The Christian Myth of Satan & Hell

We know that the original Jerusalem Jesus Movement did not believe in a hell dimension. They did believe that Jesus was the anointed Son of God come in the flesh and he brought the Will of his Father. That Will was to reaffirm the original Covenant God had made with His people. There was no abrogation of the Judaism (i.e. 2nd Temple Judaism) of Jesus' time. Therefore, Jesus did not teach against the Jewish understandings of death, nor against the original understandings of sheol or gehenna. Jesus was not sent to create a new religion nor was he sent to add to or take away from God’s original religion and ultimately there is no biblical support for an existence of a realm of eternal punishment.

"Hell” and the "devil", as preached in the christian church, these things have never existed in Judaism whether it be the time of Moses or the present day. Most christians probably don't even know or realize that modern mythology of a "Hell"and a "Lucifer-Devil" aren't even in the Hebrew or Greek Old Testaments. Therefore, it should not surprise anyone that the concept of eternal torment in hell originated from pagan philosophy and pagan beliefs. For example,
Plato (427-347 BC) discussed the concept of hell in his dialogue ‘Gorgias’ where he spoke of eternal punishments. There can be no doubt whatsoever that belief in eternal punishment in hell was a pagan belief embraced by Roman Catholicism in the very early years of the history of Christianity.

The Roman Catholic Latin Church Fathers,
Tertullian (160-220 AD), Jerome (347-420 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD), all strongly believed in the doctrine of hell. These early Latin Church Fathers are highly venerated Roman Catholic saints who believed that "God’s" punishment of unbelievers would be in a hell of everlasting torment. These church "fathers" are the originators and purveyors of the interjection of elements of philosophy and paganism into the interpretations of the original Catholic Christian Movement.

In 382 AD Pope Damascus commissioned Jerome to make a revised translation of the Bible in Latin. Jerome, a Roman Catholic by birth, believed in the doctrine of hell and he produced the revised translation of the complete Bible in Latin known as the Latin Vulgate (circa 405 AD). Jerome mistranslated and misinterpreted several key Hebrew and Greek words into the Latin Vulgate in support of the already established doctrine of hell in the Roman Catholic Church.

The Latin Vulgate became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, and to this day, it is regarded to be free from any doctrinal errors by the Roman Catholic Church. The Latin Vulgate reigned supreme for over a thousand years and the doctrine of hell became deeply entrenched into the psyche of the Christian world as a true biblical doctrine. This was because of the complete dominance of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Middle Ages, from the 5th century to the 16th century. In fact, Jerome through the
Latin Vulgate, and Augustine, through his book City of God, are the most influential figures in the development of the original Roman Church.

Augustine was canonized and recognized as a Doctor of the Church in 1298 AD by Pope Boniface. Augustine has profoundly influenced both Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrines. Many Protestants, especially Calvinists, consider him to be one of the theological fathers of the Protestant Reformation. It is ironic that Augustine, reputed to have combated heresies in the church, was himself the very one who championed belief in one of the greatest church heresies of all time, namely, the doctrine of hell.

From circa 590-1517 AD the doctrines and decrees of the Roman Church reigned supreme and dominated the western world where it controlled religion, philosophy, morals, politics, art and education, and became a very wealthy institution. This was the dark ages for true Judaism and the kingdom Gospel as Jesus had taught. The vital doctrines of the Biblical teachings of Jesus had, from all appearances, disappeared from the scene and mostly from history.

During these Dark Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church refused to allow Scripture to be available in any language other than Latin. Those in possession of non-Latin Scriptures were persecuted and sometimes even killed. Only priests were educated to understand Latin, and this gave the church ultimate power. Power to control and rule the masses without question. The Roman Catholic Church capitalized on this enforced ignorance of the peoples for over a thousand years.

The first hand-written English language Bible translation was produced circa 1380 by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar and theologian. Wycliffe translated it from the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to him. Pope Martin V was so infuriated by the activities of Wycliffe and his translation of the Bible into English such that 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, he ordered the bones of Wycliffe to be dug-up, crushed and scattered in a river!

In 1517 AD Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic German monk, openly confronted the unbiblical practices of Roman Catholicism. Luther famously posted his 95 theses in Latin to display his displeasure with the abuses of Roman Catholicism, most notably the sale of indulgences. This revolt by Martin Luther changed the course of western civilization by initiating the Protestant Reformation.

Martin Luther abandoned many of the unbiblical teachings and practices of Roman Catholicism. He had a degree of understanding of the biblical truth of Righteousness by Faith. However, sadly, Luther failed to see and believe the really Good News of the Gospel of Jesus that ultimately, God will grant the gift of God’s Righteousness to all people who accept His original Covenant, which extends beyond this age.

Martin Luther could not break loose from one of the greatest Roman Catholic heresies of all time, the doctrine of hell. This was because of the supremacy of the Latin Vulgate and the profound influence of Augustinian theology. Luther ended up leaving this life with an intense hatred and unforgiveness in his heart towards Jews.

Some of the most influential figures in Christendom; Tertullian, Constantine, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin, all believed in the doctrine of hell and all them were anti-Semitic in some sense, or more specifically they were purveyors of making the New Testament superior to the Hebrew Bible. They wanted to leave the Jewish "Old Testament" as subordinate to the greek versions of the New Testament.

It is not surprising that the anti-semitic translators of the KJV (1611 AD) were greatly influenced, both directly and indirectly, by the Latin Vulgate and they simply copied many of the translation errors made by the Latin Vulgate in support of the doctrine of hell. Do you know that the KJV was originally published with the spurious books of the Apocrypha, as contained in the Latin Vulgate?

The KJV was the standard version of the Bible for Protestant Christianity for nearly 350 years and it has been translated into many languages. The KJV has had a major influence on formulating the traditional Protestant Christian doctrine of hell, which is of course similar to the Roman Catholic doctrine of hell.

Many subsequent versions of the Bible have corrected translation errors found in the KJV to varying degrees. However, the most popular versions of the Bible like the NIV, the NKJV, the NAS, the RSV and others have still retained the basic translation errors, which support the doctrine of hell. Some versions of the Bible like YLT (Young’s Literal Translation) have been true to the literal meanings of the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts and they have entirely eliminated the doctrine of hell from the Bible.

The false teaching of the doctrine of hell is a heresy of the greatest proportion. It changes the great victory won by Jesus by his substitutionary death which paid the penalty for our sins. It is about time that Christians worldwide woke up to the truth of the scripture, which tells us that Jesus (not the demi-god "Jesus") is the Savior of the world. It is about time they broke free from the false teaching and belief in the doctrine of hell, one of the greatest church heresies of all time.

The Mistranslations of Sheol & Hades
The concept of ‘eternal punishment in hell' is an unbiblical pagan doctrine embraced and christianized by the Roman Catholic Church in the early centuries of christianity, and made official when Jerome translated the Bible into Latin in 400 AD.

Jerome mistranslated and misinterpreted several key Hebrew and Greek words into the Latin Vulgate in support of the already established doctrine of hell of the Roman Catholic Church. The Latin Vulgate, as translated by Jerome, had such an overpowering dominance for over a thousand years that many subsequent Bible versions, especially the King James Version (KJV), have simply carried forward the translation and interpretation errors to varying degrees in support of the doctrine of hell.

The doctrine a fiery hell-dimension, and of everlasting punishment in hell is founded upon a combination of mistranslations and misinterpretations of the following Hebrew and Greek words:
• Mistranslations of the Hebrew word
sheol and the Greek words hades, tartarus and gehenna, to mean hell.
• Mistranslations of the time-related Hebrew word
owlam and the time-related Greek words aion and aionios, to mean everlasting when relating to God’s future punishment of unbelievers.

Hell is such an infinitely extreme and dreadfully fearful doctrine with respect to the fate of unbelievers, who are the vast majority of humanity, that surely God would have inspired clear, unambiguous statements about it in the scriptures. Also, one would expect Bible translators, experts in the Hebrew and Greek languages, to be in complete agreement on how many times the word ‘hell’ occurs in the Bible. But the shocking fact is that the opposite is true.

When we examine how often the word ‘hell’ occurs in various versions of the Bible from the Latin Vulgate onwards, we are shocked to see how widely Bible translators differ in their opinion and understanding of the word ‘hell’, as demonstrated by the table below.

Number of times the word ‘Hell’ occurs in the following Bible Versions


You will note that the Latin Vulgate mentions hell
101 times, which is the highest number of times the word hell occurs when compared to all of the other Bible versions. Actually, the number of times hell occurs in the Latin Vulgate is even greater than 101 times, but for comparison purposes with the Protestant Bibles, we have not included the number of times hell occurs in the additional books of the Apocrypha contained in the Latin Vulgate.

All of the popular Protestant Bible versions like the King James Version (KJV), the American Standard Version (ASV), the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the New International Version (NIV) and the New King James Version (NKJV)
do not agree with the Latin Vulgate nor between themselves as to the number of times the word hell appears in the Bible.

Only in the Latin Vulgate, the KJV and the NKJV does the word hell appear in the Old Testament of the Bible, but even these versions have wide disagreements on the number of times hell occurs in the Old Testament. The Latin Vulgate mentions hell 77 times, whereas the KJV mentions hell 31 times and the NKJV mentions hell only 19 times.

All versions of the Bible except for these three, the Latin Vulgate, the KJV and the NKJV,
reject any notion of hell occurring in the original Hebrew Manuscripts of the Old Testament. Also, please especially note from the comparison table above that the translators of the Jewish Publication Society Bible and the Tanakh/The Complete Jewish Bible disagree with the Latin Vulgate, the KJV and the NKJV by making no mention of hell whatsoever in their Bibles. If the Jews, who are experts in their own language Hebrew, do not include hell in their Bibles, then this confirms that the word hell is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word sheol.

There are also several Bible versions that reject any notion of hell occurring in the original Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament of the Bible. Among others, these versions include Young’s Literal Translation and Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible.

These are amazing and shocking facts that should make any Christian stop in his tracks, and
start seriously questioning the validity of the doctrine of hell. Surely, the God of the Bible, who desires and wills all men to be saved, would have inspired clear, unambiguous statements in His Word about such an extreme doctrine as hell. This is absolutely not the case at all, as has been demonstrated.

The truth of the matter is that there
is not one single word in the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts of the Bible that means hell. As initially discussed in above, hell is a man-created tradition, based originally on philosophical and pagan beliefs, that were first embraced and indoctrinated by Roman Catholicism and incorporated into the Bible through the Latin Vulgate in the early history of Christianity. The Latin Vulgate reigned supreme for over a thousand years and the doctrine of hell became deeply entrenched into the psyche of the Christian world as if it were a true biblical doctrine. The King James Version (KJV) followed the Latin Vulgate in most of its translation errors and also mistranslated sheol, hades, tartarus and gehenna to mean hell.

The King James Version (KJV) published in 1611 was the only standard version of the Bible for English speaking Protestant Christians for nearly 350 years until the general acceptance of the Revised Standard Version (RSV) published in 1952. Therefore, the KJV has had a major influence on formulating the traditional Christian view of the doctrine of hell in Protestant Christianity.

In the original Hebrew Manuscripts, the Hebrew word
sheol occurs 65 times in the Old Testament, and it means the grave (the place of the dead) or the pit, as correctly translated by the KJV in 34 out of the 65 times it occurs in the Old Testament. However, shockingly and without any justification whatsoever, the KJV translates sheol 31 out of the 65 times to mean hell. As we have seen from the comparison table, all translators of the Bible versions except those who translated the Latin Vulgate, the KJV and the NKJV reject the interpretation of the Hebrew word sheol to mean hell.

The Greek word hades occurs 11 times in the original Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament and it is the direct equivalent of the Hebrew word
sheol, thus it also means the grave (the place of the dead) or the pit. Once again, the KJV translators have carried forward the errors of the Latin Vulgate by translating hades 10 times to mean hell, and only one time to mean the correct translation of the grave.

The Greek word
tartarus occurs only once in the original Manuscripts of the New Testament and it means a prison of spiritual darkness. Tartarus does not mean a place of eternal torment in hell. Translators of the KJV and some other versions of the Bible have erred once again, by copying the mistakes of the Latin Vulgate in mistranslating tartarus to mean hell.

The Greek word
gehenna occurs 12 times in the original Manuscripts of the New Testament, and for each and every time gehenna occurs, it has been mistranslated to mean hell by the KJV translators, who yet again followed the errors made by Jerome in the Latin Vulgate. In addition, all of the popular versions of the English Bible like the NKJV and the NIV also fell into the same trap of mistranslating gehenna to mean hell. However, Young’s Literal Translation version and several other versions of the Bible have left gehenna untranslated as it appears in the original Greek Manuscripts.

Let us be absolutely clear that Jesus
did not speak about hell. Jesus spoke about gehenna, not hell. Bible translators have mistranslated and misinterpreted the Greek word gehenna to mean hell, a place of eternal punishment for all unbelievers.

