They slept on their backs; and the knee of one of them was raised, and the Arab merchant passed under the knee, riding on a camel with spear erect, and did not touch it. I cut off one corner of the purple-blue shawl1 of one of them; and we could not move away. He said unto me: '[If] you have, peradventure, taken something from them, return it; for we have a tradition that he who takes anything from them cannot move away.' I went and returned it; and then we were able to move away. When I came before the Rabbis they said unto me: Every Abba2 is an ass and every Bar Bar Hana is a fool. For what purpose did you do that?3 Was it in order to ascertain whether [the Law] is in accordance with the [decision of] Beth Shammai or Beth Hillel?4 You should have counted the threads and counted the joints.5
He6 said unto me: 'Come and I will show you Mount Sinai.' [When] I arrived I saw that scorpions7 surrounded it and they stood like white asses. I heard a Bath Kol8 saying: 'Woe is me that I have made an oath9 and now that I have made the oath, who will release me?'10 When I came before the Rabbis, they said unto me: 'Every Abba11 is an ass and every Bar Bar Hana is a fool. You should have said, Mufar lak.'12 He,13 however, thought that perhaps it was the oath in connection with the Flood.14 And the Rabbis?15 — If so;16 why, 'woe is me'?
He said unto me: 'Come, I will show you the men of Korah that were swallowed up.17 I saw two cracks that emitted smoke. I took a piece of clipped wool, dipped it in water, attached it to the point of a spear and let it in there. And when I took it out it was singed. [Thereupon] he said unto me: 'Listen attentively [to] what you [are about to] hear.' And I heard them say: 'Moses and his Torah are truth and we18 are liars.' He said unto me: 'Every thirty days Gehenna19 causes them to turn back here as [one turns] flesh in a pot,20 and they say thus: "Moses and his law are truth and we18 are liars".'
He said unto me: 'Come, I will show you where heaven and earth touch one another.'21 I took up my [bread] basket and placed it in a window of heaven. When I concluded my prayers I looked for it but did not find it. I said unto him: 'Are there thieves here?' He replied to me: 'It is the heavenly wheel revolving. Wait here until tomorrow and you will find it.'
R. Johanan related: Once we were travelling on board a ship and we saw a fish that raised its head out of the sea. Its eyes were like two moons, and water streamed from its two nostrils as [from] the two rivers of Sura.22
R. Safra related: Once we travelled on board a ship and we saw a fish that raised its head out of the sea. It had horns on which was engraven: 'I am a minor creature of the sea, I am three hundred parasangs [in length] and I am [now] going into the mouth of Leviathan.'23 R. Ashi said: It was a sea-goat which searches [for its food] and [for that purpose] has horns.
R. Johanan related: Once we were travelling on board a ship and we saw a chest in which were set precious stones and pearls and it was surrounded by a species of fish called Karisa.24 There went down
Baba Bathra 74b
a diver to bring [the chest], but [a fish] noticed [him] and was about to wrench his thigh. Thereupon he poured upon it a skin bottle of vinegar and it sank. A Bath Kol1 came forth, saying unto us: 'What have you to do with the chest of the wife2 of R. Hanina b. Dosa who is to store in it purple-blue3 for the righteous in the world to come.
Rab Judah, the Indian, related: Once we were travelling on board a ship when we saw a precious stone that was surrounded by a snake. A diver descended to bring it up. [Thereupon] the snake approached with the purpose of swallowing the ship, [when] a raven came and bit off its head and the waters were turned into blood. A second snake came, took [the head of the decapitated snake]4 and attached5 it [to the body], and it revived. Again [the snake] approached intent on swallowing the ship. Again a bird came and severed its head. [Thereupon the diver] seized the precious stone and threw it into the ship. We had with us salted birds. [As soon as] we put [the stone] upon them, they took it up and flew away with it.
