I discovered the legend about Archangel Raziel’s mysterious ‘book’ while I was researching for my Master’s dissertation. It was given to Adam after eating the fruit of the infamous ‘Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil’ – perhaps an apple, more likely a fig, though possibly a plant with psychoactive properties.
When they were discovered, Adam and Eve were turned out of Eden pretty sharpish! They found themselves in a bleak landscape and Adam turned on the tears, begging the Lord’s forgiveness. But their fate was sealed and there was no going back. In a conciliatory gesture, the furious Lord sent an Archangel with a gift: a ‘book’ made of sapphire, containing all the herbal lore, practical and cosmological wisdom that would support the suffering humans – as long as they continued to worship their stern Lord. This book could only be handed on to someone who was ‘righteous’ – and a man (of course!)
A variation on the story of The Book of Raziel, told in The Zohar, says Adam was given all this wisdom by Raziel while he was still in the Garden. The book was ‘engraved’ with sacred wisdom as supernal engravings, and included 1500 ‘keys’ not transmitted to celestial beings, but only to Adam. An angel named Hadraniel tells Adam to keep the treasure secret. While Adam and Eve still lived in the Garden, Adam was able to use this wisdom on a daily basis and knew mysteries that even the angels could not access. As soon as Adam sinned, the book ‘flew away’ from him and he ‘slapped himself on the head and wept’. But Yahweh is merciful, it seems, and the angel Raphael was instructed to return The Book to Adam, who then passed it down to his son, Seth, with a caveat that only ‘righteous men’ with holy intention could open it.
Many generations later, Jewish kabbalists were still talking about this magical ‘book’. They claimed to have manuscripts copied from it, and actually printed a version in 1701. I heard that modern Israeli soldiers carry a pocket size version to encourage angelic support during battle. But what happened to the original sapphire tablets?
Could it be that such an asset, a practical manual giving human beings unlimited power to create an abundant life, really existed? If so, where might it be now? How did it work? Who might be searching for it? Could a woman claim it? And who or what are ‘angels’?