12. 1- 62:
Michael has just finished lecturing on future events up till the flood. Its now noon and as is human custom Michael pauses to allow for a break. However, he still has a lot of events to cover and since Adam has no questions he continues on.
In pure lecturer fashion Michael resumes by reminding Adam of what was previously discussed “Thus thou hast seen one World begin and end” (6). Before he begins he new subject he sympathizes with Adam’s fallen state. The Archangel suggests that man’s sin has caused his mental capacity for Heavenly knowledge to depreciate. In books 5 through 8 Adam listens tirelessly to Michael’s lectures now however the angel see that he must pause in order to regain Adam’s attention (9-10).
Michael begins after the flood by calling Noah’s repopulation of the Earth as the “second sours of Men”. He describes how they will basically restart civilization still abiding by the curse given man (“laboring the soile, and reaping plenteous crop,”) (18) but they will also live “fearing the Deitie” instead of peacefully communing daily with God (15). Michael prophisizes that mankind will enjoy life with family and peace under the guidance of the patriarch until one man messes it up.
It is my understanding that this one man who had a “proud ambitious heart, who not content/ with fair equalitie” is a reference to the biblical story of Cain. Cain, son of Adam, killed his brother Able after God was more pleased with his brother’s sacrifice. Upon being expelled from his homeland he was cursed, by God, to wander the plains. When he finally settles down his sons gradually degenerated in their morality and spirituality until they became completely corrupt. They were sexually perverse, extremely violent, and had no regard for God or his morals. “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Genesis 6:5).
Presumably these character traits would have been rectified by the flood but Michael goes on to tell how after the flood the people continued to blaspheme the name of God. He relays the proceedings of the building of the Tower of Babel. When God, who no longer walks among men but instead visits invisibly (48-49), saw that the people aimed to try to build the tower to reach God he caused them to immediately speak different languages so that construction would cease. Naturally a pandemonium of confusion ensues and people split up trying to find people who can speak the same language.
Through all of this it is interesting to note that the Heavenly hosts find this as a cause for “great laughter”(59).
12. 63 -78:
In lines 63-78 the Speaker is Adam and he is responding to Michael's tale about what will come. I'm not sure if he is necessarily speaking to Michael or not. He is displeased with the notion that one man will put himself above the rest. He says that the man is really bad, execrable, is the word he uses to want to place himself about the rest of mankind, assuming authority that he has taken and not been given by God. Adam says that God made mankind better than animals, but that he did not give one man power over other men. Adam says that God holds that position. He says that "this Usurper" (72) does not just encroach on other men but lays siege to and defies God as well. Then he goes on to say that he and his army will starve in Heaven because they will have no way to get food. This last is metaphoric, and I believe that he means that the usurper and his followers will be punished for their presumption.
It seems to me that Adam is quite harsh, and I wonder why that is when it is my understanding that neither Michael nor God have any problem with it.
12. 79 - 104:
This passage is part of a conversation between Michael and Adam. Michael is the speaker in this part. I decided that Michael was the speaker because in 12.79 it says "To whom thus Michael." Which I understood to have an unwritten 'replied' at the end. They are discussing how since the "original lapse, true Liberty / is lost" (12.83-84), with the original lapse being as I understood it Adam and Eve's lapse in judgement to eat the forbidden fruit and commit the first sin. It says that reason dwells in the liberty that they had lost, and how consequently they lost reason as well when the[y] disobeyed. It goes on to talk in the later part of the passage how "sometimes Nations decline so low / From virtue, which is reason" (12.97-98), and how justice as well as a curse do not allow them to have liberty and shows what they have "inward lost" (12.101). The passage ends with a description of Noah's son and consequences as they are related to him. I however, had trouble understanding if it were himself or his father who had done something wrong to receive the shame and the cures, and who was the member of the "vicious Race" (12.104).
12. 105 - 51:
12. 151 - 68:
The speaker tells us that Abraham's descendants will be similar to Abraham in their amount of faith and wisdom. Likewise, these descendants will eventually move from Canaan to Egypt as their place to live, where one of their sons will almost be an equal to Phararo, the king of Egypt. When he dies, however, all of Abraham's descendants in Egypt will be left under the complete control of Pharoro. As Phararo does not want another one of Abraham's sons to challenge him at the throne, he will take advantage of the high numbers of Abraham's sons and make them all become his slaves in an attempt to kill them all off and decrease the number of threats to his throne.
