Previous Folio / Sotah Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site

Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sotah

Folio 28a

that if there be sin in him1  the water proves him, [it may be asked] should there be sin in him on his own account does the water prove her for her own sin, and behold it has been taught: And the man shall be free from iniquity, and that woman shall bear her iniquity,2  i.e., so long as the husband is free from iniquity the water proves his wife, but if the husband is not free from iniquity the Water does not prove his wife! — Should [the Mishnah, on the other hand, refer] to the paramour, it should have used the same phraseology as in the continuation, viz., 'Just as she is prohibited to the husband so is she prohibited to the paramour'!3  — It certainly refers to the paramour; but in the first clause since it uses the word 'HER' it uses the word HIM and in the continuation since it used the word 'HUSBAND' it used the word 'PARAMOUR.'

AS IT IS SAID 'AND SHALL ENTER' TWICE. The question was asked: Does [the teacher in the Mishnah] mean 'shall enter and shall enter' or 'and shall enter and shall enter'?4  — Come and hear: JUST AS SHE IS PROHIBITED TO THE HUSBAND SO IS SHE PROHIBITED TO THE PARAMOUR; AS IT IS SAID, DEFILED … AND IS DEFILED.5  But it is still questionable whether [the teacher in the Mishnah] draws the conclusion from the repetition of 'defiled' or from the conjunction in 'defiled … and is defiled'! — Come and hear: Since he states in the continuation, RABBI SAYS: THE WORD DEFILED OCCURS TWICE IN THE SCRIPTURAL PORTION, ONE REFERRING TO THE HUSBAND AND THE OTHER TO THE PARAMOUR, it follows that it is R. Akiba who expounds the conjunction 'and'. Consequently for R. Akiba there are six texts [containing the phrase 'and shall enter']6  — one for the command regarding her7  and one for the command regarding him;8  one for the action regarding her and one for the action regarding him;9  one for the notification10  regarding her and one for the notification regarding him. For Rabbi,11  on the other hand, there are three texts — one for the command, one for the action and one for the notification.12  But whence does Rabbi derive the teaching: JUST AS THE WATER PROVES HER SO THE WATER PROVES HIM? — He derives it from [the following teaching]: For it has been taught: And make the belly to swell and the thigh to fall away,13  i.e., the belly and thigh of the paramour. You say it is the belly and thigh of the paramour; perhaps it is not so, but the belly and thigh of the adulteress! Since it is stated and her belly shall swell and her thigh shall fall away,14  here it is clearly the belly and thigh of the adulteress which are referred to; so how am I to explain 'and make the belly to swell and the thigh to fall away'? It refers to the belly and thigh of the paramour. And the other?15  — It indicates that the priest informs her that [the water] affects the belly first and then the thigh so as not to discredit the water of bitterness.16  And the other?17  — If that were so, It should have been written 'her belly and her thigh'; what means 'belly and thigh' [without specification]? Conclude that the reference is to the paramour. But am I to suppose that [the phrase without specification] is intended only for this?18  — If that were so, it should have been written 'his belly and his thigh'; what means 'belly and thigh'? Draw two inferences therefrom.19

R. JOSHUA SAID, THUS USED ZECHARIAH etc. Our Rabbis taught: Why is it mentioned three times in the Scriptural portion if she be defiled,20  she be defiled,21  and she is defiled?22  One [to make her prohibited] to the husband, one to the paramour, and one for partaking of the heave-offering. This is the statement of R. Akiba. R. Ishmael said: It is an a fortiori conclusion; if a divorced woman,23  who is allowed to partake of the heave-offering, is prohibited [to marry into] the priesthood, how much more must a woman who is prohibited from partaking of the heave-offering24  be prohibited [to marry into] the priesthood!25  For what purpose26  is it stated and she be defiled … and she be not defiled?27  If she be defiled, why should she drink; and if she be not defiled, why does he make her drink! Scripture informs you that in a doubtful case she is prohibited. From this you can draw an analogy [with respect to the defilement caused] by a creeping thing:28  if in the case of a suspected woman, where the effect is not the same should the act be in error or in presumption, under compulsion or of free will,29  there is the consequence [of being prohibited] when there is a doubt as when there is certainty; how much more so must there be the consequence [of defilement] in a case of doubt as in a case of certainty with a creeping thing where the effect is the same whether [the contact was] in error or in presumption, or whether it was under compulsion or of free will!

To Part b

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. By having cohabited with her after she had secluded herself with the other man.
  2. Nun. V, 31.
  3. And state, 'so the water proves the paramour'.
  4. I.e., is the inference drawn from the redundant and or from the repetition of the word?
  5. Similarly in the first clause the deduction is drawn from the redundant and.
  6. In verses 22. 24 and 27, the conjunction 'and' duplicating each.
  7. verse 24, where God decreed that the water should have the effect of proving her.
  8. The paramour.
  9. verse 27, where the assurance is given that the water would take effect.
  10. Of the priest, in verse 22.
  11. Who draws no conclusion from 'and'.
  12. As regards the woman only in each instance.
  13. Num. V, 22. The pronoun 'thy' in the E.V. does not occur in the Hebrew. Therefore the reference is taken to be the paramour.
  14. Ibid. 27.
  15. I.e., how does R. Akiba explain the phrase 'and make the belly etc.'?
  16. V. supra 9b.
  17. How does Rabbi meet this argument?
  18. To teach that it refers to the paramour.
  19. That it refers to the paramour and also that it indicates the order in which the effect of the water is felt.
  20. Num. V, 27.
  21. Ibid. 14.
  22. Ibid. 29.
  23. Viz., a priest's daughter who had been married to a non-priest, v. Lev. XXII, 13.
  24. Because of suspected adultery.
  25. This will be explained anon.
  26. The exposition that follows is independent of the preceding.
  27. Num. V, 14.
  28. Viz., when it is doubtful whether defilement has been caused.
  29. If the woman acted in error or under force, she does not undergo the ordeal.
Tractate List / Glossary / / Bible Reference

Sotah 28b

And from the position you have taken up1  [proceed to draw the following deductions]: As [the case of doubt in connection with] the suspected woman can only occur in a private domain [where seclusion takes place],2  so [the case of doubt in connection with] a creeping thing can only occur [when the contact takes place] in a private domain.3  And as [the case in connection with] a suspected woman is a matter where there is a rational being to be interrogated,4  so [in the case of doubt in connection with] a creeping thing it must be a matter where there is a rational being to be interrogated.5  Hence [the Rabbis] said: Where there is a rational being to be interrogated, should a doubtful [case of defilement] occur in a private domain it is regarded as unclean, but should it occur in a public place as clean; and when there is no rational being to be interrogated whether it occurs in a private domain or in a public place a doubtful [case of defilement] is regarded as clean.6

R. Akiba dealt above with [the woman being prohibited to partake] of the heave-offering, and R. Ishmael answers him with a statement about the priesthood!7  And further, whence does R. Akiba derive [the rule that the suspected woman cannot marry into] the priesthood? Should you answer that with reference to [this rule about] the priesthood a Scriptural text is not necessary,

- To Next Folio -

Original footnotes renumbered. See Structure of the Talmud Files
  1. Viz., drawing the above analogy.
  2. As distinct from a public place.
  3. If the doubt occurred about contact in a public place, there is no defilement.
  4. As to whether she had misconducted herself or not.
  5. There must have been a person present who can be questioned about the probability of the contact having taken place.
  6. Thus the end of the cited Baraitha.
  7. Into which an adulteress cannot marry. The reply was quite irrelevant to the issue.
Tractate List / Glossary / / Bible Reference