The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
Dualism in the Synoptics
The paucity of pre-Christian witness to the satanological terminology in the Synoptic temptation accounts, together with the absence from the Synoptics of established Second Temple terms for supernatural Satan figures (Satanael, Mastema, Belial, Shemihazah, Azâzêl, etc), gives reason to doubt the Synoptic writers held the cosmological dualistic views of their contemporaries. An examination of dualism in the Synoptics, within their Second Temple Period context, leads in a very different direction.
Identifying the Adversary
Matthew and Luke’s temptation accounts both consistently refer to Jesus’ adversary as ‘the devil’, whereas Mark’s account only refers to Jesus’ adversary once, as ‘Satan’ (Mark 1:13).
Literary Genre of the Wilderness Temptation
Despite its superficial appearance as a simple historical record, the Synoptic account of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness¹ has often been interpreted as symbolic or parabolic of Jesus’ experiences, since the early Christian era.² The popularity of this interpretation waxed and waned throughout history; Origen understood the account as a dramatized parable,³ and although Aquinas opposed those who interpreted the temptations as visionary,⁴ the view was common among early Reformers, finding its way into the marginal commentary of early printed Bibles.⁵ Current scholarly commentary typically treats the wilderness temptation account as a visionary experience,⁶ symbolic description,⁷ or dramatization of events throughout Jesus’ ministry,⁸ and commentaries advise against reading the account as literally historical.⁹
Satan & Demons In the Apostolic Fathers
The “Apostolic Fathers” (a group of Christian texts written from the late first century to the early second century),¹ are recognized as unusual in their era for their paucity of references to demons, demon possession, exorcism, and illness caused by demons;² additionally, rejection of supernatural evil beliefs has also been noted in texts such as the Didache.³ The fact that a number of texts in the Apostolic fathers contain explicit reference to supernatural evil, typically a figure identified as Satan,⁴ makes it more remarkable that other texts in the same corpus do not contain any such references.
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: Summary
The following list summarizes the lexical evidence for the Synoptics’ satanological terminology in Second Temple pre-Christian texts.
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: The Evil One
The term ‘the evil one’ (ton ponērou), has no Second Temple pre-Christian witness as a reference to a supernatural evil being. It is found in one fifteenth century Ethiopian manuscript of 1 Enoch (manuscript A, 1 Enoch 69:15), but not the other two main recensions (manuscripts B and C).¹
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: The Tempter
The term ‘the tempter’ (ho peirazwn), has no pre-Christian witness in the intertestamental or Qumran literature at all.
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: Satan
Three terms are used to describe Christ’s adversary in the Synoptic temptation accounts; ‘satan’ (ho satanas in Mark 1:12, with the vocative satana without the definite article only in Matthew 4:10), ‘the tempter’ (ho peirazwn, only in Matthew 4:3), and ‘the devil’ (ho diabolos). Elsewhere in Matthew (and only Matthew), the term ‘the evil one’ (ho ponēros), may also be used (Matthew 5:37; 6:13; 13:19, 38), though this is debated in the literature.¹
Satanological Terminology in the Synoptics: The Devil
The term ‘the devil’ (ho diabolos), is virtually never used in pre-Christian Second Temple literature outside the Old Greek texts of the Hebrew Scriptures. In the Old Greek texts¹ it is found in in 1 Chronicles 21:1 (of the adversary which attacks Israel, prompting David’s census), Esther 7:4; 8:1 (of Haman), Psalm 108:6 (of a human slanderer), Job 1:6-9, 12; 2:1-4, 6-7 (of Job’s adversary), and Zechariah 3:1-2 (of the accuser of Joshua).
Satanology of the Apostolic Fathers: The Didache
Scholarly consensus dates the Didache at the end of the first century.¹ Although the Didache shares a Jewish ‘Two Ways’ textual source with the Epistle of Barnabas² (represented in Qumran texts such as the ‘Community Rule’ or ‘Manual of Discipline’ 1QS, 4QSa-j, 5Q11, 5Q13), it has treated this source very differently to Barnabas. Whereas Barnabas adopted and amplified the supernatural evil found in the Two Ways text, the Didache has eliminated it. This is immediately apparent from a comparison of the opening of the Didache to its parallels in 1QS and Barnabas.
The Two Yods of Genesis Chapter 2
Rabbi Nahman ben Rabbi Hisda expounded: What is meant by the text, Then the Lord God formed [wa-yizer] man?¹ [The word wa-yizer] is written with two yods, to show that God created two inclinations, one good and the other evil.
Christ’s Wilderness Temptations
It has been said that a second person must have been present, tempting Christ with ideas, since ‘the suggestions were evil suggestions, out of a carnal mind, and this could not possibly have been generated from the mind of Christ.’ In other words, the thoughts were the thoughts of a carnal mind and Christ did not have a carnal mind. This position is based on the premise that ‘Christ, possessing the Holy Spirit, would not entertain any thoughts contrary to the will of God.’
The Evil Inclination: Entice Now, Testify Later
R[abbi] Samuel b[en] Nahmani citing R[abbi] Johanan stated, The Evil Inclination entices man in this world and testifies against him in the world to come, as it is said, He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become a manon [master] at the last.
Elie Wiesel’s autobiographical Night is considered to be a masterpiece of Holocaust literature. First published in 1958, it recounts the story of an adolescent boy and his father in Auschwitz. Wiesel writes primarily of their battle for survival in the Nazi death camps. Although it is a stark peek into the nature of evil, providing a litany of the daily terrors, everyday perversions, and rampant sadism at Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Night also touches on a truth that is distinctly Jewish. That is, that evil resides within each one of us.
The Evil Inclination and Free Will
...[It] is necessary to say something about the evil inclination ( יצר הרע = yetzer hara) and the good inclination ( יצר טוב = yetzer hatov).¹ The term יצר (yetzer) the Hebrew Bible can mean “vessel” (Isaiah 29:16) or “that which is formed in the mind, imagination, purpose” (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; Deuteronomy 31:21; 1 Chronicles 28:9; 29:18; Isaiah 26:3). In Siriach 14:14 it means “natural inclination” in the specific sense of free will.² The idea of two inclinations is found in the Testament of Asher 1:3-9 [Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs], which speaks of the two inclinations (duo diaboulia).³ The stereotyped terms ( יצר הרע = yetzer hara) and ( יצר טוב = yetzer hatov) were Rabbinic, ( יצר הרע= yetzer hara) being older than ( יצר טוב = yetzer hatov), the latter first occurring most likely in Rabbi Jose the Galilaean (early second century).⁴ According to Tennant, the talmudic literature “insists on a man’s capacity to control his evil inclination, might as it is” and there is “no hint that his free-will is diminished in consequence of the sin of his first parents.”⁵ Further, the evil inclination, although implanted in Adam, is not a consequence of Adam’s sin.⁶ The evil inclination was the cause of Adam’s sin and in fact in some texts is personified.⁷ This evil inclination then can rule over everyone. It was, however, possible to resist the evil inclination through the Torah. So in Baba Batra 16a [Talmud] we read: “If God created the evil inclination, He also created the Torah as its antidote (lit. spices).” See also Sifre Deuteronomy 45:
A Note on the Evil Inclination and Sexual Desire in Talmudic Literature
The biblical concept that humankind’s foundational distinction is that it was made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) made R[abbi] Akiva remark: “Beloved (sc. to God) is man, in that he was created in the (divine) image: still more beloved in that it was made known to him that he was created in this image” (m. Avoth 3, 15). And Akiva definitely was not the only rabbi to cherish this idea. All the more striking is it that the rabbis developed the theory that an evil inclination or impulse was part of this image. The widespread Goethean concept of the existence of ‘zwei Seelen in meiner Brust’ [‘two souls within my breast’] was given expression by the early rabbis in a theory of two yetsarim ‘inclinations, desires, passions, drives, impulses, bents of mind’), namely the yetser ha-tov (the desire to do good) and the yetser ha-ra‘ (the desire to do evil).
Interesting “Jots and Tittles"
Remember that Jesus said that these would not “pass from the law” until all scripture is fulfilled.
Guarding The Eyes: What Judaism Says
Whoever goes out into the street is liable to lose both worlds, this one and the World to Come, G–d forbid. This can be so through looking at...the lewdness that is all around us and that contaminates the brain and the soul. And as the Rambam writes in Hilchot Teshuva (Chapter 4, 4), most people don’t realize that it is what the eyes see that later leads a person to the act of sin.
Good and Evil Angels
In another form of symbolism the Kabalist tells us a man has two companions, or guides; one on the right, Yetzer ha Tob, to good acts, he is from the higher Sephiroth; and one on the left, Yetzer ha Ra, encouraging the appetites and passions, temptations to evil, is an agent of Samael and of The Beast. Man is in a very unfortunate position according to the Zohar 95 b, for it is there said that the Evil Angel joins him at birth, but the Good Angel only at the age of 13 years.
Our Friends and the Evil Inclination
We must realize many sins result chiefly from evil acquaintances, so one must flee from those persons as one would from fire. The Yetzer Hara (Evil Inclination) has already taken up permanent residence with such persons, and he appoints them messengers to shoot arrows even at the souls of their friends. These “arrows” are their foul language and irreverence with which they make every prohibition seem more attractive, provoking their own Evil Inclination and that of their friends, and causing every evil to occur. As Chazal said¹, “Many friends do evil.” Even if they advise and entice one to only go along with them but not do what they do, one should not heed them, because this is the incitement of the Evil Inclination itself. The Torah says, “Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked” (Tehillim [Psalms] 1:1); and King Shlomo [Solomon] cried out, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent If they say, ‘Come with us’...do not walk in the way with them” (Mishlei [Proverbs] 1:10,15).
Inclination, Good and Evil
There is a biblical basis to the idea of the existence in man’s nature of an instinctive tendency, or impulse, (yeẓer as in Psalms 103:14 from yaẓar, i.e., to “form” or “create” as in Genesis 2:8), which, left to itself, would lead to his undoing by prompting him to act in a manner contrary to the will of God (whence the term yeẓer ha-ra or “inclination to evil”). Thus, in Genesis 5 it is stated that “every inclination of the thoughts of his – i.e., man’s – heart is only evil continually” and again in Genesis 8:21 “for the inclination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”
Boaz’s Evil Inclination
The book of Ruth describes an especially charged encounter between Boaz and Ruth on the threshing floor (Ruth 3:6-15). The verses, however, narrate this crucial scene, in which the heroine is transformed from a childless refugee to the matriarch of the Israelite royal line, in a laconic and enigmatic fashion, concealing more than they reveal. The Midrash¹, here as elsewhere, uncovers what Scripture hides. The Tannaitic homily unfolds the entire erotic drama that played out that night on the threshing floor, a drama to which the bible only alludes. But, to the readers’ great surprise, in the Midrashic reconstruction, the drama is not between Boaz and Ruth at all, but between Boaz and himself; or, to be more precise, between Boaz and his evil yetzer:
Satan, Evil Inclination and Angel of Death: One and the Same—How?
[L]isten to the following useful instruction given by our Sages, who in truth deserve the title of “wise men”: it makes clear that which appears doubtful, and reveals that which has been hidden, and discloses most of the mysteries of the Law. They said in the Talmud as follows: R. Simeon, son of Lakish, says: “The adversary (satan), evil inclination (yezer ha-ra’), and the angel of death, are one and the same being.”
The Sons of God and Satan
“The sons of God then came to present themselves before the Lord, and the adversary came also among them and in their number” (Job 1:6, 2:1). It is not said: “And the sons of God and the adversary came to present themselves before the Lord”: this sentence would have implied that the existence of all that came was of the same kind and rank. The words used are these: “And the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and the adversary came also among them.”
Rabbinic Writings on the Evil Inclination
Antoninus asked Rabbi, “At what time does the impulse to evil gain mastery over man: at the time of his conception or at the time he is born?”
Resisting the Evil Inclination: Rabbinic Examples
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
Some Difficult Passages: The Temptation in the Wilderness
Who or what was the devil that tempted the Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness? Let us try to discuss this question logically and unemotionally.
Babylonian Talmud — Mas. Sukkah 52a
And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart.¹ Is it not, they said, an a fortiori argument? If in the future² when they will be engaged in mourning and the Evil Inclination will have no power over them,³ the Torah⁴ nevertheless says, men separately and women separately, how much more so now⁵ when they are engaged in rejoicing and the Evil Inclination has sway over them.⁶
The Absence of Satan in the Old Testament
Although English Bibles continue the practice of capitalizing the word “satan” in passages like Job 1 and 2, those passage do not have a specific individual in mind. “Satan” in these passages should not be understood as a proper personal name.
The Evil Inclination: The Dark Side
Alas! Alas! Time eats away our lives, And the hidden Enemy who gnaws at our hearts Grows by drawing strength from the blood we lose! —Charles Baudelaire, L’Ennemi
The Evil Inclination At Sinai
The giving of the Torah at Sinai provided Israel with a unique moment and opportunity in history. A Midrashic passage explains:
The Northerner and the Evil Inclination
The verse narrates God’s promise to cast away the locusts destroying the land. However the symbolic name of the enemy (’Northener’, i.e. one who comes from the north) and the intense imagery of the verse, led the homilist to seek for another, less trivial, enemy in the verse, one which might also be relevant for his own experience. The ‘northener’ (tzfoni) is thus read as the yetzer [hara], hidden (tzafun) in every person’s heart.
