Part 1: Sin
There are many interpretations as to what sin is, however, many of these interpretations are not based upon fact. What does sin mean? How does one commit an act of sin? These are some important questions in order to know and understand, just what sin is.
Simply put, sin is the transgression of the Law according to the King James Version:
Whosoever commits sin, transgresses also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 1 John 3:4
This, however, is not an accurate translation of the Greek Text. A more accurate translation would be:
πας ο ποιων την αμαρτιαν και την ανομιαν ποιει και η αμαρτια εστιν η ανομια
All who are doing sin also does lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.
Anomia is the Greek word which means literally without (a) law (nomos). This is simply stating that sin is acting outside or without the authority of the law. What law? There is only One Law in the Hebrew and Greek Text, this is what is called Torah. The Torah is what was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai, which was written upon two tablets of stone.
And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there, and I will give thee Tables of stone, and a Law, and Commandments which I have written, that thou mayest teach them. Exodus 24:12
The KJV translators make a clear mistranslation here. They translate the word Law as if it were indefinite (a Law), while the Hebrew has it definite (the Law):
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה עֲלֵה אֵלַי הָהָרָה וֶהְיֵה-שָׁם וְאֶתְּנָה לְךָ אֶת-לֻחֹת הָאֶבֶן וְהַתּוֹרָה וְהַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר כָּתַבְתִּי לְהוֹרֹתָם
And the LORD said to Moses, ascend the Mountain to Me, and be there, and I will give to you the Tablets of Stone, The Law (HaTorah) and The Commandments I have written so you may Instruct them (l’horotam).
The Law in the Hebrew is Torah, which actually means instruction. It is from the same verb used as the end of the verse which I translated Instruct and the KJV translates as to teach. The Greek has it as:
καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν Ἀνάβηθι πρός με εἰς τὸ ὄρος καὶ ἴσθι ἐκεῖ· καὶ δώσω σοι τὰ πυξία τὰ λίθινα, τὸν νόμον καὶ τὰς ἐντολάς, ἃς ἔγραψα νομοθετῆσαι αὐτοῖς.
And the Lord said to Moses, Come up to me into the mountain, and be there; and I will give thee the tables of stone, the law (ton Nomon) and the commandments, which I have written to give them laws (nomothetesai).
This is the only Law ever recorded which was written by the Hand of God and given to people to live by. So when you read “law” in the Hebrew Text it is Torah, and in the Greek Christian Text, it is Nomos. There is no difference, as they are both speaking of the Stone Tablets given to Moses.
Sin is not a moral stain upon the soul, but an actual offense, an infraction against the Divine Laws, as Webster defines it:
“The voluntary departure of a moral agent from a known rule of rectitude or duty, prescribed by God; any voluntary transgression of the divine law, or violation of a divine command; a wicked act; iniquity. Sin is either a positive act in which a known divine law is violated, or it is the voluntary neglect to obey a positive divine command, or a rule of duty clearly implied in such command. Sin comprehends not action only, but the neglect of known duty, all evil thoughts, purposes, words, and desires, whatever is contrary to God’s commands or law.”
God gave the Law to the Israelites at Sinai. This Law encompassed religion, civil law, military law, economic law and also penal laws. This means that God not only gave the Law but gave the penalty for violating this Law. Contrary to popular opinion, to commit sin was not always punishable by death as Paul claims:
For the wages of sin is death Romans 6:23
There are sins which do not lead to death:
All unrighteousness is a sin, and there is a sin not unto death. 1John 5:17
The Law makes it clear, there are sins which demand certain payments, restitution, or certainly another recompense. However, there are some sins which clearly do not have these other options, rather the offender must be put to death. Among these are adultery, idolatry, breaking the Sabbath command, or murder as defined by the Law. All these crimes or sins do not allow a ransom for the life of the offender.
Part 2: Sacrifice
What is a sacrifice? What does this mean? The word “sacrifice” comes from the Latin sacrificare meaning to make something sacred. Sacred in turn comes from the Latin sacer meaning devoted to a Divinity (for destruction). Hence, to sacrifice means to devote a thing to a divinity for destruction.
In the Hebrew Text, sacrifices are called by various terms. The most common is zebach, which means literally to slaughter. A zebach can be one of many classes such as an oleh which is completely burned upon the altar, shlamim which is only partially burned, the rest of the zebach is eaten, etc.
Zebach is given for many reasons, namely as a votive gift, or freewill offering. It can be given for recompense for certain crimes, etc. It can also be given as a religious rite.
The Hebrew Text lists several crimes for which a zebach is given. The Sin Offering with all its regulation can be found in Leviticus 4:1-35. What we can glean from this instruction is that the laws which the LORD gave to Moses for the people were to be kept, but if a transgression was made, through ignorance, then the Sin Offering would be the restitution and ransom for the crime.
