Michael Levi Rodkinson.

New edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 17) online

. (page 12 of 13)
Online LibraryMichael Levi RodkinsonNew edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 17) → online text (page 12 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

ever, first hast asked for my proper name, and now thou sayest
to me [Ex. v. 23] : " Thou hast in nowise saved thy people."
And therefore [ibid. vi. i] : " Nozv shalt thou see what I will do
to Pharaoh," but thou wilst not live to see the war with the
thirty-one kings in the time of Joshua.

It reads [ibid, xxxiv. 8] : " And Moses made haste, and
bowed his head." What had he seen that he bowed himself?
R. Hanina b. Gamla said : He saw the words " long-sufTering."
And the rabbis say: He saw the word "truth." There is a
Boraitha in accordance with him, who said he had seen long-
suffering, viz., When Moses ascended to heaven, he found the
Holy One, blessed be He, writing the words " long-sufTering."
And he said before Him : Lord of the Universe, does this mean
long-sufifering for the righteous ones? And he was answered:
Even for the wicked. And to Moses' exclamation: May the
wicked be lost ! he answered : In the future thou wilst see
that my previous words will be necessary for thee. There-
after when Israel sinned, the Lord said to Moses : Didst thou
not say long-sufifering for the righteous? And Moses said be-
fore Him : Lord of the Universe, but hast Thou not said to me
" also to the wicked "? And to this it is written [Num. xiv. 17] :
" And now, I beseech thee, let the greatness of the power of
the Lord be made manifest as TJwu hast spoken."

R. Hagga, ascending the steps of the school of Rabba
b. Shila, heard a child saying [Ps. xciii. 5] : " Thy testimonies
are exceedingly steadfast. In thy house abideth holiness, O
Lord, to the utmost length of days." And immediately he
began [ibid. xc. i] : "A prayer of Moses." And he then


said : I infer from this that Moses has seen the words " long-

R. Elazar, in the name of R. Hanina, said, etc. (Here is re-
peated from Tract Megilla, p. 38, Hne 23 to p. 39, Hne 3 : How-
ever, here is some change at the end of the paragraph which
is unimportant.)

* It reads [Isa. viii. 12] : " Call ye not a conspiracy all that
this people may call a conspiracy." What conspiracy does it
mean? The conspiracy of Shebna, as his college had thirteen
great men, and Hiskia's college had only eleven. When San-
herib came to attack Jerusalem, Shebna wrote a note that he
and his society are wilHng to make peace, however Hiskia and
his society are not. And this note he put in an arrow and shot
it into the camp of Sanherib, as it reads [Ps. xi. 2] : " For lo,
the wicked bend their bow, they arrange their arrow upon the
string." And Hiskia was afraid, that perhaps the inclination
of Heaven will be towards the majority, whose desire was to
deliver themselves to the enemy. The prophet then came to
him, saying: " Call ye not a conspiracy," etc., i.e., this conspir-
acy is wicked, and a conspiracy of the wicked is not counted.
The same Shebna wanted also to hew out a cave for a grave
for himself among the kings of David's house, and this is what
the prophet said to him [ibid., ibid. 16 and 17] : " What hast
thou here ? and whom hast thou here, that thou hast hewn out
for thyself here a sepulchre? . . . Behold, the Lord will
thrust thee about with a mighty throw. Oh, man!'' Said Rabh :
From this is to be inferred that travelling is harder for a man
than for a woman, as, from the expression of the last word of
this verse, R. Jose b. Hanina infers that Shebna was punished
with leprosy, as the same expression is to be found concerning
leprosy [Lev. xiii. 45].

" He will roll thee up as a bundle, and (toss thee) like a
ball into a country of ample space." There is a Boraitha: His
(Shebna's) desire was to disgrace the house of his master, and
therefore his own honor was turned over to disgrace, for when
he came out to Sanherib with his society, Gabriel shut the door
in the face of his society. And when Sanherib questioned him :
Where is thy society? he answered: They have retracted.
Exclaimed Sanherib: I see thou hast ridiculed us. And they
bored holes in his heels, tied them to the tails of their horses,
and dragged his body over thorns.

* Transferred from 26a. See also footnote, p. 75.


