Demons Afflict The Idolaters and Israelites who turn from the requirements of the Covenant – Book of Jubilees


Angels and demons as explanation of ongoing evil after the flood
Jubilees, like contemporary apocalypses, addresses the issue of angels
and demons and their influence on earthly life during the period between
the flood and the eschaton. Jubilees’ position on the issue, however, differs
significantly. The difference is not whether God’s sovereignty and justice
will ultimately be vindicated, whether demonic forces exist and sometimes
explain incidents of supernatural opposition in biblical history, or whether
individual humans can be culpable for their own sins. The difference is
whether the present age has been given over to supernatural powers who
temporarily mediate or oppose God’s sovereignty over the Jewish people.
One typically finds in apocalypses counter-divine forces such as demons,
beasts, or disloyal angelic princes exercising injustice against Israel. For the
author of Jubilees, however, angels and demons have no continuing control
over Israel under the covenant. Following scripture such as Psalms 96 and
106, Jubilees presents demons as an explanation for whatever power might
be perceived in foreign religion. Jubilees also uses demons (and their
prince, Mastema) as an explanation for supernatural events in biblical
history that do not fit with God’s benevolence toward Israel (even if
scripture attributed the un-benevolent action to God). In each case,
however, the heavenly accuser was put to shame. If demons have not been
permanently defeated, it is only because some Jews continue to turn from
God’s direct governance and the covenant. Demons persist as a threat to the

children of Abraham, but a threat that is easily prevented and defeated with
Torah study. This section will proceed by elaborating three of Jubilees’
“answers” to apocalyptic issues: the reduction of and immunity from
demons; the lack of angelic mediation of God’s rule over Israel; and
The reduction of and immunity from demons
In the postdiluvian period it becomes important to distinguish demons
from bad angels. Jubilees and the Book of the Watchers agree in identifying
the demons as the spirits of the giants who perished before the flood. After
the fallen watchers are bound and the giants killed, the demons continue to
be a source of evil after the flood. The similarities end there. For 1 Enoch
(elaborated particularly in 15:8-16:1), the demons continue to be an
undiminished source of evil until the final judgment, which certainly has
not happened yet. Jubilees no sooner introduces the demons than
diminishes their number and relevance. The only continuing significance
for demons is as an explanation of foreign religion and an advertisement for
the covenant that keeps demons away. The demons are a source of evil only
for idolaters. Jubilees establishes this through four innovations: the new
and righteous nature has already been given; 90% of the demons have
already been destroyed; the remaining 10% have no authority over those
who study the revealed books; and Israel (alone) receives the means for
atonement should they temporarily fail to study the books. Each of these
points warrants further explanation

The first point concerns not the demons per se but whether humanity
itself remains corrupted and therefore susceptible to demonic influence as a
result of antediluvian sin. While the apocalyptic worldview tends to look to
the future for the elimination of such an “original sin” and the creation of a
“new and righteous nature for all,” Jubilees asserts that it has already
happened (5:12). Second, Jubilees is the only apocalypse to assert a ninetypercent
discount on demons after the flood (10:9). Although we must treat
further the ten-percent that are left and Mastema, Jubilees clearly
emphasizes the diminishment of demons and their relevance. We will leave
for the conclusion the question of why the author of Jubilees introduces the
existence and origin of demons if only to relegate them to the distant past
and write them out of contemporary significance. Third, what few demons
are left can be easily repelled by studying the books revealed to Noah,
“Noah wrote down in a book everything (just) as we had taught him
regarding all the kinds of medicine, and the evil spirits were precluded from
pursuing Noah’s children” (10:13). Unfortunately, photocopiers had not yet
been invented, so only Shem received a copy of the books. The books to be
studied are a type for Torat Moshe in the extended sense, if not an exact
equivalent. As Helge Kvanvig has emphasized, the Sinai revelation and
covenant is really a renewal of the revelation and covenant that goes back
past Noah (Jub 6:18-19; 14:20).21
The ten percent of demons remaining function to explain whatever dark
power might be perceived in foreign religion, and warn the children of the
covenant of the effects of abandoning the covenant. The existence of
demons and their identification with idols (Jubilees 1:11, 11:4, etc.) is not a
uniquely apocalyptic idea, but is found also, for example, in the ancient
versions of Psalms 96:5 and 106:35.22 Finally, even if Israel does stray, the
demonic relevance can be easily shaken off (for Israel) by repentance and
the day of atonement (5:17-18). The fact that demons are apportioned to
some but not all of Noah’s children explains why Jubilees does not address
the origin of the demons from the slain giants in the narrative sequence
before the flood, but only after the flood and the apportionment of lots to
Noah’s descendents (10:1). The position that demons affect other nations
but not Israel brings us to the next issue, angelic rule over nations and its
significance for human history


The Subversion of the Apocalypses in the Book of Jubilees (Early Judaism and Its Literature)

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