Along with sacrifice, we have two words which are used synonymously, and which are central to the Sin Offering. These are forgiveness and pardon. Forgiveness and pardon depend intimately upon atonement:
Lev 4:20 And he shall do with the bullock as he did with the bullock for a sin offering, so shall he do with this: And the Priest shall make an atonement for them, and it shall be forgiven them.
Lev 4:26 And he shall burn all his fat upon the Altar, as the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the Priest shall make an atonement for him, as concerning his sin, and it shall be forgiven him.
Lev 4:31 And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat is taken away from off the sacrifice of peace offerings: and the Priest shall burn it upon the Altar, for a sweet savor unto the Lord, and the Priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
Lev 4:35 And he shall take away all the fat thereof, as the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of the peace offerings: and the Priest shall burn them upon the Altar, according to the offerings made by fire unto the Lord, and the Priest shall make an atonement for his sin that he hath committed, and it shall be forgiven him.
Forgiveness comes from the Old English forgiefan, which means to give away. Pardon comes from the Latin perdonare meaning for “for a gift”. Notice how these two terms go hand in hand with the atonement, which is given by the offender. It is only after the atonement is given that the offender is considered forgiven, or pardoned.
and the Priest shall make an atonement for him, and it shall be forgiven him.
What then is an atonement? Atonement is a contrived English word used by translators to explain the Hebrew words kippur and kofer. Both of these words come from the verb kafar, which means to cover. In the sense of crime and punishment, the atonement was the gift given by the offender to the Authority (in the Biblical sense God Himself) as a ransom for his own life. Once the kofer is given to the Authority, the offender is deemed forgiven, meaning he has already given the ransom to the Authority.
In a literal sense a kofer is a type of bribe, given to an authority to “blind the eyes” to an offense:
Gen 32:20 And say ye moreover, Behold, thy servant Jacob is behind us: for he said, I will appease (akaf’rah) him with the present that goeth before me, and afterward I will see his face; peradventure he will accept of me.
1Sa 12:3 Behold, here I am, witnesse against me before the Lord, and before his Anointed: Whose ox have I taken? or whose ass have I taken? or who have I defrauded? who have I oppressed? or of whose hand have I received any bribe (kofer) to blind mine eyes therewith? and I will restore it to you.
There are some sins, such as murder (as defined by the Law) which do not permit the offender to give a kofer, and no ransom then is taken for his life, and the offender is then executed.
Num 35:31 Moreover, ye shall take no satisfaction (kofer) for the life of a murderer, which is guiltie of death, but he shall be surely put to death.
It is a more suitable analogy to compare the U.S. Legal System with that of the Torah. The Torah would be the Constitution, the Priesthood as the Judicial Branch, and the High Priest as both the Solicitor and Supreme Judge. The penal laws would be filled with punishments from fines, restitution to even capital punishment. In all these cases, the Kofer would be equal to the fines and restitution. In the Biblical times, the sacrifices were the fines paid to the court system.
Part 3: Satan
Most of the Christian world understands Satan to be the antithesis and antagonist of God. The Christian scholars claim that Satan was one of the highest orders of angels, the archangels. He was perfect, and because of his pride, he was cast out of the heavenly court. This fall caused him to turn against God and seek to destroy God’s image upon Earth, mankind.
He is represented in the Greek Christian Text as the father of lies (John 8:44), as a murderer (John 8:44), a deceiver (Rev 12:9), a tempter (Matt. 4:3), and as a devouring roaring lion (1Pet 5:8). These epithets are, simply, of Greek Christian Text derivation. It is from the Greek Christian Text that most of Satan’s myth comes down to the modern era.
In this article, I would like to discuss the Hebrew Text’s ideology concerning Satan, the angels, and God. Can the Greek Christian Text’s descriptions of Satan stand up to scrutiny?
Many Christian theologians claim that Satan was an angel of the highest order, called Cherubim and that he was in charge of at least a third of the angelic host. The word Cherubim is the plural of Cherub, a word of uncertain derivation. It is possibly from the Assyrian kirubu, which was a winged bull or even more likely from the Assyrian kirubu which means great or mighty.
The first mention of cherubim in the Bible comes from the account found in Genesis 3, which was at the expulsion of humanity from the Garden of Eden. The cherubim were stationed before the Garden to guard the way to the tree of life:
וַיְגָרֶשׁ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם וַיַּשְׁכֵּן מִקֶּדֶם לְגַן־עֵדֶן אֶת־הַכְּרֻבִים וְאֵת לַהַט הַחֶרֶב הַמִּתְהַפֶּכֶת לִשְׁמֹר אֶת־דֶּרֶךְ עֵץ הַֽחַיִּֽים׃ ס
So he drove out the man and stationed the cherubim with the flame of the ever-turning sword before the garden to guard the way of the tree of life. Gen 3:24
The next place cherubim are mentioned in the Bible is in the instructions given to Moses for the construction of the Tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant had a covering called kaforeth. Upon each end of the kaforeth, there were cherubim facing each other. This kaforeth is known as the throne of YHWH, as this was where He would meet and commune with the people:
וְעָשִׂיתָ שְׁנַיִם כְּרֻבִים זָהָב מִקְשָׁה תַּעֲשֶׂה אֹתָם מִשְּׁנֵי קְצֹות הַכַּפֹּֽרֶת׃ וַעֲשֵׂה כְּרוּב אֶחָד מִקָּצָה מִזֶּה וּכְרוּב־אֶחָד מִקָּצָה מִזֶּה מִן־הַכַּפֹּרֶת תַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת־הַכְּרֻבִים עַל־שְׁנֵי קְצֹותָֽיו׃ וְהָיוּ הַכְּרֻבִים פֹּרְשֵׂי כְנָפַיִם לְמַעְלָה סֹכְכִים בְּכַנְפֵיהֶם עַל־הַכַּפֹּרֶת וּפְנֵיהֶם אִישׁ אֶל־אָחִיו אֶל־הַכַּפֹּרֶת יִהְיוּ פְּנֵי הַכְּרֻבִֽים׃ וְנָתַתָּ אֶת־הַכַּפֹּרֶת עַל־הָאָרֹן מִלְמָעְלָה וְאֶל־הָאָרֹן תִּתֵּן אֶת־הָעֵדֻת אֲשֶׁר אֶתֵּן אֵלֶֽיךָ׃ וְנֹועַדְתִּי לְךָ שָׁם וְדִבַּרְתִּי אִתְּךָ מֵעַל הַכַּפֹּרֶת מִבֵּין שְׁנֵי הַכְּרֻבִים אֲשֶׁר עַל־אֲרֹן הָעֵדֻת אֵת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר אֲצַוֶּה אֹותְךָ אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ פ
And you will make two cherubim of beaten gold, and you shall make them at the two ends of the kaforeth. You will make the one cherub at this end, and you will make the other cherub at the other end, thus you will make the two cherubim at its two ends. The cherubim shall stretch up their wings, covering (sokeikh) the kaforeth with their wings, and each of the cherubim’s faces shall be toward the kaforeth. Then you will place the kaforeth upon the Ark, and you shall place the Testimony which I am giving you in the Ark, and I shall make Myself known to you there, and I will speak with you from above the kaforeth, between the two cherubim which are upon the Ark of the Testimony, with all which I command you to the Children of Israel. Ex 25:18-22
From this point onwards, the cherubim and the imagery of the Ark of the Covenant are considered the Throne of God. This can be seen in the depictions of God’s throne by Isaiah (6; 37:16) and Ezekiel (10-11), as well as from the poetry of the Psalms (18).
It is from this premise that most Christian scholars make a great leap, and connect the idea of the covering cherub of Ezekiel 28:14 with Satan:
אַתְּ־כְּרוּב מִמְשַׁח הַסֹּוכֵךְ וּנְתַתִּיךָ בְּהַר קֹדֶשׁ אֱלֹהִים הָיִיתָ בְּתֹוךְ אַבְנֵי־אֵשׁ הִתְהַלָּֽכְתָּ׃
You are the covering anointed cherub and I placed you in the Holy Mountain of God, and you walked among the Stones of Fire.
