Home  »  The Standard Book of Jewish Verse  »  The Angel of Truth

Joseph Friedlander, comp. The Standard Book of Jewish Verse. 1917.

By Leopold Stein

The Angel of Truth

  • Based upon a passage of the Midrash, Bereshit Rabba, Chapter VIII.

  • ONCE th’ omnipotent Maker of world without end

    Bade the hosts of His angels in council attend;

    And thus in His wisdom supernal He spake:

    “In the confines of earth in our image we’ll make

    Man, whose spirit divine shall from Heav’n proclaim him,

    Yet as human we Adam, the earth-born, will name him.”

    Then the band of bright beings, in potent dissent,

    Into two hostile factions asunder were rent.

    “Create him, I pray,” cried the Angel of Love,

    “He will strive to resemble Thy nature above;

    I behold his employment—his labours how blest,

    He ’mid hunger and sickness will aid the distressed;

    With a tear in his eye, and compassion at heart,

    He will freely sweet solace where need is impart.

    Create man, I pray,” cried the Angel of Love,

    “He will strive to resemble Thy spirit above.”

    But the Angel of Faithfulness thereupon rose,

    The creation of man might and main to oppose;

    “He will break the most sacred of compacts, I weet,

    And the words that he utters be fraught with deceit;

    Nought but falsehood will issue from man’s teeming brain,

    Whilst hypocrisy ever forms part of his train.”

    Quoth the Angel of Faithfulness; “God, in Thy plan

    Of creation include not a being like man.”

    Then the Angel of Justice cried: “Heaven! create him,

    Love of Law and promotion of concord await him;

    I behold him fence in the possession of right,

    And all barbarous violence putting to flight;

    With firmly fixed laws states and cities he’ll bind,

    Whilst with order cementing the bonds of mankind.

    Let man be created, then,” Justice implored,

    “By whom harmony jarred shall at last be restored.”

    “O do not make man!” cried the Angel of Peace,

    “For ere long, ’neath his sway law and order shall cease;

    States and cities laid waste will attest where he’s been,

    With his sword steeped in blood of his brother, I ween:

    Dread war and destruction will follow his path,

    And the world be o’erspread with dire carnage and wrath.

    Great spirit of Life! engender him not,

    Who from records of earth law and order will blot.”

    Thus in hopeless divergence, in Heaven’s bright bowers,

    The spirits angelic were spending their powers,

    Till the Angel of Truth, in God’s glory effulgent,

    Thus was summoned to plead in a tone more indulgent.

    “Truth! lead by thy light to the bliss of salvation,

    Free from errors and prejudice man’s aberration,

    That each neighbour beside him a brother may seem,

    God above him the Father of all he shall deem,

    Tho’ for thousands of years his pure mind be o’ercast,

    With thine aid it shall shine all unclouded at last,

    Truth shall still of the claims of strict justice remind him,

    Till persistently seeking blest peace she shall find him,

    Then Truth, Justice, and Peace shall, in process of time,

    Loud proclaim upon earth Heaven’s kingdom sublime.”

    So man was created—though earth clogged his soul—

    May have wandered full oft from its heavenly goal—

    To make known the One Father, who wills that mankind

    Be by Faith and by Truth, Peace and Justice combined,

    Until God shall be King on that glorious day,

    And His sovereign Law all His creatures obey.