Andrei A. Orlov. Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2011. xv + 201 pp. $75.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-4384-3951-8.
Reviewed by Archie Wright (Regent University)
Published on H-Judaic (October, 2012)
Commissioned by Jason Kalman (Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion)
Reflecting on Opposites
Andrei A. Orlov is a specialist in Jewish apocalypticism and mysticism, Second Temple Judaism, and Old Testament pseudepigrapha. Within the fascinating field of Second Temple Jewish apocalyptic literature, Orlov is considered among the leading experts in the field of Slavonic texts related to Jewish mysticism and Enochic traditions. This volume, Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology, demonstrates his expertise. The book furthers the ongoing discussion in Second Temple Period (2TP) demonology; in particular, it is focused on two of the leading figures, the so-called demonic beings Azazel and Satanael. Orlov explores the mediating role of these paradigmatic celestial rebels in the development of Jewish demonological traditions from Second Temple apocalypticism to later Jewish mysticism. Throughout his discussion, he makes use of lesser-known Jewish pseudepigraphical materials in Slavonic.
Following an introduction titled “Lightless Shadows: Symmetry of Good and Evil in Early Jewish Demonology,” the body of the presentation is divided into two parts with three essays each. Part 1, labeled “Azazel,” includes “‘The Likeness of Heaven’: Kavod of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” “Eschatological Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham: The Scapegoat Ritual,” and “The Garment of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham.” Part 2, labeled “Satanael,” includes “The Watchers of Satanael: The Fallen Angels Traditions in 2 (Slavonic) Enoch,” “Satan and the Visionary: Apocalyptic Roles of the Adversary in the Temptation Narrative of the Gospel of Matthew,” and “The Flooded Arboretums: The Garden Traditions in the Slavonic Version of 3 Baruch and the Book of Giants”; four of the six articles were previously published between 2003 and 2010. The volume includes extensive (inconvenient) endnotes, a bibliography, and a limited index.
Orlov explores the figures of Azazel and Satanael in relation to the so-called symmetrical patterns found in early Jewish apocalyptic literature. He argues for the correspondence of inverse symmetry in which the antagonist and protagonist of various pseudepigrapha, in essence, switch places by taking on particular attributes and conditions of his opposite number. Among his sources, he notes especially that in the Book of the Watchers, the fallen angels and the antediluvian Enoch mirror each other in the exchange of offices, roles, attributes, and even wardrobes (p. 5). In 2 Enoch 22, Enoch receives angelic attire while the fallen Watchers take on human ontological “garments” (cf. 1 En. 86:1-4). Also in the Apocalypse of Abraham 13.7-14, Abraham assumes Azazel’s angelic garment and Azazel takes on Abraham’s garment of sins. Moreover, the fallen angels are transported to the earthly realm, while the righteous Enoch is taken up to heaven to serve in the heavenly temple. Orlov develops his pattern through two traditions, the Adamic, and the Enochic mythologies of evil. He demonstrates that in later traditions, the two evil characters are able to enter into each other’s stories. Satanael becomes the leader of the fallen angels (i.e., Enochic) and Azazel becomes the tempter of Adam and Eve. He argues that the transformation of the adversaries, Azazel and Satanael, often carries cultic significance within priestly and liturgical settings--especially Yom Kippur.
The first essay in part 1 focuses on the figure of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham (AA). Orlov examines Azazel’s attempt to imitate the divine manifestation situated between the two cherubim in the Holy of Holies. Throughout the study, Orlov pays particular attention to the sacerdotal dimensions of this demonology, showing that the peculiar transformations of the adversaries have cultic significance within the liturgical settings of the Jewish tradition (p. 7). He raises the question of whether the author of AA 14 is presenting the fallen angel Azazel with his own “divine” kavod (glory), perhaps as a negative counterpart of the deity. In addition, he notes other portions of AA that contain significant dualistic currents. Michael Stone has argued that chapters 20, 22, and 29 in AA contain references that indicate Azazel and God rule jointly over the world--which may coincide “with the idea that God granted him authority over the wicked”. It is possible, although Orlov does not discuss it, that this is responsible in part for the Christian conception of the two kingdoms--Satan’s and the Divine. However, Orlov does note that the author of AA may be intentionally hiding details of Azazel (p. 17). He is clearly a figure of authority, but the author does not intend to “fully match” the attributes of Azazel with those of the deity--it is only a temporary role in an eschatological opposition.
In the second essay of part 1, Orlov examines the “Eschatological Yom Kippur in the Apocalypse of Abraham: The Scapegoat Ritual.” Drawing on Leviticus 16, he explores the sacerdotal dimension of Azazel as the scapegoat. In AA, Azazel resembles both the sacrificial goat of Leviticus and a fallen angel from the Enochic Watcher tradition. Here Azazel exchanges his “angelic” status for the sins of Abraham, thus allowing Abraham to enter the heavenly Temple. Orlov argues that AA exhibits a great deal of influence from the Enochic tradition, in particular 1 Enoch 10:4-7, in which Azazel is bound and thrown into the darkness and covered with sharp stones. He suggests, as do others, that this scene is tied to the scapegoat imagery of Leviticus 16--i.e., the goat is sent out to the “demon” in the wilderness. However, Orlov fails to discuss the ongoing debate as to what exactly “Azazel” is in the Day of Atonement narrative--goat, demon, or the wilderness.
In the third essay of part 1, “The Garment of Azazel in the Apocalypse of Abraham,” Orlov describes how the angelic garment of Azazel is placed on Abraham (as Azazel has lost his status) and he is allowed to enter the celestial Holy of Holies (p. 48). In the story, the angel Yahoel is identified as the High Priest of the sanctuary and Abraham is made his apprentice. Orlov argues this episode once again demonstrates the inverse symmetry that he suggests runs through AA. Because of this symmetry “both positive and negative characters progress into the respective realms of their eschatological opponents” (p. 49). In doing so, Orlov contends, they often assume the roles and offices of their counterparts. If AA 13:7-14 is describing Abraham taking on the heavenly office of Azazel, one must ask what office Azazel is taking over on the earth. Interestingly, the handing over of the angelic garment may be considered symbolic of the return of humanity to its original state in the Garden (p. 50). Orlov offers significant support from other Jewish texts to support this theory (see. e.g.. Targum Ps. Jon on Gen. 3:21; Gen. Rabbah 20; Armenian LAE 12:1–16:2; Philo, De Mut 43-44; De Somn 2.28 [pp. 55-58]). He does address the transformation of the antagonist (Azazel and later Satan) in the earthly realm. He changes into a hybrid form of an angel and a serpent during the temptation in the Garden; similarly, the Satan figure transforms into a serpent, also in the Garden. In both cases, the changes in form are considered “garments” by Orlov. In addition, he offers further explanation as to how the deception of Eve takes place due to this transformation (pp. 70-76).
Part 2 of the volume begins with the essay titled “The Watchers of Satanael: The Fallen Angels Traditions in 2 Enoch.” In this essay, Orlov describes Satanael switching to or taking on characteristics of Azazel. His primary source for this discussion is 2 Enoch. He points out how the author of 2 Enoch draws on the Watcher tradition of 1 Enoch, but this should not be a surprise. However, the author does take the liberty of changing the roles of characters. Here we find the Satanael figure taking on the role of leader of the fallen angels held by Shemihazah and Asa’el in 1 Enoch. Orlov argues that this is an intentional effort by the author to bring the Adamic myth into focus (p. 86), although this point seems a bit forced. In 2 Enoch, Adam is originally presented as an angelic being who was predestined by God to be ruler of the earth. However, due to the Fall, Enoch, as the second Adam, is to regain the original state of the first Adam and restore humanity to its proper place as ruler of the world (not the Satan figure). As a result, Orlov argues that in 2 Enoch we find the mix of the two prominent “mythologies of evil,” which permits them to be taken up in rabbinic and patristic writings (p. 87). He offers further evidence from 2 Enoch 7 and 18, which suggest connections to the Enochic and Adamic “mythologies of evil” (pp. 88-106).
The second essay in part 2 deals with Satan’s roles and actions during the trial of Jesus in the wilderness. Here we find Satan assuming the role of a transporting (psychopomp) and interpreting angel (angelus interpres). Perhaps the most interesting portion of this essay deals with the request by Satan that Jesus venerate him. Orlov sees similar actions at play in Exodus 24:18 (Moses) and 1 Kings 19:8 (Elijah), in which both these figures observe a forty-day fast that ends with an episode on a mountain, similar to what we see in the wilderness trial pericope. The author may, therefore, be indicating that Satan is placing himself in the place of God in the Moses and Elijah scenes, again demonstrating Orlov’s inverse symmetry. We also may see here that Satan setting Jesus upon the pinnacle of the Temple (Pesiqta Rabbati states that when the Messiah comes he will appear on the pinnacle of the Temple) is an attempt to get Jesus to descend from his appointed office, just as the Watchers descended from heaven in 1 Enoch and lost their divinely appointed positions. The third essay in part 2 is somewhat less convincing for Orlov’s inverse symmetry theme. Although some parallels certainly can be identified between 3 Baruch and the Enochic and Noachic traditions (p. 114), it is more difficult to recognize the exchange of positions or characteristics of the primary characters.
Orlov has presented an intriguing investigation of what he calls the symmetrical patterns of early Jewish demonology. Dark Mirrors is certainly a text that should be read by scholars with an interest in demonology, the “Fall in the Garden,” and the Watcher tradition in various early Jewish and Christian texts, among other topics. Orlov has succeeded in producing a well-written and closely argued account that will serve as a fine resource in early Jewish and Christian literature for years to come.
. Michael Stone, ed., Jewish Writings of the Second Temple Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo, Josephus (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1984), 418.
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If there is additional discussion of this review, you may access it through the network, at: https://networks.h-net.org/h-judaic.
Archie Wright. Review of Orlov, Andrei A., Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology.
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