However, one must remove the narrative from its context to make this claim. The person being spoken about was the King of Tyre:
בֶּן־אָדָם אֱמֹר לִנְגִיד צֹר כֹּֽה־אָמַר ׀ אֲדֹנָי יְהֹוִה יַעַן גָּבַהּ לִבְּךָ וַתֹּאמֶר אֵל אָנִי מֹושַׁב אֱלֹהִים יָשַׁבְתִּי בְּלֵב יַמִּים וְאַתָּה אָדָם וְֽלֹא־אֵל וַתִּתֵּן לִבְּךָ כְּלֵב אֱלֹהִֽים׃
Son of man, say to the Prince of Tyre, Thus says my Lord YHWH: Because your heart lifted up and you said, “I am a God, I sit in God’s seat in the heart of the seas”; yet you are a man and not a God, even though you set your heart as the heart of God. Ezekiel 28:2
The context of chapter 28 is a metaphoric discourse from God to the enemies of Israel, who have vexed His people from every side, and though they had a hand in the downfall and destruction of Israel, God warns that they too will have their day of reckoning. In the same manner that God describes the King of Tyre as a cherub, in the garden of God, etc. He also spoke concerning other kings. For instance:
Pharaoh, the King of Egypt is called a dragon having scales:
דַּבֵּר וְאָמַרְתָּ כֹּֽה־אָמַר ׀ אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה הִנְנִי עָלֶיךָ פַּרְעֹה מֶֽלֶךְ־מִצְרַיִם הַתַּנִּים הַגָּדֹול הָרֹבֵץ בְּתֹוךְ יְאֹרָיו אֲשֶׁר אָמַר לִי יְאֹרִי וַאֲנִי עֲשִׂיתִֽנִי׃ וְנָתַתִּי חַחִיִּים בִּלְחָיֶיךָ וְהִדְבַּקְתִּי דְגַת־יְאֹרֶיךָ בְּקַשְׂקְשֹׂתֶיךָ וְהַעֲלִיתִיךָ מִתֹּוךְ יְאֹרֶיךָ וְאֵת כָּל־דְּגַת יְאֹרֶיךָ בְּקַשְׂקְשֹׂתֶיךָ תִּדְבָּֽק׃
Speak and say, “Thus says my Lord YHWH, Behold I am against you Pharaoh, king of Egypt, the Great Dragon which lies in the midst of its river, who said, My river is mine, I made it. But I will put hooks in your jaws, and I will cause the fish of your rivers to stick to your scales, and I will bring you up from the midst of your rivers and all the fish of your rivers will stick to your scales Ezekiel 29:3-4
Both Pharaoh and the King of Assyria are said to have been trees in the Garden of Eden, the Garden of God which is identified as Lebanon:
בֶּן־אָדָם אֱמֹר אֶל־פַּרְעֹה מֶֽלֶךְ־מִצְרַיִם וְאֶל־הֲמֹונֹו אֶל־מִי דָּמִיתָ בְגָדְלֶֽךָ׃
Son of man, say to Pharaoh King of Egypt and to his multitude, Who is like you in Greatness? Ezekiel 31:2
הִנֵּה אַשּׁוּר אֶרֶז בַּלְּבָנֹון יְפֵה עָנָף וְחֹרֶשׁ מֵצַל וּגְבַהּ קֹומָה וּבֵין עֲבֹתִים הָיְתָה צַמַּרְתֹּֽו׃
Look, Assyria is a beautiful branched cedar in Lebanon, an overshadowing shroud, with a high stature and his top was among the thick boughs. Ezekiel 31:3
אֲרָזִים לֹֽא־עֲמָמֻהוּ בְּגַן־אֱלֹהִים בְּרֹושִׁים לֹא דָמוּ אֶל־סְעַפֹּתָיו וְעַרְמֹנִים לֹֽא־הָיוּ כְּפֹֽארֹתָיו כָּל־עֵץ בְּגַן־אֱלֹהִים לֹא־דָמָה אֵלָיו בְּיָפְיֹֽו׃ יָפֶה עֲשִׂיתִיו בְּרֹב דָּֽלִיֹּותָיו וַיְקַנְאֻהוּ כָּל־עֲצֵי־עֵדֶן אֲשֶׁר בְּגַן הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃ ס
The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the plane trees were not as his branches; nor was any tree in the garden of God like unto him in his beauty. I made him fair by the multitude of his branches: so that all the trees of Eden, that were in the garden of God, envied him. Ezekiel 31:8-9
Contextually, beginning in Chapter 24 and ending in Chapter 39 we have a scene where Israel is destroyed because of her idolatry (23) and the nations which were used as the instruments of the destruction (24-32) are given the news that they will, in turn, be destroyed for their part. In chapters 33-37 we have the Hope of Return given to Israel and Judah, culminating in the battle of Gog and Magog in chapters 38-39. None of this discourse speaks of an angelic host, nor of any archangel falling from his position in Heaven.
Lucifer, Who is He?
According to today’s estimation, Satan’s proper name is Lucifer. This assumption is based on the text of Isaiah 14:12:
אֵיךְ נָפַלְתָּ מִשָּׁמַיִם הֵילֵל בֶּן־שָׁחַר נִגְדַּעְתָּ לָאָרֶץ חֹולֵשׁ עַל־גֹּויִֽם׃
How have you fallen from heaven Lucifer son of the Dawn, you have been cut down to earth, disabler of nations.
The problem here is that Lucifer is not in the Hebrew text, but is left over from a Latin translation made by Jerome in 405 ACE:
quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes
How are you fallen from heaven, Lucifer, who rises in the morning, fallen to the ground, that did wound the nations
Lucifer means light bringer in Latin, and is a translation of the Greek Heosphoros which means bringer of dawn:
πῶς ἐξέπεσεν ἐκ τοῦ οὐρανοῦ ὁ ἑωσφόρος ὁ πρωὶ ἀνατέλλων; συνετρίβη εἰς τὴν γῆν ὁ ἀποστέλλων πρὸς πάντα τὰ ἔθνη.
