Thursday, February 26, 2015

Satan In The Old Testament (Part 2)

Part 1 of this topic can be seen by clicking here.

AP: In the prologue of the book of Job, Satan refers not to a demonic and essentially evil being, but he appears as the prosecutor of the celestial court. He is, therefore, a divine agent in charge of tasks entrusted by God. His mission is to accuse men before the heavenly throne when they do something bad. This Satan, prosecutor or accuser, may also have the task of serving God by testing men using pain or misfortune. In other words, he is used to test a person's character or devotion to God. More than "tempting," it might be better to say he is "keeping score."  Here's what the text says:
"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' Then Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.' The LORD said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.' Then Satan answered the LORD, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.' Then the LORD said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.' So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD." (Job 1:6-12) 
Immediately, Satan makes sure that Job is going to lose all his possessions one by one. But the wretched man remains faithful to Yahweh; he doesn't sin, and he doesn't utter a single word against God. After some time–a time when the sons of God came to be accountable to the Lord–Satan appears between the two. Then God said this, addressing the angel:
"Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. The LORD said to Satan, 'Where have you come from?' Then Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.' The LORD said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man fearing God and turning away from evil. And he still holds fast his integrity, although you incited Me against him to ruin him without cause.' Satan answered the LORD and said, 'Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. However, put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh; he will curse You to Your face.' So the LORD said to Satan, 'Behold, he is in your power, only spare his life.'" (Job 2:1-6)
Reading this key text tells us that at the time of its composition (probably in the 5th century B.C., but certainly after the return from exile in Babylon), Satan is not the Prince of Evil, nor is he its origin. He is rather a servant  of the heavenly court. Sure, he puts forth a sort of bad idea, and he is responsible for convincing God to harm Job. Yahweh gives in somewhat reluctantly, and then he later criticizes Satan for inciting it all. This text at least shows that Satan is the relatively harmful aspect of an ambivalent divinity, his sort of dark side, Yahweh's arm of destructive power, power which he delegates to his angel.

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