Page:LostApocryphaOfTheOldTestamentMRJames.djvu/47

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29
THE OLD TESTAMENT

"Uriel the eighth from me." Another contradiction of tradition. Israel appears here as the first of a band of seven, all of whom were before Uriel. Uriel is elsewhere always one of the first seven, and usually of the first four. The place here claimed by Jacob-Israel is that assigned by almost universal consent to Michael.

"And I called on my God by the inextinguishable name." Does this begin a fresh sentence and mean that after thus addressing Uriel, Jacob called upon God? or is it to be connected with the last clause, meaning that, in the discharge of his functions in heaven, Israel invoked Him? In this latter case the greatness of the Name would be the important point, and the intention would be to show how exalted was Jacob's ministry. In spite of the fact that the verb is in the aorist and not in the imperfect, I incline to the latter interpretation. The expression "inextinguishable name" I have not as yet found elsewhere, though I believe it to exist.

These are the chief points in the first fragment. The second is: "I read in the tablets of heaven all that shall befall you and your sons."

The tablets of heaven figure in three books, Enoch (four times) Jubilees (over twenty times), the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (thrice).

The Enoch passages are lxxxi. i, 2 (the book of the deeds of all men . . . to the remotest generations), xciii. 2 (they contain the destinies of the righteous), ciii. 2 (the reward of the righteous), cvi. 19, cvii. 1 (generation after generation will transgress).

In Jubilees, iii. 10, the laws of the purification of women are written in the heavenly tablets, and in sixteen other passages decrees or legal enactments are registered in them. In three cases events are recorded as they happen, and in two others, future matters. But to us the really important passage is xxxii. 21 ff. Jacob at Bethel (not on his flight in Gen. xxviii., but later in his life) "saw in a vision of the night, and behold an angel descended from heaven with seven tablets in his hands, and he gave them to Jacob, and he read them