(1) R. Joseph was (once) asked what was the story of Semhazai and
Aza'eI, and he replied: When the generation of Enosh arose and practiced idolatry and when
the generation of the Flood arose and corrupted their actions, the Holy One-Blessed be
He-was grieved that He had created man, as it is said, "And God repented that he
created man, and He was grieved at heart.
(2) Forthwith arose two angels, whose names were Semhazai and Aza'el, and said before
Him: "0 Lord of the universe, did we not say unto Thee when Thou didst create Thy
world, 'Do not create man'?", as it is said, "What is man that Thou shouldst
remember him?". The Holy One-Blessed be He-said to them: "Then what shall
become of the world?" They said before Him. ''We wilt suffice' (Thee) instead of it.'
(3) He said. ''It is revealed and (well known to me that if peradventure you had lived
in that (earthly) world, the evil inclination would have ruled you just as much as it
rules over the sons of man, but you would be more stubborn than they." They said
before Him. "Give us Thy sanction and let us descend (and dwell) among the creatures
and then Thou shalt see how we shall sanctify Thy name" He said to them.
"Descend and dwell ye among them."
Forthwith the Holy One allowed the evil inclination to rule over them, as soon as
they descended. When they beheld the daughters of man that they were beautiful they began
to corrupt themselves with them, as it is said, "Then the sons of God saw the
daughters of man", they could not restrain their inclination.
(5) Forthwith Semhazai beheld a girl whose name was 'Esterah; fixing
his eyes at her he said: "Listen to my (request)." But she said to him: "I
will not listen to thee until thou teachest me the Name by which thou art enabled to
ascend to the firmament, as soon as Thou dost mention it." He taught her the
What did she do? She mentioned It and thereby ascended to the firmament. The Holy
One said; "Since she has departed from sin, go and set her among the stars.'' It is
she who shines brightly in the midst of the seven stars of the Pleiades; so that she may
always be remembered, forthwith the Holy One fixed her among the Pleiades.
(7) When Semazai and Aza'eI saw this they took to them wives, and
begat children. Semhazai begat two children, whose names were Heyya and 'Aheyya. And
Aza'el was appointed chief over all kinds of dyes and over all kinds of women's ornaments
by which they entice men to unclean thoughts of sin.
(8) Forthwith Metatron sent a messenger to Semhazai and said to him: "The Holy One
is about to destroy His world, and bring upon it a flood." Semhazai stood up and
raised his voice and wept aloud, for he was sorely troubled about his sons and (his own)
iniquity. And he said: "How shall my children live and what shall become of my
children. for each one of them eats daily a thousand camels, a thousand horses, a thousand
oxen, and all kinds (of animals)?"
(9) One night the sons of Semhazai, Heyya and 'Aheyya, saw (visions)
in dream, and both of them saw dreams. One saw a great stone spread over the earth like a
table, the whole of which was written over with lines (of writing). And an angel (was seen
by him) descending from the firmament with a knife in his hand and be was erasing and
obliterating all the lines, save one line with four words upon it,
(10) The other (son) saw a garden, planted whole with (many) kinds of trees and (many)
kinds of precious stones. And an angel (was seen by him) descending from the firmament
with an axe in his hand, and he was cutting down all the trees, so that there remained
only one tree containing three branches.
(11) When they awoke from their sleep they arose in confusion, and, going to their
father, they related to him the dreams. He said to them: "'The Holy One is about to
bring a flood upon the world, and to destroy it so that there will remain but one man and
his three sons," They (thereupon) cried in anguish and wept, saying, "What shall
become of us and how shall our names be perpetuated?" He said to them: "Do not
trouble yourselves, for your names. Heyya and 'Aheyya, will never cease from the mouths of
creatures, because every time that men will be raising (heavy) stones or boats, or
anything similar, they will shout and call your names." With this their tempers
(12) What did Semhazai do? He repented and suspended himself between
heaven and earth head downwards and feet upwards, because he was not allowed to open his
mouth before the Holy One-Blessed be He-, and he still hangs between heaven and earth.
(13) Aza'el (however) did not repent. And he is appointed chief over all kinds of dyes
which entice man to commit sin and he still continues to corrupt them.
(14) Therefore, when the Israelites used to bring sacrifices on the day of atonement,
they cast one lot for the Lord that it might atone for the iniquities of the Israelites,
and one lot for Aza'el that he might bear the burden of Israel's iniquity. This is the
Aza'el that is mentioned in the Scripture.