Wednesday, December 01, 2004

I love studying Midrash. Here's a passage from Leviticus Rabbah, a fifth century collection of sermons and commentary:


Petichta verse (opening verse): Proverbs 29:24 -- The one who divides with a thief hates his soul -- he will hear an oath and will not tell. [In Leviticus 5:1, it says that if someone knows of wrongdoing, and hears a proclamation of an oath but does not testify, he bears the iniquity of the deed.]

Once there was one governor of Caesarea who used to beat the thieves and execute the receivers [fences of stolen goods.] The citizen were ridiculing the governor [for this policy] and said to him, "Do as is fit!" [meaning, execute the thieves!]

On the next day he sent out a hearld and he said, "All people to the open area."

He brought weasels and gave morsels to them, and closed up their dens. They seized the morsels and carried them to the dens. Finding the dens closed, they returned them [the morsels] to their place [to the original place in which they found the food.]

[He did this] to teach that all [the crime] was from [due to] the receivers. [The thieves would not be a problem, if there was no where they could take stolen goods.]


This was surely not the first case in history of a head of state with a bunch of weasels on his staff!

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