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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 78a

how1  could an Egyptian of the second generation ever attain purity!2  But is not this possible when he transgressed and did marry one?3  — Scripture4  would not have written of a case of 'when'.5  Behold the case of the bastard which is one of 'when'6  and yet Scripture did write it!7  — It wrote of a 'when' [leading] to a prohibition;8  it would not have written of a 'when' [if it led] to permissibility.9  Behold the case of the man who remarried his divorced wife,10  which involves a 'when' [leading] to a permitted act11  and yet did Scripture write of it! — In that case it was written mainly for the purpose of the original prohibition.12

Our Rabbis taught: If the expression of sons13  was used, why was also that of generations13  used; and if that of generations was used, why also that of sons?14  If the expression of 'sons' had been used and not that of 'generations'15  it might have been assumed that only the first and second son is forbidden but that the third16  is permitted, the expression of 'generations'17  was, therefore, used. And had the expression of 'generations' only been used and not that of sons,18  it might have been assumed that the precept was given only to those who stood at Mount Sinai,19  the expression of sons' was therefore used.20  Unto them,21  Count from them.22  Unto them.23  Be guided by the status of the ineligible among them.24

It was necessary [for Scripture] to write Unto them,25  and it was also necessary for it to write, That are born.25  For had the All Merciful written only. 'That are born', it might have been presumed that the counting must begin from their children,26  hence did the All Merciful write 'Unto them'.27  And had the All Merciful written only 'Unto them',28  it might have been presumed that, where a pregnant Egyptian woman became a proselyte, she and her child are regarded as one generation. hence did the All Merciful write. 'That are born'.29

It was, furthermore, necessary to write Unto them28  in this case,30  and Unto him31  in respect of the bastard. For had the All Merciful used the expression here only,30  [the restriction32  might have been assumed to apply to this case only], because the child descended from a tainted origin.33  but not to a bastard, since he is descended from an untainted origin.34  And had the All Merciful written the expression in respect of the bastard, [the restriction32  might have been presumed to apply to him only]. because he is for all time unfit to enter into the assembly, but not in this case.35  [Both texts were, therefore,] required.

Rabbah b. Bar Hana stated in the name of R. Johanan: If an Egyptian of the second generation married an Egyptian woman of the first generation, her son is [regarded as belonging to the] third generation. From this it is obvious that he36  is of the opinion that the child is ascribed to him.37

R. Joseph raised an objection: R. Tarfon said, 'Bastards may attain to purity. How? If a bastard married a female slave, their child is a slave. When, however, he38  is emancipated he becomes a free man'.39  This40  clearly proves that the child is ascribed to her! — There it is different, because Scripture said, The wife and her children shall be her master's.41

Raba raised an objection: R. Judah related, 'Menjamin, an Egyptian proselyte. was one of my colleagues among the disciples of R. Akiba, and he once told me: I am an Egyptian of the first generation and married an Egyptian wife of the first generation; and I shall arrange for my son to marry an Egyptian wife of the second generation in order that my grandson shall be eligible to enter the congregation'.42  Now, if it could be assumed that the child is ascribed to his father, [he could have married a wife] even of the first generation!43  — The fact is that44  R. Johanan said to the Tanna:45  Read, '[a woman of the] first generation'.

When R. Dimi came46  he stated in the name of R. Johanan: If an Egyptian of the second generation married an Egyptian wife of the first generation. her son is [regarded as belonging to the] second generation. From this it is obvious that a child is ascribed to his mother.

Said Abaye to him: What then of the following statement of R. Johanan. 'If a man set aside a pregnant beast as a sin-offering and it then gave birth, his atonement may be made, if he desires, with the beast itself, and, if he prefers, his atonement may be made with her young'.47  This law would be intelligible if you admit that an embryo is not regarded as a part48  of its mother, since this case would be similar to that of one who set aside as a security two sin-offerings,49  in respect of which R. Oshaia had stated that a man who set aside two sin-offerings as a security49  is to be atoned for with either of them, while the other goes to the pasture.50  If you maintain, however, that an embryo is a part51  of its mother, the former is like the young of a sin-offering,52  and the young of a sin-offering is sent to die!53  The other remained silent. 'Is it not possible', the first said to him, 'that there54  it is different.55  since it is written That are born,56  Scripture made it dependent on birth'?57  — 'Clever man',58  the other replied, 'I saw your chief59  between the pillars60  when R. Johanan gave the following traditional ruling: The reason61  here is because it was written, That are born;56  elsewhere, however, the child is ascribed to the father'.62

What, however, of the following statement of Raba. 'If a pregnant gentile woman was converted, there is no need for her son to perform ritual immersion'.63  Why64  is there no need for him to perform immersion? Should you reply that it65  is due to a ruling of R. Isaac; for R. Isaac stated: Pentateuchally [a covering of] the greater part,66  if one objects to it,67  constitutes legally an interposition,68  and if one does not object to,69  no legal interposition is constituted;70

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. If Egyptian women were not included in the prohibition to enter the assembly.
  2. Entry into the assembly. Egyptian women proselytes being regarded, like Israelites, as an assembly (v. supra n. 12), no Egyptian male proselyte of the first or second generations would ever be permitted to marry them. How then, since he can marry neither a woman of Israel nor a proselyte of his own people, would he ever produce a third generation (v. Deut. XXIII, 9) that would be fit to enter the assembly?
  3. A woman in Israel or an Egyptian woman proselyte.
  4. In permitting the third generation (v. Deut. XXIII, 9).
  5. I.e., of a possibility that a person might transgress and thus produce a generation that will be fit.
  6. The assumption of a bastard's birth is dependent on the possibility that someone will commit an offence.
  7. Ibid. 3.
  8. The case of the bastard was stated in order to forbid his entry into the assembly.
  9. The third generation may enter (ibid.).
  10. After she had been married to another man (v. Deut. XXIV, 1ff).
  11. The children of such a marriage, as deduced from Deut. XXIV, 4, are eligible. (Kid. 77a and supra 11b).
  12. The ineligibility of the woman herself. The eligibility of her children is only indirectly arrived at by a deduction.
  13. Cf. Deut. XXIII, 9: The sons (E.V., children) that are born … the third generation.
  14. Either the one expression or the other should have been used throughout the context.
  15. The text reading the 'third son' instead of third generation.
  16. Though the son of a proselyte of the first generation.
  17. Indicating all the sons of the same generation.
  18. Reading 'generations that are born'.
  19. And that Egyptians born three generations later than the date of the promulgation of the Law shall no more be subject to its restrictions.
  20. Indicating respectively individual sons in all subsequent generations.
  21. ovk Deut. XXIII, 9.
  22. From the generation of the proselyte. He represents the first generation; his son, the second; and his grandson, being of the third, is permitted to enter the congregation.
  23. A second ovk (v. p. 527. n. 18) not translated in E.V.
  24. Whether the father is an Egyptian proselyte and the mother is of Israel, or whether the mother is an Egyptian and the father is an Israelite. the children are in either case ineligible until the third generation.
  25. Deut. XXIII. 9.
  26. The proselytes themselves not being counted at all in the generations.
  27. To indicate that the proselytes themselves are regarded as the first generation.
  28. Deut. XXIII, 9.
  29. That birth constitutes a new generation:
  30. In respect of the Egyptian.
  31. Ibid. 3.
  32. That the ineligibility of any one of the parents causes the ineligibility of the child. Cf. supra note 2.
  33. Lit., 'drop'. One of his parents at least was ineligible.
  34. His father and mother may have been proper Israelites.
  35. Since an Egyptian is permitted after the third generation.
  36. R. Johanan.
  37. Had he been ascribed to her he should have been regarded as belonging to the second generation.
  38. The child.
  39. V. Kid. 69a.
  40. Since the child, prior to emancipation, is regarded as a slave.
  41. Ex. XXI, 4, indicating that in this particular case, (that of the children of a female slave), the children are ascribed to their mother. This is no proof, however, that in other cases also children are to be ascribed to their mother.
  42. Tosef. Kid. V; Sotah 9a; supra 76b.
  43. And the child would have been eligible by virtue of his father.
  44. Lit., 'surely'.
  45. Who recited the Baraitha mentioned.
  46. From Palestine to Babylon.
  47. Tem. 25a.
  48. Lit., 'thigh'.
  49. In case one should be lost, the other would take its place.
  50. Until it contracts a blemish, when it is redeemed. As the young and its mother spoken of in R. Johanan's statement are regarded as separate beasts, they also would be subject to the same law, and atonement may be made by either.
  51. Lit., 'thigh'.
  52. Which was without child at the time of its dedication.
  53. How', then, could R. Johanan state that atonement may be made with either?
  54. The ruling about the ascription of the Egyptian child to its mother, reported in the name of R. Johanan.
  55. From other cases. While elsewhere the child may be ascribed to its father, in the case spoken of by R. Johanan it is ascribed to the mother.
  56. Deut. XXIII, 9.
  57. I.e., on its mother.
  58. [H] (adj. of [H] or [H] 'head') 'mann von Kopf'. 'Geistreicher' v. Levy.
  59. Rabbah who was Abaye's teacher (v. Tosaf. s.v. [H] a.l., and cf. Tosaf. 'Er. 22b, s.v. [H]).
  60. Of the college.
  61. Why the children are ascribed to the mother.
  62. The suggestion was consequently not the result of Abaye's own ingenuity but a mere repetition of what he heard from his Master, Rabbah.
  63. Which forms a part of the conversion ceremonial. The immersion that had been performed by his mother exempts him also.
  64. If the child is elsewhere not regarded as part of its mother.
  65. The exemption of the child from the immersion.
  66. Of a hair (v. Rashi, Suk. 6b); that prevents it from coming in direct contact with the water.
  67. To the object or substance that causes the interposition.
  68. And invalidates the immersion.
  69. The presence of the interposition, when, e.g., it is necessary for it to remain there.
  70. 'Er. 4b, Nid. 67b. As the embryo must necessarily remain within its mother's body during the period of conception, it cannot possibly object, so to speak, to its mother's interposition.
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Yebamoth 78b

