You are on page 1of 9

Satan

Job_1:7-12
We now come to the question on which we have
already touched, and expressly reserved for
separate consideration. This has regard to
Satan, whose appearance by name here, as the
chief of mans spiritual enemies, in accordance
with the views which, it is alleged, are
developed in the later, but not in the earlier
books of Scripture, has been urged as the chief
objection to the early date of the book; and,
indeed, as rendering it impossible that it could
have been composed before the Babylonish
exile, during which, it is contended, the
Hebrews first acquired those distinct views
respecting Satan which we have indicated. If it
were admitted that the knowledge of the nature
and attributes of the evil one was attained only
at a period so late, the difficulty would be fully
as great as is stated. It assumes, in fact, that
what the Hebrews eventually knew of Satan
they learned from the Persians, who became

their masters by the acquisition of the


Babylonish empire; or, in short, that the
Hebrew doctrine of Satan is borrowed from the
Persian doctrine of Ahriman, the evil principle.
Now, before proceeding further, we may ask the
pious reader how he likes this ideaof the
people chosen of God from among the nations
of the world, borrowing part of their religion, a
part sanctioned by the prophets, by the
apostles, and by Christ himself, from the
heathen; of a people enlightened by a revelation
directly from God, having a very important and
almost essential part of it left out, to be in a
later age supplied by instruction from a people
who had no revelation, and whose religion was
but a cunningly devised fable, with only so
much truth in it as might have been derived
from those traditions of primitive truth, of those
primeval revelations of which all the
descendants of Noah partook, and of which the
seed of Abraham, apart from their special
revelations, inherited as large a share, at least,
as any other people. The notion seems to us no

less absurd than shocking; the point in question


being not a mere rite or ceremony, but a
religious doctrine of serious importance, which
the nation instructed of God were not likely to
be left to learn from any people. And, further, if
they had to learn it from others, they need not
have waited until the captivity; for they could,
ages before, have learned more in this matter
than the Magians could teach from the
Egyptians, whose evil being, Typhon, bore more
likeness to the Satan of Scripture, than did the
Ahriman of the Magian theology. In fact, there
is a most essential difference between this
Ahriman and Satan, which ought alone to
preclude the idea of imitation. Satan is a
creature, a fallen creature, powerless for more
evil than the Lord, for eventual good, may, as in
the case of Job, permit. But Ahriman is not an
evil creature but an evil principle, a co-ordinate
power with the good principle Ormuzd; an evil
god, waging a not unequal warfare with the
good god, though destined to final defeat and
overthrow. This is not only averse from, but

abhorrent to, the Scripture idea of Satan;


indeed, so much so, that a plain protest against
it is recorded long before the captivity, in the
name of the Lord, by Isaiah, who, in his
magnificent and extraordinary prophecy
respecting Cyrus, King of Persia, a hundred
years before he was born, declares to him, I
form the light, and create darkness; I make
peace, and create evil. I, the Lord, do all these
things. A passage which, among other things,
shows that the doctrine which they are alleged
to have borrowed from the Persians during
their captivity, was not only essentially different
from theirs, but that it was known to them
historically as a Persian doctrine, and was, as
such, abhorred by them and protested against
long before the captivity.
This difference between the evil one of Scripture
and him of the eastern mythology, is of very
essential importance; and the comparison
which is inculcated by the allegation to which
we have referred, will, if closely pressed, lead us
to exactly the opposite conclusion to that for

which it is advanced. If the Jews borrowed from


the Chaldeans during the captivity certain ideas
respecting the enemy of mankind, which, as is
urged, are to be found in their writings; then the
fact that the ideas which are developed in the
Book of Job, are altogether different from those
which might have been so acquired, becomes a
strong argument for the early antiquity of the
book, and if we attempt to form a conception of
such a being at all, what possible difference can
be greater than between that view which makes
him co-ordinate, if not co-eval, with God, and
the immediate and proper author of the actions
he is represented as performing, and that which
makes him a real though unwilling and
rebellious bond-slave to the behests of the Most
High, with a will most powerful for evil, but
ever restrained, curbed, and controlled, in the
exercise of that will, by the strong chain of
inevitable subservience to the will and designs
of the Almighty? There is nothing in common in
the attributes or even in the character of the evil
ones of the Chaldeans and of the Jews.

But as thus there is no identity of character, so


is there no identity of name. And this is an
important consideration, when it is found that
so much stress is laid upon the first occurrence
of Satan by name in the present book. If the
ideas of the Jews respecting this being were
manifestly derived from the Chaldeans, how is
it that they did not take the name as well as the
character? Yet no one has urged that the name
Satan was derived from the Magian religion,
which possessed a very different name for the
evil one. If it be urged, as it is urged, that the
Jews did not previously know the name or
character of the evil being, what evidence is
given of their then coming to know it, in a book
which, in fact, gives him no name? for here, in
the Book of Job, Satan is not a name at all, but
an appellative with the article prefixedthe
Adversary.
We are not disposed to deny or to affirm that
the Jews may have picked up certain notions
respecting the devil from the Magian religion
during the captivity; for that is utterly beside

the question. Nearly all the Old Testament was


written before the captivity; and our business is
not with the notions of the Jews, but with what
the Scripture teaches. That, and not the
opinions of the Jews, is to be our guide. The
notions entertained by the Jews are often
enough condemned in Scripture; and we should
as little care to be responsible for their opinions
about Satan after the captivity, as for their
opinions about the golden calf in earlier times.
All this is nothing to us. The Scripture view is
consistent in itself, and we do not see that it is
different in the books written after the captivity
from those written before.
It is clear that the doctrine concerning the evil
spirit which this book contains, existed from the
earliest times among the Hebrews; and the
belief in such an evil spirit must surely have
been prevalent, to explain in any tolerable way
the history of the Fall. Indeed, in the narrative
of that event the doctrine involved clearly
appears, although the word in the sense in
question does not appearI will put enmity

between thee and the woman, etc., which


virtually constituted the tempter an enemy; a
term synonymous with Satan, and occasionally
used in the same sense. In the instance already
referred to, Note: 1Ki_22:22-23. exactly the
same view of his character appears historically
in the time of Ahab. The word Satan is of very
early occurrence in the sense of an adversary in
war, or of one who in any way opposes or
accuses another; Note: See particularly
Num_22:22. and it was, therefore, natural to
transfer this word to mans great adversary. In
Zec_3:1-2, the name Satan is used in the same
sense as in Job, to denote the great adversary of
Gods people appearing before him. Here Satan
is introduced as one whose name and character
are well known. We do not lay stress on this for
antiquity, seeing that it was after the captivity;
nor on 1Ch_21:1 (which is in the very same
predicament): but it is important to note the
correspondence with what by this time we may
assume as the earlier books, as showing that the
Hebrew theology had not in this matter

anything to learn from the mythology of the


East.