Historical Reprints Religion Book of the Bee, The

Book of the Bee, The

Book of the Bee, The
Catalog # SKU1995
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name E. A. Wallis Budge


Book of the Bee

The Syriac Text

Translated By
Ernest A. Wallis Budge

We have called this book the 'Book of the Bee,' because we have gathered of the blossoms of the two Testaments and of the flowers of the holy Books, and have placed them therein for thy benefit. As the common bee with gauzy wings flies about, and flutters over and lights upon flowers of various colours, and upon blossoms of divers odours---

In the 'Book of Memorials' it is thus written: 'This world is the world of repentance, but the world which is to come is the world of retribution. As in this world repentance saves until the last breath, so in the world to come justice exacts to the uttermost farthing. And as it is impossible to see here strict justice unmingled with mercy, so it is impossible to find there strict justice mingled with mercy.'

Excerpt from Introduction

We have gleaned and collected and gathered together chapters and sections relating to this whole universe from the garden of the divine Books and from the crumbs of the Fathers and the Doctors, having laid down as the foundation of our building the beginning of the creation of this world, and concluding with the consummation of the world to come.

We have called this book the 'Book of the Bee,' because we have gathered of the blossoms of the two Testaments and of the flowers of the holy Books, and have placed them therein for thy benefit. As the common bee with gauzy wings flies about, and flutters over and lights upon flowers of various colours, and upon blossoms of divers odours, selecting and gathering from all of them the materials which are useful for the construction of her handiwork; and having first of all collected the materials from the flowers, carries them upon her thighs, and bringing them to her dwelling, lays a foundation for her building with a base of wax; then gathering in her mouth some of the heavenly dew which is upon the blossoms of spring, brings it and blows it into these cells; and weaves the comb and honey for the use of men and her own nourishment: in like manner have we, the infirm, hewn the stones of corporeal words from the rocks of the Scriptures which are in the Old Testament, and have laid them down as a foundation for the edifice of the spiritual law.

And as the bee carries the waxen substance upon her thighs because of its insipidity and tastelessness, and brings the honey in her mouth because of its sweetness and value; so also have we laid down the corporeal law by way of substratum and foundation, and the spiritual law for a roof and ceiling to the edifice of the spiritual tower. And as the expert gardener and orchard-keeper goes round among the gardens, and seeking out the finest sorts of fruits takes from them slips and shoots, and plants them in his own field; so also have we gone into the garden of the divine Books, and have culled there from branches and shoots, and have planted them in the ground of this book for thy consolation and benefit.


The Arabic version of 'the Bee' contained in this MS. borders at times on a very loose paraphrase of the work. The writer frequently repeats himself, and occasionally translates the same sentence twice, though in different words, as if to make sure that he has given what he considers to be the sense of the Syriac. He adds paragraphs which have no equivalents in the three Syriac copies of 'the Bee' to which I have had access, and he quotes largely from the Old and New Testaments in support of the opinions of Solomon of Basrah. The order of the chapters is different, and the headings of the different sections into which the chapters are divided will be found in the selections from the Arabic versions of 'the Bee'. This MS. is of the utmost importance for the study of 'the Bee,' as it contains the last Chapter in a perfect and complete state; which is unfortunately not the case either with the bilingual Munich MS. or the copy in Paris.


THE Angels consist of nine classes and three orders, upper, middle and lower. The upper order is composed of Cherubim, Seraphim, and Thrones: these are called 'priests' (kumrê), and 'chief priests,' and 'bearers of God's throne.' The middle order is composed of Lords, Powers and Rulers these are called 'priests' (kâhnê), because they receive revelations from those above them. The lower order consists of Principalities, Archangels and Angels: and these are the ministers who wait upon created things.

The Cherubim are an intellectual motion which bears the throne of the holy Trinity, and is the chief of all motions; they are ever watchful of the classes of themselves and those beneath them. As concerning the epithet 'full of eyes,' which is applied to them, the eyes indicate the mystery of the revelations of the Trinity. Their head, and the foremost and highest among them, is Gabriel, who is the mediator between God and His creation.

