Avodah Zarah 24b:2עבודה זרה כ״ד ב:ב
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24bכ״ד ב

יתרו לאחר מתן תורה הוה מאי איכא למימר אלא יתרו מישראל זבן

the incident involving Yitro was after the giving of the Torah, what is there to say? How could they accept offerings from him? Rather, it must be that Yitro purchased the animals from a Jew.

ת"ש (שמואל א טו, טו) ויאמר שאול מעמלקי הביאום אשר חמל העם על מיטב הצאן והבקר (המשנים והכרים ועל כל הצאן) למען זבוח לה' אלהיך מאי מיטב דמי מיטב

The Gemara further states: Come and hear another objection from a verse: “And Saul said: They have brought them from the Amalekites; for the people spared the best of the flock and of the herd, to sacrifice unto the Lord your God” (I Samuel 15:15). The verse states explicitly that the Israelites intended to sacrifice animals previously owned by gentiles. The Gemara explains: What is the meaning of the phrase: “The best”? This is referring to the monetary value of the best livestock. The intention was not to sacrifice the animals themselves, but to sell them and use the proceeds of the sale to purchase other animals to sacrifice as offerings.

ומ"ש מיטב כי היכי דליקפץ עליהן זבינא

The Gemara inquires: And what is different about the best animals? If the animals were sold for their value, why sell those animals in particular, rather than several inferior-quality animals? The Gemara explains that they did so in order that buyers would jump at the opportunity to buy superior-quality livestock. In other words, it is easier to sell one superior-quality animal than several inferior-quality ones.

ת"ש (שמואל ב כד, כב) ויאמר ארונה אל דוד יקח ויעל אדוני המלך (את) הטוב בעיניו (ואת) [ראה] הבקר לעולה והמוריגים וכלי הבקר לעצים אמר רב נחמן ארונה גר תושב היה

Come and hear another objection from a verse: “And Araunah said unto David: Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good unto him; behold the cattle for the burnt-offering, and the threshing instruments [morigim] and the accoutrements of the cattle for the wood” (II Samuel 24:22). Apparently, David was willing to accept oxen as offerings from a gentile. Rav Naḥman says: Araunah was a gentile who resided in Eretz Yisrael and observed the seven Noahide mitzvot [ger toshav]. The seven Noahide mitzvot include the prohibition against engaging in bestiality, and therefore Araunah was not suspected of this practice.

מאי מוריגים אמר עולא מטה של טורביל מאי מטה של טורביל עיזא דקורקסא דדיישן אמר רב יוסף מאי קרא (ישעיהו מא, טו) הנה שמתיך למורג חרוץ חדש בעל פיפיות תדוש הרים ותדוק וגבעות כמוץ תשים

Tangentially, the Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term morigim,” mentioned in this verse? Ulla said: It is a turbil bed. The Gemara asks: What is a turbil bed? It is a serrated board [kurkesa] used for threshing. Rav Yosef said: What is the verse from which the meaning of morigim is derived? It is derived from the verse: “Behold, I have made you a new threshing board [morag] having sharp teeth; you shall thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shall make the hills as chaff” (Isaiah 41:15).

מיתיבי (שמואל א ו, יד) ואת הפרות העלו עולה לה' הוראת שעה היתה

The Gemara raises an objection to the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer. After the Philistines returned the Ark of the Covenant to the Israelites upon a cart drawn by cattle, the verse states: “And they sacrificed the cattle as a burnt-offering unto the Lord” (I Samuel 6:14). Evidently, the Jews did not hesitate to sacrifice the Philistines’ animals. The Gemara explains: There, it was a provisional edict issued in extraordinary circumstances, and their actions are not representative of the general halakha.

ה"נ מסתברא דאי לא תימא הכי עולה נקבה מי איכא

The Gemara adds: This also stands to reason, as, if you do not say so, one can raise a further difficulty with this episode: Is there a female burnt-offering? Only males may be sacrificed as burnt-offerings. Since the Jews sacrificed the cows as burnt-offerings, it is clear that they were acting unconventionally due to extenuating circumstances.

