Demonic connotations of the term hl'y>l' dx;p; in the Psalm 91,5-6 Cover Image

Konotacje demonologiczne terminu hl'y>l' dx;p; w Ps 91,5-6
Demonic connotations of the term hl'y>l' dx;p; in the Psalm 91,5-6

Author(s): Marek Janik
Subject(s): Jewish studies, Biblical studies, History of Religion
Published by: Wydawnictwo Diecezjalne »Adalbertinum«
Keywords: pahad laylah; dead sea scrolls; demonology;

Summary/Abstract: In the Ancient Near East, religious thought held that demons were drawn to humans in major life-transitions and crises. „The terror of the night”, „the arrow that flies by day”, „the plague” and „the scourge” are terms that are no metaphors. They can be of Canaanite demons and of the sickness-demons typical of Mesopotamia (Ps 78,49c; 91,5-6). However, in neither passage, to be sure, have they any independence whatsoever. In Ps 78,49c they appear as emissaries of Jahweh. In Ps 91,5-6 they are denied any power over anyone who trusts in Jahweh. At one level, the term „the terror of the night” seem to be standard metaphorical description for danger, but some related terms reveal more. These dangers are utterly chaotic, casting the threat of death as personified powers of evil. Therefore in Ps 91,5-6 we will have to think not only of poetic personifications but also of demonic powers. While these demonic identities may be depersonalized in Israel’s theology, the same identities were not dismantled in the antecedent pantheons and practices surrounding Israel. These exorcism psalms are found in 11Q11. This scroll seems to comprise three extracanonical psalms plus Psalm 91, for four psalms in all. The extracanonical compositions are clearly exorcism psalms. Later rabbinic understanding of Psalm 91 and its quotation in the temptation of Jesus, the appearance of Psalm 91 in 11Q11 strongly suggests that this psalm was understood as an exorcism psalm not only at Qumran but among many Jews in the time of Jesus.

  • Issue Year: 19/2017
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 349-362
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Polish