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

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Compilation of the Talmud—Rabbi Judah the Holy—Mishna—Gemara—General Survey of the Six Orders or Volumes of the Mishna.

The Talmud (teaching) comprises the Mishna and the Gemara. The Mishna ("learning" or "second law") was, according to Jewish tradition, delivered to Moses on Mount Sinai. "Rabbi Levi, the son of Chama, says, Rabbi Simon, the son of Lakish, says, what is that which is written, 'I will give thee tables of stone, and a law and commandments which I have written, that thou mayest teach them'? 1 The Tables are the ten commandments; the Law is the written law; and the commandment is the Mishna; 'which I have written' means the prophets and sacred writings; 'that thou mayest teach them' means the Gemara. It teaches us that they were all given to Moses from Mount Sinai." From Moses the Mishna was transmitted by oral tradition through forty "Receivers," until the time of Rabbi Judah the Holy. These Receivers were qualified by ordination to hand it on from generation to generation. Abarbanel and Maimonides disagree as to the names of these Receivers. While the temple still stood as a centre of unity to the nation, it was considered unlawful to reduce these traditions to writing. But when the Temple was burned, and the Jews were dispersed amongst other peoples, it was considered politic to form them into a written code, which should serve as a bond of union, and keep alive the spirit of patriotism. The Jewish leaders saw the effect of Constitutions

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and Pandects in consolidating nations—the advantage of written laws over arbitrary decisions. Numberless precedents of case law, answering to our common law, were already recorded: and the teachings of the Hebrew jurisconsults, or "Responsa prudentium," which were held to be binding on the people, had been preserved from former ages. All these traditions Rabbi Judah the Holy undertook to reduce into one digest. And this laborious work he completed about A.D. 190, or more than a century after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Rabbi Judah was born on the day that Rabbi Akibah died. Solomon is said to have foretold the event: "One sun ariseth, and one sun goeth down." Akibah was the setting and Judah the rising sun. The Mishna of Rabbi Judah, afterwards revised by Abba Areka in Sura, is the text of the Babylon Talmud. The commentaries written on this text by various Rabbis in the neighbourhood of Babylon, until the close of the fifth century, are called the Gemara (completion); and are published in twelve folio volumes, called the Babylon Talmud—the Talmud most esteemed by the Jews. The Jerusalem Talmud contains commentaries written partly by Rabbis in Jamnia and partly in Tiberias, where they were completed by Rabbi Jochanan in the beginning of the fourth century. As now published it has only four out of the six orders or books of the Mishna, with the treatise Niddah from the sixth. In the time of Maimonides it contained five orders. On twenty-six treatises it has no Gemara, though in the treatise on shekels the Gemara of Jerusalem is used for the Babylon Talmud. The six books of the Mishna are subdivided into sixty-three treatises, in the following manner:—


This book, called Order of Seeds, contains the following treatises:—

1. Blessings, together with prayers and thanksgivings, with the times and places in which they are to be used.

2. A Corner of a Field (Lev. xxiii. 22; Deut. xxiv. 19)

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treats of the corners of the field to be left for the poor to glean them—the forgotten sheaves, olives, and grapes—and of giving alms, etc.

3. Doubtful treats of the doubt about the tithes being paid, as the Jews were not allowed to use anything without its being first tithed.

4. Diversities (Lev. xix. 19; Deut. xxii. 9-11) treats of the unlawful mixing or joining together things of a different nature or kind—of sowing seeds of a different species in one bed—grafting a scion on a stock of a different kind, suffering cattle of different kinds to come together.

5. The Sabbatical Year (Exod. xxiii. 11; Lev. xxv. 4) treats of the laws which regulated the land as it lay fallow and rested.

6. Heave Offerings (Num. xviii. 8) treats of separating the heave offering—who may eat it, and who may not eat of it—of its pollutions, etc.

7. The First Tithes (Lev. xxvii. 30; Num. xviii. 28) treats of the law of tithes for the priests.

8. The Second Tithes (Deut. xiv. 22; xxvi. 14) treats of those which were to be carried to Jerusalem and there eaten, or to be redeemed and the money spent in Jerusalem in peace offerings.

