Talmud - Mas. Megilah 2a
MISHNAH. THE MEGILLAH1 IS READ ON THE ELEVENTH, THE TWELFTH, THE THIRTEENTH, THE FOURTEENTH, AND THE FIFTEENTH [OF ADAR], NEVER EARLIER AND NEVER LATER.2 CITIES3 WHICH HAVE BEEN WALLED SINCE THE DAYS OF JOSHUA SON OF NUN4 READ ON THE FIFTEENTH; VILLAGES AND LARGE TOWNS5 READ ON THE FOURTEENTH. THE VILLAGES, HOWEVER, MAY [SOMETIMES] PUSH THE READING FORWARD TO THE COURT DAY.6 HOW DOES THIS WORK OUT? IF [THE FOURTEENTH OF ADAR] FALLS ON MONDAY,7 THE VILLAGES AND LARGE TOWNS READ ON THAT DAY AND THE WALLED PLACES ON THE NEXT DAY: IF IT FALLS ON TUESDAY OR ON WEDNESDAY, THE VILLAGES PUSH THE READING FORWARD TO THE COURT DAY,8 THE LARGE TOWNS READ ON THE DAY ITSELF, AND THE WALLED PLACES ON THE NEXT DAY. IF [THE FOURTEENTH FALLS] ON THURSDAY, THE VILLAGES AND LARGE TOWNS READ ON THAT DAY AND THE WALLED PLACES ON THE NEXT DAY: IF IT FALLS ON FRIDAY, THE VILLAGES PUSH THE READING FORWARD TO THE COURT DAY9 AND THE LARGE TOWNS AND WALLED PLACES READ ON THE DAY ITSELF.10 IF IT FALLS ON SABBATH, THE VILLAGES AND LARGE TOWNS PUSH THE READING FORWARD TO THE COURT DAY.9 AND THE WALLED PLACES READ ON THE NEXT DAY.11 IF IT FALLS ON SUNDAY, THE VILLAGES PUSH THE READING FORWARD TO THE COURT DAY,9 THE LARGE TOWNS READ ON THE SAME DAY, AND THE WALLED CITIES ON THE DAY FOLLOWING.
GEMARA. THE MEGILLAH IS READ ON THE ELEVENTH. Whence is this derived? — [How can you ask,] ‘Whence is this derived’? Surely it is as we state further on,12 ‘The Sages made a concession to the villages, allowing them to push the reading forward to the Court day, so that [they should have leisure to] supply food and water for their brethren in the large towns’? — What we mean [by our question] is this: Let us see now. All these dates were laid down by the Men of the Great Assembly.13 For if you should [deny this and affirm] that the Men of the Great Assembly laid down only the fourteenth and fifteenth, [is it possible that] the [later] Rabbis should have come and annulled a regulation made by the Men of the Great Assembly, seeing that we have learnt, ‘One Beth din cannot annul the ordinances of another unless it is superior to it in number14 and in wisdom’?15 Obviously, therefore, all these days must have been laid down by the Men of the Great Assembly, [and we ask therefore], where are they hinted [in the Scripture]? — R. Shaman b. Abba replied in the name of R. Johanan: Scripture says, To confirm these days of Purim in their times.16 [which indicates that] they laid down many ‘times’ for them. But this text is required for its literal meaning?17 — If that were all, Scripture could say simply ‘at the [appointed] time’. What then is implied by ‘their times’? A large number of ‘times’! But still I may say that [the expression ‘their’ times’] is required to indicate that the time of one is not the same as the time of the other?18 — In that case, Scripture should say [simply], ‘their time’. Why does it say ‘their times’? So that you may infer from this all of them. But cannot I say that ‘their times’ means ‘numerous times’?19 — The expression ‘their times’ is to be interpreted in the same way as we should interpret ‘their time’: just as ‘their time’ would indicate two [days], so ‘their times’ indicates two [in addition].20 But why not make these the twelfth and thirteenth? — For the reason given [elsewhere] by R. Samuel b. Isaac, that the thirteenth is a time of assembly for all,21 and no special indication is required for it in the text; so we may say here that the thirteenth day is a time of assembly and no special indication is required for it in the text. But why not say that the sixteenth and seventeenth are meant? — It is written, and it shall not pass.22
R. Samuel b. Nahmani, however, explained thus. Scripture says. As the days wherein the Jews had rest from their enemies.23 [The expression] ‘the days’ [would have sufficed] and we have ‘as the days’, to include the eleventh and the twelfth. But cannot I say rather the twelfth and thirteenth? — R. Samuel b. Isaac said: The thirteenth is a time of assembly for all, and does not require special indication. But cannot I say the sixteenth and the seventeenth? — It is written, ‘and it shall not pass’.
Why did R. Samuel b. Nahmani not derive the rule from the expression ‘in their times’? — He does not accept the distinction [made above between] ‘time’, ‘their time’ and ‘their times’. And why did R. Shaman b. Abba not derive the rule from the expression ‘as the days’? — He can say to you: This is meant to make the rule apply to future generations.
Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: This [rule stated in the Mishnah] is the ruling of R. Akiba the anonymous authority,24 who draws the distinction between ‘time’, ‘their time’ and ‘their times’, but according to the Sages the Megillah is to be read only on the proper day.25 The following was adduced in refutation of this: ‘R. Judah said, When does this rule hold good? When the years are properly fixed26 and Israel reside upon their own soil. But in these days, since people reckon from it,27 the Megillah is to be read only on the proper day’. Now which authority is R. Judah here following? Shall I say, R. Akiba? This cannot be, because [according to him] the regulation28 is in force in these days also. It must be then that he follows the Rabbis, and [even according to them] we read [on the other days] at any rate when the years are properly fixed and Israel reside on their own soil! Is not this a refutation of R. Johanan? — It is.
Some report as follows. Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: This rule follows the ruling of R. Akiba the anonymous authority, but the Sages held that in these days, since people reckon from it, we read it only on the proper day. It has been taught to the same effect: ‘R. Judah said: When does this rule hold good? When the years are properly fixed and Israel reside upon their own soil, but in these days, since people reckon from it, it is read only on the proper day.’29
R. Ashi noted a contradiction between two statements of R. Judah
(1) Lit., ‘scroll’. The scroll of the Book of Esther is meant (v. Introduction).
(2) Lit., ‘neither less nor more’.
(3) כרכין (Sing. כרך). This word is generally applied to large centres of population with a more or less metropolitan character. In Mishnah Megillah, (cf. 19a), however, it seems to be used exclusively of walled towns, whatever their size.
(4) The Gemara infra discusses what is meant by this.
(5) כפרים ועײרות גדולות The expression ‘villages and large towns’ in the Mishnah here seems to be merely a periphrasis for ‘other places’, since, as appears from the Gemara, the distinction here is between places which were walled in the days of Joshua and places which were not. The epithet ‘large’ is added because the word עיר (or עירה) is also often used of a small place, hardly distinguishable from a village.
(6) Lit., ‘the day of assembly’, i.e. Monday or Thursday, when the Beth din sat in the towns, and the people came in from the villages. They were allowed to read the Megillah then because they were more likely to find someone who could read to them in the town than in their own village(Rashi). Another reason is also given in the Gemara infra.
(7) Lit., ‘the second(day of the week)’. In the Talmud the days of the week are distinguished by the ordinal numbers.
(8) I.e., the previous Monday.
(9) I.e., the preceding Thursday.
(10) Reading on the Sabbath was prohibited, for fear the scroll might be carried from place to place. V. infra.
(11) On the Sunday.
(12) V. infra p. 116.
(13) Or ‘synagogue’. A name given to Ezra and his Beth din and their successors, up to the time of Simon the Just. V. Aboth, Sonc. ed. p. 1, n. 5. According to the Talmud, the Book of Esther was composed by or under the direction of the Men of the Great Assembly.
(14) Of the members of the Beth din.
(15) Cf. M.K. 3b; Git. 36a.
(16) Esth. IX, 31. E.V. ‘their appointed times’. The plural form ‘times’ is stressed.
(17) Lit., ‘for itself’; viz., the 14th and 15th mentioned in the text.
(18) Viz., the time for the villages is not the same as that for the walled towns.
(19) E.g., five or six.
(20) To the fourteenth and fifteenth, viz., the eleventh and twelfth.
(21) Rashi explains this to refer to the statement in the Scripture that on the thirteenth the Jews assembled and defended themselves. Asheri, however, points out that this has nothing to do with the reading of the Megillah, which was instituted to commemorate the resting, and he therefore prefers the explanation of R. Tam, that on the thirteenth the Jews assemble to observe the fast of Esther.
(22) Ibid. 27. These words are interpreted to mean, ‘the observance shall not pass beyond the fifteenth day’. E.V., and it shall not fail.
(23) Ibid. 22.
(24) So called because Rabbi in compiling the Mishnah usually followed R Akiba when he mentioned no authority.
(25) Viz., the fourteenth and fifteenth of Adar.
(26) I.e., when there is a Beth din which fixes new moons and leap years as occasion arises.
(27) I.e. count thirty days from Purim to Passover, since the new moon of Nisan will not be promulgated by the Beth din
(28) That the Megillah may be read on the eleventh, twelfth, or thirteenth.
(29) And there is now no contradiction between R. Johanan and Rabbi Judah.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 2b
, and therefore attributed the statement in the Baraitha to R. Jose son of R. Judah. [He said]: Can R. Judah really have said that in these days, since people reckon from it, it is read only on the proper day? To this may be opposed the following:1 R. Judah said, When [do they push forward the reading]? In places where the villagers go to town2 on Monday and Thursday; but in places where they do not go to town on Monday and Thursday, it is read only on the proper day. But at any rate in places where they do go to town on Monday and Thursday it is read [on the earlier dates] even in these times’? He accordingly ascribed the statement in the Baraitha3 to R. Jose son of R. Judah. And because he finds a contradiction between two statements of R. Judah, is he entitled to ascribe the one in the Baraitha to R. Jose son of R. Judah? — R. Ashi had heard some report the statement in the name of R. Judah and some report it in the name of R. Jose son of R. Judah, and to avoid making R. Judah contradict himself he said that the one who ascribed the statement to R. Judah was not [reporting] accurately, while the one who ascribed it to R. Jose son of Judah was [reporting] accurately.
CITIES WHICH HAVE BEEN WALLED SINCE THE DAYS OF JOSHUA SON OF NUN READ ON THE FIFTEENTH. Whence is this ruling derived? — Raba replied: Because Scripture says, Therefore do the Jews of the villages that dwell in the unwalled towns,4 etc. Since the villages [are to read] on the fourteenth, the walled towns [must read] on the fifteenth. But why not say that the villages [should read] on the fourteenth, and those in walled towns not at all?5 — But are they not also Israelites? And moreover is it not written, From India into Ethiopia?6 But why not say that the villages [should read] on the fourteenth and those in walled towns on both the fourteenth and fifteenth, as it is written, that they should keep the fourteenth day of the month of Adar and the fifteenth day of the same yearly?7 — If the text had said, ‘the fourteenth day and [we] the fifteenth’, you would have been right. Now, however, that it is written ‘the fourteenth day and [we-eth] the fifteenth — the eth8 comes and makes a distinction, so that the one set is on the fourteenth and the other set on the fifteenth. But why not say that the villages are on the fourteenth, and those surrounded [by a wall] can [celebrate] if they like on the fourteenth or if they like on the fifteenth? — The text says, in their seasons,9 the season of one is not the same as the season of the other. But why not say that they10 should celebrate on the thirteenth? — [They must do] as Susa [did].
We have accounted for the celebration [of Purim]; how do we know that the recital11 [of the Megillah must be on these days]? — The text says, that these days should be remembered and kept;12 ‘remembering’ is put on the same footing as ‘keeping’.
Our Mishnah does not take the same view as the following Tanna, as it has been taught: ‘R. Joshua b. Korha says: Cities which have been walled since the days of Ahasuerus read on the fifteenth’. What is the reason of R. Joshua b. Korha? — [They must be] like Susa: just as Susa has been walled since the days of Ahasuerus and reads on the fifteenth, so every city that has been walled since the days of Ahasuerus reads on the fifteenth. What then is the reason of our Tanna? — He draws an analogy between the two occurrences of the word perazi [villagers]. It is written here, Therefore the Jews of the villages [ha — perazim],13 and it is written in another place, beside the unwalled [ha — perazi] towns, a great many;14 just as there the reference is to towns which were [not] walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun, so here the reference is to towns which were [not] walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun.15
I can understand why R. Joshua b. Korha did not adopt the view of our Tanna; he does not accept the analogy of perazi and perazi.16 But why does not our Tanna accept the view of R.Joshua b. Korha? — [You ask] why does he not? Why, because he draws the analogy of perazi with perazi, of course! What the questioner meant was this: [On the view of our Tanna], whom did Susa follow?17 It followed neither the villages nor the walled towns!18 — Raba, or, as some say, Kadi,19 replied: Susa was an exception, because a miracle was performed in it.20
We can understand according to the view of our Tanna why the text should say, city and city, town and town;21 ‘city and city’22 to make a distinction between those which were walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun and those which were walled in the days of Ahasuerus; ‘town and town’ likewise to distinguish between Susa and other towns.23 But according to R. Joshua b. Korha, it is true we can account for ‘city and city’, as being intended to distinguish between Susa and other cities,24 but what is the purpose of ‘town and town’ ? — R.Joshua b. Korha can answer: And can our Tanna explain the words satisfactorily? Since he draws the analogy between perazi and perazi,25 why do we require the words ‘city and city’? The truth is that the text is inserted for a homiletical purpose, and to teach the rule laid down by R.Joshua b. Levi. For R. Joshua b. Levi said: ‘A city26 and all that adjoins it and all that is taken in by the eye with it is reckoned as city’.27 Up to what distance? — R. Jeremiah, or you may also say R. Hiyya b. Abba, said: As far as from Hamthan28 to Tiberias, which is a mil. Why not say [simply] a mil? — We learn from this what is the extent of a mil, namely, as far as from Hamthan to Tiberias.
R. Jeremiah — or you may also say R. Hiyya b. Abba — also said: The [alternative forms of the] letters M'N'Z'P'K29 were prescribed30 by the Watchmen.31 Do you really think so? Is it not written, These are the commandments,32 which implies that no prophet is at liberty to introduce anything new33 henceforward? And further, R.Hisda has said: The Men and the Samek in the tablets
(1) Infra n. 4.
(2) Lit., ‘assemble’.
(3) The former of the statements quoted.
(4) Esth. IX, 19.
(5) Since no mention is made of walled towns in the context.
(6) These words occur in Esth. I, 1, arid are used here loosely instead of the words in Esth. IX, 30. and he (Mordecai) sent letters to . . . the hundred and twenty — seven provinces of the kingdom of Ahasuerus.
(7) Ibid. 21.
(8) Eth is a sign of the accusative, and as its use is optional, it is usually interpreted as indicating something not specified in the text. The interpretation placed upon it here is rather unusual.
(9) Ibid. 31.
(10) Those in the walled towns.
(11) Lit., ‘remembrance’.
(12) Ibid. 28.
(13) Ibid. 19.
(14) Deut. III, 5, referring to the territory of Sihon conquered by the Israelites in the time of Moses.
(15) The word ‘not’ is not in the text of the original here, but is necessary for the sense. Rashi greatly simplifies the text by reading: ‘Just as there (the villages were such) from the days of Joshua, so here, (the villages must have been such) from the days of Joshua’.
(16) I.e., he had not learnt this particular gezerah shawah from his teacher, and therefore could not reply upon it.
(17) Since there is no evidence that it was walled in the days of Joshua.
(18) These last words make no satisfactory sense, and seem to be interpolated. [They do not occur in MS.M.]
(19) Aliter: ‘an unknown authority’, v. B.M., Sonc. ed. p. 3, n. 1.]
(20) Since they were allowed to continue slaying their enemies on the fourteenth and did not rest till the fifteenth, they were allowed to celebrate that day (Rashi).
(21) Esth. IX, 28. The word medinah which the Talmud here takes as equivalent to כרך is translated in E.V. by ‘province’.
(22) As much as to say, ‘Some cities one way and some another’.
(23) Susa also having been an unwalled town till the time of Ahasuerus.
(24) Rashi here reads, ‘to distinguish between those which were walled from the days of Ahasuerus and those which were not yet walled in the days of Ahasuerus’, and this seems to be required by the sense.
(25) That the wall must have been in existence since the days of Joshua.
(26) כרך v. supra p. 1, n. 3.
(27) For purposes of reading the Megillah on the fifteenth.
(28) [The Hammath mentioned in Josh. XIX, 35.]
(29) The five letters of the Hebrew alphabet, mem, nun, zadi, pe, and kaf, which have two forms — a middle and final form, the latter being more closed than the former. In the case of mem the final is completely closed ם, with the other the final form is distinguished by the shaft being drawn straight down as distinct from the middle form where it is bent round towards the left ץ(נ)ןת(צ)ץת(פ)ףת(כ)ך
(30) Lit., said’.
(31) A name applied to the prophets who flourished towards the end of the period of the first Temple. There is a play on the words zophim (watchmen) and Manzepak. [Perhaps to be read Min Zofeka ‘from thy watcher’ v. G.K.
(1910) p. 27, n. 1.]
(32) Lev. XXVII, 34.
(33) I.e., to make any alteration in the written Torah, whether in the wording or the writing.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 3a
remained in place by a miracle.1 — That is so; they were in use, but people did not know which form came in the middle of a word and which one at the end, and the Watchmen came and ordained that the open forms should be in the middle of a word and the closed forms at the end. But when all is said and done, [we have the text] ‘these are the commandments’, which implies that no prophet was destined ever to introduce an innovation hereafter?2 — What we must say therefore is that they were forgotten3 and the Watchmen established them again.
R. Jeremiah — or some say R. Hiyya b. Abba — also said: The Targum4 of the Pentateuch was composed by Onkelos the proselyte under the guidance5 of R. Eleazar and R. Joshua.6 The Targum of the Prophets was composed by Jonathan ben Uzziel under the guidance of Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi,7 and the land of Israel [thereupon] quaked over an area of four hundred parasangs by four hundred parasangs, and a Bath Kol8 came forth and exclaimed, Who is this that has revealed My secrets to mankind?9 Jonathan b. Uzziel thereupon arose and said, It is I who have revealed Thy secrets to mankind. It is fully known to Thee that I have not done this for my own honour or for the honour of my father's house, but for Thy honour l have done it, that dissension may not increase in Israel.10 He further sought to reveal [by] a targum [the inner meaning] of the Hagiographa, but a Bath Kol went forth and said, Enough! What was the reason? — Because the date11 of the Messiah is foretold in it.12
But did Onkelos the proselyte compose the targum to the Pentateuch? Has not R. Ika said in the name of R. Hananel who had it from Rab: What is meant by the text, And they read in the book, in the law of God, with an interpretation. and they gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading?13 ‘And they read in the book, in the law of God’: this indicates the [Hebrew] text; ‘with an interpretation’: this indicates the targum,14 ‘and they gave the sense’: this indicates the verse stops; ‘and caused them to understand the reading’: this indicates the accentuation,15 or, according to another version, the massoretic notes?16 — These had been forgotten, and were now established again.
How was it that the land did not quake because of the [translation of the] Pentateuch, while it did quake because of that of the prophets? — The meaning of the Pentateuch is expressed clearly, but the meaning of the prophets is in some things expressed clearly and in others enigmatically. [For instance,] it is written , In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon,17 and R. Joseph [commenting on this] said: Were it not for the targum of this verse, we should not know what it means.18 [It runs as follows]: ‘On that day shall there be great mourning in Jerusalem like the mourning of Ahab son of Omri who was killed by Hadadrimmon son of Rimmon in Ramoth Gilead19 and like the mourning of Josiah son of Ammon who was killed by Pharaoh the Lame in the plain of Megiddo’.20
And I, Daniel, alone saw the vision; for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, and they fled to hide themselves.21 Who were these ‘men’ — R. Jeremiah — or some say, R. Hiyya b. Abba — said: These were Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. They were superior to him [in one way], and he was superior to them [in another]. They were superior to him, because they were prophets and he was not a prophet.22 He was superior to them, because he saw [on this occasion] and they did not see. But if they did not see, why were they frightened? — Although they themselves did not see, their star saw.23 Rabina said: We learn from this that if a man is seized with fright though he sees nothing, [the reason is that] his star sees. What is his remedy? He should recite the shema’.24 If he is in a place which is foul,25 he should move away from it four cubits. If he cannot do this, he should say this formula: ‘The goat at the butcher's is fatter than I am’.26
Now that you have decided that the words ‘city and city’ have a homiletical purpose, what is the purpose of the words ‘family and family’ [in the same verse]? — R.Jose b. Hanina replied: This contains a reference to the families of the Priests and Levites, [and indicates] that they should desist from their [Temple] service in order to come and hear the reading of the Megillah. For so said Rab Judah in the name of Rab: The Priests at their [Temple] service, the Levites on their platform,27 the lay Israelites at their station28 — all desist from their service in order to hear the reading of the Megillah. It has been taught to the same effect: Priests at their [Temple] service, Levites on their platform, lay Israelites at their station — all desist from their service in order to come and hear the reading of the Megillah. It was in reliance on this dictum that the members of the house of Rabbi29 were wont to desist from the study of the Torah in order to come and hear the reading of the Megillah. They argued a fortiori from the case of the [Temple] service. If the service, which is so important, may be abandoned, how much more the study of the Torah?
But is the [Temple] service more important than the study of the Torah? Surely it is written, And it came to pass when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him, . . . (and he fell on his face.30 Now how could he do such a thing, seeing that R. Joshua b. Levi has said that it is forbidden to a man to greet another by night, for fear that he is a demon? — It was different there, because he said to him, ‘I am captain of the host of the Lord’. But perhaps he was lying? — We take it for granted31 that they do not utter the name of heaven vainly).32 He said to him: This evening you neglected the regular afternoon sacrifice, and now you have neglected the study of the Torah.33 Joshua replied: In regard to which of them have you come? He answered, ‘I have come now’.34 Straightway, Joshua tarried that night in the midst of the valley [ha-emek],35 and R. Johanan said:
(1) According to tradition, the letters on the tablets of Moses were cut completely through the stone, and therefore a letter which was wholly closed could keep in place only by a miracle. Hence the mem to which R. Hisda refers must have been wholly enclosed; which shows that such a mem must have been used already by Moses. This objection against R. Jeremiah is valid only if we suppose him to have been speaking of the closed forms of the letters, which is not necessarily the case. Cf. Shab. 104.
(2) And the determining which letters should go in which place (in the Sefer Torah) was an innovation.
(3) Viz., the correct place of each.
(4) Apparently what is meant is the official Aramaic version of the Pentateuch used in the synagogue.
(5) Lit., ‘from the mouth of’.
(6) We know on good authority that a Greek translation of the Bible was composed under the guidance of R. Eleazar and R. Joshua by a proselyte named Aquilas. The Aramaic Targum probably took shape about the same time, but there is no authority except this passage for connecting it with anyone of the name of Onkelos. We may surmise therefore that we have here some confusion between the two translations. For the discussion and literature on the subject v. J.E. s.v. Targum, and Silverstone, E.A. Aquila and Onkelos.
(7) Jonathan b. Uzziel was a disciple of Hillel, so he can hardly have had any direct contact with the prophets mentioned. He may, however, have had traditions handed down from them (Maharsha).
(8) V. Glos.
(9) The Targum of Jonathan b. Uzziel is very paraphrastic, and applies many of the prophetic verses to the Messianic age.
(10) Through different interpretations being placed on the prophetic allusions.
(11) Lit., ‘end’.
(12) The reference is probably to the Book of Daniel.
(13) Neh. VIII, 8.
(14) Which shows that the targum dates back to the time of Ezra.
(15) פיסוק טעמים V. Ned., Sonc. ed. p. 113, n. 5.
(16) For notes v. Ned., Sonc. ed. p. 116.
(17) Zech. XII, 11.
(18) Because there is no mourning for Hadadrimmon mentioned in the Scripture.
(19) V. I Kings XXII.
(20) v. II Kings XXIII. It is difficult to see what ‘mystery’ is here revealed that should have caused the land to quake.
(21) Dan. X, 7.
(22) Although he had visions, he did not admonish or exhort the people.
(23) Or ‘guardian angel’ or ‘spirit’. The Hebrew mazzal here seems to mean something corresponding to the Roman genius.
(24) V. Glos.
(25) And where the shema’ may not be recited.
(26) Go to them for a victim.
(27) On which they stood to chant the daily psalm.
(28) A number of lay Israelites were always appointed to be present at the offering of the daily sacrifices, which they accompanied with certain prayers. V. Ta'an. 26a; and Glos. s.v. ma'amad.
(29) R. Judah I, the Prince.
(30) Josh. V, 13f.
(31) Lit., ‘we have learnt by tradition’.
(32) The passage in brackets (from ‘and he fell’) is parenthetical, and has nothing to do with the argument.
(33) It is not clear what indication there is of this in the text. V. Tosaf., s.v. אמש
(34) I.e., on account of the study of the Torah which you are neglecting now.
(35) This seems to be an alternative reading of Joshua VIII, 13. which in our text reads, And Joshua went that night in the midst of the valley. Cf. Tosaf., s.v.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 3b
This shows that he tarried in the depths [‘umkah] of the halachah.1 And R. Samuel b. Unia also said: The study of the Torah is greater than the offering of the daily sacrifices, as it says. ‘I have come now’ — There is no contradiction; in the one case2 [the study] of an individual is meant, in the other3 that of the whole people.4 But is that of an individual unimportant? Have we not learnt: Women [when mourning] on a festival make a dirge5 but do not beat the breast. R. Ishmael says: If they are near the bier,6 they can beat the breast. On New Moon, Hanukkah and Purim they may make a dirge and beat the breast, but on neither the one nor the other do they wail;7 and in reference to this, Rabbah b. Huna said: The festival involves no restrictions in the case of a scholar, still less Hanukkah and Purim? — You are speaking of the honour to be paid to the Torah. The honour to be paid to the learning of an individual is important, the study of an individual is [comparatively] unimportant.
