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THE SICKNESS OF ADAM

When Adam had lived to be nine hundred and thirty years old, a sickness seized him, and he felt that his days were drawing to an end. He summoned all his descendants, and assembled them before the door of the house of worship in which he had always offered his prayers to God, to give them his last blessing. His family were astonished to find him stretched out on the bed of sickness, for they did not know what pain and suffering were.[111] They thought he was overcome with longing after the fruits of Paradise, and for lack of them was depressed. Seth announced his willingness to go to the gates of Paradise and beg God to let one of His angels give him of its fruits. But Adam explained to them what sickness and pain are, and that God had inflicted them upon him as a punishment for his sin.[112] Adam suffered violently; tears and groans were wrung from him. Eve sobbed, and said, "Adam, my lord, give me the half of thy sickness, I will gladly bear it. Is it not on account of me that this hath come upon thee? On account of me thou undergoest pain and anguish."

Adam bade Eve go with Seth to the gates of Paradise and entreat God to have mercy upon him, and send His angel to catch up some of the oil of life flowing from the tree of His mercy and give it to his messengers. The ointment would bring him rest, and banish the pain consuming him. On his way to Paradise, Seth was attacked by a wild beast. Eve called out to the assailant, "How durst thou lay hand on the image of God?" The ready answer came: "It is thine own fault. Hadst thou not opened thy mouth to eat of the forbidden fruit, my mouth would not be opened now to destroy a human being." But Seth remonstrated: "Hold thy tongue! Desist from the image of God until the day of judgment." And the beast gave way, saying, "See, I refrain myself from the image of God," and it slunk away to its covert.[113]

Arrived at the gates of Paradise, Eve and Seth began to cry bitterly, and they besought God with many lamentations to give them oil from the tree of His mercy. For hours they prayed thus. At last the archangel Michael appeared, and informed them that he came as the messenger of God to tell them that their petition could not be granted. Adam would die in a few days, and as he was subject to death, so would be all his descendants. Only at the time of the resurrection, and then only to the pious, the oil of life would be dispensed, together with all the bliss and all the delights of Paradise.[114] Returned to Adam, they reported what had happened, and he said to Eve: "What misfortune didst thou bring upon us when thou didst arouse great wrath! See, death is the portion of all our race! Call hither our children and our children's children, and tell them the manner of our sinning." And while Adam lay prostrate upon the bed of pain, Eve told them the story of their fall.[115]



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