Asmodeus, the name of the demon mentioned in the Book of Tobias (iii, 8). The name is most probably derived from the Hebrew root SMD to destroy: so that the being would correspond to the demon called Abaddon, the Destroyer, in the Apocalypse, ix, 11. The Book of Tobias relates that the virgin Sara, the kinswoman of Tobias, had been given successively to seven husbands; but they had all been slain on the night of the nuptials, before the consummation of the marriage. From this fact, a superstition had arisen that the demon loved the maiden and slew her husbands through jealousy. In the Greek text of Tobias, it is stated that the younger Tobias himself was moved by this superstition. The inspired text in no way approves the superstition. God allowed the demon to slay these men because they entered marriage with unholy motives. The pious youth, Tobias, acting under the instructions of Raphael, takes Sara to wife, and Raphael expels the demon. The exemplary chastity and temperance of Tobias and Sara save them from the demon, and offer an example for mankind. In fact, the permission given by God to the demon in this history seems to have as a motive to chasten man’s lust and sanctify marriage. The Rationalists have vainly endeavored to set down this history as a Persian myth. For a full refutation of their theories, see Gutberlet, “Das Buch Tobias“.
A. E. BREEN