JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis Page 17...

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.

xiii INTRODUCTION The Title The Hebrew name for the first book of the Bible is Bereshit— the first word of the book. In rabbinic sources,  this name is sometimes expanded to Sefer Bereshit ( The Book of Bereshit). 1  The practice of naming a book by its opening word or words was widespread in the ancient Near East. Occasionally, other titles for this book were  current among Jews, such as Sefer ha- Yashar ( The Book of theUpright), 2  which refers to the patriarchs, whose lives inform the bulk of thework. 3  A tenth- century C. E. composition, the Dikdukei ha- Te‘ amim ( § 70) by Aaron ben Moses Ben- Asher, mentions “ The Book of Bereshit, the First Book, which is the Sefer ha- Yesharim” ( The Book of the Upright Ones). Still another title, found in medieval manuscripts, is Sefer Beri’at ha-‘ Olam ( The Book of the Creation of the World). The English title Genesis is derived from the Latin version known as the Vul-gate. This, in turn, goes back, via the Old Latin ( pre- 4th cent. C. E.), to the Greek Bible— the Septuagint. A famous manuscript copy, the mid- fifth- century Codex Alexandrinus now in the British Museum, features the title Genesis Kosmou ( The Origin of the Universe). This Greek name may well derive from the pre- Christian Jewish community of Alexandria in Egypt. The shorter, more common, title Gene-sis ( origin) may perhaps be traced to the Greek rendering of the initial clause of 2: 4: “ This is the book of the genesis of heaven and earth.” The Lectionary Divisions Although all present- day editions divide the Book of Genesis into fifty chapters, this practice does not have its roots in Jewish tradition. Rather, it was borrowed from the Christian Bibles by Rabbi Solomon ben Ishmael ( ca. 1330) during a time of medieval religious polemics. The Christian- Jewish debates, which often focused upon the interpretation of scriptural passages, necessitated a common, standardized system of reference. The introduction of these chapter divisions displaced an earlier Jewish system based upon the weekly Torah readings. In Palestine and Egypt, the readings were usually completed in triennial, or three- year, cycles. The Book of Genesis was vari-ously divided into forty- three or forty- five such sedarim, as the lectionaries were called. Eventually, the Babylonian practice of completing the reading of the entire Torah in one year became universal. In this system, Genesis was completed in twelve weeks, each division being known as a parashah ( pl. parashot or parshiyot) or sidra( h) ( pl. sedarot).   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C

JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis


About Book JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis

FRONT MATTERPATRONSTitle PageCopyright PageDedication PageACKNOWLEDGMENTSCONTENTSINTRODUCTIONGLOSSARYLIST OF ABBREVIATIONSMAPSTHE ANCIENT NEAR EASTTHE PATRIARCHAL WANDERINGSTHE COMMENTARY TO GENESISCreationEden and the Expulsion: The Human ConditionReality Outside EdenThe Book of GenealogiesNoah and the FloodEpilogue: The Regeneration and Reordering of SocietyThe Depravity of CanaanThe Table of NationsThe Tower of BabelFrom Shem to Abraham: Transition to the PatriarchsGod's Election of AbrahamAbram's Rescue of LotThe Covenant Between the PiecesSarah, Hagar, and the Birth of IshmaelThe Covenant in the FleshThe Character of Abraham; The Nature of GodThe Destruction of Sodom and GomorrahAbraham, Sarah, and AbimelechThe Akedah: The Binding of IsaacThe Offspring of NahorThe Cave of MachpelahThe Betrothal of IsaacThe Genealogies of AbrahamIsaac, Father of Two NationsThe Adventures of IsaacJacob Purloins the BlessingJacob's Encounter with GodJacob's MarriagesThe Birth of Jacob's ChildrenJacob and Laban: The FinaleJacob and Esau Once AgainReunion and ReturnThe Ravishing of DinahThe Bethel TraditionFamily AffairsThe Line of EsauPrologue to the Joseph StoryJudah and TamarJoseph in Potiphar's HouseholdJoseph in PrisonJoseph's Liberation and Rise to PowerJoseph and His Brothers — Once AgainThe Second Journey to EgyptThe Brothers' Last TrialThe ReconciliationThe Migration to EgyptJoseph's Agrarian PoliciesJacob Prepares for DeathThe Testament of JacobMourning and BurialJoseph and His Brothers: The FinaleNOTES TO THE COMMENTARYEXCURSUSES1. The Cherubim2. The Chronology of the Flood3. The Noachide Commandments4. “Abram the Hebrew”5. Pidyon Shevuyim: “Redemption of Captives”6. Melchizedek7. 'El ‘ Elyon8. Creator of Heaven and Earth”9. Ben Meshek – Dammesek 'Eli‘ ezer10. Angelology11. 'El Shaddai12. Circumcision13. The Cities of the Plain14. Beer-sheba15. The Land of the Philistines16. The Land of Moriah17. The Meaning of the Akedah18. The Akedah in Jewish Tradition19. The Hittites of Hebron20. “God of the Father”21. Jacob: The Moral Issue22. Bethel23. The Twelve Sons and the Twelve Tribes24. Jacob's Struggle with the Angel25. The Name “Israel”26. Shechem27. Ephrath, Rachel's Tomb, and Migdal- eder28. The Edomite King List29. Joseph and Potiphar's Wife30. The Genealogical ListsNOTES TO THE EXCURSUSESWEEKLY TORAH READINGS FROM THE BOOK OF GENESISBe-re'shitNoahLekh LekhaVa-Yera'Hayyei SarahToledotVa-Yetse'Va-YishlahVa-YeshevMikketsVa-YiggashVa-Yehi
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