Abraham and his forefathers belonged to a very peculiar type of a mighty race. They led a pastoral life. They were not really natives of Dr, in Chaldea, but they had removed there. They exercised special authority and jurisdiction. Here and there, they took possession of certain regions where good pasturage was found. They marked off the boundaries, erected an altar of stones, and the land thus enclosed became their property. Something happened to Abraham in his early childhood similar to that which occurred to the child Moses by which his nurse saved his life. It had been prophesied to the ruler of the country that a wonderful child would be born whose birth would be very fatal to his interests. The ruler took measures accordingly, on which account Abraham’s mother concealed herself before his birth in the same cave in which Seth had been hidden by Eve. There Abraham was born, and there secretly reared by his nurse, Maraha. She passed for a poor slave who worked in the wilderness. Her hut was near this cave, which was named after her the She was, after her death and in accordance with her own request, buried there by Abraham.
Abraham was a remarkably large child. When, on account of his unusual size, he was of an age to pass for a child born before the prophecy alluded to, his parents took him home. But his precocious wisdom exposed him to danger, so the nurse fled with him, and again concealed him a long time in the same cave. Many children of his age were massacred at that time. Abraham tenderly loved Maraha, his nurse. In after years, in all his peregrinations he took her with him on a camel. She also dwelt with him at Socoth. She died at the age of one hundred years. Abraham hewed out a tomb for her in the white stone which, like a hill, enclosed the cave in which he was born. The cave became a place of devotion, especially for mothers. Throughout the whole of this history, we discover a mysterious prefiguring of the early persecutions which Mary with the Child Jesus had to endure. It was, too, in this same cave that they hid from Herod’s soldiers when they sought the Child.
The father of Abraham received great graces from Heaven, and understood many mysteries. His race possessed the gift of discovering gold in the earth, and he fabricated out of it little idols similar to those that Rachel purloined from Laban. Dr is a place in the north of Chaldea. I perceived in many parts of this region, on mountains and plains, white flames arising, as if the ground were on fire. I know not whether this fire was spontaneous or kindled by man.
Abraham was a great astronomer. He understood the properties of things, and the influence of the stars upon birth. He saw all kinds of things in the stars, but he turned all to God. He followed God in all things and served Him alone. He imparted his knowledge to others in Chaldea, but he traced all back to God.
I saw that in a vision he received from God the order to depart from his own country. God showed him another land, and Abraham next morning, without asking any questions, led forth all his people and departed. I afterward saw him pitching his tent in a region of Palestine which seemed to me to lie around the place where Nazareth subsequently stood. Abraham himself erected here an oblong altar of stone with a tent over it. Once when kneeling before the altar, a light descended from Heaven upon him. An angel, a messenger from God, appeared, said something to him, and presented to him a shining, transparent gift. The angel spoke with Abraham, and the latter received the mysterious Blessing, the Holy Thing from Heaven; he opened his garment and laid it upon his breast. I was told that this was the Sacrament of the Old Testament. Abraham, as yet, knew not what it contained. It was hidden from him, as from us is concealed the substance of the Most Holy Sacrament. But it was given to him as a sacred thing, as a pledge of the promised posterity. The angel was exactly of the same kind as the one that announced to the Blessed Virgin the conception of the Messiah. He was also as gentle and tranquil as Gabriel in the execution of his commission, not so hasty and rapid as I see other angels under similar circumstances. I think Abraham always carried the mysterious gift about with him. The angel spoke to him of Melchisedech who was to celebrate before him the sacrifice which, after the coming of the Messiah, would be accomplished, and which should be continued forever.
Abraham then took from a casket five large bones which he laid upon the altar in the form of a cross. A light burned before it, and he offered sacrifice. The fire burned like a star, the center white and the rays red.
I also saw Abraham with Sara in Egypt. He went thither in obedience to a command from God; first, on account of the famine; and, secondly, to take possession of a treasure which had been carried there by one of Sara’s relatives. The treasure consisted of triangular pieces of gold strung together to form a genealogical table of the children of Noe, and especially of Sem down to Abraham’s own time. It had been taken into Egypt by a daughter of Sara’s maternal aunt, who had gone thither with a pastoral tribe, some of Job’s lateral descendants, who afterward degenerated into a wild state. She had there hired herself as a servant. She had stolen that treasure as later on Rachel did the gods of Laban. The genealogical table was made like the scales of a balance hang-ing on cords. The latter consisted of small triangular pieces strung together, and from them depended single collateral strings. On the gold pieces were figures and letters denoting Noe’s, and especially Sem’s descendants. When the cords were let down, the various pieces all lay together in the dish. I heard, but I have forgotten, the number of shekels (so the sum is called) to which the whole amounted. This family register had fallen into the hands of Pharao and the priests. They made on it various reckonings connected with their own unending chronological calculations, but they never rightly understood it.
When Pharao was visited by heavy afflictions he consulted with his idolatrous priests, and granted to Abraham all he demanded.
Upon Abraham’s return to Palestine, I saw Lot by him in a tent. Abraham was pointing all around with his hand. In his bearing there was something of the deportment of the Three Kings. He wore a long white, woolen garment with sleeves; a plaited white girdle with tassels; and a sort of cowl hanging down the back. On his head was a small cap, and upon his breast a shield in the shape of a heart made of metal or precious stones. His beard was long. I have no words to say how kind and generous Abraham was. If he had anything that pleased another, especially if it were cattle, he offered it to him at once, for he was a declared enemy to envy and covetousness. Lot’s clothing was almost like that of Abraham, but he was not so tall, nor so noble-looking. He was indeed, good, but at the same time a little covetous. I often saw the servants of the two disputing, and I saw Lot separating from Abraham. But as he went, I saw him enveloped in fog. Over Abraham, I saw light. I saw him take down his tents and wander about. He built an altar of field stones, and raised a tent over it. The people of that time were skillful in building out of rough stones, and the master with the servant put his hand to the work. The altar just mentioned was in the region of Hebron, the subsequent dwelling place of Zacharias, the father of the Baptist. The region to which Lot removed was very good, as was all this part of the country toward the Jordan. I saw the cities around Lot’s dwelling place plundered, and Lot himself with all his goods and chattels carried off. I saw a fugitive bear the news to Abraham, who immediately invoked the aid of Heaven. Then gathering his servants together, he surprised the enemy and freed his brother. The latter thanked him gratefully, and was full of regret for having separated from him. The enemy and the warriors in general, especially the giants, were not clothed like Abraham’s followers. Their garments were narrower and shorter; their dress was in many pieces, covered with buttons, stars, and other ornaments. The giants were extraordinarily large people. They brutally and insolently carried off all they could lay their hands upon, but they were often obliged to yield their booty to others who plundered them in turn.
