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In: Demons and Illness from Antiquity to the Early-Modern Period
In: Journal for the Study of Judaism
In: "From a Sacred Source"
In: Tracing Sapiential Traditions in Ancient Judaism
Author: Gideon Bohak


This chapter focuses on Jewish Aramaic and Hebrew ritual materials from Late Antiquity to the early medieval period including: Palestinian amulets and spells, Babylonian magic bowls, and the recipes preserved in the Cairo Genizah. Materials are interrogated for evidence of social context (gender of clientele) and the status of these kinds of materials in Judaism at the time of composition. Finally, it compares Jewish materials to non-Jewish analogues.

In: Guide to the Study of Ancient Magic
In: Continuity and Innovation in the Magical Tradition
In: Jewish Education from Antiquity to the Middle Ages
Author: Gideon Bohak


The article’s starting point is a recipe from the Cairo Genizah with instructions for opening a locked door by reciting a long adjuration over some dust and throwing it into the lock. This recipe – which is published here for the first time – serves as a case-study for two inter-related analyses. First, we ask whether medieval Jews would have classified such a recipe, and such a ritual, as “magic,” and whether modern scholars should classify it as such. Next, we ask whether we have any evidence that such a recipe was ever used by medieval Jews, and if so, by whom.

In: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations of Divination and Magic