Previous Folio / Yebamoth Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Yebamoth
the twelve months of the [first] year1 and it would be unusual to arrange for his mourning now. As to the nethinim,2 however, let them be summoned and we shall pacify them. Immediately3 the king called the Gibeonites, and said unto them … 'What shall I do for you? and wherewith should I make atonement, that ye may bless the inheritance of the Lord'? And the Gibeonites said to him: 'It is no matter of silver or gold between us and Saul, or his house,' neither is it for us [to put] any man etc. … Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us and we will hang them up unto the Lord etc.'4 He tried to pacify them but they would not be pacified. Thereupon he said to them: This nation5 is distinguished by three characteristics: They are merciful, bashful and benevolent. 'Merciful', for is is written, And shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee.6 'Bashful', for it is written, That His fear may be before you.7 'Benevolent', for it is written, That he may command his children and his household etc.8 Only he who cultivates these three characteristics is fit to join this nation.9
But the king took the two sons of Rizpah the daughter of Aiah, whom she bore into Saul, Armoni and Mephibosheth; and the five sons of Michal the daughter of Saul, whom she bore to Adriel the son of Barzillai the Meholathite.10 Why just these? — R. Huna replied: They11 were made to pass before the Holy Ark. He whom the Ark retained [was condemned] to death and he whom the Ark did not retain was saved alive.
R. Hana b. Kattina raised an objection: But the king spared Mephibosheth, the son of Jonathan the son of Saul!12 — He did not allow him to pass.13 Was there favouritism then! — In fact he did let him pass and it retained him, but he invoked on his behalf divine mercy and it released him. But here, too, favouritism is involved!14 — The fact, however, is that he invoked divine mercy that the Ark should not retain him. But, surely, it is written, The fathers shall not be pit to death for the children etc.!15 — R. Hiyya b. Abba replied in the name of R. Johanan: It is better that a letter be rooted out of the Torah than that the Divine name shall be publicly profaned.16
And Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth, and spread it for her upon the rock, from the beginning of harvest until water was poured upon them from heaven; and she suffered neither the birds of the air to rest on then by day, nor the beast of the field by night.17 But, surely, it is written, His body shall not remain all night upon the tree!18 — R. Johanan replied in the name of R. Simeon b. Jehozadak: It is proper that a letter be rooted out of the Torah so that thereby the heavenly name shall be publicly hallowed. For passers-by were enquiring, 'What kind of men are these?' — 'These are royal princes' — 'And what have they done?' — 'They laid their hands upon unattached19 strangers' — Then they exclaimed: 'There is no nation in existence which one ought to join as much as this one. If [the punishment of] royal princes was so great. how much more that of common people; and if such [was the justice done for] unattached proselytes, how much more so for Israelites
A hundred and fifty thousand men immediately joined Israel; as it is said, And Solomon had threescore and ten thousand that bore burdens, and fourscore thousand that were hewers in the mountain.20 Might not these have been Israelites? — This cannot be assumed, for it is written, But of the children of Israel did Solomon make no bondservants.21 But that22 might have represented mere public service!23 — [The deduction,] however, [is made] from the following: And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the Land of Israel, etc. And they were found a hundred and fifty thousand etc. And he set threescore and ten thousand of them to bear burdens, and fourscore thousand to be hewers in the mountains.24
Was it David, however, who issued the decree of prohibition against the nethinim? Moses, surely, issued that decree, for it is written, from the hewer of thy wood to the drawer of thy water!25 — Moses issued a decree against that generation only26 while David issued a decree against all generations.
But Joshua, in fact, issued the decree against them, for it is written, And Joshua made them that day hewers of wood and drawers of water for the congregation, and for the altar of the Lord!27 — Joshua made his decree for the period during which the Sanctuary was in existence28 while David made his decree for the time during which the Sanctuary was not in existence.
In the days of Rabbi there was a desire to permit the nethinim.1 Said Rabbi to them, 'We could very well surrender our portion; who could surrender the portion of the altar?'2 He3 is thus in disagreement with R. Hiyya b. Abba. For R. Hiyya b. Abba stated in the name of R. Johanan: The portion of the congregation is forbidden for ever,4 and the portion of the altar is forbidden only when the Sanctuary is in existence, but when the Sanctuary is not in existence it is permitted.
MISHNAH. R. JOSHUA STATED: I HAVE HEARD5 THAT A SARIS6 SUBMITS TO HALIZAH6 AND THAT HALIZAH IS ARRANGED FOR HIS WIFE, AND ALSO THAT A SARIS6 DOES NOT SUBMIT TO HALIZAH AND THAT NO HALIZAH IS TO BE ARRANGED FOR HIS WIFE, AND I AM UNABLE TO EXPLAIN THIS.7 R. AKIBA SAID, I WILL EXPLAIN IT: A MAN-MADE SARIS8 SUBMITS TO HALIZAH AND HALIZAH IS ALSO ARRANGED FOR HIS WIFE, BECAUSE THERE WAS A TIME WHEN HE WAS IN A STATE OF FITNESS. A SARIS BY NATURE9 NEITHER SUBMITS TO HALIZAH NOR IS HALIZAH ARRANGED FOR HIS WIFE, SINCE THERE NEVER WAS A TIME WHEN HE WAS FIT. R. ELIEZER SAID: NOT SO, BUT A SARIS BY NATURE9 SUBMITS TO HALIZAH AND HALIZAH IS ALSO ARRANGED FOR HIS WIFE, BECAUSE HE MAY BE CURED. A MAN-MADE SARIS10 NEITHER SUBMITS TO HALIZAH NOR IS HALIZAH ARRANGED FOR HIS WIFE, SINCE HE CANNOT BE CURED. R. JOSHUA B. BATHYRA TESTIFIED CONCERNING BEN MEGOSATH, WHO WAS A MAN-MADE SARIS LIVING IN JERUSALEM. THAT HIS WIFE WAS ALLOWED TO BE MARRIED BY THE LEVIR, THUS CONFIRMING THE OPINION OF R. AKIBA.
