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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: The generation of the flood have no portion in the world to come, as it is written, And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground9 and every living substance was destroyed refers to this world; which was upon the face of the ground — to the next: this is R. Akiba's view. R. Judah b. Bathyra maintained: They will neither revive nor be judged, as it is written, My spirit will not always enter into judgment with man:10 teaching, neither judgment nor spirit.11 Another meaning of 'My Spirit will not enter etc.': their soul shall not return to its sheath.12 R. Menahem son of R. Jose said: Even when the Holy One, blessed be He, restores the souls to the dead bodies,13 their soul shall grieve them in the Gehenna, as it is written, Ye shall conceive chaff ye shall bring forth stubble: your soul, as fire, shall devour you.14
Our Rabbis taught: The generation of the flood waxed haughty only because of the good which the Holy One, blessed be He, lavished upon them. Behold, what is written of them? Their houses are safe from fear, 'neither is the rod of God upon them,15 it is also written, Their bull gendereth, and faileth not,' their cow calveth, and casteth not her calf;16 further, They send forth their little ones like a flock, and their children dance;17 further, They take the timbrel and the harp, and rejoice at the sound of the organ;18 and it is also written, They spend their days in prosperity, and their years in pleasures;19 and it is also written, and in a moment go down to the grave.20 And 'tis that which caused them to say to God, Depart from us; for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways. What is the Almighty, that we should serve him? and what profit should we have, if we pray unto him?21 They said thus: Do we need Him for aught but the drop of rain? We have rivers and wells to supply our wants. Thereupon the Holy One, blessed be He, said: By that very good which I lavished upon them they provoke Me, and by that I will punish22 them, as it is written, And behold, I, even I, do bring a flood of waters upon the earth.23
R. Jose said: They waxed haughty only on account of the covetousness of the eye-ball, which is like water, as it is written, And they took them wives from all which they chose.24 Therefore He punished them by water, which is like the eye-ball,25 as it is written, All the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.26
R. Johanan said: The corruption of the generation of the Flood is characterised as great, and their punishment is characterised as great. Their corruption is characterised as great, as it is written, And God saw that the wickedness of man, was great in the earth;27 and their punishment is characterised as great, as it is written, All the fountains of the great deep. R. Johanan said: Three of those [hot fountains] were left,28 the gulf of Gaddor, the hot-springs of Tiberias, and the great well of Biram.29
For all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.30 R. Johanan said: This teaches that they caused beasts and animals, animals and beasts, to copulate; and all of these were brought in connection with man, and man with them all. R. Abba b. Kahana said, All of them returned [to their own kind], excepting the tushlami.31
And God said unto Noah, the end of all flesh is come before me.32 R. Johanan said: Come and see how great is the power of robbery, for lo, though the generation of the flood transgressed all laws, their decree of punishment was sealed only because they stretched out their hands to rob, as it is written, for the earth is filled with violence through them, and, behold, I will destroy them with the earth.33 And it is 'also written, Violence [i.e., robbery] is risen up into a rod of wickedness: none of them shall remain, nor of their multitude, nor any of theirs: neither shall there be wailing for them.34 R. Eleazar said: This teaches that it [violence personified] erected itself like a staff, stood before the Holy One, blessed be He, and said: 'Sovereign of the Universe! [There is no good in aught] of them, or aught of their multitude, or of theirs; neither shall there be wailing for them.' The School of R. Ishmael taught: The doom [of destruction] was decreed against Noah too, but that he found favour in the eyes of God, as it is written, It repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.35
