Israel ben Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov
History of Religion
Near and Middle Eastern Studies
Tales of rainmaking, healing, and the magical supply of provisions are part of the biblical narrative tradition. Elijah the Prophet, and later his disciple Elisha, end drought (1 Kings 18; 2 Kings 3:14-21), offer hope and cure to barren women, revive their children when they die (1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:8-37), and magically provide for the needy (1 Kings 17:8-16; 2 Kings 4:1-7). Elisha, whose reputation as a healer spread beyond the boundaries of Israel, cures a leper and transfers his disease to another, morally inferior, person (2 Kings 5). Trafficking with demons and ghosts in the Bible is restricted to non-Israelite mediators of the supernatural, and is forbidden to the Israelites (Exod. 22:17; 1 Sam. 28:7). The Book of Tobit (one of the books of the Apocrypha) provides accounts of magical cures and demonic exorcisms, yet it does not glorify any individuals as healers.