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The Testament of Abraham

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This is the first of two versions of The Testament of Abraham


I. Abraham lived the measure of his life, nine hundred and ninety-five years. The righteous one was exceeding hospitable, having lived all the years of his life in quietness, gentleness, and righteousness. Pitching his tent in the cross-ways at the oak of Mamre, he received everyone, both rich and poor, kings and rulers, the maimed and the helpless, friends and strangers, neighbors and travelers, all alike did the devout, all-Set-Apart, righteous, and hospitable Abraham entertain. Even upon him, however, there came the common, inexorable, bitter lot of death, the uncertain end of life. Therefore the Master Yahweh, summoning His archmalak Michael, said to him: Chief-General Michael, go down to Abraham. Speak to him concerning his death, that he may set his affairs in order, for I blessed him as the stars of heaven, and as the sand by the sea-shore. He is in abundance of long life, many possessions, and is becoming exceeding rich. Beyond all men, moreover, he is righteous in every goodness, hospitable and loving to the end of his life. Archmalak Michael, go to my beloved friend Abraham, announce his death to him. Assure him thus: You will at this time depart from this vain world, will quit the body, and go to your own Master among the good.

II. The chief-captain departed from before the face of Yahweh, and went down to Abraham to the oak of Mamre. He found the righteous Abraham in the field close by, sitting beside yokes of oxen for plowing, together with the sons of Masek and other servants, to the number of twelve. Behold, the chief-captain came to him. Seeing the chief-captain Michael coming from afar, like to a very comely warrior, Abraham arose, and met him as was his custom, meeting and entertaining all strangers. The chief-captain saluted him, and said: Hail, most honored father, righteous soul chosen of Yahweh, true son of the heavenly one. Abraham said to the chief-captain: Hail, most honored warrior, bright as the sun, most beautiful above all the sons of men. You are welcome. I beseech your presence, tell me from where the youth of your age comes. Teach me from where, from what army, and from what journey your beauty comes here. The chief-captain said: I, O righteous Abraham, come from the great city. I was sent by the great king to take the place of a good friend of his, for the king summoned him. Abraham said: Come, my Master, go with me as far as my field. The chief-captain said: I come. Going into the field of the plowing, they sat down beside the company. Abraham said to his servants, the sons of Masek: Go to the herd of horses, bring two horses, quiet, gentle, and tame, so that this stranger and I may sit thereon. But the chief-captain said: Nay, my Master, Abraham, let them not bring horses. I abstain from ever sitting upon any four-footed beast. Is my king not rich in much merchandise, having power over both men and all kinds of cattle? I abstain from ever sitting upon any four-footed beast. Let us go, then, O righteous soul, walking lightly until we reach your house. Abraham said: Amein, be it so.

III. As they went on from the field toward his house, beside that way there stood a cypress tree. By the command of the Master the tree cried out with a human voice, saying: Sacred, Sacred, Sacred is the Master Yahweh who calls to Himself those who love him. Abraham hid the mystery, thinking that the chief-captain did not hear the voice of the tree. Coming near to the house they sat down in the court. Seeing the face of the malak, Isaac said to Sarah his mother: My lady mother, behold, the man sitting with my father Abraham is not a son of the race of those who dwell on the earth. Isaac ran, saluted him, and fell at the feet of the Incorporeal. The Incorporeal blessed him, and said: The Master Yahweh will grant you His promise that He made to your father Abraham and to his seed, and will also grant you the precious prayer of your father and your mother. Abraham said to Isaac his son: My son Isaac, draw water from the well. Bring it to me in the vessel, that we may wash the feet of this stranger, for he is tired, having come to us from off a long journey. Isaac ran to the well, drew water in the vessel, and brought it to them. Abraham went up and washed the feet of the chief captain Michael. The heart of Abraham was moved, and he wept over the stranger. Seeing his father weeping, Isaac wept also. The chief captain, seeing them weeping, also wept with them. The tears of the chief captain fell upon the vessel into the water of the basin and became precious stones. Abraham saw the marvel. Being astonished, He took the stones secretly, and hid the mystery, keeping it by himself in his heart.

IV. Abraham said to Isaac his son: My beloved son, go into the inner chamber of the house and beautify it. Spread two couches there for us, one for me and one for this man who is guest with us today. Prepare a seat there for us, a candlestick, and a table with abundance of every good thing. Beautify the chamber, my son. Spread under us linen, purple, and fine linen. Burn every precious and excellent incense. Bring sweet-smelling plants from the garden and fill our house with them. Kindle seven lamps full of oil, so that we may rejoice. This man who is our guest today is more glorious than kings or rulers, and his appearance surpasses all the sons of men. Isaac prepared all things well. Abraham took the archmalak Michael into the chamber, and they both sat down upon the couches. Between them he placed a table with abundance of every good thing. The chief captain arose, and went out, as if by constraint of his belly to make issue of water. He ascended to heaven in the twinkling of an eye, stood before the Master, and said to him: Master, let your power know that I am unable to remind that righteous man of his death. I have not seen upon the earth a man like him, pitiful, hospitable, righteous, truthful, devout, refraining from every evil deed. Now know, Master, I cannot remind him of his death. The Master said: Go down, chief-captain Michael, to my friend Abraham. Whatever he says to you, that you do, and whatever he eats, you also eat with him. I will send my Spirit upon his son Isaac, and will put the remembrance of his death into the heart of Isaac, so that even he in a dream may see the death of his father. Isaac will relate the dream, you will interpret it, and he himself will know his end. The chief-captain said: Master, all the heavenly spirits are incorporeal, and neither eat nor drink. This man set before me a table with abundance of all good things earthly and corruptible. Now, Master, what will I do? How will I escape him, sitting at one table with him? The Master said: Go down to him, and take no thought for this. When you sit down with him, I will send upon you a devouring spirit. It will consume out of your hands and through your mouth all that is on the table. Rejoice together with him in everything, only you will interpret well the things of the vision, that Abraham may know the sickle of death, the uncertain end of life, and may make disposal of all his possessions. I blessed him above the sand of the sea, and as the stars of heaven.

V. The chief captain went down to the house of Abraham, sat down with him at the table, and Isaac served them. When the supper was ended, Abraham prayed after his custom, and the chief-captain prayed together with him. Each lay down to sleep upon his couch. Isaac said to his father: Father, I would fain sleep with you in this chamber, that I also may hear your discourse, for I love to hear the excellence of the conversation of this virtuous man. Abraham said: Nay, my son. Go to your own chamber, sleep on your own couch, lest we be troublesome to this man. Having received the prayer from them, and having blessed them, Isaac went to his own chamber and lay down upon his couch. The Master cast the thought of death into the heart of Isaac as in a dream. About the third hour of the night Isaac awoke, rose up from his couch, and came running to the chamber where his father was sleeping together with the archmalak. On reaching the door, Isaac cried out, saying: My father Abraham, arise, open to me quickly, that I may enter, hang upon your neck, and embrace you before they take you away from me. Abraham therefore arose, and opened to him. Isaac entered, hung upon his neck, and began to weep with a loud voice. Being moved at heart, Abraham also wept with a loud voice. The chief-captain, seeing them weeping, wept also. Being in her room, Sarah heard their weeping, came running to them, and found them embracing and weeping. Sarah said with weeping: My Master Abraham, what is this that you weep? Tell me, my Master, did this brother who was entertained by us this day bring you tidings of Lot, your brother's son, that he is dead? Is it for this that you grieve thus? The chief-captain answered, and said to her: Nay, my sister Sarah, it is not as you say. I think your son Isaac beheld a dream, came to us weeping, and we seeing him were moved in our hearts and wept.

VI. Sarah, hearing the excellence of the conversation of the chief-captain, straightway knew that it was a malak of the Master that spoke. Sarah therefore signified to Abraham to come out towards the door, and said to him: My Master Abraham, do you know who this man is? Abraham said: I do not know. Sarah said: You know, my Master, the three men from heaven that were entertained by us in our tent beside the oak of Mamre, when you killed the kid without blemish, and set a table before them. After the flesh was eaten, the kid rose again, and sucked its mother with great joy. Do you not know, my Master Abraham, that by promise they gave to us Isaac as the fruit of the womb? Of those three Set-Apart men this is one. Abraham said: O Sarah, in this you speak the truth. Glory and praise from Yahweh and the Father. For late in the evening when I washed his feet in the basin I said in my heart: These are the feet of one of the three men that I washed then. His tears fell into the basin and became precious stones. Shaking them out from his lap he gave them to Sarah, saying: If you do not believe me, look at these. Receiving them Sarah bowed down, saluted, and said: Glory be to Yahweh that shows us wonderful things. Now know, my Master Abraham, there is among us the revelation of some thing, whether it is evil or good!

