Aramaic Thoughts

Aramaic Literature – Part 6 – The Mishnah

The fourth treatise of the order Mo’ed is Shekalim (shekels). This deals with the half-shekel tax that was assessed on Israelite males (Ex 30:11-16). Originally this went to the provision for and upkeep of the tabernacle. Later, it was applied to the maintenance of the temple, and is probably the tax referred to in Matt 17:24-27, since the shekel from the fish sufficed for both Jesus and Peter. This tax was assessed when the Israelite male reached the age of twenty years. One supposes that it was an annual tax, since both Peter and Jesus would have been well beyond twenty years of age when the question was posed to Peter. This treatise also dealt with other questions regarding aspects of temple worship and Levitical and priestly service. As a result of the destruction of the temple in AD 70, a number of aspects of the treatise passed into the realm of information of historical interest only.

The next treatise is called Yoma (Aramaic for “the day”) which deals with the regulations for the Day of Atonement. The subjects treated here concern the activities of the priests, such as the selection of the two goats by lot (see Lev 16). It also deals with the responsibilities of the high priest as well as how the high priest was chosen. It also discusses the Urim and Thummim. Since one of the characteristics of the Day of Atonement was that it was to be a day for afflicting oneself (Lev 23:27), the question arose as to whether this was to be active or passive affliction. For example, did one have to go sit in the heat or the cold so that he would be afflicted? The answer is that the affliction was to be passive (hence abstinence) rather than active (such as the kind of flogging of oneself, and other forms of self-mutilation carried out in some other religions.

The sixth treatise is Sukkah (Booth) or Sukkot (Booths), since it deals primarily with the observation of the Feast of Booths. As one might expect, this deals with such issues as the dimensions of the booth, the materials to be used in the making of a booth, and whether one could reuse an old booth. As with the previous treatises, some of these matters applied primarily to the situation when the temple was still in existence in Jerusalem. As a result, some of the rules have become mostly of historical interest.

The seventh treatise in Mo’ed is called Beitza (egg, for the first word in the treatise) orYom Tov (literally “good day” for its general treatment of feast days). Here the primary concern is the use and preparation of food on the feast days. This treatise also concerns how cooking vessels are to be prepared and used on the feast days. It is probable that the modern kosher practices arose originally from concerns such as these.

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Aramaic Thoughts‘ Copyright 2016© Benjamin Shaw. ‘Aramaic Thoughts‘ articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each story, along with a link to http://www.studylight.org/ls/at/  2)Aramaic Thoughts‘ content may not be arranged or “mirrored” as a competitive online service.

Copyright Statement
‘Aramaic Thoughts’ Copyright 2016© Benjamin Shaw. ‘Aramaic Thoughts’ articles may be reproduced in whole under the following provisions: 1) A proper credit must be given to the author at the end of each story, along with a link to http://www.studylight.org/ls/at/ 2) ‘Aramaic Thoughts’ content may not be arranged or “mirrored” as a competitive online service.