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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 110a

and loosened her hair. Whoever came [to summon him] saw her and retreated.1  Meanwhile, Korah's wife joined them [the rebels] and said to him [Korah], 'See what Moses has done. He himself has become king; his brother he appointed High Priest; his brother's sons he hath made the vice High Priests. If terumah is brought, he decrees, Let it be for the priest; if the tithe is brought, which belongs to you [i.e., to the Levite], he orders, Give a tenth part thereof to the priest. Moreover, he has had your hair cut off,2  and makes sport of you as though ye were dirt; for he was jealous3  of your hair.' Said he to her, 'But he has done likewise!' She replied, 'Since all the greatness was his, he said also, Let me die with the Philistines.4  Moreover, he has commanded you, Set [fringes] of blue wool [in the corners of your garments];5  but if there is virtue in blue wool, then bring forth blue wool, and clothe thine entire academy therewith.'6  Thus it is written, Every wise woman buildeth her house7  — this refers to the wife of On, the son of Peleth; but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands — to Korah's wife.

And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty:8  they were the most distinguished men of the community; chosen for the appointed times:9  meaning, they were skilled in intercalating the year10  and fixing new moons; men of renown, famous throughout the whole world.

And when Moses heard it, he fell upon his face.11  What news did he hear? — R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in R. Jonathan's name: That he was suspected of [adultery with] a married women, as it is written, They were jealous of Moses in the camp,12  which teaches that every person warned his wife13  on Moses' account, as it is written, And Moses took the tabernacle, and pitched it without the camp.14

And Moses rose up and went in to Dathan and Abiram.15  Resh Lakish said: This teaches that one must not be obdurate in a quarrel;16  for Rab said: He who is unyielding in a dispute violates a negative command, as it is written, And let him not be as Korah, and as his company.17  R. Ashi said: He deserves to be smitten with leprosy: here it is written, [as the Lord said] to him by the hand of Moses,'18  whilst elsewhere, it is said, And the Lord said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. [… and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow].19

R. Joseph said: Whoever contends against the sovereignty of the House of David deserves to be bitten by a snake. Here it is written, And Adonijah slew sheep and oxen and fat cattle by the stone of Zoheleth;20  whilst elsewhere it is written, with the poison of serpents [zohale]21  of the dust.22  R. Hisda said: Whoever contends against [the ruling of] his teacher is as though he contended against the Shechinah, as it says, when they strove against the Lord.23  R. Hama son of R. Hanina said: Whoever quarrels24  with his teacher is as though he quarrelled with the Shechinah, as it is said, This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord.25  R. Hanina b. Papa said: Whoever expresses resentment against his teacher, is as though he expressed it against the Shechinah, as it is said, Your murmurings are not against us, but against the Lord.26  R. Abbahu said: He who imputes [evil] to his teacher is as though he imputed [it] to the Shechinah, as it says, And the people spake against God, and against Moses.27

Riches kept for the owners thereof to their hurt:28  Resh Lakish said: This refers to Korah's wealth. And all the substance that was at their feet:29  R. Eleazar said: This refers to a man's wealth, which puts him on his feet. R. Levi said: The keys of Korah's treasure house were a load for three hundred white mules,30  though all the keys and locks were of leather.31

R. Hama son of R. Hanina said: Three treasures did Joseph hide in Egypt: one was revealed to Korah; one to Antoninus the son of Severus,32  and the third is stored up for the righteous for the future time.

R. Johanan also said: Korah was neither of those who were swallowed up nor of those who were burnt. 'Neither of those who were swallowed up' — as it is written, [And the earth … swallowed them up…] and all the men that appertained unto Korah,33  [implying], but not Korah himself. 'Nor of those who were burnt' — for it is written, What time the fire devoured two hundred and fifty men,34  — but not Korah.35  A Tanna taught in a Baraitha: Korah was one of those who were swallowed up and burnt.36  'Of those who were swallowed up' — as it is written, … and swallowed them up together with Korah.37  'Of those who were burnt' — since it is written, And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men [that offered incense],38  which includes Korah.39

Raba said: What is meant by the verse, The sun and the moon stood still in their zebul, at the light of thine arrows they went?40  — This teaches that the sun and the moon ascended from the rakia' to the zebul, and exclaimed before the Holy One, blessed be He, 'Sovereign of the Universe! If thou wilt execute justice for Amram's son [by punishing Korah and his assembly], we will go forth [to give light]; if not, we will not go forth.' Thereupon he shot arrows at them, saying, 'For My honour ye did not protest, yet ye protest for the honour of flesh and blood!'41  So now they do not go forth until they are driven to it.42

Raba gave the following exposition: What is meant by the verse, But if the Lord make a new thing, and the earth open her mouth?43  — Moses said to the Holy One, blessed be He, 'If the Gehenna has already been created, 'tis well; if not, let the Lord create it.' Now, in respect of what? If actually to create it, but there is no new thing under the sun!44  But [he prayed] that its mouth might be brought up [to the spot where they were standing].

