A to Z of Biblical Demons

You ‘ve heard of bible accurate angels, but what about Bible-accurate demons? You’ll be familiar with them from pop culture, but demons in the Bible – that’s a murky subject. For example. Where does Satan really come from? Who came before him?

Welcome to the realm of evil spirits, fallen angels, and ancient gods. Where the boundaries of good and evil are not as clear cut as you d expect. This is… an A to Z of biblical demons. I suppose I ought to get something clear. What even is a demon?

In its broadest sense, a demon is an evil spirit. A supernatural being that’s up to no good. Demons appear across all world religions in one way or another, but the demons we’ll be exploring are from the Bible. The sacred text plays a key role in Christianity, and to some extent, Judaism and Islam.

The Bible is made up of two halves: the Old Testament, ancient Jewish writings about the history of Israel; and the New Testament, early Christian texts about the life of Jesus. Now, not every letter has a suitable demonic counterpart. So sometimes, I’ll have to get

Creative with the term “biblical”. From books that didn’t make it into the Bible, known as the Apocrypha; to the wider world of demonology inspired by these religious texts. But enough caveating and demon-splaining. It’s time to learn our ABCs. Starting with A for Asmodeus

Asmodeus is from the Book of Tobit. It’s a strange story, not included in all versions of the Bible. In one tale, Asmodeus falls in love with a woman called Sarah. But Sarah is already betrothed. In a fit of jealous rage, Asmodeus slays the groom and repeats this every time Sarah remarries.

Seven times no less! Asmodeus is eventually banished with an unusual spell. The heart and liver of a fish are placed onto a bed of burning hot embers. The smoke it produces smells so bad that the demon flees to the deserts of Egypt. Sarah moves on to her eighth husband and lives happily ever

After. B is for Belial Belial never chose the demon life, the demon life chose him. The word “beliya’al” appears throughout the Old Testament, but not as the name of a demon, but instead as the Hebrew word for “wickedness”.

But over time, people began to read this word as a name. It’s not clear why exactly, but beliya’al became Belial and *poof* a demon was born. This newly created demon appears throughout the Dead Sea Scrolls, a group of Jewish writings found in pots beside the Dead Sea.

In the amazingly named War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness, Belial commands a vast legion of evil. It’s real Lord of the Rings stuff, shame it never got included in the Bible. This version of Belial offers the blueprint for Satan from the New Testament. More on that demon later.

From a Hebrew word that meant “wickedness”, to the demonic embodiment of wickedness itself, Belial has a surprising origin story. C is for Chemosh One person s deity is another person s demon. Chemosh appears in the Old Testament and was the chief god of the Moabites.

Now, a core biblical belief is that there is only one God, the God of Israel. So having another god in the picture simply won’t do. Chemosh became the victim of a biblical smear campaign. His worst crime: an apparent appetite for human sacrifice. Especially children.

Outside the Bible, Chemosh is far less bloodthirsty. He appears on this, the Mesha Stele, a carved stone dating to 840 BC. It was made by King Mesha of Moab to honour Chemosh. The god kindly gave them victory against their rivals, including Israel. This rock was a way of saying thanks.

D is for Dagon Dagon is another pagan God from the Old Testament. He was the god of wealth and prosperity and for some reason was depicted as a mermaid. A reference to lost treasure maybe? I say this as Dagon appears in an episode featuring the Ark of the Covenant, a golden

Box that supposedly housed the Ten Commandments. In the story, the ark is stolen by the Philistines and is placed at an altar to Dagon. Being the biblical superweapon that it is, the Ark destroys the statue and causes a deadly plague. It was returned shortly after E is for Exorcism

Mixing it up now, a key part of studying demons is learning how to get rid of them. A process known as exorcism. In the New Testament, many of Jesus’ miracles are exorcisms. In one story, Jesus encounters a man living in a cave. Inside him are not one, but several

Demons. When asked their name, they respond: “Legion for we are many”. Realising they are about to be forcibly ejected from their host, the demons persuade Jesus not to be destroyed. Jesus kindly agrees to transfer them into a nearby herd of pigs, which then run off a nearby cliff to their death.

This story establishes a quirky tradition in modern-day exorcism: asking a demon its name. Apparently being on a first-name basis helps banish them F is for Fallen Angel Another key word in demonology, a fallen angel is a good spirit that has been corrupted.

The idea of the fallen angel doesn’t really appear in the Bible but is common in those apocryphal books. Like the Book of Enoch. It s about a group of angels called “The Watchers” who visit earth one day. Things take a turn when they start falling in love with human women who

Then give birth to a monstrous race of giants called “Nephilim”. It s another great story that’s apparently too spicy for the Bible. The myth of the fallen angel really influenced Christian writers and works of fiction like Paradise Lost. It gave rise to the figure of Lucifer, God s right-hand angel who went rogue.

G is for Grimoire A Grimoire is an occult textbook. Full of magical spells, dark incantations and of course demons. One of the most famous is The Lesser Key of Solomon, a comprehensive compendium of demons. It s a staple of demonology today as it contains advice on how to summon them.

Like Gaap, a prince of Hell who is the patron demon of philosophy. Conjure Gaap to get help with learning the difference between Plato and Aristotle. Grimoires are not biblical per se, but many demons that appear in them do stem from the

Bible. Like the demon Belial from before, he is described as having a “comely voice”. H is for Hades You may have heard of Hades from Greek mythology, but it appears in Biblical mythology too. In the New Testament, Hades is the underworld a realm of fire and brimstone, demons and sinners.

When our spirits are not on the surface world harassing human women or leading legions of darkness, they’re in Hades. Blowing off some steam. It s very different to the Old Testament’s version of the underworld by the way, a gloomy chasm called Sheol.

All souls go here, regardless of whether you’ve been good or bad. I is for Ipos Finding a biblical demon with the letter “I” is a challenge. But I’ve settled on Ipos. Ipos is a little strange looking: it has the head of a goose, the body of a lion and the

Feet of a chicken. You can find him in The Lesser Key of Solomon, a demonic grimoire According to his entry, Ipos is one of the sixteen dukes of Hell, and has this rather splendid seal. He knows all things, past, present and future J is for Jezebel

J is another difficult letter for biblical demons, especially as this letter doesn’t technically exist in either language the Bible was written in, Hebrew or Greek. Jezebel is a character from the Old Testament, the wicked wife of King Ahab. She isn’t a

Demon, but there is a demon in her name: Ba al, the Lord of the Underworld. The name Jezebel is from the Hebrew phrase “ezeh Ba’al” or “where is Ba’al?”. A prayer used at ancient funerals to encourage Ba al to claim the souls of the deceased.

This demonic name might explain why Jezebel is a villain in the biblical story. For her various crimes, including Ba al worship, she gets defenestrated (aka thrown out of a window). Jezebel may not be a demon, but if there s an opportunity to talk about Levantine Death gods, I’ll take it.

K is for Kokkabiel Kokkabiel is one of our fallen angels from the book of Enoch. This angel is responsible for corrupting humans with the dark art of stargazing. Kokkabiel teaches the people astronomy. Apparently, that s a bad thing? Maybe it s because the

Sky was seen as the realm of God and shouldn’t be the subject of scientific study. Kokkabiel later appears in the Kabbalah, a series of Jewish mystical texts. But now he s a good guy: his knowledge of celestial bodies is regarded as a worthy thing to teach. Which is it Kokkabiel? Angel or demon?

L is for Lilith The demoness Lilith is perhaps the oldest one on this list. She appears in the Old Testament s Book of Isaiah, lurking in a ruined town. Lilith is surrounded by creatures of the desert: jackals, owls and goats.

But she goes back way further than this, to a Mesopotamian demoness called Lilitu a shadowy being who prowls the night. References to her reach back to the Epic of Gilgamesh the world’s first written story. Lilith s name also appears in old pottery. This is an incantation bowls: along the side

Are prayers to be read aloud, prayers that trap demons. In the centre is a figure who has been ensnared by the bowl. Many believe that this is Lilith. M is for Mastema We’re mid-way through the alphabet, and what better way to celebrate this milestone than with Mastema: the demon of persecution.

Mastema is from the Book of Jubilees. Again, another apocryphal book. Those banned biblical texts certainly contain the juiciest demonic lore. His job is to punish people. But strangely, Mastema gets his orders from God. Whether that be sending plagues to wreak havoc, to torturing folk who may or may not deserve

It. He’s kind of like a divine hitman. Mastema blurs the line between angel and demon. And what does this say about God? He not only allows demons to exist but actively uses them to carry out his punishments. Maybe demons aren’t so evil after all N is for Nephilim

The Nephilim are a race of demonic giants. In the Old Testament’s Book of Numbers, they are so big that people look like grasshoppers in comparison. The Nephilim also appear in the Apocrypha. Enter our old friend the Book of Enoch, which explores how they came to be.

