THE TESTAMENT OF ABRAHAM
The Testament of Abraham is a Jewish work, probably of Egyptian origin, which is generally dated to the end of the first century CE. It is most closely related to the Testaments of Isaac and Jacob. The text exists in two major recensions, but the original text cannot be found. The long version is attested by a large number of Greek manuscripts and supported by a Romanian version. The short version is attested by several Greek manuscripts and supported by the Slavonic version, another Romanian version, and by the Coptic, Arabic and Ethiopian versions. The earliest extant testimony is a fragmentary Coptic text of the fifth century. What follows is a collection of the long and the short version.
Our father Abraham lived more than 175 years. In his lifetime he was vigorous, very gentle, compassionate and just towards all, and very hospitable. He dwelt not far from the place called Dria the Black, at the cross-road by which all strangers had to pass. He received the wayfarers and entertained them. Rich and poor, kings and princes, boyards and voyevods, all neighbours, the weak and the sick, all were treated with the greatest kindness, for Abraham was good and just, and loving all men, till he attained to extreme old age, and the time and the hour drew nigh when he was to taste the cup of death.
It came to pass when the days of Abraham's death drew nigh, that the Lord said unto Michael: “Go down, Michael, to my friend Abraham, and remind him of death, so that he may set the affairs of his household in order ere he die. for I have promised him to increase his property and to multiply his descendants like the stars of heaven and like the sand of the sea. And I have blessed him. Therefore he is now richer and more just than all in his goodness and hospitality which he displays until his end.
The Archangel visits Abraham, and at last the object of his mission is disclosed
And the archangel Michael, who sat before the Lord, went out of His presence and descended to Abraham and found him sitting before his oxen for plowing, and he was exceedingly aged in form, and he was holding his son in his arms.
Abraham seeing him, thought he was a soldier, being so modest and fair in his appearance
So Abraham saw the archangel Michael, and arose from the ground and saluted him, not witting who it was and said unto him: “May God keep thee safe! Mayest thou continue on thy journey prosperously.
And Michael Answered him: “Thou art a kind, and noble father.
And Abraham answered and said unto him: “Come, draw nigh unto me, brother, and sit thou down a short season, that I may order a beast to be brought, that we may depart unto my house, and that thou mayest abide with me, for it is nigh unto eventide. Early in the morning rise up and go whithersoever thou listest, lest any evil beast meet thee and wound thee. ”
And Michael inquired of Abraham and said: “Tell me thy name before I enter thy house, lest I be burdensome unto thee.”
Abraham answered and said: “My parents named me Abram, and the Lord gave me a new name, Abraham, saying: - A rise, and journey from thy house and from thy kindred, even hither into a land which I shall show you. And when I had departed into the land which the Lord showed me, he said unto me, Thy name shall no more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham. ”
Michael answered and said unto him: “Pardon me, my father, man that hast been cared for by God, for I am a stranger, and I heard concerning thee when you didst depart a space of forty furlongs, and didst take a calf, and offer it, entertaining angels in thy house that they might rest. ”
Thus conversing the two of them arose, and went within the house.
Then Abraham called one of his servants and said to him: “Go, bring me a beast of burden that the stranger may sit thereon, for he is weary from his journey.”
And Michael said: “Trouble not the boy, because I do not ride on a beast with four legs. Oh, thou righteous soul, let us go on foot to thy pure abode, for I love thy companionship.”
They arose and began to go, and as they drew near to the city, about three furlongs away, they found a mighty fruit-tree having three hundred branches like unto a tamarisk. And the tree exclaimed, by the will of God. with a loud voice of man: "Holy one! Holy one! Holy one! The Lord God calls thee!"
And Abraham held his peace, and replied not, for he thought the angel had not heard the voice of the tree.
And Abraham hid the mystery in his heart, saying to himself: “What, then, is the mystery which I have heard?”
And as they came within the house Abraham said to his servants: “Arise, go out to the flocks, and bring three lambs, and slay them quickly, and serve them, that we may eat and drink; for this day is a day of good cheer. ”
And the servants brought the sheep, and Abraham called his son Isaac, and said unto him: “Son Isaac, rise up, take the basin and pour in some water, so that we may wash the feet of this stranger, who comes from afar to us, and who is weary.”
