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
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
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
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
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
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
(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
(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,
(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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