In the story, the Nephilim are the cursed offspring of fallen angels and humans and go about causing trouble on Earth. At 450 ft tall they become a very big problem, so God decides to wipe them out with a big flood.

Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. The Nephilim are an enigmatic bunch for sure, and not much else is known about them O is for Ornias Ornias is a demon from one of the oldest grimoires in existence, The Testament of Solomon. Despite

The name, it was not written by the biblical King Solomon. It s a bizarre book, especially as it’s about how Solomon was a secret demon slayer. His first assignment is to deal with Ornias. He s been harassing a man by stealing his

Money and draining his life energy, classic demon stuff. Solomon traps Ornias by sealing him in a magical ring. Then he goes around collecting more demons. It’s a biblical precursor to the Ghostbusters franchise. None of King Solomon’s demon-busting exploits are in the Bible by the way. This story is

Biblical fan fiction at its finest. P is for pseudo-Christos We’re back in the New Testament to talk lies, deceit and false messiahs. That s what “Pseudo-Christos” in Greek: false messiah. You don’t have to be a biblical historian to know that Christians believe in one messiah: Jesus.

But there are others who claim to be divine, others that will deceive unwary followers. There are hard to spot, like a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”. One of these false messiahs is quite literally that. In the apocalyptic Book of Revelation,

The Antichrist takes the form of a little sheep monster, just with a few more horns. His job it is to hail the arrival of The Beast and get everyone to believe that somehow this creature isn’t evil. Q is for Qeteb We’re back in the Old Testament with Qeteb. The demon of disease.

Or maybe not. Depends on how you translate Qeteb. He appears in the Book of Psalms, alongside his brother, Deber. The poem encourages readers not to fear these demons. Whether that be: “Deber that stalks in the darkness or Qeteb that destroys at midday”.

But in Hebrew, the word Qeteb also means plague; and Deber, means pestilence. So it could also be translated as: You shall not fear: “pestilence that stalks in the darkness, or plague that destroys at midday”. Instead of demons, what if the poem is about disease? What if this is a case of personification,

Where the idea of plague is given demon-like behaviour for creative flourish. R is for Ruach Elohim Ra-ah Speaking of language, this next demon I’ve highlighted is the Hebrew phrase, Ruach Elohim Ra-ah. Which translates to: “an evil spirit of God”.

As we saw with Mastema, when God wants to punish someone, he sends a demon to haunt them. In the Old Testament, this happens too. In one story, an “evil spirit of God” is sent to torment King Saul, driving him to madness.

This has stumped people for a while. Is God responsible for evil? After all, he gets demons to do his dirty work It s an uncomfortable thought, we like to imagine God as all peace and love. But in early biblical texts, God is more morally questionable.

As time went on, people didn’t quite like the idea of a vengeful God. By the New Testament, people placed evil upon another figure S is for Satan Here we are. The big one. The demon of demons. Satan. In Christianity, Satan is the arch-prince of evil. From tempting Jesus in the desert

To a red multi-headed dragon, for the past two thousand years, Satan has been evil incarnate. Early Christian thinkers believed that the snake in the garden of Eden story was Satan himself. If so, all human suffering can be traced to him.

Before Christianity however, Satan was a little less well-defined. In the Old Testament Book of Job, there is a mysterious character known as “The Satan” literally meaning “the adversary”, who challenges God s judgement. A literal devil s advocate.

But The Satan doesn’t seem to be a bad guy, he s just one of the angels. Originally, the word satan didn”t exclusively apply to angels and demons. It’s common for people be called satans, even countries get called satans. Everyone s a satan!

It seems like the classic picture of the devil hadn’t yet evolved by this point. Satan grew into his horns by New Testament. T is for Titivillus Over our journey into biblical demons, they seem to spring out of spelling mistakes and mistranslations. But who is behind those errors?

Introducing Titivillus, aka The Printer’s Devil. The patron demon of typos. His speciality: biblical errors. Imagine if you had to write out the King James Bible by hand, that s 783,137 words. Mistakes are bound to creep in. In fact, they often did.

