Samael

Rabbinical writings describe Samael as the guardian angel of Esau (and the Roman empire) and a patron of Edom. Samael is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is an accuser, seducer, and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil.

He is considered in Talmudic texts to be a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties). One of Samael’s greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the main archangel of death. He remains one of God’s servants even though he condones the sins of man. As an angel, Samael resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven, the reason for this being the presence of the throne of glory in the seventh heaven.

While Satan describes his function as an accuser, Samael is considered to be his proper name. While Michael defends Israel’s actions, Samael tempts people to sin. He is also depicted as the angel of death and one of the seven archangels the ruler over the Fifth Heaven, and commander of two million angels such as the chief of other Satans. Yalkut Shimoni (I, 110) presents Samael as Esau’s guardian angel.

According to The Ascension of Moses Samael is also mentioned as being in 7th Heaven:

In the last heaven Moses saw two angels, each five hundred parasangs in height, forged out of chains of black fire and red fire, the angels Af, “Anger,” and Hemah, “Wrath,” whom God created at the beginning of the world, to execute His will. Moses was disquieted when he looked upon them, but Metatron embraced him, and said, “Moses, Moses, thou favorite of God, fear not, and be not terrified,” and Moses became calm. There was another angel in the seventh heaven, different in appearance from all the others, and of frightful mien. His height was so great, it would have taken five hundred years to cover a distance equal to it, and from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet he was studded with glaring eyes. “This one,” said Metatron, addressing Moses, “is Samael, who takes the soul away from man.” “Whither goes he now?” asked Moses, and Metatron replied, “To fetch the soul of Job the pious.” Thereupon Moses prayed to God in these words, “O may it be Thy will, my God and the God of my fathers, not to let me fall into the hands of this angel.”

In The Holy Kabbalah (Arthur Edward Waite, 255), Samael is described as the “severity of God”, and is listed as fifth of the archangels of the world of Briah. Samael then became the consort of Adam’s first wife, Lilith. Lilith is a demon created alongside Adam, originally created for the role Eve would fill. Samael created with her a host of demon children, including a son, the “Sword of Samael” (or Asmodai).

Samael is sometimes confused in some books with Camael, an archangel of God, whose name is similar to words meaning “like God” (but Camael with a waw missing).

It is also said that the Baal Shem once summoned Samael, to make him do his bidding.

In several interpretations of the Ascension of Isaiah, Samael is often identified as Malkira or Belkira or Bechira, which are all epithets of the false prophet sent by Belial to accuse Isaiah of treason, notably the Ascension of Isaiah also identifies him as Satan.

Demonology

In Christian demonology Samael is sometimes regarded as a powerful demon.

According to some myths, Samael was mated with Eisheth Zenunim, Na’amah, Lilith, and Agrat Bat Mahlat, all except Lilith being ‘angels’ of sacred prostitution.

Mahlat and Agrat are proper names and bat means “daughter of” (Hebrew). Therefore, Agrat bat Mahlat means “Agrat, daughter of Mahlat.” In Zoharistic Kabbalah, she is a queen of the demons and one of four angels of sacred prostitution, who mates with archangel Samael. In the Rabbinic literature of Yalḳuṭ Ḥadash, on the eves of Wednesday and Saturday, she is “the dancing roof-demon” who haunts the air with her chariot and her train of eighteen messengers/Angels of spiritual destruction. She dances while her mother, or possibly grand mother, Lilith howls. She is also “the mistress of the sorceresses” who communicated magic secrets to Amemar, a Jewish sage. According to legend the spirits that Solomon communicated with and its leader Agrat where all placed inside of a Genie lamp like vessel and placed inside of a cave on the cliffs of the Dead Sea. Later after the spirits were cast into the lamp, Agrat bat Mahlat and her lamp was discovered by King David and after this he became very close to its leader spirit Agrat and so she mated with King David and bore him a cambion son Asmodeus, king of demons. Some scholars claim that Asmodeus was only the king of David’s personal demons like greed, lust etc. but the other camp of scholars in the argument is that Asmodeus was king to even yet more unnamed demons. About one-thousand years after the era of Solomon and David, another widely known intervention occurred known as “The spiritual intervention of Hanina ben Dosa and RabbiAbaye” which ended up curbing her malevolent powers over humans. Some authors, such as Donald Tyson, refer to them as manifestations of Lilith. In additions to being manifestations of the first Lilitu known as Lilith, Agrat and her sisters are indeed Lilith’s children she had while she was in Lilitu form and Agrat is humanoid/demonoid entity that came from Lilith when she was in her Lilitu form known as a Lilin.

It should be noted, however, that this link is a dubious one and likely arises from a case of mistaken identity equating Samael with the demon Azazel who is himself in Zoharistic lore a combination of the angels Azael and Aza.

In the Apocryphon of John, found in the Nag Hammadi library, Samael is the third name of the demiurge, whose other names are Yaldabaoth and Saklas. In this context, Samael means “the blind god”, the theme of blindness running throughout gnostic works. His appearance is that of a lion-faced serpent. In On the Origin of the World in the Nag Hammadi library texts, he is also referred to as Ariael, the Archangel of Principalities.

To anthroposophists, Samael is known as one of the seven archangels: Saint Gregory gives the seven archangels as Anael, Gabriel, Michael, Oriphiel, Raphael, Samael, and Zachariel. They are all imagined to have a special assignment to act as a global zeitgeist (“time-spirit”), each for periods of about 360 years.

Since 1879, anthroposophists posit, Michael has been the leading time spirit.

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