How the Biblical Satan Became the “Devil”

Although the name Satan comes from a biblical Hebrew word meaning “accuser,” this figure was very different from the leader of the forces of evil found in some post-biblical Jewish texts and in the New Testament. John Gregory Drummond explains:

In the Hebrew Bible, God’s greatest enemies are not fallen angels commanding armies of demons, or even the gods of other nations, but rather human beings. It isn’t the devil that spreads evil across the face of creation—it is mankind. Other than human beings, God has no nemesis, nor are there malevolent spiritual forces not under His authority. He is ultimately a God of justice. He is behind the good and the bad, behind the blessings and the curses. It is within this divine court of justice and retribution that Satan has his origins.

The Hebrew word satan, meaning “accuser” or “adversary,” occurs several times throughout the Hebrew Bible and refers to enemies both human and celestial alike. When referring to the celestial adversary, the word is typically accompanied by the definite article. He is ha-satan—the Accuser—and it is a job description rather than a proper name. From the Accuser’s appearances in the books of Job and Zechariah, it seems that his job entails calling attention to the unworthiness of mankind. The Accuser is essentially the prosecuting attorney of the divine court of God, and part of his job includes collecting evidence to prove his cases. With this bit of knowledge in mind, it isn’t difficult to envision the various “outcries against sin,” such as that against Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20-21), as the voice of the Accuser.

It is [only] by the 1st century CE [that some forms of] Judaism developed a belief in the divine forces of darkness doing battle against the forces of light. This can be seen within the New Testament and other extra-biblical writings such as those found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. There are likely several factors that inspired these developments, including the influence of Persian, as well as Hellenistic, religions.

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Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: ancient Judaism, Christianity, Evil, Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Religion & Holidays, Satan

 

Hizballah Is in Venezuela to Stay

Feb. 21 2019

In a recent interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the presence of Hizballah cells in Venezuela as further evidence of the growing unrest in that country. The Iran-backed group has operated in Venezuela for years, engaging in narcotics trafficking and money laundering to fund its activities in the Middle East, and likely using the country as a base for planning terrorist attacks. If Juan Guaido, now Venezuela’s internationally recognized leader, is able to gain control of the government, he will probably seek to alter this situation. But, writes Colin Clarke, his options may be limited.

A government led by Guaido would almost certainly be more active in opposing Hizballah’s presence on Venezuelan soil, not just nominally but in more aggressively seeking to curtail the group’s criminal network and, by extension, the influence of Iran. As part of a quid pro quo for its support, Washington would likely seek to lean on Guaido to crack down on Iran-linked activities throughout the region.

But there is a major difference between will and capability. . . . Hizballah is backed by a regime in Tehran that provides it with upward of $700 million annually, according to some estimates. Venezuela serves as Iran’s entry point into Latin America, a foothold the Iranians are unlikely to cede without putting up a fight. Moreover, Russia retains a vested interest in propping up [the incumbent] Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro and keeping him in power, given the longstanding relationship between the two countries. . . . Further, after cooperating closely in Syria, Hizballah is now a known quantity to the Kremlin and an organization that President Vladimir Putin could view as an asset that, at the very least, will not interfere with Russia’s designs to extend its influence in the Western hemisphere.

If the Maduro regime is ultimately ousted from power, that will likely have a negative impact on Hizballah in Venezuela. . . . Yet, on balance, Hizballah has deep roots in Venezuela, and completely expelling the group—no matter how high a priority for the Trump administration—remains unlikely. The best-case scenario for Washington could be an ascendant Guaido administration that agrees to combat Hizballah’s influence—if the new government is willing to accept a U.S. presence in the country to begin training Venezuelan forces in the skills necessary to counter terrorism and transnational criminal networks with strong ties to Venezuelan society. But that scenario, of course, is dependent on the United States offering such assistance in the first place.

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More about: Hizballah, Iran, Mike Pompeo, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Venezuela