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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin

Folio 69a

and the Divine Law states, But if the man etc.,1  teaching that only in the case of a man must thou seek whether he has kinsmen or not, but not in the case of a minor, for it is obvious that he can have none.

Abaye objected. [It has been taught: And If any man lieth carnally


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    with a woman that is a bondmaid].2  'A man': from this I know the law only with respect to a man: whence do I know it of one aged nine years and a day who is capable of intercourse? From the verse, And 'if a man'?3   — He replied: Such a minor can produce semen, but cannot beget therewith; for it is like the seed of cereals less than a third grown.4

The School of Hezekiah taught: But if a man came presumptuously [yazid] upon his neighbour to slay him with guile:5  a man can inflame [his genital] and emit semen, but not a minor.6   R. Mordechai asked of R. Ashi: Whence do we know that mezid denotes heating? — From the verse, And Jacob sod [wa-yazed] pottage.7

But this is not so.8  For the School of Ishmael9  taught: If a man have a son:10  implying, a son but not a father.11  Now, how is this possible? Shall we say that he impregnated [his wife] after producing two hairs, and begot before the hair was fully grown12  — but can there be such a long interval [between these, as to allow for complete gestation]? Did not R. Keruspedai say: The extreme limits of a 'stubborn and rebellious' son are only three months?13  Hence he must have caused conception before producing two hairs, and begot the child before the hair was fully grown; [and in that case he is excluded from the operation of the law] thus proving that a minor can beget children! — No. In truth, this refers to one who impregnated [his wife] after the appearance of two hairs, and begot [the child] after his hair was fully grown. But as for the difficulty raised by R. Keruspedai's dictum, — when R. Dimi came, he said: In the West [i.e.. Palestine], they explain [the deduction of the School of Ishmael] thus; a son, but not one who is fit to be called a father.14

To revert to the above text: 'R. Keruspedai said in R. Shabbethai's name: The extreme limit of a "stubborn and rebellious son" is only three months'. But did we not learn, FROM THE TIME THAT HE PRODUCES TWO HAIRS UNTIL HE GROWS A BEARD RIGHT ROUND? — If he grew a beard, even if three months have elapsed, or if three months elapsed, even if he did not grow a beard [he is no longer liable].15

R. Jacob of Nehar Pekod16  sat before Rabina, and said thus in the name of R. Huna the son of R. Joshua: From the dictum of R. Keruspedai in R. Shabbethai's name one may deduce that if a woman bears at seven months, her pregnancy is not discernible at a third of its course; for if it is, why three months: two and a third are sufficient?17  He demurred: In truth, it may be that her pregnancy becomes manifest at a third of its course, but we must regard the majority.18  Now, this was repeated before R. Huna the son of R. Joshua, whereupon he remarked: But can we consider the majority [only, disregarding the majority entirely] in capital charges; did not the Torah say, Then the congregation shall judge … and the congregation shall deliver the slayer?19  Yet you say, regard


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    the majority! This was reported back to Rabina. He replied: Do we then not follow the majority in capital charges? But we learnt: If one witness testified that the crime was committed on the second day of the month, and one on the third, their testimony is valid; for one knew that the past month had been full, and the other did not.20  But if you maintain that we do not follow the majority, should we not say that these witnesses testify exactly,21  and thus contradict each other? Hence it surely must be that we follow the majority who are wont to err with respect to the fulness of the month.

R. Jeremiah of Difti said: We also learnt the following: A maiden aged three years and a day may be acquired in marriage by coition, and if her deceased husband's brother cohabited with her, she becomes his. The penalty of adultery may be incurred through her; [if a niddah,] she defiles him who has connection with her, so that he in turn defiles that upon which he lies, as a garment which has lain upon [a person afflicted with gonorrhoea]. If she married a priest, she may eat of terumah; if any unfit person cohabits with her, he disqualifies her from the priesthood. If any of the forbidden degrees had intercourse with her, they are executed on her account, but she is exempt.22

