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Smaller Midrashim

This entry covers those aggadic and midrashic works which are not treated in separate articles.

(1) MIDRASH AGUR, also known as Mishnat R. Eliezer, or Midrash Sheloshim u-Shetayim Middot. Belonging to some extent to the category of aggadic works, this Midrash is an exposition on Proverbs 30:1–3 ("The words of Agur the son of Jakeh …"), and begins by quoting R. *Eliezer b. Yose ha-Gelili's Baraita of 32 Rules. It used the Babylonian Talmud. Though written in a pure Hebrew, it contains Arabic words and refers to the "kingdom of Ishmael." Therefore it was probably composed in Ereẓ Israel, more or less contemporaneously with *Pirkei de-R. Eliezer about the middle of the eighth century C.E. It was apparently used by *Saadiah Gaon, and was first printed by Menahem de Lonzano at Safed in 1626, but not a single copy of this edition has been preserved. An excerpt from the Midrash was published from a manuscript by L. Ginzberg in Tarbiz, 4 (1933), 297–342 (and see J.N. Epstein, ibid., 343–53; S. Lieberman, in: Ginzei Kedem, 5 (1934), 186–90). A scholarly edition, with an introduction in English, was published by H.G. Enelow (1933).

(2) AGGADAT SHIR HA-SHIRIM ("Aggadah of Song of Songs") or Shir ha-Shirim Zuta ("Minor Song of Songs"), a collection of extracts from various Midrashim. The redactor made extensive use of a Midrash, no longer extant, which was also much used by the Yelammedenu-Tanḥuma Midrashim, especially *Pesikta Rabbati. It has no proems. This Midrash in its present form was undoubtedly used by R. *Judah b. Kalonymus, the 12th-century author of Yiḥusei Tanna'im ve-Amora'im. The date of its redaction is apparently not earlier than the tenth century. Alongside later material it also contains much of an earlier date, unknown from other sources. It was published in scholarly editions (from Parma Ms. 541) by S. Buber (1894) and S. Schechter (1896).

(3) MIDRASH SHIR HA-SHIRIM ("Midrash Song of Songs"), also a collection of extracts from various Midrashim. The redactor used tannaitic literature, the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, and *Genesis Rabbah, as well as sources used by the Yelammedenu-Tanḥuma Midrashim. This Midrash, which likewise has no proems and contains many aggadot of a later type, is also quoted by Judah b. Kalonymus. It was apparently redacted in the 11th century. A scholarly edition was published from a Cairo Genizah manuscript, dated 1197, by L. Gruenhut (1897).

(4) RUTH ZUTA ("Minor Ruth"), or Midrash Megillat Ruth be-Fanim Aḥerim ("Other Aspects of the Midrash on the Scroll of Ruth"), a late Midrash compiled from *Ruth Rabbah, the Babylonian Talmud, and other sources. It begins with a proem which is not of the classical type. As the author of *Midrash Lekah Tov at the end of the 11th century used this Midrash it was apparently compiled in the tenth century. It was published (from Parma Ms. 541) by S. Buber (1894).

(5) KOHELET ZUTA ("Minor Ecclesiastes"), an abbreviated version of *Ecclesiastes Rabbah, and much more popular than it. Since it was quoted by *Nathan b. Jehiel of Rome, the author of the Arukh, it was apparently redacted in the tenth century. This Midrash too was published by S. Buber (1894, from Parma Ms. 541).

(6) EIKHAH ZUTA ("Minor Lamentations"), an exposition of the first three verses of Lamentations, consisting mainly of aggadot on the destruction of the Temple. One version (A), which contains addenda from the Babylonian Talmud and *Pesikta de-Rav Kahana, was used as a source by the compiler of the *Yalkut Shimoni, and was published from Parma Ms. 541 by S. Buber (1894). A second, much shorter, version (B), which is defective at the beginning, contains addenda from *Lamentations Rabbah and Pesikta de-Rav Kahana but not those in version A. It was published from Parma Ms. 261 by S. Buber (1894). Probably comprising excerpts from a complete Midrash on the Book of Lamentations in a manuscript as yet unexamined or no longer extant, the two versions were redacted not earlier than the tenth century.

(7) MIDRASH PANIM AḤERIM LE-ESTHER, NOSAḤ ALEF ("Other Aspects of the Midrash to the Scroll of Esther": Version A), a short collection of aggadot and homilies on the Book of Esther compiled from various sources, including Esther Rabbah II, Midrash Abba Guryon, the Babylonian Midrash on Esther (see Babylonian *Talmud; and *Megillah), Pirkei de-R. Eliezer, and others. It was redacted not earlier than the 12th century. S. Buber published the Midrash from a manuscript in the Sifrei… Esther (as above).