How are you fallen from heaven heosphoros, who rises in the morning, the one who is sent to all nations has been cut down to earth.
One ironic thing about the word Lucifer is that it only appears three times in the Latin Vulgate: Job 11:17, Isaiah 14:12 and also 2 Peter 1:19:
et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem cui bene facitis adtendentes quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso loco donec dies inlucescat et lucifer oriatur in cordibus vestris
and we have more firm prophetical word as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until which you do well, giving heed to the day dawns and the morning star (lucifer) arise in your hearts 2 Peter 1:19
lucifer is the name the Romans gave to the morning star, or Venus. Incidentally, it is also the same title which belongs to Jesus
I, Jesus, sent My angel to testify these things to you over the assemblies. I am the Root and Offspring of David, the bright and morning Star. Revelation 22:16
Here is Adam Clarke’s commentary on 2 Peter 1:19:
“And to this doctrine, thus confirmed, ye do well to take heed; for it is that light that shines in the dark place – in the Gentile world, as well as among the Jews; giving light to them that sit in darkness, and bringing the prisoners out of the prison house: and this ye must continue to do till the day of his second, last, and most glorious appearing to judge the world comes; and the day star, φωσφορος, this light-bringer, arise in your hearts – manifest himself to your eternal consolation. Or perhaps the latter clause of the verse might be thus understood: The prophecies concerning Jesus, which have been so signally confirmed to us on the holy mount, have always been as a light shining in a dark place, from the time of their delivery to the time in which the bright day of Gospel light and salvation dawned forth, and the Son of righteousness has arisen in our souls, with healing in his rays. And to this all who waited for Christ’s appearing have taken heed. The word φωσφορος, phosphorus, generally signified the planet Venus, when she is the morning star; and thus she is called in most European nations.”
Albert Barnes on the same verse:
And the day-star – The morning star – the bright star that at certain periods of the year leads on the day, and which is a pledge that the morning is about to dawn. Compare Rev_2:28; Rev_22:16.
Vincent’s Word Study entry on the same verse:
The day-star (φωσφόρος)
Of which our word phosphorus is a transcript. Lit., light-bearer, like Lucifer, front lux, light, and fero, to bear. See Aeschylus, “Agamemnon,” 245.
Let’s place Isaiah 14:12 in context here; the one sent to all nations is the King of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar (verse 4) and not Satan. The King of Babylon was sent against all the nations, Egypt, Assyria, Lebanon, etc. and destroyed them. In this chapter, the King of Babylon is being given the news of the demise of his kingdom. Why? As the chapter begins, we are told that:
For YHWH will have pity on Jacob, and will yet choose among Israel, and set them in their own land. And the stranger shall be joined to them; and they shall cling to the house of Jacob. And the peoples shall take them and bring them to their own place. And the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of YHWH for slaves and slave girls. And they shall be captives of their captors; and they shall rule over their oppressors. And it shall be, in the day that YHWH shall give you rest from your sorrow, and from your trouble, and from the hard bondage which was pressed on you, you shall lift up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: How the exacter, the gold gatherer, has ceased! YHWH has broken the rod of the wicked, the staff of rulers, who struck the peoples in wrath, a blow without turning away, ruling the nations in anger, dealing out persecution without restraint. Isaiah 14:1-6
This chapter is a promise concerning the end of the Babylonian captivity and the return of the Jews to their homeland. So the context here is the same as that in Ezekiel above. None of this chapter is dealing with Satan, nor is his name mentioned in any of these texts. Lucifer is not the name of Satan, but is a product of willful misinterpretation and the fancy of the church clergy.
What about the Devil?
Looking at the Hebrew scripture, you would expect to find the devil everywhere. You would almost swear Satan was there from the very beginning, spreading lies and mischief. This is not the case though. The word devil only appears 4 times in a few English translations. These are Leviticus 17:7; Deuteronomy 32:17; 2 Chronicles 11:15; and finally Psalm 106:37.
