The subject of Jesus in the Talmud is the study of Talmudic passages that are believed by scholars to refer to Jesus of Nazareth. The name used for Jesus in the Talmud is "Yeshu" (ישו) or "Yeshu ha-Notzri" (ישו הנוצרי). Some of the claims made about Jesus in the Talmud are also echoed by the famous text Toledot Yeshu.
This page quotes the most famous passages, along with some brief commentary explaining difficult terms. For more information, refer to the Wikipedia article Jesus in the Talmud.
Quotes from the Talmud
- אֲזַל אַסְּקֵיהּ בִּנְגִידָא לְיֵשׁוּ הַנּוֹצְרִי אֲמַר לֵיהּ מַאן חֲשִׁיב בְּהָהוּא עָלְמָא אֲמַר לֵיהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל מַהוּ לְאִדַּבּוֹקֵי בְּהוּ אֲמַר לֵיהּ טוֹבָתָם דְּרוֹשׁ רָעָתָם לֹא תִּדְרוֹשׁ כׇּל הַנּוֹגֵעַ בָּהֶן כְּאִילּוּ נוֹגֵעַ בְּבָבַת עֵינוֹ אֲמַר לֵיהּ דִּינֵיהּ דְּהָהוּא גַּבְרָא בְּמַאי אֲמַר לֵיהּ בְּצוֹאָה רוֹתַחַת דְּאָמַר מָר כׇּל הַמַּלְעִיג עַל דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים נִידּוֹן בְּצוֹאָה רוֹתַחַת תָּא חֲזִי מָה בֵּין פּוֹשְׁעֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לִנְבִיאֵי אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם
- Gittin 57a:3–4
Onkelos then went and raised Jesus the Nazarene from the grave through necromancy. Onkelos said to him: Who is most important in that world where you are now? Jesus said to him: The Jewish people. Onkelos asked him: Should I then attach myself to them in this world? Jesus said to him: Their welfare you shall seek, their misfortune you shall not seek, for anyone who touches them is regarded as if he were touching the apple of His [God's] eye.Onkelos said to him: What is the punishment of that man, a euphemism for Jesus himself, in the next world? Jesus said to him: He is punished with boiling excrement. As the Master said: Anyone who mocks the words of the Sages will be sentenced to boiling excrement. And this was his sin, as he mocked the words of the Sages.
- "Boiling excrement" is a translation of Tzoah Rotachat (Hebrew: צוֹאָה רוֹתַחַת), which is a location in hell where certain souls are sent for extreme punishment without relief.
- The name used for Jesus in the Talmud is "Yeshu" (ישו) or, as in this passage, "Yeshu ha-Notzri" (ישו הנוצרי), which is translated as "Jesus the Nazarene". Note that "Yeshu" (ישו) is an alternative spelling of Yeshua (ישוע), Jesus' presumed name in Hebrew. The Talmudic spelling ישו may be seen as a pun on יש״ו (y.sh.v.), an acronym for yimakh shemo v'zikhro (יִמַּח שְׁמוֹ וְזִכְרוֹ), which means "may his name and memory be obliterated" (one of the strongest curses in the Hebrew language). Indeed, in some Ultra-Orthodox Jewish newspapers, ישו is spelled יש״ו on purpose. The spelling ישו is also used in the Sefer Toledot Yeshu (ספר תולדות ישו), an alternative biography of Jesus which echoes many of the Talmudic claims. However, the proper spelling of Jesus' Hebrew name is believed to be "Yeshua" (ישוע), with an ayin (ע) at the end. From this derive the Greek form Iesous (Ἰησοῦς), the Latin form Iesus (IESVS), and the modern form Jesus. The Arabic form Isa (عِيسَى) might derive from the Aramaic Yeshuu (ܝܫܘܥ), which can be read as Isho.
- The phrase "apple of His eye" (אִישׁוֹן עֵינוֹ) is a reference to the doctrine of Jews as God's chosen people. Under this view, the Jews are the apple of God's eye because they are at the center of His attention.
- Onkelos is the alleged translator of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic, the Targum Onkelos. (He is sometimes confused with Aquila of Sinope, the translator of the Hebrew Bible into Greek.)
