 



MIDRASH SAMUEL 21; 

Ezkl. i8. 23). Against these comforting words we have 
these : ' If a man sin against God, who shall entreat for 
him ? ' (i Saml. 2. 25). The Psalmist says : ' O Thou 
that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come' (Ps. 
65), but in Lamentations (3. 44) we have it, ' Thou hast 
covered Thyself with a cloud, that our prayers should not 
pass through.' Again we are assured : ' Out of the mouth 
of the Most High proceeded not evil ' (Lament. 3), and 
on the other hand, ' Therefore hath the Lord watched 
evil and brought it upon us ' (Deut. 9.). 

Jerusalem is called upon as follows : ' Wash thine 
heart from wickedness that thou mayest be saved ' 
(Jer. 4.) ; but the same prophet tells her, ' Though thou 
dost wash thee with nitre and take much soap, yet thine 
iniquity is marked before Me, saith the Lord' (Jer. 2.). 
Again, in Psalms (145.) it is declared ' The Lord is nigh 
unto all that call upon Him ' ; whilst in another Psalm 
(10.) the complaint is uttered * Why standest Thou afar 
off, Lord ? ' Isaiah's advice is (55.) ' Seek 3^e the Lord 
while He may be found ' ; but Ezekiel is charged with the 
message (20.) 'As I live, saith the Lord, I will not be 
inquired of by you.' Malachi brings the tidings (3.) 
' Return unto Me and I will return unto you saith the 
Lord of hosts ' ; but Jeremiah says (8.) ' Therefore shall 
they fall, they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.' 

By the adoption of our interpretation these passages 
no longer contradict each other. — Mid. Samuel 7. 

The following are dignified with the name ' Precious ' : 
Torah, prophecy, understanding, knowledge, simplicity, 
the righteous, the death of the righteous, kindness, 
riches, and Israel. — Mid. Samuel 8. 

He that slights his parents may be compared to a 
knife which one acquires for the purpose of cutting 
food, but which fails to do this and cuts the owner's 
hand. — or to a light which one carries in order to help 
him in the darkness, instead of which it burns his 
clothes. — Mid. Samuel 7. 



2l8 THE MIDRASH 

Let no man boast of his exalted position. Even so 
great a man as Samuel received a rebuke for his want oi 
modesty. His answer to Saul's inquiry was, ' I am 
the seer ' (i Saml. 9.), and when he was sent to anoint 
one of Jesse's sons and saw Ehab, who was a fine youth, 
he decided to anoint him. Then he receives the rebuke 
for having said * I am the seer,' when God told him that 
man seeth with his eyes, but the Lord seeth into the 
heart, which means — Thus much for thy seeing ; thou 
hast seen Eliab's exterior, not his heart. — Mid. Samuel 
12. 

Immediately a man is born he proceeds into death ; 
when he dies he proceeds into life. — Mid. Samuel 23. 

Well has King Solomon said, A good name is better 
than good oil. Good oil is poured downwards, a good 
name tends upwards. Oil, however good, gets ex- 
hausted ; not so a good name. Good oil can only be 
possessed by the rich ; the poor as well as the rich can 
rejoice in a good name. Good oil we can only put from 
one vessel into another ; whilst a good name circulates 
everywhere. The best oil if put on a dead body becomes 
offensive ; the good name of a dead man is a glory to his 
memory. Oil put on the fire will burn ; a good name 
stands proof against fire. — Mid. Samuel 23. 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH OR 
YELAMDINU 

Thl 1 uiali is full of holy tire ; it was written with a I)lack 
hit' upon a white hre. — Tanchum. Bereshith. 

The Torah has meekness as its footgear, and the fear 
of God ;ls its crown. Hence Moses was the piroper person 
through whose hands it should be deliv^ered ; he was 
meek, and with the fear of the Lord he was crowned. — 
Tanchum. Bereshith. 

You cannot expect to occupy yourself with the study 
of the Torah in the future world and receive the reward 
for so doing in this world ; you are meant to make the 
Torah your own in this life, antl to look for reward in the 
life to come. — Tanchum. Bereshith. 

Cain's offering consisted of the seed of flax, and that of 
Abel of the fatlings of his sheep. This is probably the 
reason why the wearing of a garment of various materials, 
as of woollen and linen together, was prohibited. — 
Tanchum. Bereshith. 

As one who finishes the building of his house proclaims 
that day a holiday, and consecrates the building, so God, 
having finished creation in the six days, proclaimed the 
seventh day a holy day and sanctified it. — Tanchum. 
Bereshith. 

If the fraudulent man and the usurer offer to make 
restitution, it is not permitted to accept it from them. 
— Tanchum. Bereshith. 

The Bible or written law contains unexplained pas- 
sages and hidden sentences, which cannot be fully 

218 



220 THE MIDRASH 

understood without the help of the oral law. Further, 
the written law contains generalities, whilst the oral law 
goes in for explanations in detail, and is consequently 
much larger in volume. Indeed as a figure of speech we 
could apply to it the words in Job (4. 9), 'The measure 
thereof is longer than the earth and broader than the 
sea.' The knowledge of this oral law cannot be ex- 
pected to be found amongst those who are bent on 
enjoying earthly life and worldly pleasures ; its acquisi- 
tion requires the relinquishment of all worldliness, riches 
and pleasures, and requires intellect aided by constant 
study. — ^Tanchum. Bereshith. 

There is no evil that has no remedy, and the remedy 
for sin is repentance. — Tanchum, Bereshith. 

Whatever hardships may be imposed upon Jews by 
the powers that be, they must not rebel against the 
authorities who impose them, but are to render com- 
pliance, except when ordered to disregard the Torah 
and its injunctions ; for that would be tantamount to 
giving up their God. — ^Tanchum. Bereshith. 

He that stole an ox had to restore fivefold, and he that 
stole a sheep had to give back only fourfold, because by 
stealing the ox he may have prevented the owner from 
ploughing or doing other agricultural work for the time 
being. — Tanchum. Bereshith. 

There is a wall of separation erected between the 
Shechinah and the following three classes, a wall that 
can never be razed : The cheat, the robber, and the 
idle worshipper. — Tanchum. Bereshith. 

The meaning of the phrase ' God made man in his own 
image ' is that, like his Maker, man is to be righteous and 
upright. Do not argue that the y-\r\ 1^\ the evil in- 
clination, is innate in you ; such argument is fallacious ; 
when you are a child you commit no sin ; it is when you 
grow out of infancy that your evil inclination becomes 
developed. You have the power of resisting the evil 
inclination if you feel so inclined, even as you are able to 



MIDRASH lANCHUMAII OR YELAMDINU 221 

convert the bitter elements of certain foods into very 
palatable eatables. — Tanchum. Bereshith. 

Hadrian, King of (Edom) Rome, having made great 
conquests, requested his court in Rome to proclaim him 
God. In answer to this modest request, one of his minis- 
ters said, ' If your majesty desires to become God, it will 
be necessary to quit God's property first, to show your 
independence of Him. He created heaven and earth ; 
get out of these and you can proclaim yourself God.' 
Another counsellor replied by asking Hadrian to help 
him out of a sad position in which he was placed. ' I 
have sent a ship to sea,' he said, ' with all my possessions 
on board of her, and she is but a short distance, about 
three miles from shore, but is struggling against 
the watery elements, which threaten her total destruc- 
tion.' ' Do not trouble,' replied the king, ' I will send 
some of my ships well manned, and your craft shall be 
brought to the haven where she would be.' ' There is no 
need for all that,' said the counsellor satirically; 'order 
but a little favourable wind, and her own crew will 
manage to bring her safely into port.' ' And where 
shall I order the wind from ? How have I the power to 
order the wind ? ' answered Hadrian angrily. ' Has your 
majesty not even a little wind at your command ? ' said 
the king's adviser mockingly, ' and yet you wish to be 
proclaimed God ! ' 

Hadrian then retired to his own rooms angry and dis- 
appointed, and when he told his wife of the controversy 
he had had with his ministers she remarked that his 
advisers did not strike on the proper thing which would 
bring his wish to a hajipy consummation. ' It seems to 
me,' she said mockingly, ' that the first thing you must do 
is to give God back what He has given you and be under 
no obligation to Him.' 'And what may that be? ' inquired 
the heathen. ' The soul, of course,' answered his wife. 
' But,' argued the king, ' if I give l\ack my soul, I shall 
not live.' ' Then,' said his wife triumphantly, ' that 



222 THE MIDRASH 

shows that you are but mortal, and cannot be God.' — 
Tanchum. Bereshith. 

The slanderer seems to deny the existence of God. 
As King David has it, ' They say, our lips are with us, 
who is Lord over us ? ' (Ps. 12.) — Tanchum. Bereshith. 

Let us not lose sight of the lesson that it is meant to 
convey to us by the expression, ' And the Lord came 
down to see ' (Gen. 11.), namely that we are not to judge 
merely by ' hearsay ' and to assert anything as having 
taken place unless we saw it. — ^Tanchum. Bereshith. 

Elijah quickened the dead, caused rain to descend, 
prevented rain from coming down, and brought lire 
down from heaven ; but he did not say ' I am God.' — 
Tanchum. Bereshith. 

When Noah set out to plant the vine, Satan encount- 
ered him and asked upon what errand he was bent. ' I 
am going to plant the vine,' said Noah. ' I will gladly 
assist you in this good work,' said Satan. When the 
offer of help was accepted Satan brought a sheep and 
slaughtered it on the plant, then a lion, then a pig, and 
finally a monkey. He thus explained these symbols to 
Noah. When a man tastes the first few drops of wine 
he will be as harmless as a sheep ; when he tastes a little 
more he will become possessed of the courage of a 
lion and think himself as strong ; should he further 
indulge in the liquid produced by your plant he will 
become as objectionable as a pig ; and by yet further 
indulgence in it he will become like a monkey. — Tan- 
chum. Noah. 

Because the Torah mulcts the thief in double, and in 
some cases more than double, the value of what he has 
stolen, one is not to conclude that he is allowed to steal 
when in want, with the intention of paying back double 
and more than double the value. — Tanchum. Noah. 

The promise to Abraham that he should become a 
great nation was fulfilled when the Israelites became the 
recipients of God's laws. Moses, on account of their 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAII OR YELAMDINU 223 

being the possessors of the Torah, styles them ' a great 
nation ' (Deut. 4.). — Tancluim. Lech Lecho. 

Blessings proceed from Zion (Ps. 134.), the dew is 
blessed from Zion (Ps. 133.), so does help come from Zion 
(Ps. 20.), and salvation (Ps. 14.). The future blessings 
of Israel will proceed from Zion (Ps. 133.), and Zion 
itself will receive God's blessings. — Tanchum. Lech 
Lecho. 

The comparison in Ix^auty of any woman to Sarah is 
like comparing monkeys with men. — Tanchum. Lech 
Lecho. 

' This shall not be thine heir, but he that cometh forth 
out of thy loins shall be thine heir '(Gen. 15. 4). There is a 
story of a man blessed with learning, wisdom, and riches, 
who had an only son, to whom he naturally gave the best 
education, and whom he sent to Jerusalem for the pur- 
pose of completing his education. He had all arrange- 
ments made for his bodily comforts, and took every care 
that the young man. who was very promising and on 
whom he doted, should want for nothing. Shortly 
after his son's departure, he took to his bed, from which 
he rose not again. 

His death caused immense regret in the place of his 
residence, for in him the poor had lost a real support, 
and many a man a wise counsellor and adviser. It 
was felt that the town in general had lost one whom it 
would be difficult to replace. 

The funeral and the days of mourning over, a friend 
who was known to be the executor of the dead man's last 
will, and who had duly informed the son by letter of 
the sad death of his father, proceeded to break the seal 
of the will and see its contents. To his great astonish- 
ment, and no less to the astonishment of every one who 
learnt the nature of its contents, the whole of the dead 
man's property, personal and othcnvisc. moveable and 
immoveable, after leaving considerable amounts to 
various charities, was left to his negro slave ; there was 



224 THE MIDRASH 

but a saving clause that his beloved son should have the 
privilege of choosing one thing, but one only, out of the 
whole estate. 

