The homiletic Midrashim are characterized by (a) a proem, an introduction based upon some biblical text (not from the lesson itself), which led up to (b) the exposition of the lesson, the first verse of which is more fully discussed than the rest.
But the sermons or discourses of the homiletic Midrashim are classified according to the reading of the Pentateuch in the Synagogue, either the three year cycle, or else according to the sections of the Pentateuch and Prophetical books assigned to special and ordinary Sabbaths and festival days.
There are also Midrashim on the Canticle, Ruth, Ecclesiastes, Esther and the Psalms, belonging to this later period, the Pirge R.
Both contain Halaka and Haggada, although the Mishna itself is essentially Halaka, and the Midrashim are more especially Haggadic; and consequently further information bearing upon Midrash must be sought in the art.
Later Jewish and Christian speculation followed on the lines of the angelology of the earlier apocalypses; and angels play an important part in Gnostic systems and in the Jewish Midrashim and the Kabbala.
The book exists in two forms: the shorter, which is preserved only in Hebrew (see under Hebrew Midrashim below), is, according to Scholz, Lipsius, Ball and Gaster, the older; the longer form is that contained in the versions.
Of collections of Midrash the chief are (a) the Yalqut Shimeoni, which arranges the material according to the text of the Old Testament (extending over the whole of it), preserves much from sources that have since disappeared, and is valuable for the criticism of the text of the Midrashim (recent ed.