- Religion and Philosophy»
- Angels & Demons
Who is the Devil? Part Three
In the first two parts of the series we went through the Old Testament to see where the idea of Satan came from. We looked at Job and noticed that Satan was a son of god in good standing. He was under the full control of god and not thrown from heaven. We did not find the evil Satan in the OT and had to discount any references the Christians have come up with as being references to people. The Prince of Tier, a Babylonian king, etc. But nowhere does the OT recount how Satan fell from grace. Even the New Testament doesn’t tell us much, and even if it did we would need to find the origins of the story as it is not in the NT. So where do Christians get the idea that Satan was thrown out of heaven?
This text will cover a number of non-biblical texts which may tell the story. They are not Jewish cannon and they are not Christian cannon. One of the first ones I want to explore is The book of Enoch. Enoch is the seventh generation from Adam. He is the father of Methuselah who has a son named Lamech, who is the father of Noah.
The story goes that Enoch is prone to having visions because he is favoured by god, and he is a scribe. In fact it is said he disappears from the world rather than that he dies. It is suggested that god takes him to heaven directly to tell him secrets of what is to come.
Enoch is told that 200 angels went to earth and took human woman as wives. The angels were “watchers”. From the book you get the idea that they watched earth and other things like the comings and goings of the sun and stars etc. The two hundred are a troop of angels led by an angel namedSamlazaz, not Satan.
“And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And these are the names of their leaders: Samlazaz, their leader, Araklba, Rameel, Kokablel, Tamlel, Ramlel, Danel, Ezeqeel, Baraqijal, 8 Asael, Armaros, Batarel, Ananel, Zaq1el, Samsapeel, Satarel, Turel, Jomjael, Sariel. These are their chiefs of tens.”
This is the story we hear about in the bible in Genesis 6:
“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. “
This is the beginning or the Flood narrative. The bible tells about Noah and the flood itself, but it just touches on why the flood happened. Genesis gives us a strange and unexplained view of things here. We are told the sons of god find the daughters of man attractive, and they go down and mate with them. It says there were Giants in the world at that time and even after that. Then it tells us the sons of god had children with the daughters of man and they were mighty men of renown. But the idea of there being giants in the land and that the sons of god had children, doesn’t seem related. God sees that there is corruption in the world but doesn’t tell us what kind of corruption.
Enoch approaches the story from the angel of why god was angry and why he wanted to wipe out the human race. He tells us:
“And all the others together with them took unto themselves wives, and each chose for himself one, and they began to go in unto them and to defile themselves with them, and they taught them charms and enchantments, and the cutting of roots, and made them acquainted with plants. And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another's flesh, and drink the blood. Then the earth laid accusation against the lawless ones.”
There is a problem here with size. The Hebrew measurement ell is about the same as a cubit or larger. It is listed as two spans. A span is between 9.5 and 11 inches. A cubit is 18 inches. So if Enoch is telling the truth, these giants were 4500 feet tall. Pretty much impossible at best. But more on giants later.
It is as if the sons of god, having tasted sex couldn’t get enough. They did it with animals of all sorts including birds and fish. They drank blood and later it tells us they had sex with their wives while they were menstruating and unclean. But sex was not the only crime the sons of god committed, they taught woman medicine, and they taught them to use makeup and colour their hair. They taught them how to make alluring clothes and all manner of things they weren’t supposed to know about including how to write. (Which is strange considering Enoch is a scribe.) But there is more.
“And Azazel taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjaza taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, 'Armaros the resolving of enchantments, Baraqijal taught astrology, Kokabel the constellations, Ezeqeel the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiel the signs of the earth, Shamsiel the signs of the sun, and Sariel the course of the moon. And as men perished, they cried, and their cry went up to heaven”
Of all the sins that the sons of god perpetrated, the worst offender was Azazel. The other sons of god still in heaven tell god about what is happening and particularly what Azazel has done. They remind him that he knows all things and yet wonder why he has not told them to do anything about it. He doesn’t explain, he just tells them:
“Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spake, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: 'Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world.' And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there forever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azazel: to him ascribe all sin.”
So all sin in the world is ascribed to Azazel, not Satan. Enoch mentions Satan and Satans in 4 places. He is not using it as the name of a son of god or an angel; he is using it to mean “The accusers”.
“And I heard the fourth voice fending off the satans and forbidding them to come before the Lord of Spirits to accuse them who dwell on the earth.”
