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268. A Human's Cosmic Status
1 LORD, our Lord, how great is your name in all the earth!
You, whose glory is chanted above the heavens...
3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers---
the moon and the stars which you have arranged---(I ask:)
4 --"What is a human [enosh] that you remember him?
and a son of Man [ben Adam] that you commission [phaqad] him?"
5 For you have made him a little less than God [Elohim]
and you crown him with glory and honor.
6 You have given him dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under his feet...
  --- Hebrew Bible, Psalm 8:1-6

269. The Last Judgment
9 While I was watching thrones were set up
and one of ancient days sat down.
His garment (was) white as snow
and the hair of his head pure as wool;
his throne, flames of fire; its wheels, blazing fire.
10 A river of fire gushed and streamed out from in font of him.
Thousands upon thousands served him;
and ten thousands upon ten thousands attended him.
The court was seated and the books were opened...
13 I was watching in (my) night vision
and I saw one like a son of Man [bar enash]
coming with the clouds of heaven.
And he came to the one of ancient days
and was presented before him.
14 And to him was given dominion and glory and kingship.
And all peoples, nations and languages serve him.
His dominion is an eternal [olam] dominion that shall not pass away;
and his kingship [malkuth] one that shall not be destroyed.
  --- Hebrew Bible, Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

270. The Ultimate Champion
1 And after seven days it happened that at night I saw a vision (Dan 7:13a)
2 and behold a wind [ruha] arose from the sea stirring up all its waves.
3 And I looked and, behold, that wind raised up from the heart of the sea one like a son of Man [bar nasha] (Dan 7:13c).  And I looked and, behold, that son of man was flying with the clouds of heaven (Dan 7:13b).  And whenever he turned his face to look and see, all that he saw before him trembled.
4 And whenever his voice went out from his mouth, all those who heard his voice melted as wax melts when it contacts fire.
5 And after this I looked, and see, from the four winds of heaven there gathered a numberless amount of men to war against the son of man who ascended from the sea...
10 But I saw how he emitted from his mouth, as it were, a wave of fire
and from his lips a breath of flame (cf. Is 66:15f)
and from his tongue he cast coals of windstorm (cf. Ezek 1:4,13)...
11 And it fell on the approaching assault of the multitude prepared to fight and ignited them all so suddenly that nothing was to be seen of that numberless mob except the dust of ashes and the smell of smoke.
12 And after this I saw that son of man descend from the mountain and summon to himself another multitude in peace (cf. Isa 11:9).
  --- Apocrypha, 2 Esdras 13:1-5, 10-12

271. Enoch's Vision
1 And there I saw one who was the Head of days
and his head was like wool (Dan 7:9);
and there was another with him, like a human in appearance;
and his face was full of grace, like one of the holy angels.
2 I asked the angel who accompanied me
and showed me all the hidden things:
"Who is this son of Man [zeku walda sab'e] and where is he from?
And why does he go with the Head of days?"
3 And he answered and said to me:
"This is that son of man who is just and with whom justice dwells.
He reveals all the treasures of what is hidden because the Lord of spirits has chosen him; and before the Lord of spirits his lot is first in justice for ever.
4 This son of Adam whom you have seen shall raise up the kings
and the powerful from their seats...
and loosen the reins of the strong and break the teeth if sinners...
5 For they do not extol and praise him
nor humbly acknowledge the one by whom they were given their kingship."
  --- Pseudepigrapha, 1 Enoch 46:1-5

272. Ascension of Enoch
1 After this my spirit was transported and it ascended to the heavens;
and I saw the holy sons of God standing in flames of fire,
with garments of white and faces glistening like snow...
8 ...And from that house came forth
9 Michael and Gabriel, Raphael and Phanuel
and many holy angels without number.
10 And with them was the Head of days
whose head is white and pure as wool
and who is arrayed beyond description.
11 I fell on my face and my whole body went limp;
and my spirit was transformed.
With a loud voice I cried out and with the Spirit of Power I blessed;
I glorified and I praised him...
14 [An angel] came to me and with his voice greeted and told me:
--"You are a son of Man [walda be'esi] born for justice
and justice dwells with you;
the justice of the Head of days does not leave you."
15 And he said to me:
--"To you he proclaims peace in the name of the world to come...
and for you so shall it be for ever and ever.
16 And all shall walk in your ways for justice never forsakes you.
With you shall be their dwelling and with you their inheritance.
And they shall not be taken from you forever and ever and ever.
17 So there shall be length of days for that son of Adam [walda sab'e],
and peace for the upright;
his way is Righteous for the upright in the name of the Lord of spirits
for ever and ever.
  --- Pseudepigrapha, 1 Enoch 71:1, 8-11, 14-17

273. Revelation of the Primal Human
7 A son of (Wo)man [walda 'egula-'emma heyyaw] was hidden
in the beginning and the Most High kept him in the presence of his might
and revealed him to the chosen.
8 And the congregation of the chosen and holy shall be sown
and on that day all the chosen shall stand before him.
9 All the kings and the mighty and the lofty and the rulers of the earth
shall fall down on their faces before him
and worship and set their hope on that son of (Wo)man
and pray to him and beg for mercy at his (feet?).
  --- Pseudepigrapha, 1 Enoch 62:7-9

274. The First Scribe
17 And (Enoch) was the first among men that are born on earth
who learn writing and knowledge and wisdom
and who wrote down the signs of heaven
in the order of the various months.
18 And he was the first to write a testament
and he testified to the sons of men among the earth's generations
and recounted the weeks of the Jubilees
and made known to them the days of the years
and set the months in order and counted the years' Sabbaths,
as we made (them) known to him.
19 And in a vision of his sleep, he saw what was and what will be
as it will happen to the children of men throughout their generations
until the day of Judgment.
He saw and understood everything and wrote his testament;
and he placed the testament on earth
for all the children of men and for (succeeding) generations...
23 And he was taken from among the children of men
and we led him with majesty and honor into the Garden of Eden.
And, see, there he records the condemnation and judgment of the world
and all the wickedness of the children of men.
  --- Pseudepigrapha, Jubilees 4:17-19, 23

275. Enoch Taken by God
24 And Enoch departed and served in truth before the Lord;
and see, he was not
with the inhabitants of earth.
For he was taken and lifted up to heaven by the Word of the Lord.
And he was called by the name "Metatron",* the great scribe.
  --- Targum, pseudo-Jonathan on Gen 5:24
* "Metatron": Hebrew transliteration of Greek, meta tronos ["(the one) beside (the) throne"].

276. Enoch Enthroned
  [YHWH said:]
"[A] I grasped him,
[L] I took him (cf. Gen 5:24),
[Ph] I commissioned him [phaqad; cf. Ps 8:4].*
-- Enoch ben Jared, that is, whose name is Metatron.
And I lifted him up from the sons of Man [benei Adam];
and I made him a throne corresponding to my Throne.
-- And what is the size of that throne?
Seventy thousand parasangs of fire!**
I gave him seventy angels
-- corresponding to the nations;
and I put him in charge [phaqad] of every family (cf. Ps 8:4)
-- whether above or below.
And I gave him wisdom and understanding
-- more than all the angels.
And I called his name "Yah qatan" [lit: "little Yah(weh)"]
-- a name which, by gematria, is 71.***
And for him I ordered all the work of creation;
and for him I made power more than all the ministering angels."
  --- proto-Kabbala, Ma'aseh Bereshith (appendix)
* The first three words in Hebrew are an acrostic on the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet [aleph], which Jewish mystics regarded as the source of all creation.
** Hebrew parsaoth = Persian parasang: approximately 3 miles (5 km). Italicized text identifies rabbinic midrash on an earlier text about the exaltation of Enoch.
*** gematria: the scribal practice of calculating the numerical value of letters in a word to discover a mystical symbolic meaning.