VII. Abraham left Sarah, went into the chamber, and said to Isaac: Come here, my beloved son, tell me the truth, what it was you saw, what befell you that you came so hastily to us. Isaac answering began to say: I saw, my Master, in this night the sun and the moon above my head, surrounding me with its rays and giving me light. As I gazed at this and rejoiced, I saw the heaven opened, and a man bearing light descend from it, shining more than seven suns. This man like the sun came, took away the sun from my head, and went up into the heavens from where he came. I was greatly grieved that he took away the sun from me. After a little, as I was still sorrowing and sore troubled, I saw this man come forth from heaven a second time. He also took away from me the moon from off my head. I wept greatly, called upon that man of light, and said: Do not, my Master, take away my glory from me. Pity me and hear me. If you take away the sun from me, then leave the moon to me. He said: Suffer them to be taken up to the King above, for He wishes them there. He took them away from me, but he left the rays upon me. The chief-captain said: Hear, O righteous Abraham. The sun which your son saw is you his father, and the moon likewise is Sarah his mother. The man bearing light who descended from heaven, this is the one sent from Yahweh who is to take your righteous soul from you. Now know, O most honored Abraham, that at this time you will leave this worldly life, and remove to Yahweh. Abraham said to the chief captain; O strangest of marvels! And now are you he who will take my soul from me? The chief-captain said to him: I am the chief-captain Michael, who stands before the Master. I was sent to you to remind you of your death, and then I will depart to him as I was commanded. Abraham said: Now I know that you are a malak of the Master, and were sent to take my soul. I will not go with you, do whatever you are commanded.

VIII. Hearing these words the chief-captain immediately vanished, ascended into heaven, stood before Yahweh, and told all that he saw in the house of Abraham. The chief-captain also said this to his Master: Thus says your friend Abraham; I will not go with you, do whatever you are commanded. Now, O Master Almighty, does your glory and immortal kingdom order anything? Yahweh said to the chief-captain Michael: Go to my friend Abraham yet once again. Speak to him thus: Thus says the Master Yahweh, He who brought you into the land of promise, who blessed you above the sand of the sea and above the stars of heaven, who opened the womb of barrenness of Sarah, who granted you Isaac as the fruit of the womb in old age, Verily I say to you, blessing I will bless you, multiplying I will multiply your seed, and I will give you all that you will ask from me. I am the Master Yahweh, and besides me there is no other. Tell me why you rebel against me, why is there grief in you, and why you rebel against my archmalak Michael? Do you not know that all who come from Adam and Eve die, none of the prophets escaped death? None of those who rule as kings is immortal, none of your forefathers escaped the mystery of death. They all died, they all departed into Hades, they are all gathered by the sickle of death [except Enoch]. But upon you I did not send death, I did not suffer any deadly disease to come upon you, I did not permit the sickle of death to meet you, I did not allow the nets of Hades to enfold you, I never wished you to meet with any evil. For good comfort I sent my chief-captain Michael to you, that you may know your departure from the world, set your house in order, all that belongs to you, and bless Isaac your beloved son. Know I did this not wishing to grieve you. Why then did you say to my chief-captain: I will not go with you? Why did you speak thus? Do you know that if I give leave to death, and he comes upon you, then I should see whether you would come or not?

