Jewish Bible Commentaries

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What English language books can Jewish readers turn to for a religious, yet non-fundamentalist, Bible commentary? In many ways this list can be considered an alternative to ArtScroll.

The authors here draw from classical sources including the Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash, and Meforshim – classical Bible commentators of the medieval era, and findings from modern historical, archaeological, and comparative textual studies. Authors are Orthodox, Conservative and Reform.
Israel Book Shop Tanakh section

(יְהוֹשֻעַ / Yehoshua) – Joshua

Joshua: The Challenge of the Promised Land: Maggid Studies in Tanakh, Koren Publishers, 2015, Michael Hattin. The author highlights “how the many complex issues faced by the people as they fought to possess their new land mirror and shed light on today’s reality. Hattin approaches the text as literary narrative, considering it from the perspectives of rabbinic midrash, medieval commentary, and modern scholarship.”

Unusual Bible Interpretations: Joshua, Israel Drazin, Gefen Publishing House Gefen book link

(שופטים / Shophtim) – Judges

Marc Zvi Brettler, The Book of Judges: Old Testament Readings, Routledge, 2001

Unusual Bible Interpretations: Judges, Israel Drazin, Gefen Publishing

(שְׁמוּאֵל / Shmuel) – Samuel

“The David Story: A Translation with Commentary of 1 and 2 Samuel” Robert Alter, W. W. Norton & Company, 1999

Fox, Everett, “Give Us a King! Samuel, Saul, and David: A New Translation of Samuel I and II with an Introduction and Notes”

Halpern, Baruch, David’s Secret Demons: Messiah, Murderer, Traitor, King (Eerdmans, 2001)

1 Kings, Mordechai Cogan, Anchor Yale Bible – AB

2 Kings, Mordechai Cogan and Hayim Tadmor, Anchor Yale Bible – AB 11

(מלכים / Melakhim) – Kings

I Kings: Torn in Two (Studies in Tanakh) Hardcover – September 27, 2013
by Alex Israel

(יְשַׁעְיָהוּ / Yesha‘ayahu) – Isaiah

Thus Saith the Lord: The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah, Richard E. Rubenstein, 2006
“In ancient Judea, Jeremiah and Isaiah advised kings and priests and watched the great armies of the ancient Near East sweep across the desert, threatening and overtaking their tiny country with its burgeoning faith. Across centuries a new view emerged based on their words: Might does not make right; we are all the children of one God. Both the beautiful words of Isaiah and the frightening words of Jeremiah helped form our contemporary ideas of justice, ethics, and faith. Richard Rubenstein shows us the evolution of our own moral codes and how they transformed the god of the Israelites from a local deity into Adonai, the universal sovereign who requires ethical behavior and demands the pursuit of justice for all people.”

“Isaiah in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book, Part A: Mishnah, Tosefta, Tannaite Midrash-Compilations, Yerushalmi, and Associated Midrash-Compilations” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

“Isaiah in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book, Part B: The Later Midrash-Compilations and the Bavli” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

(יִרְמְיָהוּ / Yirmyahu) – Jeremiah

Jeremiah: The Fate of a Prophet, Maggid Studies in Tanakh, Koren Publishers, Binyamin Lau, 2013

Thus Saith the Lord: The Revolutionary Moral Vision of Isaiah and Jeremiah, Richard E. Rubenstein, 2006
“In ancient Judea, Jeremiah and Isaiah advised kings and priests and watched the great armies of the ancient Near East sweep across the desert, threatening and overtaking their tiny country with its burgeoning faith. Across centuries a new view emerged based on their words: Might does not make right; we are all the children of one God. Both the beautiful words of Isaiah and the frightening words of Jeremiah helped form our contemporary ideas of justice, ethics, and faith. Richard Rubenstein shows us the evolution of our own moral codes and how they transformed the god of the Israelites from a local deity into Adonai, the universal sovereign who requires ethical behavior and demands the pursuit of justice for all people.”

