The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
1. If a witness were unknown, another was sent to testify to him. At first they received evidence of the new moon from any one; but when the heretics 2 bribed (the witnesses), they ordained that evidence should only be received from those who were known.
2. At first high flames were lighted, but when the Samaritans mimicked them, it was ordained that messengers should be sent forth.
3. "How were these high flames lighted?" "They brought long staves of cedarwood, canes, and branches of the olive tree, and the tow of flax, which was tied with twine. And one went to the top of the mountain and lighted them, and waved the flame to and fro, up and down, till he could perceive his companion doing so on the second mountain, and so on the third mountain," etc.
4. "And where were these high flames lighted?" "From the Mount of Olives to Sartaba; from Sartaba to Grophinah; from Grophinah to Hoveran; from Hoveran to Bethbaltin; there they did not cease to wave them to and fro, up and down, till the whole country of the captivity 3 looked like torches of fire."
5. There was a large court in Jerusalem called Beth Yangzek, 1 there all the witnesses met, and there the Sanhedrin examined them. And they made great feasts for them, that they might come often. At first they did not stir from thence all day. 2 Rabban Gamaliel the elder ordained, that they might go two thousand cubits on every side. And not only they, but the midwife going to a birth; and they who go to rescue from fire, or from enemies, or from inundation, or from fallen buildings. These are as inhabitants of the place, and they have two thousand cubits on every side.
6. "How did they examine the witnesses?" "The first pair which came were examined first, and they brought in the eldest of them, and they said to him, 'Tell us how you saw the moon(her horns) towards the sun, or away from the sun? To the north, or to the south? What was her altitude? Towards where her declination? And what was her breadth?' If he said 'towards the sun,' he said nothing. Afterwards they brought in the second and examined; if the evidence was found to agree, the evidence stood. The remaining pairs of witnesses were then superficially examined, not because there was necessity for their evidence, but not to discourage them, that they might be willing to come again."
7. The chief of the Sanhedrin said, ("the feast) is sanctified;" and all the people answered after him, "Sanctified, sanctified." Whether the new moon had been seen in its season, or not, they sanctified it. R. Eleazar, son of Zadok, said, "if it were not seen in its season, they did not sanctify it, for heaven had already sanctified it."
8. Rabban Gamaliel had on a tablet and on the wall of his chamber figures and phases of the moon which he showed to ignorant witnesses, and said, "was it like this you saw her, or like that?" It happened once that two witnesses came, and said, "we saw the moon in the morning in the east, and in the evening in the west;" said R. Johanan, son
of Nourrie, "they are false witnesses," but when they came to Jamnia, Rabban Gamaliel received their evidence. Two other witnesses came, and said, "we saw the moon in her season, but on the next evening of the intercalary day she was invisible," and R Gamaliel received them. Said R. Dosah, son of Arkenaz, "they are false witnesses, for how can they testify of a woman being delivered, and on the morrow she is still pregnant?" To him said R. Joshua, "I approve thy words."
9. Rabban Gamaliel sent to (R. Joshua), "I order thee to come to me with thy staff and money on the day of atonement, according to thy reckoning." 1 R. Akivah went to (R. Joshua), and found him sorrowing. He said to him, "I can prove that all Rabban Gamaliel has done is well done, for it is said, 'These are the feasts of the Lord, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons,' 2 or out of their seasons; I have no other feasts but these." R. Joshua came to R. Dose, son of Arkenaz. He said to him, "if we are to judge the tribunal of Rabban Gamaliel, we must also judge the tribunals which have existed from the days of Moses till now," for it is said, "Then went up Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel." 3 "And why were not the names of the elders mentioned, but to inform us that every three men in Israel who compose a tribunal, are as a tribunal of Moses?" R. Joshua took his staff and money in his hand, and went to Jamnia to Rabban Gamaliel on the day when the atonement began, according to his reckoning. Rabban Gamaliel stood up and kissed him on his head, saying to him, "come in peace, my master and disciple,my master in wisdom, my disciple in obeying my words."
151:2 Lit. Bithosin, the followers of Biothos, who, with Zadok, the founder of the Sadducees, was a scholar of Antigonus of Socho.
152:1 So called in the Mishna. It means "the place fenced in." The Gemara reads, Beth Yazak, "the place of chains."
152:2 i.e. the Sabbath, when they could only go four cubits.
153:1 To carry money on the day of atonement was unlawful, but according to R. Joshua's reckoning it would have been a day too late
153:2 Lev. xxiii. 4.
153:3 Exod. xxiv. 9.