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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 110a

But [this is really the explanation], if his mother's father [descended] from Joseph, his mother's mother1  [descended] from Jethro; if his mother's father [descended] from Jethro, his mother's mother [descended] from Joseph.2  [This may] also [be confirmed by] deduction, for it is written, of the daughters of Putiel, from which two3  [lines of ancestry]4  are to be inferred.

Raba said: He who [wishes] to take a wife should inquire about [the character of] her brothers. For it is said, And Aaron took Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon;5  since it is stated the daughter of Amminadab, would it not he obvious that she is the sister of Nahshon? Then why should it be expressly stated, the sister of Nahshon? From here, [then], it is to be inferred that he who takes a wife should inquire about [the character of] her brothers. It was taught:6  Most children resemble the brothers of the mother.

And they turned aside thither, and said unto him: 'Who brought thee hither?7  and what doest thou in this [place]?8  and what hast thou here?9  They10  said unto him:11  'Are you not a descendant of Moses of whom it is written, Draw not nigh hither?12  Are you not a descendant of Moses of whom it is written, What is this13  in thy hand?14  Are you not a descendant of Moses of whom it is written, But as for thee, stand thou here15  by me?16  Would you be made a priest for idol-worship?' — He said unto them: I have the following tradition from my grandfather's family: At all times shall one [rather] hire himself out to idol-worship than be in need [of the help] of [his fellow] creatures. He thought that 'Abodah Zarah17  [meant] actual [idol worship], but it is not so, [the meaning being,] 'work which is strange to him';18  as Rab said19  to R. Kahana: Flay20  a carcass in the street and earn21  a wage, and say not, 'I am a great man and the work is degrading to me'. When David saw that he had an exceptional liking for money, he put him in charge over the treasuries, for it is said, Shebuel the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh22  was ruler over the treasuries.23  But was his name Shebuel? Surely his name was Jonathan! — R. Johanan said: [He was called Shebuel]24  because he returned to God24  with all his heart.

AND SONS [INHERIT FROM, AND TRANSMIT TO THEIR] FATHER. Whence is this25  derived? — It is written, If a man die, [and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter].26  [From this it is to he inferred that] the reason27  is because he have no son but if he have a son the son takes precedence.28

R. Papa said to Abaye: Might it not be inferred29  that if there be a son, the son is to be the heir; [if] there be a daughter, the daughter is to be the heir; [and if] there be [both] a son and a daughter, neither the one is to he heir nor the other? — But

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. But not his own mother.
  2. In either ease, Phinehas was several generations removed from Jethro, while Jonathan, being the son of Gershom, was only two generations removed.
  3. The Yod in Putiel is regarded as a sign of the plural.
  4. Joseph and Jethro.
  5. Ex. VI, 23.
  6. Soph. XV, 20.
  7. [H]
  8. [H]
  9. [H] Judg. XVIII, 3.
  10. The Danites.
  11. Micah's priest.
  12. Ex. III, 5.
  13. [H]
  14. Ex. IV, 2.
  15. [H]
  16. Deut. V, 28.
  17. [H] may mean both 'idolatry' and 'strange work'.
  18. Uncongenial, below his dignity.
  19. Cf. Pes. 113a.
  20. Or 'dress'.
  21. Lit., 'take'.
  22. M.T. reads, Moses.
  23. I Chron. XXVI, 24.
  24. ktuca is composed of [H] (returned), and [H] (God).
  25. That sons take precedence over daughters.
  26. Num. XXVII, 8.
  27. For causing the inheritance to pass to a daughter.
  28. Over the daughter, who, however, according to a Rabbinical provision, is entitled, if unmarried to a tenth of the estate. Cf. Keth, 68a.
  29. From Num. XXVII, 8.

Baba Bathra 110b

who then should he the heir? Should the town collector1  he the heir! — It is this that I suggest: [If] there be a son and a daughter. neither the one nor the other should inherit all [the estate], but both together should inherit [it].2  Abaye said to him: Is, then,3  a Scriptural verse required to tell us that where there is a one and only son he inherits all the property?4  — Is it not possible, however, that [Scripture] meant to teach this: That a daughter also has a right of inheritance?5  — This6  is deduced from, And every daughter, that possesseth an inheritance.7  R. Aha b. Jacob said: [The law of a son's precedence over a daughter may he inferred] from here: Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he had no son?8  The reason,9  then, is because he had no son, but had he had a son, the son would have taken precedence. But it is not possible that the daughters of Zelophehad [only] said so,10  [and that] when the Torah was given11  the law received a new interpretation?12  — But the best [proof]13  is that given at first.14

Rabina said: [The law of a son's precedence may he inferred] from here: That is next to him,15  i.e., he who is nearest in relationship takes precedence. And [in] what [respect is] the relationship of a son [nearer] than [that of] a daughter? [Is it] in that he is [entitled] to take his father's place in designating [the Hebrew handmaid of his father to be his wife]16  and [in the redeeming] of a field of [his father's] possession?17  [Surely, as regards] designation, a daughter is not one to designate;18  [and as regards] the redemption of a 'field of possession', [a daughter] also [may he entitled to the same privilege as a son, by logical deduction] from the selfsame objection, from which the Tanna had deduced [the law that a son is entitled to this privilege]: 'Is there any levirate marriage except where there is no son?'19  — But the best proof is that given at first.20

If you like, I can say, [the law of the son's precedence] may be inferred from here: And ye may make them an inheritance for your sons21  after you,22  meaning, your sons but not your daughters. But in that case23  does, That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your sons,24  also mean 'your sons' and not 'your daughters'? — It is different [in the case of] a blessing.25

AND BROTHERS FROM THE [SAME] FATHER INHERIT [FROM]. AND TRANSMIT etc. Whence is this derived? — Rabbah said:26  It may be deduced [from a comparison of this] 'brotherhood'27  with the 'brotherhood' of the sons of Jacob;28  as there [the brotherhood was derived] from the father and not from the mother, so here [the brotherhood spoken of is that] from the father and not from the mother. What need is there29  [for this inference]? Surely it is written, Of his family. and he shall possess it,30  [and it has been deduced31  that] the family of the father is regarded [as the] family [but] the family of the mother is not regarded [as the] family! — This is so indeed, but the statement of Rabbah was made with reference to [the law of] levirate marriage.32

A MAN [INHERITS FROM] HIS MOTHER etc. Whence are these laws33  derived? — For our Rabbis taught:

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Or 'the elder of the town', 'town governor'.
  2. Both taking equal shares.
  3. Since a daughter, according to your opinion, is entitled to the same rights of inheritance as a son.
  4. The Scriptural text, then, which reads, If… (he) have no son, then shall ye cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter, which is obvious (v. previous note), should have read, instead, If a man die and have no issue then ye shall give his inheritance unto his brethren etc. (v. Num. XXVII, 8-9) The rest of the text, then shall ye cause … have no daughter (ibid), would thus become superfluous.
  5. Without specific mention, the daughter might have been excluded from the term 'issue' which would have been taken to apply to males only, for, without such specific mention, the entire context dealing with the laws of inheritance (Num. XXVII, 8-11) would have been speaking of males only. Hence it was necessary to mention 'daughter' in vv. 8-9. Once however a daughter's right to succession is established, there is need of evidence to prove that a son call claim precedence over her.
  6. That a daughter may be heir.
  7. Num. XXXVI, 8.
  8. Ibid. XXVII, 4.
  9. For the request on the part of Zelophehad's daughters for a share in the land.
  10. Believing that to be the law.
  11. The laws of inheritance were given subsequent to the representations of Zelophehad's daughters. V. Num. XXVII, 5-7ff.
  12. Giving sons and daughters equal rights of inheritance.
  13. That a son takes precedence.
  14. Supra 110a. 'It is written, if a man die etc.'
  15. Num. XXVII, 11.
  16. V. supra p. 449. n. 12.
  17. V. loc. cit. n. 13.
  18. And the law could not possibly have been applied to her.
  19. An argument that can likewise be applied in regard to a daughter. viz., 'Is there any levirate marriage except where there is no daughter?' In what respect, then, does a son stand nearer than a daughter in relationship to the father?
  20. V. n. 3.
  21. [H] is rendered here 'sons', though it may also bear the meaning of 'children'.
  22. Lev. XXV, 46.
  23. Lit., 'from now'.
  24. Deut. XI. 21. Cf. n. 10 supra.
  25. A blessing would include both sexes, though elsewhere the term sons applies to males only.
  26. Cf. Yeb. 17b, 22a.
  27. The expression 'brethren', used in Num. XXVII. 9.
  28. We thy servants are twelve brethren (Gen. XLII, 13).
  29. In the case of the laws of inheritance.
  30. Num. XXVII, 11.
  31. Supra 109b
  32. Where also the expression, 'brethren', is used: If brethren dwell together etc. (Deut. XXV, 5f). Only brothers of the same father are, accordingly, subject to the levirate law.
  33. Lit., 'words'; the laws that a son is heir to his mother as he is to his father, and, moreover, that he takes precedence over a daughter in such an inheritance. The laws in Num. XXVII, 8-9. do not deal with an inheritance from a mother.