THE SARIS NEITHER SUBMITS TO HALIZAH NOR CONTRACTS THE LEVIRATE MARRIAGE, AND SO ALSO A WOMAN WHO IS INCAPABLE OF PROCREATION MUST NEITHER PERFORM HALIZAH NOR BE TAKEN IN LEVIRATE MARRIAGE.
IF A SARIS SUBMITTED TO HALIZAH FROM HIS SISTER-IN-LAW, HE DOES NOT THEREBY CAUSE HER TO BE DISQUALIFIED.10 IF, HOWEVER, HE COHABITED WITH HER HE CAUSES HER TO BE DISQUALIFIED.11 SINCE HIS ACT IS SHEER PROSTITUTION.12 SIMILARLY, WHERE BROTHERS SUBMITTED TO HALIZAH FROM A WOMAN INCAPABLE OF PROCREATION, THEY DO NOT THEREBY CAUSE HER TO BE DISQUALIFIED.11 IF, HOWEVER, THEY COHABITED WITH HER, THEY CAUSE HER TO BE DISQUALIFIED.11 SINCE COHABITATION WITH HER IS AN ACT OF PROSTITUTION.13
GEMARA. Observe! R. Akiba was heard to state that 'Those who are subject to the penalty of negative precepts14 are on a par with those who are subject to the penalties of kareth';15 but those who are subject to the penalty of kareth are not eligible for halizah or levirate marriage!16 — R. Ammi replied: 'What we are dealing with here is with a case, for instance, where his brother17 had married a proselyte; and R. Akiba is of the same opinion as R. Jose, who stated that an assembly of proselytes is not regarded as an assembly.'18 If so,19 he should also be permitted to contract levirate marriage!20 — The law is so indeed; only because R. Joshua used the expression 'SUBMITS TO HALIZAH'21 he [R. Akiba] also used the expression 'SUBMITS TO HALIZAH'. This22 may also be proved by inference; for it was stated, R. JOSHUA B. BATHYRA TESTIFIED CONCERNING BEN MEGOSATH, WHO WAS A MAN-MADE SARIS LIVING IN JERUSALEM, THAT HIS WIFE WAS ALLOWED TO BE MARRIED BY THE LEVIR,23 THUS CONFIRMING THE OPINION OF R. AKIBA. This proves it.22
Rabbah raised an objection: He who is wounded in the stones or has his privy member cut off, a man-made saris, and an old man, may either participate in halizah or contract levirate marriage. How?24 If these died25 and were survived by wives and brothers, and those brothers addressed a ma'amar to the wives, or gave them letters of divorce, or participated with them in halizah, their actions are legally valid;26 if they cohabited with them, the widows become their lawful wives.27 If the brothers died and they28 addressed a ma'amar to their29 wives, or gave them divorce, or participated with them in halizah, their actions are valid;30 and if they cohabited with them the widows become their lawful wives, but they31 may not retain them, because it is said in Scripture. He that is wounded in the stones or hath his privy member cut off shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord.32 This clearly proves that we are dealing33 with members of the assembly!34 — The fact is, said Rabbah, that this35 is a case where the widow became subject to him36 first and he was subsequently maimed.37 Said Abaye to him: Let the prohibition against the maimed man override the positive precept of the levirate marriage! Did we not learn [of a similar case]: R. Gamaliel said, If she38 made a declaration of refusal39 well and good;40 and if not, let [the elder sister] wait until the minor grows up and she will then be exempt as his wife's sister.41 Thus it follows that the prohibition against a wife's sister has the force of overriding [that of the levirate marriage]; here also, then, let the prohibition against the maimed man have the force of overriding it! — But, said R. Joseph. this Tanna42 represents the view of the Tanna of the school of R. Akiba, who maintains that [the issue] of a union which is subject to the penalty of negative precepts owing to consanguinity43 is regarded as a bastard, but [the issue] of a union that is merely subject to the penalty of negative precepts is not a bastard.44
The text, 'To raise up unto his brother a name'45 should be applicable to this case46 also, but he,47 surely, is incapable of raising it!48 — Raba replied: If so,49 there exists no woman who is eligible for the levirate marriage whose husband was not a saris by nature50 for a short time, at least, prior to his death.51
What are we to understand by A SARIS BY NATURE? — R. Isaac b. Joseph replied in the name of R. Johanan: Any man
- To Next Folio -