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

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Casuistry—Predestination and Free Will—Hereditary Sin—Philosophy—Geography—Astronomy—Astrology—Amulets and Charms—Sorcery—Legends.

The Talmud contains a system of casuistry in reference to the doctrines of intention and legal uncleanness. It proportions responsibility to the amount of intention, and thereby hands over tender consciences to the control of the Rabbis. It proportions legal uncleanness to every degree of approach to the source, or, as it is called, "the father" of uncleanness; and this again renders necessary continual appeals to the decision of the Rabbis.

Predestination and free will are both taught. "Everything is in the hands of heaven, except the fear of heaven." "All things are ordained of God, but men's actions are their own." When men wish to sin they are enjoined to go to a place where they are unknown, and to clothe themselves in black so as not to dishonour God openly. Hereditary sin was denied by the early Kabbalists, but the later ones allow it. They believe that all souls were created in Adam, and therefore partake of his fall. Every kind of philosophy known at the time of its compilation is more or less introduced into the Talmud, and all more or less tinged with Magian superstition. From this superstition grew the mysticism of the Jewish schools. All the arts and sciences, under some form or other, are alluded to, and references to historical events abound in its pages. When it is dangerous to speak of them openly they are veiled under some figure known only to the initiated. Some observations seem to anticipate future discoveries. The Antipodes are hinted at. And the Jerusalem Gemara says that Alexander the Great

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was represented as carrying a ball in his hand because he believed the figure of the earth to be a sphere. Astronomy is fully discussed. The planets are "moving stars." Mercury is "the star;" Venus, "splendour;" Mars, "redness;" Jupiter, "rightness;" Saturn, "the Sabbath star." The signs of the Zodiac have the same names as are now used. The Galaxy is "the river of light." Comets are "burning arrows." And it is said that when a comet passes through Orion it will destroy the world. A certain Ishmaelite merchant is related to have invited Rabba to come and see where the heavens and the earth touched. Rabba took his bread basket and placed it on the window while he prayed. He afterwards looked for it, but it was gone. He asked the Ishmaelite, "Are there thieves here?" "No," he replied, "but your basket has gone up in the revolving of the firmament. It will return if you wait till morning when the revolving of the firmament returns where it was before." Astrology is treated as a science which governs the life of man. The stars make men wise. The stars make them rich. "A man born on the first day of the week will excel in only one quality. He that is born on the second day will be an angry man, because on that day the waters were divided. He that is born on the third day of the week will be rich and licentious, because on it the herbs were created. He that is born on the fourth day will be wise and of good memory, because on that day the lights were hung up. He that is born on the fifth day will be charitable, because on that day the fishes and fowls were created. He that is born on the Sabbath, on the Sabbath he also shall die, because on his account they profaned the great Sabbath day." Rabba bar Shila says, "He shall be eminently holy." Rabbi Chanina says, "The influence of the stars makes wise, the influence of the stars makes rich, and Israel is under the influence of the stars." Rabbi Jochanan says, "Israel is not under the influence of the stars. Whence is it proved? 'Thus saith the Lord, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the heathen are dismayed at them' (Jer. x. 2). The heathen, but not Israel." "An

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eclipse of the sun is an evil sign to the nations of the world; an eclipse of the moon is an evil sign to Israel, for Israel reckons by the moon, the nations of the world by the sun." It is also said that Saturn and Mars are the baleful stars, and whosoever begins a work, or walks in the way, when either of these two is in the ascendant, will come to sorrow. Astrology naturally leads to amulets and charms. Amulets are divided into two classes, approved and disapproved. An approved amulet is "one that has cured three persons, or has been made by a man who has cured three persons with other amulets." Charms are abundantly provided against accidents. "For bleeding of the nose let a man be brought to a priest named Levi, and let the name Levi be written backwards. If there be not a priest, get a layman, who is to write backwards "Ana pipi Shila bar Sumki," or "Taam dli bemi ceseph, taam dli bemi pagam;" or let him take a root of grass, and the cord of an old bed, and paper, and saffron, and the red part of the inside of a palm tree, and let him burn them together, and let him take some wool, and twist two threads, and dip them in vinegar, and roll them in ashes, and put them into his nose; or let him look out for a stream of water which flows from east to west, and let him go and stand with one leg on each side of it, and let him take with his right hand some mud from under his left foot, and with his left hand from under his right foot, and let him twist two threads of wool, and dip them in the mud, and put them into his nose." If a man be bitten by a mad dog he must die, unless some remedy be found for him. "Abai says he must take the skin of a male adder, and write upon it, 'I, M, the son of the woman N, upon the skin of a male adder, write against thee, Kanti Kanti Klirus, but some say, Kandi Kandi Klurus, Lord of Hosts. Amen. Selah.' Let him also cast off his clothes, and bury them in a graveyard for twelve months of a year; then let him take them up, and bun them in a furnace, and let him strew the ashes at the parting of the roads. And during these twelve months let him only drink out of a brass tube, lest he see the phantom form of the demon, and he be endangered. This was done by Abba,

