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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Baba Bathra

Folio 122a

— Come and hear: [According to the lot shall their inheritance be divided] whether many1  or few.2  Furthermore it was taught: The land of Israel will in time to come be divided between thirteen tribes; for at first3  it was only divided among twelve tribes and was divided only according to monetary [values],4  as is said, whether many or few.5  R. Judah said: A se'ah in Judaea is worth five se'ah in Galilee.6  And it was only divided by lot, for it is said, Not with standing [the land shall be divided] by lot.7  And it was only divided by [the direction] of] the Urim and Tumim.8  for it is said, According to the speaking9  of the lot;10  how [could] this [be done]?11  — Eleazar was wearing the Urim and Tumim, while Joshua and all Israel stood before him. An urn [containing the names] of the [twelve] tribes, and an urn containing descriptions] of the boundaries were placed before him. Animated by the Holy Spirit, he gave directions, exclaiming: 'Zebulun' is coming up and the boundary lines of Acco are coming up with it. [Thereupon], he shook well the urn12  of the tribes and Zebulun came up in his hand. [Likewise] he shook well the urn of the boundaries and the boundary lines of Acco came up in his hand. Animated again by the Holy Spirit, he gave directions, exclaiming: 'Naphtali' is coming up and the boundary lines of Gennesar13  are coming up with it. [Thereupon] he shook well the urn of the tribes and Naphtali came up in his hand. He, [likewise], shook well the box of the boundaries, and the boundary lines of Gennesar came up in his hand. And [so was the procedure with] every [other] tribe. And the division in the world to come will not be like the division in this world. [In] this world, [should] a man possess a cornfield14  he does not possess an orchard; [should he possess] an orchard he does not possess a cornfield, [but] in the world to come15  there will he no single individual who will not possess [land] in mountain, lowland and valley; for it is said, The gate of Reuben one; the gate of Judah one; the gate of Levi one.16  The Holy One, blessed be He, Himself, [will] divide it among them; for it is said, And these are their portions saith the Lord God'.17  At all events, it was taught [here] that, at first, [the land] was only divided among twelve tribes, [from which it] may be inferred that the division was in accordance with [the number of] the tribes. This proves it.

The Master has said, 'The land of Israel will in time to come be divided among thirteen tribes'. For whom is that [extra portion]? — R. Hisda said: For the prince;18  for it is written, And he that serves the city,19  they out of all the tribes of Israel, shall serve him.20  R. Papa said to Abaye: Might it21  not be said [to refer] merely [to] public service?22  — This cannot be assumed at all,23  for it is written, And the residue shall be for the prince. On the one side and on the other, of the holy offering and of the possession of the city.24

'And it was divided only according to monetary [values], as it is said, Whether many or few'. In what [respect]?25  If it be suggested [that compensation was to be given in respect of lands] of superior and inferior quality,26  [it could he retorted,] 'Are we discussing fools'?27  — But, [this is the explanation, in respect] of [an estate that was] near and [one that was distant.28  [This29  is] in accordance with [the opinion of one of the following] Tannaim: R. Eliezer said: Compensation30  was given in money. R. Joshua said: Compensation was given in land.

And it was only divided by lot, for it is said, Notwithstanding [the land shall be divided] by lot'. A Tanna taught; 'Notwithstanding … by lot'; Joshua and Caleb being excluded. In what [respect]?31  If it be suggested that they did not take [any portion] at all, [it might be retorted], 'if32  they took [that] which was not theirs33  could there be any question [as to whether they should take] what was theirs? — But [this means], that they did not receive [their shares] by lot but by the command of the Lord. 'Joshua'.34  — for it is written, According to the commandment of the Lord they gave him the city which he asked, even Timnath-serah in the hill country of Ephraim.35

