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Part 1 - Chapter 3 - Note 20


The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.   The Hebrew word "min" sometimes refers to the Nazarene's (the sect of Judaism that believes in Yeshua as Messiah), but in this case it appears to refer to a heathen.


Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 91a

Thereupon his [the emperor's] daughter said to him [the Rabbi]: ‘Let me answer him: In our town there are two potters; one fashions [his products] from water, and the other from clay: who is the more praiseworthy?’ ‘He who fashions them from water, he replied.1 ‘If he can fashion [man] from water,2 surely he can do so from clay!’3

    The School of R. Ishmael taught: It can be deduced from glassware: if glassware, which, though made by the breath of human beings,4 can yet be repaired when broken;5 then how much more so man, created by the breath of the Holy One, blessed be He.

    A sectarian [min]6 said to R. Ammi: ‘Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?’ — He replied: I will tell thee a parable. This may be compared to a human king who commanded his servants to build him a great palace in a place where there was no water or earth [for making bricks]. So they went and built it. But after some time it collapsed, so he commanded them to rebuild it in a place where water and earth was to be found; but they replied, ‘We cannot’. Thereupon he became angry with them and said, ‘If ye could build in a place containing no water or earth, surely ye can where there is!’7 ‘Yet,’ [continued R. Ammi], ‘If thou dost not believe, go forth in to the field and see a mouse, which to-day is but part flesh and part dust,8 and yet by to-morrow has developed and become all flesh. And shouldst thou say, ‘That takes a long time,’9 go up to the mountains, where thou wilt see but one snail, whilst by to-morrow the rain has descended and it is covered with snails.’10

    A sectarian [min] said to Gebiha b. Pesisa, ‘Woe to you, ye wicked, who maintain that the dead will revive; if even the living die, shall the dead live!’ He replied, ‘Woe to you, ye wicked, who maintain that the dead will not revive: if what was not,[now] lives, — surely what has lived, will live again!’ ‘Thou hast called me wicked,’ said he, ‘If I stood up I could kick thee and strip thee of thy hump!11 ‘If thou couldst do that,’ he retorted, ‘thou wouldst be called a great doctor, and command large fees.’

    Our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fourth of Nisan12 the revenue farmers13 were removed from Judah and Jerusalem. For when the Africans14 came to plead against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon, they said, ‘Canaan belongs to us, as it is written, The land of Canaan with the coasts thereof;15 and Canaan was the ancestor of these people [i.e., ourselves].’ Thereupon Gebiha b. Pesisa16 said to the Sages, ‘Authorise me to go and plead against them before Alexander of Macedon: should they defeat me, then say, "ye have defeated but an ignorant man of us;" whilst if I defeat them, then say to them thus: "The Law of Moses has defeated you." ‘So they authorised him, and he went and pleaded against them. ‘Whence do ye adduce your proof?’ asked he. ‘From the Torah,’ they replied. ‘I too,’ said he, ‘will bring you proof only from the Torah, for it is written, And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.17 Now if a slave acquires property, to whom does he belong, and whose is the property?18 Moreover, it is now many years that ye have not served us.’19 Then Alexander said to them, ‘Answer him!’ ‘Give us three days’ time,’ they pleaded. So he gave them a respite; they sought but found no answer. Immediately thereon they fled, leaving behind their sown fields and their planted vineyards. And that year was a Sabbatical year.

    On another occasion the Egyptians came in a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon. They pleaded thus: ‘Is it not written, And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, and they lent them [gold and precious stones, etc.]20 Then return us the gold and silver which ye took!’ Thereupon Gebiha b. Pesisa said to the Sages, ‘Give me permission to go and plead against them before Alexander of Macedon: should they defeat me, then say, "Ye have merely defeated an ignorant man amongst us;" whilst if I defeat them then say, "The Law of Moses has defeated you."’ So they gave him permission, and he went and pleaded against them. ‘Whence do ye adduce your proof?’ asked he, ‘From the Torah,’ they replied. ‘Then I too,’ said he, ‘will bring you proof only from the Torah, for it is written, Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.21 Pay us for the toil of six hundred thousand men whom ye enslaved for four hundred thirty years.’ Then King Alexander said to them, ‘Answer him!’ ‘Give us three days’ time,’ they begged. So he gave them a respite; they sought but found no answer. Straightway they fled, leaving behind their sown fields and planted vineyards. And that year was a Sabbatical year.22

    On another occasion the Ishmaelites and the Ketureans23 came for a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon. They pleaded thus: ‘Canaan belongs jointly to all of us, for it is written,, Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son;24 and it is [further] written, And these are the generations of Isaac,’ Abraham's son.’25 Thereupon Gebiha b. Pesisa said to the Sages: ‘Give me permission to go and plead against them before Alexander of Macedon. Should they defeat me then say, "Ye have defeated one of our ignorant men; whilst if I defeat them, say, "The Law of Moses has defeated you."’ So they gave him permission, and he went and pleaded against them. ‘Whence do ye adduce your proof?’ asked he. ‘From the Torah,’ they replied. ‘Then I too,’ said he, ‘will bring you proof only from the Torah, for it is written, And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts:26 if a father made a bequest to his children in his lifetime and sent them away from each other, has one any claim upon the other? [Obviously not.]’

    What gifts [did he give them]? — R. Jeremiah b. Abba said: This teaches that he imparted to them [the secrets of] the unhallowed arts.27

    Antoninus28 said to Rabbi: ‘The body and the soul can both free themselves from judgment. Thus, the body can plead: The soul has sinned, [the proof being] that from the day it left me I lie like a dumb stone in the grave [powerless to do aught]. Whilst the soul can say: The body has sinned, [the proof being] that from the day I departed from it I fly about in the air like a bird [and commit no sin].’ He replied, ‘I will tell thee a parable. To what may this be compared? To a human king who owned a beautiful orchard which contained

Talmud - Mas. Sanhedrin 91b

splendid figs. Now, he appointed two watchmen therein, one lame and the other blind. [One day] the lame man said to the blind, "I see beautiful figs in the orchard. Come and take me upon thy shoulder, that we may procure and eat them." So the lame bestrode the blind, procured and ate them. Some time after, the owner of the orchard came and inquired of them, "Where are those beautiful figs?" The lame man replied, "Have I then feet to walk with?" The blind man replied, "Have I then eyes to see with?" What did he do? He placed the lame upon the blind and judged them together. So will the Holy One, blessed be He, bring the soul, [re]place it in the body, and judge them together, as it is written, He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people: He shall call to the heavens from above-this refers to the soul; and to the earth, that he may judge his people-to the body.’
____________________
(1) This being far more difficult.
(2) Vis:., the sperm.
(3) I.e., the dust into which the dead are turned.
(4) A reference to the blowing of glass.
(5) By being melted down again.
(6) V. Herford, op. cit. p. 281. In R. Ammi's time (end of the third and beginning of the fourth centuries) there was no class of heretic which denied resurrection. The Sadducees no longer existed, whilst the Gnostics did not deny it. Herford therefore suggests that R. Ammi's opponent was really a heathen.
(7) Thus if God can make man without these, surely He will be able to resuscitate their dust.
(8) l.e., only partly formed, it being believed that there is a species of mice developing from the earth. Maim. on Hullin IX, 6 states that many people have claimed to have seen a mouse, part earth and part clay.
(9) Whereas resurrection must happen in a moment.
(10) Thus proving that God can create life with great speed.
(11) He was hunchbacked.
(12) The first month of the Jewish calendar.
(13) [
htbxunhs ** = publican; Graetz, Geschichte, III, 2, pp. 573-4. connects this celebration with the defeat and retreat of Florus from Jerusalem, when the people ceased to pay tribute to Caesar (v. Josephus, Wars, II, 16, 5). For other views, v. HUCA, VII-VIII, 302ff.]
(14) The Phoenicians, the descendants of Ham through Canaan (v. Gen. X, 15) and who ruled over a large part of N. Africa (Carthage).
(15) Num. XXXIV, 2.
(16) [A legendary character traditionally contemporary with Alexander the Great.]
(17) Gen. IX, 25.
(18) Obviously to his owner. Therefore, even if the land was given to the Canaanites, it belongs to their masters, the Jews, descendants of Shem.
(19) So that you owe us your toil too for all that time.
(20) Ex. XII, 36.
(21) Ibid. 40.
(22) [On the dispute between the Egyptians and Jews, v. Levi, REJ. LXIII, 211ff.l
(23) V. Gen. XXV, 1-4.
(24) Ibid. 12.
(25) Ibid. 19. Hence, both being sons of Abraham, they had equal claims upon the land. For the same reason the Ketureans too made a claim.
(26) Ibid. 5f.
(27) I.e., the knowledge of sorcery, demons, etc.
(28) Antoninus has been variously identified: with Marcus Aurelius (Rapport); Severus (Graetz, who, however, assumes that it was the second R. Judah the Prince who was the friend of Antoninus); Caracalla (Jast. and N. Krochmal), and others; v. ‘A. Z. 10a, and J. E. I, 656.


R. Simeon was one day in the course of his studies examining the verse, “And the elders of that city shall take a heifer of the herd... and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley” (Deut. XXI, 3-4). ‘According to the law,’ he said, ‘the neck must be broken with a hatchet.’ Said to him R. Eleazar: ‘What is the need of all this?’ R. Simeon then wept and said: ‘Woe to the world which has been lured after this one. For from the day that the evil

Soncino Zohar, Bereshith, Section 1, Page 114a

serpent, having enticed Adam, obtained dominion over man and over the world, he has ever been at work seducing people from the right path, nor will the world cease to suffer from his machinations until the Messiah shall come, when the Holy One will raise to life those who sleep in the dust in accordance with the verse, “He will swallow up death for ever, etc.” (Is. XXV, 8), and the verse, “And I will cause the unclean spirit to pass out of the land” (Zech. XIII, 2). Meanwhile Satan dominates this world and snatches up the souls of the sons of men. Observe now the passage: “If one be found slain in the land, etc.” (Deut. XXI, 1-9). Ordinarily it is through the angel of death that the souls of men pass out of their bodies, but with that man it was not so, but he that slew him made his soul depart from him before the time came for the angel of death to gather him in. Hence it is written: “And no expiation can be made for the land for the blood that is shed therein, but by the blood of him that shed it” (Num. XXXV, 33). Is it not enough for the world that Satan should be continually on the watch to lead men astray and to formulate accusations against them, that one must needs increase his fury by depriving him of what is his due? But the Holy One is merciful towards His children, and so provided the offering of a calf as reparation for the soul of which Satan was deprived and as a means of pacifying the world's accuser. Herein is involved a deep mystery. The offerings of the ox, the cow, the calf, the heifer have all a deep mystical significance, and therefore we make reparation to him in the way mentioned in the text. Hence the declaration, “Our hands have not shed this blood, etc.” (Deut. XXI, 7)- they have not shed this blood, and we have not caused his death; and by this means the accuser is thereby kept at a distance. All this constitutes good counsel given by the Holy One to the world. Observe that the same applies to New Year Day and to the Day of Atonement. That is the time when the world is on trial and Satan brings his accusations. Hence it is needful for Israel to give a blast on the trumpet and to emit a sound which is a compound of fire, water, and air; that sound ascends to the place of the Throne of Judgement, where the Court of Justice is sitting, and impinges on it and ascends further. As soon as the sound arrives from beneath, the voice of Jacob is reinforced on high, and the Holy One, blessed be He, is stirred to mercy.


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