CODEX Entry 1100: Satan
The word devil does not appear in the Old Testament. Satan means adversary or accuser and is translated as such. It is only in the books of Job, Chronicles, and Zechariah that Satan is used as a personal pronoun.
Job 1:6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before Yahweh, and Satan came with them. “Where have you come from?” Yahweh asked Satan. “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that is going on.” Then Yahweh asked Satan, “Have you noticed my servant Job? He is the finest man in all the earth. He is blameless, a man of complete integrity. He fears the Gods and stays away from evil.” Satan replied to Yahweh,”Yes, but Job has good reason to fear the Gods. You have always put a wall of protection around him and his home and property. You have made him prosper in everything he does. Look how rich he is! But reach out and take away everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face!” “All right you may test him,” said Yahweh, “Do whatever you want with his property, but don’t harm him physically.”
Chronicles 1 says that Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. Yahweh only spoke through prophets in this age, as he was no longer present. The prophet Gad said Yahweh was furious with David’s census, and offered David three options; three years of famine; three months of defeat from your enemies, or three days of the wrath of Yahweh¹. Daniel chose his wrath and Yahweh’s plague killed 70,000 Israelites of fighting age. An angel, sent to destroy Jerusalem, was withdrawn at the last minute, as Yahweh’s temper cooled². Again, Satan’s role appears to be to test the Israelites on Yahweh’s behalf.
In 520 BC Zechariah had a dream of Satan falsely accusing Joshua and being admonished by Yahweh³. These are the only mentions of Satan in the Old Testament, reaffirming his role as a type of enforcer for Yahweh.
Satan’s descent from sitting at the right hand of Yahweh in the Old Testament, to a depiction as his arch nemesis in the New Testament, begins with the Zoroastrian doctrine of good and evil encroaching into Jewish traditions during their exile in Persia, 727 BC – 538 BC. Cyrus the Great’s Declaration, allowing Jews to return to Judea and build the second temple, resulted in the Jews giving Cyrus the title, ‘The Messiah of the Jews’. Through a combination of gratitude, and nearly two centuries of living with the monotheism of Ahura Mazda, the polytheistic Bible had all its Gods merged into Yahweh, the eternal force of good in the universe, and Satan, all the devils, monsters, serpents, and fallen angels, as the eternal force of evil.
In early Christian writings, John Martyr’s second apology in 150 AD. is the earliest reference we have linking Satan to the serpent in Eden in 150 AD4. In 248 AD in the Contra Celsum, the Christian community in Alexandria, in seeking to rebuke Celsus’ attack on Christianity, interpreted the words falling star in Isaiah and Ezekiel as a fallen angel named Lucifer5. In the Gospel of Luke this is further extrapolated to the falling star being Satan6, the fallen angel7. In 382 AD Jerome promoted this interpretation in his new translation, the Latin Vulgate8, which, from the 13th century onward, became the dominant version of the Bible. Here again the unsubstantiated link is widened further in Revelations, in which the serpent, Leviathon (sea monster), devil (Baal), Satan, and Lucifer (falling star) are merged in this concept of the fallen angel9. As the centuries progressed these five characters have distilled, through a mixture of careless translation, and the absorption of Zoroastrian theology.
¹ 1 Chr. 21:11
² 1 Chr. 21:27
³ Zech. 3:1
4 Poole, W. Scott, Satan in America: The Devil We Know
5 McGuckin, John Anthony, The Scholarly Works of Origen
6 Harold Bloom, Satan
7 Luke. 10:18
8 Anthony Maas, Catholic Encyclopedia
9 Rev. 12:9