Judean wisdom: Testament of Solomon on Solomon’s superiority in controlling lower spirits and in healing (first-third century CE)

Citation with stable link: Philip A. Harland, 'Judean wisdom: Testament of Solomon on Solomon’s superiority in controlling lower spirits and in healing (first-third century CE),' Ethnic Relations and Migration in the Ancient World, last modified April 15, 2024, https://philipharland.com/Blog/?p=16899.

Ancient author: 3 Kingdoms 5:9-14 (// 1 Kings 4:29-34) (for context); Anonymous, Testament of Solomon, entire work (link; link to Greek text).

Comments: We have already encountered Josephos casting the Israelite king Solomon as the ideal wise man, healer, and expert in techniques that overlap considerably with those usually associated with Persian Magians and Babylonian Chaldeans (link). In doing so, Josephos was drawing on broader Israelite or Judean (Jewish) traditions that likewise sought to have Judeans come out on top in a competition among ostensibly wise peoples of the east. The present post is about another writing that also expands on the statement about Solomon in the Bible (3 Kingdoms 5:9-14 // 1 Kings 4:29-34) and attempts to achieve a similar aim by way of having Solomon himself write about his own special skills (notwithstanding his later decline due to intermarriage with foreigners) as a final testament before his death.

The traditions represented in this Judean Testament of Solomon likely date to sometime in the first three centuries CE and these come down to us with some limited Christianizing edits here and there. The work has Solomon explaining to the reader about the various lower spirits, or “demons” (daimones), and the powers they hold. But the main purpose of Solomon’s instruction is to thwart the lower spirits’ activities by means of knowing which angels have power over specific lower spirits and by means of a special ring. Since many (though not all) of the lower spirits’ areas of expertise pertain to causing physical ailments to human bodies, this is also a guide to healing (and simultaneously exorcism) which sometimes employs plants or properties from other natural phenomena. Added on top of this is the idea that these lower spirits also relate to celestial movements, and so Solomon is simultaneously an expert in astrology. Solomon’s control over these lower spirits also means he can put these beings to work on building his temple, which is a running thread throughout this work.

This somewhat unusual conglomeration of expertise in various areas is no accident. Although Magian skill is rarely expressly mentioned in this document (but do see the important reference in chapter 15), the combination of skills attributed to Solomon match those usually associated with Zoroaster, the Persian Magians and, to a lesser degree, the Babylonian Chaldeans. Added is a Judean spin of course, including the involvement of Judean angels. As Pliny the Elder (link) and other ancient authors on this site clarify, Magian skill was thought to combine three main areas of expertise: knowledge of healing using properties of natural phenomena such as plants, animals, and stones; knowledge about the relation of stars and celestial bodies (gods / spirits / angels) to human life (i.e. astrology); and, knowledge about rituals for various purposes, including the use of chants and communication with the dead (necromancy). This ritual expertise included various forms of reading messages from the gods (i.e. divination), but also involved knowledge about the secret means (invocations, incantations, secret phrases, potions) for controlling and countering harmful spirits or demons (again corresponding to celestial phenomena).

So the Israelite king Solomon ends up being the ultimate Magian or Zoroaster-like figure in some respects. The rulers of other nearby peoples (Sheba and Arabia) come to acknowledge Solomon’s great wisdom and expertise in thwarting lower spirits. In the case of the Arabians, Solomon’s successful advice on how to rid Arabia of a wind-demon results in the incorporation of Arabian peoples under Solomon’s rule.

My reading here tends towards the view that much of the material we see in the Testament of Solomon (although varying from manuscript to manuscript on details) was already largely configured together in the first centuries CE (cf. Klutz 2003; Cason 2015), rather than compiled later in the middle ages from earlier, independent (but ancient) traditions (Schwarz 2007).

Works consulted: T.S. Cason, “Creature Features: Monstrosity and the Construction of Human Identity in the ‘Testament of Solomon,’” The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 77 (2015): 263–79 (link); D. Duling, “Testament of Solomon,” in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth, vol. 1 (New York: Doubleday, 1983), 935–988; Todd Klutz, “The Archer and the Cross,” in Magic in the Biblical World (ed. Todd E. Klutz; London: T&T Clark, 2003), 219-244 (link); S.L. Schwarz, “Reconsidering the Testament of Solomon,” Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 16 (2007): 203–37.


3 Kingdoms 5:9-14 (Septuagint Greek)

[Solomon’s renown among peoples of the east for wisdom]

The Lord gave Solomon discernment (phronēsis), very great wisdom (sophia) and a volume of mind like the sand of the sea. Solomon greatly exceeded the discernment of all ancient men and all discerning men of Egypt. He was wise beyond all humans, he was wise beyond Gaithan the Ezraite, Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. Solomon uttered three thousand parables and he composed five thousand songs. He also spoke about trees, from the cedar that is in Lebanon to the hyssop that comes out through the wall, and he spoke about animals, birds, reptiles and fish. All the peoples (laoi) used to come to listen to the wisdom of Solomon, and he would receive gifts from all the kings of the earth who were listening to his wisdom.


Testament of Solomon

[Title and introduction]

Testament of Solomon, son of David, who was king in Jerusalem, and mastered and controlled all spirits of the air, on the earth, and under the earth. By means of them also he accomplished all the transcendent works of the temple. Telling also of the authorities they wield against men, and by what angels these lower spirits (or: demons) are brought to nothing.

You are blessed, O Lord God, who gave Solomon such authority. Glory to you and might forever. Amen.

[Ornias under the sign of Aquarius and thwarted by the angel Ouriel]

(1) When the temple of the city of Jerusalem was being built, and the builders were working on it, Ornias the lower spirit came among them toward sunset. He took away half of the pay of the master-workman’s little boy, as well as half his food. He also continued to suck the right thumb of the boy every day. And the child grew thin, although he was very much loved by the king. So king Solomon called the boy one day, and questioned him, saying: “Don’t I love you more than all the artisans who are working in the temple of God? Don’t I give you double wages and a double supply of food? How is it that day after day and hour after hour you grow thinner?”

But the child said to the king: “I ask you, O king. Listen to what has happened to everything your child has. After we are all released from our work on the temple of God, after sunset, when I lie down to rest, one of the evil lower spirits comes and takes away from me one half of my pay and one half of my food. Then he also takes hold of my right hand and sucks my thumb. And look, my soul is oppressed, and so my body gets thinner every day.”

Now when I, Solomon, heard this, I entered the temple of God, and prayed with all my soul, night and day, that the lower spirit might be delivered into my hands, and that I might gain authority over the lower spirit. And it came about through my prayer that a favour was given to me from the Lord Sabaoth by Michael his archangel. He brought me a little ring, having a seal consisting of an engraved stone, and said to me: “Solomon, king and son of David, take the gift which the Lord God has sent you, the highest Sabaoth. With the ring you will lock up all lower spirits of the earth, male and female; and with their help you will build up Jerusalem. You must wear this seal of God.”

I, Solomon, was overjoyed, and praised and glorified the God of heaven and earth. And the next day I called the boy, and gave him the ring, and said to him: “Take this, and at the hour in which the lower spirit comes to you, throw this ring at the chest of the lower spirit, and say to him: ‘In the name of God, king Solomon calls you here.’ And then come running to me, without having any misgivings or fears of what you may hear from the lower spirit.”

