The Nut Garden

לקוטים מזוהר (Gleanings of Zohar)

Tag: סַמָּאֵל

The Adversary Dances Among Them: He Descends and Leads Astray, Ascends and Arouses Wrath

And one day, the sons of God came to stand in attendance before YHWH, and the Adversary, too, came among them to stand in attendance before YHWH. And YHWH said to the Adversary, “From whence do you come?” And the Adversary answered YHWH and said, “From roaming the earth and walking about in it.” And YHWH said to the Adversary, “Have you paid heed to My servant Job, for there is none like him on earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and shuns evil and still clings to his innocence, and you incited Me against him to destroy him for nothing.” And the Adversary answered YHWH and said, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. Yet, reach out, pray, Your hand and strike his bone and his flesh. Will he not curse You to your face?” And YHWH said to the Adversary, “Here he is in your hands. Only preserve his life.” And the Adversary went out from before YHWH’s presence. And he struck Job with a grievous burning rash from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head (Job 2:1–7).

“Rabbi Yoḥanan said: [And you incited Me against him to destroy him for nothing (Job 2:3)]—were it not written in the verse we would not dare say it: Like a man whom others incite, and is incited [against his better judgment, cf. Deuteronomy 13:6]. A Tanna taught: [The Adversary] he descends and leads astray, ascends and arouses wrath, obtains authorization and seizes the soul. And the Adversary answered YHWH and said, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. Yet, reach out, pray, Your hand and strike his bone and his flesh. Will he not curse You to your face?” And YHWH said to the Adversary, “Here he is in your hands. Only preserve his life.” And the Adversary went out from before YHWH’s presence. And he struck Job (Job 2:4–7).

Rabbi Yitsḥaq said: The Adversary’s torment was worse than that of Job. A parable: Job was like a servant who is told by his master, ‘Break the cask but do not let any of the wine spill.’ Resh Laqish said: The Adversary, the evil impulse, and the Angel of Death are all one. He is called הַשָּׂטָן (ha-satan), the Adversary, as is written, And the Adversary went out from before YHWH’s presence (Job 2:7). He is called the evil impulse: [we know this because] it is written in another place, [“And YHWH saw that the evil of the human creature was great on the earth and that every scheme of his heart’s devising] was only perpetually evil. [And YHWH regretted having made the human on earth and was grieved to the heart] (Genesis 6:5), and it is written here Only against him do not reach out your hand (Job 1:12). He is also the Angel of Death, since it says, [“Here he is in your hands.] Only preserve his life” (ibid. 2:6), consequently his very existence is in his hands.

Rabbi Levi said: [In acting as adversaries] both the Adversary’s and Peninah’s intentions were for the sake of Heaven. The Adversary, when he saw the blessed Holy One inclined to [favor] Job said, ‘Perish the thought that He should forget the passion of Abraham!’ Of Peninah it is written, And her rival would torment her sorely so as to provoke her [(to prayer) because YHWH had closed her womb] (1 Samuel 1:6). When Rav Aḥa son of Ya’aqov expounded [this teaching] in Papunia, the Adversary came and kissed his feet.

With all this, Job did not offend with his lips (Job 2:10)—Rava said: With his lips he did not offend, but he did offend within his heart. What did he say? The earth is given in the wicked man’s hand, the face of its judges He veils. If not He—then who else? (ibid. 9:24). Rava said: Job sought to turn the dish [i.e., the world] upside down. Abayye said: Job was referring only to the Adversary” (BT Bava Batra 16a).

“[Bewildering and beguiling,] the Adversary dances among them” (BT Megilah 11b, cf. BT Berakhot 33a; Pesaḥim 112b).

“What is And they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they encamped there by the water (Exodus 15:27)? What is so great about seventy date palms? In one of the smallest spots there are a thousand! But they were worthy of being their example, and there they were likened to date palms, as is written, And they came to Marah and could not drink water from מָרָה (marah), Marah, for they were מָרִים (marim), bitter (ibid., 23). Teaching that a מַעֲרָבִית (ma’aravit), western, wind was preventing [them], as is written, And he cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree, and he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet (ibid., 25)—immediately the blessed Holy One laid His hand upon the Adversary, diminishing him a bit, as is written, There did He set him a statute and law, and there did he test Him (ibid.). Teaching that at this time, the Adversary clung to them in order to blot them out from the world [cf. JT Shabbat 5:2, 7b: ‘The Adversary accuses only in a time of danger’], as is written, And the people murmured against Moses, saying ‘What shall we drink?’ (ibid., 24), continuing to accuse Moses until he cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree. YHWH showed him a tree—why? To teach that the Tree of Life was around the water. The Adversary came and removed it from there in order to accuse Israel and cause them to offend their Father in Heaven. He said to them: Now you assemble in the wilderness? Yet these [bitter] waters you take up are good, for you will be content with them, but in the wilderness you will not find [enough] even to wash your hands and faces. Then, naked, you will die of hunger and thirst, entirely in want! 

