Berith also known as Baal-Berith ("Baal of the Covenant") was the god of the Canaanite city, who later came to be viewed as the demon Baalberith by Christian demonology. According to the Book of Judges, his temple was destroyed when Abimelech quelled the rising of his subjects. The name denotes a form of Ba'al-worship prevailing in Israel, according to the Book of Judges, and particularly in Shechem. The term "Ba'al" is shown by the equivalent "El-berith" to mean "the God of the Covenant." The 'Covenant' (Hebrew: Berith) to which this refers may refer to treaties such as one with the Canaanitic league of which Shechem was the head, or the covenant between Israel and the people of Shechem. The term is considered by some to be too abstract to have been occasioned by a single set of conditions. Moreover, the temple of the god in Shechem implies a permanent establishment. Probably the name and the cult were widespread and ancient (see Baalim), though it is mentioned only in connection with the affairs of Shechem.
Berith is the Hebrew word for covenant, it was originated from the Akkanadian (Babylonian) word 'Biritu' which means to 'fetter' or 'to bond'. Baal Berith was a form of Baal worshiped in Berith (Beirut), Phoenicia. He is also called Beal, Berithi, Bofry, Bolfry and Bolfri by necromancers. In Alchemy Berith was the element with which all metals could be transmuted into gold, surely derived from the name of the demon Berith.
Berith is a Great Duke of Jinnestan, powerful and terrible, and has Twenty-Six legions of demons under his command. He is also one of the Seventy-Two spirits of Solomon and one of the demons at the Louviers possession case.
Berith appears as a soldier dressed in red, riding a red horse and wearing a golden crown on his head; according to other grimoires his skin is red too.
Berith answers truly of things present, past, and to come but he is also a liar. Berith also has the power to transmute all base metals into gold. Lured by a handsome reward, he will ensure that great public dignities and manifold riches are bestowed upon the conjuror. Finally, he possesses the rather singular power or lending clarity of sound and ease of elocution to the voices of singers. The magician must use a ring to magically divert the flaming, noxious fumes from the mouth of the demon. According to some demonologists from the 16th century, his power is stronger in June, meanwhile to Sebastian Michaelis he suggests murder and blasphemy and his adversary is St. Barnabas.
In “Le tresor d’Albert Petit” (XIII), a method of conjuring him under a form resembling can be found. On a Monday night a black chicken is bled at a crossroads. One must say:
- 'Berith will do all my work for twenty years and I shall recompense him.'
Or else one may write the spell on a piece of virgin parchment with the chicken's blood. The demon thus evoked will appear the same day, and put himself completely at the conjuror's disposal. But after twenty years, Berith will claim his reward for services rendered. I found myself, he said, in a house where a familiar spirit had manifested for six years taking car eof winding the clock and currying the horses. I was curious one morning to examine these proceedings: my astonishment was great to see a curry-comb running over the hindquarters of a horse which appeared to be done by no visible hand. The groom told me that to attract the familiar to his service, he had taken a small black chicken, which he had bled at a great crossroad; that with its blood he had written on a scrap of paper: 'Berith will come to my aid for twenty years, and I will recompense him;' next having buried the chicken a foot deep in the earth, that same day the familiar had taken care of the clock and some horses, and that from time to time game the groom things which were worth something... - Le tresor d’Albert Petit
In Rabbinical Literature
The idol Baalberith, which the Jews worshipped after the death of Gideon, was identical, according to the Rabbis, with Baal-zebub, "the ba'al of flies," the god of Ekron (II Kings i. 2). He was worshipped in the shape of a fly; and Jewish tradition states that so addicted were the Jews to his cult that they would carry an image of him in their pockets, producing it, and kissing it from time to time. Baal-zebub is called Baal-berith because such Jews might be said to make a covenant (Hebrew: "Berit") of devotion with the idol, being unwilling to part with it for a single moment (Shab. 83b; comp. also Sanh. 63b). According to another conception, Baal-berith was an obscene article of idolatrous worship, possibly a simulacrum priapi (Yer. Shab. ix. 11d; 'Ab. Zarah iii. 43a). This is evidently based on the later significance of the word "berit," meaning circumcision.
Baalberith in Christian demonology
Baalberith was the chief secretary of the Underworld, head of its public archives, and the demon who tempted men to blasphemy and murder. When seated among the princes of the Underworld, he was usually seen as a pontiff. He tells things of the past, present and future with true answers; he can also turn all metals into gold, give dignities to men and confirm them. He has also been compared to Pallas and Diana.
He was also quite a voluble sort: according to the Admirable History written by Father Sebastien Michaelis in 1612, Baalberith once possessed a nun in Aix-en-Provence. In the process of the exorcism, Baalberith volunteered not only his own name and the names of all the other demons possessing her, but the names of the saints who would be most effective in opposing them.