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An Akkadian Demon in the Talmud: Between Šulak and Bar-Širiqa 1

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Abstract This article examines the resemblance between the Talmudic privy demon (“Shed Bet ha-Kise”) and Šulak, a well-known Akkadian demon. There are four considerations that point to identifying the privy demon of the Talmud with the Babylonian demon Šulak: (1) They both dwell in the privy; (2) they both are demons that cause epilepsy, strokes, or sudden falls; (3) they both seem to have the form of a lion; and (4) their names (“Šulak” and “Bar Širiqa”) are very similar. This suggestion is yet another example of the presence of beliefs and opinions from the Ancient Near East that found an echo in the Babylonian Talmud, one that may be added to a number of examples given by M. Geller.

Affiliations: 1: Tel Aviv University


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