Solomon, Testament of

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SOLOMON, TESTAMENT OF , pseudepigraphic work written in Greek, of uncertain date. King Solomon, the narrator, states that during the construction of the Temple his overseer was plagued by the demon Ornias. In answer to the king's prayers, the angel Michael appeared and gave Solomon a ring with which he exorcized the demon. He then summoned up one spirit after another, both male and female, subdued each, and compelled them to assist in the building of the Temple. The queen of the south visited him and marveled. Aderes, king of the Arabs, turned to him when his people were plagued by a demon, and Solomon sent a servant with the ring to subdue and remove it. Solomon then relates his transgressions – how he took many wives; how he sacrificed five locusts to *Moloch in order to obtain the hand of the Jebusite girl; how she persuaded him to build temples to Baal and other gods – which caused him to lose his supernatural powers. In his encounters with the demons Solomon asks each his name, his powers, the angel to whom he is subject, and the means by which he is subdued. The stress on a knowledge of the name and particulars of a demon is common in the demonology of many cultures and is especially pertinent to exorcism. Some of the demons, such as Abezethibod (אב עצות אובד, Av Eẓot Oved?), the demon of the Red Sea, Asmodeus, and Beelzebub (Beelzebul; a Greek variant of Beelzebub) are of Oriental origin. Most bear Greek names. Of these, some are concretized evil traits such as are found in classical myths (e.g., Phtonos, jealousy; Eris, strife). Others show affinities to figures of Greco-Roman myth and cult: Obizouth with her dragon-like hair is a Medusa type; Cynopaston, a sea demon, is reminiscent of Poseidon; Onoscelis seems to be the empousa; the dog-shaped Rhabdos and the three-headed serpent are similar to creatures such as Cerberus, the dog of Hades, and the multiheaded Hydra.

Parallel material on Solomon's encounters with demons in Josephus (Ant., 8:45ff.) and midrashic sources (e.g., Git. 68) shows that the Testament contains elements which are considered Jewish; mention of the crucifixion and like references point to Christian elements. Such a syncretistic blend of Jewish, Christian, Oriental, and Hellenic motifs is typical of the demonological and magical literature and papyri emanating from Egypt in the first centuries of the common era. Scholars suggest between c. 100 c.e. and c. 300 c.e. as possible dates of composition. Editions of the Testament of Solomon were published in Patrologia Graeca (122 (1899), 1315–58), and by C.C. Mc-Cown (ed.), The Testament of Solomon (1922).


F.C. Conybeare, in: jqr, 11 (1898/99), 1–45; je, 11 (1907), 448f.; Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1913), 150–4; 6 (1928), 292f.

[Jacob Petroff]

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Solomon, Testament of

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