Talmudic Treatises, Hebrew
Melodies, And The
Edited And With A Special Introduction By
Epiphanius Wilson, A.M.
P. F. Collier & Son
By The Colonial Press
Special Introduction Selections From The Talmud Translator's Introduction On Blessings On The Sabbatical Year On The Sabbath On The Passover On The Day Of Atonement On Tabernacles The New Year On Fasting The Feast-Offering The Sanhedrin On Idolatry The Fathers The Daily Sacrifice On Measurements The Tabernacle The Heifer Hands The Kabbalah Unveiled: The Lesser Holy Assembly Chapter I: Which Containeth the Introduction Chapter II: Concerning the Skull of the Ancient One, and Concerning His Brain; and Concerning the Three Heads, and the Hair, and the Discriminatory Paths Chapter III: Concerning the Forehead of the Most Holy Ancient One Chapter IV: Concerning the Eyes of the Most Holy Ancient One Chapter V: Concerning the Nose of the Most Holy Ancient One Chapter VI: Concerning the Beard of the Most Holy Ancient One Chapter VII: Concerning the Brain and the Wisdom in General Chapter VIII: Concerning the Father and the Mother in Special Chapter IX: Concerning Microprosopus and His Bride in General Chapter X: Concerning Microprosopus in Especial, with Certain Digressions; and Concerning the Edomite Kings Chapter XI: Concerning the Brain of Microprosopus and Its Connections Chapter XII: Concerning the Hair of Microprosopus Chapter XIII: Concerning the Forehead of Microprosopus Chapter XIV: Concerning the Eyes of Microprosopus Chapter XV: Concerning the Nose of Microprosopus Chapter XVI: Concerning the Ears of Microprosopus Chapter XVII: Concerning the Countenance of Microprosopus Chapter XVIII: Concerning the Beard of Microprosopus Chapter XIX: Concerning the Lips and Mouth of Microprosopus Chapter XX: Concerning the Body of Microprosopus Chapter XXI: Concerning the Bride of Microprosopus Hebrew Melodies Ode To Zion God, Whom Shall I Compare To Thee? Servant Of God My King To The Soul Sabbath Hymn O Sleeper! Wake, Arise! The Land Of Peace The Heart's Desire O Soul, With Storms Beset! Sanctification Hymn Of Praise Passover Hymn Morning Prayer Judgment And Mercy Grace After Meals Lord Of The Universe Hymn For The Conclusion Of The Sabbath God And Man Hymn For Tabernacles Hymn For Pentecost Hymn Of Glory Hymn Of Unity For The Seven Days Of The Week Penitential Prayer The Living God We Praise Footnotes
Hebrew literature contains some of the most profound and most influential productions of the human spirit. It constitutes a potent factor in modern civilization, and possesses merits which place it far above most other literatures of the world. The common salutation of the Hebrew is "Peace," while that of the Greeks is "Grace," and that of the Romans, "Safety." The Greek sought after grace, or intellectual and bodily perfection, and the power of artistic accomplishment. The Roman's ideal was strength and security of life and property. The Hebrew sought after peace, peace in the heart, as founded on a sense of Jehovah's good providence, and a moral conformity in conduct to His revealed will. While the Greek in art, literature, and even in morals, made beauty his standard, the Roman stood for power, domination and law, and the Hebrew for religion. The Hebrew, indeed, introduced into Europe the first clear conception of religion, as implied in monotheism, and a rigidly defined moral law, founded upon the will of Jehovah. The basis of morals among the Latins was political, among the Greeks aesthetic, and among the Hebrews it was the revealed will of Jehovah.
While the most important remains of Hebrew literature are comprised in the Scriptures known to us as the Bible, there exists also a voluminous mass of Hebrew writings which are not included in the sacred canon. These writings are of supreme importance and value, and the selections which we have made from them in the present volume give a good idea of their interest, beauty, and subtlety of thought.
From the very beginning of their history the Hebrews were a deeply poetic race. They were fully alive to the beauties of external nature, and no national poetry contains more vivid descriptions of the sea, sky, and the panorama of forest, stream and mountain, peopled by the varied activities of animated nature. The songs of Zion glow with poetic enthusiasm, but their principal characteristic is their intense earnestness. They are no idle lays of love and wine or warlike triumph. They depict the joy of existence as dependent upon the smile and favor of Jehovah, and all the happiness, plenty, victory and success of life are attributed, without hesitation, to nothing else but "the loving-kindness of the Lord." Yet this religious fervor becomes the basis of sublimity, pathos, and picturesqueness, such as can seldom be approached even by the finest productions of the Attic muse.
But the Hebrews were also philosophers, and if they never attained to what we may call the nettete et clarte of the Greek metaphysician, they excelled all other thinkers in the boldness and profound spirituality of their philosophical mysticism. In proof of this assertion we may point to that body of writings known as the Kabbalah.
The word "Kabbalah" means "doctrine received by oral tradition," and is applied to these remains to distinguish them from the canonical Hebrew Scriptures, which were written by "the Finger of Jehovah." Hebrew speculation attempts in the Kabbalah to give a philosophical or theosophistic basis to Hebrew belief, while at the same time it supplements the doctrines of the Old Testament. For instance, it is a disputed point whether the immortality of the soul is taught in the Hebrew canon, but in the Kabbalah it is taken for granted, and a complete and consistent psychology is propounded, in which is included the Oriental theory of metempsychosis. This account of the human soul, as distinct from the human body, treats of the origin and eternal destiny of man's immortal part. On the other hand God and Nature, and the connection between the Creator and the creation, are most exactly treated of in detail. God is the En-Soph, the boundless One, as in modern philosophy God is the Absolute. He manifests Himself in the ten Sephiroth, or intelligences. It would be easy on this point to show Dante's indebtedness to the Kabbalah in his description of the various heavens of his Paradise. These intelligences control, in groups of three, the three worlds of intellect, of soul, and of matter. The tenth of the Sephiroth is called Kingdom, i.e., the personal Deity, as seen in the workings of Providence, with which conception we may compare Dante's description of Fortune, in the seventh book of the "Inferno." This last of the Sephiroth is manifested visibly in the Shekinah. This is the barest and baldest outline of the main features in this famous system.
The rise of Kabbalism is not very clearly known as regards authorship and date; it is in turn, by different Jewish writers, ascribed to Adam, Abraham, Moses and Ezra; but doubtless the work is an aggregation of successive writings, and some critics believe that it was not compiled before the Middle Ages, i.e., in the centuries between the conquest of Gaul by the Franks and the period following the death of Dante.
There can be no doubt that the Kabbalah contains the ripest fruit of spiritual and mystical speculation which the Jewish world produced on subjects which had hitherto been obscured by the gross anthropomorphism of such men as Maimonides and his school. We can understand the revolt of the devout Hebrew mind from traditions like those which represented Jehovah as wearing a phylactery, and as descending to earth for the purpose of taking a razor and shaving the head and beard of Sennacherib. The theory of the Sephiroth was at least a noble and truly reverent guess at the mode of God's immanence in nature. This conception won the favor of Christian philosophers in the Middle Ages, and, indeed, was adopted or adapted by the angelic Doctor Aquinas himself, the foremost of ecclesiastical and scholastic metaphysicians. The psychology of the Kabbalah, even its treatment of the soul's preexistence before union with the body, found many advocates among Gentile and even Christian philosophers.
We are therefore led to the conclusion that the Kabbalah is by far the most exalted, the most profound and the most interesting of all that mass of traditional literature which comprises, among other writings, such remains as the Targums and the Talmud.
A study of Hebrew literature would indeed be incomplete unless it included the Talmud.
"Talmud" in Hebrew means "Doctrine," and this strange work must be looked upon as a practical handbook, intended for the Jews who, after the downfall of Jerusalem and the Dispersion, found that most of the Law had to be adjusted to new circumstances, in which the institution of sacrifices and propitiatory offerings had been practically abolished. The Talmud contains the decisions of Jewish doctors of many generations on almost every single question which might puzzle the conscience of a punctilious Jew in keeping the Law under the altered conditions of the nation. The basis of the Talmud is the Mishna, i.e., an explanation of the text of the Mosaic laws, and their application to new cases and circumstances. The Mishna has been well described by the illustrious Spanish Jew, Maimonides, who in the twelfth century published it at Cordova, with a preface, in which he says: "From Moses, our teacher, to our holy rabbi, no one has united in a single body of doctrine what was publicly taught as the oral law; but in every generation, the chief of the tribunal, or the prophet of his day, made memoranda of what he had heard from his predecessors and instructors, and communicated it orally to the people. In like manner each individual committed to writing, for his own use and according to the degree of his ability, the oral laws and the information he had received respecting the interpretation of the Bible, with the various decisions that had been pronounced in every age and sanctified by the authority of the great tribunal. Such was the form of proceeding until the coming of our Rabbi the Holy, who first collected all the traditions, the judgments, the sentences, and the expositions of the law, heard by Moses, our master, and taught in each generation."
