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"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the Aggadah, as explained in the Midrashim"

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THE Midrashim are ancient Rabbinical expositions of Holy Writ. The term Midrash (of which Midrashim is the plural form) occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible (2 Chron. Xiii. 22, and xxiv. 27); and in both passages it is represented in the Anglican version by the word "story," while the more correct translation, "commentary," is relegated to the margin. "Legendary exposition" best expresses the full meaning of the word Midrash.

The Midrashim, for the most part, originated in a praiseworthy desire to familiarize the people with Holy Writ, which had, in consequence of changes in the vernacular, become to them, in the course of time, almost a dead letter. These Midrashim have little or nothing to do with the Halachoth or legal decisions of the Talmud, except in aim, which is that of illustration and explanation. They are not literal interpretations, but figurative and allegorical, and as such enigmatic. They are, however, to be received as utterances of the sages, and some even regard them of as binding obligation as the law of Moses itself. The following are fairly representative extracts.

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THE name of Abraham always precedes those of Isaac and Jacob except in one place (Lev. xxvi. 42), where it is said, "And I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham will I remember;" and thus we learn that all were of equal importance.

Midrash Rabbah, Gen. chap. 1.

In the Selichoth for the Day of Atonement the above reversal of the usual order of the names of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is thus referred to: "The first covenant Thou didst exalt, and the order of the contracting parties to it Thou hast reversed."

Abraham deserved to have been created before Adam, but the Holy One--blessed be He!--said, "Should he pervert things as I make them, then there will be no one to rectify them; so behold I will create Adam first, and if he should make things crooked, then Abraham following him will make them straight again."

Ibid., chap. 14.

Abram was called Abraham, and Isaac was also called Abraham; as it is written (Gen. xxv. 19), "Isaac, Abraham's son, Abraham.'

Ibid., chap. 63.

"And he lay down in that place" (Gen. xxviii. 4). Rabbi Yuda said, "There he lay down, but he did not lie down during all the fourteen years he was hid in the house of Eber." Rabbi Nehemiah said, "There he lay down, but he did not lie down all the twenty years in which he stood in the house of Laban."

Ibid., chap. 68.

Vayash Kihu, "And kissed him" (Gen. xxxiii. 4), Rabbi Yanai asks, "Why is this word (in the original Hebrew) so pointed?" "It is to teach that Esau did not come to kiss him, but to bite him"; only the neck of Jacob our father became as hard as marble, and this blunted the teeth of the wicked one." "And what is taught by the

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expression 'And they wept'?" "The one wept for his neck and the other for his teeth."

Midrash Rabbah, chap, 78.

Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai in Sifri deliberately controverts this interpretation, and Aben Ezra says it is an "exposition fit only for children."

Esau said, "I will not kill my brother Jacob with bow and arrow, but with my mouth I will suck his blood," as it is said (Gen. xxxiii. 4), "And Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and they wept." Read not "and he kissed him," but read, "and he bit him." The neck of Jacob, however, became as hard as ivory, and it is respecting him that Scripture says (Cant. vii. 5), "Thy neck is as a tower of ivory,"--so that the teeth of Esau became blunted; and when he saw that his desire could not be gratified, he began to be angry, and gnashed his teeth, as it is said (Ps. cxii. 10), "The wicked shall see it and be grieved; he shall gnash with his teeth."

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 36.

See also the previous quotation from the Midrash Rabbah. The Targum of Jonathan and also the Yerushalmi record the same fantastic tradition. In the latter it is given thus, "And Esau ran to meet him, and hugged him, and fell upon his neck and kissed him. Esau wept for the crushing of his teeth, and Jacob wept for the tenderness of his neck."

Abraham made a covenant with the people of the land, and when the angels presented themselves to him, he thought they were mere wayfarers, and he ran to meet them, purposing to make a banquet for them. This banquet he told Sarah to get prepared, just as she was kneading cakes. For this reason he did not offer them the cakes which she had made, but "ran to fetch a calf, tender and good." The calf in trepidation ran away from him and hid itself in the cave of Machpelah, into which he followed it. Here he found Adam and Eve fast asleep, with lamps burning over their couches, and the place pervaded with a sweet-smelling odor. Hence the fancy he took to the cave of Machpelah for a "possession of a burying-place."


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Shechem, the son of Hamor, assembled girls together playing on tambourines outside the tent of Dinah, and when she "went out to see them," he carried her off. . . . and she bare him Osenath. The sons of Jacob wished to kill her, lest the people of the land should begin to talk scandal of the house of their father. Jacob, however, engraved the holy Name on a metal plate, suspended it upon her neck, and sent her away. All this being observed before the Holy One--blessed be He!--the angel Michael was sent down, who led her to Egypt, into the house of Potipherah; for Osenath was worthy to become the wife of Joseph.

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 48.

In Yalkut Yehoshua 9, Osenath is styled a proselyte; and indeed it might seem likely enough that Joseph induced her to worship the true God. The Targum of Jonathan agrees with the version of the Midrash above, while another tradition makes Joseph marry Zuleika, the virgin widow of Potiphar, and says that she was the same woman that is called Osenath (Koran, note to p. 193).

When Joseph's brethren recognized him, and were about to kill him, an angel came down and dispersed them to the four corners of the house. Then Judah screamed with such a loud voice that all the walls of Egypt were leveled with the dust, all the beasts were smitten to the ground, and Joseph and Pharaoh, their teeth having fallen out, were cast down from their thrones; while all the men that stood before Joseph had their heads twisted round with their faces toward their backs, and so they remained till the day of their death; as it is said (Job iv. 10), "The roaring of the lion (Judah), and the voice of the fierce lion," etc.

Vayegash, chap. 5.

The tradition of a legend in our possession says that Judah killed Esau. When? When Isaac died, Jacob and (the chiefs of) the twelve clans went to bury him; as it is written (Gen. xxxv. 29), "And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him." In the Midrash it is, "And Esau and Jacob and his sons buried him," which fits the legend better. Arrived at the cave, they entered it, and they stood and wept. The (heads of the) tribes, out of respect to Jacob, left the cave, that Jacob might not be put to shame in their presence. Judah re-entered it, and finding {p. 240} Esau risen up as if about to murder Jacob, he instantly went behind him and killed him. But why did he not kill him from the front? Because the physiognomy of Esau was exactly like that of Jacob, and it was out of respect to the latter that be slew Esau from behind.

