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Chronicles of Jerahmeel, by M. Gaster [1899], at


XXV. (1) R. Joseph was once asked what was the story of Shemḥazai and Azael, and he replied, 'When the generation of Enosh arose and worshipped idols, and when the generation of the flood arose and went astray, God was grieved that He had created man, as it is said, "And the Lord repented that He had made man, and He was grieved at heart." (2) Then two angels, whose names were Shemḥazai and ‘Azael, appeared before God, and said, "O Lord of the universe, did we not say unto Thee when Thou didst create Thy world, 'Do not create man'?" as it is said, "What is man, that Thou shouldst remember him?" "Then what shall become of the world?" said God. They replied, "We will occupy ourselves with it." (3) God said, "It is revealed and well known to Me that if peradventure

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you had lived in that earthly world, the evil inclination would have swayed you just as much as it rules over the sons of man, but you would be more stubborn than they." "Give us Thy sanction, then, and let us descend among the creatures, and then Thou shalt see how we shall sanctify Thy name." "Descend," spake the Lord, "and dwell ye among them." Forthwith He allowed the evil inclination to sway them. (4) As soon as they descended and beheld the daughters of man that they were beautiful, they began to disport themselves with them, as it is said, "When the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of man," they could not restrain their inclination. (5) Shemḥazai beheld a girl whose name was Esṭirah (###). When he beheld her, he said, "Listen to my request." But she replied, "I will not listen to thee until thou teachest me the name by the mention of which thou art enabled to ascend to heaven." He forthwith taught her the Ineffable Name. (6) She then uttered the Ineffable Name and thereby ascended to heaven. God said, "Since she has departed from sin, go and set her among the stars"—it is she who shines brightly in the midst of the seven stars of Pleiades; for that she may always be remembered God fixed her among the Pleiades. (7) When Shemḥazai and ‘Azael saw this they took to them wives, and begat children. The former begat two children, whose names were Heyya (###), and Aheyya (###). And ‘Azael was appointed chief over all the dyes, and over all kinds of ornaments by which women entice men to thoughts of sin.

(8) 'God then sent Meṭaṭron a messenger to Shemhazai, and said to him, "God will destroy His world, and bring upon it a flood." Shemḥazai then raised his voice and wept aloud, for he was sorely troubled about his sons and his own iniquity. "How shall my children live, and what shall they eat, and if the world is destroyed what shall become of my children, for each one of them eats 1,000 camels, 1,000 horses, and 1,000 oxen daily?" (9) One night the sons of Shemḥazai—Heyya and Aheyyah—dreamt dreams. One

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dreamt that he saw a great stone spread over the earth like a table, the whole of which was covered with writing. An angel descended from heaven with a knife in his hand and obliterated all the lines, save one line only with four words upon it. (10) The other dreamt that he saw a lovely garden, planted with all kinds of trees and beautiful things. An angel descended from heaven with an axe in his hand, and cut down all the trees, so that there remained only one tree containing three branches. (11) When they awoke from their sleep they were much confused, and, going to their father, they related their dreams. He said to them, "God is about to bring a flood upon the world, to destroy it, so that there will remain but one man and his three sons." They thereupon cried in anguish, and wept, saying, "What shall become of us, and how shall our names be perpetuated?" "Do not trouble yourselves about your names. Heyya and Aheyya will never cease from the mouths of creatures, because every time that men raise heavy stones, or ships, or any heavy load or burden, they will sigh and call your names." With this his sons were satisfied (quieted).

(12) 'Shemḥazai repented and suspended himself between heaven and earth, head downwards, because he durst not appear before God, and he still hangs between heaven and earth. (13) ‘Azael, however, did not repent. He is appointed over all kinds of dyes which entice man to commit sin, and he still continues to sin. Therefore, when the Israelites used to bring sacrifices on the day of atonement, they cast one lot for the Lord that it might atone for the iniquities of the Israelites, and one lot for Azael that he might bear the burden of Israel's iniquity. This is the ‘Azazel that is mentioned in the Scripture.'

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