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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
And anointed him [Solomon] unto the Lord to be prince, and Zadok to be
priest.1 Thus, the prince is compared
with Zadok: just as in the case of Zadok [High Priest], half belonged to
him, and half to his brethren, so also in the case of the ruler. And whence
do we know it of Zadok himself? — As it has been taught, for Rabbi said:
And it [the shewbread] shall be for Aaron and his
sons;2 this means, half belonged to
Aaron and half to his sons.
MISHNAH. NEITHER SHALL HE MULTIPLY WIVES TO HIMSELF.3 — ONLY EIGHTEEN. R. JUDAH SAID: HE MAY HAVE MORE, PROVIDED THEY DO NOT TURN AWAY HIS HEART. R. SIMEON SAID: HE MUST NOT MARRY EVEN ONE WHO MAY TURN AWAY HIS HEART. WHY THEN IS IT WRITTEN, NEITHER SHALL HE MULTIPLY WIVES TO HIMSELF?4 — EVEN THOUGH THEY BE WOMEN LIKE ABIGAIL.5
GEMARA. Are we to assume that R. Judah interprets Biblical law on the basis of its reason,6 and R. Simeon does not?7 But we find the reverse; for it has been taught: A pledge must not be taken from a widow, whether poor or rich, as it is written, Thou shalt not take the widow's raiment to pledge:8 this is R. Judah's view. R. Simeon ruled: We may take a pledge of a rich widow but not of a poor one, for [in the latter case] thou art bound to return [the pledge] to her daily, and [thereby] cause her an evil name among her neighbours. Whereon we asked: What does he mean? [And the answer was:] Since thou hast taken a pledge of her, thou must return it to her [each evening]9 and so [by her frequent visits to thee] thou wouldst get her an evil name among her neighbours. Hence we see that R. Judah does not interpret the Biblical law according to its reason, while R. Simeon does!10 — Generally, indeed, R. Judah does not interpret Biblical law on the basis of its reason; here, however, it is different, for here he merely expounds the reason stated in the text. Thus: Why the command, he shall not multiply wives to himself? It is that his heart be not turned aside.11
And R. Simeon? — He could answer you: Let us see: Generally we interpret the law according to the reason implied;12 then Scripture should have read, He shall not multiply wives to himself, and nothing further, and I would then have known that the reason was that his heart turn not away. Why then state: That his heart turn not away? — To imply that he must not marry even a single one who may turn away his heart. Then how am I to explain, he shall not multiply?13 — [As meaning that he may not marry many] even though they be [women like Abigail.
Whence do we deduce the number eighteen? — From the verse, And unto David were sons born in Hebron; and his first-born was Ammon of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; the second, Chileab of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; the third Absalom the son of Maacah; and the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shefatiah the son of Abital; and the sixth, Ithream of Eglah, David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.14 And of them the Prophet said: And if that were too little, then would I add unto thee the like of these, [Ka-hennah] and the like of these, [we-kahennah],15 each 'kahennah' implying six, which, with the original six, makes eighteen in all. Rabina objected: Why not assume that 'kahennah' implies twelve,16 and 'we-kahennah', twenty-four?17 It has indeed been taught likewise: 'He shall not multiply wives to himself beyond twenty-four.' And according to him who interprets the redundant 'waw',18 it ought to be forty-eight. And it has been taught even so: 'He shall not multiply wives to himself, more than forty-eight.' Then what is the reason of the Tanna of our Mishnah? — R. Kahana said: He parallels the second 'kahennah' with the first; thus, just as the first 'kahennah' indicates [an increase of] six, so does the second. But there was Michal too!19 — Rab said: Eglah is Michal. And why was she called Eglah? Because she was beloved by him, as an Eglah [calf] by its mother. And thus it is said, If ye had not ploughed with my heifer etc.20 But did Michal have children? Is it not written, And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child unto the day of her death.?21 — R. Hisda said: She had no child until the day of her death, but on the day of her death she did.22
Let us see then: His children are enumerated [as born] in Hebron, whereas the incident with Michal23 occurred in Jerusalem,24 as it is written, Michal the daughter of Saul looked out at the window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord, and she despised him in her heart.25 And Rab Judah, or according to others, R. Joseph, said: Michal received her due punishment?26 — But we might argue thus: Prior to that incident she did have [children], but after it she did not.
[Now as to the number eighteen:] Is it not stated, And David took him concubines and wives out of Jerusalem?27 — To make up the eighteen. What are 'wives', and what are 'concubines'? — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Wives have 'kethubah'28 and 'kiddushin';29 concubines have neither.
Rab Judah also said in Rab's name: David had four hundred children, and all born of yefoth to'ar;30 they had long locks31 and all drove32 in golden carriages. They used to march at the head of the troops and were men of power in the household of David.
Rab Judah further said in Rab's name: Tamar was a daughter of a yefath to'ar, as it is written, Now therefore I pray thee,33 speak unto the King, for he will not withhold me from thee.34 Now, should you imagine that she was the offspring of a legitimate marriage, how could his sister have been granted him [in marriage]? We must infer therefore, that she was the daughter of a yefath-to'ar.
And Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, and Jonadab was a very subtle man etc.35 Rab Judah said in Rab's name: 'Subtle' to do evil. And he said unto him, Why, O son of the king, art thou thus becoming leaner … And Jonadab said unto him, Lay thee down on thy bed and feign thyself sick … and she dress the food in my sight … And she took the pan and poured them [the cakes] out before him.36 Rab Judah in the name of Rab said: She made for him some kind of pancakes.37
Then Amnon hated her with exceeding great hatred etc.38 For what reason? — R. Isaac answered: A hair becoming entangled, mutilated him privily. If this happened of itself, what was her part in it? — But we might rather say that she entangled it and caused, mutilation. But is this so? Did not Raba expound: What is meant by the verse: And thy renown went forth among the nations for thy beauty.39 It is that the daughters of Israel had neither under-arm nor pubic hair?40 — It was otherwise with Tamar, for she was the daughter of a yefath to'ar.
And Tamar put ashes on her head and rent her garment of many colours.41 It was taught in the name of R. Joshua b. Korha. In that hour Tamar set up a great fence [about chastity]. They42 said: if this could happen to kings' daughters, how much more to the daughters of ordinary men; if this could happen to the chaste, how much more to the wanton?
Rab Judah said in Rab's name: On that occasion, they made a decree
1 with [a married] or unmarried woman. But surely the prohibition of yihud with a married woman is a Biblical law! For R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: Where is [the prohibition of] yihud alluded to in the Biblical text? It is written: if thy brother, the son of thy mother entice thee.2 Is it then only the son of a mother that can entice, and not the son of a father? But it is to teach that only a son may be alone with his mother; but no other man may be alone with women Biblically interdicted on account of incest!3 — Say rather that they enacted a decree against yihud with unmarried women.
And Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying:' I will be king.4 Said Rab Judah in the name of Rab: This teaches us that he attempted to fit [the crown on his head] but it would not fit him.5
And he prepared him chariots and horses and fifty men to run before him.6 What is there remarkable in this?7 — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: They all had their spleen8 and also the flesh of the soles of their feet cut off.9
MISHNAH. HE SHALL NOT MULTIPLY HORSES UNTO HIMSELF10 — ONLY AS MANY AS SUFFICE FOR HIS CHARIOT. AND SILVER AND GOLD HE SHALL NOT GREATLY MULTIPLY UNTO HIMSELF11 — ONLY AS MUCH AS IS REQUIRED FOR 'ASPANYA'.12 AND HE SHALL WRITE IN HIS OWN NAME A SEFER TORAH.13 WHEN HE GOES FORTH TO WAR HE MUST TAKE IT WITH HIM; ON RETURNING, HE BRINGS IT BACK WITH HIM; WHEN HE SITS IN JUDGMENT IT SHALL BE WITH HIM, AND WHEN HE SITS DOWN TO EAT, BEFORE HIM, AS IT IS WRITTEN: AND IT SHALL BE WITH HIM AND HE SHALL READ THEREIN ALL THE DAYS OF HIS LIFE.14
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: He shall not multiply horses to himself [lo]:15 I might think, [this meant] not even such as are required for his horsemen and chariots. Scripture therefore states: 'lo' [to himself]: for himself16 he may not multiply, but he may multiply as many as are required for his chariots and horsemen. How then am I to interpret the word horses?17 — As [referring to] horses that stand idle.18 And whence do we know that even a single idle horse comes under such a prohibition? — Scripture states: that he should multiply sus [a horse].19 But if even a single idle horse involves [the prohibition,] He shall not multiply, why state horses [plural]? — To show us that with each single idle horse he transgresses anew the prohibitory command.
