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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), pp. 197-217.

Record type: Article


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.

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Published date: 2012
Keywords: middle ages, egypt, cairo genizah, aramaic, magic, divorce, lilith, magic bowls
Organisations: Jewish History and Culture


Local EPrints ID: 185081
ISSN: 0022-2097
PURE UUID: 08ab47e5-cd55-46f3-8c01-85bf34d7fdaa

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Date deposited: 09 May 2011 10:34
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 11:50

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