- תְּהֵא שְׂמֹאל דּוֹחָה וְיָמִין מְקָרֶבֶת לֹא כֶּאֱלִישָׁע שֶׁדְּחָפוֹ לְגֵחֲזִי בִּשְׁתֵּי יָדָיו וְלֹא כִּיהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן פְּרַחְיָה שֶׁדְּחָפוֹ לְיֵשׁוּ הַנּוֹצְרִי מִתַּלְמִידָיו בִּשְׁתֵּי יָדָיו
- Sotah 47a:6
- It should always be the left, weaker, hand that pushes another away and the right, stronger, hand that draws him near. In other words, even when a student is rebuffed, he should be given the opportunity to return. This is not like Elisha, who pushed Gehazi away with both hands, and not like Yehoshua ben Peraḥya, who pushed Jesus the Nazarene, one of his students, away with both hands.
- כִּי אֲתָא אִקְּלַע לְהָהוּא אוּשְׁפִּיזָא קָם קַמַּיְיהוּ בִּיקָרָא שַׁפִּיר עָבְדִי לֵיהּ יְקָרָא טוּבָא יָתֵיב וְקָא מִשְׁתַּבַּח כַּמָּה נָאָה אַכְסַנְיָא זוֹ אֲמַר לֵיהּ יֵשׁוּ הַנּוֹצְרִי רַבִּי עֵינֶיהָ טְרוּטוֹת אֲמַר לֵיהּ רָשָׁע בְּכָךְ אַתָּה עוֹסֵק אַפֵּיק אַרְבַּע מְאָה שִׁפּוּרֵי וְשַׁמְּתֵיהּ כׇּל יוֹמָא אֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ וְלָא קַבְּלֵיהּ
- Sotah 47a:13
- When he came back to Eretz Yisrael, Rabbi Yehoshua arrived at a certain inn. The innkeeper stood before him, honoring him considerably, and overall they accorded him great honor. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Peraḥya then sat and was praising them by saying: How beautiful is this inn. Jesus the Nazarene, one of his students, said to him: My teacher, but the eyes of the innkeeper's wife are narrow [terutot]. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Peraḥya said to him: Wicked one, is this what you are engaged in, gazing at women? He brought out four hundred shofarot and excommunicated him. Every day Jesus would come before him, but he would not accept his wish to return.
- Variant: "So Yehoshua ben Peraḥya sent out four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him."
- יוֹמָא חַד הֲוָה קָרֵי קְרִיַּת שְׁמַע אֲתָא לְקַמֵּיהּ הֲוָה בְּדַעְתֵּיהּ לְקַבּוֹלֵיהּ אַחְוִי לֵיהּ בִּידֵיהּ סְבַר מִדְחָא דָּחֵי לֵיהּ אֲזַל זְקַף לְבֵינְתָּא פַּלְחַאּ אֲמַר לֵיהּ חֲזוֹר בָּךְ אֲמַר לֵיהּ כָּךְ מְקוּבְּלַנִי מִמְּךָ כׇּל הַחוֹטֵא וּמַחְטִיא אֶת הָרַבִּים אֵין מַסְפִּיקִין בְּיָדוֹ לַעֲשׂוֹת תְּשׁוּבָה דְּאָמַר מָר יֵשׁוּ הַנּוֹצְרִי כִּישֵּׁף וְהִסִּית וְהִדִּיחַ וְהֶחְטִיא אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל
- Sotah 47a:14
- One day, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Peraḥya was reciting Shema when Jesus came before him. He intended to accept him on this occasion, so he signaled to him with his hand to wait. Jesus thought he was rejecting him entirely. He therefore went and stood up a brick and worshipped it as an idol. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Peraḥya said to him: Return from your sins. Jesus said to him: This is the tradition that I received from you: Anyone who sins and causes the masses to sin is not given the opportunity to repent. The Gemara explains how he caused the masses to sin: For the Master said: Jesus the Nazarene performed sorcery, and he incited the masses, and subverted the masses, and caused the Jewish people to sin.
- Variant: "So Yeshu went, hung a brick, and bowed down to it and worshipped it."