12. 169 - 222:
In this passage, Michael continues to relay his narration of biblical history unto Adam. These lines are basically a retelling of Moses' story from Exodus where he leads the Israelites out of slavery. He speaks of Moses and Aaron, two brethren sent from God, and how they will free His people and return "with glory and spoil back to thir promis'd Land" (12. 172) as they lead them out of Egypt. However, a "lawless Tyrant, / who denies to know thir God," (12. 173-4) must be subjected to the ten plagues which are used as a sign from God for His people to be released. The plagues include frogs, lice, the death of livestock, locusts, and "all the first-born / of Egypt must lie dead" (12. 189-90). The tyrant, meaning the pharaoh, will "let his sojourners depart" (12. 192) but will then pursue them in his rage. Michael speaks of how the Red Sea will swallow the pharaoh but will permit Moses and the others to pass "as on dry land between tow crystal walls" (12. 197). This is because of Moses' ability to part the sea, a divine power lent to him by God. From the plagues and the parting of the sea, the Israelites are set free because of God.
12. 223 - 45:
In this passage, Michael continues to show Adam what will occur thanks to his fall from grace, and the governmental organization that will come about in the post-lapsarian world. God will go down to Mount Sinai to give to man the 10 Commandments, establish various civil and religious laws; Michael also cites God’s voice, which ‘to mortal eare is dreadful’ [XII.235-6], and so Moses will mediate, establishing the traditional role of mediator between God and man (religious officials) which was later challenged by the reformation—Milton also links these positions to that of Christ, as Moses taking the position will ‘introduce / One greater’ [XII.241-2]. Milton’s emphasis on the sanctity of this role reflects his conservative beliefs regarding how the church should be run, according to the laws of God and Christianity’s most hallowed predecessors. [Late]
12. 245 - 60:
In these lines the angel Michael is speaking and he is describing the shrine that the rules God is giving the people are held in. These lines most perplexed me, so I decided to investigate further the lines "By prescript a Sanctuary is fram'd / of Cedar, overlaid with Gold" (12.249-250) I questioned the use of cedar wood in particular, learning that many kinds of cedar wood is decay-resistant but also lightweight. It was commonly used for carving as it is a soft wood, but sturdy enough to last for a long time. Of course, the significance of gold makes sense, due to the value and purity associated with it. There is also a description of seven lamps that are set up to look like the positions of the planets, which I was not sure about the significance of that other than the relationship to celestial bodies and travel.
12. 260 - 69:
This passage talks about the rise and falls of monarchies in the land that was promised to Abraham which I'm assuming is Israel and the speaker goes on to say that the sun will stay in Gibeon and the moon in Aialon until Israel wins the battle against the Amorites. They also say that the land of Canaan will belong to all of Abraham's descendants after they win.
12. 270 - 84:
Adam is introduced as the speaker at the outset of this section, and he and Michael continue their conversation. Adam seems to be relieved that humanity will continue on into the coming years, with Abraham and his line being the governing line of God's chosen people. Adam is also much relieved to know that God has shown some degree of forgiveness to humanity showing "Favour unmerited by [Adam], who sought / Forbidd'n knowledge by forbidd'n means" (278-279). Adam aknowledges that he acted in error, and seems to take that responsibility onto himself despite Eve's involvement in the initial sin. This marginalization of the female role is an excelent example of how early feminists argued that women did not deserve to be treated as the primary sinner, because technically it was Adam's job to take care of Eve, so her actions were not her fault. Essentially this passage is Adam expressing releif more than it is anything else but the lack of mention of Eve could have certain conotations depending on how you read it.
12. 285 - 330:
In this section Michael continues his dialogue with Adam. Michael explains to Adam that sin will reign over man, and that law was given to man as a way of fighting back against sin and mans natural depravity. Law will allow man to identify and recognize sin, although sin can never be removed from man. The only way that man can avoid sin is through sacrifice, which must be paid for by man. Michael justifies this to Adam citing: “Just for unjust, that in such righteousness / To them by Faith imputed, they may find / Justification towards God, and peace / Of Conscience, which the Law by Ceremonies / Cannot appease”. In short, God’s gift to man is law and when law fails sacrifice will help right what law cannot. This will help manage sin and please God. Furthermore, Man must accept the imposition of strict laws in order to make room for the acceptance of a larger Grace. Michael then talks about Moses leading his people back to Canaan, which is only possible because Jesus is helping guide Moses back “Safe to eternal Paradise of rest”. They then live and prosper in Canaan, but eventually sins corrupt the peace and God creates enemies for man in the form of rulers. First man will be ruled by ancient judges, and then by religious, puissant kings. All true kings will rise from the “Royal Stock / Of David” and their reign shall be eternal.
12. 331 - 60:
In lines 331-60 of Book XII, Michael describes the succession of David which occurs before the birth of the Messiah. Michael first tells Adam of Solomon, who will be "Wealth and Wisdom fam'd" (l.332), and who will build a glorious temple to worship God - a change from the previous use of tents. It is said that the followers of Solomon are divided between those who are good and those who are bad, but that "of bad the longer scroll" (l.336), meaning they outnumber those who are good. The main criticism of the bad followers is that they worship idols, which angers God to the point where he decides to "leave them, and expose thir Land, / Thir City, his Temple, and his holy Ark" (12.339-340). God forces the Babylonians to live in captivity for seventy years (12.344-345), until he calms down from his tantrum and remembers mercy. This clearly shows the true nature of God as selfish and petty, though to Milton it may have been justified to punish the Babylonians for their idol-worship (even though there were some 'good' believers according to Milton's version of Michael). Michael continues to tell Adam that God will have made a vow to David to have his successors reign, but that the growth of wealth and influence leads to division into warring factions (l.352), particularly amongst priests. Because of the tensions between priests, "thir strife pollution brings / Upon the Temple itself" (12.355-356), which therefore corrupts the holy space. Michael then explains that the priests lose the scepter, which represents power to rule, which takes that power away from the sons of David. Because of this, "the true / Anointed King Messiah might be born / Barr'd of his right" (12.358-360). This section shows the flaws of both God and mankind, therefore demoting God's position as flawless.
12. 360 - 71:
This section is spoken by Michael where he is completing one of his descriptions of the future with the story of Jesus. It starts off with the tale of the "Eastern Sages" (The Three Wise Men) and how they are guided to meet the Virgin (Mary) and the unborn Jesus. He talks about the gifts they will bring, (Incense, Myrrh, and Gold) and where Jesus will be born. He ends with stating how he shall take to the throne how glorious it shall be. This brings joy and happiness to Adam and thus begins the next section.
12. 372 - 85:
Here Adam speaks, overjoyed, to Michael.
Having heard the entire coming history of humanity, Adam is relieved to know that from him will come the woman who will give birth to Christ and reunite humanity with their maker. He is sure that the serpent which brought him and Eve to ruin will be destroyed in the final battle (12.372-385).
Adam's description of the Satan of the apocalypse as a serpent is consistent with Satan's portrayal as a dragon in Revelations. There seems to be some major bias against reptiles in Christian tradition, perhaps stemming from the fact that reptiles are dramatically different from mammalian humans and thus very distant from the form of God.
12. 386 - 465:
Michael is speaking to Adam. Michael first explains that the battle between Satan and God/The Son is not a duel. The Son will not defeat Satan, he will only undo Satan's evil works therefor becoming victorious (making humanity seem like pawns because Satan's punishment for making humanity fall seems to be very lenient and humanity only entertains a pyrrhic victory). This is the reason that humanity must fall because to punish Satan without humanity being punished would not be just. The Sons martyr[dom] is explained in detail throughout this passage; only the notable parts will be explained because I assume everyone knows the story briefly.
Only those who have faith that the son will/did sacrifice himself will be saved. The sacrifice will "bruise the head of Satan, crush his strength - Defeat Sin and Death, his two main arms" (430-430). After the Son revives he will only stay for a short amount of time so that he may teach his Disciples to teach the nations of the world. Then mankind will be able to purify them from sin and reach eternal life. The Son will then ascend to Heaven, at some point he will start dragging Satan (?) in victory, and then leave him confounded. The Son will then be the right hand to God again, Earth will be a paradise, and Earth will be better than Eden.
12. 466 - 84:
The speaker states that the Angel has finished talking, and pauses as if at "the World's great period" (l. 466). Adam, referred to as the Sire of mankind, replies happily that he is as impressed with the fact that goodness will come out of all sin as when lightness was made from darkness. He says he is not sure if he should repent all his sins, or continue being happy that so much goodness will come from his committed sins. God will have more glory, man will be more loved by God, and grace will triumph over wrath. Adam then asks, if God ascends into Heaven, what will become of the few people he has left behind with the herd of sinners? Who will guide and protect them? He finishes by asking if the faithful few left behind will be treated worse by the unfaithful than they treated God?
12. 485 - 551:
Michael responds to Adam’s question about the disciples, he tells Adam they will be persecuted, but that Jesus will give them courage in the form of the "Spirit" of God, which will comfort them. They will go forth and spread the word of God to “great numbers of many nations.” (12.503) He goes on to warn Adam of wolves, “Who all the sacred mysteries of Heav'n/To thir own vile advantages shall turne.” (509-10) These lines reminded me of the phrase “wolf in sheep’s clothing” which stems from a similar warning given by Jesus in Matthew 7.15, “beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Michael asserts that although the faith of mankind will dwindle, and those who believe will be persecuted, Jesus will return to Earth, “To bring forth fruits Joy and eternal Bliss.” (551)
12. 552 - 73:
In this section Adam replies to Michael's visions. He is wondering how soon Michael's prediction, of humanity, will come true. After seeing all of the visions Adam is still content with what Michael has said and how he was informed about it. From Michael's predictions, Adam has learned that he must obey God first and foremost. Adam says that following God is worth the suffering that comes with it. That through it all good will conquer evil. Adam also sees that there is a divide between the world's views and God's views. What the world sees as strong will be considered weak in God's eyes. Adam is choosing obedience to God even after seeing all that is to happen to humanity after his fall.
12. 574 - 605:
Michael is speaking to Adam in this section. He is telling Adam that now that he has learned everything about the future of Mankind, he is as wise as he can possibly be. The meaning of the next few lines is somewhat unclear to me, but I take it as Michael telling Adam that although he now knows everything of the natural world and came to love and enjoy it in Paradise, he now needs to ìadd/ Deeds to thy knowledge answerableî (12.581-2), including Faith, Virtue, Patience, Temperance, Love and Charity. Once Adam has these things, Michael says, then he will have a paradise within him and not be so disappointed to be leaving Eden.
Michael then invites Adam to descend from the mountain with him, and points out the angelic guards that he has stationed around the Garden, who appear to be signalling to Michael that it is time for Adam and Eve to leave the Garden. Michael instructs Adam to go wake Eve, as he has calmed her into ìmeek submissionî (12.597). He also tells Adam to share with Eve what he has told him, especially regarding what her ìSeedî is destined for (the foretold future of Mankind) and how they (or at least Adam) will yet live for quite a long time. He says they shanít worry, because even though they may live out a sad and toilsome life, it is all worth it considering what Mankind will grow to be in the future.
12. 606 - 23:
This passage begins with the speaker speaking. The speaker tells us that Michael and Adam are now coming down off the hilltop, and that Adam goes to the bower where left Eve sleeping. However, Adam finds Eve now awake, and upon their reunion she begins to speak. Eve says that she knows when Adam left and where he was, as god has come to her in a dream and told her almost all that Michael has told Adam. Eve then says that she fell asleep feeling distressed and worried, but because of this dream is now prepared to leave Eden with Adam. From lines 615-7 Eve states, “with thee to goe, / Is to stay here; without thee here to stay, / Is to go hence unwilling” (12. 615-7) I saw this as a bunch of complicated language to basically say that Adam is her Eden. Wherever she is with him, she is in paradise. Eve then says that Adam means the world to her using the language, “thou to mee / Art all things under Heav'n” (12. 617-8). I feel it is important that she separates heaven from this statement because it shows once more that she no longer places Adam above God. Eve finishes this passage by saying “though all by mee is lost, / Such favour unworthie am voutsaft, / By mee the Promis'd Seed shall all restore” (12. 621-3). In this statement Eve is somehow remorseful and egotistical at the same time. She takes sole responsibility for the pain she has caused the world and then takes sole ownership of restoring it.
12. 624 - 49:
In my passage, the narrator is speaking and explaining that it is time for Adam and Eve to leave Paradise. At the entrance to Paradise, the sword of god blazed a flame so "Fierce like a comet; which with torrid heat,/ And vapour as the Libyan Air adust" (12.635). The Sword is used to protect the entrance of Paradise. Adam and Eve take their path leaving Paradise, looking back with tears in their eyes but make sure to wipe them which I find important because they are not dwelling on leaving but rather looking forward to what is to come. The world is before them and they are reading to start their life. I found the last line interesting as it says "Through Eden took thir solitarie way" (12.649) because Adam is following Eden.