Our Rabbis taught: It happened that R. Eliezer and R. Joshua were travelling on board a ship. R. Eliezer was sleeping and R. Joshua was awake. R. Joshua shuddered and R. Eliezer awoke. He said unto him: 'What is the matter, Joshua? What has caused you to tremble?' He said unto him: 'I have seen a great light in the sea.' He said unto him: 'You may have seen the eyes of Leviathan, for it is written: His eyes are like the eyelids of the morning.'6
R. Ashi said: R. Huna b. Nathan related to me [the following]: Once we were walking in the desert and we had with us a leg of meat.7 We cut it open and picked out [the forbidden fat8 and the nervus ischiadicus]9 and put it on the grass. While we were fetching wood, the leg regained its original form and we roasted it. When we returned after twelve calendar months10 we saw those coals still glowing. When I came before Ammemar, he said unto me: 'That grass was samtre.11 Those glowing coals were of broom.12
[It is written]: And God created the great sea-monsters.13 Here14 they explained: The sea-gazelles. R. Johanan said: This refers to Leviathan the slant serpent,15 and to Leviathan the tortuous serpent,16 for it is written: In that day the Lord with his sore [and great and strong] sword will punish [Leviathan the slant serpent, and Leviathan the tortuous serpent].17
(Mnemonic: All time Jordan.)18
Rab Judah said in the name of Rab: All that the Holy One, blessed be He, created in his world he created male and female. Likewise, Leviathan the slant serpent and Leviathan the tortuous serpent he created male and female; and had they mated with one another they would have destroyed the whole world.19 What [then] did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He castrated the male and killed the female preserving it in salt for the righteous in the world to come; for it is written: And he will slay the dragon that is in the sea.20 And also Behemoth21 on a thousand hills were created male and female, and had they mated with one another they would have destroyed the whole world.19 What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He castrated the male and cooled22 the female and preserved it for the righteous for the world to come; for it is written: Lo now his strength is in his loins23 — this refers to the male; and his force is in the stays of his body,23 — this refers to the female. There also, [in the case of Leviathan], he should have castrated the male and cooled the female [why then did he kill the female]? — Fishes are dissolute.24 Why did he not reverse the process?25 — If you wish, say: [It is because a] female [fish] preserved in salt is tastier. If you prefer, say: Because it is written: There is Leviathan whom Thou hast formed to sport with,26 and with a female this is not proper.27 Then here also [in the case of Behemoth] he should have preserved the female in salt? — Salted fish is palatable, salted flesh is not.
Rab Judah in the name of Rab further said: At the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, desired to create the world, he said to the angel of the sea: 'Open thy mouth and swallow all the waters of the world.'28 He said unto him: 'Lord of the Universe, it is enough that I remain with my own'. Thereupon, He struck him with His foot and killed him; for it is written: He stirreth up the sea with his power and by his understanding he smiteth through Rahab.29 R. Isaac said: From this it may be inferred that the name of the angel of the sea was Rahab. And had not the waters covered him no creature could have stood his [foul] odour;30 for it is written: They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My Holy mountain etc. as the waters cover the sea.31 Do not read: They cover the sea, but [in the sense]: 'They cover the angel of the sea.'32
Rab Judah further stated in the name of Rab: The Jordan issues from the cavern of Paneas.33 It has been taught likewise:34 The Jordan issues from the cavern of Paneas and passes through the Lake of Sibkay35 and the Lake of Tiberias36 and rolls down into the great sea from whence it rolls on until it rushes into the mouth of Leviathan; for it is said: He is confident because the Jordan rushes forth to his mouth.37 Raba b. 'Ulla objected: This [verse] is written of Behemoth on a thousand hills! — But, said R. Abba b. 'Ulla: When is Behemoth on a thousand hills confident? — When the Jordan rushes into the mouth of Leviathan.38
(Mnemonic: Seas, Gabriel, Hungry.)39
When R. Dimi came40 he stated in the name of R. Johanan: The verse, For he hath founded it upon the seas and established it upon the floods41 speaks of the seven seas and four rivers which surround the land of Israel. And these are the seven seas: The sea of Tiberias,42 the Sea of Sodom, the Sea of Helath,43 the Sea of Hiltha,44 the Sea of Sibkay,45 the Sea of Aspamia and the Great Sea. The following are the four rivers: The Jordan, the Jarmuk, the Keramyon and Pigah.46
When R. Dimi came, he said in the name of R. Jonathan: Gabriel is to arrange in the future
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