Golem (right) in the German film Der Golem (1920)—Courtesy of Friedrich-Wilhelm Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden; photograph, Museum of Modern Art Film Stills Archive, New York

In Jewish folklore, an image that comes to life. From the Middle Ages stories were told of wise men who could bring clay effigies to life by means of magic charms or sacred words. Golems began as perfect servants, whose only fault lay in fulfilling their master's commands too literally or mechanically. Later golems were imagined as protectors of the Jews in times of persecution, but also had a frightening aspect.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on golem, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up golem? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.