IX. The chief-captain received the exhortations of the Master, went down to Abraham, and seeing him the righteous one fell upon his face to the ground as one dead. The chief-captain told him all he heard from the Most High. Rising with many tears, the Set-Apart and just Abraham fell at the feet of the Incorporeal, and besought him, saying: I beseech you, chief-captain of the hosts above, since you wholly deigned to come yourself to me a sinner, in all things your unworthy servant, I beseech you even now, O chief-captain, to carry my word yet again to the Most High. You will say to Him: Thus says Abraham your servant; Master, Master, in every work and word which I asked of you, you heard me and fulfilled all my counsel. Now, Master, I do not resist your power. I know that I am not immortal, but mortal. Since all things yield to your command, and fear and tremble at the face of your power, I also fear. But I ask one request of you. Master, hear my prayer. While still in this body I desire to see all the inhabited earth, and all the creations which you established by one word. When I see these, then if I depart from life I will be without sorrow. So the chief-captain went back again, stood before Yahweh, and told him all, saying: Thus says your friend Abraham. I desire to behold all the earth in my lifetime before I die. The Most High heard this, commanded the chief-captain Michael, and said to him: Take a cloud of light, and the malaks who have power over the chariots. Go down, take the righteous Abraham upon a chariot of the cherubim, and exalt him into the air of heaven that he may behold all the earth.

X. The archmalak Michael went down, took Abraham upon a chariot of the cherubim, exalted him into the air of heaven, led him upon the cloud together with sixty malaks, and Abraham ascended upon the chariot over all the earth. Abraham saw the world as it was in that day, some plowing, others driving wains, in one place men herding flocks, in another watching them by night, dancing, playing, harping, in another place men striving and contending at law, elsewhere men weeping and having the dead in remembrance. He also saw the newly-wedded received with honor, and in a word he saw all things that are done in the world, both good and bad. Passing over them Abraham saw men bearing swords, wielding in their hands sharpened swords, and Abraham asked the chief-captain: Who are these? The chief-captain said: These are thieves, who intend to commit murder, steal, burn, and destroy. Abraham said: Master, Master, hear my voice. Command that wild beasts may come out of the wood and devour them. Even as he spoke there came wild beasts out of the wood and devoured them. He saw in another place a man with a woman committing fornication with each other, and said: Master, Master, command that the earth may open and swallow them, and straightway the earth was cleft, and swallowed them. He saw in another place men digging through a house, carrying away other men's possessions. He said: Master, Master, command that fire may come down from heaven and consume them. Even as he spoke, fire came down from heaven and consumed them. Straightaway there came a voice from heaven to the chief-captain, saying: O chief-captain Michael, command the chariot to stop. Turn Abraham away that he may not see all the earth, for if he beholds all that live in wickedness, he will destroy all creation. Behold, Abraham has not sinned, and has no pity on sinners. I made the world, and do not desire to destroy any one of them, but wait for the death of the sinner, till he be converted and live. Take Abraham up to the first gate of heaven, that he may see there the judgments and recompenses, and repent of the souls of the sinners he destroyed.

XI. Michael turned the chariot and brought Abraham to the east, to the first gate of heaven. Abraham saw two ways, the one narrow and contracted, the other broad and spacious. And he saw there two gates, the one broad on the broad way, and the other narrow on the narrow way. Outside the two gates he saw a man sitting upon a gilded throne, and the appearance of that man was terrible, as of the Master. They saw many souls driven by malaks led in through the broad gate, and other souls, few in number, that were taken by the malaks through the narrow gate. When the wonderful one who sat upon the golden throne saw few entering through the narrow gate, and many entering through the broad one, straightaway that wonderful one tore the hairs of his head and the sides of his beard, and threw himself on the ground from his throne, weeping and lamenting. When he saw many souls entering through the narrow gate, then he arose from the ground and sat upon his throne in great joy, rejoicing and exulting. Abraham asked the chief-captain: My Master chief-captain, who is this most marvelous man, adorned with such glory, sometimes he weeps and laments, and sometimes he rejoices and exults? The incorporeal one said: This is the first-created Adam who is in such glory. He looks upon the world because all are born from him. When he sees many souls going through the narrow gate, then he arises and sits upon his throne rejoicing and exulting in joy, because this narrow gate is that of the just, which leads to life, and those who enter through it go into Paradise. For this, then, the first-created Adam rejoices, because he sees the souls being saved. But when he sees many souls entering through the broad gate, then he pulls out the hairs of his head, and casts himself on the ground weeping and lamenting bitterly. For the broad gate is that of sinners, which leads to destruction and eternal punishment. The first-formed Adam falls from his throne weeping and lamenting for the destruction of sinners. There are many who are lost, and there are few who are saved. In seven thousand there is scarcely found one soul saved, being righteous and undefiled.

