Defining Satan

The lexica agree on the point that the noun שָׂטָן in general means “adversary”, or “opponent.”⁶ The [word] can have this role in a number of arenas, including jurisprudence, military, and political. The lexica begin to diverge slightly only on the issue of whether or not שָׂטָן can be used as a proper name.

Frequency. While the lexical data is useful as a starting place, the context in which the word is used should be the first indicator of the meaning. The word occurs 33 times in the Hebrew bible in its various forms,⁷ including 7 forms that are verbal (3 participles, 2 infinitives, and 2 imperfects)⁸.  שָׂטָן is most likely related to שׂטם, which means “to be at enmity with, be hostile towards.”⁹ Two of the 6 uses of שׂטם in the Old Testament are found in Job.¹⁰ This is rather significant because the word refers to God, a point we will expand upon later in our discussion.

The article. The role that the [definite] article plays in usage with שָׂטָן is very important in determining the role of Satan in the Old Testament. Of the 26 occurrences of the noun form, 16 include the attached definite article prefix. Of the 16, 14 include all the occurrences of the noun in Job (1:6, 7 (2x), 8, 9, 12 (2x), 2:1, 2 (2x), 3, 4, 6, 7). The two remaining uses with the article occur in Zechariah 3:2.

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Author: Jared W. Bridges

Keywords: Satanology, Satanas, Demonology, Adversary, Christ tempted, Christ tempted in the wilderness, Christ's temptation, Diabolos, Christ's temptation in the wilderness, Devil, Devil and Jesus, Devil tempts Jesus, Evil angel, Evil Inclination, Evil nature, Evil one, Evil urge, Evil desire, Fallen angel, Good angel, Good nature, Hara Yetser, Ha-ra Yetser, Hara Yetzer, Ha-ra Yetzer, Hara Yezer, Ha-ra Yezer, Heavenly rebellion, Jesus and the devil, Jesus and Satan, Jesus' temptation, Jesus' temptation in the wilderness, Jesus tempted, Jesus tempted by Satan, Jesus tempted by the devil, Jesus tempted in the wilderness, Jesus's temptation, Man's sinful nature, Personification of evil, Rebel angel, Rebellion in heaven, Satan, Satan and Jesus, Satan tempts Christ, Satan tempts Jesus, Seducer, Sin in the flesh, Sin within, Sinful nature, Snatcher, Temptation, Temptation from within, Temptation in the wilderness, Tempted in the wilderness, Tempted of Satan, Tempted of the devil, Tempted sexually, Tempted to do evil, Tempts Christ, Tempts Jesus, The devil tempts Christ, The devil tempts Jesus, The Evil Inclination, The Evil One, Wicked one, Wilderness temptation, Yatsar, Yetsarim, Yetser ha ra, Yetser ha tov, Yetser ra, Yetser tov, Yetzer, Yetzer ha ra, Yetzer ha tov, Yetzer Hara, Yetzer ra, Yetzer tov, Yezer ha ra, Yezer ha tov, Yezer Hara, Yezer tov, Two inclinations, Tempter

Bible reference(s): Num 22:22, Num 22:32, 1Sa 29:4, 2Sa 19:22, 1Ki 5:4, 1Ki 11:14, 1Ki 11:23, 1Ki 11:25, 1Ch 21:1, Job 1:6, Job 1:7, Job 1:8, Job 1:9, Job 1:12, Job 2:1, Job 2:2, Job 2:3, Job 2:4, Job 2:6, Job 2:7, Psa 109:6, Zec 3:1, Zec 3:2, Mat 4:1, Mat 4:5, Mat 4:8, Mat 4:10, Mat 4:11, Mat 12:26, Mat 13:39, Mat 16:23, Mat 25:41, Mar 1:13, Mar 3:23, Mar 3:26, Mar 4:15, Mar 8:33, Luk 4:2, Luk 4:3, Luk 4:5, Luk 4:13, Luk 8:12, Luk 10:18, Luk 11:18, Luk 13:16, Luk 22:3, Luk 22:31, Joh 8:44, Joh 13:2, Joh 13:27, Act 5:3, Act 10:38, Act 13:10, Act 26:18, Rom 16:20, 1Co 5:5, 1Co 7:5, 2Co 2:11, 2Co 11:14, 2Co 12:7, Eph 4:27, Eph 6:11, 1Th 2:18, 2Th 2:9, 1Ti 1:20, 1Ti 3:6, 1Ti 3:7, 1Ti 5:15, 2Ti 2:26, Heb 2:14, Jam 4:7, 1Pe 5:8, 1Jo 3:8, 1Jo 3:10, Jam 1:13-14, Jde 1:9, Rev 2:9, Rev 2:10, Rev 2:13, Rev 2:24, Rev 3:9, Rev 12:9, Rev 12:12, Rev 20:2, Rev 20:7, Rev 20:10, Sirach 21:27

Source: The Role of Satan in the Old Testament, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, December 3, 2002.

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