“Jeremiah in Talmud and Midrash” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America.
“This sourcebook collects and classifies how Israelite Scripture was received and recast in the language community that produced the dual Torah of Judaism. It is well known that verses of prophecy figure as proof-texts in Rabbinic exegesis of scriptural narratives, but to what end, and with what larger concept in mind? With extensive translation and documentation, author Jacob Neusner uses the case of Jeremiah in the Rabbinic canon of the formative age to examine the Rabbinic document’s response to the prophetic ones in terms of how they select, explain, and utilize the language of Scripture. ”

“Book of Jeremiah: a Commentary” Solomon Bennett Freehof, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1977

(יְחֶזְקֵיאל / Yĕkhezqiēl) – Ezekiel

“Ezekiel 1-20: A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible, Vol 22)” Moshe Greenberg, 1983

“Ezekiel 21-37 : A New Translation With Introduction and Commentary (Anchor Bible Series, Vol 22A)” Moshe Greenberg ,1997

“Ezekiel in Talmud and Midrash” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

“Book of Ezekiel: a Commentary” Freehof, Solomon B.
Union of American Hebrew Congregations, New York, 1978

The Twelve Minor Prophets (תרי עשר, Trei Asar, “The Twelve”)

Who Knows Twelve? Themes and Values in Trei Asar, Berel Wein, Maggid/Koren.
The author states “This is not a book of Biblical scholarship…. I am taking the liberty of sharing my thoughts with you because the study of our prophets is unfortunately limited, if not totally non-existent, in much of Jewish education today… As this is not a book of biblical scholarship, I have not burdened the reader with notes or references. …the mindset of this book is traditional and not critical, with due reverence to the holiness of the text and the exalted greatness of the twelve authors of Trei Asar.” As the book is more pious than academic, in a way it is less traditional than the author imagines: many of the meforshim (classic Jewish commentators) took a more critical view of the text, and cited their own sources, to some extent. What we see here is a bit more Artscroll inspired Orthodoxy, but I’m including it in the list because the topic is nonetheless much neglected in the religious Jewish community.

(הוֹשֵׁעַ / Hoshea) – Hosea

Unusual Bible Interpretations: Hosea, Israel Drazin, Gefen Publishing

“Hosea in Talmud and Midrash” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

Ben Zvi, Ehud, Hosea (Forms of the Old Testament Literature; Eerdmans, 2005)

(יוֹאֵל / Yoel) – Joel

“Micah and Joel in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

(עָמוֹס / Amos) – Amos

Unusual Bible Interpretations: Jonah and Amos, Israel Drazin, Gefen Publishing House Gefen

“Amos in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

(עֹבַדְיָה / Ovadhyah) – Obadiah

“Habakkuk, Jonah, Nahum, and Obadiah in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

(יוֹנָה / Yonah) – Jonah

“The JPS Bible Commentary: Jonah” Uriel Simon, JPS, PA, 1999

“Jonah: A Modern Commentary”, Translation and commentary by Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky ISBN: 0-8074-0860-3

Unusual Bible Interpretations: Jonah and Amos, Israel Drazin, Gefen Publishing House Gefen

(מִיכָה / Mikhah) – Micah

“Micah and Joel in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

Ben Zvi, Ehud, Micah (Forms of the Old Testament Literature)

(נַחוּם / Nakhum) – Nahum

“Habakkuk, Jonah, Nahum, and Obadiah in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

(חֲבַקּוּק /Havakuk) – Habakkuk

“Habakkuk, Jonah, Nahum, and Obadiah in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

(צְפַנְיָה / Tsephanyah) – Zephaniah

“Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of America

Zephaniah: The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, Adele Berlin, 1994

(חַגַּי / Khaggai) – Haggai

Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi: Prophecy in an Age of Uncertainty, Hayyim Angel, 2017. Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers.

Haggai, Zechariah 1-8 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, 2004) Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers.

Zechariah 9-14 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, 1998) Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers.

(זְכַרְיָה ) / Zkharyāh) – Zechariah

Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi: Prophecy in an Age of Uncertainty, Hayyim Angel, 2017. Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers.