The Mishna itself in turn became the subject of a series of comments and elucidations, which formed what was called the Gemara. The text of the original Hebrew scripture was abandoned, and a new crop of casuistical quibbles, opinions and decisions rose like mushrooms upon the text of the Mishna, and from the combination of text and Gemaraic commentary was formed that odd, rambling, and sometimes perplexing work, "wonderful monument of human industry, human wisdom and human folly," which we know as the Talmud. The book is compounded of all materials, an encyclopaedia of history, antiquities and chronology, a story book, a code of laws and conduct, a manual of ethics, a treatise on astronomy, and a medical handbook; sometimes indelicate, sometimes irreverent, but always completely and persistently in earnest. Its trifling frivolity, its curious prying into topics which were better left alone, the occasional beauty of its spiritual and imaginative fancies, make it one of the most remarkable books that human wit and human industry have ever compiled.
The selections which we print in this volume are from the Mishna, and form part of the Sedarim, or orders; in them are given minute directions as to the ceremonial practice of the Jewish religion.
The treatise on "Blessings" speaks of daily prayers and thanksgiving. It is most minute in prescribing the position of the body, and how the voice is to be used in prayer. It specifies the prayers to be said on seeing signs and wonders, on building a house, on entering or leaving a city; and how to speak the name of God in social salutations. That on the "Sabbatical Year" is a discourse on agriculture from a religious point of view. The Sabbatical year among the Hebrews was every seventh year, in which the land was to be left fallow and uncultivated, and all debts were to be remitted or outlawed. Provision is made in this section for doing certain necessary work, such as picking and using fruits which may have grown without cultivation during the Sabbatical year, with some notes on manuring the fields, pruning trees and pulling down walls. Very interesting is the section which deals with "The Sabbath Day." The most minute and exhaustive account is given of what may and what may not be done on the seventh day.
The treatise on "The Day of Atonement" deals with the preparation and deportment of the high-priest on that day. That on "The Passover" treats of the Lamb to be sacrificed, of the search for leaven, so that none be found in the house, and of all the details of the festival. "Measurements" is an interesting and valuable account of the dimensions of the Temple at Jerusalem. "The Tabernacle" deals with the ritual worship of the Jews under the new conditions of their exile from Palestine.
All of these treatises show the vitality of Jewish religion in Europe, under the most adverse circumstances, and illustrate the place which the Talmud must have occupied in Jewish history, as supplying a religious literature and a code of ritual and worship which kept Judaism united, even when it had become banished and dissociated from Palestine, Jerusalem, and the Temple.
SELECTIONS FROM THE TALMUD
Translated by Joseph Barclay, LL.D.
The Talmud (teaching) comprises the Mishna and the Gemara. The Mishna ("learning" or "second law") was, according to Jewish tradition, delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai. "Rabbi Levi, the son of Chama, says, Rabbi Simon, the son of Lakish, says, what is that which is written, 'I will give thee tables of stone, and a law and commandments which I have written, that thou mayest teach them'?(1) The Tables are the ten commandments; the Law is the written law; and the commandment is the Mishna; 'which I have written' means the prophets and sacred writings; 'that thou mayest teach them' means the Gemara. It teaches us that they were all given to Moses from Mount Sinai." From Moses the Mishna was transmitted by oral tradition through forty "Receivers," until the time of Rabbi Judah the Holy. These Receivers were qualified by ordination to hand it on from generation to generation. Abarbanel and Maimonides disagree as to the names of these Receivers. While the Temple still stood as a centre of unity to the nation, it was considered unlawful to reduce these traditions to writing. But when the Temple was burned, and the Jews were dispersed among other peoples, it was considered politic to form them into a written code, which should serve as a bond of union, and keep alive the spirit of patriotism. The Jewish leaders saw the effect of Constitutions and Pandects in consolidating nations—the advantage of written laws over arbitrary decisions. Numberless precedents of case law, answering to our common law, were already recorded: and the teachings of the Hebrew jurisconsults, or "Responsa prudentium" which were held to be binding on the people, had been preserved from former ages.
All these traditions Rabbi Judah the Holy undertook to reduce into one digest. And this laborious work he completed about A.D. 190, or more than a century after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Rabbi Judah was born on the day that Rabbi Akibah died. Solomon is said to have foretold the event: "One sun ariseth, and one sun goeth down." Akibah was the setting and Judah the rising sun. The Mishna of Rabbi Judah, afterward revised by Abba Areka in Sura, is the text of the Babylon Talmud. The commentaries written on this text by various Rabbis in the neighborhood of Babylon, until the close of the fifth century, are called the Gemara (completion), and are published in twelve folio volumes, called the Babylon Talmud—the Talmud most esteemed by the Jews. The Jerusalem Talmud contains commentaries written partly by Rabbis in Jamnia and partly in Tiberias, where they were completed by Rabbi Jochanan in the beginning of the fourth century. As now published it has only four out of the six orders or books of the Mishna, with the treatise Niddah from the sixth. In the time of Maimonides it contained five orders. On twenty-six treatises it has no Gemara, though in the treatise on shekels the Gemara of Jerusalem is used for the Babylon Talmud. The six books of the Mishna are subdivided into sixty-three treatises, in the following manner:
This book, called Order of Seeds, contains the following treatises:
1. "Blessings," together with prayers and thanksgivings, with the times and places in which they are to be used.
2. "A Corner of a Field" (Lev. xxiii. 22; Deut. xxiv. 19) treats of the corners of the field to be left for the poor to glean them—the forgotten sheaves, olives, and grapes—and of giving alms, etc.
3. "Doubtful" treats of the doubt about the tithes being paid, as the Jews were not allowed to use anything without its being first tithed.
4. "Diversities" (Lev. xix. 19; Deut. xxii. 9-11) treats of the unlawful mixing or joining together things of a different nature or kind—of sowing seeds of a different species in one bed—grafting a scion on a stock of a different kind, suffering cattle of different kinds to come together.
5. "The Sabbatical Year" (Exod. xxiii. 11; Lev. xxv. 4) treats of the laws which regulated the land as it lay fallow and rested.
6. "Heave Offerings" (Num. xviii. 8) treats of separating the heave offering—who may eat it, and who may not eat of it—of its pollutions, etc.
7. "The First Tithes" (Lev. xxvii. 30; Num. xviii. 28) treats of the law of tithes for the priests.
8. "The Second Tithes" (Deut. xiv. 22; xxvi. 14) treats of those which were to be carried to Jerusalem and there eaten, or to be redeemed and the money spent in Jerusalem in peace offerings.
9. "Cake of Dough" (Num. xv. 20) treats of setting apart a cake of dough for the priests; also, from what kind of dough the cake must be separated.
10. "Uncircumcised Fruit" (Lev. xix. 23) treats of the unlawfulness of eating the fruit of any tree till the fifth year. The first three years it is uncircumcised; the fourth year it is holy to the Lord; the fifth year it may be eaten.
11. "First Fruits" (Exod. xxiii. 19; Deut. xxvi. 1) treats of what fruits were to be offered in the Temple, and in what manner; also of the baskets in which they were to be carried.
The Order Of The Festivals:
1. "Sabbath" treats of the laws relating to the seventh day.
2. "Mixtures," or combinations, treats of the extension of boundaries, whereby all the inhabitants of the court, or entry, where the mixture is made, are counted as one family inhabiting one domicile; and are therefore allowed to carry victuals from one house to another. It also treats of the mixtures for a Sabbath day's journey, whereby the distance may be extended for an additional 2,000 cubits.
3. "Passovers" treats of all rites and ceremonies relating to the Paschal Lamb.
4. "Shekels" (Exod. xxx. 13) treats of the half shekel, which every Jew, rich or poor, was obliged to pay every year to the daily sacrifice.
5. "Day of Atonement" treats of the solemnities peculiar to it.
6. "Tabernacles" teaches how they are to be built, and how to be used.
7. "The Egg Laid on a Festival" treats of the works which may or may not be done on any of the festivals, which are called days of holy convocation, on which no servile work may be done.
8. "New Year" treats of the laws and solemnities of the feast of the New Year, as also of the feasts of the New Moons.
9. "Fasts" treats of the various fasts throughout the year.
10. "The Roll" treats of the feast of Purim, and gives instructions how and in what manner the Book of Esther and other Lessons are to be read. The Gemara directs Jews to get so drunk on this feast, that they cannot discern the difference between "Blessed be Mordecai and cursed be Haman," and "Cursed be Mordecai and blessed be Haman."
11. "Minor Feasts" treats of the works that may and that may not be lawfully done on the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th days, when the first and seventh are holy; these intermediate days being lesser festivals.
12. "Sacrifices on Festivals" treats of the three great festivals, when all the males were obliged to appear before the Lord, and of the sacrifices which they were to bring. It also lays down rules for the dissolution of vows, which it says "are like mountains hanging on a hair, for the text is slender and the constitutions many."
1. "Brother's Widow" (Deut. xxv. 5-11) treats of the law obliging a brother to marry the relict of his deceased brother; also, when the obligation is to take place, and the ceremonies to be used at its performance.
