A Hebrew Cosmogony

This world came into existence out of a chaos of fluid driven by a divine blast: This is the epic beginning of the Book of Genesis.

The earth was chaotic and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and God’s wind moved upon the face of the fluid.

From this primeval matter, in a process of subsequent creations, was born the home of the living.

Already before the birth of our earth, worlds were shaped and brought into existence, only to be destroyed in the course of time.

Nor is this world, inhabited by man, the first earth created by God. He made several earths before ours, but he destroyed them.
But even this land would have no permanence if God had executed his original plan of ruling it according to the principle of strict justice.
It was only when He saw that justice by itself would undermine the world that He associated mercy with justice, and made them to rule jointly.

This earth, too, was not created from the beginning to satisfy the Divine plan. It underwent re-shaping: Six consecutive remouldings; the primeval creation did not delight the Creator; destruction was called upon the ungainly world of flesh and when it did not ameliorate, another destruction was sent to chastise it and still another.

Six times this earth was rebuilt - without entire extirpation of life upon it, but with major catastrophes New conditions were created after each of these catastrophes; new chances were given to men to improve their inclinations, evil from the beginning.

This is the seventh creation, the time in which we live.

Several heavens were created, seven in fact.
Seven earths were created: the most removed
the seventh Erez,
the sixth Adamah,
the fifth Arka,
the fourth Harabah,
the third Yabbashah,
the second Tebel,
and our own land called Heled, and like the
others, it is separated [from the foregoing]
by abyss, chaos, and waters.

The description permits an interpretation that all the seven heavens and earths exist simultaneously; but a deeper insight will allow us to recognize that the original idea did not admit seven concurrent and separate firmaments and worlds in space but only consecutive in time, and built one out of another:

The seven heavens form a unity, the seven kinds of earth form a unity, and the heavens and the earth together also form a unity.

The separation of one world from another by abyss and chaos primarily means, it seems, the fiery nearness to the precipice and primeval matter which it encountered and into which it could be—by only a hairbreadth—reduced forever.

The heavens and the earth were changed at every catastrophe. This idea is concealed in the legend of the wandering of Man (Adam).

When Adam was cast out of Paradise, he first reached the lowest of the seven earths, the Erez, which is dark, without a ray of light, and utterly void. Adam was terrified, particularly by the flames of the ever-turning sword.
After he had done penance. God led him to the second earth, the Adamah, where is light reflected from its own sky.
After the murder of Abel, Cain was sent back to the Erez. Accepting his penitence, God permitted him to ascend to the third earth, the Arka, which receives some light from the sun.
In the Ge, the fourth earth, live the generation of the tower of Babel and their descendants - it is not far from Gehenna, close to the flaming fire.
The inhabitants of the Ge are skilful in all arts, and accomplished in all sciences, and their abode overflows with wealth.
When an inhabitant of our earth visits them, they give him the most precious thing in their possession, but then they lead him to the Neshiah, the fifth earth, where he becomes oblivious of his origin and his home.
The inhabitants of Neshiah have no memory [Neshiah = forgetting].
The fourth and fifth earths are like the Arka; they have trees, but neither wheat nor any other of the seven species.
The sixth earth, the Ziah, is inhabited by handsome men, who are the owners of abundant wealth, and live in palatial residences, but they lack water, as the name of their territory, Ziah, ‘drought’ indicates.
They hasten to any waterspring that is discovered. They are men of steadfast faith, more than any other class of mankind.
Adam passed all these earths, and came to the Tebel, the seventh earth, the earth inhabited by men.

In the myth of Man (Adam) travelling through all the seven earths is a transparent allegory of the physical and human history of the earth. It is even provided with a suggestion which makes it possible to recognize the periods.

The generation which built the Tower of Babel inhabited the fourth earth; but it goes over to the fifth earth, where the men became oblivious of their origin and their home: those who built the Tower of Babel after the catastrophe are told to forget their language.

In accordance with this scheme the catastrophe which destroyed Babel and dispersed the nations was the fourth one. How are the three previous ones pictured or symbolized?

The first catastrophe was symbolized by the expulsion of Man from the blessed land of Eden. It was not a single human pair; the tradition ascribes to Adam the invention of seventy languages.

Hebrew mythology ascribes to the period preceding Adam’s expulsion different physical and biological conditions.

The sun was shining permanently on the earth and the Garden of Eden, placed in the East, it must be conceived, was under the permanent rays of the dawn. The earth was not watered by rain, but mist was ascending from the earth and falling as dew upon the leaves.

The plants looked only to the earth for nourishment.

Man was of exceedingly great stature.

The dimensions of Man’s body were gigantic.

His appearance was unlike that of the later men.

The body was overlaid with a horny skin.

