In the book of Proverbs, there is mention of a leech in a passage describing greed. This is directly translated from the Hebrew word “alukah” which in other Jewish texts describes a bloodsucking beast or vampire.
This popular figure in books, movies, and shows has been around for centuries. But are these bloodthirsty creatures real? Does the Bible mention them? That answer is much more interesting than you might think. Let’s take a closer look.
Over the centuries, the idea of vampires has grown and changed. Ancient civilisations like the Greeks and Romans told tales about blood-drinking demons which are now considered the forerunners to the more modern take on a vampire.
The idea of a vampire, an undead creature that is sustained by drinking the blood of living humans, was cemented in folklore in South-Eastern Europe in the 17th – 18th centuries. Nations across the world had their own variations of bloodthirsty creatures. At times mass hysteria would break out as certain groups were convinced that vampires were real. Superstitions meant that many graves were exhumed and the corpses staked or beheaded.
The vampire was immortalised in literature with the writing of the wildly popular book, The Vampyre in 1819 by Byron.
These days, the vampire is simply a fictional character who isn’t always the villain anymore – hello Twilight fans! Vampires appear in books, shows, and movies. They have a much different vibe than mermaids.
Mentions of Vampires in the Bible
For many scholars, the earliest mention of a vampire is in the bible – the book of Proverbs in the Old Testament. Let’s take a closer look at God’s view on drinking blood and also at that very interesting mention of a bloodthirsty creature.
God’s View of Drinking Blood
Leviticus 17:10-12 ESV “If any one of the house of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them eats any blood, I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life. Therefore I have said to the people of Israel, No person among you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger who sojourns among you eat blood.”
God’s view on eating blood is clear – He is against it. From this, we can be sure that God never created vampires and that any form of vampirism among people that exists goes against His plan for creation. If only mosquitoes got this memo!
The Hebrew Word “Alukah”
Proverbs 30:14-16 ESV There are those whose teeth are swords, whose fangs are knives, to devour the poor from off the earth, the needy from among mankind. The leech has two daughters: Give and Give. Three things are never satisfied; four never say, “Enough”: Sheol, the barren womb, the land never satisfied with water, and the fire that never says, “Enough.”
“Leech” in this passage is translated from the Hebrew word “alukah” which is Hebrew for horse leech – a real creature with many teeth often found drinking blood from the necks of animals. It is also the word used for “vampire” in other Hebrew texts (not the Bible) like the Sefer Hasidim, a book detailing Jewish life in the medieval times (12th and 13th century).
We can’t be 100% sure if the author, Agur, was referring to a horse leech or if he was referring to fictional Mesopotamian demonology or folklore which included a creature who drank the blood (like a cannibal) of her victims converting them to alukahs. This is why this biblical reference is often considered to be the earliest mention of a vampire. With phrases like “fangs are knives” – it is definitely a possibility.
We can be sure of the meaning of the passage – greed. Agur used rich imagery to communicate a very serious truth and whether he had a vampire or a leech in mind, the meaning remains the same: the parasitic greed and despair of never being satisfied; the grave, the barren womb, a land in drought, and fire itself.
It’s important to note that this is a descriptive passage, not a narrative (an actual story) so it by no means suggests that vampires are real.
Are Vampires in the Bible?
There is no evidence to support the existence of vampires in the Bible. There is, however, a passage in Proverbs that, in the original Hebrew text, contains the word “alukah.” This word can be translated into English as either a horse leech or a bloodthirsty creature (vampire). The author was using rich imagery to describe the fault of greed and may have borrowed the image of a bloodthirsty demon from the enemy nation’s (Babylon’s) demonology to get his point across.