SAID Rabbi Eleazar: "What David beheld at that awful moment was not an angel but a manifestation of the Holy One. The scripture uses the words 'The Angel of the Lord' as a metaphoric appellation of the Divine Being, 61aas did also Jacob when blessing Ephraim and Manasseh saying, 'The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads.'Gen. 48:16 And furthermore, in Exodus XIV. 19. The Almighty is referred to and designated as 'The Angel of the Lord that went before the camps of Israel removed and went behind them.' Whether Israel acts uprightly or not, the Holy One is still its ruler and governor in order that it may not become subject to other nations, and that its good works may put them to shame. It may however be said, yet it is written, 'The adversary hath spread out his hand upon her pleasant things, for she hath seen the heathen entered into her sanctuary' (Lam. I. 10). If the Holy One governs Israel as stated, how was it that the heathen entered her sanctuary and destroyed it? Scripture itself gives the reason, as it is written, 'Thou hast done all these things (Jer. XIX. 22).Lam. 1:21 The Lord hath done that which he hath devised. He hath fulfilled what he proposed in days of yore (Lam. II. 19).Lam 2:17 From these words we conclude and affirm that notwithstanding the occurrence of all these calamities, the Holy One is still ruler of Israel and that only by his permission could they have happened. Observe, scripture states, 'And Alhim looked upon the earth, and behold, it was corrupt,' because the Schekina had deserted it, as we have said. Moreover it is stated, 'And God saw their works that they turned from their evil way' (Ion. III. 14).Jonah 3:10 The cry of the earth is always ascending heavenwards and desirous of union with the celestial world, enrobes itself with raiments of beauty and splendor, as doth a maiden expecting the arrival of her lover.
[paragraph continues] When its children are upright and virtuous, they become its ornaments. Far otherwise was it when the deluge came, for then they were vile and depraved and corrupted, so that the earth blushing with shame at their deeds of wickedness hid itself, as doth an unfaithful wife from her husband. When, however, they became brazen, openly lewd, obscene and sensual, then like an immodest courtesan casting aside her veil, it also became unclean and corrupted, as it is written 'The earth is defiled by the inhabitants thereof, because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant' (Is. XXIV. 5). Then corruption both moral and physical prevailed throughout the world, for all flesh had corrupted it's way upon the earth."61a-61b
Rabbi Eleazer was once on a visit to Rabbi Jose the son of Rabbi Simeon and grandson of Lakunya, who on beholding him spread a sumptuous couch on the floor in order to recline and rest himself. After engaging a while in silent meditation, his grandfather said: "Have you ever heard your father explain the meaning of the words, 'The Lord hath done that which he had devised. He hath fulfilled his word that he had commanded in the days of old?'"Lam 2:17
Said Rabbi Eleazar: "Initiated students have interpreted them thus, the words 'fulfilled his word' (bitza emratho) signify that God hath rent his purple robe of glory and light with which he had arrayed himself from the beginning of creation, and contributed to the beauty and perfection of his sanctuary."
Then asked his grandfather again: "Does a king think or devise punishment before his son has acted wickedly?"
To this Rabbi Eleazar replied; "A certain king possessed a most costly and precious vase. Fearing the loss of it, he caused it to be continually placed before him. At length his son came to visit him and on a dispute arising between them, the king in a moment of anger seized hold of the vase and dashed it to pieces on the ground. Such is the signification of the words; 'The Lord hath done what he had devised.' Observe, from the day the sanctuary was finished and completed, the Lord regarded it with continuous joy and delight, yet fearing that Israel would act wickedly, he determined it should be destroyed. Whilst Israel kept the good law and lived in obedience to its dictates, purely and uprightly, there was the sanctuary the glory of God on the earth, but when Israel fell with idolatry and forsook his worship it was destroyed. At its destruction then only did the Holy One
feel grief at the punishment of the guilty. On all other occasions it is a source of delight to him when the wicked through their misdeeds are swept out of the world, as it is written, 'When the wicked perish there is shouting.' (Prov. XI. 10). If, however, it be objected, we are taught that the Holy One never rejoices at the punishment of the evildoer observe that punishment is twofold in its character. There is the punishment of those who, despite the admonitions and long-suffering of God, continue in their wickedness. The suffering of these causes joy to the Holy One. There is also the punishment of those whose perversity in crime has not attained its climax. Far from being a source of joy to him, their suffering causes the Holy One to sorrow and grieve over them. There are wretches who are afflicted before their wickedness has reached its culmination, as it is written, 'For the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full' (Gen. XV. 16). If, again, it be asked, wherefore God chastises sometimes those whose iniquity is not full? We answer, evildoers whose bad deeds injure only themselves are punished only when the measure of their iniquity is filled, whilst the unrighteous who attach themselves to Israel with the object of afflicting and injuring it are punished before their evil intentions are realized. It is the chastisement of this class of evildoers that causes grief to the Holy One. Amongst such were the Egyptians that were drowned in the Red Sea, and the enemies of Israel in the time of Jehoshaphat It is written: 'For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth, forty days and forty nights, and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth'" (Gen. VII. 4).
Said Rabbi Jehuda: "Wherefore this limit of forty days and nights? It was because this number is always found in connection with the infliction of punishment, as it is written, 'Forty stripes he may give him and not exceed' (Deuter. XXV. 3). This number is fixed to correspond with the four cardinal quarters of the world, each of which is divided into ten parts or degrees as man was created to correspond with them in a manner, for the commission of crime he must not he beaten with more than forty stripes. For a like reason, this number forty was equally necessary in the punishment of the world."
Rabbi Isaac was sitting in presence of Rabbi Simeon, and in course of conversation asked the question: "What is the real meaning of the words, 'And the earth was corrupt before the Alhim.' Though man commit crime how can it affect the earth and make it corrupt?"
Rabbi Simeon replied: "Scripture informs us that the earth and all flesh upon it had together become corrupt. There is found another and similar expression or statement, 'And the land is defiled and therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it.' Now, if it be said, though men sinned, how could their crimes cause the earth to be corrupt, so that along with them it is subject to punishment? Observe that the sins of mankind that corrupt it are effaceable by repentance except that of self-defilement; and so scripture states, 'Though thou wash thee with nitre and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me saith the Lord God' (Jer. II. 22); and again, 'For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness, neither shall evil dwell with thee' (Ps. V. 5). Only by extraordinary penitence can this heinous sin be expiated, respecting which it is written, 'And Er the elder son of Judah was wicked before the Lord, and the Lord slew him'" (Gen. XXXVIII. 7), which verse has already been commented upon.
Again Rabbi Isaac questioned Rabbi Simeon: "Wherefore did God punish the antediluvians by a deluge of water rather than by fire or some other scourge?"
Rabbi Simeon replied: "Therein is involved a deep mystery. In indulging in the heinous sin of self pollution man impeded and prevented the union of the waters above with the waters below, or in other words, the male and female principles, and as therefore punished by a watery element; so that in their case the punishment fit the crime. Scripture states, 'All the foundations of the great deep were broken up and the windows of heaven were opened.' (Gen. VII. 4). The fountains of the great deep refer to the waters below, and the windows of heaven to the waters above."
Rabbi Hiya and Rabbi Jehuda when traveling, passed near some great and lofty mountains, in the gorges and fissures of which they observed bleached skeletons of the remains of men who had perished in the deluge. They measured two hundred feet as they extended on the rocks. Overcome with astonishment, they said: "Now we comprehend what the masters have told us, why the antediluvians feared not the divine punishment, as it is written. 'Therefore they say unto God, depart from us for we desire not the knowledge of thy ways (Job XXI. 14).' But their haughtiness and pride of strength availed them nothing, for they perished, swept off the face of the earth by the waters of the deluge."