Midrash Shochar Tov, chap. 18.

Tradition varies respecting the tragic end of Esau. The Book of Jasher (chap. 56, v. 64) and the Targum of Jonathan (in Vayechi) both say that Cushim the son of Dan slew Esau at the burial, not of Isaac, but of Jacob, because he sought to hinder the funeral obsequies, disputing the title to the sepulchre.

"Oh, that I had wings like a dove! for then I would fly away, and be at rest" (Ps. lv. 6). This is spoken of Abraham. But why like a dove? Rabbi Azariah, in the name of Rabbi Yudan, says, "Because all birds when tired rest on a rock or on a tree, but a dove, when tired of flying, draws in one wing to rest it, and continues her Right with the other."

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 39.

The Holy One--blessed be He!--said unto Abraham, "What should I tell thee? and with what shall I bless thee? Shall I tell thee to be perfectly righteous, or that thy wife Sarah be righteous before me? That ye both are already. Or shall I say that thy children shall be righteous? They are so already. But I will bless thee so that all thy children which shall in future ages come forth from thee shall be just like thee." Whence do we learn this? From Gen. xv. 5: "And he said unto him, So (like thee) shall thy seed be."

Bamidbar Rabbah, chap. 2.

"Every man . . . by his own standard" (Num. ii. 2). The several princes of Israel selected the colors for their banners from the color of the stones that were upon the breastplate of Aaron. From them other princes have learned to adorn their standards with different distinguishing colors. Reuben had his flag red, and leaves of mandrakes upon it. Issachar had his flag blue, and the sun and moon upon it. Naphtali had on his flag an olive tree, for this reason that (Gen. xlix. 20) "Out of Asher his bread shall be fat."

Ibid., chap. 7.

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"And Abraham rose up early and saddled his ass" (Gen. xii 3). This is the ass on which Moses also rode when he came into Egypt; for it is said (Exod. iv. 20), "And Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them upon an ass." This is the ass on which the Son of David also shall ride; as it is said (Zech. ix. 9), "Poor, and riding upon an ass."

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 31.

In the morning service for Yom Kippur, there is an allusion to the Scripture passage with which our quotation opens. It is said that Abraham in "his great joy perverted the usual order," which a footnote explains thus--"In the greatness of his joy, that he had thus an opportunity of showing his obedience to God, he set aside the usual order of things, which was that the servant should saddle the ass, and saddled the ass himself, as mentioned Gen. xxii. 3." The animal referred to in the above remarks is spoken of in Sanhedrin, fol. 98, col. 1, as being of a hundred colors.

When Joseph saw the signs of Judah's anger, he began to tremble, and said (to himself), "Woe is me, for he may kill me!" And what were these signs? Tears of blood rolling down from Judah's right eye, and the hair that grew on his chest rising and penetrating through the five garments that he wore. Joseph then kicked the marble seat on which he was sitting, so that it was instantly shattered into fragments. Upon this Judah observed, "He is a mighty man, like one of us."

Yalkut Vayegash.

Abraham married three wives--Sarah, a daughter of Shem; Keturah, a daughter of Japheth; and Hagar, a daughter of Ham.

Yalkut, Job, chap. 8.

Rashi supposes that Keturah was one and the same with Hagar--so the Midrash, the Targum Yerushalmi, and that of Jonathan, The latter says, "Keturah, she is Hagar, who had been bound to him from the beginning," but Aben Ezra and most of the commentators contend that Keturah and Hagar are two distinct persons, and the use of the plural concubines, in verse 6, bears them out in this assertion.

The Holy One--blessed be He!--daily proclaims a new law in the heavenly court, and even all these were known to Abraham.

Ibid., chap, 37-

A Gentile once asked Rabbi Yoshua ben Kapara, "Is it true that ye say your God sees the future?" "Yes," was

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the reply. "Then how is it that it is written (Gen. vi. 6), 'And it grieved Him at His heart'?" "Hast thou," replied the Rabbi, "ever had a boy born to thee?" "Yes," said the Gentile; "and I rejoiced and made others rejoice with me." "Didst thou not know that he would eventually die?" asked the Rabbi. "Yes," answered the other; "but at the time of joy is joy, and at the time of mourning, mourning?" "So it is before the Holy One--blessed be He!--seven days he mourned before the deluge destroyed the world."

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 27.

All the strength of the soul's mourning is from the third to the thirtieth day, during which time she sits on the grave, still thinking her beloved might yet return (to the body whence she departed). When she notices that the color of the face is changed, she leaves and goes away; and this is what is written (Job. xiv. 22), "But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul shall mourn over him?" Then the mouth and the belly quarrel with one another, the former saying to the latter, "All I have robbed and taken by violence I deposited in thee;" and the latter, having burst three days after its burial, saying to the former, "There is all thou hast robbed and taken by violence! as it is written (Eccles. xii. 6), 'The pitcher is broken at the fountain.'"

Ibid., chap. 100.

Job said, "Even the devil shall not dissuade me from comforting those that mourn; for I would tell him that I am not better than my Creator, who comforts Israel; as it is said (Isa. li. 12), 'I, even I, am He that comforteth you.'"

Psikta Nachmu.

Once Rabbi Shimon ben Yebozedek addressed Rabbi Sh'muel ben Nachman and said, "I hear that thou art a Baal Aggadah; canst thou therefore tell me whence the light was created?" "We learn," he replied in a whisper, that God wrapped Himself with light as with a garment, and He has caused the splendor thereof to shine from one end of the world to the other." The other said, "Why whisperest thou, I wonder, since Scripture says so plainly (Ps. civ. 2) 'Who covereth Himself with light as with a

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garment'?" The reply was, "I heard it in a whisper, and in a whisper I have told it to thee."

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 3.

"As the tents of Kedar" (Cant. i. 5). As the tents of the Ishmaelites are ugly without and comely within, so also the disciples of the wise, though apparently wanting in beauty, are nevertheless full of Scripture, and of the Mishnah and of the Talmud, of the Halacha and of the Aggadoth.

Shemoth Rabbah, chap. 23.

"Write thou these words" (Exod. xxxiv. 37). That applies to the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, which were given in writing, but not to the Halachoth, the Midrashim, the Aggadoth, and the Talmud, which were given by the mouth.

Ibid., chap. 47.

