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Samael (Hebrew: סמאל‎) (also Sammael) is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is accuser, seducer and destroyer, and has been regarded as both good and evil. It is said that he was the guardian angel of Esau and a patron of the Roman empire.

Also called Sammael and Samil, he is considered in legend a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties), and equatable with Satan and the chief of the evil spirits. One of Samael's greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the angel of death. He remains one of the Lord's servants even though he appears to want men to do evil. As a good angel, Samael supposedly resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven.

In Judaism

In Jewish lore, Samael is said to be the angel of death, the chief ruler of the Fifth Heaven and one of the seven regents of the world served by two million angels; he resides in the Seventh Heaven . Yalkut I, 110 of the Talmud speaks of Samael as Esau's guardian angel. In Sotah 10b, Samael is Esau's guardian angel, and in the Sayings of Rabbi Eliezer, he is charged with being the one who tempted Eve, then seduced and impregnated her with Cain. Though some sources identify Gadreel as the angel that seduced Eve, other Hebrew scholars say that it was Samael who tempted Eve in the guise of the Serpent. Samael is also sometimes identified as being the angelic antagonist who wrestled with Jacob, and also the angel who held back the arm of Abraham as he was about to sacrifice his son.

According to "The Ascension of Moses" (Chapter IV - Aggadah - The Legend of The Jews - By Louis Ginzberg) Samael is also mentioned as being in 7th Heaven:

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

In The Holy Kabbalah (Arthur Edward Waite, 255), Samael is described as the "severity of God", and is listed as fifth of the archangels of the world of Briah. Samael is said to have taken Lilith as his bride after she left Adam. According to Zoharistic cabala, Samael was also mated with Eisheth Zenunim, Na'amah, and Agrat Bat Mahlat — all angels of sacred prostitution.

Samael is sometimes confused in some books with Camael, an archangel of God, whose name means "He who sees God".

It is also said that the Baal Shem once summoned Sammael, to make him do his bidding. (Tales of the Hasidim, by Martin Buber. Book 1, page 77.)

In Gnosticism

In the Apocryphon of John, found in the Nag Hammadi library, Samael is the third name of the demiurge, whose other names are Yaldabaoth and Saklas. In this context, Samael means "the blind god", the theme of blindness running throughout gnostic works. His appearance is that of a lion-faced serpent.[1] In On the Origin of the World in the Nag Hammadi library texts, he is also referred to as Ariael.

In anthroposophy

To anthroposophists, Samael is known as one of the seven archangels: Saint Gregory gives the seven archangels as Anael, Gabriel , Michael, Oriphiel, Raphael, Samael and Zachariel. They are all imagined to have a special assignment to act as a global zeitgeist ('time spirit'), each for periods of about 380 years. Since 1879, anthroposophists posit, Michael has been the leading time spirit. Four important archangels are also supposed to display periodic spiritual activity over the seasons: Raphael during the spring, Uriel during the summer, Michael during the autumn, and Gabriel during the winter. In anthroposophy, archangels may be good or evil; in particular, some of their rank are collaborators of Ahriman, whose purpose (anthroposophists believe) is to alienate humanity from the spiritual world and promote materialism and heartless technical control.

