The Legends of the Jews— Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses

Contents:
Author: Louis Ginzberg

Moses and the Angels Strive for the Torah

The day on which God revealed Himself on Mount Sinai was twice as long as ordinary days. For on that day the sun did not set, a miracle that was four times more repeated for Moses’ sake. [245] When this long day had drawn to its close, Moses ascended the holy mountain, where he spent a week to rid himself of all mortal impurity, so that he might betake himself to God into heaven. At the end of his preparations, God called him to come to Him. [246] Then a cloud appeared and lay down before him, but he knew not whether to ride upon it or merely to hold fast to it. Then suddenly the mouth of the cloud flew open, and he entered into it, and walked about in the firmament as a man walks about on earth. Then he met Kemuel, the porter, the angel who is in charge of twelve thousand angels of destruction, who are posted at the portals of the firmament. He spoke harshly to Moses, saying: "What dost thou here, son of Amram, on this spot, belonging to the angels of fire?" Moses answered: "Not of my own impulse do I come here, but with the permission of the Holy One, to receive the Torah and bear it down to Israel." As Kemuel did not want to let him pass, Moses struck him and destroyed him out of the world, whereupon he went on his way until the angel Hadarniel came along.

This angel is sixty myriads of parasangs taller than his fellows, and at every word that passes out of his mouth, issue twelve thousand fiery lightning flashes. When he beheld Moses he roared at him: "What dost thou here, son of Amram, here on the spot of the Holy and High?" When Moses heard his voice, he grew exceedingly frightened, his eyes shed tears, and soon he would have fallen from the cloud. But instantly the pity of God for Moses was awakened, and He said to Hadarniel: "You angels have been quarrelsome since the day I created you. In the beginning, when I wanted to create Adam, you raised complaint before Me and said, ’What is man that Thou are mindful of him!’ and My wrath was kindled against you and I burned scores of you with My little finger. Now again ye commence strife with the faithful one of My house, whom I have bidden to come up here to receive the Torah and carry it down to My chosen children Israel, although you know that if Israel did not receive the Torah, you would no longer be permitted to dwell in heaven." When Hadarniel heard this, he said quickly to the Lord: "O Lord of the world! It is manifest and clear to Thee, that I was not aware he came hither with Thy permission, but since I now know it, I will be his messenger and go before him as a disciple before his master." Hadarniel hereupon, in a humble attitude, ran before Moses as a disciple before his master, until he reached the fire of Sandalfon, when he spoke to Moses, saying: "Go, turn about, for I may not stay in this spot, or the fire of Sandalfon will scorch me."

This angel towers above his fellows by so great height, that it would take five hundred years to cross over it. He stands behind the Divine Throne and binds garlands for his Lord. Sandalfon does not know the abiding spot of the Lord either, so that he might set the crown on His head, but he charms the crown, so that it rises of its own accord until it reposes on the head of the Lord. As soon as Sandalfon bids the crown rise, the hosts on high tremble and shake, the holy animals burst into paeans, the holy Seraphim roar like lions and say: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory." When the crown has reached the Throne of Glory, the wheels of the Throne are instantly set in motion, the foundations of its footstool tremble, and all the heavens are seized with trembling and horror. As soon as the crown now passes the Throne of Glory, to settle upon its place, all the heavenly hosts open their mouths, saying: "Praised be the glory of the Eternal from His place." And when the crown has reached its destination, all the holy animals, the Seraphim, the wheels of the Throne, and the hosts on high, the Cherubim and the Hashmalim speak with one accord: "The Eternal is King, the Eternal was King, the Eternal will be King in all eternity."

Now when Moses beheld Sandalfon, he was frightened, and in his alarm came near to falling out of the cloud. In tears he imploringly begged God for mercy, and was answered. In His bountiful love of Israel, He Himself descended from the Throne of His glory and stood before Moses, until he had passed the flames of Sandalfon.

After Moses had passed Sandalfon, he ran across Rigyon, the stream of fire, the coals of which burn the angels, who dip into them every morning, are burned, and then arise anew. This stream with the coals of fire is generated beneath the Throne of Glory out of the perspiration of the holy Hayyot, who perspire fire out of fear of God. God, however, quickly drew Moses past Rigyon without his suffering any injury.

