and it was found in accordance with my opinion. I said that Hammath is Tiberias. And why was it called Hammath? On account of the hot springs of [ḥammei] Tiberias that are located there. And I said that Rakkath is Tzippori. And why was it called Rakkath? Because it is raised above the surrounding areas like the bank [rakta] of a river. And I said that Chinnereth is Ginosar. And why was it called Chinnereth? Because its fruit are sweet like the sound of a harp [kinnor].
Rava said: Is there anyone who says that Rakkath is not Tiberias? Isn’t it true that when a great man dies here, in Babylonia, they lament his demise there, in Tiberias, as follows: Great was he in Sheshakh, i.e., Babylonia (see Jeremiah 25:26), and he had a name in Rakkath? Furthermore, when they bring up the casket of an important person to there, to Tiberias, they lament his demise as follows: You lovers of the remnants of the Jewish people, residents of Rakkath, go out and receive the dead from the deep, i.e., the low-lying lands of Babylonia.
Similarly, the Gemara relates that when Rabbi Zeira died, a certain eulogizer opened his eulogy for him with these words: The land of Shinar, i.e., Babylonia, Rabbi Zeira’s birthplace, conceived and bore him; the land of the deer, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, where Rabbi Zeira lived as an adult and rose to prominence, raised her delights. Woe unto her, said Rakkath, for she has lost her precious instrument. It is apparent from these examples that Rakkath is Tiberias.
Rather, Rabba said: Hammath is the hot springs of Gerar that are adjacent to Tiberias; Rakkath is Tiberias; and Chinnereth is Ginosar. And why was Tiberias called Rakkath? Because even the empty ones [reikanin] of Tiberias are as full of mitzvot as a pomegranate is full of seeds. Rabbi Yirmeya said: In fact, Rakkath is its real name; and why was it called Tiberias? Because it sits in the very center [tabbur] of Eretz Yisrael. Rava said: Rakkath is its real name, and why was it called Tiberias? Because its appearance is good [tova re’iyyata].
§ While continuing to identify places that are mentioned in the Bible, Zeira said: The city of Kitron that is mentioned in the Bible is the city of Tzippori. And why was it called Tzippori? Because it sits on top of a mountain like a bird [tzippor].
The Gemara asks: Is Kitron really Tzippori? Wasn’t Kitron in the tribal territory of Zebulun, as it is written: “Neither did Zebulun drive out the inhabitants of Kitron, nor the inhabitants of Nahalol” (Judges 1:30)? And the tribe of Zebulun was resentful of its portion, as it is stated: “Zebulun was a people that jeopardized their lives to the death” (Judges 5:18). What is the reason for their resentfulness? Because “Naphtali was on the high places of the field” (Judges 5:18).
The verse should be interpreted as follows: Zebulun said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe! To my brothers, the tribes whose territory is adjacent to mine, You gave fields and vineyards, whereas to me You gave mountains and hills; to my brothers You gave lands, whereas to me You gave seas and rivers. God said back to him: Nevertheless, all will need you due to the ḥilazon, the small sea creature residing in your territory that is the source of the dye used in the ritual fringes [tzitzit]. As it is stated in Moses’ blessing to Zebulun: “They shall call the people to the mountain: There they shall sacrifice offerings of righteousness; for they shall suck of the abundance of the seas, and of the hidden treasures of the sand” (Deuteronomy 33:19).
Rav Yosef teaches about this: “Treasures”; this is referring to the ḥilazon, which is found in the waters of Zebulun. “Hidden”; this is referring to the tarit, a type of sardine, which is also found in Zebulun’s coastal waters. “Sand”; this is referring to the sand from which white glass is made. Zebulun said to Him: All of these resources are indeed found in my territory, but Master of the Universe, who will inform me if others take them without permission? He said to the tribe of Zebulun: “There they shall sacrifice offerings of righteousness.” This shall be a sign for you that anyone who takes these items from you without making payment will not prosper at all in his business.
It is clear from the exposition of the verse in Judges that the territory of Zebulun did not contain fields and vineyards. And if it enters your mind to say that Kitron is Tzippori, why was Zebulun resentful of his portion? Wasn’t Tzippori in his territory, which was land that was vastly superior with regard to its produce? And if you would say that Zebulun’s portion did not have quality land flowing with milk and honey, didn’t Reish Lakish say: I myself have seen the land flowing with milk and honey around Tzippori, and it was sixteen mil by sixteen mil?
And if you would say that the part of his territory that flowed with milk and honey was not as vast as that of his brothers, the other tribes, didn’t Rabba bar bar Ḥana say that Rabbi Yoḥanan said: I myself have seen the land flowing with milk and honey over all of Eretz Yisrael. And the size of the fertile land was like the distance from Bei Kovei to the fortress of Tulbakni, a total of twenty-two parasangs [parsa] in length and six parasangs in width. A parasang is four mil; consequently, the area flowing with milk and honey around Tzippori was four by four parasangs, which is more than the fair share of one tribe among twelve.
The Gemara answers: Even so, fields and vineyards were preferable to Zebulun. The fertile land in Zebulun’s territory is in a mountainous region, which makes it more difficult to cultivate. The Gemara comments: The language of the verse is also precise according to this explanation, as it is written: “And Naphtali was on the high places of the field,” which indicates that Zebulun’s complaint was due to the fact that Naphtali had fields. The Gemara concludes: Indeed, learn from here that this is so.
§ The Gemara continues its discussion with regard to identifying places mentioned in the Bible. Rabbi Abbahu said: “And Ekron shall be uprooted” (Zephaniah 2:4). This is an allusion to Caesarea, daughter of Edom, which is situated among the sands. Caesarea was primarily populated by Greeks and Romans, and it served as the seat of Roman rule when the Romans, who are identified with Edom in Jewish literature, ruled Eretz Yisrael. And it was a spike stuck in the side of the Jewish people already in the days of the Greeks, as it was an obstacle to the spread of Jewish settlement. When the Hasmonean monarchy prevailed and triumphed over them, they called it: The captured tower of Shir.
Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his detestable things from between his teeth, and he also shall be a remnant for our God; and he shall be as a chief in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite” (Zechariah 9:7)? The verse should be understood as follows: “And I will take away his blood out of his mouth”; this is referring to their house of altars, where they sacrifice offerings. “And his detestable things from between his teeth”; this is referring to their house of piles, where they heap their ritual stones.
“And he also shall be a remnant for our God,” these words are referring to the synagogues and study halls in Edom. “And he shall be as a chief [aluf ] in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite,” these words are referring to the theaters [tere’atrayot] and the circuses [kirkesayot] in Edom where the officers of Judah are destined to teach Torah in public.
Rabbi Yitzḥak said: “And the children of Dan went up and fought against Leshem” (Joshua 19:47); this is referring to the city that was known in the Talmudic period as Pamyas. “Ekron shall be uprooted” (Zephaniah 2:4); this is referring to Caesarea, the daughter of Edom, which was a metropolis [metropolin], i.e., a capital city, of kings. There are those who say this means that kings were raised there, and there are those who say it means that kings were appointed from there, meaning the kings of Edom were appointed from among the residents of this city.
The Sages said that the fortunes of Caesarea, which represents Rome, and Jerusalem are diametric opposites. If, therefore, someone says to you that both cities are destroyed, do not believe him. Similarly, if he says to you that they are both settled in tranquility, do not believe him. If, however, he says to you that Caesarea is destroyed and Jerusalem is settled, or that Jerusalem is destroyed and Caesarea is settled, believe him. As it is stated: “Because Tyre has said against Jerusalem: Aha, the gates of the people have been broken; she is turned to me; I shall be filled with her that is laid waste” (Ezekiel 26:2), and Tyre, like Caesarea, represents Rome. Consequently, the verse indicates that if this city is filled, that one is laid waste, and if that city is filled, this one is laid waste. The two cities cannot coexist.
Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: The same idea may be derived from here, a verse dealing with Jacob and Esau: “And the one people shall be stronger than the other people” (Genesis 25:23), teaching that when one nation rises, the other necessarily falls.
§ Having mentioned Edom, the Gemara cites what Rabbi Yitzḥak said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Let favor be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness he will deal wrongfully, and will not behold the majesty of the Lord” (Isaiah 26:10)? Isaac said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, let favor be shown to Esau, my beloved son. God said to him: Esau is wicked. Isaac said to God: “Yet will he not learn righteousness,” i.e., is there no one who can find merit in him? God said to him: “In the land of uprightness he will deal wrongfully,” meaning that he is destined to destroy Eretz Yisrael. Isaac said to God: If it is so that he is that wicked, “he will not behold the majesty of the Lord.”
And Rabbi Yitzḥak also said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; further not his evil device, so that they not exalt themselves. Selah” (Psalms 140:9)? Jacob said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, grant not to the wicked Esau the desires of his heart, as he wishes to destroy us. Further not his evil device [zemamo]; do not remove the muzzle [zamam] that constrains him and prevents him from breaking out and gathering further strength. This is a reference to