Publisher:  Varda Books
Original Publisher:  The Jewish Publication Society
Published:  2003
Language:  English
Pages:   427

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About the Book

The JPS Torah Commentary series guides readers through the words and ideas of the Torah. Each volume is the work of a scholar who stands at the pinnacle of his field.

Varda Books" electronic edition of this monumental series makes maximum use of cutting-edge modern publishing technology to make it much easier for those who use these Commentaries to work with them.

While keeping overall typographic style of the original, Varda Books had remove Hebrew text and English translation from the books themselves. Instead, Varda Books had linked commentaries to its Scholar PDF edition of JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (can be purchased separately).  When one clicks on any biblical reference in any Commentary"s books,  JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh pop-ups in separate window in the proper place, thus saving enormous amount of time for those who truly want to understand the text. In addition, all intra-book references are hyperlinked and endnote marks are linked to endnotes and back.

Produced in enhanced PDF format, this edition of JPS Torah Commentaries is searchable one volume at the time as well as collectively with other Vardabooks as well as JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh. 

Students, scholars and translators of the Bible will appreciate these and many other time-saving features as well as the fact that each volume also contains supplementary essays that elaborate upon key words and themes, a glossary of commentators and sources, extensive bibliographic notes, and maps. Like endnotes, these elements of the text are hyperlinked as well.











Creation 3

Eden and the Expulsion: The Human Condition 16

Reality Outside Eden 30 The Book of Genealogies 40

Noah and the Flood 47

Epilogue: The Regeneration and Reordering of Society 58

The Depravity of Canaan 61

The Table of Nations 65

The Tower of Babel 79

From Shem to Abraham: Transition to the Patriarchs 84

God's Election of Abraham 87

Abram's Rescue of Lot 101

The Covenant Between the Pieces 111

Sarah, Hagar, and the Birth of Ishmael 118

The Covenant in the Flesh 122

The Character of Abraham; the Nature of God 127

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah 132

Abraham, Sarah, and Abimelech 137

The Akedah: The Binding of Isaac 145

The Offspring of Nahor 149

The Cave of Machpelah 151

The Betrothal of Isaac 156

The Genealogies of Abraham 163

Isaac, Father of Two Nations 169

 The Adventures of Isaac 175

Jacob Purloins the Blessing 181

Jacob's Encounter with God 186

Jacob's Marriages 190

The Birth of Jacob's Children 194

Jacob and Laban: The Finale 200

Jacob and Esau Once Again 209

Reunion and Return 213

The Ravishing of Dinah 217

The Bethel Tradition 222

Family Affairs 226

The Line of Esau 229

Prologue to the Joseph Story 235

Judah and Tamar 244

Joseph in Potiphar's Household 252

Joseph in Prison 257

Joseph's Liberation and Rise to Power 260

Joseph and His Brothers—Once Again 269

The Second Journey to Egypt 274

The Brothers' Last Trial 278

The Reconciliation 282

The Migration to Egypt 285

Joseph's Agrarian Policies 292

Jacob Prepares for Death 294

The Testament of Jacob 301

Mourning and Burial 318

Joseph and His Brothers: The Finale 320



1. The Cherubim 353

2. The Chronology of the Flood 354

3. The Noachide Commandments 354

4. "Abram the Hebrew" 355

5. Pidyon Shevuyim: "Redemption of Captives" 357

6. Melchizedek 358

7. 'El ‘Elyon 358

8. "Creator of Heaven and Earth" 359

9. Ben Meshek-Dammesek 'Eli‘ezer 360

10. Angelology 361

11. 'El Shaddai 361

12. Circumcision 362

13. The Cities of the Plain 365

14. Beer-sheba 366

15. The Land of the Philistines 367

16. The Land of Moriah 368

17. The Meaning of the Akedah 369

18. The Akedah in Jewish Tradition 371

19. The Hittites of Hebron 372

20. "God of the Father" 373

21. Jacob: The Moral Issue 374

22. Bethel 375

23. The Twelve Sons and the Twelve Tribes 377

24. Jacob's Struggle with the Angel 380

25. The Name "Israel" 381

26. Shechem 382

27. Ephrath, Rachel's Tomb, and Migdal-eder 384

28. The Edomite King List 385

29. Joseph and Potiphar's Wife 386

30. The Genealogical Lists 387



Bere'shit 3

Noah 47

Lekh Lekha 87

Va-Yera' 127

Hayyei Sarah 151

Toledot 169

Va-Yetse' 186

Va-Yishla.h 209

Va-Yeshev 235

Mikkets 260

Va-Yiggash 281

Va-Yehi 294


An Excerpt from the Book

21. When Joseph was a slave in Potiphar's household "God was with him" and gave him success in his work, thereby enabling him to win his master's favor. Here in prison he is at the lowest point of his fortunes, forlorn and helpless. According to the tradition in Psalms 105:17–18, Joseph's feet were placed in fetters and an iron collar was put around his neck. God is again "with him," but Joseph has no opportunity as yet to prove himself. He first needs divine hesed (see Comment to 24:12) to gain the prison keeper's favor.

22. The chief jailer The jailer, who is responsible to the chief steward (cf. 40:3f.), gives Joseph administrative duties not here specified (cf. vv. 3, 11).

23. This verse parallels verses 3 and 6.


Joseph in Prison (vv. 1–23)

1. Some time later An indefinite statement. See Comments to 51:1 and 21:1. We may calculate that Joseph is now twenty-eight years old, for we know that in another two years, when he appears before Pharaoh, he is then thirty./1/ Eleven years have elapsed since his sale into slavery; but we have no way of determining how many of those years he spent in the service of Potiphar and how many in prison.

the cupbearer. . . the baker  The next verse identifies them as the respective chief officials of their professions in the royal household. Since the cupbearer is crucial to the narrative, he is always mentioned first. The cupbearer was an important official in the Egyptian court. Because of the sensitivity of his position—he personally served wine to the king—his loyalty in what was a perpetually intrigue-ridden household had to be beyond reproach. Ready access to the monarch could make a savvy cupbearer a trusted advisor and place him in a position of great influence. Egyptian documents testify to the wealth and power of such officials.

the king of Egypt This title (so v. 15), in place of the otherwise invariable mention of Pharaoh, takes up the point of 39:20.

gave offense  The details, being irrelevant to the narrative, are ignored.

2. The specific mention of the two men, following the general statement regarding the officials, may be intended as an indication that the offenses of the twowere separate and distinct. This explains why they eventually received different treatment at the hands of Pharaoh.

3. in custody  Hebrew be-mishmar, that is, in temporary detention pending final disposition of their case. /2/

4. The chief steward That is, Joseph's own master, on whose estate the prison was situated. The cupbearer later characterizes Joseph as "a servant of the chief

steward." /3/

When . . . for some time Literally, "There were days. . . ." Hebrew yamim may indicate indefinite time /4/ or "a year." In the latter case, as their confinement

ended on the royal birthday, their offenses could have been committed in connection with the celebration of the preceding birthday, as Shadal suggests.