The world’s three most popular religions - Islam, Christianity, and Judaism - are all born from the same basic set of beliefs. Together they’re known as Abrahamic religions, and while they have diverged into many different belief systems, they do still have one thing in common: the dark figure of Samael. Often translated as Satan or the Grim Reaper, Samael is the all-powerful Archangel of Death.
There are many powerful angels and terrifying demons from the Bible, from Lucifer to Azazel, but Samael is the quintessential one, and it's because he's eternally loyal to his God. Thanks to all kinds of amazing religious translations, there are a ton of interesting facts about the Archangel Samael, like the time he wrestled with Jacob, the progenitor of Israel, or when he planted the Tree of Knowledge and tempted Adam and Eve to eat its fruit. Samael, whether you see him as good or evil, is one of the most fascinating angels in modern religion.
Samael, The Angel Of Death, Kills Only At The Behest Of God
Good and evil has no real meaning for the Angel of Death. In fact, it isn’t his place to render any sort of judgment at all. Everything happens due to God’s whim, and that most certainly includes the destruction of unrepentant men. Once God has given the order to destroy, Samael immediately goes to fulfill this duty without question.
On the hour of a person’s death, it’s said that the angel appears before them with their sword drawn, where at its tip is a drop of poison - God’s venom. It is this poison that truly kills the person, withering and yellowing them until they are no more. The expression “to taste of death” comes from this very act of angelic annihilation.
Samael Literally Means ‘The Venom Of God’
In Judaism, angels are essentially God’s messengers, and they are separated into a specific hierarchy. Archangels are said to be the most powerful of all angels, and their rank is often signified by the "EL" in their names: Samael, Michael, Raziel, and so on. Raziel, for example, means "Secret of God."
El stands for “God’s power,” and in essence means that the angel acts with the same power and authority as God. Their names are both their purpose and their commandment.
Samael is God’s venom, and his purpose is to bring death to humanity. Popular fiction over the centuries has often portrayed the archangel Samael as the infamous Grim Reaper.
Samael Is Known As The Accuser, The Seducer, And The Destroyer
Samael is a bit more than just a destroyer angel, however; he is also known as the accuser, and the seducer. Samael was the archangel who famously accused the Israelites of idolatry and condemned them to death when they fled Egypt with Moses.
And although Samael does consort with a number of angels and succubi, he isn’t a seducer because of that. Rather, he seduces humanity into acts of evil; if that seems a bit extreme, well, Samael's just doing his “job.” Samael’s angelic purpose is to test humanity and draw out the sinful and unrepentant so that God can judge them properly. And those who fail God’s judgement are then dealt with summarily: he sends Samael to perform his unceasing duty as a destroyer.
In The Kabbalah, Samael Is The Prince Of Demons And Rules The Qlippoth
The Kabbalah is an esoteric theological belief that came from out of Judaism and has since morphed into its own distinctive set of beliefs. The Kabbalah espouses the concept of the Tree of Life, otherwise known as Sefirot. Sefirot is comprised of 10 spheres, with each one representing a different facet of the Light of God: Chochmah for wisdom, Tiferet for beauty, Netzach for eternity, and so on.
As with everything however, there exists a duality.
The Qlippoth is the other side of the Sefirot, and represents the absence of God’s light. Chochmah becomes arbitrariness, Tiferet becomes hollowness, and Netzach becomes repetition. Samael and Lilith rule the Qlippoth together in many texts and translations, though some more modern - and perhaps incorrect - translations place him as merely a prince of Hod, one of the 10 spheres of the Qlippoth.