surely [it may be retorted] R. Kahana stated: This applies only in respect of its greater part, but when the whole of it is effected a legal interposition is constituted!1  — The case of the embryo is different since its position2  is that of its natural growth.3

When Rabina4  came, he stated in the name of R. Johanan: Among the other nations follow the male.5  If they are converted6  follow the more tainted of the two.7

'Among the other nations follow the male, as it was taught: Whence is it deduced that if one of the other nations8  cohabited with a Canaanitish9  woman and begat a son, that son may be purchased as a slave?10  It is said, Moreover of the children of the strangers11  that do sojourn among you, of them may ye buy.12  As it might have been assumed that even if one of the Canaanites9  had cohabited with one of the women of the other [gentile] nations8  and begat a son, you may buy that son as a slave, it was explicitly stated, That they have begotten in your land;12  only from those who were begotten13  in your land, but not from those who dwell in your land.14

'If they are converted, follow the more tainted of the two'. In what case? If it be suggested that it refers to an Egyptian15  who married an Ammonitess,16  how could the expression 'the more tainted of the two', be applicable when Scripture explicitly said, An Ammonite,'17  but not an Ammonitess?18  — Rather, the reference is to an Ammonite19  who married an Egyptian wife.20  If [the child of such a marriage] is a male, he is ascribed to the Ammonite;21  if it is a female, she is ascribed to the Egyptian.22