2. "Marriage Settlements" treats of dowries and women who happen to obtain estates, either real or personal. From this tract the baptism of infant proselytes can be proved.
3. "Vows" (Num. xxx. 4-16) shows when vows are binding and when null and void. When a married woman makes a vow the husband can confirm or annul it. This tract points out what vows fall under his cognizance and what do not.
4. "The Nazarite" (Num. vi. 21) treats of the laws relating to the different sorts of Nazarites.
5. "Trial of Jealousy" (Num. v. 11-31) treats of the mode of trial and punishment of criminals. Men may go home to their wives from voluntary wars, but not from wars of command. This tract shows the miserable state of the Jews at the destruction of the second Temple, and at the future advent of the Messiah.
6. "Divorces" treats of the laws relating to divorces, also the formalities to be observed both before and after they are given. A man may divorce his wife if she spoil his broth, or if he find another more handsome.
7. "Betrothing" treats of the laws of espousals and some other previous rites of marriage. It commands sons to be taught suitable trades. It states that all ass-drivers are wicked, camel-drivers are honest, sailors are pious, physicians are destined for hell, and butchers are company for Amalek.
1. "First Gate," so called because in the East law is often administered in the gateway of a city. It treats of all such damages as may be received from man or beast. It assesses damages done by a beast according to the benefit which the beast receives. If it eat a peck of dates its owner would be fined for a peck of barley, as dates are not more nourishing for a beast than barley.
2. "The Middle Gate" treats of laws of usury and trusts, of letting out on hire, of landlord and tenant, etc.
3. "Last Gate" treats of the laws of commerce and co-partnership, of buying and selling, of the laws of inheritance and the right of succession.
4. "Sanhedrin" treats of the great national senate.
5. "Stripes" treats of false witnesses, of the law of the forty stripes save one, of those who were bound to fly to the cities of refuge.
6. "Oaths" explains the laws for administering oaths; when an oath is to be admitted between contending parties who are qualified to take them. In Hilchoth Eduth. ix. 1 it is taught that ten sorts of persons are disqualified—women, slaves, children, idiots, deaf persons, the blind, the wicked, the despised, relations, and those interested in their evidence.
7. "Evidences" are a collection of many important decisions gathered from the testimonies of distinguished Rabbis. It is observable that the decisions of the School of Shammai are more rigorous than those of the School of Hillel, from whence it is inferred that the former adhered more closely to Scripture, the latter to tradition. The former were the Scribes, and are now represented by the Karaites, who reject the Talmud.
8. "Idolatry," or the worship of stars and meteors, treats of the way to avoid this grievous sin.
9. "The Fathers" contains a history of those who handed down the Oral Law, also many maxims and proverbs.
10. "Punishment" treats of the punishment of those disobedient to the Sanhedrin (Deut. xvii. 8-11).
On Holy Things:
1. "Sacrifices" treats of the nature and quality of the offerings; the time, the place, and the persons, by whom they ought to be killed, prepared, and offered.
2. "Meat Offerings" treats of the flour, oil, and wine, and the wave loaves.
3. "Unconsecrated Things" treats of what is clean and unclean, of not eating the sinew that shrank, and not killing the dam and her young in one day (Deut. xxii. 6).
4. "First Born" treats of their redemption by money, and their being offered in sacrifice; also of the tithes of all manner of cattle.
5. "Estimations" (Lev. xxvii. 2) treats of the way in which things devoted to the Lord are to be valued in order to be redeemed for ordinary use; also, how a priest is to value a field which a person has sanctified.
6. "Cutting Off" treats of offenders being cut off from the Lord.
7. "Exchanges" (Lev. xxvii. 10, 33) treats of the way exchanges are to be effected between sacred things.
8. "Trespass" (Num. v. 6, 8) treats of things partaking of the nature of sacrilege. It asserts that if a man take away a consecrated stone or beam he commits no trespass. If he give it to his companion he commits a trespass, but his companion commits none. If he build it into his house he commits no trespass till he lives in the house long enough to gain the value of a half-farthing. If he take away a consecrated half-farthing he commits no trespass. If he give it to his companion he commits a trespass, but his companion commits none. If he give it to a bath-keeper he commits a trespass though he does not bathe, because the bath-keeper says to him, "See, the bath is open, go in and bathe."
9. "The Daily Sacrifice" treats of the morning and evening offerings.
10. "The Measurements" treats of the measurements of the Temple.
11. "Birds' Nests" treats of the mistakes about doves and beasts brought into the Temple for sacrifice.
1. "Vessels" treats of those which convey uncleanness (Lev. xi. 33).
2. "Tents" (Num. xix. 14) treats of tents and houses retaining uncleanness, how persons who enter them become unclean, and how they are to be cleansed.
3. "Plagues of Leprosy" treats of leprosy of men, garments, or dwellings, how their pollution is conveyed, and how they are to be purified.
4. "The Red Heifer" directs how she is to be burned, and how her ashes are to be used in purifying.
5. "Purifications" teaches how purifications are to be effected.
6. "Pools of Water" (Num. xxxi. 23) treats of their construction, and the quantity of water necessary for cleansing.
7. "Separation" of women.
8. "Liquors" that dispose seeds and fruits to receive pollution (Lev. xi. 38).
9. "Issues" that cause pollution.
10. "Baptism" on the day of uncleanness (Lev. xxii. 6).
11. "Hands" treats of the washing of hands before eating bread, though dry fruits are allowed to be eaten without such washing.
12. "Stalks of Fruit which convey Uncleanness" treats of fruits growing out of the earth, which have a stalk and no husk. They can be polluted and can pollute, but may not be compounded with anything that was unclean before. If they have neither stalks nor husks they neither can be polluted nor can they pollute. It also treats of the hair and wool that grows on some fruits, and the beards of barley, etc.
From the six books or "Orders" the Jews call the Babylon Talmud by the pet name of "Shas" (six). The language in which it is written is Hebrew intermingled with Aramaic, Chaldee, Syriac, Arabic, Greek, and Latin words. The Gemara was first begun by Rabban Judah's two sons, Rabbi Gamaliel and Rabbi Simeon. It was vigorously carried on by Rabbi Ashe in Sura, a town on the Euphrates, from 365 A.D. to 425. He divided the Mishna into its sixty-three treatises, and every half-year summoned his disciples and assigned to them two fresh portions of the Law and two of the Mishna. At each meeting their remarks on these portions were discussed, and if approved were incorporated into the Gemara. Rabbis Zabid, Gebhia Rychuma, and Semo of Pumbedaitha;(2) and Rabbis Marimer, Adda bar Abbin, Nachman bar Huno, and Touspho, presidents of the schools of Sura, labored for its advancement; and it was finally completed by Rabbi Abino (Rabbina), and sealed by Rabbi Jose about 498 A.D. He was the last of the "Dictators." Those who lived after him were called "Opinionists," as they did not dictate any doctrines; but only deduced opinions from what had already been settled in the canon of the Talmud. The Opinionists were succeeded by the Sublime Doctors, who were in turn replaced by the ordinary Rabbis. In addition to the Talmud there has been handed down a vast amount of Jewish learning, such as the Bereitha, the Tosephtoth or appendices, the Mechilta or traditions unknown to Rabbi Judah the Holy, and the commentaries Sifra and Sifre. Of these the Jews regard the Bereitha as second to the Mishna. "The mark of Bereitha is 'the sages learned,' or 'it is once learned,' or 'it is learned in another one.' And everything which is not disputed of all these things is an established decision. And whatever is disputed goes according to the concluded decision. What is disputed in the Bereitha, which is not questioned in the Mishna, the decision is according to the Mishna. What is disputed in the Mishna, and not questioned in the Bereitha, is not to be decided according to the Bereitha. And thus it is said, 'If Rabbi Judah the Holy did not teach it, whence could Rabbi Chayya know it?' The exception is, that when the decision of Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, is given, it is regarded as equal to the Mishna. In 102 questions the decision is always with him."
The period during which both the Jerusalem and Babylon Talmuds were compiled was a season of comparative peace for the Jews. From the death of Rabbi Judah the Holy until Constantine ascended the throne the schools in Tiberias were unmolested. Judah was succeeded in the Patriarchate by Gamaliel; and he in turn gave way to Judah the second. Being inferior in learning to some of his own Rabbis, the splendor of his Patriarchate was eclipsed by the superior talents of Simon Ben Laches and Rabbi Jochanan. From that time the Patriarchate gradually sank in estimation, till the struggles for unlimited power, and the rapacity of the Rabbis, brought the office into contempt, and caused the Emperor Honorius in one of his laws to brand them as "Devastators." Still, with a loyal affection to the race of Israel, the Jews, wherever scattered in the West, looked to Tiberias as their Zion, and willingly taxed themselves for the support of its Rabbinical schools. The Jews in the East regarded the Prince of the Captivity or Patriarch of Babylon as their centre and chief. He rose to power between the abandonment of the Mesopotamian provinces by Hadrian and the rise of the Persian kingdom. He presided over his subjects with viceregal power and a splendid court. Rabbis were his satraps, and the wise and learned his officers and councillors. Wealth flowed in upon his people, who were engaged in every kind of commerce. One of his merchants in Babylon was said to have had 1,000 vessels on sea and 1,000 cities on shore. There was for a time a spirit of rivalry between the spiritual courts of Tiberias and Babylon.