The son, though duly informed of the details of this 
strange will, was so immersed in grief at the loss of his 
father that his mind could not be diverted to anything 
else ; and it was only when his teacher alluded to his 
father's death and the inheritance which he might 
expect, and advised him to use it for the same laudable 
purposes, that the young man informed his beloved 
master that by his father's will he had been reduced to 
a beggar. Meanwhile the negro slave of the departed 
man, having gone through all the formalities and proved 
his title, lost no time in taking possession of his dead 
master's property. He was ready and willing enough to 
grant the son one thing out of his late father's goods, 
whenever he should come and claim the object of his 
choice. The acute rabbi, on reading the will, saw at 
once the drift of the testator's intention, and told his 
pupil that he should proceed to his native town and 
take possession of his property. ' But I have no pro- 
perty to take possession of,' pleaded the young man, 
* except one article of my late father's goods.' ' Well 
then,' replied the teacher, unable to conceal a smile, 
' choose your late father's negro slave out of his estate, 
and with him will go over to you all he possesses, since a 
slave can own nothing, and all he has belongs to his 
master. That indeed was your father's clever device. 
He knew that if the will were to state that all was left to 
you, the negro, being by the force of circumstances in 
charge of everything that was left, would probably in 
your absence take for himself and his friends all the 
valuables on which he could lay his hands ; whereas if 
he knew or thought all belonged to him, he would take 
care of everything that was left. Your wise father 
knew that the one thing he gave you the power to choose 
would be no other than his slave, and with him you 



MIDRASH TANCIIUMAH OR VEI.AMDINU 225 

would become the just and rightful owner of everything.' 
— Tanchum. Lech Lecho. 

You cannot be too careful about prayer, and you 
should never omit to pray. Prayer eclipses all other 
services, and towers above sacrifices ; and the sinful man 
may receive God's grace through prayer. — Tanchum. 
Vaayro. 

As one is prohibited from reciting any portion of the 
Torah by heart, but must read it out of the written 
scroll, so is he who expounds any portion thereof not 
allowed to read his exposition from anything wTitten, 
but must deliver it by word of mouth. — Tanchum. 
Vaayro. 

When God's creatures incur punishment, the Merciful 
One looks for one to plead for the guilty people, to ojicn a 
way, as it were, as was the case in the time of Jeremiah. 
(See Jer. 5.) — Tanchum. Vaayro. 

The proverb says, ' If you rub shoulders with the 
anointed you will become anointed.' Lot, being asso- 
ciated with Abraham, became hospitable ; whilst his 
character does not indicate inclination to hospitality on 
his own part. — Tanchum. Vaayro. 

You must not in any way mislead your fellow-man, 
not even to the extent of asking the price of anything he 
may have for disposal, so as to make him believe that you 
are a likely purchaser, whilst you have no intention of 
jmrchasing the article. — Tanchum. Vaayro. 

The righteous are put to more and severer trials than 
the unrighteous. So the owner of flax will beat out the 
good flax often and severely, so as to make it purer, but 
does not treat the inferior article in the same way, lest it 
fall away into small pieces. — Tanchum. Vaayro. 

The following tend to make a man prematurely old : 
Fear, war, trouble from his children, or a shrew of a wife. 
— Tanchum. Chaya Sarah. 

As there is a regularity in the position of the sun daily 
tliree times : in the morning he is in the east, at noon 

Q 



226 THE MIDRASH 

between east and west, and in the evening in the west, 
so must there be an inflexible regularity with every Jew 
in reciting his prayers three times daily, morning, after- 
noon, and evening. — ^Tanchum. Chaya Sarah. 

A widower with unmarried sons is advised to see his 
sons married before he marries again. — ^Tanchum. 
Chaya Sarah. 

Adrianus (Hadrian), discussing with Rabbi Joshua the 
innumerable adversaries that the Israelites had to 
encounter, said ' Great is the sheep that can withstand 
seventy wolves.' Rabbi Joshua replied, ' Greatest is 
the shepherd who enables the sheep to outlive the con- 
stant attacks of the wolves.' — Tanchum. Toldous. 

There is merit and even dignity in handicraft. — ^Tan- 
chum. Vayaitza. 

Do not say, I need not work for my living, but cast 
my hope on God who supports all living creatures. You 
must work for a livelihood and look up to God to bless 
the work of your hands. Jacob, in alluding to the 
delivery from Laban's house, says, ' God hath seen the 
labour of my hands ' (Gen. 31.). — ^Tanchum. Vayaitza. 

A homely domesticated wife is like the altar in the 
Temple ; and she is even an atonement as the altar 
was. — Tanchum. Vayishlach. 

Isaiah committed sin by saying, ' In the midst of a 
people of unclean lips do I dwell ' (Isa. 6.). For this, the 
slander which is compared to fire, he was punished with 
fire, with the live coal taken from the altar (Isa. 6.). — 
Tanchum. Vayishlach. 

However adverse one's opinion may be of any one 
placed in a high position, he is bound to pay him the 
respect due to his position. Rabbi Judah Hannasi, when 
writing to Antoninus, invariably used the phrase, 'Judah, 
thy servant, sends greeting.' — Tanchum. Vayishlach. 

A modest woman is worthy of being the wife of a 
high priest, for she is like an altar in her home. — ^Tan- 
chum. Vayishlach. 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH OR YELAMDINU 227 

God wishes man to ask forgiveness, and not to see him 
in his guilt. — Tanchum. Vayishlach. 

So exceedingly handsome was Joseph that when the 
friends of Potiphar's wife visited her, and the hostess 
proffered them fruit, the Egyptian women cut their 
fingers instead of the fruit, as they could not take their 
eyes off the wonderfully handsome Hebrew slave ; and 
they sympathized with their friend when he scorned her 
advances. — Tanchum. Vayaishev. 

Give me the admonition of the old in preference to the 
flattery of the young. — Tanchum. Vayaishev. 

When Moses said to the people ' After the Lord your 
God shall ye walk ' (Deut. 13), they took alarm at the 
formidable, or rather impossible, task imposed upon 
them. ' How,' said they, ' is it possible for man to 
walk after God, who hath his way in the storm and in 
the whirlwind, and the clouds are the dust of his feet ' 
(Nahum i.), 'whose way is in the sea and his path in the 
great waters ' ? (Ps. 77.). Moses explained to them that to 
walk after God meant to imitate humbly his attributes 
of mercy and compassion by clothing the naked, visiting 
the sick, and comforting the mourner. — Tanchum. 
Vayaishev, 

A fatality seems to have been attached toShechem in 
connexion with Israel's sorrows. The capture of Dinah 
took place at Shechem. Joseph was sold there into 
slavery. David's kingdom was split in Shechem ; and 
the advent of Jerolxjam also took place in Shechem. — 
Tanchum. Vayaishev. 

C) woman, what mischief thou causest ! Even the 
worshipping of idols did not cause such trouble and loss 
of life as a woman caused. The making and worshipping 
of the golden calf caused the loss of three thousand 
men (Exod. 32.) ; but through a woman at Sliittim 
twenty-four thousand were the victims. — Tanchum. 
Vayaishev. 

Good men lift up their eyes and look one straight in the 



228 THE MIDRASH 

face ; bad, wicked men drop their eyes. — Tanchum. 
Vayaishev. 

' Should not a man pray every hour ? ' asked Anto- 
ninus of his friend Rabbi Judah Hannasi. He demurred 
on receiving a reply in the negative. After a while the 
Rabbi called on Antoninus, and was as careful as always 
to address him with considerable deference. 

After about an hour he came again, and addressed him 
again carefully with all the titles he was wont to use, and 
so the Rabbi repeated his visits and expressions of 
homage about every hour during the day. When, at 
last, Antoninus told his friend that he felt himself 
slighted instead of honoured by the frequency of the 
visits, and the expressions of homage with which Rabbi 
Judah meant to honour him, ' Therein,' the sage said. 
' lies my reason for telling you that man was not to 
address the throne of mercy every hour as you con- 
tended, since such frequency savours of contempt.' — 
Tanchum. Miketz. 

There is a most remarkable identity between the 
occurrences in the life of Joseph and those in the history 
of Zion and Jerusalem, and a remarkable similarity in 
the phrases employed in describing the respective 
events of each, whether in their adversity or in 
their prosperity. We read : ' Israel loved Joseph ' 
(Gen. 37.), ' The Lord loveth the gates of Zion ' (Ps. 8y.). 
Joseph's brethren hated him ; ' My heritage is unto Me 
as a lion in the forest, it crieth out against Me, therefore 
I hate it ' (Jer. 12.). Joseph speaks of making sheaves ; 
there are sheaves in connexion with Zion (Ps. 126.). 
Joseph dreamed ; ' When the Lord turned again the 
captivity of Zion we were like them that dream ' 
(Ps. 126.). Joseph was asked, ' Wilt thou rule over us ? ' 
' Say unto Zion thy God ruleth' (Isa.52.). Joseph was 
asked whether his father and brothers would prostrate 
themselves before him. ' They shall bow down to thee 
with their face towards the earth ' (Isa. 49.). Joseph's 



MIDRASH TANCHUMATI OR YELAMDINU 229 

brethren were jealous ; ' Thus said the Lord of Hosts, I 
was jealous for Zion with great jealousy' (Zcch. 8.). 
Josej)h went to inquire about the peace of his brothers ; 
Zion was to seek the peace of the city where she is cap- 
tive (Jer. 29.). Joseph's brethren saw him from the 
distance ; the same is said about Zion (Ezkl. 23.). 
Joseph's brothers contemplated his destruction ; so the 
nations contcnij)lated the destruct ionof Zion (Ps. 83.). 
Joseph was stripped of his coat of many colours ; con- 
cerning Zion, the prophet says, ' They shall strip thee of 
thy clothes ' (Ezkl. 16.). Joseph was put into a pit ; 
' They have put me alivt- into the dungeon' (Lament. 3.). 
The pit into which Joseph was put contained no water. 
In connexion with Zion, Jeremiah was put into a pit 
where there was no water (Jer. 38.). Joseph's brothers 
sat down to their meal ; ' We have given the hand to 
Egyptians and to Assyrians to be satisfied with bread ' 
(Lament. 5.). Joseph was pulled up from the pit; 
Jeremiah, who in connexion with his prophecy about 
Zion was put into a dungeon — as stated above — was 
drawn up from the dungeon (Jer. 38.). Lamentations 
were raised alx)ut Joseph ; ' And in that day did the 
Lord call for weeping and mourning ' (Isa. 22.). In the 
case of Joseph consolation was rejected. ' Labour not 
to comfort me ' (Isa. 22.). Joseph was sold ; ' the child- 
ren of Judali and of Jerusalem have you sold unto 
the Grecians ' (Joel 4.). Joseph is described as handsome ; 
' Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is 
mount Zion' (Ps. 48.). Joseph was the greatest in his 
master's house ; ' the glory of the latter house shall be 
greater than the former' (Hag. 2.). The Lord was with 
Joseph ; ' Now mine eyes shall be open and mine ears 
attcnt unto the prayers that are made in this place ' 
(2 Chron. 7.). Grace and lovingkindness were shown to 
Joseph ; concerning Zion God says, ' I remember the 
kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals ' 
(Jer. 2.). Joseph was rendered presentable by changing 



230 THE MIDRASH 

his clothes, etc. ; ' When the Lord shall have washed 
away the filth of the daughters of Zion ' (Isa. 4.). The 
throne of Pharaoh was above Joseph ; ' At that time 
they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord ' 
(Jsr- 3-)- Joseph was clothed in grand garments ; 
' Awake, awake, put on thy strength, O Zion, put on thy 
beautiful garments ' (Isa. 52.). Joseph was met by an 
angel ; ' Behold I will send my messenger, and he shall 
prepare the way (Mai. 3.). The name of Joseph and 
the name Zion are the same in numerical value {^DV 156, 
]V2i 156). — Tanchum. Vayigash. 

There is a tendency with every man to become humble 
when near his death. — Tanchum. Vaychee. 

It matters not where the body is buried, the spirit 
goes whither it is destined. — Tanchum. Vaychee. 

Jacob's objection to being buried in Egypt was due to 
the fact that the Egyptians practised witchcraft by means 
of dead bodies, and he would not have his body utilized 
for such abominable practices. — Tanchum. Vaychee. 

There is no death to the righteous. — ^Tanchum. 
Vaychee. 

The righteous bless their offspring before they depart 
hence. — Tanchum. Vaychee. 

David was descended from Judah. — Tanchum. Vay- 
chee. 

' Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren 
to dwell together ' — or in unity — (Ps. 133.). ' that thou 
wert as my brother' (Songs 8.). There are brothers and 
brothers. Cain and Abel were brothers, but the former 
slew the latter. Ishmael and Isaac were brothers, but 
there was no love lost between them. Jacob and Esau 
had no brotherly love for one another, nor did Joseph 
and his brothers show much love between them. David 
and Solomon had in their minds Moses and Aaron as 
typical brothers. One of the reasons why Moses so per- 
sistently hesitated to be the messenger to Pharaoh was 
his consideration for his brother Aaron, who was older 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAII OR YELAMDINU 23I 

and more eloquent than he, so that he hesitated to 
usurp what he considered should be Aaron's function. 
God, who knows the innermost thoughts of man, knew 
the real motive of Moses' refusal to accept the mission. 
Therefore we find God telling Moses, ' Behold Aaron the 
Levitc, thy brother, I know that he can speak well, and 
also behold he comcth forth to meet thee, and when 
he seeth thee he will be glad in his heart ' (Exod. 4.), 
And as Aaron's delight at his younger brother's elevation 
was so great — for the phrase ' glad in his heart ' conveys 
his great delight — he was rewarded in that the Urim 
and Thummim were on his heart (Exod. 28.). When 
Aaron met his brother in the mount of God he kissed 
him (Exod. 4.). — Tanchum. Shemous. 

The staff of Moses had the initials of the names of the 
ten plagues written on it, in order that Moses should 
know in which order they were consecutively to be 
brought on Pharaoh and the Egyptians. These initials 
were formed into three words, 2ni<3, ^ly, 1!»1. — Tan- 
chum. Voairo. 

When we are told that Pharaoh took six hundred 
chosen cliariots with which to pursue the Israelites, we 
are naturally met with the question whence he got those 
six hundred chosen chariots. He could not have ob- 
tained them from his people the Egy^^tians, for we find 
that 'all the cattle of the Egyptians died' (Exod. 9).. 
They could not have l)een his own, for his own cattle also 
perished (Exod. 9.). Nor did the Israelites supply them, 
since they left with all their cattle, there Wcis not a hoof 
to be left. 

The explanation is found in the fact that those who 
feared the word of the Lord among the servants of 
Pharaoh made their cattle flee into the house when the 
hail was predicted (Exod. 9.), and these ' fearers of the 
word of tile Lord ' among the Egyi">tians supplied 
Pharaoh with their animals for the j>urpose of pursuing 
the Israelites. Bv the character of those among the 



232 THE MIDRASH 

Egyptians who ' feared the word of the Lord ' that of 
the nation can be judged. — ^Tanchum. Beshallach. 

' Fear not thou, worm Jacob,' says the prophet 
(Isa. 41.). Why was Israel compared to a worm ? As the 
insignificant worm is able to destroy a big cedar with no 
other weapon than its small weak mouth, even so is Israel 
able to prevail against his great persecutors with no other 
weapon but the prayers emanating from troubled hearts 
and uttered with the mouth. — ^Tanchum. Beshallach. 

How great is faith ! It secures happiness and salva- 
tion. Abraham's faith was accounted to him as 
righteousness. It was the faith which the Israelites had 
that redeemed them from Egypt (Exod. 4. 31). Their 
faith on the bank of the Red Sea carried them over 
that sea and brought them to the land of promise. The 
Lord keepeth the faithful (Ps. 31.). The righteous liveth 
by his faith (Habak. 2.). The last redemption of Israel 
will only be effected through faith. See how King David 
values faith (Ps. 105.). Concerning faith, David says, 
' This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter 
therein.' — Tanchum. Beshallach. 

The lifting up of Moses' hands did not defeat Amalek, 
nor did the copper serpent stay the biting of the burning 
serpents. It was the directing by these of the hearts of 
the Israelites, with their prayers heavenwards, that 
defeated Amalek and caused the fiery serpents to cease. 
— Tanchum. Beshallach. 

If you have acquired knowledge, do not simul- 
taneously acquire a haughty spirit on account of your 
knowledge; and if you intend to expound God's word, 
recite to yourself twice or thrice what you intend saying. 
Even so great a man as Rabbi Akiba, when once called 
upon in the assembly to get up and preach, declined 
to do so, on the ground that he never preached unless 
he rehearsed his intended speech twice or thrice to him- 
self. — Tanchum Jethro. 

Whilst man is not to seek public notoriety and dis- 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH OR YELAMDINU 233 

tinction, he is not to err on the side of modesty and 
seclusion, and refuse to give his services in communal 
matters. Rabbi Asy when approaching death was 
visited by his nephew, who found the patient very 
depressed. ' Death,' said his nephew, ' should not in 
your case be attended with feelings of alarm. Think 
what you leave l^ehind you, the learning you have 
acquired and imparted to an army of students, the 
charity you have practised, and the kindly acts you 
have done ; is there any good that it was in your power 
to do that you have left undone ? And you have been 
so modest withal ; you have always eschewed putting 
yourself forward or seeking notoriety, and have not 
mixed in disputes and in communal matters.' 

' This,' replied the good man, ' even if all the good 
you said about me were quite correct, this alone would 
\)C sufficient cause for my depression, for I might per- 
haps have been able to render some service, had I not 
kept to myself but taken upon me the burden of com- 
munal affairs.' — Tanchum. Jethro. 

With idol worshipiK'rs it is the habit to treat their 
gods according to the circumstances in which they find 
themselves, which they attribute to the actions of 
their gods. If their condition is favourable, they pay 
tribute to their god. ' Therefore they sacrifice unto 
their net, and burn incense unto their drag, because by 
them their portion is fat and their meat plenteous,' says 
the prophet (Habak. i.). If, on the other hand, adversi- 
ties overtake them, they vent their anger on their gods. 
' And it shall come to pass,' the prophet tells us, ' that 
when they shall be hungry they shall fret themselves 
and curse their king and their god' (Isa.8.). Not so shall 
you do, my people, whose destiny is shaped out by 
the Creator of heaven and earth. Whatever Ix^falls 
you, give thanks and praises unto your God. Are you 
in j^rosperity ? do not forget the (iiver, do not say in 
your heart, ' My power and the might of mine hand hath 



234 THE MIDRASH 

gotten me this wealth,' but hke David say, ' I will lift 
up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of my 
God.' If adversity overtakes you, if sorrow and trouble 
overtake you in the midst of the smooth current of your 
affairs, take up David's words again and say, ' I found 
trouble and sorrow, then I called upon the name of my 
God.' — ^Tanchum. Jethro. 

The altar of God was to prolong man's life, and iron is 
a metal which can destroy man's life ; therefore it was 
forbidden to use iron in the erection of the altar. — Tan- 
chum. Jethro. 

Shght no man. Every man was created in God's 
image. — Tanchum. Jethro. 

Onkeles, the nephew of Hadrian — his sister's son — 
being anxious to embrace Judaism, yet being afraid of 
his uncle, told him that he wished to embark on a certain 
enterprise. When Hadrian offered him some money he 
refused to accept it, but said he wanted his uncle's 
advice, as he was inexperienced in the ways of the world. 
' Purchase goods,' replied his uncle, ' which do not, at 
present, command a high price, and are not favourites 
in the market, but for which there is reason to believe 
a demand at higher prices will eventually arise.' 
Onkeles betook himself to Palestine, and gave himself 
up to study. After a time Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi 
Joshua recognized in him the face of a student ; they 
took him in hand, solved all the difficult problems he 
put before them, and generally befriended him. On his 
return home he again visited his uncle Hadrian, who, 
noticing that his nephew did not look as well as was his 
wont, inquired whether he had met with any monetary 
reverses in his new enterprise, or had been injured in 
any way. ' I have met with no monetary losses,' said 
Onkeles, ' and as your nephew I am not likely to be hurt 
by any one.' Being further pressed for the reason of 
his poor looks, Onkeles told his uncle they were due to 
his excessive studies and to the fact that he had under- 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH OR VFXAMDINU 235 

gone circumcision. ' And who told you to do such a 
thing as to undergo circumcision ? ' demanded Hadrian. 
' I acted on your advice,' replied Onkeles. ' I have 
acquired a thing that stands at a low jnice just now, but 
will eventually rise in value. I found no nation in such 
low esteem and so sure to rise in value as Israel. For 
thus said the Lord, tlic Redeemer of Israel and his Holy 
One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the 
nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers, kings shall see 
and arise and princes also shall worship, because of the 
Lord that is faithful and the Holy One of Israel, He shall 
choose them ' (Isa. 49.). One of Hadrian's counsellors 
advised his master to visit his nephew's misdeed with 
death, for which advice the adviser received such a sharp 
rebuke from Hadrian that he committed suicide. 
Hadrian, after the death of his minister, further discussed 
with his nephew the matter of his conversion, and again 
asked for the reason of circumcision, Onkeles asked 
his uncle whether he had ever bestowed any distinction 
on any of his army who were not willing and ready to 
fight for his majesty and for the country at the risk of 
hfe. ' Neither could I be received into the fold of those 
to whom God has given his behests and statutes without 
having the seal of those great statutes put on me even at 
the risk of my life.' — Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

Whilst the Torah teaches peace and goodwill to one's 
fellow-man, it likewise teaches the necessity of standing 
up against evil deeds and even rebuking the evil-doer. 
Moreover, though all reverence and deference are due to 
one's teacher, yet in the matter of censurable conduct it 
becomes the pupil's duty to protest against it. Bad con- 
duct is contaminating. One is apt to fall into the same 
error if one sees any evil act and docs not lift up one's 
voice to protest against it. — Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

He who rebukes his fellow-man with a sincere desire 
to make him hetti-r comes within the inner walls of the 
heavenly pavilion. — Tanchum. Mishpotim. 



236 THE MIDRASH 

You are not permitted to select injunctions of the 
Torah which you consent to observe, and reject others 
for the observance of which you can find no reason. In 
accepting God's word one is bound to impHcit obedience 
to it. — Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

The rich should ever bear in mind that his wealth may 
merely have been deposited with him to be a steward 
over it, or to test what use he will make of his possessions. 
Not less should the poor remember that his trials may 
have been sent as a test of his fortitude. — Tanchum. 
Mishpotim. 

Poverty outweighs all other sorrows. — Tanchum. 
Mishpotim. 

' If you have taken a pledge from the poor,' says God 
to the rich, ' do not say he is your debtor and you are 
therefore justified in retaining his garment. Remember 
you are my debtor, your life is in my hand. I return 
you all your senses and all your faculties after your sleep 
every day.' — ^Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

Jewish litigants are to bring their disputes for adjust- 
ment before a Jewish court, and not to have recourse to 
outside tribunals. — Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

Although witnesses have always to give their evidence 
standing, yet an exception may be made in the case of a 
distinguished (learned) man, who may be allowed to sit 
whilst giving evidence. Should he consider it beneath 
his dignity to give evidence at all, he may be exempted. 
This only applies to any suit regarding money matters 
(civil cases), but in criminal matters he is not to be 
exempted. — ^Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

God's works accommodate one another without asking 
any interest. The day accommodates the night, and 
the night the day (according to season). The moon 
borrows from the stars, and the stars from the moon. 
The higher wisdom borrows from the simple or com- 
mon sense ; kindness borrows from charity, the heavens 
from the earth, and the earth from the heavens. The 



MIDRASH TANXHUMAH OR YELAMDINU 237 

Torah borrows from righteousness, and righteousness 
from the Torah ; all without charging any interest. Is 
man. and man only, not to extend a helping hand to his 
fellow-man without exacting usury for a kind act ? — 
Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

Regarding the giving of alms, judgment and discre- 
tion should \ye exercised. Obviously, poor relatives 
have a prior claim to any other, and the poor of your 
town claim priority over those of another town. — Tan- 
chum. Mishpotim. 

