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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 113a

But let them be redeemed, for we learnt: If that which was purchased with the [redemption-] money of the second tithe became defiled, it is redeemed.1  — This agrees with R. Judah, who ruled: It must be buried. If so, why particularly [the second tithe] of a condemned city; the same applies to any place in general?2  — But in reality, it refers to undefiled [second tithe], the circumstances being that the barriers of Jerusalem had fallen. And this is in accordance with Raba's dictum. For Raba said: The law of the walls [of Jerusalem], in that it [the second tithe] must be eaten within them, is Biblical; but that they have retaining power,3  is merely Rabbinical. Now, when did the Rabbis decree this? Only as long as the walls exist; but if the walls are gone [having fallen], the decree does not hold good.4

SACRED WRITINGS MUST BE HIDDEN. Our Mishnah does not agree with R. Eliezer. For it was taught, R. Eliezer said: No city containing even a single mezuzah5  can be condemned.6  Why so? Because it says [in reference thereto], and thou shalt burn with fire the city and all the spoil thereof every whit.7  But if it contains a single mezuzah, this is impossible, because it is written, Ye shall not so do unto the Lord your God.8

R. SIMEON SAID: THE HOLY ONE BLESSED BE HE, DECLARED etc. Shall we say that they9  disagree in respect of the dictum of R. Abin in R. Elai's name: For R. Abin said in the name of R. Elai: Wherever you find a general proposition in the form of a positive command and a particular specification in the form of a negative injunction, they are not interpreted as a general proposition followed by a particular specification:10  one Master11  agreeing with Abin's dictum,12  while the other Master13  rejects R. Abin's dictum.14  — No! All accept R. Abin's rule. But here the ground of their dispute is this: the one Master11  maintains that [it shall not be built] 'od [again] implies 'not at all';15  whilst the latter13  holds that 'od implies 'as it was formerly'.16

IT MAY NOT BE REBUILT, BUT MAY BE CONVERTED INTO GARDENS AND ORCHARDS. Our Rabbis taught: If it contained trees already cut down [before the city was condemned], they are forbidden; but if still growing [in the soil], they are permitted.17  But the trees of a different city, whether cut down or growing in the soil, are forbidden. What is alluded to by 'a different city'? — R. Hisda said: Jericho; for it is written, And the city shall be accursed […] to the Lord.18

And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying: Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.19  It has been taught: Neither Jericho with the name of a different town, nor a different town under the name of Jericho. It is written, in his days did Hiel the Bethelite build Jericho: he laid the foundations thereof in Abiram his firstborn, and set up the gates thereof in his youngest son Segub, according to the word of the Lord, which he spoke by Joshua the son of Nun.20  It has been taught: In Abiram his firstborn: he was wicked, and so he could not have learnt from his death; but in his youngest son Segub he should have taken a lesson. What then did Abiram and Segub do?21  — This is its meaning: From Abiram his firstborn that wicked man [Hiel] should have learnt [that its doors would be set up only with the death of] Segub his youngest son. Now, since it is written, in Abiram his firstborn, I know that Segub was his youngest:22  why then state Segub his youngest son? — This teaches that he buried [his children] in succession from Abiram to Segub.23  Now Ahab was his close friend.24  He and Elijah went to enquire after his welfare in the house of mourning.25  He [Ahab] sat and remarked, 'Perhaps when Joshua pronounced his curse, it was thus: Neither Jericho under a different name, nor a different city by the name of Jericho?' Elijah replied, 'That is so.' Said he, 'If Moses' curse was not fulfilled, for it is written, And ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them,' which is followed by, and he shut up the heaven that there be no rain, etc.:26  yet though that man set up idols upon every single furrow, the rain did not permit him to go and worship them;27  shall the curse of Joshua, his disciple, have been fulfilled?' Straightway, And Elisha the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word.28  He prayed, and the key of rain was given him, upon which he arose and departed. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan … And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning etc.29  Whence [did they bring it]? — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: From Ahab's slaughterers.

And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.30  Now, when [God] saw that the world was distressed [because of the drought], it is written, And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath.31  And it is further written, And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick.32  Elijah prayed that the keys of resurrection might be given him, but was answered, Three keys have not been entrusted to an agent:33  of birth,34  rain, and resurrection. Shall it be said, Two are in the hands of the disciple35  and [only] one in the hand of the Master? Bring [Me] the other and take this one, as it is written, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.36

A certain Galilean expounded before R. Hisda: If one should make an analogy in respect of Elijah, what does this matter resemble? A man who locked his gate and lost the key.37  R. Jose taught in Sepphoris: Father Elijah38

