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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
They were greater than he [in one respect], and he was superior to them [in another]. [Thus:] They were greater than he, since they were prophets, whilst he was not. He [on the other hand] was superior to them, since he saw [the vision] which they did not. But since they did not see it, why were they terrified? — Though they themselves saw nothing, their guardian angel did see it.1 Rabina said: This proves that when one is terrified [and knows not why], though he has not seen anything, his guardian angel has.2 What shall he do [to dissipate his fears]? — Let him leap four cubits from his place; alternatively, let him read the shema'.3 But if he is standing in an unclean place [where the shema' may not be recited], let him say thus: 'the butcher's goat is fatter than I.'4
Of the increase5 of his government and peace there shall be no end.6 R. Tanhum said: Bar Kappara expounded in Sepphoris, Why is every mem in the middle of a word open, whilst this is closed?7 — The Holy One, blessed be He, wished to appoint Hezekiah as the Messiah, and Sennacherib as Gog and Magog;8 whereupon the Attribute of Justice9 said before the Holy One, blessed be He: 'Sovereign of the Universe! If Thou didst not make David the Messiah, who uttered so many hymns and psalms before Thee, wilt Thou appoint Hezekiah as such, who did not hymn Thee in spite of all these miracles which Thou wroughtest for him?' Therefore it [sc. the mem] was closed.10 Straightway the earth exclaimed: 'Sovereign of the Universe! Let me utter song before Thee instead of this righteous man [Hezekiah], and make him the Messiah.' So it broke into song before Him, as it is written, From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous.11 Then the Prince of the Universe12 said to Him: 'Sovereign of the Universe! It [the earth] hath fulfilled Thy desire [for songs of praise] on behalf of this righteous man.'13 But a heavenly Voice cried out, 'It is my secret, it is my secret.'14 To which the prophet rejoined, 'Woe is me, woe is me:15 how long [must we wait]?' The heavenly Voice [again] cried out, 'The treacherous dealers have dealt treacherously; yea, the treacherous dealers have dealt very treacherously:16 which Raba — others say, R. Isaac — interpreted: until there come spoilers, and spoilers of the spoilers.17
The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?18 R. Johanan said: The angel in charge of the souls is named Dumah. All the souls assembled before Dumah and said to him, What [sayeth] the Watchman [sc. God] of the night, What [sayeth] the Watchman of the night?19 The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will enquire, enquire ye: return, come.20
A Tanna reported in the name of R. Pappias: It was a reproach to Hezekiah and his company21 that they uttered no song [to God] until the earth broke into song, as it is written, From the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the righteous. Similarly we read, And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord who hath delivered you;22 whereon a Tanna taught in the name of R. Pappias: It was a reproach to Moses and the six hundred thousand [Israelites] that they did not bless [the Lord] until Jethro came and did so.
And Jethro rejoiced [wa-yihad].23 Rab and Samuel [dispute its meaning]. Rab said: He caused a sharp knife to pass over his flesh;24 Samuel said: His flesh crept [with horror at the destruction of the Egyptians].25 Rab26 observed: Thus people say, Before a proselyte, even unto the tenth generation, insult not an Aramean.27
Therefore shall the Lord, the Lord of hosts, send among his fat ones leanness.28 What is meant by, among his fat ones [bemishmanav]29 leanness? — The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let Hezekiah, who hath eight [shemoneh] names, come and mete out punishment to Sennacherib, who hath [likewise] eight.30 Hezekiah, as it is written, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called [i] Wonderful, [ii] Counsellor, [iii] Mighty, [iv] Judge,31 [v] Everlasting, [vi] Father, [vii] Prince, and [viii] Peace.32 But is there not Hezekiah too?33 — That means, 'whom God hath strengthened;' alternatively, Hezekiah denotes 'Who strengthened' Israel [in their devotion] to their father in Heaven.34 Sennacherib, of whom it is written, [i] Tiglath-pileser,35 [ii] [Tilgath-] pilneser,36 [iii] Shalmaneser,37 [iv] Pul,38 [V] Sargon,39 [vi] Asnapper,40 [vii] Rabba,41 and [viii] Yakkira.42 But is there not Sennacherib too? — [That means,] that his very conversation was strife; alternatively, that he prated with inflammatory speech against the Most High.43
R. Johanan said: Why did that evil man merit the titles of the great and noble Asnapper? — Because he did not speak slightingly of the Land of Israel, as it is written, Until I come and take you away to a land like your own land.44 Rab and Samuel [dispute the matter]: one maintained that he was a wise king; the other that he was foolish. The view that he was a wise king is because had he said, 'a land that is better than your own,' they would have replied, 'Thou liest;' whilst the opinion that he was foolish is because if so [i.e., that the land of exile would be no better than their own], what inducement [did he offer]?
