Tractate Sanhedrin, Herbert Danby tr. , at sacred-texts.com
Cases which can be tried by Three Judges.
M.I. 1. NON-CAPITAL 1 cases are to be tried by a tribunal of three judges:--cases of robbery and personal violence, 2 by three; cases involving whole or half damages, 3 repaying double, 4 or repaying fourfold or fivefold, 5 and cases of forcing, 6 seduction 7 and libel, 8 by three,--so R. Meir 9; but the
M.majority 1 hold that a libel case should be tried by a court of twenty-three judges, since it is a capital charge.
2. Cases involving scourging, 2 by three 3; the decision as to the intercalation of the month 4 and the intercalation of the year, 5 by three,--so R. Meir; but according to R. Shimeon, 6 the son of R. Gamaliel, the case is begun by three, discussed by five, and concluded by seven. But if it be concluded by three only, the intercalation holds good.
3. The "Laying on of the elders' hands," 7 and the "Breaking of the heifer's neck " 8 are to be
M.determined by three according to R. Shimeon, 1 but R. Jehuda 2 says five; decisions as to "Ḥaliṣa" 3 and "Refusal," 4 by three; "Fourth year plants" 5 and "Second tithe" 6 of unknown value, by three; cases dealing with consecrated articles, 7 by three; valuations, if movable property, by three--according to R. Jehuda one of them should be a priest: if real estate, by nine and a priest: if a man, by the same number.
2. Movable vowed property, "Fourth year plants" and "Second tithe" of unknown value are to be redeemed according to the verdict of three experienced dealers in the particular commodity, and not according to that of three who are not experienced.
An animal with an obvious blemish 2 is to be slaughtered according to the verdict of any three members of the synagogue,--so R. Meir; but R. Jose 3 says: "Even though it be deformed in the leg and blind in the eye it can be slaughtered only according to the verdict of an expert." The majority hold that one who commits libel when the charge involves a non-capital case is to be judged by three; but if a capital case, by twenty-three.
As three judges are required for legal judgment, so three are necessary for arbitration. But when a case has been decided by legal judgment, arbitration is not permitted. R. Eliezer, 4 the son of R. Jose the Galilaean, says: Every one who arbitrates (after judgment has been passed) is a sinner and he who praises such an arbitrator blasphemes The Place. 5
3. Another explanation: HE WHO PRAISES THE BOṢEA 9 BLASPHEMES THE LORD.
Boṣea refers to the brethren of Joseph who said: 10 WHAT BEṢA HAVE WE IF WE SLAY OUR BROTHER?
4. When judgment has been given in a case, justifying him who was in the right, and condemning him who was in the wrong, if it be a poor man who has been condemned the judge sends him away and gives him support out of his own pocket. He is thus found acting with judgment to the one and with charity to the other.
5. Rabbi says: When judgment has been given in a case, justifying him who was in the right, and condemning him who was in the wrong, charity is dealt to him who was in the wrong since what was stolen is taken from him; and judgment is meted out to him who was in the right, since what was his is restored to him.
6. R. Shimeon, 5 the son of Menasia, says: There are certain times when a man may act as arbitrator
7. R. Jehuda, 3 the son of Lakish, said: If two men, a strong one and a weak one, were to come before another for judgment, and he, before he have heard their words, or even after he have heard them, be unable to determine whom the legal verdict will favour, it is right that he should say to them: I cannot allow myself to be implicated in your case, lest the weak be found guilty and the strong persecute him. But if, when he have heard their words, he knows whom the legal verdict will favour, it is not right that he should say: I cannot allow myself to be implicated in your case. For it is written: 4 YE SHALL NOT BE AFRAID OF THE FACE OF MAN, FOR THE JUDGMENT IS GOD'S.
8. Said R. Jehoshua, the son of Karha: Whence do we know that if a man were sitting before the judge, and knew that a poor man (though condemned) was innocent and a rich man (though acquitted) was guilty, he should not keep silence?
