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The Hebrew Word Satan

Updated on January 13, 2020


When we hear or read the word "satan", we tend to think of it as the personal name of the evil one depicted in the Bible, which it is, but more than a personal name it is a description. It is actually a word used for an adversary of any kind in the Bible.

In return for my love they are my accusers (satan in Hebrew)...

— Psalm 109:44

Gesenius' Lexicon translates "satan" as an adversary or enemy and the New Testament additionally describes the adversarial role of the character of Satan as "the" accuser in the book of Revelation.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.

— Revelation 12:10

How interesting that the one who invites us to wrongdoing is the one who also makes an accusation against us when we do. We see this illustrated as well and described as such in the book of Zechariah when Joshua the High Priest stands before the Lord.

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord , and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

— Zechariah 3:1


The Pictograph Perspective

Biblical Hebrew, the language that the Old Testament was written in, was originally a pictographic one. Each letter was a type of icon representing a concept to be included in understanding the word.

In looking at the word pictograph for Satan, the illustrations it provides are fairly obvious as well as in agreement with these insights. The word consists of three Hebrew letters "Sheen", "Tet", and "Nun".



Sheen, the first letter of "satan", is a picture of teeth and can communicate the idea of devouring, consuming, or destroying.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

— I Peter 5:8

Job gives us an example of this "walking about" and the purpose of it, in a conversation between God and Satan concerning Satan seeking an opportunity and right to the territory of Job's life.

the Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” So Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.”

— Job 1:7

Satan is looking for a legal opportunity and authority to steal, kill, and destroy through an accusation of unrighteousness. He is surveying the land, representing a life, to see if he can gain a right to dwell and have dominion there.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

— John 10:10

Let's contrast this with what God's surveillance is seeking the opportunity to do. After Adam and Eve chose evil we see...

...God walking in the garden in the cool of the day

— Genesis 3:8

We might be tempted to think that God was checking up on them to see if they had done something wrong. Exactly the opposite is true according to II Chronicles

For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him

— II Chronicles 16:9

God is seeking an opportunity to bless!


The second letter of our Hebrew word study is a "tet" and is a picture of something coiled like a serpent and carries the idea of the contrast of distinguishing between good and evil. The snakes forked tongue gives us an image of this in being an instrument of discernment.

but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

— Genesis 2:17

We see a mixture of good and evil in the tree. Discernment comes with the idea of differentiating and distinguishing.

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

— Hebrews 5:14

The biggest lie of the universe is that good and evil can co-exist and that we can experience both without consequence.

You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons.

— I Corinthians 10:21

I have often wondered why the tree was called the "tree of the knowledge of good and evil" Why not just call it evil considering its consequence. I think the key is in God's response to all that He had made when He declared all that He had made good. The tree initially was good like all the others but something had defiled it.

From the mouth of the Most High Go not forth the evils and the good. (YLT)

—Lamentations 3:38

"Sheen" and "tet" the first two letters of "satan" spell "set". "Set" is the name of an Egyptian god who appears to be much like the "satan" of the Bible.

Ancient Egyptians had a god named "Set" who was a god of the desert, storms, disorder, and violence

— Wikipedia

Evening—Mixing Light With Darkness

A word study on the Hebrew word for "evening" (erev) is quite interesting in reference to this and concerns the concept of mixing, interweaving, and interchanging. It is understood by definition that this is what this word actually means. It is thought to come from the idea that evening is when the darkness begins to mix with the light creating confusion and chaos and is metaphoric for things that come from God that are good but mixed with other things. Genesis 1:3-5 is notable in relation to this.

God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

— Genesis 1:3-5

We see that God calls the light good but not the darkness and separates light and dark. He distinguished between them by calling one night and the other day. Next, we see that evening (first mention of the word) begins the first day. Recalling that evening has to do with mixing, it images for us daily that the mixing of darkness with light ends with death, chaos, confusion, and total darkness. The Hebrew word for morning "boker" is connected in definition to that of opening, awakening, discernment, and revelation that brings order and substance in life.

How fascinating that this word "erev" both meaning evening and mixing, is also the root word for merchandising, west, and sterility. From a current events perspective, this is quite telling. In what is known as "the west" as in the United States, is quite famous for both its mixing and merchandising that has lead to spiritual slumber and headed for even greater darkness. In terms of the church, I think it is obvious that we have become quite sterile and unproductive because of our participation in this.

knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep

— Romans 13:11

A quick pictograph from the Hebrew word for evening, before we move along, is quite revealing. "Ayin", "resh", and "bet" are the three root letters that comprise this word. "Ayin" meaning perception, "resh" meaning person and can concern dominion, and "bet" meaning inside a house or stronghold. "Ayin" and "resh" together is an uncommonly used word for enemy, and a vav added between those two means naked. In combination, we see that mixing darkness with light, or evil with good, as imaged in the evening, results in the skewed perceptions of a person within an enemy stronghold. Can we see what happened in the garden with the enemy of God and man when he peddled this mixture of lies, that upon their cooperation with him, he molested and divested them and altered their perceptions and left them subject to the dominion of his stronghold?