Whither did he deport them? — Mar Zutra said: To Africa;45 R. Hanina maintained: To the mountains of Salug.46
But Israel spoke with contempt about Palestine, for when they came to Shush,47 they said: This is as good as our land;48 to 'Almin,49 they said: This is like the House of Eternities [i.e., Jerusalem, or the Temple];50 on arriving at Shush Tere,51 they said: This is twice as good [as our land].52
And beneath his glory shall he kindle a burning like the burning of a fire.53 R. Johanan said: That which was beneath his glory [would be burnt], but 'glory' is not literal;54 even as R. Johanan called his garments 'my honourers.' R. Eleazar said: 'Beneath his glory' is literal, as the burning of the sons of Aaron: just as there the burning of the soul [is meant], the body remaining intact, so here too.55
A Tanna taught in the name of R. Joshua b. Karha: Pharaoh, who personally blasphemed, was punished by the Holy One, blessed be He, in Person; Sennacherib, who blasphemed
Sanhedrin 94bthrough an agent,1 was punished by the Holy One, blessed be He, through an agent.2 [Thus:] Pharaoh, of whom it is written, [And Pharaoh said,] Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?3 was punished by the Holy One, blessed be He, in Person, as it is written, And4 the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea;5 and it is also written, Thou didst walk through the sea with thine horses.6 But Sennacherib, of whom it is written, By thy messengers hast thou reproached the Lord,7 was punished by the Holy One, blessed be He, through an angel, as it is said, And the angel of the Lord went out, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians an hundred fourscore and five thousand.8
R. Hanina b. Papa opposed [two verses]: It is written, [I will enter the height of his border;9 but elsewhere it is written, [I will enter into] the lodgings of his borders!3 — That wicked man said: First will I destroy [His] nether abode [sc. the Temple on earth], and then the upper.10
R. Joshua b. Levi said: What is meant by Am I now come up without the Lord against this place to destroy it? The Lord said to me, Go up against this land, and destroy it.11 How so?12 He had heard the prophet declare, Forasmuch as this people refuseth the waters of Shiloah that go softly, and rejoice in Rezin and Ramaliah's son.13 R. Joseph said: But for the Targum14 of this verse, I would not know its meaning: Because this people have wearied of the Davidic dynasty, which rules them with gentleness like the waters of Shiloah which flow tranquilly, and have set their desire upon Rezin and the son of Ramaliah.
R. Johanan said: What is meant by, The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just?15 'The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked' refers to Pekah the son of Ramaliah, who ate forty se'ahs of young birds as a [mere] dessert;16 'but he blesseth the habitation of the just' applies to Hezekiah, king of Judah, who ate [but] a litra of vegetables for his [entire] meal.)17
Now therefore, behold, the Lord bringeth up upon them the waters of the river, strong and many, even the king of Assyria: and all his glory.18 And it is further written, And he shall pass through Judah; he shall overflow and go over, he shall reach even to the neck.19 Then if so, why was he [Sennacherib] punished? — The prophet prophesied with respect to the Ten Tribes, whereas he set his face against the whole of Jerusalem. [Thereupon] the prophet came and said to him, For the wearied is not for the oppressor.20 R. Eleazar b. Berechiah said: [This means], the people that is tired out by [intensive study of] the Torah will not be delivered into the hands of her oppressor.
