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Nir Hasson

This Woman’s New Research Shows What Babylonian Jews Saw When They Faced Their Demons (Including Lilith!)

Demons are well-known figures in Jewish mysticism. In the Talmud and elsewhere there is a wealth of information about their characters, warnings against them and means to dispel them. In keeping with the Jewish injunction prohibiting the making of statues and masks, there are no visual aids to indicate how the demons look. There was a period in history, however, between the rise of Christianity and the Muslim conquest of the Middle East, when Jews (mainly in Babylon) gave demons a shape.

Painstakingly, archaeologist and art historian Dr. Naama Vilozny has copied these images, analyzed their attributes and put together the first visual catalog ever of Jewish demons…. Lilith is often depicted naked and with longer hair and frequently in a seductive dance pose like Ardit-Lili. In the inscriptions surrounding the images she is described as a female demon who strangles babies at their hour of birth.


NIR HASSON in “A Visual Guide to the Demons That Spooked the Jews of Babylon,” Haaretz, March 21, 2017.