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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 121a

The appointed seasons of the Lord, were said [but] the weekly Sabbath1  was not said [unto them].2  Ben Azzai said: The appointed Seasons of the Lord were said, [but] the annulment of vows was not said [unto them].2

R. Jose b. Nathan3  studied this Baraitha and did not know [how] to explain it. Going after R. Shesheth to Nehardea and not finding him, he followed him to Mahuza [where] he found him. He said unto him: What [is meant by] 'the appointed seasons of the Lord were said [but] the weekly Sabbath,4  was not said [unto them]'? [The other] replied unto him: [This is the meaning:] The appointed seasons of the Lord5  require a proclamation by a court6  [but] the weekly Sabbath does not require proclamation by a court;7  for, it might have been assumed, since it8  was written9  near the appointed seasons,10  that it required a proclamation by the court as [do] the appointed seasons, [this,]11  therefore, had to be taught.

What [is meant by] 'the appointed seasons of the Lord were said [but] the annulment of vows was not said [unto them]'? — The [proclamation of the] appointed seasons of the Lord requires [a court of three] qualified mem12  [but] the annulment of vows does not require [three] qualified men.13  But, surely, it is written the heads of the tribes!14  — R. Hisda replied in the name of R. Johanan: [The text implies that annulment of vows may be performed] by one qualified man.15

We learnt elsewhere:16  R. Simeon b. Gamaliel said: Israel had no [other] festive days like the fifteenth of Ab and the Day of Atonement on which the daughters of Jerusalem went out in white garments, borrowed [for the occasion], so as not to shame those who possessed none [of their own].

One well understands why the Day of Atonement [should be such a festive occasion for it is] a day of pardon and forgiveness,17  [and it is also] a day on which the second Tabies18  were given, but what is [the importance of] the fifteenth of Ab? — Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: [It was] the day on which the tribes were allowed to intermarry with one another.19  What was their exposition?20  — This is the thing21  [implies] this thing shall only apply to this generation.22  Rabbah b. Bar Hana said in the name of R. Johanan: [It was] the day on which the tribe of Benjamin was allowed to enter the congregation. [This was for a time prohibited], for it is written, Now the men of Israel had sworn in Mizpah saying: 'There shall not any of us give his daughter unto Benjamin to wife.'23  What was their exposition?24  — 'Of us,'25  but not of our children.26  R. Dimi b. Joseph said in the name of R. Nahman: [It was] the day on which the dying in27  the wilderness had ceased;28  for a Master said: Before the dying in the wilderness had ceased

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Lit., 'Sabbath of the beginning', Heb. Shabbath Bereshith, [H] Saturday, the seventh day of the week, the weekly day of rest, is so called on account of its commemoration of the creation. Cf. Gen. II, 1-3.
  2. The explanation follows in the Gemara infra. V. also note 12.
  3. In Neda. 78a. The reading is R. Assi.
  4. V. p. 496, n. 8.
  5. I.e., the New Moons and Festivals.
  6. [H] lit., 'the sanctification of the house of law'. The calendar not having been fixed, the dates of the New Moons and Festivals were determined by the court in Jerusalem on the evidence of witnesses who saw the 'birth', [H] of the new moon. If the court was satisfied, after due investigation and cross-examining of witnesses, that the evidence was reliable, the New Moon, [H] was proclaimed, thus determining also the date of the festival which happened to fall in that month, since the Festivals always occurred, in accordance with the Biblical injunction, on the same day of the respective month.
  7. Sabbath has been divinely ordained and sanctified at the Creation (Gen. II, 3), and is not subject to the proclamation of a human court.
  8. The Sabbath.
  9. Lev. XXIII, 3.
  10. Ibid. vv. 4ff.
  11. That Sabbath 'was not said' unto them, i.e., that it required no human proclamation or sanctification.
  12. A lay Court of three, or one qualified expert (Mumhe, v. Glos.), has not the right to proclaim the New Moon.
  13. But a lay Court of three may annul vows. Beth Shammai, also, derives this law in the same way.
  14. Implying qualified men. How, then, can it be said that a lay Court of three may also annul vows?
  15. One qualified man of the 'heads of the tribes' has the same right as a court of three laymen. 'Heads of the tribes' does not mean a court of qualified men but qualified men acting individually.
  16. Ta'an. 26b.
  17. Cf. Lev. XVI, 29ff.
  18. Cf. Deut. X, 1ff. [According to a tradition preserved in the Seder 'Olam 6, Moses spent three periods of forty days and forty nights on the mount, beginning with the seventh Sivan, and ending on the tenth of Tishri when he came down on earth with the second Tables.]
  19. The prohibition on an heiress to marry into another tribe, in accordance with Num. XXXVI, 8, which requires an heiress to be 'wife unto one of the family of the tribe of her father', was removed. The prohibition was held to apply only to the generation of those who entered the land, and to lapse when the last of these had died.
  20. From what Scriptural text, and how, was it deduced that the prohibition was to lapse with the death of the first generation of those who entered the land?
  21. Num. XXXVI, 6.
  22. V. supra 120a.
  23. Judges XXI, 1.
  24. Whence was it derived that the tribe of Benjamin could again be permitted to enter the congregation?
  25. I.e., the prohibition, they maintained, applied to those only who had themselves taken the oath, since they specifically used the expression, 'of us'.
  26. The children, therefore, i.e., the daughters of those who took the oath, could be married to the men of Benjamin.
  27. Lit., 'the dead of'.
  28. Cf. Num. XIV, 35. The last of that generation had died prior to that day, and all the survivors were thus assured of entering the promised land.
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Baba Bathra 121b

