The following articles have been compiled and indexed by inWORD Bible software.
Angels of Evil?
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)
The Devil and the body of Moses
Here is an illustration — Biblical or non-Biblical? — to expose the evil men against whom Jude writes. Michael the archangel, in disputation with the devil about the body of Moses, is content to leave the issue in God’s hands: “The Lord rebuke thee”.
Bible Basics: God and Evil
Many sects of Christendom, along with many other religions, believe that there is a being or monster called the Devil or Satan who is the originator of the problems which are in the world and in our own lives, and who is responsible for the sin which we commit. The Bible clearly teaches that God is all-powerful. [And with respect to God’s angels, we are told: “Are not all [the] angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” (Hebrews 1:14).] If we truly believe these things, then it is impossible that there is any supernatural being at work in this universe that is opposed to Almighty God. If we believe that such a being does exist, then surely we are questioning the supremacy of God Almighty. This issue is so important that the correct understanding of the devil and satan must be considered a vital doctrine. We are told in Hebrews 2:14 that Jesus destroyed the devil by his death; therefore unless we have a correct understanding of the devil, we cannot understand the work or nature of Jesus.
The Temptations Of Jesus
Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterwards an hungred. And when the tempter came to him... (Matthew 4:1-2)
War In Heaven
“And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:7-9)
Bible Basics: What Happened In Eden?
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4-5)
The Prince of the Air
“...wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” (Ephesians 2:2)
Synagogue of Satan
“I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried...” (Revelation 2:9)
“I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.” (Revelation 2:13)
The Evil Inclination
There are numerous texts about the Yetzer HaRa (the Evil Inclination, aka “Satan”) in the Jewish Talmud. The Jewish sages were in no way monolithic in their understanding of the source of our human capacity to do evil. They all agreed that humans are born with it. Here are a number of selections which present proof texts for this.
To Deliver Such an One unto Satan
“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5)
Was Jesus’ Temptation from Within?
Question: Concerning the account of the temptation of Christ in Luke 4:2-13, please explain how this could possibly be the working of Christ’s own mind? Note that in verse 13, after the temptation we are told — “he departed from him for a season”.
Anticipating A Crack
“Sin crouches at the door...” (Genesis 4:7)
Fallen Angels: The Rabbis: Talmud And Midrash
Turning from the Fathers of the Church to the Fathers of the Synagogue, we encounter an entirely different kind of literature, with entirely different problems. The Talmud comes from the same period as the writings of the Church Fathers and dea1s with some of the same issues. Talmudic literature, like patristic literature, is largely an exposition of authoritative Scripture. But there the resemblance ends.
Edom: Searched Out
The book of Obadiah is a one chapter prophecy aimed as retribution at the nation of Edom for the treacheries it perpetrated again the Jewish nation, Judah, when the First Temple was destroyed. It is a prophecy that does not mince words. It speaks of vengeance. Its malice toward this duplicitous nation is tangible, as we note in the following verses:
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.
Jacob Wrestles with Esau’s Angel
When Jacob was wrestling with Esau’s angel, the Torah tells us: “And Jacob asked ... ‘Please tell me your name.” And he (the angel) replied, ‘Why do you ask me my name? And he blessed him (the angel blessed Jacob) there.”
Majority of Americans Believe in the Devil
A majority of Americans believe in the devil, especially blacks and women, according to a new national poll about exorcism. The YouGov survey found that fifty-seven percent believe the devil exists (seventy-two percent for African Americans and sixty-one percent for women).
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.”
No Yetzer To Distract Him
“Sin crouches at the door...” (Genesis 4:7)
Some Difficult Passages: Concerning Satan
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, and the word “satan” is an ordinary Hebrew word. Usually it can be translated by its English equivalent, “adversary”; and usually the A. V. translators have done this. Young’s Concordance lists the following passages where the word “satan” is translated “adversary” in the A. V.: Numbers 22:22; 1 Samuel 29:4; 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4, 11:14, 23, 25. These passages demonstrate that the adversary may be good, bad or indifferent. The first relates to an angel of God, the second to David, the third to David’s cousins, the fourth is negative and general, and the remainder (those of 1 Kings 11) are adversaries whom God stirred up against Solomon because of his disobedience. The related verb, “satan” is used in Psalms 71:13, 109:20, 29.
Some Difficult Passages: Satan In The Book Of Job
Who was the satan, the adversary of this book? It is argued by those who believe in a personal devil that, because of Satan’s mysterious comings and goings, his wicked designs and his superhuman power, he must, in fact, be this personal [supernatural, fallen angel] devil.
Some Difficult Passages: Satan In Zechariah 3
Let us now look more closely at the Satan of Zechariah 3. The passage reads thus:
Yet Adam Did Not Die
“For on the day you eat of it, you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:17)
A Conversation Between the Good and Evil Inclinations
Joanne Greenberg (1932–) is best known for writing Never Promised You a Rose Garden (1964), a groundbreaking, fictional representation of a teenage girl’s recovery from schizophrenia, based on the therapeutic relationship between Greenberg and Frieda Fromm-Reichmann; the novel was recently re-issued with a new after-word. In addition to writing daily, Greenberg, who is Jewish, teaches writing, ethics, and anthropology at the Colorado School of Mines. This conversation with Gail Berkeley Sherman took place at Greenberg’s home in August 2007 and provides an example of how the Judaic/rabbinic concept of two yetzers (i.e., an evil inclination and a good inclination within each of us) fits into the worldview of a Jew.
The Evil Inclination Compared to Flies
The fly was regarded by the Jews in particular as more or less impure and evil and was frequently compared to the Evil Inclination. Often personified, the Evil Inclination within man’s heart has been identified by rabbinic tradition as Satan.
Satan as a Bird
Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: One should never [intentionally] bring himself to the test, since David king of Israel did so, and fell. He said unto Him, ‘Sovereign of the Universe! Why do we say [in prayer] “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,” but not the God of David?’ He replied, ‘They were tried by me, but thou wast not.’ Then, replied he, ‘Sovereign of the Universe, examine and try me’ — as it is written, Examine me, O Lord, and try me, (Psalms 26:2). He answered ‘I will test thee, and yet grant thee a special privilege; for I did not inform them [of the nature of their trial beforehand], yet, I inform thee that I will try thee in a matter of adultery.’
A Shofar Symbolizes the Binding of the Evil Inclination
The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 16a) states: “Why do we use a Shofar [horn] from a ram? [Answer:] Because God said, ‘Blow before me a Shofar of a ram and I will recall the merit of “Akeidat Yitzchak”—Yitzchak’s [Isaac’s] binding on the altar. [Avraham offered-up a ram after he was forbidden to sacrifice his son]. Furthermore, I will view you as if you have bound yourselves on the altar’.”
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.
A Brand Plucked Out of the Fire
“Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire!” (Zechariah 3:2)
A Fairytale? Twenty Translations of Job
The opening of Job immediately places severe challenges on the translator. A split among translations is evident in the first few words, between those translators who view this story as a fairytale or parable (and try to translate the idiomatic Hebrew beginning of the story) and those who translate the prologue to the story as straight narrative. A further split occurs in the notes in folk etymologies of the name “Job,” between those who view Job as an originally Hebrew story and those who think of it as a translation from another language.
Celsus, Origen and Satan
After these matters, Celsus brings the following charges against us from another quarter: “Certain most impious errors,” he says, “are committed by them [the Christians], due to their extreme ignorance, in which they [the Christians] have wandered away from the meaning of the divine enigmas, creating an adversary to God, [i.e.] the devil, and naming him in the Hebrew tongue, Satan. Now, of a truth, such statements are altogether of mortal invention, and not even proper to be repeated, viz., that the mighty God, in His desire to confer good upon men, has yet one counterworking Him, and is helpless.”
The Faust Legend
We frequently hear it said that the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century achieved so much in the direction of enlightenment, in the casting off of superstitions which had gathered around the Christian church, in the elevation of the masses, in the betterment of mankind. Yet Martin Luther, its founder and chief agitator, is shown to have been most intolerant towards those who would not subscribed to every view he held, every doctrine he propagated. Be this, however, as it may, is it true that he and his associates, or even his successors, wholly freed the church from beliefs lowering in character, derogatory to true religion, offensive to a belief in the Omnipotence and Almightiness of God? We can present no more striking illustration to the contrary than the fear of the Devil, who is represented as a superhuman being who influences mankind for evil; who has equal power, and is constantly warring, with God. And yet, we find that in Luther’s age this belief was prevalent to such an extent that the Faust legend arose, about which we are given the following information:
The Sins of the Old
Yoelish was one of the modern ones. Already in his youth he spouted the “enlightened” ideas of the day, eager to contribute his cosmopolitan perspective to whatever discussion swirled around the table. But don’t think for a moment Yoelish was some sort of innovative thinker. Hardly. He was merely one of those who confused the current with the advanced.
Most Discussed and Interpreted Verses in Chronicles
Very rarely do matters of theological exegesis loom large in a work like 1 and 2 Supplements [1 & 2 Chronicles]. One of the few instances occurs at 1 Suppl. [1 Chronicles] 21.1, which, not surprisingly is styled by Sara Japhet [in I & II Chronicles: A Commentary] as “one of the most discussed and interpreted verses in Chronicles.” The question at issue is the precise identification of the one who instigated David to conduct the census, Satan or some undefined slander. In the counterpart to this passage at 2 Rgns [2 Samuel] 24.1 the perpetrator is God himself in his wrath. This the Chronicler has mitigated according to his normal practice by refocusing the intervention. At the same time, there is no indication that the author believed in a self-existing principle of evil. Moreover, when the Hebrew term שטן denotes a proper noun, it is normally found with the article [as in Job], whereas here [in 1 Chronicles 21:1 as well as in the LXX translation] it is unarticulated. Consequently, in sum, it appears that a human instigator is intended.
Naming The Heavenly Players
The story of Job starts [by introducing] God, ... [b’nei ha-elokim] ... and ha-Satan. But how do the translations we are reading describe these?
No Greater Enemy
‘When a man’s ways please the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him’ (Proverbs 17:7). Rab. Joshua ben Levi said: This refers to the evil inclination [yetzer hara], that which man has no greater enemy. Now if a man live in close intimacy with his fellow for one year, even if, at the outset, he is his enemy, at the end he becomes his friend. But the evil inclination [yetzer hara] grows up with man from youth to old age: day by day it seeks to overthrow him. If it cannot overthrow him within ten years, it seeks to overthrow him within twenty years. If it can find an opportunity within eighty years, it will seize it. Thus, they relate that John [Hyrcanus], the High Priest, ministered for eighty years in the sacred office, yet at the end he became a Sadducee [which would have been considered a disgrace at the time, for the Sadducees embraced the corrupting spirit of Hellenism and compromise with the Roman authorities].
Satan, The Cabala and the Jews
With regard to the Talmud, great care should be taken to separate the Halacath from the Hagadoth¹ in framing ideas as to the Jewish system and traditions. The Halacath are binding on Jews who believe in the binding character of the Oral law, or who rely on, or at least attach great importance to the dicta, decisions, and discussions of the great sages.
The Case of Jenkins vs. Cook
So the Dean of Arches has decided that the denial either of the eternity of punishment (of course hereafter) or of the personality of the evil one is sufficient to justify a clergyman in refusing the Holy Communion to a parishioner; in other words, that the belief of an implacable God, who either has not the will nor the power to pardon, as well as belief in Satan, or in a second god inferior, it is, true to the good God, but still a God as intent to injure than as his superior is to benefit him, is part and parcel of the faith of a true Christian. We Jews may congratulate ourselves upon the different reading of our own Scriptures. Our God is mercy itself. He inflicts punishment for the expiation of sin, not from revenge. With the expatiation of the sin the punishment ceases. The object is attained, why continue the torture?
The Evil Inclination: Very Good
There is also a sense in which the evil yetzer [the evil inclination within man, Heb. yetzer hara] can be regarded as good. Since it is largely identified with sexual passion, and since without sexual passion the race of man could not continue, and since even sanctified marriage is dependent upon it, the evil yetzer is also good. Again, since business and trade depend (as the Rabbis conceived) upon competition and rivalry, which, in their turn, depend upon the instigations of the yetzer, it may be said that the evil yetzer is good:
The Kingdom of God and the Traitor
When we refer to the kingdom of God, what are the borders of this kingdom, and who is the enemy? Of course, we mean it in a metaphysical sense.
The Serpent and the River
“And the serpent cast out of his mouth after the woman water as a river...” (Revelation 12:15)
The Slanderer in the Torah
Evil speaking is sometimes worse than evil doing. In the Messianic age to come, because God by His grace removes the evil yetzer [the evil inclination, Heb. yetzer hara], the source of all slander, His people are able to do and to be good. Consequently, the Shechinah [God’s glorious presence] can once more rest and dwell among them.
While They Are Alive the Evil Inclination May Prevail
God never unites His name with the righteous during their lifetime, only after their death, as it says, ‘To the holy that are [buried] in the earth’ (Psalms 16:3). When are they ‘holy’? When they are in the earth. While they are alive, the evil inclination may prevail over them. But when they are dead, God unites His name with them. Yet He did so to Isaac during his lifetime, for He said to Jacob, ‘I am the God of thy father Isaac’ (Genesis 28:13). Why was this? The Rabbis held that God counted Isaac’s willingness to die on the altar as though he had already died for God’s sake. Rab. Berechiah said: Isaac was blind, (Genesis 27:1), and one who is blind is as though he were dead, for he is hidden in the house, and cannot see the temptations that are without.
What is a Satan?
“Satan” in modern speech is a word that is typically reserved for a particular individual, who is supposed to correspond to “the Satan” (הַשַָּׂטָן) of the Hebrew Scriptures (Zechariah 3; Job 1–2). In the early literature, however, the noun שָׂטָן could refer to many different individuals. In addition, the ancient meaning of this noun has been lost to modern interpreters, as biblical scholars have inadvertently read later notions of Satan into earlier texts that speak of satans or the Satan.
The Body of Moses
Yet Michael 1 the archangel 2, when contending with the devil 3 he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not 4 bring against him a railing accusation 5, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee” (Jude 1:9)
Paul’s “Satan” Judgment: A Severe Physical Affliction?