On one occasion there was an open schism about the calculation of the Paschal feast. The struggle for supremacy took place when Simon, son of Gamaliel, who claimed descent from Aaron, was Patriarch of Tiberias, and Ahia, who claimed descent from King David, was Prince of the Captivity. His two most learned men were Hananiah, the rector of Nahar-pakod, and Judah, son of Bethuriah. To humble these men was the aim of Simon. Accordingly he sent two legates with three letters to Babylon. The first letter was given to Hananiah. It was addressed, "To your holiness." Flattered by the title, he politely asked the reason of their visit. "To learn your system of instruction." Still more gratified, he paid them every attention. Availing themselves of their advantage, the legates used every effort to undermine his teaching and lessen his authority. Hananiah, enraged by their conduct, summoned an assembly, and denounced their treachery. The people cried out, "That which thou hast built, thou canst not so soon pull down; the hedge which thou hast planted, thou canst not pluck up without injury to thyself." Hananiah demanded their objections to his teaching. They answered, "Thou hast dared to fix intercalations and new moons, by which nonconformity has arisen between Babylon and Palestine." "So did Rabbi Akiba," said Hananiah, "when in Babylon." "Akiba," they replied, "left not his like in Palestine." "Neither," cried Hananiah, "have I left my equal in Palestine." The legates then produced their second letter, in which it was written, "That which thou hast left a kid is grown up a strong horned goat." Hananiah was struck dumb. Rabbi Isaac, one of the legates, ran, and mounted the reading desk. "These," said he, calling them out aloud, "are the holy days of God, and these the holy days of Hananiah."
The people began to murmur. Rabbi Nathan, the second legate, arose, and read the verse of Isaiah, "Out of Zion shall go forth the Law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem." Then in a mocking voice, "Out of Babylon shall go forth the Law, and the Word of the Lord from Nahor-pakod." The congregation was in an uproar. "Alter not the word of God" was the universal shout. The legates then produced the third letter, threatening excommunication to all who would not obey their decrees. They further said, "The learned have sent us, and commanded us to say, if he will submit, well; if not, utter at once the Cherem.(3) Also set the choice before our brethren in foreign parts. If they will stand by us, well; if not, let them ascend their high places. Let Ahia build them an altar, and Hananiah (a Levite) sing at the sacrifice, and let them at once set themselves apart, and say, 'We have no portion in the God of Israel.' " From every side the cry arose, "Heaven preserve us from heresy; we have still a portion in the Israel of God." The authority of Tiberias was then recognized as supreme. But when Babylon was afterward politically severed from the Roman power in the West, and fell to the Persians, the Prince of the Captivity represented the Jews of the East as their independent head.
The canon of the Talmud was closed in a season of opulence and repose. This scene, however, speedily changed. Gloomy and dark days were followed by a storm of persecution from the Persian kings, Yesdigird and Firuz "the tyrant." When their schools were closed, the Jews clung more closely to the Talmud than before. Although never formally adopted by any general council, all orthodox Jews embraced it as supplying a want which they felt. And they have adhered to it through long and dreary centuries, despite the rack and fire of the Inquisitor, and the contempt and scorn of a hostile world. The Talmud has been periodically banned, and often publicly burned, from the age of the Emperor Justinian till the time of Pope Clement VIII. In the year 1569 the famous Jewish library in Cremona was plundered, and 12,000 copies of the Talmud and other Jewish writings were committed to the flames. The first to demand for it toleration and free inquiry was Reuchlin. He declared that he must oppose the destruction of "a book written by Christ's nearest relations." Before him, Haschim II, Caliph of Cordova in the close of the tenth century, had ordered it to be translated into Arabic. This was done by Rabbi Joseph, the son of Rabbi Moses, surnamed "clad in a sack," because he was thus meanly clad when his great talents were discovered.
The study of the Talmud has the most fascinating influence over the Jewish mind, and if the latter is to be comprehended, the teaching which moulds it must be clearly understood. "Everyone," say the Jews, "is bound to divide the time of his study into three parts—one-third is to be devoted to the written law, one-third to the Mishna, and one-third to Gemara." To understand it in accordance with the thirteen rules of interpretation, it takes a study of seven hours a day for seven years. They also say that it is lawful to rend a man ignorant of the Talmud "like a fish." Israelites are forbidden to marry the daughter of such a one, as "she is no better than a beast."
To obviate arguments furnished by its own statements against itself, its adherents make a distinction between its decisions, its directions, and its legendary or romance part,—a distinction fatal to its claim of equality with Holy Scripture. For this legendary part some of the ancient Rabbis had but little respect. Rabbi Joshua, son of Levi, says, "He who writes it down will have no part in the world to come; he who explains it will be scorched." Maimonides also says, "If one of the many foolish rabbis reads these histories and proverbs, he will find an explanation unnecessary, for to a fool everything is right, and he finds no difficulty anywhere. And if a really wise man reads them, there will be but two ways in which he will consider them. If he takes them in their literal sense and thinks them bad, he will say, This is foolishness, and in so doing he says nothing at all against the foundation of the faith." The School of Shammai, who lived before Christ, and the School of Hillel, who lived till eight(4) years after His birth, are brought forward as contradictory in their decisions. Like Christian leaders in later times, they strove to exceed each other in learning and pride. Hillel, called also the second Ezra, was born in Babylon. His thirst for learning drove him to Jerusalem. He was so poor he could not fee the porter of the college. So he used to listen at the window. One bitter winter's night he became insensible from cold, and the snow falling fast covered him up. The darkened window called the attention of those inside to his form without. He was then brought in, and soon restored to life. It is said that afterward "he had eighty scholars: thirty of them were fit that the divine glory should rest upon them, as it did upon Moses—thirty others were worthy that the sun should stand still for them, as it did for Joshua—and twenty were of a form between."
By a sort of legal fiction both schools are supposed to be of equal authority. A Bath Kol(5) or holy echo, supplying the place of departed Urim and Thummim, and of oracles long since silent, is related to have established it. "There came forth a divine voice at Jabneh and said, The words of the one and of the other are the words of the living God, but the certain determination of the thing is according to the School of Hillel, and whosoever transgresseth against the words of the School of Hillel deserves death." Both schools were Pharisees, but the School of Shammai was the straiter sect. Seven different shades of character have been attributed to the Pharisees of that age: there were those who served God from selfishness—those who did it gradually—those who avoided the sight of women—saints in office—those who asked you to name some duty which they ought to perform—those who were pious from fear of God—and those who were pious from love of Him. Popular opinion differed with regard to them. Some said, "If only two men be saved, one must be a Pharisee"; while others defined a Pharisee to be "one who wished to play the part of Zimri, and to claim the reward of Phinehas." The great opponents of the Pharisees were the Sadducees, who arose B.C. 300, and were followers of Baithos and Sadok. Their rivals on the other side were the Mehestanites, who returned from the Captivity versed in the doctrines of Zoroaster—in astrology, and in the influences of good and bad spirits. To these might be added the Misraimites, who studied the Kabbala, specially in reference to the forms of letters. The letter Koph, for example, has its curved part severed from its stem, and thus teaches that "the door of mercy is always open to the penitent." The numerical value of the letters of Messiah and Nachash (serpent) is the same, and this teaches that "the Messiah will overcome the Serpent."
The Kabbalists believed nothing but what they "received." Their teachers received from the prophets—the prophets received from angels—David from the Angel Michael, Moses from Metatron, Isaac from Raphael, Shem from Yophiel—and the angels themselves from God. The Metatron is the connecting link between the Divine Spirit and the world of matter. It resembles the Demiurgos of the Gnostics. It is the mystical expression for the Being that forms a union between God and nature, or, as the Zohar puts it, between the "King and the Queen." There were also the Essenes, who allegorized the Law; the Hellenists, who mixed it up with Greek philosophy; the Therapeutists, who thought supreme happiness to be meditation; the political Herodians; the Zealots; and other petty sects who formed the great mass of the people, and held either with or against the two great schools. The decisions of both schools are remarkable for their concise brevity. A phrase suggests many thoughts—a single word awakes a whole train of reasoning. A German writer has said of the Mishna, that "it is a firmament of telescopic stars, containing many a cluster of light, which no unaided eye has ever resolved." Some of its sayings are of touching beauty. Such are the words of Rabbi Tarphon, "The day is short—the labor vast;—but the laborers are slothful, though the reward is great, and the Master of the house presseth for despatch." Some of its sayings are extravagant—some are loathsome—and some are blasphemous. But mixed up as they are together, they form an extraordinary monument of "human industry, human wisdom, and human folly."
The Talmud contains a system of casuistry in reference to the doctrines of intention and legal uncleanness. It proportions responsibility to the amount of intention, and thereby hands over tender consciences to the control of the Rabbis. It proportions legal uncleanness to every degree of approach to the source, or, as it is called, "the father" of uncleanness; and this again renders necessary continual appeals to the decision of the Rabbis.
