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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
1 If so,2 what is the purpose of the sentence, And they stoned him with a stone?3 — This is needed for what was taught: And they stoned him with a stone,4 — him,5 but not his garments. With a stone,6 — [to teach] that if he was killed by a single stone the commandment is fulfilled.7 And it was necessary to write [in this instance], 'stone', and [in another], 'stones'.8 For had the Divine Law written [only] 'a stone', I might have said: In case he does not die through one stone, no more are to be brought to kill him. The Divine Law therefore states, 'stones'. Again, had the Divine Law written 'stones' [only], I might have said that at the outset two must be fetched. The Divine Law therefore states, 'a stone'.9
But this Tanna states, 'Here it is written [etc.],'10 — He meant, If it were not written, i.e., even if this verse11 were not found,12 I could have adduced a gezerah shawah; seeing, however, that this verse is written, a gezerah shawah is not necessary.
R. Ashi said; Where did Moses reside? In the camp of the Levites And God said to him: Bring forth him that hath cursed, — i.e., without the camp of the Levites; without the camp, — i.e., outside the camp of the Israelites.13 And they brought forth him that had cursed,14 — this stands for the actual fulfilment [of the command]. But the fulfilment is expressly stated: And the children of Israel did as the Eternal had commanded Moses! — That is necessary to indicate that hands were laid [on the culprit]15 and that he was hurled down.16 Whereupon the Rabbis asked R. Ashi: How, according to you, do you interpret all the expressions; 'briny forth', in connection with the bullocks that are [wholly] burned?17 This is a difficulty.
A MAN WAS STATIONED. R. Huna said: It is obvious to me that the stone with which one is stoned, the gallows on which one is hanged, the sword with which one is decapitated, and the cloth with which one is strangled, are all provided by the Community. And why so? Because we could not tell a man to go and fetch his own property to kill himself. But, asked R. Huna, who provides the flag for signalling and the horse on which one rides to stop them?18 Seeing that they are for his protection, must they be provided by him, or rather, since the court is bound to endeavour to save him, by them? Again, what of R. Hiyya b. Ashi's dictum in R. Hisda's name; When one is led out to execution, he is given a goblet of wine containing a grain of frankincense, in order to benumb his senses, for it is written, Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto the bitter in soul.19 And it has also been taught; The noble women in Jerusalem used to donate and bring it. If these did not donate it, who provided it? As for that, it is certainly logical that it should be provided out of the public [funds]: Since it is written. 'Give', [the implication is] of what is theirs.
R. Aha son of R. Huna inquired of R. Shesheth: What if one of the disciples said, 'I have a statement to make in his favour,' and there and then becomes speechless?20 R. Shesheth blew into his hand,21 and said; [You ask, what] if one becomes speechless! Why there may also be some one in the farthest part of the earth [who could make such a statement]!22 — In the latter case, however, no one has actually said so, but in the former case, such a declaration has been made! [Hence the problem,] What then? — Come and hear! For R. Jose b. Hanina said: If one of the disciples who argued for acquittal died, he is regarded as though alive and in his place.23 Thus, it is so only if he had actually spoken in favour of acquittal,24 but not otherwise.25 [That does not solve it:] where one has actually argued for acquittal, I have no doubts; but the problem arises if he only declared [that he could do so].26
AND EVEN IF HE HIMSELF etc. Even the first and second time?27 But it has been taught: 'The first and second time, whether his statement has substance or not, he is brought back; thereafter, if there is substance in his statement, he is brought back, but not otherwise'? — Said R. Papa: Interpret it, from the second time28 onwards.
How do they [the judges]
know?29 — Abaye said: Two Rabbis
are sent with him; if his statement has substance, he is [brought back];
if not, he is not [brought back]. But why not do so in the first
place?30 — Because being terrified,
he cannot say all he wishes.31
MISHNAH. IF THEN THEY FIND HIM INNOCENT, THEY DISCHARGE HIM; BUT IF NOT, HE GOES FORTH TO BE STONED, AND A HERALD PRECEDES HIM [CRYING]: SO AND SO, THE SON OF SO AND SO, IS GOING FORTH TO BE STONED BECAUSE HE COMMITTED SUCH AND SUCH AN OFFENCE, AND SO AND SO ARE HIS WITNESSES. WHOEVER KNOWS ANYTHING IN HIS FAVOUR, LET HIM COME AND STATE IT.
