The Life of Adam and Eve
From The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament. (This important text based on the version made by R.H. Charles; Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1913, was modernised by Patrick Rogers in 2008)
The Life of Adam and Eve is a significant Jewish pseudepigraphical writing, whose surviving manuscripts are Christian copies in Latin and Greek. It purports to explain in colourful detail the fate of the First Parents after their expulsion from Eden, in the style of an apocalypse, or heavenly revelation. As such, its genre reminds us strongly of that in the Book of Revelation. Along with its teaching about penitence and atonement for sin, it expresses a clear belief in the resurrection of dead to a future life. There is wide agreement that the original dates from the first century A.D. and was composed in a Semitic language. It recounts the lives and words of Adam and Eve to their children, as they face their approaching deaths. It provides more detail than does Genesis 3, about their Fall from Grace, including Eve's version of the story. Satan explains that he rebelled when God commanded him to worship Adam. After Adam dies, he and all his descendants are promised a resurrection.
It begins immediately after their exile from the Garden of Eden and continues to their deaths. In the first chapters, Eve begins to do penance in the icy Tigris river, but Satan soon talks her out of it. When Adam complains about Satan persecuting them, he learns that Eve is the reason he was expelled from heaven. Satan and his followers had been cast out of heaven for refusing God's command to worship Adam, God's own image. Unaffected by the devil, Adam serves forty days of penance in the Jordan River.
Cain and Abel are then born, and Cain's killing of Abel is passed over quickly. Seth is born, along with thirty other sons and thirty daughters. As Adam is dying, Seth and Eve try to get healing oil for him but are prevented by the archangel Michael.
Eve then relates her version of the Fall of Man, where she had been put in charge of all the female animals and half the garden, from which she brought the forbidden fruit to Adam. The serpent is described as having hands and feet, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil is said to be a fig tree. Adam then dies at the age of 930, and after his soul is conveyed to the third heaven, God and some angels bury his body and Abel's. Adam and all his descendants are promised a resurrection. Six days later, Eve dies, and Michael tells Seth never to mourn more than six days, and to cease on the Sabbath.
When they were driven out from paradise, they made themselves a booth, and spent seven days mourning and lamenting in deep grief.
But after seven days, they began to be hungry and started to look for food to eat, and they found it not. Then Eve said to Adam: "My lord, I am hungry. Go, look for something for us to eat. Perhaps the Lord God will look back and pity us and recall us to the place where we were before."
Adam got up and walked seven days over all that land, and found no food of the kind they used to have in paradise. Then Eve said to Adam: "Will you kill me, that I may die, and perhaps the Lord God will bring thee into paradise, for on my account you were driven out from there?" Adam answered: "Hush, Eve, from such words, or God may bring some other curse upon us. How could I stretch out my hand against my own flesh? No, let us arise and look for something for us to live on, so as not to die of hunger."
And they walked about searching for nine days, but found nothing of the kind they used to have in paradise, for they found only animals" food. And Adam said to Eve: "This the Lord has provided for animals and brutes to eat; but we used to have angels" food. But it is just and right for us to lament before the sight of God who made us. Let us repent with a great penitence: perhaps the Lord will be gracious to us and will pity us and give us a share of something to keep us alive."
And Eve said to Adam: "What is penitence? Tell me, what sort of penitence am I to do? Let us not set too great a task for ourselves, one in which we cannot persevere, so that the Lord will not listen to our prayers and will turn away His face from us, because we have not fulfilled what we promised. My lord, how much penitence have you planned, for I have brought trouble and anguish upon you?'
And Adam said to Eve: "You cannot do as much as I, but do only as much as you have strength for. For I will spend forty days fasting, but let you go off to the river Tigris and lift up a stone and stand on it in the water up to your neck in the deep of the river. And let no speech come from your mouth, since we are unworthy to address the Lord, for our lips are unclean from that unlawful and forbidden tree. And let you stand in the water of the river thirty-seven days. But I will spend forty days in the water of Jordan, perhaps the Lord God will take pity upon us."
And Eve walked to the river Tigris and did as Adam had told her. Likewise, Adam walked to the river Jordan and stood on a stone up to his neck in water.
And Adam said: "Water of Jordan, I bid you grieve with me, and assemble to me all that swims in you, and let them surround me and mourn in company with me. Not for themselves let them lament, but for me; for it is not they that have sinned, but I." Immediately, all living things came and surrounded him, and from that hour the water of Jordan stood still and its current was stayed."
And eighteen days passed by; then Satan was angry and transformed himself into the brightness of angels, and went away to the river Tigris to Eve, and found her weeping, and the devil himself pretended to grieve with her, and he began to weep and said to her "Come out of the river and lament no more. Cease now from sorrow and moaning. Why are you anxious and your husband Adam? The Lord God has heard your groaning and has accepted your penitence, and all we angels have entreated on your behalf, and interceded with the Lord; and he has sent me to bring you out of the water and give you the nourishment which you had in paradise, and for which you are crying out. Now come out of the water and I will conduct you to the place where your food has been made ready."
Now Eve heard and believed and went out of the water of the river, and her flesh was like grass, from the chill of the water. When she had come out, she fell to the ground and the devil raised her up and led her to Adam. But when Adam saw her and the devil with her, he wept and cried aloud and said: "O Eve, Eve, where is the labour of your penance? How have you been again ensnared by our enemy, through whom we have been estranged from our abode in paradise and spiritual joy?'
When she heard this, Eve understood that it was the devil had persuaded her to leave the river; and she fell on her face on the ground and her sorrow and groaning and wailing was redoubled. And she cried out and said: "Woe to you, you devil. Why do you attack us for no cause? What have you to do with us? What have we done to you, for you to pursue us with craft? Or why does your malice attack us? Have we taken away your glory and caused you to be without honour? You enemy, why do you harry us to the death in wickedness and envy?'
And with a heavy sigh, the devil said, "O Adam! all my hostility, envy, and sorrow is for you, since it is for you that I have been expelled from my glory, which I possessed in the heavens in the midst of the angels and for you was I cast out on the earth." Adam answered, "What do you tell me? What have I done to you or what is my fault against you? Seeing that you have received no harm or injury from us, why do you pursue us?'
The devil replied, "Adam, what are you saying? It is for your sake that I have been hurled from that place. When you were formed, I was hurled out of the presence of God and banished from the company of the angels. When God blew into you the breath of life and your face and likeness was made in the image of God, Michael also brought you and made us worship you in the sight of God; and the Lord God said, Here is Adam. I have made you in our image and likeness."
And Michael went out and called to all the angels, "Worship the image of God as the Lord God has commanded." And Michael himself worshipped first; then he called me and said, "Worship the image of the Lord God." And I answered, "It is not for me to worship Adam." And since Michael kept urging me to worship, I said to him, "Why do you urge me? I will not worship an inferior and younger being than I. I am his senior in the Creation, before he was made was I already made. It is his duty to worship me."
When the angels who were under me heard this, they refused to worship him. And Michael said, "Worship the image of God, but if you will not worship him, the Lord God will be angry with you." And I said, "If He be angry with me, I will set my seat above the stars of heaven and will be like the Highest."
And the Lord God was angry with me and banished me and my angels from our glory; and on your account we were expelled from our abodes into this world and hurled to the ground. Straight away we were overcome with grief, since we had been robbed of such great glory. And we were grieved when we saw you in such joy and luxury. And with guile I cheated your wife and through her action caused you to be expelled from your joy and luxury, as I have been driven out of my glory.
When Adam heard the devil say this, he cried out and wept and said, "O Lord my God, my life is in your hands. Banish this Enemy far from me, who seeks to destroy my soul, and give me his glory which he himself has lost." And at that moment, the devil vanished before him. But Adam persevered in his penance, standing for forty days on end in the water of Jordan.
And Eve said to Adam: "Live you, my Lord, to you life is granted, since you have committed neither the first nor the second error. But I have erred and been led astray for I have not kept the commandment of God; and now banish me from the light of your life and I will go to the sunsetting, and there will I be, until I die." And she began to walk towards the western parts and to mourn and to weep bitterly and groan aloud. And she made there a booth, while she had in her womb offspring of three months old.
When the time of her bearing approached, she began to be distressed with pains, and she cried aloud to the Lord and said, "Pity me, O Lord, assist me." And she was not heard and the mercy of God did not encircle her. And she said to herself: "Who shall tell my lord Adam? I implore you, ye luminaries of heaven, what time ye return to the east, bear a message to my lord adam."
But in that hour, Adam said, "The complaint of Eve has come to me. Perhaps, once more has the serpent fought with her." And he went and found her in great distress. And Eve said, "From the moment I saw you, my lord, my grief-laden soul was refreshed. And now entreat the Lord God on my behalf to listen to you and look upon me and free me from my awful pains." And Adam entreated the Lord for Eve.
