In Medieval Jewish, Islamic and Christian legends, the Seal of Solomon was a magical signet ring said to have been possessed by King Solomon, which variously gave him the power to command demons (or jinni), or to speak with animals. In one of the Arabian Nights’ Entertainments, an evil djinn is described as being imprisoned in a copper bottle for 1,800 years by a lead seal stamped by the ring. Other, later books (Pseudomonarchia Daemonum) manage to fit far more demons in the bottle.
In some versions of the story, the ring was made of brass and iron, carved with the Name of God, and set with four jewels. In later versions the ring simply bore the symbol now called the Star of David (hexagram), often within a circle, usually with the two triangles interlaced (hence chiral) rather than intersecting. Often the gaps are filled with dots or other symbols. Other versions have it as a pentagram or other more complicated figures. Works on demonology typically depict the pattern of the seal as being two concentric circles, with a number of mystical sigils between the inner and outer circles, and various more-or-less complex geometric shapes within the inner circle.
In one Arabic story it is claimed that the demon Sakhr deceived one of Solomon’s wives into giving him the ring. Sakhr then ruled in his stead for forty days (or years, in some versions) while Solomon wandered the country in poverty. However eventually Sakhr threw the ring into the sea, where it was swallowed by a fish, caught by a fisherman, and served to Solomon. As punishment Sakhr was made to build a great mosque for Solomon.
However the earliest of such stories is dated to more than a thousand years after the time of Solomon, and the story of the fish, in particular, bears a strong resemblance to Herodotus’ tale of Polycrates.
A new theory about what was actually the Seal of Solomon is to be found in the French book „Le Sceau de Salomon, secret perdu de la Bible” (The Seal of Solomon, lost key of the Bible) by Janik Pilet. According to him, it was a source for holy inspiration used by several authors of the Old and New Testaments, and its drawing is described in the first text in the Holy Bible i.e. the creation in six days.
In alchemy, the combination of the fire and water symbols (up and down triangles) is known as the Seal of Solomon. The symbol is representative of the combination of opposites and transmutation.
All about the Seal of Solomon from the jewish sources:
The legend that Solomon possessed a seal ring on which the name of God was engraved and by means of which he controlled the demons is related at length in Giá¹. 68a, b. This legend is especially developed by Arabic writers, who declare that the ring, on which was engraved „the Most Great Name of God,” and which was given to Solomon from heaven, was partly brass and partly iron. With the brass part of the ring Solomon signed his written commands to the good genii, and with the iron part he signed his commands to the evil genii, or devils. The Arabic writers declare also that Solomon received four jewels from four different angels, and that he set them in one ring, so that he could control the four elements. The legend that Asmodeus once obtained possession of the ring and threw it into the sea, and that Solomon was thus deprived of his power until he discovered the ring inside a fish (Jellinek, „B. H.” ii. 86-87), also has an Arabic source (comp. D’Herbelot, „BibliothÃ¨que Orientale,” s.v. „Soliman ben Daoud”; Fabricius, „Codex Pseudepigraphicus,” i. 1054; and see Solomon in Arabic Literature). The legend of a magic ring by means of which the possessor could exorcise demons was current in the first century, as is shown by Josephus’ statement („Ant.” viii. 2, Â§ 5) that one Eleazar exorcised demons in the presence of Vespasian by means of a ring, using incantations composed by Solomon Fabricius (l.c.) thinks that the legend of the ring of Solomon thrown into the sea and found afterward inside a fish is derived from the story of the ring of Polycrates, a story which is related by Herodotus (iii. 41 et seq.), Strabo (xiv. 638), and others, and which was the basis of Schiller’s poem „Der Ring des Polykrates.”
The Arabs afterward gave the name of „Solomon’s seal” to the six-pointed star-like figure (see Magen, Dawid) engraved on the bottom of their drinking-cups. It is related in the „Arabian Nights” (ch. xx.) that Sindbad, in his seventh voyage, presented Harun al-Rashid cup on which the „table of Solomon” was represented; and Lane thinks that this was the figure of „Solomon’s seal” (note 93 to ch. xx. of his translation of the „Arabian Nights”). In Western legends, however, it is the pentacle, or „druid’s foot,” that represents the seal. This figure, called by Bishop Kennet the „pentangle” of Solomon, was supposed to have the power of driving away demons. Mephistopheles says to Faust that he is prevented from entering the house by the druid’s foot („Drudenfuss”), or pentagram, which guards the threshold („Faust,” in Otto Devrient’s edition, part i., scene 6). The work entitled „ClaviculÃ¦ Salomonis” contains treatises on all kinds of pentacles. The tradition of Solomon’s seal was the basis of BÃ¼schenthal’s tragedy „Der Siegelring Salomonis,” specimens of which are given in „Bikkure ha-‘Ittim,” v. 3 et seq. (German part).