Raba said: There is no question in my mind that, as between the Temple service and the reading of the Megillah, the reading of the Megillah takes priority, for the reason given by R. Jose b. Hanina.8 As between the study of the Torah and the reading of the Megillah, the reading of the Megillah takes priority, since the members of the house of Rabbi based themselves [on the dictum of R. Jose].8 As between the study of the Torah and attending to a meth mizwah,9 attending to a meth mizwah takes precedence, since it has been taught: The study of the Torah may be neglected in order to perform the last rites or to bring a bride to the canopy. As between the Temple service and attending to a meth mizwah, attending to a meth mizwah takes precedence, as we learn from the text or for his sister,10 as it has been taught: ‘Or for his sister. What is the point of these words? Suppose he was on his way to kill his Paschal lamb or to circumcise his son, and he heard that a near relative had died,11 shall I assume that he should defile himself? You must say, he should not defile himself. Shall I assume then that, just as he does not defile himself for his sister, so he should not deflle himself for a meth mizwah?12 It says significantly, ‘or for his sister’,’ it is for his sister that he may not defile himself, but he may defile himself for a meth mizwah.13 Raba propounded the question: As between the reading of the Megillah and [attending to] a meth mizwah, which takes precedence? Shall I say that the reading of the Megillah takes precedence in order to proclaim the miracle, or does perhaps [the burying of] the meth mizwah take precedence because of the respect due to human beings? — After propounding the question, he himself answered it saying, [Burying] the meth mizwah takes precedence, since a Master has said: Great is the [obligation to pay due] respect to human beings, since it overrides a negative precept of the Torah.14
The text [above states]: ‘R. Joshua b. Levi said: A city15 and all that adjoins it and all that is taken in by the eye with it is reckoned as city’. A Tanna commented: Adjoining, even if it is not visible, and visible even if it is not adjoining. Now we understand what is meant by ‘visible even though not adjoining’: this can occur for instance with a city situated on the top of a hill. But how can there be ‘adjoining but not visible’? — R. Jeremiah replied: If it is situated in a valley.
R. Joshua b. Levi further said: A city which was first settled and then walled is reckoned as a village.16 What is the reason? Because it is written, And if a man sell a dwelling house of a walled city,17 one, [that is,] which was first walled and then settled, but not first settled and then walled.
R. Joshua b. Levi also said: A city in which there are not ten men of leisure18 is reckoned as a village. What does he tell us? We have already learnt this: ‘What is a large town? One in which there are ten men of leisure. If there are less than this, it is reckoned as a village’. — He had to point out that the rule applies to a city,19 even though [leisured] people come there from outside.20 R. Joshua b. Levi also said: A city which has been laid waste and afterwards settled is reckoned as a city. What is meant by ‘laid waste’? Shall I say, that its walls have been destroyed, in which case if it became settled21 it is reckoned as a city but otherwise not? [How can this be], seeing that it has been taught: R. Eleazar son of R. Jose says: [The text says], which has a wall;22 [which implies that it is to be reckoned as a city] even though it has not a wall now, provided it had one previously?23 What then is meant by ‘laid waste’? Laid waste of its ten men of leisure.
R. Joshua b. Levi further said:
(1) This shows that the study of the Torah is superior to the Temple service.
(2) That of the household of Rabbi.
(3) That of Joshua.
(4) Lit., ‘many’.
(5) Heb. מענות, all raising their voices in unison.
(6) Lit., ‘bed’.
(7) Heb. מקוננות one chanting and the others responding.
(8) V. supra P. 11
(9) Heb. מת מצוה strictly speaking, a body which there is no-one else to bury and the burial of which is a religious duty. V. Glos. Meth Mizwah.
(10) Num. VI, 7, in reference to the Nazirite.
(11) Lit., ‘that a dead one had died for him’.
(12) Nazir 48b.
(13) Although Scripture says ‘If thou seest the ox of thy neighbour falling by the way, thou shalt not hide thyself’ (Deut. XXII, 4), the Rabbis said that a man of eminence for whom it would be undignified to help may hide himself.
(14) V. p. 13, n. 7.
(15) כרך V. supra p. 1, n. 3.
(16) It is not clear whether this means for purposes of reading the Megillah on the fourteenth or the fifteenth, or for purposes of restoring a house to its original owner at the Jubilee. Rashi takes the latter view, Tosaf. the former. V. Tosaf. s.v. כרך
(17) V. Rashi. E.V. ‘in a walled city’. Lev. XXV, 29.
(18) Who always have time to attend synagogue. V. infra 5a.
(19) [A כרך which is distinguished from a עיר גדולה in that it is a marketing centre to which are drawn people from all parts.]
(20) Lit., ‘from the world’. These are only a floating population, and we require ten men who are always available.
(21) l.e., its walls were raised anew.
(22) Lev. XXV, 30.
(23) The lesson is derived from the curious spelling of the word in the Hebrew text, which may imply either that it has or has not a wall.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 4a
Lod and Ono and Ge Haharashim1 were walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun. But did Joshua build these? Was it not Elpaal who built them, as it is written, And the sons of Elpaal Eber and Misham and Shemed, who built Ono and Lod, with the towns there of?2 — But on your showing3 Asa built them, as it is written, And he built fenced cities in Judah?4 — R. Eleazar replied: These places were walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun. They were laid waste in the days of the concubine of Gibea,5 and Elpaal came and rebuilt them. They again fell, and Asa came and repaired them. There is an indication of this in the text also, as it is written, For he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities.6 From this we can infer that they had already been towns beforehand; and this may be taken as proved.7
R. Joshua b. Levi also said: Women are under obligation to read the Megillah, since they also profited by the miracle then wrought.8 R. Joshua b. Levi further said: If Purim falls on a Sabbath, discussions and discourses are held on the subject of the day. Why mention Purim? The same rule applies to festivals also,9 as it has been taught: Moses laid down a rule for the Israelites that they should discuss and discourse on the subject of the day — the laws of Passover on Passover, the laws of Pentecost on Pentecost, and the laws of Tabernacles on Tabernacles! — It was necessary to state the rule [separately] in the case of Purim. For you might suggest that we should forbid this for fear of breaking the rule of Rabbah.10 We are therefore told that this is not so.
R. Joshua b. Levi further said: It is the duty of a man to read the Megillah in the evening and to repeat it in the day, as it is written, O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou answerest not, and in the night season and am not silent.11 The students took this to mean that the [Megillah] should be read at night, and the Mishnah relating to it should be learnt in the morning.12 R. Jeremiah. however, said to them: It has been explained to me by R. Hiyya b. Abba [that the word ‘repeat’ here has the same meaning] as when, for instance, men say, I will go through this section and repeat it. It has also been stated: R. Helbo said in the name of ‘Ulla of Biri:13 It is a man's duty to recite the Megillah at night and to repeat it the next day, as it says, To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee [by day]. and not be silent [by night]. O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to thee for ever.14
THE VILLAGES, HOWEVER, MAY PUSH THE READING FORWARD TO THE COURT DAY. R. Hanina said: The Sages made a concession to the villages by allowing them to push the reading forward to the Court day, in order that they might furnish food and water to their brethren in the cities.
(1) Three towns in the territory of Benjamin.
(2) I Chron. VIII, 12.
(3) I.e., if you appeal to the Book of Chronicles.
(4) II Chron. XIV, 6. ‘Judah’ is here apparently taken by the Talmud to include Benjamin, which was ruled by the kings of Judah.
(5) When the territory of Benjamin was laid waste. Jud. XX.
(6) II Chron. XIV, 6.
(7) [The text of this paragraph is in disorder. According to a Gaonic responsum (v. B.M.) Lewin אוצר הגאונים a.l. the passages, ‘But on your showing. . . in Judah’ and ‘There is an indication . . . taken as proved’ are later interpolations. For other readings v. Aruch s.v. שפץ]
(8) Lit., ‘for also these were (included) in that miracle’. Since Haman plotted to destroy the women also. Esth. III, 13.
(9) Although they are discussed for thirty days beforehand, so that the rule should apply all the more to Purim. V. Tosaf. s.v. מאי
(10) Not to read the Megillah on Sabbath, since this might lead to its being carried from place to place, v. infra p. 19.
(11) Ps XXII, 3. This Psalm is supposed by the Talmud to refer to Esther. V. Yoma 29a.
(12) They took the word לשנותה (‘to repeat it’) used by R. Joshua b. Levi in the sense of ‘learning the Mishnah’.
(13) [Either Bira, S.E. or Kefar Birim, N.W. of Gush Halab, v. Klein N.B. p. 39.]
(14) Ps. XXX, 13. This Psalm was also applied by the Rabbis to Mordecai and Esther.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 4b
This would show [would it not] that the regulation is for the benefit of the cities; but we have learnt: ‘If Purim falls on Monday, the villages and large towns read on that day’. Now if it is as you say, they should push the reading forward to the [previous] Court day? — This would bring it to the tenth, and the Sages did not fix the tenth [as a possible day].
Come and hear: ‘If it falls on Thursday, the villages and large towns read on that same day’. Now if it is as you say, they should push the reading forward to the [previous] Court day which is the eleventh? — We do not shift it from one Court day to another. Come and hear [again]: ‘R. Judah says: When [is the reading pushed forward]? In places where the villagers come into town on Mondays and Thursdays, but in places where they do not come into town on Mondays and Thursdays it is read only on the proper day’. Now if you assume that the regulation is for the benefit of the cities, because they do not come into town on Mondays and Thursdays; are the cities to be deprived of the benefit? — Do not read [in the dictum of R. Hanina] ‘in order that they may furnish food and water’, but read, ‘because they furnish food and water to their brethren in the cities’.1
HOW [DOES THIS WORK OUT]? IF IT FALLS ON MONDAY, VILLAGES AND LARGER TOWNS READ ON THAT SAME DAY etc. How is it that in the first clause of the Mishnah2 the dates of the month are mentioned and in the second3 the days of the week?4 — Since
(in the second clause] the dates of the month would have to go backwards,5 the Mishnah prefers to mention the days.6 IF IT FALLS ON FRIDAY etc. Which authority does our Mishnah follow? — [You may say], either Rabbi or R. Jose. How Rabbi? — As it has been taught: ‘If it falls on Friday, villages and large towns push the reading forward to the Court day, and walled cities react on the day itself. Rabbi said: I maintain that towns should not have to shift their date,7 but both one and the other read on the day itself’. What is the reason of the First Tanna? — Because it is written, every year:8 just as every year towns read before cities, so in this case towns should read before cities. But why not argue thus: ‘Every year’: just as every year towns have not to shift their date, so here towns should not have to shift their date? — There is a special reason [for not reasoning thus here] since this is impracticable.9 What is Rabbi's reason? — [It is written], ‘every year’: just as in most years the towns have not to shift their date, so here they should not have to shift their date. But why not reason thus: ‘every year’: just as in most years towns read before walled cities, so here towns should read before walled cities? — There is a special reason [for not arguing thus here], because this is impracticable.10
How R. Jose? — As it has been taught: ‘If it falls on Friday, walled cities and villages push the reading forward to the Court day, and large towns read on the day itself. R. Jose said: Walled cities do not read before towns, but both read on the day itself’. What is the reason of the First Tanna? — Because it is written, every year’: just as in most years towns react on the fourteenth and their time is not the same as the time of the walled cities, so here towns should read on the fourteenth and their time should not be the same as the time of the walled cities. But why not reason thus: ‘Every year’: just as in most years walled cities do not read before towns, so here walled cities should not read before towns? — Here the case is different, because it cannot be avoided. What is R. Jose's reason? — [It says], ‘every year’: just as in most years walled cities do not read before towns, so here walled cities should not read before towns. But why not reason thus: ‘Every year’: just as in most years the time of one is not the same as the time of the other, so here the time of one should not be the same as the time of the other? — Here the case is different, because it cannot be avoided.
But did Rabbi really hold that towns should not shift their time to the Court day? Has it not been taught: ‘If it falls on Sabbath, villages push the reading forward to the Court day, and large towns read on Friday and walled cities on Sunday. Rabbi said: My view is that, since the towns have to shift their time, they may as well shift it to the Court day’?11 — Are the two cases parallel? In this last case, the proper time is Sabbath, and since they must shift they can shift [further]; but in our case the proper time is Friday.
Whose authority is followed in this dictum enunciated by R. Helbo in the name of R. Huna: ‘If Purim falls on Sabbath, all shift the reading to the Court day’? ‘All shift their reading’, do you say? [How can this be] seeing that we have the walled cities which read on the Sunday? — What we should say is, ‘All who are shifted are shifted to the Court day’.Which authority, [you ask]? — Rabbi.
But at any rate all agree that the Megillah is not to be read on Sabbath. What is the reason? — Rabbah replied: All are under obligation to read the Megillah, but not all are competent to read it, and there is therefore a danger that one may take the scroll in his hand and go to an expert to be instructed and [in doing so] convey it four cubits in a public domain. This is also the reason for [not blowing] the shofar on Sabbath and [for not carrying] the lulab.12 R. Joseph said: It is because the poor are anxiously awaiting the reading of the Megillah.13 It has been taught to the same effect: ‘Although it has been laid down that villages push the reading forward to the Court day, contributions are collected and distributed on the same day’. ‘Although it has been laid down’! On the contrary, it is because it has been laid down!14 — Read therefore: Since it has been laid down that villages push the reading forward to the Court day, contributions are collected and distributed on the same day, because the poor are waiting anxiously for the reading of the Megillah, but
(1) The concession was therefore made to them as a reward, but if they do not come into town there would be no concession in allowing them to read earlier.
(2) THE MEGILLAH IS READ ON THE ELEVENTH, THE TWELFTH etc.
(3) IF IT FALL, ON MONDAY etc.
(4) Lit., ‘in the first clause he (the Tanna) takes the order of the months and in the second the order of the days’.
(5) If he specified the dates of the month instead of the days of the week, he would have to begin with the reading on the fourteenth, and then take the thirteenth and so on.
(6) Because as these go in regular order, it is easier to remember, and there is less danger of the Tanna making a mistake.
(7) Lit., ‘towns should not be shifted from their place’.
(8) Esth. IX, 27.
(9) It is impracticable for towns to retain this date and also to read before the walled cities.
(10) It is impracticable for the towns to read before the walled cities and yet not shift their date.
(11) Lit., ‘since they are shifted, let them be shifted to etc.’
(12) V. Glos.
(13) Because they expect to receive gifts immediately afterwards, and on Sabbath these could not be given.
(14) As otherwise they would receive them on the actual day of Purim.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 5a
rejoicing1 is kept only at the proper season.
Rab said: On the actual day of Purim the Megillah can be read even by an individual, but on the alternative days2 it should be read only in a company of ten. R. Assi, however, said: Whether on the actual day or on the alternative days, it should be read only in a company of ten. In a case which actually occurred, Rab gave weight to the opinion of R. Assi.3 But could Rab actually have said this?4 — Did not Rab Judah the son of R. Samuel b. Shilath say in the name of Rab: ‘If Purim falls on Sabbath, Friday is the proper time’? — Friday the proper time! Surely Sabbath is the proper time! What Rab must have meant therefore is this: The alternative time is like the proper time.5 Just as at the proper time [the Megillah may be read] by an individual, so at the alternative time [it may be read] by an individual. — No. For the reading of the Megillah6 Rab requires ten. What then did he mean by saying ‘Friday is the proper time’? His intention was to reject the opinion of Rabbi, who said that since the towns had to shift their time they might as well shift to the Court day. Here, therefore, Rab informs us that Friday is the proper day [to which they should shift].
MISHNAH. WHAT IS RECKONED A LARGE TOWN? ONE WHICH HAS IN IT TEN MEN OF LElsure.7 ONE THAT HAS FEWER IS RECKONED A VILLAGE. IN RESPECT OF THESE8 IT WAS LAID DOWN THAT THEY SHOULD BE PUSHED FORWARD BUT NOT POSTPONED. THE TIME, HOWEVER, OF BRINGING THE WOOD FOR THE PRIESTS,9 OF KEEPING THE [FAST OF] THE NINTH OF AB,10 OF OFFERING THE FESTIVAL SACRIFICE,11 AND OF ASSEMBLING THE PEOPLE12 IS TO BE POSTPONED13 [TILL AFTER SABBATH] BUT NOT PUSHED FORWARD. ALTHOUGH IT WAS LAID DOWN THAT THE TIMES [OF READING THE MEGILLAH] ARE TO BE PUSHED FORWARD BUT NOT POSTPONED, IT IS PERMISSIBLE ON THESE [ALTERNATIVE] DAYS14 TO MOURN, TO FAST, AND TO DISTRIBUTE GIFTS TO THE POOR. R. JUDAH SAID: WHEN IS THIS?15 IN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE COME TO TOWN ON MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS. IN PLACES, HOWEVER, WHERE THEY DO NOT COME TO TOWN EITHER ON MONDAYS OR THURSDAYS, THE MEGILLAH IS READ ONLY ON ITS PROPER DAY.
GEMARA. [TEN MEN OF LEISURE]: A Tanna taught: The ten unoccupied men who attend synagogue.16
IN RESPECT OF THESE IT WAS LAID DOWN THAT THEY SHOULD BE PUSHED FORWARD BUT NOT POSTPONED. What is the reason? — R. Abba said in the name of Samuel: The text says, and he shall not go further.17 R. Abba further said in the name of Samuel: Whence do we know that years are not to be counted by days?18 Because it says, [It is the first to you] of the months of the year,19 [which implies] that you reckon a year by months but not by days. The Rabbis of Caesarea said in the name of R. Abba: How do we know that a month is not reckoned by its hours?20 Because it says, until a month of days:21 you reckon a month by days, but you do not reckon a month by hours.22
THE TIME, HOWEVER, OF BRINGING THE WOOD FOR THE PRIESTS, OF KEEPING [THE FAST OF] THE NINTH OF AB, OF OFFERING THE FESTIVAL SACRIFICE AND OF ASSEMBLING THE PEOPLE IS POSTPONED BUT NOT PUSHED FORWARD. [The reason for the Fast of] the ninth of Ab is that we do not hasten the approach of trouble. [The reason for] the festival sacrifice and the assembling of the people is that the time for their performance has not yet arrived.23
A Tanna taught: ‘The festival sacrifice and all the period of the festival sacrifice is to be postponed’. We understand what is meant by the festival sacrifice, namely, that if its day happens to be Sabbath we postpone it till after the Sabbath. But what is meant by the ‘period of the festival sacrifice’? — R. Oshaia replied: What is meant is this: The festival sacrifice [is postponed if its time] occurs on Sabbath, and the ‘burnt-offering of appearance’24 is postponed even till after the festival day which is the proper time for a festival sacrifice.25 Which authority does this follow? Beth Shammai, as we have learnt: ‘Beth Shammai say, Peace-offerings may be brought on the festival, but without laying on of hands; not, however, burnt-offerings; while Beth Hillel say, Both burnt-offerings and peace-offerings may be brought, and hands may be laid on’.26 Raba said: [The meaning is]: The festival sacrifice may be postponed for the whole period of the festival sacrifice,27 but not more, as we have learnt: ‘If one did not bring a festival sacrifice on the first day of the festival, he may go on to do so throughout the festival, including the last day. If the festival terminated without his having brought the festival sacrifice, he need not bring another in compensation’.28 R. Ashi said: [It means that] the festival sacrifice may be postponed for the whole period of the festival sacrifice,29 and even on Pentecost which is only one day it may be postponed [for seven days], as we have learnt: [Beth Hillel] agree that if Pentecost falls on Sabbath, the day for killing [the sacrifice] is after the Sabbath’.30
R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanina: Rabbi planted a shoot on Purim,
(1) I.e., feasting.
(2) Lit., ‘not in its proper time’.
(3) And put himself out to assemble ten persons.
(4) That on the alternative days it can only be read before ten.
(5) ‘Friday is the proper time’ means, ‘Friday is regarded as the proper time’.
(6) On the alternative days.
(7) Heb. batlanim (idle men), v. supra, p. 14, n. 5.
(8) The times when the Megillah is to be read.
(9) It was usual for certain families to undertake to bring to Jerusalem on a certain day of the year a certain quantity of wood for the fire on the altar. V. Ta'an. 28a.
(10) In commemoration of the destruction of the first and second Temples, v. Glos.
(11) The hagigah, an optional peace-offering brought by individuals in honour of the festival, usually on the first day of the festival.
(12) On the Feast of Tabernacles in the first year of the Septennate, to hear the Law read. V. Deut. XXXI, 10-13.
(13) If it happens to fall on Sabbath.
(14) On which the Megillah is actually read.
(15) That a concession is made to villagers to read on the alternate days.
(16) Lit. , ‘Who are in the synagogue’. I.e., who are always available to attend synagogue if required. Cf. supra. [According to Rashi: These were men specially maintained for the purpose from the communal fund. Aliter: men of ample means who freely devoted their time to the service of the community. V. Aruch s.v. בטל
(17) Esth. IX, 27. V. supra 2a.
(18) Lit., that we do not count days (to make up) years. I.e., ‘a year’ without further specification does not mean three hundred and sixty-five days but twelve (lunar) months.
(19) Ex. XII, 2.
(20) I.e. , if the month is defective, we reckon it as twenty-nine days, and ‘a month’ without further specification means
(if it is defective) twenty-nine days and not twenty-nine and a half, which is the real interval between one new moon and the next.
(21) Num. XI, 20. E.V. ‘a full month’.
(22) V. Nazir, Sonc. ed. p. 20 notes.
(23) And so with the wood for the priests, since none of these things can be done on Sabbath. The same, however, cannot be said of the Megillah, the purpose of which is to serve as a reminder.
(24) עולת ראײה A burnt-offering which was brought to fulfil the injunction of ‘they shall not appear before the Lord empty, (Deut. XVI, 16). This was regarded as obligatory.
(25) I.e., even if the first day is not a Sabbath, and a
(26) V. Bez. 19a.
(27) I.e., the whole seven days of Passover or Tabernacles.
(28) Lit., ‘he is not responsible for it’.
(29) [So MS.M.; cur. ed. ‘The festival sacrifice and all the period of the festival sacrifice’.]
(30) Beth Hillel differed from Beth Shammai in the case where Pentecost fell on Friday, but in this case they also agreed that both the festival sacrifice
(hagigah) and the ‘burnt-offering of appearance’ could be killed after the festival, since they could not be offered on Sabbath. V. Hag. 17a.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 5b
and bathed in the [bathhouse of the] marketplace1 of Sepphoris on the seventeenth of Tammuz2 and sought to abolish the fast of the ninth of Ab, but his colleagues would not consent. R. Abba b. Zabda ventured to remark:3 Rabbi, this was not the case. What happened was that the fast of Ab [on that year] fell on Sabbath, and they postponed it till after Sabbath, and he said to them, Since it has been postponed, let it be postponed altogether, but the Sages would not agree. He
festival peace-sacrifice (hagigah) may be brought, this offering is not brought till the intermediate days. [R. ELeazar] thereupon applied to himself the verse, Better are two than one.4
But how could Rabbi have planted a shoot on Purim seeing that R. Joseph has learnt: [We read in connection with Purim] gladness and feasting and a good day;5 ‘gladness’: this teaches that it is forbidden on these days to mourn; ‘feasting’: this teaches that it is forbidden on them to fast; ‘a good day’: this teaches that it is forbidden on them to do work? — The fact is that Rabbi belonged to a place which kept Purim on the fourteenth, and when he planted, it was on the fifteenth. Is this so?6 Was not Rabbi in Tiberias, and Tiberias was walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun? — The fact is that Rabbi was in a place which kept on the fifteenth, and when he planted it was the fourteenth. But was he certain that Tiberias was walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun, seeing that Hezekiah read the Megillah in Tiberias both on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth, being uncertain whether it had been walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun or not? Hezekiah was in doubt, but Rabbi was certain. But even supposing he was certain, was he permitted to do this, seeing that it is written in Megillath Ta'anith,7 ‘The fourteenth day and the fifteenth day are the days of Purim on which there is to be no mourning’, and Raba said, The only purpose of mentioning these days [in Megillath Ta'anith]8 was to make whatever is forbidden on the one forbidden on the other also? — This applies only to mourning and fasting, but for abstention from work one day and no more is prescribed. Is that so? Did not Rab see a man sowing flax on Purim, and curse him, so that the flax did not grow? — There he [the man] was doing it on the day which he ought to have kept. Rabbah the son of Raba said. You may even say [that Rabbi planted] on the day [which he ought to have kept]: [the Jews] bound themselves [in the days of Esther] to abstain from mourning and fasting, but not from work, since first it is written, ‘gladness and feasting and a good day’, but afterwards it is written, that they should make them days of feasting and gladness’,9 and ‘a good day’ is not mentioned. Why then did Rab curse that man? — It was a case of ‘things which are permitted but others make a practice of abstaining from them’; but in Rabbi's place this10 was not the practice. Or if you like I can say that they did in fact make a practice of this, and Rabbi planted a festive shoot, as we have learnt:11 If these days12 pass and they are still not answered, they abstain to a certain extent from business, from building and from planting, from betrothing and from marrying,13 and a Tanna taught: ‘Building’ here means festive building; ‘planting’ means festive planting. What is festive building? If one builds a wedding residence for his son [on the occasion of his marriage]. What is a festive planting? If one plants a royal abarnaki.14
The text [above state]: ‘Hezekiah read in Tiberias on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth, being doubtful whether it had been walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun or not’. But could he have been in doubt about Tiberias, seeing that it is written, And the fortified cities were Ziddim-zer and Hamath and Rakath and Kinnereth,15 and it is generally agreed that Rakath is Tiberias? — The reason why he was doubtful was because one side is bounded by the lake.16 If so, why was he in doubt? It certainly was not walled, as it has been taught : Which has a wall,17 and not merely a fence of houses.18 Round about:19 this excludes Tiberias, the lake forming its wall’!20 In respect of the houses of a walled town he was not in doubt; where he was in doubt was in respect of reading the Megillah. [He asked]: What constitutes the difference between villages and walled towns which are mentioned in connection with the reading of the Megillah? Is it that the former are exposed and the latter are not exposed, [in which case] Tiberias [belongs to the former] being also exposed, or is it that the latter are protected and the former are not protected, [in which case] Tiberias [belongs to the latter], being protected? That was why he was in doubt.
R. Assi read the Megillah in Huzal21 on the fourteenth and on the fifteenth, being in doubt whether it had been walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun or not. According to another report, R. Assi said: Huzal of the house of Benjamin was walled in the days of Joshua son of Nun.
R. Johanan said: When I was a boy, I made a statement about which I afterwards questioned the old men,
(1) Heb. קרונה, a place where wagons were stationed on market.day (Rashi). [Alter: ‘spring’ from Gk. **. V. Aruch and Krauss T.A. 1. 212.]
(2) One of the four public fasts. V. R. H. 18.
(3) Lit., ‘said in his (R. Eleazar's) presence’.
(4) Eccl. IV, 9. He was glad to be corrected.
(5) Esth. IX, 19.
(6) This is not so
(7) V. Glos.
(8) We know already from the Scripture that ‘mourning is forbidden on these days.
(9) Esth. IX, 22
(10) To abstain from work.
(11) That there is a planting of a festive kind.
(12) Of fasting for rain.
(13) V. Ta'an 12b.
(14) The correct form according to Levy and Jast. is achvarnaki, a Persian word for a spreading tree in a garden under which banquets could be held.
(15) Josh. XIX, 35.
(16) Of Galilee. Rakath therefore was not fortified on this side, and the question arises whether it should be accounted a ‘walled city’ for religious purposes.
(17) Lev. XXV, 30. In a town with a wall houses could be sold permanently.
(18) Lit., ‘wall of roofs’, though this is also a barricade.
(19) Ibid. 31.
(20) l.e., the lake being where the wall ought to be.
(21) [In Babylonia between Nehardea and Sura. It was called ‘of the House of Benjamin’ (v. infra) probably because its early settlers hailed from Benjamin (v. Obermeyer pp. 299ff). There was also a Huzal in Palestine. V. Keth., Sonc. ed. p. 716, n. 7.]
