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Istahar ascending to heaven (1)

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01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

01 Religious and ideological doctrines and imagery

6th century CE
10th century CE
Abbasid Empire
Aramaic culture
Islamic philosophers and scholars

Midrash Abkir, Genesis Rabbah 8.5:
Rabbi Joseph was asked by his pupils, “What is Azazel?” He said: “When the generation of the deluge arose and served idols, the Holy One blessed be He, was grieved. Immediately two angels arose, Shemhazai and Azael … They said (to the Lord of the Universe): “Give us leave, let us dwell with the creatures and Thou wilt see how we shall sanctify Thy name.” He said “Descend and dwell with them.” At once they corrupted themselves with the daughters of man who were beautiful, and were unable to subdue their desire. Immediately Shemhazai saw one girl, whose name was Istahar. He set his eyes on her and said: “Grant my desire!” She replied: “I will not grant it until thou teach me the Shem Hammeforash, by means of which thou ascendest to heaven, at the moment thou pronouncest it.” He thought her that name, she pronounced it, ascended to heaven, without having sinned. The Holy One blessed be He, said: “Because she has kept herself far from sin, go ye and fix her among the seven stars in order that she may be mentioned among them for ever. An she was fixed in Pleiades.

al-Balkhi, The Book of the Creation and History (ed. Huart) 3.15ff.:
The Moslems tell the history of Harut and Marut in diverse versions. Certain legend-tellers relate that when God the most High wished to create Adam He said to the angels: “I am going to place a substitute on earth.” They replied: “Wilt thou place there one who will do evil therein and shed blood, while we celebrate Thy praises and sanctify thee?” When Adam was created and his posterity began to do injury to one another, the angels said: “Are these those whom Thou hast chosen as vicars on earth?” God commanded them to take three of the best among them to send them down for the purpose of bringing man to truth. They did so. It has been said that a woman came to them and seduced the messengers. They drank wine, killed living beings and worshipped creatures besides God; they taught the woman the Name by which they ascended to heaven. She ascended by means of it and was changed into a star, to wit, our Venus. It is added that the angels were given choice between punishment in this and the future world. They chose the former, hence they are suspended by the hair in a pit in the land of Babel. The magicians go out to find them and though them inform themselves of the art of magic.

Sources (list of abbreviations)
Midrash Abkir, Genesis Rabbah 8.5
al-Balkhi, The Book of the Creation and History 3.15ff

Amar Annus

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