From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Holman Bible Dictionary [1]


Meaning to discover or develop a thought not apparent on the surface, a midrash denotes a didactic (teaching) or homilectic (preaching) exposition or an edifying religious story such as that of Tobit. Midrash also includes a religious interpretation of history, as the prophet Iddo's commentary on the acts, ways, and sayins of King Abijam ( 2 Chronicles 13:22 ) and the Commentary on the Book of the Kings, in which were set forth the burdens laid upon King Joash and his rebuilding of the Temple ( 2 Chronicles 24:27 ). This Jewish method of searching the Scriptures sought to discover the deeper meaning of the most minute details contained in the sacred text. The main characteristics of midrash are: (1) its starting point is an actual text or texts (often two quite different passages are combined) from the Bible itself; (2) is homiletic, essentially designed to edify and instruct; (3) it is based on a close and detailed scrutiny of the actual test, in which it seeks to establish the underlying reasons for each word, phrase, or group of words (compare rabbinical method of systematically applying the question “why”); (4) it is concerned to apply the message thus established to the present age. Midrash is divided into halacha (oral law), midrashic investigation of the lgeal parts of the Old Testament with the aim of establishing rules of conduct, and haggadah , a similar investigation of the nonlegal parts with purpose of edifying or instructing.

Ezra used Midrash in the public reading of the law ( Nehemiah 8:1 ). Midrash became the basic work leading to the production of the Targumin (Aramaic paraphrases of Scripture) and of the mainline expression of Judaism (Mishnah, Talmud). See   Ezra 7:10 ). Many Bible students believe numerous examples of midrash in most, if not all, of its various forms appear in the New Testament. Thus,  Matthew 2:1-12 (the first part of the infancy narrative) is held to be a midrash on   Numbers 24:17 .  Matthew 27:3-10 (the 30 pieces of silver) is regarded as a midrash on   Zechariah 11:12-13 and   Jeremiah 32:6-15 . Midrashic elements are also present in Paul ( Galatians 3:4;  Romans 4:9-11;  2 Corinthians 3:1 ) and other areas of the New Testament. It is important, therefore, for the interpretation of the New Testament to understand the characteristic methods and approach of midrash. The term midrash is also used of the collections of midrashic expositions; or of a manner of religious teaching that follows the midrashic method.

An important use of the Midrash is that it gives the interpreter of Scripture a greater insight into interpretation from a people closer to the original appearance of the Old Testament books, as well as an understanding of the text across history by Jewish people. Stories contained in a midrash may be totally historically accurate or simply a piece of fiction based on history, or even a work of literary fiction without any basis in history.

Midrashic material was preserved orally from its inception for a considerable period. Only after A.D. 100 were the halakic midrashim written down. The most important of these were the Mekilta (treatise) to Exodus and the Sifra (book) on Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The earliest written haggadah was the midrash on Genesis, going back to about A.D. 200 or later. This was followed by the midrashim on the rest of the Pentateuch and the Five Scrolls (Megilloth). These commentaries became known as the Midrash Rabbah, and with later compositions were much favored by the rabbis for homiletical purposes.

Stephenson Humphries-Brooks

Webster's Dictionary [2]

(n.) A talmudic exposition of the Hebrew law, or of some part of it.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [3]

MIDRASH. See Commentary.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [4]

By way of supplement, we add here the following works, belonging to the Midrashic literature:

I. Exegetical.

1. Agadath Bereshith, on Genesis, in eighty-three sections (Venice, 1618). See Zunz, Gottesdienstliche Vortrage, page 256; Steinschneider, Catalogus Librorum Hebr. In Bibl. Bodl. 3727-3729.

2. Moses had Darshan of Narbonne, of the 11th century, wrote annotations on some books of the Bible. Ravmund Martini often quotes him in the Pugio Fidei. See Zunz, u.s. 287-293; Pusey, in Introduction To 53Rd Chapter Of Isaiah, According To The Jewish Interpreters, volume 2 (Oxford, 1877); Neubauer, The Book of Tobit (ibid. 1878), page 7-9, 20- 24.

3. Midrash Hashkem, on the Pentateuch, probably of the 10th century (Zunz, page 281). The part pertaining to Exodus was edited after a Munich MS. by Freimann, also with the Latin title, Vehishir, Opus Continens Midrashim Et Halachoth, etc. (Leipsic, 1873).

4. Midrash Jonah, published at Prague in 1595. See Zunz, pages 270, 271.

II. Halaciic Midrash, viz. Sheeltoth (i.e., questions) of Rabbi Acha of Shabcha (about 750), on laws and usages, as contained in the Pentateuch. Best edition is that published at Dyhrerrnfurth in 1786, with the commentary of Jesaiah Berlin or Pik (q.v.). See Zunz, pages 56, 96, 343; Steinschneider, page 4330.

III. Historical Haggadoth, viz. 1. Seder Olam (q.v.). 2. Megillath Taanith, a calendar containing the non-festive days of the 2d century. Comp. Schmilg, Ueber Entstehung Und Historischen Werth Des. Siegeskalenders Megillath Taanith (Leipsic, 1874). See Braun, Entstehupng Und Werth Der Megillath Taanith, in Gratz, Monatsschrift. 1876, pages 375-384, 410-418. 445-460; Wolf, Bibl. Hebr. 1:68 sq., 384 sq., 2:1375 s.v. 3:1195 sq. 4:1024; Zunz, pages 127, 128; Ewald, Gesch. d. Volkes Israel, 4:497 sq., 7:402 sq.; Gratz, Gesch. d. Juden, 3:415-428; Fiirst, Bibl.  Judges 1:9; Derenbourg, Historie de la Palestine, pages 439-446, giving the text and a French translation.

