FORMS OF MIDRASHIC EXEGESIS

FORMS OF MIDRASHIC EXEGESIS

In addition to knowing and understanding the rules and principles of hermeneutics it is also important to recognize the forms of Midrashic exegesis. Two prominent types of Homiletic Midrashic Exegesis are Petihah (Also called Proem) and Yalammedenu.
Petihah (Proem) Homiletic Midrash

Petihah (Aramaic: Petihta) is a Hebrew word meaning “opening” while “Proem” is a Greek word meaning prelude. In a Petihta Homiletic Exogesis an introductory text is given, a sermon is built on this introductory texts often using additional texts. The sermon closes with a final text which usually repeats or alludes to the initial text. This process usually involves Hillel’s second rule, G’ZARA SHEVA (equivalence of expressions) thru which catchwords or keywords link the sermon together, being found in the initial text, the final text, often in the additional texts, and in the exposition itself.

An example of Petihah Homiletic Exegesis can be found in the New Testament in Romans 9:6-26:

Keywords: seed, children/son & called. Introduction: Rom. 9:1-5 Initial Text: Gen. 21:12 = Rom. 9:6-8 Second Text: Gen. 18:10 = Rom. 9:9 Exposition: Rom. 9:10-28 Final Text: Is. 1:9 = Rom. 9:29

Another Example-:

Keywords: Righteous/Just; believe/faith
Introduction: Rom. 1:16 Initial Text: Rom. 1:17 Exposition: Rom. 1:18-2:5
Second Text: Rom. 2:6 = Ps. 69:12 & Prov. 24:12 Exposition: Rom. 2:7-3:9
Third Text: Rom. 3:10-18 = Ps. 14:1-3/53:1-3/Eccl. 7:20Exposition: Rom. 3:19-4:2
Fourth Text: Rom. 4:3 = Gen. 15:6 Exposition: Rom. 4:4-6
Fifth Text: Rom. 4:7-8 = Ps. 32:1-2 Final Exposition: Rom. 4:9-8:39
A whole series of examples of this type of Midrash may be found in Hebrews. Hebrews is an extended Homiletic Midrash on Psalm 110. In this Homiletic Midrash, Paul uses five sub-Midrashim which reveal the outline of the book as follows:

L THE MESSIAH HUMBLED AND EXALTED (1:1-3:6)
(YHWH said to my Adonai, sit at my right hand. Ps. 110:1 a)
A. Initial texts: (Heb. 1:5-13)(Ps. 2:7; 2Sam. 7:14; Deut. 32:46/Ps. 97:7; Ps. 104:4; Ps. 45:6, 7; Ps. 102:25-27; Ps. 110:1)
B. Exposition (1:14-2:5 )
C. Second Text: (2:6-8a) (Ps. 8:4-6)
D. Exposition: (2:8b-3:6)

H. THE WORLD YET TO BE SUBJECT TO HIM (3:6-4:13) (until your enemies are made your footstool Ps. 110:1 b) A. Initial text: (3:7-3:11) (Ps. 95:7-11) B. Exposition (3:12-4:3)
C. Second text (4:4) (Gen. 2:2)
D. Exposition (4:5-14)
18 Rom. 3:10-18 actually cites also Ps. 5:10(9); Ps. 140:4(3); Ps. 10:7; Is. 59:7-8; Prov. 1:16

IH. A MIDRASH on MELCHIZADEK (4:14-7:28)
(A priest forever after the order of Melchizadek Ps. 110:4) A. Introductory exposition (4:14-5:5) B. Initial text: (5:6) (Ps. 110:4) C. Exposition (5:7-11)
D. Parenthetical (5:12-6:12)
E. Second text (6:13-14) (Gen. 22:17) F. Exposition (6:15-7:28)

IV. THE PRIEST AT THE RIGHT HAND OF YHWH (8:1-9:28)
(Ps. 110:1 and Ps. 110:4 brought together) A. Introductory exposition (8:1-7) B. Initial text (8:8-12) (Jer. 31:31-34) C. Exposition (8:13-9:19) D. Second text (9:20) (Ex. 24:8) E. Exposition (9:21-9:28)

V. IN DEFENSE OF THE TEMPLE CEREMONIES (10:1-11:40) A. Introductory exposition (10:1-4)
B. Initial text (10:5-7) (Ps. 40:6-8)
C. Exposition (10:8-14)
D. Second text (10:15-17) (Jer. 3 1:33-34) E. Exposition (10:18-35)
F. Third text (10:36-38) (Hab. 2:3-4)
G. Exposition (10:39-11:40)

VI. CONCLUSION (12:1-13:25) Yelammedenu Homiletic Midrash
Yelammedenu Homiletic Midrash

Another form of Midrashic Exogesis is called Yelammedenu Homiletic Midrash. This form of midrash is very similar to the Proem Midrash, but it begins with a question or problem. A New Testament Example is:

Keywords: tradition, commandment & honor
Question/Problem: Mt. 15:1-3
Initial Texts: Ex. 20:12; 21:17 = Mt. 15:4
Exposition: Mt. 15:5-6
Final Text: Is. 29:13-14 = Mt. 15:7-9
I have given here only a few examples of each of these two forms of Midrash as found in the books of the “New Testament”. However you will find many examples of these forms throughout the “New Testament”. Identifying these forms will be an important aid to you in understanding the text. This is because identifying these forms as they occur will help you to identify the verses that are being commented upon, and help you to understand the exposition given by the NT exegete as comparing these two or more Tanak passages in light of each other.

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