The Origin of Sin
Sin began with Adam. Only a single commandment — a prohibition — was laid upon him, and he transgressed it. See how many deaths were the penalty for him and his descendants through all generations to the end of the world...¹ A late Midrash uses the consequence of Adam’s sin to illustrate that God himself cannot correct the evil men have done.
The Yetser HaTov in Rabbinic Thought
The rabbinic notion of two inclinations – good and evil – vying for domination in each human heart is first mentioned and best known from a homily on Deuteronomy 6:5, the second verse in the Shema, which begins “ve’ahavta et hashem elokekha bekhol levavkha…” Commenting on the use of the variant form levavkha, with double bet, for “your heart,” instead of libkha with one bet, the darshan explains that you are expected to love God with both your inclinations, the good and the evil: “bishney yetsarekha, yetser hatov viyetser hara.” Versions of this homily are found in Mishnah Berakhot 9:5, Sifre Deuteronomy 32 and Tosefta Berakhot 6:7. In the Tosefta this darshan is identified as the second century tanna [sage] Rabbi Meir, the primary teacher of Rabbi Judah the Patriarch, editor of the Mishnah.
The Yetzer haTov and Yetzer haRa [Good and Evil Inclinations] in the Talmud
According to the Jewish Talmud, every person possesses two inclinations: a good inclination and a bad inclination. The concept of a good inclination (yetzer tov) and an evil inclination (yetzer hara) in the heart of man abounds in the Talmud and the Midrashim. Below is a list of Talmudic passages where this concept is found:
Vayishlach — The Task of the Yetzer Hara
In Parshas Vayishlach we read of Jacob’s nighttime struggle with a mysterious antagonist who attacked him and struggled with him until just before daybreak. When the “man” saw that he could not defeat Jacob, he dislocated Jacob’s hip joint. He then said to Jacob (Genesis 32:27), “Let me go for the dawn is rising.” Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man then told him that he would no longer be called Jacob but Israel, for he had become great before God and man. Jacob then asked for the man’s name but he refused to reveal it.
What is the Jewish Definition of Angel?
There are basically two main “types” of angels according to Judaism. One type is an angel made by God to act as a messenger or agent in this world. The other type is an angel that is formed when a person does a mitzvah.
Humanity Was Formed With Two Impulses
The Jewish Talmud is essentially a collection of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish ethics, laws (instruction/revelation), customs, and history. It has two components: the Mishnah, the first written compendium of Judaism’s Oral Law; and the Gemara, a discussion of the Mishnah and related Tannaitic writings that often ventures onto other subjects and expounds broadly on the Hebrew Scriptures (The Tanakh). The terms Talmud and Gemara are often used interchangeably. (Adopted from the Wikipedia entry for the Talmud.)
Yezer Ha-Ra (Judaism)
The Yezer Ha-Ra (“evil inclination”) has a recurring role in Jewish rabbinical writings as an embodiment of that within the heart or imagination of humankind that functions as ha Satan (the adversary) and tempts a man to do wrong. The Yezer Ha-Ra is part of human nature and exists in each human being as an always present potential adversary to Good. In most lore the Yezer Ha-Ra seems to be a powerful impulse that can erupt in the heart of a rabbi or scholar as easily as in the heart of an ordinary person. The emphasis is on the struggle within each inhabited psyche. The Yezer Ha-Ra usually manifests as an (almost) irresistible lustful urge. It is considered especially dangerous when a man leaves the synagogue on Friday night and goes home. En route he is accompanied by a good spirit and the Yezer Ha-Ra. If he is distracted from his spiritual reflection, he can fall victim to the latter. This is also true just after the marriage ceremony; the groom is considered very vulnerable due to the presence of spirits around the sacred rite and human closeness to the spiritual realm.
Strategies for Combating the Evil Inclination in Rabbinic Literature
The rabbinic literature, Talmud and Midrash¹, are not single books but a result of a creative process that took place over several centuries. The process of creating Talmud began in 100 CE and ended with its redaction in around 500 CE. The Talmud consists of sixty-three volumes of the discussions, debates and discourses in Babylonian and Palestinian rabbinic academies. Over the span of these four centuries, scribes took notes of the discussions, then organized the notes topically and edited them into the sixty-three volumes. In the Talmud text the rabbis discuss every imaginable life issue and concern, among them the inclination humans have to transgress God’s commandments. They called this inclination the yetzer hara, or evil inclination...
