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

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 91a

from one province [on the border of Palestine and Syria] to [an adjacent] province [in Syria].1

Our Rabbis taught:2  In Palestine it is not permitted to make a profit [as middleman]3  in things which are life's necessaries, such as, for instance, wines, oils and the various kinds of flour. It has been said about R. Eleazar b. Azariah that he used to make a profit in wine and oil. In [the case of] wine he held the same opinion as R. Judah;4  in [the case of] oil? — In the place of R. Eleazar b. Azariah oil was plentiful.5

Our Rabbis taught: It is not permitted to make a profit in eggs twice. [As to the meaning of 'twice',] Mari b. Mari said: Rab and Samuel are in dispute. One says: Two for one.6  And the other says: [Selling] by a dealer to a dealer.7

Our Rabbis taught: Public prayers8  are offered for goods [which have become dangerously9  cheap], even on the Sabbath. R. Johanan said: For instance linen garments in Babylon and wine and oil in Palestine. R. Joseph said: This [is only so] when [these have become so] cheap that ten are sold at [the price of] six.10

Our Rabbis taught:11  It is not permitted to go forth from Palestine12  to a foreign country unless two se'ahs13  are sold for one sela'. R. Simeon said: [This is permitted only] when one cannot find [anything] to buy, but when one is able [to find something] to buy. even if a se'ah13  cost a sela' one must not depart. And so said R. Simeon b. Yohai: Elimelech, Mahlon and Chilion were [of the] great men of their generation, and they were [also] leaders of their generation. Why, then, were they punished? Because they left Palestine for a foreign country; for it is written, And all the city was astir concerning them, and the women said: 'Is this Naomi?' What [is meant by] 'Is this Naomi?' — R. Isaac said: They said, 'Did you see what befell Naomi who left Palestine for a foreign country?'

R. Isaac further stated: On the very day, when Ruth the Moabitess came to Palestine, died the wife of Boaz. This is why people say, 'Before a person dies, the master of his house is appointed'.14

Rabbah, son of R. Huna, said in the name of Rab: Ibzan15  is Boaz. What does he come to teach us [by this statement]? — The same16  that Rabbah son of R. Huna [taught elsewhere]. For Rabbah, son of R. Huna, said in the name of Rab: Boaz made for his sons a hundred and twenty wedding feasts, for it is said, And he [Ibzan]17  had thirty sons, and thirty daughters he sent abroad, and thirty daughters he brought in from abroad for his sons; and he judged Israel seven years;18  and in the case of everyone [of these] he made two wedding feasts, one in the house of the father and one in the house of the father-inlaw. To none of them did he invite Manoah,19  [for] he said, 'Whereby will the barren mule repay me?'20  All these died in his lifetime. It is [in relation to such a case as] this that people say: 'Of what use to you are sixty; the sixty that you beget for your lifetime?21  [Marry] again22  and beget [one] brighter23  than sixty.'24

(Mnemonic sign: King Abraham, the ten years when he passed away he was exalted alone.)25

R. Hanan b. Raba said in the name of Rab: Elimelech and Salmon26  and such a one27  and the father of Naomi all were the sons of Nahshon, the son of Amminadab.28  What does he come to teach us [by this statement]? — That even the merit of one's ancestors is of no avail29  when one leaves the land [of Palestine] for a foreign country.30

R. Hanan b. Raba further stated in the name of Rab: [The name of] the mother of Abraham [was] Amathlai the daughter of Karnebo;31  [the name of] the mother of Haman was Amathlai, the daughter of 'Orabti;32  and your mnemonic [may be], 'unclean [to] unclean, clean [to] clean'.33  The mother of David was named Nizbeth the daughter of Adael. The mother of Samson [was named] Zlelponith, and his sister, Nashyan. In what [respect] do [these names] matter?34  — In respect of a reply to the heretics.35

R. Hanan b. Raba further stated in the name of Rab: Abraham our father was imprisoned for ten years. 'Three in Kutha,36  and seven in Kardu. But R. Dimi of Nehardea taught [in the reverse [order]. R. Hisda said: The small side of Kutha37  is Ur of the Chaldees.38

R. Hanan b. Raba further said in the name of Rab: On the day when Abraham our father passed away from the world all the great ones of the nations of the world, stood in a line39  and said: Woe to the world that has lost

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [H] [G], 'provincial government', 'province'.
  2. Tosef. A.Z. ibid.
  3. The producer must sell direct to the consumer.
  4. R. Judah b. Bathyra who allowed profiting in wine because by raising its price, consumption and consequent levity are diminished.
  5. And there was no fear that prices would rise in consequence.
  6. Selling for two shekels, for instance, that which was bought for one.
  7. 'Twice' means 'selling to two dealers'. This is forbidden because a double profit is thus made, and prices are raised.
  8. Lit., 'to sound the alarm', by the institution of intercessory prayers with or without the blowing of the shofar.
  9. The falling prices endanger the existence of the trading section of the community.
  10. I.e., a drop of 40%.
  11. Tosef. ibid.
  12. Certain precepts can be performed in Palestine only. One should not, therefore, depart from it unless there is no other alternative.
  13. Se'ah of produce.
  14. Ruth married Boaz. V. Ruth IV, 13.
  15. One of the judges of Israel. Cf. Judg. XII, 8.
  16. V. p. 376, n. 5.
  17. I.e., Boaz.
  18. Ibid. 9.
  19. Cf. Ibid. XIII, 2ff.
  20. Manoah, before the birth of Samson, had no children to whose wedding feasts he could extend invitations. Cf. Ibid.
  21. I.e., children that do not survive you.
  22. As Boaz (Ibzan) married Ruth in his later life. Cf. p. 375, n. 6.
  23. David, King of Israel, who descended from Boaz and Ruth. Cf. Ruth IV, 21-22.
  24. This statement in the name of Rab, which can only be intelligible if it is assumed that Boaz and Ibzan are one and the same person, must be read in conjunction with the previous one, also made in the name of Rab.
  25. The mnemonic consists of key words in the following paragraphs.
  26. Cf. Ruth IV, 20.
  27. [H] Peloni Almoni (Ruth IV, 1), the unnamed kinsman of Naomi.
  28. Cf. Ex. VI, 23; Num. X, 14.
  29. As evidenced by the tragic end of Elimelech and his sons.
  30. [H] 'outside the land'. V. p. 375, n. 4.
  31. From Kar, [H] 'lamb', [H] ('Mount of) Nebo'.
  32. From Oreb [H] 'raven'.
  33. Haman's grandmother was named after an unclean animal (raven, cf. Lev. XI, 15. Deut. XIV, 14); but Abraham's grandmother bore the name of a clean animal. (V. n. 12, supra.)
  34. Lit. 'is the outcome'.
  35. Minim (sing. [H]), applied especially to Jew-Christians. Should the minim ask why the names of the mothers of these important figures are not given in the Bible narrative, they can be answered that these had been handed down by oral tradition. [V. Herford, Christianity, p. 326.]
  36. V. II Kings, XVII, 24.
  37. [There were two Kuthas situated on a Euphrates' Canal — The great and the little Kutha. V. Obermeyer op. cit. 279.]
  38. Abraham's birthplace. Gen. Xl, 31.
  39. It was the custom for those who came to offer comfort to mourners to stand in a line.

Baba Bathra 91b

its leader and woe to the ship that has lost its pilot.1

And thou art exalted as head above all,2  R. Hanan b. Raba said in the name of Rab: Even a superintendent of a well3  is appointed in heaven.4

R. Hiyya b. Abin said in the name of R. Joshua b. Korhah: God forbid [that Elimelech and his family should be condemned for leaving Palestine]; for had they found even only bran they would not have left [the country]. Why then was punishment inflicted upon them? — Because they should have begged mercy5  for their generation, and they did not do so; for it is said, When thou criest, let them that thou hast gathered deliver thee.6

Rabbah b. Bar Hana said in the name of R. Johanan: [This]7  has only been taught [in the case when] money is cheap and fruit is dear, but [when] money is dear, even if four se'ah cost [only] a sela, it is permitted to leave [the country].

