Samael (Hebrew: סמאל) (also Sammael, Samil, and more obscurely, Malkira meaning "king of the wicked") 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.
He is considered in legend a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties), in the New Testament named 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 resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven.
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 Heaven. Yalkut[disambiguation needed] 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 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 archangel 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.
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. In On the Origin of the World in the Nag Hammadi library texts, he is also referred to as Ariael. Or 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 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.
- In the first season episode, Powers, Principalities, Thrones and Dominions of the American television series, Millennium, Samael is referred to in the quote, "By Uriel, and by Raziel, powers, principalities, thrones and dominions, I bind and command you: Stand! I, Sammael, bound by his will, command you: Depart!" Sammael is also the name of one of the main antagonists in the episode.
- Samael is the name of a Swiss black metal/industrial metal music group
- 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 winged 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 anime TV series Macademi Wasshoi, Eitarou Sakuma is referred to as possibly being Samael, the angel of death.
- In the film Hellboy, one of the antagonists is Samael, "hound of resurrection", brought to life through mixing an exhalation of chaotic spirit with "the tears of a thousand angels repressing the spirit of Samael." His duality is expressed with the power to doubly reincarnate each time he is killed.
- In the film Gabriel, Samael is the main antagonist who leads the fallen against the arcs. The climax reveals that Samael is actually Michael, one of the archangels.
- In the Sandman books by Neil Gaiman, and the subsequent Lucifer spinoff series, Samael is the angelic name of Lucifer before his fall.
- 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 "vampire" who calls himself Samael.
- 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 Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, Sammael is one of the Forsaken, powerful human Aes Sedai who turned to Shai'tan, an analogue of Satan, gaining godlike enhancement.
- In the video game Silent Hill Samael is the head deity of The Order and serves as the first and third games' final boss, as well as being referenced several times throughout the series (together with Metatron).
- In the trilogy Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton, the antagonist Sammael is a Fallen Angel imprisoned in Hell and is unleashed on Earth to eradicate the souls of humankind, including the human soul belonging to the antagonist Gabriel, who is bound in the mortal body of a teenage girl.
- Avery Brewing Company markets an English Barleywine-style beer called Samael's Ale.
- There is an Oceano song called "Samael the Destroyer".
- In the manga Ao no Exorcist, we find out in chapter 39 the character Mephisto Pheles is actually Samael, the King of Time.
- 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
- Darksiders game series.
- Louis Ginzberg, The Ascension of Moses, Chapter IV "Aggadah: The Legend of the Jews"
- (Erika D. Johnson) rosetta.bham.ac.uk citing The Oxford Classical Dictionary definition [Retrieved 2012-12-13]
- Tales of the Hasidim, by Martin Buber. Book 1, page 77.
- "Jewish Virtual Library". Jewish Virtual Library. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- "The Apocryphon of John". Gnosis.org. Retrieved 2011-12-05.
- 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.