From Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis
By Robert Graves and Raphael Patai
(a) By the tenth generation, Adam's race hadhugely increased. Lacking female company, the angels known as "Sonsof God" found wives among the lovely Daughters of Men. The childrenof their unions would have inherited eternal life from their father, butthat God had decreed: "Let not My spirit abide in flesh for ever!Henceforth the years of man are limited to one hundred and twenty."
(b) These new creatures were giants, known as"the Fallen Ones," whose evil ways decided God to wipe from theface of the earth all men and women, with their gigantic corruptors.1
(c) The Sons of God were sent down to teach mankindtruth and justice; and for three hundred years did indeed teach Cain'sson Enoch all the secrets of Heaven and Earth. Later, however, they lustedafter mortal women and defiled themselves by sexual intercourse. Enoch hasrecorded not only their divine instructions, but also their subsequentfall from grace; before the end they were indiscriminately enjoying virgins,matrons, men, and beasts.2
(d) Some say that Shemhazai and Azael, two angelsin God's confidence, asked: "Lord of the Universe, did we not warnYou on the Day of Creation that man would prove unworthy of Your world?"God replied: "But if I destroy man, what will become of My world?"They answered: "We shall inhabit it." God answered: "Yetupon descending to earth, will you not sin even worse than man?" Theypleaded: "Let us dwell there awhile, and we will sanctify Your name!"
God allowed them to descend, but they were atonce overcome by lust for Eve's daughters, Shemhazai begeting on themtwo monstrous sons named Hiwa and Hiya, each of whom daily ate a thousandcamels, a thousand horses and a thousand oxen. Azael also invented theornaments and cosmetics employed by women to lead men astray. God thereforewarned them that He would set loose the Upper Waters, and thus destroyall men and beasts. Shemhaza wept bitterly, fearing for his sons who, thoughtall enough to escape drowning, would starve to death.3
(e) That night, Hiwa dreamed of a huge rock abovethe earth, like a table-top, and having a legend inscribed on it whichan angel scraped off with a knife, leaving only four letters. Hiya alsodreamed: of a fruitful orchard, and of other angels felling it until onlya singe three-branched tree remained. They told their dream to Shemhazai,who replied: "Your dream, Hiya, signifies that God's Deluge will destroyall mankind, except Noah and his three sons. Nevertheless, be comforted,for Hiwa's dream signifies that your fame, at least, will never die: wheneverNoah's descendants hew stones, quarry rocks or haul boats, they will shout,"Hiwa, Hiya!" in your honour."4
(f) Afterwards Shemhazai repented, and set himselfin the southern sky, between Heaven and Earth - head, down, feet up, andhangs there to this day: the constellation called Orion by the Greeks.
(g) Azael, however, far from repenting, stilloffers women ornaments and many-colored robes with which to lead men astray.For this reason, on the Day of Atonement, Israel's sins are heaped on theannual scapegoat; it is then thrown over a cliff to Azazel - as some callAzael.5
(h) Others say that certain angels asked God'spermission to collect sure proof of man's iniquity, and thus assure hispunishment. When God agreed, they turned themselves into precious stones,pearls, purple dye, gold and other treasures, which were at once stolenby covetous men. They then took human shape, hoping to teach mankind righteousness.But this asumption of flesh made them subject to human lusts: being seducedby the Daughters of Men, they found themselves chained to Earth, unableto resume their spiritual shapes.6
(i) The Fallen Ones had such huge appetites thatGod rained manna upon them, of many different flavours, lest they mightbe tempted to eat flesh, a forbidden diet, and excuse the fault by pleadingscarcity of corn and pot herbs. Nevertheless, the Fallen Ones rejectedGod's manna, slaughtered animals for food, and even dined on human flesh,thus fouling the air with sickly vapours. It was then that God decidedto cleanse Earth.7
(j) Others say that Shemhazai and Azael wereseduced by the demonesses Naamah, Agrat daughter of Mahlat, and Lilithwho had once been Adam's spouse.8
(k) In those days only one virgin, Istahar byname, remained chaste. When the sons of God made lecherous demands uponher, she cried: "First lend me your wings!" They assented andshe, flying up to Heaven, took sanctuary at the Throne of God, who transformedher into the constellation Virgo - or, some say, the Pleiades. The fallenangels having lost their wings, were stranded on earth until, many generationslater, they mounted Jacob's ladder and thus went home again.9