We need to understand the spiritual significance of the Greek word gehenna, and why Jesus used it to refer to God’s refining judgement of all unbelievers when they are cast into the Lake of Fire, on the Great White Throne Judgement Day.

The Lake of Fire represents both God’s
physical and spiritual cleansing of the earth and its heaven (earth’s atmosphere) during the Lake of Fire Judgement Age. This is all in preparation for the the restored Kingdom of God on Earth. The literal fire will cleanse the earth physically by melting the elements, and God’s Spiritual Fire will cleanse the earth spiritually by consuming the dross, scum and filth of wickedness and unbelief from the hearts of all resurrected unbelievers. The physical Lake of Fire will be an age-lasting fire and it will not be quenched until every unbeliever has been refined and purified, and reconciled to God by God’s Spiritual Fire, which is of course, eternal and unquenchable.

The most important point we need to emphasize is that
hell is an absolute mistranslation of the original Hebrew word sheol, and the Greek words hades, tartarus and gehenna. There is not a single word in any of the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts of the Bible that literally means a "hell-dimension", nor a place of everlasting punishment for unbelievers.

The Lazy Interpretations of Biblical Time

Above we discussed the mistranslation of the words sheol and gehenna. Next we will discuss the mistranslations of the hebrew into the word "everlasting". You will be shown from Scripture that the hebrew word owlam, and the greek words aion and aionios have also been mistranslated (in most popular versions of the Bible into "everlasting" when relating to God's future punishment of unbelievers) in support of the doctrine of a "hell-dimension".

Let us first begin our study by considering the translation of
aion. We shall consider both the correct and the incorrect translations of aion.

The Greek Word Aion & it's Mistranslation
In the original Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament, the Greek word aion occurs 128 times. Aion (eon in English) is a time-related word. It is translated in the Bible in the following two ways:

  1. A long period of time that begins and ends, meaning age or ages.
  2. A continuous never-ending period of time, meaning forever, everlasting or eternal.
Its context in Scripture dictates whether aion should be translated to mean an age/ages or forever/everlasting/eternal.

There are many instances in the Bible where aion can only mean forever. The context in the Bible always dictates whether aion means age/ages or forever.

Let us first give you some examples from the Bible where the context dictates that aion means an age or ages, and not forever.

Matthew 24:3
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when these things will be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age (aion)?”

The expression ‘
the end of the age’ is used several times in the Bible, which clearly shows that aion in certain contexts means an age, a time-period, which begins and ends. The KJV has preferred to translate aion in the majority of cases to mean ‘world’ where the Bible means age or ages. ‘World’ is a bad translation of aion because the Greek word for ‘world’ is kosmos and not aion. Also, when The Messiah returns, it will mark the end of the age, and not the end of the world (kosmos).

Let us now give you an example from the scripture to show you that it is legitimate to translate aion to mean forever, everlasting or eternal,
depending on the context.

Revelation 11:15
Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, "The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever (aion) and ever (aion)!"

The NKJV translators have translated aion in this verse to mean eternal or forever. Most Bible versions translate aion in this verse in a similar way, as the translators feel justified in translating aion to mean eternal, everlasting or forever when describing the eternal attributes of God. Remember that it is always
the context in Scripture that dictates whether aion means an age/ ages or forever/everlasting/eternal.

aion ever be translated to mean ‘everlasting’ when relating to God's future punishment of unbelievers? Absolutely not, and you don’t have to be an expert in the Greek language to be one hundred percent sure of this. Aion can never mean forever, everlasting or eternal when describing God’s judgement of unbelievers. Why not? Because, such translations contradict the Word of God, which says that God is the Saviour of the world, and the Savior of all men. Such mistranslations contradict many scriptures.

Most popular versions of the Bible like the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NAS and RSV translate aion to mean an
age or ages approximately 30% of the time, and to mean forever, everlasting or eternal approximately 70% of the time. However, sadly and shockingly these versions mistranslate aion to mean 'everlasting' when relating God's future judgement of unbelievers. They do this in support of the doctrine of hell, thus bringing contradictions into the Word of God. Here are examples of such mistranslations.

Mistranslations of Aion
Revelation 19:2-3
"For true and righteous are His judgments, because He has judged the great harlot who corrupted the earth with her fornication; and He has avenged on her the blood of His servants shed by her." Again they said, "Alleluia! Her smoke rises up forever (aion) and ever (aion)!"

In this scripture, as translated in the NKJV above and most other popular Bible versions, ‘Her smoke rises up forever and ever’ is a mistranslation of aion. The correct translation is ‘Her smoke rises up for an age of the ages’. The 'age of the ages' refers to Lake of Fire judgement Age when these unbelievers, who have been deceived by a false religious system (the great harlot) will be judged by God's Spiritual Refining Fire so that they come to repentance.

Revelation 20:10
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented (basanizo) day and night forever (aion) and ever (aion).

In this NKJV verse, both of the Greek words
aion and basanizo have been mistranslated to mean ‘And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever’.

The correct translation of this verse is, ‘
And they will be refined and purified day and night for an age of the ages’.

It is a sad and shocking fact that the translators of many popular Bible versions, especially the KJV, have been influenced by the Roman Catholic doctrine of hell as preached in the Latin Vulgate. Therefore, these translators have followed Jerome’s mistakes in the Latin Vulgate by also translating aion, when relating to the punishment of unbelievers after they die, to mean ‘everlasting’ punishment instead of the correct translation of ‘age-to-come’ punishment. Hence, they have brought contradictions into the Word of God, negating the most glorious truth of the Scripture that God is indeed the Savior of the world.

Let us now consider the translation of the Greek word
aionios, which has been similarly mistranslated in support of the false doctrine of hell.

Mistranslations of Aionios
As in the case of aion, the problem with the translation of aionios is that it is mistranslated to mean ‘everlasting’ punishment, when associated with God’s future punishment of unbelievers, to justify a belief in hell. A key example of such mistranslation is in Matthew 25:46.

Matthew 25:46
And these will go away into everlasting (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionios) life.

This verse is used as a very important ‘proof text’ by theologians to support the doctrine of eternal punishment in hell. Augustine, who championed the doctrine of hell, depended heavily on this single verse to argue the case for endless punishment of unbelievers in hell.

Augustine argued that Jesus used the same word
aionios to describe both the future punishment of unbelievers and the future life of the righteous. He incorrectly reasoned that since the future life of the righteous will be everlasting, then it necessarily follows that the future punishment of unbelievers will also be everlasting.

The problem Augustine had was that he believed the pagan doctrine of hell to be true, and he chose to ignorant in the ways of the Hebrews and their Scriptures of the Word of God. Augustine, uneducated in Greek, did not understand that the Greek words
aion and its adjective aionios are time-related words, which can be translated in one two ways depending on the context in Scripture, as explained earlier. He did not understand that it was legitimate to translate aionios to mean 'age-to-come' when relating it to God's future punishment of unbelievers.

Let us now examine this same verse, Matthew 25:46, as given in Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible.

Matthew 25:46 (YLT)
And these shall go away to punishment age-during (aionios), but the righteous to life age-during (aionios).

Notice that the literal translation of the original Greek word
aionios in its context here in Young’s Literal Translation is age-related. A better translation of aionios is "age-to-come" rather than "age-during".

Matthew 25:46
And these will go away into an age-to-come (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into an age-to-come (aionios) life.

This is the most frequently quoted verse used in defense of the doctrine of hell, but we can see that the true meaning of it is quite the opposite of what the doctrine of hell teaches. At the First Resurrection, when the Millennial Age begins,
believers will receive their age-to-come life, the fullness of their salvation, which will be Age-Lasting in the Reconstituted Kingdom of Israel. At the Second Resurrection when the Lake of Fire Judgement Age begins, unbelievers will receive their age-to-come punishment.

If Jerome and Augustine had believed the truth of the Gospel that Jesus is the Savior of the world like early Greek Church Fathers, such as Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa, then Christianity might have been spared the horrendous and unbiblical teaching of the doctrine of eternal torture in hell.

The Hebrew word Owlam
There are 439 occurrences of owlam in the original Hebrew Manuscripts of the Old Testament, and it is the exact equivalent of the time-related Greek words aion and aionios. Like aion and aionios, owlam is also translated in the Bible in two ways to mean:
  1. A long period of time that begins and ends, meaning age-lasting.
  2. A continuous never-ending period of time, meaning forever, everlasting or eternal.
Its context in Scripture dictates whether owlam means an age-lasting period of time or forever, everlasting or eternal. In the majority of the cases, owlam means forever, everlasting or eternal as shown in the examples given below.

Psalm 41:13
Blessed be the Adonay the Elohe of Yisra’el From everlasting (owlam) to everlasting (owlam)! Amen and Amen.

Psalm 118:29
Oh, give thanks to Adonay, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever (owlam).

Mistranslations of Owlam
Just as in the case of the Greek words aion and aionios, a major problem arises when owlam is mistranslated to mean ‘everlasting’ when relating to God's future judgement of unbelievers. Let us now consider a few examples of such mistranslations.

Jeremiah 17:4
And you, even yourself, Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn forever (owlam).

In this NKJV verse, the translation of owlam to mean that God’s anger against Israel will burn ‘forever’ is incorrect. It is a
mistranslation, unless forever is interpreted as ‘a figure of speech’ to mean that God’s anger will burn for a long time. Now, let us allow the Bible itself to show us that God’s anger does not burn forever.

Psalm 103:9
He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever (owlam).

This verse clearly states that God’s anger will not last forever, which is the opposite of what Jeremiah 17:4 above it says. As we know that the Bible does not and cannot contradict itself, then these statements cannot both be true at the same time. The only way to reconcile both statements is to translate owlam to give its correct meaning of
a long time or age in the context dictated by the scripture Jeremiah 17:4. So, a correct translation of this verse is:

Jeremiah 17:4
And you, even yourself, Shall let go of your heritage which I gave you; And I will cause you to serve your enemies In the land which you do not know; For you have kindled a fire in My anger which shall burn for a long time (owlam).

God’s anger against Israel, because of its rebellion, will last for a long time. However, it will not last forever, because God has promised to remember the sins of Israel no more through the Renewed Covenant. God will make Israel a great nation of blessing and save all Israel.

Let us give one more example of a mistranslation of

Daniel 12:2
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting (owlam) life, Some to shame and everlasting (owlam) contempt.

The first translation of
owlam as ‘everlasting’ life is acceptable because we know that the age-to-come life, which believers will receive at Jesus’ return is indeed everlasting. The second translation of owlam as ‘everlasting’ contempt is a mistranslation because it creates a contradiction in the Word of God. It contradicts God’s Plan of the Ages for Reconciliation. A correct translation of this verse is:

Daniel 12:2
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to age-to-come (owlam) life, some to shame and age-to-come (owlam) contempt.

Both Young’s Literal Translation and Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible translate this verse in a similar manner. Let us understand the proper meaning of this verse. This verse is similar to Matthew 24:46 already discussed in this chapter.

age-to-come life is the resurrected immortal life in The Messiah that all believers will receive in the First Resurrection at the beginning of the next age, the Millennial Age, which starts at the return of Jesus. The age-to-come contempt refers to God’s Lake of Fire Judgement Age, when all unbelievers will be judged after they rise at the Second Resurrection in their immortal, yet still unsaved bodies.

Besides aion, aionios and owlam, there are other time-related words in the Bible, which are the Greek word aidios and the Hebrew words ad and netsach. On a few occasions, these words are also mistranslated in many popular versions of the Bible to mean ‘everlasting’ when relating to God's future judgement of unbelievers, in support of the false doctrine of hell.

Translators of the Bible have a
clear choice to make when translating any of the above- mentioned time-related words when related to God’s future judgement of unbelievers. This choice is whether to translate these words to mean ‘everlasting’ in support of the pagan unbiblical doctrine of hell, thus bringing contradictions into the Word of God, or to translate them to mean ‘age-to-come’ in support of God’s future corrective age-lasting judgement of unbelievers, which is in line with the Word of God.

Any translation of these words to mean ‘everlasting’ when relating to God's future judgement of unbelievers is a
mistranslation. Such mistranslations contradict the Word of God and negate the Gospel of Jesus.

Jesus’s Words are Misunderstood and Mistranslated

Hell believing Christians argue that Jesus Himself preached more about hell than any other person in the Bible. In this section, we shall see how, where and why Christians misunderstand and mistranslate Jesus’ words. However, before we do this, let us first highlight three scriptures spoken by Jesus.

John 12:32-33 (NIV)
But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself. He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.

This is a powerful scripture clearly proves that Jesus did not believe in hell. Jesus was crucified on the execution stake (cross) as the ordained Son of God to begin ushering in the new age of Restoration, (1 John 2:2). Ultimately, in God’s time and His order, which extends beyond this age, Jesus says that He will
draw all to Himself. Please note, the original Greek Manuscripts simply say in verse 32, ‘But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all to myself’.

