Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology.

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.
[Tonan] Fwd: H-Net Review Publication: Wright on Orlov, Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology

Reviewed by Archie Wright (Regent University)
Published on H-Judaic (October, 2012)
Commissioned by Jason Kalman

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

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”.[1] 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

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.

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

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.


[1]. Michael Stone, ed., _Jewish Writings of the Second Temple
Period: Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Qumran Sectarian Writings, Philo,
Josephus _(Assen: Van Gorcum, 1984), 418.

Citation: Archie Wright. Review of Orlov, Andrei A., _Dark Mirrors:
Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology_. H-Judaic, H-Net
Reviews. October, 2012.
URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=35007