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The Apocryphal Old Testament Collection of the most important non-canonical Old Testament books designed for general use.

Chapter XII

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Text Commentary

1While he was still speaking, 1 So D. James's text (‘While he was yet speaking these things to me’) is a reconstruction based on the untranslatable C. A has ‘While he was yet speaking these things to us’ (cp. verse 3), and the Rumanian version ‘And while they were speaking’. lo, two angels came, fiery in appearance, merciless in purpose, and relentless in expression, and they were driving ten thousand souls along, beating them mercilessly with fiery thongs; †and one soul the angel seized†. 2 So A. The other MSS vary considerably throughout the verse, though the general sense is clear, apart from the details of this final clause. However, there can be no doubt that something very like this must have stood, in the original text because of the references back, both in verse 14 below and at xiv. 1. Furthermore, in the parallel passage in the B recension only one angel figures as the driver instead of two: he is driving sixty thousand souls (not ten thousand); and the soul he is holding in his hand, whose good deeds and evil deeds are of equal weight, is that of a woman. 2And they directed all the souls through the broad gate for destruction. 3So we also followed the angels and came inside that broad gate. 4Now between the two gates stood a fearsome throne, 3 So CDE: AB add ‘that looked like fearsome crystal’. flashing like fire. 5On it sat a wondrous man, bright as the sun, like a son of God; and before him stood a table, all of gold and covered with the finest linen, which shone like crystal. 6On the table lay a book, six cubits thick and ten cubits broad, and on its right and on its left were standing two angels holding paper and pen and ink. 7In front of the table sat a brilliant 4 Lit. ‘light-bearing’. Cp. vii. 5; xiv. 10; xvi. 16. angel holding in his hand a pair of scales. 8On his left sat a fiery angel, entirely without mercy and relentless, and in his hand he held a trumpet that contained all-devouring fire inside it, as a means of testing sinners. 9And while the wondrous man who sat on the throne was giving his judgements and sentencing the souls, the two angels on his right and on his left were recording. 10The angel on the right recorded the good deeds, the one on the left the sins. 11And the angel in front of the table, who held the pair of scales, weighed the souls, and the fiery angel, who held the fire, put the souls to the test. 12And Abraham asked the Prince Michael, What is it we are looking at? 13And the Prince replied, What you are seeing, holy Abraham, is the judgement and retribution. 14And lo, the angel who held the soul in his hand appeared, and he brought it before the judge. 15And the judge said to one of the angels that were waiting on him, Open this book for me and find me the sins of this soul. 16And when he had opened the book he found that its sins and its good deeds balanced evenly. 17So he neither gave it over to the torturers, nor did he assign it a place among those who were being saved, but set it in the middle.

18And Abraham said to Michael, Sir, is this the angel that takes souls out of their bodies, or is it not? 19Michael answered and said, This is Death; and he takes them away to the judgement-place for the judge to pass judgement on them. 20And Abraham said, My Lord, I beg you to take me up to the judgement-place, so that I can see for myself how they are judged. 21Then Michael took Abraham on a cloud and brought him to Paradise. 22And as he came near the place where the judge was, the angel appeared and presented a soul 5 Lit. ‘that soul’. to the judge; and the soul was saying, Have mercy on me, lord. 23And the judge said, Why should I have mercy on you, when you yourself had no mercy on your daughter that you had, your own child? 6 Lit. ‘the fruit of your womb’. 24Why did you murder her? And the soul made answer, No lord! I am no murderer: my daughter has told lies about me. 25,26The judge then ordered the writer of the records to come. And lo, cherubim came, carrying two books, and with them was a man of immense size. 27And he had on his head three crowns: one crown was higher than the other two; and they were called Crowns of Witness. 28In his hand the man had a pen of gold; and the judge said to him, Let us have the details of the sin 7 Lit. ‘Substantiate the sins’. of this soul. 29And the man opened one of the books belonging to the cherubim, and he searched for the sin of the woman's soul and found it. 30And the judge said, Wretched soul! How can you say that you have done no murder? Did you not after your husband's death, go and commit adultery with your daughter's husband and kill your daughter? 8 Lit. ‘and kill her’. 31And he convicted her of other sins as well, all that she had committed since she was a child. 32When the woman heard this she cried out, saying, Alas! While I was in the world I forgot all the sins that I committed, but here they are not forgotten. 33Then they took her and handed her over to the torturers.

Notes:

1 So D. James's text (‘While he was yet speaking these things to me’) is a reconstruction based on the untranslatable C. A has ‘While he was yet speaking these things to us’ (cp. verse 3), and the Rumanian version ‘And while they were speaking’.

2 So A. The other MSS vary considerably throughout the verse, though the general sense is clear, apart from the details of this final clause. However, there can be no doubt that something very like this must have stood, in the original text because of the references back, both in verse 14 below and at xiv. 1. Furthermore, in the parallel passage in the B recension only one angel figures as the driver instead of two: he is driving sixty thousand souls (not ten thousand); and the soul he is holding in his hand, whose good deeds and evil deeds are of equal weight, is that of a woman.

3 So CDE: AB add ‘that looked like fearsome crystal’.

4 Lit. ‘light-bearing’. Cp. vii. 5; xiv. 10; xvi. 16.

5 Lit. ‘that soul’.

6 Lit. ‘the fruit of your womb’.

7 Lit. ‘Substantiate the sins’.

8 Lit. ‘and kill her’.

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