277. Transformation of Enoch
1 The Holy One, blessed be he!, said:
"[A] I confirmed him,*
  [L] I took him (cf. Gen 5:24),
  [Ph] I commissioned him (cf. Ps 8:4)
to be Metatron the Servant ['ebed],
first [aleph] of all the sons of heaven...
2 And I took Enoch ben Jared from among them;
and with the sound of a trumpet and a shout
I lifted him up to heaven [shamayim] on high**
to be for me a witness for the world to come
together with the living (creatures) on the Chariot [merkabah; cf. Ezek 1].
3 I set him over all the storehouses and treasuries
which are mine in every heaven [raqi'a].**
And into his hand I delivered the keys of each one.
4 And I made him Prince over all the princes,
attendant to the Throne of Glory
and to the palaces of heaven ['araboth]** -- to open doors for me;
to the Throne of Glory -- to exalt and set it in order...
in preparation for me to sit in session of the Throne of Glory
and to honor and magnify my glory in the height of my power.
5 I made him high over all
with the (knowledge of) secrets above and below.
The height of his stature I lifted seventy thousand parasangs.***
I magnified his throne from the majesty of my throne;
and I increased his glory from the honor of my Glory.
6 I transformed his flesh into torches of fire
and all the bones of his body into coals of fire.
His eyes appeared like a flash of lightning
and the splendor of his lashes like unfailing light.
I made his face shine like the brilliance of the sun
and his eyes like the brilliance of the Throne of Glory (cf. Ezek 1).
7 I made his garment honor and majesty
and the cloak covering him kingdom and glory;
his diadem, a crown of kingdom of 500 times 500 hundred parasangs.***
Upon him I placed some of my honor and some of my majesty
and some of my radiant glory which is upon the Throne of Glory.
And I called him the Lesser LORD [YHWH ha qatan; lit:'Yahweh the less']
the Prince of the Presence [lit: 'Face'] and the Knower of Secrets.
And like a Father I revealed all to him;
and every mystery I let him know with sureness.
8 I established his throne at the door of my palace
to prepare judgment over all the household of heaven...
9 Seventy princes I put under him (for him) to instruct them
in every language the words I commanded:
by his word, to humble the proud to the ground;
and by the utterance of his mouth, to raise the lowly to the heights;
to strike with his words to turn kings from their ways
and to establish rulers over their domains,
as it is said:
--"and he alters the times and seasons" (Dan 2:21a);
to give wisdom to all the sages of the world,
understanding and knowledge to those who understand knowledge,
as it is said:
--"and knowledge to those who know understanding" (Dan 2:21b)
to reveal to them the secrets of my Word
and to teach them the decrees of my just judgment,
as it is said:
--"So shall be my word, which goes forth from my mouth:
he shall not return to me empty but he shall act"
(Isa 55:11).
10 He does not say here: "I shall act" [e'eseh]
but rather: "He shall act" ['asah]!
This means that Metatron arises and enacts every word
and every whisper that goes forth from before the Holy One, blessed be he!;
and it is he who established the commandments of the Holy One, blessed be he!
  --- proto-Kabbala, 3 Enoch 48c
* Boldface indicates wording found in the appendix to Ma'aseh Bereshith [see pericope 265 above].
** Hebrew tradition contains many names for the celestial regions which were eventually systematized by the rabbis into a cosmology consisting of seven heavens: i.e., shamayim ["heaven"], sheme shamayim ["heaven of heavens"], raqi'a ["firmament"], shechaqim ["granules"], ma'on ["foundation"], zebul ["sanctuary"], and 'araphel ["cloud"] (cf. Midrash Debarim Rabba 2.32). Variations occur (cf. Babylonian Talmud, Hagiga 12b) and in early texts the technical distinction is not clearly intended.
*** Hebrew parsaoth = Persian parasang: approximately 3 miles (5 km).

278. Esoteric Speculation Restricted
1 Do not comment [darash] on sexual matters with three (present),
nor on the Work of Creation [Ma'aseh Bereshith = Gen 1] with two,
nor on the Chariot [Merkabah = Ezek 1] with one,
unless he is a sage [hakham] and contemplates what he knows.
But the sectarians [minim] and the informers and the scoffers --
those who reject the Torah and deny the resurrection of the dead,
If anyone speculates on four things --
what is above and what is beneath,
what is before and what after --
he would be better off had he not come into the world!
And if anyone has no concern for the glory of his Master,
he would be better off had he not come into the world!
  --- Mishna, cHagigah 2.1