"'And Noah begat three sons, Shem, Ham and Japhet'",62a-62b (Gen. VI. 10), said Rabbi Hiya to Rabbi Jehuda, "Come and I will make known unto thee what I have learned as to the occult meaning and sense of these words. The life of Noah was similar to a man entering into a cavern, from which after a certain time, come forth two or three sons, each of them different in character, habit and temperament, one being upright, one unjust, whilst the third is void of any special trait of disposition. The same peculiarity and distinction between individuals obtain alike in the three worlds. Observe when the soul descends from the celestial sphere or plane in heaven it becomes as it were entangled in mountain ravines, and meeting with its lower intellectual self, they take on the animal bodily life, and thus blended form one individual."
Said Rabbi Jehuda, "The mind and the lower nature depend the one on the other, but the spirit (the higher or real self) is independent of both of them. They are located or inhere in the physical organization, but not it, which as yet has never been discovered or seen by any individual. When a man leads a pure life, his higher self is present and aids him in his endeavors, and by its purifying and enlightening influence enables him to attain to and enter into the enjoyment of the higher life of peace and bliss unspeakable. If, however he is careless and unwilling to live the higher life, then though he may become intellectual. he can never become pure and one with the Divine. Furthermore, whose lives impurely depraves his nature, and by ignoring the dictates and admonitions of the spirit within him renders himself more and more receptive of and swayed by objects of sense in following the bent of his animal appetites and inclinations."
It is written, "And God said unto Noah, 'the end of all flesh is come before me'" (Gen. VI. 12). Said Rabbi Jehuda: "David says, 'make me to know mine end and the measure of my days, what it is, that I may know how frail I am.' From these words addressed unto the Holy One, we learn that there are two ends, one on the right hand, the other on the left, which man must choose to walk in during his life on earth. Of that on the right it is written, 'Go thou thy way until the end be, for thou shalt rest and stand in thy lot at the end of thy days' (Dan. XII. 13). Of that on the left it is said, 'He setteth an end to darkness and searcheth out all perfection, the stones of darkness and the shadow of death. He considereth the depth of all
things.' (Job XXVIII. 3.). When by affliction and suffering the stones buried in darkness become manifested and the shadow of death hovers over, then the end of darkness becomes visible, or in other words, the angel of death or the serpent. Thus 'the end of all flesh' has the same meaning as the words 'the end of darkness,' that is, the death angel or the serpent. 'He considereth the depth of all things' refers to the same being who, when62b-63a judgment falls upon the world, constitutes himself the satan or accurser of mankind and strives to disparage and blacken the characters of all creatures. With reference to the end on the right, the Holy One said to Daniel, 'Go thy way till the end come, for thou shalt rest.' Thereupon Daniel turned and said, 'In which world shall my rest be, in this or the world to come?' 'In this world,' replied the Holy One, "where rest is necessary, 'as it is written, 'He who walks in the right way shall rest in his bed' (Is. LVII. 2). Then asked Daniel again of the Holy One, 'Shall I be of the number of those who will rise again at the end of the world?' The Holy One replied 'Thou, shalt rise.' Said Daniel then 'I know that amongst these who shall rise, there will be upright and just men who during their lives on earth walked in the path of truth, and others there will be who have done wickedly, but as yet I know not amongst which I shall rise again.' Said the Holy One, 'In thy lot or state in which thou diest.' Again Daniel spake and said, "Thou sayest unto me, 'Go thou thy way to the end (lekh lecetz). There is an end on the right and an end on the left, which of these meanest thou?'" 'The end on the right,' answered the Holy One. David also said unto the Lord, 'Make me to know my end,' and found no rest until he knew which it would be, and it was said unto him, 'Sit thou on my right hand.'Ps. 110:1 Observe, the Holy One also spake unto Noah, 'The end of all flesh has come before me.' What does the word 'end' here mean? It is that which causes the faces of all creatures to become pale and darkened. Hence we learn that the worldly minded and impious attract to themselves this end or state that causes the hue and complexion of their visages to become dark and gloomy. This unknown something or terror called 'the end' does not seize hold of anyone except by permission from on high. When God spake to Noah, it was present before him, waiting for his word of authority to seize hold of the antediluvians, and then he added, 'I will destroy them with the earth,' at the same time saying unto Noah 'Make thee an ark of gopher wood,' in order to protect himself and ward off the attack
