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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
MISHNAH. HE [THE REBELLIOUS ELDER] WAS EXECUTED NEITHER BY HIS LOCAL BETH DIN NOR BY THE BETH DIN AT JABNEH,4 BUT WAS TAKEN TO THE GREAT BETH DIN IN JERUSALEM AND KEPT THERE UNTIL THE [NEXT] FESTIVAL5 AND EXECUTED THEREON, FOR IT IS WRITTEN, 'AND ALL THE PEOPLE SHALL HEAR AND FEAR, AND DO NO MORE PRESUMPTUOUSLY:'6 THIS IS R. AKIBA'S OPINION. R. JUDAH SAID: HIS JUDGMENT MUST NOT BE DELAYED, BUT HE IS EXECUTED IMMEDIATELY, WHILST PROCLAMATIONS ARE INDITED AND SENT BY MESSENGERS TO ALL PLACES, 'SO AND SO HAS BEEN SENTENCED TO DEATH AT BETH DIN.'
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: He was executed neither by his local Beth din nor by the Beth din at Jabneh, but taken to the great Beth din in Jerusalem and kept there until the [next] Festival and executed thereon, for it is written, And all the people shall hear and fear: this is R. Akiba's opinion. But R. Judah said to him: Is it then stated, 'shall see and fear'? Only 'shall hear and fear' is stated, why then delay his sentence? But he is executed immediately, and a proclamation is written and sent to all places: 'So and so has been sentenced to death at Beth din.'
Our Rabbis taught: Public announcements must be made for four [malefactors]: a mesith, a 'stubborn and rebellious' son, a rebellious elder, and witnesses who were proved zomemim.7 In the case of all [others]8 it is written, And all the people, or, and all Israel; but in the case of witnesses proved zomemim it is written, And those which remain [shall hear and fear],9 since not all are eligible to be witnesses.10
MISHNAH. 'A FALSE PROPHET'; HE WHO PROPHESIES WHAT HE HAS NOT HEARD, OR WHAT WAS NOT TOLD TO HIM,11 IS EXECUTED BY MAN. BUT HE WHO SUPPRESSES HIS PROPHECY, OR DISREGARDS THE WORDS OF A PROPHET, OR A PROPHET WHO TRANSGRESSES HIS OWN WORD11 , — HIS DEATH IS AT THE HANDS OF HEAVEN. FOR IT IS WRITTEN, [AND IT SHALL COME TO PASS, THAT WHOSOEVER WILL NOT HEARKEN UNTO MY WORDS WHICH THE PROPHET SHALL SPEAK IN MY NAME.] I WILL REQUIRE IT OF HIM.12 HE WHO PROPHESIES IN THE NAME OF AN IDOL, SAYING, 'THUS HATH THE IDOL DECLARED. EVEN IF HE CHANCED UPON THE RIGHT HALACHAH, DECLARING THE UNCLEAN, UNCLEAN, OR THE CLEAN, CLEAN; OR HE WHO WAS INTIMATE WITH A MARRIED WOMAN AFTER HER ENTRY INTO HER HUSBAND'S HOME FOR NESU'IN,13 THOUGH THE MARRIAGE WAS NOT CONSUMMATED — HE IS STRANGLED; LIKEWISE [WITNESSES PROVED ZOMEMIM [IN A CHARGE OF ADULTERY AGAINST] A PRIEST'S DAUGHTER, AND HER PARAMOUR [ARE STRANGLED]. FOR ALL ZOMEMIM ARE LED FORTH TO MEET THE SELF-SAME DEATH [WHICH THEY SOUGHT TO IMPOSE,] SAVE ZOMEMIM IN A CHARGE AGAINST A PRIEST'S DAUGHTER — AND HER PARAMOUR.14
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught; Three are slain by man, and three by heaven; He who prophesies what he has not heard or what has not been told him, and he who prophesies in the name of an idol are slain by man. But he who suppresses his prophecy, or disregards the words of a prophet, and a prophet who transgresses his own words are slain by Heaven.
