THE HISTORY OF CAIN AND ABEL, THE SONS OF ADAM
In the Armenian Library of St. Lazarus, in Venice, there are three MSS in which the Book of Adam is contained, and they were written at different times. One of these MSS is numbered 729. It is a small sized MS — 6x8 inches — written on paper, in double columns of 25 lines each, but has no date. In this MS, one of these Books of Adam is found, and it is its text that has been followed. What follows are stories from this text called The History of Cain and Abel, Good Tidings of Seth and Adam's Words To Seth.
After the deceit of Satan, Adam having fasted five days — which we call The fast of the Septuagesima — God grew tender toward him, and sent His angel to tell him about God taking flesh, and about his deliverance from the hands of Satan. And then he brought the Ox and caused it to be obedient unto him, that he should use it to plough the ground, that he might till and cultivate it, and eat its produce, and be satisfied; and commanded Adam to take from the produce a portion for God.
And Adam's first-born was Cain. When Cain was thirty years old, then Abel and his sister were born. Eve brought forth children only once every thirty years, and she brought them forth in pairs, a male and a female.
Abel, at the age of twenty years old, became a keeper of sheep, and Cain was a tiller of the ground. And Adam said unto them: From the produce of your labor, ye shall take out one tenth for God's portion. And the sheep of Abel brought forth one with numberless speckles; Abel chose it for God's portion; but for love of his brother, he would not offer it. He said within himself: When the crops of my brother are ripe, then we will offer up together the portion to God.
When Cain's crops of corn were ripe, he cut down his corn, he made bunches of that which was beaten by the wind, fastened it up in sheaves, and put them apart for God's portion.
And Abel brought his lamb that he had chosen, and had promised unto God as his portion. And Cain stood up in prayer to God, saying: Know, thou, O Lord, Creator of all, that from everything that I worked for and produced, I took out a portion and a tenth part of my substance and offered unto thee. And now let thy will be done, as it pleases thee.
And the Lord was wroth with Cain, and as a handful of dust is carried away of the wind, so he scattered all his harvest of corn, and destroyed all his riches, so that not even an ear of corn could be found. He bent Cain's face with hail, which blackened like coal, and thus he remained with a black face.
But Abel offered unto God the firstborn lamb, and stretching out his hands, prayed unto the Lord, saying: Lord God, Creator and maker of all good things, I beseech thee, accept my offering which I offer thee as a portion of those good gifts that thou hast created and distributed unto us. Of the good things thou hast granted, I offer unto thee that they should be acceptable before thee.
Immediately a gentle breeze blew, and a light came down from heaven, and Abel's face became shining, and a voice came from heaven, saying: Thy prayer is heard, and thine offering is accepted. And a shining cloud covered Abel, and took his lamb up to heaven.
And Cain nourished a hatred against Abel, and would have killed him, but knew not how, for as yet no murder had taken place. And Abel knew not the wicked intention of his brother, and they did always eat, and drink, and walk together.
But on a certain day Cain said unto his brother: Let us go and take a walk in the field. So they arose and went into the field, and Cain wished to bind his brother; but Abel was more vigorous than Cain, and therefore Cain could not reveal his intention unto him. Then he began to play with his brother, and wrestle with him, trying to take hold of him in flank to see whether he was strong enough to overcome him; but in trying to take hold of him in flank, he fell down, and could not overcome Abel. Then Cain getting up, looked around here and there, and saw a very long shoot of a vine, and said: Come brother, let us play with this shoot.
Abel said: How shall we play with a shoot?
Cain said: Throw your arms around this tree, and with these three shoots I will bind thee, and see whether thou canst break them, and set thyself free. Thou will embrace the tree, and thou shalt bind me; and so will we see who shall be able to break free.
And he was strong, but with this he would try and see who was stronger.
Then Abel approached the tree, and Cain took the shoot of the vine, and with it he bound him around three times, body and binds. Then Abel understood his brother's wickedness, and entreated him, saying: Brother, let me loose from the bond. But Cain would not release him; he bound him stronger, and with many shoots of the vine he surrounded him and the tree, from the feet to the head. And Abel wept and said: Brother, let me loose; shed not my blood for the sake of this perishable world. What harm have I done unto thee? Why art thou wrath against me? Let all the world be thine.