' He who hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord,' 
says Solomon (Prov. 19.). It is surely good enough for 
you, O man, to be God's creditor. Not that He will 
return to you exactly the coin you give to the poor ; He 
will look even farther into your deed. The poor man 
was perhaps famishing, and your timely help may have 
rescued him from an untimely death ; God, whose 
creditor you have become when you helped the helpless, 
will rescue you and yours from danger when it is near. — 
Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

He who by usury and ill-gotten gain increaseth his 
substance, it shall be taken from him by him who pities 
the poor (Prov. 28.). When a non-Jew wants to borrow 
of you, you will perhaps say that since you are not per- 
mitted to take usury from your own compatriot you 
may take it from a non-Jew. Be assured that such ill- 
gotten gain will be taken from you ; probably by the 
autliorities, to erect baths or other sanitary buildings ' for 
thf j)oor or the strangn-. — Tanchum. Mishpotim. 

Why, asked Turnus Rufus, a heathen king, of Rabbi 
Akiba, have we incurred the hatred of your (iod so that 
He says, ' I hate Esau ' ? (Mai. 3.). The Rabbi said he 

' It is said in the Taltnud. Haba Mczia y^K that ("hebore. 
King of Persia, laiil liis Jewish subjects under special tribute, 
and with the money thus raiseil he built dwellings and other 
accommodations for the ptwr. Hence the expression of the 
Midrash. 'it will be taken from you, probably, by the authorities, 
to erect baths or other sanitary buildings.* 



238 THE MIDRASH 

would reply to the question the next day. On his 
making his appearance the following day, the king, 
thinking that Rabbi Akiba had postponed the answer 
the day before in order to invent meanwhile some lame 
explanation, said to the sage satirically, ' Well, Akiba, 
what have you dreamt during the night ? ' Rabbi 
Akiba, taking the very question as the text for his reply, 
said, ' I dreamed I became possessed of two dogs which I 
named Rufus and Rufina * (the names of the questioner 
and his wife). 

The king, in a great fury, asked Rabbi Akiba how he 
dared offer him and his queen so gross an insult as to 
name his dogs by their names. ' Wherefore this indig- 
nation ? ' returned R. Akiba calmly ; ' you and yours are 
God's creatures, so are dogs God's creatures ; you eat 
and drink, produce your species, live, decay and die ; 
all this is also the case with dogs. Yet what umbrage 
you take because they bear the same name as you ! 
Consider then that God stretched forth the heavens 
and laid the foundations of the earth, is the Creator, 
Governor and Ruler of all animate and inanimate things ; 
yet you make an idol of wood and stone, worship it and 
call it by the name of God. Should you not then incur 
his hatred ? ' — ^Tanchum. Troomah. 

A distinguished scholar was on a voyage at sea, and on 
board the same ship were some merchants with their 
goods. In the course of conversation they asked the 
scholar what was the nature of his goods. ' My goods,' 
he replied, ' are invaluable.' Knowing, however, that 
there was no cargo of his on board the ship, they ridiculed 
his assertion. After sailing some distance from shore 
the ship was overtaken by pirates, who robbed the ship 
of its cargo and took the very clothes the passengers were 
wearing so far as they were of any value. Passen- 
gers and crew were only too thankful to escape with 
their lives and to clothe themselves with the rags which 
the pirates rejected. The scholar, as he did not wear 



MIDRASII TANCIIUMAII OR YICLAMDINU 239 

any valuable clothes, was spared by the pirates as not 
being worth robbing, and landed at a small town, together 
with his fellow-passengers, who made a sorry sight in 
the lags that served them as clothes. The learned man, 
whose reputation had gone before him, was asked and 
consented to deliver lectures on various scientific sub- 
jects, which he handled in a niiisterly fashion. The 
lectures excited great interest, and attracted large 
audiences from all the neighbouring towns, with the 
result that the man not only found his lectures remunera- 
tive from a pecuniary point of view, but soon won the 
friendship of the leading men of the place, where he 
settled down and became an influential member of the 
community. Fate did not smile quite .so kindly on his 
former fellow-pa-ssengcrs, who, having unfortunately lost 
all their possessions, having no trade or profession, and 
being clothed in rags, found it impossil^le to get employ- 
ment. Seeing the great position the professor held in 
the town, they called upon him and solicited the favour 
of his intluence on their behalf. This he unhesitatingly 
and ungrudgingly gave them ; he procured employment 
for them, and reminded them how perfectly justified 
he was in styling his goods invaluable. — Tanchum. 
Troomah. 

On several occasions the Israelites were numbered, 
a census taken. For as the owner of a flock of sheep is 
an.xious to know how many he possesses, when anything 
untoward hapi)ens, when a wolf has Ixien in their midst, 
he is again anxious to ascertain what loss has lieen sus- 
tained by the mishap. Thus Moses had the jieojile 
numbered to see what loss there was after their punish- 
ment for making the golden calf. — Tanchum. Kee 
Sisso. 

Poor ignorant man, you want to find out God's ways ; 
e.xplain first the phenomenon of your own eye ; it 
consists of white and black, and according to all rea.son 
the white should supply light, but in reality the little 



240 THE MIDRASH 

spot in the centre of your eye is the lens to give you 
sight. — ^Tanchum. Tezaveh, 

A man never so learned should not preach if his preach- 
ing is not agreeable to his audience. — Tanchum. Kee Sisso. 

A public teacher (preacher) must not only be thorough- 
ly conversant with the twenty-four books of the Bible, 
but must be known to his flock as modest and dis- 
tinguished for his virtues. — Tanchum. Kee Sisso. 

Moses, in spite of his being the mediator between God 
and his people in promulgating God's behests to them, 
and knowing God's intention of giving his law to his 
people Israel, in spite of all his varied and most wonder- 
ful qualities, and his having been in the mountain forty 
days and forty nights, during which he eat no bread and 
drank no water, in spite of all this, he is but styled U1^, 
and is only looked upon as an earthly, a mortal being, 
the greatest of men, but only a mortal man. — Tanchum. 
Kee Sisso. 

There were forty thousand of the mixed multitude, 
who forced themselves on the Israelites at the Exodus 
and came out with them from Egypt. Amongst them 
were the two great Egyptian magicians of Pharaoh who 
imitated Moses' miracles before Pharaoh. Their names 
were Junus and Jumburius. — ^Tanchum. Kee Sisso. 

The living always have to arrange for the dead, such as 
bringing them to their resting-place, etc., but the dead 
are not called upon to provide anything for the living ; 
yet behold, when any serious trouble or threats over- 
took the Israelites, though there were many righteous 
men in the camp, Moses in his intercession had no 
recourse to them, but fell back upon those who had long 
since departed. ' Remember,' he prayed, ' thy servants 
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.' Solomon alluded to this 
when he said, ' Wherefore I praised the dead which are 
already dead more than the living, which are yet alive ' 
(Eccles. 4.). — Tanchum. Kee Sisso. 

The ' Mishna ' would have been incorporated with the 



MIDRASn TANCHUMAH OR VELAMDINU 24I 

written Torah, but God saw that the Torah would 
eventually be translated into Greek and published as 
though it were the code intrusted to Greeks. Had the 
Mishna been together with the written law, the nations 
would have claimed to be the custodians of the whole of 
God's word. But the oral law, the key to and inter- 
preter of the written law, being intrusted to Israelites 
only (which could not have been done had It been 
written) the Jews have the whole of God's word with 
the interpretation in full. — Tanchum. Kee Sisso. 

Wisdom is granted by God to him who already })os- 
sesses knowleilge, not to the ignorant. A certain matron 
was arguing with Rabbi Jos6 b. Chlafta on this point of 
God giving wisdom to men of understanding. This, she 
thouglit, was paradoxical, as it would be more proper if 
God granted wisdom to simpletons, who are more in 
want of it than wise men. 

Rabbi Jos6 put a simple question to her. ' If two 
men,' he asked, ' were to appear before you, one wealthy 
and the other poor, each asking you for a loan of money, 
whom would you be more inclined to trust ? ' ' Surely 
the one possessed of wealth,' she replied. ' God in his 
dispensation,' said Rabbi ]os6, ' giveth wisdom to the 
man of imcU'rstanding, who possesses and knows the value 
of it, and will make profitable use of the augmentation : 
like a man whom you would prefer to trust with your 
money, knowing that he has facilities to employ j^jrofit- 
ably what you lend him ; whereas the fool intrusted with 
wisdom would abuse the precious gift and convert it into 
folly, like the poor man whom you would not care to 
trust, lest the money should be lost through his inability 
to emj^loy it profitably.' — Tanchum. Kee Sisso. 

Rabbi Eliezer b. Jos6 stated that he saw in Rome the 
Mercy-seat of the Temple. There was a bloodstain on it. 
On inquiry he was told that it was a stain from the blood 
which the High Priest sprinkled thereon on the Day of 
Atonement. — Tanchum. Vayakhail. 



242 THE MIDRASH 

The Tor ah was given in the wilderness, and hke the 
wilderness it is free and open to all comers without for- 
malities or introductions : all that wish to do so can 
enter into it. — Tanchum. Vayakhail. 

The boards for the Mishkan were made from shittim- 
wood, from a tree that does not bear fruit ; thereby man 
is taught the virtue of economy : he should not waste 
anything of greater value when the same can be obtained 
by using articles of lesser value. Even the Mishkan was 
not to be made out of fruit trees, since it could be made 
equally as effective out of trees bearing no fruit. — Tan- 
chum. Vayakhail. 

It is but right and proper that one should be right 
in the sight of God, but it is also desirable so to act 
as to be just and right in the eyes of man. — Tanchum. 
Pekudai. 

Slander no one, whether thy brother or not thy 
brother, whether a Jew or not a Jew. — Tanchum. 
Pekudai. 

In connexion with the poor man's sacrifice, that of a 
handful of flour, and not in connexion with the rich 
man's sacrifices (of bulls and rams) do we find the ex- 
pression ' and if any soul.' God looked upon the poor 
man's offering of a handful of flour as though he had 
offered his life. — ^Tanchum. Vayikra. 

The righteous stand on a higher level than angels. — 
Tanchum. Vayikra. 

Those who aim at greatness do not always get it. 
Moses fled from it, but it was forced upon him. — Tan- 
chum. Vayikra. 

God consulted the Torah when about to create man, 
but the Torah was dubious about calling man into 
existence, for since his days would be so short and his 
ways so perverted he would require much forbearance, 
God's reply was, ' By thee (Torah) I declare myself as a 
God merciful, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness 
and in truth.' — Tanchum. Pekudai. 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH (^R VFT.AMDINU 243 

'Swear not at all, not even to tlie truth.'' — Tanchum. 
Vayikra. 

Future bliss can neither be imagined, explained, or 
described. We know nothing of its nature, form, 
greatness, or beauty, its quantity or quality. This 
much one should know, the phrase N^H Db^y, ' the world 
to come ' does not imply that it is a world yet to be 
called into existence ; it exists already, but the phrase is 
employed to describe the life into wliich those who are 
in the present stage of existence will bo transposed when 
they throw off this mortal coil. — Tanchum. Vayikra. 

The leper, the blind, the abject poor, and those who 
have no j^rogeny, are as though dead. — Tanchum. Tsav. 

