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KETUBBAH (Heb.כְּתֻבּוֹת; "Marriage Contracts"), second tractate in the order Nashim, dealing with rights and duties arising out of the contract of marriage. Ketubbah, literally, "that which is written," denotes in this tractate not so much the marriage document itself (see *Ketubbah) as the obligations statutorily contained in it. In fact, according to Mishnah 4:7–12, the usual terms of a ketubbah are binding upon husband and wife even if no document has been drawn up. The word ketubbah came to be identified with the most important provision in the marriage contract from the point of view of the halakhah, namely the sum of money due to the wife if she is divorced or widowed. Thus, throughout this tractate, phrases like "the ketubbah is so-and-so many zuzim," or "she is entitled to the ketubbah " refer to the amount due to the wife according to the ketubbah. The ketubbah of a virgin was fixed at 200 zuzim while that of a non-virgin, by rabbinical enactment, at 100 zuzim. This distinction between virgin and non-virgin as it relates to the amount of the ketubbah takes up much of the first two chapters of this tractate. In this context the proof of *virginity is widely discussed, with digressions, for most of the second chapter, into general questions of trustworthiness and evidence. Chapter 3 deals with fines payable in cases of rape and seduction (Ex. 22:15; Deut. 22:29). Chapter 4, after stating that fines for seduction to a girl go to her father, mentions other rights of the father vis-à-vis his daughter; the chapter also includes duties incumbent upon the husband even if not written in the ketubbah. Chapters 5–6 deal mostly with the mutual rights and duties of husband and wife in marital and material respects, and also touches on the question of a daughter's dowry.

Chapter 7 deals with circumstances in which a woman can demand divorce and receive her statutory ketubbah money, and gives instances in which a man can divorce a woman without being liable to pay the ketubbah. Chapters 8–9 deal with the rights of the woman to her own property and with her claims upon her husband's property after his death. Chapter 10, in the context of polygamy, deals with the problem of adjudicating the conflicting claims of several wives. Chapters 11 and 12 deal with the rights of the widow and the duties of heirs toward her (whether she is their mother or stepmother), and the position of the stepdaughter. Chapter 13 has a distinctive character, quoting various halakhot of earlier authorities (Adom and Hanan). The last Mishnah speaks of the great merit of living in the land of Israel (especially in Jerusalem), with the halakhic consequence that if a man wishes to go to live in Israel and a woman refuses to go with him, he can divorce her without payment of the ketubbah, and if she wishes to do so and he refuses, she is entitled to divorce with ketubbah.

According to Epstein (Tann'aim, passim), Mishnah 10:4 belongs to the Mishnah of R. Nathan (Ket. 93a), while 3:1; 7:10; 8:3, 7 belong to that of R. Meir, and 1:5 to that of R. Judah b. Ilai. The Tosefta has 12 chapters. Interesting differences between the marriage customs of Judea and Galilee are mentioned in 1:4. There are several independent passages of ancient origin, one of which, 4:1–3, contrasts the respective rights of the father, husband, and levir of a woman. Another, 4:9–14, lists a series of laws each beginning with the phrase, "Rabbi [so and so] expounded." A. Weiss discerned three major strata in the Babylonian Talmud to Ketubbot: The most ancient contains the opinions of Rav and Samuel and the teachings of the academy of *Pumbedita. The second stratum is that of Abbaye and Rava, who also lived in Pumbedita, but part of Rava's sayings originate from other academies. The third stratum is Papa's, and hails from his academy in Naresh. These three strata do not receive equal representation in the Gemara. Thus, although chapter 7 is replete with the opinion of Samuel on almost every Mishnah (cf. 77a, where R. Assi testified to Samuel's having delved deeply into the chapter), chapter 3 contains almost no material of this stratum and is dominated by the viewpoints of rabbis of the second and third strata. This pattern of chapter 3 is also seen in chapters 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 (Hithavvut ha-Talmud bi-Shelemuto (1943), 6–27).

Both the Jerusalem and the Babylonian Talmuds maintain that the Roman governor insisted on the jus primae noctis. According to the Jerusalem Talmud, in order to prevent this it became customary for the groom to have intercourse with his bride while she was still in her father's house, a custom which remained in effect even after the decree was no longer enforced (1:5; 25c). Another saying is that God valued the mitzvah of procreation over that of the construction of the Temple (5:7; 30a,b). The entire passage of 12:3, 35a–b is devoted to aggadic discussion, and contains biographical details about Judah ha-Nasi and his nephew Ḥiyya, and, like the Babylonian Talmud, expatiates on the virtues of Ereẓ Israel. In the Babylonian Talmud the discussions of miggo which play a significant role in the Jewish law of *evidence (chapter 2) are of particular halakhic interest, as are the references to the takkanot of Usha (49b–50a). Some of the aggadic passages to the Babylonian Gemara are of great beauty. They include accounts of rabbis dancing and singing at wedding festivities in fulfillment of the precept of gladdening bride and bridegroom (16b–17a; see also Ber. 6b); of the romance of R. Akiva (then a shepherd) with the daughter of Kalba Savua (62b–63a); Rabban Gamaliel's example of simplicity in burial (8b); and the description of Judah ha-Nasi's death and burial (103b–104a). Taking up the last Mishnah's allusion to the superiority of Ereẓ Israel, the concluding portion of the tractate is dedicated to praise of that land. The aggadic portion starts with the saying (110b) that one should live in Israel, even in a town with a heathen majority, rather than in the Diaspora, even if it be a place abounding with Jews; its concluding sentence expounds Joel 2:22, stating that in Israel even the barren trees will bear fruit.


Epstein, Tanna'im index; Ḥ. Albeck, Shishah Sidrei Mishnah, Seder Nashim (1954), 77–87; A. Weiss, Hithavvut ha-Talmud bi-Shelemuto (1943), index.

[Arnost Zvi Ehrman]