The rectangular plate is a mold of an amulet dedicated to a birthing mother and her newborn infant. On the top of the plate are two winged angels (putti) flanking a central inscribed shield. In one hand they are holding a valance surmounted by the blessing "mazal tov " (blessing for a good omen) and mounted above the shield, while in the other hand they point to the inscribed Psalm 20 ( fig. 1).
The name of Abraham, the patriarch of the nation is inscribed below the shield. His name is followed by other names of patriarchs and matriarchs of the nation, inscribed in two side columns, within an interlaced geometric frame. Beginning on the right, read from top to bottom: "Isaac, Adam, Moses, Aaron, David and Shlomo (shlm)," which appears on the second column (the name of Jacob is missing). It continues with the matriarchs on the left, read from bottom to top: "Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah." The names allude to the
"mi she'annah" prayer ("The One who replied to Abraham… He will respond to my prayer…" Mishnah, Mo'ed, Ta'anit, 2:4).
The names of Adam and Eve are below the angels, topping the amuletic formula (fig 2):
"אדם וחוה/ חוץ לילית חוה ראשונה/ סיניו וסינסניו וסמנגלוף"
"Let Lilith, the first Eve, out (of this territory), (in the name of) Sinoy (Sanoy), Sinsnoy (Sansenoy), and Smangaluf."
This formula is based on several midrashic legends (Ozar Hamidrashim, p. 35), and is followed by a story that only appears on amulets, and its literary sources are still obscure (fig. 3):
"בשם ה' אלוהי ישראל יושב הכרובים אליהו הז"ל (הזכור לטוב) היה הלך בדרך/ ונגע בלילית הרשעה ובכל כיתה. אמר להם אן אתם/ הולכים ויענו ואמרו אנו הולכים לבית פ' ב' פ' (פלונית בת פלונית)להזיק אותה/ ואת הילד הנולד לה והחרים להם אליהו בחרם ואמרו לו/ למען השם תתרוני ועתה אשבענו לך באלוהי ישראל/ כשמזכירין אתם את שמותינו אין לנו שום כח להכנס/ לבית היולדת ומש' (ומשפחתה) להזיק ואלו שמותינו: לילית אביטו אביזו אמזרפו הקש/ אורם איקפודו איילו טטרוטה קליכט/ אבמקטה שטרעה זה תילתוי פירטשי"
"In the name of the Lord, God of Israel, who dwells between the cherubim: While Elijah, of blessed memory, was on his way, he met evil Lilith and all her group (of demons). He asked them: where are you going? And they answered: we are going to the house of so-and-so (female) to harm her and her newborn child. Then, Elijah excommunicated them and they pleaded with him and asked him to release them. Thus, (Elijah) made them swear in the name of God of Israel, that whenever the following names (would be mentioned) – not one of them would have the power to enter the house of the birthing mother, and to harm her or any of her family members. And these are the names (of Lilith): Lilith, Abitu, Obizo, Amzarpho Hakesh, Oram, Ikphudo, Ayelu, Tatruta, Klicht, Av'maktah, Shetra'kh, Za, Tiltui, Fitashi."
The different names of Lilith are set in bold and large letters below the legend.
The plate concludes with Psalm 121 set in two columns flanking a six-pointed amuletic star (known as the Star of David) formed of the verse: "The angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads, and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac, and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth" (Gen. 48:16) enclosing Lord's name "Shaddai, God almighty."
Two rectangles are at the bottom of the plate, inscribed with an additional amuletic formula, in three different modes:
"מכשפה לא תחיה/ לא תחיה מכשפה/ תחיה מכשפה לא"
"The witch shall not live."
The name of the scribe, the date and place of origin appear in the central bottom (fig 4), accompanied by his signature in Latin characters, signed in the outer borders (fig 5):
"מרדכי/ סופר סת"ם בק"ק (בקהל קדוש) נייטרא תקצ"ב"
"Mordechai, a scribe of books, Tefillin and Mezuzot (in Hebrew initials SETAM), (who was active) in the Holy congregation of Nitra, (the year) (5)592 (1832)."
The legend including Lilith as the former Eve and her flight from Adam is first mentioned in the Alphabet of Ben Sira, composed in Babylonia in the end of the ninth to the beginning of the tenth centuries. The story in Ben Sira also includes the three angels who excommunicated her after she refused to return to Adam. It seems that the legend appears in Ben Sira to explain the custom of writing amulets against Lilith, which most probably already existed then and was widespread.
The second version of the story, which includes Elijah and appears on our amulet, probably is derived from a different literary source and reflects another tradition. According to Prof. Gaster, a similar narrative of a Holy man, who meets a female demon that kills babies, and excommunicates her, is mentioned in the Manichean literary tradition. The story of Elijah and Lilith is included in the second edition of David's Lida's book Sod ha Shem (Berlin 1710, p. 20a). A female demon with a thousand names,active at night, harming newborn babies and their mothers, is also mentioned in the Testament of Solomon, a Greek work of the third century. In this composition, she is named Obizoth, similar to one of the names in our amulet (Gershom Shalom, Lilith, in Encyclopedia Judaica, Jerusalem, 11, p. 246).
Amuletic formulas adorned by two winged putti.