) is one of the smaller midrashim
, the extant remains of
which consist of more than 50 excerpts contained in the Yalḳuṭ
and a number of citations in
other works. It dealt, according to all accessible evidence, only
with the first two books of the Pentateuch
Contents of the Midrash
Name and scope
Midrash Abkir derived its name from the formula
צון with which all these homilies closed,
according to the testimony of R. Eleazar of Worms
in a manuscript commentary
on the prayer-book, and according to a codex of A. De Rossi
. It is
possible that these religious discourses were arranged in the order
of the sedarim of Genesis
, the beginnings of the sedarim
i. 1, ii. 4, iii. 22, vi. 9, xii. 1,
xvii. 1, xviii. 1, xxii. 1, xxvii. 1, xliv. 18; Ex.
iii. 1, xvi. 4, and xxv. 1, to which belong the
excerpts in Yalḳ.
, Gen. 4, 17, 34, 50,
63, 81, 82, 96, 120, 150, and in Yalḳ., Ex. 169, 258, and 361. If
it may be assumed that in these homilies of the Midrash Abkir the
expositions are not confined to the first verses, the fact that
certain passages are not connected with the beginning of any seder
need cause no surprise.
The language of this midrash is pure Hebrew
while its contents and discussions recall the works of the later
period. As in the Pirḳe Rabbi Eli'ezer
are frequently mentioned (comp. the excerpts in Yalḳ.
132, 234, 241, and 243). Shemaḥsai
according to the account in the Midrash Abkir, descended to earth
to hallow the name of God in a degenerate world, but could not
withstand the daughters of man. Shemaḥsai was entrapped by the
beauty of Istahar
, who, through the
marvelous might of the Divine Name, which she had elicited from
him, ascended to heaven. As a reward for her virtue she was placed
among the Pleiades
the angel did penance before the Flood, and in punishment of his
seduction of the daughters of men was suspended head downward
between heaven and earth.
, however, still wanders unreformed among
mortals, and through dress and adornment seeks to mislead women
iv., pp. ix., et seq.). The version of this story in
44 (on Gen.
vi. 2) concludes; "Therefore do the Israelites
offer as a sacrifice on the Day of Atonement
a ram [sic] to the Eternal One
that He may forgive the sins of Israel, and a ram [sic] to Azazel
that he may bear the sins of Israel, and this
is the Azazel that is referred to in the Torah." This passage of
the midrash explains the words of Yoma
"According to the school of R.
Ishmael, Azazel is he who atones for the deed of
Usa and Azael."
It is to be noted that in the editio princeps of the Yalḳuṭ
, 1526-27) the source of the legend of the
fallen angels (in § 44) as well as of the legend concerning the
temptation of R. Mattithiah
(in § 161), who was successfully
resisted by the pious hero, is simply the ordinary midrash, not the
Midrash Abkir. The latter legend is found also in the Midrash of the Ten
(Jellinek, l.c. i. 79) and in Tanḥuma
other excerpts from the Yalḳuṭ, which, according to later editions,
are derived from the Midrash Abkir, the source is indicated in the
first edition merely by the word "Midrash," as in § 241, which
discusses the legend of Usa, the patron of Egypt; here "Midrash" apparently
means "Midrash Wayosha" (Jellinek,
39 et seq.). Yalḳ.
xiv. 24) relates that the Egyptian
magicians Jannes and Jambres
obtained wings by their art and soared to heaven, but were dashed
down into the sea by the angel
. It cannot be determined, however, whether this passage
belongs to the fragment excerpted from the Midrash Abkir in Yalḳ.
Records of Midrash Abkir
This midrash was at all events known to the author of the Shemot Rabbah
, and was used or cited in the
following works among others: the Leḳaḥ Ṭob
of R. Tobias b. Eliezer
, the Ha-Roḳeaḥ
Eleazar ben Judah
of Worms, the
the Ketab Tamim
of Moses Taku
, the Kad ha-Ḳemaḥ
of Baḥya ben Asher
, a manuscript
commentary by a grandson of R. Samuel
, and the Yalḳuṭ Re'ubeni
. The entire
midrash was likewise known to Azariah
(comp. Me'or 'Enayim
ed. Wilna, p. 455) and
to Abraham ibn Akra
. The extracts
in the Yalḳuṭ, which had been listed almost completely by Zunz
, were collected by S.
separately, Vienna, 1883) and by Simon
in Rab Pe'alim,
pp. 133 et seq. The legend of
the two angels was also reprinted by Jellinek
, l.c. iv. 127 etseq. Jannes and Jambres
are mentioned also in
85a and Shemot
Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography
- Zunz, G. V. p. 282;
- Abraham Wilna, Rab Pc'alim, ed.
Chones, pp. 22 et seq., 133 et seq., Wilna, 1894;
- S. Buber,
Yeri'ot Shelomoh, pp. 9 et seq.;
- Adolf Neubauer, in R. E. J. xiv.
- Brüll's Jahrb. v., vi. 98 et seq. On
the name of the midrash see especially Brüll, l.c. i. 146;
- Simon Chones, l.c. p. 27; on the
legend of the angels Shemaḥsai and Azael see Enoch, vi. et seq. in
Emil Kautzsch, Apokryphen,
ii. 238 et seq., 275;
- Targ. Yer.
on Gen. vi. 4;
- Pirḳe R. El. xxii.;
- Midr. Peṭirat Mosheh, in Jellinek, B.
H. i. 129;
- Recanati on Gen.
- Adolf Jellinek, l.c. ii. 86, v.,
pp. xlii., 172;
- A. Epstein,
Bereshit Rabbati, p. 21;
- Brüll's Jahrb. i. 145 et seq.