Satan (Hebrew: הַשָּׂטָן ha-Satan, "the accuser,") is a character appearing in the texts of the Abrahamic religions, who personifies evil and temptation, and is known as the deceiver that leads humanity astray. The term is often applied to an angel who fell out of favor with God, seducing humanity into the ways of sin, and who now rules over the fallen world.
Satan is primarily understood as an "accuser" or "adversary" in the Hebrew Bible, and is not necessarily the personification of evil that he would become in later Abrahamic religions. In the New Testament, Satan is a name that refers to a decidedly malevolent entity (devil) who possesses demonic god-like qualities. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a positive force and deity who is either worshipped or revered. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is regarded as holding virtuous characteristics.
- 1 Judaism
- 2 Dualism and Zoroastrianism
- 3 Christianity
- 4 Islam
- 5 Yazidism
- 6 Bahá'í Faith
- 7 Satanism
- 8 See also
- 9 Notes
- 10 References
- 11 External links
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.”
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.)
- Numbers 22:22,32 "and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him."
- 32 "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) 
Second Temple period
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.
Dead Sea scrolls and Pseudepigrapha
In Enochic Judaism, the concept of Satan being an opponent of God and a chief evil figure in among demons, seems to have taken root in Jewish pseudepigrapha during the Second Temple period, particularly in the apocalypses. 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 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 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 Judaism, Satan is a term used since its earliest biblical contexts, to refer to a human opponent. Occasionally, the term has been used to suggest evil influence opposing human beings as in the Jewish exegesis of the Yetzer hara ("evil inclination" Genesis 6:5). Micaiah's "lying spirit" in 1 Kings 22:22 is sometimes related. Thus, Satan is personified as a character in three different places of the Tenakh, serving as an accuser (Zechariah 3:1-2), a seducer (1 Chronicles 21:1), or as a heavenly persecutor who is "among the sons of God" (Job 2:1). In any case, Satan is always subordinate to the power of God, having a role in the divine plan. Satan is rarely mentioned in Tannaitic literature, but is found in Babylonian aggadah.
In Medieval Judaism, the Rabbis rejected these Enochic literary works into the Biblical canon, making every attempt to root them out. Traditionalists and philosophers in medieval Judaism, adhered to rational theology, rejecting any belief in rebel or fallen angels, and viewing evil as abstract. The Yetzer hara ("evil inclination" Genesis 6:5) is a more common motif for evil in rabbinical texts. Rabbinical scholarship on the Book of Job generally follows the Talmud and Maimonides as identifying the "Adversary" in the prologue of Job as a metaphor.
In Hasidic Judaism, the Kabbalah presents Satan as an agent of God whose function is to tempt one into sin, then turn around and accuse the sinner on high.[vague] The Chasidic Jews of the 18th century associated ha-Satan with Baal Davar.
Dualism and Zoroastrianism
Some scholars see contact with religious dualism in Babylon, and early Zoroastrianism in particular, as having influenced Second Temple period Judaism, and consequently early Christianity. Subsequent development of Satan as a "deceiver" has parallels with the evil spirit in Zoroastrianism, known as the Lie, who directs forces of darkness.
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 of Latin 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". In the New Testament, "Satan" occurs more than 30 times in passages alongside Diabolos (Greek for "the devil"), referring to the same person or thing as Satan.
- Beelzebub, meaning "Lord of Flies", is the contemptuous name given in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament to a Philistine god whose original name has been reconstructed as most probably "Ba'al Zabul", meaning "Baal the Prince".
- Satan is traditionally identified as the serpent who tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. Justin Martyr, who was born around 100 C.E., was the first to postulate this association. According to Kelly, Justin makes this association "casually", without giving an explanation for his reasoning. In Chapters 45 and 79 of Dialogue with Trypho, Justin identifies Satan and the Serpent, asserting that he tempted humankind for "an unspecified sinful reason" and was cursed as a result. However, after Justin, the idea was promulgated by his student Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, and somewhat later by Tertullian.
- 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".
- 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 the Book of Ephesians 2:2; and "the god of this world" in 2 Corinthians 4:4.
- 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.
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 of Job, 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 an angel who becomes prideful and 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" (Matthew 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.
The early Christian church encountered opposition from pagans such as Celsus who claimed "it is blasphemy...to say that the greatest God...has an adversary who constrains his capacity to do good" and says that Christians "impiously divide the kingdom of God, creating a rebellion in it, as if there were opposing factions within the divine, including one that is hostile to God".
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.
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. 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).
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. 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. He was sent to earth along with Adam and Eve, after eventually luring them into eating the fruit from the forbidden tree.
An alternate name for the main deity in the tentatively Indo-European pantheon of the Yazidi, Malek Taus, is Shaitan. Rather than Satanic, however, Yazidism is better understood as a remnant of a pre-Islamic Middle Eastern Indo-European religion, and/or a ghulat Sufi 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.
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." 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.
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. In Theistic Satanism, Satan is considered a positive force and deity who is either worshipped or revered. In LaVeyan Satanism, Satan is regarded as holding virtuous characteristics.
Much modern "Satanic" lore does not originate from theistic or LaVeyan Satanism, but from traditional Christian folk beliefs coupled with contemporary urban legends. An example is the Satanic ritual abuse scare of the 1980s — beginning with the memoir Michelle Remembers — which depicted Satanism as a vast conspiracy of elites with a predilection for child abuse and human sacrifice. This genre frequently describes Satan as physically incarnating in order to receive worship.
- "Satan" under Funk and Wagnalls Jewish Encyclopedia result - jewishencyclopedia.com
- Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of World Religions - Page 290, Wendy Doniger
- Leeming, David Adams (2005). The Oxford Companion to World Mythology. Oxford University Press. p. 347. ISBN 978-0-19-515669-0.
- Contemporary Religious Satanisim: A Critical Reader, Jesper Aagaard Petersen - 2009
- Who's ? Right: Mankind, Religions and the End Times - Page 35, Kelly Warman-Stallings - 2012
- ed. Buttrick, George Arthur; ‘’The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, An illustrated Encyclopedia’’
- Crenshaw, James L. ‘’Harper Collins Study Bible’’ (NRSV)
- Stephen M. Hooks – 2007 "As in Zechariah 3:1–2 the term here carries the definite article (has'satan="the satan") and functions not as a ... the only place in the Hebrew Bible where the term "Satan" is unquestionably used as a proper name is 1 Chronicles 21:1. "
- Coogan, Michael D.; ‘’A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its context’’
- Rachel Adelman The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe De-Rabbi Eliezer p65 "However, in the parallel versions of the story in Chronicles, it is Satan (without the definite article),"
- Septuagint 108:6 κατάστησον ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν ἁμαρτωλόν καὶ διάβολος στήτω ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ
- Ruth R. Brand Adam and Eve p88 – 2005 "Later, however, King Hadad 1 Kings 11:14) and King Rezon (verses 23, ... Numbers 22:22, 23 does not use the definite article but identifies the angel of YHWH as "a satan."
- HarperCollins Study Bible (NRSV)
- Henry Ansgar Kelly Satan: a biography 2006 "However, for Hadad and Rezon they left the Hebrew term untranslated and simply said satan.. in the three passages in which a supra-Human satan appears: namely, Numbers, Job, Zechariah
- Jackson, David R. (2004). Enochic Judaism. London: T&T Clark International. pp. 2–4. ISBN 0826470890.
- Berlin, editor in chief, Adele (2011). The Oxford dictionary of the Jewish religion (2nd ed. ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. 651. ISBN 0199730040.
- 2 Enoch 18:3. On this tradition, see A. Orlov, "The Watchers of Satanael: The Fallen Angels Traditions in 2 (Slavonic) Enoch," in: A. Orlov, Dark Mirrors: Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology (Albany: SUNY, 2011)85-106.
- "And I threw him out from the height with his angels, and he was flying in the air continuously above the bottomless" - 2 Enoch 29:4
- "The devil is the evil spirit of the lower places, as a fugitive he made Sotona from the heavens as his name was Satanail, thus he became different from the angels, but his nature did not change his intelligence as far as his understanding of righteous and sinful things" – 2 Enoch 31:4
- See The Book of Wisdom: With Introduction and Notes, p. 27, Object of the book, by A. T. S. Goodrick.
- [ Introduction to the Book of Jubilees, 15. Theology. Some of our Author's Views: Demonology, by R.H. Charles.
- Based on the Jewish exegesis of 1 Samuel 29:4 and 1 Kings 5:18 - Oxford dictionary of the Jewish religion, 2011, p.651 "Satan is rarely mentioned in tannaitic literature; later, chiefly Babylonian, aggadah enlarges the scope of his influence and activities. Perhaps because of the influential presence of Satan as a name or character in the New Testament and the"
- Bamberger, Bernard J. (2006). Fallen angels : soldiers of satan's realm (1. paperback ed. ed.). Philadelphia, Pa.: Jewish Publ. Soc. of America. p. 148,149. ISBN 0827607970.
- Robert Eisen Associate Professor of Religious Studies George Washington University The Book of Job in Medieval Jewish Philosophy 2004 p120 "Moreover, Zerahfiiah gives us insight into the parallel between the Garden of Eden story and the Job story alluded to ... both Satan and Job's wife are metaphors for the evil inclination, a motif Zerahfiiah seems to identify with the imagination."
- The Dictionary of Angels" by Gustav Davidson, © 1967
- Jeffrey Burton Russell The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive ...1977 - Page 102 "This conflict between truth and the lie was one of the main sources of Zarathushtra's dualism: the prophet perceived Angra Mainyu, the lord of evil, as the personification of the lie. For Zoroastrians (as for the Egyptians), the lie was the essence ... "
- Peter Clark -Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to Ancient Faith 1998 -- Page 152 "There are so many features that Zoroastrianism seems to share with the Judeo-Christian tradition that it would be difficult to ... Historically the first point of contact that we can determine is when the Achaemenian Cyrus conquered Babylon ..539 BC"
- Winn, Shan M.M. (1995). Heaven, heroes, and happiness : the Indo-European roots of Western ideology. Lanham, Md.: University press of America. p. 203. ISBN 0819198609.
- "American Heritage Dictionary: Devil". Retrieved 2006-05-31.
- Revelation 12:9
- K. van der Toorn, Bob Becking, Pieter Willem van der Horst, Baalzebub, "Dictionary of deities and demons in the Bible", p.155
- Kelly, Harry Ansgar (2007). Satan: a Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 176. ISBN 978-0-521-84339-3.
- Kelly, Harry Ansgar (2007). Satan: a Biography. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 177. ISBN 978-0-521-84339-3.
- B. W. Johnson (). "The Revelation of John. Chapter XX. The Millennium.". The People's New Testament. Memorial University of Newfoundland. Retrieved November 30, 2009.
- 2 Corinthians 4:4
- Revelation 20:10
- Origen. Contra Celsum. Book 6. Ch 42.
- "Do you Believe in a Devil?". Retrieved 2007-05-29.
- [Quran 17:61]; [Quran 2:34]
- [Quran 17:62]
- [Quran 17:63–64]
- [Quran 7:20–22]
- Drower, E.S. The Peacock Angel. Being Some Account of Votaries of a Secret Cult and their Sanctuaries. London: John Murray, 1941. 
- ʻAbduʾl-Bahá (1982) . The Promulgation of Universal Peace. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Bahá'í Publishing Trust. pp. 294–295. ISBN 0-87743-172-8.
- Smith, Peter (2000). A Concise Encyclopedia of the Bahá'í Faith. Oxford, UK: Oneworld. pp. 135–136, 304. ISBN 1-85168-184-1.
- Smith, Peter (2008). An Introduction to the Baha'i Faith. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 112. ISBN 0-521-86251-5.
- The Illuminati: Facts & Fiction - Page 98
- Contemporary religious Satanism: a critical anthology - Page 45, Jesper Aagaard Petersen - 2009
- Bamberger, Bernard J. (2006). Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm. Jewish Publication Society of America. ISBN 0-8276-0797-0.
- Caldwell, William. "The Doctrine of Satan: I. In the Old Testament," The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No. 1 (Jan., 1913), pp. 29–33 in JSTOR
- Caldwell, William. "The Doctrine of Satan: II. Satan in Extra-Biblical Apocalyptical Literature," The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No. 2 (Feb., 1913), pp. 98–102 in JSTOR
- Caldwell, William. "The Doctrine of Satan: III. In the New Testament," The Biblical World, Vol. 41, No. 3 (Mar., 1913), pp. 167–172 in JSTOR
- Coogan, Michael D.; ‘’A Brief Introduction to the Old Testament: The Hebrew Bible in its context’’; Oxford University Press 2009
- Crenshaw, James L. ‘’Harper Collins Study Bible’’Harper Collins, 1989
- Empson, William. Milton's God (1966)
- Forsyth, Neil (1987). The Old Enemy: Satan & the Combat Myth. Princeton University Press; Reprint edition. ISBN 0-691-01474-4.
- Forsyth, Neil (1987). The Satanic Epic. Princeton University Press; Reprint edition. ISBN 0-691-11339-4.
- Gentry, Kenneth L. Jr (2002). The Beast of Revelation. American Vision. ISBN 0-915815-41-9.
- Graves, Kersey (1995). Biography of Satan: Exposing the Origins of the Devil. Book Tree. ISBN 1-885395-11-6.
- ‘’The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, An illustrated Encyclopedia’’;ed. Buttrick, George Arthur; Abingdon Press 1962
- Jacobs, Joseph, and Ludwig Blau. "Satan," The Jewish Encyclopedia (1906) online pp 68–71
- Kelly, Henry Ansgar. Satan: A Biography. (2006). 360 pp. excerpt and text search ISBN 0-521-60402-8, a study of the Bible and Western literature
- Kent, William. "Devil." The Catholic Encyclopedia (1908) Vol. 4. online older article
- Osborne, B. A. E. "Peter: Stumbling-Block and Satan," Novum Testamentum, Vol. 15, Fasc. 3 (Jul., 1973), pp. 187–190 in JSTOR on "Get thee behind me, Satan!"
- Pagels, Elaine (1995). The Origin of Satan. Vintage; Reprint edition. ISBN 0-679-72232-7.
- Rebhorn Wayne A. "The Humanist Tradition and Milton's Satan: The Conservative as Revolutionary," Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, Vol. 13, No. 1, The English Renaissance (Winter, 1973), pp. 81–93 in JSTOR
- Rudwin, Maximilian (1970). The Devil in Legend and Literature. Open Court. ISBN 0-87548-248-1.
- Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity (1987) excerpt and text search
- Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Satan: The Early Christian Tradition (1987) excerpt and text search
- Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Lucifer: The Devil in the Middle Ages (1986) excerpt and text search
- Russell, Jeffrey Burton. Mephistopheles: The Devil in the Modern World (1990) excerpt and text search
- Russell, Jeffrey Burton. The Prince of Darkness: Radical Evil and the Power of Good in History (1992) excerpt and text search
- Schaff, D. S. "Devil" in New Schaff–Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge (1911), Mainline Protestant; vol 3 pp 414–417 online
- Scott, Miriam Van. The Encyclopedia of Hell (1999) excerpt and text search comparative religions; also popular culture
- Wray, T. J. and Gregory Mobley. The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots (2005) excerpt and text search
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- A Generational Theistic perspective on Satan, Lucifer and Satanas-Luciferi