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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at


XIV. (1) Who can stand before its might, who can withstand the fury of its wrath? R. Abahu opened his homily with the verse: 'Aluqah has two daughters called Hab, Hab.' R. Eliezer says that these are the two bands of

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angels that stand at the gates of Gehinnom and say, 'Come! come!' Why is it called Gehinnom (Valley of Wailing)? Because the voice of its wailing traverses the world from one end to the other. And why is it called 'Tofteh' (Enticer)? Because all enter therein enticed by their evil inclination.

(2) R. Johanan began his homily with the verse, 'Passing through the valley of weeping, they make it a valley of springs.' This means to say that the sinner confesses, just as the leper confesses; and he says: 'I have committed such and such a transgression in that place, on that day, in the presence of So-and-so, in that society.'

(3) Hell has three gates: one at the sea, the other in the wilderness, and the third in the inhabited part of the world. That at the sea is alluded to in Jonah: 'Out of the belly of Sheol cried I, and thou heardest my voice.' That of the wilderness is alluded to in Numbers: 'So they and all that appertained to them went down alive unto Sheol.' And that in the inhabited portion of the world in Isaiah: 'Saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion and His furnace in Jerusalem.'

(4) Five different kinds of fires are in hell: one devours and absorbs, another absorbs and does not devour, while another, again, neither devours nor absorbs. There is further fire devouring fire. (5) There are coals big as mountains, and coals big as hills, and coals huge like unto the Dead Sea, and coals like huge stones. There are rivers of pitch and sulphur flowing and fuming and seething.

(6) The punishment of the sinner is thus: The angels of destruction throw him to the flame of hell; this opens its mouth wide and swallows him, as it is said, 'Therefore Sheol hath enlarged her desire and opened her mouth without measure, and their glory and their multitude and their pomp, and he that rejoices among them, descends into it.' This all happens to him who has not done one single pious act which would incline the balance towards mercy; (7) whilst that man who possesses many virtues and good actions and learning, and who has suffered much, he is

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saved from hell, as it is said, 'Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff shall comfort me.' 'Thy rod' means the suffering, and 'Thy staff' signifies the law.

(8) R. Johanan began: 'The eyes of the wicked shall fail, and refuge is perished from them, and their hope shall be the giving up of the ghost.' That means, a body which is never destroyed, and whose soul enters a fire which is never extinguished; of these speaks also the verse, 'For their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched.'

Next: XV