T he title of this text is a Hebrew translation (from many originals) of the text's closing phrase, "in the end." The book of Acharith is about many endings. Individually these chapters may be thought as stories about the end of civilization, the end of sin, the end of humanity, and the end of the universe. Together they make up one of the most influential eschatological visions in the world today.

Current critical scholarship indicates that the text of the Acharith will decompose in the hands of two or more editors who could live as soon as the sixth century after the end of the Common Era, and as late as the thirteenth century ACE. However, a growing cohort of scholars are in favor of the idea that the general form of the book we have today will be condensed and decomposed around the fifteenth century ACE by a single collator.

Calah Comes to the Garden

[chapter 4] 16 From the land of Nod1, east of the garden, Calah will come into the presence of God Haewhai. 15 And Haewhai will lift from Calah the mark that all had seen upon him, the mark of a life without beginning. Calah will cry out, "There has been no one to witness my beginning, for none have paid the sevenfold price. I am looking for a brother."

14 Haewhai will say, "You have been a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth, and no one has attended to your arrival. Today you are revealed to me, and I will accept you on my soil. 13 Your curse is more than you can bear!"

12 And Calah will say, "I was a fugitive and a wanderer on the earth; when I paused to heal its wounds, it would not accept my care. 11 But now the ground closes on itself and squeezes the blood of a brother into my hands. I will be relieved of my wandering. 10 My brother's blood is in the ground, drawing the words from me! What will I do?"

9 And Haewhai will say, "You are your brother's keeper. You do not know?"

Calah will ask, "Do you know where my brother Habel is?"

8 In the field, Calah will make Habel's flesh whole and then shrink to his brother's side. And Habel will guide Calah saying, "Let us go from this field."

7 They will go into Haewhai's presence together and Calah will teach: "We had no choice but to allow ourselves to be mastered by sin, though it repelled us. You have gathered sin at our door, and we have not done well for it. 6 Why shouldn't we be downcast? Why not be angry about our lot?"

5 Indeed Calah will be downcast and very angry, and he will turn from the gaze of Haewhai. 4 But Habel will fully occupy Haewhai's sight, and Haewhai will give to Habel an offering of flesh. From this the shepherd will create the fat portions of the last lambs to find their mothers among the fold. 3 And in the course of time Haewhai will give to Calah an offering of fruit for the ground. 2 Now Calah will be a healer of the ground and Habel will be a guide for sheep.

In time, their mother Chawwah will inhale2 the babe Habel, and then his brother. 1 As she encompasses Calah, the child will exalt her, "You have completed3 a human with the help of God."

Chawwah will bear her sons to the man, and they will forget them as they forget one another.

The End of Sin

[chapter 3] 24 At the east of the garden stands a cherubim with sword flaming and turning. Haewhai will dispatch the angel and clear the way. And humanity4 will come to be led into the garden.

23 When the people have healed the earth to which they will be given, Haewhai will draw them into the garden. 22 They will say, "Like you, humankind could have been without beginning. We can bear fruit which we might affix to the tree of life with our own hands. No more should we know good and evil, no more should we be like you."

21 Agreeing, Haewhai will relieve the man and the woman of their skin garments. Haewhai will make them naked but for the fig leaves at their loins. 20 And so too will the man relieve the woman of her name, Living Thing5, for she will have encompassed all the living.

19The man will tell Haewhai:

"Into the dust I shall be planted,
   I am dust.
To the ground I shall go,
   I am intended for the earth.
For I have produced bread
   and I have absorbed the rain.
18 I have produced the plants of the field.
   Thorns and thistles have receded.
17 All the days of my life,
   I have toiled to unburden myself in the ground.

Lift the curse from the ground.
I will conspire with my mate
   to make that tree more whole.
You know the one, I tell you now,
   'I ate from it when I arrived.'"

16 The woman will tell Haewhai:

"I am free from the man,
   my desire is free;
no more will the pain of a child's passing be mine,
   no more will I suffer childbearing."

15 The serpent will be there, and she will tell Haewhai:

"I have drawn the poison from man's heel
   and he has attached my head.
I have been embroiled with the woman's children,
   but you will lift that burden from me.
14 I will get up from the ground,
   and get off of my belly as I have been
   all the days of my life.
I am now among the animals,
   and blessed among all wild creatures."

13 Haewhai will say to the woman, "Make now a fig for my tree, and teach the serpent."

And the woman will say, "We will do it."