3. Josippon (q.v.). 4. Sepher Ha-Jashar, a history from Adam to the Judges, written, perhaps, in the 12th century (Venice, 1625). See Zunz, pages 154-156; Steinschneider, pages 3581-3586.

5. Midrash Vayissu, wars of the sons of Jacob with the Canaanites and Esau, printed in Beth ham-Midrash (ed. Jellinek), 3. See Zunz, page 145.

6. Pesach-Hagada, for the Easter festival. See Zunz, page 126; Steinschneider, page 2671.

7. Midrash Petirath Aaron, and 8. Midrash Petiraths Moshe, on the last days of Moses and Aaron. See Zunz, page 146; Steinschneider, pages 3996-4000; Beth ham-Midrash, 1:6.

9. Kethib Eldad Had-Dani (i.e., the Book of Eldad the Danite), towards the end of the 9th century, and containing the fable of the Jews bevond the river Sambation. See Beth ham-Midrash, 2, 3, 4; Steiinschneider, page 4934; Zunz, page 139.

10. Sepher Zerubbabel (q.v.). 11. Abba Gorion treats of the narrative as contained in the Book of Esther, printed in Beth Ham-Midrash, 1. See Zunz, page 279.

12. Megillath Antiochos, on the Wars of the Asmontans. See Zunz, page 134. The Hebrew was often printed, see Steinschneider, pages 1382-1388. The Aramaic text was first published by Filipowski at the end of his Choice of Pearls (London, 1851); then by Sluzki (Warsaw,1863), and by Jellinekin Beth-ham-Midrash, 6. A new edition is in the course of preparation by Charles H. H. Wright, The Megillath Antiochos, a Jewish Apocryphon with the Chaldee Text, etc.

13. Midrash Ele Ezkerah, So called from the first words, "These will I remember,"  Psalms 42:5 (Hebrew text), describes the martyrdom of ten eminent teachers. See Zunz, page 142 a; Steinschneider, pages 3730-3732; Beth Ham-Midrash, 2:6.

IV. Of a purely Legendary character are:

1. Midrash Vayosha, the tradition about Armilus (the Roman antichrist). See Zunz, page 282; Steinschneider, pages 3734-3739; Beth Ham-Midrash, 1.

2. Midrash Esreh Had-Debaroth, on the Ten Commandments. See Zunz, page 142 d; Steinschneider, pages 3751, 4986 s; Beth Kam-Midrash, 1.

3. Chibbur Maasioth (i.e., story-books). See Zunz, page 130 b; Steinschneider, page 3869 sq.; on the numerous Hebrew and Judaeo- German story-books, see ibid. pages 3869-3942.

V. Ethical Midrashim, viz.

1. The Alphabet Of Bensira. (See Sira).

2. Derech Eretz And Derech Eretz Sutta. (See Talmud) (volume 1, page 184).

3. Thanna De Be-Elijahu, a melange from the Bible, Talmud, and Prayer- books, thrown into the form of instructions by the prophet Elijah. See Zunz, pages 112-117; Steinschneider, pages 4111, 4112.

4. Midrash Themura. See Zunz, page 118; Steinschneider, page 3793; Bethham-Midrashi.

VI. Cabalistic, Mystic, Metaphysical, Etc., Midrashim, viz.

1. The Book Jezirah. (See Jezirah).

2. Alphabeth Of Rabbi Akiba. See Zunz, page 168; Steinschneider, pages 3395-3401; Beth ham-Midrash, 3; Lat. transl. by Kircher in his OEdipus AEg. (Rome, 1652), 2:225; Bartolocci, Bibl. Rabbinica, 4:27; Furst, Bibl. Jud. 1:28 sq.

3. The Great And Small Halachoth. See Zunz, pages 166, 167; Steinschneider, pages 3457-3459.

4. Midrash Konen, a kind of romantic cosmology. See Zunz, page 169; Steinschneider, pages 3743-3745; Beth Ham-Midrash, 2.

5. Sepher Raziel (which must be distinguished from a later "Sepher Raziel hag-gadol," a kind of commentary on the book Jezirah). See Zunz, page 187; Steinschneider, page 4042.

Collections of Mia'ashim. Ad. Jellinek, Beth-ham Midrash (volumes 1- 4, Leipsic, 1853-57; 5:6, Vienna, 1873, 1877); Horowitz, Sammlung Kleiner Midraschim (part 1, Frankfort and Berlin, 1881).

Translations of Midrashim. In Latin many are found in Ugolino's Thesaurus Antiquitatum Sacrarum; in German, Wunsche's Bibliotheca Rabbinica comprises the Midrash Rabboth (on the Pentateuch and five Megilloth, i.e., Esther, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, and Ruth), Proverbs, and Pesikta de Rab Kahanah (Leipsic, 1880 sq.). See Plitt-Herzog, Real Encyklop. s.v. (B.P.)

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [5]

mid´rash ( מדרשׁ , midhrāsh ): The Hebrew word corresponding to the King James Version "story" and the Revised Version (British and American) "commentary" in   2 Chronicles 13:22;  2 Chronicles 24:27 . A midrash is properly a story developed for purposes of edification. See Commentary .

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [6]

The earliest Hebrew exposition of the Old Testament; included the Halacha, or development of the legal system on Pentateuchal lines, and the Hagada, a commentary on the whole Scripture, with ethical, social, and religious applications. The name Midrash came to refer exclusively to the latter, in which much fanciful interpretation was mixed with sound practical sense.