The Man Who Mixed Light with Dark in the Bible

The next exhibit of mixing comes from the book of Acts when Paul is giving an extra long speech.

Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead

— Acts 20:7-9

I once heard a sermon preached on this with a special note that the room was lit with many lamps, lending to a picture of a life lived in worship to God. It was midnight and therefore dark and cool outside giving illustration to the darkness of life outside of God's rule and realm. The man was sitting in the window and therefore experiencing a mixture of the indoor warmth and light with the outside cold and dark which eventually led him to be overcome with sleep and eventually to his fall and death. The imagery is stunningly obvious in that mixing light with dark will put us in a spiritual slumber that can lead us to a fatal fall. His fall was from the third story window indicating this concerned a spiritual reality. Now we know that the man was restored as the account reads, but it would be wise not to ride that fence.

Mixing of Animals, Seed, and Textiles

Some interesting scriptural examples concerning the prohibition of mixing begins with a curious command of God in Leviticus.

‘You shall keep My statutes. You shall not let your livestock breed with another kind. You shall not sow your field with mixed seed. Nor shall a garment of mixed linen and wool come upon you".

— Leviticus 19:19

An odd demand at first glance, unless you understand the underlying principle of the danger of mixing. The fact that there are three categories reveals that this command has a spiritual application. We might find our example in the modern-day practice of genetic modification. Through this mixing of genetic material in species of plants for the production of what appears to be "good for food and pleasant to the eye" consumption, is actually being discovered to be unhealthy and environmentally damaging. It is also to be noted that these genetically altered and mixed plants are in most cases sterile.

This visualizes for us how mixing the seed of God's Word and truth with worldly human thought philosophy and agenda can create a confusing tree of "good and evil" that looks "good for food and pleasant to the eye" but is utterly unhealthy, damaging, and unproductive.

This is also displayed in the mixing of species as it applies to livestock. If you mix a female horse with a male donkey you end up with a mule which cannot reproduce and such is the case for other mixed species of a beast such as a liger (lion and tiger) and "geep" (goat and sheep) which are also noted for their genetic fallibility. This agrees with another definition of the word for "evening" (erev) and that of sterility Could this be God's image that to us that to mix natures might seem like interesting and profitable mutations but they are in reality deforming and unproductive.

This mixing of natures as it concerns us has to do with flesh and Spirit should not be mixed.

For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another

— Galatians 5:17

We would therefore for do well to distinguish between the two.

and the final reference in Leviticus concerned that of clothing in which the linen is a symbol of human works, and the wool is a symbol of God's provision, were not to be mixed.

"Salvation must be all of God, with no mixture of human merit"

— "A Dictionary of Bible Types by Walter L. Wilson

I think it is worth the observation as well to notice that in the Old Testament when the children of Israel got most off-course, they didn't stop their "worship" practices as much as they began mixing other religious ideas and practices with it. When they built the golden calf to worship, he called it a feast to the Lord

Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow is a feast to the Lord

— Exodus 32:5

What is this mixture of things producing in the church today? ...a mutant breed of fruitless and defective "Christians" that are distorting the image of God in their lives and presentation and not producing a new generation of believers.

Mixing Hot and Cold

My final example of mixing comes from the book of Revelation with Jesus' confrontation to the church of Laodicea in chapter 3.

“I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth"

— Revelation 3:15,16

This verse means so much more when we understand a little bit about the geography of the area surrounding Laodicea. Laodicea had two neighboring cities, Hierapolis, which was known for its hot springs and the other Colosse was known for its cool springs. The imagery comes from an aqueduct made by the Laodiceans for the purpose of channeling water to their city possibly from both sources. This process of mixing the two led to lukewarm water that was putrid, poisonous, and undrinkable. Mixing sources of waters from a spiritual perspective is lethal.

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water

— Jeremiah 2:13

Continuing with our letter study...


Nun—Fish or Seed

"Nun", the last letter in "satan" is a picture of a fish or a seed and can represent something that is perpetual and or eternal and is symbolic of life.

So Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life. (the actual Hebrew translation reads the word " "life" as soul.)

— Job 2:4

when we put it all of these concepts together we can see the devouring consuming snake is seeking to destroy man by convincing him that evil is good that in doing so as man partakes of this mixture it will warp his ability to distinguish between the two thereby robbing him of his eternal existence and forfeiting a life with God.

He is the devourer of good and life.

Satan tempts a man to give up "all" to gain what he thinks he might want, need or even what he might think is "good" for the gain of his own soul and ends up forfeiting his life to get it.

For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

— Matthew 16:26

As man thought, once, to give up his life in order to gain. Christ asks him to do it again...

Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it.

— Luke 17:33

This new Testament portion of scripture is descriptive of what happened when Adam and Eve lost their lives and how they lost it . . . by seeking to save "their own life" their own independent life and they ended up losing everything. The way back home is the same road. Losing our lives for His sake we gain it back again.

In conclusion, the word picture makes us aware that there is an enemy of our soul and it would be wise for us to distinguish between good and evil that we may choose good and give the enemy no foothold in our lives. Satan was not allowed access to man except through man's disobedience.

May we be loyal to the one who came to destroy the works of the devil (I John 3:8) by giving up His life to save ours.

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live

— Deuteronomy 30:19

© 2010 Tamarajo


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    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago

      Hello Harkness, thank you for that encouragement. It is good to know! I appreciate your visit and comment. God bless!

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Just an FYI that your post is still touching lives. Thanks so much!

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Hi K Davis. I was unaware of Barak Obama's name referencing Satan. I did however look it up to see how that could be. And those who are purporting it does claim that his first name means lightening and His last means height and some scriptural references are given for how that concept was made.

      My personal thoughts are based on Daniel chapter 4 that states "...The Most High rules in the kingdom of men and He appoints over it whom He chooses". When all is said and done all will serve to glorify God and His goodness.

      Thank you much for reading and commenting.

    • profile image

      K. Davis 

      6 years ago

      I have read on several occasions that the word satan is, in Hebrew translation, Barack Obama. From what I've studied, I see no indication that's true. Any comments?


    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      searchinsany glad you found the hub informative and interesting. His Word is infinitely fascinating.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting.

    • searchinsany profile image

      Alexander Gibb 

      7 years ago from UK

      This is a very interesting and informative Hub, thank you.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Pollyannalana. I understand what you are saying we would not want to give Him that much honor. Nice thing about Hebrew is there are no capital letters so it doesn't get distinguished one way or the other.

      I appreciate you stopping by and for commenting.

    • Pollyannalana profile image


      8 years ago from US

      Very good hub. I never spell satan with a capital letter unless it begins a sentence and I don't like doing that.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you Healing Touch I am glad you were able to glean something from the article

      Thank you for your vote your visit and your thoughtful comment.

    • Healing Touch profile image

      Laura Arne 

      8 years ago from Minnetonka, MN

      This was a very good informative hub. I learned a lot and loved how you took the word and defined in all terms. I vote up and awesome.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      SpongyOllama, thank you for the input.

      My study was based upon the meaning of the word Satan based upon the Hebrew Scriptures and definitely comes with the biblical perspective and interpretation.

      I see what you are saying that others may hold to a different philosophy or belief about it.

      It is interesting that the interpretation of him being "a force of nature that drives us to fulfill our desire" and "the responsibility to reconcile our basic needs for survival" are not too far from a biblical perspective as this is actually a description of what the Bible calls the "flesh" and is foundational in the "self-justification" of our sinful behavior. These statements really do reflect the garden incident that led to the fall of man.

      Selfishness is always at the root of driven desires and someone always gets hurt by our self reconciliation of what we think we need to do to "survive".

      Thank you for your visit and thought provoking comment.

    • Spongy0llama profile image

      Jake Brannen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      However, branches of Satanism are often misunderstood. It is not devil worship, because Satan does not mean the same thing in this context. In Leveyan Satanism, for example, satan is interpreted as the basic force of nature that drives us to fulfill our desire, and the basic idea behind satanism is that we are all responsible for reconciling our basic needs for survival and self preservation with the society around us.

      I am not a satanist, but I think it is important to inform you of a different meaning for Satan.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Hi Tony, studying God's Word is what I love to do the most. Sharing what I learn ranks right up there with it

      breaking things down really help me digest the truth and make it practical.

      I am glad you enjoyed this study.

      Thank you for your visit and comment.

    • Tony L Smith profile image

      Tony L Smith 

      8 years ago from Macon

      Tamarjo, you are a good studier, I enjoy your word breakdowns. That scripture in Rev. 12 is one of my favorites, well that whole Chapter.

      Thanks for the insight

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      Thank you drpastorcarlotta for your encouraging comment and vote.

      Blessed by your visit.

    • drpastorcarlotta profile image

      Pastor Dr Carlotta Boles 

      8 years ago from BREAKOUT MINISTRIES, INC. KC

      Excellent, excellent Hub! Voted-Up! And Awesome!!

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hello awesome 77 yes sin and the adversary of our soul are so deceitful. Staying in the truth of His word and loyal relationship with Him is essential to our life.

      Your comment brought to mind another biblical story that reflects this same point ...Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of soup

      Thank you for your comment

      Blessed by your visit

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      You know in this world we live today, many will sell their soul for a few pieces of silver! Slowly, some of the wise teachings is been usurped by the greedy for selfish gains. I like your hub and will come back and look at the rest. Good job!

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you for your visit sky for your visit and comment. I have really learned to love the Hebrew for the clarity it brings to the things I believe God wanted us to know and understand. Sometimes english translations water down these concepts.

    • skye2day profile image


      9 years ago from Rocky Mountains

      Hello I enjoyed this study I may need to come back to absorb more of the Hebrew but I love it. I listen to the 'Good Sheppard' Pastor in the mornings ( forgot HIS name off hand) He refers to the Hebrew text allot in HIS Bible Studies. He is very good. He has been around a while. 6AM MST channell 17 M-F Thank you for the study I have bookmarked. Awesome stuff. The more I know HIM the

      more I love HIM and the more I want to know HIM the more I love HIM You are a Blessing. Hugs In HIS name Jesus Christ

      The Video Has me in tears It is all good )-;

      Choose LIFE! AMEN

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by dahogland. I see in the context of scripture in Job that Satan's mission in Job is to get Job to say that God is not good not necessarily advising God as much as requesting opportunity. God is confident that Job will be faithful and will believe that God is still good even in the midst of unjust suffering and therefore allows the trial. And God was correct in that Job's faith being tried by fire came forth as pure gold and was better off than he was before.

      I like the idea that God requires faith in Him but also He exhibits faith in us to choose Him no matter what.

      thank you for your interest and comment.

    • dahoglund profile image

      Don A. Hoglund 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I think people I know generally consider Satan a synonym for the devil. Our church Bible study discussed the meaning of "the Satan" in the book of Job.According to the discussion manual the Satan in Job is more of an advisor to God. I get the impression that one has to go by context.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting lifegate. learning is my favorite thing. I'm glad you were able to glean something from it.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      9 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Thanks TJ for going the extra mile. There's always something to learn. Thanks for teaching me.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you for your comment no body. I agree. John 15:8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

      To distract us in ways that make us unproductive could lead to our demise is one of the sneaky snakes tactics.

      I Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

    • no body profile image

      Robert E Smith 

      9 years ago from Rochester, New York

      I am reminded of the verse in Galatians that says: "I am crucified with Christ nevertheless I live yet not I but Christ lives in me and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me." Our enemy seeks our life. If he loses the battle for our souls then he would have us do things to shorten our lives or make our lives non-productive for God. He deserves every bit of what God has for him. Blessings sister.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wonderful hub sister Tamarajo! And welcome to hubpages! I look forward to reading more of your hubs, you bring wonderful insight to our online "body" of Christ!

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you for the warm welcome and for stopping by. I get a lot out of the revelations as well. And I absolutely love sharing them with others. "That he may run who reads it" (Hab.2:2)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      Thank you for this learned exposition about the name "Satan." I got a lot out of it. Welcome to the Hub Pages Community. We can use your voice here.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you Hoowantstono. I just discovered the blue letter Bible site recently and yes I do really like it. It has been a time saving study tool.

    • HOOWANTSTONO profile image


      9 years ago

      Very nice description,

      I add a link you might find useful

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      no spoon feeding here = ) thanks for the nudge to check it out. I am blessed that these revelations are as much an inspiration to others as they are to me. His Words are always "Life" (John 6:68)

    • Judah's Daughter profile image

      Judah's Daughter 

      9 years ago from Roseville, CA

      Your writing, teaching and inspiration is awesome! So glad to have found you! From the 'fire hose' lady :-) lol

    • fred allen profile image

      fred allen 

      9 years ago from Myrtle Beach SC

      Wow! You have taught me something new again! Love how you bring it so clearly. Gonna read another one now!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I knew i didn't have to spoon feed ya on that one.

      Shalom sister. Time for a hub on the serpent hehe.

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      ahhh..the evil inclination(yetzer hara), interesting that this inclination is based on a legitimate need that is fulfilled in an illegitimate way through indulgence and I might even go so far as to say entitlement. We mix up evil with good and deceive ourselves when we entitle ourselves those indulgences based on a perceived need. The coiled serpent in the garden convinced them they "needed" something they already had.

      He is the God who is enough!! The All Sufficient One. El Shaddai! May we not be deceived today by the serpents lie that satisfaction could be found in anyone or anything else and be robbed of our true fulfillment.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Wow.. interesting...You should study the yetzer hara! ;-)

    • Tamarajo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Thank you brotheryochanan. no, I have not studied the yetzer hara. I think I will though. Do you have anything I could look at about it. I like anything Bible and Hebrew.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I liked this hub. I enjoyed this tidbit of information: Tet is a picture of something coiled like a serpent and carries the idea of the contrast of distinguishing between good and evil.

      Something was coiled like a serpent in the garden of eden. Have you considered a study of the 'yetzer hara'?


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