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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 17a

is Hadyab,1  the river Gozan is Ginzak,2  and the cities of the Medes are Hamdan3  and its neighbouring towns; others say, Nihar4  and its neighbouring towns. Which are its neighbouring towns? — Samuel replied: Karak,5  Moshki,6  Hidki7  and Dumkia.8

R. Johanan said: All these9  [were enumerated] in order to declare them as being unfit.10  When, however, I11  mentioned the matter12  in the presence of Samuel he said to me: Thy son,13  implies that he who is descended from an Israelitish woman may be called thy son, but thy son who is descended from a heathen woman is not called thy son but her son.14  But, surely, there were also daughters,15  and Rabina had said, 'From this it may be inferred that thy daughter's son born from [a union with] a heathen is called thy son'!16  — There is a tradition that the women of that generation were sterilized.17

Others read: When I mentioned the matter18  in the presence of Samuel he said to me, 'They did not move from there until they had declared them19  to be perfect heathens; as it is said in the Scriptures, They have dealt treacherously against the Lord, for they have begotten strange children.'20

R. Joseph sat behind R. Kahana while R. Kahana sat before Rab Judah, and while sitting he made the following statement: 'Israel will make a festival when Tarmod will have been destroyed'.21  But, surely, it was destroyed! — That22  was Tammod.23

R. Ashi said: Tarmod and Tammod are identical, but the city was rebuilt;24  when it was destroyed on one side it was settled on the other side, and when the other side was destroyed it was settled on the first side.25

R. Hamnuna sat before 'Ulla and was engaged in discussing a traditional law when the latter remarked,26  'What a man! And how much more important would he have been27  had not Harpania28  been his [native] town'! As the other was embarrassed, he said to him, 'Where do you pay poll tax'? — 'To Pum Nahara', the other replied. 'If so', 'Ulla said, 'You belong to Pum Nahara'.

What [is the meaning of] Harpania? — R. Zera replied: A mountain whither everybody29  turns.30  In a Baraitha it was taught: Whosoever did not know his family and his tribe31  made his way thither. Raba said: And it was deeper than the nether-world,32  for in the Scripture it is said, I shall ransom them from the power of the nether-world; I shall redeem them from death,33  but for the unfitness of these there is no remedy at all; the unfit of Harpania on account of the unfit of Meshan,34  and the unfit of Meshan on account of the unfit of Tarmod,35  and the unfit of Tarmod on account of the slaves of Solomon.36  Thus it is that people say, 'The small kab and the big kab37  roll down to the nether-world, from the netherworld to Tarmod,38  from Tarmod to Meshan, and from Meshan to Harpania.39



GEMARA. R. Nahman said: He who uses the expression FIRST53  commits no error and he who uses the expression SECOND53  also commits no error. 'He who uses the expression

