Before the Fall, the Tree of Knowledge, with the commandment not to eat of it, had served as a boundary between Adam and God's glory; after the Fall, however, Adam is kept at a much greater distance, being henceforth prevented from entering Paradise at all by the "inviolate boundary" of the cherub's sharp sword (Genesis 3:24). Paradise now abhors Adam just as the Jewish Law abhorred the ritually unclean leper, keeping him outside the Israelite camp, but, just as the Law made provision for the leper's re-entry into Israelite society, so too Christ the High Priest provides for the restoration of Adam/humanity to Paradise.
The Just One saw how Adam had become audacious
because He had been lenient,
and He knew that he would overstep again
if He continued thus;
Adam had trampled down
that gentle and pleasant boundary,
so instead God made for him
a boundary guarded by force.
The mere words of the commandment
had been the boundary to the Tree,
but now the cherub and the sharp sword
provided the fence to Paradise. [ Gen 3:24 ]
Deem me worthy that through Your grace
we may enter Your Paradise
Adam in all his filth
sought to enter
that Holy of Holies
which loves only those who resemble it; Gen 3:24
and because he made bold to enter
that inner tabernacle,
God did not allow him to enter
the outer one either.
When that sea full of life
saw a corpse in its midst,
it did not leave it there
but cast it forth
Moses depicted the type
among the people of the Hebrews:
when a man becomes leprous
within the encampment
he is driven from its midst
and cast outside;
while if he sloughs off his leprosy
and makes supplication, [ Lev 13:46 ]
the priest purifies him
with hyssop, blood and water, [ Lev 14:1-9 ]
and he returns to his former abode
and enters into his inheritance
Adam had been most pure
in that fair Garden,
but he became leprous and repulsive
because the serpent had breathed on him.
The Garden cast him from its midst;
all shining, it thrust him forth.
The High Priest, [ Hebr 9:11 ] the Exalted One,
cast out from Himself:
He stooped down and came to him,
He cleansed him with hyssop,
and led him back to Paradise.
Adam had been naked and fair,
but his diligent wife
labored and made for him
a garment covered with stains.
The Garden, seeing him thus vile,
drove him forth.
Through Mary Adam had
which adorned the thief; [ Luke 23:43 ]
and when he became resplendent at Christ's
the Garden, looking on,
embraced him in Adam's place
Moses who doubted
saw but did not enter
the land of God's promise; [ Deut 32:50-52, 34:4 ]
the Jordan served as a boundary.
Adam went astray and left
the Garden of Life; the cherub became a fence.
Both boundaries were set
by the hand of our Lord,
but at the Resurrection they both entered:
Moses, into that land,
and Adam into Paradise
The tongue cannot relate
the description of innermost Paradise,
nor indeed does it suffice
for the beauties of the outer part;
for even the simple adornments
by the Garden's fence
cannot be related
~n an adequate way.
For the colors of Paradise are full of joy,
its scents most wonderful,
its beauties most desirable,
and its delicacies glorious
Even though the treasure
that adjoins the fence is lowly,
yet it surpasses all other treasures
in the world entire;
and by as much as the slopes, too,
are lowly in comparison
with that treasury
of the summit on high,
so the blessed state by the fence
is more glorious and exalted
than all that we experience as blessed,
who live in the valley below
Be not angry that my tongue
has presumed to describe a theme
too great for it,
and so, through its own inadequacy, has
diminished that greatness.
As there is no mirror adequate
to reflect its beauty,
which may portray it,
then may my attempt not be rejected,
for I have labored to compose
in my description of Paradise
a means whereby we may gain profit.
The mourner can find comfort therein,
the child be educated thereby,
the chaste become radiant through it,
the needy find provision from it.
And so let each one of them throw me
his little coin,*
and may they all make supplication for me
so that I may enter that place
whereof I have spoken in so far as I am able;
and so that the downcast may become desirous
of the riches that it promises.
May my purpose not be judged
by You, O Knower of all things;
may my search not be held blameworthy
by You, concealed from all;
for I have not made bold to speak
of Your generation, hidden from all;
I have bounded the Word.
Yet because I have honored Your birth,
allow me to dwell in Your Paradise.
From all who love You
be praise to Your hiddenness!
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