279. Proper Interpretation
  Our rabbis taught:
It happened once that Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai was going on a road;
he was riding on an ass with Rabbi Eleazar ben 'Arak behind him driving.
(Eleazar) said to him:
-- "Rabbi, teach me the first chapter on the Work of the Chariot [= Ezek 1]!
(Johanan) said to him:
-- "Have I not taught you thus:
"...nor on the Chariot with one
unless he is a sage and contemplates what he knows"
[cf. 273 above]?"
(Eleazar) said to him:
--"Master, let me speak in your presence one word which you taught me."
He said:
--"Speak!"
Immediately Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai got off his ass.
He wrapped himself (in his tallith) and sat down on the stone
beneath the olive tree.
(Rabbi Eleazar) said to him:
--"Master, why did you get off the ass?"
(Rabban Johanan) said:
--"Is it fitting that you comment on the Work of the Chariot
and I ride on the ass --
when the Presence [Shekinah] is with us
and ministering angels accompany us?
Immediately Rabbi Eleazar ben 'Arak began (to comment)
on the Work of the Chariot
and as he commented fire descended from heaven
and it surrounded all the trees in the field
and they all opened up and uttered a song...
An angel responded from the fire and said:
--"Here indeed is the Work of the Chariot!"
Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai stood up;
he kissed (Rabbi Eleazar) on the head and said:
--"Blessed be the LORD God of Israel
who has given to our father Abraham a son
who knows how to distinguish [bin] and how to unite [qor]
and how to comment on the Work of the Chariot.
There are (some) who interpret properly and do not decree properly,
(and) some who decree and (yet) do not interpret properly;
(but) you interpret properly and decree properly.
Happy are you Abraham our father
that Eleazar ben 'Arak has come from your loins!
Now, when these words were told to Rabbi Joshua (ben cHanania),
you see, he and Rabbi Josť the Priest were walking by the way.
Rabbi Joshua opened up and commented.
Now this very day was the summer solstice [lit: "turning of Tammuz"],
(but) the heavens were covered with clouds;
and in the clouds there appeared a sort of rainbow
and the ministering angels gathered and came to hear,
like the sons of man [benei Adam] who gather
and come to gaze on the festivities of a bridegroom and a bride.
Rabbi Jose the Priest went
and recounted these things to Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai, who said:
--"Happy are you and happy are those who bore you!
Happy are my eyes which have seen this!
And in my dream you and I were reclining on Mount Sinai;
and there was given to us an echoing voice [bath qol] from heaven:
--'Ascend here! Ascend here!'
Great banquet halls and fine couches are prepared for you!
You will feast with the third party,
you and your disciples and the disciples of your disciples!'"
  --- Babylonian Talmud, cHagigah 14b

280. Dangers of Speculation
  Our rabbis taught:
Four (men) entered into the Garden [Pardes]*--
(Simeon) ben 'Azzai and (Simeon) ben Zoma,
the apostate [acher]** and Rabbi Aqiba.
Rabbi Aqiba said to them:
-- "When you arrive at the stones of pure marble, do not say:
-- 'Water! Water!'
For it is said:
-- "He who tells lies shall not stand before my eyes" (Ps 101.7b).
(Simeon) ben 'Azzai looked and died;
of him scripture says:
-- "Precious in the eyes of the LORD is the death of his saints" (Ps 116:15)
(Simeon) ben Zoma looked and was stricken (insane);
of him scripture says:
-- "Have you found honey? Eat only what you can hold,
lest you be stuffed with it and spit it out"
(Prov 25:16).
The apostate** cut down his own offspring [lit.: "shoots"].
Rabbi Aqiba departed in peace.
  --- Babylonian Talmud, cHagigah 14b
* Pardes: a standard rabbinic term for esoteric exegesis leading to mystical insights. Later texts explain the connection by way of notarikon -- i.e., viewing the Hebrew letters in the word "Garden" (PRDS) as an acronym for four levels of interpretation: Peshat (a literal deduction), Remes (an allusive hint), Derush (interpretation uniting material from many passages), and Sod ("secret": a hidden connection).
** Acher [lit.: "another"]; rabbinic epithet for Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah after his apostasy.

