Translated from the Hebrew texts published by Adolph Jellinek, Bet ha-Midrasch: Sammlung kleiner Midraschim und vermischler Abhandlungen aus der ältern jüdischen Literatur (6 vols.; repr., Jerusalem: Bamberger & Wahrmann, 1938), 3:155-160. He has here combined three separate but conceptually cognate compositions: (1) The prologue to the so-called Sefer Asaf ha-Rofe, wherein a pharmacology and book of medical lore is revealed to Noah by the angel Raphael after the Flood; (2) an apocryphal penitential ‘Prayer of Adam’ which results in the revelation by the angel Raziel of a ‘holy book’ containing arcane knowledge to him; and (3) the prologue to Sefer ha-Razim, a notorious magical grimoire whose genealogy is traced to a book revealed by the angel Raziel to Noah immediately before the Flood. More distantly related but nonetheless important are the various tales about Adam’s post-expulsion penitence and subsequent revelatory events featured in eastern Christian texts like the Testament of Adam, the isolated anecdotes in the Zohar about Raziel’s gift of a ‘book’ to Adam, and the genealogy of religio-medical lore supplied by the Christian chronographer Bar Hebraeus.
This is the book of remedies which the ancient sages copied from the book of Shem b. Noah which had been given to Noah on Mt. Lubar, one of the mountains of Ararat, after the Flood. For in those days and at that time the ‘miscegenate-spirits’ (רוחות הממזרים) began to attack the descendants of Noah: maddening and leading astray and destroying and smiting humanity with sicknesses, pains, and all sorts of mortal and debilitating illnesses. Then all the children and grandchildren of Noah came together and recounted their afflictions to Noah their ancestor, and they spoke to him about the diseases appearing among their children.
Then Noah was dismayed, for he knew that it was due to the sinfulness of humanity and to the manner of their transgressions that they were being subjected to all kinds of diseases and illnesses. So Noah sanctified his sons and the members of each and every household all together, and he approached the altar, offered burnt offerings, prayed to God, and entreated Him. He dispatched an angel from among the Angels of the Presence—one of the Holy Ones whose name was Raphael—to eradicate the ‘miscegenate-spirits’ from beneath the heavens so that they might not continue harming humanity. The angel did so. He sequestered them in a chamber for judgment; however, he allowed one-tenth of their number to roam about the earth freely before Prince Mastema to chastise those (humans) who were being wicked, to afflict and to subject them to all kinds of illness and disease, and to inflict painful torments.
The angel told (him; i.e., Noah) the remedies for the afflictions of humankind and all kinds of remedies for healing with trees of the earth and plants of the soil and their roots. And he sent the leaders of the remaining spirits to show Noah the medicinal trees with all their shoots, greenery, grasses, roots, and seeds, to explain to him why they were created, and to teach him all their medicinal properties for healing and for vitality. Noah wrote all these things in a book and gave it to Shem, his oldest son, and the ancient sages copied from this book and wrote many books, each one in his own language. Knowledge about medicine increased on the earth among all the nations who examined the books of remedies, (particularly) among the sages of India, Macedonia, and Egypt, for the sages of India traveled about in quest of every kind of medicinal tree and spice, and the sages of Aram discovered the medicinal properties of all the different kinds of plants and their seeds, and they translated into Aramaic an explanation (פשר) for the contents of the books.
The sages of Macedonia were the first to begin practicing medicine on earth, whereas the sages of Egypt began to use magical charms and to divine future events with <constellations> and with stars. (They also began) to learn the expository book (ספר מדרש) of the Chaldeans which Qangar b. ’Ur b. Kesed had translated regarding every magical practice. Their wisdom continued growing for them until there arose Asclepius (אסקלפי”נוס), one of the sages of Macedon, and forty people with him from the magicians, who were adept in the translated books. They were continually traveling throughout the earth. They crossed over to the far side of India to the land east of Eden searching for some fragments <of the Tree> of Life in order to increase their fame over (that of the other) sages of the earth. And when they had entered that place, they discovered medicinal trees and fragments of the Tree of Life, and they stretched out their hands to acquire them. But the Lord flashed a ‘flame of the revolving sword’ (Gen 3:24) upon them, and all of them were set ablaze by sparks of lightning. Not a single one of them escaped. Hence the science of healing was abandoned by the physicians, and the wisdom of the physicians ceased (to expand) for six hundred and thirty years until the reign of King Artaxerxes. During his era there arose a man who was discerning and wise and learned in the knowledge of the books of remedies and who understood everything: his name was Hippocrates (איפוקר”ט) the Macedonian. The rest of the sages of the nations include Asaf the Judean, Dioscorides (דיסקרדיו”ס) the Cilician (?), and Galen (גליינ”וס) the Cretan, along with many other sages. Together they renewed the luster of medicine, and it continues (to enjoy prestige) until this day.
