Said Rabbi Jose: "It is written, 'And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth and it grieved him at his heart' (Gen. vi., 6). 'Woe unto them that draw iniquity with cords of vanity and sin as it were with a cart-rope' (Is. v., 18). The words, 'that draw iniquity,' refer to those who sin against their "Lord every day and imagine their wrong-doing is of less consequence and worth than a cart-rope. With this class of wrong-doers the Holy One is exceedingly patient and long-suffering, and punishes them not until their misdeeds get beyond endurance. When the Holy One executeth judgment upon sinners in the world, yet is he unwilling they should perish; since notwithstanding their transgression, they are his children, the work of his hands. Though their punishment is inevitable, yet like as a father pitieth his children, so doth he pity them; so great is his love and compassion towards them that even when punishment and suffering overtake the erring and sinful, he is full of compassion and grieved in heart, if we may so express it, like the Persian monarch who sought to deliver Daniel, of whom it is written, 'Then the king went to his palace and passed the night fasting; neither were instruments of music brought before him, and his sleep went from him.'" (Dan. vi., 18.)
Said Rabbi Isaac: "The words, 'And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth,' have the same meaning as the words, 'And the Lord repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.'" (Ex. xxxii., 14.)57a-57b
Said Rabbi Yusa: "The interpretation of the rabbi is favorable to man, but in the opinion of Rabbi Hezekiah it is otherwise."
Said Rabbi Hiya: "When the Holy One created man to dwell upon the earth, he formed him after the likeness of Adam Kadmon, the heavenly man, when the angels gazed upon him, they exclaimed: 'Thou hast made him almost equal to Alhim and crowned him with glory and honor.' After the transgression and fall of Adam, it is said the Holy One was grieved at heart because it gave occasion for repeating what they had said at his creation, 'What is man that thou shouldst be mindful of him, or the son of man that thou shouldst visit him.'" (Ps vii. 5.)
Said Rabbi Jehuda: "It grieved the Holy One that he must punish man severely and thus appear as acting in contradiction to the greatest of his attributes, (mercy), as it is written. 'And he appointed singers unto the Lord to march in front of the army, praising the beauty of holiness and saying, 'Praise the Lord, for his mercy endureth forever.'" (II. Chron. xx., 21.)
Said Rabbi Isaac: "Why was this song of praise composed like those psalms that begin with the words, Praise the Lord for he is good, was it not because the term 'good' (tob) might not be used when Israel was compelled to destroy people whom the Holy One made and created? When Israel passed through the waters of the Red Sea, the angels on high assembled round the throne of the Holy One and sang praises. Then spake he and said: wherefore sing yeEx. 15:1 a song of praise, seeing so many, the work of my hands, are drowned in the depths of the sea? So is it when a sinner perishes; the Holy One is grieved at heart, when he is cut off from the face of the earth."
Said Rabbi Abba: "It is of a truth so; for when Adam fell through transgressing the divine commandment, the Holy One said: 'Oh Adam! thou art become dead unto the higher divine life.' At these words, the light of the Sabbath candle became extinguished and Adam was driven out of the garden of Eden. Moreover, the Holy One further said: 'I made thee ascend and placed thee in Eden to offer sacrifices; but seeing thou hast profaned the altar, it is my decree that henceforth thou shalt be a tiller of the ground and die at last--for from it was thou taken,
and unto it shall thou return.' Ere, however, this occurred the Holy One had compassion on him and permitted him to live and be buried in the vicinity of Paradise; for Adam had discovered57b a cave from which emitted a light which he recognized as coming from out of the garden of Eden; and there he, along with his wife, lived and died. Observe that no one goeth out of the world without seeing immediately after death his ancestor Adam, who seeks to know the cause of his decease and what his moral and spiritual state to which he has attained. Then says the deceased one; Woe unto thee, for thou art the cause wherefore I have ceased to live; to which Adam replies: I transgressed but one only of the commandments and suffered therefrom, but what must be thy punishment who hast broken so many by thy misdeeds."
Said Rabbi Hiya: "Adam was seen on different occasions by the patriarchs, to whom he confessed and acknowledged his sin and showed them the place where he had enjoyed the divine light and glory from on high and also where his descendants, the righteous, and those who obeyed the Good Law, through their good deeds now live the diviner life in the garden of the celestial Eden. Then praised they the Lord and said, 'How excellent is thy loving kindness, oh God, wherefore do the children of men put their trust in the shadow of thy wing.'" (Ps. xxxvi., 7.)