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Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah proclaimed this anathema with the blast of three hundred trumpets:—"Whoever shall take drink from the hand of a bride, no matter whether she be the daughter of a disciple of the wise or the daughter of an Amhaaretz, it is all one as if he drunk it from the hand of a harlot." Again, it is said, "He who receives a cup from the hands of a bride and drinks it therefrom, has no portion whatever in the world to come."
There was a place for collecting the ashes in the middle of the altar, and there were at times in it nearly as much as three hundred cors (equal to about 2830 bushels) of ashes. On Rava remarking that this must be an exaggeration, Rav Ammi said the law, the prophets, and the sages are wont to use hyperbolical language. Thus the law speaks of "Cities great and walled up to heaven" (Deut. i. 28); the prophets speak of "the earth rent with the sound of them" (1 Kings i. 40); the sages speak as above and also as follows. There was a golden vine at the entrance of the Temple, trailing on crystals, on which devotees who could used to suspend offerings of fruit and grape clusters. "It happened once," said Rabbi Elazer ben Rabbi Zadoc, "that three hundred priests were counted off to clear the vine of the offerings."
Chullin, fol. 90, col. 2.
Three hundred priests were told off to draw the veil (of the Temple) aside; for it is taught that Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel declared in the name of Rabbi Shimon the Sagan (or high priest's substitute), that the thickness of the veil was a handbreadth. It was woven of seventy-two cords, and each cord consisted of twenty-four strands. It was forty cubits long and twenty wide. Eighty-two myriads of damsels worked at it, and two such veils were made every year. When it became soiled, it took three hundred priests to immerse and cleanse it.
When Moses was about to enter Paradise he turned to Joshua and said, "If any doubtful matters remain, ask me now and I will explain them." To this Joshua replied, "Have I ever left thy side for an hour and gone away to any other? Hast thou not thyself written concerning me (Exod. xxxiii. 11), 'His servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the Tabernacle?'" As a punishment for this pert reply, which must have distressed and confounded his master, Joshua's power of brain was immediately weakened, so that he forgot three hundred Halachahs, and seven hundred doubts sprang up to perplex him. All Israel then rose up to murder him, but the Holy One—blessed be He!—said unto him, "To teach thee the Halachahs and their explanation is impossible, but go and trouble them with work; as it is said (Josh. i. 1), 'Now after the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto Joshua,'" etc.
Temurah, fol. 16, col. 1.
In the future God will assign to each righteous man three hundred and ten worlds as an inheritance; for it is said (Prov. viii. 21), "That I may cause those that love me to inherit substance, and I will fill their treasures." By Gematria equals three hundred and ten.
Sanhedrin, fol. 100, col. 1, and Okitzin, chap. 3, mish. 12.
An old woman once complained before Rav Nachman that the Head of the Captivity and certain Rabbis with him were enjoying themselves in her booth, which they had surreptitiously taken possession of and would not surrender, but Rav Nachman gave no heed to her remonstrance. Then she raised her voice and cried aloud, "A woman whose father had three hundred and eighteen slaves is now pleading before you, and you paying no heed to her!" Upon which Rav Nachman turned to his associates and said, "She is a bawling woman, but she has no right to claim the booth, only the value of its timber."
Succah, fol. 31, col. 1.
Elijah the Tishbite once said to Rav Yehudah, the brother of Rav Salla the Holy, "You ask why the Messiah does not come, even though it is just now the Day of Atonement." "And what," asked the Rabbi, "does the Holy One—blessed be He!—say to that?" "He says, 'Sin lieth at the door'" (Gen. iv. 7). "And what has Satan to say?" "He has no permission to accuse any one on the Day of Atonement." "How do we know this?" Ramma bar Chamma replied, "Satan by Gematria equals three hundred and sixty-four, therefore on that number of days only has he permission to accuse; but on the Day of Atonement (i.e., the 365th day) he cannot accuse."
Yoma, fol. 20, col. 1.
