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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 119a

Fathers' houses are, in fact, enumerated. but1  [Scripture] had taught us that the daughters of Zelophehad had [also] taken the portion of the birthright. Consequently,2  the land of Israel was [regarded even before the conquest, as if it had already been] in the possession of Israel.3

The Master stated: 'Their sons received [shares] by virtue of the rights of the fathers of their fathers and the rights of the fathers of their mothers'.4  Was it not taught [elsewhere], 'by virtue of their own rights'? — [This is] no difficulty. That5  is in agreement with him who said [that the division was] in accordance with [the number of] those who came out of Egypt; this6  is in agreement with him who said [that the division was] in accordance with [the number of] those who entered the land. If you like you may say: Both statements7  [are in agreement with the view that the division was] in accordance with [the number of] those who entered the land and [yet] there is no difficulty. The one6  [deals with the case of him] who was twenty years of age;8  the other,5  with the case of him who was not [yet] twenty years of age.

SINCE HE WAS A FIRSTBORN SON [WHO] TAKES TWO SHARES. But why?9  [Surely the estates of Hepher] were [only] prospective,10  and a firstborn son is not [entitled] to take [a double share] in the prospective [property of his father] as in that which is in [his father's] possession [at the time of death]! — Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: [The double share was] in tent pins.11

Rabbah raised an objection: [It has been taught that] R. Judah said, 'the daughters of Zelophehad took four portions, for it is said, and there fell ten parts to Manasseh!'12  — But, said Rabbah, the land of Israel [was regarded even before the conquest as] in [actual] possession [of those who came out of Egypt].13

An objection was raised: R. Hidka said: 'Simeon of Shikmona was my companion among the disciples of R. Akiba. And thus did R. Simeon of Shikmona say: Moses our Master knew that the daughters of Zelophehad were to he heiresses, but he did not know whether or not they were to take the portion of the birthright — And it was fitting that the [Scriptural] section of the laws of succession should have been written through Moses, but the daughters of Zelophehad merited it. and it was written through them.14  Moses, furthermore, knew that the man who gathered sticks [on the Sabbath day]15  was to he put to death, for it is said, Everyone that profaneth it shall surely be put to death,16  but he did not know by which [kind of] death he was to die. And it was fitting that the section of the man who gathered sticks should have been written through Moses, only the gatherer had brought guilt upon himself and it was written through him. This teaches you

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. By enumerating also the daughters of Zelophehad.
  2. Since they were given the double portion of the first-born.
  3. A firstborn son takes a double portion of that only which is in his father's actual possession at the time of his death, not from that to which he may become entitled after his death.
  4. Supra 117b.
  5. The Baraitha stating, 'by virtue of their grandparents'.
  6. The other Baraitha stating 'by virtue of their own rights.'
  7. Lit., 'this and that'.
  8. When Israel entered Canaan.
  9. Why should he he entitled to two shares?
  10. When he died the estates were only due to become his, but could not pass into his possession before Canaan was actually entered.
  11. I.e., in their grandfather's movable property, which, like the tent pins, was in his possession before he entered Canaan and while still in the wilderness. Of his landed property, how-ever, the daughters of Zelophehad did not take a double share, Our Mishnah which mentions three shares refers to the landed as well as the movable property.
  12. Josh. XVII, 5. V. supra 118b. These portions, according to the Scriptural context, were not in movable, but in landed property! How, then, could it be said that the double share was in movables only?
  13. Hence the right of the firstborn to take a double share.
  14. I.e., at their instance,
  15. Num. XV, 32ff.
  16. Ex. XXXI, 14.
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Baba Bathra 119b

that merit1  is brought about by means of the meritorious1  and punishment for guilt2  by means of the guilty.2  Now, if it be assumed [that] the land of Israel was [regarded as being even before the conquest] in the possession [of those who came out of Egypt]. why was he3  in doubt?4  — He was in doubt on this very [question]:5  It is written, and I will give it you for a heritage,6  I am the Lord,7  [does this mean]. 'it is for you an inheritance from your fathers'8  or perhaps [it means] that they9  would transmit [it] but would not [themselves] he heirs?10  And it was made clear to him [that the text implies] both: 'It is an inheritance for you from your fathers; yet you would [only] transmit, and not [yourselves] inherit [it].' And this accounts for the Scriptural text, Thou bringest them in, and plantest them in the mountain of thine inheritance.11  It is not written, 'Thou bringest us in', but 'Thou bringest them in'; this teaches that they prophesied12  and knew not what they prophesied.

