Talmudic Source for The Rabbi and the 29 Witches

All who are stoned are [afterwards] hanged: this is r. Eliezer's view, the sages say: only the blasphemer and the idolater are hanged. A man is hanged with his face towards the spectators, but a woman with her face towards the gallows: this is the view of R. Eliezer. But the sages say: a man is hanged, but not a woman. Whereupon R. Eliezer said to them: but did not Simeon b. Shetah hang women at Ashkelon?  They retorted: [on that occasion] he hanged eighty women, notwithstanding that two [malefactors] must not be tried on the same day
Sanhedrin 45A

This week in daf yomi the story of Rabbi Shimon Ben Shetach appeared and his encounter with the 80 witches of Ashkelon.

Childrens's Book
The rabbi and the witches, I thought. I was reminded of a book I had as a kid: The Rabbi and the Twenty-nine Witches.

From the short description, the plot is described as:
Once a month, when the moon is full, twenty-nine of the meanest, scariest, ugliest, wickedest witches that ever lived come out of their cave to terrify the villagers . . . until one day the wise rabbi invents a plan to rid his village of those wicked witches forever. 

Suddenly it occurred that this book was probably inspired by this Talmudic tale mentioned in this week's daf yomi for Mesechet Sanhedrin.

R. Shimon Ben Shetach and the Witches

Rashi writes in greater detail clarifying how the story took place:
The student asked the angel, "until when will this man be condemned in Judgement?" He (the angel) said to him: Until Shimon Ben Shetach dies and someone replaces him (as Nasi of the Sanhedrin).
"Why?" the student asked. The angel answered, "because the Jewish witches are still living in Ashkelon and he has not yet placed judgement upon them."
The student went and told Shimon ben Shetach. What did Shimon do? He gathered together 80 young and studious men on a day when it was raining, and they were each given a jar with a dry cloak/tallit in it. He instructed them to keep their cloaks/tallit dry and to ensure that they were not seen by the witches until the appointed signal.
He left the young men outside the cave, and approached the witches' residence. "Who are you," they asked. Shimon answered, "I am a magician, and I came to see you magical works."
"What magic can you do," the witches inquired.
"I can make 80 young men appear in dry cloaks, even thought it is a rainy day."
"Show us!" The witches demanded.
Shimon went outside and signaled to the young men to take out the cloaks and cover themselves in them, and they entered and lifted the witches off the ground (to prevent them from doing sorcery, which can only be done while on the ground) and they hung them all.
Some relatives of those witches who were angered by this came forward with false testimony accusing Shimon ben Shetach’s son of a capital crime. Upon being convicted and led to his death the witnesses recanted their testimony. Shimon desired a new trial for his son, but the son insisted that the punishment be carried out, as we learned, if a witness recounts their testimony, we do not believe them.
 It was an exciting discovery to find an old source in tradition for this little children's story.

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