9. Cake of Dough (Num. xv. 20) treats of setting apart a cake of dough for the priests; also, from what kind of dough the cake must be separated.

10. Uncircumcised Fruit (Lev. xix. 23) treats of the unlawfulness of eating the fruit of any tree till the fifth year. The first three years it is uncircumcised; the fourth year it is holy to the Lord; the fifth year it may be eaten.

11. First Fruits (Exod. xxiii. 19; Deut. xxvi. 1) treats of what fruits were to be offered in the Temple, and in what manner; also of the baskets in which they were to be carried.

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1. Sabbath treats of the laws relating to the seventh day.

2. Mixtures, or combinations, treats of the extension of boundaries, whereby all the inhabitants of the court, or entry, where the mixture is made, are counted as one family inhabiting one domicile; and are therefore allowed to carry victuals from one house to another. It also treats of the mixtures for a Sabbath day's journey, whereby the distance may be extended for an additional 2000 cubits.

3. Passovers treats of all rites and ceremonies relating to the Paschal Lamb.

4. Shekels (Exod. xxx. 13) treats of the half shekel, which every Jew, rich or poor, was obliged to pay every year to the daily sacrifice.

5. Day of Atonement treats of the solemnities peculiar to it.

6. Tabernacles teaches how they are to be built, and how to be used.

7. The egg laid on a Festival treats of the works which may or may not be done on any of the Festivals, which are called days of holy convocation, on which no servile work may be done.

8. New Year treats of the laws and solemnities of the feast of the New Year, as also of the feasts of the New Moons.

9. Fasts treats of the various fasts throughout the year.

10. The Roll treats of the feast of Purim, and gives instructions how and in what manner the Book of Esther and other Lessons are to be read. The Gemara directs Jews to get so drunk on this feast, that they cannot discern the difference between "Blessed be Mordecai and cursed be Haman," and "Cursed be Mordecai and blessed be Haman."

11. Minor Feasts treats of the works, that may and that may not be lawfully done on the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, and 6th days, when the first and seventh are holy; these intermediate days being lesser festivals.

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12. Sacrifices on Festivals treats of the three great festivals, when all the males were obliged to appear before the Lord, and of the sacrifices which they were to bring. It also lays down rules for the dissolution of vows, which it says "are like mountains hanging on a hair, for the text is slender and the constitutions many."



1. Brother's Widow (Deut. xxv. 5-11) treats of the law obliging a brother to marry the relict of his deceased brother; also, when the obligation is to take place, and the ceremonies to be used at its performance.

2. Marriage Settlements treats of dowries and women who happen to obtain estates, either real or personal. From this tract the baptism of infant proselytes can be proved.

3. Vows (Num. xxx. 4-16) shows when vows are binding and when null and void. When a married woman makes a vow the husband can confirm or annul it. This tract points out what vows fall under his cognizance and what do not.

4. The Nazarite (Num. vi. 21) treats of the laws relating to the different sorts of Nazarites.

5. Trial of Jealousy (Num. v. 11-31) treats of the mode of trial and punishment of criminals. Men may go home to their wives from voluntary wars, but not from wars of command. This tract shows the miserable state of the Jews at the destruction of the second Temple, and at the future advent of the Messiah.

6. Divorces treats of the laws relating to divorces, also the formalities to be observed both before and after they are given. A man may divorce his wife if she spoil his broth, or if he find another more handsome.

7. Betrothing treats of the laws of espousals and some other previous rites of marriage. It commands sons to be taught suitable trades. It states that all ass-drivers are

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wicked, camel-drivers are honest, sailors are pious, physicians are destined for hell, and butchers are company for Amalek.



1. First Gate, so called because in the East law is often administered in the gateway of a city. It treats of all such damages as may be received from man or beast. It assesses damages done by a beast according to the benefit which the beast receives. If it eat a peck of dates its owner would be fined for a peck of barley, as dates are not more nourishing for a beast than barley.

2. The Middle Gate treats of laws of usury and trusts, of letting out on hire, of landlord and tenant, etc.

3. Last Gate treats of the laws of commerce and co-partnership, of buying and selling, of the laws of inheritance and the right of succession.