Kabbi Judah Hanasi, arriving at a place called 
Semunia, was entreated by the community to select a 
rabbi for them. He sent them Rabbi Levi b. Sissyas, a 
learned and able man. Not long afterward the newly 
appointed Rabbi came to R. Judah Hanasi, the donor of 
his living, and whilst thanking him for the appointment 
expressed the fear that his position was not tenable. On 
Ix'ing questioned for his reasons he answered that Scrip- 
tural passages were submitted to him for solution by his 
congregants which it was above his capability to solve. 
Amongst others he mentioned the passage, ' I will show 
thee that which is written, and which is true '(Dan. 10.). 
Hence they argue that there must be something written 
and which is not true. Rabbi Judah Hanasi then ex- 
plained : ' Man,' he said, ' incurs retribution if he leaves 
matters as they are, and does nothing to avert the 
punishment decreed upon him. In this case what is 
written Is true : his punishment will overtake him. But 
on the other hand, if he reflects and thinks over his evil 
ways, becomes contrite, repents and asks his merciful 
Father for forgiveness, and the deserved punishment 

* Maimonides in hLs nptnn T hold.s a contrary opinion. He 
says, one ■.houU swear to trutli and mentions y2L"n 1DC'31, "By 
his name thou shalt swear" (Deut. 10. 21) as a commandment. 



244 THE MIDRASH 

is held back, in this instance what is written is not 
true.' 

By this hypothesis you are to reconcile some seemingly 
contradictory passages in Scripture, such as in i Saml. 
(2. 25), where in connexion with Eli's sons we have 
it that they hearkened not unto the voice of their 
father because the Lord wanted to slay them. But 
through the prophet God sends us a message, * As I live, 
saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the 
wicked ' (Ezkl. 33.). The answer is that there are 
sinners and sinners, those who do and those who do not 
repent. — ^Tanchum. Tsav. 

There is a good reason why the secret comes out 
when the wine goes in, ]^'» wine is in numerical value 
seventy, and so is the word TlD secret : one seventy in, 
the other seventy out. — Tanchum. Sheminee. 

Two sheep and two tenth parts of flour were demanded 
as an offering, whereas of wine only the smallest possible 
quantity was to be offered. This was a hint that wine 
is always to be used sparingly, as indulgence in it leads 
to mischief. — ^Tanchum. Sheminee. 

The guardian angels are always near God's throne, but 
the accusing ones are kept at a distance. — ^Tanchum. 
Sazrea. 

Have no undue compassion for tyrants, and you will 
not become a tj^ant over those who deserve compassion. 
— ^Tanchum. Metzora. 

As an example of good manners and the virtue of 
considering the feelings of others, a story is related of a 
distinguished man who invited friends to his son's mar- 
riage. During the feast the bridegroom himself went 
to the cellar to fetch some very old and costly wine for 
the guests, when he was fatally bitten by a snake which 
was hidden under the casks. When the host learned 
the shocking news of his son's death he refrained from 
disturbing his guests' enjo)mient, and when the feast was 
over and prayers after meat were about to be pro- 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH OR YELAMDINU 245 

nounced, he told the assembly that there would be burial 
j)rayers for his son, who had met his death by the bite of 
a snake. — Tanchum. Metzora. 

At Sinai the women received and accepted the Deca- 
logue before the men. — Tanchum. Metzora. 

Palestine is destined to be the centre of the globe. — 
Tanchum. Kedoshim. 

Sceptics argued with Rabbi Simlua that from the 
words D'l^'lip D''n':'S (Josh. 24. 19) a plurality of gods 
is clearly deducible. Rabbi Simlua dispelled their con- 
tention by pointing out that the word that follows is 
Kin, ' he is,' and not rTDH, ' they are.' As for the 
word D''lt'TTp, which is plural, he explained that God's 
holiness does not consist in being holy in one thing only, 
but that the whole of his doings are full of holiness. 
Hence the D'l which indicates the j^lural ; that is to say, 
every one of his actions is holy, all his words are holy, all 
his ways are holy, his revelations, his manifestations, are 
all holy, and He is perfect holiness in all his nature and 
properties. — Tanchum. Kedoshim. 

Before man had yet made his appearance on earth, 
the angels sanctified God's name and sang hymns before 
Him in antici})ation of man's advent. The words they 
used for their hymns were, ' Blessed be the Lord God of 
Israel from everlasting to everlasting.' When Adam 
made his appearance they asked, ' Is this the human 
creature in anticipation of whose advent we sang 
hymns ? ' They were told that this was not the one, as 
he would prove to Ixj dishonest. At Noah's birth the 
angels exclaimed, ' This time we behold the man.' 
' No,' they were told, this one will l>e given to ' drinking.' 
Nor did they guess well when they suggested Abraham 
was the right man when he made his ajipcarance, for his 
]irogcny was Ishmael. Again they were undeceived when 
they hit upon Isaac as the man for whose coming they 
had sung hymns, for did he not beget Esau whom God 
hated ? At the appearance of Jacob they again 



246 THE MIDRASH 

ventured a guess, and this time God said to them, 
' You have fixed on the right man.' He shall be 
named Israel, and his descendants shall be called 
by his name.' Hence God said to Moses, Tell the 
children of Israel that they were sanctified before they 
were called into existence, and must therefore remain 
holy, even as their God is holy. So a king when bring- 
ing his newly-married bride into his palace might say to 
her : ' You are now united to me. I am king, therefore 
be you henceforth queen.' — ^Tanchum. Kedoshim. 

' When you come into the land you shall plant all 
manner of trees for food ' (Levit. 19.). Although you will 
find ' the land filled with all good things,' yet you are not 
to abstain from labour, especially agriculture ; you are 
to occupy yourselves in these pursuits. Even the old 
who have no reasonable expectation of eating of the 
fruits of their labour shall participate in the work of culti- 
vating the ground. — Tanchum. Kedoshim. 

The caution which King Solomon utters, ' Rob not 
the poor' (Prov. 22.) would seem superfluous. Who is 
likely to rob a poor man who has nothing to be robbed of? 
But his words go farther than they seem to go at first 
sight. They mean that if you are in the habit of appor- 
tioning some of your substance to the poor it should not 
enter your mind to discontinue doing so. If you are 
tempted to say, why should I give my substance to 
others ? remember that by your discontinuance you are 
robbing the poor. He and you are mine, and I may 
reverse the condition of things. — ^Tanchum. Behar. 

Regarding the ceremony of the red heifer (Numb, ig.), 
Rabbi Jochanan b. Zakkai explained to his pupils that 
its ashes could not render any unclean person clean. 
But as this is a statute of the Torah, we must inquire for 
no reason. If we refused to do anything that God com- 
mands without a definite reason, we should no longer be 
paying Him simple obedience. 

In addition, he continued, supposing one of the child- 



MIDRASn TANCHUMAH OR YHLAMDINU 247 

ren of the king's servants had soiled the king's palace, 
the mother would naturally be fetched and asked to 
wash out the stain which her child had made. So the 
mother of the calf with which the Israelites polluted 
God's world is called into requisition to purify the pollu- 
tion made by her offspring. — Tanchum. Chookas. 

Apart from the essential qualifications for the office of 
High Priest, he had also to be handsome, healthy, in a 
good financial ix>sition, a man of mature judgment, and 
of advanced age. When he was poor, but otherwise 
qualified, he was placed in a position beyond want. 
One Pinchus, ' the stonecutter,' being in every respect 
eminently fitted for the office of High Priest except that 
he was poor, the priests amongst themselves contributed 
enough to make him actually a man of affluence. — Tan- 
chum. Emmur. 

Out of certain classes of things God has chosen one. 
Of days, the seventh was chosen and sanctified. Of 
years too the seventh was chosen as the Sabbatical 
year ; and out of seven Sabbatical years one was selected 
as the Jubilee. Of countries, God made choice of Pales- 
tine. Of the heavens, the 7112*1^^ Aroboth was chosen for 
God's tfirone. Of nations, Israel was the choice, and 
of the tribes of Israel, that of Levi — Tanchum. Bamidbar. 

God blessed Adam, Noah and Abraham, but He en- 
dowed Abraham with the power of blessing which the 
Lord will endorse. — Tanchum. Nosou. 

During the twenty-six generations that passed from 
the creation to the giving of the Torah, the world was 
upheld by God's lovingkindness, which was, so to speak, 
the pivot upon which the world existed. When the 
Torah was given to and accepted by Israel, an addi- 
tional support was given to the world upon which it 
could stand, and yet it was only like a lx>nch standing 
upon two feet, not very well supported. N\'ith the 
erection of the Mi>hkan the world received a substantial 
support. So a stool which only stood upon two legs 



248 THE MIDRASH 

receives a third, and is rendered firm. — Tanchum, Nosou. 

At the Exodus a compact was made with the IsraeHtes, 
by which they undertook to erect the Mishkan for the 
Shechinah to dwell amongst them, and this is indicated 
in the 29th chapter of Exodus, ' And they shall know 
that I am the Lord their God that brought them forth 
out of the land of Egypt that I may dwell among them.' 
— Tanchum. Nosou. 

In order not to cause jealousy as to who should be the 
seventy elders, Moses cast lots by taking seventy-two 
slips representing six of each tribe, writing the word 
' elder ' on seventy of the slips and leaving the two odd 
ones blank. Seventy-two men then drew out each of 
them a slip, and those who drew blanks had to give up 
their claims. — Tanchum. Behaaloscha. 

The harp upon which the Levites played had seven 
strings. — Tanchum. Behaaloscha. 

Priests and prophets are designated by the name of 
IJ^'^'D, which simply means messenger.^ — ^Tanchum. 
Shelach. 

God's behests were to be the guiding principle of the 
Israelite in all his doings throughout his earthly career. 
Ploughing, sowing, reaping, threshing : these have all 
their laws by which he is to conduct them. In the 
making of dough, in killing meat, in the fruit of his trees, 
he has his laws, also about the hair of his head, his 
apparel, the building of his house, and the burying of his 
dead. — ^Tanchum. Shelach. 

Orientals have some commendable habits. When 
they kiss they kiss the hand, not the mouth. They do 
not handle meat with their hands, but use knives. When 
they have to consider any important public matter, 
they assemble in the open outside the town. — Tanchum. 
Chookas. 

The ' Shekel ' when mentioned in the Pentateuch 

^ See also Moreh Nebuchim, vol. i, cap. 27, and vol. 2, caps. 
6 and 42. 



MIDRASH TANCHUMAH OR YELAMDINU 249 

means one ' sela ' ; in the prophets it amounts to five 
and twenty ' selaiin ' ; but those mentioned in the Holy 
Writings (Hagiographa) are one hundred selaim. 
There is an exception in the case of the shekoHm which 
Ephron the Hittite asked of Abraham for the ' cave of 
Machpelah ' : they also were one hundred selaim each. — 
Tanchum. Balak. 

Midian and Moab were enemies from time immemorial; 
but for the purpose of injuring the Israelites they over- 
looked their long-standing enmity : just as two dogs 
will very quickly desist from fighting if they see a wolf 
approaching, and will unite their strength against 
the advancing enemy. Balaam's services were so 
anxiously sought after because the Israelites and their 
leader, Moses, were known to have immense power with 
their 'mouth (prayer) ; therefore they wanted one who 
also had great power with his eloquence. — Tanchum. 
Balak. 

When man confesses and says, ' O God, I have sinned,' 
the very messenger sent to punish him for that sin has 
his power paralysed and his hand stayed. — Tanchum. 
Balak. 

To entice a man to sin is tantamount to taking his hfe. 
— Tanchum. Pinchos. 

If Moses had been a selfish man and had only con- 
sidered himself and his own interest, he would have 
delayed to avenge the Israelites on the Midianites as long 
as possible, because the duration of his earthly life was 
fixed for the time when he should have brought about 
vengeance on Midian (Numb. 31.). But like a faithful 
shepherd, unselfish and self-sacrificing as he was, he 
strove to consummate all his work without regarding 
his own life or his own interest, and as soon as that part 
of his duty was ripe for performance, and when it was to 
the advantage of his flock, he set himself to do the 
work, knowing well that when that work was finished 
his earthly career was finished. — Tanchum. Mattos. 



250 THE MIDRASH 

' Ye shall keep my statutes and my judgments, which 
if a man do he shall live in them ' (Levit. i8.) : live in 
them, says God, but not die by them. — ^Tanchum. 
Massa. 

God gave the Torah to Israel, but all nations are to 
benefit by it. — ^Tanchum. Devorim. 

Jews are under an oath not to reveal the time of re- 
demption (those who may know it), not to prolong its 
consummation by their unrighteousness, and not to rebel 
against the ruling power. — Tanchum. Devorim. 

Moses was born and died on the same day of the month, 
namely, the seventh day of Adar. — ^Tanchum. Voes- 
chanan. 

Moses prayed to God to show him his glory, and in 
compliance with that prayer God says, ' I will pass all 
my goodness before thee ' (Exod. 33.). Because God's 
goodness is God's glory ; mercy and goodness are the 
brightest jewels in God's crown. — Tanchum. Voes- 
chanan. 

Death is designed for man from time immemorial. 
When the hour of man's departure hence arrives, nothing 
will save him from it. If he had the wings of an eagle 
and could soar high up above the earth, he would, of his 
own accord, come down to meet his fate. — Death is a new 
gate for the righteous to enter in. — Tanchum. Voes- 
chanan. 

Do not weigh, as it were in scales, the importance or 
the insignificance of your acts, as long as they are acts of 
righteousness; and do not speculate and say, ' I will not 
do this or that because it is only a small or light act in 
the scale of God's commandments ; I will therefore 
rather perform a more important act, and my reward will 
be correspondingly greater.' For this reason God hath 
concealed the nature of the reward for carrying out his 
statutes. A certain king hired workmen to cultivate his 
garden, but did not tell them what the reward would be 
for raising each kind of fruit or plant, for if he had done 



MIDRASII TANCHUMAII OR YELAMDINU 25 1 

so the workmen would one and all have endeavoured to 
produce the fruit for wliich the higlu-st wage was pro- 
mised, and the other products would have been neg- 
lected. Yet there are two commandments, one appa- 
rently of slight and the other of great importance, 
for which precisely the same reward is promised, (i) 
That of sending away the dam and retaining its young, 
for the carrying out of which well-being and long life are 
promised (Deut.22.) ; and (2) the honouring of parents, 
for which the same reward is assured. This tends to 
endorse what we maintain, that it is not for man to define 
the smallness or greatness of a godly act, or the nature 
and quality of the rewards. It is suf^cient to know that 
the doing of God's will carries with it reward for faith 
and for doing it simply because we are told to do so. — 
Tanchum. Ike v. 

Let not the Israehtes be haughty and say that they 
only are the people who possess and live up to the com- 
mandments of God, for other nations, though not the 
recipients of God's laws, also have the commandments 
of the Lord as their life's guide, and glorify his name — 
Tanchum. Ikev. 

No affliction overtakes man without his having first 
some foreboding or warning of its coming. — Tanchum. 
Reai. 

No evil-doer can plead ignorance ; for the two ways, 
the good and the evil, are so distinctly marked that it is 
impossible to mistake the one for the other. Moses was 
like the old watchman who sat on the high road where 
two paths, a stony and a smooth one, met, and con- 
stantly warned wayfarers which one to take. — Tanchum. 
Reai. 

God will eventually reveal his glory to all mankind as 
unmistakably as though He had placed his throne in 
the centre of the heavens, and then moved it from one 
extreme end to the other, so that everybody should see 
and know it. — Tanchum. Shoftim. 



252 THE MIDRASH 

No one can imagine the reward of him who accepts all 
his sorrows and reverses with religious resignation. 
— Tanchum. Kee Saizai. 

Rabbi Akiba, in defiance of the mandate of the 
Grecian authorities who prohibited the study of the 
Torah, was found by his friend, Prysus b. Judah, with a 
host of disciples, diligently pursuing his wonted research. 
' Knowest thou not,' asked his friend, ' the great danger 
thou art facing by thus defying the authorities ? Take 
my advice and desist from thy studies.' 

' Your advice,' returned Rabbi Akiba, ' seems to me 
like the advice of the fox who on seeing fishes swimming 
in a river here and there, told them to come out, and he 
would show them a resting place in the rocks. " Are you 
the wise one amongst the beasts of the field ? " retorted 
the fishes. "If in our own element we can find no 
rest and safety, how much worse will it be with us when 
we are out of it ? " With us Jews the Torah is our 
very life (Prov. 4). In pursuing its study I may incur 
the risk of losing my earthly life ; in relinquishing it I 
face the certainty of moral and spiritual death.' — Tan- 
chum. KeeSovou. 

The heart and mind of the Priest when conducting 
Divine service was not to be diverted by anything else, 
his whole heart and mind was to be concentrated upon 
the service. — ^Tanchum. Kee Sovou. 

It is not too much to say that discretion should be 
exercised regarding the names one gives to his children. 
There are instances in which a name implying evil 
qualities has been given to a child, and the child, when 
grown up into manhood, has exemplified by his life the 
meaning of his name. — ^Tanchum. Haazenu. 

Hope is held out here for man for everything. If he is 
in abject poverty, he may become rich ; if he is sickly, it 
is not beyond the range of possibility for him to become 
robust ; if he is captive, he may regain his liberty. 
Death is the only thing which man cannot hope to 



MIDRASn TANCHUMAH OR YELAMDINU 253 

escape. But let man take comfort in the thought that 
even so great a man as Moses, who spoke with God face 
to face, the head of all prophets, the greatest of men, did 
not escape death. — Tanchum. Berocho. 



INDEX 



Aaron, 94* 106, 141, 143, 167, 

194, 203, 205, 213, 230 
Abbe Kolon, 172 
Abbe, the Saintly, 185 
Abbe, the Sabbath breaker, 

18s 
Abel, 72, 194, 198, 219, 230. 
Abinimos, 188 
Abraham, 67, 78, 79, 80, 81, 84, 

93, 133, 140, 151, 158, 170. 

194, 202, 203, 209, 211, 222, 

225, 232, 245. 
Absalom, 90 

Abstemiousness, 139, 140 
Abstract idea, 212 
Accused, 61 
Adam, 63, 158, 180, 194, 209, 

245 
Adam and Eve, 6^, 66, 6y, 68, 

208, 209 
Admonition, 4, 81, 183, 199, 

227 
Adultery, 97, 122, 137 
Adversity, 4, 234 
Affliction, 251 
Africa, 76, 119 
Agada, 2, 3, 4 
Agadic, 3, 4, 5 
Agriculture and Arbour works, 

123, 220, 246 
Ahasuerus, 194, 195, 196 
Aholiab, 106 
Air. 95 

Aleph, etc., 57 
Alexander, 8-21, 118, 200, 

213 
Alexandria, 20, 194, 200 
Allegories, 4 
Alms, 212, 237 
Altar, 177, 226, 234 



Amalek, 55, 232 

Ammon, 79, 146, 188 

Amulet, 76 

Angels, 57, 63, 80, 81, 98, 103, 

104, 144, 148, 152, 158, 212, 

242, 244, 245 
Antiochus, 200 
Antiochia, 200 

Antoninus, 113, 119, 226, 228 
Apocrypha, 3 
Arabian, 136 
Arabian Prince, 138 
Arabic, 124 
Ark, 76, 134 
Artaban, 76 
Artificial light, 205 
Asa, 126 
Ascendency, 183 
Ashmedai, 28-41 
Ass, 80 

Astrologer, 216 
Athlia, 195 
Athniel, 177 
Audience, 5 
Authority, 3, 176 
Avilmerodach, 195, 197 
Azaria, 169, 182, 204 



Babylon, 6, 121, 205 

Bad conduct, 235 

Badger 1 36 

Balaam, 79, 86, 89, 104, 134, 

144, 147, 188, 249 
Ban, 3 

Bar Talmion, 115 
Beautiful traits, 127 
Beersheba, 173 
Belshazzar, 197, 203 



264 



INDEX 



255 



Banners, 130, 131 

Benjamin, 84 

Beth The, 57 

Bezalcl, 106 

Bible. 6, 142. 219, 240 

Bit. 80 

Black but comely. 167 

Black Jews, 71 

Black races. 76 

Blessings. 201 

Blind, 81, 113. 1 14, 243 

Blindness, 82 

Boaz, 161 

Botly, 113. 1 14, 230 

Book of Memorial, 196 

BridoRroom, 244 

Broken heart. 1 16 

Broken things, 1 16 

Burial, 230 

Burning bush, 91 



Community, 147 
Compact, 248 

Compassion. 74. 81, 164, 244 
Complete gift. 68 
Conduct, 199 
Coney, 65 

Confession, 207, 249 
Consistency, 204 
Consolations. 4 
Constantine, 200 
Constantinople, 200 
Contention, i 16 
Contrition. 204, 207 
Copper serpent, 232 
Creation, 60, 61, 65, j^, 219 
Creator, 3, 62, 65 
Crowns, 183 
Cruelty, 182 
Cyrus, 195 



Cain, 72-73, 194, 19S, 219, 230 

Caleb, 112. 168 

Camel, 153, 177 

Canaanites, 1 19, 122 

Canon, 2, 6 

Caution, 86 

Cave of Machpelah, 249 

Celibacy, 69, 208 

Cemetery, 202 

Census 239 

Changing names, 127 

Chariots, 231 

Charity, 62, 182, 212, 213. 236, 

246 
Charitable disposition, 81 
Chastity, 138 
Cheat, 220 
Child, 134 
Choice, 247 
Circumcision, 235 
Cleanliness, 128, 167 
Clever will, 223-225 
Clouds, 66 
Coats, 209 
Comfort, 199 
Commandments, i, 96, 116, 

122, 137, 201, 250, 251 
Communal matters, 233 
Communion, 207 



Daniel, 142, 149, 203 

Darius, 8 9, 10, 11, 118 

Daughter, 73 

Daughters, 145 

David, 8 1 , 84, 88, 90, 99, 1 36, 144, 

149,150,153,154,163,174,196. 

199, 201, 202, 203, 204, 207. 

208, 213, 227. 230, 232, 234 
Day of Atonement, 60, 152, 

212, 241 
Dead, 214, 240, 243 
Death , 108, no, 157, 161, 182. 