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 6a
and it was found that I was right: [I said:] Hamath is Tiberias. And why was it called Hamath? On account of the hot springs [hamme] of Tiberias. Rakath is Sepphoris, And why was it called Rakath? Because it slopes down like the bank [raktha] of a river. Kinnereth is Gennesaret. And why was it called Kinnereth? Because its fruits are sweet like the music of a harp [kinnor].1 Raba said: Is there anyone who can maintain that Rakath is not Tiberias, seeing that when a man dies here [in Babylonia] they mourn for him there [in Tiberias] as follows: ‘Great was he in Sheshach2 and he has a name in Rakath’,3 and when the coffin is taken there they mourn for him thus: ‘Ye lovers of the remnants,4 dwellers in Rakath, go forth and receive the slaughtered of the depths’.5 When R. Zera departed, a certain mourner opened his dirge thus: ‘The land of Shinar6 conceived and bore him, the beauteous land7 brought up her delight. Woe to me, saith Rakath, for her precious instrument is lost’!8 No, said Raba. Hamath is the hot springs of Gerar; Rakath is Tiberias; and Kinnereth is Gennesaret. Why is it called Rakath? Because even the least worthy9 of its inhabitants are full of religious performances like a pomegranate. R. Jeremiah said: Rakath is its proper name. And why is it called Tiberias? Because it is situated in the very centre10 of the land of Israel. Rabbah said: Rakath is its name. And why is it called Tiberias? Because its aspect is good.11
Zeira said: Kitron is Sepphoris. And why is it called Sepphoris? Because it is perched on the top of a mountain like a bird [zippor]. But is Kitron Sepphoris? Now Kitron was in the territory of Zebulun, as it is written, Zebulun drove not out the inhabitants of Kitron nor the inhabitants of Nahalol.12 Now Zebulun complained of his portion, as it says, Zebulun was a people which shamed his soul to death.13 Why? Because Naphtali was on the high places of the field.14 Zebulun complained to the Holy One, blessed be he, saying: Sovereign of the Universe, to my brethren Thou hast given fields and vineyards and to me Thou hast given hills and mountains; to my brethren Thou hast given lands, and to me Thou hast given lakes and rivers. [God] replied: They will all require thee for the hilazon,15 as it says, and the hidden treasures of the sand,16 and R. Joseph learnt: ‘Hidden’ indicates the hilazon; ‘treasures’ indicates the tunny fish;17 ‘sand’ indicates white glass.18 Zebulun then said: Sovereign of the Universe, who will inform me?19 He replied: There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness.20 This shall be thy sign: whoever takes of thee without payment will not prosper in his business. Now if you assume that Kitron is Sepphoris, why did Zebulun complain of his portion, seeing that Sepphoris is an excellent spot? Nor can you say that it is not ‘flowing with milk and honey’. For Resh Lakish has said: I have myself seen the trail of milk and honey21 round Sepphoris, and it is sixteen miles by sixteen miles. Nor can you say that [even so] his is not as good as his brothers, since Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Johanan: I have myself seen the trail of milk and honey of the whole land of Israel, and it extends [altogether] about as far as from Be Kubi22 to the Fort of Tulbanke, twenty-two parasangs in length and six parasangs in breadth?23 Even so, he preferred fields and vineyards. This is also indicated by the language of the text, as it says, ‘Naphtali upon the high places of the field’. This is a proof.
R. Abbahu said: [It is written], Ekron shall be rooted up;24 this is Kisri the daughter of Edom,25 which is situated among the sands, and which was a thorn in the side of Israel26 in the days of the Greeks. When the House of the Hasmoneans grew powerful and conquered them, they called it ‘the capture of the tower of Shir’.27
R. Jose b. Hanina said: What is meant by the text, And I will take away his blood out of his mouth and his detestable things from between his teeth, and he also shall be a remnant for our God?28 ‘And I will take away his blood out of his mouth’: this refers to their sacrificial shrines.29 ‘And his detestable things from between his teeth’: this refers to their oracles.30 ‘And he also shall be a remnant for our God’: these are the synagogues and houses of learning in Edom.31 And he shall be as a chief in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite:32 these are the theatres and circuses33 in Edom in which one day the chieftains of Judah shall publicly teach the Torah. R. Isaac said: Leshem is Pamias.34 Ekron shall be rooted out: this is Caesarea, the daughter of Edom, which was a metropolis35 of kings. Some say that this means that kings were brought up there, and others that kings were appointed from there. Caesarea36 and Jerusalem [are rivals]. If one says to you that both are destroyed, do not believe him; if he says that both are flourishing, do not believe him; if he says that Caesarea is waste and Jerusalem is flourishing, or that Jerusalem is waste and Caesarea is flourishing, you may believe him, as it says, I shall be filled, she is laid waste;37 if this one is filled, that one is laid waste, and if that one is filled, this one is laid waste. R. Nahman b. Isaac derived the same lesson from here: and the one people shall be stronger than the other people.38 R. Isaac also said: What is the meaning of the verse, Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness?39 Isaac said in the presence of the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, let mercy be shown to Esau. He replied: He is wicked. He said to Him; He has not learnt righteousness.40 He replied: In the land of uprightness41 will he deal wrongfully.42 He said: If so, let him not behold the majesty of the Lord.42
R. Isaac also said: What is meant by the verse, Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked, draw not out his bit,43 so that they exalt themselves, selah?44 Jacob said before the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, grant not to Esau the wicked the desire of his heart, draw not out his bit:
(1) A more probable reason is that Kinnereth is shaped like a harp.
(2) A name given to Babylon in Jer. XXV, 26; LI, 41.
(3) Tiberias was for many centuries a great centre of Jewish learning, especially in the field of Biblical study.
(4) שרידים ‘left’, ‘escaped’. A name given to Israel, after Jer. XXXI, 1.
(5) Babylon, so called because it was low-lying.
(7) The land of Israel, so called after Dan. XI, 16.
(8) Which shows that all are agreed that Rakath is Tiberias.
(9) Heb. rekanin, lit., ‘empty ones’.
(10) Heb. tibbur, lit., ‘navel’.
(11) Heb. Tobah Re'Iathah.
(12) Jud. I, 30.
(13) Ibid. V, 18. E.V. jeopardised their lives to the death’.
(15) A small shell-fish from which was extracted the purple colour used for the fringes.
(16) Deut. XXXIII, 19.
(17) Much used for salting or pickling and an important article of commerce in ancient Palestine.
(18) Which was made from the sand of Zebulun. [This was a source of wealth owing to the difficulty of the process for producing colourless glass among the ancients. V. Krauss T.A. II, 286.]
(19) If they are cheating me.
(21) Left by the goats after eating dates.
(22) [Near Pumbeditha. The parallel passage (Keth. 112a) has Be Mikse (cf. also בי כסי in MS.M. a.l.). On the geographical names v. Keth., Sonc. ed. p. 724 notes.]
(23) As a parasang was four miles, this would be about eight times the extent of Zebulun's trail.
(24) Zeph. II, 4.
(25) [Caesarea by the Sea is designated ‘the daughter of Edom’ because it was an outpost of the Roman Empire, Edom being in Rabbinic literature the prototype of Imperial Rome.]
(26) Lit. ‘a peg driven into Israel’.
(27) This seems to be a mistake for Zor (Tyre) which is the reading of MS.M. The Aruk reads Shed, lit., ‘demons’. [The reference is probably to the conquest of Caesarea by Alexander Jannaeus, v. Josephus Ant. XIII, 15, n. Cf. also Meg. Ta'an. III. The old name of Caesarea was Strato's Tower, after the Phoenician king Strato, its founder. The reading ‘shed’
(demon) contains perhaps at allusion to the worship of Astarte by the original inhabitants. On the other readings v. Hildesheimer, H. Beitrage z. Geographie Palastinas, pp. 4ff]
(28) Zech. IX, 7.
(29) Beth Bamya. Lit., ‘house of high places’.
(30) Beth Galya. Lit., ‘house of revelation’. [These terms are taken by others as names of idolatrous shrines, the former being identified with Dajr al Banat and the latter with Bait Galia, both in the neighbourhood of Bethlehem. V. Horowitz S. Palestine, pp. 126 and 129.]
(31) I.e., the Roman Empire.
(32) Zech. IX, 7.
(33) Where the Roman Games took place.
(34) More correctly Panias, Caesarea Philippi, the modern Banias, a place near the source of the Jordan.
(35) This may mean either that it was a capital of Palestine or that some of its Roman Governors became Emperors.
(36) Probably Rome is meant.
(37) Ezek. XXVI, 2, of Tyre and Jerusalem.
(38) Gen. XXV, 23.
(39) Isa. XXVI,10.
(40) Rashi renders: ‘Can not one find a plea on his behalf’.
(41) I.e., the land of Israel.
(43) E.V., ‘further not his evil device’.
(44) Ps, CXL, 9.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 6b
this refers to Germamia of Edom,1 for should they but go forth they would destroy the whole world. R. Hama b. Hanina said: There are three hundred crowned heads in Germamia of Edom and three hundred and sixty-five chieftains in Rome,2 and every day one set go forth to meet the other and one of them is killed, and they have all the trouble of appointing a king again.
R. Isaac also said: If a man says to you, I have laboured and not found, do not believe him. If he says, I have not laboured but still have found, do not believe him. If he says,I have laboured and found, you may believe him. This is true in respect of words of Torah,3 but in respect of business, all depends on the assistance of heaven. And even for words of Torah this is true only of penetrating to the meaning,4 but for remembering what one has learnt, all depends on the assistance of heaven.
R. Isaac also said: If you see a wicked man being favoured by fortune,5 do not contend with him, as it says, Do not contend with evildoers.6 Nor is this all, but he may even prosper in his undertakings, as it says, His ways prosper at all times.7 Nor is this all, but he may even be declared right, as it says, Thy judgments are far above out of his sight.8 Nor is this all, but he may even triumph over his enemies, as it says, As for all his adversaries, he puffeth at them.8 Is this so? Has not R. Johanan said in the name of R. Simeon b. Yohai: It is permitted to contend with the wicked in this world, as it says, They that forsake the law praise the wicked, but such as keep the law contend with them.9 Also it has been taught: R. Dosethai b. Mathon says: It is permitted to contend with the wicked in this world. And if one should whisper to you saying, [As for the text] Do not contend with evildoers, neither be thou envious against them that work unrighteousness, one whose conscience smites him speaks thus, and the meaning is, Do not contend with the evildoer to be like evildoers, neither be envious of such as work unrighteousness; and so it says also, Let not thy heart envy sinners?10 — There is no contradiction; the one [piece of advice] refers to one's own affairs the other to religious matters.11 Or if you like I may say that both refer to one's own affairs, and still there is no contradiction: the one is addressed to a man who is wholly righteous, and the other to one who is not wholly righteous,12 as R. Huna said: What is the meaning of the verse, Wherefore lookest thou when they deal treacherously, and holdest thy peace when the wicked swalloweth up the man that is more righteous than he?13 He can swallow up one that is more righteous than himself, he cannot swallow up one that is completely righteous. Or if you like I can say that when fortune is smiling on him, the case is different.
‘Ulla said: ‘Greek Italy’14 is the great city of Rome,15 which covers an area of three hundred parasangs by three hundred. It has three hundred markets corresponding to the number of days of the solar year. The smallest of them is that of the poultry sellers, which is sixteen mil by sixteen. The king dines every day in one of them. Everyone who resides in the city, even if he was not born there, receives a regular portion of food from the king's household,16 and so does everyone who was born there, even if he does not reside there. There are three thousand baths in it, and five hundred windows the smoke from which goes outside the wall.17 One side of it is bounded by the sea, one side by hills and mountains, one side by a barrier of iron, and one side by pebbly ground and swamp.18
MISHNAH. IF THE MEGILLAH HAS BEEN READ IN THE FIRST ADAR AND THE YEAR HAS SUBSEQUENTLY BEEN PROLONGED,19 IT IS READ AGAIN IN THE SECOND ADAR. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE FIRST ADAR AND THE SECOND ADAR SAVE ONLY IN THE READING OF THE MEGILLAH AND THE DISTRIBUTION OF GIFTS TO THE POOR.20
GEMARA. This [last statement] implies that in respect of the series of special portions21 they are on the same footing.22 Which authority does the Mishnah follow? [It would seem], neither the First Tanna nor R. Eliezer son of R. Jose nor R. Simon b. Gamaliel [in the following Baraitha], as it has been taught: ‘If the Megillah has been read in the first Adar and the year has then been prolonged,it is read in the second Adar, since all the precepts which are to be performed in the second Adar can be performed in the first,23 except the reading of the Megillah’. R. Eliezer son of R. Jose says that it is not to be read [again] in the second Adar, because all precepts that are to be performed in the second Adar may be performed in the first. R. Simon b. Gamaliel says in the name of R. Jose that it is to be read again in the second, because precepts which are to be performed in the second Adar may not be performed in the first. They all however agree in regard to mourning and fasting, that they are forbidden on [the fourteenth and fifteenth of] both. Does not R. Simon b. Gamaliel here repeat the First Tanna? — R. Papa replied: They differ on the question of the series of special portions — the First Tanna holding that these should in the first instance be read in the second [Adar], but if they have been read in the first, this suffices. [But he also] excludes from this ruling the reading of the Megillah, [holding that], even though it has been read in the first [Adar], it must be read again in the second. R. Eliezer son of R. Jose on the other hand held that even the Megillah may in the first instance be read in the first [Adar], and R. Simon b. Gamaliel held that even the series of special portions, if they have been read in the first [Adar], must be read again in the second. Which authority then [does our Mishnah follow]? If [you say] the First Tanna, there is the difficulty of gifts.24 If [you say] R. Eliezer son of R. Jose, there is the difficulty of the reading of the Megillah also. If [you say] R. Simon b. Gamaliel, there is the difficulty of the series of special portions! — In fact it is the First Tanna, and when he mentioned the reading of the Megillah, we suppose the same to apply to the gifts of the poor, since one depends on the other. Or if you like, I can say that in fact it is R. Simon b. Gamaliel, and there is an omission25 in our Mishnah and what it means is this: ‘There is no difference between the fourteenth of the first Adar and the fourteenth of the second Adar save in the matter of reading the Megillah and gifts to the poor’. from which we infer that in regard to mourning and fasting they are on the same footing, while in regard to the special portions no ruling is given.26 R. Hiyya b. Abin said in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah27 is as laid down by R. Simon b. Gamaliel, who gave it in the name of R. Jose. R. Johanan said: Both of them [R. Simon and R. Eliezer son of R. Jose] based their opinions on the same text, in every year.28 R. Eliezer son of Jose reasoned: ‘In every year’; just as in most years [we think of] Adar as the month which adjoins Shebat, so here [we keep the precepts] in the Adar which adjoins Shebat. R. Simon b. Gamaliel again reasoned: Just as in most years [we think of] Adar as adjoining Nisan, so here [we keep the precepts] in the Adar which adjoins Nisan. Now we understand R. Eliezer son of R. Jose taking the view he did, because it is inherently probable, it being a rule that we do not postpone the performance of religious precepts.29 But what is the reason of R. Simon b. Gamaliel? — R. Tabi said: The reason of R. Simon b. Gamaliel is that more weight is to be attached to bringing one period of redemption close to another.30 R. Eleazar said: The reason of R. Simon b. Gamaliel is derived from this verse: to confirm this second letter of Purim.31 And it was necessary for the text to write
(1) There was another Germamia which was probably the land of the Cimmerians. [Rieger, P. (MGWJ. LXXX, p. 455) identifies it with Carminia, the Persian Kerman.]
(2) This word seems to be an interpolation.
(3) I.e., of the effort to gain enlightenment from the Torah.
(4) Lit,, ‘sharpening’ (the understanding).
(5) Lit., ‘on whom the hour smiles’.
(6) Ps. XXXVII, 1. E.V. ‘fret not thyself because of evildoers’.
(7) Ps. X, 5.
(9) Prov. XXVIII,4.
(10) Prov. XXIII, 17. R. Johanan and R. Dosethai say that it is not permissive to contend with the wicked, which contradicts R. Isaac.
(11) In regard to which it is permissible to contend with the wicked.
(12) For whom it is not safe to contend with the wicked.
(13) Hab. I, 13.
(14) ‘Ulla probably had in mind the saying quoted in the Midrash of Cant. that when Jeroboam made the golden calf (according to another version, when Manasseh brought the image into the Temple), the angel Gabriel stuck a pole in the sea, and a dry place was formed on which subsequently Rome was built.
(15) [home is so designated on account of the great influence of the Greek civilization on the Roman, v. Bacher, REJ, XXXIII, p. 190.]
(16) [Alluding to the regular distribution of corn and money in Rome.]
(17) The windows being higher than the wall of the city. Another reading is: ‘Each one of them has five hundred windows, the smoke, etc.’ [The allusion is to the famous thermal baths constructed by Diocletian (284-304).]
(18) [The reference is respectively to the Tiber, the wall erected by the Emperor Aurelius (271-276) and to the Ostian Marshes (stagno di ostia). For the other allusions in this hyerbolic description of Rome, v. Bacher, op. cit. pp. 190ff.]
(19) By the intercalation of a second Adar.
(20) This statement is immediately discussed in the Gemara.
(21) The special portions of Shekalim (Ex. XXX, 11-16), Zakor (Deut. XXV, 17-19), Parah (Num. XIX, 1-22) and ha-Hodesh (Ex. XII, 1-20) read in the synagogue between the Sabbath preceding the first of Adar and the first of Nisan. V. infra 29a.
(22) I.e., if they had been read in the first of Adar and the year is then proclaimed a leap year, they need not be read again in the second.
(23) l.e., if they have been performed in the first and the year is then prolonged, they need not be performed again.
(24) Since, as he does not mention gifts, we presume that he allows these to be made in the first Adar.
(25) These words are out of place here and seem not to have been read by Rashi. If we omit them we translate: ‘and the meaning of the Mishnah is as follows’. The omission in fact, as will be seen, is not in the Mishnah but in the Gemara which immediately follows it.
(26) It is this last clause which was omitted from the Gemara above.
(27) [הלכה So MSS.; cur. edd. הך כתא]
(28) Esth. IX, 27.
(29) I.e., we perform them at the first opportunity, even though it is also permissible to perform them later.
(30) Viz., Purim to Passover.
(31) Ibid. 29.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 7a
‘the second’ and also to write ‘in every year’. For if I had to base the rule on ‘every year’, I could raise the difficulty stated above: therefore it is written ‘second’.1 And if I had been told only ‘second’, I might say that the Megillah is properly to be read both in the first and in the second. Therefore it says, in every year.2 And what does R. Eliezer son of R. Jose make of this second’? — He requires it for the statement enunciated by R. Samuel b. Judah. For R. Samuel b. Judah said: At first they [Mordecai and Esther] decreed the observance of Purim only in Susa, but afterwards3 throughout the world.
R. Samuel b. Judah said: Esther sent to the Wise Men saying, Commemorate me4 for future generations. They replied, You will incite the ill will of the nations against us.5 She sent back reply: I am already recorded in the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia. Rab and R. Hanina and R. Johanan and R. Habiba record [the above statement in this form]:
(in the whole of the Order Mo'ed, wherever this set of Rabbis is mentioned, R. Johanan is replaced by R. Jonathan):6 Esther sent to the Wise Men saying, Write an account of me for posterity. They sent back answer, Have I not written for thee three times7 — three times and not four?8 [And they refused] until they found a verse written in the Torah, Write this a memorial in a book,9 [which they expounded as follows]: ‘Write this’, namely, what is written here and in Deuteronomy;10 ‘for a memorial’, namely, what is written in the Prophets;11 ‘in a book’, namely, what is written in the Megillah. The difference [between the first and second of these opinions] is also found between two Tannaim. ‘Write this’, what is written here.12 ‘For a memorial’, namely, what is written in Deuteronomy. ‘In a book’, namely, what is written in the Prophets. So R. Joshua.13 R. Eliezer of Modi'im says: Write this’, namely, what is written here and in Deuteronomy; for a memorial’, namely, what is written in the Prophets; ‘in a book’, namely, what is written in the Megillah.
Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel; [The scroll] of Esther does not make the hands unclean.14 Are we to infer from this that Samuel was of opinion that Esther was not composed15 under the inspiration of the holy spirit? How can this be, Seeing that Samuel has said that Esther was composed under the inspiration of the holy spirit? — It was composed to be recited [by heart], but not to be written. The following objection was raised: ‘R. Meir says that [the scroll of] Koheleth16 does not render the hands unclean, and that about the Song of Songs there is a difference of opinion. R. Jose says that the Song of Songs renders the hands unclean, and about Koheleth there is a difference of opinion. R. Simeon says that Koheleth is one of those matters in regard to which Beth Shammai were more lenient and Beth Hillel more stringent, but Ruth and the Song of Songs and Esther [certainly] make the hands unclean’! — Samuel concurred with R. Joshua.17
It has been taught: R. Simeon b. Menasia said: Koheleth does not render the hands unclean because it contains only the wisdom of Solomon.18 They said to him], Was this then all that he composed? Is it not stated elsewhere, And he spoke three thousand proverbs,19 and it further says, Add thou not unto his words.?20 Why this further quotation? — In case you might object that he composed very much, and what it pleased him to write he wrote and what it did not please him he did not write. Therefore it says,21 Add thou not to his words.22
It has been taught: R. Eleazar said: Esther was composed under the inspiration of the holy spirit, as it says, And Haman said in his heart.23 R. Akiba says: Esther was composed under the inspiration of the holy spirit, as it says, And Esther obtained favour in the eyes of all that looked upon her.24 R. Meir says: Esther was composed under the inspiration of the holy spirit, as it says, And the thing became known to Mordecai.25 R.Jose b. Durmaskith said: Esther was composed under the inspiration of the holy spirit, as it says, But on the spoil they laid not their hands,26 Said Samuel: Had I been there,27 I would have given a proof superior to all, namely, that it says, They confirmed and took upon them,28 [which means] they confirmed above29 what they took upon themselves below. Raba said: All the proofs can be confuted except that of Samuel, which cannot be confuted. [Thus,] against that of R. Eleazar it may be objected that it is reasonable to suppose that Haman would think so, because there was no one who was so high in the esteem of the king as he was, and that when he spoke at length,30 he was only expressing the thought concerning himself. Against the proof of R. Akiba it may be objected that perhaps the fact is as stated by R. Eleazar, who said that these words show that to every man she appeared to belong to his own nation.31 Against R. Meir it may be objected that perhaps the fact is as stated by R. Hiyya b. Abba who said that Bigthan and Teresh were two men from Tarsis.32 Against the proof of R. Jose b. Durmaskith it may be objected that perhaps they33 sent messengers. Against the proof of Samuel certainly no decisive objection can be brought. Said Rabina: This bears out the popular saying, Better is one grain of sharp pepper than a basket full of pumpkins. R. Joseph said: It34 can be proved from here: And these days of Purim shall not fail from among the Jews.35 R. Nahman b. Isaac said, From here: Nor the memorial of them perish from their seed.36 .
AND GIFTS TO THE POOR. R. Joseph learnt: And sending portions one to another37 that means two portions38 for one man. And gifts to the poor39 that means two gifts to two men.40 R. Judah Nesi'ah41 sent to R. Oshaia the leg of a third-born calf42 and a barrel of wine. He sent him back word saying,
(1) To show that it must be the Adar adjoining Nisan.
(2) To show that it is to be read only once even in leap years.
(3) By means of this second letter.
(4) Lit., ‘fix me’, by means of a book and a festival.
(5) Who will accuse the Jews of rejoicing at their downfall and celebrating it.
(6) This is evidently a gloss made by a later commentator.
(7) Prov. XXII, 20. (E. V. ‘have I not written unto thee excellent things’.) The meaning is, Is not the war of Israel against Amalek mentioned three times in Scripture.
(8) The three times are (i) Ex. XVII, 8-16; (ii) Deut. XXV, 17-19; (iii) I Sam. XV.
(9) Ex. XVII, 14, referring to the war against Amalek.
(10) Which, being both in the Pentateuch, are counted as one.
(11) Viz., the Book of Samuel.
(12) In Ex. XVII.
(13) Who thus holds that the Megillah was not meant to be written.
(14) Like the scrolls of other books of the Scripture. V. Shab.14.
(15) Lit., ‘said’.
(17) That the Megillah was not meant to be written.
(18) And not inspired wisdom.
(19) I kings, V, 12. Since these were not written and Ecclesiastes was, we may conclude that the latter was inspired.
(20) Prov. XXX, 6.
(21) Lit., ‘come and hear’.
(22) Which shows that whatever he wrote down was inspired.
(23) Esth. VI, 6. How could the author know this if he was not inspired?
(24) Ibid. II, 15. Cf. previous note.
(25) Ibid. 22. Who revealed it to him if not the holy spirit?
(26) Ibid. IX, 10. Cf. note 8.
(27) among the Tannaim who discussed this matter.
(28) Ibid. 27.
(29) In heaven.
(30) ‘As for the man whom the king deligheth to honour’ etc.
(31) V. infra 13a.
(32) V. infra 13b.
(33) Those in the more distant parts.
(34) That Esther was written under the inspiration of the holy spirit.
(35) Esth. IX, 28.
(36) Ibid. R. Nahman prefers the second half of the verse, because the first half might refer only to that generation.
(37) Ibid. 22.
(38) The minimum number of ‘portions’ being two.
(40) The minimum number of the plural אביונים ‘poor’ being two. Or it may mean that a gift is twice as big as a portion (Maharsha).
(41) R. Judah, the Prince II.
(42) So Rashi. Aliter: ‘a third grown’; ‘in the third year’ — which was supposed to be specially good.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 7b
You have fulfilled in our person, O our teacher, the words, and sending portions one to another.1 Rabbah sent to Mari b. Mar by Abaye a sackful of dates and a cupful of roasted ears of corn. Said Abaye to him: Mari will now say, ‘If a countryman becomes a king, he does not take his basket off his neck’.2 The other [Mari] sent him [Rabbah] back a sackful of ginger and a cup full of long-stalked pepper. Said Abaye: Now the Master [Rabbah] will say, I sent him sweet and he sends me bitter. Abaye said: When I went out of the Master's [Rabbah's] house, I was already full, but when I reached the other place3 they set before me sixty dishes of sixty different preparations, and I had sixty pieces from them. The last preparation was called pot-roast, and [I liked it so much that] I wanted to lick the dish after it. Said Abaye: This bears out the popular saying, The poor man is hungry and does not know it,4 or the other saying, There is always room for sweet things. Abaye b. Abin and R. Hananiah b. Abin used to exchange their meals with one another.5
Raba said: It is the duty of a man to mellow himself [with wine] on Purim until he cannot tell the difference between cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordecai’.6
Rabbah and R. Zera joined together in a Purim feast. They became mellow, and Rabbah arose and cut R. Zera's throat.7 On the next day he prayed on his behalf and revived him. Next year he said, Will your honour come and we will have the Purim feast together. He replied: A miracle does not take place on every occasion. Raba said: If one eats his Purim feast on the night [of the fourteenth], he does not thereby fulfil his obligation. What is the reason? It is written, days of feasting and gladness.8 R. Ashi was sitting before R. Kahana. It grew late, and still the Rabbis did not arrive. He said to him, Why have not the Rabbis come? Perhaps they are busy with the Purim feast. He said to him: Could they not have had it last night? He replied: Is your honour not acquainted with the diction of Raba, ‘If one eats his Purim feast on the night [of the fourteenth], he does not thereby fulfil his obligation’? He said to him; Did Raba really say so?
