Rabbi Abhu once complimented Rav Saphra before the Minim by singling him
out in their hearing as a man distinguished by his learning, and this
led them to exempt him from tribute for thirteen years. It so happened
that these Minim once posed Saphra about that which is written in Amos
iii. 2, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." "Ye say you are
God's friends, but when one has a friend does he pour out his wrath upon
him?" To this Rav Saphra make no reply. They then put a rope round his
neck and tormented him. When he was in this sorry plight, Rabbi Abhu
came up and inquired why they tormented him thus. To this they made
answer, "Didst thou not tell us that he was a very learned man, and he
does not even know how to explain a text of Scripture?" "Yes, I did so
say," replied Rabbi Abhu; "he is an adept in the Talmud only, but not in
the Scriptures." "Thou knowest the Scriptures;" they replied, "and why
ought he not to know them as well?" "I have daily intercourse with you,"
said the Rabbi, "and therefore I am obliged to study the Scriptures, but
he, having no intercourse with you, has no need to trouble himself, and
does not at all care about them."
THE TALMUD, _Avodah Zarah_, fol. 4, col. 1.