JESUS CHRIST IN THE
                  TALMUD, MIDRASH,
                    AND THE ZOHAR

                                                          BY GUSTAV


      Our aim in this treatise is not to wound the Jews, or to supply their
enemies with a weapon. Rather it is to make good , as far as we may, the
faults which the "censorship" of earlier times has committed with regard to
the Talmud. This censorship was guided by the principal that everything
which appeared hostile to Christianity had to be expunged from literature.
How very different was the view of the Church teacher, Origen. He wrote,
regarding the slanderous writings of the pagan Celsus, "Our Savior held his
peace, when he was charged before the heathen governor. He believed that
the holiness and innocence of his walk would vindicate him more forcibly
than scorn, however eloquently phrased. Let us also in this matter tread in
the steps of Jesus. We are abused, reviled, slandered, accused, persecuted,
slain. Let us with our Redeemer keep silence, and oppose our enemies with
nothing save our piety, our love, our meekness, our humility. Piety speaks
without words more eloquently and powerfully than the most elaborate
      Did the burning of the Talmud and such other violent measures effect
what the Church desired, that is, to diminish the hatred of the Jews for
Christ, or make them more friendly towards Christianity? The result was the
opposite of what was intended. The passages erased from the Talmud
became as a result so much dearer to the Jews. Such material was then all
the more accentuated, and it furnished fresh nutriment to the existing
hatred against the Christians, inasmuch as some might say, "These are
important passages from our Talmud, of which the gentiles have desired to
rob us."
       Against such a policy of destruction a protest must be made in the
name of history. It is thoroughly objectionable, that an ancient literary work
should be arbitrarily mutilated by after ages. And what a misdemeanor
towards history it is, to forcibly suppress historical facts! What the Talmud
contains concerning our Lord, even though it be for the most part a
distortion or even a purely imaginary picture, yet history is all the same, a
history, that is to say, of Jewish ideas concerning a Person of transcendent
       Jesus is a name which has no parallel. No one passes him by with
indifference. And the question which stirs all the world, What think ye of
Christ? experiences from none a more significant answer than from the
people of the Promise. In unbelief, as in belief, the Jews are the leaders of
mankind. And therefore it is that we also read in the gospels, with an
interest different than if the case concerned the pagans, how the Jews dealt
with Christ. With precisely the same interest we must read the Jewish
traditions about Jesus in the Talmud.
       But then, although we might have cherised the expectation of finding in
the huge Talmud, containing, as it does, religious discussions of every kind,
the Person and acts of Christ very expressly and frequently debated--the
astonishing fact confronts us, that Jesus is very seldom spoken of, and but
little is known of him.The Talmud speaks of Jesus but sparingly. It seems
inexplicable that the scribes, who in Jesus' lifetime busied themselves with
him day and night, whose disposition in the Talmud is still the same one of
hostility, have become comparatively so silent, and that too in spite of the
fact that Christianity was advancing with such rapid strides.
       But in the first place, it must be borne in mind that the growth of the
Church was ever, so to speak, developing itself less under the eyes of the
Jews, and more at a distance from them. It was not where the Jews dwelt
and the Academies existed, viz. in Palestine and Babylon, that the Gospel
had extended itself, as a tree embracing all the world within its shade, but
like the sun and the history of the nations of the world it made its way to the
west, where by its gentle power it gained one victory after another. It is
conceivable that when the occasion arose for combating an enemy is lacking,
he may not be particularly frequently spoken of. Only once there arose an
embittered strife against the Christians, namely in the time of Bar Kochba,
the false messiah, and of Rabbi Akiva, his prophet, who was a fierce enemy
of Jesus. But otherwise there was peace, and so they             might easily,
absorbed in the study of the Law ,and disturbed therein by no Christian,
have altogether ignored Jesus, if it were not that He was just a Person whom
the Jew cannot in the long run pass by, without crucifying Him, or
else--worshipping Him. As long as the earth remains, Jesus will never be
forgotten by the Jews.
        But what could the Jews know about Jesus? The writings of the
Christians, in which there stood much concerning him, were burnt rather
than read; and oral teachings were just as little sought at the hands of
Christians. What therefore out of the whole rich history of Jesus could
remain over, except certain main features, which had already become
indistinct, when a Rabbi gave them stereotyped expression, and which, in
later time, were still less understood? Or, prompted by such traditions,
people yielded to the impulse to complete them, or even delivered
themselves altogether to poetic fancy, which of course introduced no
historical features, but yet did introduce such as fitted well into the picture
which they had formed of Jesus. But, as has been said, while on the side of
Christianity, no considerable inducement was given to the Jews to call Jesus
to mind, so the really vigorous current of Jewish life failed to concern itself
much about him.
      How totally different was the middle ages! In that period, the time of
the Jewish persecutions, the hatred of Jesus, which was never quite
dormant, reached its full expression, and begot a literature in comparison
with which the Talmud must be termed almost innocent. Then there was
found in the very name of Jesus the treatment he deserved, viz. to be
blotted out ["Yeshu", making an acronym for "May his name and memory be
blotted out"], and in the Toledoth Yeshu there was put together a detailed
picture of the life of Jesus, of which the authors of the Talmud had no

   Our examination of the sayings in the Talmud falls into three main
divisions: the first, and at the same time the most comprehensive, is
concerned with the designations of Jesus and his origin; the second deals
with Jesus' works; the third with his death.

                     DESIGNATIONS OF JESUS
                         AND HIS ORIGINS

Ben Stada or Ben Pandera?

        Jesus is commonly referred to in the Talmud and in Talmudic
literature by the expressions "Son of Stada (Satda)", and "Son of Pandera"
These are so accepted that they appear constantly in the Babylonian Talmud
(cp. the Targum Sheni on Esther VII 9) even without the name Jesus. It
might seem to be a question as to who it is that is to be understood by
these. But in the Jerusalem Talmud (Avodah Zarah II. 40d), the full name is
given as Yeshu ben Pandera (for which Shabbath XIV 14d has more briefly,
Yeshu Pandera); and in the Tosephta on Hullin II, the full name is given as
Yeshu ben Pantera and Yeshu ben Pantere. So then Ben Pandera or ben
Pantere also bears the name Yeshu.
       Further, the Jesus the Nazarene who is "hanged on the evening before
Passover" (Sanhedrin 43a) is on the other hand (Sanhedrin 67a) also called
the "son of Stada (Satda)". It is evident that in both these places the same
person is spoken of. Here these two           passages may be considered
conclusive, since they repeat each other using the similar language, and in a
section of the text which is chiefly concerned about Jesus; and so we see
that Jesus was also referred to as Ben Stada.
         How indiscriminate was the use of the two titles Ben Stada (Satda)
and Ben Pandera, and not only so, but also how little clearness there was
with regard to them is shown by two remarkable and almost verbally
identical passages, Shabbath 104b and Sanhedrin 67a, the former of which
we present here in a literal translation:

             The son of Stada was the son of Pandera. Rab Chisda
     said, The husband was Stada, the lover, Pandera. (Another
     said), The husband was Paphos ben Yehudah; Stada was his
     mother; (or), his mother was Miriam, the women's hairdresser;
     as they would say at Pumbeditha, 'Stath da' (i.e., 'she was
     unfaithful' ) to her husband.

  In more intelligible language, with the needful additions, which are so
constantly lacking in the Talmud by reason of conciseness, the passage runs

           He was not the son of Stada, but he was the son of
     Pandera. Rab Chisda said, The husband of Jesus' mother was
     Stada, but her lover was Pandera. Another said, Her husband
     was surely Paphos ben Yehuda; on the contrary, Stada was his
     mother; or, according to others, his mother was Miriam, the
     women's hairdresser. The rejoinder is, Quite so, but Stada is her
     nickname, as it is said at Pumbeditha, Stath da (she proved
     faithless) to her husband.
       The passage, noteworthy from every point of view, dates from the end
of the third or the beginning of the fourth century after Christ. For R. Chisda
(died A.D. 309) belongs to the third generation of Amoraim [later rabbinical
sages] and lived at Sura, the Babylonian Academy founded by Rab.
[So-called because he was the greatest of all teachers of his period. He was
a Babylonian, and presided at Sura for twenty-four years, dying A.D. 243.
Pumbeditha was about seven miles north of Sura; the Academy there was
established later than the one at Sura, though it eventually became more
influential.] At this late date accordingly the question was asked, which of
the two familiar designations (son of Stada, son of Pandera) was the correct
one? It was natural that this question should at some time emerge. One of
the two appellations appeared to be necessarily false. Which was correct?
       The subject treated in the preceding text was that Ben Stada had
brought charms with him out of Egypt in an incision in his flesh. Thereupon
someone objects, "The designation Ben Stada is false; he was the son of
Pandera." Whereupon the opinion of Rab Chisda is at once provided: "No,
both names are easily possible. You know at any rate that Jesus was
illegitimate. Consequently the one name is that of his legal father, and the
other that of his natural father; and indeed I give as my decision that Stada
was the husband of the mother of Jesus, while Pandera on the other hand
was the name of her lover. Therefore it is right to call him either a son of
Stada or a son of Pandera."
       But then a different tradition is quoted. "The husband of the mother of
Jesus was surely Paphos ben Yehuda. Stada on the other hand is not a
man's name at all, but refers to Jesus' mother." This does not deal with the
name Pandera, but grants Rabbi Chisda's view, that Pandera was the lover
of Jesus' mother.
     Then someone else disagrees, and says, "But it is admitted, that the
mother of Jesus was Miriam, the women's hairdresser." The answer to this
is, "We are aware of that. But she is also called Stada, as a nickname,.
Because she had a lover and bore him Jesus, she was given the nickname
Stada, from the two words, Stath da, i.e. 'she has been unfaithful' to her
husband. This is the way 'Stada' is explained in the Academy at
         From these passages two things are clear: first, that at that time
Jesus was in truth still a most weighty name; but secondly, that there was
very seldom among the Jews any discussion as to the circumstances of his
life, so that when any question was raised as to those circumstances, great
uncertainty, coupled with complete ignorance, was shown. This would have
been impossible, if at that time there had still been any contact between
Jews and Christians. But both parties, as we clearly see, had long since had
done with one another.
       1. Let us begin with the derivation of the name Stada. This word,
unused elsewhere, is only intelligible through the explanation which the
Talmud itself gives: "she proved faithless". But how did the Jews come to
give Mary such an awkward nickname, especially since they had a more
familiar word, Sota (which is even used as the name of a tractate in the
       Furst's view is that "Mary was so-named in reference to Numbers 5:19
[where the priest questions a woman accused of adultery to see if she has
'strayed' ('sateet') from her husband] since, as the Talmud itself explains,
people pointed their finger at her, saying "She has proved unfaithful to her
husband". From this we should have to imagine that as often as Mary
showed herself in the street, those who met her aimed at her the words
'stath da'. For the logic of Jewish unbelief would reason: since God has no
son, while Jesus, as the Christians themselves admit, is not Joseph's son, it
follows that he is born of Mary out of wedlock.
      Mary is said to have died (Nicerphorus Callistus, "Hist. Eccl." II 3) at
the age of 59, in the fifth year of the Emperor Claudius--certainly enough
time to allow for her experiencing in abundance the hate and insult which
will have poured itself out in stinging speeches, to the effect that her son is
a bastard and she is an adulteress. But was such hate likely to have found
expression only in such a formula as 'stath da'? And it is still more difficult to
see how this outcry should have later become a proper name, so that they
no longer called her Miriam, but Stada, while nevertheless the name Miriam
itself was still in the memory at such a late period. Moreover we cannot
claim that Mary may have actually had both names, and been called Mary
Stada. For it is just this kind of name, formed from the scoffing of the
people, which usually will entirely supplant a real name (which was not the
case here).
      Accordingly it is more likely that the nickname from the first was not
Stada (Satda), but Ben Stada (Ben Satda). And it is the fact that we always
find these two words taken together, never Stada (Satda) alone. Thus it is
a mockery of Jesus (not Mary), which has not replaced the name Jesus,
simply for two reasons: that Jesus can never be forgotten or effaced from
the Jewish consciousness; and because the designation "son of so and so"
very naturally requires a preceding name.
       A particular type of nickname consists of caricature names. Such
nicknames usually derive from an actual name, to which by shifting or
altering certain letters a new and odious meaning may be given, though the
sound is but little affected. Cassel has in a clever way attempted to explain
the expression Ben Stada as a comic form of Ben Stara. We will first present
his explanation, and then provide an expanded explanation of our own. And
while proof to a certainty may never be found about this issue, we can
nevertheless picture that things may have happened in this way.
        In Kiddushin 70a, it is related that once a man asked for meat at the
butcher's shop and received the answer, "Wait till the servant of Rabbi
Yehudah bar Y'cheskel is served first." So the man answered, "Who is this
Yehudah bar Shwiskel, who can go before me?" 'Shwiskel' is a comic form of
'Ycheskel', and means, "devourer or roast meat". Such nicknames are
abundantly found in the Talmud, rich as it is in witticisms.
       In Avodah Zarah 46a, there is even given the rule for changing by
caricature the names of idols and their temples into obnoxious names. For
example, instead of "beth galya" ("abode of brightness") we are to say "beth
karya" ("abode of pigs"). In Shabbath 116a, Rabbi Meir calls the
"evangelium" ("message of salvation") as "aven-gillayon" ("mischievous
writing"), Rabbi Yochanan calls it "avon-gillayon" ("sinful writing") , and note
that such writings are not to be saved from burning.        The notorious false
messiah Bar Kochba ("son of a star") was named after his overthrow Bar
Kozba ("son of lies").
      We pause beside Bar Kochba; he will build us the bridge we need to the
son of Stada. Why did that pseudo-messiah call himself son of a star? Plainly
in order to designate himself as the messiah, supported by Numbers 24:17,
"A star will rise out of Jacob". This passage must at that time have been
generally considered messianic, and as such must have been held in high
authority. A century earlier Herod had caused a medal to be struck, on which
a star stands above a helmet [or an incense burner], having, according to
Cassel, a reference to Numbers 24:17. Perhaps many of his actions were
perceived as being in accord with this passage. For example, he had smitten
the Arabs, who dwelt in Edom; he ruled over Moab; and he had success
against Cleopatra ("children of Sheth", which perhaps might refer to Egypt,
"Sethos", or "Sothis").
      Also the Targums [Aramaic paraphrases] made by Onkelos and of
Pseduo-Jonathan, and the Jerusalem Talmud (in Taanith IV 8), and the
Midrash Rabba on Deuteronomy I, and the Midrash on Lamentations II 2,
refer this passage to the messiah.
      To this evidence of how the passage was understood, we may add even
one more example, which we consider the most weighty. When the Magi
came from the east, they said, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews? For
we have seen his star, and are come to worship him."           If they had only
said, "Where is the newborn king of the Jews?", they would have been
counted as fools. But that they added the reason, "Because we have seen
his star"--this stirred men's minds to the highest pitch. That his star had
appeared was the best proof of title for the newborn king; and this is seen
from the fact that these words of the Magi were what lay at the root of
Herod's alarm. (How utterly absent were all scruples from the mind of Herod
is shown by the death of the infants at Bethlehem.)
      Doubtless from this period and onwards the memory of this star
continued vividly present in the minds of the Christians, insomuch as they
recognized in it the literal fulfillment of a prophecy, and it must have been
often offered as a proof. When Bar Kochba appeared and claimed to be the
messiah, they would likely have contrasted him with their messiah, Jesus.
While Rabbi Akiva exclaimed with passionate fervor, "Bar Kochba is king
messiah!", the Christians assuredly conceded the claim to the name "son of
a star" only to Jesus ; and on this account (their refusal to recognize him as
messiah) Bar Kochba, as Justin Martyr notes, inflicted upon the Christians
severe tortures and punishments.
      From this it is very easily conceivable that Rabbi Akiva was simply met
by the Christians with the refusal, "You are mistaken. Jesus of Nazareth and
no other is the true son of a star"; and that Rabbi Akiva (or someone
similar) at this time simply altered the Ben Stara of the Christians into a Ben
Stada, the son of a star being turned into the son of a harlot. For we shall
later find that Rabbi Akiva again is eager to insult Jesus on this same matter.
(The use of the word stara by the Christians could have derived from either
the Greek or the Persian word for 'star'.)
      Another possible explanation for the origin of the nickname Ben Stada
deserves mention. In the Jerusalem Talmud (Sanhedrin VII 25d) it is written
Ben Sotda (with a long 'o' after the 'S'). Might not this be a parody on 'Soter'
(the Greek word for 'Savior') ? The expression, 'mother of the Savior" ("of
the 'sotera' ") might easily have suggested 'sota' (harlot), and therefore the
parody 'sotda' was close at hand. Naturally the 'mother' had to be changed
to 'son' ('ben'). And after the origin of the parody had been forgotten, there
might easily have arisen, through Aramaic pronunciation, the word 'satda'
from 'sotda'.
        From the passage in Sanhedrin 104b, to which we now revert, we feel
fully justified in saying that the Jews for along time knew absolutely nothing
with certainty about Ben Stada. Moreover, what is more natural than that
the origin of the name, which derives from a chance witticism, was soon
forgotten. The more generally the two nicknames (Ben Stada and Ben
Pandera) came to be adopted, the more it was forgotten that they were
nicknames, and with utter lapse of memory, they were taken up quite
literally, as meaning, son of some real person who was named Stada or

      2. There is yet another remark in this passage (Sanhedrin 104b)
which needs explanation. That is the remark about Miriam being "a women's
hairdresser". How came the Talmud to bestow this comparatively mild term
upon the mother of Jesus, for whom elsewhere it uses the characteristic
designation of adulteress?
      Among the women who stood near to Jesus, Mary Magdalene claims
first mention. That Jesus' mother was named Mary was known; that she
had borne Jesus out of wedlock, was maintained. That there was a
prominent Christian woman of Jesus' time, who was named Mary of
Magdala, was also noted. What more natural, then, than for these two
Marys to be combined in their minds into one? Mary of Magdala was reputed
to be a great sinner. This harmonized with their own view; and so Mary of
Magdala was accordingly the mother of Jesus. And in their further
confusion, Mary of Magdala was transmuted into Mary "m'gaddela nashaya"
; and so instead of Mary the woman of Magdala, she becomes Mary the
"dresser of women's hair".

