Mikraot Gedolot

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The Mikraot Gedolot (מקראות גדולות) "Great Scriptures," often called the "Rabbinic Bible" in English,[1] is an edition of Tanakh (in Hebrew) that generally includes four distinct elements:

Numerous editions of the Mikraot Gedolot have been and continue to be published.

A page of a modern Mikraot Gedolot Chumash

Commentaries[edit]

In addition to Targum Onkelos and Rashi's commentary – the standard Jewish commentaries on the Hebrew Bible – the Mikraot Gedolot will include numerous other commentaries. For instance, the Romm publishing house edition of the Mikraot Gedolot contains the following additional commentaries:[2]


Newer editions often include Baruch Halevi Epstein's Torah Temimah.

The Ben Hayyim edition[edit]

First published in 1524–25 by Daniel Bomberg in Venice, the Mikraot Gedolot was edited by the masoretic scholar Yaakov ben Hayyim. All of its elements - text, masorah, Targum, and commentaries were based upon the manuscripts that Ben Hayyim had at hand (although he did not always have access to the best ones according to some, Ginsburg and some others argued that it was a good representation of the Ben Asher text).

The Mikraot Gedolot of Ben Hayyim, though hailed as an extraordinary achievement, was riddled with thousands of technical errors. Objections were also raised by the Jewish readership, based on the fact that the very first printing of the Mikra'ot Gedolot was edited by Felix Pratensis, a Jew converted to Christianity. Furthermore, Bomberg, a Christian, had requested an imprimatur from the Pope. Such facts were not compatible with the supposed Jewish nature of the work; Bomberg had to produce a fresh edition under the direction of acceptable Jewish editors. Nevertheless, this first edition served as the textual model for nearly all later editions until modern times. With regard to the Biblical text, many of Ben Hayyim's errors were later corrected by Menahem Lonzano and Shlomo Yedidiah Norzi.

The Mikraot Gedolot of Ben Hayyim served as the textus receptus for the King James Version of the Bible in 1611.

Recent editions[edit]

Most editions until the last few decades, and many editions even today, are reprints of or based on late nineteenth century Eastern European editions, which are in turn based more or less on the Ben Hayyim edition described above.

In the last generation fresh editions of the Mikraot Gedolot have been published, based directly on manuscript evidence, principally the Keter Aram Tzova, the manuscript of the Tanakh kept by the Jews of Aleppo. These also have improved texts of the commentaries based on ancient manuscripts. Three of these editions are:

  • the Bar Ilan Mikraot Gedolot ha-Keter, ed. Menaḥem Cohen (17 volumes: Genesis (2 vols.), Exodus (2 vols.), Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua & Judges (1 vol.), Samuel, Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Minor Prophets, Psalms (2 vols.), Five Megillot (1 vol.))
  • Torat Hayim, published by Mosad ha-Rav Kook (12 vols: Torah and five Megillot).
  • Chorev Mikraot Gedolot, published by Hotzaat Chorev (Torah only).

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Sicker An introduction to Judaic thought and rabbinic literature 2007 Page 158 "Moreover, the so-called Rabbinic Bible, the Mikraot Gedolot (“Great Scriptures”), may have as many as ten different commentaries, and notes on the commentaries accompany the text, thus providing a range of possible interpretations of ..."
  2. ^ Mikraot Gedolot: Vayikra (in Hebrew and Aramaic). Vilna: Romm Publishing House. 1899. Retrieved 23 July 2013. 

Menaḥem Cohen, "Introduction to the Haketer edition," in Mikra'ot Gedolot Haketer: A revised and augmented scientific edition of "Mikra'ot Gedolot" based on the Aleppo Codex and Early Medieval MSS (Bar-Ilan University Press, 1992).

External links[edit]

Wikimedia project[edit]

Wikisource's Mikraot Gedolot is available in Hebrew (has the most content) and English.

Published editions[edit]