Rav Yitzchak said, "What is the meaning of that which is written (Ps. cxl. 8), 'Grant not, O Lord, the desires of the wicked; further not his wicked device, lest they exalt themselves. Selah?'" It is the prayer of Jacob to the Lord of the universe that He would not grant to Esau, "the wicked, the desires of his heart." "Further not his wicked device," this refers to Germamia of Edom (i.e., Rome), for if they (the Romans) were suffered to go forward they would destroy the whole world! Rav Chama bar Chanena said, "There are three hundred crowned heads in Germamia of Edom, and there are three hundred and sixty-five dukes in Babylon. These encounter each other daily, and one of them commits murder, and they strive to set up a king."
Meggillah, fol. 6, col. 2.
In the great city (of Rome) there were three hundred and sixty-five streets, and in each street there were three hundred and sixty-five palaces, and in every one of these there were three hundred and sixty-five steps, each of which palaces contained sufficient store to maintain the whole world.
P'sachim, fol. 118, col. 2.
There are three hundred and sixty-five negative precepts.
There were three hundred and ninety-four courts of law in Jerusalem, and as many synagogues; also the same number of high schools, colleges, and academies, and as many offices for public notaries.
Kethuboth, fol. 105, col. 1.
Rav Hunna had four hundred casks of wine which had turned into vinegar. On hearing of his misfortune, Rav Yehudah, the brother of Rav Salla the Holy, or, as some say, Rav Adda bar Ahavah, came and visited him, accompanied by the Rabbis. "Let the master," said they, "examine himself carefully." "What!" said he, "do you suppose me to have been guilty of wrong-doing?" "Shall we then," said they, "suspect the Holy One—blessed be He!—of executing judgment without justice?" "Well," said Rav Hunna, "if you have heard anything against me, don't conceal it." "It has been reported to us," said they, "that the master has withheld the gardener's share of the prunings." "What else, pray, did he leave me?" retorted Rav Hunna; "he has stolen all the produce of my vineyard." They replied, "There is a saying that whoever steals from a thief smells of theft." "Then," said he, "I hereby promise to give him his share." Thereupon, according to some, the vinegar turned to wine again; and, according to others, the price of vinegar rose to the price of wine.
Berachoth, fol. 5, col. 2.
Rav Adda bar Ahavah once saw a Gentile woman in the market-place wearing a red head-dress, and supposing that she was a daughter of Israel, he impatiently tore it off her head. For this outrage he was fined a fine of four hundred zouzim. He asked the woman what her name was, and she replied, "My name is Mathan." "Methun, Methun," he wittily rejoined, "is worth four hundred zouzim."
Ibid., fol. 20, col. 1.
Note: Methun means patience and Mathan two hundred. The point lies either in the application of the term Methun, which means patience, as if to say, had he been so patient as to have first ascertained what the woman was, he would have saved his four hundred zouzim; or in the identity of the sound Mathan, i.e., two hundred, which doubled, equals four hundred. This has long since passed into a proverb, and expresses the value of patience.
Note: From the foregoing extract it would seem that it was not the fashion among Jewish females to wear head-dresses of a red color, as it was presumed to indicate a certain lightness on the part of the wearer; so Rav Adda in his pious zeal thought he was doing a good work in tearing it off from the head of the supposed Jewess. "Patience, patience is worth four hundred zouzim."
Note: Custom among the Jews had then, as now, the force of religion. The Talmud says, "A man should never deviate from a settled custom. Moses ascended on high and did not eat bread (for there it is not the custom); angels came down to earth and did eat bread (for here it is the custom so to do)." Bava Metzia, fol. 86, col. 2.
Note: In the olden time it was not the fashion for a Jew to wear black shoes (Taanith, fol. 22, col. 1). Even now, in Poland, a pious Jew, or a Chasid, would on no account wear polished boots or a short coat, or neglect to wear a girdle. He would at once lose caste and be subjected to persecution, direct or indirect, were he to depart from a custom. Custom is law, is an oft-quoted Jewish proverb, one among the most familiar of their household words, as "Custom is a tyrant," is among ours. Another saying we have is, "Custom is the plague of wise men, but is the idol of fools."