But Man did not keep the precepts of his Creator and a day came, and

The sun had grown dark the instant Adam became guilty of disobedience.

The flames of the ever-turning sword terrified Adam. In another legend it is told that celestial light shone a little while in the darkness. And then

The celestial light ceased, to the consternation of Adam, who feared that the serpent would attack him in the dark.

The illumination of the first period never returned.

Anticipating the wickedness of the sinful generations of the deluge and the Tower of Babel, who were unworthy to enjoy the blessing of such light. God concealed it, but in the world to come it will appear to the pious in all its pristine glory.

The sky that Man saw never appeared before him again.

The firmament is not the same as the heavens of the first day.

The moon was bigger before, and suddenly grew smaller,

“because he spake ill of the sun.” “As a punishment thou mayest keep but one sixtieth of thy light.”

The moon, says the Aggada, was envious and desired to be brighter than the sun. According to another legend:

The moon alone laughed when all the celestial beings were grieved by the transgressions of Adam, wherefore God obscured her light.
Instead of shining steadily she must be born and reborn again and again.

The earth, too, had to suffer punishment.

Independent before, she was hereafter to wait to be watered by the rain from above. She must produce all sorts of noxious vermin;
thenceforth she was to be divided into valleys and mountains;
she must grow barren trees, bearing no fruit; thorns and thistles sprout from her;
much is sown in the earth, but little is harvested.

Man (Adam) shrank in size.

A vast difference between his later and his former state—between his supernatural size then and his shrunken size now.

The punishment of Adam was manifold:

The food he ate was to be turned from good into bad; his children were to wander from land to land; his body was to exude sweat,

and he lost his horny skin.

It was but since the fall of Man, according to the Aggada, that the sun set for the first time.

The first time Adam witnessed the sinking of the sun he was seized with anxious fears. All the night he spent in tears. When day began to dawn, he understood that what he had deplored was but the course of nature.

It was also since the same time that the days began to grow shorter and again longer. And this is told in the following story:

Cast out of the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve sat in great distress, mourning and lamenting.
Adam noticed that the days were growing shorter and feared lest the world be darkened on account of his sin, and go under soon.
But after the winter solstice, when he saw that the days grew longer again, he spent eight days in rejoicing.

The narrator adds: “This is why the heathens celebrate the calends and the saturnalia in honor of their gods, though Adam had consecrated those days to the honor of God.”

The myth presents the foe of Man in the form of a fallen angel, Satan, who was dismissed from the heavenly host, and whose representative on earth, and the cause of the disgrace, was the serpent.

The serpent had previously another appearance.

Before the fall of Man it stood upright, had feet, and was of extraordinary size.
The mouth of the serpent was closed, his hands and feet were hacked off. “Because thou becamest the vessel of the Evil one: Upon thy breast and thy belly shall thou go, and of thy hands and thy feet thou shalt be deprived, Thou shalt not remain in possession of thy ears, nor of thy wings.”

Not only the dragon and Man, whom he had brought into distress altered their ways, but the whole of nature as well. Thistles and thorns were generated by the soil. The variety of species diminished. The change was brought about partly in connection with the sin of Cain.

Earth quaked under Cain. The ground changed and deteriorated at the very moment of Abel’s violent death.
The trees and the plants in the part of the earth whereon the victim lived, refused to yield their fruits, and only at the birth of Seth they began to bear again. But never did they resume their former power.
While, before, the wine had borne nine hundred and twenty-six different varieties of fruit, it now brought forth but one kind. And so it was with all other species.

The third generation—that of Enosh—was also told to have been visited by disgrace.

God caused the sea to transgress its bounds, and a portion of the earth was flooded. This was the time also when the mountains became rocks, and the dead bodies of man began to decay.
For the sin of idolatry the following generations were no longer in the likeness and image of God: they resembled apes.

Since that time came a greater change in the habits of human beings:

The remnants of men began to trespass against the birds, beasts, reptiles, and fishes, eating their flesh and drinking their blood.

It was in the celestial harmony and disharmony that the secrets of the upheavals were conceived to lie; this was known to mankind already in the Adamite age, according to the Aggada.

In Hebrew mystic teachings there is the story of the book of the Angel Raziel.

After Adam’s expulsion from the Garden of Eden he prayed to God:
“Grant me knowledge and understanding, that I may know what shall befall me, and my posterity, and all the generations that come after me, and what shall befall me on every day and in every month.” There appeared to him the angel Raziel, bearing a book in his hand.
“Thy words were heard. I have received the charge to teach thee pure words and deep understanding, to make thee wise through the contents of the sacred book in my hand.
And all thy descendants and all the later generations, if they -will but read this book in purity, with a devout heart and an humble mind, will, too, foreknow what things shall happen, and in what month and on what day or in what night. All will be manifest to them -they will know and understand whether a calamity will come...” At the moment when Adam took the book, a flame of fire shot up and the angel rose heavenward with it.

Adam of the Aggada invented seventy languages, Cain his son built cities and monuments and ruled over kings. They were representatives of generations. It is also said that the measure of the Genesis— “a day” —is meant to be a God’s day, or a thousand years. Thus Adam, who lived 930 years, did not live even one day:

“Now, ye know not what manner of day I meant—one of My days of a thousand years, or one of your days.”

The science about the times in which calamity could return and fall on our earth was cultivated among populations that had a vivid remembrance of days of misfortune or of lucky escape.

It is told about the children of Seth, the son of Adam that

they were the inventors of that peculiar sort of wisdom which is concerned with the heavenly bodies and their order.
And that their inventions might not be lost before they were sufficiently known, they made two pillars upon Adam’s prediction that the world was to be destroyed at one time by the force of fire and at another time by the violence and quantity of water.
The one was of brick, the other of stone, and they inscribed their discoveries on both, that in case the pillar of brick should be destroyed by the flood, the pillar of stone might remain, and exhibit these discoveries to mankind, and also inform them that there was another pillar, of brick, erected by them.

This means that stelae with calendric and astronomical calculations were made public knowledge in the second or third era. According to the Aggada it was the pious Enoch (the seventh generation) who achieved the deepest knowledge of the celestial secret. He was the man who

walked with God: and he was not; for God took him. (Genesis 5:24)

In this ascension to heaven was taken away the man who more than any other knew the plan of the world, and of its creation. He had already visited heaven in his vision

Once before he had been permitted to see all there is on earth and in the heavens. Once, a time when he was sleeping, a great grief came upon his heart and he wept in his dream, not knowing what the grief meant, nor what would happen to him.

Two men, their faces shone like the sun, their wings were brighter than gold, their hands whiter than snow, said to him: “Be of good cheer, be not afraid; the everlasting God hath sent us to thee, and lol to-day thou shalt ascend with us into heaven. And tell thy sons and thy servants, and let none see thee, till the Lord bring thee back to them.”

He saw all the seven heavens.

He saw the fifteen myriads of angels who go out with the sun and attend him during the day, and the thousand angels who attend him by night.
Each angel has six wings, and they go before the chariot of the sun, while one hundred angels keep the sun warm, and light it up...
They showed him also the six gates in the east by which the sun goes forth, and the six gates where he sets, and also the gates by which the moon goes out, and those by which she enters.

In another variant of the Book of Enoch it is said:

I went to the West to the end of the earth. And I saw a burning fire which ran without resting, and paused not from its course day or night, but ran regularly.
And I asked saying: “What is this which rests not?” Then Raguel, one of the holy angels who was with me, answered me and said unto me:
“This course of fire which thou hast seen is the fire in the west which persecutes all the luminaries of heaven.” —
The Book of Enoch, p. 23

Enoch in his prophetic vision reached the seventh

In the seventh heaven he saw the seven bands of archangels who arrange and study the revolutions of the stars and the changes of the moon and the revolution of the sun, and superintend the good and evil conditions of the world.
After he had received all the instructions from the archangel. God revealed unto him the great secret, which even the angels do not know.
He told him how, out of the lowest darkness, the visible and the invisible were created, how he formed heaven, light, water, and earth, and also the fall of Satan and the creation and sin of Adam He narrated to him, and further revealed to him that the duration of the world will be seven thousand years, and the eighth millennium will be a time when there is no computation, no end, neither years, nor months, nor weeks, nor days, nor hours.
Go upon the earth, and tell thy sons what things I have said to thee. Give them the works written out by thee and the writings of thy fathers, and they shall read them, and shall distribute the books to their children’s children and from generation to generation and from nation to nation.
The account of what I shall do may not be lost in thy family in the deluge to come. For on account of the wickedness and iniquity of men, I will bring a deluge upon the earth.
A numerous generation will rise again, I will show them the books of thy writings and of thy father, and the guardians of them on earth will show them to men who are true and please me. And they shall tell to another generation.

The Book of Enoch recites the vision that visited him,

“I had laid me down in the house of my grandfather when I saw a vision how the heaven collapsed and was borne off and fell to the earth.

And when it fell to the earth, I saw how the earth was swallowed up in a great abyss, and mountains were suspended on mountains, and hills sank down on hills, and high trees were rent from their stems, and hurled down and sunk in the abyss.” —The Book of Enoch 83: 3-5

Enoch assembled his sons and instructed them faithfully about all the things he had seen, heard, and written down, and he gave his books to his sons, to keep them and read them, admonishing them not to conceal the books, but tell them to all desiring to know.

After thirty days the Lord sent darkness upon the earth, and there was gloom, and it hid the men standing with Enoch. And the angels hasted and took Enoch, and carried him to the highest heaven. And the people saw, and did not understand how Enoch was taken.

He was a great man in his generation.

Kings and princes, no less than one hundred and thirty in number, assembled about him, and submitted themselves to his dominion, to be taught and guided by him. Peace reigned thus over the whole world for all the two hundred and forty-three years during which the influence of Enoch prevailed.

The story of his ascension is drawn also in these features: Enoch predicted the disaster.

Enoch was carried into the heavens in a fiery chariot drawn by fiery chargers. The day thereafter, the kings who had turned back in good time sent messengers to inguire into the fate of the men who had refused to separate themselves from Enoch, for they had noted the number of them. They found snow and great hailstones upon the spot whence Enoch had risen, and, when they searched beneath, they discovered the bodies of all who had remained behind with Enoch; he alone was not among them; he was on high in heaven.

What the Aggada means to tell is that a human being -and one gifted with the greatest “wisdom concerning the heavenly bodies and their order”, was brought away in a fiery storm, which killed many, brought snow and meteorites, and which had been predicted by that one who disappeared.

In this story the seven heavens correspond to seven millennia; the six changes, those that have occurred or are still to occur, correspond to the six gates of the sun and the moon; the eighth revolution and the eighth millennium will have no end, no years, no time; this millennium means endlessness in chaos.

Some exact knowledge of the revolutions of the bodies in the sky is ascribed here to the antediluvian generations.

The myth says that Enoch was transformed into one of the celestial host.

His body was turned into celestial fire—his flesh became fire, his bones glimmering coals, the light of his eyes heavenly brightness, his eyeballs torches of fire, his hair a flaring blaze, all his limbs and organs .burning sparks, and his frame a consuming fire. To the right of him sparkled flames of fire, to the left of him burned torches of fire, and on all sides he was engirdled by storm and whirlwind, hurricane and thundering.

It was with the last day of the long age of Methuselah, the long-living son of Enoch, that the next catastrophe began. Seven days before the deluge

The people heard a great commotion in the heavens, and saw as if nine hundred of celestial mourners in the sky were deploring the end of the age.

After these “seven days of grace” when frightful sights and sounds were seen and heard, began the deluge. The deluge and its time had already been predicted by Enoch, and even more ancient generations were said to have erected tablets with calendric and astronomical calculations predicting the catastrophe.(1)

It is said that the real period of grace endured for 120 years. During this time the flood was over mankind as a threat.

But men did not abandon their evil ways; the very favorable conditions under which they lived contributed to their sinfulness.

They knew neither toil nor care, and as a consequence of their extraordinary prosperity, they grew insolent.

In the last seven days before the deluge, when the terrifying signs and commotion filled the heavens, in those “last days of respite.” God changed the way of nature—as already stated.

“After seven days” [Gen. 7:4, 10] - in these seven days the Holy One changed the order of the creation and the sun was rising in the west and setting in the east.—Talmud Sanhedrin, Fol. 108b:

Then began the deluge.

All the fountains of the great deep were broken, and the windows of heaven were opened. (Genesis 7:11)

The water was extracted from the earth and driven to the surface, and at the same time a rain poured—not out of the clouds, but out of heaven, even out of a definite direction.

The upper waters rushed through the space left when God removed two stars out of the constellation Pleiades.

These upper waters were hot, not as waters of a common rain.

The sinners were hot (in their sin) and were punished by a hot rain,
God bade each drop pass through Gehenna before it fell to earth.
—Talmud Sanhedrin Fol. 108b

Since the day when the waters flooded through the “windows of heaven” and during the deluge, the sun was veiled, and the earth trembled and volcanoes erupted.

The Lord shaked that day the whole earth, the sun was darkened, and the foundation of the earth trempled, and all the earth vomited lava, lightnings flashed, thunders roared, and a loud din grew all over the earth, as never known before to its inhabitants.(2)
All the time the deluge lasted the sun and the moon shed no light.

The story of the ark is well known from the biblical tale. The Aggada adds details; The waters were in no way quiet; it was dark outside; the inside of the ark was illuminated by a precious stone.

The flood began to toss the ark from side to side. All inside of it were shaken up like lentils in a pot. The lions began to roar, the oxen lowed, the wolves howled, and all the animals gave vent to their agony.

The duration of the flood is described differently—forty days and also much longer.(3)

Like the former catastrophe of the fall of man, this catastrophe of the deluge, according to the Hebrew cosmogony, changed the nature of herb, animal, and man. The prosperity of the time before the great flood was gone without return; the world lay in ruins. The earth was changed—even the sky was not the same.

