The blog of Dr Glenn Andrew Peoples on Theology, Philosophy, and Social Issues

Bar Ma’jan – calling all Talmud experts!


For a paper that I am writing, I am trying to locate the following story, which is widely cited as appearing somewhere in the Palestinian Talmud (also called Palestinian Talmud or Talmud of Palestine). Usually this is no trouble, but this particular source is proving to be a bit fiendish to locate. Here’s the story as reproduced online without citation:

A rich tax-gatherer called Ma’jan had done many evil deeds. In the same city, lived a young. poor student of the Torah. They both died and had funerals on the same day. Ma’jan’s was splendid. Work stopped throughout the city as the townspeople followed him to his final resting place. However, no-one took any notice of the death of the student, let alone his funeral. Why should this be?

The answer is this …. Ma’jan had arranged a banquet to which he invited the city councillors – unsurprisingly, they refused to attend and eat with a tax-gatherer, and so, to show his contempt for them, Ma’jan invited all the poor, sick and beggars of the city to attend instead. As he presided over this magnificent charitable act, death overtook him, and all his evil deeds were forgotten by the people because of the good deed in which he was engaged at the moment of his death.

Now, one of the student’s friends had a dream, in which he saw the fate of the two souls after their death. The student was in paradise, the garden of the King, enjoying its beauty and the richness of its vegetation and streams. The man who had been rich in his life, Ma’jan, was also standing on the banks of the stream, trying to reach the water, but unable to do so.

Joachim Jeremias gives this reference for the story: j. Sanh. 6.23c par. J Hagh. 2.77d; critical edition of the text in G. Dalman, Aram. Dialektproben, Leipzig, 1927, pp. 33 f.

j. Sanh = Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin

Tractate Sanhedrin 6:9 in the Jerusalem Talmud is referred to as 23c – I’m supposing that it is folio 23c. There are many reference all over the place to Sanhedrin 23c, and yet Sanhedrin only goes as high as 6:10, so this explains it. I was very pleased to find that I can read Tractate Sanhedrin in the Yerushalmi (the Hebrew name for the Jerusalem Talmud) thanks to Google Books! “The Talmud of the land of Israel By Jacob Neusner” is available there, so I have been looking at it. Confirming the fact that this story is connected to Sanhedrin 23 is the fact that 6:9 is indeed about funerals. OK, so I’m getting close.

Here’s how close I am now. My reference that I started with is j. Sanhedrin. 6.23c par. J Haghadah. 2.77d. I have bolded the part of the puzzle that I have solved, for I have found Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin 6.23c. The finer detail will involve locating this Haggadah, which, alas, is not included in the edition I am able to read. But at least I know what I am looking for.

Are there any Talmud experts out there who might be able to provide a full bibliographical reference for an actual copy of the edition of the Jerusalem Talmud that contains this passage? Even better would be a scan of the actual page(s). Feel free to use the contact page if you can assist.

Many many thanks for any and all help!



Norman Geisler on Annihilationism


No, I am not an inerrantist.


  1. Tuckster

    Have you tried asking on some Jewish forum?

  2. J. Neusner, The Talmud of the Land of Israel, vol 31, Sanhedrin and Makkot. See p. 181, section is numbered 6:6 II.E, concerning an “incident in Ashkqelon” regarding Bar Maayan, the village tax collector….

    • Paul Falgout

      Is this Tzvee Zahavy?? If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts on Bar Maayan and Luke 16

  3. Oh! I missed this comment from tzvee. Thank you!

  4. Frank Armstrong

    Glenn, have you finished your article on this subject and are you going to publish it here on your blog any time soon? I remarked on a blogpost you made on this issue over at RethinkingHell, and don’t want to duplicate my comments here, but I am very curious about what your conclusions are about the purported origins of Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus being in Egyptian folklore that found its way into Rabbinic teaching.

  5. Hi Frank. To be honest this one has been gathering dust for some time. I do intend to finish and publish it, but there are a lot of other things occupying my attention.

  6. Did you ever get a definitive answer? Do you have a good link? Thanks. Please write to me at

  7. Andy Gray

    Glenn, I know this one has been gathering dust for years, but I really think if you did manage to find the time to finish it that it would be of great help. – Or at the least can you publish your sources? BTW are you going to publish it as a blog, or will you submit it to a journal?

    • Hi Andy – When I last looked at this, the best I could find was the same reference to the Jerusalem Talmud, but I have as yet not located an actual copy of this work (physical or digital) so that I can look at the story in question, although I have seen the story quoted in full in secondary sources.

  8. Matthew

    Interesting, as well as the obvious parallel with the Lazarus parable, there are interesting parallels with Jesus’s parable of the Banquet in that passage. The “righteous” city councillors don’t attend because the invitation is from a tax collector, so he invites the sick the lame and the poor and this is seen as faux piety. In Jesus version, the refusal to go is actually a refusal to listen to God, they reject so God invites the lame sick and the poor.

    • Yes, Joachim Jeremias takes that story, combined with this one, as evidence that Jesus did know of this rabbinical story.

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