Jews believe there is The Satan, but we do not believe there is The Devil.


IN SHORT... For Jews, anything that even remotely conflicts with the idea that Gd is One and Indivisible will be rejected out of hand because it precludes true pure monotheism. The idea that there is a Gd in heaven above who fights against a god of the underworld, or of hell, is not monotheism. It is, however, the same duality found in other pagan faiths. The Bible speaks of a character known as The Satan, who acts like a prosecuting attorney, or a district attorney, in Gd's court. However, The Satan has no power or authority in and of himself, rather he must get permission from the Judge, Gd, to do anything.

A MORE COMPLETE EXPLANATION...

For Jews, anything that even remotely conflicts with the idea that Gd is One and Indivisible will be rejected out of hand because it precludes true pure monotheism. The idea that there is a Gd in heaven above who fights against a god of the underworld, or of hell, or a Good Gd who is in eternal opposition to an Evil Gd, is not monotheism. Other faiths had this same duality:

Greek: Zeus/Hades

Roman: Jupiter/Pluto

Norse: Odin/Loki

Mesopotamia: Marduk/Tiamat

Zoroastrian: Ahura Mazda/Angra Mainyu

Christian: Gd/Devil

This duality is expressed in the Christians' New Testament in two places. In Luke it states,

And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. [Luke 10:18]

And this is also found in Revelation:

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. [Revelation 12:9]

Gd in heaven, according to Christian theology, cast out the devil, where he became the master and tempter of human beings, fighting against Gd over human souls. Christians will refer to a passage which they misunderstand, claiming it shows this idea to be in the Jewish Scriptures, too. In Isaiah it states:

That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! The Etrnl hath broken the staff of the wicked, and the sceptre of the rulers. He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hindereth. The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing. Yea, the fir trees rejoice at thee, and the cedars of Lebanon, saying, Since thou art laid down, no feller is come up against us. Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of Gd: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [Isaiah 14:4-14]

Please note that the biblical text itself states that this is all about the King of Babylon, who had raised himself up to be like Gd -- another example of the pagan confusion between Gd and man. (Please see Essay #8, 'Gd does not become Human, and Humans do not become Gd.' The text also compares the King of Babylon to Lucifer, who fell from the sky. 'Lucifer' is Latin for 'light-bearer,' and is the name given to Venus, the Morning Star. This term, 'light-bearer,' is used exactly in this way in 2 Peter 1:19, without any association of it to the devil. The biblical text above from Isaiah is saying that the King of Babylon had achieved greatness as a ruler, but just like a falling star, he was brought low by Gd for his arrogance.

Now, of course, the Hebrew Scriptures tell of a character called The Satan. Every time the term is used in the Hebrew Scriptures, it reads, HaSaTaN, which means THE Satan. When the definite article, 'the,' is in front of a word it indicates a title, like 'the rabbi,' or 'the reverend.' So, in the Bible, the term 'HaSatan,' which means, 'The Satan,' is a title. The one with that title has a specific job, the same way it is used in speaking of 'the rabbi,' or of 'the reverend.'

The concept of The Satan, or the job description, is radically different from that of the devil. For Christians, who erroneously use the two terms as if they are synonymous, the devil has power and authority in and of himself. However, in the Bible, The Satan only has power granted by Gd, and has no authority in and of himself. For the devil to have power and authority is to have more than one Gd, as we saw above concerning the Greeks and the Romans.

The Satan is described in only a few places in the Hebrew Scriptures. In every instance, he is an angel who works FOR Gd, not against Gd, and must get permission from Gd for everything that he does. Chronicles, Job, Psalms, and Zechariah are the only places where The Satan is mentioned. In each instance, the job description of The Satan is to act like what we now call a Prosecuting Attorney, or District Attorney, and accuse and show evidence against the defendant. Furthermore, like a D.A., The Satan must obtain permission from Gd, the Judge, to begin a sting operation.

In the following quotation from the Book of Job, please take note of who is doing the talking, as The Satan asks Gd for permission to conduct a 'sting operation' against Job:

And the Etrnl said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth Gd, and escheweth evil? and still he holdeth fast his integrity, although thou movedst me against him, to destroy him without cause. And Satan answered the Etrnl, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the Etrnl said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life. [Job 2:3-6]

In the above verses, The Satan must get permission from Gd to perform this sting operation on Job. The Satan has no power or authority of his own, just like a District Attorney who must also obtain permission from The Judge for anything he does.

Furthermore, the biblical text paints this same picture of The Satan, when it uses the character of The Satan in what appears to be the end of a court scene. In the following two quotations, The Satan is standing near the accused like the D.A. stands at the end of a court drama on television. In the verses from Zechariah, Gd is siding with the defense against The Satan, on behalf of Joshua the high priest. Joshua had been sent into exile where he paid for his sins, and now purified like a brand plucked out of a fire, Gd allowed him to return to Jerusalem against the wishes of The Satan:

And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Etrnl, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Etrnl said unto Satan, 'The Etrnl rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Etrnl that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?' [Zechariah 3:1-2]

Set thou a wicked man over him, and let Satan stand at his right hand. When he shall be judged, let him be condemned, and let his prayer become sin. [Psalm 109:6-7]

As we see from Psalm 109 above, the Satan again is like the District Attorney who prosecutes the wicked man.

In the Bible there is also a verse which show that it is Gd, the Creator and Ruler of the whole universe, who is responsible for both the Good and the Bad, and not a devil or Gd of the underworld:

I am the Etrnl, and there is none else, there is no Gd beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Etrnl, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Etrnl do all these things. [Isaiah 45:5-7]

For Gd, the Bible, and for Judaism, to have an entity that competes with Gd, that has power and authority of his own in opposition to Gd, is to violate the basic biblical idea of monotheism. Gd is One.

Questions? Email Rabbi Stuart Federow

Copyright held by Rabbi Stuart Federow 2012.
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Jews Believe That:

One person cannot die for the sins of another.

A blood sacrifice is not required for forgiveness of sins.

Jesus was not the messiah.

Gd hates human sacrifices.

People are born pure and without original sin.

Gd is one and indivisible.

There is Satan, but not The Devil.

Gd does not become human and humans do not become Gd.

"Jews for Jesus," "Messianic Jews," and "Hebrew Christians" are not Jews.

About the "Jewish roots" of Christianity

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