Friedrich Weinreb (1910-1988) was an exceptional figure in twentieth-century Judaism. His path-breaking book Roots of the Bible: An Ancient View For a New Vision opens the depths of the "word-hoard" of Jewish wisdom. He taps, as a source of inspiration for our present world, "the sacred oral teaching" preserved for millennia in scholarly redoubts remote from the ways of the world. He left behind an extensive body of work, in which often astonishing connections can be found between the Biblical world-view and that of today. When it first appeared in Dutch in 1963, this book heralded the veritable rediscovery of a foundational stratum of the Old Testament. For the first time, those keen to penetrate what the Bible has to say but confused by what on the surface often seems an impenetrable narrative, were offered a key to unlocking the mystery of its way of telling stories (from narrative, to word, to letter, to "number") in a cosmologically-expanded "gematria" suited also to those unfamiliar with the original Hebrew. Weinreb communicates so vivid and profound a knowledge of Hebrew that through his work the reader quickly comes to experience the spirit and richness of the original text.
The stories of the book of Genesis-from the Creation of the World and of Humanity, Cain and Abel, the Flood, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Esau, to the story of Joseph-are explored in detail, as are also the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, the Crossing of the Red Sea, and the many events on the Journey through the Wilderness to the very brink of the Promised Land.
Readers may find here answers to hitherto intractable obstacles to their understanding of the Bible-answers not only satisfying, but often astonishing! How are we to understand stories that sometimes provoke moral doubts, such as the matriarch Sarah sending Hagar into the wilderness, or Jacob receiving blessing despite having betrayed his brother Esau and even his own father, or Joseph being sold into slavery by his own brothers? Why are there so many sacrifices in the Bible, especially of animals? Why all the genealogical tables with their hundreds of names that no longer seem to say anything to us? The reader will find these, and many other perplexing questions answered in a breathtaking new light.
According to ancient Jewish custom, in times of grave danger-such times as ours, with its epidemic of death-we are called to withdraw the Holy Book from the Sanctuaries where it otherwise abides and carry it through the menacing streets of our habitations in order to break the plague. Such, in sum, is the intention and mission of this remarkable work.
The book is enriched with an extensive appendix containing the author's notes and references, a bibliography of the most important sources of the tradition, biographical and bibliographical details, and indexes of persons and subjects, of Hebrew words, of figures, and of Biblical passages.