Samael (Hebrew: סַמָּאֵל, "Venom of God,"[1] "Poison of God," or "Blindness of God"; rarely "Smil," "Samil," or "Samiel")[2][3][4] is an important archangel in Talmudic and post-Talmudic lore, a figure who is the accuser (Ha-Satan), seducer, and destroyer (Mashhit), and has been regarded as both good and evil. Rabbinical writings describe Samael as the guardian angel of Esau [5] and a patron of Edom.

He is considered in Talmudic texts to be a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties). One of Samael's greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the main archangel of death. He remains one of God's servants even though he condones the sins of man. As an angel, Samael resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven, the reason for this being the presence of the throne of glory in the seventh heaven.[6]


In Judaism, Samael is said to be the angel of death, and the title "Satan" is accorded to him. While Satan describes his function as an accuser, Samael is considered to be his proper name. While Michael defends Israel's actions, Samael tempts people to sin.[7] He is also depicted as the angel of death and one of the seven archangels, the ruler over the Fifth Heaven and commander of two million angels such as the chief of other Satans. Yalkut Shimoni (I, 110) presents Samael as Esau's guardian angel.[2]

According to The Ascension of Moses,[8] 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. "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 then became the consort of Adam's first wife, Lilith. Lilith is a demon created alongside Adam, originally created for the role Eve would fill. Samael created with her a host of demon children, including a son, the "Sword of Samael"[9] (or Asmodai).[10]

Samael is sometimes confused in some books with Camael, an archangel of God, whose name is similar to words meaning "like God" (but Camael with a waw missing).

It is also said that the Baal Shem once summoned Samael, to make him do his bidding.[11]

In several interpretations of the Ascension of Isaiah, Samael is often identified as Malkira (Heb.: מלך רע melek ra - lit. "king of evil", "king of the wicked"; or מלאך רע malach ra - "messenger of evil", "angel of iniquity") or Belkira (prob. בעל קיר baal qir - "lord of the wall") or Bechira (בחיר רע bachir ra, - "the elect of evil", "chosen by evil"), which are all epithets of the false prophet sent by Belial to accuse Isaiah of treason. Notably, the passage also identifies him as Satan.[6]

In Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer, a Midrash work, dated to the period during the spread of Islam, Samael appears as the serpent in Genesis and Satan. Probably influenced by the Quran,[12] due to its parallels to the Islamic equivalent of Satan;[13] Samael, consisting of fire, disapproved the creation of Adam made from dust,[14] afterwards descended from heaven to seduce Adam and Eve to eat from the forbidden fruit. Furthermore, probably adopted from Apocryphon of John, Cain was born from Eve by intercourse with Samael.[15][16]


In Christian demonology Samael is sometimes regarded as a powerful demon.

According to some myths , Samael was mated with Eisheth Zenunim, Na'amah, Lilith, and Agrat bat Mahlat, all except Lilith being 'angels' of sacred prostitution.[17]

This link is a dubious one and likely arises from a case of mistaken identity equating Samael with the demon Azazel who is himself in Zoharistic lore a combination of the angels Aza and Azael.[18]


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",[19] the theme of blindness running throughout gnostic works. His appearance is that of a lion-faced serpent.[20] In On the Origin of the World in the Nag Hammadi library texts, he is also referred to as Ariael, the Archangel of Principalities.


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 Zerachiel. They are all imagined to have a special assignment to act as a global zeitgeist ("time-spirit"), each for periods of about 360 years.[21] Since 1879, anthroposophists posit, Michael has been the leading time spirit.


    • Bunson, Matthew, (1996). Angels A to Z : A Who's Who of the Heavenly Host. Three Rivers Press. ISBN 0-517-88537-9.
    • Davidson, Gustav. A Dictionary of Angels: Including the Fallen Angels. Free Press. ISBN 0-02-907052-X
    • Darksiders I and II. "An Ally in Darksiders I, and a boss in Darksiders II" Darksiders, Vigil Games
    1. "Samael" - Jewish Encyclopedia
    2. 1 2 "Samael" in A Dictionary of Angels, including the fallen angels by Gustav Davidson, Simon & Schuster, p.255
    3. Jung, Leo (1925). "Fallen Angels in Jewish, Christian and Mohammedan Literature. A Study in Comparative Folk-Lore", The Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. 16, no. 1 (July 1925), p. 88
    4. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Apocalyptic literature and testaments, ed. James H. Charlesworth, Hendrickson Publishers, 1 Feb 2010, p.658
    5. Howard Schwartz Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 978-0-195-32713-7 page 361
    6. 1 2
    7. Sara E. Karesh, Mitchell M. Hurvitz Encyclopedia of Judaism Infobase Publishing, 2005 ISBN 978-0-816-06982-8 page 447
    8. Louis Ginzberg, The Ascension of Moses, Chapter IV "Aggadah: The Legend of the Jews"
    9. Rosemary Guiley (2009). The Encyclopedia of Demons and Demonology. Infobase Publishing. pp. 222–. ISBN 978-1-4381-3191-7.
    10. "Lilith the younger". Liber 777 Notes. Archived from the original on 25 October 2014.
    11. Tales of the Hasidim, by Martin Buber. Book 1, page 77.
    12. Joseph Dan Gershom Scholem and the Mystical Dimension of Jewish History NYU Press 1987 ISBN 978-0-814-72097-4
    13. David Mevorach Seidenberg Kabbalah and Ecology Cambridge University Press 2015 ISBN 978-1-107-08133-8 page 65
    14. William Irwin Thompson The Time Falling Bodies Take To Light: Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture Palgrave Macmillan 1996 ISBN 978-0-312-16062-3 page 14
    15. Natalie B. Dohrmann, David Stern Jewish Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Exchange: Comparative Exegesis in Context University of Pennsylvania Press 2013 ISBN 978-0-812-20945-7
    16. Rachel Adelman The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha BRILL 2009 ISBN 978-9-004-17049-0 page 104
    17. (Erika D. Johnson) citing The Oxford Classical Dictionary definition [Retrieved 2012-12-13]
    18. (Rav Michael Laitman, PhD)
    19. "Jewish Virtual Library". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
    20. "The Apocryphon of John". Retrieved 2011-12-05.
    21. Matharene, B. (2003). The Archangel Michael, GA# 67 review. Retrieved from: on 11 October 2014

    Further reading

    • Charles, R.H. (trans.) (1900) The Ascension of Isaiah London, Adam & Charles Black.
    • 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.
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