“...to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5)
Our attempt in the Testimony for December, 1951, to ease the difficulty surrounding the identity of Job’s “Satan” has provoked the following reply from a Bradford reader:—
The Temptation of Jesus (1957)
The narratives in Matthew 4 and Luke 4 are both put in the objective form.¹ “When the tempter came to him, he said . . . Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him . . . Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain...and saith unto him... Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan... Then the devil leaveth him...” and so on.
Satan: Adversary in the Book of Job
The prose Prologue to the poetic Book of Job has two short scenes, enacted as “before the Lord,” in which appears a character named Satan,¹ each scene being introduced by 3 verses in almost identical words, and commencing, “Now there was a day...,”² That tradition’s banished Rebel should remount the battlements of heaven and hold the familiar converse related, so intimate and casual, with the Almighty, should tax even traditionalist credulity. Consistent with context, the setting could be a patriarchal altar.³ It could⁴ be that a nomadic visitor, envious of Job’s prosperity, slandered him, and that God (via angel or priest) made him an instrument of miracle⁵ to prove Job. More probably (stemming from and embodying some such human satanic comment) two suppositive scenes are inset, personifying the adverse fleshly mind which had sneeringly suggested that Job’s was but fair-weather worship, based on self-interest! This simple device, much used in Scripture,⁶ permits the unfolding of the record of the suffering of affliction by (the unquestionably historical⁷) Job, as if it were dramatically inflicted by a commissioned satan; while, in reality, the issue is solely between Jehovah and Job, who, as the righteous in all ages, is thereby disciplined to develop patience, penitence and humility. By a figure, Job is in Satan’s hand,⁸ but literally, in God’s. Job silences his wife in words revealing his grasp of the ancient truth⁹ that there is no separate Source of Evil: “Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?”¹⁰
Had the word satan been in every case either consistently transferred to, or translated in the A.V., the reader could have seen its literal meaning and more readily perceived personification. Being the work of Dualists,¹ we have Satan in those passages only, wherein they thought they discerned their (imported pagan) Devil.² In the O.T. there are 19 such cases;³ but there are 12 others in which, also, the original is satan but the A.V. reads adversary. This differing treatment has been the tombstone of truth re[garding] satan, which when lifted becomes a beacon light before which the Satan of superstition flees away. An angel was a satan to Balaam. ⁴ The Philistines feared, if David marched with them,… “lest in battle he become a satan.”⁵ The sons of Zeruiah, in opposing his resolve to spare Shimei, were by David styled satans.⁶ Again, “Because I follow good, those who render evil for good are my satans.”⁷ He prayed for help against satans who sought his hurt.”⁸ “For my love they are my satans.” “…the reward of my satans from the Lord…those who speak evil against me.” Let my satans (who curse) be clothed with shame.”⁹ Solomon told Hiram there was “neither satan nor evil occurrent.”¹⁰ But “the Lord stirred up a satan to Solomon, Hadad the Edomite;” also another satan, “Rezon…a satan to Israel all the days of Solomon.”¹¹ This valuable light on the meaning and use of satan, released from the original, helps greatly the right understanding of those other passages of symbolic scene, vision, or figurative allusion.
Diabolos in the Septuagint
H. H. also comments on this problem, which was considered on page 297 of the September 1956 Testimony.
The King of Tyre (Ezekiel 28)
We are also asked about the following: “While it is recognised that Ezekiel 28 is dealing with the King of Tyre, how can vv. 13 to 16 apply to him?”
Question and Answer (Ezekiel 28)
Question: I cannot understand, in Ezekiel 28, the references to the Prince of Tyre being a cherub, and being in Eden. Can you help, please?
The Fall of Lucifer
In the beginning of the seventh century B.C., two great powers with their respective allies were contestants for the domination of the civilised world. They were Egypt and Babylon. The contest came to a climax when the armies of Egypt marched out (“Egypt riseth up as the Nile” was how the prophet Jeremiah described it, 46:8 RV) and crossed the territory between the river Nile and the river Euphrates. In the course of this military expedition, Josiah, king of Judah, considered it his duty to interfere, and battled with the Egyptians at Megiddo. But he was defeated and slain.
Correspondence on Satan
Our articles on Satan¹ aroused considerable interest, and, as might be expected of an unorthodox point of view, a certain amount of criticism.
Commenting upon the decision of the Dean of Arches (that the denial either of eternity of punishment, or of the personality of the evil one, is sufficient to justify a clergyman hi refusing the Holy Communion to a parishioner) the Jewish Chronicle says:
The Temptation of Jesus (1936)
The contribution from Mr. Blakey in the September issue of The Testimony covers a great deal of ground, and is not lacking in detailed expositions of numerous side-issues, but it is unhelpful in the task of identifying the tempter of Jesus.
Sin and Its Origin
Recollections of an address heard in Edinburgh.
The Riddle of the Early Church’s Unnamed Enemies
[It is noteworthy that in the New Testament one rarely finds the authors specifically identifying the enemies of the early Christians.] Martin Hengel comments correctly: “One of the riddles of Jewish and early Christian polemic is that it hardly ever really names its opponents, but tends to use derogatory paraphrases. This is [also] true of Essene polemic, which conceals its opponents in ciphers” ¹. In this context we recall the references to Babylon and Egypt in the Old Testament as, e.g., “Rahab”. Paul likewise doesn’t seem to refer to his enemies by their names but rather hides behind almost taunt phrases (2 Corinthians 11:5,13; 12:11; Galatians 5:12; Philippians 3:2; and see too Galatians 1:7; 3:1,10; 4:17; 2 Corinthians 2:17; 4:2; Romans 3:8; 15:31). The references to the prophetess “Jezebel” in Revelation 2:20 and “the teaching of Balaam” (Revelation 2:14) don’t actually name the individuals concerned, but rather give them a kind of code name.
Leviathan and Behemoth: Mot and Satan
These monster figures appear at the end of the book of Job, forming a kind of inclusio with the opening reference to Satan; and they are clearly part of God’s final answer to Job’s “case”. Behe-mot can be understood as a reference to Mot, the Canaanite god of death; and Leviathan appears to be the Canaanite version of the orthodox ‘Satan’ figure, perhaps a reference to the ‘Lotan’ of the Ugaritic myths. In great detail, these figures are deconstructed. They are shown to be created beings—created by the one almighty God of the Old Testament, to be completely under His control to the point that He can even tease them, so enormously greater is His power than theirs. These Canaanite ‘Satan’ figures are thereby shown to have no significant existence; and they certainly don’t exist as opposed to God. They are totally under His control. And yet these monster figures clearly have characteristics shared by known animals, such as the hippopotamus, crocodile etc. Those similarities are intended. It’s been well observed: “To say that Leviathan has characteristics of the crocodile and the whale is not to say that it is such a creature, but rather to suggest that evil is rooted in the natural world”⁴—and the point is so laboured in Job that the natural world is of God’s complete creation. ‘Evil’ in a form independent of Him, in radical opposition to Him, simply isn’t there. It is He who not only created Behemoth, but can effortlessly control him in accord with His purpose (Job 40:15). That’s the comfort of the message. Indeed the descriptions of the natural world which lead up to the Leviathan/Behemoth passages are there to underline this point; and it’s interesting that those passages zoom in upon the cruelties and even brutalities within nature. Yet these are all of God’s ultimate design and creation, and under His providential control. Job had earlier perceived this; for he responds to the friends’ allusions to an evil ‘Satan’ figure as the source of his suffering by observing: “Ask the animals… the birds of the air… [they show that] the hand of the Lord [and not any supernatural ‘Satan’] has done this” (Job 12:7-9). Ginzberg demonstrates that the Jews saw the monster ‘Rahab’ and Leviathan as the same entity⁵; and twice Job stresses how infinitely greater than Rahab is Yahweh. When God starts speaking about Leviathan, He is therefore confirming the truth of what Job has earlier said about His power over Rahab/Leviathan. The context of Job’s comments was to answer the theories of the friends—and God is as it were confirming that Job’s deconstruction of their ‘Satan’ theories was correct. The same Hebrew words are used about God’s binding and loosing of the stars [which were thought to control evil on earth] and His binding, loosing and opening of Leviathan’s mouth (Job 38:31 cp. Job 40:29). Whether or not Leviathan/a ‘Satan’ figure, or the bad stars, are for real… God is in utter control of them, and there is thus no conflict, no war in Heaven, no ultimate dualism at all in the cosmos. Which is just the message we would expect from a monotheistic Old Testament book. Israel’s God is truly the Almighty. Just as Job is described as God’s “servant” (Job 1:8), so is Leviathan (Job 40:28; 41:4). No evil power uncontrolled by God is at work in Job’s life. We also need to give due weight to the fact that God speaks the Leviathan/Behemoth passages “out of the storm”, which had been gathering since Job 37:2. This is significant because storms were seen as manifestations of evil powers. Yet here (and elsewhere in Scripture), the one true God speaks out of such storms, to demonstrate how far greater He is than any storm god; and showing by implication that such storm gods don’t exist, and the ‘evil’ which supposedly came from them was in fact under His control.
Peter and Satan
Luke 22:31; “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat”.
The Body of Moses
Jude 1:9 — “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee”.
The Devil and Satan in Recent Thought
Even with my back to the world, I hope I’d stand for Bible truth regardless of what anyone else thought. We must do and believe what is right before God, rather than what is smart and trendy before our surrounding society. But I realize that for many, the rejection of the idea of a superhuman Satan is a major issue, and for some this may be their first encounter with any alternative idea. To provide somewhat of a human cushion for the changeover of thinking, a slightly softer landing, I’ve referenced throughout this book the views of many who have made this rejection of pagan superstition in favour of Bible truth. And in this section I wish to give some more recent examples. But name dropping of supporting voices is irrelevant in the final analysis—for we must each unflinchingly set our face to understand the problem of sin and evil in accordance with God’s truth, as revealed in the Bible.
The Jewish Satan
We have explained above that the word ‘satan’ means ‘adversary’, and ‘the devil’ refers to a false accuser. These terms can at times refer to individuals or organizations who are in some sense ‘adversarial’, and sometimes in the New Testament they refer to the greatest human adversary, i.e. sin. Close study of the New Testament makes it apparent that quite often, the ‘satan’ of both the Lord Jesus and His first followers was related to the Jewish system which so opposed Him and the subsequent preaching of Him. Not only did the Jews crucify God’s Son, but the book of Acts makes it clear that it was Jewish opposition which was the main adversary to Paul’s spreading of the Gospel and establishment of the early church (Acts 13:50,51; 14:2,5,6,19; 17:5-9,13,14; 18:6,12-17; 21:27-36; 23:12-25). Paul speaks of the Jewish opposition as having “killed both the Lord Jesus and the [first century Christian] prophets, and drove us out; they displease God and oppose everyone by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they have constantly been filling up the measure of their sins” (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16). These are strong words, and must be given their full weight in our assessment of the degree to which the Jews were indeed a great ‘Satan’ to the cause of Christ in the first century. Three times did the synagogues beat Paul with 39 stripes (2 Corinthians 11:24). The Jews of Antioch in Pisidia cursed Paul and his message (Acts 13:45 Gk.), drove him out of the city, and then travelled 180 km. to Lystra to oppose his preaching there. The Jews of Iconium and Jerusalem sought to “stir up” the Gentile authorities against Paul (Acts 14:2,5). No wonder that Paul’s midrash on Hagar and Sarah speaks of the earthly Jerusalem as being the persecutors of God’s true children (Galatians 4:29). Many of Paul’s letters were occasioned by Jewish false teaching and attempts at infiltrating the churches he had founded (Galatians 2:4). In Rome and elsewhere, the Jews sought to curry favour with the Romans by reporting Christian activity to the authorities¹.
The Prince of the Air
Ephesians 2:1-3 — “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others”.
The Snare of the Devil
“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 them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the Devil.” — 1 Timothy 3:6-7
The Synagogue and Seat of Satan
Revelation 2:9-10, 13 & 24: “I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich), and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. Fear none of these things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life”. “I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth”. “But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden”.
Turned Aside After Satan
1 Timothy 5:14-15: “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. For some are already turned aside after Satan”.
Jesus now returned to Capernaum (offer a visit to Jerusalem for one of the feasts?), but he did not return to the family home there. This suggests that among his brothers and sisters there was lack of enthusiasm for his activities. By and by they showed this more openly (John 7:3-8).
How the Serpent Became Satan
Introduced as “the most clever of all of the beasts of the field that YHWH God had made,” the serpent in the Garden of Eden is portrayed as just that: a serpent. Satan does not make an appearance in Genesis 2–3, for the simple reason that when the story was written, the concept of the devil had not yet been invented. Explaining the serpent in the Garden of Eden as Satan would have been as foreign a concept to the ancient authors of the text as referring to Ezekiel’s vision as a UFO (but Google “Ezekiel’s vision” now, and you’ll see that plenty of people today have made that connection!). In fact, while the word satan appears elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, it is never a proper name; since there is no devil in ancient Israel’s worldview, there can’t yet have been a proper name for such a creature.
Meaning of the word “Satan” in Hebrew
The Hebrew (Old Testament) word “satan” simply means adversary. It is not someone’s name. In one place it’s used to describe God, when He was an adversary to Israel, when they were sinful.¹ In the Greek (New Testament) the word is “satanas”. This means it was transliterated (spelled out as pronounced) from the Hebrew, instead of translated (interpreted). Likewise, from both the Hebrew and the Greek, these words are transliterated in the English, instead of translated. They should have been translated into their proper meaning, “adversary” (or “enemy”, etc).
Satan, YHWH’s Executioner
In recent decades, scholars have taken great care not to assume that “the śāt?ān” of Job 1–2 and of Zechariah 3 is supposed to be the archenemy of God and the opponent of good, as is Satan in later Jewish and Christian literature. Nevertheless, scholars have yet to eliminate anachronistic assumptions from their discussions of this figure as he is presented in the Hebrew Scriptures, maintaining that the śāt?ān in Job and Zechariah holds the office of heavenly “prosecuting attorney” or “accuser.” After surveying the uses of the noun שָׂטָן and the verb שָׂטַן in the Hebrew Scriptures, this article argues that these words never denote “accusation” in this literature but refer exclusively to physical “attack.” This article further contends that in legal contexts the noun שָׂטָן can refer specifically to an “executioner” and that “the Executioner” is the proper understanding of השַָּׂטָן in Zechariah and Job.
He (David) the Satan?
“The anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.” (2 Samuel 24:1)
Who Was Job’s Satan?
