Haaretz article on the Jewish occult

A newly discovered piece of stained, wrinkled paper conjures up the details of a Jewish exorcism that appears to have been performed sometime in the 18th or 19th century.

The ghostly document details the prayers that were performed on Qamar bat Rahmah to try to rid her of the spirit of her dead husband, Nissim ben Bonia. According to the handwritten but well-preserved Hebrew text, the rabbis asked the ghost to “leave this woman, Qamar bat Rahmah, [and forgo] all authority and control that it has over her; and Nissim ben Bonia shall have no more authority and control whatsoever over Qamar bat Rahmah in any form or manner at all.:

The 150-word text provides a haunting insight into the often forgotten world of the Jewish occult. While exorcisms are frequently described in Jewish texts from the Middle Ages on, this appears to be the first text that provides the prayer used in a specific exorcism.

“It has names, and you can kind of speculate as to some sort of story lurking behind the names,” said Yossi Chajes, an expert on Jewish magic and mysticism at the University of Haifa who was not involved in the unearthing of the text. “It’s an unusual document.”

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