Greco-Roman Period
Often Mishnah passages are closely paralleled by the halakhic Midrashim. In this example, Mishnah Bava Qamma and Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael, the following passage, present parallel laws, each in its own characteristic format.

6-4 If a man caused fire to break out at the hand of a deaf-mute, an imbecile, or a minor,
he is not culpable by the laws of man, but he is culpable by the laws of Heaven. If he
caused it to break out at the hand of one of sound senses, this one 110 is culpable. If one
brought the fire and then another brought wood, he that brought the wood is culpable.
If one brought wood and then another brought the fire, he that brought the fire is
culpable. If the wind set it ablaze none of them is culpable.

If a man caused a fire to break out and it consumed wood or stones or dust, he is
culpable, for it is written, “If a fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the shocks of
corn (grain) or the standing corn or the field be consumed, he that kindles the fire shall
surely make restitution”(Ex. 22-5). If it passed over a fence four cubits high, or over a
public way or a river, he that caused it is not culpable. 111

If a man kindled fire within his own domain, how far may it spread? 112 Rabbi Eleazar
ben Azariah says- It is looked upon as though it was in the midst of a kor’s space 1l3
ofland. Rabbi Eliezer says- Sixteen cubits 114 [in every direction], like a public highway.
115 Rabbi Akiva says- Fifty cubits. 1l6 Rabbi Simeon says- [It is written,] “He that kindled
the fire shall surely make restitution” (Ex. 22-5).—all is in accordance with the nature of
the fire. 117

5 If a man set fire to a stack and in it there were utensils and these caught fire, Rabbi
Judah says- He must make restitution for what was therein. But the sages say- He need
only make restitution for a stack of wheat or barley. 118 If a kid was fastened to it and a
bondman stood near by, and they were burnt together, he that kindled the fire is liable
[for the kid but not for the bondman]. 119 If the bondman was bound and a kid stood near
by and they were burnt together, he that kindled the fire is not liable [financially for
either]. 120 And the sages agree with Rabbi Judah that if a man set fire to a large building
he must make restitution for everything therein; for such is the custom among men to
leave [their goods] in their houses. 121

109. Trans. H. Danby, The Mishnah (London- Oxford University Press. 1958). pp. 339-40.

110. The agent.

111. Because he couldnot expect that it would travel so far.

112. At what distance is he no longer culpable, since he had no reason to suspect that the fire might spread
so far?

113. 75,000 square cubits. (A cubit is about 18 inches.) This is equivalent to a distance of about 137 cubits,
approximately 245 feet.

114. 24 feet.

115. Like the width of a public thoroughfare.

116. 75 feet.

117. His view is that it depends on the size of the fire he kindled and the material he was burning. To
whatever extent such a fire might normally spread, he is responsible.

118. Since he could not know what was inside.

119. The slave would have fled from the danger.

120. Since he is criminally liable for the death of the slave, he bears no financial penalty, according to an
established principle of halakha. He is exempt from liability for the kid since it could have fled the fire.

121. The arsonist would have known in advance about the presence of these possessions.