Entangled Religions 13.6 (2022) er.ceres.rub.de

On Neglected Hebrew Versions of Myths of the Two Fallen Angels

Moshe Idel The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

The present study presents and discusses two Hebrew versions of the myth of fallen angels previously unknown to modern scholarship. Their protagonists are Shemhaza’el and ‘Azza, and the mythical drama whose actors they are takes place at the beginning of the process of creation. Those versions are preserved in two late thirteenth-century books, one written in Northern France and the other in Catalunia. Those versions are quoted as ’Aggadah and, respectively, as Midrash; they do not depend on each other but reflect an earlier Rabbinic myth that developed in two different directions. The working hypothesis of this article assumes that these versions preserved material that entered the Ashkenazi (Germano-French) center of Jewish culture as part of a stream of traditions which also preserved other, known and unknown, versions of the myth of the fallen angels. The above results, together with other historical reconsiderations mentioned in this study, call into question and invite a profound revision of recent theories of “back borrowing” from Muslim and Christian sources of material concerning this myth among most Jewish authors.

Shlomo Simhah, Bahya ben Asher Halewah, fallen angels, Shemhaza’el, Ashkenazi cultural center, stream of traditions

The Myth of “Back-Borrowing” the Myth of the Fallen Angels


The two major turning-points in Jewish studies, the discovery of the Cairo-Geniza at the end of the nineteenth century and the unearthing of the manuscripts of the Dead Sea, supplied a great amount of new material that contributed to a different understanding of major issues in the complex history of Judaism and its various religious manifestations. One of the topics that was enriched dramatically was the nature and the details of treatises belonging to the intertestamental Jewish pseudepigraphic literature. This is especially true insofar the so-called Enochic literature is concerned, and also regarding the metamorphoses of the constellations of ideas found in this ancient literature. The myth of the fallen angels, in fact a constellation of various motifs, enjoyed a grandiose comeback, as the numerous studies about its ancient sources and some of its avatars in the Rabbinic literatures attest, but its occurrence in the sources in the Middle Ages was much less discussed.1 After the groundbreaking publication of the Aramaic fragments of Enoch from the Qumran, Cave 4 by J. T. Milik,2 much work has been done from the textual point of view of Milik’s publication3, though only few new significant texts have been introduced in the stream of scholarly debates.4 However, various theories have been circulated and elaborated at length, albeit neglecting the possible relevance of many of the extant medieval texts.5


Elsewhere, I dealt with some matters related to what was considered by scholars to be the earliest medieval Hebrew passage, found in R. Moshe ha-Darshan’s Bereshit Rabbati, to be referred below as ‘Midrash Shemhazai and ‘Azza’el.’6 It was described as having been influenced by Islam, according to John C. Reeves7, or by an hypothetical Greek text that was mediated by a Christian translation, as assumed by Annette Y. Reed,8 both cases being referred to as forms of “back-borrowing” (Reeves 2015; Reed 2005). I shall return to this tradition later in this study. The following discussions refer, let me stress, solely to the metamorphoses of this specific myth, and do not intend to discredit the possibility of other instances of back-borrowing that have been properly proven or will be proved in the future.9


The ancient name of the chief of the fallen angels, known previously only from the Greek and Ethiopian versions, has been discovered in an Aramaic fragment of 1 Enoch in Cave 4 in Qumran, spelled שמיחזה.10 For the sake of scholars dealing with the topic that may have a problem reading modern Hebrew, let me summarize the proposed solution offered in a study on the origin of this name: it is the result of some phonetic process concerning two Aramaic terms, namely Shemaya’, meaning ‘heavens,’ and Haza’, a verb meaning ‘he has seen.’ As such, the name of the angel means ‘the one that has seen or watched heaven,’ referring to the state of this angel before the rebellion and fall. This etymology of this name, as being related to heaven—not to the divine name, as several scholars claim—is supported by the juxtaposition to the name of the angel that is mentioned after its name, that is related to earth, [ארע]תקף. Grounded in two consonants that have no parallels in Greek phonetics, Sh and H, the Greek transcriptions in this language as either Σεμιαζά or Σεμιαζᾶς cannot substitute them, and thus cannot be the mediating source for medieval forms in Hebrew of the name ,שמחזאי which most plausibly reflects the reverberations of the ancient name by means of a Semitic language.11 The Greek letter sigma is hardly retroverted into the original Semitic ש, and the missing guttural letter ח in the ancient name cannot be inferred from the Greek forms, requiring therefore to posit a line of transmission grounded in Semitic languages—in my opinion, either in Aramaic or Hebrew. Thus, the case of the myth of the fallen angels being supposedly borrowed by some later Jewish authors from Christian or Muslim mediating texts, as formulated in recent scholarship, is nothing more than just a scholarly myth. The few pertinent stances for such a borrowing were not part of the formative developments in the emergence of literatures in medieval Ashkenaz and Spain but represented a much later and relatively marginal phenomenon.12

Shemhaza’el: Shlomo Simhah’s ’Aggadah and Bahya ben Asher’s Midrash


Let me address here another variant of the name of the chief rebellious angel, embedded in two different mythical accounts that remained, as far as I am aware, unaccounted by modern treatments of the myth of the fallen angels. Evidently, also in this case, the name of the fallen angel שמחזאל reflects a Semitic form. Let me turn first to a passage written by an Ashkenazi figure13, transcribe and translate it, then analyze it in a series of various contexts and well as its implication for the available scholarship in the field.


In 1294, a descendant of the famous commentator R. Shlomo Yitzhaqi, (Rashi), wrote an outstanding treatise called Sefer ha-Maskil in Troyes, Northern France. The book was described for the first time in Israel M. Ta’-Shma‘’s groundbreaking study14, and since then it has drawn the attention of other scholars.15 For the time being, this treatise is extant in a unique manuscript which in its vast majority has not been yet printed.16 Let me translated the pertinent passage for the sake of further discussions concerning the angelic name of Shemhaza’el:


At the time that the Holy One, blessed be He, created the angels, and he created Shemhaza’el and ‘Azza,’17 as it has been explicated in the ’Aggadah, that He created them big, from the end of the Abyss to the Seat of Glory, and they were proud of their stature,18 so that they said to the Holy One, blessed be He, ‘We shall help You in the building of the world. You shall build in the East and we shall build in the West, You shall blow the winds and we shall make the dews to descend.’ Then the Holy One Blessed be He became angry with them and said in His heart: ‘If I am erasing19 them from the world, the entities of the account of creation will say that thought that they are cooperator to the Creator, that just as there is an end to them, so, God forefend, there is an end to Him who spoke and created the world.’20 He decided to diminish their appearance,21 and He threw them in the abysses, so that people will know that the Holy One, blessed be He, is governing over every living entity, in His greatness. And since that day Shemhaza’el and ‘Azza’, who have seen the power of the Holy One, blessed be He, stood, and knew by means of what [type of] wisdom and how He operates, and taught people of the world many strategies, and the power of the [divine] names and witchcraft,22 in order to induce people of the world in sin, and draw them to them, in order to do evil.23


This myth is reminiscent of a variety of myths of cosmic rebellion found in the ancient Middle East,24 which had been domesticated in some related versions in Rabbinic literatures where two angels oppose the divine intention to create man.25 However, the above passage has some affinities also to Enochic motifs:


1. The names of the two angels in Sefer ha-Maskil are almost identical to the names Shemahazay and ‘Azza[z]’el in several versions of the myth of fallen angels.26 According to the final sentence, they are conceived to be evil, probably as inducing some form of illicit worship.


2. The revelation of secret knowledge by angels to humans, evident in this text, is similar to, or perhaps a reverberation of, the motif of revelation of secrets to women in 1 Enoch.27


3. The gigantic size of the two angels is reminiscent of those instances in which nefilim are described as huge beings. Nonetheless, the two angels ordinarily identified with those names are the fallen sons of God; it is only their descendants, the nefilim, who are depicted as gigantic.28


4. Last but not least: the casting of the two angels into the abyss is reminiscent of the throwing of Leviathan in 1 Enoch.29 Both cases refer to couples of gigantic entities.30


The presence of these four parallel motifs to Enochic material, in quite a short passage defined as ’Aggadah, as that translated above, can hardly be, in my opinion, a matter of sheer accident.


Let me turn to some details of the translated passage. Its gist is neither found in any of the Aggadic collections of late Antiquity or medieval compilations, nor it is referred to in other writings I am acquainted with. Nevertheless, there is no plausible reason to assume that the late thirteenth-century R. Shlomo Simhah forged it, since the contents of his treatise are far from mythical, and scholars who wrote about him considered his discussions as reliable. Thus, the reference to it as ’Aggadah seems to indicate the existence of an earlier Hebrew source, whatever its date may be, that was still extant in Northern France at that late date.


The concept of the angelic proposal for cooperation in the acts of creation is found in a classical Rabbinic source, the Midrash Genesis Rabba’, ch.1 par. 3:


All the people confirm that in the first day nothing was created less it may be said that Michael was stretching at the South of the firmament and Gabriel [was stretching] at its North, and the Holy One, blessed be He, measures at the middle…who was my partner in the creation of the world?31


I suggest regarding this as a polemic statement, intended to neutralize views similar to what is found in R. Shlomo Simha’s ’Aggadah. An ancient theomachian approach, already domesticated in it, is further tamed in the classical Midrash. However, the ancient names for the rebellious angels disappeared and the more routine names were used.


