Previous Folio / Sanhedrin Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
a positive one, yet it is reckoned? — It is both positive and negative.1
R. Johanan said: A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance;2 it is our inheritance, not theirs.3 Then why is this not included in the Noachian laws? — On the reading morasha [an inheritance] he steals it; on the reading me'orasah [betrothed], he is guilty as one who violates a betrothed maiden, who is stoned.4 An objection is raised: R. Meir used to say. Whence do we know that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest? From the verse, [Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments:] which, if man do, he shall live in them.5 Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: hence thou mayest learn that even a heathen who studies6 the Torah is as a High Priest! — That refers to their own seven laws.7
'R Hanania b. Gamaliel said: [They were also commanded] not to partake of the blood drawn from a living animal.'
Our Rabbis taught: But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat,8 this prohibits flesh cut from the living animal. R. Hanina b. Gamaliel said: It also prohibits blood drawn from a living animal. What is his reason? — He reads the verse thus: flesh with the life thereof [shall ye not eat]: blood with the life thereof shall ye not eat. But the Rabbis maintain that this reading teaches that flesh cut from live reptiles is permitted.9 Similarly it is said, Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life,' and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.10 But the Rabbis maintain that the verse teaches that the blood of arteries, with which life goes out, [is also forbidden as blood].11
Why was it first enjoined upon the sons of Noah, and then repeated at Sinai? — As the dictum, of R. Jose b. Hanina. For R. Jose b. Hanina said: Every precept which was given to the sons of Noah and repeated at Sinai was meant for both [heathens and Israelites]; that which was given to the sons of Noah but not repeated at Sinai was meant for the Israelites, but not for the heathens. Now, the only law thus commanded to the children of Noah and not repeated at Sinai was the prohibition of the sinew that shrank [nervous ischiadicus], and in accordance with R. Judah's view.12
The Master said: 'Every precept which was given to the sons of Noah and repeated at Sinai was meant for both [Noachides and Israelites]'. On the contrary, since it was repeated at Sinai, should we not assume it to be meant for Israel only?13 — Since idolatry was repeated as Sinai, and we find that the Noachides were punished for practising it,14 we must conclude that it was meant for both.
'That which was given to the sons of Noah but not repeated at Sinai was meant for the Israelites, but not for the heathens.' On the contrary, since it was not repeated at Sinai, should we not assume that it was meant for the Noachides and not for Israel?15 — There is nothing permitted to an Israelite yet forbidden to a heathen. Is there not? But what of a beautiful woman?16 — There it is because the heathens were not authorised to conquer.17 But what of a thing worth less than a Perutah?18 — There it is because the heathens do not forgive.19
'Every precept which was given to the sons of Noah and repeated at Sinai was meant for both [Noachides and Israelites]'.
1 and repeated at Sinai, And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised,2 yet was meant for Israel, and not for the Noachides? — That repetition was inserted to permit circumcision on the Sabbath, by interpreting, on the day [whichever it is], and even on the Sabbath.3
But procreation, which was enjoined upon the Noachides, for it is written, And you be ye fruitful and multiply.4 and repeated at Sinai, as it is written, Go say to them, get you in to your tents again,5 was nevertheless commanded to Israel but not to the heathens? — That repetition was to teach that whatever has been constitutionally forbidden by a majority vote requires another majority vote to abrogate it.6 If so, may we not say of each [of the Noachian laws] that it was repeated for a definite purpose?7 — He means this: why should the prohibition be repeated?8
'Now the only law [thus commanded to the children of Israel and not repeated at Sinai] was the prohibition of the sinew that shrank [nervus ischiadicus], and in accordance with R. Judah's view.' But these9 too were not repeated.10 — These two were repeated, though for a purpose, but this was not repeated at all.
An alternative answer is this:11 Circumcision was from the very first commanded to Abraham only [and not to the Noachides in general]: Thou shalt keep my covenant, therefore, thou and thy seed after thee in their generations,12 meaning, thou and thy seed are to keep it, but no others. If so, should it not be incumbent upon the children of Ishmael [Abraham's son]? — For in Isaac shall thy seed be called.13 Then should not the children of Esau be bound to practise it? — In Isaac,14 but not all Isaac. R. Oshaia objected: If so, the children of Keturah should have been exempt!15 — Did not R. Jose b. Abin, or as others say, R. Jose b. Hanina, state: [And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people;] he hath broken my covenant16 — this extends the precept [of circumcision] to the children of Keturah?17
Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Adam was not permitted to eat flesh, for it is written, [Behold I have given you all the herbs, etc.] to you it shall be for food, and to all the beasts of the earth,18 implying, but the beasts of the earth shall not be for you.19 But with the advent of the sons of Noah, it was permitted, for it is said, [Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you;] even as the green herb have I given you all things.20 Now one might think that the prohibition of flesh cut from the living animal does not apply to them [sc. the Noachides]: therefore the Writ teacheth, But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.21 One might think that this prohibition applies even to reptiles; therefore it is stated — but.22 How is this implied? — R. Huna said [But flesh with the life thereof, which is] the blood thereof: this shews that the prohibition applies only to those creatures whose flesh is distinct from their blood [in its prohibition]; excluding reptiles, whose flesh is not distinct from their blood.23
An objection is raised: And rule over the fish of the sea;24 surely that means that they should serve as food?25 — No. It refers to toil.26 But can fish be made to work? — Yes, even as Rahabah propounded: What if one drove [a waggon] with a goat and a shibbuta?27 Come and hear: and over the foul of the heaven.28 Surely this is in respect of food? — No. It refers to toil. But can fowl be made to work? — Yes, even as Rabbah, son of R. Huna propounded: According to the ruling of R. Jose b. R. Judah, what if one threshed [corn] with geese or cocks?29
Come and hear: And over every living creature that moveth upon the earth!30 — That refers to the serpent. For it has been taught: — R. Simeon b. Manassia said: Woe for the loss of a great servant. For had not the serpent been cursed, every Israelite would have had two valuable serpents, sending one to the north and one to the south to bring him costly gems, precious stones and pearls.31 Moreover, one would have fastened a thong under its tail, with which it would bring forth earth for his garden and waste land.32
A [further] objection is raised: R. Judah b. Tema said: Adam reclined in the Garden of Eden, whilst the ministering angels roasted flesh and strained wine for him. Thereupon the serpent looked in, saw his glory, and became envious of him?33 — The reference there is to flesh that descended from heaven. But does flesh descend from heaven? — Yes; as in the story of R. Simeon b. Halafta, who was walking on the road, when lions met him and roared at him. Thereupon he quoted: The young lions roar after their prey;34 and two lumps of flesh descended [from heaven]. They ate one and left the other. This he brought to the schoolhouse and propounded: Is this clean [fit for food] or not? — They [sc. the scholars] answered: Nothing unclean descends from heaven. R. Zera asked R. Abbahu: What if something in the shape of an ass were to descend? — He replied: Thou howling yorod:35 did they not answer him that no unclean thing descends from heaven?36
'R. Simeon said, They were also forbidden to practice sorcery.' What is R. Simeon's reason? — Because it is written,
- To Next Folio -