Divorcing Lilith: From the Babylonian incantation bowls to the Cairo Genizah

Dan Levene, Gideon Bohak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


One of the striking features of ancient Jewish magic is the disappearance of numerous magical spells and formulae that are known to us from the Babylonian Aramaic incantation bowls; spells that come to be absent from the register of later Jewish magic. In the present paper we present one exception to this general rule, by editing a Genizah fragment (Hebrew Union College 1029) that contains a spell which is well attested in the incantation bowls. The fragment in question was copied in the twelfth century as part of a larger magical recipe book. One of its recipes, entitled 'A deed of divorce for Lilith', contains an anti-demonic get (divorce formula) which is attested in several different versions in the Babylonian incantation bowls, produced half a millennium earlier. In our paper, we offer a synopsis of all these versions, and a detailed assessment of the significance of this discovery.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-217
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Jewish Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2012


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