there was no [divine] communication with Moses;1  for it is said, So it came to pass, when all the mem of war were consumed and dead from among the people, that the Lord spoke unto me saying,2  '[only then', said Moses] 'was there speaking3  to me'.4  'Ulla said: [It was] the day on which Hosea,5  son of Elah, removed the guards whom Jeroboam6  had placed on the roads to prevent Israel from making the pilgrimages to Jerusalem.7  R. Mattena said: [It was] the day on which the slain of Bether8  obtained [suitable] burial; for R. Mattena said [elsewhere]:9  On the day when the slain of Bether obtained burial [the benediction] 'who art kind and dealest kindly'10  was instituted at Jabneh11  'Who art kind' [was instituted] because they12  did not decompose;13  'and dealest kindly' [was instituted] because they obtained burial.

Both Rabbah and R. Joseph said: [It was] the day on which they ceased cutting wood for the altar.14

It was taught: R. Eliezer the Great said: As soon as the fifteenth of Ab arrived, the power of the sun weakened and they chopped no [more] wood for the altar.15  R. Manasseh said: They called it,16  'the day of the breaking of the axe.'17

From that [day]16  onwards, he who adds [from the night to the day]18  will [also] add [length of days and years for himself],19  [and he] who does not add [from the night to the day], decreases [his years].20  What [is meant by] 'decreases'? R. Joseph learnt: His mother will bury him.21

Our Rabbis taught: Seven [men] spanned22  [the life of] the whole world.23  [For] Methuselah saw Adam; Shem saw Methuselah, Jacob saw Shem; Amram saw Jacob; Ahijah the Shilonite saw Amram; Elijah saw Ahijah the Shilonite, and he24  is still alive.

And [did] Ahijah the Shilonite see Amram? Surely it is written, And there was not left a man of them, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun!25  — R. Hamnuna replied: The decree26  was not directed27  against the tribe of Levi;28  for it is written, Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness, and all that were numbered of you according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward;29  [this implies that a tribe] that was numbered from twenty years old and upward [came under the decree]; the tribe of Levi, [however], having been numbered30  from thirty years old, was excluded.

Did none of the [members of the] other tribes31  enter [the promised land]? Surely it was taught: Jair the son of Manasseh and Machir the son of Manasseh were 'born in the days of Jacob and did not die before Israel entered the [promised] land; for it is said, And the men of the Ai smote of them about thirty and six men,32  and it was taught33  'actually thirty six men' [these are] the words of R. Judah; R. Nehemiah, [however], said unto him: Was it said, 'thirty and six'? Surely it was said, about34  thirty and six! But this35  [must refer to] Jair the son of Manasseh who was equal to the greater part of the Sanhedrin!36  — But, said R. Aha b. Jacob, the decree37  was directed38  neither against one [who was] under twenty years of age, nor against [one who was] over sixty years of age. [It was directed] neither against [one] under twenty years of age' — for it is written, from twenty years old and upward;31  'nor against [one] over sixty years of age' — for 'and upward'39  is deduced from 'and upward'40  [in the section] of valuations,41  as there, [one] over sixty years of age is like [one] under twenty years of age,42  so here, one over sixty years of age is like one [who is] under twenty years of age.43