       3. There are still two names in our passage which need explanation:
Paphos ben Yehuda and Pandera. "Stada's (i.e., Mary's) lawful husband was
Paphos ben Yehuda."        And who was this Paphos ben Yehuda? He was a
contemporary of Akiva--the same Akiva who, though never having seen
Jesus, acquired such a reputation for his hatred towards him, that in the
imagination of the Jews, he was thought of, as we shall see, as his
contemporary. Accordingly Paphos was also held to be a contemporary of
      Now this Paphos had a wife notorious for her life of unchastity.
Therefore it is conceivable that this prostitute, belonging (presumably) to
the time of Jesus, and having been remembered in the tradition, was
simply identified also as the same harlot of whom it was said Jesus was
born. Accordingly the one who held that Paphos was the lawful husband of
Stada (Mary) was quite right from his point of view.

      4. We come now to the fourth and last name, that of Pandera. The
belief that Pandera was the lover of Stada (Mary) had been the subject of a
much earlier speculation. That is to say, about the year A. D. 178 the
heathen Celsus, whose words Origen preserved for us in his Refutation (I
28), had recieved the following account from a Jew: "Mary was turned out
by her husband, a carpenter by profession, after she had been convicted of
unfaithfulness. Cast off by her spouse, and wandering about in disgrace, she
then gave birth in obscurity to Jesus, by a certain soldier, Panthera."
       We can connect this Jewish narrative in Celsus with the accounts of
Jesus in the Talmud, for it was doubltess current among the Jews of
Talmudic times. What marks this narrative (in contrast with almost all other
Talmudic accounts of Jesus) is that it contains nothing of itself which would
be historically impossible. A thing might very well take place in precisely this
manner. What further distinguishes it from the other accounts are several
more or less close correspondences with the gospel history. We call to mind
the "carpenter", the "turning out" of Mary (evidenty a perversion of the fact
mentioned in Matthew 1:19), and the "obscurity" in which Jesus was born.
Such correspondences point to a time when Jews had not yet lost every
thread of the actual history of Jesus.
        But on the other hand, it is evident that a contrary imagination has
been at work on the true facts. (For example, while both sides, Christian and
Jew, admit that Jesus worked miracles, his power according to the latter was
only through the power of sorcery, and not of Divine agency.) And if the
Jews developed an opinion that Jesus was born out of wedlock, this is
primarily only their explanation of the fact that, inconceivable by any human
intellect, Jesus was born through a new act of creation by God, rather than
in the normal manner. Their intellect then had simply no choice but to
reduce a history which surpassed comprehension to the limits of natural
possibility. But when the Jews at the time of Celsus wished to state more
about Jesus than is indicated in the gospels, if they wished to add the
circumstances of Mary at the time of the birth, and add to that the name of
her supposed lover, then they were forced to resort to their imaginations,
and what then followed is no longer a history, but uncontrolled invention.
      The most striking points here are the condition of the lover. Which of
these two items--the name, or his profession as a soldier--established itself
first in the tradition? A "soldier", that is to say, a Roman soldier, was the
basest person possible. In the Talmud no people have a name so hated as
the Romans, who destroyed the Holy City and took from Israel the remnant
of independence. But the accursed instrument of the Romans for the
subjugation of the Jews was the Roman army, and again the most
despicable individual in this army was plainly a common soldier. If Jesus was
considered a contemporary of Akiva, and so of the period of the revolt under
Bar Kochba and of the destruction on the part of Rome, then the assertion
that he was born of a Roman father could come easily to hand. This
'discovery' contained then such an amount of biting scorn, and of insult
scarcely to be surpassed, that such a choice could hardly be resisted.

    What then does Pandera signify? Pandera, or as it is written, Panthera,
or Pantere, answers exactly to the Greek 'panther'. But what was intended
to be expressed by this designation, "son of the panther"? We answer, "Son
of the panther" meant 'Son of sensuality". Yet how was the panther a
symbol of sensuality? Among the Greeks the sins of the flesh were
associated with the cult of Dionysius. Now the panther among and before all
other beasts was sacred to Dionysius. He was the beast belonging to Bacchic
worship. The worshippers slept on panther skins. It is the panther which
appears mainly on coins exhibiting Bacchus. There was a special form of this
coin, in which Bacchus stands before a panther and gives him wine to
drink. Taking this into consideration, we have no difficulty in understanding
why, if the Jews when they read of the coming Greeks in Daniel 7:6, thought
also of the sensuality which belonged to this cult. And so by the expression
"son of the panther" they meant to convey that Jesus was born of unchastity
in the form in which it appears among the Greeks; in other words, he was
born of the greatest unchastity.
     But now there is the question, how did Jesus come to be given a
nickname drawn from a culture so distant from his own? We answer, that it
is possible to recognize in "panthera" a mutilated form of "parthenos",
which is Greek for "virgin". Thus this form would have arisen out of "ben
parthena" ("son of the virgin", using an Aramaic ending), which by then
would have been current among the Christians; and such a parody was too
pointed and obvious not to be adapted.
     The origin of the "soldier" we must place in the time of Hadrian and
Celsus. For as has already been noted above, the "soldier" owes his
existence to the terrible bitterness towards the Romans aroused by that war;
on the other hand the whole story evidently appertains to a time in which
the Jews had ceased to converse with the Christians, and in which, giving
free rein to caprice and to a spiteful imagination, they merely built upon
the remains of tradition. All this tallies with the generation which is
concurrent with Rabbi Akiva, and is molded by him. (And to this same time,
according to our earlier deduction, is owed the designation Ben Stada


     Just as in the Christian Church the mother of the Savior has been
gradually advanced to such honors that in one part of it she is taken to have
been as sinless as the Lord himself, so by the bitterest foes of the Church
she, the blessed among women, and greatest mother in Israel, has been
overlaid with the deepest calumny.As the mother of Jesus she shared the
hatred and mockery which he had to experience. We have noticed that Jesus
was taken to be a bastard, who was conceived out of wedlock by an
espoused Mary. Now we come to a passage which gives Mary the general
character of unchastity.

           There is a tradition: Rabbi Meir used to say, Just as there
     are various kinds of taste with regards to eating, so too there
     are various kinds of dispositions as regards women. There is a
     man into whose cup a fly falls and he casts it out., but all the
     same he does not drink from the cup. Such was the manner of
     Paphos ben Yehudah, who used to lock the door upon his wife,
     and go out. (Gittin 90a).

       The sense of the comparison is clear. Paphos ben Yehudah had no
more dealings with his wife; some sort of suspicion had fallen on her. As a
result, he shut her off from any other contact, as well. In point of fact the
passage in the Talmud has to do solely with Paphos, against whom it is
brought as a reproach, that he kept himself separate from his wife. It was
not until later that Paphos became a person frequently named, when people
had come to see in him the husband of Jesus' mother. Thereupon there must
have entered into the Jewish conception a new element, and one originally
entirely foreign to it. And accordingly there was formed out of the story
about Paphos a story about Mary. Thus Rashi comments on this passage
(which is naturally no invention of Rashi's, but belongs to a previous time),

          Paphos ben Yehudah was the husband of Mary, the
     women's hairdresser. Whenever he went out of his house into
     the street, he locked the door upon her, that no one might be
     able to speak with her. And that is a course which became him
     not; for on this account there arose enmity between them, and
     she in wantonness broke her faith with her husband.

      Not only had Mary transgressed once, therefore; but she had done so
continually, and broken through the barriers set by her husband. Thus Jesus
was born--so our passage tacitly asserts--of one habitually unfaithful.


      Rabbi Bibi lived in the fourth century of the Christian era. He can
neither have seen Mary nor have been her contemporary. Nevertheless he
was able to say that he desired Mary's death and that extinction of her name
and memory. When in his time, as it appears, a much beloved woman, Mary,
a children's teacher, died and her death was mourned as premature, then
Rabbi Bibi may have exclaimed, Why did she have to die so young, while the
accursed Mary was permitted to live on?

             The Angel of Death was found with Rabbi Bibi bar Abbai.
     The Angel said to his attendant, Go, bring me Miriam the
     women's hairdresser. The attendant went and brought him
     Miriam the children's teacher. The Angel of Death said, I said,
     Miriam the women's hairdresser. The attendant said , Then I will
     take the other one back. But the Angel of death said to him,
     Since you have brought her, let her be reckoned among the
     dead. (Hagigah 4b)

      We have already noted, and shall do so again, that the Talmud, in
relation to Jesus, has no conception of chronology; and indeed, the later the
origin of notices about Jesus, the more reckless they are in their
chronological lapses. The post-Talmudic Targum Sheni on the book of Esther
actually reckons Jesus among the ancestors of Haman. In the face of such
an unfathomable error, is it surprising to find another such error here? For
the Talmudic commentary Tosaphoth on Hagigah 4b remarks, "The Angel of
Death was with Rabbi Bibi, and related to him the history of Miriam the
women's hairdresser, which took place in the time of the Second Temple.
This Miriam was the mother of so-and-so [i.e., Jesus], as is to be read in
Shabbath 104b."
       But the wording of the Talmud says quite distinctly that Mary lived in
the very time of Rabbi Bibi, on which account the Angel of Death spoke with
him not of one who had existed earlier, but of one actually living. Further,
this Angel, as we may note, at that very time in the presence of Rabbi Bibi
commissions his attendant to bring her to deliver her to death. The
Tosaphoth notes on Shabbath 104b struggle vainly             to remove this
anachronism by the assumption that there were two women's hairdressers
named Mary .


     There is mention made after the fall of Jerusalem of a "book          of
genealogies" (Yevamoth 49b), which, it is highly probable, contained a
collection of all the extant remains of genealogies which then survived either
in written or oral form. We need be concerned only with the following

             Simon ben Azzai has said, I found in Jerusalem a book of
      genealogies, in which it is written, that so-and-so is the bastard
      son of an adulteress. (Mishnah Yevamoth 4.13; Yevamoth 49b)

     Eisenmenger has made a note of twenty-eight different substituted
names for Jesus in Jewish writings. One of these is "otho ha'ish", or "that
man", or "so-and-so". Most of these names have their origin in
post-Talmudic times in which, as a consequence of oppression on the part of
the Christians, animus towards Jesus was further kindled. Still, in the time
of Akiva and Bar Kochba there was a strong feeling against Jesus. Simon
ben Azzi was a pupil of Akiva. Several Talmudic passages bear witness to his
combative attitude towards the Jewish-Christians. By the "so-and-so" here
can only be meant Jesus, for there was no one else to whom there was so
regularly applied the description "bastard" ("mamzer"), no one else to whom
it was more willingly ascribed.

     A second declaration on this subject was made by none other than
Rabbi Akiva. Now, there can only be one authentic human testimony as to
the birth of Jesus, that is, the testimony of the mother of Jesus herself. From
the mouth of Mary springs directly or indirectly the information which we
read in the gospel of Luke. And it is from the mouth of none other than this
parent, according to the Talmud, that Rabbi Akiva pretends to have drawn
forth the secret of the illegitimate birth of Jesus. In Kallah 18b, we can read:

              Once elders sat at the gate when two boys passed by.
      One had his head covered, the other did not. Of him who had his
      head uncovered, Rabbi Eleazor said, "A bastard!". Rabbi Joshua
      said, "A son of a woman in her separation!". But Rabbi Akiva
      said, "A bastard and a son of a woman in her separation!" They
      said to Rabbi Akiva, "Why do you contradict the words of your
      colleagues?" He answered, "I am about to prove it." Thereupon
      he went to the boy's mother, and found her sitting in the
      market. . . He said to her, "My daughter, if you tell me the thing
      I ask you, I will bring you to eternal life." She said to him,
      "Swear it to me!" Thereupon Rabbi Akiva took the oath with his
      lips, but he canceled it in his heart. Then he said to her, "What
      kind of son is your son?" She said to him, "When I betook myself
      to the bridal chamber, I was in my separation, and my husband
      stayed away from me. But my lover came to me, and by him I
      have this son." So the boy was thus discovered to be both a
      bastard and the son of a woman in her separation. Thereupon
      they said, "Great is Rabbi Akiva, in that he has put to shame his

       Neither the name of the son nor that of the mother is mentioned. But
from the Toldoth Yeshu ("The Generations of Jesus") it plainly follows that
Jesus and his mother were here in mind. And moreover Lichtenstein in his
Hebrew treatise "Sepher Toldoth Yeshua" ("Book of the Generations of
Jesus") remarks, "I have heard in my youth from Rabbis of consideration,
that in the tractate Kallah there is an allusion to 'that man' (Jesus)."
        The proof that this narrative speaks of Jesus must arise from its
contents. What is the point of the story? When a boy with head uncovered
passed by the rabbis, Rabbi Eleazor exclaimed, "A bastard!". By this he did
not mean to say, "From his shamelessness I recognize him to be a bastard",
but "His bad extraction brings these bad manners with it." Plainly he knew
the boy and considered him already to be a bastard before this sight of him.
The other rabbi, who likewise knew the boy, gave still sharper expression to
his displeasure at his shamelessness; for "son of a woman in her separation"
is to be judged in accordance with Leviticus 20:18, where the punishment of
death is appointed for liaisons with such. So Rabbi Joshua also did not
mean that the boy through his shamelessness had betrayed himself as the
son of such a woman, but that anyone who was of such a birth, could not
fail to behave so shamelessly.
       Rabbi Akiva then objects to his colleagues, "You still judge the lad too
favorably; he is a bastard and the son of a woman in her separation as well."
It then appears curious that both of his colleagues are offended at his
suggestion; the more so, because afterward they praise him, since his
opinion is the true one. The aim of the Talmudic writer in this version of the
story was simple; viz., that Rabbi Akiva should obtain an opportunity to
discover the facts, and show that he was right, that the boy was of the most
disgraceful origin possible. When the proof has turned out to be the right
one, his colleagues rejoice and afterwards praise God for having disclosed
His secret to Rabbi Akiva.
       If the boy's shamelessness was only the outward reason for the rabbis'
conversation about his disgraceful birth, then that birth itself must have
already long been an object of offense to them. And, that they discussed the
matter so eagerly shows that the boy must have had an unusual importance
for them; he must have been particularly marked by them, and hated by
them, more so than other boys who behaved similarly or who were taken for
illegitimate children, such as no doubt there have always been.
        Further, the joy of both the other rabbis over the victory of Rabbi
Akiva is striking. We have a right to ask after the special causes of such a
special hatred. What are these causes? I answer: Tell me the name of the
boy, and the causes are as plain as daylight. But since the Talmud mentions
no names, we must inquire further. Who can the boy have been? No one's
baseness of origin is so eagerly emphasized and discussed in the Talmud as
that of Jesus. On no one does the Talmud seek with such zeal and so much
skill in so many ways to stamp the character of bastard as on Jesus, who is
to it the bastard par excellence. Accordingly, we think it correct to explain
the above quoted passage as relating to Jesus.
       But--some might ask--how is it possible to understand Jesus as the boy
when Rabbi Akiva lived about a century after him, and thus can never have
seen Jesus, and least of all as a boy? We have to deal here with another
anachronism, and we call to mind the following facts.
       In a passage in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 67a), which will be dealt with at
greater length in the third portion of our treatise, it is said that Jesus was
crucified in Lydda (Lud)--an assertion which is naturally read with the
utmost astonishment, if not by those Jews who would swear by the Talmud,
then at least by Christians. It seems scarcely credible that the very place of
Jesus' crucifixion, this most memorable event in his whole story, has been
forgotten by the Jews. And yet so it is: Jesus according to the Talmud was
crucified not in Jerusalem but in Lydda. How is this to be explained?
Naturally we must not think of a confusion through error, or a lapse of
memory. No; the removal of the crucifixion of Jesus to Lydda, this place
which nowhere occurs in the New Testament accounts of Jesus, shows an
utter lack of acquaintance with his history.     And yet this assertion of the
Talmud must have a foundation.
       We believe we can find this foundation only in the following
assumption: Lydda became associated in the minds of the Jews with Jesus,
so that in the minds of later generations it was the impression that much
that took place with regard to him occurred there. The circumstance that
Rabbi Akiva was a teacher in Lydda supports this view; for we know what
great celebrity Akiva possessed as a rabbi, as well as what passionate hatred
of Jesus dwelt within this admirer of Bar Kochba. That Rabbi Akiva's
adversarial attitude towards Christianity affected his students may be
assumed. But a stronger effect may be demonstrated in that Akiva, most
likely on account of his vehement attacks upon Jesus, was thought in later
times to be his contemporary, who had lived with him in one and the same
town. For to say that Jesus was crucified in Lydda means nothing else than
that he was crucified in Akiva's city, in the time of the man who, according
to the Talmud, was one of those most intimately acquainted with the history
of Jesus. (In Lydda also the narrative contained in Kallah 18b has its origin.)
       And so we can conclude that the origin of this particular legend has its
roots in the attitude of R. Akiva, and in his association in the minds of the
later Talmudists with the times of Jesus.

                        THE WORKS OF JESUS


      "How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?" exclaimed the
Jews (John 7:15), full of amazement at his teaching. And in Matthew 13:54,
it says, "He taught in their synagogues, insomuch that they were astonished,
and said, Whence has this man wisdom?" And also in Mark 6:2, "[They]
were astonished, saying, Whence has this man [learned] these things? and,
What is the wisdom that is given to this man?. . . Is this not the carpenter,
the son of Mary?. . . and they were offended in him."
       In contrast with these accounts in the New Testament, according to
which Jesus, without having enjoyed the tuition of a distinguished rabbi, was
full of the highest wisdom and knowledge of the scriptures, the Talmud
prefers to assert that Jesus was a disciple of Rabbi Joshua ben Perachyah.
And in this statement, the Talmud is inconsistent with itself. For according to
this (cp. Avot de Rabbi Nathan 5a), no child of a harlot was allowed to come
to Jerusalem and visit the schools and study--an ordinance which fully
accords with Deut. 23:2, "A bastard shall not enter into the assembly of the
Lord; even to the tenth generation shall none of his enter into the assembly
of the Lord." But we have already seen how certain the Talmud considers it,
that Jesus was born out of wedlock.
       Now let us examine the passage itself.