Satan in Job is not the name of the son of god or an arch angel god is talking to. Jewish scholars tell us the word satan is a title. The Jewish literature explains that there are two interpretations of the word. One is an accuser in the employ of god who does god’s bidding as in Job. It is his job to test people or tempt them. But it is often suggested that the tester hopes the person being tested will pass and often feels sorry for them. The other idea is that some form of accusers tempt people, and when they sin, run back to god to tell, because they want to bring god’s wrath on them. Enoch actually uses both ideas in his text when using the word satan and satans. So the word should not even be capitalized. The word satan is used in Jewish text to apply to anyone, human or angel, that accuses or tempts people either in the employ of god or not.
While we have found the story of the fallen angels, the texts was first written between 200 and 300 BCE. The oldest and most complete version is in the Ethiopian language. We have fragments of a version written in Greek dating from 90 AD. So this puts the writing of the text we have well after the OT is written. Do you also notice that while Genesis called them the sons of god, Enoch calls them angels? But by the time of the writing of this Enoch, angels had replaced the sons of god in Jewish thought.
But again, Azazel is the worst of the fallen angels. And he is punished and cast into a pit in the dessert forever. The others are as punished as well, and their children are killed off in the flood. Most of them anyway. This is not the satan of the Chrstians.
Interesting that this Azazel is mentioned in the bible. Leviticus 16 tells us that Aaron has to place lots on two goats. One is to be sacrificed to god, and the other is to be given to Azazel. Aaron is told to place both his hands on the goat to given to Azazel and confess all the sins of the people of Israel. Then they are to take the goat out into the desert to be given to Azazel. You remember that Enoch tells us he has been put into a pit in the desert from which he can’t escape. But here Aaron is told to deliver all of Israel’s sins to him. Enoch also tells us that Azazel shall be ascribed all the sins of man, because he is responsible for them. So this is fitting.
The goat is what becomes known as the “scapegoat.” Jesus crucifixion is the same idea. He becomes the scapegoat for all of human sin.
It turns out that Azazel is actually the head of the Se'irim. They are hairy goat demons which the early Semitic people other than the Israelites made sacrifices to. He may be the Canaanite god, Asiz, who created the sun or made it burn more brightly. Thus we often get a picture of a hairy devil with hoofed feet in Christianity.
So from the Jews themselves we learn satan is not a name. Rather it is a title. The Christians being mainly gentiles have no reason to know that unless they do some research. There is so much more to say about Enoch so I will leave a lot of it for another hub and move on another text for now.
The first and second book of Adam and Eve was written between 500 and 600 AD. They tell us what happens from the time Adam and Eve leave the garden to the birth of Noah. It references Enoch but contradicts it's teachings by telling us it was the children of Seth (Third son of Adam) who came down from the mountain to mix with the daughters of Cain that caused the wrath of god and the flood. There is no talk of giants in this book.
This is what god tells Adam about why he had been thrown out of the garden, and tells us the Christian version of why Satan was tossed out of heaven.
6 "If only you had not transgressed My commandment and had kept My law, and had not eaten of the fruit of the tree, near which I told you not to come! And there were fruit trees in the garden better than that one.
7 "But the wicked Satan who continued not in his first estate, nor kept his faith; in whom was no good intent towards Me, and who though I had created him, yet set Me at naught, and sought the Godhead, so that I hurled him down from heaven,--he it is who made the tree appear pleasant in your eyes, until you ate of it, by hearkening to him.”
So by 5 to 600 AD the writer of these stories, apparently an Egyptian of unknown name, is writing a Christian version of stories that had been passed along for ages, and likely mixing it with his or her own ideas. But the contradictions with Enoch means they probably did not have access to the Book of Enoch when they wrote it.
This is most interesting stuff due to the fact that the Sumerians are said to have come down off their mountain some 7000 years ago. Could Enoch have been telling us his version of the Sumerian migration? Perhaps he is explaining that the Sumerian gods were actually fallen angels? After all, the Sumerians as all cultures with a pantheon of gods, attribute the gods with giving them knowledge of everything from bread making to beer to wine to writing, to the making of dyes etc. It seems very possible that Enoch or the writer of Enoch wrote his books to explain why there were other gods in the minds of man. It almost seems perfect for the roll.
Strangely the Sumerians talk about the Igigi. They were young gods who did labour for the older more senior gods. But they grew tired of working and staged a rebellion. The highest god was angry. But he didn’t toss them out of heaven. He told the other gods to find a way to create slaves. So that’s how came to create mankind.
The interesting thing is that there is another interesting parallel between Enoch and the Sumerians. Enoch says two hundred angels came to earth, while the Sumerians say 600 gods came to earth to rule over men, and became the great antediluvian kings. Some of whom were said to have ruled for 432,000 years. The Sumerians were certainly not young earth creationists.
Their Ziggurats represented the mountains they came from, and were said to make god’s way to earth easier. It also had steps to the top to make the gods of the underworld’s journey to heaven easier, as well as making it easier to visit the statue of the patron god of the city and bring sacrifices.
So we see that the Christians thought satan had been thrown out of heaven because he wouldn’t bow to god and wanted to take the title of godhead for himself. But it isn’t in the bible, either the old or the new, and it isn’t in Enoch.
The Muslims have another interpretation. It is one I have heard Christians tell me: Qur'an 7:11-12
“When Allah commanded all of the angels to bow down before Adam (the first Human), Iblis, full of hubris and jealousy, refused to obey God's command (he could do so because he had free will), seeing Adam as being inferior in creation due to his being created from clay as compared to him (created of fire).
It is We Who created you and gave you shape; then We bade the angels prostrate to Adam, and they prostrate; not so Iblis (Lucifer); He refused to be of those who prostrate.
(Allah) said: "What prevented thee from prostrating when I commanded thee?" He said: "I am better than he: Thou didst create me from fire, and him from clay.”
So in this story, written 600 years AD, it is said, not that satan wouldn’t bow to god, but that he wouldn’t bow to man.
So nowhere does it tell us who the devil is or why he was thrown out heaven in any scripture. The only one scripture that mentions it is Revelations when it tells of a mysterious fight between god and some of his angels. Only Enoch tells us why and his story is part of no one’s bible.
So I went to the Catholics to explain it. The Catholic encyclopaedia has this to say.
“And in the first place what was the nature of the sin of the rebel angels? In any case this was a point presenting considerable difficulty, especially for theologians, who had formed a high estimate of the powers and possibilities of angelic knowledge, a subject which had a peculiar attraction for many of the great masters of scholastic speculation. For if sin be, as it surely is, the height of folly, the choice of darkness for light, of evil for good, it would seem that it can only be accounted for by some ignorance, or inadvertence, or weakness, or the influence of some overmastering passion. But most of these explanations seem to be precluded by the powers and perfections of the angelic nature. The weakness of the flesh, which accounts for such a mass of human wickedness, was altogether absent from the angels. There could be no place for carnal sin without the corpus delicti. And even some sins that are purely spiritual or intellectual seem to present an almost insuperable difficulty in the case of the angels.
This may certainly be said of the sin which by many of the best authorities is regarded as being actually the great offense of Lucifer, to wit, the desire of independence of God and equality with God. It is true that this seems to be asserted in the passage of Isaiah (14:13). And it is naturally suggested by the idea of rebellion against an earthly sovereign, wherein the chief of the rebels very commonly covets the kingly throne. At the same time the high rank which Lucifer is generally supposed to have held in the hierarchy of angels might seem to make this offense more likely in his case, for, as history shows, it is the subject who stands nearest the throne who is most open to temptations of ambition. But this analogy is not a little misleading. For the exaltation of the subject may bring his power so near that of his sovereign that he may well be able to assert his independence or to usurp the throne; and even where this is not actually the case he may at any rate contemplate the possibility of a successful rebellion.”
Ladies and gentlemen; it is a guess. As the Catholic encyclopaedia also tells us in all honesty, Isaiah 14:13 is not really talking about satan.
“ This parable of the prophet (Isaiah 14:13) is expressly directed against the King of Babylon, but both the early Fathers and later Catholic commentators agree in understanding it as applying with deeper significance to the fall of the rebel angel.”
They agree to understand it that way. I love the Catholic scholar’s honesty. No one knows where the idea of the fall of Satan comes from, because it isn’t in any text. Satan is not the name of a being, it is a Hebrew word applied to anyone who accuses truly or accuses falsely.
In the end, Satan as the Christians understand “him” is a complete fabrication with no history to draw on except misunderstanding of Hebrew tradition.