R. Yose now quotes another case in which someone grinds up an idol—Asa, the King of Israel, did this to his mother’s idol (reminiscent, certainly of the midrash about Abraham). The rabbis reject this proof as well. The problem with grinding up idols is that the dust becomes fertilizer. But the brook of Kidron is not a place where vegetation grows.
The Talmud cites a baraita about the blood that runs off from the sacrifices in the Temple. This blood would flow into the brook of Kidron and the water/blood mixture was sold as fertilizer to farmers. This is proof that the brook of Kidron does have vegetation, which now is a proof for R. Yose, that one may nevertheless grind up an idol, just as Asa did The other rabbis would answer that the brook of Kidron has several areas. Asa would have ground the idol up in a place without vegetation, for otherwise this is prohibited.
The Talmud continues the dialogue between R. Yose and the sages over whether one can grind up an idol as a means to destroy it.
R. Yose tries to bring proof from Hezekiah, who, seeing that Israel is worshipping the serpent that Moses made in Numbers to cure the people of Israel, crushes it. This is proof that crushing is a valid form of annulment.
The rabbis answer that the serpent belonged to Moses. The fact that the Israelites worshipped it does not turn it into an idol, because a person cannot cause something that belongs to another person to become prohibited. If I worship your cow, it does not make your cow prohibited. So why then did Hezekiah destroy the bronze serpent? Because he saw that Israelites were worshipping it. In other words, although the bronze serpent was not prohibited, he still did not want the Jews to worship it.
R. Yose cites another proof from an incident in II Samuel where David finds some idols of the Philistines. The literal translation is that he “took them away” but R. Yose interprets this verb in light of the same verb in Isaiah to mean that he crushed them and spread their remains to the wind.
The rabbis reject this based on the parallel version in I Chronicles. There David burns the idols. Obviously since it does not say that he burned them and then scattered them, it must mean that the word “vayasi’em” does not mean scatter.
The verse from Chronicles has David burning the idols, whereas in Samuel he takes them away. So which is it? The answer is that the verse from Chronicles refers to a period before Ittai the Gittite joined David’s court. Ittai was a gentile and therefore he could annul idols. Before he came they would have had to burn the idols, because Jews cannot annul idols belonging to non-Jews. But after he came, they were able to just carry the idols away because Ittai would annul them.
The coming of Ittai also helps explain how David could take the crown off the king of Rabbah and have it placed on his head—Ittai annulled its idolatrous aspects first.
A talent of gold is extremely heavy, too heavy for a crown that could be worn. The amoraim here explain how to read the verse such that David would not be putting a too heavy crown on his head.
Interestingly, I listened to an interview with Queen Elizabeth this year and she did say that the crown is extremely heavy and not easy to wear. Especially, I suppose, for a 92 year old woman.
Yesterday’s section ended with a discussion of King David donning a crown. Today’s section begins with a midrash that alludes to the special qualities of this crown. It then continues with more midrashim about David’s crown, and its importance to David’s descendants.
The fact that the crown fits perfectly on his head is a reward for his having kept God’s precepts. There is room on this spot for both the crown and to wear tefillin. Thus David could wear his tefillin and crown at the same time.
The verse quoted here refers to the coronation of Yehoash. The “testimony” that he was fit for the crown was that it fit his head. Sort of like the slipper on Cinderella.
Adoniyah is the son of David who pronounced himself king even before David’s death. According to the midrash, since he was not fit to be king, the crown did not fit his head.
This section digresses a bit about Adoniyah. As part of his project of self-aggrandizement, he hires an entourage, sort of like modern celebs. I suppose if he lived today, he’d hire some Instagram followers or maybe some paparazzi to follow him around. In any case, what’s the big deal about 50 people to run in front of him? That does not sound like an impressive number. The Talmud answers that these are special runners—they had their spleens removes, and flesh from their feet removed. This seems to have been an ancient way of improving one’s speed. Doping in sports does not seem to be anything new.