The Manifestation of the Evil Inclination in Rabbinic Literature
The rabbinic literature, Talmud and Midrash, are not single books but a result of a creative process that took place over several centuries. The process of creating Talmud began in 100 CE and ended with its redaction in around 500 CE. The Talmud consists of sixty-three volumes of the discussions, debates and discourses in Babylonian and Palestinian rabbinic academies. Over the span of these four centuries, scribes took notes of the discussions, then organized the notes topically and edited them into the sixty-three volumes. In the Talmud text the rabbis discuss every imaginable life issue and concern, among them the inclination humans have to transgress God’s commandments. They called this inclination the yetzer hara, or evil inclination...
Origin and Ultimate Disposition of the Evil Inclination in Rabbinic Literature
The rabbinic literature, Talmud and Midrash, are not single books but a result of a creative process that took place over several centuries. The process of creating Talmud began in 100 CE and ended with its redaction in around 500 CE. The Talmud consists of sixty-three volumes of the discussions, debates and discourses in Babylonian and Palestinian rabbinic academies. Over the span of these four centuries, scribes took notes of the discussions, then organized the notes topically and edited them into the sixty-three volumes. In the Talmud text the rabbis discuss every imaginable life issue and concern, among them the inclination humans have to transgress God’s commandments. They called this inclination the yetzer hara, or evil inclination.
The Death of the Evil Inclination
Rabbi Hiyya logically deduces that in the messianic era . . . only the Good Inclination (yetser tov) will remain in the human heart, and so he states “the Evil Impulse [personified as Satan] has no sway in the time to come.”¹
Entice My Son
According to Judaism, the Zohar was written in order to communicate a Kabbalistic message to the disciples of God. Among those messages is the following, which illustrates how the Evil Inclination that God created within man can be “very good”:
In the future era of Moshiach, God will slaughter the inclination for evil.
Fooling the Satan Inside of Us
This may seem a little bit counterintuitive at first. If the month of Elul¹ is an awakening process culminating in Rosh Hashana [the Jewish celebration of the New Year], wouldn’t it make sense to blow more blasts of the Shofar [ram’s horn] on Erev Yom Teru’ah [the evening before “the day of shouting and horn blowing,” i.e., New Year’s Eve]? Chazal’s² [(our Jewish sages’)] famous answer is even more counterintuitive—“to fool the satan,” they wrote. By not blowing shofar on Erev Rosh Hashana [New Year’s Eve], we theoretically put the Yetzer Hara [the Evil Inclination] “at ease,” so that it won’t be ready to prosecute when it counts on the Day of Judgement.
The next question posed by Antoninus concerns the yetzer hara [the Evil Inclination]. Here, rather than the word נתנה (invested), the Gemara uses the term שולט (rules). I submit that this semantic difference, while not unusual, is an important one. To support his contention that the yetzer hara begins to rule at the moment of birth, rather than at “forming,” Antoninus quotes Genesis 4:7, “sin coucheth at the door.” Notice that the verse states that sin, not the yetzer hara, couches at the door. It is my contention that the Gemara refers to the time when the yetzer hara rules, that is, dominates man. While it is present (in vested, if you will) from conception, it begins to assert itself only when man encounters the possibility of sin, the requisite stimulus for expression of the yetzer hara. This, I submit, is the answer to the objection raised by the M'harsha (ad. locum). That is, the yetzer hara was indeed present in the twins within Rebecca’s womb. The very fact that they did not “kick their way out of their mother’s womb” attests to the yetzer hara’s presence, rather than its dominance.
Judaism Can Have No Place For A Devil
The Absolute Being, then, is necessarily a Spirit. He is also necessarily Alone. He is the One and only God... Polytheism is its negation, its denial. If there are more gods than one, it is clear that none of them can be perfect, or they would not all exist; none of them is all-sufficient for the task of making and ruling the universe. It demands their united powers. And, in fact, the old Pagans never thought of their gods as perfect. Each god was a monarch reigning over a separate realm, with which the others might not interfere. Like monarchs, too, they often fought with each other for mastery, and one or other of them was beaten.
Good and Evil and Human Choice in Judaism
Most 1st-century Jews rejected a Platonic dualism between body and soul.¹ Instead, the moral battle was waged by two inner impulses. In Hebrew literature they are called the yetzer tob and the yetzer ra', the good and evil inclinations. A common Greek equivalent of yetzer is diaboulion, or both languages may speak of two ‘spirits’ (Heb: ruah; Grk: pneuma). A modern representation of the Two Impulses is the cartoon of a good and an evil angel sitting on a person’s shoulder and whispering advice. As in the cartoon, the individual makes the final decision.
New Testament Satanology & Rabbinic Literature
Tom Farrar has written an article discussing the relevance of post-Christian rabbinic literature to the satanology of the New Testament and early Christianity. His article contains some useful information, but also contains some highly misleading statements.
Paul’s Inner Struggle
Paul’s contrast between flesh and spirit sounds Platonic. But for Paul, humans were not divided into flesh and spirit (i.e. body and soul, as in Plato) as opposing categories. It is not the human spirit fighting against the corporeal); man’s aspiration is not the loosing of one’s own spirit from the tomb of the body. Rather, for Paul, it is similar to the formulation of the Rabbis. [That is,] Man faces a constant inner struggle because he possesses both the yetzer ha-tov (good inclination) and the yetzer ha-ra (evil inclination).
Questions About The Yetzer Hara
Here are two questions for you to consider:
Strategies for Warring Against the Evil Inclination
It is written, “And Jacob sent messengers [angels according to one interpretation] ahead of him … to the land of Seir, the field of Edom. And he commanded them, saying, ‘Thus shall you say to my lord, to Esau: “Thus has Jacob your servant said, ‘I have sojourned with Laban and stayed until now’” ’” (Genesis 32:4-5). Further on it is written, “And Jacob was greatly afraid, and was distressed” (v. 8).
The Temptation of Christ: A Ten Point Idiosyncratic Interpretation
Tom Farrar has written a ten point interpretation of the temptation of Christ in the wilderness, aimed at supporting his personal satanology. The list is idiosyncratic in that it makes various arguments which are unique to Farrar, and which are contradicted or dismissed in the scholarly literature. This article lists and critiques each of Farrar’s points.
The Devil, His Origin and End
The word “devil” is used by some flippantly and frivolously, and the subject of the devil is regarded as one to excite laughter and derision. While there is some excuse for this because of the absurd theories set forth in the religious world, theories in which there is a strange mixture of the sublime with the ridiculous, yet the subject deserves and demands a most serious consideration; and it is this demand which renders it necessary for us to include the investigation of it in our dealing with the great problems of the world’s redemption.
Two B’s or Not Two B’s
A parallel to the Yerushalmi [Jerusalem Talmud] enables us to see how a dualistic conception of the Evil Impulse [often personified as “Satan”] can give way to a monistic one (and vice versa). The text of interest is a short midrashic comment on Psalms 48:14 found in Genesis Rabbah. The source, however, is best understood in light of a slightly earlier midrashic comment on Deuteronomy 6:5 found in the Sifre to which we will turn first.
In Judaism, the yetzer harah is the inclination or impulse to evil, popularly identified with the lusts of the flesh. It also leads to such sins as greed, anger, revenge, violence, and idolatry.
Zebub Was A Symbol Of Impurity
The ZEBUB was a symbol of impurity. “Behold, now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God” (2 Kings 4:8). How did she discover this? From the fact that no fly crossed the table of Elisha. A Thorah-flame, an אש דת (Deuteronomy 33:2), goes forth from the righteous, and purifies the air around. Cf. pp. 35, 79.
Judas and His Satan
One of the most intriguing backstories that takes place in the days leading up to Jesus’ death can be found in the relationship between Judas Iscariot, Jesus’ betrayer, and “Satan”:
Move Over, Freud: Real Jewish Psychology 101
There’s a myth that Sigmund Freud, the famous ‘father’ of modern psychology, was the first Jew who ever managed to start working out that human beings have a whole subconscious thing going on. Freud started speculating about ‘ego’ and ‘id’ and a bunch of other now discredited theories about what was causing emotional and mental issues in people, and voila, he was lauded for the better part of a century for his amazing (yet completely unproven…) insights into the human character.
Satanas in the Septuagint
The word “Satan” (Σατανᾶς, Satanás) in Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 21:27 (it occurs nowhere else in the Apocrypha) denotes one’s own wicked heart, as the parallelism shows:
The lexica agree on the point that the noun שָׂטָן in general means “adversary”, or “opponent.”⁶ The [word] can have this role in a number of arenas, including jurisprudence, military, and political. The lexica begin to diverge slightly only on the issue of whether or not שָׂטָן can be used as a proper name.
The Miracle of Childbirth
The first question that arises is why is there any type of Tumah (contamination) at all in one of the most miraculous and beautiful events in Life-Childbirth? The second question is why the Tumah period for a male child is a total of 40 days and the Tumah period for a female child is twice as long at 80 days? The third question is why a Chatat (sin-offering) must be brought at all by the mother?
English Etymology of Satan
Satan (n.) Old English Satan, from Late Latin Satan (in Vulgate in Old Testament only), from Greek Satanas, from Hebrew satan “adversary, one who plots against another,” from satan “to show enmity to, oppose, plot against,” from root s-t-n “one who opposes, obstructs, or acts as an adversary.”
Satan in the Dead Sea Scrolls
As a term, śātān means “accuser” or “one who brings charges against.” In the Dead Sea Scrolls and related literature, it occurs five times. In three, perhaps four of these instances, the word is preceded by a term such as “all,” “any” (after a negative), or “no” (1QHa XXII [frag. 4], 6; XXIV [frag. 45], 3; 1 Q28b I, 8; 4Q50 41-2 IV, 12) and therefore simply refers to someone—anyone, whether angelic or human—who engages in destructive activity. The word also occurs twice in the Jubilees, found among fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and composed during the middle of the second century BCE. Jubilees states that at the end of days “there will be neither satan nor any evil who [or better: “which”] will destroy” (23:29). Here Satan refers to someone—anyone—who destroys by cutting a human being’s life short. In Jubilees 10:11, however, the word “satan” describes the activity of a figure called Mastema, whose power over a host of evil spirits is considered the cause of human suffering and idolatry afrer the time of the flood.
The Path of the Upright and the Arrows of the Madman
The reader is already acquainted with the meaning of the term Innocence, as used by our author. The same subject, under another name, is treated of in the “Duties of the Heart.” In the fourth chapter of that work the pious Rabbi Bechayi, with his usual eloquence, exhorts the reader to be sincere and pure in serving his God; to examine carefully his motives; to beware against the insinuations of an evil heart, which misrepresent to our- selves the true character of our actions. But what need we describe what R. Bechayi says, let him speak for himself (“Duties of the Heart,” book 5, chap. 5):—
Two Jots, No Tittles
And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led in the Spirit in the wilderness during forty days, being tempted of the devil. And he did eat nothing in those days: and when they were completed, he hungered. And the devil said unto him, if thou art the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread. (Luke 4:1-3)
Some Notes on the Temptation of Christ
In Luke 4:2, we read that Jesus was forty days tempted of the devil in the wilderness of Judea. Of those forty days of stress we know nothing at all, save that they were days of complete fasting for Jesus. At the end of the fast, he was intensely hungry.
The Temptation of Christ
To some, the thought that Jesus could be tempted in the accepted sense of of the word, and with any probability of succumbing, is shocking. For them, the temptation was merely a demonstration that the Son of God was superior to the wiles of the tempter. The triumphant sequel shewed that he was indeed superior, but not before the Son of Man, girt with our humanity, had wrestled with himself, and won the greatest victory of his life. It was no mere matter of an exchange of texts with an artful interlocutor. The whole force of the incident lies in the tremendous reality of the issues raised—that when the Scripture says he was tempted it means that he was subjected to trial and proof. Now if this is to convey anything at all, it must be that the situation held for Christ the possibility of triumph or disaster. This must have been so if the triumphant conclusion was to be regarded as a victory at all.
Diabolos, or the New Testament Devil
“A bishop must be… not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of those which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:6, 7)
The Deconstruction of the ‘Satan’ Myth in Job
It strikes me as ironic that the mention of ‘Satan’ in the early chapters of Job has been speed-read as evidence for the orthodox concept of Satan as an evil being in opposition to God. For on closer reading of Job, especially against its background of Canaanite and Babylonian myths about Satan, it becomes apparent that one purpose of the book is to deconstruct the myth of an evil ‘Satan’ figure. The epic poem demonstrates that God is all powerful, the ultimate source of calamity, and yet He works through this to the ultimate happy blessing of His children.
Tempted of the Devil
The baptism of Jesus was followed immediately by his temptation: “Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil” (Matthew 4:11). Here was the immediate inevitable clash between the two natures in the Son of God. The phrases “led of the Spirit” and “tempted of the devil” use the same preposition, as though emphasizing these two natures in him.
