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Burn the Witch! A Comparison Between the Portrayal of Sorceress Babylon in Isaiah 47 and the Figure of the Witch in Maqlû

Damsma, A; (2021) Burn the Witch! A Comparison Between the Portrayal of Sorceress Babylon in Isaiah 47 and the Figure of the Witch in Maqlû. Vetus Testamentum 10.1163/15685330-bja10063. (In press). Green open access

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Abstract

In chapter 47 of the Book of Isaiah the fall of Babylon is described in metaphorical language: the arrogant queen Babylon is condemned for having practiced witchcraft since her youth. The evil which she inflicted on her victims will befall herself, and her downfall will be swift and without warning. Her dire fate follows that of her fellow sorcerers, who have perished in fire and flames. This article compares the portrayal of Babylon and her demise in Isa 47 with the Mesopotamian anti-witchcraft series Maqlû and discusses the shared terminology and the striking similarity of themes, such as the indictment of the witch, the gender-stereotype, the reversal of fate, and the condemnation to death by burning. The thematic, and sometimes lexical, overlap may indicate that Deutero-Isaiah incorporated Mesopotamian ideas about (counter-)witchcraft in his own composition, being exposed to local magico-religious thought whilst maintaining a critical stance towards it.

Type: Article
Title: Burn the Witch! A Comparison Between the Portrayal of Sorceress Babylon in Isaiah 47 and the Figure of the Witch in Maqlû
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1163/15685330-bja10063
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685330-bja10063
Language: English
Additional information: © Alinda Damsma, 2021. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC BY 4.0 license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: Book of Isaiah, Mesopotamia, witchcraft, Magic, Maqlu, Necromancy, Babylon
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Hebrew and Jewish Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10136938
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