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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 38a

yet she1  did conceive standing.2  Another interpretation: Shealtiel, because God obtained3  [of the Heavenly court] absolution from His oath.4  Zerubbabel [was so called] because he was sown in Babylon.5  But [his real name was] Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah.

Judah and Hezekiah, the sons6  of R. Hiyya, once sat at table with Rabbi and uttered not a word. Whereupon he said: Give the young men plenty of strong wine,7  so that they may say something. When the wine took effect, they began by saying: The son of David8  cannot appear ere the two ruling houses in Israel shall have come to an end, viz., the Exilarchate, in Babylon and the Patriarchate in Palestine, for it is written, And he shall be for a Sanctuary, for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both houses of Israel.9  Thereupon he [Rabbi] exclaimed: You throw thorns in my eyes, my children!10  At this, R. Hiyya [his disciple] remarked: Master, be not angered, for the numerical value of the letters of yayin11  is seventy, and likewise the letters of sod:12  When yayin [wine] goes in, sod [secrets] comes out.

R. Hisda said in Mar 'Ukba's name — others state, R. Hisda quoted from a lecture of Mari b. Mar: What is meant by the verse, And so the Lord hath hastened13  the evil and brought it upon us, for the Lord our God is righteous?14  Because God is righteous He hastened with the evil and brought it upon us! — Even so: the Holy One, blessed be He, did a righteous [i.e., charitable] thing unto Israel in that he anticipated the exile of Zedekiah while the exile of Jechoniah was yet in being,15  for it is written with reference to the latter, And the craftsmen [he-harash] and the smiths [masger], a thousand.16  Harash,17  implies, as soon as they opened a [learned] discussion, all [the others] became as though deaf.18  Masger:19  i.e., when they closed [the discussion of] a halachah, it was not reopened.20  And how many were they? — A thousand.

'Ulla said: He advanced [the exile by] two years as compared with the period indicated by we-noshantem.21  R. Aha b. Jacob said: We infer from this that the 'speediness' of the Lord of the universe meant eight hundred and fifty-two years.22


Our Rabbis taught: Man was created alone.23  And why so? — That the Sadducees24  might not say: There are many ruling powers in Heaven. Another answer is: For the sake of the righteous and the wicked; that the righteous might not say: 'Ours is a righteous heredity.'25  and that the wicked might not say: 'Ours is an evil heredity.'26  Another answer is: For the sake of [the different] families, that they might not quarrel with each other.27  Now, if at present, though but one was [originally] created,28  they quarrel. how much more if two had been created!29  Another answer is: Because of robbers and plunderers: I.e., If at present, though but one was originally created, people rob and plunder, how much more had two been created.30

AND AGAIN, TO PROCLAIM THE GREATNESS OF etc. Our Rabbis taught: [The creation of the first man alone] was to show forth the greatness of the Supreme King of kings, the Holy One, blessed be He. For if a man mints many coins from one mould, they are all alike, but the Holy One, blessed be He, fashioned all men in the mould of the first man, and not one resembles the other, for it is written, It is changed as clay under the seal and they stand as a garment.31  And why are men's faces not like one another? — Lest a man see a beautiful dwelling or a beautiful woman and say, 'She is mine for it is written, But from the wicked their light is withholden and the high arm is broken.32

It has been taught: R. Meir used to say: In three things man differs from his fellow: In voice, appearance and mind [i.e., thoughts]. In voice and appearance', to prevent unchastity;33  'In mind', because of thieves and robbers.34

Our Rabbis taught: Adam was created [last of all beings] on the eve of Sabbath. And why? — Lest the Sadducees say: The Holy One, blessed be He, had a partner [viz., Adam] in His work of creation. Another answer is: In order that, if a man's mind becomes [too] proud, he may be reminded that the gnats preceded him in the order of creation. Another answer is: That he might immediately enter upon the fulfilment of a precept.35  Another answer is: That he might straightway go in to the banquet.36  The matter may be compared to a king of flesh and blood who built palaces and furnished them, prepared a banquet, and thereafter brought in the the guests. For it is written: Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars. She hath prepared her meat, she hath mingled her wine, she hath also furnished her table. She hath sent forth her maidens, she calleth upon the highest places of the city.37  Wisdom hath builded her house, — this is the attribute of the Holy One, blessed be He, who created the world by wisdom. She hath hewn out her seven pillars, — these are the seven days of creation. She hath prepared her meat, she hath mingled her wine, she hath also furnished her table, — these are the seas and the rivers and all the other requirements of the world. She hath sent forth her maidens, she calleth, — this refers to Adam and Eve. Upon the highest places of the city; Rabbah b. Bar Hana opposed [two verses]. It is written, Upon the top of the highest places.38  But elsewhere it is written, On a seat on the high places.39  — At first40  he was seated upon the 'top' of the highest places, but subsequently upon a 'seat'.