Notwithstanding the children of Korah died not.45  A Tanna taught: It has been said on the authority of Moses our Master: A place was set apart for them in the Gehenna, where they sat and sang praises [to God].

Rabbah b. Bar Hana said: I was proceeding on my travels, when an Arab said to me, 'Come, and I will shew thee where the men of Korah were swallowed up.' I went and saw two cracks whence issued smoke. Thereupon he took a piece of clipped wool, soaked it in water, attached it to the point of his spear, and passed it over there, and it was singed. Said I to him, 'Listen to what you are about to hear.' And I heard them saying thus: 'Moses and his Torah are true, but they [Korah's company] are liars.'

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. It being immodest to look upon a married woman's loosened hair.
  2. In accordance with the purification rites of the Levites; and let them share all their flesh (Num. VIII, 7).
  3. Lit., 'cast his eyes' — with envy.
  4. Judges XVI, 30. This was used proverbially to denote readiness to suffer, so that others might suffer too. — Moses, retaining all the greatness himself, did not mind shaving his own hair off, seeing that he had caused all the rest to do so, thus depriving them of their beauty.
  5. Num. XV, 38.
  6. Why limit it to a thread in the corner of the garment? Every scholar ought to be completely garbed therewith.
  7. Prov. XIV, 1.
  8. Num. XVI, 2.
  9. So translated here. E.V. 'famous in the congregation'.
  10. V, supra 2a.
  11. Ibid. 4.
  12. Ps. CVI, 16.
  13. V. p. 583, n. 1.
  14. Ex. XXXIII, 7 — to avoid all ground of suspicion.
  15. Num. XVI, 25.
  16. Moses disregarded his own dignity, going forth to the rebels in an attempt to end the quarrel.
  17. Ibid. XVII, 5.
  18. Ibid.
  19. Ex. IV, 6; to which 'the hand of Moses' is taken to allude.
  20. I Kings I, 9.
  21. [H].
  22. Deut. XXXII, 24.
  23. Num. XXVI, 9. The reference is to Korah's rebellion; though against Moses only, it is stigmatised as being against God.
  24. I.e., in general.
  25. Ibid. XX, 13. V. n. 14.
  26. Ex. XVI, 8.
  27. Num. XXI, 5.
  28. Eccl. V, 12.
  29. Deut. XI, 6.
  30. This of course is not to be taken literally.
  31. Instead of metal, so as to be light in weight, yet they amounted to such a load.
  32. V. p. 610, n. 7.
  33. Num. XVI, 32.
  34. Ibid. XXVI, 10.
  35. Since there were two hundred and fifty besides Korah; v. XVI, 17, where Korah is mentioned apart from the two hundred and fifty.
  36. First his soul was burnt, the body remaining intact, and this in turn was swallowed up (Rashi).
  37. Ibid. 10.
  38. Ibid. XVI, 35.
  39. He includes Korah among the two hundred and fifty men who offered incense, as stated in v. 17.
  40. Hab. III, 11; according to tradition, there are seven heavens, of which zebul is one. What were they doing in zebul, seeing that they are set in the rakia' — a lower heaven, translated in Gen. I, 4, 'firmament'?
  41. Men worship you, whereby they dishonour Me, yet ye do not protest.
  42. [As they do not wish to give light to sinful man.]
  43. Num. XVI, 30.
  44. Eccl. I, 9.
  45. Num. XXVI, 11.

Sanhedrin 110b

The Arabian then said to me, 'Every thirty days Gehenna causes them to turn back [here] like meat in a pot, and they say thus: "Moses and his Torah are true, but they are liars."'1

THE GENERATION OF THE WILDERNESS HATH NO PORTION IN THE WORLD TO COME etc. Our Rabbis taught: The generation of the wilderness hath no portion in the world to come, as it is written, in this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.'2  'they shall be consumed', refers to this world; 'and there they shall die' — to the world to come. And it is also said, Forty years long was I grieved with his generation [sc. of the wilderness — …] Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest:3  this is R. Akiba's view. R. Eliezer maintained: They will enter into the future world, for it is written, Gather my saints together unto me; those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice.4  How then do I interpret5  Unto whom I sware in my wrath etc? — [Only] in my wrath I sware, but repented thereof. R. Joshua b. Karha said: This verse was spoken only in reference to future generations. [Thus:] Gather my saints together unto me — this refers to the righteous of every generation; that have made a covenant with me — to Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, who submitted to the fiery furnace; by sacrifice — to R. Akiba and his companions, who gave themselves up to immolation for the sake of the Torah.6  R. Simeon b. Manasya said: They will enter the future world, as it is said, And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs.7  Rabbah b. Bar Hana said in R. Johanan's name: [Here] R. Akiba abandoned his love.8  For it is written, Go and cry in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, Thus saith the Lord: I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals, when thou wentest after me in the wilderness, in a land that was not sown;9  if others will enter [the future world] in their merit, surely they themselves most certainly will!


