[b-hebrew] Satan

Harold Holmyard hholmyard at ont.com
Wed Sep 6 07:04:43 EDT 2006

Dear Yigal,

>Nowhere in the verses below is a statement that God does not create things 
>He "hates".

HH: There is no need to say that. Why should God create something He hates?

> Are you saying that wicked people, whom God "hates", are not 
>God's creatures?

HH: God does not create people as wicked. They are wicked because of 
choices they make.

> I would certainly not expect this attitude from a 
>Christian, but "even" from a Jewish perspective: God created everything and 
>every one.

HH: They are not wicked when created.

> He gave humans free choice between "good", which means obeying 
>God, and "evil", which means disobeying. This is something that only humans 
>are capable of. God advises us to chose the former - but if we chose the 
>latter, we carry the responsibility.

HH: Right, so you do understand.

>"Good" and "evil" are not absolutes. Let's take natural disasters: hundreds 
>of thousands killed by a tsunami. Was this NOT an act of God?

HH: We should distinguish between physical and moral evil. The weather 
patterns produce storms. Even if supernatural forces are behind them, 
they are still physical phenomena. They are not morally evil in themselves.

> Or at least, 
>could God have not chosen to avert it?

HH: There are complex reasons why storms occur, but it is not God's job 
to stop storms from occurring. In fact, we understand that many negative 
elements in life are a consequence of human sin (Genesis 3).

> From our perspective - a horror, 
>certainly not "good". From God's perspective - well, we work for Him, he 
>does not OWE us explanations. But, unless we resort to belief in an 
>independent Satan, there is no "evil" at work.

HH: Job does show that storms may be connected with the work of Satan.

>So the only true evil is that which is in the human soul. We all have some - 
>it is our choice do fight it or not. If there is a "satan", then it is a 
>metaphor for the yetser ha-ra that GOD CREATED in each of us.

HH: The Bible reveals that there are also fallen angels, just as human 
beings are fallen. The New Testament is clear about this. However, it 
remains true that we do not sin if we refuse to succumb to enticement 
that Satan may present. Genesis 3 shows that enticement can come from 
without.  It may be the norm for Judaism to write off the serpent as a 
projection of an inner evil impulse, but the serpent is clearly outside 
the human beings, and the New Testament clarifies that it was Satan.

Harold Holmyard

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