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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
1 and this is followed by, Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death:2 thus, all who are included in the second prohibition are included in the first.3
'R. Eleazar said; They were also enjoined against the forbidden mixtures.' Whence do we derive this? — Samuel replied: Because Scripture saith, My statutes ye shall keep,4 implying the statutes which I have already decreed:5 viz., Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed.6 This teaches: just as in the case of animal life, the prohibition is against hybridization, so in plant life, the injunction is against grafting;7 and just as the former holds good both within the land [sc. Palestine] and without,8 so the latter holds good both within and without Palestine. But if so, does the verse, Ye shall therefore keep my statutes9 also imply the statutes which I imposed long ago?10 — There the verse reads, Ye shall therefore keep my statutes which I [now] command you: but here it reads, My statutes ye shall keep, implying the statutes decreed from of old shall ye keep.11
R. JOSHUA B. KARHA SAID etc. R. Aha b. Jacob said: He is not guilty unless he cursed the Tetragrammaton, excluding a biliteral Name,12 the blaspheming of which is not punishable. Is this not obvious, the Mishnah stating, May Jose smite Jose?13 — I might think that the name is used as a mere illustration;14 he therefore teaches otherwise.
Others give this version: — R. Aha b. Jacob said: This proves that the Tetragrammaton is also a Divine Name.15 But is it not obvious, since the Mishnah states: JOSE SMITE JOSE [using a four-lettered name]? — I might think that the great16 Name must be employed, whilst Jose is merely an illustration [of the mode of testifying]; therefore he teaches otherwise.
WHEN THE TRIAL WAS FINISHED, etc. Whence do we know that they arose? — R. Isaac b. Ami said, because the Writ saith — And Ehud came unto him: and he was sitting in a summer parlour, which he had for himself alone. And Ehud said, I have a message from God unto thee. And he arose out of his seat.17 Now, does this not afford an ad majus conclusion: If Eglon king of Moab, who was only a heathen and knew but an attribute of God's name, nevertheless arose, how much more so must an Israelite arise when he hears the Shem Hameforash.18
Whence do we know that they rent their garments? — From the verse, Then came Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and Joah the son of Asaph the recorder, to Hezekiah with their clothes rent, and told him the words of Rab-Shakeh.19
WHICH RENT WAS NOT TO BE RESEWN. Whence do we derive this? — R. Abbahu said: A gezerah shawah is deduced from the word 'rent'.20 This verse states, with their clothes rent; whilst elsewhere is written, And Elisha saw it [sc. Elijah's ascension] and he cried, My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof. And he saw him no more; and he took hold of his own clothes and rent them in two rents.21 Now, do we not understand from, 'and he rent them in two' that the cognate object is 'rents'; why then does the Writ expressly state 'rents'? — To teach that they were always to remain thus.22
Our Rabbis taught: He who hears [the Name blasphemed], and he who hears it from the person who first heard it [i.e., from the witness who testifies], are both bound to rend their garments. But the witnesses are not obliged to rend their clothes [when they hear themselves repeating the blasphemy in the course of their testimony], because they had already done so on first hearing it. But what does this matter: do they not hear it now too?23 — You cannot think so, because it is written, And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it [sc. the report of Rab-Shakeh's blasphemy] that he rent his clothes. Thus, Hezekiah rent his clothes, but they did not.
Rab Judah said in Samuel's name: He who hears the Divine Name blasphemed by a gentile need not rend his clothes. But if you will object, what of Rab-Shakeh?24 — He was an apostate Israelite.
Rab Judah also said in Samuel's name: One must rend his clothes only on hearing the Shem hameyuhad25 blasphemed, but not for an attribute of the Divine Name. Now both of these statements conflict with R. Hiyya's views. For R. Hiyya said: He who hears the Divine Name blasphemed nowadays need not rend his garments, for otherwise one's garments would be reduced to tatters.26 From whom does he hear it? If from an Israelite — are they so unbridled [as to sin thus so frequently]? But it is obvious that he refers to a gentile. Now, if the Shem hameyuhad is meant, are the gentiles so well acquainted with it [as to make such frequency possible]? Hence it must refer to an attribute, and concerning that he says that only nowadays is one exempt, but formerly one had to rend his clothes. This proof is conclusive.
