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Treatise XII. The Fathers Chapter V, The Talmud

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The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, [1878] 1. With ten expressions 1 the world was created. "But wherefore is this taught, since God could have created it with one expression?" "This is to punish the wicked, who destroy the world that was created with ten expressions, and to reward the righteous who establish the world created with ten expressions." 2. There were ten generations from Adam to Noah, to let us know that God is long-suffering, as all those generations provoked him before he brought the deluge upon them. There were ten generations from Noah to Abraham, to let us know that God is long-suffering, as all those generations provoked him, until Abraham our father came and took the reward of them all. 3. Our father Abraham was proved with ten trials, and in all of them he stood firm; to let us know how great was the love of our father Abraham to God. 4. Ten miracles were wrought for our fathers in Egypt, and ten at the Red Sea. Ten plagues did the blessed God send on the Egyptians in Egypt, and ten at the Red Sea. Ten times did our fathers tempt the blessed God in the wilderness, as is said, "And have tempted me now these ten times, and have not hearkened to my voice." 1 5. Ten miracles were wrought for our fathers in the holy temple, no woman miscarried from the scent of the flesh of the sacrifices; nor did the flesh of the sacrifices ever stink; nor was a fly seen in the slaughter house; nor did legal uncleanness happen to the high priest on the day of atonement; nor did the rain extinguish the fire of the wood arranged on the altar; nor did the wind prevent the straight ascension of the pillar of smoke; nor was any defect found in the omer, the two loaves, and the show-bread; and though the people stood close together, yet when they worshipped there was room enough for all; nor did a serpent or scorpion injure a person in Jerusalem; nor did a man say to his neighbour, I have not room to lodge in Jerusalem. 6. Ten things were created on the eve of the Sabbath in the twilight, and these are they,—the mouth of the earth; the mouth of the well; the mouth of the ass; the rainbow; the manna; the rod of Moses; the shameer; 2 the letters; writing; and the tables of stone. And some say also the demons; and the grave of our lawgiver Moses; and the ram of our father Abraham; and some say the tongs, the model of tongs. 7. Seven things are to be met with in a rude person, and seven in a wise man. The wise man will not speak before one who excels him in wisdom and years; nor will he interrupt his companion in his discourse; nor is he in haste to answer; he inquires according to the subject, and answers according to the decision; and he will answer the first proposition first, and the last proposition last; and what he has not heard he will acknowledge he has not heard it; and he confesses the truth. But the opposites of these are to be met with in a rude person. 8. Seven kinds of punishment are brought on the world for seven important sins; for when a part of the people give tithes and the others do not, a scarcity and a dearth ensue, so that some are filled and others suffer hunger; but when the whole agree not to give tithes, a famine of dearth and confusion ensues. If they offer not up the "cake," 1 confusion and fire ensue. Pestilence comes into the world for the commission of sins said to be punished with death in the law, but which are not recognised by our judges; and for not observing the law concerning the fruits of the Sabbatical year. The sword enters the world on account of the delay of justice and its perversion; and on account of those who explain the law contrary to its true sense. 9. Evil beasts come into the world on account of false swearing, and the profanation of God's name. Captivity enters the world on account of idolatry, immorality, bloodshed, and not suffering the land to rest on the Sabbatical year. At four seasons the pestilence is prevalent,—in the fourth year, the seventh, and the end of the seventh, and the end of the feast of tabernacles in every year. In the fourth year, for not giving the poor's tithe of the third year; in the seventh, for withholding the poor's tithe of the sixth year; and at the end of the seventh, on account of the fruits of the Sabbatical year; and at the end of the feast of tabernacles yearly, on account of robbing the poor of the gifts due to them. 10. There are four sorts of men:—He who says, that which is mine is mine, and that which is thine is thine, is a passable custom, and some say this was the custom of Sodom. He who says, what is thine is mine, and what is mine is thine, is the custom of the ignorant. He who says, what is mine is thine, and what is thine is also thine, is the custom of the pious. He who says, what is mine is mine, and what is thine is mine, is the custom of the wicked. 11. There are four sorts of passionate men:—He who is easily provoked and easily pacified loses more than he gains; he whom it is difficult to provoke and difficult to pacify gains more than he loses; he whom it is difficult to provoke and easy to pacify is pious; but he who is easily provoked and with difficulty pacified is wicked. 