Satan is not a red dude with a pitchfork

Lucifer and Satan and brief lesson.

The original Hebrew term, satan, is a noun from a verb meaning primarily to, “obstruct, oppose,” as it is found in Numbers 22:22, 1 Samuel 29:4, Psalms 109:6. Ha-Satan is traditionally translated as “the accuser,” or “the adversary.” The definite article “ha-”, English “the”, is used to show that this is a title bestowed on a being, versus the name of a being. Thus this being would be referred to as “the satan”.

Ha-Satan with the definite article occurs 13 times in the Masoretic Text, in two books of the Hebrew Bible:

Job ch.1–2

Zechariah 3:1–2

Satan without the definite article is used in 10 instances, of which two are translated diabolos in the Septuagint and “Satan” in the King James Version:

1 Chronicles 21:1, “Satan stood up against Israel” (KJV) or “And there standeth up an adversary against Israel” (Young’s Literal Translation)

Psalm 109:6b “and let Satan stand at his right hand” (KJV) or “let an accuser stand at his right hand.” (ESV, etc.)

The other eight instances of satan without the definite article are traditionally translated (in Greek, Latin and English) as “an adversary”, etc., and taken to be humans or obedient angels:

Numbers 22:22,23 “and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him.”

23 “behold, I went out to withstand thee,”

1 Samuel 29:4 The Philistines say: “lest he [David] be an adversary against us”

2 Samuel 19:22 David says: “[you sons of Zeruaiah] should this day be adversaries (plural) unto me?”

1 Kings 5:4 Solomon writes to Hiram: “there is neither adversary nor evil occurrent.

1 Kings 11:14 “And the LORD stirred up an adversary unto Solomon, Hadad the Edomite”

1 Kings 11:23 “And God stirred him up an adversary, Rezon the son of Eliadah”

25 “And he [Rezon] was an adversary to Israel all the days of Solomon”

Book of Job
In the Book of Job, ha-Satan is a member of the Divine Council, “the sons of God” who are subservient to God. Ha-Satan, in this capacity, is many times translated as “the prosecutor”, and is charged by God to tempt humans and to report back to God all who go against His decrees. At the beginning of the book, Job is a good person “who feared God and turned away from evil” (Job 1:1), and has therefore been rewarded by God. When the Divine Council meets, God informs ha-Satan about Job’s blameless, morally upright character. Between Job 1:9–10 and 2:4–5, ha-Satan merely points out that God has given Job everything that a man could want, so of course Job would be loyal to God; if all Job has been given, even his health, were to be taken away from him, however, his faith would collapse. God therefore grants ha-Satan the chance to test Job. Due to this, it has been interpreted that ha-Satan is under God’s control and cannot act without God’s permission. This is further shown in the epilogue of Job in which God is speaking to Job, ha-Satan is absent from these dialogues. “For Job, for [Job’s] friends, and for the narrator, it is ultimately Yahweh himself who is responsible for Job’s suffering; as Yahweh says to the ‘satan’, ‘You have incited me against him, to destroy him for no reason.'” (Job 2:3)

In the Septuagint the Hebrew ha-Satan in Job and Zechariah is translated by the Greek word diabolos (slanderer), the same word in the Greek New Testament from which the English word devil is derived. Where satan is used of human enemies in the Hebrew Bible, such as Hadad the Edomite and Rezon the Syrian, the word is left untranslated but transliterated in the Greek as satan, a neologism in Greek. In Zechariah 3 this changes the vision of the conflict over Joshua the High Priest in the Septuagint into a conflict between “Jesus and the devil”, identical with the Greek text of Matthew.

The Book of Enoch contains references to Satariel, thought also to be Sataniel and Satan’el (etymology dating back to Babylonian origins). The similar spellings mirror that of his angelic brethren Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, previous to the fall from Heaven.

The Second Book of Enoch, also called the Slavonic Book of Enoch, contains references to a Watcher (Grigori) called Satanael. It is a text of an uncertain date and unknown authorship. The text describes Satanael as being the prince of the Grigori who was cast out of heaven and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was “righteous” and “sinful”. A similar story is found in the book of 1 Enoch; however, in that book, the leader of the Grigori is called Semjâzâ.

In the Book of Wisdom, the devil is represented as the being who brought death into the world.

In the Ascension of Isaiah and the Life of Adam and Eve, Satan rules over a host of angels.

Mastema, in the Book of Jubilees, induces God to test Abraham through the sacrifice of Isaac. He is identical to Satan in both name and nature.

Lucifer and the derivation

The Hebrews state in Isaiah 14:12, became a dominant conception of a fallen angel motif in Enochic Judaism, when Judaic flourished during the Second Temple period Later Rabbis, in Medieval Judaism, rejected these Enochic literary works from the Biblical canon, making every attempt to root them out. Traditionalist Rabbis often rejected any belief in rebel or fallen angels, having a view that evil is abstract. However, in the 11th century, the Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer, drawing on ancient legends of the fallen angel or angels, brought back to the mainstream of rabbinic thought the personification of evil and the corresponding myth. Jewish exegesis of Isaiah 14:12–15 took a more humanistic approach by identifying the king of Babylon as Nebuchadnezzar II.

The Scripture containing —

12 How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
to the depths of the pit.

Early Christians were influenced by the association of Isaiah 14:12-15 with the Devil, which had developed in the period between the writing of the Old Testament and the New Testament. Even in the New Testament itself, Sigve K Tonstad argues, the War in Heaven theme of Revelation 12:7-9, in which the dragon “who is called the devil and Satan … was thrown down to the earth”, derives from the passage in Isaiah 14. There is no direct correlation between Lucifer and Satan or the Devil.

Tertullian , who wrote in Latin, also understood Isaiah 14:14 (“I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High”) as spoken by the Devil, but “Lucifer” is not among the numerous names and phrases he used to describe the Devil. Even at the time of the Latin writer Augustine of Hippo “Lucifer” had not yet become a common name for the Devil. But some time later, the metaphor of the morning star that Isaiah 14:12 applied to a king of Babylon gave rise to the general use of the Latin word for “morning star”, capitalized, as the original name of the Devil before his fall from grace, linking Isaiah 14:12 with Luke 10:18 (“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”) and interpreting the passage in Isaiah as an allegory of Satan’s fall from heaven.

However, Christians have continued to understand the mention of the morning star in Isaiah 14:12 as a metaphor referring to a king of Babylon. Theodoret of Cyrus wrote that Isaiah calls the king “morning star”, not as being the star, but as having had the illusion of being it. The same understanding is shown in Christian translations of the passage, which in English generally use “morning star” rather than treating the word as a proper name, “Lucifer”.

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