And Isaac ran to the well and poured water into the basin and brought it.
And Abraham went to wash the feet of the angel.
Then said Abraham: “I have a feeling of what shall even come to pass, that in this bowl I shall never again wash the feet of a stranger entertained by us.” and Abraham sighed and wept on account of this stranger
And when Isaac heard his father speaking these words, he wept and said unto him: “My father, what is this that thou saidst, 'Tis the last time for me to wash a stranger's feet?”
And Abraham saw his son weeping, and he himself wept too exceedingly.
And the angel seeing them both weeping, wept with them, and his tears fell down into the basin. And these tears turned into precious stones. And when Abraham beheld this miracle, he took away the jewels and hid the secret in his heart.
Now when Sarah heard their lamenting, she being within her house, came out and spoke to Abraham: “Why is it that ye weep thus, my lord?”
Abraham answered and said unto her: “Tis nought evil, go in into thy abode and do thine own business lest we become troublesome to the stranger.”
So Sarah went in, as she was minded to make ready the supper.
And the sun approached the setting, and Michael went out from the house and was caught up into the heavens to worship in the presence of God, for at sunset all angels worship God, and the same Michael is first of the angels. And all worshiped and departed, each unto his place.
But Michael answered in the presence of God and said: “Lord, bid me be questioned in the presence of thy holy glory.”
And the Lord said to Michael: “dell what thou desirest.”
The archangel answered and said: “Lord, thou didst send me to Abraham to say unto him: - Depart thou from out of thy body, and go thou from the world. The Lord doth call thee. And I do not dare, Lord, to show myself to him, for he is thy friend and a righteous man, compassionate, and avoiding all evil. But I beseech thee, Lord, bid the remembrance of Abraham's death to enter into his own heart, and let me not tell it to him. For 'tis great abruptness to say: - Depart from the world; and above all from his own body."
Then said the Lord unto Michael: “Arise, go to Abraham, and sojourn with him, and whatever thou seest him eating, eat thou too; and wherever he resteth, rest thou there too. For I will inject the notion of Abraham's death into the heart of Isaac, his son in a dream. ”
And the Lord spake to the angel, "Go to my friend Abraham, and eat of all that which will be put on the table; and I will send My Spirit unto his son Isaac, and I will show him the approach of his father's death, so that he may see all in a dream."
And the angel said, "The incorporeal beings of heaven do not eat, neither do they drink, and he has spread for me a table with all the good things of the earth; and now, O Lord, what shall I do? How can I become different, as we shall be all at one table?"
And the Lord answered him, "Go to My friend Abraham, and do not trouble thyself, for I will send spirits, who shall cause the food to disappear from thy hands and from thy mouth; all that is on the table shall disappear. And rejoice them with him. But thou shalt interpret Isaac's dreams unto him, so that Abraham may know the hour of his death. For he has numberless properties and lands and houses, because I have blessed him, and I have increased his possessions like the sands of the sea and like the stars in heaven."
Then Michael went away to the house of Abraham in that evening and found them making ready the supper.
And Abraham said his prayer, as it was his custom and they ate and drank and made merry.
And after the meal they arose, said a prayer, and sat down.
And Abraham said to his beloved son, "Go into the room and get ready two beds, one for me and the other for the stranger, because he is a wayfarer; and prepare everything well and carefully, and put candles in the candlesticks, and prepare the table, and light the incense-burner, and bring sweet smelling herbs of the paradise and put them on the floor, so that they may scent the place, and light seven candles, and we will sit down and rejoice with the stranger, who is greater than any human being on the earth, and mightier than kings." And Isaac prepared everything carefully, according to the directions of his father. And Abraham went with the angel in the room, where the beds were ready, and they both sat down, one on one bed and one on the other.
And Isaac said to his father, "I should like to sleep here also, because I love with all my heart to listen to the words of this stranger."
Abraham answered him: “Not so, my son, lest we be burdensome to this stranger, but departing, and rest in thine own chamber.”
And Isaac, not wishing to disobey his father's command, received his father's blessing, and went to his bed to rest.
And after the third hour of the night Isaac awoke from his sleep, and arose from his bed, and ran quickly and came to the door of his father's abode, and called aloud: “Father, open, that I may enjoy the sight of thee before they take thee away from me."
