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the time, or suggest that those practitioners who used it chose to produce
the finished products based upon it only on perishable materials. Be that
as it may, it seems that the evidence currently at our disposal does not
allow any definitive claims regarding the date or place of composition of
this late-antique Jewish book of magic, which may have been composed
in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, or any other region where Hebrew-writing Jews
came into contact with Greco-Roman culture and Greco-Egyptian magic.
Before leaving Sepher ha-Razim, one additional note is in order. Excited
by his epoch-making discovery, Margalioth became convinced that most
of the Palestinian and Egyptian [Jewish] magical literature of the generations immediately following the composition of Sepher ha-Razim was to
a lesser or greater extent influenced by it, and borrowed from it materials
or phrases.80 While the importance of this work is demonstrated by the
many Genizah fragments and non-Genizah manuscripts thereof, by occasional borrowings from it in later Jewish magical texts, and by the many
references to it in medieval Jewish literature, there is little doubt that the
ongoing publication of dozens of late antique Palestinian Jewish amulets
and hundreds of Babylonian incantation bowls, as well as the countless
magical texts from the Cairo Genizah, will transform our view of Sepher
ha-Razims place within the Jewish magical tradition. Whether it will give
us better access to some of this books postulated sources is still too early
to say, but it certainly will provide numerous examples of magical texts
which are roughly contemporaneous with Sepher ha-Razim or postdate its
postulated date of composition, yet are entirely independent of it. Sepher
ha-Razim is an important source for the study of ancient Jewish magic,
but given the enormous historical and textual uncertainties surrounding
it, the other sources at our disposal often provide better starting-points for
the historical study of ancient Jewish magic. It is for this reason that in the
subsequent chapters Sepher ha-Razim will occupy second stage to some of
the other Jewish magical texts at our disposal.
H
. arba de-Moshe
Of all the sources at our disposal, H
. arba de-Moshe (The Sword of Moses)
is perhaps the most exasperating.81 Extant in at least three different versions,
its longest version is attested only in very late manuscripts (none, apparently,
earlier than the sixteenth century) all of which are obviously corrupt, while
its shorter versions are attested in manuscripts of the fourteenth or fifteenth
80
81

Margalioth 1966, p. 35, based on his detailed discussion in pp. 2946.


For the Sword of Moses, see the useful discussions by Gaster 1896; Alexander 1986, pp. 35052; Schafer
1991, pp. viixvii; Harari 1997a; Harari 2005c.

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century, but they too do not inspire much faith in the accuracy of the texts
they preserve. Worse still, the few Genizah fragments of this work that
have been identified and published show a remarkable similarity to the
longer version, while other Genizah fragments have yet to be identified
and analyzed.82 Thus, although we possess two modern editions of the
longer version of this text, two editions of the shorter one, and one edition
of a third and even shorter version, we are far from possessing anything
close to a reliable text of this work, on which to base a detailed historical
analysis.83 One thing we do know, however, is that a Sword of Moses
was already known to Hai Gaon, and that the incipit he cites for this work
(see below) roughly matches the beginning of the longer version, but not
of any of the shorter ones. Whether this should argue for the priority of
the longer version, as Gaster quite naively assumed, is a matter of grave
doubts.
In its present form, the longest version of the Sword of Moses consists of
three unequal parts. First comes an introduction (written partly in Hebrew,
partly in Aramaic), relating how Moses had acquired this sword, and
what newcomers must do before they even try to use it themselves. This is
followed by the sword itself an extremely long list of mostly meaningless
words, in which are embedded a few meaningful Aramaic sentences. This
is followed by a list consisting of about 140 recipes, all written in Babylonian
Jewish Aramaic with some Hebrew words. Each recipe uses a section of
the sword as a spell to be recited or written down, the sections usually
following each other in the sword itself. Thus, the sixth to eighth recipes

run as follows: For a demon, write from H BSMHT


until YWYHW. For
fear, from YW YHYW to YY YY YY. For diphtheria, say on rose-oil from
YY YY YY to WNT.W, and place it (i.e., the oil) in his mouth. Each of
these from X-word to Y-word sequences usually encompasses around ten
consecutive words of the sword itself, but shorter or longer sequences
are not uncommon. The entire text, as it currently stands, is characterized
not only by the ignorance of its copyists (to which we shall soon return),
but also by their carelessness, for there is not even a full agreement between
the words as spelled in the from X-word to Y-word instructions and
themselves (cf. YWYHW with YW YHYW in the above example), and
82

83

For the published Genizah fragments, see Harari 1997a, pp. 15456 (four fragments, all from a single
codex) and Hopkins 1978, pp. 7477 (one fragment, from a different codex).
For the longer version, see Gasters and Hararis editions; for the manuscripts which preserve it, see
esp. Benayahu 1972; for the shorter version, see Gaster 1896, Appendix A and Synopse 598622. For
the third version, see Synopse 64050. And cf. the Sword-related fragments published by Harari
1997a, pp. 13945.

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especially between them and the words found in the sword itself, only
a few pages earlier.
As even this cursory description shows, this is a complex text, and there is
little doubt that it underwent several stages of editing.84 This also explains
the existence in one of the manuscripts of the longer version of several
citations and excerpts taken from a Sword of Moses which differs from that
known to us, and which may represent an earlier stage, or earlier stages, in
its textual history.85 But here too, the work of identifying all the excerpts
and fragments (including those from the Cairo Genizah) and studying their
implications for the textual history of the entire work, is only in its infancy.
For the time being, all we have are agonizing demonstrations that the
currently available texts are late and unreliable, and some pointers towards
the reconstruction of the long history of the different parts of the Sword of
Moses.
As the introduction to the entire work is somewhat superfluous, and
could easily have been added, expanded, abridged, or emended by the
books later editors (it is, we may add, absent from the shorter versions),
it is also the hardest section to date. The sword and the recipes, on the
other hand, go hand in hand, and it stands to reason that a single editor
is responsible for both. Locating this editor, however, is again a very tricky
business, though it is important to note that unlike the recipes of Sepher
ha-Razim, which seem to point to an educated urban elite living in a
Hellenized social milieu, those of the H
. arba de-Moshe at least of the
longer version tend to be much simpler and more rustic in nature, and
display few signs of contact with Hellenic culture.86 They aim to heal a
whole host of diseases (arranged according to the afflicted members of the
body, from top to bottom, a common arrangement both in Babylonian and
in Greek medicine), to solve various agricultural problems, and to help one
in such mundane occurrences as falling into a well or a river or encountering
a hostile gang. (Here too, however, one meets some unlikely scenarios, such
as If you wish to grab a lion by its ear.) The materials used for the magical
praxis tend to be vegetal oils, palm fibers, water, pottery sherds, and other
materials available to any village or small-town dweller, with only a small
percentage of the recipes necessitating the use of silver or gold lamellae and
84

85
86

For the editorial complexity of this work, see Schafer 1991, pp. ixxii, and esp. Harari 1997a, pp. 77
133.
As was convincingly argued by Harari 1997a, pp. 14549.
Note, however, that this is less true for the shorter version (=Synopse 598622), which does contain
race-course recipes (609610 (note that @wfmq is an error for @wpmq = campus (see Margalioth 1966,
p. x, n. 3, and Krauss 189899, p. 510), a defixio (617), and even a recipe whose origins must be
Greco-Egyptian (616). For these recipes, see further discussion in Chapter 5.

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none calling for the productions of elaborate rings or engraved gemstones.


And when one looks for the kinds of Greek terminology which so abounds
in Sepher ha-Razim and some Genizah magical texts, one finds that such
terminology is almost totally absent from the recipes of the Sword of Moses.
Instead, one finds many terms and materia magica which commonly appear
in the medical recipes of the Babylonian Talmud, to which we shall turn in
Chapter 6. Even more telling is the fact that magical materials which are
typical of the Greco-Roman magical tradition and which appear in Sepher
ha-Razim or in the shorter Sword excerpts in Hebrew transliteration of
their Greek names appear in the longest version of the Sword in their
Aramaic translations a sure sign of the replacement of Greek terms which
were not easily understood in a Greek-less cultural environment by their
Aramaic equivalents.87 Finally, we may note that while the very concept of a
magic sword of an ancient cultural hero is paralleled in the Greek magical
tradition, this does not necessarily argue for the dependence of our sword
on Greek models.88 Enough materials within the Jewish exegetical tradition
could have spawned the concept of Moses magical sword in a manner that
would have been entirely independent of such Greek parallels.89 Similarly,
the fact that quite a few of the Swords recipes enjoin the production of
a written finished product (and, as in the case of Sepher ha-Razim, the
archeological record has provided no such artifacts, even though some of
them should have been quite durable), might argue for the late-antique
Palestinian origins of at least some of these recipes.90
With such data at hand, it would be easy to conclude, as have done most
of the few scholars who have paid attention to this work, that it is a Geonic
compilation, and therefore too late for the present study, and that it is
likely to be a Babylonian compilation, and once again less relevant for our
purposes. And yet, when one turns to the sword itself, one is surprised to
87

88

89
90

For example, the common magical ingredient 


 is given as @wnlm hnrymz in ShR I/9596
(and see Margalioth, p. 2), but as !kwa arwm in H
. dM recipes no. 56 (p. 41 Harari) and 98 (p. 44
Harari) (see AMB, p. 88; and cf. ayka anrmz in Synopse 599?). Note also how the commonly used
plant 
  is given as ayswmwfra and hyswmwyfra in some Sword-related excerpts (Harari 1997a,
pp. 140 and 142 respectively; see also Synopse 618 and 621), but as arxaw` in recipes no. 2 and 51
of the longer version.
For Greek parallels, see the  
  of PGM IV.1716 and 1813; note also the !"(
)
 (  ) "  " (Homers Oracle, or Scimitar) of P.Oxy. LVI, 3831, with the editors note.
And see Harari 2005c, pp. 298309.
For writing and writing surfaces, note recipes no. 1 (p. 36 Harari) (a red (bronze?) lamella); 2 (p. 37)
(a silver lamella); 3 (a plate?); 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, and 16 (writing surfaces not specified); 31 (p. 39)
(papyrus?); 35 (a plate?); 45 (p. 40) (bay leaf ); 47 (w.s.n.s.); 48 (red bronze lamella); 48a (w.s.n.s.);
50 (silver lamella); 53 (w.s.n.s.); 55 (p. 41) (a new lamp); 57, 58 (pottery sherds); 59 (a lamella); 60
(the skin of a donkey); 61 (cranial membrane?); 64 (a door); 68 (p. 42) (a voodoo doll); 70 (a silver
lamella); 92 (p. 43) (w.s.n.s.); 96 (an egg?); 105 (p. 44) (lead lamella); 106 (papyrus); 107 (papyrus?);
126 (p. 45) (a lead lamella); 128 (an egg); 129 (p. 46) (bay leaf ).

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find embedded in it a long, and garbled, Greek formula in one section of the
sword, a formula whose Aramaic translation is found in another section
of the same text.91 In the shorter version of the Sword of Moses, one finds a
similar phenomenon in the sword section but with an entirely different
Greek formula.92 And returning to the longer version, one also finds a whole
cluster of voces magicae which happen to be very common in the Greek
magical texts of late antiquity embedded in the first part of the sword.93
Like fossils embedded in a sedimentary rock which had been displaced
by age-old tectonic movements, these voces provide ample evidence of the
antiquity of the textual layer in which they are embedded and of the forces
which tossed that layer from an ancient stratum to a much younger one.
We shall return to the issue of Greek loanwords and voces magicae in Jewish
magical texts in the following chapter, but for the moment we must note
the significance of these specific examples for our present survey. While the
Sword of Moses probably is too late, and too Babylonian, to deserve close
attention in the present study, there is no doubt that the materials from
which it was constructed included some Palestinian Jewish materials of lateantique origins, including complete Greek sentences transliterated in the
Hebrew alphabet and a whole line of Greco-Egyptian voces magicae which
a late editor incorporated into his magical sword without ever realizing
their ultimate origins or original significance. Thus, even if the Sword of
Moses might have been excluded from the present survey, one reason for
its inclusion is that this specific case amply demonstrates the complexity
of classifying some of the Jewish magical texts as early or late, and as
Palestinian or Babylonian, and the danger of neglecting those sources
which seem to lie outside pre-set chronological or geographical boundaries.
The Testament of Solomon
Unlike Sepher ha-Razim and H
. arba de-Moshe, which are Jewish works of
magic written in Hebrew and Aramaic, the Testament of Solomon, to which
we now turn, is written in Greek and is a demonstrably Christian work. Its
inclusion in the present chapter therefore is quite anomalous, and yet the
91
92

93

As was brilliantly demonstrated by Rohrbacher-Sticker 1996.


Note esp. Synopse 603, where and mention the one hundred holy and powerful names is immediately followed by anmyrya . . . af . . . afmynya . . . algym af, i.e., #  $ . . . % &  . . . # . . .
'
" (the great . . . names . . . which are to be spoken). The entire passage deserves a more
thorough analysis.
Note the presence of the following voces on p. 31 Harari: swrwzwa swrzwa (=Osiris?); swazy (Zeus?; see
Sperber 1994, p. 89); afrmws (=
 ; Brashear 1995, p. 3599); sskba (=Abraxas?); afnq hams
hafnq (=the "   -formula, discussed in Chapter 4); !lwsm slwsm as (=    , slightly
garbled); htnabl . . . htan alba (= (  ( , slightly garbled), etc. For the construction of
the sword from several distinct conglomerates, see Harari 1997a, pp. 11521.