9. The judges should know whom they are judging and before whom they are judging and who He is who is judging with them. And the witnesses should know against whom they are testifying and with whom they are testifying and who He is who bears testimony with them, as it is written: 2 THEN BOTH THE MEN BETWEEN WHOM THE CONTROVERSY IS, SHALL STAND BEFORE THE LORD. And also it is written: 3 GOD STANDS IN THE CONGREGATION OF GOD, AND IN THE MIDST OF JUDGES 4 HE JUDGES. So again it is said concerning Jehoshaphat: 5 CONSIDER WHAT YE DO, FOR YE JUDGE NOT FOR MAN BUT FOR GOD. And lest a judge should say, "Why do I take this trouble?"--has it not been said, 5 HE IS WITH YOU IN THE MATTER OF JUDGMENT? Thy concern is only with what thine eyes see.
R. Shimeon, the son of Gamaliel, says: As three judges are required for legal judgment, so three judges are required for arbitration. Greater is the force of arbitration than that of legal judgment; for if two judges have given a legal decision the parties are not thereby bound, 6 whereas if arbitration has been effected by two judges the parties are bound.
II. 1. The hallowing of the month and the intercalation of the year are determined by three judges,--so R. Meir; but the majority hold that in the intercalation of the year the case is begun by three, discussed by five, and concluded by seven. If one is in favour of considering the necessity of intercalation
2. There are three signs which make it evident that the year should be intercalated: the premature state of the corn-crops, the undeveloped state of the tree products, and the lateness of the spring equinox. 1 On the basis of any two of these they may intercalate, but not on one only; though if they were to intercalate on the basis of one only the intercalation would hold good If the premature state of the corn-crops be one of the signs, they rejoice. 2 R. Shimeon the son of Gamaliel says: Also if it be the lateness of the spring equinox.
3. On the basis of evidence derived from three countries used they to intercalate the year: Judaea, the land beyond Jordan, and Galilee. They may intercalate on the basis of two of these, but not of one only; though in this latter case the intercalation would hold good. And if Judaea were one of the two they rejoiced, because it was from there that the offering of the firstfruits came.
4. The years could not be intercalated owing to
6. It happened once with Rabban Gamaliel 2 and the elders, that they were sitting on the steps in the Temple Mount, with Johanan the scribe on the one side in front of them. They said to him: Write to our brethren of Upper and Lower Galilee, "May your peace be increased! We make known to you that the time of removal of produce is arrived, for paying tithes from the olive vats." And to our brethren of the upper and lower regions of the South, "May your peace be increased! We make known to you that the time of removal of produce is arrived, for paying tithes from the sheaves of corn." And to our brethren, the exiles of Babylon, and those in exile in Media, and all the other Israelites in exile, "May your peace be increased! We make known to you that the pigeons are still tender and the lambs thin, and that the season of spring is not yet come. It seems fitting to me and to my colleagues that we add to this year thirty days."
7. The year is not to be intercalated unless the spring equinox is still distant the greater part of a month. How much is the greater part of a month?
8. They may not intercalate less or more than a month, and if they do it is not valid. They may not intercalate for a year in advance, and if they do it is not valid. And they may not intercalate successive years. R. Shimeon says: They may intercalate successive years; for it happened with R. Akiba 3 that when he was shut up in prison, he
9. They may not intercalate a Sabbatic year, nor the year that follows. In such cases it is customary to intercalate the year preceding the Sabbatic year.
They may not intercalate a year when there is a famine. R. Meir says: It is written, AND THERE CAME A MAN FROM BAAL-SHALISHA AND BROUGHT THE MAN OF GOD BREAD OF THE FIRSTFRUITS, TWENTY LOAVES OF BARLEY, AND FRESH EARS OF CORN IN HIS SACK, 1 etc. But is it not true that there is no place where the produce is ready sooner than at Baal-Shalisha? And even so, he only offered as firstfruits that species which he brought to the man of God. Perhaps he brought it before the time of offering the sheaf? Scripture says: AND HE SAID, GIVE IT TO THE PEOPLE, THAT THEY MAY EAT 2--showing that he only brought it after that it was in the sheaf. And was not that year fitted to be intercalated? 3 And why did not Elisha intercalate it? Because it was a year of famine, and all the people were running to the threshing floors.
