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Talmud, from the Hebrew root 1-m-d, “to learn, to study,” refers to two very large compilations produced by Galilean and Babylonian rabbis in the late fourth and early sixth centuries CE, respectively. They are encyclopedic in size and scope but not in arrangement. The earlier one, usually called the Palestinian Talmud, the Talmud of the Land of Israel, or the Jerusalem Talmud (the Yerushalmi) runs to just under 900,000 words. The later, the Babylonian Talmud (the Bavli), is more than 1,863,000 words.

Although both are formally commentaries on an early third-century rabbinic law code, the Mishnah (220 CE), completed in Palestine, they in reality comprise many elements. There is a heady mixture of law in the rabbinic sense, which includes the rules of civil and ritual ...

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