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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 104a

— [this is deduced] from Ammon and Moab. 'And brings near those who are distant,' from Jethro. For R. Johanan said: As a reward for [Jethro's saying] Call him, that he may eat bread,1  his descendants were privileged to sit in the Hall of Hewn Stones2  [as scribes], as it is written, And the family of the scribes which dwell at Jabez; the Tirahites, the Shimeathites, and Suchathites. These are the Kenites that came of Hemath, the father of the house of Rechab;3  whilst elsewhere it is written, And the children of the Kenite, Moses' father-in-law, went up out of the city of palm trees with the children of Judah into the wilderness of Judah, which lieth in the south of Arad; and they went and dwelt among the people.4  'It causes [God's] eyes to be averted from the wicked' — [this is learnt] from Micah.5  'And made the Shechinah to rest upon the prophets of Baal', — from the companion of Iddo the prophet. For it is written, And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the Lord came unto the prophet that brought him back.6  'And an unwitting offence in connection therewith is accounted as deliberate' — for Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Had but Jonathan given David two loaves of bread for his travels, Nob, the city of priests would not have been massacred, Doeg the Edomite would not have been destroyed,7  and Saul and his three sons would not have been slain.8

Now, why did they not include Ahaz?9  — R. Jeremiah b. Abba said: Because he was placed between two righteous men, Jotham and Hezekiah. R. Joseph said: Because he was abashed before Isaiah, as it is written, Then said the Lord unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou and Shear-jashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the field of the kobes.10  What is the meaning of kobes? — Some say, he hid his face [in shame] and fled.11  Others say, he dragged a fuller's trough12  upon his head [reversed, to hide his face in shame] and fled.

And why was Amon not included? — Because of Josiah's honour.13  Then Manasseh [Hezekiah's son] too should not be included, because of Hezekiah's honour? — A son confers privileges on his father, but a father confers no privilege on a son. For it is written, Neither is there any one that can deliver out of my hand:14  Abraham cannot deliver Ishmael, [and] Isaac cannot deliver Esau. Now, having arrived at this answer, Ahaz too was omitted because of Hezekiah's honour. And why was Jehoiakim omitted? — On account of what R. Hiyya, son of R. Abuiah said. For R. Hiyya, son of R. Abuiah, said: Upon Jehoiakim's skull was written, 'This and yet another.' Now, R. Perida's grandfather found a skull lying about at the gates of Jerusalem, and upon it was written, 'This and yet another.' So he buried it, but it refused to be buried [i.e., it re-emerged]; again he buried it, and again it would not remain buried. Thereupon he said, 'This must be Jehoiakim's skull, of whom it is written, He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem.'15  'Yet,' reflected he, 'he was a king, and it is not meet to disgrace him'. So he wrapped it up in silk and placed it in a chest. On his wife's seeing it, she thought that it must be the skull of his first wife, whom he could not forget. So she fired the oven and burnt it. This is the meaning of the inscription: 'This and yet another.'16

It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar said: On account of [Hezekiah's boasting] And I have done that which was good in thy sight,17  [he was led to inquire] What shall be the sign [that the Lord will heal me]?18  On account of 'What shall be the sign', heathens ate at his table;19  and on account of heathens eating at his table, he caused his children to go into exile.20  This supports Hezekiah's dictum: He who invites a heathen into his house and attends to him, causes his children to go into exile, as it is written, And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon.21

And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment etc.22  Rab said: What is meant by 'the house of his precious things'? — His wife, who mixed the drinks for them.23  Samuel said: He shewed them his treasury. R. Johanan said: He shewed them weapons which could destroy other weapons. How [ekah] doth the city sit solitary!24  Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Why was Israel smitten with 'ekah'?25  Because they transgressed the thirty-six injunctions26  of the Torah which are punished by extinction.27  R. Johanan said: Why were they smitten with an alphabetical dirge?28  Because they violated the Torah, which was given by means of the alphabet.29

'Sit [badad]30  Solitary': Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: The Holy One, blessed be He, exclaimed, 'I said, "Israel then shall dwell in safety alone [badad].' the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew,"31 but now they shall sit solitary.'32

The city that was full of people. Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: They used to marry off a young girl to an adult, and a minor to a full-grown woman, that they might bear many children.33

She is become as a widow. Rab Judah said in Rab's name: As a widow, yet not a widow in fact: as a woman whose husband had gone overseas, but intends returning to her.