4. Sanhedrin treats of the great national senate.

5. Stripes treats of false witnesses, of the law of the forty stripes save one, of those who were bound to fly to the cities of refuge.

6. Oaths explains the laws for administering oaths; when an oath is to be admitted between contending parties who are qualified to take them. In Hilchoth Eduth. ix. 1 it is taught that ten sorts of persons are disqualified—women, slaves, children, idiots, deaf persons, the blind, the wicked, the despised, relations, and those interested in their evidence.

7. Evidences are a collection of many important decisions gathered from the testimonies of distinguished Rabbis. It is observable that the decisions of the School of Shammai are more rigorous than those of the School of Hillel, from whence it is inferred that the former adhered more closely to Scripture, the latter to tradition. The former were the Scribes, and are now represented by the Karaites, who reject the Talmud.

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8. Idolatry, or the worship of stars and meteors, treats of the way to avoid this grievous sin.

9. The Fathers contains a history of those who handed down the Oral Law, also many maxims and proverbs.

10. Punishment treats of the punishment of those disobedient to the Sanhedrin (Deut. xvii. 8-11).



1. Sacrifices treats of the nature and quality of the offerings; the time, the place, and the persons, by whom they ought to be killed, prepared, and offered.

2. Meat Offerings treats of the flour, oil, and wine, and the wave loaves.

3. Unconsecrated Things treats of what is clean and unclean, of not eating the sinew that shrank, and not killing the dam and her young in one day (Deut. xxii. 6).

4. First Born treats of their redemption by money, and their being offered in sacrifice; also of the tithes of all manner of cattle.

5. Estimations (Lev. xxvii. 2) treats of the way in which things devoted to the Lord are to be valued in order to be redeemed for ordinary use; also, how a priest is to value a field which a person has sanctified.

6. Exchanges (Lev. xxvii. 10, 33) treats of the way exchanges are to be effected between sacred things.

7. Cutting off treats of offenders being cut off from the Lord.

8. Trespass (Num. v. 6, 8) treats of things partaking of the nature of sacrilege. It asserts that if a man take away a consecrated stone or beam he commits no trespass. If he give it to his companion he commits a trespass, but his companion commits none. If he build it into his house he commits no trespass till he lives in the house long enough to gain the value of an half-farthing. If he take away a consecrated half-farthing he commits no trespass. If he

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give it to his companion he commits a trespass, but his companion commits none. If he give it to a bath-keeper he commits a trespass though he does not bathe, because the bath-keeper says to him, "See, the bath is open; go in and bathe."

9. The Daily Sacrifice treats of the morning and evening offerings.

10. The Measurements treats of the measurements of the Temple.

11. Birds’ Nests treats of the mistakes about doves and beasts brought into the Temple for sacrifice.



1. Vessels treats of those which convey uncleanness (Lev. xi. 33).

2. Tents (Num. xix. 14) treats of tents and houses retaining uncleanness, how persons who enter them become unclean, and how they are to be cleansed.

3. Plagues of Leprosy treats of leprosy of men, garments, or dwellings, how their pollution is conveyed, and how they are to be purified.

4. The Red Heifer directs how she is to be burned, and how her ashes are to be used in purifying.

5. Purifications teaches how purifications are to be effected.

6. Pools of Water (Num. xxxi. 23) treats of their construction, and the quantity of water necessary for cleansing.

7. Separation of women.

8. Liquors that dispose seeds and fruits to receive pollution (Lev. xi. 38).

9. Issues that cause pollution.

10. Baptism on the day of uncleanness (Lev. xxii. 6).

11. Hands treats of the washing of hands before eating bread, though dry fruits are allowed to be eaten without such washing.

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12. Stalks of Fruit which convey Uncleanness treats of fruits growing out of the earth, which have a stalk and no husk. They can be polluted and can pollute, but may not be compounded with anything that was unclean before. If they have neither stalks nor husks they neither can be polluted nor can they pollute. It also treats of the hair and wool that grows on some fruits, and the beards of barley, etc.


1:1 Exod. xxiv. 12.

Next: Chapter II.