'ARAKIN(, "estimations"; the German-Polish Jews use the Aramaic form , pronounced by them 'Erchin or 'Erechin):

A treatise of the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and the Babylonian Talmud in the order Ḳodashim.

Analysis of the Mishnah.

In the Mishnah the treatise 'Arakin consists of nine chapters (peraḳim), forming in all fifty paragraphs (mishnayot). It deals chiefly with an exact determination of the regulations in Lev. xxvii. 2-29, concerning the redemption, according to fixed rates (, "estimation"), of persons or things consecrated to the sanctuary by a vow. It is presupposed by the Halakah that the above-mentioned Bible passage refers to the consecration not only of persons that belong to the one who consecrates them, but of any person; for the consecration of a person signifies nothing more than a vow to dedicate to the sanctuary the value which that person represents. Consequently, the first chapter treats of the persons capable of making such a vow, as well as of the qualifications of those whose value must be paid by the consecrator.

Following exactly the order of the Bible, the second chapter discusses the maximum and the minimum of the amount to be given to the sanctuary, according to the financial condition of the dedicator. The mention of this special cose of a maximum and a minimum gives occasion for discussing the maximum and the minimum for various religious precepts. Incidentally, many an interesting item of information is imparted concerning Temple affairs; as, for instance, certain details about the Temple music.

In a similar way, the third chapter, discussing the uniformity of assessment of values of dedicated lands irrespective of their mercantile values, takes occasion to group together all such cases of indemnity for which the Biblical law prescribes a fixed amount to be paid, regardless of attendant conditions.

After this digression, the fourth chapter lays down detailed rules for the various "estimations" mentioned in Lev. xxvii. 2-8, and at the same time intimates wherein these rules differ from those applying-to sacrificial vows and gifts.

The fifth chapter treats of particular instances; for example, the consideration of cases wherein the weight or the value of a limb of a person or a portion of his value is dedicated. This brings to anend the Halakot dealing with estimations put upon persons.

The sixth chapter is to be regarded as an appendix. It gives minute precepts relative to assessments in general, called "shum" (, in contradistinction to ), and concerning distraint for debts incurred by dedication.

After this exhaustive treatment of the estimation of persons, chapters vii. and viii. give a fuller explanation of the estimation of consecrated land found in Lev. xxvii. 16, and in addition—as in the Bible—the Halakot concerning Ḥerem ("devoted thing)," that is voted to be the irredeemable property of the sanctuary or of the priests (Lev. xxvii. 28).

The ninth and last chapter consists chiefly of the regulations concerning the redemption in the jubilee year of landed property that has been sold (Lev. xxv. 25-34). These rules are given in this connection because they have points of contact with the valuation of a consecrated piece of ground.

The Tosefta.

The Tosefta to this treatise, comprising five chapters, is of great value for the comprehension of the single articles of the Mishnah, as well as for their composition. Thus Tosefta i. 1 illustrates the exegetical basis (Midrash) for the proposition in Mishnah i. 2; and, according to the reading of Tosefta iii. 1, the difficulty in Mishnah v. 1, which provides the Gemara 19a with much matter for discussion, is removed. This treatise of the Tosefta contains also a number of explanatory amplifications of the Mishnah, as well as many points not touched in the latter.

Mishnah in the Light of Tosefta.

The Tosefta also gives to some extent many a valuable intimation for distinguishing the older and the more recent constituent elements or strata of the Mishnah. Beginning with the first chapter, a comparison of the Mishnah 1-4 and the Tosefta 1-4 shows that of these paragraphs only 1 and 4 belong to the older Mishnah compilation, and that 2 and 3 emanate from a school later than Akiba. Similarly, the second chapter betrays the work of two redactors. The compilation of the maxima and the minima in this section is probably to be ascribed to Akiba, who was the first to attempt such an arrangement of the halakic material. To the later redaction, however, is to be attributed the discussion in Mishnah 1, between R. Meïr and the Ḥakamim (sages). Likewise, Mishnah 4 and the second half of Mishnah 6 must be regarded as later additions.

The whole of the third chapter must be regarded as belonging to the older Mishnah compilation, with the exception, however, of the second half of Mishnah 2, where "Eleazar [ben Shammua]" should be read instead of "Eliezer [ben Hyrcanus]."

It is noteworthy that in this chapter (Mishnah 2) the gardens of Sebaste (Samaria) are represented as very fruitful, a characteristic which could apply only to the time previous to Bar Kokba. For this reason R. Judah in the Tosefta (ii. 8) speaks of the gardens of Jericho instead of those of Sebaste.

The fourth chapter of the Mishnah seems to belong wholly to the more recent redaction. In the fifth chapter it is difficult to distinguish old and new. Here the beginning is derived from the time before Akiba, possibly even from the period during the existence of the Temple, or, at all events, not long after; but the second half of the very same Mishnah is of a much later date, whereas the Tosefta (ii. 2) preserves the old form of the Halakah, to which the Mishnah bears the relation of an explanation and discussion. Chapters vi.-ix. also contain various compilations of Halakot, which were so much altered by the redactor that attempts to trace them back to their sources have been unsuccessful.

The Gemara.

In the present article an analysis of the Gemara, which comprises thirty-four pages, can be given only in brief outline. Starting from the word ("all"), with which the treatise begins, the discussion brings into array nearly all tannaitic Halakot, commencing with that word, to prove that this word is used to intimate that the tanna desires to include in the rule a class of subjects that otherwise would have been excluded.

This introduction to the treatise 'Arakin (pp. 2-4a) probably comes from the time of the Saboraim. Of importance are the elaborations of the Gemara on Mishnah i. 2, in regard to the sacrifices and gifts of the heathen () (pp. 5b-6b).

In regard to the second chapter, special reference must be made to pp. 8b-13b, in which, along with explanations of the Mishnah, many details are given in regard to the construction of the calendar and to customs in the Temple service.

The third chapter of the Gemara is the only one in the treatise in which haggadic material is treated at length. Pages 15a to 17a contain admonitions and precepts concerning "the evil tongue," in which it is urged that man must be careful of speech.

Chapters iv. and v. contain chiefly elucidations and explanations of the corresponding Mishnayot.

Basing itself on the Mishnah, chapter vi. gives many important regulations concerning compulsory auctions and the legal procedure in regard to them, and with regard to legal attachments (pp. 21b-24a).

Chapter vii. is devoted to the regulations regarding the year of jubilee at a time when this Biblical institution is enforced (24a-27a).

Chapter viii. treats of the regulations governing landed estate devoted to the sanctuary, when the law of the jubilee year is no longer in force (27a-29a).

The last chapter deals mainly with the laws for the sale and redemption of land and houses that have been sold, on which subject the Mishnah in the corresponding chapter contains only a few particulars.

  • Mordecai Eliezer b. David Weber, Erek Dal (commentary), Jerusalem, 1885;
  • Latin translation of the treatise 'Arakin by Magnus Ronnow, Utrecht, 1690 (only a part printed).
J. Sr. L. G.
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