Whoso is thoughtless, let him turn in hither; as for him that lacketh understanding, she saith to him.41  The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Who was it that enticed him? — A woman42  hath spoken to him, for it is written, He that committeth adultery with a woman, lacketh understanding.43

It has been taught: R. Meir used to say: The dust of the first man was gathered from all parts of the earth, for it is written, Thine eyes did see mine unformed substance,44  and further it is written, The eyes of the Lord run to and fro through the whole earth.45  R. Oshaiah said in Rab's name: Adam's trunk came from Babylon,

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. His mother.
  2. For lack of room in prison, v. Lev. Rab. XIX.
  3. [H] 'God asked'.
  4. Which He had made, to punish Jechoniah with childlessness.
  5. [H].
  6. They were twins. Cf. Yeb. 65b.
  7. Lit., 'Make the wine strong for the young men.'
  8. I.e., the Messiah.
  9. Isa. VIII, 14.
  10. They were foretelling the abolition of the Nasi's office which he, Rabbi, occupied.
  11. [H] 10 + 10 + 50 = 70. [Ms.M. omits [H] letters. If retained it must be taken as a direct translation of the Gr. grammata derived from gramma 'letter', hence the equivalent of [H], cf. Rashi. V. Gandz, S., op. cit. 90 and J.E. V, 589.]
  12. [H] 60 + 6 + 4 = 70.
  13. For this meaning of [H] (E.V. 'watched over'), cf. Jer. I, 12: [H] hasten.
  14. Dan. IX, 14.
  15. So that the great scholars who were exiled with Jechoniah were still alive to transmit their traditional teachings to their posterity (Rashi.)
  16. II Kings XXIV, 16.
  17. [H], 'craftsman' or 'deaf' (with different pointing in each case).
  18. I.e., they overwhelmed them with the depth of their wisdom
  19. [H] (E.V. 'smith') from [H] 'to close'.
  20. None would presume to cast the least doubt on their ruling.
  21. And ye shall have been long (lit., 'grown old'). Deut. IV, 25. The numerical value of [H] (6 + 50 + 6 + 300 + 50 + 400 + 40) is eight hundred and fifty-two. Subtracting two years according to this Haggadah, there are eight hundred and fifty years left, which is the length of time between Israel's entry into Palestine and the destruction of the Temple. The Temple was erected in the four hundred and eightieth year from the Exodus out of Egypt, and it stood for four hundred and ten years. Subtracting forty years for the period of their wanderings in the desert, we reach a total of eight hundred and fifty years that acceleration by two years is here regarded as a 'righteous' (i.e., charitable) act, since it averted the complete destruction threatened in Deut. IV, 26.
  22. For the following verse states, Ye shall speedily perish completely from off the land. Thus by 'speedily' God meant 852 years, alluded to by we-noshantem.
  23. I.e., only one man was created.
  24. Many early versions have Minim in this place and in several other instances further on. [H] must have been inserted by the censors, v. p. 234. n. 4.
  25. And therefore we have no need to avoid temptation.
  26. And therefore we have no power to resist temptation.
  27. On the superiority of their respective ancestry.
  28. I.e., when they all descend from one father.
  29. I.e., if they came from different stocks.
  30. In which case some might claim that the land originally belonged to their first ancestor.
  31. Job XXXVIII, 14.
  32. Ibid. 15, their light = 'their visage', i.e., it is not like their neighbour's; the high arm = 'the excuse for high-handed action'.
  33. In order that the sexes might not be confused either in the darkness or the light.
  34. Who cannot be trusted to know the secrets of others
  35. The hallowing of the Sabbath.
  36. I.e., that all nature should be ready for his use.
  37. Prov. IX, 1-3.
  38. Prov. IX, 3.
  39. Prov. IX 14, which denotes a lower station (Rashi). Tosaf. reverses their significance.
  40. Before his sin. Tosaf. At first, before Eve was created, he merely sat on the top etc., but afterwards, Eve's creation raised him to a higher pinnacle, so that he had a throne set for him.
  41. Ibid. 4.
  42. Who is referred to as enticing.
  43. Ibid. VI, 32.
  44. Ps. CXXXIX, 16.
  45. Zech. IV, 10. Adam's substance was seen by the look of the Lord which sweeps through the whole world. [This is perhaps another way of teaching the 'equality of man', all men having been formed from one and the same common clay, v. Bacher, AT, II, 65.]
Tractate List

