1. Chedorlaomer vs. the army of the dead -- in response to this request:
josh, can you help me with ibn-Ezra commentary on Genesis 14-5, why he calls Rephaim deadman, ghosts, because they have no resurrection?
- Lech Lecha sources -- by perek and aliyah in a Mikraos Gedolos, plus more than 100 meforshim on the parsha and haftorah. Further expanded over previous years.
- Should we darshen the run of tevirs on וַיָּבֹא וַיֵּשֶׁב? Birkas Avraham does. But assuming that it is correct (and not an error for darga), how are we to make sense of this trup on a 'peshat' level?
- Peshita on Bereishit perek 12. And perek 13, and fourteen, and fifteen, and sixteen, and seventeen.
- YUTorah on parashat Lech Lecha.
- Avraham did not consume pas akum or stam yeinam, redux -- A while back, in 2006, I considered a dvar Torah that grappled with how Avraham could have eaten pas akum and stam yeinam from the hands of Malkitzedek, and dismissed this sort of concern.
Now I see that this idea was already put forth, in a slightly different form, in Or HaChaim...
- Why doesn't the Torah explicitly relate Avraham's early life? Why is Avraham's early life not mentioned in the Torah? That is, the midrash records a lengthy story about his concealment at birth, smashing his father's idols, being brought before Nimrod, his defiance, and so on and so forth. This is a remarkable story. How come we only first hear of Avraham when he is 75 years old?
- Avraham was 74X the stature of a normal man -- Considering an interpretation of a midrash by Rav Kanievsky. The Midrash: "The man [who lived in Chevron] was the greatest of the giants" (Yehoshua 14:15) -- This refers to our forefather Avraham, whose height was equal to that of seventy-four men. The amount of food and drink he consumed was enough for seventy-four men, and he had the strength of that many men as well.(Concluding Beraita of Masechet Sofrim).
- If Abraham won't come to the mountain... then the mountain will come to Abraham. So explains the Or HaChaim. Plus, other ways of explaining the pasuk, on the level of peshat.
- Does Onkelos render וְאַשְׂמְאִילָה as וְאַצְפְּנָךְ or אֲנָא לְצִפּוּנָא? and the ramifications. It is plausible that Onkelos follows a midrash. Or it could be ataus sofer. I try to explain away the variant.
- Ibn Caspi on the Avos keeping the entire Torah -- He endorses the idea, kind-of. In one instance, as a restrained and coded rejection. In another, as a philosophical co-opting of the idea. Also, Chizkuni and my own approach to understanding the pasuk that sparks all this.
- Sodomites and Procrustes -- A parallel between a midrash and a Greek myth, and what this might mean.
- When did the Sodomites turn evil? Major repercussions, depending on whether it was before or after Lot arrived.
- Hinei Na -- If not now, then when? Na means now! But did he not know beforehand that Sarah was beautiful?
- Avraham Avinu as author of Sefer Yetzira -- Whether hanefesh asher asu beCharan is indicative of this. Did Avraham create golems? Did he create cattle?
- How to spell 'goyim' -- and how I would justify the Masoretic reading. Plus the strange, counter-intuitive vowel pattern provided by the Masorah, and its significance.
- His journey(s) -- when the masorah opposes the Zohar. Ohr Torah has a somewhat dubious resolution (IMHO) in which the Zohar darshens the text as if it was written chaser. I think it is a genuine machlokes.
- How many words are Kedarlaomer? The masorah vs. the gemara. Once again, Ohr Torah has a resolution. And once again, I lean towards thinking that there is a genuine machlokes here.
- Did Rashi darshen a non-existent chaser? Minchas Shai has a pretty strong answer, that this is not the correct girsa of Rashi. Quite plausible, though I am not entirely convinced.
- Did Eliezer, or 318 men, accompany Avraham? It cannot be both! How I would resolve this, and differ from some of Rashi's standard supercommentators.
- Avraham Avinu's kippah -- in which Junior and I disagree over whether Avraham even wore
- The Duplication in Sarah-As-Sister stories -- because this was a standing practice, in many places they went, including a great many that passed without incident.
- Brit Milah as Adopted, Adapted, and Directed Practice Taken from the Egyptians -- Shadal addresses the question that if the Egyptians also practice circumcision, how can it be a sign / covenant for the Israelites? And also deals with a Pheonician myth about Cronus and Uranus, child sacrifice and circumcision, and says this developed from the story about Avraham and Yitzchak.