           The Rabbis have taught: Always let the left hand repel and
      the right hand invite, not like Elisha who repulsed Gehazi with
      both hands, and not like Rabbi Joshua ben Perachyah, who
      repulsed Yeshu the Nazarene with both hands. . .

            What of Rabbi Joshua ben Perachyah? When Jannai the king
      killed our rabbis, Rabbi Joshua ben Perachyah [and Jesus] fled to
      Alexandria in Egypt. When there was peace, Rabbi Shimon ben
     Shetach sent him a letter      [asking him to return]. Thereupon
     Joshua arose and went; and on the way found a certain inn.
     And at this inn they showed him great respect. Then he said,
     "How fair is this inn ("acsania")!" Jesus said to him, "But rabbi,
     she ("acsania", i.e., a hostess; the word has both meanings) has
     narrow eyes." Rabbi Joshua replied, "You godless fellow, do you
     occupy yourself with such things?" He sent out four hundred
     trumpets and excommunicated him. Jesus came before him
     many times, saying, "Take me back.". Joshua did not trouble
     himself about him. . One day, just as Rabbi Joshua was reciting
     the Shema, Jesus came to him, hoping that he would take him
     back. Joshua made a sign to him with his hand. Then Jesus
     thought that he had altogether repulsed him, and went away,
     and set up a brickbat, and worshipped it. Joshua said to him, "Be
     converted!" Jesus said, "You have taught me, that everyone who
     sins and causes the multitude to sin, they give him not the
     chance to repent." And the Teacher [an authority mentioned by
     this name in the Talmud] has said, "Jesus practiced sorcery and
     had corrupted and misled Israel." (Sanhedrin 107b)

    The Jerusalem Talmud, which relates the same story, has in place of
Joshua ben Perachyah the name of his contemporary Yehudah ben Tabbai.
This makes no essential difference. However, while the Babylonian Talmud
(as cited above) gives the name of the student (Jesus), the Jerusalem
Talmud does not mention his name--plainly, because it does not know him.
This can be explained by the manner in which the entire passage came to
be connected with Jesus.
        Clearly, there is a striking anachronism which would place Jesus as
a contemporary of Rabbi Joshua ben Perachyah, who lived about one
hundred years before Jesus.      At that time King Alexander Jannaeus (Janni)
crucified about 800 Pharisees after having crushed a revolt to which they
gave support. This in turn resulted in a mass flight of members of the
Pharisee sect, mainly into Egypt. And among these were Joshua ben
Perachyah and Yehudah ben Tabbai. It is unquestionable then that the
inserted name Jesus here is spurious, and even if it were to be found in all
our sources of information, would have to be struck out. But, as noted, the
Jerusalem Talmud does not have this name. And this in itself is noteworthy,
since in many cases the Jerusalem Talmud preserves the simpler, essential
form of the traditions, and does not further expand upon them.
      Thus originally the name of Jesus was lacking. But upon later
examination, there might have seemed to be several features present which
could have led to an assumption that he was the subject mentioned. First,
there was a flight from a blood-thirsty king into Egypt. It was an account
spread by the Christians themselves that Jesus once fled to Egypt from a
king who sought his life. This account must have made a deep impression on
the Jewish memory, since it also apparently became the source for the
notion that Jesus learned sorcery while in Egypt (see below). (Why, though,
he should not have been excommunicated for sorcery, but for merely casting
a glance at an innkeeper, the Talmud does not relate.)
      Second, Jesus is alleged to have shown a lack of respect for the rabbi.
We know from Kallah 18 that Jesus was considered shameless; and such
shamelessness would extend to showing no respect for one's teacher. And
the Christians themselves would have recounted his disputes with the rabbis
of his day.
      But since no learned sage could have confused the day of Rabbi Akiva,
(when Jesus was also supposed to have lived) with that of Rabbi Joshua ben
Perachyah, this story must have arisen before the era when Jesus came to
be associated with Akiva, and when there was still current a little knowledge
of him (even if it was only to refer to him as a sorcerer or, as in the gospels,
as someone who 'has a devil and is mad'). Thus it's origin should not be
dated too much beyond the conclusion of the second great Revolt, or the
middle of the second Christian century.


        A subject of great weight for Christian Apologetics will now occupy
us: the treatment of Jesus' miracles. Far from denying them, the Talmud on
the contrary readily admits them, but ascribes them not to Divine power but
to sorcery. (Someone who will not here even believe what the bitterest
enemies of Jesus admit about him in this respect is beyond the reach of
argument.) Thus:

            There is a tradition: Rabbi Eleazor said to the sages, Has
      not the son of Stada brought magic spells from Egypt in an
      incision on his skin? They answered him, He was a fool, and we
      do not accept proofs from a fool. (Shabbath 104b)

     To further understand this passage, one has also to look at the
Tosephta, Shabbath XI, 15:
            'He that cuts marks upon his flesh'--Rabbi Eleazor
     condemns, the sages permit. He said to them, And did not Ben
     Stada learn only in this way? They said to him, Because of one
     fool are we to destroy all reasonable men?

      Here Rabbi Eleazor supports his view that no one should cut marks on
his body or tattoo himself on the Sabbath, by the fact that Jesus had done
so. The example of this impious one should not be imitated, and especially
not on the Sabbath. But the sages objected to him that Jesus was a fool,
and to that kind of person one does not refer. (In Shabbath 104b the
question is whether tattooing is writing, and so forbidden on the Sabbath.
Rabbi Eleazor decides that it is writing, and appeals to the fact that Ben
Stada had employed tattooing for writing purposes. However the majority
decides that this is something so extraordinary and foolish, that one has no
right on that account to include tattooing in the category of writing.)
      The assertion that Jesus was a sorcerer forms a compliment to another
judgement of the Pharisees as to Jesus miracles, which is presented to us in
Matthew 9:34. "But the Pharisees said, By the prince of the devils he casts
out devils." This judgement was made on a specific occasion, and about the
casting out of devils. But we may venture to assume that a similar
explanation must have occured to the Pharisees with regard to all Jesus'
miracles, in view of these passages in the Talmud.
      Certainly, had it been possible, the Pharisees and the doctors of the
Law would have availed themselves of a simple denial of the miracles, or
have denounced them as lies and frauds. But in the face of the fact that
these miracles took place in the presence of the multitude, and that those
who were healed by Christ, for example, Lazarus, went about through every
quarter as living witnesses of the miraculous power of Jesus, made such a
course of action impossible. It was utterly impossible to ignore these
miracles, or to tell the people that it was all fraudulent. But their hatred
found another expression, which was fitted to destroy the divine luster that
spread itself around the Worker of miracles. Jesus, they said, is a sorcerer,
who has brought his sorceries from Egypt.
      The expression, "from Egypt" gives expression to the thought that
Jesus was possessed of a sorcery beyond the common. Of Egypt, it is said
(Kiddushin 49b), "Ten measures of sorcery came down into the world. Egypt
received nine measures, and all the rest of the world one." Now, the
Talmud actually maintains at one point (Menahoth 65a and Sanhedrin 17a),
that "None are brought into the Sanhedrin save those who are wise and
acquainted with magic." (As Rashi explains, this is in order that they may
better expose the sorcerers, who would otherwise be able to mislead the
people.) Thus the assertion that Jesus had learned his magic arts in Egypt,
marks him as an arch-magician. And thus we have once again a forcible
confirmation from a hostile mouth of the extraordinary powers of Jesus.
      In addition to the Talmudic conception that Egypt was the home of
specially powerful magic, there is also the notion that it was exceptionally
difficult to remove Egyptian magic out of that country. Rashi said, "The
Egyptian magicians searched everyone who left the land of Egypt, to see if
he was taking with him any books of magic, in order that the magical arts
might not come into other countries." If Jesus then was able to bring
Egyptian magic out of Egypt, he could only have done so by means of a
stratagem. And what did he do? He made "an incision in his flesh"; in other
words, he inserted in his flesh the Egyptian magic formulas.


      Two questions have to be answered here: (1) What is handed down to
us in the Talmud about Jesus' teaching? And (2) What charges does the
Talmud bring against Jesus' teaching?
       To consider the second of these questions first, there are three
charges brought against Jesus' teachings in the Talmud.   First, in Shabbath
104b, Jesus is called a fool, as we have seen. This designation was given to
Jesus partly on account of his claim that he was the Son of God, or God
Himself. This appears from Jerusalem Taanith 65b, where in reference to
Numbers 23:19 it is said:

           Rabbi Abbahu has said, If a man says to you, "I am God",
     he lies. If he says, "I am the Son of Man", he shall rue it. If he
     says, "I ascend to heaven," then this should apply to him, "He
     has said it and will not be able to do it."

