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Demons are one of the most controversial topics in the Bible and in modern medicine. There are many beliefs about demons, but most of them are built on myth, legend, and hearsay. The word demon is used as an all encompassing definition that applies to all of the following terms:
- Evil Spirit
- Unclean Spirit
In this study, we’re going to take an in depth look at the origin of demons according to the Bible.
The Origin of The Shed
The Shed were well known throughout the Middle East as powerful spirits. The first place in the Bible that we encounter the Shed is in reference to Israel worshiping them.
“They sacrificed unto devils (Shed), not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.” – Deuteronomy 32:17
The deeper we look into the words of Moses, the stranger the entire verse becomes. The first thing that we notice is that sacrifices are being made to these Shed by the Israelites. The second aspect to this strange scenario is that Moses points out that these were “new” gods that not even their fathers feared. In order to keep this in perspective, we have to remember that the Israelites had just been freed from Egypt, where they worshiped many different gods. The Shed were completely different than the gods that were worshiped in Egypt. Moses also tells us that they were “new gods that came newly up”.
- New – Chadash (Hebrew) – New thing, something new.
Not only were the Hebrews sacrificing to these Shed, Moses points out that their fathers did not fear them. This seems to imply that the Israelites may have had a genuine fear of the Shed that did not exist in previous generations. Let’s take a look at the word used for fear in Hebrew.
- Fear – Sa’ar (Hebrew) – to shiver, to be horribly afraid.
The Israelites were much more than scared; the English equivalent to the word sa’ar would be terrified. Not only were they terrified, but it is in the book of Psalms that we find out just how terrified they were and what kind of sacrifices they were making to the Shed.
“Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils,” – Psalm 106:37
The Israelites were so scared that they began to sacrifice their own sons and daughters. What kind of entity would make a person so fearful that they would kill their own flesh and blood in a sacrifice? Unfortunately, the Bible does not give us a description of these entities, but there was another culture in the area, that were worshipers of the Shed and kept very detailed records of them, including carvings and depictions.
The Assyrians and Babylonians worshiped creatures known as the Shedu. Both cultures were closely connected and spoke the Semitic language Akkadian, which was very similar to ancient Hebrew. According to the beliefs at the time, the Lamassu (female) and the Shedu (male) were the same creature. These beings were depicted in the following manner:
According to the Assyrian and Babylonian cultures, the Shedu were hybrids with the body of a bull, wings of an eagle, and the head of a man. Stories of hybrid creatures generally appear in two time periods: very ancient history and modern times. As we continue digging into the origin of demons, we will see that there is a very strong connection between demons and hybrid creatures.
Read More About Angels & Demons In My BookBeyond Flesh and Blood: The Ultimate Guide To Angels and Demons
The Origin of The Sa’iyr
The Sa’iyr are an interesting group of spiritual beings because, like the Shed, they too were considered to be hybrids. Here is how the Strong’s Concordance defines the word Sa’iyr:
- Sa’iyr (Hebrew) – Satyr, Faun, He-Goat, Shaggy
The origin of the word Sa’iyr is sa’ar (to shiver, be horribly afraid), which we went over previously. Stories of Fauns and Satyrs are most prominent in the myths and legends of other cultures, but here we find a reference to the same creatures in the Old Testament. So what exactly are Fauns and Satyrs?
“The faun is a half human – half goat (from the head to the waist being the human half, but with the addition of goat’s horns) manifestation of forest and animal spirits which would help or hinder humans at whim. Romans believed fauns inspired fear in men traveling in lonely, remote or wild places.”
As we have seen, the origin of the Satyr beliefs have their root in the Hebrew word for fear. Over a thousand years later, the Romans held the same belief that these hybrid creatures struck fear in the hearts of men that traveled alone. The Hebrews feared these creatures and as a result, also worshiped and made sacrifices to them.