Matthew 21:31
Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said to Him, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you."

In this verse, Jesus directly addresses the Jewish chief priests, Pharisees and elders who confronted Him in the temple and questioned His authority. Let the truth of this scripture sink deep down into your heart. What is Jesus saying here? Jesus is saying that these Jewish chief priests, Pharisees and elders, who crucified Him,
will enter the Kingdom of God, but not before tax collectors and harlots. Do we believe Jesus’ words? Surely, this was an opportunity for Jesus to warn these chief priests, Pharisees and elders about hell, but instead Jesus says that even they are destined to enter the Kingdom of God. Did Jesus believe in hell? Did Jesus create a new place and establish in defiance of his Father? No.

Let us now examine in detail what Jesus is supposed to have said about ‘hell’ in the relevant verses, and understand how they have all been misunderstood and mistranslated by hell believing Christians.

What is the Gehenna Fire?
Matthew 18:9
And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell (gehenna) fire.

Yes, there is going to be a future
gehenna fire awaiting all unbelievers in the Lake of Fire on the Day of Judgement, but it will not be an eternal hell fire as mistranslated in this NKJV verse above. It is important to understand the spiritual significance and the meaning of the Greek word gehenna, which occurs 12 times in the New Testament; all except one of these times are from the lips of Jesus Himself.

Gehenna takes its name from a valley located in Jerusalem called the
Valley of Hinnom. It is necessary to know the historical facts related to this valley for us to understand the meaning and spiritual significance of the word gehenna.

The Hinnom Valley is a deep, narrow ravine located in Jerusalem. It had a very horrendous history in ancient times. It was used as a place where the pagan worshipers did all sorts of vile and wicked things - including burning children alive as sacrifices to the idols Moloch and Bal. After their return from Babylon, the Jews turned the Hinnom Valley into the city dump where garbage and anything deemed unclean (including the bodies of executed criminals) was incinerated. For that purpose, a fire was kept constantly burning there. Even though it was no longer used for evil worship, with all the filth and thick smoke it remained a very dark and dreary place."

After examining all biblical references where
gehenna is used, it is clear that Jesus used the imagery of the Valley of Hinnom to describe the future fiery judgement of unbelievers during the Lake of Fire Judgement Age. Therefore, the important question facing us is, 'Why did Jesus use the imagery of the Valley of Hinnom to describe the future age-to-come Lake of Fire judgement of unbelievers?’

It is interesting to note that the present day Valley of Hinnom is nothing like what is described above. The Israeli government transformed the Valley of Hinnom into a garden. We believe that this transformation has a prophetic and spiritual significance.

Let us be absolutely clear that Jesus
did not speak about hell. Jesus spoke about gehenna and not hell. Bible translators have misunderstood mistranslated the Greek word gehenna to mean hell, a place of “everlasting torment” for all unbelievers.

The Valley of Hinnom is associated with death, fire, rubbish, dung, shame and darkness. All these words have spiritual meanings. Unbelievers are not fit to enter the Kingdom of God in their state of unbelief being clothed in the filthy rags of their self-righteousness and unrighteous works. They are spiritually dead and in darkness. Their self-righteousness and unrighteous works, just like filthy rags, are rubbish and only fit for throwing away to be burnt.

Unbelievers are of no use to God whatsoever
until and unless they have first been humbled, repented and refined by God’s Fire, which is both physical and spiritual. The purpose of God’s Lake of Fire is to instill the fear of God, to soften and humble the fallen hardened hearts of resurrected unbelievers. It will prepare unbelievers to freely and thankfully accept the gift of God’s salvation through repentance and acceptance of His Covenant. God's standard for entering the Kingdom of God never changes, whether it is in this age or a future age. Our salvation is always through acceptance of His Covenant and obedience to His Law, and it is always by faith in the blood of Jesus shed on the execution stake for the sins of the whole world.

Jesus uses strong words and terminology to describe the corrective judgement of unbelievers in the Lake of Fire, in gehenna.

Everlasting fire
Matthew 18:8
If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the age-lasting (aionios) fire.

Matthew 25:41
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, you cursed, into age-lasting (aionios) fire, prepared for the adversary and his messengers.

In these NKJV scriptures, like in most other popular Bible versions, the time-related Greek word
aionios is mistranslated to mean 'everlasting', in support of the doctrine of hell, instead of the correct translation of 'age-lasting'. We have already fully covered the mistranslation of aionios above.

There is no such thing as ‘everlasting hell fire’. Yes, there will be a future age-to-come,
age-lasting Lake of Fire judgement for unbelievers and for the Adversary and his False Prophets, but this is not an everlasting hell fire judgement.

All unrepentant people will perish
Matthew 10:28
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy (apollymi) both soul and body in hell (gehenna).
In this NKJV scripture, the Greek word gehenna has once again been mistranslated as hell.

The Messiah says that we must not fear men who at worst can only kill us physically, but they cannot 'kill the soul' meaning they cannot take away the resurrected immortal life, which God will grant to all people. However, we need to fear and obey God in this life, because if we don't then there is a judgement awaiting us in gehenna, meaning in the Lake of Fire, on the Great White Throne Judgement Day.

Notice in the verse above how The Messiah once again uses the same word
apollymi. The destruction (apollymi) of ‘both soul and body' in gehenna refers to the Second Death, which is the spiritual death of the ‘old man' in the Lake of Fire. Our sinful Adamic 'old man' must first be destroyed before the righteous ‘new man' in The Messiah can be born in us. All unbelievers, who will rise at the Second Resurrection in their immortal yet still unsaved bodies, will die the Second Death in the Lake of Fire.

It should now be abundantly clear that when Jesus uses the Greek word
apollymi when related to the future judgement of unbelievers in gehenna (mistranslated as hell), He does not mean that unbelievers will tortured for eternity. Jesus is clearly referring to the future age-lasting refining judgement of all unbelievers during the Lake of Fire Judgement Age.

John 3:16
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish (apollymi) but have age-lasting life.

This is the verse most frequently quoted by Christians. However, the true meaning of this scripture is distorted by hell believing Christians. God so loved the world that He gave His Son Jesus to show us the path to righteousness. Only true believers have everlasting life by faith and obedience now, and they will come into the actuality of it when they rise in their saved immortal bodies in the First Resurrection when The Messiah returns. However, all unbelievers will rise in the Second Resurrection, in their unsaved immortal bodies, and they will need to perish in God’s corrective Lake of Fire judgement. If they accept His Covenant and obey His Law they will become born again believers however if they refuse they will be swept from existence in the Second Death in the Lake of Fire.

Where their worm does not die
Psalm 22:6 But I am a worm, and no man; A reproach of men, and despised by the people.

Psalm 22 is a Messianic Psalm. It is a prophecy of the suffering of Jesus on the stake. Jesus humbled Himself on the stake for the sins of the whole world so that we might have a chance at God's Righteousness and the gift of Salvation.

In Psalm 22:6 above, Jesus categorically says that He is a Worm. On the stake, Jesus humbled Himself like a worm for all of mankind and we must learn from His example of great humility. All hardhearted unbelievers will be humbled in the Lake of Fire and come to understand the sacrifice of their Saviour.

Weeping and gnashing of teeth
Jesus had some very strong words to say to the Pharisees, because He absolutely hated their self-righteousness. The Pharisees believed that they would be amongst the first to enter the Kingdom of God, but Jesus said quite the opposite.

Matthew 21:31
Jesus said to them (the Pharisees), "Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you.

Self-righteous Pharisees and self-righteous Christians, who think that they are the sons of the kingdom, will be absolutely shocked on the Day of Judgement to find themselves outside of the Kingdom of God in spiritual darkness, and many sinners, like tax collectors and harlots whom they condemned, enter the Kingdom of God before them.

These religious self-righteous people will
weep because of great disappointment and gnash their teeth in despair and anger because all of their religious works were a complete waste of time, and to no avail for their salvation.

Matthew 8:12
But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Jesus taught that the Pharisees and their man-made laws were the problem. The Pharisees forced the Hebrews to accept and abide by these laws because they assumed it would buy them favor with God, getting them closer to paradise. Jesus taught that the only Law to follow was his Father’s original Law.
More tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, and for Sodom and Gomorrah

Matthew 11:20-22
Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent: Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.

When Jesus walked on earth, He did many
mighty works in the towns and cities of Israel, but most of the Jews did not accept Him as the Son of God and did not repent of their unbelief. Jesus says that these Jews are accountable for their unbelief, and on the Day of Judgement they will face a greater level of judgement than Tyre and Sidon, who would have repented if they had witnessed Jesus doing similar mighty works.

Matthew 10:14-15
And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Day of Judgment than for that city!

On the Day of Judgement, Jesus says that all unbelievers will not face the same level of judgement. Those who hear the true Gospel of Jesus and then reject it will undergo a greater level of judgement; yes, even greater than Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed by fire because of their sexual abominations.

The Bible is clear that there will be different levels of judgement, punishment and humbling experiences for unbelievers in the future Lake of Fire Judgement Age. However,
all of God's judgements flow out of His love and are designed to lead people to repentance and belief in their Savior, and not to an eternal torture in hell.

What about everlasting punishment?
Matthew 25:46 And these will go away into everlasting (aionios) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (aionios) life.

We fully looked into this mistranslated verse in the previous section. This verse is the most frequently quoted verse used in defence of the doctrine of hell. The correct translation of this verse, as given below, reveals God's merciful age-to-come judgement of all unbelievers in the Lake of Fire, and not an everlasting tormenting judgement in a place called 'hell'.

Matthew 25:46
And these will go away into an age-to-come punishment, but the righteous into an age-to-come life.

What about Judas?

Matthew 26:24
The Son of man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.

If the doctrine of hell were true, then it would be better for most people not to have been born, because traditional Christianity believes that the overwhelming majority of people end up in hell. If this were the case, then all women should immediately stop having children, because the chances are that most if not all of their children would end up in hell.

The meaning the verse above is that it would have been better for Judas not to have been born to
betray Jesus, because Judas will have to go through God's Lake of Fire judgement before he can be reconciled to God. Let us further understand why Jesus says that it would have been better for Judas not to have been born to betray Him.

John 17:12
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.

John 13:18
I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, 'He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me'.

These verses refer to Judas. It was written in the Old Testament that Judas would betray Jesus (Psalm 41:9). It may be hard for us to understand that Judas was chosen right from the foundation of the world to betray Jesus. Think about it, if Judas had not betrayed Jesus, then we would not have a Saviour. Judas understood the way of Righteousness, but then he rejected it. He was called, but not chosen.

What about the 'unpardonable sin'?
Matthew 12:31-32
Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Ruach haKodesh, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

The Pharisees blasphemed against the
Ruach haKodesh by falsely attributing the miraculous works performed by Jesus through the Ruach haKodesh to the works of demons. Jesus says that the sins of these unbelieving Pharisees will not be forgiven during ‘this age’, which was the age when Jesus was alive, nor will their sins be forgiven during ‘the age to come’, meaning the next age (the present age) after Jesus was resurrected. In other words, these unbelieving Pharisees all died unforgiven. However, please note that the sin of blasphemy against the Ruach haKodesh remains unforgiven for ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come’ only, but not forever.

All unbelievers will be humbled and repent during the Lake of Fire Judgement Age, and all of them will be forgiven. No doubt, the Pharisees who blasphemed against the
Ruach haKodesh are also included in that group, and they will repent, be forgiven, and be reconciled to God in the Lake of Fire Judgement Age, and enter the restored Kingdom of God.

What about the resurrection of condemnation?
John 5:28-29
Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth - those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation (krisis).

Please note that the Greek word
krisis has been translated as condemnation and should have been more accurately translated as judgement (Strong's G2920).

The Bible speaks about
two resurrections, the First Resurrection and the Second Resurrection, which are separated by the thousand-year Millennial Age of Christ's rule on this earth. The First Resurrection is the resurrection of life when the Set Apart Believers, Elohim’s Elect Bride of Jesus, will be raised in their saved immortal bodies at the Second Coming of Jesus.

The Second Resurrection is both the resurrection of life
and the resurrection of judgement. The Second Resurrection occurs when the rest of humanity are resurrected at the end of Jesus’ Millennial Age, when the Lake of Fire Judgement Age begins. This is when all who lived during Jesus’ Millennial Age will be offered the Truth and given the chance to accept it and to join Elohim’s Elect Bride of Jesus, the Set Apart Believers, from the First Resurrection. However, all unbelievers from throughout the Ages will be resurrected in their unsaved immortal bodies for judgement (krisis) in God's refining wrath.

Additional Misunderstood Texts
There are some additional scriptures in the Scriptures, not directly spoken by Jesus, but used by hell believing Christians to give support to the doctrine of hell. Let us now examine three of these texts.