A Biblical Exposition of that Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan: Chapter 1
Sound thinking, that is, cultivated and well-directed common sense, applied to the discovery of truth, either natural or revealed, has followed the rule, That nothing ought to be believed as true, unless its truth can be demonstrated by an appeal to the facts recorded in the book of Creation, or to those revealed in the book of Revelation.
The God of Order versus the Devil's Omnipotence, Omniscience, and Omnipresence
In the preceding Chapters we have endeavoured to demonstrate that there is no such being as the Devil, and have opened up the true meaning attached to the terms “devil,” “satan,” “demon,” and have shown that these are applicable to conditions in which the primary idea represented in each has appended to it some particularity justifying the distinct appellation.
The Devil and the Falsely-accusing State of Mind of Man
Man has three departments in his constitution, an animal, selfish in its tendencies; a moral and religious, or spiritual, universal in its tendencies; and an intellectual, operative in the formation and communication of ideas. The institutions of society are, in general, appeals to man’s nature; they patronise self; they give nutriment to self; they draw forth the abundant and destructive fruits of self. The religion of Christ, on the other hand, appeals to man’s moral and religious nature; it cultivates universality of feeling and the love-neighbour principle; it draws forth the fruits of kindness, of mercy, of justice, and of true humility God-ward. The distinction between the institutions of society and the requirements of the truth is forcibly depicted by the great teacher: “Ye have heard that it hath been said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth, But I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.’ But I say unto you, love thine enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you, That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain, On the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect,” Matthew 5:38-48.
A Biblical Exposition of that Old Serpent, the Devil and Satan: Chapter 3
Another term which has been referred to in the preceding examination of the devil is....
Satan and the Adverse State of Health and Mind
It was proved in the previous Chapter that the word sathan or satan is applied, in a variety of instances, to human beings, and that the particular feature constituting a human being a satan is that the being is in a state of opposition—that is, in the attitude or relation of an adversary to the individual with whom he is brought into relationship. To be in such a state of opposition is to be an adversary; and that this word is strictly expressive of the meaning of the Hebrew word satan was proved, and many instances the Common Version of the Scriptures, where the word is so translated, were given.
The Devil of the Bible
In medieval times the devil was pictured as an immortal monster with great horns and hoofs, a fiendish character who tortured unfortunate sinners condemned to “hell.” A painting depicting such a creature tending the fires of hell, suggesting unbelievable torture of the victims, is still in existence in a church in England.
Subjective Interpretations of Jesus’ Temptations
“Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.” (Matthew 4:1)
Christ’s Temptation of the Devil
If we desire to have a correct understanding of this narrative we must divest our minds of preconceived ideas, and engrave on the clear surface a distinct impression of the Christ of the Apostle’s testimony “The Man Christ Jesus.” This man — for he was a man — a man approved of God among the Jews — was the promised prophet that God said He would raise up unto Israel from among their brethren, like unto Moses. If we fail to grasp this reality we cannot appreciate the truth of the temptation.
Two Jots, No Tittles
In Judaism, the “yetzer hara” refers to the inclination to do evil, present at birth, which is capable of violating the will of God. The term is drawn from the phrase “the imagination of the heart of man [is] evil” which occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible, at Genesis 6:5 and 8:21. Within Judaism, stretching all the way back to the Second Temple Period, the “yetzer hara” was synonymous with “Satan.”
Satan (Hebrew: שָּׂטָן satan, meaning “adversary” Arabic: شيطان shaitan, meaning; “astray,” “distant,” or sometimes “devil”) is a figure of opposition appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions. Some religious groups teach that this figure originated as an angel who fell out of favor with God, seducing humanity into the ways of sin, and who has power in the fallen world. In the Hebrew Bible, however, the noun has been used to simply represent an accuser or adversary.
Every Occurrence of Diabolos (devil)
The following list of every occurrence of the Greek word “diabolos” (Strong’s Greek #1228) is meant as an aid to the diligent Bible student. (The actually word is in bold type for each verse). [In keeping with Jewish rabbinical tradition,] the devil is a term used for sin in the flesh [a.k.a., the Evil Inclination] and/or a person or group who manifests sin. The best approach is to carefully consider each verse and draw conclusions. It is therefore suggested to start the exercise by considering the word satan which has Old and New Testament usage while the word diabolos is wholly a New Testament word. We would wish the student to come to this list of verses without prejudice or presuppositions. Ask these questions about each verse: