The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
1. Three times in the year the priests elevate their hands to bless the people, four times .a dayin the morning prayer, in the following prayer, in the evening prayer, and at the locking of the gates. These times are the fast days, on the fasts of the deputies, and on the day of atonement.
2. These are the Delegates, according as is said, "Command the children of Israel, and say unto them, My offering and my bread for my sacrifices made by fire." 2 And how is it possible, that the offering of a man should be sacrificed, and he does not stand by it? Therefore the former prophets decreed four-and-twenty Watches. For every Watch there were Delegates in Jerusalem of priests, Levites, and Israelites. When the time approached (for them) to go up, the priests and Levites went up to Jerusalem, and the Israelites, who belonged to the Watch, gathered in their cities and read in the history of Genesis.
3. And the Delegates used to fast four days in the week, from the second day till the fifth. But they did not fast on the eve of the Sabbath, for honour to the Sabbath. Nor on the first day, that they should not go forth from repose and enjoyment, to toil, and fasting, and death. On the first day they read in Genesis, 3 "and let there be a firmament." On the second, "let there be a firmament and let the waters be gathered together." On the third day, "let the waters be
gathered together, and let there be lights." On the fourth, "let there be lights, and let the waters bring forth abundantly." On the fifth, "let the waters bring forth abundantly," and "let the earth bring forth." On the sixth, "let the earth bring forth," and "the heavens were finished." Two men read a large portion, but a small portion was read by one. At morning prayer, at the following prayer, at the evening prayer, they went in and read orally (by heart), as they read the "Hear," 1 etc. On the eve of the Sabbath they did not go in to evening prayer for honour to the Sabbath.
4. Every day when there is praise, the Delegates are not at morning prayer. When there is the additional offering at the following prayer, there is not the closing prayer at the locking up of the gates. "When there is the offering of the wood, there is not the evening prayer." The words of Rabbi Akiba. The son of Azai said to him, R. Joshua thus taught it: "when there was an additional offering, the Delegates did not come to evening prayer; when there was the offering of the wood, they did not come to prayer at the locking up of the gates." R. Akiba changed his opinion, and taught as the son of Azai.
5. The times of bringing wood for the altar by priests and people were nine. On the first of Nisan, 2 the children of Arach son of Judah brought it. On the twentieth of Tammuz, 3 the children of David the son of Judah brought it. On the fifth of Ab, 4 the children of Parhush the son of Judah brought it. On the seventh, the children of Jonadab the son of Rechab brought it. On the tenth, the children of Sinah the son of Benjamin brought it. On the fifteenth, the children of Zathva the son of Judah brought it, and with them the priests and Levites and all who were ignorant of their tribe. And the children of Gonebi Eli 5 and the children of Kozhi Kezihoth. On the twentieth, the children of Pachath Moab the son of Judah brought it. On the
twentieth of Elul, 1 the children of Adin the son of Judah brought it. On the first of Tebeth, the children of Parhush returned the second time. On the first of Tebeth, 2 there was no meeting of the Delegates, as there was on it "The Praise," and the additional offering at the following prayer, and the offering of the wood.
6. Five things happened to our fathers on the seventeenth of Tammuz, and five on the ninth of Ab. On the seventeenth of Tammuz the stone tables were broken, and the daily offering ceased, and the city was broken up, and Apostemus 3 burnt the law, and he set up an image in the Temple. On the ninth of Ab it was proclaimed to our fathers, that they should not enter the land, and the House was ruined for the first and second time, and Bither was taken, and the city was ploughed up. On entering Ab we must diminish joy.
7. The week in which the ninth of Ab comes, men are not allowed to clip their hair, or wash their clothes; but on Thursday they are allowed, for honour to the Sabbath. On the eve of the ninth of Ab one must not eat from two dishes, must not eat flesh, and must not drink wine. Rabban Simon the son of Gamaliel said, "one must change the style of living." R. Judah "enjoined to turn over the beds," but the Sages did not approve him.
8. Said Rabban Simon the son of Gamaliel, "there were no holidays in Israel like the fifteenth of Ab, or like the day of atonement. Because in them the daughters of Jerusalem promenaded in white garments borrowed, that no one might be ashamed of her poverty. All these garments must be baptized. And the daughters of Jerusalem promenaded and danced in the vineyards. And what did they say? 'Look here, young man, and see whom you choose; look not for beauty, look for family;' 'Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised;' and it is said 'Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates,' 4 and also it is
said, 'Go forth, O ye daughters of Zion, and behold King Solomon with the crown, wherewith his mother crowned him in the day of his espousals, and in the day of the gladness of his heart.' 1 The day of his espousals, this is the gift of the Law; and in the day of the gladness of his heart, this is the building of the Sanctuary, and may it be speedily built in our days. Amen."
165:2 Numbers xxviii. 2.
165:3 Gen. i. 6, etc.
166:1 Deut. vi. 4, etc.
166:2 Part of March and April.
166:3 Part of June and July.
166:4 Part of July and August.
166:5 i.e. "Thieves of the pestle and dried figs;" because when forbidden by Jeroboam to go up to the Temple with the first-fruits and wood, they deceived the watchers by saying they were only going to press figs.Jer. Tal.
167:1 Part of August and September.
167:2 Part of December and January.
167:3 Antiochus Epiphanes.
167:4 Prov. xxxi. 30, 31.
168:1 Sol. Song, iii. 11.