(8) MIDRASH YONAH, a late aggadic work on the Book of Jonah. Its author, drawing mainly on Pirkei de-R. Eliezer and the Babylonian Talmud, worked his sources into a fluent account told in his own words (a pure but artificial Hebrew). It was written not earlier than the end of the eighth century. First published in Prague (1595), it was subsequently republished, notably by H.M. Horowitz in an edition from a manuscript in Aguddat Aggadot (1881), 11ff.

(9) MIDRASH HALLEL, a late midrashic work on the *Hallel chapters in the Book of Psalms. The author used mainly *Midrash Tehillim as well as the Heikhalot literature. Redacted not earlier than the tenth century, the work was published from a manuscript by A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 5 (1938), 87–110.

(10) MIDRASH ESFAH, named from its introductory words: "Gather [esfah] unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel" (Num. 11:16). This is a midrashic work on the Book of Numbers, most of which is no longer extant. Excerpts from it are quoted in Yalkut Shimoni and some have been published from manuscripts (*Abraham b. Elijah of Vilna, Rav Pe'alim, ed. by S.M. Chones (1894), 147–53; S.A. Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot, 1 (1950), 211–4). Unpublished fragments are also in existence. Known to the Babylonian geonim in the ninth century, apparently the work was edited not earlier than the end of the seventh century.

(11) MIDRASH ESER GALUYYOT ("Midrash on the Ten Expulsions"), found in different versions in several manuscripts, some of which have been published (Basle, 1578 [on which is based L. Gruenhut's Sefer ha-Likkutim, 3 (1889)], 1–22 (second pagination); Carmoly, Brussels (1842); A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 4 (1938), 133–6; 5 (1938), 113–6; M. Ish-Shalom in Sinai, 43 (1958), 195–211). The date of the work, for which the author used Midrashim of tannaitic and amoraic times, is not earlier than the ninth century.

(12) MIDRASH SHELOSHAH VE-ARBA'AH ("Midrash Three and Four"; also called Pirkei Rabbenu ha-Kadosh, Ma'aseh Torah, and Ḥuppat Eliyahu), also extant in different versions in many manuscripts, only some of which have been published (S.A. Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot, 2 (1953), 45–73; S. Schoenblum, in the collection Sheloshah Sefarim Niftahim (1877); L. Gruenhut, Sefer ha-Likkutim, 3 (1899), 33–90 (second pagination); Kol Bo, para. 118; A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash, 2 (1938), 92–101; H.M. Horowitz, in the collection Kevod Ḥuppah (1888), 45–56). However, most of the manuscripts remain unpublished. Enumerating various themes grouped in numbers from three onward, the work used various ancient sources and was redacted not earlier than the ninth century.

(13) OTIYYOT DE-R. AKIVA ("Letters of Rabbi Akiva"), or Alef Bet de-R. Akiva ("Alphabet of Rabbi Akiva"), an aggadic work likewise extant in different versions and in many manuscripts, only some of which have been published (Constantinople (1516), version A; krakow (1579), version B; Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot, 2 (1953), 333–465, four versions), but most of them (including Mss. of the 13th and 14th centuries) have not yet appeared in print. This late Midrash on the alphabet contains many mystic and eschatological discussions. As it was quoted in the tenth century, the work was apparently compiled in the ninth century.

(14) MIDRASH ḤASEROT VI-YTEROT, a homiletic exposition on the reasons for the defective and plene writing in the Bible. It is also extant in many versions in numerous manuscripts, only some of which have been published (a critical edition including variant readings of the different versions was issued by Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot, 2 (1953), 203–332). The work shows the influence of the masoretic period. Since different versions are already cited in the responsa of *Hai Gaon, the date of its redaction has therefore to be fixed in the ninth century.

(15) MIDRASH AVKIR, so called after the initial letters of the formula אָמֵן בְּיָמֵינוּ כֵּן יְהִי רָצוֹן (Amen be-Yameinu Ken Yehi Raẓon) which concludes each homily. The Midrash is no longer extant but many excerpts from it have been preserved in Yalkut Shimoni; hence it was probably a Midrash on Genesis and Exodus, written in an artificial Hebrew. Both the style and contents of the excerpts are reminiscent of late aggadic and midrashic works, such as *Tanna de-Vei Eliyahu, Pesikta de-R. Eliezer, and the additional Midrash Va-Yeḥi of Genesis Rabbah. It was first definitely quoted by German Jewish authors of the beginning of the 13th century. Since it is doubtful whether the author of Lekah Tov used the work, its redaction should be dated to the beginning of the 11th century. Extracts from quotations of it were published by S. Buber (in Ha-Shaḥar, 11 (1883), 338–45, 409–18, 453–61), and from manuscripts by A. Neubauer (in REJ, 14 (1887), 109f.) and by A. Epstein (in Ha-Eshkol, 6 (1909), 204–7). It is doubtful if the extracts published by A. Marmorstein (in Devir, 1 (1923), 113–44) are from Midrash Avkir.

