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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 104a

AND HE GAVE [HIM] LESS, [EVEN IF ONLY BY] A FRACTION, [AN EQUAL SUM] IS TO BE DEDUCTED [FROM THE PRICE]. [IF] HE GAVE MORE, [EVEN IF ONLY BY] A FRACTION, IT IS TO BE RETURNED [TO HIM]. Thus [it is to be inferred that] had not [the expression 'measured by the rope'] been explicitly used [it would have been] just the same as if [the expression] 'more or less' [had been actually used]. Explain. [however], the concluding clause [which reads]: IF, HOWEVER, HE SAID, 'MORE OR LESS', THE SALE IS VALID EVEN IF HE GAVE [AT THE RATE OF] A QUARTER OF A KAB PER SE'AH LESS OR MORE. Thus [it is to be inferred that] had not [the expression, more or less'] been explicitly used [it would have been] just the same as if [the expression], 'measured by the rope' [had actually been used]! But, [one must conclude, that] nothing may be deduced from this [Mishnah].

Come and hear! [It has been taught: If a man says to another:] 'I sell you a beth kor of arable land', [or] 'I sell you about a beth kor of arable land' [or] 'I sell you [etc] more or less', the sale is valid even if he gave [at the rate of] a quarter [of a Rab] per se'ah less or more. This clearly proves that even when nothing1  had been specified it is the same as [if the expression]. 'more or less' [had been used]! That [supplies no proof; for it] is an explanatory statement [implying] the following: In which case is [the expression] a beth kor' regarded as [the expression] 'about a beth kor'? When one said to the other, 'more or less'.

R. Ashi demurred to this: If so,2  for what purpose is the expression. 'I sell you.' [thrice] repeated? Consequently, the deduction may be made that even when nothing1  had been specified it is the same as [if the expression], 'more or less' [had been used]. This proves it.

WHAT IS [THE BUYER] TO RETURN TO HIM? — THE MONEY etc. Does this [Mishnah] imply that we are to look after the interests of the seller and not after those of the buyer? Surely it has been taught: [If the land purchased was by] seven kab and a half per kor3  less, or by seven kab and a half per kor3  more [than the area agreed upon], the sale is valid. [If the surplus is] greater than this, the seller is compelled to sell and the buyer to buy!4  — There5  we deal with the case where land was first6  dear and is now7  cheap. [In such a case] the seller is told, 'If you [wish to] give him the land,8  give [it] to him at the present cheaper9  rate'. But has it not been taught: When he gives it10  to him, it must be at the rate at which he had bought of him? — That refers to the case where it was first cheap and is now dear.11

IF, THEREFORE. THERE WAS A SURPLUS IN THE FIELD OF AN AREA OF NINE KAB, etc. R. Huna said: The [law of] nine kab spoken of12  [applies] even in [the case of] a large valley.13  But R. Nahman said: Seven kab and a half must be allowed for every Kor,14

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. I.e., neither 'measured by the rope' nor 'more or less'.
  2. That, in the statement quoted, one part is explanatory to the other.
  3. I.e., 1/24, v. Mishnah, n. 4.
  4. This shows that the seller has no advantage over the buyer.
  5. Where the seller is compelled to sell.
  6. When the sale was arranged.
  7. When the argument about the surplus is taking place.
  8. The surplus.
  9. While the seller may re-claim, or compel the buyer to purchase the surplus land, the seller, once he had decided to sell, may be compelled by the buyer to take the lower price prevailing at the time.
  10. I.e., the deficiency of land.
  11. In which case the buyer cannot be charged for the deficiency of land a higher price than the one prevailing at the time of the purchase.
  12. In our Mishnah, according to which such an area must be returned to the seller.
  13. Provided there was a surplus of nine kab, the area of the sold field does not matter. However large it may be, the surplus of nine kab or more must be returned, since such a surplus may be regarded as an independent field.
  14. Whether the surplus is returnable or not depends on its proportion to the area of the field sold. If the surplus is no more than seven and a half kab per kor = 1/4 kab per se'ah = 1/24 of the area of the field, it need not be returned, however large that surplus may be. The larger the field the larger the surplus allowed.
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Baba Bathra 104b

and if there is a surplus1  amounting to nine kab it is to be returned. Raba raised [the following] objection against R. Nahman: IF, THEREFORE, THERE WAS A SURPLUS IN THE FIELD OF AN AREA OF NINE KAB. [Does] not [this refer even to the case] where two kor were2  sold?3  No; [only] when one kor4  was sold. [But the Mishnah further stated:] AND IN A GARDEN, AN AREA OF HALF A KAB; [does] not [this refer even to the case] where two se'ah5  were sold? — No; [only] where one se'ah was sold. [But the Mishnah also states]: AND, ACCORDING TO R. AKIBA, A QUARTER OF A KAB; [does] not this [refer even to the case] where a se'ah6  was sold? — No; [only] when half a se'ah was sold.

R. Ashi inquired: What [is the proportion allowed in the case of] a field which was converted7  into a garden, or a garden which was converted into a field?8  — The matter is undecided.

It has been taught: If [the field sold] adjoined [another] field of his,9  even if [the surplus10  was] ever so little,11  the land must be returned.12  R. Ashi inquired:13  Does a [water] cistern form a division?14  [If not,]15  does a water canal16  form a division? [If not,] does a public road17  form a division? Does a nursery of young inoculated palm-trees form a division? — The matter is undecided.

NOT ONLY THE QUARTER IS TO BE RETURNED BUT ALL THE SURPLUS. Is not18  the order reversed?19  Rabin, son of R. Nahman, has taught:20  [The Mishnah implies this]: Not only is the surplus21  to be returned but [also] all the quarters.22


Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Above a twenty-fourth of the area of the field.
  2. Since the extent of the area is not indicated.
  3. An area of nine kab in two kor is less than a twenty-fourth, and yet it is to be returned; how, then, can R. Nahman say that a twenty-fourth is allowed?
  4. There was no need to specify this area, since earlier in the Mishnah it was mentioned that an area of one kor was being dealt with.
  5. The proportion of a half a kab to two se'ah is a twenty-fourth, and yet it is to be returned, which is in contradiction to the law laid down by R. Nahman. Cf. supra note 2.
  6. A quarter of a kab is a twenty-fourth of a se'ah. V. previous note and supra note 2.
  7. By the buyer.
  8. Is it to be regarded a field or a garden in respect of the laws of surplus?
  9. I.e., the seller's.
  10. In excess of the surplus of a twenty-fourth of the area sold.
  11. I.e., although it does not amount to nine kab.
  12. To the seller, because he can make use of it by joining the surplus strip to his other field. The buyer, therefore, cannot be compelled to purchase that strip.
  13. Cf. supra 83b.
  14. Between the surplus of the field sold and the adjoining field of the seller.
  15. Because the water is not exposed.
  16. Where the water is exposed.
  17. Sixteen cubits in width.
  18. [H] or [H]. The first word may be rendered 'towards' (… [H] and [H]); the second, read [H] is rendered 'whither', Rashi.; or [H] 'tail' (cf. [H]), Jast. The literal meaning of the phrase is accordingly either 'towards where?' or 'towards the tail?'
  19. The expression used in the Mishnah, 'Not only the quarter etc.', implies that the law previously given was that the quarter had to be returned and not the surplus above it, while, in fact, the Mishnah had stated the law to be that the quarter was not to be returned.
  20. Supra 94b.
  21. Over and above the one twenty-fourth of the area, which is otherwise allowed.
  22. Of a kab per se'ah, or one twenty-fourth of the area sold. Once the twenty-fourth which is allowed has been exceeded, all (the 1/24 and the surplus over and above it) must be returned.
  23. V. Mishnah supra 203b.
  24. The second condition is always regarded as the valid one. It cancels, therefore, the first.