E. The Caesar said to R. Joshua b. Hananiah, “I want to see your God.” He said to him, “You cannot see Him.” He said to him, “Really! [60a] Show him to me!” He went and pointed him towards the sun during the season of Tammuz [i.e., the summer]. He [Joshua] said to him, “Look at it.” He said, “I cannot.” He said, “The sun is one of the attendants that attend the Holy One, blessed be He. You say you cannot look at it. All the more [is it impossible to look at] the Divine Presence.”
F. The Caesar said to R. Joshua b. Hananiah, “I want to make a dinner for your God.” He said to him, “You cannot.” [He asked,] “Why not?” [He said,] “Because he has too many in his entourage.” [He said,] “Really! [I insist!]” [He said,] “Go set it up on the widest banks of the great sea.” He worked for the six months of the summer [preparing the dinner]. A storm came up and washed it all into the sea. He worked for the six months of the winter. The rains came and washed it all into the sea. He said to him, “What is the meaning of this?” He [Joshua] said to him, “These [storms] are like the [workers] who sweep and wash in preparation for his arrival.” He said to him, “If that is the case, then I cannot do it.”
G. The daughter of the Caesar said [mockingly] to R. Joshua b. Hananiah, “Your God must be a carpenter. For it is written, `Who hast laid the beams of thy chambers on the waters, [who makest the clouds thy chariot, who ridest on the wings of the wind]' (Ps. 104:3). Tell him to make a spool for me.” He said, “On my life!” He prayed and she was smitten with leprosy. They took her into the market place of Rome and they brought her a spool. For it was the custom that in Rome they brought a spool to anyone who was smitten with leprosy. And they sat her in the market place and she wound skeins of yarn so that people would see this and pray for her. One day he [Joshua] was passing there and she was sitting and winding skeins of yarn in the market place of Rome. He said to her, “Did my God give you a good spool?” She said to him, “Tell you God to take back what he gave me.” He said to her, “Our God gives but does not take back.”
A. Said R. Judah, “An ox has a wide belly and wide hooves, a large head and a large tail. And the ass has the opposite.” What difference does it make [to know this]? For buying and selling [one needs to know the signs of identification].
B. And said R. Judah, “The ox that Adam offered had one horn on its forehead. As it says, `This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hooves' (Ps. 69:31).”
C. [But] `With horns' implies two. Said R. Nahman, “It is written defectiva (mqrn) [implying there was a single horn].”
D. And said R. Judah, “The ox that Adam offered produced horns before it produced hooves. As it says, `This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hooves' (Ps. 69:31).” [It states,] `With horns' first and then `hooves.'
E. This supports the view of R. Joshua b. Levi. For said R. Joshua b. Levi, “All the creatures formed at the beginning were created fully mature in size, in accord with their own will, and in accord with the form they desired.” As it says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” (Gen. 2:1). Do not read the word sb'm, “all the host of them.” Rather read it sbywnm, “with the form they desired.”
F. R. Hanina bar Pappa interpreted [the verse], “May the glory of the Lord endure for ever, may the Lord rejoice in his works” (Ps. 104:31). This verse the angel of the world spoke. [Why?] At the time that the Holy One, blessed be He said, “[Let the earth put forth vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed,] each according to its kind, upon the earth” (Gen. 1:11). [He juxtaposed “Each according to its kind” to the trees.] The plants argued for themselves a fortiori: If the Holy One, blessed be He wants disarray [in the species] why did he say regarding the trees, “Each according to its kind?” And furthermore it is an argument a fortiori. What is the case? Regarding the trees that normally do not emerge in disarray, the Holy One, blessed be He said, “Each according to its kind.” Regarding us [the plants] how much more so [should he say this]! Immediately each one emerged according to its kind. And the Angel of the world uttered, “May the glory of the Lord endure for ever, may the Lord rejoice in his works” (Ps. 104:31).
G. Rabina posed a question: If a person grafted two kinds of plants [60b] what would the status of the product be according to the view of R. Hanina bar Pappa? Since he did not write about them, “Each according to its kind” will he not be liable [for a transgression]? Or perhaps because he assented to their [logic] is it as if he wrote about them, “Each according to its kind?” The question stands unresolved.
A. R. Simeon b. Pazzi raised a contradiction: It is written, “And God made the two great lights.” And it is written, “The greater light [to rule the day], and the lesser light [to rule the night; he made the stars also].” (Gen. 1:16). Said the moon to the Holy One, blessed be He, “Master of the Universe. it is possible to have two kings serve with one crown?” He said to her, “Go and be smaller.” She said to him, “Master of the Universe. [Is it fair that] because I said to you something that is proper, that I have to make myself smaller?” He said to her, “Go and rule over both the day and the night.”
B. She said to him, “What is the purpose of this? What good is a lamp in the daylight?” He said to her, “Go so that Israel will be able to calculate through you the days and the years.” She said to him, “It is not possible to calculate the seasons without the sun. For it is written, `Let them be for signs and for season and for day and for years” (Gen. 1:14).