Haggai, Zechariah 1-8 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, 2004) Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers.

Zechariah 9-14 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries, 1998) Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers.

(מַלְאָכִי / Malākhi) – Malachi

Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi: Prophecy in an Age of Uncertainty, Hayyim Angel, 2017. Maggid Books, an imprint of Koren Publishers.

Tehillim (Psalms) תְהִלִּים

“Songs of the Heart: An Introduction to the Book of Psalms” Nahum Sarna, Schocken Books, 1993. 298 pp.A scholar known for bringing the materials of the ancient Near East to bear on the interpretation of biblical texts, Sarna has created a detailed introduction to and commentary on ten of the psalms: 1, 8, 19, 15, 24, 30, 48, 82, 93 and 94.

“Four Approaches to the Book of Psalms” Uriel Simon, SUNY Press, NY, 1991

“On the Book of Psalms: Exploring the Prayers of Ancient Israel” Nahum M. Sarna, Schocken Books, 1993

“The Book of Psalms: A Translation with Commentary” Robert Alter, W. W. Norton, 2007

“The Lord Is My Shepherd: Why Do I Still Want?” Paul Plotkin, 2003

“Our Haven and Our Strength: The Book of Psalms” Martin Samuel Cohen, Aviv, 2003

“Healing Psalms” by Rabbi Joshua O. Haberman (Wiley, 2003)

“The Book of Psalms: a Commentary” Freehof, Solomon B., Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1938

“The Lord Is My Shepherd: Healing Wisdom of the 23rd Psalm” Harold S. Kushner, 2003

“The Bible: Psalms with the Jerusalem Commentary” trans. Rabbi Israel Berman, 3 volumes, Mosad Harav Kook, 2003. Commentary by Amos Hakham. A translation of the Da’at Mikra commentary on Tanach from Mosad Harav Kook.

“Rashi’s Commentary on Psalms” Jewish Publication Society, Mayer I. Gruber

“Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra’s Commentary on the First Book of Psalms: Chapters 1-41″ H. Norman Strickman, Long Dash Publishing, 2008

Mishlei (Book of Proverbs) מִשְלֵי

Proverbs 1-9 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) Michael V. Fox, 2000

Proverbs 10-31 (The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries) Michael V. Fox, 2009

“Mishlei: A Modern Commentary on Proverbs” Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky, URJ Press

Iyov (Book of Job) אִיּוֹב

“The Book of God and Man: A Study of Job” Robert Gordis, Chicago, 1965

“The Book of Job: Commentary, New Translation, and Special Studies” Robert Gordis 1978

Japhet, Sara “The Commentary of Rabbi Samuel Ben Meir (Rashbam) on the Book of Job” Jerusalem, 2000

“Book of Job; a commentary” Freehof, Solomon Bennett, Union of American Hebrew Congregations, 1958

“The Book of Job” Stephen Mitchell

“The Book of Job” Raymond P. Scheindlin

Shīr Hashīrīm (Song of Songs) שִׁיר הַשִׁירִים

“The Song of Songs and Lamentations: A Study, Modern Translation and Commentary” 1954 Robert Gordis

“The Song of Songs and Lamentations: A Study, Modern Translation and Commentary ” Revised edition, 1974, Ktav, Robert Gordis

The JPS Bible Commentary: Song of Songs, Michael Fishbane, 2015

Shir Ha-Shirim: The Song of Songs in H“Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi in Talmud and Midrash: A Source Book” Jacob Neusner, University Press of Americ, Hebrew and English with a Midrashic commentary.
Yitzhak I. Broch, Feldheim, 1983.

“Shir HaShirim: A Modern Commentary on Song of Songs” Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky. Using commentary from Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Gersonides, and others, as well as insights from related contemporary teachings, the line-by-line translation and commentary.

