AHRIMAN (Angro-mainyush; identical with Satan, the Devil, Armilus):

In the Mazdian religion, the evil deity, who has his real opposite in Spenta Mainyu, "the beneficent [holy] spirit." The latter was identified at a later period, if not originally, with Ahuramazda. Ahriman would seem to have existed as long as Ahuramazda; for, according to the conceptions of the Mazdian religion, immeasurable space has always existed, with its two hemispheres of light and darkness; each with its particular spirit: the one, that of light or life, and the other that of darkness or death—the spirits, in short, of good and of evil. Ahuramazda, however, is the real originator of this present world, for Ahriman created only the harmful and unclean animals, diseases, evil spirits (dævas), sin and death; and he seeks continually to destroy the whole good creation.

Ahuramazda and Ahriman.

Ahriman's might, too, is very terrible in the eyes of the faithful believer of the Mazdian faith; for he possesses a whole kingdom of evil beings, who are obedient tools in his hands for annihilating the creations of Ahuramazda and for bringing men to violent destruction. Among these evil spirits there are six that are in intimate contact with his person, just as there are six Ameshaspentas that surround Ahuramazda. The number six may be an invention of a later period for the sake of arriving at a counterpart to Ahuramazda's body-guard. But it is certain that Ahriman, too, according to the testimony of the Mazdian religion in its earliest epoch, is surrounded by an army of evil beings like-minded with himself. The whole history of the world is one long-continued struggle between Ahuramazda and Ahriman. The course and outcome of the struggle are, however, settled beforehand. The conflict is to proceed for 12,000 years, divided into four periods of 3,000 years each.

At the close of the last period, the Saoshyat or Sosiosh, the Messiah of the Parsees, will arise and make an end of Ahriman's dominion, not, however, until he has been allowed to exercise his sway to an extent before unknown. Sosiosh will at the same time raise all the dead to life, hold final judgment upon the earth, and inaugurate the regeneration of the present world.

This tenet of the Persian religion has not been without its influence upon the ideas of later Judaism. As late a writer even as the Deutero-Isaiah (Isa. xlv. 7) expresses himself in such a way as to exclude beyond question any dualism in religion, if we are not to interpret his words as being a direct attack on the Parsee doctrine, a god of light and a god of darkness.

"Satan" in the Bible.

But after the Exile the Jewish mind becomes unable to refer to God, as formerly, everything that has happened and continues to happen in the world. As early as the prologue to the Book of Job, and in Zech. iii., Satan is spoken of in terms that show that he is no longer merely a servant of YHWH, but is, rather, a persecutor of man, actuated by personal motives in making mankind evil and in checking God's work. In I Chron. xxi. 1, where the word "Satan" appears without the article, we have a new step in the development of his character, in that the figure of Satan is employed to explain a matter hitherto ascribed without further thought to God (compare II Sam. xxiv. 1). Satan acts (according to I Chron. xxi. 1) entirely on his own account in enticing David to commit sin. According to the Book of Daniel—composed about the year 168 B.C.—the whole of the history of the non-Jewish world, from the point when the Babylonian power first comes into contact with Israel down to Antiochus Epiphanes, constitutes merely an outburst of the ill-will and enmity of the kingdoms upon the earth against God and His chosen people.

AḤOT ḳEṬANNAHRise of Dualism.

Dualism is even more clearly marked in the Book of Daniel than it is in the Parsee religion, for the divine and the secular kingdoms are unable to exist side by side. The use that is made in I Chron. xxi. 1 of the figure of Satan as an explanation of a certain historical event is continued in such passages as Book of Wisdom, ii. 24, where, in allusion to Gen. iii., it is stated that "by the envy of the devil death entered into the world." In agreement therewith the serpent in the Garden of Eden too becomes identified with Satan or the devil, or is said to have been his tool (compare the Jewish portions of Rev. xii. 9, xx. 2). Thus Satan (the devil) is here employed as an explanation of the origin of evil in mankind. In conjunction with this, and as a development from I Chron. xxi. 1, we have the version given in the Book of Jubilees of the story in Genesis; for there Satan (or Masṭema, as he is there named) has repeatedly—whenever it is necessary to remove any feature thatmight give offense to Jewish conceptions of that later time—to assume a part that in Genesis was assigned to God Himself. At the same time he is given an ever-increasing army of evil spirits to serve him: the ancient popular belief in harmful—not exactly evil—spirits becomes transformed into a belief in a dominion of evil under the sway of its head, the devil.

