Jewish thinkers: Rashi - Bible Commentary in Jewish tradition

Miscellaneous vloxas July 25, 2016 0 12
Before we start with the Bible Commentary Rashi we will first consider the interpretation of Scripture within the Jewish tradition. The first Jewish teachers were priests. After the Jewish exile in Babylon was the scribe Ezra. There were priests and Levites engaged in reading and interpreting the Bible. After the canonization of the Bible were the rabbis were the ones who interpret the Bible. They did this on the basis of rules. Well known are the rules of Hillel and a century later Isjmaël of Rabbi and Rabbi Eliezer ben Yose.

Troyes - birthplace of Rashi

Several interpretations

The literal meaning was expanded worth due to multiple interpretations. For example, the homelitical method was used. An example is Isaiah 54:13 which talks about peace of your sons. Sons in Hebrew is baniem. The rabbis made a word game from here: "Bonim. Children are the future builders of the community. Experienced exegetes had been held to ensure that interpretations within limits. The intention was secondary interpretations to learn something, as long as it was not contrary to the literal meaning. Yet the rabbis said that the Torah in 70 different ways can be interpreted. Jeremiah 23:29 is cited as evidence for this:
Is not my word like fire, says the Lord .... like a hammer striking a rock in pieces.

Pardes ?? 4 main ways of reading the Bible

Pardes is the Hebrew word for 'orchard'. The Hebrew letters of the word PRDS. The P stands for pesjat = literal meaning. The R stands for remez = teaching. The D stands for dersaj = homiletic or ethical teaching. The S stands for sod = mystical lesson.
We can, for example Genesis 18: 5 interpret these four ways. Abraham says he wants to go and get bread for his guests so strengthens their hearts.
  • The literal meaning is that Abraham gives food to his guests.
  • The teaching is that Abraham perform the correct procedure he follows as host.
  • The homiletic explanation is that Abraham is only a small piece of promises but nevertheless presents a whole banquet. He is trying to do more than he promises and this characterizes Abraham's goodness.
  • The mystical explanation is that the bread is in fact Torah is teaching ?? the bread of life.

  • Remez, Derasj and Sod are usually displayed as Derasj. The work is known as the Midrash.


    Midrash comes from the verb darasj. The Midrash is written for a thousand years in different countries. It gives an explanation of the Bible. Most of them are non-halachic and is referred to aggadisch. The origin lies in the popular belief in angels, demons, underworld, afterlife, and other supernatural things. The rest consists of moral teachings and lessons in Rabbinic theology.
    When Rashi's Biblical Interpretation are the aggada and Midrash central.

    Christian church ?? non-literal interpretations

    In this context it is good to report that the Christian church from the beginning made use of non-literal meaning of the Bible, in particular the mystical meaning. So try the prophets Christians interpret the Psalms as if there are references to Jesus. Rashi was aware of Jerome's interpretation of the "suffering servant of God" who would refer to Jesus. Rashi comes up with another explanation which is closer to the literal meaning.

    Right balance between pesjat and derasj

    The Masoretes made sure that the balance between literal and non-literal interpretation was maintained. They ensured that no demolition errors in handwritten copies of the Bible. The soferiem counted even the letters of the entire Tanach for verification.
    In addition, there was the polemics with the Karaites that ensured that the literal meaning was maintained. Karaites recognized the Talmud and Jewish rabbis not. The polemics have meant that the Bible was even studied more closely. Prominent leader of the rabbis was Saada Gaon. He defended Judaism against the Karaites means Bible interpretation. His commentary was mostly literal and rational.