The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
The Rabbis have laid down thirteen rules for the interpretation of the Talmud. These rules form their system of logic. They are as follows:
(1.) Light and heavy, an argument from the less to the greater. An example is furnished in the case of Miriam (Num. xii. 14). "If her father had but spit in her face, should she not be ashamed seven days? let her be shut out from the camp seven days, and after that let her be received in again." The argument is here drawn from the conduct of man, the less, to that of God, the greater. The owner of an ox is also fined more for his beast if it gores his neighbour's beast than if it eats his neighbour's corn; since the tooth only means sustenance for the stomach, but the horn means mischief.
(2.) Equality, an argument from the similarity or identity of words and impressions. An example is furnished in Deut. xv. 12: "If thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years, then in the seventh year thou shalt let him free from thee." In the 18th verse, when this law is again referred to, the man only is mentioned; but as the woman was mentioned in the former verse, it is concluded that the law applies equally to both.
(3.) The building of the father, an argument from the statements in (a) one place in the Law to other passages, which are similar. An example is furnished in Exod. xii. 16, where servile work is forbidden during the feast of unleavened bread, and the conclusion is drawn that servile
work is equally forbidden in all festivals of the same nature. This mode of argument is also applied to (b) two places in the Law, where one place refers to the general proposition, and another to particulars arising out of it. An example is furnished in Lev. xv. 1, where a man with an issue is unclean, but in the 4th verse this uncleanness is limited to his bed and his seat.
(4.) Universal and particular; Where there is a general and a special statement, the special binds the general. An example is furnished in Lev. i. 2: "If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd and of the flock." Cattle (in the Hebrew Behemah) includes both wild and tame. The special terms "herd" and "flock" limit the offering to domesticated animals.
(5.) Particular and universal, or argument from the special to the general. An example is furnished in Deut. xxii. 1: "Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox, or his sheep go astray: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother." In the 3d verse, it is further commanded to restore "all lost things of thy brother's." Hence it is concluded, not only his ox or his sheep, but that everything, which he has lost is to be restored to him.
(6.) Universal, particular and universal; Where there are two universal statements with a particular statement between, the particular limits the universals. An example is furnished in Deut. xiv. 26, where, speaking of the application of the second tithe, it is said, "Thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth." The special limitation, between the two universal permissions, is to productions of the land of Canaan.
(7.) The general that requires the special, and the special that requires the general. An example is furnished in Lev. xvii. 13: "Whatsoever man . . . hunteth and catcheth any beast or fowl that may be eaten, he shall even pour out the blood thereof, and cover it with dust." The word
[paragraph continues] "cover" or "hide" is again used in Gen. xviii. 17: "Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I shall do?" The conclusion is drawn, that cover is restricted to the blood being hidden under dust, and not put in any vessel. Again (Exod. xiii. 2): "Sanctify unto me all the first-born, whatever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast, it is mine." From this verse females might be included with males. Reference is made to Deut. xv. 19, where it is found "All the firstling males." Still it is obscure, when there are firstling females, about the males born afterwards. Reference is made to Exod. xxxiv. 19: "All that openeth the matrix is mine." Here all first-born are allowed. This, however is too general, and it is again restricted by the word males. And as this is too general, it is again restricted by "all that openeth the matrix."
(8.) Whatsoever is taught in general and something special is mentionedit is mentioned to strengthen the general rule. An example is furnished in Lev. xx. 2, where the worship of Moloch is forbidden, and the penalty for the sin is death. The conclusion drawn is, that such mention of a special form of idolatry confirms the prohibition of all idolatry.
(9.) When there is a general rule and also an exceptionthe exception lightens and does not aggravate. An example is furnished in the command (Exod. xxi. 12), "He that smiteth a man so that he die, he shall surely be put to death." The exception is, "Whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly" (Deut. xix. 4, 5), "he can flee to one of the cities of refuge."
(10.) When there is a general rule, and an exception not agreeing with the general rule, the exception both lightens and aggravates. An example is furnished from the plague of leprosy (Lev. xiii. 3) when the hair is turned white. The head and beard are excepted (29th verse) lest there be grey hairsthis lightens. But if on the head and beard there be "yellow thin hair," it is a dry scallthis aggravates.
(11.) When there is an exception from a general rule to establish a new matterthe new matter cannot be brought under the general rule again, unless it be mentioned in the
text. An example is furnished from the eating of holy things (Lev. xxii. 10-13). The priest, any soul bought with his money, and he that is born in his house, may eat of it. This is the general rule. If the priest's daughter be married to a stranger, she may not eat of them. This is the exception. This exception would have remained if she continued married to a stranger, or had a child, or had not returned to her father's house. Therefore a new law is provided, that in the event of none of these things happening, she may again eat of the holy things.
(12.) Things that teach from the subject, and things that teach from the end.An example is furnished from the eighth commandment, "Thou shalt not steal." This law, if applied to man-stealing or kidnapping, implies capital punishment. The reason given is from its following "Thou shalt do no murder," and "Thou shall not commit adultery"two laws which, if violated, entailed death. The second part of this rule applies to things that teach from the end. What is meant by the end is a matter of dispute. Some say it means the final cause of logicians. Others say it means something in the end or conclusion of the law itself. If it be the latter, an example is furnished from the case of the leprous house (Lev. xiv. 45): "And he shall break down the house, the stones of it, and the timber thereof, and all the mortar of the house." These directions teach that houses made of mud are excepted.
(13.) When two texts contradict each other, until a third be found to decide between them. An example is furnished in Gen. i. 1: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." It is again written, Gen. ii. 4, "In the day that the Lord made the earth and the heavens." The question now arises, Which did He make first? The answer is found in Isaiah xlviii. 13: "Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens." The conclusion is drawn that He made both at once. Another instance is the discrepancy in the census of Israel. In 2 Sam. xxiv. 9 the number stated is eight hundred thousand. In 1 Chron. xxi. 5 the number is said
to have been "eleven hundred thousand." The difference of three hundred thousand is accounted for by referring to 1 Chron. xxvii. 1, where it is said that twenty-four thousand served the king every month. These men, when multiplied by the months, make two hundred and eighty-eight thousand. And the twelve thousand which waited upon the twelve captains raise the number to three hundred thousand, the amount required to reconcile the two statements.