Let me compare the above angelocentric myth to a certain parallel found in some Rabbinic sources, without however mentioning angels. One of the versions of the Midrash Deuteronomy Rabba´ I,2, and also occurring in many other sources, includes the following passage, presented here as it was formulated in a famous late thirteenth-century Ashkenazi compilation of Midrashic texts, authored by R. Shime‘on ha-Darshan of Frankfurt:


R. Isaac said: at the time that Israel did that deed32, [God] intended to destroy their enemies.33 Moses said [to Him] this calf is good for assisting You. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him: ‘How can it help Me.’ Moses said to Him: ‘You make the rain to fall, and it makes the dews descend, You take out the winds, and it takes out the clouds.’ He said to Moses: ‘You too err regarding the calf.’34


This third version eliminated the angelic factor, substituting it for the calf, another type of potential idolatry. Thus, the same motif of angelic cooperation in creation has two versions, while the third one neutralized the angelic factor. It is hard to establish a historical or philological relationship between the three versions, though the ’Aggadah seems to be earlier because of its archaic tone and the rare names of the angels, which hardly fit the assumption that Ashkenazi figures invented them. In any case, in Rabbinic sources there is no single accepted interpretation of cooperation proposal, and I would suggest that the ’Aggadah preserves an ancient remnant of the two huge angels having names that are reminiscent of ancient mythologies.35 This means that Rabbinic attitudes should not be reduced to one single position, putatively embraced by all the Rabbis.


As to the names of these angels: though the name Shemhaza’el is very rare, it is nevertheless found in the Middle Ages in the context of discussions about the fallen angels. So, for example, R. Bahya ben Asher Hallewah writes in Spain during the very same decade when Sefer ha-Maskil has been composed:


I have seen in a Midrash: Sihon and ‘Og were the sons of Shemhaza’el36 who was one of the sons of God.37 And Shemhaza’el came to the wife of Ham before the entrance to the ark, and Sihon was born in the ark. And this is the reason why Ham had intercourse [with his wife in the ark]38 in order to cover [her adultery].39


It is evident that the portrayal of Shemhaza’el is reminiscent of that of the fallen angels who had intercourse with women. Another, somewhat longer, version is found in the commentary of Rashi on BT., Niddah, fol 61a, and in the work of a younger Ashkenazi contemporary of the two authors mentioned above, R. Jacob ben Asher, active in fourteenth-century Toledo, who wrote in his Commentary on the Pentateuch: “Sihon and ‘Og, as it is written in Niddah, Sihon and ‘Og were the sons of Shemhazay and ‘Azza’el and fell from heaven in the generation of the Flood.”40


Despite the explicit reference to the Talmudic tract of Niddah, in the extant versions it is written only that “‘Og and Sihon were the sons of Ahyah41, the son of Shemhazay.”42 ‘Azza’el is not mentioned in the common version. Thus, we have another type of evidence as to the existence of a diverging version of the Talmudic passage in the early fourteenth century, somehow different from what is found in the printed editions, and closer from a certain point of view to medieval versions of the myths of the two fallen angels. It is difficult to know whether a Talmudic statement was shortened or elaborated in the Middle Ages.


The topics in Bahya’s Midrash and in Shlomo Simhah’s ’Aggadah conspicuously reflect two totally independent discussions which do not stem from the same source and also do not depend on the “Midrash” that was mentioned above, which was deemed by scholars to be the earliest medieval version of the myth of the fallen angels. The two passages reveal the existence of at least two independent earlier Hebrew sources that were ignored in the scholarly attempts to trace the influences of Enochic motifs related to the form Shemhaza’el instead of Shemayahazeh or Shemhazay. Nevertheless, they strengthen the existence of this name in various contexts related to fallen angels.


What is the meaning of the name Shemhaza’el in the ’Aggadah-passage translated above? While the ancient form SHMYHZH found in the Qumran fragments should be understood as referring to the angel that has seen heaven before its fall, in this case I assume that Shemhaza’el refers to someone who has seen God. This is not just a matter of explaining the form haza-’el, but also its immediate context of the names of the two angels: “Who have seen the power of the Holy One, blessed be He.”43 Moreover, it seems plausible that the name of the other angel, ‘Azza’, may refer to the power of God, since ‘Azza’ could also indicate power. The form ’el means power. Since these angels are deemed to have seen the power of God, they are also imagined to be able to initiate others in powerful though illicit operations.


From the formulation at the end of the version of Shlomo Simhah, it seems that the disclosure of secrets implies some form of idolatry, which contradicts the divine governance over all living beings. Let me point out that I am acquainted with some additional occurrences of the name Shemhaza’el in Hebrew medieval sources, in print and manuscripts, both in Spanish and Ashkenazi sources, but I do not consider them to be embedded within significantly diverging versions of the myth; I have dealt with these occurrences in detail elsewhere.44


Let me turn to the way the gigantic size of the two angels has been phrased: The angels are said to stretch from the lowest to the highest points in the world. As such they constitute some form of axis mundi, a perception that is attributed also to the two beasts.45 The watery abysses became the place were powers of evil have been imagined to dwell.

Why Ashkenaz?


The main text, the ’Aggadah in R. Shlomo Simhah’s treatise that constituted the center of our discussions above, is found in a treatise of an Ashkenazi author and in this treatise alone. Few smaller fragments cited earlier in that context also stem from Ashkenazi sources. Is this situation a matter of accident? Should we understand the preservation of such a text as a pure idiosyncratic curiosity of a non-representative figure? In fact, the “Midrash” mentioned above, representing one of the longest versions of the fallen angel, which attracted much of the attention of scholars dealing with this myth, was preserved in two Ashkenazi treatises, in Yalqut Shime‘oni and in R. Eleazar ben Asher ha-Levi’s Sefer ha-Zikhronot—to be addressed more closely below—thus statistically more than in any other center of Jewish culture in the thirteenth century. Moreover, an even longer and, in my opinion, very important version of the myth, so far unmentioned by current scholarship, has been preserved in a unique manuscript attributed to a certain R. Barukh Kohen Ashkenazi.46 It was found, also anonymously, in print, together with some other, minor traditions concerning the fallen angels preserved in Ashkenazi’s writings, especially those stemming from the circle of R. Yehudah he-Hasid.47 Motifs related to the myth of the two fallen angels, preserved in the magical treatise Havdalah de-R. ‘Aqivah, though indubitably an earlier, mainly Aramaic text, are extant in many Ashkenazi manuscripts and are mentioned by Ashkenazi authors incomparably more than in any other Jewish center.48


However, this situation is consonant with the specific nature of Ashkenazi culture in the thirteenth century, indicating a pronounced interest in angelology, which stems either from earlier magical literature or from the Heikhalot literature, preserved mainly because of the special interest of Ashkenazi authors and copyists.49 It is in this religious milieu that some lost midrashim are known more than elsewhere, some for the first time.50 Concerns about revelations, which are sometimes connected to angels and attributed to figures depicted as prophets, or to persons who were granted an ascent on high, are prominent in Ashkenaz—Germany and Northern France—much more than in any center in this period.51 It is in some Ashkenazi commentaries on the Pentateuch and in exegetical treatments that a certain path of interpreting the Bible according to the names of angels becomes prominent.52 A variety of magical treatments also flowered in this center—related to names of angels, in some cases—and there are many commentaries on divine and angelic names in which magic played an obvious role.53 In some cases, magical recipes are copied at the end of some Ashkenazi prayer books.54


There are two main reasons for the embrace of this magical universe by many Ashkenazi figures. One is their being the recipients of literatures stemming from the Middle East, mediated by Italian territories and their preservation, across centuries, of a positive attitude toward it.55 The other one is the poor acquaintance with scientific and philosophical writings among the Ashkenazi authors in the thirteenth century.56 This conservative and, at times, inertial attitude was more consonant with the preservation of earlier traditions in comparison to the more scientific and philosophical attitudes prevalent among Jewish elites in the provinces in Provence, Catalonia, and Castile, which represented axial elements that increasingly prevailed over the pre-axial ones starting in the late eleventh century. In the last third of the thirteenth century, however, the Ashkenazi impact can be discerned also in some Jewish writings in both Catalonia and Castile.57 It is also precisely in this wider cultural context that some elements of the constellation of myths of the fallen angels made their way into Ashkenazi circles. In the vast Zoharic literature, numerous discussions of the myth of the fallen angels played a rather significant role, such as the so-called Book of Enoch.58 Let me call attention to a critical divergence between many of the Jewish sources and the Christian ones, which follow more than apocryphal descriptions: the former speak mainly about two angels while the latter speak about many fallen angels.