So the child took the ring, and went off. It happened at the customary hour that Ornias, the fierce lower spirit, came like a burning fire to take the pay from the child. But the child (according to the instructions received from the king) threw the ring at the chest of the lower spirit, and said: “King Solomon calls you here.” And then he ran off to the king. But the lower spirit yelled out loudly, saying: “Child, why have you done this to me? Take the ring off me, and I will give you the gold of the earth. Only take this off me, and refrain from leading me away to Solomon.”

But the child said to the lower spirit: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, I will not allow you. So come here.” And the child came at a run, rejoicing, to the king, and said: “I have brought the lower spirit, O king, as you commanded me, O my master. Notice that he stands before the gates of the court of your palace, crying out, and supplicating with a loud voice. He is offering me the silver and gold of the earth so that I would not deliver him to you.”

(2) When I, Solomon, heard this, I rose up from my throne, and went outside into the vestibule of the court of the palace. There I saw the lower spirit, shuddering and trembling. And I said to him: “Who are you?” And the lower spirit answered: “I am called Ornias.”

I said to him: “Tell me, lower spirit, to what zodiacal sign are you subject.” And he answered: “In Aquarius: I strangle those who reside in Aquarius because of their passion for women whose zodiacal sign is Virgo. But in case there is no disposition while in a trance, I am changed into three forms. Whenever men come to be enamoured of women, I change myself into a beautiful woman. I take hold of the men in their sleep, and play with them. And after a while I again take to my wings, and go to the heavenly regions. I also appear as a lion, and I am commanded by all the lower spirits. I am offspring of the archangel Ouriel, the power of God.”

I, Solomon, having heard the name of the archangel, prayed and glorified God, the Lord of heaven and earth. And I sealed the lower spirit and set him to work at stone-cutting, so that he might cut the stones in the temple, which, lying along the shore, had been brought by way of the Arabian sea. But he, fearful of the iron, continued and said to me: “I ask you, king Solomon, let me go free; and I will bring you all the lower spirits.” And as he was not willing to be subject to me, I asked the archangel Ouriel to come and help me, and I immediately saw the archangel Ouriel coming down to me from the heavens.

The angel commanded sea monsters to arise out of the sea and he withered up their species and cast his fate to the ground. He cast his destiny upon the ground, and that destiny made subject to him the great lower spirit. He commanded the great lower spirit and bold Ornias, to cut stones at the temple and to bring to completion the construction of the temple. So I, Solomon, glorified the God of heaven and maker of the earth. He commanded Ornias come with his destiny, and gave him the seal, saying: “Away with you, and bring me here the prince of all the lower spirits.”

[Beelzeboul, leader of the lower spirits]

(3) So Ornias took the finger-ring, and went off to Beelzeboul, who has kingship over the lower spirits. He said to him: “Here! Solomon calls you.” But Beelzeboul, having heard, said to him: “Tell me, who is this Solomon of whom you speak to me?” Then Ornias threw the ring at the chest of Beelzeboul, saying: “Solomon the king calls you.” But Beelzeboul cried out with a loud voice, and shot out a great burning flame of fire; and he arose, and followed Ornias, and came to Solomon.

When I saw the prince of lower spirits, I glorified the Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, and I said: “Blessed are you, Lord God Almighty, who have given to Solomon your servant wisdom, the assessor of the wise, and have subjected to me all the power of he devil.” I questioned him, and said: “Who are you?” The lower spirit said, “I am Beelzeboul, the ruler of the lower spirits.” I demanded that without interruption he sit next to me and explain the manifestations of the lower spirits. He promised to bring to me in bonds all the unclean spirits. And I again glorified the God of heaven and earth, as I do always give thanks to him.

[Onoskelis under the moon and thwarted by the angel Joel]

(4) I then asked the lower spirit whether there were females among them. When he told me that there were, I said that I desired to see them. So Beelzeboul went off at high speed, and brought to me Onoskelis, that had a very pretty shape and a beautiful complexion, but her legs were those of a mule. When she arrived, I said to her: “Tell me who are you?” But she said to me: “My name is Onoskelis. I am a spirit which has been made into a body. There is a golden cave where I lie. But I have a character that always shifts. At one time I strangle men with a noose; at another, I pervert them from their true natures. But my most frequent dwelling-places are the precipices, caves, and ravines. However, often I consort with men in the form of a woman, and above all with those of honey-coloured skin. For they share my star with me, since they privately or openly worship my star, without knowing that they harm themselves. This merely whets my appetite for further mischief. For they wish to provide money by remembering me, but I supply a little to those who worship me fairly.” I, Solomon, questioned her about her birth, and she replied: “I was generated from an unexpected voice which is called a voice of the echo of a black heaven, emitted in matter [drawing on Duling for this interpretation].” And I said to her: “Under what star do you pass?” And she answered me: “Under the star of the full moon, for the reason that the moon travels over most things.” Then I said to her: “And what angel is it that frustrates you?” And she said to me: “The one that reigns through you.” And I thought that she was mocking me, and I commanded a soldier hit her. But she cried out loud and said: “I am subjected to you, O king, by the wisdom of God given to you, and by the angel Joel.” So I commanded her to spin the hemp for the ropes used in the building of the house of God. So when I had sealed and bound her, she was so overcome and brought to nothing as to stand night and day spinning the hemp.

[Asmodeus under the Great Bear constellation and thwarted by Raphael]

(5) And I at once commanded another lower spirit to be led to me. Instantly there approached me the lower spirit Asmodeus, bound, and I asked him: “Who are you?” But he gave me a glance of anger and rage, and said: “And who are you?” And I said to him: “Even though you are punished like this, you answer me like this?” But he, with rage, said to me: “But how will I answer you, for are you a son of man [i.e. human being], whereas I was born from an angel’s seed by a daughter of man [i.e. alluding to the mating of sons of God with daughters of men in Genesis 6], so that no word of our heavenly kind addressed to the earth-born can be arrogant. So my star is bright in heaven, and some men call it the Great Bear while others call it the dragon’s child. I keep near to this star. So don’t ask me many things because your kingdom is going to be disrupted after a little while and your glory is just for a season. Your tyranny over us will be short, and then we [the lower spirits] will again have free range over humankind, so that they will revere us as if we are gods, not knowing, men that they are, the names of the angels set over us.” On hearing this, I, Solomon, bound him more carefully. I ordered him to be flogged with a rod and ordered him to tell me humbly what was his name and what his business. He answered me as follows: “I am called Asmodeus among mortals, and my business is to plot against the newly married, so that they may not know one another. And I sever them utterly by many calamities, and I waste away the beauty of virgin women and estrange their hearts.” And I said to him: “Is this your only business?” And he answered me: “I spread madness about women through the stars, and I have often committed a string of murders.”

And I adjured him by the name of the Lord Sabaoth, saying: “Fear God, Asmodeus, and tell me by what angel you are frustrated.” But he said: “By Raphael, the archangel that stands before the throne of God. But the liver and gall of a fish put me to flight, when smoked over coals of charcoal.” I again asked him, and said: “Don’t hide anything from me. For I am Solomon, son of David and king of Israel. Tell me the name of the fish which you revere.” And he answered: “It is the sheatfish by name, and is found in the rivers of Assyria. That is why I roam around those regions.” I said to him: “Is there nothing else about you, Asmodeus?” And he answered: “The power of God that binds me with unbreakable bonds by his seal knows that whatever I have told you is true. I beg you, king Solomon, don’t condemn me to the water.” But I smiled, and said to him: “As the Lord God of my fathers lives, I will lay iron on you to wear. But you will also make the clay for the entire construction of the temple, treading it down with your feet.” And I ordered them to give him ten water-jars to carry water in. The lower spirit groaned terribly, and did the work I ordered him to do. And this I did, because that fierce lower spirit Asmodeus knew even the future. I, Solomon, glorified God, who gave wisdom to me, Solomon his servant. And the liver of the fish and its gall I hung on the spike of a reed, and burned it over Asmodeus because of his being so strong, and his unbearable malice was thus frustrated.

