Previous Folio / Sanhedrin Directory / Tractate List / Navigate Site
Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin
The School of R. Ishmael taught: It can be deduced from glassware: if glassware, which, though made by the breath of human beings,4 can yet be repaired when broken;5 then how much more so man, created by the breath of the Holy One, blessed be He.
A sectarian [min]6 said to R. Ammi: 'Ye maintain that the dead will revive; but they turn to dust, and can dust come to life?' — He replied: I will tell thee a parable. This may be compared to a human king who commanded his servants to build him a great palace in a place where there was no water or earth [for making bricks]. So they went and built it. But after some time it collapsed, so he commanded them to rebuild it in a place where water and earth was to be found; but they replied, 'We cannot'. Thereupon he became angry with them and said, 'If ye could build in a place containing no water or earth, surely ye can where there is!'7 'Yet,' [continued R. Ammi], 'If thou dost not believe, go forth in to the field and see a mouse, which to-day is but part flesh and part dust,8 and yet by to-morrow has developed and become all flesh. And shouldst thou say, 'That takes a long time,'9 go up to the mountains, where thou wilt see but one snail, whilst by to-morrow the rain has descended and it is covered with snails.'10
A sectarian [min] said to Gebiha b. Pesisa, 'Woe to you, ye wicked, who maintain that the dead will revive; if even the living die, shall the dead live!' He replied, 'Woe to you, ye wicked, who maintain that the dead will not revive: if what was not,[now] lives, — surely what has lived, will live again!' 'Thou hast called me wicked,' said he, 'If I stood up I could kick thee and strip thee of thy hump!11 'If thou couldst do that,' he retorted, 'thou wouldst be called a great doctor, and command large fees.'
Our Rabbis taught: On the twenty-fourth of Nisan12 the revenue farmers13 were removed from Judah and Jerusalem. For when the Africans14 came to plead against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon, they said, 'Canaan belongs to us, as it is written, The land of Canaan with the coasts thereof;15 and Canaan was the ancestor of these people [i.e., ourselves].' Thereupon Gebiha b. Pesisa16 said to the Sages, 'Authorise me to go and plead against them before Alexander of Macedon: should they defeat me, then say, "ye have defeated but an ignorant man of us;" whilst if I defeat them, then say to them thus: "The Law of Moses has defeated you." 'So they authorised him, and he went and pleaded against them. 'Whence do ye adduce your proof?' asked he. 'From the Torah,' they replied. 'I too,' said he, 'will bring you proof only from the Torah, for it is written, And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.17 Now if a slave acquires property, to whom does he belong, and whose is the property?18 Moreover, it is now many years that ye have not served us.'19 Then Alexander said to them, 'Answer him!' 'Give us three days' time,' they pleaded. So he gave them a respite; they sought but found no answer. Immediately thereon they fled, leaving behind their sown fields and their planted vineyards. And that year was a Sabbatical year.
On another occasion the Egyptians came in a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon. They pleaded thus: 'Is it not written, And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, and they lent them [gold and precious stones, etc.]20 Then return us the gold and silver which ye took!' Thereupon Gebiha b. Pesisa said to the Sages, 'Give me permission to go and plead against them before Alexander of Macedon: should they defeat me, then say, "Ye have merely defeated an ignorant man amongst us;" whilst if I defeat them then say, "The Law of Moses has defeated you."' So they gave him permission, and he went and pleaded against them. 'Whence do ye adduce your proof?' asked he, 'From the Torah,' they replied. 'Then I too,' said he, 'will bring you proof only from the Torah, for it is written, Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was four hundred and thirty years.21 Pay us for the toil of six hundred thousand men whom ye enslaved for four hundred thirty years.' Then King Alexander said to them, 'Answer him!' 'Give us three days' time,' they begged. So he gave them a respite; they sought but found no answer. Straightway they fled, leaving behind their sown fields and planted vineyards. And that year was a Sabbatical year.22
On another occasion the Ishmaelites and the Ketureans23 came for a lawsuit against the Jews before Alexander of Macedon. They pleaded thus: 'Canaan belongs jointly to all of us, for it is written, Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son;24 and it is [further] written, And these are the generations of Isaac,' Abraham's son.'25 Thereupon Gebiha b. Pesisa said to the Sages: 'Give me permission to go and plead against them before Alexander of Macedon. Should they defeat me then say, "Ye have defeated one of our ignorant men;" whilst if I defeat them, say, "The Law of Moses has defeated you."' So they gave him permission, and he went and pleaded against them. 'Whence do ye adduce your proof?' asked he. 'From the Torah,' they replied. 'Then I too,' said he, 'will bring you proof only from the Torah, for it is written, And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac. But unto the sons of the concubines which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts:26 if a father made a bequest to his children in his lifetime and sent them away from each other, has one any claim upon the other? [Obviously not.]'
