Incantations often list four, or even seven, classes of demons.
Defense against evil spirits was a concern in Mesopotamia from earliest times, beginning with the Sumerians, to whom much of the terminology and praxis connected with demons may be traced.
There is no qualitative difference between great gods and demons; one name for demon is "an evil god." Demons, however, have less power, though occasionally myths depict them as rebelling against the great gods, with some success.
Just as some Mesopotamian demons have names which are also common nouns, so in biblical cases like dever and mavet (mawet; see below) it is hard to be sure when these are proper names and when not. Even in Israelite popular religion, however, there seems to have been relatively little fear of the spirits of the dead. 6:8; ) – all have parallels elsewhere as devices to ward off evil spirits. layl(ah), "night") was originally a succubus, believed to cohabit with mortals, but in the Arslan Tash incantation quoted above she is identified with the child-stealing demon, a character she retains in later folklore. Dever is also mentioned in Psalms 91:5–6: "Thou shalt not be afraid for the Terror (Paḥad) by night; Nor for the Arrow (Ḥeẓ) that flieth by day; Nor for the Pestilence (Dever) that walketh in the darkness; Nor for the Destruction (Ketev) that wasteth at noonday." Not only Dever but also the other words italicized above have been plausibly identified as names of demons. (ʿAzʾazel) occurs in the ritual for the Day of Atonement (Lev. Aaron casts lots over two goats, and the one "for ʿAzʾazel" is presented alive before the Lord, and then released into the wilderness.
The Israelite conception of demons, as it existed in the popular mind or the literary imagination, resembled in some ways that held elsewhere. The Bible often mentions the shades of the dead, but "the congregation of the shades" (Prov. In a given case, however, it is often extremely difficult to say to what extent any of these devices were consciously used for protection against demons at a particular period. The tradition that the name means "screech-owl" (in so many translations) reflects a very ancient association of birds, especially owls, with the demonic. is another major god of the Canaanite religion who becomes a demonic figure in biblical literature. 76:3]; Song 8:6), apparently from the common association of plagueand arrows. The "Arrow" is a familiar symbol in folklore, for disease or sudden pain, and Ketev (Qetev; cf. The ancient Greek and Latin versions understood ʿAzʾazel as "goat that departs," hence "the scapegoat" of some English versions.
The spelling Beelzebub reflects identification of Beelzebul with Baal-Zebub, god of Ekron ( Kings 1:2). Zakkai was their knowledge of "the speech of the shedim" ("devils," Suk. The latter also gave the analogy of a ru'ah tezazit ("the demon of madness") entering a man and being exorcised, in order to explain to a heathen the anomaly of the laws of the red heifer , although he agreed with his wondering disciples that it was but "putting him off with a straw" and that he himself did not accept it (PR 40a; Num. A passage in the Babylonian Talmud specifically states that various beliefs connected with demons which were current in Babylon were ignored in Erez Israel. Demonology, however, is more prominent in the Palestinian Midrashim than in the Jerusalem Talmud.