(He replied Yes).9 He then repeated it after him forty times, until he had safely stored it in his mind.10
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN FESTIVALS AND SABBATH SAVE ONLY IN THE MATTER OF [PREPARING] FOOD.11
GEMARA . We can infer from this that in the matter of preliminaries for preparing food12 they are on the same footing. The Mishnah then does not agree with R. Judah, as it has been taught: ‘There is no difference between festivals and Sabbath save in the matter of [preparing] food’. R. Judah, however, permits [on the festivals] the preliminaries for preparing food.12 What is the reason of the First Tanna? The Scripture says: [Save that which every man must eat], that only [shall be prepared]:13 that and not its preliminaries. R. Judah, on the other hand, stresses the word for you:14 for you, which means, for all your requirements. Why then does not the other also admit this, seeing that it is written, ‘for you’? — [This, he says, means], ‘for you’ and not for non-Jews; ‘for you’ and not for dogs. And [why does not] the other [adopt this view], seeing that it is written, ‘that only’? [He replies]: It is written, ‘that only’, and it is written, ‘for you’; we apply the one to preliminaries which can be attended to on the day before the festival, and the other to preliminaries which cannot be attended to on the day before the festival.
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SABBATH AND THE DAY OF ATONEMENT SAVE ONLY THAT THE DELIBERATE VIOLATION OF THE ONE IS PUNISHED BY A HUMAN COURT AND THE DELIBERATE VIOLATION OF THE OTHER BY KARETH.15
GEMARA. It is to be inferred from this that in respect of compensation16 they are on the same footing. Whose view does the Mishnah follow? — That of R. Nehunia b. ha-Kaneh, as it has been taught: R. Nehunia b. ha-Kaneh used to put the Day of Atonement on the same footing as Sabbath in respect of compensation: just as [one who deliberately breaks] Sabbath forfeits his life but is released from the obligation to make compensation,17 so [one who deliberately breaks] the Day of Atonement forfeits his life but is released from the obligation to make compensation.
We have learnt elsewhere: If any who have incurred the penalty of kareth are flogged — they become quit of their kareth, as it says, Then thy brother should be dishonoured in thine eyes;18 once he has been flogged, he is like thy brother.19 So R. Hananiah b. Gamaliel. Said R. Johanan: The colleagues of R. Hananiah b. Gamaliel joined issue with him on this point. Raba said, They said in the school of Rab: We have [also] learnt [this]:20 There is no difference between the Day of Atonement and Sabbath save that he who breaks the one is punished by a human court, while he who breaks the other is punished with kareth. Now if [R. Hananiah's opinion] is correct, then both are punished by the human court?21 — R. Nahman replied: Whose view is this?22 That of R. Isaac, who said that lashes are never inflicted on those who have incurred kareth, as it has been taught: Those who have incurred kareth are included in the general statement.23 Why then is kareth specially mentioned in the case of [one who lies with] his sister?24 To show that she is punished with kareth and not with lashes.25 R. Ashi said: You may even say that it26 is the view of the Rabbis:27 in the case of the one [the breaker of Sabbath], the essential [punishment for] his presumption is inflicted by the human court, but in the case of the other, the essential punishment for his presumption consists in ‘being cut off’.28
(1) [Cur. ed. add: and ‘gifts to the poor’].
(2) As much as to say, Although you have become head of the Academy (in Pumbeditha), you send very ordinary gifts.
(3) The house of Mari.
(4) Till the food is actually set before him.
(5) According to Rashi, this means that one provided the feast one year and the other the next. More naturally it could mean that they sent their meals to one another and thereby fulfilled the obligation of ‘sending portions to one another’
(6) [The two phases have the same numerical value, 502.]
(7) Apparently without actually killing them But cf. Maharsha.
(8) Esth. IX, 22.
(9) These words are bracketed in the text.
(10) Lit., ‘and he was (then) like one who had put it in his purse’.
(11) Lit., ‘food of the person’. I.e., that food for the day may be cooked on festivals but not on Sabbath.
(12) E.g., the sharpening of a knife.
(13) Ex. XII, 16; relating to the Passover.
(15) I.e., by the hand of heaven. V. Lev. XXIII, 30 and Glos.
(16) For damage done by the act of transgression.
(17) The lesser penalty being merged in the larger penalty.
(18) Deut. XXV, 3.
(19) Which shows that he is not ‘cut off’.
(20) That there is a difference of opinion.
(21) And the one who is flogged for breaking Yom Kippur becomes quit of kareth.
(22) That of our Mishnah. (9) And not of the colleagues of R. Hananiah.
(23) Of the punishment for incest. Lev. XVIII, 29.
(24) In Lev. XX, 17.
(25) And the same applies to all other cases punishable by kareth. V. Mak. 13b.
(26) Our Mishnah.
(27) And still there is no difference between them and R. Hananiah.
(28) ,rfv cf. Num. XV, 31; though lashes may also be inflicted.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 8a
MISHNAH.THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONE WHO IS INTERDICTED BY VOW TO HAVE NO BENEFIT FROM HIS NEIGHBOUR AND ONE WHO IS INTERDICTED BY VOW FROM HIS FOOD, SAVE IN THE MATTER OF SETTING FOOT [ON HIS PROPERTY] AND OF UTENSILS WHICH ARE NOT USED FOR [PREPARING] FOOD.1
GEMARA. It is to be inferred from this that in the matter of utensils which are used for preparing food they are on the same footing.
SETTING FOOT. But people are not particular about this?2 — Raba said: Whose view is this? R. Eleazar's, who said that [even] a thing which is usually excused3 is forbidden to one who vows to have no benefit.
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VOWS AND FREEWILL-OFFERINGS SAVE THAT VOWED OFFERINGS HAVE TO BE REPLACED4 BUT FREEWILL-OFFERINGS NEED NOT BE REPLACED.
GEMARA. It is to be inferred from this that in respect of ‘not delaying’5 they are on the same footing.
We have learnt in another place: What is a vow? Where a man says, I take upon me the obligation to bring a burnt-offering. What is a freewill-offering? Where a man says, Behold this is [to be] a burnt-offering. What then is the [practical] difference between vows and freewill-offerings? — If vowed animals die or are stolen or lost, the one who offered is under obligation to replace them;6 if freewill-offerings die or are stolen or lost, he is not under obligation to replace them.7 Whence is this rule derived? — As our Rabbis have taught: And it shall be accepted for him to make atonement upon him:8 R. Simeon says: That which is ‘upon him’9 he is under obligation to replace.10 How is it implied [that this substitute is upon him’]? — R. Isaac b. Abdini replied: Since he has said ‘[I take] upon me’, it is as if he had taken it upon his shoulder.
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ONE SUFFERING FROM AN ISSUE WHO MAKES TWO OBSERVATIONS11 AND ONE WHO MAKES THREE,12 SAVE IN THE MATTER OF BRINGING A SACRIFICE.13
GEMARA. From this it is to be inferred that in the matter of [defiling] a bed or a seat14 and counting seven days15 they are on the same footing. Whence is this rule derived? — As our Rabbis have taught: ‘R. Simai says: The text specified two [observations]16 and designated the man as unclean, and also specified three17 and designated him as unclean’. How do we explain this? Two bring uncleanness but do not entail a sacrifice, three entail a sacrifice. But cannot I say that two bring uncleanness but do not entail a sacrifice, while three entail a sacrifice but no uncleanness?18 — To this you may answer that before he has three observations he must have two.19 Let me say then that two observations entail a sacrifice but not uncleanness,18 whereas three bring uncleanness also? — Do not imagine such a thing, since it has been taught: And the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord from his issue;20 this implies that some persons with an issue bring a sacrifice and some do not.21 How is this? if he has three observations, he brings a sacrifice, if only two, he does not bring. Or shall we expound differently and say that if he has two he brings the sacrifice, but if three he does not? — You can reply to this that before he has three he must have had two.22 And both the exposition of R. Simai and the text ‘from his issue’ are necessary [to prove this point]. For if I had only the dictum of R. Simai, I could raise against it the objection mentioned, and therefore l have recourse to ‘from his issue’. And if I had only ‘from his issue’, I should not know how many observations [are necessary for a sacrifice]; therefore I have the dictum of R. Simai.23
Now, however, that you have assumed that the words ‘from his issue are to be used for a special exposition,24 [I may ask], what lesson do you derive front the words and when he that hath an issue is cleansed from his issue?25 That is required for the following lesson, as it has been taught: ‘And when he that hath an issue is cleansed’: that is to say, when the issue ceases.26 ‘From his issue’: that is to says from his issue [only], and not from both his issue and his leprosy.27 ‘Then he shall number’: this teaches us that one with an issue who has had two observations must count seven days [without issue]. But cannot this be deduced logically [as follows]?28 If he defiles bed and seat, shall he not [all the more] be required to count seven days?
(1) The latter may take these liberties, the former may not.
(2) And therefore if one takes this liberty, he cannot be said to be deriving any benefit.
(3) ויתור Aliter: ‘The (retailer's customary) addition (to exact measure)’, and the accenting of which is not counted as receiving a benefit.
(4) Lit., one is responsible for them’. V. infra.
(5) To fulfil the undertaking, in accordance with Deut. XXIII, 22.
(6) Because the vow still stands.
(7) Because the undertaking applied only to that particular animal.
(8) So lit. E.V, ‘for him’. Lev. I, 4.
(9) I.e.,the vow.
(10) Apparently R. Simeon renders: ‘Any animal will be accepted so long as it is "upon him"’.
(11) On a single day or two successive days.
(12) On one day or three successive days or two on one day and one on the next.
(13) V. Lev. XV, 13-15.
(14) Ibid. 4-6.
(15) For his cleansing, after the cessation of the issue. Ibid.13.
(16) Lev. XV, 2: When a man hath an issue out of his flesh, his issue is unclean.
(17) Ibid. 3: And this shall be his uncleanness in his issue: whether his flesh run with his issue, or his flesh be stopped from his issue, it is his uncleanness,
(18) Viz., the stringent uncleanness of one with an issue (cf. nn. 3-4), but only the lighter uncleanness resulting from a discharge of semen. V. Deut. XXIII, 11-12.
(19) And is already unclean as a zab.
(20) Ibid. 15.
(21) The proposition ‘from’ is stressed, as implying only part of these who have an issue.
(22) And so already become liable for the sacrifice.
(23) To show that it is three.
(24) I.e.,for some lesson not contained in the literal meaning of the words.
(25) Ibid. 13.
(26) V. next note.
(27) If the one with an issue was also a leper, he need not wait for his counting till he is healed of his leprosy.
(28) And why therefore is a text required?
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 8b
— This argument can be confuted by the case of the woman who is keeping day for day,1 for such a one defiles bed and seat2 but does not count seven days. And thus do not be surprised that this one also, although he defiles bed and seat, should not be obliged to count seven days. Therefore it says, ‘from his issue, and he shall number’, which implies that after part of his issue3 he shall number; this teache2 with regard to one with an issue who has had two observations that he is required to count seven days.
R. Papa said to Abaye: Why do we use the one text ‘from his issue’ to include4 one with an issue who has had two observations, and the other text ‘from his issue’ to exclude5 one with an issue who has had two observations? — He replied: If you should assume that the former text6 is for the purpose of excluding, then the text could simply omit the word. And should you say, we could then derive the rule [that he is to count seven days] by a logical deduction, such a deduction could be confuted by the case of the woman who counts day for day. And should you say that this word is required to show that the text refers to one who is cleansed of his issue [only] and not [of his issue and] his leprosy, — in that case the text should say, ‘and when he that hath an issue is cleansed’, and no more. Why do I require, ‘from his issue’? This teaches that one with an issue who has two observations is required to count seven days.
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEPER WHO IS UNDER ORSERVATION7 AND ONE DEFINITELY DECLARED SUCH8 SAVE IN THE MATTER OF LEAVING THE HAIR LOOSE9 AND RENDING THE GARMENTS.10 THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEPER WHO HAS BEEN DECLARED CLEAN8 AFTER BEING UNDER OBSERVATION11 AND ONE WHO HAS BEEN DECLARED CLEAN8 AFTER HAVING BEEN DEFINITELY DECLARED A LEPER SAVE IN THE MATTER OF SHAVING AND [OFFERING] THE BIRDS.12
GEMARA. From this it is to be inferred that in the matter of being sent outside [the camp]13 and uncleanness14 they are on the same footing. Whence is this rule15 derived? — As R. Samuel b. Isaac taught before R. Huna: Then the priest shall pronounce him clean; it is a scab; and he shall wash his clothes and be clean;16 which implies that he shall already have been [in a sense] clean17 from the first, not having been liable to rending the garments and loosening the hair. Said Raba to him. If that is so, then in regard to one with an issue, of whom it is written, and he shall wash his garments and be clean,18 how is it possible to say that he shall have been clean from the start? What it means then is, ‘clean now so far as not to defile earthenware vessels by moving them’,19 so that, even if he observes an issue again, he does not defile them retrospectively. So here, [the meaning is that] the leper is clean now to the extent of not defiling retrospectively by his entrance!20 The fact is, said Raba, that we learn it from here: And the leper in whom the plague is;21 [that means] one whose leprosy is due to the state of his body, excluding this one22 whose leprosy is due to days.23 Said Abaye to him: If that is so, then when it says, All the days wherein the plague is in him he shall be unclean,24 are we to say that one whose leprosy is due to his state of body is required to be sent out of the camp, but one whose leprosy is not due to his state of body is not to be sent out of the camp? And should you reply that that is so, [how can this be] seeing that it states, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEPER UNDER OBSERVATION AND ONE DEFINITELY DECLARED SUCH SAVE IN THE MATTER OR LOOSENING THE HAIR AND RENDING THE GARMENTS, from which it may be inferred that in the matter of being sent out [of the camp] and defiling by entrance they are on the same footing? — [The text might have said simply] ‘the days’, and it says, ‘all the days’, to bring a leper under observation within the rule of sending out [of the camp]. If that is the case, what is the reason that he is not required to shave and offer birds [which is not the case], as it states: THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A LEPER UNDER OBSERVATION AND ONE DEFINITELY DECLARED SUCH SAVE IN THE MATTER OF SHAVING AND OFFERING BIRDS? — Abaye replied: Scripture says: And the priest shall go forth out of the camp, and behold the plague of leprosy is healed in the leper;25 this means, one whose leprosy is such because it requires healing,26 and excludes one whose leprosy is such in virtue not of [requiring] healing but of days [of isolation].
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOOKS [OF THE SCRIPTURE]27 AND TEFILLIN AND MEZUZAHS28 SAVE THAT THE BOOKS MAY BE WRITTEN IN ANY LANGUAGE29 WHEREAS TEFILLIN AND MEZUZAHS MAY BE WRITTEN ONLY IN ASSYRIAN.30 R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAYS THAT BOOKS [OF THE SCRIPTURE] ALSO WERE PERMITTED [BY THE SAGES] TO BE WRITTEN ONLY IN GREEK.
GEMARA. [From this we infer] that for requiring [the sheets] to be stitched with sinews31 and for defiling the hands32 both are on the same footing.
BOOKS MAY BE WRITTEN IN ANY LANGUAGE. The following seems to conflict with this: ‘[A Scriptural scroll containing] a Hebrew text written33 in Aramaic or an Aramaic text written in Hebrew,34 or [either] in Hebraic script,35 does not defile the hands;36 [it does not do so] until it is written in Assyrian script upon a scroll and in ink’! — Raba replied: There is no contradiction;
(1) If a niddah (v. Glos.) who is counting her eleven days between the menses sees blood on one or two of the days, she need not count seven clean days but becomes clean after ablution on the evening of the following day. V. Sanh., Sonc. ed. p. 577, n. 2.
(2) V. Nid. 72b.
(3) Cf. p. 43. n. 10.
(4) Under the obligation to count seven days.
(5) From the obligation to bring a sacrifice.
(6) Lev. XV, 13.
(7) מוסגר Lit., ‘shut up’. V. Lev. XIII, 4.
(8) מוחלט Lit., ‘confirmed’; by the priest. Ibid. v. 11.
(9) Or ‘let his hair grow wild’, v. M.K 15a.
(10) Which is incumbent on the latter but not on the former. Ibid. 45.
(11) I.e., one in whom the suspicious signs did not develop into actual leprosy
(12) Which was incumbent on the latter. Lev. XIV, 2-7.
(13) V. Num. V, 2.
(14) The stringent laws of uncleanness to which lepers are subjected.
(15) That the leper under observation need not loosen his hair and rend his garments.
(16) Lev. XIII, 6, of the suspect in whom the signs do not develop.
(17) The Hebrew word being וטהר in the present tense (as if to say: ‘and he was already clean’), where the future ויטהר might have been used.
(18) Lev. XV, 13. Here again he present tense וטהר is used.
(19) Without touching them. Such a defilement is termed היסט
(20) The rule was that a leper by entering a room defiled persons and things within it. The question thus remains, Whence is this rule (v. p. 45, n. 9) derived?
(21) Lev. XIII, 45.
(22) The leper under observation.
(23) It is the seven days of his observation that cause him to be designated a leper, for should there be no change in the leper at the end of the seven days he is pronounced clean.
(24) Ibid. 46.
(25) Lev. XIV, 3.
(26) I.e., who has been declared definitely a leper. Only such a one has to shave and bring birds.
(27) This means apparently, scrolls of the Scriptural books.
(28) V. Glos.
(29) Apparently what is meant is that official translations for use in the synagogue may be made in any language. We know actually of two such — the Aramaic translation known as Targum Onkelos, and the Greek translation of Aquilas made under the supervision of R. Eleazar and R. Joshua.
(30) ‘Assyrian is used as the equivalent of Hebrew written in the square characters used for religious writings. This script was called ‘Assyrian’, the reason being that it came into common use after the return of the Jews from the Babylonian exile; v. Sanh. 21b, Sonc. ed. pp. 119ff and notes.
(31) And not merely with flax thread.
(32) V. supra p. 35, n. 11.
(33) I.e., translated into.
(34) E.g., the Chaldaic parts of Daniel and Ezra.
(35) כתב עברי The ancient Hebrew script (as found e.g., in the Siloam and Moabite inscriptions and old Jewish coins, and in modified form in Samaritan writing) which was in common use before the Exile. V. Sanh. ibid.
(36) Whereas the Mishnah seems to imply that they do.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 9a
the one statement [that of the Mishnah] speaks of [books written in] our script,1 the other of [books written in] their script.2 Said Abaye to him: How have you explained the other statement [that of the Baraitha]? As referring to their script. [If so], why should it say, ‘A Hebrew text written in Aramaic or an Aramaic text written in Hebrew’? The same would apply even to a Hebrew text which is written in Hebrew or an Aramaic text which is written in Aramaic, since it goes on to say. ‘till it is written in Assyrian on a scroll in ink’!3 No. [What you must say is], there is no contradiction: the one statement [in the Mishnah] represents the view of the Rabbis, the other that of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. But if it is the view of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel, what about Greek?4 — No. What you must say is, there is no contradiction; the one statement [in the Mishnah] refers to scrolls, the other to tefillin and mezuzahs. What is the reason [why] tefillin, and mezuzahs [must be written in Assyrian]? — Because in reference to them it is written, and they shall be,5 which implies, they shall be as they originally were. What cases are there of Aramaic which can be written in Hebrew? I grant you we find in the Torah yegar sahadutha;6 but here [in the case of tefillin, and mezuzoth] what Aramaic is there? — No. What you must say is, there is no contradiction; the one statement [in the Baraitha] refers to the Megillah, the other to the other books [of the Scripture]. What is the reason in the case of the Megillah? — Because it is written In regard to it, according to their writing and according to their language.7 What case of Aramaic being written in Hebrew is possible here? — R. Papa said: And the king's pithgam8 shall be published;9 R. Nahman b. Isaac said: And all the wives shall give yekar10 to their husbands.11 R. Ashi said: That statement [in the Baraitha] was made in reference to other books [of the Scripture], and it follows the view of R. Judah, as it has been taught: ‘Tefillin and mezuzahs are to be written only in Assyrian, but our Rabbis allowed them to be written in Greek also’.12 But is it not written, and they shall be? I must say therefore, ‘Scrolls of the Scripture may be written in any language, and our Rabbis permitted them to be written in Greek’.13 They permitted! This would imply that the First Tanna forbade it! What I must say therefore is, ‘Our Rabbis permitted them to be written only in Greek’. And it goes on to state, ‘R. Judah said: When our teachers permitted Greek, they permitted it only for a scroll of the Torah’.14 This was on account of the incident related in connection with King Ptolemy,15 as it has been taught: ‘It is related of King Ptolemy that he brought together seventy-two elders and placed them in seventy-two [separate] rooms, without telling them why he had brought them together, and he went in to each one of them and said to him, Translate16 for me the Torah of Moses your master.17 God then prompted each one of them and they all conceived the same idea and wrote for him, God created in the beginning,18 I shall make man in image and likeness,19 And he finished on the sixth day,and rested on the seventh day,20 Male and female he created him21 [but they did not write ‘created them’],22 Come let me descend and confound their tongues,23 And Sarah laughed among her relatives;24 For in their anger they slew an ox and in their wrath they digged up a stall;25 And Moses took his wife and his children, and made them ride on a carrier of men;26 And the abode of the children of Israel which they stayed in Egypt and in other lands was four hundred years,27 And he sent the elect of the children of Israel;28 And against the elect of the children of Israel he put not forth his hand;29
(1) Even though in another language.
(2) The Scriptural text was transliterated into the characters of a foreign language.
(3) This shows, according to Abaye, that the Baraitha is speaking of the language independently of the script.
(4) According to Abaye the Baraitha, in saying, ‘till it is written in Assyrian’ forbids even Greek, which is allowed by R. Simeon.
(5) Deut. VI, 8.
(6) Gen. XXXI, 47.
(7) Esth. VIII, 9.
(8) Aramaic for the Heb. dabar, ‘decree’.
(9) Ibid. I, 20.
(10) Aramaic for the Heb. kabod, ‘honour’.
(12) The quotation is here interrupted.
(13) The quotation is again interrupted.
(14) Thus R. Judah forbade other books of the Scripture to be written save in the original language.
(15) It seems to be an historical fact that a Greek translation of the Pentateuch was made in the time of King Ptolemy Philadelphus of Egypt (285-247), but many regard this as apocryphal; cf, The Letter of Aristeas.
(16) Lit., ‘write’.
(17) Here follow a number of cases in which the translation of the Elders did not follow the Massoretic text. We do not find all these variants in our texts of the Septuagint.
(18) Instead of ‘In the beginning God created’. The purpose of this change was apparently to prevent the idea of Two Powers being read into the text, i.e., ‘In the beginning’ and ‘God’. V. Rashi and Tosaf. a.I.
(19) Gen. 1, 26, instead of ‘Let us make’, for the same reason.
(20) Ibid. II, 2, instead of ‘and he finished on the seventh day’, which might be taken to imply that some work was done on the seventh day.
(21) Ibid. V, 2.
(22) Which might be taken to mean that they were separate from the first.
(23) Ibid. XI, 7: ‘me’ instead of ‘us’. V. n. 7.
(24) Ibid. XVIII, 12: instead of ‘in herself’, in order to make a distinction between Sarah and Abraham, who also laughed inwardly.
(25) Ibid. XLIX, 6: ‘ox’ instead of ‘man’, to save the name of Jacob's sons.
(26) Ex. IV, 20: carrier of men’ instead of ‘ass’, to save the dignity of Moses.
(27) Ibid. XII, 40. The words ‘and in other lands’ are inserted because, according to the Biblical record, the Israelites were at the utmost 210 years in Egypt.
(28) Ibid. XXIV, 5: ‘elect’ instead of ‘young men’, which is regarded as not suitable to the context.
(29) Ibid. 11 : ‘elect’ instead of ‘nobles’.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 9b
I have taken not one valuable of theirs;1 Which the Lord thy God distributed to give light to all the peoples;2 And he went and served other gods which I commanded should not be served.3 They also wrote for him ‘the beast with small legs’ and they did not write ‘the hare’,4 because the name of Ptolemy's wife was hare,5 lest he should say, The Jews have jibed at me and put the name of my wife in the Torah.
R. SIMEON B. GAMALIEL SAYS THAT BOOKS [OF THE SCRIPTURE] ALSO ARE PERMITTED TO BE WRITTEN ONLY IN GREEK. R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Johanan: The halachah follows R. Simeon b. Gamaliel. R. Johanan further said: What is the reason of R. Simeon b. Gamaliel? Scripture says, God enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem;6 [this means] that the words of Japheth7 shall be in the tents of Shem. But why not say [the words of] Gomer and Magog?8 — R. Hiyya b. Abba replied: The real reason is because it is written, Let God enlarge [yaft] Japheth: implying, let the chief beauty [yafyuth] of Japheth9 be in the tents of Shem.
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PRIEST ANOINTED WITH THE OIL OF ANOINTMENT AND ONE WHO [ONLY] WEARS THE ADDITIONAL GARMENTS10 SAVE IN THE MATTER OF THE BULLOCK WHICH IS OFFERED FOR THE [UNWITTING BREAKING OF] ANY OF THE COMMANDMENTS.11 THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REGULAR12 [HIGH] PRIEST AND ONE WHO HAS PASSED THROUGH [THE OFFICE]13 SAVE IN RESPECT OF THE BULLOCK OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT AND THE TENTH OF THE EPHAH.14
GEMARA. [BETWEEN THE PRIEST ANOINTED etc.]. From this we infer that in the matter of the bullock of the Day of Atonement and the tenth of the ephah they are on the same footing. The Mishnah, it appears, does not concur with R. Meir; for with regard to the view of R. Meir, it has been taught: ‘One who wears the additional garments [without having been anointed] brings the bullock which is offered [by the High Priest] for the [unwitting breaking of] any of the precepts’. So R. Meir. The Sages, however, say that he does not offer it. What is the reason of R. Meir? — As it has been taught: [If the] anointed [priest shall sin]:15 this tells me only of one anointed with the oil of anointment. How do I know that it applies also to one who [merely] wears the additional garments? — Because it says, the ‘anointed’.16 How have you explained [the Mishnah]? As not concurring with R. Meir. Look now at the next clause: THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A REGULAR HIGH PRIEST AND ONE WHO HAS PASSED THROUGH THE OFFICE SAVE IN THE MATTER OF THE BULLOCK OF THE DAY OF ATONEMENT AND THE TENTH OF THE EPHAH. We infer from this that in all other matters they are on the same footing; and so we come round to the view of R. Meir, as it has been taught: ‘If something happened to disqualify him and another priest was appointed to take his place, when the first returns to his service the second is still liable to all the obligations of the high priesthood’.17 So R. Meir. R. Jose said: The first returns to his service whereas the second is qualified to act neither as a high priest nor as an ordinary priest. R. Jose further said: it happened with R. Jose b. Ulam18 from Sepphoris that a disqualification occurred to the high priest and they appointed him in his place, and the case eventually came before the Sages and they said: The first returns to his service. The second is qualified to act neither as a high priest nor as an ordinary priest: as a high priest, so as not to create enmity,19 as an ordinary priest, because we can raise to a higher grade of holiness but we never put down to a lower.20 Are we then to say that the first clause [of the Mishnah] follows the Sages and the second R. Meir? — Said R. Hisda: Yes; the first clause follows the Sages and the second R. Meir. R. Joseph said: The whole gives the opinion of Rabbi, who combined the views of21 differing Tannaim.22
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE23 BETWEEN A GREAT HIGH PLACE24 AND A SMALL ONE25 SAVE IN THE MATTER OF THE PASCHAL LAMB OFFERING.26 THIS IS THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE: ANY ANIMAL WHICH IS THE OBJECT OF A VOW OR A FREEWILL-OFFERING MAY BE BROUGHT ON A [SMALL] HIGH PLACE, ANY ANIMAL WHICH IS NOT THE OBJECT OF A VOW OR A FREEWILL-OFFERING MAY NOT BE BROUGHT ON A [SMALL] HIGH PLACE.
