Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Solomon's Seal Legend

Joseph Jacobs and M. Seligsohn wrote in the Jewish Encyclopedia:
The legend that Solomon possessed a seal ring on which the name of God was engraved and by means of which he controlled the demons... is especially developed by Arabic writers, who declare that the ring... was partly brass and partly iron. With the brass part of the ring Solomon signed his written commands to the good genii, and with the iron part he signed his commands to the evil genii, or devils...The legend of a magic ring by means of which the possessor could exorcise demons was current in the first century, as is shown by Josephus' statement ("Ant." viii. 2) that one Eleazar exorcised demons in the presence of Vespasian by means of a ring, using incantations composed by Solomon.
The Arabs afterward gave the name of "Solomon's seal" to the six-pointed star-like figure (see Magen, Dawid) engraved on the bottom of their drinking-cups.

1 comment:

zeevveez said...

The Jewish Encyclopedia entry seems to be a narrow interpretation of the seal as the six pointed star. Another source brings the same story with a torally different interpretation -
It was a popular Jewish belief, accepted even by a learned cosmopolitan like Josephus, that Solomon had received the power of expelling demons, and that he had composed and transmitted certain formulæ that were efficacious for that purpose. The Jewish historian records how a certain Eleazar, in the presence of the Emperor Vespasian and his officers, succeeded, by means of a magical ring applied to the nose of a possessed person, in drawing out the demon through the nostrils -- the virtue of the ring being due to the fact that it enclosed a certain rare root indicated in the formulaæ of Solomon, and which it was exceedingly difficult to obtain (Ant. Jud, VIII, ii, 5; cf. Bell. Jud. VII, vi, 3).