“And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute for ever unto them throughout their generations.” – Leviticus 17:7
The words God uses, while speaking to Moses, in the above verse are interesting because it provides a link between the Sa’iyr and another legend surrounding these creatures. God refers to the people “whoring” after the Sa’iyr. The Hebrew word used is zanah, which is translated as prostitute, whore, whoring, and fornication in the Old Testament. Much of the Church teaching on fornication has been diluted down to only mean sex. However, throughout the Bible, there is a strong connection between fornication and pagan worship. In every legend of Fauns and Satyrs, they are well known for their sexual escapades with human women and sometimes men.
“Satyrs are described as roguish but faint-hearted folk, subversive and dangerous, yet shy and cowardly.As Dionysiac creatures they are lovers of wine and women, and they are ready for every physical pleasure.”
Among the list of activities in Satyr mythology, is their associating with music, dancing, playfulness, and orgies. The Old Testament actually contains a reference that associates the Satyr with dancing.
“But wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures; and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.” – Isaiah 13:21
The word translated as Satyrs in the above verse is the same word translated as devils in Leviticus 17:7. This leads us back to the question, “were stories of these creatures more than just myth and legend?” As we continue digging into the Sa’iyr, we encounter one in particular that is said to be the origin of the word “pandemonium”.
“Pan aided his foster-brother in the battle with the Titans by letting out a horrible screech and scattering them in terror.”
According to legend, it was this scream of Pan that led to pan-demonium among his rivals. The Greek word daimonium refers to being under the influence of a demon. Pandemonium literally translates as “under the demonic control of Pan”. The story of Pan is linked to a great battle for the heavens in the Greek culture, but when we look deeper into the Hebrew culture, we find a similar story of a fallen angel by the name of Azazel. The name Azazel was used in the movie, Fallen, starring Denzel Washington. In the movie, Azazel was presented as woodland demon that had the power to possess humans and animals. Surprisingly, we find mention of Azazel in the Bible in association with sin and goats.
“And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat.” – Leviticus 16:8
It is important to point out that this particular goat was not the fallen angel in question. The Hebrew word translated as scapegoat is Azazel, which means, “the goat that has gone astray.” The story of Azazel is actually a very old Hebrew belief that does not come from the Bible, but from events that they believe happened prior to Noah’s flood.
“Azazel is represented in the Book of Enoch as one of the leaders of the rebellious Watchers in the time preceding the flood; he taught men the art of warfare, of making swords, knives, shields, and coats of mail, and women the art of deception by ornamenting the body, dying the hair, and painting the face and the eyebrows, and also revealed to the people the secrets of witchcraft and corrupted their manners, leading them into wickedness and impurity; until at last he was, at the Lord’s command, bound hand and foot by the archangel Raphael and chained to the rough and jagged rocks of [Ha] Duduael (= Beth Ḥadudo), where he is to abide in utter darkness until the great Day of Judgment, when he will be cast into the fire to be consumed forever.”
This particular belief comes from 1 Enoch, which was hidden in Qumran, along with other books of the Bible. 1 Enoch also appears in the Ethiopian Bible and many other early translations. It was also a very popular book during the 2nd Temple period, and is referenced by both Peter and Jude. While it is not considered scripture, both Jews and early Christians considered this book to be a very important book that reflected early beliefs about Noah’s flood. Did the creation of Satyrs begin with a fallen angel that rebelled against God? While we can’t say for sure, it seems to fit the motive of fallen angels that want to corrupt all of God’s creation.
Read More About Angels & Demons In My BookBeyond Flesh and Blood: The Ultimate Guide To Angels and Demons
I Will Be Like The Most High
For those that have been conditioned their entire lives to believe that hybrids are the stuff that mythology is made of, the above information may not hold much weight. It does not seem like these hybrids were being created for no reason. There actually seems to be a very valid reason for fallen angels, especially Lucifer, to attempt to create a hybrid creature.
“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” – Isaiah 14:13-14
Lucifer’s ambition was to be like God in every way possible. In order to reach this goal, it was necessary for him to mimic what God had already created. The problem with hybrids is not that they appear all over the world in the myths and legends of other cultures, it’s that they appear in the Bible as guardians of God’s throne. It is possible that Satan was trying to copy creatures that were made by God.
“Also out of the midst thereof came the likeness of four living creatures. And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet were straight feet; and the sole of their feet was like the sole of a calf’s foot: and they sparkled like the colour of burnished brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings were joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.” – Ezekiel 1:5-10
While it is not an exact description of the Shedu that the Assyrians were worshiping, there are several similarities that stand out:
- Calf’s Foot
- Multiple Wings
- Face of a Man
Is this a coincidence or is this proof that the hybrids of mythology have their origins in Lucifer’s attempt to “be like the Most High?” This is where spiritual warfare crosses over into the physical realm. It is entirely possible that when we look at the carving of a Shedu, we are looking back into a period of history in which abominations conjured in the mind of Lucifer and the other fallen angels, actually walked the Earth. Even more disturbing is that science is actively pursuing the creation of animal/human hybrids much like those mentioned in the myths and legends throughout history.
Demon Possession and Exorcisms
There is a lot of mystery that surrounds the ancient Biblical practice of performing an exorcism. Hollywood movies have commercialized the practice until it is no longer believed by many people. While there are people in the modern age do not believe in evil spirits that possess human bodies, it was a widely held belief in the ancient world. There were also many ways that these cultures believed an exorcism could be performed.
- Name of Jesus
- *Blessed Oil
- *Holy Water
Much of what we know about exorcism comes from Catholic based movies, which usually consist of long exorcism rituals which were not conducted in the Bible. Crucifixes, Blessed Oil, and Holy Water may not be effective against demons in a real life situation, but it sure looks convincing in the movies. However, rebuking in the name of Jesus, fasting, and prayer are known to work if the one doing the casting out is saved. The unsaved may find themselves in the same position as the seven sons of Sceva (Acts 19:16). Exorcism has been part of the human existence since shortly after Noah’s flood. Throughout history, music has been the traditional way of appeasing and driving away unwanted spirits. The first account of this in the Bible is when David plays music for Saul in 1 Samuel 16:23.
“And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took an harp, and played with his hand: so Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.” – 1 Samuel 16:23
The oldest known references to rebuking demons in the name of the Lord is found in Zechariah 3:2 and Jude 1:9, both in direct reference to opposing Satan. When Jesus comes on the scene He commands demons to come out of people with authority and gives His disciples the authority to cast them out in His name (Luke 10:17).
After one occasion of the disciples returning from an unsuccessful exorcism, He reveals that certain kinds of exorcisms require fasting and prayer (Mark 9:29). Unfortunately, the Bible does not give us the details as to what kind of spirits are immune to obeying the name of Christ and why it is necessary to engage in heavier spiritual warfare with them through fasting and prayer. That fact alone should make us open our eyes and take spiritual warfare very seriously.
Excerpt From: Beyond Flesh and Blood: The Ultimate Guide To Angels and Demons, Pages 144-145
Demon Possession vs. Mental Illness
Michele left this comment on a previous post, so I thought I’d make an attempt at addressing it. I’m not a doctor or medical physician of any kind, and this is not to be considered medical advice. Please use discernment to the best of your ability before you continue.
“These are some of the things I think are possibly going on where these demons are concerned. I truly believe there are also a lot more people that are mentally ill/demon possessed than what most people realize or wish to admit. You never read of a bible story of anyone being mentally ill, they are possessed with a deaf, dumb, blind, or mute spirit or a mean evil spirit and some of them get healed, some not.” – Michele (website reader)
I’ve actually heard many non-Christians make the argument that demon possession is just mental illness. The part I want to address for Michele is the statement that we don’t see a story of any mentally ill people in the Bible. I believe that the Bible does make a distinction between the two in the Gospels.
“And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them.” – Matthew 4:24
Here in Matthew, if we read carefully, we see that those with divers (many) diseases and torments, those possessed, those that were lunatic, and those with palsy were brought to Jesus for healing. The Greek makes a very clear distinction between physical ailments and demonic possession. Here are the words and their meanings in Greek.
- Sick: kakos – sick, ill
- Diseases: nosos – disease, infirmity, sickness
- Torments: basanos – tortured (physically or mentally)
- Possessed With Devils: daimonizomai – under the power of an evil spirit.
- Lunatic: seléniazomai, which means “controlled by the moon”. It also referred to people with epilepsy.
- Palsy: paralutikos – paralyzed
We can see that the above list is not just lumped into the category of demonic possession. The Bible clearly makes a distinction between the physically sick, tortured (physically or mentally), mental illness, paralysis, and demonic possession.
This is just a little bit of “ammunition” for those that may encounter the argument that people back then didn’t know the difference between demonic possession and mental illness. They definitely did.
Where Did The Demons Go?
There are a ton of questions in this post so I’ve taken the liberty of turning them all red for you to ponder on. Sometimes I like to sit around, think, and pray for hours on end.
Where do demons keep coming from?
Let me admit upfront that as much as I try to separate tradition from scripture, this one is a little bit hard to do. Before I put the horse ahead of the cart, here is the verses I’m referring to:
“And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time? And there was a good way off from them an herd of many swine feeding. So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine. And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.” – Matthew 8:28-32
The demons know they have an appointed time of torment. Even more interesting than that is the fact that they knew the time line wasn’t right for their torment. However, that’s not the point I want to make. Before they were cast out, they negotiated a transfer into the swine.
Why did Jesus grant this request?
I have no idea why Jesus didn’t banish them to the abyss, but I assume that it has something to do with His forgiving nature. Once the demons were in the herd of swine, they ran off the cliff and killed them.
Why did they kill the swine?
I assume that they wanted to shed the bodies while being as destructive as possible. There is still a more pressing question in this scenario:
Where did the demons go after that?
I assume they were moving on to inhabit something else, but the Bible doesn’t answer the question. This brings me to the main point of this post.
Many of us believe that demons are the disembodied spirits of the Nephilim. If that is true, we could safely assume that pre-flood Nephilim were in the millions. Let’s also assume that post flood Nephilim were kept down to only a few thousand at any given time because of God’s intervention.
Here is where the problem comes into play. The Church has traditionally taught that demons can be sent to the abyss by rebuking or exorcism. Let’s assume for a moment that they can be sent to the abyss by these means:
Where are they still coming from?
If the pagan stories are true, they may explain why we have a constant supply of demons roaming the earth. According to the time line of stories referenced in, As The Days of Noah Were, the angels never stopped taking people. Most mythology only reports the taking of a couple of individuals at a time, instead of in mass like the pre-flood incursion.
While the above is an interesting possibility, I also recognize the possibility of one more. There seems to be fewer and fewer possessions reported, at least to the general public. Much of what we see in the news might be the result of possession, but we don’t know for sure. This leads me to the next question:
Have we put a dent in their numbers?
If hybrids were only being made a few at a time throughout history, it might explain why there don’t seem to be many reports of possession. The above verse about Jesus sending them to the abyss is what many Christians base their belief on that we have same power. I’m still unable to figure out if that is tradition or fact. If we consider all of the rebuking and exorcisms throughout history, they could be decreasing in number.
Are they just laying low?
I think it’s possible that they may be waiting for something big, but I can’t say for sure. Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think.
Read More About Angels & Demons In My BookBeyond Flesh and Blood: The Ultimate Guide To Angels and Demons
Evil spirits seems to play a very important role throughout scripture, as the enemies of mankind. Starting with Moses, demons are viewed as a spiritual adversary that only wants to mislead and destroy mankind. They lie about who they are, steal worship from God, and inhabit human bodies without permission. Many mental illnesses seems as though they could actually be cases of demon possession, but on the other hand, many that are believed to be demon possessed, may just be suffering from mental illness.
If you believe that someone you know is possessed by an evil spirit, make sure you proceed with caution. If they are not possessed, you could make matters worse by not getting them the help they need. They same holds true if they are demon possessed, but don’t get the help they need. Pray about it and use discernment to the best of your ability.