And Abraham rose and opened and Isaac entered and hung upon the neck of his father, weeping, and in lamentation he began to kiss him, and Abraham wept with his son.
And Michael saw them weeping, and wept with them.
And Sarah heard the lamentation from her bed-chamber, and knocked, saying: “My Lord Abraham, why this lamentation? Has the stranger told thee concerning thy nephew Lot, that he has died? Or hath aught else unto happened us? ”
And Michael answered and said unto Sarah: “Not so, Sarah, I brought no word concerning Lot. But I knew concerning all your kindness, that ye excel all the men on the earth, and God remembered you.”
Then said Sarah to Abraham: “How didst thou dare to weep when the man of God came in unto thee? And why did thine eyes weep for the man? For today there is gladness. ”
So Abraham said unto her: Whence knowest thou that he is a man of God?
And Sarah answered and said: “Because I declare and tell thee that this is one of the three men who sojourned with us at the oak of Mamre, when one of the slaves went and brought a calf and thou didst sacrifice it. And thou saidst unto me: - Arise, prepare that we may eat with these men in our house.
And Abraham answered and said: “Thou hast bethought thee well, my wife, for I too when I washed his feet knew in my heart that these were the feet which I did wash at the oak of Mamre; and as I began to inquire of his journey, he said: - I go to guard thy kinsman Lot from Sodom; and then I recognized the mystery. ”
Then Abraham said to Michael: “Tell me, man of God, and reveal unto me why thou art come hither.”
Michael said: “Thy son Isaac will declare unto thee.”
And Abraham said to Isaac, "My dear child, tell me truly what has appeared to thee, so that thou camest so frightened to me?"
Isaac answered his father: 'I beheld the sun and the moon, with luminous and far-stretching rays, resting on my head like a crown, and seeing this I was glad; when suddenly the heaven opened and a luminous man of gigantic size shining mightily from heaven, as the light that is called father of the light, descended from heaven. And he removed the sun from my head and ascended to heaven but left behind its rays with me.
And shortly afterwards, while I was still sad, I saw the luminous man again descending from heaven, and he removed the moon from my head. And I wept, and I said to him, "I beseech thee, my lord, do not carry off the glory from my head, and the light of my house, and all my glory. And the sun and the moon and the stars wept, saying: - Do not carry off the glory of our might."
And that radiant man answered and said unto me: - Weep not because I take the light of thy house, for it is taken away from toils into rest, from lowliness into exaltation; they raise him from confinement into spaciousness; they raise him from darkness into light.
I said unto him: - I beseech thee, Lord, also take the rays with him.
He said to me: - Twelve hours of the day there are, and then I will take all the rays.
As the radiant man said these words I saw the sun and my house ascending into heaven, but that crown saw I no more. And that sun was like thee, my father.
And Michael said to Abraham: Thy son Isaac has spoken truth. Listen to me, oh Abraham the just! Thou art the sun, seen by thy son Isaac his father; and the luminous man, descending from heaven, will take away thy soul. For thou shalt go, and be taken up into the heavens, but thy body shall remain upon the earth until seven thousand ages are fulfilled. So now, Abraham, settle the affairs of thine household, and take order concerning thy children, for fully hast thou heard thy fate.
And Abraham replied, "Oh wonderful! I fear thou art the man who will take away my soul!"
And the angel said to Abraham, "I am the angel Michael, the greatest of the angels standing before the Lord; and I announce to thee the news of thy death. And thou wilt come to Him, according to thy covenant."
Then Abraham answered and said unto Michael: “"I entreat thee, angel of the heavenly powers, because thou had honoured me, a sinner, grant me one request. For the Lord God has always given me the things for which I have prayed, and has always fulfilled my wishes. And I know that I shall not escape death, but I shall certainly die. Know, therefore, that I expect that thou wilt fulfil this my request: I should like to see now, whilst still in the flesh, all the peoples which the Lord my God has created in heaven and upon earth. and their deeds”
Michael answered and said: “This is not my anointed work, but I will depart and tell the Lord concerning this, and if I am bidden I will show thee all these works.“
Then Michael went up into the heavens, and spoke concerning Abraham in the presence of the Lord.
