Satan the Devil part 1
by John Thomas Lowe
Satan the Devil
ISAIAH 14:12 "How you have fallen from Heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the Earth, who once laid the nations low!"
Satan was originally a righteous angel named Lucifer, meaning "light bringer." In the process, he and other angels willfully disobeyed and rebelled against God and became demons (Revelation 12). Lucifer's name changed to Satan, which means "the adversary."
Lucifer corrupted himself through lust (pride) and vanity. He sought nothing less than knocking God off his throne and taking control of the entire universe (Ezekiel 28, Isaiah 14)! He and his demons, however, were perfectly defeated and cast down to the Earth as quick as lightning (Luke 10:18). Satan, soon, will be put to death for his rebellion!
Illustration of the Devil, dating to the early thirteenth century
Satan, also known as the Devil and sometimes also called Lucifer in Christianity, is an entity in the Abrahamic religions that seduces humans into sin or falsehood. In Judaism, Satan is seen as an agent subservient to God, typically regarded as a metaphor for the Yetzer Hara, or "evil inclination." In Christianity and Islam, he is usually seen as a fallen angel or jinn who rebelled against God, temporary power over the fallen world, and a host of demons. Nevertheless, in the Quran, Shaitan, also known as Iblis, is an entity made of fire that was cast out of Heaven because he refused to bow before the newly created Adam and incites humans to sin by infecting their minds with waswās ("evil suggestions").
A figure known as ha-satan ("the satan") first appears in the Hebrew Bible as a heavenly prosecutor, subordinate to Yahweh (God), who prosecutes the nation of Judah in the heavenly court and tests the loyalty of Yahweh's followers. In the apocryphal Book of Jubilees, Yahweh grants satan (referred to as Mastema) authority over a group of fallen angels, or their offspring, to tempt humans to sin and punish them.
Although the Book of Genesis does not mention him, Christians often identify the serpent in the Garden of Eden as Satan. In the Synoptic Gospels, Satan tempts Jesus in the desert and is identified as the cause of illness and temptation. In the Book of Revelation, Satan appears as a Great Red Dragon, who is defeated by Michael the Archangel and cast down from Heaven. He is later bound for one thousand years but is briefly set free before being ultimately defeated and cast into the Lake of Fire.
In the Middle Ages, Satan played a minimal role in Christian theology and was used as a comic relief figure in mystery plays. During the early modern period, Satan's significance significantly increased as beliefs such as demonic possession and witchcraft became more prevalent. During the Age of Enlightenment, belief in the existence of Satan was harshly criticized by thinkers such as Voltaire. Nonetheless, belief in Satan has persisted, particularly in the Americas.
Although Satan is generally viewed as evil, some groups have very different beliefs. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered to be worshiped or revered Deity. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is a symbol of virtuous characteristics and liberty. Satan's appearance is never described in the Bible, but since the ninth century, he has often been shown in Christian art with horns, cloven hooves, unusually hairy legs, and a tail, often naked and holding a pitchfork. These are an amalgam of traits derived from various pagan deities, including Pan, Poseidon, and Bes. Satan frequently appears in Christian literature, most notably in Dante Alighieri's Inferno, all variants of the classic Faust story, John Milton's Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained, and the poems of William Blake. He continues to appear in film, television, and music.
Balaam and the Angel (1836) by Gustav Jäger. The angel in this incident is referred to as "satan."
The Hebrew term śāṭān (Hebrew: שָׂטָן) is a generic noun meaning "accuser" or "adversary" and is derived from a verb meaning primarily "to obstruct, oppose." The earlier biblical books, e.g., 1 Samuel 29:4, refer to human adversaries, but in the later books, especially Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3, to a supernatural entity. It can refer to any accuser when used without the definite article (simply satan). However, when used with the definite article (ha-satan), it usually refers specifically to the heavenly accuser, satan.
The word with the definite article Ha-Satan (Hebrew: הַשָּׂטָן hasSāṭān) occurs 17 times in the Masoretic Text, in two books of the Hebrew Bible: Job ch. 1–2 (14×) and Zechariah 3:1–2 (3×). It is translated in English bibles primarily as 'Satan' (18x in Book of Job, I Books of Chronicles, and Book of Zechariah).