She that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces: Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Wherever they went, they became princes of their masters.34

Our Rabbis taught: It once happened that two men [Jews] were taken captive on Mount Carmel, and their captor was walking behind them.

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Ex. II, 20.
  2. V. supra, p. 573, n. 1.
  3. I Chron. II, 55.
  4. Judges I, 16. This shews that the Kenites were descended from Jethro, and they sat in the Hall of Hewn Stones as scribes and Sanhedrin.
  5. V. supra 103b.
  6. I Kings XIII, 20: he was a prophet of Baal, yet God's word came to him, as a reward for his hospitality.
  7. V. p. 640, n. 5.
  8. For had he provided him with food, he would not have taken any from Ahimelech. Thus, all this happened, though Jonathan's initial offence was due to an oversight.
  9. V. supra, 103b.
  10. [H] Isa. VII, 3.
  11. Connecting it with [H] 'to suppress', 'to bend down'.
  12. Giving kobes its usual meaning.
  13. Josiah was his son, and a righteous man. To safeguard his honour and spare him from disgrace, Amon is permitted to enjoy the world to come.
  14. Deut. XXXII, 39.
  15. Jer. XXII, 19.
  16. This story is also related on 82a, with some slight variations. — These indignities made sufficient atonement for him that he should share in the future world.
  17. II Kings XX, 3.
  18. Ibid. 9: 'Sin draws sin in its train'. The sin of boastfulness led him to that of disbelief, requiring a visible sign. The whole dictum is in this spirit
  19. Those whom Merodach-baladan had sent to congratulate him on his recovery. — Ibid. 22.
  20. Cf. Ibid. 17f.
  21. Ibid. 18.
  22. Isa. XXXIX, 2; cf. II Kings XX, 13.
  23. He permitted his wife ('his treasure') openly to wait upon them, disregarding the modesty which should have kept her within her own quarters (Maharsha).
  24. Lam. I, 1. Having mentioned exile, the Talmud proceeds to discuss Lamentations.
  25. I.e., brought to such a dirge.
  26. V. Ker. I, 1.
  27. The numerical value of [H] is 36.
  28. Lamentations is written in the form of an alphabetical acrostic.
  29. I.e., its words are formed from the alphabet. Possibly this alludes to the belief that the letters themselves are endowed with certain powers; v. p. 446, n. 9.
  30. [H].
  31. Deut. XXXIII, 28. Thus 'solitariness' was promised as a blessing, viz., freedom from outside entanglements which might threaten their safety.
  32. I.e., desolate.
  33. This is meant to exclude marriage where both are minors.
  34. Even in the Diaspora they forged to the front ranks.

Sanhedrin 104b

One of them said to the other, 'The camel walking in front of us is blind in one eye, and is laden with two barrels, one of wine, and the other of oil, and of the two men leading it, one is a Jew, and the other a heathen.' Their captor said to them, 'Ye stiff-necked people, whence do ye know this?' They replied, 'Because the camel is eating of the herbs before it only on the side where it can see, but not on the other, where it cannot see.1  It is laden with two barrels, one of wine and the other of oil: because wine drips and is absorbed [into the earth], whilst oil drips and rests2  [on the surface].3  And of the two men leading it, one is a Jew, and the other a heathen: because a heathen obeys the call of Nature in the roadway, whilst a Jew turns aside.' He hastened after them, and found that it was as they had said.4  So he went and kissed them on the head,5  brought them into his house, and prepared a great feast for them. He danced [with joy] before them and exclaimed 'Blessed be He who made choice of Abraham's seed and imparted to them of His wisdom, and wherever they go they become princes to their masters!' Then he liberated them, and they went home in peace.

She weepeth, yea, She weepeth, in the night.6  Why this double weeping? — Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Once for the first Temple, and once for the second. 'In the night' — on account of what happened at night. For it is written, And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried, and the people wept that night.7  Rabbah observed in R. Johanan's name: It was the night of the ninth of Ab, and the Almighty said to Israel, 'Ye have wept without cause: therefore will I appoint a weeping to you for future generations. Another interpretation of 'in the night': whoever weeps at night, his voice is heard.8  Another meaning: whoever weeps at night, the stars and constellations weep with him. Another meaning: whoever weeps at night, he who hears him, weeps [in sympathy]. It happened that the child of a neighbour of R. Gamaliel died, and she was weeping for him at night. R. Gamaliel, on hearing her, wept in sympathy with her, until his eyelashes fell out. On the morrow, his disciples discerned this, and removed her from his neighbourhood.

