DEMON, DEMONIACAL POSSESSION, DEMONIACS
1. The demonology of the Gospels is based upon beliefs which were current among the Jews previous to the time of Christ; these beliefs arose gradually, and were ultimately stereotyped in the Talmud. For the proper understanding of Gospel demonology some insight into these Jewish beliefs is indispensable. But the demonology of the Jews was profoundly influenced and coloured, at different times, by Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, and Greek teaching on the subject, while the beliefs of these highly cultured peoples were developments of the much earlier conceptions of man in a very much lower stage of civilization,—conceptions which are practically universally prevalent among savage races at the present day. To deal with the subject, therefore, in all its bearings would be impossible here; it must suffice to give references to a few of the many works which deal with the different branches of this vast subject. Details of Jewish demonology must, however, be given, for it will be seen that they are necessary for a proper understanding of Gospel demonology; added to these will be found some few references to the earlier beliefs upon which they are based.
For the beliefs of primitive man
Maury, La Magie et l’Astrologie dans l’antiquite et au moyenage, Paris, 1857; Frazer, The Golden Dough 2, ch. iii. passim. London, 1900; Lang, The Making of Religion 2, ch. vii., London, 1900; Tylor, Primitive Culture, ch. xiv. etc., but the whole work should be studied. Cf. Réville’s Hist. of Religions, chs. iii.–vi., London, 1884.*
For Assyro-Babylonian beliefs
Budge, Assyrian Incantations to Fire and Water, London, 1883; Hommel, Gesch. Bab.
und Ass. pp. 237–269, 388 ff., Berlin, 1885; Jastrow, Die Rei. Bab.
und Ass. ch. xvi., Giessen, 1902 ff.
; A. Jeremias, Das AT
im Lichte des alten Orients, pp. 218 ff., 330, 340 ff., Leipzig, 1904; King, Babylonian Magic and Sorcery, London, 1896, Babylonian Religion and Mythology, p. 200 ff., London, 1899; Lenormant, La Magie chez les Chaldéens et les origines accadiennes, Paris, 1875; Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, v., London, 1887; Stube, Jüdisch-babylonische Zaubertexte, Halle, 1895. Many indirect points of importance will be found in Ball’s Light from the East, London, 1899; Morgenstern, ‘Doctr. of Sin in the Bab.
Rel.’ in Mittheil. der vorderasiat. Gesellsch. iii., 1905; Weber, ‘Dämonenbeschworung bei den Bab.
’ in Der Alte Orient, vii. 4, Leipzig, 1906.
For Egyptian beliefs
Budge, Egyptian Magic, ch. vii., London, 1899; Ed. Meyer, Gesch. des alten Aegyptens, ch. iii., Berlin, 1887; Wiedemann, ‘Magie und Zauberei im alten Aegypten,’ in Der alte Orient, vi. 4, Leipzig, 1905, cf. also, by same author, and in same series, iii. 4, ‘Die Unterhaltungslit. der alten Aegypter.’
For Persian beliefs
Darmesteter, The Zend-A vesta (Part i. ‘The Veodidad’), Fargard xix., xxi.; Geiger, Ostiranische Kultur im Alterthum, § 38, Erlangeo, 1882; Haug, Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings and Religion of the Parsis3
(translation by E. H. West), London, 1884; Spiegel, Eranische Alterthumskunde, vol. ii., Leipzig, 1871–1878; Stave, Ueber den Einfluss des Parsismus auf das Judenthum, Haarlem, 1898
; Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, pp. 138–148, Berlin, 1863.
For Greek beliefs
Gruppe, Die Griechischen Culte und Mythen …, i. pp. 184–196, Leipzig, 1887; Maury, Hist. des Religions de la Grèce antique, i. pp. 565–581, ii. pp. 91–93, iii. pp. 419–443, Paris, 1857; Preller, Griechische Mythologie4
, under ‘Daemonen,’ Berlin, 1887; Roscher, Lexikon der Gr. und Rom.
Mythologie, art. ‘Daimon’
, Leipzig, 1884, etc. See also Lobeck, Agioaphamus, pp. 695, 696, 1092, Berlin, 1829.
For a résumé of Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, and Greek influeoce on Jewish demonology, see the remarkably able series of articles by F. C. Conybcare in JQR
viii. ix. (1896, 1897). See also Encyc. Bibl. art. ‘Demons,’ §§ 7, 11.
2. The Old Testament.—The demonology of the OT is probably somewhat more complex than is sometimes assumed.†
The analogy of other races would prima facie support the inference that the Israelites also had their beliefs in demons (see Literature below). Much weight cannot be laid on the (not frequent) occurrence of δαίμων and δαιμόνιον in the LXX Septuagint, as they stand for varying words in the original; but there are a number of Hebrew expressions which must be connected with demons, it all events as far as the popular imagination was concerned; these are: רוּחַ רָעָה ‘evil spirit, Judges 9:23, 1 Samuel 16:14
; רוּחַ עָוְעָים ‘spirit of perverseness,’ Isaiah 19:14
: שִׁדים ‘demons’, Deuteronomy 32:17, Psalms 106:37
; שְׂעירִים ‘satyrs,’ Leviticus 17:7, Isaiah 13:21
; Isaiah 34:14
; קָמָב ‘destruction,’ conceived of as due to demoniac power, see the whole verse, Psalms 91:6
; עֳליקָה ‘female blood-sucker,’ Proverbs 30:15
; לִילִית ‘night-hag,’ Isaiah 34:13-14
; עֳוָאוִל, Leviticus 16:8
ff. ‘Azazel,’ a desert spirit. This last instance clearly shows how firmly embedded in popular imagination was this belief in evil powers of the solitude.*
It is true that Babylonian influence during and after the Exile was responsible for much of this;†
but that the Israelites from the earliest times, like every other race, peopled the world with innumerable unseen powers, cannot admit of doubt. According to OT conceptions, the evil spirits are not the subjects of some supreme ruler; in the earlier books they are represented as fulfilling the commands of Jehovah in doing harm to men, but later on they seem to enjoy complete independence, though even here the conceptions are not consistent (cf. Job 1:6-12
). When we come to the Apocrypha, we find that an immense development has taken place; see, e.g., Tobit 3:6
; Tobit 3:8
; Deuteronomy 4:6-9
4; Tobit 6:17
; Tobit 8:2
f., Baruch 4:7
; Baruch 4:35,
Wisdom of Solomon 2:24, Sirach 21:27
; cf. as regards other late literature the Book of Enoch 15. 16. 19. 53. The more important literature bearing on this branch of the subject is as follows:—
W. R. Smith, RS
, p. 120 ff.; Wellhausen, Reste Arab.
p. 148 ff.; Doughty, Arabia Deserta, ii. p. 188 ff.; Curtiss, Primitive Semitic Religion To-day, pp. 68, 184, etc.; Nowack, Heb. Arch. ii. p. 186 ff.; Sayce, Hibbert Lectures, 1887, p. 146, etc.; Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, the Encyc. Bibl., and the Jewish Encyc. under artt. ‘Demons,’ ‘Lilith,’ ‘Azazel’; Hamburger’s Real.-Encyc., Riehm’s HWBA, Herzog’s PRE
under artt. ‘Geister,’ ‘Feldgeister,’ ‘Damonen,’ etc. Other works that should be consulted are: Baudissin, Studien zur Sem.
Volksrelig.; Lagrange, Études sur les rel. Semit. 2; Frazer, Golden Bough2
3. Later Judaism.‡
—The following are the Talmudic words for demons: , מַלְאֳבָי חבלה (πνεύματα), רוּחַ טוּמָאָה (πνεῦμα ἀκάθαρτον), רוּחַ רָעָה (πνεῦμα πονηρόν), רוּחַ שֵר (πνεῦμα δαίμονος). See further below. While it is abundantly clear that external influences have left their marks on Jewish demonology, it is certain that much of the latter was of indigenous growth; the whole system, so immense, so intricate, and in many respects so puerile, is stamped too plainly with the Judaic genius for this to be questioned. Only a very brief summary of the main points can be here indicated.§
(a) Origin of demons.—As has not infrequently been found to be the case with Jewish tradition, there are varying accounts; in this case two distinct traditions exist. According to the one, it is said that the demons were created||
by God before the world was made; Satan,¶
who is identical with the serpent, is the chief of the demons. They were of both sexes, and their species was propagated through cohabitation with Adam and Eve during a period of 130 years after the Creation. The other tradition is based on Genesis 6:1-8
(cf. 2 Peter 2:4-5
); two angels, Assael and Shemachsai, loved the daughters of men, and, forsaking their allegiance to God, descended from heaven to earth; one of these angels returned to heaven and did not sin, but the other accomplished his desire, and his offspring became demons.
