God Or Satan?

by Lloyd Braun 15 Replies latest jw friends

  • Narkissos

    Welcome LB.

    You raise a very interesting point, but I think a slightly different perspective (than "God = Satan") emerges when you put those texts in a historical perspective.

    1 Chronicles 21 is a rewriting of 2 Samuel 24.

    The narrative logic of 2 Samuel 24 implies that "Yhwh" is not (yet) "God Almighty". We are still in a basically polytheistic (even if practically henotheistic) perspective. He cannot simply do as he pleases. To bring a plague upon Israel (why he is angry is not stated) he must resort to cunning. Enticing David to decide the census will do the trick. It's a "sin" and divine punishment will almost automatically ensue. A punishment that Yhwh could not decide alone without the trick.

    This doesn't make any sense from the later monotheistic perspective of 1 Chronicles. Pure monotheism would imply that God does everything, both "good" and "evil" (cf. Isaiah 45:7). But here we are even past this stage. Practical monotheism doesn't accept anymore the idea of "God" doing "evil". Hence the narrative necessity to shift the former role of Yhwh to someone else (and here we most likely have the very first, anarthrous, use of "Satan" as a proper name). The "new Yhwh" then stays clean of the temptation and sin: his role is only sovereign justice and punishment.

    Now to a couple of details:

    Recently, I have been studying some material that suggests that "Satan" in the Hebrew is never defined as a rebellious angel, that only comes in Revelation (Greek) later.

    Actually this character emerges gradually in Jewish literature in the pre-Christian era -- although the "enemy of God" is more often called Mastema or Belial than "Satan".

    "Satan" means strictly "adversary" and is really in no way a proper name.

    This is true of Zechariah 3 and Job 1--2, where the Hebrew text has the article: hstn, "the satan," which wouldn't suit a proper name. In both cases it represents a function, that of accuser or witness for the prosecution. He is a potential enemy of man (Joshua or Job) but a servant of God, defending his interests. That this role can be played by several characters is clear in the use of the plural for "satans" in 1 Enoch 20 for instance.

    In 1 Chronicles, as I pointed out above, I think the perspective is already different (although some believe that the anarthrous "satan" may be construed as indefinite, "a satan" = "an adversary," rather than the proper name "Satan," but it is less convincing imo).

  • Leolaia

    In short, the old Israelite notion is that Yahweh led an assembly of gods (i.e. the "sons of God") in his heavenly abode (cf. Job 15:8-15, 38:7, Psalm 82:1-8, 85:5-10, Isaiah 14:12-15, Ezekiel 28:2-16), from which he dispensed justice and directed activity on earth. The concept of a divine council derives from Canaanite mythology (cf. KTU 1.2 i 20-22; 1.3 v 36-40; 1.4 iii 12-14) and similar notions are found in Babylonian and Egyptian mythology. The most detailed description of the divine council in the OT occurs in 1 Kings 22:1-25 which portrays Yahweh as authorizing a "lying spirit" to go forth and give false prophecy. The idea that Yahweh can be source of false prophecy is certainly disconcerting from a later dualistic perspective that views God as all that is good but that is anachronistic; in henotheistic Israelite mythology, Yahweh is much more anthropomorphic and has the full range of feelings and behaviors as people do. Job portrays the adversary (i.e. "Satan" in most translations but really "the satan") as a member of Yahweh's heavenly court, who has the authority to bring about calamity and evil (Job 1:6, 2:1). Then in the post-exilic period, under the influence of Persian dualism, God is understood in monotheistic terms as an all-good and all-powerful Lord over all. The divine council was then recast into an assembly of angels and archangels and evil was explained as arising from an all-evil enemy of God who leads his own group of fallen angels and/or unclean spirits. Since the Israelites originally had many different individual spirits or angels of calamity that were under Yahweh's direction, there were many different names and terms for the source of evil in the dualistic scheme, e.g. Samael, Asael, Belial, etc. but the most common was "Satan" which originally the name for a role within the council (with potentially many "satans"). So when the original story in 2 Samuel 24 was rewritten in the post-exilic period, Yahweh's role in the census was shifted to Satan alone.

  • jaguarbass

    Hello Lloyd since you asked. Ill go with God is everything. So he is Satin, he is Jehovah, he is you, and he is me.

    Or as John said.

    I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

    A favorite theory of mine is that we are God, sons of God, parts of God, Conciousness having material experiences.

    When I read the bible cover to cover and came across the verses that you site. I thought

    1 this is a man made book and it is full of confusion.

    2 I found a theme of predistination running thru the bible. If thats the case everything has been writen and is know by the supreme intelligence and conciousness and we are just acting it out. Like actors in a hollywood movie.

    Back to your question God or Satin. Ill take one of each and roll them all together.

  • erandir

    So basically, throughout history and down to our day, those who have claimed to be inspired of God and part of his "chosen people" continue to reinterpret the concept of God according to their surrounding cultural influences. So the WTS has its modern view of God being a personage of divine justice, wisdom, and love who has a grand purpose for creation and will shortly fulfill all his promises and make the world into a paradise just like he intended it back in the day of Adam and Eve. But that modern view was not always shared by the writers of the bible, as we can see by analyzing the books of the bible in order of when they were written. I find this concept interesting. Thanks for the information, everyone.

    Also, another thing I take away from this thread is a bible example of God-inspired false prophecy. So, if God does this to his chosen people for whatever purpose, then the WTS's record of false prophecy is really proof that it is really God's chosen channel of communication on earth today? Naw...

  • Narkissos

    Interestingly, it has often been pointed out that, strictly speaking, there are no "false prophets" (in the usual sense of pseudo or fake prophets) in the Hebrew OT (or, at least, the early strata/readings thereof, because I believe we come rather close to this notion in the later ones). Meaning, that a prophecy doesn't "come true" or is dismissed as "lie" doesn't disqualify the prophet as a prophet, i.e. a mouthpiece of the divine realm -- only, this realm is more complex than in the full-fledged monotheistic perspective: there is potentially more than one source of real inspiration, and every deity is susceptible of lying through his/her prophets.

  • blueviceroy

    where is jcanon now I would dearly love to hear him explain this I applaud his devotion to his belief but a long winded desciption of how this works is what I need

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