The Sword of Moses

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This article is about the apocryphal Hebrew book of magic. For other uses, see The Sword of Moses (disambiguation).

The Sword of Moses is the title of an apocryphal Hebrew book of magic edited by Moses Gaster in 1896 from a 13th- or 14th-century manuscript from his own collection, formerly MS Gaster 78, now London, British Library MS Or. 10678. Gaster assumed that the text predates the 11th century, based on a letter by Rav Hai Gaon (939-1038) which mentions the book alongside the Sefer ha-Yashar, described as another book of formulas, and that it may even date to as early as the first four centuries CE. Besides the medieval manuscript used by Gaster, a short fragment of the text survives in Cod. Oxford 1531. A new critical edition was printed in 1997 by the Israeli scholar Yuval Harari based on a variant text found in another manuscript. An English translation of the same was published in 2012[1]

Contents[edit]

The largest manuscript of the Sword of Moses begins with a description of the heavenly realms and angels, and soon moves onto describing various prayers, invocations, and ritual procedures that the reader is to perform before he is able to use the "Sword"; this term refers to a huge list of magical names later in the text, divided into 136 sections, each with a different magical use. The list of names is given first, followed by its uses in the next section:

[1]If at a full moon you wish to seize and to bind a man and a woman so that they will be with each other, and to annul spirits and blast-demons and satans, and to bind a boat, and to free a man from prison, and for every thing, write on a red plate from TWBR TSBR until H’ BŠMHT.[2]And if you wish to destroy high mountains50 and to pass (in safety) through the sea and the land, and to go down into fire and come up,and to remove kings, and to cause an optical illusion, and to stop up a mouth, and to converse with the dead, and to kill the living, and to bring down and raise up and adjure angels to abide by you, and to learn all the secrets of the world, write on a silver plate, and put in it a root of artemisia, from TWBR TSBR until H’BŠMHT. [3]For a spirit that moves in the body, write on magzab52 from TWBR until MNGYNWN. [4]For a spirit that causes inflammation, write from MGNYNWN until HYDRSṬ'.[2]

Editions[edit]

  • M. Gaster, London (1896) (online copy, Hebrew version of the same)
  • Yuval Harari, אקדמון Israel (1997) חרבא דמשה: מהדורה חדשה ומחקר
  • Yuval Harari, University of Pennsylvania Press (2012) (English)

The Sword of Moses in fiction[edit]

The original manuscripts of The Sword of Moses kept in London and Oxford feature centrally in Dominic Selwood's 2013 crypto-thriller The Sword of Moses (Corax, London, 2013) ISBN 978-0992633202.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1] Yuval Harari, The Sword of Moses (Ḥarba de-Moshe): A New Translation and Introduction
  2. ^ [2] Harari, The Sword of Moses