And Caleb stilled [wa-yahas] the people concerning Moses7 — Rabbah said, [It means] that he won them over [hissithan] with words. When Joshua began to address them, they said to him, 'Would this person with the lopped-off head8 speak to us!' [Caleb] said [to himself], If I address them [in the same strain as Joshua], they will answer me in like manner and silence me; so he said to them, 'Is it this alone that Amram's son has done to us!'9 They thought that he was speaking to censure Moses, so they were silent. Then he said to them, 'He brought us out of Egypt, divided the Red Sea for us and fed us with manna. If he were to tell us, Prepare ladders and ascend to heaven, should we not obey him! Let us go up at once and possess it etc.'10
But the men that went up with him said: We will not be able etc.11 R. Hanina b. Papa said: A grievous statement did they make at that moment, viz. For they are stronger than we — read not than we but than He;12 as it were even the master of the house cannot remove his furniture from there.13
It is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof.14 Raba expounded: The Holy One, blessed be He, said: I intended this for good15 but they thought it in a bad sense. I intended this for good, because wherever [the spies] came, the chief [of the inhabitants] died, so that they should be occupied [with his burial] and not inquire about them.16 (Others say that Job died then and the whole world was occupied with mourning for him.) But they thought it in a bad sense: It is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof.17
And we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.18 R. Mesharsheya said: The spies were liars. As regards 'we were in our own sight as grasshoppers', very well; but how could they know that 'so we were in their sight'? But it is not so;19 for when [the inhabitants] held their funeral-meal20 they ate it beneath cedar trees, and when [the spies] saw them they climbed the trees and sat there. Then they heard them say: 'We see men like grasshoppers in the trees'.
And all the congregation lifted up their voice and wept.21 Rabbah said in the name of R. Johanan: That day was the ninth of Ab;22 and the Holy One, blessed be He, said: They are now weeping for nothing, but I will fix [this day] for them as an occasion of weeping for generations.
But all the congregation bade them stone them with stones,23 and it continues, And the glory of the Lord appeared in the tent of meeting. R. Hiyya b. Abba said: It teaches that they took stones and hurled them against Him Who is above.24
Even those men that did bring up an evil report of the land died by the plague.25 R. Simeon b. Lakish said: They died an unnatural death.26 R. Hanina b. Papa said: R. Shila of Kefar Temarthah expounded; It27 teaches that their tongue was elongated and reached down to their navel, and worms issued from their tongue and penetrated their navel and from their navel they penetrated their tongue. R. Nahman b. Isaac said: They died of croup.28
When29 the last of the Israelites ascended from the Jordan, the waters returned to their place; as it is said: And it came to pass, when the priests that bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord were come up out of the midst of the Jordan, and the soles of the priests' feet were lifted up unto the dry ground, that the waters of Jordan returned unto their place, and went over all its banks, as aforetime.30 Consequently the ark and its bearers and the priests were on one side [of the Jordan] and the Israelites on the other!31 The ark carried its bearers and passed over [the river]; as it is said: And it came to pass, when all the people were clean passed over, that the ark of the Lord passed over, and the priests, in the presence of the people.32 On that account was Uzza punished, as it is said: And when they came unto the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzza put forth his hand to hold the ark.33 The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, 'Uzza, [the ark] carried its bearers; must it not all the more [be able to carry] itself!'
And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah; and God smote him there for his error [shal] etc.34 R. Johanan and R. Eleazar [differ on the interpretation of the word 'shal']. One said [that it means] on account of the act of error [shalu];35 the other said [that it means] he relieved himself in its presence.36
And there he died by37 the ark of God. R. Johanan said: Uzzah entered the World to Come, as it is stated 'with the ark of God' — as the ark endures for ever, so Uzzah entered the World to Come.
And David was angry, because the Lord had broken forth upon Uzzah.38 R. Eleazar said: His face was changed [so that it became in colour] like a cake baked upon the coals [hararah]. Are we to infer from this that wherever wa-yihar occurs it has this meaning? — In other passages the word 'af [anger] is added but here it is not added.
Raba expounded: Why was David punished?39 Because he called words of Torah 'songs', as it is said: Thy statutes have been my songs in the house of my pilgrimage.40 The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, 'Words of Torah, of which it is written: Wilt thou set thine eyes upon it? It is gone,41 thou recitest as songs! I will cause thee to stumble in a matter which even school-children know.' For it is written: But unto the sons of Kohath he gave none, because the service of the sanctuary etc.;42 and yet [David] brought it in a waggon.
And he smote of the men of Beth-Shemesh, because they looked into the ark.43 God smote them because they looked into the ark! R. Abbahu and R. Eleazar [differ in their interpretation]; one said that they went on reaping while they prostrated themselves [before the ark];44 the other said that they also used this [disrespectful] language to it,
Sotah 35b'Who embittered thee that thou wast thus embittered,1 and what has come upon thee that thou art now appeased?'
Even He smote of the people seventy men and fifty thousand men.2 R. Abbahu and R. Eleazar [differ in their interpretation]; one said that there were only seventy men [smitten] each of whom was the equal of fifty thousand men, while the other said that there were fifty thousand men [smitten] each of whom was equal to the seventy who constituted the Sanhedrin.
And it was so, that when they that bore the ark of the Lord had gone six paces, he sacrificed an ox and a fatling,3 and it is also written, [They sacrificed] seven bullocks and seven rams!4 — R. Papa said in the name of Samuel: [The two passages are reconciled by supposing that] at each pace an ox and a fatling [were offered] and at each six paces seven bullocks and seven rams. R. Hisda said to him, On your theory you filled the whole of the land of Israel with high places! But, said R. Hisda, at each six paces an ox and a fatling [were offered] and at each six sets of six paces seven bullocks and seven rams.
In consequence [of what is related in the Scriptures], you must conclude that there were three sets of stones: one which Moses caused to be erected in the land of Moab, as it is said: Beyond Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare etc.,7 and elsewhere it states: Thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law [very plainly],8 and the inference is drawn from the use of the analogous word [that as in the latter passage stones were employed, they were similarly employed in connection with what is narrated in the first passage]. The second set was that which Joshua caused to be erected in the midst of the Jordan, as it is said: And Joshua set up twelve stones in the midst of Jordan.9 The third set was that which he caused to be erected in Gilgal, as it is said: And those twelve stones which they took.10
Our Rabbis taught: How did the Israelites inscribe the Torah? — R. Judah says: They inscribed it upon the stones, as it is stated: 'Thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law etc.' After that they plastered them over with plaster. R. Simeon said to him, According to your explanation, how did the nations of that period learn the Torah!11 — He replied to him, The Holy One, blessed be He, endowed them with exceptional intelligence; and they sent their scribes who peeled off the plaster and carried away [a copy of the inscription]. On that account was the verdict sealed against them [to descend] to the pit of destruction, because it was their duty to learn [Torah] but they failed to do so. R. Simeon says: They inscribed it upon the plaster and wrote below, That they teach you not to do after all [their abominations].12 Hence you learn that if they turn in penitence they would be accepted. Raba b. Shila said: What is R. Simeon's reason? — Because it is written: And the peoples shall be as the burnings of lime13 — i.e., on account of the matter of the plaster.14 And [how does] R. Judah [explain this verse]? — [Their destruction will be] like plaster — as there is no other remedy for plaster except burning, so there is no other remedy for those nations [who cleave to the abominations] except burning. According to whom [is the following teaching] which has been taught: And thou carriest them away captive15 — this is to include Canaanites who reside outside the land [of Israel] so if they turn in penitence they will be accepted.
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