In the interpretation of [Ps. xi. 3] : " For (if) the founda-
tions be torn down, what would the upright do? " R. Jehudah
and R. Eina differ. According to one it means, if his kin and his
association would be destroyed, how would the promise of the
Lord be? And according to the other, should the Temple be
destroyed by Sanherib, in accordance with the advice of Sheb-
na, what would become of the wonderful miracles of the Lord?
And according to Ula.this passage is to be explained negatively.
If the thoughts of that wicked (Shebna) would not have been
destroyed, what would have become of the upright, Hiskia?
It is correct, the explanation of Ula, and of him who explains
the word " foundation " to mean the Temple, as according to
the former, it means the previous verse (2) which was the basis
of his thoughts. And also concerning the Temple we found in
Mishna, which states that a stone was placed in the Temple
from the time of the first prophets, with the name shethiha
(foundation). But he who explains the passage to mean Hiskia
and his society, where is to be found that by the word foun-
dation the upright are meant? [I Sam. ii. 8] : " For the Lord's
are the pillars of the earth, on which he hath set the world,"
" Pillars " are the upright, " on which he hath set " — the foun-

*The rabbis taught: Man was created on the eve of Sab-
bath. And why? The Minnim shall not say that he was a
partner to the Lord, in the creation of the world. Another ex-
planation is, if a man becomes haughty it may be said to him :
At the time of creation even a fly was created before thou
wert. Still another explanation is that his first act should be
meritorious, in keeping the Sabbath, and also he shall partake
of the Sabbath meal immediately. This is similar to a human
king who built a palace, accomplished it, prepared a banquet
and thereafter invited guests, as it reads [Prov. ix. 1-4] :
"Wisdom hath built her house; she hath hewn out her seven
pillars. She hath killed her cattle; she hath mingled her wine;
she hath also set in order her table. She hath sent forth her
maidens; she invited (her guests) upon the top of the highest
places of the town." " Wisdom hath built her house " — it is
one of the divine affairs of the Holy One, blessed be He, who
has created the whole world with wisdom. " Seven pillars " —
the seven days of the creation. " Killed her cattle," etc. —

* Transferred from 38^. See footnote at the end of Chap. IV.


means the seas, the rivers, and all what was necessary for the
world, " She sent forth her maidens " — Adam and Eve upon
the top of the highest places.

Rabba b. b. Hana propounded a contradiction from ibid. 3,
which reads, " on the top of the height," to ibid. (14), on the
chair in the hig^h places. And he himself answered: First
they were placed on the top, and thereafter on a chair, " Void
of sense," the Holy One, blessed be He, said: Who made a
fool of Adam the first? The woman who told him, etc., as it
reads [ibid. vi. 32] : " Whoso committed adultery with a woman
lacketh sense." There is a Boraitha: R. Mair used to say:
From the whole world was gathered the earth, from which
Adam the first was created, as it reads [Ps. cxxxix. 16] : " My
undeveloped substance did thy eyes see," R. Oshia said in the
name of Rabh : The body of Adam the first was taken from
Babylon, his head from Palestine, and all other members, hands,
feet, etc., from all other countries, and the earth for his rump,
said R. Aha, was taken from Akra of Agma. R. Johanan b.
Hanina said: A day consisted of twelve hours, the first hour
the earth for his creation was gathered, the second hour it be-
came an unformed body, and in the third his limbs were shaped;
in the fourth the soul entered the body, in the fifth he arose on
his feet, in the sixth he named all his beasts and animals, in the
seventh Eve was brought to him, in the eighth they went to
bed, two persons, and four persons came out of it; in the ninth
he was commanded not to eat of the tree, in the tenth he sinned,
in the eleventh he was tried, and in the twelfth he was driven
out of the Garden of Eden, as it reads [Ps. xlix. 13] : "And
Adam though in his splendor endureth not."

R. Jehudah said in the name of Rabh: At the time the
Holy One, blessed be He, was about to create a man. He created
a coetus of angels, and said to them: Would ye advise me to
create a man? And they asked Him : What will be his deeds?
And He related before them such and such. They explained
before Him: Lord of the Universe, what is the mortal, that
Thou rememberest him, and the son of men, that Thou thinkest
of him? [Ps. vii. 5]. He then put His little finger among
them and they were all burnt. And the same was with the
second coetus. The third one, however, said before Him: O
Creator of the world ! the first angels who protested, did they
effect ? The whole world is Thine, and all what it is pleased be-
fore Thee Thou mayest do. Thereafter at the time of the gen-


eration of the flood and the generation of dispersion whose
deeds were criminal, the same angels said before Him : Creator
of the Universe, were not the first angels right with their
protest ? And He answered : " And even unto old age I am
the same, and even unto the time of hoary hairs will I hear "
[Isa. xlvi. 4].

