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The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878], at

p. 204




Dealings with Idolaters—Idolatrous Feasts—Things not to be sold to Idolaters—Labour with idolaters—The Letting out of Houses and Fields—Precautions—Things forbidden and Things allowed—Idols and Fragments of Idols—Hills and Groves—Houses joined to an Idol Temple—Idolatrous Trees—Image of Mercury—Annulling Idolatry—Pagan Argument for Idolatry—Answer—Treading—Pressing—Baking—Wine of Libation—Culinary Utensils.


1. Three days before the feasts of the idolaters it is forbidden to deal with them, to lend articles to them, or to take a loan of articles from them; to make a loan of money to them, or to borrow money from them; to repay them, or to take payment from them. Rabbi Judah said, "it is allowed to take payment from them, since it is unsatisfactory to the idolater." The (Sages) answered him, "though it is unpleasant to him now, he rejoices afterwards."

2. R. Ishmael said, "three days before and three days after their feasts it is forbidden." But the Sages say, "before their feasts it is forbidden, after their feasts it is allowed."

3. "And these are the feasts of the idolaters,—the Kalends, and the Saturnalia, and the Quartesima, and the coronation day of their kings, and the day of their birth, and the day of their death." The words of R. Meier. But the Sages say, "every death anniversary in which there is burning

p. 205

of incense, 1 there is in it the worship of idols. But if there be no burning of incense there is no worship of idols." "The day of shaving his beard and cutting his hair, the day of his disembarking from the sea, and the day of his release from prison, and the day when the heathen makes a feast for his son?" "It is not forbidden to deal with them save on this day of his feast, and with this man who keeps the feast only."

4. "The city in which there exists idolatry outside the city?" "It is allowed to deal with the idolaters." "If the idolatry be outside?" "Inside it is allowed." "How is it with going there?" "When the road directly leads to the place itself, it is forbidden; but if it be possible to go by it to another place, it is allowed."

5. "If in the city in which there exists idolatry there be shops, some decorated with idolatrous crowns, and some without decoration?" This was the case in Bethshan; and the Sages say, "the decorated ones are forbidden for dealing, and those not decorated are allowed."

6. These things are forbidden to be sold to idolaters,—fir-cones, and the best figs, with their clusters, and incense, and the white cock. R. Judah said, "it is allowable to sell a white cock amongst many others. But when a man has only one, he must cut its claw before he sell it, since the heathen do not offer that which is blemished in idol worship." And all other things for ordinary uses are allowed,—but if they be declared to be for idolatry, they are forbidden. R. Meier said, "even the fine dates, and the date sap, 2 and the Jericho dates, are forbidden for sale to idolaters."

7. Where they are accustomed to sell small cattle to idolaters, they may sell them. Where they are unaccustomed to sell them, they must not sell them. And everywhere they must not sell to them the large cattle, calves, ass foals, unblemished or blemished. R. Judah allowed the broken-boned; and Benbethira allowed even horses.

8. Men must not sell to them bears or lions, or anything

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in which there is peril to the multitude. They must not build with them royal halls, 1 judgment seats, and stadiums, 2 and bemas. 3 But men may build with them altars and baths. When they reach to the arching in which they place their idol, it is forbidden to build farther.

9. And Israelites must not make decorations for idols, necklaces, and nose-rings, and rings. R. Eleazar said, "for pay it is allowed." Men must not sell to them what is fastened to the ground. But one may sell it after it is cut down. R. Judah said, "one may sell it to a heathen on condition that he cuts it down."

10. "Men must not let to them buildings 4 in the Land of Israel, and it is needless to say fields. But in Syria they may let to them buildings, but not fields. But out of the Land they may sell to them buildings, and may rent to them fields." The words of R. Meier. R. José said, "in the Land of Israel men may let to them buildings, but not fields. But in Syria they may sell buildings and rent fields to them, and out of the Land they may sell both." However, where they said to let, they did not say a dwelling-house; since an heathen can bring inside of it an idol, as it is said, "Thou shalt not bring in abomination into thy house." 5 And everywhere a man must not hire to an heathen his bath, because it is called by his name.


204:1 Literally strange worship. It chiefly means the worship of the stars, and other heavenly bodies.

205:1 Jer. xxxiv. 5.

205:2 Or sugar cane.

206:1 For executions.

206:2 For races.

206:3 Where harangues were delivered involving life and death.

206:4 Nor graves.

206:5 Deut. vii. 26.

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