The continents changed their places in the former and in this catastrophe. The areas where now the shores of the Mediterranean sea are, were once the shores of an open ocean: this may be concluded from the following statement, if true:

Before Noah, the sea was in the habit of transgressing its bounds twice daily, morning and evening. Afterwards, it kept within its confines.

The constellations of the sky in this part of the world, it seems, moved after the deluge from their place.

To put a stop to the flood. God had to transfer two stars from the constellation of the Bear to the constellation of the Pleiades. That is why the Bear runs after the Pleiades. She wants her two children back, but they will be restored to her only in the future world.

Before the deluge there were peoples of gigantic size. The first man grew smaller after the fall, but his dimensions were still great, and after each catastrophe the giants became increasingly rare.

A myth of the Hebrews and of many other peoples knows to recite the story of some beings called ‘the sons of God’ who came from the universe, or from another planet, and whose offspring with the women of the earth were giants.

The sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
(Genesis 6: 2, 4)

‘There is nothing new under the sun.’ The fancy about the men from Mars of modern novelists was already a legend and a tradition of old. Enoch was brought away in a cyclone of stones. The sons of God of the heaven reached the earth.

The Emim, Rephaim, Zamzumim or Anakim, races of giants, were supposed to be the descendants of these sons of heaven. Few of them succeeded to survive the later catastrophes, those that followed the deluge, and were destroyed entirely shortly afterwards.

From the huge species that were found on the earth in former times, fewer and fewer specimens survived through the ages» and those only in remote countries, where they were still said to be seen, and were described by the travellers of Biblical times. Their fantsy was impressed especially by the greatest sea-animal, leviathan, the greatest mammal “Behemoth,”(4) the greatest of the reptiles “reem,” and the greatest among volata, “ziz.”

Leviathan is more than merely large and strong. His fins radiate brilliant light. His food consists of the fish which go bet-ween his jaws of their own accord. When he is hungry a hot breath blows from his nostrils. “So enormous is leviathan that to quench his thirst he needs all the water that flows from the Jordan into the sea.” As leviathan is the most notable representative of the fishkind, so behemoth is the most notable representative of the mammal kind.
Behemoth matches leviathan in strength, and he had to be prevented, like leviathan, from multiplying and increasing, else the world could not have continued to exist;
after God had created him male and female He at once deprived him of the desire to propagate his kind.
Formidable though behemoth is, he feels insecure until he is certain that leviathan has satisfied his thirst.

When the leviathan and the behemoth will enter a duel with each other

the issue will be that both will drop dead, behemoth slaughtered by a blow of leviathan’s fins, and leviathan killed by a lash of behemoth’s tail.

With these descriptions (sometimes exaggerated like all travelers’ stories), the cosmogony and natural science of the Hebrews belabor a field which seems to be restituted by the excavations of fossils.

The combat of the monsters was verified by the finding of their bones together, from the position of which a duel and a devouring of one by the other was imagined.

The question was asked, what could have been the defensive or offensive weapon of the brontosaur, the largest of these animals? ; no horns, no strong teeth, no nails to attack. In the above description the answer, and a plausible one, is delivered: they struck with their mighty tails, about thirty feet long.

The peer of the leviathan and behemoth between the reptiles was reem, a giant animal which was so rare in the time it was described that the traveler stated: “only one couple, male and female, was in existence”.

The act of copulation results in the death of the male. He is bitten by the female and dies of the bite. At the end of a long period she gives birth to twins, a male and a female. The year preceding her delivery she is not able to move. For a whole year the animal can but roll from side to side, until finally her belly bursts, and the twins issue forth. Their appearance is thus the signal for the death of the mother reem.
Its horns measure one hundred ells, and their height is a great deal more.

In the realm of birds ziz is the king.

When, at the time of the autumnal equinox, it uses to flap its -wings and utter its cry, the birds of prey, the eagles and the vultures blench.

The travelers reported that:

“Its wings are so huge that unfurled, they darken the sun.”

Even greater exaggerations were composed, e.g., that it is able to protect the earth against the storm of the south. The huge animal, the narrator agrees, could not be placed in the Ark of Noah. The survival of one of them is explained in a childish manner: it was tied to the ark and swam behind it.

Other animals were described. In the name of Enoch was told about the existence of

flying creatures, wonderful and strange in appearance, with the feet and tails of lions, and the heads of crocodiles; their appearance is of a purple color like the rainbow.

Leaving aside the color, which cannot be proved from the fossils, the bones of an animal of this description may be identified with the fossils of the Pterodactyl.

