The Seven Heavens
We read in the Chagigah 12 b that there are seven heavens:
The Vdon, in which there is the sun
- The Riqia, in which the sun shines, and the moon, stars, and planets are fixed
The Shechaqim, in which are the millstones to make the manna for the pious
The Zebhul, in which the Upper Jerusalem, and the Temple and the Altar, and in which Michael, the chief Angel-Prince, offers sacrifices
- The Maon, in which the Angels of the Ministry are, who sing by night and are silent by day for the sake of the honor of Israel (who now have their services)
The Machon, in which are the treasuries of snow, hail, the chambers of noxious dews, and of the receptacles of water, the chamber of wind, and the cave of mist, and their doors are of fire
The Araboth, wherein Justice, Judgment and Righteousness are, the treasures of Life, of Peace and of Blessing, the soul of the righteous, and the spirits and souls of those who are to be born in the future, and the dew by which the dead are to be raised. There also are the Ophanim, and the Seraphim, and the living creatures and the ministering Angels, and the Throne of Glory and over them is enthroned the Great King
On the other hand, sometimes every power and phenomenon in Nature is hypostatised into an Angel - such as hail, rain, wind, sea, etc. ; similarly, every occurrence, such as life, death, nourishment, poverty, nay, as it is expressed: there is not stalk of grass upon earth but it has its Angels in heaven (Ber R. 10). This seems to approximate the views of Alexandrian Mysticism. So also, perhaps, the idea that certain Biblical heroes became after death Angels. But as this may be regarded as implying their service as messengers of God. we leave it for the present.
The Angel Princes
Any limitation, as to duration or otherwise, of the Ministering Angels does not apply either to the Ophanim (or wheel-angels), the Seraphim, the Cayoth (or living creatures), nor to the Angel-Princes (Bereshith Rabba 78). (5) In Chagigah 13 a, b the name Chashamal is given to the 'living creatures.' The word is explained as composed of two others which mean silence and speech - it being beautifully explained, that they keep silence when the Word proceeds out of the mouth of God, and speak when He has ceased. It would be difficult exactly to state the number of the Angel-Princes. The 70 nations, of which the world is composed, had each their Angel-Prince (Targ. Jeremiah on Genesis 11:7, 8; comp. Bereshith Rabba 56; Shem. R. 21; Vayyi. R. 29; Ruth R. ed. Warsh. p. 36 b), who plead their cause with God. Hence these Angels are really hostile to Israel, and may be regarded as not quite good Angels, and are cast down when the nationality which they represent is destroyed. It may have been as a reflection on Christian teaching that Israel was described as not requiring any representative with God, like the Gentiles.
For, as will soon appear, this was not the general view entertained. Besides these Gentile Angel-Princes there were other chiefs, whose office will be explained in the sequel. Of these 5 are specially mentioned, of whom four surrounded the Throne of God: Michael, Gabriel, Rephael, and Uriel. But the greatest of all is Metatron, who is under the Throne, and before it. These Angels are privileged to be within the Pargod, or cloudy veil, while the others only hear the Divine commands or councels outside this curtain (Chagigah 16 a, Pirqé d. R. El. iv.). It is a slight variation when the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan on Deuteronomy 34:6 enumerates the following as the 6 principal Angels: Michael, Gabriel, Metatron, Yopheil, Uriel, and Yophyophyah. The Book of Enoch (ch. 20) speaks also of 6 principal Angels, while Pirqé d. R. Eliez. iv. mentions seven. In that very curious passage (Berakhoth 51 a) we read of three directions given by Suriel, Prince of the Face, to preserve the Rabbis from the Techaspith (company of Evil Angels), or according to others, form Istalganith (another company of Evil Angels). In Chagigah 13 b we read of an Angel called Sandalpon, who stands upon the earth, while his head reaches 500 years' way beyond the living creatures. He is supposed to stand behind the Merkabah (the throne-chariot), and make crowns for the Creator, which rise of their own accord. We also read of Sagsagel, who taught Moses the sacred Name of God, and was present at his death.
The Five Angelic Chiefs
The first angelic chief is Metaron, who appears most closely to correspond to the Angel of the Face, or the Logos. He is the representative of God. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 38 b) a Christian is introduced as clumsily starting a controversy on this point, that, according to the Jewish contention, Exodus 24:1 should have read, 'Come up to Me.' On this R. Idith explained that the expression referred to the Metatron (Exodus 24:21), but denied the inference that Metatron was either to be adored, or had power to forgive sins, or that he was to be regarded as a Mediator. In continuation of this controversy we are told (Chang. 15 a, b) that, when an apostate Rabbi had seen Metatron sitting in heaven, and would have interferred from it that there were two supreme powers, Metatron received from another Angel 60 fiery stripes so as to prove his inferiority!
In the Targum, Psalm, Jonah on Genesis 5:24 he is called the Great Scribe, and also the Prince of this world. He is also designated as 'the Youth,' and in the Kabbalah as 'the Little God,' who had 7 names like the Almighty, and shared His Majesty. he is also called the 'Prince of the Face,' and described as the Angel who sits in the innermost chamber (Chagigah 5 b), while the other Angels hear their commands outside the Veil (Chagigah 16 a). He is represented as showing the unseen to Moses (Siphré, p. 141 a), and as instructing infants who have died without receiving knowledge (Abhod. Zar. 3 b). In the Introduction to the Midrash on Lamentations there is a revolting story in which Metatron is represented as proposing to shed tears in order that God might not have to weep over the destruction of Jerusalem, to which, however, the Almighty is made to refuse His assent. We hesitate to quote further from the passage. In Siphré on Deuteronomy (ed. Freidm. p. 141 a) Metatron is said to have shown Moses the whole of Palestine. He is also said to have gone before Israel in the Wilderness.