Whence do we know all this? — Rab Judah said in Rab's name: From the verse, But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name:15 this applies to one who prophesies what he has not heard;16 which I have not commanded him to speak,17 implying but which I did command his neighbour, hence means one who prophesies what was not told to him personally; or that shall speak in the name of other gods,18 this connotes prophesying in the name of idols. And then it is written, Even that prophet shall die,' and by every unspecified death sentence decreed in the Torah strangulation is meant. But he who suppresses his prophecy, or disregards the words of a prophet, or a prophet who transgresses his own words is slain by Heaven, for it is written, All it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken [yishma']:19 now this may be understood20 [as implying] to proclaim'21 and 'hearkening himself'22 unto my words;23 and the verse concludes, I will require it of him, i.e., [he shall be slain] by Heaven.
HE WHO PROPHESIES WHAT HE HAS NOT HEARD. E.g., Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, as it is written, And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah had made him horns of iron.24 But what [else] could he have done, seeing that the spirit of Naboth had deceived him, it is written, And the Lord said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead? … And there came forth a spirit and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him …And he [the Lord] said, Thou shalt persuade him and prevail also; go forth and do so?25 Rab Judah said: What is meant by 'Go forth'? 'Go forth' from My precincts.26 What 'spirit' is meant? — R. Johanan said: The spirit of Naboth the Jezreelite)?27 — He should have scrutinised [the forecasts of the assembled prophets]. even as R. Isaac said; viz.: The same communication28 is revealed to many prophets, yet no two prophets prophecy in the identical phraseology. [Thus,] Obadiah said, The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee;29 whilst Jeremiah said, Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride of thine heart.30 But since all these prophets31 employed [exactly] the same expression,32 it proved that they had nothing [really divinely inspired]. But perhaps he did not know of this [criterion laid down by] R. Isaac? — Jehoshopat was there and warned them thereof, as it is written , And Jehoshopat said, Is there not here a prophet of the Lord besides, that we may enquire of him?33 Thereupon he [Ahab] exclaimed, 'But behold all these!' 'I have a tradition from my grandfather's house that the same communication is revealed to many prophets, but no two prophesy in the identical phraseology,' replied Jehosophat.
HE WHO PROPHESIES WHAT WAS NOT TOLD HIM. E.g., Hananiah the son of Azur. Now Jeremiah stood in the upper market place, and said, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, Behold, I will break the bow of Elam.34 Thereupon, Hananiah the son of Azur drew an a minori conclusion; If Elam, which only came to assist Babylon, yet the Holy one, blessed be He, said, Behold, I will break the law of Elam; then how much more so the Chaldeans [i.e., Babylonians] themselves! So he went to the lower market place and proclaimed, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel saying, I have broken the yoke of the kingdom of Babylon.35 R. Papa asked Abaye; But this was not told even to his colleagues [viz., Jeremiah]? He answered: Since the a minori reasoning has been given for [Biblical] exegesis, it is as though it had been told to him [Jeremiah]; hence only to Hananiah was it not revealed.36
HE WHO PROPHESIES IN THE NAME OF AN IDOL. E.g., the prophets of Baal.
HE WHO SUPPRESSES HIS PROPHECY. E.g., Jonah the son of Amittai.37
OR WHO DISREGARDS THE WORDS OF A PROPHET. E.g., the colleague of Micah
Sanhedrin 89b[i.e., Micaiah, the son of Imlah] as it is written, And a certain man of the son of the prophets said unto his neighbour in the word of the Lord, Smite me I pray thee. And the man refused to smite him.1 And it is further written, And he said unto him, Because thou has not obeyed [the voice of the Lord, behold as soon as thou art departed from me, a lion shall slay thee etc.]2
OR A PROPHET WHO TRANSGRESSES HIS OWN WORDS. E.g., Iddo the prophet, as instanced by the following verses, [i] For so it was charged me by the word of the Lord [saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest].3 [ii] And he [the self-styled prophet] said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art [and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house that he may eat bread, and drink water].'4 [iii] So he went back with him; [iv] And when he was gone, a lion met him [by the way, and slew him].5
A tanna recited before R. Hisda; He who suppresses his prophecy is flogged. To which he retorted, 'One who eats dates out of a sieve is flogged!'6 Who then warned him?7 Abaye answered; His fellow prophets, Whence do they know? — Said Abaye; For it is written, Surely the Lord will do nothing but that he revealeth his secret [unto his servants the prophets].8 But perhaps they [sc. the Heavenly Court] repented thereof?9 — Had they repented, all prophets would have been informed. But in the case of Jonah they did repent, yet Jonah himself was not informed! — Jonah was originally told that Nineveh would be turned, but did not know whether for good or for evil.10
HE WHO DISREGARDS THE WORDS OF A PROPHET. But how does he know [that he is a true prophet], that he should be punished? — If he gives him a sign. But Micah did not give a sign, yet he [i.e., his colleague] was punished!11 — If he was well established [as a prophet], it is different. For should you not admit this, how could Isaac listen to Abraham at Mount Moriah,12 or the people hearken to Elijah at Mount Carmel and sacrifice without [the Temple]?13 Hence the case, where the prophet is well established is different.
