ט׳ בשבט ה׳תשע״ז (February 5, 2017)

Bava Batra 14a-b: They Wrote the Books

Who wrote the books of the Jewish Bible?

The Gemara on today’s daf deals with this question.

According to the baraita:

Moshe wrote the Torah, including the chapter of Bilam’s prophecy, as well as the book of Iyov

Yehoshua wrote the book of Joshua, as well as the last eight pesukim of the Torah

Shmu’el wrote the book of Samuel, Sefer Shoftim and Megillat Rut

King David wrote Sefer Tehillim gathering the writings of ten elders:

Adam (Psalm 139 – verse 16 mentions the author as “unformed”)

Malki-Zedek (Psalm 110)

Avraham (Psalm 89)

Moshe (Psalm 90 – many say that the following 10 psalms are also written by him)

Heman (Psalm 88)

Yedutun (Psalm 39)

Asaph (Psalm 50 as well as 73-83)

The three sons of Koraḥ (42, 44-49, 84-85, 87-88)

Yirmiyahu wrote the book of Jeremiah, as well as Sefer Melakhim and Eikha

King Ḥizkiyahu and his entourage wrote Sefer Yeshayahu, Mishlei, Shir HaShirim and Kohelet

The Anshei Knesset HaGedola (the members of the Great Assembly) wrote Sefer Yeḥezkel and Trei Asar, Daniel and Megillat Esther

Ezra wrote Sefer Ezra and the genealogical parts of Divrei HaYamim

This list presents a number of challenges.

One question that is raised by the commentaries is what the Gemara means when it presents Moshe as writing the Torah and the chapter of Bilam’s prophecy. Isn’t it clear that Bilam’s chapter is part of the Torah?

The Ritva suggests that there is a separate book written by Moshe that described in great detail the story of Bilam and his prophecy, but that the book was lost and we do not possess it any longer. The Maharal explains that the emphasis is on the fact that Bilam’s prophecy is an intrinsic part of the Torah and that no one should think that it is unimportant since it is a “foreign” prophecy.

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