DEBARIM RABBAH:(Redirected from DEUTERONOMY RABBAH.)
A Midrash or homiletic commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy. Unlike Bereshit Rabbah, the Midrash to Deuteronomy which has been included in the collection of the Rabbot in the ordinary editions does not contain running commentaries on the text of the Bible, but twenty-five complete, independent homilies, together with two fragmentary ones, on as many sections of Deuteronomy, which for the larger part are recognized as "sedarim," the Sabbatical lessons for public worship according to the Palestinian three-year cycle. The index to the rabbinical Bible (Venice, 1525) gives twenty-seven sedarim in Deuteronomy; on nineteen of these there are homilies in the present Midrash, as well as a fragment, which, according to the editions, belongs to another seder (Deut. xxix. 9). It may be due to differences of time and place in the division of the cycle of sedarim that in the Debarim Rabbah there are no homilies on seven or eight of the sedarim. mentioned in that index—namely, Deut. xi. 10, xiv. 1, xv. 7, xxiii. 10, xxiii. 22, xxiv. 19, xxvi. 1, and occasionally and conditionally xxix. 9—and that, besides a homily on a section mentioned in other sources as a seder (Deut. iv. 25), there are five additional homilies on the sections Deut. i. 10, iv. 7, xi. 26, xxiv. 9, and xxix. 1, which were not otherwise known as sedarim. In some of these homilies, moreover, the halakic exordiums (see below) close with the words
The economy of this Midrash containing sedarim homilies on Deuteronomy, as well as the character of the individual homilies, could easily have been misconstrued and forgotten after the division of the Torah into pericopes according to the one-year cycle had come into general use. In present editions Debarim Rabbah is divided only according to these latter pericopes; it was not noticed that the homilies on
According to its original composition, this Midrash includes the following homilies (the passages marked with an asterisk are sedarim):Analysis of Contents.
(1) Parashah i. Nos. 1-9 (according to the Wilna ed.), on * Deut. i. 1; (2) ib. Nos. 10-14, on Deut i. 10; (3) ib. Nos. 15-20, on *Deut. ii. 2; (4) ib. Nos. 21-25, on *Deut. ii. 31; (5) par. ii. Nos. 1-9, on *Deut. iii. 23; (6) ib. Nos. 10-17, on Deut. iv. 7; (7) ib. Nos. 18-24, on *Deut. iv. 25; (8) ib. Nos. 25-30, on *Deut. iv. 41; (9) ib. Nos. 31-37, on *Deut. vi. 4; (10) par. iii. Nos. 1-7, on *Deut. vii. 12; (11) ib. Nos. 8-11, on *Deut. ix. 1; (12) ib. Nos. 12-17, on *Deut. x. 1; (13) par. iv. Nos. 1-5, on Deut. xi. 26; (14) ib. Nos. 6-11, on *Deut. xii. 20; (15) par. v. Nos. 1-7, on *Deut. xvi. 18; (16) ib. Nos. 8-11, on *Deut. xvii. 14; ib. Nos. 12-15, on *Deut. xx. 10; (18) par. vi. Nos. 1-7, on *Deut. xxii. 6; (19) ib. Nos. 8-14, on Deut. xxiv. 9; (20) par. vii. Nos. 1-7, on *Deut. xxviii. 1; (21) ib. Nos. 8-12, on Deut. xxix. 1; (par. viii. No. 1, merely a halakic exordium, doubtful if belonging to *Deut.xxix.9); (22) par. viii. Nos. 2-7, on *Deut. xxx. 11: (23) par. ix. Nos. 1-9, on *Deut. xxxi. 14; (24) par. x. Nos. 1-4, on *Deut. xxxii. 1; (25) par. xi. Nos. 1-5, and probably 7-8, on Deut. xxxiii. 1 (ib.. No. 6 is an interpolated second halakic exordium; No. 8 probably closes the homily and the Midrash, the remaining pieces being additions borrowed from the "Midrash on the death of Moses").