Rabbi Samlai said to Rabbi Yonathan, "Instruct me in the Aggada." The latter replied, "We have a tradition from on forefathers not to instruct either a Babylonian or a Daromean in the Aggada, for though they are deficient in knowledge they are haughty in spirit."

Tal. Yerushalmi P'sachim, v. fol. 32, col. 1.

He who transcribes the Aggada has no portion in the world to come; he who expounds it is excommunicated; and he who listens to the exposition of it shall receive no reward.

Tal. Yerushalmi P'sachim, Shabbath, xvi. fol. 30, col. 2.

"Day unto day uttereth speech" (Ps. xix. 2, 3, 4); this means the Law, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa." And night unto night showeth knowledge; "this is the Mishnaioth." There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard;" these are the Halachoth. "Their line is gone out through all the earth;" these are the Aggadoth, by which His great name is sanctified.

T. debei Aliahu, chap. 2.

Rabbi Yeremiah, the son of Elazar, said, "When the Holy One--blessed be He!--created Adam, He created him an androgyne, for it is written (Gen. v. 2), "Male and female created He them." Rabbi Sh'muel bar Nachman said, "When the Holy One--blessed be He!--created Adam, He created him with two faces; then He sawed him

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asunder, and split him (in two), making one back to the one-half, and another to the other."

Midrash Rabbah, chap. 8.

"And it repented the Lord that He had made man (Adam) on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart)" (Gen. vi. 6). Rabbi Berachiah says that when God was about to create Adam, He foresaw that both righteous people and wicked people would come forth from him, He reasoned therefore with Himself thus: "If I create him, then will the wicked proceed from him; but if I do not create him, how then shall the righteous come forth?" What then did God do? He separated the ways of the wicked from before Him, and assuming the attribute of mercy, so He created him. This explains what is written (Ps. i. 6), "For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall be lost." The way of the wicked was lost before Him, but assuming to Himself the attribute of mercy, He created him. Rabbi Chanina says, "It was not so! But when God was about to create Adam, He consulted the ministering angels and said unto them (Gen. i. 26), 'Shall we make man in our image after our likeness?' They replied, 'For what good wilt thou create him?' He responded, 'That the righteous may rise out of him.' This explains what is written, 'For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked shall be lost.' God informed them only about the righteous, but He said nothing about the wicked, otherwise the ministering angels would not have given their consent that man should be created."

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 8.

Rabbi Hoshaiah said, "When God created Adam the ministering angels mistook him for a divine being, and were about to say, 'Holy! holy! holy!' before him. But God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, so that all knew he was only a man. This explains what is written (Isa. ii. 22), 'Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils; for wherein is he to be accounted of'?"


Rabbi Yochanan saith, "Adam and Eve seemed as if they were about twenty years old when they were created."

Ibid., chap. 14.

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Rav Acha said when God was about to create Adam He consulted the ministering angels, and asked them, saying, "Shall we make man?" They enquired, "Of what good will this man be?" He replied, "His wisdom will be greater than yours." One day, therefore, He brought together the cattle, the beasts, and the birds, and asked them the name of them severally, but they knew not. He then caused them to pass before Adam, and asked him, "What is the name of this and the other?" Then Adam replied, "This is an ox, this is an ass," and so on. "And thou, why is thy name Adam?" (i. e. in Hebrew, man). "I ought to be called Adam," was his reply, "for I was created from Adamah" (the ground). "And what is My name?" "It is meet Thou shouldst be called Lord, for Thou art Lord over all Thy creatures." Rav Acha says, "'I am the Lord, that is My name' (Isa. xlii. 8). (That is My name which Adam called Me.)"

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 17.

Rabba Eliezer says Adam was skilled in all manner of crafts. What proof is there of this? It is said (Isa. xliv. 11), "And the artisans, they are of Adam."

Ibid., chap. 24.

'And the Lord said, I will destroy man" (Gen. vi. 7) Rabbi Levi, in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, says that even millstones were destroyed. Rabbi Yuda, in the name of Rabbi Yochanan, declares even the very dust of Adam was destroyed. Rabbi Yuda, in the name of Rabbi Shimon, insists that even the (resurrection) bone of the spine, from which God will one day cause man to sprout forth again, was destroyed.

Ibid., chap. 28.

Concerning the bone, the os coccygis, there is an interesting story in Midrash Kohelet (fol. 114, 3), which may be appropriately inserted here. Hadrian (whose bones may they be ground, and his name blotted out) once asked Rabbi Joshua ben Chanania, "From what shall the human frame be reconstructed when it rises again?" "From Luz in the backbone," was the answer. "Prove this to me," said Hadrian. Then the Rabbi took Luz, a small bone of the spine, and immersed it in water, but it was not softened; he put it into the fire, but it was not consumed; he put it into a mill, but it could not be pounded; he placed it upon an anvil and struck it with a hammer, but the anvil split and the hammer was broken. (See also Zohar in "Genesis," 206, etc. etc.)

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"A window shalt thou make to the ark" (Gen. vi. 16). Rabbi Amma says, "It was a real window." Rabbi Levi, on the other hand, maintained that it was a precious stone, and that during the twelve months Noah was in the ark he had no need of the light of the sun by day nor of the moon by night because of that stone, which he had kept suspended, and he knew that it was day when it was dim, and night when it sparkled.

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 31.

The transparency, ascribed to the ark, has given rise to various conjectures. The idea of Rabbi Levi, that it was a precious stone, has the sanction of the Targum of Jonathan; which volunteers the additional information that the gem was found in the river Pison.

Noah was deficient in faith, for he did not enter the ark till the water was up to his ankles.

Ibid., chap. 32.

"And he sent forth a raven" (Gen. viii. 7). The raven remonstrated, remarking, "From all the cattle, beasts, and fowls thou sendest none but me." "What need has the world for thee?" retorted Noah; "thou art good neither for food nor for sacrifice." Rabbi Eliezer says God ordered Noah to receive the raven, as the world would one day be in need of him. "When?" asked Noah. "When the waters are dried up from off the earth, there will in a time to come arise a certain righteous man who shall dry up the world, and then I shall want it." This explains what is written (1 Kings xvii. 6), "And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning." Ibid., chap. 33.

