Apocalypse of Abraham

Abraham and the three Angels (Genesis 18)

The Apocalypse of Abraham is an apocryphal work of the Old Testament and of Jewish origin, considered part of the apocalyptic literature. The Book has survived only in ancient Slavic reviews and is not considered an authoritative text either by Jews or by Christians, even if in the past it has kept relevant importance until the first century AD. The manuscript is found in the Tolkovaja Paleja a medieval compendium of various texts of the Old Testament and commentaries that also preserved Jacob’s Ladder, the original language of this text was almost certainly Hebrew and then translated into Slavonic, or first into Greek in a version that would have been lost by now.

Content

The first eight chapters of the book are of an introductory nature, it talks about Abraham’s life at a young age, his conversion from polytheism to monotheism and then continues with the part about the apocalypse.

The text opens with a description of Abraham helping his father Terah, creator of idols. Abraham’s doubts about the cult of idols are recalled by events that lead to the destruction of the stone image of Merumath and five other idols, which the young man was supposed to sell. He thus opposes the cult of his father and arouses the wrath of Terah. Abraham further tests the powers of the idols by placing a wooden statue of Barisat near the fire and telling the idol to take care of the fire, but on his return he finds Barisat burned. He once again strongly explains to his father the futility of such idols, but to no avail. (Chapters 1-6)
Fire, water, earth and heavenly bodies prove to be more worthy than idols, even though each of these elements is subject to another force, so none of them can claim to be GOD. (Chapter 7)
Abraham is still considering his father’s answer when he hears a voice from heaven asking him to leave his father’s house, so he decides to leave and go his way, that is to follow the One GOD. (Chapter 8)

The apocalyptic section begins with the sacrifice of Abraham to the LORD, expanding the biblical account of Genesis 15, 8-17:

The voice of GOD orders Abraham to prepare a sacrifice on Mount Horeb, where he will later receive a prophetic revelation. Abraham is asked to prepare himself for forty days and the angel Yahoel is sent to Abraham to guide him and teach him how to make the sacrifice. Yahoel presents himself as a being “whose name is similar to that of GOD himself”, followed by a long introduction of his duties. (Chapters 9-11)
On Mount Horeb, under the guidance of Yahoel, and assisted by many other angels, Abraham offers his sacrifice, but not without being disturbed by Azazel, the fallen archangel and tempter of humanity. Azazel, in the form of an unclean bird, falls on the carcasses and, speaking with a human voice, tries to persuade Abraham to leave the sacred place. Abraham is not seduced and Yahoel fights against Azazel. Yahoel then adds that the heavenly garments, originally intended for Azazel, now belong to Abraham. (Chapters 11-14)

The third part of Abraham’s Apocalypse narrates Abraham’s ascension to heaven:

Abraham and Yahoel, carried by a dove, ascend to heaven; they see a great light and a great crowd that look like men who change their appearance, who move, prostrate themselves and cry aloud, and a fire comes towards them. They kneel down and worship the fire and a divine voice is heard, like the sound of rushing waters. Yahoel teaches Abraham a hymn of praise to sing, with which they ask the LORD to accept their prayer. When they reach seventh heaven, Abraham sees a classic example of Merkabah: the throne of GOD (but he does not see GOD), the four Living Beings with aspects of man, lion, ox and eagle, and the wheels in many eyes. Yahoel has the task of mitigating the rivalry between the Living Beings. (Chapters 15-18)
To Abraham is shown everything that exists in the heavens: the angels, the heavenly bodies, the earth and everything that moves in it.

He also sees the Leviathan and its possessions in the deepest waters, the rivers and their origin, and the Garden of Eden. He realizes that it is the entire creation as designed by GOD. (Chapters 19-22)
He sees the scene of the Fall: Adam and Eve as huge figures who are deceived by Azazel to make them eat the forbidden fruit (which here is said to be a grape of the vine). Abraham asks GOD why he would allow man to be corrupted by Azazel, and GOD answers that those who do evil have chosen to do so, and have thus been handed over to the power of Azazel. (Chapter 23)
Abraham is instructed to look again at the scene in front of him to see the judgment of man, seeing Cain and “Abel slaughtered and the destruction brought and caused on him because of man without the Law”. (Chapter 24)
Abraham then sees a scene of idolatry with young people massacred, and GOD explains that it is his Temple and his priesthood full of his anger against the people that came out of Abraham. A vision of the destruction of the Temple follows and it is explained to Abraham that this is due to the sin of idolatry by his seed, but it is also expected that men will come to take care of his seed. (Chapters 25-27)
Responding to how long the judgment lasts, DIO reveals a description of recent times: the Age is said to be divided into twelve parts; a character known simply as “a man” will appear on the pagan side, revered by many pagans, but also by some believers, and by Azazel, and insulted and beaten by other Jews; ten plagues will occur; and finally, at the sound of the trumpet, the Chosen One (the Messiah) will be sent to fight the enemies, and judgment will pass on the pagans and the wicked. The book is closed by a brief promise of liberation of the chosen people from oppression. (Chapters 28-32)


Text

(Translation from the Slavonic Text)

PART I

THE APOCALYPSE OF ABRAHAM (Cap. 1-8)

Intro

The Book of the Revelation of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor, the son of Serug, the son of Roog, the son of Arphaxad, the son of Shem, the son of Noah, the son of Lamech, the son of Methuselah, the son of Enoch, the son of Jared [or Arad].

Chapter 1

Abraham’s Conversion from Idolatry

1 On the day I was guarding the Gods of my father 1 Terah and the Gods of my brother Nahor, while I was testing [to find out] which God is in truth mighthy, 2 I [then], Abraham, at the time when my lot came, when I was completing the services2, of my father Terah’s sacrifice to his Gods of wood, of stone, of gold, 3 of silver, of copper, and of iron, having entered their temple for the service, I found a God named Marumath 3 [which was] carved out of stone, fallen forward at the feet of the God [in] iron Nahon.
4 And it came to pass, that when I saw it my heart was perplexed, and I considered in my mind that I, Abraham, could not put it back in its place by myself 5 because it was heavy, [being made] of a large stone. So I went and told my father, 6 and he entered with me, and when we both lifted it to put it in its place, its head fell off, while I was holding it by its head. 7 And it came to pass, when my father saw that the head of his God Marumath had fallen, he said to me: “Abraham! 8 And I said: “Here I am!”, and he said to me: “Bring me the axe and chisels from the house. “And I brought them to him 9 from the house, so he cut another Marumath from another stone, without a head, and he smashed the head that had fallen off Marumath and the rest of Marumath.4

Chapter 2

1 He made five other Gods and he gave then to me [and] ordered me to sell them 2 outside in the street of the town. I saddled my father’s ass and loaded them on it 3 and went out the town to sell them. And behold, merchants from Fandana 5 in Syria were coming with camels, on their way to Egypt 6 to trade.
4 And I asked them a question and they answered me. And one of their camels screamed.
5 The ass took fright and ran away and threw off the Gods, three of them were crushed and two remained [intact].
6 And it came to pass that when the Syrians saw that I had Gods, they said to me: “Why did you not tell us that you had Gods [statues]? We would have bought them 7 before the ass heard the camel’s sound and you and they would not have been lost.
8 Give us at least the Gods that remain and we will give you the proper price.” I considered it in my heart, and they paid both for the smashed Gods and the Gods which remained.
9 For I had been concerned in my heart how I would bring payment to my father, [I decided] 10 to threw the three broken [Gods statues] into the water of the river Gur, which was in that place.
11 And they sank into the depths of the river Gur7 and there was nothing more of them.

1 Abraham is represented as having followed the occupation of his father, that of an idol-maker; cf. Bereshith rabba on Gen 11, 28
2 The sacrifices of the religious service that the father Terah performed and taught to his son Abraham
3 The stone idol Merumath (in Hebrew eben merûmǎ “stone of deceit”) was the chief object of Abraham’s worship at this period
4 In another version (probably more stylistically correct) reads: “And he cut off the head of another God of stone and fastened it upon the God Merumath which fell before, and the head which fell down from him and the rest of the other God he shattered
5 Fandana is most probably refere to Paddan-Aram (Gen 25, 20)
6 The merchants were used to make that route as also attested by the verse in Gen 37, 25
7 According to the oral tradition Mishna ‘Abôdǎ zǎnǎ 3, 3 it was the duty of Jews to destroy an idol by sinking it in the waters of the Dead Sea, from which it could never emerge

Chapters 3

1 When I was still walking on the road, my heart was perplexed within me, and my mind was distracted.
2 I said in my heart, “What is the iniquity of activity which my father is doing?
3 Is it not he rather who is God for his Gods? Because they come into being from his sculpting, his planning, and his [sculptor’s] expertise?
4 Is it not rather fitting that they should worship my father, since they are his work?
5 What is this representation of my father in his works?1
6 Behold, Marumath fell and could not stand up in his sanctuary, nor could I myself lift him until my father came and we raised him up [togheter].
7 And even so we did not succeed [properly since] his head fell [on the ground].
8 And he [my father] put it on another stone of another God, which he had made without head.2
9 And the other five Gods were broken in pieces [falling] down from the ass, who could not help themselves3 and nor to hurt the ass, because4 it smashed them, nor did their shards come up out of the river.
10 And I said in my heart: “If this be so, how can Merumath, my father’s God, having the head of another stone, and himself being made of another stone, rescue a man, or hear a man’s prayer and reward him?”.

Chapters 4

1 And [while I was] thinking thus, I came to my father’s house, I watered the ass and gave him hay.
2 Then I took out the silver and placed it in the hand of my father Terah.
3 When he saw it he was glad [and] he said: “Blessed are you Abraham, by the God of my Gods, since you have brought me the price for the Gods [statues], so that my work was not vain.”
4 And I answered and said to him: “Hear, O my father, Terah! The Gods are blessing in you, because you are a God for them, because you made them, for their blessing is perdition and their power is vain.
5 They did not help themselves, [so] how then they can help you or bless me? I was good for you in this transaction, because by [using] my intelligence I brought you the silver for the for the broken Gods [statues].”
6 And when he heard my words, he became furiously angry with me, because I had spoken harsh words against his Gods. 

1 This part is in some text absent, apparently could be a later interpolation
2 Like on the Book Wisdom 13, 10 (“a useless stone, the work of an ancient hand”)
3 Like on the Book Wisdom 13, 16 (“knowing that it is unable to help itself”)
4
The word is ‘aph ki in Hebrew that could also mean “indeed”, “although” or “that”

Chapters 5

1 I, however, having pondered my father’s anger, I went out. So afterward when I had gone out [the house], he called me saying, “Abraham!” And I said: “Here I am”.
2 So he said: “Take and collect the splinters of the wood out of which I made Gods of pine-wood before you came, 3 and make ready for me the food of the mid-day meal.”
4 And it came to pass, when I collected the splinters of wood, I found among them a little God [statue] 5 which had been lying among the brush-wood on my left, and on his forehead was written: God Barisat.1
6 And I did not inform my father that I had found the wooden God Barisat under the chips.
7 And it came to pass, when I had laid the splinters in the fire in order that I might prepare the food for my father, 8 8 and going out to ask a question regarding the food, I placed Barisat before the kindled fire, I placed Barisat before the kindled fire, 9 saying threateningly to him: “Pay careful attention, Barisat, [that] the fire do not die down until I come back. [And] if the fire goes out, blow on it so it flares up.”
10 And I went out and accomplished my purpose.2
11 When I returned I found Barisat fallen on his back, and his feet surrounded by fire burning fiercely.
12 I burst into a fit of laughter, and I said to myself: “Truly, O Barisat, you know how to light a fire and cook food”.
13 And it came to pass, while saying this in my laughter, I saw [that Barisat] was gradually burnt up by the fire and reduced to ashes.
14 So I brought the food to my father, and he did eat.
15 I gave him wine and milk,3 and he was pleased, blessing his God Merumath.
16 So I said to him: “O father Terah, bless not thy God Merumath, and praise him not, but rather praise your God Barisat 17 because, loving you more, he threw himself into the fire in order to cook your food.”
18 And he said to me: “And where is he now?” [And I said:] “He is burnt to ashes in the fierceness of the fire and is reduced to dust.”
19 And he said: “Great is the power of Barisat! I [will] make another today, and tomorrow he will prepare my food.”

Chapters 6

1 When I, Abraham, heard words like this from my father, I laughed in my mind 2 sighed in the grief and in the anger of my soul, saying in my heart: 3 “How then can that which is made by him be a helper of my father? 4 Or can he have subordinated [his] body to his soul, his soul to a spirit, and the spirit to stupidity and ignorance?”.
5 And I said in my heart, “It is only proper to endure evil that I may throw my mind to purity and I will expose my thoughts clearly to him.”
6 [So] I answered and said: “O father Terah, whichever of these you praisest as a God, you err in your thought.
7 Behold the Gods of my brother Nahor4, which stand in the holy sanctuary, are more worthy of honour than yours. 8 For behold Zucheus, the God of my brother Oron5, is more worthy of honour than thy God Merumath, 9 because he is made of gold which is highly valued by people, and when he groweth old in years he will be remolded.
10 Instead if your God Merumath is changed or broken, he will not be renewed, because he is a [piece of] stone, 11 [and] the which is also the case with the God Joavon6 who stands with Zucheus over the other Gods. 12 He is also more venerable than the God Barisat [since] he is carved from wood and forged from silver.
13 Because he too is a term of comparison, being valued by man according to external appearance. 14 But Barisat, your God, when he was still not carved, was rooted in the earth7, being great and wonderful, with branches and blossom, praised.
15 But you made him with an axe, and by your skill he was made a God. 16 And behold his fatness is already withered and perished, he is fallen from the height to the earth, he come from greatness to smallness, and the appearance of his countenance vanished.
17 And he Barisat himself is burnt up by fire and reduced to ashes and is no more. 18 And thou say: “I will make another and tomorrow he will make my food for me”. 19 But he hath perished to utter destruction.

1 Barisat coming from semitic languages “bar ’ishtǎ” “son of the fire”
La frase ebraica è ‘ǎsǎ’ esǎ, che significa “eseguire un piano” (Is 30, 1)
3 Il vino a volte era mescolato non solo con l’acqua ma anche con il latte in Palestina; cfr. Cantico dei Cantici 5, 1 (ho bevuto il mio vino con il mio latte)
4 In alcuni testi il nome è “Ora”. Originariamente nella Bibbia Nahor e Haran sono i due fratelli su Abramo secondo il Libro della Genesi (Gn 11, 27)
5 Una diversa trascrizione del nome Haran
6 L’altro nome dell’idolo che si trova in diverse traslitterazioni è Joauv, Joavon o Ioav
7
Si parla di quando il pezzo di legno cresceva come albero

Chapters 7

1 Behold, the fire is more worthy1 of honour than all things formed, because even that which is not subjected is subjected unto it, and things easily perishable are mocked by its flames.
2 So even more worthy of honour is water, because it conquereth the fire and satisfie the earth.
3 But even it I do not call God, because the waters subside under the earth and are subject to it.
4 But I will not call it a goddess either, for it is dried by the sun [and] subordinated to man for his work.
5 [So] more venerable among the Gods, I would say is the Sun, for with its rays it illuminates the whole world and the various atmospheres.
6 [But] nor will I place among the Gods the one who at night and by [the] clouds its course is obscured.
7 Nor again shall I call the moon or the stars Gods, because they also in their season obscure [their] light at night.
8 [So] listen Terah my father, I shall seek before you2 the God who created everything, not these we consider as Gods.
9 Who then is He? or what is He? 10 Who made the heavens crimson and the sun golden, 11 who has given light to the moon, and the stars with it. 12 Who has dried the earth in the midst of the many waters, 13 who set you yourself among the things and who has sought me out in the confusion of my thoughts?
14 “Yet may God reveal Himself to us through Himself!”

