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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 98a

Kings shall see and arise, princes also shall worship?1  R. Eliezer countered, But is it not written, if thou wilt return,2  O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me?3  R. Joshua answered, But it is elsewhere written, And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and swore by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times and a half' and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.4  At this R. Eliezer remained silent.

R. Abba also said: There can be no more manifest [sign of] redemption than this: viz., what is said, But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel, for they are at hand to come.5  R. Eleazar said: Than this too, as it is written, For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction.6  What is meant by, 'neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction?' — Rab said: Even for scholars, who are promised peace,7  as it is written, Great peace have they which love thy law,8  'There [shall] be no peace on account of the affliction.' Samuel said, 'Until all prices are equal.'9

R. Hanina said: The Son of David will not come until a fish is sought for an invalid and cannot be procured, as it is written, Then will I make their waters deep, and cause their rivers to run like oil;10  whilst it is written,11  in that day will I cause the horn of the house of Israel to bud forth.12

R. Hama b. Hanina said: The son of David will not come until even the pettiest kingdom ceases [to have power] over Israel,13  as it is written, He shall both cut off the sprigs14  with pruning hooks, and take away and cut down the branches;15  and this is followed by, in that time shall the present be brought unto the Lord of hosts of a people that is scattered and peeled.16

Ze'iri said in R. Hanina's name: The son of David will not come until there are no conceited men in Israel, as it is written, For then I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride:17  which is followed by, I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall take refuge in the name of the Lord.18

R. Simlai said in the name of R. Eleazar, son of R. Simeon: The son of David will not come until all judges and officers are gone from Israel, as it is written, And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross and take away all thy tin: And I will restore thy judges as at first.19

'Ulla said: Jerusalem shall be redeemed only by righteousness,20  as it is written, Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.21

R. Papa said: When the haughty cease to exist [in Israel] the magi22  shall cease [among the Persians]; when the judges cease to exist [in Israel], the chiliarchi23  shall cease likewise. Now, 'when the haughty cease to exist, the magi shall also cease,' as it is written, And I will purely purge away thy haughty ones24  and take away all thy tin.25  'When the judges cease to exist, the chiliarchi shall cease likewise, as it is written, The Lord hath taken away thy judgments, he hath cast out thine enemy.26

R. Johanan said: When you see a generation ever dwindling, hope for him [the Messiah], as it is written, And the afflicted people thou wilt save.27  R. Johanan said: When thou seest a generation overwhelmed by many troubles as by a river, await him, as it is written, when the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him;28  which is followed by, And the Redeemer shall come to Zion.29

R. Johanan also said: The son of David will come only in a generation that is either altogether righteous or altogether wicked. 'in a generation that is altogether righteous,' — as it is written, Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever.30  'Or altogether wicked,' — as it is written, And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor;31  and it is [elsewhere] written, For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it.32

R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua b. Levi pointed out a contradiction. it is written, in its time [will the Messiah come], whilst it is also written, I [the Lord] will hasten it!33  — if they are worthy, I will hasten it: if not, [he will come] at the due time. R. Alexandri said: R. Joshua opposed two verses: it is written, And behold, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven34  whilst [elsewhere] it is written, [behold, thy king cometh unto thee … ] lowly, and riding upon an ass!35  — if they are meritorious, [he will come] with the clouds of heaven;36  if not, lowly and riding upon an ass. King Shapur [I] said to Samuel, 'Ye maintain that the Messiah will come upon an ass: I will rather send him a white horse of mine.'37  He replied, 'Have you a hundred-hued steed?'38

R. Joshua b. Levi met Elijah standing by the entrance of R. Simeon b. Yohai's tomb. He asked him: 'Have I a portion in the world to come?' He replied, 'if this Master desires it.'39  R. Joshua b. Levi said, 'I saw two, but heard the voice of a third.'40  He then asked him, 'When will the Messiah come?' — 'Go and ask him himself,' was his reply. 'Where is he sitting?' — 'At the entrance.'41  And by what sign may I recognise him?' — 'He is sitting among the poor lepers: all of them untie [them]42  all at once, and rebandage them together,43  whereas he unties and rebandages each separately, [before treating the next], thinking, should I be wanted, [it being time for my appearance as the Messiah] I must not be delayed [through having to bandage a number of sores].' So he went to him and greeted him, saying, 'peace upon thee, Master and Teacher.' 'peace upon thee, O son of Levi,' he replied. 'When wilt thou come Master?' asked he, 'To-day', was his answer. On his returning to Elijah, the latter enquired, 'What did he say to thee?' — 'peace Upon thee, O son of Levi,' he answered. Thereupon he [Elijah] observed, 'He thereby assured thee and thy father of [a portion in] the world to come.' 'He spoke falsely to me,' he rejoined, 'stating that he would come to-day, but has not.' He [Elijah] answered him, 'This is what he said to thee, To-day, if ye will hear his voice.'44