At the time God said to the serpent, "Upon thy belly thou shalt go" (Gen. iii. 14), the ministering angels descended and lopped off his hands and his feet. Then his voice was heard from one end of the world to the other. Bereshith Midrash Rabbah, chap. 20.

When God said to the serpent, "And upon thy belly thou shalt go" (Gen. iii. 4), the serpent replied, "Lord of the universe! if this be Thy will, then I shall be as a fish of the sea without feet." But when God said to him, "And dust shalt thou eat," he replied, "If fish eat dust, then I also will eat it." Then God seized hold of the serpent and tore his tongue in two, and said, "O thou wicked one! thou hast commenced (to sin) with thy evil tongue;

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thus I will proclaim it to all that come into the world that it was thy tongue that caused thee all this."

Letters of Rabbi Akiva.

"And Noah only remained" (Gen. vii. 23), except Og, king of Bashan, who sat on a beam of the ladders (which projected from the ark), and swore to Noah and his sons that he would be their slave forever. Noah made a hole in the ark through which he handed to Og his daily food. Thus he also remained, as it is said (Deut. iii. 11), "For only Og, king of Bashan, remained."

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 23.

"Unto Adam and his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins" (Gen. iii. 21), viz, to cover their nakedness; but with what? With fringes and phylacteries, "Coats of skins," viz, the leathern straps of the phylacteries; "and they sewed fig-leaves" (Gen. iii. 7), viz, fringes; "and made themselves aprons," this means the proclaiming of the Shema, "Hear, O Israel," etc.

Yalkut Chadash.

The aprons, which some (as Rashi, for instance) take to denote furs, the Targum of Jonathan says were made "from the skin of the serpent." The wardrobe of Adam afterward came into the possession of Esau and Jacob (see Targ. Yon. in Toledoth, and p. 199, No. 161, ante).

All the presents which our father Jacob gave to Esau will one day be returned by the nations of the world to the Messiah, and the proof of this is (Ps. lxxii. 10), "The kings of Tarshish and the isles shall return presents." It is not written here, "They shall bring," but they shall restore or return.

Midrash Rabbah Vayishlach, chap. 78.

A philosopher once posed Rabbi Eliezer with the question, "Does not the prophet say (Mal. i. 4), 'They shall build, but I will throw down'? and do not buildings still exist?" To which the Rabbi answered, "The prophet does not speak of buildings, but of the schemes of designers. Ye all think to contrive and build up devices, to destroy and make an end of us, but He bringeth your counsels to nought. He throweth them down, so that your devices against us have no effect." "By thy life," said the philosopher, "it is even so; we meet annually for the purpose of

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compassing your ruin, but a certain old man comes and upsets all your projects" (namely, Elijah).

Yalkut Malachi.

When Israel came out of Egypt, Samael rose to accuse them, and thus he spoke: "Lord of the Universe! these have till now worshiped idols, and art Thou going to divide the sea for such as they?" What did the Holy One--blessed be He!--then do? Job, one of Pharaoh's high counselors, of whom it is written (Job i. 1), "That man was perfect and upright," He took and delivered to Samael, saying, as He did so, "Behold, he is in thy hand; do with him as thou pleasest." God thought to divert his evil designs by keeping him thus occupied with Job, that Israel meanwhile might cross the sea without any hindrance, after which He would return and rescue Job from his tender mercies. God then said to Moses, "Behold I have delivered Job to Satan; make haste. Speak unto the children of Israel that they go forward" (Exod. xiv. 15).

Midrash Rabbah Shemoth, chap. 21.

No man ever received a mite (in charity) from Job, and needed to receive such a second time (because of the good luck it brought along with it).


A superstitious belief prevails to some extent in Poland, among the Christian population as well as the Jews, that coins obtained in certain circumstances bring luck apart altogether from any virtue they may be supposed to convey from the giver. A penny obtained, for instance, the first thing in the morning, by stumbling on it in the street, by the sale of an article in the market, or by gift of charity, is considered to bode luck, and cherished as a pledge of good fortune by being slightly spat upon several times on receipt, and then carefully stowed away, for a longer or shorter period, in some safe sanctum. Job was the luckiest man that ever lived; his very goats even were so lucky as to kill the wolves that came to devour them; and a beggar, as we see, who received a mite from his hands, never needed afterward to beg an alms from him again. (See "Genesis according to the Talmud," p. 288, No. 16.)

"And Saul said unto the Kenites, Go, depart, etc.; for ye showed kindness to all the children of Israel" (1 Sam. xv. 6). And did they show kindness to all the children of Israel? No; but what is written is to teach that he who receives a disciple of the wise as a guest into his

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house, and gives him to eat and to drink, is as if he had shown kindness to all the children of Israel.

Midrash Sh'muel, chap. 18.

Rabbi Levi says, "When Solomon introduced the ark into the Temple, all the woodwork thereof freshened with sap and began to yield fruit, as it is said (Ps. xcii. 13), 'Those that be planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.' And thus it continued to bear fruit, which abundantly supplied the juveniles of the priestly caste till the time of Manasseh; but he, by introducing an image into the Temple, caused the Shechinah to depart and the fruit to wither; as it is said (Nah. i. 4), 'And the flower of Lebanon languisheth.'"

Midrash Tillin Terumah.

The land of Israel is situated in the centre of the world, and Jerusalem in the centre of the land of Israel, and the Temple in the centre of Jerusalem, and the Holy of holies in the centre of the Temple, and the foundation-stone on which the world was grounded, is situated in front of the ark.

Midrash Tillin Terumah, Kedoshim.

In Ezek. v. 5 we read, "I have set Jerusalem in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her." On the literal interpretation of these words it was asserted that Jerusalem was the very centre of the world, or, as Jerome quaintly called it, "the navel of the earth." In the Talmud we find a beautiful metaphor in illustration of this view. It is in the last six lines of the ninth chapter of Derech Eretz Zuta, which read thus: "Issi ben Yochanan, in the name of Shemuel Hakaton, says, 'The world is like the eyeball of man; the white is the ocean which surrounds the world, the black is the world itself, the pupil is Jerusalem, and the image in the pupil is the Temple. May it be built in our own days, and in the days of all Israel! Amen!'" The memory of this conceit is kept alive to this day among the Greek Christians, who still show the sacred stone in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem. This notion is not confined to Jewry. Classic readers will at once call to mind the appellation Omphalos or navel applied to the temple at Delphi (Pindar, Pyth., iv. 131, vi. 3; Eurip. Ion., 461; Æsch. ChÅ“ph., 1034; Eum. 40, 167; Strabo, etc.).

