|Ashmodai as Depicted in Collin de Plancy's Dictionnaire Infernal.|
‘And do not go out alone at night’, for it was taught: One should not go out alone at night, i.e., on the nights of neither Wednesday nor Sabbaths, because Igrath the daughter of Mahalath,25 she and one hundred eighty thousand destroying angels go forth, and each has permission to wreak destruction independently. Originally they were about a day. On one occasion she met R. Hanina b. Dosa [and] said to him, ‘Had they not made an announcement concerning you in Heaven, "Take heed of Hanina and his learning," I would have put you in danger.’ ‘If I am of account in Heaven,’ replied he, ‘I order you never to pass through settled regions.’ ‘I beg you,’ she pleaded, ‘leave me a little room.’ So he left her the nights of Sabbaths and the nights of Wednesdays. On another occasion she met Abaye. Said she to him, ‘Had they not made an announcement about you in Heaven, "Take heed of Nahmani26 and his learning," I would have put you in danger.’ ‘If I am of account in Heaven,’ replied he, ‘I order you never to pass through settled regions.’ But we see that she does pass through? — I will tell you: Those are
(1) Euphemism: The wife thinks always of her first husband.
(2) Lit., ‘hire.’
(3) Lit., ‘a large body’. The passage is a difficult one, particularly with the reading of the ed. לא, but it would seem to refer to lending money on a field and receiving some of its produce in part repayment. But as its value is probably calculated at less than market price, this is a profitable investment, yet at the same time there is no actual interest. Such a transaction is permitted (B.M. 67b). ‘Ar. and MS.M. read: ולו, and Jast. accordingly translates: An act of charity and at the same time a good investment is the act of him who helps to produce fruits, while he has the reward (e.g. , one who loans money to a husbandman on security, allowing payment in small instalments).
(4) I.e., R. Judah ha-Nasi.
(5) A town in Babylonia, on the cast side of the Tigris; v. Obermeyer, Landschaft, pp. 190f. It is there (p. 191, n. 4) pointed out, however, that R. Judah, a Palestinian, would have had no occasion to warn his children against living in a town in Babylonia, nor could he have known the character of its inhabitants well enough to justify this warning; hence it is conjectured that ‘Raba’ should be read here instead.
(6) V. Ber. 8b.
(7) Rashbam: the ox is mad, as explained infra.
(8) The first month-about April.
(9) The technical name of an ox that has not yet gored three times. When it has, it is called mu'ad.
(10) With which to chase it away or to urge it to work.
(11) Perhaps the ancient equivalent of ‘yo heave ho’. [MS.M. reads simply: ‘hayya, hayya’].
(13) Rashi and Rashbam. I.e., before it is completely dressed.
(14) Probably mullet (Jast.).
(15) At a bath.
(16) Which it may still contain.
(17) MS.M.: Without shoes.
(18) V. p. 348, n. 8. M == Mum (blemish); K == mekah (a purchase); SH == ishteka (your wife).
(19) Lit., ‘stand over.’
(20) V. B.M. 58b and notes a.l. in Sonc. ed.
(21) By which a woman performs tebillah seven days after the beginning of menstruation, even if menstruation lasted all the seven days. Subsequently, however, it was enacted that she must wait seven days from the end of menstruation. Rab observes that R. Ishmael's charge held good only when the more lenient Scriptural law was practised.
(22) I.e., her blood-flow has continued almost until tebillah.
(23) During intimacy.
(24) Through the heat.
(25) The queen of demons.
(26) Abaye was so called because he was brought up in the house of Rabbah b. Nahman.Pesachim 110a:
R. Joseph said: The demon Joseph told me [that] Ashmedai the king of the demons is appointed over all pairs.’16 and a king is not designated a harmful spirit.17 Others explain it in the opposite sense: On the contrary, a king is quick-tempered [and] does whatever he wishes, for a king can break through a wall to make a pathway for himself and none may stay him.18
R. Papa said, Joseph the demon told me: For two we kill; for four we do not kill, [but] for four we harm [the drinker]. For two [we hurt] whether [they are drunk] unwittingly or deliberately; for four, only if it is deliberate, but not if it is unwitting. And if a man forgot himself and happened to go out,19 what is his remedy? Let him take his right-hand thumb in his left hand and his left-hand thumb in his right hand and say thus: ‘Ye [two thumbs] and I, surely that is three!20 But if he hears one saying, ‘Ye and I, surely that is four!’ let him retort to him, ‘Ye and I are surely five!’ And if he hears one saying, ‘Ye and I are six,’ let him retort to him, ‘Ye and I are seven.21 This once happened until a hundred and one , and the demon burst [with mortification].
Amemar said: The chief of the sorceresses told me: He who meets sorceresses should say thus: ‘Hot dung in perforated baskets for your mouths, o ye witches! may your heads become bald,22 the wind carry off your crumbs,23
(1) Hence they do not combine.
(2) The second is occasioned by a new desire, and does not combine with, the first.
(3) Through intimacy.
(4) Since eating or drinking in pairs has already made him more susceptible to hurt than he would otherwise have been.
(5) i.e., if he does not go out between the drinks.
(6) That pairs is harmful.
(7) At each cup he mentally counted one beam, to ensure not drinking in pairs.
(8) Likewise that he should not drink in pairs.
(9) Though in a these cases they were remaining at home.
(10) The demons are at greater pains to hurt him; hence he is endangered even when staying at home.
(11) ‘Shalom’ (peace) is the seventh word (in Heb.) of the verse The Lord lift up His countenance upon tee, and give thee peace (Num. VI, 26). Hence the seventh cup combines with others for good etc. as on p. 565, n. 5.
(12) Wiyhuneka is the fifth Hebrew word of the verse, The Lord make His face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee (ibid. 25).
(13) This is the third word of the verse, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee (ibid. 24).
(14) Or, the Levite.
(15) He would raise difficulties in the course of my public lectures, thereby putting me to shame.
(16) Those who drink in pairs are at his mercy.
(17) It is beneath his dignity to cause hurt. Hence there is generally no danger in pairs (though occasionally he may disregard his dignity — Rashbam).
(18) Hence the danger is all the greater.
(19) After drinking ‘pairs.’
(20) Thus breaking the spell of pairs.
(21) And so on.
(22) Lit., ‘bald be your baldness’ — they practised witchcraft with their hair.
(23) Likewise used in the practice of witchcraft. Rashbam holds that this is an allusion to Ezek. XIII, 18f, q.v.Gittin 68a:
The Master said: Here they translate 'male and female demons'. For what did Solomon want them? — As indicated in the verse, And the house when it was in building was made of stone made ready at the quarry, [there was neither hammer nor axe nor any tool of iron heard in the house while it was in building];11 He said to the Rabbis, How shall I manage [without iron tools]? — They replied, There is the shamir12 which Moses brought for the stones of the ephod. He asked them, Where is it to be found? — They replied, Bring a male and a female demon and tie them together; perhaps they know and will tell you. So he brought a male and a female demon and tied them together. They said to him, We do not know, but perhaps Ashmedai the prince of the demons knows. He said to them, Where is he? — They answered, He is in such-and-such a mountain. He has dug a pit there, which he fills with water and covers with a stone, which he then seals with his seal. Every day he goes up to heaven and studies in the Academy of the sky and then he comes down to earth and studies in the Academy of the earth, and then he goes and examines his seal and opens [the pit] and drinks and then closes it and seals it again and goes away. Solomon thereupon sent thither Benaiahu son of Jehoiada, giving him a chain on which was graven the [Divine] Name and a ring on which was graven the Name and fleeces of wool and bottles of wine. Benaiahu went and dug a pit lower down the hill and let the water flow into it13 and stopped [the hollow] With the fleeces of wool, and he then dug a pit higher up and poured the wine into it14 and then filled up the pits. He then went and sat on a tree. When Ashmedai came he examined the seal, then opened the pit and found it full of wine. He said, it is written, Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whosoever erreth thereby is not wise,15 and it is also written, Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the understanding.16 I will not drink it. Growing thirsty, however, he could not resist, and he drank till he became drunk, and fell asleep. Benaiahu then came down and threw the chain over him and fastened it. When he awoke he began to struggle, whereupon he [Benaiahu] said, The Name of thy Master is upon thee, the Name of thy Master is upon thee. As he was bringing him along, he came to a palm tree and rubbed against it and down it came. He came to a house and knocked it down. He came to the hut of a certain widow. She came outGittin 68b:
