Chapter 8 Ancient Israel and Early Judaism

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
Author:
Yuval Harari
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Abstract

This chapter looks chronologically at a range of terms and ritual practices deemed acceptable for insiders but condemnable if performed by outsiders, from ancient Israel through Talmudic times. Various texts in the Hebrew Bible recognize the effectiveness of foreign ritual agents (mekhashef) performing prophetic signs (ʼot). Second Temple Jewish writings attribute illegitimate ritual practices to otherworldly or demonic sources, mediated by women. Finally, rabbinic literature proscribed illegitimate (kishuf) ritual in its stories, laws, and practical information, often identifying such practices with women and outsiders.

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