And the Lord was comforted that he had made man in the earth.36 When R. Dimi came37 he said: The Holy One, blessed be He, exclaimed, 'I did well in preparing graves for them in the earth.'38 How is this signified [by the verse]? — Here is written, And the Lord was comforted;39 whilst elsewhere it is stated, And he comforted them, and spake kindly to them.40 Others say, [He exclaimed,] 'I did not do well in establishing graves for them in the earth;'41 here it is written, And it repented the Lord; whilst elsewhere it is written, And the Lord repented of the evil which he had thought to do unto his people.42
These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a just man, and perfect in his generations.43 R. Johanan said: In his generations, but not in other generations. Resh Lakish maintained: [Even] in his generations — how much more so in other generations. R. Hanina said: As an illustration of R. Johanan's view, to what may this be compared? To a barrel of wine lying in a vault of acid: in its place, its odour is fragrant [by comparison with the acid]; elsewhere, its odour will not be fragrant.44 R. Oshaia said: As an illustration of Resh Lakish's view, to what may this be compared? To a phial of spikenard oil lying amidst refuse: [if] it is fragrant where it is, how much more so amidst spices!45
And every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, [both man and cattle].46 If man sinned, how did the beasts sin? — A Tanna taught on the authority of R. Joshua b. Karha: This may be compared to a man who set up a bridal canopy for his son, and prepared a banquet with every variety [of food]. Subsequently his son died, whereupon he arose and broke up the feast,47 saying, 'Have I prepared all this for any but my son? Now that he is dead, what need have I of the banquet?' Thus the Holy One, blessed be He, said too, 'Did I create the animals and beasts for aught but man: now that man has sinned, what need have I of the animals and beasts?'
All that was in the dry land died;48 but not the fish in the sea.
R. Jose of Caesarea taught: What is meant by the verse, He is swift as the waters; their portion is cursed in the earth: [he beholdeth not the way of the vineyards]?49 This teaches that the righteous Noah rebuked them, urging, 'Repent; for if not, the Holy One, blessed be He, will bring a deluge upon you.and cause your bodies to float upon the water like gourds, as it is written, He is light [i.e., floats] upon the waters. Moreover, ye shall be taken as a curse for all future generations,50 as it is written, their portion is cursed' in the earth. He beholdeth not the way of the vineyards:' this teaches that they looked by the way of the vineyards.51 They said to him, 'Who then prevents him?'52 — He replied.53 'I have one dear one54 to draw out from you.'55
Sanhedrin 108b'If so, [they retorted,] we will not turn aside from the way of the vineyards.'1
Raba taught: What is meant by the verse, He that is ready to slip with his feet is as a stone despised in the thought of him that is at ease?2 — This teaches that when Noah rebuked them and spoke words to them that were as hard as fiery flints, they derided him. Said they to him, 'Old man, what is this ark for?' — He replied, 'The Holy One, blessed be He, will bring a flood upon you.' 'A flood of what,' they jeered? 'If a flood of fire, we have a substance called 'alitha;3 whilst should He bring a flood of water: if He brings it up from the earth, we have iron plates with which we can cover the earth [to prevent the water from coming up]; if from heaven, we have a substance called 'akob (others say, 'akosh)4 [which can ward it off].' — He replied. 'He will bring it from between the heels of your feet, as it is written, He is ready for the steps of your feet.'5 It has been taught: The waters of the flood were as severe as semen,6 as it is written, It is ready for the steps of the feet.7
And it came to pass, after seven days, that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.10 What was the nature of these seven days?11 — Rab said: These were the days of mourning for Methuselah, thus teaching that the lamenting for the righteous postpones retribution. Another meaning is: After the seven days during which the Holy One, blessed be He, reversed the order of nature,12 the sun rising in the west and setting in the east.13 Another meaning: the Holy One, blessed be He, [first] appointed a long time for them, and then a short time.14 Another meaning: After the seven days during which He gave a foretaste of the future world, that they might know what good they had withheld from themselves.
Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, man and wife.15 Have then beasts marital relationship? — R. Samuel b. Nahman said in R. Jonathan's name: It means of those with which no sin had been committed.16 Whence did he [Noah] know? — R. Hisda said: He led them past the ark; those which the ark accepted had certainly not been the object of sin; whilst those which it rejected had certainly been the object of sin. R. Abbahu said: [He took only] those which came of their own accord.17
A window21 shalt thou make to the ark.22 R. Johanan said: The Holy One, blessed be He, instructed Noah, 'Set therein precious stones and jewels, so that they may give thee light, bright as the noon.'23 And in a cubit shalt thou finish it above:24 for thus would it stand firm.25 With lower, second, and third stories shalt thou make it.26 A Tanna taught: The bottom storey was for the dung; the middle for the animals; and the top for man.
And he sent forth a raven.27 Resh Lakish said: The raven gave Noah a triumphant retort. It said to him, 'Thy Master hateth me, and thou hatest me. Thy Master hateth me — [since He commanded] seven [pairs to be taken] of the clean [creatures], but only two of the unclean.28 Thou hatest me — seeing that thou leavest the species of which there are seven, and sendest one of which there are only two. Should the angel of heat or of cold smite me, would not the world be short of one kind? Or perhaps thou desirest my mate!' — 'Thou evil one!' he exclaimed; 'even that which is [usually] permitted me29 has [now] been forbidden: how much more so that which is [always] forbidden me!' And whence do we know that they30 were forbidden? — From the verse, And thou shalt enter into the ark, thou, and thy sons, and thy wife, and the wives of thy sons with thee;31 whilst further on it is written, Go forth from the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.32 Whereon R. Johanan observed: From this we deduce that cohabitation had been forbidden.33
Our Rabbis taught: Three copulated in the ark, and they were all punished — the dog, the raven, and Ham. The dog was doomed to be tied, the raven expectorates [his seed into his mate's mouth]. and Ham was smitten in his skin.34
Also he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters were abated.35 R. Jeremiah said: This proves that the clean fowl dwelt with the righteous.36 And lo, in her mouth was an olive leaf taraf [as food].37 R. Eleazar said: The dove prayed to the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign of the Universe! Let my sustenance be as bitter as the olive, but in Thy charge, rather than sweet as honey and in the charge of flesh and blood.' Whence do we know that taraf connotes food? — From the verse, Feed me38 with food convenient for me.39
After their kinds they went forth from the ark.40 R. Johanan said: After their kinds, but not they [alone].41 R. Hana b. Bizna said: Eliezer [Abraham's servant] remarked to Shem [Noah's] eldest son,42 'It is written, After their kinds they went forth from the ark. Now, how were you situated?'43 — He replied. '[In truth], we had much trouble in the ark. The animals which are usually fed by day we fed by day; and those normally fed by night we fed by night. But my father did not know what was the food of the chameleon. One day he was sitting and cutting up a pomegranate, when a worm dropped out of it, which it [the chameleon] consumed. From then onward he mashed up bran for it, and when it became wormy, it devoured it. The lion was nourished by a fever, for Rab said, "Fever sustains for not less than six (days) nor more than thirteen."44 As for the phoenix,45 my father discovered it lying 'in the hold of the ark. "Dost thou require no food?" he asked it. "I saw that thou wast busy," it replied, "so I said to myself, I will give thee no trouble." "May it be (God's) will that thou shouldst not perish," he exclaimed; as it is written, Then I said, I shall die in the nest, but I shall multiply my days as the phoenix.'46
R. Hana b. Liwai said: Shem, [Noah's] eldest son,47 said to Eliezer [Abraham's servant]. 'When the kings of the east and the west attacked you, what did you do?' — He replied. 'The Holy One, blessed be He, took Abraham and placed him at His right hand, and they [God and Abraham] threw dust which turned to swords, and chaff which turned to arrows, as it is written, A Psalm of David. The Lord said unto my master, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool48 and it is also written, Who raised up the righteous man [Sc. Abraham] from the east, called him to his foot; gave the nations before him, and made him rule over kings? he made his sword as the dust, and his bow as driven stubble.49
Nahum of Gimso50 was accustomed, whatever befell him, to say, 'This too is for good.' It once happened that the Jews wished to send a gift to the Emperor. Said they. 'By
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