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Ma'as. Sh. III, 10.
  2. This difficulty really arose when it was first answered that the reference is to the defiled second tithe, but it was postponed whilst other objections were put forward.
  3. I.e., that once within the precincts of Jerusalem, the second tithe is retained by the walls and cannot be redeemed and taken out.
  4. Hence, in this case, since it actually belongs to the condemned city, and Jerusalem cannot assimilate it to itself, because its walls had fallen, it must be destroyed; but being sacred, it is hidden instead of burnt.
  5. V. Glos.
  6. V. supra 71a.
  7. Deut. XIII, 17.
  8. Ibid. XII, 4, referring back to the preceding verse, And ye shall destroy the name of them, i.e., the idols; hence in his view the whole law of a condemned city does not apply if it contains sacred writings.
  9. R. Jose the Galilean and R. Akiba.
  10. The rule in such a case is: the general proposition includes only what is enumerated in the particular specification. But when one is thrown into the form of a positive command and the other stated as a negative injunction this does not apply. Now, in the passage under discussion, And it shall be an heap forever is a general proposition, implying that it may not be turned even into parks or orchards; whilst it shall not be built again is a particular specification, denoting a prohibition against the erection of houses, etc., which require building, but not against parks, etc. Now had they both been expressed in the form of a positive or negative command, the rule of exegesis would be as stated, the particularized expression defining the general proposition. Thus: It shall be an heap for ever, and that only in respect of rebuilding, but not in respect of parks, etc. Since, however, they are not both expressed in the same form, this method of exegesis is not followed, but the two clauses are regarded as distinct, a different exegetical rule being followed; viz., 'That which was included in the general proposition and was then separately stated is intended to illumine the former' (for it shall not be built again, which refers to houses, etc., was really included in the general proposition). Thus: And it shall be an heap for ever implies a prohibition of parks and orchards. Now, how is this implication understood? Because Scripture continues, it shall not be built again, from which we deduce, just as a building is anything erected in a human settlement, so it shall be an heap for ever prohibits everything that finds a place in civilization, and therefore includes gardens, etc.
  11. R. Jose, the Galilean.
  12. Consequently he forbids the laying out of parks.
  13. R. Akiba.
  14. Hence forbids only building.
  15. Hence gardens are forbidden.
  16. Consequently sig limits the meaning of the former passage, as it would be understood by R. Abin's rule.
  17. Thou shalt gather … and thou shalt burn excludes that which cannot immediately be gathered into the public square, but must first be cut down.
  18. Josh. VI, 17; hence there everything was forbidden.
  19. Ibid. 26.
  20. I Kings XVI, 34; he did not actually build Jericho but a different town which he called Jericho, and was punished in accordance with Joshua's oath, proving that this too was forbidden. Rashi, however, points out that there is nothing to shew that a different town is referred to.
  21. It is now assumed that the meaning is: Hiel could not have deduced from Abiram's death that Joshua's curse was being fulfilled, because Abiram was wicked, to which fact Hiel might have attributed his death. But Segub was not evil, and therefore he should have known that his death was the result of his curse. Therefore the Talmud asks: what did Abiram and Segub do, i.e., how do we know that one was wicked and the other not (Maharsha).
  22. For, as the verse informs us that Joshua's curse was fulfilled, it follows that Segub must have been his youngest.
  23. Rashi regards this passage 'now, since it … to Segub' as distinct from the preceding. Maharsha treats it as a continuation thereof. Hiel's wickedness was evinced by the fact that the death of his children one after the other failed to make him desist from his impious work.
  24. Heb. [H], particularly denotes the bridegroom's best man (v, supra 27b).
  25. I.e., when he was in mourning for the death of his children.
  26. Deut. XI, 16f.
  27. In spite of his idolatry, there were such heavy rains as to render the roads impassable.
  28. I Kings XVII, 1. This verse immediately follows the one treating of Hiel's building of Jericho.
  29. Ibid. 2f, 6.
  30. Ibid. 7.
  31. Ibid. 8f.
  32. Ibid. 17.
  33. God entrusted the keys of His treasures to various angels, God's agents. But three had never been entrusted to them.
  34. Lit., 'a woman in confinement.
  35. Since the key of rain was already in Elijah's possession, and now he was asking for the key of resurrection too.
  36. Ibid. XVIII, 1; I but not thou. The whole passage is adduced to shew how God, having given the key of rain to Elijah, obtained its return, and that the illness of the widow's son was for that purpose.
  37. So Elijah, having obtained the key of rain, locked it up, but could not unlock it when necessary.
  38. A term of reverence and endearment.
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Sanhedrin 113b

was a hot tempered man. Now, he [Elijah] used to visit him, but [after this] he absented himself three days and did not come. When he came on the fourth day, he [R. Jose] said to him, Why didst thou not come before?' He replied, '[Because] thou didst call me hot tempered.' He retorted, 'But before us [thou] Master hast displayed [thy] temper!'1


Our Rabbis taught: When the wicked enter the world, wrath enters therein, for it is written, When the wicked cometh, then cometh also contempt, and with ignominy, reproach.3  When the wicked perish from the world, good comes to the world, as it is written, And when the wicked perish, there is exultation.4  When the righteous departeth from the world, evil entereth therein, as it is written, The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.5  When the righteous cometh into the world, good cometh into the world as it is written, This same shall comfort us in our work and in the toil of our hands.6

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. By staying away for three days for such a trivial reason.
  2. [With particular reference to those who appropriate property of a condemned city. Cf. Sem. II, 9, where such an offence is made equivalent to the most cardinal sins (v. Yad Ramah and Glosses of Zebi Chajes).]
  3. Prov. XVIII, 3.
  4. Ibid. XI, 10.
  5. Isa. LVII, 1.
  6. Gen. V, 29.
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