Selections from the Jewish Talmud:

On the Sabbatical Year


Text Source:


Chapter 1


[1.1] "How long do men plough in a field with trees on the eve of the Sabbatical year?"[1] The school of Shammai say, "so long as it is useful for the fruit;" but the school of Hillel say, "till Pentecost," and the words of the one are near to the words of the other.

[1.2] "What is a field with trees?" "Three trees to every fifty cubits square, if they be fit to produce a heap of figs worth sixty Italian minas;[2] on their account men can legally plough the earth for the whole fifty cubits square around them. Less than for these they may not legally plough, save the extent of the gatherer of fruit with his basket outward.

[1.3] "Whether they be fruitless or fruitful?" "Men may regard them as though they were fig-trees." "If they be to produce a heap of figs worth sixty Italian minas?" "On their account they may legally plough the whole fifty cubits square around them. Less than for these they may not plough, save what is absolutely needful."

[1.4] "One tree produced a heap of figs, and two trees did not produce it; or two trees produced it, and one did not produce it?" "Men may not plough save what is absolutely needful for them, till they be from three to nine in number." If they be ten?" "On their account men may legally plough around them the whole fifty cubits square; and also from ten trees and upward, whether they produce or do not produce it." As is said, "in earing-time and in harvest thou shalt rest."[3] There is no need to say earing-time and harvest the Sabbatical year, but earing-time on the eve of the Sabbatical year, when it is just entering on the Sabbatical year; and harvest of the Sabbatical year, which is proceeding toward the close of the Sabbatical year. Rabbi Ishmael said, "as the earing-time (mentioned Exod. 34:21) is voluntary, so the harvest is voluntary, except the harvest of the (omer) sheaf ."[4]

[1.5] "If the three trees belong to three owners?" "They are reckoned as one, and on their account they may legally plough the whole fifty cubits square around them." "And how much space must be between them?" Rabban Simon, the son Gamaliel, said, "that a bullock with his ploughing instruments may pass."

[1.6] "If there be ten saplings dispersed in the fifty cubits square?" "On their account men may plough the whole fifty cubits square around them till new year's day." "If they placed in a row, or rounded like a crown?" "Men may not plough save what is absolutely needful for them."

[1.7] The saplings and the gourds are reckoned alike in the fifty cubits square. Rabban Simon, the son of Gamaliel, said, "for every ten cucumbers in the fifty cubits square, men may plough the fifty cubits square around them till new year's day."

[1.8] "How long are they called saplings?" Rabbi Eleazar, the son of Azariah, said,[5] "till they can be used." R. Joshua said, "till the age of seven years." R. Akiba said, "a sapling, as commonly named." "A tree decays and sprouts afresh; when less than a handbreadth, it is a sapling; when more than a handbreadth, it is a tree." The words of Rabbi Simon.


Chapter 2


[2.1] "How long may men plough in a white[6] field on the eve of the Sabbatical year?" "Till the productiveness cease so long as men usually plough to plant cucumbers and gourds." Said R. Simon, "thou hast put the law in every man's hand. But men may plough in a grain field till the Passover, and in a field of trees till Pentecost."

[2.2] Men may dung and dig among cucumbers and gourds till new year's day, and they may also do so in a parched-up field. They may prune them, remove their leaves, cover them with earth, and fumigate them, till new year's day. R. Simon said, "one may even remove the leaf from the bunch of grapes in the Sabbatical year."

[2.3] Men may remove stones till new year's day. They may gather the ears, they may break off branches, they may cut off the withered part till new year's day. R. Joshua said, "as they may break off branches and cut off the withered part of the fifth year, so also they may do it in the sixth year." Rabbi Simon said, "every time I am permitted to work among the trees, I am permitted to cut off the withered part."

[2.4] Men may smear the saplings, and bind them, and cut them down, and make sheds for them, and water them, till new year's day. R. Eleazar, the son of Zadok, said, "one may even water the top of the branch in the Sabbatical year, but not the root."

[2.5] Men may anoint unripe fruits, and puncture[7] them, till new year's day. Unripe fruit of the eve of the Sabbatical year which is just entering on the Sabbatical year, and unripe fruit of the Sabbatical year which is proceeding to the close of the Sabbatical year, they may neither anoint nor puncture. Rabbi Jehudah said, "the place where it is customary to anoint them they may not anoint them, because that is work. The place where it is not customary to anoint them, they may anoint them." R. Simon "permitted it in trees because it is allowable in the usual culture of the trees."

[2.6] Men may not plant trees, make layers, or engraft them, on the eve of the Sabbatical year, less than thirty days before new year's day. And if one plant them, or make layers, or engraft them, they must be rooted out. Rabbi Judah said, "every graft which does not cohere in three days has no more cohesion." Rabbi Jose and R. Simon said "in two weeks."

