This list is given in chapter 8 of Jewish Magic and Superstition by Joshua Trachtenberg, reproduced from the 14th century Sefer Gematriaot. I have added the verses cited, sometimes with additional surrounding verses especially where they complete a sentence or seem particularly relevant, changed the numbering to match English bibles in a couple of places, and moved his examination of some of them to the front; the footnotes are mine.


It will be instructive to examine some of these citations and see why they were chosen for their appointed tasks. The first and second, “And he blessed them that day” (Gen. 48:20) and “I wait for Thy salvation, O Lord” (Gen. 49:18) were obviously selected for the pious sentiment they express, and for their appropriateness. “Thou shalt not suffer a sorceress to live” (Ex. 22:17) suggested itself immediately as powerful counter-magic; reciting the three Hebrew words which comprise this verse in their six possible permutations, as the author proposes, and adding the words of Is. 41:24, “Behold, ye are nothing, and your work a thing of nought; an abomination is he that chooseth you,” makes this a potent prophylactic against sorcery. The next verse suggested as counter-magical, Lev. 1:1, “And the Lord called unto Moses and spoke unto him out of the tent of meeting, saying,” seems in itself to be altogether inappropriate for this purpose. But it is the opening verse of the Levitical code, the book devoted to rules of ritual cleanliness and sacrifice, and as such possesses the character of the entire book. In addition, it was to be read in its usual order, then each word was to be read backwards, and finally the entire verse was to be read backwards, these last two versions constituting mystical names. To cite another example, Ex. 6:6–7, which was to be recited in moments of danger, contains four “names,” which are the Hebrew words translated “I will bring you out,” “I will redeem you,” “I will deliver you,” “I will take you to Me” – what better choice could be made for such a purpose? Most of the verses are similarly suggestive of their possible uses. The “Song at the Sea” (Ex. 15) and the “Song of Songs” were especially favored in the above list, and for good reasons as the reader will see if he checks up some of the citations. “YHVH is a man of war, YHVH is His name” (Ex. 15:3), prescribed for victory in war, does not in itself promise such a result, but its emphasis on the name of the Lord and His warlike character rendered it a means of aligning God on the side of the reciter. Not all, however, are so obvious. Lev. 26:42, to be recited after a fast, was chosen because it contains sixty letters—but the manuscript does not tell us what the connection is (perhaps the “threescore mighty men” of Cant. 3:7). Why verses which begin and end with nun are counter-magical (these verses in themselves have no connection with the subject) is also not clear. Lev. 5:19, for consumption, was selected for the obscure names that were derived from it, rather than for any direct connection between the text and its use. Deut. 7:12, for sterility, again is more important for its name Akriel, angel of “barrenness,” than for its simple sense, though the word berit, which occurs in this verse, is often understood to refer to the genitalia. And so it goes.

The manner of employing these quotations varied. Most often they were recited as they are to be found in the Bible, with the addition of the mystical names. Sometimes, as we have observed, the recital was complicated by reversing the usual order, or transposing words, or repeating them a given number of times. The words might be “whispered” over a cup of water, or written down and dissolved in a liquid, which was then drunk, or worn on the person in the form of an amulet, or traced on the skin of an apple and then eaten, etc. In other words, every device known to magic which was calculated to cause a certain effect to occur upon or within an individual, was called into play to bring out the occult forces inherent in the verses of the Bible.

For a newly circumcised infant
For protection at night
To drive off demons and evil spirits
To counteract magic
To win favor
To gain a “good name”
To win credence in a dispute
To have one’s prayer answered
For a sweet voice
To strengthen the voice
For the leader of prayer
To arouse love
At a betrothal
For a newly married couple
To maintain peace between man and wife
To cure sterility
To halt menstrual flow
For a fever
For consumption
For success
For profitable trade
To fatten fowl
To make flocks thrive
On beginning a piece of work
On entering a new home
For safety on a journey
To be saved from an impending danger
In a time of trouble
Against an enemy
To cause an enemy to die
To be invisible
To cause an enemy to drown
To be victorious in war
To cause the strength of an opposing army to wither away
Against pursuers
Against wild beasts
Against a highwayman
Against robbers
Against slander
To cause a man who has sworn falsely to die within a year
To calm a raging river
To dissipate a mirage or a hallucination
For intelligence
For good health after a fast
To cause a curse to take effect
For dream divination
Against the evil eye

  1. There’s some contention as to the proper translation of ‘witch’ here, some pseudo-intellectuals claiming this was an adulturation in the KJV. Let us be clear: Deut. 18:9–12 –
    9 When thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.
    10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,
    11 or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
    12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them out from before thee.  ↩

  2. CJB: “wild ox”.  ↩

  3. CJB: “one’s inmost being”.  ↩

  4. I’m fond of this one.  ↩

  5. This was sung after the passing of the sea and the drowning of pharoah’s armies.  ↩

  6. This is probably another case of evoking an entire book.  ↩

  7. I would be greatly amused to discover how this set of verses was possibly considered “for the leader of prayer”. 7:10–13 are certainly useful in love magics, however.  ↩

  8. This is Isaac speaking to Jacob, whom he believes to be Esau. While accredited to the blessing of a betrothal, it’s quite effacious as a blessing of properity in general, as well.  ↩

  9. This one is much clearer in CJB: If the God of my father, the God of Avraham, the one whom Yitz’chak fears, had not been on my side, by now you would certainly have already sent me away with nothing! God has seen how distressed I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked, and last night he passed judgment in my favor.  ↩

  10. This verse begins the description of the construction of the sanctuary, after the materials had been gathered.  ↩

  11. The name here being the tetragrammaton, YHVH.  ↩

  12. I would use something more like Genesis 9:2 – And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.  ↩