The Tale about King Solomon and Ashmedai

The tale about King Solomon and Ashmedai contains many layers and ideas, it is not just an ancient fable, but actually a story about human pride, delusions, and the nature and cause of suffering in a manner that is very similar to Buddhism.

Facing Challenge

It tells the tale of king Solomon who was ordered by God to build the temple in Jerusalem.
Since it was forbidden to use iron tools in the building process, because this metal was used for weaponry and the temple was a sacred place of peace, not a monument for violence or hatred, he was forced to find a way to carve and chisel the huge stones. After he consulted with the elders and the wise he was told that there is a magical substance/creature -The Shamir that can carve these stones.  In order to find the shamir they tell him to capture a male and female demons and ask them where it can be found. So our protagonist king does exactly as he was told and captures two demons. However the demons tell him that they don’t know where the Shamir is and that their king Ashmedai is the only one who possesses this knowledge.

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Capture Ashmedai

King Solomon commands his trusted minister Benayahu Ben Yehoyada to capture Ashmedai giving him a chain on which was graven the Divine Name and a ring on which was graven the Name. eventually benayahu tricks ashmedai and captures him, and the story describes their journey, where Ashmedai takes different symbolic actions that have philosophical meaning and understanding of the human mind and the delusions and folly of the human being.

During their journey, he saw a blind man straying from his way and he put him on the right path. He saw a drunken man losing his way and he put him on his path. He saw a wedding procession making its way merrily and he wept. He heard a man say to a shoemaker, make me a pair of shoes that will last seven years, and he laughed. He saw a diviner practising divinations and he laughed.

Ashmedai Brought to Solomon

When they reached Jerusalem he was not taken to see Solomon for three days. On the first day he asked, why does the king not want to see me? They replied, because he has overdrunk himself. So he took a brick and placed it on top of another. When they reported this to Solomon he said to them, what he meant to tell you was, give him more to drink. On the next day he said to them, why does the king not want to see me? They replied, Because he has over-eaten himself. He thereupon took one brick from off the other and placed it on the ground. When they reported this to Solomon, he said, he meant to tell you to keep food away from me. After three days he went in to see him. He took a reed and measured four cubits and threw it in front of him, saying, see now, when you die you will have no more than four cubits in this world. Now, however, you have subdued the whole world, yet you are not satisfied till you subdue me too. These actions have significance that is similar to the teachings of the Buddha.

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The Ring of Change Gold

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When Benayahu asks him to explain his actions ,heת Benayahu said to Ashmedai, why when you saw that blind man going out of his way did you put him right? He replied: It has been proclaimed of him in heaven that he is a wholly righteous man, and that whoever does him a kindness will be worthy of the future world. And why when you saw the drunken man going out of his way did you put him right? He replied, They have proclaimed concerning him in heaven that he is wholly wicked, and I conferred a boon on him in order that he may consume his share [in the future] - (which is a similar idea to the one of karma.)  Why when you saw the wedding procession did you weep? He said: The husband will die within thirty days, and she will have to wait for the brother-in-law who is still a child of thirteen years. Why, when you heard a man say to the shoemaker, make me shoes to last seven years, did you laugh? He replied: That man has not seven days to live, and he wants shoes for seven years! Why when you saw that diviner divining did you laugh? He said: He was sitting on a royal treasure: he should have divined what was beneath him.

Hidden Buddhist Ideas behind the Tale

In that way Ashmedai shares with him the delusional true nature of the World of Phenomenon. He shows him the concept of impermanence, change, karma, attachment to things which cause suffering, human ignorance, and even teaches king Solomon a lesson when eventually he uses the king’s hunger for power and wisdom and tricks him, captures the King’s signet ring with the sacred name, wears his own image and sits on his throne for seven years, while the king roams the land as a beggar and during that time he wrote the book of Ecclesiastes which deals with similar concepts and most of you are  probably familiar with this book because of the classic Byrds cover of Pete Seeger’s song “Turn! Turn! Turn!”.

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Karma Pendant Gold

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The ancient tale of King Solomon and Ashmedai - The King of Demons was written in The Babylonian Talmud which was edited in the 5 century. I only read the tale as a child in a short modern version, so when I finally read the story that was written in Aramaic I was reminded of a strange story that took place some fifteen years ago.  

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Inlaid Buddhi Ring Gold

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About the Author

David Weitzman

The jewelry artist David Weitzman combines ancient and sacred knowledge into a unique line of jewelry designed to bring people both beauty and inspiration. David's artwork harnesses the power of spiritual symbols and sacred geometry from around the world to bring those wearing this sacred jewelry happiness, vitality, excitement, and love.

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