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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 102a

And even Ahijah the Shilonite erred and signed. For Jehu was a very righteous man, as it is written, And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel.1  Yet it is written, But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam which made Israel to sin.2  Now what caused this? — Abaye said: A covenant is made for the lips,3  as it is written, [And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them,] Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.4  Raba said: He saw the signature of Ahijah the Shilonite, and was thus led into error.

It is written, And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuke of them all.5  R. Johanan explained this: The Holy One, blessed be He, said, 'They have gone deeper [i.e., are more stringent] than I. I said, "Whoever does not go up [to Jerusalem] for the Festival violates a positive injunction" whereas they proclaimed, "Whoever does go up for the Festival will be pierced with the sword."'6

And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way, and he had clad himself with a new garment:7  a Tanna taught in the name of R. Jose: [That time was] a time predestined for punishment.8  In the time of their visitation they shall perish:9  a Tanna taught in the name of R. Jose: [In] a time predestined for punishment. In an acceptable time have I heard thee:10  a Tanna taught in R. Jose's name: [In] a time predestined for good. Nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them:11  a Tanna taught in R. Jose's name: [In] a time Predestined for punishment.12  And it came to pass at that time, that Judah went down from his brethren:13  a Tanna taught in R. Jose's name: [In] a time predestined for punishment.14  And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king:15  a Tanna taught in R. Jose's name: [It was] a place predestined for evil; in Shechem Dinah was ravished;16  in Shechem his brethren sold Joseph;17  and in Shechem the kingdom of the House of David was divided.

[Now it came to pass at that time] that Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem:18  R. Hanina b. Papa said: He went out of the destiny of Jerusalem.19  And the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way, and he clad himself with a new garment, and they two were alone in the field.20  What is meant by 'with a new garment'? — R. Nahman said: As a new garment: just as a new garment has no defect, so was Jeroboam's scholarship without defect. Another explanation: A new garment intimates that they expounded new teachings, such as no ear had ever heard before. What is taught by, 'and they two were alone in the field'? — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: All other scholars were as the herbs of the field before them.21  Others say that all the reasons of the Torah were as manifest to them as a field.22

Therefore shalt thou give parting gifts to Moresheth-gath: the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.23  R. Hanina b. Papa said: A heavenly voice cried out and said, 'He who slew the Philistine and thereby gave you possession of Gath,24  shall ye give parting gifts to his sons!'25  [Therefore] the houses of Achzib shall be a lie to the kings of Israel.26

R. Hanina b. Papa said: He who enjoys aught of this world without uttering a blessing is as though he robbed the Holy One, blessed be He, and the Kenesseth Yisrael,27  for it is written, Whoso robbeth his father or his mother, and saith, It is no transgression the same is the companion of a destroyer.28  Now 'his father' can refer only to the Holy One, blessed be He, as it is written. Is not he [sc. God] thy father that hath bought thee?29  whilst 'his mother' can mean nothing but Kenesseth Yisrael, as it is written, My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother.30  What is meant by 'the same is the companion of a destroyer'? — He is the companion of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who destroyed [the allegiance of] Israel to their Father in Heaven.

And Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them sin a great sin.31  R. Johanan said: As two sticks which cause each other to rebound.32

[These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel … in the wilderness …] and Di Zahab.33  The School of R. Jannai expounded: Moses said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe! It was because of the silver and gold [zahab] which Thou didst lavish upon them, until they said, Enough! [dai] that they were led to make a god of gold. A parable: The lion does not tear and roar out of a basket of straw, but out of a basket of meat.34

R. Oshaia said: Until Jeroboam, Israel imbibed [a sinful disposition] from one calf; but from him onwards, from two or three calves.35

R. Isaac said: No retribution whatsoever comes upon the world which does not contain a slight fraction36  of the first calf [i.e.. the molten calf in the wilderness], as it is written, nevertheless in the day when I visit, I will visit their sin upon them.37  R. Hanina said: After twenty-four generations [the doom foretold in] this verse was exacted,38  as it is written, He cried also in mine ears with a loud voice, saying, cause the visitations of the city to draw near, even every man with his destroying weapon in his hand.39

After this thing Jeroboam turned not from his evil way.40  What is meant by, after this thing? — R. Abba said: After the Holy One, blessed be He, had seized Jeroboam by his garment and urged him, 'Repent, then I, thou, and the son of Jesse [i.e.. David] will walk in the Garden of Eden.' 'And who shall be at the head?' inquired he. 'The son of Jesse shall be at the head.' 'If so,' [he replied] 'I do not desire [it].'

