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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
R. Johanan said: He who asserts that Manasseh has no portion in the world to come weakens the hands of penitent sinners. For a tanna recited before R. Johanan: Manasseh was penitent for thirty-three years, as it is written, Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem, and he made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel. How long did Ahab reign? Twenty-two years. How long did Manasseh reign? Fifty-five years. Subtract therefrom twenty-two, which leaves thirty-three.1
R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: What is meant by, And he prayed unto him, and an opening was made for him.2 Should not 'and was entreated of him' rather have been written?3 — This teaches that the Holy One, blessed be He, made him a kind of opening in the Heavens, in order to accept him with his repentance, on account of the Attribute of Justice.4
R. Johanan also said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Why is it written, In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah;5 and in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah:6 were there then no kings until then? But [it teaches that] the Holy One, blessed be He, wished to hurl the world back into chaos7 on account of Jehoiakim, but that He gazed at [the rest of] his generation, and His mind was appeased.8 The Holy One, blessed be He, [also] desired to hurl the world back into chaos because of Zedekiah's generation, but that He gazed at Zedekiah [himself] and his mind was appeased. But in the case of Zedekiah too it is written, And he did that which was evil in the sight of God?9 — [That denotes] that he could have stemmed [the evil of others], and did not.
R. Johanan also said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: What is meant by, If a wise man contend with a foolish man, whether he rage or laugh, there is no rest?10 — The Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'I was wrath with Ahaz, and delivered him into the hands of the kings of Damascus, whereupon he sacrificed burnt incense to their gods, as it is written, For he sacrificed unto the gods of Damascus, which smote him: and he said, Because the gods of the kings of Syria help them, therefore will I sacrifice to them that they may help me. But they were the ruin of him, and of all Israel.11 I smiled upon Amaziah and delivered the kings of Edom into his hand, so he brought their gods, and prostrated himself before them, as it is written, Now it came to pass, that after Amaziah was come from the slaughter of the Edomites, that he brought the gods of the children of Seir, and set them up to be his gods, and bowed down himself before them, and burned incense unto them.12 R. Papa commented: Thus men say, 'Weep for him who knows not his fortune, laugh for him who knows not his fortune. Woe to him who knows not the difference between good and bad.'
And all the princes of the king of Babylon came in, and sat in the middle gate.13 R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: It was the place where halachot are decided upon.14 R. Papa observed: Thus men say, 'Where the master hangs up his weapons, there the mean shepherd hangs up his pitcher.'15
[Mnemonic: By the field, houses, nought shall befall.]
R. Hisda said in the name of R. Jeremiah's b. Abba: What is meant by the verse, I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding,' And lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down?16 — I went by the field of the slothful — this refers to Ahaz;17 and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding — this denotes Manasseh;18 And lo, it was all grown over with thorns, — to Amon;19 and nettles had covered the face thereof — to Jehoiakim;20 and the stone wall thereof was broken down, — this alludes to Zedekiah, in whose days the Temple was destroyed.
R. Hisda also said in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba: Four classes will not appear21 before the presence of the Shechinah, — the class of scoffers, the class of liars, the class of hypocrites, and the class of slanderers. 'The class of scoffers' — as it is written, He withdrew His hand from the scoffers.22 'The class of liars' — as it is written, He that telleth lies, shall not tarry in my sight.23 'The class of hypocrites' — as it is written, For an hypocrite shall not come before him.24 'The class of slanderers — as it is written, For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee,'25 [which means] Thou art righteous, and hence there will not be evil26 in thy abode.
R. Hisda also said in the name of R. Jeremiah b. Abba: What is meant by the verse, There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling?27 'There shall no evil befall thee,' the Evil Impulse28 shall have no power over thee; 'neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling' — thou wilt not find thy wife a doubtful niddah29 when thou returnest from a journey. Another interpretation: 'There shall no evil befall thee' — thou wilt not be affrighted by nightmares and dread thoughts; 'neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling' — thou wilt not have a son or a disciple who publicly burns his food.30 Thus far his father blessed him: beyond this, his mother blessed him:31 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee in their hands etc. … Thou shalt tread upon the lion and the adder.32 Thus far his mother blessed him, beyond this, Heaven blessed him:
Sanhedrin 103bBecause he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.1
R. Simeon b. Lakish said: What is meant by the verse And from the wicked their light is withholden, and the high arm shall be broken:2 now why is the 'ayin of resha'im [wicked] suspended?3 Once a man becomes poor [in friends] below [on earth], he becomes poor above [in heaven]4 Then let the 'ayin not be written at all? — R. Johanan and R. Eleazar [differ in their answer]: One said, because of David's honour; the other said, because of the honour of Nehemiah, the son of Hachaliah.5
Our Rabbis taught: Manasseh interpreted Leviticus6 in fifty-five different ways, corresponding to the years of his reign. Ahab [in] eighty-five, and Jeroboam [in] one hundred and three [ways].