Melchisedech’s Sacrifice of Bread and Wine
I often saw Melchisedech with Abraham. He appeared to him in the same way as did the angels at different times. Once he commanded him a triple sacrifice of doves and other birds, and he prophesied concerning Sodom and Lot. He told him that he would come to him again to sacrifice bread and wine, and he indicated to him, also, for what he should pray to God. Abraham was full of reverence before Melchisedech, and he eagerly awaited the promised sacrifice. As a preparation for it, he built a very beautiful altar and surrounded it with an arbor. When about to come for the sacrifice of bread and wine, Melchisedech sent messengers to command Abraham to make his coming known and to announce him as the King of Salem. Abraham went out to meet him. He knelt before him and received his blessing. This took place in a valley southward from the fertile vale that lies toward Gaza.
Melchisedech came from the region where Jerusalem afterward stood. He had with him a very nimble animal of a gray color. It had a short, broad neck, and it was laden on both sides. On one was a vessel of wine, flat on the side that lay against the beast; on the other, was a box containing rows of flat, oval loaves, likewise the Chalice that I afterward saw used at the Last Supper for the institution of the Blessed Sacrament. It had cups in the shape of little barrels. These vessels were neither of gold nor silver, but transparent as of brownish precious stones. They did not appear to me to have been fabricated by man, they looked as if they had grown. The impression made by Melchisedech was similar to that produced by the Lord during His teaching life. He was very tall and slight, remarkably mild and earnest. He wore a long garment so white and shining that it reminded me of the white raiment that surrounded the Lord at His Transfiguration. Abraham’s white garment was quite dingy compared with it. He wore also a girdle with letters similar to that worn later by the Jewish priests, and like them his head was covered with a small gothic miter during the sacrifice. His hair was shining yellow like long glittering strands of silk, and his countenance was luminous.
Upon Melchisedech’s arrival, he found the King of Sodom already with Abraham in his tent, and around were numbers of people with animals, sacks, and chests. All were very grave and solemn, full of reverence for Melchisedech whose presence inspired awe. He stepped to the altar, which was a kind of tabernacle, wherein he placed the Chalice. There was also a recess in it, I think for the sacrifice. Abraham had laid upon the altar the bones of Adam which Noe had had in the Ark. They now prayed before them that God would fulfill the Promise made to Adam of a future Messiah. Melchisedech spread upon the altar first a red cover, which he had brought with him, and over that a white transparent one. The ceremony reminded me of the Holy Mass. I saw him elevate the bread and wine, offer, bless, and break. He reached to Abraham the Chalice used afterward at the Last Supper in order that he might drink. All the rest of those present drank from the little vessels which were handed around by Abraham and the most distinguished personages. The bread, too, was passed around in morsels larger than those given at Holy Communion in the early times. I saw these morsels shining. They had only been blessed, not consecrated. The angels cannot consecrate. All that partook of the food were filled with new life and drawn nearer to God.
Melchisedech gave bread and wine to Abraham, the former more luminous than that received by the others. Abraham derived from it great strength and such energy of faith that later on at the command of God, he did not hesitate to sacrifice his child of promise. He prophesied in these words: “This is not what Moses upon Sinai gives the Levites.” I know not whether Abraham also offered the sacrifice of bread and wine, but I do know that the Chalice from which he drank was the same used by Jesus at the institution of the Most Holy Sacrament.
When Melchisedech at the sacrifice of bread and wine blessed Abraham, he at the same time ordained him a priest. He spoke over him the words: “The Lord said to my Lord, sit thou at My right hand. Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchisedech. The Lord hath sworn, and He will not repent.”
He laid his hands upon Abraham, and Abraham gave him tithes. I understood the deep signification of Abraham’s giving tithes after his ordination. But the reason of its importance, I no longer recollect.1
I saw also that David, when composing this Psalm, had a vision of Abraham’s ordination by Melchisedech, and that he repeated the last words prophetically. The words, “Sit thou at my right hand,” have a peculiar signification. When the eternal generation of the Son from the Father was shown me in vision, I saw the Son issuing from the right side of the Father as a luminous form surrounded by a triangle, as the Eye of God is depicted, and in the upper corner I saw the Holy Ghost. But it is inexpressible!
I saw that Eve came from the right side of Adam, that the Patriarchs carried the Blessing in their right side, and that they placed the children to whom they delivered it upon their right. Jesus received the stroke of the lance in His right side, and the Church came forth from the same right side. When we enter the Church, we go into the right side of Jesus, and we are in Him united to His Heavenly Father.
I think that Melchisedech’s mission upon earth was ended with this sacrifice and the ordination of Abraham, for after that I saw him no more. The Chalice with the six cups he delivered to Abraham.
Abraham Receives the Sacrament of the Old Covenant
Abraham sat in front of his tent under a large tree by the roadside. He was in prayer. He often sat thus waiting to show hospitality to travelers. As he prayed, he raised his eyes to Heaven and saw, as in a sunbeam, an apparition from God that announced to him the coming of the three He arose and sacrificed a lamb on the altar, before which I saw him kneeling in ecstasy begging for the Redemption of mankind. The altar stood to the right of the large tree in a tent open at top. Further on was a second tent in which the vessels and other utensils for sacrifice were kept. It was to this last that Abraham generally retired when superintending the shepherds who dwelt around here. Still further on, and on the opposite side of the road, was the tent of Sara and her household. The females always lived apart.