281. Aqiba's Ascent
  Rabbi Aqiba ascended in peace and descended in peace;
of him scripture says:
-- "Draw me after you, we will listen!" (Song 1:4).
The ministering angels sought to oppose Rabbi Aqiba too.
But the Holy One, blessed be he!, said to them:
--"Let this elder be! He is worthy to wait upon my Glory [kabod]!"
  --- Babylonian Talmud, cHagigah 15b

282. Elisha ben Abuyah's Apostasy
  The apostate* cut down his own offspring [cf. pericope 280 above].
Of him scripture says:
-- "Do not let your mouth make your flesh sin" (Eccles 5:5)
What is this about?
He saw that Metatron happened to be granted authority to sit
to record the merits of Israel;
and he said:
-- "It is a tradition that on high there is no sitting and no strife,
no division and no toil.
(So) perhaps there are two supreme Powers.**
Heaven forbid!
Then they brought him to Metatron
and they smote him with sixty bands of fire.
They said to him [Elisha ben Abuyah]:***
-- "When you saw him [Metatron], why did you not stand up before him?
Then authority was granted (Metatron)
to erase the merits of the apostate.
An echoing voice [bath qol] went forth and said:
-- "Return you turncoat sons! (Jer 3:22) except for this apostate.
  --- Babylonian Talmud, cHagigah 15a
* Acher [lit.: "another"]; rabbinic epithet for Rabbi Elisha ben Abuyah after his apostasy.
** The reference to two thrones in heaven in Dan 7:9 and other texts led to the rabbinic "Two Powers controversy" by the beginning of the 2nd century CE. Later rabbis traced this controversy to Elisha ben Abuyah's speculation.
*** Some scholars present a reverse identification of the subjects intended by pronouns in this sentence, interpreting this as a reference to a disciplining and demotion of Metatron for not standing up when Elisha came into his presence. The rest of the text, however, presupposes that Metatron remained the eternal scribe who recorded the merits and sins of humans. The fact that Elisha's merits were reported erased as a result of this vision indicates that the criticism was directed to him rather than Metatron. This anecdote implies that when Elisha concluded that the vision of Metatron enthroned meant that the latter was a supreme Power, he prostrated himself in worship before him, a gesture forbidden before anyone but YHWH himself [see pericope 283 below].

283. Replying to Heretics
  Rab Nachmani (ben Isaac) said:
-- "If one knows how to reply to heretics (minim) as Rab Idith did,
let him reply; but if not, he is not to reply.
A certain heretic said to Rab Idith:
-- "It is written:
-- 'And God said to Moses: Ascend to the LORD' (Exod 24:1)
when he ought to have said: Ascend to me.
(Rab Idith) replied:
--"He meant Metatron, whose name is as the name of his Master.
For it is written:
-- 'For my Name is in him' (Exod 23:21d).
(The heretic retorted):
-- "But if so, we should bow down to him!
It is written:
-- "Do not rise up [thamer] with him" (Exod 23:21b).
(Rab Idith replied:)
-- "(This means:) 'Do not exchange [themirani] "me" with "him"!
If so, "he will not pardon your transgression" (Exod 23:21c).
(The heretic asked):
-- "Why not?"
(Idith) replied:
-- "Faith! By right we are not inclined to receive him as a letter carrier!
for it is written:
-- 'And he said to him:
If your Presence
[panim] does not go...' (Exod 33:15)."
  --- Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 38b

284. Israel's Guardian Angel
4 "Do not rise up [thamer] with him" (Exod 23:21b).
(This means:) Do not exchange [themirani] "me" with "him"!
nor treat me as if he were a substitute.
Do not say:
-- "Since he is our guardian angel,
we will bow down to him and he will forgive our sins.
For "he will not pardon your transgression" (Exod 23:21c).
(This means): He is not like me, of whom it is written:
-- "Who pardons iniquity and passes over transgression" [Micah 7:18].
For he will not pardon your transgressions.
Moreover, (if you bow down to him),
you will make my Name be removed from him;
for it says:
--"For my Name is in him'' (Exod 23:21d).
The angels are supported by the splendor of the Presence [Shekinah] alone
as it says:
-- "And you preserve them all
and the host of heaven worships you..."
(Neh 9:6).
-- "But if you listen closely to his voice and do all that I say..." (Exod 23:22)
It does not say "that he says" but "that I say."
This implies that if you receive his words, it will be like listening to me.
  --- Midrash, Shemoth Rabba 32.4

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