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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Naḥmanides (1194–1271)

Naḥmanides (Moses ben Naḥman; Ramban) marks a new stage in the history of exegesis, since he was the first scholar who wrote his commentaries under the influence of both the Sephardic Andalusian (the region of southern Spain) and Ashkenazic traditions. Naḥmanides was a product of Christian Spain, but he unquestionably felt himself to be in the line of the Andalusian exegetical tradition and indeed advanced the cause of peshat exegesis with many insightful comments. At the same time he had absorbed the work of Rashi and the Northern French school and held it in high regard. He also did not hesitate to utilize the vast resources of rabbinic literature—Talmudim, halakhic and aggadic midrashim, as well as geonic and mystical works. In his introduction he speaks of his attitudes to both Abraham Ibn Ezra and Rashi, the dean of Northern French exegetes. He shows respect for both of his predecessors, but also is not afraid to criticize what he found wanting. Though certainly trained in grammar and philology, he found the Spanish approach as exemplified by Ibn Ezra to be excessively philological and therefore limiting. He was sympathetic to Rashi and his judicious selection of midrashic material, but here too, he did not hesitate to criticize a choice of midrash that he felt was too distant from the peshat. Thus he sought to strike a balance between the two approaches and to adopt a more holistic approach to the text. His commentaries are substantially longer than those of Rashi or Ibn Ezra, as he expanded the exegetical enterprise to encompass issues of theology, mysticism, ethics, history, or character analysis, thus weaving a particularly colorful and variegated tapestry which operated on several levels. His commentary is famous for its psychological insights and deep understanding of human nature. Although most Jewish exegetes avoided typology and pre‐figuration, because of their extensive use by Christian exegetes and theologians, Naḥmanides uses them extensively in his Torah commentary, connecting the deeds and travels of the patriarchs with subsequent events in Jewish history. To a larger extent than most exegetes, he was concerned with problems of structure, order, and thematic unity, explaining the reasons for the sequence of the books in the Torah and also for sequences of sections, verses, or even items in lists. For instance he invests a great deal of effort in explaining the order of the verses and sections in the parashah of Mishpatim (Exod. chs 21–23 ), a section of laws in no apparent logical order. Scholars have identified at least fourteen categories of hierarchies in his Torah commentary, including birth order, order of importance, order of preference, and in‐ creasing or decreasing order of severity (for sins). In this tendency he follows the rabbinic mind‐set for which nothing in the Torah is arbitrary or haphazard, but rather, as the word of God, has significance on multiple levels. Naḥmanides was also a kabbalist, steeped in mystical traditions of the Provençal school ofkabbalah. He included in his commentary, which was intended for a popular audience, numerous allusions to hidden meanings of the verses of the Torah and interpretations of obscure, difficult midrashim, thereby stimulating kabbalistic activity and lending an aura of legitimacy to the esoteric understanding of the Torah as propounded by kabbalistic theosophy.

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