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This excerpt is taken from a translated version of the Midrash. The Midrash is made up of stories which expand upon biblical narratives and interpret them by providing imaginary contexts.

The Legends of the Jewsby Louis Ginzberg



The extraordinary qualities with which Adam was blessed, physical and spiritual as well, aroused the envy of the angels. They attempted to consume him with fire, and he would have perished, had not the protecting hand of God rested upon him, and established peace between him and the heavenly host.

In particular, Satan was jealous of the first man, and his evil thoughts finally led to his fall. After Adam had been endowed with a soul, God invited all the angels to come and pay him reverence and homage. Satan, the greatest of the angels in heaven, with twelve wings, instead of six like all the others, refused to pay heed to the behest of God, saying, "You did create us angels from the splendor of the Shekinah, and now you command us to cast ourselves down before the creature which you did fashion out of the dust of the ground!"

God answered, "Yet this dust of the ground has more wisdom and understanding than you."

Satan demanded a trial of wit with Adam, and God assented thereto, saying: "I have created beasts, birds, and reptiles, I shall have them all come before you and before Adam. If you are able to give them names, I shall command Adam to show honor unto thee, and you shall rest next to the Shekinah of My glory. But if not, and Adam calls them by the names I have assigned to them, then you will be subject to Adam, and he shall have a place in My garden, and cultivate it." Thus spoke God, and He took Himself to Paradise, Satan following Him.

When Adam beheld God, he said to his wife, "O come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."He was fair to look at. Then he grew proud: The on-going story of Satan from the Word of God.

Now Satan attempted to assign names to the animals. He failed with the first two that presented themselves, the ox and the cow. God led two others before him, the camel and the donkey, with the same result. Then God turned to Adam, and questioned him regarding the names of the same animals, framing His questions in such wise that the first letter of the first word was the same as the first letter of the name of the animal standing before him. Thus Adam divined the proper name, and Satan was forced to acknowledge the superiority of the first man. Nevertheless he broke out in wild outcries that reached the heavens, and he refused to do homage unto Adam as he had been bidden.

The host of angels led by him did likewise, in spite of the urgent representations of Michael, who was the first to prostrate himself before Adam in order to show a good example to the other angels. Michael addressed Satan: "Give adoration to the image of God! But if thou does it not, then the Lord God will break out in wrath against you."

Satan replied: "If He breaks out in wrath against me, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God, I will be like the Most High! "At once God flung Satan and his host out of heaven, down to the earth, and from that moment dates the enmity between Satan and man.'


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