[b-hebrew] Is.45:7 God created evil?

Harold R. Holmyard III hholmyard at ont.com
Thu Aug 4 23:34:01 EDT 2005

Dear Chris,

>In the quotation below and the longer text of your post, you are
>making theological claims, not exegetical or linguistic ones.

Here's something from Biblica on the topic of 1 Chronicles 21:1 and 
&+N ("satan") that you might find interesting:

Biblica 85 (2004) 545-558

Divine Intermediaries in 1 Chronicles 21
An Overlooked Aspect of the Chronicler's Theology*

The article's title has the word theology in it, but a good bit of 
information is linguistic or exegetical. While Evans does think the 
figure in 1 Chronicles is an angelic one, and a step towards the full 
concept of Satan, he does not find the figure as fully developed as 
the NT Satan. Evans gives some extra-biblical information, including 
the Targum of 1 Chronicles 21:1, which took the figure to be Satan. 
He discusses the implications of the definite article and the issue 
of a proper name, while emphasizing the Chronicler's editorial 
tendencies with regard to angels. He thinks the Book of Job may have 
influenced the Chronicler. In his footnotes he mentions the use of 
&+N in interestamental literature as a proper name. I tried to e-mail 
the article, but it was too long for B-Hebrew.

But let me include a few relevant quotes:

Interestingly, the Targum of Chronicles purposefully indicates that 
N+# here did not indicate an autonomous devil. In the Targum, 1 Chr 
21,1 reads "The Lord raised up Satan against Israel"38. While this 
appears to be a conflation between the Samuel and Chronicles texts, 
it is obviously clarifying that Satan is not an independent being but 
is controlled by Yahweh39. Once again the concerns of the Targum 
translator seem to be analogous to those of Ch.
         Although Ch did not see God as altogether separate from evil 
he, being a product of his postexilic age, saw a more developed role 
for divine intermediaries. As mentioned above, this could have been 
the result of Ch's exposure to the book of Job where N+# was part of 
the heavenly entourage and was used by Yahweh to test human beings. 
Thus, Ch believed that in his Vorlage when God incited David to 
number the people, this was done through a mediator - N+#. In this 
way, Ch was not intending to contradict his Vorlage but to better 
explain it40. This reinterpretation by Ch is consistent with 
subsequent development of angelology in later intertestamental 
literature. These later books which retold ot narratives, (e.g., 
Jubilees) tended to bringi n angels where there were none in the 
original OT text. Often the writer would introduce intermediaries to 
perform an act which God himself performs in the original story41. In 
a similar manner, Ch replaces the original narrative's account of God 
directly inciting David with a heavenly intermediary - N+#.

         Although not representing a complete doctrine of Satan, as 
developed in later Jewish writings, Ch's reworking of 2 Samuel 24 was 
an important stage in its development. It is, in fact, the final 
stage in the development of N+# in the ot. Drawing on the traditions 
of Job and Zechariah Ch takes the concept one step further. In 
Chronicles N+# not only brings charges against Yahweh's people but 
incites his anointed king to bring "guilt upon Israel"49. Despite 
this development, the term is still a long way from denoting the 
archenemy of God. Instead, his appearance in Chronicles is evidence 
of Ch's post-exilic theology which saw increased roles for divine 
intermediaries. While not being the mainstay of his purpose, this 
belief in divine mediation is evident in his work and has been 
overlooked by recent commentators.

3 C. Breytenbach and P.L. Day write "The majority of scholars... 
understand s8a4t[a4n to be the proper name Satan", ("Satan", 
Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible [eds. K. VAN DE TOORN - 
B. BECKING - P.W. VAN DER HORST] [Leiden 1995] 1375-1376). So H.G.M. 
WILLIAMSON, 1 and 2 Chronicles (Grand Rapids 1982) 143; R. BRAUN, 1 
Chronicles (Waco 1986) 216; G. VON RAD, Das Geschichtsbild des 
chronistischen Werkes zur Geheimen Offenbarung (BWANT 54; Stuttgart 
1939) 8-9; R. SHARF, Satan in the Old Testament (Evanston 1967) 155; 
W. EICHRODT, Theology of the Old Testament (Philadelphia 1967) II, 

8 This concurs with E. Langton who argued that in Zechariah 'Satan' 
became the title of a distinct personality, Essentials of Demonology. 
A Study of Jewish and Christian Doctrine; Its Origin and Development 
(London 1949) 53. Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar, which Japhet cites as the 
source for her etymological argument, explains that N+# is one of the 
instances where "original appellatives have completely assumed the 
character of real proper names and are therefore used without the 
article" (K. GESENIUS, Gesenius' Hebrew Grammar [Oxford 1988] 
125-125, 402). JAPHET rejects Gesenius' conclusion as "yet another 
case in which exegetical considerations influence objective 
linguistic analysis" (Ideology, 147, n. 427).

9 So argues P.L. DAY, An Adversary in Heaven. s8a4t[a4n in the Hebrew 
Bible (Atlanta 1988) 128. An example of another popular name for the 
Devil is seen in the book of Jubilees where "Mastema" - not Satan - 
is the favorite name for the chief demon (although this "Mastema" is 
not a different character than Satan but is actually also called 
Satan as well (see R.H. CHARLES, The Book of Jubilees: or the Little 
Genesis [London 1902] 81). Similarly, at Qumran, a favorite name for 
a similar character is Belial although the name Satan is also found 
frequently (Cf. 11QPsa Plea 19,15; 4QDibHama 1-2, IV, 12; 4QBera,b. 
Also 1QH fr.4, line 6 may have N+# as a name).

12 The names Dia/boloj, Beelzebou/l and Belia/r are also used of the 
chief of the demons (Beelzebou/l is found in Matt 10,25; 12,27, Mark 
3,22 and Luke 11,15; 2 Cor 6,15 mentions Belia/r). In the NT Satana=j 
is used 34 times while Dia/boloj is used 36 times. Breytenbach and 
Day argue that the use of Satana=j in the NT is simply "incidental" 
and just a "Semitism" ("Satan", 1379). However, the use of Satana=j 
is hardly what one would call "incidental"; it seems clear to this 
writer that the usage in the NT demonstrates that Satan was seen as a 
proper name and that it is only a Semitism as far as the name 
'Ihsou=j or any other number of Hebrew names are.

					Harold Holmyard

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