The following anecdotes are related by way of practically illustrating Ps. ii. 11, "Rejoice with trembling." Mar, the son of Ravina, made a grand marriage-feast for his son, and when the Rabbis were at the height of their merriment on the occasion, he brought in a very costly cup, worth four hundred zouzim, and broke it before them, and this occasioned them sorrow and trembling. Rav Ashi made a grand marriage-feast for his son, and when he noticed the Rabbis in high jubilation, he brought in a costly cup of white glass and broke it before them, and this made them sorrowful. The Rabbis challenged Rav Hamnunah on the wedding of his son Ravina, saying, "Give us a song, sir," and he sung, "Woe be to us, for we must die! Woe be to us, for we must die!" "And what shall we sing?" they asked in chorus by way of response. He replied, "Sing ye, 'Alas! where is the law we have studied? where the good works we have done? that they may protect us from the punishment of hell!'" Rabbi Yochanan, in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai, says, "It is unlawful for a man to fill his mouth with laughter in this world, for it is said in Ps. cxxvi., 'Then (but not now) will our mouth be filled with laughter,'" etc. It is related of Resh Lakish that he never once laughed again all the rest of his life from the time that he heard this from Rabbi Yochanan, his teacher.
Berachoth, fol. 30, col. 2, and fol. 31, col. 1.
A man once laid a wager with another that he would put Hillel out of temper. If he succeeded he was to receive, but if he failed he was to forfeit, four hundred zouzim. It was close upon Sabbath-eve, and Hillel was washing himself, when the man passed by his door, shouting, "Where is Hillel? where is Hillel?" Hillel wrapped his mantle round him and sallied forth to see what the man wanted. "I want to ask thee a question," was the reply. "Ask on, my son," said Hillel. Whereupon the man said, "I want to know why the Babylonians have such round heads?" "A very important question, my son," said Hillel; "the reason is because their midwives are not clever." The man went away, but after an hour he returned, calling out as before, "Where is Hillel? where is Hillel?" Hillel again threw on his mantle and went out, meekly asking, "What now, my son?" "I want to know," said he, "why the people of Tadmor are weak-eyed?" Hillel replied, "This is an important question, my son, and the reason is this, they live in a sandy country." Away went the man, but in another hour's time he returned as before, crying out, "Where is Hillel? where is Hillel?" Out came Hillel again, as gentle as ever, blandly requesting to know what more he wanted. "I have a question to ask," said the man. "Ask on, my son," said Hillel. "Well, why have the Africans such broad feet?" said he. "Because they live in a marshy land," said Hillel. "I have many more questions to ask," said the man, "but I am afraid that I shall only try thy patience and make thee angry." Hillel, drawing his mantle around him, sat down and bade the man ask all the questions he wished. "Art thou Hillel," said he, "whom they call a prince in Israel?" "Yes," was the reply. "Well," said the other, "I pray there may not be many more in Israel like thee!" "Why," said Hillel, "how is that?" "Because," said the man, "I have betted four hundred zouzim that I could put thee out of temper, and I have lost them all through thee." "Be warned for the future," said Hillel; "better it is that thou shouldst lose four hundred zouzim, and four hundred more after them, than it should be said of Hillel he lost his temper!"
Shabbath, fol. 31, col. 1.
Rabbi Perida had a pupil to whom he had to rehearse a lesson four hundred times before the latter comprehended it. One day the Rabbi was hurriedly called away to perform some charitable act, but before he went he repeated the lesson in hand the usual four hundred times, but this time his pupil failed to learn it. "What is the reason, my son," said he to his dull pupil, "that this time my repetitions have been thrown away?" "Because, master," naively replied the youth, "my mind was so pre-occupied with the summons you received to discharge another duty." "Well, then," said the Rabbi to his pupil, "let us begin again." And he repeated the lesson a second four hundred times.
Eiruvin, fol. 54, col. 2.
Between Azel and Azel (1 Chron. viii. 38 and ix. 44), there are four hundred camel-loads of critical researches due to the presence of manifold contradictions.
Psachim. fol. 62, col. 2.
Egypt has an area of four hundred square miles.
Ibid., fol. 94, col. 1.
The Targum of the Pentateuch was executed by Onkelos the proselyte at the dictation of Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua, and the Targum of the prophets was executed by Jonathan ben Uzziel at the dictation of Haggai, Zachariah, and Malachi (!), at which time the land of Israel was convulsed over an area of four hundred square miles.
Meggillah, fol. 3, col. 1.