Two sparks issued from between the two cherubim and destroyed the serpents and scorpions and burned the thorns in the wilderness. The smoke thereof, rising and spreading,

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perfumed the world, so that the nations said (Cant. iii. 6), "Who is this that cometh out of the wilderness like pillars of smoke, perfumed," etc.

Ibid., Vayakhel.

Better to lodge in the wilderness of the land of Israel than dwell in the palaces outside of it.

Midrash Rabbah, chap. 39.

"And give thee a pleasant land" (a coveted land) (Jer. iii. 19). Why is it called a coveted land? Because the Temple was in it. Another reason why it was so called is, because the fathers of the world have coveted it. Rabbi Shimon ben Levi says, "Because they (who are buried) there will be the first to be raised in the days of the Messiah."

Shemoth Rabbah, chap. 32.

"When the Lord thy God shall enlarge thy border, as He hath promised thee" (Deut. xii. 20). Rabbi Yitzchak said, "This scroll no man knows how long and how broad it is, but when unrolled it speaks for itself, and shows how large it is. It is so with the land of Israel, which, for the most part, consists of hills and mountains; but when the Holy One--blessed be He!--shall level it, as it is said (Isa. xl. 4), 'Every valley shall be raised and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth,' then shall that land speak, as it were, for herself, and its extent stand revealed."

Devarim Rabbah, chap. 4.

Blessed are they who dwell in the land of Israel, for they have no sin, no iniquity, either in their lives or in their deaths.

Midrash Shochar Tov on Ps. lxxxv.

"Better is a dry morsel and quietness therewith" (Prov. xvii. i). This, saith Rabbi, means the land of Israel, for even if a man have nothing but bread and salt to eat, yet if he dwells in the land of Israel he is sure that he is a son of the world to come. "Than a house full of sacrifices with strife." This means the outside of the land, which is full of robbery and violence. Rabbi Y----- says, "He who walks but an hour in the land of Israel, and then dies within it may feel assured that he is a son of the world to come; for it is written (Deut. xxxii. 43), "And his earth shall atone for his people.'"

Midrash Mishle.

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See also the Talmud, Kethuboth, fol. 111, col. 1. Dr. Benisch renders "and make expiation for His ground and His people." The Targums of Jonathan and the Yerushalmi have, "He will make atonement for His land and for His people;" and Onkelos puts it thus, "He will show mercy unto His land and His people." Our rendering, however, is in accordance with the sense given to it in the Talmud. There are Jews who travel about the world with bags of earth from the Holy Land, which they sell in small quantities for high prices to such as can afford it, and believe in its virtue as a protection against the worms of the grave.

Jerusalem is the light of the world; as it is said, "And the Gentiles shall come to Thy light" (Isa. lx. 3). And the light of Jerusalem is the Holy One--blessed be He!--as it is written, but "the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light" (Isa. lx. 19).

Bereshith Rabbah, chap. 59.

Ten portions of wisdom, ten portions of the law, and ten portions of hypocrisy are in the world; nine portions of each are in the land of Israel and one outside of it.

Midrash Rabbah Esther.

"And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, saith the Lord" (Isa. lxvi. 23). But how is it possible that all flesh shall come every new moon and Sabbath to Jerusalem? Rabbi Levi saith, "In the future Jerusalem will be as the land of Israel, and the land of Israel will be as the whole world." But how will they come from the end of the world every new moon and Sabbath? "The clouds will come and carry them and bring them to Jerusalem, where they will per form their morning prayer, and will carry them back to their several homes; and this is the meaning of the prophet's saying (Isa. Ix. 8), 'Who are these that fly as a cloud (in the morning), and as the doves to their windows (in the evening)?'"


"He stood and measured the earth" (Hab. iii. 6). Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai expounded "He stood and measured" thus: "The Holy One--blessed be He!--measured all the nations, and He found none worthy to receive the law except the generation in the wilderness. He

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measured all the mountains, and He found none on which to give the law except Mount Sinai. He measured all cities, and found none in which to build the Temple except Jerusalem. He measured all lands, and found none worthy to be given unto Israel except the one now called the land of Israel. This it is that is written, "He stood up and measured the earth."

Vayekra Rabbah, chap. 13.

"I went down to the bottoms of the mountains" (Jonah ii. 6). From this we learn that Jerusalem is situated on seven hills. The world's "foundation-stone" sank to "the depths" under the Temple of the Lord, and upon this the sons of Korah stand and pray. (They) pointed this out to Jonah. The fish said unto him, "Jonah, behold thou art standing under the Temple of the Lord; therefore pray, and thou shalt be answered."

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 10.

"And there went out fire from the Lord" (Lev. x. 2). Abba Yossi saith, "Two threads of fire came out from the Holy of holies, and these were disparted into four: two entered the nostrils of the one (i. e., Nadab), and two entered the nostrils of the other (i. e., Abihu), and thus consumed them. Their souls were burned, but not their garments; for it is said, 'So they went near, and carried them in their coats'" (ver. 5).

Torath Cohanim, sec. Shemini.

Rabbi Jacob teaches that he who has no wife abideth without good, without help, without joy, without blessing or atonement, to which Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi adds, (yea) also without peace or life. Rabbi Cheya says that he is not a perfect man, for it is said, "And blessed them and called their name man" (Gen. v. 2), where both are spoken of together as one man.

Midrash Rabbah Bereshith, chap. 17.

"My beloved is like a roe" (1 Cant. ii. 9.). As a roe leaps and skips from bush to bush, from covert to covert, from hedge to hedge, so likewise does the Holy One--blessed be He!--pass from synagogue to synagogue, and from academy to academy, that He may bless Israel.


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(Cant. v. i), "I came into My garden," the synagogues and academies; "My sister, My spouse," the congregation of Israel; "I have gathered My myrrh with My spice," the Bible (that is); "I have eaten My honeycomb with My honey" (this means) the Halachoth, Midrashoth, and Aggadoth; "I have drank My wine with My milk," this alludes to the good works which are reserved for the sages of Israel. After that, "Eat, O friends! drink, yea, drink freely, O beloved!"

Yalkut Eliezer, fol. 41, col. 2.