[Beelzeboul under the Evening Star and thwarted by Emmanuel]

(6) Once again, I summoned to stand before me Beelzeboul, the prince of lower spirits, and I sat him down and said to him: “Why are you alone, prince of the lower spirits?” And he said to me: “Because I alone am left of the angels of heaven that came down [i.e. the “sons of God” of Genesis 6 who mated with human women]. For I was first angel in the first heaven being designated Beelzeboul. Another ungodly angel accompanied me. That is an angel whom God cut off and now, imprisoned here, holds in his power the group (genos) of those bound by me in Tartaros. He is being nurtured in the Erythraian sea. When he is ready, he will come in triumph.”

I, Solomon, said to him: “Beelzeboul, what are your activities?” And he answered me: “I bring destruction through tyrants. I ally myself with foreign tyrants. I cause the lower spirits to be worshipped alongside men, in order that the latter may believe in them and be lost. And the chosen servants of God, priests and faithful men, I excite to desires for wicked sins, and evil heresies, and lawless deeds; and they obey me, and I bear them on to destruction. I bring about jealousies and murders in a country, and I instigate wars.” So I said to him: “Bring to me your child, who is in the Erythraian sea, as you say.” But he said to me: “I will not bring him to you. But another lower spirit will come, called Ephippas. I will bind him, and he will bring him up from the deep to me.” And I said to him: “How comes your son to be in the depth of the sea, and what is his name?” And he answered me: “Don’t ask me that, for cannot learn about that from me. However, he will come to you by any command, and will tell you openly.” So I said to him, “Tell me in which constellation do you reside.” “The one called by men the Evening Star (or: Western Star).” I said to him: “Tell me by what angel you are frustrated.” And he answered: “By the holy and precious name of the almighty God, called by the Hebrews by a row of numbers, of which the sum is six hundred and forty-four, and among the Greeks it is Emmanuel. And if one of the Romans adjure me by the great name of the power Eleeth, I disappear at once.”

I, Solomon, was astounded when I heard this. I ordered him to cut marble from Thebes. When he began to cut the marble, the other lower spirits cried out with a loud voice, howling because of their king Beelzeboul. But I, Solomon, questioned him, saying: “If you have a break, talk to me about the things in heaven.” And Beelzeboul said: “Listen, O king! If you burn gum, incense, and bulb of the sea with nard and saffron while lighting seven lamps during an earthquake, you will firmly fix your house. And if, being pure, you light them at dawn in the sun, then will you see the heavenly dragons, how they wind themselves along and drag the chariot of the sun.” I, Solomon, having heard this, rebuked him, and said: “Silence for now, and continue to cut the marble as I commanded you.”

[Lix Tetrax under the star at the tip of the moon and thwarted by Azael]

(7) Afterwards I, Solomon, praised God, and commanded another lower spirit to present himself to me. And one came before me who carried his face high up in the air, but the rest of the spirit curled away like a snail. And it broke through the few soldiers and also raised a terrible dust from the ground which went upwards and then hurled it back to frighten us. The lower spirit asked what questions I could ask as a rule. And I stood up, and spat on the ground in that spot, and sealed with the ring of God. And immediately the dust-wind stopped. Then I asked him: “Who are you, O wind?” Then he once more shook up a dust, and answered me: “What do you want, king Solomon?” I answered him: “Tell me what you are called, and I would gladly ask you a question. But so far I give thanks to God who has made me wise to answer their evil plots.” However, the lower spirit answered me: “I am the spirit of Lix Tetrax.” And I said to him: “What is your pursuit?” And he said: “I bring darkness on men, and set fire to fields, and I bring homesteads to nothing. But I am most busy in the summer. However, when I get an opportunity, I creep into corners of the wall, by night and day. For I am offspring of the great one, and nothing less.” Accordingly I said to him: “In what constellation do you reside?” And he answered: “The star at the very tip of the moon’s horn, when it is found in the south. For I have been bidden to restrain the convulsions of the fever that lasts one and a half days. This is why many men pray in connection with that fever, using these three names: Bultala, Thallal, Melchal. And I heal them.” And I said to him: “I am Solomon. When you cause harm, who aids you to do it?” But he said to me: “By the angel’s, by whom also the third day’s fever is lulled to rest.” So I questioned him, and said: “By which name are your thwarted?” And he answered: “That of the archangel Azael.” And I summoned the archangel Azael, and set a seal on the lower spirit, and commanded him to seize great stones, and toss them up to the workmen on the higher parts of the temple. And, being compelled, the lower spirit began to do what he was bidden to do.

[Seven female lower spirits]

(8) Once again I glorified God who gave me this authority, and ordered another lower spirit to come before me. And there came seven spirits, females, bound and woven together, fair in appearance and beautiful. I, Solomon, seeing them, questioned them and said: “Who are you?” But they, with one accord, said with one voice: “We are of the thirty-three elements of the cosmic ruler of the darkness.” And the first said: “I am Deception.” The second said: “I am Strife.” The third: “I am Klothod, which is battle.” The fourth: “I am Jealousy.” The fifth: “I am Power.” The sixth: “I am Error.” The seventh: “I am the Worst of all. Our stars in heaven look small, but we are named like goddesses. We change our place all together, and together we live, sometimes in Lydia, sometimes in Olympos, sometimes in a great mountain.”

So I, Solomon, questioned them one by one, beginning with the first, and going down to the seventh, asking “Tell me what you do.” The first said: “I am Deception, I deceive and weave snares here and there. I whet and excite evil choices (haireseis). But I have an angel who frustrates me, Lamechalal.” Likewise also the second said: “I am Strife, strife of strifes. I bring timbers, stones, hangers, my weapons on the spot. But I have an angel who frustrates me, Baruchiachel.” Likewise also the third said: “I am called Klothod, which is ‘Battle,’ and I cause the well-behaved to scatter and turn against each other. And why do I say so much? I have an angel that frustrates me: “Marmarath.” Likewise also the fourth said: “I cause men to forget their sobriety and moderation. I part them and split them into parties because Strife follows me hand in hand. I tear the husband from the sharer of his bed, and children from parents, and brothers from sisters. But why am I telling you so much? I have an angel that frustrates me, the great Balthial.” Likewise also the fifth said: “I am Power. By power I raise up tyrants and tear down kings. To all rebels I supply power. I have an angel that frustrates me, Asteraoth.” Likewise also the sixth said: “I am Error, king Solomon. And I will cause you to make mistakes, as I have before caused you to make mistakes, when I caused you to slay your own brother. I will lead you into error, so as to pry into graves. I teach those who dig, and I lead mistaken souls away from all piety. Many other evil traits are also mine. But I have an angel that frustrates me, Ouriel.” Likewise also the seventh said: “I am the Worst, and I make you worse off than you were before, because I will impose the bonds of Artemis. Because these things affect you, you have desire like a beloved one; but to me that is a desire which corresponds to myself, wisdom. For if anyone was wise, he would not turn his steps toward me.”

