Friday, March 6, 2015

Satan In The Old Testament (Part 5)

You can see the previous installments to this series by clicking the following links:
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4.

AP: On the other hand, however, the Old Testament reader feels that this text presents several stories–including some where appears the figure of Satan, a sinister power, an evil and envious genius who is responsible for causing the greatest potential harm to humans. This applies, for example, in the first chapters of the Bible with the familiar story of the fall of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3). Embodied in the serpent is a decisive and negative malignant and seductive genius, who by the way is not called Satan or the Devil. This evil power deceives Eve and Adam and causes them to disobey the Creator. This results in fracturing their good relationship with him and leads to them being cast out of paradise. In the end, it is the beginning of a sad life for all of their descendants.

In the story of Job, the one called Satan (God's prosecutor) appears as as a very unpleasant figure that brings misfortune and illnesses suffered by Job. Although everything he does is feeling Job out, he is actually tempting Job to curse and separate himself from God.

In Zech. 3:1 the reader finds a passage in which the "angel of Yahweh" is contrasted with Satan: "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him." The first defends Joshua the high priest against the sinister accusations of the second, while the angel goes on to say: "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!"

This late passage–Zechariah is one of the prophets after the exile to Babylon–is a clarification and development of concepts of Old Testament concerning Satan. Although the Hebrew text has the definite article before Satan, which indicates that the term is a name (finally!), the reader gets a feeling that this word connotes a being with a strong individuation: Satan is a supernatural being that must be fiercely opposed not only by Yahweh, but by a specific human being, namely the high priest Joshua. From here the idea of an evil adversary with strong personal traits begins to take shape.

Therefore, in these Old Testament texts which have been quoted and in which the word "Satan" appears, this character is always subordinate to God and his servant. He is not known as the Devil. But, at the same time, the biblical writers, especially in Genesis believe there exists an anti-power. This anti-power opposes God the creator and his will. This anti-power can easily be associated with Satan because this character exerts very unpleasant duties. And this is precisely what the Jewish people will do with the passage of time.

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