The word without the definite article is used in 10 instances, of which two are translated as diabolos in the Septuagint. It is translated in English Bibles as 'an accuser' (1x) but primarily as 'an adversary' (9x as in Book of Numbers, 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 Kings).
• 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 word does not occur in the Book of Genesis, which mentions only a talking serpent and does not identify the serpent with any supernatural entity. The first occurrence of the word "satan" in the Hebrew Bible about a supernatural figure comes from Numbers 22:22, which describes the Angel of Yahweh confronting Balaam on his donkey: "Balaam's departure aroused the wrath of Elohim, and the Angel of Yahweh stood in the road as a satan against him." In 2 Samuel 24, Yahweh sends the "Angel of Yahweh" to inflict a plague against Israel for three days, killing 70,000 people as punishment for David having taken a census without his approval. 1 Chronicles 21:1 repeats this story but replaces the "Angel of Yahweh" with an entity referred to as "a satan."
A "spirit," whose name is not specified but analogous to satan, volunteers to be "a Lying Spirit in the mouth of all his Prophets."Some passages clearly refer to satan without using the word itself. 1 Samuel 2:12 describes the sons of Eli as "sons of Belial"; the later usage of this word makes it a synonym for "satan." In 1 Samuel 16:14–23, Yahweh sends a "troubling spirit" to torment King Saul as a mechanism to ingratiate David with the king. In 1 Kings 22:19–25, the prophet Micaiah describes to King Ahab a vision of Yahweh sitting on his throne surrounded by the Host of Heaven. Yahweh asks the Host which of them will lead Ahab astray.
The sound of a shofar (pictured) is supposed to confuse Satan symbolically.
Most Jews do not believe in the existence of a supernatural omnibenevolent figure. Traditionalists and philosophers in medieval Judaism adhered to rational theology, rejecting any belief in rebel or fallen angels and viewing evil as abstract. The rabbis usually interpreted the word satan lacking the article ha- as it is used in the Tanakh as referring strictly to human adversaries. Nonetheless, the word satan has occasionally been metaphorically applied to evil influences, such as the Jewish exegesis of the Yetzer Hara ("evil inclination") mentioned in Genesis 6:5. The Talmudic image of Satan is contradictory. While Satan's identification with the abstract Yetzer Hara remains uniform over the sages' teachings, he is generally identified as an entity with the divine agency. For instance, the sages considered Satan an angel of death that would later be called Samael since God's prohibition on Satan killing Job implied he was even capable of doing so. However, despite this syncretization with a known heavenly body, Satan is identified as the yetzer hara in the same passage. Numerous other rabbinical anecdotes strengthen Satan's status as a 'physical' entity: one tale describes two incidents where Satan appeared as a woman to tempt Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Akiva into sin. Another passage describes Satan taking the form of an ill-mannered, diseased beggar in order to tempt the sage Peleimu into breaking the mitzvah of hospitality.
Rabbinical scholarship on the Book of Job generally follows the Talmud and Maimonides in identifying "the satan" from the prologue as a metaphor for the yetzer hara and not an actual entity. Satan is rarely mentioned in Tannaitic literature but is found in Babylonian Haggadah. Kabbalah presents Satan as an agent of God whose function is to tempt humans into sinning so that he may accuse them in the heavenly court. According to a narration, the sound of the shofar, primarily intended to remind Jews of the importance of teshuva, is also intended symbolically to "confuse the accuser" (Satan) and prevent him from rendering any litigation to God against the Jews. The Hasidic Jews of the eighteenth century associated ha-Satan with Baal Davar.
Each modern sect of Judaism has its interpretation of Satan's identity. Conservative Judaism rejects the Talmudic interpretation of Satan as a metaphor for the yetzer hara and regards him as a literal agent of God. Orthodox Judaism, on the other hand, outwardly embraces Talmudic teachings on Satan and involves Satan in religious life far more inclusively than other sects. Satan is mentioned explicitly in some daily prayers, including during Shacharit and certain post-meal benedictions, as described in the Talmud and the Jewish Code of Law. In Reform Judaism, Satan is generally seen in his Talmudic role as a metaphor for the Yetzer Hara and the symbolic representation of innate human qualities such as selfishness.