Through time only a few of these huge animals remained, and these even were “deprived of the desire to propagate their kind” ; they were not equipped to bear their monstrous mass upon the earth, when the conditions of gravitation changed with the change of the orbit. Only with great difficulty could they support themselves on their hind legs; in a state of pregnancy they were not able any more to erect themselves.

The places from where the travelers brought the stories of these animals were situated beyond the ocean.

The ocean is situated to the west, and it is dotted with islands upon islands, inhabited by many different peoples. Beyond it, in turn, are the boundless steppes full of serpents and scorpions...
To the north of it are the supplies of snow, hail, ice, darkness and windstorms.

The Hebrew history of developments in the animal knows also to relate about other changes, occurrence of which belongs to the period of the deluge.

Before the catastrophe of the deluge

the dog united with the wolf, the cock with the pea-fowl, and many others paid no heed to sexual purity.

The “impurity” was abandoned; but the sentiment of repulsion of one species against other species grew, and developed into cruelty.

Cats and mice, foes now, were friends originally.
Similarly, dogs and cats maintained a friendly relation to each other, and only later on became enemies.

A legend connected with the sojourn of the animals in the ark brings the belief that

Even the physical peculiarities of certain animals were not original features with them, but owed their existence to something that occurred subsequent to the creation.

It was asserted that the mole lost its eyes, the frog its teeth, and the mouth of the mouse became widened, and a fable connected with the sojourn in the ark was appropriated to this alleged metamorphosis.

Lesser changes in the haircover of the steer were described in another tale.

Before the deluge the animals that are impure (for food) were in large majority; after the deluge the proportion was inverted. This tradition might be the source of the legend about the presence of seven pairs of pure and only one pair of impure animals in the ark.

As in animals, so in the human being, the sexual inclination to unite himself with not of his kind was said to have been changed into a hostile attitude towards his own kind and sex.

The descendants of Noah began to quarrel and slay, eat blood, wage wars, people against people, and nations against nations and cities against cities and do all manner of evil.

According to this cosmogony and natural history, the hunger for flesh and the thirst for blood was an obvious result of the catastrophe. Was it a sudden anemia, due to changes in the atmosphere, the oxygen of which, with the exogenous hydrogen became the water of the flood? It is said:

After the flood each and all began to bite.

And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air. (Geensis)

And every moving thing that liveth became meat of the human being like the green herb of the soil.

Restriction was to be put upon the vampirous lust:

But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
And surely your blood of your lives will I require.
(Genesis 9:4-5)

Those animals and men who escaped the catastrophe with their lives were rescued, only to start a struggle of annihilation among themselves.

This stimulated lust of sadism is a corollary of the inversion of the sexual impulse. The story is told in Genesis. Ham tried to execute on his father the act of castration, or an indefinite act also belonging to the complex of inversion.

But another Aggadic story ascribes the carnivorous lust to the impulse implanted in the generations of the giants by their forefathers, who had once come as “sons of God” from the sky to this earth. Together with the longing for blood they are said to have brought their knowledge in every field of science, and especially in astronomy and astrology. This legend is in discord with the legend about the book of the angel Raziel brought to the first generation.

With the spread of mankind, corruption increased.

A civilization was destroyed the real value of which is incalculable. In the next age the whole population of the earth amounted to a few millions. Even this number if brought forth from a few rescued families is very large, but the Aggadist admits this amount:

Ten years before Noah’s death, the number of subjects to the three princess Nimrod, Joktan and Phenech amounted to millions.

The knowledge of astronomy and the secrets of its reckoning were rescued and it is said in this manner and variant:

God gave to Adam the book of the angel Raziel, which he studied day and night...
Upon the death of Adam, the holy book disappeared, but later the cave in which it was hidden, was revealed to Enoch in a dream.
It was from this book that Enoch drew his knowledge of nature, of the earth and of the heavens; and he became so wise through it, his wisdom exceeded the wisdom of Adam.
Once he had committed it to memory Enoch hid the book again.
When God resolved upon bringing the flood on the earth. He sent the archangel Raphael to Noahs “I give thee the holy book, that all the secrets and mysteries written therein may be made manifest unto thee.
Noah took the book, and when he studied it, the holy spirit came upon him, and he knew all things needful for the building of the ark.
The book, which was made of sapphires, he took with him into the ark, having first enclosed it in a golden basket.
All the time he spent in the ark it served him as a time-piece, to distinguish night from day.
Before his death he entrusted it to Shem, and he in turn to Abraham. From Abraham it descended through Jaacob, Levi, Mose and Joshua to Solomon.

This might even have been the knowledge of months, years and periods of comets that the remote generations had acquired—and the hope grew into faith that no such or similar destruction would come any more to decimate mankind.

