The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia


Pseudepigraphic treatise on the forms and activities of demons and the charms effective against them. Extracts from the work are given by Fabricius ("Codex Pseudepig. Vet. Test." i. 1047) from the notes of Gilbertus Gaulminus on Psellus' tract "De Operatione Dæmonum," but the full text was first published (as far as appears) by F.F. Fleck in his "Wissenschaftl. Reise" (ii. 3); he states (ib. i. 2) that he found the Greek manuscript in the Royal Library at Paris, and that, apparently, it had never been published. An annotated German translation is given by Bornemann in Ilgen's "Zeitschrift für Hist. Theologie," 1844, and the Greek text is printed, with Latin translation, in Migne's "Patrologia Græco-Latina," vol. cxxii., as an appendix to the treatise of Psellus. The text seems to have suffered at the hands of scribes.

The Testament professes to be Solomon's own account of certain experiences of his during the building of the Temple. Learning that his chief overseer was plagued by a demon who every evening took the half of his wages and his food, and drew the life out of him by sucking the thumb of his right hand, he appealed for help to God, and received through the angel Michael a seal-ring of magic power. With this he controlled the offending demon, and forced him to bring the chief of the demons, Beelzebub. The latter then was compelled to bring another, and he another, till there had appeared before the king a great number of them, of both sexes, and of such variety and dreadfulness of form as the imagination of the author could conceive. To each Solomon addresses a series of questions: the demon is compelled to give his name and abode (especially to say with what star he is connected), his origin (from what angel), to describe his malefic functions, to say what angelhas power over him, and, in some cases, to tell the word (usually a divine name) by which he may be driven away. Some of the names of the angels and demons are familiar; others are strange or unintelligible, perhaps corrupt forms. Probably they were not invented by the author (though this may be true of some of them), but were the product of centuries of magical tradition. At the end of the Testament, Solomon's fall into idolatry and his consequent loss of power over the demons are attributed to his infatuation for a Jebusite woman, who acquired power over him by magic.

The book is a crude formulation of conceptions regarding demonic power that were almost universal in the Jewish and the Christian world for many centuries (see Magic). The belief that Solomon had power over demons is found as early as Josephus ("Ant." viii. 2, §, 5); the Book of Enoch shows the disposition to multiply demonic names; and the character of Asmodeus in the Testament is taken from the Book of Tobit. The demonological literature of the first thousand years of the common era is enormous. The author of the Testament was a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian: the demons, it is said, will rule the world till the Son of God, who is spoken of as born of a virgin, shall be hung on the cross. The date of the work can not be fixed precisely. Bornemann discovers a close resemblance between its demonological conceptions and those of the "Institutiones" of Lactantius (about the year 300), and it is probable that it belongs not far from that time.

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