Sheilot uTshuvot

(Questions and Answers)

Ask Torah Teacher Ariel

(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)

QUESTION 17:

A young Jewish friend told me that Jews (not messianic believers) do not believe in a being called Satan or The Devil. Can anyone tell me more please?

ANSWER:

To a certain extent, this is true; Jews dont espouse to the idea of a person called Satan". Rather, they hold to the concept of personification of evil which many refer to as Satan". Perhaps it would help to clarify the issue if you knew that the word Satan is from the Hebrew word sah-tan (say saw-tawn). This word is easily translated into adversary, that is, one who opposes. But the opposition is always of that which is for the good. Likewise Satan is portrayed as opposing all that which is good, hence, Judaisms concept of the word. This created angelic being figures much in the Talmud, the great rabbinical commentary to the Torah. Satan the Yetzer HaRa (evil inclination) and the Angel of Death are all one (B.B. 16a). It indicates that the prompting to evil is rather a force within the individual than an influence from without. It also explains why HaShem permits Satan to be active and does not destroy him. Judaism explains that he is only able to be in one place at a time, so that he must have emissaries (other fallen angels) do his bidding. The Talmud goes on to suggest that Satan performs three functions: he seduces men, he accuses them before HaShem, and he inflicts the punishment of death (Ibid.). Apart from the Talmud, the TaNaKH and the New Covenant Scriptures take for granted the existence of a supernatural realm of good, obedient angels who serve HaShem and evil, rebellious ones (demons) who serve the Adversary. A few references for your further study: Genesis 3 (serpent as adversary to tempt Adam and Eve); Isaiah 14:11-15 (King of Babylon as a fallen creature of power and beauty, who lets pride and rebellion overtake him); Ezekiel 28:11-19 (similar example); Job 1-2 (explicit in showing Satan as opponent of both HaShem and man); Matthew 4:1-11 (personal opponent and tempter of Yeshua prior to his public ministry); Revelation 12:9 (the ancient serpent, also known as the Devil and Satan [Heb: Adversary]).

Torah Teacher Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy