Hebrew Bible commentaries manuscript: Colophons and commentary by Rashi

Introduction: Like most pages in this manuscript (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Cod. hebr. 5, vols. 1 and 2), fol. 47v contains passages from the Bible commentary of Rabbi Solomon ben Yitzhak (1040–1105). Known by the acronym Rashi, he was one of the most important medieval Jewish authors and legal authorities. Three texts are translated here. First are the two colophons that appear at the end of the manuscript (a). The next excerpt (b) is from Exodus, the subject of Rashi's commentary. These biblical passages provide essential context for Rashi's explanations (c), which methodically examine each biblical word or phrase in turn. Some passages have been simplified to aid comprehension.


(a) Colophons

The first colophon is written in circular medallions across seven folios in vol. 2 (252v–255v); the second is written more conventionally in the same volume on fol. 256r.
I, Solomon son of Rabbi Samuel, wrote these commentaries of twenty-four books for Rabbi Joseph, son of Rabbi Moses, in the year four thousand nine hundred and ninety three since the creation of the world [1232/33 CE], and this will be my remembrance when I return to my dust [die].
I, Solomon son of Rabbi Samuel, from the city of Würzburg wrote these commentaries of twenty-four books for Rabbi Joseph, son of Rabbi Moses, in the year four thousand nine hundred and ninety three since the creation of the world. May God give him [Joseph] the merit to study with them [these books] and to bequeath them to his children and grandchildren until the end of all generations. Amen.
(b) Exodus 5:22–6:3
(5:22) Moses returned to God and said, "God, why did you harm this nation? Why did you send me? (5:23) Since I came to Pharaoh to speak for You, he has harmed this nation, and You have not saved Your nation." (6:1) God said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, because with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will banish them from his land."

Note: verse 6:1 marks the liturgical end of the weekly Torah portion called in Hebrew Shemot ("These are the Names"); 6:2 is the beginning of Vaera ("I appeared")
(6:2) God spoke to Moses and said to him "I am God. (6:3) I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob with the name El Shaddai, and my name YHWH I did not make known to them.'"
(c) Commentary

The beginning of fol. 47v continues Rashi's commentary on Exodus 5:9, but the translation provided here, which is pertinent to the image, begins in column 2, line 17 (on Exod. 5:22), and continues on much of fol. 48r; only a small part is reproduced here. In general, Rashi presumes that his reader will be able to fill in biblical citations or other references that are only abbreviated or implied. To give a sense of the terseness of Rashi's text while still clarifying what he has written, the following conventions are used (none of these aids appear in the medieval manuscript):
(numbers in parentheses): the biblical verse in Exodus, as in the passage above

boldface type: the biblical text on which Rashi is commenting

regular type: Rashi's commentary

(words in parentheses): what Rashi means

[words in brackets]: supplied to help the reader

(5:22) Why did you harm—If You (God) should reply, "Why is it your concern?," I resent that you sent me. (5:23) He has harmed—This word is in the causative form, meaning "he has caused harm to them," as its [Aramaic] translation is "he has mistreated them." (6:1) Now you will see—You questioned my methods, unlike Abraham, to whom I said "for [those who come] through Isaac will be called your offspring" [Gen. 21:12], and afterward I told him (Abraham), "Go forth . . . and sacrifice him (Isaac) . . . as a burnt offering" [Gen. 22:2], and he still did not question Me. Therefore, Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh, and you will not see what is done to the kings of the seven nations when I bring them (the Children of Israel) to the Land. Because with a strong hand he will send them out—Because it (my hand) was strengthened over him, he sent them. And with a strong hand he will banish them from his land—He (Pharaoh) will banish Israel against their will, and they will not stop to prepare provisions, as it says, "Egypt pressured the nation (of Israel), to rush to send them out of the land" [Exod. 12:33].

Note: the large word at the bottom of column 2 indicates the end of the weekly Torah portion Shemot. It says END of "These are the Names" and then provides more liturgical information: "additional [reading] in Isaiah "[In] the coming [days] Jacob will take root" [Isa. 27:6].

(6:2) Spoke [enlarged word in gold, with picture] God to Moses—He spoke to him in judgment, on account of his (Moses's) speaking harshly when he said, "why did you harm this nation?" [Exod. 5:22]. And said to him, "I am God [YHWH]"—Trusted to pay reward to those who go before me. And I did not send you for nothing; rather, to keep my earlier promises. We find this (name of God) interpreted as such in a few places: "I am God, trusted to pay"; when it is said regarding punishment, "you will have defiled the name of your god, I am God" [Lev. 19:12], and when it is said regarding fulfillment of positive commandments, e.g., "you should guard (the positive commandments) and do them, I am God" [Lev. 22:31] (it means that) God can be trusted to give reward. Alternatively, God spoke to Moses and said to him "I am God."—In this verse, we find a connotation of harshness and a connotation of mercy. The connotation of harshness: God spoke to Moses—"Spoke" [vayidaber] is a connotation of harshness, as it says, "He spoke with them harshly" [Gen. 42:7], and (this particular name of) 'God' is a connotation of the trait of judgment, as it says, "In the beginning God created" [Gen. 1:1], and it is explained in the beginning of Genesis. [Regarding the connotation of mercy]: and said [vayomer] to him, "I am God."—[This particular name of] God is always a connotation of the trait of mercy, as it says, "God said . . . " and as it says, "God, God, God of mercy and grace" [Exod. 34:6]. And what is it coming to teach you, with these two traits, the trait of judgment and the trait of mercy? To teach you that God began speaking harshly to Moses and to reprimand him for saying, "You have not saved Your nation," but Moses said before God, "Master of the world, I know that in Your hand you have the strength to do anything you want, and to save whomever you want to save,

[end of fol. 47v]

and if I sinned before you, I am dirt and ashes and it is in your hand to do your will with me." When God heard that he (Moses) had regretted what he said, he was filled with mercy and began to speak to him in a merciful tone, as it says, "and said to him 'I am God.'" (6:3) I appeared to Abraham—I appeared to the forefathers with [the name] El Shaddai—I promised them promises, and in all of them I said to them, "I am El Shaddai." And my name YHWH I did not make known to them—It does not say, “I did not make known”; it says, “I did not become known,” meaning I was not recognized by them with my trait of truthfulness, for which my name is YHWH—trustworthy to make my words come true, because I promised and did not fulfill my promises for them.

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Hebrew Bible commentaries (Munich, BSB, Cod. Hebr. 5, vol. 1, fol. 47v)