The disciples of R. Jose b. Kisma asked him, 'When will the Messiah come?' — He answered, 'I fear lest ye demand a sign of me [that my answer is correct].' They assured him, 'We will demand no sign of you.' So he answered them, 'When this gate45  falls down, is rebuilt, falls again, and is again rebuilt, and then falls a third time, before it can be rebuilt the son of David will come.' They said to him, 'Master, give us a sign.' He protested, 'Did ye not assure me that ye would not demand a sign?' They replied, 'Even so, [we desire one].' He said to them. 'if so, let the waters of the grotto of Paneas turn into blood;' and they turned into blood. When he lay dying he said to them, 'place my coffin deep [in the earth],

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. ibid. XLIX, 7: 'to him whom man despiseth etc.' implies that he is still an unrepentant sinner (Rashi), or that their prostration in itself will bring about the redemption (Yad Ramah).
  2. I.e., to thy land.
  3. Jer. IV, 1.
  4. Dan. XII, 7, thus proving that Messiah's coming is dependant only upon the utter prostration of Israel, not his repentance.
  5. Ezek. XXXVI, 8. When Palestine becomes so very fertile, Messiah's advent is near, and there can be no clearer sign than this (Rashi).
  6. Zech. VIII, 10; I.e., when there is no money left, and troubles abound everywhere. Cf. supra 'until the perutah ceases from the purse.'
  7. Lit., 'concerning whom peace is written.'
  8. Ps. CXIX, 165.
  9. This is a difficult passage. Rashi explains it as meaning either that the prices of all commodities, e.g., wheat, wine, oil etc. shall be alike, or that all commodities shall be equally dear. But it is difficult to see how this explains' neither was there any peace etc. Maharsha therefore connects this verse 'to him that went out or came in' with Ezek. XLVI, 9: But when the people of the land shall come before the Lord in the solemn feasts, he that entereth in by the way of the north gate to worship shall go out by the way of the south gate; and he that entereth by the way of the south gate shall go forth by the way of the north gate … Accordingly he interprets: until all gates are alike, i.e., all people, whether entering or leaving the Temple — an idiom denoting 'without exception' — will suffer.
  10. Ezek. XXXII, 14. When an oily film covers the water, fish cannot be caught-an anticipation of the havoc to sea life wrought in modern times by oil-burning vessels?
  11. [in the same connection, dealing with the destruction of Egypt (Maharsha).]
  12. Ibid. XXIX, 21.
  13. [So Maharsha. Rashi renders: 'until even the pettiest rule ceases among Israel' — i.e., Israel will be deprived of all semblance of power.]
  14. Metaphorical for 'petty kingdoms.'
  15. Isa. XVIII, 5.
  16. Ibid. 7.
  17. Zeph. III, 11.
  18. Ibid. 12: i.e., for them shall the redeemer come.
  19. Isa. I, 25f: this proves that they must first have been removed.
  20. I.e., through the exercise of charity.
  21. Ibid. 27.
  22. [The Guebres who were responsible for much of the suffering of the Jews under the Sassanians, v. supra p. 504, n. 6.]
  23. [H] [Pers. Wezirpat, a ruler, Funk, Schwarz Festschrift, p. 432;] the name of a class of oppressive Persian officers.
  24. [H] from [H], 'great', 'haughty'.
  25. Metaphorically applied to the magi, as being 'a cheap metal.'
  26. Zeph. III, 15.
  27. II Sam. XXII, 28.
  28. Isa. LIX, 19.
  29. Ibid. 20.
  30. Ibid. LX, 21.
  31. Ibid. LIX, 16.
  32. Ibid. XLVIII, 11.
  33. Ibid. LX, 22: The verse reads, I the Lord will hasten it in its time. The two phrases are contradictory, since 'hasten it' implies before its proper time.
  34. Dan. VII, 13.
  35. Zech. IX, 7.
  36. 'Swiftly' (Rashi).
  37. This is more fitting.
  38. [This jest is explained by Krochmal, (Hechalutz, I, p. 83) as an overt invitation to the Jews to help Shapur in his struggle with the Romans.]
  39. He referred to the Shechinah, which was with them (Rashi). Maharsha renders: when thou art worthy thereof.
  40. I.e., he saw only himself and Elijah there, but heard a third voice — that of the Shechinah.
  41. Cur. edd. read ' … of the town:' The Wilna Gaon deletes this and substitutes 'of Rome.'
  42. The bandages of their sores for dressing.
  43. I.e., if they have many leprous sores, they first take off all the bandages, and treat each sore, then replace them together.
  44. Ps. XCV, 7, thus he made his coming conditional-the condition was unfulfilled.
  45. [The gate of Caesarea Philippi, the home of R. Jose. Its fall would be a symbol of the destruction of the Roman power by the Parthians. Bacher, AT, I, p. 402.]
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Sanhedrin 98b

