Sanhedrin 49a:16סנהדרין מ״ט א:טז
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49aמ״ט א

תהא לוטא ולא תהא לאטה

Be the one who is cursed and not the one who curses, as a curse eventually returns to the one who curses.

אתיוה ליואב דייניה אמר ליה מאי טעמא קטלתיה לאבנר אמר ליה גואל הדם דעשאל הואי עשאל רודף הוה אמר ליה היה לו להצילו באחד מאבריו

The Gemara returns to discuss the incident of Joab: They brought Joab before Solomon, who judged him. Solomon said to Joab: What is the reason that you killed Abner? Joab said to him: I was the blood redeemer of the blood of Asahel; when Abner murdered my brother Asahel I killed him, in fulfillment of my duty as his blood redeemer. Solomon said to him: But Asahel was pursuing Abner with the intention of killing him, and therefore he had the status of a pursuer. Since Abner killed Asahel in an act of self-defense, you had no right to kill him as a redeemer of Asahel’s blood. Joab said to Solomon: Abner could have saved himself by wounding Asahel in one of his limbs. Having failed to do so, he was guilty of murder, and I was therefore entitled to kill him.

אמר ליה לא יכיל ליה א"ל השתא בדופן חמישית כיון ליה דכתיב (שמואל ב ב, כג) ויכהו אבנר באחרי החנית אל החומש וא"ר יוחנן בדופן חמישית במקום שמרה וכבד תלויין בו באחד מאיבריו לא יכיל ליה

Solomon said to him: Abner was not able to injure Asahel, because he was running and could not aim with precision. Joab said to Solomon: Now Abner was able to aim and hit him precisely in the fifth rib, as it is written: “And Abner smote him with the butt end of the spear in the ḥomesh (II Samuel 2:23), and Rabbi Yoḥanan says that this means that he hit him in the fifth rib, the place where the gallbladder and liver hang. If Abner could aim with precision at the fifth rib, could he not have successfully aimed at one of Asahel’s limbs?

אמר ליה ניזיל אבנר מאי טעמא קטלתיה לעמשא אמר ליה עמשא מורד במלכות הוה דכתיב (שמואל ב כ, ד) ויאמר המלך לעמשא הזעק לי את איש יהודה שלשת ימים וגו' וילך עמשא להזעיק את יהודה ויוחר וגו'

Solomon said to Joab: Set aside Abner, as you have presented a convincing argument that you are not liable for his death. But what is the reason you killed Amasa? Abner said to him: I killed Amasa in punishment for his having rebelled against the king, as it is written: “And the king said to Amasa: Muster to me the men of Judah within three days, and be you here present. And Amasa went to call the men of Judah, but he was later than the set time that he had assigned to him” (II Samuel 20:4–5).

אמר ליה עמשא אכין ורקין דרש

Solomon said to him: Amasa was not guilty of rebelling against the king because he interpreted the words akh and rak in a restrictive manner, and in that way he limited the king’s authority.

אשכחינהו דפתיח להו במסכתא אמר כתיב (יהושע א, יח) כל איש אשר ימרה את פיך ולא ישמע את דבריך לכל אשר תצונו יומת יכול אפילו לדברי תורה תלמוד לומר רק חזק ואמץ

How so? Amasa found the men of Judah starting to study a new tractate. He said to himself: It is written: “Any man who rebels against your commandment, and will not listen to your words in all that you command him, he shall be put to death” (Joshua 1:18), indicating that the king of Israel has unlimited power. Based on these words alone, one might have thought that the king must be obeyed even when that would lead to abstention from the study of the words of Torah. Therefore, that same verse states: “Only [rak] be strong and of a good courage.” The word “rak” is a restrictive term that serves to limit the king’s authority in a situation where obeying his command will minimalize the study of Torah. Consequently, Amasa was justified when he did not muster the men of Judah at the appointed time, and you had no right to kill him.

אלא ההוא גברא מורד במלכות הוה דכתיב (מלכים א ב, כח) והשמועה באה עד יואב כי יואב נטה אחרי אדניה ואחרי אבשלום לא נטה

Solomon continued: Rather, the opposite is true. That man, you, Joab, rebelled against the king, as it is written: “Then tidings came to Joab, for Joab had followed after Adonijah, though he had not followed after Absalom. And Joab fled to the tent of the Lord and caught hold of the horns of the altar” (I Kings 2:28). Joab followed Adonijah, thereby rebelling against Solomon, the lawful king.

מאי לא נטה אמר רב יהודה שביקש לנטות ולא נטה ומאי טעמא לא נטה אמר רבי אלעזר עדיין ליחלוחית של דוד קיימת

The Gemara asks: What does the verse mean to teach when it says that Joab did not follow Absalom? Rav Yehuda says: It serves to teach that Joab wanted to follow Absalom, but in practice he did not follow him. The Gemara asks: If he wanted to do so, what is the reason that Joab did not follow Absalom? Rabbi Elazar says: When Absalom rebelled against his father, David was still in full possession of his vitality, meaning he was still strong, and Joab feared him.

רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר עדיין איצטגניני של דוד קיימין דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ארבע מאות ילדים היו לו לדוד כולן בני יפת תואר היו ומגדלי בלורית היו ומהלכין בראשי הגייסות היו והן הן בעלי אגרופין של דוד

Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: David’s stars [itztagninei], the planetary influences that determined his fortune, still stood for him. As Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: David had four hundred children in his army, and all of them were sons of beautiful women taken captive from their gentile homes during war (see Deuteronomy 21:10–14), and they grew their hair in a gentile hair style, and they would go at the head of the troops, and they were the strong-arm enforcers of the house of David, on whose loyalty David’s monarchy relied. As long as David was supported by this force, Joab was afraid to challenge him.

ופליגא דרבי אבא בר כהנא דאמר רבי אבא בר כהנא אילמלא דוד לא עשה יואב מלחמה ואילמלא יואב לא עסק דוד בתורה דכתיב (שמואל ב ח, טו) ויהי דוד עושה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו ויואב בן צרויה על הצבא מה טעם דוד עשה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו משום דיואב על הצבא ומה טעם יואב על הצבא משום דדוד עושה משפט וצדקה לכל עמו

The Gemara notes: And those who view Joab in a negative light disagree with the opinion of Rabbi Abba bar Kahana, as Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says: Were it not for David, who studied Torah, Joab would not have been able to wage war successfully, and were it not for the military acumen of Joab, David would not have been able to study Torah. As it is written: “And David executed judgment and justice to all his people, and Joab, son of Zeruiah, was over the army” (II Samuel 8:15–16). What is the reason that David “executed judgment and justice to all his people”? He was able to do so because “Joab, son of Zeruiah, was over the army,” assisting him and fighting his battles. And what is the reason that “Joab, son of Zeruiah, was over the army”? He was able to do so because “David executed judgment and justice to all his people.”

(שמואל ב ג, כו) ויצא יואב מעם דוד וישלח מלאכים אחרי אבנר וישיבו אותו מבור הסירה מאי בור הסירה אמר רבי אבא בר כהנא בור וסירה גרמו לו לאבנר שיהרג

§ The verse states: “And Joab went out from David, and sent messengers after Abner, and they brought him back from Bor Sirah” (II Samuel 3:26). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the name Bor Sirah? Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says: A well [bor] and a thorn [vesira] caused Abner to be killed. Abner became liable to be killed when he failed to take advantage of two opportunities to bring about a reconciliation between King Saul and David. First, when David cut off a corner of Saul’s robe after he entered a cave in order to relieve himself, and second, when David found Saul sleeping and took the jug of water and the spear from next to his head. Rather than tell Saul that David could have killed him and refrained from doing so, Abner suggested to Saul that his robe may have been torn by a thornbush and that his jug of water may have been taken by one of his own men. These two incidents are alluded to by the words bor, well, i.e., jug of water, and sira, thornbush.

(שמואל ב ג, כז) ויטהו יואב אל תוך השער לדבר אתו בשלי אמר רבי יוחנן שדנו דין סנהדרי א"ל מ"ט קטלתיה לעשאל עשאל רודף היה היה לך להצילו באחד מאיבריו לא יכילי ליה השתא בדופן חמישית כוונת ליה באחד מאיבריו לא יכלת ליה

The verse states: “And Joab took him aside in the gate to speak with him quietly” (II Samuel 3:27). Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Joab judged Abner according to the halakha of the Sanhedrin, which would sit in judgment by the gate of the city. How so? Joab said to Abner: What is the reason that you killed Asahel? Abner said to him: Asahel was pursuing me with the intention to kill me, and therefore he had the status of a pursuer, whom I had the right to kill in self-defense. Joab said to Abner: Even so, you could have saved yourself by wounding one of his limbs. Abner replied: I was not able to do so as I was running and could not aim with precision. Joab said to him: Now seeing that you were able to aim and hit him precisely in the fifth rib, could you not have successfully aimed at one of his limbs?

לדבר אתו בשלי אמר רב יהודה אמר רב על עיסקי שלו (שמואל ב ג, כז) ויכהו שם אל החומש אמר רבי יוחנן בדופן חמישית מקום שמרה וכבד תלויין בו

The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “to speak with him quietly [basheli]”? Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: He took him aside to speak to him by way of deception [shalu]. As for what is stated: “And Abner smote him with the butt end of the spear in the ḥomesh (II Samuel 2:23), Rabbi Yoḥanan says: He hit him in the fifth [ḥamishit] rib, the place where the gallbladder and liver hang.

(מלכים א ב, לב) והשיב ה' את דמו על ראשו אשר פגע בשני אנשים צדיקים וטובים ממנו טובים שהיו דורשין אכין ורקין והוא לא דרש צדיקים שהן בפה ולא עשו והוא באיגרת עשה

§ The verse states that Solomon said to Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, concerning Joab: “And the Lord shall return the blood upon his own head, for he fell upon two men more righteous and better than he” (I Kings 2:32). The Gemara explains: Amasa and Abner were “better” that Joab, as they interpreted the words akh and rak in a restrictive manner that limited the king’s authority, while he did not interpret them in that way, demonstrating that they were greater than him in Torah. Amasa and Abner were also “more righteous” than Joab, as they both received oral instructions directly from Saul to slay the priests of Nov and they did not do so, whereas Joab was instructed by David in a letter to kill Uriah and he did so.

(שמואל ב כ, י) ועמשא לא נשמר בחרב אשר ביד יואב אמר רב שלא חשדו

The verse states: “But Amasa took no heed of the sword in Joab’s hand” (II Samuel 20:10). Rav says: Amasa took no heed of the sword because he did not suspect that Joab was capable of murdering him.

(מלכים א ב, לד) ויקבר בביתו במדבר אטו ביתו מדבר הוא אמר רב יהודה אמר רב כמדבר מה מדבר מופקר לכל אף ביתו של יואב מופקר לכל דבר אחר כמדבר מה מדבר מנוקה מגזל ועריות אף ביתו של יואב מנוקה מגזל ועריות (דברי הימים א יא, ח) ויואב יחיה את שאר העיר אמר רב יהודה אפילו מוניני וצחנתא טעים פריס להו:

The verse states with regard to Joab: “And he was buried in his own house, in the wilderness” (I Kings 2:34). The Gemara asks: Is that to say that Joab’s house was a wilderness? Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: Joab’s house was like the wilderness; just as the wilderness is freely open to all, so too, Joab’s house was freely open to all, as he generously opened his house to the poor and made them feel like members of the household. Alternatively, Joab’s house was like the wilderness; just as the wilderness is clean of theft and sexual immorality, as it is uninhabited, so too, Joab’s house was clean of theft and sexual immorality, owing to his righteousness. As for the verse: “And Joab kept alive the rest of the city” (I Chronicles 11:8), Rav Yehuda says: Not only would Joab feed the poor, but he would even give them treats of types of small fish so they would lack for nothing.



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