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s article is about the concept of Satan. For the concept of "devil", see Devil. For other uses, see Satan (disambiguation).

[1]

Satan (Hebrew: הַשָּׂטָן ha-Satan), "the opposer",[1] is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible.[2] InChristianity the title became a personal name, and "Satan" changed from an accuser appointed by God to test men's faith to the chief of the rebellious fallen angels ("thedevil" in Christianity, "Shaitan" in Arabic, the term used by Arab Christians and Muslims).[3] In Islam, a shayṭān is any evil creature, whether human, animal or spirit. With the definite article, the Shayṭān is Iblis, the Devil.

Contents [hide]

Judaism

Hebrew Bible

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.[4] 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.”[5]

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

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)[8]
  • Psalm 109:6b "and let Satan stand at his right hand" (KJV)[9] 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"[10]
  • 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"

Job's Satan

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.[11] 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) [7]

Septuagint

In the Septuagint the Hebrew ha-Satan in Job and Zechariah is translated by the Greek word diabolos (slanderer), the same word in theGreek 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.[12] 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.

Jewish apocrypha

Jewish apocrypha includes texts written in the Jewish religious tradition either in the Intertestamental period or in the early Christian era, but outside the Christian tradition. It does not include books in the canonical Hebrew Bible, nor those accepted into the canon of some or all Christian faiths. To reconcile the late appearance of the texts with their claims to primitive antiquity, alleged authors are represented as "shutting up and sealing" (Dan. XII. 4:9) the works until the time of their fulfillment had arrived; as the texts were not meant for their own generations but for far-distant ages (also cited in Assumption of Moses I. 16:17). In the Book of Wisdom, the devil is represented as the being who brought death into the world.[13]

The Second Book of Enoch, also called the Slavonic Book of Enoch, contains references to a Watcher (Grigori) called Satanael.[14] It is a pseudepigraphic 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[15] and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was "righteous" and "sinful".[16] 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 apocryphal literature, Satan rules over a host of angels.[17] Mastema, who induced God to test Abraham through the sacrifice ofIsaac, is identical with Satan in both name and nature.[18]

For the Chasidic Jews of the 18th century, ha-Satan was Baal Davar.[19] 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 brethrenMichael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, previous to the fall from Heaven.

Talmud and other rabbinic sources

The Talmud mentions the Satan in many places. In all of these places, the Satan is an agent of God, and has no independent existence. Sometimes the Satan is conflated with various demons, such as Asmodai. At times there is even some sympathy for him. Commenting on the Book of Job, the rabbis express sympathy that his job was to "break the barrel but not spill any wine."[20]

In Kabbalistic literature and its derivative, Hasidic literature, the Satan is seen as an agent of God whose job is to tempt one into sin, and then turn around and accuse the sinner on high. An additional understanding of Satan is from a parable to a prostitute who is hired by the King (God) to tempt his son (a Jew). The prostitute has to do the best she can to tempt the son; but deep down she hopes the son will pass the test. Similarly, Kabbalistic/Hasidic thought sees the Satan in the same situation. His job is to tempt us as best he can, and then turn around and accuse us; deep down, however, he hopes we will resist his blandishments.

Christianity

[2]

Main article: Christian teaching about the Devil

See also: War in Heaven

In Christianity, terms that are synonymous with "Satan" include:

  • The most common English synonym for "Satan" is "Devil", which descends from Middle English devel, from Old English dēofol, that in turn represents an early Germanic borrowing ofLatin diabolus (also the source of "diabolical"). This in turn was borrowed from Greek diabolos"slanderer", from diaballein "to slander": dia- "across, through" + ballein "to hurl".[21] In theNew Testament, "Satan" occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside Diabolos (Greek for "the devil"), referring to the same person or thing as Satan.[22]
  • Beelzebub, meaning "Lord of Flies", is the contemptuous name given in the Hebrew Bible andNew Testament to a Philistine god whose original name has been reconstructed as most probably "Ba'al Zabul", meaning "Baal the Prince".[23]
  • Satan is traditionally identified as the serpent who convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent.
  • The Book of Revelation twice refers to "the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan," (12:9, 20:2). The Book of Revelation also refers to "the deceiver," from which is derived the common epithet "the great deceiver."[24]
  • Other terms identified with Satan include "the prince of this world" in the Book of John 12:31, 14:30; "the prince of the power of the air" also called Meririm, and "the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" in theBook of Ephesians 2:2; and "the god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4.[25]
  • From the fourth Century Lucifer is sometimes used in Christian theology to refer to Satan, as a result of identifying the fallen "son of the dawn" of Isaiah 14:12 with the "accuser" of other passages in the Old Testament.

[3]

In traditional Christian understanding of the holy Hebrew scriptures, the Torah, Satan is a synonym for the Devil. For most Christians, he is believed to be an angel who rebelled against God—and also the one who spoke through the serpent and seduced Eve into disobeying God's command. His ultimate goal is to lead people away from the love of God—to lead them to fallacies which God opposes. Satan is also identified as the accuser ofJob, the tempter in the Gospels, the secret power of lawlessness in 2 Thessalonians 2:7, and the dragon in the Book of Revelation. Before his insurrection, Satan was among the highest of all angels and the "brightest in the sky". His pride is considered a reason why he would not bow to God as all other angels did, but sought to rule heaven himself. The popularly held beliefs that Satan was once a prideful angel who eventually rebels against God, however, are not portrayed explicitly in the Bible and are mostly based on inference (e.g., Ezekiel 28 and Isaiah 14:12–17). In mainstream Christianity he is called "the ruler of the demons" (Matt. 12:24), "the ruler of the world" and "the god of this world". (2 Cor. 4:4). The Book of Revelation describes how Satan will be cast out of Heaven, down to the earth, having "great anger" and waging war against "those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus". Ultimately, Satan is thrown into the "Lake of fire", not as ruler, but as one among many, being tormented day and night forever and ever.[26]

In other Christian beliefs (e.g. the beliefs of the Christadelphians) the word "satan" in the Bible is not regarded as referring to a supernatural, personal being but to any "adversary" and figuratively refers to human sin and temptation.[27]

Islam

Main article: Devil (Islam)

Shaitan (شيطان) is the equivalent of Satan in Islam. While Shaitan (شيطان, from the root šṭn شطن) is an adjective (meaning "astray" or "distant", sometimes translated as "devil") that can be applied to both man ("al-ins", الإنس) and Jinn, Iblis (Arabic pronunciation: [ˈibliːs]) is the personal name of the Devil who is mentioned in the Qur'anic account of Genesis.[28] According to the Qur'an, Iblis (the Arabic name used) disobeyed an order from Allah to bow to Adam and as a result was forced out of heaven and given respite until the day of judgment from further punishment.

When Allah commanded all of the angels to bow down before Adam (the first Human), Iblis, full of hubris and jealousy, refused to obey God's command (he could do so because he had free will), seeing Adam as being inferior in creation due to his being created from clay as compared to him (created of fire).[29]

It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis (Lucifer); He refused to be of those who prostrate."

(Allah) said: "What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.

Qur'an 7:11–12

It was after this that the title of "Shaitan" was given, which can be roughly translated as "Enemy," "Rebel," "Evil" or "Devil". Shaitan then claims that if the punishment for his act of disobedience is to be delayed until the Day of Judgment, that he will divert many of Adam's own descendants from the straight path during his period of respite.[30] God accepts the claims of Iblis and guarantees recompense to Iblis and his followers in the form of Hellfire. In order to test mankind and jinn alike, Allah allowed Iblis to roam the earth to attempt to convert others away from his path.[31] He was sent to earth along with Adam and Eve, after eventually luring them into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree.[32]

Other religions

Yazidism

An alternate name for the main deity in the tentatively Indo-European pantheon of the Yazidi, Malek Taus, is Shaitan.[33] Rather than Satanic, however, Yazidism is better understood as a remnant of a pre-Islamic Middle Eastern Indo-European religion, and/or a ghulatSufi movement founded by Shaykh Adi. The connection with Satan, originally made by Muslim outsiders, attracted the interest of 19th century European travelers and esoteric writers.

Bahá'í Faith

In the Bahá'í Faith, Satan is not regarded as an independent evil power as he is in some faiths, but signifies the lower nature of humans.`Abdu'l-Bahá explains: "This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan — the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside."[34][35]All other evil spirits described in various faith traditions such as fallen angels, demons and jinns are also metaphors for the base character traits a human being may acquire and manifest when he turns away from God.[36]

Satanism

Main article: Satanism

Satanic groups have various opinions about Satan, ranging from the conviction that he exists and ought to be worshipped (theistic Satanism), to Anton Szandor LaVey's symbolic interpretation, which emphasizes individual will and pleasure-seeking.

Much "Satanic" lore does not originate from actual Satanists, but from Christians. Best-known is the medieval folklore and theology surrounding demons and witches. A more recent example is the so-called Satanic ritual abuse scare of the 1980s — beginning with the memoir Michelle Remembers — which depicts Satanism as a vast (and unproven) conspiracy of elites with a predilection for child abuseand human sacrifice. This genre regularly describes Satan as actually appearing in person in order to receive worship.

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