- בערב הפסח תלאוהו לישו והכרוז יוצא לפניו מ' יום ישו יוצא ליסקל על שכישף והסית והדיח את ישראל כל מי שיודע לו זכות יבא וילמד עליו ולא מצאו לו זכות ותלאוהו בערב הפסח
- Sanhedrin 43a:20
- On Passover Eve they hung the corpse of Jesus the Nazarene after they killed him by way of stoning. And a crier went out before him for forty days, publicly proclaiming: Jesus the Nazarene is going out to be stoned because he practiced sorcery, incited people to idol worship, and led the Jewish people astray. Anyone who knows of a reason to acquit him should come forward and teach it on his behalf. And the court did not find a reason to acquit him, and so they stoned him and hung his corpse on Passover Eve.
- הוא מסית הוא ורחמנא אמר (דברים יג, ט) לא תחמול ולא תכסה עליו אלא שאני ישו דקרוב למלכות הוה
- Sanhedrin 43a:21
- Was Jesus the Nazarene worthy of conducting a search for a reason to acquit him? He was an inciter to idol worship, and the Merciful One states with regard to an inciter to idol worship: "Neither shall you spare, neither shall you conceal him" (Deuteronomy 13:9). Rather, Jesus was different, as he had close ties with the government, and the gentile authorities were interested in his acquittal. Consequently, the court gave him every opportunity to clear himself, so that it could not be claimed that he was falsely convicted.
- ונגע לא יקרב באהלך שלא יהא לך בן או תלמיד שמקדיח תבשילו ברבים [כגון ישו הנוצרי]
- Sanhedrin 103a:14
- "Overcooks his food in public" is possibly a reference to pagan sacrifices, or to sexual misconduct.
- תַּנְיָא, אָמַר לָהֶן רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר לַחֲכָמִים: וַהֲלֹא בֶּן סָטָדָא הוֹצִיא כְּשָׁפִים מִמִּצְרַיִם בִּסְרִיטָה שֶׁעַל בְּשָׂרוֹ? אָמְרוּ לוֹ: שׁוֹטֶה הָיָה, וְאֵין מְבִיאִין רְאָיָה מִן הַשּׁוֹטִים. ״בֶּן סָטָדָא״? בֶּן פַּנְדִּירָא הוּא! אָמַר רַב חִסְדָּא: בַּעַל ״סָטָדָא״, בּוֹעֵל ״פַּנְדִּירָא״. בַּעַל פַּפּוּס בֶּן יְהוּדָה הוּא? אֶלָּא אִמּוֹ ״סָטָדָא״. אִמּוֹ מִרְיָם מְגַדְּלָא שְׂעַר נְשַׁיָּא הֲוַאי? אֶלָּא כִּדְאָמְרִי בְּפוּמְבְּדִיתָא: סְטָת דָּא מִבַּעְלַהּ.
- Shabbat 104b:5
- It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer said to the Rabbis: Didn't the infamous ben Stada take magic spells out of Egypt in a scratch on his flesh? They said to him: He was a fool, and you cannot cite proof from a fool. That is not the way that most people write. Incidentally, the Gemara asks: Why did they call him ben Stada, when he was the son of Pandeira? Rav Ḥisda said: His mother's husband, who acted as his father, was named Stada, but the one who had relations with his mother and fathered him was named Pandeira. The Gemara asks: Wasn't his mother's husband Pappos ben Yehuda? Rather, his mother was named Stada and he was named ben Stada after her. The Gemara asks: But wasn't his mother Miriam, who braided women's hair? The Gemara explains: That is not a contradiction. Rather, Stada was merely a nickname, as they say in Pumbedita: This one strayed [setat da] from her husband.
- This cryptic passage is believed to refer to Jesus of Nazareth, who is called "ben Stada" (son of Stada). The passage argues that he was an illegitimate child because his mother engaged in adultery with a different man named Pandeira (sometimes spelled Pantera), who, according to Celsus, was a Roman soldier. The phrase "braided woman's hair" is also suggestive of indecent behavior. Moreover, the passage claims that Jesus learned black magic in Egypt.
Quotes about the Talmud
- Our rabbinic texts, all in the Bavli, emphasize that Jesus, the new Balaam, does not have a portion in the world to come: his fate is that he must be punished in hell forever, with no chance of redemption—and the same is true for his followers: they better give up any hope of earning eternal life in his succession, as his apostles promise.
- Peter Schäfer: Jesus in the Talmud, p. 111. Princeton University Press, 2007.
- But a problem here is this: the details of this story don't really correspond to what we know about Jesus from the Christian scriptures. That Jesus worshipped some kind of a rock? Where did that come from? Now, again, some rabbis take the point of view—listen carefully—that yes, the true story of Jesus is in our Talmud, not in the Christian Bible. Meaning that when you have a problem of reconciling the Christian version of who Jesus was with the Jewish versions, some rabbis take the point of view: "Yeah, the Talmud gets it right. And the Christian scriptures? It's not accurate." So the fact that there is no story in the Gospels of Jesus taking a rock and bowing down to it and serving it and worshipping it: "Who cares?" they would say. "That's what he was all about."
- At the conclusion of a class at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2000, during which I quoted passages from the New Testament, a student approached me and asked whether I would be citing more quotes in future classes. I told her that I would give her two answers. The first: yes. The second: In all the 2,700 pages of the Babylonian Talmud, there is only one quotation from a non-Jewish book, namely from the New Testament (Babylonian Talmud Tractate Shabbat 116a-b). What is allowed to the Talmud is allowed also to a talmid (pupil). She never showed up in my classes again.
- Israel Jacob Yuval: "'We Curse Christianity Three Times a Day': Can Jews and Christians Truly Reconcile?". Haaretz, Aug 14, 2020.
- The quotation in question is from Matthew 5:17, where Jesus says: "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil." In Shabbat 116b:2, this is rendered as: "I, avon gilayon, did not come to subtract from the Torah of Moses, and I did not come to add to the Torah of Moses." The term avon gilyon is derogatory: it is a pun on ἐυαγγέλιον ("evangelion") and is sometimes translated as "sin scroll".
- "I will analyze the Bavli text in detail and demonstrate that it indeed refers to the Jesus of the New Testament and is not just a remote and corrupt echo of the New Testament story; rather, it presents—with few words and in the typically discursive style of the Bavli—a highly ambitious and devastating counternarrative to the infant story of the New Testament." Peter Schäfer: Jesus in the Talmud, p. 15. Princeton University Press, 2007.
- "This spelling (with abbreviation signs) is still found in some Ultra-Orthodox newspaper, but not in all Orthodox papers." Kai Kjær-Hansen: "An Introduction to the Names Yehoshua/Joshua, Yeshua, Jesus and Yeshu". Jews for Jesus, March 23, 1992. Kjær-Hansen did a doctoral dissertation named Studies in the Name of Jesus in 1982.
- "The story opens with Onqelos, who is well known as the alleged translator of the Hebrew Bible into Aramaic (and sometimes confused with Akylas/Aquila, the translator of the Bible into Greek)." Peter Schäfer: Jesus in the Talmud, p. 85. Princeton University Press, 2007.
- "So Yehoshua ben Peraḥya sent out four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him." Rabbi Michael Skobac: "Is Jesus in the Talmud?" (30:14). Jews for Judaism, 2017.
- "So Yeshu went, hung a brick, and bowed down to it and worshipped it." Rabbi Michael Skobac: "Is Jesus in the Talmud?" (31:30). Jews for Judaism, 2017.
- "It is highly likely, therefore, that the difficult and unusual phrase 'who publicly spoils his food' has also a sexual connotation. The literary meaning of the phrase is 'to cause burning to a dish,' that is, to make a dish inedible by oversalting or overspicing it. This literal meaning can hardly be the misdeed of which the son/disciple is accused. Rather, the symmetrical structure of Rav Hisda's exegesis actually requires that 'burning the dish' has something to do with the son's/disciple's sexual relationship to his wife, in other words that some kind of sexual misconduct is at stake here." Peter Schäfer: Jesus in the Talmud, pp. 26–27. Princeton University Press, 2007.
- "It is only in the Babylonian Talmud, and there in two almost identical passages, that we do get some strange information that may be regarded as a faint and distorted echo of the Gospels' stories about Jesus' family background and his parents. Since neither source mentions, however, the name 'Jesus' but instead resorts to the enigmatic names 'Ben Stada' and 'Ben Pandera/Pantera' respectively, their relationship to Jesus is hotly disputed." Peter Schäfer: Jesus in the Talmud, p. 15. Princeton University Press, 2007.