Thursday, March 01, 2007


The real world is making demands this morning, and I may not get much time to blog today.

In the meantime, check out the Jewish Encyclopedia entry for Magic.

Notice that

official Judaism bitterly opposed black magic, there was a constant stream of prohibitions against it, and from these the existence of various forms of witchcraft can be inferred. The secret Jewish name of God was a powerful factor in incantation, as is shown by the Egyptian magic papyri written in Greek, in which heathen and Jewish names of the Deity are frequently found in juxtaposition or combination, termed..."union"...by the Talmud...

However the article also states:

This ingrained belief in magic infected even the scholars; for although they did not practise (sic) witchcraft for gain or for unlawful ends, they occasionally counteracted black magic by white...Healing by means of white magic is not condemned except when the means employed are pagan or idolatrous...since this magic was regarded as a punishment for sins which had been committed, the passages of the Talmud which mention it take no exception to it...

That appears to represent two divergent streams of thought regarding magic within the Jewish community--one applied to black magic and the other to white magic.

Then there is this passage:

According to the Book of Enoch...the angels taught the daughters of men "incantations, exorcisms, and the cutting of roots, and revealed to them healing plants"...Noah's book of healing (Jubilees, x.) was magical in character, as were the writings of Solomon and Moses...

In the Middle Ages, as in antiquity, the Jews were regarded as magicians, and many of them doubtless profited by the general delusion....The Jews were considered sorcerers in Germany also...In times of drought, during the Middle Ages, the people turned to the Jews, who were supposed to be able to cause rain, and they are still regarded by some peoples as magicians.

With the following passage we get much closer to modern occultists' cited sources:

The scholars of the first centuries of the present era refer frequently and unanimously to Egypt as the original home of magic...In the Bible the real homes of all varities of witchcraft are given as Egypt...The influence of Egypt admits of no doubt as regards post-Biblical Judaism, which was for a long period under the control of the Ptolemies both in its civilization and its government. The Egypto-Hellenistic syncretism influenced first the Hellenistic Jews, especially those of Alexandria, and through them the Jews of Palestine. The Jewish and Judaeo-Christian view as to the source of Hebrew magic is confirmed by the Books of Hermes and by the recently discovered Greek and Coptic magic papyri, in which the Jewish element is no small factor; and Jacob...has recently proved that the belief in the almighty power of the name of God is Egyptian in origin....

There is no doubt that the majority of the theurgic and magic elements in the post-Talmudic literature which Jellinek collected in his "Bet ha-Midrash," date from Talmudic, and in part even from pre-Talmudic, times....This ancient magic, blended with Hellenistic and medieval European elements, was incorporated in the "practical Cabala." At the close of the Middle Ages the Cabala influenced the Jewish and the Christian world alike. The "Nishmat Hayyim" of Manasseh ben Israel, chief rabbi in Amsterdam in the seventeenth century, is filled with superstition and magic, and many Christian scholars were deluded. The evil deeply and widely infected the people, and is still active, especially among the Hasidim.



Books on Jewish magic at Amazon.com. Check it out.

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