« Asinarii Asmodeus Asmoneans »

Asmodeus

ASMODEUS, as´´mo-dî´Us (in the Talmud, Ashmedai): An ” evil spirit,” first mentioned in the apocryphal book of Tobit (iii, 8), as loving Sara, the daughter of Raguel at Ecbatana, and causing the death of her seven successive husbands on the bridal night. But Tobias, the eighth, escaped, under the direction of Raphael, by burning ” the ashes of the perfumes” with the heart and liver of a fish which he had caught in the Tigris. When Asmodeus smelled the fumes, he fled to Upper Egypt, and was bound there by Raphael (Tobit viii, 1-3). The figure of this demon is taken from the Persians who greatly influenced later Jewish angelology and demonology. He is Parsee in origin, and to be identified with Æshma of the Avesta, the impersonation of anger (the primary meaning) and rapine.

Once adopted by the Jews, Asmodeus, thanks to rabbinic fancies, took on greater dimensions. Thus he is said to have been implicated in Noah’s drunkenness and to be the offspring of the incest of Tubal-cain with his sister Naamah; he is reputed to have driven Solomon from his kingdom, but later Solomon forced him to serve in building the Temple, which he did noiselessly by means of the worm Shamir, whose whereabouts he revealed to Solomon.

Bibliography: J. A. Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, i, 351-361, 823, Frankfort, 1700; A. F. Gfrörer, Geschichte des Urchristenthums, i. 378-424, Stuttgart, 1838; T. Benfey and M. A. Stern, Ueber die Monatsnamen, p. 201, Berlin, 1836; F. H. H. Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, ed. F. Spiegel, pp. 138-147, ib. 1863; Kohut, Ueber die jüdische Angelologie und Dämonologie in ihrer Abhängigkeit vom Parsismus, in Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes, iv (1866), 72-86; F. Spiegel, Eranische Alterthumskunde, ii, 131-133, Leipsic, 1873; Grünbaum, Beiträge zur vergleichenden Mythologie aus der Haggada, in ZDMG, xxxi (1877). 215-224; consult also commentaries on Tobit.

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