These homilies, which in a new edition of the Midrash should be marked as its proper components, evince a great regularity of workmanship in their composition and execution. Each homily begins with a halakic exordium, has one or more proems, followed by the commentary—in which, however, only the first verse, or a few verses from the beginning of the section read, are treated—and ends with an easily recognizable peroration containing a promise of the Messianic future or some other consolatory thought, all concluding with a verse of the Bible. The comments referring only to the first verses of the lesson characterize Debarim Rabbah as a Midrash of homilies in which even the proems are rather independent homilies than introductions to the comment on the Scriptural section; and the exordiums show, further, that Debarim Rabbah is very similar to the Tanḥuma Midrashim. In the halakic exordium (an essential of the haggadic discourse which is found neither in Pesiḳta and Wayiḳra Rabbah nor in Bereshit Rabbah) an apparently irrelevant legal question is put, and answered with a passage from the Mishnah (about twenty times) or Tosefta, etc. Such answers are generally introduced in Debarim Rabbah by the formula
The stylistic manner of opening the discourse with a halakic question is so closely connected with the original Midrash Tanḥuma, however, that in consequence of the introductory formula
It is curious that while in Debarim Rabbah every homily has a halakic exordium, in the extant Tanḥuma Midrashim the part on Deuteronomy is without any (the Tanhuma edited by Buber lacks the exordiums to Exodus also). It would be erroneous to conclude from this, however, that the present Debarim Rabbah must be identified with Tanḥuma, and Tanḥuma to Deuteronomy with Debarim Rabbah, or that Debarim Rabbah as well as the Tanḥuma Mirdash in the editions to Deuteronomy, and several other Midrashim to Deuteronomy of which fragments have been published in modern times, or from which quotations are found in old authors, have all borrowed from the original Yelamdenu. If the designation "Tanḥuma homilies" be given to the homilies described above, consisting of halakic introductions, proems, comments on various verses, etc., modeled on the form of the Yelamdenu Tanḥuma, and if the latter was also the model for the haggadic discourses in the centuries immediately following Tanḥuma, it may be said that Debarim Rabbah contains these homilies in a much more primitive form and also in a more complete collection than the Midrash Tanḥuma to Deuteronomy in Buber's and the earlier editions; for these editions (as Theodor has shown in his "Die Midraschim zum Pentateuch," in "Monatsschrift," 1886, pp. 559 et seq.) are extant in a very defective form, treat much fewer sedarim than Debarim Rabbah, and, are with few exceptions, only shorter or longer fragments of sedarim homilies.
In view of the form of the homilies and the composition of the whole work, which lend to Debarim Rabbah the appearance of a Tanḥuma Midrash, it is not strange that passages from this Midrash are quoted, in some citations of earlier authors (in the thirteenth century and later), as belonging to Tanḥuma. Textually, Debarim Rabbah has little in common with the Tanḥuma Midrashim on Deuteronomy, either in the editions or in the extracts from Tanḥuma in Yalḳuṭ or from Yelamdenu in Yalḳuṭ and Aruk. Some halakic questions found also in Tanḥuma in homilies on Genesis, Exodus, and Leviticus are quite differently applied and developed in the exordiums of Debarim Rabbah. This Midrash, in its use of the old sources, such as Yerushalmi, Bereshit Rabbah, and Wayiḳra Rabbah, often shows a freer treatment, and endeavors to translate Aramaic passages into Hebrew and to modernize them.Probable Date.
As regards the time of writing or editing the Debarim Rabbah, "the epoch of the year 900" comes, according to Zunz, "perhaps" nearest the mark. The Midrash was not known either to R. Nathan, the author of the 'Aruk, or to Rashi (the passage in a citation quoted by the latter is not found in Debarim Rabbah). A large number of extracts are found in Yalḳuṭ, generally with the designation of the Midrash
The same name is given to the Midrash on Deuteronomy in Cod. Munich, No. 229; this contains for the first pericope,
- See Bibliography to Bereshit Rabbah;
- on Debarim Rabbah especially, compare Zunz, G. V. pp. 251-253;
- Weiss, Dor, iii. 268, iv. 210 et seq.;
- Buber, Einleitung zum Tan. pp. 20b et seq., 40a, and
V04p488017.jpg, Vienna, 1885;
- Theodor, in Monatsschrift, 1886, p. 559; 1887, pp. 35, 321 et seq.;
- Epstein, Beiträge zur Jüdische Alterthumskunde, pp. 57, 76 et seq.;
- idem, in Bet Talmud, year V.;
- Winter and Wünsche, Die Jüdische Litteratur, i.;
- Bacher. Ag. Pal. Amor. iii. 504 et seq.;
- Maybaum, Die Aeltesten Phasen in der Entwickelung der Jüd. Predigt, pp. 2, 42 et seq., Berlin, 1901.