What the Heck is Satan?
Satan who or what is it and why all the confusion?
First off, we must let the Old Testament interpret the New Testament and not the other way around. The New Testament affirms its obligation to the Old Testament in the book of Matthew. It is the genealogy of Yeshua that is displayed, in Matthew’s gospel, by a look back over Old Testament passages.
The first testament went by the Hebrew language while the second testament goes by the Greek. When one language is interpreted into another, there can be a barrier on its meaning. When the term satanas in Greek or sawtawn in Hebrew is used, it means one and the same which is an adversary.
The word satan in the Hebrew is ha sawtawn or the satan, and is properly translated as opposer or adversary. Anytime the word “satan” is used it should have the word “the” beside it at all times. The only way to agree with the Hebrew is to let the word say what it means.
With the Hebrew language displaying the word “the” beside satan, as in “the satan,” would that then confirm that it is not speaking of a noun. Have you ever heard someone call someone else “the John” or “the Susan” when voicing out their name?
I would not think so either. In fact, I would feel insulted if someone used the word “the” beside my name. So, “the fact sawtawn is preceded by ‘ha,’ which means ‘the,’ shows us that it is a common noun, and refers to a title of someone or something and not a proper noun that would indicate the name of someone or something.”1
Common Noun and Proper Noun
Many of us already know what a noun is. Nouns are words that give a name for people, places, thing or ideas, and there are even many different types of nouns. A proper noun uses a capital letter when naming specific things, ideas, places and or people. When it comes to a common noun, it also gives the name of things, ideas, places, and people, such as men, kitten, town and sandal, but they are not seen as specific as the proper noun is.
Proper hermeneutics “…is the science and art of understanding, translating, and explaining the meaning of the Scripture text,”2 to determine what the original audience understood a passage of Scripture to mean. Since a word tends to change its meaning over time, it is appropriate to know the time frame of the letter. By knowing the date, we then would know what vocabulary was being used at the time.
Who is the bogeyman?
A bogeyman is said to be a legendary ghost-like monster. The bogeyman, within Christianity and religious circles, is said to be Satan. This Satan is looked at as a proper noun instead of a common noun, which is what makes this bogeyman out to be scary.
Not only do most religions, within Christianity, has a Satan, that goes by a proper noun, but they also have demons who are said to submit to this Satan. Furthermore, Satan is said to go by other names such as Lucifer, the devil, the dragon, the beast, the antichrist, the serpent, the anointed cherub and maybe even others. However, the other names the Satan, in Christianity, is said to go by could easily be seen as a common noun other than for Lucifer, which was a mistranslation from the Latin “the morning Star” which turns it into a common noun.
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers has this to say about Lucifer:
If we were brave enough to read the Bible, we could understand what devil and demons really are. Such as in Leviticus or Deuteronomy these devils and demons, taught within Christian circles, are none other than man-made hairy goat-idols.4
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible has this to share about devils:
Devils – The word in the original is the “shaggy goat” of Leviticus 4:23. But it is sometimes employed, as here, to denote an object of pagan worship or a demon dwelling in the deserts 2 Chronicles 11:15; Isaiah 13:21; Isaiah 34:14. The worship of the goat, accompanied by the foulest rites, prevailed in Lower Egypt; and the Israelites may have been led into this snare while they dwelt in Egypt.
Did Israel believe in Devils and Demons?
For Israel, during the early days of their establishment, under the covenant with Abraham, and later broken off into twelve tribes through the sons of Jacob, it was known that they did not believe in demons or other gods. Yahweh even declared to Israel, in Isaiah 45:5, Deut. 4:35, Ex. 9:14, Isaiah 43:10 and many others, that there is no other god and never has there been.
The only way for Israel, which is the sons of Jacob broken off into twelve tribes, to have ever given regard to devils and demons as gods, the way most in Christian circles believe these days, is when they were in bondage being influenced by pagan worship by other nations.
E-book pg. 279 chapter 10 in “Satan: Christianity’s Other God” by James R. Brayshaw
7 Principles of Biblical Interpretation By Wayne McDill
introduction in “Satan: Christianity’s Other God” by James R. Brayshaw