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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Gittin

Folio 69a

For a cataract he should take a scorpion with stripes of seven colours and dry it out of the sun and mix it with stibium in the proportion of one to two and drop three paint-brushfuls into each eye — not more, lest he should put out his eye. For night blindness1  he should take a string made of white hair and with it tie one of his own legs to the leg of a dog, and children should rattle potsherds behind him saying 'Old dog, stupid cock'. He should also take seven pieces of raw meat from seven houses and put them on the doorpost and [let the dog] eat them on the ashpit of the town. After that he should untie the string and they should say, 'Blindness of A, son of the woman B, leave A, son of the woman B,' and they should blow into the dog's eye. For day blindness he should take seven milts from the insides of animals and roast them in the shard of a blood-letter, and while he sits inside the house another man should sit outside and the blind man should say to him, 'Give me to eat, and the other, the seeing man, should answer, 'Take and eat,' and after he has eaten he should break the shard, as otherwise the blindness may come back. To stop bleeding at the nose he should bring a kohen whose name is Levi and write Levi backwards, or else bring any man and write, I Papi Shila bar Sumki, backwards, or else write thus: Ta'am deli beme kesaf, ta'am deli be-me pegam.2  Or else he can take root of clover and the rope of an old bed and papyrus and saffron and the red part of a palm branch and burn them all together and then take a fleece of wool and weave two threads and steep them in vinegar and roll them in the ashes and put them in his nostrils. Or he can look for a watercourse running from east to west and stand astride over it and pick up some clay with his right hand from under his left leg and with his left hand from under his right leg and twine two threads of wool and rub them in the clay and put them in his nostrils. Or else he can sit under a gutter pipe while they bring water and pour over him saying, 'As these waters stop, so may the blood of A, son of the woman B, stop'. To stop blood coming from the mouth he should [first] be tested with a wheat straw. If the blood sticks, It comes from the lungs and can be cured, but if not it comes from the liver and cannot be cured. Said R. Ammi to R. Ashi: But we have learnt the opposite:3  '[The animal is trefa] if the liver has been removed and nothing of it is left, or if the lung is pierced or defective'?4  — He replied: Since it comes away from his mouth, we assume that the liver has been entirely dissolved [in the lung].5

The Master just said: If it comes from the lung, there is a remedy for it. What is the remedy? Let him take seven handfuls of hashed beets and seven handfuls of mashed leeks and seven handfuls of jujube berry and three handfuls of lentils and a handful of camon and a handful of flax6  and a quantity equal to all these of the ileum of a first-born animal and let him cook the mixture and eat it, washing it down with strong beer made in [the month of] Tebeth.7  For toothache Rabbah b. R. Huna says that he should take the top of a garlic with one stalk only and grind it with oil and salt and

    put it on his thumb nail on the side where the tooth aches and put a rim of dough round it, taking care that it does not touch his flesh, as it may cause leprosy. For swollen glands,8  R. Johanan said that pellitory leaves are as good as mamru9  and the root of pellitory better than mamru, and he should put them in his mouth. This is to prevent it from spreading. To soften it he should take bran that came to the top of the sieve and lentils with the earth still on them and clover and hemlock flower and the bud of cuscuta, and he should put about the size of a nut in his mouth. To make it burst, someone should blow into his throat seeds of unripe dates, through a wheat straw. To make the flesh close he should bring dust from the shadow of a privy and knead it with honey and eat. This is effective. For catarrh10  he should take about the size of a pistachio of gum-ammoniac and about the size of a nut of sweet galbanum and a spoonful of white honey and a Mahuzan natla11  of clear12  wine and boil them up together; when the gum-ammoniac boils, it is all boiled enough. If he cannot manage this, let him take a revi'ith of milk of a white goat

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. [Shabrire, a shaf'el form of [H] 'clear', a euphemism for 'blindness'. In this infliction, ascribed to the demons, a distinction was made between day-shabrire and night-shabrire which is said to correspond with hemeralopia and nyctalopia. V. Preuss, Biblisch-talmudische Medizin, p. 312, and A.Z., (Sonc. ed.) p. 64, n. 4.]
  2. Lit., 'The taste of the bucket in water of silver, the taste of the bucket in water of blemish'.
  3. Hul. 42a.
  4. This would show that if the blood comes from the lungs it is more fatal than from the liver.
  5. And the blood is really from the liver.
  6. [Var. lec. 'spices'].
  7. In the winter when the brew is made strong.
  8. So Rashi. Jast.: 'jaws'.
  9. A kind of herb.
  10. [So Rashi. Preuss (op. cit. p. 198) Pleurisy.]
  11. About a revi'ith (1/4 log).
  12. I.e., not dark.
Tractate List