And her tears are on her cheeks.9  Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: As a woman who weeps for the husband of her youth, as it is written, Lament like a virgin girded with sackcloth for the husband of her youth.10

Her adversaries are the chief.11  Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Whoever distresses Israel becomes a chief, as it is written,12  Nevertheless, there shall be no weariness for her that oppressed her.13  In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time hath he made it glorious, by way of the sea, beyond Jordan, the circuit of the nations.14  Whereupon Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Whoever oppresses Israel does not weary.

Not to you, all ye that pass by.15  Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: This gives Biblical support to the custom of saying 'not to you'.16  'All ye that pass by.' R. Amram said in Rab's name: They have made me as those who transgress the law;17  for in the case of Sodom it is written, And the Lord rained upon Sodom [and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire],18  whilst in the case of Jerusalem it is written, From above hath he sent fire into my bones, and it prevaileth against them.19

For the iniquity of the daughter of my people is greater than the sin of Sodom:20  is there then favouritism in the matter?21  — Rabbah answered in R. Johanan's name: There was an extra measure [of punishment] in Jerusalem, which Sodom was spared. For in the case of Sodom, it is written, Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy.22  Whereas in the case of Jerusalem it is written, The hands of the pitiful women have sodden their children.23

The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty men in the midst of me:24  as one says to his neighbour, This coin has lost its currency.25

All thine enemies have opened their mouths against thee.26  Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Why did he place the pe before the 'ayin?27  Because of the Spies who spoke with their mouths what they had not seen with their eyes.28

They eat my people as they eat bread, and call not upon the Lord.29  Rabbah said in R. Johanan's name: Whoever eats the bread of Israel enjoys the taste of bread; whoever does not eat the bread of Israel does not enjoy the taste of bread.30

They call not upon the Lord. Rab said: This refers to the judges;31  Samuel said: To teachers of children.32

Now, who enumerated them?33  — R. Ashi said: The men of the Great Assembly34  enumerated them.

Rab Judah said in Rab's name: They wished to include another [sc. Solomon], but an apparition of his father's likeness came and prostrated itself [in supplication] before them, which, however, they disregarded. A heavenly fire descended and its flames licked their seats, yet they still disregarded it. Whereupon a Heavenly Voice cried out to them, 'Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.35  He who gave precedence to My house over his, and, moreover, built My house in seven years, but his own in thirteen, he shall stand before kings;36  he shall not stand before mean men.'37  Yet they paid no attention even to this. Whereupon the Heavenly Voice cried out, 'Should it be according to thy mind? he will recompense it, whether thou refuse, 'or whether thou choose; and not I etc.'38

The Doreshe Reshumoth39  maintained: All of them will enter the world to come, as it is written, Gilead is mine, Manasseh is mine;40  Ephraim also is the strength of mine head; Judah is my lawgiver,' Moab is my washpot; over Edom will I cast out my shoe: Philistia, triumph thou because of me.41  [Thus:] 'Gilead is mine' this refers to Ahab, who fell at Ramoth-gilead; 'Manasseh' is literally meant;42  'Ephraim also is the strength of mine head' — this alludes to Jeroboam, a descendant of Ephraim; 'Judah is my lawgiver' — this refers to Ahitophel,

