Is there any mention in Jewish scripture of demons being capable of eating human beings? I am asking this question because it is found in other religions.

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    Why do you think there would be? Have you encountered this idea somewhere in (or attributed to) Judaism? If so, please edit that into your question. Thanks. Also, if you haven't seen it yet, you might want to check out our short tour -- it explains how the site works and what we're looking for here. – Monica Cellio May 17 '16 at 4:00
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    sefaria.org/Gittin.68a where ashamadai swallows Shlomo – ray May 17 '16 at 5:38
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    I think the real question is, can people (specifically, Jews that keep kosher) eat demons? That's a Jewish question, @MonicaCellio – הנער הזה May 17 '16 at 8:18
  • It would seem from the meforshim that the "men"-angels that came to avrohom only pretended to eat that the supernatural doesn't eat – user613 May 18 '16 at 13:59

Demons in Judaism are seen as spiritual forces - as such they cannot eat human beings. I did not find any reference to demons eating human beings anywhere in traditional sources.

R Louis Jacobs writes in The Jewish Religion: A Companion (see here)

Demons are supernatural, malevolent beings with the power to cause hurt to humans. Belief in demons, though not very pronounced in Jewish life and thought, is still prevalent, in a semi-comical way, at the level of folklore. Even some of the learned feel compelled to accept, perhaps not too seriously, belief in demons because this belief is implied in the Talmud in many places.


Some of the medieval thinkers accepted the belief in demons. Others rejected the belief as contrary to the doctrine of divine providence. Why should God have surrendered His control of the universe, on some occasions, into the power of such creatures?

Abraham Ibn Ezra rejects entirely the notion that demons really exist. Maimonides either ignores the talmudic references to demons or gives these a rationalistic explanation; as, for example, when he understands the mishnaic reference to an ‘evil spirit’ against which a light can be put out even on the Sabbath, to mean a spirit of melancholy.

Menahem Meiri generally follows a similar demythologizing tendency when he understands the talmudic reference to warding off the demons by reciting the Shema before retiring as meaning that evil thoughts invade the mind at bedtime and these can successfully be dispelled through the recitation of the Shema.


Belief in demons is thus generally present but very peripheral in the Jewish scheme. No representative thinker, for instance, ever thought of dubbing Ibn Ezra a heretic because he refused to believe in demons. Needless to say, sophisticated Jewish thinkers who did believe in the existence of demons did not think of these as little devils with forked tails breathing fire but as spiritual forces which God has unleashed in the world for purposes of His own, or as harmful psychological processes which take place in the human mind.

This being said there is a statement in the Talmud (Chagiga 16a) stating that demons have three characteristics in common with people

They eat and drink like humans, they are fruitful and multiply [ie. they have children] like humans, and they die like humans.

but it is not further developed and there is no example of a demon eating people anywhere in the Talmud.

Finally see this related question on MiYodeya and complete overview taken from Encyclopedia Judaica.

  • sefaria.org/Gittin.68a have you seen this where Ashmadai swallows Shlomo – ray May 17 '16 at 11:01
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    @ray I saw it (now :->) on 68b but it is not clear this is litteral, Mesoras Hashas says he swallowed Solomon's ring - need to study this some more – mbloch May 17 '16 at 12:23
  • I have one in my house. constantly breaking stuff. 2 of my kids saw it. no joke – ray May 17 '16 at 18:24
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    @ray did he eat anyone yet? – mbloch May 17 '16 at 18:25

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