R. Jehudah said again in the name of the same authority:
Adam the first was from one end of the world to the other, as it
reads [Deut. iv. 32] : " Since the day that God created Adam
upon the earth, and from the one end of the heavens unto the
other end." After he had sinned, the Holy One, blessed be
He, laid His hand upon him and reduced him [Ps. cxxxix, 5].
" Behind and before hast Thou hedged me in, and Thou placest
upon me Thy hand." R. Elazar said : Adam the first was tall
from the earth to the sky, as the above cited verse : " The day
Adam was created upon the earth and to one end of the heaven."
And when he sinned He laid His hand upon him, and dimin-
ished him, as the cited verse [Ps. cxxxix.] reads.

R. Jehudah said again in the name of Rabh: Adam the
first spoke with the Aramaic language, as [ibid., ibid. 17] :
" And how precious are unto me thy thoughts," and the terms
in the original Psalm are Aramaic. And this is what Resh
Lakish said: It reads [Gen. v. i] : "This is the book of the
generation of Adam." Infer from this that the Holy One,
blessed be He, showed to Adam every generation with its
scholars, every generation with its lecturers. And when Adam
saw the generation of R. Aqiba, he was pleased with his wis-
dom, but was dejected seeing his death, and said : " How
precious are unto me thy thoughts."

The same said again in the name of the same authority:
The Minnim* of this generation say that Adam the first was
also of their sect. And they infer it from [Gen. iii. 9] : " And
the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him : Where art
thou? " i.e., to what is thy heart inclined?

Said R. Johanan : Every place where the Minnim gave
their wrong interpretation, the answer of annulling it is to be
found in the same place — e.g., they claim from [Gen. i. 26] :
" Let us make man." Hence it is in plural. However, in
[ibid. 27] it reads: " And God created man in his image " (sin-
gular). [Ibid. xi. 7]: "Let us go down" (plural); however,

* In accordance with the commentary of Hananel.


[ibid., ibid. 5] : "And the Lord came down" (singular). [Ibid.
XXXV. 7] : " And there God appeared " (the term in Hebrew is
plural); however [ibid., ibid. 3]: "Unto the Lord who an-
swered me " (singular). [Deut. iv. 7] : " For what great na-
tion is there that hath gods so nigh unto it?" However, it
reads farther on, " as is the Lord our God every time we call
upon him." [H Lam. vii. 23] : " Which God went? " (the term
in Hebrew is plural). However [Dan. vii. 9] : "I was look-
ing down until chairs were set down, and the Ancient of days
seated himself " (singular). But why are all the above-men-
tioned written in plural? This is in accordance with R. Jo-
hanan, who said elsewhere that the Holy One, blessed be He,
does not do anything until he consults the heavenly house-
hold, as it reads [ibid. iv. 14] : " Through the resolve of the
angels is this decree, and by the order of the holy ones is this
decision." However, this answer is for all the plurals men-
tioned, except the last one, " the chairs." Why are they in
plural? One for Him and one for David. So R. Aqiba in a
Boraitha. Said R. Elazar b. Azaryah to him : Aqiba, how do
you dare to make the Shekhina common? It means one chair
for judgment and one for mercy. Did Aqiba accept this, or
not? Come and hear the following Boraitha: One for judg-
ment and one for mercy. So R. Aqiba. Said R. Elazar b.
Azaryah to him: Aqiba, what hast thou to do with Haggada?
Give thy attention to Negain and Ohaloth. It means one for
a chair to sit upon and one for a footstool.

Said R. Na'hman. He who knows to give a right answer
to the Minnim like R. Aidith may discuss with them, but he
who is not able to do so, it is better for him that he discuss not
with them at all. There was a Min who said to R. Aidith:
It reads [Ex, xxiv. i] : " Come up unto the Lord." It ought
to be, " Come up to me." (And when God said to him: Come
up to the Lord, there must be one lord more?) And he an-
swered : That is the angel Mattatron (name of the chief of the
angels) about whom ibid, xxiii. 20 speaks, as he bears the name
of his master [ibid., ibid. 21] : " Because my name is in him."
If so, rejoined the Min, let us worship him. It reads, ibid.,
ibid., ibid., al tamer be, and this term means also " exchange,"
Hence it means thou shalt not exchange him for Me.

Said the Min again : But does it not read " he will not
pardon your transgression " ? And Aidith answered : Believe
me, that even as a guide we refused to accept him, as it reads


[ibid, xxxiii. 15] : " If thy presence go not (with us), carry us
not up from here."

A Min asked Ismael b. R. Jose: It reads [Gen. xix. 24] :
" And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone
and fire. From the Lord," etc. From the Lord ! It ought to
be from Him (hence there was one more lord). And a certain
washer said to Rabban Gamahel, Let me answer him. It reads
[Gen. iv. 23] : " And Lemech said unto his wives, Adah and
Zellah, Hear my voice, ye wives of Lemech," etc. Wives of
Lemech! "My wives," it ought to be? You must then say
that so is it customary in the language of the verse, the same is
the case here. And to question of R. Ismael to the washer:
Whence do we know this? he answered: From the lectures
of R. Main As R. Johanan used to say, R. Mair's lectures
consisted always of a third Halakha, a third Haggadah, and the
last third parables. And he said also: From R. Mair's three
hundred fox fables we have only three: (a) [Ezek. xviii. 2]:
" The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the teeth of the chil-
dren have become blunt; " (b) [Lev. xix. 36] : "Just balances,
just weights," and (r) [Prov. xi. 8] : " The righteous is de-
livered out of distress, and the wicked cometh in his stead." *

There was an atheist who said to Rabban Gamaliel: Your
God is a thief, as it reads [Gen. ii. 21] : " Lord God caused a
deep sleep . . . and he slept; and he took one of his ribs."
Said R. Gamaliel's daughter to him : Let me answer him. And
she said to him : Would you assist me to take revenge on a thief

* In the text nothing is mentioned of what the fables were. Rashi, however, ex-
plains it thus : The fox said to the wolf : If you would go in a Jewish yard on the eve
of Sabbath to assist them in the preparation of meals for Sabbath, they would invite
you for their best meal on Sabbath day. And when the wolf was severely beaten
while doing so, he wanted to kill the fox. He, however, told him, this was because
your father in assisting them to prepare their meal, consumed the best of it and
ran away. And to his question : Should I be beaten because of my father ? he
answered: Yea, the fathers have eaten sour grapes, etc. However, if you will follow
me I will show you a place where you can eat to satiation, and he led him to a well
in which two pails were pulled up and down by means of a rope attached to a beam.
And the fox entered in one pail, which dropped down to the bottom. And to the
question of the wolf : For what purpose did you enter the pail? he answered : I see
here meat and cheese which will be sufficient for both of us. And he showed him
the reflection of the moon on the water, which he mistook for a round cheese. And
asking the fox how he can get it, he was told to enter the other pail, which was on
top. And as he was heavier than the fox, the pail with the wolf dropped down and
that of the fox came on the top. And to the cry of the wolf : How can I come out ?
he answered : The righteous is delivered out of distress, etc.


who robbed me this night, by steahng a silver pitcher, however
he left a golden one instead? And he said to her: I would like
that such thief would come to me every day. Then she said :
Was it not better for Adam that one bone was taken from him,
and in its stead was given a woman to him, who shall serve him?
Rejoined the atheist: I mean why stealing; could He not take
it from Adam when he was awake? She then took a piece of
meat, put it in glowing ashes, and when roasted took it out
and gave it to him to eat. To which he said : It is repulsive to
me. Rejoined she: Eve would also have been repulsive to
Adam if he could have seen how she was formed.

The same atheist said to Rabban Gamaliel : I am aware of
what your God is doing now. R. Gamaliel sighed deeply. And
to the question: Why are you singing? he said: I lost every in-
formation of my son who is now in the sea countries. Can
you perhaps assist me by informing me where he is? And
he rejoined: Where shall I know this from? Rejoined Rabban
Gamaliel: You don't know what is in this world, and you
claim to know what is in heaven?

At another time the same said to Rabban GamaHel: It
reads [Ps. cxlvii. 4] : " Who counted the number of the stars,"
etc. What prerogative is this? I also can do this. R. GamaHel
took some grain, put it in a sieve, and while straining told him
to count the grain. And he rejoined: Let the sieve stand and
I will count it. Rejoined R. Gamaliel: The stars are also al-
ways moving. According to others R. Gamaliel answered him :
Can you tell me how many teeth are in your mouth? And he
put his hand in his mouth and began to count them. Rejoined
R. Gamaliel: You are not aware of the number of teeth in
your mouth, and you claim to know how many stars there are
in heaven?

A Min said to R. Gamaliel : He who created the mountains
has not created the wind, as it reads [Amos, iv, 13] : " He that
formed the mountains and created the wind." And he an-
swered : If so, then concerning a man, of whom it reads [Gen.
i. 2'J^, : " And God created," and [ibid. ii. 7] : " And the Lord
God formed," should also mean that he who has formed has
not created, and vka versa. There is in the body of man one
span square, in which two holes are to be found — one in the
nose and one in the ear. It must be also that he who created
one of them did not create the other, as it reads [Ps. xciv. 9] :
" He that hath planted the ear, shall he not hear? Or he that


hath formed the eye, shall he not see ? " And the Min said :
Yea, I am of this opinion. Rejoined Gamaliel : How is it, then,
when death comes? Are both creators reconciled, to kill their
creation together?

