ZEBAḤIM ("Animal Sacrifices"):

Treatise in the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Babylonian Talmud, dealing mainly with the laws and regulations to be observed in making animal offerings. In the Tosefta this treatise is called "Ḳorbanot" (Sacrifices), while its older name, used in the Talmud (B. M. 109b), is "Sheḥiṭat Ḳodashim" (Slaughtering of Consecrated Animals). It is the first treatise in the order Ḳodashim, and consists of fourteen chapters divided into 101 paragraphs.

Mishnah. Contents: i.-vii.
  • Ch. i.: Setting forth the intention necessary in the bringing of a sacrifice; the Passover sacrifice must be slaughtered at the proper time; by what acts performed with improper intention the sacrifice becomes unfit ("pasul").
  • Ch. ii.: What makes a sacrifice unfit, and what makes it an abomination ("piggul"); a sacrifice becomes piggul when the one who brings it intends to partake of it or to offer a part thereof later than the time prescribed by law.
  • Ch. iii.: Enumerating oversights in spite of which the sacrifice remains fit; the only wrongful intentions that can render the sacrifice unfit are the intentions to eat of the sacrifice later than the lawful time or in a place other than that stipulated by law. Passover sacrifices and sin-offerings are rendered unfit when not slaughtered with the proper intentions of making them Passover sacrifices or sin-offerings.
  • Ch. iv.: The sprinkling of the blood; the points of distinction between a sacrifice consecrated by heathen and one consecrated by Israelites; definitionof the correct intentions necessary in the bringing of a sacrifice.
  • Ch. v.: Where the various animals are slaughtered according to their different degrees of holiness; where and how their blood must be sprinkled; where and for how long their flesh may be eaten.
  • Ch. vi.: Continuation of ch. v.; on the preparation and delivering of a sin-offering consisting of birds.
  • Ch. vii.: Further regulations concerning the sacrifice of birds.
Contents: viii.-xiv.
  • Ch. viii.: Rules governing cases in which different animals or parts of different animals have been mingled, or in which the blood of one sacrifice has been mixed with that of another.
  • Ch. ix.: In which cases that which has been placed on the altar may not be removed; things which in some instances the altar, the ladder, and the sanctified vessels render holy, and the cases in which they have no sanctifying powers.
  • Ch. x.: The order of the various sacrifices; which sacrifices precede others with regard to time, and also in degree of holiness; thus, the daily burnt offering ("tamid") precedes the additional offering ("musaf") brought on Sabbaths and festivals; how the priests partake of the sacrificial meat.
  • Ch. xi.: Cases in which a garment or utensil stained by the blood of a sacrificed animal may be washed, and when it may not be washed; on the cleansing of the vessels according to the flesh of different sacrifices which has been prepared in them.
  • Ch. xii.: Priests who do not partake of the flesh of the sacrifices; in which cases the skins belong to those who bring the sacrifices, and in which to the priests; exceptions among the latter cases; where the bullocks and he-goats are burned, and under what conditions the garments of those who attend to the burning are rendered unclean.
  • Ch. xiii.: Various offenses that may occur in connection with sacrifices.
  • Ch. xiv.: Regulations concerning the bringing of a sacrifice outside of the Temple in Jerusalem; before the erection of the Tabernacle it was permitted to sacrifice on the high places ("bamot"), and the first-born officiated as priests; but after the erecting of the Tabernacle this was forbidden, and the priests of the family of Aaron officiated; the sacrificing on high places was again permitted in Gilgal, but was anew prohibited in Shiloh; in Nob and in Gibeon permission was once more granted, but the practise was finally forbidden when the Temple was built in Jerusalem; description of the sanctuary in Shiloh.
The Tosefta.

The Tosefta to this treatise is divided into thirteen chapters, and contains not only elucidating amplifications of the Mishnah, but also several interesting maxims. Mention may be made of R. Ṭarfon's acknowledgment of the wisdom of R. Akiba (i. 8), to whom he says: "I have heard, but did not know how to explain; you, however, explain, and your interpretation is in accord with the traditional Halakah. Therefore, he who disagrees with you is as though he had parted with life." Ch. vi. 11 contains a description of the altar; and xi. 1 interprets the name of the meal-offering ("shelamim") as being derived from "shalom" (peace), explaining that at this sacrifice the altar, the priests, and the offerer of the sacrifice all receive a part thereof, so that all are satisfied. Ch. xiii. 6 sets forth the length of the various periods during which the sanctuary was in the wilderness, in Gilgal, in Shiloh, in Nob and Gibeon, and in Jerusalem.

The Gemara of the Babylonian Talmud discusses and explains the several mishnayot, and contains besides some interesting haggadic interpretations and maxims. A description is given of the manner in which David decided upon the place where the Temple should be built (§ 54b). When the Jews returned from the Babylonian exile there were among them three prophets: one pointed out to the people the place where the altar had formerly stood and where it should again be erected; the second told them that they might sacrifice, although the Temple had not yet been built; and the third instructed them that the Torah should be written in square characters (§ 62a). A description is also given of how, during the revelation on Mt. Sinai, the voice of God was heard by all the nations, and how they became frightened and went to Balaam, who explained to them the import of the noise (§ 116a).

J. J. Z. L.
Images of pages