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From: "Mark Millman" <Mark_Millman@hmco.com>
Subject: Re: (urth) Re: Digest urth.v019.n026
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 12:07:07 

On 22 October 1998 at 6:21 am GMT,
Sergeant Rock (Peter T. Cash) wrote:

> Actually, I'd be very interested in learning
> more about [supernatural evil in Judaism].
> Where would one look to find supernatural
> evil in Judaism? I'm not sure I can find it in
> the Old Testament, though it's present in
> the New. Sure, you've got the talking "ser-
> pent" in the Garden, but he was just a mis-
> chievous dragon, as far as I can tell. You've
> got the "Accuser" in Job, but he seems part
> of the heavenly crowd, sort of God's prose-
> cuting attorney. If you're talking about mod-
> ern Jewish literature, then the supernatural
> evil couldn't possibly be a pre-Semitic sur-
> vival, could it?

To which alga (Alice Turner) responded at
12:52 pm GMT:

> [T]he most famous (and popular too, in the
> feminist millennial crowd) supernatural He-
> brew figure is Lilith, akin to the Sumerian Liltu,
> and Adam's first wife. She ditched him be-
> cause he insisted on the missionary position
> during sex while she wanted to be on top from
> time to time. (This was edited out of Genesis--
> the rib story follows.) She was then demonized
> into a) the mother of a huge breed of demons
> b) a demon who preys on newborns. Typical
> male revision. Anyway, she is quite similar to
> Babylonian Jahi (literally Revelation's Whore
> of Babylon), whom we met in Dr. Talos's play.

And Alex David Groce added at 1:52 pm GMT:

> Hmmm...  The idols of the surrounding tribes
> are pretty much treated as without power; I
> can't think of an instance where they actually
> do anything--although the only times they
> would be doing anything would be in "com-
> petition" with God and even if they were seen
> as actual beings or shadows of some (sha-
> dowy itself...) being they'd still be null in that
> case...

As alga points out, the example that comes most
readily to mind is Lilith.  Although her story has
been edited out of Genesis, it can be found in the
Talmud, along with a lot of other material that was
either deemed unsuitable for inclusion in the Bible
or was treated as sub-canonical--folkloric mater-
ials and the like.

A good example of a being mentioned in contrast
to God in the Torah is Azazel (in Leviticus 16, as
part of the discussion of atonement ritual).  The so-
called scapegoat is a mistranslation; the Hebrew
phrase "goat for Azazel" is somewhat similar to
"the goat that departs or escapes", and was so
rendered by William Tyndale in his 1530 Bible
translation.  The goat for Azazel was released into
the desert carrying the sins of the people; I belive
that Azazel was then supposed to consume it in
some fashion.  So while Azazel gets pretty short
shrift, it does seem that he (a) has a function; (b)
has enough substance or capability to exercise it;
and (c) consumes sin.  I don't know whether either
ancient or modern opinion holds that the consump-
tion of sin implies that Azazel may be evil (i.e., be-
ing evil, Azazel must feed on evil), however.

As Alex points out, most of the surrounding pagan
Semitic idolatrous gods are mentioned merely as
abominations or things to be avoided--Moloch falls
into this category, as do Ba'al and others less well-

Mark Millman

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