for there is not one palm-tree in Babylon to which a Persian horse will not be tethered, nor one coffin in Palestine out of which a Median horse will not eat straw.'1

Rab said: The son of David will not come until the [Roman] power enfolds Israel2  for nine months, as it is written, Therefore will he give them up, until the time that she which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his brethren shall return unto the children of Israel.3

'Ulla said; Let him [The Messiah] come, but let me not see him.4

Rabbah said likewise: Let him come, but let me not see him. R. Joseph said: Let him come, and may I be worthy of sitting in the shadow of his ass's saddle.5  Abaye enquired of Rabbah: 'What is your reason [for not wishing to see him]? Shall we say, because of the birth pangs [preceding the advent] of the Messiah?6  But it has been taught, R. Eleazar's disciples asked him: 'What must a man do to be spared the pangs of the Messiah?' [He answered,] 'Let him engage in study and benevolence; and you Master do both.' He replied: '[I fear] lest sin cause it,7  in accordance with [the teaching of] R. Jacob b. Idi, who opposed [two verses] [viz.,] it is written, And, Behold, I am with thee, and 'will guard thee in all places whither thou goest:8  but it is written, Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed'9  — He was afraid that sin might cause [the nullification of God's promise]. Even as it was taught, Till thy people pass over, O Lord.'10  this refers to the first entry [into Palestine]; till thy people pass over, which thou hast purchased:11  this refers to their second entry. Hence you may reason: The Israelites were as worthy of a miracle being wrought for them at the second entry as at the first, but that sin caused it [not to happen].

R. Johanan said likewise: Let him come, and let me not see him. Resh Lakish said to him: Why so? Shall we say, because it is written, As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him,' or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him?12  But come, and I will shew you its like even in this world. When one goes out into the field and meets a bailiff,13  it is as though he had met a lion. When he enters the town, and is accosted by a tax-collector, it is as though he had met a bear. On entering his house and finding his sons and daughters in the throes of hunger, it is as though he were bitten by a serpent!14  — But [his unwillingness to see the Messiah] is because it is written, Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? Wherefore do I see every man [geber]15  with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness?16  What is meant by 'wherefore do I see every geber?' — Raba b. Isaac said in Rab's name: it refers to Him to whom all geburah17


Dilling Exhibit 100
    [strength] belongs.18  And what is the meaning of 'and all faces are turned into paleness?' — R. Johanan said: [This refers to God's] heavenly family [I.e., the angels] and his earthly family [I.e., Israel,] when God says, These [the Gentiles] are my handiwork, and so are these [the Jews]; how shall I destroy the former on account of the latter?19  R. Papa said: Thus men say, 'When the ox runs and falls, the horse is put into his stall.'20

R. Giddal said in Rab's name: The Jews are destined to eat [their fill] in the days of the Messiah.21  R. Joseph demurred: is this not obvious; who else then should eat — Hilek and Bilek?22  — This was said in opposition to R. Hillel, who maintained that there will be no Messiah for Israel, since they have already enjoyed him during the reign of Hezekiah.23

Rab said: The world was created only on David's account .24  Samuel said: On Moses account;25  R. Johanan said: For the sake of the Messiah. What is his [the Messiah's] name? — The School of R. Shila said: His name is Shiloh, for it is written, until Shiloh come.26  The School of R. Yannai said: His name is Yinnon, for it is written, His name shall endure for ever:27  e'er the sun was, his name is Yinnon.28  The School of R. Haninah maintained: His name is Haninah, as it is written, Where I will not give you Haninah.29  Others say: His name is Menahem the son of Hezekiah, for it is written, Because Menahem ['the comforter'], that would relieve my soul,


