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The text of the Torah refers to the sea "splitting" (וַיִּבָּקְעוּ הַמָּיִם - Ex.14:21). Where is the first source where the Sages refer to this event as "tearing" (קריעה)?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

It shows up in תוספתא ברכות ב:א. I cannot find an earlier source.

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Pesachim 118a quotes Rav Shizvi in the name of R' Elazar ben Azarya "קשין מזונותיו של אדם כקריעת ים סוף" and Brachos 58a says "במתניתא תנא משמיה דר' עקיבא

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Indeed, though @Daniel's answer quoting Tosefta would seem to be older than the Gemara. Granted that R' Elazar ben Azarya and R' Akiva were both Tannaim, but they're still being quoted by Amoraim, which is second hand. So thus far, the Tosefta is still holding the "earliest source" baton. :-) – Shaul Behr Apr 23 '14 at 10:58
@Shaul - Being second hand is irrelevant - they are quoting a source. Also, in the Tosefta it is the teaching of אחרים which according to the gemara in Horiyos is R. Meir, a talmid of R. Akiva. – user4523 Apr 24 '14 at 14:50

I think that if Dr. Ernest Goldschmidt's hypopthesis regarding the דיינו poem is correct - that it was composed during the glory days of the temple, seeing as it's the poem's concluding theme - then it might be the oldest source.

A thought of mine on the origins of the phrase: maybe it's based on the Pasuk in Tehillim 136: "לגוזר ים סוף לגזרים", but since "גזירת ים סוף" would have a different meaning in Mishnaic Hebrew they used the term "קריעה".

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Very interesting! Never heard before of Dayenu being ascribed to the temple era. What other opinions are there of its authorship? – Shaul Behr Apr 24 '14 at 13:29
Comment from @Daniel (who doesn't have enough rep to comment himself): There are other words in mishnaic Hebrew for "cutting"; it did not need to be changed to "tearing". The tannaic source in the tosefta was also around during the temple period. The entire proof that dayenu is from that period is that it says ubana lanu es beis habechira without reference to its destruction or the hope that it will be rebuilt. That would have been relevant at the time of R. Nosson as well, since he lived during the time of the mikdash... (contd.) – Shaul Behr Apr 24 '14 at 13:49
@Daniel comment continued: While it is possible that it is earlier, there is no evidence that it is. There is evidence which is far from absolute that it was from the same time period. – Shaul Behr Apr 24 '14 at 13:50
@Shaul "boke'ah" would have been a good choice to replace gozer, since it's used in Tanach to refer to splitting the sea, and has no other meaning in Mishnaic Hebrew. – Y ez Apr 24 '14 at 20:13

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