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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Kethuboth

Folio 3a

sometimes [it may happen] that he was not held back by an accident,1  and she would think that he was held back by an accident2  and she would be tied, and sit.3  And on account of the loose women, because if you will say [that] it should not be a divorce, sometimes [it may happen] that he was held back by an accident4  and she would say5  that he was not held back by an accident6  and she would go and get married, and the result would be7  [that] the divorce was invalid8  and her children [from the second marriage] would be bastards.9  But is it possible10  that according to the law of the Bible it would not be a divorce11  and on account of 'the chaste women' and on account of the 'loose women' we should allow a married woman12  to the world?13  — Yes, every one who betroths in accordance with the sense of the Rabbis he betroths,14  and the Rabbis have annulled his betrothal.15  Said Rabina to R. Ashi: This might be well16  [if] he betrothed her with money,17  [but if] he betrothed [her] by act of marriage, what can one say [then]? — The Rabbis have made18  his act of marriage non-marital.19

Some, [however,] say20  [as follows]: Raba said: And so [also] with regard to divorce. Accordingly Raba holds [that the plea of] accident applies to divorce.21  An objection was raised: 'Behold this is thy bill of divorce if I come not [back] from now [and] until twelve months,' and he died within the twelve months, there is no divorce. [Now] if he dies there is no divorce, but if he became ill there would be a divorce! — Indeed I might say [unto thee] that if he became ill there would be no divorce either, and [the Mishnah] lets us hear just this [rule]: that there is no divorce after death. [That] there is no divorce after death a previous Mishnah teaches! — Perhaps [that is] to exclude from that of our teachers. Come and hear:22  From now if I have not come [back] from now [and] until twelve months,' and he died within the twelve is a divorce. Would not the same rule apply if he became ill? No, Only if he died, because it was not pleasing to him that she should become subject to the yabam. Come and hear: A certain [man] said unto them: 'If I do not come [back] from now [and] until thirty days it shall be a divorce.' He came [back] at the end of thirty days but the ferry stopped him. And he said unto them, 'Look, I have come [back]; look, I have come [back]!' And Samuel said: This is not regarded as having come back! — An accident which is frequent is different, for since he ought to have stipulated it and he did not stipulate it, he injured himself.

R. Samuel b. Isaac said: They have only taught23  since the institution of Ezra24  and after, [according to which] the courts of justice sit25  only on the second day and on the fifth day [of the week]. But before the institution of Ezra, when the courts of justice sat every day, a woman26  could be married on any day. Before the institution of Ezra, what there was there was!27  — He means it thus: If there are courts of justice that sit now as before the institution of Ezra,28  a woman may be married on any day. But what of shakedu?29  [We suppose] that he30  had [already] taken the trouble.31

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit. 'that he was not forced.' The divorce would therefore certainly be effective.
  2. And the divorce would, in her view, not take effect (if the rule would have been that an accident is a bar to the divorce becoming effective).
  3. Lit., 'and she will be tied'. I.e., she would regard herself as tied to her absent husband and would not marry again. An 'agunah is a woman tied to an absent husband'. The Rabbis endeavoured to prevent the state of 'agunah; v. Git. 33a.
  4. And the divorce would not take effect.
  5. The use of 'she would say' here in contradistinction to 'she would think' in the case of the 'chaste women' is no doubt intentional. She (the loose woman) would say this, although she would not think so in her heart.
  6. In which case the divorce would become effective.
  7. Lit., 'and it is found.'
  8. If the divorce should not become effective because of an accident.
  9. The children of a married woman and a man who is not her husband are bastards, mamzerim; v. Yeb. 49a. This would be the case if the divorce would not become effective because of an accident and the first husband should turn up and say that he was held back by an accident. To prevent such evil results Raba established the rule that an accident should not be a bar to the divorce taking effect.
  10. Lit., 'and is there anything?'
  11. [The Plea of force majeure as recognized in the Bible, v. Deut. XXII, 26.]
  12. Lit., 'the wife of a man.'
  13. I.e., to marry another man.
  14. Lit., 'he sanctifies.' 'he consecrates.' To sanctify, to consecrate a woman to oneself means to marry her. Kiddushin 'sanctifications' means 'betrothal,' 'marriage.' I.e., every one who marries a woman marries her on the basis that the marriage is sanctioned by the law of the Rabbis.
  15. Lit., 'and the Rabbis have caused the betrothal to be released from him,' that is retrospectively. As the marriage is subject to the sanction of the Rabbis, the Rabbis can, if the necessity arises, annul the marriage. Such a necessity has arisen when an accident would be a bar to the divorce becoming effective.
  16. The answer just given might be regarded as satisfactory.
  17. V. Kid. 2a.
  18. I.e., have declared it to be, or regard it.
  19. Lit., 'an intercourse of prostitution.' The Rabbis have in either case the power to annul the marriage. The argument that Raba arrived at his views through his own reasoning stands.
  20. Lit., 'There are some who say.'
  21. According to this version. Raba holds that an accident is a bar to the divorce becoming effective.
  22. From here till 'he injured himself' the text is practically identical with the corresponding text on folio 2b. There are only one or two omissions and one or two slight variations. For interpretation, v. notes on the translation of 2b. The difference of the arguments is obvious.
  23. That a maiden marries on the fourth day of the week.
  24. V. B.K. 82a.
  25. Lit., 'are fixed'.
  26. Even a maiden.
  27. That is past and does not matter!
  28. Every day.
  29. Lit., 'we require "they watched"'. V. supra 2a.
  30. The bridegroom.
  31. Of preparing for the wedding.

