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Exodus in Rabbinic Interpretation

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Chapter Summary

This chapter surveys the first millennium of rabbinic interpretation of Exodus, from second through the early thirteenth centuries CE. It divides the study of rabbinic interpretation of Exodus into two separate segments: the first on the narrative, or as it is called in rabbinic parlance, aggadic midrash or interpretation; and the second on the legal, or halakhic midrash. In order to survey the vast amount of rabbinic material, the aggadic text is divided into three separate sections. The chapter surveys Exod 1 to sample a broad variety of rabbinic interpretations, from the earliest textual evidences through the thirteenth century. It then surveys some of the rabbinic traditions about the Moses narratives of Exod 2-11. The chapter considers select texts regarding the narrative of the exodus itself: Exod 12-19. It covers the legal interpretations of the so-called "schools" of the early rabbinic interpreters Rabbi Aqiba and Rabbi Ishmael.

Keywords: aggadic midrash; Exodus; halakhic midrash; Rabbi Aqiba; Rabbi Ishmael; rabbinic interpretation of Exodus



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