Consequently Satan (or the devil) obtained for Jewish ideas almost the same significance as Ahriman for Persian. Indeed, in certain respects he developed greater power than his Persian counterpart, inasmuch as he succeeded in corrupting the immediate followers of God, whereas Ahriman, in his contest with Ahuramazda, did not achieve such success. The Jews tried to preserve the monism that was their original view by explaining the rise of dualism as due to a fall among the originally good spirits. The author of the Book of Enoch (chaps. vi. et seq.) attributed the question of the origin of evil to the conception of a fall of the angels who seduced the daughters of men (compare Gen. vi.), becoming thus the authors of all earthly sins, and especially of the demons, who, according to the same author, are descended from the giants which the daughters of men bore to the fallen angels. In accordance with another doctrine, the devil was said to have been actively present in the Serpent in the Garden of Eden (see above); while still another maintains that the principles of good and evil were opposed to each other from the very beginning.

The Ahriman Dragon.(From Fergusson, "History of Architecture.")Antichrist the Incarnation of Satan.

Just as the dominion of the evil spirits was, in the Parsee theory, to come to an end with the advent of Sosiosh, so is the Messiah, according to the Jewish faith, to destroy the devil and his kingdom. Just as, again, Ahriman, in the Persian belief, was to do mankind terrible injury shortly before his end, so too, in the Jewish view, great tribulaṭions were to precede the Messiah's coming. The Jews would seem to have expected an evil Messiah, an Anti-christ; consequently, the teaching of the New Testament in this direction does not imply anything new. This Antichrist is, moreover, to be, on the hypotheses of several writers, nothing else than an incarnation of the devil himself. In consequence of the hatred of the Jews toward Rome, even after it had accepted Christianity, this Antichrist was also called Armilus, a Jewish rendering of Romulus; thus, in Pseudo-Methodius, "Romulus qui est Armilus" (compare W. Bousset, "Antichrist," pp. 33, 67).

  • E. Stave, Einfluss d. Parsismus auf das Judentum, 1898;
  • W. Bousset, Der Antichrist, 1895;
  • Sieffert, Antichrist, in A. Hauck's Realencyklopädic für Protest-antische Theologie u. Kirche;
  • J. Darmesteter, Ormuzd et Ahriman, Paris, 1877;
  • Jackson, Dualism, in Geiger and Kuhne, Grundriss der Iranischen Philologie, ii. 626-631.
E. S.—In Rabbinical Literature:

Ahriman (Angro-mainyush) is mentioned in Sanhedrin, 39a: Amemar, on being told by one of the Magi, "The upper half of thy body belongs to Ormuzd [], the good principle; the lower to Ahriman [], the evil principle," replies satirically, "Why, then, does Ahriman permit Ormuzd to carry the water (the excreta) through his province?" The whole conception of Ahriman as the antagonist of the divine principle of goodness permeated Judaism in many ways. Just as Ahriman appears in the guise of a serpent and casts poison into man with the aid of Jeh, the personification of menstrual impurity ("Bundâhis," iii.; in West, "Sacred Books of the East," vi. 6; Windischmann, "Zoroastrische Studien," p. 61), so does Samael, the fallen angel-prince, select the Serpent as the seducer of Adam (PirḲe R. El. xiii.), and the poison of impurity in Eve is his work—zohamo shel naḥash—(Shab. 146a; Yeb. 103b; 'Ab. Zarah, 22b). "In the future the Holy One—blessed be His name—shall bring the Evil Spirit and slay him in the presence of the righteous and the wicked ones: the righteous will shed tears of joy at their victory over the gigantic foe, and the wicked will weep at their inability to defeat so small a power as he will then appear to them" (Suk. 52a).

