Legends of Old Testament Characters/Chapter 11

XI.

THE GIANTS.

THE Giants, say the Cabbalists, arose thus.

Aza and Azael, two angels of God, complained to the Most High at the creation of man, and said, "Why hast Thou made man who will anger Thee?"

But God answered, "And you, O angels, if you were in the lower world, you, too, would sin." And He sent them on earth, and then they fell, as says the Book of Genesis, "And it came to pass that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair, and they took them wives of all which they chose." After they had sinned, they were given bodies of flesh; for an angel who spends seven days on earth becomes opaque and substantial. And when they had been clothed with flesh and with a corrupt nature, then they spake the word "Shem hamphorasch," and sought to regain their former place, but could not; and were cast out into mountains, there to dwell. From these angels descend the sons of the giants and the Anakim, and from their seed also spring the devils.[1] The Rabbi Eliezer says that the giants sprang from the union of the angels with the daughters of Cain, who walked about in immodest clothing and cast their eyes around with bold glances. And the book Zeena-ureena, in the Parascha Chykkath, says that Og sprang from this connection, and that Sammael, the angel, was the parent of Og, but that Sihon was the son of the same angel who deceived the wife of Ham when she was about to enter the ark.[2]

The account in the Book of Enoch is as follows:—

"Hear and fear not, Enoch, thou righteous man, and writer of righteousness, come hither and hear my words: Go speak unto the Watchers of Heaven, and say unto them, Ye shall pray for men and not men for you. Why have ye forsaken the high and holy and eternal heaven, and have joined yourselves to women, and polluted yourselves with the daughters of men, and have taken to you wives, and have become the fathers of a giant race? Ye, who were spiritual, holy, and enjoying eternal life, have corrupted yourselves with women, and have become parents of children with flesh and blood; lusting after the blood of men, ye have brought forth flesh and blood, like those who are mortal and perishable. Because men die, therefore did I give unto them wives, that they might have sons, and perpetuate their generation. But ye are spiritual and in the enjoyment of eternal life. Therefore gave I not to you wives, for heaven is the abode of the spirits. And now the giants, who are born of flesh and blocd, shall become evil spirits, and their dwelling shall be on the earth. Bad beings shall proceed from them. Because they have been generated from above, from the holy Watchers have they received their origin, therefore shall they be evil spirits on the earth, and evil spirits shall they be called. And the spirits of the giants, which mount upon the clouds, will fail and be cast down, and do violence, and cause ruin on the earth and injury; they shall not eat, they shall not thirst, and they shall be invisible."[3]

Among the Oriental Christians it is said, that Adam having related to the children of Seth the delights of Paradise, several of them desired to recover the lost possession. They retired to Mount Hermon and dwelt there in the fear of the Lord; living in great austerity, in hope that their penitence would recover Eden. But the Canaanites dwelt round them on all sides, and the sons of Seth, becoming tired of celibacy, took the daughters of the Canaanites to wife, and to them were born the giants.[4]

Others say that the posterity of the patriarch Seth were those called the "Sons of God," because they lived on Mount Hermon in familiar discourse with the angels. On this mountain they fed only on the fruit of the earth, and their sole oath was, "By the blood of Abel."[5]

Among the giants was Surkrag, of whom we have already related a few particulars. He was not of the race of men, nor of the posterity of Adam. According to the Mussulman account he was commander of the armies of Soliman Tchaghi, who reigned over the earth before the time of Gian ben Gian, who succeeded him and reigned seven thousand years. The whole earth was then in the power of the Jins. Gian ben Gian erected the pyramids of Egypt.

Surkrag obeyed God, and followed the true religion, and would not suffer his subject Jins to insult or maltreat the descendants of Adam. He reigned on Mount Kaf, and allied himself, according to Persian authorities, with Kaïumarth, the first king of the world, whom some Persian writers identify with Adam, but others suppose to be the son of Mahalaleel, and cotemporary with Enoch. Ferdusi, the author of the Schah-Nâmeh, speaks of him as the first who wore a crown and sat on a throne, and imposed a tribute on his subjects. He says that this monarch lived a thousand years, and reigned five hundred and fifty years. He was the first to teach men to build houses.

But if Kaïumarth was the first man to reign, he was the first also to weary of it; for he abdicated his sovereignty and retired into his former abode, a cave, after having surrendered his authority to his son Siamek. Siamek having been killed, Kaïumarth re-ascended his throne to revenge his death. After having recovered the body of his son, he buried him with great honours, and kindled over his grave a great fire, which was kept perpetually burning, and this originated the worship of fire among the people of Iran.

Kaïumarth overcame the giant Semendoun, who had a hundred arms; his son, Huschenk, also overcame a giant who had three heads, mounted on an animal with twelve legs. This animal, named Rakhsche, was found by him in the Dog Isle, or the New Continent, and was born of the union of a crocodile and an hippopotamus, and it fed on the flesh of serpents. Having mastered this beast, Huschenk overcame the Mahisers, which have heads of fish and are of great ferocity. After having extended his conquests to the extremities of the earth, Huschenk was crushed to death by a mass of rock which the giants, his mortal enemies, hurled against him.[6]

According to Tabari, Huschenk was the son of Kaïumarth, who was the son of Mahalaleel. He was the first man to cut down trees and to make boards, and fashion them into doors to close the entrance to houses. He also discovered many precious stones, such as the topaz and the jacinth. He reigned four hundred years.[7]

He was succeeded by Tahmourath, who taught men to saddle and bridle horses; he was also the first man to write in Persian characters; he figures as a great hero in Iranian fable. According to the story in Persia, he was carried by the Simorg to the mountain of Kaf. Now the Simorg is a wondrous bird, speaking all languages, and eminently religious.

According to the Kaherman Nâmeh, the bird Simorg, being asked its age, replied, "This world has been seven times peopled, and seven times made void of living beings. The generation of Adam, in which we now are, will last seven thousand years, which form a cycle, and I have seen twelve of these revolutions. How many more I shall see is unknown to me."

The same book informs us that the Simorg was a great friend of the race of Adam, and a great enemy to the demons and Jins. He knew Adam personally, and had done obeisance to him, and enjoyed the same religion as our first fathers. He foretold to Tahmourath all that was to take place in the world, and plucking from his bosom some feathers, he presented them to him, and from that time all great captains and men of war wear feather crests.

Tahmourath having been transported by the bird to the mountains of Kaf, he assisted the Peris, who were at war with the Jins. Argenk, the giant, finding that the Peris were gaining the mastery, with the assistance of Tahmourath, sent an embassy desiring peace; but the ambassador, Imlain, abandoned the party of the Jins and assisted Tahmourath to obtain complete mastery in the mountains of Kaf, and to overcome not only the giant Argenk, but also Demrusch, a far more terrible monster. Demrusch lived in a cavern guarding a vast treasure, which he had amassed in Persia and India. He had also carried off the Peri Mergian. Tahmourath slew Demrusch and released Mergian.

According to the Persian story, Tahmourath was the first to cultivate rice, and to nourish silk-worms in the province of Tabristan.[8]

To return to Tabari.

Djemschid was the brother of Tahmourath; he was the first man to forge arms, and he is probably to be identified with Tubal-cain. He introduced also the use of pigments, and he discovered pearls, and also to dig for lime, vermilion, and quicksilver; he likewise compounded scents, and cultivated flowers. He divided all men into four classes,—soldiers, scribes, agriculturists, and artisans. At the head of all he placed the learned, that they might guide the affairs of men, and set them their tasks and instruct them in what they were to do.

Then Djemschid asked the wise men, "What must a king do to secure his throne?"

They answered, "He must reign in equity."

Consequently, Djemschid instituted justice; and he sat the first day of every month with his wise men, and ministered righteous judgments. For seven hundred years he continued this practice; and in all that time no rebellion broke out, no afflictions troubled him, nor was his reign in any way menaced.

One day, whilst Djemschid was taking his siesta alone in his chamber, Eblis entered by the window, and Djemschid asked, "Who art thou?" Now he thought he was one of those who waited without till he should come forth to administer justice. Eblis entered into conversation with Djemschid, and said, "I am an angel, and I have descended from heaven to give thee counsel."

"What counsel dost thou offer?" asked the king.

Eblis replied, "Tell me, who art thou?"

He answered, "I am one of the sons of Adam."

"Thou mistakest," said the Evil One: "thou art not a man. Consider, since thou hast reigned, has anything failed thee? Hast thou suffered any affliction, any loss, any revolt? If thou wert a son of Adam, sorrow would be thy lot. Nay, verily, thou art a god!"

"And what sign canst thou show me of my divinity?"

"I am an angel. Mortal man cannot behold an angel, and live."

Then he vanished. Djemschid fell into the snare of pride.

Next day he caused a great fire to be lighted, and he called together all men and said to them, "I am a god, worship me; I created heaven above and earth beneath; and those that refuse to adore me shall be consumed in the fire."

Then from fear of him many obeyed; and the same hour revolt broke out.

There was a man named Beyourasp who stirred up the people, and led a great army against Djemschid, and overcame him, and took from him his kingdom, and sawed the king asunder from the head to the feet.[9]

  1. Nischmath Chajim, fol. 116, col. i.
  2. Eisenmenger, i. p. 380.
  3. Das Buch Henoch, von Dillmann, Leipz. 1853, c. xv. p. 9.
  4. Abulfaraj, p. 6.
  5. Eutych., Patriarcha Alex., Annales ab Orbe Condito, Arabice et Lat., ed. Selden; London, 1642, i. p. 19.
  6. D'Herbelot, s. v. Surkrag and Kaïumarth.
  7. Tabari, c. xxxvii.
  8. D'Herbelot, s. v. Tahmourath.
  9. Tabari, caps. xxxix. xl.