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Hearing and seeing at Sinai: Interpretive trajectories

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Chapter Summary

This chapter looks at a few early rabbinic interpretations that conceive of the relation between the hearing and seeing of Sinaitic revelation in striking ways, but with some very interesting antecedents. It begins with a midrashic set of comments to Exodus 20:15. It then considers one final passage from Mekilta's commentary on the Book of Exodus's account of revelation at Sinai, which suggests that Philonic and the early rabbinic interpretation share other interpretive moves, notwithstanding their very different historical/cultural contexts and ideological/rhetorical programs. The chapter examines two rabbinic midrashic passages in which the visualization of revelatory word or revealer plays an important role in authorizing and valorizing specifically rabbinic modes of discourse and interpretation. The first is from Sifre Deuteronomy 313, commenting on Deut 32:10 as it relates to the revelation at Sinai. A similar idea is expressed by later midrash to the decalogue, from the Pesiqta de Rab Kahana.

Keywords: Exodus; Mekilta's commentary; midrashic passages; Pesiqta de Rab Kahana; Philonic interpretation; rabbinic interpretations; Sifre Deuteronomy; Sinaitic revelation



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