XII. While he was yet saying these things to me, behold two malaks, fiery in aspect, pitiless in mind, severe in look, and they drove on thousands of souls, pitilessly lashing them with fiery thongs. The malak laid hold of one soul, and they drove all the souls in at the broad gate to destruction. So we also went along with the malaks, and came within that broad gate. Between the two gates stood a throne of terrible aspect, of terrible crystal, gleaming as fire, and upon it sat a wondrous man bright as the sun, like to the Son of Yahweh. Before him stood a table like crystal, all of gold and fine linen, and upon the table there was lying a book, the thickness of it six cubits, and the breadth of it ten cubits. On the right and left of it stood two malaks holding paper, ink, and pen. A malak of light sat before the table, holding a balance in his hand. On his left sat a malak all fiery, pitiless, severe, holding in his hand a trumpet, having within it all-consuming fire with which to try the sinners. The wondrous man who sat upon the throne judged and sentenced the souls. The two malaks on the right and on the left wrote down, the one on the right the righteousness, and the one on the left the wickedness. The one before the table, who held the balance, weighed the souls. The fiery malak, who held the fire, tried the souls. Abraham asked the chief-captain Michael: What is this that we behold? The chief-captain said: These things that you see, Set-Apart Abraham, are the judgment and recompense. Behold, the malak holding the soul in his hand, he brought it before the judge, and the judge said to one of the malaks that served him: Open this book, and find the sins of this soul. Opening the book he found its sins and its righteousness equally balanced. He neither gave it to the tormentors, nor to those that were saved, but set it in the midst.

XIII. Abraham said: My Master chief-captain, who is this most wondrous judge? Who are the malaks that write down? Who is the malak like the sun, holding the balance? Who is the fiery malak holding the fire? The chief-captain said: "See, most Set-Apart Abraham, the terrible man sitting upon the throne? This is the son of the first created Adam, who is called Abel, whom the wicked Cain killed. He sits thus to judge all creation, he examines righteous men and sinners. Yahweh said: I will not judge you, but every man born of man will be judged. Therefore He gave judgment to him, to judge the world until His great and glorious coming. Then, O righteous Abraham, is the perfect judgment and recompense, eternal and unchangeable, which no one can alter. Every man comes from the first-created, therefore they are first judged here by his son. At the second coming they will be judged by the twelve tribes of Yisrayah, every breath and every creature. The third time they will be judged by the Master Yahweh of all. Indeed, the end of that judgment is near, the sentence terrible, and there is none to deliver. By three tribunals the judgment of the world, and the recompense is made. For this reason a matter is not finally confirmed by one or two witnesses, but by three witnesses everything will be established. The two malaks on the right hand and on the left, these are those who write down the sins and the righteousness. The one on the right hand writes down the righteousness, and the one on the left the sins. The malak like the sun, holding the balance in his hand, is the archmalak Dokiel, the just weigher. He weighs the righteousnesses and sins with the righteousness of Yahweh. The fiery and pitiless malak, holding the fire in his hand, is the archmalak Puruel, who has power over fire. He tries the works of men through fire. If the fire consumes the work of any man, the malak of judgment immediately seizes him, and carries him away to the place of sinners, a most bitter place of punishment. If the fire approves the work of anyone, and does not seize upon it, that man is justified. The malak of righteousness takes him, and carries him up to be saved in the lot of the just. Most righteous Abraham, all things in all men are tried by fire and the balance."

XIV. Abraham said to the chief-captain: My Master the chief-captain, the soul which the malak held in his hand, why was it adjudged to be set in the midst? The chief-captain said: Listen, righteous Abraham. The judge found its sins and its righteousnesses equal, so he neither committed it to judgment nor to be saved, until the judge of all comes. Abraham said to the chief-captain: What yet is wanting for the soul to be saved? The chief-captain said: If it obtains one righteousness above its sins, it enters into salvation. Abraham said to the chief-captain: Come here, chief-captain Michael, let us make prayer for this soul, and see whether Yahweh will hear us. The chief-captain said: Amein, be it so. They made prayer and entreaty for the soul. Yahweh heard them, and when they rose up from their prayer they did not see the soul standing there. Abraham said to the malak: Where is the soul that you held in the midst? The malak answered: It was saved by your righteous prayer. Behold, a malak of light took it, and carried it up into Paradise. Abraham said: I glorify the name of Yahweh, the Most High, and His immeasurable mercy. Abraham said to the chief-captain: I beseech you, archmalak, hearken to my prayer. Let us yet call upon the Master, supplicate His compassion, and entreat His mercy for the souls of the sinners whom I formerly, in my anger, cursed and destroyed (whom the earth devoured, the wild beasts tore in pieces, and the fire consumed, through my words). I know that I sinned before the Master Yahweh. Come then, O Michael, chief-captain of the hosts above, come, let us call upon Yahweh with tears that He may forgive me my sin, and grant them to me. The chief-captain heard him, and they made entreaty before the Master. When they called upon Him for a long space, there came a voice from heaven saying: Abraham, Abraham, I hearken to your voice and your prayer, and forgive you your sin. Those whom you think I destroyed I called up and brought into life by my exceeding kindness. For a season I requite them in judgment, and those whom I destroy living upon earth, I will not requite in death.

XV. The voice of the Master also said to the chief-captain Michael: Michael, my servant, turn Abraham back to his house (Behold, his end is come near, and the measure of his life is fulfilled), that he may set all things in order, then take him and bring him to me. So the chief-captain, turning the chariot and the cloud, brought Abraham to his house, and going into his chamber he sat upon his couch. Sarah his wife came, embraced the feet of the Incorporeal, and spoke humbly, saying: I give you thanks, my Master, that you brought my Master Abraham. Behold, we thought he was taken up from us. His son Isaac also came and fell upon his neck. In the same way all his men-slaves and women-slaves surrounded Abraham and embraced him, glorifying Yahweh. The Incorporeal one said to them: Hearken, righteous Abraham. Behold your wife Sarah, behold also your beloved son Isaac, behold also all your men-servants and maid-servants round about you. Make disposition of all you have, for the day comes near in which you will depart from the body, and go to the Master once for all. Abraham said: Has the Master said it, or do you say this of yourself? The chief-captain answered: Hearken, righteous Abraham. The Master commanded, and I tell it you. Abraham said: I will not go with you. The chief-captain, hearing these words, straightaway went forth from the presence of Abraham, went up into the heavens, stood before Yahweh the Most High, and said: Master Almighty, behold, I hearkened to your friend Abraham in all he said to you, and fulfilled his requests. I showed to him your power, and all the earth and sea that is under heaven. I showed to him judgment and recompense by means of cloud and chariots. Again he says: I will not go with you. The Most High said to the malak: Does my friend Abraham say thus again; I will not go with you? The archmalak said: Master Almighty, he says thus. I refrain from laying hands on him, because from the beginning he is your friend, and has done all things pleasing in your sight. There is no man like him on earth, not even Job the wondrous man, therefore I refrain from laying hands on him. Command, therefore, Immortal King, what will be done.

XVI. The Most High said: Call me here Death, who is called the shameless countenance, the pitiless look. Michael the Incorporeal went, and said to Death: Come here, the Master of creation, the immortal king, calls you. Death, hearing this, shivered and trembled, being possessed with great terror. Coming with great fear it stood before the invisible father, shivering, groaning, and trembling, awaiting the command of the Master. The invisible Yahweh said to Death: Come here, you bitter and fierce name of the world. Hide your fierceness, cover your corruption, cast away your bitterness from you, put on your beauty, and all your glory. Go down to Abraham my friend, take him, and bring him to me. Do not terrify him, but bring him with fair speech, for he is my own friend. Having heard this, Death went out from the presence of the Most High, put on a robe of great brightness, made his appearance like the sun, became fair and beautiful above the sons of men, assuming the form of an archmalak, having his cheeks flaming with fire, and he departed to Abraham. Now the righteous Abraham went out of his chamber, and sat under the trees of Mamre, holding his chin in his hand, awaiting the coming of the archmalak Michael. Behold, a smell of sweet odor came to him, and a flashing of light. Abraham turned and saw Death coming towards him in great glory and beauty. Abraham arose and went to meet him, thinking it was the chief-captain of Yahweh. Beholding him, Death saluted him, saying: Rejoice, precious Abraham, righteous soul, true friend of the Most High Yahweh, and companion of the Set-Apart malaks. Abraham said to Death: Hail, you of appearance and form like the sun, most glorious helper, bringer of light, wondrous man, where does your glory come to us from? Who are you, and where do you come from? Then Death said: Most righteous Abraham, behold, I tell you the truth. I am the bitter lot of death. Abraham said to him: Nay, you are the comeliness of the world, you are the glory and beauty of malaks and men, you are fairer in form than every other. You say: I am the bitter lot of death; and not rather; I am fairer than every good thing. Death said: I tell you the truth. What the Master named me, that I tell you. Abraham said: What are you come here for? Death said: For your Set-Apart soul I am come. Then Abraham said: I know what you mean, but I will not go with you. Death was silent, and did not answer him a word.