But Cain walked about and looked for something with which he could kill his brother, but he knew not the way to give him a death-blow.
And Satan, the wicked one, at the close of the day, with a black pebble . . .there was a stone, sharp like a razor, with which one slew another.
And then threw down the sharp stone. Cain having learned from it, took the sharp stone and came unto Abel.
And Abel wept, saying: Hast thou not pity upon our parents?
But Cain had no pity upon him. When he came near to kill him, Abel, shedding tears, said: Brother, bring thy face that I may kiss it, that my heart should not be in want of it; thou knowest the judgment of God.
When he was cutting the throat of his brother with the stone, his brother said: Tell my mother who nourished me with her milk to grant me her pardon.
And as the stone was a small one, hardly could he in an hour slay him. And while he was cutting his throat, his brother continued saying: I am going away from this world, mayest thou enjoy the affection of our parents.
When he had slain his brother, and was going away cheerfully, the Lord appeared unto him on the way, fifty cubits above in the sky, and said to him: Where is thy brother?
And he boldly said: Who made me his guardian that thou askest me?
Now God asked him for a purpose, that by chance he might repent; but when the Lord saw that Cain gave such an answer, His anger was kindled against him and He inflicted upon him seven punishments.
1. The first of the punishments was, that upon his head sprung up two horns.
2. The second punishment was, that one of the horns cried out in a loud voice saying: Cain is the murderer of his brother. And the mountains, the rocks and the valleys echoed, saying: Cain is the
murderer of his brother.
3. The third punishment was, that he quivered like a yew-tree in his feet, hands, and all his members.
4. The fourth punishment was, that no matter how much he ate, he was never satisfied.
5. The fifth punishment was, that he could not eat what in his heart he wished to eat; and when he put anything into his mouth to eat it fell to the ground.
6. The sixth punishment was, that he could not sleep, neither by night nor by day.
7. The seventh punishment was, that God did not prescribe him death, but said the Lord: Whosoever shall slay Cain, his punishment shall fall upon the murderer.
And thus Cain lived for eight hundred and sixty years. Then he was in despair, for he wished to die, and did not die. And God brought from above a skin and covered him.
And Lamech having mounted a horse, and gone hunting, Cain came in sight from afar with his horns and skin. Lamech, on seeing him, thought it was a stag; and letting an arrow fly from his bow, he killed Cain. Then the punishment fell upon Lamech. But Lantech's wife was a good woman; she entreated God, and the Lord was gracious unto him, on account of his wife's shedding many tears , so his pain was healed and the punishment was removed from Lamech.
And when Adam and Eve heard of Abel's murder, they wept and mourned for a long time. And every time they buried Abel's body, it came out upon the face of the ground; likewise his blood never dried up, and his body neither stank nor grew worm-eaten. For God said to Adam that he first should return to dust and then his generations. Wherefore Adam ought first to die and return unto dust, and then his generation; until Abel's body fell, no one had died, and therefore it did not return unto dust neither his blood dried up. Until Adam's death Abel's body remained thus unaltered, as if it were alive and in sleep; but when Adam died, then Abel's body also entered into its grave.
And Cain after having murdered Abel, being afflicted by seven punishments, mourned and cried woe unto himself and wept bitterly. And his parents, Adam and Eve, as long as they saw Abel covered with blood and Cain struck with punishment, wept and mourned over their children. For a space of two hundred years Adam knew not his wife; he said, he was afraid that through their mourning another son, still more wicked might be born. But the Lord was gracious unto them, and sent them good tidings for the sake of Seth, and gave comfort to Adam and to Eve his wife.
CONCERNING THE GOOD TIDINGS OF SETH, TO WHICH WE MUST GIVE EAR
And the Lord grew compassionate toward Adam, and sent his angel unto him, saying: Know thy wife that thou mayest have a son instead of Abel.
Adam said: I cannot know my wife, for I knew her twice, and that was a greater punishment than my expulsion from the Garden. For as long as I see Abel covered with blood, my heart is grieved and vexes me; and when I turn and see Cain's punishment, my tears run down. And if I know my wife again, that might be the cause of another grief and affliction.