It has been taught: R. Meir said: Absalom has no portion in the world to come, for it is written, And they smote Absalom, and slew him:7 'they smote him' — in this world, 'and slew him' — in the next. It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar said on the authority of R. Meir: Ahaz, Ahaziah, and all the kings of Israel of whom it is written, And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord will neither live [in the future world] nor be judged [there].8
Moreover, Manasseh shed innocent blood very much, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another; beside his sin wherewith he made Judah to sin, in doing that which was evil in the sight of the Lord.9 Here, [in Babylon] it is interpreted as meaning that he slew Isaiah; in the West [Palestine] they said: [It means] that he made an image as heavy as a thousand men, and every day it slew all of them.10 With whom does this dictum of Rabbah b. Bar Hana agree? Viz., The soul of one righteous man is equal to the whole world: with whom does it agree? With the author of the view that he killed Isaiah.11
[Scripture writes, And he set] the graven image,'12 but it is also stated, [And the groves and the] graven images, [which he had set up].13 R. Johanan said: At first he made it with one face, but subsequently he made it with four faces,14 that the Shechinah might see it, and be wroth. Ahaz set it15 in an upper chamber, as it is written, And the altars that were on the top of the upper chamber of Ahaz etc.16 Manasseh placed it in the Temple, as it is written, And he set up a graven image of the grove that he had made in the house, of which the Lord said to David, and to Solomon his son, In this house, and in Jerusalem which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel will I put my name for ever.17 Amon introduced it into the Holy of Holies, as it is said, For the bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it: and the covering narrower than that he can wrap himself in it.18 Now, what is meant by 'For the bed is shorter than that one can stretch himself on it'? — R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Jonathan: For this bed is too short that two neighbours may rule therein together.19 What is the meaning of 'and the covering narrower etc.'? — R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: When R. Jonathan reached this verse, he wept. He of whom it is written, He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap20 — should a molten image be made a rival to it!21
Ahaz caused the [sacrificial] service to cease, and sealed the Torah, as it is written, Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples.22 Manasseh cut out the Divine Name [from the Torah], and broke down the altar. Amon burnt the Torah, and allowed spider webs to cover the altar [through complete disuse]. Ahaz permitted consanguineous relations; Manasseh violated his sister; Amon, his mother, as it is written, For he Amon sinned very much.23 R. Johanan and R. Eleazar [dispute therein]: One maintained, He burnt the Torah; the other, he dishonoured his mother. His mother remonstrated with him: 'Hast thou then any pleasure in the place whence thou didst issue?' He replied: 'Do I do this for any other purpose than to provoke my Creator!' When Jehoiakim came, he said, 'My predecessors knew not how to anger him: do we need [Him] for aught but his light?24 But we have Parvaim25 gold, which we use [for light]; let him take His light!' Said they [his courtiers] to him, 'But silver and gold are His too, as it is written, The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of Hosts.'26 'He has long since given them to us,' he replied, 'as it is written, The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.'27
Raba said to Rabbah b. Mari: Why did they not count Jehoiakim28 [amongst those who have no portion in the world to come], seeing that it is written of him, And the remaining words of Jehoiakim, and the abomination which he wrought, and that which was found upon him etc.?29 (What is meant by that which was found upon him? — R. Johanan and R. Eliezer differ: one maintained that he engraved the name of an idol upon his person, and the other held that he engraved the name of Heaven thereon [as a gesture of contempt])? — He answered: I have heard no explanation concerning the kings [why Jehoiakim was not included]: but I have heard one concerning the commoners. [Thus:] Why did they not include Micah?30 — Because his bread was available to travellers, as it is written, Every traveller [turned] to the Levites.31
And he shall pass through the sea with affliction, and shall smite the waves in the sea.32 R. Johanan observed: This refers to Micah's graven image.
It has been taught: R. Nathan said: From Gareb33 to Shiloah is a distance of three mils, and the smoke of the altar34 and that of Micah's image intermingled. The ministering angels wished to thrust Micah away, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, 'Let him alone, because his bread is available for wayfarers.' And it was on this account35 that the people involved in the matter of the concubine at Gibeah36 were punished.37 For the Holy One, blessed be He, said to them, 'Ye did not protest for My honour, yet ye protest for the honour of a woman.'38
R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Jose b. Kisma: Of great [importance] is the mouthful [of food given to wayfarers], since it alienated two families from Israel, as it is written, [An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord] … Because they met you not with bread and water in the way, when ye come forth out of Egypt.39 R. Johanan, stating his own views, said: It alienates those who are near, and draws near those who are distant; it causes [God's] eyes to be averted from the wicked, and made the Shechinah to rest even on the prophets of Baal; and an unwitting offence in connection therewith is accounted as deliberate. 'It alienates those who are near,
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