and it was the same in area as that which stretches from the city of Bei Mikhsei until the fortress of Tulbanki: Its length twenty-two parasangs and its width six parasangs, 132 square parasangs, which is 2, 112 square mil.
§ The Gemara relates that Rabbi Ḥelbo, Rabbi Avira, and Rabbi Yosei bar Ḥanina happened to come on one occasion to a certain place. The locals brought before these Sages a peach [afarseka] that was as large as a stewpot [ilpas] of Kefar Hino. The Gemara asks: And how big is a stewpot of Kefar Hino? The Gemara answers: It has a capacity of five se’a. They ate one-third of it, they declared ownerless one-third of it, and they placed before their animals one-third of it.
לשנה איקלע רבי אלעזר להתם ואייתו לקמיה נקטו בידיה ואמר ארץ פרי למלחה מרעת יושבי בה
In the following year, Rabbi Elazar happened to come to that same place, and they brought a peach before him. He held it in his hand, as the peach was small enough for him to grasp in one hand, and he said, in reference to the change in size of the fruit from the previous year:“ A fruitful land into a salt waste, from the wickedness of they who dwell there” (Psalms 107:34), i. e., their sins caused the drastic change in the yield of the produce.
§ Once Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi happened to come to Gavla, in the Golan, and he saw those clusters of vines that were standing as large as calves. He said to the locals: Calves are standing between the grapevines and you are not concerned that they will cause damage? They said to him: They are clusters. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: O earth, O earth! Gather in your fruit. For whom do you produce your fruit? For these gentiles who stand over us in our sins? It would be preferable if you did not produce such large fruit.
The following year, Rabbi Ḥiyya happened to come to that same place, and he saw clusters that were standing as large as goats. He said: Goats are standing between the grapevines. They said to him: Go away; do not do to us what your colleague has done. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s curse was already fulfilled, as the fruit had shrunk from the previous year.
§ The Sages taught: In years of blessings of Eretz Yisrael, an area of land measuring one beit se’a produces five thousand kor. By way of comparison, when Zoan, a fertile region in Egypt, was settled, one beit se’a there would produce only seventy kor. As it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir said: I saw in the valley of Beit She’an that one beit se’a produced seventy kor, which teaches that the soil of a good-quality and irrigated stretch of land outside the borders of Eretz Yisrael will naturally yield this quantity of produce.
ואין לך מעולה בכל ארצות יותר מארץ מצרים שנאמר כגן ה׳ כארץ מצרים ואין לך מעולה בכל ארץ מצרים יותר מצוען דהוו מרבו בה מלכים דכתיב כי היו בצוען שריו ואין לך טרשים בכל ארץ ישראל יותר מחברון דהוו קברי בה שיכבי
And you have no more outstanding earth among all the lands other than the land of Egypt, as it is stated: “ Like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt” (Genesis 13:10). And you have no more outstanding region in all of the land of Egypt than Zoan. The superior quality of Zoan is derived from the fact that they would raise kings there, as it is written: “ For his princes are at Zoan” (Isaiah 30:4). And you have no rockier terrain in all of Eretz Yisrael than Hebron, as people would bury their dead there, e. g., the Patriarchs in the Cave of Machpelah, because the land was not arable.
And even so, Hebron was more developed, i. e., more fertile, than Zoan by sevenfold, as it is written: “ Now Hebron was built [nivneta] seven years before Zoan in Egypt” (Numbers 13:22). What is the meaning of the term: Nivneta , in this verse? If we say it means literally that Hebron was built before Zoan, would a person build a house for his younger son before building one for his older son? As it is stated: “ And the sons of Ham: Cush, and Mizraim, and Put, and Canaan” (Genesis 10:6), which indicates that Egypt, Mizraim, was older than Canaan, in whose territory Hebron was located.
אלא שמבונה על אחת משבעה בצוען והני מילי בטרשים אבל שלא בטרשים חמש מאה
Rather, the meaning of the verse is that Hebron was more developed and more fertile than Zoan by sevenfold, which means that Hebron produced 490 kor, seven times more than the seventy kor of regular fertile land, as stated above. And this applies only to the rocky terrain of Eretz Yisrael, e. g., Hebron, whereas those parts of Eretz Yisrael that were not rocky produced even more, up to five hundred kor.
והני מילי שלא בברכותיה אבל בברכותיה כתיב ויזרע יצחק בארץ ההיא וגו׳
And this applies only to a year when Eretz Yisrael is not blessed. However, with regard to a year when it was blessed, it is written: “ And Isaac sowed in that land, and found in the same year a hundredfold” (Genesis 26:12). Isaac’s field produced one hundred times the normal yield, which according to the above calculations is five thousand kor, as stated in the baraita.
תניא אמר רבי יוסי סאה ביהודה היתה עושה חמש סאין סאה קמח סאה סלת סאה סובין סאה מורסין וסאה קיבוריא אמר ליה ההוא צדוקי לרבי חנינא יאה משבחיתו בה בארעכון בית סאה אחת הניח לי אבא ממנה משח ממנה חמר ממנה עיבור ממנה קיטניות ממנה רועות מקנתי
§ It is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei said: A se’a of wheat in Judea would produce five se’a. How so? It would yield a se’a of flour; a se’a of fine flour; a se’a of bran fiber, from the outer layer of the grain; a se’a of coarse bran, i. e., flour mixed with bran fiber; and a se’a of cibarium [kiburaya], inferior flour. A certain Sadducee said to Rabbi Ḥanina: You are improving your land very well; my father left me one beit se’a of land in Eretz Yisrael and from it I am able to produce oil, from it I produce wine, from it I grow produce, from it I grow legumes, and with it I provide pasture from which my sheep graze.
אמר ליה ההוא בר אמוראה לבר ארעא דישראל האי [תאלתא] דקיימא אגודא דירדנא כמה גדריתו מינה אמר ליה שיתין כורי אמר ליה אכתי לא עייליתו בה אחריבתוה אנן מאה ועשרים כורי הוה גזרינן מינה אמר ליה אנא נמי מחד גיסא קאמינא לך
A certain Amorite once said to a resident of Eretz Yisrael: That palm tree which stands on the banks of the Jordan, how many dates are you able to pick from it? He said to him: Sixty kor. The Amorite said to him: You have not yet fully entered Eretz Yisrael and yet you have already succeeded in destroying it. We would pick off that tree 120 kor. The resident said to him: I too am speaking to you about only one side of the tree, as I have not yet picked the fruit off the other side.
אמר רב חסדא מאי דכתיב ואתן לך ארץ חמדה נחלת צבי למה ארץ ישראל נמשלה לצבי לומר לך מה צבי זה אין עורו מחזיק בשרו אף ארץ ישראל אינה מחזקת פירותיה דבר אחר מה צבי זה קל מכל החיות אף ארץ ישראל קלה מכל הארצות לבשל את פירותיה
§ Rav Ḥisda said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “ And give you a pleasant land, the goodliest [tzvi] heritage” (Jeremiah 3:19)? Why is Eretz Yisrael likened to a deer [tzvi]? This comparison comes to tell you that just as with regard to this deer, its skin cannot contain its meat once it has been skinned, so too, Eretz Yisrael cannot contain its fruit once it has been picked, due to the great quantity of the produce. Alternatively, just as this deer is swifter than all the other beasts, so too Eretz Yisrael is swifter to ripen its fruit than all the other countries.
אי מה צבי זה קל ואין בשרו שמן אף ארץ ישראל קלה לבשל ואין פירותיה שמנים תלמוד לומר זבת חלב ודבש שמנים מחלב ומתוקים מדבש
The Gemara asks: If so, one can suggest the following comparison: Just as this deer is swift and its meat is not fatty, so too, Eretz Yisrael is swift to ripen its fruit but its fruit is not fat and juicy. The Gemara explains: For this reason the verse states: “ Flowing with milk and honey” (Exodus 3:8), to say that its fruit is fat and juicier than milk and sweeter than honey.
§ The Gemara relates that when Rabbi Elazar ascended to Eretz Yisrael he said: I have been spared one curse. When they ordained him and awarded him the title of Rabbi, he said: I have been spared two. When they appointed him to sit in the council of Sages who dealt with the intercalation of the calendar, he said: I have been spared three.
שנאמר והיתה ידי אל הנביאים החוזים שוא וגו׳ בסוד עמי לא יהיו זה סוד עיבור ובכתב בית ישראל לא יכתבו זה סמיכה ואל אדמת ישראל לא יבואו כמשמעו
As it is stated: “ And My hand shall be against the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies; they shall not be in the council of My people, neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and you shall know that I am the Lord God” (Ezekiel 13:9).“ They shall not be in the council of My people, ” this is referring to the council of the intercalation of the calendar; “ neither shall they be written in the register of the house of Israel, ” this is referring to ordination; “ neither shall they enter into the land of Israel, ” this is understood as per its plain meaning. Rabbi Elazar merited that these three curses were not fulfilled in him.
רבי זירא כי הוה סליק לארץ ישראל לא אשכח מברא למעבר נקט במצרא וקעבר אמר ליה ההוא צדוקי עמא פזיזא דקדמיתו פומייכו לאודנייכו אכתי בפזיזותייכו קיימיתו אמר ליה דוכתא דמשה ואהרן לא זכו לה אנא מי יימר דזכינא לה
§ When Rabbi Zeira ascended to Eretz Yisrael he could not find a ferry to cross the Jordan River. He took hold of a rope that was strung across as a makeshift bridge and crossed the Jordan. A certain Sadducee said to him: Hasty people who put your mouths before your ears, when you said at the time of the giving of the Torah: “ We will do” before“ we will hear” (Exodus 24:7), you remain hasty to this day. Why couldn’t you wait a little longer to cross the river on a ferry? Rabbi Zeira said to him: This is a place where Moses and Aaron did not merit entering; who is to say that I will merit seeing this land? I hurried across before anything might occur to prevent my entrance into Eretz Yisrael.
§ Rabbi Abba would kiss the rocks of Akko, which was on the coast of Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Ḥanina would repair its stumbling blocks, i. e., any potholes in the land, so that travelers would not fall and consequently speak ill of Eretz Yisrael. Rabbi Ammi and Rabbi Asi