203, 230. 2ii, 250, 252, 253 
Debtor, 236 

Decalogue, i, 103, 157, 245 
Deliverance, 205 
Deluge, 7i. 75 
Demons, 22-28 
Derision. 121 
Destiny, 1 16, m 
Dinah, 227 
Discretion, 70 
Distinguished Scholar. 238 
Divine service, 252 
Divorce, 171 
Dog, 72, 238 
Dogs, 249 
Drawing-court, 83 
Dreams, 68, 69, 83, 86, 211 
Duty, 212 



256 



INDEX 



Eagle, 250 

Ears, 83 

Earth, 58, 157, 159, 236, 245 

Earthly things, 204 

Ecclesiastes, Book of, 179, 181 

Echo (!p-ip nn)- 17s 

Economy, 242 

Edom, 122, 145, 205, 221 

Eglon, 79 

Egypt. 127, 137, 167 

— King of, 143 

Egyptian redemption, 149, 171, 
188, 240 

— women, 227 
Egyptians, 64, 88, 122, 145, 

155. 230 
Eldorado, 7 
Eleazer, 135 
Eliab, 218 
Eli's sons, 244 
Elijah, 141, 149, 209, 222 
Elisha b. Abihu, 164, 165, 166 

167 
Elite, 106 

Eloquence, 147, 213, 249 
Endurance, 83 
Enemy, 202 
Enquiry, 57 
Enticement, 249 
Enticers, 145 
Ephron the Hittite, 249 
Equality before God, 106 
Esau, 82, 99, 198, 202 230, 237, 

245 
Esther, 5, 96, 118, 204 
Euphrates, 68, 173, 195 
Evil, T7, 251 
Evil-doer, 251 

Evil inclination, 72, 1 19, 220 
Example, 207 
Excommunicated, 3 
Execution, 139 
Exegesis, 4 
Exhortations, 4 
Exodus, 130, 173, 248 
Expositions, 4 
Expounding, 225 
Eyes, 83, 142, 143, 174, 205. 239 
Ezra, 2, 4, 174, 175 



Failing memory, 176 

Faith, 96, 100, 10 1, 202, 204, 

208, 215, 232, 251 
Faithful, 232 
Faithful shepherd, 249 
Faithless servants, 196 
Fall from high position, 71, 207 
Fame, 161 
Fear, 225 
Feet, 205 
Fellow-man, 212 
Festivals, 2 
Filial son, 148 
Fire, 95 
Fishes, 252 
Flags, 130 
Flattery, 227 
Flies, 65 
Floods, "J I 
Folly, 212 
Fools, 186 
Foreboding, 251 
Formation of woman, 70 
Fortitude, 148, 236 
Fox, 251 
Fraud, 122, 138 
Fraudulent, 219 
Frugality, 116 
Future bliss, 212, 243 
Futurity, 86, 148, 158, 160, 
161, 162, 179, 207, 219 

G 
Garden, 113, 250 
Gate, 250 

Gibeonites, 119, 138 
Gideon, 203 
Gehenim, 177 
Generation, 160, 209 
Gentiles, 129 
Girgashites, 119 
Glass, 67 
Globe, 245 

Glorious weapon, 187 
Goat, 116 

God, I, 137, 140, 141, 198 
God pairs in marriage and 
appoints destiny, 116 

— and the soul, 151, 210 

— loveth the righteous, 137 



INDEX 



257 



God's acts, 7i 

— army, 202 

— attributes, 242 

— behests. 130. 156, 248 

— blessings, 201. 208 

— breath, 62 

— condescension, 96 

— creditor. 2^7 

— crown, 250 

— dealings (with His people), 

— deplorings, 7} 

— fore- knowledge, 60, 64 

— forgiveness, 204 

— free gifts, 61 

— friends, 79 

— glory. 250. 25 I 

— goodness. 250 

— image, 220, 234 

— kiss. 167 

— love. 103. 191 

— lovingkindness. 247 

— mercy. 75. 95. 204. 207, 208, 
216 

— messengers, 130. 182 

— omnipresence, 91 

— praise. 2 1 3 

— providence. 65 

— right hand, 213 

— seal, 62, 147 

— sons. 156 

— standing (by His people), 
86 

— throne, 153. 244, 251 

— title, 58, 91 

— unity, 57. 103 

— ways and works, 102, 236, 

239 
Gog and Magog. 198 
Gold. IDS 
Golden Calf. 104. 107, 110, 187, 

227, 239. 247 
Golden vessels, 64 
Goliath, 203 
Gomer and Magog, 76 
Goo<l. 208. 25 1 
GcKxlwill, 23; 
Grandchildren, 81 
Grapes, 2 1 1 
Gratitude, 77 
Greatest of man, 253 



Grave, 72 

Greeks 68. 96, 205. 241, 252 

Guiding principle. 248 

H 
Habit, 180 
Hadrian, 5, 6. 103. 163, 179. 

221. 226. 234 
Hadrian's wife, 221 
Hagar, 80 

Hagiographa, 172, 249 
Hail. 174 
Halacha, 2. 3. 4 
Ham, 76 
Haman. 104, 144. I94» 196. 

198. 204 
Hananiah. 171, 183. 205 
Handful of tlour, 116 
Handicraft. 226 
Hands. 205, 212 
Hannah, 141. 213. 215 
Haran, 77 
Harmony. 188 
Harp, 248 
Hashmoneans, 6 
Haughty spirit, 232 
Haven of rest, 202 
Head of all prophets. 253 
Hearsay, 222 
Heart, 143, I79. 205, 252 
Heathens. 86. 125. 140, 210. 

Heathen sage. 135 

Heaven. 150. 158. U7. 236. 251 

Heavenly bodies. 156 

Heavenly Father. 149, 198, 202 

Heavenly pavilion. 235 

Hebrew language. 196 

Hebrew months. 80 

Help, 208 

Hezekiah. 197 

High position. 227 

High priest, 9. 121, 226, 241. 

247 
Highway, 7 
Higher level, 148, 242 
Higher life, 142 204 
Higher sphere, 108 
Hillel's pedigree. 87 
Hiram. 203 
Historical records, 4 



258 



INDEX 



History, 202 

Holiness, 167 

Holy ark, 134 

Holy Body, 185 

Holy camp, 138 

Holy Spirit, 83, loi, 140, 160, 

161, 167, 173, 175, 204 
Holy Writ, 1, 5, 76, 83, 94, 176,2 1 3 
Homilies, 4 

Honesty, 152, 212, 222 
Honey, 169 

Honouring parents, 251 
Hope, 252 
Horeb, 168 
Horseshoe table, 176 
House of feasting, 182 
— — mourning, 182 
Human body, 67 
Human race, 67 
Humble, 230 

Humility. 112, 122, 135, 218 
Hymns, 164, 204, 209 
Hypocrites, 82, 160 



Idol worshippers, 220, 233 
Idolatry, 98 
Ignorance, 251 
Ignorant, 241 
Illgotten gain, 237 
Ill-wind, Tj 

Immortal though departed, 240 
Implicit obedience, 236 
Inanimate matter, 113 
Incense, 134 
Iniquity, 115, 182 
Injunctions, 236 
Injustice, 182 
Insect, 65 
Inspiration, 118 
Insults, 80 
Intellect, 139, 220 
Intemperance, 139 
Intention, 208 
Intoxicants, 139 
Introduction, 1-7 
Invaluable goods, 238 
Iron, 61, 234 

Isaac, 82, 84, 93, 158, 194, 202, 
209, 230, 245 



Isaiah, 209, 226 

Ishmael, 90, 211, 230, 245 

Israel, 100, 10 1, 105, 106, 107,108, 
115, 118. 126, 133, 137, 139, 
140, 156, 167, 170, 171, 172, 
192, 198, 205, 215, 217, 232, 
235, 246, 247, 250 

Israel's captivity, 85 

— debt, loi 

— light, 213 

— question, 207 

Israelites, i, 96, 98, 100, loi, 
116, 119,125,126,130,134,137, 
139, 149, 173, 182 187, 195, 
210, 222, 226, 232, 239, 240, 
247, 241, 251 

Italy, ii 

Ithra the Ishmaelite, 200 

Ithra the Israelite, 200 



Jacob, 82, 83, 84, 94, 99, 108, 
131 138 141. 159, 173, 194, 
202, 209, 226, 230, 240, 245 

Jacob's blessing of Judah, 87 

— power, 82 
Jamnia, 5 
Japhet, 76 

Jealous husband, 155 
Jealousy, 248 
Jechoniah, 121 
Jehoiakim, 120, 121 
Jereboam, 172, 227 
Jericho, 175 

Jerusalem, 79, 81, 118, 120, 141, 

204, 215, 217 
Jeshimon, 182 
Jesse, 200 
Jethro, 88, 89, 176 
Jew and Jews, 71, 138, ^143, 

170, 198, 204, 213, 220,^226, 

241, 242, 250, 252 
Jewish coins, •]% 

— litigants, 236 

' — seminary, 200 

Jezebel, 195 

Job, 81, 89, 149, 164 

Jochabad, 5 

Joseph, 85, 86, 90, 130, 138, 

142, 150, 183, 194, 196, 227, 

228, 230 



INDEX 



259 



Joseph's brethren, 86 

— bones. 99 

Joshua, ij8, 168, 177, 194, 201, 

302 
Joy. 208 

Judah, 84. 194, 202 
Judaism. 200, 234 
Judge and judges, 115, 147, 

i(>o, J13 
Judgment, 196, 204, 222, 250 
Jumburius, 240 
Junus, 240 
Justice. 153, 154 
Justiiication, 242 

K 

Kindly disposition*. 213 

Kindness, 212. 217, 236 

King. 137. 185 

Kingdom of heaven, 131, 151 

Knivei". i<} 

Knowledge. 143, 151, 217, 232 

Korah, 104 



Labour, 185, 246 
Lame. 113, 114 
Latin. 196 
Laziness, 69 
Leaders, 147 
Learned men, 236, 240 
Learning. 173, 177, 213 
Legends, 4 
Lcmech. 73 
Lentils. 69, yj 
Leper. 1 18, 242 
Leprosy, i 19, 137 
Life, 208 
Light. 6<^. 81 

— ami the Pentateuch, 59 

— of freedom. 205 

— when first created, 65 
Lion. 222 

Litigants. 115, 160, 236 

Loadstar. 6 

Lot, 79, 225 

Lot's ingratitude, 79 

Lots (casting), 248 

Loyalty, 89, 185 



M 



Maccabees, 2 

Magician, 240 

Maiden at the well. 187 

Majority, 1 14 

Man, 58, 62, 63. 66, 67, 72. 82, 
83. 84, 86, 127. 138. 161, 163, 
176, 178, 180, 181, 201, 203, 
21 1. 212. 216, 217, 218 , 219, 
227, 237. 239. 242, 245 

Man and woman, 63 

Mandate, 252 

Manners, 80, I2I, 139, 164, 244 

Marah. 168 

Marriage, 1 16 

Marriage convention, 152 

Martyrs. 189, 190. 199 

Matches made in heaven. 83 

Matrimony, 13S 

Mattathias, 96, 205 

Matter, 63, 66, 67 

Measures, 194 

Mechilta. 6 

Medicine, 73 

Meekness. 167.168,202. 203,219 

Men, 7i. 199 

Menasseh, 141 

Merchant and his son, 180 

Merciful One, 225, 244 

Mercy, 61 

Mercy and compassion. 74, 164, 
227 

Mercy-seat, 241 

Messenger ("1X70), 248 
Messiah. 42-56. 143. 199 
Microbe, 65 
Midianites, 146, 249 
Midrash, I, 2, 6 
Midrashim. 3. 6 
Milk. 170. 211 
Mmd. 252 
Miriam. 167 
Misdeeds. 86 
Mishacl. 171, 183. 205 
Mishkan, 105. 1 10, 168. 173, 

182, 242, 247 
Mishna. 5, 240, 241 
Misleading. 225 
Mixed multitude. 126. 240 
Moab, 79, 146. 188, 249 



26o 



INDEX 



Modesty, 217, 233, 246 

Monkey, 222 

Moon, 63, 236 

Moral blindness, 81 

Moral code, 7 

Moral and spiritual death, 252 

Mordecai, 78, 175, 196, 204 

Mortal coU, 243 

Moses, 1,5,81,87, 88, 89,91, 92, 
94, loi, 102, 104, 105, 107, 
108, 109, 131 134, 136, 138, 
139, 141, 142, 144, 145, 147, 
148, 149, 150, 155, 156, 157, 
158, 159, 167, 168, 174, 183, 
194, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 

209, 211, 213, 219, 221, 227, 
230, 234, 240, 248, 249, 250, 

251. 253 
Moses' staff, 231 
Mourning, to go to the house of, 

182 
Murder, 97 

N 

Naaman, 142 

Nadab and Abihu, 183 

Name, 183, 218 

Names, 115, 216, 252 

Nations, 80, 115, 144, 167, 195, 

210, 241, 250, 251 
Nature, 61, 103, 120 
Navigation, 61 
Nazirite, 97, 98, 139 
Nebuchadnezzar, 120, 121, 144, 

174, 194, 19s, 197. 203 
Necha, 172 

Negro servant, 223, 224 
Neighbour, 184 
New moon, 95 
Nimrod, 78, 82 
Nissan 97, 134 
Noah, 64, 76, 139, 158, 194, 

