Asmodai or Asmodeus is a demon in Jewish mythology.
The name Asmodai is believed to derive from Avestan language *aēšma-daēva, where aēšma means "wrath", and daēva signifies "demon". While the daēva Aēšma is thus Zoroastrianism's demon of wrath and is also well attested as such, the compound aēšma-daēva is not attested in scripture. It is nonetheless likely that such a form did exist, and that the Book of Tobit's "Asmodaios" (Ἀσμοδαῖος) and the Talmud's "Ashmedai" (אשמדאי) reflect it. Although there are also functional parallels between Zoroastrianism's Aešma and Judaism's Asmodai/Asmodeus, the linguistic relationship does not denote conceptual continuity. The two are mythologically and culturally distinct.
Spelling variations deriving from Asmodai/Asmodeus include Ashmadia, Ashmedai (Hebrew), Asmodaios-?sµ?da??? (Greek), Asmoday, Asmodée (French), Asmodee, Asmodei, Ashmodei, Ashmodai, Asmodeios, Asmodeo (Spanish and Italian, from a Latin declination), Asmodeu (Portuguese), Asmodeius, Asmodi, Chammaday, Chashmodai, Sidonay, Sydonai.
Asmodeus is one of the Kings of Hell under Lucifer the emperor and has seventy-two legions of demons under his command but submits to Amoymon. He incites gambling, and is the overseer of all the gambling houses in the court of Hell. Some Catholic theologians compared him with Abaddon. Yet other authors considered Asmodai a prince of revenge.
According to Wierus, he had three heads, that of a bull, a man, and a ram. He also has a serpent's tail, the feet of a goose, and flaming breath. He rides a dragon In the infernal hierarchy, he governs seventy-two legions.
In the Dictionnaire Infernal by Collin de Plancy, Asmodai is depicted with the breast of a man, cock legs, serpent tail, three heads (one of a man spitting fire, one of a sheep, and one of a bull), carrying a standard and a lance and riding a lion with dragon wings and neck, all of these animals being associated with either lascivity, lust or revenge.
According to demonologists Asmodeus was able to reveal to men the hidden secrets and treasures of the mother earth, besides giving them the ability to become invisible. When one exorcises him, one must be steadfast and call him by name. He gives rings influenced by astronomical bodies, advises men on making themselves invisible, and instructs men in the art of geometry, arithmetic, astronomy, and the mechanical arts. He also knows of treasures.
The term 'flight of Asmodeus' is derived from a work of literature by Alain René Lesage (Le Diable Boiteux, 1707) in which Asmodeus takes Don Cleofas for a night flight, and by magical means removes the roofs from the houses of a village to show him the secrets of what passes in private lives.
Adversary: John the Baptist Sign: 10° - 20° Aquarius (January 30 - February 8) Time of Day: Day Planet: Sol (Sun) Metal: Gold Tarot Card: 6 of Swords
Asmodai is mostly known from the deuterocanonical Book of Tobit. The demon is also mentioned in some Talmudic legends, for instance, in the story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon.
Special Office of Æshma
This general designation of an evil spirit tallies with the description of Æshma in the Bundahis (xxviii.15 et seq.): "Seven powers are given Æshm that he may utterly destroy the creatures therewith: with those seven powers he will destroy seven of the Kayân heroes in his own time; but one will remain. There where Mîtôkht ["Falsehood"] arrives, Arask ["Malice"] becomes welcome; [and there where Arask is welcome] Æshm lays a foundation; and there where Æshm has a foundation many creatures perish, and he causes much non-Iranianism. Æshm mostly contrives all evil for the creatures of Auhramazd, and the evil deeds of those Kayân heroes have been more complete through Æshm, as it says that Æshm, the impetuous assailant, causes them most" (E. W. West, Sacred Books of the East, by F. Max Müller, v.108).
In the Book of Tobit
The Asmodeus of the Book of Tobit is attracted by Sarah, Raguel's daughter, and is not willing to let any husband possess her (Tobit, vi.13); hence he slays seven successive husbands on their wedding-nights, thus impeding the consummation of the sexual act. When the young Tobias is about to marry her, Asmodeus purposes the same fate for him; but Tobias is enabled, through the counsels of his attendant angel Raphael, to render him innocuous. By placing a fish's heart and liver on red-hot cinders, Tobias produces a smoky vapor which causes the demon to flee to Egypt, where Raphael binds him (viii.2, 3).