XVII. Then Abraham arose, and went into his house. Death accompanied him there. Abraham went up into his chamber, and Death went up with him. Abraham lay down upon his couch, Death came and sat by his feet. Then Abraham said: Depart, depart from me, for I desire to rest upon my couch. Death said: I will not depart until I take your spirit from you. Abraham said to him: By the immortal Yahweh I charge you to tell me the truth. Are you death? Death said to him: I am Death. I am the destroyer of the world. Abraham said: I beseech you, since you are Death, tell me if you come thus to all in such fairness, glory, and beauty? Death said: Nay, my Master Abraham. Your righteousnesses, the boundless sea of your hospitality, and the greatness of your love towards Yahweh, is become a crown upon my head. In beauty, great peace, and gentleness I approach the righteous. To sinners I come in great corruption, fierceness, the greatest bitterness, with fierce and pitiless look. Abraham said: I beseech you, hearken to me, and show me your fierceness, your corruption, and bitterness. Death said: You can not behold my fierceness, most righteous Abraham. Abraham said: Yes, I will be able to behold all your fierceness by means of the Name of the living Yahweh, for the might of Yahweh who is in heaven is with me. Then Death put off all his comeliness and beauty, all his glory, the form like the sun with which he was clothed, and put upon himself a tyrant's robe. He made his appearance gloomy and fiercer than all kind of wild beasts, and more unclean than all uncleanness. He showed to Abraham seven fiery heads of serpents, fourteen faces, (one) of flaming fire and of great fierceness, a face of darkness, a most gloomy face of a viper, a face of a most terrible precipice, a face fiercer than an asp, a face of a terrible lion, and a face of a cerastes and basilisk. He showed him also a face of a fiery scimitar, a sword-bearing face, a face of lightning, lightening terribly, and a noise of dreadful thunder. He also showed him another face of a fierce stormy sea, a fierce rushing river, a terrible three-headed serpent, and a cup mingled with poisons. In short he showed to him great fierceness, unendurable bitterness, and every mortal disease as of the odor of Death. From the great bitterness and fierceness there died servants and maid-servants in number about seven thousand, and the righteous Abraham came into indifference of death so that his spirit failed him.

XVIII. The all-Set-Apart Abraham, seeing these things thus, said to Death: I beseech you, all-destroying Death, hide your fierceness. Put on your beauty and the shape which you had before. Straightaway Death hid his fierceness, and put on his beauty which he had before. Abraham said to Death: Why did you do this, you slayed all my servants and maidservants? Did Yahweh sent you here for this end today? Death said: Nay, my Master Abraham, it is not as you say, on your account I was sent here. Abraham said to Death: How did these die then? Did the Master not say it? Death said: Most righteous Abraham, believe that this also is wonderful - you were not taken away with them!! Nevertheless I tell you the truth, for if the right hand of Yahweh had not been with you at that time, you also would have had to depart from this life. The righteous Abraham said: Now I know I have come into indifference of death, so that my spirit fails. I beseech you, all-destroying Death, since my servants died before their time, come let us pray to the Master Yahweh that He may hear us and raise up those who died before their time by your fierceness. Death said: Amein, be it so. Therefore Abraham arose, fell upon the face of the ground in prayer, and Death together with him. The Master sent a spirit of life upon those who were dead, and they were made alive again. Then the righteous Abraham gave glory to Yahweh.

