Among biblical accounts that invite skepticism, the antediluvian genealogies of Genesis have long attracted attention, with Methuselah famously living close to a millennium and others nearly as long. This study explores an analysis of the issue and its cognates in Revealer of Secrets (Zafenat pa͑neah), a fourteenth-century Torah commentary by Eleazar Ashkenazi that has only recently reentered the light of history. Striking is Eleazar's teaching that Moses composed the chrono-genealogies in Genesis based on sundry traditions that contained “imprecise narrative hyperboles.” Eleazar also suggests that the patriarchal narratives are a “noble ruse” designed to inculcate belief in the world's creation. Eleazar's exploration of the topic provides an entrée into the fertile mind and spirited pen of this barely known late medieval rationalist as well as into an unstudied chapter in the history of Jewish reflection on a challenging biblical crux that evoked much reflection and a rich medley of larger religious themes.
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