This passage alludes to Jesus too clearly to need a word of proof.
        The same testimony which Jesus spoke of himself is also mentioned
in the following passage from Pesikta Rabbati (fol. 100f):

          Rabbi Chia bar Abba said, "If the son of the whore says to
     you, There are two Gods, answer him, I am He of the sea, I am
     He of Sinai." That is to say, at the Red Sea God appeared to
     Israel as a youthful warrior; at Sinai He appeared as an old man,
     as becomes a lawgiver; but they are both one. Rabbi Chia bar
      Abba said, "If the son of the whore says to you, There are two
      Gods, answer him, It is here (Deut. 5.4) written not Gods but
      the Lord has spoken with you face to face."

     That God has a son, and that for this reason there might be two Gods,
passes here for the teaching of the whore's son, wherein the reference is
       Secondly, the Talmud asserts that Jesus was an idolator. Accordingly
we read in the tractate which makes the most mention of Jesus, Sanhedrin
103a, the following:

            'Neither shall any plague come nigh your tent' (Psalm
      91:10); in other words, you hsall have no son or disciple who
      burns his food publicly, like Jesus the Nazarene."

    We may compare this with Berakoth 17b:

           'In our streets[let there be no breaking]'(Psalm 144:14), in
      other words, that we may have no son or disciple, who burns his
      food publicly, as did Jesus the Nazarene."

     As to what the expression, "burns his food", there is no complete
consensus of opinion. Some assert it means one who commits apostasy.
Others suggest it means "to lead a bad life", or to act contrary to one's
teaching. (This latter explanation cannot be correct, since it has never been
asserted that Jesus taught aright, yet his life was contrary to his teachings.)
But the simple fact is that Jesus introduced (or re-emphasized) a doctrine
which was not the doctrine of the Pharisees. And this was made a reproach
against him. It is more likely then that the first suggestion, that "burns his
food" refers to apostasy, may be the correct one. For it may well be a
contemptuous remark alluding to the public offering of a sacrifice to idols.
     Idolatry is the highest degree of falling away from God. The Talmudic
view of Jesus as having fallen away from God and of the apostasy of his
teaching is commonly expressed. Thus, we have in Sanhedrin 43a and 107b,
"Jesus practiced sorcery, and corrupted and seduced Israel." In what
direction did he corrupt and seduce them? In that of falling away from the
true God and His Law to a false doctrine and idolatry. And indeed he did it
with great success, for his adherents were not just a few, but many, since it
is said, "He seduced Israel."
      Finally, that Jesus was a seducer is further expressed by the title
Balaam, by which in several passages we are to understand Jesus. Balaam
("devourer of the people", or "destroyer of the people"), has gained a
reputation as the one who attempted to lead Israel into idolatry. He has
therefore become the symbol of those whose aim is the spiritual or physical
destruction of Israel. And what would be more natural, to unbelieving eyes,
than that Jesus, also, should be given this for a nickname, since he is seen
as an enemy of Israel? And so he became, for some, the representation of a
Balaam par excellence.
     But it is necessary now to show that there really are in the Talmud
passages in which Balaam denotes Jesus. We commence with Mishnah
Sanhedrin 10.2:

          Three kings and four private persons have no portion in the
     world to come. Three kings, namely, Jeroboam, Ahab, and
     Manasseh. Rabbi Judah says, "Manasseh has a portion, for it is
     said, 'And he prayed unto Him, and He was entreated of him,
     and He heard his supplication, and He brought him again to
     Jerusalem into his kingdom.' (II Chron. 33:13)." (But someone
     objected, He brought him again into his kingdom, but He did not
     bring him again into the life of the future world.) And four
     private persons, namely Balaam, Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi.

      This passage belongs to the celebrated portion named after its opening
word, Chelek ("part", or "share") which, having first remarked that all Israel
will have a share in the world to come, then specifies the exceptions. First
three kings are named. The great sin common to all of them is that they
made the children of Israel to sin, by leading them astray into terrible
idolatry. It can be assumed, therefore, that the immediate addition of the
four private names suggests that their cases, too, have to do with a similar
sin. And indeed we would expect at the head of this list to be Jesus. And
this is especially so since the chapter in Chelek has already noted in a
preceding paragraph that Jewish-Christians have no part in the world to
come. "Rabbi Akiva says, He also has no part in the world to come, who
reads external books, and who whispers over a wound and says, 'I will lay
upon you no sickness, which I have laid upon Egypt, for I am the Lord am
your healer.' " The "external books" would have included the books of the
Jewish-Christians; and the words "whisper over a wound" might well refer to
the cures of the Jewish-Christians in the name of Jesus.
      Therefore it is surprising, in a spot where we would expect to find a
mention of Jesus, to find instead the name of the non-Israelite Balaam; and
all the more so since this chapter has dealt only with Israelites. (Doeg can
at least in a certain sense be included among the Israelites.) Balaam's
name is introduced then as the sole non-Israelite to be discussed in the
passage, and this at the head of the list of private persons. So the following
conclusion suggests itself: Jesus is not mentioned, and yet is not likely to be
absent. Since the Balaam of history, as a non-Israelite, cannot be intended,
we are then to understand that the name Balaam is used to represent
another; and this other one must have committed a like sin to all the rest in
the list. And since in this sense Jesus was considered to the fullest extent a
Balaam, it seems more than likely that the name Balaam here is intended to
mean Jesus, the one who is charged with having misled Israel and led her
       But now there is another surprise, in that the remaining three private
names are those of persons who did not commit the sin of leading Israel
astray into false worship. These committed other sins. And yet, of all those
of Israel, many of whom may be said to have committed worse sins, are
these the only three listed as being denied a place in the world to come? Or
can it be that these, too, are only names used to represent others--others
whose sins were, in fact, that they "led Israel astray", but whose real names
could not be used for fear of the censorship? (And thus some scholars have
asserted that the names of the apostles should be inserted here.)
       Having discovered that the name of Balaam may, in fact, be used as a
substitute for Jesus in some passages, it is not hard to find evidence for such
use in yet another passage. (And this passage will shed more light on the
preceding one.)

           The disciples of our father Abraham enjoy this world and
      inherit the world to come. . . [but] the disciples of Balaam the
      impious inherit Gehenna, and go down into the pit of
      destruction, as it is written, (Psalm 55:24), "But you, O God,
      shall bring them down into the pit of destruction; bloodthirsty
      and deceitful men shall not live out half their days." (Mishnah
      Avot 5.19)

         This passage deals, as we see, with the division of the Jews into
two camps, and with and absolute split between the two, parting into
heaven and hell. Abraham's disciples are the pious, who after death come
into paradise; Balaam's disciples, on the other hand, enter into Gehenna
          Who is Balaam in this passage? It is unlikely that the historical
Balaam is thought of here. Or might we venture to say that Jesus is one of
the disciples of Balaam, and say that he is included among these? But that
would require a moderation of the hatred felt against Jesus sufficient to
place him only on the same level as all the other reprobates. If we further
take notice of the fact that in Mishnah Sanhedrin 10.2             Balaam (i.e.,
Jesus) is listed specifically as one of those who is to forfeit the future life, it
becomes more than likely that in this chapter (Mishnah Avot 5.19) Balaam,
the father and teacher of those who go astray, is also none other than Jesus.
And as for the scripture referring to the deceitful men who do not live out
half their days, we find that this leads us to yet another Balaam passage.

            A Min (Jewish-Christian) said to Rabbi Chanina, "Have you
      by any chance learned what age Balaam was?" He answered,
      "There is nothing written concerning it. But since it is said,
      'Bloodthirsty and deceitful men shall not live out half their days' ,
      he was either thirty-three or thirty-four years old." The
      Jewish-Christian answered, "You have spoken well; for I myself
      have seen a chronicle of Balaam, in which it is said, 'Balaam the
      lame man was thirty-three years old when Phinehas the robber
      slew him.'" (Sanhedrin 106b)

     The "chronicle of Balaam" which the Jewish-Christian knew was likely
simply the New Testament. That the Phinehas mentioned here cannot have
been the same as the Phinehas mentioned in Numbers 25:2ff is clear from
the epithet "the robber". Most probably what the Jewish-Christian said was
something like, "Jesus was thirty-three years old when Pontius Pilate slew
him." Pontius Pilate was also not forgotten by the Jews--as the Targum
Sheni on the book of Esther shows. (And it natural that he should be
remembered as a "robber".) Since Jesus was to be called Balaam, it was
easily follow then to call the one who slew him Phinehas (Numbers 31:8);
and indeed all the more so, as this name has a similar sound to Pontius.
      As regards "the lame man", it is possible that this derives from the
story about Jesus making an incision on his flesh (and according to a later
development of the legend, he fell to the ground from a great height after
losing a magic charm). [In addition, there was a Jewish tradition, derived
from a fanciful interpretation two texts--Numbers 23:3 and 24:15, that
Balaam was lame and blind in one eye. See Sanhedrin 105a.] Thus these
elements of legend may have been combined here.
      Finally, in a further Balaam passage, there is yet another instance of
the historical Balaam being used to represent Jesus:
          Resh Lakish has said, Woe to him who recalls himself to life
      by the Name of God (Sanhedrin 106a)

      This comment is made in reference to Numbers 24:23, "Alas, who shall
live when God does this?". The statemtent points to Jesus too obviously for
a proof to be needed. For of whom would it ever have been said, that he had
recalled himself to life? Rashi explains, "Balaam, who recalled himself to life
by the Name of God, made himself thereby to be God." Rashi, of course, did
not believe in the resurrection of Jesus, but was describing the beliefs of the

      Now we may turn from the charges which the Talmud makes against
Jesus--charges of sorcery, folly, and seduction of the people--to the answer
of the second question, what teachings of Jesus does the Talmud purport to
relate? Two sentences are handed down as expressly the sayings of Jesus.
In Avodah Zarah 16b,17a, we have the following:

            The rabbis have taught: When Rabbi Eleazor was about to
      be imprisoned on account of heresy [i.e., on being suspected of
      being a Christian], he was brought to the [Roman] court to be
      tried. The judge said to him, "Does a man of your age busy
      yourself with such things?" He answered, "The Judge is just
      towards me." The judge thought that Eleazor was speaking of
      him; but he thought upon his Father in heaven. Then the judge
      said to him, "Since you think I am just, then you are acquitted."

           Now when Eleazor came home his disciples presented
      themselves to him to console him, but he would not be consoled.
      Then Rabbi Akiva said to him, "Permit me to tell you something
      of what you have taught me." He answered, "Say on." Then said
      Rabbi Akiva, "Perchance you have once given an ear to heresy,
      which pleased you, and for that account you have been arrested
      for heresy." Eleazor replied, "Akiva, you have reminded me! I
      was once walking in the upper streets of Sepphoris; there I met
      with one of the disciples of Jesus the Nazarene, Jacob of Kfar
      Sechanya, who said to me, 'It is found in your Law (Duet.
      23:19), Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore. . . into the
      house of. . . thy God. What may be done with it? May a latrine
      for the High Priest be built out of such gifts?' And I answered
      him nothing. He said to me, 'Thus has Jesus the Nazarene taught
      me, For the hire of a whore has she gathered them, and unto
      the hire of a harlot they shall return.' (Micah 1:7) From the place
      of filth they come, and unto the place of filth they shall go.'
      This explanation pleased me, and on this account I have been
      arrested for heresy, since I transgressed the scripture, Remove
      your way far from her (i.e., heresy). (Proverbs 5:8)

       Here the mere fact that a teaching is said to have originated with Jesus
was enough to mark it as heretical--whether it was in keeping with the Law
or not. What good thing can come from Jesus?--that was Akiva's view; and
even that which might appear good has a corrupting influence, because
behind it there lies an apostate mind. Such fanaticism did not ask whether
what was said was true or false, but only, who has said it?
        [It has been noted that Rabbi Eleazor did not explicitly deny that he
was a Christian. Such an answer would have satisfied the judge as much as
the one he gave. Was his answer then just an evasion? In light of other
similar answers which he gave later, and the fact that he was eventually
excommunicated, many scholars believe that he did, in fact, at the end of
his life become a Jewish-Christian.]

      The second saying of Jesus which the Talmud purports to hand down is
given in Shabbath 116a and b:

              Imma Shalom, the wife of Rabbi Eleazor and the sister of
      Rabban Gamaliel II, had a neighbor who was a philosopher, who
      had a reputation that he would accept no bribes. They wished to
      make fun of him. Imma therefore sent to him a golden lamp [as
      a bribe]. Then she came before him. She said, "I should like to
      have a share in the property of my family." He said to her,
      "Then have your share!" But Gamaliel II said to him, "We have
      a law, 'Where there is a son, the daughter shall not inherit'." The
      judge said, "Since the day when you were driven out of your
      own country, the Law of Moses is repealed and there is given the
      gospel, in which it is said, 'Son and daughter shall inherit

            The next day Gamaliel II brought the judge a Libyan ass [as
      a bribe]. Then the judge said to him, "I have looked at the end
      of the gospel; for it says, 'I am not come to take away from the
      Law of Moses and I am not come to add to the Law of Moses.'
      It is written in the Law of Moses, 'Where there is a son, the
     daughter shall not inherit.' " Then Imma said to him,
     "Nevertheless, may your light shine like a lamp." But Rabban
     Gamaliel said, "The ass has come and overturned the lamp."

     The actions of Imma and Rabban Gamaliel II seem here to be intended
to remove the mask of Christian virtue from this judge; and perhaps, since
Rabbi Eleazor was suspected of being sympathetic towards the teachings of
the Christians, it is not too far-fetched to wonder if this may not have been
done partially on his account.

    It is needless to add that neither of the above sentences supposedly
credited to Jesus actually occur in the gospels. While, on the other hand, a
number of actual sayings of Jesus are repeated in the Talmud, although they
are placed in the mouth of much later rabbis. [If this is indicative of
anything, it may suggest the extent to which these sayings of Jesus were
disseminated and became accepted among the common people.] It is
beyond the scope of this work to consider these other instances, but a
remark of Franz Delitzsch should be noted:

           I believe that I can show by convincing historical proofs,
     that the preaching of Jesus and of primitive Christianity in its
     original Jewish form has been a power through. . .which a
     stream of brightness (as it were) has diffused itself through
     Talmudic literature. (Leipzig, 1883)

Jesus Disciples

     In at least one passage of the Talmud the disciples of Jesus are
expressly spoken of:

               There is a tradition: Jesus had five disciples: Mathai,
     Nakkai, Netzer, Bunni, Todah. Mathai was brought before the
     court. He said to the judges, "Is Mathai to be put to death? Yet it
     is written, 'Mathai ['when'] shall I come and appear before God?'
     (Psalm 42:3/2)" They answered him, "No, but Mathai is to be
     executed, for it is said, 'Mathai ['when'] shall he die and his
      name perish?' (Psalm 41:6/5). Nakkai was brought before the
      court. He said to them, "Is Nakkai to be put to death? Yet it is
      written, "The naki ['innocent'] and righteous you shall not slay.'
      (Exodus 23:7)" They replied to him, "No, but Nakkai is to be
      put to death; for it is written, 'In covert places does he put to
      death the naki.' (Psalm 10:8). Netzer was brought. He said to
      them, "Is Netzer to be put to death? Yet it is written, 'A netzer
      [branch] shall spring up out of his roots.' (Isaiah 11:1)" They
      answered him, "Netzer is to be put to death; for it is said, 'You
      are cast forth from your sepulchre, like an abominable netzer.'
      (Isaiah 4:19)" Bunni was brought. He said, "Is Bunni to be put to
      death? Yet it is written, "Israel is b'ni ['My son'], my firstborn.'
      (Exodus 4:22)" They answered him, "No, but Buni is to be put to
      death, for it is written, "Behold, I will slay Binkha ['your son']'
      (Exodus 4:23)" Todah was brought. He said to them, "Is Todah
      to be put to death? Yet it is written, 'A Psalm for todah
      ['thanksgiving']' (Psalm 101, heading)" They answered him, "No,
      but Todah is to be put to death, for it is written, 'Whoso offers
      todah honors me'. (Psalm 1:23)" (Sanhedrin 43a)

      Most likely this passage is only a parody based on the five names, and
not a record of an actual event. In that sense the narrative is unlikely on its
face. However, it may reflect some historical basis. For example, the name
Mathai probably recalls Matthew; Todah, Thaddeus. Nakkai or Bunni might
recall Nicodemus, who was prominent enough to be remembered. [There is
a Nicodemus mentioned in the Talmud as living during the Second Temple
period, who also had the name Bunni.] Netzer might be a reference to
Nazarene. But nothing more is said about any of these; and whether any or
all of them were later executed is uncertain.
      Elsewhere the Talmud speaks of other, later followers of Jesus, and
their ability to work miracles:

            It happened that Rabbi Eleazor ben Dama was bitten by a
      serpent. Then came Jacob of Kfar Sama, to heal him in the name
      of Yeshu Pandera. But Rabbi Ishamel would not allow it. Eleazor
      said to him, I will bring you a proof, that he may heal me. But he
      had no more time to utter the proof, for he died. Rabbi Ishamel
      said to him, Blessed art thou, Ben Dama, that you departed in
      peace from the world, and did not break through the fence of the
      sages, since it is written, "And whoso breaks through a fence, a
      serpent shall bite him." (Ecclesiastes 10:8). The serpent only bit
      him now so that one will not bite him in the future, in the world
     to come. (Shabbath 14.14d,     Jerusalem Talmud)

     This is apparently the same Jacob whom we have earlier encountered in
connection with another Rabbi Eleazor, who was accused of heresy. The
horror which Rabbi Ishmael had of even a miraculous cure, if it was effected
in the name of Jesus, is shown by his stern resolve that this Rabbi Eleazor
(who was, in fact, his own nephew) should die rather than that he should
permit himself to be cured in the name of Jesus. Ben Dama would have
seemed to him defiled forever, if he had been cured through the name of
Jesus; and especially so if, induced by this cure, he had given his heart to
this Jesus.
      (But once again, let us note that this confirms the power of the
followers of Jesus to heal in the name of Jesus; and we must also say, that
here is a convincing proof of the truth of the miracles, as it comes even from
the mouths of Jesus' enemies. Truly the name of Jesus is not an empty
word, but represents a heavenly Power, whose existence his enemies cannot
wholly get rid of by denial.)

                                       JESUS' END


      If the Talmud has romanced events anywhere, it has done so here.
According to the law, no one could be condemned without witnesses. In the
case of one who attempts to lead others into idolatry, the Mishnah asserts,
and the Gemara (commentary) repeats it, that the court obtains for itself the
testimony of witnesses if need be in a crafty manner:

            In the case of all transgressors who are worthy of death
     according to the Torah, no witnesses are placed in concealment
     except in the case of the sin of leading astray to idolatry. If the
     enticer has made his enticing speech to two, then these are the
     witnesses against him, and they lead him from the court and he
     is stoned. But if he shall have not spoken before two, but only to
     one, then the one shall say to him, "I have friends, who have a
     liking for that". [And so the friends shall be brought to hear,
     and can serve as witnesses.] But if the enticer is cunning, and
     wishes to say nothing before more than one, then witnesses are
     placed in concealment behind the wall, and the single witness
     says to him, "Now tell me once again what you were saying to
     me, for we are alone." If the enticer now repeats it, the other
     one says to him, "How should we forsake our heavenly Father,
     and go and worship wood and stone?" If the enticer is now
     converted [and changes his mind], well and good; but if he
     answers, "This is our duty; it is for our good", then those who
     are standing behind the wall will bring him before the court, and
     he is stoned. (Mishnah Sanhedrin 7.10)

The Jerusalem Talmud, which has the same passage, adds to it (Sanhedrin
7.16 (25d):

           How do they treat him so as to come upon him by
     surprise? In this way: for. . . the enticer is made to remain in
     the exterior part of the house, wherin a lamp is lighted over him,
     in order that the witnesses may see him and distinguish his
     voice. Thus, for instance, they managed with the son of Stada at
     Lydda. Against him two disciples of learned men were placed in
     concealment and he was brought before the court, and stoned.

In the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 67a) the closing words are, "And thus
they did to Ben Stada in Lydda, and he was hung on the eve of Passover."
(And this material is repeated again in Tosephta Sanhedrin 10.11).
     The above presupposes that the enticer has never uttered his seducing
words publicly, not even once before two persons, but only to one individual;
and that this individual, far from being enticed, has instead determined to
hand over the seducer to death. Such a case is possible in itself. But neither
according to the New Testament, nor (to which we here will attach more
weight) according to the universal conception of the Talmud, does this tally
with the case of Jesus.
     According to the Talmud, he had seduced and led astray many of
Israel, and this together with his sorcery formed the grounds for his being
condemned to death. If the actions and words of any man were public,
surely--even according to the testimony of the Talmud--that man was Jesus.
That he had only wished to seduce one, and that this one was not seduced,
but handed him over in a crafty manner to the court, is directly opposed to
what we read both in the New Testament and the Talmud as well.
       And so how did this story come about? It might be assumed that
certain features of the story of Jesus were not forgotten. That he was
betrayed was probably remembered. That he was betrayed in the night,
likewise. And so we have the root elements of the story, although the rest of
the facts would have been sunk in oblivion. And from this, then, there arose
the romance about how, supposedly legally, Jesus was trapped and


            And it is tradition: On the eve of the Passover Yeshu the
      Nazarene was hung. But the herald went forth before him for the
      space of forty days, while he cried, "Yeshu the Nazarene goes
      forth to be stoned, because he has practiced sorcery and
      seduced Israel and led them astray. Let anyone who knows
      anything in his favor come forward          and give information
      concerning it." But no plea was found for him, and so he was
      hung on the eve of Passover. Ulla said, "But do you think that
      there could be anything in his favor? He was a seducer, and the
      All Merciful has said, 'You shall not spare him, nor conceal him.'
      (Deut. 13:8). " However, in Jesus' case it was different, because
      he was near to the kingdom. (Sanhedrin 43a).

     There is no reference in the New Testament to a period of forty days
before the crucifixion. But it was a custom of Christians later to fast for forty
days before this date, in commemoration of it. Thus a figure of forty days
may have come to figure here. Ulla was a scholar of the fourth century, who
was prominent in Babylonia but made frequent visits to Palestine. It may be
that by this time the blurred memory of Jesus could only reproduce the fact
that he was executed at the time of Passover, and that he was "hung" (a
common way to refer to crucifixion), and not stoned.
     As an additional note to this we mention a passage out of the Targum
Sheni to the book of Esther 7:9. Here, after having related that Haman
appealed to Mordechai for mercy, but was refused, it says:

           And when Haman saw that his words were not heard, he
      began a lamentation and weeping for himself in the middle of
      the palace garden. . . He said . . . "Hear me, you trees and all
     you plants, which I have planted since the days of the creation.
     The son of Hammedatha is about to ascend to the lecture room
     of Ben Pandera."

      It is questionable whether it is Haman who is intended to be
represented as inquiring of the trees, or God (who has planted all the trees
since creation). But after this in the story one tree after another excuses
itself for not allowing Haman to be hung upon it, till at last the cedar
proposes that Haman be hung upon the gallows already prepared for
Mordechai. It can be seen that "ascending to the lecture room of Ben
Pandera" is to be understood as being hung upon a tree of ignominy. A
gallows is now reckoned as equipment particularly associated with and
adapted to Jesus; and it is all the more tragic that this phrase seems to have
been placed in the mouth of God (if not Haman); Whose son Jesus was.


      In Yoma 39a and b there is the account that forty years before the
Temple was destroyed, the gates opened by themselves. This would be the
very year of the crucifixion. The rending of the veil would not have occured
without eyewitnesses, as it happened at that very hour when the priest in
the sanctuary would have been busy with the incense offering, and in
lighting the lamps. It is conceivable that both events happened, the rending
of the veil, and that the gates also burst open; only the Evangelists, as
always, recorded only the most essential part of the information (the veil),
and that which was the most pertinent theologically. On the other hand it is
here that the Talmud is silent about the veil, while it cannot conceal that
which would have been witnessed by the multitude (the gates).


             Onkelos bar Kalonikos, a nephew of Titus, desired to
     convert to Judaism. He conjured up the spirit of Titus and asked
     him, Who is esteemed in that world? And Titus answered, The
     Israelites. Onkelos asked further, Ought one to join oneself to
      them? Titus answered, Their precepts are too many; you cannot
      keep them. Go and make war upon them in this world, so you
      shall become a head, for it is said, "Their adversaries are
      become the head" (Lamentations 1:5). Everyone that vexes the
      Israelites becomes a head. Onkelos asked Titus' spirit, How are
      you punished? He answered, With what I appointed for myself;
      each day my ashes are collected and I am judged; then I am
      burnt and the ashes are scattered over the seven seas.

              Next Onkelos conjured up the spirit of Balaam. He asked
      him, Who is esteemed in that world? And Balaam answered, The
      Israelites. Onkelos asked, Ought one to join oneself to them?
      And Balaam answered, Seek not their peace or their good all
      your days. Onkelos asked, How are you punished? And he
      answered, With boiling pollution.

              Thereupon Onkelos conjured up the spirit of Jesus. He
      asked him, "Who is esteemed in that world? He answered, The
      Israelites. Onkelos asked, Ought one to join oneself to them?
      He answered, Seek their good and not their ill. He who touches
      them, touches the apple of God's eye. Onkelos asked, How are
      you punished? He answered, With boiling filth. For the Teacher
      has said, He who scorns the words of the sages, is punished with
      boiling filth. See what a distinction there is between the
      apostates of Israel and the heathen prophets! (Gittin 57a)

    Onkelos belongs to the time of Akiva and the second revolt against
Rome. Interestingly, it is Jesus who advises friendship with Israel. Yet since
Jesus, who is the most hated of all hated men in history, is still to be
punished, his punishment must therefore be worse than that of the two
gentiles in the same story.


     Two points are continually made evident in a striking way: First, the
extraordinary paucity and scantiness of these accounts; and second, their
impossibly fictitious character.
       How great the shrinkage of memory as regards the recollections of
Jesus, is seen from the fact that Akiva, the man who took a most active part
in the fresh ill-treatment of Jesus' name and followers, was plainly kept in
the common memory alongside Jesus, so much so that Jesus was actually
taken for his contemporary.
       From the nature of the origin of most of the Talmudic stories about
Jesus may be understood not only the lack of resemblance in these stories to
the actual history of Jesus, but also the impossibility of obtaining a uniform
picture from them. Moreover this has never yet been attempted by Jewish
authors, but these "precious stones" have ever been considered and
cherished only for their individual elements. (That they are not precious
stones, but fictions only, our investigation has sufficiently proven.)
      The perception of the slender value of the Tamudic stories about Jesus
must necessarily direct a Jew interested in the topic to a reading of the New
Testament accounts. And we, as non-Jews, may profit by finding in these
stories a confirmation of the miraculous powers of both Jesus and those who
followed in his name.
      May both parties be blessed as they do so.

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