Isaiah 66:23-24
And it shall come to pass That from one New Moon to another, And from one Sabbath to another, All flesh shall come to worship before Me," says the LORD. And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me. For their worm does not die, And their fire is not quenched. They shall be abhorrence to all flesh."

With any given scripture, it is important to understand the age-setting in which it is placed. As we have shown in this book, God is working out His wonderful Plan for the salvation and reconciliation of all in seven biblical ages.

The age-setting of Isaiah 66:23-24 above is at the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom of God, after The Messiah has destroyed the vast armies of invading Gentiles, Gog and Magog, at the battle of Armageddon.
‘And they shall go forth and look Upon the corpses of the men Who have transgressed against Me’

These corpses are the huge armies of dead Gentile unbelievers, Gog and Magog, who will fight in the final great battle of Armageddon, which will take place at the end of this present age. Jesus Himself will put an end to this war at His Second Coming. At the beginning of Jesus’ Millennial Age, all around Jerusalem in God's Promised Land, there will be millions of dead bodies of soldiers who came to attack Jerusalem in this last great battle. It will take as long as seven months to bury these corpses (Ezekiel 39:11-16).

‘For their worm does not die, And their fire is not quenched’
See the previous explanation of this, in this section.
‘They shall be abhorrence to all flesh’

Once again, this refers to the corpses of the huge armies of Gentile unbelievers, Gog and Magog. All surviving Set Apart Believers in the Millennial Kingdom will abhor the sight of the millions of rotting and stinking corpses in their land, which will take seven months for them to bury.

A "hell" dimension reserved for "eternal punishment" and ruled by a "Satan" figure does not exist. Neither the Hebrew Bible, nor Jesus taught of the modern mythological interpretation of "hell". The whole purpose of Jesus being sent by his Father, our God was to be our guide to following God’s Word and living the Covenant. He is ‘the sent one’, the unique agent of YHWY, the High Priest mediating between God and Man. His reason for dying on the cross, was to be the symbolic sacrificial lamb, a symbolic martyr to show that even death cannot destroy man’s bond with their Father. He learned and demonstrated uniquely pure obedience to God's true (NOT Rabbinic) eternal instructions (torah), thus becoming perfect through his own efforts as a man. It is because of this perfect obedience Jesus became the author and perfecter of our faith and merited the unique and supremely exalted status God has given him.

According to the 2nd Temple end-times beliefs that Jesus taught, he will return at the time appointed to finally fulfill the promises of a worldwide "Kingdom of God" on earth (not in "heaven" as christianity erroneously teaches, thus confusing and frustrating the actual "gospel of the Kingdom" message)! This establishment of a Kingdom does NOT include a literal “Hell” as christianity has erroneously inserted into scripture and christian doctrine. It is that Kingdom on Earth that actually constitutes the real "gospel" of Scripture with Jesus’ atoning work as part of that "good news".

Essay excerpted & aggregated from:
Day, Peggy L.
An Adversary in Heaven: Satan in the Hebrew Bible. Scholars Press, 1988
Wray, T.J.
The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots. St. Martin’s Press, 2005
Pagels, Elaine.
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics. Random House, 1995

Who is “Satan”, Really?
There is a vast difference between whom
haSatan of the Old Testament, the Satan of the Gospels of Jesus, and the Devil/Satan of the christian “New Testament”. They are not one in the same, and in fact the christian Devil/ Satan is wholly different creature apart from the haSatan/Adversary of Jesus and the Old Testament.

haSatan designates a messenger of God entrusted with a particular task. He is the Public Prosecutor or District Attorney, who brings men's guilt to God's remembrance. Hence in the Hebrew Scriptures he is also called the 'adversary', 'persecutor', or 'accuser. That such an occupation does not necessarily presuppose an evil character is clear from the fact that men of God are also expected to uncover human guilt (Elijah: I Kings 17:18). For instance when the Satan (or Accuser) attacks the High Priest Joshua (Zech. 3:1-5), who as his polluted garments indicate is by no means free from guilt, or when (Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7), while attending the heavenly council as one of the b'nai elohim he describes the piety of Job as very much in need of testing, he is only doing his duty, and comes in the same class as the mal'ak-mashit. If an allusion to the role of the public prosecutor at the courts of the Asiatic kings (echoed in the mazkir 'awon of Ezek. 21:28; 29:16) is justified, then we would have to see in the Satan, as in the heavenly vizier, an official of the celestial court modeled on the pattern of earthly empires.

Not only the fact that this description is in entire conformity with the Hebrew conception of messengers of God (angels) but also the good Hebrew root of the name
satan argues against the borrowing of this figure from foreign sources. Both the verb satan, to 'persecute', 'make war upon', and so to 'attack with accusations', to 'accuse, and the noun satan, 'adversary', 'opponent, are also used of human beings. In addition the messenger of God who according to Num. 22:22, 32 opposes Balaam does so as a Satan: l'Satan, that is, as an adversary. That this genuinely Hebraic conception of the Satan is fairly ancient may be deduced from the fact that the prologue to the Book of Job is based on an older popular story.

Even if, however, no qualitatively new element is introduced into the general conception of angels, it remains noteworthy that it should be the popular religion which imports the figure of the Satan into the literature, and that prophecy makes use of it only in its later phase. One feels that in earlier times the spiritual leaders of Israel found it unnecessary to speak of this figure—a sign that it is not yet of central importance.

I Chron. 21:1 introduces a slight change into the narrative inasmuch as here the tempting of David to number the people is ascribed not to God, as in the parallel passage in II Sam. 24:1, but to Satan. This is remarkable in two ways. First, the accuser is now given a proper name,
satan, and is no longer haSatan. This shows that by the fourth century in Israel the concept of a supernatural adversary had solidified into a quite definite, sharply delineated figure. Secondly, temptation to evil is now associated with this being. The faith of the earlier period felt compelled to think of God's activity in as comprehensive terms as possible, and therefore ascribed evil to him as well. Now this part of the divine operations is to a certain extent detached from God and made into an independent hypostasis, In this way the preconditions were established for introducing into religious thought an evil spirit, the originator of evil, as a superhuman focus of all sin.

It is not, however, possible to say more on this point solely on the basis of the passage just cited. The elaboration and dogmatic formulation of the idea took place, strictly speaking, not within the Old Testament but in the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha which were heavily influenced by other sources and not just Jewish tradition. It is true nevertheless that one can point to certain passages in the Old Testament where there are slight glimmerings of the idea of a superhuman being hostile to God. Such is Gen. 3, where, while it is true that to the mind of the narrator the serpent cannot have been more than one of the beasts of the field, endowed merely with special cunning, yet there is a hint of a demonic character. For in the present form of the story the serpent's awareness of the effect of the tree of knowledge, and its bitter enmity against God, remain unexplained, and involuntarily recall the demons in serpent form who figure in the mythology of almost all peoples. To this extent the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon is not so very far wrong when he expounds Gen. 3 in the sense that in the serpent the
diablos was at work (Wisd. 2.24); and on the basis of Rev. 12:1 and 20:2 the christian church has sided with him.

