בְּנָיָהוּ בֶּן יְהוֹיָדָע זֶה סַנְהֶדְרִין וְאֶבְיָתָר אֵלּוּ אוּרִים וְתוּמִּים
Benayahu ben Yehoyada corresponds to the Sanhedrin, since he was the head of the Sanhedrin, and Evyatar corresponds to the Urim VeTummim, as Evyatar ben Ahimelekh the priest would oversee inquiries directed to the Urim VeTummim (see I Samuel 23:9).
וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר וּבְנָיָהוּ בֶּן יְהוֹיָדָע עַל הַכְּרֵתִי וְעַל הַפְּלֵתִי וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמָם כְּרֵתִי וּפְלֵתִי כְּרֵתִי שֶׁכּוֹרְתִים דִּבְרֵיהֶם פְּלֵתִי שֶׁמּוּפְלָאִים בְּדִבְרֵיהֶם וְאַחַר כָּךְ שַׂר צָבָא לַמֶּלֶךְ יוֹאָב
And so it says regarding Benayahu ben Yehoyada’s position as head of the Sanhedrin: “And Benayahu ben Yehoyada was over the Kereti and over the Peleti” (II Samuel 20:23). And why was the Sanhedrin called Kereti UPeleti? It was called Kereti because they were decisive [koretim] in their pronouncements. It was called Peleti because their pronouncements and wisdom were wondrous [mufla’im]. The head of the Kereti UPeleti was the head of the Sanhedrin. According to the order of the verse, upon being instructed by King David to go to war, the Sages first consulted with Ahitophel, then with the Sanhedrin, then they would ask the Urim VeTummim, and only thereafter was the general of the king’s army, Yoav, given the command to ready the military for battle.
אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר אַדָּא וְאָמְרִי לַהּ אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב אִידִי מַאי קְרָא עוּרָה כְבוֹדִי עוּרָה הַנֵּבֶל וְכִנּוֹר אָעִירָה שָּׁחַר
Rav Yitzḥak bar Adda, and some say Rav Yitzḥak, son of Rav Idi, said: From what verse is it derived that David’s lyre would wake him at midnight? “Awake, my glory; awake, harp and lyre; I will wake the dawn” (Psalms 57:9). This means that the playing lyre has already woken, and now I must engage in Torah study until dawn.
רַבִּי זֵירָא אָמַר מֹשֶׁה לְעוֹלָם הֲוָה יָדַע וְדָוִד נָמֵי הֲוָה יָדַע
Rabbi Zeira offered a different solution to the question of whether Moses and David knew exactly when it was midnight and said: Moses certainly knew when it was midnight, and David also knew.
וְכֵיוָן דְּדָוִד הֲוָה יָדַע כִּנּוֹר לְמָה לֵיהּ לְאִתְּעוֹרֵי מִשִּׁנְתֵּיהּ
The Gemara asks: If David knew, then why did he need the lyre? The Gemara answers: He needed the lyre to wake him from his sleep.
וְכֵיוָן דְּמֹשֶׁה הֲוָה יָדַע לְמָה לֵיהּ לְמֵימַר כַּחֲצוֹת מֹשֶׁה קָסָבַר שֶׁמָּא יִטְעוּ אִצְטַגְנִינֵי פַּרְעֹה וְיֹאמְרוּ מֹשֶׁה בַּדַּאי הוּא דְּאָמַר מָר לַמֵּד לְשׁוֹנְךָ לוֹמַר אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁמָּא תִּתְבַּדֶּה וְתֵאָחֵז
Similarly with regard to Moses, since Moses knew the precise moment of midnight, why did he say: About midnight, instead of: At midnight? Moses did so because he maintained: Lest Pharaoh’s astrologers err and believe midnight to be earlier. Since no disaster would have occurred, they would say: Moses is a liar. Moses spoke in accordance with the principle articulated by the Master: Accustom your tongue to say: I do not know, lest you become entangled in a web of deceit.
