Previous Folio / Sanhedrin Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
1 only and not to capital punishment; and they differ in accordance with the difference of opinion between R. Ishmael and the [other] Rabbis. For we learnt: CASES INVOLVING LASHES BY THREE JUDGES; IN THE NAME OF R. ISHMAEL IT IS SAID BY TWENTY-THREE.
Rabina said that [R. Meir and the Rabbis are dealing with a case] where one of the witnesses, [who testified to the woman's guilt,] was found afterwards to be a relative or otherwise disqualified. Their point of difference is the same as that in which R. Jose and Rabbi differ in applying the opinion of R. Akiba. For we learnt: R. Akiba says that the third witness2 is mentioned in the Torah, [not for the purpose of making him less responsible], but, on the contrary, to increase his responsibility, by making his status equal to that of the other two, indicating, incidentally, that if Scripture punishes as sinners those who associate with sinners, much more will it reward those who associate with men who fulfil the commandments, as though they themselves had actually fulfilled them.3 And just as in the case of two witnesses, if one is found to be a near kinsman or otherwise disqualified4 person, the whole testimony is rendered void, so in the case of three witnesses, the disqualification of one invalidates the whole evidence. And whence do we infer that this law would apply even if the number of witnesses reached a hundred? — We infer it from the repetition of the word witnesses.5 R. Jose says: These aforementioned limitations apply only to witnesses in capital charges, whereas, in monetary cases, the evidence offered can be established by those remaining. Rabbi says it is one and the same rule; whether in monetary or capital cases the evidence becomes equally void, that is, provided the disqualified witnesses took part in the prerequisite warning. But if they were not among those who gave the warning, why should the evidence be affected by disqualified witnesses?
1 Or if you wish, you may say that the case [of the Mishnah] is one where the woman was warned by others and not by the witnesses. The point of difference, again, is the same as that between R. Jose and the Rabbis, as we learnt.2 R. Jose says: A criminal cannot be executed unless he was cautioned by two who witnessed the crime, for it says: At the mouth of two witnesses or three shall he be put to death.3
Or, if you prefer, you may say that [R. Meir and the Rabbis differ in a case] where the witnesses contradicted themselves during the Court cross-examination regarding accompanying circumstances4 but corroborated each other during cross-examination [on such matters as date, time and place]. And their point of dispute is that of the principle on which the Rabbis and Ben Zakkai differ; for we learnt:5 Ben Zakkai once examined the witnesses minutely, enquiring as to the size of the prickles on the fig-[tree under which a certain crime had been committed].6
R. Joseph said: If a husband has produced witnesses testifying to his wife's guilt, and her father has brought witnesses refuting their evidence,7 the former are liable to death8 but are exempted from paying [the value of the Kethubah].9 If, however, the husband has again brought witnesses to refute the father's witnesses, the latter are then liable to death10 and also to pay the fines11 — the money fine for intended injury to one person, and the death penalty for intended death to another.
R. Joseph again said:If a man says that so and so committed sodomy with him against his will, he himself with another witness can combine to testify to the crime. If, however, he admits that he acceded to the act, he is a wicked man [and therefore disqualified from acting as witness] since the Torah says: Put not thy hand with the wicked to be an unrighteous witness.12 Raba said: Every man is considered a relative to himself, and no one can incriminate himself.13 Again Raba said:
- To Next Folio -