Well, for this I have nothing in particular yet, but I will finish the first 10 folio soon, and as it take me ca. a month to read 10 folios, maybe this’ll inspire others to read the Talmud too.
Some general words about this tractate anyway:
This is about the laws how a court works, and what punishments are out there.
The first chapter seems to be about how you assemble a court and how does that work, while only on occasion it tells what punishments occur for what crimes.
This tractate finally has a/b folios and Gemara (lots of it, lol), and it is a huge one containing 113 folios altogether.
It has a very unusual method of editing (it is said the whole Talmud is like that), because it a lot of times go into semantics (what a word used here and there can mean), and because of that it easily go distracted onto seemingly completly other topics, so don’t try to grip it too hard, because then you’ll lose trait.
The other thing is, it “wastes” time on useless topics, like this one: the Great Sanhedrin (the biggest kind of court) must have 71 or 70 members?
You would say they differ, but read the second part of the sentence: 70 must be rounded up to 71 anyway, because no court can assembled from pair number of members! So discussing the topic will not change the result and they know it, they still argue upon that kind of things anyway through pages upon pages, beats me why.
I’ve just finished the 10th folio of Sanhedrin, let’s do the sidenotes! (If Project Reason anytime will upload the Babylonian Talmud, feel free to use this material of course):
First: there are no 1st folios. The Introduction-section takes place there, what was made by the editors of Soncino. (I use the Soncino version.) Also in the long tractates like this the Mishnahs are not numbered, and chapters do not have to mentioned for telling where the quotation is from, as folios tells a better idea.
Note: The Sanhedrin very much knows about death-penalty. I am against death-penalty.
Note2: There is a most stupid principle in the talmudic scholars’ thinking: when they see a plural, they immediatelly consider the involvement of other people. Eg.: “For this case two witness is needed. They come here. They are witnessing.” - in this case they’ll think 6 witness is needed, what I call bullshit.
Folio 3b, Footnote 10
Category: Good thing
text: “Who requires the unanimous verdict”
Explanation: at court when the law is applied, the judgement is given anonymously.
Category: Cruelty & Violence
text: The use of blood is mentioned [for application] above the line;10 and the use of blood is mentioned [for application] below the line.11 Just as in the case of the blood to be applied below the line, one application effects atonement,12 so should it be with the blood to be applied above the line.
But you may argue this way: Sprinkling is prescribed for sacrifices offered on the outer altar13 and also for those offered on the inner altar.14 As in the case of those offered on the inner altar, expiation is not effected if one application has been omitted, so should it be with sacrifices offered on the outer altar!
Let us, however, see to which it is to be compared. Comparisons may be made between sacrifices offered on [the same] the outer altar, but not between sacrifices offered on the outer and inner altars.15
But may you not, on the other hand, argue in this way? We can compare sin offerings, the blood of which is applied on the four horns of the altar,16 to other sin offerings, the blood of which is applied on the four horns,17 but no proof can be deduced from such a sacrifice as is neither a sin offering nor has the blood sprinkled on the four horns of the altar!18 Hence on account of this latter analogy, Wekipper has to be repeated three times, to indicate that atonement is effected by means of three sprinklings, or even by means of two, or indeed even by means of one alone.
Explanation: This part is about animal sacrifices
Note3: on Folio 5 the superiority of the Babylonian Talmud is explained over the Jerusalemic Talmud.
text: What was the reason that Rab was not authorised to permit the slaughter of firstborn animals? Was it that he was not learned2 enough? But have we not just said that he was very learned? Was it because he was not an expert in judging defects? But did not Rab himself say: I spent eighteen months with a shepherd in order to learn which was a permanent and which a passing blemish? â€” Rabbi withheld that authorisation from Rab, as a special mark of respect to Rabbah b. Hana.3 Or, if you prefer, I might say that for the very reason that Rab was a special expert in judging blemishes, he might in consequence declare permissible, with a view to slaughter, [permanent] defects which to others might not be known as such. These latter might thus be led to maintain that Rab had passed cases of such a kind and so to declare permissible transitory blemishes.