and besought him, and he bent down so as not to touch it, thereby breaking a bone. He said, That bears out the verse, A soft tongue breaketh the bone1 He saw a blind man straying from his way and he put him on the right path. He saw a drunken man losing his way and he put him on his path. He saw a wedding procession making its way merrily and he wept. He heard a man say to a shoemaker, Make me a pair of shoes that will last seven years, and he laughed. He saw a diviner practising divinations and he laughed. When they reached Jerusalem he was not taken to see Solomon for three days. On the first day he asked, Why does the king not want to see me? They replied, Because he has overdrunk himself. So he took a brick and placed it on top of another. When they reported this to Solomon he said to them, What he meant to tell you was, Give him more to drink. On the next day he said to them, Why does the king not want to see me? They replied, Because he has over-eaten himself. He thereupon took one brick from off the other and placed it on the ground. When they reported this to Solomon, he said, He meant to tell you to keep food away from me. After three days he went in to see him. He took a reed and measured four cubits and threw it in front of him, saying, See now, when you die you will have no more than four cubits in this world. Now, however, you have subdued the whole world, yet you are not satisfied till you subdue me too. He replied: I want nothing of you. What I want is to build the Temple and I require the shamir. He said: It is not in my hands, it is in the hands of the Prince of the Sea who gives it only to the woodpecker,2 to whom he trusts it on oath. What does the bird do with it? — He takes it to a mountain where there is no cultivation and puts it on the edge of the rock which thereupon splits, and he then takes seeds from trees and brings them and throws them into the opening and things grow there. (This is what the Targum means by nagar tura).3 So they found out a woodpecker's nest with young in it, and covered it over with white glass. When the bird came it wanted to get in but could not, so it went and brought the shamir and placed it on the glass. Benaiahu thereupon gave a shout, and it dropped [the shamir] and he took it, and the bird went and committed suicide on account of its oath.
Benaiahu said to Ashmedai, Why when you saw that blind man going out of his way did you put him right? He replied: It has been proclaimed of him in heaven that he is a wholly righteous man, and that whoever does him a kindness will be worthy of the future world. And why when you saw the drunken man going out of his way did you put him right? He replied, They have proclaimed concerning him in heaven that he is wholly wicked, and I conferred a boon on him in order that he may consume [here] his share [in the future].4 Why when you saw the wedding procession did you weep? He said: The husband will die within thirty days, and she will have to wait for the brother-in-law who is still a child of thirteen years.5 Why, when you heard a man say to the shoemaker, Make me shoes to last seven years, did you laugh? He replied: That man has not seven days to live, and he wants shoes for seven years! Why when you saw that diviner divining did you laugh? He said: He was sitting on a royal treasure: he should have divined what was beneath him.
Solomon kept him with him until he had built the Temple. One day when he was alone with him, he said, it is written, He hath as it were to'afoth and re'em,6 and we explain that to'afoth means the ministering angels and re'em means the demons.7 What is your superiority over us?8 He said to him, Take the chain off me and give me your ring, and I will show you. So he took the chain off him and gave him the ring. He then swallowed him,9 and placing one wing on the earth and one on the sky he hurled him four hundred parasangs. In reference to that incident Solomon said, What profit is there to a man in all his labour wherein he laboureth under the sun.10
And this was my portion from all my labour.11 What is referred to by 'this'? — Rab and Samuel gave different answers, one saying that it meant his staff and the other that it meant his apron.12 He used to go round begging, saying wherever he went, I Koheleth was king over Israel in Jerusalem.13 When he came to the Sanhedrin, the Rabbis said: Let us see, a madman does not stick to one thing only.14 What is the meaning of this? They asked Benaiahu, Does the king send for you? He replied, No. They sent to the queens saying, Does the king visit you? They sent back word, Yes, he does. They then sent to them to say, Examine his leg.15 They sent back to say, He comes in stockings, and he visits them in the time of their separation and he also calls for Bathsheba his mother. They then sent for Solomon and gave him the chain and the ring on which the Name was engraved. When he went in, Ashmedai on catching sight of him flew away, but he remained in fear of him, therefore is it written, Behold it is the litter of Solomon, threescore mighty met, are about it of the mighty men of Israel. They all handle the sword and are expert in war, every man hath his sword upon his thigh because of fear in the night.16
Rab and Samuel differed [about Solomon]. One said that Solomon was first a king and then a commoner,17 and the other that he was first a king and then a commoner and then a king again.
