|Source (Hebrew)||Translation (English)|
…Soon afterward the young son of the king took ill. Said Nebuchadnezzar, “Heal my son. If you don’t, I will kill you.” Ben Sira immediately sat down and wrote an amulet with the Divine Name, and he inscribed on it the angels in charge of healing by their names, forms, and images, and by their wings, hands, and feet. Nebuchadnezzar looked at the amulet. “Who are these?”
“The angels who are in charge of healing: Sanoi, Sansanoi, and Semanglof. There are variant spellings of these names. Amulets providing the names and images of these angels were customarily placed on the walls of rooms in which newborns slept to protect to protect them from demonic harm. See Jacob Reifman, Ha-Karmel, 2:125. After the blessed Holy One created the Primordial Adam, who was alone, Hashem said, ‘It is not good for the Earthling (ha-Adam) to be alone’ (Genesis 2:18). Hashem then created a woman for Adam from the Adamah (the Earth) as Hashem had created Adam himself, and called her Lilit. Adam and Lilit immediately began to fight. She said, ‘I will not lie below,’ and he said, ‘I will not lie beneath you, but only on top. For you are fit only to be in the bottom position, while I am to be in the superior one.’ Lilit responded, ‘We are equal to each other inasmuch as we were both created from the Adamah.’ But they would not listen to one another. When Lilit saw this, she pronounced the Shem haMeforash (the Ineffable Name) and flew away into the cosmic ether. Adam stood in prayer before his Creator: ‘Master of the World!’ he said, ‘the woman you gave me has fled from me.' Note the play on words פרח (flew) and ברח (fled). At once, the blessed Holy One sent these three angels to bring her back.”
“Said the blessed Holy One, ‘If she agrees to come back, fine. If not, she must permit one hundred of her children to die every day.’ The angels left and pursued Lilit, whom they overtook in the midst of the sea, in the mighty waters wherein the Mitsrim were destined to drown. They told her Hashem’s decree, but she did not wish to return. The angels said, ‘We shall drown you in the sea.’”
“’Leave me!’ she said. ‘I was created only to cause sickness to infants. If the infant is male, I have dominion over him for eight days after his birth, and if female, for twenty days.’” We may presume why Lilit has no power over a male baby past the eighth day, since on this day the child undergoes the rite of circumcision. However, it is not clear why Lilit’s power ends on the twentieth day after the birth of a female.
“When the angels heard Lilit’s words, they insisted she go back. But she swore to them by the name of EL Ḥai v’Ḳayam: ‘Whenever I see you or your names or your forms in an amulet, I will have no power over that infant.’ She also agreed to have one hundred of her children die every day. Cf. Numbers Rabbah 16:25. Lilit’s destructive nature endangers her own offspring. Accordingly, every day one hundred sheydim perish, and for the same reason, we write the names (of Sanoi, Sansanoi, and Semanglof) on the amulets of young children. When Lilit sees their names, she remembers her oath, and the child recovers.”
This tale from the Alphabet of Ben Sira was transcribed from the print edition published in Otzar Hamidrashim vol. 1, (I. D. Eisenstein, New York: Eisenstein Press, 5675/1915, p.46-47). The English translation here was adapted from the English translation of Norman Bronznick, revised by David Stern and Mark Jay Mirksky in Rabbinic Fantasies: Imaginative Narratives from Classical Hebrew Literature (ed. David Stern & Mark Jay Mirksky).
|1||There are variant spellings of these names. Amulets providing the names and images of these angels were customarily placed on the walls of rooms in which newborns slept to protect to protect them from demonic harm. See Jacob Reifman, Ha-Karmel, 2:125.|
|2||Note the play on words פרח (flew) and ברח (fled).|
|3||We may presume why Lilit has no power over a male baby past the eighth day, since on this day the child undergoes the rite of circumcision. However, it is not clear why Lilit’s power ends on the twentieth day after the birth of a female.|
|4||Cf. Numbers Rabbah 16:25. Lilit’s destructive nature endangers her own offspring.|
“מה אלו | “Who are these?” — the Origin of the Angels of Healing: Sanoi, Sansanoi, and Semanglof, as told in the Alphabet of ben Sira (ca. late first millennium)” is shared by the living contributor(s) with a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International copyleft license.