So I, Solomon, having heard and wondered, sealed them with my ring and commanded them to dig the foundations of the temple of God. For the length of it was two hundred and fifty forearm lengths. And I commanded them be industrious, and with one murmur of joint protest they began to perform the tasks enjoined.


(9) But I, Solomon, glorified the Lord, and commanded another lower spirit come before me. And there was brought to me a lower spirit having all the limbs of a man, but without a head. And I, seeing him, said to him: “Tell me, who are you?” And he answered: “I am a lower spirit.” So I said to him: “Which?” And he answered me: “I am called Murder (Phonos). For I delight in devouring heads, being desirous to secure for myself a head; but I do not eat enough, but am anxious to have a head like yours.”

I, Solomon, on hearing this, sealed him, stretching out my hand against his chest. At this, the lower spirit jumped up and threw himself down, and gave a groan, saying: “Woe is me! How did I come to be with the traitor Ornias, I cannot see!” So I said to him: “I am Solomon. Tell me then how you manage to see [i.e. without a head].” And he answered me: “By means of my chest [i.e. feelings].” I then, Solomon, having heard his voice come up to me, asked him how he managed to speak. He answered me: “I, king Solomon, am wholly voice, for I have inherited the voices of many men. For in the case of all men who are called dumb, I am the one who smashed their heads when they were children and had reached their eighth day. Then when a child is crying in the night, I become a spirit, and enter through his voice. My visit to premature infants is harmful. In the cross-ways also I have many services to render, and my encounter is fraught with harm. For I grasp a man’s head and – with my hands as with a sword – I cut it off, and put it on to myself. In this way, by means of the fire which is in me, through my neck it is swallowed up. I am the one who inflames the limbs, inflicts the feet and produce sores. By the fiery flash of lightning I am thwarted.” And I bowed myself before the Lord God of Israel, and commanded him remain in the keeping of Beelzeboul until I should come.

[Scepter, thwarted by Briathos]

(10) Then I ordered another lower spirit to come before me, and there came into my presence a hound, having a very large shape, and it spoke with a loud voice, and said, “Hail, Lord, king Solomon!” I, Solomon, was astounded. I said to it: “Who are you, hound?” And it answered: “I do indeed seem to you to be a hound, but before you existed, king Solomon, I was a man that committed many unholy actions on earth. I was very well-educated, and was so powerful that I could hold the stars of heaven back and now I am preparing many evil works. For I do harm to men who follow after our star, and lead them into stupidity. I also grab the hearts of men through their throats and destroy them.” I, Solomon, said to him: “What is your name?” And he answered: ”Sceptor” (Rabdos). And I said to him: “What is your activity? And what results can you achieve?” And he replied: ”Give me your man, and I will lead him away into a mountainous spot, and will show him a green stone tossed back and forth, with which you may adorn the temple of the Lord God.” I, Solomon, on hearing this, ordered my servant to set off with him, and to take the finger-ring bearing the seal of God with him. And I said to him: “Whoever shows you the green stone, seal him with this finger-ring. And mark the spot with care, and bring me the lower spirit here. And the lower spirit showed him the green stone, and he sealed it, and brought the lower spirit to me. I, Solomon, decided to confine with my seal on my right hand the two, binding the headless lower spirit and likewise the huge hound as well. And I commanded the hound keep safe the fiery spirit so that, so to speak, there would be lamps by day and night casting light through its mouth for the artisans to work.

I, Solomon, took from the mine of that stone two hundred shekels for the supports of the table of incense, which was similar in appearance. I, Solomon, glorified the Lord God, and then closed round the treasure of that stone. And I again ordered the lower spirits to cut marble for the construction of the house of God. I, Solomon, prayed to the Lord, and asked the hound, saying: “By what angel are you frustrated?” And the lower spirit replied: “By the great Briathos.”

[Lion-bearer, thwarted by Emmanuel]

(11) I commanded another lower spirit to come forward to me. And one came before me in the form of a lion roaring. He stood and answered me saying: “O king, in the form which I have, I am a spirit quite incapable of being perceived. I leap on everyone who lies down from sickness, coming stealthily along; and I render the person weak so that his body is enfeebled. But I have also another glory, O king. I cast out lower spirits, and I have legions under my control. And I am capable of being received in my dwelling-places, along with all the lower spirits belonging to the legions under me.” But I, Solomon, on hearing this, asked him: “What is your name?” But he answered: “Lion-bearer, Arabian (Araps) by descent (genos).” And I said to him: “How are you frustrated along with your legions? What angel is it that frustrates you?” And he answered: “If I tell you my name, I bind not myself alone, but also the legions of lower spirits under me.” So I said to him: “I adjure you in the name of the God Sabaoth, to tell me by what name you are frustrated along with your host.” And the spirit answered me: “The great among men, who is to suffer many things at the hands of men, whose name is the figure six hundred and forty-four, which is Emmanuel. That is who has bound us, and who will then come and plunge us from the cliff into water. He is conjured up by the three letters.” I, Solomon, on hearing this, glorified God, and condemned his legion to carry wood from the thicket. And I condemned the lion-shaped one himself to saw up the wood small with his teeth, for burning in the unquenchable furnace for the temple of God.

[Three-headed dragon spirit, thwarted by the angel of the great counsellor]

(12) And I worshipped the Lord God of Israel, and commanded another lower spirit come forward. And there came before me a dragon, three-headed, of fearful hue. And I questioned him: “Who are you?” And he answered me: “I am a three-pronged spirit, whose activity takes three forms: I blind children in women’s wombs, twirling their ears around; I make them deaf and mute; and, I have again in my third head means of slipping in by smiting men in the limbless part of the body and causing them to fall down, foam at the mouth, and grind their teeth. But I have my own way of being frustrated, Jerusalem being signified in writing, to the “place of the skull” where the angel of the wonderful counsellor foresaw he will reside publicly on the cross [i.e. a Christianizing edit]. He frustrates me, and I am subject to him. But in the place where you sit, king Solomon, he will set up a dark column in the air after the lower spirit called Ephippas has brought gifts from the Erythraian sea in inner Arabia. That is the one who will be shut up in a skin-bottle and brought before you. But at the entrance of the temple, which you have begun to build, king Solomon, lies stored much gold, which you should dig up and carry away.” I, Solomon, sent my servant, and found it to be as the lower spirit told me. And I sealed him with my ring, and praised the Lord God. So I said to him: “What are you called?” And the lower spirit said: “I am the crest of dragons.” And I commanded him make bricks in the temple. He had human hands.

[Obyzouth, thwarted by the angel Raphael]

13) And I adored the Lord God of Israel, and commanded another lower spirit present himself. And there came before me a spirit in woman’s form, that had a head without any limbs, and her hair was dishevelled. And I said to her: “Who are you?” But she answered: “No! Who are you? And why do you want to hear about me? But, as you learn, here I stand bound before your face. Go then into your royal storehouses and wash your hands. Then sit down again before your tribunal, and ask me questions. You will learn who I am, O king.” I, Solomon, did as she instructed me, and restrained myself because of the wisdom dwelling in me so that I could hear about her deeds, reprimand them, and show them to men. I sat down, and said to the lower spirit: “What are you?” And she said: “I am called among men Obyzouth. I do not sleep at night but go my rounds all over the world, and visit women in childbirth. Divining the hour, I take my stand. If I am lucky, I strangle the infant. But if not, I retire to another place. For I cannot for a single night retire unsuccessful. For I am a fierce spirit with myriad names and many shapes. And now here, now there I roam. And to the remotest parts I go my rounds. But as it now is, though you have sealed me round with the ring of God, you have done nothing. I am not standing before you, and you will not be able to command me. For I have no work other than the destruction of children, and the making their ears to be deaf, the working of evil to their eyes, the binding their mouths with a bond, and the ruin of their minds, and bringing pain to their bodies.”

When I, Solomon, heard this, I was amazed at her appearance because I noticed that her entire body was in darkness and her hair wild. I, Solomon, said: “Tell me by what angel you are frustrated, O evil spirit?” She answered me: “By the angel of Raphael, by whom I am frustrated now and for all time. If a woman is in childbirth, write that name on a piece of papyrus and I will not be able to enter her. Hearing this and glorifying the Lord, I, Solomon ordered her hair to be bound and hung up in front of the temple of God, so that all the children of Israel would see as they passed by and glorify the Lord God of Israel, who had given me this authority.

[Winged dragon, thwarted by the angel Bazazeth]

(14) And I again ordered another lower spirit to come before me. And there came, rolling itself along, one that appeared like a dragon but with the face and hands of a man. And all its limbs, except the feet, were those of a dragon, and it had wings on its back. When I observed it, I was astonished, and said: “Who are you, lower spirit, and what are you called? Tell me where have you come from?”

And the spirit answered and said: “This is the first time I have stood before you, king Solomon. I am a spirit made into a god among men, but now brought to nothing by the ring and wisdom entrusted to you by God. Now I am the so-called winged dragon, and I do not sleep with many women, but only with a few that have beautiful bodies, which possess the name of Touxylou, of this star. And I pair with them in the guise of a spirit winged in form, having sex with them through their buttocks. The woman who I have leapt on becomes heavy with child, and that which is born from her becomes Eros (erotic love). But since such offspring cannot be tolerated by men, the woman perished. Such is my role. Supposed then only that I am satisfied, and all the other lower spirits molested and disturbed by you will speak the whole truth. But those composed of fire will cause to be burned up by fire the material of the logs which is to be collected by them for the building in the temple.” And as the lower spirit said this, I saw the spirit going forth from his mouth, and it consumed the wood of the frankincense-tree, and burned up all the logs which we had placed in the temple of God. I, Solomon, saw what the spirit had done, and I was amazed. And, having glorified God, I asked the dragon-shaped lower spirit, and said: “Tell me, by what angel are you frustrated?” And he answered: “By the great angel which has its seat in the second heaven, which is called in Hebrew Bazazeth.” I, Solomon, having heard this, and having invoked his angel, condemned him to saw up marble for the building of the temple of God; and I praised God, and commanded another lower spirit to come before me.

[Enepsigos, thwarted by the angel Rathanael, with mention of the use of Magian skill]

(15) And there came before my face another spirit, as it were a woman in the form she had. But on her shoulders she had two other heads with hands. And I asked her, and said: “Tell me, who are you?” And she said to me: “I am Enepsigos, who also have a myriad of names.” And I said to her: “By what angel are you frustrated?” But she said to me: “What do you seek? What are you asking? I undergo changes, like the goddess I am called. And I change again, and pass into another shape. So do not expect to know everything about me. But since you are before me at this point, listen. I have my abode in the moon, and for that reason I possess three forms. At times, the wise use Magian skill (mageuein) to invoke me as Kronos. At other times, in connection with those who bring me down, I come down and appear in another shape. The measure of the element is inexplicable and indefinable, and not to be frustrated. I then, changing into these three forms, come down and become such as you see me. But I am frustrated by the angel Rathanael, who sits in the third heaven. This then is why I speak to you. That temple over there cannot contain me.”

[Interlude: Prediction about the destruction of Solomon’s temple and reason for the writing of this testament]

I therefore Solomon prayed to my God, and I invoked the angel of whom Enepsigos spoke to me, and used my seal. And I sealed her with a triple chain, and placed beneath her the fastening of the chain, using the seal of God. The [evil] spirit prophesied to me, saying: “This is what you, king Solomon, do to us. But after a time your kingdom will be broken, and again in season this temple will be destroyed, and all Jerusalem will be undone by the king of the Persians, Medes and Chaldeans. The vessels of this temple which you are making will serve other gods. Along with the vessels, all the jars in which you shut us up will be broken by the hands of men. Then we shall go out in great power here and there, and be disseminated all over the world. And we shall lead astray the inhabited world for a long season, until the son of God is stretched upon the cross [i.e. Christianizing edit]. For never before has a king like him arisen, a king who frustrates us all, whose mother will not have sexual contact with man. Who else can receive such authority over spirits, except him, whom the first devil will seek to tempt, but will not prevail over? The number of his name adds up to six hundred and forty-four, which is Emmanuel. Therefore, king Solomon, your time is evil and your years short and evil, and to your servant will your kingdom be given.”

I, Solomon, having heard this, glorified God. And though I was amazed at the apology of the lower spirits, I did not credit it until it came true. And I did not believe their words. However, when they were realized, I then understood. At my death I wrote this testament [i.e. the current work] to the children of Israel and gave it to them, so that they might know the powers of the lower spirits and their shapes, as well as the names of their angels by which the lower spirits are frustrated. And I glorified the Lord God of Israel, and commanded the spirits to be bound with unbreakable bonds.

[Kynopegos, subjected to Iameth]

(16) After praising God, I commanded another spirit to come before me. There came before my face another lower spirit, having in the shape of a horse from the front but the shape of a fish from behind. He had a powerful voice, and said to me: “O king Solomon, I am a fierce spirit of the sea, and I am greedy for gold and silver. I am such a spirit as rounds itself and comes over the expanses of the water of the sea, and I trip up the men who sail on the sea. For I roll myself into a wave, and transform myself, and then throw myself on ships and come right in on them. And that is my activity and my way of getting hold of money and men. For I take the men, and whirl them around with myself, and hurl the men out of the sea. For I am not covetous of men’s bodies, but cast them up out of the sea so far. But since Beelzeboul, ruler of the spirits of air and of those under the earth, and lord of earthly ones, has a joint kingship with us in respect of the activities of each one of us, therefore I went up from the sea to get a certain outlook in his company. But I also have another character and role. I transform myself into waves, and come up from the sea. And I show myself to men, so that those on earth call me Kunopegos, because I assume the human form. And my name is a true one. For by my passage up into men, I send forth a certain nausea. I came then to take counsel with the prince Beelzeboul. He bound me and delivered me into your hands. And I am here before you because of this seal, and you now torment me. Behold now, in two or three days the spirit that converses with you will fail, because I will have no water.” And I said to him: “Tell me by what angel you are frustrated.” And he answered: “By Iameth.” And I glorified God. I commanded the spirit to be thrown into a flat-bowl along with ten jugs of sea-water of two measures each. And I sealed them round above the marble, asphalt and pitch in the mouth of the vessel. And having sealed it with my ring, I ordered it to be deposited in the temple of God. And I ordered another spirit to come before me.