This is the prayer of Adam the Protoplast which he prayed at the time when he had been expelled from the Garden of Eden and before He had given to him this holy book. He begged for mercy before the Omnipotent One and said: O Lord, God of the universe! You created the entire universe to adorn a powerful majesty, and You acted in accordance with Your will. Your kingdom lasts eternally, and Your grandeur endures throughout every generation. There is nothing concealed from You nor hidden from Your sight. You established me by the action of Your hands, and You granted me authority over all Your creatures to serve as ruler over Your works. But the accursedly clever serpent deceived me with the delightfully desirable tree, and my bosom wife also deceived me, and she did not disclose to me what would happen or what would be the result for my descendants or what would come upon me and the generations who are coming after me. I realize and understand that no living entity is innocent before You. What power do I have to seek refuge with You? I lack a mouth to respond or to speak, or an eye to lift upwards, for I have sinned and am guilty, and because of my transgression I have today been expelled. Behold, I must now break and till the earth in servitude to that from which I was (originally) taken, and fear of me and awe of me is no longer on those who dwell on the earth as it was in the beginning, for from the moment that I ate from the fruit of (the Tree of) Knowledge and transgressed against Your words, my wisdom was taken from me. I am stupid and have no knowledge; I am a fool and do not understand what is going to happen.
And now, O merciful and gracious God, may Your plentiful mercies return unto the head of Your created beings, and unto the breath which You breathed, and unto the life which You gave. Welcome me with Your charity, for You are kind, patient, and full of mercy. May my prayer ascend before Your throne of glory, and may my cry reach Your throne of mercies, and may You be gracious to me! ‘May the sayings of my mouth be pleasing before You!’ (Ps 19:15). ‘Do not ignore my supplication!’ (Ps 55:2). You Who have existed and will continue to exist forever, You Who have ruled and will continue to rule—please have compassion on the work of Your hands! Instruct me and make known to me what is going to happen to my progeny and to my descendants, and what is about to come upon me each and every day and each and every month. Do not conceal the wisdom of Your Watchers and Your angels from me!’
After he engaged in entreaty for thirty days, the angel Raziel—the one enthroned above the river that flows out of Gan Eden—came to him and revealed information to him until the darkening of the sun. In his hand was a book. He said to him: ‘Adam, why are you alarmed? Why are you mournful and worried? Your words were heard from the day that you began to stand in prayer and in supplication. I have come to instruct you (using) clear words and much wisdom and to make you learned in the words of this sacred book. With them you will gain knowledge about what will happen to you up to the day of your death! And any one of your children who arises in your stead and all the latter generations who treat this book as you do—with purity of flesh, humility of spirit, and doing everything that is inscribed in it—will gain knowledge of what is coming during each and every month, whether day or night, and everything will be revealed to such a one. That individual will discern and know if there will be misfortune or famine or severe disorder or heavy rain or drought, or if the harvest will be plentiful or scarce, or if criminals will gain authority in the world, or if there will be locust swarms or infestation, or when a tree will drop its fruits, or if there will be a plague of boils among humans, or if there will be wars, or if there will be sufferings, or if death will gain control of humans or livestock, or if a favorable or unfavorable decree has gone forth from on high, or if blood will be shed or the wounded will groan in the city. Now you—Adam—approach more closely, and I will disclose to you the manner of this book and its sacral qualities.’
The angel Raziel opened the book and read it aloud to Adam, and when he heard the words of that sacred book from the mouth of the angel Raziel, he collapsed face-down, quivering. Then he said: ‘Adam! Get up! Be strong! Do not be afraid and do not fear! Take this book from my hand, yet be careful with it, for you will gain knowledge and insight from it, and you will make it known to everyone who is worthy of it, and it will become their share (חלק).’ And at the moment that Adam received this book, a fire was kindled upon the bank of the river, and the angel ascended on a flame of fire toward Heaven. Then Adam understood and realized that he was an angel of God, and that this book had been dispatched from the presence of the Holy King. So he took hold of it in sanctity and in purity.
After four generations there arose Enoch b. Yared, and he paid heed to the fear of God. He conducted himself in purity: he would bathe and consecrate himself in running water (מים חיים), and he would plead in supplication before the Creator of all. There was revealed to him in a dream the place within which there was hidden a book, the way how he should apply it, what its use was, and its pure sanctity. He arose early and went to the cave and waited until noon. Due to the strength of the sun, he went in there by himself so that the people of the place would not observe him. He beseeched the Blessed Deity and ascended (to heaven) in purity. He acquired possession of the Pure Name, and at the moment that he understood it, his eyes illuminated all his paths. He guided himself with it and continued until he became like one of the supernal holy ones and was removed from the inhabitants of the earth. ‘And he was no more, for God took him’ (Gen 5:24).
Now by using this book, he grew wise and astute with regard to the cycles and the constellations and all the (heavenly) luminaries which officiate in each and every month and the names which are invoked for every cycle and for the ministering angels during the four seasons of the year. He learned (from it) the names for the earth and the names for the heavens and even the names for the sun and the moon. He continued to venerate it with all his energy, and he gained insight into every type of wisdom, more so even than Adam the Protoplast. But he discerned that the generations who would come after him would not have the strength to persist with it, for it was powerful and exalted. So he hid it until the advent of Noah b. Lamech, ‘a righteous man who was perfect among his generations’ (Gen 6:9). And in the five hundredth year of his (i.e., Noah’s) life, the earth was being destroyed by the violent behavior of those generations, for ‘all flesh had corrupted its way on the earth’ (Gen 6:12), and the anguished cry of the earth ascended to heaven before the Throne of Glory of the Holy One, blessed be He. ‘Noah however found favor in the sight of the Lord’ (Gen 6:8).
Afterwards the holy prince Raphael was sent to him, and he said to him: ‘I have been dispatched with a message of God for you in order to heal (לרפאות) the earth and to disclose what is going to happen and what one should do in order to escape (the coming destruction).’ Then he gave him this sacred book and he taught him how he should apply it, what its use was, and what was (the nature of) its pure sanctity.
He said to him: ‘Hear the word of the Lord, for you have been found to be “a righteous man who is perfect among his generations” (Gen 6:9). Behold, I have given you this sacred book, and I will reveal to you all of its secrets and its arcana in order to perform it in sanctity and in purity and with chastity and with humility. From it you will learn how to work the gofer-wood, and then you will enter—“you, your sons, your wife, and the wives of your sons” (Gen 6:18)—to conceal yourselves for a short while until the wrath passes by.’ So Noah took the book from the hand of the holy prince Raphael, and when he understood the characters engraved in it, the spirit of the Lord rested upon him. He built the ark in length and in breadth using the knowledge which he discerned in this sacred <book>. Then it was heard by him: ‘You and all of your household, enter into the ark, for I have seen that you are righteous’ (Gen 7:1).
Then Noah b. Lamech concealed it (i.e., the book) prior to his entering the ark. He understood all its characters, and he perceived how to bring into the ark (the animals) whether two or seven (pairs), ‘each with its mate’ (Gen 7:2). ‘And the Lord closed (the door of the ark) behind him’ (Gen 7:16). ‘There was a Flood for forty days’ (Gen 7:17) and forty nights. Then he opened his mouth in a spirit of wisdom and understanding, and he offered praise to the Lord God, the great, mighty, and awesome ruler.