Mar Ukva was in the habit of sending on the Day of Atonement four hundred zouzim to a poor neighbor of his. Once he sent the money by his own son, who returned bringing it back with him, remarking, "There is no need to bestow charity upon a man who, as I myself have seen, is able to indulge himself in expensive old wine." "Well," said his father, "since he is so dainty in his taste, he must have seen better days. I will therefore double the amount for the future." And this accordingly he at once remitted to him.
Kethuboth, fol. 67, col. 2.
"And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, ... ye shall carry up my bones from hence" (Gen. l. 25). Rabbi Chanena said, "There is a reason for this oath. As Joseph knew that he was perfectly righteous, why then, if the dead are to rise in other countries as well as in the land of Israel, did he trouble his brethren to carry his bones four hundred miles?" The reply is, "He feared lest, if buried in Egypt, he might have to worm his way through subterranean passages from his grave into the land of Israel."
Ibid., fol. 11, col. 1.
Note: To this day among the Polish Jews the dead are provided for their long subterranean journey with little wooden forks, with which, at the sound of the great trumpet, they are to dig and burrow their way from where they happen to be buried till they arrive in Palestine. To avoid this inconvenience there are some among them who, on the approach of old age, migrate to the Holy Land, that their bones may rest there against the morning of the resurrection.
Rav Cahana was once selling ladies' baskets when he was exposed to the trial of a sinful temptation. He pleaded with his tempter to let him off and he promised to return, but instead of doing so he went up to the roof of the house and threw himself down headlong. Before he reached the ground, however, Elijah came and caught him, and reproached him, as he caught him up, with having brought him a distance of four hundred miles to save him from an act of willful self-destruction. The Rabbi told him that it was his poverty which had given to the temptation the power of seduction. Thereupon Elijah gave him a vessel full of gold denarii and departed.
Kiddushin, fol. 40, col. 1.
"Pashur, the son of Immer the priest" (Jer. xx. 1) had four hundred servants, and every one of them rose to the rank of the priesthood. One consequence was that an insolent priest hardly ever appeared in Israel but his genealogy could be traced to this base-born, low-bred ancestry. Rabbi Elazar said, "If thou seest an impudent priest, do not think evil of him, for it is said (Hos, iv. 4), 'Thy people are as they that strive with the priest.'"
Ibid., fol. 70, col. 2.
David had four hundred young men, handsome in appearance and with their hair cut close upon their foreheads, but with long flowing curls behind, who used to ride in chariots of gold at the head of the army. These were men of power (men of the fist, in the original), the mighty men of the house of David, who went about to strike terror into the world.
Kiddushin, fol. 76, col. 2.
Four hundred boys and as many girls were once kidnapped and torn from their relations. When they learned the purpose of their capture, they all exclaimed, "Better drown ourselves in the sea; then shall we have an inheritance in the world to come." The eldest then explained to them the text (Ps. lxviii. 22), "The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan; I will bring again from the depths of the sea." "From Bashan," i.e., from the teeth of the lion; "from the depths of the sea," i.e., those that drown themselves in the sea. When the girls heard this explanation they at once jumped all together into the sea, and the boys with alacrity followed their example. It is with reference to these that Scripture says (Ps. xliv. 22), "For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are counted as sheep for the slaughter."
Gittin, fol. 57, col. 2.
There were four hundred synagogues in the city of Byther, in each there were four hundred elementary teachers, and each had four hundred pupils. When the enemy entered the city they pierced him with their pointers; but when at last the enemy overpowered them, he wrapped them in their books and then set fire to them; and this is what is written (Lam. iii. 51), "Mine eye affecteth my heart because of all the daughters of my city."
Ibid., fol. 58, col 1.
Note: The total population of Byther must have been something enormous when the children in it amounted to 64,000,000! The elementary teachers alone came to 160,000.
Once when the Hasmonean kings were engaged in civil war it happened that Hyrcanus was outside Jerusalem and Aristobulus within. Every day the besieged let down a box containing gold denarii, and received in return lambs for the daily sacrifices. There chanced to be an old man in the city who was familiar with the wisdom of the Greeks, "page204" id= and he hinted to the besiegers in the Greek language that so long as the Temple services were kept up the city could not be taken. The next day accordingly, when the money had been let down, they sent back a pig in return. When about half-way up the animal pushed with its feet against the stones of the wall, and thereupon an earthquake was felt throughout the land of Israel to the extent of four hundred miles. At that time it was the saying arose, "Cursed be he that rears swine, and he who shall teach his son the wisdom of the Greeks." (See Matt. viii. 30.)
