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Tractate Shekalim: Synopsis of Subjects


MISHNA a treats of: What were the duties of the Beth Din in the month of Adar in the time of the second Temple. When the Megillah (Book of Esther) was to be read in the fortified cities. For what purpose messengers were sent out, and what were the things to be heralded.

MISHNA b treats of: What was the punishment for not obeying the commandments of Kelayim in the former times and later.

MISHNA c deals with: When the money-changers, with their tables, began their work in the countries of Judea and in Jerusalem. The time for pledges which were taken for not paying the Shekalim. From what persons the pledges were to be taken. If a father might pay the Shekalim for his children.

MISHNA d treats of: What ordinance Ben Buchri proclaimed in Jamnia in behalf of the priests, and what R. Johanan b. Zakkai rejoined. The defence of the priests, with their interpretation of biblical passages, which was accepted only for the sake of peace.

MISHNA e treats of: The voluntary payment of Shekalim from women, slaves, and minors being accepted, but not from the heathens or Samaritans. Bird-offerings not accepted from persons affected with venereal diseases or from women after confinement. Sin and vow offerings, however, were accepted from the Samaritans. The vow-offerings were also accepted from heathens. The general rule concerning this.

MISHNA f deals with: The premium one had to pay in addition to the half-shekel. Who was obliged to do so? The different opinions of the sages and R. Meir. How much one had to pay if given one Selah and taking a shekel in exchange,

MISHNA g treats of: The law concerning one who pays for a poor man, for a neighbor, and for a countryman. Law concerning brothers and partners paying together; also, law regarding cattle-tithe. How much was the premium.


MISHNA a. One may put together the Shekalim and exchange them for a gold coin called Darkon. Concerning the chests which were given to the collectors in the country and at Jerusalem. What is the law if money were stolen or lost by the messengers of a city, when a portion of the Shekalim was already expended; what is the law if not expended.

MISHNA b. Concerning the law when one gives his shekels to another to pay his head-taxes for him; if he pays his shekels from the money of the second tithes or from the money of the fruit of the Sabbatical year. Concerning how he shall replace it and use it for the same purpose.

MISHNA c. The law concerning one who gathered single coins little by little and said: "With this money I shall pay my shekels." The different opinions of the schools of Hillel and Shamai in this matter. Concerning the same case when one gathers money for sin-offerings. What shall be done with the eventual remains of such money.

MISHNA d. Concerning the explanation of R. Simeon of the teachings of the school of Hillel. The discussion of the former with R. Jehudah. The claims of the latter that the coins of the Shekalim were also changed in times and places. The rejoinder of R. Simeon to this.

MISHNA e. The law concerning the remainder of money intended for Shekalim when considered to be ordinary. Regarding the remainder of the tenth part of an ephah, bird-offerings, and guilt-offerings: what shall be done with it. A rule concerning this matter. Also, regulations concerning the remainder of Passover sacrifices, Nazarite offerings, the remainder of moneys for the poor in general and individuals, of money for prisoners, for burial of the dead, and R, Meir and R. Nathan's opinions regarding this matter.


MISHNA a. Regarding the appointed periods of the year when the money was drawn from the treasury. The different opinions, concerning this matter, of R. Aqiba b. Asai, R. Eliezer, and R. Simeon. The same time appointed for cattle-tithes.

MISHNA b. Concerning the ceremony of drawing the money at all periods of the year. The law regarding measures of the boxes in which the coins of the Shekalim were filled, and the numbers of the chests in which the money was drawn from the boxes for the expenses of the Temple. Which box must be opened first, and which last. What garments the person drawing the money must wear. How a man must stand unblemished before his fellow-man and before his God.

MISHNA c. Concerning the custom of the house of Rabban Gamaliel, when the members of the house had paid their Shekalim. The law regarding one who drew money did not commence until he had said to the bystanders, "I will now draw," and they answered, "Draw, draw, draw," three times.

MISHNA d. Concerning the covering of the boxes after drawing the money. For which countries the drawings were performed in the first period, the second, and the third.


MISHNA a. What was done with the money drawn? Concerning the watchmen that were sent out to guard the after-growth of the Sabbatical year, of which the Omer and two loaves were taken for sacrifice. The opinion of R. Jose in this matter, and what the rabbis answered.

MISHNA b. Concerning the red heifer, the goat that was to be sent away, the strip of scarlet, the bridge for the cow, the bridge for the goat, the canal, the city wall, the towers, and other necessities of the city: all were paid for out of the Shekalim money. What Abba Saul said.

MISHNA c. What was done with the balance of the money left over in the treasury. The discussion of R. Ishmael and R. Aqiba in this matter. Some of the many things which are enumerated in the Palestinian Talmud and which were done with this money. Among them was the hiring of teachers for priests to teach them the laws of the sacrifices.

MISHNA d. What was done with the remainder of the moneys of the chest. The different opinions of R. Ishmael, R. Aqiba, and R. Hanina, the assistant chief of the priests, concerning profit: if it might be raised from the remaining money or not, and of what money the gold plates for the decorations of the Holy of Holies were made. Also, concerning the benefit of the altar.

MISHNA e. What was done with the remainder of the incense (as the incense of the New Year must be bought with the new Shekalim money). The sanctification of the incense on hand then transferred to that money, and then redeemed with the money of the new revenue.

MISHNA f. Concerning the law when one devoted his entire possessions in honor of the Lord: what should be done with them. The discussions of R. Aqiba and Ben Asai regarding this matter.