In Lev. 17:7 and 2 Chr. 11:15, the Hebrew word translated as the devil is saiyr, which is just a hairy goat. When you examine these two verses, you will realize that what the KJV translators considered devils were in fact idols of goats. Looking at the entire context of Lev. 17, you will notice that the Hebrews were still sacrificing their animals to these idols. God then commands Moses to instruct the Hebrews:
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron, and unto his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them; This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded, saying, What man soever there be of the house of Israel, that killeth an ox, or lamb, or goat, in the camp, or that killeth it out of the camp, And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people: To the end that the children of Israel may bring their sacrifices, which they offer in the open field, even that they may bring them unto the LORD, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest, and offer them for peace offerings unto the LORD. And the priest shall sprinkle the blood upon the altar of the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and burn the fat for a sweet savour unto the LORD. And they shall no more offer their sacrifices unto devils, after whom they have gone a whoring. This shall be a statute forever unto them throughout their generations. Leviticus 17:1-7 KJV
The Hebrews were commanded by God to bring their sacrifices to His altar;
And the LORD said unto Moses, Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven. Ye shall not make with me gods of silver, neither shall ye make unto you gods of gold. An altar of earth thou shalt make unto me, and shalt sacrifice thereon thy burnt offerings, and thy peace offerings, thy sheep, and thine oxen: in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee. And if thou wilt make me an altar of stone, thou shalt not build it of hewn stone: for if thou lift up thy tool upon it, thou hast polluted it. Neither shalt thou go up by steps unto mine altar, that thy nakedness be not discovered thereon. Exodus 20:22-26 KJV
When you read these together with 2 Chr. 11:15, you will see that these verses are speaking of idols, and not devils in the sense of an individual or collective entity. Let’s look at 2 Chronicles 11:15:
And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. 2 Chr. 11:15 KJV
Here you can see that devils really are just goat idols “which he had made” and not devils in the modern concept.
In Deuteronomy 32:17 and Psalm 106:37 the Hebrew word translated as devils is sheidim the plural of sheid. This is a noun derived from the verb shud meaning to waste or to destroy. In the entire Hebrew scripture this verb is used only once in Psalm 91:6:
Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth (yashud) at noonday. Ps. 91:6 KJV [transliteration mine]
Yashud is the imperfect simple verb conjugation of shud. Taking this as our qualifier, we can see that the noun derivatives simply mean a waste. Now let’s look at these two verses again and place a more correct translation of the word sheidim.
יִזְבְּחוּ לַשֵּׁדִים לֹא אֱלֹהַ אֱלֹהִים לֹא יְדָעוּם | חֲדָשִׁים מִקָּרֹב בָּאוּ לֹא שְׂעָרוּם אֲבֹתֵיכֶם
They sacrificed to wastes, a non-divinity, gods they did not know, new ones that come lately whom their fathers did not fear. (My translation)
Verse 21, I believe, supports this translation:
They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities (KJV)
קִנְאוּנִי בְלֹא אֵל כִּעֲסוּנִי בְּהַבְלֵיהֶם
The made me jealous by a non-divinity, they angered me with their vanities. (My translation)
Psalm 106:37 shows this to be accurate, as they sacrificed even their children to these idols which are not a living deity; let’s look at the whole context, which will make this as clear as the nose on your face:
They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works and went a whoring with their own inventions. Psalm 106:34-39 (KJV)
I dare not say that the Hebrews were capable of giving life to these devils. I would rather hold them to be just what the scripture says, namely: idols of their works and their inventions. In every case where the English translation is devils we now know that this does not mean an independent living entity. Rather it simply means an idol, or specifically a hairy goat idol.
Who Then Is Satan?
Again, using the Hebrew scripture as our guide, we would expect to find Satan from the very beginning. However, in the English translations, the first appearance of Satan is in 1 Chronicles 21.
And Satan stood up against Israel and provoked David to number Israel. 1 Chr. 21:1 (KJV)
This is the first time, according to the English translations, the word satan appears. Here he provokes David to number Israel. This is in violation of God’s command given to Moses; Ex. 30:11-16. Israel was to be numbered not by counting the individual, but by counting the half-shekel given as the atonement money. This incurred God’s wrath:
And God was displeased with this thing; therefore he smote Israel. 1 Chr. 21:7 (KJV)
What is the funny thing is that there is a similar passage in 2 Samuel 24:1, however, there is one major difference:
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. 2 Sam. 24:1 (KJV)
Did you catch it? According to 2 Samuel, it was God Himself who provoked David to number Israel. Notice how the KJV translators misdirect in the translation of the word provoke here. The Hebrew of both verses are identical:
וַיַּעֲמֹד שָׂטָן עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל | וַיָּסֶת אֶת דָּוִיד לִמְנוֹת אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל:
1 Chr. 21:1
וַיֹּסֶף אַף יְהוָה לַחֲרוֹת בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל | וַיָּסֶת אֶת דָּוִד בָּהֶם לֵאמֹר לֵךְ מְנֵה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאֶת יְהוּדָה׃
2 Sam. 24:1
The phrase of both verses is wayaset et david. Here yaset is the imperfect causative of sut meaning to provoke or incite. According to the former, it was Satan who caused the provocation, and in the later, it was God who caused the provocation. Which one is correct?
