Adam, Book of: By: Louis GinzbergThe Talmud says nothing about the existence of a Book of Adam, and Zunz’s widely accepted assertion to the contrary (“G. V.” 2d ed., p. 136) is erroneous, as appears upon an inspection of the passage in ‘Ab. Zarah, 5a, and Gen. R. xxiv. 2. There can be no doubt, however, that there existed at an early date, perhaps even before the destruction of the Second Temple, a collection of legends of Adam and Eve which have been partially preserved, not in their original language, but somewhat changed. It is possible to prove that the apocryphas, Apocalypsis Mosis— as Tischendorf, following a copyist’s erroneous inscription, called the book—and Vita Adæ et Evæ, and to a certain degree even their Slavonic, Syriac, Ethiopic, and Arabic offshoots, are of identical Jewish origin. According to these apocryphal works and to the Eastern and Western forms of the Apocalypsis, the Jewish portion of the Book of Adam must have read somewhat as follows (the parallels in apocryphal and rabbinical literature are placed in parentheses):
Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Adam, the handiwork of the Lord (Ab. R. N. i., end), lived with Eve in the Garden of Eden, which was situated in the East (Book of Enoch, xxxii.; B. B. 84a). Their food, which they also distributed to the lower animals (Gen. R. xix. 5), consisted of the fruit of the trees in the garden, the only nourishment then allowed to living beings (Sanh. 59b).
For their protection two angels were set apart (Ḥag. 16a), known (Ber. 60b) as or the partakers of the majesty () (kabod), called in Latin virtutes, from virtus, corresponding to kabod. But one day when the guarding angels had ascended to heaven to sing their hymn () to the Lord (Ḥul. 91b), Satan thought the time opportune to carry out his evil designs against Adam.
Satan hated Adam, for he regarded him as the cause of his fall. After God had created man, He ordered all the angels to prostrate themselves before Adam, but Satan rebelled against God’s command, despite the direct bidding of Michael “to worship the image of YHW” (), and answered proudly: “If God be angry against me, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (compare Isa. xiv. 13).
Whereupon God “cast him out from heaven with all his host of rebellious angels” (Slavonic Book of Enoch, xxxi. 18, and Mek., Shirah, § 2). And Satan the Adversary (Suk. 52a) selected the serpent for his tool, as it was not only the most subtle of all animals, but also very similar to man, for it had been endowed with hands and legs like him (Gen. R. xix. 1). And Satan spoke to the serpent: “Be my instrument, and through thy mouth will I utter a word which shall enable thee to seduce man” (Pirḳe R. El. xiii.). After some pleading the serpent succeeded in persuading Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge—a fig-tree (Gen. R. xv. 7)—which the serpent had shaken for her (Ab. R. N. i. 4, ed. Schechter).
But the serpent had infused lust into the fruit, and when Eve had eaten of it the sexual desire awoke in her (Slavonic Book of Baruch, xcvii.; Apoc. Abraham, xxiii., and Pirḳe R. El. xxi.), and at the same moment she became aware that she had been undone and “had lost the garment of righteousness in which she had been clothed” (Gen. R. xix. 6, Pirḳe R. El. xiv.). Adam, too, after he had eaten of the forbidden fruit, experienced a sense of loss and cried out: “What hast thou done? Thou hast removed me from the glory of the Lord” (Ab. R. N. i. 6, ed. Schechter).
The Divine Verdict.
Soon after they had sinned they heard the trumpet-blast (shofar) of Michael (“B. H.” ed. Jellinek, ii. 61) calling the angels: “Thus saith the Lord, ‘Come with me into the Garden of Eden and hear the sentence which I will pass on Adam'” (Gen. R. xix. 8). And the Lord then spoke to Adam, saying: “Where art thou hidden? Dost thou think I can not find thee? Can a house hide itself from its builder? [Targ. Yer. to Gen. iii. 9]. Because thou hast broken my commandment I will inflict seventy-two ailments upon thy body” (Mishnah Neg. i. 4). And to the woman He said: “Because thou didst not hearken to my commandment I shall multiply thy labor-pains, and vainly [ἐν ματαιοīς of the Greek, by a mistake in reading (habalim) for (ḥabalim) in the Hebrew] thou wilt then confess and cry: ‘Lord, save me, and I will not turn any more to carnal sin.’ But thy desire shall be again to thy husband” (a midrashic explanation of Gen. iii. 16, based on the hermeneutic rule of semikot—explanation by context—and to be found word for word in Gen. R. xx. 7). Nor did the serpent escape punishment, for it lost its hands and legs (Gen. R. xx. 5), and a spirit of enmity was established between it and man unto the day of judgment; according to Targ. Yer. Gen. iii. 15, “until the time of Messiah” (see Soṭah, 49b).