Predestination and free will are both taught. "Everything is in the hands of heaven, except the fear of heaven." "All things are ordained of God, but men's actions are their own." When men wish to sin they are enjoined to go to a place where they are unknown, and to clothe themselves in black so as not to dishonor God openly. Hereditary sin was denied by the early Kabbalists, but the later ones allow it. They believe that all souls were created in Adam, and therefore partake of his fall. Every kind of philosophy known at the time of its compilation is more or less introduced into the Talmud, and all more or less tinged with Magian superstition. From this superstition grew the mysticism of the Jewish schools. All the arts and sciences, under some form or other, are alluded to, and references to historical events abound in its pages. When it is dangerous to speak of them openly they are veiled under some figure known only to the initiated. Some observations seem to anticipate future discoveries. The Antipodes are hinted at. And the Jerusalem Gemara says that Alexander the Great was represented as carrying a ball in his hand because he believed the figure of the earth to be a sphere. Astronomy is fully discussed. The planets are "moving stars." Mercury is "the star"; Venus, "splendor"; Mars, "redness"; Jupiter, "rightness"; Saturn, "the Sabbath star." The signs of the Zodiac have the same names as are now used. The Galaxy is "the river of light." Comets are "burning arrows." And it is said that when a comet passes through Orion it will destroy the world. A certain Ishmaelite merchant is related to have invited Rabba to come and see where the heavens and the earth touched. Rabba took his bread basket and placed it on the window while he prayed. He afterward looked for it, but it was gone. He asked the Ishmaelite, "Are there thieves here?" "No," he replied, "but your basket has gone up in the revolving of the firmament. It will return if you wait till morning when the revolving of the firmament returns where it was before."
Astrology is treated as a science which governs the life of man. The stars make men wise. The stars make them rich. "A man born on the first day of the week will excel in only one quality. He that is born on the second day will be an angry man, because on that day the waters were divided. He that is born on the third day of the week will be rich and licentious, because on it the herbs were created. He that is born on the fourth day will be wise and of good memory, because on that day the lights were hung up. He that is born on the fifth day will be charitable, because on that day the fishes and fowls were created. He that is born on the Sabbath, on the Sabbath he also shall die, because on his account they profaned the great Sabbath day." Rabba bar Shila says, "He shall be eminently holy." Rabbi Chanina says, "The influence of the stars makes wise, the influence of the stars makes rich, and Israel is under the influence of the stars." Rabbi Jochanan says, "Israel is not under the influence of the stars. Whence is it proved? 'Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them' (Jer. x. 2). The heathen, but not Israel." "An eclipse of the sun is an evil sign to the nations of the world; an eclipse of the moon is an evil sign to Israel, for Israel reckons by the moon, the nations of the world by the sun." It is also said that Saturn and Mars are the baleful stars, and whosoever begins a work, or walks in the way, when either of these two is in the ascendant, will come to sorrow. Astrology naturally leads to amulets and charms. Amulets are divided into two classes, approved and disapproved. An approved amulet is "one that has cured three persons, or has been made by a man who has cured three persons with other amulets."
Charms are abundantly provided against accidents. "For bleeding of the nose let a man be brought to a priest named Levi, and let the name Levi be written backward. If there be not a priest, get a layman, who is to write backward 'Ana pipi Shila bar Sumki,' or 'Taam dli bemi ceseph, taam dli bemi pagam'; or let him take a root of grass, and the cord of an old bed, and paper, and saffron, and the red part of the inside of a palm tree, and let him burn them together, and let him take some wool, and twist two threads, and dip them in vinegar, and roll them in ashes, and put them into his nose; or let him look out for a stream of water which flows from east to west, and let him go and stand with one leg on each side of it, and let him take with his right hand some mud from under his left foot, and with his left hand from under his right foot, and let him twist two threads of wool, and dip them in the mud, and put them into his nose." If a man be bitten by a mad dog he must die, unless some remedy be found for him. "Abai says he must take the skin of a male adder, and write upon it, 'I, M, the son of the woman N, upon the skin of a male adder, write against thee, Kanti Kanti Klirus, but some say, Kandi Kandi Klurus, Lord of Hosts. Amen. Selah.' Let him also cast off his clothes, and bury them in a graveyard for twelve months of a year; then let him take them up, and burn them in a furnace, and let him strew the ashes at the parting of the roads. And during these twelve months let him only drink out of a brass tube, lest he see the phantom form of the demon, and he be endangered. This was done by Abba, the son of Martha—he is Abba, the son of Manjumi. His mother made him a tube of gold."
Magic naturally follows from such teaching. Abba Benjamin says, "If leave had been given to see the hurtful demons, no creature could stand before them." Abbai says, "They are more than we are, and stand against us, like the trench round a garden bed." Rav Huni says, "Everyone has a thousand on his left hand, and ten thousand on his right hand." Rabba says, "The want of room at the sermon is from them, the wearing out of the Rabbis' clothes is from their rubbing against them, bruised legs are from them." "Whosoever wishes to know their existence, let him take ashes passed through a sieve, and strew them in his bed, and in the morning he will see the marks of a cock's claws. Whosoever wishes to see them, let him take the inner covering of a black cat, the kitten of a first-born black cat, which is also the kitten of a first-born, and let him burn it in the fire, and powder it, and fill his eyes with it, and he will see them. And let him pour the powder into an iron tube, and seal it with an iron signet, lest they steal any of it, and let him seal the mouth of it, lest any harm ensue. Rav Bibi bar Abbai did thus, and he was harmed, but the Rabbis prayed for mercy, and he was healed." Arts of sorcery are attributed to the Rabbis. They are represented as having the power to create both men and melons. One of them is said to have changed a woman into an ass, and ridden the ass to market, when another sorcerer changed the ass again into a woman.
This sorcery is traced to Abraham, who is said (Gen. xxv. 6) to have given his sons gifts. These gifts are stated to have been the arts of sorcery. Legends abound everywhere throughout the Talmud. Rabbi Judah said, Rav said, "Everything that God created in the world, He created male and female. And thus he did with leviathan, the piercing serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent. He created them male and female; but if they had been joined together they would have desolated the whole world. What then did the Holy One do? He enervated the male leviathan, and slew the female, and salted her for the righteous in the time to come, for it is said, 'And He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea' (Isa. xxvii. 1). Likewise, with regard to behemoth upon a thousand mountains, He created them male and female; but if they had been joined together they would have desolated the whole world. What then did the Holy One do? He enervated the male behemoth, and made the female barren, and preserved her for the righteous in the time to come. That period is to be a season of great feasting. The liquor to be drunk will be apple-wine of more than seventy years old. The cup of David alone will hold one hundred and twenty-one logs. It is related that a Rabbi once saw in a desert a flock of geese so fat that their feathers fell off, and the rivers flowed in fat. He said to them, 'Shall we have part of you in the world to come?' One of them lifted up a wing and another a leg, to signify the parts we shall have. We should otherwise have had all parts of these geese, but that their sufferings are owing to us. It is our iniquities that have delayed the coming of the Messiah, and these geese suffer greatly by reason of their excessive fat, which daily increases, and will increase till the Messiah comes."
Rabba bar Chama says that he once saw "a bird so tall, that its head reached to the sky and its legs to the bottom of the ocean." The water in which it stood was so deep that a carpenter's axe which had fallen in seven years before had not then reached the bottom. He also saw "a frog as large as a village containing sixty houses." This frog was swallowed up by a serpent, and this serpent in turn by a crow; this crow flew, and perched upon a cedar, and this cedar was as broad as sixteen wagons abreast. There is also an account of a fish which was killed by a worm. This fish, when driven ashore, destroyed sixty cities, and sixty cities ate of it, and sixty cities salted it, and with its bones the ruined cities were rebuilt. Stories are also told of fishes with eyes like the moon, and of horned fishes three hundred miles in length. These stories are intended to confirm the text, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep" (Ps. cvii. 23, 24). To illustrate the statement of Amos (iii. 8), a story is told of a lion which one of the Caesars wished to see. At 400 miles distance he roared, and the walls of Rome fell. At 300 miles he again roared, and all the people fell on their backs, and their teeth fell out, and Caesar fell off his throne. Caesar then prayed for his removal to a safer distance.
The Talmud informs us that "a young unicorn, one day old, is as large as Mount Tabor." Consequently Noah had great difficulty in saving an old one alive. He could not get it into the ark, so he bound it by its horn to the side of the ark. At the same time Og, King of Bashan (being one of the antediluvians), was saved by riding on its back. We are further informed that he was one of the giants who came from the intermarriage of angels with the daughters of men. His footsteps were forty miles long, and one of his teeth served to make a couch for Abraham. When the Israelites came against him under the command of Moses, he inquired the size of their camp, and hearing that it was three miles in extent he tore up a mountain of that size, to hurl it upon them. Grasshoppers were, however, sent to bore holes in it, so that it fell over his head on to his neck. His teeth also grew and were entangled in the rocks, as the Psalmist says, "Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly" (Ps. iii. 7). He is also said to be identical with Eliezer the servant of Abraham, and to have been, like Enoch, translated to Paradise. This account, however, differs widely from the statements of the Jerusalem Targum on the Book of Numbers (xxi. 34).