The second angelic chief is Michael or the Great Prince (Chagigah 12 b). He stands at the right hand of the throne of God. According to Targ. Psalm -Jonah on Exodus 24:1, he is the Prince of Wisdom. According to the Targum on Psalm 132:7, 8, the Prince of Jerusalem, the representative of Israel. According to Sebach. 62 a he offers upon the heavenly Altar; according to some, the soul of the pious; according to others, lambs of fire. But, although Michael is the Prince of Israel, he is not to be invoked by them (Jeremiah Berakhoth ix. 13 a). In Yoma 77 a we have an instance of his ineffectual advocacy for Israel before the destruction of Jerusalem. The origin of his name as connected with the Song of Moses at the Red Sea is explained in Bemidb. R. 2. Many instances of his activity are related.
Thus, he delivered Abraham from the fiery oven of Nimrod, and afterwards, also, the Three Children out of the fiery furnace. He was the principal or middle Angel of the three who came to announce to Abraham the birth of Isaac, Gabriel being at his right, and Rephael at his left. Michael also saved Lot. Michael and Gabriel wrote down that the primogeniture belonged to Jacob, and God confirmed it. Michael and Gabriel acted as 'friends of the bridegroom' in the nuptials of Adam. Yet they could not bear to look upon the glory of Moses. Michael is also supposed to have been the Angel in the bush (according to others, Gabriel). At the death of Moses, Michael prepared his bier, Gabriel spread a cloth over the head of Moses, and Sagsagel over his feet. In the world to come Michael would pronounce the blessing over the fruits of Eden, then hand them to Gabriel, who would give them to the patriarchs, and so on to David. The superiority of Michael over Gabriel is asserted in Berakhoth 4 b, where, by an ingenious combination with Daniel 10:13, it is shown that Isaiah vi. 6 applies to him. It is added that Michael flies in one fight, Gabriel in two, Elijah in four, and the Angel of Death in eight flights (no doubt to give time for repentance).
The second angelic chief is Gabriel ('the Hero of God') represents rather judgment, while Michael represents mercy. Thus he destroyed Sodom (Bab. Mez. 86 b, and other places). He restored to Tamar the pledges of Judah, which Sammael had taken away (Sot. 10 b). He struck the servants of the Egyptian princess, who would have kept their mistress from taking Moses out of the water (Sot. 12 b); also Moses, that he might cry and so awaken pity. According to some, it was he who delivered the Three Children; but all are agreed that he killed the men that were standing outside the furnace. He also smote the army of Sennacherib. The passage in Ezekiel 10:2, 7 was applied to Gabriel, who had received from the Cherub two coals, which, however, he retained for six years, in the hope that Israel might repent. He is supposed to be referred to in Ezekiel 9:4 as affixing the mark on the forehead.
We are also told that he had instructed Moses about making the Candlestick, on which occasion he had put on an apron, like a goldsmith; and that he had disputed with Michael about the meaning of a word. To his activity the bringing of fruits to maturity is ascribed - perhaps because he was regarded as made of fire, while Michael was made of snow (Deb. R. 5). These Angels are supposed to stand beside each other, without the fire of the one injuring the snow of the other. The curious legend is connected with him (Shabbath 56 b, Sanhedrin 21 b), that, when Solomon married the daughter of Pharaoh, Gabriel descended into the sea, and fixed a reed in it, around which a mudbank gathered, on which a forest sprang up. On this site imperial Rome was built. The meaning of the legend - or perhaps rather allegory - seems (as explained in other parts of this book) that, when Israel began to decline from God, the punishment through its enemies was prepared, which culminated in the dominion of Rome. In the future age Gabriel would hunt and slay Leviathan. This also may be a parabolic representation of the destruction of Israel's enemies.
The fourth and fifth angelic chiefs are Uriel ('God is my light') and Rephael ('God heals') - it need only be said, that the one stands at the left side of the Throne of glory, the other behind it.
The Ministry of Angels
The ministry of the Angels may be divided into two parts, that of praising God, and that of executing His behests. In regard to the former, there are 684,000 myriads who daily praise the Name of God. From sunrise to sundown they say: Holy, holy, holy, and from sundown to sunrise: Blessed be the Glory of God from its place. In connection with this we may mention the beautiful allegory (Shem. R. 21) that the Angel of prayer weaves crowns for God out of the prayer of Israel. As to the execution of the Divine commands by the Angels, it is suggested (Aboth d. R. Nathan 8) that their general designation as ministering Angels might have led to jealousy among them. Accordingly, their names were always a composition of that of God with the special commission entrusted to them (Shem. r. 29), so that the name of each Angel depended in Yalkut (vol. ii. Par. 797), where we are told that each Angel has a tablet on his heart, in which the Name of God and that of the Angel is combined. This change of names explained the answer of the Angel to Manoah (Bemidb. R. 10).
It is impossible to enumerate all the instances of Angelic activity recorded in Talmudic writings. Angels had performed the music at the first sacrifice of Adam; they had announced the consequences of his punishment; they had cut off the hands and feet of the serpent; they had appeared to Abraham in the form of a baker, a sailor, and an Arab. 120,000 of them had danced before Jacob when he left Laban; 4,000 myriads of them were ready to fight for him against Esau; 22,000 of them descended on Sinai and stood beside Israel when, in their terror at the Voice of God, they fled for twelve miles. Angels were directed to close the gates of heaven when the prayer of Moses with the All-powerful, Ineffable Name in it, which he had learn from Sagsagel, would have prevented his death. Finally, as they were pledged to help Israel, so would they also punish every apostate Israelite. Especially would they execute that most terrible punishment of throwing souls to each other from one world to another. By the side of these debasing superstitions we come upon beautiful allegories, such as that a good and an evil Angel always accompanied man, but especially on the eve of the Sabbath when he returned from the Synagogue, and that for every precept he observed God sent him a protecting Angel. This is realistically developed in Pirké d. R. El. 15, where the various modes and time which the good Angels keep man from destruction are set forth.
It is quite in accordance with what we know of the system of Rabbinism, that the heavenly host should be represented as forming a sort of consultative Sanhedrin. Since God never did anything without first taking counsel with the family above (Sanhedrin 38 b), it had been so when He resolved to create man. Afterward the Angels had interceded for Adam, and, when God pointed to his disobedience, they had urged that thus death would also come upon Moses and Aaron, who were sinless, since one fate must come to the just and the unjust. Similarly, they had interceded for Isaac, when Abraham was about to offer him and finally dropped three tears on the sacrificial knife, by which its edge became blunted. And so through the rest of Israel's history, where on all critical occasions Jewish legend introduces the Angels on the scene.
Limitations on Angelic Power
According to Jewish ideas, the faculties, the powers, and even the knowledge of Angels were limited. They are, indeed, pure spiritual beings (Vayyikra R. 24), without sensuous requirements (Yoma 75 b), without hatred, envy, or jealousy (Chagigah 14), and without sin (Pirqé d. R. El. 46). They know much, notably the future (Ab. d. R. Nath. 37), and have part in the Divine Light. They live on the beams of the Divine Glory (Bem. R. 21), are not subject to our limitations as to movement, see but are not seen (A b. d. R. Nath. u. s.), can turn their face to any side (Ab. d. R. Nath. 37), and only appear to share in our ways, such as in eating (Bar. R. 48). Still, in many respects they are inferior to Israel, and had been employed in ministry (Bereshith Rabba 75). They were unable to give names to the animals, which Adam did (Pirqé d. R. El. 13). Jacob had wrestled with the Angel and prevailed over him when the Angel wept (Chull. 92 a). Thus it was rather their nature than their powers or dignity which distinguished them from man. No angel could do two messages at the same time (Bereshith Rabba 50). In general they are merely instruments blindly to do a certain work, not even beholding the Throne of Glory (Bemidb. R. 14), but needed mutual assistance (Vayyikia R. 31). They are also liable to punishments (Chagigah 16 a). Thus, they were banished from their station for 138 years, because they had told Lot that God would destroy Sodom, while the Angel-Princes of the Gentiles were kept in chains till the days of Jeremiah.
As regards their limited knowledge, with the exception of Gabriel, they do not understand Chaldee or Syriac (Sot. 33 a). The realistic application of their supposed ignorance on this score need not here be repeated (see Shabbath 12 b). As the Angels are inferior to the righteous, it follows that they are so to Israel. God had informed the Angels that the creation of man was superior to theirs, and it had excited their envy. Adam attained a place much nearer to God than they, and God loved Israel more than the Angels. And God had left all the ministering Angels in order to come to Moses, and when He communicated with him it was directly, and the Angels standing between them did not hear what passed. In connection with this ministry of the Angels on behalf of Biblical heroes a curious legend may here find its place. From a combination of Exodus 18:4 with Exodus 2:15 the strange inference was made that Moses had actually been seized by Pharaoh.
Two different accounts of how he escaped from his power are given. According to the one, the sword with which he was to be executed rebounded from the neck of Moses, and was broken, to which Canticles vii. 5 was supposed to refer, it being added that the rebound killed the would-be executioner. According to another account, an Angel took the place of Moses, and thus enabled him to fly, his flight being facilitated by the circumstances that all the attendants of the king were miraculously rendered either dumb, deaf, or blind, so that they could not execute the behest of their master. Of this miraculous interposition Moses is supposed to have been reminded in Exodus 4:11, for his encouragement in undertaking his mission to Pharaoh. In the exaggeration of Jewish boastfulness in the Law, it was said that the Angels had wished to receive the Law, but that they had not been granted this privilege (Job 28:21). And sixty myriads of Angels had crowned with two crowns every Israelite who at Mount Sinai had taken upon himself the Law (Shabbath 88 a). In view of all this we need scarcely mention the Rabbinic prohibition to address to the Angels prayers, even although they bore them to heaven (Jeremiah Berakhoth ix. 1), or to make pictorial representations of them (Targ. Ps-Jonah on Exodus 20:23; Mechilta on the passage, ed. Weiss, p. 80 a).
Are Angels totally GOOD?
The Angels are not absolutely good. Strange as it may seem, this is really the view expressed by the Rabbis. Thus it is said that, when God consulted the Angels, they opposed the creation of man, and that, for this reason, God had concealed from them that man would sin. But more than this - the Angels had actually conspired for the fall of man (the whole of this is also related in Pirqé d. R. El. 13). Nor had their jealous and envy been confined to that occasion. They had accused Abraham, that, when he gave a great feast at the weaning of Isaac, he did not even offer to God a bullock or a goat. Similarly, they had laid charges against Ishmael, in the hope that he might be left to perish of thirst. They had expostulated with Jacob, because he went to sleep at Bethel. But especially had they, from envy, opposed Moses' ascension into heaven; they had objected to his being allowed to write down the Law, falsely urging that Moses would claim the glory of it for himself, and they are represented, in a strangely blasphemous manner, as having been with difficulty appeased by God. In Shabbath 88 b we have an account of how Mosses pacified the Angels, by showing that the Law was not suitable for them, since they were not subject to sinful desires, upon which they became the friends of Moses, and each taught him some secret, among others the Angel of death how to arrest the pestilence. Again, it is said, that the Angels were wont to bring charges against Israel, and that, when Manasseh wished to repent, the Angels shut the entrance to heaven, so that his prayer might not penetrate into the presence of God.
Equally profane, though in another direction, is the notion that Angels might be employed for magical purposes. This had happened at the siege of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar, when, after the death of that mighty hero Abika, the son of Gaphteri, Chananeel, the uncle of Jeremiah, had conjured up ministering Angels, who affrighted the Chaldees into flight. On this God had changed their names, when Chananee, unable any longer to command their services, had summoned up the Prince of the World by using the Ineffable Name, and lifted Jerusalem into the air, but God had trodden it down again, to all which Lamentations 2:1 referred (Yalk. vol. ii. p. 166 c and d, Par. 1001). The same story is repeated in another place (p. 167, last line of col. c, and col. d), with the addition that the leading inhabitants of Jerusalem had proposed to defend the city by conjuring up the Angels of Water and Fire, and surrounding their city with walls of water, of fire, or of iron; but their hopes were disappointed when God assigned to the Angel names different from those which they had previously possessed, so that when called upon they were unable to do what was expected of them.
Names of Angels
Besides those already enumerated, we may here mention, (10) the Sar ha-Olam, or 'Prince of the World' (Yeb. 16 b); the Prince of the Sea, whose name is supposed to have been Rahab, and whom God destroyed because he had refused to receive the waters which had covered the world, and the smell of whose dead body would kill every one if it were not covered by water. Dumah is the Angel of the realm of the dead (Berakhoth 18 b). When the soul of the righteous leaves the body, the ministering Angels announce it before God, Who deputes them to meet it. Three hosts of Angels then proceed on this errand, each quoting successively one clause of Isaiah lvii. 2. On the other hand, when the wicked leave the body, they are met by three hosts of destroying Angels, one of which repeats Isaiah 48:22, another Isaiah 1:11, and the third Ezekiel 32:19 (Keth. 104 a).
Then the souls of all the dead, good or bad, are handed over to Dunah. Yorqemi is the Prince of hail. He had proposed to cool the fiery furnace into which the Three Children were cast, but Gabriel had objected that this might seem a deliverance by natural means, and being himself the Prince of the fire, had proposed, instead of this, to make the furnace cold within and hot without, in order both to deliver the Three Children and to destroy those who watched outside (Pesachim 118 a and b) (11) Ridya, or Rayda is the Angel of rain. One of the Rabbis professed to describe him from actual vision as like a calf whose lips were open, standing between the Upper and the Lower Deep, and saying to the Upper Deep, Let your waters run down, and to the Lower, Let your waters spring up. The representation of this Angel as a calf may be due to the connection between rain and ploughing, and in connection with this may it be noticed that Ryda means both a plough and ploughing (Taanith 25 b). Of other Angels we will only name the Ruach Pisqonith, or Spirit of decision, who is supposed to have made most daring objection to what God had said, Ezekiel xvi. 3, in which he is defended by the Rabbis, since his activity had been on behalf of Israel (Sanhedrin 44 b); Naqid, the Angel of Food; Nabhel, the Angel of Poverty; the two Angels of Healing; the Angel of Dreams, Lailah; and even the Angel of Lust.
It is, of course, not asserted that all these grossly materialistic superstitious and profane views were entertained in Palestine, or at the time of our Lord, still less that they are shared by educated Jews in the West. But they certainly date from Talmudic times; they embody the only teaching of Rabbic writings about the Angels which we possess, and hence, whencesoever introduced, or however developed, their roots must be traced back to far earlier times than those when they were propounded in Rabbic Academies. All the more that modern Judaism would indignantly repudiate them, do they bear testimony against Rabbic teaching. And one thing at least must be evident, for the sake of which we have undertaken the task of recording at such length views and statements repugnant to all reverent feeling. The contention of certain modern writers that the teaching about Angels in the New Testament is derived from, and represents Jewish notions must be perceived to be absolutely groundless and contrary to fact. In truth, the teaching of the New Testament on the subject of Angels represents, as compared with that of the Rabbis, not only a return to the purity of Old Testament teaching, but, we might almost say, a new revelation.
Satanology and the Fall of the Angels
The difference between the Satanology of the Rabbis and of the New Testament is, if possible, even more marked than that in their Angelology. In general we note that, with the exception of the word Satan, none of the names given to the great enemy in the New Testament occurs in Rabbinic writing. More important still, the latter contain no mention of a Kingdom of Satan. In other words, the power of the evil is not contrasted with that of good, nor Satan with God. The devil is presented rather as the enemy of man, than of God and of good. This marks a fundamental difference. The New Testament sets before us two opposing kingdoms, or principles, which exercise absolute sway over man. Christ is 'the Stronger one' who overcometh 'the strong man armed,' and taken from him not only his spoils, but his armor ( Luke 11:21, 22). It is a moral contest in which Satan is vanquished, and the liberation of his subjects is the consequence of his own subdual. This implies the deliverance of man from the power of the enemy, not only externally but internally, and substitution of a new principle of spiritual life for the old one. It introduces a moral element, both as the ground and as the result of the contest. From this point of view the difference between the New Testament and Rabbinism cannot be too much emphasized, and it is no exaggeration to say that this alone - the question here being one of principle not of details - would mark the doctrine of Christ as fundamentally divergent from, and incomparably superior to, that of Rabbinsim. 'Whence hath this Man this wisdom?' Assuredly, it may be answered, not from His contemporaries.
Since Rabbinism viewed the 'great enemy' only as the envious and malicious opponent of man, the spiritual element was entirely eliminated. Instead of the personified principle of Evil, to which there is response in us, and of which all have some experience, we have only a clumsy and - to speak plainly - often a stupid hater. This holds equally true in regard to the threefold aspect under which Rabbinism presents the devil: as Satan (also called Sammael); as the Yetser haRa, or evil impulse personified; and as the Angel of Death - in other words, as the Accuser, Tempter, and Punisher.
The Fall of Satan
This took place, not antecedently, but subsequently to the creation of man. As related in Pirqé de R. Eliezer, ch 13, the primary cause of it was jealously and envy on the part of the Angels. Their opposition to man's creation is also described in Bereshith Rabba 8, although there the fall of man is not traced to Satanic agency. But we have (as before stated) a somewhat blasphemous account of the discussions in the heavenly Sanhedrin, whether or not man should be created. While the dispute was still proceeding God actually created man, and addressed the ministering Angels: 'Why dispute any longer? Man is already created.' In the Pirqé de R. Eliezer, we are only told that the Angels had in vain attempted to oppose the creation of man.
The circumstance that his superiority was evidenced by his ability to give names to all creatures, induced them to 'lay a plot against Adam,' so that by his fall they might obtain supremacy. Now of all Angel-Princes in heaven Sammael was the first - distinguished above. Taking the company of Angels subject to him, he came down upon earth, and selected as the only fit instrument for his designs the serpent, which at that time had not only speech, but hands and feet, and was in stature and appearance like the camel. In the language of the Pirqé de R. Eliezer, Sammael took complete possession of the serpent, even as demoniacs act under the absolute control of evil spirits. Then Sammael, in the serpent, first deceived the woman, and next imposed on her by touching the tree of life (although the tree cried out), saying, that he had actually 'touched' the tree, of which he pretended the touch had been forbidden on pain of death (Genesis 3:3) (15) - and yet he had not died! Upon this Eve followed his example, and touched the tree when she immediately saw the Angel of Death coming against her. Afraid that she would die and God give another wife to Adam, she led her husband into sin of disobedience. The story of the Fall is somewhat differently related in Bereshith Rabba 18, 19. No mention is there earlier of Sammael or of his agency, and the serpent is represented as beguiling Eve from a wish to marry her, and for that purpose to compass the death of Adam.
Critical ingenuity may attempt to find a symbolic meaning in many of the details of the Jewish legend of the Fall, although, to use moderate language, they seem equally profane and repulsive. But this will surely be admitted by all, that the Rabbinic account of the fall of the Angels, as connected with fall of man, equally contrasts with the reverent reticence of the Old Testament narrative and the sublime teaching of the New Testament about sin and evil.
The Accuser of Man
Satan, or Sammael, is the accuser of man. And clumsy, indeed, are his accusations. Thus the statement (Genesis 22:1) that 'God tempted Abraham' is, in Jewish legend, transformed (Sanhedrin 89 b) into a scene, where, in the great upper Sanhedrin (Bereshith Rabba 56), Satan brings accusation against the Patriarch. (16) All his previous piety had been merely interested; and now when, at the age of one hundred, God had given him a son, he had made a great feast and not offered aught to the Almighty. On this God is represented as answering, that Abraham was ready to sacrifice not only an animal but his own son; and this had been the occasion of the temptation of Abraham. That this legend is very ancient, indeed pre-Christian (a circumstance of considerable importance to the student of this history) appears from its occurrence, though in more general form, in the Book of Jubilees, ch. xvii. In BerakhothR. 55 and in Tacchuma (ed. Warsh p. 29 a and b), the legend is connected with a dispute between Isaac and Ishmael as to their respective merits, when former declares himself ready to offer up his life unto God. In Tanchuma we are told that this was one of the great merits of man, to which the Almighty and pointed when the Angels made objection to his creation.
The Seducer of Man
Satan, or Sammael, as the seducer of man. This statement in Baba B. 16 a which identifies Satan with the Yetser haRa, or evil impulse in man, must be regarded are a rationalistic attempt to gloss over the older teaching about Sammael, by representing him as a personification of the evil inclination within us. For, the Talmud not only distinguishes between a personal Satan without, and evil inclination within man, but expressly ascribes to God the creation of the Yetser haRa in man as he was before the Fall, the occurrence of two `y ('and He formed,' Genesis 2:7) being supposed to indicate the existence of two impulses in us - the Yetser Tobh and the Yetser haRa (Berakhoth 61 a). And it is stated that this existence of evil in man's original nature was infinite comfort in the fear which would otherwise beset us in trouble (Bereshith Rabba 14). More than this (as will presently be shown), the existence of this evil principle within us was declared to be absolutely necessary for the continuance of the world (Yoma 69 b, Sanhedrin 64 a)
Satan, or Sammael, is introduced as the seducer of man in all the great events of Israel's history. With varying legendary additions the story of Satan's attempts to prevent the obedience of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac is told in Sanhedrin 89 b, Bereshith Rabba 56, and Tanchuma, p. 30 a and b. Yet there is nothing even astute, only a coarse realism, about the description of the clumsy attempts of Satan to turn Abraham from, or to hinder him in, his purpose; to influence Isaac; or to frighten Sarah. Nor are the other personages in the legend more successfully sketched. There is a want of all higher conception in the references to the Almighty, a painful amount of downright untruthfulness about Abraham, lamentable boastfulness and petty spite about Isaac, while the Sarah of the Jewish legend is rather a weak old Eastern woman than the mother in Israel. To hold perversions of the Old Testament by the side of the New Testament conception of the motives of lives of the heroes of old, or the doctrinal inferences and teaching of the Rabbis by those of Christ and His Apostles, were to compare darkness with light.
The same remarks apply to the other legends in which Satan is introduced as seducer. Anything more childish could scarcely be invented than this, that, when Sammael could not otherwise persuade Israel that Moses would not return from Mount Sinai, he at last made his bier appear before them in the clouds (Shab. 89 a), unless it be this story, that when Satan would seduce David he assumed the form of a bird, and that, when David shot at it, Bath-Sheba suddenly looked up, thus gaining the king by her beauty (Sanhedrin 107 a). In both these instances the obvious purpose is to palliate the guilt whether of Israel or of David, which, indeed, is in other places entirely explained away as not due to disobedience or to lust (Comp. Ab. Zar. 4 b, 5 a).
The Enemy of Man
As the Enemy of man, Satan seeks to hurt and destroy him; and he is the Angel of Death. Thus, when Satan had failed in shaking the constancy of Abraham and Isaac, he attacked Sarah (Yalkut, i. Par. last lines p. 28 b). To his suggestions, or rather false reports, her death had been due, either from fright at being told that Isaac had been offered (Pirqé de R. El. 32, and Targum Psalm - Jonah ), or else from the shock, when after all she learned that Isaac was not dead (Bereshith Rabba 58). Similarly, Satan had sought to take from Tamar the pledges which Judah had given her. He appeared as an old man to show Nimrod how to have Abraham cast into the fiery oven, at the same time persuading Abraham not to resist it, etc. Equally puerile are the representations of Satan as the Angel of Death. According to Abod. Zar. 20 b, the dying sees his enemy with a drawn sword, on the point of which a drop of gall trembles.