And the Lord answered Michael: “Depart, and take up Abraham in the body, and show him all, and whatsoever he sayeth unto thee, do thou for him as he is my friend.
Abraham ascends on a cloud, accompanied by the Archangel, and is shown the secrets of the other world
And the angel descended and took the just Abraham into the clouds and surrounded him with sixty angels.
And Abraham looked down upon the earth, and saw a man committing adultery with a married woman.
And Abraham turned and said to Michael: “Dost thou behold this sin? But, Lord, send fire from heaven that it may devour them.” And immediately fire descended and devoured them; for the Lord had said to Michael: “Whatsoever Abraham shall ask thee to do for him, do thou.”
And again Abraham looked and saw other men slandering their companions, and he said: “Let the earth open and swallow them up.” And while he yet spake, the earth swallowed them up alive.
And again the cloud brought him to another place, and Abraham saw certain men going into a desert place to commit murder; and he said unto Michael: “Dost thou behold this wickedness? But let wild beasts come out from the desert and tear them in pieces. ” And in that very hour there came forth wild beasts from the desert, and devoured them.
And instantly there a voice came from heaven to the angels, and a thunder-clap reached the angel and he heard the words: "Turn round the chariot and depart with Abraham so that he may not see the people any more; for if he sees them living in sin he will destroy them all to the very last," because Abraham could not endure those who did evil.
And the Lord continued: "I have created the world, and I do not wish that any human being shall be destroyed, for I do not desire the death of the wicked, but that he should repent and live. Lead the just Abraham to the first gate of heaven, so that he may see the last judgment, and that he also may repent even more than the sinners."
And the angel turned round Abraham's chariot, and brought him to the first gate of heaven.
And Abraham beheld two paths, one narrow and difficult to pursue, and the other wide and extended. And on the narrow path he saw a man sitting on a golden chair, and his face was terrible like unto God. And a host of angels surrounded him. He was weeping, and, again, laughing, and his lamentation exceeded his laughter sevenfold.
And the marvelous man, when he saw all the wounded and sick souls on the wide way, tore out the hair of his head and of his beard, and he cast himself from his golden chair unto the ground and wept. But when he saw many souls in the narrow path, he rose and sat on his golden chair in joy.
And Abraham said to Michael: “Who is this, that sitteth between the two gates with great glory? At one time he laugheth, and at one time he weepeth. And the lamentation exceedeth the laughter seven-fold? ”
Then Michael said unto Abraham: “Dost thou not know who he is?”
And he said: “No, Lord.”
And Michael said unto Abraham: “Seest thou these two gates, the small and the great? These are they which lead to life and to destruction. And this man who sits between them, this is Adam, the first man whom the Lord created. And He set him in this place to behold every soul that leaves the body; for all are sprung from him. So whenever thou beholdest him weeping, know that he has seen many souls being led away into destruction; but whenever thou seest him laughing, he has seen a few souls being led away into life. Seest thou how the lamentation exceeds the laughter? Because he beholds the most part of the world being led away through the broad gate into destruction, therefore his lamentation exceeds his laughter sevenfold.”
Abraham said: He who cannot enter through the strait gate, can he not enter into life?
Then Abraham wept saying: “Woe is me! What shall I do? I am a man broad in body, and how shall I be able to enter into the strait gate, by which a child of fifteen years cannot enter? ”
Michael answered and said unto Abraham: “Fear thou not, father, neither be grieved, for thou shalt enter through it without hindrance, thou and all like unto thee.”
Now while Abraham stood and marveled, lo, an angel of the Lord driving sixty thousand souls of sinners to destruction, and struck them with a whip of fire.
And he saw the soul of a man brought before the judge by an angel. And the angel said to the judge, "Open the book and see the record of his sins and of his virtues .... and erase them, for he is neither to be condemned nor to be saved; therefore place him in the middle."
And Abraham said unto Michael: “Are all these going to destruction?”
And Michael said unto him: “Yea, but let us go and search among these souls, to see if there be even one of them righteous.
And as they went, they found an angel holding in his hand one soul of a woman from among the sixty thousand, because he found her sins equally balanced with all her works; and they were neither in motion nor at rest, but in a condition midway between them. But those other souls they carried into destruction.
And Abraham said unto Michael: “Lord, is this the angel that removes the souls from the body, or not?”
Michael answered and said: “This is Death, and he leads them away into the place of the judgment, that the judge may judge them.”
The angel came and gave that soul to the judge.
And the soul said: “Have mercy on me, Lord, Lord.”
And the judge said: “How shall I have mercy on thee when thou hadst no mercy on thy daughter which thou didst bear, the fruit of thy womb? Why didst thou slay her? ”
And it answered: “Nay, Lord, the murder came not from me, but my daughter herself lied against me.”
So the judge asked him who wrote the records. And behold, cherubim holding two books; and there was with them a man exceeding great in stature. And he had upon his head three crowns, and one crown was higher than the other two crowns. And the crowns are called crowns of witness; and the man held in his hand a golden pen.
The judge said to him: Show forth the sin of this soul. ”
And that man opened one of the books that belonged unto the cherubim, and sought out the sin of the woman's soul, and found it.
And the judge said: “O wretched soul, how sayest thou that thou didst not do murder? Didst thou not go after thy husband's death, and commit adultery with thy daughter's husband, and slay her? ”
And he convicted her also of her other sins, all that she had done from her youth. When the woman heard these things, she cried out, saying: “Woe, woe is me! because all the sins which I did in the world I forgot; but here they were not forgotten! ”
Then they carried her away, and delivered her to the tormentors.
And Abraham said: “My Lord, I beseech thee that thou bring me up into the place of judgment that I too may see how they are judged.”
Then Michael took Abraham upon a cloud and brought him to the place where the judge was.
And he beheld again at the doorway a golden chair, shining like fire; and on it there sat a man in the form of the Son of God. And in front of him stood a table of precious stones and pearls; and upon the table there lay a Bible, that is a big book of twelve yards in length, and eight yards in width.
And there were two angels holding paper, ink, and pens. And at the head of the table there sat a luminous angel holding a scale in his hand; and at his left hand stood an angel of fire, who held in his hand a paper, and on it were inscribed the temptations and sins.
And that man who sat there condemned or liberated the souls. And of the two angels who stood to the right and left, the one on the right wrote the virtues, and the one on the left hand wrote down the sins; and the one at the head of the table is the scale angel Dokiel who weighed the souls; and the fiery angel is Puriel who examined every soul with fire.
And Abraham asked the angel: " What is it that I see? "
And the angel replied, "That, which thou seest, oh just Abraham, is the judgment in the other world."
And Abraham said to Michael: “Lord, who is this judge, and who is the other, who convicts the sins?
And the angel replied, "Listen, oh just Abraham! He who sits in the chair and judges, is Abel, the son of Adam. He judges the righteous and the sinners. For the Lord hath said, that He will not judge mankind, but that they shall judge each other. And to him (Abel) he has given the power to judge men, till the last judgment. Then the Son of God will judge perfectly and finally and for ever; and no other will be able to judge. Because men are descended from Adam, they must be first judged by a son of Adam; but at the second resurrection they will all be judged by the twelve Patriarchs; but at the third resurrection, our Lord and Savior will judge them. For at the third time, at that terrible judgment, all will be ended. As it is written, 'By three witnesses shall the judgment be fulfilled.'
And he who bears witness here is the teacher of heaven and earth, and the scribe of righteousness, Enoch. For the Lord sent them hither to record the sins and righteousness's of each.”
Abraham said: “How is Enoch able to bear the weight of the souls, not having seen death? Now, how can he give a sentence to all the souls?”
Michael said: “If he gives a sentence concerning the souls it is not accepted. But it is not Enoch's business to give sentence, but it is the Lord who gives sentence, and his (Enoch's) task is only to write. For Enoch prayed to the Lord saying: - Lord I will not gladly give sentence to the souls, lest I become grievous to any. And the Lord said to Enoch: - I will bid thee to record the sins of a soul that makes atonement, and it shall enter into life. As for the soul that makes not atonement and repents, thou shalt find its sins recorded, and it shall be cast into punishment.”
And Abraham asked his angel Michael, "My lord! what is to be done with the soul which the angel brought in his hand, and which was placed in the middle?" The angel answered, "The judge has found that his good and his bad deeds shall be erased, and he is neither condemned nor saved, until the Lord, the Judge, shall come.
And Abraham asked, "What is wanting to this soul that it should be saved? "
The angel answered, "If he had performed one more good deed, he would had been saved."
And Abraham said, "We will say a prayer for this soul perhaps God will save it!"
And the angel said "Amen! so shall it be!"
And they both prayed, and God listened to them and saved this soul.
And Abraham said "I pray thee, angel, tell me where is the soul?"
And the angel answered, "It hath been saved, in answer to the prayer of thy holiness!"
And Abraham said, "Oh, angel, let us entreat God for the sins of those whom I cursed before! "
And the angel listened to him, and they prayed for a long time, until there came a voice from heaven, saying, "Abraham! I have heard thy prayer for those whom it appeared to thee that I destroyed. But I have saved them, and have preserved them alive. At the last judgment I will separate them. For, even if I destroy some on earth, I do not deliver any one entirely to death; I wish that they may repent and live."
And after Abraham had beheld the place of judgment, the cloud carried him down to the firmament beneath.
And the Lord said to the angel, "My servant! Turn the chariot, and take him back to his dwelling, for the end of his life is approaching, and he must put his house in order."
And the angel turned the chariot of clouds and brought him back to his house
And Sarah his wife, because she had not seen what had become of Abraham, was consumed with grief and gave up her soul. And after his return Abraham found her dead, and buried her.
The Angel of Death visits Abraham
Now when the days of the death of Abraham drew nigh the Lord God spake unto Michael: “Death will not dare to draw nigh to carry away the soul of my servant, because he is my friend.
And the Lord said, "Call Death hither!"
And the angel Michael went to Death, and said, "Go, for the Immortal King calls thee."
When Death heard this, he trembled and ground his teeth, and went to the Mighty Lord, and stood before Him with much fear and trembling.
And the Lord said unto Death, "Go and disguise thy fearful face and thy countenance, and clothe thyself with gentleness and beauty and splendor; and go to My friend Abraham and receive his soul and bring it to Me; and thou shalt not frighten him, but take it away in all tenderness."
When Death heard this, he went away from the presence of the Lord, and changed his fearful countenance, and became gentle and luminous, and of great beauty.
And Abraham sat under a sweet smelling tree, resting his hand on his knees. And he noticed the approach of a worthy and fine-looking man.
And the angel beheld him, and bowed to him, and said, "Rejoice, venerable Abraham, just soul, friend of the Lord, like unto the angels!"
And Abraham replied, "Rejoice, shining light, luminous man! From whence has this resplendent man come?"
And he sat him down nigh unto Abraham, and when Abraham saw Death seated nigh unto him he was afraid with exceeding great fear.
And Death said to Abraham: “Hail, holy soul! Hail, dear friend of the Lord God; hail, consolation and entertainment of wayfarers.
And Abraham said: “Thou art welcome, servant of the Most High God. I beseech thee, tell me who thou art, and enter into my house, and partake of meat and drink, and depart from me for I have lost, all strength since mine eyes have beheld thee; all parts of my body are weak, my head is heavy as lead, and my spirit is trembling within me, so that I can no longer see thy face. For I behold thy beauty that it is not of this world.”
And Death said unto Abraham: “Think not, Abraham, that this is my beauty or that even thus I come to every man. But if a man is righteous as thou art, I take garlands then, and come to him; but if he is a sinner I come in great corruption and from their sin I make a crown for my head and trouble them with great fear, insomuch that they are dismayed.”
And Abraham said, "Art thou the cup which poisonest? And art thou he who takest away the life of man and the beauty of woman? Art thou the poison of death?"
And Death replied, "I am the poisoned cup of death; and I speak unto thee the truth, for thus has the Lord commanded me."
And Abraham said, "Why hast thou come hither? "
Death replied, "I have come for thy righteous soul."
And Abraham said, "I understand! But, I do not wish to die!"
And Death was silent, for he would not give any further answer.
Death discloses his terrors to Abraham. The death and burial of the Patriarch
And Abraham arose and went in and seated himself on his bed.
And Death seated himself also on the bed, at the feet of Abraham.
And Abraham said, "Depart from me, for I would rest."
And Death replied, "I shall not depart from thee until I have taken thy soul."
And Abraham said, "Fulfil my wish: show me the bitterness of thy poison when thou takest the souls of mankind." And Death replied, "Thou could'st not in any case bear to see my fearful countenance."
And Abraham said, "I will see it; in the Name of the Lord, for He is with me. Show us thy corruption.”
And Death revealed his corruption; Then Death cast off all his beauty, and he assumed a fierce and murderous and all-consuming expression, like unto the wild beasts. And he had two heads: the one head had the face of a serpent, and by it some meet their end suddenly through vipers; and the other head was like a sword; and so some meet their end by the sword, as by arrows. And (he assumed) a dragon's head with seven faces, and his countenance was as seventeen fiery faces; and he became like unto a fierce and dreadful lion and like a poisonous snake, and he had a mane like a lion, and he was like a thunderbolt, and like the waves of the sea, and like the stream of a rapid torrent, and like a very wild dragon with three wings.
On that day, seven thousand boys and girls died from the fear of Death, and even Abraham the just was in danger of his life.
All this Abraham saw, and he said to Death, "I pray thee, poisonous Death, hide thy fearful countenance, and appear in thy former beauty."
And Death resumed his former beauty.
And Abraham said, "What hast thou done to kill so many souls? Hast thou been sent to kill them also? " And Death replied, "No, my lord! I was sent only on thy account."
Abraham said, "Indeed? How could'st thou kill them when the Lord did not command thee to do it?"
And Death answered, "Believe me, my lord, it is a wonder thou did'st not die with them. But I swear to thee in very truth, that I have in this hour the power of killing thee, and thy strength, will not avail thee. Therefore put in order all that thou wishest to arrange."
And Abraham said, "I acknowledge now that the weakness of death is upon me. and my soul grows faint. But, I pray thee, oh poisonous Death to tell me, why hast thou killed so many boys and girls? Let us now both entreat the Lord to restore these boys and girls to life, and perchance He may listen to us."
And Death said, "Amen! so may it be." And Abraham arose and threw himself on the ground on his face, and Death also cast himself on the ground; and they both prayed to God for a long time.
And God sent the spirit of life unto the dead, and they were restored to life again.
And Abraham returned thanks unto God, and went to his bed. Death also went to the bed. And Abraham said to Death, "Depart from me; I would rest, for soon thou wilt take away my soul." And Death replied, "I will not leave |224 thee, until I shall have taken thy soul." And the patriarch Abraham became cross with him, and spoke angry words.
And Death said, "Listen to me, oh, just Abraham! In seven epochs I shall destroy the whole world, and I shall cause all human beings and kings to go down into the earth, and to descend into hell; the kings, princes, rich and poor, old and young. Therefore I have shown thee the seven heads of a lion and the fiery faces, so that thou mayest arrange thy property and leave everything in order."
And Abraham said, "Depart from me, for I will see, if having the favour of God, I must still die, as thou doest demand of me!" And Death said, "I tell thee the truth, by God, there are seventy-two kinds of death, and I mow whomsoever I like; put therefore away thy doubts, oh just Abraham, and obey me, according to the will of the Universal Judge!"
And Isaac came and cried bitterly; and all the servants gathered him and cried bitterly. And Abraham arose and set free all his servants and his maids. And he called his beloved son Isaac, and kissed him tenderly, and blessed him with the father's blessing.
And the hour of his death approached; and Death said to Abraham, "Come and kiss my right hand, so that thou mayest revive for a while."
And Abraham was deceived, and kissed the hand of Death. But Death, when he gave him his hand, gave him also the cup with the poison of death.
And at the same moment the angel Michael and numberless angels came and received in their holy hands the pure and holy soul, and brought into the holy hands of the Lord's.
And they heard the voice of the Lord saying from heaven, "Take My friend Abraham and lead him into the paradise of joy, the abode of all the righteous; and to the eternal life, which is everlasting and without end."
But the body was enveloped in clean and pure linen, and they sprinkled him with heavenly perfumes, and buried him with many heavenly songs. And all wept and lamented greatly.
And Isaac buried his father beside his mother Sarah, glorifying and praising God: for to Him is due glory, honor, and worship, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and ever, a world without end.