The Talmud affirms that Adam was made from dust of all parts of the earth; and that he was created with two faces, as it is written, "Thou hast beset me behind and before" (Ps. cxxxix. 5). The Rabbis further state that he was formed in two parts, one male and one female. His height before his fall reached to the firmament, but after his fall God put his hand upon him, and compressed him small. In the tenth hour after he was made, he sinned; and in the twelfth he was driven out of Paradise. Abraham is said to have put Sarah into a box when he brought her into Egypt, that none should see her beauty. At the custom-house toll was demanded. Abraham said he was ready to pay. The custom-house officers said, "Thou bringest clothes." He said, "I will pay for clothes." They said, "Thou bringest gold." He said, "I will pay for gold." They said, "Thou bringest silk." He said, "I will pay for silk." They said, "Thou bringest pearls." He said, "I will pay for pearls." They said, "Thou must open the box," whereupon her splendor shone over the whole land of Egypt.
Abraham, it is also said, had a precious stone hung around his throat, on which when the sick looked they were healed. Some of the laws of Sodom are also recorded: "Whosoever cut off the ears of another's ass received the ass till his ears grew again." "Whosoever wounded another, the man wounded was obliged to pay him for letting his blood." When the judges of Sodom attempted to fine Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, because another man had wounded him, he took up a stone and flung it at the judge. He then bid the judge to pay the fine, which was now due to him for letting his blood, to the man who had first wounded him. There was a public bed in Sodom, and every stranger was obliged to lie in it. If his legs were too long for it, they were cut off; and if too short, they were racked out to the proper length. When a traveller came, each citizen, to show his hospitality, was obliged to give him a coin with his name written upon it. The traveller was then deprived of bread; and when he had died of starvation, the citizens came, and each one took back his own money. The Sodomites thus kept up their character for liberality.
At the giving of the Law the Israelites stood at the lower part of the mount (Exod. xix. 17). Rabbi Avidmi says, "these words teach us that the Holy One, blessed be He, turned the mountain over them like a tub, and said to them, 'If ye will receive the Law, well; but if not, there shall be your grave.' " Rabbi Joshua says, "As each commandment proceeded from the mouth of the Holy One, Israel retreated twelve miles, and the ministering angels led them back, as it is said, 'The angels of the host did flee apace'(6) (Ps. lxviii. 13). Do not read 'they fled' but 'they led.' " Rabbi Eliezer, the Modite, says, that Jethro "heard the giving of the Law; for when the Law was given to Israel His voice went from one end of the world to the other, and all the nations of the world were seized with trembling in their temples, and they repeated a hymn, as it is said, 'In His temple doth everyone speak of His glory' " (Ps. xxix. 9). The question is asked, "Why are the Gentiles defiled?" "Because they did not stand on Mount Sinai, for in the hour the serpent came to Eve he communicated defilement, which was removed from Israel when they stood on Mount Sinai." Rav Acha, the son of Rabbi, said to Rav Ashai, "How then is it with proselytes?" He answered, "Although they went not there, their lucky star was there, as it is written, 'With him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day' " (Deut. xxix. 15).
In the hour that Moses ascended up on high the ministering angels said before God, "O Lord of the world, what business has he that is born of woman amongst us?" He answered, "He is come to receive the Law." They replied, "This desirable treasure, which has been treasured up from the six days of creation, six hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created, dost Thou now wish to give it to flesh and blood? what is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visitest him? O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens." The Holy One said to Moses, "Return them an answer." He said, "O Lord of the world, I fear, lest they burn me with the breath of their mouth." God said, "Lay hold on the throne of my glory, and return them an answer; for it is said, 'He that holdeth the face of His throne, He spreadeth His cloud over him' " (Job xxvi. 9). Rabbi Nahum says, "This means that the Almighty spread some of the glory of the Shechinah and His cloud over him." He then said, "Lord of the world, what is written in the Law that Thou art about to give me?" "I am the Lord thy God, that brought thee out of Egypt." He then said, "Did ye (angels) ever go down into Egypt and serve Pharaoh? why then should ye have the Law?" Again, "What is written therein?" "Thou shalt have none other God." He then asked them, "Do ye then dwell among the uncircumcised, that ye should commit idolatry?" Again, "What is written?" "Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it." "Do ye then do any work so as to need rest?" Again, "What is written?" "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." "Have ye then any work that would lead to this sin?" Again, "What is written?" "Honor thy father and mother." "Have ye then got any father or mother?" Again, "What is written?" "Thou shalt do no murder." "Thou shalt not commit adultery." "Thou shalt not steal." "Have ye then envy or the principle of evil amongst you?" Immediately they praised the Holy One, "Blessed be He."
Wonderful stories are told of the manna. The manna is said to have fallen from heaven, accompanied by showers of pearls and precious stones. It tasted to everyone according to his desire. If one wished for fat fowl, so it tasted. If another other wished for honey, so it tasted, as it is written, "Thou hast lacked nothing" (Deut. xi. 7). The Targum of Jonathan goes on to inform us, "At the fourth hour, when the sun had waxed hot upon it, it melted and became streams of water, which flowed away into the great sea, and wild animals that were clean, and cattle, came to drink of it, and the children of Israel hunted and ate them" (Exod. xvi. 21). It is further related that the Queen of Sheba (whom the Rabbis labor to prove to have been the King of Sheba) wished to test the knowledge of Solomon who had written on botany "from the cedar to the hyssop." She once stood at a distance from him with two exquisite wreaths of flowers—one artificial, one natural. They were so much alike that the King looked perplexed, and the courtiers looked melancholy. Observing a swarm of bees on the window, he commanded it to be opened. All the bees lighted on the natural and not one on the artificial wreath. Solomon is also said to have sent Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, to bind Aschmedai, the king of the devils. After deceiving the devil with wine he made him reveal the secret of the Schamir, or little worm, which can cleave the hardest stone. And by the aid of this worm Solomon built the Temple. The devil afterward asked Solomon for his signet ring, and when he had given it to him the devil stretched one wing up to the firmament and the other to the earth, and jerked Solomon four hundred miles away. Then assuming the aspect of Solomon, he seated himself on his throne. After Solomon had again obtained it, he wrote, "What profit hath a man of all his labor which he taketh under the sun?" (Eccles. i. 3).
A story is told of Nebuzaradan, that he saw the blood of Zecharias bubbling in the court of the priests. When he asked what it meant, he was informed that it was the blood of bullocks and lambs. When he had ordered bullocks and lambs to be slain, the blood of Zecharias still bubbled and reeked above theirs. The priests then confessed that it was the blood of a priest and prophet and judge, whom they had slain. He then commanded eighty thousand priests to be put to death. The blood, however, still continued to bubble. God then said, "Is this man, who is but flesh and blood, filled with pity toward my children, and shall not I be much more?" So he gave a sign to the blood, and it was swallowed up in the place. Of the eighty thousand priests slain none was left but Joshua the son of Jozedek, of whom it is written, "Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" (Zech. iii. 2). Of Titus it is said that he was unclean in the Temple, and with a blow of his sword rent the veil, which flowed with blood. To punish him a gnat was sent into his brain, which grew as large as a dove. When his skull was opened, the gnat was found to have a mouth of copper, and claws of iron.
The Talmud teaches that evil spirits, devils, and goblins are the offspring of Adam. They are said to fly about in all directions. They know from eavesdropping what is to come in the future. Like men, they eat, drink, and multiply. They are represented as playing men awkward tricks. One is stated to have broken a vessel of wine, and to have spilled it on the ground. The Rabbis, however, afterward compelled him to pay for it. People are forbidden to ride oxen fresh from the stall, as Satan dances between their horns. Men are forbidden to salute their companions by night, lest they may turn out to be devils. It is also commanded to shake out, before drinking, some water from the vessel, to get rid of what is sipped by the evil spirits. It is, however, permitted to consult Satan on week-days. He is considered identical with the Angel of Death. But he is described as having no power over those engaged in reading the law. Many of his devices are related in the Talmud, whereby he made learned men leave off reading, and then he snatched away their souls. A story is told of the attempt of Rabbi Joshua, the son of Levi, and Satan to deceive each other about the Rabbi's place in paradise. Finally, however, Satan managed to take away his life, whereupon the voice of Elijah is heard shouting in heaven, "Make room for the son of Levi,"—"Make room for the son of Levi." The Angel of Death is represented as standing at the head of the dying man. He has a drawn sword in his hand, on which is a drop of gall. When the dying man sees it, he shudders and opens his mouth. The Angel of Death then lets it fall into his mouth. The sick man dies, corrupts, and becomes pale. Three days the soul flies about the body, thinking to return to it, but after it sees the appearance of the face changed, it leaves it and goes away.
