Previous Folio / Baba Bathra Contents / Tractate List / Navigate Site

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 14a

and if he wants to divide he may do so. What is the meaning [of these last words]? — What it means is, Because if he wants to divide he may do so.1

A contradiction was pointed out [between this rule and the following]: At the beginning of the book and the end there must be sufficient empty space to roll round. To roll round what? If to roll round the cylinder, this contradicts what was said about the circumference!2  If to roll round the circumference, this contradicts what was said about the cylinder!3  — R. Nahman b. Isaac answered: The statement applies in both ways.4  R. Ashi, however, replied that this statement refers only to a Scroll of the Law,5  as it has been taught: Other books are rolled up from the beginning to the end,6  but the Scroll of the Law closes at its middle, there being a cylinder at each end. R. Eliezer son of R. Zadok said: This is how the scribes in Jerusalem used to make their scrolls.

Our Rabbis taught: A scroll of the Law should be such that its length does not exceed its circumference nor Its circumference its length,7  Rabbi was asked what should be the size of a scroll of the Law.8  He replied: With thick parchment, six handbreadths, with thin parchment9  I do not know. R. Huna wrote seventy scrolls of the Law and hit the exact measurement with only one. R. Aha b. Jacob wrote one on calf's skin, and hit it exactly. The Rabbis looked at him [enviously] and he died. The Rabbis said to R. Hamnuna: R. Ammi wrote four hundred scrolls of the Law. He said to them: Perhaps he copied out the verse, Moses commanded us a law.10  Raba [similarly] said to R. Zera: R. Jannai planted four hundred vineyards, and he answered: Perhaps each consisted of two and two vines facing and one as a tail.11

An objection was brought [against the statement regarding the size of a scroll from the following]: The ark which Moses made was two cubits and a half in length, a cubit and a half in breadth, and a cubit and a half in height, the cubit being six handbreadths. The tablets were six handbreadths in length, six in breadth and three in thickness. They were placed lengthwise in the ark.12  Now how much of the length of the ark was taken up by the tablets? Twelve handbreadths. Three therefore were left. Take away one handbreadth, a half for each side of the ark,13  and there were left two handbreadths, and in these the scroll of the Law was deposited. [That a scroll was in the ark we know because] it says, There was nothing in the ark save the two tables of stone which Moses put there.14  Now in the words 'nothing' and 'save' we have a limitation following a limitation, and the purpose of a limitation following a limitation is to intimate the presence of something which is not mentioned, in this case the scroll of the Law which was deposited in the ark. You have accounted for the length of the ark, now account for its breadth. How much of the [breadth of the] ark do the tables take up? Six handbreadths. Three therefore are left. Take away one, half for [the thickness of] each side, and two are left, so as to allow the scroll to be put in and taken out without squeezing. This is the opinion of R. Meir. R. Judah says that the cubit of the ark had only five handbreadths. The tables were six handbreadths in length, six in breadth and three in thickness, and were deposited lengthwise in the ark. How much did they take up of the ark? Twelve handbreadths. There was thus left half a handbreadth, a finger's breadth15  for each side. You have accounted for the length of the ark, now go and account for its breadth. How much of the [breadth of the] ark was taken up by the tablets? Six handbreadths. There were thus left a handbreadth and a half. Take away from them half a handbreadth, a finger's breadth for each side, and there will be left a handbreadth. Here were deposited the columns16  mentioned in the verse, King Solomon made himself a palanquin of the wood of Lebanon, he made the pillars thereof of silver, the bottom there of of gold, the seat of purple, etc.17  At the side of the ark was placed the coffer in which the Philistines sent a present to the God of Israel, as it says, And put the jewels of gold which ye return him for a guilt offering in a coffer by the side thereof, and send it away that it may go,18  and on this was placed the scroll of the Law, as it says, Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord;19  It was placed by the side of the ark and not in it. What then do I make of the words, There was nought in the ark save?20  This intimates that

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. He should therefore take care that in case he decides to divide, one of the scrolls does not commence with an empty space of four lines. Tosaf. points out that this seems to contradict the rule given above, that a scroll should not be divided, and explains that this applies only to a division between two owners.
  2. Which would require a much larger piece at the end.
  3. Which would require much less at the beginning.
  4. I.e., enough for the stick at the beginning and the circumference at the end.
  5. Which has two cylinders.
  6. Having only one cylinder.
  7. When rolled up.
  8. I.e., what should be its length so that when the text had been completed in script of ordinary size the length should be equal to the circumference.
  9. 'Split parchment'.
  10. Deut. XXXIII, 4. Life would not be long enough for writing four hundred complete scrolls.
  11. V. Sotah 43a.
  12. I.e., one next to the other along the length of the ark.
  13. Viz., for the thickness.
  14. I Kings VIII, 9.
  15. One handbreadth = 4 finger-breadths.
  16. Two silver sticks like the sticks of a scroll placed on each side of the tables.
  17. Cant. III, 9-10.
  18. I Sam. VI, 8.
  19. Deut. XXXI, 26.
  20. I.e., the double limitation.

