Zechariah 3:1-10, The Satan is normally a specific adversary, the diabolos Devil. (5/13/13)
The Big Lie – A Biblical word study on the Devil
The Hebrew word satan is translated various ways.
Zechariah 3:1-10, The Satan is normally a specific adversary, the diabolos Devil.
Job 1:1-12, 2:1-7
Esther 7:1-8, 8:1-8, Occasionally the Greek OT translates other words with diabolos, too.
1 Chronicles 21:1-13; 2 Samuel 24:1-4, Once only, a satan is translated into English as Satan.
Psalms 109:1-20, Occasionally we see something else entirely.
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Throughout this study, I will give you the Hebrew or Greek word that we’re looking at (or sometimes both) in bold italics, right before the English word.
What’s the difference between a white house and the White House? Right. It’s that little word “the” that comes before. Hebrew and Greek are both like English in that – normally – the
designates a specific, previously mentioned specimen of a whole group of similar items.
Last week, we saw that A satan
is an adversary. This week we see that – again, normally – The Satan
in Hebrew is a specific adversary, and it’s beginning to look like the specific adversary that’s being referred to in the Old Testament books of Zechariah and Job is the Devil. The Septuagint translates the satan
into the diabolos
. Probably most of the translations that you are reading just have “Satan,” but the Hebrew and Greek have “the
Satan,” and you can actually see this in our reading from the Bible in Basic English. But keep in mind that the
Satan still has the character of an adversary.
From the Bible in Basic English:
1 And he let me see Joshua, the high priest, in his place before the angel of the Lord, and the satan diabolos Satan at his right hand ready to take up a cause against him.
Job 1:1-12, 2:1-7, The Satan is normally a specific adversary, the diabolos Devil. (5/14/13)
Diabolos false accuser, devil, slanderer
2 And the Lord said to the satan diabolos Satan, May the Lord's word be sharp against you, O satan diabolos Satan, the word of the Lord who has taken Jerusalem for himself: is this not a burning branch pulled out of the fire?
3 Now Joshua was clothed in unclean robes, and he was in his place before the angel.
4-5 And he made answer and said to those who were there before him, Take the unclean robes off him, and let him be clothed in clean robes; And let them put a clean head-dress on his head. So they put a clean head-dress on his head, clothing him with clean robes: and to him he said, See, I have taken your sin away from you.
occurs 20 times in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and 13 of those are in the book of Job. In every case in Job, diabolos
is used to translate the Hebrew word satan adversary
. Job is a fairly late book, as OT books go, and by this time there seems to have been a fairly strong conviction in the writer’s mind that the
Satan was a specific trouble-maker. You need to keep this connection between satan
in mind when we get to the New Testament. In Job we see the Satan acting true to type: he uses
the truth that Job fears God, but he doesn’t tell
the truth. He slanders Job by saying that he will curse God at the first sign of trouble, and then he proceeds to make trouble.
By the way, I’m not sure why the BBE has “sons of the gods” in vss. 1:6 and 2:1. Mercifully
I’m going to spare you a long technical explanation; however, what it boils down to is that I think they are just mistaken. The BBE is the only translation I looked at that doesn’t have “sons of God.” The Greek OT has “angels of God.” Have I mentioned lately that you need to read more than one translation?
From the Bible in Basic English:
1:1-3 There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job. He was without sin and upright, fearing God and keeping himself far from evil. And he had seven sons and three daughters. And of cattle he had seven thousand sheep and goats, and three thousand camels, and a thousand oxen, and five hundred she-asses, and a very great number of servants. And the man was greater than any of the sons of the east.
Esther 7:1-8, 8:1-8, Occasionally the Greek OT translates other words with diabolos, too. (5/15/13)
4-5 His sons regularly went to one another's houses, and every one on his day gave a feast: and at these times they sent for their three sisters to take part in their feasts with them. And at the end of their days of feasting, Job sent and made them clean, getting up early in the morning and offering burned offerings for them all. For, Job said, It may be that my sons have done wrong and said evil of God in their hearts. And Job did this whenever the feasts came round.
6 And there was a day when the sons of the gods came together before the Lord, and the satan diabolos Satan came with them.
7 And the Lord said to the satan diabolos Satan, Where do you come from? And the satan diabolos Satan said in answer, From wandering this way and that on the earth, and walking about on it.
