וכן מצינו בנחש הקדמוני שנתן עיניו במה שאינו ראוי לו מה שביקש לא נתנו לו ומה שבידו נטלוהו ממנו אמר הקב"ה אני אמרתי יהא מלך על כל בהמה וחיה ועכשיו (בראשית ג, יד) ארור הוא מכל הבהמה ומכל חית השדה And, so too, we found with regard to the primeval snake who seduced Eve, for he placed his eyes on that which was unfit for him, as he wanted to marry Eve. Consequently, that which he desired was not given to him, and that which was in his possession was taken from him. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: I initially said that the snake will be king over every domesticated animal and non-domesticated animal, but now he is cursed more than all the domesticated animals and all the non-domesticated animals of the field, as it is stated: “And the Lord God said unto the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed from among all cattle, and from among all beasts of the field; upon your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:14).
אני אמרתי יהלך בקומה זקופה עכשיו על גחונו ילך אני אמרתי יהא מאכלו מאכל אדם עכשיו עפר יאכל הוא אמר אהרוג את אדם ואשא את חוה עכשיו איבה אשית בינך ובין האשה ובין זרעך ובין זרעה The baraita explains the elements of this curse. I said that the snake will walk upright, but now he shall go on his belly; I said that his food will be the same as the food eaten by a person, but now he shall eat dust. The snake said: I will kill Adam and marry Eve, but now: “I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed” (Genesis 3:15).
וכן מצינו בקין וקרח ובלעם ודואג ואחיתופל וגחזי ואבשלום ואדוניהו ועוזיהו והמן שנתנו עיניהם במה שאינו ראוי להם מה שביקשו לא ניתן להם ומה שבידם נטלוהו מהם The baraita continues: And so we found with regard to Cain, who desired to inherit the whole world alone (see Genesis 4); and Korah, who desired the priesthood (see Numbers 16); and Balaam, who desired Balak’s money (see Numbers 22); and Doeg, who was jealous of David (see I Samuel 21–22); and Ahithophel, who was also jealous of David (see II Samuel 16); and Gehazi, who took Naaman’s money (see II Kings 5); and Absalom, who wanted the kingdom (see II Samuel 15); and Adonijah, who also wanted the kingdom (see I Kings 1); and Uzziah, who wanted to be the High Priest (see II Chronicles 26); and Haman, who wanted to kill all the Jews (see Esther 3:13). All of these were people who placed their eyes on that which is unfit for them, and consequently what they desired was not given to them, and what they had was taken from them.
בירך התחילה בעבירה וכו' מנא ה"מ אילימא משום דכתיב (במדבר ה, כא) בתת ה' את יריכך נופלת ואת בטנך צבה והכתיב (במדבר ה, כז) וצבתה בטנה ונפלה ירכה § The mishna teaches: She began her transgression with her thigh and afterward with her stomach, therefore the thigh is smitten first and then the stomach. The Gemara asks: From where are these matters derived, i.e., that this is the order of her punishment? If we say it is because it is written in the verse detailing the priest’s curse: “Then the priest shall cause the woman to swear with the oath of cursing, and the priest shall say unto the woman: The Lord make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the Lord does make your thigh to fall away, and your belly to swell” (Numbers 5:21), which indicates the sequence of her punishment; but isn’t the opposite written in the verse describing what actually occurs to a guilty sota: “And her belly shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away” (Numbers 5:27), indicating that the punishment begins with her stomach and then her thigh?
אמר אביי כי לייט לייט תחילה ירך והדר בטן לייט ומיא כי בדקי כי אורחייהו בדקי בטן ברישא והדר ירך בקללה נמי כתיב (במדבר ה, כב) לצבות בטן ולנפיל ירך ההוא דמודע לה כהן דבטן ברישא והדר ירך שלא להוציא לעז על מים המרים Abaye said in explanation: When the priest curses the woman, he first curses the thigh and then he curses the stomach, but when the bitter water evaluates her, it evaluates her along its way through the body. The water first enters the stomach and then reaches the thigh. The Gemara asks: But in the verse detailing the curse it is also written: “And this water that causes the curse shall go into your bowels, and will cause your belly to swell, and your thigh to fall away” (Numbers 5:22). The Gemara answers: That verse teaches that the priest notifies her that the stomach will be affected first and then the thigh, so that one not cast aspersions on the bitter water.
מתני׳ שמשון הלך אחר עיניו לפיכך נקרו פלשתים את עיניו שנאמר (שופטים טז, כא) ויאחזוהו פלשתים וינקרו את עיניו MISHNA: The mishna provides additional examples of people who were treated by Heaven commensurate with their actions. Samson followed his eyes, therefore he was punished measure for measure, as the Philistines gouged out his eyes, as it is stated: “And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes” (Judges 16:21).
אבשלום נתגאה בשערו לפיכך נתלה בשערו ולפי שבא על עשר פלגשי אביו לפיכך נתנו בו עשר לונביות שנאמר (שמואל ב יח, טו) ויסבו עשרה אנשים נושאי כלי יואב ולפי שגנב ג' גנבות לב אביו ולב ב"ד ולב ישראל (שנאמר (שמואל ב טו, ו) ויגנב אבשלום את לב אנשי ישראל) לפיכך נתקעו בו ג' שבטים שנאמר (שמואל ב יח, יד) ויקח שלשה שבטים בכפו ויתקעם בלב אבשלום Absalom was excessively proud of his hair, and therefore he was hanged by his hair. And furthermore, because he engaged in sexual intercourse with ten of his father’s concubines (see II Samuel 15:16 and 16:22), therefore ten spears [loneviyyot] were put, i.e., thrust, into him, as it is stated: “And ten young men that bore Joab’s armor compassed about and smote Absalom, and slew him” (II Samuel 18:15). And because he stole three times, committing three thefts of people’s hearts: The heart of his father, as he tricked him by saying that he was going to sacrifice offerings; the heart of the court, as he tricked them into following him; and the heart of the Jewish people, as it is stated: “So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel” (II Samuel 15:6), therefore three spears were embedded into his heart, as it is stated: “Then said Joab: I may not tarry like this with you. And he took three spears in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while he was yet alive” (II Samuel 18:14).
וכן לענין הטובה מרים המתינה למשה שעה אחת שנאמר (שמות ב, ד) ותתצב אחותו מרחוק לפיכך נתעכבו לה ישראל ז' ימים במדבר שנאמר (במדבר יב, טו) והעם לא נסע עד האסף מרים The mishna continues: And the same is so with regard to the reward of good deeds; a person is rewarded measure for measure. Miriam waited for the baby Moses for one hour at the shore of the Nile, as it is stated: “And his sister stood afar off, to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:4). Therefore the Jewish people delayed their travels in the desert for seven days to wait for her when she was smitten with leprosy, as it is stated: “And Miriam was confined outside of the camp seven days; and the people journeyed not until Miriam was brought in again” (Numbers 12:15).
יוסף זכה לקבור את אביו ואין באחיו גדול ממנו שנאמר (בראשית נ, ז) ויעל יוסף לקבור את אביו ויעלו עמו גם רכב גם פרשים מי לנו גדול מיוסף שלא נתעסק בו אלא משה Joseph merited to bury his father, resulting in a display of great honor to his father, and there was none among his brothers greater than he in importance, for he was viceroy of Egypt, as it is stated: “And Joseph went up to bury his father; and with him went up all the servants of Pharaoh, the Elders of his house, and all the Elders of the land of Egypt, and all the house of Joseph, and his brethren, and his father’s house; only their little ones, and their flocks, and their herds, they left in the land of Goshen. And there went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company” (Genesis 50:7–9). Who, to us, had a greater burial than Joseph, as it was none other than Moses who involved himself in transporting his coffin.
משה זכה בעצמות יוסף ואין בישראל גדול ממנו שנאמר (שמות יג, יט) ויקח משה את עצמות יוסף עמו מי גדול ממשה שלא נתעסק בו אלא המקום שנאמר (דברים לד, ו) ויקבור אותו בגיא לא על משה בלבד אמרו אלא על כל הצדיקים שנאמר (ישעיהו נח, ח) והלך לפניך צדקך כבוד ה' יאספך Moses merited to be the only person involved in the transportation of Joseph’s bones to be buried in Eretz Yisrael, and there was none among the Jewish people greater than he, as it is stated: “And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him” (Exodus 13:19). Who had a greater burial than Moses, as no one involved himself in his burial other than the Omnipresent Himself, as it is stated: “And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab over against Beth Peor; and no man knows of his sepulcher unto this day” (Deuteronomy 34:6). The mishna comments: Not only with regard to Moses did the Sages say that God takes part in his burial, but also with regard to all the righteous individuals, as it is stated: “Your righteousness shall go before you and the glory of the Lord shall gather you in” (Isaiah 58:8).
גמ׳ ת"ר שמשון בעיניו מרד שנאמר (שופטים יד, ג) ויאמר שמשון אל אביו אותה קח לי כי היא ישרה בעיני לפיכך נקרו פלשתים את עיניו שנאמר (שופטים טז, כא) ויאחזוהו פלשתים וינקרו את עיניו GEMARA: The Sages taught (Tosefta 3:15): Samson rebelled with his eyes, as it is stated: “Then his father and his mother said to him: Is there never a woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you go out to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said to his father: Get her for me; for she is pleasant in my eyes” (Judges 14:3). Therefore, the Philistines gouged out his eyes, as it is stated: “And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes” (Judges 16:21).
איני והכתיב (שופטים יד, ד) ואביו ואמו לא ידעו כי מה' היא כי אזל מיהא בתר ישרותיה אזל The Gemara asks: Is that so? But isn’t it written: “But his father and his mother knew not that it was from the Lord; as he sought a subterfuge against the Philistines” (Judges 14:4), indicating that Samson’s searching for a Philistine wife was due to a Divine mission? The Gemara answers: Although God did plan the punishment of the Philistines, in any event when he went, he followed his inclination and did not act for the sake of Heaven.
תניא רבי אומר תחילת קלקולו בעזה לפיכך לקה בעזה תחילת קלקולו בעזה דכתיב (שופטים טז, א) וילך שמשון עזתה וירא שם אשה זונה וגו' לפיכך לקה בעזה דכתיב (שופטים טז, כא)) ויורידו אותו עזתה It is taught in a baraita in the Tosefta (3:15): Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: His initial wrongdoing was in Gaza, and therefore he was smitten in Gaza. The Gemara explains: His initial wrongdoing was in Gaza, as it is written: “And Samson went to Gaza, and saw there a harlot, and went in unto her” (Judges 16:1). Therefore, he was smitten in Gaza, as it is written: “And the Philistines laid hold on him, and put out his eyes; and they brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with fetters of brass; and he did grind in the prison-house” (Judges 16:21).
והכתיב (שופטים יד, א) וירד שמשון תמנתה תחלת קלקולו מיהא בעזה היה The Gemara asks: But isn’t it written earlier: “And Samson went down to Timnah, and saw a woman in Timnah of the daughters of the Philistines” (Judges 14:1), indicating that his initial wrongdoing was in Timnah? The Gemara answers: In any event, his initial wrongdoing was in Gaza, for at least he had married the woman in Timnah; in Gaza, Samson never wed the woman but only engaged in sexual intercourse with her.
(שופטים טז, ד) ויהי אחרי כן ויאהב אשה בנחל שורק ושמה דלילה תניא רבי אומר אילמלא (לא) נקרא שמה דלילה ראויה היתה שתקרא דלילה דילדלה את כחו דילדלה את לבו דילדלה את מעשיו The Gemara continues its discussion of Samson. The verse states: “And it came to pass afterward, that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah” (Judges 16:4). It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: Even if she had not been called by the name Delilah, it would have been fitting that she be called Delilah, for she weakened [dildela] his strength, she weakened his heart, and she weakened his deeds, thereby decreasing his merits.
דילדלה את כחו דכתיב (שופטים טז, יט) ויסר כחו מעליו דילדלה את לבו דכתיב (שופטים טז, יח) ותרא דלילה כי הגיד לה את כל לבו דילדלה את מעשיו דאיסתלק שכינה מיניה דכתיב (שופטים טז, כ) והוא לא ידע כי ה' סר מעליו The Gemara explains: She weakened his strength, as it is written: “And she made him sleep upon her knees; and she called for a man and had the seven locks of his head shaved off; and she began to afflict him, and his strength went from him” (Judges 16:19). She weakened his heart, as it is written: “And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart, she sent and called for the lords of the Philistines, saying: Come up this once, for he has told me all his heart” (Judges 16:18). She weakened his deeds, thereby decreasing his merits, as the Divine Presence left him, as it is written: “And she said: The Philistines are upon you, Samson. And he awoke out of his sleep, and said: I will go out as at other times, and shake myself. But he knew not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judges 16:20).
ותרא דלילה כי הגיד לה את כל לבו מנא ידעה א"ר חנין א"ר ניכרין דברי אמת אביי אמר ידעה בו באותו צדיק דלא מפיק שם שמים לבטלה כיון דאמר (שופטים טז, יז) נזיר אלהים אני אמרה השתא ודאי קושטא קאמר The verse states: “And when Delilah saw that he had told her all his heart” (Judges 16:18). The Gemara asks: From where did she know that this time he had told her the truth about the source of his strength, as he had lied about it previously? Rabbi Ḥanin says that Rav says: Words of truth are recognizable, and she felt that this time he was telling the truth. Abaye says differently: She knew about Samson being a righteous individual, that he would not express the name of Heaven in vain. Once he said: “And he told her all his heart, and said to her: There has not come a razor upon my head; for I have been a nazirite unto God from my mother’s womb” (Judges 16:17), she said: Now he is certainly saying the truth.
(שופטים טז, טז) ויהי כי הציקה לו בדבריה כל הימים ותאלצהו מאי ותאלצהו אמר רבי יצחק דבי רבי אמי בשעת גמר ביאה נשמטה מתחתיו The verse states: “And it came to pass, when she pressed him daily with her words, and urged him, that his soul was vexed unto death” (Judges 16:16). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “and urged him”? How did she do so? Rabbi Yitzḥak of the school of Rabbi Ami says: At the moment immediately before his completion of the act of intercourse, she slipped away from beneath him. By doing this, she urged him to reveal his secret.
(שופטים יג, ד) ועתה השמרי נא ואל תשתי יין ושכר ואל תאכלי כל טמא מאי כל טמא ותו עד השתא דברים טמאים קאכלה א"ר יצחק דבי רבי אמי דברים האסורים בנזיר When the angel spoke to Samson’s mother, he said: “Now therefore beware, I pray of you, and drink no wine nor strong drink, and eat not any unclean thing” (Judges 13:4). The Gemara asks, what is the meaning of “any unclean thing”? That term usually means non-kosher foods, but obviously she would not eat them anyway. And what’s more, until now was she eating unclean things, that she should have to be warned not to continue doing so? Rabbi Yitzḥak of the school of Rabbi Ami says: The angel was not referring to foods that are actually unclean, but rather items that are forbidden to a nazirite.
(שופטים טו, יט) ויבקע אלהים את המכתש אשר בלחי א"ר יצחק דבי רבי אמי הוא איוה לדבר טמא לפיכך נתלו חייו בדבר טמא After Samson smote one thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey, he called the place Lehi, and God miraculously granted him to drink, as he was dying of thirst. The verse states: “But God cleaved the hollow place that is in Lehi, and out of there came water; and when he had drunk, his spirit came back, and he revived” (Judges 15:19). Rabbi Yitzḥak of the school of Rabbi Ami says: He desired something unclean, as he was driven by lust to Philistine women. Therefore, the saving of his life was dependent on something unclean, the jawbone of a donkey.
(שופטים יג, כה) ותחל רוח ה' וגו' א"ר חמא בר' חנינא חלתה נבואתו של יעקב אבינו דכתיב (בראשית מט, יז) יהי דן נחש עלי דרך The verse states with regard to Samson: “And the spirit of the Lord began [vataḥel] to move him in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol” (Judges 13:25). Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: The prophecy of Jacob our forefather concerning the tribe of Dan took effect [ḥaleta] through Samson, a member of the tribe of Dan, as it is written: “Dan shall be a serpent in the way, a horned snake in the path, that bites the horse’s heels, so that his rider falls backward” (Genesis 49:17).
לפעמו במחנה דן א"ר יצחק דבי רבי אמי מלמד שהיתה שכינה מקשקשת לפניו כזוג כתיב הכא לפעמו במחנה דן וכתיב התם (שמות כח, לד) פעמון ורימון The verse continues: “To move him [lefa’amo] in Mahaneh Dan.” Rabbi Yitzḥak of the school of Rabbi Ami says: This teaches that the Divine Presence jangled before him, inspiring him, like a bell [zog], as it is written here: “To move him [lefa’amo] in Mahaneh Dan,” and it is written there with regard to the clothing of the High Priest: “A bell [pa’amon] and a pomegranate” (Exodus 39:26).
בין צרעה ובין אשתאול אמר ר' אסי צרעה ואשתאול שני הרים גדולים היו ועקרן שמשון וטחנן זה בזה The verse concludes: “Between Zorah and Eshtaol.” Rabbi Asi says: Zorah and Eshtaol were two large mountains, and Samson uprooted them and ground them one against the other.
(שופטים יג, ה) והוא יחל להושיע את ישראל אמר רבי חמא ברבי חנינא Samson’s parents were told: “For behold, you shall conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come upon his head; for the child shall be a nazirite unto God from the womb; and he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the Philistines” (Judges 13:5). Rabbi Ḥama, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, says: