SAID Rabbi Yissa: "Everyone on leaving the world goes57b-58a into the presence of Adam so that they may learn that not his, but their own sins and wrong-doing have caused their death. Amongst myriads of those that have lived and died, only three have there been whose decease was not owing to sin, but was brought about by the malicious designs of the serpent, namely, Amram, Levi and Benjamin, and also Jesse, who committed no sin worthy of death. Observe that all the antediluvians sinned openly and unblushingly. Rabbi Simeon was once walking in the environs of Tiberias and on beholding men committing pollution, he exclaimed, 'How dare these wretches sin against their Lord so openly and shamefully.' Then went from him a hypnotic or magnetic force that impelled them to cast themselves into the sea and be drowned. Observe also that every species of sin and wrong-doing done openly, causes the Shekina to take its departure from the delinquent and guilty one and cease its abiding with him. This was the case with the dwellers before the deluge and thereby they cut themselves adrift front the Holy One, hence it is written, 'Take away the dross from the silver, then shall it be formed into a vessel; take away the wicked from before the King and his throne shall be established in righteousness.'" (Prov. xxv., 4-5.)
Said Rabbi Eleazar: "It is written, 'And the Lord said my spirit shall not always abide (or dwell) with man, for that he is flesh' (Gen. vi., 3). When the Holy One created the world, he made it after the pattern of the world on high and as long as its inhabitants lived pure and upright lives and caused the divine spirit or life into that part of the world, in which Jacob dwelt afterwards into the land of Israel during the reign of David,
whence heavenly blessings and influences gradually extended over the whole earth; and therefore it is written, Praise the Lord for he is good, for his mercy extendeth throughout the world. The word ubed olam (world) has reference to that part of the spheres on high named David, and therefore is written without the letter Van (u), signifying that where the divine influence descends from that celestial region, then blessings are poured down on the world below. But as mankind sinned, the life divine has been taken from the world and only those who strive to attain unto, now enjoy its blessings whilst the unjust are unable to appropriate it for their wicked and magical purposes. The meaning of the words for that he also is flesh (beshagam) is, that, this58a divine life might not become abused by the serpent and others for their evil purposes, and so kept unsullied and undefiled by contact with the wicked and impure."
"By the word 'flesh,'" said Rabbi Simeon, "is meant the angel of death, whilst the words, 'the days of man shall be a hundred and twenty years,' mean to the thread or silver cord as it is termed, shall be broken that binds body and soul together. It is written, 'There were Nephalim (giants, fallen ones) in the earth in those days.'" (Gen. vi., 4.)
Said Rabbi Jose: "The nephalim here mentioned were the angels Aza and Azael, whom the Holy One hurled from heaven onto the earth. If the question he asked, how could they exist on earth in a state so different to that they enjoyed in heaven?"
Said Rabbi Hiya: "They were of that class of angels of whom scripture says 'and fowl that fly above the earth' (Gen i., 20), and who manifest themselves to mankind, in human form. When descending upon earth they are able to assume various shapes that become materialized and thus visible to mortal eyes. These rebel angels Aza and Azael hurled upon the earth became embodied in material bodies of which they could not after rid themselves. Charmed and overcome with the beauty of the daughters of men, they continue living unto this day, teaching men and initiating them into magical art and science. They begat children who were termed anakim (giants), Giborim (mighty ones). Such were the fallen angels who formerly were called sons of God."