The Demonic Bible


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Even in Israelite popular religion, however, there seems to have been relatively little fear of the spirits of the dead. The Bible often mentions the shades of the dead, but "the congregation of the shades" Prov. Some features of the Israelite cult bear a formal resemblance to apotropaic measures employed in other religions. Thus, the bells on the robe of the high priest Ex. So, also, horns Ex. In a given case, however, it is often extremely difficult to say to what extent any of these devices were consciously used for protection against demons at a particular period.

Foreign gods are called shedim Deut. I Cor. These creatures haunt ruins, along with Lilith Isa. The tradition that the name means "screech-owl" in so many translations reflects a very ancient association of birds, especially owls, with the demonic. The proper name, not the common noun, should probably be understood in Isaiah , "We have made a covenant with Death," and Jeremiah [Eng. Resheph is known as the god of plague over much of the ancient Near East, in texts and artistic representations spanning more than a millennium from B.


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This is similar to the picture of two divine attendants who escort major gods in ancient myths. Just as some other names of deities are used as common nouns in biblical Hebrew Dagon dagon , "grain" ; Ashtaroth ashtarot , "increase [of the flock]" , etc. The "Arrow" is a familiar symbol in folklore, for disease or sudden pain, and Ketev Qetev ; cf.

Most of the rabbinic commentators and some moderns take Azazel as the name of the place to which the goat is driven. The great majority of moderns regard Azazel as the personal name of a demon thought to live in the wilderness. A great change had taken place in angelology and demonology, at least in certain circles within Judaism, by the last centuries B. In this period the religion, while safeguarding its monotheistic character in various ways, nevertheless took on many traits of a dualistic system in which God and the forces of good and truth were opposed in heaven and on earth by powerful forces of evil and deceit.

This seems to have been under the influence of Persian religion, with its opposition of Ormuzd the good god and Ahriman Angra Mainyu the evil god, but at the same time Jewish dualism drew on older, native resources in constructing a more elaborate demonology. Ancient mythological themes, and figures from the Bible only potentially demonic, like Satan, were drawn in to fill out the enlarged conception of the role of evil spirits in the cosmos.

It is characteristic of this period that the evil spirits are led by a prince, often called Belial but also Mastemah, Satan , or other names. The spirits of good and evil also struggled within the human soul, for in this period the role of demons is often conceived of as that of tempting men to evil rather than of inflicting physical harm. As a result, in many passages it is difficult to say whether "spirit" refers to a demon external to man or to a trait within the human soul.

Belial or Beliar, a corruption of the original form is the most common name for the leader of the demons in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and occurs in other intertestamental literature and in II Corinthians Belial Heb. Beliyya'al is a Hebrew compound word which etymologically means "no benefit" or "no thriving" and in liberal usage is often equivalent to "scoundrel. In the intertestamental literature Belial is "the spirit of perversion, the angel of darkness, the angel of destruction" and other spirits are subject to him.

Mastemah, which as a common noun means approximately "enmity, opposition" in Hosea , 8 and in some passages in the Five Scrolls, is a demon "Prince Mastemah" in Jubilees , 11; ; et al. Watchers Aram. To this class the intertestamental literature assigns the angels who, according to Genesis , 4, cohabited with women before the flood and fathered the race of giants Test. Genesis Apocryphon , ii , Asmodeus Tobit , 17 is a demon who had slain the first seven husbands of Sarah, who becomes the wife of Tobias son of Tobit.

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New Testament demonology in part reflects contemporary popular belief, which turns up also in rabbinic literature, and in part the dualism attested in the sectarian literature from Qumran. Demons are called "unclean spirits" or "evil spirits," as in rabbinic literature. They are believed to inhabit waste places. Possession by demons causes, or is associated with, various sicknesses, especially those in which there is a perversion of the human personality, so that the demon, not the man himself, directs his acts and speech Mark , 26; — The story of how Jesus cured a demoniac by sending a legion of unclean spirits into a herd of swine Matt.

On the other hand, in the New Testament lesser demons have little independent personality or power, but are subject to a prince, Beelzebul or Satan, and the demonic is often presented, not as something occasional and relatively harmless, but as a cosmic reality of great importance, the enemy of God and man Eph. Beelzebul Beelzebub is a name applied to the chief demon by both Jesus and his opponents Matt.

The correct explanation of the name is much disputed, and new evidence from Ugarit has not completely cleared up the etymology. Possibly there were two different original forms, Beelzebul meaning "Baal is prince" or "Lord of the shrine," and Beelzebub "Lord of flies" cf. References are made to a belief in demonology during the tannaitic period. The mazzikim "harmful spirits" are said to have been created on the eve of the Sabbath of creation Avot but this late reference is the only one made to demons in the entire Mishnah.

Among the accomplishments of both Hillel Sof. Johanan b. Zakkai was their knowledge of "the speech of the shedim " "devils," Suk. The latter also gave the analogy of a ru'ah tezazit "the demon of madness" entering a man and being exorcised, in order to explain to a heathen the anomaly of the laws of the red heifer , although he agreed with his wondering disciples that it was but "putting him off with a straw" and that he himself did not accept it PR 40a; Num.


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Although these statements refer to Erez Israel, the Jerusalem Talmud is markedly free from demonology, and in fact mentions only three general names for them — mazzikim, shedim , and ruhot. A passage in the Babylonian Talmud specifically states that various beliefs connected with demons which were current in Babylon were ignored in Erez Israel.

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Whereas in Erez Israel they translated shiddah and shiddot Eccles. The Palestinian R. Johanan stated that the mazzikim which used to hold sway in the world disappeared with the erection of the sanctuary in the wilderness Num. Demonology, however, is more prominent in the Palestinian Midrashim than in the Jerusalem Talmud. On the other hand the Babylonian Talmud is replete with demonology, obviously under the influence of the belief in demons which was widespread in Babylonia.

In fact, in a responsum published in Lewin, Ozar, p. Assaf, Geonim, p. The Babylonian Jews lived in a world which was filled with demons and spirits, malevolent and sometimes benevolent, who inhabited the air, the trees, water, roofs of houses, and privies. They are invisible; "If the eye could see them no one could endure them.

They surround one on all sides. They are more numerous than humans, each person has a thousand on his left and ten thousand on his right" and they are responsible for various inconveniences. Yet, by taking certain steps, in the morning one can see their footprints in the shape of those of a cock Ber. Whereas in the Kabbalah there is an attempt to systematize demonology see below there is no sign of such an attempt in the talmudic literature. The material is vast and inchoate, scattered in profusion and without system throughout the whole Talmud and in the Midrashim.

The following details, taken except where otherwise indicated from one passage of the Talmud Pes. Asmodeus is the king of the demons.

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Demons and the Bible - Olive Tree Blog

The queen is Agrath bat Mahalath , who has 10, demon attendants, each of whom can do harm. She haunts the air. Originally she held sway at all times, but Hanina b. Dosa, threatening to ban her from populated areas, relented in answer to her pleas and permitted her to be active on Wednesday nights and Sabbath eves.

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The Babylonian amora Abbaye later banished her from populated areas but she still lurks in the narrow alleys. Doing things in pairs, especially drinking an even number of cups, invites the malevolent activities of demons; an exception is the four cups enjoined in the seder on Passover for which reason that occasion is called "a night of guarding" Ex. Demons are especially harmful in and around palm trees, and their malevolent attention is invited by easing oneself between a palm tree and the wall, by passing between two palms, or by sleeping in the shadow of a palm tree. The demon Palga will affect a man easing himself on the stump of a palm tree; the demon Zereda him who leans his head on one.

In general one should avoid many-branched or prickly trees, but there are special trees which are the favorite haunts of the spirits. In the caperbush there resides the eyeless Ruhe. Every sorb tree harbors demons in its shade and is especially dangerous when it is in the vicinity of a town. At least 60 demons haunt it, and they can be exorcised only by a "60 demon amulet.

The demon Ketev Meriri Deut. It was seen by Abbaye when he was in the company of Papa and Huna b.

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