Soteh, fol. 49, col. 2.
If one strikes his neighbor with his fist, he must pay him one sela; if he slaps his face, he is to pay two hundred zouzim; but for a back-handed slap the assailant is to pay four hundred zouzim. If he pulls the ear of another, or plucks his hair, or spits upon him, or pulls off his mantle, or tears a woman's head-dress off in the street, in each of these cases he is fined four hundred zouzim.
Bava Kama, fol. 90, col. 1.
There was once a dispute between Rabbi Eliezer and the Mishnic sages as to whether a baking-oven, constructed from certain materials and of a particular shape, was clean or unclean. The former decided that it was clean, but the latter were of a contrary opinion. Having replied to all the objections the sages had brought against his decision, and finding that they still refused to acquiesce, the Rabbi turned to them and said, "If the Halacha (the law) is according to my decision, let this carob-tree attest." Whereupon the carob-tree rooted itself up and transplanted itself to a distance of one hundred, some say four hundred, yards from the spot. But the sages demurred and said, "We cannot admit the evidence of a carob-tree." "Well, then," said Rabbi Eliezer, "let this running brook be a proof;" and the brook at once reversed its natural course and flowed back. The sages refused to admit this proof also. "Then let the walls of the college bear witness that the law is according to my decision;" upon which the walls began to bend, and were about to fall, when Rabbi Joshuah interposed and rebuked them, saying, "If the disciples of the sages wrangle with each other in the Halacha, what is that to you? Be ye quiet!" Therefore, out of respect to Rabbi Joshuah, they did not fall, and out of respect to Rabbi Eliezer they did not resume their former upright position, but remained toppling, which they continue to do to this day. Then said Rabbi Eliezer to the sages, "Let Heaven itself testify that the Halacha is according to my judgment." And a Bath Kol or voice from heaven was heard, saying, "What have ye to do with Rabbi Eliezer? for the Halacha is on every point according to his decision!" Rabbi Joshuah then stood up and proved from Scripture that even a voice from heaven was not to be regarded, "For Thou, O God, didst long ago write down in the law which Thou gavest on Sinai (Exod. xxiii. 2), 'Thou shalt follow the multitude.'" (See context.) We have it on the testimony of Elijah the prophet, given to Rabbi Nathan, on an oath, that it was with reference to this dispute about the oven God himself confessed and said, "My children have vanquished me! My children have vanquished me!"
Bava Metzia fol. 59, col. 1.
Note: In the sequel to the above we are told that all the legal documents of Rabbi Eliezer containing his decisions respecting things "clean" were publicly burned with fire, and he himself excommunicated. In consequence of this the whole world was smitten with blight, a third in the olives, a third in the barley, and a third in the wheat; and the Rabbi himself, though excommunicated, continued to be held in the highest regard in Israel.
The Rabbis said to Rabbi Hamnuna, "Rav Ami has written or copied four hundred copies of the law." He replied to them, "Perhaps only (Deut. xxxiii. 4) 'Moses commanded us a law.'" (He meant he did not imagine that any one man could possibly write out four hundred complete copies of the Pentateuch.)
Bava Bathra, fol. 14, col. 1.
Rabbi Chanena said, "If four hundred years after the destruction of the Temple one offers thee a field worth a thousand denarii for one denarius, don't buy it."
Avodah Zarah, fol. 9, col. 2.
We know by tradition that the treatise "Avodah Zarah," which our father Abraham possessed, contained four hundred chapters, but the treatise as we now have it contains only five.
Avodah Zarah, fol. 14, col. 2.
The camp of Sennacherib was four hundred miles in length.
Sanhedrin, fol. 95, col. 2.
"Curse ye Meroz," etc. (Judges v. 23). Barak excommunicated Meroz at the blast of four hundred trumpets (lit. horns or cornets).
Shevuoth, fol. 36, col. 1.