A Stream of Traditions


While the more general Ashkenazi background accounts for the concern with the myths of the fallen angels, which could also explain its reception in Ashkenaz, it does not elucidate its emergence in these circles. In order to explain its surfacing in this specific center of Jewish culture, we should be aware of an even broader context, which I propose to designate as the “great transition” of a massive amount of Jewish materials from the Middle East to Europe at the turn of the first millennium CE.59 This transition includes the transfer of most of the Halakhic corpus—namely the Mishnah, the two Talmudim, and Midrashim—of liturgical poetry, various customs, magical material, and Heikhalot literature, a gradual process that contributed to the establishment of Jewish culture in Europe and also served as the main trigger for further waves of creativity by Jewish authors on this continent. My assumption is that the various Ashkenazi reports about the fallen angels stem from material transferred as part of this great transition, and may be part of the process of textualization in this region.60


The interest in the myth of the fallen angels is evident before the turn of the first millennium, in a variety of reports that have not been in consideration so far taken by scholars. The most important one is the testimony of an anonymous tenth-century Karaite author about the existence, among the “Rabbanites” of Jerusalem, of a book entitled “The Book of ‘Uzza’ and ‘Azzi’el, when They Descended from Heavens,”61 mentioned among the titles of other books on magic.62 This testimony has been cited by a series of scholars in the past without any reservation as to its content or reliability, but curiously it has not been referred to in some of the more recent scholarship operating with the hypothesis of “back-borrowing.”63 The existence of such a book, judging from its title most probably written in Aramaic, in Rabbinic circles is quite significant for the point I would like to make here, given the plausible hypothesis that it was written well before the tenth century. In fact, in a series of magical texts brought together in Yakir Paz’s study, some elements of the fallen angels myth are evident.64 This is the case also regarding the fascinating magical text Havdalah de-R. ‘Aqivah, edited by Scholem, who proposes to see its origin in Babylonia, at the end of the Gaonate period, namely no later than the eleventh century.65 Moreover, a short passage mentioning fallen angels is found in the so-called Damascus Document, an important treatise belonging to the Qumran sect66 which has been preserved not only in the Qumran caves but also in two manuscripts found in the Cairo Genizah, copied by a twelfth or thirteenth-century Rabbinic copyist, thus generating an example, perhaps rare, of a continuous presence, in a literary shape, from the Qumran sects to medieval Jews living in a Rabbinic community.67


My last example has to do with the most widespread and influential text that attracted most attention from many scholars dealing with medieval reverberations of the myth of the fallen angels, referred to as Midrash Shemhazai and Azza’el. This text, previously privileged as an example of “back-borrowing,” has been preserved in four significantly different versions; I will list them next according to the dating of the compilations where they were preserved. The first one, [a], dated by scholars probably to tenth-century Northern Persia, appeared in an anonymous compilation entitled Pitron Torah68; the second one, [b], is found in R. Moshe ha-Darshan of Narbonne’s eleventh century Bereshit Rabbati, written in Provence69; the third one, [c], is included in R. Shime‘on ha-Darshan of Frankfurt’s late thirteenth century Yalqut Shime‘oni70; and [d], the last one, occurs in the early fourteenth-century R. Eleazar ben Asher ha-Levi’s Sefer ha-Zikhronot, or under its other title, Chronicle of Yerachmiel, composed in Germany.71 A detailed examination of these printed versions, done especially by taking into consideration the earliest one and two manuscripts unknown to Milik in his meticulous edition of the passage and its English translation,72 elicits several observations; I will present in the following only those of them that are pertinent for my point:

  1. 34

    [a] preserves a different version than the European ones; it uses the names ‘Azza’, alternatively ‘Azzah, elsewhere in the same text, and ‘Azza’el, instead of Shemhazai; this is the main reason for eliminating the hypothesis that the three later versions derived from this one.

  2. 35

    [a] contains a mistake, dubbah, probably reflecting the constellation Ursa Major instead of a better version of ribbah, a maiden, occurring in the other versions.

  3. 36

    [b] contains some accretions not found in [a], [c] and [d], thus precluding the possibility that it influenced [c] and [d].

  4. 37

    The version in [b] is deficient at its beginning in comparison to the three other versions, again precluding it being the source of [c] and [d], which resemble [a] much more closely.


We may therefore assume that a longer and better version which predates [a] was the origin of all the extant versions, stemming perhaps from Persia, as Józef T. Milik already suggested, provided we accept Ishtahar as the name of the maiden heroine in an early phase.73 However, according to a long rendition of another version of this myth, as preserved by R. Barukh Cohen Ashkenazi, her name was ’Emzera‘, a name for the wife of Noah that occurs in the pseudepigrapha and only rarely afterwards.74 This is the reason why I assume that there was a longer and earlier version in existence, probably stemming from late Antiquity, which was later edited in Persia and thus occurs in Pitron Torah.75


The variety of names attributed to the couples of names referring to the two fallen angels in Jewish literatures, especially in Ashkenaz—שמחזאל and עזא, שמחזאי and עזאל, שמחזי and עזזאל, עוזא and ,עזאל חזא and חזאל, שמחזאל and ,עוזיאל to give only some examples—preclude the possibility of positing one single source, leading us to the assumption of a stream of traditions which vary in matters of names, details, but also regarding any additional material, which could be quite significant.76 In my opinion, the unilineal depiction of the emergence of medieval treatments of the fallen angels in Judaism, based on back-borrowing, is problematic; in its stead, I suggest turning to a multilinear theory, which allows for the existence of different traditions stemming from late Antiquity. This also needs a new way of reading some of the material available in the first millennium CE, like Bereshit Rabba, for example, which has been interpreted differently.77 Such a new reading—I suggested in my monograph—enables us to posit the existence of different, perhaps oral, traditions that circulated for centuries in Jewish circles and which preserved much earlier material that surfaced later on in a written form, especially in medieval areas of Ashkenazi culture or, later on, among the Jews of Kurdistan.78


The underlying assumption of a monolithic Rabbinic culture that consistently avoided the myth of the fallen angels hardly reflects a cultural reality, since the elite culture was divided between the two main centers of Rabbinic culture, in Babylonia and in Palestine, and both elites hardly had significant control of the contents of Jewish folklore.79 Moreover, flexibility in the treatments of important issues is evident even in the Rabbinic elite literature, as one learns also from Ishay Rosen-Zvi’s forthcoming study dealing with a cognate topic.80 In fact, the Ashkenazi authors mentioned above, as well as R. Bahya ben Asher, are part of elite groups, and their texts do not appear to engage with the mythical aspects of the themes discussed above. The ’Aggadah, as preserved in R. Shlomo Simhah’s Sefer ha-Maskil, as well as the short Midrash quoted by R. Bahya, about Shemhaza’el, are just examples of surprises awaiting, dormant in manuscripts and in print, for a better understanding of a bigger picture of the metamorphoses of the ancient stream of traditions about the fallen angels that reverberated in some medieval writings.

Some Concluding Remarks


With the passing of time, more frequent discussions on the myth of the fallen angels appeared in Jewish medieval and pre-modern literatures, far beyond the Ashkenazi regions in Spain and elsewhere, becoming more complex and interacting with other modes of thought, mainly of Greek and Hellenistic extraction, en vogue in some elite circles, either Muslim, Christian or Jewish, during the Middle Ages.81 Few negative reactions to the growing treatments of this myth are found in Jewish traditional sources up to the eighteenth-century Enlightenment.82 The adverse attitude toward the Enlightenment is still visible in the scholarly treatments of the topic by the most eminent figure in the field of Midrash, Louis Ginzberg,83 or by Bernard Bamberger.84 Those and other ‘sober’ understandings of Rabbinism as a whole85 created the space for the assumption of external formative factors that influenced medieval discussions which had a more mythical countenance as the result of influences stemming from non-Jewish texts. Gershom Scholem’s thesis about the formative impact of Gnosticism on early Kabbalah is the best known example on this topic.86 After the collapse of this theory, room was made for another one. More recently, perhaps independently, Arthur I. Green and Peter Schäfer proposed to find in the rise of the cult of the Virgin Mary in Western Europe the source of the allegedly new feminine understanding of the crucial Rabbinic term Shekhinah in Kabbalah.87 Just as for the connections between Gnosticism and early Kabbalah, however, so far no solid evidence has been provided, and most of the discussion is circumstantial and overlooks earlier pertinent material.88


This is also the case underlying the “back-borrowing” of the ancient Jewish themes by Jewish medieval authors from hypothetical passages in a Greek-Christian source that allegedly mediated them.89 All these cases rely on variations of the same underlying assumption, according to which there existed a rather monolithic Rabbinic religion, impoverished from a spiritual point of view and flourishing only when it was watered by external sources.90 This could be the reason why some Jewish primary materials extant in Hebrew have been neglected, and thus also their possible impact or contribution to those medieval developments.91 This is also the case regarding some of the scholarly treatments of those topics, especially when written in Hebrew, which are sometimes systematically ignored since these types of sources are uncomfortable to general theories and assumptions; as a result, methodological divagations play a much more important role than careful analyses of texts.92 In this contribution, unlike my treatments in The Fall of the Angels,93 I avoided the more methodological elaborations, referring to unacknowledged discussions found in primary sources and quoting them in the original when necessary.


Let me point out, however, that inquiries of texts that testify to the existence of earlier traditions in a certain group do not necessarily prevent fruitful interactions in new circumstances, with a series of new ideas, which significantly broadened the intellectual scope of the earlier Jewish traditions.94 This is also the case for the myth of the fallen angels.95 The recurring insistence on the importance of one type of sources that influenced Jewish mysticism is too reductive an approach and does not serve just scholarly purposes.


In general, many of the Christian ancient and medieval sources, concerned as they were with the fall of one major angel, Lucifer/Satan, and with the role that it may play in the religious life in the present as the tempting Devil, were much less concerned with the minor fallen angels.96 Although the concern with the fallen angels is greater in early Christian sources than in contemporary Jewish sources, especially under the impact of some discussions in the New Testament, as many scholarly surveys show, it however declined in the Middle Ages,97 while in most of the forms of Judaism it seems that the situation differs: The peak of discussions of this issue in Jewish sources is to be situated in the thirteenth century, while the concern with the crucial role played by the Devil in religious life remains rather marginal in most of the cases.98 Those are two substantially different types of imaginaire, which parted ways and informed much of the respective attitudes to religious life.99


As a coda to the present analysis, let me point out that in many medieval Jewish discussions of the earlier sources, and especially in Zoharic literature, one of the two fallen angels, namely, the worse of them, is imagined as being bound in a remote underground place to which only persons who wish to be initiated in matters of witchcraft must travel.100 This stark divergence between a free-floating and tempting devil, on the one hand, and a fixed one, imagined as bound in a specific location in the remote mountains of darkness, on the other hand, is formative for some aspects of the spiritual configurations of the two religions, especially in matters of asceticism, who parted ways on this important issue quite significantly, no less than regarding equally significant divergences in matters of theology.


Abrams, Daniel. 1996. “Special Angelic Figures: The Career of the Beasts of the Throne-World in Hekhalot Literature, German Pietism and Early Kabbalistic Literature.” Revue des Études Juives 155: 363–86.

———. 1997. Sexual Symbolism and Merkavah Speculation in Medieval Germany: A Study of the Sod Ha-Egoz Texts. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck.

———. 1998. “Ma‘aseh Merkavah as a Literary Work: The Reception of Hekhalot Traditions.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 5: 329–45.

Albeck, Ch. 1940. Midrash Bereshit Rabbati. Jerusalem: Mekize Nirdamim.

Altmann, A. 1945. “The Gnostic Background of the Rabbinic Adam Legends.” Jewish Quarterly Review 35 (4): 371–91.

Annus, Amar. 2012. “The Antediluvian Origin of Evil in the Mesopotamian and Jewish Traditions, A Comparative Study.” In Ideas of Man in the Conceptions of the Religions, edited by T. Kulmar and R. Schmitt, 1–43. Münster: Ugarit.

Bamberger, Bernard Jacob. (1952) 2006. Fallen Angels: The Soldiers of Satan’s Realm. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America.

Bohak, Gideon. 2012. “From Qumran to Cairo: The Lives and Times of a Jewish Exorcistic Formula (with an Appendix by Shaul Shaked).” In Ritual Healing: Magic, Ritual and Medical Therapy from Antiquity Until the Early Modern Period, edited by I. Csepregi I and Ch. Burnett, 38–40. Florence: SISMEL.

Caquot, Andrè. 1975. “Léviathan et Behémoth dans la troisième ‘parabole’ d’Hénoch.” Semitica 25: 111–22.

Chavel, Ch. D., ed. 1966. R. Bahya ben Asher, Commentary on the Pentateuch. Jerusalem: Mossad ha-Rav Kook.

———, ed. 1968. R. Bahya ben Asher, Commentary on the Pentateuch. Jerusalem: Mossad ha-Rav Kook.

Crone, Patricia. 2013. The Book of Watchers in the Qur’an. Edited by H. Ben-Shamai, Sh. Shaked, and S. Stroumsa. Jerusalem: The Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities.

Dan, Joseph. 1968. The Esoteric Theology of Ashkenazi Hasidism [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: The Bialik Institute.

———. 1975. Studies in Ashkenazi-Hasidic Literature [Hebrew]. Ramat Gan: Massada.

———. 1999. The “Unique Cherub” Circle: A School of Jewish Mystics and Esoterics in Medieval Germany. Tubingen: Mohr.

———. 2011. History of Jewish Mysticism and Esotericism [Hebrew]. Vol. 6. Jerusalem: The Zalman Shazar Center.

Delumeau, Jean. 1990. Sin and Fear: The Emergence of the Western Guilt Culture, 13th-18th Centuries. New York: Palgrave McMillan.

Dimant, Devorah. 1974. “The Fallen Angels in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic Books Related to Them [Hebrew].” Ph. D. diss, Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Eshel, Esther, and Hanan Eshel. 2004. “A New Fragment of the ‘Book of Watchers’ from Qumran (XQpapEnoch) [Hebrew].” Tarbiẕ 73: 171–79.

Farber-Ginat, Assi. 1994. “Inquiries in Shi’ur Qomah [Hebrew].” In Massu’ot: Studies in Kabbalistic Literature and Jewish Philosophy in Memory of Prof. Ephraim Gottlieb, edited by Michal Oron and Amos Goldreich, 361–94. Jerusalem: Bialik Institute.

Fishman, Talya. 2004. “Rhineland Pietist Approaches to Prayer and the Textualization of Rabbinic Culture in Medieval Northern Europe.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 11 (4): 313–31.

Freudenthal, Gad. 1994. “‘The Air Blessed Be He and Blessed Be His Name’ in Sefer Ha-Maskil by R. Shlomo Simha of Troyes: Some Characteristics of a Stoically-Inspired Midrashic-Scientific Cosmology of the Thirteenth Century I [Hebrew].” Daat 32–33: 187–234.

———. 1995. “‘The Air Blessed Be He and Blessed Be His Name’ in Sefer Ha-Maskil by R. Shlomo Simha of Troyes: Some Characteristics of a Stoically-Inspired Midrashic-Scientific Cosmology of the Thirteenth Century II [Hebrew].” Daat 34: 87–129.

———. 2006. “Une rencontre qui n’a pas eu lieu: Le monde juif ashkénaze au XIIᵉ siècle et les sciences.” In Héritages de Rachi, edited by René-Samuel Sirat, 227–40. Paris: Éditions de l’éclat.

Frishman, Asher. 2008. The Early Ashkenazi Jews [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Ha-Kibutz ha-Meuhad.

Gaster, Moses. 1998. Memorii, Corespondenţă. Edited by V. Eskenasy. Bucharest: HaSefer Publishing House.

Geula, Amos. 2006. “Lost Aggadic Works Known Only from Ashkenaz: Midrash Abkir, Midrash Esfa and Devarim Zuta’ [Hebrew].” Ph.D. diss., Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Ginzberg, Louis. 1922. “Some Observations on the Attitude of the Synagogue Towards the Apocalyptic-Eschatological Writings.” Journal of Biblical Literature 41: 115–36.

———. 1968. The Legends of the Jews. Philadelphia: JPS.

Goff, Matthew. 2009. “Gilgamesh the Giant: The Qumran Book of Giants’ Appropriation of Gilgamesh Motifs.” Dead Sea Discoveries 16: 21–53.

Goff, M., L. T. Stuckenbruck, and E. Morano, eds. 2016. Ancient Tales of Giants from Qumran and Turfan: Contexts, Traditions, and Influences. Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck.

Goldreich, A. 1982. “R. Isaac ben Shmuel of Acre’s Sefer Me’irat ‘Einayyim.” Ph.D. Diss., Jerusalem: The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Green, Arthur. 2002. “Shekhinah, the Virgin Mary, and the Song of Songs: Reflections on a Kabbalistic Symbol in Its Historical Context.” AJS Review 26: 1–52.

Grossmann, Ayraham. 1981. The Early Sages of Ashkenaz [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press.

———. 1995. The Early Sages of France [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: The Magnes Press.

Gruber, Mayer I. 1992. The Motherhood of God and Other Studies. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.

Harkins, A. K., H. Coblentz, and J. C. Enders, eds. 2014. The Fallen Angels Traditions: Second Temple Developments and Reception History. J.C. eds. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 53. Washington, D.C: The.

Heller, Bernard. 1910. “La chute des anges Schemchazai, Ouazza et Azaël.” Revue des Études Juives 49: 202–12.

Henning, Walter B. 1943. “The Book of the Giants.” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies XI: 52–74.

Hermann, Klaus. 1988. “Die Gottesnamen KWZW und MZPZ in der Hekhalot-Literatur.” Frankfurter Judaistische Beiträge 16: 75–87.

Herschler, M., and Y. A. Herschler. 1992. R. Eleazar of Worms’ Perushei Siddur Ha-Tefillah la-Rokeah. Edited by M. Herschler and Y. A. Herschler. Vol. I. Jerusalem: Makhon ha-Rav Herschler.

Himmelfarb, Martha. 1984. “R. Moses the Preacher and the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs.” AJSReview 9: 55–79.

———. 1994. “Some Echoes of Jubileess in Medieval Hebrew Literature.” In Tracing the Threads, Studies in the Vitality of Jewish Pseudepigrapha, edited by J. C. Reeves. Atlanta: Scholars Press.

Idel, Moshe. 1980. “The Evil Thought of the Deity [Hebrew].” Tarbiz 49: 356–64.

———. 1982. “The Journey to Paradise: The Metamorphosis of a Motif from a Greek Myth into Judaism [Hebrew].” Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Folklore 2: 7–17.

———. 1986. “The Origin of Alchemy According to Zosimos and a Hebrew Parallel.” Revue Des ètudes Juives 145: 117–24.

———. 1988. Kabbalah: New Perspectives. New Haven: CT. Yale University Press.

———. 1990. Golem: Jewish Magical and Mystical Traditions on the Artificial Anthropoid. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

———. 1991. “Rabbinism Versus Kabbalism: On G. Scholem’s Phenomenology of Judaism.” Modern Judaism 11 (3): 281–96.

———. 2003. “On Some Forms of Order in Kabbalah.” Daat 50–2: xxxi–lviii.

———. 2004a. “Hermeticism and Kabbalah.” In Hermeticism from Late Antiquity to Humanism, edited by P. Lucentini, I. Parri, and V. P. Compagni, 389–408. Brepols: Turnhout.

———. 2004b. “‘Italy in Safed, Safed in Italy’: Toward an Interactive History of Sixteenth-Century Kabbalah.” In Cultural Intermediaries. Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy, edited by D. Ruderman and G. Veltri, 239–69. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

———. 2004c. “Leviathan and Its Consort: From Talmudic to Kabbalistic Myth [Hebrew].” In Myths in Judaism: History, Thought, Literature, edited by I. Gruenwald and M. Idel, 145–87. Jerusalem: Merkaz Shazar.

———. 2005. “On European Cultural Renaissances and Jewish Mysticism.” Kabbalah 13: 43–78.

———. 2006. “The Anonymous Commentary on the Alphabet of Metatron: An Additional Treatise of R. Nehemiah Ben Shlomo the Prophet [Hebrew].” Tarbiz 76: 1–10.

———. 2007a. “Ashkenazi Esotericism and Kabbalah in Barcelona.” Hispania Judaica Bulletin 5: 84–112.

———. 2007b. Ben: Sonship and Jewish Mysticism. London / New York: Continuum.

———. 2008a. “Incantations, Lists, and ‘Gates of Sermons’ in the Circle of R. Nehemiah ben Shlomo the Prophet – and Their Influence [Hebrew].” Tarbiz 77: 475–554.

———. 2008b. The Angelic World: Apotheosis and Theophany [Hebrew]. Tel Aviv: Yediot Aharonot.

———. 2009a. “On Angels in Biblical Exegesis in Thirteenth-Century Ashkenaz.” In Scriptural Exegesis: Shapes of Culture and Religious Imagination: Essays in Honour of Michael Fishbane, edited by Deborah A. Green and Laura S. Lieber, 211–44. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

———. 2009b. “On Jerusalem as a Feminine and Sexual Hypostasis: From Late Antiquity Sources to Medieval Kabbalah.” In Memory, Humanity, and Meaning: Selected Essays in Honor of Andrei Pleşu’s Sixtieth Anniversary, edited by M. Neamtu and B. Tátaru-Cazaban, 65–75. Cluj: Zeta Press.

———. 2011a. Kabbalah in Italy, 1280-1510: A Survey. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

———. 2011b. Saturn’s Jews: On the Witches’s Sabbat and Sabbateanism. New York / London: Continuum.

———. 2013. “Holding an Orb in His Hand: The Angel Anafiel and a Late Antiquity Helios Mosaic.” Ars Judaica 9: 19–44.

———. 2016a. “Harut and Marut: Jewish Sources for the Interpretation of the Two Angels in Islam.” In L’Ésotericisme Shi‘ite et ses prolongements, edited by M. A. Amir-Moezzi, 127–34. Brepols: Turnhout.

———. 2016b. “SHMYHZH: Shamhazay/Shamhaza’y/Shmayya’a+Haze’/Shmayyahaze’ /[ “ שמיחזא ‘שמיחזה: שמחזי /’שמחזאי / שמיא + חזא / ].” Lĕšonénu: A Journal for the Study of the Hebrew Language and Cognate Subjects [Hebrew] 78: 37–42.

———. 2016c. “The Liturgical Turn: From the Kabbalistic Traditions of Spain to the Kabbalistic Traditions of Safed, to the Beginning of Hasidism.” In Jewish Prayer: New Perspectives, edited by U. Erlich, 9–12. Beer Sheva: Ben Gurion University Press.

———. 2017. “Hekhalot Literature, the Mystical-Ecstatic Model and Their Reverberations [Hebrew].” Maddaʿei ha-Yahadut 52: 172–80.

———. 2018. “R. Nehemiah ben Shlomo the Prophet’s Commentary on Eleazar ha-Qalir’s Hymn ‘And the Beasts who are Found at the Four Corners of the Throne [Hebrew].” Kabbalah 41: 65–79.

———. 2019. “R. Nehemia Ben Shlomo the Prophet’s Commentary on the Seventy Names of God and the Threefold Narrative [Hebrew].” In Meir Benayahu Memorial Volume, edited by M. Bar Asher et al. and alia, 751–97. Jerusalem: Carmel.

———. 2020a. “‘Limbs of the Shekhinah’: On the Ascent of the Divine Feminine in Kabbalah and Her Decline in Modern Scholarship.” In The Female Side of God: Art and Ritual, edited by E. Atlan et al., 77–110. Bielefeld: Kerber Verlag.

———. 2020b. Primeval Evil in Kabbalah: Totality, Perfection, Perfectibility. New York: KTAV.

———. 2022. “An Unknown Version of the Myth of Angels That Sinned [Hebrew].” Reshit 5.

———. 2023. The Fall of the Angels: Metamorphoses of an Ancient Myth in Jewish Thought (in Preparation) [Hebrew].

Juusola, Hannu. 2004. “Notes on the Aramaic Sections of Havdala de-Rabbi Aqiba.” In Verbum et Calamus: Semitic and Related Studies in Honor of the Sixtieth Birthday of Professor Tapani Harviainen, edited by H. Juusola, J. Laulainen, and H. Palva, 106–19. Studia Orientalia 99. Helsinki: Finnish Oriental Society.

Kanarfogel, Ephraim. 1993. “Rabbinic Figures in Castilian Kabbalistic Pseudepigraphy: R. Yehudah He-Hasid and R. Elhanan of Corbeil.” JJTP 3 (1): 77–109.

———. 2000. “Peering Through the Lattices”: Mystical, Magical, and Pietistic Dimensions in the Tosafist Period. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press.

———. 2008. “Esotericism and Magic in Ashkenazi Prayer during the Tosafist Period [Hebrew].” In Studies on the History of the Jews of Ashkenaz, Presented to Eric Zimmer, edited by G. Bacon, D. Sperber, and A. Gaimani, 202–16. Ramat Gan: Bar Ilan Universiy Press.

———. 2011. “Did the Tosafists Embrace the Concept of Anthropomorphism.” In Ta Shma, Studies in Judaica in Memory of Israel M. Ta-Shma, edited by A. Reiner et al. and alia, II:695–700. Alon Shvut: Tevunot Press.

———. 2013. The Intellectual History and Rabbinic Culture of Medieval Ashkenaz. Detroit, MI: Wayne University Press.

———. 2018. “From Germany to Northern France and Back Again: A Tale of Two Tosafist Centres.” In Regional Identities and Cultures of Medieval Jews, edited by X. Castano, T. Fishman, and E. Kanarfogel, 149–71. Oxford, UK: Littman Library.

———. 2020. “Approaches to Prophecy in Northern French Biblical Exegesis and the Thought of the German Pietists [Hebrew].” In Semitic, Biblical, and Jewish Studies in Honor of Richard C. Steiner, edited by Aaron Koller, translated by Steiner, 158–75. Jerusalem / New York: Bialik Institute & Yeshiva University Press.

Kiperwasser, R., and D. D. Y. Shapira. 2015. “Irano-Talmudica III: Giant Mythological Creatures in Transition from the Avesta to the Babylonian Talmud.” In Orality and Textuality in the Iranian World: Patterns of Interaction Across the Centuries, edited by Julia Rubanovich, 65–92. Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture. Leiden / Boston: Brill.

Kuyt, Annelies. 1993. “Traces of a Mutual Influence of the Haside Ashkenaz and the Hekhalot Literature.” In From Narbonne to Regensburg; Studies in Medieval Hebrew Texts, edited by N. A. van Uchelen and I. E. Zwiep, 62–86. Amsterdam: Juda Palache Institute.

Lieberman, Saul. 1965. “Some Aspects of After Life in Early Rabbinic Literature.” In Harry Austryn Wolfson Jubilee Volume, 495–532. English Section, II. Jerusalem: American Academy for Jewish Research.

Liebes, Esther, ed. 2004. Devils, Demons, and Souls, Essays on Demonology by Gershom Scholem [Hebrew]. Jerusalem: Ben Zvi Institute.

Liebes, Yehuda. 1992. “New Directions in the Study of Kabbalah [Hebrew].” Pe‘amim 50: 150–70.

———. 1993. Studies in Jewish Myth and Jewish Messianism. Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

———. 2005. “Was the Shekhinah a Virgin? [Hebrew].” Pe‘amim 101–102: 303–13.

Lovejoy, Arthur O. 1976. The Great Chain of Being: A Study of the History of an Idea. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Mann, Jacob. 1972. Texts and Studies in Jewish History and Literature. Reprinted. New York: Ktav.

Milik, Josef Tadeus. 1971. “Fragments grecs du livre d’Hénoch (P. Oxy. XVII 2069).” Chronique d’Égypte 46: 321–48.

Milik, Jozef Tadeus. 1976. The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Molenberg, Corrie. 1984. “A Study of the Role of Shemihaza and Asael in 1 Enoch 6-11.” JJS XXXV: 136–46.

Morgenstern, Julian. 1939. “The Mythological Background of Psalm 82.” HUCA 14: 29–126.

Necker, Gerold. 2004. “Fallen Angels in the Book of Life.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 11: 73–84.

Neusner, Jacob. 1986. “Varieties of Judaism in the Formative Age.” In Jewish Spirituality, edited by A. Green, I:171–97. New York: Crossroad.

Newsom, Carol A. 1980. “The Development of 1 Enoch 6–19 Cosmology and Judgment.” CBQ 42 (3): 310–29.

Page Jr, H. R. 1996. The Myth of Cosmic Rebellion: A Study of Its Reflexes in Ugaritic and Biblical Literature. Leiden: E.J. Brill.

Paz, Yakir. 2021. “Eternal Chains and the Mountain of Darkness: The Fallen Angels in the Incantation Bowls.” In Apocryphal and Esoteric Sources in the Development of Christian and Jewish Traditions: The Eastern Mediterranean, the Near East, and Beyond, edited by I. Dorfmann-Lazarev, 533–58. Leiden / Boston: Brill.

Reed, Annette Y. 2001. “From Asael and Shemihaza to Uzzah, Azzah and Azael, 1 Enoch 5 (& 7–8), and Jewish Reception-History of 1 Enoch.” Jewish Studies Quarterly 8: 105–36.

———. 2005. Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity: The Reception of Enochic Literature. Cambridge / New York: Cambridge University Press.

Reed, Annette Y., R. S. Boustan, and A. Y. Reed. 2004. “Heavenly Ascent, Angelic Descent, and the Transmission of Knowledge in 1 Enoch 6-16.” In Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions, 47–66. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Reeves, John C. 1991. “A Enochic Motif in the Manichaean Tradition.” In Manichaica Selecta: Studies Presented to Professor Julien Ries on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday, edited by Alois van Tongerloo and Soren Giversen, 295–8. Louvain: International Associtation of Manichaean Studies.

———. 1993. “Utnapishtim in the Book of the Giants?” Journal of Biblical Literature 112: 110–15.

———. 2014. “Resurgent Myth: On the Vitality of the Watchers Traditions in the Near East of Late Antiquity.” In The Fallen Angels Traditions: Second Temple Developments and Reception History, edited by A. K. Harkins, H. Coblentz, and J. C. Enders, 94–115. The Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monograph Series 53. Washington, D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association of America.

———. 2015. “Some Parascriptural Dimensions of the ‘Tale of Hārūt wa-Mārūt’.” Journal of the American Oriental Society 135: 817–42.

Rosen-Zvi, Ishay. 2022. “Between the Biblical and the Apocalyptic: The Making of the Scapegoat Ritual in Mishnah Yoma [Hebrew].” Sidra 34.

Schäfer, Peter. 2002. Mirror of His Beauty: Feminine Images of God from the Bible to the Early Kabbalah. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

———. 2009. Origins of Jewish Mysticism. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Schneider, Michael. 2010. The Appearance of the High Priest: Theophany, Apotheosis and Binitarian Theology: From Priestly Tradition of the Second Temple Period Through Ancient Jewish Mysticism. Los Angeles, CA: Cherub Press.

Scholem, Gershom. 1941. Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism. New York: Schocken Books.

———. 1948. Reshit ha-Qabbalah. Jerusalem / Tel Aviv: Schocken.

———. 1974. Kabbalah. Jerusalem: Keter.

———. 1987. Origins of the Kabbalah. Edited by R. Z. J. Werblowsky. Translated by A. Arkush. Philadelphia / Princeton, NJ: JPS / Princeton University Press.

Schremer, Adiel. 2010. “The Religious Orientation of Non-Rabbis in Second-Century Palestine: A Rabbinic Perspective.” In Follow the Wise: Studies in Jewish History and Culture in Honor of Lee I. Levine, edited by Z. Weiss et al., 319–41. Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns.

Schwartz, Seth. 2001. Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C. to 640 C.E. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Segal, Alan. 1987. The Other Judaisms of Late Antiquity. Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press.

Sermonetta, Joseph Baruch. 1974. “The Fall of the Angels [Hebrew].” In Sefer Zikkaron le-Ya‘aqov Friedmann, edited by S. Pines, 155–203. Jerusalem: ha-Makhon le-madaʻe ha-Yahadut, ha-Universiṭah ha-ʻIvrit.

Smith, Mark S. 1987. “God Male and Female in the Old Testament: Yahveh and His ‘Asherah’.” Theological Studies 48: 333–40.

Stone, Michael E. 1991. Selected Studies in Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha. Leiden: Brill.

Stoyanov, Yuri. 1994. The Other God: Dualist Religions from Antiquity to the Cathar Heresy. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

Stroumsa, Gedalyahu G. 1984. Another Seed, Studies in Gnostic Mythology. Leiden: Brill.

Stuckenbruck, Loren T. 2013. “The Book of Enoch: Its Reception in Second Temple Jewish and in Christian Tradition.” Early Christianity 4: 7–40.

Ta’-Shma‘, Israel M. 2001. Ha-Nigle She-Banistar, The Halakhic Residue in the Zohar: A Contribution to the Study of the Zohar [Hebrew]. 2nd ed. Ha-Kibbutz ha-Me’uhad.

———. 2004. Studies in Medieval Rabbinic Literature. Vol. 1. Germany [Hebrew]. Vol. 1. Jerusalem: Mossad Bialik.

The Book of Jubilees: Rewritten Bible, Redaction, Ideology and Theology. 2007. Leiden / Boston: Brill.

Theißen, Gerd. 2011. “Monotheismus und Teufelsglaube: Entstehung und Psychologie des biblischen Satansmythos.” In Demons and the Devil in Ancient and Medieval Christianity, edited by N. Vos and W. Otten, 37–70. Leiden: Brill.

Theodor, J., and Ch Albeck, eds. 1968. Midrash Bereschit Rabba. Jerusalem: Wahrmann Books.

Urbach, Ephraim E. 1978. Sefer Pitron Torah. Jerusalem: Magnes Press.

———. 1979. The Sages, Their Concepts and Beliefs. Translated by Israel Abrams. Jerusalem: Magnes Press.

Vos, N., and W. Otten, eds. 2011. Demons and the Devil in Ancient and Medieval Christianity. Leiden: Brill.

Wasserstrom, Steven M. 1997. “Shahrastani on the Maghariyya.” Israel Oriental Studies 17: 127–54.

Weinfeld, Moshe. 1996. “Feminine Features in the Imagery of God in Israel: The Sacred Marriage and the Sacred Tree.” Vetus Testamentum 46: 515–29.

Wertheimer, Sh. A., Sh A, and Sh A. 1955. Batei Midrashot. 2nd ed. Jerusalem: Mossad ha-Rav Kook.

Whitney Jr., K. William. 2006. “Two Strange Beasts”: A Study of Traditions Concerning Leviathan and Behemoth in Second Temple and Early Rabbinic Judaism. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns.

Wolfson, Elliot R. 1991. “Hai Gaon’s Letter and Commentary on ’Aleynu: Further Evidence of R. Moses de León’s Pseudepigraphic Activity.” Jewish Quarterly Review 81: 365–410.

Yassif, Eli. 1984. The Tales of Ben Sira in the Middle Ages. Jerusalem: Magnes Press.

———, ed. 2001. Sefer Ha-Zikhronot. Tel Aviv: University of Tel Aviv Press.

———. 2012. “Oral Traditions in a Literate Society: The Hebrew Literature of the Middle Ages.” In Medieval Oral Literature, edited by K. Reichl and K. Reichl, 499–519. Berlin / Boston: Walter de Gruyter.

  1. From this point of view, Devorah Dimant’s contribution is rather exceptional; see Dimant (1974). She paid attention, more than other scholars, to some reverberations of the myth in medieval literatures in Hebrew. I would like to thank Alexandra Cuffel and Eduard Iricinschi for inviting me to the workshop on “Invoking a Strange God: Rituals of Power and Religious Contacts in the Late Antique Mediterranean World and Medieval Europe” at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, and especially to thank Dr. Iricinschi for his editorial suggestions.↩︎

  2. See Milik (1976). The decisive role played by this book does not mean that there are not significant shortcomings in some of Milik’s treatments. See, e.g., the review of Jonas Greenfield – Michael Stone, reprinted in Stone (1991, 213–27). Especially important is the much earlier finding of Walter B. Henning; see Henning (1943).↩︎

  3. See especially the very important studies of John C. Reeves in Reeves (2014, 1993), as well as Annus (2012). See also n. 9 below.↩︎

  4. See Eshel and Eshel (2004).↩︎

  5. Idel (2023). This monograph provides a much fuller bibliography and philological discussions of some of the topics dealt with here. I cited below what seem to me to be the most critical studies alone. See already Idel (1980, 2007b, esp. 98–99 n.176, 2020a, esp. 17n.43). On some of those issues I lectured in conferences, one on the Scrolls of the Judean Desert at the University of Haifa, in May 2014, the other, entitled “Fallen Angels, From 1 Enoch to Some Medieval Unknown Texts,” at the workshop on “Invoking a Strange God: Rituals of Power and Religious Contacts in the Late Antique Mediterranean World and Medieval Europe” on November 17, 2019, organized by the Käte Hamburger Kolleg, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Germany, as well as at the New European College-Romanian Academy (Bucharest, May 13, 2021).↩︎

  6. See Idel (1986, 2016a) where I elaborated on my view as to why the two theories to be mentioned below are problematic.↩︎

  7. See Reeves (2015). It goes without saying, as many scholars have already pointed out, that the myth had an impact on some discussions in the Qur‘an. See, more recently, Crone (2013).↩︎

  8. See Reed (2005), a study gravitating around the crucial assumption that the myth returned to Rabbinic Jews only in the eleventh century from non-Rabbinic sources. See esp. 265. See also Reed (2001). For the Greek fragments, see Milik (1971).↩︎

  9. See Himmelfarb (1994, esp. 116, 1984). In fact, an idiosyncratic case of back-borrowing of the myth of the fallen angels, not noticed in this context, is found in a late thirteenth-century Jewish source written in Italy, by the philosopher R. Hillel of Verona, who apologetically claims that this myth is a Christian theme, alien to Judaism, but adopted unfortunately by Jews. See Sermonetta (1974); see also the discussion of Necker (2004), dealing with an Ashkenazi mid-thirteenth century anonymous treatise.↩︎