Abraham’s sacrifice was almost accomplished when he beheld the three angels appear on the high road. On they came in their girded garments, one after another, an even distance between them. Abraham hurried out to meet them. Bowing low before God, he saluted them, and led them to the tent of the altar. Here they let down their garments and commanded Abraham to kneel. I saw the wonderful things that now happened to Abraham through the ministry of the angels. He was in ecstasy, and all the actions were rapid, as is usual in such states. He heard the first angel announce to Abraham as he knelt that God would bring forth from his posterity a sinless, an immaculate maiden who, while remaining an inviolate virgin, should be the mother of the Redeemer, and that he was now to receive what Adam had lost through sin. Then the angel offered him a shining morsel and made him drink a luminous fluid out of a little cup. After that he blessed him, drawing his right hand in a straight line down from Abraham’s forehead, then from the right and the left shoulder respectively down under the breast, where the three lines of the blessing united. Then with both hands the angel held something like a little luminous cloud toward Abraham’s breast. I saw it entering into him, and I felt as if he were receiving the Blessed Sacrament.
The second angel told Abraham that he should before his death impart the Mystery of this Blessing to Sara’s firstborn, in the same way that he had himself received it. He informed him also that his future grandson, Jacob, would be the father of twelve sons from whom twelve tribes should spring. The angel told him also that this Blessing would be withdrawn from Jacob; but that after Jacob had become a nation, it should be again restored and placed in the Ark of the Covenant as a Holy Thing belonging to the whole nation. It should be theirs as long as they gave themselves to prayer. The angel explained to Abraham that, on account of the wickedness of men, the Mystery would be removed from the Ark and confided to the Patriarchs and that at last it would be given over to a man who would be the father of the promised Virgin. I heard also in this promise that by six prophetesses and through star pictures it had been made known to the heathens that the Redemption of the world should be accomplished through a virgin.
All this was made known to Abraham in vision, and he saw the Virgin appear in the heavens, an angel hovering at her right and touching her lips with a branch. From the mantle of the Virgin issued the Church.
The third angel foretold to Abraham the birth of Isaac. I saw Abraham so full of joy over the promised holy Virgin and the vision he had had of her that he gave no thought to Isaac, and I think that this same promise made the command he subsequently received to sacrifice Isaac easy to him. After these holy communications, I saw first the entertainment of the angels and then the laughing of Sara. I saw Abraham escorting the angels at their departure, and I heard him supplicating for Sodom.
When Abraham awoke from ecstasy, he led the angels under the tree and placed stools around it. The angels sat down, and he washed their feet. Then Abraham hurried to Sara’s tent to tell her to prepare a meal for his guests. This she did and, veiling herself, she carried it halfway to them. The meal over, Abraham accompanied the angels a short distance on their journey. It was then that Sara heard them speak to him of the birth of a son. She had approached them behind the enclosure of the tent. She laughed. I saw numbers of doves tame as hens before the tents. The meal consisted of the same kind of birds, round loaves, and honey.
Abraham at his departure from Chaldea had already received the Mystery of the Blessing from an angel, but it was given to him in a veiled manner, and was more like a pledge of fulfillment of the promise that he should be the father of an innumerable people. Now, however, the Mystery was resuscitated in him by the angels, and he was enlightened upon it.
Rebecca knew that Esau had no share in the Divine Mystery. Esau was dull, rough, and slothful; Jacob was very active and shrewd, more like his mother. Isaac, however, was more partial to Esau as his firstborn. Esau was often away from home hunting. Rebecca often pondered how she could procure the birthright, the Blessing, for Jacob, and she taught him how to go about buying it. The mess of pottage for which Esau sold it was composed of vegetables, meat, and green leaves like lettuce. Esau came home tired from the chase. Jacob coaxed him, and received the surrender of the birthright.
Isaac was at this time very old and blind. He feared he would soon die, and consequently he was anxious to give his Blessing over to Esau. Rebecca, who knew that Jacob should and must have it, could not persuade Isaac to give it to him. She was on that account very much afflicted, and went around quite anxious. When she found that Isaac would no longer be withheld from imparting the Blessing, and that he called to him Esau who was in the neighborhood, she laid her plans. She told Jacob to hide when his brother came in that he might not be seen. Isaac ordered Esau to go bring him something of his hunting. Then Rebecca sent Jacob to get a kid from the flock, and hardly was Esau gone when the dish for Isaac was prepared.
Esau’s best clothes, which Rebecca now put upon Jacob, consisted of a jacket very like Jacob’s own, only stiffer and embroidered on the breast in colors. Esau’s arms and breast were covered with thick, black hair like wool, his skin being like the skin of an animal; therefore Rebecca wrapped a part of the kid’s skin around Jacob’s arms and put a piece upon his breast where the jacket lay open. This jacket differed from the one usually worn only by the amount of work upon it. It was slit at the sides, and passed over the head by a hole which was bound with soft, brownish leather. The side slits were fastened together with leather strings, and when a girdle was worn over it, the fullness around the breast served as a pocket. No garment was worn under this jacket, which was sleeveless and left the breast bare. The headgear and apron worn with the jacket were brownish, or gray.
I saw Isaac feeling Jacob’s breast and hands where Esau was full of hair. I saw that he wavered a little, he was troubled and doubting. But then came the thought that, notwithstanding his doubts, it was certainly Esau and that God willed him to have the Blessing. And so he made over to Jacob that Blessing which he had received from Abraham, and Abraham from the angel. He had, with Rebecca’s assistance, previously prepared something mystical which was connected with it; viz., a drink in a cup.
The other children of the Patriarchs knew not of it. Only the one that received the Blessing knew of the Mystery which, however, still remained to him, as to us the Blessed Sacrament, a mystery. The cup was rather flat on one side. It was transparent and shone like mother-of-pearl. It was filled with something red, something like blood, and I felt that it was Isaac’s blood. Rebecca had helped to prepare it.
When Isaac blessed Jacob, they were alone. Jacob bared his breast and stood before his father. Isaac drew the hand with which he gave the Blessing from Jacob’s forehead straight down to the abdomen, from the right shoulder to the same point, and the same from the left shoulder. Then he laid his right hand on Jacob’s head and his left upon the pit of his stomach, and Jacob drank the contents of the little cup. And now it seemed as if Isaac delivered to him all things, all power, all strength, while with both hands he took, as it were, something out of his own person and placed it in that of Jacob. I felt that this something was his own strength, that it was the Blessing. All this time, Isaac was praying aloud. While giving over the Blessing, Isaac sat erect on his couch; he became animated, and rays of light streamed from him. When Isaac drew his hand down in giving the Blessing, Jacob held both of his open and half-raised, as the priest does at the but when the father merely prayed, Jacob kept them crossed on his breast. When Isaac delivered the Blessing to Jacob, the latter received it and crossed his hands under his breast like one who is holding something. At the close of the ceremony, Isaac laid his hands upon Jacob’s head and upon the region of the stomach, and then Jacob received the cup out of which he had drunk.
When the imparting of the Blessing had been accomplished, I saw Isaac swooning, either from exertion or from having actually given over and parted with his strength. But Jacob was radiant, quickened, full of life and strength. And now came Esau from the hunt.
When Isaac discovered that the Blessing had been transferred to the wrong one, he had no regret, he recognized it to be God’s will. But Esau was mad with rage, he tore his hair. Still, in his fury there seemed to be more envy of Jacob than grief for the lost Blessing.
Both Esau and Jacob were full-grown men, over forty years old at the time of the transfer of the Blessing. Esau already had two wives who were not much liked by his parents. When Rebecca saw Esau’s rage, she sent Jacob away secretly to her brother Laban. I saw his departure. He wore a jacket that reached to the waist, an apron as far as the knees, sandals on his feet, and a band wrapped round his head. In his hand was a shepherd’s staff, a small sack containing bread hung from his shoulder, and under his arm was a flask. This was all he took with him. I saw him hur-rying off followed by the tears of his mother. Isaac had blessed him a second time, and commanded him to go to Laban, and to take a wife in his new home. Isaac and Rebecca had much to endure from Esau. Rebecca especially had much sorrow.
I saw Jacob, on his journey to Mesopotamia, lying asleep on the spot where Bethel afterward stood. The sun had set. Jacob lay stretched on his back, a stone under his head, his staff resting on his arm. Then I saw the ladder that Jacob beheld in his dream, and which in the Bible is described as “standing upon the earth, and the top thereof touching heaven.” I saw this ladder rising up to heaven from Jacob where he lay upon the earth. It was like a living genealogical tree of his posterity. I saw below on the earth, just as those genealogical trees are represented, a green trunk as if growing out of the sleeping Jacob. It divided into three branches which arose in the form of a triangular pyramid whose apex reached the heavens. The three branches were connected by other smaller ones that formed a three-sided pyramidal ladder. I saw this ladder surrounded by numerous apparitions. I saw on it Jacob’s descendants, one above another; they formed the ancestry of Jesus according to the flesh. They often crossed over from side to side, stepping past and even before one another. Some stood back and others from the opposite side stepped before them, according as the germ of the Sacred Humanity was clouded by sin and then again purified by continence until at last the pure flower, the Holy Virgin in whom God willed to become Man appeared on the highest point of the ladder touching the heavens. I saw Heaven open above her and disclose the splendor of God. God spoke thence to Jacob.
I saw Jacob awake the next morning. First, he built a round foundation of stone on which he laid a flat stone, then he raised upon this the stone which he had placed under his head the preceding night. Lastly he made a fire and offered something in sacrifice; he also poured something into the fire on the stone. He knelt while praying, and I think he kindled the fire as the Three Kings did, that is, by friction.
I saw Jacob in many other places also, at Bethel for instance, as he journeyed to Laban, staff in hand. I saw him at Ainon where he had been before and where he repaired a cistern which later on became John’s fountain of baptism. I saw him even at that early period, praying at the spot Mahanaim. He begged Almighty God to protect him and also to keep his clothes from becoming shabby lest, on his arrival in Mesopotamia, his uncle Laban on account of his miserable appearance might not acknowledge him. Then he beheld two troops of angels hovering on either side of him like two armies. This was shown him as a sign of God’s protection over him, and of the power which should be given unto him. The fulfillment of this vision, he saw on his return journey.
Then I saw him going further eastward, along the south side of the river Jabok, and passing a night on the spot where he afterward wrestled with the angel. Here too, he had a vision.
On Jacob’s return from Mesopotamia, his encampment lay east of the encampment of the subsequent Jabesch Gilead. I saw Laban, his father-in-law, following him in pursuit of his lost idols. He overtook him, and words ran high between them on the score of the idols, for Jacob did not know that Rachel had secretly brought them with her. When Rachel saw that her father, who had been searching the whole encampment for his lost treasures, would soon reach her tent, she took the stolen idols and hid them under a heap of fodder not far from her own tent. The idols were metal dolls, about two and a half arms long in swaddling clothes. The heaps of fodder were on a slope of the valley south of the Jabok, and were for the use of the camels. Rachel muffled herself up and sat down on one of them, as if she were sick and had retired for awhile. Many other women sat like her on the other heaps. On a similar, though somewhat larger straw heap, I have seen the leprous Job sitting. That on which Rachel sat was of the size of a full harvest wagon. They brought quantities of fodder with them on the camels, and on the way often laid in fresh supplies of it. These idols had long been a subject of scandal to Rachel, and she carried them off merely to disengage her father from them.
Jacob had sent messengers to Esau, of whom he was in dread. They returned with the news that Esau was at hand with four hundred men. Then Jacob divided his whole train into two bands. His best flocks he divided into several and sent them on to Esau. He led his followers to Mahanaim where he had for the second time the vision which he had seen on his setting out; viz., the vision of the angelic armies. He said: “With my staff did I set out, but I am now richer by two armies.” He now understood the signification of that first vision.
When his whole train had crossed the Jabok, Jacob sent his wives and children over by night, and remained alone. Then he ordered his tent to be erected on the spot where, on his journey from Palestine, he had seen the face of God. He wanted to pray there by night. He ordered his tent to be closed on all sides, and bade his servants retire to some distance. Then I saw him crying with his whole heart to God. He laid all things before Him, especially his great anxiety with regard to Esau. The tent was open above, that he might better send forth his sighs to Heaven.
