Bikkurim, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four

 

Introduction

This mishnah lists ways in which a hermaphrodite is similar to both a man and a woman.

 

Mishnah Four

In what ways is he like both men and women?

1)      One who strikes him or curses him is liable, as in the case of men and women;

2)      One who unwittingly kills him must go into exile, and if on purpose, then [the slayer] receives the death penalty, as in the case of men and women.  

3)      His mother must [at his birth] bring an offering, as in the case of men and women.

4)      He may eat holy things that are eaten outside of the Temple;

5)      And he may inherit any inheritance, as in the case of men and women.

 

Explanation

Sections one and two: These sections simply state that laws that apply equally to men and women, apply to the hermaphrodite as well. The hermaphrodite is neither fully male nor fully female, but he/she is fully human. Thus one who strikes or curses him is liable for a punishment. Someone who kills him, either accidentally or on purpose, is liable for the same penalty as is incurred for killing a man or a woman.

Section three: When a woman gives birth she must bring a sacrifice (Leviticus 12:6). For a hermaphrodite she brings this sacrifice at the end of a 40 day period.

Section four: All Jews can eat certain sacrifices, namely those that can be eaten outside of the Temple court, such as the pesah sacrifice. The hermaphrodite can eat these as well.

Section five: If a hermaphrodite is an only child, he inherits his father (and his mother, if his mother’s husband is no longer alive.)

 

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