A book of fate used in popular divination and named after Ahithophel. In Jewish legends of the Middle Ages Ahithophel plays a rôle somewhat similar to that of Mephistopheles (see Steinschneider, "Pseudepigraphische Literatur," p. 80, note 2). Cassel would even translate "Ahithophel" as "the Brother of the Evil One"; regarding tofel as an ancient formation of diabolus, in support of which he cites the Germanic tiuval and tievel-teufel (compare "Mischle Sindbad," p. 330, Berlin, 1888). R. Moses Isserles, again, relates having read in a "very old book," in which were contained the philosophies and the portraits of various thinkers, that Socrates had received his wisdom from Asaf the Korahite and Ahithophel ("Torat ha-'Olah," i. xi.). In accordance with the popular view of Ahithophel's character, as being at once diabolic and omniscient, in the Middle Ages the authorship of a cabalistic work, "Sefer Goralot" (Book of Lots), was attributed to him. According to its preface, it discloses the "great secret of securing an answer without the drawing of lots or computation, by indifferently putting one's hand on a tablet containing the numbers one to ninety, or eighty-nine." The book furthermore is said to have lain hidden in Alexandria, and afterward to have been used in Tiberias and elsewhere, "the usual legend concerning pseudepigraphic writings," as Steinschneider puts it. Compare Lots, Books of.

  • Steinschneider, Hebr. Uebers. p. 870.
H. G. E.
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