Then there appeared to the bride a balance, as it were, with two scale-pans hanging above the ground. Their tops and chains went up to the clouds, and their rings went into the sky. In the first scale-pan was a fish. Its scales were razor-sharp, its look like that of a basilisk, its mouth like that of a unicorn spouting venom, its ears like the sharpest spears, like sheets of steel. In the other scale-pan was an animal with a hide like flint. Its huge mouth spouted hot flames. Its eyelids were like the hardest swords. Its hard ears let fly sharp arrows as from a hard, taut bow.
Then there appeared three crowds of people on the earth. The first was small; the second was smaller; the third was the smallest. A Voice called to them from Heaven saying: "O, friends, I have a violent thirst for the heart of this amazing animal, if only someone would present it to Me out of love! I have also a most fervent desire for the blood of the fish, if only someone could be found to bring Me it!"
The crowd answered with a single voice as though from the mouth of all: "O our Maker, how shall we present You with the heart of such a great animal, whose hide is harder than flint? If we try to draw near to its mouth, we get burned by the flames of its fire. If we look at its eyes, we get stabbed by the sparks of its arrows. And even if there were any hope of getting the animal, who will be able to catch the fish? Its scales are sharper than the edge of a sword, its eyes blind us, its mouth pours forth its incurable venom into us!"
The Voice from Heaven answered saying: "O, friends, the animal and the fish seem invincible to you, but it is easy for the Almighty. From Heaven I shall supply wisdom and grant strength to anyone looking for a way to fight the animal. I shall give Myself in reward to anyone who is prepared to die for Me."
The first crowd answered: "O great Father, You are the giver of every good thing. We are Your work and shall gladly give You our heart in Your honor. All the rest that remains outside our heart we will keep for the sustenance and refreshment of our body. Therefore, since death seems hard to us and our bodily weakness burdensome and our knowledge slight, govern us inwardly and outwardly and receive graciously what we offer You. Reward us with as much and whatever You like."
The second crowd answered: "We acknowledge our weaknesses and are aware of the world's emptiness and fickleness. Therefore, we shall gladly give You our heart and surrender all our will into the hands of others, for we would rather submit to others than own even the least of worldly goods."
The third crowd answered: "Lord, You desire the heart of the animal and thirst for the blood of the fish: We shall gladly give You our heart and we are prepared to die for You. Grant us wisdom, and we shall look for a way to get at the heart of the animal."
After this came the sound of a Voice from Heaven saying: "O, friend, if you want the heart of the animal, make a hole in the middle of your hands with a sharp bore. Then take the eyelids of a whale and attach them to your own eyelids with strong pitch. Take a plate of steel and tie it to your heart, so that the length and breadth of the steel covers your heart. Then close your nostrils and hold your breath in your throat!
Go boldly forth against the raging animal with your mouth shut and holding your breath. When you get up to the animal, use both your hands to lay hold of its ears. Its arrows will not hurt you but will go through the open holes in your hands. Run up to the animal with your mouth shut and, as you approach it, blow on it with all your breath. When you do so, the flames of the animal will not hurt you but will return on the animal itself and burn it. Take especial care with the sword-edges coming out of the animal's eyes. Latch on to them with your own eyes protected by the whale's eyelids. As a result of their powerful connection, either the animal's swords will be deflected or they will go through its heart. Look carefully for the animal's heartbeat and fix the edge of your mighty steel there and pierce the flint of its hide. If the flint breaks, you can be sure that the animal will die and its heart will be mine. For every pound it weighs, I will give a hundred to the laborer. However if it does not break and the animal injures him, I will care for his wounds and revive him if he dies.
If anyone wants to present me with the fish, let him walk to the shore with a net in his hands - one that is made not out of cords but from very precious metal. Let him enter the water but not more than up to the knees, so that the waves do not harm him. He should set his foot on a solid place where there is sand and no mud. He should put out one of his eyes and hold it toward the fish. Then the sight of the fish, which is like that of a basilisk, will have no effect on him. He should bear a shield of steel on his arm, and then the sting of the snake will not hurt him. Let him then cast his net over the fish with skill and might so that the fish will not be able to cut through it with its razors or break it or escape by any kind of powerful thrust.
When he feels he has the fish, let him hoist his net over above him, and if he holds it for ten hours above the waters, the fish will die. He should carry it then to the shore and inspect it with the eye that he did not put out, using his hands to open it along the backbone where the blood is more plentiful. May he thus present it to his Lord. If the fish should escape or swim to the other shore and harm him with its venom, I will be able to cure the infection. Nor will there be less reward for the blood of the fish than for the heart of the animal."
God speaks again: "The meaning of the scales of the balance is as if one were to say: 'Be lenient and patient, wait and have mercy.' It is to see another's wrongdoing and admonish him continually to make him desist from evil. Likewise, I, the God and Creator of all, sometimes sink down like a scale toward people and admonish them, being lenient and testing them with tribulations. Sometimes I rise up in people's minds through my enlightenment, inflaming them and visiting them with special grace. The meaning of the chains of the balance that go up to the clouds is that I, the God of all, uphold everyone, heathen as well as Christian, friends as well as enemies, and enlighten and visit them with My grace, in order to see if there are any who wish to respond to My grace by turning their will and affections away from evil.
The animal signifies those who have received holy baptism but, having reached the age of discretion and not imitating the words of the holy gospel, have let their heart and mouth slip away toward earthly things and do not bother about the spiritual life.
The fish signifies heathens adrift on the waves of concupiscence. Their blood, that is, their faith, is slight and their knowledge of God little.
Thus, I desire both the animal's heart and the fish's blood, should there be any persons found who would attempt to present me with them for the sake of love.
The three crowds are My friends: The first are those who make a reasonable use of the world; the second are those who give up what they have in humble obedience; the third are those who are prepared to die for God."