AGRAT BAT MAHALATH

AGRAT BAT MAHALATH, "Queen of the Demons" in talmudic legend. It was taught that "a person should not go out alone at night, on Wednesdays and Sabbaths, because Agrat bat Mahalath and 180,000 destroying angels go forth, and each has permission to wreak destruction independently." Ḥanina b. Dosa limited her power to these nights; Abbaye further reduced it (Pes. 112b). Another authority states that the following sentence, whispered repeatedly, is effective against witchcraft: "Agrat bat Mahalath came and caused the death, by arrows, of (two other female demons,) Asya and Belusia" (Pes. 111a; see Ein Ya'akov version). According to Numbers Rabbah 12:3: "Thou shalt not be afraid of the terror by night" (Ps. 91:5), refers to Agrat bat Mahalath and her chariot. Some scholars hold that Agrat bat Mahalath is identical with lilith . The view that the name "Agrat" is derived from the Persian "A(n)gra," meaning enemy or demon, and Mahalath from the root mḥl (מחל; "dance") meaning therefore "the dancing witch," has been shown to be without foundation. The kabbalists identify Mahalath with the daughter of Ishmael (Gen. 28:9), who gave   birth to demons and evil spirits. The midrashic source for this is now lost (cf. Maharsha Pes. 112b). For recent views of the meaning of the name "Agrat," see Sokoloff (Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic), pp. 110a and 233b. The name also occurs in Jewish magic amulets; see shaked and naveh , pp. 78–81. For Agrat bat Mahalath in the Zohar, see margaliot , p. 205. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: A. Kohut, Ueber die juedische Angelologie und Daemonologie (1866), 88; Ginzberg, Legends, 5 (1955), 39; He-Arukh ha-Shalem (1937), s.v. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: J. Naveh and S. Shaked, Amulets and Magic Bowls (19872); R. Margaliot, Malakhei Elyon (1988). (Israel Moses Ta-Shma / Stephen Wald (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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