Popular culture

Template:In popular culture

  • In Carl Maria von Weber's opera Der Freischütz, the devil appears under the moniker of Samiel (or Zamiel) the Black Ranger.
  • In Oceano's debut album, Depths, there is a track titled "Samael the Destroyer." In the lyrics, Samael is presented in his evil persona, as the beast who is risen to destroy humanity. "A monolithic beast bearing many names has been awaken."
  • In The Wheel Of Time series by Robert Jordan, Sammael is also the name of one of the Forsaken, a group of men and women who have chosen to follow the Dark One and are adept at using the One Power.
  • The character known as Sardius in the international versions of Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts was originally called Samael in the Japanese version.
  • In Tales of Symphonia, Samael is an enemy in Derris-Kharlan.
  • Samael is shown as a recurring recruitable character in the Megami Tensei video game series. The archangel is depicted in the game series in the form of a blood-red serpent. He is a member of the Vile Clan in the main series games, a member of the Dragon Clan in the Digital Devil Saga games and is a persona of the Death Arcana in the Persona games.
  • In the film Hellboy, one of the antagonists is a giant hell-hound called Sammael, that Hellboy nicknames "Sammy".
  • In the film Gabriel, Sammael is the main antagonist who leads the fallen against the arcs. The climax reveals that Sammael is actually Michael, one of the Arc Angels.
  • In The Mars Volta's 2006 album Amputechture Samael is a main character in "Asilos Magdalena" song's lyrics, though he's called estrella de la mañana (Spanish for morning star) which is a common epithet for Lucifer.
  • In "Powers, Principalities, Thrones And Dominions", the 19th episode of the 1st season of Millennium, the angel of death called Sammael shoots Alistair Pepper, an attorney that is supposed to be a human representation of a demon who killed Frank Black's friends, Robert Bletcher and Mike Atkins. In "Borrowed Time", the 10th episode of the 3rd season, the angel of death called Samiel boards a train fatally bound to plunge into a river to sacrifice himself and thus spare Frank Black's daughter from dying.
  • In the Sandman books by Neil Gaiman, Samael is the angelic name of Lucifer before his fall.
  • Samael is the name of an industrial/symphonic black metal band that formed in 1987 in Sion, Switzerland.
  • In Magician's Academy, Samael is a perverted Otaku teacher named Sakuma Eitarou .
  • In the 2008 film Farmhouse, Steven Weber plays Samael, a wine maker who's really a demon of torture.
  • In the videogame Painkiller, the Archangel Samael acts as a guide for the protagonist Daniel.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Control", the detectives investigate a homeless, self-proclaimed "vampire" who calls himself Samael. The unit's profiler, Dr. Huang tells the other detectives that "Samael" was the name of Lucifer prior to his fall, but theorizes that the Samael they're dealing with is probably a porphyriac rather than a supernatural being.
  • In the survival horror game Silent Hill, The Mark of Samael is the name Dahlia Gillespie falsely attributes to the Virun VII Crest which appears throughout the town and is implied to be responsible for the horrors infesting the town.[2]
  • In the 2010 video game Darksiders, Samael is portrayed as a demon imprisoned eons ago for his insolence and threat to "The Dark Prince" of Hell. The game's protagonist, War, releases Samael and helps him to regain his full power by slaughtering The Destroyer's four "Chosen" and returning their hearts for Samael's consumption. In turn, Samael grants War powers of his own, and also gives him access to the Destroyer's spire. In the prequel comic released to those that pre-ordered the game, he is shown to have some form a relation with a demon named Lilith, just like the relation between the biblical Lilith and Samael.
  • Track 6 on the Ego Likeness album "Breedless (album)" is entitled "Song for Samael".


  • Bunson, Matthew, (1996). Angels A to Z : A Who's Who of the Heavenly Host. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-88537-9.
  • John Le Carré, "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold": The protagonist of this short novel is Alec Leamas, "Leamas" being Samael spelled backwards. The character of Leamas has the dual good and evil qualities variously assigned to the angel Samael.
  • Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X
  1. The Apocryphon of John
  2. "This magic square, with strong protective and dispelling properties, is called the 'Virun VII crest' or the 'Seal of Metatron'. It will bring results regardless of whether the target is good or evil; its strength, therefore, places a very high burden on the caster. As it is also difficult to control, it is not usually used. This is why it bears the name 'Metatron' after the angel Metatron (or Metratron) also known as the Agent of God.""GameFAQs: Silent Hill 3 (PS2) File Transcripts by halo077". Retrieved on 2009-06-28.

Further reading

  • Bamberger, Bernard Jacob, (March 15, 2006). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0
  • Cruz, Joan C. (1999). Angels and Devils. Tan Books & Publishers. ISBN 0-89555-638-3.
  • Jung, Leo (1925). "Fallen Angels in Jewish, Christian and Mohammedan Literature. A Study in Comparative Folk-Lore", published in four parts in The Jewish Quarterly Review, New Ser.
    • Vol. 15, No. 4 (Apr., 1925), pp. 467–502, doi:10.2307/1451739
    • Vol. 16, No. 1 (Jul., 1925), pp. 45–88, doi:10.2307/1451748
    • Vol. 16, No. 2 (Oct., 1925), pp. 171–205, doi:10.2307/1451789
    • Vol. 16, No. 3 (Jan., 1926), pp. 287–336, doi:10.2307/1451485

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