The First Things Created

If you’ve never had the opportunity to check out Louis Ginzberg’s Legends of the Jews then you don’t know what you’re missing. Ginzberg collected an immense amount of Jewuish aggadah and arranged them in a continuous chronological narrative spanning from creation to the time of Esther. He opens his work by discussing the “First Things Created”:

In the beginning, two thousand years before the heaven and the earth, seven things were created: the Torah written with black fire on white fire, and lying in the lap of God; the Divine Throne, erected in the heaven which later was over the heads of the Hayyot; Paradise on the right side of God, Hell on the left side; the Celestial Sanctuary directly in front of God, having a jewel on its altar graven with the Name of the Messiah, and a Voice that cries aloud, “Return, ye children of men.”

Torah written with black fire on white fire!!! How imaginative!

I have the two-volume second edition published in 2003 by the Jewish Publication Society and translated by Henrietta Szold & Paul Radin, but one can access Ginzberg’s compilation online here. There’s some really interesting stuff in there that is well worth the reader’s time and attention.



2 thoughts on “The First Things Created

  1. The real value to Ginzberg’s set is in the end notes (which aren’t present on most of the online editions). The notes are a treasure trove of cross references and explanations of the ‘legends’ that help a researcher figure out whether a particular yarn is spun from earlier or later texts.

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