[Spirit of one of the giants (of Genesis 6 / 1 Enoch), thwarted by the Saviour]

(17) There came before my face another enslaved spirit, having obscurely the form of a man, with gleaming eyes, and bearing in his hand a blade. And I asked: “Who are you?” But he answered: “I am a sexually immoral spirit, produced by one of the giants who died in the massacre in the time of the giants.” I said to him: “Tell me what you are engaged in on earth, and where you have your dwelling.” He said: “My dwelling is in fruitful places, but my procedure is this. I seat myself beside the men who pass along among the tombs, and in untimely season I assume the form of the dead. If I catch any one, I immediately destroy him with my sword. But if I cannot destroy him, I cause him to be possessed with a lower spirit to devour his own flesh and for the hair to fall off his chin.” But I said to him: “Are you afraid of the God of heaven and of earth, and tell me by what angel you are frustrated?” And he answered: “The one who is about to return as Saviour thwarts me. If a man writes his number on his forehead, he will defeat me and I will quickly retreat in fear. And, in fact, if any one writes this sign on himself, I will be afraid.” I, Solomon, on hearing this, and having glorified the Lord God, shut up this lower spirit like the rest.

[Thirty six world-rulers, the illnesses they bring, and the angels who thwart them; section drawing on Duling’s translation of the eclectic critical edition]

(18) And I commanded another lower spirit to come before me. And there came before my face thirty-six spirits, their heads shapeless like dogs, but in themselves they were human in form, with faces of asses, faces of oxen, and faces of birds. I, Solomon, on hearing and seeing them, wondered, and I asked them and said: “Who are you?” But they of one accord and one voice said: “We are the thirty-six elements (stoicheia), the world-rulers (kosmokratores) of this darkness. But, king Solomon, you will not wrong us nor imprison us, nor lay command on us. However, since the Lord God has given you authority over every spirit in the air, on the earth, and under the earth, therefore we also present ourselves before you like the other spirits.” Then I, Solomon, invoked the name of the Lord Sabaoth, and questioned each in turn as to what was its character. I commanded each one come forward and tell about its activities:

  • Then the first one came forward, and said: “I am the first decans (ten degrees) of the zodiacal circle, and I am called the ram, and with me are these two.” So I put to them the question: “What are you called?” The first said: “I, O Lord, am called Ruax, and I cause the heads of men to suffer pain, and I pillage the temples of their heads. But if I only hear the words ‘Michael, imprison Ruax,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • And the second said: “I am called Barsafael, and I cause those who are subject to my hour to feel the pain of migraines. If only I hear the words ‘Gabriel, imprison Barsafael,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The third said: “I am called Arotosael. I do harm to eyes, and harshly injure them. If I only hear the words ‘Ouriel, imprison Aratosael’, I retreat immediately.”
  • The fourth said, “I am called Oropel. I attack throats, bringing sore throats and mucus. If I hear ‘Raphael, imprison Oropel,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The fifth said: “I am called Iudal, and I block the ears and cause deafness. If I hear ‘Uruel Iudal,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The sixth said: “I am called Sphendonael. I cause tumours of the parotid gland and tetanic recurvation. If I hear ‘Sabrael, imprison Sphendonael,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The seventh said: “I am called Sphandor, and I weaken the strength of the shoulders, and cause them to tremble. I also paralyze the nerves of the hands and I break and bruise the bones of the neck. I myself suck out the marrow. But if I hear the words ‘Arael, imprison Sphandor,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The eighth said: “I am called Belbel. I distort the hearts and minds of men. . . [missing words]. If I hear the words ‘Arael, imprison Belbel,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The ninth said: “I am called Kourtael. I send colics in the bowels. I induce pains. If I hear the words ‘Iaoth, imprison Kourtael,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The tenth said: “I am called Metathiax. I cause the kidneys to ache. If I hear the words ‘Adonael, imprison Metathiax,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The eleventh said: “I am called Katanikotael. I create strife and wrongs in men’s homes, and send a bad temper. If anyone is at peace in his home, let him write on seven leaves of laurel the name of the angel that frustrates me, along with these names: ‘Angel, Iae, Ieo, Sabaoth, imprison Katanikotael.’ Then let him wash the laurel-leaves in water and sprinkle his house with the water, from within to the outside, and I retreat immediately.”
  • The twelfth said: “I am called Saphathorael, and I inspire partisanship in men, and delight in causing them to stumble. If any one will write on paper these names of angels, ‘Iaco, Iealo, Ioelet, Sabaoth, Ithoth, Bae,’ and having folded it up, wear it round his neck or against his ear, I immediately retreat and dissipate the drunken fit.”
  • The thirteenth said: “I am called Phobothel, and I cause nervous illness by my assaults. If I hear the words ‘great Adonael, imprison Phobothel,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The fourteenth said: “I am called Leroel, and I inflict with shivers and lethargy. If only I hear the words ‘Iax, imprison Leroel,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The fifteenth said: “I am called Soubelti. I cause shivering and numbness. If I only hear the words ‘Iax, do not stay, do not be fervent, because Solomon is fairer than eleven fathers,’ I immediately retreat.”
  • The sixteenth said: “I am called Katrax. I inflict irremediable and harmful fevers on men. If you want to imprison me, chop up coriander and smear it on the lips, reciting the following charm: ‘ ‘I adjure you by Dan [possibly Zeus] to retreat from the image of God,’ and I retreat immediately.”
  • The seventeenth said: “I am called Ieropa. I sit on the stomach and cause convulsions in the bath and on the road. Wherever I am found or find a man, I throw him down. Whoever says into the right ear of the afflicted for the third time, ‘Iouda Zizabou,’ you see, makes me retreat.”
  • The eighteenth said: “I am called Modebel. I separate wife from husband and cause a grudge between them. If anyone writes the names of the eight fathers and places them in the doorways, I retreat immediately.”
  • The nineteenth said: “I am called Mardero. I inflict incurable fevers. Write my name in some such way in the house, and I retreat immediately.”
  • The twentieth said: “I am called Rhyx Nathotho. I locate myself in the knees of men. If anyone writes on a piece of papyrus. ‘Phounebiel,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-first said: “I am called Rhyx Alath. I produce the croup in infants. If anyone writes ‘Rarideris,’ and carries it, I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-second said: “I am called Rhyx Andanteoth. I inflict heart pain. If anyone writes, ‘Raiouoth,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-third said: “I am called Rhyx Manthado. I cause the kidneys to suffer pain. If anyone writes. ‘Iaoth, Ouriel,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-fourth said: “I am called Rhyx Aktonme. I cause the ribs to suffer pain. If anyone writes on a piece of wood from a ship which has run aground ‘Marmaraoth of mist.’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-fifth said: “I am called Rhyx Anatreth. I send gas and burning into the bowels. If I hear ‘Arara. Arare,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-sixth said: “I am called Rhyx. the Enautha. I steal minds and alter hearts. If anyone writes ‘Kalazael,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-seventh said: “I am called Rhyx Axesbuth. I cause men to suffer from diarrhea and hemorrhoids. If anyone adjures me in pure wine and gives it to the one who is suffering, I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-eighth said: “I am called Rhyx Hapax. I unleash insomnia. If anyone writes. ‘Kok, Phedismos’ and wears this hanging from the temples, I retreat immediately.”
  • The twenty-ninth said: “I am called Rhyx Anoster. I unleash hysteria and cause pains in the bladder. If anyone mashes up the seeds of laurel into time oil and massages the body with it, saying. ‘I adjure you by Marmaraoth’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The thirtieth said: “I am called Rhyx Physikoreth. I bring on long-term illnesses. If anyone puts salt into olive oil and massages his sick body with it saying, ‘Cherubim, Seraphim help me,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The thirty-first said: “I am called Rhyx Aleureth. In the case of swallowing fish bones, if anyone puts a bone from his fish onto the chest of the one who is suffering. I retreat immediately.”
  • The thirty-second said: “I am called Rhyx Ichthuon. I detach tendons. If I hear ‘Adonai, malthe,’ I retreat immediately.”
  • The thirty-third said: “I am called Rhyx Achoneoth. I cause sore throat and tonsillitis. If anyone writes on ivy leaves ‘Leikourgos,’ heaping up the leaves in a pile, I retreat immediately.”
  • The thirty-fourth said: “I am called Rhyx Autoth. I cause jealousies and squabbles between those who love each other. But writing down the letters alpha and beta thwarts me.”
  • The thirty-fifth said: “I am called Rhyx Phtheneoth. I cast the evil eye on everyone. But when someone inscribes the much-suffering eye, this thwarts me.”
  • The thirty-sixth said: “And I am called Rhyx Mianeth. I hold a grudge against the body, I demolish houses, and I cause the flesh to rot. If anyone writes on the front entrance of his house as follows. ‘Melto Ardad Anaath,’ I flee from that place.”

When I, Solomon, heard this, I glorified the God of heaven and earth. And I commanded these lower spirits to fetch water in the temple of God. Furthermore, I prayed to the Lord God to cause the lower spirits outside that hamper humanity to be bound and sent to the temple of God.

(19) I, Solomon, was honoured by all men and by all under heaven, because I was building the entire temple of God and my kingdom was prosperous. All the kings of the earth came to see the temple which I was building, bringing me gold, silver, bronze, iron, lead, and wood for the temple decoration. Among them was Sheba, queen of the South, a howler of chants (goēs), who came with great arrogance and bowed low before me.

[Episode with the old man and Ornias as an explanation of lower spirits’ methods]

(20) It happened in those days that one of the workmen who was very old threw himself down before me, and said: “King Solomon, pity me, because I am old.” So I commanded him to stand up, and said: “Tell me everything you want, old man.” And he answered: “I beg you king, I have an only-born son, and he insults and beats me openly. He plucks out the hair from my head, and threatens me with a painful death. Therefore I beg you to avenge me.” I, Solomon, on hearing this, felt bad as I looked at his old age, and I commanded the child to be brought to me. When he was brought I questioned him whether this was true. And the youth said: “I was not so filled with madness as to strike my father with my hand. Be kind to me, O king. For I have not dared to commit such impiety, poor wretch that I am.” But I, Solomon, on hearing this from the youth, exhorted the old man to reflect on the matter, and accept his son’s apology. However, he would not, but said he would rather let him die. Since the old man would not yield, I was about to pronounce sentence on the youth, when I saw Ornias the lower spirit laughing. I was very angry at the lower spirit’s laughing in my presence. I ordered my men to remove the other parties, and bring forward Ornias before my tribunal. When he was brought before me, I said to him: “Accursed one, why did you look at me and laugh?” And the lower spirit answered: “I beg you, king, it was not because of you I laughed, but because of this wretched old man and the wretched youth, his son. For after three days his son will die untimely. Look, the old man wants to do away with his son in an evil way.”

But I, Solomon, having heard this, said to the lower spirit: “Is what you say true?” And he answered: “It is true, O king.” And I, on hearing that, commanded them to remove the lower spirit, and to again bring before me the old man with his son. I commanded them to make amends again, and I supplied them with food. And then I told the old man after three days to bring his son again to me here. I also said: “I will attend to him.” And they saluted me, and went their way.

When they were gone, I ordered Ornias to be brought forward, and said to him: “Tell me how you know this.” He replied: “We lower spirits ascend into the firmament of heaven, and fly around among the stars. And we hear the sentences which go forth upon the souls of men, and we come at once. Whether by force of influence, or by fire, or by sword, or by some accident, we veil our act of destruction. If a man does not die by some untimely disaster or by violence, then we lower spirits transform ourselves in such a way as to appear to men and be worshipped in our human nature.”

After hearing this, I glorified the Lord God, and again I questioned the lower spirit, saying: “Tell me how you can ascend into heaven, being lower spirits, and mingle among the stars and holy angels.” And he answered: “Just as things are fulfilled in heaven, so also on earth are fulfilled the types of all of them. For there are principalities, authorities, world-rulers, and we lower spirits fly around in the air. We hear the voices of the heavenly beings, and survey all the powers. Since we have no way to land and rest, we lose strength and fall off like leaves from trees. And men seeing us imagine that the stars are falling from heaven. But this is not really so, O king. Rather, we fall because of our weakness, and because we have nothing to hold onto. So we come down, suddenly, like lightning in the depth of night. And we set cities in flames and fire the fields. For the stars have firm foundations in the heavens like the sun and the moon.”

I, Solomon, having heard this, ordered the lower spirit to be guarded for five days. After the five days I recalled the old man, and was about to question him. But he came to me in grief and with a sad face. And I said to him: “Tell me, old man, where is your son? And why are you wearing this clothing?” And he answered: “I have become childless, and sit by my son’s grave in despair. For he has already been dead for two days.” But I, Solomon, on hearing that, and knowing that the lower spirit Ornias had told me the truth, glorified the God of Israel.

[Foreign rulers recognize the superiority of Solomon]

[Queen of Sheba]

(21) When Sheba, queen of the South, saw all this, she was amazed and she glorified the God of Israel. She observed the temple of the Lord being built. And she gave ten thousand copper shekels. She went into the temple and observed the altar of incense, the bronze supports of the altar, the gems of the lamps flashing with different colours, and the lamp-stand of stone, emerald, hyacinth, and sapphire. She also observed the vessels of gold, silver, bronze, and wood, and the folds of skins dyed red with madder. And she saw the bases of the pillars of the temple of the Lord. All were of one gold . . . [missing text in the manuscript]. . . apart from the lower spirits whom I condemned to labour.

[King of the Arabians]

(22) The king of the Arabians, Adarkes, sent me a letter, and the writing of the letter was written as follows:

“To king Solomon, greetings! I have heard about the wisdom entrusted to you, and that you are a man merciful from the Lord. And understanding has been granted you over all the spirits of the air, the earth, and under the earth. There is a spirit of the following kind in the land of Arabia: A wind begins to blow at early dawn until the third hour. Its blast is harsh and terrible, and it slays people and animals. And no spirit on earth can counteract this lower spirit. I ask you, then, since the spirit is a wind, contrive something according to the wisdom given in you by the Lord your God, and consent to send a man able to capture it. And behold, king Solomon, I and my people and all my land will serve you until death. All Arabia will be at peace with you, if you will perform this act of righteousness for us. Therefore we ask you not to disregard our humble request and not to allow the land under your authority to be destroyed. Because we are suppliants, both I and my people and all my land. Farewell to my Lord. All health!”

I, Solomon, read this letter and I folded it up and gave it to my people, and said to them: “After seven days will you remind me of this letter? And Jerusalem was built, and the temple was being completed. And there was a stone, the cornerstone lying there, great, chosen out, one which I desired to place as the cornerstone to complete the temple. All the workmen, and all the lower spirits helping them came to the same place to bring up the stone and lay it on the pinnacle of the holy temple, and were not strong enough to stir it, and lay it upon the corner allotted to it. For that stone was exceedingly great and useful as the cornerstone of the temple.”

