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By Harold Roth
The Magic of the Sword of Moses is a long-overdue practical guide to the rituals of the Sword of Moses, an ancient Jewish magical text. The original nineteenth century English translation of the Sword omitted spells and made the text a curiosity for the scholar rather than what it actually is—a magical manuscript. Placing it in the context of the Talmud, Harold Roth’s explanation restores the Sword to its position as part of the long conversation between Judaism and the occult. He opens with a discussion of other forms of Jewish magic—including the magical use of swords—to introduce the reader to the cultural and historical setting in which the text of the Sword was written. He writes not just for the occultist, but also for the non-occultist Jew, for example by including a chapter on “Why It’s Okay to Adjure Angels,” which is firmly rooted in Torah and Talmud.
The first two parts of the book deal with the background and writing of the text of The Sword of Moses, and the second two with its ritual procedures and spells. Roth’s discussion is thorough and down to Earth, addressing the many practical concerns that frequently make working magic from grimoires and other historical texts challenging. He also neither assumes that all his readers are Jewish nor that all have a background in magic, and carefully attends to the needs and questions of each, making this a very approachable guide and workable ritual text. He explains in detail how to work to wield the Sword and includes a number of spells from the Sword of Moses as well.
In The Magic of the Sword of Moses, Roth has thoughtfully and thoroughly unpacked a dense text that has often formerly proved inaccessible. Comprehensive enough for the scholar and practical enough to use, anyone with an interest in magic, Judaism or both will find it fascinating.