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Reintroducing the Myth of the Fallen Angels into Judaism

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Rachel Adelman

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Reintroducing the Myth of the Fallen Angels into Judaism

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Reintroducing the Myth of the Fallen Angels into Judaism

Literature and art are replete with images of angels descending to earth and joining humanity. One source for this image is a terse account in Genesis describing fallen angels, which is expanded upon in Second Temple literature. This interpretive tradition is suppressed in the classic rabbinic literature only to resurface again in the late narrative midrash, Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer.

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Reintroducing the Myth of the Fallen Angels into Judaism

The Fall of the Rebel Angels. Pieter Bruegel the Elder (c. 1525 – 1569 )

….when from the Tents behold
A Beavie of fair Women, richly gay
In Gems and wanton dress; to the Harp they sung
Soft amorous Ditties, and in dance came on:
The Men though grave, ey’d them, and let thir eyes
Rove without rein, till in the amorous Net
Fast caught, they lik’d, and each his liking chose;
(John Milton, Paradise Lost, XI. 585-87)

Introduction: Fallen Angels in Literature and Art

From Milton’s epic, Paradise Lost, to the iconic film, Wings of Desire, poets and artists have been enthralled by the idea of “angels in the architecture” (to steal a phrase from Paul Simon).[1] The Wim Wenders film (1987) tells the story of invisible divine beings who wander the streets of Berlin, eavesdropping on the thoughts of men and women.  One angel falls in love with a beautiful, lonely trapeze artist.  While she aspires to reach heavenly heights, he forgoes his incorporeal nature to join the foibles of mortal men.

Origin of the Myth of Fallen Angels

The origin of this modern, romantic fantasy is found in the cryptic opening of the sixth chapter of Genesis, essentially the relic of an ancient mythological saga concerned with the relations between divine beings and mortal women (Gen. 6:1-4).

Wings of Desire applauds the angel’s descent to earth, but in the biblical text, as well as in the later expansions of this myth in Second Temple period Jewish literature, the angels’ descent to “tawdry lusts” is linked to the spawning of giants and the corruption of humankind.[2]

The Biblical Account: A Polemical Compromise

This mythic account in the Hebrew Bible is exceedingly terse (Gen 6:1-4):  

א וַיְהִי כִּי הֵחֵל הָאָדָם לָרֹב עַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה וּבָנוֹת יֻלְּדוּ לָהֶם:
1 When men began to increase on earth and daughters were born to them,
ב וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ:
2 the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were and took wives from among those that pleased them.
ג וַיֹּאמֶר י-הוה לֹא יָדוֹן רוּחִי בָאָדָם לְעֹלָם בְּשַׁגַּם הוּא בָשָׂר וְהָיוּ יָמָיו מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה:
3 Yhwh said, “My breath shall not abide in man forever, since he too is flesh; let the days allowed him be one hundred and twenty years.”
ד הַנְּפִלִים הָיוּ בָאָרֶץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם וְגַם אַחֲרֵי כֵן אֲשֶׁר יָבֹאוּ בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶל בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם וְיָלְדוּ לָהֶם הֵמָּה הַגִּבֹּרִים אֲשֶׁר מֵעוֹלָם אַנְשֵׁי הַשֵּׁם:
4 It was then, and later too, that the Nephilim appeared on earth — when the divine beings cohabited with the daughters of men, who bore them offspring.  They were the heroes of old, the men of renown. (NJPS)

The story opens with the proliferation of humans on the face of the earth, and the licentious view of women by the angels.  The text (v. 2) sets up a juxtaposition between these heavenly creatures (benei ha-’elohim, lit. “the sons of God”)[3] and the women, benot ha-adam (lit. “daughters of the man/ha-Adam”). Breaching the boundary between heaven and earth, the angels take wives from among women whom they choose.

A Just-So Story about Demigods

The causal connection between the cohabitation of angels and humans and the genesis of giants, called Nephilim (v. 4), is not explicit in the biblical text; perhaps they simply inhabit the earth at the same time. Nevertheless, the late biblical scholar, Umberto Cassuto (1883-1951) assumes this connection and argues that this passage serves as an etiological account, a ‘just-so-story’, for the existence of these giants/Nephilim and “the heroes of old, the men of renown.”[4] Born as a consequence of the cohabitation between divine beings and the daughters of men, their name, Nephilim, derives from the verb nafal [נ.פ.ל., meaning “to fall, descend”], and testifies to the demotion of their ancestors, the angels.[5]

Comparison with Greek and ANE Mythology

Among the Greeks and the peoples of the Ancient Near East, many mythic tales of the sexual relations between the gods and mortal women were told, in which the product of these unions were regarded as demi-gods, heroes of a Golden Age.  In Greek myth, for example, Perseus and Heracles were both born of the union between Zeus and mortal women – Danae and Alcmene respectively.  Similarly, the great Sumerian King turned hero, Gilgamesh, was said to be the son of King Lugalbanda, who was himself part human and part god, and the goddess Ninsun.

Unlike the long and detailed legends we find in ANE or Greek myth, the account here in the Torah of the demigods is exceedingly terse and contains not even one example of a named hero or a heroic feat. Attempting to explain this, Cassuto writes that the biblical account…

…compresses its words into a few sentences, as though it wished to convey that it finds the entire topic wholly uncongenial, and that the subject is mentioned not for its own sake but in order to disabuse the reader’s mind of certain notions.  The declaration in v. 3, “My spirit shall not abide in man, etc…” implies: Do not believe the heathen tales about human beings of divine origin, who were rendered immortal; this is untrue, for in the end every man must die, “in as much as he too is flesh.”  The sons that were born from the intercourse of the sons of God with the daughters of men were in truth, gigantic and mighty, yet they did not live forever [לעולם], but had long ago [מעולם], become extinct… the Torah’s intention [then] is to counteract the pagan legends and to reduce to a minimum the content of the ancient traditions concerning the giants.[6]

Expanding the Polemic in the Rabbinic Period

The Rabbis of late antiquity took this polemic further, and overtly condemn the idea that thebenei elohim were angels at all. Instead some rabbis suggest reading elohim as judges or lords.[7]

ר’ שמעון בן יוחי קרי להון בני דייניה, ר’ שמעון בן יוחי מקלל לכל מן דקרי להון בני אלהיא.
R. Shimon ben Yochai called them the ‘sons of nobles’, and declared: cursed be anyone who calls them angels (Gen. Rab. 26:6).

The midrash goes on to depict the cohabitation of these men with the “daughters of Adam” in terms of the practice of “the right of the first night” (otherwise known as “droit du seigneur” or “ius primae noctis”) – an opinion attributed to R. Yudan.[8]

Perhaps cognizant of the sources from the Second Temple Period (which we will see in the next section),[9] the Rabbis seem invested in suppressing the myth of the fallen angels – either because of the association of these texts with sectarianism, or because of the problematic theology latent in the myth: that godly beings could assume mortal proportions.

The Myth of the Corruption of Humans before the Flood in the Second Temple Period

In the Second Temple period, there were two main expanded versions of the biblical myth, one from the book of 1 Enoch and the other from the book of Jubilees. (For excerpts from these texts, see Appendix 2.) Each uses this myth to account for the existence of evil in the world, and each assumes that the brief story of the Nephilim, which appears immediately before the flood story in the Torah, was meant as an explanation for the flood (the Torah never says this).

“The Book of Watchers,” (found in I Enoch, chs. 1-36 [6-11]),[10] ascribes evil to the acquisition of forbidden knowledge through the teachings of Azazel, who was party to the plot of the fallen angels in seducing the women.  Despite their defeat, bound in the Bad Lands, the world would not be rid of their corrupt influence for another “seventy generations”, with the advent of the End of Days. Because the knowledge Azazel shared persists, the source of evil persists.

Jubilees, on the other hand, does not ascribe evil to knowledge, but rather to a genetic admixture of the corrupted angels and women.[11]  Some of these fallen angels survive the flood (at the behest of Mastema, the leader, comparable to Satan) and become demons, the servants of Satan on earth, and thus continue to play a role in tempting humans to sin.  Both interpretations assume that the benei Elohim in the story are angels.

In broad strokes, the ancient exegetical tradition, as preserved in Enoch and Jubilees, surmises that the flood was, directly or indirectly,

  • The consequence of this sexual breach of boundaries between the angelic and human realm; and/or
  • The result of a new race of beings (the Nephilim) born of the angels and women; and/or
  • Derived from the acquisition of illicit knowledge from the angels.

As stated above, the rabbis fought against this interpretation in Talmudic times. Nevertheless, the imaginative conjecture that the men of renown were giants born to the fallen angels and mortal women could not long remain inchoate.

Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer and the Return of the Repressed Tradition

PRE (Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer), following the earlier sources from the Second Temple period, resurrects the latent myth in the biblical text,[12] drawing a causal link between the cohabitation of divine beings with mortal women and the Flood.

PRE 22 identifies four stages of transgression, culminating in the Deluge (see appendix 1 for the full text):

  1. Nudity/Lewdness – Humans parade about naked [גלוי בשר ערוה] and/or engage in forbidden sexual relations [גלוי עריות] (paragraph 3);
  1. Human-Divine Miscegenation – The fallen angels allured by the women (descendants of Cain), cohabit with them (paragraph 4);
  1. Behavior of the Giants – The giants [ha-‘Anaqim or Nephilim], born of those unions, perpetrate robbery, violence, and murder [והיו משלחים ידם בגזל ובחמס ובשפיכות דמים].
  1. Defiance of God – Both the humans and giants demonstrating a defiant attitude towards God – the descendants of Cain rebel, claiming “not to need a drop of rain” and refusing “to walk in the ways of God” (paragraph 2), while the giants (on account of their stature) assume they are immune to the rising flood waters (paragraph 8, see appendix 1).[13]

Changing the Order

The midrash functions as a narrative expansion on Gen. 6:1-4, yet the order of events has been changed in the re-telling.  First there is the corruption of men’s ways through all kinds of sexual licentiousness, and only then are the (already fallen) angels entrapped (in Milton’s language) by a “beavie (=bevy) of fair women”, lewdly prancing about naked with their eyes painted.

The Seductive Daughters of Cain

The seduction of the fallen angels is initiated by those identified as “the daughters of Cain” (not the daughters of man/ha-Adam). PRE amplifies the role of the women as femmes fatales for the angels.  Their knowledge (of sexual immorality and the arts of seduction) – the “uncovering of their nakedness [גלויות בשר ערוה]”, and “their eyes made-up like whores [ומכחלות עיניהן כזונות]” (PRE 22) – leads to the angels’ lust for them, and so the divine beings ‘metamorphose’ from flame into flesh (or rather into ‘clods of earth’, cf. Job. 7:5).  The origin of evil, in PRE 22, is really the inverse of the pattern established in the Garden of Eden:

Fallen Angels origin

Thus, like Jubilees, PRE follows a genetic model to explain the flood, but seems to suggest that the (female) descendants of Cain were ultimately responsible. Yet this simple reading does not do justice to the complex picture of the origin of evil in PRE because, Cain (and his daughters), according to PRE, are themselves descendants of divine-human miscegenation!

The Dalliance of Eve and Samael

The leader of the fallen angels was a (former) ministering angel named Samael (the equivalent of Satan). He not only leads the angels to their fall but incites them to plot against Adam in the Garden (in PRE 13).  According to PRE, Cain was sired by Samael, who “rode the Primordial Snake” in his desire for Eve, when that archangel first descended from heaven (recounted in PRE 13 and 21).[14]

This idea derives from an exegetical reading Eve’s naming of Cain: “I have acquired a male child with God [קניתי איש את י-הוה]” (Gen. 4:1).[15] According to the Sethian Gnostic tradition, when Eve uses the Tetragrammaton in naming her son, she refers to the lesser deity or the demiurge – Samael (or Ialdabaoth).[16]

The following diagram summarizes the family tree on the maternal line:

Samael family line


Thus, although the daughters of Cain are directly responsible for the production of the giants who bring on the flood, they are themselves products of the seduction of their mother, Eve, by the leader of the fallen angels, Samael.

The “Genetic” Solution to the Corruption of Humanity in PRE

According to PRE, the solution to the corruption of the Earth, a consequence of the cohabitation of the angels and women, is to create a new breed of human from Noah, whose family are the descendants of Seth, “another seed”,[17] the alternative to the descendants of Cain. The Flood, in wiping out all of the descendants of Cain and the giants born of the fallen angels, cleanses the earth of corruption and allows Creation to be re-established on a pure genetic line.

Conclusion: A Jewish Myth

Needless to say, not only does this reading produce an entirely different flood story, but it is exactly what the Talmudic rabbis, and probably even the Torah itself, was trying to suppress: a Jewish version of a supernatural myth filled with giants, demigods, and irresistible seductresses.

–Appendix 1 –

‍The Fallen Angels

Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer, Chapter 22[18]

1 כתיב, “ויחי אדם מאה ושלשים שנה ויולד בדמותו כצלמו” (בר’ ה:ג), מיכאן את  למד שלא היה קין מזרעו ולא מדמותו, ולא מעשיו דומים למעשה הבל אחיו, עד שנולד שת שהיה מזרעו ודמותו, ומעשיו דומין למעשה הבל אחיו, שנ’ “ויולד בדמותו כצלמו” (שם שם).
1  It is written, “When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he begot a son in his likeness after his image (and he named him Seth)” (Gen. 5:3).  From here you learn that Cain was not of Adam’s seed, nor in his image, and his deeds were not like the deeds of Abel his brother, until Seth was born, who was of his seed and image, and whose deeds were similar to the deeds of Abel his brother “he begot a son in his likeness after his image” (ibid.).[19]
2  ר’ ישמעאל אומר: משת עלו ונתיחסו )כל הבריות ( וכל דורות הצדיקים, ומקין עלו ונתיחסו כל דורות הרשעים הפושעים והמורדים[20] שמרדו במקום, ואמרו: אין אנו צריכין לטיפת גשמיך ולא לדעת את דרכיך, שנ’ “ויאמרו לאל סור ממנו” (איוב כא:יד).
2  Rabbi Ishmael said: From Seth all the generations of the righteous descended.  From Cain all the generations of the wicked descended, the criminals and the rebels, who rebelled against the Omnipresent [ha-maqom] saying: We do not need the drops of Your rain, nor to walk in Your ways, as it is said, “They say to God, Leave us alone. (We do not want to learn Your ways)” (Job 21:14).
3  ר’ מאיר אומר: גלויי בשר ערוה היו הולכין דורות של קין, האנשים והנשים [היו] מטמאין בכל זנות, איש באמו ובבתו, ובאשת אחיו ]ובאשת רעהו [ בגלוי וברחובות וביצר הרע [של] )ו(במחשבות לבם, שנ’ “וַיַּרְא ה’ כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם בָּאָרֶץ וְכָל יֵצֶר מַחְשְׁבֹת לִבּוֹ רַק רַע כָּל הַיּוֹם” (בר’ ז:ה).
3  Rabbi Meir said: The descendants of Cain went about naked, the men and the women like beasts, and they defiled themselves with all kinds of sexual licentiousness: a man with his mother, or his daughter, or his brother’s wife, in public and in the streets, following the evil inclination of their hearts’ intentions, as it says, “The Lord saw how great was man’s wickedness on Earth, (and how every plan devised by his mind was nothing but evil all the time)” (Gen. 6:5).
4  ר’ אומר: ראו המלאכים שנפלו ממקום קדושתן מן השמים את בנות קין מהלכות גלויות בשר ערוה ומכחלות עיניהן כזונות, ותעואחריהם ולקחו מהן נשים, שנ’ “וַיִּרְאוּ בְנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים אֶת בְּנוֹת הָאָדָם  וגו’ [כִּי טֹבֹת הֵנָּה וַיִּקְחוּ לָהֶם נָשִׁים מִכֹּל אֲשֶׁר בָּחָרוּ] ” (בר’ ו:ב).
4  Rabbi said: The angels who fell from their holy place in heaven saw the daughters of Cain (bnot Qayin) walking about naked, with their eyes made-up like whores, and they went astray after them, and took wives from among them, as it says, “the divine beings saw how beautiful the daughters of men were (and took wives from among those that pleased them)” (ibid. 2).
5  ר’ יהושע בן קרחה אומר: המלאכים אש לוהטים, שנ’ “משרתיו אש לוהט” (תה’ קד:ד).   והאש בא כבעילה בבשר ודם ואינה שורפת את הגוף?  אלא בשעה שנפלו מן השמים ממקום קדושתן, כחן וקומתן כבני אדם, ולבושן גוש עפר, שנ’ “לבש בשרי רמה וגוש עפר” (איוב ז:ה).
5  Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korchah said: The angels are fiery flames, as it is said, “fiery flames are His servants” (Ps 104: 4).  Is it not possible that fire, when joined in sexual relations with flesh and blood, would burn the body?  Rather, when they fell from heaven, from their holy place, their strength and stature (became) like that of humans, and they acquired the clothing of clods of earth, as it says, “My flesh is covered with maggots and clods of earth” (Job 7:5).
6 ר’ צדוק אומר: מהם נולדו הענקים המהלכין] בזדונות [בגובה קומה, ומשלחים ידם בכל גזל וחמס ובשפיכות דמים.  [מניין שמיהם נוצרו הענקים?] דכתיב “ושם ראינו את הנפילים וגו'” (במדבר יג:לג), ואומר “הנפילים היו בארץ” (ברא’ ו:ד).  ]בני ענק מן הנפילים היו].
