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"The Lord Shall Lift Up His Countenance Upon You" (Numbers 6:26)—An Anti-Christian Polemical Midrash By The Sages?

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Chapter Summary

In their midrashim on the verses of the Bible, the Sages of the Mishnah and Talmud-the Tanaim and Amoraim-often offered interpretations that were far removed from any simple logical, textual or contextual reading of the text. This chapter suggests that both the pseudo-contradiction created by the Sages and the diverse range of explanations they themselves offered to resolve it are connected to the theological polemic that Judaism conducted with early Christianity. One of the principal purposes of midrash was to offer moral and spiritual support to the Jewish people while they had not yet recovered from the religious crisis brought about by the destruction of the Temple and were also suffering from the difficult economic situation under Roman rule.

Keywords: early Christianity; midrash; Rabbinic Judaism; Sages

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