Then I saw him wrestling with the angel. It took place in a vision. Jacob arose and prayed. Then there descended from above a light in which was a great luminous figure, which began to wrestle with Jacob, as if wanting to push him out of the tent. They wrestled here and there, up and down, in all directions through the tent. The apparition acted as if wanting to draw Jacob toward all the cardinal points, but Jacob always faced about to the center of the tent. This struggle prefigured the fact that Israel, though pressed on all sides, should not be forced from Palestine.
But when Jacob once again faced to the middle of the tent, the angel grasped him by the hip. I saw this took place when Jacob, who was wrestling in vision, wanted to cast himself upon his couch, or sink back upon it. When the angel touched Jacob’s hip and at the same time did what he wanted to do, he said to the latter who was holding him fast: “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!” Then Jacob ceased struggling and awoke from his vision. Seeing the angel of God still standing before him, he cried: “No, I will not let thee go until thou bless me!” He felt the need of God’s blessing, for he knew that strength had departed from him and that Esau was at hand. Then spoke the angel: “How art thou called?” (This belonged to the Blessing. Abram also at his Blessing was named Abraham). He answered: “Jacob.” Then said the angel: “Thou shalt be called Israel, for thou hast wrestled with God and men and hast not been vanquished.” Then Jacob said: “How art thou called?” And the angel answered: “Why dost thou ask me how I am called?”—which words signified: “Dost thou not know me? Hast thou not already learned who I am?” And Jacob knelt before him, and received the blessing. The angel blessed him as Abraham had been blessed by God, as Abraham had imparted the blessing to Isaac, and Isaac to Jacob; viz., in three lines. This blessing was especially to ensure patience and perseverance. And now the angel vanished. Jacob saw that the dawn was breaking, and he named the place Phanuel. He ordered his tent to be taken down, and he crossed the Jabok to his family. And now the sun arose upon him. He limped on the right side, for he had there been deprived of strength.
When Esau turned off, Jacob went with all his family, his servants, and his herds, to Mahanaim and took possession of the country from Socoth to the hill Ainon. He dwelt ten years at Ainon. He afterward extended his settlement westward from Ainon and over the Jordan to Salem. His tents reached to where Sichem dwelt, for there he bought a field.
I saw Dina walking around there with her maids, and conversing out of curiosity with the Sichemites. I saw Sichem caressing her, for which reason her maids went away, and he took her with him into the city. This was the cause of great sorrow to Dina while bloodshed and slaughter accrued from it to the Sichemites. Sichar1 at that time was not yet a great city. It was built of large, square stones and had only one gate.
The Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had more strength in their right side than in their left; it was not, however, noticeable, for their garments were wide and full. There was in their right side a certain fullness like a swelling. It was the Holy Thing, the Blessing, the Mystery. It was luminous, in shape like a bean, and it contained a germ. The firstborn received it from the father, hence the prerogatives of primogeniture. Jacob received it instead of Esau, because Rebecca knew that he was the one destined for it. In his struggle with the angel, it had been taken away from Jacob, though without producing a wound. It was like a drying up of the swelling. But after the removal of the Blessing, Jacob no longer lived so securely, so immediately under God’s protection. While he possessed the Blessing, he was like one strengthened by a Sacrament; afterward, how-ever, he felt himself humiliated, he was careworn and he experienced great troubles. He was conscious of the Blessing’s having been withdrawn from him, therefore he would not let the angel go until, by a benediction, he had strengthened him. Joseph later on, when in the prison of Pharao, in Egypt, received that same Blessing from an angel.
Joseph and Aseneth
Joseph was sixteen years old when he was sold into Egypt. He was of middle height, very slender and agile, active both in body and mind. He was indeed very different from his brothers, and all felt drawn to love him. Were it not for the marked preference shown him by his father, his brothers also would have loved him. Reuben was of a more lively disposition than the others. Benjamin was a large, ungainly man, but very good-natured, easily led. Joseph wore his hair divided into three, one part on either side of his head, the third falling down behind in long curls. When ruler over Egypt, he wore it short, but afterward allowed it again to grow.
When Jacob bestowed the many-colored coat upon Joseph, he gave over to him also some of the bones of Adam, without telling him, however, what they were. Jacob gave them to Joseph as a precious talisman, for he knew well that his brothers did not love him. Joseph carried the bones on his breast in a little leathern bag rounded on top. When his brothers sold him, they took from him only the colored coat and his customary outer garment, but left the band and a sort of scapular on his breast beneath which he had hung the little bag.
The colored coat was white with broad red stripes. It had on the breast three rows of black cord crossing one another, in the center of which were yellow ornaments. It was full around the breast. When bound at the waist, the fullness served as a pocket. It was narrower toward the lower part of the skirt and had slits at the side, to render motion easier. It fell below the knee, was somewhat longer in the back and open in front. Joseph’s ordinary dress did not reach to the knees.
Joseph was known to Pharao and his wife before his imprisonment. Putiphar’s affairs were so flourishing under Joseph’s management, Putiphar himself was so blessed during Joseph’s stay under his roof, since he conducted all things so well for Pharao, that the latter was eager to see the faithful servant. Pharao’s wife, who was religiously inclined and very desirous of salvation and who had, at the same time, like all the Egyptians, a great hankering after new gods, was so astounded at the wise, intelligent, extraordinary young stranger, that she honored him interiorly as a divinity. She said repeatedly to Pharao: “This man has been sent by our gods. He is not a human being like ourselves.” Hence it carne to pass that he was thrown, not into the common dungeon, but into the prison reserved for the nobility, and there he was made the overseer. Pharao’s wife sincerely deplored his conviction as a malefactor, and thought that she had been mistaken in him. But when he was liberated and again appeared at court, she treated him with great distinction. The cup that Joseph ordered to be placed in Benjamin’s sack was the first present the queen had made to him. I know it well; it had two handles, but no foot. It seemed to have been cut out of one precious stone or one solid transparent mass, I know not which, and was in shape exactly like the upper part of the Chalice used at the Last Supper. It was also among the vessels that the children of Israel took away with them from Egypt, and it was afterward preserved in the Ark of the Covenant.
Joseph was seven years in prison. During his greatest affliction, he received the mysterious Blessing of Jacob in the same manner as the Patriarchs had done. He had a vision also of a numerous posterity.
