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Tractate Shekalim: Chapter 4

Purposes for which moneys were drawn, and what was done with their remainders and that of other offerings.

Purposes for which moneys were drawn, and what was done with their remainders and that of other offerings.

MISHNA. (a) What was done with this money drawn? The daily sacrifices, the additional sacrifices, and the drink-offerings belonging to them were bought therewith; also the Omers a1 (sheaves), the two loaves, the showbreads, and communal sacrifices in general. The watchmen who had to guard the after-growth on the Sabbatical year were paid out of this money. R. Jose says: "One who so desired could undertake the guarding (of the after-growth on Sabbatical years) without pay." a2 The sages answered him: "Thou wilt admit thyself, that the sacrifices (from the after-growth on Sabbatical years) must be brought only from communal property." a3

(b) The red heifer, the goat that was to be sent away (on the Day of Atonement), the strip of scarlet, were paid for out of this money. The bridge for the cow, the bridge for the goat that was to be sent away, and the scarlet strip tied between the latter's horns, the canal (at the Temple), the city wall, the towers and other necessities of the city, are paid for out of the remainder of the treasury-money. b1 Abba Saul says: "The costs of the building of the bridge for the red heifer were defrayed by the high priests themselves."

(c) What was done with the balance left over in the treasury (after all the things in the preceding Mishna had been procured)? Wines, oils, and fine meal were bought with it to the profit of the sanctuary (for the purpose of selling it again to those who brought sacrifices). c1 So said R. Ishmael. R. Aqiba, however, says: "Sanctified moneys or contributions for the poor are not dealt with for profit."

(d) What was done with the remainder of the money (taken from the chests)? It is used for gold plate for the decoration of the Holy of Holies. R. Ishmael says: "The mentioned fruit (profit of the wines, oils, and fine meal sold in the Temple) was for the benefit of the altar, and the remainder of the money drawn was for service-utensils." R. Aqiba says: "The remainder of the money drawn was for the benefit of the altar and that of the drink-offerings was for service-utensils." R. Hanina, the assistant chief of priests, says: "The remainder of the drink-offerings was for the benefit of the altar and that of the money drawn was for service-utensils." The two latter would not admit of the alleged gain from fruit d1 (profit).

(e) What was done with the remainder of the incense? e1 At first the remuneration of the preparers of the incense was set aside from the treasury; the sanctification of the incense on hand was then transferred to that money, and the former was then given to the preparers in lieu of compensation e2; it is then bought back from them with the money of the new revenue: providing the new revenue was on hand in time, it was bought back with such money; otherwise, the old revenue was used for that purpose.

(f) If one devote his entire possessions in honor of the Lord, and among them are things which are fit for communal sacrifices (e.g., incense), the preparers of the incense should be paid therewith. So teaches R. Aqiba. Ben Azai answered him f1: "Such is not the right mode of procedure. The compensation of the preparers must first be separated from such possessions, then the sanctification of those possessions transferred to money; then give the separated things to the preparers for compensation; and, finally, buy them back from them with money of the new revenue."

(g) If one devote his possessions, and there are among them cattle fit for the altar, male or female, the male, according to R. Eliezer, shall be sold for whole-offerings and the female for peace-offerings to such as are in need of them; and the proceeds of such sale, together with the other possessions, shall be devoted to the treasury for the maintenance of the Temple. R. Jehoshua says: "The male are sacrificed as whole-offerings, the female are sold to such as are in need of peace-offerings, and the proceeds used for the sacrifice of whole-offerings. The balance of the possessions is devoted to the maintenance of the Temple." g1 Said R. Aqiba: "The opinion of R. Eliezer seems to me to be more proper than that of R. Jehoshua; for R. Eliezer has an even procedure, whereas R. Jehoshua divides it." g2 R. Papeos says: "I have heard that it is done according to both teachers; viz.: According to R. Eliezer if the owner who devotes his possessions explicitly mentions his cattle, and according to R. Jehoshua if he silently includes his cattle in his possessions." g3

(h) If one devote his possessions, and there are among them things fit for the altar, such as wines, oils, and birds, says R. Eliezer, the latter things should be sold to such as need offerings of these kinds, and the proceeds used for the sacrificing of whole-offerings; the balance of the possessions goes toward the maintenance of the Temple. h1

(i) Every thirty days the prices paid by the treasury are determined. If one contract to furnish flour at the rate of four Saah (for one Sela), and the price is raised to three, he must nevertheless furnish the same at four Saah (for one Sela). i1 If he contract at the rate of three and the price fall to four, he must in that case furnish four, for the Sanctuary always has that prerogative. If the flour become wormy, it is the loss of the contractor; and if the wine become sour it is also his loss, and he does not receive the money for his wares until the purchased wares have been favorably accepted as sacrifices at the altar. i2



MISHNA a. 'The Omers and the two loaves, which had to be made of Palestinian grain and of the new crop only, were bought out of the Shekalim during the six ordinary years, but in the Sabbatical year, where neither sowing nor reaping was done, where were they obtained? Men were sent out to discover where grain was growing as an after-growth, that had not been sown, and then watchmen were placed there to see that no one disturbed the crop; for it being public property, the possessor of the soil where the grain grew could not prevent its being taken. The men who discovered the grain and the watchmen were paid for their services out of the Shekalim, and such payment was regarded as the price of the grain, so that the grain again became communal property.

15:a2 R. Jose, in making this statement, holds, that one may present the community with a thing intended for a voluntary offering, and thus the man who guards the after-growth gratuitously, thereby acquiring a right to it, may donate it to the community for a communal sacrifice.

15:a3 The sages mean to say that the Omer, the two loaves, the showbreads, and the communal sacrifices must be taken from articles that were communal property from the beginning, while other sacrifices may be offered from things donated by a man who does so with a good will. (See Rosh Hashana.)

16:b1 MISHNA b. The remainder of the Shekalim, left over after the three cases had been filled, which was called "remainder of the room," was stored in a high place, access to which was very difficult, no ladder being permitted to be used. Out of this money all the accessories for the sacrifices, as enumerated in the Mishna, were procured. The details of these accessories are explained in Tracts Para and Yuma.

16:c1 MISHNA c. It is known that all those who brought sacrifices were obliged to purchase wine, oil, and fine meal for meal-offerings, and all this was purchased in the court of the Temple. In the Palestinian Talmud many things are enumerated, for which purposes the balance of the money was used; for instance, the hiring of teachers to instruct the priests in the art of slaughtering, in the halakhas pertaining to such matters, etc., also for the payment of those who investigated blemishes in the sacrifices, and a great many other things to be found in that chapter (Halakha 4).

17:d1 MISHNA d. In the preceding Mishna, R. Ishmael declares, that the balance of the money in the treasury is used to purchase wines, oils, and fine meal, to be resold to those bringing sacrifices, and in this Mishna he relates what is done with the profits accruing from such sales. R. Aqiba, however, who would not permit of selling the things mentioned for profit, declares that the money for the altar is taken directly from the balance left over in the treasury; and R. Hanina holds, that the balance of the money drawn is used for the service-utensils.

17:e1 MISHNA e. The remainder of the incense refers to the amount of incense left over at the end of the year. A quantity of incense was prepared for the whole year, and every priest would use a handful at a time; but, as handfuls are not all alike, no fixed amount could be prepared: hence the remainder.

17:e2 Compensation for labor must not be made with sacrificed articles, for the sanctification cannot be transferred to labor that had already been performed; it can be transferred, however, to actual money, and in consequence the subterfuge for the payment of the preparers of the incense was resorted to as stated in the Mishna.

17:f1 MISHNA f. R. Aqiba and Ben Azai differ in this Mishna as to whether sanctification can be transferred to labor or not. R. Aqiba holds, that labor can be compensated with sanctified articles; but Ben Azai holds, that it cannot. According to Maimonides the Halakha prevails according to Ben Azai, because in the previous Mishna there is a concurrent opinion.

18:g1 MISHNA g. The point of difference between R. Eliezer and R. Jehoshua is this: The former holds, that if a man devoted all his possessions, his intention was to devote them for the maintenance of the Temple only; while the latter holds, that the intention was to devote the possessions according to their adaptability. Hence if, among the possessions, there were objects adapted for the altar, they should be devoted to the altar; if, however, these were female cattle, which could not be brought as a whole-offering, nor, by reason of the absence of the owner, even as a peace-offering, such cattle should be sold and the proceeds applied to the purchase of whole-offerings.

18:g2 R. Aqiba holds with R. Eliezer, because, in his opinion, a man who devotes all his possessions does so with but a single intention; and this is what he terms an even procedure.

18:g3 R. Papeos said, that if the man devoted all his possessions to the honor of the Lord, R. Jehoshua would be correct, for his possessions can be used in honor of the Lord in various ways; but if he explicitly stated that he devoted his possessions for the maintenance of the Temple, R. Eliezer's opinion is proper.

19:h1 MISHNA h. The reason that R. Eliezer decrees that wines, oils, and birds should be sold, and whole-offerings brought in their stead, is because the articles mentioned cannot be redeemed with money.

19:i1 MISHNA i. Every month, bids were received from contractors for the furnishing of the necessaries for the Temple and altar for one month. The lowest bidder received the contract, and it was distinctly understood that, even if prices were raised during the month, his prices were to remain as originally contracted for.

19:i2 The Palestinian Talmud states, that the money due the contractors was paid them by the priests immediately upon the latter receiving the wares, for the priests were very careful, and never allowed flour to become wormy or wine to spoil.

Sources: Sacred Texts