Explanation: The rabbi was too well-qualified, gathered higher knowledge then other, therefor was forbidden for him to practice on the field he was specializing.
text: The view of Resh Lakish18 is as follows: When two men bring a case before you, one weak [i.e. of small influence], the other strong [of great influence], before you have heard their case, or even after, so long as you are in doubt in whose favour judgment is inclining, you may tell them: ‘I am not bound to decide in your case’, lest the man of great influence should be found guilty, and use his influence to harass the judge
Explanation: You shall always sign yourself “unable to decide” when it turns out, that the litigant with higher influence is the guilty party!
text: the story of the golden calf, as it is written: And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it.3 What did he actually see? â€” R. Benjamin b. Japhet says, reporting R. Eleazar: He saw Hur lying slain before him and said [to himself]: If I do not obey them, they will now do unto me as they did unto Hur, and so will be fulfilled [the fear of] the prophet, Shall the Priest and the Prophet be slain in the Sanctuary of God?4
Explanation: Footnote 4 tells from what text Aaron quoted, and that’s Lam. II, 20. It’d be strange if you’d think Lamentations was already written in Aaron’s age.
text: There was yet another who used to say: When a woman slumbers the [working] basket drops off her head.17 Said Samuel to Rab Judah: This is alluded to in the verse, By slothfulness the rafters sink in.18
Explanation: lazyness is a woman-thing.
text: Resh Lakish said: He who appoints an incompetent judge over the Community is as though he had planted an Asherah13 in Israel, for it is written: Judges and officers shalt thou appoint unto thee, and soon after it is said: Thou shalt not plant thee Asherah of any kind of tree.14 R. Ashi said: And if such an appointment be made in a place where scholars are to be found, it is as though the Asherah were planted beside the Altar, for the verse concludes with the words: beside the altar of the Lord thy God.15
Again, it is written: Ye shall not make with Me gods of silver or gods of gold.16 Is it only gods of silver and gold that may not be made, while those of wood are permitted? â€” The verse, says R. Ashi, refers to judges appointed through the power of silver or gold.
Explanation: Only the worship of the biblegod is permitted.
Category: Science / Absurdity
text: As the nursing father carrieth the sucking child.
Explanation: Males do not have milk to feed their sucklings. Mothers have.
text: All those under sentence of death according to the Torah are to be executed only by the decree of a court of twenty-three, after proper evidence and warning, and provided the warners have let them know that they are liable to a death sentence at the hand of the Court.
Explanation: I have no idea how this will work. Give a warning to the person? This means all jews are mind-reader? Because otherwise I see not, how they could give a warning before the crime. Or in the middle of the crime? I’m raping someone, they warn me, and if I stop, I can get away with it? What about the “warning on death sentence”? Why they have to do that? I can’t refuse anyway to go to court, do I? (The Talmud elsewhere says you can not.) As death-penalty is the harshest in the Talmud, people just for sure wil go around telling you can be executed for any crime if you’d force this.
Category: Absurdity / Injustice
text: And just as in the case of two witnesses, if one is found to be a near kinsman or otherwise disqualified4 person, the whole testimony is rendered void, so in the case of three witnesses, the disqualification of one invalidates the whole evidence. And whence do we infer that this law would apply even if the number of witnesses reached a hundred? â€” We infer it from the repetition of the word witnesses.
Explanation: So in the most serious cases you should not present every evidence avaiable, just the possible minimum, because if one of your wittness is disqualified, all your wittnesses will be disqualified. This makes revealing the truth impossible, and is unfair to the wittnesses with whom otherwise have no problem.
Category: Absurdity / Injustice
text: A criminal cannot be executed unless he was cautioned by two who witnessed the crime
Explanation: if they saw it, why didn’t stop it? They had enough time to make a formal warning, so they had too the time to stop the act.
text: Ben Zakkai once examined the witnesses minutely, enquiring as to the size of the prickles on the fig-[tree under which a certain crime had been committed].6: Hence, according to R. Meir, who agrees with Ben Zakkai, the testimony is invalidated as a result of contradictions in the evidence regarding accompanying circumstances.
Explanation: you must be a robot to be that precise.
text: Every man is considered a relative to himself, and no one can incriminate himself.
Explanation: So all the work of police-officiers to get confession form the criminals on what they did, is a waste of effort.
Folio 9b, Footnote 13
text: he principle that we consider only half of his testimony as evidence.
