Rabbi Yochanan the son of Zacchai lived a hundred and twenty years; forty he devoted to commerce, forty to study, and forty to teaching.
Rosh Hashanah, fol. 30, col. 2.
One hundred and twenty elders, and among them several prophets, bore a part in composing the Eighteen Blessings (the Shemonah Esreh).
Meggillah, fol. 17, col. 2.
A similar tradition was current among the early Christians, with reference to the composition of the Creed. Its different sentences were ascribed to different apostles. However fitly this tradition may represent the community of faith with which the prophets on the one hand and the apostles on the other were inspired, it is not recommended by the critic as a proceeding calculated to ensure unity in a work of art.
Rabbi Shemuel says advantage may be taken of the mistakes of a Gentile. He once bought a gold plate as a copper one of a Gentile for four zouzim, and then cheated him out of one zouz into the bargain. Rav Cahana purchased a hundred and twenty vessels of wine from a Gentile for a hundred zouzim, and swindled him in the payment out of one of the hundred, and that while the Gentile assured him that he confidently trusted to his honesty. Rava once went shares with a Gentile and bought a tree, which was cut up into logs. This done, he bade his servant go to pick him out the largest logs, but to be sure to take no more than the proper number, because the Gentile knew how many there were. As Rav Ashi was walking abroad one day he saw some grapes growing in a roadside vineyard, and sent his servant to see whom they belonged to. "If they belong to a Gentile," he said, "bring some here to me; but if they belong to an Israelite, do not meddle with them." The owner, who happened to be in the vineyard, overheard the Rabbi's order and called out, "What! is it lawful to rob a Gentile?" "Oh, no," said
the Rabbi evasively; "a Gentile might sell, but an Israelite would not."
Bava Kama, fol. 113, col. 2.
This is given simply as a sample of the teaching of the Talmud on the subject both by precept and example. There is no intention to cast a slight on general Jewish integrity, or suggest distrust in regard to their ethical creed.
Rabbon Gamliel, Rabbi Eliezer ben Azaryah, Rabbi Yehoshua, and Rabbi Akiva once went on a journey to Rome, and at Puteoli they already heard the noisy din of the city, though at a distance of a hundred and twenty miles. At the sound all shed tears except Akiva, who began to laugh. "Why laughest thou?" they asked. "Why do you cry?" he retorted. They answered, "These Romans, who worship idols of wood and stone and offer incense to stars and planets, abide in peace and quietness, while our Temple, which was the footstool of our God, is consumed by fire; how can we help weeping?" "That is just the very reason," said he, "why I rejoice; for if such be the lot of those who transgress His laws, what shall the lot of those be who observe and do them?"
Maccoth, fol. 24, col. 2.