A new and till then unknown atmospheric phenomenon was said to be the rainbow. In this colored reflection of the sun in small and suspended drops of water the rescued believed to see the divine promise not to repeat the flood.

The next destruction was that of the tower of Babel. A strong commotion caused that a part of the tower sank into the earth; another part was consumed by fire. Remained only a rest...

[The builders of the tower] were scattered from thence upon the face of all the earth... The Lord did there confound the language of all the earth. ( Genesis 11:8-9)

(In Arabic traditions the destruction and the subsequent confusion of memory was related to the south of Arabia: it was a paramount catastrophe).

In the Aggadic cosmogony this generation is called “the people of men who lost their memory” ; the earth they inhabited was “the fifth earth”, that of oblivion.

Whether the Hebrew cosmogony reckoned one more destruction of universal character to occur between the time of the deluge and the Exodus depends on the following:

Altogether six catastrophes are supposed to have occurred, and we live on “the seventh earth”. The later catastrophe of the time of Joshua is not reckoned. The catastrophes of the Exodus could be numbered as two: one in Egypt and one at the shores of the Red Sea. If they were thought of as one, the fifth catastrophe would have been either in the time of Abraham, when in an upheaval the earth swallowed the tetrapolis, or, more probably, in the time of Peleg, about whom it is said: “in his days was the earth divided.” (Genesis 10:25.) The meaning is likely to be: “when the continents were separated”.

It is some lost knowledge that is concealed in these few words. In antiquity the traditions were vivid, were guarded as precious knowledge, and transmitted from generation to generation. It is said that Serug son of Reu taught his son Nahor the arts of the Chaldeans and the signs of the heavens; a legend told that when Abraham was born “one great star came from the east and ran athwart the heavens and swallowed up the four stars at the four corners.” It is said that in the days of Abraham the planet Jupiter appeared in the east instead of in the west;(5) it is said that Abraham during his sojourn in Egypt

taught the inhabitants of that country astronomy and astrology, unknown in Egypt before his time.

The sixth earth is called Ziah, the earth which thirsts for water; her inhabitants rush to any place where they hope to find a well. This description is in accord with the stories of the patriarchs, the wells being the object of dispute. But with even more justification the earth Ziah or the sixth earth would fit the time following the Exodus, when brooks disappeared, the populations of entire countries wandered to find pastures.

The description of the catastrophe of the Exodus was narrated in extenso in Worlds in Collision; here it will be only mentioned in short.

The destruction of the world in the days of the Exodus was not smaller than in the days of the deluge. It closed, in the conception of the Hebrews, the age of creation. The hurricane that twice during five or six weeks crossed the orbit of our earth signified the end of the time when the earth and men were to be shaped and reshaped;

the old covenant was kept only in its promise not to bring a paramount flood upon the earth: a flood of fire came instead of the flood of water. The covenant, according to the moral conception of the Hebrews, was a reciprocal deed. The one partner, that who was obliged not to shed the blood of the fellow-man was in no way a fair accomplisher of his part of the covenant.

The Israelites were tortured in Egypt. More than one legend insists that the Israelites when behind the imposed number of bricks, were punished in a cruel manner which had to horrify them and keep them in a steady check: Israelite children were put into the mortar and inserted into the walls, between the rows of bricks. There is nothing improbable in this story.

The world was shattered, and it reeled to and fro as a reed in the wind. In a crescendo came the ten plagues.

First came the thin red coloring dust; the hot blast brooded the insects and small reptiles, quick in multiplying. Unquietude seized all creatures, and they began to migrate. Then, when the earth was deeper in the trail of the comet, meteorites flew and killed everything in the field; then followed the neck of the comet and a “touchable darkness” that endured for three days; when the head of the comet passed just at its closest approach to the surface of our earth in darkness of charcoal and night, an earthquake of immense power ruined every house everywhere.

When six weeks later the Hebrews were .at the Red Sea the head of the comet was approaching on its return from perihelion. The last night before its arrival darkness again draped the world.

It was a cloud and darkness but it gave light by night. (Exodus 14:20)

The Aggada says: the darkness at the Red Sea was the same darkness of Egypt that returned once more.

The atmospheric and hydrospheric parts of the planet are the most likely to be driven towards a new gravitational field. Just as in the days of the deluge when the waters of the deep and lava were driven out of the core of the planet to its surface, the waters of the ocean and of every sea were heaped high in double tides; on the other side of the planet the waters ran asunder to find the nearest possible place to the celestial body that was passing close by; and the air moved still swifter, tossed and driven in the encounter of two celestial bodies: it was a hurricane, this “strong East wind all the night” (Exodus 14:21).

Lava flowed like in the days of the deluge; the earth trembled; the mountains melted; lands rose and others submerged; springs disappeared in one place and appeared in another; cultivable land, desert and sea, all changed their places. The desert was showered with inflammable fluid, and months and years later ignited over and again; the earth cracked and swallowed men and beasts.

The Hebrew tradition ascribes to Moses the prediction of most of these phenomena, especially of those which took place in Egypt. The Hebrew legends ascribe to him also the knowledge of the celestial movements and the art of prediction. If the periods were known to him, he could prophesy guided not only by his spirit, but also by his knowledge.

In the pitiless destruction by tempest and fire the Israelite refugees were graced; they saw nature keep the old faith and old covenant with them; not only were they graced, they were saved by the destructions. A few weeks later they stood around the mountain of Horeb and heard in a stormy night of a roaring desert the ten commandments. A new covenant was closed between the Creator of the universe and a people roaming around in a trackless desert, in a time when the entire world became once more void and waste. For them it was a rebirth of freedom.

The work of creation and the repeated reshaping of the earth and man were accomplished. It began the seventh day which lasts up to today and will last up to the final destruction.

According to the initial Hebrew conception of the creation, which I tried to reconstruct here, the six ages were terminated by six destructions; the world of today is the result of six metageneses. The story of the first chapters of the Bible is of a later, mythological, and very probably alien origin. The “six-day creation” is a mythological remodeling of an historical knowledge or belief. The whole of ancient history preceding the Exodus is the time of genesis, and therefore is also included in the book of Genesis.

With the Exodus, the end of Genesis, and the new flow of time, a new calendar was to be established.

And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying, This month shall be unto you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you. (Exodus 12:1-2)

The seventh age which started since then shall not be interrupted until the end of the world; the world in the perception of the remainder was by a hair breadth near to peril, and the next time it would not survive.

The sabbath, the seventh day, is a symbol and an assurance that no other metagenetic catastrophe will come. In keeping this solemn day of rest on the seventh day, the creator is implored to refrain from reshaping the earth similarly.

The seventh day was simultaneously the symbol of the grace displayed by Providence to slaves chased by their pursuers and a memorial to the Exodus. It had to become the day of freedom to all who work, man and animal.

The prayer of the Jews on the evening of Saturday, composed of two old fragments, brings together: the end of creation and the final harmony among the heavenly host, stars and planets; the beginning of a new time-reckoning from the last act of genesis, and the leaving of Egypt, house of bondage.

The sixth day. Accomplished were heaven and earth and all their host. And God accomplished at the seventh day all work He did, and abstained in the seventh day from all work He did. And God blessed the seventh day.
Blessed be God, Lord of the universe, who sanctified us by his ordinances and who was benevolent to us, and in love and good will gave us the day of rest, the memorial to the act of genesis, because this day is the beginning of the reckoning of days, memory of the Exodus from Egypt. Thou didst choose us, and didst sanctify us from amidst all the peoples. And the sabbath, thy holy one, in love and good will thou endowest us. Blessed be the Lord, who sanctifies the day of rest.

The assembling of three different causes for the establishment of the sabbath would seem to be a confusion, had they not been simultaneous occurrences: the last act of creation, the new flow of time, the Exodus from Egypt.

Some fifty years passed since the morning at the Red Sea. The world was once more in flames. Once more it was brought out of its path. But what happened in the days of Joshua, when the sun and the moon stood in the heaven and hot stones in myriads fell on this earth -was minimized in the Hebrew tradition. A combustion of the world was an episode, though a main episode, in the life of this disciple of Moses, who was said to be the successor of the knowledge of Enoch, and who could know what may happen after the rain of stones announced the approached of the still unvanished errant planet; on his grave was inserted a memorial inscription to the event, which was emphasized as of no equals the Lord listened to the wish of a mortal who ordered the sun and the moon to stop and fulfilled his wish.

But this time the Israelites were the offenders; therefore the link of ethos and pathos lacked between the cosmic event and the assault by the Israelites.


  1. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 11.8, borrowed by Yashar Bereshit l0a: These tablets with their Hebrew characters could still be seen on some island in India in the time of Alexander the Great. (L. Ginzberg, Legends, vol. V, p. 149).

  2. Sefer Hayashar, new edition by L. Goldschmidt.

  3. It appears that the tradition of “a year” of the deluge led to confusion in calculations, and the traces of this confusion seem to be found in the double redaction of the story of the deluge. The age of Noah when he married is told by the Aggada to have been 498 years; this would indicate that the year was shorter; it could still consist of a number of months, but not of months of thirty days; the days themselves could have been shorter.

  4. Talmud, Shabbat 156.

  5. Behemeoth means the “huge animal” or “animals”—not to be identified with the behemoth of today.