TERUMOT (Heb. תְּרוּמוֹת; "heave offerings"), sixth tractate of the order Zera'im, in the Mishnah, Tosefta, and Jerusalem Talmud. There is no Babylonian Talmud on this tractate. It details the laws of terumah (the heave offering) to be given to the priest in accordance with the biblical injunctions (Lev. 22:10–14; Num. 18:8, 11, 12, 26, 30; and Deut. 18:4). There were two basic types of terumah: one was the regular heave offering or terumah gedolah ("great terumah") which the Israelites were required to separate from their own crops and to give to the priest; the other was the "tithe heave offering" or terumat ma'aser which the levites had to separate for the priests from the tithes they received (see *Terumot and Ma'aserot). The tractate gives a precise definition of these two obligations, although its chief subject is the terumah gedolah.
The Mishnah is divided into 11 chapters. Chapter 1 enumerates the five classes of persons who may not set aside terumah and the different cases in which the separation is considered valid, although the method utilized in selecting the terumah was not the correct one. Chapter 2 consists of further enumeration of cases in which the heave offering is valid, although the method of procedure followed in selecting it was not in consonance with the halakhah. An example of this is selecting clean grain as the terumah for unclean grain. Chapter 3 quotes some cases where terumah had to be given twice. The owner could empower his servant to set aside the terumah for him. The order for giving the various dues such as the first fruits, the heave offering, and the tithe is detailed, as is the procedure to be followed when one makes a slip of
Epstein has pointed to several sources and strata in Terumot. Mishnayot 4:8–9 and 4:10 record two contradicting traditions concerning a dispute between Eliezer b. Hyrcanus and Joshua b. Hananiah. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the former represent the teachings of the school of R. Judah and the latter the school of Meir. It is noteworthy that the statements of Eliezer (the last of the school of Shammai) and Joshua were so often interchanged that a prohibition was eventually imposed on any changes of this nature (Sif. Deut. 188).
The Tosefta consists of ten chapters. It corresponds in general to the Mishnah, but there are 26 mishnayot which have no corresponding Tosefta. It contains an interesting and extensive definition of the boundaries of Ereẓ Israel (2:12). One of the few aggadic passages in the Jerusalem Talmud to the tractate relates that before *Diocletian became the emperor of Rome (285–305 C.E.), he was originally a swineherd in Tiberias. Whenever he came near the school of Judah II, the young pupils would beat and mock him. When he became emperor he determined to avenge himself on the Jews and their scholars. He went to Paneas, a place at some distance from Tiberias, and from there sent a summons to Judah II, ordering him to appear before him, together with the other scholars, at the conclusion of the Sabbath. He directed his messenger to deliver the summons to Judah on Friday evening so that the scholars, who would not travel on the Sabbath, would be unable to make the journey in time and would therefore be liable to punishment for disobedience. A miracle happened, and the scholars succeeded in appearing before the emperor at the proper time. They appeased his anger by proclaiming that they scorned only the swineherd Diocletian, but obeyed and honored Emperor Diocletian. Diocletian responded that they should be cautious and never insult even a lowly Roman, since he might rise in rank and take revenge (8:10, 46b). A similar story is recorded in Genesis Rabbah 63:8. Terumot appeared in English in The Mishnah (1933, trans. by H. Danby).
Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.