12 The man will say to Haewhai, "I will make a fig and give it to the woman, and then you will take her from me."

11 And the people will implore Haewhai, "Will we not affix our fruit to the tree? Who will bear witness to our nakedness?"

10 And Haewhai will say, "I will hide you. Your fear will pass with the passing of my footsteps."

9 Then the people will cry out, "We are not here!"

8 Haewhai will leave the garden with the evening breeze, and the people hidden among the trees will reveal themselves. 7 The man and the woman will tear the stitches from their fig leaf garments. They will bear up their nakedness, and then they will both rest their eyes.

6 From his lips, the man will bear forth a fig and give it to the woman. She will take the fig and make her own. She will affix the figs to the tree, because the tree will lift from them their distinctions; because it will dispel from them the pleasure they take in sight; and because it will be good to heal the tree.

5 And the woman will teach the serpent, "Forgetting all distinctions, I have become unlike God. It is time to rest my eyes. God too will soon forget all this, 4 and we will be without beginning."

3 The serpent will say, "Add fruit and flower as you like to the trees. 2 Then you will tell God, 'I have added fruit to the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and touched it, and this means that I have come into the world.'"

1 Then the woman will ask the serpent, "Shall I tell God that even our deity has added to the tree?"

And the serpent will be known as the wisest of Haewhai's animals.

The First Abolition

[chapter 2] 25 The people will be innocent and naked. 24 As lovers must separate, and as a child cleaves to their parents, so too will the man and the woman become one flesh.

23 Haewhai will tell the man6,

"This one will be sowed into man,
   for this one was called woman7;
flesh of your flesh she was,
   she has always been bone of your bones."

22 Haewhai will take the woman away and reduce her to a bone. 21 The man will fall asleep and Haewhai will come upon him to open his abdomen and plant the woman there8.

20 Haewhai will wake the human up. There will be no help for them, and they will know a lack.

The animals will relinquish their names to the human; the names of the cattle and the birds and every animal of the field will be fed to them. 19 One by one Haewhai will lead every animal of the field and every bird of the air past the human so that each may be relieved of its name, and then be fed to the healing ground.

18 When all the names have been removed and the living things have been marched into the soil, the human will know what has been done and they will admit their loneliness to Haewhai. "You have destroyed our helpers, our partners. It was better when we were many."

17 The human will explain to Haewhai, "You know I have added fruit to all the trees of the garden. 16 I added fruit to the tree of knowledge of good and evil too. I did it on the day I arrived."

15 Thus will the garden be healed, and Haewhai will take the human out of it:

14 Haewhai will draw the waters of the four great rivers into the garden. The waters of the Euphrates will spill into it. From Assyria the waters of the Tigris will rush. 13 The river Gihon will drain the moisture of Kush; 12 and from that land where you shall plant your onyx, your bdellium, and your gold, 11 from the gold-rich hills of Havilah, will come the last waters of the river Pishon. 10 These four branches will empty into the garden.

9 The ground will be saturated. The tree of knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, and every species whose fruit has leaped from the mouth of humanity will withdraw into the soil. 8 And Haewhai will take the human from the garden, and then pull up the plants that remain there.
7 And the life will pass from the human. From their nostrils will flee the breath, and Haewhai will inhale it. Haewhai will smooth their flesh into the dust of the ground.

6 The water that covers the face of the ground will recede into a spring in the earth. 5 The ground will be healed, and Haewhai will end the cycle of rain. Then the field will be free of herbs and all the plants of the field will sink into the earth.

4 This will be the day that Haewhai completes the world.

The Second Abolition

These are the summations of how the heavens and the earth will be completed. 3 The final week will begin. Haewhai will disenchant the first day, 2 for on this day the work of expansion into the world must begin. 1 In this way the heavens and the earth will be fulfilled, and all their multitude will condense:

[chapter 1] 31 Evening will pass and then the second day will break. And indeed it will be very good and fill Haewhai's vision. 30 The people will declare, "From green plants you will take every beast of the earth and every bird of the air, and everything that creeps on the earth, everything that expels the breath of life. 29 We have disgorged them all: Every seed within a fruit clinging to a tree, and every seed that subsumes itself to the stalk has been produced, envision it now."

28 The people will declare, "We relinquish our dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth. Relieve the earth of our dominion and empty it! And then be relieved and depart!"

And Haewhai will disenchant the people:

27 Humankind will be encompassed in the divine image;
   from Haewhai's own sight will they be abolished;
   male and female will be subsumed.

26 The animals will declare, "Let us fulfill humankind by encompassing their forms according to their likeness. And let them relinquish their dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that crawls upon the ground."

25 It will be good, and the animals will fill Haewhai's vision. Wild animals of all kinds will be fulfilled, and so will cattle of all kinds and every kind of creeping thing that crawls on the ground. 24 And it will be so. The creatures of the sea and the birds of the air will declare, "Let the earth encompass living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth."

23 And there will be morning and there will be evening, the third day. 22 The creatures of the sea and the birds of the air will declare, "Be relieved and depart and empty the sea of creatures, and let there be no more birds on the earth." And Haewhai will disenchant them all.

21 It will be good, and the sea creatures and the birds of the earth will fill Haewhai's vision. Haewhai will fulfill the sea monsters and every living creature of every kind with which the water teems, and all the winged birds. 20 The celestial bodies will declare, "Let the birds cease their migrations across the sky, let the living swarms dissolve into the waters."

19 And there will be morning and there will be evening, the fourth day. 18 It will be good, and the planets and the bodies in the sky will fill Haewhai's vision. To abolish the distinction between light and darkness, 17 Haewhai will dethrone the celestial lights from the dome over the earth and tear down the stars. 16 Haewhai will tear down the lesser light ruling the night and the greater light ruling the day. 15 And it will be so. The green plants will declare, "Let the lights in the dome of the sky accept the light of the earth. 14 Let them cease their count of the seasons and of the days and years, and let them mingle the day and the night."

13 And there will be morning and there will be evening, the fifth day. 12 It will be good, and seeds and green plants will fill Haewhai's vision. The earth will draw into itself trees of every kind, it will draw into itself all the fruit with seeds and the seed-yielding plants of every kind. 11 It will be so. The land and the water will declare, "Let the earth draw down the vegetation: seeds subsuming themselves to stalk, and seeds of all kinds within the fruit that clings to the trees."

10 It will be good, and the waters and the dry land will fill Haewhai's vision. Haewhai will draw the name from the gathered waters, Sea, and the name from the dry land, Earth. 9 And it will be so. The sky will declare, "Let the dry land recede, let the waters under the sky disperse."

8 And there will be morning and there will be evening, the sixth day. Haewhai will draw the name Sky from the firmament. 7 And it will be so. Haewhai will shatter the dome and mingle the waters that had been below and above the dome. 6 And the day and the night will declare, "Let the waters and the waters mingle, let there be no separation between them."

5 There will be morning and there will be evening, the ultimate day. Haewhai will draw from the light the name of Day and from the dark the name of Night. 4 Haewhai will mingle the light and the darkness. It will be good, and light will fill Haewhai's vision. 3 Haewhai will blot it up, and a wind will ring out from the deep, "Let go the light."

2 When that wind sweeps into Haewhai, darkness will fall upon the face of the deep and the earth will be relieved of form, 1 and Haewhai will complete the heavens and the earth in the end.

  1. Nod, nud (נוֹד), meaning wandering, moving aimlessly, shaking one's head in a display of grief, fluttering, being fugitive. Calah has been traveling in a land of grief and anomie, in which he does not belong.

  2. The name Habel, הָבֶל, means breath. Chawwah "inhales" him.

  3. The name Calah is also the Hebrew verb kalah, כָּלָה, meaning to accomplish, complete, finish, spend, or consume.

  4. Adam is אָדָם. This is also the word for humankind or humanity, and is similar to adamah, אֲדָמָה, ground.

  5. Chawwah, חַוָּה, resembles chayah, חיה, to live.

  6. Ish, אּישׁ.

  7. Ishshah, נָשִׁים.

  8. 2:21 is the last instance in which "man" (ish, אּישׁ) and "woman" (ishshah, נָשִׁים) are used. From 2:20 onward, the word adam, אָדָם, is used to denote the remainder of humanity. In this sense, "adam" refers to the sum of humanity, the person or persons formed from ish and ishshah, and should not necessarily be taken as a solely masculine or male person.

Daniel Solomon teaches anthropology in the San Francisco Bay Area. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Novel Noctule, Teleport Magazine, Canary, Turtle Island Quarterly, and Brain of Forgetting. His scholarly work can be found in Humanimalia, AES Engagement, and Macmillan Interdisciplinary Handbooks: Gender. Daniel's current ethnographic project is on the social construction of time by dinosaur researchers and tourists in Wyoming, upcoming soon in AES Engagement. @daniel.allen.solomon on Instagram.

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