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Book Chapter

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Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Period

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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.

Copyright/Permission Statement

“Israel Ben-Eliezer, the Baal Shem Tov,” by Dan Ben-Amos, (pp.498-512) in Judaism in Practice: From the Middle Ages through the Early Modern Period, edited by Lawrence Fine. Copyright © 2001 by Princeton University Press. This selection may not be distributed, posted, or reproduced in any form by digital or mechanical means without prior permission from the publisher.



Date Posted: 22 September 2017