Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Part 3 of Genesis Rabba Comments

"When the Jews returned from Babylon, their wives had become brown, and almost black, during the years of captivity, and a large number of men divorced their wives. The divorced women probably married black men, which would, to some extent, account for the existence of black Jews."--Gen. Rabba 18.

[One finds all kinds of stories in midrashic homilies, many of which are quite incredible. More importantly, I was taken aback by the "racist" content of this work. EGF]

"If a man has entertained you only with lentils, do you entertain him with flesh. If one shows you small favours, bestow on him great ones when an opportunity occurs."--Gen. Rabba 38.

"There is not an evil which fails to bring benefit to some one."--Gen. Rabba A

[Based on Scripture, I believe that God is able to bring good from evil, and he often does. Does that mean all evil acts somehow confer benefit to someone? EGF]

"The pure of heart are God's friends."--Gen. Rabba 41.

[Reminds me of Ps. 73:1; Matthew 5:8. EGF]


Duncan said...


" When Nehemiah came up from the land of Exile [to Eretz Israel, he found that] the women's faces had been blackened by the sun, so that [their husbands] had gone and married strange [i.e. heathen] wives, while these would go round the altar weeping. Thus Malachi says, And this ye do a second time (ib. 13), i.e. ye actually repeat [the sin committed] at Shittim! 6 Ye cover the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with sighing {ib.). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: 'Who will accept weeping and sighing from them? Having robbed her, oppressed her, and deprived her of her beauty, thou castest "

Edgar Foster said...


What about Gen Rabba 37, which appeared in part 2 of my posts? Anything to say about that reference?

"But when they came out of the ark after the flood, God commanded Noah, 'Go out of the ark, thou and thy wife, thy sons and their wives' (Gen. 8. 16), thus putting the sexes together again. Ham among the human beings, and the dog among the lower animals, disregarded this injunction and did not separate from the opposite sex in the ark. The dog received a certain punishment, and Ham became a black man; just as when a man has the audacity to coin the king's currency in the king's own palace his face is blackened as a punishment and his issue is declared counterfeit" --Gen. Rabba 37-

Even the text you quote suggests that skin blackened from the sun was considered less beautiful than lighter skin.

Duncan said...


Yes, sorry, missed that one in part 2 but I did come across it as I searched. Did not want to mention something that blatantly hurtful though.

No argument from me. This author is clearly racist.

I seem to remember reading that in other ancient writings the Jews associated black with Samaritan. And this seems to have been continued:-

Edgar Foster said...

Thanks for the additional reference, Duncan.