(b) The nature of demons.—The general name for all demons is mazzîkîn (מַוָּיקָץ), and this indicates their nature, מַוָּיק = ‘one who does harm.’**
The head of them is Satan (הַשָטַן = ‘the adversary’); it is his aim to mislead men into evil, and then to accuse them before God, hence the further name מקטנר (κατήγορος) = ‘accuser’ (cf. Zechariah 3:1
). He is at liberty to enter the Divine presence at all times (cf. Job 1:6
) and accuse men before God; only on the Day of Atonement is he refused admittance. As the angel of death, he is identical with Sammael, who is known also as ‘the head of all the Satans.’ The kingdom of Satan (cf. Mark 3:23
ff.) consists of himself, as head, and an innumerable horde of angels or messengers (מַלאָבים) who do his will;*
this is the exact antithesis of the kingdom of God†
(see, further, Satan). These constitute the first grade of demons, those who were created before the world was made; these were originally in the service of God, but rebelled against Him (cf. Luke 10:18
There are also demons of a lower grade, those, namely, who came into being during the 130 years after the Creation, and who are semi-human;‡
they occupied a position between God and man.§
They have the names (besides those given above) of shçdîm,||
and rûhîn (Aramaic; Heb. rûhôth**
); the first of these is their commonest name. The head of these lower-grade demons is Asmedai††
(Asmodaeus, Tobit 3:8,
cf. Tobit 6:14
; Tobit 8:3
); they have the power of becoming visible or invisible at will; they have wings, and fly all over the world‡‡
for the purpose of harming men; in three respects they resemble man, for they eat and drink, they are able to propagate their species, and are subject to death; they also have the power of assuming various forms, but they usually choose that of men, though with the difference that their feet are hens’ feet, and they are without shadows; they are very numerous (cf. Mark 5:9
)—7½ millions is said to be the number of them, while elsewhere it is stated that every man has ten thousand on his right hand, and a thousand on his left (cf. Psalms 91:5-7
). They live mostly in desert places (cf. Luke 8:29
), where their yells can be heard (cf. Deuteronomy 32:10
‘howling wilderness’); also in unclean places, where their power is great, e.g. in the בֵּית הבסא; in waterless places (cf. Luke 11:24
), for water is the means of cleansing;§§
and among tombs|| ||
(cf. Mark 5:2
), dead bodies being unclean;¶¶
they are most dangerous to the traveller, more especially if he travels alone; they tend to congregate together (cf. Luke 11:26
; Luke 8:2
; Luke 8:30
); at certain times they are more dangerous than at others, viz. at mid-day, when the heat is intense, and from sunset to cock-crowing (cf. Psalms 91:5-6, Mark 14:72, John 13:27
; John 13:30
), after which they return to their abode. Unlike angels, who understand only Hebrew (the ‘holy tongue’ לָשׁוֹן הַקָרשׁ), demons can understand all languages, for they are active among the Gentiles as well as among the Jews, whereas angels restrict their activity among men to the children of Abraham. The power for harm of the demons is greatest among the sick, among women in child-birth, among brides and bridegrooms, mourners, and those who are about to become teachers; further, those who travel by night, and children who are out after dark are specially subject to their attacks. There is one demon, Shabriri, who makes people blind (cf. Matthew 12:22
), and there is a special demon of leprosy, and a demon of heart-disease. As emissaries of the angel of death, Sammael (the ‘full of eyes,’ cf. the Greek Argus), men are in constant dread of them (cf. Hebrews 2:14-16
). It was also believed that demons were able to transfer some of their powers to men, and especially to women; so, for example, the secret of magic drinks, which could harm people in various ways (cf. Mark 16:18
), and change them into animals; they could also endow men with the faculty of exercising the ‘evil eye’ (cf. Mark 7:22,
see also Sirach 31:13,
and cf. Sirach 14:8
; Sirach 14:10, Tobit 4:16
), by means of which the good fortune of others could be turned to evil; there is a special formula for use against the ‘evil eye.’*
4 There are certain animals in league with the demons (cf. Luke 8:32
), such as serpents (cf. Mark 16:18, Acts 28:3-6
and mosquitoes. The shçdim are male demons; female demons are called lilin, ‘night-spirits,’ from the qneen of the demons, Lilith (cf. Isaiah 34:14
); they have long flowing hair, and are the enemies of children, for which reason special angels have charge of children (cf. Matthew 18:10, Hebrews 1:14
(c) Safeguards against demons.§
5 —God is the only ultimate protector against demons; but He sends His angels to counteract their deeds, and to help men to withstand their attacks (cf. Matthew 18:10, Mark 1:13
). At the same time, God has given to man various means whereby to nullify the machinations of demons. First among these is the saying of the Shema‘ (i.e. the Jewish profession of faith contained in Deuteronomy 6:4
ff.), because the holy name occurs in it; then, prayer to God (cf. Mark 9:29
). There are also special formulas which are effective, either for warding off an attack or for throwing off the demoniacal influence, e.g. ‘The Lord rebuke thee, Satan’ (cf. Zechariah 3:2, Judges 1:9
); Psalms 91 is recommended for recitation before going to sleep; a demon may be chased away by repeatedly calling out his name, but uttering one syllable less each time;||
obedience to certain commands is also a safe-guard, e.g. fixing the mĕzu̇zâh,¶ [Note: A small glass or metal case, containing " translation="">1618530770_38; <