For blood rushing to the head the remedy is to take shurbina18 and willow and moist myrtle and olive leaves and poplar and rosemary and yabla19 and boil them all together. The sufferer should then place three hundred cups on one side of his head and three hundred on the other. Otherwise he should take white roses with all the leaves on one side and boil them and pour sixty cups over each side of his head. For migraine one should take a woodcock and cut its throat with a white zuz20 over the side of his head on which he has pain, taking care that the blood does not blind him, and he should hang the bird on his doorpost so that he should rub against it when he goes in and out.
If one eases oneself on the stump of a palm-tree, the demon Palga1 will seize him, and if one leans one's head on the stump of a palm-tree, the demon Zerada2 will seize him. He who steps over a palm-tree, if it had been cut down, he will be cut down [killed]; if it had been uprooted, he will be uprooted and die. But that is only if he does not place his foot upon it; but if he places his foot upon it, it does not matter.
There are five shades:3 the shade of a single palm-tree, the shade of a kanda-tree,4 the shade of a caper-tree, [and] the shade of sorb bushes.5 Some say: Also the shade of a ship and the shade of a willow. This is the general rule: Whatever has many branches, its shade is harmful, and whatever has hard prickles [or, wood], its shade is harmful, except the service-tree, whose shade is not harmful although its wood is hard, because Shida [the demon] said to her son, ‘Fly from the service-tree, because it is that which killed your father’; and, it also killed him. R. Ashi said: I saw R. Kahana avoid all shades.
[The demons] of caper-trees are [called] Ruhe [spirits]: those of sorb-bushes are [called] Shide [demons]: those which haunt roofs are [called] Rishpe [fiery-bolts]. In respect of what does it matter? In respect of amulets.6 [The demon] of caper-trees is a creature without eyes. What does it matter? In respect of fleeing from it.7 A scholar was once about to ease himself among the caper-trees, when he heard it advancing upon him so he fled from it. Well he had gone, it embraced a palm-tree,8 whereupon the palm-tree cried out9 and it [the demon] burst.
[The demons] of sorb-bushes are [called] Shide. A sorb-bush which is near a town has not less than sixty Shide [demons] [haunting it]. How does this matter? In respect of writing an amulet. A certain town-officer went and stood by a sorb-bush near a town, whereupon he was set upon by sixty demons and his life was in danger. He then went to a scholar who did not know that it was a sorb-bush haunted by sixty demons, and so he wrote a one-demon amulet for it . Then he heard how they suspended a hinga10 on it [the tree]11 and sing thus: ‘The man's turban is like a scholar's, [yet] we have examined the man [and find] that he does not know "Blessed art Thou".’12 Then a certain scholar came who knew that it was a sorb-bush of sixty demons and wrote a sixty-demon amulet for it. Then he heard them saying, ‘Clear away your vessels from here.’
Keteb Meriri:13 there are two Ketebs, one before noon and one after noon; the one before noon is called Ketheb Meriri, and looks like a ladle turning in the jug of kamka.14 That of the afternoon is called Keteb Yashud Zaharaim [‘Destruction that wasteth at noonday’ ];15 it looks like a goat's horn, and wings compass it about.
Abaye was walking along, with R. Papa on his right and R. Huna, son of R. Joshua on his left. Seeing a Keteb Meriri approaching him on the left, he transferred R. Papa to his left and R. Huna son of R. Joshua to his right. Said R. Papa to him: ‘Wherein am I different that you were not afraid on my behalf?’ ‘The time is in your favour,’ replied he.16
From, the first of Tammuz17 until the sixteenth they are certainly to be found; henceforth it is doubtful whether they are about or not, and they are found in the shadow of hazabe18 which have not grown a cubit, and in the morning and evening shadows when these are less than a cubit [in length], but mainly in the shadow of a privy.
R. Joseph said: The following three things cause defective eyesight: combing one's head [when it is] dry, drinking the drip-drop [of wine], and putting on shoes while the feet are still damp.
[Eatables] suspended in a house lead19 to poverty, as people say, ‘He who suspends a basket [of food] puts his food in suspense.’ Yet this relates only to bread, but it does not matter about meat and fish, [since] that is the usual way [of keeping them]. Bran20 in a house leads to poverty. Crumbs in a house lead to poverty: the demons rest upon them on the nights of Sabbaths and on the nights of the fourth days.
The genius appointed over sustenance is called Neki'ah [Cleanliness]; the genius appointed over poverty is called Nabal [Folly or Filth] . Dirt on the spout of a pitcher leads to poverty. He who drinks water out of a plate is liable to a cataract. He who eats cress without [first] washing his hands will suffer fear thirty days.
(1) Jast. conjectures paralysis. [Aruch: ‘headache on one side of the head’, megrim, connecting it with rt. meaning ‘to divide’].
(2) Perhaps vertigo; Rashi: megrim.
(3) Involving danger on account of the demons that inhabit them.
(4) MS.M.: kinura, the name of a shrubby tree, Christ's-thorn or lote (Jast.).
(5) [Var. lec.: add as fifth ‘the shade of the willow-tree].
(6) Charms to counteract them, in which their names are written.
(7) As it is sightless it cannot follow.
(8) In error. Rashi and Rashbam read נפקא אדקלא, it tripped over a palm-tree.
(9) [Or, withered v. supra p. 568, n. 5.]
(10) A musical instrument.
(11) Jast. Perhaps: they danced in chorus about it.
(12) He does not know which benediction to recite when he puts it on ridiculed his pretentions to scholarship.
(13) ‘Bitter destruction’ (v. Deut. XXXII, 24). Regarded here as the name of a demon.
(14) A kind of sauce made of milk and bread-crumbs. — The translation follows the reading of Rashi and Rashbam, which differs from cur. edd.
(15) Ps. XCI, 6.
(16) You have been blessed with good fortune, so the demon will not harm you.
(17) The fourth month of the Jewish year, roughly corresponding to July.
(18) A species of shrub.
(19) Lit., ‘are harmful.’
(20) So Rashbam.
Talmud - Mas. Pesachim 112a
He who lets blood without washing his hands will be afraid seven days. He who trims his hair and does not wash his hands will be afraid three days. He who pares his nails and does not wash his hands will be afraid one day without knowing what affrights him.
[Putting] one's hand to one's nostrils is a step to fear; [putting] one's hand to one's forehead is a step to sleep. It was taught: If food and drink [are kept] under the bed, even if they are covered in iron vessels, an evil spirit rests upon them.