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: The ten tribes have no portion in the world to come,12  as it says, And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation:13  And the Lord rooted them out of their land, refers to this world; and cast them into another land — to the world to come:14  this is R. Akiba's view. R. Simeon b. Judah, of the Kefar of Acco,15  said on R. Simeon's authority: If their deeds are as this day's,16  they will not return; otherwise they shall. Rabbi said: They will enter the future world, as it is said, [And it shall come to pass] in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, [and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the Lord in the holy mount of Jerusalem].17

Rabbah b. Bar Hana said in R. Johanan's name: [Here] R. Akiba abandoned his love,18  for it is written, Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause mine anger to fall upon you; for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep mine anger for ever.19

Now, to what does 'his love' refer? — Even as it has been taught: The children of the wicked of Israel, [who died] in their minority, will not enter the future world, as it is written, For, behold, the day cometh that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root or branch:20  'root', refers to this world; 'branch' — to the world to come:21  This is Rabban Gamaliel's view. R. Akiba said: They will enter the world to come, as it is written, The Lord preserveth petha'im,22  and in the island cities, a child is called pattia;23  and it is said also, Hew the tree down, and destroy it: yet leave the stump of the roots thereof in the earth.24  How then do I interpret25  'that it shall leave them neither root nor branch'? — That He shall not leave them [unpunished the violation of] a single precept or the remnant thereof [i.e., even the most insignificant precept]. Another interpretation: 'root' refers to the soul, and 'branch' to the body.26  But as for young children of the wicked heathens, all agree that they will not enter the future world. And R. Gamaliel27  deduces it from And thou hast made all their memory perish.28

It has been said: An infant — from when may he enter the future world? — R. Hiyya and R. Simeon b. Rabbi [disagree]: one maintained, from birth; the other, from when it spoke. The one who says that it is from birth derives it from the verse, They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.29  The one who holds, from when it spoke, [deduces it] from the verse, A seed shall serve him; it shall be related of the Lord for a generation.30

It has been stated: Rabina maintained: From conception,31  as it is written, A seed shall serve him. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: From its circumcision, for it is written, I am afflicted and ready to die from my youth up; while I suffer thy terrors I am distracted.32

It was taught on R. Meir's authority: From when he said Amen, as it is written, Open ye the gates, that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in:33  render not which keepeth the truth34  but which sayeth Amen.35

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. [V. B.B. 74a, with slight variations.]
  2. Num. XIV, 35.
  3. Ps. XCV, 10f.
  4. Ibid. L, 5. This description fits the generation of the wilderness. Cf. And he sent young men of the children of Israel, which offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen unto the Lord … And Moses took the blood (thereof), and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words. (Ex. XXIV, 5, 8).
  5. Lit., 'fulfil.'
  6. R. Akiba disobeyed the Roman edict forbidding the practice and teaching of religion, and was martyred in consequence. — Ber. 61b. He was executed after several years of imprisonment (supra 12a) about the year 132 C.E.
  7. Isa. XXXV, 10: he regards 'the ransomed of the Lord' as alluding to those who left Egypt, whom the Lord 'ransomed'.
  8. In his love for Israel he generally sought the happiest destinies for them. Here, however, he taught that the generation of the wilderness had no portion in the world to come, though, as the speaker proceeds to demonstrate, he could so have interpreted a verse as to grant them a share therein.
  9. Jer. II, 2: thus the merit of this act of faith on the part of the generation of the wilderness stood their descendants in good stead and conferred the privilege upon them of a share in the future world.
  10. Deut. XXIX, 27.
  11. Becoming dark in the evening and light in the morning.
  12. [I.e., not in the hereafter but in the Messianic days.]
  13. Ibid.
  14. I.e., into a place other than the future world.
  15. V. p. 484, n. 7.
  16. I.e., if they do not repent, 'this day' referring to the time of their being exiled.
  17. Isa. XXVII, 13: 'the holy mount of Jerusalem' is understood here to mean the future world.
  18. V, p. 758, n. 7.
  19. Jer. III, 12.
  20. Mal. III, 19.
  21. And both are assumed to refer to the young children of the wicked.
  22. [H]. (E.V. 'the simple'.)
  23. [H].
  24. Dan. IV, 20; i.e., the family stock remains, the children of the wicked entering the future world.
  25. Lit., 'fulfil'.
  26. But of the wicked themselves, not their children. Thus we see R. Akiba, in his love for Israel, interpreting the verse as leniently as possible.
  27. The name is deleted by the Wilna Gaon and this appears so too from Rashi.
  28. Isa. XXVI, 14.
  29. Ps. XXII, 32.
  30. Ibid. 31. It shall be related shews that when God's glory can be related by a person, i.e., when he can speak, he earns his right to a portion of the world to come.
  31. Lit., 'its being sown'.
  32. Ibid. LXXXVIII, 16, translated: I am poor and ready to die (like the wicked, i.e., without entering the future world) from my being cast forth (from the womb); but once I have borne thy dread i.e., circumcision, which one always bears on his body, I am whirled round — in the whirl of life (the future world).
  33. Isa. XXVI, 2.
  34. [H].
  35. [H].