The question was raised: Was the land of Israel divided according to the [number of the] tribes,44  or was it, perhaps divided according to the [number of the] head[s] of the men?45

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. In the direct manner as described in Num. XII, 8: 'With him do I speak mouth to mouth, even manifestly, etc.' (Rashb.).
  2. Deut. II, 16f.
  3. V. supra n. 3.
  4. An annual festive day was, therefore, declared, to commemorate the divine reconciliation with Israel's leader.
  5. The last of the kings of Israel.
  6. Son of Nebat, the first of the kings of the divided kingdom of Israel. Cf. II Kings XVII, 2, on which this tradition is based.
  7. Pilgrimages were made on the occasion of the three great annual festivals, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles.
  8. [The town where in the rebellion of Bar Cochba, the Jews made their last stand against the Romans in 135 C.E.]
  9. Ber. 48b, Ta'an. 31a.
  10. The fourth of the benedictions of Grace after Meals.
  11. The religious centre and seat of the Sanhedrin after the destruction of Jerusalem.
  12. The corpses.
  13. [During the long period in which the slain were left lying in the open field, owing to Hadrian's decree forbidding their interment.]
  14. [H] lit., 'arrangement', i.e., the pile of wood arranged on the Temple altar.
  15. All wood for the altar had to be chopped during the period when the sun shone in full strength, i.e., from the month of Nisan to the fifteenth of Ab. Any wood chopped later than that period was considered unsuitable for the altar on account of the dampness in it which produced smoke and generated worms (v. Mid. 11, 5).
  16. The fifteenth of Ab.
  17. As there was no longer any immediate use for the tool.
  18. For the purpose of study. The days shorten and the hours of study would consequently diminish unless part of the night were also to be devoted to the same purpose.
  19. Cf. Prov. III, 2.
  20. The original contains a play upon the words 'add' and 'decrease' [H]
  21. I.e., he will die in the prime of life.
  22. Lit., 'folded'.
  23. The total length of their respective lives covered the entire period of the life of the human species.
  24. Elijah.
  25. Num. XXVII, 65. since Ahijah saw Amram, whether in Egypt or in the wilderness, he must have been, according to this verse, among those who died in the wilderness. How then could he have been living (cf. I K. XI, 29) in the days of Jeroboam?
  26. That all must die in the wilderness.
  27. Lit., 'decreed'.
  28. Ahijah was a Levite (cf. I Chron. XXVI, 20), hence he could enter the promised land.
  29. Num. XIV, 29.
  30. For the purpose of the Temple service. Cf. Num. IV, 23, 29, 35.
  31. Who came out of Egypt.
  32. Jos. VII, 5.
  33. San. 44a.
  34. Heb. Kisheloshim, [H] the [H] may signify, 'about' and also 'like', 'equal'.
  35. The expression 'about thirty and six'. V. previous note.
  36. The Sanhedrin having consisted of seventy-one men, thirty-six formed a majority. Now, since Ahijah was among those who came out of Egypt and also among those who entered Canaan, how could it be said that, besides the tribe of Levi, none of the members of the other tribes had entered the land?
  37. V. p. 500, n. 12.
  38. V. loc. cit. n. 13.
  39. Num. XIV, 29.
  40. Lev. XXVII, 7.
  41. Ibid. vv. 2ff.
  42. In both cases (under twenty and over sixty) the valuation is lower than that for the ages of twenty to sixty.
  43. As those under twenty were not subject to the penalty of the decree so were not those over sixty. Ahijah, even though he did not belong to the tribe of Levi, having been over sixty at the Exodus, was not subjected to the decree, and could, therefore, enter the land.
  44. Each tribe taking a twelfth of the land and, then, subdividing it in accordance with the number of its men.
  45. The entire land being divided into as many shares as there were men.
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