What gifts [did he give them]? — R. Jeremiah b. Abba said: This teaches that he imparted to them [the secrets of] the unhallowed arts.27
Antoninus28 said to Rabbi: 'The body and the soul can both free themselves from judgment. Thus, the body can plead: The soul has sinned, [the proof being] that from the day it left me I lie like a dumb stone in the grave [powerless to do aught]. Whilst the soul can say: The body has sinned, [the proof being] that from the day I departed from it I fly about in the air like a bird [and commit no sin].' He replied, 'I will tell thee a parable. To what may this be compared? To a human king who owned a beautiful orchard which contained
Sanhedrin 91bsplendid figs. Now, he appointed two watchmen therein, one lame and the other blind. [One day] the lame man said to the blind, "I see beautiful figs in the orchard. Come and take me upon thy shoulder, that we may procure and eat them." So the lame bestrode the blind, procured and ate them. Some time after, the owner of the orchard came and inquired of them, "Where are those beautiful figs?" The lame man replied, "Have I then feet to walk with?" The blind man replied, "Have I then eyes to see with?" What did he do? He placed the lame upon the blind and judged them together. So will the Holy One, blessed be He, bring the soul, [re]place it in the body, and judge them together, as it is written, He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people:1 He shall call to the heavens from above-this refers to the soul; and to the earth, that he may judge his people-to the body.'
Antoninus said to Rabbi, 'Why does the sun rise in the east and set in the west?' He replied, 'Were it reversed, thou wouldst ask the same question.' 'This is my question,' said he, 'why set in the west?'2 He answered, 'In order to salute its Maker, as it is written, And the host of the heavens make obeisance to thee.'3 'Then,' said he to him, 'it should go only as far as mid-heaven, pay homage, and then re-ascend?'4 — 'On account of the workers and wayfarers.'5
Antoninus also said to Rabbi, 'When is the soul placed in man; as soon as it is decreed [that the sperm shall be male or female, etc.], or when [the embryo] is actually formed?' He replied, 'From the moment of formation.' He objected: 'Can a piece of meat be unsalted for three days without becoming putrid?6 But it must be from the moment that [God] decrees [its destiny].' Rabbi said: This thing Antoninus taught me, and Scripture supports him, for it is written, And thy decree hath preserved my spirit [i.e., my soul].7
Antoninus also enquired of Rabbi, 'From what time does the Evil Tempter hold sway over man; from the formation [of the embryo], or from [its] issuing forth [into the light of the world]?! — 'From the formation,' he replied. 'If so,' he objected, 'it would rebel in its mother's womb and go forth. But it is from when it issues.' Rabbi said: This thing Antoninus taught me, and Scripture supports him, for it is said, At the door [i.e.,where the babe emerges] sin lieth in wait.8
Resh Lakish opposed [two verses to each other]. It is written, [I will gather them …] with the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together;9 whilst it is also written, Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing, for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert.10 How so?11 — They shall rise with their defects and then be healed.
'Ulla opposed [two verses]. It is written, He will destroy death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces;12 whilst elsewhere it is written, For the child shall die an hundred years old … there shall be no more thence an infant of days!13 — It is no difficulty: the one refers to Jews, the other to heathens. But what business have heathens there?14 — [The reference is to] those of whom it is written, and strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and the sons of the alien shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers.15
R. Hisda opposed [two verses]. It is written, Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of Hosts shall reign;16 whilst [elsewhere] it is written, Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days.17 — It is no difficulty: the latter refers to the Messianic era, the former to the world to come.18 And according to Samuel, who maintained, This world differs from the Messianic era only in respect of the servitude of the Diaspora, it is still no difficulty: the latter refers to the camp of the righteous, the former to the camp of the Divine Presence.19
Raba opposed [two verses]: It is written, I kill, and I make alive;20 whilst it is also written, I wound, and I heal!21 — The Holy One, blessed be He, said, What I slay, I resurrect [i.e.,in the same state], and then, what I wound, I heal [after their revival].
Our Rabbis taught: I kill, and I make alive. I might interpret, I kill one person and give life to another, as the world goes on:22 therefore the Writ states, I wound, and I heal. Just as the wounding and healing [obviously] refer to the same person, so putting to death and bringing to life refer to the same person. This refutes those who maintain that resurrection is not intimated in the Torah.
It has been taught: R. Meir said, Whence do we know resurrection from the Torah? From the verse, Then shall Moses and the children of Israel sing this song unto the Lord:23 not sang but shall sing24 is written: thus resurrection is taught in the Torah.25 Likewise thou readest, Then shall Joshua build an altar unto the Lord God of Israel:26 not 'built', but shall build is written: thus resurrection is intimated in the Torah. If so, Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab:27 does that too mean that he shall build?28 But [there] the Writ regards him as though he had built.29
R. Joshua b. Levi said: Whence is resurrection derived from the Torah? From the verse, Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they shall ever praise thee. Selah.30 Not 'praised thee,' but they shall praise thee is stated: thus resurrection is taught in the Torah.
R. Joshua b. Levi also said: Whoever uttereth song [of praise to God] in this world shall be privileged to do so in the next world too, as it is written, Blessed are they that dwell in thy house: they shall ever praise thee. Selah.
R. Hiyya b. Abba said in R. Johanan's name: Whence do we learn resurrection from the Torah? — From the verse, Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing.31 Not 'sang,' but shall sing is written: thus resurrection is derived from the Torah.
Rab Judah said in Rab's name: Whoever witholdeth a halachah from his disciple is as though he had robbed him of his ancestral heritage, as it is written, Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob:32 it is an inheritance destined for all Israel from the six days of Creation. R. Hanah b. Bizna said in the name of R. Simeon the Pious: Whoever withholds a halachah from a disciple, even the embryo in its mother's womb curses him, as it is written, He that withholdeth bar [corn] yikkebuhu le'om:33
- To Next Folio -