Chapters 8

1 And it came to pass while I was thinking things like these with regard to my father Terah in the court of my house, 2 the voice of the Mighty One3 came down from heaven in a stream of fire, 3 saying and calling: “Abraham, Abraham!”, and I said: “Here am I”. 4 And He said: “You are seeking in the understanding of your heart for the God of Gods, the Creator.
5 I am He. Go out from your father Terah, and get out from the house, that you too may not be slain in the sins of your father’s house.”
6 So I went out, and it came to pass that before I succeeded in getting out in front of the entrance of the court, 7 there came a sound of a great thunder and burnt him and his house. 8 So everything in his house, [was] down to the ground, [around] forty cubits.4

1 can be also traslated “venerable”
2
Literally “I will investigate (or examine) before your concerning”
3
From the Hebrew hǎ’el, “GOD” cf. 4Ezra 9, 45
4
The Midrashic story about the burning of Terah’s house is really based upon an interpretation of the Biblical “Ur of the Chaldees” (Gen 11, 31 ; 15, 7). Here “Ur” is interpreted as “fire”, Abraham was brought out of the “Ur” (“fire”) by the LORD

PART II

THE APOCALYPSE OF ABRAHAM (Cap. 9-32)

Chapters 9

Abraham receives a Divine Command to offer Sacrifice after Forty Days as a Preparation for a Divine Revelation (Gen 15)

1 Then a voice came to me speaking twice: “Abraham! Abraham!” and I said: “Here I am!” 2 And He said, “Behold it is I, fear not for I am with you, for I AM before the ages, the Mighty God who created the first light of the world. I am a shield over you and your helper.”
3 “Go, take me a young heifer of three years old, and a she-goat of three years, and a ram of three years, a turtledove and a pigeon1, and bring me a pure sacrifice. 4 And in this sacrifice I will lay before you the ages to come, 5 and make known to you what is [remained] reserved, and you shall see great things which you have not hitherto seen: 6 because you have loved to search me out, and I have named you my beloved2.7 But abstain from every form of food that comes forth out of the fire, and from the drinking of wine3, 8 and from anointing yourself with oil for forty days4. 9 Then set forth for me the sacrifice which I have commanded you, in a place which I will show you on a high mountain, 10 and there I will show you the ages which have been created and established by my word, 11 and I will make known to you what shall come to pass in them on those who have done evil and righteousness in the generations of men.”

Chapters 10

Abraham to Mount Horeb for 40 days to offer the Sacrifice (Chapters 10-12)

1 And it came to pass when I heard the voice of Him who spoke such words to me, 2 and I looked here and there, I found no breath of man5.
3 So my spirit was frightened, and my soul seemed as departed from me, 4 for I fell down as a stone, as a dead man upon the earth, and had no more strength to stand.6
5 And while I was thus lying with my face towards the earth, I heard the voice of the Holy One speaking, 6 “Go Jaoel7, and by means of my ineffable Name raise up yonder man and strengthen him, so that he recovers from his trembling.”
7 And the angel whom He had sent came to me in the likeness of a man and grasped me by my right hand and set me up upon my feet and said to me, 8 “Stand up Abraham, 0 friend of GOD who loves you, let not the trembling of man seize you.
9 For lo! I have been sent to you to strengthen you and bless you in the name of God, 10 the Creator of heavenly and earthly things who loves you. Be fearless and hasten to Him.
11 I am called Jaoel by Him who moves those who exist with me on the seventh expanse over the heavens8, 12 a power in virtue of the ineffable Name that is dwelling in me. 13 I am the one who has been given [power] to repress, according to His commandment, 14 [and] restrain the threats of living beings against the cherubims9. 15 To teach those who carry Him, the song of the seventh hour of the night10 of man. 16 I am ordered to restrain the Leviathan, for every single attack and menace of every single reptile are subject unto me.11 17 I am he who has been commissioned to loosen Hades, and destroy him who stares at the dead. 18 I am the one who was commissioned to set on fire thy father’s house together with him, because he displayed reverence for dead [idols]. 19 I have been sent to bless you now, and the land which the Eternal One, whom you have invoked, has prepared for you 20 and for your sake I have wended my way upon earth.
21 Stand up Abraham! Go without fear, be right glad and rejoice, for I am with you. For a age-lasting honour has been prepared for you by the Eternal One.
22 Go, fulfil the sacrifice commanded, for lo! I have been appointed to be with you 23, and with the generations that will spring from you and with me Michael blesses you for ever. Be of good cheer and go!”

1 References Gen 15, 9
2 Can be also traslated as “my friend”, refering to a “lover” as Abraham, GOD’s chosen one (“lover of GOD,” cf. 2Cr 20, 7 ; Is 41, 8 & James 2, 23) someone that receive a special revelation.
3 This passages seems to confirm that also Abraham made the nazir vow
4 Anointing with oil was a mark of joy used in connexi on wit h feasting (cf. Eccles. 9, 8 ; Ps. 23, 5 & Amos 6, 6), and omitted in mourning as a sign of grief (cf. 2 Sam. 14, 2 & Dan. 10, 3)
5 The “breath” as a semitic word is also used in reference to the “Soul”, or rather the “Spirit”. GOD is perceived in the Old Testament as a “breath” or a “wind”, a translation of the Hebrew word “ruach” (and understood in Christian circles with the Holy Spirit). This breath corresponds to the “substance” of GOD penetrating the living being as through a breath, a wind, a life force that generates and sustains the existence of all human beings (Genesis 1, 2 ; Numbers 27, 16 ; Job 33, 4 and others)
6 Like Ezek. 1, 28 ; Dan. 8, 17 & 10, 8
7 The name of the angel Joel (Jaoel) is differently spelt in the various texts (like in the Slavonic version of The Book of Adam). That name transliterate the Hebrew Yahoel, represented as a being possessed of the power of the ineffable Name, a function assigned in the Rabbinical writings to Metatron, “whose name is like unto that of GOD Himself” (T.B. Sanh. 38b). The name Yahoel (Jaoel) is evidently a substitute for the ineffable name YAHWEH, the writing out of which in full was forbidden.
8 The Hebrew word for heaven “shamayim” is only ever written in plural form. The understanding of the seven heavens have not to be consider literal but allegorical, as a description of how GOD interacts with His creation. The Jewish mystical text the Zohar, claims there are 390 heavens and 70,000 worlds.
9
“The living creatures of the Cherubim” are the “holy hayyoth” of Ezek. Chapter 1 who are expressly identified with the [heavenly] Cherubim in Ezek. 10, 20. They are four in number , and eachone with four faces, and are the bearers of the divine throne.
10 According to T.B. Abôdǎ zǎrǎ 3b, “GOD sits [at night] and listens to the song of the living creatures [hayyoth], as it is said (Ps. 42, 8): By day the LORD commandeth His loving-kindness [i. e. judges and sustains the world, and occupies Himself in the study of the Law], and in the night His song is with me.” In T.B. Hag. 12b it is said that the companies of ministering angels in the fifth heaven “utter His song in the night, and are si lent in the day for the sake of the glory of Israel .” In Pirke de R. Eliezer 4 Michael is represented as the head of the first of four bands of ministering angels who utter praise before the Holy One; cf. also Mekilta to Ex. 15, 1; and in the New Testament Luke 2, 13 (the angelic song at night).
11 Michael is represented in Kabbalistic literature as the angel-prince who is set over the element of water (cf. Lueken, Michael, p. 54); this conception is probably old, for on it rests the haggadic story that when Solomon married Pharaoh’s daughter, Michael drove into the bed of the sea a stick, around which slime gathered, and on which Rome (tha Empire that destroyed the Second Temple of Jerusalem) was ultimately built (Midrash rabba on Cant. 1, 6, in the name of R. Levi, end of third century A.D.). Michael is also the prince of snow, which belongs to the element of water (Deut. rabba 5, 12). Leviathan as the sea monster par excellence would be subject to him, with all reptiles, though the task of slaying the monster is assigned, by Jewish legend, to Gabriel; but Michael and Gabriel are often confused in these connexions. The representation here is parallel in a sense with that which depicts Michael as the enemy and conqueror of Satan (cf. Rev. 12, 7)

Chapters 11

1 And I rose up and saw him who had grasped me by the right hand and set me upon my feet, 2 and the appearance of his body was like sapphire, the look of his countenance like crysolite, 3 the hair of his head like snow, the turban on his head like the appearance of the rainbow, 4 the clothing of his garments like purple and a golden sceptre was in his right hand.
5 And he said to me, “Abraham!” And I said, “Here I am, your servant.”
6 And he said, “Let not my appearance frighten you, nor my speech trouble your soul.
7 Come with me, and I will be with you, visible, until the sacrifice, 8 but after the sacrifice always invisible.
9 Be of good cheer and come!” 

Chapters 12

1 And we went, the two of us together, for forty days and [forty] nights1, 2 and I ate no bread and drank no water2, because my food and my drink was to see the angel who was with me, and to hear his speech.
3 And we came to the Mount of GOD, Mount Horeb, 4 and I said to the Angel: “Singer of the Eternal One, I have no sacrifice with me3, 5 nor am I aware of the place of an altar on the mountain, how could I bring a sacrifice?”
6 And he said to me: “Look around you.” And when I looked around 7 there following us were all the prescribed animals, the young heifer, the she goat, the ram, the turtle dove and the pigeon.
8 And the angel said to me: “Abraham!” And I said: “Here am I.”
9 And he said, “Slaughter all these animals, exactly into halves. But do not cut the birds apart.
10 And give these to the men whom I will show you, standing by you, for these are the altar upon the mountain 11 to offer a sacrifice to the Eternal, but the turtle dove and the pigeon give to me, 12 for I will ascend upon the wings of the bird4, so that you may be able to see in heaven upon the earth, 13 in the sea, in the abyss, in the underworld, in the Garden of Eden, in its rivers, 14 and in the fullness of the whole world and its circle. You shall gaze into them all.”

1 Like in 1King 19, 8
2 John 4, 31-34. Elijah ate and drank before starting on his journey to Horeb, and “went in the strength of that meal forty days and forty nights” (1 Kings 19, 8): cf. Ex. 24, 18. 
3 Like Gen. 22, 7
4 The ascension to heaven is accomplished on the wings of a dove (cf. Ps 55, 6-7: “Oh that I had wings like a dove”). A white and peaceful animal, pure in symbolism, the dove is often used to represent Israel and is also associated with the Holy Spirit (Mt 3, 16)

Chapters 13

Abraham accomplishes the Sacrifice and refuses to be diverted from his purpose by Azazel
(Chapters 13-14)

1 And I did everything according to the command of the angel 2 and gave the [other] angels who had come to us the divided animals, 3 but the angel Jaoel took the birds.
4 And I waited until the evening sacrifice. 5 There flew an unclean bird down upon the carcases1, and I drove it away.
6 Although the unclean bird spoke to me and said: 7 “Abraham, what are you doing upon these holy heights, 8 where no man eats or drinks, nor is there upon them the food of man2, 9 but these heavenly beings consume everything with fire, and will burn you up [as well].
10 Forsake the man who is with you and flee, 11 for if you ascend into the heights they will make an end of.”
11 And it came to pass, when I saw the bird speak I said to the angel: 12 “What is this, my lord?” And he said: “This is ungodliness, this is Azazel.”3
13 And he said to it: “Disgrace upon you, Azazel! For Abraham’s lot is in heaven, but yours is upon the earth.4
14 Because you have chosen and loved this for the dwelling place of your uncleanness.
15 Therefore the ETERNAL Mighty LORD made you to be a dweller upon the earth.
16 Through you [exist] every evil spirit of lies, and through you the wrath [are unleashed] the trials for generations of ungodly men.
17 For GOD, the ETERNAL Mighty One, has not permitted that the bodies of the righteous should be in your hand, 18 in order that thereby the life of the righteous and the destruction of the unclean may be assured.5
19 Hear this my friend, and begone with shame from me. 20 For it has not been given to you to play the tempter in regard to all the righteous.
21 Depart from this man! You cannot lead him astray. 22 He is an enemy to you, and to those who follow you and love what you desire.
23 For, behold, the vesture which in heaven was formerly yours has been set aside for him6, 24 and the mortality which was his has been transferred to you.”

Chapters 14

1 And the angel said to me: “Know that from henceforth the Eternal One has chosen you.
2 Be of good courage and use this authority so far as I bid you, against him who slanders the truth.
3 Should I not be able to put him to shame who has scattered over the earth the secrets of heaven7, 4 and has rebelled against the Mighty One8? Say to him: “Become the burning coal of the furnace of the earth!
5 Go Azazel, into the inaccessible parts of the earth9, for your heritage is to be over those who are with you, 6 the ones being born with the stars and clouds, and with the men whose portion you are10, 7 even those who exist on account of your being, justification shall be your enemy.
8 Now [then] depart from me by your perdition!
9 And I uttered the words that the angel taught me, then the angel said to me: 10 “Answer him not! For GOD has given him power over those who answer him.”
11 And the angel spoke to me again saying: “However much he [continue] speak to you, answer him not, 12 in order that he may have no free access to your [soul], because the ETERNAL One has given him strenght and power in this respect.”
13 And I did that which was commanded me by the angel, 14 and no matter how much he spoke to me, I didn’t answered him nothing. 

1 Like in Genesis 15, 11
2
Following the domain of the spiritual sphere, where people do not eat and drink almost to emulate all celestial spirits who are incorporeal, and therefore do not need to eat and drink to feed themselves
3
Azazel is the fallen archangel, the seducer of mankind, who here (like in the Book of Enoch) fills the role of Satan. He is essentially the spirit of uncleanness, and in this character, is depicted in our text as descending in the form of an unclean bird
4
Again Azazel is clearly represented as the fallen archangel, Satan who was expelled from heaven by GOD. According to 2Enoch 29, 5 the dominion of Satan, after his expulsion, was the air (cf. Eph 2, 2), but here Azazel is an “inhabitant of the earth” where he controls the evil powers (cf. John 12, 31 “prince of this world”, Matthew 4, 8). In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (see also Asc. Is.) Beliar is the arch-demon, the head of evil spirits and the source of impurity and lies. However, Azazel, like all celestial beings, can fly in the air (Gen. Rabba 19) and take any form, in this case he tries to tempt Abraham taking the shape of a bird
5
According to T.B. Baba bathra, 17a the “evil impulse” (yeser hǎ-ra‘) had no power over the three righteous patriarchs (tzadik): Abraham, Isaac and Jacob
6 The “heavenly garments” is the same concept found in Isaiah’s Ascension: “which are kept high in seventh heaven” (Asc. Is. 4, 16) and refers to the spiritual bodies in which the righteous will be clothed in heaven (cf. 1Enoch 62, 15 “garments of glory”, “garments of life”; 2Enoch 22, 8 where Michael was ordered by GOD to “take away from Enoch his earthly garment […] and clothe him with the garment of My Glory”). In the Ascension of Isaiah the prophet cannot ascend to the highest heaven until his “garment” has been brought to him (cf. Is. 9, 1-2) and in that place he sees the crowns and garments that have been reserved for the righteous (ibid. 9, 13 ff.); cf. also Asc. Is. 8, 14 ; Revelation 3, 4 ; 6, 11 ; 7, 9 ; 2Cor. 5, 3
7 The fallen angel Azazel (1Enoch 8, 1) is represented as having brought moral ruin on earth by teaching men the use of magic, astrology and science (the destructive one as in the case of those who produce weapons of war). There is a close parallelism also with 1Enoch 9, 6: “See what Azazel hath done, how he hath taught all unrighteousness on earth and revealed the secret things of the world which were wrought in the heavens.”
8 Probably referring to LXX ò ìozuqóç (Hebrew hǎ ’el) like the term in Hebrew ’abâr, “Mighty One” (of Jacob) Gen 49, 24 (LXX, ò 6uváotyç), Is 49, 26 (LXX, íoznç)
9 Those parts of the earth are reserved for him till the final judgement. In 1Enoch 10, 4 Azazel is condemned to be bound and placed in Dudâêl, the desert, and there to be imprisoned in darkness till the final judgement
10 The wicked are Azazel’s “portion”, the evil people that have been assigned to him from the beginning. The same predestination in Wisdom 2, 24 (“by the envy of the devil death entered into the world, and they that are his portion make trial thereof”), Ap. Bar. 42, 7 (“for corruption will take those that belong to it, and life those that belong to it”) and 1Enoch 41, 8. As for the phrase: “to be born with the stars and clouds” are those who by birth and creation belong to the sphere of night and darkness, as opposed to the righteous, who belong to the realm of light.

Chapters 15

Abraham and the Angel ascension to Heaven
(Chapters 15-16)

1 And it came to pass when the sun went down, behold there was the smoke as of a furnace1, 2 and the angels who had the portions of the sacrifice ascended from the top of the smoking furnace.
3 And the angel took me with his right hand and set me upon the right wing of the pigeon, 4 and set himself on the left wing of the turtle dove, neither of which birds had been slaughtered, 5 and he bore me to the borders of the flaming fire, and we ascended upon many winds to the heavens which were above the firmament.
6 And I saw in the air on the heights to which we ascended, a strong light impossible to describe 7 and within the light a fiercely burning fire of people, many people, of male appearance, all constantly changing in aspect and form 8 running and being transformed, worshipping and crying with a sound of words that I could not distinguish.