Asmodeus would thus seem to be a demon characterized by carnal desire; but he is also described as an evil spirit in general: 'Ασμοδαίος τὸ πονηρὸν δαιμόνιον or τõ δαιμόνιον πονηρόν, and πνεῦμα ἀκάϑαρτον (iii.8, 17; vi.13; viii.3). It is possible, moreover, that the statement (vi.14), "Asmodeus loved Sarah," implies that he was attracted not by women in general, but by Sarah only.
In the Talmud
The figure of Ashmedai in the Talmud is less harmful in character than Tobit's Asmodeus. In the former, he appears repeatedly in the light of a good-natured and humorous fellow. But besides that, there is one feature in which he parallels Asmodeus, inasmuch as his desires turn upon Solomon's wives and Bath-sheba. But even here, Ashmedai seems more comparable to a Greek satyr, rather than to an evil demon.
Another Talmudic legend has King Solomon tricking Asmodai into collaborating in the construction of the temple of Jerusalem. In yet another legend Asmodai changed place for some years with King Solomon. An aggadic narrative describes him as the king of all the shades (Pesachim 109b-112a). Another passage describes him as marrying Lilith, who became his queen.
It is also stated that he was the off-spring of the union between Adam and the angel of prostitution, Naamah, conceived whilst Adam was married to Lilith. But in The Devil's Own Dear Son, by James Branch Cabell, he is instead said to be the son of Lilith, fathered by Sammael.
Influence of Persian Beliefs on Judaism
It is probable that the belief in the existence of a number of carnally minded and lascivious spirits, which was prevalent among the Parsees as among other peoples with whom the people of Israel came in contact, exercised an influence not merely on the Hebrew conceptions of an Asmodeus or Ashmedai, but also on Jewish ideas in general with regard to the qualities of evil spirits. In later Judaism there may be observed an extensive evolution of the conceptions that are present by intimation in the mythological reminiscence found in Gen. vi.1 et seq. This evolution would seem, in any case, to have been advanced by the views spread by foreign religions. Not the least was the influence of Parseeism. To what extent this influence made itself felt among the Jews of later times, it is of course impossible to determine from the mere presence of Asmodeus in the Book of Tobit or of Ashmedai in the Talmud.
But this occurrence indicates one of the channels through which the influence of foreign religions found its way among the Jews. Just as several of the apocalyptic works seem to show that the ideas of the Persian religion have had a bearing upon Jewish theological modes of thought, so do the conceptions of the Book of Tobit with regard to Asmodeus, and the depiction of Ashmedai in the Talmud, show that the popular beliefs of the Persians have likewise had a bearing, presumably in the first instance, on popular beliefs, and later, through them, on their theological modes of thought.
In the Testament of Solomon
In the Testament of Solomon, a 1st-3rd century text, the king invokes Asmodeus to aid in the construction of the Temple. The demon appears and predicts Solomon's kingdom will one day be divided (Testament of Solomon 5:4-5). When Solomon interrogated Asmodeus further, the king learns that Asmodeus is thwarted by the angel Raphael, as well as by sheatfish found in the rivers of Assyria. He also admits to hating water.
- "My constellation (is like an animal which) reclines in its den in heaven; some men call me the Great Bear, but others the Offspring of a Dragon. Moreover, a smaller constellation accompanies my constellation, for the high position and throne of my father is always in the sky. So do not ask me so many things, Solomon, for eventually your kingdom will be divided. This glory of yours is temporary. You have us to torture for a little while; then we shall disperse among human beings again with the result that we shall be worshipped as gods because men do not know the names of the angels who rule over us."
- Testament of Solomon 5:4-5
In the Malleus Maleficarum
In the Malleus Maleficarum (1486), Asmodai was considered the demon of lust, to which agreed Sebastian Michaelis saying that his adversary is St. John. Some demonologists of the 16th century assigned each month to a demon and considered November to be the month in which Asmodai's power was stronger. Other demonologists asserted that his zodiacal sign was Aquarius but only between the dates of January 30th and February 8th.
In the Lesser Key of Solomon
Asmodai appears as the king 'Asmoday' in the Ars Goetia, where he is said to have a seal in gold and is listed as number thirty-two according to respective rank.
He is a Great King, Strong, and Powerful. He appeareth with Three Heads, whereof the first is like a Bull, the second like a Man, and the third like a Ram; he hath also the tail of a Serpent, and from his mouth issue Flames of Fire. His Feet are webbed like those of a Goose. He sitteth upon an Infernal Dragon, and beareth in his hand a Lance with a Banner. He is first and choicest under the Power of Amaymon, he goeth before all other.
When the Exorcist hath a mind to call him, let it be abroad, and let him stand on his feet all the time of the action, with his Cap or Headdress off; for if it be on, Amaymon will deceive him and call all his actions to be bewrayed. But as soon as the Exorcist seeth Asmoday in the shape aforesaid, he shall call him by his Name, saying: 'Are thou Asmoday?' and he will not deny it, and by-and-by he will bow down unto the ground.
He giveth the Ring of Virtues; he teacheth the Arts of Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, and all handicrafts absolutely. He giveth true and full answers unto thy demands. He maketh one Invincible. He showeth the place where Treasures lie, and guardeth it. He, amongst the Legions of Amaymon governeth 72 Legions of Spirits Inferior.
Milton writes in Paradise Lost
Than Asmodeus with the fishy fume That drove him, though enamoured, from the spouse Of Tobit's son, and with a vengeance sent From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.
- Paradise Lost , iv. 167--71.— Paradise Lost.
Sidonay, alias Asmoday, a great king, strong and mightie, he is seene with three heads, whereof the first is like a bull, the second like a man, the third like a ram, he hath a serpents taile, he belcheth flames out of his mouth, he hath feete like a goose, he sitteth on an infernall dragon, he carrieth a lance and a flag in his hand, he goeth before others, which are under the power of Amaymon. When the conjuror exerciseth this office, let him be abroad, let him be warie and standing on his feete; if his cap be on his head, he will cause all his dooings to be bewraied, which if he doo not, the exorcist shalbe deceived by Amaymon in everie thing. But so soone as he seeth him in the forme aforesaid, he shall call him by his name, saieng; Thou art Asmoday; he will not denie it, and by and by he boweth downe to the ground; he giveth the ring of venues, he absolutelie teacheth geometrie, arythmetike, astronomie, and handicrafts. To all demands he answereth fullie and trulie, he maketh a man invisible, he sheweth the places where treasure lieth, and gardeth it, if it be among the legions of Amaymon, he hath under his power seventie two legions. - Pseudomonarchia daemonum - Johann Wier (1583)
The Thirty-second Spirit is Asmoday, or Asmodai. He is a Great King, Strong, and Powerful. He appeareth with Three Heads, whereof the first is like a Bull, the second like a Man, and the third like a Ram; he hath also the tail of a Serpent, and from his mouth issue Flames of Fire. His Feet are webbed like those of a Goose. He sitteth upon an Infernal Dragon, and beareth in his hand a Lance with a Banner. He is first and choicest under the Power of AMAYMON, he goeth before all other. When the Exorcist hath a mind to call him, let it be abroad, and let him stand on his feet all the time of action, with his Cap or Headdress off; for if it be on, AMAYMON will deceive him and call all his actions to be bewrayed. But as soon as the Exorcist seeth Asmoday in the shape aforesaid, he shall call him by his Name, saying: "Art thou Asmoday?" and he will not deny it, and by-and-by he will bow down unto the ground. He giveth the Ring of Virtues; he teacheth the Arts of Arithmetic, Astronomy, Geometry, and all handicrafts absolutely. He giveth true and full answers unto thy demands. He maketh one Invincible. He showeth the place where Treasures lie, and guardeth it. He, amongst the Legions of AMAYMON governeth 72 Legions of Spirits Inferior. His Seal is this which thou must wear as a Lamen upon thy breast, etc. Goetia - S. L. MacGregor Mathers (1904) (quoted) Asmoday, Goetia
Asmodee: Usually written "Asmodeus," and sometimes "Chashmodai". Derived by some from the Hebrew word "Asamod," to destroy or exterminate; and by others from the Persian verb "Azmonden," = to tempt, to try or prove. Some Rabbins say that Asmodeus was the child of the incest of Tubal-Cain and his sister Naafrfah. Others say that he was the Demon of impurity. Others again relate that he was employed by Solomon in the building of the Temple at Jerusalem; that he then attempted to dethrone Solomon, to put himself in his place; but that the King vanquished him and the Angel Gabriel chased him into Egypt, and there bound him in a Grotto. The Rabbins say that when Asmodeus was working at the building of the Temple, he made use of no metal tool; but instead of a certain stone which cut ordinary stone as a diamond will glass.Sacred Magic of Abra-Melin the Mage - SL MacGregor Mathers (1898)
Art / Fiction
- Megatokyo webcomic as Asmodeus, archenemy to Seraphim
- In the comic series RFU, Asmodeus is the leader of the Pointy Hat Guys, responsible for orchestrating many of the series' events.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, Asmodeus resides in Fortress Malsheem, located in Nessus, the ninth layer of Baator. He is acknowledged by all baatezu as the king of Baator, essentially making him lord of the nine layers of Hell.
- In Nomine as Asmodeus, one of the Demon Princes.
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant as Asmodeus, a demon. He was summoned by Rasputin.
- Terranigma as Asmodeus, the disease that ravaged the surface world.
- In the arcade/Nintendo 64 fighting game Mace: The Dark Age, Asmodeus is a demon who wields an unholy relic called the Mace of Tanis. Drawing on its netherwordly power, he supports the Covenant of Seven, an alliance of vicious rulers in the medieval world. In return, these sovereigns constantly war on their neighbouring countries and subject their lessers to the worst kinds of torture imaginable, thus satisfying the dark cravings of the Mace and its master.
- The first Star Ocean video game features the Demon King Asmodeus as the source of the virus that ravaged the planet of Roak.
- In the Ogre Battle Saga, as both Asmodeus and Asmodee, the god of Bane.
- In Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned, Asmodeus is the demon the titular character must defeat in the Temple of Solomon.
- In Robot Alchemical Drive, Asmodeus is the Leader of an evil robot race, and the final boss.
- In a Role-Playing Story called the "Yoshi Bodyguards" (located in the Nintendo Nsider Forums), Asmodeus is a Titan made of fire. The story's main character was named Asmodeus as well.
- In the PC game Diablo, referred to as Azmodan, the Lord of Sin.
- In the video game Painkiller, Asmodeus is the leader of Lucifer's armies. In the expansion, he usurps the throne of Lucifer.
- In the action videogame Max Payne', the psychotic mafia goon Jack Lupino mentions Asmodeus in his deluded worship of various demons and other malevolent figures.
- Named Sydonai, he is the final boss in the computer game Hellgate: London. He looks similar to Cthulhu.
- El Diablo Cojuelo (The Cripple Devil) by Luís Vélez de Guevara
- Paradise Lost by John Milton
- In the Redwall series by Brian Jacques, he is a giant adder
- In the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan as Asmodean, one of the thirteen Forsaken, near-immortal men and women of magical might and political influence who serve the Dark One.
- Tathea by Anne Perr. Asmodeus is the evil counterpart to God
- Esbae: A Winter's Tale by Linda Haldeman. Chuck Holmes summons the demon Asmodeus to help him pass his college classes
- Heaven and Earth Trilogy by Richard Harland, Asmodai is a fallen angel who pretends to repent. He is welcomed back in Heaven, but secretly continues to plot Heaven's fall
- “Dark Angels Warhammer 40,000”. Asmodai is also the name given to the Interrogator-Chaplain of the Dark Angels
- “Raven's Gate” by Anthony Horowitz. Witch Jayne Deverill has a cat called Asmodeus
- In "Voices in the Dark", the first instalment of Babylon 5: The Lost Tales, a man named Simon Burke claims to be possessed by Asmodeus as part of God's strategy to bring mankind back to the Church.
- Gene Roddenberry's Spectre has a fictional cult devoted to the worship of him.
- In the TV series Charmed the leader of the demonic group known as the Triad, the leader is named Asmodeus.
- Asmodaios was the name of a Greek satirical newspaper published by writer Emmanouel Roidis between 1875 and 1876.
- It is rumored that the modern-day exorcist Dr. Daniel J. Garguillio has made claims to be the literal son of Asmodeus.
- ^ p. 8 of Lilith's Cave: Jewish tales of the supernatural, by Howard Schwartz (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988)
- ^ a b c MacGregor, Mathers (trans.) (1995), Crowley, Aleister & Liddell, Samuel, eds., The Goetia: The Lesser Key of Solomon the King, York Beach: Samuel Weiser, ISBN 0-87728-847-X