Sanhedrin 38b

his head from Erez Yisrael,1  his limbs from other lands, and his private parts, according to R. Aha, from Akra di Agma.2

R. Johanan3  b. Hanina said: The day consisted of twelve hours. In the first hour, his [Adam's] dust was gathered; in the second, it was kneaded into a shapeless mass. In the third, his limbs were shaped;4  in the fourth, a soul was infused into him; in the fifth, he arose and stood on his feet; in the sixth, he gave [the animals] their names; in the seventh, Eve became his mate; in the eighth, they ascended to bed as two and descended as four;5  in the ninth, he was commanded not to eat of the tree, in the tenth, he sinned; in the eleventh, he was tried, and in the twelfth he was expelled [from Eden] and departed, for it is written, Man abideth6  not in honour.7

Rami b. Hama said: A wild beast has no dominion over man unless he appears to it as a brute,8  for it is written. Men are overruled9  when they appear as beasts.10

(Mnemonic: When;11  The End; Aramaic.)

Rab Judah said in Rab's name: When the Holy One, blessed be He, wished to create man, He [first] created a company of ministering angels and said to them: Is it your desire that we make a man in our image? They answered: Sovereign of the Universe, what will be his deeds? Such and such will be his deeds, He replied. Thereupon they exclaimed: Sovereign of the Universe, What is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou thinkest of him?12  Thereupon He stretched out His little finger among them and consumed them with fire. The same thing happened with a second company. The third company said to Him: Sovereign of the Universe, what did it avail the former [angels] that they spoke to Thee [as they did]? the whole world is Thine, and whatsoever that Thou wishest to do therein, do it. When He came to the men of the Age of the flood and of the division [of tongues] whose deeds were corrupt, they said to Him: Lord of the Universe, did not the first [company of angels] speak aright? Even to old age I am the same, and even to hoar hairs will I carry,13  He retorted.

Rab Judah said in Rab's name: The first man reached from one end of the world to the other, as it is written, Since the day that God created man upon the eath, even from the one end of Heaven unto the other.14  But when he sinned, the Holy One, blessed be He, laid His hand upon him and diminished him, as it is written, Thou hast hemmed me in behind and before, and laid Thy hands upon me.15  R. Eleazar said: The first man reached from earth to heaven, as it is written, Since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from one end of the Heaven [to the other].16  But when he sinned, the Holy One, blessed be He, laid His hand upon him and diminished him, for it is written, Thou hast hemmed me in behind and before etc.15  But these verses contradict each other! — Both measurements are identical.17

Rab Judah also said in Rab's name: The first man spoke Aramaic,18  for it is written, How weighty are thy thoughts unto me, God.19  And that is what Resh Lakish meant when he said: What is the meaning of the verse, 'This is the book of the generations of Adam?20  It is to intimate that the Holy One, blessed be He, showed him [Adam] every generation and its thinkers,21  every generation and its sages. When he came to the generation of Rabbi Akiba, he [Adam] rejoiced at his learning but was grieved at his death,22  and said: How weighty23  are Thy friends24  to me, O God.19

Rab Judah also said in Rab's name: Adam was a Min,25  for it is written, And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou?26  i.e., whither has thine heart turned? R. Isaac said: He practised episplasm:27  For here it is written, But like man, [Adam] they have transgressed the covenant;28  whilst elsewhere it is said, He hath broken my covenant,29  R. Nahman said: He denied God.30  Here it is written, They have transgressed the covenant;28  whilst elsewhere it is stated, [He hath broken my covenant,31  and again,] Because they forsook the covenant of the Lord their God.32

