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Short description: Fallen angel in various traditions
The Sons of God Saw the Daughters of Men That They Were Fair, sculpture by Daniel Chester French, c. 1923

Samyaza (Hebrew: שמחזי‎; Aramaic: שמיחזה‎; Greek: Σεμιαζά; Arabic: ساميارس, Samiarus[1][2]), also Shemhazai, Azza, Uzza, or Ouza, is a fallen angel of apocryphal Abrahamic traditions and Manichaeism who ranked in the heavenly hierarchy as the leader of the Watchers.


The name "Shemyaza(z)" means "the (or my) name has seen," "he sees the name," or "I have seen." It is also spelled "Samyaza", "Shemhazai", "Samiaza(z)", "Semiaza", "Shamazya", "Shemyazaz", "Shemihazah", "Shemyaza", "Sêmîazâz", "Semjâzâ", "Samjâzâ", and "Semyaza".[3][4]

The scholars lean towards the Semitic etymology of this appellation which contains the letters shin (ש) and mem (מ), thus suggesting the derivation from either “name” (Heb. שם, shem) or “heavens” (Heb. שמים, shamaym). Moshe Idel proposed that Samyaza is the one who “gazes at heavens” or “gazes from heavens”. This interpretation goes well with the motif of the heavenly Watchers, i.e., the angels supervising humans on earth.[5]

In colloquial Aramaic of the Christians of the Middle East, it has become the common name for a television.[6]

Book of Enoch

In the Book of Enoch, one of the apocryphal writings, Samyaza is portrayed as the leader of a band of angels called "sons of God" or "Watchers" (grigori in Greek). These Watchers became consumed with lust for mortal women and entered into machinations against heaven in order to consummate their desires.

When the rebel angels first meet upon Mount Hermon to organize their secret society of 200 members, Samyaza, as their recognized chieftain, initially doubts the initiates' resolve to forswear heaven. This they had planned to achieve through dark alliances and clandestine oaths sworn under penalty of death, thereby binding themselves to that treachery whereby they would use their heaven-acquired knowledge to create a counterfeit religion on earth to satisfy their lusts and carnal desires:[3]

And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: "I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin." And they all answered him and said: "Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing." Then swear they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. (1 En 6:3-5)

Having thus persuaded his fellow Watchers to join him in his schemes to fornicate with women, Samyaza led his angelic brethren in their seduction of the human females for whom they yearned. The hybrid offspring born from this unnatural mating between heavenly and earthly beings were the Nephilim - a plural noun rendered as 'giants' in the King James translation of the Book of Genesis. Together, the Watchers and their demigod children dominated, exploited and at times even murdered the lesser folk who lacked their angelic pedigree. Their reign began in the days of the righteous patriarch Jared, the father of the prophet Enoch and, as time passed, their debauchery sank to ever greater depths: "And there was great impiety and much fornication, and they went astray and all their ways became corrupt" (1 En 8:1-2). This wickedness caused Enoch to have a sleep-vision or prophetic dream, known as the 'Animal Apocalypse', which relates how[3]

a star fell from heaven, and it arose and ate and pastured amongst those oxen. And after this I saw the large and the black oxen, and behold, all of them changed their pens and their pastures and their heifers, and began to moan, one after another. And again I saw in the vision and looked to heaven, and behold, I saw many stars, how they came down and were thrown down from heaven to that first star, and amongst those heifers and bulls; they were with them, pasturing amongst them. And I looked at them and saw, and behold, all of them let out their private parts like horses and began to mount the cows of the bulls, and they all became pregnant and bore elephants and camels and asses. And all the oxen feared them and were affrighted at them, and began to bite with their teeth and to devour, and to gore with their horns. And they began, moreover, to devour those oxen; and behold all the children of the earth began to tremble and quake before them and to flee from them ... (1 En 86:1-6)

In the Book of Giants, found at Qumran, Samyaza, through this forbidden action, fathers two half-breed giant sons, Ohya and Hahyah.[7]

The Watchers shared with humankind various forbidden arts, sciences, and celestial "secrets" or "mysteries" of the true heavenly gnosis or knowledge — especially that Wisdom possessed by Azazel, who taught them also the secrets of magic, of war (including metallurgy and weaponry) and of seductive ornamentation (including jewelry and cosmetics) — all of which ultimately brought down the wrath of Heaven upon the rebel angels and their spawn.[3]

God commanded the angel Gabriel to cause the Watchers and giants to wage civil war:

And to Gabriel said the Lord: "Proceed against the biters and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle: for length of days shall they not have[.] (1 En 10:9)

Finally, the judgement of the Watcher-associates of Samyaza is described.

And the Lord said unto Michael: "Go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire:〈and〉to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations[.] (1 En 10:11-14)

Once the archangels and the host of the righteous had punished the Watchers and giants, God poured forth, after several generations, the Great Flood of Noah to wipe out the lingering remnants of the corrupted races of Earth. Through the diluvial judgment, God swept away the last of the lawlessness that had been unleashed by the forbidden knowledge of the Watchers, re-establishing His covenant with Noah and his sons and restoring harmony and fertility to the Earth.[1]

Book of Giants

In The Book of Giants, Shemyaza (or Šahmīzād in the Manichaean version) begets two sons, who together battle Leviathan. However, they are not portrayed as heroic, but as boasting about their own victory; a symbol of royal failure to keep one's power in this world. After the defeat of the Leviathan, Shemyaza and his offspring are slain by the four punishing angels.[8]

Babylonian Talmud

The Babylonian Talmud contains a singular mention of the name Samyaza (spelled שמחזאי in the Vilna edition with some lesser variations in the manuscripts) in Niddah 61a. Accordingly:

Now, Sihon and Og were brothers, as the Master said: Sihon and Og were sons of Ahijah, son of Shamhazai.[9]

The text does not elucidate the identity of Samyaza who appears nowhere else in the corpus, but clearly portrays him as the grandfather of Og, the king of Bashan and the last of Rephaim known for his gigantic height and strength (Deuteronomy 3:11). As such this can be taken as a reference to the myth of the fallen angels and the motif of their gigantic progeny transmitted in apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.[10]

Other traditions

In legend, Azza (another name for Samyaza) is the seraph tempted by the maiden Ishtar to reveal to her the Explicit Name of God. Often it is speculated that a main reason for Azza's expulsion from heaven is that Azza objected to the high rank given to Enoch when the latter was transformed from a mortal into the angel Metatron. In Solomonic lore, the story is that Azza was the angel who revealed to the Jewish king the heavenly arcana, thus making Solomon the wisest man on earth. Of the two groups of angels headed by Metatron, one of the groups, the angels of justice, were under the rulership of Azza, who at this time had not yet fallen.

Azza, according to the rabbinic tradition , is suspended between Heaven and Earth along with Azazel as punishment for having had carnal knowledge of mortal women. He is said to be constantly falling, with one eye shut and the other open, to see his plight and suffer the more. It is said that he now hangs, head down, and is the constellation of Orion.[11]

Uzza (said to be another name for Samyaza) is the tutelary angel of the Egyptians.[12]

Before the fall, Ouza (said to be another name for Samyaza) was of the rank of Seraphim.[13]

See also

  • Sexuality in Christian demonology


  1. "(طبقات ناصري (تاريخ ايران و اسلام". http://ar.lib.eshia.ir/10516/1/132. 
  2. "Al-Juzjani, Tabaqat-i-Nasiri 1 (c. 1259-1260 CE))". http://www.jasoncolavito.com/book-of-thousands.html. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "The Book of Enoch, Section I". https://www.ccel.org/c/charles/otpseudepig/enoch/ENOCH_1.HTM. 
  4. "A Dictionary Of Angels by Gustav Davidson". 1967. https://archive.org/details/ADictionaryOfAngels/page/n225/mode/2up?q=Semyaza. 
  5. אידל, משה; Idel, Moshe (2016). "SHMYHZH: Shamhazay/Shamhaza'y/Shmayya'a+Haze'/Shmayyahaze' / שמיחזה: שמחזי / שמחזאי / שמיא + חזא / שמיחזא". Lĕšonénu: A Journal for the Study of the Hebrew Language and Cognate Subjects / לשוננו: כתב-עת לחקר הלשון העברית והתחומים הסמוכים לה עח (א/ב): 37–42. ISSN 0334-3626. https://www.jstor.org/stable/24704335. 
  6. 1 from he words Shmo (hear)-tele and chazi(see)-vision
  7. "The Dead Sea Scrolls: Book of Giants". http://www.gnosis.org/library/dss/dss_book_of_giants.htm. 
  8. Michel Tardieu Manichaeism University of Illinois Press, 2008 ISBN:9780252032783 p. 46-48
  9. "Niddah 61a:18". https://www.sefaria.org/Niddah.61a.18?lang=bi&with=all&lang2=en. 
  10. Kosior, Wojciech (2021-01-01). ""The Affair of Uzza and Azael" (b. Yoma 67b). The Creation of Demons and the Myth of the Fallen Angels in the Babylonian Talmud". Henoch. Historical and Textual Studies in Ancient and Medieval Judaism and Christianity. https://www.academia.edu/83139842. 
  11. Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels, 1967, Free Press
  12. Ginsberg, The Legends of the Jews III, 17
  13. Gustav Davidson, A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels, Scrollhouse, 1967 ISBN:0-02-907052-X pg. xiii