Chapters 16

1 And I said to the angel: “Why have you now brought me up here, and why my eyes cannot now see distinctly?2 a
2 Why I am growing weak and my spirit [feels like] is departing from me?”.
3 And he said to me: “Remain close by me and do not fear, for the One whom you cannot see is now coming towards us with a great voice of holiness3. 4 The Eternal One who loves you, but you yourself cannot see Him.
5 However you must not allow your spirit to grow faint on account of the choirs of those who cry out, 6 for I am with you to strengthen you.”

1 Like in Gn 15, 17
2 The mortal man, conscious of his weakness is blinded by the heavenly light
3 GOD is Himself invisible because is simply everywhere and everything

Chapters 17

Abraham’s Celestial Song and prays for Enlightenment

1 And while he was thus speaking [behold] a fire1 came all around us, 2 and a voice [was heard] from the fire, like a roar of great waters, like the sound of the sea in a violent motion.2
3 And I felt [the need] to bow [face down] in worship, and I saw that [also] the angel that was with me bowed his head3 and [began] to worship.
4 But the surface of the high place where I felt like I had my feet was constantly changing its inclination, floating like great waves on the surface of the sea.
5 And the angel said: “Worship, Abraham, and utter the song which I shall now teach you.
6 Utter it without ceasing, that is, without pause, in one continuous strain from beginning to end.”
7 And the song which he taught me to sing had words appropriate to that sphere in which we then stood, 8 for each sphere in heaven has its own song of praise, and only those who dwell there know how to utter it, 9 and those upon earth cannot know or utter it except they be taught by the messengers of heaven.
10 And the words of that song were of this import and signification:

11 “ETERNAL Mighty, Holy El, GOD only-supreme4
12 You who are the Self-originated, the Beginningless One Incorruptible,
13 Spotless, Uncreated, Immaculate, Immortal, Self-complete, Self-illuminating,
14 without father, without mother, unbegotten,
15 exalted, Fiery One! Lover of menkind, Benevolent One, Bountiful One,
16 Jealous over me, and the Most compassionate5, Eli, My GOD,
17 Eternal, Jehovah Sabaoth6, Very Glorious El7, El, El, El, Jah El!
18 You are the One whom my soul has loved!
19 Eternal Protector, Shining like Fire, Whose voice is like the thunder, Whose look is like the lightning8,
20 You are the All-seeing One, Who receives the prayers of all such as honour You,
21 and turn away the requests of those who embarrass You with their provocations.
22 Who dissolves the confusions of the world
23 which arise from the ungodly and the righteous mixed up in the confusion of the corruptible age,
24 and renewing the age of the righteous.
25 Shine 0 LORD, shine as a light, even as that light with which you clothed Yourself on the first day of Creation,
26 shine as the Light of the Morning on Your creatures
27 and let it be Day upon Earth,
28 for in these heavenly dwelling places there is no need of any other light
29 than the unspeakable splendour from the light of Your Countenance.
30 O answer my prayer, 0 be well-pleased with it,
31 O accept my sacrifice which You have prepared for me to offer,
32 Accept me favourably, and show me, teach me, all that You have promised!”

Chapters 18

Abraham’s Vision of the Divine Throne

1 And while I was still reciting the song, the mouth of the fire which was on the surface rose up on high.
2 And I heard a voice like the roaring of the sea, nor did it cease on account of the rich abundance of the fire.
3 And as the fire raised itself up, ascending into the heights, I saw under the fire a throne of fire9, 4 and round about it the watchfulness of many eyes, even the all-seeing ones reciting their song, 5 and under the throne four fiery Living Ones singing, and their appearance was one, and each one had four faces.
6 And such was the appearance of their countenance, that each one had one face of a lion, one of a man, one of an ox and one of an eagle, 7 and because of their four faces upon their bodies, they had sixteen faces [in total], and each [creature] had three pairs of wings, from their shoulders, from their sides, and from their loins.
8 With the wings from the shoulders they covered their faces and with the wings from their loins they covered their feet, 9 while the two middle wings were spread out for flying straight forward.10
10 And it came to pass that when they had ended their singing they looked at one another and threatened one another.11
11 And it came to pass that when the angel who was with me saw that they were threatening each other, 12 he left me and went speedly near them and [they] turned the countenance of each one away from the countenance immediately facing him, 13 in order that they might not look upon each other.
14 And he began to teach them the song of peace which has its origin in the ETERNAL One.
15 And as I stood alone and looked, I saw behind the Living Ones a chariot with fiery wheels, 16 each wheel full of eyes round about, and over the wheels was the throne which I had seen, 17 and which was covered with fire, and the fire encircled it round about. 18 And lo! An indescribable fire contained a mighty fiery host, and I heard its holy voice like the voice of a man.12

1 The Divine Presence is revealed by the element of fire (Ex 3, 2 ; Deut 4, 36 ; Ps. 78, 14) and GOD Himself is spoken of as “a consuming fire” (Deut. 4, 24 ; 9, 3). The fiery chariot which bore the Divine Presence is like in Ezek. 1, 4 (“a great cloud with a fire infolding itself”)
2 Rev 1, 15 (Dan. 10, 6). This feature is part of the supernatural colouring so characteristic of Apocalyptic events. The heavenly light is of dazzling brilliance, the divine voice is like thunder (cf. 2 Enoch 34, 7: “like great thunder with continual agitation of the clouds”). Also like Is 17, 12
3 As the orthodox tradition teaches (and still followed today by muslims in prayer) the divine honour paid to GOD alone and to none other, in his highest form by prosternation
4 The opening lines of the Jewish medieval hymn: “Adon ’ôlǎm” “LORD of the world He reigned alone, while yet creation was unformed,” and for “self-originated” the phrase “beginningless” (belî re’shîth) applied to GOD in the same context. The divine name Shaddai was traditionally explained as “the self-sufficient” (she-dai hu lô)
5 This Divine attribute explained in Deut. 5, 10 is the “lover of men” the “ compassionate” and contains a short summary of the divine attributes based upon Ex. 34, 6-7, a passage much used in Biblical literatur e (Wisdom 15, 1). These attributes are predicable especially of the Tetragrammaton, which connotes more particularly the elements of mercy and compassion, while “Elohâm” denotes multiplied power (the Almighty), and is associated with the idea of justice and fixed law. “El” is part of “Elohâm and” denotes simply power
6 The use of Sabaoth (sometimes transliterated as Zebaiot) alone as a design ation of GOD is un usual but not un exampled; cf. Ex. rabba 3, 6 [in answer to Moses’ question, What is His name? Ex. 3, 13]: “The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Dost thou seek to know my Name? I am called according to my deeds. I am called at various times by the names ’El Shaddai, Sabaoth, Elohim, Jahveh. When I judge the creatures I am named Elohim, and when I wage war against the wicked I am called Sabaoth, and when I suspend (the punishment) of man’s sins I am called El Shaddai, and when I compassionate my world I am called Jahveh, because Jahveh means nought else but the attribute of compassion, as it is said (E x. 34,. 6) “Jahveh, Jahveh a GOD full of compassion”
7 El is a Name used as a substitution for the Tetragrammaton, to not mention the Holy four letters
8 Like the description in Dan. 10, 6 (“and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire”) and Ezek. 1, 13-14
9 Like in Enoch 20, 3 the vision of GOD’s throne of glory was the central point of the mystical experience
10 Like in Rev. 9, 8 (based on Is. 6, 2) and Ezek. 1, 6 the four “living creatures” have each four wings
11 The celestial creatures (hǎ-‘elyônîm) are not perfect, they have rivalry between them, even if for a just cause, serving the CREATOR at their best. In Jewish literature that dealt with the theme of the Divine Chariot and the Throne (Merkaba) these creatures that guard the Chariot are represented as ferocious and warlike, armed with fiery weapons
12 All this final part report words found in Ezek. Chapter 1

Chapters 19

GOD discloses to Abraham the Powers of Heaven

1 And a voice came to me out of the midst of the fire saying: “Abraham! Abraham!”, and I answered saying: “Here am I!”
2 And he said: “Consider the expanses which are under the firmament on which you are now placed 3 and see how on no single expanse is there any other than the One whom you have sought, even the One who loves you!”
4 And while he was yet speaking, the expanses opened, and there below me were the heavens, 5 and I saw upon the seventh firmament upon which I stood a fire widely extended, 6 and the light which is the secret of life, and the dew with which GOD will awaken the dead, 7 and the spirits of the departed righteous, the spirits of those souls who have yet to be born, 8 judgment and righteousness, peace and blessing, an innumerable company of ange, 9 the Living Ones and the Power of the Invisible Glory that sat above the Living Ones.
10 And I looked downwards from the mountain on which I stood to the sixth firmament, 11 and there I saw a multitude of angels of pure spirit, incorporeal, whose duty was to carry out the commands of the fiery angels who were upon the seventh firmament, as I was standing suspended over them.
13 And behold, upon this sixth firmament there were no other powers of any form, save only the angels of pure spirit.
14 And He commanded that the sixth firmament should be removed from my sight, 14 and I saw there on the fifth firmament the powers of the stars which carry out the commands laid upon them, 15 and the elements of the earth obeyed them.