Rabbi Isaac moreover asserts, that a worm in a dead body is as painful as a needle in a living one. The Talmud still further states that there are three voices continually heard—the voice of the sun as he rolls in his orbit—the voice of the multitudes of Rome—and the voice of the soul as it leaves the body. The Rabbis, however, prayed for mercy on the soul, and this voice has ceased. Instances are also given of men overhearing the conversations of the dead, and receiving profit from them. A man is said to have heard one girl tell another in the grave, that those who sowed their crops at a particular time would find their harvests fail. So he took care to sow at another time, and he had an abundant yield. It is also said that every Friday evening a second soul enters into the bodies of men, and that it remains to the end of the Sabbath, when it departs. The evidence of this second soul is shown by an increased appetite for eating and drinking.
Good angels are stated to be daily created out of the stream of glory which flows from the throne of God, and they sing a new song, and vanish; as it is said, "They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness" (Lam. iii. 23). The Rabbis also say that angels are created out of every word which proceeds from the mouth of God; as it is said, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth" (Ps. xxxiii. 6). The following story is also told: In the hour when Nimrod, the impious, cast Abraham into the midst of the fiery furnace, Gabriel said before the blessed God, "Lord of the world, I will go down and cool the flame, and deliver the righteous One from the furnace of fire." The blessed God said to him, "I am the ONE in this world, and he is the one in his world. It becomes the ONE to deliver the one." But as the blessed God deprives no one of his reward, He said, "Thou shalt be deemed worthy to deliver three of his posterity." Rabbi Simon, the Shilonite, taught, "In the hour that Nebuchadnezzar, the impious, cast Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah into the midst of the fiery furnace, Jorkemo, the prince of hail, stood up before the blessed God, and said, 'I will go down and cool the flame, and deliver the righteous ones from the furnace of fire.' To him said Gabriel, 'The power of the blessed One is not so, since thou art the prince of hail, and everyone knows that waters quench fire; but I, the prince of fire, will go down and cool inwardly, and heat outwardly, and I will make a wonder within a wonder.' " To him said the blessed God, "Go down." In the same hour Gabriel began and said, "And the truth of the Lord endureth for ever" (Ps. cxvii. 2).
Israelites are forbidden to pray in the Syriac language, as the angels do not understand it, and consequently cannot carry their petitions to God. Gabriel, however, is acquainted with it, as he taught Joseph the seventy languages. The chief of all the angels is said to be the Metatron, who once received fiery blows from another angel called Ampiel. With regard to heaven, the Rabbis teach that Egypt is four hundred miles long and broad, the Morians' land is sixty times larger than Egypt, and the world is sixty times larger than the Morians' land; heaven is sixty times larger than the world, and hell is sixty times larger than heaven. It follows that the "whole world is but a pot-lid to hell." Yet some say that hell is immeasurable, and some say heaven is immeasurable. It was a pearl amongst the sayings of a Rabbi. "Heaven is not like this world, for in it there is neither eating, nor drinking, nor marriage, nor increasing, nor trafficking, nor hate, nor envy, nor heart-burnings; but the just shall sit with their crowns on their heads, and enjoy the splendors of the Shechinah."
Hell is said to have three doors,—one in the wilderness, one in the sea, and one in Jerusalem. In the wilderness, as it is written, "They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive into the pit" (Num. xvi. 33). In the sea, as it is written, "Out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice" (Jonah ii. 3). In Jerusalem, as it is written, "Saith the Lord whose fire is in Zion, and His furnace in Jerusalem" (Is. xxxi. 9). The school of Rabbi Ishmael teaches that the "fire in Zion" is hell and "His furnace in Jerusalem" is the gate of hell. It is also taught that the fire of hell has no power over the sinners in Israel, and that the fire of hell has no power over the disciples of the wise. It is again, however, stated that the Israelites who sin with their bodies, and the Gentiles who sin with their bodies, go to hell, and are punished there twelve months. After their body is wasted, and their soul is burned, the wind scatters them beneath the soles of the righteous, as it is said, "And ye shall tread down the wicked: for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet" (Mal. iv. 3). Heretics—deniers of the resurrection—Epicureans, and other sinners, shall be perpetually tormented "where their worm dieth not and their fire is not quenched."
The doctrine of the resurrection is clearly taught in the Talmud. As for the last judgment, the following story is told: "Said Antoninus to Rabbi, The body and soul can free themselves from judgment. How? The body can say, The soul sinned from the time it separated from me, while I lay as a stone in the grave. And the soul can say, The body sinned from the time it separated from me, while I flew in the air as a bird." He replied, "I will give you an example to which it is like. It is like a king of flesh and blood, who has a beautiful garden, and in which are pleasant fruits, and he placed two watchmen therein, of whom one was lame and the other was blind. Said the lame to the blind, 'I see pleasant fruits in the garden; come, and let me sit upon thee, and let us go and eat.' " The lame sat upon the blind, and they went and ate. After some days the lord of the garden came, and said, "Where are my pleasant fruits?" The lame said, "I have no legs to go to them." The blind said, "I have no eyes to see them." What did he do? He set the lame upon the blind, and judged them as one. So the blessed God will return the soul into the body, and judge them as one, as it is said, "He shall call to the heavens from above and to the earth, that he may judge his people" (Ps. iv. 4). He shall call to the heavens from above, that is the soul; and to the earth that he may judge his people, that is, the body. After the resurrection men will live without work or weariness of body, their houses shall be of precious stones, and their beds of silk, and the rivers shall run with wine and perfumed oil.
The Talmud often contradicts Holy Scripture. It says that they are in error who believe the Bible account of the sons of Reuben, of the sons of Eli, and of the sons of Samuel. It allows usury, and the passing of children through the fire to Moloch. It permits deceit, and supports it with the text, "With the pure thou wilt show thyself pure, and with the froward thou wilt show thyself unsavory" (2 Sam. xxii. 27). The Rabbis teach hatred of Christians and Gentiles. Instead of saying, "In the presence of the king," they are taught to say, "In the presence of the dog." A Jew who bears witness against another Jew before a Gentile is publicly cursed. A Jew is also released from any oath he may swear to a Gentile. It is only permitted a Jewish physician to heal Gentiles for the sake of the fee, or for the practice of medicine, but it is not allowed to save their lives in seasons of danger. Their marriage is no marriage; and their butchers' meat is only carrion. It is wrong to invite them into a Jewish house; and it is not needful to restore what they have lost. When the ox of a Jew gores the ox of a Gentile, the Jew is free; but if the ox of a Gentile gores the ox of a Jew, the Gentile must pay the full cost. A story is told of a Rabbi who sold a number of palm-trees to a Gentile, and afterward ordered his servant to cut off some pieces from them. "For," he said, "the Gentile knows their number, but he does not know whether they be thick or thin."
The precepts binding on the sons of Noah are stated to be seven: to do justice; to bless the name of God; to avoid idolatry; to flee from fornication and adultery; to abstain from blood-shedding; not to rob; and not to eat a member of a living animal. An account is given of the river Sambation, which flows with stones all the six days of the week, but rests on the Sabbath day. Examples are also furnished of gluttony and drunkenness. The paunches of some Rabbis grew so big, that, when put together, a pair of oxen might go between them. A story is also related of one Rabbi killing another in a drunken fit, and then working a miracle which restored him to life. In the following year he again invited the Rabbi to drink with him, but he declined, on the ground that "miracles are not wrought every day." Instances are also given of the anguish of Rabbis in the prospect of death. They express themselves as being without hope of salvation, and as having the fear of hell before them.
Proverbs everywhere abound in the Talmud, and they are generally replete with shrewd observation. "The world subsists through the breath of school children. Whosoever transgresses the words of the Scribes is guilty of death. Whosoever teaches a statute before his teachers ought to be bitten by a serpent. There is no likeness between him who has bread in his basket and him who has none. Rather be the head of foxes than the tail of lions." This, however, again appears as "Rather be the tail of lions than the head of foxes." "The righteous in the city is its splendor, its profit, its glory: when he is departed, there is also departed the splendor, the profit, and the glory." "Licentiousness in a house is as a worm in a pumpkin." This reappears as "Violence in a house is as a worm in a pumpkin." "Thy friend has an acquaintance, and the acquaintance of thy friend has also an acquaintance; be discreet." The unworthy child of a good father is called "vinegar, the son of wine." "If the opportunity fails the thief, he deems himself honest. The cock and owl await together the morning dawn. Says the cock to the owl, 'Light profits me, but how does it profit thee?' Youth is a crown of roses, old age a crown of thorns. Many preach well, but do not practise well. It is the punishment of liars, that men don't listen to them when they speak truth. Every man who is proud is an idolater. To slander is to murder. Whosoever humbles himself, God exalts him; whosoever exalts himself, God humbles him. Men see every leprosy except their own. He who daily looks after his property finds a coin. The post does not honor the man; but the man the post. Every man is not so lucky as to have two tables. Not what thou sayest about thyself, but what thy companions say. The whole and broken tables of the Law lie in the ark. The salt of money is almsgiving. He who walks four cubits in the land of Israel is sure of being a child of the world to come. The plague lasted seven years, and no man died before his time. Let the drunkard only go, he will fall of himself. Be rather the one cursed than the one cursing. The world is like an inn, but the world to come is the real home. The child loves its mother more than its father: it fears its father more than its mother. Repent one day before thy death. If your God is a friend of the poor, why does He not support them? A wise man answered, 'Their case is left in our hands, that we may thereby acquire merits and forgiveness of sin.' The house that does not open to the poor shall open to the physician. He who visits the sick takes away one-sixtieth part of their pain. Descend a step in choosing a wife; mount a step in choosing a friend. An old woman in a house is a treasure. Whosoever does not persecute them that persecute him, whosoever takes an offence in silence, whosoever does good from love, whosoever is cheerful under his sufferings, they are friends of God, and of them says the Scripture, 'they shall shine forth as the sun at noonday.' " R. Phineas, son of Jair, said, "Industry brings purity—purity, cleanness—cleanness, holiness—holiness, humbleness—humbleness, fear of sin—and fear of sin, partaking of the Holy Ghost."