[2.7] Rice, and millet, and poppy, and simsim,[8] which have taken root before new year's day, must be tithed for the past year, and are allowed for use in the Sabbatical year; otherwise they are forbidden in the Sabbatical year, and must pay tithes for the following year.

[2.8] R. Simon of Shezur said, "Egyptian beans which a sown at first for seed are reckoned like them." R. Simon said, "the large lentils are reckoned like them." R. Eliezer said, "the large lentils which put forth pods before new year's day are also reckoned like them."

[2.9] "Onions, not for seed, and Egyptian beans, from which water is withheld thirty days before new year's day, must pay tithes for the past year, and they are allowed for use in the Sabbatical year. Otherwise they are forbidden in the Sabbatical year, and must be tithed for the coming year, and so also (the produce) of a rain-field[9] from which the water of irrigation is withheld on two occasions." The words of R. Maier. But the Sages say "three."

[2.10] "The gourds which stand over for seed?" "If they dry up before new year's day and are unfit for human food, it is lawful to let them remain on the Sabbatical year. Otherwise it is forbidden to let them stand over on the Sabbatical year. Their buds are forbidden in the Sabbatical year. But they may be sprinkled with white dust."[10] The words of R. Simon. Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Jacob, "forbade them." Men may irrigate rice in the Sabbatical year. Rabbi Simon said, "but they must not cut its leaves."


Chapter 3


[3.1] "How long may men bring out dung to the heap?" "Till the time comes for stopping work." The words of R. Maier. R. Judah said, "till its fertility[11] dry out." R. Jose said, "till it hardens into a lump."

[3.2] "How much may men manure?" "As much as three times three heaps for fifty cubits square of ten times ten ass panniers, each containing a letech.[12] They may increase the panniers, but they must not increase the heaps." Rabbi Simon said, "also the heaps."

[3.3] A man may make for his field three times three heaps to the fifty cubits square. "For more than these he must excavate the earth." The words of R. Simon. But the Sages "forbid it, till he sink the heaps three handbreadths, or till he raise them three above the earth." A man may keep his manure in store. Rabbi Maier "forbade it till he sink it three handbreadths, or till he raise it three." If he have only a little, he may increase it and proceed in his work. Rabbi Eleazar, the son of Azariah, "forbade it till he sink the manure three handbreadths, or raise it three, or till he place it on a rock."

[3.4] "He who stables his cattle in his field?" "He may make a pen twice fifty cubits square. He may remove three sides and leave the middle one. It follows that he has a stable four times fifty cubits square." Rabbi Simon, the son of Gamaliel, said "eight times fifty cubits square." "If his whole field were four times fifty square cubits?" "He should leave a little space because of the observant eye, and he may remove the manure of his cattle from the pen and put it into the middle of his field, as men usually manure."

[3.5] A man may not open a quarry in the beginning of the Sabbatical year in his field, unless there be already in it three heaps of stones measuring three cubits by three cubits, and in height three cubits, counting twenty-seven stones in each heap.

[3.6] A fence composed of ten stones each, of weight sufficient for two men, may be removed. "If the fence measure ten handbreadths?" "Less than this he may clear off, but he must leave it a handbreadth high over the ground." These words only speak of his own field. But from his neighbor's field he may take away what he pleases. These words speak of the time when one did not begin the work on the eve of the Sabbatical year. "But if one begin on the eve of the Sabbatical year?" "He may take away what he pleases."

[3.7] Stones shaken by the plough, or those covered and afterward exposed, if there be among them two of a burden for two men, may be removed. He who removes stones from his field may remove the upper (ones),[13] but he must leave those touching the earth. And so also from a heap of rubbish, or a heap of stones, one may take away the upper part, but must leave that which touches[14] the earth. If there be beneath them a rock, or stubble, they may be removed.

[3.8] Men must not build terraces on the face of the hills on the eve of the Sabbatical year, when the rains have ceased, because that is preparation for the Sabbatical year. But one may build them in the Sabbatical year, when the rains have ceased, because that is preparation for the close of the Sabbatical year. And men must not strengthen them with mortar, but they may make a slight wall. Every stone which they can reach[15] with their hands and remove, they may remove.

[3.9] "Shoulder stones may come from every place, and the contractor may bring them from every place. And these are shoulder stones, every one which cannot be carried in one hand." The words of R. Maier. Rabbi Jose said, "shoulder stones, commonly so named, all that can be carried, two, three, upon the shoulder."

[3.10] He who builds a fence between his own and public property may sink it down to the rock. "What shall he do with the dust?" "He may heap it up on the public property, and benefit it." The words of R. Joshua. R. Akiba said, "as we have no right to injure public property, so we have no right to benefit it." "What shall he do with the dust?" "He may heap it up in his own field like manure, and so also when he digs a well, or a cistern, or a cave."


Chapter 4


[4.1] In olden times they used to say a man may gather wood, stones, and grass in his own (field), just as he may gather that which is greater out of his neighbor's field. When transgressors increased, a rule was made that this one should gather from that one, and that one from this one, without benefit; and it is unnecessary to say that one could not promise victuals to those who gathered.

[4.2] A field cleared of thorns may be sown in the close of the Sabbatical year. If it be tilled or manured by cattle, it must not be sown in the close of the Sabbatical year. "If a field be twice ploughed?[16] The school of Shammai say, "its fruit must not be eaten in the Sabbatical year." But the school of Hillel say, "it may be eaten." The school of Shammai say, "they must not eat its fruit on the Sabbatical year, if (the owner of it have) benefit therefrom." But the school of Hillel say, "men may eat it whether there be or be not benefit." R. Judah said, "the words are contrary; that which is permitted by the school of Shammai is restricted by the school of Hillel."

[4.3] Men may contract for cultivated fields from Gentiles on the Sabbatical year, but not from Israelites. And they may strengthen the hands of the Gentiles on the Sabbatical year, but not the hands of Israelites. And in saluting Gentiles they may ask after their peace for the sake of peace.[17]

[4.4] "If one thins olive trees?" The school of Shammai say, "only cut them down," and the school of Hillel say, "one may root them out"; but they both agree that for smoothing the earth the trees must be cut down. "What is meant by thinning?" "Removing one or two." "What is meant by smoothing the earth?" "Removing three trees each by the side of the other." "How is this understood?" "That one may root them out not only of his own field, but also when smoothing down the field of his neighbor."

[4.5] "He who cleaves olive trees must not fill in the vacuum with earth; but he may cover it over with stones or stubble. He who cuts down trunks of sycamore must not fill in the vacuum with earth, but he may cover it over with stones or stubble. Men must not cut down a young sycamore in the Sabbatical year, because that is labor. R. Judah said, "if as it is usually done it is forbidden: but one may allow it to be ten handbreadths high, or cut it just above the ground." "He who lops off vine tendrils, and cuts reeds?" R. Jose the Galilean said, "he must leave them an handbreadth high." Rabbi Akiba said, "he may cut them as it is usual with an axe, or sickle, or saw, or with whatever he pleases." "A tree that is split?" "Men may bind it round in the Sabbatical year, not that it may cohere, but that its fissure may not extend."

[4.7] "From what time may the fruits of trees in the Sabbatical year be eaten?" Unripe fruits, when they are becoming transparent, may be eaten with a piece of bread in the field. When they are mellow, they may be gathered into the house; and so also with all like them." During the remainder of the seven years their tithes must be paid.

[4.8] The sour grapes in which there is juice may be eaten with a piece of bread in the field. Before they rot they may be gathered into the house, and so also with all like them. During the remainder of the seven years their tithes must be paid.

[4.9] "Olives from which men have collected the fourth of a log[18] of oil to the seah?"[19] They may be crushed and eaten in the field." When men can collect from them half a log, they may be pounded and used for anointing in the field. When those have been collected which have attained a third of their size they may be pounded in the field, and gathered into the house, and so also with all like them. During the remainder of the seven years their tithes must be paid. But for the rest of all fruits of trees, as are their seasons for the laws of tithes, so are their seasons for the laws of the Sabbatical year.

[4.10] "From what time may men not cut trees in the Sabbatical year?" The school of Shammai say, "every tree when it shoots forth." The school of Hillel say, "the locust trees when they put forth their curling tendrils, and the vines when they form berries, and the olives when they flower. And the rest of the trees when they shoot forth." But it is permitted to cut all trees, when they come to the season, for tithes. "How much fruit should be in the olive tree to prevent its being cut down?" "A quarter cab." Rabban Gamaliel said, "the whole depends on the size."


Chapter 5


[5.1] The Sabbatical year of white figs[20] is the second after the Sabbatical year, because they produce in three years. Rabbi Judah said, "The Sabbatical year of the Persian figs is the close of the Sabbatical year, because they produce in two years." The Sages replied to him, "they only said white figs."

[5.2] "If one store eschalots in the Sabbatical year?" R. Maier said, "there must be not less than two seahs,[21] in height three handbreadths, and over them an handbreadth of dust." But the Sages say, "not less than four cabs, in height an handbreadth, and an handbreadth of dust over them, and they must be stored in a place where men tread."[22]

[5.3] "Eschalots over which the Sabbatical year has passed?" Rabbi Eleazar said, "if the poor have gathered the leaves they are theirs; but if not, the owner must reckon with the poor." R. Joshua said, "if the poor have gathered the leaves, they are theirs; but if not, the poor cannot reckon with the owner."

[5.4] "Eschalots of the eve of the Sabbatical year which have entered on the Sabbatical year, and summer onions, and also dye[23] plants of the best ground?" The school of Shammai say, "they are to be rooted out with wooden spades." But the school of Hillel say, "with metal axes." But they both agree with regard to dye plants on rocky ground, that they are to be rooted out with metal axes.

[5.5] "From what time is it allowed to buy eschalots on the departure of the Sabbatical year?" R. Judah said, "off hand"; but the Sages say, "when the new ones become plenty."

[5.6] These are the implements which the farmer is not permitted to sell in the Sabbatical year - the plough with all its implements, the yoke, the shovel, and the goad. But he may sell the hand-sickle, and the harvest-sickle, and the wagon, with all its implements. This is the rule: "all implements, the use of which may be misapplied for transgression, are forbidden; but if they be (partly for things) forbidden and (partly for things) allowed, they are permitted."

[5.7] The potter may sell five oil-jugs, and fifteen wine-jugs, because it is usual to collect fruits from the free property. And if one bring more than these, it is allowed, and he may sell them to idolaters in the lands and to Israelites out of the land.

[5.8] The school of Shammai say, "a man must not sell a ploughing heifer on the Sabbatical year "; but the school of Hillel allow it, "because the buyer may slaughter her." He may sell fruits in the time of sowing, and may lend another man his measure, even if he know that the other man have a threshing-floor, and he may change money for him, even if he know that he have laborers. But if it be openly declared, all is forbidden.

[5.9] A woman may lend to her companion on the Sabbatical year, even when she is suspicious, a flour-sieve or a grain-sieve, and a hand-mill and an oven; but she is neither to pick the wheat nor grind it with her. A woman of a special religious society may lend to the wife[24] of an ordinary man a flour-sieve, or a grain-sieve, and may pick wheat, or grind it, or sift it, with her. But when she (the wife of an ordinary man) pours in the water, she (a woman of a special religious society) must not touch the flour (to knead it) with her, lest she strengthen the hands of a transgressor. And all these things were not said save for the sake of peace. And we may strengthen the hands of idolaters in the Sabbatical year, but not the hands of Israel; and in salutation we may ask after their peace, for the sake of peace.


Chapter 6


[6.1] Three countries (are included) in the laws of the Sabbatical year. In all the possessions of those who returned from Babylon - from the (border) of the land of Israel and to Cezib,[25] we may not eat cultivated fruit, and we may not cultivate the ground. And in all the possessions of those who came up from Egypt from Cezib, and to the river of Egypt, and to the Amana,[26] we may eat cultivated fruits, but we may not cultivate the ground. From the river of Egypt, and from the Amana to the interior, we may eat the fruits and cultivate the ground.

[6.2] Men may labor in that which is separated from the ground in Syria, but not in that which is attached to the ground. They may thresh, and shovel, and tread out, and make sheaves, but they must not reap the grain nor glean the grapes, nor beat the olives. This is the rule; said Rabbi Akiba, "all things similar to that which is allowed in the land of Israel, men may do in Syria."

[6.3] "Onions upon which fell rain and they sprouted?" "If the leaves on them be dark, they are forbidden; if green, they are allowed." Rabbi Chanina, the son of Antigonus, said, "if they can be pulled up by their leaves they are forbidden; and contrariwise if it happened so in the close of the Sabbatical year, they are allowed."

[6.4] "From what time may men buy greens at the close of the Sabbatical year?" "From the time that similar young ones are produced. If the earlier ones are prematurely ripened, then the later ones are allowed." Rabbi[27] allowed greens to be bought off-hand at the close of the Sabbatical year.

[6.5] Men must not export oil[28] which is only to be burned, nor fruits of the Sabbatical year, from the land to lands abroad. Said Rabbi Simon, "I expressly heard that they may be exported to Syria, but that they must not be exported to lands abroad."

[6.6] Men must not import a heave-offering from abroad into the land. Said Rabbi Simon, "I expressly heard that they may import it from Syria, but that they must not import it from lands abroad."


Chapter 7


[7.1] The Sages stated an important rule: "In the Sabbatical year, everything eaten by man and eaten by beast, and a kind of dye-stuff, and whatever cannot remain in the ground, to them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their value the laws of the Sabbatical year apply. They are to be cleared off from being private property, and their price is to be cleared off from being private property."[29] "And which are these?" "The leaves of the deceitful scallion, and the leaves of mint, succory, and cresses, and the leek, and the milk-flower."[30] "And what is eaten by beasts?" "Thorns and thistles and a kind of dye-stuff, sprouts of indigo and madder. To them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their price the laws of the Sabbatical year apply. They are to be cleared off from being private property, and their price is to be cleared off from being private property."

[7.2] And again, the Sages stated another rule: "All which is not eaten by man nor eaten by beasts, and a kind of dyestuff, and whatever remains in the ground, to them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their price the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, but they are not to be cleared off from being private property, nor is their price to be cleared off from being private property." "And which are these?" "The root of the deceitful scallion, and the root of the mint, and scorpion grass,[31] and the bulbs of the milk-flower, and the spikenard, and a kind of dye-stuff, the dye-plant, and the wormwood, - to them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their price the laws of the Sabbatical year apply. They are not to be cleared off from being private property, nor is their price to be cleared off from being private property." Rabbi Maier said, "their prices are to be cleared off from being private property till New Year's Day." The Sages said to him, "if they are not to be cleared off from being private property, it is immaterial about their prices."

[7.3] "The peelings and flower of the pomegranate, the shells and kernels of nuts?" "To them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their prices the laws of the Sabbatical year apply." The dyer may dye for himself, but he must not dye for pay, because men must not trade in fruits of the Sabbatical year, nor in the first-born, nor in heave-offerings, nor in carcasses, nor in that which is torn, nor in abominations, nor in creeping things. And one must not buy greens of the field and sell them in the market. But one may gather them, and his son may sell them on his account. He may, however, buy for himself, and he is allowed to sell what is superfluous. "He bought a first-born animal for a feast for his son, or for a holiday, and has no need of it?" "He is allowed to sell it."

[7.4] "Hunters of wild animals - birds and fishes - who chanced to find sorts that are unclean?" "It is allowed to sell them." R. Judah said, "if a man become possessed of them in his ordinary way, he may buy and sell them, excepting that such shall not be his practice." But the Sages "disallow them."

[7.5] "The shoots of vines and of the locust-trees?" "To them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their prices the laws of the Sabbatical year apply." They are to be cleared off from being private property, and their prices are to be cleared off from being private property." The shoots of the oak, and the nuts,[32] and the blackberries?" "To them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their prices the laws of the Sabbatical year apply." They are not to be cleared off from being private property, and their prices are not to be cleared off from being private property. But their leaves must be cleared away to become public property, as they fall down from their stems."[33]

[7.6] "The rose and the carnation and the balsam and the chestnut?" "To them the laws of the Sabbatical year apply, and to their prices the laws of the Sabbatical year apply." R. Simon said, "there is no Sabbatical year for the balsam, because it has no fruit."

[7.7] "A new Sabbatical rose which one steeped in old oil?" "One may pick out the rose." "But an old rose in new oil?" "One is bound to clear it off from being private property." "New locust fruit which one steeped in old wine, and old (fruit) in new (wine)?" "Men are bound to clear them off from being private property." This is the rule: everything which produces taste one is bound to clear off from being private property, sorts that are different and sorts that are the same, however little they be. The laws of the Sabbatical year disallow however little of its own sort, and in different sorts that which produces taste.[34]


Chapter 8


[8.1] The Sages stated an important rule for the Sabbatical year: "Of all that is only fit for man's food a plaster may not be made for man, and it is needless to say for beast. And of all that is not fit for man's food a plaster may be made for man, but not for beast." And all that is not fit either for man's food or beast's food, if one consider it as food for man or food for beasts, the Sages impose on it the inconveniences of the laws relating to man and the inconveniences of the laws relating to beast. If one, however, consider it as wood, it is reckoned as wood; for example, the savory and the hyssop and the laurel.

[8.2] Produce of the Sabbatical year is given for food, for drink, and for anointing, to eat the thing which it is usual to eat, and to anoint with what it is usual to anoint with. One may not anoint with wine or vinegar. But one may anoint with oil. And so is it likewise with the heave-offering and second tithe. The laws of the Sabbatical year are more convenient for them, because it is permitted to light a candle made from them.

[8.3] Men must not sell the fruits of the Sabbatical year, neither by measure, nor by weight, nor by count. Neither may they sell figs by counting, nor greens by weight. The school of Shammai say, "nor in bunches." But the school of Hillel say, "that which it is usual to make in bunches in the house men may make in bunches in the market; for example, cresses and the milk-flower.''

[8.4] If one said to a laborer, "Here! take this aisar[35] and gather greens for me to-day?" "His hire is allowed." "Gather me for it greens to-day?" "His hire is forbidden." If one take from the baker a cake for a pundion[36] (saying), "when I will gather greens of the field I will bring them to you?" "It is allowed." "If one take bread from the baker in silence?" "He must not pay him from money of the Sabbatical year, because men must not pay a debt with money of the Sabbatical year."

[8.5] Men must not give money of the Sabbatical year to a well-digger, nor to a bath-keeper, nor to a barber, nor to a skipper, but one may give it to a well-digger for drink, and to all persons one may give a gratuitous present.

[8.6] Men may not dry figs of the Sabbatical year in the usual place, but one may dry them in a waste place. They must not tread grapes in a wine-press, but they may tread them in a kneading-trough. And they must not put olives into the oil-press with the stone over them, but they may pound them and put them into a small press. Rabbi Simon said, "one may also grind them in the house of the oil-press and put them into the small press."

[8.7] Men must not boil greens of the Sabbatical year in oil of the heave-offering, lest they take it for uses that are forbidden. R. Simon "allowed it." And the very last thing (in a series of exchanges) partakes of the laws of the Sabbatical year; but the fruit itself (first exchanged) is forbidden.

[8.8] Men must not buy servants, ground, or an unclean beast, with money of the Sabbatical year; but if they buy them, they must eat[37] as much as their value. They must not bring for an offering the two pigeons of one with an issue, or the two pigeons after childbirth bought with money of the Sabbatical year. And if they bring them, they must eat[37] as much as their value. They must not anoint vessels with oil of the Sabbatical year. But if they anoint them, they must eat[37] as much as their value.

[8.9] "A skin which one anointed with oil of the Sabbatical year?" Rabbi Eleazar said, "it must be burned." But the Sages say, "one must eat[37] as much as its value." The Sages said before Rabbi Akiba it was a saying of Rabbi Eleazar, "a skin smeared with oil of the Sabbatical year must be burned." He said to them, "Hush! I cannot tell you what Rabbi Eleazar said about it."

[8.10] And again, the Sages said in his presence, it was a saying of Rabbi Eleazar,[38] "he who eats the bread of Samaritans is as one who eats swine-flesh." He said to them, "Hush! I cannot tell you what Rabbi Eleazar said about it."

[8.11] "A bath which was heated with stubble or straw of the Sabbatical year?" "It is allowed to wash in it." "But if one confer honor (on the bath)?" "He should not wash in it."


Chapter 9


[9.1] The rue, and the sorrel with spreading leaves, and the wild savory, the coriander of the mountains, and the parsley of the marshes, and the rocket of the desert, are free from tithes; and they may be bought from all men in the Sabbatical year, because nothing like them is legally guarded. Rabbi Judah said, "the sprouts of the mustard are allowed, because transgressors are not suspected for taking them from a guarded place." Rabbi Simon said, "all vegetables that sprout again are allowed, excepting the sprouts of cabbage, because there is not their like among the greens of the field." But the Sages say, "whatever sprouts again is forbidden."

[9.2] There are three countries to be public property in the Sabbatical year: Judah and beyond Jordan and Galilee; and each is divided into three parts: Upper Galilee, Lower Galilee, and the Vale. From the village of Hananiah and upward, every part in which the sycamore tree does not grow is Upper Galilee. And from the village of Hananiah and lower down, where any sycamore tree grows, is Lower Galilee. And the neighborhood of Tiberias is the Vale. And in Judah, the mountains, the plain, and the vale, and the plain of Lydda is as the plain of the south. And its mountains are as the King's mountain.[39] From Bethhorn and to the sea is one province.

[9.3] "And wherefore did the Sages say three countries?" "That men might eat during the Sabbatical year in every one of them, till the last fruits be finished in it." R. Simon said, "they did not say three countries, they said only in Judah." And all the other countries are reckoned as the King's mountain; and all countries are reckoned the same for olives and dates.

[9.4] Men may eat so long as there is any fruit legally free, but they must not eat of that which is legally guarded. Rabbi Jose "allowed it, even when guarded." They may eat fruit so long as it is found in birds' nests, and such fruit as is twice produced in each year, but they must not eat of winter fruit. R. Judah "allowed it at all times, if it ripened before the summer ended."

[9.5] "If men pressed three sorts of fruit in one barrel?" R. Eliezer said, "they may eat of the first." R. Joshua said, "even of the last." Rabban Gamaliel said, "everything, the species of which is finished growing in the field, its species is to be removed from the barrel."[40] Rabbi Simon said, "all greens are reckoned as one. They are to be cleared away from the house." They may eat of the leeks till the teasels have ceased growing in the valley of Beth-Netopha.

[9.6] "He who gathers fresh herbs?" "He may use them till their sap dry out." "And he who binds the dry in bundles?" "He may use them till the second rain descends."[41] "The leaves of reeds and the leaves of vines?" "They may be used till they fall from their stems." "And he who binds the dry in bundles?" "He may use them till the second rain descends." Rabbi Akiba said, "they may be used by all persons till the second rain descends."

[9.7] "Like to this rule is his case who rented a house to his neighbor till the rains?" "This means till the second rain descends." "He who by his vow cannot get assistance from his neighbor till the rains?" "This means till the second rain descends." "When may the poor enter into the gardens?"[42] "When the second rain descends." "When may they use and burn the stubble and straw of the Sabbatical year?" "When the second rain descends."

[9.8] "A man had fruit of the Sabbatical year, and the time came for clearing it out from his house?" "He may divide to everyone victuals for three meals; and the poor may eat the fruit after the clearing of it out, but not the rich." The words of Rabbi Judah. Rabbi Jose said, "the poor and the rich are alike, they may eat it after it is cleared out."

[9.9] "A man had fruits of the Sabbatical year, whether they fell to him by inheritance, or were given to him by gift?" R. Eliezer said, "let them be given to those who may eat them." But the Sages say, "the transgressor must not profit, but let them be sold to those who may eat them, and let their price be divided to every man." "He who eats dough of the Sabbatical year before the heave-offering be separated from it?" "He is guilty of death."


Chapter 10


[10.1] The Sabbatical year releases[43] a loan, whether it be with or without a bill. The credit of a shop is not released. But if one made it as a loan, it is released. Rabbi Judah said, "all the first credit is released, the wages of an hireling is not released." "But if one made it as a loan?" "It is released." Rabbi Jose said, "every work which ceases on the Sabbatical year is released; but that which does not cease on the Sabbatical year is not released from payment."

[10.2] The butcher who slaughtered a heifer (at the end of the Sabbatical year), and divided her head (for sale on the first of the two feast days of the new year), remains a debtor; but if he did so in an intercalary month,[44] he is released (Deut. 15:1). But if it be not an intercalary month, he is not released. He who forced, or enticed, or uttered a slander, and every act of the tribunal, have no release. "He who lent on security, or delivered his bills to the tribunal?" "There is no release for him."

[10.3] The Defence[45] (for the poor) has no release. This is one of the things which the old Hillel ruled. When he saw that the people refrained from mutual loans, and transgressed what is written in the law, "Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart,"[46] etc., Hillel ruled the Defence.

[10.4] This is the substance of the Defence, "I hand over to you judges such and such men in such a place, that every debt which belongs to me I may collect, whenever I please." And the judges or witnesses sealed it below.

[10.5] The Defence written before the Sabbatical year is valid, but afterward it is disallowed. Bills written before the Sabbatical year are disallowed, but afterward they are valid. He who borrows from five persons must write a Defence for each of them. If five persons borrow from one, he writes but one Defence for all of them.

[10.6] Men must not write a Defence save only on ground. "If he have none?" "The lender may present him with however little from his own field." "If he had a field in pledge in a city?" "He may write on it the Defence." Rabbi Huzpith said, "a man may write it on the property of his wife; and for orphans on the property of their guardians."

[10.7] "Beehives?" R. Eliezer said, "they are as ground, and men may write on them a Defence, and they contract no legal uncleanness in their proper place, but he who takes honey out of them on the Sabbath is liable (for a sin-offering). The Sages, however, say they are not as ground, and men must not write on them a Defence, and they do contract legal defilement in their place, and he who takes honey out of them on the Sabbath is free."

[10.8] "He who paid his debt on the Sabbatical year?" "The lender must say to him, 'I release thee.'" "When he said it to him?" "Even so, he may receive it from him, as is said, and this is the manner of the release."[47] It is like the slayer who was banished to the city of refuge, and the men of the city wished to honor him. He must say to them, "I am a murderer." They say to him, "Even so." He may receive the honor from them, as is said, "and this is the case of the slayer."[48]

[10.9] "He who pays a debt in the Sabbatical year?" "The spirit of the Sages reposes on him."[49] "He who borrowed from a proselyte, when his children[50] became proselytes with him?" "He need not repay his children." "But if he repay them?" "The spirit of the Sages reposes on him." All movables become property by acquisition; but everyone who keeps his word, THE SPIRIT OF THE SAGES REPOSES ON HIM.


References


[1] It has been a subject of dispute when the Sabbatical year began - whether in Nisan or Tishri. The weight of evidence is, however, in favor of the civil New Year's Day, which fell in Tishri (September).

[2] An Italian mina perhaps; a denarius. If so, the heap would be worth about &1 17S. 6d.

[3] Exod. 34:21.

[4] Lev. 23:10. The omer or "wave sheaf" at the Passover, and the two wave loaves at Pentecost, were to be made from grain grown in the field during the Sabbatical year. It was also allowed to till sufficient land to pay taxes.

[5] Lev. 19:23-25.

[6] Grain or corn field.

[7] With a pointed instrument covered with oil.

[8] Linseed(?).

[9] Rain-field means a field irrigated with rain water.

[10] Some suppose the meaning to be, the permission to sprinkle with water a "white" or corn field in which the gourds are growing.

[11] The word translated "fertility" means literally "sweetness." Some apply these words to the dung out of which the moisture has "dried out," and it is then only reckoned as earth. Others apply them to the ground which has lost its fertility (sweetness) for want of rain (Job 21:33). The meaning is that no advantage must be gained from it in the approaching Sabbatical year.

[12] About thirty-six and one-half gallons.

[13] I.e., Stones lying on the top of other stones.

[14] The removal of stones "touching" the earth might loosen it, and become a kind of cultivation.

[15] I.e., From the outside of the boundary wall, as in like manner his ears of corn might be plucked. An answer to envious remarks that he was preparing for cultivation (Jer. Tal.).

[16] Twice ploughed implies the payment of tribute when the land was under foreign rule. Its cultivation was allowed for this purpose during the Sabbatical year. So long as a foe could be resisted, it was not cultivated (1 Macc. 6:49)

[17] Jeremiah 29:7

[18] A log held the contents of six eggshells.

[19] A seah held about the third of bushel.

[20] Literally, "daughters of the pit." "Adam's apples," (Jer. Tal.). Supposed to be the fruit which tempted Eve. The decision in the text assumes that the trees began to bud in the Sabbatical year, and that the fruit would not be ripe for three years.

[21] Twelve cabs.

[22] To prevent their growth.

[23] "Puah, for dyeing red" (?).

[24] This permission has reference to certain laws with regard to legal cleanness.

[25] Achzib; Ecdippa, near Acca.

[26] Some consider this to be the Abana: others read Amnum. and try to identify it with Mount Hor.

[27] Rabbi Judah the Holy, called only Rabbi by way of eminence.

[28] I.e., defiled oil of the heave offering, etc.

[29] I.e., They become common property, and are to be depastured by cattle (Lev. 25:7)

[30] Perhaps "the star of Bethlehem."

[31] A spiral grass growing on the palm tree. (?)

[32] Arabic, Fustuk. Pistachio nuts.

[33] See Chap. ix. 6.

[34] This refers to the examples already given of a rose in oil, or locust fruit in wine.

[35] Aisar, a coin worth 3.1 farthings.

[36] Pundion, a coin worth l.5d.

[37] Of the fruits of the Sabbatical year.

[38] There are various Rabbis of this name, spelled in different ways, mentioned in the Talmud.

[39] The king's mountain is perhaps Mount Ephraim, or the mountain range over the plain of Sharon. It is also suggested that it might have been the mountains round Kirjathjearim (Abu Goosh?). It contained Cephar Bish, Cephar Sheclaim, Cephar Dikraia, etc.

[40] Others read "and the decision is as his word."

[41] The second or the "latter " rain (Joel 2:23), called Malkosh, falls in spring chiefly during the months of March and April.

[42] Lev. 23:22; Deut. 24:19

[43] Deut. 15:1

[44] This decision supposes the case of the month Elul having thirty days, and the last day to be in the Sabbatical Year; consequently it would not be one of the two feast days of the new year, which it should have been if the month had been the usual lunar month.

[45] "The defence," called Pruzbul, was a legal document constituted to encourage loans to the poor, and to protect the interests of the lender.

[46] Deut. 15:9.

[47] Deut. 15:2.

[48] Deut. 14:4.

[49] I.e., They are well pleased with him.

[50] Money owing to Jewish proselytes was generally repaid, but it was not obligatory to pay it to their heirs, as the persons from whom the proselytes came were no longer in a religious sense their next of kin.

NOTE. - At the Feast of Tabernacles in the Sabbatical year, the following portions of Scripture were appointed to be read: Deut. 1:1-6; 6:4-8; 11:13-22; 14:22; 15:23; 17:14; 26:12-19; Deut. 27-28. These portions were read by the king or high priest from a wooden platform erected in the Temple. The king or the high priest usually read them sitting. King Agrippa, however, read them standing, and when he came to the words "Thou mayst not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother" (Deut. 17:15), "tears dropped from his eyes." The people then cried out to encourage him, "Thou art our brother - thou art our brother " (Sotah, vii. 8).


Copyright (c) 1997 by Bruce J. Butterfield

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