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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
1 who is like him, [the blasphemer] in every respect. 'Whilst R. Eliezer employs [the rule of] extension and limitation.' [Thus:] And if he be put to death then thou shalt hang him is an [indefinite] extension; for he is hanged because of a curse … is a limitation. Now, had these two clauses been placed beside each other, we should have extended the law only to an idolater, who is similar to him in every respect. Since, however, they are separated from each other, it has the effect of extending [the law] to all who are stoned.2
A MAN IS HANGED etc. What is the Rabbis' reason? — Scripture states, then the shalt hang him — 'him',3 but not her.4 And R. Eliezer?5 — 'Him' implies without his clothes. And the Rabbis?6 — [They admit that] that indeed is so; but Scripture says, And if a man have committed a sin,7 implying, a man, but not a woman. And R. Eliezer, — how does he interpret the words, And if a man have committed? — Resh Lakish answered: As excluding a stubborn and rebellious son8 [from that mode of execution]. But has it not been taught: A stubborn and rebellious son is stoned and [afterwards] hanged: so says R. Eliezer? — But, said R. Nahman b. Isaac: [He interprets it] as including a stubborn and rebellious son. How so?9 — Scripture says, As if a man has committed a sin — 'a man,' but not a son; 'a sin' implies one who is executed for his [present] sin, thus excluding a stubborn and rebellious son, who is executed on account of his ultimate destiny.10 So we have one exclusion following another, and such always indicates inclusion.11
WHEREUPON R. ELIEZER SAID TO THEM: BUT DID NOT SIMEON B. SHETAH HANG etc. R. Hisda said: They taught this12 only of two different death penalties,13 but if a single mode of execution is involved, they [two charges] may be tried [on the same day]. But in the instance of Simeon b. Shetah, only one mode of execution was involved, and yet [the Sages] said to him14 that the cases should not [legally] have been tried! — But if a statement was made, it was made thus: They taught this only of a single death penalty appearing as two. And how can that be? E.g., [when one is accused of] two different transgressions.15 But cases dealing with the same transgression and the same mode of execution may be tried.16
R. Adda b. Ahabah raised an objection: 'Two [capital] cases may not be tried in one day; not even that of an adulterer and his paramour'?17 R. Hisda explained this as referring to the daughter of a priest and her paramour;18 or to the daughter of a priest and the refuters of the refuting witnesses.19
It has been taught: R. Eliezer b. Jacob said: I have heard20 that the Beth din may, [when necessary,] impose flagellation and pronounce [capital] sentences even where not [warranted] by the Torah; yet not with the intention of disregarding the Torah but [on the contrary] in order to safeguard it.21 It once happened that a man rode a horse on the Sabbath in the Greek period and he was brought before the Court and stoned, not because he was liable thereto,22 but because it was [practically] required by the times.23 Again it happened that a man once had intercourse with his wife under a fig tree.24 He was brought before the Beth din and flogged, not because he merited it,25 but because the times required it.26
MISHNAH. HOW IS HE
HANGED?27 — THE POST IS SUNK
INTO THE GROUND WITH A [CROSS-] PIECE BRANCHING OFF [AT THE
HE29 BRINGS HIS HANDS
TOGETHER30 ONE OVER THE OTHER AND
HANGS HIM UP [THEREBY]. R. JOSE SAID: THE POST IS LEANED AGAINST THE
WALL,31 AND HE HANGS HIM UP AFTER
THE FASHION OF BUTCHERS. HE IS IMMEDIATELY AFTERWARDS LET DOWN. IF HE IS
LEFT [HANGING] OVER NIGHT, A NEGATIVE COMMAND IS THEREBY TRANSGRESSED, FOR
IT IS WRITTEN, HIS BODY SHALL NOT REMAIN ALL NIGHT UPON THE TREE, BUT THOU
SHALT SURELY BURY HIM THE SAME DAY FOR HE IS HANGED [BECAUSE OF] A CURSE
AGAINST GOD,32 — AS IF TO SAY WHY
WAS HE HANGED? — BECAUSE HE CURSED THE NAME [OF GOD]; AND
SO33 THE NAME OF HEAVEN [GOD] IS
R. MEIR SAID:35 WHEN MAN SUFFERS,36 WHAT EXPRESSION DOES THE SHECHINAH37 USE? — MY HEAD IS TOO HEAVY FOR ME, MY ARM IS TOO HEAVY FOR ME.38 AND IF GOD IS SO GRIEVED OVER THE BLOOD OF THE WICKED THAT IS SHED, HOW MUCH MORE SO OVER THE BLOOD OF THE RIGHTEOUS!
AND NOT ONLY OF THIS ONE [A CRIMINAL,] DID THEY [SC. THE SAGES] SAY IT,39 BUT WHOSOEVER LETS HIS DEAD LIE OVER NIGHT TRANSGRESSES A NEGATIVE COMMAND.40 IF HE KEPT HIM OVER NIGHT FOR THE SAKE OF HIS41 HONOUR, TO PROCURE FOR HIM A COFFIN OR A SHROUD, HE DOES NOT TRANSGRESS THEREBY.
AND THEY DID NOT BURY HIM [THE EXECUTED PERSON] IN HIS ANCESTRAL TOMB, BUT TWO BURIAL PLACES WERE PREPARED BY THE BETH DIN, ONE FOR THOSE WHO WERE DECAPITATED OR STRANGLED, AND THE OTHER FOR THOSE WHO WERE STONED OR BURNED.
WHEN THE FLESH WAS COMPLETELY DECOMPOSED, THE BONES WERE GATHERED AND BURIED IN THEIR PROPER PLACE.42 THE RELATIVES THEN43 CAME AND GREETED THE JUDGES AND WITNESSES, AS IF TO SAY, WE HAVE NO [ILL FEELINGS] AGAINST YOU IN OUR HEARTS, FOR YE GAVE A TRUE JUDGMENT.
1 BUT GRIEVED [FOR HIM],2 FOR GRIEF IS BORNE IN THE HEART ALONE.
GEMARA. Our Rabbis taught: Had it been written, 'If he has sinned, then thou shalt hang him,' I should have said that he is hanged and then put to death, as the State does.3 Therefore Scripture says, And he be put to death, then thou shalt hang him — he is first put to death and afterwards hanged. And how is this done? — It [the verdict] is delayed until just before sunset. Then they pronounce judgment and put him [immediately] to death, after which they hang him; One ties him up and another unties [him],4 in order to full the precept of hanging.
Our Rabbis taught: [Then thou shalt hang him on] a tree:5 this I might understand as meaning either a cut or a growing tree; therefore Scripture states, Thou shalt surely bury him:6 [thus, it must be] one that needs only burial,7 so excluding that which needs both felling and burial.8 R. Jose said; [It must be] one that needs only burial, thus excluding that which requires both detaching and burial.9 And the Rabbis?10 — Detaching is of no consequence.11
AS IF TO SAY WHY WAS HE HANGED? — BECAUSE HE CURSED etc. It has been taught: R. Meir said: A parable was stated, To what is this matter comparable? To two twin brothers [who lived] in one city; one was appointed king, and the other took to highway robbery. At the king's command they hanged him. But all who saw him exclaimed, 'The king is hanged!'12 whereupon the king issued a command and he was taken down.
R. MEIR SAID etc. How is that implied?13 — Abaye answered: It is as though one said: It is not light.14 Raba objected: If so, he [the Tanna] should have said: My head is heavy upon me, my arm is heavy upon me!15 Raba therefore explained it thus: It is as though one said: Everything is light16 to me. But this [the word Kilelath] is needed for its own purpose!17 — If so, Scripture should have stated 'mekallel:'18 why 'kilelath'!19 Then perhaps the entire verse was written for that purpose?20 — If so, it should have stated, 'killath:'21 why 'kilelath'.22 Hence both [meanings] are inferred from it.
AND NOT ONLY OF THIS ONE etc. R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Whence is it inferred that whoever keeps his dead [unburied] over night transgresses thereby a negative conmmand?23 — From the verse, Thou shalt surely bury him;24 whence we learn that he who keeps his dead [unburied] over night transgresses a prohibitory command. Others state: R. Johanan said on the authority of R. Simeon b. Yohai: Where is burial [as a means of disposing of the dead] alluded to in the Torah? — In the verse, Thou shalt surely bury him: here we find an allusion to burial in the Torah.
King Shapor25 asked R. Hama: From what passage in the Torah is the law of burial derived? The latter remained silent, and made no answer. Thereupon R. Aba b. Jacob exclaimed: The world has been given over into the hands of fools, for he should have quoted, For thou shalt bury!26 — [That is no proof, since] it might merely have meant, that he should he placed in a coffin!27 But it is also written, Bury, thou shalt bury him.28 — He [King Shapor] would not have understood it thus.29 Then he should have proved it from the fact that the righteous were buried!30 — [He might object.] That was merely a general custom.31 Well then, from the fact that the Holy One, blessed be He, buried Moses!32 — But, [he might answer,] that was so as not to depart from the general custom. But come and hear! And all Israel shall make lamentation for him and they shall bury him.33 — That [too] might have been done so as not to depart from the general custom. [But again it is written,] They shall not be lamented, neither shall they be buried; they shall be as dung upon the face of the ground?34 — The purpose of that, however, might have been to depart from the established custom.35
The scholars propounded: Is burial [intended to avert disgrace.36 or a means of atonement?37 What is the practical difference? If a man said, 'I do not wish myself38 to be buried.' If you say that it is to prevent disgrace, then it does not depend entirely upon him;39 but if it is for atonement, then in effect he has declared, 'I do not desire atonement.'40 What [then is its purpose]? Come and hear! 'From the fact that the righteous were buried.' If then you say that it is for atonement — are the righteous in need thereof? Even so, for it is written, For there is not a righteous man upon earth who doeth good and sinneth not.41
Come and hear! [It is written,] And all Israel shall make lamentations for him, and they shall bury him, for only he of Jeroboam shall come to the grave.42 Now should you assert [that burial] is for the attainment of forgiveness, then the others too should have been buried, that there might be atonement for them? — This one [sc. Abijah], who was righteous, deserved to find forgiveness, but the others were not [worthy] to attain it.
Come and hear! They shall not be lamented neither shall they be buried.43 — [It may be precisely] in order that there might be no atonement for them.
The scholars asked: Is the funeral oration in honour of the living or of the dead? What is the practical difference? If the deceased had said, Pronounce no funeral oration over me;44 or again in respect of collecting [the cost] from the heirs!45 — Come and hear! And Abraham came46 to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.47 Now, should you maintain that it is no honour of the living: in that case for Abraham's honour he delayed Sarah's [burial]! — [There] Sarah herself was pleased that Abraham should attain honour through her.
Come and hear! And all Israel shall make lamentation for him and they shall bury him:48 If you say that it is in honour of the living, were these [Abijah's relatives] worthy of honour?49 — It is pleasing to the righteous that people50 should be honoured through them.
Come and hear! They shall not be lamented neither shall they be buried!51 — The righteous do not wish to be honoured through evil-doers.
Come and hear! They shall die in peace, and with the burnings of thy fathers, the former kings that were before thee, so shall they make a burning for thee, and they shall lament thee, saying Ah! Lord.52 Now if you maintain that it is in honour of the living, of what consequence was this to him?53 — He spoke this to him: Israel will be honoured through thee, as they were honoured through thy parents.54
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