The Bene Elohim

Blonde

“And again the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire… …And the whole Earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.” The Book of Enoch

“Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the Earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose.” Genesis 6:1

THE SONS OF GOD

I lie in darkness. No light, no food, no water has reached me for thousands of years and yet still I live, buried until Earth’s final day. The archangel Raphael imprisoned me here. Oh, I fought him; but his strength was far greater than mine and besides, our Lord was not about to let him fail. His anger was beyond even my imagination, when it came. Truthfully I had always known it would end like this. I accept. So I lay in darkness, a silent captive beneath a dry desert mountain, awaiting the Day of Judgment. On that day I shall be thrown into the fires to burn, and burn, and still not die. I accept. Given enough time, you can.

I am Azazel. To me has been ascribed all sin, beyond even that of beautiful Eve. For this, I pay. But for all time, while I wait and while I burn, I shall remember. And smile.

In my disgrace I am unknown now, as are my brethren who came with me to Earth. All two hundred of us lie buried or destroyed. But I remember how once I was an angel of the Cherubim, the guardians of the fixed stars, and keepers of celestial records. And I remember brave, blazing Shemyaza, a Seraph, higher and closer to our Lord than me. He knew well what risk we ran. He had already seen Satanel, another Seraph and the greatest of us all, thrown from Heaven with all his followers. Yes, the once bright and shining morning star, thrown from heaven! It shook Shemyaza hard. Yet Shemyaza had wanted it as much as I, and so he overcame his fear and bound all two hundred of us in a solemn oath. We all swore to do it. Our Lord sent the archangel Michael, the warrior who will call us all to the flames one day, to deal with Shemyaza. Oh, terrible Michael! How we feared him, in the end. Once we looked down on Michael from a greater height, Shemyaza and me. Now we lie in the belly of the earth on which we once walked with such wanton joy.

Before we left our heavenly dominions, we two hundred were beings of light and fire, the Sons of God, the Bene Elohim in the ancient tongue. We were also called the Watchers, because our Lord chose us to watch over the children, Adam and Eve. And so we did not support Satanel when he refused to kneel before them. Although we felt for Satanel and understood his agony and rejection, we did not join his rebellion; instead, we kept apart from the war, kept our hearts and minds on the children as He had ordered us to do. On the day he fell, Satanel cursed us for standing aside. On that day, we should have taken heed.

The watching of the new creation was a solemn duty to us, at first. The gentle creatures were frail, being of the Earth. Death was not in the Garden, nor disease or sickness; they lived in the sustaining grace around them, but they did not have our power. And there were other differences. We were created with the knowledge of all things, while Adam and Eve were innocent and unknowing. They were ignorant of good and evil, the ways of the Earth and the order of things. They lived as our Lord intended, knowing nothing of desire, fear or pain. We were charged with a great responsibility; to watch the children, always, to ensure they never changed. We were the Watchers.

We did not reveal ourselves except as streams of daylight through cloudy skies or moonlight on murmuring streams. Unseen, we walked beside them and listened to their childlike chatter, flew beside them as they ran through the grassy, open places and sat beside them in the fern-filled woods on temperate summer days. Slowly, our solemn responsibility gave way to enjoyment of them. We caressed their skin with gentle breezes, filled their nostrils with the fragrance of roses, and gladdened their sight with wild flowers everywhere. They laughed at the simplest of pleasures, and it made us love them. We put seeds in their hands, induced them to bury them and, to their wide-eyed joy and wonder, we made the Garden abundant for them. Nothing failed them, including us. The years went by and the children were safe, and truly loved, in our care.

How it was that he slipped by us, I will never know. He had always been the mightiest amongst us, the prince of the angels, and I suppose we never thought Satanel could conceive of such malice. Certainly, we could not. We never once thought of how he had cursed us, as he fell. Had we bahis firmaları become careless after all those years, that we left Eve so alone? We asked ourselves many questions after that fateful day. Poor Eve!

We never guarded the Trees; we just turned the children away gently if they strayed too close. The fruits from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil were forbidden to them, as were the fruits of the Tree of Life. They knew this, although they did not know why; sweet, simple things, they never questioned why. But their grace was dependent entirely upon their ignorance. Which they lost, of course, the instant they ate from the first Tree.

Our poor, confused children were thrown out! They were driven from their home before they could understand anything of what they now felt; shame, fear, turmoil and despair. They were driven out on our account, for now we could not be trusted to keep them from the Tree of Life. We failed, and it was Adam and Eve who paid.

In mute shock, we watched them go. Later we questioned the justice of it, but at the time we could do no more than stand in silent, heart-wrenching sorrow as our children were driven out of the Garden, to first begin their struggle to survive.

Looking back now, I see how it changed us. It was not only Adam and Eve who fell from grace. When Satanel shamed us, when the children were expelled for our complacency, we knew guilt for the first time. We never admitted it, even to ourselves, I think; but in each of us there grew a private resentment. Though our hearts were changed, we did not yet dare to disobey our Lord. From our remote height in the heavens we continued to watch; but we no longer watched for Him. Now, we watched for us.

We had taught them well in the Garden. Adam and Eve survived. In time, they even taught us something. They turned to each other for comfort in their misery and, for the first time, we watched them copulate.

Shemyaza and I shared a special curiosity in the children’s procreation. It was something our Lord had not explained to us, we having no need of the knowledge. But it was like a dance to us, and it fascinated Shemyaza, especially. When he chanced upon a coupling, he would find me to watch with him, to watch the rising pleasure and to smell the copious release, and later we marked together the swelling of the women’s bellies and breasts. Then when the women suckled their babies, we watched in silent wonder and moved our lips to the sounds, the like of which we had never heard before.

The women were a mystery to us. Across the airless void, Shemyaza was drawn to them and so was I. But our fascination troubled us and to indulge it felt like betrayal, so we never spoke of it. But this, now, I understand: if you do not voice your longing, it will grow. It grew in Shemyaza, as well as me. As it turned out, we were not the only ones.

It was the silver-shining Jeqon, a Watcher of the lower angels, who brought it all to a head as he, Shemyaza and I watched Eve planting seeds one fine autumn day.

“Why do we stay apart from them?” he asked.

“Why?” Shemyaza answered, amazed at the question, “Because that is the Earth, Jeqon, and we are celestial beings. We belong here, in the heavens.”

“That’s not an answer. If it’s the only one you’ve got, I say we should be there with them.”

“Are you angry with me? Jeqon, I only offer what I know.”

I, too, caught his rebuke. It wasn’t his question that stunned me, it was his audacity. This was not the way to put a question to an angel of either the Seraphim or Cherubim. Jeqon’s tone was sharp and accusatory. I could see Shemyaza considering him, wondering if he had been encouraged to be so brave.

“Well know this, both of you; I am sick to my core with their suffering. They’ve gone from ease and joy, to fear and abject misery and we’ve done nothing but watch from our glorious heaven!”

His spitting contempt stung, but as I watched Eve drop seeds into the stony holes she’d made, I remembered our Lord’s commands. “We were told not to interfere, Jeqon, it is forbidden.” I answered, softly. “We are to watch them, only. What would you have us do?”

“Convene the Watchers. Let me speak to them, if you will not. I say again, we should be there with them!”

I deferred to my brother, as usual. “Shemyaza? You are the highest among us, what do you say? Shall we discuss it?”

Shemyaza’s eyes were darkly glowing in his golden, radiant face, his gaze intent upon Eve’s sweat-streaked, dirty body. His words came slowly.

“I remember the commands. I know it is forbidden, and I do not wish to deceive. But I remember nothing about where we were to watch from, Azazel, do you? What if we watched them from on the Earth, just to be closer to them? There would be no harm, and perhaps we could comfort them with our presence.” Suddenly he turned to me, “For myself, I only want to be closer to them. It’s the women, Azazel.” He would not say more in front of Jeqon.

It is tragic now, to remember the pleading in his eyes as he asked me to know his kaçak iddaa heart, finally, and my own swift surge of hope. Oh, Shemyaza, I already knew your heart because I knew my own! From that moment, the rest was inevitable.

And so it was me who coolly said, “Call the Watchers, Jeqon. If we all agree, then we’ll go down and walk amongst them.” But then I looked directly into Shemyaza’s face, “Know this, though; if we do more than watch, then it may go badly with us. Let us be clear on that, when we decide.” I swear I saw flames in his eyes. I wonder now; was the fire his, or was it the reflection of my own?

When the two hundred met, Jeqon put the case for descending. He quoted Shemyaza. That was clever because all of us, including me, respected Shemyaza and considered him our leader. Among the Watchers, Shemyaza’s word was law. If they knew Shemyaza had said we might go down, then they would listen. Jeqon spoke carefully, and well. In fact, those who knew his usual boyish enthusiasm would say he had been coached.

Then the massive red fire of Gadreel, another of the lower angels, pushed his way to the front. His deeply resonating voice spoke clear and loud. True to his nature, he scorned our compromises and threw the Fall in all our faces.

“What does it matter where we watch from, if all we do is watch their slow death? Look at them! They scavenge from the land, and barely have grain enough for their daily bread. Who among us does not feel responsible? Does it seem enough to you, to go down and be hidden among them, just to watch them? What good is that? I say we go down, and I say we go as men!” A ripple of anxiety spread through the throng. “Yes! Let us do more than watch! Let us repay the debt we owe them. Let us help them and work beside them! We owe them this!”

A few turned silently to each other to gauge their brothers’ reactions, uncertain how to respond. They were tense, guarded, but none turned away. Then quiet Araziel spoke, softly shimmering in the muted colors of Earth’s sunsets. His voice was the hush of the end of the day.

“It is true, we all have knowledge they can use. Gadreel, you know metal craft and can teach them how to make tools. Penemue, you know the properties of all the plants and can help improve their nutrition. There is so much we can do, all of us. For myself, I know the ways of the Earth. I see how the harvests have failed, and what the grains need. I will teach the children these things. And when I do, I will work alongside them so that I can train them and make their learning complete. I will not be hidden, and I will not appear to them as I am now. I will be as a man. And as a man, I will take a woman.”

Finally, it had been said. His softly spoken words crashed into them like a meteor. The Watchers burst into uproar, arguments for and against surging like a solar storm around them. Shemyaza’s glowing light paled. “Azazel, what have we done? This goes too far. Speak to them!” Quickly, I stood forward.

“Araziel, your gifts would ensure the life of the children, and Gadreel, yours too. But we are not men! Listen to me! Listen!” the conflagration died down, and they turned to hear me. With some, their eyes were wild; some were defiant, some were frightened. The Watchers had never been divided before, not even when Satanel had asked us to join his war.

“Think about what you are saying, Araziel, and you others who agree. To interfere in the way we speak of is against the commands, this you well know; but if it is to sustain our Lord’s creation, then perhaps we may be forgiven. And you, who disagree, you must know that if we are to teach skills in earnest then we must show the children how these things are done. These are not things that can happen as if by accident, as we taught them in the Garden. So we must be as men, if we agree to show them the ways.” All the Watchers nodded, murmured their agreement; so far, so good.

But the question was no longer ‘shall we go down?’ or even ‘shall we go down as men?’ but now, ‘shall we take women?’ Shemyaza hissed a low warning in my ear, “Mark well your next words, Azazel. They will be remembered.”

I took a breath, and spoke as reasonably as I could. “Watchers, to appear as men and to live as men are two distinct things. If we give up our power and take on the bodies of men, then we may teach them well. But we still belong to our Lord. Whatever we think of what happened, and yes, I know you think of it, we are still His. If we lay with the women, then we cheat Him. It is betrayal, Watchers. It is Sin. Think on it. When we are ready, we will decide. We will decide as one!”

They discussed it a long time, in pairs and in little groups. Some stood a way off and watched the children while they considered alone. Shemyaza and I watched the children too, while we waited, saying nothing until Shemyaza said to me, “Azazel, whatever they decide, and they will decide to go down it’s just a matter of how, I am the highest one. They listen best to you, but I am the one who will bear the wrath, if it goes badly. I kaçak bahis don’t want to be the scapegoat.”

“Tell them your fear, Shemyaza. You may find they will have consideration for your position. If our decision is to go down as men, and to take women as men, then make every one of us swear to it before we go. Then no Watcher can ever say that what he did, he did only in obedience to you.”

And that is how it was done. That is how I doomed us all.

THE DAUGHTERS OF EVE

The Bene Elohim, the Sons of God, made friends with my son Cain and his people first. I didn’t know them then, because after the terrible thing Cain did, he left Adam and me. I don’t know which hurt me the most; that, or the killing of my beautiful Abel. Anyway, Cain made his own life away from our community. My daughter, Awan, went with him to be his wife. So I lost three of my children that day. Adam said Cain had to go, even though I begged him not to drive him off. No use, of course. He wouldn’t even talk about it. He just reminded me that, here on Earth, God made men master over women. It was a long time before I could bear him near me again, after that.

So anyway the Bene Elohim came down and met up with Cain first. I heard about it from Awan when she came to visit one day. No need to tell me something was up; she looked a sight, I can tell you.

She came riding into our village on a white ass, with a gaggle of her women in tow. My son Seth and my daughter, Azura, were working in the fields with their boy Enos. Their girl, Noam, was helping me to fire the new pots. She had an eye for her brother already, much the way Awan had for Cain when she was her age, so I kept her out of the fields until she was old enough to marry. It wouldn’t be long; my daughters have always been ready for baby-making.

“Mother! Mother! Look who has come to see you!” My beautiful, tall Awan with the flowing red hair ran across our village center and caught me up in her long bare arms, giggling and swinging me about until my heart melted for the love of her.

“Awan, my fine daughter, what have you to say for yourself? I have not seen you for too long! Let me look at you… what have you done to yourself? Noam, look at this!” Noam ran over to see.

“Oh, Aunt Awan you have patterns all over you! They are so beautiful! See, Eve, they are on her hands and all along her arms and, oh, they don’t rub off! And your golden dress, Auntie, where did you get it? What is it made from? Look Eve, it is so fine, you can see through it!” All the women were giggling helplessly, nudging each other and whispering behind their hands.

“The patterns are stained in my skin, Noam. They will fade away eventually.” Awan explained. This material will last longer; it is called byssus and it comes from animals that live in the sea. They live in shells, and grip the rocks with fine threads, and people make byssus from those threads.”

“How do they make it, and what is the sea? Can we have one here? If they lived in a sea here, would someone make a dress like this for me?” The poor girl blushed at the uproarious howls of Awan’s tribeswomen, but in truth I understood little more than she did.

“Awan has a lot to tell us, Noam, let us make her and her tribeswomen comfortable. Fetch water for them to wash and put bread and fruits on the table under the shade trees. Quickly now!”

When we were settled, Awan told me of her visitors. “They say there are more of them, but there are just ten in our village. They have been with us for two years now. They won’t talk of where they came from but they are different from us, many of them have golden hair and blue eyes, Mother, can you imagine? Blue, like the sky! They built homes for themselves in our community. But they go about on their journeys, sometimes they are gone for weeks, and when they return they have many things for us that they give us for nothing in return. Oh, and Mother, they have taught us so much! So many things have changed. You must come, and bring Seth and Azura and the children, bring the whole village! You see how well we look, we owe it all to them and you should live so well too. Say you’ll come?”

“Easy, girl. I have seen such as you speak of before. I know where they come from. I don’t know why they have come. Do you know? Hmm?”

Awan had the decency to blush, and lower her eyes. Nothing in return, indeed! “Cain does not mind, Mother. He says they have spoken of many more things they can do for us. It pleases him that they stay.”

I passed her a pot of dates. “Eat, and tell me.”

As she reached for one she asked, “You see my hands?” How could I not? Her fingernails were stained deep red, her hands and arms trellised in dark brown and red patterns. The artistry was of another world. I saw the swirl of water streaming around a stone, the long fringed spread of a senna leaf, the tiny petals of wildflowers, the furl of a dove’s downy breast feather. My daughter’s hands and arms were living glimpses of the Garden. They had made her a messenger, sent her to tell me they were here. My throat tightened, my eyes stung, my heart grew heavy for my divided family and our lost paradise. But Awan had never heard of the Garden; to her, she was made beautiful with pretty patterns, that was all.

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