Midrash Tadshe

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Midrash Tadshe (Hebrew: מדרש תדשא) is a small midrash which begins with an interpretation of Gen. i. 11:

"And God said, Let the earth bring forth" ("Tadshe ha-areẓ"). "Why," asked R. Phinehas, "did God decree that grass and herbs and fruits should grow upon the third day, while light was not created until the fourth? To show His infinite power, which is almighty; for even without the light He caused the earth to bring forth [while now He creates all manner of trees and plants through the operation of the light]."

The name of the author occurs twice (ed. A. Epstein, pp. xxi., xxxi.), and the midrash closes with the words "'ad kan me-dibre R. Pineḥas ben Ya'ir." No other authors are named. This midrash is peculiar in several respects, varying in many statements from other midrashim, and, although written in pure Hebrew, it contains numerous expressions which are not found elsewhere, such as חג העומר and חג השופרות and ככבים שרועים (= "planets," p. xix.). The structure of the midrash is very loose.

Analogies with the Book of Jubilees[edit]

The Midrash Tadshe is in the main symbolic in tendency, and it plays much on groups of numbers. Section 2 contains a symbolization of the Tabernacle, and, according to A. Epstein, the central idea of the midrash is the theory of three worlds—earth, man, and the Tabernacle. Section 10 contains a mystic explanation of the numbers mentioned in connection with the offerings of the princes (comp. Num. vii. 12 et seq.). Combinations and parallelisms based on the number ten are found in sections 5 and 15; on seven, in 6, 11, and 20; on six, in 20; on five, in 7; on four, in 20; on three, in 12, 18, etc. Desultory expositions of Gen. ii. 17; iii. 3, 14 et seq.; Ex. vii. 12 et seq., 83 et seq.; Lev. xiii. 2, xiv. 34; Lam. i. 1 et seq.; Num. iv. 3, xxvii. 7; and Deut. xxxii. 12, are contained in sections 7, 10, 17, 20, 21, and 22.

Especially noteworthy is section 8, on "the ages of the pious," the Patriarchs, the Matriarchs, and the twelve sons of Jacob, giving also the dates of their births. In this list the months are not designated as Nisan, etc., but as "the first," "the second," etc. The dates for Zebulun and Benjamin are lacking in the present text, but are given in a citation by Baḥya and in the Yalḳuṭ, where, however, the months are named and not numbered. The length of life ascribed to the sons of Jacob agrees with that given in the Seder Olam Zuṭa, but only the Book of Jubilees gives the days and months of their births, and even it does not state the length of their lives (comp. Jubilees, xxviii. and xxxii., where, however, some dates differ from those given in the midrash).

On the other hand, section 6 of the Midrash Tadshe is in entire agreement with the Book of Jubilees (ii., iii., iv., vii., x., xii., xiv., xv., and xxxiii.) in its statement that twenty-two varieties of things were created in the world—seven on the first day; one on the second; four on the third; three on the fourth; three on the fifth; and four on the sixth—and that these twenty-two varieties correspond to the twenty-two generations from Adam to Jacob (and to the twenty-two letters of the alphabet).

Epstein has drawn attention to other striking analogies between this midrash and the Book of Jubilees, especially to the strange theory of Rabbi Phinehas ben Jair (p. xxxi.) that Adam was created in the first week, and that Eve was formed in the second week, from his rib; this serving as the foundation for the rule of purification given in Lev. xii. 2 et seq., with which Jubilees, iii. 8 is to be compared. On these grounds, Epstein advances the hypothesis that in this and many other passages the author of the Midrash Tadshe used the Book of Jubilees, which existed at that time in Hebrew and was much larger in scope than at present, and was ascribed, "on account of its Essenic tendency," to Rabbi Phinehas b. Jair, who was famous for his great piety.

Rabbinical Eras

It is hardly probable, however, that the present Book of Jubilees is incomplete, and a much more plausible view of Epstein's is that which regards the Midrash Tadshe as the work of Rabbi Moses ha-Darshan. Either on account of its beginning, or for some other reason, R. Phinehas ben Jair was regarded as the author of this midrash, and Num. R. xiii. 10 and xiv. 12, 18 contain several expositions and maxims from it cited under the name of that tanna. The midrash, from which Yalḳuṭ excerpted several passages and which has been cited by various authors, has been edited according to manuscript sources by Adolf Jellinek (B. H. iii. 164-193) and by A. Epstein (Beiträge zur Jüdischen Alterthumskunde, Vienna, 1887).

The Midrash Tadshe must not be confused with another baraita bearing the title Baraita de-Rabbi b. Jair, which deals with gradations of virtues, the highest of which causes its possessor to share in the holy spirit (comp. Soṭah, end, and parallels).

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]