Were unclean spirits unclean because they were the disembodied breaths of the dead?

Mat 12:43-45 NET 43 "When an unclean spirit goes out of a person, it passes through waterless places looking for rest but does not find it. 44 Then it says, 'I will return to the home I left.' When it returns, it finds the house empty, swept clean, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they go in and live there, so the last state of that person is worse than the first. It will be that way for this evil generation as well!"

NET Leviticus 19:31 Do not turn to the spirits of the dead and do not seek familiar spirits [IE: spirits of dead family members] to become unclean by them. I am the LORD your God.

If so, might this explain the fact that they congregate in human bodies?

  • The Septuagint of Leviticus 19:31 has eg-gastri-mythos and ep(i)-aoidos, referring to a specific type of divination (using the entrails of sacrificed animals), and to singers or (en)chanters.
    – Lucian
    Nov 8, 2018 at 7:16
  • The Hebrew, on the other hand, has invokers and knowers.
    – Lucian
    Nov 8, 2018 at 7:23

2 Answers 2


In short the answer is no because Jesus as a Jew would understood the phrase in Leviticues as he know the Laws well. He used the phrase “unclean spirit” when rebukeing Demons and casting them out as noted in the following texts:-

Mark 5:7, 8 NWT “Then he cried out with a loud voice: “What have I to do with you, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I put you under oath by God not to torment me.” 8 For Jesus had been saying to it: “Come out of the man, you unclean spirit.”

Mark 7:25-30 NWT “Immediately, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit heard about him and came and fell down at his feet. 26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophoenician by nationality; and she kept asking him to expel the demon from her daughter. 27 But he said to her: “First let the children be satisfied, for it is not right to take the bread of the children and throw it to the little dogs.” 28 But she replied to him: “Yes, sir, and yet even the little dogs underneath the table eat of the crumbs of the little children.” 29 At that he said to her: “Because you said this, go; the demon has gone out of your daughter.” 30 So she went away to her home and found the young child lying on the bed, and the demon was gone.”

Luke 8:29 NWT “For Jesus had been ordering the unclean spirit to come out of the man. It had seized him on many occasions, and he was repeatedly bound with chains and fetters and kept under guard, but he would break the bonds and be driven by the demon into the isolated places.”

Luke 9:42, 43 NWT “But even as he was approaching, the demon hurled him to the ground and violently threw him into a convulsion. However, Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and healed the boy and gave him back to his father. 43 And they were all astounded at the majestic power of God.. . .”

Here Jesus show that “Demons” are the “unclean spirits.” There are more texts but I think this will do.

  • So what are "Demons"? And where do we find "Demons" in the OT? If they are unclean spirits and unclean spirits are the spirits of the departed then maybe demons are also spirits of the departed?
    – Ruminator
    Oct 25, 2018 at 19:49
  • 1st - Demons in the O.T.. Deut. 32:17 They were sacrificing to demons, not to God, To gods that they had not known,. 2 Chron. 11:15 Jeroboam then appointed his own priests for the high places and for the goatlike demons. Ps. 106:37 They would sacrifice their sons And their daughters to demons.
    – user26950
    Oct 25, 2018 at 20:42
  • 2nd SOULS DIE Ezk 18:4 kjv “Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. Ezk 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. SOWRDS CAN KILL SOULS - Jos. 10:28 And that day Joshua took Makkedah, and smote it with the edge of the sword, and the king thereof he utterly destroyed, them, and all the souls [that were] therein; he let none remain: and he did to the king of Makkedah as he did unto the king of Jericho. also see Joshua 10:30 & 10:32 The Soul in tangable in most cases in scripture and dies at death!
    – user26950
    Oct 25, 2018 at 21:08
  • 3rd Matt. KJV 10:28 And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy BOTH soul and body in hell. Souls (breaths) can be destroyed so do not survive death. Demons are fallen angels that have rebeled againt God and have join Satan in his rebelion.
    – user26950
    Oct 25, 2018 at 21:19
  • The question is specifically about "unclean spirits".
    – Ruminator
    Oct 25, 2018 at 21:38

The unclean spirits in the NT are also known as "demons". This is confirmed by BDAG in the entry for "diamon", see below.

Let us begin with the venerable BDAG which has two entries about "demons" which I will list below.

"diamon/diamonos" is an (evil) spirit/demon … Matt 8:31, Mark 5:12, Luke 8:29, Rev 16:14, 18:2.

"diamonion" is either a (1) transcendent incorporeal being with status between humans and deities, daemon, semi-divine being, a divinity; spirit, (higher) power. eg Acts 17:18; or, (2) a hostile transcendent being with status between humans and deities, spirit, power, hostile divinity, evil spirit, eg, Luke 8:30, Matt 11:18, Luke 7:33, 8:27, John 7:20, 8:48f, 52, 10:20, Luke 4:33, 35, 42, ...

Nowhere does the Bible or NT specifically, describe these demons as souls of people. However, it does describe these demons as occasionally inhabiting humans in the sense of taking over their minds. Mark 5:15 and Luke 8:35 both describe a man that had been purged of demons that was then "in his right mind".

We are also told that such demons/unclean spirits are subject to the disciples (ie being able to exorcize them, Luke 10:17) and to Jesus (see above list of references).

There more fascinating data available that is tantalising in its brevity. Some demons recognised Jesus as who He was - the Son of God (Matt 8:29, Mark 5:7, 8, Luke 8:28, 29, etc). Further, James 2:19 states that the demons believe that God is one, and shudder!

Lastly, these demons appear to know that some (presumably future) time Jesus will imprison them for "torture" (Matt 8:29, Mark 7, 8, Luke 8:28, 29). This place is called "abyss" in Luke 8:31 but is otherwise unidentified. The book of revelation makes much use of this "abyss" in places such as Rev 9:2, 11, 11:7 17:8 (all describe the abyss as the origin of the beast and associated beings), Rev 20:1, 3 (beast is thrown back into the abyss). Rom 10:7 also describes the abyss as the place of the dead suggesting the dead and demons occupy the same mythical place.

There are numerous theories about exactly what demons are and where they come from and their function but I will not discuss these here as all are theologically based and not hermitically based.

  • The question is specifically about "unclean spirits".
    – Ruminator
    Oct 25, 2018 at 21:38

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