And they stood before Moses and before Eleazar the priest and before the princes and all the congregation.13  Is it possible that they stood before Moses etc. and they did not say anything to them [so that] they [had] to stand before the princes and all the congregation? But, the verse is to be turned about and expounded;14  Is these are the words of R. Josiah. Abba Hanan said in the name of R. Eliezer: They15  were sitting in the house of study and these came and stood before all of them.16

Wherein17  lies their dispute?18  — [One] master19  is of the opinion [that] honour may he shown to a disciple in the presence of the master,20  and the other21  is of the opinion that it is not to he shown.22  And the law is [that honour is] to be shown. And the law is [that honour is] not he shown. Surely this is a contradiction between one law and the other!23  — There is no contradiction: The one24  [refers to the case] where his master shows him25  respect; the other,24  where his master does not.

It was taught: The daughters of Zelophehad were wise women, they were exegetes, they were virtuous.

They [must] have been wise, since they spoke at an opportune moment; for R. Samuel son of R. Isaac said: [Scripture] teaches that Moses our master was sitting and holding forth an exposition on the section of levirate marriages, as it is said, If brethren dwell together.26  They said unto him:27  'If we are [to he as good] as son[s],28  give us an inheritance as [to] a son; if not,29  let our mother be subject to the law of levirate marriage!' And Moses, immediately. brought their cause before the Lord.30

They [must] have been exegetes, for they said: 'If he had a son we would not have spoken'.31  But was it not taught: 'a daughter'?32  — R. Jeremiah said: Delete, 'daughter', from here.33  Abaye said: [The explanation is that they said]: 'Even if a son [of his] had a daughter. we would not have spoken'.34

They were virtuous, since they were married to such men only as were worthy of them.35

R. Eliezer b. Jacob taught: Even the youngest among them was not married under forty years of age.36  But can this he so? Surely, R. Hisda said: [One who] marries under twenty years of age beget till sixty; [at] twenty, begins till forty. [at] forty, does not beget any more!37  — Since, however, they were virtuous, a miracle happened in their case38  as [in that of] Jochebed.39  As It is written, And there went a man of the house of Levi, and took to wife a daughter of Levi;40

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Or privilege. The daughters of Zelophehad were righteous women and deserved, therefore, that a section of the Torah conferring rights and privileges on certain heirs should be written at their instance,
  2. The announcement of the severe penalty of stoning for gathering sticks on the Sabbath was brought about by means of the guilty man who was the first to commit such an offence; v. Sanh. 8a.
  3. Moses.
  4. Surely, Hepher, having been one of those who came out of Egypt, was by virtue of that fact in possession of his share even before the entry into Canaan, Zelophehad's daughters, therefore, through their father, were entitled to the double share due to the firstborn.
  5. Whether the land of Israel was to be regarded as being in possession of those who came out of Egypt. even before the entry into Canaan.
  6. [H] morashah.
  7. Ibid. VI, 8.
  8. The fathers of those who left Egypt. [H] like [H] yerushah, signifying 'heritage' and implying that the fathers who came out of Egypt were to be regarded as the actual possessors of the land, having inherited it from their fathers, and hence, their firstborn sons would be entitled to double portions.
  9. Those that left Egypt.
  10. [H] Hiph., having a causative signification, denoting that they would cause their descendants to inherit the land, without any hearing on the question of their own possession thereof, Firstborn sons would, consequently, have no claim to a double portion.
  11. Ibid. XV, 17.
  12. That their descendants, and not they themselves, would enter the land.
  13. Num. XXVII, 2.
  14. They first came to the congregation, then to the princes and Eleazar, and finally to Moses,
  15. Moses, Eleazar and all the rest.
  16. The daughters of Zelophehad submitted their claim when Moses and the others were sitting together.
  17. On what principle?
  18. That of R. Josiah and R. Eliezer.
  19. R. Josiah.
  20. Hence he maintains that they went first to the others (Moses' disciples) and then to the master himself.
  21. Abba Hanan.
  22. The case had, therefore to be submitted to Moses himself when presiding.
  23. Lit., 'law upon law'.
  24. Lit., 'this'.
  25. The disciple.
  26. Deut. XXV, 5.
  27. While he was engaged in the exposition of this law.
  28. Since the existence of a daughter, like that of a son, obviates levirate marriage
  29. I.e., if, with reference to an inheritance, daughters are not to be given the same rights as sons.
  30. Cf. Num. XXVII, 5.
  31. This plea shows that they knew the exposition of Num. XXVII, 8, according to which a daughter has no claim where there is a son. Cf. supra 110a.
  32. Viz some versions read that they said, 'If he had a daughter'.
  33. The word, 'daughter', in that Baraitha is an error.
  34. 'Knowing that a son's daughter has preference over the daughter of the decreased', v. supra 115b.
  35. V. infra p. 493, n. 2.
  36. Waiving for a worthy husband.
  37. Is it, then, possible that virtuous women like the daughters of Zelophehad would marry so late in life as to he unable to have any issue?
  38. Lit., 'to them'.
  39. The mother of Moses.
  40. Ex II, I.
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