In his fright he opens his mouth and swallows this drop, which accounts for the pallor of the face and the corruption that follows. According to another Rabbi, the Angel of Death really uses his sword, although, on account of the dignity of humanity, the wound which he inflicts is not allowed to be visible. It is difficult to imagine a narrative more repulsive than that of the death of Moses according to Deb. R. 11. Beginning with the triumph of Sammael over Michael at the expected event, it tells how Moses had entreated rather to be changed into a beast or a bird than to die; how Gabriel and Michael had successively refused to bring the soul of Moses; how Moses, knowing that Sammael was coming for the purpose, had armed himself with the Ineffable Name; how Moses had in boastfulness recounted to Sammael all his achievements, real and legendary; and how at last Moses had pursued the Enemy with the Ineffable Name, and in his anger taken off one of his horns of glory and blinded Satan in one eye. We must be excused from following this story through its revolting details.
But, whether as the Angel of Death or as the seducer of man, Sammael has not absolute power. When Israel took the Law upon themselves at Mount Sinai, they became entirely free from his sway, and would have remained so, but for the sin of the Golden Calf. Similarly, in the time of Ezra, the object of Israel's prayer (Nehemiah 7) was to have Satan delivered to them. After a three day's fast it was granted, and the Yetser haRa of idolatry, in the shape of a young lion, was delivered up to them. It would serve no good purpose to repeat the story of what was done with the bound enemy, or how his cries were rendered inaudible in heaven. Suffice it that, in view of the requirements of the present world, Israel liberated him from the ephah covered with lead (Zechariah 5:8), under which, by advice of the prophet Zechariah, they had confined him, although for precaution they first put out his eyes (Yoam, 69 b). And yet, in view, or probably, rather, in ignorance, of such teaching, modern criticism would derive the Satanology of the New Testament and the history of the Temptation from Jewish sources!
Over these six persons - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, with whom some apparently rank Benjamin - the Angel of Death, had no power (Baba. B. 17 a). Benjamin, Amram, Jesse, and Chileb (the son of David) are said to have died (only) through 'the sin of the serpent.' In other cases, also, Sammael may not be able to exercise his sway till, for example, he has by some ruse diverted a theologian from his sacred study. Thus he interrupted the pious meditations of David by going up into a tree and shaking it, when, as David went to examine it, a rung of the ladder, on which he stood, broke, and so interrupted David's holy thoughts. Similarly, Rabbi Chasda, by occupation with sacred study, warded off the Angel of Death till the crackling of a beam diverted his attention. Instances of the awkwardness of the Enemy are related (Kethub. 77 b), and one rabbi - Joshua, actually took away his sword, only returning it by direct command of God. Where such views of Satan could even find temporary expression, superstitious fears may have been excited; but the thought of moral evil and of a moral combat with it could never have found lodgment.
Here also, as throughout, we mark the presence of Parsee elements of superstition. In general, these spirits resemble the gnomes, hobglobins, elves, and sprites of our fairy tales. They are cunning and malicious, and contact with them is dangerous; but they can scarcely be described as absolutely evil. Indeed, they often prove kind and useful; and may at all times be rendered innocuous, and even made serviceable.
Opinions differ as to their origin, in fact, they variously originated. According to Ab. 12 b, Bereshith Rabba 7, they were created on the eve of the first Sabbath. But since that time their numbers have greatly increased. For, according to Erub. 18 b, Bereshith Rabba 20 (ed Warsh. p. 40 b), multitudes of them were the offspring of Eve and of male spirits, and of Adam with female spirits, or with Lilith (the queen of the female spirits), during the 130 years that Adam had been under the ban, and before Seth was born (Genesis 5:3): comp. Erub. 18 b. Again, their number can scarcely be limited, since they propagate themselves (Chagigah 16 a), resembling men in this as well as in their taking of nourishment and dying. On the other hand, like the Angels they have wings, pass unhindered through space, and know the future. Still further, they are produced by a process of transformation from vipers, which, in the course of four times seven years, successively pass through the forms of vampires, thistles and thorns, into Shedim (Babha Qamma 16 a) - perhaps a parabolic form of indicating the origination of Shedim through the fall of man. Another parabolic idea may be implied in the saying that Shedim spring from the backbone of those who have not bent in worship (u.s.).
Although Shedim bear, when they appear, the form of human beings, they may assume any other form. Those of their number who are identified with dirty places are represented as themselves black (Kidd. 72 a). But the reflection of their likeness is not the same as that of man. When conjured up, their position (whether with the head or the feet uppermost) depends on the mode of conjuring. Some of the Shedim have defects. Thus, those of them who lodge in the caper bushes are blind, and an instance is related when one of their number, in pursuit of a Rabbi, fell over the root of a tree and perished (Pesachim 111 b). Trees, gardens, vineyards, and also ruined and desolate houses, but especially dirty places, were their favorite habitation, and the night-time, or before cock-crowing, their special time of appearance. Hence the danger of going alone into such places (Berakhoth 3 a, b; 62 a).
A company of two escaped the danger, while before three the Shed did not even appear (Berakhoth 43 b). For the same reason it was dangerous to sleep alone in a house (Shabbath 151 b), while the man who went out before cock-crow, without at least carrying for protection a burning torch (though moonlight was far safer) had his blood on his own head. If you greeted anyone in the dark you might unawares bid Godspeed to a Shed (Sanhedrin 44 a). Nor was the danger of this inconsiderable, since one of the worst of these Shedim, especially hurtful to Rabbis, was like a dragon with seven heads, each of which dropped off with every successive lowly bending during Rabbi Acha's devotions (Kidd. 29 b). Specially dangerous times were the days of Wednesday and of the Sabbath. But it was a comfort to know that the Shedim could not create or produce anything; nor had they power over that which had been counted, measured, tied up and sealed (Chull. 105 b); they could be conquered by the 'Ineffable Name;' and they might be banished by the use of certain formulas, which, when written and worn, served as amulets.
The number of these spirits was like the earth that is thrown up around a bed that is sown. Indeed, no one would survive it, if he saw their number. A thousand at your right hand and ten thousand at your left, such crowding in the Academy or by the side of a bride; such weariness and faintness through their malignant touch, which rent the very dress of the wearers! (Berakhoth 6 a) The queen of the female spirits had no less a following than 180,000 (Pesachim 112 b). Little as we imagine it, these spirits lurk everywhere around us: in the crumbs on the floor, in the oil in the vessels, in the water which we would drink, in the diseases which attack us, in the even-numbered cups of our drinking, in the air in the room, by day and by night.
Male and Female Demons
Generally, they may be arranged into male and female spirits, the former under their king Ashmedai, the latter under their queen Lilith probably the same as Agrath bath Machlath - only that the latter may more fully present hurtful aspect of the demoness. The hurtful spirits are specially designated as Ruchin, Mazziqin (harmers), Malakhey Chabbalath (angels of damage), etc. From another aspect they are arranged into four classes (Targ. Pseudo-Jonah Numbers vi. 24): the Tsaphriré, or morning spirits (Targ. on Psalm 121:6; Targ. Canticles iv. 6); the Tiharé, or midday spirits (Targ. Pseudo-Jonah Deuteronomy 32:24; Targ. Canticles iv. 6); the Telané, or evening spirits (Targ. Canticles iii. 8; iv. 6; Targ. Ecclesiates 2:5); and the Lilin, or night spirits (Targ. Pseudo-Jonah on Deuteronomy 32:iding they executed dances before him.)
King of the Demons
Ashmedai (perhaps a Parsee name), Ashmodi, Ashmedon, or Shamdon, the king of the demons (Gitt. 68 a, b; Pesachim 110 a). It deserves notice, that this name does not occur in the Jerusalem Talmud nor in older Palestinian sources. (19) He is represented as of immense size and strength, as cunning, malignant, and dissolute. At times, however, he is known also to do works of kindness - such as lead the blind, or to show the road to a drunken man. Of course, he foreknows the future, can do magic, but may be rendered serviceable by the use of the 'Ineffable Name,' and especially by the signet of King Solomon, on which it was graven. The story of Solomon's power over him is well known and can here only be referred to in briefest outline. It is said, that as no iron was to be used in the construction of the Temple, Solomon was anxious to secure the services of the worm Shamir, which possessed the power of cutting stones (see about him Ab. z. 12 a; Sot. 48 b; Gitt. 68 a, b). By advice of the Sanhedrin, Solomon conjured up for this purpose a male and a female Shed, who directed him to Ashmedai.
The latter lived at the bottom of a deep cistern on a high mountain. Every morning on leaving it to go into heaven and hear the decrees of the Upper Sanhedrin, he covered the cistern with a stone, and sealed it. On this Benayah, armed with a chain, and Solomon's signet with the Ineffable Name, went and filled the cistern with wine, which Ashmedai, as all other spirits, hated. But as he could not otherwise quench his thirst, Ashmedai became drunk, when it was easy, by means of the magical signet, to secure the chain around him. Without entering on the story of his exploits, or how he indicated the custody of Shamir, and how ultimately the worm (which was in the custody of the moor-cock ) was secured, it appears that, by his cunning, Ashmedai finally got released, when he immediately hurled Solomon to a great distance, assumed his form, and reigned in his stead; till at last, after a series of adventures, Solomon recovered his signet, which Ashmedai had flung away, and a fish swallowed. Solomon was recognized by the Sanhedrin and Ashmedai fled at sight of the signet. [Possibly the whole of this is only a parabolic form for the story of Solomon's spiritual declension, and final repentance.]
Queen of the Demons
Lilith, the queen of female spirits - to be distinguished from the Lilin or night-spirits, and from Lela or Laila, an Angel who accompanied Abraham on his expedition against Chedorlaomer (Sanhedrin 96 a). Here we recognize still more distinctly the Parsee elements. Lilith is 'the queen of Zemargad' (Targ. on Job i. 15) - 'Zemargad' representing all green crystals, malachite, and emerald - and the land of Zemargad being 'Sheba.' Lilith is described as the mother of Hormiz or Hormuz (21) (Baba B. 73 a). Sometimes she is represented as a very fair woman, but mostly with long, wild-flowing hair, and winged (Nidd. 24 b; Erub. 100 b). In Pesachim 111 a we have a formula for exorcising Lilith. In Pes 112 b (towards the end) we are told how Agrath bath Machlath (probably the Zend word Agra - 'smiting, very wicked' - bath Machlath 'the dancer') threatened Rabbi Chanina with serious mischief, had it not been that his greatness had been proclaimed in heaven, on which the Rabbi would have shown his power by banning her from all inhabited places, but finally gave her liberty on the eve of the fourth day and of the Sabbath, which nights accordingly are the most dangerous seasons.
Character and habits of the Shedim. As many of the Angels, so many of the Shedim, are only personifications. Thus, as diseases were often ascribed to their agency, there were Shedim of certain diseases, as of asthma, croup, canine rabies, madness, stomachic diseases, etc. Again, there were local Shedim, as of Samaria, Tiberias, etc. On the other hand, Shedim might be employed in the magic cure of diseases (Shabbath 67 a). In fact, to conjure up and make use of demons was considered lawful although dangerous (Sanhedrin 101 a), while a little knowledge of the subject would enable a person to avoid any danger from them. Thus, although Chamath, the demon of oil, brings eruptions on the face, yet the danger is avoided if the oil is used out of the hollow of the hand, and not out of a vessel. Similarly, there are formulas by which the power of the demons can be counteracted. In these formulas, where they are not Biblical verses, the names of the demons are inserted.
In general, we may expect to find demons on water, oil, or anything else that has stood uncovered all night; on the hands before they have been washed for religious purposes, and on the water in which they have been washed; and on the breadcrumbs on the floor. Demons may imitate or perform all that the prophets or great men of old had wrought. The magicians of Egypt had imitated the miracles of Moses by demoniacal power (Shem. R. 9). So general at the time of our Lord was the belief in demons and in the power of employing them, that even Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews viii. 2. 5) contended that the power of conjuring up, and driving out demons, and of magical cures had been derived from King Hezekiah, to whom God had given it. Josephus declares himself to have been an eye-witness of such a wonderful cure by the repetition of a magical formula. This illustrates the contention of the Scribes that the miraculous cures of our Lord were due to demoniac agency.
Legions of demons lay in waiting for any error or falling on the part of man. Their power extended over all even numbers. Hence, care must be had not to drink an even number of cups (Berakhoth 51 b), except on the Passover night, when the demons have no power over Israel (Pesachim 109 b). On the other hand, there are demons who might almost be designated as familiar spirits, who taught the Rabbis, Shed Joseph (Pesachim 110 a) and the Shed Jonathan (Yeb. 122 a). Rabbi Papa had a young Shed to wait upon him (Chull. 105 b). There can, however, be no difficulty in making sure of their real existence. As Shedim have cock's feet, nothing more is required than to strew ashes by the side of one's bed, when in the morning their marks will be perceived (Berakhoth 6 a; Gitt. 68 b). It was by the shape of his feet that the Sanhedrin hoped to recognize, whether Ashmedai was really Solomon, or not, but it was found that he never appeared with his feet uncovered. The Talmud (Berakhoth 6 a) describes the following as an infallible means for actually seeing these spirits: Take the afterbirth of a black cat which is the daughter of a black cat - both mother and daughter being firstborn - burn it in the fire, and put some of the ashes in your eyes. Before using them, the ashes must be put into an iron tube, and sealed with an iron signet. It is added, that Rabbi Bibi successfully tried this experiment, but was hurt by the demons, on which he was restored to health by the prayers of the Rabbis.
Other and kindred questions, such as those of amulets, etc. , will be treated under demoniac possessions. But may we not here once more and confidently appeal to impartial students whether, in view of this sketch of Jewish Angelology and Satanology, the contention can be sustained that the teaching of Christ on this subject has been derived from Jewish sources?
Jewish views on Magic and Magicians
We must here bear in mind that the practice of magic was strictly prohibited to Israelites, and that - as a matter of principle at least - witchcraft, or magic, was supposed to have no power over Israel, if they owned and served their God (Chull. 7 b; Nedar. 32 a). But in this matter also - as will presently appear - theory and practice did not accord. Thus, under certain circumstances, the repetition of magical formulas was declared lawful even on the Sabbath (Sanhedrin 101 a). Egypt was regarded as the home of magic (Kidd. 49 b; Shabbath 75 a). In connection with this, it deserves notice that the Talmud ascribes the miracles of Jesus to magic, which He had learned during His stay in Eqypt having taken care, when He left, to insert under His skin its rules and formulas, since every traveller, on quitting the country, was searched, lest he should take to other lands the mysteries of magic (Shabbath 104 b).
Here it may be interesting to refer to some of the strange ideas which Rabbinism attached to the early Christians, as showing both the intercourse between the two parties, and that the Jews did not deny the gift of miracles in the Church, only ascribing its exercise to magic. Of the existence of such intercourse with Jewish Christians there is abundant evidence. Thus, R. Joshua, the son of Levi (at the end of the second century), was so hard pressed by their quotations from the Bible that, unable to answer, he pronounced a curse on them, which, however, did not come. We gather, that in the first century Christianity had widely spread among the Jews, and R. Ishmael, the son of Elisha, the grandson of that High-Priest who was executed by the Romans (Josephus, War. i. 2. 2), seems in vain to have contended against the advance of Christianity.
Talmudic writings distinguishing several classes of magicians. The Baal Obh, or conjuror of the dead, evoked a voice from under the armpit, or from other members of the dead body, the arms or other members being struck together, for the purpose of eliciting the sound. Necromancy might be practised in two different ways. The dead might be called up (by a method which scarcely bears description), in which case they would appear with the feet upwards. But this must not be practised on the Sabbath. Or again, a skull might, by magical means, be made to answer. This might be done on the Sabbath also (Sanhedrin 65 a and b). Or a demon might be conjured up by a certain kind of incense, and then employed in magic. A second class of magicians (called Yideoni) uttered oracles by putting a certain bone into their mouth. Thirdly, there was the Chabar, or serpent charmer, a distinction being made between a great and small Chabar, according as larger or smaller serpents were charmed. Fourthly, we have the Meonen, who could indicate what days or hours were lucky and unlucky. Fifthly, there was the 'searcher after the dead,' who remained fasting on graves in order to communicate with an unclean spirit; and, lastly, the Menachesh, who knew what omens were lucky and what unlucky (Sanhedrin 66 a). And if they were treated only as signs and not as omens, the practice was declared lawful (Chull. 95 b).
Magical cures were performed by amulets - either preventive, or curative or disease - or else by exorcism. An amulet was regarded as probate, if three cures had been performed by it. In such case it might be put on even on the Sabbath. It consisted either of a piece of parchment (the Pithqa, Sanhedrin 78 b), on which certain magical words were written, or of small bundles of certain plants or herbs (also designated as Qemia, an amulet, Shabbath 61 a; Kidd. 73 b). However, even probate amulets might fail, owing to the adverse constellation under which a person was. In any case the names and numbers of the demons, whose power it was wished to counteract, required to be expressly stated. Sometimes the amulet contained also a verse from the Bible. It need scarcely be said, that the other words written on the amulet had - at least, in their connection - little if any sensible meaning. But those learned in these arts and the Rabbis had the secret of discovering them, so that there was at least no mystery about them, and the formulas used were well known.