Asmodeeus

Asmodee'us (Α᾿σμοδαῖος), a daemon or evil spirit mentioned in the apocryphal book of Tobit (iii, 8) as having become enamored of Sara, the daughter of Ragunl, and killed the seven husbands whom she had married (Tob. 6:14), but as being put to flight by the charm used by Tobias on his marriage with her (Tob. 8:2, 3). The rabbins have a number of absurd traditions respecting Asmodaeus (אִשׁמדִי or אִשׁמדִאי, Talm. Getten, lxviii, 1) as a libidinous daemon (comp. Ge 6:1), and indeed the Talmudists represent him as the prince of devils, even Satan himself (see Eisenmenger, Entd. Judenth. ii, 440; Lightfoot, Hor. Hebr. ad Luc. 11:15). Hence Beelzebub has been supposed to refer to the same daemon. But a similar title they also give to " the angel of death," as the destroyer of all mankind; hence some derive the name Asmodaeus from the Hebrew שָׁמִד, shamad', to exterminate, which identifies it also with Abaddon (q.v.), the same as Apollyon (Re 9:11, where he is called "a king, the angel of the bottomless pit"), and οΟ῾᾿λοθρεύων, Wisd. 18:25, where he is represented as the " evil angel" (Ps 78:49) of the plague (Schleusner's Thesaur. s.v.), the angel of death (see Ilgen, Zu Tob. p. 42). Thus the story in Tobit means no more than that the seven husbands died successively on their marriage with Sara. (For other interpretations, see Fritzsche, Comment. p. 38). Others, however (Gesen. Allgem. Literatur-Zeit. 1815, No. 123; De Wette, Bibl. Theol. p. 146; Reland, Ant. Sacr. 4:6), rather refer it to the Persic word azmadan, to tempt (Castelli Lex. Pers. col. 24 sq.). In the book of Tobit, this evil spirit is represented as causing, through jealousy, the death of Sara's seven husbands in succession on the bridal night; gaining the power to do so (as is hinted) through their incontinence. Tobias, instructed by Raphael, burns on "the ashes of perfume" the heart and liver of the fish which he caught in the Tigris; "the which smell when the evil spirit had smelled, he fled into the utmost parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him" (Tob. 8:3). It is obviously a vain endeavor to attempt to rationalize this story, since it is throughout founded on Jewish deemonology, and "the loves of the angels," a strange fancy derived from Ge 6:2. Those, however, who attempt this task make Asmodaeus the daemon of impurity, and suppose merely that the fumes deadened the passions of Tobias and his wife. The rabbins (among other odd fables) make this deemon the offspring of the incest of Tubalcain with his sister Noema, and say (in allusion to Solomon's many wives) that Asmodaeus once drove him from his kingdom, but, being dispossessed, was forced to serve in building the Temple, which he did noiselessly, by means of a mysterious stone Shamir (Calmet, s.v. and Fragments, p. 271, where there is a great deal of fanciful and groundless speculation). See generally Wichmann, De Asmodceo spiritu maligno ἀνθρωποκτόνῳ (Lub. 1666); Hosum, De Aschmodceo dcemonio maligno (Hafn. 1709); Neubauer, De angelo mortis ex mente Ebr. et Muthammedanorum, (Hal. 1732); Hezel, Schriftforscher (Giessen, 1792), ii, 1 sq.; Calmet's Dissertation on the ckemon Asmodceus (translated in Arnald's Commentary on the Apocrypha); Ode, De Angelis, p. 611 sq. SEE DAEMON.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

 
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