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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 112a

and [the total area] was equal [to the land extending] from Be Mikse1  to the Fort of Tulbanke,2  [an area of] twenty-two parasangs in length and six parasangs in breadth.

R. Helbo, R. 'Awira3  and R. Jose b. Hanina once visited a certain place where a peach that was [as large] as a pot of Kefar Hino4  was brought before them. (And how big is a pot of Kefar Hino? — Five se'ah.) One third [of the fruit] they ate, one third they declared free to all, and one third they put before their beasts. A year later R. Eleazar came there on a visit and [a peach] was brought to him. Taking it in his one hand5  he exclaimed, A fruitful land into a salt waste, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein.6

R. Joshua b. Levi once visited Gabla7  where he saw vines laden with clusters of ripe grapes8  standing up [to all appearances] like calves. 'Calves among the vines!', he remarked. 'These', they told him, 'are clusters of ripe grapes'.8  'Land, O Land', he exclaimed, 'withdraw thy fruit; for whom art thou yielding thy fruit? For those Arabs9  who rose up against us on account of our sins?' Towards [the end10 of that] year R. Hiyya happened to be there and saw them11  standing up [to all appearances] like goats. 'Goats among the vines', he exclaimed. 'Go away', they told him, 'do not you treat us as your friend did'.

Our Rabbis taught: In the blessed years12  of the Land of Israel a beth se'ah13  yielded fifty thousand14 kor15  though in Zoan,16  even in the days of its prosperity,17  a beth se'ah yielded [no more than] seventy kor.15  For it was taught: R. Meir said, I saw in the valley of Beth Shean18  that a beth se'ah13  yielded seventy kor.15  Now, among all the countries there is none more fertile than the land of Egypt, for it is said in Scripture, Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt;19  and there is no more fertile spot in all the land of Egypt than that of Zoan where kings were brought up, for it is written in Scripture, For his princes20  are at Zoan.21  Furthermore, in all the Land of Israel there is no ground more rocky than at Hebron22  where the dead23  were buried. Hebron was nevertheless seven times as fertile24  as Zoan; for it is written in Scripture, And Hebron was built in seven years before Zoan in Egypt,25  now what [can be the meaning of] built? If it be suggested that it was actually built, is it possible [It may be objected that] a man26  would build a house27  for his younger son28  before he built one for his elder son,29  it being stated in Scriptures And the sons of Ham, Cush and Mizraim, and Put and Canaan?30  [The meaning must] consequently be31  that it was seven times as fertile32  as Zoan.33  This refers to stony ground, but [in ground] where there are no stones [a beth se'ah would yield] five hundred [kor].34  This too refers to periods when the land was not blessed,35  but [of the time] when it was blessed35  it is written in Scripture, And Isaac sowed in that land, [and found in the same year a hundredfold].36

It was taught: R. Jose stated, One se'ah37  in Judea yielded five se'ah: One se'ah of flour, one se'ah of fine flour, one se'ah of bran, one se'ah of coarse bran and one se'ah of cibarium.

A certain Sadducee38  once said to R Hanina: 'You may well sing the praises of your country. My father left me one beth se'ah39  and from it [I obtain] oil, wine, corn and pulse, and my cattle also feed on it'.

An Amorite40  once said to a Palestinian,41  'How much do you gather42  from that date tree that stands on the bank of the Jordan?' — 'Sixty kor',37  the other replied. 'You have not improved it'. the former said to him, 'but rather43  ruined it; we used to gather44  from it one hundred and twenty kor'. 'I too', the other replied 'was speaking to you [of the yield] of one side only'.

R. Hisda stated: What [was meant] by the Scriptural text, I give thee a pleasant land, the heritage of the deer?45  Why was the Land of Israel compared to a deer? — To tell you that as the skin of a deer46  cannot contain its flesh47  so cannot the Land of Israel contain its produce.48  Another explanation: As the deer is the swiftest among the animals so is the Land of Israel the swiftest of all lands in the ripening of its fruit. In case49  [one should suggest that] as the deer is swift but his flesh is not fat so is the Land of Israel swift to ripen but its fruits are not rich, it was explicitly stated in Scripture, Flowing with milk and honey50  [thus indicating that they are] richer than milk and sweeter than honey.

When R. Eleazar went up to the Land of Israel he remarked, 'I have escaped [one penalty]'.51  When he was ordained he said, 'I have now escaped two [penalties]'.51  When he was given a seat on the council for intercalation he exclaimed, 'I have escaped the three [penalties]'; for it is said in Scripture, And My hand shall be against the prophets that see vanity etc. They shall not be in the council of My people,52  which refers to53  the council for intercalation, neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel,52  refers to53  ordination; neither shall they enter into the land of Israel52  [is to be understood] in accordance with its plain meaning.

When R. Zera went up to the Land of Israel and could not find a ferry wherein to cross [a certain river]54  he grasped a rope bridge and crossed. Thereupon a certain Sadducee sneered at him: 'Hasty people, that put your mouths before your ears,55  you are still, as ever, clinging to your hastiness'. 'The spot', the former replied. 'which Moses and Aaron were not worthy [of entering] who could assure me that I should be worthy [of entering]?' R. Abba56  used to kiss the cliffs of Akko.57  R. Hanina56  used to repair its roads.58  R. Ammi and R. Assi59

