Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Pseudepigraphers and Their Pets

The following passages from the Apocalypse of Abraham have always stood out to me:
I am called Jaoel by Him who moveth that which existeth with me on the seventh expanse upon the firmament, a power in virtue of the ineffable Name that is dwelling in me. I am the one who hath been given to restrain, according to His commandment, the threatening attack of the living creatures of the Cherubim against one another ... (10:8-9a)
This last odd comment is expanded upon when Abraham describes his vision of the heavenly throne room:
And as the fire raised itself up, ascending into the height, I saw under the fire a throne of fire, and, round about it all-seeing ones, reciting the song, and under the throne four fiery living creatures singing, and their appearance was one, each one of them with four faces. And such was the appearance of their countenances, of a lion, of a man, of an ox, of an eagle: four heads [were upon their bodies] [so that the four creatures had sixteen faces]; and each had six wings; from their shoulders, [and their sides] and their loins. And with the (two) wings from their shoulders they covered their faces, and with the (two) wings which (sprang) from their loins they covered their feet, while the (two) middle wings they spread out for flying straightforward. And when they had ended the singing, they looked at one another and threatened one another. And it came to pass when the angel who was with me saw that they were threatening each other, he left me and went running to them and turned the countenance of each living creature from the countenance immediately confronting him, in order that they might not see their countenances threatening each other. And he taught them the song of peace which hath its origin [in the Eternal One]. (18:3-11)
Is it just me, or was this passage not written by someone who had watched interactions between house cats, especially when they first meet? Cats can barely tolerate the existence of other cats, and the hissfull reaction of the living creatures (Hayyot) to one another seems entirely true to cat nature. I doubt that I'll ever write this observation up for a journal article, but I still think it's likely that the author of the Apocalypse of Abraham had pet cats.

For more on the living creatures see here.

Another interesting point about the living creatures/Hayyot is that they are (as far as I can find) the only female angels in Jewish tradition.

UPDATE (14 March): For more on cats and the OT Pseudepigrapha (sort of), see here.