Gittin 69b

and let it drip on three stalks of carob and stir it with a piece of stem of marjoram; when the stem of marjoram is boiled it is all boiled enough. He can also take the excrement of a white dog and knead it with balsam, but if he can possibly avoid it he should not eat the dog's excrement as it loosens the limbs. For gira1  he should take an arrow of Lilith2  and place it point upwards and pour water on it and drink it. Alternatively he can take water of which a dog has drunk at night, but he must take care that it has not been exposed.3  For [drinking] water which has been exposed let him take an anpak of undiluted wine. For an abscess, an anpak of wine with purple-coloured aloes. For palpitations of the heart he should take three barley-cakes and streak them with liamak4  which has been made less than forty days before, and eat it and wash it down with wine well diluted. Said R. Aha from Difti to Rabina: This will make his heart palpitate all the more! — He replied: I was speaking of heaviness of heart. For palpitations of the heart he should take three cakes of wheat and streak them with honey and eat them and wash them down with strong wine. For pressure of the heart he should take the size of three eggs of mint and an egg of camon and an egg of sesame and eat them. For pain in the stomach he should take three hundred long pepper grains and every day drink a hundred of them in wine. Rabin of Naresh5  used for the daughter of R. Ashi a hundred and fifty of our grains; it cured her. For intestinal worms, an anpak6  of wine with bay leaves. For white intestinal worms he should take eruca seed and tie it in a piece of cloth and soak it in water and drink it, taking care not to swallow the pips, since they may pierce his bowels. For looseness of the bowels, moist polio in water. For constipation, dry polio in water. The mnemonic7  is, 'dry twigs stop the stream'. For swelling of the spleen, let him take seven leeches and dry them in the shade and every day drink two or three in wine. Alternatively he may take the spleen of a she-goat which has not yet had young, and stick it inside the oven and stand by it and say, 'As this spleen dries, so let the spleen of So-and-so son of So-and-so' dry up'. Or again he may dry it between the rows of bricks in a house and repeat these words. Or again he may look out for the corpse of a man who has died on Sabbath and take his hand and put it on the spleen and say, 'As this hand is withered so let the spleen of So-and-so son of So-and-so wither.'8  Or again, he can take a fish and fry it in a smithy and eat it in the water of the smithy9  and wash it down with the water of the smithy. A certain goat which drank from the water of a smithy was found on being killed to have no spleen. Another remedy is to open a barrel of wine expressly for him.10  Said R. Aha the son of Raba to R. Ashi: If he has a barrel of wine, he will not come to consult your honour.11  No; [what you

    should say is that] he should take regularly a bite early in the morning, as this is good for the whole body. For anal worms he should take acacia and aloe juice and white-lead and silver dross12  and an amulet-full of phyllon13  and the excrement of doves and tie it all up in linen rags in the summer or in cotton rags in the winter.14  Alternatively, let him drink strong wine well diluted. For hip disease15  let him take a pot of fish brine and rub it sixty times16  round one hip and sixty times round the other. For stone in the bladder let him take three drops of tar and three drops of leek juice and three drops of clear wine and pour it on the membrum of a man or on the corresponding place in a woman — Alternatively he can take the ear of a bottle and hang it on the membrum of a man or on the breasts of a woman. Or again he can take a purple thread which has been spun by a woman of ill repute or the daughter of a woman of ill repute and hang it on the membrum of a man or the breasts of a woman. Or again he can take a louse from a man and a woman and hang it on the membrum of a man and the corresponding place in a woman; and when he makes water he should do so on dry thorns near the socket of the door, and he should preserve the stone that issues, as it is good for all fevers. For external fever17  he should take three sacks of date stones and three sacks of adra18  leaves and boil each separately while sitting between them and put them in two basins and bring a table and set them on it and bend first over one and then over the other until he becomes thoroughly warmed, and then he should bathe himself in them, and in drinking thereof19  afterwards he should drink only of the water of the adra leaves but not of the date stones, as they cause barrenness. For internal fever he should take seven handfuls of beet from seven beds and boil them with their earth and eat them and drink adra leaves in beer

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Perhaps a kind of fever.
  2. Probably a kind of meteoric stone.
  3. For fear a snake may have injected venom into it.
  4. A Persian sauce of milk.
  5. [Identical with Nars on the canal of the same name, on the East bank of the Euphrates. Obermeyer op. cit. p. 307.]
  6. About a revi'ith.
  7. For remembering when to use the dry and when the moist.
  8. Mentioning his own name and the name of his mother.
  9. Used for cooling the metal.
  10. I.e., he should drink plenty of wine.
  11. The wine he has would protect him from such a disease.
  12. Used for cooling the metal.
  13. A kind of scent often carried by women in a little case attached to their necklaces.
  14. Applying it to the affected part.
  15. [Apparently lumbago. v. Preuss, op. cit. p. 355.]
  16. [A round number, I. e., many times, v. Preuss, loc. cit. n. 5.]
  17. I.e., eruptions.
  18. [A species of cedar, probably Spanish juniper.]
  19. [As is usual after a hot bath, v. Shab. 41a.]
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