Our Rabbis taught: A man must not drink water either on the nights of the fourth days [Wednesdays] or on the nights of Sabbath,1 and if he does drink, his blood is on his own head, because of the danger. What is the danger? An evil spirit. Yet if he is thirsty what is his remedy? Let him recite the seven ‘voices’ which David uttered over the water and then drink, as it is said: The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thundereth, even the Lord is upon many water. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty. The voice of the Lord breaketh the cedars; yea, the Lord breaketh in pieces the cedars of the Lebanon ... The voice of the Lord heweth out flames of fire. The voice of the Lord shaketh the wilderness; the Lord shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord maketh the hinds to calve, and strippeth the forests bare; and in His temple all say: ‘Glory.’2 But if [he does] not [say this], let him say thus: ‘Lul shafan anigron anirdafin,3 I dwell among the stars, I walk among lean and fat people.’ But if [he does] not [say this], if there is a man with him he should rouse him and say to him, ‘So-and-so the son of So-and-so, I am thirsty for water,’ and then he can drink. But if not, he knocks the lid against the pitcher, and then he can drink. But if not, let him throw something into it and then drink.Brachot 6a
It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says, If the eye had the power to see them, no creature could endure the demons. Abaye says: They are more numerous than we are and they surround us like the ridge round a field. R. Huna says: Every one among us has a thousand on his left hand and ten thousand on his right hand.2 Raba says: The crushing in the Kallah3 lectures comes from them.4 Fatigue in the knees comes from them. The wearing out of the clothes of the scholars is due to their rubbing against them. The bruising of the feet comes from them. If one wants to discover them,5 let him take sifted ashes and sprinkle around his bed, and in the morning he will see something like the footprints of a cock. If one wishes to see them, let him take the after-birth of a black she-cat, the offspring of a black she-cat, the first-born of a first-born, let him roast it in fire and grind it to powder, and then let him put some into his eye, and he will see them. Let him also pour it into an iron tube and seal it with an iron signet that they6 should not steal it from him. Let him also close his mouth, lest he come to harm. R. Bibi b. Abaye did so,7 saw them and came to harm. The scholars, however, prayed for him and he recovered.
It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says: A man's prayer is heard [by God] only in the Synagogue. For it is said: To hearken unto the song and to the prayer.8 The prayer is to be recited where there is song.9 Rabin b. R. Adda says in the name of R. Isaac: How do you know that the Holy One, blessed be He, is to be found in the Synagogue? For it is said: God standeth in the congregation of God.10 And how do you know that if ten people pray together the Divine presence is with them? For it is said: 'God standeth in the congregation of God'.11 And how do you know that if three are sitting as a court of judges the Divine Presence is with them? For it is said: In the midst of the judges He judgeth.12 And how do you know that if two are sitting and studying the Torah together the Divine Presence is with them? For it is said: Then they that feared the Lord spoke one with another;13 and the Lord hearkened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him, for them that feared the Lord and that thought upon His name.14 (What does it mean: 'And that thought upon His name'? — R. Ashi15 says: If a man thought to fulfill a commandment and he did not do it, because he was prevented by force or accident, then the Scripture credits it to him as if he had performed it.) And how do you know that even if one man sits and studies the Torah the Divine Presence is with him? For it is said: In every place where I cause My name to be mentioned I will come unto thee and bless thee.16 Now, since [the Divine presence is] even with one man, why is it necessary to mention two?17 — The words of two are written down in the book of remembrance, the words of one are not written down in the book of remembrance. Since this is the case with two, why mention three? — I might think [the dispensing of] justice is only for making peace, and the Divine Presence does not come [to participate]. Therefore he teaches us that justice also is Torah. Since it is the case with three, why mention ten? — To [a gathering of] ten the Divine Presence comes first, to three, it comes only after they sit down.
R. Abin18 son of R. Ada in the name of R. Isaac says [further]: How do you know that the Holy One, blessed be He, puts on tefillin?19 For it is said: The Lord hath sworn by His right hand, and by the arm of His strength.20 'By His right hand': this is the Torah; for it is said: At His right hand was a fiery law unto them.21 'And by the arm of his strength': this is the tefillin; as it is said: The Lord will give strength unto His people.22 And how do you know that the tefillin are a strength to Israel? For it is written: And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon thee, and they shall be afraid of thee,23 and it has been taught: R. Eliezer the Great says: This refers to the tefillin of the head.24
R. Nahman b. Isaac said to R. Hiyya b. Abin: What is written in the tefillin of the Lord of the Universe? — He replied to him: And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth.25 Does, then, the Holy One, blessed be He, sing the praises of Israel? — Yes, for it is written: Thou hast avouched the Lord this day … and the Lord hath avouched thee this day.26 The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: You have made me a unique entity27 in the world, and I shall make you a unique entity in the world. 'You have made me a unique entity in the world', as it is said: Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.28 'And I shall make you a unique entity in the world', as it is said: And who is like Thy people Israel, a nation one in the earth.29 R. Aha b. Raba said to R. Ashi: This accounts for one case, what about the other cases?30 — He replied to him: [They contain the following verses]: For what great nation is there, etc.; And what great nation is there, etc.;31 Happy art thou, O Israel, etc.;32 Or hath God assayed, etc.;33 and To make thee high above all nations.34 If so, there would be too many cases? — Hence [you must say]: For what great nation is there, and And what great nation is there, which are similar, are in one case; Happy art thou, O Israel, and Who is like Thy people, in one case; Or hath God assayed, in one case; and To make thee high, in one case.