R. Abbahu used to make a practice of lecturing on the Three Kings.41  Falling sick, he undertook not to lecture [thereon any more];42  yet no sooner

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. II Kings X, 30.
  2. Ibid. 31.
  3. I.e., the spoken word, even if unintentional, becomes fulfilled.
  4. Ibid. 18. These words, though spoken guilefully, had to be fulfilled.
  5. Hosea V, 2.
  6. Thus they forbade more severely than I had commanded it.
  7. I Kings XI, 29.
  8. On that occasion Ahijah prophesied the division of the kingdom as a punishment for Solomon's backsliding.
  9. Jer. LI, 18.
  10. Isa. XLIX, 8.
  11. Ex. XXXII, 34.
  12. The "day" referred to is the ninth of Ab. The spies returned from their ill-fated mission on that day; God's fiat that the whole of that generation should perish in the wilderness was promulgated on that day; and the destruction of the Temple took place likewise on the ninth of Ab.
  13. Gen. XXXVIII, 1.
  14. For as a result of that expedition it was fated that Judah should beget two sons, who should die, and his daughter-in-law Tamar be condemned to death.
  15. I Kings XII, 1.
  16. V. Gen. XXXIV.
  17. Dothan, where Joseph was sold (Gen. XXXVII, 17), being in the vicinity of Shechem.
  18. I Kings XI, 29.
  19. I.e., he would have no share in the welfare of Jerusalem.
  20. Ibid.
  21. I.e., were of no account at all in comparison with them.
  22. Even of laws of which the reason is generally unknown.
  23. Micah I, 14.
  24. Sc. David, who slew Goliath and thereby gained Possession of Gath for Israel, Moresheth gath means the possession of Gath.
  25. I.e., shall ye revolt against and forsake them!
  26. This is thus interpreted: since ye deal treacherously (i.e., lyingly. the root-idea of achzib) with the house of David, preferring the rule of the kings of Israel, therefore ye shall be delivered into the hands of the heathens. whose religion is 'a lie' — I.e., It is false.
  27. Lit., 'Community of Israel.'
  28. Prov. XXVIII, 24.
  29. Deut. XXXII, 6.
  30. Prov. I, 8.
  31. II Kings XVII, 21.
  32. When two pieces of wood are struck together, each rebounds from the other. So Jeroboam forced the Israelites to forsake God.
  33. Deut. I, 1.
  34. I.e., when a lion is fully satisfied he shews his high spirits by killing and roaring; when hungry, he is too dejected to do so. Thus in the case of Israel too, it was not poverty but the self-indulgence of wealth which ensnared them into idolatry.
  35. Until Jeroboam, only the one calf which Israel had made in the wilderness was responsible for their sinning. But he added the calves of Beth-El and Dan, thus furnishing more incentives to sin.
  36. Lit., 'a twenty-fourth part of the overweight of a litra.' By the overweight of a litra (v. Glos.) is meant the slight addition which is made to tip the scales in the direction of the weights. The general idea is that some small portion of all punishment is due to the sin of the golden calf.
  37. Ex. XXXII, 34.
  38. [Yad Ramah reads [H] 'this decree'.]
  39. Ezek. IX, 1, The use of 'visitations' suggests that this was the fulfilment of the doom threatened in Ex. XXXII, 34. There were twenty-four generations from that of the wilderness, when the Calf was made, to that of Zedekiah, in whose reign the State was overthrown and Judah deported to Babylon.
  40. I Kings XIII, 33.
  41. Mentioned in our Mishnah as having no 'portion in the future world.
  42. He viewed his illness as a punishment for dwelling upon the sins of others.
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Sanhedrin 102b

had he recovered, than he lectured [upon this] again. They [his disciples] remonstrated with him, 'Did you not undertake not to lecture on them?' — He replied, 'Did they abandon [their evil course], that I should abandon [my habit of lecturing upon them]?'

In the college of R. Ashi the lecture [one day] terminated at 'Three Kings.'1  'To-morrow, said he, 'we will commence with our colleagues.'2  [That night] Manasseh came and appeared to him in a dream. 'Thou hast called us thy colleagues and the colleagues of thy father; now, from what part [of the bread] is [the piece for reciting] the ha-mozi3  to be taken?' 'I do not know,' he answered. 'Thou hast not learned this,' he jibed, 'yet thou callest us thy colleagues!'4  'Teach it me,' he begged, 'and to-morrow I will teach it in thy name at the session.' He answered, 'From the part that is baked into a crust.'5  He then questioned him, 'Since thou art so wise, why didst thou worship idols?' He replied, 'Wert thou there, thou wouldst have caught up the skirt of thy garment and sped after me.' The next day he observed to the students: We will commence with our teachers [so referring to the Three Kings]. Ahab denotes that he was an ah [a brother]6  to Heaven, and an ab [a father] to idolatry. An ah to Heaven, as it is written, a brother [ah] is born for trouble,'7  and ab [father] to idolatry, as it is written, As a father loveth his children.8

And it came to pass, that it were a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat.9  R. Johanan said: The light [minor] transgressions which Ahab committed were equal to the gravest committed by Jeroboam. Why then does Scripture make Jeroboam the exemplar10  of sin? Because he was the first to corrupt.

Yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.11  R. Johanan said: [This teaches that] there is no furrow in Palestine upon which Ahab did not plant an idol and worship it.

Whence do we know that he will not enter the future world? — From the verse, And I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, him that is shut up and forsaken in Israel,'12  shut up [implies] in this world; forsaken, in the next.

R. Johanan said: Why did Omri merit sovereignty? Because he added a region to Palestine, as it is written, And he bought the hill Samaria of Shemer for two talents of silver, and built on the hill, and called the name of the city which he built, after the name of Shemer, owner of the hill Samaria,13  R. Johanan said: Why did Ahab merit royalty for twenty-two years? — Because he honoured the Torah, which was given in twenty-two letters,14  as it is written, And he sent messengers to Ahab king of Israel into the city, and said unto him, Thus saith Ben-hadad, Thy silver and thy gold is mine; thy wives also and thy children, even the goodliest, are mine … Yet will I send my servants unto thee tomorrow at this time, and they shall search thine house, and the houses of thy servants; and it shall be, that whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes, they shall put in their hand, and take it away … Wherefore he said unto the messengers of Ben-hadad, Tell my lord the king, all that thou didst send for to thy servant at the first I will do; but this thing I may not do.15  Now what is meant by 'whatsoever is pleasant in thine eyes'? Surely the Scroll of the Torah!16  But perhaps [this refers to] an idol? — You cannot think so, because it is written, And all the leaders and all the people said unto him, Hearken not unto him, nor consent.17  But perhaps they were evil elders?18  Is it not written. And the saying pleased Absalom well, and all the elders of Israel?19  Whereon R. Joseph commented: They were evil elders? — There 'and all the people' is not stated, whilst here it is written,' and all the people', and it is impossible that there were no righteous among them, for it is written, Yet I have left one seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.20

R. Nahman said: Ahab was equally balanced,21  since it is written, And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at the Ramoth-gilead? And one said in this manner, and one said in that manner.22  R. Joseph objected: He of whom it is written, But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up:23  whereon it was taught: Every day she used to weigh out gold shekels for idols — yet thou sayest that he was equally balanced! But Ahab was generous with his money, and because he used to benefit scholars with his wealth, half [his sins] were forgiven.

And there came forth the spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him. And the Lord said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth, and do so.24  Which spirit [is meant]? — R. Johanan said: The spirit of Naboth the Jezreelite. What is meant by 'go forth'? — Rabina said: Go forth from within my barrier, as it is written, He that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight.25  R. Papa observed, Thus men say, 'He who takes his vengeance destroys his own house.'26

And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the Lord God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.27  R. Johanan said: [This means] that he wrote upon the gates of Samaria, 'Ahab denies the God of Israel.' Therefore he has no portion in the God of Israel.

And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, for he was hid in Samaria.28  R. Levi said: He was engaged in erasing the Divine Names [from the Torah] and substituting [the names of] idols in their stead.29

Manasseh [denotes] that he forgot God.30  Another explanation: Manasseh [denotes] that he caused Israel to forget their Father in Heaven. And how do we know that he will not enter the future world? — Because it is written, Manasseh was twelve years old when he began to reign, and he reigned fifty and five years in Jerusalem … and he made a grove, as did Ahab king of Israel.31  Just as Ahab has no portion in the world to come, so has Manasseh neither.

R. JUDAH SAID: MANASSEH HATH A PORTION THEREIN, FOR IT IS WRITTEN, AND HE PRAYED UNTO HIM AND WAS INTREATED OF HIM etc. R. Johanan said: Both of them [in support of their views] expounded the same verse. For it is written, And I will cause to be removed unto all kingdoms of the earth, because of Manasseh the son of Hezekiah, king of Judah.32  One Master33  maintains, 'Because of Manasseh' who repented, whilst they did not;34  whilst the other Master35  maintains,

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. I.e., the lecture on a particular day ended when 'Three Kings' of supra XI, 1, was reached.
  2. This was a playful reference to the three kings, who were scholars.
  3. The blessing for bread, on account of its ending 'who bringest forth (ha-mozi) bread from the earth.'
  4. He was jeering at R. Ashi as not worthy of being called his colleague.
  5. I.e., a piece of the outer surface must be taken for the purpose, not the inner dough.
  6. In an evil sense, as the Talmud proceeds to quote.
  7. Prov. XVII, 17.
  8. Ps. CIII, 13; so translated here (Rashi). Cf. ibid. XVIII, 2: [H] I will love thee, O Lord, my strength.
  9. I Kings XVI, 31. The reference is to Ahab,
  10. Lit., 'fasten on to Jeroboam.'
  11. Hosea XII, 12.
  12. I Kings XXI, 21.
  13. Ibid. XVI, 24.
  14. I.e., the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet.
  15. Ibid. XX, 3, 6, 9.
  16. Thus shewing that he honoured it and it was in respect of this that he defied him (Rashi).
  17. Ibid, 8. 'Elders', by which is meant scholars, would not have counselled him to hold fast to his idols.
  18. Lit., 'elders of shame'.
  19. II Sam. XVII, 4.
  20. I Kings XIX, 18.
  21. Between sin and merit, having performed as many good deeds as evil ones.
  22. Ibid. XXII, 20: this shews that it was a difficult matter to lure him to his fate, and that must have been because his righteousness equalled his guilt.
  23. Ibid. XXI, 25.
  24. Ibid. XXII, 21f.
  25. Ps. CI. 7: v. supra, p. 592, nn. 3 and 4 for commentary.
  26. [Some MSS. read 'nest', a play on [H] (his vengeance) and [H] (his nest).] Naboth, through avenging himself on Ahab, was expelled from God's presence.
  27. I Kings XVI, 33.
  28. II Chron. XXII, 9.
  29. [This was the sacrilege which he carried on in his hiding place.]
  30. [Manasseh is connected with the root nashah [H] 'to forget'.]
  31. II Kings XXI, 2, 3.
  32. Jer. XV, 4.
  33. The author of the anonymous opinion.
  34. This aggravated their sin.
  35. R. Judah.
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