Are there classic Commentators who took a non-Aggadic view of Biblical characters?

There are certain people mentioned in Tanach who look one way according to a simple reading of the "Biblical text," and another way when viewed according to the derashos of Chazal.

For example, Shimshon Hagibor. A simple reading of the text would lead one to think that he was a great fighter, but not much a tzaddik, whereas Chazal saw him as a tzaddik.

Another example is Avraham Avinu. Chazal say that he fulfilled all the mitzvos, that he came to believe in Hashem on the basis of his own understanding, that he taught the world to believe in G-d. Many sources depict him as the pillar of chesed. Yet, all this is pretty scarce based on a simple reading of the Biblical text.

Are there some classical Commentators who viewed such characters in a way that is close to the Biblical text, or did all of them view these characters as they are depicted in the Midrashim and Aggados of Chazal? How did the Rambam view Biblical characters such as Avraham Avinu?

  • 1
    The chesed bit at least is fairly well attested to by the events of the beginning of Parshas Vayerah (including advocating for Sodom)
    – AKA
    Dec 17, 2023 at 10:02
  • 1
    Okay, I concede the point regarding chesed. If Encylopedia Britannica can see the chesed, it must be pretty blatant: "Abraham is pictured with various characteristics: a righteous man, with wholehearted commitment to God; a man of peace (in settling a boundary dispute with his nephew Lot), compassionate (he argues and bargains with God to spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah), and hospitable (he welcomes three visiting angels);" britannica.com/biography/Abraham
    – shmu
    Dec 17, 2023 at 10:37
  • How did Rambam view Avraham - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Dec 17, 2023 at 11:29
  • @Dov That is an enlightening source. Thank you.
    – shmu
    Dec 17, 2023 at 12:00
  • 1
    Presumably they thought we all were doing this. You can't actually appreciate the agada without first understanding what's there to build on
    – Double AA
    Dec 17, 2023 at 12:41


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .