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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 166a

Might it not signify small change? — Small change is not made of gold.1

'"Gold for denarii" [signifies] gold of the value of no less than two silver denarii.' Might he2  not have meant, broken gold [ware] of [the value of] two gold denarii.? — Abaye replied: The holder of the bond [must always be] at a disadvantage.3  If4  so,5  [the same principles should be followed in] the former [cases] also!6  — R. Ashi replied: [In the] first [cases] denarii was written; [in the] last, dinrin was written.7  And whence may it be deduced8  that there is a difference between denarii and dinrin? — for we learnt:9  A woman who had10  five doubtful confinements11  [or] five doubtful issues,12  brings one offering13  and may14  [subsequently] eat of sacrificial meat. She is not obliged, [however, to bring] the rest.15  [If] she had16  five certain confinements [or] five issues, she brings one sacrifice and [may subsequently] eat of sacrificial meat but is [also] obliged to [bring] the rest.15  It once happened that [the price of a pair of] birds17  in Jerusalem had risen18  to gold denarii.19  [Thereupon] R. Simeon b. Gamaliel exclaimed, '[By] this Temple!20  I shall not go to rest this night before these [can] be [obtained] for silver denarii'.21  He entered the Beth din and issued the following instruction:22  'A woman who had23  five certain [child] confinements, [or] five certain issues, brings one sacrifice and may [subsequently] eat of sacrificial meat, and there is no obligation upon her to bring the rest'.24

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lit., 'small change of gold people do not make'.
  2. The writer of the bond.
  3. Lit., 'the hand of the owner of the bond on the lowest'. And the borrower, being in possession of the sum claimed, has the right of interpreting the bond in terms advantageous to himself.
  4. for this reading. v. Rashal, a.l. The printed texts contain the following in round brackets: The first (part) where it was taught 'silver for denarii' (signifies) silver for no less that, two gold denarii, why? I might say (that) he meant a bar of silver for two silver denarii.
  5. That the bond is to be interpreted in terms advantageous to the borrower and disadvantageous to the creditor.
  6. In the case of (a) the entry. 'silver denarii'; why should this be interpreted to mean 'silver for no less than two gold denarii' (which is in favour of the holder of the bond), and not, 'small silver coins for two silver denarii' (which would be in favour of the borrower)? And, again (b) in the entry. 'gold denarii' or 'denarii gold'; why should that be given the interpretation, 'no less than two gold denarii' (which also is in favour of the creditor) rather than, 'gold of the value of no less than two silver denarii' (which would be in favour of the borrower)?
  7. The latter, being the usual plural form of denar, signifies silver denarii; the former, being the unusual plural of the noun, implies gold denarii. Cf. Rashb., R. Gersh. and Goldschmidt. For a further discussion of the denar v. Zuckermann's Tal. Munz., 19ff; and Smith's Dict. Gk. Rom. Ant., s.v. Denarius.
  8. Lit., 'thou sayest'.
  9. Cut. edd.: 'it was taught'.
  10. Lit., 'there were upon her'.
  11. Lit., 'births', i.e., if she miscarried five times and, in each case, it was unknown whether the miscarriage was a human embryo or some other object. In the former case the woman would be liable to bring an offering after the termination of a period of Levitically unclean, and clean days (cf. supra p. 528, n. 1); in the latter case she would not.
  12. When it is uncertain whether the discharge occurred during the ordinary course of menstruation (cf. supra p. 528. n. 8). or during the 'eleven days' that intervene between the menstrual periods. In the latter case she is liable to bring an offering (cf. Lev. XV, 25ff); In the former she is exempt.
  13. At the conclusion of the 'days of her purifying'.
  14. Having, thereby, completed the ceremonial of purification.
  15. The other four sacrifices.
  16. V. note 4.
  17. Lit., 'nests'. Sacrifices after recovery from an issue, (cf. Lev. XV. 29), and, in cases of poverty, also after confinements (ibid. XII, 8), consisted of birds (two turtles or two young pigeons).
  18. Lit., 'stood'.
  19. The price had risen owing to the large demand on the part of women who brought separate sacrifices for each confinement.
  20. An oath.
  21. Dinrin, implying silver denarii, while gold denarii were previously described (v. supra n. 13), as denari. Thus it has been shewn that a distinction was made between the two names, denari and dinrin.
  22. Lit., 'he taught'.
  23. Lit., 'there were upon her'.
  24. The other four sacrifices.
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Baba Bathra 166b

On that day [the price of a pair of] birds fell1  to a quarter [of a denar'].2

IF ABOVE IS WRITTEN etc. Our Rabbis taught: The lower [section] may be corrected3  from the upper [one] where one letter [is missing], but not in [the case of] two letters; for example, HaNaN from HaNaNI4  or 'ANaN from 'ANaNI.4  What is the reason5  why two letters [must] not [be replaced]? [Because] a name of four letters might occur and these6  would represent half of the name! If so, [in the case of] one letter also, might [not] a name of two letters occur and this7  would represent half of the name? — But this is the reason [for] two letters: A name of three letters might occur, and these would represent the greater part of the name.8

R. Papa said: It is obvious to me [that if] SeFeL9  [appears] in the upper [section].10  and KeFeL11  in the lower [section], the latter is always to be taken as a guide.12  R. Papa, [however], inquired what [is the ruling if] KeFeL [appears] above and SeFeL below? May this be attributed13  to a fly,14  or not? — This remains undecided.15

In a certain [deed] there was written, 'six hundred and a zuz'. R. Sherabya sent this [enquiry] to16  Abaye: [Is the entry to be interpreted as], 'six hundred istira17  and a zuz', or perhaps, [as] 'six hundred perutoth18  and a zuz?' — He replied to him: 'Dismiss [the question of] perutoth which [could] not [have been] written in the deed, since they are counted up

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Lit., 'stood'.
  2. Ker. I, 7.
  3. Lit., 'be learned', 'inferred'.
  4. Where only the letter Yod is wanting. Should two letters, however, be missing. e.g.. N and I, leaving in the lower section Han or AN, only, they must not be replaced from the upper section.
  5. Lit., 'why different'.
  6. The two letters.
  7. The single letter.
  8. A scribe might omit half a name if that consisted of a single letter. He is not likely, however, to omit two letters which in some names represent the greater part of the name. If two letters or more are missing, the person whose name is represented by the remaining letters, not the bearer of the name in the upper section, is entitled to the repayment of the loan. [V. however Tosaf. s.v. [H]]
  9. Heb., [H], 'bowl' or 'cup'. Some read [H] i.e. [H] 'sixty halves'.
  10. Of a deed.
  11. Heb., [H] (root. 'to fold'), an article of dress, which can be folded. Others, [H] 'hundred halves'. Both sefel and kefel, however, may be arbitrary word combinations taken by R. Papa as an illustration of a slight variation by which one word may differ from another.
  12. Lit., 'all goes after the lowest.
  13. Lit., 'do we fear'.
  14. Which might have blotted out the lower stroke of the kof, and thus changed it into a samek. [In the third and fourth centuries the stem of the kof hung from the roof of the letter and the curve was drawn to it, thus: P.]
  15. Hence, if such a case should be brought before a court, the decision must be in favour of the person who is in possession of the money or article; in accordance with the rule, 'he who claims must produce the proof'.
  16. Lit., 'before'.
  17. The istira was a silver coin equal to a provincial sela or half a zuz.
  18. A perutah was a very small coin of the value of a hundred and ninety-second part of a zuz. Cf. Zuckermann, op. cit., 22f.
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