Sanhedrin 107aסנהדרין ק״ז א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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107aק״ז א

אוכל לחמי הגדיל עלי עקב

who did eat of my bread, has lifted his heel against me” (Psalms 41:10). Bread is a metaphor for Torah knowledge.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב לעולם אל יביא אדם עצמו לידי נסיון שהרי דוד מלך ישראל הביא עצמו לידי נסיון ונכשל אמר לפניו רבש"ע מפני מה אומרים אלהי אברהם אלהי יצחק ואלהי יעקב ואין אומרים אלהי דוד אמר אינהו מינסו לי ואת לא מינסית לי אמר לפניו רבש"ע בחנני ונסני שנאמר (תהלים כו, ב) בחנני ה' ונסני וגו'

§ Apropos Ahithophel, the Gemara relates the events that led to his death. Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: A person should never bring himself to undergo an ordeal, as David, king of Israel, brought himself to undergo an ordeal and failed. David said before God: Master of the Universe, for what reason does one say in prayer: God of Abraham, God of Isaac, and God of Jacob, and one does not say: God of David? God said to David: They have undergone ordeals before Me, and you have not undergone an ordeal before Me. David said before Him: Examine me and subject me to an ordeal, as it is stated: “Examine me, Lord, and subject me to an ordeal; try my kidneys and my heart” (Psalms 26:2).

אמר מינסנא לך ועבידנא מילתא בהדך דלדידהו לא הודעתינהו ואילו אנא קא מודענא לך דמנסינא לך בדבר ערוה מיד (שמואל ב יא, ב) ויהי לעת הערב ויקם דוד מעל משכבו וגו'

God said to him: I will subject you to an ordeal, and I will perform a matter for you that I did not perform for the Patriarchs, as for them, I did not inform them of the nature of the ordeal, while I am informing you that I will subject you to an ordeal involving a matter of a married woman, with whom relations are forbidden. Immediately, it is written: “And it came to pass one evening that David rose from his bed” (II Samuel 11:2).

אמר רב יהודה שהפך משכבו של לילה למשכבו של יום ונתעלמה ממנו הלכה אבר קטן יש באדם משביעו רעב ומרעיבו שבע

Rav Yehuda says: Once David heard the nature of his ordeal, he sought to prevent himself from experiencing lust. He transformed his nighttime bed into his daytime bed, i.e., he engaged in intercourse with his wives during the day, in an attempt to quell his lust. But a halakha, i.e., a Torah statement, escaped him: There is a small limb in man that he employs in sexual intercourse. If he starves the limb, and does not overindulge, it is satiated; but if he satiates the limb and overindulges in sexual intercourse, it is starving, and desires more. Therefore, his plan had the opposite effect.

(שמואל ב יא, ב) ויתהלך על גג בית המלך וירא אשה רוחצת מעל הגג והאשה טובת מראה מאד בת שבע הוה קא חייפא רישא תותי חלתא אתא שטן אידמי ליה כציפרתא פתק ביה גירא פתקה לחלתא איגליה וחזייה

The verse states: “And he walked upon the roof of the king’s house; from the roof he saw a woman bathing, and the woman was very fair to look upon” (II Samuel 11:2). Bathsheba was shampooing her head behind a beehive, which concealed her from sight. Satan came and appeared to David as a bird. David shot an arrow at the bird, the arrow severed the beehive, Bathsheba was exposed, and David saw her.

מיד (שמואל ב יא, ג) וישלח דוד וידרוש לאשה ויאמר הלא זאת בת שבע בת אליעם אשת אוריה החתי וישלח דוד מלאכים ויקחה ותבא אליו וישכב עמה והיא מתקדשת מטומאתה ותשב אל ביתה והיינו דכתיב (תהלים יז, ג) בחנת לבי פקדת לילה צרפתני בל תמצא זמותי בל יעבר פי אמר איכו זממא נפל בפומיה דמאן דסני לי ולא אמר כי הא מילתא

Immediately, it is written: “And David sent and inquired after the woman. And one said: Is not this Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? And David sent messengers, and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her, for she was purified from her impurity, and then she returned to her house” (II Samuel 11:3–4). And that is the meaning of that which is written: “You have proved my heart; You have visited me in the night: You have tried me, but You find nothing; let no presumptuous thought pass my lips” (Psalms 17:3). David said: Oh, that a muzzle would have fallen upon the mouth of the one who hates me, a euphemism for his own mouth, and I would not have said anything like that and I would have withstood the ordeal.

דרש רבא מאי דכתיב (תהלים יא, א) למנצח לדוד בה' חסיתי איך תאמרו לנפשי נודי הרכם צפור אמר דוד לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע מחול לי על אותו עון שלא יאמרו הר שבכם צפור נדדתו

Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “To the leader, of David. In the Lord I put my trust; how can you say to my soul: Flee like a bird to your mountain” (Psalms 11:1)? David said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, pardon me for that sin with Bathsheba so that the wicked people will not say: The mountain that is among you, i.e., the luminary of the generation, David, was driven from the world due to a bird that led to his transgression.

דרש רבא מאי דכתיב (תהלים נא, ו) לך לבדך חטאתי והרע בעיניך עשיתי למען תצדק בדברך תזכה בשפטך אמר דוד לפני הקב"ה גליא וידיעא קמך דאי בעיא למכפייה ליצרי הוה כייפינא אלא אמינא דלא לימרו עבדא זכי למריה

Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Against You, only You, have I sinned, and done what is evil in Your eyes; that You are justified when You speak, and right when You judge” (Psalms 51:6)? David said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: It is revealed and known before You that if I sought to suppress my evil inclination, I would have suppressed it; but I said: I will sin, so that they will not say a servant overcame his master and withstood the ordeal even though God said that he would not.

דרש רבא מאי דכתיב (תהלים לח, יח) כי אני לצלע נכון ומכאובי נגדי תמיד ראויה היתה בת שבע בת אליעם לדוד מששת ימי בראשית אלא שבאה אליו במכאוב וכן תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל ראויה היתה לדוד בת שבע בת אליעם אלא שאכלה פגה

Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “For I am ready to stumble [letzela] and my pain is always before me” (Psalms 38:18)? Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, was designated as fit for David from the six days of Creation. Rava interprets that the term letzela is referring to Eve, who was taken from the side [tzela] of Adam, the first man, and explains that she was destined for him, just as Eve was destined for Adam. But she came to him through pain. And likewise, the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Bathsheba, daughter of Eliam, was designated as fit for David, but he partook of her unripe, before the appointed time. David would have ultimately married her in a permitted manner after the death of Uriah.

דרש רבא מאי דכתיב (תהלים לה, טו) ובצלעי שמחו ונאספו נאספו עלי נכים [ולא ידעתי] קרעו ולא דמו אמר דוד לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע גלוי וידוע לפניך שאם היו קורעין בשרי לא היה דמי שותת

Rava taught: What is the meaning of that which is written: “And when I limped they rejoiced and gathered, the wretched gather themselves together against me, and those whom I know not; they tore and did not cease [dammu]” (Psalms 35:15)? David said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe. It is revealed and known before you that if my enemies were to tear my flesh, my blood [dami] would not flow to the ground, due to excessive fasting (see II Samuel 12:16–17).

ולא עוד אלא בשעה שהם עוסקין בארבע מיתות ב"ד פוסקין ממשנתן ואומרים לי דוד הבא על אשת איש מיתתו במה אמרתי להם הבא על אשת איש מיתתו בחנק ויש לו חלק לעוה"ב אבל המלבין פני חבירו ברבים אין לו חלק לעולם הבא

David continued: Moreover, my enemies torment me to the extent that at the time when they are engaged in the public study of the halakhot of the four court-imposed death penalties they interrupt their study and say to me: David, concerning one who engages in intercourse with a married woman, his death is effected with what form of execution? And I said to them: Concerning one who engages in intercourse with a married woman before witnesses and with forewarning, his death is by strangulation, and he has a share in the World-to-Come. But one who humiliates another before the multitudes has no share in the World-to-Come. The transgression of those who humiliated David is clearly more severe than the transgression of David himself.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב אפילו בשעת חליו של דוד קיים שמנה עשרה עונות שנאמר (תהלים ו, ז) יגעתי באנחתי אשחה בכל לילה מטתי בדמעתי ערשי אמסה ואמר רב יהודה אמר רב בקש דוד לעבוד ע"ז שנאמר (שמואל ב טו, לב) ויהי דוד בא עד הראש אשר ישתחוה שם לאלהים ואין ראש אלא ע"ז שנאמר (דניאל ב, לב) והוא צלמא רישיה די דהב טב

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: Even during the time of his illness he fulfilled the mitzva of conjugal rights for eighteen wives, as it is stated: “I am weary with my groaning; every night I speak in my bed; I melt away my couch with tears” (Psalms 6:7). Even when he was weary and groaning he still spoke in his bed, a euphemism for sexual intercourse. And Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: David sought to engage in idol worship during Absalom’s coup, as it is stated: “And it came to pass when David was at the top [rosh] of the ascent, where he would bow to God” (II Samuel 15:32), and rosh means nothing other than idol worship, as it is stated: “As for that image, its head [reishei] was of fine gold” (Daniel 2:32).

(שמואל ב טו, לב) והנה לקראתו חושי הארכי קרוע כתנתו ואדמה על ראשו אמר לו לדוד יאמרו מלך שכמותך יעבוד ע"ז אמר לו מלך שכמותי יהרגנו בנו מוטב יעבוד ע"ז ואל יתחלל שם שמים בפרהסיא

It is written: “Behold Hushai the Archite came to meet him with his coat rent and earth upon his head” (II Samuel 15:32). Hushai said to David: Shall they say a king like you will engage in idol worship? David said to him: Is it preferable that they say with regard to a king like me, known to be righteous, that his son will kill him? David continued, referring to himself in third person: It is preferable that he shall engage in idol worship and the name of Heaven shall not be desecrated in public through the murder of a righteous king in this manner.