As he passed on he met the angel Gallizur, also called Raziel. He it is who reveals the teachings to his Maker, and makes known in the world what is decreed by God. For he stands behind the curtains that are drawn before the Throne of God, and sees and hears everything. Elijah on Horeb hears that which Raziel calls down into the world, and passes his knowledge on. This angel performs other functions in heaven. He stands before the Throne with outspread wings, and in this way arrests the breath of the Hayyot, the heat of which would otherwise scorch all the angels. He furthermore puts the coals of Rigyon into a glowing brazier, which he holds up to kings, lords, and princes, and from which their faces receive a radiance that makes men fear them. When Moses beheld him, he trembled, but God led him past unhurt.

He then came to a host of Angels of Terror that surround the Throne of Glory, and are the strongest and mightiest among the angels. These now wished to scorch Moses with their fiery breath, but God spread His radiance of splendor over Moses, and said to him: "Hold on tight to the Throne of My Glory, and answer them." [247] For as soon as the angels became aware of Moses in heaven, they said to God: "What does he who is born of woman here?" And God’s answer was as follows: "He has come to receive the Torah." They furthermore said: "O Lord, content Thyself with the celestial beings, let them have the Torah, what wouldst Thou with the dwellers of the dust?" Moses hereupon answered the angels: "It is written in the Torah: ’I am the Eternal, thy Lord, that have led thee out of the land of Egypt and out of the house of bondage.’ Were ye perchance enslaved in Egypt and then delivered, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is further written in the Torah: ’Thou shalt have no other gods.’ Are there perchance idolaters among ye, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is written: ’Thou shalt not utter the name of the Eternal, thy God, in vain,’ Are there perchance business negotiations among ye, that ye are in need of the Torah to teach you the proper form of invocation? It is written: ’Remember to keep the Sabbath holy.’ Is there perchance any work among you, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is written: ’Honor thy father and thy mother.’ Have ye perchance parents, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is written: ’Thou shalt not kill.’ Are there perchance murderers among ye, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is written: ’Thou shalt not commit adultery.’ Are there perchance women among ye, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is written: ’Thou shalt not steal.’ Is there perchance money in heaven, that ye are need of the Torah? It is written: ’Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.’ Is there perchance any false witness among ye, that ye are in need of the Torah? It is written: ’Covet not the house of thy neighbor.’ Are there perchance houses, fields, or vineyards among ye, that ye are in need of the Torah?" The angels hereupon relinquished their opposition to the delivering of the Torah into the hands of Israel, and acknowledged that God was right to reveal it to mankind, saying: "Eternal, our Lord, how excellent is Thy name in all the earth! Who hast set Thy glory upon the heavens."

Moses now stayed forty days in heaven to learn the Torah from God. But when he started to descend and beheld the hosts of the angels of terror, angels of trembling, angels of quaking, and angels of horror, then through his fear he forgot all he had learned. For this reason God called the angel Yefefiyah, the prince of the Torah, who handed over to Moses the Torah, "ordered in all things and sure." All the other angels, too, became his friends, and each bestowed upon him a remedy as well as the secret of the Holy Names, as they are contained in the Torah, and as they are applied. Even the Angel of Death gave him a remedy against death. The applications of the Holy Names, which the angels through Yefefiyah, the prince of the Torah, and Metatron, the prince of the Face, taught him, Moses passed on to the high-priest Eleazar, who passed them to his son Phinehas, also known as Elijah. [248]

Contents:

Related Resources

None available for this document.

Download Options


Title: The Legends of the Jews— Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses

Select an option:

*Note: A download may not start for up to 60 seconds.

Email Options


Title: The Legends of the Jews— Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses

Select an option:

Email addres:

*Note: It may take up to 60 seconds for for the email to be generated.

Chicago: Louis Ginzberg, "Moses and the Angels Strive for the Torah," The Legends of the Jews— Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses, trans. Rodwell, J. M. in The Legends of the Jews—Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses Original Sources, accessed January 24, 2020, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4LC1RIG5VHV788D.

MLA: Ginzberg, Louis. "Moses and the Angels Strive for the Torah." The Legends of the Jews— Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses, translted by Rodwell, J. M., in The Legends of the Jews—Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses, Original Sources. 24 Jan. 2020. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4LC1RIG5VHV788D.

Harvard: Ginzberg, L, 'Moses and the Angels Strive for the Torah' in The Legends of the Jews— Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses, trans. . cited in , The Legends of the Jews—Volume 3: From the Exodus to the Death of Moses. Original Sources, retrieved 24 January 2020, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=4LC1RIG5VHV788D.