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Seal Of Solomon

Updated: Jan 21, 2022

For other uses, see Solomon’s Seal.

One simple form of the Seal

A hexagram on the obverse of Moroccan 4 Falus coin, dated AH 1290 (AD 1873/4).

The Seal of Solomon as seen in the 17th-century grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon.

The Seal of Solomon (or Ring of Solomon; Arabic: خاتم سليمان‎ Khātam Sulaymān) is the signet ring attributed to King Solomon in medieval Arabic tradition, from which it developed in Islamic and Jewish mysticism and in Western occultism. It is the predecessor of the Star of David, which became the symbol of the Jewish people in modern times.

It was often depicted in either a pentagram or hexagram shape. This ring variously gave Solomon the power to command demons, jinn (genies) and spirits, or to speak with animals. Due to the proverbial wisdom of Solomon, his signet ring, or its supposed design, it came to be seen as an amulet or talisman, or a symbol or character in medieval and Renaissance-era magic, occultism, and alchemy.


The name “Solomon’s seal” was given to the hexagram engraved on the bottom of drinking-cups in Arab tradition. In the Arabian Nights (chapter 20), Sindbad presented Harun al-Rashid with such a cup, on which the “Table of Solomon” was engraved.[1]


The legend of the Seal of Solomon was developed primarily by medieval Arabic writers, who related that the ring was engraved by God and was given to the king directly from heaven. The ring was made from brass and iron, and the two parts were used to seal written commands to good and evil spirits, respectively. In one tale, a demon—either Asmodeus or Sakhr—obtained possession of the ring and ruled in Solomon’s stead for forty days. In a variant of the tale of the ring of Polycrates from Herodotus, the demon eventually threw the ring into the sea, where it was swallowed by a fish, caught by a fisherman, and served to Solomon.[2]

The specification of the design of the seal as a [hexagram] seems to arise from a medieval Arab tradition.

Hexagrams feature prominently in Jewish esoteric literature from the early medieval period, and some authors have hypothesized that the tradition of Solomon’s Seal may possibly predate Islam and date to early Rabbinical esoteric tradition, or to early alchemy in Hellenistic Judaism in 3rd-century Egypt, but there is no positive evidence for this, and most scholars assume that the symbol entered the Kabbalistic tradition of medieval Spain from Arabic literature.[3] The representation as a pentagram, by contrast, seems to arise in the Western tradition of Renaissance magic (which was in turn strongly influenced by medieval Arab and Jewish occultism); White Kennett (1660–1728) makes reference to a “pentangle of Solomon” with the power of exorcising demons.[4]

The hexagram or “Star of David”, which became a symbol of Judaism in the modern period and was placed on the flag of Israel in 1948, has its origins in 14th-century depictions of the Seal of Solomon. In 1354, King of Bohemia Charles IV prescribed for the Jews of Prague a red flag with both David’s shield and Solomon’s seal, while the red flag with which the Jews met King Matthias of Hungary in the 15th century showed two pentagrams with two golden stars.[5]

Peter de Abano’s Heptameron (1496) makes reference to the “Pentacle of Solomon” (actually a hexagram is drawn on the floor in which the magician has to stand) to invoke various demons.[6]

Lippmann Moses Büschenthal (d. 1818) wrote a tragedy with the title Der Siegelring Salomonis (“the signet-ring of Solomon”). An “Order of the Seal of Solomon” was established in 1874 in Ethiopia, where the ruling house claimed descent from Solomon.

What distinguishes a Seal of Solomon from a Star of David is the two triangles are interlaced giving the appearance of a 3-dimensional figure. This was said in the Testament of Solomon to make demons confused and dizzy, unable to do Solomon any harm.


In Islamic eschatology, the Beast of the Earth is equipped with both the Staff of Moses and the Seal of Solomon and uses the latter to stamp the nose of the unbelievers.[7]

The date of origin legends surrounding the Seal of Solomon is difficult to establish. It is known that a legend of a magic ring with which the possessor could command demons was already current in the 1st century (Josephus 8.2 telling of one Eleazar who used such a ring in the presence of Vespasian), but the association of the name of Solomon with such a ring is medieval notwithstanding the 2nd century apocryphal text the Testament of Solomon. The Tractate Gittin (fol. 68) of the Talmud has a story involving Solomon, Asmodeus, and a ring with the divine name engraved.[8]

See also


Key of Solomon

The Lesser Key of Solomon

Solomon’s knot

Solomon’s Seal (album)

Testament of Solomon

Seal of Muhammad

Sigil (magic)

Solomon’s Temple

According to the Biblical narrative, Solomon’s Temple, also known as the First Temple, was a temple in Jerusalem (בֵּית־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ: Beit Ha-Miqdash) built under King Solomon’s reign and completed in 957 BCE. The Temple was looted and then destroyed in 586/587 BCE at the hands of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar II,[1] who also deported the Jews to Babylon. The destruction of the temple and the deportation were seen as fulfillments of prophecy and strengthened Judaic religious beliefs.[2]

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) describes how Solomon’s father, David, the great warrior king united the Israelite tribes, captured Jerusalem and brought the Israelite’s central artifact, the Ark of the Covenant, into the city.[3] David chose Mount Moriah in Jerusalem as the site for a future temple to house the Ark, today known as the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif.[2] However, God would not let him build the Temple, for he had “shed much blood.”[4] Instead, his son Solomon, known for being an ambitious builder of public works, built it.[5] He placed the Ark in the Holy of Holies, the windowless innermost room and most sacred area of the Temple.[6] In the Holy of Holies, God’s presence rested. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the room, once per year on the Day of Atonement, carrying the blood of a sacrificial lamb and burning incense.[6]

According to the Bible, the Temple not only served as a religious building, but also as a place of assembly for the Israelites.[2] The Jews who had been deported in the aftermath of the Babylonian conquest were eventually allowed to return and rebuild their temple – known as the Second Temple. But the building no longer housed the Ark, as it had disappeared.[7]

Scholars doubt the veracity of the Biblical account as no evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple has been found and the Temple is not mentioned in extra-Biblical accounts. There is a general agreement that a ritual structure existed on the Temple Mount by the point of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem, however serious doubts remain in attributing it or its construction to Solomon, or any king roughly contemporaneous to his lifetime. Artifacts supposedly proving the existence of Solomon’s Temple – an ivory pomegranate and a ninth century BCE stone tablet – have turned out to be fakes. Many scholars believe that the inscription on a pottery shard known as Ostracon 18 written around 600 BCE references the Temple in Jerusalem. If so, it would be the only extra-Biblical corroboration of the Temple found.


Schmid and Rupprecht are of the view that the site of the temple used to be a Jebusite shrine which Solomon chose in an attempt to unify the Jebusites and Israelites.[13]

In ancient literature

Rabbinic sources[14] state that the First Temple stood for 410 years and, based on the 2nd-century work Seder Olam Rabbah, place construction in 832 BCE and destruction in 422 BCE (3338 AM), 165 years later than secular estimates.[15]

The Jewish historian Josephus says; “the temple was burnt four hundred and seventy years, six months, and ten days after it was built”. The temple was subsequently replaced with the Second Temple in 516 BCE.[16] [additional citation(s) needed]


The exact location of the Temple is unknown: it is believed to have been situated upon the hill which forms the site of the 1st century Second Temple and present-day Temple Mount, where the Dome of the Rock is situated.[17]


Asherah was worshipped until King Josiah

During the United Monarchy the Temple was dedicated to Yahweh, the God of Israel. From the reign of King Manasseh until King Josiah, Baal and “the host of heaven” were also worshipped there.[18]

Until the reforms of King Josiah, there was also a statue for the goddess Asherah (2 Kings 23:6) and priestesses wove ritual textiles for her. (2 Kings 23:7) Next to the temple was a house for the temple prostitutes (2 Kings 23:7)[19] who performed sacred prostitution at the temple.[20] It is unclear whether the prostitutes included both male and female or just male prostitutes.[21]

According to Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Asherah was Yahweh’s consort, and she was worshipped alongside Yahweh.[22][23] According to Richard H. Lowery, Yahweh and Asherah headed a pantheon of other Judean gods that were worshipped at the temple.[24]

The temple had chariots of the sun (2 Kings 23:11) and temple worshipers would face east and bow to the sun. (Ezekiel 8:16) Some Bible scholars, such as Margaret Barker, say that these solar elements indicate a solar cult.[25] They may reflect an earlier Jebusite worship of Zedek[26] or possibly a solarized Yahwism.[27][28]

According to the Tanakh, the Temple housed the Ark of the Covenant. It says the Ark contained the Ten Commandments and was moved from Kiriath Jearim to Jerusalem by David before being moved into Solomon’s temple.[29] However, many biblical scholars believe the story of the Ark was written independently and then incorporated into the main biblical narrative just before the exile into Babylon.[30] Archaeological evidence suggests the Ark may have contained pagan gods and remained in Kiriath Jearim for much longer, possibly until shortly before the Babylonian conquest.[31] Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein believes that the ark never existed.[32]

During the Deuteronomic reform of King Josiah, the cult objects of the sun and Asherah were taken out of the temple and the practice of sacred prostitution and the worship of Baal and the hosts of heaven were stopped.[33]


Main article: Korban

A korban was a kosher animal sacrifice, such as a bull, sheep, goat, or a dove that underwent shechita (Jewish ritual slaughter). Sacrifices could also consist of grain, meal, wine, or incense.[34][35][36] Offerings were often cooked and most of it eaten by the offerer, with parts given to the Kohen priests and small parts burned on the altar of the Temple in Jerusalem. Only in special cases was all of the offering given only to God, such as in the case of the scapegoat.[37][38] Under Josiah, sacrifices were centralized at Solomon’s temple and other places of sacrifice were abolished. The temple became a major slaughtering center and a major part of Jerusalem’s economy.[39]

Biblical narrative


In the Bible book 2 Samuel, Hiram I, the king of the Phoenician city state Tyre, becomes an ally of David, following his conquest of Jerusalem.[40] The friendship continues after Solomon succeeds David and a literary account of how Hiram helps Solomon build the Temple is given in the Bible books 1 Kings chapter 5 to 9 and 2 Chronicles chapter 2 to 7.[41]