(l) The wise and virtuous Enoch also ascendedto Heaven, where he became God's chief counsellor, henceforth known as"Metatron." God set His own crown upon Enoch's head, and gavehim seventy-two wings as well as multitudinous eyes. His flesh was transformedinto flame, his sinews into fire, his bones into embers, his eyes intotorches, his hair into rays of light, and he was surrounded by storm, whirlwind,thunder and lightning.10
(m) Some say that the Sons of God won that namebecause the divine light out of which God had created their ancestor Samael,Cain's father, shone from their faces. The Daughters of Men, they say,were the children of Seth, whose father was Adam, not an angel; and theirfaces therefore resembled our own.11
(n) Others, however, make the Sons of God piousdescendants of Seth, and the Daughters of Men sinful descendants of Cain- explaining that when Abel died childless, mankind soon divided into twotribes; namely the Cainites who, apart from Enoch, where wholly evil, andthe Sethites who were wholly righteous. These Sethites inhabited a sacredmountain in the far north, near the Cave of Treasure - some take it forMount Hermon. The Cainites lived apart in a valley to the westward. Adam,on his deathbed, ordered Seth to separate his tribe from the Cainites;and each Sethite patriarch publicly repeated this order, generation aftergeneration. The Sethites were extraordinarily tall, like their ancestor;and by living so close to the Gate of Paradise, won the name "Childrenof God."12
(o) Many Sethites took celibate vows, followingEnoch's example, and led the lives of anchorites. By way of contrast, theCainites practised unbridled debauchery, each keeping at least two wives:the first to bear children, the second to gratify his lust. The child-bearerlived in poverty and neglect, as thougn a widow; the other was forced todrink a potion that made her barren - after which, decked out like a harlot,she entertained her husband luxuriously.13
(p) It was the Cainite's punishment to have ahundred daughters borne them for each son; and this led to such husband-hungerthat their women began to raid houses and carry off men. One day it pleasedthem to seduce them Sethites, after daubing their faces with rouge andpowder, their eyes with antimony, and the soles of their feet with scarlet,dyeing their hair, putting on golden earrings, golden anklets, bracelets,and many-colored garments. In their ascent of the holy mountain, they twangedharps, blew trumpets, beat drums, sang, danced, clapped hands; then, havingaddressed the five hundred and twenty anchorites in cheerful voices, eachcaught hold of her victim and seduced him. These Sethites, after once succumbingto the Cainite women's blandishments, became more unclean than dogs, andutterly forgot God's laws.14
(q) Even the "Sons of Judges" now corruptedthe daughters of the poor. Whenever a bride was beautified for the bridegroom,one such would enter the nuptial chamber and enjoy her first.15
(r) Genun the Canaanite, son of Lamech the Blind,living in the Land of the Slime Pits, was ruled by Azael from his earliestyouth, and invented all sorts of musical instruments. When he played these,Azael entered into them too, so that they gave forth seductive tunes entrancingthe hearts of all listeners. Genun would assemble companies of musicians,who inflamed one another with music until their lust burned bright likefire, and they lay together promiscuously. He also brewed beer, gatheredgreat crowds in taverns, gave them to drink, and taught them to forge ironswords and spear-points, with which to do murder at random when they weredrunk.16
(s) Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, and Uriel toldGod that such wickedness had never before flourished on earth. God thensent Raphael to bind Azael hand and foot, heaping jagged rocks over himin the dark Cave of Dudael, where he now abides until the Last Days. Gabrieldestroyed the Fallen Ones by inciting them to civil war. Michael chainedShemhazai and his fellows in other dark caves for seventy generations.Uriel became the messenger of salvation who visited Noah.17
1 Genesis 6:1-7. 2 Jubilees 4:15, 22; 5:1; Tanhuma BuberGen. 24. 3 Yalqut Gen. 44; Bereshit Rabbati, 29-30. 4 Sources as in preceding footnote. 5 Sources as in preceding footnote. 6 The Clementine Homilies, 8:11-17 (pp.142-45). The Homilies are and early 3rd cent. A.D. Christian tract, writtenprobably in Syria. Cf. also Enoch 6-8; 69; 106, 13f. 7 Sources as in preceeding footnote. 8 Zohar Genesis 37a, 55a. 9 Liqqute Midrashim, 156; a somewhatdifferent version in Yalqut Gen. 44. 10 Sepher Hekhalot, 170-76. 11 Zohar Genesis 37a. 12 PRE, ch 21 (where mishem shouldbe amended to read miseth) and 22; cf also Gen. Rab. 222; Adambuch, 75,81-86; Adamschriften, 37; Schatzhohle, 10. 13 Adamscriften, 38; cf Gen. Rab. 222-23. 14 Sources as in preceeding footnote, and PRE, ch. 22. 15 Targ, and Targ. Yer. ad Gen. 7:2-4; Gen Rab 247-48. 16 Adambuch, 92-93. 17 Enoch IX-X; cf. also chapters XI-XV and LXIX; 2 BaruchLVI:11-16; 2 Enoch XVIII:1-6.