GEMARA. THE PASCHAL LAMB and nothing else?27 — We should say, things like the paschal lamb.28 Whose view is this? — R. Simeon's, as it has been taught: ‘The congregation also did not offer [on the large high place] anything save paschal lambs and obligatory sacrifices for which there is a fixed time; but obligatory sacrifices for which there is no fixed time29 were not offered either on the one or the other’.
MISHNAH. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SHILOH30 AND JERUSALEM SAVE THAT IN SHILOH SACRIFICES OF LESSER SANCTITY31 AND SECOND TITHE32 COULD BE EATEN ANYWHERE WITHIN SIGHT [OF THE TOWN], WHEREAS IN JERUSALEM THEY HAD TO BE CONSUMED WITHIN THE WALLS. IN BOTH PLACES THE MOST HOLY SACRIFICES33 WERE EATEN WITHIN THE CURTAINS.34 AFTER THE SANCTIFICATION OF SHILOH
(1) Num. XVI, 15: ‘valuable’ for ‘ass’.
(2) Deut. IV, 19. The words ‘to give light’ are inserted, to guard against misunderstanding.
(3) Ibid. XVII, 3. The words ‘should be served’ are inserted, to avoid misunderstanding.
(4) In Lev. XI, 6.
(5) In fact, it was Ptolemy's father who was named ‘hare’ (**).
(6) Gen. IX, 27.
(7) Javan (Greece) is reckoned among the sons of Japheth in Gen. X, 2.
(8) Who are also reckoned among the sons of Japheth, loc. cit.
(9) I.e., the Greek language.
(10) I.e., the robe, the breastplate, the mitre and the plate, which were worn by the high priest but not by ordinary priests. High priests, according to tradition, ceased to be anointed from the days of Josiah.
(11) Lev. IV, 3.
(12) Lit., ‘officiating’.
(13) And who retired; i.e., one who was appointed to take the place of a High Priest while the latter is temporarily disqualified. When the disqualification is removed the High Priest returns to his duties while his substitute retires. V. infra.
(14) The daily offering of the High Priest. Lev. VI, 13-15. Only one person could make these two offerings.
(15) Lev. IV, 3.
(16) The definite article is regarded as adding something.
(17) E.g., to minister only in eight garments, not to mourn etc.
(18) [Or Ailim; joseph b. Ellimus mentioned in Josephus. V. Hor., Sonc. ed. p. 89, n. 5.]
(19) Between him and the original High priest.
(20) Hence, having served as a High Priest, he can never revert to the status of an ordinary one.
(21) Lit., ‘who took it according to’.
(22) For further notes on the whole passage v. Hor., Sonc. ed. pp. 88ff.
(23) In the period when the high places (Bamoth, sing. Bamah) were permitted, i.e., when there was no sanctuary at Shiloh or Jerusalem.
(24) Those at Nob and Gibeon, where the altar made by Moses was used for public services.
(25) Erected by any individual for private sacrifices.
(26) Which could be offered only on the large one.
(27) This seems to contradict the next clause, which implies that congregational sacrifices were brought on the large high places.
(28) As explained presently.
(29) E.g..the bullock offered in atonement for a sin committed unwittingly by the whole congregation.
(30) Shiloh was made the religious centre of the people in the time of Joshua (Josh. XVIII, 1), and remained such till the time of Samuel, when it seems to have been laid waste by the Philistines (cf. Jer. XXVI, 6, 9).
(31) Viz., peace-offerings, firstlings and tithe of cattle.
(32) Set aside on the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the seven-year cycle after the dues to the priests and levites had been paid. Their second tithe or redemption money was taken to Jerusalem and there consumed by the owners. V. Deut. XIV, 22ff.
(33) Viz., sin- and guilt-offerings, and congregational peace-offerings.
(34) This expression applies strictly only to the Tabernacle at Shiloh. The corresponding place in the Temple at Jerusalem was the space within the walls of the Temple court.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 10a
THE HIGH PLACES COULD AGAIN BECOME PERMITTED, BUT AFTER THE SANCTIFICATION OF JERUSALEM THERE CAN BE NO SUCH PERMISSION.
GEMARA. R. Isaac said: I have heard that sacrifices may be offered in the Temple of Onias1 at the present day.2 He was of opinion that the Temple of Onias is not an idolatrous shrine, and that the first holiness [of Jerusalem] was conferred on it for the time being but not for all time,3 as it is written, For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance.4 ‘Rest’ here means Shiloh and ‘inheritance’ means Jerusalem, and ‘inheritance’ is put on the same footing as ‘rest’, [to show that] just as after the [destruction of the] ‘rest’ the high places were again permitted, so after the [destruction of the] ‘inheritance’ they will be permitted. They said to him: Do you really say so? He replied, No. Said Raba: By God! he did say it and I learnt it from him. Why then did he retract? On account of the difficulty raised by R. Mari. For R. Mari adduced the following in confutation: AFTER THE SANCTIFICATION OF SHILOH HIGH PLACES CAN AGAIN BE PERMITTED, BUT AFTER THE SANCTIFICATION OF JERUSALEM THERE CAN BE NO SUCH PERMISSION. We have also learnt further: After they [the Israelites] occupied Jerusalem, the high places were forbidden, and they were never permitted again, and it was the ‘inheritance’. — There is a difference of Tannaim on this point, as we have learnt. ‘R. Eliezer said: I have heard that when they were building the hekal5 [in the second Temple] they made curtains for the hekal and for the courtyard,5 the difference being that in the hekal they built [the walls] outside [the curtains]6 and in the courtyard they built [the walls] within [the curtains]. And R. Joshua said: I have heard that sacrifices may be brought even though there is no temple; that the most holy foods may be eaten, even though there are no curtains; and that foods of lesser sanctity and second tithe may be eaten even though there is no wall, because the first holiness was conferred on Jerusalem7 both for the time being and for all time.’7 We infer from this8 that R. Eliezer was of opinion that it was not [at first] sanctified for all time.9 Said Rabina to R. Ashi: How can we draw this inference? Perhaps all agree that the first holiness was conferred upon it for the time being and for all time, and one Master reported what he had heard and the other what he had heard. Should you ask, In that case, why were curtains needed according to R. Eliezer, we can answer that they were merely for privacy. Rather it is the following Tannaim who differ on this point as it has been taught: ‘R. Ishmael son of R. Jose said: Why did the Sages enumerate these?10 Because when the exiles returned they found these cities [still walled] and sanctified them;11 the others,12 however, lost their privilege when the land lost its sanctity’. This shows that he was of opinion that the first holiness was conferred for the time being and not for the future. And a contradiction was pointed out with the following: ‘R. Ishmael son of R. Jose said: Were these all? Do we not find it said, Sixty cities, all the region of Argob,13 and it is written, All these were fortified cities with high walls?14 Why then did the Sages enumerate these? Because when the exiles returned, they found these [still walled] and sanctified them’.15 They sanctified then,
(1) A shrine built at Leontopolis in Egypt by Onias IV, a high priest who fled from Jerusalem. c. 154 B.C.E., v. Josephus, Ant. XIII, iii, 1ff and Men. 109b.
(2) This must refer to the period of the originator of the dictum, as the Temple of Onias did not exist any longer in the time of R. Isaac.
(3) Lit., ‘for the future to come’. Hence after its destruction the high places would again be permitted.
(4) Deut. XII, 9.
(5) We assume for the present that the reason for the curtains was to invest the place with holiness enabling sacrifices to be offered and eaten pending the construction of the walls.
(6) [To prevent the builders from either penetrating into the hekal or gazing into it whilst engaged in their work. V. Rashi a.I. and Shebu. 16a.]
(7) V. ‘Ed. VIII, 7 and Zeb. 107b.
(8) From the fact that curtains were required to confer holiness.
(9) This shows that Tannaim differ on this point.
(10) Nine cities enumerated in Tractate Arakin 32b as having been walled in the time of Joshua.
(11) I.e gave them the status of ‘walled towns’.
(12) Lit., ‘the earlier ones, i.e., all the others which had previously been walled.
(13) Deut. III, 4.
(14) Ibid. 4f.
(15) The quotation is here interrupted.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 10b
now, [say you]! Do we not say that they did not require to be sanctified?1 What [you should say is], they found these and enumerated them. And not only in these alone, but in every one in regard to which you shall find a tradition from your ancestors that it was walled from the days of Joshua son of Nun, all these precepts2 are to be observed, because the first holiness was conferred for the time being and for all future time. There is thus a contradiction between two statements of R. Ishmael! — Two Tannaim report R. Ishmael son of R. Jose differently.Or if you like, I can say that the latter dictum emanates from R. Eleazar b. Jose, as it has been taught: ‘R. Eleazar b. Jose says: That has [no] wall;3 even though it has not now, but it had in previous times.’
And it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus.4 R.Levi, or some say R. Jonathan said: The following remark is a tradition handed down to us from the Men of the Great Assembly:5 wherever in the Scripture we find the term wa-yehi[and it was, and it came to pass], it indicates [the approach of] trouble.6 Thus, and it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus — there was Haman. And it came to pass in the days when the Judges judged7 — ‘there was a famine’. And it came to pass when man began to multiply8 — then ‘God Saw that the wickedness of man was great’. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east9 — then ‘they said, come let us build a city’. And it came to pass in the days of Amrafel10 — then ‘they made war’. And it came to pass when Joshua was in Jericho11 — then ‘his [the angel's] sword was drawn in his hand’.12 And the Lord was [wa-yehi] with Joshua13 — then, ‘the children of Israel committed a trespass’, And there was a certain man of Ramathaim-Zophim14 — then, for he loved Hannah but the Lord had shut up her womb’. And it came to pass when Samuel was old15 — then, ‘his sons walked not in his ways’. And David had [wa-yehi] great success in all his ways16 — then, ‘And Saul eyed David’.17 And it came to pass when the king dwelt in his house18 — then, ‘Nevertheless thou shalt not build the house’.19 But is it not written, — And it came to pass on the eighth day,20 and it has been taught, ‘On that day there was joy before the Holy One, blessed be He, as on the day when heaven and earth were created. For it is written, And it came to pass [wa-yehi] on the eighth day, and it is written in the other place, And there was [wa-yehi] one day’?21 Nadab and Abihu died on that day. But is it not written, And it came to pass in the four hundred and eightieth year,22 And it came to pass when Jacob saw Rachel,23 and it is also written, And there there was evening and there was morning one day, and there is the second day and the third, and there are many other cases? — R. Ashi replied: The fact is that ‘wa-yehi’ sometimes has this signification and sometimes not, but the expression ‘and it came to pass in the days of’ always indicated trouble. Five times we find the expression ‘and it came to pass in the days of’; viz., ‘And it came to pass in the days when the Judges judged’, ‘and it came to pass in the days of Amrafel’, ‘and it came to pass in the days of Ahaz’,24 ‘and it came to pass in the days of Jehoiakim’.25
R. Levi further said: The following is a tradition that we have from our ancestors, that Amoz26 and Amaziah27 were brothers. What does this tell us?28 — It confirms what was said by R. Samuel b. Nahmani in the name of R. Jonathan: Every bride who is modest in the house of her father-in-law is rewarded by having kings and prophets among her descendants. How do we prove this? From Tamar, as it is written, And Judah saw her and thought her to be a harlot; for she had covered her face.29 Now because she had covered her face did he think her to be a harlot? Rather, what it means is that because she had covered her face in the house of her father-in-law and he did not know her, she was rewarded by having among her descendants kings and prophets; kings from David, and prophets — as R. Levi said, ‘It is a tradition handed down to us from our ancestors that Amoz and Amaziah were brothers’, and it is written, The vision of Isaiah son of Amoz.30
R. Levi further said: We have a tradition from our ancestors that the ark took up no room.31 It has been taught to the same effect: ‘The ark which Moses made had round it an [empty] space of ten cubits on every side’. Now it is written, And in front of the Sanctuary was twenty cubits in length [and twenty cubits in breadth],32 and it is also written, And the wing of the one cherub was ten cubits and the wing of the other cherub was ten cubits.33 Where then was the ark itself? We must therefore conclude that it stood by a miracle [without occupying any room].34
R. Jonathan prefaced his discourse on this section35 with the text,36 And I will rise against them, saith the Lord, and cut off from Babylon name and remnant’, and offshoot and offspring, saith the Lord,37 [which he expounded as follows]: ‘Name’ means script; ‘remnant is language;38 ‘offshoot’ is kingdom, and ‘offspring’ is Vashti.
R. Samuel b. Nahmani introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle:39 ‘Instead of the thorn’: instead of the wicked Haman who put himself up as an object of worship, as it is written, and upon all thorns and upon all brambles40 ‘shall come up the cypress’: this is Mordecai who was called the chief of all spices, as it is said, And do thou take to thee the chief spices,flowing myrrh,41 which [last words] we translate [in Aramaic], mar deki.42 ‘Instead of the brier’: instead of the wicked Vashti, the daughter of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar who burnt the ceiling of the house of the Lord; as it is written, its top was gold,43 ‘the myrtle shall come up’: this is the virtuous Esther who is called Hadassah,44 as it is said, And he brought up Hadassah.45 ‘And it shall be to the Lord for a name’: this is the reading of the Megillah; ‘and for an everlasting sign which shall not be cut off’: these are the days of Purim.
R. Joshua b. Levi introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: And it shall come to pass that as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, so the Lord will rejoice over you to cause you to perish.46 Now does the Holy One, blessed be He, rejoice in the downfall of the wicked? Is it not written, as they went out before the army, and say, Give thanks unto the Lord, for his mercy endureth for ever’,47 and R. Johanan said, Why are the words ‘for he is good’ omitted from this thanksgiving? Because the Holy One, blessed be He, does not rejoice in the downfall of the wicked? And R. Johanan further said, What is the meaning of the verse, And one came not near the other all the night?48 The ministering angels wanted to chant their hymns, but the Holy One, blessed be He, said, The work of my hands is being drowned in the sea, and shall you chant hymns? — R. Eleazar replied: He himself does not rejoice, but he makes others rejoice. This is indicated also by the text, which writes yasis and not yasus;49 which proves [what we said].
R. Abba b. Kahana introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: For to the man that is good in his sight he giveth wisdom, and knowledge and joy.50 This, he said, is the righteous Mordecai. But to the sinner He giveth the task, to gather and to heap up;50 this is Haman. That he may leave it to him, that is good in the sight of God;50 this refers to Mordecai and Esther, as it is written, And Esther set Mordecai over the house of Haman.51
Rabbah b. ‘Ofran introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: And I will set my throne in Elam, and will destroy from thence king and princes.52 ‘King’ indicates Vashti, and ‘princes’ indicates Haman and his ten sons.
R. Dimi b. Isaac introduced his discourse on this section with the following text:
(1) As it says presently, that all which are traditionally known to have been walled are sanctified.
(2) Of sending out a leper and reading the Megillah on the fifteenth and restoring a house to a vendor at the end of a year.
(3) Lev. XXV, 31. The kere means which has a wall’ and the kethib ‘which has no wall’, and R. Eleazar combines both meanings, he being of the opinion that the first holiness is retained for all times, in contradistinction to R. Ishmael. These then are the two Tannaim who differ on this point.
(4) Esth. I, 1.
(5) V. p. 2, n. 5.
(6) Wa-yehi being read as wai, hi (woe and sorrow). V.infra.
(7) Ruth I, I.
(8) Gen. VI, I
(9) Ibid. XI, 2.
(10) Ibid. XIV, I.
(11) Josh. V, 13.
(13) ,Ibid. VI,27.
(14) I Sam.I, 1.
(15) Ibid. VIII, 1.
(16) Ibid. XVIII, 14.
(17) This is in fact mentioned before the other, in v. 9 of the same chapter.
(18) II Sam VII, 1.
(19) This is in fact found in I Kings VIII, 19. In II Sam. VII the expression is, ‘Shalt thou build a house’.
(20) Lev. IX, 1 of the setting up of the Tabernacle.
(21) Gen. I, 5.
(22) I Kings VI, 1 of the building of the Temple.
(23) Gen. XXIX, 10.
(24) Isa. VII, 1.
(25) Jer. I, 3.
(26) The father of Isaiah. V. infra.
(27) The king of Judah.
(28) I.e., what homiletical lesson does it convey.
(29) Gen. XXXVIII, 15.
(30) Isa. I, 1.
(31) Lit., ‘the place of the ark was not included in the measurements’.
(32) 1 Kings VI, 20.
(33) This is the sense but not the exact wording of I Kings VI, 24, 25.
(34) V. Yoma 21a and B.B. 99a.
(35) The Book of Esther.
(36) Lit., ‘from here’.
(37) Isa. XIV, 22.
(38) The connection between ‘name’ and ‘script’ and between ‘remnant’ and ‘language’ is not very clear. But v. Maharsha.
(39) lsa. LV, 13.
(40) Ibid. VII, 19. The proof is not clear. Cf. Maharsha.
(41) Ex. XXX, 23.
(42) ‘Pure myrrh’ a popular etymology of Mordecai.
(43) Cant. III, 10. There is here a play on the words sirpad (brier), and refidah (top).
(44) The Aramaic for myrtle.
(45) Esth. 11, 7,
(46) Deut. XXVIII, 63.
(47) II Chron. XX, 21, of the army of Jehoshaphat marching against the Moabites.
(48) Ex. XIV, 20, of Pharaoh and the Israelites at the Red Sea.
(49) Yasis is a hif'il form, and should properly mean ‘cause to rejoice’, though it is often used as equivalent to the kal, yasus rejoice’.
(50) Eccl. II, 26.
(51) Esth. VIII, 2.
(52) Jer. XLIX, 38.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 11a
For we are bondmen; yet hath God not forsaken us in our bondage, but hath extended mercy unto us in the sight of the kings of Persia.1 When was this? In the time of Haman. R. Hanina b. Papa introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads, we went through fire and through water:2 through fire in the days of the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, and through water in the days of Pharaoh. But thou didst bring us out into abundance,2 in the days of Haman.
R. Johanan introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: He hath remembered his mercy and his faithfulness to the house of Israel, all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our Lord.3 When did all the ends of the earth see the salvation of our Lord? In the days of Mordecai and Esther.4
Resh Lakish introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: As a roaring lion and a ravenous bear, so is a wicked ruler over a poor people.5 ‘A roaring lion’: this is the wicked Nebuchadnezzar, of whom it is written, A lion is gone up from his thicket.6 ‘A ravenous bear’: this is Ahasuerus, of whom it is written, And behold another beast, a second, like to a bear’,7 and R. Joseph learnt: These are the Persians, who eat and drink like bears, and are coated with flesh like bears, and are hairy like bears, and can never keep still like bears.8 ‘A wicked ruler’: this is Haman. ‘Over a poor people’: this is Israel, who are poor in [the observance of] precepts.
R. Eleazar introduced his discourse on this with the following text: By slothfulness he that lays beams9 becomes poor [yimak], and through idleness of the hands the house leaketh.10 Through the slothfulness in which Israel indulged, not busying themselves with the Torah, the enemy of11 the Holy One, blessed be He, became poor. The meaning of ‘mak’ is poor, as it says, And if he is too mak for thy valuation,12 and mekoreh means only the Holy One, blessed be He, as it says, Who layest the beams [ha-mekareh] of thy upper chambers in the waters.13
R. Nahman b. Isaac introduced his discourse on this section with the following text: A Song of Ascents: If it had not been for the Lord who was for us, let Israel now say If it had not been the Lord who was for us when a man14 rose up against us15 — ‘a man’ and not a king.16
Raba introduced his discourse on this section from here: When the righteous are increased the people rejoice, but when the wicked beareth rule the people sigh.17 ‘When the righteous are increased the people rejoice’ — this is illustrated by Mordecai and Esther, as it is written, and the city of Shushan shouted and was glad.18 ‘But when the wicked beareth rule the people sigh’ — this is illustrated by Haman, as it is written, but the city of Shushan was perlexed.19 R. Mattenah made his introduction20 from this verse: For what great nation is there that hath God so nigh to them.21 R. Ashi made it from this verse: Or hath God assayed etc.22
And it came to pass [wa-yehi] in the days of Ahasuerus23 etc. Rab said, [The word wa-yehi is equivalent to] ‘wai and hi’ [woe and mourning]. With reference to this it is written, and there ye shall sell yourselves unto your enemies for bondmen and for bondwomen, and no man shall buy you.24
Samuel quoted: I did not reject them, neither did I abhor them to destroy them utterly.25 ‘I did not reject them’ in the days of the Greeks; ‘neither did I abhor them’ — in the days of Nebuchadnezzar;26 ‘to destroy them utterly’ — in the days of Haman; ‘and to break my covenant with them’ — in the days of the Persians;27 ‘for I am the Lord their God’ — in the days of Gog and Magog.28 In a Baraitha It was taught: ‘I have not rejected them’ — in the days of the Chaldeans, when l raised up for them Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; ‘neither did I abhor them’ — in the days of the Greeks, when I raised up for them Simeon the Righteous and Hasmonai and his sons, and Mattathias the High Priest;29 ‘to destroy them utterly’ — in the days of Haman, when I raised up for them Mordecai and Esther; ‘to break my covenant with them’ — in the days of the Persians,30 when I raised up for them the members of the house of Rabbi and the Sages of the various generations. ‘For I am the Lord their God’ — in the time to come, when no nation or people31 will be able to subject them.
R. Levi introduced [his discourse] from this verse: But if ye will not drive out the inhabitants of the land before you.32 R. Hiyya introduced [his discourse] from this verse: And it shall come to pass that as I thought to do unto them, so will I do unto you.33
Ahasuerus: Rab said: He was [as his name implies], the brother of the head34 and the counterpart of the head — ‘The brother of the head’: the brother of Nebuchadnezzar the wicked who was called head, as it is written, Thou art the head of gold.35 ‘The counterpart of the head’: the one slew, the other sought to slay; the one laid waste, the other sought to lay waste, as it is written, And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem.36 Samuel said that [as his name indicates], the face of Israel was blackened37 in his days like the sides of a pot. R. Johanan said that [his name indicates that] everyone who thought of him said ‘alas for my head’.38 R. Hanina said, [it indicates that] all became poor39 in his days, as it says, And the king Ahasuerus laid a tribute.40
That [hu] is Ahasuerus. — [this means that] he persisted in his wickedness from beginning to end — [Similarly] this is [hu] Esau:41 the same in his wickedness from beginning to end. [Similarly], These are that [hu] Dathan and Abiram:42 the same in their wickedness from the beginning to the end. [Similarly], this same [hu] king Ahaz:43 the same in his wickedness from the beginning to the end. [Similarly], Abram, the same [hu] is Abraham:44 the same in his righteousness from the beginning to the end. [Similarly], These are that [hu] Aaron and Moses:45 the same in their righteousness from the beginning to the end. [Similarly], And David, he was [hu] the smallest;46 he persisted in his humility47 from the beginning to the end; just as in his youth he humbled himself before anyone who was his superior in Torah, so in his kingship he humbled himself before anyone who was his superior in wisdom.
Who reigned: Rab said: this indicates that he raised himself to the throne.48 Some interpret this to his credit, and some to his discredit. Some interpret it to his credit, holding that there was no other man equally fitted for the throne. Others interpret it to his discredit, holding that he was not fitted for the throne, but that he was very wealthy, and by means of lavish distribution of money rose to the throne.
From Hodu to Cush.49 Rab and Samuel gave different interpretations of this. One said that Hodu is at one end of the world and Cush at the other, and the other said that Hodu and Cush adjoin one another, and that [the meaning is that] as he ruled over Hodu and Cush, so he ruled from one end of the world to the other. A similar difference occurs with reference to the words, For he had dominion over all the region on this side of the River, from Tiphsah even unto Gaza.50 Here again Rab and Samuel interpreted differently. One said that Tiphsah is at one end of the world and Gaza at the other, and the other said that Tiphsah and Gaza are near one another [and that what is meant is that] as he [Solomon] ruled over Tiphsah and over Gaza, so he ruled over the whole world.51 Seven and twenty and a hundred provinces. R. Hisda said: At first he ruled over seven, then over twenty [more], and finally over a hundred [more]. But if you interpret thus, what of the verse, And the years of the life of Amram were seven and thirty and a hundred years?52 What lesson will you derive from that? — There is a difference here, because the whole text is superfluous. See now: it is written, from Hodu to Cush. Why then do I require, seven and twenty and a hundred provinces? You must conclude that it is for a special lesson .
Our Rabbis taught: Three [potentates] ruled over the whole globe,53 namely, Ahab, Ahasuerus and Nebuchadnezzar.54 Ahab, as it is written, As the Lord thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee etc.55 Now if he was not king over them, how could he make them take an oath? Nebuchadnezzar, as it is written: And it shall come to pass that the nation and the kingdom which will not serve the same Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and will not put their neck under the yoke of the King of Babylon.56 Ahasuerus, as we have pointed out above
(1) Ezra IX, 9.
(2) Ps. LXVI, 12.
(3) Ps. XCVIII, 3.
(4) Since letters were sent to all the provinces of the Persian Empire.
(5) Prov. XXVIII, 15.
(6) Jer. IV, 7.
(7) Dan. VII, 5.
(8) V. A.Z. 2b.
(9) Heb. המקרה E.V. ‘the rafters sink in’.
(10) Eccl. X, 18.
(12) Lev. XXVII, 8.
(13) Ps. CIV, 3.
(14) E.V. ‘men’.
(15) Ps. CXXIV, 1, 2.
(16) Referring to Haman.
(17) Prov. XXIX, 2.
(18) Esth. VIII, 15
(19) Ibid. III, 15.
(20) Lit., ‘said’.
(21) Deut. IV, 7.
(22) Ibid. 34.
(23) Esth. I, 1.
(24) Deut. XXVIII, 68.
(25) Lev. XXVI, 44.
(26) [The order followed here differs from that in the parallel passage in the Yalkut a.I. which is the more chronological. V. Maharsha.]
(27) Read with MS.M. ‘Romans’, v. Wilna Gaon Glosses.
(28) I.e., the days of the Messiah. V. Ezek. XXXVIII, XXXIX.
(29) Mattathias is usually identified with Hasmonai. [MS.M. omits ‘Hasmonai and his sons’.]
(30) Here also read with MS.M. ‘Romans’, v. Wilna Gaon Glosses.
(31) Lit., ‘tongue, language’
(32) Num. XXXIII, 55.
(33) Ibid. 56.
(34) Heb. ahiw shel rosh.
(35) Dan. II, 38.
(36) Ezra IV, 6.
(37) Heb. hushharu.
(38) Heb.ah le-rosho.
(40) Esth.X, 1.
(42) Num. XXVI, 9.
(43) II Chron. XXVIII, 22.
(44) I Chron. I, 27.
(45) Ex. VI, 26.
(46) I Sam. XVII,14. E.V. youngest’.
(47) The Heb. katan means both ‘young’ and ‘humble’.
(48) Because it does not say ‘who was king’.
(49) E.V. ‘from India to Ethiopia’.
(50) I Kings V, 4.
(51) V. Sanh., Sonc. ed. p. 110, nn. 5-6.
(52) Ex. VI, 20.
(53) Heb. כיפה Lit., ‘arch’, the space beneath the vault of the heaven.
(54) Only those mentioned in Scripture are reckoned (Tosaf.).
(55) I Kings XVIII, 10. The text continues, and when they said, he is not here, he took an oath, etc.
(56) Jer. XXVII, 8.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 11b
(Mnemonic: Sh'S'D'K’)1 But are there no more? Is there not Solomon? — He did not retain his kingdom [till his death]. This is a sufficient answer for the one who holds that he was first a king and then a subject.2 But for the one who holds that he was first a king, then a subject, and then a king again, what can we reply? — Solomon was in a different category, because he ruled over the denizens of the upper world3 as well as of the lower, as it says, And Solomon sat upon the throne of the Lord.4
But was there not Sennacherib, as it is written, Who are they among all the gods of these countries that have delivered their country out of my hand.5 — There was Jerusalem which he had not subdued.
But was there not Darius, as it is written, Then king Darius wrote unto all the peoples, nations and languages that dwell in all the earth, Peace be multiplied unto you?6 — There were the seven over which he did not rule, as it is written, It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom a hundred and twenty satraps.7 But there was Cyrus, of whom it is written, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdom of the earth hath the Lord given me?8 — There he was merely indulging in a boast.
In those days, when the king sat [on his throne].9 [How can this be] seeing that it says just afterwards, in the third year of his reign? — Raba said: What is meant by ‘when he sat’? After he began to feel secure. He reasoned thus: ‘Belshazar calculated and made a mistake; l have calculated and made no mistake’ — What is the meaning of this? — It is written, After seventy years are accomplished for Babylon I will remember you,10 and it is written, That He would accomplish for the desolations of Jerusalem seventy years.11 He reckoned forty-five years of Nebuchadnezzar and twenty-three of Evilmerodach and two of his own, making seventy in all. He then brought out the vessels of the Temple and used them. And how do we know that Nebuchadnezzar reigned forty-five years? — As a Master has said: ‘They went into exile in the seventh year and they went into exile in the eighth year; they went into exile in the eighteenth year and they went into exile in the nineteenth year’ — [That is to say], in the seventh year after the subjection of Jehoiakim12 they underwent the exile of Jeconiah, this being the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar.13 In the eighteenth year from the subjection of Jehoiakim14 they underwent the exile of Zedekiah, this being the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar,15 as a Master has said, In the first year [of his reign] he [Nebuchadnezzar] overthrew Nineveh; in the second year he conquered Jehoiakim16 and it is written, And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month in the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach King of Babylon, in the year of his reign, lifted up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah and brought him forth out of prison.17 Eight and thirty-seven make forty-five of Nebuchadnezzar. The twenty-three of Evilmerodach we know from tradition. These with two of his own18 make seventy. He [Belshazar] said to himself, Now of a surety they will not be redeemed. So he brought out the vessels of the Temple and used them. Hence it was that Daniel said to him, but thou hast lifted up thyself against the Lord of heaven, and they have brought the vessels of his house before thee.19 It is further written, In that night Belshazar the Chaldean king was slain,20 and it is written, And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old.21 He [Ahasuerus] said: He calculated and made a mistake,22 I will calculate and make no mistake. Is it written, ‘seventy years for the kingdom of Babylon?’23 It is written, seventy years for Babylon. What is meant by Babylon? The exile of Babylon — How many years [is this reckoning] less [than the other]? Eight.24 So in place of them he inserted one of Belshazar,25 five of Darius and Cyrus,26 and two of his own, which made seventy — When he saw that seventy had been completed and they were not redeemed, he brought out the vessels of the Temple and used them — Then the Satan came and danced among them and slew Vashti.
But he reckoned correctly? — He also made a mistake, since he ought to have reckoned from the destruction of Jerusalem.27 Granted all this, how many years are short? Eleven. How long did he reign? Fourteen.28 Consequently in the fourteenth year of his reign he ought to have rebuilt the Temple. Why then is it written, Then ceased the work of the house of God which is at Jerusalem?29 — Raba replied: The years were not full ones.30
(1) Sh=Solomon (Shelomoh);S = Sennacherib; D = Darius; K = Koresh (Cyrus).
(2) Cf. Git. 68b.
(3) The demons.
(4) 1 Chron. XXIX, 23.
(5) Isa. XXXVI, 20.
(6) Dan. VI, 26.
(7) Ibid. 2.
(8) Ezra 1, 2.
(9) Esth. I, 2. Which would naturally mean, immediately after his accession.
(10) Jer. XXIX, 10.
(11) Dan. IX, 2.
(12) By Nebuchadnezzar, as explained infra. V. Jer. LII, 28: This is the people whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away captive: in the seventh year etc.
(13) V. II Kings XXIV, 12: And Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) the king of Judah went out to the king of Babylon . . . and he took him in the eighth year of his reign.
(14) Jer. LII, 29.
(15) V. II Kings XXV, 8.
(16) Jehoiakim served Nebuchadnezzar three years (II Kings XXIV, 1), and according to the Seder Olam, he was in rebellion for three years. (This is based on Daniel I, 1. In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem, etc. which is interpreted to mean, the third year of his rebellion. V. Rashi.) In the same year he was deposed and Jeconiah went into exile, and as this was the eighth of Nebuchadnezzar (v. supra), his subjection must have commenced in the second or third year of Nebuchadnezzar.
(17) II Kings XXV, 27.
(18) It was in the third year of his reign that he gave his feast.
(19) Dan. V, 23.
(20) Ibid. 30.
(21) Ibid. VI, 1.
(22) In thinking that the prophecy had already been falsified.
(23) I.e.,from the accession of Nebuchadnezzar.
(24) Because the exile of Jeconiah took place in the eighth year of Nebuchadnezzar. V. supra
(25) I.e., the third year of Belshazar, which he himself did not reckon.
(26) According to the Talmudic chronology, the Darius mentioned in Daniel VI was succeeded by the Cyrus who gave permission for the building of the Temple. On what authority they are supposed to have reigned five years is not clear.
(27) Which took place eleven years after the exile of Jehoiachin.
(28) Haman cast lots in the twelfth year (Esth. III, 7). The deliverance took place in the next year, and the second letter of Esther (v. Esth. IX, 29) is supposed to have been sent out in the next.
(29) Until the second year of Darius who succeeded Ahasuerus. Ezra IV, 24.
(30) I.e., the five years of Darius I and Cyrus were really only four, and a year may also have been added to the reigns of Nebuchadnezzar and Evilmerodach, so that the seventy years were really not completed till the second year of Darius II.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 12a
It has been taught to the same effect: There was yet another year left to Babylon,1 and Darius arose and completed it.
Raba said: Daniel also made a mistake in this calculation, as it is written, In the first year of his reign, I Daniel meditated in the books [etc.].2 From his use of the words ‘I meditated’ we can infer that he [at first] made a mistake.
All the same, there is a contradiction between the texts [is there not]? It is written [in one], when there are accomplished for Babylon,3 and it is written [in the other], for the desolations of Jerusalem? — Raba replied: [The first term] was for visitation [pekidah] only, and this was fulfilled, as it is written, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, All the kingdoms of the earth hath the Lord, the God of the heavens, given to me, and he hath charged [pakad] me to build him a house in Jerusalem.4
R. Nahman son of R. Hisda gave the following exposition. What is the meaning of the verse, Thus saith the Lord to his anointed to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden.5 Now was Cyrus the Messiah? Rather what it means is: The Holy One, blessed be He, said to the Messiah: I have a complaint on thy behalf against Cyrus.6 I said, He shall build my house and gather my exiles,7 and he [merely] said, Whosoever there is among you of all his people, let him go up.
The army of Persia and Media, the nobles. And elsewhere it is written, [The chronicles] of the kings of Media and Persia.8 [How is this]? — Raba replied: They [the Medes and Persians] made a stipulation with one another, saying, if we supply the kings, you will supply the Governors, and if you supply the kings we will supply the Governors.
When he showed the riches of his glorious [tif'ereth] kingdom. R. Jose b. Hanina said: This shows that he arrayed himself in priestly robes. It is written here, ‘the riches of his glorious [tif'ereth] kingdom’, and it is written elsewhere [in connection with the priestly garments], for splendour and for glory, [tif'ereth].9
And when these days were fulfilled.10 Rab and Samuel interpreted this differently. One said he was a clever king, and the other said that he was a foolish king. The one who held he was a clever king said that he did well in entertaining11 his distant subjects first, because he could win over the inhabitants of his own city any time he wished. The one who held that he was foolish says that he ought to have entertained the inhabitants of his metropolis first, so that if the others rebelled against him, these would have supported him.
R. Simon b. Yohai was asked by his disciples, Why were the enemies of Israel12 in that generation deserving of extermination? He said to them: Do you answer. They said: Because they partook of the feast of that wicked one.13 [He said to them]: If so, those in Susa should have been killed, not those in other parts?14 They then said, Give your answer. He said to them: It was because they bowed down to the image.15 They said to him, Did God then show them favouritism?16 He replied: They only pretended to worship,17 and He also only pretended to exterminate them; and so it is written, For he afflicted not from his heart.18 In the court of the garden of the king's palace.19 Rab and Samuel gave different interpretations of this — One said that those who had the entree20 of the court were [entertained] in the court, and those who had the entree of the garden in the garden, and those who had the entree of the palace in the palace. The other said: He first put them in the court, and it did not hold them — Then he took them into the garden and it did not hold them; and finally he had to take them into the palace, and he found room for them. In a Baraitha it was taught: He took them into the court and opened two doors for them, one into the garden and one into the palace.
White [hur], fine cotton [karpas] and blue.21 What is hur? — Rab said, fine lace-work. Samuel said: He spread for then, carpets of white silk. Karpas: R. Jose b. Haninah said: [this means] cushions of velvet.22
Upon silver rods and pillars of marble; the couches were of gold and silver.21 It has been taught: R. Judah said: Silver for some and gold for others, according to their degree. Said R. Nehemiah to him: If that were so, there would have been23 jealousy at the banquet! No; the couches themselves were of silver and their feet of gold.
Green [bahat] and white marble.21 R. Assi said: [This means] stones that flash back at their owner;24 and so it says, as the stones of a crown, glittering over his land.25
And shell [dar] and onyx marble [sohareth].21 Rab said: This means rows [dari] upon rows.26 Samuel says: There is a precious stone in the seaports called darah. He put it in the midst of the guests, and it lit up the place as at midday [Sahara].27 In the school of R. Ishmael it was taught: It means that he gave a remission of taxes [deror] to all who dealt in merchandise [sehorah].
And they gave them drink in vessels of gold, the vessels being diverse [shonim] one from another.28 It should have said, in different vessels? — Raba said: A bath kol29 went forth and said to them, Your predecessors30 met their end on account of vessels, and yet you use them again [shonim]?31
And royal wine in abundance:28 Rab said: This teaches that each one was given to drink wine older32 then himself.
And the drinking was according to law.33 What is meant by ‘according to law’? — R. Hanan said in the name of R. Meir: According to the law of the Torah. Just as according to the law of the Torah the [quantity of] food exceeds the drink,34 so in the feast of that wicked one there was more food than drink.
None did compel.33 R. Eleazar said: This teaches that each one was given to drink from the wine of his own country.35
That they should do according to every man's [ish, ish] pleasure.33 Raba said: This means that they should do according to the will of Mordecai and Haman.36 Mordecai [is called ‘man’] as it is written, A Jewish man;37 and Haman, [as it is written], a man, an adversary and an enemy.38
Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women in the royal house.39 It should have said, ‘the women's house’? — Raba said: Both of them [Ahasuerus and Vashti] had an immoral purpose. This bears out the popular saying, He with large pumpkins and his wife
(1) I.e. , when Belshazar was killed, according to Seder Olam, only sixty-nine years had passed since Nebuchadnezzar had subdued Jehoiakim, and not seventy as reckoned above.
(2) Dan. IX, 2. Heb. בינותי, which conveys the idea of calculating and revising.
(3) Ibid. I.e., from the rise of Nebuchadnezzar.
(4) Ezra I, 2. But the actual building was commenced some years later.
(5) Isa. XLV, 1.
(6) And we translate: ‘God said to his anointed regarding Cyrus’.
(7) Ibid. 13.
(8) Esth. X, 2. Here ‘kings’ is put next to Media, not next to Persia as in the case of the ‘nobles’ in the earlier passage.
(9) Ex. XXVIII, 2.
(10) Esth. 1,5.
(11) Lit., ‘bringing near’.
(12) Euphemism for ‘Israel’.
(14) As only those in Susa were invited.
(15) Set up by Nebuchadnezzar.
(16) By delivering them, since they really deserved to be exterminated.
(17) Lit., ‘they did only for appearance’.
(18) Lam. III, 33. [מלבו is rendered ‘without heart’, מ being taken as partitive: God does not afflict him who sins without intent (Maharsha).]
(19) Esth. I, 5.
(20) Lit., ‘he who was worthy’.
(21) Esth. I, 6.
(22) These interpretations are based on similarities in sound to the words hur and Karpas.
(23) Lit., ‘you cast’.
(24) מתחוטטות play on בהט (‘green marble’). [Aliter: much sought after by their owners (v. Rashi).]
(25) מתנוססות Zech. IX, 16. [On Rashi's interpretation the verse is to be rendered as ‘stones of a crown obtainable only after many trials (נסיונות)’.]
(26) Possibly mosaics are meant (Jastrow).
(27) V. Rashi.
(28) Esth. I, 7
(29) V. Glos.
(30) Belshazar and his company.
(31) Lit., ‘repeat’.
(32) The word rab (in abundance) being taken in its other sense of ‘older’.
(33) Ibid. 8.
(34) E.g., the meal-offering for a bullock was three tenth deals, and the wine-offering only half a hin.
(35) Which did not easily intoxicate him.
(36) [Both served as butlers at the banquet (Rashi).]
(37) Ibid. II, 5.
(38) Ibid. VII, 6.
(39) Ibid. I, 9.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 12b
with small pumpkins.
On the seventh day, where the king's heart was merry with wine.1 Was then his heart not merry with wine until then? — Rab said: The seventh day was Sabbath, when Israel eat and drink. They begin with discourse on the Torah and with words of thanksgiving [to God]. But the nations of the world, the idolaters, when they eat and drink only begin with words of frivolity. And so at the feast of that wicked one. Some said, The Median women are the most beautiful, and others said, The Persian women are the most beautiful. Said Ahasuerus to them, The vessel that I use is neither Median nor Persian, but Chaldean. Would you like to see her? They said, Yes, but it must be naked —
(For man receives measure for measure.2 This [remark] teaches you that the wicked Vashti used to take the daughters of Israel and strip them naked and make them work on Sabbath.3 So it is written, After these things when the wrath of the king Ahasuerus abated, he remembered Vashti and what she had done and what was decided against her.4 As she had done so it was decreed against her.)
And the queen Vashti refused.5 Let us see. She was immodest, as the Master said above, that both of them had an immoral purpose. Why then would she not come? — R. Jose b. Hanina said: This teaches that leprosy broke out on her. In a Baraitha it was taught that Gabriel came and fixed a tail on her.6
And the king was very angry,5 Why was he so enraged? — Raba said: She sent him back answer: Thou son of my father's steward,7 my father drank wine in the presence of a thousand,8 and did not get drunk, and that man has become senseless with his wine. Straightway, his wrath burnt within him.5
And the king said to the wise men.9 Who are the wise men? — The Rabbis. Who knew the times:9 that is, who knew how to intercalate years and fix new moons. He said to them: Try her for me. They said [to themselves]: What shall we do? If we tell him to put her to death, to-morrow he will become sober10 again and he will require her from us. Shall we tell him to let her go? She will lose all her respect for royalty. So they said to him: From the day when the Temple was destroyed and we were exiled from our land, counsel has been taken from us and we do not know how to judge capital cases. Go to Ammon and Moab11 who have remained in their places like wine that has settled on its lees. They spoke to him thus with good reason, since it is written, Moab hath been at ease from his youth, and he hath settled on his lees, and hath not been emptied from vessel to vessel, neither hath he gone into captivity. Therefore his taste remaineth in him, and his scent is not changed.12 Straightway [he did so, as we read], and the next unto him was Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish [etc.].13 R. Levi said: Every name in this verse contains a reference to the sacrifices. Thus, Carshena: the ministering angels said to the Holy One, blessed be He: Sovereign of the Universe, did they ever offer before thee lambs of the first year [karim bene shanah] as Israel offered before Thee? Shethar: did they ever offer before Thee two pigeons [shte torim]? Admatha: did they ever build before Thee an altar of earth [adamah]? Tarshish: did they ever minister before Thee in the priestly garments, of which it is written [that they contained] a beryl [tarshish], an onyx and a jasper?14 Meres: did they ever stir [mersu] the blood [of the sacrifice] before Thee? Marsena: did they ever stir [mersu] the meal-offerings before Thee? Memucan: did they ever prepare [hekinu] a table before Thee?
And Memucan said.15 A Tanna taught: Memucan is the same as Haman, And why was he called Memucan? Because he was destined [mukan] for punishment. R. Kahana said: From here we see that an ordinary man always pushes16 himself in front.17
That every man should bear rule in his house.18 Raba said: Had it not been for these first letters, there would have been left no shred or remnant of the enemies of Israel.19 People said: What does he mean by sending us word that every man should bear rule in his own house? Of course he should! Even a weaver in his own house must be commander!20
And let the king appoint officers.21 Rabbi said: What is the meaning of the verse, Even prudent man dealeth with forethought, but a fool unfoldeth folly?22 ‘Every prudent man dealeth with forethought’: this applies to David, of whom, it is written, Wherefore his servants said unto him, Let there be sought for my lord the king a young virgin:23 every one who had a daughter brought her.24 But a fool unfoldeth folly’: this applies to Ahasuerus, of whom it is written, and let the king appoint officers: whoever had a daughter hid her.25
There was a certain Jew in Shushan the castle, etc. a Benjamite.26 What is the point of this verse? If it is to give the pedigree of Mordecai, it should trace it right back to Benjamin!27 [Why then were only these specified?] — A Tanna taught: All of them are designations [of Mordecai]. ‘The son of Jair’ means, the son who enlightened [he'ir] the eyes of Israel by his prayer. ‘The son of Shimei means, the son to whose prayer God hearkened [shama’]. ‘The son of Kish’ indicates that he knocked [hikkish] at the gates of mercy and they were opened to him. He is called ‘a Jew’ [yehudi] which implies that he came from [the tribe of] Judah, and he is called ‘a Benjamite’, which implies that he came from Benjamin. [How is this]? — R. Nahman said: He was a man of distinguished character.28 Rabbah b. Bar Hanah said in the name of R. Joshua b. Levi: His father was from Benjamin and his mother from Judah. The Rabbis, however, said: The tribes competed with one another [for him]. The tribe of Judah said: I am responsible for the birth of Mordecai, because David did not kill Shimei the son of Gera, and the tribe of Benjamin said: He is actually descended from me. Raba said: The community of Israel explained [the two designations] in the opposite29 sense: ‘See what a Judean did to me and how a Benjamite repaid me!’ What a Judean did to me
(1) Ibid. 10.
(2) Lit., ‘for with the measure with which a man measures they measure to him’.
(3) [Add with MS.M.: ‘Therefore was it decreed that she should be killed naked on Sabbath’.]
(4) Esth. II, 1.
(5) Ibid. I, 12.
(6) [זנב does not necessarily mean a ‘tail’ but any projection or growth, v. Aruch s.v. זנב.]
(7) [Var. lec., ‘Thou steward of my father’. Ahasuerus was said to have been the steward of Belshazar, the father of Vashti.]
(8) V. Dan. V, 1.
(9) Esth. I, 13.
(10) Lit., ‘his wine will pass off’.
(11) According to Tosaf., ‘Ammon’ here should be omitted, as the Ammonites were carried into exile by Nebuchadnezzar.
(12) Jer. XLVIII, 11.
(13) Esth. I, 14.
(14) Ex. XXVIII, 20.
(15) Esth. I, 16.
(16) Lit., ‘jumps’.
(17) Memucan is mentioned last of the seven princes, and yet it was he who spoke first.
(18) Ibid. 22.
(19) Euphemism for Israel. Had the people not seen from this letter how foolish the king was, when the next letter was sent out for the destruction of the Jews, they would not have waited till the appointed day.
(20) Pardashca: a Persian word meaning ‘policeman’ or ‘officer’.
(21) Esth. II, 3.
(22) Prov. XIII, 16.
(23) I Kings I, 2.
(24) Since only one was to be tried.
(25) Because all were to be tried, though only one was to be closed.
(26) Esth. II, 5.
(27) And not mention three names only.
(28) Lit., ‘crowned with his nimus’. The word nimus means in the Talmud ‘manner’, or ‘way’ (**), hence bearing, character. Rashi translates ‘with his names’ (as just explained) as if ‘nimus’ here = Greek **. [Var. lec. add ‘as an ornament’, כעדי. V. Aruch who explains: He was adorned with the precepts of the Law as with an ornament. Yehudi as applied to Mordecai then does not denote a tribal name but is an epithet of distinction.]
(29) I.e., derogatory.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 13a
viz., that David did not kill Shimei from whom was descended Mordecai who provoked Haman. ‘And how a Benjamite repaid me’, viz., that Saul did not slay Agag from whom was descended Haman who oppressed Israel. R. Johanan said: He did indeed come from Benjamin. Why then was he called ‘a Jew’? Because he repudiated idolatry. For anyone who repudiates idolatry is called ‘a Jew’, as it is written, There are certain Jews1 etc.
R. Simon b. Pazzi once introduced an exposition of the Book of Chronicles as follows: ‘All thy words are one,2 and we know how to find their inner meaning’. [It is written], And his wife the Jewess bore Jered the father of Gedor, and Heber the father of Socho, and Jekuthiel the father of Zanoah, and these are the sons of Bithya the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took.3 Why was she [the daughter of Pharaoh] called a Jewess? Because she repudiated idolatry, as it is written, And the daughter of Pharaoh went down to bathe in the river,4 and R. Johanan, [commenting on this,] said that she went down to cleanse herself5 from the idols of her father's house. ‘Bore’: But she only brought him [Moses] up? — This tells us that if anyone brings up an orphan boy or girl in his house, the Scripture accounts it as if he had begotten him. ‘Jered’: this is Moses. Why was he called Jered? Because manna came down [yarad] for Israel in his days.6 ‘Gedor": [he was so called] because he fenced in [gadar] the breaches of Israel. ‘Heber’, because he joined [hiber] Israel to their Father in heaven. ‘Socho’, because he was like a sheltering booth [sukkah] for Israel. ‘Jekuthiel’, because Israel trusted in God [kiwu le'el] in his days. ‘Zanoah’, because he made Israel abandon [hizniah] their inquities. ‘Father of’, ‘father of’, ‘father of’: he was a father in Torah, a father in wisdom, a father in prophecy. ‘These are the sons of Bithya whom Mered took’. Was Mered his name? Was not Caleb his name?7 — The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let Caleb who rebelled [marad] against the plan of the spies come and take the daughter of Pharaoh who rebelled against the idols of her father's house.
Who had been carried away from Jerusalem.8 Raba said: [We understand this to mean] that he went into exile of his own accord.9
And he brought up Hadassah.10 She is called Hadassah11 and she is called Esther. It has been taught: Esther was her proper name. Why then was she called Hadassah? After the designation of the righteous who are called myrtles,12 for so it says, And he stood among the myrtle trees.13 R. Judah says: Hadassah was her name — Why then was she called Esther? Because she concealed [mastereth] the facts about herself, as it says, Ester did not make known her people or her kindred.14 R. Nehemiah says: Hadassah was her name. Why then was she called Esther? All peoples called her so after Istahar.15 Ben ‘Azzai said: Esther was neither too tall nor too short, but of medium size, like a myrtle. R. Joshua b. Korha said: Esther was sallow,16 but endowed with great charm.17
For she had neither father nor mother. [And it continues] and when her father and mother died.10 Why these last words?18 — R. Aha said: When her mother became pregnant with her, her father died; when she was born, her mother died.
And when her father and mother died, Mordecai took her for his own daughter.19 A Tanna taught in the name of R. Meir: Read not ‘for a daughter’ [le-bath], but ‘for a house’ [le-bayith].20 Similarly it says: But the poor man had nothing save one little ewe lamb, which he had brought up and reared; and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own morsel, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter.21 Because it lay in his bosom, was it like a daughter to him? Rather what it means is like a wife; so here, it means a wife.
And the seven maidens who were meet to be given to her.22 Raba said: [They were seven so that] she could count the days of the week by them.
And he changed23 her and her maidens. Rab said: [This means that] he gave her Jewish food to eat. Samuel, however, said, it means that he gave her chines of pork24 while R. Johanan said that he gave her pulse, and so it says, So the steward took away their food and gave them pulse.25
Six months with the oil of myrrh.26 What is the oil of myrrh? R. Hiyya b. Abba said, Satchet;27 R. Huna said, Oil from olives not a third grown. It has been taught: R. Judah says that anpikinun28 is oil of olives not a third grown. Why is it used for smearing? Because it removes hair and makes the skin soft.
In the evening she went and on the morrow she returned.29 From the discreditable account of that wicked man we can learn something to his credit, namely, that he did not perform his marital office by day.
And Esther obtained favour.30 R. Eleazar said: This informs us that every man took her for a member of his own people.
So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which is the month Tebeth:31 the month when body warms up body.32 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins.33 Rab said: If he wanted to find in her the taste of a virgin he found it; if the taste of a married woman, he found it.
Then the king made a great feast.34 He made a feast for her, and she did not tell him [who she was]. He remitted taxes,35 and she did not tell him. He sent gifts,36 and she [still] did not tell him.
And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, etc.37 He went and took counsel of Mordecai who said, The way to rouse a woman is to make her jealous;38 and even so she did not tell.
R. Eleazar said: What is the meaning of the verse,
(1) Dan. III, 12. Though Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah to whom he refers were not of the tribe of Judah. V. Sanh. 93 b (Tosaf.).
(2) I.e., numerous names in the Book of Chronicles refer to the same person.
(3) I Chron. IV, 18.
(4) Ex. II, 5.
(5) By means of the tebillah or ceremonial bath taken by a proselyte.
(6) According to Wilna Gaon the correct reading is, ‘because he brought down the Torah (from Heaven) for Israel’.
(7) As stated in I Chron. IV, 15.
(8) Esth. II, 6.
(9) The ground of this inference is not clear. Possibly Raba is stressing the word עם, as meaning ‘in company with’, ‘on a footing of equality with’, instead of את, which would have meant ‘taken along with as subsidiary’.
(10) Ibid. 7.
(11) Lit. , ‘myrtle’.
(12) V. Sanh. 93a.
(13) Zech. I, 8.
(14) Esth. II, 20.
(15) The planet Venus (Jast.).
(16) Lit., ‘greenish’, like a myrtle leaf.
(17) Lit., ‘a thread of grace was drawn about her’.
(18) Which seem superfluous.
(19) Esth. II, 7.
(20) I.e., a wife.
(21) II Sam. XII,3.
(22) Esth. II, 9.
(23) E.V., ‘advanced’.
(24) קתלי דחזירי Not that she necessarily ate them (Tosaf.). [Var. lec. קדלי דחיזרי ‘heads of radish’ — a delicatessen, v. Aruch.]
(25) Dan. I, 16; of Daniel and his companions.
(26) Esth. II, 12.
(27) Heb. סטכת=**.
(28) **, a kind of oil that was not allowed to be used for sacrifices.
(29) Ibid. 14.
(30) Ibid. 15.
(31) Ibid. 16.
(32) The season being midwinter.
(33) Esth. II, 17.
(34) Ibid. 18.
(35) As it says here, ‘and he made a release to the provinces’.
(36) As it says, ‘and gave gifts, according to the bounty of the king’.
(37) Ibid. 19
(38) Lit., ‘a woman is only jealous of the thigh of another’.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 13b
He withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous?1 In reward for the modesty displayed by Rachel, she was granted to number among her descendants Saul; and in reward for the modesty displayed by Saul, he was granted to number among his descendants Esther.2 What was the modesty displayed by Rachel? — As it is written: And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother.3 Now was he her father's brother? Was he not the son of her father's sister? What it means is this: He said to her, Will you marry me? She replied, Yes, but my father is a trickster, and he will outwit you.4 He replied, I am his brother in trickery. She said to him, Is it permitted to the righteous to indulge in trickery? He replied. Yes: with the pure thou dost show thyself pure and with the crooked thou dost show thyself subtle.5 He said to her, What is his trickery? She replied : I have a sister older than I am , and he will not let me marry before her. So he gave her certain tokens. When night came, she said to herself, Now my sister will be put to shame. So she handed over the tokens to her. So it is written, And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah.6 Are we to infer from this that up to now she was not Leah? What it means is that on account of the tokens which Rachel gave to Leah he did not know till then. Therefore she was rewarded by having Saul among her descendants — What modesty did Saul display? — As it is written, But concerning the matter of the kingdom whereof Samuel spoke he told him not.7 He was therefore rewarded by having Esther among his descendants.
R. Eleazar further said: When the Holy One, blessed be He, assigns greatness to a man, he assigns it to his sons and his sons’ sons for all generations, as it says, [With kings on the throne;] He setteth them for ever and they are exalted.8 If, however, he becomes arrogant, God humiliates him, as it says. And if they be bound in fetters etc.9
For Esther did the commandment of Mordecai.10 R. Jeremiah said: [This means] that she used to show the blood of her impurity to the Sages.
Like as when she was brought up with him.10 Rabbah b. Lema said in the name of Rab: [This means] that she used to rise from the lap of Ahasuerus and bathe and sit in the lap of Mordecai.11
In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king's gate, Bigthan and Teresh were wroth.12 R. Hiyya b. Abba said in the name of R. Johanan: The Holy One, blessed be He, [once] caused a master to be wroth with his servants in order to fulfil the desire of a righteous man, namely Joseph, as it says, And there was with us there a young man, a Hebrew, etc.;13 and servants with their master in order to perform a miracle for a righteous man, namely, Mordecai, as it is written, ‘And the thing was known to Mordecai etc. ‘ R. Johanan said: Bigthan and Teresh were two Tarseans14 and conversed in the Tarsean language. They said: From the day this woman came we have been able to get no sleep.15 Come, let us put poison in the dish so that he will die. They did not know that Mordecai was one of those who had seats in the Chamber of Hewn Stone,16 and that he understood seventy languages.17 Said the other to him, But are not my post and your post different?18 He replied: I will keep guard at my post and at yours. So it is written, And when inquisition was made, he was found,19 that is to say, they were not [both] found at their posts.
After these things.20 After what? — Raba said: After God had created a healing for the blow [which was about to fall]. For Resh Lakish has said: The Holy One, blessed be He, does not smite Israel unless He has created for them a healing beforehand, as it says . When I have healed Israel, then is the iniquity of Ephraim uncovered.21 Not so, however, with the other nations: He smites them first, and then creates for them a healing, as it says: The Lord will smite Egypt, smiting and healing.22
But it seemed contemptible in his eyes to lay hands on Mordecai alone.23 At first he aimed at ‘Mordecai alone’, then at ‘the people of Mordecai’ — and who are these? The Rabbis; and finally at ‘all the Jews’.
They cast pur, that is the lot.24 A Tanna taught: When the lot fell on the month of Adar, he rejoiced greatly. saying, The lot has fallen for me on the month in which Moses died. He did not know, however, that Moses died on the seventh of Adar and was born on the sixth of Adar. There is one people.25 Raba said: There never was a traducer so skillful as Haman. He said to Ahasuerus, Come, let us destroy them. He replied: I am afraid of their God, lest He do to me as He did to my predecessors. He replied: They are ‘negligent’26 of the precepts. He said, There are Rabbis among them.27 He replied. They are ‘one people’.28 Should you say that I will make a void29 in your kingdom, [I reply], they are ‘scattered abroad among the peoples’. Should you say. There is some profit in them, I reply, ‘they are dispersed’ [nifredu], like an isolated bough [peridah] that does not bear fruit. Should you say that they occupy one province, I reply, ‘they are in all the provinces of thy kingdom’. ‘Their laws are diverse from those of every other people’: they do not eat of our food, nor do they marry our women nor give us theirs in marriage, ‘Neither keep they the king's laws’, since they evade taxes the whole year30 by their loitering and sauntering.31 ‘Therefore it profiteth not the king to suffer them’, because they eat and drink and despise the throne. For if a fly falls into the cup of one of them, he throws it out and drinks the wine, but if my lord the king were to touch his cup, he would dash it on the ground and not drink from it. ‘If it please the king, let it be written that they be destroyed, and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver’: Resh Lakish said: It was well known beforehand to Him at whose word the world came into being that Haman would one day pay shekels for the destruction of Israel. Therefore He anticipated his shekels with those of Israel. And so we have learnt: ‘On the first of Adar32 proclamation is made regarding the shekalim33 and the mixed seeds’.34
And the king said to Haman, The silver is given to thee and the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee.35 R. Abba said:
(1) Job XXXVI, 7.
(2) There seems to be no authority in the Scripture for this statement. V. Rashi
(3) Gen. XXIX, 12.
(4) Lit., ‘you will not be able to deal with him’.
(5) II Sam. XXII, 27.
(6) Gen. XXIX, 25.
(7) I Sam. X, 16.
(8) Job XXXVI, 7.
(9) Ibid. 8. How the text implies this is not clear. V. Maharsha.
(10) Esth. II, 20.
(11) As wife. The word באמנה (brought up) means literally ‘nursing’.
(12) Ibid. 21.
(13) Gen. XLI, 12.
(14) There was a Tarsus in Cilicia and in Cappodocia and it is not certain which is referred to.
(15) Having always to dance attendance on Ahasuerus.
(16) לשכת הגזית The meeting place of the Sanhedrin in the Temple at Jerusalem.
(17) V. Sanh. 17a.
(18) So that neither of us can do duty for both.
(19) E.V., ‘it was found’.
(20) Esth. III, 1.
(21) Hos. VII, 1. E.V., ‘when I would heal’.
(22) Isa. XIX, 22.
(23) Esth. III, 6.
(24) Ibid. 7.
(25) Ibid. 8. E.V. ‘a certain people’.
(26) ישנים, lit., ‘asleep’ from a play on the word ישנו (there is).
(27) Who keep the precepts.
(28) And all hang together.
(29) Lit., ‘baldness’.
(30) Lit., ‘they bring out the whole year with’.
(31) Heb. שהי פהי, which may also be an abbreviation for שבת היום פסח היום ‘To-day is Sabbath, to-day is Passover’.
(32) I.e. , fourteen days before the date fixed by Haman.
(33) For the repair of the Temple.
(34) Which it is now time to uproot. V. Shek. I, 1.
(35) Esth. III, 11.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 14a
To what can we compare Ahasuerus and Haman at this point? To two men one of whom had a mound in the middle of his field and the other a ditch in the middle of his field. The owner of the ditch said, I wish I could buy that mound, and the owner of the mound said, I wish l could buy that ditch. One day they met, and the owner of the ditch said, Sell me your mound, whereupon the other replied, Take it for nothing, and I shall be only too glad.1
And the king removed his ring.2 R. Abba b. Kahana said: This removal of the ring was more efficacious than forty-eight prophets3 and seven prophetesses4 who prophesied to Israel; for all these were not able to turn Israel to better courses, and the removal of the ring did turn them to better courses.5
Our Rabbis taught: ‘Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied to Israel, and they neither took away from nor added aught to what is written in the Torah save only the reading of the Megillah’. How did they derive it [from the Torah]? — R. Hiyya b. Abin said in the name of R. Joshua b. Korha: If for being delivered from slavery to freedom we chant a hymn of praise, should we not do so all the more for being delivered from death to life? If that is the reason we should say Hallel6 also? — [We do not do so] because Hallel is not said for a miracle which occurred outside of the land of Israel. How then do we come to say it for the Exodus from Egypt which was a miracle which occurred outside the land of Israel? — As it has been taught: ‘Until they entered the land of Israel, all lands were counted as proper for chanting a hymn of praise [for miracles done in them] — After they had entered the land, other countries were not counted as proper for chanting a hymn of praise [for miracles done in them]. R. Nahman said: The reading of the Megillah is equivalent to Hallel. Raba said:7 There is a good reason in that case [of the Exodus from Egypt] because it says [in the Hallel], Praise ye O servants of the Lord, who are no longer servants of Pharaoh — But can we say in this case, Praise ye, servants of the Lord and not servants of Ahasuerus? We are still servants of Ahasuerus! Whether on the view of Raba8 or on the view of R. Nahman,9 there is a difficulty in what has been taught [above], that ‘after they had entered the land, other countries were not counted as proper for chanting a hymn of praise [for miracles done in them]’? — When the people went into exile, the other countries became proper as at first.
Were there no more prophets than these [forty-eight]? — Is it not written, How there was a man from Ramathaim-Zophim,10 [which we interpret], one of two hundred prophets [zophim]11 who prophesied to Israel? — There were actually very many, as it has been taught, ‘Many prophets arose for Israel, double the number of [the Israelites] who came out of Egypt’, only the prophecy which contained a lesson for12 future generations was written down, and that which did not contain such a lesson was not written.
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said: This [Ramathaim-Zophim] means, a man who came from two heights which faced one another.13 R. Hanin said: It means, a man who came from ancestors of the most exalted position.14 And who were they? The sons of Korah, as it says, And the sons of Korah did not die.15 A Tanna taught in the name of our Teacher:16 A special place was assigned17 to them in Gehinnom and they stood on it.
‘Seven prophetesses’. Who were these? — Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Hulda and Esther. ‘Sarah’, as it is written, The father of Milkah and the father of Yiscah’,18 and R. Isaac said [on this]. Yiscah is Sarah; and why was she called Yiscah? Because she discerned [sakethah] by means of the holy spirit, as it is said, In all that Sarah saith unto thee, hearken to her voice.19 Another explanation is: because all gazed [sakin] at her beauty. ‘Miriam’, as it is written, And Miriam the prophetess the sister of Aaron.20 Was she only the sister of Aaron and not the sister of Moses? — R. Nahman said in the name of Rab: [She was so called] because she prophesied when she was the sister of Aaron [only]21 and said, My mother is destined to bear a son who will save Israel. When he was born the whole house was filled with light, and her father arose and kissed her on the head, saying, My daughter, thy prophecy has been fulfilled. But when they threw him into the river her father arose and tapped her on the head, saying. Daughter, where is thy prophecy? So it is written, And his sister stood afar off to know;22 to know, [that is,] what would be with the latter part of her prophecy. ‘Deborah’, as it is written, Now Deborah a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth.23 What is meant by a woman of flames23 ? [She was so called] because she used to make wicks for the Sanctuary. And she sat under a palm tree24 Why just a palm tree? — R. Simeon b. Abishalom said: [To avoid] privacy.25 Another explanation is: Just as a palm tree has only one heart, so Israel in that generation had only one heart devoted to their Father in heaven. ‘Hannah’, as it is written, And Hannah prayed and said, My heart exulteth in the Lord, my horn is exalted in the Lord.26 [She said], my horn is exalted’, and not, my cruse is exalted’, thus implying that the royalty of [the hour of] David and Solomon, who were anointed from a horn,27 would be prolonged,28 but the royalty of [the house of] Saul and Jehu,29 who were anointed with a cruse, would not be prolonged.
There is none holy as the Lord, for there is none beside thee.30 R. Judah b. Menashia said: Read not bilteka, ‘beside thee’], but read lebalotheka [‘to survive thee’]. For the nature of the Holy One, blessed be He, is not like that of flesh and blood. It is the nature of flesh and blood to be survived by its works, but God survives His works. Neither is there any rock [zur] like our God.30 There is no artist [zayyar] like our God. A man draws a figure on a wall, but is unable to endow it with breath and spirit, inward parts and intestines. But the Holy One, blessed be He, fashions a form within a form and endows it with breath and spirit, inward parts and intestines.
‘Abigail’, as it is written, And it was so, as she rode on her ass and came down by the covert of the mountain.31 ‘By the covert [sether] of the mountain’? It should say from the mountain’! — Rabbah b. Samuel said: It means that she came with reference to blood that came from the hidden parts [setharim]. She brought some blood and showed it to him.32 He said to her: Is blood to be shown by night? She replied: Are capital cases tried at night?33 He said to her:
(1) Lit., ‘would it were so’. So Ahasuerus was as eager to get rid of the Jews as Haman.
(2) Ibid. 10.
(3) These are enumerated in Rashi (s.v. נבואה) and Seder Olam XX-XXI.
(4) V. infra.
(5) As it says, fasting3 and weeping and mourning, many put on sackcloth and ashes. Esth. IV,3.
(6) V. Glos.
(7) The Bah. reads: Raba demurred to this, saying.
(8) Who holds that Hallel would be said were we not servants of Ahasuerus.
(9) Who holds that the Megillah is equivalent to Hallel.
(10) I Sam. I, 1.
(11) Lit., ‘watchers’. V. supra.
(12) Lit., ‘was required for’.
(13) The literal meaning.
(14) Lit., ‘height of the world’.
(15) Num. XXVI, 11.
(16) Rab (?).
(17) Lit., ‘fenced in’.
(18) Gen. XI, 29.
(19) Ibid. XXI. 12.
(20) Ex. XV, 20.
(21) I.e., before the birth of Moses.
(22) Ex. II, 4.
(23) Jud. IV,4. ‘Lapidoth’ means literally ‘flames’.
(24) Ibid. 5.
(25) And the possibility of scandal, a palm tree not being leafy.
(26) I Sam. II, 1.
(27) V. I Sam. XVI, 13 (David); I Kings I, 39 (Solomon).
(28) As symbolized by a horn.
(29) V. I Sam. X, 1 (Saul); II Kings IX. 1 (Jehu).
(30) I Sam. II, 2.
(31) Ibid. XXV, 20.
(32) David was supposed to have been an authority on the Torah, v. Ber. 4a.
(33) And yet you are condemning Nabal to death.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 14b
He [Nabal] is a rebel against the king and no trial is necessary for him.1 She replied; Saul is still alive, and your fame is not yet spread abroad in the world. Then he said to her: Blessed be thy discretion and blessed be thou, that hast kept me this day from bloodguiltiness.2 The word damim [bloodguiltiness] is plural, to indicate two kinds of blood.3 The passage teaches that she bared her thigh4 and he went three parasangs by the light of it.5 He said, Listen to me. She replied, Let not this be a stumbling-block to thee.6 The word ‘this’ implies that something else would be, and what was that? The incident of Bathsheba; and so it was eventually.7 The soul of thy lord shall be bound up in the bundle of life.8 When she left him she said to him, and when the Lord shall have done good to my lord . . . then remember thy handmaid.9 R. Nahman said: This bears out the popular saying, While a woman talks she spins.10 Some adduce the saying: The goose stoops as it goes along, but its eyes peer afar.
‘Hulda, as it is written, So Hilkiah the priest and Ahikam and Achbor etc.11 But if Jeremiah was there,12 how could she prophesy? — It was said in the school of Rab in the name of Rab: Hulda was a near relative of Jeremiah, and he did not object to her doing so. But how could Josiah himself pass over Jeremiah and send to her? — The members of the school of R. Shila replied, Because women are tender-hearted.13 R. Johanan said: Jeremiah was not there, as he had gone to bring back the ten tribes. Whence do we know that they returned? — Because it is written, For the seller shall not return to that which is sold.14 Now is it possible that after the Jubilee had ceased15 the prophet should prophesy that it will cease? The fact is that it teaches that Jeremiah brought them back.16 Josiah the son of Amon ruled over them, as it says, Then he said, What monument is that which I see? And the men of the city told him, It is the sepulchre of the man of God who came from Judah, and proclaimed these things that thou hast done against the altar in Beth-el.17 Now what connection is there between Josiah and the altar in Bethel?18 What it teaches therefore is that Josiah reigned over them. R. Nahman said: We learn it from here: Also, O Judah, there is a harvest appointed for thee, when I would turn the captivity of my people.19
‘Esther,’ as it is written, Now it came to pass on the third day that Esther clothed herself in royalty.20 Surely it should say,’royal apparel’? What it shows is that the holy spirit clothed her. It is written here, ‘and she clothed’, and it is written in another place. Then the spirit clothed Amasai, etc.21
R. Nahman said: Haughtiness does not befit women. There were two haughty women, and their names are hateful, one being called a hornet22 and the other a weasel.23 Of the hornet it is written, And she sent and called Barak,24 instead of going to him. Of the weasel it is written, Say to the man,25 instead of ‘say to the king’.
R. Nahman said: Hulda was a descendant of Joshua. It is written here [in connection with Hulda]. The son of Harhas,26 and it is written in another place [in connection with Joshua], In Timnath-Heres.27 R. ‘Ena Saba cited the following in objection to R. Nahman: ‘Eight prophets who were also priests were descended from Rahab the harlot, namely, Neriah, Baruch, Serayah, Mahseyah, Jeremiah, Hilkiah, Hanamel and Shallum.’ R. Judah says: Hulda the prophetess was also one of the descendants of Rahab the harlot. [We know this] because it is written here ‘the son of Tikvah’ and it is written elsewhere [in connection with Rahab]. ‘the line [tikvath] of scarlet thread’!28 — He replied: ‘’Ena Saba’29 — or, according to another report. ‘Black bowl’,30 — the truth can be found by combining my statement and yours’.31 We must suppose that she became a proselyte and Joshua married her. But had Joshua any children? Is it not written, Nun his son, Joshua his son?32 — He had no sons, but he had daughters.
(1) I.e., he can be condemned at night. V. Tosaf.
(2) I Sam. XXV, 33.
(3) Of uncleanness and capital punishment.
(4) Not necessarily in his presence. V. Maharsha.
(5) I.e., through desire for her. V. Tosaf.
(6) Ibid. 31.
(7) This shows that she was a prophetess.
(8) Ibid. 29. This sentence seems to be an interpolation and should be omitted (Maharsha).
(9) Ibid. 30, 31.
(10) Ibid. So Abigail, while speaking about Nabal, put in a word for herself, proposing that David should marry her should Nabal die (Rashi).
(11) II Kings XXII, 14.
(12) Jeremiah began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah (Jer. I, 2) and this happened in the eighteenth year of Josiah.
(13) And she would pray for them (Maharsha).
(14) Ezek. VII, 13. Ezekiel prophesied in the period between the exiles of Jeconiah and Zedekiah.
(15) The Jubilee was to be kept only when all Israel were in the land, and therefore ceased as soon as the tribes across the Jordan were deported (Rashi).
(16) So that in that year they commenced counting again for the Jubilee.
(17) II Kings XXIII, 17.
(18) Which was in the kingdom of Ephraim.
(19) Hos. VI, 11. ‘Harvest’ here is supposed to have the sense of ‘power’ or ‘greatness’ (Rashi).
(20) Esth. V, 1.
(21) I Chron. XII, 19.
(22) The literal meaning of Deborah.
(23) The literal meaning of Hulda.
(24) Jud. IV, 6.
(25) II Kings XXII, 15.
(26) Ibid. 14.
(27) Jud. II, 9. This is interpreted as ‘Timnath belonging to Heres’, who is identified with Harhas.
(28) Josh. II, 18.
(29) Lit., ‘old eye’.
(30) Alluding perhaps to his ugliness (Maharsha).
(31) Lit., ‘from me and thee is the matter concluded’.
(32) I Chron. VII, 27. The genealogy stops at this point; from which it is inferred that Joshua had no sons.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 15a
We admit that [some of] those [eight] mentioned above are expressly described [as prophets],1 but how do we know that their fathers2 [were prophets]? — From the dictum of ‘Ulla; for ‘Ulla said: Wherever a man's name is given along with that of his father as the author of a prophecy3 we know that he was a prophet son of a prophet. Where his own name is given but not that of his father, we know that he was a prophet but not the son of a prophet. Where his name and the name of his town are specified, we know that he came from that town — Where his name is given but not that of his town, we know that he was from Jerusalem — In a Baraitha it was stated: If nothing is known about the character of a man or of his ancestors,4 and the Scripture mentions any one of them in connection with a praiseworthy action, as for instance, The word of the Lord which came to Zephaniah son of Cushi son of Gedaliah,5 we may know that he was a righteous man son of a righteous man; and wherever the Scripture mentions any one of them in connection with a reprehensible action, as for instance, And it came to pass in the seventh month that Ishmael the son....of Elishama came,6 we may know that he was a wicked man son of a wicked man.
R. Nahman7 said: Malachi is the same as Mordecai. Why was he called Malachi? Because he was next to the king.8 The following was cited in objection to this: ‘Baruch the son of Neriah and Serayah the son of Mahseyah and Daniel and Mordecai, Bilshan, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi all prophesied in the second year of Darius’! — This is a refutation.
It has been taught: R. Joshua b. Korha said: Malachi is the same as Ezra, and the Sages say that Malachi was his proper name. R. Nahman said: There is good ground for accepting the view that Malachi was the same as Ezra. For it is written in the prophecy of Malachi, Judah hath dealt treacherously and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem, for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loveth and hath married the daughter of a strange God.9 And who was it that put away the strange women? Ezra, as it is written, And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam answered and said unto Ezra: We have broken faith with our God and have married foreign women.10
The Rabbis taught: There have been four women of surpassing beauty in the world — Sarah, Rahab, Abigail and Esther. According to the one who says that Esther was sallow,11 Vashti should be inserted in place of Esther.
Our Rabbis taught: Rahab inspired lust by her name; Jael by her voice; Abigail by her memory; Mical daughter of Saul by her appearance. R. Isaac said: Whoever says. ‘Rahab, Rahab’, at once has an issue. Said R. Nahman to him: I say Rahab, Rahab, and nothing happens to me! He replied: I was speaking of one who knows her and is intimate with her.
Now when Mordecai knew all that was done12 [etc.]. What [was his cry]? — Rab said: He said, ‘Haman has raised himself above Ahasuerus’; Samuel said, ‘The upper king has prevailed over the lower king’.13
And the queen was exceedingly pained [wa-tithhalhal].14 What is the meaning of wa-tithhalhal?15 — Rab said: It means that she became menstruous; R. Jeremiah said that her bowels were loosened.
And Esther called Hatach.16 Rab said: Hatach is the same as Daniel. Why was he called Hatach? Because he was degraded [hataku-hu] from his position.17 Samuel said, Because all affairs of state were decided [nehtakim] by his voice.
To know what this was and why this was.16 R. Isaac said: She sent to him saying. Perhaps Israel have transgressed the five books of the Torah, in which is written, On this side and on this they were written.18
And they told Mordecai Esther's words.19 But Hatach did not go to him on this occasion.20 This shows us that a recalcitrant answer21 need not be taken back [by the messenger].22
Go, gather together all the Jews . . . which is not according to the custom.23 R. Abba said: It will not be [she said] according to the custom of every other day. Till now [I have associated with Ahasuerus] under compulsion, but now I will do so of my own will.
And if I perish, I perish.23 As I am lost to my father's house so I shall be lost to thee.24
And Mordecai passed [wa-ya'abor].25 Rab said: This indicates that he made the first day of Passover pass26 as a fast day. Samuel said: It indicates that he crossed a stream [on that day].27 Now it came to pass on the third day that Esther put on royalty.28 Surely it should say, ‘royal apparel’? — R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanina: This tells us that the holy spirit clothed her. It is written here, ‘and she put on’, and it is written elsewhere, And a spirit clothed Amasai.29
R. Eleazar b. Hanina also said: Let not the blessing of an ordinary man be lightly esteemed in thine eyes, for two men great in their generation received from ordinary men blessings which were fulfilled in them. They were, David and Daniel. David was blessed by Araunah, as it is written, And Araunah said unto the king, The Lord thy God accept thee.30 Daniel was blessed by Darius, as it is written ‘ Thy God whom thou servest continually, He will deliver thee.31 R. Eleazar further said in the name of R. Hanina: Let not the curse of an ordinary man be lightly esteemed in thine eyes, because Abimelech cursed Sarah, saying, Behold he is to thee a covering of the eyes,32 and this was fulfilled in her seed, [as it says], And it came to pass that when Isaac was old his eyes were dim.33
R. Eleazar further said in the name of R. Hanina: Come and observe that the way of the Holy One, blessed be He, is not like the way of flesh and blood — The way of flesh and blood is that a man places a pot on the fire and then pours water into it, but God first puts in the water and then fixes the pot, to fulfil what is written, At the sound of his giving a multitude of waters in the heavens.34 R. Eleazar further said in the name of R. Hanina: Whoever reports a saying in the name of its originator brings deliverance to the world, as it says, And Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai.35
R. Eleazar further said in the name of R. Hanina: When a righteous man dies, he dies only for his own generation.36 It is with him as with a man who loses a pearl. Wherever it is, it remains a pearl,37 and is lost only to its owner.