- As a followup to this 2004 post on vehakenaani az baaretz, this 2008 post about Avraham pursuing as far as Dan, when the area of Dan was not named this until sefer Shofetim. Shadal rejects the idea that this a later addition to chumash; rather, this was another place called Dan. This same concern likely motivates Rashi to say that it was called this via ruach hakodesh.
- What was the name of Lot's wife? And why should we care? First, various answers as to her name. Where does it come from? Is it an extra-Biblical tradition, derived via midrashic methods from the Biblical text, made up in order to convey some message, or to put more focus on a previously minor character? I trace through various sources which discuss her name. Also, whether Lot's wife really turned into a pillar of salt.
This last one really is rooted in Vayera, but Lot's decision to move to Sodom in the first place takes place in Lech Lecha, and comes into play here.
- What Are Avraham's Bowels?
- And how children can come from it. Ibn Ezra's take, and my own take on it.
- How Many People Fought Alongside Avraham?
Eliezer, or 318 people. And how these ideas develop.
- The Perverted Law Code of Nimrod as reference to the code of Hammurabi.
- Avraham's death as proof of the Biblical concept of afterlife, since he did not literally sleep (get buried) with his ancestors.
- How the popular song seems to reference Migdal Bavel, making use of a pasuk from the haftara of Lech Lecha.
- How Shem Lost the Kehuna
- Contrasting Noach's blessing of Shem with Malkitzedek's (=Shem's) blessing of Avraham. We can see in this contrast a possible motivation for Chazal's emphasis on Shem's preceding the blessing of Avraham to the blessing of Hashem, to the effect of Shem's loss of Kehuna.
- Vayavo HaPalit -- A Case Study In Peshat and Derash
- Ibn Ezra vs Rashi. What Rashi surprisingly labels peshat (identifying the palit from the battle as Og), and why it so. And the additional stretch labeling him as a survivor of the flood, as Mishrash. Then Ibn Ezra's take, and why he does not see fit to adopt Chazal's identification of the palit.
- The Avot Keeping Kol HaTorah Kulah -- setam yeinam, pas akum, and lo techanem
- Two divrei Torah giving rather "creative" explanations for how the Avot kept the Torah, despite apparent violations. And these violations are for rather minor things that might have escaped notice. And a discussion as to whether these are meant as creative exercise or seriously.
- How Long After Avraham's Brit did Hashem Appear? How Soon After Sarah Laughed Did She Give Birth to Yitzchak?
- When the season comes around. Is this a full year? Or rather 9 months. Assume the latter, and it resolves an apparent contradiction with an earlier Divine promise for a son. Therefore, a three month interval between the two promises.
- "And I Will Make Your Name Great"
- What is meant by "name?" Explores possibility that it literally means making the name larger by adding the letter heh, and the implications of that interpretation. On a pshat level, it most likely means "renown." Turn to another example, by yibum, where it means "title" to land/inheritance, proved by evidence internal to the text (Rut names her son Oved) and via lexical comparison to a similar phrase by Ephraim and Menashe. Discuss the idea of ain mikra yotzei midei peshuto, and how a gezera shava here uproots the pshat meaning entirely, with an eye to the meaning of the statement in general. Finally, apply this meaning of "name" to a pasuk in Haazinu.
- Avraham's Sacrifice
- Explores when the command to leave his homeland was made, and why the poetic repetition. Compare with the command to bind Yitzchak, and we see Biblical poetry and repetition used to highlight the drama and the difficulty of the request.
- "And the Canaanites were then in the land"
- This statement seems to be looking back from in Eretz Yisrael. How could it have been written by Moshe? Some suggestions.
- Is the Code of Hammurabi the Dina Demalchuta of Avraham?
- Cross-listed for Vayera, this begins in parshat Lech Lecha.
If so, a way in which Avraham kept the Torah, or the Torah of Shem and Ever. Yet the incident in which Sarah offers her maidservant; her insistence of Hagar's demotion back to maidservant despite bearing Avraham a son; and the recognizing of such a child vs. casting out of the house, all have basis in the Code of Hammurabi.
- Avraham's Refusal to the King of Sodom - somewhat political
- Had Avraham taken the gifts, the king of Sodom might have thought he was only in it for the money
- Suggested KedorLaOmer etymology
- as servant of the deity Gomer
- Kings Goofus and Gallant, and the MIGGEN Avraham
- In which Avraham *receives* 10% of the spoils from Malkitzedek, rather than *giving* it to him. If so, we have a contrast to his conduct with the King of Sodom. And an explanation is respective attitudes, a la Goofus and Gallant.
Further, in the aftermath, Hashem is not saying that he will be a shield, but rather a gatherer of wealth. See the post inside.
to be continued...