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. V. supra p. 408, n. 9.
  2. The latter was a place on Tel-ben-kaneh, one of the upper reaches of the Euphrates on the boundary between Babylonia and Palestine. Cf. Kid. Sonc. ed. p. 365. n. 8; Horowitz, op. cit. s.v. [H]; S. Funk, Juden in Bab. I, p. 13, n. 2.
  3. MS.M. [H]
  4. [Identified by Klein (Beitrage, p. 184) with Kefar Hananiah in Galilee].
  5. It was so small.
  6. Ps. CVII, 34.
  7. Biblical Gebal, a district between Ammon and Amalek (cf. Ps. LXXXIII, 8) now known as A-gibal, S.E. of the Dead Sea. This Gebal is not to be confused with Gebal, a Zidonian town in the N.W. of Palestine (v. Horowitz, op. cit., s.v.).
  8. [H], pl. of [H] (rt. [H] 'to pluck'), 'fruit ready to be plucked'.
  9. Bomb. ed., 'heathens'.
  10. So Rashi. Cf Maharsha.
  11. The clusters of grapes.
  12. So Rashi. Lit., 'In her blessings'.
  13. An area of fifty cubits by fifty in which one se'ah (v. Glos.) of seed can be sown.
  14. Lit., 'five myriads'.
  15. V. Glos.
  16. In the land of Egypt.
  17. Lit., 'settlement'.
  18. In the Jordan plain, about twenty miles to the south of Tiberias. The town of Beth Shean is mentioned several times in the Bible (cf. e.g., Josh. XVII. 11 and 16, Judges I, 27, I Sam. XXXI, 10, I Chron. VII, 29). The town once belonged to Egypt (it occurs in the Tel-el-Amarna letters under the name of Bitsani) while at other times in its history it formed part of the Land of Israel. In the post exilic period it belonged neither to the former nor (cf. Hul. 6b, 7a) the latter country, and is taken by R. Meir here as an example of the normal fertility of a neutral district in order to draw the inference that follows.
  19. Gen. XIII, 10.
  20. Sc. rulers, kings. Aliter: the princes of Israel flocked to Zoan to solicit the protection of the kings of Egypt (v. Rashi).
  21. Isa. XXX, 4.
  22. Sixteen miles S.S.W. of Jerusalem.
  23. Cf. Gen. XLIX, 31.
  24. Lit., 'built', 'cultivated'.
  25. Num. XIII, 22.
  26. Ham (v. Gen. X, 6)
  27. And much less a whole town.
  28. Canaan (v. ibid.).
  29. Mizraim (ibid.).
  30. Ibid.
  31. Lit., 'but'.
  32. Lit., 'built', 'cultivated'.
  33. Seven times seventy kor = four hundred and ninety kor.
  34. At least; only ten more than rocky ground (v. supra n. 9).
  35. Cf. supra p. 725, n. 5.
  36. Gen. XXVI, 12. A hundred times five hundred _ five thousand (v. supra p. 725, nn. 7 and 10 and text).
  37. V. Glos.
  38. [Read with MS.M. Min (v. Glos.) and cf. Git 57a].
  39. Cf. supra p. 725, n. 6.
  40. Of the early inhabitants of Canaan (cf. e.g., Gen. XV, 21).
  41. Lit., 'to a son (inhabitant) of the Land of Israel'; to an Israelite who entered Palestine in the days of Joshua.
  42. Or 'cut' (cf. MS.M. [H]).
  43. Cf. BaH.
  44. Cf. supra n. 18.
  45. Jer. III, 19; [H], A.V., goodly heritage.
  46. After it had been flayed.
  47. It cannot again be made to cover the full body of the animal.
  48. It grows in such abundance that all the store houses of the land cannot provide sufficient accommodation for its storage.
  49. Lit., 'if'.
  50. V. e.g., Ex. III, 8, Num. XIV, 8.
  51. This is explained anon.
  52. Ezek. XIII. 9.
  53. Lit., 'this'.
  54. The Jordan?
  55. Israel said [H], 'we will do' before [H] 'and we will hear' (Ex XXIV, 7).
  56. In his love for Palestine.
  57. Acre or Ptolemais, a city and harbour on the northern end of Haifa Bay on the coast of Palestine.
  58. Lit., 'its stumblings', 'obstacles'.
  59. Cf. p. 727, n. 12.
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Kethuboth 112b

used to rise [from their seats1  to move] from the sun to the shade2  and from the shade to the sun.3  R. Hiyya b. Gamda4  rolled himself in its5  dust, for it is said in Scripture, For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and love her dust.6

R. Zera said: R. Jeremiah b. Abba stated, 'In the generation in which the son of David7  will come there will be prosecution8  against scholars'. When I repeated this statement in the presence of Samuel, he exclaimed, [There will be] test after test,9  for it is said in Scripture, And if there be yet a tenth in it, it shall again be eaten up.10

R. Joseph learnt:11  [There will be] plunderers12  and plunderers of the plunderers.13

R. Hiyya b. Ashi stated in the name of Rab: In the time to come all the wild trees of the Land of Israel will bear fruit; for it is said in Scripture, For the tree14  beareth its fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their strength.15

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Where they sat while delivering their discourses.
  2. In the summer when the heat is intense.
  3. In the cold days of the winter. In order to obviate any fault finding with the weather of Palestine (Rashi).
  4. In his love for Palestine.
  5. Palestine's.
  6. Ps. CII, 15.
  7. The Messiah.
  8. [H] cf. [G].
  9. Trials and calamities will follow each other in close succession. 'One reduction after the other' (Jast.). MS.M. adds, [H]. (Isa. XXIV, 16) the assonance of which might have suggested R. Joseph's comment (v. infra n. 15).
  10. Isa. VI, 13.
  11. An exposition of the Isaiah text cited (v.supra n. 12). [Cf. Targum a.l. and B.K., Sonc. ed. p. 9. n. 9].
  12. Who will leave only 'a tenth of it'.
  13. Inferred from 'shall again be eaten up'. Aram. [H] (cf. supra note 11).
  14. Sc. 'the wild tree', since fruit-trees are specifically mentioned in the following clause (Rashi).
  15. Joel II, 22.
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