|1 [He said this] because his
father and mother had not taught him [to serve the Lord], and straightway
he brought forth an idol from his bosom, embracing and kissing it, until
his stomach burst, his idol fell to the earth, and he upon it, thus fulfilling
the verse, And I shall cast your carcases upon the carcases of your
idols.2 — That too was after they
became addicted thereto.
Come and hear: And they cried with a loud voice unto the Lord their God.3 Now what did they say? — Rab Judah, or as others maintain R. Jonathan said: [They cried this:] 'Woe, woe, it is that [sc. idolatry] which destroyed the Sanctuary, burnt the Temple, slew the righteous, and exiled Israel from their land; and still it sports amongst us! Hast Thou not set it before us that we might be rewarded [for withstanding its allurements]? But we desire neither temptation nor reward!'4 — That too was after they were seduced by it. [Continuing Rab Judah's statement:] They fasted for three days, entreating for mercy; thereafter their sentence fell from Heaven, the word emeth [truth] written upon it. (R. Hanina said: This proves that the seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is emeth.) The shape of a fiery lion's whelp issued from the Holy of Holies, and the Prophet said to Israel, That is the Tempter of Idolatry. Whilst they held it fast, a hair [of its body] fell out, and his roar of pain was heard for 400 parasangs.5 [In perplexity] they cried: 'What shall we do? Maybe Heaven will pity him !' The prophet answered: Cast him into a lead cauldron, and cover it with lead to absorb his voice, as it is written, And he said, This is wickedness; and he cast it into the midst of the ephah: and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth
thereof.6 Then they said, 'Since the time is propitious, let us pray that the Tempter of Sin [may likewise be delivered into our hands].' So they prayed and it was delivered into their hands. They imprisoned it for three days; after that they sought a new laid egg for an invalid in the whole of Palestine and could not find one.7 Then they said, 'What shall we do? Shall we pray that his power be but partially destroyed?8 Heaven will not grant it.' So they blinded it with rouge. This was so far effective that one does not lust for his forbidden relations.
Rab Judah said in Rab's name: A gentile woman once fell sick. She vowed, 'If I recover, I will go and serve every idol in the world.' She recovered, and proceeded to serve all idols. On reaching Peor, she asked its priests, 'How is this worshipped'? They replied, 'People eat beets, drink strong drink, and then uncover themselves before it.' She replied, 'I would rather fall sick again than serve an idol in such a manner.' But ye, O House of Israel,9 were not so [as it is written, Slay ye every one his men] that were joined unto Baal Peor:10 ye were attached to it like an air-tight lid.11 Whereas, Whilst ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God,12 implies merely like two dates sticking to each other.13 In a Baraitha it has been taught: that were joined unto Baal Peor: [loosely] like a bracelet on the hands of a woman;14 whereas Whilst ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God indicates that they were firmly attached.15
Our Rabbis taught: Sabta, a townsman of Avlas,16 once hired an ass to a gentile woman. When she came to Peor, she said to him, 'Wait till I enter and come out again.' On her issuing, he said to her, 'Now do you wait for me too until I go in and come out again.'
'But,' said she, 'are you not a Jew?' He replied, 'What does it concern thee?' He then entered, uncovered himself before it, and wiped himself on the idol's nose, whilst the acolytes praised him, saying, 'No man has ever served this idol thus.'
He that uncovers himself before Baal Peor thereby serves it, even if his intention was to degrade it. He who casts a stone at Merculis thereby serves it, even if his intention was to bruise it.
R. Manasseh was going to Be Toratha.17 On the way he was told, 'An idol stands here.' He took up a stone and threw it at the idol's statue. Thereupon they said to him: 'It is Merculis'. He said to them, 'But we have learned, HE WHO CASTS A STONE FOR MERCULIS18 THEREBY SERVES IT.' So he went and inquired at the Beth Hamidrash [whether he had done wrong, since his action was a gesture of contempt]. They informed him, We have learned, HE WHO CASTS A STONE AT MERCULIS19 [thereby serves it] — that is to say even if it is merely to bruise it. He said to them, 'Then I will go and remove it.' But they replied, 'Whether one casts a stone or removes it, he incurs guilt, because every stone thus removed leaves room for another.'
MISHNAH. HE WHO GIVES OF HIS SEED TO MOLECH INCURS NO PUNISHMENT UNLESS HE DELIVERS IT TO MOLECH AND CAUSES IT TO PASS THROUGH THE FIRE. IF HE GAVE IT TO MOLECH BUT DID NOT CAUSE IT TO PASS THROUGH THE FIRE, OR THE REVERSE, HE INCURS NO PENALTY, UNLESS HE DOES BOTH.
view that Molech worship is not idolatry. For it has been taught, [if one causes his seed to pass through the fire,] whether to Molech or to any other idol he is liable [to death]. R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon said: If to Molech, he is liable; if to another idol, he is not.
