MEET ABYZOU


In THE DEADLIEST THIEF, Miriam is pregnant with her first child. In one passage, she tells us what she and Judah spoke about during dinner:

Dinner with Judah was quiet. We spoke only about our baby and his intentions to hire a midwife and buy an experienced doula to assist our maid. I agreed but demurred when he suggested a charm to protect me from Abyzou. My father had given one to my mother after her two stillbirths, but she ended up dying of childbed fever anyway after giving birth to Binyamin and me.

So, who was this demon of Jewish mythology? Also known as Abizou, Obizu, Obizuth, Obyzouth, and Byzou, she was the infertile demon who, out of jealousy, was believed responsible for miscarriages, stillbirths, and infant mortality. She is often depicted as having snake- or fish-like attributes.

In the medical traditions of the Near Eastern and Greco-Roman cultures, illness or afflictions were personified and addressed directly. The medical practitioner inscribed a healing charm for the patient or chanted a threat to cause the demon to flee.

This passage in THE DEADLIEST THIEF shows Miriam’s sophistication. Having been tutored in the theoretical framework of Aristotle, you can trust her to be reasonable, even perfect. Perhaps that’s why readers find the ending of THE DEADLIEST THIEF so stunning. My guess is you will too! Just click here.

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