In Maseches Kiddushin 70b it seems that Shmuel held that Hurdus and his descendants had the status of slaves, but in Gittin 38a it seems that according to Shmuel, if the master gives up on retrieving his slave - which would seem to be the case with regards to Hurdus - then he automatically gains the status of a free Jew?

The question becomes even stronger, based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 19a, which it seems from there that Hurdus himself owned a slave, which would seemingly only be possible if his own masters set him free!

1 Answer 1


Herod was the son of Antipater, an Idumenean (Edomite). The Edomites were conquered by the Hasmonean King John Hyrcanus I and forcibly converted to Judaism.

John Hyrcanus I was a Sadducee and may not have held by the rules that would be described in the Gemara (the product of the Pharisees). As such, Herod's status may not have been what one would expect from reading the Gemara.

To resolve your contradiction: Shmuel may have held that Herod ought to have been considered free but in practice, he was not. You can have situations in halacha where a forbidden act is still effective (e.g. Kohen marries a divorcee and she is still forbidden to other men). Herod was illegally not freed, so he is still a slave.

  • 2
    The assumption of the OP is that he wasn't treated like a slave, and that was the freeing mechanism. If you're saying that his masters continued to believe they owned him, that answers the question without your novel statement at the end
    – AKA
    Feb 7 at 6:29
  • He wasn't treated like a slave because his father outwitted the Hasmonean princes and had the backing of Rome but some hidden Hasmonean prince still kept hope that Herod would fall and take his rightful place under him. Feb 7 at 16:08
  • That's fine - my point is that you don't need the Kohen marrying a divorcee parallel - if his master still considered him owned the rule of Shmuel is not relevant
    – AKA
    Feb 7 at 22:47
  • +1 to AKA's point. To add, consider that descendants of Chashmonaim are really descendants of Herod and thus of slaves according to Bava Batra 3b. sefaria.org/Bava_Batra.3b.14?vhe=William_Davidson_Edition_-Vocalized_Aramaic&lang=bi and that the Amora Shmuel himself endorsed this position in Kiddushin 70b, sefaria.org/Kiddushin.70b.7?vhe=William_Davidson_Edition-_Vocalized_Aramaic&lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en Feb 8 at 7:54

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