I was reading a book called "Shylock" by Hermann Sinsheimer and he made reference to a story from "the Jewish Talmud." I don't know to what he is referring. I looked online quickly and found someone else, in 1996, asking the same question (it is an old book...I'm just getting around to it). I will copy the salient parts of the question and the answer: (from http://shaksper.net/archive/1996/126-june/4318-no-subject)

On June 6 Jacob Goldberg asked where in the Talmud one could find the following story quoted by H. Sinsheimer in his book on Shylock.

"In the Talmud, there is a legend about Moses coming down from Sinai and seeing an eagle carrying a lamb in its beak. In a rage, Moses upbraids the eagle for being about to kill a fellow animal, just when he, Moses, had received the commandment of God: Thou shalt not kill! The eagle drops its prey, but comes down to Moses, asking him to feed its young himself. At this, the holy man bares his breast and offers his own flesh to the bird of prey."

"Sefer HaAgadah" by Bialik and Ravnitzky, (Dvir (Hebrew), Tel Aviv, 3d edition 1948) is an indexed compendium of Talmudic tales metaphors and aphorisms, which I have no reason to believe is not exhaustive. I looked up all the references where "eagle" and "Moses" appeard on the same page and came up with nothing. The tale is probably spurious, especially since a good deal the Law given to the Moses deals with the regulation of animal sacrifice. The commandment should read in English "Thou shalt not commit murder", rather than "Thou shalt not kill". It seems that the translators of the King James Bible seem to have taken great pains to maintain the number of words as close to the Hebrew original as possible and even their order, presumably out of respect for its sanctity. In the Hebrew the commandment is stated in a mere two words. (Such restraints on the translation would justify using the best English wordsmiths around - lending weight to the proposition that Shakespeare was on the team.)


Quoting sources is a solid Rabbinic tradition going back 2000 years, as is adherence to rules of derivation. Therefore I would suggest that Sinsheimer's failure to supply tractate and page imply that there is none. On the other hand, maybe it wasn't an eagle but some other bird. No one I have asked has heard of the story but I will keep looking."

Does anyone know of a source for this story which might have escaped the author of this web-response and which could have been to what Sinsheimer was referring?

  • A search for "eagle" in my English Ein Yaakov didn't find anything similar to this story. – Shokhet Feb 5 '15 at 2:18
  • This story sounds very Christian, I.e. extreme literalist moral interpretation of the Torah. – pcoz Mar 2 '16 at 0:40
  • What's the end of the story? I mean, it obviously didn't eat up Moses. So how did it feed its young? – HaLeiVi Mar 3 '16 at 3:49

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