אשר עשיתם את העגל לקחתי ואשרוף אותו באש ואכות אותו טחון היטב עד אשר דק לעפר ואשליך את עפרו אל הנחל היורד מן ההר the calf that you had made, I took and burned it with fire, and beat it in pieces, grinding it very small, until it was as fine as dust; and I cast its dust into the brook that descended out of the mount” (Deuteronomy 9:21)? Moses, who ground up the idolatrous golden calf and dispersed its dust, was apparently unconcerned with the fact that it may fertilize the soil.
אמר לו משם ראיה הרי הוא אומר (שמות לב, כ) ויזר על פני המים וישק את בני ישראל לא נתכוין אלא לבודקן כסוטות The Rabbis said to him: You seek to bring proof from there? Doesn’t it state in the verse: “And he took the calf that they had made, and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and strewed it upon the water, and made the children of Israel drink of it” (Exodus 32:20)? Moses ground up the calf intending only to inspect them like sota women, i.e., like a woman suspected by her husband of having been unfaithful. Such a woman is compelled to drink water containing the ground-up ink from a scroll of Torah passages relating to a sota woman, which causes her to die if she was unfaithful, and exonerates her and bestows blessings upon her if she was faithful. Similarly, Moses ground up the calf in order to compel the people to drink, to cause the guilty parties to die.
אמר להם רבי יוסי והלא כבר נאמר (דברי הימים ב טו, טז) וגם את מעכה אמו הסירה מגבירה אשר עשתה מפלצתה וגו' וידק וישרף בנחל קדרון אמר לו משם ראיה נחל קדרון אינו מגדל צמחין Rabbi Yosei said to them: But isn’t it already stated concerning Asa: “And he also removed Maacah his mother from being queen, because she had made an abominable image [miflatztah] for an ashera; and Asa cut down her image, and burned it at the Kidron River” (see I Kings 15:13)? It seems that Asa was unconcerned that the ground-up idol may provide fertilization. They said to him: You seek to bring proof from there? The Kidron River does not grow vegetation, so even if the idol would have fertilized the soil, it would have been of no benefit.
ולא והתניא אלו ואלו מתערבין באמה ויוצאין לנחל קדרון ונמכרין לגננין לזבל ומועלין בהן מקומות מקומות יש בו יש מקום מגדל צמחין ויש מקום שאין מגדל צמחין The Gemara asks: And does the Kidron River not grow vegetation? But isn’t it taught in a mishna (Yoma 58b): This remainder of blood from the external altar and that remainder of blood from the inner altar are mixed in the Temple courtyard drain beneath the altar, and they flow out with the water used to rinse the area, to the Kidron River, and this water is sold to gardeners for use as fertilizer? The mishna continues: The gardeners pay for this water and thereby desacralize it, and failure to do so would render them liable for misuse of consecrated property. This is explicit proof that the Kidron River does yield produce. The Gemara answers: There are different places in the Kidron River area. There is a place that grows vegetation, and there is a place that does not grow vegetation.
מאי מפלצתה אמר רב יהודה דהוה מפליא ליצנותא כדתני רב יוסף כמין זכרות עשתה לה והיתה נבעלת לו בכל יום The Gemara tangentially inquires about the meaning of a word in the verse quoted above. What is the meaning of “miflatztah”? Rav Yehuda says: It means an object that intensifies [mafli] licentiousness [leitzanuta]; as Rabbi Yosef teaches: Maacah fashioned upon the idol the likeness of a male organ, and she would engage in sexual activity with it daily.
אמר להן רבי יוסי והלא כבר נאמר (מלכים ב יח, ד) וכתת נחש נחשת אשר עשה משה The baraita continues: Rabbi Yosei attempts to cite another proof that grinding an object of idol worship is sufficient, from Hezekiah’s destruction of Moses’ serpent, which was worshipped by the Jewish people in Hezekiah’s time. Rabbi Yosei said to them: But isn’t it already stated: “And he broke into pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made; as until those days the children of Israel sacrificed to it” (II Kings 18:4)? This indicates that breaking an object of idol worship into pieces suffices.
אמרו לו משם ראיה הרי הוא אומר (במדבר כא, ח) ויאמר ה' אל משה עשה לך שרף לך משלך ואין אדם אוסר דבר שאינו שלו והתם בדין הוא דכתותי לא הוה צריך The Rabbis said to him: You seek to bring proof from there? Doesn’t it state in the verse: “And the Lord said to Moses: Make you a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole; and it shall come to pass, that everyone that is bitten, when he sees it, shall live” (Numbers 21:8)? The term “make you” is interpreted to mean that the Lord commanded Moses: Make the serpent from your property. Consequently, the serpent belonged to Moses, and the principle in such a case is that a person does not render forbidden an item that is not his. Therefore, despite worshipping the serpent, the Jewish people could not render it a forbidden object of idol worship, and by right, it was not necessary to demolish it there.
אלא כיון דחזא דקא טעו ישראל בתריה עמד וכיתתו Rather, despite the fact that the serpent did not have the halakhic status of an object of idol worship, since Hezekiah saw that the Jewish people were straying after it, he arose and demolished it. Nevertheless, since this demolishing was not done in order to fulfill the obligation to eradicate objects of idol worship, but merely to prevent its worship, breaking it into pieces was sufficient.
אמר להם והלא כבר נאמר (שמואל ב ה, כא) ויעזבו שם את עצביהם וישאם דוד ואנשיו ומאי משמע דהאי וישאם דוד לישנא דזרויי הוא כדמתרגם רב יוסף (ישעיהו מא, טז) תזרם ורוח תשאם ומתרגמינן תזרינון ורוח תטלטלינון Rabbi Yosei said to the Rabbis, citing another proof for his opinion: But isn’t it already stated: “And they left their images there, and David and his men took them away [vayyissa’em]” (II Samuel 5:21)? And from where may it be inferred that the meaning of this formulation: “Vayyissa’em David,” is winnowing, i.e., scattering in the wind? It is as Rav Yosef translates the verse: “Tizrem veruaḥ tissa’em” (Isaiah 41:16), and we translate it as follows: “You shall fan them, and the wind shall carry them away.” Apparently, this way of disposing of idolatrous objects is sufficient.
אמרו לו משם ראיה הרי הוא אומר וישרפו באש ומדלא כתיב וישרפם וישאם ש"מ וישאם ממש The Rabbis said to him: You seek to bring proof from there? Doesn’t it state with regard to the same incident: “And they left their gods there; and David gave an order, and they were burned with fire” (I Chronicles 14:12)? And from the fact that it is not written here: And they burned them vayyissa’em, learn from it that the word vayyissa’em is not referring to scattering in the wind, but rather it should be understood literally, i.e., David and his men took the idols away; and it does not mean that they demolished and scattered them.
מכל מקום קשו קראי אהדדי The Gemara asks: In any case, the verses contradict each other. The two accounts with regard to David’s disposal of the idols seem inconsistent. One states that his men took them away or scattered them, while the other recounts that they burned them.
כדרב הונא דרב הונא רמי כתיב (דברי הימים א יד, יב) ויאמר דוד וישרפו באש וכתיב וישאם The Gemara answers in accordance with the resolution of Rav Huna, as Rav Huna raises a contradiction between the verses, as follows: It is written: “And they left their gods there; and David gave an order, and they were burned with fire” (I Chronicles 14:12), and it is also written: “And David and his men took them away” (II Samuel 5:21).
לא קשיא כאן קודם שבא איתי הגיתי כאן לאחר שבא איתי הגיתי Rav Huna answers: It is not difficult. In the interim, Ittai the Gittite, who was a gentile, arrived, and David commanded him to revoke the idolatrous status of the idols, as only gentiles are capable of doing this. Here, the verse that states that they burned the idols describes their actions before Ittai the Gittite came, whereas there, the verse that indicates that they simply carried them away is referring to after Ittai the Gittite came and revoked their status as objects of idol worship, obviating the need to burn them.
דכתיב (שמואל ב יב, ל) ויקח את עטרת מלכם מעל ראשו ומשקלה ככר זהב ומי שרי איסורי הנאה נינהו אמר רב נחמן איתי הגיתי בא וביטלה Another difficulty is resolved by Ittai’s arrival; as it is written with regard to the Ammonite idol: “And he took the crown of Malcam from off his head, and its weight was a talent of gold, and in it were precious stones; and it was set on David’s head” (II Samuel 12:30). But is it permitted for David to wear the crown? Isn’t it an object of idol worship and therefore under the category of items from which deriving benefit is prohibited? Rav Naḥman says: Ittai the Gittite arrived and revoked its status as an object of idol worship.
משקלה ככר זהב היכי מצי מנח לה אמר רב יהודה אמר רב ראויה לנוח על ראש דוד רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר אבן שואבת היתה בה דהות דרא לה רבי אלעזר אמר אבן יקרה היתה בה ששוה ככר זהב: § The Gemara discusses David’s crown. The verse states: “And its weight was a talent of gold.” As a talent is a very heavy weight, the Gemara asks: How could David place it on his head? Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: What is meant is not that it was actually placed on his head, but rather that it was fit to rest on David’s head, i.e., it fit the size of his head. Giving a different answer, Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: There was a lodestone in it that would hold it up, i.e., from which it was suspended. David sat and placed his head in it, giving the appearance that he was wearing it. Rabbi Elazar says: What is meant is not that it weighed a full talent of gold, but rather that there was a precious stone on it that was worth a talent of gold.
(תהלים קיט, נו) זאת היתה לי כי פקודיך נצרתי מאי קאמר הכי קאמר בשכר שפקודיך נצרתי זאת היתה לי לעדות מאי עדותה א"ר יהושע בן לוי שהיה מניחה במקום תפילין והולמתו והא בעי אנוחי תפילין א"ר שמואל בר רב יצחק מקום יש בראש שראוי להניח בו שתי תפילין The Gemara asks with regard to the verse: “This I have had, as I have kept Your precepts” (Psalms 119:56): What is it saying? The Gemara answers that this is what the verse is saying: As reward for the fact that I kept your precepts, this crown was a testimony for me that I am fit to be king. What exactly was its testimony? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: It was that David would place the crown on his head on the spot where one dons phylacteries, and it fit him perfectly. The Gemara asks: But how could he have worn the crown? Wasn’t he required to don phylacteries? Rabbi Shmuel bar Rav Yitzḥak says: There is enough space on the part of the head that is fit for donning phylacteries for one to don two phylacteries.
(דברי הימים ב כג, יא) ויוציאו את בן המלך ויתנו עליו את הנזר ואת העדות נזר זו כלילא עדות א"ר יהודה אמר רב עדות הוא לבית דוד שכל הראוי למלכות הולמתו וכל שאינו ראוי למלכות אין הולמתו Similarly, it is stated with regard to Joash: “Then they brought out the king’s son, and put upon him the crown [hanezer] and the testimony, and made him king” (II Chronicles 23:11). “Nezer” is a crown. What was the “testimony”? Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: It is a testimony for the progeny of house of David that anyone who is fit for kingship, the crown fits him properly; and anyone who is unfit for kingship, the crown does not fit him properly.
(מלכים א א, ה) ואדניה בן חגית מתנשא לאמר אני אמלוך אמר רב יהודה אמר רב שמתנשא להולמו ולא הולמתו Similarly, the verse states: “Now Adonijah, son of Haggith, exalted himself, saying: I will be king” (I Kings 1:5). Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: The term “exalted himself” teaches that he sought to have the crown fit him, but it did not fit him.
(מלכים א א, ה) ויעש לו רכב ופרשים וחמשים איש רצים לפניו מאי רבותייהו תנא כולם נטולי טחול וחקוקי כפות הרגלים היו: The verse continues: “And he prepared for himself chariots and riders and fifty people to run before him” (I Kings 1:5). The Gemara asks: What is the novelty of these actions, since other wealthy people do the same, even if they are not the sons of kings with designs on the throne? It is taught in a baraita that what was unique was that the runners all had their spleens removed and had the soles of their feet hollowed, i.e., flesh from their feet was removed, and these two procedures enhanced their speed.