The Origins and Existence of Satan

Part 2

In a prior working paper I wrote about a variety of questions raised when looking at the being of Satan. Some of what I’ll write today may undo some of what was written but the questions we need to ask is what does the text actually say about Satan in the original texts and what can we gather as we continue to study this topic.

We have to start with observing the word “Seraph, Seraphim” in the languages and the ancient texts. The burning effect you have when being bitten by a snake is the closest thing we can relate to when we see people attempt to translate this word into “burning ones” because no where in ancient texts does it refer to such a thing. Though it’s been popularized as such it doesn’t withstand back testing in linguistics. A notable relation though is the Babylonian relationship it COULD hold with Assyrian "sharrapu". This would give more context to what Seraphim actually means which is “snake, serpent” and gives us a bridge to work with. Among many peoples of antiquity serpents played an important part in myth and folk-lore. For instance, there were Tiamat in the Babylonian legend of the Creation, and the Uræus serpent in Egypt.

Consequently, since the Jews shared the superstitious ideas of surrounding nations in other respects, it should not be a matter of wonder if they adopted this notion as well. That the serpent filled a special rôle among them as a demoniacal being may be seen from the story of Adam's fall (Gen. iii.). In this connection the names "Dragon Spring" and "Serpent Pool" (places in the vicinity of Jerusalem) are worthy of being noted. A brazen serpent brings relief from the effects of the bite of the fiery serpents (Num. xxi. 9 et seq.) which Yhwh sent among his disobedient people in the wilderness. Isaiah (xiv. 29, xxx. 6) speaks of fiery, flying serpents and dragons; and a brazen serpent, Nehushtan, stood in the Temple at Jerusalem, and was an object of worship until the time of Hezekiah, who destroyed it as being idolatrous (II Kings xviii. 4 et seq.).

The worship of Nehushtan was plainly a remnant of ancient superstition, and was reconciled with the worship of Yhwh by connecting Nehushtan with the scourge of snakes in the wilderness and the rescue from them (Num. xxi. 9 et seq.). Therefore the theory seems possible, even probable, that the seraphim have their counterpart in the flying serpents of Isaiah (comp. also II Esd. xv. 29). It is only natural that these winged guardians of Yhwh's throne were soon ranked as higher beings and invested with the human form or with some features of the human body; and it was because of the very fact that they were adopted into the Yhwh cult that they were, in process of time, ennobled and spiritualized.

(To be fair, seraph, as a verb can mean “to burn” but still means “venom based burn” not a mystical burning one)

So, Isaiah 14 allows us to see a connection with Genesis 3 in a connection most may miss while reading through the Ancient story. We see a heavenly being in Genesis disguise itself in order to get the humans to obtain power from God instead of obeying God. The same vision is occurring in Isaiah we see the Serpent rise and attempt to rise above God but ultimately fail.

This is setup when we see the serpent in the garden trying to deceive (and successfully doing so) the humans into betraying God and the plan that God had going within the garden at the time. This character in Scripture appears many times, many ways and has even developed a persona of sorts that may or may not be biblical. One of the names is Lucifer. The enemy is given images and symbols but never a proper name even though we’ve adopted one for them. Cherib, Seraph, Snake and many others are referenced and associated to the “enemy”. In the New Testament “diabolos” is used for both referencing the enemy and also, unironically, those who spread gossip in the church. It’s a title, humans can be the devil just as much as… “the Devil” or Lucifer.

Lucifer occurs no where in the Hebrew or Greek bible, not once. In Isaiah the Ruler of Babylon and the dominion he is under is clearly something that should be taken into account. The ruler of Babylon was like “the son of the dawn” - the last star that hangs on the longest in the morning sky is Venus (to us). In true Old Testament form Isaiah enters into the Caananite culture and ties it together with the Genesis 3 story. The enemy who wants to ascend to God’s throne and rule in His place. This enemy or the concept of such an enemy has been around for many centuries and millenia but if we fast forward to after the time of Jesus the Hebrew and the Greek bibles are being translated into Latin.

When Latin translators was translating “son of dawn” they translated it as “Luciferous” which means… “venus” or “the morning star”. In later church history as theology developed, the Latin translation became a proper name, though incorrectly. There isn’t a moment in Scripture where the word “Satan” is used and it does not contain the word “the” in front of it when referring to the Spiritual enemy. This should jolt you if you’re truly grasping it because our culture has deemed the satan as a proper person, a singular being who is Satan, Lucifer and so forth.

In biblical Hebrew the noun “satan” refers to many more things than the spiritual enemy. There are three different satans in the book of 1 Kings chapter 11. The word “the” is not used which is also interesting. The angel of the LORD is also called satan “stands as one opposed”. This is important because the Bible does define it as “the satan” which separates it from the others but to give it a proper name is to define its substantial worth in a sense. Instead the Biblical authors define it as the Spiritual one who stands against - not necessarily a single being but maybe.

John, deep in Revelation, uses a variety of images and titles but brings them all together “the diabolos” then described as a dragon and then a snake all in one breath. The satan, the great dragon, the snake and so forth is all referred to in Revelation because John understands that “satan” is a being of a multi-facetted realm where we cannot conceive which is why throughout history it has been described as MANY things not just one thing.

(Working paper)