Job and Satan

I'd never this interpretation of Satan in the book of Job before. According to Tyler over at Codex, the satan in Job is not the same Satan in the NT:

The appearance of “Satan” in virtually all English translations of the book of Job befuddles me since it is very clear that Satan was never in the book of Job to begin with! While almost every English translation of the book of Job will refer to “Satan” in the first couple chapters of the book, there is scholarly consensus that this is certainly not what the Hebrew original is referring to!

In the prose prologue to the book of Job we are introduced to “the satan” (‏השטן‎) who is among the “sons of Elohim” (‏בני האלהים‎) (1:6). It is pretty clear that this passage isn’t referring to “Satan” (i.e., the king of demons) since the Hebrew noun “satan” has a definite article. The biblical text refers to “the satan”, not “Satan.” Personal names in Hebrew (as in English) do not take the definite article. I don’t go around referring to myself as “The Tyler” — and if I did, people would think I was weirder than they already think I am.

In the Hebrew Bible, the noun “satan” (‏שטן‎) occurs 27x in the Hebrew Bible, fourteen of which are found in the first two chapters of the book of Job. Of the remaining thirteen times, seven instances occur with clear reference to a human adversary. Take, for example these passages from the NRSV:

But David said, “What have I to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah, that you should today become an adversary [satan] to me? Shall anyone be put to death in Israel this day? For do I not know that I am this day king over Israel?” (2Sam 19:22)

But now the Lord my God has given me [Solomon] rest on every side; there is neither adversary [satan] nor misfortune (1Kings 5:4).

Then the Lord raised up an adversary [satan] against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite; he was of the royal house in Edom (1Kings 11:14).


Jump over to the post to read more about the subject.

Had you heard of this disparity before? And since we're already talking about black magic this week, do you think we attribute too much of what happens on this earth to Satan or not enough? Other thoughts?

Comments (13)

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Yes, I have heard of this before. It seems to me that there is an evolution of the concept of Satan. It had not yet reached the point where Satan had become a proper noun at the time that Job was collected into the Jewish cannon.

My question is, was Jesus using this generic application of the satan when he said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan!"
I'm about sick of God sending Satan after me, I've had it and he better stop doing that because I've just about had it. 28 Years in a torture room!! Can't you show me an ounce of mercy and let me have a pleasant life the rest of my life, God? Could you be so kind as to do that for me?? And stop scaring me half to death unless it's like a fun thing like a roller coaster or something...thank you tivo!

There is only one Accuser of believers before God himself.

The “Accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night” is “that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan.” It’s pretty straight forward… and doesn’t require a lot of mental or linguistic gymnastics. Just read it. Who else could it be?

After all, how many “Accusers” can appear personally before God in heaven, also roam around the Earth looking for someone to accuse or destroy, and then use various spiritual and supernatural powers to manipulate enemy troops to kill people and pillage property from a particular person, drop lightning or fire from heaven on particular people to kill them, and use a whirlwind (tornado) to blow up a particular house and kill everyone inside it, then cause a terrible disease to strike one targeted person.

Sounds like a malevolent, powerful, supernatural enemy to me, a particular evil personage, not some generic or nameless “accuser”… and clarifying that this “Accuser” in Job is in fact Satan (the Devil, the Great Serpent, the great dragon) doesn’t seem like much of a reach. The transliterations into English are accurate.

All of the Biblical evidence makes it clear who the accuser in Job is. There is nothing “Mysterious” about it at all. And he is a real personage, with real power.
The same person who was the serpent in Eden and the Dragon in Revelations. He is known by many names... but is not simply a generic noun or some kind of "evolving concept".. but a real individual.

1 Peter 5:8
Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour

Chapter 12
9The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.

Chapter 1
6 One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the LORD, and the Accuser, Satan, came with them. 7 “Where have you come from?” the LORD asked Satan. Satan answered the LORD, “I have been patrolling the earth, watching everything that’s going on.”
Chap. 1 All right, you may test him,” the LORD said to Satan. “Do whatever you want with everything he possesses, but don’t harm him physically.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence.
13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger arrived at Job’s home with this news: “Your oxen were plowing, with the donkeys feeding beside them, 15 when the Sabeans raided us. They stole all the animals and killed all the farmhands. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
16 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and burned up your sheep and all the shepherds. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
17 While he was still speaking, a third messenger arrived with this news: “Three bands of Chaldean raiders have stolen your camels and killed your servants. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
18 While he was still speaking, another messenger arrived with this news: “Your sons and daughters were feasting in their oldest brother’s home. 19 Suddenly, a powerful wind swept in from the wilderness and hit the house on all sides. The house collapsed, and all your children are dead. I am the only one who escaped to tell you.”
Chap. 2
So Satan left the LORD’s presence, and he struck Job with terrible boils from head to foot.
Ok, if they're not talking about Satan, then who is the guy he's referring to that is going to make it hard on Job? "The satan" is talking to God, if it's not "Satan" who is it?

Could it not be that this is like referring to "Satan" or "Adversary" as "The Adversary". As opposed to an evolution, perhaps this is his first appearence - "The Adversary" - and hence forth he is referred to as "Adversary".

(while there are many adversaries, there is one ultimate Adversary?).
Is it not incoherent to tell folks "our sins separate us from God" and then have Satan himself talking to God in a collegial way? Sure, God can do _anything_ but if he can powwow with Satan then why not share his house with sinful man?

I therefore suspect this story is allegorical but certainly not historical.
The devil decieves us all and some more than others. This to me by saying that it didn't happen is like saying other things in the bible didn't happen. Now whom would it benefit if we were to believe that what is stated in the bible is not true? You guessed right this time, and hopefully many times again, because he looks for things to bring doubt into your mind and then into your heart. The bible is the true word and works of God, written by men who were guided by our God. In God's Grace John
What many people seem to be unware of is that God is the one who brings up Job, not this satan fellow. God is trying to show what a servant Job is, as opposed to the satan trying to prove that his isn't. The satan isn't doing the accusing here, in fact, he is on the defensive from the get go. This is why I believe the satan was allowed in the courts to begin with, so that God could prove his point.

And does not God send the rain on the just and unjust alike. It sin only ultimately separates one from God at the realization of the eschatological events. I am wary of any allegorical interpretations of the Bible. Not that I don't believe there are such things in the Bible, but writing an entire book as nonhistorical because it is hard to grapple with the theology is a poor reason for such labeling, in my opinion.
This to me by saying that it didn't happen is like saying other things in the bible didn't happen. Now whom would it benefit if we were to believe that what is stated in the bible is not true?

Why does the Bible have to bee 100% correct? Why do Christian people insist the Bible is either 100% factually correct or else useless. Whether Jesus multiplied 2 fish and 5 loaves or 3 fish and 7 loaves has no bearing on the message of the Bible. Neither does a local flood, adam and eve, Jonah in the belly etc. If people are forced to accept 100% of the Bible or nothing there are no prizes for guessing which they're gonna take.
God did show you mercy. God sent His Son to die for your sin, that thing that separates you from Him. God has this "zero tolerance" thing when it comes to the filth of sin and being in His holy presence. The life your living now (80 to 90 years) lasts only for a short time compared to the 90 gazillion years (eternity) you are going to spend after you shuffle off this mortal coil. You have a choice.... to repent, accept Christ as soverign Lord, and have life eternal or refuse Him and have an eternity separated from Him and with "much less" comfortable accommodations. Take time to study His Word (especially John's Gospel and the rest of the New Testament) and you'll hopefully come away with a whole new perspective. The safe sheep are the ones closest to the Shepherd. Get closer!!!
I have no issue with Tyler's (@ Codex) musing, but I wonder what exactly the aim of it is? ...and I'm not sure how the listed usage examples of 'the satan' and a 'satan' supports his argument. I suppose it was THE satan and not just some other 'adversary' that came with the angels before GOD in the Book of Job.


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