10. They may not intercalate a year when there is impurity. (But) it happened with Hezekiah the king that he did intercalate a year when there was impurity, as it is written: FOR A MULTITUDE OF THE PEOPLE, EVEN THE MEN OF EPHRAIM AND MANASSEH, ISSACHAR AND ZEBULUN, HAD NOT CLEANSED THEMSELVES, YET THEY DID EAT THE PASSOVER OTHERWISE THAN IT IS WRITTEN. FOR HEZEKIAH HAD PRAYED FOR THEM SAYING, THE LORD PARDON EVERY ONE, 4 etc. 11. (Therefore) R. Jehuda says: They may intercalate a year when there is impurity. R. Shimeon says: If they do
12. They may not intercalate a year except when it is necessary; but they may intercalate because of real cases of need, 4 because of ovens 5 and because of the exiles 6 who have left their homes. They may not intercalate the year because of cold, or of snows, or for the sake of any exiles who have not gone forth from their homes. All these are considered as subsidiary reasons; yet if the intercalation has been made on the basis of these, the intercalation holds good.
13. They may not intercalate except in Judaea, but if they do so elsewhere the intercalation holds good. Hanania 7 of Ono testified before Rabban Gamaliel that they intercalated the year in Judaea only, though if they intercalated it in Galilee it was valid. 8
Rabban Shimeon, the son of Gamaliel, and R. Eleazar, 3 the son of Zadok, said: They may not intercalate the year nor decide on the needs of the congregation except by arrangement, in order that the wishes of the congregation may be consulted. 14. They may not intercalate the year by night, and if they do so it is not valid. Nor may they carry out the hallowing of the month by night; and if they do so it is not valid.
A king cannot sit in the Sanhedrin, and neither a king nor a high-priest can take part in the debate on the intercalation of the year.
23:1 Lit. "cases of money, or property"; while "capital-cases" is lit. "cases of souls, or lives." The distinction is not between charges relating to damage to property and offences against persons, but between charges which, if the prisoner be found guilty, can be atoned for by the forfeiture of money, and those which can be atoned for only by the forfeiture of the prisoner's own life.
23:2 Lev. 6. 4 ff.; 24. 19.
23:3 Exod. 21. 35.
23:4 Exod. 22. 4.
23:5 Exod. 22. 1.
23:6 Deut. 22. 29.
23:7 Exod. 22. 16-17.
23:8 The specific instance given in Deut. 22. 13 ff. is meant. If the charge is not justified the accuser is fined a hundred pieces of silver; but if the woman is guilty she is to he stoned. Therefore it is a capital charge, and as such must be tried before twenty-three judges.
23:9 R. Meir, flourished 130-160 A.D., was R. Akiba's most famous disciple, and one of the greatest figures in Jewish literature. He carried on Akiba's labours in the codifying of the Mishnah, and his material provided the basis for the final form which it took under the hands of Rabbi Jehuda ha-Nasi. He was Hakam, "advising p. 24 sage" or "speaker" (see note on T. vii. 7) to the Sanhedrin at Usha under Rabban Shimeon b. Gamaliel II. So great was his reputation that he refused to submit to the ceremonial introduced by Rabban Shimeon to parade the dignity of the office of Patriarch (the ceremony was that described in T. vii. 8), and retired to Asia Minor.
24:1 Lit. "the wise." Anonymous opinions represent those of the teachers in general, and after the demurrer of a single teacher they are normally introduced by the formula, "the words of the wise" or " the sages say."
24:2 Deut. 25. 1-3. Cf. Deut. 22. 13 ff.
24:3 Bomberg text adds: "According to R. Ishmael, by twenty-three." For the argument which is adduced in favour of this number, see T. vii. 4.
24:4 The normal expression (see T. ii. I) is "hallowing of the month," i.e. the official recognition of the appearance of the New Moon, to ensure the exact time of observance of the important festivals, whose date is fixed from the time of the New Moon.
24:5 The Jewish months are still lunar months, twelve of which only total 354 days, 8 hours, or nearly 11 days short of the solar year. This necessitates the insertion of another month at least every third year. This intercalary month of 30 days--called Adar Sheni, or Ve-Adar, "Second Adar," is inserted between Adar and Nisan.
24:6 Son and successor of Gamaliel II to the Patriarchate of the Jews, and father of Rabbi Jehuda ha-Nasi.
24:7 Lev. 4. 15.
24:8 Deut. 21. 1-9.
25:1 The usual form of reference to R. Shimeon ben Jochai. He was one of the five most famous disciples of R. Akiba, and became a member of the Sanhedrin at Usha. R. Jehuda ha-Nasi himself was one of his pupils at the school which he set up at Meron (or Teko‘a.) In his old age he carried out, with R. Eleazar b. Jose, a successful embassy to Rome on behalf of the Jews.
