[b-hebrew] Satan

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Tue Sep 5 19:47:02 EDT 2006

Dear Yigal,

>First of all, there is no "Satan", as an individual being, in the Tanakh. 
>"Ha-satan" means "the adversary", and I'm not even sure if the same being is 
>meant in all cases. Note 1 Kings 11:14 and 23, in which God sends a "satan" 
>against Solomon - in both cases mere humans!
>Second, in Jewish tradition, the snake of Gen. 3 has nothing at all to do 
>with Satan. He's just a jealous, clever, talking snake. At most, he 
>represents our own human "yetser ha-ra", our "evil inclination", which is 
>ours to overcome.
>God, as Creator of all, is also the creator of evil. If there were no evil, 
>there would be no free choise and no reward for overcoming evil. The idea of 
>there being a powerful, almost god-like, evil being that carries on a cosmic 
>struggle against God is a pagan one, which found its way into some parts of 
>post-biblical Judaism and from there into Christianity.

HH: God does not have to create moral evil. If there is free choice, 
there can be evil. You have it just backwards in assuming God must first 
create evil in order for free will to exist.

Satan is a rebellious angel in Christian thinking.

The Tanakh shows a pattern of progressive revelation, more and more 
being revealed as time passed. Christians believe that the Tanakh shows 
an incomplete angelology and demonology, which later revelation 
clarifies. So the ideas that Judaism has are understandable.

Harold Holmyard

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