The Seraphim are a fiery motion, which warms those below it with the fire of the divine love. The six wings which each of them is said to possess indicate the revelations which they receive from the Creator and transmit to mankind.

The Thrones are a fixed motion, which is not shaken by the trials which come upon it. The Lords are a motion which is entrusted with the government of the motions beneath it; and it is that which prevents the demons from injuring created things.

The Powers are a mighty motion, the minister of the will of the Lord; and it is that which gives victory to some rulers in battle and defeat to others.

The Rulers are a motion which has power over the spiritual treasures, to distribute them to its companions according to the will of the Creator. This class of angels governs the luminaries, the sun, moon, and stars.

The Principalities are a defined motion which possesses the direction of the upper ether, of rain, clouds, lightning, thunder, whirlwinds, tempests, winds, and other ethereal disturbances.

The Archangels are a swift operative motion, into whose hands is entrusted the government of the wild beasts, cattle, winged fowl, reptiles, and everything that hath life, from the gnat to the elephant, except man. The Angels are a motion which has spiritual knowledge of everything that is on earth and in heaven. With each and every one of us is an angel of this group--called the guardian angel--who directs man from his conception until the general resurrection.

The number of each one of these classes of angels is equal to the number of all mankind from Adam to the resurrection. Hence it is handed down that the number of people who are going to enter the world is equal to the number of all the heavenly hosts; but some say that the number is equal to that of one of the classes only, that they may fill the place of those of them who have fallen through transgressing the law; because the demons fell from three classes (of angels), from each class a third part. If then it is an acknowledged fact that there are three orders of angels, and in each order there are three classes, and in every class a number equivalent to that of all mankind, what is the total number of the angels? Some say that when the angels were created, and were arranged in six divisions--Cherubim, Seraphim, Thrones, Principalities, Archangels, and Angels--the three lower divisions reflected (saying), 'What is the reason that these are set above, and we below? for they have not previously done anything more than we, neither do we fall short of them.'

On account of this reflection as a cause, according to the custom of the (divine) government, Justice took from both sides, and established three other middle classes of angels--Lords, Powers, and Rulers--that the upper might not be (unduly) exalted, nor the lower think themselves wronged. As for the dwelling-place of the angels, some say that above the firmament there are waters, and above them another heaven in the form of infinite light, and that this is the home of the angels. Here too is God without limit, and the angels, invisible to bodily eyes, surround the throne of His majesty, where they minister to 'the tabernacle not made with hands.'

Others say that, from the beginning, when God created the angels, until the second day, in which the firmament was made, all the classes of angels dwelt in the upper heavens; but when the firmament was made, they all came down below it, with the exception of three classes--the Cherubim, Seraphim, and Thrones who remained above it. These surrounded and supported the Shechinah of God from the beginning of the world until our Lord ascended unto heaven; and after the Ascension, behold, they surround and support the throne of the Christ God, who is over all, until the end of the world.

The Expositor and his companions say: 'The tabernacle which Moses made is a type of the whole world.' The outer tabernacle is the likeness of this world, but the inner tabernacle is the similitude of the place that is above the firmament. And as the priests ministered in the outer tabernacle daily, while the high priest alone entered into the inner tabernacle once a year; so of all rational beings, angels and men, no one has entered (the place) above the firmament, save the High Priest of our confession, Jesus Christ. The fathers, when they have been deemed worthy at any time to see our Lord in a revelation, have seen Him in heaven, surrounded by the Cherubim and Seraphim. Hence some say that there are angels above the heavens.

All these celestial hosts have revelations both of sight and of hearing; but the Cherubim have revelations by sight only, because there is no mediator between them and God. The angels have an intellect superior to that of the rest of rational beings; man has stronger desire, and the demons a greater degree of anger.

Softcover, 8¼" x 6¾, 190+ pages

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