Uzza and Aza'el

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UZZA AND AZA'EL , heroes of a medieval tale based on the biblical story of the Nephilim (cf. Gen. 6:4), which was developed in the second century b.c.e. in the Book of *Enoch.

According to the medieval story, Uzza and Aza'el were two angels who set out to prove man's wickedness before God, and they sinned with mortal women. One girl, Istehar, succeeded in escaping by compelling them to reveal to her the sacred name which they invoked when they went up to heaven; and she used it and became a star. The two sons of Uzza and Aza'el, Ḥiwwa and Ḥiyya, died in the Flood; Uzza and Aza'el themselves were exiled by God but they are still alive, and are responsible for some of the evils of this world: they teach sorcery, and they show women how to make themselves beautiful to men.

The legend, which is part of the general revival of Second Temple period literature in medieval Hebrew prose, was adapted by the Kabbalah; the Zohar gives a long account of it, introducing in addition a number of special kabbalistic meanings. Some manuscripts of magic, the Havdalah de-Rabbi Akiva for example, use the names of the two angels in magical formulae.


Ginzberg, Legends, 1 (1961), 147–51; A. Jellinek, Beit ha-Midrash (1938), 127f.; I. Tishby, Mishnat ha-Zohar, 1 (1949), 471–3. add. bibliography: A.Y. Reed, in: Jewish Studies Quarterly, 8: 2 (2001), 105–36; G. Stemberger, in: A. Lange et al. (eds.), Die Daemonen (2003), 636–61.

[Joseph Dan]