מדרשי תימן: בין ישן לחדש

Translated title of the contribution: Emenite Midrashic Literature: Between Old and New

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The Yemenite midrashim on the Pentateuch are probably the most important literary works of medieval Yemenite Jewry, reflecting its way of life and its approach to Torah study. The Torah midrashim written in Yemen belong to two distinct periods: those compiled between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, and those compiled between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, and they differ in fundamental ways. Whereas the former group concentrates on peshat (the plain meaning of the text), aggadah and halakhah, the latter inclines toward remez (the symbolic understanding of Scripture), kabbalah, and esoteric biblical exegesis. Moreover, whereas the texts of the earlier group derived from ancient sources written in Hebrew and Arabic, with their authors allowing themselves to use non-Jewish sources, those of the latter relied solely on Hebrew sources. The new midrashim composed in Yemen between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries were composed under the influence of printed biblical interpretations. All the early midrashim were pushed aside because of these new interpretations, which blurred the peshat element and replaced it with esoteric, symbolic, and allegorical features. Some midrashim, however, can clearly be located in an intermediate transition phase between the classic and the new periods. Their typical feature is that the peshat interpretation and explanations based on esoteric, symbolic, and kabbalistic sources are found side by side. Their language is a mixture of Hebrew and Arabic in varying measures; Talmudic homilies and explanations by R. Saadia Gaon, Maimonides, and Spanish scholars share the page with gematria (numerology) and Kabbalah. The three midrashim described in this article: R. Avraham ben Shlomo’s commentary on the early and later prophets, the composition Sho`el U-Meshiv, and an anonymous midrash on the Torah written at the beginning of the 16th century, represent the transitional stage between the classic and the later Yemenite Midrash.
Translated title of the contributionEmenite Midrashic Literature: Between Old and New
Original languageHebrew
Pages (from-to)215-244
Number of pages30
Journalמדעי היהדות
Volume54
StatePublished - 2019

IHP Publications

  • ihp
  • Bible -- Former prophets
  • Bible -- Later prophets
  • Bible -- Pentateuch
  • Jews -- Yemen (Republic)
  • Midrash
  • אברהם בן שלמה -- מצנעא
  • יהודי תימן
  • מדרש (פרשנות המקרא)
  • תנ"ך. נביאים אחרונים
  • תנ"ך. נביאים ראשונים
  • תנ"ך. תורה

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Emenite Midrashic Literature: Between Old and New'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this