Midrash Aggadat Bereshit

Dr. Ezra Kahalani

Midrash Aggadat Bereishit is a midrash for the book of Genesis, with a unique structure that is unparalleled in the Midrashic literature we have. It includes twenty-eight units, each of which consists of three chapters: a Torah chapter – dealing with a verse from Genesis; Chapter of the Prophets – dealing with a verse from the prophets; and a chapter of Writings- dealing with the first verse of one of the Psalms. This division reflects the reading of the Torah in the synagogue on the morning of Shabbat, the reading of the Haftarah after it and the reading of chapters of Writings in the Shabbat mincha. This midrash belongs to one of the Tanhuma literature branches, and was probably created in the ninth century in southern Italy. In addition to the usual content found in the Midrashic literature, it contains content that reflects various struggles of the Jews in the face of the long and difficult experience of exile under the Byzantine-Christian rule at that time.


This critical edition consists of two parts: the first part includes a comprehensive introduction about the textual witnesses of the Midrash and their branches, its origins, its unique structure, its rich literary tools, and the overt and covert anti-Christian controversy immersed in it. The second part includes the main text of the Midrash on its two hundred and five paragraphs with a critical apparatus. Each paragraph was preceded by a separate introduction relating to its structure, sources and content, followed by comments explaining the paragraph in a systematic manner.