Chapters 20

The Promise of a lineage

1 And the ETERNAL Mighty One said to me: “Abraham! Abraham!”, and I said: “Here am I!”.
2 So He said: “Consider from above the stars which are beneath you, 3 and number them for me, and make known to me their number.”
4 And I said: “How can I? For I am but a man of the dust of the earth.1
5 And He said to me: “As the number of the stars and their power, 6 so will I make your seed a nation and a people set apart for me as my own inheritance, as distinct from that of Azazel. 7 And yet I include [also] Azazel in my house.2
8 And I said: “O ETERNAL Mighty One! Let your servant speak before You 9 and let not your anger be kindled against your chosen one! For lo! before I came up hither, Azazel [also] inveighed against me. 10 And so, [since] now he is not before You, how can You consider Yourself with him?

1 Like in Gen. 18, 27, & 4Ezra 4, 5-6
2 The underlying idea seems to be that GOD’s heritage, the created world, is, under the conditions of sin, “shared” with Azazel means largely under the dominion of evil powers. This is one of the fundamental conceptions of Apocalyptic Texts, while on the other hand, the Chosen People (the illuminati, enlightened) who are ideally identified with the righteous will redeem the world, and in themselves make it once again fit to be GOD’s heritage. From another point of view the same question is discussed in 4Ezra as the problem, why, if the world was created for Israel, is Israel disinherited? (cf. 4Ezra 6, 38-59). Because everything proceeds according to the plans of GOD, Israel (understood as the entire people of believers and not just one religion) had to grow up separate from the House of Judas and then be redeemed all together

Chapters 21

A Vision of Sin and Paradise: the Mirror of the World

1 And He said to me, “Look now beneath your feet at the firmaments 2 and understand the creation represented and foreshadowed in this expanse, the creatures who exist upon it, and the ages prepared for it.”
3 And I saw beneath the surface of my feet, even beneath the sixth heaven and what was therein it. 4 Then the earth and its fruits, and what moved upon it and its animate beings, 5 the power of its men and the ungodliness of some of its souls and the righteous deeds of other souls. 6 I saw the lower regions and the perdition therein, the abyss and its torments. 7 I saw the sea and its islands, its monsters and its fishes, and the Leviathan and his dominion, his refuge and his caves, 8 and the world which lay above him, his movements and the destructions of the world on his account.
9 I saw [from] there the streams and the rivers and the rising of their waters and their windings in their courses.
10 I saw [from] there the Garden of Eden and its fruits, the source of the river that issues from it, 11 the trees and their blossoms, and the ones who behaved righteously.
12 And I saw therein their foods and their blessedness, 13 I saw there a great multitude, men and women and children, half of them on the right side, 14 and half of them on the left side.1

Chapters 22

The Fall of Man and its consequence (Chapters 22-25)

1 And I said: “0 ETERNAL, Mighty One! What is this vision and picture of the creatures?”.
2 And He said to me: “This is my will for those who exist in the divine world-counsel, for thus it seemed well-pleasing in my sight, 3 and so afterwards I gave the commandments to them through My word. 4 So that everything I had decided to create had already been planned before [as you see] in this [picture], 5 it was in front of Me before it was created, [as] you have [just] seen”.2
6 And I said: “O LORD, Mighty and ETERNAL! Who are the people in this picture [that I’m seeing] on this side and that?”.
7 And He said to me, “Those who are on the left side3 are all those, born before your day and afterwards, some destined for judgment and restoration, 8 and others for vengeance and cutting off at the end of the ages. 9 But those on the right side3 of the picture, they are the people who have been set apart for me, 10 and whom I have ordained to be born of your line and called my people, even some of those who derive from Azazel.

1 The whole world is divided into two parts: good and evil, the people of GOD on the right and the other “nations” on the left
2 The entire course of creation, the origin of evil, and the rise of the righteous has already been predetermined by the CREATOR. A strong expression of this conception can be found in 4Ezra 4, 36-37. Rabbinic literature speaks of Israel’s election as predestined before the creation of the world, and this idea is also applied to the name of the Messiah, the Torah, and repentance. In such connections, the figure of GOD is often used as an architect who follows projects. A passage from Gen. Rabba 1 says: “When a man erects a building, when the building is erected he enlarges it as he erected it, or otherwise he enlarges it from the base, and above it he adds parts: but the Saint… does not act like that, because “the heavens” (that He created) were the heavens that had ascended in (His) thought, and “the earth” (that He created) was the earth that had ascended in His thought. It was, however, the Essenes who insisted on absolute predestination. The Rabbis, while allowing a certain predestination, emphasized man’s moral freedom: “Everything is foreseen, but free will is granted”, as Rabbi Akiba said
3 Of the people on the left, who represent the pagan world as opposed to believers, some will be spared during the final judgment, while the others will be annihilated. It is said that the Messiah will summon all nations, some of them will be saved, while others will be extinguished

Chapters 23

1 Now look again in the picture, and see who it is who seduced Eve, 2 and what is the fruit of the Tree, and you will know what is to be, 3 and how it shall be with your seed among the people at the end of the days of the age.
4 All that you cannot understand I will make known to you for you are well-pleasing in my sight, 5 and I will tell you of those things which are kept in my heart.
6 And I looked into the picture, and my eyes ran to the side of the Garden of Eden, 7 and I saw there a man of imposing height and mighty in stature1, incomparable in aspect, 8 and he was embracing a woman, who likewise approximated to the aspect of his size and stature.
9 And they were standing under a tree of the Garden of Eden, 10 and the fruit of this tree was like a bunch of grapes of the vine.
11 Standing behind the tree was one who had the aspect of a Serpent having hands and feet like those of a man2, 12 and wings on its shoulders, six pairs of wings, so that there were six wings on the right and six on the left.
13 And as I continued looking, I saw the man and the woman eating the fruit from the tree.
14 And I said: “Who are these who are embracing, who is the one between them who is behind the tree, 15 and what is the fruit that they are eating?”.
16 And He said: “This is the human world, this one is Adam, and this one is his desire upon the earth, Eve. 17 But he who is between them represents ungodliness and their beginnings on the way to perdition, Azazel.”
18 And I said: “0 ETERNAL Mighty One! Why have you given such as him the power to destroy the generations of men in their works upon the earth?”. 19 And He said to me: “Those who will to do evil over them I gave him power, even to be beloved of them.”
20 And I answered and said: “0 ETERNAL Mighty One! Why is it Your will that evil should be desired in the hearts of men? 21 If You are angry about what You see, 21 which is Thy will, why are You angry with those who do what is not profitable in Your judgment?”

Chapters 24

1 And He said to me: “I am angered by mankind on your account, 2 and on account of those who shall be of your family hereafter, for as you can see in the picture, 3 the burden of destiny is placed upon them3, and I shall tell you what shall be, 4 and how much shall be in the last days. Look now at everything in the picture.”
5 And I looked and saw what was before me in creation; 6 I saw Adam and Eve with him, and I saw the cunning adversary, and Cain 7 who acted lawlessly through the promptings of the adversary, 8 and I saw the slaughtered Abel, and the destruction brought about and caused upon him through the lawless one.
9 And I saw Impurity and those who lust after it, and its pollution and their jealousies, 10 and the fire of their corruption in the lowest parts of the earth.
11 And I saw Theft, and those who hasten after it, and the arrangement of their retribution, 12 at the judgment of the Great Assize.
13 And I saw there naked men with their foreheads against each other, and their disgrace, 14 and the passions which they had for each other, and their retribution.
15 And I saw Desire, and in her hand the head of every kind of lawlessness, 16 and her scorn and contempt and waste, assigned to perdition.