GEMARA. Resh Lakish said: A woman bastard is eligible25  after ten generations. This is derived from an analogy between tenth,26  and tenth27  mentioned in respect of the Ammonite and the Moabite; as in the latter case the females are permitted27  so are they permitted in the former case.28  Should you suggest that as in the latter case eligibility begins forthwith so it does in the former case, [it may be replied] that the analogy can only be effective in respect of the generations after the tenth.29  But, surely, we learned, BASTARDS AND NETHINIM ARE INELIGIBLE, AND THEIR INELIGIBILITY IS FOR ALL TIME, WHETHER THEY BE MALES OR FEMALES!30  — This is no difficulty: One statement31  is in agreement with him who holds32  that a deduction is carried through in all respects,33  while the other34  is in agreement with him who maintains32  that a deduction is restricted by its original basis.35

R. Eliezer was asked: What [is the legal position36  of] a female bastard after ten generations? 'Were anyone to present to me', he replied, 'a third generation. I would declare it pure!' He is obviously of the opinion [that the stock of] a bastard does not survive.37  So also did R. Huna state: A bastard's stock does not survive. Did we not learn, however, BASTARDS ARE INELIGIBLE, AND THEIR INELIGIBILITY IS FOR ALL TIME? — R. Zera replied: It was explained to me by Rab Judah that those who are known38  survive;39  those who are not known38  do not survive; and those who are partly known and partly unknown survive for three generations but no longer.

A certain man once lived in the neighbourhood of R. Ammi. and the latter made a public announcement that he was a bastard. As the other was bewailing the action,40  [the Master] said to him: I have given you life.41

R. Hana b. Adda stated: David issued the decree of prohibition42  against the nethinim,43  for it is said, And the king called the Gibeonites,44  and said unto them-now the Gibeonites were not of the children of Israel etc.45

Why did he issue the decree against them? — Because it is written. And there was a famine in the days of David three years. year after year.46  In the first year he said to them, 'It is possible that there are idolaters among you, for it is written, And serve other gods, and worship them … and he will shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain etc.'47  They instituted enquiries but could not discover any idolaters. In the second year he said to them, 'There may be transgressors among you, for it is written, Therefore the showers have been withheld and there hath been no latter rain; yet thou hadst a harlot's forehead etc.'48  Enquiries were made but none was found. In the third year he said to them, 'There might be among you men who announce specified sums for charity in public but do not give them, as it is written, As vapours and wind without rain, so is he that boasteth himself of a false gift'.49  Enquiries were made and none was found. 'The matter', he concluded, 'depends entirely upon me; Immediately, he sought the face of the Lord.46  What does this mean? — Resh Lakish explained: He enquired of the Urim and Tummim.50  How is this inferred? R. Eleazar replied: It is arrived at by an analogy between two occurrences of the expression of 'countenance of'; for here it is written, And David sought the countenance of the Lord,46  and elsewhere it is written, Who shall enquire for him by the judgment of the Urim before the countenance of the Lord.51  And the Lord said: 'It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put to death the Gibeonites'.52  'For Saul', because he was not mourned for in a proper manner; 'and his bloody house, because he put to death the Gibeonites'. Where, however, do we find that Saul 'put to death the Gibeonites'! The truth is that, as he killed the inhabitants of Nob, the city of the priests who were supplying them53  with water and food, Scripture regards it as if he himself had killed them.

Justice is demanded for Saul because he was not properly mourned for, and justice is demanded because he put to death the Gibeonites?54  — Yes; for Resh Lakish stated: What is meant by the Scriptural text, Seek ye the Lord, all ye humble of the earth, that have executed His ordinance?55  Where there is his ordinance,56  there are also his executions.57