Hiram agrees to Solomon’s request to supply him with cedar and cypress tree for the construction of the Temple.[42] He tells Solomon that he will send the trees by sea: “I will make them into rafts to go by the sea to the place that you indicate. I will have them broken up there for you to take away.”[42] In return for the lumber, Solomon sends him wheat and oil.[40] Solomon also brings over a skilled craftsman from Tyre, also called Hiram (or Huram-abi[43]), who oversees the construction of the Temple.[40] Stonemasons from Gebal (Byblos) cuts stones for the Temple.[44]

According to 1 Kings, the foundation of the Temple is laid in Ziv, the second month of the fourth year of Solomon’s reign and construction is completed in Bul, the eighth month of Solomon’s eleventh year, thus taking about seven years.[45] After the Temple and palace (taking an additional 13 years) is completed, Solomon gives Hiram twenty towns in the Galilee as a partial payment for goods delivered.[46] But when Hiram comes to see the towns he isn’t pleased: “What are these towns that you have given me, my brother?” he asks. Though he remains on friendly terms with Solomon.[47]

The Bible book 2 Chronicles fills in some details of the construction not given in 1 Kings. It states that the trees sent as rafts were sent to the city of Joppa on the Mediterranean coast,[42] and in return for the lumber supplied, Solomon, in addition to the wheat and oil, sent wine to Hiram.[48]

Transfer of the Ark of the Covenant

1 Kings 8:1-9 and 2 Chronicles 5:2-10 record that in the seventh month of the year, at the feast of Tabernacles,[49] the priests and the Levites brought the Ark of the Covenant from the City of David and placed it inside the Holy of Holies.


In an artistic representation, King Solomon dedicates the Temple at Jerusalem. (painting by James Tissot or follower, c. 1896–1902)

1 Kings 8:10–66 and 2 Chronicles 6:1–42 recount the events of the temple’s dedication. When the priests emerged from the holy of holies after placing the Ark there, the Temple was filled with an overpowering cloud which interrupted the dedication ceremony,[50] “for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of the Lord [such that] the priests could not stand to minister” (1 Kings 8:10–11; 2 Chronicles 5:13, 14). Solomon interpreted the cloud as “[proof] that his pious work was accepted”:[50]

The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.

I have built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever. (1 Kings 8:12-13)

The allusion is to Leviticus 16:2:[51]

The Lord said to Moses:

Tell your brother Aaron not to come just at any time into the sanctuary inside the curtain before the mercy seat that is upon the ark, or he will die; for I appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.

The Pulpit Commentary notes that “Solomon had thus every warrant for connecting a theophany with the thick dark cloud”.[50]

Solomon then led the whole assembly of Israel in prayer, noting that the construction on the temple represented a fulfilment of God’s promise to David, dedicating the temple as a place of prayer and reconciliation for the people of Israel and for foreigners living in Israel, and highlighting the paradox that God who lives in the heavens cannot really be contained within a single building. The dedication was concluded with musical celebration and sacrifices said to have included “twenty-two thousand bulls and one hundred and twenty thousand sheep”.[52] These sacrifices were offered outside the temple, in “the middle of the court that was in front of the house of the Lord”, because the altar inside the temple, despite its extensive dimensions,[53] was not big enough for the offerings being made that day.[54][55] The celebration lasted eight days and was attended by “very great assembly [gathered] from the entrance of Hamath to the Brook of Egypt”.[56] The subsequent feast of Tabernacles extended the whole celebration to 14 days,[57] before the people were “sent away to their homes”.[58]

After the dedication, Solomon hears in a dream that God has heard his prayer, and God will continue to hear the prayers of the people of Israel if they adopt the four ways in which they could move God to action: humility, prayer, seeking his face, and turning from wicked ways.[59] Conversely, if they turn aside and forsake God’s commandments and worship other gods, then God will abandon the temple: “this house which I have sanctified for My name I will cast out of My sight”.[60]

Joash’s restoration

2 Kings 12:1–17 and 2 Chronicles 24:1–14 recount that King Joash and the priests of the temple organised a restoration programme funded from popular donations. The temple was restored to its original condition and further reinforced.[61]

Plunder and destruction

According to the Tanakh, the Temple was plundered by the Neo-Babylonian Empire king Nebuchadnezzar II when the Babylonians attacked Jerusalem during the brief reign of Jehoiachin c. 598 BCE (2 Kings 24:13). A decade later, Nebuchadnezzar again besieged Jerusalem and after 30 months finally breached the city walls in 587 BCE, subsequently burning the Temple, along with most of the city (2 Kings 25). According to Jewish tradition, the Temple was destroyed on Tisha B’Av, the 9th day of Av (Hebrew calendar).[62]


Plan of Solomon’s Temple, published 1905

Plan of Solomon’s Temple with measurements

Solomon’s Temple is considered to be built according to Phoenician design, and its description is considered the best description of what a Phoenician temple looked like.[63] The detailed descriptions provided in the Tanakh are the sources for reconstructions of its appearance. Technical details are lacking, since the scribes who wrote the books were not architects or engineers.[64] Nevertheless, the descriptions have inspired modern replicas of the temple and influenced later structures around the world.