THE SECOND WITNESS STATED, I TOO HAVE HEARD THUS. Resh Lakish said: This proves that 'I too have heard thus' is valid evidence in civil and capital cases,27 but that the Rabbis imposed a greater degree of stringency [insisting that each witness should explicitly testify]. Here, however, since this is impossible [on account of the desire to avoid unnecessary blasphemy], they reverted to Biblical law. For should you maintain that such testimony is [Biblically] invalid, can we execute a person when it is impossible for the evidence to be validly given?28
AND THE THIRD DID LIKEWISE. This anonymous statement agrees with R. Akiba, who likens three witnesses to two.29
MISHNAH. HE WHO ENGAGES IN IDOL-WORSHIP [IS EXECUTED]. IT IS ALL ONE WHETHER HE SERVE IT, SACRIFICE, OFFER INCENSE, MAKE LIBATIONS, PROSTRATE HIMSELF, ACCEPT IT AS A GOD, OR SAY TO IT, 'THOU ART MY GOD.' BUT HE WHO EMBRACES, KISSES IT, SWEEPS OR SPRINKLES THE GROUND BEFORE IT, WASHES IT, ANOINTS IT, CLOTHES IT, OR PUTS ON ITS SHOES, HE TRANSGRESSES A NEGATIVE PRECEPT [BUT IS NOT EXECUTED]. HE WHO VOWS OR SWEARS [LIT. CONFIRMS A THING] BY ITS NAME, VIOLATES A NEGATIVE PRECEPT. HE WHO UNCOVERS HIMSELF BEFORE BAAL-PEOR1 [IS GUILTY, FOR] THIS IS THE MODE OF WORSHIPPING HIM. HE WHO CASTS A STONE ON MERCULIS2 THEREBY WORSHIPS IT.
GEMARA. What is meant by 'WHETHER HE SERVE IT'?3 — R. Jeremiah said: This is what is meant: Whether he serve it in its normal way, or sacrifice, make libations, offer incense, or prostrate himself, even if these acts are not the normal mode of worshipping that particular deity. Why is blood sprinkling not included? — Abaye said: Because sprinkling is the same as offering LIBATIONS,4 as it is written, their drink libations of blood will I not offer.5
Whence do we derive all these?6 — Our Rabbis taught: Had Scripture written, He that sacrificeth shall be utterly destroyed.7 I would have thought that the Writ refers to sacrificing without the Temple precincts;8 therefore Scripture adds: to any God, shewing that it refers to sacrificing to idols.9 From this I know only that sacrificing [as an abnormal act or worship] is punishable: Whence do I learn the same of offering incense and making libations? — From the additional words, save unto the Lord alone, whereby the Writ restricted all these services to the worship of the Divine10 name. Now, since sacrificing was singled out from the general statement,11 teaching that the latter applies to all services performed within the Temple precincts,12 whence can it be extended to include prostration? — From the verse, And he hath gone and served other gods, and prostrated himself before them,13 which is followed by, Thou shalt bring forth that man or that woman … and shalt stone them with stones.14 From this we learn the punishment: whence do we derive the formal prohibition? From the verse, For thou shalt prostrate thyself to no other god.15 I might think that I may also include embracing, kissing, and putting on its shoes [as punishable by death]:16 but the Writ saith, He hath sacrificeth.17 Now, sacrificing was included in the general statement;18 wherefore was it singled out? — That a comparison therewith might be drawn, and to teach you: just as sacrificing is distinguished, in that it is a service within the Temple precincts, and the death penalty is incurred through it, so for all services performed in the Temple precincts [in lawful worship] one is liable to death [when performing them idolatrously]. Hence prostration was singled out to illumine itself alone, whilst sacrificing was singled out to throw light upon the general proposition.19
The Master stated: 'I would have thought that the Writ refers to sacrificing without the Temple precincts'. But is that not punishable by extinction?20 — I might have thought: if he was warned, he is executed; if not, he is punished by extinction. It is therefore taught otherwise.
Raba, son of R. Hanan asked Abaye: Let us say that prostration was singled out in order to throw light upon the general law; and if you answer, in that case, why was sacrificing singled out too?21 To throw light upon itself, viz., that the intention to perform one act in the service of idolatry, even if made during the performance of another [non-idolatrous] act, renders one liable to punishment. For it has been taught: If one slaughtered a cow with the intention of sprinkling its blood and burning its fat idolatrously, — R. Johanan said,
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