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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra
his share, [when he is co-heir] with one [is to be compared with] his share [when he is co-heir] with five; as [in the case of inheriting] his share with one [brother, he receives] twice as much as the one1 so [in the case when he inherits] his share with five [brothers he should also receive only] twice as much as one. Or perhaps argue this way:2 [let] his share [when he is co-heir] with one [brother] be compared with his share [when co-heir] with five [brothers]; as his share [when co-heir] with one is a double portion in all the estate3 so [is the case when he inherits] his share with five [he should also receive] a double portion in all the estate?4 — It was expressly taught, Then it shall be in the day that he causeth his sons to inherit,5 the Torah [thus] assigned the greater portion to the brothers.6 Consequently, the deduction is not to be made according to the second proposition7 but according to the first.8 Furthermore it is said, And the sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel; for he was the firstborn; but forasmuch as he defiled his father's couch, his birthright was given unto the sons of Joseph the son of Israel, yet not so that he was to be reckoned in the genealogy of firstborn.9 Furthermore it is said, For Judah prevailed above his brethren and of him came he that is the prince; but the birthright was Joseph's.10 'Birthright' was said [in relation] to Joseph10 and 'birthright' was said [in relation] to [coming] generations,11 just as the birthright that was said [in relation] to Joseph [consisted in his receiving a portion] twice as much [as any] one [of the others]12 so the birthright that was said [in relation] to the [coming] generations13 [is to consist in the receiving of a portion] twice as much as [any] one [of the others]. Furthermore it is said, Moreover I have given thee one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.13 Did he take [it] with his sword and with his bow'? Surely it has already been said, For I trust not in my bow, neither can my sword save me!14 But, my sword, means 'prayer' [and] my bow, means supplication'.15
What need was there for quoting the several Scriptural verses?16 — In case you should suggest [that] that [verse17 was required] for [the indication that the law is] in accordance with [the view of] R. Johanan b. Beroka,18 — Come and hear [the verse], And the sons of Reuben, the firstborn of Israel. And in case you should suggest [that] birthright19 from his birthright20 may not be deduced, Come and hear [the verse], But the birthright was Joseph's.21 And in case you should say whence [is it proved] that Joseph himself [received] twice as much as [any] one [of the others], — Come and hear [the verse], Moreover I have given thee one portion above thy brethren.
R. Papa said to Abaye: Might [it not] be suggested [that Joseph received] merely a palm tree?22 — He replied unto him: For your sake23 Scripture said, Ephraim and Manasseh, even as Reuben and Simeon shall be mine.24
R. Helbo enquired of R. Samuel b. Nahmani: What [reason] did Jacob see for taking away the birthright from Reuben and giving it to Joseph? — What did he see? [Surely] it is written, Forasmuch as he defiled his father's couch! But, [this is the question]: What [reason] did he see for giving it to Joseph? — Let me give you a parable. This thing may be compared25 to a host26 who brought up an orphan27 at his house. After a time that orphan became rich28 and declared: 'I would let the host have [some] benefit from my wealth',29 He said unto him: But had not Reuben sinned, [Jacob] would not have bestowed upon Joseph any benefit at all?30 But R. Jonathan your master did not say so.31 The birthright, [he said], should have emanated from Rachel, as it is written, These are the generations of Jacob, Joseph,32 but Leah anticipated [her with her prayers for] mercy. On account, [however], of the modesty, which was characteristic of Rachel, the Holy One, blessed he He, restored it to her. What [was it that caused] Leah to anticipate her with [her supplications for] mercy? — It is written And the eyes of Leah were weak.33 What [is meant by] weak?34 If it is suggested [that the meaning is that her eyes were] actually weak, [is this, it may be asked,] conceivable? [If] Scripture did not speak disparagingly of an unclean animal, for it is written, of the clean beasts, and of the beasts that are not clean,35 [would] Scripture speak disparagingly of the righteous?36 — But, said R. Eleazar, [the meaning of rakkoth37 is] that her bounties were extensive.38 Rab said: [Her eyes were] indeed actually weak, but that was no disgrace to her but a credit; for at the crossroads39 she heard people saying: Rebecca has two sons, [and] Laban has two daughters; the elder [daughter should be married] to the elder [son] and the younger [daughter should be married] to the younger [son]. And she sat at the crossroads and inquired: 'How does the elder one conduct himself?'40 [And the answer came that he was] a wicked man, a highway robber.41 'How does the younger man conduct himself?' — 'A quiet man dwelling in tents'.42 And she wept until her eyelashes dropped.43 And this accounts for the Scriptural text, And the Lord saw that Leah was hated.44 What [could be the meaning of] 'hated'? If it is suggested [that it means that she was] actually hated, [surely] it may be retorted, is this] conceivable? [If] Scripture did not speak disparagingly of an unclean animal, [would] it speak disparagingly of the righteous? But the [meaning is this]: The Holy One, blessed be He, saw that Esau's conduct was hateful to her, so he opened her womb.45
Wherein did Rachel's modesty lie? — It is written, And Jacob told Rachel that he was her father's brother and that he was Rebecca's son.46 Was he not the son of her father's sister? But he said to her, '[Will] you marry me?'47 [And] she replied to him, 'Yes, but father is a sharper, and you will not he able [to hold your own against] him'. ''Wherein,' he asked her, 'does his sharp dealing lie?' — 'I have,' she said, 'a sister who is older than I, and he will not allow me to be married before her' — 'I am his brother', he said to her, 'in sharp dealing'. — 'But,' she said to him, 'may the righteous indulge in sharp dealing?' — 'Yes,' [he replied]. 'With the pure, [Scripture says], Thou dost show thyself pure, and with the crooked Thou dost show thyself subtle.'48 [Thereupon] he entrusted her [with certain identification] marks.49 While Leah was being led into [the bridal chamber] she50 thought, 'my sister will now be disgraced', [and so] she entrusted her [with] these very [marks]. And this accounts for the Scriptural text, And it came to pass in the morning that, behold, it was Leah,51 which seems to imply that until then she was not Leah! But, [this is the explanation]: On account of the [identification] marks which Jacob had entrusted to Rachel who had entrusted them to Leah, he knew not [who] she [was] until that moment.
Abba Halifa of Keruya enquired of R. Hiyya b. Abba: [With regard to those who entered Egypt with Jacob], Why do you find [the number] seventy in their total52 and [only] seventy minus one in their detailed enumeration?53 — He said unto him: A twin [sister] was [born] with Dinah; for it is written, With [eth] his daughter Dinah.54 But if so,55 was there [also] a twin [sister] with Benjamin, for it is written
Baba Bathra 123b
With [eth] Benjamin, his brother, his mother's son?1 — He said: I possessed a precious pearl2 and you seek to deprive me of it.3 Thus said4 R. Hama b. Hanina, 'It5 was Jochebed who was conceived on the way6 and born between the walls [of Egypt], for it is said, Who was born to Levi in Egypt,7 [which implies that] her birth was in Egypt but her conception was not in Egypt'.
R. Helbo enquired of R. Samuel b. Nahmani: It is written, And it came to pass, when Rachel had born Joseph etc.;8 why9 just when Joseph was horn? He replied to him: Jacob our father saw that Esau's seed would be delivered only into the hands of Joseph's seed for it is said, And the house of Jacob shall be a fire and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble etc.10
He pointed out to him the following objection: And David smote them from the twilight even unto the evening of the next day!11 — He replied to him: He who taught you the Prophets did not teach you the Writings,12 for it is written, As he went to Zicklag, there fell to him of Manasseh, Adnah and Jozabad and Jediael and Michael and Jozabad and Elihu, and Zillethai, captains of thousands that were of Manasseh.13
R. Joseph raised an objection; And some of them, even of the sons of Simeon, five hundred men, went to Mount Seir, having for their captains Palatiah and Neariah, and Raphaiah and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi. And they smote the remnant of the Amalekites that escaped, and dwelt there unto this day!14 — Rabbah b. Shila replied; Ishi descended from the sons of Manasseh, for it is written, And the sons of Manasseh were Hepher and Ishi.15
Our Rabbis taught: The firstborn son [of a priest] takes a double portion in the shoulder, and the [two] cheeks, and the maw,16 in consecrated objects and in the [natural] appreciation of an estate that accrued after the death of the father.17 How [is this to be understood]? — [If] their father had bequeathed to them a cow [that was] rented out to others [for half profit], or given on hire [at a fixed rate], or feeding in the meadow, and it gave birth to a firstling, he18 takes [in it] a double portion;19 but if they20 built houses or planted vineyards, the firstborn does not take [in them] a double portion.21
How is one to understand [the statement about] the shoulder, and the [two] cheeks, and the maw? If these were already in the possession22 of their father, [it is] obvious [that the firstborn is to take a double portion]; and if they were not already in the possession of their father, [at the time of his death], this [is a case of] prospective [property]23 and, [surely], a firstborn does not take [a double portion] in prospective [property] as [he does] in that which [was] in the [actual] possession [of his father at the time of his death]! — [The law], here, relates to the case where [the givers24 were] acquaintances of the priest,25 and [the beast] was [ritually] killed in the lifetime of the father;26 and [the Tanna] holds that the [priestly] gifts are regarded as [already] given,27 [even though] they have not [actually] been given.28
'Consecrated things' [surely], are not his!29 — [The law here relates to] consecrated objects of a minor degree and [it is] in accordance with [the view of] R. Jose the Galilean who holds that they30 are the property of the owner.31 For it was taught: And commit a trespass against the Lord [and deal falsely with his neighbour etc.]32 includes consecrated things of a minor degree which are the property of the owner33 — these are the words of R. Jose the Galilean. 'If their father had bequeathed to them a cow that was rented out to others [for half profit], or given on hire [at a fixed rate], or feeding in the meadow, and it gave birth to a firstling, he takes [in it] a double portion.' Since it was said that he takes [a double portion in the case of a cow that was] rented out or given on hire, though, [in both cases,] it is not standing in the domain of its owner, is there any need [to mention the case when] it feeds in the meadow?34 It is this that was [intended to be] taught: That one rented out or given on hire [is subject to] the same [law as] one that feeds in the meadow. As [in the case of the] one that feeds in the meadow, the appreciation [is such] as comes naturally, and they35 do not lose [the cost of its] food36
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