רַב אָשֵׁי אָמַר בְּפַלְגָא אוּרְתָּא דִּתְלֵיסַר נָגְהֵי אַרְבֵּסַר הֲוָה קָאֵי וְהָכִי קָאָמַר מֹשֶׁה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמָחָר כַּחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה כִּי הָאִידָּנָא אֲנִי יוֹצֵא בְּתוֹךְ מִצְרָיִם:
Rav Ashi said: This question is unfounded, as Moses was standing at midnight of the thirteenth, leading into the fourteenth, when he pronounced his prophecy, and Moses told Israel that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said that tomorrow, at the exact time like midnight tonight, I will go out into the midst of Egypt. This indicates that the passage should not be understood to mean about midnight, an approximation; but rather, like midnight, as a comparison, likening midnight tomorrow to midnight tonight.
לְדָוִד שָׁמְרָה נַפְשִׁי כִּי חָסִיד אָנִי לֵוִי וְרַבִּי יִצְחָק חַד אָמַר כָּךְ אָמַר דָּוִד לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם לֹא חָסִיד אֲנִי שֶׁכָּל מַלְכֵי מִזְרָח וּמַעֲרָב יְשֵׁנִים עַד שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת וַאֲנִי חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה אָקוּם לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ
The Gemara further explores King David’s character. It is said: “A prayer of David…Keep my soul, for I am pious” (Psalms 86:1–2). Levi and Rabbi Yitzḥak debated the meaning of this verse and how David’s piety is manifest in the fact that he went beyond his fundamental obligations. One said: David’s declaration of piety referred to his awakening during the night to pray, and so said David before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, am I not pious? As all of the kings of the East and the West sleep until the third hour of the day, but although I am a king like them, “At midnight I rise to give thanks” (Psalms 119:62).
וְאִידָּךְ כָּךְ אָמַר דָּוִד לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם לֹא חָסִיד אֲנִי שֶׁכָּל מַלְכֵי מִזְרָח וּמַעֲרָב יוֹשְׁבִים אֲגוּדּוֹת אֲגוּדּוֹת בִּכְבוֹדָם וַאֲנִי יָדַי מְלוּכְלָכוֹת בְּדָם וּבְשָׁפִיר וּבְשִׁלְיָא כְּדֵי לְטַהֵר אִשָּׁה לְבַעֲלָהּ וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא כָּל מָה שֶׁאֲנִי עוֹשֶׂה אֲנִי נִמְלָךְ בִּמְפִיבֹשֶׁת רַבִּי וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ מְפִיבֹשֶׁת רַבִּי יָפֶה דַּנְתִּי יָפֶה חִייַּבְתִּי יָפֶה זִכִּיתִי יָפֶה טִהַרְתִּי יָפֶה טִמֵּאתִי וְלֹא בּוֹשְׁתִּי
And the other Sage said: David said the following before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, am I not pious? For all of the kings of the East and the West sit in groups befitting their honored status, but I sit as a judge who issues rulings for the people. Women come with questions of ritual impurity and my hands become soiled with their blood as I labor to determine whether or not it is blood of impurity and she has menstruating woman status, and with a fetus that miscarried at a stage of development before it was clear whether or not it is considered a birth, and with placenta, which women sometimes discharge unrelated to the birth of a child (see Leviticus 15:19–30 with regard to blood, and 12:1–8 with regard to miscarriage and placenta). King David went to all this trouble in order to render a woman ritually pure and consequently permitted to her husband. If, after examination, a Sage declares the woman ritually pure, she is permitted to be with her husband, which leads to increased love and affection, and ultimately to procreation (Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto). And not only do I engage in activity considered to be beneath the station of a king, but I consult my teacher, Mefivoshet, son of King Saul’s son, Jonathan, with regard to everything that I do. I say to him: Mefivoshet, my teacher, did I decide properly? Did I convict properly? Did I acquit properly? Did I rule ritually pure properly? Did I rule ritually impure properly? And I was not embarrassed. Forgoing royal dignity should make me worthy to be called pious.
אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בְּרֵיהּ דְּרַב אִידִי מַאי קְרָא וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְעֵדֹתֶיךָ נֶגֶד מְלָכִים וְלֹא אֵבוֹשׁ
Rav Yehoshua, son of Rav Idi, said: What verse alludes to this? “And I speak Your testimonies before kings and I will not be ashamed” (Psalms 119:46). This verse alludes both to David’s commitment to Torah, in contrast to the kings of the East and the West, as well as to the fact that he was not ashamed to discuss matters of Torah with Mefivoshet, a descendant of kings. David was not afraid to have his mistakes corrected by Mefivoshet.
תָּנָא לֹא מְפִיבֹשֶׁת שְׁמוֹ אֶלָּא אִישׁ בּשֶׁת שְׁמוֹ וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ מְפִיבֹשֶׁת שֶׁהָיָה מְבַיֵּישׁ פְּנֵי דָּוִד בַּהֲלָכָה לְפִיכָךְ זָכָה דָּוִד וְיָצָא מִמֶּנּוּ כִּלְאָב
It was taught in a Tosefta from a tannaitic tradition: His name was not Mefivoshet, but rather Ish Boshet was his name. Why was Ish Boshet referred to as Mefivoshet? Because he would embarrass [mevayesh] David in matters of halakha. According to this approach, Mefivoshet is an abbreviation of boshet panim, embarrassment. Because David was not embarrassed to admit his errors, he merited that Kilav, who, according to tradition, was exceedingly wise, would descend from him.
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לֹא כִּלְאָב שְׁמוֹ אֶלָּא דָּנִיאֵל שְׁמוֹ וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ כִּלְאָב שֶׁהָיָה מַכְלִים פְּנֵי מְפִיבֹשֶׁת בַּהֲלָכָה
Rabbi Yoḥanan said: His name was not Kilav; rather, his name was Daniel, as it appears in a different list of David’s descendants. Why was he called Kilav? Because he would embarrass [makhlim] Mefivoshet, the teacher or authority figure [av] in matters of halakha.
וְעָלָיו אָמַר שְׁלֹמֹה בְּחָכְמָתוֹ בְּנִי אִם חָכַם לִבֶּךָ יִשְׂמַח לִבִּי גַם אָנִי וְאוֹמֵר חֲכַם בְּנִי וְשַׂמַּח לִבִּי וְאָשִׁיבָה חֹרְפִי דָבָר
In his book of wisdom, Solomon said about this wise son: “My son, if your heart is wise, my heart will be glad, even mine” (Proverbs 23:15), as David enjoyed witnessing his son Kilav develop into a Torah luminary to the extent that Kilav was able to respond to Mefivoshet. And Solomon says about Kilav: “Be wise, my son, and make my heart glad, that I may respond to those who taunt me” (Proverbs 27:11).
וְדָוִד מִי קָרֵי לְנַפְשֵׁיהּ חָסִיד וְהָכְתִיב לוּלֵא הֶאֱמַנְתִּי לִרְאוֹת בְּטוּב ה' בְּאֶרֶץ חַיִּים וְתָנָא מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי יוֹסֵי לָמָּה נָקוּד עַל לוּלֵא אָמַר דָּוִד לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם מוּבְטָח אֲנִי בְּךָ שֶׁאַתָּה מְשַׁלֵּם שָׂכָר טוֹב לְצַדִּיקִים לֶעָתִיד לָבוֹא אֲבָל אֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ אִם יֵשׁ לִי חֵלֶק בֵּינֵיהֶם אִם לָאו
With regard to David’s statement, “Keep my soul, for I am pious,” the Gemara asks: Did David call himself pious? Isn’t it written: “If I had not [luleh] believed to look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalms 27:13). The dots that appear over the word luleh in the text indicate doubt and uncertainty of his piety, and whether he was deserving of a place in the land of the living (see Avot DeRabbi Natan 34). In the name of Rabbi Yosei, it was taught in a Tosefta: Why do dots appear over the word luleh, as if there are some reservations? Because David said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe. I have every confidence in You that You grant an excellent reward to the righteous in the World-to-Come since God’s ultimate goodness is manifest in the land of eternal life, but I still harbor uncertainty with regard to myself, and I do not know whether or not I definitely have a portion among them. In any case, apparently David was uncertain whether or not he deserved to receive a portion of God’s reward for the righteous; how, then, could he characterize himself as pious?
