Sotah 11aסוטה י״א א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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11aי״א א

דכתיב (שמואל ב יב, יא) הנני מקים עליך רעה מביתך כיוצא בדבר אתה אומר (בראשית לז, יד) וישלחהו מעמק חברון א"ר חנינא בר פפא בעצה עמוקה של אותו צדיק שקבור בחברון דכתיב (בראשית טו, יג) ידוע תדע כי גר יהיה זרעך

This is as it is written there: “Thus said the Lord: Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your own house” (II Samuel 12:11), and this prophecy was fulfilled through Absalom. Similarly, you can say about Joseph, who was sent by his father to inquire as to the well-being of his brothers, where the verse states: “And he sent him from the valley [emek] of Hebron” (Genesis 37:14). Rabbi Ḥanina bar Pappa says: From the deep [amukka] counsel of that righteous individual who is interred in Hebron, i.e., Abraham, as it is written: “And He said unto Abram: Know that your seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years” (Genesis 15:13). The journey Joseph took to his brothers set in motion the descent of the Jewish people to Egypt.

(שמואל ב יח, יח) כי אמר אין לי בן ולא הוו ליה בני והכתיב (שמואל ב יד, כז) ויולדו לאבשלום שלשה בנים ובת אחת אמר רב יצחק בר אבדימי שלא היה לו בן הגון למלכות רב חסדא אמר גמירי כל השורף תבואתו של חבירו אינו מניח בן ליורשו ואיהו קלייה לדיואב דכתיב (שמואל ב יד, ל) ויאמר אל עבדיו ראו חלקת יואב אל ידי ולו שם שעורים לכו והציתוה באש ויציתו עבדי אבשלום את החלקה באש

The Gemara continues its discussion of Absalom. The verse states concerning Absalom: “For he said: I have no son to keep my name in remembrance; and he called the pillar after his own name; and it is called Absalom’s monument to this day” (II Samuel 18:18). The Gemara asks: And did Absalom not have sons? But isn’t it written: “And to Absalom there were born three sons, and one daughter” (II Samuel 14:27)? Rav Yitzḥak bar Avdimi says: He meant that he did not have a son worthy for royalty. Rav Ḥisda said: It is learned as a tradition: Anyone who burns the produce of another does not leave a son to inherit from him, and he, Absalom, burned the produce of Joab, as it is written: “Therefore he said to his servants: See, Joab’s field is near mine, and he has barley there; go and set it on fire. And Absalom’s servants set the field on fire” (II Samuel 14:30).

וכן לענין הטובה מרים וכו' מי דמי התם חדא שעתא הכא שבעה יומי אמר אביי אימא ולענין הטובה אינו כן

§ The mishna teaches: And the same is so with regard to the reward for good deeds. Miriam waited for the baby Moses for one hour at the shore of the Nile; therefore, the Jewish people delayed their travels in the desert for seven days to wait for her when she was smitten with leprosy. The Gemara asks: Are these matters comparable? There, Miriam waited one hour, while here, the Jewish people waited for her for seven days. Abaye said: Say this with a slight change: And with regard to the repaying of good it is not so, as a person is not rewarded precisely measure for measure, as the reward may be greater than the good deed.

א"ל רבא הא וכן לענין הטובה קתני אלא אמר רבא הכי קתני וכן לענין הטובה דבאותה מדה ולעולם מדה טובה מרובה ממדת פורענות

Rava said to him: But the tanna taught in the mishna: And the same is so with regard to the reward of good deeds. Rather, Rava said: This is what the mishna is teaching: And the same is so with regard to the reward of good deeds. It is rewarded with the same measure, i.e., a person is rewarded in the same manner as the good deed, but the measure of good is always greater than the measure of punishment. Therefore, Miriam was rewarded in the same manner as, but in a greater measure than, her deed.

(שמות ב, ד) ותתצב אחותו מרחוק א"ר יצחק פסוק זה כולו על שם שכינה נאמר ותתצב דכתיב (שמואל א ג, י) ויבא ה' ויתיצב וגו' אחותו דכתיב (משלי ז, ד) אמור לחכמה אחותי את מרחוק דכתיב (ירמיהו לא, ג) מרחוק ה' נראה לי לדעת דכתיב (שמואל א ב, ג) כי אל דעות ה' מה דכתיב (דברים י, יב) מה ה' אלהיך שואל מעמך יעשה דכתיב (עמוס ג, ז) כי לא יעשה [ה'] אלהים דבר לו דכתי' (שופטים ו, כד) ויקרא לו ה' שלום

With regard to Miriam’s deed the verse states: “And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:4). Rabbi Yitzḥak says: This entire verse is stated in reference to the Divine Presence, i.e., each phrase alludes to the Divine Presence watching over Moses. “And his sister stood”; as it is written: “And the Lord came, and stood” (I Samuel 3:10). “His sister”; as it is written: “Say to wisdom: You are my sister” (Proverbs 7:4). “Afar off”; as it is written: “From afar the Lord appeared to me” (Jeremiah 31:2). “To know”; as it is written: “For the Lord is a God of knowledge” (I Samuel 2:3). “What”; as it is written: “What does the Lord God require of you” (Deuteronomy 10:12). “Would be done”; as it is written: “For the Lord God will do nothing” (Amos 3:7). “To him”; as it is written: “And the Lord said to him: Peace be with you” (Judges 6:23).

(שמות א, ח) ויקם מלך חדש וגו' רב ושמואל חד אמר חדש ממש וחד אמר שנתחדשו גזירותיו מאן דאמר חדש ממש דכתיב חדש ומאן דאמר שנתחדשו גזירותיו דלא כתיב וימת וימלוך (שמות א, ח) אשר לא ידע את יוסף דהוה דמי כמאן דלא ידע ליה כלל

§ The Gemara proceeds to discuss the sojourn of the Jewish people in Egypt. The verse states: “And there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). Rav and Shmuel disagree about the interpretation of this verse. One says that this means he was actually a new king, and one says that this means that his decrees were transformed as if he were a new king. The one who says that he was actually a new king holds that it is because it is written “new.” And the one who says that his decrees were transformed holds that it is because it is not written: “And the previous king of Egypt died and a new king reigned.” This indicates that the same king remained. According to this interpretation, the words: “Who knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:8), mean that he was like someone who did not know him at all. Although he certainly knew Joseph and his accomplishments, he acted as if he didn’t.

(שמות א, ט) ויאמר אל עמו הנה עם בני ישראל תנא הוא התחיל בעצה תחילה לפיכך לקה תחילה הוא התחיל בעצה תחילה דכתיב ויאמר אל עמו לפיכך לקה תחילה כדכתיב (שמות ז, כט) ובכה ובעמך ובכל עבדיך

The next verse states: “And he said to his people: Behold, the people of the children of Israel are too many and too mighty for us” (Exodus 1:9). It was taught (Tosefta 4:11): He, Pharaoh, initiated the proposal. Therefore, of his people, he was stricken first. He initiated the proposal, as it is written: “And he said to his people.” Therefore, he was stricken first, as it is written: “And the frogs shall come up both upon you, and upon your people, and upon all your servants” (Exodus 7:29).

(שמות א, י) הבה נתחכמה לו להם מיבעי ליה א"ר חמא ברבי חנינא באו ונחכם למושיען של ישראל

The next verse states that Pharaoh said: “Come, let us deal wisely with him [lo], lest he multiply, and it come to pass that when there befalls us any war, he will also join our enemies, and fight against us” (Exodus 1:10). The Gemara comments: He should have said in plural: With them [lahem], rather than the singular: “With him.” Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says that Pharaoh was saying: Come, let us deal wisely with regard to the savior of Israel, referring to God.

במה נדונם נדונם באש כתיב (ישעיהו סו, טו) כי הנה ה' באש יבא וכתיב כי באש ה' נשפט וגו' בחרב כתיב [(ישעיהו סו, טז) ובחרבו את כל בשר]

His advisors asked: With what form of death shall we judge and decree upon them? If we shall judge them with fire, perhaps we will be punished measure for measure by fire, as it is written: “For behold, the Lord will come in fire” (Isaiah 66:15), and it is written in the verse that follows it: “For by fire will the Lord contend” (Isaiah 66:16). Similarly, we cannot judge them with the sword, as it is written in the continuation of that verse: “And by His sword with all flesh” (Isaiah 66:16).

