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

Chapter XIX

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Text Commentary

1And Abraham went up to his room and lay down to rest; but Death came and stood before him. 2And Abraham said to him, Go away from me: I want to rest; for I am exhausted. 1 Lit. ‘my spirit is invested with neglect’. 3And Death said, I will not leave you until I take your soul. 4And Abraham, with a sullen face and angry look, said to Death, Who has ordered you to say this? 5You are bluffing and saying this on your own; and I will not follow you until the Prince Michael comes to me, and then I will go with him. 6And further, 2 Lit. ‘But this also I say to you’. if you want me to follow you, explain to 7me all your changes of appearance – the seven fiery dragons' heads, and what the face of the cliff means, and the ruthless sword, and the great boiling river, and the turbid sea raging furiously. 8Explain to me also the insufferable thunder and the terrifying lightning, and what the stinking cup of poisons mixed together means: explain them all to me. 9And Death said, Listen righteous Abraham, for seven ages I create havoc in the world and bring all men down to Hades: kings and rulers, rich and poor, slaves and free men, I escort to the depths of Hades; and that is why I showed you the seven dragons' heads. 10The face of fire I showed you because many are burned to death by fire, and so it is through the face of fire that they see death. 11The face of the cliff I showed you because many men fall from the top of trees or fearful cliffs and disappear and perish; and so it is in the form of a fearful cliff that they see death. 12The face of the sword I showed you because many are killed by the sword in wars; and they see death in the form of a sword. 13The face of the great boiling river I showed you because many are carried off by inundations 3 Lit. ‘by the inrush of many waters’. and swept away by mighty rivers and die by drowning; and they see death before their time. 14The face of the ferocious raging sea I showed you because many encounter violent storms at sea, are shipwrecked, and sink beneath the waves; and they see death as the sea. 15The insufferable thunder and the fearful lightning I showed you because many men come to a time of wrath, 4 i.e. the Divine wrath. Some emend to ‘the time of death’. with insufferable thunder and fearful lightning, and perish suddenly; 5 Lit. ‘and become in the taking away of men’. and that is the way they see death. 16I showed you also poisonous creatures, 6 Lit. ‘beasts’. asps and basilisks, and leopards, and lions, and cubs, and bears, and vipers, and, in short, the face of every beast did I show you, most righteous one, because many men are killed by beasts, and others die after being bitten 7 Lit. ‘having been made to swell’. by poisonous snakes, 〈dragons, asps, horned vipers, basilisks〉, 8 These words were inserted by James. They are found complete only in MS A, where they follow immediately after ‘wrath’ in verse 15 and must be read there as genitives depending on ‘wrath’. A relic of the reading survives in B at the same point in a jumble that makes no sense. Several other details in verses 15 and 16, both of text and interpretation, are also far from certain. and the viper. 17I showed you also deadly cups of poisons mixed together, because many men are given poisons to drink by other men and without apparent cause are carried off at once.

Notes:

1 Lit. ‘my spirit is invested with neglect’.

2 Lit. ‘But this also I say to you’.

3 Lit. ‘by the inrush of many waters’.

4 i.e. the Divine wrath. Some emend to ‘the time of death’.

5 Lit. ‘and become in the taking away of men’.

6 Lit. ‘beasts’.

7 Lit. ‘having been made to swell’.

8 These words were inserted by James. They are found complete only in MS A, where they follow immediately after ‘wrath’ in verse 15 and must be read there as genitives depending on ‘wrath’. A relic of the reading survives in B at the same point in a jumble that makes no sense. Several other details in verses 15 and 16, both of text and interpretation, are also far from certain.

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