This excerpt is from the Book of Jubilees, a second-century BCE Jewish work. Though this book was never considered canonical, some have called it “Little Genesis” because it retells many of the stories from Genesis, including interpretive commentary and additional details. The value of Jubilees is the insight into the ancient traditions the book preserves, giving us a window into certain Jewish beliefs before the New Testament was written. The following passage, which describes Noah interceding for his children, is remarkable because it contains several terms related to the unseen spiritual realm. In this single text, the author mentions demons, evil spirits, the watchers, the chief of spirits called Mastema, and Satan. How they are all related is unclear at times, but this extraordinary passage shows how ancient Jews perceived the world beyond our own earthly realm. 

1 In the third week of that jubilee the polluted demons began to lead astray the children of Noah’s sons and to lead them to folly and to destroy them. 2 And the sons of Noah came to Noah, their father, and they told him about the demons who were leading astray and blinding and killing his grandchildren. 3 And he prayed before the LORD his God and he said, “God of the spirits which are in all flesh, who has acted mercifully with me and saved me and my sons from the water of the Flood and did not let me perish as you did the children of perdition, because Great was your grace upon me, and great was your mercy upon my soul. Let your grace be lifted up upon my sons, and do not let the evil spirits rule over them, lest they destroy them from the earth. But bless me and my sons. And let us grow and increase and fill the earth. 5 And you know that which your Watchers (עִירִין; irin / Greek: ἐγρήγοροι; egregoroi), the fathers of these spirits, did in my days and also these spirits who are alive. Shut them up and take them to the place of judgment. And do not let them cause corruption among the sons of your servant, O my God, because they are cruel and were created to destroy. 6 And let them not rule over the spirits of the living because you alone know their judgment, and do not let them have power over the children of the righteous henceforth and forever.

7 And the LORD our God spoke to us so that we might bind all of them. 8 And the chief of the spirits, Mastema (מַשְׂטֵמָה, mastemah, Hebrew for “hostility” or “persecution”), came and he said, “O Lord, Creator, leave some of them before me, and let them obey my voice. And let them do everything which I tell them, because if some of them are not left for me, I will not be able to exercise the authority of my will among the children of men because they are (intended) to corrupt and lead astray before my judgment because the evil of the sons of men is great.” 9 And he said, “Let a tenth of them remain before him, but let nine parts go down into the place of judgment.”

10 And he told one of us to teach Noah all of their healing because he knew that they would not walk uprightly and would not strive righteously. 11 And we acted in accord with all of his words. All of the evil ones, who were cruel, we bound in the place of judgment, but a tenth of them we let remain so that they might be subject to Satan (שָּׂטָן, satan: Hebrew for “accuser” or “adversary” / Greek: διάβολος; diabolos) upon the earth. 12 And the healing of all their illnesses together with their seductions we told Noah so that he might heal by means of herbs of the earth. 13 And Noah wrote everything in a book just as we taught him according to every kind of healing. And the evil spirits were restrained from following the sons of Noah. 14 And he gave everything which he wrote to Shem, his oldest son, because he loved him much more than all of his sons. (Jubilees 10:1-14, c. 2nd century BCE, Charlesworth translation)

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

83 COMMENTS

  1. Prof Shir. Hello, do you think during these wreckless, wild, do you own thing, these evil spirits are actively working on the dark minds of the unregenerated person? For the born-again, renewed person, a follower of Christ it comes down to spiritual warfare as descripted in Ephesians 6. (It seems things have not changed that much during and after Noah´s time)
    • I think that those who walk with God are in his hands. The father always protects his children. And each of us in the end should look to Hashem and call out to him for protection when we feel in danger.
    • We are very happy that you’ve joined our discussion forum. Would you believe that these articles are only a taste of what Israel Bible Center has to offer? We also provide comprehensive teaching on a variety of biblical, historical, and cultural topics. You might begin with The Stories of Jewish Christ: Among the Rabbis or . You’ll be amazed at the Jewish world that awaits you. Don’t delay another minute: enroll now!
  2. Thank you my 1st time to learn of Noah"s prayer.
    Do we have the healing book Noah wrote using the herbs ? Iam very much eager to know and learn about the herbs he used for healing .
  3. Thank you Pastor, It's ocean of knowledge / wisdom you are spreading to us. I found in India ( Southern Asia) Muslims religion is using thats power of evils spirit for keeping their authority , they called it 'JIN' .... don't know if it is matched with Noah Thank
  4. Excellent and thanks Dr. Shir. At times, I wonder how are we to pray in regards to ourselves when we are facing things and they of course, seem to be from demons. Christ defeated the enemy, but yet what are we to pray? How, may be a better question?
  5. Biblical History , archeological Histoory , evidence, is quite important and gladdens my heart. But is not as important than faith and my belief born of experience at 74 yrs but it is refreshing and gladdens the heart , many thanks for all you do.
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