אלא בואו ונדונם במים שכבר נשבע הקב"ה שאינו מביא מבול לעולם שנאמר (ישעיהו נד, ט) כי מי נח זאת לי וגו' והן אינן יודעין שעל כל העולם כולו אינו מביא אבל על אומה אחת הוא מביא

Rather, let us come and judge them with water, by drowning the Jewish babies. God will not punish us with water, for the Holy One, Blessed be He, already took an oath that He will not bring a flood upon the world, as it is stated: “For this is as the waters of Noah unto Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth” (Isaiah 54:9). The Gemara comments: And Pharaoh’s advisors did not know that He will not bring a flood upon all the world, but He may bring destruction by water upon one nation.

אי נמי הוא אינו מביא אבל הן באין ונופלין בתוכו וכן הוא אומר (שמות יד, כז) ומצרים נסים לקראתו והיינו דא"ר אלעזר מאי דכתיב (שמות יח, יא) כי בדבר אשר זדו עליהם בקדירה שבישלו בה נתבשלו מאי משמע דהאי זדו לישנא דקדירה הוא דכתיב (בראשית כה, כט) ויזד יעקב נזיד

Alternatively, there is an additional way to punish the Egyptians with water: He does not bring a flood upon them, but they may come and fall into water, and so it says: “And the sea returned to its strength when the morning appeared; and the Egyptians fled toward it; and the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea” (Exodus 14:27), indicating that the Egyptians fell into the water. And this is what Rabbi Elazar says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, for in that which they conspired [zadu] against them” (Exodus 18:11)? The phrase means: In the pot in which they cooked, they themselves were cooked, as they were punished through drowning, measure for measure, for drowning the Jewish babies. The Gemara asks: From where may it be inferred that this word zadu” is a term meaning a pot? The Gemara answers: As it is written: “And Jacob simmered a pot [vayyazed Ya’akov nazid]” (Genesis 25:29).

א"ר חייא בר אבא א"ר סימאי שלשה היו באותה עצה בלעם ואיוב ויתרו

Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba says that Rabbi Simai says: Three noteworthy people were consulted by Pharaoh in that counsel where Pharaoh questioned what should be done with the Jewish people. They were Balaam, and Job, and Yitro.

בלעם שיעץ נהרג איוב ששתק נידון ביסורין יתרו שברח זכו מבני בניו שישבו בלשכת הגזית שנאמר (דברי הימים א ב, נה) ומשפחות סופרים יושבי יעבץ תרעתים שמעתים סוכתים המה הקנים הבאים מחמת אבי בית רכב וכתיב (שופטים א, טז) ובני קיני חתן משה וגו'

Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Abba teaches what occurred to each of them: Balaam, who advised Pharaoh to kill all sons born to the Jewish people, was punished by being killed in the war with Midian (see Numbers 31:8). Job, who was silent and neither advised nor protested, was punished by suffering, as detailed in the eponymous book in the Bible. Yitro, who ran away as a sign of protest, merited that some of his children’s children sat in the Sanhedrin in the Chamber of Hewn Stone, as it is stated: “And the families of scribes who dwelt at Jabez, Tirathites, Shimeathites, and Sucathites, these were the Kenites who descended from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab” (I Chronicles 2:55). And it is written: “The children of the Kenite, Moses’ father-in-law” (Judges 1:16). This teaches that the Kenites, descendants of Yitro, the father-in-law of Moses, dwelt at Jabez [Yabetz], referring to the place where the Jewish people go for advice [eitza], i.e., the Chamber of Hewn Stone.

(שמות א, י) ונלחם בנו ועלה מן הארץ ועלינו מיבעי ליה א"ר אבא בר כהנא כאדם שמקלל את עצמו ותולה קללתו בחבירו

The verse states: “Come, let us deal wisely with him, lest he multiply, and it come to pass that when there befalls us any war, he will also join our enemies, and fight against us, and get him up out of the land” (Exodus 1:10). The Gemara comments: He should have said: And get us up, as Pharaoh’s fear was that the Jewish people would join the enemies of Egypt and drive Pharaoh and the Egyptians out of Egypt. Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says: By stating this, Pharaoh is like a person who curses himself but applies his curse to another.