What is meant by, When aforetime the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali did lighten [its burden], but in later times it was made heavy by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilea of the nations?21 — It is not as the early generations,22 who rejected23 the yoke of the Torah; but as for the latter generations24 who strengthened25 the yoke of the Torah upon themselves and are therefore worthy of having a miracle wrought for them, like those who passed over the [Red] Sea and the Jordan — should he [Sennacherib] repent [of his attack upon Jerusalem], 'tis well; but if not, I will render him the butt of the nations' scorn.26
After these things, and the truth thereof, Sennacherib, king of Assyria, came and entered into Judah, and encamped against the fenced cities, and thought to win them for himself.27 Is such a reward meet for such a gift?28 But what is meant by, 'After these things and the truth thereof'? — Rabina said: After the Holy One, blessed be He, had anticipated [events] by an oath.29 For he reasoned thus: If I say to Hezekiah, 'I will bring Sennacherib and deliver him into thy hands', he will reply, 'I require neither [the ultimate victory over] him nor the [preceding] terror'; therefore the Holy One, blessed be He, forestalled him by swearing that he would bring him, as it is written, the Lord of Hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand: That I will break the Assyrian in my land, and upon my mountains tread him under foot: then shall his yoke depart from off them, and his burden depart front off their shoulders.30 R. Johanan said: The Holy one, blessed be he, said thus: 'Let Sennacherib and his army31 come and be a crib for Hezekiah and his army.'32
And it shall come to pass in that day, that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulders, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the oil.33 R. Isaac, the Smith, said: [This means,] the yoke of Sennacherib shall be destroyed on account of the oil of Hezekiah, which burnt in the synagogues and schools. What did he do? — He planted a sword by the door of the schoolhouse and proclaimed, 'He who will not study the Torah will be pierced with the sword.' Search was made from Dan unto Beer Sheba, and no ignoramus was found; from Gabbath34 unto Antipris,35 and no boy or girl, man or woman was found who was not thoroughly versed in the laws of cleanliness and uncleanliness.36 And concerning that generation it is said, And it shall come to pass in that day, that a man shall nourish a young cow, and two sheep;37 and it is further said, And it shall come to pass on that day, that every place shall be, where there were a thousand vines at a thousand silverlings, it shall even be for briers and thorns:38 though a thousand vines be worth a thousand silverlings, yet shall it be for briers and thorns.39
And your spoil shall be gathered like the gathering of a caterpillar.40 The prophet said unto Israel: 'Gather your spoil.' Thereupon they questioned him, 'To take it as our own booty, or to divide it?'41 'Like the gathering of a caterpillar', replied he: just as caterpillars gather, each one for itself, so take your spoil, each one for himself. 'But', objected they, 'the wealth of the Ten tribes is mixed up therein.' He answered, 'As the watering of pools doth he water it:'42 just as pools purify the unclean,43 so are the possessions of Israel, which having fallen into the hands of heathens,44 become clean [i.e., legitimate].45
R. Huna said: That wicked man46 made ten marches on that day, as it is written, [i] He is come to Aiath; [ii] he is passed at Migron; [iii] at Michmash he hath laid up his carriages; [iv] they are gone over the passage; [v] they have taken up their lodgings at Geba; [vi] Ramah is afraid; [vii] Gibeah of Saul is fled. [viii] Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim, [ix] cause it to be heard unto Laish, [x] O poor Anathoth. [xi] Madmenah is removed; [xii] the inhabitants of Gebim gather themselves to flee.47 But these are more [than ten]! Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim was said by the prophet to the people of Israel: Lift up thy voice, O daughter of Gallim, thou daughter of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who performed good deeds as the waves48 of the sea [in multitude]. Cause it to be heard unto Laish: Fear not this man, but be in dread of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, who is likened to a lion, as it is written, The Lion [sc. Nebuchadnezzar] is come up from his thicket.49 What is meant by
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