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Samael ( Hebrew סמאל, also Semiel , Sammane , Sammuel and Semael ; German: 'The poison of God' in Gnosis also means 'The blind God') is an archangel of Jewish and Christian mythology. In some Gnostic scriptures , such as From Origin of the World , Samael is considered one of the three names of Yaldabaoth . In rabbinical Judaism , Samael is often equated with Satan , with Satan referring to his function as accuser and Samael to a proper name. To show that only the heavenly world is sacred, he tries to bring people down by tempting them to prove to God that he is right after all. Michael, on the other hand, is supposed to defend the deeds of the people of Israel before God.


The name appears for the first time in the sixth chapter of the Ethiopian Book of Enoch in the list of angels rebelling against God. The Greek versions of the text that has not been handed down in Hebrew also contain the name forms Sammane ( ancient Greek Σαμμανή ) and Semiel (Σεμιέλ). The church father Irenaeus used the name Semiel throughout his description of the Ophites , while Theodoret used the name Sammane. According to Irenaeus, the Ophites gave the serpent they worshiped the double names Michael and Semiel. The Byzantine monk Georgios Synkellos retains the name form Samiel, which is traced back to the Hebrew word סמי (sami, blind ) in various Jewish and non-Jewish etymologies and passed down into the Middle Ages.

In addition to the name forms Samiel and Samael, the name Sammuel can be found in the Greek Baruch Apocalypse . The angel Sammuel plants the wine that leads Adam to the fall and becomes Satan for it . In chapter 9 of the original text he takes the form of a serpent to seduce Adam, a version that is left out in the later tradition in the Talmud .

In the Ascension of Isaiah , which contains both Jewish and early Christian elements, the names Belial and Samael are used synonymously for Satan, and in the Sibylline Oracle Samael is mentioned among the angels of the last judgment. Based on the Jewish tradition, he is seen in various Gnostic works as a blind god who is identical with Yaldabaoth and is the leader of the forces of evil. With reference to his blindness, Samael is included in church-related writings such as pseudepigraphic apostle narratives as the name of Satan. As the leader of the devil, he is mentioned in Solomon's testament and the blind demon Simjael from the Mandaean Sidra Rabba is to be understood as a variation.

In the tradition of rabbinical Judaism , Samael appears for the first time in Jose ben Chalafta in his commentary on the Exodus from Egypt, both in the roles of prosecutor and defender. He appears as the accuser at Hanina ben Hama , who first identifies him as Esau's guardian angel , who wrestles with his brother Jacob . In the Midrash Jelammedenu he appears in a positive role as the one who divides the Red Sea when he leaves Egypt and holds back the wheels of the Egyptian chariots.

As the angel of death , Samael appears for the first time in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Gen 3,6  EU . In this capacity he appears regularly in the later Aggada , especially in stories about the death of Moses . In Deuteronomy Rabba he is explicitly referred to as evil, repeated several times in Hekhalot Rabbati . In the Hebrew Book of Enoch he is the Lord of Seducers, who is greater than all heavenly kingdoms, but is distinguished from Satan. He also appears as a guardian angel over Rome.

In connection with the angels' rebellion against God, Samael is the leader of the rebelling angels. Before his fall he has twelve wings and is still above the seraphim in the angelic hierarchy . He is responsible for all states, but has power over Israel only on the Day of Atonement . He was in control of the serpent in Paradise and he hid in the Golden Calf . In the Midrash Abkir he is involved with Michael in the birth of Esau and Jacob and also in the sacrifice of Isaac . The fight between him and Michael will continue until the end of the days when he will be handed over to the Philistines in chains.

In John's Apocryphon from the Nag Hammadi scriptures , Samael is given as a name of the demiurge . In The Origin of the World , another copy of the Nag Hammadi library, sin Yaldabaoth against the All when he calls out to the only God. Then Pistis replies : "You are wrong, Samael". In connection with Gnostic scriptures, the name Samael is also interpreted as "the blind god".

In the demonological writings of the Spanish Kabbalists Isaak and Jakob ben Jakob ha-Kohen from the 13th century, he is called Sar Suma , the blind angel. In demonological literature, he often appears as the angel who brought death into the world. In it he is first referred to as the husband of Lilith , with whom he rules the realm of impurity. He is assigned various roles in stories about the conflict with Asmodaeus , some of which are contradicting, and he is also called the Guardian Angel of Ishmael . The different attributions in demonology can be traced back to the fact that different demon hierarchies were designed at this time.

In the Kabbalah , Samael (Hebrew: Sammael) is the blind angel or prince of darkness and evil, a manifestation of the "other side" of the tree of life, which in the Zohar often appears together with Lilith (sometimes as the eighth and tenth Qlīpa ). The couple Samael and Lilith are mentioned several times in the Zohar as leaders of the " other side ", evil. The snake is the symbol of Lilith and Samael rides on her and has relations with her. Samael is cross-eyed, dark and has horns, possibly because of the influence of Christian beliefs about Satan. In Tikkune Zohar various demons classes are listed, all are called Samael.

Eliphas Levi called Samael the angel of Mars. Incantations of Samael are common in magical literature.


Web links

Commons : Samael  - album with pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Birger A. Pearson Gnosticism Judaism Egyptian Fortress Press ISBN 978-1-4514-0434-0 page 48
  2. ^ Arnold Goldberg, Margarete Schlueter, Peter Schäfer Mystik und Theologie des Rabbinischen Judentums Collected Studies I Mohr Siebeck, 1997 ISBN 978-3-16-146633-5 page 227
  3. ^ Greek Baruch Apocalypse 4.9
  4. ^ Sibylline Oracle 2, 215.
  5. Mark Lidzbarski (transl.): Ginza. The Treasure or The Great Book of the Mandaeans . Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen / JC Hinrichs'sche Buchhandlung, Leipzig 1925, p. 200.
  6. Exodus Rabba 18, 5.
  7. Exodus Rabba 21, 7.
  8. Midrash Jalammedenu: Exodus 14:25 .
  9. Targum pseudo-Jonathan on Gen 3 .
  10. Deuteronomy Rabba 11
  11. Hekhalot Rabbati, Chapter 5.
  12. Hebrew Book of Enoch 14, 2.
  13. Hebrew Book of Enoch 6:26.
  14. Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 13-14.
  15. Pirqe de Rabbi Eliezer 45-46.
  16. Genesis Rabba 56, 4.
  17. Genesis Rabba 166.
  18. Willis Barnstone and Marvin Mayer The Gnostic Bible Shambala Boulder 2009 Revised Version page 440 ISBN 978-1--59030-631-4
  19. Madda'ei ha-Jahadut 2, 251-262.
  20. Tarbiz, Volume 4. 1932/33, p. 72.
  21. ^ Hermann Bausinger: Encyclopedia of fairy tales: Concise dictionary for historical and comparative narrative research. Berlin, New York, de Gruyter, 1977. Volume 13. P. 386
  22. Zohar Hadasch 31, 4.
  23. Zohar Hadasch 101; 3.
  24. Tikkunei Zohar 101, 3.
  25. Horst E. Miers : Lexicon of secret knowledge. Goldmann Verlag, Munich 1993, ISBN 3-442-12179-5 . P. 548