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the son of Martha—he is Abba, the son of Manjumi. His mother made him a tube of gold." Magic naturally follows from such teaching. Abba Benjamin says, "If leave had been given to see the hurtful demons, no creature could stand before them. Abbai says, "They are more than we are, and stand against us, like the trench round a garden bed." Rav Huni says, "Every one has a thousand on his left hand, and ten thousand on his right hand." Rabba says, "The want of room at the sermon is from them, the wearing out of the Rabbis’ clothes is from their rubbing against them, bruised legs are from them." "Whosoever wishes to know their existence, let him take ashes passed through a sieve, and strew them in his bed, and in the morning he will see the marks of a cock's claws. Whosoever wishes to see them, let him take the inner covering of a black cat, the kitten of a firstborn black cat, which is also the kitten of a firstborn, and let him burn it in the fire, and powder it, and fill his eyes with it, and he will see them. And let him pour the powder into an iron tube, and seal it with an iron signet, lest they steal any of it, and let him seal the mouth of it, lest any harm ensue. Rav Bibi bar Abbai did thus, and he was harmed, but the Rabbis prayed for mercy, and he was healed." Arts of sorcery are attributed to the Rabbis. They are represented as having the I power to create both men and melons. One of them is 'said to have changed a woman into an ass, and ridden the ass to market, when another sorcerer changed the ass again into a woman. This sorcery is traced to Abraham, who is said (Gen. xxv. 6) to have given his sons gifts. These gifts are stated to have been the arts of sorcery. Legends abound everywhere throughout the Talmud. Rabbi Judah said, Rav said, "Everything that God created in the world, He created male and female. And thus he did with leviathan, the piercing serpent, and leviathan the crooked serpent. He created them male and female; but if they had been joined together they would have desolated the whole world. What then did the Holy One do? He enervated the male leviathan, and slew the female, and

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salted her for the righteous in the time to come, for it is said, "And He shall slay the dragon that is in the sea" (Isa. xxvii. 1). Likewise, with regard to behemoth upon a thousand mountains, He created them male and female; but if they had been joined together they would have desolated the whole world. What then did the Holy One do? He enervated the male behemoth, and made the female barren, and preserved her for the righteous in the time to come." That period is to be a season of great feasting. The liquor to be drunk will be apple-wine of more than seventy years old. The cup of David alone will hold one hundred and twenty-one logs. It is related that a Rabbi once saw in a desert a flock of geese so fat that their feathers fell off, and the rivers flowed in fat. He said to them, "Shall we have part of you in the world to come?" One of them lifted up a wing and another a leg, to signify the parts we shall have. We should otherwise have had all parts of these geese, but that their sufferings are owing to us. It is our iniquities that have delayed the coming of the Messiah, and these geese suffer greatly by reason of their excessive fat, which daily increases, and will increase till the Messiah comes." Rabba bar Chama says that he once saw "a bird so tall, that its head reached to the sky and its legs to the bottom of the ocean." The water in which it stood was so deep that a carpenter's axe which had fallen in seven years before had not then reached the bottom. He also saw "a frog as large as a village containing sixty houses." This frog was swallowed up by a serpent, and this serpent in turn by a crow; this crow flew, and perched upon a cedar, and this cedar was as broad as sixteen waggons abreast. There is also an account of a fish which was killed by a worm. This fish, when driven ashore, destroyed sixty cities, and sixty cities ate of it, and sixty cities salted it, and with its bones the ruined cities were rebuilt. Stories are also told of fishes with eyes like the moon, and of horned fishes three hundred miles in length. These stories are intended to confirm the text, "They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; these

