æshm, Aæshm the Zoroastrian arch-demon of “wrath” and Ashmedai the King of the Jewish demons

æshm or more accurately Aæshm is the arch-demon of “rage,” “violent frenzy” and “anguish” in Zoroastrianism. Aæshm comes from the Proto Indo European root æis/eis-denoting “violent motion,” “frenzied passion,” rage.”

Lithuanian aistra “violent passion” “rage,” Gothic airzeis, airzissa “unruly,” “wild,” “stray” all come from the same root and are cognates. I should add that in old Aryan speech and Avestan “sh” and “r” are freely interchangeable.

Eris, the Greek goddess of discord, strife, and lawlessness comes from the same ancient root. In Greek mythology Eρις, “Strife” is the opposite of Harmonia, Concordia. In Zoroastrian lore, Aæshm also appears as the opposite of sraösh “melody,” “music,” “song.”

The most famous tale of Eris the Goddess of Discord/Turmoil recounts her initiating the Trojan War. Also, Erinyes, is the collective name for the avenging Greek deities sent from Tartarus to cause criminals anguish.

In the poetic gathas Aæshm appears in the following verses;

In Yasna 29.1, 2nd rhymed verse line; the spirit of gaia and the animal life grieves at how Aæshmö “rage” “agony” has assailed the world of the living.

In Yasna 29.2, 3rd rhymed verse line; we are told about the quest for “a person of godly powers/ spirit” that would strike at Aæshmem “wrath” “discord” of “the double dealing liar.”

In Yasna 30.6, 3rd rhymed verse line; we are told about the daævás “demonic forces” and how they wildly rushed into Aæshmem “rage” “violent frenzy,” thereby ailing the mortal existence.

In Yasna 44.20, 3rd rhymed verse line; we are told about how those “deaf and blind in the matters of adorable godly virtues” and “elders with an impotent desire;” have delivered animal life into Aæshmái “rage” “anguish” “atrocity” (through bloody sacrifices.)

In Yasna 48.7, 1st rhymed verse line; we are told about striking down Aæshmö the “rage” of the envious.

In Yasna 48.12, 4th rhymed verse line; we are told about how “excellence in action”  “learning and vision” combats/blows a beating against Aæshmahyá “frenzy,” “delirium,” “rage.”

In Yasna 49.4, 1st rhymed verse line; we are told about how “those of frustrated and impotent will/conscious energy” accrue Aæshmem “rage” and envy.

While The Asmodeus of the Apocrypha or Gnostic writings, and Æshma of the Zoroastrian lore, seem to be share many similar attributes. Yet interestingly the Zoroastrian arch-demon Aæshm takes a whole new identity in Jewish mystic literature.

Hebrew Ashmedai was borrowed from the Persian/Zoroastrian arch demon æshm, Aæshm. But, the (Hebrew: אשמדאי‎ Ashmedai) is no longer the dreaded arch-fiend of Zoroastrianism; but the king of the Jewish demons (Pes. 110 a.) An aggadic narrative describes him as the king of all the demons (Pesachim109b–112a).

In the Zohar, Ashmedai is represented as the teacher of Solomon, to whom he gave a book of extraordinary knowledge (Zohar Lev. pp. 19a, 43a; ib. Num. 199b, ed.)Ashmedai is also mentioned in Talmudic legends, in the story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon.

According to the Zohar, at the end of the sixth day of Creation, Gd went about making creatures which were to be angel-like. He has given them their intelligence and power, but ran out of time before the Sabbath, and so the demons had no bodies, nor were they ever completed. These demons were His creations, however, because of their unfinished state, they became resentful and jealous of humankind.

Ashmedai’s demons are subject to Gd, and are considered to be Jewish and found in His service to punish the impious or evil. For example, those who commit sins or break purity laws may be subject to their violent attacks. There is a demon who punishes those who mistreat holy books. In this capacity the Jewish demons remind us of Greek Erinyes, the collective name for the avenging deities sent from Tartarus to inflict suffering upon criminals.

According to Zohar; many Jewish demons study Torah, and will not harm a human Torah scholar. Ashmedai himself is said to ascend to Heaven to study the Torah.

In Jewish tales Ashmedai is object of popular humor and irony and seems to have a sense of humor with a mean streak.

The whole point about the above comparison is to demonstrate that many concepts such as the eternal renewal of the worlds, superb virtues/godly powers known as angels, future saviors, heaven and hell or states of consciousness, ……all have their origin in the poetic gathas of the Prophet Zarathushtra. However, when such original gathic concepts were later adopted into the Judeo-Christian tradition they often took a whole different meaning.

It is the pseudo-intellectual trend among many Zoroastrians of today, to deny that such ideas even came from Zarathushtra himself. Thus, the poetic gathas are grossly and intentionally twisted. Objective and unbiased study of the gathas and other authentic Zoroastrian sources is egregiously abandoned. Instead, a fabricated cult of pseudo-science and self worship labeled erroneously as “gathas our guide” is adopted.”


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3 Responses to æshm, Aæshm the Zoroastrian arch-demon of “wrath” and Ashmedai the King of the Jewish demons

  1. Rich says:

    Thank you very much for the whole study, especially for your last paragraph. This is enriching and I hope all those pseudo intellectuals will soon see the truth, and the Beauty Excellence and Wonders of the Gathas.

  2. Ross Coyle says:

    Very well bridged with the reference to Eris! excellent.

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