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. I.e., whether the tribe consists of many individuals.
  2. Num. XXVI, 56. Few, is taken to refer to a small tribe. Since scripture directs the distribution of equal shares to all tribes, the land must have been divided 'according to the number of tribes', and not 'according to the number of individuals'. It will be noted that the rendering of [H] adopted in the Gemara, slightly differs from that in E.V.
  3. When the promised land was entered.
  4. This is at present assumed to mean that the one who received a share in which the land was worth more than the land of equal size in another share, had to pay the difference so as to equalise their respective monetary values.
  5. Ibid. This implies that the shares must in all cases be equal in value.
  6. R. Judah illustrates by example the meaning of 'according to monetary values.' [Cf. Josephus, Antiquities, V, 1-21: … Joshua thought the land for the tribes should be divided by estimation of its goodness … it often happening that one acre of some sort of land was equivalent to a thousand other acres.]
  7. Ibid. v. 55.
  8. V. Glos.
  9. [H] lit., 'mouth', i.e., 'by the word of God'.
  10. Ibid. 56.
  11. If by lot, why the Urim and Tumim? If by the latter what was the use of the former?
  12. So Rashb. Rashi renders, 'he hastily took up a (ballot).'
  13. Gennesareth, from the Heb. Kinnereth, [H] a district in Galilee named after the lake of the same name.
  14. Lit., 'a field of white.' V. supra 28a.
  15. I.e., the Messianic era.
  16. Ezek. XLVIII, 31, implying that all will have shares equal in all respects, even in the city of Jerusalem itself.
  17. Ezek. XLVIII, 29. God himself will, thus, allot to each one his share.
  18. The King.
  19. I.e., the prince whose duty it is to serve the interests, and to provide for the wellbeing of his subjects.
  20. Ezek. XLVIII, 19. Serve him, is interpreted to mean 'providing him with a share in the land'.
  21. The verse from Ezekiel quoted.
  22. Which subjects render to their chief. [Or, 'as day-labourer'. Levy, s.v. [H], v. Fleischer's note, a.l.]. What proof, then, is there for the statement that the prince was given a special share in the land?
  23. Lit., 'it does not enter your mind.
  24. Ezek. XLVIII, 21.
  25. Was it necessary to state that compensation was given.
  26. That the possessor of the better quality had to pay compensation to him who received the inferior quality.
  27. What man in his senses would consent to take a portion in an inferior soil without getting compensation from him who obtained a portion in a soil of better quality. What need, then is there to state such and obvious thing?
  28. Though equality in the distribution was obtained by giving larger portions of inferior soil against smaller portions of superior soil, further compensation was paid, by those who obtained land nearer to Jerusalem, to those whose lands were further away. The nearer an estate was to Jerusalem the higher was its value.
  29. The view that compensation for distance was paid with money.
  30. V. previous note. Lit., they brought it up'.
  31. Were they excluded.
  32. Lit., 'now/.
  33. The portion of the spies etc. V. supra 118b.
  34. What evidence is there that Joshua received his share by the command of the Lord and not by lot?
  35. Josh. XIX, 50.
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Baba Bathra 122b

It is written, serah1  and it is [also] written, heres!2  — R. Eleazar said: At first,3  its fruits [were as dry] as a potsherd4  and afterwards5  its fruits emitted all offensive odour.6  Others say: at first3  they emitted an offensive odour7  and afterwards8  [they were as dry] as a potsherd.9  'Caleb?10  — for it is written. And they gave Hebron unto Caleb, as Moses had spoken; and he drove out thence the three sons of Anak.11  Was [not] Hebron a city of refuge?12  Abaye replied: Its suburbs [were given to Caleb], for it is written, But the fields of the city, and the villages thereof, gave they to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for his possession.13


GEMARA. What [is meant by] BOTH A SON AND A DAUGHTER HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS OF SUCCESSION? If it is suggested that [the meaning is that] they have equal status in heirship. Surely, [it may be retorted], we have learnt, 'a son takes precedence over a daughter [and] all lineal descendants of a son take precedence over a daughter!16  — R. Nahman b. Isaac replied: It is this that was meant: Both a son and a daughter17  [are equally entitled to] take [their shares] in a prospective [estate of the deceased] as in that which is in [his] possession [at the time of his death]. Surely, we have learnt18  this also; 'The daughters of Zelophehad took three shares in the inheritance [of Canaan]: The share of their father who was of those who came out of Egypt, and his share among his brothers in the possessions of Hepher'!19  Furthermore, what [is the force of] EXCEPT?20  — But, said R. Papa, it is this that was meant: Both a son and a daughter21  [are entitled to] take the [prospective] portion of the birthright [of their father]. Surely, we have learnt22  this also: 'Since he was a firstborn son [who] takes two shares'!23  Furthermore, what [is the force of] EXCEPT?20  — But, said R. Ashi, it is this that was meant: [As regards] both, a son [of the deceased] among [his other] sons and a daughter24  among [his other] daughters, if [the deceased] had said, 'he [or she]25  shall inherit all my property', his instruction is legally valid.26  Whose view is here represented?27  [Is it not that] of28  R. Johanan b. Beroka? Surely that is [specifically] taught further on:29  R. Johanan b. Beroka said: If [a person] said [it]30  concerning one who is entitled to be his heir. his instruction is legally valid; [if, however, he said it] concerning one who is not entitled to be his heir, his instruction is not valid!31  And if it is suggested [that] it was [desired] to state [the law] anonymously, [to show] agreement with [the view of] R. Johanan b. Beroka,32  [surely, it may be pointed out, this is a case of] an anonymous statement followed by33  a dispute,34  and [wherever] an anonymous statement [is] followed by a dispute the law is not [decided] in accordance with the anonymous statement!35  Furthermore, what [is the force of] EXCEPT?36  But, said Mar son of R. Ashi, it is this that was meant: Both a son and, [in the absence of a son], a daughter [have] equal [rights of succession] in the estate of a mother and in the estate of a father, except37  that a son takes a double portion in the estate of his father38  and he does not take a double portion in the estate of his mother.

