According to Collin de Plancy’s Dictionnaire Infernal, Adramelech is a high chancellor of hell, president of the high council of devils, and the superintendent of the king of demons’ wardrobe. He can take the shape of a mule or peacock, and in ancient times, the people of the Assyrian city, Sepharvaim, sacrificed children to him.
Adramelech in the Old Testament
The name Adramelech (also Adrammelech, Adramelek or Adar-malik) appears in the Old Testament twice, referring to two distinctly different characters. The first time, Adramelech is mentioned as a son of the Assyrian King Sennacharib who, along with Sharezer, murdered his father while he was worshiping in the temple of his idol, Nisrach (2 Kings 19:36-38 cf. Isaiah 37:37-39). However, the “demon” de Plancy is describing should not be associated with this Adramelech.
The “demon” de Plancy describes is referenced in the second instance of Adramelech: the Sepharvite god worshiped by human sacrifice.
‘the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelech and Anammelech, the gods of Sepharvaim.’ – 2 Kings 17:31
What Do We Know About Adramelech?
To date, no mention of the Hebrew name Adramelech has been found on Assyrian inscriptions, so scholars and bible commentators have been left to speculate. The name Adramelech is most likely a reconstruction the Western Semitic “Addir-Melek” meaning “the glorious one is king,” a fitting name for a sun deity. The link between Adramelech and Moloch comes from the practice of worshiping both deities by burning children.
The name “Anammelech,” the second deity mentioned in II Kings 19, is derived from the Babylonian divine name “Anu(m)” plus the Western Semitic noun “melek” (king). This deity may refer to the male counterpart of the goddess Anat.
What Do We Know About Sepharvaim & Its Deities?
Not much is known about the city of Sepharvaim, its people or its deities. To date, theologians, Biblical scholars and Near Eastern archaeologists have proposed a number of places where Sepharvaim may have been. These include:
- Phoenicia, thus associating Adrammelech with Phoenician deities
- Syria, equating Sepharvaim with Sibraim
- Babylonian Sippar – the city’s chief sun-god was Shamash (problems with this theory)
- the Chaldean territory of Bit Awukani where Assyrian Saparre/ Babylonian Sipir’ani were thought to be located (south of Nippur)
Both the modern-day Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible and Mesopotamia and the Bible consider the latter to be the most likely based on name/language analysis comparing linguistic roots with names of kings and deities found on archaeological artifacts; but there’s no conclusive archaeological evidence of Sepharvaim’s exact location, nor which deities its people may have worshiped.
Adramelech in Paradise Lost
Adramelech is briefly mentioned as an angelic being defeated and vanquished from Heaven by archangels Uriel and Raphael in Milton’s Paradise Lost.
Uriel and Raphael his vaunting foe,
Though huge and in a rock of diamond armed,
Vanquished-Adramelech and Asmadai,
Two potent Thrones, that to be less than Gods
Disdained, but meaner thoughts learned in their flight,
Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail. – Book 6
Adramelech in the Key of Solomon
French Occultist Eliphas Levi published a fragment of the Key of Solomon in his ‘Philosophie Occulte,’ Serie II that describes Adramelech as one of the demonic counterparts to the Kabbalistic Sefirot, corresponding with Hod or eternal order.
The eighth Number is eight. The eighth Sephira is Hod or eternal order. The Spirits of Hod are the Beni-Elohim or Sons of the Gods. Their empire is that of order; they correspond to the inner sense. They have for adversaries the Samael or jugglers, whose Chief is Adramelech.
Adramelech’s Peacock Form
Presbyterian minister Matthew Henry equates Adrammelech’s worship with peacocks and associates him with Moloch in his Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible (1706):
If we may credit the traditions of the Jewish doctors, they tell us that Succoth-Benoth was worshipped in a hen and chickens, Nergal in a cock, Ashima in a smooth goat, Nibhaz in a dog, Tartak in an ass, Adrammelech in a peacock, Anammelech in a pheasant. Our own tell us, more probably, that Succoth-Benoth (signifying the tents of the daughters) was Venus. Nergal, being worshipped by the Cuthites, or Persians, was the fire, Adrammelech and Anammelech were only distinctions of Moloch. – Commentary on 4 Kings (2 Kings) 17:31
Presumably, this is the same tradition de Plancy references when he describes the demon as appearing in the shape of a peacock.