of the death angel that he may have no power over him. Observe, we have heard that when death invades a city or enters into the world abroad, a man should not walk in the public streets and thoroughfares if he wishes to avoid the death angel, who then has the power to afflict and destroy anyone whom he meets and encounters. Therefore, was it the Holy One said unto Noah, 'Thou must conceal thyself within the ark and so avoid meeting the destroying angel and thus be secure from his lethal power.' If it be said, there was no such being existing at the time of the deluge whose waters caused the destruction of the human race, observe that no judgment has ever overwhelmed the world but what this malefic angel has been present to inflict it. At the time of the Flood, he was present in the water which was an instrument used by him, and so God warned Noah and counselled him to avoid his presence by building and entering into the ark. But if it be furthermore asked, what advantage could accrue to the patriarch by so doing? How could that prevent the entrance into it of the destroyer? Our reply is, that he has no power over anyone so long as he keeps himself out of his sight. We gather this from what happened to the Egyptians, since God commanded, 'Let none of you go out of the door of his house until the morning.' (Ex. XII. 22). What was the reason of this prohibition? That he might avoid meeting the destroying angel who had the power of inflicting death. Therefore was Noah admonished to include and hide himself in the ark and thus escape destruction."
Rabbi Hiya and Rabbi Jose, whilst traveling in Armenia, and passing by some great and lofty mountains, observed in them vast gorges and deep ravines resulting from the action of the waters of the deluge. Said Rabbi Hiya. "These have existed from the time of the flood and, by the will of the Holy One,63a will endure unto the end of the world as tokens or reminders of the great wickedness of the antediluvians, even as it is his will that by their good deeds, the memory of the righteous should abide before him and never be effaced. And even with those who delight not in his service, their evil works are transmitted and become manifested throughout all generations, as it is written, 'Though thou wash thyself with nitre and take thee much soap, yet thine iniquity is marked before me, saith the Lord God '" (Jer. II. 22).
Said Rabbi Jose "We read, 'Lift up thy voice, Oh daughter of Gallim, cause it to be heard unto Laish, Oh! poor Anathoth'
[paragraph continues] (Is. X. 30). These words already explained apply really to the congregation of Israel. The daughter of Gallim besides designating the daughter of Abraham our father, refers also to Israel who in another part of scripture is termed 'a closed fountain:' The term 'Gallim' also signifies rivers, which all flow towards the garden they fill and irrigate, as it is written, 'Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates with pleasant fruits' (Cant. IV. 13), cause it to be heard at Laish has the same meaning as 'the lion (laich) perisheth from lack of prey' (Job. IV. 12). Laish denotes the male and laishah the female. Wherefore so, is it because scripture states, 'The lion is strongest amongst beasts and fearless of any it meets' (Prov. XXX. 30) or 'The lion is dead through lack of prey.' The true interpretation is in the word laish, an occult term of that mundane virtue which emanating from on high manifests itself on the earth plane. When the affluents of the celestial virtue cease descending and are no longer transformed into the lower mundane power, 'laish' then takes the name of 'laishah'; that is, it manifests itself as female. The words 'aniah anathoth (oh, poor anathoth) signify the same as those (in Jer. I. 1), namely 'Jeremiah, son of Hilhiah, of the priests who lived in poverty (ba-anathoth), and also those I Kings II. 26'. And unto Abiathiar, the priest, said the king, 'get thee to Anathoth, or, rather, live thou in poverty in thine own fields; the signification of which words is as63a-63b follows: During the life of David Abiathar lived in wealth and opulence, but after David's decease Solomon condemned him to live in poverty on his own laud or property."