What is the meaning where it is written (Ps. x. 27), "The fear of the Lord prolongeth days, but the years of the wicked shall be shortened;" "The fear of the Lord prolongeth days" alludes to the four hundred and ten years the first Temple stood, during which period the succession of high priests numbered only eighteen. But "the years of the wicked shall be shortened" is illustrated by the fact that during the four hundred and twenty years that the second Temple stood the succession of high priests numbered more than three hundred. If we deduct the forty years during which Shimon the Righteous held office, and the eighty of Rabbi Yochanan, and the ten of Rabbi Ishmael ben Rabbi, it is evident that not one of the remaining high priests lived to hold office for a whole year.
Yoma, fol. 9, col. 1.
"The souls which they had gotten in Haran" (Gen. xii. 5). From this time to the giving of the law was four hundred and forty-eight years.
Avodah Zarah, fol. 9, col. 1.
A young girl and ten of her maid-servants were once kidnapped, when a certain Gentile bought them and brought them to his house. One day he gave a pitcher to the child and bade her fetch him water, but one of her servants took the pitcher from her, intending to go instead. The master, observing this, asked the maid why she did so. The servant replied, "By the life of thy head, my lord, I am one of no less than five hundred servants of this child's mother." The master was so touched that he granted them all their freedom.
Avoth d'Rab. Nathan, chap. 17.
Cæsar once said to Rabbi Yoshua ben Chananja, "This God of yours is compared to a lion, as it is written (Amos iii. 8), 'The lion hath roared, who will not fear?' Wherein consists his excellency? A horseman kills a lion." The Rabbi replied, "He is not compared to an ordinary lion, but to a lion of the forest Ilaei." "Show me that lion at once," said the Emperor. "But thou canst not behold him," said the Rabbi. Still the Emperor insisted on seeing the lion; so the Rabbi prayed to God to help him in his perplexity. His prayer was heard; the lion came forth from his lair and roared, upon which, though it was four hundred miles away, all the walls of Rome trembled and fell to the ground. Approaching three hundred miles nearer, he roared again, and this time the teeth of the people dropped out of their mouths and the Emperor fell from his throne quaking. "Alas! Rabbi, pray to thy God that He order the lion back to his abode in the forest."
Chullin, fol. 59, col. 2.
Note: All this is as nothing compared to the voice of Judah, which made all Egypt quake and tremble, and Pharaoh fall from his throne headlong, etc., etc. See Jasher, chap. 64, verses 46, 47.
The distance from the earth to the firmament is five hundred years' journey, and so it is from each successive firmament to the next, throughout the series of the seven heavens.
P'sachim, fol. 94, col. 2.
"Now, as I beheld the living creatures, behold, one wheel upon the earth by the living creatures" (Ezek. i. 15). Rabbi Elazar says it was an angel who stood upon the earth, and his head reached to the living creatures. It is recorded in a Mishna that his name is Sandalphon, who towers above his fellow-angels to a height of five hundred years' journey; he stands behind the chariot and binds crowns on the head of his Creator.
Chaggigah, fol. 13, col. 2.
Note: In the Liturgy for the Feast of Tabernacles it is said that Sandalphon gathers in his hands the prayers of Israel, and, forming a wreath of them, he adjures it to ascend as an orb for the head of the supreme King of kings.
The mount of the Temple was five hundred yards square.
Middoth, chap. 2.
One Scripture text (1 Chron. xxi. 25) says, "So David gave to Ornan for the place six hundred shekels of gold by weight." And another Scripture (2 Sam. xxiv. 24) says, "So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver." How is this? David took from each tribe fifty shekels, and they made together the total six hundred, i.e., he took silver to the value of fifty shekels of gold.
Zevachim, fol. 116, col. 2.
Rabbi Samlai explains that six hundred and thirteen commandments were communicated to Moses; three hundred and sixty-five negative, according to the number of days in the year, and two hundred and forty-eight positive, according to the number of members in the human body. Rav Hamnunah asked what was the Scripture proof for this. The reply was (Deut. xxxiii. 4), "Moses commanded us a law" (Torah), which by Gematria answers to six hundred and eleven. "I am," and "Thou shalt have no other," which we heard from the Almighty Himself, together make up six hundred and thirteen.
Maccoth, fol. 23, col. 2.
Note: David, we are told, reduced these commandments here reckoned at six hundred and thirteen, to eleven, and Isaiah still further to six, and then afterward to two. "Thus saith the Eternal, Observe justice and act righteously, for my salvation is near." Finally came Habakkuk, and he reduced the number to one all-comprehensive precept (chap. ii. 4), "The just shall live by faith." (See Maccoth, fol. 24, col. 1.)
