Thursday, January 22, 2015
The Devil In The Land Of Canaan (Part 1)
With all of that said, we don't know very much about the devils of the Canaanite world. However, we think they are reflected in some way, shape, or form in the evil beings of ancient Hebrew folklore. Within the Israelite cult, there were no official ways to ward off demons, neither did they compose prayers to beg the Lord to protect the people from demonic attacks. Still we realize that the Hebrews believed in the existence of evil beings.
In Lev. 17:7 we are told that the Israelites sacrificed to the se'irim (the "hairy ones"), a type of dangerous beings who lived among the sands or the ruins.
Historically, the Jewish people also believed that early evening circulated a dangerous devil called Lilith, related no doubt with the Babylonian demon Lilith, the "Night Creature," who was also the god of storms.
Deuteronomy 32:17 says that the Israelites worshiped the shedim, a term translated as "demons" in general because it lacks a more precise translation. It is now thought that these shedim would have been assistants or those that prepared ceremonies (i.e., the plural of God Shedu in the Babylonian pantheon, which was a kind of divinity taking the shape of a bull who appeared to some as good and to others evil). The name of Shedu is connected to the root shud ("to be strong"). In Hebrew the verb shadad means "to devastate," and for Jews shedim would be "the 'devastating spirits' par excellence."
Also, in the desert there lived other evil beings, known as the iyyim or tsiyyim (the "thirsty ones"), which, according to popular imagination, had to take the form of jackals and wild cats.
According to Gen. 4:7 there was a demon named robets (related to the Babylonian rabitsu "squatting") who attacked men and, in this particular case, was the one who prompted Cain to kill his brother.
Based on Leviticus 16 we know that all the people believed in the existence of a powerful demon named Azazel, who dwelt in the wilderness and to whom were sent all the sins of the people on the great day of purification. On that day sin entered into the body of a goat thanks to a magical act, the laying on of the hands of the High Priest.
In the primitive world of the Canaanites, we find many demons. What we don't find is an organized structure or a "boss" to exercise control over all of them.