There is only one reference to a "demon" in the Douay Rheims Bible, which is of the same time period as the King James Version, and influenced by it. The King James Version mentions demons zero times. Both translations usually reference "devils" rather than "demons". However, "demons" are in common usage in Bible translations since the 20th century, including the American Standard Version. Why does the Douay Rheims Bible mention "demons" this one and only time, in the entire Bible?

1 Answer 1


First, the DRB precedes the KJV. The NT of DRB was first published in 1582 and the OT of the DRB was first published in 1609-1610. The KJV was first published in 1611. Both have been since revised several times.

Second, the DRB does not translate from the original Bible language of Hebrew (OT) and Greek (NT) but from the Clementine Latin text. Thus, the DRB is a translation of a translation. This Clementine text was formally published in 1592, and is a revision of that published by Jerome about 400 AD. The Clementine text was controversial and often shows many differences between from the original languages.

Isa 34:14 is one such difference. The Latin text is:

Et occurrent dæmonia onocentauris, et pilosus clamabit alter ad alterum ; ibi cubavit lamia, et invenit sibi requiem. = And demons and monsters shall meet, and the hairy ones shall cry out one to another, there hath the lamia lain down, and found rest for herself. (as translated by the DRB)

The Masoretic text of the Hebrew is:

וּפָגְשׁ֤וּ צִיִּים֙ אֶת־אִיִּ֔ים וְשָׂעִ֖יר עַל־רֵעֵ֣הוּ יִקְרָ֑א אַךְ־שָׁם֙ הִרְגִּ֣יעָה לִּילִ֔ית וּמָצְאָ֥ה לָ֖הּ מָנֹֽוחַ

= The desert creatures will meet with the wolves, The goat also will cry to its kind. Yes, the night-bird will settle there And will find herself a resting place. (NASB)

It is debatable whether demons are ever mentioned in the OT (in contrast to the Devil or Satan who appears several times). However, there are a few words that probably mean "demon":

  • שֵׁד (shed) eg, Deut 32:17, Ps 106:37. The Latin & DRB translates this word as "devils" in both cases.
  • שָׂעִיר (sa'iyr) meaning "hairy" which is rendered "demon" by some versions in Isa 34:14, 13:21, Lev 17:7, 2 Kings 23:8. In most cases it is simply translated as "male goat" or equivalent, eg, Gen 37:31, Lev 4:23, , 24, 9:3. Interestingly, Esau is described using this word in Gen 27:11, 23.

Therefore, if we include "devils" with "demons", the DRB uses the idea in other places as well. Further, "Satan is also mentioned in the DRB in Job 1:6, 2:1, 6, Zech 3:1, 2, etc.

  • That information is valuable, however, I've researched the Latin Vulgate and found that Clementina does indeed mention "deamonia" as it does in a number of verses throughout the Bible, mostly in the New Testament. Paradoxially, Nova does not refer to deamonia in this verse, yet does so in almost every other verse Clementina does. Nova uses "hyaenae thoibus, et pilosus clamat"? This is most pecular. Could the "demonia" in Clementina actually be a synonym for an actual animal, perhaps goat?
    – user12711
    Feb 2, 2021 at 16:34
  • So I'm still wondering why Douay Rheims Bible only translates "demons" once, but it's used in Clementina Vulgate lots of times. Maybe the english word "demons" was a synonym for goats in early times? Maybe they wanted to use the word just once to say they used it? Clementina mentions daemonia lots of times in the New Testament, but it's rendered "devils" by Douay Rheims. Perhaps "demons" in English was not yet in the vocabulary as a specifically evil spirit, but "devils" was, and the Isaiah verse indicates (and Douay Rheims was attempting to indicate) animals, not evil (devil) spirits?
    – user12711
    Feb 2, 2021 at 17:28

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