They came to Moses and told him such and such, but he dismissed them. [The Adversary] saw that he was unable to overpower Israel and Moses, and so the people came to Moses and the people murmured against Moses: Here we are without water, what is there to drink in the wilderness?—the Adversary came and feigned their words to Moses in order to cause them to offend. As soon as Moses saw the Adversary, He cried out to YHWH, and YHWH showed him a tree—the very Tree of Life the Adversary had removed. And he flung it into the water, and the water turned sweet. And the blessed Holy One came to the Adversary [with] a statute and law; and there did he test Him—Israel. And the blessed Holy One warned Israel, saying: If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God (ibid., 26) and so forth.

A parable: A king had a lovely daughter and others were lusting for her. The king knew of it but could not fight with those who exposed his daughter to bad ways. He came to his house and warned her, saying, “My daughter, give no regard to the words of these enemies and they will not be able to overcome you. Do not leave the house, but do all your work at home. Do not sit idle, even for a single moment. Then they will not be able to see you and harm you. There is a certain quality in them which departs from a good way and chooses every bad way. When they see man directing himself along a good way, they hate him.” 

And what is it? The Adversary. Teaching that the blessed Holy One has a quality whose name is רָעָה (ra’ah), Evil; and it is to the north of the blessed Holy One, as is written, From the north הָרָעָה (ha-ra’ah), evil, will be let loose on all the inhabitants of the land (Jeremiah 1:14). That is to say, any evil that comes to all the inhabitants of the land (ibid.), comes from the north.

What is this ‘certain quality’? She is the shape of a hand. She has many messengers, and the name of them all is רַע רַע (ra ra), evil! evil! Some are big and some are small, but they all bring guilt upon the world since תֹּהוּ (tohu) is on the north side. Tohu—none other than Evil, מְתָהֵה (metaheh), bewildering, inhabitants of the world until they sin. Every יֵצֶר הָרָע (yetser ha-ra), evil impulse, in man is from there. And why was he given to the left? Because he has no authority, nor any place in the world, except in the north; he is not accustomed to being anywhere except the north, he does not want to be anywhere except the north. If he remained in the south until he learned from the way of the south, how could he lead astray? He would be detained those days unable to make them miss the mark (Judges 20:16). Therefore, he is forever in the north, to the left. And this is For the יֵצֶר (yetser), devisings, of the human heart are evil from youth (Genesis 8:21)—he is evil from his youth and he does not incline other than to the left, for he is already accustomed to her. Of this the blessed Holy One said to Israel: If you really heed the voice of YHWH your God, and do what is right in His eyes, and hearken to His commands (Exodus 15:26)—not to the commands of the evil impulse; And keep all His statutes (ibid.)—not the statutes of the evil impulse [all the sickness that I put upon Egypt I will not put upon you,] for I am YHWH your healer (ibid.).

Why is the evil impulse enriched? A parable: To what can the matter be compared? A king appointed officials (Esther 2:3) over his kingdom and his trade—each one had a surplus. [There was an official appointed] over the storehouses of foodstuff and goods, and one appointed over a storehouse of stones. All the world came to buy from the storehouses of goods. This one appointed over the storehouse of stones came. He saw that they were not buying from him, [and] he envied [this]. What did he do? He commanded all of his brothers to destroy the weak houses—for they were unable [to destroy] the strong ones. He said, ‘In any case, [when] you strive to destroy [one] house from among the strong ones, twenty of the weak ones will be destroyed, and they will all come and buy [stones] from me. And I will not be less than my competitor!’ Thus it is written: From the north evil will be let loose on all the inhabitants of the land (Jeremiah 1:14). It then continues, ‘For I am about to call forth all the clans of the kingdoms of the north,’ says YHWH,’ and they shall come and each set his throne at the entrance of the gates of Jerusalem [and against its walls all round and against all the towns of Judah] (ibid., 15). Evil will be a trade to her, also the evil impulse strives perpetually [cf. Genesis 6:5]. And what is the import of שָׂטָן (satan), ‘adversary’? Satan, adversary—in other words מֻטֶּה (mutteh), skewed justice (Ezekiel 9:9); that מַטֶּה (matteh), he tips, the world toward the scale of guilt. And it is written, וַיֵּט (Va-yet), And he turned aside, to her by the road, [and said, ‘Here, pray, let me come to bed with you…’](Genesis 38:16), and it is translated, וּסְטָא (u-seta), and he turned aside, to her. And it is written, שְׂטֵה (Seteh), turn away, from him and pass on (Proverbs 4:15)” (Bahir §§107–110).

תולדות ישו (Toledot Yeshu), The Genealogy of Jesus

Salvator Mundi attributed to Leonardo da Vinci

“Rav Naḥman said: All mockery is forbidden except for mockery of idolatry, which is permitted, as is written, Bel has knelt, Nebo has cowered. [Their images you bore aloft become burdens for beasts and animals loaded to exhaustion] (Isaiah 46:1) and it says, They cowered, they knelt together, could not free the burden, [and they themselves went into captivity] (ibid., 2). Rabbi Yannai said so from here: The calf of Beth-Aven they fear, the dwellers of Samaria. For his people mourns for it, and his priests for it. They wail over their glory, for it has departed from them (Hosea 10:5). Do not read כְּבוֹדוֹ (kevodo), their glory, but כְּבֵידוֹ (keveido), its burden [meaning that the calf of Beth-Aven is unable to restrain itself from defecating].

Rav Huna son of Manoaḥ said in the name of Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Iqa: It is permitted for an Israelite to say to a gentile, ‘Take your idol and shove it up your שִׁין תָּיו (shin tav)! [i.e., שֵׁת (shet), ass (Isaiah 20:4); cf. Genesis 31:34–35]’” (BT Megillah 25b).

“Whatever you find [written] about [the carpenter’s son], expound upon it [to his shame]” (BT Sanhedrin 106b).

“A certain apostate disputed, ‘Until יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ (yavo shilo ve-lo), he comes to Shiloh and to him…’ (Genesis 49:10)—look here, a hint to יֵשׁוּ (Yeshu), Jesus, in the initial letters [of the verset]!’ His answer is at its side, here is the hint: לֹא יֵשׁ מוּם רַע כִּיֵשׁוּ (lo yesh moom ra ki-yeshu), ‘there is no defect bad as Jesus’—לֹא יָסוּר שֵׁבֶט מִיהוּדָה וּמְחֹקֵק מִבֵּין רַגְלָיו עַד כִּי יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ (lo yasur shevet mi-yehudah u-meḥoqeq mi-bein raglaiv ad ki yavo shilo ve-lo), the scepter shall not pass from Judah, nor the mace from between his legs, until he comes to Shiloh and to him… (ibid.). 

Another hint to Jesus: יֵשׁוּ יַּתְעֵם (yeshu yatem), ‘Jesus will lead them astray’—יָבֹא שִׁילֹה וְלוֹ יִקְּהַת עַמִּים (yavo shilo ve-lo iqqhat ammim), until he comes to Shiloh and to him the submission of peoples (ibid.)” (Sefer Nitsaḥon Yashan, 28).

The Genealogy of Jesus

In the year 3671 in the days of King Jannaeus, a great misfortune befell Israel, when there arose a certain disreputable man of the tribe of יְהוּדָה (Yehudah), Judah, whose name was Yosef Pandera. He lived at Bethlehem, in Judah.

Near his house dwelt a widow and her lovely and chaste daughter named Miriam. Miriam was betrothed to Yoḥanan, of the royal house of David, a man learned in Torah and God-fearing.

Once at the close of Sabbath, Yosef Pandera, attractive and like a warrior in appearance, having gazed lustfully upon Miriam, knocked upon the door of her room and betrayed her by pretending that he was her betrothed husband, Yoḥanan. Even so, she was amazed at this improper conduct and submitted only against her will [the author may well be poking fun at the Christian genealogies when he (too) highlights the Davidic lineage of Yoḥanan, the man who did not impregnate Miriam].

Thereafter, when Yoḥanan came to her, Miriam expressed astonishment at behavior so foreign to his character. It was thus that they both came to know the crime of Yosef Pandera and the terrible mistake on the part of Miriam. Whereupon Yoḥanan went to Rabban Shim’on son of Shetah and related to him the tragic seduction. Lacking witnesses required for the punishment of Yosef Pandera, and Miriam being with child, Yoḥanan left for Babylonia [alt., Egypt].

Miriam gave birth to a son and named him יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua, after her brother. This name later deteriorated to יֵשׁוּ (Yeshu), Jesus [cf. BT Arakhin 32b: “Scripture reproved Joshua, for in all passages it is spelt: יְהוֹשֻׁעַ (Yehoshu’a), Joshua, but here, יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshu’a), Joshua (Nehemiah 8:17)”]. On the eighth day he was circumcised. When he was old enough the lad was taken by Miriam to the house of study to be instructed in the [Jewish] tradition.

One day Jesus walked in front of the Sages with his head uncovered, showing shameful disrespect. At this, the discussion arose as to whether this behavior did not truly indicate that Jesus was an illegitimate child and the son of a נִדָּה‬ (niddah), menstruate woman. Moreover, the story tells that while the Rabbis were discussing the tractate Neziqin, he gave his own impudent interpretation of the law and in an ensuing debate he held that Moses could not be the greatest of the prophets if he had to receive counsel from Jethro. This led to further inquiry as to the antecedents of Jesus, and it was discovered through Rabban Shim’on son of Shetah that he was the illegitimate son of Yosef Pandera. Miriam admitted it. After this became known, it was necessary for Jesus to flee to Upper Galilee.

After King Jannaeus and his wife Helene [Salome Alexandra] ruled over all Israel. In the Temple was to be found the Foundation Stone on which were engraved the letters of the Ineffable Name. Whoever learned the secret of the Name and its use would be able to do whatever he wished [cf. BT Sanhedrin 106a: “Rabbi Shim’on son of Laqish said: Woe for whoever מְחַיֶּה (meḥayyeh), invigorates [or: resurrects], himself with the name of אֵל (El), God”]. Therefore, the Sages took measures so that no one should gain this knowledge. Lions of brass were bound to two iron pillars at the gate of the place of burnt offerings. Should anyone enter and learn the Name, when he left the lions would roar at him and immediately the valuable secret would be forgotten.

Jesus came and learned the letters of the Name; he wrote them upon the parchment which he placed in an open cut on his thigh and then drew the flesh over the parchment. As he left, the lions roared and he forgot the secret. But when he came to his house he reopened the cut in his flesh with a knife an lifted out the writing. Then he remembered and obtained the use of the letters.

He gathered about himself three hundred and ten young men of Israel [cf. BT Sanhedrin 100a: “The blessed Holy One will give to every righteous man three hundred and ten worlds, as is written, So I may endow those who love Me with substance, and fill their treasuries (Proverbs 8:21)—now the numerical value ofׁ יש (yesh), substance, is 310”]. He accused those who spoke ill of his birth of being people who desired greatness and power for themselves. Jesus proclaimed, “I am the Messiah; and concerning me Isaiah prophesied and said, A young woman is about to conceive and bear a son, and she shall call his name Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14).” He quoted other texts, insisting, “David my ancestor prophesied concerning me: YHWH, He said to me: You are My son. I Myself today did beget you (Psalms 2:7).”

The insurgents with him replied that if Jesus was the Messiah he should give them a convincing sign. They therefore, brought to him a lame man, who had never walked. Jesus spoke over the man the letters of the Ineffable Name, and the one afflicted with skin blanch was healed. Thereupon, they worshipped him as the Messiah, Son of the Highest.

When word of these happenings came to Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin decided to bring about the capture of Jesus. They sent messengers, Annanui and Ahaziah, who, pretending to be his disciples, said that they brought him an invitation from the leaders of Jerusalem to visit them. Jesus consented on condition the members of the Sanhedrin receive him as a lord. He started out toward Jerusalem and, arriving at Knob, acquired a donkey on which he rode into Jerusalem, as a fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah [see Zechariah 9:9: Greatly exult, Zion’s Daughter, shout for joy, Jerusalem’s Daughter. Look, your king shall come to you, victor and triumphant is he, a lowly man riding on an ass, on a donkey, the foal of a she-ass].

The Sages bound him and led him before Queen Helene, with the accusation: “This man is a sorcerer and entices everyone.” Jesus replied, “The prophets long ago prophesied my coming: And a shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, [a branch shall bloom from his roots] (Isaiah 11:1), and I, I am He (Deuteronomy 32:39); but as for them, Scripture says Happy the man who has not walked in the wicked’s counsel (Psalms 1:1).”

Queen Helene asked the Sages: “What he says, is it in your teaching?” They replied: “It is in our teaching, but it is not applicable to him, for it is in Scripture: But the prophet who willfully speaks a word in My name, which I have not charged him to speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die (Deuteronomy 18:20). He has not fulfilled the signs and conditions of the Messiah.”

Jesus spoke up: “Madam, I am the Messiah and I revive the dead.” A dead body was brought in; he pronounced the letters of the Ineffable Name and the corpse came to life. The Queen was greatly moved and said: “This is a true sign.” She reprimanded the Sages and sent them humiliated from her presence. Jesus’ dissident followers increased and there was controversy in Israel.

Jesus went to Upper Galilee. The Sages came before the Queen, complaining that Jesus practiced sorcery and was leading everyone astray. Therefore she sent Annanui and Ahaziah to fetch him.

They found him in Upper Galilee, proclaiming himself the Son of God. When they tried to take him there was a struggle, but Jesus said to the men of Upper Galilee: “Wage no battle.” He would prove himself by the power which came to him from his Father in Heaven. He spoke the Ineffable Name over the birds of clay and they flew into the air. He spoke the same letters over a millstone that had been placed upon the waters. He sat in it and it floated like a boat. When they saw this the people marveled. At the behest of Jesus, the emissaries departed and reported these wonders to the Queen. She trembled with astonishment.

Then the Sages selected a man named Yehudah Isqarioto and brought him to the Sanctuary where he learned the letters of the Ineffable Name as Jesus had done.

When Jesus was summoned before the Queen, this time there were present also the Sages and Yehudah Isqarioto. Jesus said: “Of me is said, To the heavens will I ascend (Isaiah 14:13).” He lifted his arms like the wings of an eagle and he flew between the heavens and earth, to the amazement of everyone.

The elders asked Isqarioto to do likewise. He did, and flew toward the heavens. Isqarioto attempted to force Jesus down to earth but neither one of the two could prevail against the other for both had the use of the Ineffable Name. However, Isqarioto defiled Jesus, so that they both lost their power and fell down to the earth, and in their condition of defilement the letters of the Ineffable Name escaped from them [according to an Italian manuscript (Leipzig BH 17 1–18): … he performed anal sex on him. Once he soiled him, and his seed went out from him (Leviticus 15:32), both of them fell to the ground. And all of the sages of the nations knew this secret and hid it, and cursed and banned Yehudah Isqarioto. And when they have a quarrel with another person, they say to him, “May what Yehudah Isqarioto did to Jesus be done to you!”]. Because of this deed of Yehudah, Judah, they weep on the eve of the birth of Jesus [the Ninth of Tevet (December 24th C.E.)].

Jesus was seized. His head was covered with a garment and he was smitten with pomegranate twigs; but he could do nothing, for he no longer had the Ineffable Name.

Jesus was taken prisoner to the synagogue of Tiberias, and they bound him to a pillar. To allay his thirst they gave him vinegar to drink. On his head they set a crown of thorns. There was strife and wrangling between the elders and the unrestrained followers of Jesus, as a result of which the followers escaped with Jesus to the region of Antioch [alt., Egypt]; there Jesus remained until the eve of the Passover.

Jesus then resolved to go the Temple to acquire again the secret of the Name. That year the Passover came on a Sabbath day. On the eve of the Passover, Jesus, accompanied by his disciples, came to Jerusalem riding upon an donkey. Many bowed down before him. He entered the Temple with his three hundred and ten followers. One of them, Yehudah Isqarioto apprised the Sages that Jesus was to be found in the Temple, that the disciples had taken a vow by the Ten Commandments not to reveal his identity but that he would point him out by bowing to him. So it was done and Jesus was seized. Asked his name, he replied to the question by several times giving the names Mattai, Nakki, Buni, Netzer, each time with a verse quoted by him and a counter-verse by the Sages [see BT Sanhedrin 43a].

Jesus was put to death on the sixth hour on the eve of the Passover and of the Sabbath. When they tried to hang him on a tree it broke, for when he had possessed the power he had pronounced by the Ineffable Name that no tree should hold him. He had failed to pronounce the prohibition over the cabbage stalk [alt., carob stalk; cf. Teshuva le-Minim], for it was a plant more than a tree, and on it he was hanged until the hour for afternoon prayer, for it is written in Scripture, [And should there be against a man a death-sentence offense and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,you shall not let his corpse stay the night on the tree [but you shall surely bury it on that day, for a hanged man is God’s curse…] (Deuteronomy 21:23). They buried him outside the city.

On the first day of the week his bold followers came to Queen Helene with the report that he who was slain was truly the Messiah and that he was not in his grave; he had ascended to heaven as he prophesied. Diligent search was made and he was not found in the grave where he had been buried. A gardener had taken him from the grave and had brought him into his garden and buried him in the sand over which the waters flowed into the garden.

Queen Helene demanded, on threat of a severe penalty, that the body of Jesus be shown to her within a period of three days. There was a great distress. When the keeper of the garden saw Rabbi Tanḥuma walking in the field and lamenting over the ultimatum of the Queen, the gardener related what he had done, in order that Jesus’ followers should not steal the body and then claim that he had ascended into heaven. The Sages removed the body, tied it to the tail of a horse and transported it to the Queen, with the words, “This is Jesus who is said to have ascended to heaven.” Realizing that Jesus was a false prophet who enticed the people and led them astray, she mocked the followers but praised the Sages.

The disciples went out among the nations—three went to the mountains of Ararat, three to Armenia, three to Rome and three to the kingdoms by the sea, they deluded the people, but ultimately they were slain.

The erring followers amongst Israel said: “You have slain the Messiah of the Lord.” The Israelites answered: “You have believed in a false prophet.” There was endless strife and discord for thirty years.

The Sages desired to separate from Israel those who continued to claim Jesus as the Messiah, and they called upon a greatly learned man, Shim’on Kefa, for help. Shim’on went to Antioch, main city of the Nazarenes and proclaimed to them: “I am the disciple of Jesus. He has sent me to show you the way. I will give you a sign as Jesus has done.”