8 And the Lord said to the satan Satan, Have you taken note of my servant Job, for there is no one like him on the earth, a man without sin and upright, fearing God and keeping himself far from evil?
9-11 And the satan diabolos Satan said in answer to the Lord, Is it for nothing that Job is a god-fearing man? Have you yourself not put a wall round him and his house and all he has on every side, blessing the work of his hands, and increasing his cattle in the land? But now, put out your hand against all he has, and he will be cursing you to your face.
12 And the Lord said to the satan diabolos Satan, See, I give all he has into your hands, only do not put a finger on the man himself. And the satan diabolos Satan went out from before the Lord.
[Bad things happen to Job’s family.]
2:1 And there was a day when the sons of the gods came together before the Lord, and the satan diabolos Satan came with them.
2 And the Lord said to the satan diabolos Satan, Where do you come from? And the satan diabolos Satan said in answer, From wandering this way and that on the earth, and walking about on it.
3 And the Lord said to the satan diabolos Satan, Have you taken note of my servant Job, for there is no one like him on the earth, a man without sin and upright, fearing God and keeping himself far from evil? and he still keeps his righteousness, though you have been moving me to send destruction on him without cause.
4-5 And the satan diabolos Satan said in answer to the Lord, Skin for skin, all a man has he will give for his life. But now, if you only put your hand on his bone and his flesh, he will certainly be cursing you to your face.
6 And the Lord said to the satan diabolos Satan, See, he is in your hands, only do not take his life.
7 And the satan diabolos Satan went out from before the Lord, and sent on Job an evil disease covering his skin from his feet to the top of his head.
Sixteen of the 20 uses of diabolos
in the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek Old Testament, are satan
in the original Hebrew. But the rabbis who translated the Bible around 300 BC used diabolos
another way, too – to translate tsar
, both of which can mean adversary/enemy,
If you look at several different translations, you’ll see both meanings used in 7:4. Verse 8:4 is talking specifically about Haman, the villain of the book of Esther, so probably almost all translations go with the meaning adversary, enemy
. The BBE uses hater
, as we see below.
It may be worth noting that we get the diabolos
both times in the Greek. It has been said many a time that the
Satan or the
devil in the Bible is the one and only Devil, and that doesn’t appear to be true. Haman was a bad guy, but he wasn’t the devil – a distinction that is worth making about our own enemies, my brothers and sisters.
From the Bible in Basic English:
7:1 So the king and Haman came to take wine with Esther the queen.
1 Chronicles 21:1-13; 2 Samuel 24:1-4, Once only, a satan is translated into English as Satan. (5/16/13)
2 And the king said to Esther again on the second day, while they were drinking, What is your prayer, Queen Esther? for it will be given to you; and what is your request? for it will be done, even to the half of my kingdom.
3-4 Then Esther the queen, answering, said, If I have your approval, O king, and if it is the king's pleasure, let my life be given to me in answer to my prayer, and my people at my request: For we are given up, I and my people, to destruction and death and to be cut off. If we had been taken as men-servants and women-servants for a price, I would have said nothing, for our tsar diabolos trouble is little in comparison with the king's loss.
5 Then King Ahasuerus said to Esther the queen, Who is he and where is he who has had this evil thought in his heart?
6 And Esther said, Our hater and attacker is this evil Haman. Then Haman was full of fear before the king and the queen.
7 And the king in his wrath got up from the feast and went into the garden: and Haman got to his feet to make a prayer for his life to Esther the queen: for he saw that the king's purpose was evil against him.
8 Then the king came back from the garden into the room where they had been drinking; and Haman was stretched out on the seat where Esther was. Then the king said, Is he taking the queen by force before my eyes in my house? And while the words were on the king's lips, they put a cloth over Haman's face.
8:1 That day the king gave all the family of Haman, the tsarar diabolos hater of the Jews, to Esther the queen. And Mordecai came before the king, for Esther had made clear what he was to her.
2 And the king took off his ring, which he had taken from Haman, and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther put Mordecai over the family of Haman.