12. There are four sorts of disciples:—He who is quick to hear and quick to forget loses more than he gains; he who is slow to hear and slow to forget gains more than he loses; he who is quick to hear and slow to forget is wise; he who is slow to hear and quick to forget has an evil portion. 13. There are four sorts in those who bestow charity:—He who is willing to give but does not wish that others should give, has an envious eye towards others; he who likes to see others give but will not give, has an evil eye towards himself; he who is willing to give and that others should also give, acts piously; he who will not give and likes not that others should give, acts wickedly. 14. There are four sorts in those who go to college:—He who goes but does not study, has only the reward of going; he who studies and does not go, has the reward of action; he who goes and studies, is pious; he who neither goes nor studies, is wicked. 15. There are four sorts in those who sit before the Sages:—Those who act as a sponge, a funnel, a strainer, and a sieve; as a sponge which sucks up all, as a funnel which receives at one end and lets out at the other, as a strainer which lets the wine pass through, but retains the lees, and as a sieve which lets the bran pass through but retains the fine flour. 16. Every affection that depends on some carnal cause, if that cause ceases the affection ceases, but that which does not depend on such a cause will never cease. Where do we meet with an affection dependent on a carnal cause? Such was the love of Ammon to Tamar; but that which does not depend on such a cause was the love of David and Jonathan. 17. Every dispute that is carried on for God's sake, will in the end be established; but that which is not for God's sake, will not be established. "What may be considered a dispute for God's sake?" "Such as the disputes of Hillel and Shaminai; but that which was not for God's sake was the contention of Korah and all his company." 18. He who by his conduct justifies the public, no sin will be caused through his means, and whosoever causes the public to sin is not suffered to repent. Moses acted justly and caused the public to obtain merit: the merit of the public was attributed to him, as is said, "He executed the justice of the Lord and his judgments with Israel." 1 Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, sinned, and caused Israel to sin: the sin of the public was attributed to him, as is said, "Because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin." 2 19. He who possesses these three virtues is of the disciples of our father Abraham, and he who is possessed of the three opposites is of the disciples of the wicked Balaam. The disciples of our father Abraham possess a benevolent eye, an humble spirit, and a contented mind. The disciples of Balaam have an evil eye, a haughty spirit, and a narrow mind. "What is the difference between the disciples of our father Abraham and the disciples of the wicked Balaam?" "The disciples of our father Abraham eat of the fruit of their good works in this world, and inherit the future one, for it is said, 'That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures.' 3 But the disciples of the wicked Balaam inherit hell and descend to the pit of destruction, as is said, 'But Thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction; bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days, but I will trust in Thee.'" 4 20. Judah, son of Tamai, said, "be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a roe, and strong as a lion, to do the will of Thy Father, who is in heaven." He used to say, "the impudent are for hell and the modest for paradise. [paragraph continues] May it be acceptable in Thy presence, O Lord our God! that Thy city may speedily be rebuilt in our days, and let our portion be in Thy law." 21. He also said, "at five years of age a child should study the Bible; at ten he should study the Mishna; at thirteen he should observe the precepts; at fifteen he should study the Gemara; at eighteen he should get married; at twenty he should study the law; at thirty he is arrived at full strength; at forty he is arrived at understanding; at fifty he is able to give counsel; at sixty he is accounted aged; at seventy he is hoary; at eighty he may still be accounted strong; at ninety he is only fit for the pit 1; at a hundred he is as if already dead and forgotten from the world." 22. The son of Bagbag said, "ponder the law again and again, for all things are in it; contemplate it always, and depart not from it, for there is nothing to be preferred to it" 23. The son of Haha said, "the reward is proportioned to the labour." 231:1 The Rabbis reckon that the expression "God said" is used nine times in the first chapter of Genesis, and that the tenth expression is to be found in the first verse, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." 232:1 Numb. xiv. 22. 232:2 The shameer is the worm which knows how to hew stones; and helped Solomon to build the temple. 233:1 Numb. xv. 20. 235:1 Deut. xxxiii. 21. 235:2 1 Kings xiv. 16. 235:3 Prov. viii. 21. 235:4 Ps. iv. 23. 236:1 Or perhaps "for meditation."

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1 Ahmed M = "The name of God in Judaism used most often in the Hebrew Bible is also known as the Tetragrammaton."
2 Ahmed M = "The name of God should be treated with respect. God has many names."
3 Ahmed M = " God is an absolute one, indivisible and incomparable being."