We learnt elsewhere:33  R. Eliezer said: Be diligent to learn the Torah and know how to answer an Epikoros.34  R. Johanan commented: They taught this only with respect to a Gentile Epikoros; with a Jewish Epikoros, it would only make his heresy more pronounced.35

R. Johanan sad: In all the passages which the Minim have taken [as grounds] for their heresy,36  their refutation is found near at hand. Thus: Let us make man in our image,37  — And God created [sing.] man in His own image;38  Come, let us go down and there confound their language,39  — And the Lord came down [sing.] to see the city and the tower;40  Because there were revealed [plur.] to him God,41  — Unto God who answereth [sing.] me in the day of my distress;42  For what great nation is there that hath God so nigh [plur.] unto it, as the Lord our God is [unto us] whensoever we call upon Him [sing.];43  And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, [like] Israel, whom God went [plur.] to redeem for a people unto himself [sing.],44  Till thrones were placed and one that was ancient did sit.45

Why were these46  necessary? To teach R. Johanan's dictum; viz.: The Holy One, blessed be He, does nothing without consulting His Heavenly Court,47  for it is written, The matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the sentence by the word of the Holy Ones.48  Now, that is satisfactory for all [the other verses], but how explain Till thrones were placed? — One [throne] was for Himself and one for David.49  Even as it has been taught: One was for Himself and one for David: this is R. Akiba's view. R. Jose protested to him: Akiba, how long will thou profane the Shechinah?50  Rather, one [throne] for justice, and the other for mercy. Did he accept [this answer] from him or not? Come and hear! For it has been taught: One is for justice and the other for charity; this is R. Akiba's view. Said R. Eleazar b. Azariah to him: Akiba, what hast thou to do with Aggada? Confine thyself to [the study of] Nega'im and Ohaloth.51  But one was a throne, the other a footstool: a throne for a seat and a footstool in support of His feet.

R. Nahman said: He who is as skilled in refuting the Minim as is R. Idith,52  let him do so; but not otherwise. Once a Min said to R. Idith: It is written, And unto Moses He said, Come up to the Lord.53  But surely it should have stated, Come up unto me! — It was Metatron54  [who said that], he replied, whose name is similar to that of his Master,55  for it is written, For my name is in him.56  But if so, [he retorted,] we should worship him! The same passage, however, — replied R. Idith says: Be not rebellious57  against him, i.e., exchange Me not for him. But if so,58  why is it stated: He will not pardon your transgression?59  He answered: By our troth60  we would not accept him even as a messenger,61  for it is written, And he said unto him, If Thy [personal] presence go not etc.62

A Min once said to R. Ishmael b. Jose: It is written, Then the Lord caused to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord:63  but from him should have been written! A certain fuller64  said, Leave him to me, I will answer him. [He then proceeded,' It is written, And Lamech said to his wives, Ada and Zillah, Hear my voice, ye wives of Lamech;65  but he should have said, my wives! But such is the Scriptural idiom — so here too, it is the Scriptural idiom.

Whence do you know that? asked he [R. Ishmael]. — I heard it in a public discourse66  of R. Meir, [he answered]. Even as R. Johanan said: When R. Meir used to deliver his public discourses, a third was Halacha, a third Haggadah, and a third consisted of parables. R Johanan also said: R. Meir had three hundred parables of foxes, and we have only three left,67

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. His head, the most exalted part of his body, comes from Eretz Yisrael the most exalted of all lands.
  2. [A town near Pumbeditha (Obermeyer, op. cit. 237, n. 3), notorious on account of the loose morals of its inhabitants, v. Ginzberg, Legends V, 15.]
  3. V. l.: R. Ahai.
  4. Lit., 'Extended'.
  5. I.e., Cain and his twin sister were born. V. Yeb. 62a. Abel and his other twin sister were born after they sinned. V. Tosaf. a.l.
  6. [H], lit., 'tarrieth not over night'.
  7. Ps. XLIX, 13.
  8. Man's majesty keeps the wild beasts in check only as long as he does not descent to their level.
  9. [H], He is like the beasts that perish.
  10. Ps. XLIX, 13.
  11. Lit., 'hour'.
  12. Ps. VIII, 5.
  13. Isa. XLVI, 4. I.e., I shall suffer mankind under all conditions.
  14. Deut. IV, 32.
  15. Ps. CXXXIX, 5.
  16. Rashal rightly deletes the bracketed passage, because on this dictum the verse must be read: He created man upon the earth and reaching up to the end of Heaven, i.e., he reached from earth to Heaven.
  17. [The gigantic stature of Adam plays an important part in the system of many Gnostic sects, v. Ginzberg, op. cit. V, 79.]
  18. [This may have been said in justification of the abandonment by the Babylonian Jews of the Hebrew language in favour of Aramaic.]
  19. Ps. CXXXIX, 17. This Psalm deals with the creation of man. [H] 'weighty', and [H] 'thoughts' are Aramaisms.
  20. Gen. V, 1.
  21. Lit., 'exponents'.
  22. R. Akiba was executed by Tineius Rufus after being most cruelly tortured. Cf. Ber. 61b.
  23. Perhaps to be understood here with a twofold meaning: weighty = honoured; and weighty = a source of heaviness and grief.
  24. [H] is probably here taken in its usual Hebrew meaning, 'Thy friends'.
  25. V. Glos. V. p. 234, n. 4; it is to be observed that Min is contrasted (in the next passage) with unbeliever.
  26. Gen. III, 9.
  27. I.e., he removed the mark of circumcision.
  28. Hos. VI, 7.
  29. Gen. XVII, 14. with reference to circumcision.
  30. Lit., 'the fundamental (principle)'.
  31. Gen. XVII, 14. Ms.M. omits the bracketed passage; rightly so, for it is irrelevant.
  32. Jer. XXII, 9, referring to belief in God.
  33. Aboth II, 14.
  34. Who endeavours to draw support from the Torah for his beliefs. [H] is derived from the personal name, Epicurus, and is adopted by the Talmud for the sake of the play upon the word [H] 'to be free from restraint'. To denote one who denies God and his commandments, v. Herford, Christianity in Talmud p. 120.
  35. Lit., 'He is more lawless.' With him, therefore, discussion is not advised since he is deliberate in his negation and not therefore easily dissuaded (Rashi).
  36. E.g., where God is spoken of in the plural.
  37. Gen. I, 26.
  38. Ibid. 27.
  39. Gen. XI, 7.
  40. Ibid. 5.
  41. Ibid. XXXV, 7.
  42. Ibid. 3.
  43. Deut. IV, 7.
  44. II Sam. VII, 23.
  45. Dan. VII, 9.
  46. Plural forms.
  47. [H], 'family'v. p. 675.
  48. Dan. IV, 14.
  49. The Messiah.
  50. By asserting that a human being sit beside Him.
  51. Names of Treatises in the Seder Tohoroth, the most difficult in the whole of the Talmud. V. infra 67b. R. Akiba was a great authority on these laws, whereas his Haggadic interpretations were not always acceptable. [This interpretation involved the same danger as that of R. Akiba's first interpretation in that it tended to obscure the true monotheistic concept of God.]
  52. [Ms.M.: R. Idi.]
  53. Ex. XXIV, 1.
  54. Name of an Angel, probably derived from metator, guide. In Talmud and Midrash he is regarded notably as the defender of the rights of Israel (cf. Hag. 16a).
  55. Cf. Rashi on Ex. XXIII, 21. The numerical value of Metatron ([H]) is equal to that of [H] (the Almighty) viz. 314.
  56. Ex. XXIII, 21.
  57. [H] is here taken, in the sense of 'exchange', from [H].
  58. That he is not to be worshipped, but God alone.
  59. Ibid. Surely, he has no authority to do so.
  60. Lit., 'we hold the belief.'
  61. Lit., 'Postman' — of forgiveness.
  62. Ex. XXXIII, 15. [The Min was a believer in the doctrine of two rulers and he sought support for this belief from Ex. XXIV, 1. R. Idith met his argument by showing that even Metatron was accepted by Jews only as guide, and in no sense a second god. For a full discussion of the passage, v. Herford, op. cit. p. 285ff.]
  63. Gen. XIX, 24
  64. A figure frequently mentioned in the Talmud as of a specific type. V. e.g., Ber. 28a, Ned. 41a. [In Roman literature, he is an object of ridicule; in rabbinic lore, he plays a more dignified role.]
  65. Gen. IV, 23.
  66. [H] v. supra p. 178 n. 3.
  67. Probably of those collected by R. Meir, since many other fox fables are found scattered throughout the Talmud and Midrash. Cf. Ber. 61b; Eccl. Rab. V. 14.
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