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What is the Testament of Solomon?

Testament of Solomon
Question: "What is the Testament of Solomon?"

The Testament of Solomon is a work written centuries after the birth of Christ and that claims to record the supernatural adventures of Solomon, the son of King David. The Testament of Solomon is structured somewhat like a deathbed confession or a letter meant for heirs. Most of the book describes Solomon’s enslavement of demons and his building of the temple through the power of a magic ring. The Testament of Solomon has an extremely late date of writing, blends various religious ideas, and is deeply tied to astrology. The book was never accepted as truth, let alone Scripture, by the early church or Jewish communities.

According to the Testament of Solomon, a young boy working on the temple is plagued by a demon sucking out his life-force through his right thumb. Solomon prays about this problem and is given a magical ring by the angel Michael. This object is sometimes referred to as the Seal of Solomon, and it was supposedly shaped like either a pentagram or a hexagram (like the Star of David). Using the ring, Solomon enslaves the demons and forces them to work on the temple project. Solomon is also able to interrogate the demons, learning which problems they cause and how to defeat them.

These stories intermingle Greek, Egyptian, and Christian spiritual ideas. The Testament of Solomon is deeply tied to astrology; the demons are associated with various stars and constellations. A type of medical alchemy is also prevalent. Demons speaking with Solomon take the blame for certain ailments and relate spells that can be used to remove their power. Many of the names given to demons in this work have been infamous in mythology and literature, names such as Asmodeus and Abyzou.

The Testament of Solomon is dated to somewhere between the third and fifth centuries, nearly 1,500 years after the life of Solomon himself. In terms of value, the Testament of Solomon is useful only for insight into legends and myths regarding Solomon. Historians note that Solomon was a popular subject of stories during the early Christian era. Fictional accounts such as the Testament of Solomon reflect that interest. The contents of this text don’t agree with inspired Scripture and weren’t accepted in any sense by the early church. Jewish scholars considered it fictional, as well.

Recommended Resource: The Canon of Scripture by F.F. Bruce

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