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Legends of the Jews

by Louis Ginzberg

Bibliographic information

TitleLegends of the Jews
AuthorLouis Ginzberg
PublisherVarda Books
Publication Date2003
SubjectTorah (Oral)
Pages1522


Description 

New Page 7

A most remarkable and comprehensive compilation of stories connected to the Hebrew Bible.

It is an indispensable reference on that body of literature known as Midrash, the imaginative retelling and elaboration on Bible stories in which mythological tales about demons and magic co-exist with moralistic stories about the piety of the patriarchs.

Legends is the first book to which one turns to learn about the postbiblical understanding of a biblical episode, or to discover the source for biblical legends that cannot be traced directly to the Bible. It is also the first place to find the answers to such questions as: on what day was Abraham born; what was Moses" physical appearance, or what was the name of Potiphar"s wife.

Launched in 1901 by The Jewish Publication Society, the original project began as a single volume of 1,000 pages but grew much larger by 1938, when the seventh volume containing the indexes was finally published.

Louis Ginzberg was 28 years old when Henrietta Szold, secretary of the Society, prepared the contract for what was conceived as a small, popular volume on Jewish legends. As the scion of two distinguished rabbinical families, Ginzberg studied in the great Lithuanian yeshivot of Telz and Slobodka. Later he received his secular education at Strassburg and Heidelberg universities. This combination of religious and secular learning enabled him to pursue with great passion the wide-ranging roots of Jewish legend.

Ginzberg believed that Jewish legend was both earlier and greater than what was represented in the Talmud and midrashic collections--the primary Rabbinic sources. And so he scoured Jewish, Christian, Islamic, and Oriental sources to rediscover the fine threads of Jewish legend. The result was a masterpiece: a single, coherent collection of legends that follows the biblical narrative, accompanied by detailed notes that reveal a complex subtext of often intersecting and multi-layered levels of influence, borrowed notions, and interpretive commentaries.

Four new indexes and a new introduction by David Stern, Professor of Postbiblical and Medieval Hebrew Literature, and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, complete the reissue of one of the greatest classics of modern Jewish literature.





About the Author 

Louis Ginzberg ---

Louis Ginzberg (1893-1953) is acknowledged as the world’s outstanding scholar in the field of Talmudic learning. His seven-volume Legends of the Jews, from which these legends were selected, was published originally by the Jewish Publication Society and translated in part by Henrietta Szold. This work has been recognized as one of the most distinguished works of scholarship ever produced in the United States. Ginzberg grew up in the shadow of legend: his life’s work was stimulated by the magic of his famous ancestor, the Vilna Gaon, the 18th-century saint and scholar.




Contents 

CONTENTS

VOLUME 1

INTRODUCTION TO THE 2003 EDITION

PREFACE TO THE ORIGINAL EDITION

PREFACE TO THE NOTES

ABBREVIATIONS OF TITLES OF BOOKS IN THE NOTES

I. THE CREATION OF THE WORLD 1

The First Things Created 1 • The Alphabet 3 • The First Day 5
The Second Day 12 • The Third Day 18 • The Fourth Day 23
The Fifth Day 28 • The Sixth Day 33 • All Things Praise the
Lord 43
150 • The Curse of Drunkenness 153 • Noah's Descendants Spread
Abroad 156 • The Depravity of Mankind 160 • Nimrod 161 • The
Tower of Babel 163

V. ABRAHAM 167

The Wicked Generations 167 • The Birth of Abraham 168 • The
Babe Proclaims God 170 • Abraham's First Appearance in Public
172 • The Preacher of the True Faith 173 • In the Fiery Furnace
175 • Abraham Emigrates to Haran 178 • The Star in the East 181
The True Believer 182 • The Iconoclast 184 • Abraham in