ומאי קושיא דלמא בבמת יחיד וכדרב אדא בר אהבה דאמר רב אדא בר אהבה מנין לעולה נקבה שהיא כשרה בבמת יחיד שנאמר (שמואל א ז, ט) ויקח שמואל טלה חלב אחד ויעלהו עולה

The Gemara rejects this proof: And what is the difficulty? In other words, the additional problem with the incident, that the animals were female, which is cited as proof that there were extenuating circumstances, is not in fact difficult at all. The Gemara elaborates: Perhaps the cows were offered upon a private altar, and this is in accordance with the opinion of Rav Adda bar Ahava, as Rav Adda bar Ahava says: From where is it derived that a female burnt-offering is fit to be sacrificed upon a private altar? As it is stated: “And Samuel took a milking lamb, and sacrificed it [vaya’alehu] for a burnt-offering unto the Lord” (I Samuel 7:9). The phrase “milking lamb” indicates that it was a female, and yet Samuel sacrificed it upon a private altar.

ויעלהו זכר משמע אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק ויעלה כתיב

The Gemara raises a difficulty: But the word vaya’alehu is masculine, which means that the lamb was a male. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak says: Although the word is read in the masculine, it is written in the feminine form, vaya’alah, which teaches that even a female lamb may be sacrificed on a private altar.

ר' יוחנן אמר גבול יש לה פחותה מבת ג' שנים נעקרת בת ג' שנים אינה נעקרת

§ After concluding its discussion of the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, the Gemara cites another resolution of the contradiction between the mishna and the baraita. Rabbi Yoḥanan says: There is a clear demarcation in the case of an animal with whom a man engaged in bestiality. If she is less than three years old, she becomes barren as a result of penetration, but if she is already three years old, she does not become barren. Although gentiles are generally suspected of engaging in bestiality, the baraita rules that an animal that is less than three years old may be used as an offering because a gentile will refrain from engaging in bestiality with an animal that may become barren as a result of his actions.

איתיביה כל הני תיובתא שני להו פחותה מבת ג' שנים ת"ש ואת הפרות העלו עולה לה' בפחותה מבת שלש שנים

They raised all of those refutations from the aforementioned verses which indicate that animals purchased from gentiles may be brought as offerings, and he answered them by claiming that the animals being offered were less than three years old. The Gemara reexamines one of the objections. Come and hear, as the verse states: “And they sacrificed the cattle as a burnt-offering unto the Lord” (I Samuel 6:14). Rabbi Yoḥanan explained that although in that incident the cattle had been owned by Philistines, they were less than three years old, and it was therefore presumed that the Philistines had not engaged in bestiality with them.

מתקיף לה רב הונא בריה דרב נתן א"כ היינו ואת בניהם כלו בבית פחותה מבת ג' שנים

The Gemara cites a refutation of Rabbi Yoḥanan’s answer: Rav Huna, son of Rabbi Natan, objects to this: If so, then this is also true with regard to the verse: “And they took two nursing cows and tied them to the cart and shut up their calves at home” (I Samuel 6:10). According to Rabbi Yoḥanan, the verse is necessarily referring to cows that are less than three years old.

(ופחותה מבת נ' שנים) מי קא ילדה והתניא פרה וחמור מבת ג' ודאי לכהן מכאן ואילך ספק אלא מחוורתא כדשנין מעיקרא:

And can a cow that is less than three years old give birth? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: With regard to a cow or a donkey purchased from a gentile when they were less than three years old, the first of their offspring born after the purchase is certainly reserved for the priest, who is entitled to the firstborn of a cow or donkey owned by a Jew. From this point forward, i.e., if they were older than three years at the time of the sale, it is uncertain whether or not the offspring is the firstborn. This indicates that an animal does not bear offspring within the first three years of its life. Since the cows in the verse had already given birth, they could not have been less than three years old, as Rabbi Yoḥanan claimed. The Gemara concludes: Rather, it is clear as we initially answered, i.e., Rabbi Yoḥanan’s suggestion is rejected, and the actions in that verse were due to a provisional edict.