(Mnemonic Sign: Sela, Workman, carob, the lads say.)8

For9  R. Johanan said:10  I remember [the time] when four se'ah cost a sela and there were numerous deaths from starvation11  in Tiberias, for want of an isar12  [wherewith to buy bread].

R. Johanan further stated: I remember [the time] when workmen would not accept work on the east side of the town where workmen died from the odour of the bread.13

R. Johanan further stated: I remember [the time] when a child would break a carob pod and a line of honey would run down over both his arms. And R. Eleazar said: I remember [a time] when a raven would take [a piece of] flesh, and a line of oil would rundown from the top of the wall to the ground.

R. Johanan further stated: I remember [the time] when lads and lasses of sixteen and seventeen years of age took walks [together] in the open air and did not sin.

R. Johanan further stated: I remember [the time] when it has been said in the house of study: 'He that agrees with them14  falls into their hands; [as to him] who trusts in them, [whatever is] his [becomes] theirs'.15

[Why] has it been written, Mahlon and Chilion16  [in one place], and Joash and Saraph17  in another?18  — Rab and Samuel [explained]. One said: Their names were Mahlon and Chilion, but they were called Joash and Saraph [for this reason]: Joash,19  because they lost hope in the [messianic] redemption [of Israel;] [and] Saraph,20  because they were condemned by the Omnipresent to be burned. And the other says: Their names were Joash and Saraph, but they were called Mahlon and Chilion [for this reason]: Mahlon,21  because they profaned their bodies; and Chilion,22  because they were condemned by the Omnipresent to destruction.

There is [a Baraitha] taught in agreement with him who said that their names were Mahlon and Chilion. For it has been taught: What is [the interpretation] of the Biblical text, And Jokim, and the men of Cozeba, and Joash and Saraph, who had dominion in Moab, and Jashubilehem; and the things are ancient?23  — And Jokim, is Joshua who kept24  his oath to the men of Gibeon.25  And the men of Cozeba, these are the men of Gibeon who lied to Joshua.26  And Joash and Seraph, these are Mahlon and Chilion. And why were they called Joash and Saraph? — Joash, because they lost hope27  in the [Messianic] redemption [of Israel]; Saraph, because they were condemned by the Omnipresent to be burned.28  Who had dominion in Moab, [means], they who married wives of the women of Moab. And Jashubilehem, refers to Ruth the Moabitess who returned29  and kept fast by Bethlehem30  of Judah. And the things are ancient, [means] these things were said by the Ancient of days.31

These were the potters and those that dwelt among plantations and hedges; there they dwelt occupied in the king's work.32  These were the potters, refers to the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab who kept33  the oath of their father.34  Those that dwelt among the plantations, has reference to Solomon who in his kingdom was like a [constantly flourishing] plant. And hedges, refers to the Sanhedrin35  who fenced in the breaches in Israel. There they dwelt occupied in the king's work, refers to Ruth the Moabitess who saw the kingdom of Solomon, the grandson of her grandson; for it is said: And [Solomon] caused a throne to be set up for the king's mother,'36  and R. Eleazar said, 'to the mother of the dynasty'.37

Our Rabbis taught: [It is written], And ye shall eat of the produce, the old store;38  [that is] without [the necessity for] a preservative.39  What [is the meaning of] 'without salminton'? — R. Nahman said: Without the grain worm. And R. Shesheth said: Without blast. A Baraitha has been taught in agreement with [the interpretation] of R. Shesheth, [and] a Baraitha has been taught in agreement with that of R. Nahman. In agreement with that of R. Nahman it has been taught: [It is written], and ye shall eat … the old store; one might [think that] Israel will be looking out for the new [produce] because the old40  had been destroyed [by the grain worm], therefore it is expressly said, until her produce came in, that is, until the produce will come [naturally] of itself.41  In agreement with that of R. Shesheth, it has been taught: [It is written], And ye shall eat of the produce of the old store; one might [think that] Israel will be looking out for the new [produce] because the old was spoilt42  [by the blast], therefore it is expressly said, until her produce come in, [that is] until the produce will come in the natural course.