Canaan 187 • His Sojourn in Egypt 189 • The First Pharaoh 192
The War of the Kings 193 • The Covenant of the Pieces 198 • The
Birth of Ishmael 201 • The Visit of the Angels 204 • The Cities of
Sin 207 • Abraham Pleads for the Sinners 210 • The Destruction
of the Sinful Cities 212 • Among the Philistines 216 • The Birth
of Isaac 218 • Ishmael Cast Off 219 • The Two Wives of Ishmael
221 • The Covenant with Abimelech 222 • Satan Accuses Abraham
224 • The Journey to Moriah 225 • The ‘Akedah 228 • The
Death and Burial of Sarah 233 • Eliezer's Mission 237 • The Wooing
of Rebekah 239 • The Last Years of Abraham 243 • A Herald
of Death 244 • Abraham Views Earth and Heaven 246 • The
Patron of Hebron 249

VI. JACOB 251

The Birth of Esau and Jacob 251 • The Favorite of Abraham 255
• The Sale of the Birthright 257 • Isaac with the Philistines 259 •
Isaac Blesses Jacob 263 • Esau's True Character Revealed 269 •
Jacob Leaves His Father's House 271 • Jacob Pursued by Eliphaz
and Esau 274 • The Day of Miracles 276 • Jacob with Laban 281
• The Marriage of Jacob 282 • The Birth of Jacob's Children 285
• Jacob Flees Before Laban 290 • The Covenant with Laban 292 •
Jacob and Esau Prepare to Meet 295 • Jacob Wrestles with the
Angel 298 • The Meeting Between Esau and Jacob 302 • The

Outrage at Shechem 307 • A War Frustrated 310 • The War with
the Ninevites 311 • The War with the Amorites 314 • Isaac

Blesses Levi and Judah 316 • Joy and Sorrow in the House of
Jacob 317 • Esau's Campaign Against Jacob 319 • The Descendants
of Esau 322

II. ADAM 47

Man and the World 47 • The Angels and the Creation of Man 51
•The Creation of Adam 53 • The Soul of Man 55 • The Ideal Man
58 • The Fall of Satan 62 • Woman 64 • Adam and Eve in Paradise
68 • The Fall of Man 71 • The Punishment 74 • Sabbath in
Heaven 83 • Adam's Repentance 86 • The Book of Raziel 89 • The
Sickness of Adam 91 • Eve's Story of the Fall 92 • The Death of
Adam 96 • The Death of Eve 98

III. THE TEN GENERATIONS 101

The Birth of Cain 101 • Fratricide 103 • The Punishment of Cain
106 • The Inhabitants of the Seven Earths 109 • The Descendants
of Cain 111 • The Descendants of Adam and Lilith 114 • Seth and
His Descendants 115 • Enosh 117 • The Fall of the Angels 119 •
Enoch, Ruler and Teacher • The Ascension of Enoch 124 • The
Translation of Enoch 129 • Methuselah 131

IV. N
OAH 133

The Birth of Noah 133 • The Punishment of the Fallen Angels 135
• The Generation of the Deluge 138 • The Holy Book 141 • The
Inmates of the Ark 143 • The Flood 147 • Noah Leaves the Ark


VII. J
OSEPH 327

The Favorite Son 327 • Joseph Hated by His Brethren 329 • Joseph
Cast into the Pit 331 • The Sale 335 • Joseph's Three Masters 337 •
Joseph's Coat Brought to His Father 339 • Judah and His Sons 343
• The Wives of the Sons of Jacob 347 • Joseph the Slave of Potiphar
349 • Joseph and Zuleika 352 • Joseph Resists Temptation 356 •
Joseph in Prison 359 • Pharaoh's Dreams 362 • Joseph Before Pharaoh
364 • The Ruler of Egypt 367 • Joseph's Brethren in Egypt 370
• Joseph Meets His Brethren 372 • The Second Journey to Egypt
376 • Joseph and Benjamin 379 • The Thief Caught 382 • Judah
Pleads and Threatens 384 • Joseph Makes Himself Known 387 •
Jacob Receives the Glad Tidings 391 • Jacob Arrives in Egypt 394 •
Joseph's Kindness and Generosity 396 • Jacob's Last Wish 399 •
The
Blessing of Ephraim and Manasseh 402 • The Blessing of the
Twelve Tribes 406 • Death of Jacob 411 • The Sons of Jacob at War
with the Sons of Esau 415 • Zepho King of Kittim 417 • The
Nations at War 420 • Joseph's Magnanimity 421 • Asenath 423 •
The Marriage of Joseph 424 • Kind and Unkind Brethren 425 •
Treachery Punished 426 • The Death and Burial of Joseph 427