And there came twelve angels and two "virtues', standing on the right and on the left of Eve; and Michael was standing on the right; and he stroked her on the face as far as to the breast and said to Eve: "Blessed are you, Eve, for Adam's sake. Since his prayers and intercessions are great, I have been sent that you mayst receive our help. Rise up now, and prepare you to bear. And she bore a son and he was shining; and at once the babe rose up and ran and bore a blade of grass in his hands, and gave it to his mother, and his name was called Cain.
And Adam carried Eve and the boy and led them to the East. And the Lord God sent various seeds by Michael the archangel and gave to Adam and showed him how to work and till the ground, that they might have fruit by which they and all their generations might live. For thereafter Eve conceived and bare a son, whose name was Abel; and Cain and Abel used to stay together. And Eve said to Adam: "My lord, while I slept, I saw a vision, as it were the blood of our son Abel in the hand of Cain, who was gulping it down in his mouth. Therefore I have sorrow." And Adam said, "Alas if Cain slew Abel. Yet let us separate them from each other mutually, and let us make for each of them separate dwellings."
And they made Cain an husbandman, but Abel they made a shepherd; in order that in this wise they might be mutually separated. And thereafter, Cain slew Abel, but Adam was then one hundred and thirty years old, but Abel was slain when he was one hundred and twenty-two years. And thereafter Adam knew his wife and he begat a son and called his name Seth.
And Adam said to Eve, "See, I have begotten a son, in place of Abel, whom Cain slew." And after Adam had begotten Seth, he lived eight hundred years and begat thirty sons and thirty daughters; in all sixty-three children. And they were increased over the face of the ground in their nations.
And Adam said to Seth, "Hear, my son Seth, that I may relate to you what I heard and saw after your mother and I had been driven out of paradise. When we were at prayer, there came to me Michael the archangel, a messenger of God. And I saw a chariot like the wind and its wheels were fiery and I was caught up into the Paradise of righteousness, and I saw the Lord sitting and his face was flaming fire that could not be endured. And many thousands of angels were on the right and the left of that chariot.
When I saw this, I was confounded, and terror seized me and I bowed myself down before God with my face to the ground. And God said to me, "Behold you must die, since you have transgressed the commandment of God, for you listened rather to the voice of your wife, whom I gave into your power, that you might hold her to your will. Yet you listened to her and ignored My words."
When I heard these words of God, I fell prone on the ground and worshipped the Lord and said, "My Lord, All powerful and merciful God, Holy and Righteous One, let not the name that is mindful of Your majesty be blotted out, but convert my soul, for I die and my breath will cease from my mouth. Do not cast me out from Your presence, whom You formed of the clay of the ground. Do not banish from Your favour the one whom You have nourished." Then a word concerning you came to me and the Lord said to me, "Since your days were fashioned, you have been created with a love of knowledge; therefore the right to serve Me shall not be taken from your seed for ever."
When I heard these words. I threw myself on the ground and adored the Lord God and said, "You are the eternal and supreme God; and all creatures give you honour and praise. You are the true Light gleaming above all lights, the Living Life, infinite mighty Power. To You, the spiritual powers give honour and praise. You pour out on the race of men the abundance of Your mercy." As soon as I had worshipped the Lord, Michael, God's archangel, seized my hand and cast me out of the paradise of vision and of God's command. And Michael held a rod in his hand, and touched the waters which were round about paradise, and they froze hard.
And I went across, and Michael the archangel went across with me, and he led me back to the place from which he had caught me up. Listen, my son Seth, to the rest of the secrets that shall be, which were revealed to me, when I had eaten of the tree of the knowledge, and knew and saw what will happen in this age; what God intends to do to his creation of the race of men. The Lord will appear in a flame of fire and from the mouth of His majesty He will give commandments and statutes. From His mouth will proceed a two-edged sword and they will sanctify Him in the house where His majesty dwells. And He will show them the marvellous place of His majesty. And then they will build a house to the Lord their God in the land which He shall prepare for them; but they will transgress His statutes there and their sanctuary will be burnt up and their land deserted and they themselves will be dispersed, because they have kindled the wrath of God. But again He will cause them to come back from their dispersion; and again the will build the house of God; and in the last time the house of God will be exalted greater than of old. And once more iniquity will exceed righteousness. And thereafter God will dwell with men on earth in visible form; and then, righteousness will begin to shine. And the house of God will be honoured in the age and their enemies will no more be able to hurt the men, who are believing in God; and God will stir up for Himself a faithful people, whom He shall save for eternity, and the impious shall be punished by God their king, the men who refused to love His law.