The angel said: Fear not, Adam; for God shall give thee a son and thou shalt call his name Seth, which being interpreted is, consolation. He shall be the blessed seed, and the head of patriarchs, and shall be a comfort unto thee; forasmuch as Cain's wickedness has caused thee sorrow, so much comfort shall Seth afford thee. And thy seed and the seed of Seth shall multiply, and the world shall be filled with it. But let not the seed of Seth, or the seed of others of thy children, be mixed with that of Cain's generation; for if they mix themselves with that generation, thy good children shall become wicked, and then all shall be punished together.
Now when the angel gave unto Adam the good tidings regarding Seth, he had no other child of the seed of Cain. When Seth was born, there were three hundred and ninety women, and twenty four men. Cain, thirty years after he was married, murdered Abel, who would have been married in the same year; but this did not take place, and so he became a virgin martyr. When Seth and others of his brothers were born, his parents were comforted on account of him, according to the tidings of the angel. So the seed of Seth and of his brethren multiplied; but they chased away the seed of Cain and did not mix with them, and they lived virtuously.
And the son of Seth, Enoch, the good Fruit, asked his father, saying: Why is Adam, our grandfather, grieved?
Seth said: He is afflicted for having tasted of the fruit, for which he was expelled from the Garden.
And Enoch said unto his father: The debt of the father must be paid by the son.
Wherefore Enoch did not marry; He planted a vineyard. It was a large vineyard, filled with all good things, and he worked in it sixty-four years. Every man tasted of its fruits, but he, Enoch, did not taste at all. He wore on his head an iron helmet, that he should not look up into the fruits of the trees; and for sixty-four years he was a vine-dresser, but he did not eat of the vineyard. And God commanded His angels, and they took him up in his body, and placed him in Paradise, where he is until this day.
And when the other children of Seth and Adam saw that Enoch, on account of his purity and fasting, was taken up into Paradise, many of them departed and retired to mountains, and devoted themselves to purity and mortification.
But in Cain's seed the maidens multiplied exceedingly; so that one hundred women walked after one man, and for one man they quarreled, and they snatched him from one another; for the men were few in number, but the women and the maidens were numerous. The seed of Seth and his brethren did not mix with them, but lived piously. There were many good men among them; there were five hundred and twenty single men devoted to an austere life, and there was no possibility of their mixing with the seed of Cain.
But the young women of Cain's seed, invented the artifice of carmine and of flake-white, with which they made their faces red and white; they dyed their eyebrows, and painted their eyes, and put on antimony; they decked their hair with curls, and invented different kinds of musical instruments. They reddened their feet and their hands with alkanet, and with other ornaments they decked and embellished their persons. And with trimmed garments, and with all kinds of music dancing joyfully, they went into the mountain; and with clapping of hands and sounding trumpets, and making long gyrations, and singing all kinds of songs, they mixed with the children of Seth and deceived them. There were five hundred and twenty solitary men, and only Noah remained a virgin; all the others mixed up with them and became more wicked than they, and more lascivious than dogs. Neither the father discerned his daughter, nor the mother distinguished her son, nor the sister her brother. In this way they continued to live an adulterous life, and bore not God in mind.
Wherefore God, on account of the multitude of their sins, was wroth with them, and willed to destroy them by water. Therefore God commanded Noah to build an ark, and to marry. But when the angel came and told Noah to take a wife, Noah would not do so, for he was five hundred years old.
And the angel said: Thou must fulfill the command of God, for He is going to destroy all the world by water; all shall be drowned, and thou shalt become a new Adam, and from thy seed all the world shall be filled.
Noah said: How long shall I live in this world?
The angel said: .. Thou hast lived five hundred years, and thou shalt live four hundred years more.
Noah said: ..Four hundred years pass away like a dream in the night; why then for a transitory dream should I contaminate my virginity?
The angel said: It is the Lord's command, thou canst not go against it.
Noah said: I know not whether there is any pure woman left that I may take her to wife.
The angel said: There is a pure virgin, whose name is Noamzarah, take her to wife; then begin to construct an ark, its length an hundred and fifty cubits, its breadth fifty, and its height thirty cubits.
And the angel departed from him, therefore Noah took a wife. And while he was building the ark, the hatchet cried out, the axe cried out, the saw cried out, and so did the wood, saying: Behold, the flood is coming up and it shall destroy the world.
When Noah heard that voice, melting in tears he entreated God to be patient and wait for him twenty-seven days. And when Noah went up to the upper story, he placed two planks one upon the other; and the planks cried out that the flood was coming up. All the beasts came up two by two, and went into the ark; and of clean beasts in sevens and sevens. So the irrational animals understood the coming of the flood, but men did not understand.
And Noah went into the ark, he and his sons; he shut up the door, and pitched and cemented its sides with pitch. And the windows of heaven were opened, and the water came out from beneath, and fell down from above. Many made an attempt to escape and go into the ark, but they were drowned on the way. During forty days the waters increased and covered the tops of the mountains. And about a year the ark remained upon the waters, and then drifted and rested upon mount Massis.
And at the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark and sent forth a raven, that he might bring him back some sign; and he went and found the dead bodies to feed upon and came back no more. Then he sent forth a dove; and the dove flew and wandered upon the tops of the mountains and found three flowers and brought them as a sign, and presented them unto Noah. Then Noah let loose all the birds.
And when three months had expired, he opened the ark and saw that the mountains and the hills were dry, but the plain was covered with water, he then sent forth all the beasts. But of the clean animals and of the fowls, which went into the ark seven and seven, he offered unto God, as a portion, one of every seven, and entreated God to destroy the world no more by water. And his offering was accepted, and the Lord heard his prayer.
And he requested the Lord saying: Give me a sign of reconciliation.
And the Lord said: Look towards the east.
And Noah saw the sign of a bow in red and green that had come down.
And God said unto Noah: This shall be a token of my reconciliation with thy children. When they see the bow, they shall know that the Lord is compassionate to them; so this shall be my covenant with thee and with thy children, that I will no more cause the flood to come upon the earth; and if they commit evil, I will reprove them with another punishment.
And Noah being blessed by God, descended the mountain, and dwelt in Agori. When his seed multiplied, they went down to Itchevan and there they dwelt three hundred years. And his two sons, Andoon and Manetoon, as well as the other children, were fruitful and multiplied, and populated Nakhitchevan, and from there they re-populated the whole world. And the name of the place was called Nakhitchevan, and there is Noah's tomb.
ADAM'S WORDS UNTO SETH
Adam said unto Seth: My son, this was not our dwelling place; this was the dwelling of the wild beasts and animals; but our dwelling place was in Eden, towards the east, in the Garden. For God created us, and put us in Paradise, and commanded us of which fruit we should eat and of which we should eat not; but we kept not his commandment; so we were robbed of the Divine glory and were sent out the of Garden.
And Seth, the son of consolation, hearing such things from his father, considered them; and he went away, and for forty days and forty nights he did neither eat bread nor drink water. And in his prayer he said unto the Lord: Almighty, all-powerful Lord, hear favorably my prayer. And in the meantime he saw an angel coming and holding in his hand a branch of joy; and he gave it unto Seth, saying : This is thy father's consolation. And Seth returned thanks unto Christ, the Giver of life, who granted and fulfilled his prayer favorably.
And Seth took the branch and brought it unto Adam, his father, saying: Father, this comes from thy dwelling place.
And Adam took the branch, and put it upon his eyes; and his eyes were opened, and he looked and saw that the branch was from that tree from which he tasted death. And he said unto his son: Seth, my son; this branch is from that tree, of which the Lord commanded us to eat not.
And Seth said unto his father: Father, know that as it caused death, so it giveth life, and even has given light.
And Adam offered thanks unto God, and also blessed Seth, his son; and according to the command of the Lord, he returned unto dust, out of which he was created.
And some time afterwards, Seth repeated these same words unto Enoch , saying: Adam, my father, said that this dwelling was not ours, but it was the dwelling of the wild beasts and of other creatures, and our dwelling was in Eden, towards the east. And when God created our father. He put him in the Garden, and commanded him of which fruit he should eat and of which he should not eat. But not having kept His commandment, he was deprived of the Divine light, and expelled from the Garden, and became equal to the brutes. And Enoch considered this thing, and for forty days and forty nights he tasted nothing. And thereafter he planted a beautiful garden, and put in it all kinds of fruitful trees. And he lived in that garden five hundred and forty-two years, after which he was taken up into heaven with his body, and obtained the Divine glory and light.