[Reverting to chariot horses:] Thus, it is only because Scripture wrote 'lo' [to him]: but otherwise, might we have thought that even those necessary for his chariots and horsemen are forbidden?20 — It is necessary here to permit a large number.21
AND SILVER AND GOLD HE SHALL NOT MULTIPLY UNTO HIMSELF etc.
Our Rabbis taught: And silver and gold he shall not multiply 'lo' [unto himself]:22 I might think [this meant] even for 'aspanya'. Therefore Scripture writes, 'lo'; only for himself [i.e., his own use] may he not multiply silver and gold, but he may do so for 'aspanya'. Thus, it is only because Scripture wrote 'lo': but otherwise, might we have thought that the prohibition extended even to money for 'aspanya'?23 — [the word] is necessary here only to permit him a more generous provision.
Rab Judah raised a point of contradiction [in the following passages:] It is written, And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots.26 But elsewhere we read, And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots.27 How are these [to be reconciled]? Thus: If he had forty thousand stables, each of them must have contained four thousand horsestalls; and if he had four thousand stables, each of them must have contained forty thousand stalls.
R. Isaac raised the following point of contradiction: It is written, Silver was nothing accounted for in the days of Solomon,28 and further, And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem [as plentiful] as stones.29 [Hence it had some value?] But these verses present no difficulty; the former refers to the period before he married Pharaoh's daughter; the latter, to the period after he married her.30
R. Isaac also said: Why were the reasons of [some] Biblical laws not revealed? — Because in two verses reasons were revealed, and they caused the greatest in the world [Solomon] to stumble. Thus it is written: He shall not multiply wives to himself,33 whereon Solomon said, 'I will multiply wives yet not let my heart be perverted.' Yet we read, When Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart.34 Again it is written: He shall not multiply to himself horses;35 concerning which Solomon said, 'I will multiply them, but will not cause [Israel] to return [to Egypt].' Yet we read: And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six [hundred shekels of silver].36
AND HE SHALL WRITE IN HIS OWN NAME A SEFER TORAH. A Tanna taught: And he must not take credit37 for one belonging to his ancestors.
Abaye raised an objection: 'He [the king] shall write a Sefer Torah for himself, for he should not seek credit40 for one [written] by others:' [Surely, this implies] only a king [is thus enjoined], but not a commoner? — No, it is necessary here to teach the need for two Scrolls of the Law [for the King], even as it has been taught: And he shall write him the repetition41 of this law,42 [i.e.,] he shall write for himself two copies, one which goes in and out with him and the other to be placed in his treasure-house. The former which is to go in and out with him, [he shall write in the form of an amulet43 and fasten it to his arm, as it is written, I have set God always before me, surely He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.]44 He may not, while wearing it, enter the bath house, or the closet, as it is written: And it shall be with him and he shall read therein45 — in places appropriate for reading it.
Mar Zutra or, as some say, Mar 'Ukba said: Originally the Torah was given to Israel in Hebrew characters and in the sacred [Hebrew] language; later, in the times of Ezra,46 the Torah was given in Ashshurith script47 and Aramaic language. [Finally], they selected for Israel48 the Ashshurith script and Hebrew language, leaving the Hebrew characters and Aramaic language for the hedyototh. Who are meant by the 'hedyototh'? — R. Hisda answers: The Cutheans.49 And what is meant by Hebrew characters? — R. Hisda said: The libuna'ah script.50
It has been taught: R. Jose said: Had Moses not preceded him, Ezra would have been worthy of receiving the Torah for Israel. Of Moses it is written, And Moses went up unto God,51 and of Ezra it is written, He, Ezra, went up from Babylon.52 As the going up of the former refers to the [receiving of the] Law, so does the going up of the latter. Concerning Moses, it is stated: And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments;53 and concerning Ezra, it is stated: For Ezra had prepared his heart to expound the law of the Lord [his God] to do it and to teach Israel statutes and judgments.54 And even though the Torah was not given through him, its writing was changed through him, as it is written:
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