1 Adam’s great stature is often referred to in Rabbinical literature: “it reached” (when he was first created) “from one end of the world to the other,” but when he sinned it was diminished (T. B. Hag. 12a)
2 Gen. rabba 20, 8: “Upon thy belly shalt thou go: At the moment when the Holy One said to the serpent “upon thy belly shalt thou go” the ministering angels descended and cut off its hands and its feet, and its cry went from one end of the world to the other.” This legend was well known in antiquity. According to Syncellus (1, 14) the serpent had originally four feet; cf. also Josephus I 1, 4, who declares that the serpent was deprived of both language and feet. For the punishment of the serpent see Pirke de R. Eliezer 14
3
This apparently is the answer to the question given at the end of the previous chapter. GOD allows men to desire evil (with its inevitable punishment later) because of the treatment meted out by the nations to the chosen seed (Abraham and his descendants)

Chapters 25

1 And I saw there the likeness of the idol of jealousy1, carved in woodwork such as my father was wont to make, 2 and its body was of glittering bronze which covered the wood.
3 And before it I saw a man who was worshipping the idol, and in front of him there was an altar, 4 and upon the altar a boy slain in the presence of the idol.
5 And I said to Him: “What is this idol and this altar, and who is he who is sacrificed? 6 And what is this great building which I see, beautiful in art and design, 7 [that seems] of a glory such as that which lies beneath Your Throne?”
8 And He said: “Hear Abraham, for that which you see is the Temple, 9 a copy of that which is in the heavens, glorious in its aspect and beauty, even as I shall give it to the sons of men to ordain a priesthood for my glorious name, 10 and in which the prayers of man shall be uttered, and sacrifices offered as I ordain to your people, 11 even those who shall arise out of your generation.
12 But the idol which you saw is the image of jealousy, set up by some of those who shall come forth from your own loins in later days.
13 And the man who sacrifices in murder2 is he who pollutes my Temple 14 and such are witnesses to the final judgment, and their lot has been set from the beginning of creation.”

Chapters 26

Why Sin is permitted

1 And I said: 0 ETERNAL Mighty One! Why have you established that it should be so, 2 and then proclaimed the knowledge thereof?”.
3 And He said to me: “Hear Abraham, and understand what I say to you, answer my question.
4 Why did your father Terah not listen to your voice, 5 and why did he not cease from his idolatrous practices, together with his whole house?”
6 And I said: “0 ETERNAL One! It was entirely because he did not choose to listen to my voice, 7 and likewise I did not choose to listen to his counsel.”
8 And He said to me: “The will of your father is within him, 9 and your own will is within you, and so also the counsel of my own will is within you, 10 and is ready for the coming days, even before you have any knowledge of them3 or can see with your eyes what is the future of them.
11 Now look again into the picture, and see how it will be with your seed.”

1 Same as the vision reported in Ezekiel 8, 3-5
2 Ancient sacrifices involving the slaughter of human beings, such as the offering through the fire of children to the idol Moloch
3 The free will of man can be seen in the very story of Abraham, the two opposite cases of Terah and Abraham, choose themselves which path to follow, but their arrival has already been written in the Book of GOD

Chapters 27

A Vision of Judgement and Salvation

1 And I looked and saw, and behold the picture swayed and from it emerged, on the left side an ungodly people1 2 and they pillaged those who were on the right side, men, women, and children, 3 while some they murdered and others they kept as slaves.
4 And I saw them run towards them through four “entrances”2, they burned the Temple with fire 5 and the holy things that were therein were all plundered3.
6 And I said: “0 ETERNAL One! Behold, the people who shall spring from me, 7 and whom you have accepted, are plundered by these ungodly men, some are killed, 8 whilst others they hold captives as slaves, and the Temple they have burned with fire 9 and the beautiful things therein they have robbed and destroyed. 10 If so it will happen, why do you torn my heart?”
11 And He said to me: “What you have seen shall happen on account of your seed, 12 even those who anger me by reason of the idol statue which you saw, 13 and on account of the human sacrifice in the picture, through their evil zeal in the Temple. As you saw it, so shall it be.”4
14 And I said: “0h ETERNAL, Mighty One! May they now pass these works of evil carried out of impiety, 15 and rather [You may] show me those who have fulfilled the commandments, and the works of justice. For truly You can do this.
16 And He said to me: “The days of the righteous shall be seen by the same righteous who shall reign [over the people] that shall arise 17 and whom I have begotten to rule at the appointed time. 18 But know this, [also] from them will arise some who will be concerned only by their own interests, 19 like the kind of people I have shown you before.

Chapters 28

1 And I answered and said: “0 Mighty One! hallowed be your power. 2 Be favourable to my request and show me, because for this reason you have brought me up here, 33 [allow me to see if] what I saw will happen for a long time.”
4 And He showed me a multitude of His people and said to me: 5 “Because of them [who enter] through the four “entrances” as you have seen, 6 I will be provoked by them and My punishment will be inflicted upon them, because of their actions.
7 But in the fourth generation of one hundred years, corresponding to one hour of the age, 8 the same value as one hundred years5, there will be misfortune among the nations, 9 but equally for one hour there will be mercy and honor among those nations.

1 The use of “right” and “left” throughout these chapters is notable. The conception of the right side being the source of light and purity, while the left is the source of darkness and impurity, this comes from the Bible (Psalm 110, 1 ; Ecclesiastes 10, 2 ; Isaiah 48, 13 and many more) and taken by Gnostics and Kabbalistic teachings
2 The four “entrances” or “descents” by which the heathen make inroads upon the chosen people apparently correspond to the four hundred years of slavery for Israel predicted by GOD to Abrah am in the vision of Gen. 15 (cf. vs. 13). This was interpreted also to refer to Israel’s captivity and subjection by the four oppressive world-powers of the Book of Daniel, understood to be Babylon, Media, Greece, and Rome (cf. chap. 9): thus the Palestinian Targum to Gen. 15 13 states: “And behold, Abram saw four kingdoms which should arise to bring his sons into subjection.” But the number 4 (along with other numbers like 40, 7, 70, 77) is also metaphorically everywhere in the Holy Scriptures. Four signifies a sense of totality, and it is associated with creation, occurring frequently in the Book of Revelation (“Around the throne are four living creatures, representing all of creation” Rev. 4, 6 ; “Humanity is divided into a fourfold division, representing the entire creation: every tribe and language and people and nation” Rev. 5, 9; cf. also 7:9 ; 10, 11 ; 11, 9 and more)
3 Referring to the siege of the Romans under Titus, which ended in the destruction of the Temple by the fire in A.D. 70. For the burning and pillaging of the Temple cf. Josephus, War, 6, 4-5 ; cf. also 4 Ezra 10, 21
4 Israel’s imprisonment and suffering are due to idolatry because they have worshiped other Gods. These other Gods in the present we can also identify as the power, gold, fame, etc.
5 In chap. 30 the heathen world is placed “at the passing over of the twelfth hour” follows (chap . 31) the Messianic salvation. Apparently the present age is reckoned as enduring for “twelve hours” (metaphorically each hour is 100 years), i. e. one day (cf. John 11, 9). The apocalyptic Text may possibly reckon this day as beginning with the founding of the Holy City by David (cf. 4 Ezra 10, 46) and culminating in the destruction of the last Temple by Titus, which calamity was to be followed by the period of woes described in chap. 30, these bringing the present age to a close. Like all the apocalyptists text, they are obviously supposes to be standing on the brink of the new age. In Pirke de R. Eliezer 28, a dictum ascribed to R. Elazar ben Azariah runs: (from Gen. 15) thou mayest learn that the rule of these four kingdoms will only last one day, according to the Day of the LORD (= 1000 years)

Chapters 29

1 And I said: “0 ETERNAL One! How long are the hours of the age?”.
2 And He said: “Twelve hours1 have I ordained for this present age of ungodliness to rule among the nations and within your seed, 3 and until the end of the times it shall be even as you saw.
4 And now reckon and understand and look again into the picture.
5 And I looked and saw a man2 going out from the left side of the nations and there went out men and women and children, 6 from the side of nations, many hosts, and worshipped Him.
7 And while I still looked, there came many from the right side, 8 and some of these insulted Him, and some of them even struck Him, but others however worshipped Him.
9 And as I watched, I saw Azazel approach Him, and he kissed Him on the face and then stood behind him.3
10 And I said: “0 ETERNAL One! Who is the man insulted and beaten, who is worshipped by the nations and kissed by Azazel?”.
11 And He answered and said: “Hear Abraham! The man you saw insulted and beaten and yet worshipped by many, 12 He is the “relief” granted by the nations, to the people who proceed from you, in the last days, in the twelfth hour of the age of ungodliness.
13 But in the twelfth hour of my final age will I set up this man from your generation, whom you saw issue from among my people 14 and all who follow will become like this man, and such as are called by me will join the others, even those who will to change within themselves.
15 And as for those who emerge from the left side of the picture, the meaning is this, 16 there shall be many from the nations who shall set their hopes upon him4, 17 but as for those whom you saw from your seed on the right of the picture who insulted him and struck him, 18 many shall be offended in him5, but some shall worship him.
19 And He shall test those of your seed who have worshipped him 20 in the twelfth hour at the end, with a view to shortening the age of ungodliness.6
21 Before the age of the righteous begins to grow, 22 my judgment shall come upon the lawless peoples through the people of your seed who have been separated unto me.
23 And in those days I will bring upon all creatures of the earth ten plagues, 24 through misfortune and disease and the sighing of their grief.
25 And this shall be brought upon the generations of men on account of the provocation 26 and the corruption of mankind7, whereby they provoke me.
27 And then shall righteous men of your seed survive in the number which is kept secret by me8, 28 and will hasten the coming of the glory of My Name to that place prepared beforehand for them, which you saw devastated in the picture.
29 And they shall live and be established by sacrifices of righteousness9 in the age of the righteous, 30 and they shall rejoice in me continually, and receive those who return to me in repentance, 31 for great shall be the inner torment of those who have despitefully used them in this world, 32 as they observe the honour placed upon my own in the day of glory. 33 See Abraham, what you have seen and hear what you have heard, and take knowledge of all that you have come to know. 34 Go to your heritage, and behold, I am with you unto the [appointed] age.”

Chapters 30

1 But while He was still speaking to me, I found myself once again upon the earth, and I said: 2 “0 ETERNAL One! I am no longer in the glory which is on high, and there is one [more] matter which my soul longed to know and understand which has not been revealed to me.”
3 And He said to me: “What your heart desired I will tell you, because you have sought to see the ten plagues which I have prepared for the godless nations, 4 and which have been pre-determined at the passing over of the twelfth hour of the age of the earth.
5 Hear therefore what I divulge, and so shall it come to pass.10 6 The first11 is the distressing pain of sickness; the second, conflagration of many cities; 7 the third, the destruction and pestilence of animals; the fourth, hunger of the whole world and its people; 8 the fifth, by destruction among its rulers, by earthquake and the sword; the sixth, the multiplication of hail and snow; 9 the seventh, wild bests will be their grave; the eighth, hunger and pestilence will alternate with destruction; 10 the ninth, punishment by the sword and flight in distress; 11 the tenth, the voice of thunder and destructive earthquake.

1 Similar to 4Ezra 14, 11 (“For the world-age is divided into twelve parts”) and the cloud and water vision in Ap. Bar. 53 f where a similar division appears. 
2 The man is identify in the Messuah emerging “from the left side of the heathen”, offspring of Abraham and GOD’s people.
3 The worship of Christ by the Devil (Azazel) is a central feature in this chapters. The Devil seems to recognize the Messiah but planning to betrade him (“kissed his face”; cf. the treacherous kiss of Judas ) while following. But his plan will be defeted, the kingdom of evil and the Satanic powers, have been vanquished by Christ (cf. Luke 10, 18 ; Phil. 2, 9 ; Col. 2, 15 ; Ephes. 1, 21). The homage of Azazel, the head of the unredeemed heathen world, marked the triumph of Christ. 
4 Like Is. 9, 10 (“unto him shall the nations seek”), Matt. 12, 21 ; Rom. 15, 12
5 Matt. 11, 6 ; John 6, 66 ; Rom. 11, 8 etc.
6 Matt. 24, 22, Ep. Barnabas 4, 3 ; Ap. Bar. 20, 2 (“Therefore have I now taken away Sion in order that I may the more speedily visit the world in its season”). In the latter passage the fall of Jerusalem is regarded as hastening the End. Impatient longing for the End is characteristic of the Apocalyptists; see e. g. 4Ezra 4, 33
7 On account of the sins of men GOD’s anger must be visited upon the earth in judgement; cf. Jubilees 23, 22, etc. The idea that a time of great calamity and suffering would immediately precede the Messianic Age is a standing feature in Apocalyptic; cf. e. g. Matt. 24, 8, Mark 8, 8
8 Like in Dan 12, 1-6 (“written in th Book”) the number of the righteouss is predetermined, has been fixed beforehand, and is a secret known only to the CREATOR. These living righteous shall enjoy the blessedness of the new Age upon the renovated earth (the New Jerusalem). Another application of the same idea is to the whole number of mankind who are to be born, which are predetermined; cf. Ap. Bar. 23, 4. For those who survive the period of calamity, and share in the bliss of the n ew Age, see 4 Ezra 6, 25 ; 7, 27 ; 9, 7 ; Ap. Bar. 29, 2 ; but in none of these passages is their number said to have been fixed beforehand.
9 The sacrificial cultus in a different and actualized form will be restored in the new Jerusalem ; 1Enoch 25, 6 (“the fragrance thereof”). Prayer for the restoration of the Temple and cultus is a central feature in the classic Liturgy
10 It is GOD’s property to announce beforehand what is to occur and then to bring it to pass. In this passage the work of GOD is to declare a thing shall come to be long before espected.
11 The ten “plagues” here enumerated mark the distressful period which precedes the advent of the new Age; they correspond to the “signs” which are a common feature in the traditional eschatology (like in Dan. 12). It depicts a time of commotions, and the general break-up of moral and religious forces; the heathen world-power will be destroyed, there will be portents in nature, general chaos in society. In the first plague there will be rain on one city and no rain on another (cf. Amos 4, 7); in the second arrows of famine; in the third a great famine in which men , women , and children and pious will perish, and the Torah will be forgotten; in the fourth abundance and dearth; in the fifth great abundance, the people will eat and drink, and the Torah will return; in the sixth voices announcing the coming of the Messiah; in the seventh war, and at its end Messiah ben David will come. In the New Testament, besides the Apocalyptic passage in Matt. 24, 8-31 and parallels, there is a marked parallelism with the Apocalypse of the seven trumpets (Rev. 8, 6 ; 9, 21 ; 10, 7 ; 11, 14-19)

Chapters 31

1 And then I will sound the trumpet out of the air, and will send my Elect One, 2 having in Him all my power in one measure, and He shall summon my despised people from all nations, 3 and I will send fire upon those who have insulted them and who have ruled over them in this age.
4 And I will give those who have covered Me with mockery and scorn the coming Age1, 5 I have prepared them to be food for the fires of Hades, 6 and perpetual flight through the air in the underworld2, for they shall see the righteousness of the CREATOR, 7 and those whom He now honours, and they shall he ashamed, for I had hoped that they would come to me in repentance, 8 rather than loving foreigners Gods, but they forsook the Mighty Lord, and went the way that they willed to go.

Chapters 32

1 Hear therefore Abraham, and see, for behold, in the seventh generation from you shall they leave the land of their slavery, 2 after they have been ill-treated as it were for an hour of the age of ungodliness, 3 and the nation whom they shall serve I will judge.”

1 Those who have scorned shall be scorned; cf. Wisdom 9, 18 ; Dan.12, 2 ; Ps. Sol. 2, 32 (“the
coming Age” is the Age of the righteous).
2
The “fire of Hades” (or Hell) located beneath the earth (Ps. Sol. 15, 11) consumes sinners bodies and their souls wandering (flying) restlessly about (properly in the air or outer darkness); cf. 4 Ezra 7, 80. In T. B. Shabb. 152b the souls of the wicked are said to be given no place of rest till the final judgement.

Translation of Abrahamic Study Hall (November 2020)


 

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