Archeologists categorize the Biblical description of Solomon’s Temple as a langbau building. That is, a rectangular building that is longer than it is wide. It is furthermore classified as a tripartite building, consisting of three units; the ulam (porch), the heikal (sanctuary), and the debir (the Holy of Holies). It is also categorized as being a straight-axis temple, meaning that there is a straight line from the entrance to the innermost shrine.[65]


The ulam, or porch, featured two bronze pillars Jachin and Boaz. It is unclear from the biblical descriptions whether the porch was a closed room, a roofed entranceway, or an open courtyard.[66] Thus, it is not known whether the pillars were freestanding or structural elements built into the porch. If they were built into the porch, it could indicate that the design was influenced by similar temples in Syria or even Turkey, home to the ancient Hittite empire. While most reconstructions of the Temple have the pillars freestanding,[67] Yosef Garfinkel and Madeleine Mumcuoglu finds it likely that the pillars supported a roof over the porch.[66]

Sanctuary (main chamber)

The porch led to the heikal, main chamber, or sanctuary. It measured 40 cubits in length, 20 cubits in width, and 30 cubits in height and contained a candelabrum, a table and a gold-covered altar used for offerings.[66][68] In the sanctuary, loaves of Showbread was left as an offering to God.[68] At the far end of the sanctuary there was a wooden door, guarded by two cherubim, leading to the Holy of Holies.[67][68]

The walls of the sanctuary were lined with cedar, on which were carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers, which were overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:29-30). Chains of gold further marked it off from the Holy of Holies. The floor of the Temple was of fir overlaid with gold. The doorposts, of olivewood, supported folding doors of fir. The doors of the Holy of Holies were of olivewood. On both sets of doors were carved cherubim, palm trees, and flowers, all being overlaid with gold (1 Kings 6:15 et seq.) This main building was between the outer altar, where most sacrifices were performed, and inside at the far end was the entry to the Holy of Holies, originally containing the Ark of the Covenant. The main hekhal contained a number of sacred ritual objects including the seven-branched candlestick, a golden Altar of Incense, and the table of the showbread. According to 1 Kings 7:48 these tables were of gold, as were also the five candlesticks on each side of the altar. The candle–tongs, basins, snuffers, fire-pans, and even the hinges of the doors were also gold.

Holy of Holies

The Holy of Holies, also called the “Inner House,” was 20 cubits in length, breadth, and height. The usual explanation for the discrepancy between its height and the 30-cubit height of the temple is that its floor was elevated, like the cella of other ancient temples.[64] It was floored and wainscotted with cedar of Lebanon, and its walls and floor were overlaid with gold amounting to 600 talents or roughly 20 metric tons. It contained two cherubim of olive-wood, each 10 cubits high and each having outspread wings of 10 cubits span, so that, since they stood side by side, the wings touched the wall on either side and met in the center of the room. There was a two-leaved door between it and the Holy Place overlaid with gold; also a veil of tekhelet (blue), purple, and crimson and fine linen. It had no windows and was considered the dwelling-place of the “name” of God.[citation needed]

The Holy of Holies was prepared to receive and house the Ark; and when the Temple was dedicated, the Ark, containing the original tablets of the Ten Commandments, was placed beneath the cherubim.[citation needed]

Surrounding chambers

Chambers were built around the Temple on the southern, western and northern sides (1 Kings 6:5–10). These formed a part of the building and were used for storage. They were probably one story high at first; two more may have been added later.[64]


According to the Bible, two courts surrounded the Temple. The Inner Court (1 Kings 6:36), or Court of the Priests (2 Chr. 4:9), was separated from the space beyond by a wall of three courses of hewn stone, surmounted by cedar beams (1 Kings 6:36). It contained the Altar of burnt-offering (2 Chr. 15:8), the Brazen Sea laver (4:2–5, 10) and ten other lavers (1 Kings 7:38, 39). A brazen altar stood before the Temple (2 Kings 16:14), its dimensions 20 cubits square and 10 cubits high (2 Chr. 4:1). The Great Court surrounded the whole Temple (2 Chr. 4:9). It was here that people assembled to worship. (Jeremiah 19:14; 26:2).

Molten Sea

Main article: Molten Sea

Molten Sea illustration in the Holman Bible, 1890

According to the Hebrew Bible, the Molten Sea or Brazen Sea (ים מוצק “cast metal sea”) was a large basin in the Temple for ablution of the priests. It is described in 1 Kings 7:23–26 and 2 Chronicles 4:2–5. It stood in the south-eastern corner of the inner court. According to the Bible it was five cubits high, ten cubits in diameter from brim to brim, and thirty cubits in circumference. The brim was “like the calyx of a lily” and turned outward “about an hand breadth”; or about four inches. It was placed on the backs of twelve oxen, standing with their faces outward. The Book of Kings states that it contains 2,000 baths (90 cubic meters), while Chronicles (2 Chr. 4:5–6) states it can hold up to 3,000 baths (136 cubic meters) and states that its purpose was to afford opportunity for the purification by immersion of the bodies of the priests.

The fact that it was a wash basin which was too large to enter from above lends to the idea that water would likely have flowed from it down into a subcontainer beneath. The water was originally supplied by the Gibeonites, but was afterwards brought by a conduit from Solomon’s Pools. The molten sea was made of brass or bronze, which Solomon had taken from the captured cities of Hadarezer, the king of Zobah (1 Chronicles 18:8). Ahaz later removed this laver from the oxen, and placed it on a stone pavement (2 Kings 16:17). It was destroyed by the Chaldeans (2 Kings 25:13).

Also outside the temple were 10 lavers, each of which held “forty baths” (1 Kings 7:38), resting on portable holders made of bronze, provided with wheels, and ornamented with figures of lions, cherubim, and palm-trees. The author of the books of the Kings describes their minute details with great interest (1 Kings 7:27–37). Josephus reported that the vessels in the Temple were composed of orichalcum covered in gold in Antiquities of the Jews.


Because of the religious and political sensitivities involved, no archaeological excavations and only limited surface surveys of the Temple Mount have been conducted since Charles Warren’s expedition of 1867–70.[69][70][71] There is no archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon’s Temple, and the building is not mentioned in surviving extra-biblical accounts.[10] Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman argue that the first Jewish temple in Jerusalem was not built until the end of the 7th century BCE, around three hundred years after Solomon.[10] They believe the temple should not really be assigned to Solomon, who they see as little more than a small-time hill country chieftain, and argue that it was most likely built by Josiah, who governed Judah from 639 to 609 BCE.[10]

Sources mentioning the First Temple

An ostracon (excavated prior to 1981), sometimes referred to as the House of Yahweh ostracon, was discovered at Tel Arad, dated to 6th century BCE which mentions a temple which is probably the Temple in Jerusalem.[72]

A thumb-sized ivory pomegranate (which came to light in 1979) measuring 44 millimetres (1.7 in) in height, and bearing an ancient Hebrew inscription “Sacred donation for the priests in the House of —h,]”, was believed to have adorned a sceptre used by the high priest in Solomon’s Temple. It was considered the most important item of biblical antiquities in the Israel Museum’s collection.[73] However, in 2004, the Israel Antiquities Authority reported the inscription to be a forgery, though the ivory pomegranate itself was dated to the 14th or 13th century BCE.[74] This was based on the report’s claim that three incised letters in the inscription stopped short of an ancient break, as they would have if carved after the ancient break was made. Since then, it has been proven that one of the letters was indeed carved prior to the ancient break, and the status of the other two letters are in question. Some paleographers and others have continued to insist that the inscription is ancient, some dispute this so the authenticity of this writing is still the object of discussion.[75]

Another artifact, the Jehoash Inscription, which first came to notice in 2003, contains a 15-line description of King Jehoash’s ninth-century BCE restoration of the Temple. Its authenticity was called into question by a report by the Israel Antiquities Authority, which said that the surface patina contained microfossils of foraminifera. As these fossils do not dissolve in water, they cannot occur in a calcium carbonate patina, leading initial investigators to conclude that the patina must be an artificial chemical mix applied to the stone by forgers. As of late 2012, the academic community is split on whether the tablet is authentic or not. Commenting on a 2012 report by geologists arguing for the authenticity of the inscription, in October 2012, Hershel Shanks (who believes the inscription is genuine) wrote the current situation was that most Hebrew language scholars believe that the inscription is a forgery and geologists that it is genuine, and thus “Because we rely on experts, and because there is an apparently irresolvable conflict of experts in this case, BAR has taken no position with respect to the authenticity of the Jehoash Inscription.”[76]

Temple Mount Sifting Project

By 2006, the Temple Mount Sifting Project had recovered numerous artifacts dating from the 8th to 7th centuries BCE from soil removed in 1999 by the Islamic Religious Trust (Waqf) from the Solomon’s Stables area of the Temple Mount. These include stone weights for weighing silver and a First Temple period bulla, or seal impression.[77][dubious – discuss]

Objects found next to the Temple Mount

In 2018 and a few years previously, two First Temple period stone weights used for weighing half-shekel Temple donations were found during excavations under Robinson’s Arch at the foot of the Temple Mount. The tiny artifacts, inscribed with the word beka, which is known from related contexts in the Hebrew Bible, were used to weigh silver pieces on a scale, possibly at the very spot where they were unearthed.[78][79]


In 2007, artifacts dating to the 8th to 6th centuries BCE were described as being possibly the first physical evidence of human activity at the Temple Mount during the First Temple period. The findings included animal bones; ceramic bowl rims, bases, and body sherds; the base of a juglet used to pour oil; the handle of a small juglet; and the rim of a storage jar.[80][81][dubious – discuss]

Other contemporary temples

There is archaeological and written evidence of three Israelite temples, either contemporary or of very close date, dedicated to Yahweh (Elephantine temple, probably Arad too), either in the Land of Israel or in Egypt. Two of them have the same general outline as given by the Bible for the Jerusalem Temple.

The Israelite temple at Tel Arad in Judah, 10th to 8th/7th century BCE[82] and possibly dedicated to Yahweh[83] and Asherah.[84]

The Jewish temple at Elephantine in Egypt, already standing in 525 BCE[85]

The Israelite temple at Tel Motza, c. 750 BCE discovered in 2012 a few kilometres west of Jerusalem.

Several Iron Age temples have been found in the region that have striking similarities to the Temple of King Solomon. In particular the Ain Dara (archaeological site), Ain Dara temple in northern Syria with a similar age, size, plan and decorations.[86]

Spiritual legacy


Rituals in Freemasonry refer to King Solomon and the building of his Temple.[87] Masonic buildings, where lodges and their members meet, are sometimes called “temples”; an allegoric reference to King Solomon’s Temple.[88]


The Temple in Jerusalem is mentioned in verse 7 of the surah Al-Isra in the Quran with the words ” (We permitted your enemies) to…. enter your Temple”; commentators of Quran such as Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur[89] postulate that this verse refers specifically to the Temple of Solomon.


Kabbalah views the design of the Temple of Solomon as representative of the metaphysical world and the descending light of the creator through Sefirot of the Tree of Life. The levels of the outer, inner and priest’s courts represent three lower worlds of Kabbalah. The Boaz and Jachin pillars at the entrance of the temple represent the active and passive elements of the world of Atziluth. The original menorah and its seven branches represent the seven lower Sephirot of the Tree of Life. The veil of the Holy of Holies and the inner part of the temple represent the Veil of the Abyss on the Tree of Life, behind which the Shekhinah or Divine Presence hovers.[90]

Popular culture

Solomon’s Temple appears in Solomon and Sheba (1959) and in the novel King Solomon’s Mines (1885). It also appears in the video game Assassin’s Creed where the main character Altaïr Ibn-La’Ahad deal with Robert de Sablé.[91][92] It appears too on Assassin’s Creed Unity (2014) where the Knight Templar Jacques de Molay is burned and died.[93][94]

The hekhal in synagogue architecture

The same architectural layout of the temple was adopted in synagogues leading to the hekhal being applied in Sephardi usage to the Ashkenazi Torah ark, the equivalent of the nave.[95]

See also

Israel portal


Aish tamid, eternal flame on Temple altar

Solomonic column, spiraling column

Solomon’s shamir, worm or a substance that had the power to cut through or disintegrate stone, iron and diamond

Temple denial, Palestinian theory





Yosef Elboim



City of David

Mount Moriah

Old St. Peter’s Basilica

Siloam tunnel

Siloam inscription

Similar Iron Age temples from the region[edit]

‘Ain Dara temple[96]

Ebla (Temple D)[96]

Emar temple[96]

Mumbaqat temple[96]

Tell Tayinat temple (8th century BCE)[96]


Demonology is the study of demons or beliefs about demons, and the hierarchy of demons. They may be nonhuman, separable souls, or discarnate spirits which have never inhabited a body. A sharp distinction is often drawn between these two classes, notably by the Melanesians, several African groups, and others. The Islamic jinn, for example, are not reducible to modified human souls. At the same time these classes are frequently conceived as producing identical results, e.g. diseases.[1][2][3]

Prevalence of demons

“Nightmare”, 1800, by Nikolaj Abraham Abildgaard.

According to some societies, all the affairs of the universe are supposed to be under the control of spirits, each ruling a certain “element” or even object, and themselves in subjection to a greater spirit.[4] For example, the Inuit are said to believe in spirits of the sea, earth and sky, the winds, the clouds and everything in nature. Every cove of the seashore, every point, every island and prominent rock has its guardian spirit.[1] All are potentially of the malignant type, to be propitiated by an appeal to knowledge of the supernatural.[5] Traditional Korean belief posits countless demons inhabit the natural world; they fill household objects and are present in all locations. By the thousands they accompany travelers, seeking them out from their places in the elements.[1]

Greek philosophers such as Porphyry, who claimed influence from Platonism,[6] and the fathers of the Christian Church, held that the world was pervaded with spirits,[1] the latter of whom advanced the belief that demons received the worship directed at pagan gods.[7]

Character of the spiritual world

The ascription of malevolence to the world of spirits is by no means universal. In Central Africa, the Mpongwe believe in local spirits, just as do the Inuit; but they are regarded as inoffensive in the main. Passers-by must make some trifling offering as they near the spirits’ place of abode; but it is only occasionally mischievous acts, such as the throwing down of a tree on a passer-by, are, in the view of the natives, perpetuated by the class of spirits known as Ombuiri.[1][8]

So too many of the spirits, especially concerned with the operations of nature, are conceived as neutral or even benevolent; the European peasant fears the corn-spirit only when he irritates him by trenching on his domain and taking his property by cutting the corn;[9] similarly, there is no reason why the more insignificant personages of the pantheon should be conceived as malevolent, and we find that the Petara of the Dyaks are far from indiscriminate and malignant,[1] being viewed as invisible guardians of mankind.[10]


Demons are generally classified as spirits which are believed to enter into relations with the human race. As such the term includes:

angels in the Christian tradition that fell from grace,[3]

malevolent genii or familiars,[11]

such as receive a cult (e.g., ancestor worship),[3]

ghosts or other malevolent revenants.[12]

Excluded are souls conceived as inhabiting another world. Yet just as gods are not necessarily spiritual, demons may also be regarded as corporeal; vampires for example are sometimes described as human heads with appended entrails, which issue from the tomb to attack the living during the night watches. The so-called Spectre Huntsman of the Malay Peninsula is said to be a man who scours the firmament with his dogs, vainly seeking for what he could not find on Earth: a buck mouse-deer pregnant with male offspring; but he seems to be a living man; there is no statement that he ever died, nor yet that he is a spirit. The incubi and succubi of the Middle Ages are sometimes regarded as spiritual beings; but they were held to give proof of their bodily existence,[1] such as offspring (though often deformed).[13] Belief in demons goes back many millennia. The Zoroastrian faith teaches that there are 3,333 Demons, some with specific dark responsibilities such as war, starvation, sickness, etc.

