Talmud ‑ Mas. Sanhedrin 67a
. That is merely a mnemonical sign.1
MISHNAH. A MESITH IS A [SEDUCING] LAYMAN,2 AND HE WHO SEDUCES AN INDIVIDUAL3 SAYING, ‘THERE IS AN IDOL IN SUCH AND SUCH A PLACE; IT EATS THUS, IT DRINKS THUS, IT DOES SO MUCH GOOD AND SO MUCH HARM. FOR ALL WHOM THE TORAH CONDEMNS TO DEATH NO WITNESSES ARE HIDDEN TO ENTRAP THEM, EXCEPTING FOR THIS ONE. IF HE INCITED TWO [TO IDOLATRY], THEY THEMSELVES ARE WITNESSES AGAINST HIM, AND HE IS BROUGHT TO BETH DIN AND STONED. BUT IF HE ENTICED ONE, HE MUST REPLY, I HAVE FRIENDS WHO WISH TO DO SO LIKEWISE [COME AND PROPOSE IT TO THEM TOO].’ BUT IF HE WAS CUNNING AND DECLINED TO SPEAK BEFORE THEM, WITNESSES ARE HIDDEN BEHIND A PARTITION, WHILST HE WHO WAS INCITED SAYS TO HIM, MAKE YOUR PROPOSAL TO ME NOW IN PRIVATE. WHEN THE MESITH DOES SO, THE OTHER REPLIES, HOW SHALL WE FORSAKE OUR GOD IN HEAVEN TO GO AND SERVE WOOD AND STONES?’ SHOULD HE RETRACT, IT IS WELL. BUT IF HE ANSWERS, ‘IT IS OUR DUTY [TO WORSHIP IDOLS], AND IS SEEMLY FOR US, THEN THE WITNESSES STATIONED BEHIND THE PARTITION TAKE HIM TO BETH DIN, AND HAVE HIM STONED. IF HE SAYS, ‘I WILL WORSHIP IT’, OR, ‘I WILL GO AND WORSHIP’, OR, ‘LET US GO AND WORSHIP’; OR, ‘I WILL SACRIFICE [TO IT]’, ‘I WILL GO AND SACRIFICE’, ‘LET US GO AND SACRIFICE’; ‘I WILL BURN INCENSE, ‘I WILL GO AND BURN INCENSE’. ‘LET US GO AND BURN INCENSE’; ‘I WILL MAKE LIBATIONS TO IT’, ‘I WILL GO AND MAKE LIBATIONS TO IT , LET US GO AND MAKE LIBATIONS, ‘I WILL PROSTRATE MYSELF BEFORE IT’, ‘I WILL GO AND PROSTRATE MYSELF’. ‘LET US GO AND PROSTRATE OURSELVES’. (GUILT IS INCURRED).4
GEMARA. A MESITH IS A LAYMAN. Thus, only because he is a layman [is he stoned]; but if a prophet, he is strangled. WHO SEDUCES AN INDIVIDUAL: thus, only if he seduces an individual; but if a community, he is strangled. Hence, who is [the Tanna of] the Mishnah? — R. Simeon. For it has been taught: A prophet who entices [people to idolatry] is stoned; R. Simeon said: He is strangled.5 Then consider the second clause.6 A maddiah7 is one who says: ‘Let us go and serve idols’: whereon Rab Judah observed in Rab's name: This Mishnah teaches of those who lead astray a seduced city. Thus it agrees with the Rabbis [who maintain that these too are stoned, not strangled]. Hence, the first clause is taught according to R. Simeon; the second according to the Rabbis! — Rabina said: Both clauses are based on the Rabbis’ ruling, but proceed from the universally admitted to the disputed.8 R. Papa said: When the Mishnah states A MESITH IS A HEDYOT,9 it is only in respect of hiding witnesses.10 For it has been taught: And for all others for whom the Torah decrees death, witnesses are not hidden, excepting for this one. How is it done? — A light is lit in an inner chamber, the witnesses are hidden in an outer one [which is in darkness], so that they can see and hear him,11 but he cannot see them. Then the person he wished to seduce says to him, ‘Tell me privately what thou hast proposed to me’; and he does so. Then he remonstrates; ‘But how shall we forsake our God in Heaven, and serve idols’? If he retracts, it is well. But if he answers: ‘It is our duty and seemly for us’, the witnesses who were listening outside bring him to the Beth din, and have him stoned.12 MISHNAH. A MADDIAH IS ONE WHO SAYS, ‘LET US GO AND SERVE IDOLS’. A SORCERER, IF HE ACTUALLY PERFORMS MAGIC, IS LIABLE [TO DEATH]. BUT NOT IF HE MERELY CREATES ILLUSIONS.13 R. AKIBA SAID IN R. JOSHUA'S NAME: OF TWO WHO GATHER CUCUMBERS [BY MAGIC] ONE MAY BE PUNISHED AND THE OTHER EXEMPT: HE WHO REALLY GATHERS THEM IS PUNISHED: WHILST HE WHO PRODUCES AN ILLUSION IS EXEMPT.
GEMARA. Rab Judah said in Rab's name: This Mishnah teaches of those who lead astray a seduced city.14
A SORCERER, IF HE ACTUALLY PERFORMS MAGIC etc. Our Rabbis taught: [Thou shalt not suffer] a witch [to live]:15 this applies to both man and woman. If so, why is a [female] witch stated? — Because mostly women engage in witchcraft. How are they executed? — R. Jose the Galilean said: Here it is written, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live; whilst elsewhere is written, Thou shalt not suffer anything that breatheth to live.16 Just as there, the sword is meant, so here is the sword meant too. R. Akiba said: It is here stated, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live; whilst elsewhere it is said, [There shall not a hand touch it, but he shall surely be stoned, or shot through;] whether it be beast or man, it shall not live.17 Just as there, death by stoning is meant, so here too. R. Jose said to him, I have drawn an analogy between ‘Thou shalt not suffer to live’ written in two verses, whilst you have made a comparison between ‘Thou shalt not suffer to live’, and ‘It shall not live’. R. Akiba replied: I have drawn an analogy between two verses referring to Israelites, for whom the Writ hath decreed many modes of execution,18 whilst you have compared Israelites to heathens, in whose case only
(1) I.e., in both the reference is to something done for the first time: there to coition; here to profanation. But the similarity ceases at this point.
(2) Heb. hedyot. As opposed to a prophet.
(3) Heb. hedyot. But not a whole community. On the Heb. term hedyot, v. p 456, nn. 2 and 3.
(4) The seducer by using any one of those expressions incurs guilt and is executed; v. Rashi (supra, 61a) who refers it to the seduced person.
(5) V. infra 84a.
(6) I.e., the next Mishnah, which is really part of this.
(7) Who is stoned, as stated in the Mishnah on 53a, of which all the subsequent Mishnahs in this chapter are explanations.
(8) Lit., ‘nor only this, but that also).’ When the Mishnah states, [HE] WHO SEDUCES AN INDIVIDUAL, it is not intended to exclude a multitude, but merely to commence with the universally agreed law. Then the next Mishnah adds that the same applies to the seduction of a multitude, though this is not admitted by all.
(9) yuhsv , ** rendered in Mishnah, ‘LAYMAN’, also means ignorant, ignoble.
(10) I.e., hedyot is not used in the sense of a layman as opposed to a prophet, but in the sense of ignoble; so dastardly in his action, that he is not shewn the same consideration as other malefactors, but hidden witnesses are set to entrap him. There is no dispute between Rabina and R. Papa, both teaching that the two clauses agree with the Rabbis; but Rabina explains the phrase, ‘HE WHO SEDUCES AN INDIVIDUAL’, whilst R. Papa deals with ‘A MESITH IS A HEDYOT’.
(11) Otherwise, they could not testify.
(12) IN THE UNCENSORED EDITIONS OF THE TALMUD THERE FOLLOWS THIS IMPORTANT PASSAGE (supplied from D.S. on the authority of the Munich and Oxford Mss. and the older editions) ‘AND THIS THEY DID TO BEN STADA in Lydda (suk), and THEY HUNG HIM ON THE EVE OF PASSOVER. BEN STADA WAS BEN PADIRA. R. Hisda said: ‘The husband was Stada, the paramour Pandira. But was nor the husband Pappos b. Judah? — His mother's name was Stada. BUT HIS MOTHER WAS MIRIAM (Mary, the mother of Christ), A DRESSER OF WOMAN’S HAIR? (thab tksdn megaddela neshayia): — As they say in Pumbaditha, THIS WOMAN HAS TURNED AWAY (satath da) FROM HER HUSBAND, (i.e., COMMITTED ADULTERY).’ T. Herford, IN ‘CHRISTIANITY IN THE TALMUD’, pp. 37 seqq, 344 seqq, IDENTIFIES THIS BEN STADA WITH JESUS OF NAZARETH. As to the meaning of the name, he connects it with ** ‘seditious’, and suggests (p. 345 n.1) THAT IT ORIGINALLY DENOTED ‘THAT EGYPTIAN’ (Acts XXI 38, Josephus, Ant. XX, 8, 6) WHO CLAIMED TO BE A PROPHET AND LED HIS FOLLOWERS TO THE MOUNT OF OLIVES, WHERE HE WAS ROUTED BY THE PROCURATOR FELIX, and that in later times he might have been confused with Jeshua ha‑Notzri. This hypothesis, however, involves the disregard of the Talmudic data, for Pappos b. Judah lived a century after Jesus (Cit. 90a), though the mother's name, Miriam (Mary), would raise no difficulty, as thab tksdn megaddla neshayia may be the result of a confusion with Mary Magdalene (v. also Box, The Virgin Birth of Jesus, pp. 201f, for other possible meanings of Ben Stada and Ben Pandira) Derenbourg (Essai note 9, pp. 465‑471).
(13) I.e., the illusion of doing something, whereas in fact he does nothing.
(14) Cf. supra 53a.
(15) Ex. XXII, 17.
(16) Deut. XX, 17. This refers to the war of extermination against the seven races inhabiting Canaan before the Conquest by Joshua. They would naturally be killed by the sword.
(17) Ex. XIX, 13. This refers to the taboo placed upon Mount Sinai before the Theophany.
(18) And yet at Sinai stoning was chosen.