A magician said to Rabban Gamaliel : The lower half of
your body is created by ahcrmes (God), but the upper half by
Hermes (Mercury). And he answered: If it is so, why does
then ahernes leave the dirty water coming from the upper half
to pass the lower half?

The Caesar said to R. Tanhum : Let us unite and be a
people of one and the same creed. And he answered: Very
well; but we who are circumcised cannot be like your people.
However, ye are able to be like us if ye will circumcise yourself.
And the Caesar answered: Your answer is right. However,
it is a rule that he who conquers the king must be thrown in the
vivarius to be devoured by the beasts. He was thrown in the
vivarius and was not touched. And there was a Min who said
to the king: They did not devour him, because they were not
hungry. And they then threw him in the vivarius and he was

Another atheist said to R. Gamaliel : You say that upon
every ten Israelites the Shekhina rests. How many Shekhina
have you then? Gamaliel then called the servant of the atheist,
struck him with a whip, saying: Why didst thou leave the
sun enter the house of your master? His master, however,
answered : Every one is pleased with the sun. Rejoined
Gamaliel : The sun, which is only one of the hundredth
millions servants of the Lord, is pleasant to every one, so
much the more the Shekhina of the Holy One, blessed be He,

A Min said to R. Abuhu : Your God is a jester. He com-
mands Ezekiel to lie on his left side and then on his right
side [Ezek. iv. 4-6] : " At the same time a disciple came and
questioned him: What is the reason of the Sabbatic year?"
And Abuhu answered : I will now say something which will be
an answer to both of you. The Holy One, blessed be He, said
to Israel : Work up the earth for six years and release the sev-
enth for the purpose that you shall be aware that the earth is
mine. However, they did not do so, bur sinned, and were ex-
iled. It is custom of a human king if a country has rebelled
against him to kill all of them if he is a tyrant, and to kill half of
them if he is merciful. But if he is full of mercy he chastises


the leaders only; so was it with Ezekiel, the Holy One, blessed
be He, chastised him for the sin of Israel.

There was a Min who said to R. Abuhu: Your God is a
priest, as it reads [Ex. xxv. 2] : " Bring Me a thenimah." Now
when He buried Moses where did He dip Himself? (Took the
legal bath prescribed for him who touches a corpse.) You
cannot say that He did so in the water, as it reads [Isa. xl. 12] :
" Who hath measured in the hollow of his hand the waters."
And he answered (a joke to a joke) : He dipped Himself in
fire, as it reads [ibid. Ixvi. 15]: "For behold, the Lord will
come in fire." And to the question of the Min : Is it legal to
dip in fire? he answered: On the contrary, the principal dipping
is in fire, as it reads [Num. xxxi. 23] : " And whatsoever doth
not come into the fire shall ye cause to go through water."

There was a Min who said to R. Abina: It reads [II Sam.
vii. 2^] : " And who is like thy people, Hke Israel, the only
nation on the earth?" What is your proudness about? Are
you not mingled among other nations, of whom it reads [Isa.
xl. 17] : " All the nations are as naught before him "? And he
answered : A prophet of nations themselves has testified con-
cerning us [Num. xxiii. 9] : "And among the nations it shall
not be reckoned."

R. Elazar propounded a contradiction from [Sam. iii. 25] :
" The Lord is good unto those that hope in him " to [Ps. cxlv.
9] : " The Lord is good to all " ? This question may be an-
swered with the following parable to one who possesses a fruit
garden. When he waters it, he waters all o^ them. And when
he hoes to cover up the roots, he does so only to the best of
them, i.e., when He feeds. He feeds the whole world with dis-
criminating, but to save from trouble He helps only those who
hope in Him.

It reads [I Kings, xxii. 36] : " And there went a rinah (song)
t'hroug'hout the camp." Said R. Aha b. Hanina: This is what
is written [Prov. xi. 10] : " And when the wicked perish there
is rinah," means when Achab, the son of Omri, perisfhed, there
was rinah. Is this so? Is it then pleasant for the Holy One,
blessed be He, the ruin of the wicked? Is it not written [II
Chron. xx. 21] : " As they went out before the armed array and
said: Give thanks unto the Lord; for unto everlasting endureth
His kindness "? And R. Johanan said: Why is it not written
here: " He is good," as [Ps. cxviii. i] : Because the Holy One,
blessed be He, is not rejoicing over the ruin of the wicked, as


R. Samuel b. Na'hman said in the name of R. Jonathan : It reads

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 12

Online LibraryMichael Levi RodkinsonNew edition of the Babylonian Talmud. Original text edited, corrected, formulated, and translated into English (Volume 17) → online text (page 12 of 13)