Ancient Mesopotamian religion

Ancient Sumerian cylinder seal impression showing the god Dumuzid being tortured in the underworld by galla demons

The ancient Mesopotamians believed that the underworld (Kur) was home to many demons,[14] which are sometimes referred to as “offspring of arali”.[14] These demons could sometimes leave the underworld and terrorize mortals on earth.[14] One class of demons that were believed to reside in the underworld were known as galla;[15] their primary purpose appears to have been to drag unfortunate mortals back to Kur.[15] They are frequently referenced in magical texts,[16] and some texts describe them as being seven in number.[16] Several extant poems describe the galla dragging the god Dumuzid into the underworld.[17] Like other demons, however, galla could also be benevolent[17] and, in a hymn from King Gudea of Lagash (c. 2144 – 2124 BCE), a minor god named Ig-alima is described as “the great galla of Girsu”.[17] Demons had no cult in Mesopotamian religious practice since demons “know no food, know no drink, eat no flour offering and drink no libation.”[18]

Abrahamic religions


Christian demonology is the study of demons from a Christian point of view. It is primarily based on the Bible (Old Testament and New Testament), the exegesis of scriptures, the writings of early Christian philosophers and hermits, tradition, and legends incorporated from other beliefs.

Some scholars[who?] suggest the origins of early Greek Old Testament demonology can be traced to two distinctive and often competing mythologies of evil – Adamic and Enochic, one of which was tied to the fall of man caused by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the other to the fall of angels in the antediluvian period.[19] Thus, the Adamic story traces the source of evil to Satan’s transgression and the fall of man, a trend reflected in the Books of Adam and Eve which explains the reason for Satan’s demotion by his refusal to obey God’s command to venerate newly created Adam.

In contrast, the early Enochic tradition bases its understanding of the origin of demons on the story of the fallen Watchers led by Azazel. Scholars[who?] believe these two enigmatic figures – Azazel and Satan exercised formative influence on early Jewish demonology. While in the beginning of their conceptual journeys Azazel and Satan are posited as representatives of two distinctive and often rival trends tied to the distinctive etiologies of corruption, in later Jewish and Christian demonological lore both antagonists are able to enter each other’s respective stories in new conceptual capacities. In these later traditions Satanael is often depicted as the leader of the fallen angels while his conceptual rival Azazel is portrayed as a seducer of Adam and Eve.[20] While historical Judaism never recognized any set of doctrines about demons,[21] scholars[who?] believe its post-exilic concepts of eschatology, angelology, and demonology were influenced by Zoroastrianism.[22][23] Some, however, believe these concepts were received as part of the Kabbalistic tradition.[24] While many people believe today Lucifer and Satan are different names for the same being, not all scholars subscribe to this view.[25]

A number of authors throughout Christian history have written about demons for a variety of purposes. Theologians like Thomas Aquinas wrote concerning the behaviors of which Christians should be aware,[26] while witchhunters like Heinrich Kramer wrote about how to find and what to do with people they believed were involved with demons.[27] Some texts such as the Lesser Key of Solomon[28] or The Grimoire of Pope Honorius (although these, the earliest manuscripts, were from well after these individuals had died) are written with instructions on how to summon demons in the name of God and often were claimed to have been written by individuals respected within the Church.[29] These latter texts were usually more detailed, giving names, ranks, and descriptions of demons individually and categorically.[30] Most Christians commonly reject these texts as either diabolical or fictitious.[30]

In modern times, some demonological texts have been written by Christians, usually in a similar vein of Thomas Aquinas, explaining their effects in the world and how faith may lessen or eliminate damage by them.[31] A few Christian authors, such as Jack Chick and John Todd, write with intentions similar to Kramer, proclaiming that demons and their human agents are active in the world.[32] These claims can stray from mainstream ideology, and may include such beliefs as that Christian rock is a means through which demons influence people.

Not all Christians believe that demons exist in the literal sense. There is the view that the language of exorcism in the New Testament is an example of what was once employed to describe the healings of what would be classified in modern days as epilepsy, mental illness etc.[33]


Islam has no doctrinal hierarchy of demonology. Even though some Muslim scholars tried to classify jinn and demons, there is no established classification and terms for jinn may overlap or be used interchangeably. Naming the jinn also depends on cultural influences. Julius Wellhausen states, that Islamic demonology is also zoology.[34] Many demonic or demon-like entities are not purely spiritual, but also physical in nature and related to animals. One prominent classification is made by Jahiz:[35]

Angel: a jinni, which is pure and good[36]

Amir: a jinni, who lives among humans

Shaitan: a malicious and rebellious jinn

Marid: a stronger type of jinn, trying to steal information from heaven

Ifrit: the most powerful type of jinn

The German orientalist Almut Wieland-Karimi classified the Jinn in the ten most common categories mentioned in folklore literature:[37]

Jinn or Jann: ordinary jinn, a class apart from other jinn types, but also used as a collective to refer to invisible beings in general

Shaitan: Malevolent jinni, who causes illness and madness

Ifrit: delimitation to ordinary jinn remains unclear. Can be either a powerful cunning Jinn or strong Shaitan. Ifrits are generally bad.

