- SATAN (Heb. שָׂטָן). In the Bible, except perhaps for I Chronicles 21:1 (see below), Satan is not a proper name referring to a particular being and a demoniac one who is the antagonist or rival of God. In its original application, in fact, it is a common noun meaning an adversary who opposes and obstructs. It is applied to human adversaries in I Samuel 29:4; II Samuel 19:23; I Kings 5:18; 11:14, 23, 25, and its related verb is used of prosecution in a law court (Ps. 109:6) and the role of an antagonist in general (Ps. 38:20(21); 109:4, 20, 29). The angel who was sent to obstruct Balaam (Num. 22:32) was evidently chosen ad hoc, as a satan (le-saṭan), and perhaps the consonants lsṭn are rather to be read as the infinitive lisṭon, "to oppose or obstruct." There is nothing here to indicate that שִׂטְנָה (siṭnah) was the permanent function of a particular angel. "The Satan" as the standing appellation of a particular angel first appears around 520 B.C.E. in Zechariah 3 and then in job 1–2. In I Chronicles 21:1, which has already been referred to, the article is disposed with, and "Satan" seems to be a real proper name. In Zechariah 3, the Satan acts as prosecutor in the celestial court; in Job 1–2, he questions Job's integrity in the latter's absence and suggests to the Lord that it be tested. He is clearly subordinate to God, a member of His suite (Heb. bene ha-eʾlohim), who is unable to act without His permission. Nowhere is he in any sense a rival of God. In I Chronicles 21:1, in which Satan is said to have incited David to take a census of Israel which resulted in the death of 70,000 Israelites (21:14), he has obviously been secondarily substituted because of doctrinal consideration for "the Lord," who plays this part. -Post-Biblical Satan is not prominent in the Apocrypha and Apocalypses, and, where mentioned, he is barely personalized but merely represents the forces of anti-God and of evil. Thus the Martyrdom of Isaiah (2:2) states that "Manasseh forsook the service of the God of his fathers and he served Satan and his angels and his powers." In the Testament of Gad (4:7) the warning is given that "the spirit of hatred worketh together with Satan through hastiness of spirit." Dan is told to "beware of Satan and his spirits" (6:1; cf. also 3:6 and 5:6; for other references see I En. 54:6; Assumption of Moses 10:1). The legend in the Talmud and Midrash that it was Satan who challenged God to put Abraham to the test of the Akedah (i.e., the sacrifice of Isaac; see below) appears in Jubilees (17:16) where, however, he is called mastema . References in the tannaitic literature are even more sparse, and, with few exceptions, Satan similarly appears merely as the impersonal force of evil. Thus Tosefta Shabbat 17 (18):3 states: "If you see a wicked man setting out on a journey and you wish to go by the same route, anticipate your journey by three days or postpone it for three days, because Satan accompanies the wicked man." The same trend is seen in the injunction "Open not your mouth to Satan" (Ber. 9a; see later), which, though given in the name of an amora, is stated "also to have been taught in the name of R. Yose." R. Johanan's statement of Satan persuading God about the Akedah is also given in the name of a tanna, Yose b. Zimra. The Sifrei (to Deut. 218), making the rebellious son the inevitable consequence of the father succumbing to the beauty of a female captive mentioned in the previous passage, declares: "the father of this one lusted after a beautiful woman (captive) and thus brought Satan into his house." R. Joshua states that the verse "the earth is given into the hands of the wicked" (Job 9:24) refers to Satan (BB 16a). The only personification of Satan found in tannaitic literature is the story of R. Meir spending three days to bring about a reconciliation between two inveterate quarrelers, upon which Satan complained, "He has drawn me out of my home" (Git. 52a). Similarly, R. Akiva was tempted by Satan in the form of a woman, but Satan relented. In the New Testament Satan emerges as the very personification of the spirit of evil, as an independent personality, the Antichrist. He is the author of all evil (Luke 10:19). In Revelation 12:9 there is the fullest description of him: "that old serpent called the devil and Satan which deceived the whole world. He was cast into the earth and his angels were cast out with him." He is the personal tempter of Jesus (Matt. 4), and it is this New Testament conception of Satan which has entered into popular lore. The Jews who would not accept Jesus are referred to as "the synagogue of Satan" (Rev. 2:9, 3:9). During the amoraic period, however, Satan became much more prominent in the Talmud and Midrash. An interesting example of the development of the idea of Satan in amoraic times can be seen by a comparison between the Sifrei and the Midrash. The former, in its comment to Numbers 25:1, says "wherever 'dwellings' is mentioned Satan leaps in\!" He is frequently referred to as samael , but the references which follow refer to the actual name Satan. He appears sometimes in the same impersonal guise as in the Apocrypha and among the tannaim. He is identified with the yeẓer ha-ra (the evil inclination in general) and with the angel of death (BB 16a), but in addition he emerges more and more as a distinct identity. The Satan of Job who challenges God to put Job to the test of suffering is made to play the same role with Abraham. He accuses Abraham that despite the boon of being granted a son in his old age, Abraham did not "have one turtle-dove or pigeon to sacrifice before this," and Abraham is ordered to sacrifice Isaac to prove his obedience to God (Sanh. 89b). In this connection an almost sympathetic view is taken of Satan. His purpose in challenging Job's piety is for a worthy purpose: that God should not forget the greater loyalty of Abraham (BB 16a). Although he appears as the tempter, he is much more to the fore as the accuser, and the phrase Satan mekatreg ("Satan the accuser"; Gen. R. 38:7; TJ, Ber. 1:1, Shab. 2:6) occurs with great frequency. The well-known phrase "open not thy mouth to Satan" is significant in this respect in its context. The Talmud states that when his dead lies before him a mourner should justify the divine judgment by saying: "Sovereign of the Universe, I have sinned before Thee and Thou hast not punished me a thousandth part." To this the objection was raised that he should not say so, since he thereby "gives an opening to Satan" (cf. Rema, YD 376:2). Satan was responsible for all the sins in the Bible: for the fall of man (PdRE 13:1), for the people worshiping the golden calf by telling them that Moses would not return from Mount Sinai (Shab. 89a), and for David's sin with Bath-Sheba (Sanh. 107a). He is associated with the gentile nations in sneering at the Ḥukkim, those laws – such as sha'atnez and the prohibition of the pig – for which no rational reason can be given, and thus weakening the religious loyalties of the Jews (Yoma 67b; for this tempting of the rabbis, see Kid. 81a–b). The purpose of the sounding of the shofar on Rosh Ha-Shanah is "in order to confuse Satan" (RH 16b), but on the Day of Atonement he is completely powerless. This is hinted at in the fact that the numerical equivalent of Satan is 364, i.e., there is one day in the year on which he is powerless (Yoma 20a). References to Satan in the liturgy are few and impersonal. The hashkivenu prayer of the evening service includes a plea to "remove from us the enemy, pestilence… and Satan" (the adversary), while the morning blessings preceding the Pesukei de-Zimra conclude with R. Judah ha-Nasi's prayer (Ber. 16b) to be spared from "the corrupting Satan." The reshut of the ḥazzan before Musaf on the High Holy Days includes the sentence "and rebuke the Satan that he accuse me not," and under the influence of the Kabbalah six biblical verses are recited before the sounding of the shofar, the initial letters of which form the acrostic kera Satan ("tear Satan"). During the Middle Ages the Church, basing itself on such passages in the New Testament as "Ye are of your father and the devil" (John 8:44), propounded the doctrine that the Jews were the "spawn of Satan," with many of his characteristics. As such they were less than human beings – sorcerers, magicians, and evildoers – and this theory was a determining factor in the denial of rights to, and persecutions of, the Jews. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: N.H. Torczyner (Tur-Sinai), The Book of Job (1957), xvi, 38–45; T.H. Gaster, in: IDB, 4 (1962), 224–8 (incl. bibl.). POST-BIBLICAL: Theologisches Woerterbuch zum Neuen Testament, 2 (1935), 71–80; L. Jung, Fallen Angels in Jewish, Christian, and Muhammedean Literature (1926); Ginzberg, Legends, index S.V.; H.L. Strack and P. Billerbeck, Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrash, 1 (1922), 136–49; J. Trachtenberg, The Devil and the Jews (1943), 18–22, 59–63, 198–200; G. Scholem, Von der mystischen Gestalt der Gottheit (1962), index. (Louis Isaac Rabinowitz)
Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.