One of them said to his companion, ‘Teach it to her.’ He said, ‘Verily I fear God.’ Then said the other, ‘Where then is the mercy of God Most High?’ Then they taught it to her. Accordingly she uttered it and ascended to heaven, and God Most High transformed her into a star."

Zuhrah is the Arabic name of the planet Venus. The number of authorities quoted for the various forms of this story is a sufficient proof how generally it is accepted among Muslims as having been handed down by Tradition from the lips of their Prophet. There are several points in the tale which would of themselves indicate its Jewish origin, even had we no further proof. One of these is the idea that any one who knows the special name of God — the "Incommunicable Name" as the Jews call it — can thereby do great things. It is well known, for example, that certain Jewish writers of olden times explained our Lord's miracles by asserting that He performed them by pronouncing this Name, the Tetragrammaton. Again, the angel 'Azrail bears not an Arabic but a Hebrew name.

But we have more direct proof than this of the Jewish origin of the tale. It is contained in the Midrash Yalkut, chapter xliv, in these words:—

"His disciples asked Rab Joseph, ‘What is 'Azael?’ He said to them, ‘When the generation (that lived at the time) of the Flood arose and offered up vain worship (i.e. worship to idols), the


Holy One, Blessed be He! was wroth. At once there arose two angels, Shemhazai and 'Azael, and said in His presence, "O Lord of the World! did we not say in Thy presence, when thou didst create Thy world, ‘What is man that Thou art mindful of him?’" (Ps. viii. 4). He said to them, "And as for the world, what will become of it?" They said to Him, "O Lord of the World, we shall rule over it." He said to them "It is manifest and known unto Me that, if ye were dominant in the Earth, evil desire would reign in you, and ye would be more stubborn than the sons of men." They said to Him, "Give us permission, and we shall dwell with the creatures, and Thou shalt see how we shall sanctify Thy name." He said to them, "Go down and dwell with them." At once Shemhazai saw a damsel, whose name was Esther. He fixed his eyes upon her: he said, "Be complaisant to me." She said to him, "I shall not hearken unto thee until thou teach me the peculiar Name [of God], by means of which thou ascendest to the sky at the hour that thou repeatest it." He taught it to her. Then she repeated it: then too she ascended to the sky and was not humbled. The Holy One, Blessed be He! said, "Since she hath separated herself from transgression, go ye and place her among the seven stars, that ye may be pure with regard to her for ever." And she was placed in the Pleiades. They instantly degraded themselves with the daughters of men, who