6  Rabbi Tzadok said: From them the giants (ha-‘Anaqim) were born, who walked about haughtily (בגובה קומה),[21] and engaged in all (kinds of) robbery and violence, and bloodshed. {And how do we know that the giants (ha-‘Anaqim) were born of them}?[22] As it says, “We saw the Nephilim there — (the Anakites are part of the Nephilim — and we looked like grasshoppers to ourselves, and so we must have looked to them)”(Num. 13: 33); and it says, “It was then, that the Nephilim appeared on earth…” (Gen. 6:4).
7  אמר ר’ יהושע בן קרחה: ישראל בני האלהים, שנ’ “בנים אתם לה’ אלהיכם” (דברים יד:א), והמלאכים נקראו בני האלהים, שנ’ “ברן-יחד ככובי בקר ויריעו כל בני אלהים” (איוב לח:ז), ואלו עד שהיו במקום קדושתן נקראו בני אלהים, שנ’ “וגם אחרי-כן אשר יבואו בני אלהים” (בר’ ו:ד).
7 Rabbi Yehoshua said: |The Israelites are called “sons of God,” as it says, “You are children of the Lord your God” (Deut.14:1). The angels are called “sons of God,” as it is said, “When the morning stars sang together, and all the divine beings [Bnei Elohim, lit. sons of God] shouted for joy” ( Job 38:7); while they were still in their holy place in heaven, these were called “sons of God,” as it is said, “It was then, and later too, [that the Nephilim appeared on earth]—when the divine beings [Bnei Elohim, lit. sons of God] cohabited with the daughters of men, [who bore them offspring.  They were the heroes of old, the men of renown]” (Gen. vi. 4).
8א  ר’ לוי אומר: היו מולידין את בניהם ופרין ורבין כמין שרץ גדול, ששה בכל לידה ולידה.   באותה שעה היו עמדים על רגליהן ומדברים בלשון הקדש ומרקדים לפניהם, שנ’ “ישלחו כצאן עויליהם” (איוב כא:יא).
8a Rabbi Levi said: They bore their sons and increased and multiplied like a great reptile, six children at each birth. They (their progeny) immediately stood on their feet, and spoke the holy tongue, and skipped about before them, as it says, “They let their infants run loose like sheep, And their children skip about” (Job 21:11).
8ב  אמר להם נח: שובו מדרכיכם וממעשיכם הרעים שלא יבא עליכם את מי המבול ויכרית כל זרע בני אדם.
8b Noah said to them: Turn from your evil ways and deeds, so that He (God) might not bring upon you the Flood waters, and destroy all the seed of mankind.
8ג  אמרו לו: הרי אנו מונעים עצמנו מפריה ורביה שלא להוציא זרע בני אדם.  מה היו עושין? כשהן באין אצל נשותיהן היו משחיתים מקור זרעם על הארץ, כדי שלא להוציא זרע בני אדם, שנ’ “וירא אלהים את הארץ והנה נשחתה וגו'” (בר’ ו:יב).
8c They said to him: Behold, we will prevent ourselves from multiplying and increasing, so as not to produce the seed of mankind.   What did they do? When they came to their wives they spilled (mashḥitim) the source of their seed upon the earth so as not to produce the seed of mankind, as it is said, “When God saw how corrupt (nishḥata) the earth was…” (Gen.6: 12).
8ד  אמרו: אם מי המבול יבא עלינו, הרי אנו גבוהי קומה ואין המים מגיעים על צוארנו, ואם מי תהומות מעלה עלינו, הרי פרסות רגלינו לסתום את התהומות.
8d They said: If He brings the Flood waters upon us (from the sky), behold, we are tall, and the waters will not reach up to our necks; and if He brings the waters of the depths against us, behold, the soles of our feet can stop up all the depths.
8ה  מה היו עושין?  פושטין כפות רגליהם וסתמו את כל התהומות.
8e What did they do? They put forth the soles of their feet, and closed up all the depths.
8ו  מה עשה הקב”ה? הרתיח מי תהומות, והיו ושולקין את בשרם ופושטין את עורן מעליהם, שנ’ “בעת יזורבו נצמתו בחומו נדעכו ממקומם” (איוב ו:יז), אל תקרי “בחומו” אלא “בחמימו”.
8f What did the Holy One, blessed be He, do? He caused the waters of the deep to boil, and they scalded their flesh, and stripped their skin from off them, as it says, “But when they melt, they disappear; in the heat [be-ḥumo], they vanish from their place” (Job 6:17). Do not read “in the heat” [be-ḥumo], but (read) “in his hot waters” (be-ḥamimo).
– Appendix 2 –‍

Pseudepigrapha (Enoch and Jubilees)
I Enoch  –  The Book of Watchers[23]

(Ch. 6)

1 And it came to pass, when the children of men had multiplied, it happened that there were born unto them handsome and beautiful daughters.
2 And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw them and desired them, and they said to one another: “Come, let us choose wives for ourselves from among the daughters[24] of man and beget us children.”
3 And Semyaz [or Semihaza],[25] being their leader, said unto them: “I fear that perhaps you will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone will become (responsible) for this great sin.”
4 But they all responded to him, “Let us all swear an oath and bind everyone among us by a curse not to abandon this plan but to do the deed.”  Then they all swore together and bound one another by (the curse). [26] (Isaac’s trans., in Charlesworth OTP, 1983 1: 15).

(Ch. 8)

1 And Azazel taught the people (the art of) making swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates; and he showed to their chosen ones[27] bracelets, decorations, (shadowing of the eye) with antimony, ornamentation, the beautifying of the eyelids, all kinds of precious stones, and all colouring tinctures and alchemy[28]
2 And there were many wicked ones, and they committed adultery, and erred, and all their conduct became corrupt.
3 Amasras[29] taught incantation and the cutting of roots; and Armaros the resolving of incantations; Baraqiyal astrology, Kokarer’el (the knowledge of) the signs, and Tam’el taught the seeing of the stars, and Asder’el taught the course of the moon as well as the deception of man.[30]
4 And the people cried and their voice reached unto heaven…(Isaac’s trans., in Charlesworth,OTP 1983 1: 16).[31]

The Book of Jubilees[32]

(Ch. 5)

1 And when the children of men began to multiply on the surface of the Earth and daughters were born to them, that the angels of the Lord saw in a certain year of that jubilee, that they were good to look at; and they took wives for themselves from all those whom they chose, and they bore children for them; and they were giants.  And injustice increased upon the earth, and all flesh corrupted its way; man and cattle and beasts and birds and everything which walks on the earth.  And they all corrupted their way and their ordinances, and they began to eat one another.
2 And injustice grew upon the Earth and every imagination of the thoughts of all mankind was thus continually evil. 3 And the Lord saw the Earth, and behold it was corrupted, and all flesh had corrupted its order, and all who were on the Earth had done every sort of evil in His sight. 4 And He said, “I will wipe out man and all flesh which I have created from upon the surface of the Earth.” 5 But Noah alone found favor in the sight of the Lord.  6 And against His angels whom He had sent to the Earth, He was very angry.  He commanded that they be uprooted from all their dominion, and He told us to bind them in the depths of the Earth…[33]
10 And subsequently they were bound in the depths of the Earth forever, until the day of great judgment in order for judgment to be executed upon all of those who corrupted their ways and their deeds before the Lord. 11 And he wiped out every one from their places and not one of them remained who He did not judge according to all his wickedness  12 And he made for all his works a new and righteous nature so that they might not sin in all their nature forever, and so that they might all be righteous, each in his kind, always. (Wintermute’s trans., in Charlesworth OTP 1985 2: 64-65).

Published

October 7, 2015

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Last Updated

September 19, 2019

Footnotes

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Dr. Rachel Adelman is assistant professor of Hebrew Bible in the rabbinical program at Boston’s Hebrew College. She holds an M.A. in Jewish Studies from the joint Baltimore Hebrew University/Matan Program, and a Ph.D. in Hebrew Literature from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her first book is titled The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha (Brill 2009).