If thou wilt give us leave, and we shall dwell amongst them, thou
shalt see in what wise we shall sanctify thy name. Go then, he said,
and dwell amongst them.
Soon after, Shamhazai saw a beautiful maiden called Esther, and turning his eyes upon
her to come and be with him, she said, I cannot surrender myself to thee until thou
teach me that great name by which thou canst ascend to the heavens above. He told
her, and she having spoken it, ascended upwards undefiled. Then said the Holy
One, Since she hath kept herself clear from defilement, she shall be raised
aloft amid the Seven Stars, there to give praise unto the Lord. Forthwith the
two went forth and consorted with the beautiful daughters of men, and children
were born unto them. And Azael adorned the women he was inclined to with all kinds
of beautiful ornaments.
[Azrael is the same as in the Talmud is called Azael].
Now anyone comparing the two stories together, must see that they agree,
excepting that in the Muslim one the angels are called Hārūt and Mārūt,
and in the Jewish, Shamhazai and Azael. But if we search whence
the names in the Qur'an and Tradition came, it will be seen
that Hārūt and Mārūt were two idols worshipped far back in Armenia.
For in writers of that country they are so spoken of, as in the
following passage from one of them:—
Certainly Horot and Morot, tutelary deities of mount Ararat, and Aminabegh,
and perhaps others now not known, were Assistants to the female goddess
Aspandaramīt. These aided her, and were excellent on the earth.
In this extract, Aspandaramīt is the name of the goddess worshipped of old in
Iran also; for we are told that the Zoroastrians regarded her as the Spirit of
the Earth, and held that all the good products of the earth arise from her.
Aminabegh also was held by the
Armenians to be the god of vineyards, and they named Horot and Morot the
assistants of the Spirit of the Earth, seeing that they held them as spirits who
had control over the wind so as to make it bring rain. They sat on the top of
the lofty mountain Ararat, and sent down showers that fertilised the earth; the
two were thus rulers of the wind.1 The Armenians, fancying that Morot came
from Mor, genitive of Mair, "Mother," - formed Horot in the same way
from Hair, "Father." When also it is said that the two angels came
down to propagate mankind, the meaning is that they caused the earth to bring
forth its produce for that end. Zohra in Hebrew reads as Ishtar or Esther, the
same as of old was worshipped in Babylon and Syria as the goddess over the birth
of children and promoter of passion and desire. In proof of all this, we find in
the ruins between the Tigris and Euphrates the name Ishtar on the primeval
tiles. The story of one Gilgamish, with whom Ishtar fell in love but was
rejected, has been decyphered in ancient Babylonian character upon these tiles.
Ishtar came to him having the crown upon her head and asked him to kiss her, and
with many loving words and gifts to be her husband, when he would in her Palace
have a quiet and happy life. Gilgamish in derision rejected her offer, whereupon
she ascended to the sky and appeared before the God of the heavens.2 It is
remarkable that the idolators