Records of a Fall Picture

"And the Sons of God saw that the daughters of Adam were beautiful, and they took any they wanted as wives..."

Even angels fall... in this case, into a power line? Poor bugger. Either he's flying while inebriated or- wait, it looks like he's hurt. Never mind. Still, you'd think he could crash a bit more gracefully...

I was planning on doing a modern-day retelling of one of my most beloved Jewish fairytales. (No, I'm not Jewish, and yes, Jews DO have fairytales! Look up the Book of Enoch. That's filled with sex and genocide and horny angels. Yay.) Anyways, here it is:

The Star Maiden

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"When the generation of the Flood went astray, God began to regret having created humans. Then two angels, Shemhazai and Azazel, reminded God that they had opposed the creation of humans, saying, What is man, that You have been mindful of him? (Ps. 8:5). God replied: "Those who dwell on earth are subject to the Evil Inclination. Even you would be overpowered by it." But the angels protested, saying: "Let us descend to the world of humans, and let us show You how we will sanctify Your name." And God said: "Go down and dwell among them."

So the two angels descended to earth, where they were certain they could resist the power of the Evil Inclination. But as soon as they saw how beautiful were the daughters of men, they forgot their vows and took lovers from among them, even though they were defiling their own pure essence. So too did they teach them secrets of how to entice men, as well as the dark arts of sorcery, incantations, and the divining of roots.

Then the two angels decided to select brides for themselves from among the daughters of men. Azazel desired Na'amah, the sister of Tubal-Cain, the most beautiful woman on earth. But there was another beautiful maiden, Istahar, the last of the virgins, whom Shemhazai desired, and she refused him. This made him want her all the more.

"I am an angel," he revealed to her, "you cannot refuse me."

"I will not give in to you," Istahar replied, "unless you teach me God's Ineffable Name."

"That I cannot do," Shemhazai replied, "for it is a secret of heaven."

"Why should I believe you?" said Istahar. "Perhaps you don't know it at all. Perhaps you are not really an angel."

"Of course I know it," said Shemhazai, and he revealed God's Name.

Now, as soon as she heard the holy Name, Istahar pronounced it and flew up into the heavens, escaping the angel. And when God saw this, He said: "Because she removed herself from sin, let Istahar be set among the stars." And Istahar was transformed into a star, one of the brightest in the sky. And when Shemhazai saw this, he recognized God's rebuke of his sin and repented, hanging himself upside down between heaven and earth. But Azazel refused to repent, and God hung him upside down in a canyon, bound in chains, where he remains to this day. That is why a scapegoat is sent to Azazel on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, bearing the sins of Israel.

Others say that when the two angels, Shemhazai and Azazel, came down to earth, they were still innocent. But they were corrupted by the demonesses Na'amah and Lilith. The children they bore were the giants of old, known as the Nefilim, or Fallen Ones. They bore six children at each birth, and in that very hour their offspring stood up, spoke the holy language, and danced before them like sheep. There were said to be sixty in all. These giants had such great appetites that God rained manna on them in many different flavors, so that they might not eat flesh. But the Fallen Ones rejected the manna, slaughtered animals, and even dined on human flesh.

Still others say that the offspring of the fallen angels were tall and handsome, and had greater strength than all the children of men. Because of the heavenly origin of their fathers, they are referred to as "the children of heaven."

***

Anyways, so this is basically the bastard child of the Judaic tribes mixing their mythology with the Sumerians in ye olde BC. It's a retelling of some Chaldean myth which featured the Sumerian goddess Ishtar, so the Jews took it, changed her name to Istahar and paired her up with Shemhazai, who's a variation of Samael, the Angel of Death. There is a huge parallel between this myth and the love story of Samael and Lilith, and the four figures are linked with each other in a plethora of ways. So I took some artistic liberties and made Shemhazai Samael, the reaper, hence the scythe he's holding and his Grim Reaper cloak.

The Jews of yore believed that the constellation Orion was Shemhazai hanging between heaven and earth and the Pleiades were Istahar. How romantic! You'll never look at the stars the same way, now will you?...
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