Avodah Zarah 2bעבודה זרה ב׳ ב
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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2bב׳ ב

וסופריה שנאמר (ישעיהו מג, ט) ויאספו לאומים ואין לאום אלא מלכות שנאמר (בראשית כה, כג) ולאום מלאום יאמץ ומי איכא ערבוביא קמי הקב"ה אלא כי היכי דלא ליערבבו אינהו [בהדי הדדי] דלישמעו מאי דאמר להו

with their scholars, as it is stated: “And let the peoples [le’umim] be assembled” (Isaiah 43:9); and the term le’om means nothing other than kingdom, as it is stated: “And the one kingdom [ule’om] shall be stronger than the other kingdom [mile’om]” (Genesis 25:23). The Gemara asks: But is it possible for there to be intermingling before the Holy One, Blessed be He, that it should be necessary for each nation to stand and be addressed separately? Rather, the nations are instructed to stand separately so that they will not become intermingled with each other in order that they will each hear what He says to them.

[מיד] נכנסה לפניו מלכות רומי תחלה מ"ט משום דחשיבא ומנלן דחשיבא דכתי' (דניאל ז, כג) ותאכל כל ארעא ותדושינה ותדוקינה אמר רבי יוחנן זו רומי חייבת שטבעה יצא בכל העולם

Immediately, the Roman Empire enters first before Him. The Gemara asks: What is the reason that the Roman Empire enters first? It is because the Roman Empire is the most important of all of the nations. And from where do we derive that it is the most important? As it is written in the book of Daniel with regard to the fourth empire that will rule over the world: “And it shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces” (Daniel 7:23), and Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This empire that will devour the earth is the wicked Roman Empire, whose name spread throughout the world.

ומנא לן דמאן דחשיב עייל ברישא כדרב חסדא דאמר רב חסדא מלך וצבור מלך נכנס תחלה לדין שנאמר (מלכים א ח, נט) לעשות משפט עבדו ומשפט עמו ישראל [וגו'] וטעמא מאי איבעית אימא לאו אורח ארעא למיתב מלכא מאבראי ואיבעית אימא מקמי דליפוש חרון אף

The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that whoever is more important enters first? This is in accordance with a statement of Rav Ḥisda, as Rav Ḥisda says: When a king and a community are brought before God for judgment, the king enters for judgment first, as it is stated: “That He make the judgment of His servant and the judgment of His people Israel, as every day shall require” (I Kings 8:59). And what is the reason that it is important for the king to enter first? If you wish, say that it is not proper conduct for the king to stand outside and wait for the trial of his subjects to end. And if you wish, say instead that the king is brought in first so that he may be judged before God’s anger intensifies due to the sins of the community.

אמר להם הקב"ה במאי עסקתם אומרים לפניו רבש"ע הרבה שווקים תקנינו הרבה מרחצאות עשינו הרבה כסף וזהב הרבינו וכולם לא עשינו אלא בשביל ישראל כדי שיתעסקו בתורה

The Gemara returns to its narration of the future judgment. First, the members of the Roman Empire enter. The Holy One, Blessed be He, says to them: With what did you occupy yourselves? They say before Him in response: Master of the Universe, we have established many marketplaces, we have built many bathhouses, and we have increased much silver and gold. And we did all of this only for the sake of the Jewish people, so that they would be free to engage in Torah study.

אמר להם הקב"ה שוטים שבעולם כל מה שעשיתם לצורך עצמכם עשיתם תקנתם שווקים להושיב בהן זונות מרחצאות לעדן בהן עצמכם כסף וזהב שלי הוא שנאמר (חגי ב, ח) לי הכסף ולי הזהב נאם ה' צבאות

The Holy One, Blessed be He, says to them: Fools of the world! Are you attempting to deceive Me? Everything that you did, you did for your own needs. You established marketplaces to place prostitutes in them; you built bathhouses for your own enjoyment; and as for the silver and gold that you claim to have increased, it is Mine, as it is stated: “Mine is the silver, and Mine the gold, said the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8).

כלום יש בכם מגיד זאת שנאמר מי בכם יגיד זאת ואין זאת אלא תורה שנאמר (דברים ד, מד) וזאת התורה אשר שם משה מיד יצאו בפחי נפש

Is there no one among you who can declare that they have studied this Torah? This is the meaning of the continuation of the verse from Isaiah, as it is stated: “Who among them can declare this?” (Isaiah 43:9). And “this” is referring to nothing other than the Torah, as it is stated: “And this is the Torah that Moses set before the children of Israel” (Deuteronomy 4:44), and whoever did not engage in its study does not receive reward. Immediately, the members of the Roman Empire leave disappointed.

יצאת מלכות רומי ונכנסה מלכות פרס אחריה מ"ט דהא חשיבא בתרה ומנלן דכתיב (דניאל ז, ה) וארו חיוא אחרי תנינא דמיא לדוב ותני רב יוסף אלו פרסיים שאוכלין ושותין כדוב ומסורבלין [בשר] כדוב ומגדלין שער כדוב ואין להם מנוחה כדוב

The Roman Empire leaves, and the Persian Empire enters after it. What is the reason that the Persian Empire enters second? The reason is that after the Roman Empire it is the next most important. And from where do we derive this? As it is written in Daniel’s vision: “And behold another beast, a second, like a bear” (Daniel 7:5). And Rav Yosef teaches: These are the Persians, who are compared to a bear, as they eat and drink copious amounts as does a bear, and they are fleshy like a bear, and they grow their hair long as does a bear, and they never rest, like a bear, which is constantly on the move from one place to another.

אמר להם הקב"ה במאי עסקתם אומרים לפניו רבש"ע הרבה גשרים גשרנו הרבה כרכים כבשנו הרבה מלחמות עשינו וכולם לא עשינו אלא בשביל ישראל כדי שיתעסקו בתורה

The Holy One, Blessed be He, says to them: With what did you occupy yourselves? They say before Him in response: Master of the Universe, we have built many bridges, we have conquered may cities, and we have fought many wars. And we did all of this only for the sake of the Jewish people, so that they would engage in Torah study.

אמר להם הקב"ה כל מה שעשיתם לצורך עצמכם עשיתם תקנתם גשרים ליטול מהם מכס כרכים לעשות בהם אנגריא מלחמות אני עשיתי שנאמר (שמות טו, ג) ה' איש מלחמה כלום יש בכם מגיד זאת שנאמר (ישעיהו מג, ט) מי בכם יגיד זאת ואין זאת אלא תורה שנאמר וזאת התורה אשר שם משה מיד יצאו מלפניו בפחי נפש

The Holy One, Blessed be He, says to them: Everything that you did, you did for your own needs. You established bridges to collect taxes from all who pass over them. You conquered cities to use their residents for forced labor [angareya]; and with regard to fighting the wars, I wage wars, and your success is from Me, as it is stated: “The Lord is a man of war” (Exodus 15:3). Is there no one among you who can declare that they have studied this Torah? As it is stated: “Who among them can declare this” (Isaiah 43:9), and “this” is referring to nothing other than the Torah, as it is stated: “And this is the Torah that Moses set” (Deuteronomy 4:44). Immediately, the members of the Persian Empire leave from before Him disappointed.

וכי מאחר דחזית מלכות פרס למלכות רומי דלא מהניא ולא מידי מאי טעמא עיילא אמרי אינהו סתרי בית המקדש ואנן בנינן וכן לכל אומה ואומה

The Gemara asks: But once the Persian Empire sees that everything said by the Roman Empire is completely ineffective, what is the reason that they come forward? The Gemara answers: They believe that their claims will be more effective, as they say: The Romans destroyed the Second Temple, and we had built it, as the Second Temple was constructed under the auspices and with the encouragement of Cyrus, the king of Persia. The Gemara adds: And likewise, a similar exchange occurred with each and every nation.

וכי מאחר דחזו לקמאי דלא מהני ולא מידי מ"ט עיילי סברי הנך אישתעבדו בהו בישראל ואנן לא שעבדנו בישראל מאי שנא הני דחשיבי ומאי שנא הני דלא חשיבי להו משום דהנך משכי במלכותייהו עד דאתי משיחא

The Gemara asks: But once the other nations see that every-thing said by the first ones, Rome and Persia, is completely ineffective, what is the reason that they come forward? The Gemara answers that they think: Those Empires subjugated the Jewish people, but we did not subjugate the Jewish people. The Gemara further asks: What is different about these, Rome and Persia, which were singled out explicitly, and what is different about those other empires that come afterward, which were not singled out and mentioned by name? It is because with regard to these, Rome and Persia, their kingship extends until the coming of the Messiah.

אומרים לפניו רבש"ע כלום נתת לנו ולא קיבלנוה ומי מצי למימר הכי והכתי' (דברים לג, ב) ויאמר ה' מסיני בא וזרח משעיר למו וכתיב (חבקוק ג, ג) אלוה מתימן יבוא וגו' מאי בעי בשעיר ומאי בעי בפארן

The nations will say before God: Master of the Universe, did You give us the Torah and we did not accept it? Since we never received the Torah, why are we being judged for not fulfilling its mitzvot? The Gemara asks: And can one say that they were never offered the Torah? But isn’t it written in the description of the giving of the Torah: “And he said: The Lord came from Sinai, and rose from Seir unto them” (Deuteronomy 33:2), and it is written: “God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran” (Habakkuk 3:3). And the Sages asked: What did God require in Seir and what did He require in Paran? The Torah was not given in those locations.

א"ר יוחנן מלמד שהחזירה הקב"ה על כל אומה ולשון ולא קבלוה עד שבא אצל ישראל וקבלוה

And Rabbi Yoḥanan says: This teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, took the Torah around to every nation and those who speak every language, such as the Edomites in Seir and the Ishmaelites in Paran, but they did not accept it, until He came to the Jewish people and they accepted it. If the other nations all rejected the Torah, how can they excuse themselves by claiming that it was never offered to them?

אלא הכי אמרי כלום קיבלנוה ולא קיימנוה ועל דא תברתהון אמאי לא קבלתוה אלא כך אומרים לפניו רבש"ע כלום כפית עלינו הר כגיגית ולא קבלנוה כמו שעשית לישראל

Rather, this is what they say: Did we accept the Torah and then not fulfill its mitzvot? The Gemara asks: But this itself serves as the refutation of their own claim, as one can respond: Why didn’t you accept it? Rather, this is what the nations of the world say before Him: Master of the Universe, did You overturn the mountain above us like a basin, and we still did not accept the Torah, as You did for the Jewish people?

דכתיב (שמות יט, יז) ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר ואמר רב דימי בר חמא מלמד שכפה הקב"ה הר כגיגית על ישראל ואמר להם אם אתם מקבלין את התורה מוטב ואם לאו שם תהא קבורתכם

The Gemara provides the background for this claim: As it is written: “And they stood at the nether part of the mount” (Exodus 19:17), and Rav Dimi bar Ḥama says: The verse teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, overturned the mountain, i.e., Mount Sinai, above the Jews like a basin, and He said to them: If you accept the Torah, excellent, and if not, there, under the mountain, will be your burial. The nations of the world will claim that they too could have been coerced to accept the Torah.

מיד אומר להם הקב"ה הראשונות ישמיעונו שנא' (ישעיהו מג, ט) וראשונות ישמיענו שבע מצות שקיבלתם היכן קיימתם

Immediately, the Holy One, Blessed be He, says to them: The first mitzvot will let us hear the truth, as it is stated in the continuation of the same verse under discussion: “And announce to us the first things” (Isaiah 43:9). With regard to the seven Noahide mitzvot that preceded the giving of the Torah that even you accepted, where is the proof that you fulfilled them?

ומנלן דלא קיימום דתני רב יוסף (חבקוק ג, ו) עמד וימודד ארץ ראה ויתר גוים מאי ראה ראה ז' מצות שקבלו עליהן בני נח ולא קיימום כיון שלא קיימום עמד והתירן להן איתגורי איתגור א"כ מצינו חוטא נשכר

The Gemara asks: And from where do we derive that they did not fulfill them? As Rav Yosef teaches in explanation of the verse: “He stands, and shakes the earth, He sees, and makes the nations tremble [vayater]” (Habakkuk 3:6): What did God see? He saw the seven mitzvot that the descendants of Noah accepted upon themselves, and He saw that they did not fulfill them. Since they did not fulfill them, He arose and nullified for them [vehitiran] the command to heed these mitzvot. The Gemara asks: Do they gain from not obeying, as they are now released from the obligation to fulfill these mitzvot? If so, we find that a sinner profits from his transgression.

אמר מר בריה דרבינא

Mar, son of Ravina, said: