Breisheet V: The Generation Resulting in the Flood

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"Lamech took him two wives" (Genesis 4:19). R. Azariah said in the name of R. Judah bar Simon: This is what the men of the generation of the flood used to do:

each would take for himself two wives, one for procreation and the other for sexual pleasure.

The one for procreation was almost like a widow, though her husband was still alive; while the one for sexual pleasure was made by her husband to swallow a potion so that she would not conceive. She sat in his house painted like a harlot.

You can readily see that it was so, for even Lamech, the best among that generation, took two wives: Adah, "apart from [scorned by] him;" and Zillah [Tzillah], "who dwelt in his shadow [was inseparable from him]."

When the generation of the flood arose and gave themselves over to lewd idolatry, the Holy One was grieved.

Two angels, Shamhazai and Azzael, rose up and said: Master of the universe, did we not say to You when You created Your world, "What is man that You are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:5)

God asked: But [if I destroy mankind], what is to become of the world?

They replied: Master of the universe, we will make use of it.

He said: It is revealed and known to Me that, if you lived in the world, the impulse to evil would gain mastery over you, and you would be more obdurate than the children of men.

They replied: Nevertheless, give us permission to dwell among mortal creatures, and You will see how we hallow Your Name.

Then God said: Go down and dwell among them. They immediately misbehaved with the daughters of men, who were so beautiful that the angels could not conquer their impulse.

Thus, when Shamhazai noticed a certain maiden whose name was Istahar, he gazed lustfully upon her and pleaded, "Do my bidding."

She replied, "I will not do your bidding until you give me your wings and teach me the Explicit Name, which you go up to heaven upon uttering."

So he gave her his wings and taught her the Name, whereupon she uttered it, went up to heaven, and was spared from corruption.

The Holy One said: Since she shunned transgression, go and set her among the seven stars yonder. Thus, it came about that Istahar was set in the constellation of Draco.

When Shamhazai and Azzael saw this, they took wives, and Shamhazai begot sons: Hiva and Hayya.

Metatron (one of the top angels) sent an emissary to tell Shamhazai: The Holy One will destroy His world by bringing a flood upon it. Shamhazai fell to weeping, grieving over the world and his sons. What would his sons do? What would they eat, should the world be destroyed? For every day each of them ate a thousand camels, a thousand horses, and a thousand oxen.

That night Hiva and Hayya both had dreams. The first saw a stone on the ground, lying flat like a table, its top incised with many lines of script. An angel came down from heaven, in his hand a kind of chisel with which he scraped and erased all the lines, until he left only four letters.

The second saw a large and beautiful orchard planted with all kinds of trees. In the orchard were angels, and in their hands axes with which they felled the trees until they left only one tree with three branches.

Upon waking, Hiva and Hayya stood up in consternation and went to their father, who said to them: The Holy One is about to bring a flood [upon the world] and will leave only Noah and his [three] sons. Hearing this, they fell to wailing and weeping. He said to them: Grieve not, your names will never cease among mortals. Every time mortals cut lumber, heave stones, or haul in ships, they will mention your names: Hiva and Hayya (as in Heave-aho!). At that, Hiva and Hayya grew calm.

Shamhazai repented and suspended himself, head down and feet up, between heaven and earth, and to this day he continues thus suspended in repentance. Azzael did not repent and still continues in his corruption.

"For all flesh had become dissolute" (Genesis 6:12). R. Azariah said in the name of R. Judah bar Simon: In the generation (leading to) the flood, all had become evil: the dog mated with the wolf, the rooster with the peacock.

R. Luliani bar Tibrin said in the name of R. Isaac: Even the earth acted like a harlot: when planted with wheat, it brought forth fodder (tare). In fact, fodder stems from the generation of the flood.

R. Isaac said: They needed to plant only once [to raise enough food for] forty years, could walk from world's end to world's end in no time at all, and while walking could [easily] uproot cedars of Lebanon.

As for the bite of lions or leopards, it was regarded by the people of that generation as no more dangerous than a flea's prick in the flesh. Besides, they constantly enjoyed the kind of beautiful weather that prevails from Passover to Pentecost

"They send forth their sucklings as though they were sheep in a flock, their newly born are able to skip about" (Job 21:11).

When a woman gave birth during the day, she would say to her newborn infant: Go and fetch me a flint, and I will cut your umbilical cord. When she gave birth during the night, she would say to her infant: Go and kindle a lamp for me, and I will cut your cord.

Once a woman who had given birth during the night said to her newborn son: Go, kindle a lamp for me so that I can cut your cord.

When he went out, he met the demon Shamdon, prince of all evil spirits. While the two were talking, the cock crowed.

So Shamdon said: You may go and boast before your mother that [you managed to survive until] the cock crowed. For had the cock not crowed, I would have killed you with one blow.

The newborn retorted: You go and boast before your mother's mother that [you survived] because my mother had not cut my cord--had my mother cut my cord, I would have killed you with but one blow!

Breisheet I: Creation
Breisheet II: Adam, Eve, and the Serpent
Breisheet III: Lillit
Breisheet IV: Cain and Abel


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