Shim’on, having gained the secret of the Ineffable Name, healed one afflicted with skin blanch and a lame man by means of it and thus found acceptance as a true disciple. He told them that Jesus was in heaven, at the right hand of his Father, in fulfillment of YHWH’s utterance to my master: “Sit at My right hand till I make your enemies a stool for your feet” (Psalms 110:1). He added that Jesus desired that they separate themselves from the Jews and no longer follow their practices, as Isaiah had said, Your new moons and your appointed times I utterly despise. [They have become a burden to Me, I cannot bear them] (Isaiah 1:14). They were now to observe the first day of the week instead of the seventh, the Resurrection instead of the Passover, the Ascension into Heaven instead of the Feast of Weeks, the finding of the Cross instead of Rosh Hashanah, the Feast of the Circumcision instead of the Yom Kippur, the New Year instead of Ḥanukkah; they were to be indifferent with regard to circumcision and the dietary laws. Also they were to follow the teaching of turning the right if struck on the left and the meek acceptance of suffering [cf. Lamentations 3:30]. All these new ordinances which Shim’on Kefa—or Paul, as he was known to the Nazarenes (cf. Acts 5:34, 22:3)—taught them were really meant to separate these Nazarenes from the people of Israel and to bring the internal strife to an end.

And She Took of Its Fruit: A Decree was Ordained Beforehand

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“‘[Rabbi El’azar son of ha-Qappar said:] Envy, lust, and seeking honor, drive a man out of the world’ (M Avot 4:21).

The ministering angels said before the blessed Holy One, ‘Master of all Worlds: What is a human creature that You should know him? (Psalms 144:3). The human is like unto breath (ibid., 4)—אֵין עַל עָפָר מָשְׁלוֹ (ein al afar mashlo), he has no match on earth [alt., his rule is not over dust] (Job 41:25).’ He said to them, ‘Just as you praise Me above, he shall proclaim My unity below. And moreover, are you able to stand up and give names to all the creatures?’ They stood up but could not. Immediately Adam stood up and gave names to all the creatures, as is said, And the human called names to all the cattle… (Genesis 2:20).

When the ministering angels saw, they said, ‘If we do not come upon Adam with counsel that he might offend before his Creator, we cannot overcome him.’ Now Samael was the great prince in Heaven—the living beings have four wings and the seraphs have six wings, while Samael has twelve wings. He took his band and descended and saw all the creatures which the blessed Holy One had created in His world, and he found among them none so skilled to do evil as the serpent, as is said, Now the serpent was most cunning of all the beasts of the field that YHWH God had made (Genesis 3:1). And his look was like that of a camel, and he mounted and rode upon him. The Torah cried out, saying, ‘Samael, just now the world was created, is it the time to rebel against the Omnipresent? Is it the time to lift yourself on high? The Master of Worlds scoffs at the horse and its rider (Job 39:18).’

A parable: to what can the matter be compared? A man who has an evil spirit within him. And all the deeds that he does, from his own mind does he do them? And all of the words that he speaks, from his own mind does he speak? Is it not that he only does [them] from the mind of the evil spirit which is upon him? So [was it with] the serpent: all the deeds that he performed and all the words that he spoke, he only spoke and only did them by the will of Samael. And of him it says, in his evil the wicked is driven off (Proverbs 14:32).

A parable. To what can the matter be compared? To a king who married a woman and made her supreme over all that he had—precious stones and pearls. He said to her: All that I have shall be in your hands, except this cask, which is full of scorpions. A certain old man visited her; he asks, for instance, for vinegar. He said to her: Will you argue that he deals kindly with you? ‘He deals with me (thus): over all that he possesses has he made me supreme. Thus he said to her: Behold, all that I have is given into your hands except this cask, which is full of scorpions. [The old man] said to her: Is not all the jewelry of the king indeed in this cask? But he wishes to marry another woman, and to give them to her—the king is the first man [Adam], the woman is Eve, and the one who asked for vinegar is the serpent; of them is said, There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:13).

The serpent argued with himself, saying: If I go and speak to Adam, I know that he will not listen to me, for a man is always hard, as is said, [the woman had a good mind and lovely looks,but the man was hard and evil in deeds (1 Samuel 25:3) [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 17:8]; and, look, I will speak to Eve, for I know that she will listen to me; for women listen to all creatures, as is said, [The foolish woman bustles about.Gullibility!—and she knows nothing of it (Proverbs 9:13). The serpent went and spoke to the woman: Is it [true that] you also have been commanded concerning the fruit of the tree? She said: Yes, as is said, [“From the fruit of the garden’s trees we may eat,but from the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden [Elohim has said, ‘You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it, lest you die’”] (Genesis 3:3). And when the serpent heard the words of Eve, he found an opening through which he could enter, so he said to her: This command is nothing else except the evil eye, for in the hour when you eat, you will be like אֱלֹהִים (Elohim), gods—a Creator. Just as He creates worlds and destroys worlds, so will you be able to create worlds and to destroy worlds. Just as He kills and brings to life, so also will you be able to kill and to bring to life, as is said, For God knows that on the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened [and you will become as gods knowing good and evil] (ibid., 5).

The serpent went and touched the tree, which commenced to cry out, saying: Wicked One! do not touch me! as it is said, Let no haughty foot overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked repel me. There did the doers of mischief fall. [They were toppled and could not rise] (Ps. 36:11–13). The serpent went and said to the woman: Behold, I touched it, but I did not die; you too may touch it, and you will not die. The woman went and touched the tree, and she saw the angel of death coming towards her; she said: Woe is me! I will die now, and the blessed Holy One will make another woman and give her to Adam, but behold I will cause him to eat with me; if we die, we will both die, and if we live, we will both live. And she took of the fruits of the tree, and ate, and also gave to her husband, so that he should eat with her, as is said, “and she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave to her man, [and he ate] (Genesis 3:6). When Adam had eaten of the fruit of the tree, he saw that he was naked, and his eyes were opened, and his teeth were blunted. He said to her: What is this that you have given me to eat, that my eyes should be opened and my teeth blunted? Just as my teeth were blunted, so shall the teeth of all generations be blunted [cf. Jeremiah 31:29: The fathers ate unripe fruit and the sons’ teeth were blunted]….

He sat in judgment and He judged with judgment. He said to him: Why did you flee before Me? He answered Him: I heard Your sound and my bones trembled,’ as is said, I heard Your sound in the garden and I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid (Genesis 3:10).

What was the garment of the first man? A skin of nail and a cloud of glory covered him. But when he ate of the fruits of the tree, his skin of nail was stripped off him and he saw himself naked, and the cloud of glory departed from him, as is said, And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? From the tree I commanded you not to eat have you eaten?’ (ibid., 11). Man said before the blessed Holy One: Master of all Worlds! When I was alone, I did not offend against You. But the woman whom You have brought to me enticed me away from Your words, as is said, The woman whom you gave by me, [she gave me from the tree, and I ate] (ibid., 12).

The blessed Holy One called to Eve, and said to her: Was it not enough for you that you yourself offended? But [also] that you should make Adam offend? She said before Him: Master of all Worlds! The serpent enticed my mind to offend before You, as is said, The serpent beguiled me and I ate (ibid., 13).

He brought the three of them and passed sentence of judgment upon them, consisting of nine curses and death. He cast down Samael and his band from their holy place in the heavens, and cut off the feet of the serpent. And He cursed him more than all living beasts and all cattle, and decreed that he should shed his skin and suffer pain once in seven years in great pain, and cursed him that he should drag himself by his belly, and his food is turned in his innards into dust and viper’s bile (Job 20:14), and death is in his mouth, and He put hatred between him and the children of the woman, so that they should bruise his head, and after all these death.

He gave the woman nine curses and death [see BT Eruvin 100b]: the afflictions arising from menstruation and the tokens of virginity; the affliction of conception in the womb; and the affliction of childbirth; and the affliction of bringing up children; and her head is covered like a mourner, and it is not shaved except on account of immorality, and her ear is pierced like perpetual slaves; and like a slavegirl she waits upon her husband; and she is not believed in [a matter of] testimony; and after all these death [see BT Sotah 12a].

He extended retribution to Adam [as to a part of the] nine curses and death. He reduced his power, and He reduced his stature because of the impurity connected with issues and with pollution; as well as the [ritual] impurity arising from sexual intercourse; he was to sow wheat and to reap thistles, and his food was to be the grass of the earth, like that of the beast; and [he was to earn] his bread in anxiety, and his food by the sweat [of his brow]; and after all these death.

He extended pardon to Adam [as to a part of the] nine curses and death. He reduced his power and He reduced his stature because of the impurity of issues and of pollution [see BT Sanhedrin 38b]; as well as the impurity arising from sexual intercourse; he was to sow wheat and to reap thistles, and his food was to be the grass of the earth, like that of the beast; and [he was to earn] his bread in anxiety, and his food by the sweat [of his brow]; and after all these: death. If Adam offended, what was the offence of the earth, that it should be cursed? Because it did not speak against the [evil] deed [see Targum Yerushalmi (fag.) on Genesis 3:17], therefore it was cursed; for in the hour when the sons of man miss the mark in graver transgressions He sends a plague to the sons of man; and in the hour when the sons of man miss the mark in less vital transgressions, He smites the fruits of the earth, because of [the offenses of] the sons of man, as is said, Cursed be the soil for your sake, [with pangs shall you eat from it all the days of your life] (ibid., 17)” (Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 13–14).

“נִשְׁמַת נְקֵבָה (Nishmat neqevah), female inspiration, is from the Female, and נִשְׁמַת זָכָר (nishmat zakhar), male inspiration, is from the Male. This is the reason the serpent went after Eve [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 20:11]. He said, ‘Her soul comes from the north, and so I will soon seduce her.’ And how did he seduce her? By mounting her.

His disciples asked: Tell us how this happened? He replied: The wicked Samael conspired with the entire army on high against his Master, since the blessed Holy One said To hold sway over the fish of the sea and the winged creature of the heavens (Genesis 1:26) [cf. Deuteronomy 14:20]. He said: How can we cause him to offend and be driven from before His presence? He descended with all his army, and sought a suitable companion on earth. At last he found the serpent, which looked like a camel, and he rode on him [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 19:1; Pirqei de-Rabbi Eli’ezer 13; Zohar 1:228a]. He then went to the woman, saying to her: Though Elohim said, you shall not eat from any tree of the garden… (ibid. 3:1)—however, I will seek more, I will add in order that she detract. She replied: From the fruit of the garden’s trees we may eat (ibid., 2)—He did not prevent us, except for the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden Elohim has said, “You shall not eat from it and you shall not touch it lest you die” (ibid., 2–3). She added two things: the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden—He only said, from the tree (ibid. 2:17); and you shall not touch it, lest you die. What did Samael do? He went and touched the tree. The tree cried out, saying, “Wicked one! Do not touch me!” Therefore, it is written: Let no haughty foot overtake me, nor the hand of the wicked repel me. There did the doers of mischief fall. They were toppled and could not rise (Psalms 36:12–13).

He then said to the woman: See, I touched the tree and did not die. You too can touch and not die. The woman went and touched the tree. She saw the Angel of Death approaching her and said: ‘Oy! Now I will die and the blessed Holy One will make another woman and give her to Adam! I will therefore cause him to eat with me. If we die, we will both die, and if we live, we will both live. She took the fruit of the tree and ate it, and she also gave to her husband. Their eyes opened, their teeth were blunted (Jeremiah 31:29). He said: What is this that you have given me to eat? Just as my teeth were blunted, so will the teeth of all generations be blunted. He sat in true judgment, as is written, For You upheld my justice, my right, You sat on the throne of the righteous judge (Psalms 9:5). He called to Adam, saying: Why do you hide from Me? He replied: I heard Your sound in the garden (Genesis 3:10). I heard Your sound in the garden—and my bones trembled; And I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid. I was naked—of works; I was naked—of mitsvot; and I was naked—of actions. Therefore, it is written: and I was afraid, for I was naked, and I hid.

What was Adam’s clothing? A skin of nail. However, when he ate of the fruits of the tree, his skin of nail was stripped from him and he saw himself naked, as is written, Who told you that you were naked? (ibid., 11). Adam said before the blessed Holy One: Master of the World: When I was alone did I offend You? But the woman whom You gave me, she drove me away from Your words, as is written, The woman whom You gave me, [she gave me from the tree, and I ate] (ibid., 12). The blessed Holy One said to her: Was it not enough for you to offend, but you also caused Adam to offend? She said before Him: Master of the World: The serpent [beguiled me so] that I offend You. He summoned all three of them and sentenced nine curses upon them and death, and cast down the wicked Samael and his band from their holy place in the heavens. He severed the serpent’s feet and cursed him more than any living creature, more than any beast, and decreed that he be stripped of his skin every seven years, in great pain [see BT Bekhorot 8a]. 

Therefore, Let me hear gladness and joy, [let the bones that You crushed exult] (Psalms 51:10)” (Bahir §§199–200).

“The letter מ (mem) was the original sign for Adam, establishing death upon the world, because this letter was flying over Adam’s head when, as is written: She took מִפִּרְיוֹ (mi-piryo), of its fruit (Genesis 3:6)—מ פִּרְיוֹ (mem, piryo)—and it was waiting for ו ת (vavtav). When, as is written, וַתֹּאכַל וַתִּתֵּן (va-tokhal va-titten), and she ate, and she gave, וַתִּפָּקַחְנָה (va-tippaqaḥnah), And [the eyes of the two] were opened (ibid., 6–7), then מָוֶת (mavet), death, was established upon the world” (Zohar 3:237a, cf. ibid. 1:12b).

“Rabbi Shim’on said, ‘A decree was ordained beforehand that Adam should die since he was taken from the ground. As implied by what is written: on the day you eat from it [you will surely die] (Genesis 2:17)—teaching that had he not sinned, he would have had a long life [cf. BT Shabbat 55a–b]. As soon as he sinned, the punishment was that his days be shortened—and that he die on that very day. After he repented, the blessed Holy One granted him His day—which is one thousand years [cf. Bereshit Rabbah 8:2].

This proves that the decree that he die was prior. For were it not so, when he repented He should have rescinded the decree!

Rabbi Shim’on explained, ‘He repented and He rescinded the decree ordained for him—on the day you eat from it (ibid.); He lengthened his days, granting him His day” (Zohar Ḥadash 18c).