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Adiel by Shlomo DuNour

ISBN 1 902881 00 1, Hardcover, $19.95

Ten generations have passed and passed away since I came, at my Lord's command, to this earth. I was here when Adam and Eve came, expelled from the Garden, cold and shivering and fearful of the wrath of the Creator. Today I see the last of mankind drowning and perishing in the waters of the flood.

Whole days and nights the Lord has sent unceasing rains to fall. The windows of the heavens were opened at His command, and are open still. From the vantage point of my cave, high in the mountains of Ararat, I see the waters swelling and mounting. And if this rain continues to fall, in a few more days the water will lick the mouth of the cave, and I shall be compelled to take flight and abandon my last refuge on the face of the earth. If the Lord commands me to return to the Garden, there I shall return, and my only consolation will be to meet again with Michael, my brother and my friend. If I receive no such orders, I shall return to the orbit of the sun from whence I came, and resume my service as a junior angel in the Uriels, who push and drag the sun from East to West.

From the mouth of the cave I see the pitiful ark in which all the living things permitted to survive are enclosed and imprisoned. By the will and by the choice of the Lord only one family has been spared, the family of Noah, sole survivors of the family of mankind on the earth. All the others, men and women, young and old, have already drowned in the waters of the flood. Their swollen and shattered bodies drift on the surface of the water, stirring with every breath of wind and every ripple. Their spirit and their soul have left them, and they are tossed about like logs on the water. All the fields are covered with water, and flocks of birds swoop down on man and beast alike and rip their flesh.

From beneath the water, fish nibble at the tide of corpses.

Angels are not supposed to weep, and yet my eyes have streamed with tears at the sights that I have beheld. In the ten generations that I lived among men I have learned many things from them. These have been days when men lived long, long lives, with the generations living side by side, tender infants along with mature men six, seven, eight hundred years old. I have learned to rejoice and to mourn, to laugh and to weep, to hope and despair. It was only hatred that I never learnt, since the Lord's implant in me did not contain the seeds of hatred, the bitter fruits of which I have been given ample opportunity to see with my own eyes in the many years that I have lived amid mankind.

Since the flood began I have seen wretched people weeping bitterly, I have seen mothers mourning the death of their children. Who will weep for the people whose bodies are already distorted beyond recognition? Who will mourn for the children, the last of whom are floating, like balls, in the heart of the great sea that covers the face of the earth? I saw them fair and strong. I saw them born with the first cry of life. I watched them growing old, storing up years and wisdom, memory and oblivion. I saw them seeking kinship and warmth by night and by day, working by the sweat of their brows, working the land that the Lord had cursed on their account.

What I saw, the Lord has commanded me to remember and to relate. I am the witness, I am the memory of deeds both good and bad, performed by men upon the earth. For this purpose the Lord chose me from among my fellow Uriels, and this I shall do. I shall not deviate from what I saw, neither add nor subtract, not turn aside to right or to left, for I am the recorder and the witness. It is not for me to judge, to suppress, to ignore or to exaggerate. I shall tell only what I have seen.

Will the Lord who sent the rain to destroy every living thing and to crush humanity, not mourn and not weep Himself, seeing the ruin that His hands have wrought? Is it only I, who have lived ten generations in the midst of all these people, that am left to lament their annihilation.

The water is still rising. What I saw yesterday has already disappeared beneath the water, and what I see today will yet be covered and will disappear.

Will the ark endure this relentless buffeting? It is a frail wooden shell, at the mercy of every blast of wind. Within it is the last storehouse of the living things spared by the Lord Ń Noah and his household and two by two, male and female, every creature of the LordŐs creation. This splendid, glorious world, the perfection of beauty and wisdom, without compare in the entire universe for all its myriad stars and planets of the Lord's creation, is borne, here, within this frail wooden shell. How will the ark be able to remain afloat for many more days in these tempestuous waters? Will life be sustained in its cramped compartments below deck? Will the humans survive in the dark, in the stench and the overcrowding? Is there enough food in the ark for all? Doubts begin to penetrate my heart.

I wonder about the actions of the Lord. I ask myself about the steadfastness of His promise to mankind. Has it been in order to restore life to humanity that the Lord has spared survivors in whose memory this calamity will forever be inscribed, like darkness at noon. Is what they are experiencing now not like a chasm gaping before their feet, like the void and the chaos of the days before Creation. And is this state preceding Creation not one to which the Lord is sending His world back? It is hard for me to endure this thought, and I stop myself. I am only the witness and the narrator who records the memory of things that have been, and it is not for me to entertain such doubts or to question the purpose of the LordŐs decrees. His wisdom is beyond reproach; His beyond any question. His word I shall obey and His commands I shall fulfil, and my doubts and questions I shall store away deep in the recesses of time, until the Lord may consent to illuminate them with his wisdom.

My name is Adiel.

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