'EDUYOT ("Evidences" of the sages on ancient halakot; called also Beḥirta ["Choice" of halakot]):
The seventh treatise in the order Neziḳin of the Mishnah. When, after the destruction of the Temple, it became necessary, through the removal of R. Gamaliel II. from the office of patriarch, to decide religious questions by the will of the majority, there was produced, as the groundwork of the treatise 'Eduyot, a collection of unassailable traditions. From time to time more material was added to this groundwork, until the treatise was concluded on the redaction of the whole Mishnah. There is no connection between the many subjects touched upon in the 'Eduyot; and an exhaustive discussion of each is not its purpose. Even the names of the sages responsible for the halakot provide but a loose thread of union.
Following is a synopsis of the longer portions of the treatise:
- Chapter i.: In 1-3 a matter of dispute between Hillel and Shammai is again brought up for consideration; namely, the chief rules to be observed in regard to niddah, ḥallah, and miḳweh. In 7-11 the schools bring forward various decisions relating either to Levitical purity or to priestly tithes ("ṭohorot," "zera'im"). In 12-14 a group of halakot is given in which the Hillelites incline to the opinion of the Shammaites.
- Chapters ii. and iii.: Insertions in which Ḥanina, "the deputy of the high priest," reports concerning certain customs in the Temple and other precedents at Jerusalem (ii. 1-3). Each mishnah consists of three halakot, which were propounded by Ishmael or in his school, or by Akiba or in his house of learning (4-8); they are followed by two haggadic sentences of Akiba (9-10). In ch. iii. space is given to Dosa ben Harkinas, who was prominent in the disputes with Gamaliel; and matters relating to ṭohorot and zera'im are treated together with a marriage law. In 7-12 the thread dropped in ch. ii. is taken up again: it contains four questions disputed by Joshua; three by Zadok; four by Gamaliel (besides two groups of his teachings, each group consisting of three parts, which reconcile the conflicting opinions of the two schools); and three by Gamaliel's colleague, Eleazar ben Azariah.
- Chapter iv.: Continues i. 12-14 by giving the exceptional cases. Here the Shammaites appear as putting a milder construction upon the Law than the Hillelites (1-12).
- Chapter v.: Gives other halakot in which the Hillelites and Shammaites take a stand similar to that taken in the earlier chapters. These halakot are severally mentioned by Judah, Jose, Ishmael, and Eliezer (1-6).
- Chapter vi.: The opinions of new colleagues of Jose, Joshua, and Eliezer are given in continuation of ch. iii., partly treating of the same subject (1-3).
- Chapter vii.: Joshua and Judah again appear (1-7), and Gamaliel's halakot are given on the consecration of the new moon and of the leap-year, a subject of dispute at the time. In 8-9 the opinions of older colleagues are given.
- Chapter viii.: The opinions of members of the house of Beteira (1, 3) and of important contemporaries and older teachers (2, 4) are presented; also a halakah of Akiba on a marriage law, already treated, and a statement of Joshua on the future mission of the prophet (5). To this the opinions of other teachers are added.The tractate closes with an ethical teaching: "The wise men say, Elijah will not appear in order to draw some nigh and to keep others away, but in order to bring peace into the world: 'Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers' (Mal. iii. 23-24 [A. V. iv. 5-6])."
The space in this treatise allotted to each of the teachers is in proportion to his importance; and the frequent occurrence of Akiba's name is justified by the great conciliatory part which he took in the disputes of the time.
A synopsis of some of the insertions follows:Insertions.
In i. 4-6 this question is put: "Why are not the names given of the authors of those halakot which are not accepted?" The answer is: "To show that after a clearer insight they withdraw their opinions and do not abide by them stubbornly; or they are used as sources to serve as precedents in certain cases." In v. 6 Akiba ben Mahalalel is cited as having firmly adhered to his opinion; but at his death he bade his son yield to the majority. In ii. 9-10 and viii. 6-7 are sayings to encourage the people for the loss of the Temple.
The Tosefta to 'Eduyot generally follows the order observed in the Mishnah. After the introductory halakot (Tosef. i. 1-3 = Mishnah i. 1-3) and the peace exhortations (Tosef. i. 4-6 = Mishnah i. 4-6), those cases mentioned in Mishnah i. 12 are taken up in which the Hillelites yield to the Shammaites (Tosef. i. 6), the disputes between the schools being omitted. Sentences follow (Tosef. i. 8-14 = Mishnah ii. 5-10) advising a wise and moderate limitation of individual opinions where certainty is lacking in cases of dispute. After a short selection from the third chapter of the Mishnah (Tosef. i. 16-18 = Mishnah iii. 3, 6, 7), consideration is given to the occasional milder constructions of the Shammaites and the severer ones of the Hillelites (Tosef. ii. 2-9 = Mishnah iv. 6, 7, 11; v. 1, 3-5). In Tosef. ii. 9, the exceptional opinion of Aḳabia (Mishnah v. 6, 7) is considered. Tosef. ii. 10 (= Mishnah vi. 3) and iii. 1 (= vii. 2) touch briefly upon the chief opponents of Gamaliel. Tosef. iii. 2, 3 (= Mishnah viii. 5) gives laws of purification which have reference to the position of Jerusalem after the destruction. The conclusion (Tosef. iii. 4) agrees with Mishnah viii. 7. Tosef. i. 7, ii. 1-2, and ii. 6 do not wholly fit into this treatise. The last paragraph is a fragment from the Mishnah of Eliezer ben Jacob.
In general, the Tosefta took as a basis a treatise which dealt only with the chief questions regarding the day called "bo ba-yom" (that day); but the Mishnah of Eduyot is of a wider range.
- J. H. Dünner, Einiges über Ursprung und Bedeutung des Traktats 'Eduyot, in Monatssckrift, 1871, pp. 33-42, 59-77;
- Rabbinowicz, Législation Criminelle, pp. 205-212, Paris, 1871;
- Schwarz, Controverse der Schammaiten und Hilleliten, Vienna, 1893;
- Brüll's Jahrb. iv. 63-64;
- Rapoport, in Kerem Ḥemed, v. 181;
- Krochmal, Moreh Nebuke ha-Zeman, pp. 163-164 et passim;
- Klüger, Ueber Genesis und Composition der Halachasammlung 'Eduyot, Breslau, 1895;
- L. A. Rosenthal, Ueber den Zusammenhang der Mischna, pp. 37-53, Strasburg, 1891;
- idem, Ueber die Hagada in der Mechilta, in Kohut Memorial Volume, New York, 1897;
- Albert Scheinin, Die Hochschule zu Jamnia, Krotoschin, 1898;
- Rosenthal, Die Mischna: Aufbau und Quellenscheidung, Strasburg, 1903.