The answer is in the way the Hebrew scripture portrays God and Satan. It may be a surprise to you, but Satan is not the cause of evil, nor of temptation to evil. Who is? I am glad you asked.
According to the Hebrew scripture, God is the Creator, and there is none besides Him. He created everything, even evil. Let’s look at the proof.
I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:5-7 (KJV)
It is God who sets evil before us:
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil Deuteronomy 30:15 (KJV)
It is God who causes evil in a city:
Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Amos 3:6 (KJV)
Contrary to Christian theology, God is the creator of evil. He uses evil, and temps His servants with evil to see if they will follow Him with all their hearts:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. Deuteronomy 13:1-4 (KJV)
The Hebrew for the word proveth is m’naseh, an intensive active participle of nasah meaning to tempt. This same word is translated tempt in Genisis 22:1:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. Gn 22:1 (KJV)
Here is the Hebrew:
וַיְהִי אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְהָאֱלֹהִים נִסָּה אֶת אַבְרָהָם | וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו אַבְרָהָם וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי׃
לֹא תִשְׁמַע אֶל דִּבְרֵי הַנָּבִיא הַהוּא אוֹ אֶל חוֹלֵם הַחֲלוֹם הַהוּא | כִּי מְנַסֶּה יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם אֶתְכֶם לָדַעַת הֲיִשְׁכֶם אֹהֲבִים אֶת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם בְּכָל לְבַבְכֶם וּבְכָל נַפְשְׁכֶם׃
The difference is in the conjugation. Both are of the piel verb. Gn 22:1 has the perfect form nisah and De. has the participle m’naseh.
God even sends false prophets for His own purpose:
And he said, Hear thou, therefore, the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left. And the LORD said, Who shall persuade Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramothgilead? And one said on this manner, and another said on that manner. And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the LORD, and said, I will persuade him. And the LORD said unto him, Wherewith? And he said, I will go forth, and I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him, and prevail also: go forth and do so. Now, therefore, behold, the LORD hath put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these thy prophets, and the LORD hath spoken evil concerning thee. 1 Kings 22:19-23; 2 Chr. 18:18-22 (KJV)
God even lies to His own prophets at times, testing their obedience:
And the man of God said unto the king, If thou wilt give me half thine house, I will not go in with thee, neither will I eat bread nor drink water in this place: For so was it charged me by the word of the LORD, saying, Eat no bread, nor drink water, nor turn again by the same way that thou camest. So he went another way and returned not by the way that he came to Bethel. Now there dwelt an old prophet in Bethel; and his sons came and told him all the works that the man of God had done that day in Bethel: the words which he had spoken unto the king, them they told also to their father. And their father said unto them, What way went he? For his sons had seen what way the man of God went, which came from Judah. And he said unto his sons, Saddle me the ass. So they saddled him the ass: and he rode thereon, And went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak: and he said unto him, Art thou the man of God that camest from Judah? And he said I am. Then he said unto him, Come home with me, and eat bread. And he said, I may not return with thee, nor go in with thee: neither will I eat bread nor drink water with thee in this place: For it was said to me by the word of the LORD, Thou shalt eat no bread nor drink water there, nor turn again to go by the way that thou camest. He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the LORD, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water. But he lied unto him. So he went back with him, and did eat bread in his house, and drank water. And it came to pass, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came unto the prophet that brought him back: And he cried unto the man of God that came from Judah, saying, Thus saith the LORD, Forasmuch as thou hast disobeyed the mouth of the LORD, and hast not kept the commandment which the LORD thy God commanded thee, But camest back, and hast eaten bread and drunk water in the place, of the which the LORD did say to thee, Eat no bread, and drink no water; thy carcass shall not come unto the sepulcher of thy fathers. And it came to pass after he had eaten bread, and after he had drunk, that he saddled for him the ass, to wit, for the prophet whom he had brought back. And when he was gone, a lion met him by the way, and slew him: and his carcass was cast in the way, and the ass stood by it, the lion also stood by the carcass. 1 Kings 13:8-24 (KJV)
Throughout the Hebrew scripture, you will find that it is God Himself who created evil, and uses the evil as a means of testing and tempting His servants. He sends His angels out as lying spirits, and He sends lying prophets, even to His own prophets. There is no place that hints of an evil angel acting against His authority. On the contrary, the scripture is clear that His angel, and all angels are His, obey His word:
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Ps. 103:20 (KJV)
A better translation of the Hebrew would be:
בָּרֲכוּ יְהוָה מַלְאָכָיו | גִּבֹּרֵי כֹחַ עֹשֵׂי דְבָרוֹ לִשְׁמֹעַ בְּקוֹל דְּבָרוֹ
Bless the Lord His angels, excelling in strength, doing His word, listening to the voice of His words. Ps. 103:20 (my translation)
This leaves no room for angels who could be disobedient.