When Solomon brought the ark into the Temple and said, "Lift up your heads, O ye gates! and the King of glory shall come in," the gates were ready to fall upon him and crush his head, and they would have done so if he had not said at once, "The Lord of hosts, He is the King Of glory" (Ps. xxiv. 9, 10). The Holy One--blessed be He!--then said to the gates, "Since ye have thus honored Me, by your lives! when I destroy My Temple, no man shall have dominion over you!" This was to inform us that while all the vessels of the Temple were carried into captivity, the gates of the Temple were stored away on the very spot where they were erected; for it is said (Lam. ii. 9), "Her gates are sunk into the ground."

Midrash Rabbah Devarim, chap. 15.

We are reminded of this tradition in the conclusion service for Yom Kippur, where we repeat, "Speedily thou shalt open the hidden gates to those who hold fast Thy law." The allusion is to "the gates of the Temple," which "are supposed to be sunk in the ground."

Rabbi Akiva once met on a journey a remarkably ugly man toiling along under a great load of wood. Rabbi Akiva said unto him, "I adjure thee to tell me whether thou art a man or a demon." "Rabbi," said he, "I was once a man, and it is now some time since I left the world. Day after day I have to carry a load like this, under which I am obliged to bow down, and submit three times a day to be burned," Then Rabbi Akiva asked him, "What was the reason of this punishment?" and the reply was, "I committed an immorality on the Day of Atonement." The Rabbi asked him if he knew of anything by which he might obtain for him a remission of his punishment. {p. 254} "I do," was the answer. "When a son whom I have left behind me is called up to the (public) reading of the law, and shall say, 'Blessed be the blessed Lord,' I shall be drawn out of hell and taken into Paradise." The Rabbi noted down the name of the man and his dwelling-place, whither he afterward went and made inquiries about him. The people of the place only replied, "The name of the wicked shall rot" (Prov. x. 7). Notwithstanding this, the Rabbi insisted, and said, "Bring his son to me." When they brought him, he taught the lad to repeat the blessing, which he did on the ensuing Sabbath at the public reading of the law; upon which his father was immediately removed from hell to Paradise. On the self-same night the father repaired direct to Rabbi Akiva, and gratefully expressed his hope that the Rabbi's mind might be as much at rest as his own was.

Midrash Assereth Hadibroht.

There are three things which a man does not wish for: Grass to grow up among his grain-crops; to have a daughter among his children; or that his wine should turn to vinegar. Yet all these three are ordained to be, for the world stands in need of them. Therefore it is said, "O Lord, my God, Thou art very great! . . . He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle" (Ps. civ. 1, 14).

Midrash Tanchuma.

There are four cardinal points in the world, etc. The north point God created but left unfinished; for, said He, "Whoever claims to be God, let him come and finish this corner which I have left, and thus all will know that he is God." This unfinished corner is the dwelling-place of the harmful demons, ghosts, devils, and storms.

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 3.

A Min once asked Rabbi Akiva, "Who created this world?" "The Holy One--blessed be He!"--was the reply. "Give me positive proof of this," begged the other. "Come to-morrow," answered the Rabbi. On coming the next day, the Rabbi asked, "What are you dressed in?" "in a garment," was the reply. "Who made it?" asked the Rabbi. "A weaver," said the other. "I don't believe thee," said the Rabbi; I give me a positive proof of this." {p. 255} "I need not demonstrate this," said the Min; "it stands to reason that a weaver made it." "And so thou mayest know that God created the world," observed the Rabbi. When the Min had departed, the Rabbi's disciples asked him, "What is proof positive?" He said, "My children, as a house implies a builder, and a garment a weaver, and a door a carpenter, so likewise the existence of the world implies that the Holy One--blessed be He!--created it."

Midrash Terumah.

When the Holy One--blessed be He!--created the world, it was a level expanse free from mountains; but when Cain slew Abel his brother, whose blood was trodden down on the earth, He cursed the ground, and immediately hills and mountains sprang into existence.

Midrash Vayosha.

"The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude" (Deut. i. 10). Why did He bless them with stars? As there are degrees above degrees among these stars, so likewise are there degrees above degrees among Israel. Again, as these stars are without limit, without number, and of great power from one end of the world to the other, so likewise is Israel. (Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 41.)

Midrash Rabbah Devarim.

"Flee, my beloved" (A. V. "make haste," Cant. viii. 14). When Israel eat and drink, and bless and praise the Holy One--blessed be He!--He hearkeneth to their voice and is reconciled; but when the Gentiles eat and drink and blaspheme and provoke the Holy One--blessed be He!--He has a mind to destroy His world, until the Law enters and pleads in defense, "Lord of the universe! before Thou regardest those that blaspheme, look and behold Thy people Israel, who bless, and praise, and extol Thy great Name, with the Law, and with songs and with praises!" And the Holy Spirit shouts "Flee, my beloved! flee from the Gentiles, and hold fast to Israel!"

Midrash Rabbah Shir-Hashirim.

Rabbon Gamaliel called on Chilpa, the son of Caroyna, when the latter asked the Rabbi to pray on his behalf; and

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be prayed, "The Lord grant thee according to thine own heart (Ps. xx. 4). Rabbi H-----, son of Rabbi Isaac, said, It was not so; he prayed thus, "The Lord fulfill all thy petitions); for a man often thinks in his heart to steal or commit some other transgression, and therefore "The Lord grant thee according to thine own heart," is a prayer not to be offered on behalf of every man." But the answer was, "His heart was perfect before his Creator, and therefore he did so pray on his behalf."

Midrash Shochar Tov, 20.

Thou wilt find that whithersoever the righteous go a blessing goes with them. Isaac went down to Gerar, and a blessing followed him. "Then Isaac sowed," etc. (Gen. xxvi. 12), Jacob went down to Laban (Gen. xxx. 27), and Laban said, "I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake." Joseph went down to Potiphar, and the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake (Gen. xxxix. 5). Thus also thou wilt find it was with the ark which came down to the house of Obed-edom, etc. (2 Sam. vi. 11). Our forefathers came into the land and a blessing followed at their heels, as it is said (Deut. vi. 11), "And houses full of good things," etc.

Yalkut Ekev.