Explanation: how can you accept HALF of the evidence? Which half?
text: Does he mean to say that only half of a man’s evidence is to be considered?
Explanation: how can you accept HALF of the evidence? Which half?
Category: Cruelty & Violence
text: If so, why then the need of medical opinion as to the amount of lashes the condemned can stand? Let him be beaten, and, should he die, well, let him die!
Category: Absurdity, Science
text: (just read the whole shit about the months and years)
Explanation: I find it ridiculous that by occasional observation the start of months are decided, and the lenght of them (and years too through that) varies highly. I also find ridiculous that the start of month / year has to be declared by a Court.
Ok, I’ve reached the end of the first chapter (finishes in the middle of folio 18a), so I put here new notes-suggestions:
text: he only wished to save the intruder from humiliation.
explanation: this is a returning theme of the talmudic jews behaviour. What worries me is, that it don’t give a clear limit how far this behaviour can be practiced, therefor you can never be sure you got the real sinner if you’re dealing with jews.
category: injustice, absurdity
text: , The Lord said unto Joshua, Get thee up, wherefore, now, art thou fallen upon thy face? Israel hath sinned :‘Master of the Universe,’ asked Joshua, ‘who are the sinners?’ ‘Am I an informer?’ replied God. ‘Go and cast lots [to find out].’
explanation: God IS an informer, even in this case. But this punish-randomly system he orders is immoral.
text: Since the death of the last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah and Malachai, the Holy Spirit [of prophetic inspiration] departed from Israel; yet they were still able to avail themselves of the Bath-kol.
explanation: Bath-kol is a “voice from Heaven”, a supernatural entity. That alone worth signing this as absurdity.
text: There is one amongst you who is worthy that the Shechinah16 should rest on him as it did on Moses, but his generation does not merit it.
explanation: punishment for acts of others.
text: Samuel the Little also said shortly before he passed away: ‘Simeon17 and Ishmael18 will meet their death by the sword, and his friends19 will be executed; the rest of the people will be plundered, and many troubles will come upon the world.’
explanation: the Soncino edition itself signs this as a retroactive prophecy: “But this statement lacks historical support, as Samuel the Little died nearly half a century after the destruction of the Temple, whereas Simeon died before that event.”
The part on the jewish calendar is just one big absurdity, as its most important base is, wether the sacrifisical material is ready to be sacrifised or not. I will not look for all references to all animal-sacrifises for now.
NOTE: The Talmud contains many unfinished cases, and for those many differing opinions. Therfor the cathegory “contradiction” from the SAB-system would have no use on the account of the Talmud.
But also for this: all opinion aren’t just “that’s specific rabbi’s opinion”, but all opinion are equally valid opinion, and the reader / examiner / practicer can without restriction choose from them.
folio 12a, footnote 16
text: (Edom) is used by the Talmudists for the Roman Empire, as they applied to Rome every passage of the Bible referring to Edom or Esau. In the middle ages it came to be used symbolically of Christianity, and that accounts for the substitution of [H] ‘Aramean’ in censored editions.
explanation: yep, that’s why people like the Soncino edition and don’t trust others.
folio 12a, footnote 23
text: Akiba was kept in prison several years before being finally martyred for practising and teaching the Jewish religion
NOTE: yep. The Talmudists like to refer all executed jew by another religion as “martyr”.
text: Our Rabbis taught: We may not intercalate a Sabbatical year25 nor the year following a Sabbatical year.26
explanation: if you check the footnotes and the context, this is where it turns out, that common sense actually takes place over religious prescriptions
folio 12a, footnote 30
text: Foreign soil was declared unclean.
explanation: you rly need it?
folio 13b, footnote 28
text: This type of exegesis, deducing identity of fact from identity of language, is called gezerah shawah, and it is a well-established principle that such deduction could not be made by a scholar without a direct tradition from his teacher that that particular identity of phraseology was intended to intimate identity of law. R. Simeon had no such tradition in respect of these two words.
explanation: that’s about anything of the Talmud, The Oral Law having divine origin. If not everyne has the same tradition, then all is man-made.
After here comes the ritual slaughtering of some heifer, if anyone is interrested.