Marid: a haughty and powerful Shaitan or very malevolent Ifrit.

Bu’Bu: a jinn that frightens children.

Si’lah: a female demon who seduces men.

Amir: spirits dwelling in houses.

Ghul: generally evil, lives in the desert.

Qarînah: name for a specific demon strangling children.

Hatif: a mysterious phenomenon, which can only be heard but never seen.

The Ghul and the Si’lah often challenge orientalists to tell them apart, because both are shapeshifters also appearing as females to seduce men. A Ghul in Arabic meaning, term for any shapeshifting spirit, including the Si’lah.[38] Furthermore, Marid and Ifrit may be hard to distinguish, since they are often used interchangeably, for example in “One Thousand and One Nights “. However both entities have properties apart from the other. The Ifrit is also related to the ghosts of the dead, seeking revenge, unlike the Marid. On the other hand, the Marid is related to those assistants of truthsayers, striving to heaven to access informations from the angels, while the Ifrit does not.

Additionally the Peri and the Daeva are kinds of Jinn in Persian lore. While the Daeva are akin to the Shayateen, subordinates of Satan, the Peris are good Jinn fighting the Daeva. However the Peri may endanger people, if they become angered.[39]:185

Ahmad al-Buni relates four Ifrits to archdemons, diametric opposites to the four archangels of Islam. They have their own Shayātīn (plural of “Shaytan”) under command, and are subordinate to Iblis, who is thought to be the leader of Shayātīn.[40]


Judaism does not have a demonology or any set of doctrines about demons.[21] Use of the name “Lucifer” stems from Isaiah 14:3–20, a passage which does speak of the defeat of a particular Babylonian King, to whom it gives a title which refers to what in English is called the Day Star or Morning Star (in Latin, lucifer, meaning “light-bearer”, from the words lucem ferre).[25]

There is more than one instance in Jewish medieval myth and lore where demons are said to have come to be, as seen by the Grigori angels, of Lilith leaving Adam, of demons such as vampires, unrest spirits in Jewish folklore such as the dybbuk.[41][42]


Traditionally, Buddhism affirms the existence of hells[43] peopled by demons who torment sinners and tempt mortals to sin, or who seek to thwart their enlightenment, with a demon named Mara as chief tempter, “prince of darkness,” or “Evil One” in Sanskrit sources.[44][45]

The followers of Mara were also called mara, the devils, and are frequently cited as a cause of disease or representations of mental obstructions.[45] The mara became fully assimilated into the Chinese worldview, and were called mo.

The idea of the imminent decline and collapse of the Buddhist religion amid a “great cacophony of demonic influences” was already a significant component of Buddhism when it reached China in the first century A.D., according to Michel Strickmann.[45] Demonic forces had attained enormous power in the world. For some writers of the time this state of affairs had been ordained to serve the higher purpose of effecting a “preliminary cleansing” that would purge and purify humanity in preparation for an ultimate, messianic renewal.[45]

Medieval Chinese Buddhist demonology was heavily influenced by Indian Buddhism. Indian demonology is also fully and systematically described in written sources, though during Buddhism’s centuries of direct influence in China, “Chinese demonology was whipped into respectable shape,” with a number of Indian demons finding permanent niches even in Taoist ritual texts.[45]

Also, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, a major Mahayana Buddhist text, describes fifty demonic states: the so-called fifty skandha maras, which are “negative” mirror-like reflections of or deviations from correct samādhi (meditative absorption) states. In this context demons are considered by Buddhists to be beings possessing some supernatural powers, who, in the past, might have practiced Dharma, the Buddha’s teaching, but due to practicing it incorrectly failed to develop true wisdom and true compassion, which are inseparable attributes of an enlightened being such as a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. In his autobiography, The Blazing Splendor, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, a prominent Tibetan Buddhist master of the 20th century describes encounters with such beings. Therefore, depending on the context, in Buddhism demons may refer to both disturbed mind states and actual beings.


Vedic Scriptures include a range of spirits (Vetalas, Rakshasas, Bhutas and Pishachas) that might be classified as demons. These spirits are souls of beings that have committed certain specific sins. As a purging punishment, they are condemned to roam without a physical form for a length of time, until a rebirth. Beings that died with unfulfilled desires or anger are also said to “linger” until such issues are resolved. Hindu text Atharvaveda gives an account of nature and habitats of such spirits including how to persuade/control them. There are occult traditions in Hinduism that seek to control such spirits to do their bidding. Hindu text Garuda Purana details other kinds of punishments and judgments given out in Hell; this also given an account of how the spirit travels to nether worlds.


In the Zoroastrian tradition, Ahura Mazda, as the force of good Spenta Mainyu, will eventually be victorious in a cosmic battle with an evil force known as Angra Mainyu or Ahriman.[46]

See also

Classification of demons

Deal with the Devil

Demonic possession



Hierarchy of angels

List of theological demons


Nicolas Remy

Spirit world

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