The story found in Sifra Behar 5.3 and in the Babylonian Talmud, Baba Meṣi'a 62a, about two persons traveling in a desert and having a quantity of water that allows only one of them to reach civilization and survive, is well known and frequently referred to in books and articles dealing with Jewish ethics. The rabbinic texts raise the question: Should the travelers share the water and die together, or should the person who owns the water drink it in order to survive? This story reminds one of the case of the two shipwrecked men who grasp a plank that can bear the weight of only one person and therefore enables only one of them to reach the coast, a case referred to in philosophical texts from the Hellenistic and Roman periods. The similarities between the issues dealt with in the rabbinic texts and the Greco-Roman ones have indeed been noticed by several scholars working on rabbinic literature (whereas specialists of ancient philosophy generally ignore them). However, a systematic comparative analysis of the rabbinic tradition and the philosophical texts has not been undertaken so far, nor have previous studies paid much attention to the issues at stake within the Greco-Roman texts themselves, to their inner logic and relationships with one another.
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