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The Book of the Bee 11 - 15

THE BOOK OF THE BEE

THE SYRIAC TEXT

EDITED FROM THE MANUSCRIPTS IN LONDON, OXFORD, AND MUNICH


CHAPTER XI.

OF THE CREATION OF SEA-MONSTERS, FISH, WINGED FOWL, AND THE REPTILES THAT ARE IN THE SEAS.

ON the fifth day of the week God made from the waters mighty sea-monsters, fish, winged fowl, swimming beasts, and the reptiles that are in the seas. He created the winged fowl that are in the waters from the waters; for, like fish, they lay eggs and swim. Now, fish swim in the waters, and winged fowl in the air; but some of the latter in the waters also. Although they say that swimming creatures were made from the waters, or that the other wild beasts and cattle were made from the earth; still they consist of parts of all the other elements. Those, however, that are of the waters, have the greater part of their composition made of water; while the greater part of those whose origin is earth, consists of earth: but none of them lack the four elements.


CHAPTER XII.

OF THE CREATION OF BEASTS AND ANIMALS.

ON Friday eve God created them, and therefore animals can see at night as well as in the day time. Others say that they were all created in the morning, and that God created Adam after them on the sixth day, which is Friday.


CHAPTER XIII.

OF THE FORMATION OF ADAM.

ON the Friday, after the making of all created things, God said, 'Come, let us make man in our image and in our likeness.' The Jews have interpreted the expression 'Come, let us make,' as referring to the angels; though God (adored be His glory!) needs not help from His creatures: but the expositors of the Church indicate the Persons of the adorable Trinity. Some say that when God said 'Come, let us make man in our image and in our likeness,' the angels by the eye of the Spirit saw the right hand (of God) spread out over the whole world, and there were in it parts of all the creatures both spiritual and corporeal. And God took from an these parts, and fashioned Adam with His holy hands, and breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul. Others say that God took earth from the four quarters of the world, and formed Adam outside paradise; while others say that God fashioned him in the middle of the earth, on the spot where our Lord was crucified, and that there also was Adam's skull laid. After God had formed Adam outside Paradise, He brought him in as a king, and made him king over all the creatures, and commanded him to give a name to each of them. God did not gather together unto Adam all cattle, nor (all) that swim in the sea, nor (all) the birds of the air, that he might give them names; but he received dominion and power over them to make use of them as he pleased, and to give them names, as a master to his slaves. And when God had brought him into Paradise, He commanded him to till it and to guard it. Why did God say 'to till it and to guard it'?--for Paradise needed no guarding, and was adorned with fruit of all kinds, and there was none to injure it--unless it were to exhort him to keep His commandments, and to till it that he might not become a lover of idleness. Because Adam had not seen his own formation, and was not acquainted with the power of his Maker, it was necessary that, when Eve was taken from him in his own likeness, he should perceive his Maker, and should acknowledge that He who made Eve also made him, and that they two were bound to be obedient to Him.


Footnotes

Among other things, Jewish tradition says that the first Adam had two faces; that he was formed in two parts, on the one side male, and on the other female; that in height he reached from earth to heaven (Chag, p. 12, col. 1); and that he could stretch from one end of the world to the other (Sher Has, No. 500).

See Bezold, Die Schatzhle, pp. 3 and 4; and Brit. Mus. Add. 25,875, fol. 4 b, col. 1, line 23 to fol. 5 b, col. 1, line 14: 'The creation of Adam was on this wise. On the sixth day, which is Friday, at the first hour, when silence reigned over all the ranks of the (heavenly) hosts, God said, "Come, let us make man in our image after our likeness"--hereby making known concerning the glorious Persons (of the Trinity). When the angels heard these words they were in fear and trembling, saying one to another, "We shall see a great miracle to-day, the likeness of God our Maker." And they saw the right hand of God stretched out and extended over the whole world; and all created things were collected in the palm of His right hand. And they saw that He took a grain of dust from all the earth, a drop of water from the whole nature of water, a breath of wind from all the atmosphere above, and a little warmth from all the nature of fire. And the angels saw when these four feeble elements--that is, cold and heat and dryness and moisture--were laid in the palm of His right hand, and God formed Adam. For what reason did God make Adam out of these four elements, unless it were that through them everything in the world should be subject unto him? He took a grain of dust, that all natures which are of dust might be subject unto Adam; and a drop of water, that all those in the seas and rivers might be his; and a breath of air, that all kinds of birds of the air might be given unto him; and the heat of fire, that all the fiery beings and (heavenly) hosts might come to his aid. And God formed man with His holy hands, in His image and likeness. When the angels saw his glorious appearance, they trembled at the beauty of his appearance; for they saw the form of his face blazing with glorious beauty like the sphere of the sun, and the light of his eyes was like the sun, and the form of his body like the light of crystal. And when he stretched himself, and stood in the centre of the earth, he set his two feet on the spot where the cross of our Redeemer was placed: for Adam was created in Jerusalem, and there it was that he put on royal apparel, and the crown of glory was set upon his head; and there was he made king and priest and prophet, there did God set him upon the throne of His glory; and there He made him master over all creatures. And all beasts and cattle and fowl were gathered together, and they passed before Adam and he gave them names; and they bowed their heads to him, and all natures did homage to him and were subject unto him. And the angels and (heavenly) hosts heard the voice of God saying to him, "Adam, behold I have made thee king and priest and prophet and lord and chief and governor of all things made and created; to thee shall they be subject, and thine shall they be: and I have given thee power over everything that I have created." And when the angels heard these words, they all blessed and worshipped him.'


CHAPTER XIV.

OF THE MAKING OF EVE.

GOD said, 'Let us make a helper for Adam.' And He threw upon Adam a sleep and stupor, and took one of his ribs from his left side, and put flesh in its place, and of it He formed Eve. He did not make her of earth, that she might not be considered something alien to him in nature; and He did not take her from Adam's fore-parts, that she might not uplift herself against him; nor from his hind-parts, that she might not be accounted despicable; nor from his right side, that she might not have pre-eminence over him; nor from his head, that she might not seek authority over him; nor from his feet, that she might not be trodden down and scorned in the eyes of her husband: but (He took her) from his left side, for the side is the place which unites and joins both front and back.--Concerning the sleep which God cast upon Adam, He made him to be half asleep and half awake, that he might not feel pain when the rib was taken from him, and look upon the woman as a hateful thing; and yet not without pain, that he might not think that she was not meet for him in matters of nature. When Adam came to himself, he prophesied and said, 'This is bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; this shall be called woman': and they were both clothed in light, and saw not each other's nakedness.


CHAPTER XV.

OF PARADISE.

IN the eastern part of the earth, on the mountain of Eden, beyond the ocean, God planted Paradise, and adorned it with fruit-bearing trees of all kinds, that it might be a dwelling-place for Adam and his progeny, if they should keep His commandments. He made to spring forth from it a great river, which was parted into four heads, to water Paradise and the whole earth. The first river is Ph, which compasseth the land of Hav where there is gold and beryls and fair and precious stones. The second river is Gih, that is, the Nile of Egypt. The third river is Deklath (the Tigris), which travels through the land of Assyria and Bh-Zabdai. The fourth river is Perath (the Euphrates), which flows through the middle of the earth. Some teachers say that Paradise surrounds the whole earth like a wall and a hedge beyond the ocean. Others say that it was placed upon the mount of Eden, higher than every other mountain in the world by fifteen cubits. Others say that it was placed between heaven and earth, below the firmament and above this earth, and that God placed it there as a boundary for Adam between heaven and earth, so that, if he kept His commands, He might lift him up to heaven, but if he transgressed them, He might cast him down to this earth. And as the land of heaven is better and more excellent than the land of Paradise, so was the land of Paradise better and more glorious and more excellent (than our earth); its trees were more beautiful, its flowers more odoriferous, and its atmosphere more pure than ours, through superiority of species and not by nature. God made Paradise large enough to be the dwelling-place of Adam and of his posterity, provided that they kept the divine commandments. Now it is the dwelling-place of the souls of the righteous, and its keepers are Enoch and Elijah; Elijah the unwedded, and Enoch the married man: that the unwedded may not exalt themselves above the married, as if, forsooth, Paradise were suitable for the unwedded only. The souls of sinners are without Paradise, in a deep place called Eden. After the resurrection, the souls of the righteous and the sinners will put on their bodies. The righteous will enter into heaven, which will become the land of the righteous; while the sinners will remain upon earth. The tree of good and evil that was in Paradise did not by nature possess these properties of good and evil like rational beings, but only through the deed which was wrought by its means; like the 'well of contention,' and the 'heap of witness,' which did not possess these properties naturally, but only through the deeds which were wrought by their means. Adam and Eve were not stripped of the glory with which they were clothed, nor did they die the death of sin, because they desired and ate of the fruit of the fig-tree--for the fruit of the fig-tree was not better than the fruit of any other tree--but because of the transgression of the law, in that they were presumptuous and wished to become gods. On account of this foolish and wicked and blasphemous intention, chastisement and penalty overtook them.--Concerning the tree of life which was planted in the middle of Paradise, some have said that Paradise is the mind, that the tree of good and evil is the knowledge of material things, and that the tree of life is the knowledge of divine things, which were not profitable to the simple understanding of Adam. Others have said that the tree of life is the kingdom of heaven and the joy of the world to come; and others that the tree of life was a tree in very truth, which was set in the middle of Paradise, but no man has ever found out what its fruit or its flowers or its nature was like.

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