Abaye said: R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon and R. Hanina b. Antigonus said the one and same thing. R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon, that which has just been stated. R. Hanina b. Antigonus — as it has been taught: R. Hanina b. Antigonus said: Why did the Torah employ the word Molech? To teach that the same law applies to whatever they proclaimed as their king, even a pebble or a splinter.22 Rabina23 said: The difference between them is in respect of a temporary Molech.24
R. Jannai said: Punishment is not incurred unless one delivers his seed to the acolytes of Molech,1 for it is said, And thou shalt not give of thy seed to pass through the fire to Molech.2 It has been taught likewise: I might think, that if one caused his seed to pass through the fire to Molech, without first delivering it to the priests, he is liable: therefore the Writ teaches, Thou shalt not give. If he gave it to the priests, but did not cause it to pass through the fire, I might think that he is liable: therefore the Writ states, to pass through. If one delivered it [to the priests of Molech], but caused it to pass through to some other deity, I might think that he is punished: therefore the Writ teaches, to Molech. Now, if he delivered it to the priests and caused it to pass to Molech, but not through the fire, I might think that he is liable:
but, as here is written, to pass through; and elsewhere it is stated, There shall not he found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire:3 just as there, the reference is to fire, so here too; and just as here the reference is to Molech, so there too.
R. Aha the son of Raba said: If one caused all his seed to pass through [the fire] to Molech, he is exempt from punishment, because it is written, of thy seed implying, but not all thy seed.4
R. Ashi propounded: What if one caused his blind or sleeping son to pass through,5 or if he caused his grandson by his son or daughter to pass through? — One at least of these you may solve. For it has been taught: [Any men … that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall he put to death … And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people;] because he hath given of his seed unto Molech.6 Why is this stated?7 — Because it is said, there shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire.8 From this I know it only of his son or daughter. Whence do I know that it applies to his son's son or daughter's son too? From the verse, [And if the people of the land do any ways hide their eyes from the man] when he giveth of his seed unto Molech [and kill him not: Then I will … cut him off.]9
Now the Tanna commences with the verse, 'because he hath given of his seed', but concludes with 'when he giveth of his seed'? — This is to intimate another deduction.10 Thus: [because he hath given] of his seed: From this I know only that the law applies to legitimate seed [that being the normal meaning of the word]; whence do I know that it also applies to illegitimate seed?11 — From the verse, when he giveth of his seed.12
Rab Judah said: He is only liable to punishment if he causes his seed to pass through in the normal way. How is that? — Abaye said: There was a loose pile of bricks in the middle, and fire on either side of it.13 Raba said: It was like the children's leaping about on Purim.14 It has been taught in support of Raba. Punishment is incurred only for causing one's seed to pass in the normal fashion; if he caused him to pass through on foot, he is exempt.15 He is liable only for his own issue; e.g., for his son and daughter, he is punished; but for his father or mother, brother or sister, he is not. If he passed through himself, he is free from punishment.16 R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon ruled that he is liable. Further, whether to Molech or to any other idol, he is liable. R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon said: If to Molech, he is liable; if to another idol, he is not.
Ulla said: What is R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon's reason? — Scripture saith, There shall not be found among thee …17 'among thee' means in thyself.18 And the Rabbis? Do they not interpret 'among thee' thus? Surely we have learnt: If one must search for a lost article of his own and of his father's, priority is given to his own. And we observed thereon: Why so? — To which Rab Judah replied: Scripture saith, Save that there shall be no poor among thee,19 teaching
that one's own loss has priority over that of any other man?20 There the deduction follows from 'save that'.21
R. Jose, son of R. Hanina said: Why is extinction thrice threatened for idolatry?22 — One teaches extinction for the normal worship of idols; one for abnormal; and one for the service of Molech.23 But on the view that Molech worship is included in general idolatry, why is extinction mentioned in its case? — To apply to one who causes his son to pass through to an idol [not Molech], where such is not the normal mode of worship. Now, on the view that a megaddef24 is a worshipper of idols,22 why is extinction stated for it?25 — Even as it has been taught:26 That soul shall surely be cut off from among his people;27 he shall be cut off in this world and in the next: this is R. Akiba's view.28 R. Ishmael said: But the verse has previously stated 'that soul shall be cut off':29 are there then three worlds?30 But [interpret this:] 'and [that soul] shall be cut off' — in this world: 'he is to he cut off' — [of the following verse, and denoted by the infinitive]31 in the next; whilst as for the repetition [the finite form of the verb],32 that is because the Torah employs human phraseology.33
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