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it follows some other count. Rav Pappa said: The meaning of the first instance of the expression “the twentieth year” may be inferred from the second instance of the expression “the twentieth year” by way of a verbal analogy: Just as there the reference is to the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, so too, here the reference is to the twentieth year of Artaxerxes.

The Gemara raises another question: Even though those two events took place in the same year, from where is it known that the incident that occurred in Kislev took place first? Perhaps the incident that occurred in Nisan took place first, in which case it is possible that even the years of gentile kings are counted from Nisan.

The Gemara answers: It should not enter your mind to say this, as it is taught in a baraita: The words that Hanani told Nehemiah in the month of Kislev, Nehemiah told the king in the month of Nisan.

The baraita explains: The words that Hanani said to Nehemiah in Kislev are as it is stated: “The words of Nehemiah, son of Hachaliah: And it came to pass in the month Kislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the capital, that Hanani, one of my brothers, came out of Judah, he and certain men; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem. And they said to me: The remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province suffer much hardship and insult; and the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire” (Nehemiah 1:1–3).

Nehemiah told these words to the king in Nisan, as it is stated: “And it came to pass in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that wine was before him, and I took up the wine and gave it to the king. Now I had not been before sad in his presence. And the king said to me: Why is your face sad, seeing that you are not sick? This is nothing else but sorrow of the heart. Then I was very much afraid, and I said to the king: Let the king live forever: Why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of the tombs of my ancestors, lies waste, and its gates are consumed with fire?” (Nehemiah 2:1–3).

“Then the king said to me: For what do you ask? So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said to the king: If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judea, to the city of the graves of my ancestors, that I may rebuild it. And the king said to me, the consort also sitting by him: For how long shall your journey be? And when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time” (Nehemiah 2:4–6).

Rav Yosef raised an objection against the rule established by Rav Ḥisda that the years of gentile kings are counted from Tishrei from the verse that states: “On the twenty-fourth day of the sixth month, in the second year of Darius the king” (Haggai 1:15), and it is written immediately afterward: “In the seventh month, in the second year, on the twenty-first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the prophet Haggai, saying” (Haggai 2:1). And if it were so that the years of gentile kings are counted from Tishrei, what the verse needed to state is: In the seventh month in the third year, as a new year had already started for him.

Rabbi Abbahu said in answer to this objection: Cyrus was a virtuous king, and consequently Haggai counted the years of his reign like those of the kings of Israel, i.e., from Nisan.

Rav Yosef strongly objects to this explanation for two reasons: One objection is that if this is so, the verses contradict each other, as it is written: “And this house was finished on the third of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king” (Ezra 6:15), and it is taught in a baraita: At that same time in the following year Ezra went up from Babylonia together with his company of exiles. And it is written in the Bible: “And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king” (Ezra 7:8). And if it were so that this king’s years were counted like those of the kings of Israel, what the verse needed to state is: Which was in the eighth year of the king.

And further, a second objection: Are Rav Yosef’s objection and Rabbi Abbahu’s resolution comparable? There, Rabbi Abbahu speaks of Cyrus, whereas here, the verses speak of Darius, and it was never said about Darius that he was a virtuous king. The Gemara explains: This is not difficult, as the Sages taught in a baraita: All three names are referring to the same person: He is Cyrus; he is Darius; and he is also Artaxerxes. He was called Cyrus [Koresh] because he was a virtuous [kasher] king; he was called Artaxerxes after his kingdom, i.e., this was his royal title; and what was his real name? Darius was his name.

The Gemara notes: In any case, it is difficult, as in one place his years are counted from Nisan, whereas in another place they are counted from Tishrei. Rabbi Yitzḥak said: This is not difficult, as it can be explained as follows: Here, where his years are counted from Nisan like the kings of Israel, it speaks of him before he became corrupt, whereas there, where his years are counted from Tishrei, it speaks of him after he became corrupt.

Rav Kahana strongly objects to this explanation: Did he really become corrupt after Ezra went to Eretz Yisrael? But isn’t it written:

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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