Adam Exiled from the Garden of Eden.
However, the heaviest punishment for Adam was his expulsion from the Garden of Eden. All his supplications, as well as those of the angels, to mitigate the sentence only induced God to promise him, saying: “If after having left the Garden of Eden thou wilt guard against evil until thou diest” [“be prepared to die” is not correct, being based on the confusion of the Hebrew (wilt die) with the Aramaic (prepared)], “I will raise thee at the time of resurrection” (an old haggadic Targum to Gen. iii. 17, 22, which is also found in Targ. Yer. i. and Gen. R. xx. 10; compare the benediction meḥayye ha-metim (He raises the dead), in Apost. Const. vii. chap. xxxiv). In the future world God will be among men (Tan., Num. 145, ed. Buber), and the Evil Spirit will be no more (Gen. R. xlviii. 11).
The sentence of God was carried into effect. Banished from the garden, which was henceforward surrounded by a sea of ice (Book of Enoch, Hebrew version; “B. H.” iv. 132), Adam and Eve settled in the neighborhood of Eden in the East (Gen. R. xxi. 9). They were no sooner out of their blissful abode than a paralyzing terror befell them. Unaccustomed to the earthly life and unfamiliar with the changes of the day and of the weather—in paradise an eternal light had surrounded them (Gen. R. xi. 2)—they were terrified when the darkness of night began to fall upon the earth (‘Ab. Zarah, 8a), and the intercession of God’s word () was necessary to explainto them the new order of things. From this moment the sufferings of life began; for Adam and Eve were afraid to partake of earthly food, and fasted for the first seven days after their expulsion from paradise, as is prescribed in Talmudic law before an imminent famine (Mishnah Ta’anit, i. 6).
Repentance of Adam.
Humiliated and weakened by hunger and suffering, Adam became conscious of the gravity of his sin, for which he was now prepared to atone (‘Er. 18b, Gen. R. xxii. 13). He, therefore, like Moses, Elijah, and Abraham (Apoc. Abraham, 12), fasted for forty days, during which he stood up to his neck in the waters of the river Gihon (), the name of which is etymologically connected by the writer with the roots “to stoop” and “to pray aloud” (Pirḳe R. El. xx.). According to the Vita Adæ et Evæ, Adam stood in the Jordan—a version which may be ascribed to the Christian copyists, who, for obvious reasons, wished to represent Adam as having had his baptism in the Jordan, forgetting that since Eve, as they themselves stated, bathed in the Tigris, Adam would have selected another of the rivers of paradise for that purpose.
The days of repentance having passed, the twins Cain and Abel were born to Adam and Eve (Gen. R. xxii. 2). And soon Cain rose, ran away, and brought a reed to his mother (; compare Gen. R. xxii. 8): “Cain killed his brother with a reed ()”; for, according to the unanimous opinion of the Haggadah, the children of Adam and Eve were born fully developed (Gen. R. xxii. 2). Eve saw in a dream that Cain had assassinated his brother, and Abel was found slain with a stone (Gen. R. xxii. 8; Book of Jubilees, iv. 31); but the earth refused to receive his blood (Giṭ. 57b). As a compensation for the murdered Abel, God promised Adam a son who should “make known everything that thou doest.”
Illness and Death of Adam.
Adam, at the age of nine hundred and thirty years, became very ill; for God had cursed him with seventy-two ailments. He sent his son Seth, with Eve, to the Garden of Eden for the oil of healing, to restore him to health (Pirḳe R. El. xxxv). On his way to paradise Seth was attacked by a wild animal. Upon Eve’s demanding how an animal could dare to attack an image of God, the animal replied that she herself, through her sin, had forfeited the right to rule over the animal kingdom (Pesiḳ. v. 44b, ed. Buber, and Sanh. 106b). Not until Seth exclaimed: “Wait until the day of judgment !” or, “Stop! If not, thou wilt be brought to judgment before God” (both readings based on ) did the animal let him go. However, the mission of Seth was in vain, for the angel Michael, to whom God had given the control over the human body—for he it was who had gathered the dust for Adam’s creation (Midr. Konen, in “B. H.” ii. 27), told him that his father’s life was at an end, and his soul would depart from him within the course of a week.
Funeral of Adam.
Three days after the death of Adam (Gen. R. vii), which took place, as in the case of Moses and Aaron, in the presence of many angels and even in the presence of the Lord, his soul was handed over by God to Michael, who assigned it an abode in the third heaven (Ḥag. 12b) until the day of resurrection. The body was interred with exceptional honors; the four archangels, Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael (in the exact order of enumeration given by the Haggadah; see Kohut, “Angelologie,” p. 25), buried it in the neighborhood of paradise, the precise spot being (Pirḳe R. El. xii. and xx.) Hebron near Jerusalem; for the site of the altar in the Temple, whence the dust of Adam was taken, is the gate to paradise.
A few days after the interment of Adam by the virtutes, Eve felt that her end was approaching. She called her children together and ordered them to write down the names of the first two human beings on two slabs of clay and stone, for she had learned from Michael that God had decided to bring a flood and a destructive fire over the earth and that only these slabs would escape destruction (Josephus, “Ant.” i. 2, § 3). Eve passed away after a lapse of six days—that is, after the mourning week of Adam—as the (shib’ah) may consist, according to Talmudic law, of six days only and a few moments of the seventh day (M. Ḳ. 19b). Eve was buried by the angels at the side of Adam, and the angels instructed Seth not to mourn more than six days, and to rest and rejoice on the seventh day, for on that same day God and the angels would receive in gladness the soul which is lifted above all earthly matter (Sanh. 65b), and, moreover, rest upon the seventh day was to be the symbol of the resurrection in future ages (Sanh. 97a).
The reconstruction of the Jewish Book of Adam here attempted may be hypothetical in some points, for neither the Apoc. Mosis nor the Vita can be considered to represent a true copy of the original. But it makes clear that these two apocryphas are based on the Hebrew or Aramaic Book of Adam and that the latter belongs to the midrashic literature, as many of its allusions can only be explained by the Midrash. The legends of Adam with which rabbinical literature abounds seem to point to the same source. Thus the statement in Abot de-Rabbi Nathan (i. 6, ed. Shechter) that Eve always addressed Adam as “lord” is apparently not intelligible, until compared with the Vita and the Slavonic Book of Adam, both of which contain similar statements, which, therefore, must have existed in the original, from which they both drew independently of each other. With regard to the alleged Christian elements and reminiscences of the New Testament in the Apoc. Mosis and Vita they will be sufficiently characterized by the following examples: Apoc. Mosis, iii., “Child of Wrath,” is based on a haggadic etymology of the name Cain, and has nothing to do with Eph. ii. 3; and Apoc. Mosis, xix., “Lust is the beginning of all sin,” is thoroughly Jewish (see above), and need not therefore have been taken from such a source as James, i. 15. This, moreover, is the case with all the other alleged Christian passages in the Apoc. Mosis, which would prove nothing, even if they were of Christian origin; for it can not be surprising to find Christian allusions in the language of a book so widely read among Christians as the Apocrypha. Even passages where one would expect that a Christian editor or compiler would interject Christological notions are quite free from them; all of which tends to show that neither the Apoc. Mosis nor the Vita was in any way tampered with by Christian writers.
- Schürer, Gesch. 3d ed., iii., 288 et seq.;
- Fuchs, in Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des Alten Testaments (trans. and ed. by E. Kautzsch), ii. 506-529;
- Ginzberg, Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvätern, in Monatsschrift, 1899, pp. 63 et seq. The most important editions of the Books of Adam are: Apoc. Mosis, in Apocalypses Apocryphœ, ed. Tischendorf, 1866;
- Vita Adœ et Evœ, ed. H. Meyer, in Abhandlungen der Bayrischen Akademie der Wissenschaften;
- Philosophisch-Philologische Klasse, xiv. (1878);
- the Old Slavonic Book of Adam;
- Jagic, in Denkschriften der Wiener Akademie der Wissenschaften, Philosophisch-Historische Klasse (1893), i. et seq., xlii.;
- Malan, Book of Adam and Eve, translated from the Ethiopic, London, 1882.
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