Concepts in Judaism

Who Needs the Satan? Why Did G-d Make Him? (Part 1)

Eliav Asks:

Greetings, we of course believe in the Creator’s absolute rule and that he’s above material and time, he rules over the universe and judges all souls. But how does this fit with the spiritual being called the Satan. Is he also part of G-d’s creation in this world? There are those that believe that the Satan is spiritual being that is at odds or opposed to G-d’s rule in the world. Therefore I’d like to know who he actually is. What is his job, his place, what’s the reason for the things he does? Thank You.”

Hello Eliav and thank you for your question. I would first like to discuss the imaginary Satan conjured up by the Christians which is chock full of
misconceptions. Originally the Christians were Roman pagan idol worshippers who believed in different powers in the world that were always in battle which each other for control of the world. That’s why when the Romans first became Christians they corrupted many beliefs rooted in Judaism with their pagan beliefs. That’s how they got the famous image of the Satan or devil all red with a tail, holding a pitch fork which according to their mistaken belief is a rebellious fallen angel that runs his kingdom in purgatory as he sees fit as opposed to G-d who controls heaven. This is an example of the pagan beliefs, vestiges of Roman paganism that crept into Christianity. Up to this very day Christians around the world attribute all pain and disease in the world to the Satan and that is good and beautiful to G-d. They believe in two Gods who are always at battle with one another for the souls of mankind.

There is not enough space and time for a discussion on all the contradictions inherent in this undeveloped and childish belief. But without a doubt the biggest contradiction to this is the recognition in G-d that is the cause of everything in the world, filling every inch of the universe, giving it existence as He sees fit, ruling over all realms, kingdoms and angels in such a manner that even a mosquito can’t move without G-d deciding it should exist all the more so, man and the angels as the verse says: “If a man conceals himself in hidden places, will I not find him, says G-d, I fill the heavens and earth.” (Jeremiah 23, 24)

G-d alone rules over every power in creation and judges them as the verse says: “The Lord your G-d is the Lord of all Gods and the master of all masters, the mighty, great, strong and awesome one that favors none and takes no bribes, who does justice for the orphan and widow.” (Deuteronomy 10, 17) “I am G-d who investigates (intentions through one’s) kidneys, to give the man according to his path and the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17, 10) There is no one else responsible for the reward and punishment in the world to come as it says: “G-d kills and gives life, brings people to the grave and raises them out.” (Samuel, Book 1, 2, 6). There are many more verses in the scriptures with the same message.

The verses likewise tell us that G-d is responsible for everything that happens in this world, even what we perceive and feel to be bad as it says: “See I place before you today life and good, death and evil.” (Deuteronomy 30, 15) Or as it says: “You shall know that as a father punishes his son, the Lord your G-d punishes you.” Or: The creator of light and darkness, maker of peace and creator of evil, I am G-d that does all this.” (Isaiah 45, 7)  Bat Mitzvah
Therefore the first main tenet of faith in Judaism is ‘that G-d is the creator and conductor of all creations and He alone made in the past, makes in the present and will in the future make all things.” This being said, we see there is no place for the childish belief of the Christian version of the Satan in Judaism.

The Satan in Biblical sources

The word “angel” in the scriptures means messenger as the verse says; “Behold I will send an angel before you to protect you on your path.” (Exodus 23, 20) All the angels were created by G-d as His messengers doing his will in this world as it says: He makes his angels spirits, he servants burning fire.” (Psalms 104, 4) The need for angels is because G-d is so mighty that the creations can’t stand before him and survive as the verse says: “You can’t see me, for a man cannot see me and live.” (Exodus 33, 20) That is why angels were created as partitions and holy powers that function from the power G-d gave them to do His bidding. With the exception of Moses, all other prophets communicated with G-d through angels (Abarbanel’s commentary on Exodus 19, 1-2).

Judaism teaches us that the Satan is just another angel in G-d kingdom. But the word Satan is a biblical word describing anything that is sent to damage, prevent or disturb; even a person or disease is called Satan in the scriptures: “And now G-d gave me rest from all around me, there is no Satan a nor anything bad and harmful,” (Kings Book 1, 5, 18) or: “And G-d brought about a Satan (opposition) to Solomon Hadad the Edomite from the descendent of the king of Edom.

The Book of Job is the first source that calls the angel we know by the name Satan and his job is to test man with affliction but G-d forbid he doesn’t function on his own independently rather he carries out G-d’s will as another one of His messengers. We see the verse says: “And G-d said to the Satan, behold all his possessions are in your hands, but you can’t send your hand to harm him.” (Job 1, 12)

The Satan is an angel appointed on affliction and difficult tests. As all other angels, he functions from the power G-d who rules over him gave him and commands him to do. Since it his job to cause harm in the world he is called “Satan” as befitting his job description.


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