SEDER OLAM - Revisited

סדר עולם - חדש



What is new

Index of names


Generations  1-14
(3760 - 2080 BCE)

Generations 15-21
(2080 - 1240 BCE)

Generations 22-28
(1240 - 400 BCE)

Generations 29-35
(400 BCE - 440 CE)

Generations 36-42
(440 - 1280 CE)

Generations 43-49
(1280 - 2120 CE)

Generation 50

If you would like to support this web site and the amount of research it involves, I will be grateful and will give you access to a library of resources


Dialogue with Trypho
(3896 AM - 136 CE)

Emperor Antoninus Pius
(3898 AM - 138 CE)

The Sanhedrin under Shimon ben Gamaliel II
(3900 AM - 140 CE)

The death of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai
(3920 AM - 160 CE)

The Seder Olam Rabbah
(3920 AM - 160 CE)

Compilation of the Mishna under Juda ha-Nassi
The cure of rabies
The fair allocation
(3940 AM - 180 CE)

The Year of the Five Emperors
(3953 AM - 193 CE)

The Jews of Sardis, Asia Minor
(3960 AM - 200 CE)

Anesthesia on Rabbi Elazar
(3960 AM - 200 CE)

 Previous <<   Generation 33   >> Next

Hebrew years 3840 to 3960 (80-200 CE)
~~~ Part I ~~~ Part II ~~~

Year 3896 – 136 CE – Justin and the Dialogue with Trypho

Shortly after the Bar-Kochba revolt was crushed by the Romans, one Christian man called Justin endeavoured to convince the Jews of the Messianic nature of Jesus. It was a right time because the Jews, once again, seemed to have been abandoned by God to the harsh hands of the pagan Romans. Surely God must be angry at His people for refusing to accept the Messiah He sent to earth ! To make his point, Justin imagined that he communicated with a Jew called Tryphon with whom he would argue using the Jewish Scriptures in favour of Jesus to be the Messiah of the Jews. The written work is known as the Dialogue with Trypho.

But his arguments failed to convince anyone among the Jewish population because he
had no knowledge of Hebrew so only used the text of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Bible, and built many of his demonstrations based on erroneous assumptions in interpreting the Greek words. One famous example concerned the so-called announcement of the forthcoming birth of Jesus in the Scriptures based on Isaiah 7:14:  הִנֵּה הָעַלְמָה, הָרָה וְיֹלֶדֶת בֵּן, וְקָרָאת שְׁמוֹ, עִמָּנוּ אֵל. In the Septuagint, the word עַלְמָה which means Young Girl in Hebrew as it has been used in such sense in other parts of the Biblical text, had been translated in Greek as the Virgin ! Thus the early Christians misunderstood this verse as an announcement of the venue of Jesus. The correct translation of this verse is: Behold, the young girl shall conceive and bear a son, and will name him With Us, God (Emmanuel).

In general, the Jews rejected these Christian attempts to demonstrate that the Messiah had come, with Jesus, because of the following "messianic signs" that did not come:
  • in Messianic times, before the venue of the Messiah, the "exiles" will be gathered to the Promised Land; but, in these times, the contrary was happening, with many Jews taken as slaves to many parts of the Roman Empire, and the Promised Land changing name and ownership under the Roman yoke
  • the Temple will be rebuilt in Jerusalem; and then, at the contrary, it had just been destroyed and the holy city of Jerusalem was turning into a Roman city dedicated to a pagan god, Jupiter
  • before the venue of the Messiah, wars will prevail in the world, as it seemed to appear at this time, but, once the Messiah will come to light, peace will prevail, even in the animal kingdom when the beast will be able to live next to the lamb; yet, since Jesus had lived, wars and destructions became worse, and the holy city and the Temple were even destroyed
  • the Messiah will be a man who will come from the Tribe of Judah and a direct descendant of King David; but, in the case of Jesus, such lignage had not been ascertained
For the above reasons, and many others related to Scriptures, Jesus could not possibly have been the Messiah of the Jews. And he didn't declare himself as such either. Justin's efforts were obviously doomed to fail.

Later, Justin set to Rome in the time of the emperor Antoninus Pius where he opened a Christian school, which had to be clandestine in these times. He was denounced by a Greek philosopher, then tried and executed in 165 during the reign of Marcus Aurelius.

It is worth noting as well that the term Christian did not exist yet in these times: it will appear some years later, from the Greek version of the word Messiah translated as Christos. In the Holy Land, the early Christians were considered as a sect (min in Hebrew), like the Sadducees or the Essenes, and were called the Nazarenes or Nazoreans, because they were the followers of Jesus of Nazareth. This term will remain as such in the Eastern provinces of the Roman empire (and is still used today in Hebrew as Notzrim and in Arabic as Nasrani), whereas the Western part adopted the Greek term and called them Christians.

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Year 3898 – 138 CE – Antoninus Pius