NOTE: see how jewish thinking works:
in folio 14a a case is described when “once the wicked Government,1 [as an act of religious persecution],2 decreed that whoever performed an ordination should be put to death”. So the rabbi “went and sat between two great mountains, [that lay] between two large cities; between the Sabbath boundaries of the cities.” “His purpose was that no city or region should suffer.”
This story contains also double standard allowed for jews to use it seems, what no surprise leads to problems.
text: With R. Judah b. Baba were in fact some others, but in honour to him, they were not mentioned.
explanation: so for religious purposes jews actually cenzore historycal records of their own.
folio 14a, footnote 21
text: I.e., office brings with it moral improvement.
explanation: this is of course not true.
text: When R. Abbahu arrived at the Emperor’s Court (25 - At Caesarea) from College, the ladies of the court went out to receive him and sang to him: Great man of thy people, leader of thy nation, lantern of light, thy coming be blessed with peace.
explanation: yeah, the roman emperor as a ~follower of judaism, lol.
text: Even a Gentile or the owner may be amongst the assessors.
explanation: so whatever office is mentioned, and “gentiles” (= nonjews) are not specifically mentioned, they can not take that office.
text: R. Abbahu said: This refers to one who declares, ‘I dedicate my value;’ when the Priest comes to collect it, [on his failure to pay], (7 - In case of non-payment his property is seized.)
explanation: I find it absurd if you decide to give some money for charity, then it turns out you can’t afford it, then the foundation can come and seize your proprty by force.
NOTE on tamudic thinking: in folio 15a you find this: “hair that is ready to be shorn? Is it regarded as already shorn”. This can lead to very ‘interresting’ situations (like still iiving beings considered dead, like in that Monty Pyton Movie ‘The Holy Garil’).
text: It must therefore refer to a tribe that was beguiled [into idolatry].
text: Rabina says: I still maintain that the case in question is that of a tribe led astray into idolatry, and if you object that such should be judged after the manner of a multitude [I say,] True! though they are executed as individuals
folio 16a, footnote 20
text: That analogy was not handed down to him by his teachers, and no man may set up an analogy of his own.
explanation: then how come these analogies into existence?
Here comes a part about the Urim and the Tummim, what in itself worth noted as absurdity.
category: injustice, intolerance, cruelity
text: At the coming of dawn, the Sages of Israel entered into his presence and said unto him: ‘Our Sovereign King, thy people Israel need sustenance.’ ‘Go and support yourselves by mutual trading,‘42 David replied, ‘But,’ said they, ‘a handful does not satisfy the lion, nor can a pit be filled with its own clods.‘43 Whereupon David said to them: ‘Go and stretch forth your hands with a troop [of soldiers].’ (44 - Invade foreign territory)
explanation: I know all about “historical context”, but we’re talking about divine law here!
text: THE CONDEMNATION OF A TOWN [etc.]. Whence is this derived? â€” R. Hiyya b. Joseph said in R. Oshaia’s name: Scripture states, Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman,32 [teaching,] an individual man or woman thou mayest bring to thy gates
explanation: this gives the instruction for jews how to commit ganocide against whole jewish towns.
category: cruelity&violence;, intolerance
text: near the border, even a single city cannot be condemned. Why? Lest the Gentiles become aware of it and destroy the whole of Eretz Yisrael.
text: With thee’ intimates that [the elders must] be like thee, (6 - E.g., in purity of family descent and bodily perfection.) [Moses].
explanation: yeah. Purity of the race, and “Ã¼bermensch” - exactly the nazi ideology.
folio 17a, footnote 16
text: According to a widespread tradition, Gog and Magog represented the heathen nations or aggregate powers of evil
explanation: so the “heathen” (= nonjew) nations are “aggregate power of evil”
category: intolerance, prophecy
text: R. Nahman said: They prophesied concerning Gog and Magog.. (16 - According to a widespread tradition, Gog and Magog represented the heathen nations or aggregate powers of evil, as opposed to Israel and the Kingdom of God, v. ‘Eduy. II, 5. Ezekiel (XXXVIII, 2; XXXIX, 6) pictured the final destruction of the heathen world before the city of Jerusalem, as the defeat of Gog and Magog.) as it is said, Thus saith the Lord God: Art thou he of whom I spoke in old time by My servants the prophets of Israel, that prophesied in those days for many years17 that I would bring thee against them?
