Said Rabbi Jose: "Adam through disobedience to the divine commandment, lost the knowledge and understanding of the secret doctrine and occult power and meaning of the letters of the alphabet except the two last, namely, the letters Shin (S) and Tau (Th), because though he had sinned yet was not goodness wholly extinguished within him and therefore to express his feeling of gratitude for this concession, he called his son Seth. After his repentance and reconciliation with his Lord, the letters with the knowledge of their mystical meaning and power became known again to him, but in their reverse order thus, Th, S, R, Q, in which they continued up to the day the children of Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai, when they became arranged again in their normal order as on the day that the heavens and the earth were created. This redistribution of the alphabetical letters
contributed to the permanent welfare and endurance of the world."
Said Rabbi Abba: "When Adam transgressed, the heavens and the earth trembled and wished to become dissolved into their original elements and disappear altogether because the covenant between God and man on which they were founded had become broken, of which it is written, 'If the covenant of day and night had not existed, I would not have made those laws that govern and control the universe.' (Jer. xxxiii., 25.) We know that this covenant was broken by the transgression of Adam as scripture states, 'but they like Adam have transgressed the covenant' (Hos. vi., 7). If the Holy One had not foreseen that Israel on arriving at Mount Sinai would accept the covenant, the very heavens and the earth would have ceased their existence and reverted back into chaos."
Said Rabbi Hezekiah: "The Holy One remitteth and forgives everyone who confesses his sins and wrongdoings. Observe that when the world was created, the Holy One made the covenant upon which it continues to exist. We infer this from the word Brashith which should be written thus, bara, shith: meaning 'He created the foundation' or the covenant, symbolized56a by the letter Yod (I) in the middle of the word shith which though the smallest of the alphabetical letters, nevertheless represents the covenant through which all blessings come to mankind. When a son was born unto him, Adam confessed his sin and was forgiven by the Holy One, and therefore he called his name Seth, having the same consonantal letters as Shith without the Yod, symbol of the covenant he had transgressed. Furthermore, the Holy covenant is also symbolized by the letter Beth (B) which became incorporated with S and Th when the children of Israel stood at the foot of Mount Sinai and thus formed the Sabbath (S B Th), of which it is written, 'Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath (or covenant) throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant.' It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.'" (Ex. xxxi., 16).
Said Rabbi Jose: "The two letters Shin and Tau were then associated and from the time the children of Israel received the covenant at Mount Sinai, they acquired the occult knowledge and understanding of the mystical meaning of all the letters of the alphabet that, with the exception of Shin and Tau, had become lost to mankind."
Said Rabbi Jehuda: "From the birth of Seth to the coming
of Israel to Mount Sinai, the mysteries of the letters were gradually unfolded and revealed to the patriarchs, but not fully, as the letters were not in their normal order as at present."
Said Rabbi Eleazar: "In the days of Enos, men were deeply versed in occult knowledge and magical science and the manipulation of natural forces, in which no one was more skilled than he, since the time of Adam whose chief study was on the occult properties of the leaves of the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil.56a-56b It was Enos that taught and imparted this occult lore to his contemporaries, who in their turn handed it down to the antediluvians, the persistent and perverse opponents of Noah. They boasted that by their magical science they were able to ward off the divine judgments threatening them. Whilst Enos lived, men became initiated into the higher life, as scripture states. 'Then began men to make invocations in the name of Jehovah.'"
Said Rabbi Isaac: "All the just men who lived subsequent to Enos, as Jared, Methusalah and Henoch, did all in their power to restrain the practice of magical arts, but their efforts proved futile and ineffectual; so that the professors of them, proud of their occult knowledge, became rebellious and disobedient to their Lord, saying, 'Who is Shaddai, the almighty, that we should serve him and what profit should we have in praying unto lam'?' Thus spake they and foolishly imagined that by their occultism and magic they would he able to nullify and turn away the oncoming judgment that was to sweep them wholly out of existence. Beholding their wicked deeds and practices, the Holy One caused the earth to revert back to its former condition and become immersed in water. After the deluge, however, He gave the earth again to mankind, promising, in His mercy, it should never again and in like manner be destroyed. It is written, 'The Lord caused the earth to be covered with the deluge' (Ps. xxix., 10). The word for Lord, here, is Jehovah and not Alhim; the first representing mercy, the other severity and judgment. In the time of Enos, even young children became students and trained in the higher mysteries and knowledge of the secret doctrine."