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The Midrash is a compilation of Jewish commentaries of the Old Testament Scriptures that was gathered between 400 and 1200 A.D.  It is a set of interpretations of The Law and a set of traditional interpretations of scripture. They were initially orally transmitted and then later written down.  The volume of writings increased over the centuries and were gathered and became known as the Midrash.

"Midrashic material was preserved orally from its inception for a considerable period, and only in the 2nd cent. A.D. were the halakic midrashim written down. The most important of these were the Mekilta (treatise) to Exodus and the Sifra (book) on Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The earliest written haggadah was the midrash on Genesis, going back to the 3rd cent. A.D., and this was followed by the midrashim on the rest of the Pentateuch and the Five Scrolls (Megilloth). These commentaries became known as the Midrash Rabbah, and with later compositions were much favored by the rabbis for homiletical purposes."1

The word "midrash" occurs two times in the Hebrew in the Old Testament but is translated into the English with different words.

  • 2 Chronicles 13:22, "Now the rest of the acts of Abijah, and his ways and his words are written in the treatise [midrash] of the prophet Iddo.
    • ESV, NRSV, KVJ, RSV - story; NIV - annotations; NLT - commentary; NKJV - annals
  • 2 Chronicles 24:27, "As to his sons and the many oracles against him and the rebuilding of the house of God, behold, they are written in the treatise [midrash] of the Book of the Kings. Then Amaziah his son became king in his place."
    • ESV, KJV, - story, NIV - annotations; RSV, NRSV, NLT - commentary; NKJV - annals
  • 1. Bromiley, Geoffrey W., ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised. Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988.

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.