Continued from Jewish Oral Law Part 3, Treatment of Heretics
Oral Tradition writes about evil spirits and demons.
Here is a sampling just from Talmud and Midrash Genesis Rabbah.
Sanhedrin 101a Demons may not be consulted on Sabbath.
Chagigah 16a “Our Rabbis taught: Six things are said
concerning demons: in regard to three, they
are like the ministering angels; and in regard
to three, like human beings. ‘In regard to
three they are like the ministering angels’:
they have wings like the ministering angels;
and they fly from one end of the world to the
other like the ministering angels; and they
know what will happen like the ministering
Pesachim 112b “ ‘And do not go out alone at night’, for it was taught: One should not go out alone at night, i.e., on
the nights of neither Wednesday nor Sabbaths, because Igrath the daughter of Mahalath [queen of demons] she and one hundred eighty thousand destroying angels go forth, and each has permission to wreak destruction independently.”
Berachoth 6a If one wants to discover them [the foot print of demons], let him take sifted ashes and sprinkle around his bed, and in the morning he will see something like the footprints of a cock. If one wishes to see them, let him take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, let him roast it in fire and grind it to powder, and then let him put some into his eye, and he will see them.
Nidah 24b - Rab Judah citing Samuel ruled: If an abortion had the likeness of Lilith its mother is unclean by reason of the birth, for it is a child, but it has wings. The notes explain Lilith - A female demon of the night, reputed to have wings and a human face.
Gittin 68b Ashmedai is the prince of the demons. This Talmud also discusses some supernatural events involving this demon.
Sabbath 151b R. Hanina said: One may not sleep in a house alone, and whoever sleeps in a house alone is seized by Lilith.
Genesis Rabbah 7 - G-d created the souls of the demons, but did not complete their bodies on account of G-d resting on Sabbath. Thus the demons remained without body.
Genesis Rabbah 9 R. Phinehas said : In the sixth [day of creation] He [G-d] created six things: Adam, Eve, creeping things, cattle, beasts, and demons.
The Encyclopedia of Judaism - 1989 Editor in Chief Geoffrey Wigoder
Page 202 - The Pseudepigrapha, Midrash and Talmud contain a highly developed demonology. “The Talmud records various incantations and adjurations against demons.” Hillel and Johanan Ben Takkai understood the speech of demons.
In the middle ages belief in their existence and potency for harm was commonly accepted among Jews. Judah Halevi and the Ramban argued they existed. The Shulchan Aruch contains a few laws that reflect a belief in demons. Ibn Ezra and Rambam denounced believers in demons as sinners.
[There is no evidence for the existence of demons. Moreover, we have the laws of physics and they operate without the intervention of any demons. If somebody claims there are demons that interact with the world that is tantamount to claiming the suspension of known physical laws.
It is much more likely demons don’t exist. They were the inventions of ancient ignorant superstitious peoples.]
- Alter Cocker Jewish Atheist
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