Our knowledge of the nature of medieval Jewish public sermons is limited and our conclusions mostly inferential. Nonetheless, based upon the sermon literature and through analysis of various introductions and manuals for preachers of the time, we can fairly accurately reconstruct the oral sermon. We know where and when sermons were delivered, their content, the characteristics of the various preachers, the expectations of the listeners and the efforts the preachers made to make their sermons appealing to a diverse audience. Inevitably, over the course of centuries, both the form and the content of sermons changed. This was in response to the shifting needs and desires of audiences and reflects the changes in orientation of the various periods, such as the move from philosophically based sermons to those with Kabbalistic or Halakhic content.
Rabbi Yoel Ibn Shu’eibOlat Shabbat (Venice: Zo’an de-Garah1576) sermon for Genesis. In his introduction Shu’eib speaks about the homiletic sermons though he does not mention that he was also a public speaker and that his book is the written adaptation of his sermons; Yizhak Ibn Aroyo Tanhumot El (Thessaloniki: David Azoviv 1578) introduction.