Nora Durst and the Many Faces of Azrael

The caller was blunt: “We believe the demon Azrael has chosen you as his instrument.” My shock was as great as Nora’s upon hearing these words, uttered to her by the scientist on the other end of the phone. Here’s the scene:

My immediate reaction, however, was: Which Azrael? There are at least five Azraels common to mystic spiritual traditions. Let’s look at which holds the most probability as the culprit.

The Azrael of Islam

While not mentioned by name in the Qur’an, in some Islamic sects, Azrael is known as the Angel of Death. This figure is responsible for taking the soul of every person and returning it to God. It would make sense that a creature responsible for returning souls back to God would appear to be a “lens,” as Nora is now thought to be. Nora is certainly feeling like the Angel of Death, but is she really being used as an instrument?

The Azrael of Judaism

In the mystic Jewish tradition of Kabbalah, the holy book of Zohar actually paints Azrael in a positive light. The text refers to Azrael as a high-ranking figure in the army of angels, commanding many to do the will of God. It also speaks of Azrael being in charge of collecting the prayers of people once they reach heaven. In this Azrael, we could certainly see Nora’s leadership and strength. However, based on the tone of the scientist on the phone, it’s doubtful that this is the Azrael she was referring to.

The Azrael of Christianity

Similar to Islam, Azrael is not mentioned directly in the holy texts of Protestant or Catholic Christianity. However, the figure is certainly present in mystic Christian traditions and non-canonical works associated with the church. In II Esdras—a book of the Apocrypha, which is considered canonical in Eastern Orthodox traditions—a figure named Ezrael is mentioned as being a judge of human beings. Ezrael later ascends into heaven “without tasting death’s taint.” This, of course, sounds like a sudden departure. Could Nora actually be controlled by a soul that ascended in the departure? Perhaps someone angry that they were taken from their life?

The Azrael of Sikhism

Sikh scriptures penned by Guru Nank speak of a figure named Azrael, sent by God to the unrepentant and unfaithful. Similar to other traditions, Azrael hits sinners in the head with his scythe and extracts their souls. He then takes them to be judged and/or punished. This seems a bit at odds with Nora’s tendencies we’ve become familiar with—that is until she tossed that rock through Erika and John’s window. Have we yet to see the worst of Durst?

The Azrael of Folklore

While not considered canonical in any faith tradition, a cleric at St. George’s Cathedral in Jerusalem, named J.E. Hanauer, wrote a book titled Folk-Lore of the Holy Land: Moslem, Christian, and Jewish. In the book, he tells a parable that was customarily told in the traditions of Israel. The parable is about a man with a gambling problem, who makes a deal with Jesus, so he can avoid Azrael. After being refused entry to heaven, he beats the devil in a card game, repents of his sins, and is finally allowed entrance to the pearly gates. We would do well to remember Nora’s brother Matt Jamison’s gambling episode in the first season of the show. More recently, of course, Matt was also denied entry to Miracle. Could this parable be prophetic in the story of Matt and Nora Jamison? Will we see some sort of showdown between Matt and Nora? Perhaps over Mary?

Bucher is active on Twitter and runs his own website.