1. The explanation of this myth,which has been a stumbling block to theologians, may be the arrival inPalestine of tall, barabarous Hebrew herdsmen early in the second milleniumB.C., and their exposure, by marriage, to Asianic civilization. "Sonsof El" in this sense would mean the "cattle-owning worshipperof the Semite Bull-god El"; "Daughters of Adam" would mean"women of the soil" (adama), namely, the Goddess- worshippingCanaanite agriculturists, notorious for their orgies and premarital prostitution.If so, this historical event has been tangled with the Ugaritic myth howEl seduced two mortal women and fathered divine sons on them, namely Shahar("Dawn") and Shalem ("Perfect"). Shahar appears asa winged deity in Psalm CXXXIX:9, and his son, according to Isaiah XIV:12,was the fallen angel Helel. Unions between gods and mortals, that is tosay between kings or queens and commoners, occur frequently in Mediterraneanand Middle Eastern myth. Since later Judaism rejected all deities but itsown transcendental God, and since He never married or consorted with anyfemale whatsoever, Rabbi Shimon ben Yohai in Genesis Rabba felt obligedto curse all who read "Sons of God" in the Ugartic sense. Clearly,such an interpretation was still current in the second century A.D., andlapsed only when Bene Elohim meant "God" and Judge," thetheory being that when a duly appointed magistrate tried a case, the Spiritof El possessed him: "I have said, ye are gods." (Psalm LXXXII:6)
2. This myth is constantly quotedin the Apochrypha, the New Testament, the Church Fathers, and midrashim.Josephus interpreted it as follows: Many angels of God now consorted with women, and begot sons on them whowere overbearing and disdainful of every virtue; such confidence had theyin their strength. In fact, the deeds that our tradition ascribed to themrecall the audacious exploits told by the Greeks of the giants. But Noah urgedthem to adopt a better frame of mind and amend their ways.
These Greek giants were twenty-four violent andlecherous sons of Mother Earth, born at Phlegra in Thrace, and the twoAloeids, all of whom rebelled against Almighty Zeus.
3. Josephus's view, that theSons of God were angels, survived for several centuries despot Shimonben Yohai's curse. As late as the eighth century A.D., Rabbi Eliezer recordsin a midrash: "The angels who fell from Heaven saw the daughters ofCain perambulating and displaying their secret parts, their eyes paintedwith antimony in the manner of harlots; and, being seduced, took wivesfrom among them." Rabbi Joshua ben Qorha, a literalist, was worriedby a technical detail: "Is it possible that angels, who are flamingfire, could have performed the sexual act without scorching their bridesinternally?" He decided that "when these angels fell from Heaven,their strength and stature were reduced to those of mortals, and theirfire changed into flesh."
4. Hiwa and Hiya, the namesgiven to giants begotten by Shemhazai and Azael on mortal women, were merelythe cries of work-teams engaged in tasks demanding concerted effort. Inone Talmudic passage, Babylonian sailors are made to shout as they haulcargo vessels ashore: "Hilni, hiya, hola, w'hilok holya!" Thegiants' voracious flesh-eating was, however, a habit of El's Hebrew herdsmen,not of the Agricultural Daughters of Adamah; and this anecdote suggeststhat the myth originated in an community whose diet was severelyrestricted, like that of Daniel and his three holy companions, to pulses.(Daniel I:12).
5. The names of several fallenangels survive only in careless Greek transcriptions of Hebrew or Aramaicoriginals, which make their meaning doubtful. But "Azael" doesseem to represent "Azazel" ("God strengthens"). Dudaelis sometimes translated "God's cauldron," but it is more likelyto be a fantastic modification of Beth Hadudo (M. Yoma, VI:8) - now Harradan,three miles to the south-east of Jerusalem, the Judaean desert cliff fromwhich "the scapegoat for Azazel" fell yearly to its death onthe Day of Atonement. (Leviticus XVI:8-10). This Goat was believed to takeaway Israel's sins and transfer them to their instigator, the fallen angelAzazel, who lay imprisoned under a pile of rocks at the cliff-foot. Thesacrifice did not therefore rank as one offered to demons, like those whichLeviticus XVII:7 prohibits.
6. The Mount of God, where certainpious Sethites lived near the "Cave of Treasure," at the Gatesof Paradise, will have been El's holy Mount Saphon, not Hermon.
7. Istahar's story is borrowedpartly from the Greek writer Aratus (early third century B.C.). He tellshow Justice, a daughter of Dawn, ruled mankind virtuously in the GoldenAge; but when the Silver and Bronze ages brought greed and slaughter amongthem, she exclaimed: "Alas, for this evil race!" and mountedinto Heaven, where she became the constellation Virgo. The rest of thisstory is borrowed from Apollodorus's account of Orion's attempt on theseven virgin Pleiadies, daughters of Atlas and Pleione, who escaped his embracestransformed into stars. "Istahar," however, is the BabylonianGoddess Ishtar, sometimes identified with Virgo. Popular Egyptian beliefidentified Orion, the constellation which became Shemhazai, with the soulsof Osiris.
8. The right claimed by certain"sons of judges" to take the maiden heads of poor men's bridesis, apparently, the ancient and well-known jus primae noctis which, asthe droit de cuissage, was still reputedly exercised by feudal lords inEurope during the Middle Ages (see 36:4). Yet at a time when the Sons ofGod were regarded as divine beings, this story may have referred to a customprevalent in the Eastern Mediterranean: a girl's maidenhead was rituallybroken by "equitation" of a priapic statue. A similar practiceobtained among Byzantine hippodrome-performers as late as Justinian's reign,and is hinted at in records of the medieval English witch cult.
9. Many details of the Genunstory, taken from the fifth-century A.D. Ethiopian Book of Adam, are paralleledin midrashic writings. Although Genun's name suggests "Kenan,"who appears in Genesis V:9 as the son of Enoch, he is a composite Kenitecharacter: the invention of musical instruments being attributed in Genesisto Jubal, and of edged iron blades to his brother Tubal Cain. Genun wassaid to occupy "the Land of the Slime Pits," namely the southernshores of the Dead Sea (Genesis XIV:10), doubtless because the evil cityof Sodom stood there (see 32:6).
10. Enoch ("Instructor")won his immense reputation from the apocalyptic and once canonical Bookof Enoch, compiled in the first century B.C. It is an ecstatic elaborationof Genesis V:22: "And Enoch walked with God three hundred years afterhe begat Methuselah." Later Hebrew myth makes him God's recordingangel and counsellor, also patron of all children who study the Torah.Metatron is a Hebrew corruption of either the Greek "metadromos,""he who pursues with a vengeance," or of "meta ton thronon","nearest to the Divine Throne."
11. The Anakim may have beenMycenaean Greek colonists, belonging to the "Sea Peoples" confederationwhich caused Egypt such trouble in the fourteenth century B.C. Greek mythograoherstold of a Giant Anax ("king"), son of Heaven and Mother Earth,who ruled Anactoria (Miletus) in Asia Minor. According to Appollodorus,the disinterred skeleton of Asterius ("starry"), Anax's successor,measured ten cubits. Akakes, the plural of Nanx, was an epithet of theGreek gods in general. Talmudic commentators characteristically make theAnakim three thousand cubits tall.
12. Megalithic monuments, foundby the Hebrews on their arrival in Canaan, will have encouraged legendsabout giants; as in Greece, where the monstrous man-eating Cyclopes weresaid by story-tellers ignorant of ramps, levers and other Mycenaean engineeringdevices, to have lifted single- handed the huge blocks of stone that formthe walls of Tiryns, Mycenae and other ancient cities.
13. The Nephilim ("FallenOnes") bore many other tribal names, such as Emim ("Terrors"),Repha'im ("Weakeners"), Gibborim ("Giant Heroes"),Zamzummim ("Acheivers"), Anakim ("Long-necked" or "Wearersof Necklaces"), Awwim ("Devastators" or "Serpents").One of the Nephilim named Arba is said to have built the city of Hebron,called "Kiriath-Arba" after him, and become the father of Anakwhose three sons, Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai, were later expelled by Joshua'scomrade Caleb. Since, however, arba means "four" in Hebrew, Kiriath-Arbamay have originally have meant "City of Four," a reference toits four quarters mythically connected with the Anakite clans: Anak himselfand his "sons" Sheshai, Ahiman and Talmai.