David said: As to Saul, there have already elapsed

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Original footnotes renumbered.
  1. Even if the person does not mind the interposition. In the case of the embryo, surely, all its body remains untouched by the water. Why, then, should the child be exempt from the immersion!
  2. In utero, during pregnancy.
  3. The mother's body is inseparable from it and cannot, therefore, be regarded as an interposition.
  4. [Read R. Abin, v. Kid 67a].
  5. The child is ascribed to its father; though the mother may belong to a different gentile nation. V. infra.
  6. To Judaism.
  7. V. infra.
  8. Other than the seven enumerated in Deut. VII, 1.
  9. General designation of the seven nations, (v. supra n. 11) the males of which were to be exterminated (ibid. XX, 16).
  10. And, being ascribed to his father, is not subject to the law of extermination. V. supra n. 12.
  11. I.e., not of the seven nations who were the inhabitants of Canaan (v. supra n. 12).
  12. Lev. XXV, 45.
  13. I.e., whose mother that bore him, not his father, was a native of the land of Canaan.
  14. Whose father belonged to one of the seven nations of Canaan (v. supra n. 22). Thus it has been shewn that among the gentile nations also the child is ascribed to its father.
  15. Who until the third generation is ineligible to enter the congregation.
  16. Who is eligible immediately after conversion.
  17. Deut. XXIII. 4.
  18. She is not tainted at all!
  19. Who is ineligible for all time. (Ibid.).
  20. Eligible only after three generations.
  21. His father, and is consequently forbidden for all time to enter the congregation. Had he been ascribed to his mother he would have been eligible after the third generation.
  22. Her mother (cf. supra n. 6). Had she been ascribed to her father she would have been eligible forthwith (cf. supra n. 4).
  23. Pl. of nathin, v. Glos.
  24. To marry the daughter of an Israelite.
  25. To enter the congregation (cf. Deut. XXIII, 3), i.e., to marry an Israelite.
  26. In respect of the bastard (ibid.).
  27. V. supra 69a.
  28. [Rashi gives the fuller version. The Sifre: Just as 'tenth' stated with an Ammonite means for ever' (v. Deut. XXIII, 4). so does 'tenth' stated with mamzer mean 'for ever'. Consequently. as in the former. males (are forbidden) and not females, so in the latter].
  29. Since in the case of the bastard the prohibition of the first ten generations was explicitly stated and includes, as the term mamzer connotes (v. supra 76b), both men and women, whereas the prohibition after ten generations in the case of bastards is not stated explicitly but derived on the basis of analogy from an Ammonite, in respect of whom 'for ever' is explicitly stated. V. p. 532, n. 14.
  30. How, then, could Resh Lakish maintain that the bastard is permitted after the tenth generation?
  31. The statement of Resh Lakish.
  32. V. Hul. 120b.
  33. Lit., 'judge from it and from it', i.e., all that applies to the case from which deduction is made is also applicable to the case deduced. As the case of the bastard is deduced from that of the Ammonite in one respect, it must also agree with it in all other respects, including eligibility of the females after the tenth generation, as Resh Lakish ruled. It is only in respect of the first ten generations which are explicitly forbidden in Scripture that deduction could not be made (cf. supra p. 532, n. 15).
  34. The ruling in our Mishnah.
  35. Lit., 'judge from it and set it in its (original) place', i.e., the rules of the case deduced limit the scope of the deduction. Though the case of the bastard is deduced from that of the Ammonite in respect of forbidding the former, like the latter, for all time, the exclusion of the females, though applicable to the latter, does not apply to the former, and female bastards (cf. supra p. 532, n. 15) remain, therefore, forbidden for all time.
  36. As regards entry into the congregation.
  37. A third generation would never come into existence.
  38. As bastards.
  39. There being no danger of intermarriage with them or their descendants.
  40. Lit., 'and wept'.
  41. Cf. supra. text and p. 533, nn. 9 and 10.
  42. To enter the assembly.
  43. Pl. of nathin. V. Glos.
  44. I.e., nethinim. Cf. supra n. 4.
  45. II Sam. XXI, 2, the last six words implying that they were excluded from the congregation.
  46. Ibid. 1.
  47. Deut. XI. 16f.
  48. Jer. III, 3.
  49. Prov. XXV, 14.
  50. V. Glos.
  51. Num. XXVII. 21.
  52. II Sam. XXI, 1.
  53. The Gibeonites who, as hewers of wood and drawers of water for the altar (v. Josh. IX, 23, 27), were maintained by the priests.
  54. A simultaneous claim in his favour and against him!
  55. Zeph. II, 3. [H].
  56. [H] lit., 'his judgment', for Saul's guilt.
  57. Read [H] his work, sc. Saul's good deeds.
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