Kethuboth 3b

What is [the reference to] shakedu? [For] it has been taught: Why did they say that a maiden is married on the fourth day? 'Because if he had a claim as to virginity he could go early [next morning] to the court of justice. But let her be married on the first day in the week and if he had a claim as to virginity he could go early [on the morning of the second day in the week] to the court of justice? — The Sages watched over the interests of the daughters of Israel so that [the man] should prepare for the [wedding-]feast three days, the first day in the week, and the second day in the week, and the third day in the week, and on the fourth day he marries her. And from [the time of] danger and onwards the people made it a custom to marry on the third day and the Sages did not interfere with them. And on the second day [of the week] he shall not marry; and if on account of the constraint1  it is allowed. And one separates the bridegroom from the bride on the nights of Sabbath at the beginning,2  because he makes a wound.3

What [was the] danger? If I say that they4  said, 'a maiden that gets married on the fourth day [of the week] shall be killed', [then how state] 'they made it a custom'? We should abolish it entirely! — Said Rabbah: [That] they said, 'a maiden that gets married on the fourth day [of the week] shall have the first sexual intercourse with the prefect.'5  [You call] this danger? [Surely] this [is a case of] constraint!6  — Because there are chaste women who would rather surrender themselves to death and [thus] come to danger. But let one expound to them7  that [in a case of] constraint [it] is allowed?8  — There are loose women9  and there are also priestesses.10  But [then] let one abolish it?11  A decree12  is likely to cease, and [therefore] we do not abolish an ordinance of the Rabbis on account of a decree. If so, on the third day he [the prefect] would also come and have intercourse [with the bride]? — Out of doubt he does not move himself.13

[It is stated above:] 'And on the second day [of the week] he shall not marry; and if on account of the constraint it is allowed.' What constraint [is referred to]? Shall I say [that it is] that which we have said?14  There,15  one calls it 'danger' 'and here, one calls it [mere] 'constraint'! And further, there [it states], 'they made it a custom', [whilst] here, 'it is allowed'!16  — Said Raba: [it is that] they say 'a general has come to town.17  In what case? If he comes and passes by,18  let it be delayed!19  — It is not necessary [to state this but] that he came and stayed. Let him, [then], marry on the third day [of the week]!20  — His21  vanguard arrived on the third day. And if you wish I may say: What is [the meaning of] 'on account of the constraint'? As it has been taught: If his bread was baked and his meat prepared and his wine mixed22  and the father of the bridegroom23  or the mother of the bride died,24  they bring the dead [person] into a room and the bridegroom and the bride into the bridal chamber,25

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. This will be explained anon.
  2. If it is her first marital union.
  3. By the first act of intercourse.
  4. The Roman authorities.
  5. jus primae noctis; v. J.E., VII, p. 395.
  6. [And no woman is enjoined to sacrifice her life in resisting this assault: v. supra p. 7 n. 1, v. infra 51b.]
  7. The women.
  8. V. n. 6.
  9. Who might submit voluntarily.
  10. Wives of priests who would be forbidden to their husbands even when submitting under constraint: v. infra 51b.
  11. Marrying on Wednesday.
  12. Of the Romans.
  13. To come into town.
  14. The fear of the exercise of jus primae noctis.
  15. Earlier in the cited Baraitha.
  16. [Implying that it was not an established custom.]
  17. And he would requisition the food prepared for the wedding-feast.
  18. If he only passes through the town.
  19. I.e., let the marriage be delayed till the fourth day of the following week.
  20. [Instead of the second day of the week and thus give him a longer opportunity for making preparations for the wedding.]
  21. The general's.
  22. With water, their wine being too strong to be drunk undiluted. I.e., all the preparations for the wedding had been made.
  23. [Who had to provide for the wedding-feast.]
  24. [Who provided the wife with her trousseau.]
  25. Huppah, v. Glos. First the marriage and then the mourning.