Testament of Solomon

The Testament of Solomon is ascribed to King Solomon. It was written in the Greek language, some time in the early 1st millennium CE. Solomon prayed in the temple and receives from the archangel Michael a ring with the seal of God (in the shape of a Pentalpha) on it which will enable him to command the demons.

Solomon orderd the demon Ornias to take the ring and similarly imprint the prince of demons, Beelzebul. With Beelzebul under his command, Solomon now had all of the demons at his bidding to build the temple. Beelzebul reveals that he was formerly the highest ranking angel in Heaven.

In chapter 18, the demons of the 36 decans appear, with names that sometimes seem to be conscious distortions of the traditional names for the decans. The decan demons claim responsibility mostly for various ailments and pains, and they provide the magical formulae by which they may be banished.

For example, the thirty-third demon is Rhyx Achoneoth who causes sore throat and tonsilitis and can be driven off by writing the word Leikourgos on ivy leaves and heaping them into a pile.

Solomon’s final demon encounter involves sending a servant boy with his ring to take captive a wind demon who is harassing the land of Arabia. The boy is to hold a wine skin against the wind with the ring in front of it, and then tie up the bag when it is full. The boy succeeds in his task and returns with the wine skin. The imprisoned demon calls himself Ephippas, and it is by his power that a cornerstone, thought to be too large to lift, is raised into the entrance of the temple. Then Ephippas and another demon from the Red Sea bring a miraculous column made of something purple from out of the Red Sea. This Red Sea demon reveals himself as Abizithibod, and claims to be the demon who supported the Egyptian magicians against Moses, and who hardened the pharaoh’s heart, but had been caught with the Egyptian host when the sea returned and held down by this pillar until Ephippas came and together they could lift it.

Solomon describes how he fell in love with a Shunammite woman, and agreed to worship Remphan and Moloch in exchange for sex. Solomon agrees to sacrifice to them, but at first only sacrifices five locusts by simply crushing them in his hand. Immediately, the spirit of God departs from him, and he is made foolish and his name becomes a joke to both humans and demons. Solomon concludes his text with a warning to the readers; he tells them to not abandon their beliefs for sex like he did.

Many of the demons in Solomon’s encounters are of Greek, Egyptian, Jewish, Christian, Arabic, and other traditions. The majority of the testament consists of Solomon’s interviews with the demons. Two demons associated strongly with sexuality appear among them- Asmodeus from the Book of Tobit, and a female demon named Obyzouth, who is identical to Lilith in all but name, including the strangling of newborn children. Most of the other demons are otherwise unknown by name from other works. The demon Abezethibou is said to have hardened the pharaoh’s heart, rather than Yahweh.

Asmodeus is a king of demons mostly known from the Book of Tobit, in which he is the primary antagonist. The demon is also mentioned in some Talmudic legends; for instance, in the story of the construction of the Temple of Solomon. He was supposed by some Renaissance Christians to be the King of the Nine Hells. Asmodeus also is referred to as one of the seven princes of Hell. In Binsfeld’s classification of demons, each one of these princes represents one of the seven deadly sins (Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride). Asmodeus is the demon of lust and is therefore responsible for twisting people’s sexual desires, as seen in the book of Tobias especially. He is also said to be here on Earth after millions of years in hell. In Jewish and Islamic lore he is the king of the demons (Shedim/Jinn). It is said in Asmodeus; Or, The Devil on Two Sticks that people who fall to Asmodeus’ ways will be sentenced to an eternity in the second level of hell.

In the myth and folklore of the Near East and Europe, Abyzou is the name of a female demon. Abyzou was blamed for miscarriages and infant mortality and was said to be motivated by envy, as she herself was infertile. In the Jewish tradition, she is identified with Lilith, in Coptic Egypt with Alabasandria, and in Byzantine culture with Gylou, but in various texts surviving from the syncretic magical practice of antiquity and the early medieval era she is said to have many or virtually innumerable names. Abyzou (also spelled Abizou, Obizu, Obizuth, Obyzouth, Byzou) is pictured on amulets with fish- or serpent-like attributes. Her fullest literary depiction is the compendium of demonology known as the Testament of Solomon, dated variously by scholars from as early as the 1st century AD to as late as the 4th.

The demons, listed in order of appearance, are Ornias, Beelzeboul, Onoskelis, Asmodeus, Tephras, the 7 star sisters (a reference to the Pleiades), Envy, Rabdos, Rath, Tribolaios, Obizuth, the wingdragon, Enepsigos, Kunopaston, an unnamed “lustful spirit”, the 36 spirits of the decans, Ephippas, Abizithibod

1 Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s