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. An animal eats from the herbs on both sides of it. This camel however, was eating of one side only, proving that it was blind in one eye.
  2. Lit., 'floats'.
  3. And they had observed two lines of such drops — one absorbed into the earth, and the other remaining on the surface.
  4. In our editions this story is considerably abbreviated. The Munich edition (referred to and partly quoted in the Aruch) proceeds from here: 'It appears to us,' said they, 'that our master is the son of the king's dancer' (So translated in the REJ. XI, 15, on the basis of the general context. Jast: the king's fool, which is probably the same. Aruch: the son of the king's executioner (quaestionarius), but that is quite unsuited to the context). Then he brought them into his house, prepared a great feast, and danced before them. Seeing this, the Jews exclaimed, 'Did we not say that our master is the son of the king's dancer?' On hearing these words, the man sped to his mother and threatened her, 'If thou dost not confess the truth to me, I will kill thee.' Thereupon she disclosed to him that on her wedding day, her husband having quitted the nuptial chamber, the king's dancer entered and ravished her. He then returned to his captives and served them with some meat. Having smelt it, they cried out, 'This meat smells of dog!' Again he threatened his mother with death if she would not tell him the truth. She answered: 'This is the meat of a ewe suckled by a bitch, its own mother having died'. He then offered them wine. 'It smells of the dead', said they. A third time he challenged his mother to reveal the truth, on pain of death. She told him that the wine had been manufactured from a vine whose branches had trailed over his father's tomb. He returned, kissed them, and exclaimed, 'Blessed be the God who made choice of Abraham's posterity.' Then he dismissed them in peace to their homes. Cf. REJ. loc. cit. et seqq., where the parallel story is quoted from the Yalkut on Ekah [1000], and the probable date, place, and purpose of its composition discussed.
  5. Kissing, in ancient days as well as in our own, was often a mark of respect and admiration, not necessarily of affection.
  6. Literal rendering of Lam. I, 2.
  7. Num. XIV, 1 — this was after the discouraging report of the Spies.
  8. Israel's weeping did not arouse any pity.
  9. Lam. I, 2.
  10. Joel I, 8.
  11. Lam. I, 5.
  12. Wilna Gaon deletes this.
  13. V. supra p. 636.
  14. Isa. VIII, 23.
  15. Lam. I, 12.
  16. [H] (kublana) is a formula for warding off danger from one's neighbour when reciting woes to him by saying, 'May this not befall you'. Another meaning: 'crying out'; I.e., a man in trouble should cry out to his neighbours and obtain their sympathy (Jast). On this rendering the E.V. can be retained: 'Is it nothing to you?'
  17. Translating [H] 'Transgressors of the way of the Lord'.
  18. Gen. XIX, 24.
  19. Lam. I, 13: thus Jerusalem was treated as Sodom and Gomorrah.
  20. Ibid. IV, 6. In the editions this is preceded by 'And it is written', thus making it a continuation of the previous passage. But the Wilna Gaon deletes it.
  21. Since Sodom was completely destroyed, whilst Jerusalem in spite of its greater iniquity was left standing.
  22. Ezek. XVI, 49.
  23. Lam. IV, 10, thus Jerusalem suffered extreme hunger, which Sodom never did, and this fact counterbalanced her being spared total destruction (Rashi).
  24. Ibid. I, 15.
  25. Lit., 'disqualified', 'rejected'; and so may be trodden under foot. So did God treat Israel's heroes as being of no value (Rashi).
  26. Ibid. II, 16.
  27. As remarked before, Lamentations is written in the form of an alphabetical acrostic. But in this chapter, and also in Chs. III and IV, the verse beginning with [H] precedes that of the [H]; pe [H] means mouth and 'ayin [H] means eye.
  28. Thus putting the one before the other.
  29. Ps. XIV, 4.
  30. The Heathens enjoy their bread only if it is stolen from the Jews.
  31. Who do not mete out fair justice.
  32. Who do not carry out their task honestly.
  33. Who originally enumerated these kings and commoners as having no portion in the coming world, seeing that ordinary persons cannot know such things?
  34. The men of the Great Synagogue or Great Assembly are regarded as the connecting link in the chain of tradition from Moses down to the Rabbis, and many institutions are traced to them; v. Aboth I, 1.
  35. Prov. XXII, 29.
  36. In Paradise (Rashi).
  37. I.e., he must not be included among those who have no portion in the future world.
  38. Job XXXIV, 33. It would appear from this passage that the men of the Great Synagogue were regarded as the actual arbiters of the matter, save in the case of Solomon.
  39. [ [H] lit., 'interpreters of signs,' i.e., those who interpret the law symbolically, for the sake of edification and instruction, a school of exegetes belonging to a period anterior to that of Hillel and Shammai and of Palestinian origin. For a full discussion of the term, v. Lauterbach, J.Q.R. (N.S.) I, pp. 291ff. and 503ff.]
  40. I.e., it is for me to bear their iniquities, that they may enter into the coming world.
  41. Ps. LX, 9f.
  42. Viz., the son of Hezekiah.