Baba Bathra 14b

the fragments of the tables1  were [also] deposited in the ark. Now if we assume that the circumference of the scroll was six handbreadths, — let us see: a circumference of three handbreadths means a width of one.2  Since then the scroll closed in the middle, the space between the two cylinders must have been over and above the two handbreadths. How did this get in to the two handbreadths?3  — The scroll read in the Temple Court4  was rolled round one cylinder. Even so, how could two handbreadths get into exactly two? R. Ashi replied: The scroll was rolled together up to a certain point [and placed in the ark], and then the remainder was rolled up on top.

If we accept R. Judah's theory, where was the scroll placed before the coffer came? — A ledge projected from the ark, and on this the scroll was placed. What does R. Meir make of the words, At the side of the ark? — This is to indicate that the scroll is to be placed at the side of the tables and not between them; but even so, it was in the ark, only at the side.

According to R. Meir, where were the [silver] sticks placed?5  — Outside. And whence does R. Meir learn that the fragments of the [first] tables were deposited in the ark?6  — From the same source as R. Huna, who said: What is the meaning of the verse, Which is called by the Name, even the name of the Lord of Hosts that sitteth upon the Cherubim?7  [The repetition of the word 'name'] teaches that the tables and the fragments of the tables were deposited in the ark. And, what does R. Judah make of these words? — He requires them for the lesson enunciated by R. Johanan, who 'said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai: This teaches us that the Name [of four letters] and all the subsidiary names [of God] were deposited in the ark. And does not R. Meir also require the verse for this lesson? — Certainly he does. Whence then does he learn that the fragments of the first tables were deposited in the ark? He learns it from the exposition reported [also] by R. Joseph. For R. Joseph learned: Which thou brakest and thou shalt put them:8  [the juxtaposition of these words] teaches us that both the tablets and the fragments of the tablets were deposited in the ark. And what does R. Judah make of this verse? — He requires it for the lesson enunciated by Resh Lakish, who said: Which thou brakest: God said to Moses, Thou hast done well9  to break.10

Our Rabbis taught: The order of the Prophets is, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the Twelve Minor Prophets. Let us examine this. Hosea came first, as it is written, God spake first to Hosea.11  But did God speak first to Hosea? Were there not many prophets between Moses and Hosea? R. Johanan, however, has explained that [what It means is that] he was the first of the four prophets who prophesied at that period,12  namely, Hosea, Isaiah, Amos and Micah. Should not then Hosea come first? — Since his prophecy is written along with13  those of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, and Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi came at the end of the prophets, he is reckoned with them. But why should he not be written separately and placed first? — Since his book is so small, it might be lost [if copied separately]. Let us see again. Isaiah was prior to Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Then why should not Isaiah be placed first? — Because the Book of Kings ends with a record of destruction and Jeremiah speaks throughout of destruction and Ezekiel commences with destruction and ends with consolation and Isaiah is full of consolation;14  therefore we put destruction next to destruction and consolation next to consolation.

The order of the Hagiographa is Ruth, the Book of Psalms, Job, Prophets, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel and the Scroll of Esther, Ezra and Chronicles.15  Now on the view that Job lived in the days of Moses, should not the book of Job come first? — We do not begin with a record of suffering. But Ruth also is a record of suffering?16  — It is a suffering with a sequel [of happiness], as R. Johanan said: Why was her name called Ruth? — Because there issued from her David who replenished17  the Holy One, blessed be He, with hymns and praises.

Who wrote the Scriptures? — Moses wrote his own book and the portion of Balaam18  and Job. Joshua wrote the book which bears his name and [the last] eight verses of the Pentateuch.19  Samuel wrote the book which bears his name and the Book of Judges and Ruth. David wrote the Book of Psalms, including in it the work of the elders, namely, Adam, Melchizedek, Abraham, Moses, Heman, Yeduthun, Asaph,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The first tables which Moses broke.
  2. And therefore the scroll must have been two handbreadths wide.
  3. If we assume with R. Meir that there was a scroll in the ark.
  4. On Tabernacles, in accordance with Deut. XXXI, 9-13.
  5. Since there was no room for them in the ark alongside the Scroll at the base of the tables.
  6. Seeing that the verse on which R. Judah bases this is needed by him for another lesson.
  7. II Sam. VI, 2.
  8. Deut. X, 2.
  9. [H], a play on [H].
  10. Although I did not tell thee. The words 'which thou brakest' can be utilised for this lesson because they are strictly speaking superfluous.
  11. Hos. I; 2.
  12. In the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.
  13. I.e., copied on the same scroll.
  14. Strictly speaking, this applies only to the latter half of Isaiah, ch. XL-LXVI, though strains of consolation are interspersed throughout the first part also.
  15. With the exception of Job, the order is meant to be chronological, Ruth being ascribed to Samuel, the Psalms to David, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Songs to Solomon, Lamentations to Jeremiah, and Esther to the period of the Captivity (v. Rashi).
  16. As it says, 'And there was a famine in the land'. (Ruth I, 1.)
  17. [H] which R. Johanan connects with [H]
  18. The parables of Balaam in Num. XXIII, XXIV.
  19. Recording the death of Moses.