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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth

Folio 59a

what [is the law]:1  Are we guided by the marriage2  or by the betrothal?3  — The other replied to him: You have learned it: IF THEY BECAME WIDOWS OR WERE DIVORCED AFTER MARRIAGE THEY REMAIN INELIGIBLE; IF AFTER BETROTHAL THEY BECOME ELIGIBLE.4  The first said to him: With reference to rendering her a halalah,5  I have no doubt that it is the forbidden cohabitation6  that causes her to be a halalah. My question is only: What is implied by, And he shall take a wife in her virginity:7  Is the 'taking' of betrothal required,8  or is it the 'taking' of marriage that is required?9  The other replied, You have learned this also: [A priest who] betrothed a widow, and was subsequently appointed to be a High Priest, may consummate the marriage!10  — There it is different because it is written, Shall he take to wife.11  Here also it is written wife!12  — Only one13  but not two. And what is the reason?14  — In the case of the one,15  her body has undergone a change;16  in that of the other her body underwent no change.


GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: A widow … shall he not take,17  whether she became a widow after a betrothal or after a marriage. Is not this obvious?20  — It might have been assumed that [the meaning of] widow21  is to be inferred from widow22  in the case of Tamar; as there22  it was one after marriage, so here21  also it is one after marriage; hence we were taught [that any widow was meant]. But might it not be suggested that it is indeed so?23  — [It is compared] to a divorced woman:24  As 'divorced woman'24  [includes any divorcee] whether after betrothal or after marriage,25  so also 'widow'24  [includes any widow] whether after betrothal or after marriage.

HE SHALL NOT MARRY ONE WHO IS ADOLESCENT. Our Rabbis taught: And he shall take a wife in her virginity26  excludes one who is adolescent, whose virginity is ended; so R. Meir. R. Eleazar and R. Simeon permit the marriage of one who is adolescent. On what principle do they differ? — R. Meir is of the opinion that virgin27  implies even [one who retains] some of her virginity; her virginity28  implies only one who retains all her virginity;29  in her virginity30  implies only [when previous intercourse with her took place] in the natural manner,31  but not when in an unnatural manner.32  R. Eleazar and R. Simeon, however, are of the opinion that virgin would have implied a perfect virgin; her virginity implies even [one who retains] only part of her virginity;33  in her virginity implies only one whose entire virginity is intact,34  irrespective of whether [previous intercourse with her was] of a natural or unnatural character.35

Rab Judah stated in the name of Rab: A woman who was subjected to unnatural intercourse is disqualified from marrying a priest.36  Raba raised an objection: And she shall be his wife,37  applies to a woman eligible to marry him. This excludes [the marriage of] a widow38  to a High Priest,39  of a divorced woman38  and a haluzah38  to a common priest. Now, how is one to understand [the outrage]?40  If it be suggested that it was one of natural intercourse, what [it may be asked] was the object of pointing to her widowhood41  when [her prohibition] could be inferred from the fact that she had


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    had carnal intercourse with a man?42  Must it not consequently [be assumed to be] a case of unnatural intercourse; and the only reason43  [why the woman is forbidden44  is] because she is a widow, and not because she had had carnal intercourse!45