MISHNA g. Concerning the law when one devoted his possessions, and among them were cattle, male and female, fit for the altar. The discussions of this matter between R. Eliezer and R. Jehoshua. R. Aqiba is inclined to the opinion of R. Eliezer, which seems to him to be more proper, but adds that he had heard that both opinions were right according to circumstances.

MISHNA h. If one devote his possessions, and among them are things fit for the altar, such as wines, oils, and birds, what should be done with them. R. Eliezer decreed it, and no one opposed him.

MISHNA i. Contractors, for the delivery of all things for the altar and the improvements of the Temple, were appointed every month; but if the prices changed during the thirty days, the Sanctuary must not suffer any injury. Such was the agreement made between them. The illustration of this.


MISHNA a. Concerning some names of the offices and the heads of them in the Sanctuary during the entire period when the second Temple was in existence. What were the officers' duties, and how they officiated.

MISHNA b. Concerning the order of the head officers; namely, the king, the high priest, his assistant, two catholicoses, and seven chamberlains, not less than two officers being put in charge of public moneys.

MISHNA c. Regarding the seals that were in the Sanctuary, serving for the beverages and meat-offerings which must be brought, according to the Bible, with every sacrifice. Concerning the inscription on the seals and their usage. Ben Azai added one seal for the poor sinner. The names of the officers, of the seal-keeper and the officer who sells the above offerings.

MISHNA d. The date must be put on every seal. The law regarding surplus money being found in the treasury of the seal-keeper: to whom it belongs; and if a deficit, who must supply it.

MISHNA e. The law concerning one who lost his seal; what must be done.

MISHNA f. Concerning the two chambers in the Sanctuary, of which one was called "Chamber of Silence" and the other "Chamber of Utensils." What was done there, during what time they were investigated, and what was done with the presented utensils which were useless for the Temple.


MISHNA a. Concerning the thirteen covered chests and thirteen tables which were in the Sanctuary. How many prostrations took place in the Sanctuary. How R. Gamaliel and R. Hanina, assistant chief of the high priest, added one in the place where the ark was hidden.

MISHNA b. Relates how a blemished priest who was engaged in selecting and peeling wood had noticed the place where the ark was hidden, but before he had time to tell it to the others he expired.

MISHNA c. Concerning the directions where the prostrations were made. How many gates were in the Temple: their names, and why they were so named; also, different opinions of the sages concerning this. There were two gates which were nameless.

MISHNA d. Of what material the thirteen tables were made, where they stood, for what purpose they were used. Concerning the golden table in the Temple itself, upon which the showbreads were constantly lying.

MISHNA e. Concerning the inscriptions on the thirteen covered chests in the Sanctuary, and what was done with them. The different opinions of R. Jehudah and the sages as to using certain money put in some chests.

MISHNA f. Concerning the amount of articles to be furnished in payment of a vow one made, who did not explain how much he intended to give; for instance, wood, incense, gold coins, etc. A rule that was made concerning this. The hides of all sacrifices belong to the priest.


MISHNA a. If money was found in between the differently marked chests, to which chest the money belonged. Concerning this the rule was: One must be guided by the proximity, even in the case of the less important, etc.

MISHNA b. Concerning money found in Jerusalem, in the court of the Temple, in the times of the Festivals and in the ordinary times'.

MISHNA c. Concerning meat found in the court of the Temple, in the city, and any place where Israelites resided and where Gentiles and Israelites together resided.

MISHNA d. Concerning cattle found between Jerusalem and Migdal Eder, and in the vicinity of the city in all directions: what the law prescribes. The different opinions of some sages.

MISHNA e. Relates how, in former days, the finder of such cattle was pledged to bring drink-offerings, and how afterwards the high court decreed to furnish them from the public moneys.

MISHNAS f and g. R. Simeon named seven decrees which were promulgated by the high court, and the above decree was one of them. R. Jehudah, however, does not agree on some points with him. R. Jose has also something to say about this.


MISHNA a. Concerning streets in which people must walk during the time of the Festival in Jerusalem, for, the sake of cleanness. The different opinions, in this matter, of R. Meir and the sages.

MISHNA b. Regarding utensils found on the way towards the plunge-baths: if they are clean or not, and the different opinions of R. Meir and R. Jose.

MISHNA c. Regarding the butcher-knife, if it was found in the street on the 4th of Nissan; and what is the case if the 14th falls on a Sabbath.

MISHNA d. Concerning where the curtain of the Sanctuary must be submerged if it become defiled. The first time it was submerged it was spread out for the people to admire the beauty of the work.

MISHNA e. What Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel had to tell in the name of Simeon, the son of the assistant high priest. How the curtain was made: the great amount of the cost and how many hundred priests were required to submerge it.

MISHNA f. If meat of the Holy of Holies became defiled, where it must be burned. The different opinions of the schools of Shamai and Hillel on this point.

MISHNA g. The different opinions of R. Eliezer and R. Aqiba concerning anything that had become defiled through a principal uncleanness.

MISHNA h. The joints of the daily sacrifices, where they were laid down; the sacrifices of the new moon, where they were placed, The payment of Shekalim, if it was obligatory after the destruction of the Temple. The same law regarding cattle-tithe, tithes of grain, and deliverance of the firstlings. The law if one sanctified Shekalim or firstlings after the destruction of the Temple.

Sources: Biblical Texts

xiii:1 See introduction to synopsis in Tract Sabbath, Vol. I., p. xxix. This tract has no Gemara. The synopsis contains the Mishnas, with their commentaries.