Miracles And Demons

The Miracles of Jesus exposed the error of local views, e.g. of demons, without correcting them in so many words. Thus in Luke 5:21 the Jews made two false statements: that Jesus was a blasphemer, and that God alone could forgive sins. Jesus did not verbally correct them; instead he did a miracle which proved the falsity of those statements.

It was clearly the belief of Jesus that actions speak louder than words. He rarely denounced false ideas directly, thus he did not denounce the Mosaic Law as being unable to offer salvation, but he showed by his actions, e.g. healing on the Sabbath, what the Truth was. When he was wrongly accused of being a Samaritan, Jesus did not deny it (Jn. 8:48-49 cp. 4:7-9) even though his Jewishness, as the seed of Abraham, was vital for God’s plan of salvation (Jn. 4:22).

Even when the Jews drew the wrong conclusion (wilfully!) that Jesus was “making himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18), Jesus did not explicitly deny it; instead he powerfully argued that his miracles showed him to be a man acting on God’s behalf, and therefore he was not equal with God. The miracles of Jesus likewise showed the error of believing in demons. Christ’s miracle of healing the lame man at the pool was to show the folly of the Jewish myth that at Passover time an angel touched the water of the Bethesda pool, imparting healing properties to it. This myth is recorded without direct denial of its truth; the record of Christ’s miracle is the exposure of its falsehood (Jn. 5:4). And so with the myth that pilled rods caused greater fertility amongst animals- Jacob desperately used this non-scientific, pagan idea to increase his flocks, and God worked with him in it. Yes, the fertility rate increased; but it was only later that Jacob realized that those animals were what God had given him by grace (Gen. 30:31). If God had ticked him off as it were for believing old wives’ tales, the power of the lesson would have been so much the less.

The way in which God answers the claims of false religions throughout the Old Testament will enable us to understand how He responds to the belief in demons in New Testament times, and why there is no explicit statement that they do not exist. We want to place what we have observed about Christ’s attitude to the demons issue in a historical context.

The Exodus

Consider the plagues upon Egypt; each of those miracles (for that is what they were) was designed by God to expose the utter non-existence of the main Egyptian demons (idols). “Against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am Yahweh” (Ex. 12:12; 15:11; Num. 33:4). The “gods” are spoken of for a moment as real and existing, in order to show Yahweh’s total superiority over them to the point that they didn’t exist. Note how it was the Egyptian people who were judged (Gen. 15:14); their idols (“gods”) are used by metonymy to stand for those who believed in them. Likewise “demons” is sometimes put by metonymy for those who believed in them (e.g. Mk. 2:32,34).



Nile water turned to blood

HAPI – the god of the spirit of the Nile


HEKOT – the goddess of magic who had a frog’s head

“The dust of the land” turned to lice or gnats (Exodus 8:16)

SEB – god of the dust of the earth

“Swarms of beetles” ( Exodus 8:21 Hebrew)

RA and the forerunner of BEELZEBUB were likened to beetles; much pagan Egyptian jewellery features beetles.

Murrain of cattle

APIS – the sacred bull god

Boils. “Take to you handfuls of ashes of the furnace, and let Moses sprinkle it toward heaven…and it shall become…a boil” (Exodus 9:8-9)

NEIT – the queen of the heavens

Thunder and hail

SHU – god of the atmosphere


RA – the sun god


SERAIJA – protector of Egypt from locusts

Yet rarely is there an explicit denial by God of the existence of those gods. They are shown to be meaningless inventions of men by the sheer power of the miracles. The New Testament use of demon terminology to describe the miracles of Jesus is another example of this. There is no explicit denial of the existence of demons, but their non-existence is demonstrated by the miracles. It is significant that the New Testament language of demon possession only occurs in the context of the power of God being shown through His miracles of healing. And yet, as aside, it appears that Israel failed to grasp the lesson. Have you ever wondered why they chose to make a golden calf? Why not some other animal? It appears that Israel identified the golden

calf with the Egyptian goddess Hathor. " The Egyptian goddess Hathor came in the form of a cow, a woman with a cow’s head, or a woman with cows horns and / or cows ears. She bore several other titles including The Golden One and Mistress of Music. She was the patron of love, motherhood, drunkenness, fun, dance and music. The worship of Hathor degenerated into immorality and she is depicted in some scenes and statues as a sensual young woman. Hathor was the protector of travelers from Egypt to various areas including Sinai" . So Israel so quickly forgot the lesson so artlessly taught them- that the idols / demons of Egypt were of no power at all!
[The following references to Hathor provide further insight: Hathor had several forms including, a cow, a women with a cow’s head, or a woman with cows horns and or ears. Egyptian Temples, M.A. Murray, P. 53-54.

Hathor was also known as ‘The Golden One’ Journal of Egyptian Archeaology, Vol. 5, P.57
Hathor was the protector of travellers from Egypt to various areas including Sinai. Eretz Israel, Vol. 12, P.118
Patron of drunkeness Hatchepsut The Female Pharaoh, J Tyldesley, P.171

Hathor had the title ‘Mistress of Music’ Hatchepsut The Female Pharaoh, J Tyldesley, P.171
The worship of Hathor included playing on all kinds of musical instruments together with dancing. Egyptian Temples, M.A. Murray, P. 185
The worship Hathor was for the joy and pleasure of those who took part. Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 5, P.57
Hathor is also the goddess of love Egypt, Canaan & Israel in Ancient Times, D.B. Redford, P.232
The worship of Hathor degenerated into immorality Egyptian Temples, M.A. Murray, P.54

Whilst considering Israel’s relationship to Egypt, it is fascinating to discover that the dreams of Pharaoh at the time of Joseph were a clear inversion of the surrounding pagan ideas. One of the foremost Egyptian gods, Osiris, had seven cows; it must have taken some courage for Joseph to comment on the fact that the seven fat cows were to be eaten up by the seven thin ones (Gen. 41:20; possibly representing Israel in the long term, cp. Hos. 4:15-16; Am. 4:1). The point we wish to make in the present context is that the pagan ideas of Pharaoh were not explicitly corrected; instead, the supremacy of Yahweh and His people over them was taught by implication.

It has been shown by many writers that there are a number of mythical stories in surrounding Middle Eastern culture which sound like allusions to Biblical miracles like the sun standing still, the Red Sea drying up etc [1]. They attribute these miracles to their various gods. It is quite possible that these legends are only corruptions of the events which occurred in the Biblical record, and had their origin well after the performance of the miracles. However, it is impossible to accurately date the origin of these pagan legends. In accordance with the ample evidence that God did such miracles in order to destroy the credibility of the surrounding mythology and philosophy, it seems quite probable that these legends existed before the Biblical miracles occurred. When God parted the Red Sea or stopped earth’s rotation He would have been powerfully alluding to the legends which stated that such miracles had been done by deity X, Y or Z. It was clear that Yahweh, Israel’s God, had done these things – and in actual reality, not just in storybook legend.


(1) Several standard Religious Education textbooks for schools include some references relevant here. Perhaps the most striking evidence for the extent of the allusions is provided by Immanual Velikovsky in his books Worlds In Collision and Ages In Chaos London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 1957 & 1959).

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