(שמות א, יא) וישימו עליו שרי מסים עליהם מיבעי ליה תנא דבי ר' אלעזר בר' שמעון מלמד שהביאו מלבן ותלו לו לפרעה בצוארו וכל אחד ואחד מישראל שאמר להם איסטניס אני אמרו לו כלום איסטניס אתה יותר מפרעה

The next verse states: “Therefore they did set over him taskmasters in order to afflict him with their burdens” (Exodus 1:11). The Gemara comments: It should have stated: Over them, in the plural. The school of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon, taught: This teaches that at first they brought a brick mold and they hung it on the neck of Pharaoh to create the appearance that he was also participating in the labor. And with regard to each and every Jew who said to the Egyptians: I am a delicate person [istenis] and I cannot participate in the labor, they said to him: Are you at all more of a delicate person than Pharaoh, and he is participating. Therefore, the verse states: “They did set over him,” as they first placed the burden on Pharaoh as an artifice to enslave the Jewish people.

שרי מסים דבר שמשים (לבנים)

The term “Taskmasters [sarei missim]” is formed from the term: A matter that compels [shemesim] the manufacture of bricks, as the Jewish people were forced into labor when these taskmasters were assigned to them.

למען ענותו בסבלותם [ענותם מיבעי ליה] למען ענותו לפרעה בסבלותם דישראל

The verse continues: “In order to afflict him with their burdens” (Exodus1:11). The Gemara comments: It should have stated: “In order to afflict them,” in the plural. Rather, the intention is, as mentioned previously, in order to afflict Pharaoh, with the result of causing the burdens of the Jewish people.

ויבן ערי מסכנות לפרעה רב ושמואל חד אמר שמסכנות את בעליהן וח"א שממסכנות את בעליהן דאמר מר כל העוסק בבנין מתמסכן

The verse concludes: “And they built for Pharaoh storage cities [miskenot], Pithom and Raamses” (Exodus 1:11). Rav and Shmuel disagree as to the precise interpretation of the word miskanot. One says that they are called this because they were the type of structures that endanger [mesakenot] their owners, as it is dangerous to work in cities with tall buildings. And one says that they are called this because this is the type of property that impoverishes [memaskenot] their owners, as the Master said: All who engage in construction become poor.

(שמות א, יא) את פיתום ואת רעמסס רב ושמואל חד אמר פיתום שמה ולמה נקרא שמה רעמסס שראשון ראשון מתרוסס וחד אמר רעמסס שמה ולמה נקרא שמה פיתום שראשון ראשון פי תהום בולעו

The verse states that the names of the cities they built were “Pithom and Raamses” (Exodus 1:11). Rav and Shmuel disagree as to the precise interpretation of this verse, both assuming that only one city was built, which had primary and secondary names. One says that Pithom was its real name, and why was it called Raamses? It is an appellation indicating that as the buildings were constructed they collapsed [mitroses] one by one and needed to be rebuilt. And one says that Raamses was its real name, and why was it called Pithom? Because the opening of the abyss [pi tehom] swallowed each building they constructed one by one, and it sunk into the ground.

(שמות א, יב) וכאשר יענו אותו כן ירבה וכן יפרוץ כן רבו וכן פרצו מיבעי ליה אמר ר"ל רוח הקדש מבשרתן כן ירבה וכן יפרוץ (שמות א, יב) ויקוצו מפני בני ישראל מלמד שהיו דומין בעיניהם כקוצים

The next verse states: “But the more they afflicted him, the more he would multiply and the more he would spread about” (Exodus 1:12). The Gemara comments: It should have stated: The more they multiplied and the more they spread about, in the past tense. Reish Lakish says: Divine inspiration proclaimed to the Egyptians: As long as this nation is afflicted, the more he will multiply and the more he will spread about. As the verse states: “And they became disgusted [vayyakutzu] due to the children of Israel.” The Gemara explains: This teaches that the Jewish people appeared in their eyes like thorns [kotzim].

(שמות א, יב) ויעבידו מצרים את בני ישראל

The next verse states: “And the Egyptians made the children of Israel work