Original Research

Midrash as exegetical approach of early Jewish exegesis, with some examples from the Book of Ruth

Man Ki Chan, Pieter M. Venter
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 66, No 1 | a787 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v66i1.787 | © 2010 Man Ki Chan, Pieter M. Venter | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 20 January 2010 | Published: 18 October 2010

About the author(s)

Man Ki Chan, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Pieter M. Venter, University of Pretoria, South Africa

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This article deals with the exegetical approach of the early Jewish school. It discusses the meaning and definition of midrash as a distinctive approach in Jewish interpretation. The relationship between midrash and exegesis is also examined. It is shown how the process of interpretation is affected by the use of midrash principles. It is also pointed out that the ancient interpretative method of midrash had social relevancy. The midrashic interpreters maintained the interest of the community and fulfilled the needs of their generation. The conclusion is drawn that early Jewish exegetes did not explain the text for its inherent meaning, but rather for its use in personal purposes. They tended to read some agendas and issues into the text from the exegetes themselves and their surrounding backgrounds. They aimed to meet the requirement of the social and political expectations of their reader community. Interpretation was used as a tool for this purpose. This exegetical trend is finally illustrated with some examples of interpretation of the Book of Ruth.


The Book of Ruth; interpretation; Jewish exegesis; Midrash; social relevancy; reader community


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