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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: One part of a man was covered, [viz.,] in front and two parts of a woman, [viz.,] in front and behind, because she is wholly shameful [when naked]: this is R. Judah's opinion. The Sages said: A man is stoned naked, but not a woman, What is the Rabbis' reason? — Scripture states, And they shall stone otho [him]. Why state 'otho'?1 Shall we say, 'otho' but not 'othah,' [her]? but it is written, Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman!2 What then is the significance of 'otho'. — That only he3 [is stoned] without his garments, but she4 is stoned in her clothes.
R. Judah5 said: 'Otho' implies without clothes, and there is no
distinction of sex.6 Are we to assume that the Rabbis are apprehensive of unchaste thoughts, and that R. Judah is not? But we know in fact that they both hold the reverse, for we learnt:7 The Priest seizes her garments,8 it does not matter if they are rent or torn open, until he uncovers her bosom and unloosens her hair. R. Judah said: If her bosom was beautiful, he did not expose it, and if her hair was comely, he did not loosen it,9 Rabbah said: In the other case, this was the reason: lest she should come forth from the Beth din innocent and the young priests conceive a passion for her; but here, she is about to be executed! And should you object, But through her their passions might be inflamed for others, Rabbah said: We have it on tradition that evil inclination moves a man only towards what his eyes see.
Raba said: Is there only an inconsistency between R. Judah's two statements and not between those of the Rabbis?10 — But, said Raba, R. Judah's two statements are not contradictory, even as we have solved the difficulty. And the Rabbis' views are also not opposed: Scripture says, That all women may be warned and not to do after your lewdness:11 but here, no greater warning is possible than this [sc. the execution].12 And should you say, Let us wreak both13 upon her, behold R. Nahman said in Rabbah b. Abbahu's name: Scripture says Love thy neighbour as thyself:14 choose an easy death for him.15
Shall we say that R. Nahman's statement is the subject of a conflict between Tannaim?16 — No: all agree with R. Nahman, but they
differ on the following point: One Master17 holds that [the avoidance of] personal humiliation is far preferable to lack of bodily pain,18 and the other holds the reverse.
MISHNAH. THE PLACE OF STONING WAS TWICE A MAN'S HEIGHT.19 ONE OF THE WITNESSES PUSHED HIM BY THE HIPS, [SO THAT] HE WAS OVERTURNED ON HIS HEART. HE WAS THEN TURNED ON HIS BACK.20 IF THAT CAUSED HIS DEATH, HE HAD FULFILLED [HIS DUTY];21 BUT IF NOT, THE SECOND WITNESS22 TOOK THE STONE23 AND THREW24 IT ON HIS CHEST. IF HE DIED THEREBY, HE25 HAD DONE [HIS DUTY]; BUT IF NOT, HE [THE CRIMINAL] WAS STONED BY ALL ISRAEL,26 FOR IT IS WRITTEN: THE HAND OF THE WITNESSES SHALL BE FIRST UPON HIM TO PUT HIM TO DEATH, AND AFTERWARDS THE HAND OF ALL THE PEOPLE.27
GEMARA. A Tanna taught: And with his own height,28 there were three [men's heights] in all. Yet do we really require so much height?29 For the following contradicts it: 'Just as a pit to be reckoned as causing death must be ten handbreadths [deep],30 so must all other [excavations] be sufficient to cause death, viz., ten handbreadths'?31 — R. Nahman said in Rabbah b. Abbahu's name: Scripture states, Love thy neighbour as thyself;32 i.e., choose an easy33 death for him. But if so, it [sc. the place of stoning] should be still higher! — [That, however, is not so] to prevent disfiguration.34
ONE OF THE WITNESSES PUSHED HIM: Our Rabbis taught: Whence do we know that it [the execution]35 was accomplished by hurling down?36 — Scripture states, And he shall be cast down.37 And whence the necessity of stoning? — Scripture states, He shall be stoned.38 And whence do we know that both stoning and hurling down [were employed]?39 — From the verse, he shall surely be stoned or thrown down.40 And whence do we know that if he died through being hurled down, it is enough? — Scripture states, or cast down.41 Whence do we know the same procedure is to be followed for [all subsequent] generations?
BUT IF NOT, THE SECOND WITNESS TOOK THE STONE.
'HE TOOK'?2 But has it not been taught: R. Simeon b. Eleazar says: 'A stone was there which it took two men to lift, — he lifted that and dropped it on his [the victim's] chest; if it killed him, his duty was fulfilled'?3 But on your reasoning, that itself is inconsistent! That 'which it took two men to lift' — 'he lifted that and dropped it on his chest!' But it must mean that he lifts it up together with his fellow witness, but drops it [down] by himself in order that it may come down with force.4
BUT IF NOT, HE WAS STONED BY ALL ISRAEL, etc. But has it not been taught: It [the stoning] was never actually repeated?5 — Do I then say that it was done? I merely state what might be necessary!
The Master said: 'A stone was there etc.'6 But has it not been taught: 'The stone with which he [the condemned] was stoned, the gallows on which he was hanged, the sword with which he was beheaded, or the cloth with which he was strangled, are all buried with him'?7 — It merely means that others were prepared and brought in their place.8 'They are all buried with him.' Surely it has been taught: They are not buried with him!9 — R. Papa explained: What is meant by 'with him?' In the earth surrounding his corpse.10
Samuel said: If the hand[s] of the witnesses were cut off,11 he [the condemned] goes free. Why so? — Because it is necessary that The hand of the witnesses shall be first upon him,12 which is here impossible. But according to this, if they were without hands from the outset,13 are they also ineligible?14 — There15 it is different, for Scripture states, The hand of the witnesses, implying, the hand which they had previously possessed.16
An objection is raised; 'Wherever two witnesses testify, saying, We testify against so and so17 that he was sentenced by such and such a court, and so and so are his witnesses, he is to be executed'.18 — Samuel explained this as referring to a case where the same were also the original witnesses.19 But must [every] verse be [carried out] as written? Has it not been taught: 'He that smote him shall surely be put to death, he is a murderer?20 I only know that he may be executed with the death that is decreed for him.21 But where it is not possible to execute him in the manner prescribed,22 whence do I know that one may execute him by any means possible? From the verse: He that smote him shall surely be put to death, — in all cases'?23 — There it is different, for Scripture says, He shall surely be put to death.24 Then let us draw an inference from it.25 — Because the references to a murderer, and the 'avenger of blood' are two verses written with the same object, and the teaching of two such verses does not extend to anything else.26 'A murderer', as has just been stated. And what is the reference to the 'avenger of blood'? — It has been taught: The avenger of blood shall himself put the murderer to death;27 it is [primarily] the duty of the avenger of blood [to slay the murderer]. And whence do we know that, if he [the murdered man] has no avenger of blood,28 the Beth din must appoint one?29 — From the verse, When he meeteth him,30 i.e., in all cases.31
Mar Kashisha, the son of R. Hisda, said to R. Ashi: But are we really not to interpret the verse literally? Have we not learnt: If either of them32 has a hand or fingers cut off, or is dumb, lame, blind, or deaf, he does not become a 'stubborn and rebellious son';33 because it is written, And they shall lay hold on him,34 — this excludes those with hands or fingers cut off; and they shall bring him out, so excluding lame [parents]; and they shall say, excluding the dumb; this our son,35 excluding the blind; he will not obey our voice, excluding the deaf.36 Why so? Surely because a verse must be literally interpreted! — No. There it is different, because the entire verse is superfluous.37
Come and hear! If it [the city] has no 'public square',38 it cannot become a condemned city: this is R. Ishmael's view. R. Akiba said: If it has no public square, one is made for it.39 Now, they differ only in that one holds that 'the public square thereof'40 implies, that it must have been there from the outset [i.e., before sentence]; and the other holds that 'the public square thereof', even if it has only now [sc. after sentence] become one, is to be regarded as though it had been one originally. Yet both agree that the verse must be interpreted literally! — It is a point of difference between Tannaim, for we learnt:41 If he has no thumb or great toe or right ear, he can never obtain cleansing. R. Eliezer said: He [the priest] applies it [the blood] on the corresponding place, and his duty is discharged. R. Simeon said: He applies it on the left side and his duty is discharged.42
MISHNAH. ALL WHO ARE STONED ARE [AFTERWARDS] HANGED: THIS IS R. ELIEZER'S VIEW, THE SAGES SAY: ONLY THE BLASPHEMER AND THE IDOLATER ARE HANGED. A MAN IS HANGED WITH HIS FACE TOWARDS THE SPECTATORS, BUT A WOMAN WITH HER FACE TOWARDS THE GALLOWS: THIS IS THE VIEW OF R. ELIEZER. BUT THE SAGES SAY: A MAN IS HANGED, BUT NOT A WOMAN. WHEREUPON R. ELIEZER SAID TO THEM: BUT DID NOT SIMEON B. SHETAH HANG WOMEN AT ASHKELON?43 THEY RETORTED: [ON THAT OCCASION] HE HANGED EIGHTY WOMEN, NOTWITHSTANDING THAT TWO [MALEFACTORS] MUST NOT BE TRIED ON THE SAME DAY.44
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: [Scripture states,] And if he be put to death, then thou shalt hang him on a tree:45 I might think that all who are put to death are to be hanged: therefore Scripture states, For he is hanged [because of] a curse against God.46 Just as the blasphemer in question is executed by stoning, so all who are stoned [must be subsequently hanged]: this is R. Eliezer's view. But the Sages say: Just as the blasphemer in question denied the fundamental principle [of faith].47 So all who deny the fundamental principle [of faith].48 Wherein do they differ?49 — The Rabbis50 employ [the rule of] the general and the particular; whilst R. Eliezer employs [the rule of] extension and limitation.51 'The Rabbis employ [the rule of] the general and the particular.' [Thus:] And if he be put to death then thou shalt hang him, is a general proposition; for he is hanged [because of] a curse against God is the particular. Now, had these two clauses been placed beside each other,52 we should have said, the general includes nothing [but] the particular, i.e., only this man53 and no one else.
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