Download e-book for iPad: Ancient Jewish Magic: A History by Gideon Bohak

By Gideon Bohak

ISBN-10: 0521180988

ISBN-13: 9780521180986

ISBN-10: 0521874572

ISBN-13: 9780521874571

Gideon Bohak offers a pioneering account of the huge historical past of historical Jewish magic, from the second one Temple to the rabbinic interval. it's established either on historic magicians' personal compositions and items in Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek, and at the descriptions and prescriptions of non-magicians, to reconstruct a ancient photograph that's as balanced and nuanced as attainable. the main target is at the cultural makeup of historic Jewish magic, and distinct awareness is paid to the procedures of cross-cultural contacts and borrowings among Jews and non-Jews, in addition to to inner-Jewish creativity. different significant concerns explored comprise where of magic inside Jewish society, modern Jewish attitudes to magic, and the id of its practitioners. all through, the e-book seeks to give an explanation for the methodological underpinnings of all sound examine during this tough box, and to spotlight parts the place extra study is probably going to turn out fruitful.

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Extra resources for Ancient Jewish Magic: A History

Example text

The same, we may now add, holds true for the sacred appurtenances, whose power also has its limits. In one case, after losing a battle against the Philistines, the Israelites decided to take the Ark of the Covenant from the Shiloh sanctuary and bring it, together with the two priests – Eli’s sons, H . as – who were in charge of it, to the battlefield. The Ark’s arrival had a dramatic effect in boosting the spirits of the Israelite warriors and depressing those of their opponents – a sure sign of the psychological effects of the presence of powerful sacred objects.

And what about the use of spells and incantations, of materia magica, abracadabra words, or arcane magical signs and symbols? 25 All other Jews, however, could go on practicing their magical and divinatory activities and honestly insist that these were not forbidden by the biblical legislation. If we charge such Jews with duplicity, it only testifies to our inability to understand the complex relations between a religious community and its sacred texts. Some biblical paradigms When post-biblical Jews read the Hebrew Bible, they found in it not only the disjointed and vague set of prohibitions which we have just surveyed.

11–15. 34 Ancient Jewish magic uses of the power of the sacred. This, however, is an issue to which we shall return in subsequent chapters. Summary Incomplete and sketchy as they might be, our surveys of the biblical passages pertaining to magic should suffice to highlight the two main features of the biblical handling of this topic. First, that the legislation against magic and divination is far from precise when it comes to what exactly is forbidden and what is not. Second, that other sections of the Hebrew Bible make it clear that many magical activities are permitted, and even encouraged, as long as they are conducted by the right people and in the right manner.

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Ancient Jewish Magic: A History by Gideon Bohak

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