Heaven and earth, nights and days, and all creatures shall obey Him, and not overstep His commandment. Men shall not change their works, but they shall be changed from forsaking the law of the Lord. Therefore the Lord shall repel from Himself the wicked, and the just shall shine like the sun, in the sight of God. And in that time, shall men be purified by water from their sins. But those who are unwilling to be purified by water shall be condemned. And happy shall the man be, who has ruled his soul, when the Judgement shall happen and the greatness of God be seen among men and their deeds be inquired into by God the just judge.
After Adam was nine hundred and thirty years old, since he knew that his days were coming to an end, he said, "Let all my sons gather to me, that I may bless them before I die, and speak with them." And they were assembled in three parts before his sight, in the house of prayer, where they used to worship the Lord God. And they asked him "Why have you gathered us, Father, and why do you lie on your bed? "Then Adam answered, "My sons, I am sick and in pain." And all his sons said to him, "What does it mean, father, this illness and pain?'
Then Seth his son said, "O my lord, perhaps you long for the fruit of paradise, which you were accustomed to eat, and therefore you lie in sadness? Tell me and I will go to the nearest gates of paradise and put dust on my head and throw myself down on the ground before the gates of paradise and lament and beg God with loud lamentation; perhaps he will listen to me and send his angel to bring me the fruit, for which you long." Adam answered, "No, my son, I do not long for this, but I feel weakness and great pain in my body." Seth answered, "What is pain, my lord father? I am ignorant; do not hide it from us, but tell us about it." And Adam answered, "Hear me, my sons. When God made us, me and your mother, and placed us in paradise and gave us every tree bearing fruit to eat, he laid on us a prohibition about the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which is in the midst of paradise; saying "Do not eat of it." But God gave a part of paradise to me and a part to your mother, the trees of the eastern part and the orth, which is over against Aquilo he gave to me, and to your mother he gave the part of the south and the western part.
Moreover the Lord God gave us two angels to guard us. The hour came when the angels had ascended to worship in the sight of God; immediately the enemy the devil found an opportunity while the angels were absent and the devil led your mother astray to eat of the unlawful and forbidden tree. And she ate and gave to me.
And immediately, the Lord God was angry with us, and the Lord said to me, "Since you have left behind my commandment and have not kept my word, which I confirmed to you; I will bring upon your body, seventy blows; with various griefs, shall you be tormented, beginning at your head and your eyes and your ears down to the nails on your toes, and in every separate limb. These has God appointed for chastisement. All these things has the Lord sent to me and to all our race."
Thus said Adam to his sons, and he was seized with violent pains, and he cried out with a loud voice, "What shall I do? I am in distress. So cruel are the pains with which I am beset." When Eve had seen him weeping, she also began to weep herself, and said, "O Lord my God, hand over to me his pain, for it is I who sinned." And Eve said to Adam, "My lord, give me a part of your pains, for this has come to you from fault of mine."
And Adam said to Eve, "Rise up and go with my son Seth to the neighbourhood of paradise, and put dust on your heads and throw yourselves on the ground and lament in the sight of God. Perhaps He will have pity upon you and send His angel across to the tree of His mercy, from which flows the oil of life, and will give you a drop of it, to anoint me with it, that I may have rest from these pains, by which I am being consumed." Then Seth and his mother went off towards the gates of paradise. And while they were walking, suddenly there came a beast a serpent and attacked and bit Seth. And as soon as Eve saw it, she wept and said, "Alas, wretched woman that I am. I am accursed since I have not kept the commandment of God." And Eve said to the serpent in a loud voice, "Accursed beast! how is it that you have not feared to let yourself loose against the image of God, but have dared to fight with it?'
The beast answered in the language of men, "Is it not against you, Eve, that our malice is directed? Are your not the objects of our rage? Tell me, Eve, how was your mouth opened to eat of the fruit? But now you can not bear it if I begin to reprove you."
Then Seth said to the beast, "the Lord God revile you. Be silent, be dumb, shut your mouth, accursed enemy of Truth, confounder and destroyer. Away from the image of God till the day when the Lord God orders you to be brought to the ordeal." And the beast said to Seth, "See, I leave the presence of the image of God, as you have said." Immediately he left Seth, wounded by his teeth.