  10. Milik (1976, esp. 29, 34, 43, 150–51, 170–71, 175–76, 315).↩︎

  11. In Idel (2016b), I surveyed the alternative interpretations offered by other scholars. For an updated elaborated version of this study, see “Appendix A” of Idel (2023).↩︎

  12. See n. 9 above, and the discussions of Kabbalistic manuscript materials from the late fifteenth century in Idel (2023, ch. 7).↩︎

  13. I use here the term ‘Ashkenazi’ not just as referring to a geographical area in Southern Germany, but as dealing with a certain wider type of culture, shared by Jewish authors in this area and in Northern France, despite the cultural differences between them. Ashkenazi figures were active culturally even in Toledo and in Italy. See, e.g., Kanarfogel (2008, 2018); Dan (1999, 1975, 1968); Grossmann (1981, 1995); Frishman (2008). From the specific point of view that concerns me here, the two regions display a greater openness to the myth of fallen angels than what may be found in other regions in Europe in that period, like Provence and the various parts of Spain up to the first third of the thirteenth century.↩︎

  14. Israel M. Ta’-Shma‘, “Sefer ha-Maskil – An Unknown Jewish-French from the End of the 13th-Century,” a study originally published in 1983, and reprinted in the collection of his studies, Ta’-Shma‘ (2004, esp. 133–56). R. Shlomo Simhah, like his ancestor, was well acquainted also with the German branch of Ashkenazi culture.↩︎

  15. See Freudenthal (1995, 1994); Kanarfogel (2013, esp. 483–84, 500–04, 525, 2011).↩︎

  16. See Dan (2011, esp. 894–931).↩︎

  17. Those two names are related already in 1 Enoch to two different traditions, as has been pointed out by many scholars. See, e.g., Morgenstern (1939); Milik (1976, esp. 33–34); Dimant (1974, esp. 22–29); Molenberg (1984); Newsom (1980); Segal (The Book of Jubilees: Rewritten Bible, Redaction, Ideology and Theology 2007, esp. 109–15, 131–32).↩︎

  18. Compare also to what R. Shlomo Simhah wrote later in his book, Sefer ha-Maskil, Ms. Moscow-Ginsburg 508, fol. 47b, where it is said that God hates pride, in the content of mentioning Shemhaza’el and ‘Azza’, and the fools believe that they are the rules, not God.↩︎

  19. The Hebrew verb בער is reminiscent of the other verb שרף, both meaning to burn, used in order to describe the destruction of some angels that opposed the creation of man, by some form of fire, according to BT. Sanhedrin, fol. 38b. See also Idel (2016a, esp. 134).↩︎

  20. On this phrase as a recurrent Rabbinic designation for God, see Urbach (1979, esp. 184–213).↩︎

  21. For God’s diminishing Adam’s huge stature, see, e.g., Wertheimer (1955, 2:412). Compare also to precisely the same Rabbinic phrase מיעט את הדמות in quite a different context; BT. Yebbamot, fol. 63b.↩︎

  22. References to names and witchcraft occur together also elsewhere in the same book Sefer ha-Maskil, Ms. Moscow-Ginsburg 508, fol. 47b.↩︎

  23. Sefer ha-Maskil, Ms. Moscow-Ginsburg 508, fol. 33a:

    “אבל משעה שברא הקב”ה את המלאכים, וברא שמחזאל ועזא כאשר מפורש באגדה, שבראם גדולים מסוף התהום ועד כסא הכבוד, ונתגאו בקומתן עד שאמרו לקב“ה: ‘נעזור לך בבנין העולם, בנה אתה במזרח ואנחנו נבנה במערב, השב אתה רוחות ואנו נוריד טללים.’ אז חרה אף הקב”ה בהם ואמר אל לבו ’אם אני מבער אותם מן העולם יאמרו בריות של מעשה בראשית שעלה בדעתם שהם שותפים לבורא, כשם שיש תכלה באלו כך ח“ו יש תכלה במי שאמר והיה העולם.’ עמד הקב”ה ומיעט דמותם והשליכם בתהומות למען ידעו העולם כי הקב“ה הוא מושל בכל חי בגדולתו. ומהיום ההוא והלאה עמדו שמחזאל ועזא שראו כחו של הקב”ה וידעו באיזו חכמה ובאיזה ענין היה פועל, ולמדו לבאי עולם תחבולות רבים וכח שמות וכישופים, להחטיא לבאי העולם ולהמשיכם אחריהם להרע."↩︎

  24. See the interesting monograph of Page, Jr. (1996). On other instances of domesticated forms of the rebellion myth in Rabbinic literatures, see Idel (2023, chap. 3 and 5). On the nexus between titanomachy at the time creation and Genesis 6, see the Stoyanov (1994, 63, but no specific reference is supplied).↩︎

  25. See Altmann (1945).↩︎

  26. See, e.g., Idel (2016a, 129).↩︎

  27. See Reed (2004, 47–66).↩︎

  28. Goff (2009), or Kiperwasser and Shapira (2015). See also Goff, Stuckenbruck, and Morano, eds. (2016, 145–230), and n. 3 above.↩︎

  29. See 1 Enoch, ch. 60: 6­–8 and Caquot (1975). For the reverberation of this motif in Manicheism, see Reeves (1991). See also Whitney, Jr. (2006, 44–56).↩︎

  30. On the huge size of these two beasts, see the list of Hebrew sources compiled in Whitney, Jr. (2006, 97n4).↩︎

  31. Midrash Bereschit Rabba, I, 2, in Theodor and Albeck (1968, I, 5):הכל מודים שלא נברא ביום ראשון כלום שלא תאמרו מיכאל היה מותח בדרומו של רקיע וגבריאל בצפונו והקב“ה ממדד באמצעו… מי היה שותף עימי בבריית העולם.”↩︎

  32. Namely the Golden calf.↩︎

  33. This is a euphemism recurring in Rabbinic literature for the divine intention to destroy the people of Israel.↩︎

  34. Yalqut Shime‘oni, on Exodus, ch. 32, paragraph 392:

    “אמר רבי יצחק בשעה שעשו ישראל אותו מעשה בקש לכלות שונאיהם אמר משה העגל הזה טוב הוא לסייע לך אמר ליה הקב”ה מה מסייע לי אמר ליה משה אתה מוריד גשמים והוא מוריד טללים אתה מוציא את הרוחות והוא מוציא את העננים אמר ליה משה אף אתה טועה בעגל."

    A very similar passage is found in the same compilation, Yalqut Shime‘oni, Deuteronomy, ch. 1, paragraph 792. This view reverberated in the early fourteenth-century treatise of R. Isaac ben Shmuel of Acre’s Sefer Me’irat ‘Einayyim, in Goldreich (1982, 132–33).↩︎

  35. For two huge angels, one male the other female, in late Antiquity in circles close to Jewish material, see Idel (2008b, 20–22). On huge angels, see also Wasserstrom (1997) and Farber-Ginat (1994). See also R. Eleazar of Worms’ Perushei Siddur Ha-Tefillah la-Rokeah, in Herschler and Herschler (1992, I:1:170).↩︎

  36. In the printed text is written ובני namely, “and the sons of,” but I assume that this is an error and translated as if it were written בני namely, “the sons of.”↩︎

  37. Compare to BT. Niddah, fol. 61a.↩︎

  38. As to the negative understanding of having intercourse in the ark see, for example, already the Rabbinic statement in BT. Sanhedrin, fol. 98a, where Ham is mentioned as one of the three transgressors on this point. Compare also to R. Bahya ben Asher, Commentary on the Pentateuch, esp. on Genesis 8:16, in Chavel ed. (1966, 1:116–117).↩︎

  39. R. Bahya ben Asher, Commentary on the Pentateuch, on Numbers 21:34, in Chavel ed. (1968, 3:159):

    ראיתי במדרש: סיחון ועוג ובני שמחזאל היו, שהיה מבני האלהים. ושמחזאל בא על אשתו של חם סמוך לכניסתה לתיבה וסיחון נולד בתיבה, ולכך שמש חם בתיבה כדי לחפות על אשתו.

    All the other occurrences of this Midrash are later and, in my opinion, depend on R. Bahya’s commentary. See also Ginzberg (1968, 5:188–89 n. 54).↩︎

  40. Perush Ba‘al ha-Turim, on Genesis 6:4, in ben Asher, ed. Reinitz, 1:16:

    סיחון ועוג וכו’ כדאיתא בנדה סיחון ועוג בני שמחזאי ועזאל ונפלו מן השמים בימי דור המבול. As it is well-known, ‘Og is understood in many Jewish texts as a giant. In my opinion, putting together the two versions, the Talmudic one and the Ashkenazi one, quoted as if it is found in the Talmud, though it reflects Rashi’s interpretation, helps reconstruct a larger version of the myth, which also implies acquaintance with a certain aspect of the Book of the Giants.↩︎

  41. This is evidently a reverberation of one of the names of the giants in the Book of the Giants. See Milik (1976, 166–67, 308), whose importance for understanding the later vicissitudes of this part of the book of Enoch escaped modern scholars. In my opinion, the Hebrew guttural ח of אחיה is original, and the Aramaic forms, such as אהייה , are the result of the weakening of the gutturals. Compare to what I wrote in Idel (2016b).↩︎

  42. The regular version in the Talmud Niddah, fol. 61a, as in print, is סיחון ועוג אחי הוו דאמר מר סיחון ועוג בני אחיה בר שמחזאי↩︎

  43. On the form Haza’el found in accounts about fallen angels before the thirteenth century see more in Idel (2023, ch. 4).↩︎

  44. More on this issue see my forthcoming Idel (2023).↩︎

  45. Whitney Jr. (2006, 59–92).↩︎

  46. This text, found in two Hebrew versions, a longer one in a manuscript and a shorter, printed one, is printed and analyzed at length in Idel (2023, ch. 1). For the first publication of the texts see also my forthcoming study in Idel (2022).↩︎

  47. See Idel (2023, ch. 5).↩︎

  48. See the important critical edition by Gershom Scholem, first printed in 1981, and reprinted in Liebes ed. (2004, 154–82 (Hebrew)). Scholem dealt at length with the reception of this magical treatise and its manuscripts in Ashkenaz.↩︎

  49. See, e.g., Abrams (1998, 1997, 1996); Kuyt (1993); Herrmann (1988); Idel (2017, 2013, 2006).↩︎

  50. See the seminal study of Geula (2006, (Hebrew)).↩︎

  51. See Idel (2018) or Kanarfogel (2020); see also Idel (1988, 91–92).↩︎

  52. See Idel (2009a).↩︎

  53. See, e.g., Idel (2019, 2016b, 1990, 54–95).↩︎

  54. See Idel (2018, 79) and Kanarfogel (2008).↩︎

  55. See Kanarfogel (2000) and the two preceding footnotes.↩︎

  56. See Freudenthal (2006).↩︎

  57. Ta-Shma‘ (2001); Wolfson (1991); Kanarfogel (1993); Idel (2008a, 2007a).↩︎

  58. See my detailed discussions of those episodes in Idel (2023, ch. 6).↩︎

  59. See Idel (2018, 2016c).↩︎

  60. See Fishman (2004).↩︎

  61. Daniel 4:10.↩︎

  62. Printed in Mann (1972, 2:82): “ספר עוזא ועזיאל כד נחתו מן שמיא” For more on Karaites’ criticism on Rabbinism related to the myth of the fallen angels, see Idel (2023, ch. 4).↩︎

  63. Scholem (1948, 195); Dimant (1974, 181–82); Milik (1976, 330); Stroumsa (1984, 56n82); and Paz (2021).↩︎

  64. Paz (2021).↩︎

  65. Liebes (2004, 152). This is a rough approximation. See also Juusola (2004).↩︎

  66. See Milik (1976, 57–58).↩︎

  67. See Olszowy-Schlanger 2019. On the possibility that another account referring to fallen angels reached the Cairo Genizah from Qumran, see Bohak (2012). This is also the case with the ancient book Ben Sira 16:7, where the myth of fallen angels is mentioned, and it was known by Rabbis.↩︎

  68. Printed for the first time by Urbach ed. (1978, 65–68). On its dating, see the preface of the editor, Urbach ed. (1978), 25—the compilation was done not before the eighth century—and 32—not after the tenth century—and see also 29.↩︎

  69. See Albeck (1940, 29–31). This version was known also in thirteenth-century Christian circles, as Albeck pointed out; see Albeck (1940, 30).↩︎

  70. Yalqut Shime‘oni, on Genesis, paragraph 44; see Heiman et alia (1973, 1:154–155).↩︎

  71. See Yassif ed. (2001, 115–17). See also his introduction, esp. Yassif ed. (2001, 33, 56–57).↩︎

  72. Milik (1976, 322–26, 330, 339).↩︎

  73. Milik (1976, 330–31); also another discussion concerning another topic and its affinity to Persia in Milik (1976, 170–72); see also Heller (1910, 205–6).↩︎

  74. See my detailed analysis of this topic in Idel (2023, chap. 1 and 2).↩︎

  75. See also the mentioning of the myth of the fallen angels by their names Shemhazai and ‘Azza’el in the so-called Additional Questions, related to the early medieval book of Ben-Sira, in Yassif, ed. (1984, 286–87), and the proposal of the editor to locate it in the Middle East in the tenth or eleventh century. I cannot afford to further address here the relevance of the renewed interest, as evident in current scholarship, in the Iranian background in Talmudic studies.↩︎

  76. See Idel (2023, chaps. 1, 2 and 4) where I study in many detail the various branches and versions of the myth known in medieval Ashkenaz. See, meanwhile, what I wrote in Idel (2016a, 132–33).↩︎

  77. See my detailed analyses of early Rabbinic statements in Idel (2023, ch. 4).↩︎

  78. See (Idel 2023, appendix 5) and Yassif (2012). See also the intention of Moses Gaster, one of the earliest and most erudite scholars of pseudepigrapha, to write about their oral transmission, a plan that did not materialize (Gaster 1998, 206). Gaster’s theories in this field have been widely ignored by modern scholarship.↩︎

  79. See, e.g., Lieberman (1965, 511–12); Schwartz (2001); Fraade (2011, 579–81); Neusner (1986); Segal (1987); Schremer (2010).↩︎

  80. Rosen-Zvi (2022), whose approach corroborates my polymorphous approach to Rabbinic Judaism insofar as the myth under scrutiny here is concerned. ↩︎

  81. See Idel (2023, chaps. 6–8) and in some of the appendixes.↩︎

  82. See above n. 9 and Idel (2023, appendix 3).↩︎

  83. See, e. g., Ginzberg (1922). See also his remark in Ginzberg (1968, 5:172n.12).↩︎

  84. Bernard Jacob Bamberger ([1952] 2006, 132) speaks about “the humorous touch”: “One cannot read this particular version of the story, however, without a suspicion that it is not the entirely serious.”↩︎

  85. See Idel (1991); Liebes (1993, 1992); Schneider (2010).↩︎

  86. Scholem (1941, 35): “[…] ancient myths and metaphors whose remainders the editors of the Book Bahir, and therefore the whole Kabbalah, inherited from the Gnostics”; see also Scholem (1987, 1974, passim, especially 31).↩︎

  87. Green (2002) and Schäfer (2002).↩︎

  88. See, however, Liebes (2005); Idel (2020a, 2011a, 2009b, 2004a). Compare also to earlier studies by biblical scholars, not taken in consideration in this context: e.g., Smith (1987); Weinfeld (1996); or Gruber (1992, 3–16).↩︎

  89. This is the theory that Annette Y. Reed adopted early in her career from a discussion with Peter Schäfer, see her keen testimony in Reed (2001, 107, 2005, 16); see then his borrowing back this view from her study, which serves now as a piece of evidence for his own similar theory of Christian influences on Jewish mysticism in Schäfer (2009, 54). No doubt, this is a conspicuous case of “back-borrowing,” which indeed cannot be denied and serves as a cornerstone in an edifice.↩︎

  90. This prejudice about Jewish creativity in late Antiquity has been duly signaled by Scholem (1941, 43). I elaborated on this issue in Idel (2023, ch. 11).↩︎

  91. See above in paragraph 4, the scholars’ unawareness of the seminal discussion found in Pitron Torah, whose existence and content change the entire historical picture concerning the transmission of the older myths on the fallen angels to the Middle Ages.↩︎

  92. See, e.g., the scholarly oversight of Scholem’s important remarks, found solely in Hebrew, about the possibility that a particular discussion included in the medieval book of the Zohar is very reminiscent of a certain phrase in 1 Enoch, as it has been retroverted by Milik. See Scholem, Devils, Demons, and Souls, in Liebes (2004, 175–176nn123, 124, and 125). See also Liebes (2004, 172n103) and Idel (2007b, 71, 106n, 211). This neglect is also the case of the most important studies written in Hebrew by Hananel Mack about R. Moshe ha-Darshan, an author that played a crucial role in the theory of “back-borrowing,” or by Eli Yassif’s critical edition of Sefer ha-Zikhronot and the lengthy introduction he added; see Yassif. ed. (2001).↩︎

  93. See “Preface” and “Introduction” in Idel (2023).↩︎

  94. See, e.g., my assumption about the importance of scholars’ awareness of a wide range of significant influences on Jewish mysticism that stem from a variety of cultural sources; see Idel 1981 or the discussion of the impact of the theme of the mythical dog Cerberus in an early Zoharic composition in Idel 1989. For the reverberations of themes related to Aesculapius in thirteenth-century Kabbalah, see Idel (1982). See also Idel (2004c); Idel (2011a, 206–7, 267–86, 344–48); Idel (2003). In more general terms see Idel (2004b, 2011b, 2005); or, more recently, Idel (2013) and, especially, Idel (2020b), on the substantial impact of a Zurvanic theory stemming from Iran, on the history of Jewish thought.↩︎

  95. See, e.g., Idel (2023, ch. 7).↩︎

  96. See, e.g., the characterization of the medieval worldview, most probably Christian Europe, as diabolocentric in Lovejoy (1976, 101–2). I hardly find such a view in the main developments of medieval forms of Judaism. See also Vos (2011) and Theißen (2011).↩︎

  97. See, e.g., more recently the studies assembled in Harkins, A.K., H. Coblentz, and J. C. Enders, eds. (2014) and Stuckenbruck (2013).↩︎

  98. More on this issue see Idel (2023).↩︎

  99. See Delumeau (1990).↩︎

  100. See Idel (2023, ch. 6 and appendix 6).↩︎