"And the Lord put a word in Balaam 's mouth" (Num. xxiii. 5). An angel took up his seat in Balaam's throat, so that when he wished to bless, the angel permitted him, but when he desired to curse, the angel tickled his throat and stopped him. "Word" in this place means simply an angel; as it is said (Ps. cvii. 20), "He sent His word and healed them." Rabbi Yochanan says, "There was an iron nail in his throat which permitted him when he wished to bless, but rasped his throat and prevented him when about to curse." "Word" in this place means only an iron nail; for it is said (Num. xxxi. 23), "Every thing (or word, for the original has both meanings) that may abide the fire."


Rabbi Avin said four kinds of excellency were created in the world: (1.) Man's excellency over the animal kingdom; (2.) the eagle's excellency over the feathered tribes;

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(3.) the excellency of the ox over domestic cattle; and (4.) the lion's excellency over the wild beasts. All were fixed under the chariot of God; as it is said (Ezek. i. 10), "As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, the face of a lion, the face of an ox, and the face of an eagle." And why all this? In order that they should not exalt themselves, but know that there is a kingdom of heaven over them; and on this account it is said (Eccles. v. 8), "He that is higher than the highest regardeth, and there be higher than they." This is the meaning of Exod. xv. 1: "He hath triumphed gloriously."

Midrash Shemoth, chap. 23.

No man in Israel despised himself more than David when the precepts of the Lord were concerned, and this is what he said before God (Ps. cxxxi. 1, 2), "'Lord, my heart was not haughty' when Samuel anointed me king. 'Nor were mine eyes lofty' when I slew Goliath. 'Neither did I exercise myself in matters too great and wonderful for me' when I brought up the ark. 'Have I not behaved myself, and hushed my soul, as a babe that is weaned of his mother?' As a child which is not ashamed to uncover himself before his mother, so have I likened myself before Thee, in not being ashamed to depreciate myself before Thee for Thy glory," etc. (See 2 Sam. vi. 20, 21.)

Bamidbar, chap. 4.

"I sleep, but my heart waketh" (Cant. V. 2). The Synagogue of Israel says "I sleep" with regard to the end of days, "but my heart waketh" with regard to the redemption; "I sleep" with regard to redemption, but the heart of the Holy One--blessed be He!--waketh to redeem me.

Midrash Shir Hashirim.

Rabbi Ishmael saith all the five fingers of the right hand of the Holy One of Israel--blessed be He!--are severally the efficient causes of redemptions. (1.) With His little finger He pointed out to Noah how to construct the ark; as it is said (Gen. vi. 15), "And thus thou shalt make it." (2.) With the finger -next to the little one He smote the Egyptians; as it is said (Exod. viii. 19), "This is the finger of God." (3.) With the third finger from the little

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one He wrote the tables; as it is said (Exod. xxxi. 18), "Tables of stone written by the finger of God." (4.) With the fourth finger, that which is next the thumb, the Holy One--blessed be He!--pointed out to Moses how much the Israelites should give as a ransom for their souls; as it is said (Exod. xxx. 13), "This shall they give." (5.) With the thumb and the whole hand the Holy One-blessed be He!--will in the future destroy the children of Esau, for they oppress the children of Israel, as also the children of Ishmael, for they are their enemies; as it is said (Micah v. 9), "Thine hand shall be uplifted upon thy adversaries, and all thy enemies shall be cut off."

Pirke d'Rab. Eliezer, chap. 48.

"For Mine own sake, for Mine own sake, will I do it (Isa. xlviii. 11). Why this repetition? The Holy One --blessed be He!--said, "As I redeemed you when you were in Egypt for My name's sake"--(Ps. cvi. 8), "He saved them for His name's sake,"--"so in like manner will I do it from Edom for My own name's sake. Again, as I redeemed you in this world, so likewise will I redeem you in the world to come;" for thus He saith (Eccles. i. 9), "The thing that hath been is that which shall be" (Isa. li. 11); "The redeemed of the Lord shall return;" not the redeemed of Elijah, nor the redeemed of the Messiah, but "the redeemed of the Lord."

Midrash Shochar Tov Tehillim, 107.

"Her children are gone into captivity before the enemy" (Lam. i. 5). Rabbi Isaac saith, "Come and see how greatly beloved are the children!" The Sanhedrin were exiled, but the Shechinah was not exiled with them. The Temple guards were exiled, but the Shechinah was not exiled with them. But with the children the Shechinah also was exiled. This is that which is written (Lam. i. 5, 6), "Her children are gone, . . . and from the daughter of Zion all her beauty (i. e., the Shechinah) is departed."

Midrash Rabbah Eicha.

"How doth the city sit solitary!" (Lam. i. 1). Three have, in prophesying, made use of this word "How"--Moses, Isaiah, and Jeremiah. Moses said (Deut. i. 12), "How can I myself bear your cumbrance!" Isaiah said

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(Isa. i. 21), "How is the faithful city become an harlot!" Jeremiah said (Lam. i. 1), "How doth the city sit solitary!" Rabbi Levi saith, "The thing is like to a matron who has three friends; one saw her in her prosperity, another saw her in her dissipation, and the third saw her in her pollution. So Moses saw Israel in their glory and prosperity, and he said, "How can I myself bear your cumbrance!" Isaiah saw them in their dissipation, and he said, "How is the faithful city," etc.; and Jeremiah saw them in their pollution, and he said, "How doth the city sit solitary!"

Midrash Rabbah Eicha.

Hezekiah saith the judgment in Gehenna is six months' heat and six months' cold.

Midrash Reheh.

Gehenna has sixteen mouths, four toward each cardinal point. The Gentiles say, "Hell is for Israel, but Paradise is for us." The Israelites say, "Ours is Paradise."

Midrash Aggadath Bereshith.

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zachai says, that coming once upon a man who was gathering wood, he addressed him, but at first he made no reply. Afterward, however, he came up and said, "Rabbi, I'm not a living man, but a dead one." "If thou art a dead man," said I, "what is this wood for?" He replied, "When I was alive upon earth, I and an associate of mine committed a certain sin in my shop, and when we were taken thence, we were sentenced to the punishment of mutual burning; so I gather wood to burn him, and he does the same to burn me." I then asked him, "How long are you to be punished thus?" He re plied, "When I came here my wife was enceinte, and I know she gave birth to a boy. May I beg thee, therefore, to see that the child is instructed by a teacher, for as soon as he is able to repeat, "Bless ye the blessed Lord!" I shall be brought up hence and be free from this punishment in hell."

