Babylonian Demonology

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Babylonian and Hebrew Demonology with Reference to the Supposed Borrowing of Persian Dualism in Judaism and Christianity Author(s): S. Langdon Source: Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland, No. 1 (Jan., 1934), pp. 45-56 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: . Accessed: 08/10/2011 14:15Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact

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8Fia. 1. Two 2. Winged 3. Winged 4. Panther 5.



a man. lions attacking figured as fantastic a man. (as demon) consuming a man. demon attacking Enkidu in combat with panther a man, an animal. domon also attacking attacking lion with a lion. beforo a deity. brought beforo tho Sun-god.

a lion. Enkidu

in contact IHrd dovil 6. A dovil 7. Dovils 8. Dovil 9. Bird


or slain by Sun-god. captured smitten by Sun-god. and brought before dovil, captured


To face p. 45.]

with and Hebrew Babylonian Demonology to the supposed of reference borrowing in Judaism and Christianity Persian DualismIjccture delivered for Professor A. B. Cook in tlte University of

Cambridge Hy 8. LANGDON (PLATE I) into modern introduced theology the Englishman, Thomas Hyde, in 1700, and was by first used to describe the fundamental principle of Persian the independent of good and existence Zoroastrism, namely TTiUALISM the good god and Ahriman the evil god in Ormazd the theology of the Persians represent an absolute dualism. For them Ahriman, to Satan of Judaism and corresponding is entirely independent of the creator god. Good Christianity, evil. Now and evil, God and the Devil, are primeval supreme powers. I wish to trace the history of Satan or the Devil in back through Judaism, Hebrew, and Babylonian Christianity I shall endeavour religion to its origin among the Sumerians. to prove this Persian dualism, which admits that God did not create is a term

to be totally the Devil, foreign to Sumerian, and Hebrew speculation ; and I shall then briefly Babylonian, on which modern examine the evidence scholars admit dualism period Testament. to have and been held by the Jews of the Apocalyptic as set forth in the Now Christianity

by early It is my conviction that Persian religion never had any influence upon Judaism or early Christianity. Satan, the Devil is traceable to Babylonian (diabolus), directly ; there he is the creation of the gods. theology in this ethical sense has no relation Dualism in metaphysics. After the time of Thomas to dualism




immediately of mind and things.

transferred With

the word Hyde to philosophy, to the dualism or philosophical



the independent existence of mind and matter, body and soul, the problem of God and Satan has no relation at all. Fichte that anyone who believes in philosophical said, however, dualism, as, for example Decartes did, is no philosopher. It may be said with equal German acidity that anyone who in ethical dualism or that God did not create the believes no is Devil theologian. Before discussing Babylonian and Hebrew con theology cerning the demons a fact which seems least, obscurely may be defined and devils to have it is necessary to point out been entirely overlooked or, at

It is what defined, in the history of theology. " as dualism ". The Babylonian cosmological there that in the beginning Epic of Creation states definitely was nothing but watery chaos, a mingled mass of bitter and fresh water, ruled over by the female dragon Tiamat. This the Tehom of the Hebrew is of account, she-dragon Tiamat, origin. The version of creation in Genesis, borrowing assumes a primeval chaos. from the late Babylonian myth, Tohu and Bohu was the earth and darkness was on the Semitic face of Tehom. a But the late Hebrew author saw the difficulty of assuming primeval water from which all things descended,t the gods themselves and the universe ; in Babylonia gods descended from the primal element, water ; finally a terrific darkness ended combat between the Sun-god and primeval of the she-dragon with her twelve male slaughter It admits dualism. That assumes a cosmological dragons. that the gods created heaven and earth from the substance in the of chaos or water of the dragon ; he was a monotheist difficulty created As ; it admits the original independent origin of chaos. The Hebrew writer clearly saw this and writes that El had himself

this primeval matter. I have said all this is late Semitic

origin of the myth ismuch is the first principle and made no further effort that water to explain it. This was the primeval chaos, over which presided the dragon MuslmSftft. Many representations of this serpent

The real speculation. older. The Sumerians also assumed



dragon, which in the original Sumerian myth took the place The in the later Semitic versions, are available. of Tiamat is a seal in the British Museum.1 most suggestive monument the creator with Here thunderbolts, Sun-god lightning, quiver sword, smites the form of the primeval fleeing dragon. combat between good and evil is the one which the Hebrew " poets knew as referred to in the Book of Job, xxvi, 13, His hand pierced the fleeing serpent." and arrows, with or in other designs This older Sumerian

of the combat between the representations Babylonian creator god and the primeval dragon never refer to the late she-dragon Tiamat at all. In the various designs Babylonian of the dragons in combat with the Sun-god,2 Tiamat appear, but either Mu?hu??u or one of the twelve monsters does not fantastic

who opposed the gods. The real Hebrew speculation or, rather, Sumerian legends, in these matters was preserved only in their poets, and there they borrowed from early, not late, Babylonian fleeing legend. The serpent ancient sources. in Job The is based reference upon to Rahab and the the original Sumerian


Apocalyptic In some of these God and Satan, between good and evil. writers the dragon of chaos actually the Devil or becomes the enemy of god and oppressor slain in the last combat. This people, who will be a complete misuse is of the We shall see shortly ancient role of MushusSu or Leviathan. that Satan, the Devil, is of totally different origin and had no connection with the ancient dualist myth. cosmological A1W.

in Hebrew Sumerian Mushu&m appears as Leviathan, In late of the sea. coiling serpent literature a belief arose in a final combat between

of God's

late visionary

poet whose


is preserved

in our

H. Ward, Seal Cylinders and of Western Asia, No. 570, reproduced was identified in the writer's Semitic Mythology, p. 131. Mushussii In my edition of the Epic of Creation, with Hydra, Semitic Mythology, p. 278. in doubt on this point. Hasmu, ibid., 86, n. 8, cannot p. 87, n. 9, I was discussed ho Hydra. 1 Semitic Mythology, pp. 278-284.


BABYLONIAN AND HEBREW DEMONOLOGY this future victory :? of God over Satan

text of Isaiah describes

in the following lines " In that day will Yav take vengeance, With his sword, harsh, mighty and powerful, the fleeing serpent, Upon Leviathan, the coiled serpent, And upon Leviathan, And will slay the dragon which is in the sea." The original Sumerian legend of a combat between Ninurta, light of the spring sun, with god of war, *the victorious in the Hebrew Mushus\su and the dragons of chaos survivesPsalms :?


Thou hast rent asunder the sea by thy power. Thou hast broken the heads of the dragons on the waters. Thou hast smitten the head of Leviathan."

that creation and Hebrews believed of an Babylonians ordered world was made possible only by the triumph of the creator god over the chief dragon of watery chaos; the Hebrews, but only in complete acceptance of Sumero independently, is no trace in Hebrew views. There that the Babylonian not from this primeval matter. gods descended They knew, the myth of how the gods had sent their champion however, to slay the monster, which wished to brood in peace over the a definite theory primeval abyss. There is here, nevertheless, that good and evil exist together in the substance from which in a cosmological dualism, all things descended. It resulted never had the slightest connection with which in Babylonia devils and other authors of all human woe. And throughout the Hebrew Klohim, chaos this scriptures their god, with this myth Leviathan of the battle of Yav or and the other dragons of was Only in very late times with

is preserved

by the poets.

disorder ever confused incarnation of cosmological or the incarnation of ethical wickedness. Satan These the devils, wickedness views must