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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at

I will now add here the description of the formation of a child by these three agencies, as it is contained in the book called ### (Yeṣirath ha-velad), which is as follows:


IX. (1) I will now proceed to explain the formation of the fœtus which God created when man approaches his wife. God indicates it to the angel appointed over conception, whose name is Lailah. God says, 'Know that this night a woman will conceive. Take this sperm, place it in thy hand, and break it on the threshing-floor into three hundred and sixty-five particles.' He does so. He then takes the sperm in his hand, brings it to God, and says, 'O Lord of the world, I have done as Thou hast commanded me, and now decree what is to become of it.' God then decrees that it will be either strong or weak, male or female, rich or poor, beautiful or ugly, long or short, wicked or righteous. (2) God then makes a sign to the angel appointed over spirits, and says, 'Bring me a certain spirit which is hidden in the Garden of Eden, whose name is So-and-so, and whose form is So-and-so.' This applies to all the spirits which are destined to be created, for from the very moment when the world was created all (these spirits) were prepared for men, as it is said, 'What has

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already been has been called by name.' The angel brings the (said) spirit, which, when it comes before God, bows down and prostrates itself before Him. (3) At that moment God says to the spirit, 'Enter thou this sperm.' The spirit then opens its mouth, and says, 'O Lord of the universe, I am satisfied with the world in which I have lived from the day on which Thou didst create me; if it please Thee, do not suffer me to enter this impure being, for I am holy and pure.' God replies, 'The world which I will cause thee to enter is better than the world in which thou hast lived; and when I created thee, I created thee only for this purpose.' (4) God then causes it to enter this new being against its will. The angel then returns and causes it to enter the womb of its mother. Two angels are prepared to watch the embryo (during pregnancy). A light shines upon the head of the child, by which it sees from one end of the world to the other. (5) In the morning the angel takes it, carries it into the Garden of Eden and shows it the righteous men who sit there in glory with crowns on their heads. The angel then says to the soul, 'My child, dost thou know who these are?' 'No,' it replies. The angel then says, 'These people whom thou seest here were formed like thee in the womb of their mother. They went forth into the world and observed God's statutes, therefore they became worthy of this bliss. Know also that thou wilt at the end of thy days depart from the world. and if thou wilt be thought worthy to hearken unto the Law and the Commandments then thou wilt be likewise worthy of sitting with these in the place where I showed thee.'

(6) In the evening he carries it into Gehinnom, and shows it the sinners, whom the wicked angels beat with fiery staves. They cry 'Woe, woe!' but no mercy is shown them. The angel then says to the soul, 'Dost thou know, my child, who these are that burn?' 'No,' it replies. The angel answers, 'These were of the same mean origin as thou art. They went forth to the world and did not observe the commandments and judgments of God. Therefore they have come to this place of punishment. Know also, child,

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that thou must ultimately quit this world.' (7) The angel walks about with it from morning until evening, and shows it every place which it is destined to tread, and the place where it will be buried. After this he shows it the world of the good and the world of the wicked, and in the evening he places it back again in the womb of its mother. God then encloses it within folded doors, as it is said, 'And He shut in the sea with doors, until it burst forth from the womb and became free.' It is further said, 'I will lay My words in thy mouth, and I will protect thee in the shadow of My hand.' God then said, 'Thus far shalt thou go, and no further;' and He sustains the child in the womb of its mother for nine months.

(8) At the end of that time the same angel comes and says to it, 'Come forth, for the time has come for thee to go forth into the world.' It replies, 'Have I not already told God that I am satisfied to remain in the place where I was accustomed to dwell? And He replied, "The place I will cause thee to enter is better than that world from which thou hast come." Now that it pleases me to remain here, why dost thou wish to remove me hence?' The angel replies, 'Thou must know that thou wast formed in the womb of thy mother against thy will, and now know that against thy will thou wilt be born, and wilt come forth into the world.' He then immediately strikes it, extinguishes the light, and brings it forth against its will. It then forgets whatever it had seen. As soon as it comes forth unto the world, it cries.

(9) And why does it cry? Because of the world it has left behind. For at that moment seven new worlds are awaiting it. In the first world it is like unto a king after whose welfare all people ask; all desire to see it and embrace it, and kiss it, because it is in the first year. In the second world it is like unto a swine which wallows in mire; a child does the same until it reaches two years. In the third world it is like unto a kid that skips and gambols about on the meadows. Thus, a child skips about here and there until it is five years of age. In the fourth world it is like unto a horse which strides along haughtily.

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[paragraph continues] In the same way does a child walk along proud of his youth until he is eighteen years old. In the fifth world he is like unto an ass upon whose shoulders burdens are placed. In the same manner burdens are heaped upon man's shoulders; he is given a wife by whom he begets children. He must wander to and fro in order to obtain food for them until he is about forty years old. In the sixth stage he is like unto a dog, insolent and wandering about in all places for food: stealing and robbing in one place and enjoying it in another. In the seventh stage he is like unto an ape, whose appearance is changed in every respect. All the household curse him and desire his death. Even the young children make fun of him, and even the smallest bird wakes him from his sleep. (10) Finally, the time arrives for him to quit this world. When that time arrives the same angel comes beside him and says to him, What is thy name?' To which he replies 'So-and-so, and Why dost thou come to me to-day?' 'To take thee away from this world.' When he hears this he weeps, and his voice reaches from one end of the world to the other, but no creature hears his voice except the cock. 'Have I not already told thee,' he says, 'not to bring me forth from the world in which I have lived?' But the angel replies, 'Have I not already told thee that against thy will thou wast created, against thy will thou wast born, against thy will thou livest, and against thy will thou shalt die, also against thy will thou art bound to render account and reckoning before Him who said, and the world was made?'

(11) Behold, these are the four Divine hosts which God showed to Elijah the prophet, as it is said, 'And He said, Go out and stand upon the mountain before God.' God then said to Elijah, 'Behold, these are the four worlds through which man must pass. The great and strong wind is this world. After the wind comes the earthquake, i.e., after this world comes death, which causes the whole body of man to quake. After the earthquake comes the fire, i.e., after death there follows the judgment of Gehinnom,

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which is fire, and after the judgment of Gehinnom there follows a voice, as it is said, 'A still, soft voice,' which is the voice of the last judgment. After this follows the judgment of the spirits that flit about in the air, and no one is left except God, as it is said, 'God alone shall be exalted on that day.' All this is included in the words of holy tradition spoken by David, king of Israel, who said, 'I was made in secret, I was formed in the nethermost parts of the earth.'

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