Bible Myths and their Parallels in other Religions Being a Comparison of the Old and New Testament Myths and Miracles with those of the Heathen Nations of Antiquity Considering also their Origin and Meaning

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A. D. 600.[385:9]

[Pg 386]

Beside what we have already seen, the ancient Pagans had many beliefs and ceremonies which are to be found among the Christians. One of these is the story of "The War in Heaven."

The New Testament version is as follows:

"There was a war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world, he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."[386:1]

The cause of the revolt, it is said, was that Satan, who was then an angel, desired to be as great as God. The writer of Isaiah, xiv. 13, 14, is supposed to refer to it when he says:

"Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation in the sides of the North; I will ascend before the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High."

The Catholic theory of the fall of the angels is as follows:

"In the beginning, before the creation of heaven and earth, God made the angels, free intelligences, and free wills, out of his love He made them, that they might be eternally happy. And that their happiness might be complete, he gave them the perfection of a created nature, that is, he gave them freedom. But happiness is only attained by the free will agreeing in its freedom to accord with the will of God. Some of the angels by an act of free will obeyed the will of God, and in such obedience found perfect happiness. Other angels, by an act of free will, rebelled against the will of God, and in such disobedience found misery."[386:2]

They were driven out of heaven, after having a combat with the obedient angels, and cast into hell. The writer of second Peter alludes to it in saying that God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down into hell.[386:3]

The writer of Jude also alludes to it in saying:

"The angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."[386:4]

According to the Talmudists, Satan, whose proper name is Sammael, was one of the Seraphim of heaven, with six wings.

"He was not driven out of heaven until after he had led Adam and Eve into sin; then Sammael and his host were precipitated out of the place of bliss, with God's curse to weigh them down. In the struggle between Michael and Sammael, the falling Seraph caught the wings of Michael, and tried to drag him down with him, but God saved him, when Michael derived his name,—the Rescued."[386:5]

[Pg 387]

Sammael was formerly chief among the angels of God, and now he is prince among devils. His name is derived from Simmē, which means, to blind and deceive. He stands on the left side of men. He goes by various names; such as "The Old Serpent," "The Unclean Spirit," "Satan," "Leviathan," and sometimes also "Asael."[387:1]

According to Hindoo mythology, there is a legion of evil spirits called Rakshasas, who are governed by a prince named Ravana. These Rakshasas are continually aiming to do injury to mankind, and are the same who fought desperate battles with Indra, and his Spirits of Light. They would have taken his paradise by storm, and subverted the whole order of the universe, if Brahmā had not sent Vishnou to circumvent their plans.

In the Aitareya-brahmana (Hindoo) written, according to Prof. Monier Williams, seven or eight centuries B. C., we have the following legend:

"The gods and demons were engaged in warfare.
The evil demons, like to mighty kings,
Made these worlds castles; then they formed the earth
Into an iron citadel, the air
Into a silver fortress, and the sky
Into a fort of gold. Whereat the gods
Said to each other, 'Frame me other worlds
In opposition to these fortresses.'
Then they constructed sacrificial places,
Where they performed a triple burnt oblation.
By the first sacrifice they drove the demons
Out of their earthly fortress, by the second
Out of the air, and by the third oblation
Out of the sky. Thus were the evil spirits
Chased by the gods in triumph from the worlds."[387:2]

The ancient Egyptians were familiar with the tale of the war in heaven; and the legend of the revolt against the god Rā, the Heavenly Father, and his destruction of the revolters, was discovered by M. Naville in one of the tombs at Biban-el-moluk.[387:3]

The same story is to be found among the ancient Persian legends, and is related as follows:

"Ahriman, the devil, was not created evil by the eternal one, but he became evil by revolting against his will. This revolt resulted in a 'war in heaven.' In this war the Iveds (good angels) fought against the Divs (rebellious ones) headed by Ahriman, and flung the conquered into Douzahk or hell."[387:4]

[Pg 388]

An extract from the Persian Zend-avesta reads as follows:

"Ahriman interrupted the order of the universe, raised an army against Ormuzd, and having maintained a fight against him during ninety days, was at length vanquished by Honover, the divine Word."[388:1]

The Assyrians had an account of a war in heaven, which was like that described in the book of Enoch and the Revelation.[388:2]

This legend was also to be found among the ancient Greeks, in the struggle of the Titans against Jupiter. Titan and all his rebellious host were cast out of heaven, and imprisoned in the dark abyss.[388:3]

Among the legends of the ancient Mexicans was found this same story of the war in heaven, and the downfall of the rebellious angels.[388:4]

"The natives of the Caroline Islands (in the North Pacific Ocean), related that one of the inferior gods, named Merogrog, was driven by the other gods out of heaven."[388:5]

We see, therefore, that this also was an almost universal legend.

The belief in a future life was almost universal among nations of antiquity. The Hindoos have believed from time immemorial that man has an invisible body within the material body; that is, a soul.

Among the ancient Egyptians the same belief was to be found. All the dead, both men and women, were spoken of as "Osiriana;" by which they intended to signify "gone to Osiris."

Their belief in One Supreme Being, and the immortality of the soul, must have been very ancient; for on a monument, which dates ages before Abraham is said to have lived, is found this epitaph: "May thy soul attain to the Creator of all mankind." Sculptures and paintings in these grand receptacles of the dead, as translated by Champollion, represent the deceased ushered into the world of spirits by funeral deities, who announce, "A soul arrived in Amenti."[388:6]

The Hindoo idea of a subtile invisible body within the material body, reappeared in the description of Greek poets. They represented the constitution of man as consisting of three principles: the soul, the invisible body, and the material body. The invisible body they called the ghost or shade, and considered it as the material portion of the soul. At death, the soul, clothed in this [Pg 389]subtile body, went to enjoy paradise for a season, or suffer in hell till its sins were expiated. This paradise was called the "Elysian Fields," and the hell was called Tartarus.

The paradise, some supposed to be a part of the lower world, some placed them in a middle zone in the air, some in the moon, and others in far-off isles in the ocean. There shone more glorious sun and stars than illuminated this world. The day was always serene, the air forever pure, and a soft, celestial light clothed all things in transfigured beauty. Majestic groves, verdant meadows, and blooming gardens varied the landscape. The river Eridanus flowed through winding banks fringed with laurel. On its borders lived heroes who had died for their country, priests who had led a pure life, artists who had embodied genuine beauty in their work, and poets who had never degraded their muse with subjects unworthy of Apollo. There each one renewed the pleasures in which he formerly delighted. Orpheus, in long white robes, made enrapturing music on his lyre, while others danced and sang. The husband rejoined his beloved wife; old friendships were renewed, the poet repeated his verses, and the charioteer managed his horses.