Remember that I said that many people have said that the satan
, which goes into Greek as the diabolos
, always designates the actual Devil, but a satan
is just an adversary. Ooh-kay. There is one case, and one case only, in which a satan
goes into Greek as a diabolos
, but is translated Satan
in every English translation I looked at. Why does 1 Chronicles 21:1 have “Satan,” when the
does not appear in either Hebrew or Greek? Especially when the same story in 2 Samuel doesn’t have either satan or diabolos
, and in fact it doesn’t have any word at all for adversary, enemy, slanderer, tempter, or any other sort of bad guy whatsoever!
This is a mystery to me. My normal advice, as you know, would be to read more than one translation, but this time, all the translations seem to be doing the same odd thing. In a week or two, I hope to have some tables on the website that give you every single occurrence of satan
. That will allow you to do your own comparisons.
From the Bible in Basic English:
1 Chronicles 21:1 Now satan diabolos Satan, designing evil against Israel, put into David's mind the impulse to take the number of Israel.
Psalms 109:1-20, Occasionally we see something else entirely. (5/17/13)
2 And David said to Joab and the captains of the people, Now let all Israel, from Beer-sheba to Dan, be numbered; and give me word so that I may be certain of their number.
3 And Joab said, May the Lord make his people a hundred times more in number than they are; but, my lord king, are they not all my lord's servants? why would my lord have this done? why will he become a cause of sin to Israel?
4-6 But the king's word was stronger than Joab's. So Joab went out and went through all Israel and came to Jerusalem. And Joab gave David the number of all the people; all the men of Israel, able to take up arms, were one million, one hundred thousand men; and those of Judah were four hundred and seventy thousand men, able to take up arms. But Levi and Benjamin were not numbered among them, for Joab was disgusted with the king's order.
7 And God was not pleased with this thing; so he sent punishment on Israel.
2 Samuel 24:1 Again the wrath of the Lord was burning against Israel, and moving David against them, he said, Go, take the number of Israel and Judah.
2 And the king said to Joab and the captains of the army, who were with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan as far as Beer-sheba, and have all the people numbered, so that I may be certain of the number of the people.
3 And Joab said to the king, Whatever the number of the people, may the Lord make it a hundred times as much, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it: but why does my lord the king take pleasure in doing this thing?
4 But the king's order was stronger than Joab and the captains of the army. And Joab and the captains of the army went out from the king, to take the number of the children of Israel.
Yesterday we saw an example of a satan
, not the satan
, that most English translations render Satan.
I thought that was a little odd. Just to show you that it may in fact be
a little odd, here’s another example of a satan
, which most English translations do not
. Instead, they use adversary
(e.g., American Standard, Revised Version), worthless fools to accuse him
(Contemporary English), accuser
(English Standard), enemies
(Good News), or evil man
, as we see below. God’s Word and the King James use Satan.
The context is that David is hoping that his enemy will be judged and have the decision go against him, so that his wife is widowed and his children orphaned. How is Satan going to accomplish all that? I think the idea of and adversary
who personally appears in court is much more suitable than Satan.
But keep that job description of a satan
in mind as we move on to the New Testament.
From the Bible in Basic English:
1 To the chief music-maker. Of David. A Psalm. God of my praise, let my prayer be answered;
More of The Big Lie
The Son of God and the Father of Lies
The OT satan is always an adversary, but not always the Devil.
The Hebrew satan is translated various ways.
In the New Testament, both satanas and diabolos normally refer to the Devil.
Sometimes satanas and diabolos are used figuratively to refer to someone acting like the Devil.
Poneros – Evil in the New Testament
Demons cause sickness, not sin.
Sometimes Satan and demons cooperate with each other.
Neither Baalzebub nor Lucifer is a Biblical name for the Devil.
Belial means "worthless," and once it's used as a nickname for the Devil.
Satan's job description: Temptation and Lies
Our job description: Resist him!
Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
2 For the mouth of the sinner is open against me in deceit: his tongue has said false things against me.
3 Words of hate are round about me; they have made war against me without cause.
4 For my love they give me back hate; but I have given myself to prayer.
5 They have put on me evil for good; hate in exchange for my love.
6 Put an evil man over him; and let satan diabolos one be placed at his right hand to say evil of him.
7 When he is judged, let the decision go against him; and may his prayer become sin.
8 Let his life be short; let another take his position of authority.
9 Let his children have no father, and his wife be made a widow.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
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