25:2 R. Jehuda, (ben Il’ai) was another famous disciple of R. Akiba, and a follower of his exegetical methods. He is supposed to be largely responsible for Sifra, the commentary on Leviticus.
25:3 Lit. "the drawing off" scil. of the shoe. See Deut. 25. 5-10.
25:4 If a woman during her minority have been given in marriage she may, on the attainment of her majority, refuse her consent to the union if her father was not among those who agreed to the contract. See M. Yeb. 13. I.
25:5 Lev. 19. 23-25.
25:6 Deut. 14. 22-26. Rabbinical interpretation recognized three tithes: the First or Levitic tithe, Num. 18. 21; the Second tithe, which the owner must consume in Jerusalem, Deut. 14. 22 ff.; and Tithe for the Poor, Deut. 14. 28 ff.; 26. 12. The Second tithe need not be conveyed to Jerusalem in kind, but might be converted into money (and reconverted at Jerusalem), Deut. 22. 26. A "Board of assessment" is here provided by the Mishnah for valuing the Second tithe before it is converted into money.
25:7 This and the rest of the paragraph refer to Lev. 27.
25:8 The customary abbreviation employed to allude to R. Jehuda ha-Nasi. He was grandson of Rabban Gamaliel II, and ultimately succeeded him as Nasi, "Prince," of the Jewish community, and seems to have been not the least distinguished of a very distinguished family. His chief title to fame rests on his compiling an authoritative form out of the several Mishnah collections which p. 26 were then in existence. Our present Mishnah is accepted as being in all essentials identical with that drawn up by Rabbi.
26:1 Ordination to the position of judge or teacher.
26:2 Deut. 15. 21.
26:3 R. Jose ben Halafta, c. 150-280 A.D., was another of R. Akiba's more famous disciples, as well as a supporter of his master's methods of interpretation.
26:4 Another pupil of R. Akiba. He had a great reputation as a Haggadist, and the present passage is an instance of his use of the method in the stricter sphere of Halaka. He laid down a list of thirty-two rules, by which the interpretation of the Bible should be governed.
26:5 A frequent circumlocution for God, emphasizing the idea of His unique existence and omnipresence.
27:1 Ps. 10. 3. Prayer Book Version: "And speaketh good of the covetous, whom God abhorreth." The root meaning of the word is "to cut;" used metaphorically in O. T. "to get unjust gain," hence "to act in a covetous manner." In Mishnaic Hebrew = "Cut, split the difference," and so "arbitrate."
27:2 That is, there must be no amendments once a decision has been given by a legally constituted court.
27:3 Mal. 2. 6.
27:4 A younger disciple of R. Akiba. He survived the Hadrianic persecutions, and became a member of the Sanhedrin which was afterwards set up at Usha.
27:5 R. Eleazar interprets the words as meaning: "If a robber has blessed, he," etc.
27:6 The third of an Ephah, or equivalent in modern measure to one and a half pecks.
27:7 The small cake set apart in fulfilment Pf the injunction in Num. 15. 20-2I.
27:8 Adopting the meaning current in O. T.; cf. Pr. 1. 19; 15. 27; Jer. 6. 13; 8. 10; Hab. 2. 9.
27:9 This explanation turns on the meaning "one who gets illegal profit;" beṣa = gain wrongly acquired.
27:10 Gen. 37. 26,
28:1 c. 150 A.D. He is said to have been the son of R. Akiba, though this is questioned.
28:2 Zech. 8. 16.
28:3 Sam. 8. 15.
28:4 Heb. Ṣedāḳā, R.V. "Justice"; but here given a meaning which it later acquired.
28:5 An elder contemporary of R. Jehuda ha-Nasi. One of his sayings is (Tos. Yadaim II. 14): "Canticles was inspired by the Holy Ghost, while Ecclesiastes expresses merely the wisdom of Solomon."
29:1 Prov. 17. 14.
29:2 So Targum. R. V. " before there be quarrelling."
29:3 A teacher who lived at the beginning of the second century. Little is known of him, and his name only appears in Tosefta and Mekilta.
29:4 Deut. 1. 17.
30:1 A play of words on lo taguru, ''thou shalt not fear," and lo te’egoru, from a root meaning "gather, collect."
30:2 Deut. 19. I7.