Ideas of God are gathered from the occupations which the authors of the Talmud assign to him. "The day contains twelve hours. The first three hours the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and studies the Law. The second three hours He sits and judges the whole world. When He sees that the world deserves destruction, He stands up from the throne of judgment, and sits on the throne of mercy. The third three hours He sits and feeds all the world, from the horns of the unicorns to the eggs of the vermin. In the fourth three hours He sits and plays with leviathan, for it is said, 'The leviathan, whom thou hast formed to play therein' " (Ps. civ. 26). Rabbi Eliezer says, "The night has three watches, and at every watch the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and roars like a lion; for it is said, 'The Lord shall roar from on high and utter His voice from His holy habitation; He shall mightily roar upon His habitation' " (Jer. xxv. 30). Rabbi Isaac, the son of Samuel, says in the name of Rav, "The night has three watches, and at every watch the Holy One, blessed be He, sits and roars like a lion, and says, 'Woe is me, that I have laid desolate my house, and burned my sanctuary, and sent my children into captivity among the nations of the world!' " He is described as praying, and wearing phylacteries, and as having a special place for weeping. "Before the destruction of the Temple the Holy One played with leviathan, but since the destruction of the Temple, He plays with it no more. In the hour that the Holy One remembers His children who are dwelling with suffering among the nations, He lets two tears fall into the Great Ocean, the noise of which is heard from one end of the world to the other, and this is an earthquake." It is further said that He "braided the hair of Eve," and "shaved the head of Sennacherib." He is represented as keeping school, and teaching the sages. To this school the devils come, especially Aschmedai, the king of the devils. In the discussions that take place, God is said to be sometimes overcome by the wiser Rabbis.
The question of the Messiah is often brought forward. "The tradition of the school of Elijah is, that the world is to stand six thousand years, two thousand years confusion, two thousand years the Law, and two thousand years the days of the Messiah." It is further said that the time for the coming of the Messiah is expired. "Rav says the appointed times are long since past." The Jerusalem Talmud relates that "it happened once to a Jew, who was standing ploughing, that his ox lowed before him. An Arab was passing, and heard its voice. He said 'O Jew! O Jew! unyoke thine ox, and loose thy ploughshare, for the Temple is desolate.' It lowed a second time, and he said, 'O Jew! O Jew! yoke thine ox and bind thy ploughshare, for King Messiah is born.' The Jew said, 'What is His name?' He answered 'Menachem.' He asked again, 'What is His father's name?' He said, 'Hezekiah.' He asked, 'From whence is He?' He replied, 'From the royal palace of Bethlehem Judah.' The Jew then went and saw him; but when he went again, the mother told him 'that the winds had borne the child away.' " The Babylon Talmud further states that "Rabbi Joshua, the son of Levi, found Elijah standing at the door of the cave of Rabbi Simeon ben Yochai, and said to him, 'Shall I reach the world to come?' He answered, 'If the Lord will.' Rabbi Joshua, the son of Levi, said, 'I see two, but I hear the voice of three.' He also asked, 'When will Messiah come?' Elijah answered, 'Go and ask Himself.' Rabbi Joshua then said, 'Where does he sit?' 'At the gate of Rome.' 'And how is he known?' 'He is sitting among the poor and sick, and they open their wounds, and bind them up again all at once: but he opens only one, and then he opens another, for he thinks, Perhaps I may be wanted, and then I must not be delayed.' Rabbi Joshua went to him, and said, 'Peace be upon thee, my Master, and my Lord.' He answered, 'Peace be upon thee, son of Levi.' The Rabbi then asked him, 'When will my Lord come?' He answered, 'To-day' " (Ps. xcv. 7). It is said that "the bones of those who reckon the appointed time of the Messiah must burst asunder." Again, however, it is said that "Elias told Rabbi Judah, the brother of the pious Rabbi Salah, that the world would not stand less than eighty-five years of Jubilee, and in the last year of Jubilee the son of David will come." It is further stated that there are first to be the wars of the Dragon, and of Gog and Magog; and that God will not renew the earth until seven thousand years are completed. The Rabbis also say that when the Messiah comes to fulfil the prophecy of riding upon an ass (Zech. ix. 9), the ass shall be one of "an hundred colors." As for the return of the ten tribes to their own land, the Talmud in some places asserts it, and in some places denies it. But it is said that in the days of the Messiah all the Gentiles shall become proselytes to the Jewish faith. The Rabbis are divided as to the continuance of the Messiah; some say forty years, some seventy years, some three generations, and some say that He will continue as long as from the creation of the world or the time of Noah "up to the present time." Others say that the kingdom of the Messiah will endure for thousands of years, as "when there is a good government it is not quickly dissolved." It is also said that He shall die, and His kingdom descend to His son and grandson. In proof of this opinion Isaiah xlii. 4 is quoted: "He shall not fail, nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth." The lives of men will be prolonged for centuries: "He will swallow up death in victory" (Is. xxv. 8); and "the child shall die an hundred years old" (Is. lxv. 20). The Talmud applies the former verse to Israel, the latter verse to the Gentiles. The men of that time will be two hundred ells high. This is said to be proved by the word "upright" (Lev. xxvi. 13), "upright" being applied to the supposed height of man before the fall. "Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun; and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days" (Is. xxx. 26). The land of Israel will produce cakes and clothes of the finest wool. The wheat will grow on Lebanon as high as palm-trees; and a wind will be sent from God to reduce it to fine flour for the support of those who gather it; as it is said "with the fat of kidneys of wheat" (Deut. xxxii. 14). Each kidney will be as large as "the kidneys of the fattest oxen." To prove that this is nothing wonderful, an account is given of a rape seed in which a fox once brought forth young. These young ones were weighed, and found to be as heavy as sixty pounds of Cyprus weight. Lest these statements should be thought a contradiction of the verse "There is no new thing under the sun" (Eccles. i. 9), the Rabbis say that it is just like the growth of mushrooms, toadstools, and the delicate mosses on the branches of trees. Grapes will also grow most luxuriantly; and in every cluster there will be thirty jars of wine. Jerusalem will be built three miles high; as it is written, "It shall be lifted up" (Zech. xiv. 10). The gates of the city will be made of pearls and precious stones, thirty ells high and thirty ells broad. A disciple of the Rabbis once doubted whether precious stones could be found so large; and shortly afterward, he saw an angel with similar stones, as he was out at sea. On his return to land he related what he had seen to Rabbi Jochanan. Whereupon the Rabbi said, "Thou fool, if thou hadst not seen, thou hadst not believed; thou mockest the words of the wise." He then "lifted up his eyes upon him, and he was made an heap of bones."
Said R. Samuel, the son of Nachman, R. Jochanan said, "Three shall be called by the name of the Holy One; blessed be He." And these are the Righteous, the Messiah, and Jerusalem. The Righteous, as is said (Is. xliii. 7). The Messiah, as it is written (Jer. xxiii. 6): "And this is His name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS." Jerusalem, as it is written (Ezek. xlviii. 35): "It was round about eighteen thousand measures: and the name of the city from that day shall be The LORD is THERE."
In the later editions of the Talmud the allusions to Christ and Christianity are few and cautious, compared with the earlier or unexpurgated copies. The last of these was published at Amsterdam in 1645. In them our Lord and Saviour is "that one," "such an one," "a fool," "the leper," "the deceiver of Israel," etc. Efforts are made to prove that He is the son of Joseph Pandira before his marriage with Mary. His miracles are attributed to sorcery, the secret of which He brought in a slit in His flesh out of Egypt. His teacher is said to have been Joshua, the son of Perachiah. This Joshua is said to have afterward excommunicated him to the blast of 400 rams' horns, though he must have lived seventy years before His time. Forty days before the death of Jesus a witness was summoned by public proclamation to attest His innocence, but none appeared. He is said to have been first stoned, and then hanged on the eve of the Passover. His disciples are called heretics, and opprobrious names. They are accused of immoral practices; and the New Testament is called a sinful book. The references to these subjects manifest the most bitter aversion and hatred.