Our Rabbis taught: [It is written], And ye shall eat old store long kept;43  [this] teaches that the older [the produce] the better [it would be].44  [From this] one infers only [concerning] things which are commonly stored away,45  whence [may one also infer] concerning things which are not commonly stored away?45  — It is explicitly stated: Old store long kept,46  [which implies] 'in all cases — [It is written]: And ye shall bring forth the old from before the new;47  [this] teaches that the storehouses would be full of old [produce]. and the threshing-floors of new, and Israel would say: 'How shall we take out one before the other!'48  R. Papa said: All things are better [when] old, except dates, beer and small fishes.49

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [G], 'steersman', pilot'.
  2. I Chron. XXIX, 11.
  3. I.e., a minor headship.
  4. This is inferred from the text which in Heb. reads, [H] and which may be rendered as in E.V., supra, as well as, 'through thee is appointed he who is raised as chief over anything'.
  5. That the famine (cf. Ruth I, 1) should cease.
  6. Isa. LVII, 13. By praying for the delivery of others, one is himself delivered.
  7. That one must not leave Palestine.
  8. The mnemonic is an aid to the recollection of the statements of R. Johanan that follow.
  9. Reason for statement in previous para.
  10. Ta'an. 19b.
  11. Lit., 'swollen from hunger'.
  12. Small coin, v. Glos.
  13. This probably means that people were so starved that the odour of the bread baked in the east, and presumably wealthier part of the town, had a fatal effect upon them.
  14. The heathens.
  15. At an unguarded moment they rob him of all he has.
  16. Ruth I, 2.
  17. I Chron. IV, 22.
  18. The assumption here is that they are the same two persons.
  19. [H] is taken to be derived from the root [H] 'to give up hope'.
  20. [H] from [H] 'to burn'.
  21. [H] is derived from the root [H] 'profane'.
  22. [H] from [H] 'to destroy'; [H] 'destruction'.
  23. I Chron. IV, 22.
  24. [H] same root as that of [H] 'and Jokim'.
  25. Cf. Josh. IX. 15, 26.
  26. Cf. ibid. vv. 4ff. Lied, [H] from the same root as [H] 'Cozeba'.
  27. V. p. 378, n. 9.
  28. V. p. 378, n. 10.
  29. [H] from the same root as [H] and Jashubi'.
  30. [H] the second word being the same as the second word in [H] 'and Jashubilehem'.
  31. Cf. Dan. VII, 9, 22. The series of events and circumstances, which commenced with the departure of Naomi's family from Palestine and terminated with the birth of David, was pre-ordained by God.
  32. I Chron. IV, 23.
  33. [H] taken to be from a root similar to that of [H] 'the potters'.
  34. Cf. Jer. XXXV, 6ff.
  35. [G], the supreme council and highest court of justice in Jewry in Talmudic times.
  36. I Kings II, 19.
  37. I.e., Ruth the mother of the dynasty of David. Cf. Ruth, IV, 10, 21-22.
  38. Lev. XXV, 22.
  39. Heb. Salminton, cf. salsamintum.
  40. Which had been promised to Israel in the previous section of the verse to last until, but not into, the new harvesting season.
  41. There will be no need to have recourse to an early and forced harvesting.
  42. 'spoilt' not 'destroyed'. The grain worm destroys, the blast only spoils the crops.
  43. Lev. XXVI, 10.
  44. Lit., 'whatever is older than the other, is better'.
  45. Lit., 'made old'.
  46. [H] 'old, very old'. The repetition indicates that any old things, even though not usually stored away, are included.
  47. Ibid.
  48. 'Ye shall bring forth' implies 'under compulsion'. There will be so much new that no space for the old will remain.
  49. Others, 'fish-hash'.