Sanhedrin, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four

 

Introduction

Mishnah four lists those crimes for which one is stoned and begins to explain them.

 

Mishnah Four

The following are stoned:

1)                     He who has (1) sexual relations with his mother, (2) with his father’s wife, (3) with his daughter-in-law, (4) with a male; (5) with a beast; (6) a woman who commits bestiality with a beast; (7) a blasphemer; (8) an idolater; (9) one who gives of his seed to molech; (10) a necromancer or a wizard; (11) one who desecrates the Sabbath; (12) he who curses his father or mother; (13) he who commits adultery with a betrothed woman; (14) one who incites [individuals to idolatry]; (15) one who seduces [a whole town to idolatry];  (16)  a sorcerer; (17) and a wayward and rebellious son.

2)                     He who has sexual relations with his mother incurs a penalty in respect of her both as his mother and as his father’s wife.  

a)                                           R. Judah says:  “He is liable in respect of her as his mother only.”

3)                     He who has sexual relations with his father’s wife incurs a penalty in respect of her both as his father’s wife, and as a married woman, both during his father’s lifetime and after his death, whether she was widowed from betrothal or from marriage.  

4)                     He who has sexual relations with his daughter-in-law incurs a penalty in respect of her both as his daughter-in-law and as a married woman, both during his son’s lifetime and after his death, whether she was widowed from betrothal or from marriage.

5)                     He who has sexual relations with a male or a beast, and a woman that commits bestiality: if the man has sinned, how has the animal sinned?

a)                                           But because the human was enticed to sin by the animal, therefore scripture ordered that it should be stoned.

b)                                          Another reason is that the animal should not pass through the market, and people say, this is the animal on account of which so and so was stoned.

 

Explanation

This mishnah lists all of those who are executed by stoning and then begins to explain some of the details.  Most of these crimes are specifically listed in the Torah as being punishable by stoning.  Some are learned through an analogy with other crimes.  We will mention the verses for each crime.(1) one who has sexual relations with his mother:  Leviticus 18:7, 20:11.  (2) with his father’s wife:  Leviticus 18:8, 20:11.  (3) with his daughter -in-law:  Leviticus 20:12.  (4) with a male: Leviticus 20:13.  (5) with a beast:  Leviticus 20:15.  (6) a woman who commits bestiality with a beast:  Leviticus 20:16. (7) a blasphemer:  Leviticus 24:15-16.  (8) an idolater:  Deuteronomy 17:2-5.  (9) one who gives of his seed to molech:  Leviticus 20:2.  (10) a necromancer or a wizard:  Leviticus 20:27.  (11) one who desecrates the Sabbath:  Number 15:35.  (12) he who curses his father or mother:  Exodus 21:17, Leviticus 20:9.  (13) he who commits adultery with a betrothed woman:  Deuteronomy 22:23-24.  (14) one who incites [individuals to idolatry:  Deuteronomy 13:7-11.  (15) one who seduces [a whole town to idolatry]: Deuteronomy 13:7-11.  (16)  a sorcerer:  Exodus 22:17, Deuteronomy 18:10.  (17) a wayward and rebellious son:  Deuteronomy 21:18-21.

The rest of chapter seven will deal with the first 16 of these issues.

Section two:  One who has relations with his mother incurs two crimes, one for having relations with his mother and a separate crime for having relations with his father’s wife.  Of course there is no practical difference with regards to how many crimes he has committed if he is to incur the death penalty, since you can only kill a man once.  There is a difference though if the relations were accidental (such as he didn’t know that she was his mother).  In such a case he must bring a sacrifice to make atonement.  Our mishnah teaches that he will have to bring two sacrifices. Rabbi Judah holds that he is obligated for only one sacrifice.

Section three:  One who has relations with his father’s wife (not his mother) is obligated for having relations with a married woman and with his father’s wife.  He is obligated no matter if his father is alive or has already died and she is now his widow.  Similarly, he is obligated even if she was only betrothed to his father, but not fully married.

Section four:  All of the same laws with regards to the prohibition of having relations with one’s father’s wife are true with regards to one’s son’s wife.

Section five:  This section deals with bestiality.  According to Leviticus 20:15-16, an animal who has had sexual relations with a man or woman is to be killed.  Our mishnah asks why should the animal be killed.  After all it certainly had no control over its actions.  The mishnah supplies two answers:  1)  since it caused a man or woman to sin.  Perhaps we are concerned that another person might also sin with this animal.  2)  So people will not be reminded of the crime every time they see the animal.  

 

 

 

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