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see the works of the Lord and his wonders in the deep" (Ps. cvii. 23, 24). To illustrate the statement of Amos (iii. 8), a story is told of a lion which one of the Caesars wished to see. At 400 miles distance he roared, and the walls of Rome fell. At 300 miles he again roared, and all the people fell on their backs, and their teeth fell out, and Cæsar fell off his throne. Cæsar then prayed for his removal to a safer distance. The Talmud informs us that "a young unicorn, one day old, is as large as Mount Tabor." Consequently Noah had great difficulty in saving an old one alive. He could not get it into the ark, so he bound it by its horn to the side of the ark. At the same time Og, King of Bashan (being one of the antediluvians), was saved by riding on its back. We are further informed that he was one of the giants who came from the intermarriage of angels with the daughters of men. His footsteps were forty miles long, and one of his teeth served to make a couch for Abraham. When the Israelites came against him under the command of Moses, he inquired the size of their camp, and hearing that it was three miles in extent he tore up a mountain of that size, to hurl it upon them. Grasshoppers were, however, sent to bore holes in it, so that it fell over his head on to his neck. His teeth also grew and were entangled in the rocks, as the Psalmist says, "Thou hast broken the teeth of the ungodly" (Ps. iii. 7). He is also said to be identical with Eliezer the servant of Abraham, and to have been, like Enoch, translated to Paradise. This account, however, differs widely from the statements of the Jerusalem Targum on the Book of Numbers (xxi. 34). The Talmud affirms that Adam was made from dust of all parts of the earth; and that he was created with two faces, as it is written, "Thou hast beset me behind and before" (Ps. cxxxix. 5). The Rabbis further state that he was formed in two parts, one male and one female. His height before his fall reached to the firmament, but after his fall God put his hand upon him, and compressed him small. In the tenth hour after he was made, he sinned; and in the twelfth he was driven out of Paradise. Abraham

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is said to have put Sarah into a box when he brought her into Egypt, that none should see her beauty. At the custom-house toll was demanded. Abraham said he was ready to pay. The custom-house officers said, "Thou bringest clothes." He said, "I will pay for clothes." They said, "Thou bringest gold." He said, "I will pay for gold." They said, "Thou bringest silk." He said, "I will pay for silk." They said, "Thou bringest pearls." He said, "I will pay for pearls." They said, "Thou must open the box," whereupon her splendour shone over the whole land of Egypt.

Abraham, it is also said, had a precious stone hung round his throat, on which when the sick looked they were healed. Some of the laws of Sodom are also recorded: "Whosoever cut off the ears of another's ass received the ass till his ears grew again." "Whosoever wounded another, the man wounded was obliged to pay him for letting his blood." When the judges of Sodom attempted to fine Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, because another man had wounded him, he took up a stone and flung it at the judge. He then bid the judge to pay the fine, which was now due to him for letting his blood, to the man who had first wounded him. There was a public bed in Sodom, and every stranger was obliged to lie in it. If his legs were too long for it, they were cut off; and if too short, they were racked out to the proper length. When a traveller came, each citizen, to show his hospitality, was obliged to give him a coin with his name written upon it. The traveller was then deprived of bread; and when he had died of starvation, the citizens came, and each one took back his own money. The Sodomites thus kept up their character for liberality.

At the giving of the Law the Israelites stood at the lower part of the mount (Exod. xix. 17). Rabbi Avidmi says, "these words teach us that the Holy One, blessed be He, turned the mountain over them like a tub, and said to them, "If ye will receive the Law, well; but if not, there shall be your grave." Rabbi Joshua says, "As each commandment proceeded from the mouth of the Holy One, Israel retreated twelve miles, and the ministering angels lead them back, as