שֶׁמָּא יִגְרוֹם הַחֵטְא
The Gemara responds: His concern does not prove anything, as King David knew that he was pious. He was simply concerned lest a transgression that he might commit in the future will cause him to lose his opportunity to look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
כִּדְרַבִּי יַעֲקֹב בַּר אִידִי דְּרַבִּי יַעֲקֹב בַּר אִידִי רָמֵי כְּתִיב וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי עִמָּךְ וּשְׁמַרְתִּיךָ בְּכָל אֲשֶׁר תֵּלֵךְ וּכְתִיב וַיִּירָא יַעֲקֹב מְאֹד אָמַר שֶׁמָּא יִגְרוֹם הַחֵטְא
The Gemara cites a proof that there is room for one to fear lest he commit a transgression in the future in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi, as Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi raised a contradiction between two verses. It is written that God told Jacob in his vision of the ladder: “Behold, I am with you and I guard you wherever you go” (Genesis 28:15), yet when Jacob returned to Canaan and realized that Esau was coming to greet him, it is written: “And Jacob became very afraid, and he was pained” (Genesis 32:8). Why did Jacob not rely on God’s promise? Jacob had concerns and said to himself: Lest a transgression that I might have committed after God made His promise to me will cause God to revoke His promise of protection.
כִּדְתַנְיָא עַד יַעֲבֹר עַמְּךָ ה עַד יַעֲבֹר עַם זוּ קָנִיתָ
Apparently, at times, transgression does cause God’s promise to go unfulfilled, as it was taught explicitly in a baraita with regard to the ostensibly redundant language in a verse in the Song of the Sea: “Until Your people will cross, Lord, until the people You have acquired will cross. You bring them in and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance, the place, Lord, which You made for Your dwelling” (Exodus 15:16–17).
עַד יַעֲבֹר עַמְּךָ ה' זוֹ בִּיאָה רִאשׁוֹנָה עַד יַעֲבֹר עַם זוּ קָנִיתָ זוֹ בִּיאָה שְׁנִיָּה מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים רְאוּיִם הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵיעָשׂוֹת לָהֶם נֵס בִּימֵי עֶזְרָא כְּדֶרֶךְ שֶׁנַּעֲשָׂה לָהֶם בִּימֵי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן נוּן אֶלָּא שֶׁגָּרַם הַחֵטְא:
The Gemara interprets homiletically that until Your people will cross refers to the first entry into Eretz Yisrael during the time of Joshua, while until the people You have acquired pass over refers to the second entry following the exile in Babylonia. Based on the juxtaposition of these two entries in this single verse, the Sages said: Israel was worthy of having a miracle performed on its behalf in the time of Ezra the scribe, just as one was performed on their behalf in the time of Joshua bin Nun. However, transgression caused the absence of a miracle.
וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים עַד חֲצוֹת חֲכָמִים כְּמַאן סְבִירָא לְהוּ אִי כְּרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר סְבִירָא לְהוּ לֵימְרוּ כְּרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר
The Gemara returns to explain what we learned in the mishna: And the Rabbis say: The time for the recitation of the evening Shema is until midnight. The Gemara asks: In accordance with whose opinion do they hold in explaining the verse: “When you lie down”? If they explain this verse in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who says that “when you lie down” is the time when people customarily go to sleep, then let the Rabbis also say that the time for the recitation of Shema extends, in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, until the end of the first watch.