C. [He said to her,] “Go forth. And righteous men shall be called by your name.” [The moon was named the “lesser light,” i.e., the small light. Jacob the Patriarch, the Tanna Samuel and King David were called “small.”] Jacob was called small [“When they had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, `O Lord God, forgive, I beseech thee! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!'” (Amos 7:2)]. Samuel [the Tanna was called] the small one. David was called small [“David was the youngest [i.e., smallest]; the three eldest followed Saul” (I Sam. 17:14)].
D. He saw that she was not placated. Said the Holy One, blessed be He, “May I attain atonement because I made the moon smaller.”
E. And about this said R. Simeon b. Laqish, “What is different about the goat offering for the new moon. For it is said regarding it, `[Also one male goat for a sin offering] to the Lord; [it shall be offered besides the continual burnt offering and its drink offering]' (Num. 28:15). Said the Holy One, blessed be He, “May I attain atonement because I made the moon smaller.”
A. R. Assi raised a contradiction: It is written, “The earth brought forth vegetation” (Gen. 1:12) on the third day of the week. And it is written, “When no plant of the field was yet in the earth” (Gen. 2:5) at the end of the week. This teaches us that the plants came forth but remained just beneath the surface of the ground until Adam came and prayed for them. And rain fell and they sprouted forth. This will teach you that the Holy One, blessed be He yearns for the prayers of the righteous.
B. R. Nahman bar Pappa had a garden. He planted in it seeds but they did not grow. He prayed. It rained. And they grew. He said, “This is what R. Assi meant.”
A. Said R. Hanan bar Raba, “The šsw`h is another category of creature unto itself.” [The verse is: “Yet of those that chew the cud or have the hoof cloven (the Hebrew is hšsw`h, taken to mean another type of creature) you shall not eat these: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, because they chew the cud but do not part the hoof, and are unclean for you” (Deut. 14:7).] It has two backs and two back bones. [And how did Moses know about all the creatures?] Was Moses a hunter or was he an archer [who would know all this]? This serves as a refutation of anyone who says that the Torah is not divinely inspired.
B. Said R. Hisda to R. Tahlifa bar Abina, “Go and write homilies about the [Greek term for] `hunter' and the [Latin term for] `archer' and interpret the terms.” [Cashdan: R. Tahlifa was advised to note these words as foreign words.]
C. [And consider another verse that uses a foreign term:] “There are five rulers of the Philistines, those of Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron, and those of the Avvim” (Josh. 13:3). It states there are five and lists six! Said R. Jonathan, “They had five potentates.”
D. Said R. Hisda to R. Tahlifa bar Abina, “Go and write a homily about the [term for] potentate ['rwnqy] and interpret the term.”
E. And this view disputes the view of Rab. For said Rab, “The Avvim came from Yemen.” There is another teaching to this effect, “The Avvim came from Yemen. And why were they called Avvim? [Based on these plays on the Hebrew name.] Because they despised [`wtw] their place.” Another matter: [They were called] Avvim because they lusted ['yww] for many gods. Another matter: [They were called] Avvim because anyone who saw them was seized by shivering ['wyt]. And said R. Joseph, “Every one of them had sixteen rows of teeth.”
F. Said R. Simeon b. Laqish, “There are many verses that seem to merit suppression [lit.: burning] but they are essential to the Torah.”
G. [For example:] “As for the Avvim, who lived in villages as far as Gaza, [the Caphtorim, who came from Caphtor, destroyed them and settled in their stead]” (Deut. 2:23). What do we derive from this verse? Because Abimelech swore to Abraham, “Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my offspring or with my posterity, [but as I have dealt loyally with you, you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned” (Gen. 21:23). Said the Holy One, blessed be He, “Let the Kaftorim take [the land] from the Avvim, who are the Philistines. And let Israel take [the land] from the Kaftorim.”
H. In the same manner you should state [regarding this verse]: “For Heshbon was the city of Sihon the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab and taken all his land out of his hand, as far as the Arnon” (Num. 21:26). What do we derive from this verse? For the Holy One, blessed be He said to Israel, “And the Lord said to me, `Do not harass Moab [or contend with them in battle, for I will not give you any of their land for a possession, because I have given Ar to the sons of Lot for a possession]' (Deut. 2:9). Said the Holy One, blessed be He, “Let Sihon take [the land] away from Moab. And let Israel take [the land] away from Sihon.”
I. And about this R. Pappa stated, “[The territories of] Ammon and Moab were made clean [for conquest by Israel] through [the conquest of that land by] Sihon.”
J. [Regarding this verse:] “The Sidonians call Hermon Sirion, [while the Amorites call it Senir]” (Deut. 3:9), it was taught, Senir and Sirion are names of mountains of the Land of Israel. This teaches that every one of the nations of the world went and built for itself a great city and named it after a mountain of the Land of Israel. This teaches you that even the mountains of the Land of Israel are beloved to the nations of the world.
K. In the same manner [you may interpret this verse:] “And as for the people, he removed them to the city [from one end of Egypt to the other]” (Gen. 47:21). What do we derive from this verse? So that [the Egyptians] will not call his brothers [exiles, since they themselves were moved from their cities].