Defeat of the Archfiend.

This end of the archfiend goes back to an older form than is presented in "Bundâhis," xxx. 30-33, according to which Ahuramazda at the last day with his seven archangels goes to war with Ahriman and the seven archfiends; each archangel crushing the archfiend opposed to him, until finally only Ahriman and the Serpent remain. Against these Ahuramazda rises as high priest with the magic girdle in his hand, and, assisted by Sraosha, brings final defeat upon them; so that the Serpent is burned in the molten metal of the nether world, into which Ahriman, too, casts himself to be consumed along with the whole infernal region, which is then purified and added to the regenerated world of Ahuramazda. The older view of the defeat of Ahriman may be learned from the sculptural presentations of Darius and Xerxes, in which there is the image of Ahuramazda stabbing a monstrous animal called, as a rule, the Ahrimanian beast, but which is, in point of fact, Ahriman himself. This is a repetition of the old Babylonian myth of Bel Marduk and the Tiamat (see illustrations from thePersepolis hall of one hundred columns, in Mme. Ragozin's "Media," p. 402, and in Justi's "Persien," p. 108, following Ker Porter's "Travels in Georgian Persia"; compare Nöldeke, "Gesch. d. Artachsir i Papakan," pp. 29, 55 et seq.: the story of Bel and the Dragon is repeated in the legend of the Persian king). This Evil Spirit was believed to be alluded to also in Joel, ii. 20: "I will remove far off from you [the Concealed One—in the human heart; not, as the A. V. has it, "the northern army"], and drive him into a land barren and desolate, with his face toward the cast sea, and his hinder part toward the utmost sea, and his stink shall come up, and his ill savor shall come up, because he hath done great [insolent] things" (Suk. 52a; see Merx, "Die Prophetie des Joel," p. 213, who finds a Judæo-Mohammedan tradition identifying the "Northern One" with the Mohammedan Antichrist, Al-Dajjal—the Liar). But there is direct proof that the big monster slain and cast off as offensive is none other than Ahriman.

His Death Fulfils Prophecy.

According to Targ. Yer. Deut. xxxiv. 3, Moses was before his end shown the history of Israel's tribulations, ending with the punishment of Armalgus the Wicked (), the war of Gog and Magog, and the appearance of Michael as his triumphant combatant. Compare with this the battle of Gabriel with the Leviathan at the end of days (B.B. 74b), and the Antichrist stories in Jellinek, "B. H." v. 127; "Assumptio Mosis," 10. Thus the Messianic prophecy (in the Targum to Isa. xi. 4), "With the breath of his lips [mouth] will he slay the wicked," refers to Armalgus—as the manuscripts have it, or as our printed edition has it, Armilus, which is the same as Armalyus = Armainyus. Bacher ("Targum zu den Propheten," in "Z. D. M. G." 1873, p. 31, note) has shown that all the manuscripts to Isa. xi. 4 have the נ, either or or . He has also called especial attention to the tyrant Armalinus, the mythical builder of Memphis in Arabian folk-lore, who, according to Professor Fleischer, is Armalgus, whom Bacher also identifies wlth Angro-mainyush. Jellinek, "B. H." vi. xxx., found, in the Leipsic manuscript containing "Milḥamot ha-Mashiaḥ," the name written . Saadia ("Amunât," ed. Landauer, p. 239) calls him Armalyos.

Owing to the identification of Rome's angel with Samael, chief of the evil spirits, Armilus in the course of time was identified with Romulus (see Bousset's "Antichrist," pp. 66, 67). The name given to Armainyush in other Jewish eschatologies was Belial (Beliar, II Cor. vi. 14; Sibylline Books, ii. 6, 15, iii. 63; Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Dan. v.), the same as "spirit of hell" (see Ps. xviii. 5 and Bäthgen's Comm.), hence the "son of perdition" (II Thess. ii. 3) and the "man of sin," that is, rasha', "the Wicked" (Isa. xi. 4). Thus the Serpent is spoken of as Harasha', "the Wicked One," in Gen. R. xx., Bek. 8a (compare Targ. Yer. Gen. iii. 13); and Rome as the wicked kingdom, Malkut ha-resha'ah (Gen. R. lxxvi.).

His Guises and Names.

In the Hebrew apocalyptic literature (Midr. Wayosha'; Book of Zerubbabel; Otot ha-Mashiaḥ; The Secrets of Simon b. Yoḥai; and the Elijah Apocalypse in Jellinek, "B. H." i. 56, ii. 56, 60, iii. 65-80) Ahriman appears in many forms that gave rise to all kinds of conjectural interpretations: , explained by Jellinek ("B. H." iii. xviii.) as Heremolaos; according to Grätz, in Levy, "Wörterbuch zu den Targumim," s.v., a supposed translation of , Bala'am ="Destroyer of the people"; explained by Zunz, "G. V." p. 295 (who declares the passage in Targ. Yer. to Isa. xi. 4 to be a late interpolation), as a combination of Romulus and Remus; and by Hitzig (in his "Commentary on Daniel," p. 125) as referring to Caligula, whom Suetonius (chap. xxv.) represents as appearing armillatus. Then there are also the forms and , which convey no sense at all; and finally he is introduced as "Armilus whom the nations of the world will call Antichristus," a name which appears again in distorted forms as and (see Elijah Apocalypse in Jellinek, "B. H." iii. 65). He is described as a monstrous figure of immense size, with one small and one large eye; with leprosy on his forehead; with one ear open and one closed; the left arm small, and the right very long; and of his origin the strange story is given that he is the son of Satan, and that a stone is his mother. There is in Rome a marble block "not made by human hands," in the shape of a beautiful maiden; and under the guiles of Satan the youths of Rome are filled with lust at sight of it; the stone gives birth to the monstrous giant who becomes king and Messiah of the Romans. It is he who leads the whole army of heathendom in battle against the Messiah, the son of Ephraim, and conquers him. His reign lasts, however, only forty or forty-five days, and he is at last defeated by the Messiah from the house of David, with the aid of Michael the archangel and Elijah.

That this legend—evidently connected with that of Virgil, and with the stone of Rhea, brought to Rome in 204 B.C., and the impure cult of Sabazius, whose symbol was the serpent (see Preller, "Griechische Mythologie, "i. 531, 576, 578)—has nothing to do with Romulus is clear. Nor can the Armilus-Antichrist legend be the product of the Arabic-gaonic age, as Zunz ("G. V." 2d ed., p. 295) thought, for Bousset in his work on Antichrist has clearly shown that it is of pre-Christian origin. Already Saadia (in "Emunot we-De'ot," viii. 122 et seq.) speaks of it as an ancient tradition. The Mandæans also speak of an Antichrist, Nebu Mesiha, as one full of lasciviousness and stricken with leprosy ("Right Genza," section ii., p. 59; Brandt, "Mandäische Schriften," pp. 95, 97 et seq.), who, with the aid of Ruha, his mother, casts the spirit of lust and fornication into the world. He is called the deceiver or Roman (Nöldeke prefers the latter translation; see Brandt, "Mandäische Religion," p. 228, and "Mandäische Schriften," p. 95, note 2). He is identical with the Mohammedan Al-Dajjal (The Deceiver or Liar), whose reign lasts forty days (see Bousset, p. 74, and compare Antichrist).

  • Zunz, G. V. p. 295;
  • Hamburger, R. B. T. s.v. Armilus;
  • Gunkel, Schöpfung und Chaos, pp. 221-293;
  • Bousset, Der Antichrist, 1895;
  • Kohler, in Z. D. M. G. 1869, p. 693;
  • Brüll, in Kobak's Jeschurun, viii. 11;
  • Kaufmann, in Monatsschrift, 1896, pp. 134 et seq.;
  • Güdemann, Geschichte d. Erziehungswesens, etc., 1884, pp. 220, 332.