“There was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” (Job 1:6)
Temptations in Dramatic Terms
“Satan hath desired to have you.” (Luke 22:31)
The Idea of Suicide
Several readers have expressed their disagreement with the suggestion put forward by our correspondent, T. Royce, in the August Testimony, p. 294, that Christ’s “natural instinct” led him to think of committing suicide.
Hell and the Devil from a Jewish Point of View
Commenting on the decision of the Dean of Arches (that the denial either of the eternity of punishment, or of the personality of the evil one, is sufficient to justify a clergyman in refusing the “Holy Communion” to a parishioner), the Jewish Chronicle says, “We Jews may congratulate ourselves upon the different reading of our own Scriptures. Our God is mercy itself. He inflicts punishment for the expiation of sin, not from revenge. With the expiation of the sin the punishment ceases. The object is attained, why continue the torture? Further, what else is the belief in God and Satan, but the belief of the ancient Persians in Ormunzd and Ahriman, the former the god of light and all that is good, and the more powerful of the two; the latter the god of darkness and evil. Surely the name does not make the difference. Yet the God of Israel declared, ‘I form the light and create the darkness; I make peace and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these things.’ Here we alight upon another of the errors of Christianity, which even as it personified the Spirit of Holiness, transforming this abstract noun into the Holy Ghost and the memra ( ארממ ) of the Targum; the logos of Philon into the Son of God, so it took a mere figure of speech—a poetic abstraction called the adversary—Satan—for a real being, converted him into a kind of rival god, always fighting with the second person of the Deity, just as Ahriman is constantly in antagonism with Ormunzd. Has a Jew not occasion to thank God for having been born in a community free from these darkening and mischievous errors?”
"Thou Wast in Eden" - The Enigma of the Prince of Tyre
To most of us the passage Ezekiel 28:11-17 concerning the prince of Type poses some problems. Rejecting any interpretation of these verses as referring to the Satan of popular belief, we may yet find it strange that the divine oracle should refer to the King of Tyre as “wiser than Daniel", and should declare: “thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God"; “thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. Thou wast in Eden, the garden of God . . . Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth; I (God) set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness was found in thee . . .” (vv. 3, 6, 12-15).
Was Nebuchadnezzar Isaiah's "Lucifer"?
To which king of Babylon should we ascribe Isaiah’s taunting description in chapter 14? It would be easy to name the first one that comes to mind—Nebuchadnezzar. But there were many other kings of Babylon, and there are clues in the chapter that seem to lead to a specific king who reigned before the time of Nebuchadnezzar.
How the Devil Got His Horns
Art historian and critic Alastair Sooke examines how the depiction by artists of the popular idea of “the Devil” has changed through the centuries. In the centuries between the birth of Christ and the Renaissance, visual interpretations of “the Devil” evolved, with the embodiment of evil appearing in different guisestempter, tyrant, and rebellious angel. Alastair shows how artists used their imaginations to give form to the personification of evil.
Our Good and Bad Inclinations
Channeled properly, even the sharper parts of ourselves can be used for good.
In Judaism, yetzer hara (Hebrew: יֵצֶר הַרַע, for the definite “the Evil Inclination”), or yetzer ra (Hebrew: יֵצֶר רַע, for the indefinite “an evil inclination”) refers to the congenital inclination to do evil, by violating the will of God. The term is drawn from the phrase “the imagination of the heart of man [is] evil” (Hebrew: יֵצֶר לֵב הָאָדָם רַע , yetzer lev-ha-adam ra), which occurs twice in the Hebrew Bible, at Genesis 6:5 and 8:21. The Sages of the Talmud (Berakhot 32a) have spoken about the “Evil Inclination” in poignant terms, making a comparison to what it is like: “To what is it like, the Evil Inclination in man? It is like a father who takes his small son, bathes him, douses him with perfume, combs his hair, dresses him up in his finest accoutrements, feeds him, gives him drink, places a bag of money around his neck, and then goes off and puts his son at the front door of a brothel. What can the boy do that he not sin?”
Wrested Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 11:14
“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.”
Every Occurrence of Satan
The following list of every occurrence of the Hebrew word “satan” (Strong’s Hebrew #7853-5 and Greek #4567-7) is meant as an aid for the diligent Bible student. (The actually word is in bold type for each verse). [The word] satan is a term used frequently (but not always) for sin 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:
Wrested Scriptures: The Anointed Cherub (Ezekiel 28:13-15)
“Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God . . . Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; . . . Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.”
Wrested Scriptures: Symbolic Serpent or Literal? (Genesis 3:1)
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field . . .”
Wrested Scriptures: The Serpent's Power Source (Genesis 3:4-5)
“And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods knowing good and evil.”
Wrested Scriptures: Daughters of Men (Genesis 6:2)
“. . . the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.”
Wrested Scriptures: Fallen Angel Theory (Isaiah 14:12-14)
“How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: . . . I will be like the most High.”
Wrested Scriptures: An Angelic Son of God? (Job 1:6)
“Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.”