(שמואל א ו, יב) וישרנה הפרות בדרך על דרך בית שמש וגו' מאי וישרנה א"ר יוחנן משום ר"מ שאמרו שירה ורב זוטרא בר טוביה אמר רב שישרו פניהם כנגד ארון ואמרו שירה

§ The Gemara further analyzes the episode involving the cows sent by the Philistines. The verse states: “And the cattle took the straight [vayyisharna] way, on the way to Beit Shemesh; they went along the highway, lowing as they went” (I Samuel 6:12). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the word vayyisharna? Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Meir: It means that they recited a song [shira]. And Rav Zutra bar Toviyya says that Rav says: It means that they straightened [yishru] their faces so that they were opposite the Ark and recited a song.

ומאי שירה אמרו א"ר יוחנן משום ר"מ (שמות טו, א) אז ישיר משה ובני ישראל ור' יוחנן דידיה אמר (ישעיהו יב, ד) ואמרתם ביום ההוא הודו לה' קראו בשמו וגו'

The Gemara asks: And what song did they recite? Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Meir: They recited the song that follows the verse: “Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord” (Exodus 15:1). And Rabbi Yoḥanan himself says that it was: “And on that day shall you say: Give thanks unto the Lord, proclaim His name, declare His doings among the peoples, make mention that His name is exalted” (Isaiah 12:4).

ור"ש בן לקיש אמר מזמורא יתמא (תהלים צח, א) מזמור שירו לה' שיר חדש כי נפלאות עשה הושיעה לו ימינו וזרוע קדשו ר' אלעזר אמר (תהלים צט, א) ה' מלך ירגזו עמים

And Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish says that it was an orphaned psalm, i.e., a psalm whose author and the event to which it makes reference are not specified. The psalm begins with: “A Psalm. O sing unto the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things; His right hand, and His holy arm, have wrought salvation for Him” (Psalms 98:1). Rabbi Elazar says that it was the psalm beginning with: “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble” (Psalms 99:1).

ר' שמואל בר נחמני אמר (תהלים צג, א) ה' מלך גאות לבש ר' יצחק נפחא אמר רוני רוני השיטה התנופפי ברוב הדרך המחושקת בריקמי זהב המהוללה בדביר ארמון ומפוארה בעדי עדיים

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that it was the Psalm beginning: “The Lord reigns; He is clothed in majesty” (Psalms 93:1). Rabbi Yitzḥak Nappaḥa says: They did not recite a verse found in the Bible, but rather, the following song: Sing, sing, acacia; ascend in all your glory; overlaid with golden embroidery, exalted by the book [devir] of the palace, and magnificent with jewels. The song alludes to the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of acacia wood and covered with gold. The expression: Book of the palace, is a reference to the Torah scroll that was placed in the Ark.

רב אשי מתני לה להא דר' יצחק אהא (במדבר י, לה) ויהי בנסוע הארון ויאמר משה קומה ה' ישראל מאי אמרו אמר ר' יצחק רוני רוני השיטה וכו'

Rav Ashi teaches this statement of Rabbi Yitzḥak in relation to this verse: “And it came to pass, when the Ark set forward, that Moses said: Rise up, O Lord, and let Your enemies be scattered” (Numbers 10:35). The Gemara asks: What did the Jewish people recite at this juncture? Rabbi Yitzḥak says that they recited: Sing, sing, acacia, ascend in all your glory; overlaid with golden embroidery, exalted by the book of the palace, and magnificent with jewels.

אמר רב כמאן קרו פרסאי לספרא דביר מהכא (שופטים א, יא) ושם דביר לפנים קרית ספר

§ Apropos the mention of the term devir, the Gemara discusses its etymology. Rav said: On what basis do the Persians call a book [sifra] by the term devir? They derive it from here: “Now the name of Debir [devir] beforehand was Kiriath Sefer” (Judges 1:11). Since the name devir was changed to Kiriath Sefer, the Persians referred to a sifra, i.e., a book, as devir.

רב אשי אמר כמאן קרו פרסאי לנידה דשתנא מהכא (בראשית לא, לה) כי דרך נשים לי

The Gemara examines the etymology of another term coined by the Persians. Rav Ashi said: On what basis do the Persians call a menstruating woman by the term dashtana? It is from here, a verse in which Rachel claims to be a menstruating woman: “For the manner of women is upon me [derekh nashim li]” (Genesis 31:35). The word dashtana is a shortened form of the phrase derekh nashim.