VIII. T
HE SONS OF JACOB 433

Significant Names 433 • Reuben's Testament 435 • Simon's Admonition
Against Envy 436 • The Ascension of Levi 437 • Judah
Warns Against Greed and Unchastity 439 • Issachar's Singleness of
Heart 440 • Zebulon Exhorts unto Compassion 442 • Dan's Confession
443 • Naphtali's Dreams of the Division of the Tribes 444 •
Gad's Hatred 447 • Asher's Last Words 448 • Benjamin Extols
Joseph 449

IX. JOB 451

Job and the Patriarchs 451 • Job's Wealth and Benefactions 453 •
Satan and Job 455 • Job's Suffering 457 • The Four Friends 459 •
Job Restored 460

X. M
OSES IN EGYPT 465

The Beginning of the Egyptian Bondage 465 • Pharaoh's Cunning
466 • The Pious Midwives 468 • The Three Counsellors 470 •
TheSlaughter of the Innocents 471 • The Parents of Moses 473 • The
Birth of Moses 473 • Moses Rescued from the Water 477 • The
Infancy of Moses 480 • Moses Rescued by Gabriel 482 • The Youth
of Moses 485 • The Flight 488 • The King of Ethiopoia 490 •
Jethro 493 • Moses Marries Zipporah 494 • A Bloody Remedy 497
• The Faithful Shepherd 500 • The Burning Thorn-Bush 501 • The
Ascension of Moses 502 • Moses Visits Paradise and Hell 505 •
Moses Declines the Mission 509 • Moses Punished for his Stubbornness
512 • The Return to Egypt 515 • Moses and Aaron Before
Pharaoh 517 • The Suffering Increases 520 • Measure for Measure
523 • The Plagues Brought Through Aaron 526 • The Plagues
Brought Through Moses 529 • The First Passover 534 • The Smiting
of the First-Born 536 • The Redemption of Israel from Egyptian
Bondage 538 • The Exodus 540

XI. MOSES IN THE WILDERNESS 545

Introduction 545 • The Long Route 545 • Pharaoh Pursues the
Hebrews 548 • The Sea Divided 553 • The Passage Through the
Red Sea 555 • The Destruction of the Egyptians 558 • The Song at
the Sea 562 • The Awful Desert 565 • The Heavenly Food 569 •
The Gathering of Manna 571 • Miriam's Well 575 • Amalek's War
Against Israel 577 • Amalek Defeated 580 • Jethro 583 • The
Installation of Elders 585 • Jethro Rewarded 588 • The Time Is at
Hand 591 • The Gentiles Refuse the Torah 593 • The Contest of
the Mountains 594 • The Torah Offered to Israel 596 • Israel Prepares
for the Revelation 598 • The Revelation on Mount Sinai 599
• The First Commandment 602 • The Other Commandments
Revealed on Sinai 605 • The Unity of the Ten Commandments
609 • Moses Chosen as Intermediator 610 • Moses and the Angels
Strive for the Torah 613 • Moses Receives the Torah 616 • The
Golden Calf 619 • Moses Blamed for Israel's Sin 622 • The Punishment
of the Sinners 625 • Moses Intercedes for the People 627 •
The Inscrutable Ways of the Lord 629 • The Thirteen Attributes of
God 631 • The Second Tables 632 • The Erection of the Tabernacle
Commanded 638 • The Materials for the Construction of the
Tabernacle 640 • Bezalel 641 • The Ark with the Cherubim 642 •
The Table and the Candlestick 644 • The Altar 646 • The Symbolical
Significance of the Tabernacle 648 • The Priestly Robes 649 •
The Stones in the Breastplate 651 • The Completion of the
Tabernacle 653 • The Setting Up of the Tabernacle 655 • The
Consecration
of the Priests 657 • The Day of the Ten Crowns 658 • The
Interrupted Joy 661 • The Gifts of the Princes 664 • The Revelations
in the Tabernacle 673 • The Cleansing of the Camp 674 • The
Lighting of the Candlestick 677 • The Twelve Princes of the Tribes
678 • The Census of the Levites 681 • The Four Divisions of the
Levites 683 • The Four Standards 684 • The Camp 687 • The Blasphemer
and the Sabbath-Breaker 689 • The Ungrateful Multitude
691 • The Flesh-Pots of Egypt 693 • The Appointment of the Seventy
Elders 695 • Eldad and Medad 697 • The Quails 699 • Aaron
and Miriam Slander Moses 700 • Miriam's Punishment 702 • The
Sending of the Spies 703 • Significant Names 705 • Spies in Palestine
707 • The Slanderous Report 709 • The Night of Tears 711 •
Ingratitude Punished 713 • The Years of Disfavor 716 • The Rebellion
of Korah 718 • Moses Pleads in Vain with Korah 722 • Korah
and His Horde Punished 725 • On and the Three Sons of Korah
Saved 726 • Israel Convinced of Aaron's Priesthood 728 • The
Waters of Meribah 731 • Moses' Anger Causes His Doom 733 •
Edom's Unbrotherly Attitude Toward Israel 735 • The Three Shepherds
737 • Preparing Aaron for Impending Death 739 • Aaron's
Death 740 • The General Mourning for Aaron 743 • The False
Friends 745 • The Brazen Serpent 747 • At Arnon 749

VOLUME 2

ABBREVIATIONS OF TITLES OF BOOKS IN THE NOTES

XI. MOSES IN THE WILDERNESS (CONTINUED)

Sihon, The King of the Amorites 751 • The Giant Og 753 • Moses'
Speech of Admonition 756 • Balak, King of Moab 758 • Balaam,
the Heathen Prophet 760 • Balak's Messengers to Balaam 762 •
Balaam Accepts Balak's Invitation 764 • Balaam's Ass 765 • Balaam
Runs into His Own Destruction 768 • Balaam with Balak 769 •
Balaam's Sacrifices Refused 770 • Balaam Extols Israel 772 • Balaam's
Hopes Disappointed 774 • Curses Turned to Blessings 776 •
Balaam's Wicked Counsel 778 • Phinehas, Zealous for God 779 •
Twelve Miracles 781 • Phinehas Rewarded 782 • The Daughters of
Zelophehad 784 • The Appointment of Joshua 787 • Moses' Legacy
to Joshua 790 • Moses' Last Campaign 791 • The Complete
Annihilation of Midian 794 • The Gruesome End of Balaam 795 •
The Victorious Return from the War 797 • Wealth that Bringeth
Destruction 798 • Moses' Death Irrevocably Doomed 800 • Moses'
Prayer for Suspension of Judgment 801 • God Tries to Comfort
Moses Concerning His Death 806 • The Intercessions for Moses
808 • Moses Serves Joshua 810 • The Last Day of Moses' Life 812 •
Moses Beholds the Future 814 • Moses Meets the Messiah in
Heaven 816 • The Last Hours of Moses 817 • Blessing of Moses
819 • Moses Prays for Death 826 • Samael Chastised by Moses 828
• God Kisses Moses' Soul 831 • The Mourning for Moses 834 •
Samael's Vain Search 835 • Moses Excels All Pious Men 837

XII. JOSHUA 841

The Servant of Moses 841 • Entering the Promised Land 842 •
Conquest of the Land 845 • The Sun Obeys Joshua 848 • War with
the Armenians 850 • Allotment of the Land 851

XIII. T
HE JUDGES 855

The First Judge 855 • Campaigns of Kenaz 858 • Othniel 860 •
Boaz and Ruth 862 • Deborah 867 • Gideon 871 • Jephthah 874 •
Samson 877 • The Crime of the Benjamites 880

XIV. S
AMUEL AND SAUL 887

Elkanah and Hannah 887 • The Youth of Samuel 889 • Eli and His
Sons 891 • The Activities of Samuel 895 • The Reign of Saul 898 •
The Court of Saul 905

XV. DAVID 911

David's Birth and Descent 911 • Anointed King 912 • Encounter
with Goliath 915 • Pursued by Saul 918 • Wars 920 • Ahithophel 922
• Joab 924 • David's Piety and His Sin 927 • Absalom's Rebellion 931
• David's Atonement 933 • Visitations 934 • Death of David 938 •
David in Paradise 938 • The Family of David 940 • His Tomb 942

XVI. S
OLOMON 945

Solomon Punishes Joab 945 • The Marriage of Solomon 947 • His Wisdom
949 • The Queen of Sheba 958 • Solomon Master of the Demons
962
 • The Building of the Temple 965 • The Throne of Solomon 968 •
The Hippodrome 970 • Lessons in Humility 971 • Asmodeus 973 •
Solomon as Beggar 975 • The Court of Solomon 978

XVII. JUDAH AND ISRAEL 981

The Division of the Kingdom 981 • Jeroboam 982 • The Two Abijahs
984 • Asa 985 • Jehoshaphat and Ahab 986 • Jezebel 990 •
Joram of Israel 990

XVIII.ELIJAH 993

Elijah Before His Translation 993 • After His Translation 1000 •
Censor and Avenger 1006 • Intercourse with the Sages 1009 • God's
Justice Vindicated 1013 • Elijah and the Angel of Death 1016 •
Teacher of the Kabbalah 1018 • Forerunner of the Messiah 1020

XIV. E
LISHA AND JONAH 1025

Elisha the Disciple of Elijah 1025 • The Shunammite 1028 •
Gehazi 1029 • The Flight of Jonah 1031 • Jonah in the Whale
1033 • The Repentance of Nineveh 1034

XX. T
HE LATER KINGS OF JUDAH 1037

Joash 1037 • Three Great Prophets 1039 • The Two Kingdoms
Chastised 1043 • Hezekiah 1045 • Miracles Wrought for Hezekiah
1048 • Manasseh 1054 • Josiah and His Successors 1058

XXI. T
HE EXILE 1065

Zedekiah 1065 • Jeremiah 1067 • Nebuchadnezzar 1072 • The
Capture of Jerusalem 1074 • The Great Lament 1078 • Jeremiah's
Journey to Babylon 1081 • Transportation of the Captives 1085 •
The Sons of Moses 1088 • Ebed-Melech 1090 • The Temple Vessels
1091 • Baruch 1092 • The Tombs of Baruch and Ezekiel 1094
• Daniel 1095 • The Three Men in the Furnace 1097 • Ezekiel
Revives the Dead 1101 • Nebuchadnezzar a Beast 1103 • Hiram
1104 • The False Prophets 1106 • Daniel's Piety 1107

XXII. T
HE RETURN OF THE CAPTIVITY 1111

Belshazzar's Feast 1111 • Daniel Under the Persian Kings 1113 •
The Grave of Daniel 1117 • Zerubbabel 1118 • Ezra 1121 • The
Men of the Great Assembly 1126

XXIII.ESTHER 1129

The Feast for the Grandees 1129 • The Festivities in Shushan 1132
• Vashti's Banquet 1134 • The Fate of Vashti 1135 • The Follies of
Ahasuerus 1138 • Mordecai 1139 • Esther's Beauty and Piety 1141
• The Conspiracy 1145 • Haman the Jew-Baiter 1146 • Mordecai's
Pride 1148 • Casting the Lots 1150 • The Denunciation of the
Jews 1152 • The Decree of Annihilation 1155 • Satan Indicts the
Jews 1158 • The Dream of Mordecai 1161 • The Prayer of Esther
1164 • Esther Intercedes 1166 • The Disturbed Night 1169 • The
Fall of Haman 1172 • The Edict of the King 1178

INDEX OF SUBJECTS

INDEX OF PASSAGES

INDEX OF HEBREW AND ARAMAIC WORDS AND PHRASES

 




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