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Adiabene, a region between the rivers Caprus and Lycus in Assyria.
  2. Ganzaka, identified with Shiz, S.E. of Urmia Lake, N.W. of Persia, v. ibid. n. 8.
  3. Hamadan, the capital of Media, otherwise known as Ekbatana. V. Schrader, Keilinschriften, p. 378.
  4. Nahawand, a town on the south of Ekbatana (v. previous note). V. ibid. n. 4.
  5. [H], Others read, [H] (fort) in the construct, and connect it with the following nouns.
  6. Or Kerak Moshki, the Fort of Moshki. The land of the Moshki lay on the southern side of Colchis.
  7. A locality in Assyria, variously described as Hudki, Hirki, Hizki and Huski.
  8. Rumki, Ruthki, or the Fort of Rumki in Media. On all these localities v. Kid., Sonc. ed. pp. 365ff notes.
  9. Localities mentioned.
  10. Most of their inhabitants being deemed bastards, since the women had intermarried with the heathens, and their descendants, furthermore, married forbidden relatives.
  11. This is the continuation of Rab Judah's statement.
  12. R. Assi's ruling, supra 16b.
  13. V. Deut. VII, 4 and Kid. 68b.
  14. I.e., is regarded as a perfect heathen and his betrothal has no validity.
  15. Of the ten tribes who married heathens.
  16. V. infra 23a. The children of such unions, then, being deemed Israelites though unfit, should have the right of betrothal. How then could Samuel contend that they are deemed to be perfect heathens? (V. supra p. 91, n. 18).
  17. [H] (root, [H] or [H]. [H], 'to tear', 'split'. Lit., 'they were split', i.e., an operation for sterilization was performed on them.
  18. Of R. Assi's ruling supra 16b.
  19. The ten tribes.
  20. Hos. V, 7.
  21. Being of tainted birth they contaminated many pure families in Israel by their intermarriages.
  22. The destroyed city.
  23. [According to Obermeyer. p. 199, the district between Medina and Syria inhabited by the Arab tribe Thamod, mentioned by Plinius and which, according to the Koran (VII, 76) has been destroyed by earthquake.]
  24. Lit., 'redoubled'.
  25. This explains the destruction and existence of the same city.
  26. Referring to R. Hamnuna.
  27. Lit., 'his strength' (BaH). Cur. edd., repeat 'what a man'.
  28. Hipparenum, a wealthy industrial town in the Mesene district, inhabited by a Jewish community of tainted birth.
  29. Of spurious or tainted descent who cannot obtain a wife anywhere else.
  30. [H] a play upon the word [H], the Aleph in [H] taking the place of the waw in [H].
  31. V. n. 1.
  32. Sheol, Hell.
  33. Hos. XIII, 14.
  34. Mesene, the island territory lying between the Tigris, the Euphrates and the Royal Canal. Its inhabitants were of spurious descent (v. Kid. 71b) and Harpania was situated near it.
  35. [Palmyrean merchants would make with their caravans across the wilderness direct for Mesene and there intermarry with the inhabitants, v. Obermeyer, p. 198.]
  36. V. supra, 16b.
  37. I.e., both measures are false. This saying is a metaphor for all sorts of people who in a minor or major degree are of spurious descent.
  38. Tarmod being deeper and lower than Hell itself.
  39. Harpania lying in the lowest depths of immorality and tainted descent.
  40. V. Mishnah supra 2b top.
  41. Lit., 'to them'.
  42. And thus found his deceased brother's widow subject to the marriage with his elder brother and forbidden to himself as 'the wife of his brother who was not his contemporary'.
  43. Of the two elder brothers who was already a married man.
  44. The widow of the first deceased brother who is now also the widow of the second brother.
  45. From levirate marriage with the third brother.
  46. Her rival, the widow of the second brother, who in ordinary circumstances would have been subject to levirate marriage with the third brother since he was a contemporary of her husband.
  47. The second brother.
  48. I.e., said to her in the presence of witnesses, 'Be thou betrothed unto me'.
  49. Prior to the consummation of the marriage.
  50. V. note 7.
  51. With the third brother. Since her husband's union with his deceased brother's widow was not consummated he never was her legal husband, and as she is consequently not her rival she cannot be exempt from the halizah.
  52. Because the ma'amar that the husband of the second addressed to the first widow has partially attached that woman to him, and the second has, in consequence, become the partial rival of a forbidden relative and is, therefore, Rabbinically forbidden to enter into the levirate marriage.
  53. In describing the widow of the first deceased brother.

Yebamoth 17b

FIRST commits no error', since 'first' may signify1  'first to be subject [to the levirate marriage]'; and 'he who uses the expression SECOND also commits no error', since 'second' may signify 'second to marry',2  Does not our Mishnah, however, include also3  the case of one who contracted the levirate marriage first and subsequently married his other wife?4  What, then, is meant by 'second'? Second in respect of her marriages.5

Where [in the Scriptures] is [the prohibition of marrying] 'the wife of his brother who was not his contemporary' written? — Rab Judah replied in the name of Rab: Scripture states, If brethren dwell together,6  i.e., dwell in the world at the same time; the wife of one's brother who was not his contemporary is consequently excluded; 'together' implies who are together in respect of inheritance,7  a maternal brother is, therefore, excluded.

Rabbah said: [That legal] brothers [are only those who are descended] from the same father is deduced by a comparison of this 'brotherhood'8  with the 'brotherhood' of the sons of Jacob;9  as there [the brotherhood was derived] from the father10  and not from the mother,11  so here also [the brotherhood spoken of is that] from the father and not from the mother.12

Let him rather deduce this 'brotherhood'8  from the 'brotherhood' of forbidden relatives!13  — Brethren8  may be deduced from brethren,9  but not brethren8  from thy brother.14  What practical difference is there [between the two expression]? Surely the School of R. Ishmael taught: And the priest shall return,15  and the priest shall come,16  'returning' and 'coming' are the same thing!17  — Such an analogy is drawn only18  where there is no other identical word; when, however, there occurs another word which is identical, the analogy is made only with that which is identical.

Let him, then, deduce this 'brotherhood'19  from the 'brotherhood' in the case of Lot, since it is written in the Scriptures. For we are brethren!20  -It stands to reason that the deduction should be made from the sons of Jacob. because the [analogous expression] is available for the purpose;21  for it could have been written, Thy servants are twelve sons of one man22  and yet 'brethren' also was written. Hence it must be inferred that the word was made available for the deduction.23

It was necessary for Scripture to write brethren,24  and it was also necessary to write together.24  For had the All Merciful written 'brethren' only, it might have been suggested that this 'brotherhood' should be deduced from the 'brotherhood' in the case of Lot. And were you to reply that [the analogous word],25  is not available for deduction,21  your statement would be negatived,26  [the analogous word] being indeed available; for whereas he could have written 'friends' and yet wrote 'brethren', the inference must be that the object was to render it available for analogous deduction; hence the All Merciful has written 'together', implying only those who are together in respect of inheritance.27  If, [on the other hand,] the All Merciful had only written 'together', it might have been said to refer to such as have the same father and mother; [hence both expressions were] required.

But how could you have arrived at such an opinion?28  The All Merciful has, surely, made29  the levirate marriage dependent on inheritance,30  and inheritance31  is derived from the father and not from the mother!32  -It33  was necessary. For it might have been assumed that whereas this34  is an anomaly,35  a forbidden relative36  having been permitted, the brotherhood must, therefore, be both paternal and maternal; [hence it was] necessary [to teach us that the law was not so].

R. Huna said in the name of Rab: If a woman awaiting the decision of the levir!37  died, [the levir] is permitted to marry her mother. This obviously shews that he!38  is of the opinion that no levirate bond39  exists40  let him then say, the halachah is in accordance with the view of him who said no levirate bond exists!41  — If he had said so, it might have been suggested that this applied only to the case of two42  but that in the case of one43  a levirate bond does exist. Then let him say, 'The halachah is in accordance with him who said no levirate bond exists even in the case of one levir'!44  — If he had said so it might have been assumed even where she45  is alive;46  hence he taught us that only after death and not when she is still alive, because it is forbidden to abolish the commandment of levirate marriages.

We learned, 'If his deceased brother's wife died he may marry her sister',47  which implies that her sister only may be married but not her mother! — The same law applies even to her mother; only because he taught in the earlier clause 'if his wife died he is permitted to marry her sister' in which case only her sister is meant and not her mother, since the latter is Biblically prohibited, he also taught in the latter clause 'he is permitted to marry her sister'.48

Rab Judah, however, said: If a woman awaiting the decision of the levir49  died, the levir is still forbidden to marry her mother. This50  obviously implies that he51  is of the opinion that a levirate bond exists,52  let him then say, the halachah is in accordance with the view of him who said a levirate bond exists!53  -If he had said so it might have been suggested that this applied only to the case of one,54  but in the case of two55  no levirate bond exists. But the dispute,56  surely, centered round the question of two!57  — But [this is really the reply]: If he51  had said so58

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'what is first?'
  2. The second brother who was already a married man when he contracted the levirate marriage with her. V. supra p 94. n. 4.
  3. Lit., 'are we not engaged on'.
  4. In which case the widow was also the first to marry him.
  5. The first marriage with her husband and the second with the levir.
  6. Deut. xxv, 5.
  7. I.e., entitled to inherit from one another.
  8. The expression 'brethren' in Deut. xxv, 5' in relation to the levirate marriage.
  9. the thy servants are twelve brethren (Gen. XLII, 13).
  10. Jacob.
  11. Since they were born from different mothers.
  12. B.B. 110b, infra 22a.
  13. The nakedness of thy brother's wife (Lev. XVIII, 26) which includes (v. infra 55a) the wife of a maternal brother.
  14. In the case of the levirate marriage (Deut. xxv, 5) as well as that of Jacob's sons (Gen. XLII, 13) the expression is [H] 'brethren'; In that of Lev. XVIII, 16 it is [H] 'thy brother'.
  15. Lev. XIV, 39.
  16. Ibid. v. 44.
  17. And an analogy between them may be drawn. Though in that case the expressions [H] and [H], are derived from different roots they are nevertheless, owing to their similarity in meaning. employed for the purposes of an analogy ('Er. 51a, Yoma 2b, Naz. 5a, Mak. 13b, Hor. 8b et a.l.), how much more so should an analogy be justified between the same nouns which differ only (v. supra p. 95' n. 14) in their suffixes!
  18. Lit., 'these words'.
  19. The expression 'brethren' in Deut. xxv, 5 in relation to the levirate marriage.
  20. Gen. Xlii, 8. Lot having been Abraham's nephew the deduction would establish a novel law of marriage with a deceased uncle's or nephew's widow.
  21. Lit., 'vacant'.
  22. Gen. XLII, 23. Cur. edd., read, in. stead of 'one man', 'our father', which occurs in v. 32. If the reference were to the latter verse 'thy servants' which does not occur there would have to be deleted here. Several MSS. support the reading here adopted.
  23. Lit., 'to make it vacant.
  24. Deut. xxv, 5.
  25. In the case of Lot.
  26. [H] (cf. Jast.) or [H] (cf. Levy). Contract. of [H] 'not it'. Aruk: derivation is from [H] + [G] 'not so my son'.
  27. V. supra p. 95, n. 7.
  28. Lit., 'and this, whence does it come', i.e., how could any one have assumed that the levirate marriage should only apply to brothers from the same father and mother?
  29. Lit., 'hung'.
  30. [Infra 24a.
  31. Of one's brother.
  32. What need then was there for the expression 'brethren'?
  33. The expression 'brethren'.
  34. Levirate marriage.
  35. Lit., 'something novel'.
  36. A brother's wife.
  37. [H] a woman during the period between the death of her husband and the levirate marriage or halizah.
  38. Rab.
  39. Zikah [H] v. Glos.
  40. Between the widow of the deceased brother and the levir, prior to the levirate marriage. Had such a bond existed, her mother would have been forbidden to the levir as his mother-in. law.
  41. V. infra 41a.
  42. Brothers. Since it is not known which of them will actually marry her, the levirate bond is necessarily weak.
  43. Who alone is entitled to marry her,
  44. Infra 29b.
  45. The widow.
  46. Her mother is permitted to the levir. Consequently she would be exempted from halizah as 'his wife's daughter'.
  47. Infra 49a.
  48. Her mother, however, is equally permitted.
  49. V. supra, p. 97' n. 11.
  50. The prohibition to marry her mother prior to the levirate marriage as if she had already been his actual mother-in-law.
  51. Rab Judah.
  52. Between the widow of the deceased brother and the levir, before levirate marriage takes place.
  53. Infra 41a.
  54. Brother, who is the only one entitled to marry the widow, and may consequently be regarded as the actual husband.
  55. v. supra p. 97' n. 16.
  56. Between R. Judah and the Rabbis, infra 41a.
  57. Brothers. How then could it possibly have been assumed that the halachah referred to the case of one brother only?
  58. That the halachah was in accordance with the view of him who said that a levirate bond exists between the widow and the levir prior to the levirate marriage.