Wrested Scriptures: Prince Sin (John 12:31, 14:30 & 16:11)
“Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
The Evil One: The Serpent in Eden
We are first referred to the garden of Eden. We read the account of the temptation and the fall. We ask where are we to find the popular devil in this transaction? We are directed to the tempter. We look at him. We find him a serpent—an animal. We say, “Here is the tempter, but where is the devil?” We are told the serpent was the devil in the shape of a serpent, or contained the devil who had taken possession of him. We ask for proof. There is none forthcoming except such as may be contained in an argument on the improbability of a serpent speaking unaided. The idea that the serpent was the popular devil in animal shape is perfectly gratuitous. It is unsupported by a single hint to this effect in the whole course of scripture. It is a pure piece of tradition. The only distinct allusion to the transaction in the scriptures discountenances the idea of “possession”. It is in Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians, 11:3, where, expressing his fears for the steadfastness of the believers under trial, he says, “I fear lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ”. In this, Paul recognizes the serpent pure and simple as the tempter, his power to be which he attributes to “his subtlety”.
Satan: What the Bible Really Teaches About the Devil
Judaism flatly rejects any form of dualism when it comes to the existence of God, which is why mainstream Christianity’s teaching concerning Satan is so abhorent to the religious Jew. To a Jew, Satan is word used to describe a stumbling block to spiritual growth, and within 2nd Temple rabbinic Judaism, Satan became a synonym for the evil inclination that all men and women are born with and must learn to keep under control. But not so within Christianity. Christianity’s take on Satan frequently enters the realm of fantasy, drawn more from Greek mythology and poets than from the Scriptures. Why does Christianity’s “Devil” seem so prominent in the New Testament Gospels, while you hardly ever read anything of such in the Old Testament? Are these two versions of mankind’s greatest “adversary” even the same thing? Listen as a Jewish rabbi provides a foundational understanding on the subject of Satan.
διάβολος (diabolos) was used of slanderous or malicious accusation.
ad ́vẽr-sa-ri, ad ́vẽr-sā̄̇-ri: This word (in the singular or plural) is used in the Old Testament to render different Hebrew words. In thirty-two cases the word corresponds to the noun צר, cār, or the verb צרר, cārař. This noun is the ordinary word for “foe” or “adversary.” In twelve passages the Hebrew word, of which “adversary” is the translation, is שׂטן, sāṭān = noun or שׂטן, sāṭan = verb. This stem means “to oppose,” or “thwart” anyone in his purpose or claims.
Satan, Synagogue of
The expression occurs neither in the Hebrew nor in the Greek of the Old Testament, nor in Apocrypha. Three passages in the Old Testament and one in Apocrypha suggest the idea conveyed in the expression. In Numbers 14:27, 35, Yahweh expresses His wrath against “the evil congregation” Septuagint συναγωγὴ πονηρά, sunagōgḗ ponērá) which He threatens to consume in the wilderness. In Psalms 21:1-13 (22):16, we find, “A company of evil doers (the Septuagint συναγωγὴ πονηρευομένων, sunagōgḗ ponēreuoménon) have enclosed me.” In Sirach/Ecclesiasticus 16:6, we read, “In the congregation of sinners (the Septuagint συναγωγὴ ἁμαρτωλῶν, sunagōgḗ hamartōlṓn) shall a fire be kindled.”
Lu’cifer, (Heb. Heylel', הֵילֵל; Sept. ὁ ῾Εωσφόρος), a word that once occurs in the English Version in the lines,
Sa’tan, is the Hebrew word שָׂטָן, satan‘, transferred to the English. It is derived from the verb שָׂטִן, which means “to lie in wait,” “to oppose,” “to be an adversary;” hence, the noun denotes an adversary, or opposer. The word in its generic sense occurs in 1 Kings 11:14: “The Lord raised up an adversary (satan; Sept. σατάν) against Solomon,” i.e. Hadad the Edomite. In the 23d verse the word occurs again, applied to Rezan. It is used in the same sense in 1 Samuel 29:4, where David is termed an adversary, and in Numbers 22:22, where the angel “stood in the way for an adversary (satan) to Balaam,” i.e. to oppose him when he went with the princes of Moab. See also 2 Samuel 19:22; 1 Kings 5:4; 11:25; Psalms 109:6, where the Sept. has ἐπίβουλος, ἀντικαίμενος, διάβολος, etc. In Zechariah 33:1, 2, the word occurs in its specific sense as a proper name. “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist. And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan.” Here it is manifest, both from the context and the use of the article, that some particular adversary is denoted. In Job 1; 2, the same use of the word with the article occurs several times. The events in which Satan is represented as the agent confirm this view. He was a distinguished adversary and tempter. See also 1 Chronicles 21:1. In all these latter passages the Sept. has σατάν, and the Vulg. Satan.
Do You Believe in the Devil
Get Thee Behind Me, Satan