At the beginning of the 4th chapter of Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer, it states [my own translation]:

On the second day God created the heavens (rakiyah), the angels and the fire of flesh and blood (aisho shel basar v'dam), and the fire of hell.

What does fire of flesh and blood actually mean, especially if no living thing on earth was yet created?


R' David Luria says that it means physical fire. However, he points out two conflicting Midrashim. One says that physical fire was created on the first day of creation, and the other says it was created on Motzei Shabbat.

He therefore questions this statement of the Pirkei D'Rebbi Eliezer. Were it not for the Ramban authenticating this version of the Midrash (by quoting it elsewhere), he would have said it was a misprint.

However, because the Ramban corroborates this version, R' David Luria suggests that physical fire was created on the second day, but remained in the heavens until Motzei Shabbat, when it descended to earth.

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  • I'd assume that what happened just after Day Seven was that humans made fire by striking together two rocks. That's the first "artificial fire" (or as you will, when G-d's creation finished, technology began). But naturally-occurring fire may very well have existed earlier. The midrash is fascinating because you can't have fire without oxygen, so it makes sense that it showed up on Day 2 if the "firmament of the skies" includes an oxygen-rich atmosphere! – Shalom Aug 7 '12 at 17:46
  • @Shalom: R' David Luria's explanation is consistent with the P.D.E. See chapter 20, where the P.D.E. says that G-d sent Adam a pillar of fire; hebrewbooks.org/… – Menachem Aug 7 '12 at 22:22
  • That's a fascinating difference from the Babylonian Talmud's version: "G-d put this idea in Adam's head to strike two rocks together." Of course, Rabbi Eliezer's rabbinic career got a start by a very clear message sent to him by G-d (ch. 1), so it's not surprising he'd understand the revelation of fire to have happened in a similar fashion. – Shalom Aug 8 '12 at 8:56

I would assume it means "the same normal fire as known as fire by flesh-and-blood humans today."

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