Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster , at sacred-texts.com
XX. (1) There are nine palaces in the Garden of Eden, and all of them consist of well-built houses with upper chambers, and the length of the houses is sixty myriads of miles. Each one of them is presided over by sixty myriads of ministering angels, and in each of these houses there are well-arranged canopies made of species of rose and myrtle trees. Every pious man has his place allotted to him according to his deeds, and to their appointed places the ministering angels lead them. There the angels of mercy dance and sing praises before him, as it is mentioned above. (2) In the midst of the Garden of Eden there are sixty myriads of species of trees, the fruit of which the pupils of the sages eat. There the light of the righteous is as the light of the sun, and sixty myriads of ministering angels attend them and feed them, while sixty myriads of angels of mercy sing and dance before them, and they bring spiced wine and the juice- of the pomegranates, which they drink with delight. (3) P. Joshua ben Levi said, 'I saw in the Garden of Eden ten companies and (well) built houses, each one of which was twelve myriads of miles in length, one hundred and ten myriads of miles in breadth, and one hundred myriads of miles in height. (4) The first house was opposite the first entrance of the Garden of Eden, wherein there dwelt those proselytes who had converted themselves (to the Jewish religion) from love. The beams thereof were of white glass, and the walls thereof of cedar-wood. When I went to measure it, all the proselytes stood up and tried to prevent me, when Obadiah immediately rose and said to
them, "Happy would ye be if you should be deemed worthy to dwell with such a righteous man." They thereupon allowed me to measure it. (5) The second house, corresponding with the second gate, is built of silver and its walls of cedar; therein do the penitent dwell, presided over by Manasseh. (6) The third house is built of gold and silver, wherein are to be found all the good things of heaven and earth, and wherein every kind of food and drink is arranged. In this house Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dwell, as well as those who died in the wilderness—the generation of the wilderness, all the sons of Jacob, and the twelve tribes, with Moses and Aaron presiding over all of them. There also are David and Solomon and Caleb, who is alive, and every generation except those of Absalom and Korah. (7) I saw there precious stones, beds of gold and of precious stones, and couches and prepared lights. David exclaimed, "These are prepared for my children, who dwell in the world from which I have come." I then said to him, "Are not all the Israelites here?" At this our ancestor Jacob interposed and said, "All Israel are my children, and they are not like the other nations of the world, nor are they like the children of Abraham, my (grand)father, nor like the children of Esau, my brother; for whosoever of these performs good deeds in the world from which thou comest is rewarded there, and afterwards descends to Gehinnom; but my children, even the wicked among them, though they are punished, it is only during their lifetime, but after death they inherit the Garden of Eden." (8) The fourth house is built corresponding to the first man (Adam): its walls are of olive-wood, and those who dwell there are those who, though they have been punished in this world, have not rebelled against Providence. Why is this house built of olive-wood? Because their life had been bitter to them as olive-wood. (9) The fifth house is built of onyx stones and of precious stones. Its walls are of gold, and of fine gold, and it is perfumed with balsam. Thence the river Gihon flows forth and illumines the upper world; a fragrance breathes through it, which is
more exquisite than the perfume of Lebanon. There are couches of gold and silver, covered with blue, purple, and vermilion covers woven together. In this place dwells the Messiah, the son of David and Elijah the Tishbite, and there is a palanquin of the wood of Lebanon, which Moses made in the wilderness [i.e., the Tabernacle], covered (overlaid) with silver. Its floor is of gold and its seat of purple, and in the midst of this palanquin sits the Messiah, the son of David, the beloved one of the daughters of Jerusalem. Elijah takes him by his head, and placing him in his bosom, holds him and says, "Bear the judgment, O my master, for the end is near." (10) And every Monday and Thursday and every Sabbath and holy-day the patriarchs and the pious and the tribes, Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon, and all the kings of the house of David, come to him, and, weeping, take hold of him and say, "Oh, bear thou the judgment of thy Master, for the end is near." Korah and his company and Absalom come also to him every Thursday, and ask, "When is the end to come? When wilt thou return and bring us to life?" To which he replies, "Go ye to your ancestors and ask them." They are then abashed, and do not go to ask them. When I came before the Messiah, the son of David, he asked and said, "What are my children doing in the captivity?" And I answered, "Every day they await thee in their captivity among the nations of the world, which oppress them." He then lifted up his voice and wept.