[Capturing and interrogating the lower spirit, Ephippas, in the form of wind in Arabia]

When, after seven days, I was reminded about the letter of Adarkes, king of Arabia, I called my servant and said to him: “Order your camel and take for yourself a leather flask, and take this seal as well. Go away into Arabia to the place in which the evil spirit blows. Take the flask and the signet-ring in front of the mouth of the flask, and hold them in the direction of the blast from the spirit. When the flask is blown out, you will understand that the lower spirit is in it. Then quickly tie up the mouth of the flask, seal it securely with the seal-ring, lay it carefully on the camel and bring it me here. If on the way the lower spirit offers you gold or silver or treasure in return for letting the spirit go, make sure you are not persuaded. But arrange to release it without using oath. Then if it points out places where there is gold or silver, mark the places and seal them with this seal. And bring the lower spirit to me. Now depart, and do well.”

Then the youth did as he was instructed. He ordered his camel, laid on it a flask, and set off into Arabia. The men of that region would not believe he would be able to catch the evil spirit. When it was dawn, the servant stood before the spirit’s blast, and laid the flask on the ground, and the finger-ring on the mouth of the flask. And the lower spirit blew through the middle of the finger-ring into the mouth of the flask, and going in blew out the flask. But the man promptly stood up to it and drew tight with his hand the mouth of the flask, in the name of the Lord God of Sabaoth. The lower spirit remained within the flask. And after that the youth remained in that land for three days to prove that the lower spirit was captured. And the spirit no longer blew against that city. And all the Arabians knew that he had safely trapped the spirit.

Then the youth fastened the flask on the camel, and the Arabs sent him forth on his way with much honour and precious gifts, praising and magnifying the God of Israel. But the youth brought in the bag and laid it in the middle of the temple. The next day, I, king Solomon, went into the temple of God and sat there deeply worried about the cornerstone. When I entered the temple, the flask stood up and walked around some seven steps and then fell on its mouth and did homage to me. I was amazed that even along with the bottle the lower spirit still had power and could walk around. I commanded it to stand up. And the flask stood up, and stood on its feet all blown out. And I questioned him, saying: “Tell me, who are you?” And the spirit within said: “I am the lower spirit called Ephippas, that is in Arabia.” And I said to him: “Is this your name?” And he answered: “Yes. Wherever I want to, I land and set fire and cause death.”

And I said to him: “By what angel are you frustrated?” And he answered: “By the only-ruling God, that has authority over me even to be heard. The one that is to be born of a virgin and crucified by the Judeans on a cross, whom the angels and archangels worship [i.e. Christianizing edit]. He frustrates me, and takes away my great strength, which has been given to me by my father the devil.”

(23) I said to him: “What can you do?” And he answered: ”I am able to move mountains, to overthrow the oaths of kings. I wither trees and make their leaves to fall off.” And I said to him: “Can you raise this stone, and lay it as the cornerstone which exists in the fair plan of the temple?” And he said: “Not only can I raise this, O king, but also, with the help of the lower spirit who presides over the Erythraian sea [likely the Red Sea proper in this case], I will bring up the pillar of air, and will stand it up wherever you want in Jerusalem.”

Saying this, I laid stress on him, and the flask seemed as though it lost its air. And I placed it under the stone, and the spirit prepared himself and lifted the stone up. And the flask went up the steps, carrying the stone, and laid it down at the end of the entrance of the temple. And I, Solomon, beholding the stone raised up and placed on a foundation, said: “Truly the Scripture is fulfilled, which says: ‘The stone which the builders rejected on trial, that same stone has become the cornerstone.’ For this it is not mine to grant, but God’s, that the lower spirit should be strong enough to lift up so great a stone and place it in the place I wanted.”

(24) Ephippas led the lower spirit of the Erythraian sea with the column. And they both took the column and raised it aloft from the earth. And I outwitted these two spirits, so that they could not shake the entire earth in a moment of time. Then I sealed around with my ring on this side and that, and said: “Watch!” And the spirits have remained upholding it until this day, for proof of the wisdom entrusted to me. And there the pillar was hanging of enormous size, in mid-air, supported by the winds. And thus the spirits appeared underneath, like air, supporting it. And if one looks carefully, the pillar is a little oblique, being supported by the spirits. And it is so even today.

[Abezithibou, lower spirit associated with the Red Sea and with Jannes and Jambres]

(25) And I, Solomon, questioned the other spirit which came up with the pillar from the depth of the Erythraian sea. And I said to him: “Who are you, and what calls you? And what is your aim? For I hear many things about you.” And the lower spirit answered: “I, King Solomon, am called Abezithibou. I am a descendant of the archangel. Once I sat in the first heaven which is called Amelouth. I am a fierce and winged spirit with a single wing, plotting against every spirit under heaven. I was present when Moses went in before pharaoh, king of Egypt, and I hardened pharaoh’s heart. I am the one whom Jannes and Jambres [usually pictured as Magians in traditions expanding Exodus 7-8] invoked to help them against Moses in Egypt. I am the one who fought against Moses with wonders and signs.”

So I said to him: “How were you found in the Erythraian sea?” And he answered: “In the exodus of the sons of Israel I hardened the heart of pharaoh. And I excited his heart and that of his ministers. And I caused them to pursue the children of Israel. Pharaoh followed with me and all the Egyptians. Then I was present there, and we followed together. We all came up to the Erythraian sea. After the children of Israel had crossed over, it happened that the water returned and hid all the host of the Egyptians and all their might. And I remained in the sea, being kept under this pillar. But when Ephippas came while shut up in the vessel of a flask, being sent by you, he brought me to you.”

[Solomon’s decline and conclusion of the testament]

So I, Solomon, having heard this, glorified God and adjured the lower spirits not to disobey me, but to remain supporting the pillar. They both swore, saying: “As the Lord your God lives, we will not let go of this pillar until the world’s end. But on whatever day this stone falls, that will be the end of the world.”

And I, Solomon, glorified God, and adorned the temple of the Lord beautifully. And I was glad in spirit in my kingdom, and there was peace in my days. (26) And I took countless wives of my own from every land. I marched against the Jebusites, and there I saw a woman and fell madly in love with her, and desired to take her as my wife along with my other wives. And I said to their priests: “Give me the Shunammite woman as a wife.” But the priests of god Moloch said to me: “If you love this young woman, go in and worship our gods, the great god Raphan and the god called Moloch.” I therefore was in fear of the glory of God, and did not follow to worship. And I said to them: “I will not worship a foreign god.”

But they threatened violence against the young woman, saying. “If you have the opportunity to go to the kingdom of Solomon, say to him. ‘I will not go to bed with you unless you become like my people and take five locusts and sacrifice them in the name of Raphan and Molech.’” Because I loved the girl – she was in full bloom and I was out of my senses – l considered offering the blood of the locusts as though it were inconsequential. I took them in my hands and sacrificed in the name of Raphan and Molech to idols and I took the young woman to the palace of my kingdom.

So the spirit of God left me. From that day on, my words became worthless. She convinced me to build temples of idols. As a result, I, wretched man that I am, carried out her advice and the glory of God completely left me. My spirit was darkened and I became a laughing-stock to the idols and lower spirits. This is the reason that I have written out my testament, so that those who hear it might pray about, and pay attention to, the last things and not to the first things. That way they may find favour forever [final two paragraphs adapted from Duling’s translation of the eclectic critical edition].


Source of the translation: F. C. Conybeare, “The Testament of Solomon,” Jewish Quarterly Review 11 (1898): 1–45 (link); following manuscript P = Paris Library), adapted by Harland in consultation with Denis Duling’s translation in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the eclectic critical edition by Chester Charlton McCown, The Testament of Solomon (Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1922).

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