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

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter