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Talmudic literature

Jerusalem TalmudBabylonian Talmud
Minor tractates

Halakhic Midrash

Mekhilta de-Rabbi Yishmael (Exodus)
Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon (Exodus)
Sifra (Leviticus)
Sifre (Numbers & Deuteronomy)
Sifre Zutta (Numbers)
Mekhilta le-Sefer Devarim (Deuteronomy)
Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael

Aggadic Midrash

—— Tannaitic ——
Seder Olam Rabbah
Alphabet of Akiba ben Joseph
Baraita of the Forty-nine Rules
Baraita on the Thirty-two Rules
Baraita on Tabernacle Construction
—— 400–600 ——
Genesis RabbahEichah Rabbah
Pesikta de-Rav Kahana
Esther RabbahMidrash Iyyov
Leviticus RabbahSeder Olam Zutta
Midrash TanhumaMegillat Antiochus
—— 650–900 ——
Avot of Rabbi Natan
Pirkei de-Rabbi Eliezer
Tanna Devei Eliyahu
Alphabet of Ben-Sira
Kohelet RabbahCanticles Rabbah
Devarim RabbahDevarim Zutta
Pesikta RabbatiMidrash Samuel
Midrash ProverbsRuth Rabbah
Baraita of SamuelTargum sheni
—— 900–1000 ——
Ruth ZutaEichah Zuta
Midrash TehillimMidrash Hashkem
Exodus RabbahCanticles Zutta
—— 1000–1200 ——
Midrash TadsheSefer ha-Yashar
—— Later ——
Yalkut ShimoniYalkut Makiri
Midrash JonahEin Yaakov
Midrash ha-GadolNumbers Rabbah
Smaller midrashim

Rabbinic Targum

—— Torah ——
Targum Onkelos
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
Fragment TargumTargum Neofiti

—— Nevi'im ——
Targum Jonathan

—— Ketuvim ——
Targum TehillimTargum Mishlei
Targum Iyyov
Targum to the Five Megillot
Targum Sheni to Esther
Targum to Chronicles

The Mekhilta de-Rabbi Shimon (Hebrew: מכילתא דרבי שמעון בר יוחאי) is a Halakic midrash on Exodus from the school of R. Akiba, the "Rabbi Shimon" in question being Shimon bar Yochai. No midrash of this name is mentioned in Talmudic literature, but medieval authors refer to one which they call either "Mekilta de-R. Simeon b. Yoḥai," or "Mekilta Aḥrita de-R. Shimon," or simply "Mekilta Aḥeret" = "another mekilta."

References by later writers

From this Mekhilta passages are cited, especially by Naḥmanides in his Pentateuchal commentary on Gen. xlix. 31; Ex. xiv. 19, xxi. 3, xxii. 12; Lev. xxiii. 24; and by R. Todros ha-Levi in his works Sefer ha-Razim and Oẓar ha-Kabod (MSS. in the Königliche Hofund Staatsbibliothek, Munich; comp. M. H. Landauer in Orient, Lit. 1845, vi. 182 et seq.).

Until the early 1900s, aside from these quotations and some given by certain authors of the 16th century, as Elijah Mizraḥi in his commentary on Rashi's commentary on the Pentateuch, R. Shem-Ṭob b. Abraham in his Migdal 'Oz to Maimonides' Yad, and R. Meïr ibn Gabbai in his Tola'at Ya'aḳob (p. 63b, Cracow, 1570), the only other extract of any length from the Mekilta de-R. Shimon which was known was the one published by R. Isaac Elijah Landau from a manuscript of R. Abraham Halami, as an appendix to his edition of the Mekilta (Wilna, 1844).

Rabbinical Eras

There were, therefore, various erroneous opinions regarding this lost work. Zunz (G. V. p. 419, note a) considered it as a cabalistic work ascribed to R. Simeon b. Yoḥai. M. H. Landauer (l.c.) identified it with the Mekilta de-R. Yishmael, while J. Perles (in Monatsschrift, 1858, pp. 145 et seq.) held that the medieval authors applied the name "Mekilta de-R. Shim'on" merely to his maxims which were included in the Mekilta de-R. Yishmael, since separate sentences could be called "mekilta". M. Friedmann was the first to maintain, in his introduction to the Mekilta of R. Ismael (pp. 54 et seq., Vienna, 1870), that, in addition to R. Ishmael's work, there was a halakic midrash to Exodus by R. Simeon, which was called the "Mekilta de-R. Shim'on," and that this Mekilta formed part of the Sifre mentioned in the Talmud Babli (Sanh. 86a; Ber. 47b; Meg. 28b; Ḳid. 49a; Sheb. 41b); Ḥag. 3a).

This assumption of Friedmann's was subsequently confirmed by the publication of a geonic responsum (A. Harkavy, Teshubot ha-Ge'onim, p. 107, No. 229, Berlin, 1888), where a baraita from the Sifre de-Be Rab to Exodus is quoted, which is the same passage as that cited by Naḥmanides from the Mekilta de-R. Shimon b. Yoḥai, in his commentary on Ex. xxii. 12. This extract designates the work of R. Ishmael as the "Mekilta of Palestine," in contradistinction to R. Simeon b. Yoḥai's midrash. It is clear, therefore, that the Mekilta of R. Simeon was implied in the title Sifre de-Be Rab (comp. D. Hoffmann, Einleitung in die Halachischen Midraschim, p. 46); and it is mentioned in the Midrash Tehillim (ed. S. Buber, Wilna, 1891), p. 252 (comp. Buber's note there), under the Hebrew name Middot R. Shim'on b. Yoḥai.

It is possible also that Simeon himself intended to refer to his midrash in his saying: "Learn my middot" (Giṭ. 67a). The Judean sources, the Yerushalmi and the haggadic midrashim, introduce baraitot from this Mekilta with the phrase, "Teni R. Shim'on" = "R. Simeon has taught" (comp. Friedmann, introduction to his edition of the Mekilta, pp. 55 et seq.; Hoffmann, l.c. p. 48). The phrase "Tena de-Be R. Shim'on" is extremely rare, however, in Babli, where this midrash ranks as one of the "Sifre de-Be Rab" (Hoffmann, l.c. p. 50). Many sentences of R. Simeon are quoted there in the name of his son Eleazar, so that Hoffmann has very plausibly concluded (l.c. p. 51) that Eleazar edited his father's midrash.

Current status

The Mekilta de-R. Shim'on has disappeared, but some extracts from it have been preserved in the collection known as Midrash ha-Gadol, as I. Lewy first pointed out (Ein Wort über die Mechilta des R. Simon). These fragments have been collected by D. Hoffmann and published under the title Mechilta des R. Simon b. Jochai in the Hebrew monthly Ha-Peles (vols. i. to iv., passim).

This Mekilta compiled from the Midrash ha-Gadol preserves abundant material from the earliest Scriptural commentaries, quoting, for instance, a sentence from the Doreshe Reshumot on Ex. xxi. 12 (Ha-Peles, iii. 258) which is found nowhere else. It contains also much from post-Talmudic literature (comp. Hoffmann, l.c. p. 387, note 19), for the collector and redactor of the Midrash ha-Gadol had a peculiar way of dressing sentences of such medieval authorities as Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Aruk, and Maimonides in midrashic garb and presenting them as ancient maxims (comp. S. Schechter, Introduction to Midrash ha-Gadol, p. 13, Cambridge, 1902).

Jewish Encyclopedia bibliography

  • M. Friedmann, introduction to his edition of the Mekilta, pp. 51-73, Vienna, 1870;
  • D. Hoffmann, Einleitung in die Halachischen Midraschim, pp. 45-51, Berlin, 1887;
  • I. Lewy, Ein Wort über die Mechilta des R. Simon, Breslau, 1889.

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