But Seth and his mother walked to the regions of paradise for the oil of mercy to anoint the sick Adam, and they arrived at the gates of paradise, and they took dust from the ground and placed it on their heads, and bowed down with their faces to the ground and began to lament with loud moaning, imploring the Lord God to pity Adam in his pains and to send His angel to give them the oil from the "tree of His mercy'.
But when they had been praying and imploring for many hours, the angel Michael appeared to them and said, "I have been sent to you from the Lord - I am set by God over the bodies of men - I tell you, Seth, you man of God, do not weep or pray and entreat about the oil of the tree of mercy to anoint your father Adam for the pains of his body.
'For I tell you that you will be unable to receive it except in the last days." When five thousand five hundred years have been fulfilled, then will come upon earth the most beloved king Christ, the son of God, to revive the body of Adam and with him to revive the bodies of the dead. He Himself, the Son of God, when He comes will be baptized in the river Jordan, and when He has come out of the water of Jordan, then He will anoint from the oil of mercy all that believe in Him. And the oil of mercy shall be for generation to generation for those who are ready to be born again of water and the Holy Spirit to life eternal. Then the most beloved Son of God, Christ, descending on earth shall lead your father Adam to Paradise to the tree of mercy.
'But let you, Seth, go to your father Adam, since the time of his life is fulfilled. Six days hence, his soul shall leave his body and when it has left, you shall see great marvels in the heaven and on the earth and the lights of heaven. With these words, Michael departed from Seth. And Eve and Seth returned bearing with them herbs of fragrance, nard and crocus and calamus and cinnamon.
When Seth and his mother reached Adam, they told him how the serpent beast had bit Seth. And Adam said to Eve, "What have you done? You have brought a great plague upon us, transgression and sin for all our generations, and tell your children after my death what you have done, for those who arise from us shall toil and fail but when they are lacking they shall curse us and say, All evils have our parents brought upon us, who were at the beginning." When Eve heard these words, she began to weep and moan.
And just as Michael the archangel had foretold, after six days came Adam's death. When Adam saw that the hour of his death was at hand, he said to all his sons, "See, I am nine hundred and thirty years old, and when I die, bury me towards the rising sun in the field beside that house." And when he had finished speaking, he gave up the ghost.
Then was the sun darkened and the moon and the stars for seven days, and Seth in his mourning embraced from above the body of his father, and Eve was looking at the ground with her hands folded over her head, and all her children wept most bitterly. And there appeared Michael the angel and stood at the head of Adam and said to Seth, "Rise up from the body of your father and come to me and see what is the doom of the Lord God concerning him. He is His creature and God has pitied him." And all the angels blew their trumpets, and cried out,
'Blessed are you, O Lord, for you have had pity on Your creature."
Then Seth saw the hand of God stretched out holding Adam and he handed him over to Michael, saying, "Let him be in your charge in punishment till the day of Judgement, till the last years when I will convert his sorrow into joy. Then he shall sit on the throne of the one who supplanted him." And the Lord said again to the angels Michael and Uriel, "Bring me three linen clothes of byssus and spread them out over Adam and other linen clothes over Abel his son and bury Adam and Abel his son." And all the "powers" of angels marched before Adam, and the sleep of the dead was consecrated. And the angels Michael and Uriel buried Adam and Abel in the parts of Paradise, before the eyes of Seth and his mother and no one else, and Michael and Uriel said, "Just as ye have seen, bury your dead in like manner."
Six days afterwards, Adam died; and Eve saw that she would die, so she gathered all her sons and daughters, Seth with thirty brothers and thirty sisters, and Eve said to all, "Listen to me, my children, and I will tell you what the archangel Michael said to us when I and your father transgressed the command of God. On account of your transgression, Our Lord will bring upon your race the anger of his judgement, first by water, the second time by fire; by these two, will the Lord judge the whole human race
But listen to me, my children. Make tablets of stone and others of clay, and write upon them about my life and your father's, all that ye have heard and seen from us. If the Lord judges our race by water, the tablets of clay will be dissolved and the tablets of stone will remain; but if by fire, the tablets of stone will be broken up and the tablets of clay will be baked hard." When Eve had said all this to her children, she spread out her hands to heaven in prayer, and bent her knees to the ground, and while she worshipped the Lord and gave him thanks, she gave up the ghost. Thereafter, all her children buried her with loud lamentation.
When they had been mourning four days, then Michael the archangel appeared and said to Seth, "Man of God, do not mourn for your dead more than six days, for on the seventh day is the sign of the resurrection and the rest of the age to come; on the seventh day the Lord rested from all His works." Thereupon Seth made the tablets of clay and stone.