Hadrian spent his last years in Rome, in poor health, with worries and unhappiness. In 138, he chose his successor, Antoninus Pius, who had previously served as proconsul of the Asian provinces. Before he came to power, all of Antoninus' children had died except for one daughter, Annia Galeria Faustina "the Younger"  (Faustina "the Elder" was her mother, wife of Antoninus), who married Marcus Aurelius in 145. The latter succeeded Antoninus after his death in 161 CE.

According to Tradition, Antoninus had befriended with Judah the son of the nassi Shimon ben Gamaliel. Antoninus probably met Shimon when he was proconsul of Syria as he was often stationed in Tiberias. According to Tradition, Judah was born the moment that Akiva had died at the hands of the Romans in 135 CE, thus perpetuating the scholarship of the talmudic schools. Judah must have kept a correspondance with Antoninus in Rome when the later became emperor. This correspondance (done by the means of symbols, to keep them obscure to third parties) must have started with his father Shimon, when Antoninus went to Rome to become emperor, and continued with Judah. Although Judah was young, he was very knowledgeable and wise. Some particular details of the Talmud would prove this special relationship to be correct. One example concerned his daughter Galeria who committed adultery, a circumstance that was hidden in the official History, except for rumours that were reported by other sources. Antoninus had sought advice from Judah:

The Emperor [Antoninus] had a daughter named Gilla [Galeria] who committed a sin, so he sent to Rabbi a rocket-herb,[5a] and Rabbi in return sent him coriander.[5b] The Emperor then sent some leeks,[5c] and he sent lettuce in return.[5d]
--- Talmud, Abodah Zarah, 10b

This Talmudic anecdote shows that Rabbi saved Galeria from sure punishment from her father. Some Roman sources cited the rumours of adultery concerning Antoninus' daughter:

Some say, and it seems plausible, that Commodus Antoninus, his son and successor [of Marcus Aurelius], was not begotten by him but in adultery; they embroider this assertion, moreover, with a story current among the people. On a certain occasion, it was said, Faustina, the daughter of [Antoninus] Pius and wife of Marcus, saw some gladiators pass by and was inflamed for love of one of them; and afterwards, when suffering from a long illness, she confessed the passion to her husband. And when Marcus reported this to the Chaldeans, it was their advice that Faustina should bathe in his blood and thus couch with her husband.
--- Historia Augusta, The Life of Marcus Aurelius, 19:1-2 [5e]

The difference with the story of the Talmud is that above it was said that it was her father who sought advice from the "Chaldeans", a term which would have meant people of the East and could therefore have applied to Rabbi, whereas the reality was that it was her father Antoninus who did. Yet the wife and daughter was pardonned for this moment of her life, and the official History of Rome retained that she was a good wife to her husband and honoured by him. The marriage was also blessed by a great number of children.

Faustina The Younger
Galeria Faustina The Younger (Musée du Louvre)

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Year 3900 – 140 CE – The new Sanhedrin with Shimon ben Gamaliel II

Shimon, the son of Rabban Gamaliel II who had died before the siege of Lydda, was elected to the same role of nassi as his father in 140 by an assembly of Sages who survived the last onslaught in Judea and settled in Galilee. They first established the new Sanhedrin in the city of Usha in 135 after the end of the Revolt of Bar-Kochba. Shimon participated in the revolt, like many other religious leaders who thought the Messianic times had started, but managed to escape the massacre of the last stand at Betar and could tell his companions and disciples the horrors of the Roman repression in that place.The Sanhedrin then moved to Shefaram in 140. After Shefaram, it moved again to Beth-Shearim where many Sages were later buried, and then it moved to Sepphoris in 163.

During these times, some Jews also decided to escape from Judea and re-settled  in Mesopotamia.

Entrance to some of the tombs at Beth-Shearim
(photo from the author's collection)

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Year 3920 – 160 CE – Death of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai

When Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai died in 160 CE, he experienced what is commonly called today "near death experience", or rather in his case, the experience of what is "life after death". The many people who have reported such experiences, and for some of them it was momentarily clinical death before they returned to life, all came with the same feedback: they experience being exposed to an intense bright light, and to meet people (or spirits) who had died before them (family, relatives, etc.) who seem to come and greet them, they also experience being judged with their entire life passing before them, and more. The Scriptures also report such experiences for some Rabbis and one of them was Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai who had a congregation, alive and dead, sitting with him until he died::

Rabbi Simeon wrapped himself [with the surrounding light] and sat. He opened and said (Psalms 115:17): "The dead shall not praise G-d [he mentioned the two first letters of the Tetragramaton] and not all those who go down to Dumah [a lower level where evil souls go after death]." [...] Then he said: "Here is Rav Hammnuna Saba [the Elder, who was one of Rabbi Simeon's teachers and who died earlier], and surrounding him are seventy righteous, dressed with crowns, each of them with light that radiates from the light of 'atika kadisha' [the original Light that was created in the Day One of Creation]" [...] And he said: "Here is Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair with us, prepare a place for him."
The friends that were there were in shock and they stood and moved to sit in the lower side of the house [by fear of being taken to death along with Rabbi Simeon].
--- Idra Zutra, introduction
After giving his last lecture, with a great congregation of attendees from the living and from the dead (before the gate of the death had been opened for Rabbi Simeon), he finally passed away, with a smile on his face, having felt that he had been able to give this last lecture about the time to come.

Experiences of "life after death", at least for some time or a few days, are found in the Talmud. Here are examples:

Rabbi Abbahu said: The dead man knows all that is said in his presence until the top-stone closes [his grave]. [...] For full [twelve months] the body is in existence and the soul ascends and descends; after twelve months the body ceases to exist and the soul ascends but descends nevermore.
--- Talmud, Shabbat, 152b
The death of Simeon bar Yochai occurred on the 33rd day of the counting of the Omer, so-called
Lag BaOmer, the 49 days count between Passover and Shavuot. It is today celebrated across Israel as a day of revival of both the religious and the national spirits. To read more about it, click here.

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About Year 3920 – 160 CE –  The Seder Olam Rabbah

Around the year 160 CE, the book called Seder Olam, meaning the "Order of the World", was composed by Rabbi Yose ben Halafta, a disciple of Akiva (Talmud, Yevamoth 82b, Niddah 46b). This was however a composition of the Babylonian schools, because all the Talmudic references to it are contained in the Babylonian Talmud and not in the Jerusalem Talmud. Accordingly, some believe that it was taught by Rabbi Yose in Galilee but actually composed by followers who emigrated to Babylonia to escape Roman persecutions. The fact is that the work was totally unknown to schools of Judea and Galilee.

It contains a chronology from Adam until the revolt of Bar-Kochba
. It has been referred in the Talmud and many later works since. The first printing version was published in Mantua, Italy, in 1514, less than 60 years after the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg in 1455. This point is worth stressing because it shows the importance of the work, and therefore the demand for its publication.

The Seder Olam consists of 30 chapters, but the entire period Nehemiah until the Great Revolt only covers the last chapter. Most of the chronology is thus derived from the Biblical sources, which explains that there is little added from the Hellenistic period. The Rabbinical works about Biblical chronology have been based on the Seder Olam since then.

Although the chronology from the Creation to the Exodus is fairly detailed and free from debate,[6a] the periods that follow, from the time of Joshua and the Judges until later events, are based on personal calculations and assumptions made by the author. Unfortunately these assumptions do not match other historical chronologies that have been established by the Egyptian, Babylonian and Persian records. The present work is an attempt to reconcile these differences and explain where the original assumptions were wrong in the chronology established by the Seder Olam. The main milestones between the Seder Olam and the present work are shown below:

Event Seder Olam (Hebrew Year) Equivalent Year (BCE) Seder Olam Revisited (Hebrew Year) Equivalent Year (BCE)Divergence
Creation 1 -3760 1 -37600
The Flood 1656 -2104 1656 -21040
Birth of Isaac 2048 -1712 2048 -17120
The Exodus 2448 -1312 2454 -1306+6 years
First Temple - foundation 2928 -832 2745 -1015-183 years
First Temple - destruction 3338 -422 3173 -587-165 years
Second Temple - completion 3412 -349 3244 -516-168 years
Second Temple - destruction 3829 69 3830 70+1 year

How to explain the differences?

- Up to the time of the Exodus, both chronologies are identical, simply because the chronology of the Bible is very detailed from the Creation until Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt

- For the Exodus, the main reference is that exile of the Hebrews in Egypt ended after 430 years; this duration is counted from the presumed year of the Covenant, which is not precisely dated in the Biblical text; the discrepancy of six years has been explained in the page for Generation 21 ; yet both chronologies place the Exodus during the reign of Horemheb, last Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty

- For the construction of the First Temple, it started 480 years "from the Exodus" according to interpretations of the Biblical text; so the Seder Olam added 480 to their calculation of the year of Exodus (2448) to reach the Hebrew year 2928 (about 832 BCE); but this simple assumption would make the period of Judges and Kings far too lenghty and the result does not fit any archaeological evidence about the presumed reign of David and Solomon (around 1000 BCE); this is a major mismatch compared to historical facts (for example the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by several Assyrian invasions in 744-718 BCE); the correct interpretation of these 480 years obviously ought to be different and has been explained in the page for Generation 23 - Part III which took into account 480 years from the first exit of the Bene-Israel (as of Sons of Jacob-Israel) from Egypt and not the actual Exodus; the Biblical text also mentions a period of 300 years at the time of Judge Yiftah and this specific duration is also explained in the page for Generation 23 - Part I. This issue causes a difference of 183 years between the Seder Olam and the present revised chronology.

- The destruction of the First Temple is assumed to have happened 410 years from its foundation (its construction took 7 years); and there is historical evidence for this particular event, based on the reign of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, who destroyed Jerusalem in 587 BCE; the Seder Olam has reached the calculation of this destruction as having happened in the Hebrew year 3338 which corresponds to 422 BCE, which is far too late a date to fit the historical evidence. The reason for this discrepancy is chiefly caused by the above issue (the difference of 183 years); but then there is also another issue related to the 410 years, as explained in the page for Generation 27. As a result, the difference between the Seder Olam and the present revised chronology is now of 165 years.

- The construction of the Second Temple was completed some years after Cyrus gave authorization to the Jews to return to Sion, as it was completed during the reign of Artaxerxes. The Seder Olam considers that the Temple was completed in 3412, because it attempted to fit the 420 years of its supposed duration calculated backwards from the date of its destruction in 69-70 CE (this historical date was contemporary of the compilation of the Seder Olam thus could not suffer from deviation); so 70-420 = 350 BCE which gave the Hebrew year of 3412 for the completion of the Second Temple; yet it is difficult to fit in the existence of a Persian rule longer than a few decades ! In other words, for the last part of the chronology, the Seder Olam worked backwards ("counting the years as from the Destruction of the Temple") from the fixed date of 70 CE and had to compress the entire Persian rule to a mere 34 years period in order to fit all the rest, arguing necessarily that 2 or 3 Persian kings were in reality one same emperor only:

It has been taught: ‘Cyrus [II The Great], Darius, and Artaxerxes were all one. He was called Cyrus because he was a worthy king [6b]; Artaxerxes after his realm; while Darius was his own name. All the same, the contradiction still remains? [6c] — There is no contradiction. The one verse [in Haggai] speaks of him [the king of Persia] before he degenerated, the other after he degenerated.
R. Kahana strongly demurred to this [saying], Did he indeed degenerate? 
--- Talmud, Rosh Hashanah, 3b-4a
The reason why the Talmud mentioned the tradition (It has been taught) that Cyrus, Darius and Artaxerxes were the same king (!) is because of the following verse:

And they builded and finished it [the Temple], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the decree of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
--- Ezra 6:14

The use of singular king of Persia seems to imply that the three named kings were one man only. This assumption was probably taught by the author of Seder Olam but it was a wrong assumption, which caused the chronology to have a "Persian rule" over 34 years only. The fact is that they were three different kings, and they were three decrees. First Cyrus made his famous decree after he conquered Babylon (Ezra 1:1): The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout his entire kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying. Then the reconstruction of the Temple was later halted because of the Samaritans' complaint. Then came Darius who, at the request of the Israelites to renew the works of the construction, found the decree of Cyrus and issued his own decree to authorize the pursuance of the construction (Ezra 6:12): I, Darius, have made a decree; let it be done with all diligence. And finally, under Artaxerxes' reign, Ezra received the authorization for the return of the Israelites to their ancient land (Ezra 7:12-13): Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, and so forth. And now I make a decree. Three kings, three decrees, three different reigns and times. It took three decrees to enable the Israelites to return to Sion partially, to start rebuilding the Temple, then to complete it, then to have a much larger return to Sion, followed by the time of Ezra with the compilation of the Tanakh. These three decrees mirror the three patriarchs and their merit that led to the Matan Torah. And here, with Ezra, the Torah was completed with all the other holy scriptures to form the Tanakh.

There is another proof in the Book of Daniel of the succession of four kings of Persia:

Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all; and when he is waxed strong through his riches, he shall stir up all against the realm of Greece.
--- Daniel 11:2

So who were these kings of Persia who ruled in the lifetime of Daniel? First Cyrus who conquered Babylon. Then his successor Cambyses who conquered Egypt. Then Darius who was the last ruler that Daniel knew before his death. During Darius' reign, the Second Temple was completed. Darius was succeeded by Xerxes, the 4th and great king of Persia who ruled over the greatest empire of 127 provinces (Esther 1:1) but who will also wage war against Greece, as mentioned in the abobe text. Thus there is no doubt that the visionthat Daniel had received from Angel Gabriel referred to different kings of Persia.

The calculation made by the compiler of Seder Olam, Rabbi Jose ben Halafta, raised further concern at the time of the completion of the Talmud, many years after his death:

Persian rule lasted 34 years after the building of the Temple, Greece ruled 180 years during the existence of the Temple, the Hasmonean rule lasted 104 years during temple times, the House of Herod ruled 103 years. Thence onward, one should go on counting the years as from the Destruction of the Temple. Hence we see that it was 206 years, yet you say 180 years ! — But for 26 years the Romans kept faith with Israel and did not subdue them, and therefore those years are not reckoned in the period during which Rome cast her dominion over Israel.
--- Talmud, Avodah Zarah, 9a

The revised chronology presented in this site, along with historical evidence, shows the following:

- the Second Temple was completed during the Persian rule in 516 BCE (it also corresponds to the 70 years promised by God to the Jewish exiles in Babylon). The Persian rule ended in Judea with the arrival of Alexander the Great in 332 BCE, so the Persian rule since the completion of the Second Temple lasted 184 years, not 34 years as calculated by Seder Olam

- the Greek rule started from Alexander and ended with, depending on how one wishes to count it, either the revolt of the Maccabees (167 BCE) or the establishment by Simon Maccabee of the Hasmonean dynasty (142 BCE) which was peacefully accepted by both the Seleucids and Rome; so the Greek rule can be said to have lasted either 165 years or 190 years; the 25 years difference corresponds to successive wars between the Greeks and the Jews

- the Hasmonean dynasty lasted from Simon Maccabee (142 BCE) until Antigonus lost power to Herod (37 BCE), so it is 105 years, which is in line with the Talmudic chronology

- the House of Herod lasted from the start of Herod's reign (37 BCE) until the start of the Jewish revolt (66 CE), when Agrippa II fled from Jerusalem: so this is in line with the Talmudic calculation of 103 years

- the Roman rule could be counted from the time Pompey conquered the region (63 BCE), but, as the Talmud mentions, there were 26 years from that event until the end of the Hasmonean dynasty (37 BCE) when Rome acknowledged their ally Herod as King of the Jews, against the will of the Jewish nation; so the Roman rule or influence is indeed counted from the reign of Herod (37 BCE); the 180 years mentioned in the Talmud correspond to the duration until this discussion was recorded by the Talmudists, so in year 143 CE

Ruler / Years of rule Seder Olam This chronology
Persian 34 184
Greek 180 190
Hasmonean 104 105
Herodian 103 103

The original Seder Olam has later been referred as Seder Olam Rabbah, meaning the Great Seder Olam, to distinguish it from a later complemtary work called Seder Olam Zutta, meaning the Small Seder Olam.

For the Christian world, it is interesting to note the further detail: there were 37 years from Jesus' birth (4 BCE) and his death (33 CE), and there also were 37 years from Jesus' death (33 CE) until the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE).

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About Year 3940 – 180 CE – Judah ha-Nassi, compiler of the Mishna

Shimon ben Gamaliel II died in 180. The same year, Marcus Aurelius who had succeeded to Antoninus Pius as emperor, also died. New troubles raised against the Jews:

When Rabban Simeon b. Gamaliel died, locusts [the tax collectors] came up and troubles increased.
--- Talmud, Sotah, 49b
He was succeeded as nassi by his son Judah "the Prince" because he was the one who directed the huge task of compiling the Mishna, which is the foundation for the Talmud. This was done in difficult times, when Roman persecutions were great against religious leaders and when the Sanhedrin had to move from place to place to avoid troubles. In these times (of the so-called Tanaim), there were fears that the knowledge of the Sages would eventually get lost so it was decided that a written compilation of the Oral Law was thus needed for future generations who will live under the rule of foreign powers. Judah was greatly acknowledged for wisdom in his times and, besides the surname of Judah the Prince, he is simply mentioned in the Talmud as Rabbi. According to Tradition, he was born in 135 CE, the same day when Akiva died at the hands of the Romans. But, in contrast, Judah ha-Nassi was well treated by the Romans (due to his special relationship with Emperor Antoninus Pius) and ended up becoming very rich. For climate and health reasons, he moved the Sanhedrin from Beth-Shearim to Sepphoris in 163 CE, where the Mishna was finally compiled.

The Mishna was composed with six sections:

  1. Zeraim (זרעים) – the laws related to Land of Israel and its agriculture
  2. Moed (מועד) - the laws concerning the Holy Days in the time of the Temple and in Diaspora
  3. Nashim (נשים) - the laws concerning family life and women in particular
  4. Nezikin (נזיקים) – the laws governing the person-to-person relationships, business, damages, etc.
  5. Kodashim (קודשים) – the laws concerning the "sanctity" such as sacrifices, dietary practices, prohibitions, etc.
  6. Tehoroth (טארות) – the laws of "family purity"
The mnemonic way to remember the order of these 6 sections is withthe first letter of each section to form the expression: זמן נקט

The Mishna touches every subject that governs the daily life, including medicine. One striking example shows that, maybe without knowing the true medical reason for it, the Sages already knew from the traditions of the Oral Law how to cure someone who got bitten by a rabid dog:

If one was bit by a mad dog, he may not give him to eat the lobe of its liver, but Rabbi Matthia ben Heresh permits it.
--- Talmud, Yoma, Mishna 83a

Normally the Sages did not allow to eat anything from an impur animal (such as a dog) but this rule was here overturn because it would save an individual's life. The question remains: how did the Sages know that eating the liver of a mad dog would cure an infected man who would otherwise die of rabies? This disease has plagued humanity since about 2000 BCE until a cure was found by Louis Pasteur of France in 1885 from his studies of the real nature of germs and viruses. The cure is not far off what the Talmud was hinting at, that the liver produces the blood anti-toxins which was the basis of Pasteur's discovery.

Another example of topics discussed in the Talmud is the issue of fair allocation. The problem is tackled in the case of the share of an estate of a dead man who had three wives with different respective rights:

Mishna:. If a man who was married to three wives died, and the ketubah of one was a maneh [100 zuz], of the other 200 zuz, and of the third 300 zuz, and the estate [was worth] only one maneh [100 zuz], [the sum] is divided equally. If the estate [was] 200 zuz, [the claimant] of the maneh receives 50 zuz, and of the 200 and 300 zuz [each] 3 gold denarii [equivalent to 75 zuz]. If the estate [was] 300 zuz, [the claimant] of the maneh receives 50 zuz, [the claimant] of the 200 zuz a maneh [100 zuz], and [the claimant] of 300 zuz six gold denarii [150 zuz]. Similarly if three persons contributed to a joint fund and they had made a loss or a profit, they share in the same manner.
--- Talmud, Ketuboth, Mishna 93a

These divisions of the estate do not seem quite right to first glance because one would expect the division to be calculated according to the proportion of the rights, totalling 600 (100+200+300). This is what is precisely done in the case of a 300 zuz estate, which is divided proportionally in 50, 100 and 150 zuz between each claimant. So why would the division not be "equally" done  in the case of an estate of 100 zuz, meaning each widow receives 1/3 of the 100 zuz estate? Similary, for 200 zuz estate, why  divide disproportionally in 50, 75 and 75? This is because the Talmud is more concerned with "fairness" rather than dry logic. Without fair allocation in money matters, society would be dissatisfied. The Talmudic solution to this issue has only been fully understood in 1985 and described as the "nucleolus solution" to minimize dissatisfaction between creditors who have to share the money of a bankruptcy.[7]    

Judah ha-Nassi kept his role of nassi until his death in 219,[8] and was buried in Beth-Shearim.

After the period of the Tanaim (the Sages who discussed the Mishna for the past 150 years), started the period of the Amoraim, the Sages who commented the Mishna and added many details to form what is called the Gemara. Together, Mishna and Gemara form the Talmud. The period of the Amoraim lasted about 400 years.

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About Year 3953 – 193 CE – The Year of the Five Emperors

When Marcus Aurelius died, he left a vast and powerful empire in the hands of Rome. He was succeeded by his son Commodus who was rumoured to be the son of a gladiator with whom Galeria had had an affair. Commodus behaved in a most abnormal way as a ruler, and would rather take the arena to fight as a gladiator. He was assassinated in 192, a situation which left a political crisis about his succession. Five people claimed to deserve the role of emperor in that year, and will fight one against the other by declaring themselves emperor, until ultimately only one of them survived, Septimus Severus, and defeated his last opponent in 197.

Roman Empire in 180 CE
The Roman Empire at the death of Marcus Aurelius in 180 CE
(Source Wikipedia)

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Year 3960 – 200 CE – The synagogue of Sardis

As an example of what the Jewish communities were about to be after the Great Revolt is the synagogue of Sardis, in Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. The Jews of the city petitioned the Roman authorities to obtain the right to build a synagogue for their cult. Jews had lived there since the 3rd century BCE and grew in number over the years. A Roman proquestor had already granted them the right to keep a synagogue as stated by Josephus:

"Lucius Antonius, the son of Marcus, vice-quaestor, and vice-praetor, to the magistrates, senate, and people of the Sardians, sends greeting. Those Jews that are our fellow citizens of Rome came to me, and demonstrated that they had an assembly of their own [a synagogue], according to the laws of their forefathers, and this from the beginning, as also a place of their own [a rabbinic tribunal], wherein they determined their suits and controversies with one another. Upon their petition therefore to me, that these might be lawful for them, I gave order that these their privileges be preserved, and they be permitted to do accordingly."
--- Josephus, Jewish Antiquities, book 14,234

The synagogue of Sardis had vast proportions, which gives some idea of how large the Jewish community was there.

The synagogue of Sardis
The synagogue of Sardis, model based on present ruins
(Beth Hatfusoth, Diaspora Museum, Tel Aviv)

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About Year 3960 – 200 CE – Anesthesia on Rabbi Elazar

His son Elazar, the son of Rabbi Simeon bar Yochai, was not as healthy as his father. The following circumstance is related in the Scriptures, which describes the first known use of anesthesia for medical purposes:
He was given a sleeping draught and taken into a marble chamber. They opened his abdomen and removed a basketsful of fat.
--- Talmud, Baba Metzia, 83b

Anesthesia seems to have been known since early times, in this case about 1800 years before it was officially acknowledged in the 19th century.

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[5a] The word rocket-herb is called gargilla which indicated to Rabbi the meaning of gar Gilla, or "Gilla has gone astray".

[5b] The coriander is called kusbarta which gives the meaning kus barta; barta is the daughter but kus has dual meaning, either reprove or slay; Rabbi wanted to indicate that the Emperor had the two options...

[5c] The leeks are called karethi, which means cut-off, thus indicating that Antoninus was prepared to choose a harsh sentence against his daughter

[5d] The lettuce is called hasa which also means compassion, thus indicating that Rabbi recommended to Antoninus to rather choose the other option

[5e] This text is available online; to read it click here

[6a] Chronology driven from Christian tradition is however different on this aspect; the discrepancy has been caused by the fact that Christian scholars have based their calculation on the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Bible, which was not devoid of mistakes; but the chronology based on the original Hebrew text is consensual until the date of the Exodus

[6b] Cyrus is called Koresh in Hebrew (כּוֹרֶשׁ) and this is paralleled to the word Kosher which uses the same letters

[6c] This Gemara discusses the apparent contradiction between the Biblical texts in Haggai 1:15 and in Ezra 6:15

[7] The issue has been described in an article of 1985 in the Journal of Economic Theory, issue 36, pages 195-213: Robert J. Aumann and Michael Maschler, "Game Theoretic Analysis of a Bankruptcy Problem from the Talmud"

[8] Some say that he died in 188 CE but this date would be quite short for a tenure of 8 years during which the compilation of the Mishna would have been completed

Next generation

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