Divorcing Lilith: from the Babylonian incantation bowls to the Cairo Genizah

Levene, Dan and Bohak, Gideon (2012) Divorcing Lilith: from the Babylonian incantation bowls to the Cairo Genizah. Journal of Jewish Studies, 63, (2), 197-217.


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One of the striking features of ancient Jewish magic is the disappearance of numerous magical spells and formulae that are known to us from the Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowls; spells that come to be absent from the register of later Jewish magic. In the present paper we present one exception to this general rule, by editing a Genizah fragment (Hebrew Union College 1029) that contains a spell which is well attested in the incantation bowls. The fragment in question was copied in the twelfth century as part of a larger magical recipe book. One of its recipes, entitled ‘A deed of divorce for Lilith’, contains an anti-demonic get (divorce formula) which is attested in several different versions in the Babylonian incantation bowls, produced half a millennium earlier. In our paper, we offer a synopsis of all these versions, and a detailed assessment of the significance of this discovery.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 0022-2097 (print)
Keywords: middle ages, egypt, cairo genizah, aramaic, magic, divorce, lilith, magic bowls
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BM Judaism
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
Divisions : University Structure - Pre August 2011 > School of Humanities > Jewish History and Culture
ePrint ID: 185081
Accepted Date and Publication Date:
Date Deposited: 09 May 2011 10:34
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 13:37
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/185081

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