Tanu d'by Eliyahu.

Rabbi Berachia saith, "In order that the Minim, apostates, and wicked Israelites might not escape hell on account of their circumcision, the Holy One-blessed be He!--sends an angel to undo the effects of it, and they straightway descend to their doom. When Gehenna sees

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this, she opens her mouth and licks them." This is the purport of (Isa. v. 14), "And she opened her mouth to those without law" (i. e., to those without the sign of the covenant).

Midrash Rabbath Shemoth, chap. 19.

"God hath also set the one over against the other" (Eccles. vii. 14), i. e., the righteous and the wicked, in order that the one should atone for the other. God created the poor and the rich, in order that the one should be maintained by the other. He created Paradise and Gehenna, in order that those in the one should deliver those in the other. And what is the distance between them? Rabbi Chanina saith the width of the wall (between Paradise and Gehenna) is a handbreadth.

Yalkut Koheleth.

"Those passing through the valley of weeping make it a well; also blessings shall cover the teacher" (Ps. lxxxiv. 6, A. V.). "The valley of weeping" is Gehenna. "Make it a well," for their tears are like a well or spring. "Also blessings shall cover the teacher." Rabbi Yochanan saith, "The praises of God that ascend from Gehenna are more than those that ascend from Paradise, for each one that is a step higher than his neighbor praises God, and says, 'Happy am I that I am a step higher than the one below me.' 'Also blessings shall cover the teacher,' for they will acknowledge and say, 'Ye have taught well, and ye have instructed well, but we have not obeyed.'"

Yalkut Tehillim, 84.

Those of the house of Eliyahu have taught that Gehenna is above the sky, but some say it is behind the mountains of darkness.

Tanu d'by Eliyahu.

Gehenna was created before Paradise; the former on the second day and the latter on the third.


In T. B. P'sachim, fol. 54, col. 1, it is said that the reason of the omission of the words, "And God saw that it was good," in respect to the second day of the creative week, was because hell-fire was then created; but see the context.

When Adam saw (through the Spirit) that his posterity would be condemned to Gehenna, he disobeyed the precept to procreate. But when he perceived that after twenty-six

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generations the Israelites would accept the law, he bestirred himself in compliance; as it is said (Gen. iv. i), Adam vero cognovit uxorem suam Hevam. {And Adam 'knew' his wife Eve--jbh}


"And the souls they had gotten in Haran" (Gen. xii. 5). These are they who had been made proselytes. Who ever attracts a Gentile and proselytizes him is as much as if he had created him. Abraham did so to men and Sarah to women.

Bereshith Midrash Rabbah.

"Sing and rejoice" (Zech. ii. 10). The Holy One--blessed be He!--will in the future bring all the proselytes that were proselytized in this world, and judge all the nations of the world in their presence. He will say to them, "Why have ye left Me and served idols, which are nothing?" They will reply and say, "Had we applied at Thy door, Thou wouldst not have received us." Then will He say to them, "Let the proselytes that were made from among you come forward and testify against you."


These are the pious female proselytes--Hagar, Osenath, Zipporah, Shiphrah, Puah, the daughter of Pharaoh (Bathia), Rahab, Ruth, and Jael.

Yalkut Yehoshua, 9.

"The Lord keepeth the proselytes" (Ps. cxlvi. 9). "I esteem it a great compliment on the part of the proselyte to leave his family and his father's house and come to Me. Therefore I on My part will command respecting him (Deut. x. 19), 'Love ye therefore the proselyte.'"

Midrash Shochar Tov, 146.

"I am a God near at hand)" (Jer. xxiii. 23). "I am He who drew Jethro near, and did not keep him at a distance"; therefore thou also when a man comes to be proselytized in the name of Heaven, draw him near, do not repulse him or keep him at a distance. From this thou art to learn that while one repulses with the left hand he is to draw with the right, and not as Elisha did. (He repulsed Gehazi with both hands.)

Yalkut Jeremiah.

Showers of rain are greater than the giving of the Law, for the giving of the Law was a gladsome event to Israel only, but rain is a cause of joy to the wide world, including cattle, beasts, and fowls.

Midrash Shochar Tov, 117

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David was a shepherd of Israel, and the Shepherd of David was the Holy One--blessed be He!--as it is said (Ps. xxiii. x), "The Lord is my Shepherd."

Midrash Rabbah, chap. 59.

Rav Pinchas says, "David in the Psalms calls five times upon the Holy One--blessed be He!--to arise. (1.) 'Arise, O Lord; save me, O my God!' (Ps. iii. 7). (2.) 'Arise, O Lord, in Thine anger!' (Ps. vii. 6). (3.) 'Arise, O Lord, let not man prevail!' (Ps. ix. 19). (4.) 'Arise, O Lord; O God, lift up Thine hand: forget not the humble!' (Ps. x. 12). (5.) 'Arise, O Lord; disappoint him!' But the Holy One--blessed be He!--said unto David, 'My son, though thou call upon Me many a time to arise, I will not arise. But when do I arise? When thou seest the poor oppressed and the needy sighing, then will I arise.'" This explains what is written (Ps. xii. 5), "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the Lord."

Bamidbar Rabbah, chap. 75.

"And Solomon's wisdom excelled" (1 Kings iv. 30)Thou findest that when Solomon desired to build the Temple he sent to Pharaoh Necho a request to send him artisans on hire. Pharaoh assembled his astrologers, who pointed out to him such artisans as were destined to die in the course of that year, and these he despatched to Solomon; but he, through the Holy Ghost, seeing the fate that impended, provided each of them with a shroud and sent them back to Pharaoh with the message, "Hast thou no shrouds in which to bury thine own dead? Behold here I have provided them with them!" "For he was wiser than all men" (1 Kings iv. 31) "than all men,)" even than the first man, Adam.

Yalkut Eliezer, fol. 65, col. 2, n- 36.

"Ye are My witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God" (Isa. xliii. 12). Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai expounds these words thus, "If ye are My witnesses, then I am God; but if ye are not My witnesses, then I am not God."

Yalkut Jethro, n. 271.

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"Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter" (Eccles. xii. 13). Thou shalt ever hear the Law, even when thou dost not understand it. "Fear God," and give thy heart to Him. "And keep His commandments," for on account of the Law the whole world was created, that the world should study it.

Koheleth, as given in Tse-enah Ure-enah.

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