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Midrash Rabbah, translated into English with…

Midrash Rabbah, translated into English with notes, glossary, and indices…

by Rabbi Dr. H. Freedman

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This is volume 9 of a set of Midrash Rabbah on various books of the Bible. This particular book contains Midrash on Esther and the Song of Songs; the two sections are numbered separately. The first edition was printed in 1939; this copy is the third impression, done in 1961.

In spite of the helpful footnotes, this book feels as if it is best studied with a teacher who can explain what the Rabbis are really getting at. I learned from the book, but would learn more from a person.

One story I particularly liked on page 80:
Chapter VII
1. After these things did King Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha, etc. (III,I). This account bears out what Scripture says, For the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs? (Ps.XXXVII, 20), which are fattened not for their own benefit but for the slaughter. So the wicked Haman was raised to greatness only to make his fall greater. It was like the case of a man who had a sow, a she-ass, and a filly, and he let the sow eat as much as it wanted but strictly rationed the ass and the filly. Said the filly to the ass: 'What is this lunatic doing? To me who do the work of the master he gives food by measure, but to the sow which does nothing he gives as much as she wants.' The ass answered: 'The hour will come when you will see her downfall, for they are feeding her up not out of respect for her but to her own hurt." When the Calends came round, they took the sow and stuck it. When afterwards they set barley before the filly, it began sniffing at it instead of eating. The mother then said to it: 'My daughter, it is not the eating which leads to slaughter but the idleness.' So, because it says, And set his seat above all the princes that were with him, therefore later They hanged Haman (ib. VII, 10).
  raizel | Mar 13, 2014 |
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