Jewish Studies Question

Read:, ,

The destruction of the first Temple by the Babylonians in the year 586 BCE and the subsequent captivity, confronted the exiles with a literally existential crisis. The crisis/challenge for the exiles in Babylon was thus how to maintain their identity (in the hope of their eventual return to Judea) while in an alien land (Psalm 137:4) Without getting into the complex question of what Scriptures were known exactly when, and at what point a canon was established; the knowledge of Scripture was at the heart of this process. However, the ultimate purpose of this knowledge for the Jewish people, was to know how to live their lives in accordance with the Divine Will.

The Hebrew verb describing this exposition of Torah is the word “darash”, from which comes the original name for Jewish Scriptural exegesis, the noun “midrash”. The word denotes “to investigate,” “to seek,” and, in connection with the Bible, meant, therefore, to examine the text and to search into its meaning. rabbinic exegesis sought not only to resolve possible inconsistencies if not contradictions in the text; but sometimes both took phrases out of context even interpreting them in conflict with the simpler meaning, in order to be in consonance with what the rabbis saw at the teleology of Scripture.

As you read the way Rashi and Rambam read Genesis 1:1, describe what their focus is, what inconsistencies they identify in the text and how they address them in a 500-750 word essay.