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

Heard, Christopher Christopher.Heard at pepperdine.edu
Fri Aug 5 19:27:29 EDT 2005

Oh boy. I shouldn't do this, but ...

On Aug 5, 2005, at 2:12 PM, Read, James C wrote:
> Ezekiel 28:11-19 describes Satan with glorious beginnings and then his
> fall into sin and his ultimate demise of eternal destruction.

No, it does not. I have recently been working through Ezekiel, verse  
by verse (in fact, chapter 39 is heartily calling my name right this  
second, telling me I should be working on that instead of typing  
messages to b-Hebrew), and it is quite fresh in my memory. There is  
no mention of any "Satan" in Ezekiel 28; indeed, the word _satan_  
appears nowhere in Ezekiel. Ezekiel 28:11-19 is an oracle explicitly  
directed against the (very human) king of Tyre. He is described in  
overly glorified, "cherubic" terms to _mock_ him for arrogance and  
pride. That is quite explicit in the first oracle in the chapter, as  
well as the preceding chapter which treats the same topic.

I am very well aware of the stream of interpretive tradition that  
tries to read Ezekiel 28:11-19 as some sort of reference to or  
description of Satan and "his" "rebellion and fall," but that  
interpretation simply doesn't work, exegetically. It is also deeply  
ironic, in that Tyre is accused throughout Ezekiel 26:1-28:19 of  
overweening pride. How strange, then, that interpreters should in a  
sense endorse and replicate that pride by making the "king of Tyre"  
out to be something superhuman and angelic.

The reference to the king of Tyre being in "Eden" does not in the  
slightest hint at the phrase "king of Tyre" being a cipher for  
"Satan," because there is no "Satan" in the Garden of Eden either ...  
at least not as the Garden of Eden is described in Genesis 2-3. The  
"serpent" of Genesis 2-3 is explicitly stated to be one of the "wild  
beasts that YHWH God had made." "Wild beasts" is the JPS translation  
of XYT H&DH, "living things of the field." Just like the elephants  
and zebras and monkeys and puppy dogs. The text of Genesis 2-3 does  
not support any interpretive supernaturalization of the serpent.

I repeat my plea for _exegetical justification_ of claims.

Now in a way it is really unfair for me to send this right now,  
because in a few minutes my IT department will be taking our e-mail  
system offline to install a new voice mail system (yes, they're  
intimately linked). So I won't be able to follow this thread or  
respond to any messages until at least Monday. Sorry.

R. Christopher Heard
Assistant Professor of Religion
Seaver Fellow in Religion
Pepperdine University
Malibu, California 90263-4352

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