He said: ‘Blessed be the Lord who has granted some of His wisdom to those who revere His Name! Blessed be He Who has made awe of Him to rule over humankind, Who delivers the lives of His faithful ones, Who conceals those taking shelter in His shade, and Who preserves a remnant for revivification; the One Who bestows upon His servants a spirit of intellect and understanding which permits communication with all people, beasts, animals, birds, and fish in order to disclose to them Your power and the magnitude of Your might!’ From the wealth of knowledge which He taught with this book, he was able to know whether it was day or night, and he knew the feeding schedule of each and every animal at its proper time. His prayer was heard before the Throne of Glory, ‘and He remembered’ (Gen 8:1) him and all ‘who were with him on the ark’ (ibid.). ‘And God made a wind pass over the earth, and the waters abated’ (Gen 8:1), ‘and the ark came to rest’ (Gen 8:4) on that month ‘on the mountains of Ararat’ (ibid.).
Noah continued comporting himself using the wisdom of this book, and he revealed to his son Shem that he had learned about the ark from it. Therefore his son Shem used it and took possession of it after him in (his practice of) sanctification. Shem passed it on to Abraham, and Abraham to Isaac, and Isaac to Jacob, and Jacob to Levi, and Levi to Moses, and Moses to Aaron, and Aaron to Pinḥas, and Pinḥas (transmitted it) to his son and to all subsequent generations, one after the other.
This is the book from the books of the mysteries—the one which was given to Noah b. Lamech b. Methuselah b. Enoch b. Yared b. Mahalalel b. Qaynan b. Enosh b. Seth b. Adam from the oral instruction of the angel Raziel in the year that he entered the ark, before he boarded it. He inscribed it very clearly on a sapphire stone. From it he learned the performance of marvels, the secrets of gnosis, the degrees of understanding, the cares of humility, and the thoughts of deliberation in order to attend to the investigation of the supernal heights; to roam about among all that is in the seven (heavenly) levels; to observe all the constellations; to discern the course of the sun; to explain examinations of the moon; to gain knowledge of the paths of the Great Bear, Orion, and the Pleiades; and to state what are the names for the officiating entities of each and every firmament and their governance, and by what (means) they might make any matter prosper, and what are the names of their attendants, and what libation should be poured out for them, and what is the period when you will be heard by them so that all who approach them in purity have every desire accomplished. He came to know from it a spell for death and a spell for life; (how) to discern what is ominous and what is favorable; (how) to examine times and moments to know the time of birth and the time of death, the time for injury and the time for healing; (how) to interpret dreams and visions; (how) to stir up strife and to quell battles; (how) to exercise control over spirits and demons in order to dispatch them and they go off (on their missions) like servants; (how) to gaze (at what is happening) among the four directions of the earth; (how) to become learned in the sound of thunders in order to report what was done by lightning flashes; (how) to declare what is going to happen in each and every month; (how) to understand the affair(s) of each and every year, whether there will be surfeit or famine, harvest or drought, peace or strife; and (how) to become like one of the awesome ones and gain understanding of the celestial hymns. And it was from knowledge of the arcana in this book that Noah learned and understood how to make the gofer-wood (into) an ark, and how to conceal himself from the flood waters of the Deluge, (and) how to bring along with him (animal life) two-by-two and seven-by-seven, and how to bring in some of every kind of foodstuff and every kind of provision. He placed it (the book) in a golden box and brought it initially into the ark in order to determine from it the (different) times of the day and to find out from it the (different) times of the night and at which time(s) he should arise to entreat (God). And when they had emerged from the ark, he continued to use it all the days of his life. At the time of his death, he passed it on to Abraham, and Abraham to Isaac, and Isaac to Jacob, and Jacob to Levi, and Levi to Qahat, and Qahat to ‘Amram, and ‘Amram to Moses, and Moses to Joshua, and Joshua to the elders, and the elders to the prophets, and the prophets to the Sages, and so (it was passed down) through each and every generation until the advent of King Solomon. Now books of mysteries had been revealed to him, and he was exceedingly adept in books of wisdom, and he exercised control over all the spirits and demons who would roam about the world (performing) his every desire—due to the wisdom of this book, he bound and he loosed; he dispatched and introduced; and he built and experienced success. Although many books had been handed down into his custody, this one was found to be more precious, valuable, and wondrous than all the rest of them. Happy is the eye that sees, happy is the ear that attentively listens to its wisdom, for the seven heavens and everything which they contain is within it! From their camps we will learn to understand everything and to succeed in every endeavor, to think and to act using the wisdom of this book.