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Asmodaeus

ASMODEUS, ASMODAEUS ăz’ mō de’ əs (̓Ασμοδέυς). An evil spirit who plays an important role in the book of Tobit (3:17). According to the account he fell in love with Sarah, the only daughter of Raguel of Ecbatana, and slew her seven successive husbands on their wedding night. His power over her was broken by Tobias, who, with the help of the angel Raphael, brewed a potion which drove Asmodeus away. Some believe that the concept of Asmodeus is derived from Zoroastrianism, with which the Jews became familiar during the Exile. Asmodeus was prominent in later Jewish legend, esp. in connection with Solomon. He appears in Milton’s Paradise Lost, 4, 168-171.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

An evil spirit first mentioned in Tobit 3:8. Older etymologists derived the name from the Hebrew verb shamadh, "destroy"; but it is now generally held to be associated with Zoroastrianism, with which the Jews became acquainted during the exile, and by which later Jewish views on the spirit-world were greatly influenced. It is now held to be the equivalent of the Persian Aeshma-Deva, the spirit of concupiscence. The spirit is at times reckoned as the equal in power of "Abaddon" (Job 31:12) and of "Apollyon" (Re 9:11), and in Tobit is represented as loving Sara, only daughter of Raguel of Ecbatana, and as causing the death on the bridal night of seven husbands who had in succession married her. His power was broken by the young Tobias acting on the advice of the angel Raphael (Tobit 6:15). He burnt on the "ashes of incense" the heart and liver of a fish which he caught in the Tigris. "But when the devil smelled the smell, he fled into the uppermost parts of Egypt, and the angel bound him" (Tobit 8:3). Milton refers to the incident in Paradise Lost, 4, 168-71, founding on Jewish demonology and the "loves of the angels" (Ge 6:2).

J. Hutchison

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