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it is said, 'The angels of the host did flee apace" 1 (Ps. lxviii. 13). Do not read 'they fled' but they led." Rabbi Eliezer, the Modite says, that Jethro "heard the giving of the Law; for when the Law was given to Israel His voice went from one end of the world to the other, and all the nations of the world were seized with trembling in their temples, and they repeated a hymn, as it is said, 'In His temple doth every one speak of His glory' (Ps. xxix. 9). The question is asked, "Why are the Gentiles defiled?" "Because they did not stand on Mount Sinai, for in the hour the serpent came to Eve he communicated defilement, which was removed from Israel when they stood on Mount Sinai." Rav Acha, the son of Rabba, said to Rav Ashai, "How then is it with proselytes?" He answered, "Although they went not there, their lucky star was there, as it is written, 'With him that standeth here with us this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day'" (Deut. xxix. 15). In the hour that Moses ascended up on high the ministering angels said before God, "O Lord of the world, what business has he that is born of woman amongst us?" He answered, "He is come to receive the Law." They replied, "This desirable treasure, which has been treasured up from the six days of creation, six hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created, dost Thou now wish to give it to flesh and blood? what is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that Thou visitest him? O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth, Who hast set Thy glory above the heavens." The Holy One said to Moses, "Return them an answer." He said, "O Lord of the world, I fear, lest they burn me with the breath of their mouth." God said, "Lay hold on the throne of my glory, and return them an answer; for it is said, He that holdeth the face of His throne, He spreadeth His cloud over him" (Job xxvi. 9). Rabbi Nahum says, "This means that the Almighty spread some of the glory of the Shechinah and His cloud over him." He then said, "Lord

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of the world, what is written in the Law that Thou art about to give me?" "I am the Lord thy God, that brought thee out of Egypt." He then said, "Did ye (angels) ever go down into Egypt and serve Pharaoh? why then should ye have the Law?" Again, "What is written therein?" "Thou shalt have none other God." He then asked them, "Do ye then dwell among the uncircumcised, that ye should commit idolatry?" Again, "What is written?" "Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it." "Do ye then do any work so as to need rest?" Again, "What is written?" "Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain." "Have ye then any work that would lead to this sin?" Again, "What is written?" "Honour thy father and mother." "Have ye then got any father or mother?" Again, "What is written?" "Thou shalt do no murder." "Thou shalt not commit adultery." "Thou shalt not steal." "Have ye then envy or the principle of evil amongst you?" Immediately they praised the Holy One, "Blessed be He." Wonderful stories are told of the manna. The manna is said to have fallen from heaven, accompanied by showers of pearls and precious stones. It tasted to every one according to his desire. If one wished for fat fowl, so it tasted. If another wished for honey, so it tasted, as it is written, "Thou hast lacked nothing" (Deut. xi. 7). The Targum of Jonathan goes on to inform us, "At the fourth hour, when the sun had waxed hot upon it, it melted and became streams of water, which flowed away into the great sea, and wild animals that were clean, and cattle, came to drink of it, and the children of Israel hunted and ate them" (Exod. xvi. 21). It is further related that the Queen of Sheba (whom the Rabbis labour to prove to have been the King of Sheba) wished to test the knowledge of Solomon who had written on botany "from the cedar to the hyssop." She once stood at a distance from him with two exquisite wreaths of flowers—one artificial, one natural. They were so much alike that the king looked perplexed, and the courtiers looked melancholy. Observing a swarm of bees on the window, he commanded it to be opened. All the bees lighted on the natural and not one on the artificial

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wreath. Solomon is also said to have sent Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, to bind Aschmedai, the king of the devils. After deceiving the devil with wine he made him reveal the secret of the Schamir, or little worm, which can cleave the hardest stone. And by the aid of this worm Solomon built the Temple. The devil afterwards asked Solomon for his signet ring, and when he had given it to him the devil stretched one wing up to the firmament and the other to the earth, and jerked Solomon four hundred miles away. Then assuming the aspect of Solomon, he seated himself on his throne. After Solomon had again obtained it, he wrote, "What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?" (Eccles. i. 3).

A story is told of Nebuzaradan, that he saw the blood of Zecharias bubbling in the court of the priests. When he asked what it meant, he was informed that it was the blood of bullocks and lambs. When he had ordered bullocks and lambs to be slain, the blood of Zecharias still bubbled and reeked above theirs. The priests then confessed that it was the blood of a priest and prophet and judge, whom they had slain. He then commanded eighty thousand priests to be put to death. The blood, however, still continued to bubble. God then said, "Is this man, who is but flesh and blood, filled with pity towards my children, and shall not I be much more?" So he gave a sign to the blood, and it was swallowed up in the place. Of the eighty thousand priests slain none was left but Joshua the son of Jozedek, of whom it is written, "Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" (Zech. iii. 2). Of Titus it is said, that he was unclean in the Temple, and with a blow of his sword rent the veil, which flowed with blood. To punish him a gnat was sent into his brain, which grew as large as a dove. When his skull was opened, the gnat was found to have a mouth of copper, and claws of iron.


25:1 The Rabbis make two changes in this verse—they change "kings" into "angels," and "fled" into "led."

Next: Chapter V