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EDUYYOT (Heb. עֵדֻיּוֹת; "Testimonies"), tractate of the Mishnah in the order Nezikin. Eduyyot is different from all other tractates in the Mishnah, in that it does not focus on a particular subject matter but rather contains a number of relatively small collections of halakhot dealing with various topics, and organized around the names of the particular sages who transmitted them. These halakhot often "bear witness" to the disputes and controversies of earlier authorities and frequently involve an attempt by contemporaries or by later sages to decide or to resolve these disputes and controversies. This general tendency of the tractate as a whole, together with the repeated use in the later chapters of the phrase "rabbi so and so testified" (הֵעִיד, he'id), probably explains the tractate's title. The tractate is also referred to in the Talmud (Ber. 27a; Kid. 54b; Bek. 26a) by the name Behirata, i.e., the "select" or "chosen" halakhot. This name seems to reflect an assumption that the traditions included in Eduyyot, having been reviewed and adjudicated by the sages, possess some special authority, as the Talmud itself explicitly states (Ber. 27a; Kid. 54b; Bek. 26a): "The halakhah of R. Judah (or Meir) is accepted as normative since his view was included in Behirata (i.e., in Eduyyot)."

Ḥ. Albeck argued that Eduyyot differs from the rest of the Mishnah because it represents an earlier stage – in fact the earliest stage – in the redaction of the Mishnah. In his opinion later redactors of the Mishnah then took most of its halakhot and included them in the various tractates and orders arranged according to subject matter, each in its own proper place. Epstein, however, argued vigorously against this view (Tanna'im, 428), and it is fair to say that no consensus had been reached concerning the date and purpose of the redaction of Eduyyot (Stemberger, 131). According to one tradition (Ber. 28a), these testimonies were pronounced on the day when *Eleazar b. Azariah was elected president of the Sanhedrin, but Epstein effectively refuted this view.

The Content of Eduyyot

The first chapter puts on record three items of controversy between Shammai and Hillel, and further items of controversy between their respective schools. There are instances where the school of Shammai disapproved of the view of Shammai, and instances where the school of Hillel eventually accepted the view of the rival school. Reasons are given why opinions which were finally rejected are nevertheless recorded in the Mishnah.

The second chapter opens with a testimony of *Ḥanina, Segan Ha-Kohanim, on four items of halakhah followed by mnemotechnical triads of sayings. R. Ishmael propounded three laws before the sages. They in their turn discussed another three laws before him. Again a halakhic pronouncement of Ishmael concerning three things is mentioned, with which R. Akiva disagreed. Then come three laws discussed before R. Akiva, and the chapter ends with two sets of five aggadic sayings by R. Akiva, and a concluding one by R. Johanan b. Nuri.

The third chapter records ten items of controversy between *Dosa b. Harkinas and the sages as well as other controversies between single scholars (Joshua, Zadok, Rabban Gamaliel, and Eleazar b. Azariah) and the majority of the sages. The fourth chapter lists items of law in which the House of Shammai was, contrary to custom, more lenient than the House of Hillel.

The fifth chapter puts on record further halakhic items in which, according to several named scholars, the House of Shammai was more lenient than its rivals. It includes one of the most beautiful aggadic passages of the Mishnah concerning the moral and intellectual integrity of *Akavyah b. Mahalalel. He gave testimony on four items of halakhah on which the majority of the sages had a different tradition. The sages urged him to retract, promising to appoint him av bet din if he did, and threatening him with excommunication if he did not; he remained steadfast. Before his death, however, he told his son to follow the majority ruling, as halakhic discipline required it. When his son, as a last favor, asked that he commend him to his colleagues, he refused, saying, "Your own deeds will bring you near or your own deeds will remove you far."

The rest of the tractate (chapters 6–8) gives a great variety of halakhot in which the word עיד ("testified") is consistently used and concludes with an aggadah to the effect that at the end of time Elijah the Prophet, in accordance with Malachi 3:23f., will settle the controversies between the sages and make peace in the world. There is no Gemara either in the Babylonian or the Jerusalem Talmud, since the various mishnayot are included in the other tractates, where they are duly discussed. There is, however, a Tosefta.


P. Blackman (ed. and tr.), Mishnayot, 4 (1954), 385ff., Eng. tr. and notes; Danby, Mishnah (Eng., 1933), 422–37; H. Al-beck, Mavo la-Mishnah (1959), 82–84; idem, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, 4 (1959), 275ff.; Epstein, Tanna'im, 424–44, includes bibliography. add. bibliography: G. Stemberger, Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (1996), 122, 131.

[Arnost Zvi Ehrman/

Stephen G. Wald (2nd ed.)]

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