SHAMḤAZAI (or Shamaḥzai, from "Shamayḥazai" = seizer of the heaven):

Name of a fallen angel. According to Targ. pseudo-Jonathan on Gen. vi. 4, "nefilim" (A. V. "giants") denotes the two angels Shamḥazai and his companion Uzzael orAzael, who fell from heaven and dwelt on earth "in those days," that is, at the time of the Flood. The legend of the fall of these two angels is narrated in a midrash as follows: When God became angry at the children of men because of their idolatry in the time before the Flood, the two angels Shamḥazai and Azael arose and said: "Lord of the world, said we not unto Thee at the foundation of the world, 'Man is not worthy that thou shouldst be mindful of him'?" God answered them: "It is plain and manifest to me that if ye should dwell on earth, evil passion would rule you, and ye would be still baser than they." Thereupon the angels besought permission to live among mankind and to hallow the name of God upon earth. This was granted them; but when they had descended from heaven to earth, they could not restrain their infatuation for the beautiful daughters of men. Shamḥazai became enamored of a maiden named Isṭar; but when he asked her to return his love, she declared that she would do so only on condition that he reveal to her the name of God ("Shem ha-Meforash"), by which he was able to ascend to heaven. When, however, he revealed the name to her, she uttered it, and at once ascended to the sky. The baffled Shamḥazai married another woman; by her he had a son named Ḥiya or Aḥiyah, who became the father of Sihon and Og.

When Shamḥazai heard that God was about to bring the Flood upon the world, he was in agony for his children's sake, and for penance suspended himself head downward from the sky, remaining in this position between heaven and earth (Midr. Abkir, in Yalḳ., Gen. 44; Jellinek, "B. H." iv. 127-128).

According to the Book of Enoch, Semyaza, as Shamḥazai is there called, did not descend to hallow the name of God on earth, but fell, together with Azael and his host of 200 angels, because of his infatuation for the daughters of men. He was therefore bound by Michael at the command of God, and lies in prison beneath the mountains; there he will remain until the day of judgment, when punishment will be measured out to him and to his companions (ib. vi. 3 et seq., x. 10 et seq.).

W. B. J. Z. L.
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