Like in 1631, when someone accidentally removed a “not” from one of the Ten Commandments: “Thou shalt not commit adultery” was changed to “Thou shalt commit adultery”. Cheating on your partner was now permitted! Of course, the demon Titivullus was blamed, not the careless hands of an overworked bookmaker. U is for Unclean Spirits

Unclean spirits is what the New Testament often calls demons. But what has hygiene got to do with it all? There seems to be an idea that demons are dirty, if they touch you, you are spiritually contaminated. This partly explains the idea of Baptism, a literal bath to wash away your sins… and

Those demons. As they say: a shower a day keeps the demons away. V is for Vampire Yes, you heard me, vampires appear in the Bible. Well, only once. There s a quote in the book of proverbs which says this “The Vampire has two daughters. Give! Give! they cry”.

This pithy saying is not about the reality of being a Vampire dad. Instead, the two daughters in question could be a reference to two thirsty fangs. “Give! Give! they cry”. It’s either that or the passage is talking about leeches. Another bloodthirsty animal with sharp teeth.

Regardless, this biblical Vampire appears in Jewish folktales. The “alukah” is a beast that takes the appearance of a human but lives entirely off blood. When threatened it will transform into a fearsome werewolf. The question is, is a vampire a demon? It depends on how far you want to stretch the

Term “evil spirit” I suppose W is for Witches First vampires. Now witches? The Bible has a bunch of rules against the practice of witchcraft and divination. Like: “Thou shalt not allow a witch to live”. These biblical rules against magic were used to support the witch trials throughout Europe

And the Americas. There was a fear that witches lived among the population, and that they were in cahoots with demons. You’d even get specialised witch hunters who’d go accusing people of sorcery, predominately older women. These hunters took the Bible’s laws very literally. The punishment for witchcraft? Death. X is for Xezbeth

Xexbeth is one of the only demons out there beginning with the letter X. Xezbeth is from the “Dictionarre Infernal” or “Hell’s Dictionary”. A little catalogue of French demons. There s not a lot of information on this one. Perhaps for the best. Xezbeth is the demon

Of lies and deceit. Whether it’s a white lie or full-blown tax fraud, Xezbeth is behind it. No one knows the origin of this demon. There is an Islamic demon called “al-Khadab”, Arabic for “the liar”. But that’s pretty much it.

Khadab, Xezbeth maybe those names are related somehow. Or maybe it s all just lies. Y is for Yamm It s time for Yamm. But not the food, the Mesopotamian god of the Sea. Yamm appears in several ancient myths about Earth’s creation.

These stories take the form of a giant battle between Yamm, his giant sea serpent pet, and a heroic god. To the Babylonians, it was Tiamat vs. Marduk. To the ancient Hebrews, it was Leviathan vs El (aka. God). Once Yamm’s sea beast is vanquished, the god creates the earth out of its body parts.

German scholars refer to these myths as the “Chaoskampf” the primordial struggle. Today, it s widely agreed that life began in the ocean. So, I can t help but feel a bit sorry for Yamm. He doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Z is for Zedek

The final letter, one that I m cursed to pronounce as “Zed” not “Zee”. We’ve spoken a lot about demons, but not about the angels appointed to deal with the ones that get out of hand. Enter Zedek or Melki-Zedek. The “Angel of Righteousness”.

His big moment is in the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness. In this epic battle at the end of time, Zedek defeats the demon Belial and his legions of evil. Truth, happiness, and love abound. And the demons are no more.

A good place to end this list. Twenty-six letters later we’ve covered biblical demonology from A to Z. It s a ragtag bunch, all from different stories and eras in time. But we can unscramble this lot, and draw out some wider themes.

You may have noticed that lots of biblical demons do not originally come from the Bible. Instead, they come from the Apocrypha: those books that didn’t quite make it into the canon. It seems that fallen angels, demonic hitmen, and giants were too scandalous for mainstream audiences.

The Bible itself has a mixed picture of demons. Take the Old Testament for example demons either take the form of ancient Gods like Chemosh, Dagon and Yamm, or “evil spirits” sent from God himself. Others like Belial, Qeteb and Satan were not originally demons, but just plain, everyday words that became names over time.

But then, fast forward to the New Testament writings, this had all changed. There’s an explosion of demons! Satan becomes a name and exorcisms are now a thing. These Christian writings were clearly inspired by those apocryphal books and their rich collection of demons.

From then onwards, demons have been a big part of Christianity and the Abrahamic faiths. Scholars of religion believe that demons offer a neat explanation for the problem of evil: if God is all good, where does evil come from? Answer: Demons.

Exploring evil spirits in the Bible and its Apocrypha reveals how these demons took root and began to grow and evolve. Nowadays, the study of demons is livelier than ever before. There is demonological content for every occasion, and enough to fill an entire alphabet.

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