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Moses And The Commandments: Can Hermeneutics, History, And Rhetoric Be Disentangled?

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Chapter Summary

Although the question of Moses' intermediary role in revelation comes up frequently, albeit often only implicitly, in post-biblical literature of Second Temple and early rabbinic times, this chapter focuses on a parallel pair of early midrashic texts that comment on one locus of a larger question, and which have not received the attention they deserve, in part because they have been previously misunderstood and mistranslated. Rabbinic texts specify and celebrate specific acts or rules initiated by Moses on his own, but to which God immediately agrees. In contrast to the preceding traditions, other midrashim emphasize that Qorah's chief complaint against Moses, for which he was killed, was that Moses had instituted commandments on his own, without divine authorization.

Keywords: midrashic text; Moses; Qorah



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