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. May he marry her despite her advanced age?
  2. When she was already of age and consequently forbidden to him.
  3. When she was still permitted.
  4. From which it appears that, in respect of those who are ineligible to marry priests, marriage is the main factor. Had not the marriage to be taken into consideration a widow, for instance, who was betrothed to a High Priest would also be ineligible after his death.
  5. 'Profaned' and forbidden to a priest.
  6. I.e., the consummation of marriage.
  7. Lev. XXI, 13.
  8. And as at that time she was eligible he may now marry her.
  9. As by that time she is already forbidden, he may not marry her, despite their permitted betrothal.
  10. Infra 61a, which proves that betrothal is the main factor.
  11. Lev. XXI, 14. From the superfluous word wife it is deduced (v. infra 61a) that in the case mentioned the High Priest may consummate the marriage. This, however, supplies no answer to the question under consideration.
  12. Lev. XXI, 13.
  13. Deduction may be made from the term 'wife'.
  14. Lit., 'what do you see'? Why should the deduction be made to permit the marriage of the widow to a High Priest and not that of the minor who became adolescent?
  15. The minor who became of age.
  16. And she may, therefore, be regarded as a different person.
  17. V. Lev. XXI, 14.
  18. [H] one over twelve years and six months of age. Cf. supra p. 393, n. 5.
  19. [H] lit., 'struck by wood', one who lost her hymen as the result of a blow.
  20. The expression widow surely does not imply any distinction between the one and the other!
  21. Spoken of in connection with a High Priest (Lev. XXI, 14).
  22. Gen. XXXVIII, 11.
  23. That only one after marriage was meant, as in the case of Tamar.
  24. Spoken of in the same context in connection with a High Priest (Lev. XXI, 14).
  25. So Yalkut. Cur. edd. reverse the order.
  26. Lev. XXI, 13.
  27. [H].
  28. [H].
  29. Which excludes the one who is adolescent, whose virginity has ended.
  30. [H], (Lev. XXI, 13).
  31. Is she forbidden to a High Priest.
  32. The superfluous [H] (= in), in [H] excludes unnatural intercourse, whereby 'virginity' is not affected.
  33. Which includes the one who is adolescent.
  34. Is permitted to be married by a High priest.
  35. Even if it was unnatural she is forbidden, unless her virginity remained completely intact. Cf. supra n. 7. As, according to R. Eleazar and R. Simeon, one who is adolescent is permitted it was necessary to have the Scriptural text to exclude this case. According to R. Meir, however, who excludes one who is adolescent, there is no need any more to exclude this case which is easily inferred a minori ad majus from the former.
  36. I.e., a High Priest who is permitted to marry a virgin only.
  37. Deut. XXII, 29, referring to a virgin who had been outraged.
  38. After her betrothal.
  39. If it was he who committed the outrage.
  40. If committed by a High Priest.
  41. Lit., 'on account of widow'.
  42. With the High Priest himself, who is forbidden to marry an outraged or seduced woman even if he himself had committed the offence.
  43. Lit., 'yes'.
  44. To the High Priest.
  45. Which proves that unnatural intercourse does not cause a woman to be forbidden to marry a High Priest. How then could Rab state that a woman in such circumstances is forbidden?

Yebamoth 59b

— This1  represents the view of2  R. Meir,3  while Rab holds the same view as R. Eleazar.4  If [Rab holds the same view] as R. Eleazar, what was the object of pointing to her previous carnal intercourse5  when [her prohibition] could have been inferred from the fact that she was a harlot,6  R. Eleazar having stated that an unmarried man who cohabited with an unmarried woman with no matrimonial intention renders her thereby a harlot!7  — R. Joseph replied:8  When, for instance, the woman was subjected to intercourse with a beast, where the reason of 'previous carnal intercourse' may be applied but not that of harlot.  Said Abaye to him: Whatever you prefer [your reply cannot be upheld], If she is a be'ulah10  she must also be a harlot; and if she is not a harlot11  she cannot be a be'ulah either! And were you to reply: This case is similar to that of a wounded woman,12  [it may be pointed out] that if [the disqualification should be extended to] unnatural intercourse also,13  you will find no woman eligible to marry a [High Priest [since there is not one] who has not been in some way


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    wounded14  by a splinter! No, said R. Zera,15  in respect of a minor who made a declaration of refusal.16

R. Shimi b. Hiyya stated: A woman who had intercourse with a beast is eligible to marry a priest.17  Likewise it was taught: A woman who had intercourse with that which is no human being,18  though she is in consequence subject to the penalty of stoning,19  is nevertheless permitted to marry a priest.20 

When R. Dimi came21  he related: It once happened at Haitalu22  that while a young woman was sweeping the floor23  a village dog24  covered her from the rear,25  and Rabbi permitted her to marry a priest. Samuel said: Even a High Priest. But was there a High Priest in the days of Rabbi?26  — Rather, [Samuel meant]: Fit for a High Priest.