Dilling Exhibit 101
    is far.30  The Rabbis said: His name is 'the leper scholar,' as it is written, Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him a leper, smitten of God, and afflicted.31

R. Nahman said: if he [the Messiah] is of those living [to day], it might be one like myself, as it is written, And their nobles shall be of themselves, and their governors shall proceed from the midst of them.32  Rab said: if he is of the living, it would be our holy Master;33  if of the dead, it would have been Daniel the most desirable man.34  Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The Holy One, blessed be He, will raise up another David for us,35  as it is written, But they shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them:36  not 'I raised up', but 'I will raise up' is said. R. Papa said to Abaye: But it is written, And my servant David shall be their prince [nasi] for ever?37  — E.g., an emperor and a viceroy.38

R. Simlai expounded: What is meant by, Woe unto you, that desire the day of the Lord! To what end is it for you? The day of the Lord is darkness, and not light?39  This may be compared to a cock and a bat who were hopefully waiting for the light [i.e., dawn]. The cock said to the bat, 'I look forward to the light, because I have sight; but of what use is the light to thee?'40

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. This was a forecast of the future. Babylon and Palestine would be overrun with Persians, Medes and Parthians and their horses would dig up the dead, whose coffins would serve as cribs.
  2. I.e., the whole world in which Israel is scattered.
  3. Micah V, 2: 'therefore will he give them up' is interpreted as meaning to a foreign — viz., the Roman — power, and the duration of their servitude is fixed by 'until the time etc.' i.e., nine months, the period of pregnancy.
  4. V. n. 7.
  5. [Following the reading in Yalkut (v. Levy,) [H]. Our texts read: [H], 'dung'.]
  6. These troubles are generally referred to as birth pangs, being the travail which precedes the birth of a new era.
  7. That sin may neutralise the other two, and so I will suffer after all.
  8. Gen. XXVIII, 15; spoken by God to Jacob.
  9. Ibid. XXXII, 8: in view of God's promise, why did he fear?
  10. Ex. XV, 16.
  11. Ibid.
  12. Amos V, 19.
  13. Who contests his title to the field — (Jast.). Rashi translates: an official surveyor, who fixes the boundary lines of the different owners, and thus may increase or: limit one's property.
  14. I.e., we experience the same successive troubles even now, without the Messiah coming: why then should you be afraid of it?
  15. [H].
  16. Jer. XXX, 6.
  17. [H].
  18. I.e., the Almighty himself bewails Israel in the power of the Gentile.
  19. To avenge the wrongs suffered by the Jews. Because the suffering would be so great that even the Almighty would lament it, R. Johanan desired to be spared the Messiah's coming.
  20. The horse is made to replace it, but when the ox recovers, it is difficult to remove the horse. So the Israelites, having fallen, were replaced in power by the Gentiles: but on their recovery, it will be difficult to remove the Gentiles from their position without inflicting much suffering.
  21. I.e., the years of plenty which the Messiah will usher in will be enjoyed by the Israelites.'
  22. Two fictitious names — 'any Tom, Dick and Harry' — shall these years be enjoyed indiscriminately by anyone?
  23. Therefore R. Giddal puts it in the future.
  24. That he might sing hymns and psalms to God.
  25. That he might receive the Torah.
  26. Gen. XLIX, 10.
  27. E.V. 'shall be continued'.
  28. Ps. LXXII, 17.
  29. Jer. XVI, 13. Thus each School evinced intense admiration of its teacher in naming the Messiah after him by a play on words.
  30. Lam. I, 16.
  31. Isa. LIII, 4.
  32. Jer. XXX, 21: this description fitted R. Nahman, who, as the son-in-law of the Resh Galutha, enjoyed great power and prestige.
  33. I.e., R. Judah the Nasi, generally called Rabbi par excellence.
  34. [Preferably, if of the living, our holy Master (would be the type) of the Messiah; if of the dead, Daniel.]
  35. Lit., 'for them'.
  36. Ibid. XXX, 9.
  37. Ezek. XXXVII, 25: prince (nasi) is a lower title than king.
  38. The second David shall be the king, and the former David shall be his viceroy.
  39. Amos V, 18.
  40. Thus Israel should hope for the redemption, because it will be a day of light to them: but why should the Gentiles, seeing that for them it will be a day of darkness?
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