And it came to pass after these words, that God did tempt Abraham.14 What is meant by 'after'? — R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Jose b. Zimra: After 'the words of Satan, as it is written, And the child grew, and was weaned: [and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned].15 Thereupon Satan said to the Almighty; 'Sovereign of the Universe! To this old man Thou didst graciously vouchsafe the fruit of the womb at the age of a hundred, yet of all that banquet which he prepared, he did not have one turtle-dove or pigeon to sacrifice before thee! Hath he done aught but in honour of his son!' Replied He, 'Yet were I to say to him, "Sacrifice thy son before Me", he would do so without hesitation.' Straightway, God did tempt Abraham … And he said, Take, I pray thee [na]16 thy son.17 R. Simeon b. Abba said; 'na' can only denote entreaty. This may be compared to a king of flesh and blood who was confronted by many wars, which he won by the aid of a great warrior. Subsequently he was faced with a severe battle. Thereupon he said to him, 'I pray thee, assist me in battle, that people may not say, there was no reality in the earlier ones.' So also did the Holy One, blessed be He, say unto Abraham, 'I have tested thee with many trials and thou didst withstand all. Now, be firm, for My sake in this trial, that men may not say, there was no reality in the earlier ones.
[But] I have two sons!
Thine only one.
Each is the only one of his mother!
Whom thou lovest.
I love them both!
And why all this [circumlocution]?18 — That his mind should not reel [under the sudden shock].
On the way Satan came towards him and said to him. 'If we assay to commune with thee, wilt thou be grieved? … Behold, thou hast instructed many, and thou hast strengthened the weak hands. Thy words have upholden him that was falling, and thou hast strengthened the feeble knees. But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest.'19 He replied, 'I will walk in mine integrity.'20 'But', said [Satan] to him, 'should not thy fear be thy confidence?21 'Remember', he retorted, 'I pray thee, whoever perished, being innocent?'22 Seeing that he would not listen to him, he said to him , 'Now' a thing was secretly brought to me:23 thus have I heard from behind the Curtain.24 "the lamb, for a burnt-offering25 but not Isaac for a burnt-offering."25 He replied, 'It is the penalty of a liar, that should he even tell the truth, he is not listened to.'
R. Levi said [in explanation of 'after these words']; After Ishmael's words to Isaac. Ishmael said to Isaac: 'I am more virtuous26 than thee in good deeds, for thou wast circumcised at eight days, [and so couldst not prevent it], but I at thirteen years'. 'On account of one limb wouldst thou incense me!' he replied: 'Were the Holy One, blessed be He, to say unto me, Sacrifice thyself before Me, I would obey', Straightway, God did tempt Abraham.
Our Rabbis taught; A prophet who seduced [people to idolatry] is stoned; R. Simeon said; He is strangled. The seducers of a seduced city are stoned; R. Simeon said: They are strangled. 'A prophet who seduced is stoned'. What is the reason of the Rabbis? — Similarity of law is learnt from the employment of 'seduction' here and in the case of a mesith:27 just as there execution is by stoning, so here too. But R. Simeon maintained: [Simple] death is provided for in this case,28 and by every unspecified death sentence in the Torah strangulation is meant.
'The seducers of a seduced city are executed by stoning'. What is the reason of the Rabbis? — Similarity of law is learnt from the employment of 'seduction' here and in the case of either a mesith or a prophet who seduced.29 But R. Simeon maintained: similarity of law is learned from the employment of 'seduction' here and in the case of a prophet who seduced.30 But let us rather deduce it from mesith?31 — An analogy is drawn between two who incite a multitude, and not between one who incites a multitude and another who seduces an individual.32 On the contrary, should not an analogy be drawn between two laymen, rather than between a layman and a prophet? — R Simeon maintains, since he seduced, no man is more of a layman than he.33
R. Hisda said:
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