(16) MIDRASH TADSHE or Baraita de-R. Pinḥas b. Ya'ir derives its names from its introductory sentence: "It is written [Gen. 1:11]: 'And God said: Let the earth put forth [tadshe] grass…' R. *Phinehas b. Jair asked…" In both content and method, this pseudepigraphical Midrash resembles works of the Second Temple period, on which it drew (such as the Book of Jubilees, *Philo, etc.). Despite all the internal indications pointing to its late composition, its date is to be assigned to not later than 1000 C.E., since *Moses ha-Darshan used the work. It was first published from a manuscript by A. Jellinek (Beit ha-Midrash, 3 (1928), 164–93).

(17) KISSE VE-IPPODROMIN SHEL SHELOMO HA-MELEKH, an aggadic tale dating from the Byzantine period. The first half, an adaptation of a description found in *Targum Sheni, was written apparently in the 11th century (see E. Ville-Patlagean, in REJ, 121 (1962), 9–33). In it Solomon figures as a Byzantine emperor who holds horse races in the hippodrome, the colors of the different factions in the circus (blue, white, red, and green) being those of the courtiers' clothes. The work was published from a manuscript by A. Jellinek (Beit ha-Midrash, 5 (1938), 34–39).

(18) SEFER HA-YASHAR ("Book of Jashar"), a late aggadic work corresponding to the narrative parts of the Pentateuch (in particular Gen. and Ex. 1:1–2:21, comprising more than three-quarters of the work), Joshua, and Judges 1:1–2:10. The style is fluent and the language a pure but artificial, pseudo-biblical Hebrew. The author used Genesis Rabbah, the Babylonian Talmud, Pirkei de-R. Eliezer, *Midrash va-Yissa'u, *Josippon, Midrash Avkir (no. 15) as well as ancient sources from the literature of the Second Temple period (its structure is reminiscent of Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum). Connecting the biblical events with later ones in Jewish history, the author at times used his imagination freely and was greatly influenced by Muslim legends. The work contains many Arabic names and a Latin one, as well as the medieval philosophical definition that man is a living soul endowed with speech. It is first quoted by Yalkut Shimoni. Hence the work was written apparently at the end of the 11th century, perhaps in southern Spain. First published in Venice in 1625, it has since been republished many times.

(19) MIDRASH KONEN, or Adonai be-Ḥokhmah Yasad Areẓ, dealing with the Creation, the heavens, paradise, and hell. This Midrash was influenced by apocalyptic sources of the Second Temple period, and by the mystic literature of the beginning of the Middle Ages. Composed not earlier than about the 11th century, it was first published in Venice in 1601. Another version was published from manuscript by A. Jellinek (Beit haMidrash, 5 (1938), 63–69) and excerpts from similar Midrashim, Seder Rabbah di-Vereshit, were published by S.A. Wertheimer (Battei Midrashot, 1 (1950), 1–48). Yet another version, Zeh Ma'aseh Bereshit, appeared in Sefer Razi'el ha-Malakh, and still another version was published from a manuscript by L. Ginzberg (Ginzei Schechter, 1 (1928), 182–7).

(20) MIDRASH VA-YEKHULLU (RABBATI), called after its opening sentence (Gen. 2:1): "And the heaven and the earth were finished [va-yekhullu]…" This Midrash, which is no longer extant, was quoted from the middle of the 12th century onward. The various quotations that have been preserved (they have been collected by L. Gruenhut, Sefer ha-Likkutim, 2 (1898), 16b–20a) show that the redactor used the Jerusalem Talmud and Yelammedenu-Tanḥuma. It is difficult to fix the date of its redaction but it was apparently not before the end of the tenth century.

(21) MIDRASH VA-YOSHA, a late aggadic work on the song at the Red Sea, which used, among others, Pirkei de-R. Eliezer and Pesikta Rabbati. The name is derived from the opening sentence (Ex. 14:30): "Thus the Lord saved [vayosha]…" The Midrash mentions *Armilus as a well-known figure. Apparently redacted at the end of the 11th century, it was first published at Constantinople in 1519 and again in the collection Divrei Ḥakhamim (1849).

(22) MIDRASH AGGADAH, an exegetical Midrash on the Pentateuch consisting mainly of excerpts from the work of Moses ha-Darshan. This is evident from the many parallel passages between, on the one hand, Midrash Aggadah and, on the other, *Genesis Rabbati, Numbers Rabbah I, and the quotations from Moses ha-Darshan's work cited in Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch. It is further evident from the extensive use both of Midrash Tadshe (no. 16) and of apocryphal and pseudepigraphical works of the Second Temple period (in particular, the Book of Jubilees). Midrash Aggadah, compiled apparently in the 12th century, was published from the Aleppo manuscript by S. Buber (1894).

(23) MIDRESHEI ḤANUKKAH. Some of these Midrashim were published by A. Jellinek (Beit ha-Midrash, 1 (1938), 132–6; 6 (1938), 1–3), the rest being extant in manuscript. They are all late aggadic works, the oldest of them having been written apparently not earlier than the tenth century, and comprise various aggadot on the *Hasmonean revolt into which have been woven the story of *Judith and Holofernes as well as the theme of ius primae noctis.

(24) PESIKTA ḤADTA, or Midrash Mah Rabbu ("How manifold [mah rabbu] are Thy works, O Lord!"; Ps. 104:24), a compilation of homilies, of various dates and from different sources, on the festivals. It used, among others, late works (Pesikta Rabbati, Sefer *Yeẓirah, Pirkei de-R. Eliezer, Midrash Konen (no. 19), Midreshei Ḥanukkah (no. 23)). The date of its redaction is to be assigned to not earlier than the 12th century. It was first published from a manuscript by A. Jellinek (Beit ha-Midrash, 1 (1938), 137–41; 6 (1932), 36–70).

(25) MIDRASH TEMURAH, a pseudepigraphic aggadic work (ascribed to R. *Ishmael and R. *Akiva) dealing with the changes (temurot) in the world and in the life of man. The author was apparently acquainted with the commentary of Abraham *Ibn Ezra. The work was first mentioned by Menahem ha-*Meiri. According to all indications its redaction is not earlier than the end of the 12th century. It was first published at the end of H.J.D. Azulai's Shem ha-Gedolim (1786), then from another manuscript at the end of Aggadat Bereshit (Vilna, 1802), and frequently afterward. It was also issued in a critical edition, based on several manuscripts and on all the earlier published versions, by S.A. Wertheimer (Battei Midrashot, 2 (1953), 187–201).

(26) BERESHIT ZUTA ("Minor Genesis"). Extracted from many different sources this Midrash was compiled by R. Samuel b. Nissim *Masnut of Aleppo, who lived at the beginning of the 13th century, and published from manuscript by M. Hakohen (1962).

Many other small Midrashim, to which no individual articles have been assigned and which are not mentioned in this one, were published in various compilations containing collections of Midrashim. Such compilations, together with an introduction, notes, and a commentary, were published especially from the second half of the 19th century onward. Among these the most important are A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash (with introductions in German), 6 vols. (1853–77, 19382); H.M. Horowitz, Aguddat Aggadot (1881; repr. 1967); idem, Beit Eked ha-Aggadot, 2 pts. (1881–82; repr. 1967); idem, Tosefta Attikta (1890); S.A. Wertheimer, Battei Midrashot, 4 vols. (1893–97; 1950–532, in 2 vols.); idem, Leket Midrashim (1903); idem, Oẓar Midrashim, 2 vols. (1913–14); idem, Midrashim Kitvei Yad (1923); L. Gruenhut, Sefer ha-Likkutim, 6 vols. (1898–1903); J.D. Eisenstein, Oẓar Midrashim, 2 vols. (1915); L. Ginzberg, Ginzei Schechter, 1 (1928); J. Mann, The Bible as Read and Preached in the Old Synagogue, 1 (1940); 2 (1966), by J. Mann and I. Sonne.

For Midrash Esther ha-Bavli and Midrash Eikhah ha-Bavli see *Midrash; Babylonian *Talmud; and *Megillah. For Aggadat Esther see *Midrash ha-Gadol. For Tefillat Mordekhai ve-Esther see *Esther and *Mordecai. For Midrash Petirat Aharon see *Aaron. For Midrash Petirat Moshe and for Midrash Divrei ha-Yamim shel Moshe see *Moses, Chronicles of. For Midreshei Yehudit see *Judith. For Midrash Birkat Ya'akov see *Jacob. For Midreshei Elleh Ezkerah va-Aseret Harugei Malkhut see *Heikhalot; *Merkabah; and *Ten Martyrs. For Midrash Hashkem see *Ve-Hizhir. For Midrash David ha-Nagid see *David ha-Nagid. For Midreshei Teiman see *Yemen. For Haggadot ha-Talmud and Ein Ya'akov see Babylonian *Talmud.


H.L. Strack, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1931, repr. 1959); Zunz-Albeck, Derashot.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.