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. 'Man' is superfluous, as the verse could have read, But if he hath no kinsman …
  2. Lev. XIX, 20.
  3. 'And' ([H]) indicates an extension of the law, and is here interpreted to include a minor aged nine years and a day.
  4. Such cereals contain seed, which if sown, however, will not grow.
  5. Ex XXI, 14.
  6. Hif'il, [H] (come presumptuously), is here derived from [H], to seethe, Hif'il, hezid, to cook, boil, the technical terms for the excitation producing semen. Rashi states that this interpretation is placed upon the word, for if mere wanton wickedness were referred to, Scripture should have written Yarshia' [H] from [H], a wicked man. Thus, by this exegesis, a minor is excluded from the scope of the law.
  7. [H] Gen. XXV, 29.
  8. Thus the text as reconstructed by Rashal. This is an objection to the view that a minor cannot beget children.
  9. V. p. 387 n. 7. Similarly. the 'School of Ishmael' refers to his successors long after him; Weiss, Dor, 11. p. 93, 94 (where he implies that some teachings introduced by this caption did not really originate with him, or were such of which he would not have approved).
  10. Deut. XXI, 18.
  11. I.e. if the son is himself a father already, this law does not apply.
  12. Since these are the limits between which the law operates.
  13. Whilst the fetus needs at least six months to develop.
  14. I.e., once his wife is impregnated he is already fit to be called a father. But it is unnecessary to exclude him when he is already a father, for by then this hair must be fully grown, and he is automatically excluded by the limitations expressed in the Mishnah.
  15. I.e., whichever period is shorter.
  16. [A town in the vicinity of Nehardea; v. Obermeyer, Die Landschaft Babylonien, 270ff.]
  17. For the fetus being then discernible, the son is fit to be called a father, and is no longer liable, as stated above. v. Yeb. 35a.
  18. Whose pregnancy lasts nine months, the fetus thus not being discernible before three months, when the son becomes fit to be called a father and no longer liable to the law of a rebellious son.
  19. Num. XXXV, 25f; this is taken to mean, that in doubt, the accused be given the benefit.
  20. V. supra 40a.
  21. Jewish months are of either twenty-nine or thirty days duration. As the sanctification of the new month depended on the direct testimony of witnesses, each new month being proclaimed by the Sanhedrin. it well might happen that a witness had not known that the preceding month had consisted of thirty days, and hence thought that the day of the crime was the third, instead of the second, of the new month.
  22. I.e. that since there is a minority that does not err in respect of the length of the month, why not assume that each knows the length of the preceding month?

Sanhedrin 69b

But why so: may she not prove1  to be barren, her husband not having married her on such a condition?2  Hence it must be that we take into account only the majority, and the majority of women are not constitutionally barren! No. The penalty incurred on her account is a sacrifice, [but not death]. But it is explicitly stated, 'They are executed on her account?' — That refers to incest by her father. But the statement is, If any of the forbidden degrees had intercourse with her?3  — Hence this

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    [Mishnah] refers to a husband who explicitly accepted her under all conditions.

Our Rabbis taught: If a woman sported lewdly with her young son [a minor], and he committed the first stage of cohabitation with her, — Beth Shammai say, he thereby renders her unfit to the priesthood.4   Beth Hillel declare her fit. R. Hiyya the son of Rabbah b. Nahmani said in R. Hisda's name; others state, R. Hisda said in Ze'iri's name: All agree that the connection of a boy aged nine years and a day is a real connection; whilst that of one less than eight years is not:5   their dispute refers only to one who is eight years old, Beth Shammai maintaining, We must base our ruling on the earlier generations, but6  Beth Hillel hold that we do not.

Now, whence do we know that in the earlier generations [a boy of eight years] could beget children? Shall we say since it is written: [i] [And David sent and inquired after the woman, And one said:] Is not this Bath Sheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?7  And it is written, [ii] Eliam, the son of Ahitophel the Gilonite;8  and it is written, [iii] And he sent by the hand of Nathan the prophet; and he called his name Jedidiah [afterwards Solomon] because of the Lord;9  and it is written, [iv] And it came to pass, after two full years [after Solomon's birth], that Absalom had sheepshearers;10  and it is written, [v] So Absalom fled and went to Geshur and was there three years;11  and it is written [vi] So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's face;12  and it is written, [vii] And it came to pass after forty years, that Absalom said unto the king, I pray thee, let me go and pay my vow, which I have vowed unto the Lord in Hebron; and it is written,13  [viii] And when Ahitophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and got him home to his house, to his city and put his household in order, and hanged himself;14  and it is written, [ix] Bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days.15  And it has been taught: Doeg lived but thirty-four years, and Ahitophel thirty-three. Hence deduct seven years, Solomon's age when [Ahitophel] committed suicide,16  which leaves [Ahitophel] twenty-six years old at his birth. Now deduct two years for the three pregnancies, leaving each eight years old when he begot a child.17  But why so? Perhaps both [Ahitophel and Eliam] were nine years old [at conception], Bath Sheba being only six years when she conceived, because a woman has more [generative] vitality; the proof being that she bore a child before Solomon?18  — But it is deduced from the following: Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor and Haran.19  Now Abraham must have been [at least] one year older than Nahor, and Nahor one year older than Haran;20  hence Abraham was two years older that Haran. And it is written, And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai,' and the name of Nahor's wife Milcah, the daughter of Horan, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.21  Whereon R. Isaac observed: Iscah was Sarai, and why was she called Iscah? Because she foresaw [the future] by holy inspiration;22  hence it is written, In all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice.23  Another reason is, that all gazed at her beauty. It is also written. Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed and said in his heart, shall a child be born unto him that is on hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old bear?24  Hence, Abraham was ten years older than Sarah, and two years older than her father [Haran]. Therefore, Sarah must have been born when Haran was eight years old. But why so: perhaps Abram was the youngest of the brethren, the Writ giving them in order of wisdom? In proof of this contention, it is written, And Noah was five hundred years old, and Noah begat Shem, Ham and Japheth; hence [if the order is according to age], Shem was at least a year older than Ham, and Ham a year older than Japheth, so that Shem was two years older than Japheth. Now, it is written, And Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of water was upon the earth;25  and it is written, These are the generations of Shem. Shem was a hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood.26  But was he a hundred years old? He must have been a hundred and two years old?27  Hence thou must say that they are enumerated in order of wisdom [not age];28  then here too [in the case of Terah's sons], they are stated in order of wisdom.

R. Kahana said: I repeated this discussion before R. Zebid of Nahardea. Thereupon he said to me: You deduce [that the order is according to wisdom] from these verses, but we deduce it from the following: Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even unto him were children born;29  this means that he was the eldest of the brothers.

Then [the difficulty remains,] whence do we know it?30  — From this; [i] And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah;31  and it is written, [ii] And when Azubah [Caleb's wife] was dead, Caleb took unto him Ephrath, which bore him Hur.32  Now, how old was Bezaleel when he made the Tabernacle? Thirteen years, for it is written, [iii] And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the Sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made.33  And it has been taught: [iv] In the first year after the Exodus, Moses made the Tabernacle; in the second, he erected it and sent out the spies. And it is written, [v] [And Caleb … said …] Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to espy out the land,34  … and now lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.35  Now, how old was he when sent as a spy? Forty. Deduct fourteen, Bezaleel's age at the time,36  this leaves twenty-six [as Caleb's age at Bezaleel's birth]. Now, deduct two years for the three pregnancies; hence each must have begotten at the age of eight.37

A SON', BUT NOT A DAUGHTER. It has been taught: R. Simeon said, Logically, a daughter should come within the scope of a 'stubborn and rebellious child',

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files

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  1. V. supra 55b.
  2. In which case the marriage is null.
  3. This includes the violation of the marriage bond.
  4. I.e., she becomes a harlot, whom a priest may not marry (Lev. XXI, 7).
  5. So that if he was nine years and a day or more, Beth Hillel agree that she is invalidated from the priesthood; whilst if he was less that eight, Beth Shammai agree that she is not.
  6. When a boy of that age could cause conception.
  7. II Sam. XI, 3.
  8. Ibid. XXIII, 34.
  9. Ibid. XII, 25.
  10. Ibid. XIII, 23.
  11. Ibid. 38.
  12. Ibid. XIV, 28.
  13. Ibid. XV, 7.
  14. Ibid. XVII, 23.
  15. Ps. LV, 24. This is quoted in support of the next statement that Ahitopel did not reach thirty-five, half the normal span.
  16. This is arrived at by comparing verses iv, v and vi: Absalom slew Amnon two years after Solomon's birth (iv); he was exiled for three years (v); he then lived two years in Jerusalem before his rebellion (vi), in consequence of which Ahitophel hanged himself soon after (viii). Hence, Solomon was seven years old at the time.
  17. For Ahitopel begat Eliam (ii), Eliam begat Bath Sheba (i), and Bath Sheba begat Jedidiah, i.e., Solomon (iii). Now even allowing only seven months for each pregnancy, these three must have taken nearly two years (Rashi tries to prove that it would take exactly two years, by allowing an additional month in each case for pre-conception menstruation and purification; but this is difficult, and it is preferable to assume with Tosaf. that the two years are approximate). Thus twenty four years are left for the three generations, giving eight years for each: Ahitopel must have been eight years at the conception of Eliam; Eliam eight years at the conception of Bath Sheba; Bath Sheba eight years at the conception of Solomon.
  18. So that in any ease we are bound to assume a lower age for her conception.
  19. Gen. XI, 27.
  20. On the assumption that they are stated according to seniority.
  21. Ibid. 29.
  22. [H] is derived from the Aramaic root [H] to gaze, to look.]
  23. Ibid XXI, 12.
  24. Ibid. XVII, 17.
  25. Ibid. VII, 6.
  26. Ibid. XI, 10.
  27. Since Noah was five hundred years old when Shem was born, and six hundred when the flood commenced, Shem must have been a hundred then. Consequently, two years later he was a hundred and two years old.
  28. So that Shem as the youngest, not the eldest.
  29. Ibid. X, 21.
  30. That in the earlier generations, a boy of eight could beget child.
  31. Ex. XXXVIII, 22.
  32. Chron. II, 19.
  33. Ex. XXXVI, 4; In the Heb. 'every man' is expressed by ish ish, the doubling of the word emphasising that he had just reached manhood.
  34. Josh. XIV, 7.
  35. Ibid. 10.
  36. Deduced from iii and iv.
  37. i shews that Caleb was Bezaleel's great-grandfather, and iii and iv shew that he was twenty-six at Bezaleel's birth, within which three generations were born.