Why are the Shedim described as being mortal? It's said that they reproduce and die like regular humans. Is there a reason behind this? Were they supposed to be in-between humans and angels?

"In three ways they are like ministering angels: They have wings like ministering angels; and they fly from one end of the world to the other like ministering angels; and they know what will be in the future like ministering angels. And in three ways they are similar to humans: They eat and drink like humans; they multiply like humans; and they die like humans."

--Babylonian Talmud Hagigah 16a

  • See: sefaria.org/…
    – Shmuel
    Nov 6, 2022 at 0:58
  • Whatever they are, that is how G-d intended them to be, as with the rest of creation.
    – N.T.
    Nov 7, 2022 at 0:55

2 Answers 2


The Ramban, Nachmanides, in his commentary on Leviticus 17:7 writes:

Now the cause of death generally is the separation [decomposition] of the components of the body, this being true of all kinds of bodies [whether they are composed of the four elements like humans or of only two, like sheidim].

This explanation is part of his greater comment on this verse:

Now Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra has indeed hinted at the truth concerning the word “more,” as I have written above.169 The name se’irim will also be made clear to you there. They are also called sheidim [“demons,” as Rashi interpreted here — a word which is connected with shodad, meaning “devastate, despoil, ruin”], because they dwell in “devastated” places, such as the desert, and their principal habitat is in the far corners [of the earth], such as the northern extremity of the earth which is wasteland on account of the cold climate. Know that just as the formation at the original Creation of man’s body as well as that of all living creatures, vegetation and minerals, was from the four elements,170 which were combined by Divine power to form material bodies which as a result of their thickness and coarseness could be perceived by the five senses,171 even so there was a creation from only two elements, fire and air, resulting in a body which cannot be felt, nor perceived by any of the [five] senses, just as the soul of an animal cannot be perceived by human senses because of its delicacy. The body [of these creatures of two elements] is of a spiritual nature; on account of its delicacy and lightness it can fly through fire and air. And just as the combination of the four elements in any object is the cause of its existence and its destruction [since everything that is composite must ultimately revert to its original components],172 so is it with these beings created from a combination of only two elements; when the elements combine, the creature lives, and when they separate [decompose], it is like the dead.

The Rabbeinu Bahya, in his commentary on Leviticus 17:7 similary writes:

Concerning the “death” of these demons which the Talmud speaks of and compares to the death of human beings, what they mean is simply that parts (elements) which are fused into living tissue combining all these elements disintegrate after death. The parts making up the creature known as demon similarly disintegrates at some point. When it does this is called the “death” of the demon.

So, according to the Rabbeinu Bahya, the Talmudic explanation of "and they die like humans" simply means just as a human being consists of elements, so too does the shedim and the elements can disintegrates.

See also Sforno on Exodus 34:23.

  • Oh that explains the mortality part, but does it also explain why they reproduce?
    – Orionixe
    Nov 8, 2022 at 3:43

שלש אלו שדים שברא הקב"ה את נשמתן ובא לבראות גופן וקדש שבת ולא בראן ללמדך דרך ארץ מן התורה שאם יהיה ביד אדם חפץ טוב או מרגלית טובה ערב שבת עם חשכה אומרים לו השלך מידך שמי שאמר והיה העולם היה עוסק בברייתו של עולם וברא נשמתן של שדים וקידש השבת ולא ברא גופן:


It says in the yalkut Shimoni, i think I've seen it in midrash rabba as well. The Bartenura brings this idea as well in Avos where it says Hashem created mazikim at bein hashmashos. That hashem started creating sheidim, but before he finished making their bodies, Shabbos came so he stopped making them half way. In order to teach us to stop working as soon as shabbos comes.

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