אמר מאי טעמא קנסיבת יפת תואר א"ל יפת תואר רחמנא שרייה א"ל לא דרשת סמוכין דסמיך ליה (דברים כא, יח) כי יהיה לאיש בן סורר ומורה כל הנושא יפת תואר יש לו בן סורר ומורה

Hushai said to him: What is the reason that you married a beautiful woman, the mother of Absalom? David said to him: With regard to a beautiful woman, the Merciful One permitted marrying her. Hushai said to him: But you did not interpret the juxtaposed verses, as juxtaposed to the portion of the beautiful woman is the portion beginning: “If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son” (Deuteronomy 21:18). From that juxtaposition it is derived: Anyone who marries a beautiful woman has a stubborn and rebellious son. Therefore, even if Absalom kills you, there will be no desecration of God’s name, as the people will attribute his actions to his mother.

דרש ר' דוסתאי דמן בירי למה דוד דומה לסוחר כותי אמר דוד לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע (תהלים יט, יג) שגיאות מי יבין [א"ל] שביקי לך ומנסתרות נקני שביקי לך גם מזדים חשוך עבדך שביקי לך אל ימשלו בי אז איתם דלא לישתעו בי רבנן שביקי לך

Rabbi Dostai from Biri taught: To what is David comparable? He is comparable to a Samaritan merchant, who incrementally lowers the price until the buyer agrees to purchase the merchandise. David said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe: “Who can discern his errors” (Psalms 19:13), i.e., forgive me for the unwitting sins that I committed. God said to him: They are forgiven for you. David asked more: “Cleanse me from hidden faults” (Psalms 19:13), i.e., pardon me for transgressions that I committed in private, even if I performed them intentionally. God said to him: They are forgiven for you. David requested: “Keep back your servant also from intentional sins” (Psalms 19:14). God said to him: They are forgiven for you. David requested: “Let them not have dominion over me, then I shall be faultless” (Psalms 19:14), and I further request that the Sages will not speak of me and condemn me. God said to him: They are forgiven for you.

ונקיתי מפשע רב שלא יכתב סרחוני אמר לו א"א ומה יו"ד שנטלתי משרי עומד וצווח כמה שנים עד שבא יהושע והוספתי לו שנאמר (במדבר יג, טז) ויקרא משה להושע בן נון יהושע כל הפרשה כולה עאכ"ו

David requested: “And I shall be clear from great transgression” (Psalms 19:14), meaning that my transgression with Bathsheba and Uriah will not be written in the Bible. God said to him: That is impossible. And just as the letter yod that I removed from the name of Sarai, wife of Abraham, when I changed her name to Sarah, was standing and screaming several years over its omission from the Bible until Joshua came and I added the yod to his name, as it is stated: “And Moses called Hosea, son of Nun, Joshua [Yehoshua]” (Numbers 13:16); the entire portion of your transgression, which is fit to be included in the Bible, all the more so it cannot be omitted.

ונקיתי מפשע רב אמר לפניו רבש"ע מחול לי על אותו עון כולו אמר כבר עתיד שלמה בנך לומר בחכמתו (משלי ו, כז) היחתה איש אש בחיקו ובגדיו לא תשרפנה אם יהלך איש על הגחלים ורגליו לא תכוינה כן הבא על אשת רעהו לא ינקה כל הנוגע בה א"ל כל הכי נטרד ההוא גברא א"ל קבל עליך יסורין קבל עליו

The verse states: “And I shall be clear from great transgression” (Psalms 19:14). David said before God: Master of the Universe, pardon me for that entire sin. God said to him: Your son Solomon is already destined to say with his wisdom: “Can a man take fire in his lap and his garments not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So too one who lies with his neighbor’s wife; anyone who touches her shall not go unpunished” (Proverbs 6:27–29). David said to Him: Will that man, David, be expelled for that entire transgression, with no remedy? God said to David: Accept upon yourself afflictions, and that will atone for your sins. He accepted afflictions upon himself.

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב ששה חדשים נצטרע דוד ונסתלקה הימנו שכינה ופירשו ממנו סנהדרין נצטרע דכתיב (תהלים נא, ט) תחטאני באזוב ואטהר תכבסני ומשלג אלבין נסתלקה הימנו שכינה דכתיב (תהלים נא, יד) השיבה לי ששון ישעך ורוח נדיבה תסמכני ופרשו ממנו סנהדרין דכתי' (תהלים קיט, עט) ישובו לי יראיך וגו' ששה חדשים מנלן דכתי' (מלכים א ב, יא) והימים אשר מלך דוד על ישראל ארבעים שנה

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: For six months David was afflicted with leprosy and the Divine Presence abandoned him and the members of the Sanhedrin dissociated themselves from him. He was afflicted with leprosy, as it is stated: “Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalms 51:9), indicating that he required purification like a leper. The Divine Presence abandoned him, as it is stated: “Restore me to joy of Your salvation; and uphold me with a willing spirit” (Psalms 51:14). And the members of the Sanhedrin dissociated themselves from him, as it is stated: “Let those who fear You turn to me, and those who have known Your testimonies” (Psalms 119:79). From where do we derive that this lasted for six months? It is derived as it is written: “And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years;