30:3 Ps. 82. 1.
30:4 Lit. "gods." Cf. Ex. 21. 6, R. V. and R. V. mg.
30:5 2. Ch. 19. 6.
30:6 See M. iii. 6 b, from which it is to be inferred that the judgment decreed by two judges only is not valid.
31:1 March 21st, according to our reckoning.
31:2 Because the year is intercalated and a longer period granted for the ripening of the crops.
32:1 c. 200 A.D. One of the first generation of the Anoraim, the scholars who, from the commencement of the third century, began to comment on the text of the Mishnah.
32:2 Rabban Gamaliel I, the Gamaliel of Acts 5. 34. Though he is here, according to the tannaitic tradition, holding a position not less than that held by Rabban Gamaliel II, or R. Jehuda ha-Nasi, the New Testament sees in him no more than "a Pharisee . . . a doctor of the law, had in honour of the people."
33:1 That is, they may not fix the Feast of Tabernacles (15th-21st of Tishri; Sept.–Oct.) on the basis of the autumn equinox (our Sept. 22).
33:2 Adar corresponds nearly to February and March. The New Year, Rosh ha-Shana, commences with the month Tishri, (nearly = our September). For the Jewish Calendar see Oesterley and Box: Religion and Worship of the Synagogue, pp. 318 ff.
33:3 R. Akiba was perhaps the greatest figure in Jewish literature during the early part of the second century. His teachers were R. Jehoshua b. Hanania and R. Eliezer h. Hyrcanus; while among his pupils were numbered such men as R. Meir, R. Jose b. Halafta and R. Shimeon b. Jochai. He was closely connected with the revolt of Bar Kokba, and met his death at the hands of the Romans. He is chiefly responsible for the final form which the canon of the Old Testament has taken, and it was he who began the process of collecting the mass of oral tradition which was continued by R. Meir and completed by R. Jehuda ha-Nasi. He was also the initiator of a type of exegesis which carried the theory of verbal inspiration to its extreme conclusions: not only every sentence, but every word, every particle, every letter, and even every peculiar form of a letter was possessed of a special divine significance, and from every such detail an endless series of conclusions might be derived, far removed from the mere literal meaning conveyed by the verse.
34:1 2 Kings 4. 42.
34:2 2 Kings 4. 43.
34:3 Because, apparently, of the lateness of the corn-crops.
34:4 2 Chron. 30. 18.
35:1 This phrase does not occur in T.; but it occurs in the parallel passage in B. 12 a, and is necessary in view of the two following opinions.
35:2 R. Shimeon b. Jehuda (of Kefar Akkos or Ikos) is seldom referred to otherwise than as handing down the dicta of Shimeon b. Jochai, whose younger contemporary he probably was.
35:3 Numb. 9. to 10 ff.
35:4 B. 11 a reads "paths"--i.e. when they are impassable for those coming from a distance to celebrate the Passover at Jerusalem--and also adds "bridges."
35:5 That is, the earth ovens (necessary for roasting the Passover lamb), which had not yet become dry after the winter rains. For the form of the oven, tannur, see Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible, art. "Oven."
35:6 Jews from a distant part of the Diaspora, who have already set out on their way to Jerusalem for the Feast.
35:7 He was, like most of his generation, a pupil of R. Akiba. He is chiefly remembered by the feat he accomplished of obtaining a ruling from Akiba on some disputed point, although his master was at the time in prison awaiting the death penalty.
35:8 B. 11 b reporting the same tradition reads "not valid."
36:1 Because in an intercalary year Purim is celebrated not in First, but in Second, Adar.
36:2 R. Jehoshua ben Hanania, c. 80-130 A.D., was one of the most prominent teachers of his day. He was a pupil of Jochanan b. Zakkai, and sat in the Jabne Sanhedrin first under his master, and later under Gamaliel II. He is supposed to have had a strong restraining influence over the would-be revolters among the Jews, and not till after his death did they finally break out under Bar Kokba. Like R. Ishmael b. Shamua, q.v., he favoured the plain meaning of Scripture, and, on this account, is often represented as in opposition to R. Akiba.
36:3 R. Eleazar (Eliezer) b. Zadok is represented in the rabbinical . writings as a witness of the sufferings which befell the Jews after the fall of Jerusalem. He later became a member of the Sanhedrin at Jabne under Gamaliel II.