One of the delights of my interest in Hebrew roots and learning new things has been the richness of seeing things from a different perspective. Considering the fact that the entirety of the Bible was written by men who were grounded in the Jewish faith, it makes sense to know more of that mindset and background to better understand where they were coming from. I have found that some of the things that appear in the New Testament have roots that go into other documents beyond the OT and that it makes for fascinating study.
Recently, I stumbled across the “Legends of the Jews” online. It is some fun reading. I would certainly advise keeping it in perspective, we are not talking about biblical level authority here and there are many things in the text that are obviously not true. But there are many stories and anecdotes that you can recognize as an influence on the NT writers and even some things that are recognizable in the teachings of Jesus as well.
One of the ones that really struck me as interesting was an account for the reason that Pharaoh chose to drown the Israelite babies in the water of the Nile:
They knew that God pays measure for measure, therefore they believed that the drowning of the men children would be the safest means of exterminating the Hebrews, without incurring harm themselves, for the Lord had sworn unto Noah never again to destroy the world by water. Thus, they assumed, they would be exempt from punishment, wherein they were wrong, however. In the first place, though the Lord had sworn not to bring a flood upon men, there was nothing in the way of bringing men into a flood. Furthermore, the oath of God applied to the whole of mankind, not to a single nation. The end of the Egyptians was that they met their death in the billows of the Red Sea. “Measure for measure”–as they had drowned the men children of the Israelites, so they were drowned.
The concept of “measure for measure” is indeed a biblical concept and it is interesting to note, that the drowning in the Red Sea of the Egyptian army is a sort of “measure for measure” from God for their earlier acts.
As I said, these writings don’t carry a biblical level of authority, but they do make for some fun and interesting reading and can be thought provoking as well. It certainly beats a lot of books that come out these days.