M. Fox, “The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs”

“The Song of Songs” Ariel Bloch and Chana Bloch, University of California Press 1995

Rut (Book of Ruth) רוּת

The JPS Bible Commentary: Ruth, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Tikva Frymer-Kensky, 2011

Ruth: From Alienation to Monarchy (Maggid Studies in Tanakh) Yael Ziegler, Koren, 2015

Unusual Bible Interpretations: Ruth, Esther and Judith, Israel Drazin, Gefen Publishing

Yitzhak I. Broch “Book of Ruth, as reflected in Rabbinic Literature” New York, Philipp Feldheim, 1975.

“Ruth: A Modern Commentary” Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky
This work incorporates interpretations from the Targum, Rashi, and Ibn Ezra, as well as scholarly and contemporary sources, to create an engaging and accessible modern commentary on this ancient text.

Eikhah (Lamentations) איכה

Lamentations: A Commentary. The Old Testament Library. Adele Berlin, 2002

“Eichah: A Modern Commentary on Lamentations” Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky. Using commentary from the Targum, Rashi, and Ibn Ezra, as well as contemporary sources.

Qohelet (Ecclesiastes) קהלת

“Koheleth: The Man and His World (A Study of Ecclesiastes)” 1968 revised edition, Robert Gordis

“Studies in Koheleth”, Harold Louis Ginzberg, 1948, NY

“Commentary on Ecclesiastes” Harold Louis Ginzberg, Jerusalem, 1961

“The JPS Bible Commentary: Ecclesiastes”, Michael V. Fox, 2004

“A Time to Tear Down and a Time to Build Up: A Rereading of Ecclesiastes” Michael V. Fox

“Kohelet: A Modern Commentary on Ecclesiastes” Leonard S. Kravitz and Kerry M. Olitzky. Using the classical commentaries of Rashi, Ibn Ezra and others, as well as modern critical scholarship, the authors have produced a line-by-line translation and commentary to accompany the Hebrew text of the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Ester (Book of Esther) אֶסְתֵר

“Megillat Esther: The Masoretic Hebrew Text With Introduction, New
Translation and Commentary” Robert Gordis, Jason Aronson Inc. 1995

“Esther: A Commentary” Jon D. Levenson, OTL, Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997

The JPS Bible Commentary: Esther, Adele Berlin, 2001

Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther, Michael V. Fox, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company; 2nd edition, 2001

Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought, Aaron Koller, 2014

Esther Unmasked: Solving Eleven Mysteries of the Jewish Holidays and Liturgy, Mitchell First, 2015

Daniel (Book of Daniel) דָּנִיֵּאל

“Studies in Daniel”, Harold Louis Ginzberg, 1948 NY

Ezrā (Book of Ezra-Book of Nehemiah) עזרא-נְחֶמְיָה

Revelation Restored: Divine Writ and Critical Responses, 1998, David Weiss Halivni

In an Age of Prose: A Literary Approach to Ezra-Nehemiah, Tamara Cohn Eskenazi, Society of Biblical Literature, 1988

Divrei ha-Yamim (Chronicles) דברי הימים

The Ideology of the Book of Chronicles and Its Place in Biblical Thought, Sara Japhet, Eisenbrauns, 1989/2009

History, Literature and Theology in the Book of Chronicles, Ehud Ben Zvi

“Radak’s Commentary to Chronicles and the Development of his Exegetical Programme”, Yitzhak Berger, Journal of Jewish Studies, Volume: 57(1), p.80-98, 2006

“The Commentary Of Rabbi David Kimhi To Chronicles: A Translation With Introduction and Supercommentary”, Brown Judaic Studies. Yitzhak Berger

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Multi-book commentaries

“The Prophets” Abraham Joshua Heschel, Pub. by Harpercollins

Strong As Death Is Love: The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel, A Translation with Commentary, Robert Alter, 2015

Ancient Israel: The Former Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings
Robert Alter, W. W. Norton & Company 2013

The Wisdom Books: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes: A Translation with Commentary, Robert Alter, 2010

The Early Prophets: Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings: The Schocken Bible, Volume II, Everett Fox, 2014

The JPS Bible Commentary: Haftarot, Michael Fishbane, 2002

The Haftarah Commentary, W. Plaut (Author), Chaim Stern, 1996