The Sword of Moses

The Sword of Moses is the title of an apocryphal Jewish book of magic edited by Moses Gaster in Palestine, in 1896 from a 13th or 14th century manuscript from his own collection, formerly MS Gaster 78, now London, British Library MS Or. 10678. Gaster assumed that the text predates the 11th century, based on a letter by Rav Hai Gaon (939-1038) which mentions the book alongside the Sefer ha-Yashar, described as another book of formulas, and that it may even date to as early as the first four centuries CE. Besides the medieval manuscript used by Gaster, a short fragment of the text survives in Cod. Oxford 1531.

The largest manuscript of the Sword of Moses begins with a description of the heavenly realms and angels, and soon moves onto describing various prayers, invocations, and ritual procedures that the reader is to perform before he is able to use the "Sword"; this term refers to a huge list of magical names later in the text, divided into 136 sections, each with a different magical use.

Translator M. Caster, Editor John Cummings.

March 2021

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