The precept concerning fringes is as weighty as all the other precepts put together; for it is written, says Rashi (Num. xv. 39), "And remember all the commandments of the Lord." Now the numerical value of the word "fringes" is six hundred, and this with eight threads and five knots makes six hundred and thirteen.
Shevuoth, fol. 29, col. 1.
"For behold, the Lord, the Lord of hosts, doth take away from Jerusalem and from Judah the stay and the staff, the whole stay of bread and the whole stay of water, the mighty man and the man of war, the judge and the prophet," etc. (Isa. iii. 1, 2). By "the stay" is meant men mighty in the Scriptures, and by "the staff" men learned in the Mishna; such, for instance, as Rabbi Yehudah ben Tima and his associates. Rav Pappa and the Rabbis differed as to the Mishna; the former said there were six hundred orders of the Mishna, and the latter that there were seven hundred orders. "The whole stay of bread" means men distinguished in the Talmud; for it is said, "Come, eat of my bread, and drink of the wine which I have mingled" (Prov. ix. 5). And "the whole stay of water" means men skillful in the Haggadoth, who draw out the heart of man like water by means of a pretty story or legend, etc.
Chaggigah, fol. 14, col. 1.
There are seven hundred species of fish, eight hundred of locusts, twenty-four of birds that are unclean, while the species of birds that are clean cannot be numbered.
Chullin, fol. 63, col. 2.
"The same was Adino the Eznite," etc. (2 Sam. xxiii. 8). This mighty man when studying the law was as pliant as a worm; but when engaged in war he was as firm and unyielding as a tree; and when he discharged an arrow he killed eight hundred men at one shot.
Moed Katon, fol. 16, col. 2.
"Ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land" (Deut. iv. 26). The term soon uttered by the Lord of the Universe means eight hundred and fifty-two years.
Sanhedrin, fol. 38, col. 1.
There are nine hundred and three sorts of deaths in the world; for the expression occurs (Ps. lxviii. 20), "Issues of death." The numerical value of "issues" is nine hundred and three. The hardest of all deaths is by quinsy, and the easiest is the Divine kiss (of which Moses, Aaron, and Miriam died). Quinsy is like the forcible extraction of prickly thorns from wool, or like a thick rope drawn through a small aperture; the kiss referred to is like the extracting of a hair from milk.
Berachoth, fol. 8, col. 1.
When Moses went up on high, the ministering angels asked, "What has one born of a woman to do among us?" "He has come to receive the law," was the Divine answer. "What!" they remonstrated again, "that cherished treasure which has lain with Thee for nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created, art Thou about to bestow it upon flesh and blood? What is mortal man that Thou art mindful of him, and the son of earth that Thou thus visitest him? O Lord! our Lord! is not Thy name already sufficiently exalted in the earth? Confer Thy glory upon the heavens" (Ps. viii. 4, 6). The Holy One—blessed be He!—then called upon Moses to refute the objection of the envious angels. "I fear," pleaded he, "lest they consume me with the fiery breath of their mouth." Thereupon, by way of protection, he was bid approach and lay hold of the throne of God; as it is said (Job xxvi. 9), "He lays hold of the face of His throne and spreads His cloud over him." Thus encouraged, Moses went over the Decalogue, and demanded of the angels whether they had suffered an Egyptian bondage and dwelt among idolatrous nations, so as to require the first commandment; or were they so hardworked as to need a day of rest, etc., etc. Then the angels at once confessed that they were wrong in seeking to withhold the law from Israel, and they then repeated the words, "O Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth!" (Ps. viii. 9), omitting the words, "Confer Thy glory upon the heavens." And not only so, but they positively befriended Moses, and each of them revealed to him some useful secret; as it is said (Ps. lxviii. 18), "Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast captured spoil, thou hast received gifts; because they have contemptuously called thee man."
Shabbath, fol. 88, col. 2.
Nine hundred and seventy-four generations before the world was created the law was written and deposited in the bosom of the Holy One—blessed be He!—and sang praises with the ministering angels.
Avoth d'Rab. Nathan, chap. 31.
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