GEMARA. Abaye said; It must also be announced: On such and such a day, at such and such and hour, and in such and such a place [the crime was committed], in case there are some who know [to the contrary], so that they can come forward and prove the witnesses Zomemim.32
AND A HERALD PRECEDES HIM etc. This implies, only immediately before [the execution], but not previous thereto.33 [In contradiction to this] it was taught: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu34 was hanged. For forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried, 'He is going forth to be stoned because he has practised sorcery and enticed Israel to apostacy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.' But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover!35 — Ulla retorted: 'Do you suppose that he was one for whom a defence
could be made? Was he
not a Mesith [enticer], concerning whom Scripture says, Neither shalt thou
spare, neither shalt thou conceal
him?36 With Yeshu however it was
different, for he was connected with the government [or royalty, i.e.,
Our Rabbis taught: Yeshu had five disciples, Matthai, Nakai, Nezer, Buni and Todah. When Matthai was brought [before the court] he said to them [the judges], Shall Matthai be executed? Is it not written, Matthai [when] shall I come and appear before God?37 Thereupon they retorted; Yes, Matthai shall be executed, since it is written, When Matthai [when] shall [he] die and his name perish.38 When Nakai was brought in he said to them; Shall Nakai be executed? Is it not written, Naki [the innocent] and the righteous slay thou not?39 Yes, was the answer, Nakai shall be executed, since it is written, in secret places does Naki40 [the innocent] slay.41 When Nezer was brought in, he said; Shall Nezer be executed? Is it not written, And Nezer [a twig] shall grow forth out of his roots.42 Yes, they said, Nezer shall be executed, since it is written, But thou art cast forth away from thy grave like Nezer [an abhorred offshoot].43 When Buni was brought in, he said: Shall Buni be executed? Is it not written, Beni [my son], my first born?44 Yes, they said, Buni shall be executed, since it is written, Behold I will slay Bine-ka [thy son] thy first born.45 And when Todah was brought in, he said to them; Shall Todah be executed? Is it not written, A psalm for Todah [thanksgiving]?46 Yes, they answered, Todah shall be executed, since it is written, Whoso offereth the sacrifice of Todah [thanksgiving] honoured me.47
R. Joshua b. Levi said; He who sacrifices1 his [evil] inclination and2 confesses [his sin] over it,3 Scripture imputes it to him as though he had honoured the Holy One, blessed be He, in both worlds, this world and the next; for it is written, Whoso offereth the sacrifice of confession honoureth me.4
R. Joshua b. Levi also said: When the Temple was in existence, if a man brought a burnt offering, he received credit for a burnt offering; if a meal offering, he received credit for a meal offering; but he who was humble in spirit, Scripture regarded him as though he had brought all the offerings, for it is said, The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit.5 And furthermore, his prayers are not despised, for it is written, A broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.6
MISHNAH. WHEN HE IS ABOUT TEN CUBITS AWAY FROM THE PLACE OF STONING, THEY
SAY TO HIM, 'CONFESS',7 FOR SUCH IS
THE PRACTICE OF ALL WHO ARE EXECUTED, THAT THEY [FIRST] CONFESS, FOR HE WHO
CONFESSES HAS A PORTION IN THE WORLD TO COME. EVEN SO WE FIND IN THE CASE
OF ACHAN, THAT JOSHUA SAID UNTO HIM, MY SON, GIVE, I PRAY THEE, GLORY TO
THE LORD, THE GOD OF ISRAEL, AND MAKE CONFESSION UNTO
HIM.8 AND ACHAN ANSWERED JOSHUA AND
SAID, OF A TRUTH, I HAVE SINNED AGAINST THE LORD THE GOD OF ISRAEL, AND THUS
AND THUS HAVE I DONE.9 AND WHENCE DO
WE KNOW THAT HIS CONFESSIONS MADE ATONEMENT FOR HIM? — FROM THE WORDS, AND
JOSHUA SAID: WHY HAST THOU TROUBLED US? THE LORD SHALL TROUBLE THEE THIS
DAY,10 I.E., THIS DAY ART THOU TO
BE TROUBLED, BUT THOU SHALT NOT BE TROUBLED IN THE NEXT WORLD.
AND IF HE KNOWS NOT WHAT TO CONFESS,11 THEY INSTRUCT HIM, 'SAY, MAY MY DEATH BE AN EXPIATION FOR ALL MY SINS.' R. JUDAH SAID: IF HE KNOWS THAT HE IS A VICTIM OF FALSE EVIDENCE, HE CAN SAY: MAY MY DEATH BE AN EXPIATION FOR ALL MY SINS BUT THIS. THEY [THE SAGES] SAID TO HIM: IF SO, EVERYONE WILL SPEAK LIKEWISE IN ORDER TO CLEAR HIMSELF.12
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: The word na13 is none other than a form of supplication. When the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Joshua, Israel hath sinned,14 he asked Him, 'Sovereign of the Universe, who hath sinned?' 'Am I an informer?' He answered, 'Go and cast lots.' Thereupon he went and cast lots, and the lot fell upon Achan. Said he to him; 'Joshua, dost thou convict me by a mere lot?15 Thou and Eleazar the Priest are the two greatest men of the generation, yet were I to cast lots upon you, the lot might fall on one of you.16 I beg thee,'17 he replied, 'cast no aspersions on [the efficacy of] lots, for Eretz Yisrael is yet to be divided by means of lots, as it is written, The land shall be divided by lot.18 [Therefore,] make confession.' Rabina said: He bribed him with words, saying, Do we seek aught from thee but a confession? confess unto Him and be free. Straightway, Achan answered Joshua and said: Of a truth, I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel, and thus have I done.19 R. Assi said in R. Hanina's name: This teaches that Achan had thrice violated the ban, twice in the days of Moses,20 and once in the days of Joshua, for it is written, I have sinned,21 and thus and thus have I done.22
R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Eleazar b. Simeon: He did so five times, four times in the days of Moses,23 and once in the days of Joshua, for it is written, I have sinned and thus and thus have I done.24 And why were they [the Israelites] not punished until this occasion? R. Johanan answered on the authority of R. Eleazar b. Simeon: Because [God] did not punish for secret transgressions until the Israelites had crossed the Jordan.
This point is disputed by Tannaim: The secret things belong unto the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever.25 Why are the words: Lanu u-lebanenu, [unto us and to our children] and the 'ayin of the word 'ad, [for ever] dotted?26 — To teach that God did not punish for transgression committed in secret, until the Israelites had crossed the Jordan:27 this is the view of R. Judah. Said R. Nehemia to him; Did God ever28 punish [all Israel] for crimes committed in secret; does not Scripture say for ever?29 But just as God did not punish [all Israel] for secret transgressions [at any time], so too did He not punish them [corporately] for open transgressions until they had crossed the Jordan.30 Then
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