explanation: so here we find a prophecy in the Talmud, that prophecyses that God will lead the jews to war to destroy all nonjew nations.
folio 17a, footnote 30
category: absurdity, family value
text: Communal activities bring sorrow
text: None are to be appointed members of the Sanhedrin, but men of stature, wisdom, good appearance, mature age, with a knowledge of sorcery,38 and who are conversant with all the seventy languages of mankind, (39 - This number is given frequently in Talmud and Midrash as the number of languages existing in the world.) in order that the court should have no need of an interpreter.
explanation: so there is only 70 languages on the world (or at least was in talmudic times).
vategory: absurdity, injustice
text: None is to be given a seat on the Sanhedrin unless he is able to prove the cleanness of a reptile from Biblical texts.
explanation: yeah, just be able to come to the conclusion you like, and to the heck with real justice and truth!
Ok, let’s see Chapter 2.
text: THE KING MAY NEITHER JUDGE NOR BE JUDGED, TESTIFY NOR BE TESTIFIED AGAINST.
explanation: So the king is outside the law. But noone should be above the law.
category: absurdity, injustice
text: And hide thyself from them;13 (Deut. XXII, 4, in reference to the return of lost objects. ) ... E.g., when ... his work is of greater value than his neighbour’s [loss]:
explanation: so it’s all about the money!
category: absurdity, violence
text: Then said Simeon b. Shetah unto them: ‘Are ye wrapped in thoughts? Let the Master of thoughts [God] come and call you to account!’ Instantly, Gabriel (the angel) came and smote them to the ground, and they died.
Also on 19b there is an “interresting” discussion about David, and the philistean foreskins’ value.
text: What is a dargesh? â€” ‘Ulla said: The bed of the domestic genius
explanation: “domestic genious” is a lucky ghost of the house.
text: HE [THE KING] MAY LEAD FORTH [THE HOST] TO A VOLUNTARY WAR7 (... Voluntary war is waged merely with the object of extending territory. ...) ON THE DECISION OF A COURT OF SEVENTY-ONE.
explanation: that’s about judaism being all-peacuful.
text: : Three commandments were given to Israel when they entered the land: ... [ii] to cut off the seed of Amalek,
text: Resh Lakish said: At first, Solomon reigned over the higher beings,31 ( I.e., his influence reached the highest spheres, the angels and the spirits. )
text: The other says: Tifsah and Gaza were beside each other,36 and just as he (Solomon) reigned over these, so did he reign over the whole world.
category: family value
tetx: NEITHER SHALL HE MULTIPLY WIVES TO HIMSELF (the king).. â€” ONLY EIGHTEEN.
category: family value
text: David had four hundred children
folio 21a, footnote 30
category: family value, sex & violence
text: Captive woman taken as concubines by the king because of their beauty. V. Deut. XXI, 10-13.
category: family value, sex
text: Rab Judah further said in Rab’s name: Tamar was a daughter of a yefath to’ar, as it is written, Now therefore I pray thee,33 speak unto the King, for he will not withhold me from thee.34 Now, should you imagine that she was the offspring of a legitimate marriage, how could his sister have been granted him [in marriage]? We must infer therefore, that she was the daughter of a yefath-to’ar.
explanation: according to this, if a son have a half-sister, the Talmud doesn’t consider their relationship incest
text: Then Amnon hated her with exceeding great hatred etc. For what reason? â€” R. Isaac answered: A hair becoming entangled, mutilated him privily. If this happened of itself, what was her part in it? â€” But we might rather say that she entangled it and caused, mutilation.
text: It is that the daughters of Israel had neither under-arm nor pubic hair?40 â€” It was otherwise with Tamar, for she was the daughter of a yefath to’ar.
explanation: so biological change happened because of “sin”? (the context clarifies that this is really stated)
folio 21b, footnote 5
text: An Aggadah quoted by Rashi runs as follows: A golden rod passed through the hollow of the crown, from one end to the other, which fitted into a cleft or indenture in the skull â€” a mark peculiar to some in the house of David. Only he whom the crown fitted was deemed worthy to be king.
explanation: we no longer have the crown, therefor it can not be known who’d be a descendant of David, therefor the jews can never have king again!