XIX. Going up into his chamber he lay down, so Death came and stood before him. Abraham said to him: Depart from me, for I desire to rest, because my spirit is in indifference. Death said: I will not depart from you until I take your soul. With an austere countenance and angry look Abraham said to Death: Who ordered you to say this? You say these words of yourself boastfully. I will not go with you until the chief-captain Michael comes to me, and I will go with him. But this also I tell you, if you desire that I accompany you. Explain to me all your changes, the seven fiery heads of serpents, what the face of the precipice is, what the sharp sword, what the loud-roaring river, and what the tempestuous sea that rages so fiercely. Teach me also the unendurable thunder, the terrible lightning, and the evil-smelling cup mingled with poisons. Teach me concerning all these. Death answered: Listen, righteous Abraham. For seven ages I destroy the world, and lead all down to Hades. Kings and rulers, rich and poor, slaves and free men, I convoy to the bottom of Hades, and for this I showed you the seven heads of serpents. The face of fire I showed you because many die consumed by fire, and behold death through a face of fire. The face of the precipice I showed you, because many men die descending from the tops of trees or terrible precipices, losing their life, and see death in the shape of a terrible precipice. The face of the sword I showed you because many are slain in wars by the sword, and see death as a sword. The face of the great rushing river I showed you because many are drowned and perish snatched away by the crossing of many waters, carried off by great rivers, and see death before their time. The face of the angry raging sea I showed you because many in the sea falling into great surges and becoming shipwrecked are swallowed up and behold death as the sea. The unendurable thunder and the terrible lightning I showed you because many men in the moment of anger meet with unendurable thunder and terrible lightning coming to seize upon men, and see death thus. I showed you also the poisonous wild beasts, asps, basilisks, leopards, lions, lions' whelps, bears, vipers, and in short the face of every wild beast I showed you, most righteous one, because many men are destroyed by wild beasts. Others by poisonous snakes, serpents, asps, cerastes, basilisks, and vipers breathe out their life and die. I showed you also the destroying cups mingled with poison, because many men being given poison to drink by other men straightaway depart unexpectedly.

XX. Abraham said: I beseech you, is there also an unexpected death? Tell me. Death said: Verily, verily, I tell you in the truth of Yahweh that there are seventy-two deaths. One is the just death, buying its fixed time, and many men in one hour enter into death being given over to the grave. Behold, I told you all that you asked. Now I tell you, most righteous Abraham, to dismiss all counsel. Cease from asking anything once for all, and come, go with me, as Yahweh the judge of all commanded me. Abraham said to Death: Depart from me yet a little, that I may rest on my couch, for I am very faint at heart. Since I see you with my eyes my strength fails me, all the limbs of my flesh seem to me a weight as of lead, and my spirit is distressed exceedingly. Depart for a little, I said I cannot bear to see your shape. Then Isaac his son came, and fell upon his breast weeping. His wife Sarah came and embraced his feet, lamenting bitterly. There came also his men slaves and women slaves, surrounding his couch, lamenting greatly. Abraham came into indifference of death, and Death said to Abraham: Come, take my right hand. May cheerfulness, life, and strength come to you. Death deceived Abraham. He took his right hand, and straightaway his soul adhered to the hand of Death. Immediately the archmalak Michael came with a multitude of malaks, and took up his precious soul in his hands in a divinely woven linen cloth. They tended the body of the just Abraham with divine ointments and perfumes until the third day after his death, and buried him in the land of promise, the oak of Mamre. But the malaks received his precious soul, ascended into heaven singing the hymn of "thrice Set-Apart" to the Master Yahweh of all, and they set it there to worship Yahweh the Father. After great praise and glory was given to the Master, and Abraham bowed down to worship, there came the undefiled voice of Yahweh the Father, saying: Take my friend Abraham into Paradise, where the tabernacles of my righteous ones are, and the abodes of my saints Isaac and Yaacob in his bosom. There is no trouble, nor grief, nor sighing, but peace, rejoicing, and life unending.

(And let us, too, my beloved brethren, imitate the hospitality of the patriarch Abraham, and attain to his virtuous way of life, that we may be thought worthy of the life eternal, glorifying the Father, Son and Set-Apart Spirit, to whom are glory and power forever. Amein.).







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-- Yahchanan --
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Fear Yahweh - judgment day is coming!!