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p. 19



   IN the eastern part of the earth, on the mountain of Eden, beyond the ocean, God planted Paradise, and adorned it with fruit-bearing trees of all kinds, that it might be a dwelling-place for Adam and his progeny, if they should keep His commandments. He made to spring forth from it a great river, which was parted into four heads6, to water Paradise and the whole earth. The first river is Pîshôn, which compasseth the land of Havîlâ, where there is gold and beryls and fair and precious p. 20 stones. The second river is Gihôn, that is, the Nile of Egypt. The third river is Deklath (the Tigris), which travels through the land of Assyria and Bêth-Zabdai1. The fourth river is Perath (the Euphrates), which flows through the middle of the earth. Some teachers say that Paradise surrounds the whole earth like a wall and a hedge beyond the ocean. Others say that it was placed upon the mount of Eden, higher than every other mountain in the world by fifteen cubits2. Others say that it was placed between heaven and earth, below the firmament and above this earth, and that God placed it there as a boundary for Adam between heaven and earth, so that, if he kept His commands, He might lift him up to heaven, but if he transgressed them, He might cast him down to this earth. And as the land of heaven is better and more excellent than the land of Paradise, so was the land of Paradise better and more glorious and more excellent (than our earth); its trees were more beautiful, its flowers more odoriferous, and its atmosphere more pure than ours, through superiority of species and not by nature. God made Paradise large enough to be the dwelling-place of Adam and of his posterity, provided that they kept the divine commandments. Now it is the dwelling-place of the souls of the righteous, and its keepers are Enoch and Elijah; Elijah the unwedded, and Enoch the married man: that the unwedded may not exalt themselves above the married, as if, forsooth, Paradise were suitable for the unwedded only. The souls of sinners are without Paradise, in a deep place called Eden. After the resurrection, the souls of the righteous and the sinners will put on their bodies. The righteous will enter into heaven, which will become the land of the righteous; while the sinners will remain upon earth. The tree of good and evil that was in Paradise did not by nature possess these properties of good and evil like rational beings, but only through the deed which was wrought by its means; like the 'well of contention3,' and the 'heap p. 21 of witness1,' which did not possess these properties naturally, but only through the deeds which were wrought by their means. Adam and Eve were not stripped of the glory with which they were clothed, nor did they die the death of sin, because they desired and ate of the fruit of the fig-tree--for the fruit of the fig-tree was not better than the fruit of any other tree--but because of the transgression of the law, in that they were presumptuous and wished to become gods. On account of this foolish and wicked and blasphemous intention, chastisement and penalty overtook them.--Concerning the tree of life which was planted in the middle of Paradise, some have said that Paradise is the mind, that the tree of good and evil is the knowledge of material things, and that the tree of life is the knowledge of divine things, which were not profitable to the simple understanding of Adam2. Others have said that the tree of life is the kingdom of heaven and the joy of the world to come; and others that the tree of life was a tree in very truth, which was set in the middle of Paradise, but no man has ever found out what its fruit or its flowers or its nature was like3.



p. 19

5 Chap. xvi in the Oxford MS.

6 Gen. ii. 9-17.

p. 20

1 Or Bâ-Zabdâ, a district on the western or right bank of the Tigris, adjacent to Jazîrat Ibn `Omar.

2 Add. 25,875, fol. 6 a, col. 1, and see Bezold, Die Schatzhöhle, p. 5.

3 Gen. xxvi. 20.

p. 21

1 Gen. xxxi. 47. i

2 'The tree of Life pre-figured the Cross of the Saviour, and it was this that was fixed in the middle of the earth.' Bezold, Die Schatzhöhle, p. 5; Brit. Mus. Add. 25,875, fol. 6 b, col. 1.

3 The Rabbis thought that it was either the date-palm, the vine, the ethrôg ('citron-tree'), or the fig-tree. Midrash Rabbâh on Gen. ii. 9, 10; Wünsche, p. 69.