R. Isaac says: If one recites the Shema’ upon his bed, it is as though he held a two-edged sword in his hand. (To protect him against the demons). For it is said: Let the high praises of G-d be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.(Tehillim 149:6)
How does it indicate this? — Mar Zutra, (some say, R. Ashi) says: [The lesson is] from the preceding verse. For it is written: Let the saints exult in glory, let them sing for joy upon their beds,(Ibid. v. 5) and then it is written: Let the high praises of G-d be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand.
R. Isaac says further: If] one recites the Shema’ upon his bed, the demons keep away from him. For it is said: And the sons of reshef (E.V. 'Sparks') fly [‘uf] upward.(Iyov 5:7). The word ‘uf refers only to the Torah, as it is written: Wilt thou cause thine eyes to close [hata'if](I.e., if thou neglect it (the Torah). E.V. ‘Wilt thou set thine eyes etc.’)
upon it? It is gone.(Mishle 23:5) And ‘reshef’ refers only to the demons, as it is said: The wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the reshef [fiery bolt] and bitter destruction.(D'varim 32:24)
R. Simeon b. Lakish says: If one studies the Torah, painful sufferings are kept away from him. For it is said: And the sons of reshef fly upward. The word ‘uf refers only to the Torah, as it is written: ‘Wilt thou cause thine eyes to close upon it? It is gone’. And ‘reshef’ refers only to painful sufferings, as it is said: ‘The wasting of hunger, and the devouring of the reshef [fiery bolt].
R. Johanan said to him: This(That the Torah is a protection against painful disease) is known even to school children.(Who study the Pentateuch, where it is plainly said). For it is said: And He said: If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the Hashem thy G-d, and wilt do that which is right in His eyes, and wilt give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases upon thee which I have put upon the Egyptians; for I am Hashem that healeth thee.(Shemot 15:26) Rather [should you say]: If one has the opportunity to study the Torah and does not study it, the Holy One, blessed be He, visits him with ugly and painful sufferings which stir him up. For it is said: I was dumb with silence, I kept silence from the good thing, and my pain was stirred up.(Tehillim 39:3, E.V. ‘I held my peace, had no comfort, and my pain was held in check’).
‘The good thing’ refers only to the Torah, as it is said: For I give you good doctrine; forsake ye not My teaching.(Mishle 4:2)
“The rabbis taught: Six things are said with regard to demons, three in which they are like the angels: they have wings, they float from one end of the world to the other, and they know what is about to be; and three in which they are like men: they eat and drink, they are fruitful and multiply, and they are mortal.”
“For an abscess one should say thus: 'Let it indeed be cut down, let it indeed be healed, let it indeed be overthrown; Sharlai and Amarlai are those angels who were sent from the land of Sodom8 to heal boils and aches: bazak, bazik, bizbazik, mismasik, kamun kamik,9 thy colour [be confined] within thee, thy colour [be confined] within thee,10 thy seat be within thee,11 thy seed be like a kalut12 and like a mule that is not fruitful and does not increase; so be thou not fruitful nor increase in the body of So-and-so.'13 Against ulcers14 one should say thus: 'A drawn sword and a prepared sling, its name is not Joheb, sickness and pains.' Against a demon one should say thus: 'Thou wast closed up; closed up wast thou. Cursed, broken, and destroyed be Bar Tit, Bar Tame, Bar Tina15 as Shamgez, Mezigaz and Istamai.' For a demon of the privy one should say thus: 'On the head of a lion and on the snout of a lioness did we find the demon Bar Shirika Panda; with a bed of leeks I hurled him down, [and] with the jawbone of an ass I smote him.'”