In the Hebrew text, the first time the word satan is used is in Numbers 22:22, 32. However, the KJV translators hide this point, so the reader would not make the logical connection:
And God’s anger was kindled because he went: and the angel of the LORD stood in the way for an adversary against him. Now he was riding upon his ass, and his two servants were with him. Num. 22:22 KJV
וַיִּחַר אַף אֱלֹהִים כִּי הוֹלֵךְ הוּא וַיִּתְיַצֵּב מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה בַּדֶּרֶךְ לְשָׂטָן לוֹ
וְהוּא רֹכֵב עַל אֲתֹנוֹ וּשְׁנֵי נְעָרָיו עִמּוֹ׃
And God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord set himself in the way as a satan for him. And he was riding on his donkey and two young men were with him. Num. 22:22
And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Wherefore hast thou smitten thine ass these three times? behold, I went out to withstand thee because thy way is perverse before me: Num. 22:32 (KJV)
וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה עַל מָה הִכִּיתָ אֶת אֲתֹנְךָ זֶה שָׁלוֹשׁ רְגָלִים | הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי יָצָאתִי לְשָׂטָן כִּי יָרַט הַדֶּרֶךְ לְנֶגְדִּי
And the angel of the Lord said to him, Why did you strike your donkey these three times? Look, I set myself as a satan because the way is reckless before me. Num 22:32
The translators did not want you to draw the conclusion that even the angel of the Lord is called a satan. There is a good reason for this concealment. Throughout the scriptures, there is only one figure given the title Angel of the Lord, or more precisely, Angel of YHWH.
It is important to keep in mind, that this was written by Moses, while the Israelites yet wondered the wilderness. Why is it so important to note this? Simply because in all the Hebrew Text, there is only one angel who is called Angel of YHWH, and this was the Angel who appeared to Abraham, Hagar, Isaac, Jacob, and to Moses, and who also spoke from the burning bush, as well as the Angel who was sent to lead Israel to Canaan, and to drive out their enemies before them: Gen 16:7; 22:11; 31:11; Ex 3:2; 14:19; 23:20, 23; 32:34; 33:2.
This Angel of YHWH was the first to be identified as satan. What is going to be a shocker to many is that Isaiah says this same Angel is also the Holy Spirit:
I will mention the mercies of YHWH, the praises of YHWH, according to all that YHWH has benefited us, and the great good to the house of Israel, by which He benefited them according to His mercies, and according to the multitude of His loving-kindness. For He said, Surely they are My people, sons that do not lie, and He is their Savior. In all their affliction, He was not a foe; and the Angel of His Presence saved them. In His love and in His pity He redeemed them. And He bore them up and lifted them up all the days of old. But they rebelled and provoked His Holy Spirit, so He was turned to be their enemy; He fought against them. Then His people remembered the days past of Moses and His people, saying, Where is He who brought us up from the sea with the shepherd of His flock. Where is He who put His Holy Spirit within him; who led them by Moses’ right hand, with His glorious arm, dividing the water before them, to make for Him an everlasting name? He led them through the deeps; like the horse in the wilderness, they did not stumble. As the cattle go down into the valley, so the Spirit of YHWH caused him to rest; so You led Your people, to make a glorious name for Yourself. Is 62:7-14
The Angel of YHWH is only known as Satan, when he acts as an opponent to the unrighteous, or as a tester, tempter to the faithful. Even though these are the Holy Spirit’s duties, he in no way is disobedient to God in any way shape or form.
According to the Hebrew Scriptures, satan is merely a title, along with other titles of the same angelic figure. This angel is called, Mal’akh YHWH (the Angel of the Lord) Ex 3:2; Mal’akh Panav (The Angel of His Presence/Face) Is 63:9; Panai (My Presence/Face) Ex 23:20, 33:2, 14; Penu’el (The Face of God) Gen 32:20; Peli (Wonderful) Jg 13:18; Eimaty (My Fear) Ex 23:27; Ruchakha HaTov (Your Good Spirit) Neh. 9:20, Ruach HaQadosh (Holy Spirit) Is 63:10; and also as satan (adversary) Num 22:22, 32; 1 Chr 21:1
All these titles represent the same angelic figure. For those who are obedient to God, he is the Good Spirit, who instructs them in the ways of God Ex 23:20-23; Neh 9:20, but for the disobedient, he becomes their enemy and fights against them Ex 23:21; Is 63:10.
There is no place in all the Hebrew Scriptures which supports the idea that satan acted independently of God’s authority. Nor will you find anything which would lend support to the idea that satan is some rebellious angel, who waged war in heaven, trying to supplant God. The concept of an independent evil spirit is foreign to the Hebrew scripture and the theology of Israel.