Page images
PDF
EPUB

according to the Jews, he lived in the seventh generation before the Deluge: but as Seth, still more ancient than he, had left books to the Hebrews, they might boast of having some from Enoch also. According to them, Enoch wrote as follows:

“ It happened, after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful.

“ And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamoured of them, saying to each other, Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny

of

men, and let us beget children. “ Then their leader Samyaza said to them-I fear that you may perhaps be indisposed to the performance of this enterprise;

“ And that I alone shall suffer for so grievous a crime.

“ But they answered him and said—We all swear;

" And bind ourselves by mutual execrations, that we will not change our intention, but execute our projected undertaking.

“ Then they swore all together, and all bound themselves by mutual execrations. Their whole number was two hundred, who descended upon Ardis, which is the top of Mount Armon.

“ That mountain, therefore, was called Armon, because they had sworn upon it, and bound themselves by mutual execrations.

6. These are the names of their chiefs: Samyaza, who was their leader, Urakabarameel, Akabeel, Tamiel, Ramuel, Danel, Azkeel, Sarakuyal, Asael, Armers, Batraal, Anane, Zavebe, Samsaveel, Ertael, Turel, Yomyael, Arazyal. These were the prefects of the two hundred angels, and the remainder were all with them.

“ Then they took wives, each choosing for himself; whom they began to approach, and with whom they cohabited'; teaching them sorcery, incantations, and the dividing of roots and trees.

“ And the women, conceiving, brought forth giants; “Whose stature was each three hundred cubits," &e. The author of this fragment writes in the style which Beems to belong to the primitive ages. He has the same simpļicity. He does not fail to name the persons, · nor does he forget the dates; here are no reflections, no maxims. It is the ancient Oriental manner.

It is evident that this story is founded on the sixth ehapter of Genesis : “ There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Genesis and the book of Enoch perfectly agree respecting the coupling of the angels with the daughters of men, and the race of giants which sprung from this union; but neither this Enoch, nor any book of the Old Testament, speaks of the war of the angels against God, or of their defeat, or of their fall into hell, or of their hatred to mankind.

Nearly all the commentators on the Old Testament 'unanimously say, that before the Babylonian captivity, the Jews knew not the name of any angel. The one that appeared to Manoah, father of Sampson, would not tell his name.

When the three angels appeared to Abraham, and he had a whole calf dressed to regale them, they did not tell him their names. One of them said, “I will come to see thee next year, if God grant me life; and Sarah thy wife shall have a son.'

Calmet discovers a great affinity between this story and the fable which Ovid relates in his Fasti, of Jupiter, Neptune and Mercury, who, having supped with old Hyreus, and finding that he was afflicted with impotence, urined upon the skin of a calf which he had served up to them, and ordered him to bury this hide watered with celestial urine in the ground, and leave it there for nine months. At the end of the nine months, Hyreus uncovered his hide, and found in it a child, which was named Orion, and is now in the heavens. Calmet moreover says, that the words which the angels used to Abraham

may

be rendered thus ; A child shall be born of your

calf. Be this as it may, the angels did not tell Abraham their names; they did not even tell them to Moses;

[ocr errors]

and we find the name of Raphael only in Tobit, at the time of the Captivity. The other names of angels are evidently taken from the Chaldeans and the Persians. Raphael, Gabriel, Uriel, &c., are Persian or Babylonian. The name of Israel itself is Chaldean; as the learned Jew Philo expressly says, in the account of his deputation to Caligula.

We shall not here repeat what has been elsewhere said of angels. Whether the Greeks and the Romans admitted the Exis

tence of Angels. They had gods and demi-gods enow to dispense with all other subaltern beings. Mercury executed the commissions of Jupiter, and Iris those of Juno; nevertheless they admitted genii and demons. The doctrine of guardian angels was versified by Hesiod, who was cotemporary with Homer, In his poem of The Works and Days, he thus explains it

When Gods alike and mortals rose to birth,
A golden race the immortals formed on earth
Of many-languaged men; they lived of old,
When Saturn reigned in heaven-an age of gold.
Like Guds they lived, with calm untroubled mind,
Free from the toil and anguish of our kind.
Nor sad decrepid age approaching nigh,
Their limbs misshaped with swoln deformity.
Strangers to ill, they Nature's banqnet proved,
Rich in eartb's fruits, and of the blest beloved :
They sank to death, as opiate slumber stole
Soft'o'er the sense, and whelmed the willing soul.
Theirs was each good : the grain-exuberant soil
Poured the full harvest, uncompelled by toil:
The virtuous many dwelt in common, blest,
And all unenvying shared what all in peace possessed.
When on this race the verdant earth had lain,
By Jove's high will they rose a Genii train :
Earth-wandering dæmons, they their charge began,
The ministers of good and guards of man:
Veiled witb a mantle of aërial night,
O’er earth's wide space they wing their hovering flight;
Dispense the fertile treasures of the ground,
And bend their all-observant glance around;
To mark the deed unjust, the just approve,
Their kingly office, delegate from Jove.

Elton's Translation,

The farther we search into antiquity, the more we see how modern nations have by turns explored these now almost abandoned mines. The Greeks, who so long passed for inventors, imitated Egypt, which had copied from the Chaldeans, who owed almost every thing to the Indians. The doctrine of the guardian angels, so well sung by Hesiod, was afterwards sophisticated in the schools: it was all that they were capable of doing. Every man had his good and his evil genius, as each one had his particular star

Est genius natale comes qui temperat astrum. Socrates, we know, had a good angel; but his bad angel must have governed bim. No angel but an evil one could prompt a philosopher to run from house to house, to tell people, by question and answer, that father and mother, preceptor and pupil, were all ignorant and imbecile. A guardian angel in that event will find it very difficult to save his protégé from the hemlock.

We are acquainted only with the evil angel of Marcus Brutus, which appeared to him before the battle of Philippi.

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

The doctrine of Angels is one of the oldest in the world. It preceded that of the Immortality of the Soul. This is not surprising: philosophy is necessary to the belief that the soul of mortal man is immortal; but imagination and weakness are sufficient for the invention of beings superior to ourselves, protecting or persecuting us. Yet it does not appear that the ancient Egyptians had any notion of these celestial beings, clothed with an ethereal body, and administering to the orders of a God. The ancient Babylonians were the first who admitted this theology. The Hebrew books employ the angels from the first book of Genesis downwards: but the book of Genesis was not written before the Chaldeans had become a powerful nation; nor was it until the captivity of Babylon that the Jews learned the names of Gabriel, Raphael, Michael, Uriel,

&c. which were given to the angels. The Jewish and Christian religions being founded on the fall of Adam, and this fall being founded on the temptation by the evil angel, the Devil, it is very singular that not a word is said in the Pentateuch of the existence of the bad angels, still less of their punishment and their abode in hell.

The reason of this omission is evident: the evil angels were unknown to the Jews until the Babylonian captivity; then it is that Asmodeus begins to be talked of, whom Raphael went to bind in Upper Egypt; there it is that the Jews first hear of Satan. This word Satan was Chadelan; and the book of Job, an inhabitant of Chaldea, is the first that makes mention of him,

The ancient Persians said that Satan was an angel or genius who had made war upon the Pives and the Peris, that is, the Fairies of the East.

Thus, according to the ordinary rules of probability, those who are guided by reason alone might be per. mitted to think, that, from this theology, the Jews and Christians at length took the idea that the evil angels had been driven out of heaven, and that their prince had tempted Eve in the form of a serpent.

It has been pretended that Isaiah, in his fourteenth chapter, had this allegory in view when he said : Quomodo occidisti de cælo, Lucifer, qui mane oriebaris ? “ How hast thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning ?"

: It was this same Latin verse, translated from Isaiah, which procured for the Devil the name of Lucifer. It was forgotten that Lucifer signifies that which sheds light. The words of Isaiah, too, have received as little attention: he is speaking of the dethroned king of Babylon; and, by a common figure of speech, he says to him: How hast thou fallen from heaven, thou brilliant star?

It does not at all appear that Isaiah sought, by this stroke of rhetoric, to establish the doctrine of the angels precipitated into hell. It was scarcely before the time of the primitive Christian church that the fathers and the rabbis exerted themselves to encourage this doctrine, in order to save the incredibility of the story

« EelmineJätka »