Yet all this availeth me nothing.38 R. Eleazar said in the name of R. Hanina: Because he saw Mordecai sitting in the king's gate, was this any reason why he should say, ‘All this availeth me nothing’? The explanation is in the dictum of R. Hisda; for R. Hisda said: The one came [to the court] as a counsellor39 and the other
(1) Viz., Jeremiah and Hanamel (Jer. XXXII) and also Baruch and Serayah, who were disciples of Jeremiah and therefore presumably prophets also (Rashi).
(2) Viz., Hilkiah, Shallum, Neriah and Mahseyah.
(3) Lit., ‘in prophecy’.
(4) Lit., ‘where his actions and those of his ancestors are not defined’.
(5) Zeph. I, 1.
(6) Jer. XLI, 1. They came to murder Gedaliah.
(7) According to a better reading, Rab. V infra.
(8) V. Esth. X, 3. ‘And he was looked on as an angel (mal'ak)’. (Maharsha).
(9) Mal. II, 11.
(10) Ezra X, 2.
(11) V. supra p.75.
(12) Esth. IV, 1.
(13) Euphemistically, meaning the opposite. Or it may be taken literally, as a kind of prayer (Maharsha).
(14) Esth. IV 4.
(15) Lit., ‘became full of hollows’.
(16) Ibid. 5.
(17) Which he held in the reigns of Belshazar, Darius and Cyrus.
(18) Ex. XXXII, 15.
(19) Esth. IV, 12.
(20) As, if so, it would say he told.
(21) E.g., Esther's reluctance to petition the king.
(22) And Mordecai must have learnt from some other source.
(23) Ibid. 16.
(24) [By submitting voluntarily to Ahasuerus she would be for ever forbidden to Mordecai who was (v. p. 78, n. 5) her legitimate husband, according to the law which forbids a wife to her husband where she had relations of her own free will with another man.]
(25) Ibid. 17.
(26) A play on the word he'ebir which means, ‘to prolong a month by adding an extra day’,[or in the sense of ‘transgressed’, cf. Targum a.I.: ‘and he transgressed the joy of the feast of Passover’.] The order for the destruction of the Jews was given in Susa on the thirteenth day of Nisan, and the Jews fasted the next three days.
(27) To inform the Jews on the other side. [The Jewish quarter in Susa was separated from the main city by a small tributary of the Tigris. V. Obermeyer, p. 214.]
(28) Esth. V, 1.
(29) I Chron. XII, 19.
(30) II Sam. XXIV, 23.
(31) Dan. VI, 17.
(32) Gen. XX, 16.
(33) Ibid. XXVII, 1. V. supra.
(34) Jer. X, 13. The text continues, when he causeth the vapours to ascend, like steam from a boiling pot.
(35) Esth. II, 22.
(36) And his name, or his soul, survives.
(37) Lit., ‘its name is pearl’.
(38) This verse from the Book of Esther (V. 13) is here commented on out of its place, in order to introduce another dictum of R. Eleazar in the name of R. Hanina.
(39) Heb. פרוזבולי apparently = **.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 15b
as an envoy.1 R. Papa said: They also called him, The slave that was sold for loaves of bread .2
Yet all this availeth me nought. This tells us that all the treasures of that wretch were engraved on his heart, and when he saw Mordecai sitting in the king's gate he said, Yet all this3 availeth me nought.
R. Eleazar further said in the name of R. Hanina: God will in the time to come be a crown on the head of every righteous man, as it is said, In that day shall the Lord of Hosts be for a crown of glory4 etc. What is meant by a ‘crown of glory’ [zebi] and a ‘diadem [zefirath] of beauty’? For them that do his will [zibyono] and who await [mezapin] his glory. Shall He be so to all? [Not so]. since it says, ‘unto the residue of [lish'ar] his people’: that is, to whoever makes of himself a mere residue [shirayim]. ‘And for a spirit of judgment’: this indicates one who brings his inclination to trial.5 ‘To him that sitteth in judgment’: this indicates one who gives a true verdict on true evidence.6 ‘And for strength’: this indicates one who subdues his evil passions.7 ‘That turn back the battle’: this indicates those who thrust and parry8 in the war of the Torah. ‘At the gate’: these are the disciples of the wise who are early and late in synagogues and houses of study. Said the Attribute of Justice9 before the Holy One, blessed be He: Why this difference between these and the others? The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: Israel busy themselves with the Torah, the other nations do not busy themselves with the Torah — He replied to Him, But these also reel through wine, and stagger through strong drink, they totter in judgment10 [paku peliliyah]; and ‘paku’ contains a reference to Gehinnom, as it says, that this shall be no stumbling-block [pukah] to thee;11 and ‘peliliyah’ contains a reference to the judges, as it says. and he shall pay as the judges determine [bi-felilim].12
And stood in the inner court of the king's house.13 R. Levi said: When she reached the chamber of the idols, the Divine Presence left her. She said, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me.14 Dost thou perchance punish the inadvertent offence15 like the presumptuous one, or one done under compulsion like one done willingly? Or is it because I called him ‘dog’, as it says. Deliver my soul from the sword, mine only one from the power of the dog?16 She straightway retracted and called him lion, as it says. Save me from the lion's mouth.17
And it was so when the king saw Esther the queen.18 R. Johanan said: Three ministering angels were appointed to help her at that moment; one to make her head19 erect, a second to endow her with charm20 and a third to stretch the golden sceptre. How much [was it stretched]? — R. Jeremiah said: It was two cubits long and he made it twelve cubits — Some say, sixteen, and some again twenty-four. In a Baraitha it was stated, sixty. So too you find with the arm of the daughter of Pharaoh,21 and so you find with the teeth of the wicked, as it is written, Thou hast broken [shibarta] the teeth of the wicked,22 and Resh Lakish said in regard to this, Read not shibarta but shirbabta [Thou hast prolonged]. Rabbah b. ‘Ofran said in the name of R. Eleazar who had it from his teacher, who had it from his teacher, [that the sceptre was stretched] two hundred [cubits].
And the king said to her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? For whatever thy request, even to the half of the kingdom, it shall be given thee.23 ‘Half the kingdom’, but not the whole kingdom. and not a thing which would divide the kingdom.24 What could that be? The building of the Temple.
Let the king and Haman come unto the banquet.25 Our Rabbis taught: What was Esther's reason for inviting Haman? — R. Eleazar said, She set a trap for him, as it says. Let their table before them become a snare.26 R. Joshua said: She learnt to do so from her father's house, as it says. If thine enemy be hungry give him bread to eat, etc.27 R. Meir said, So that he should not form a conspiracy28 and rebel. R. Judah said: So that they should not discover that she was a Jewess.29 R. Nehemiah said: So that Israel should not say, We have a sister in the palace, and so should neglect30 [to pray for] mercy. R. Jose said: So that he should always be at hand for her.31 R. Simeon b. Menassiah said: [She said], Perhaps the Omnipresent will notice32 and do a miracle for us. R. Joshua b. Korha said: [She said], I will encourage him so that he may be killed, both he and I.33 Rabban Gamaliel said: [She said]. Ahasuerus is a changeable king.34 Said R. Gamaliel: We still require the Modean,35 as it has been taught: R. Eliezer of Modi'im says, She made the king jealous of him and she made the princes jealous of him. Rabbah said: [She said], Pride goeth before destruction.36 Abaye and Raba gave the same reason, saying: [She said], With their poison I will prepare their feast.37 Rabbah b. Abbuha came across Elijah and said to him, Which of these reasons prompted Esther to act as she did? He replied: [All] the reasons given by all the Tannaim and all the Amoraim.
And Haman recounted unto them the glory of his riches and the multitude of his children.38 How many are indicated by ‘the multitude of his children’? — Rab said: Thirty. Ten died, ten were hung, and ten were reduced to beggary. The Rabbis, however, said: Those who were reduced to beggary numbered seventy, as it says, They that were full [sebe'im] have hired themselves out for bread.39 Read not sebe'im, but shib'im [seventy]. Rami b. Abba said: In all they were two hundred and eight, as it says, And the multitude [we-rob] of his sons. But we-rob in gematria40 is two hundred and fourteen?41 — R. Nahman b. Isaac said: The word is written defectively.42
On that night the sleep of the king was disturbed.43 R. Tanhun said: The sleep of the King of the Universe was disturbed. The Rabbis, however, say: Those above44 were disturbed and those below45 were disturbed. Raba said: It means literally ‘the sleep of king Ahasuerus. A thought occurred to him: What is the meaning of Esther inviting Haman? Perhaps they are conspiring46 against me to kill me? He thought again: If that is so, is there no man who is my friend and who would tell me? Then he thought again: Perhaps there is some man who has done me a good turn and I have not rewarded him; and therefore men refrain from informing me. Straightway, he commanded to bring the book of records of the chronicles.43
And they were read.43 This [form of expression]47 indicates that they were read of themselves. And it was found [being] written.48 It should say, a writing [kethab] was found? — This shows
(1) Heb. פרוזבוטי apparently = ** There was a tradition that Mordecai once went with a deputation to the king of Persia to ask permission for the Jews to rebuild the Temple, v. Jast. [Rashi: One (Mordecai) came as a rich man, the other (Haman) as a debtor. Haman according to the legend had sold himself during one of the wars as a slave to Mordecai for a loaf of bread.]
(2) V. previous note.
(3) Pointing to it (Maharsha).
(4) Isa. XXVIII, 5f.
(5) And forces himself to repent (Rashi).
(6) Lit., ‘true to its own truth’.
(7) Avoids sin.
(8) Lit., ‘take and give’, i.e., ‘argue’, ‘debate’.
(9) The qualities assigned to God in Ex. XXXIV, 6,7 are called in the Talmud the divine Attributes (middoth, lit., ‘measures’). and those of Justice and Mercy are often personified.
(10) Isa. XXVIII, 7.
(11) I Sam. XXV, 31.
(12) Ex. XXI, 22.
(13) Esth. V, 2.
(14) Ps. XXII, 2.
(15) In associating with Ahasuerus.
(16) Ibid. 21.
(17) Ibid. 22.
(18) Esth. V, 2.
(19) Lit., ‘neck’.
(20) Lit., ‘to draw a thread of grace over her’.
(21) In Ex. II, 5 the words ותשלח את אמתה are translated by the Rabbis ‘and she put forth her arm’ (E.V., ‘she sent her handmaid’)
(22) Ps. III, 8. Cf. Ber.
(23) Esth. V, 3.
(24) By setting up a rival power.
(25) Ibid. 4.
(26) Ps. LXIX, 23.
(27) Prov. XXV, 21. The next verse continues, ‘for thou heapest coals of fire upon his head’.
(28) Lit., ‘take counsel’.
(29) Since she was willing to eat with Haman.
(30) Lit., ‘discuss their mind’.
(31) If she wanted to accuse him.
(32) To what straits I am brought.
(33) Lit., ‘she’.
(34) And I may persuade him to alter his mind while Haman is with us, so that he will not have time to change again.
(35) To explain why Haman alone was invited (Maharsha).
(36) Prov. XVI, 18.
(37) Jer. LI, 39.
(38) Esth. V, 11.
(39) I Sam. II, 5.
(40) V. Glos.
(41) Viz., W = 6; R = 200; W = 6; B = 2.
(42) I.e., without the middle waw.
(43) Esth. VI, 1.
(44) The angels.
(46) Lit., ‘taking counsel’.
(47) Instead of ‘and they read them’.
(48) Ibid. 2.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 16a
that Shamshai1 kept on erasing and Gabriel kept on writing. R. Assi said: R. Shila, a man of Kefar Temarta,2 drew a lesson from this, saying: If a writing on earth which is for the benefit of Israel cannot be erased, how much less a writing in heaven!3
There is nothing done for him.4 Raba said: [They answered him thus] not because they loved Mordecai but because they hated Haman.
He had prepared for him.5 A Tanna stated: [This means], he had prepared for himself.6
And do even so to Mordecai etc.7 Haman said to him: Who is Mordecai? He said to him: ‘The Jew’. He said: There are many Mordecais among the Jews. He replied: ‘The one who sits in the king's gate’. Said Haman to him: For him [the tribute] of one village or one river is sufficient! Said Ahasuerus: Give him that too; ‘let nothing fail of all that thou hast spoken’.
Then took Haman the apparel and the horse.8 He went and found [Mordecai with] the Rabbis sitting before him while he showed them the rules of the ‘handful’.9 When Mordecai saw him approaching and leading the horse, he became frightened and said to the Rabbis, This villain is coming to kill me. Get out of his way so that you should not get into trouble with him.10 Mordecai thereupon drew his robe round him and stood up to pray. Haman came up and sat down before them and waited till Mordecai had finished his prayer. He said to him: What have you been discussing? He replied: When the Temple stood, if a man brought a meal-offering he used to offer a handful of fine flour and make atonement therewith. Said Haman to them: Your handful of fine flour has come and displaced my ten thousand talents of silver. Said Mordecai to him: Wretch, if a slave acquires property, whose is the slave and whose is the property?11 Haman then said to him: Arise and put on this apparel and ride on this horse, for so the king desires you to do. He replied: I cannot do so until I have gone into the bath and trimmed my hair, for it would not be good manners to use the king's apparel in this state. Now Esther had sent and closed all the baths and all the barbers’ shops. So Haman himself took him into the bath and washed him, and then went and brought scissors from his house and trimmed his hair. While he was doing so, he sighed and groaned. Said Mordecai to him: Why do you sigh? He replied: The man who was esteemed by the king above all his nobles is now made a bath attendant and a barber. Said Mordecai to him: Wretch, and were you not once a barber in Kefar Karzum?12
(For so a Tanna stated: Haman was a barber in Kefar Karzum twenty-two years.) After he had trimmed his hair he put the garments on him, and said to him, Mount and ride. He replied: I am not able, as I am weak from the days of fasting. So Haman stooped down and he mounted [on his back]. When he was up he kicked him. He said to him: Is it not written in your books,13 Rejoice not when thine enemy faileth?14 He replied: That refers to an Israelite, but in regard to you [folk] it is written, And thou shalt tread upon their high places.15
And proclaimed before him, This shall be done to the man whom the king delighted to honour.16 As he was leading him through the street where Haman lived, his daughter who was standing on the roof saw him. She thought that the man on the horse was her father and the man walking before him was Mordecai. So she took a chamber pot and emptied it on the head of her father. He looked up at her and when she saw that it was her father, she threw herself from the roof to the ground and killed herself. Hence it is written . . .17
And Mordecai returned to the king's gate. R. Shesheth said: This indicates that he returned to his sackcloth and fasting. But Haman hastened to his house, mourning and having his head covered; mourning for his daughter, and with his head covered on account of what had happened to him.
And Haman recounted unto Zeresh his wife and all his friends, etc. They are first called ‘his friends’ and then they are called ‘his wise men’. R. Johanan said: Whoever says a wise thing even if he is a non-Jew18 is called ‘wise’.
If Mordecai be of the seed of the Jews. They said to him: If he comes from the other tribes, you can prevail over him, but if he is from the tribe of Judah or of Benjamin, Ephraim or Manasseh, you will not prevail over him. ‘Judah’, as it is written, Thy hand shall be on the neck of thine enemies.19 The others, because it is written of them, Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy might.20
But falling thou shalt fall.21 R. Judah b. Ila'i drew a lesson from this verse, Saying: Why are two fallings mentioned here? Haman's friends said to him: This people is likened to the dust and it is likened to the stars. When they go down, they go down to the dust, and when they rise they rise to the stars. Came the king's chamberlains and hastened [wa-yabhilu] to bring Haman.22 The use of this word [wa-yabhilu]23 tells us that they brought him all in confusion [behalah].
For we are sold, I and my people etc . . . For the adversary cares24 not that the king is endamaged.25 She said to him: This adversary cares not for the damage of the king. He was angry with Vashti and killed her,26 and he is angry with me and wants to kill me.
Then said the king Ahasuerus, and he said to Esther the queen.27 Why ‘said’ and again ‘said’? R. Abbahu replied: He first spoke to her through an intermediary.28 When she told him that she came from the house of Saul,29 forthwith, ‘he said to Esther the queen’.
And Esther said, An adversary and an enemy, even this wicked Haman.30 R. Eleazar said: This informs us that she was pointing to Ahasuerus and an angel came and pushed her hand so as to point to Haman.31
And the king rose in his wrath...and the king returned out of the palace garden.32 His returning is put on the same footing as his arising. Just as the arising was in wrath, so the returning was in wrath. For he went and found ministering angels in the form of men who were uprooting trees from the garden. He said to them, What are you doing? They replied: Haman has ordered us. He came into the house, and there ‘Haman was falling33 upon the couch’. ‘Falling’? It should say. ‘had fallen’? — R. Eleazar said: This informs us that an angel came and made him fall on it. Ahasuerus then exclaimed: Trouble34 inside, trouble outside!
‘Then said the king, Will he even force the queen before me in the house? Then said Harbonah, etc.’ R. Eleazar said: Harbonah also was a wicked man and implicated in that plot.35 When he saw that his plan was not succeeding, he at once fled, and so it is written, And he cast upon him and did not pity, from his hand he surely fleeth.36
Then the king's wrath was assuaged.37 Why are there two assuagings here?38 — One of the [wrath of the] King of the Universe,39 and the other of Ahasuerus. Others say, one [of the wrath] on account of Esther and the other on account of Vashti.
To all of them he gave to each man changes of raiment but to Benjamin he gave five changes of raiment.40 Is it possible that that righteous man41 should fall into the very mistake from which he himself had suffered?
(1) A scribe, mentioned in the book of Ezra (IV, 8) as an enemy of the Jews. According to tradition he was a son of Haman.
(2) [Tamara, south of Kabul, v. E.J. s.v.]
(3) Seeing that Gabriel is already there (Maharsha).
(4) Esth. VI, 3.
(5) Ibid. 4.
(6) As otherwise the words ‘for him,’ are superfluous.
(7) Ibid. 10.
(8) Ibid. 11.
(9) V. Lev. II, 2 and infra.
(10) Lit., ‘that you be not burnt with his coal’.
(11) How then can you, being the slave of Ahasuerus, talk of your ten talents of silver. [Aliter: Haman had sold himself to Mordecai as slave. V. supra p. 90. n. 4.]
(12) [MS.M. קרינום, Kefar Karnayim in Transjordania, cf. Josephus, Ant. XII, 8,4; v. however, Romanoff, P. Amer. Acad. for Jewish Research, VII, pp. 58ff].
(13) Lit., ‘for you’.
(14) Prov. XXIV, 17.
(15) Deut. XXXIII, 29.
(16) Esth. VI, 11.
(17) These words connect with the sentence after the next, ‘but Haman hastened’ etc.
(18) Lit., ‘of the nations of the world’.
(19) Gen. XLIX, 8.
(20) Ps. LXXX, 3.
(21) So lit. E.V. Shalt surely fall.
(22) Esth. VI, 14.
(23) Instead of the more usual וימהרו
(24) E.V., ‘is not worthy’.
(25) Esth. VII, 4.
(26) V. supra 12b.
(27) Ibid. 5.
(28) Heb. turgeman; lit., ‘interpreter’.
(29) I.e., that she was of royal descent.
(30) Ibid. 6.
(31) She meant the words ‘adversary and enemy’ to apply to Ahasuerus himself.
(32) Esth. VII, 7f.
(33) Heb. נפל
(34) Lit., ‘woe!’.
(35) To hang Mordecai. [Otherwise how would he have known the exact measurements of the gallows.]
(36) Job XXVII, 22.
(37) Esth. VII, 10.
(38) The Hebrew is שככה, where שכה might have been used.
(39) Against Israel for bowing down to the image; supra 12a.
(40) Gen. XLV, 22.
Talmud - Mas. Megilah 16b
For Raba b. Mehasia said in the name of R. Hami b. Guria, who said it in the name of Rab: Through two sela's weight of fine silk which Jacob gave to Joseph over what he gave to his brothers, a ball was set rolling and our ancestors eventually went down to Egypt! — R. Benjamin b. Japhet said: He gave him a hint that a descendant would issue from him who would go forth before a king in five royal garments, as it says, And Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue etc.1
And he fell upon his brother Benjamin's neck.2 How many necks3 had Benjamin? — R. Eleazar said: He wept for the two Temples which were destined to be in the territory of Benjamin4 and to be destroyed. And Benjamin wept upon his neck:2 he wept for the tabernacle of Shiloh which was destined to be in the territory of Joseph and to be destroyed.
And behold your eyes see and the eyes of my brother Benjamin.5 R. Eleazar said: He said to them: Just as I bear no malice against my brother Benjamin who had no part in my selling, so I have no malice against you.
That it is my mouth that speaketh unto you. As my mouth is, so is my heart.
And to his father he sent in like manner ten asses laden with the good things of Egypt.6 What are ‘the good things of Egypt’? R. Benjamin b. Japhet said in the name of R. Eleazar: He sent him [old] wine which old men find very comforting.7
And his brethren also went and fell down before him.8 R. Benjamin b. Japhet said in the name of R. Eleazar: This bears out the popular saying, A fox in its hour — bow down to it. [You compare Joseph to] a fox! Where was his inferiority to his brothers? Rather if this was said [by R. Eleazar] it was applied as follows: And Israel bowed down upon the bed's head.9 R. Benjamin b. Japhet said in the name of R. Eleazar; A fox in its hour — bow down to it.10
And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.11 R. Benjamin b. Japhet said in the name of R. Eleazar: This tells us that he spoke to them words which greatly reassured them,12 [saying], If ten lights were not able to put out one, how can one light put out ten?
The Jews had light and gladness and joy and honour.13 Rab Judah said: ‘Light’ means the Torah,14 and so it says. For the commandment is a lamp and the Torah is a light.15 ‘Gladness’ means a feast day; and so it says, And thou shalt be glad in thy feast.16 ‘Joy’ means circumcision; and so it says, I rejoice at thy word.17 ‘Honour’ means the phylacteries, and so it says, And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee, and they shall be afraid of thee;18 and it has been taught: R. Eleazar the Great says that this refers to the phylactery of the head.
And Parshandatha . . . the ten sons of Haman.19 R. Adda from Joppa said: The ten sons of Haman and the word ‘ten’ [which follows] should be said20 in one breath. What is the reason? Because their souls all departed together. R. Johanan said: The waw of waizatha must be lengthened like a boat-pole of the river Libruth.21 What is the reason? Because they were all strung on one pole. R. Shila, a man of Kefar Temarta, drew a lesson from this saying, All the songs [in Scripture] are written in the form of a half brick over a whole brick,22 and a whole brick22 over a half brick,23 with the exception of this one and the list of the kings of Canaan24 which are written in the form of a half brick over a half brick and a whole brick over a whole brick.25 What is the reason? So that they should never rise again from their downfall.
And the king said to the queen, In Shushan the castle the Jews have slain . . .26 The mode of expression informs us that an angel came and slapped him on his mouth.27
But when she came before the king, he said along with the letter.28 ‘He said’? It should be, ‘she said’! — R. Johanan said: She said, Let there be said by word of mouth what is written in the letter.29
Words of peace and truth.30 R. Tanhum said: [or, according to some, R. Assi]: This shows that the Megillah requires to be written on ruled lines, like the true essence of the Torah.31 And the ordinance of Esther confirmed.32 Only the ordinance of Esther and not the words of the fastings? — R. Johanan said: We must read thus: The words of the fastings [and their cry] and the ordinance of Esther confirmed these matters of Purim.33
For Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews and accepted of the majority of his brethren.34 Of the majority of his brethren but not of all his brethren; this informs us that some members of the Sanhedrin separated from him.35
R. Joseph said: The study of the Torah is superior to the saving of life. For at first Mordecai was reckoned next after four, but afterwards next after five. At first it is written, Who came with Zerubabel, [namely] Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan,36 and subsequently it is written, Who came with Zerubabel, Jeshua, Nehemiah, Azariah, Raamiah, Nahamani, Mordecai, Bilshan.37
Rab — or, some say. R. Samuel b. Martha — said: The study of the Torah is superior to the building of the Temple, for as long as Baruch b. Neriah was alive Ezra would not leave him to go up to the land of Israel.38 Rabbah said in the name of R. Isaac b. Samuel b. Martha: The study of the Torah is superior to the honouring of father and mother. For, for the fourteen years that Jacob spent in the house of Eber, he was not punished, since a Master has said:
(1) Esth. VIII, 15.
(2) Gen. XLV, 14.
(3) The Heb. צוארי can also be taken as a plural. [Rashi omits this question. He did not regard the exposition that follows as being based upon the supposed difference in the grammatical form. the neck is simply taken as allusion to the Temple.]
(4) On the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
(5) Gen. XLV, 12.
(6) Ibid. 23.
(7) Lit., ‘in which the mind of old will take delight’.
(8) Ibid. L, 18.
(9) Ibid. XLVII, 31.
(10) By comparison with his father there would be no disrespect in referring to Joseph as a fox.
(11) Lit., ‘upon their heart.
(12) Lit., ‘which were received upon the heart’.
(13) Esth. VIII, 16.
(14) I.e., they resumed the study of the Torah without hindrance; and so with circumcision and phylacteries.
(15) Prov. VI, 23.
(16) Deut. XVI, 14.
(17) Ps. CXIX, 162. The word לאמר (saying) here is taken to refer to circumcision because God said (אמר) to Abraham that he should circumcise his son, Gen. XVII, 9.
(18) Deut. XXVIII, 10.
(19) Esth. IX, 7-10.
(20) By one reading the Megillah.
(21) Not identified, v. B.M., Sonc. ed. p. 503, n. 10.
(22) Al. ‘blank space’.
(23) The words in each line must be spaced in such a way as to present this appearance, the space of the half-brick being occupied in each case by the writing.
(24) In Joshua XII.
(25) אספתא ואת דלפון ואת פרשנדתא ואת etc.
(26) Esth. IX, 12.
(27) Because he commenced as if in anger and then proceeded and what is thy request etc.
(28) Ibid. 25.
(29) Rashi omits here the words, ‘she said’, and explains that R. Johanan is here laying down the rule that the Megillah
(which is called ‘letter’) should be read aloud. How he derives this lesson from the text is not clear.
(30) Ibid. 30.
(31) I.e., the Pentateuch, v. Git. 6b.
(32) Ibid. 32.
(33) Ibid. 31.
(34) Ibid. X, 3.
(35) Because when he rose to power he neglected the study of the Torah.
(36) Ezra II, 2.
(37) Neh. VII, 7. The list in Ezra is given in connection with the first return from Babylon, the list in Nehemiah in connection with the dedication of the Temple which is reckoned by the Talmud to have taken place twenty-four years later (v. Rashi); and the incident of Purim is supposed to have taken place in the interval.
(38) I.e., but for Baruch, Ezra would have come back with the first of the returning exiles.
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