I know all about Putiphar’s wife. I saw how desirous she was to pervert Joseph, but after his elevation, she did penance and became chaste and devout. She was a tall, powerful woman, her skin of a yellowish-brown and shining like silk. She wore a colored robe over which was one of figured gauze. The lower one shone through it as if through lace. Joseph was thrown much with her, since his master’s affairs were all entrusted to him. But when he became aware of the fact that she had grown more familiar in her manner toward him, he no longer remained in the house overnight during his master’s absence. She often intruded herself upon him when he was busy at his writing. Once I saw her enter his presence in immodest attire. He was standing writing in one corner of a hall. (In those days, they used to write upon rolls of parchment which hung on the wall. The writer either sat or stood before them). She addressed him and he replied. Then she grew bolder, seeing which he turned hurriedly away. She grasped his mantle, but he fled leaving it in her hand.
I saw Joseph with Putiphar’s pagan priests at Heliopolis. Aseneth, the daughter of Dina and the Sichemite, lived with them as a prophetess and a decorator of the idols. Seven other maidens were her companions. Putiphar had bought her from her nurse in her fifth year. This nurse had fled with her to the Red Sea by order of Jacob, that the child might not be murdered by his sons. Aseneth possessed the spirit of prophecy, and was esteemed by Putiphar as a prophetess. Joseph knew her, but he knew not that she was his niece. She was of a very earnest character, she sought seclusion, and in spite of her great beauty, she abhorred the society of men. She was favored with significant visions, was familiar with the Egyptian star worship, and had a secret presentiment of the religion of the Patriarchs. I saw no witchcraft connected with her. She saw in vision the whole mystery of life, the transplanting, the coming to, and the departure of Israel from Egypt, even the long journey through the wilderness. She wrote many rolls on the leaves of a water-plant or on skin. The letters were strange-looking, they were like the heads of birds and animals. These writings were, even during her lifetime, misunderstood by the Egyptians and misconstrued into a sanction for their wicked abominations. Aseneth grieved deeply over this misconception brought about by the evil one, and she shed many tears. She had more numerous visions than any other of her time, and she was filled with wondrous wisdom. She conducted herself gravely, and refused advice to none. She could weave also and embroider. Her enlightened spirit detected man’s corruption of truth, therefore was she grave, reserved, retiring, and silent.
I saw that the misconception of Aseneth’s visions and writings led to her being worshipped under the name of Isis, and Joseph under that of Osiris. This perhaps was the cause of her abundant tears. She also wrote against their erroneous conception of her visions which had led to their proclaiming her the mother of all the gods.
When Putiphar offered sacrifice, Aseneth ascended a tower upon which she seemed to be, as it were, in a little garden. Here she gazed upon the stars by moonlight. She fell into ecstasy, and read all things clearly in the stars. The truth was shown her in pictures, because she was chosen of God. I have seen the pagan priests introduced into strange, diabolical worlds where they beheld the most abominable things. By such diabolical visions were the secret communications of Aseneth disfigured and made to contribute to the abominations of idolatry.
Aseneth introduced many useful arts and domestic animals into Egypt, among the latter, for instance, the cow. She taught the art of making cheese, that of weaving, and many others hitherto unknown to the inhabitants. She also healed many diseases. The plow was introduced by Joseph, who was himself skilled in its use. There was one thing that seemed truly wonderful to me. Aseneth ordered the flesh of the numerous animals slaughtered for sacrifice to be boiled down until it became a gelatinous mass, which served for food on campaigns and in times of scarcity. The operation was carried on in the open air and in caldrons in the earth. The Egyptians were rejoiced and amazed at this new mode of procuring food.
When Joseph met Aseneth at the pagan priest’s dwelling, she approached to embrace him. This she did not through boldness, but impelled by the Spirit. It was in her a kind of prophetic action, and took place in presence of the pagan priest. Aseneth was looked upon as holy. But I saw Joseph keep her off with outstretched hand and address earnest words to her. Then Aseneth, deeply agitated, retired to her own room where she remained in tears and penance.
I saw her in her chamber. She stood concealed by a curtain, her wealth of long and beautiful hair falling around her and curling at the ends. There was impressed on the skin of the pit of her stomach a wonderful sign. In a figure like a heart-shaped shell stood a child with outstretched arms, holding in one hand a small dish, in the other a cup, or chalice. In the dish, were three young ears of corn that appeared to be just breaking out of the husk, and the figure of a dove which seemed to peck after the grapes in the cup held by the child. Jacob knew of this sign; but notwithstanding, he had to send the child away in order to shield her from the rage of his sons. But when he came down into Egypt, and Joseph told him all things, he recognized his granddaughter by this mark. Joseph, too, had a mark of the same kind upon his breast, a very full bunch of grapes.
Now I saw an angel appear in resplendent raiment, holding a lotus in his hand. He saluted Aseneth. She glanced at him and drew her veil around her. He commanded her to dry her tears, to adorn herself in festal robes, and he also requested her to bring him food. She left the room and returned adorned as directed, bringing with her a low table, small and light, upon which were wine and little flat loaves that had been baked in ashes. Aseneth evinced no fear. She was not shy, but simple and humble, just like Abraham and the other Patriarchs when treating with apparitions. When the angel now spoke to her, she unveiled. He asked her for some honey, but she replied that, unlike other maidens who are fond of it, she had none. Thereupon the angel told her that she would find some among the idols that stood in the chamber. These idols were of various forms; they had heads of animals and for bodies serpents coiled downward.
Aseneth looked, and found a beautiful, coarse celled honeycomb, white as the Host of our altars. She set it before the angel, who bade her eat of it. He blessed it, and I saw it shining and flashing between them. I cannot now express the signification of this heavenly honey; for when one sees such things, it is just as they actually are, one knows all. But now, when I try to recall it, the honey appears to be what is called honey, yet I know not what the flowers, the bees, and the honey properly signified. I can only say this much: Aseneth really possessed in herself only bread and wine (or that which is typified by bread and wine), but she had no honey. By the reception of this honey, she issued from idolatry into the light of Israel, into salvation through the Old Law. It signified also that she should aid many souls, that many like bees should build around her. I heard her say that she would drink no more wine, for that now she was more in need of honey. I saw numbers of bees and vast stores of honey in Median near Jethro.
In blessing the honeycomb, the angel directed his finger toward all regions of the world, which signified that, by her presence, her types, and the mystery of its own, the honey’s signification, Aseneth should be a mother and a leader. When later on she was honored as a divinity and represented with numerous breasts, it was in consequence of the misconception of her vision that she should nourish many.
The angel told her that she was destined to be united with Joseph, that she should be his bride, and he blessed her as Isaac had blessed Jacob and as the angel had blessed Abraham. The three lines that constituted the formula of the blessing, were drawn upon her twice, once to the pit of the stomach and once to the abdomen.
After this, I saw in vision Joseph going to Putiphar to demand Aseneth for his wife; but I can only remember that, like the angel, he carried a lotus in his hand. Joseph knew of Aseneth’s wonderful wisdom, but their mutual relationship was hidden from both.
I saw that Pharao’s son likewise was in love with Aseneth, on which account she had to remain secluded. He had persuaded Dan and Gad to espouse his cause, and all three lay in ambush to slay Joseph. But Juda (obeying a divine inspiration, I think) warned Joseph to take another route. Benjamin also conducted himself nobly in this affair, and defended Aseneth. Dan and Gad were punished by the death of their children; for even before it was known to anyone, they had been warned not to enlist in the murderous design.
When Joseph and Aseneth appeared in public, like the pagan priests of Putiphar, they bore in their hand a sign regarded as sacred and emblematic of the highest authority. The upper part was a ring; the lower, a Latin cross, a T. It served as a seal, and when grain was measured and divided the heaps were marked with it. It was used in the same way for the building of granaries and canals, also for the rising and falling of the Nile. Writings were sealed with it after they had first been marked with a red vegetable juice. When Joseph discharged any official duty, this symbol of authority, the cross being clasped in the ring, lay on a cushion at his side. It seemed to me also like a distinctive sign of the mystery of the Ark of the Covenant still enclosed in Joseph.
Aseneth also had an instrument like a wand. When in vision, she followed wherever it led. Where it quivered she struck the earth, and so discovered springs and water. It was made under the influence of the stars.
In the processions of high festivals, Joseph and Aseneth rode upon a glittering chariot. Aseneth wore an ancient shield which enclosed the whole person from below the arms. On it were numerous signs and figures. Her dress reached to her knees, below which the limbs were tightly laced. A wide mantle fell over the back, the sides of which were clasped together over the knees. The toes of her shoes were turned up like skates, and her headdress of colored feathers and pearls was shaped like a helmet.
Joseph wore a tight-fitting coat with sleeves, and over it a golden breastplate covered with figures. Straps with golden knots were crossed around the hips, and from his shoulders fell a mantle. His head ornament was of feathers and precious stones.
When Joseph went to Egypt, New Memphis was being built about seven leagues north of Old Memphis. Between the two cities, built on a dyke, was a highway with walks. Scattered among the trees were idols with grave, sad female faces and bodies of dogs. They sat upon stone slabs. There were as yet no beautiful buildings, only great, long ramparts and artificial stone mountains full of vaults and chambers. The dwellings were slight with a superstructure of wood. There were still great forests and morasses all around. At the flight of Mary into Egypt, the Nile had already changed its course.
The Egyptians worshipped all kinds of animals: toads, serpents, crocodiles. They looked on quite coolly while a person was being devoured by a crocodile. At Joseph’s coming, the worship of the bull had not yet come into practice. It was introduced in consequence of Pharao’s dream of the seven fat and the seven lean cows. They had numerous kinds of idols; some like swaddled children, others like coiled serpents, some of which could be made longer or shorter at pleasure. A great many of the idols were adorned with breastplates on which the plans of cities and the course of the Nile were curiously inscribed. These shields were made in accordance with the pictures which the pagan priests traced in the stars, and after whose plan they built cities and canals. New Memphis was founded in this way.
The evil spirits at that time must have possessed a different, a more material power, for I saw that Egyptian sorcery came out of the earth, out of the abyss. When a pagan priest began his enchantments, I saw figures of all kinds of ugly animals arise out of the ground around the sorcerer and enter his mouth in a current of black vapor. He became thereby entranced and clear-sighted. It was as if, at the entrance of each spirit, a world hitherto closed was opened up to him and he saw things far and near, the abysses of the earth, countries, human beings, in fine, all things over which each particular spirit exerted an influence. Modern witchcraft always appears to me to be more under the influence of the spirits of the air. What the wizard saw by the aid of these spirits appeared like a delusion, a mirage, which they conjured up before him. I could see far beyond these pictures, for they were like shadows. It was as if one looked behind a curtain.
When the Egyptian pagan priests intended to read the stars, they fasted as a preparation, performed certain purifications, clothed themselves in sackcloth, and sprinkled themselves with ashes. While they gazed upon the stars from their tower, sacrifices were offered. The pagans of those times had a confused know ledge of the religious mysteries of the true God which had been handed down from Seth, Henoch, Noe, and the Patriarchs to the chosen people, therefore were there so many abominations in their idolatry. The devil made use of them, as later on of heresy, to weave the pure, unclouded, authentic revelations of God into a snare for man’s destruction. Therefore God enveloped the Mystery of the Ark of the Covenant in fire in order to preserve it.
The women of Egypt in Joseph’s time were still clothed like Semiramis.
When Jacob went into Egypt to Joseph, he pursued the same route through the wilderness by which later on Moses journeyed to the Promised Land. Jacob knew that he would see Joseph again; he always had a presentiment of this in his heart. He had even on this journey to Mesopotamia at the place upon which he erected the altar (not where he saw the ladder) a vision of his future sons. One he saw, in the region where Joseph was sold, sink from sight and like a star rise again in the south. He exclaimed therefore when they brought him the bloodstained coat, the foregoing circumstance almost forgotten recurring to him: “I shall weep for Joseph until I find him again.”
Jacob had, through Reuben, made many inquiries as to whom Joseph had married, but had not yet been entirely enlightened on the point that Joseph’s wife was his own niece. Reuben and Putiphar were old acquaintances. Owing to the influence of the former, the latter received circumcision and served the God of Jacob.
Jacob dwelt about a day’s journey distant from Joseph. When he fell sick, Joseph drove in a chariot to see him. Jacob questioned him closely about Aseneth and, when he heard of the sign on her per-son, he exclaimed: “She is flesh of thy flesh. She is bone of thy bone!” and he revealed to Joseph who she was. Joseph was so deeply affected that he almost lost consciousness. On his return home, he told his wife, and both shed tears to their heart’s content over the news.
Some time after, Jacob grew worse, and Joseph was again by his side. Jacob put his feet from the couch to the floor, and Joseph had to lay his hand under his father’s hip, and swear to bury him in Canaan. While Joseph swore, Jacob adored the Blessing hidden in him, for he knew that Joseph had received from an angel the Blessing that had been withdrawn from himself. Joseph bore this Blessing in his right side until death. Even after death, it lay enclosed in his body until the night before the departure of the Israelites, when Moses took possession of it and placed it in the Ark of the Covenant, together with the remains of Joseph, as the Sacred Thing of the chosen people.
Three months after his visit, Jacob died. Both Jews and Egyptians celebrated his obsequies and sounded his praises, for he was greatly loved.
Aseneth bore to Joseph first Manasses and Ephraim, then other children, in all eighteen, among them several twins. She died three years before Joseph, and was embalmed by Jewish women. As long as Joseph lived, her body stood in his own monument. But the ancients of the people had taken some part of her intestines which they preserved in a little golden figure; and as the Egyptians also aspired to its possession, it was entrusted to the Jewish midwives. One of these women placed it in a reed box smeared with pitch and concealed it in the bulrushes near the canal. On the night of the Departure, a nurse of the tribe of Aser brought this secret thing to Moses. The woman’s name was Sara.
Joseph, at his death, was embalmed by the Jews in presence of the Egyptians. Then were placed together the remains of Joseph and Aseneth in compliance with the notes that the latter had made from her visions and had left to the Jews. The Egyptian priests and astrologers had placed Joseph and Aseneth among their own divinities. They had some inkling of the notes left by Aseneth and a presentiment of the high influence, the blessing that she and Joseph would be for Israel. But that blessing they coveted for themselves, and therefore, they sought to oppress Israel. It was on this account that the Israelites, who multiplied astonishingly after Joseph’s death, were so harassed by Pharao. The Egyptians knew well that the Israelites would not leave the country without the bones of Joseph; consequently at several different times they stole some of the remains of Joseph and at last got entire possession of them. The Jewish people at large knew only of Joseph’s corpse, but not of the Mystery that it contained. That was known to only a few. But the entire nation grieved deeply when the ancients found out and made known to them that the Holy Thing upon which the Promise rested had been stolen. Moses, who had been reared at Pharao’s court in all the Egyptian wisdom, visited his people and learned the cause of their grief. When he murdered the Egyptian, God ordained that as a fugitive he should go to Jethro, since the latter by his connection with Syble Segola would be able to help him to discover the purloined Mystery. Moses had, also, at the command of God, married Sephora in order to incorporate that family into the house of Israel.
Segola was the natural daughter of Pharao by a Jewish mother. Although reared in the Egyptian star worship, she was very fond of the Jews. It was she that had divulged to Moses while still at court that he was not a son of Pharao.
Aaron, after the death of his first wife, had to marry a daughter of this Segola, in order that the mother’s influence with the Israelites might be increased. The children of this marriage went with the Israelites at their departure from Egypt. But Aaron was obliged to separate from his wife that the Aaronic priesthood might spring from a purely Jewish stock. Segola’s daughter, after her separation from Aaron, married again. Her descendants, at the time of the Saviour, dwelt at Abila whither her mummy had been brought by them.
Segola was very enlightened and possessed great influence over Pharao. She had on her forehead a bump such as many of the Prophets had in olden times. She was led by the Spirit to procure numerous favors and gifts for the Israelites.
On the night upon which the angel of the Lord struck the firstborn of the Egyptians, Segola, wrapped in her veil, accompanied Moses, Aaron, and three other Israelites to two sepulchral mounds which were separated by a canal over which lay a bridge. The canal flowed between Memphis and Goshen into the Nile. The entrance into the mounds was under the bridge and below the surface of the water. Steps led from the bridge down to it. Segola descended alone with Moses. She cast into the water a scrap of paper upon which was inscribed the name of God. The water retreated and left the entrance to the monument free. They struck on the stone door and it opened inward. Then they called to the others to come down. When they did so, Moses bound their hands together with his stole and made them swear to protect the Mystery. After the oath, he loosed their hands, and all entered the vault where they struck a light, which showed all kinds of passages with images of the dead standing therein.
Joseph’s body, with the remains of Aseneth, lay in an Egyptian tauriform, metal coffin, which shone like polished gold. The back formed a cover. This they lifted off, and Moses took the Mystery out of the hollow body of Joseph, wrapped it in cloths, and handed it to Segola who carried it in her arms concealed under her garments. The remaining bones were placed together upon a stone, wrapped in cloths, and carried away by the men. Now that they had gained pos-session of the Sacred Thing, Israel could depart from the country. Segola wept, but Israel was full of joy.
Moses concealed a relic of Joseph’s body in the top of his staff. This top was in form like a medlar, or persimmon; it was yellowish and surrounded by leaves. It was different from the shepherd’s staff that Moses was commanded to cast on the ground before God and which was there changed to a serpent. It was a reed, the upper and the lower end could be pushed in and drawn out. With the lower point, which appeared to me to be of metal and which was in form like a sharp pencil, Moses touched the rock as if tracing words upon it. The rock opened under the point, and water gushed forth. Water flowed also from the sand wherever Moses made signs upon it with this staff. The upper part of the reed staff, in shape like a medlar, could be pushed in and drawn out; before it the Red Sea divided.
From Joseph’s death to the departure of Israel from Egypt, there were about one hundred and sev-enty years according to our manner of reckoning. But they had at that time another way of reckon-ing, other weeks and years. This was often explained to me, but I cannot now recall it.
While the Israelites lived in Egypt, they had no temple, but only tents. They piled up stones, poured oil over them, sacrificed grain and lambs, sang, and prayed.