Raba of Parzakaia27  said to R. Ashi: Whence is derived the following statement which the Rabbis made: Harlotry is not applicable to bestial intercourse? — It is written, Thou shalt not bring the hire of a harlot, or the price of a dog,28  and yet we learned that the hire of a dog29  and the price of a harlot30  are permitted31  because it is said, Even both these,28  two only but not four.

Our Rabbis taught: [A High Priest] shall not marry the woman he himself has outraged or seduced.32  If, however, he married her, the marriage is valid.33  He shall not marry a woman whom another man has outraged or seduced. If he did marry her, the child, said R. Eliezer b. Jacob, is profaned:34  but the Sages said: The child is legitimate.35

'If, however, he married her, the marriage is valid'. Said R. Huna in the name of Rab: But he must put her aside by a letter of divorce. What, then, [is the explanation] of the statement 'If, however, he married her, the marriage is valid'? — R. Aha b. Jacob replied: It was meant to imply

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. The Baraitha cited by Raba.
  2. Lit., 'this, according to whom'?
  3. Cf. supra p. 395, n. 7.
  4. Cf. supra p. 395, n. 10.
  5. As a reason for prohibition.
  6. Who is forbidden not only to a High Priest but also to a common priest (v. Lev. XXI, 7). Why, then, did Rab refer to a High Priest only?
  7. Infra 61b, 76a, Sanh. 51a, Tem. 30a.
  8. Rab's reason of 'previous carnal intercourse' was necessary.
  9. A term which is not applicable to bestial intercourse. V. infra.
  10. [H] one who had experienced carnal intercourse.
  11. Presumably because her act cannot be regarded as 'sexual intercourse'.
  12. V. supra p. 394, n. 8. As in her case marriage with a High Priest is forbidden (v. our Mishnah), though she is no harlot, so also in the case of bestial intercourse.
  13. I.e., if injury to the anus is to be subject to the same restrictions as injury to the hymen.
  14. Cf. supra p. 394, n. 8.
  15. Rab's reason of 'previous carnal intercourse' was necessary.
  16. Mema'eneth, v. Glos. Unnatural intercourse with her by her husband places the minor in the status of be'ulah (v. Glos.) but not in that of harlot, while her refusal to live with him does not give her the status of divorcee or widow but that of mema'eneth. Hence the necessity for Rab's statement that such a minor also is forbidden to marry a High Priest.
  17. Even a High Priest. The result of such intercourse being regarded as a mere wound, and the opinion that does not regard an accidentally injured hymen as a disqualification does not so regard such an intercourse either.
  18. A beast.
  19. If the offence was committed in the presence of witnesses after due warning.
  20. In the absence of witnesses and warning.
  21. From Palestine to Babylon.
  22. [Babylonian form for Aitalu, modern Aiterun N.W. of Kadesh, v, S. Klein, Beitrage p. 47].
  23. Lit., 'house'.
  24. Or 'big hunting dog' (Rashi), 'ferocious dog' (Jast.), 'small wild dog' (Aruk).
  25. A case of unnatural intercourse.
  26. Judah ha-nasi (the Prince or Patriarch) I, who flourished 170-217 C.E., above a hundred years after the destruction of the second Temple.
  27. So Bomberg ed.; MS.M., 'Parazika' (cf. Golds.); Cur. edd., 'Parkin'.
  28. Deut. XXIII, 19.
  29. The beast which a harlot receives for her intercourse with a dog.
  30. A beast received as the price of a harlot who has been sold.
  31. To be consecrated to the altar.
  32. Cf. Lev. XXI, 14: But a virgin … shall he take, i.e., she must be a virgin at the time he marries her.
  33. Lit., 'he is married'.
  34. Halal, v. Glos.
  35. He is not subject to any disabilities, religious or civil,