Our Rabbis taught: Giving him39  a double portion,40  [implies] twice as much as [any] one [of the others receive].41  You said 'Twice as much as [any] one [of the others]'; is it not possible42  [that our Mishnah] does not [mean this] but 'a double portion in all the estate'?43  — But this44  may be deduced by logical reasoning:

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Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Ibid.
  2. Judges I, 35. Why is the place called both serah and heres?
  3. Before it came into the possession of Joshua.
  4. Heb. [H]
  5. When the place passed over to Joshua.
  6. [H] (from root, [H] Hiph., 'to produce an offensive odour'). The fruits were so juicy that decay set in early.
  7. And could not, therefore, be preserved. V. previous note.
  8. V. p. 504, n. 15.
  9. V. p. 504, n. 14. As they were not so juicy they could be preserved for a long time.
  10. Whence is it proved that Caleb did not receive his share by lot but at the command of the Lord?
  11. Judges I, 20.
  12. Which belonged to the priests (v. Josh. XXI, 13). How, then, could it be given to Caleb who was of the tribe of Judah?
  13. Josh. XXI, 12.
  14. V. infra 119b, under what conditions.
  15. It is not the duty of a mother to provide for her daughters.
  16. Supra 115a.
  17. In the absence of a son and any of his lineal descendants.
  18. Supra 116b.
  19. Since Hepher was not in possession of his share in the land at the time of his death and yet it was given to his son, Zelophehad, and through him to his daughters, it is obvious that both sons and daughters are entitled as much to the prospective property of their parents as to that which is already in their possession. Why, then, was it necessary to repeat this law in our Mishnah?
  20. What is the antithesis? The first part of the Mishnah speaks of the equality of a son and a daughter, and the second part speaks of the difference (not between a son and a daughter but) between the the estates of a mother and a father!
  21. In the absence of a son and any of his heirs.
  22. V. supra 116b.
  23. And not having left a son, this prospective double portion was given to his daughters. Why, then, should this law have to be stated again?
  24. V. supra n. 3.
  25. pointing out one of his heirs.
  26. Because a person has a right to transmit all his property to any one individual of his legal heirs. He cannot, however, transmit his estate to a daughter when a son or his heirs are alive. Since the latter have the first legal claim as heirs to his estate, and one has no right to dispose of his bequests (unless in the manner of a gift) except accordance with the laws of succession.
  27. Lit., 'like whom'.
  28. Lit., 'like'.
  29. Infra 130a.
  30. That all his estate shall be inherited by one person only.
  31. Why, then, should our Mishnah teach by implication what was specifically taught elsewhere?
  32. Since the law is always in agreement with the anonymous Mishnah, the Editor may have desired in this way, to indicate that the law is in agreement with the views of R. Johanan.
  33. Lit., 'and after that'.
  34. Between R. Johanan and the Rabbis.
  35. What, then, is the object of our Mishnah?
  36. V. p. 506, n. 2.
  37. The force of 'except' is that while in the previous case there is equality in the loss' between the estate of a father and that of a mother, in the following case there is a difference between these two kinds of estate.
  38. While a daughter is not entitled to a double portion even in the absence of a son.
  39. The firstborn.
  40. Deut. XXI, 17.
  41. The estate is divided according to the number of brothers plus one, and the firstborn takes two such shares.
  42. Lit. 'or'.
  43. Two thirds of the estate for the firstborn, and one third for all the others.
  44. That the firstborn takes only twice as much as any one of the others.
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