222, 24s 
Noah's wife jz, 76, 139, 213 
Non-Jews, "Ji, 199, 201, 213, 

237, 242 
Nose, 66, 83 

Numbering the people 239 
Number seven, 126, 247 
Nuptials, 63 



O 

Oath, 115, 250 

Obduracy, 207 

Obedience, 246 

Obscurity, 160 

Occupation, 212 

OU, 169, 170, 183, 218 

Onkeles, 83,98,103,104,234,235 

Operation, 65 

Oppression, 84 

Oral law, i, 2, 220, 241 

Orchard, 1 1 3 

Orientals, 248 

Orphan, 196 



Pain, 182 
Pairs, 1 5 I 
Palestine, 6, 99, 117, 118, 142, 

150, 180, 234, 245, 247 
Parable, 168, 208 
Paradoxes, 174 
Parasite, 65 
Pardon, 207, 227 
Parents, 148, 217 
Parting-greetings, 80 
Patience, 83, 183 
Patriarchs, 93, 108, 109, 167, 

209, 215 
Peace, 61, 62, 116, 141, 235 
Pedigree, 56, 134 
Penitent, 141, 216 
Pentateuch, 5, 6, 248 
Periods, 75 
Perjurer, 116 
Persecuted, 125 
Persecution, 198, 202 
Persia, 76, 183 
Persian, 184, 196, 205 
Pharaoh, 64, 89, 94, 95,101,142, 

198, 203, 215, 230, 231 
Pharaoh's daughter, 88, 112 
Phineas, 141, 168 
Physician, 98 

Pig (the), 82, 177, 196, 222 
Pinchus, Stonecutter, 247 
Pirates, 238 
Pleasures, 220 
Plebeian, 106 
Ploughing, 248 



INDEX 



261 



Plurality of gods, 245 

Poor, 104. 127, 128, 236, 238, 

242. 243, 246 
Potiphar. 86. i jO 
Potiphar's wife, 227 
Poverty. 104, 170, 236, 252 
Praises, 116. 204. 209. 210 
Prayer, 4, 81, 97,99, 100, 105, 

106, 119, 149, 150, 163, 182, 

199. 209, 210, 213, 216, 217, 

225. 226, 228, 232. 249 
Preachers. 174, 183, 240 
Preaching, 109, 240 
Precedence. 194 
Precious. 217 
Prematurely old, 225 
Priestly benediction, 136, 140, 

141 ' 
Priests, 4, 134, 135, 136, 141, 

161, 203. 247, 252 
Progeny, 63 
Propensities, 127 
Prophecy, 103, 208, 217 
Prophets, i, 2, 79, 117, 120, 134, 

140. 144. 149. 154, 158, 160, 

168. 175. 176. 182, 200, 209, 

248. 253 
Proselytes. 99, 137, 138, 161 
Prosperity, 4. 233 
Protecting shelter, 65 
Protectors. 188 
Proverbs. Book of, 181 
Psalmist, 1 14 
Psalms. 99. 121, 141, 167, 174, 

208. 217 
Public notoriety, 232 
Pupils, 188 
Purim, TJ 
Purity, 3. 120, 167 



Quack, 183 



Q 



R 



Rabbis. 3. 4. 5, 64, 65, 66, 69, 
74, 76, 81, 82, 83. 87, 98. 104, 
III, 1 14, 115, 125, 127, 128, 
135, 137, 148, 150, 151. 152, 
153, 154, 162, 171. 172, 177. 



178, 179, 184, 187, 195, 199, 

200, 20I, 202, 210, 214, 226, 

232, 234. 241. 243. 245. 25» 
Rabbis and matron. 60,68,85, 

92 
Rahab, 161, 171 
Rain, 60, 66 
Reaping, 248 
Rebecca, 81, 177 
Rebellion, 87, 185 
Rebuke. 235 
Redeeming. 212 
Red heifer. 246 
Redemption. 149. 205, 210, 

215, 232, 250 

Red Sea, 100,101,167, 168. 208, 

232 
Religion, i 
Religious education, 82 

— observance, 170 

— teachers, 150, 153, 160, 177, 

216. 224. 235 
Repast. 69 

Repentance, 97, 104, 1 16, 143, 
149, 150, 162, 182, 204, 207, 
211. 216, 220, 244, 249 

Rephidim. 168 

Resignation. 148. 196, 252 

Responsibility, 113. 156, 212 

Resurrection, 84. 140. 176, 204 

Reverses, 252 

Reward, 109, 250, 251 

Rich (the). 127. 236, 242, 252 

Riches, 104, 217, 220 

Right. 242 

Righteous, 84, 108, 137. 164. 
207. 217. 220, 225, 230, 232, 
242. 250 

Righteousness. 153. 154. 196. 
199. 212. 237, 249 

Rivers, 66, 68, 252 

Robber, 220 

Robust, 252 

Romans, 65, 80 

Roman Empire, 200 

— mandate. 1 5 i 

— Minister of State, 151 

— philosopher, 200 

Rome. 64. 80.122.172, 182, 205. 

221, 241 
Romulus, 182 



262 



INDEX 



Royal house, 208 
Ruler (a certain), 1 15 
Ruth, 161 



Sabbath, 2, 65, 68, 89, 102, 152 

163 
Sacrifices, 106, 116, 122, 154, 

164, 182, 183, 209, 225, 242 
Saintliness, 165 
Saintly man, 201 
Salvation, 61 
Samaria, 10 
Samaritans, 10, 15 
Samba tion, 65, 84 
Samuel, 194, 209, 215 
Sanblot, 10 
Sanctification, 134 
Sanhedrin, no, 174, 176 
Sanitation, 65 
Sannachrab, 203, 215, 217 
Sarah, 5, 80, 84, 170, 177, 223 
Satan, 72, 222 
Saul, 125, 153, 194, 203 
Scales, 251 
Sceptical ideas, 66 
Sceptics, 245 

Scholars, Association of, 83, 175 
Schools, I, 188 
Scribes, 4 
Scripture, 2, 3, 4, 58, 168, 176, 

200, 216, 243 
Scrolls, 64 
Scrupulousness, 167 
Sea, 61, 66, 138, 198 
Secrets, 139, 244 
Secret sign, 92 
Security, 170 
Sela, 249 
Selaim, 249 
Seleucia, 200 
Seleucus, 200 
Self-praise, 213 
Semnia, 243 
Sentenced, 61 
Separating the bad from the 

good, 140 
Separation from God, 188 
Sequel, i. 
Serach, 92, 99 
Sermons, 2, 4 



Serpent, 71, 125, 147, 209 

Servants of Pharaoh, 231 

Seventy elders, 248 

Shaltiel, 121 

Shechem, 156 227 

Shechinah (the), 71, 117, 170, 
^73, 207, 220, 247 

Sheep, 116, 222, 226, 239, 244 

Shekel, 248 

Shekolim, 248 

Shemang (the yOSJ'), 181 

Shemirimith, 121, 195 

Shepherd, 81, 161, 226, 249 

Shittim, 168, 227 

Sick (visiting the), 127 

Sickly, 252 

Sickness, 183 

Sifra, 6 

Sifre, 6 

Silence, 119 

Silver trumpets, 87 

Similes, 4 

Simplicity, 216 

Sin, y^, 97, 167, 182, 193, 204, 

207, 249 
Sinai, 116, 118, 187, 245 
Sinners, 244 
Sisera, 214 

Slander, 87, 1 19, 124, 1 5 5, 226, 242 
Slanderer, 222 
Sleep, 68, 154, 174, 236 
Sleepiness, 69 
Slight, 234 
Snake, 244 

Sodom and Gomorrah, 108 
Solomon, 93, 117, 127, 141, 143, 
168, 171, 176, 178, 180, 181, 
194, 230, 240 
Sorrow, 148, 252 
Soul, 67, 105, 113, 114, 151, 

181, 182, 216, 242 
Sowing, 248 
Speech, 1 19, 123 
Spheres, 7 
Spies, 168 
Spirit, 63, 67, 230 
Spiritual element, 6^ 
Stars, 236 
Statutes, 250 
Steward, 236 
Stool, 247 



INDEX 



263 



Strangers, 137 

Stnpes (infliction of). 136 

Strong beam, 67 

Study, 136, 156, 175, 212. 219. 

234. 2S2 
Subterfuge, 116 
Sun (the). 63. 177, 225 
Sun and moon, 63 
Sunrise. 205 
Swear, 243 
Synagogue, 156 



Tribes of Judah, 106, 208 

— of Levi, 129, 134, 135, 246 

— their position, 131, 132 

— the ten, 84, 140 
Trouble from children, 225 
Trumpets. 87, 126 

Trust in Go<l. 203 
Truth, 62, 147 
Turnus Kufus, 237 
Two ways, 25 i 
Tyrants, 244 



Tabernacle, 168, 183. 201 

Tablets (the), 106, 109 

Talent, 156 

Tanaim, 3 

Teacher and teachers, 142, 188, 

212 
Tears, 207 
Temple, 79, 83, 126, 129, 154, 

174, 188, 209. 215 
Temple of Gerizim, 1 1 
Tender Shepherd, 91 
Terah. yy, 78 
Thanksgiving, 116 
Theft, 138 
Theocracy, 153 
Thief. 222 
Thoughts, 64 
Threshing, 248 
Throne of mercy, 212 
Timber. 173 

Time for everything, 181 
Tiros, 76 
Titus, 64, 65 
Tolerance, 251 
Tongue, The human, 119, 205, 

206 
Torah, The, i, 2, 57, 64, 93, 

105. 112, 119, 141, 147, 156, 

157, 158, 169, 176, 179, 180, 

182, 187, 201, 209, 215, 217. 

218, 219, 222, 234, 235, 241, 

242, 247, 250. 252 
Tradition, 6 
Treachery, 212 
Trees, 246,248 
Tribes, banners of, 130, 131 
— of Dan. 106 



U 

Understanding, 217 
Unique creature, 136 
Unrighteous and unrighteous- 

ness, 225, 250 
Unselfish, 249 
Upright, 20 1 
Uprightness, 201 
Urim and Thumraim, 231 
Usurer, 219 
Usury, 104, 113, 201, 237 



Vashti, 195 

Vespasian, 5 

Vessel, 67 

Vice, 122 

Vine, 109, 223 

Virtues, 239 

Vision of Ezekiel, loi 

\V 

Walking after God, 227 

Wall of separation. 220 

War. 225 

Watchman. 114, 251 

Water, 2 1 1 

Waters, Covenant with, 60, 95 

— of various seas, 61 

Wayfarers, 251 

Wealth. 236 

Well of Miriam, 182 

Wicked, 75, 88, 129, 143, 144. 

196, 198, 204, 210 
Widower, 226 



264 



INDEX 



Wife, 184, 207, 208, 210, 212, 

213, 225, 226 
Wife's father, 199 

— sister, 85 
Wild goat, 65 
Wilderness, 168, 242 
Wind, 177 

Winds of heaven, 132 
Wine, 80, 138, 169, 211, 244 
Wings, 164 
Wisdom, 168, 241 
Wise man, 137, 178 
Witchcraft, 230 
Witness, 115, 160, 236 
Wizard, 216 
Wolf, 239, 249 
Wolves, 226 

Woman, 5, 68, 70, 83, 183, 195, 
203, 226, 227, 245 

— and her seven sons, 189 
Wonderland, 7 

Wood, 61 
Work, 67, 226 
Workmen, 251 



World, 130, 162, 243 
Worldliness, 220 
World to come, 243 
Worlds created and destroyed, 

60 
Worm, 232 
Written Law, i 
Wronging fellow-man, 211 



Yalkut, 6 

Year : Solar and lunar, 75 

Young (the), 117 



Zedekiah, 153 

Zelophehad's daughters, 145 

Zerubbabel, 121 

Zimri, 210 

Zion, 201, 223, 228 



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