category: absurdity, science
text: And he prepared him chariots and horses and fifty men to run before him. What is there remarkable in this? â€” Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: They all had their spleen8 (The spleen causes a feeling of heaviness (Rashi). [The old belief that the removal of the spleen facilitates fast running is also recorded by Plinius, v. Preuss, Biblischtalmudische Medizin, p. 249.]) and also the flesh of the soles of their feet cut off.9 (So that they might be fleet of foot and impervious to briars and thorns.)
text: Thus, it is only because Scripture wrote ‘lo’ [to him]: but otherwise, might we have thought that even those necessary for his chariots and horsemen are forbidden?20 (Surely not â€” a king without these would be a nonentity. )
explanation: Well, currently no army MUST have horses
category: family value
text: Now that you say that ‘lo’ [to him] is for purpose of exegesis, how will you interpret, He shall not multiply wives ‘lo’ [to himself]?24 â€” As excluding commoners.25 (Who are not so restricted in wives.)
category: absurdity, history
text: Rab Judah raised a point of contradiction [in the following passages:] It is written, And Solomon had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots.26 But elsewhere we read, And Solomon had four thousand stalls for horses and chariots.27 How are these [to be reconciled]? Thus: If he had forty thousand stables, each of them must have contained four thousand horsestalls; and if he had four thousand stables, each of them must have contained forty thousand stalls.
explanation: so Solomon had 160,000,000 (= 160 million) horses.
category: absurdity, science & history
text: R. Isaac raised the following point of contradiction: It is written, Silver was nothing accounted for in the days of Solomon,28 and further, And the king made silver to be in Jerusalem [as plentiful] as stones.29 [Hence it had some value?] But these verses present no difficulty; the former refers to the period before he married Pharaoh’s daughter; the latter, to the period after he married her.30 (In punishment for which the prosperity of the country waned; hence silver assumed some value.
explanation: I just awe on this explanation.
category: absurdity, science & history
text: he married Pharaoh’s daughter
explanation: this phrase verifies that jews believed “Pharao” is a name, not a rank
category: absurdity, science
text: R. Isaac said: When Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, Gabriel descended and stuck a reed in the sea, which gathered a sand-bank around it, on which was built the great city of Rome.
explanation: So that’s how Rome was built!
text: Solomon said, ‘I will multiply them, but will not cause [Israel] to return [to Egypt].’ Yet we read: And a chariot came up and went out of Egypt for six [hundred shekels of silver].36 (I Kings X, 29. Israelites went to and fro, trading with Egypt.)
explanation: so even trading means “returning”. Seems all relation is forbidden for the jews to Egypt, what is racism.
text: Mar Zutra or, as some say, Mar ‘Ukba said: Originally the Torah was given to Israel in Hebrew characters and in the sacred [Hebrew] language; later, in the times of Ezra,46 the Torah was given in Ashshurith script47 and Aramaic language. [Finally], they selected for Israel48 the Ashshurith script and Hebrew language, leaving the Hebrew characters and Aramaic language for the hedyototh.
explanation: so the “original” Talmud is actually a translation of a translation. Also the accusation that the Talmud (check Berachoth 5a) / Tanach was written in a “secret language” do stands.
text: Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: On that occasion Bath-Sheba dried herself thirteen times.31 (I.e., they had intercourse (that many times).)
text: R. Eliezer33 said: For him who divorces the first wife, the very altar sheds tears,
text: R. Samuel b. Unya said in the name of Rab: A woman [before marriage] is a shapeless lump,
folio 22b, footnote 20
text: As a precautionary measure against drunkenness lest the Temple be suddenly rebuilt and the Priests called upon to enter upon its service, [cf. Yad Ramah].
explanation: bug buildings don’t build in a couple of hours!
text: The following [priests] are liable to death: those who let their hair grow and those who are drunk with wine.
text: Rabbi was asked: In what fashion was the hair of the High Priest cut? â€” He answered: Go and observe the haircut of Ben Eleasa.35 It has been taught: Not for nothing did Ben Eleasa expend money so lavishly upon his hairdressing, but to display the High-Priestly fashion.
explanation: this is a “hugh help” to the reader. A drawing would’ve fit better.