Another passage on which the faith of the christian church has fastened, and not altogether without justification, is Gen. 6:1-4, which has already been mentioned. However impermissible it may be to look here for a theory of the origin of evil, and even though it is plain that the story is fragmentary and intentionally unclear, nevertheless we are not entitled to say that no ethical standard at all is applied to the action of the
b'nai elohim. The incident is undoubtedly felt to be an outrage against God; and as soon as the development of the concept of Satan led men to the idea that the origin of evil was to be sought in the angelic order, then inevitably they turned to this narrative. It is true that in so doing they were going beyond the intention of the ancient narrator, but they had not incorrectly sensed the original meaning of his story, which he had, in fact, suppressed.

Finally, mention must be made of the
halal of Isa. 14:12, the bright star and son of the dawn, who wished to take heaven by storm in order to set up his throne higher than the stars of God. This figure of a Titanic assailant of heaven was undoubtedly used by Isaiah only as a poetic simile for the outrageous self-aggrandizement of the earthly world-ruler. But behind it stands a myth, stemming indeed from paganism, of the rebellion of an angelic being against the most high God, which ended in his being thrown down into the underworld. When this bright star was named in the Latin translation Lucifer, and interpreted by Tertullian and Gregory the Great through association with Luke 10:18 as Satan, once again the influence of the pre-Israelite view came to life.

The conception of a supernatural power of evil would seem to be more strongly spiritualized in the genuinely Israelite
ruach haNevi'im (spirit of the prophets) of Zech. 13.2. This is related to the ruah zenunim (spirit of harlotry) of Hos. 4:12; 5:4, which appears as an evil spiritual power of independent operation, and in some sense anticipates the substance of the Satan concept. As the antithesis of the ruach hypostasis by which fullness of life and moral strength are communicated to the congregation of God it holds sway among men as a permanent power of impurity, to be extirpated only by Yahweh in the age of salvation. The people cannot of themselves do away with it, for it is supernatural in character. Related to this is the vision of Zech. 5:7, where iniquity appears as a woman who by the power of the angels is removed from the people of the age of salvation. Strangely enough these two conceptions exerted no influence on future developments.

The spiritual process which led to the dogmatic formulation of the idea of Satan may therefore be characterized by saying that concepts suppressed in the Old Testament awake to new life in later Judaism. For instance, I Enoch 15. provides an explicit description of the fall of the angels and their subsequent punishment. However, considering the pseudepigraphic nature of the Book of Enoch, speculation regarding the historical authenticity about the fall of the angels must be rejected on the basis of the Old Testament itself as unbiblical.

The suggestion that the influence of Persian religion, in which the evil spirit
Angrya Mainyu played so great a part, also affected this process is not to be dismissed out of hand. At least the Book of Tobit shows unquestionable influence of Persian demonological beliefs; it is the Persian name Aeshma Daeva which is modified into that of the evil spirit Asmodeus. Hence the possibility cannot be ruled out that stimuli from this quarter may have affected developments in the Hellenistic period, when the individual figure of Satan was surrounded by a kingdom of ministering spirits which gradually grew into a counterpart of the transcendent divine world, and in which all the forces of evil upon earth found their real support and source of power. But the dualism which the Persian religion never overcame, and which is implicit in the eternity of the evil as well as the good spirit, at no time became proper to the concept of Satan. Isa. 45:7 et al. seem indeed to be direct polemic against such an idea.

Where does the "devil" of christianity come from?
In the 4th century AD Saint Augustine (354-430 AD) invented a new type of demon - a kind of sexual tormentor. Incubi were male fallen angels who sexually attacked women at night time and brought them immense sexual pleasure. Succubae were female fallen angels who coupled with men during their sleep. Their existence was confirmed by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274). Aquinas also believed that the devil is the cause of sin, and "was probably the very highest angel who, through pride, fell immediately after creation, seducing those who followed him to become his subjects."

The Roman Catholic church's Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 determined that: "
The devil and the demons were also created by God; at the moment of their creation, they were not evil; they became so through their own sins, and ever since they have busied themselves with the temptation of men."

The church taught that pastimes and spirituality outside of orthodox Christianity are a form of Satan worship. This included astrology, ceremonial magick, divination, pagan and rituals of other religions, etc. Once other religious faiths are considered as forms of Satan worship, then the worse excesses of religious intolerance and genocide can follow. The church exterminated the Cathars as devil worshipers in the 13th Century, and killed off the Knights Templar in the 14th century. Other non-conforming religious groups were similarly targeted and wiped out.

Religious dualism, originating with the Zoroastrians, and filtered through Judaism, reached its logical conclusion in Christianity. If God has innumerable angels as messengers, and a visible church of believers, it was reasoned that Satan must have demons as helpers and an invisible assembly of Satan worshipers. And so, the church imagined the existence of an entire network of people who had sold their soul to Satan, worshiped him, and dedicated their life to harming and killing other people. With the exception of some mentally ill individuals, no such network existed.

In the 14th century, Nicholas Eymerich, a Dominican, wrote a tract called "
Directorium Inquisitorum", or the "Handbook of the Inquisitors." He described three forms of Devil worship:
Latria: praising Satan and flagellating oneself
Dulia: "combining the names of demons with those of the blessed"
• "curious practices, including the use of the magic circle and other necromancies such as love potions, magical philters and talismans."

Near the end of the 15th century, two Dominicans by the name of Henry Kraemer and Jacques Sprenger wrote a book: "
Malleus Maleficorum" or ”Witches Hammer”. It became the legal reference book of the Witch burning times. The book was inspired by an irrational combination of hatred of women, fear of sexuality, and ignorant religious superstition. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people were accused of Satan worship, tortured until they confessed, and burned at the stake. Although the Inquisition is generally associated with the witch burnings, it was the civil courts who were responsible for most trials.

The Inquisitors prosecuted this activity with the greatest thoroughness; they feared that if even one Satanist were left alive, the church would be in danger. Their rationale for the torture/murder of heretics was very simple: their victims were destined for eternal torment in Hell because of their beliefs. By torturing them until they recanted their faith and accepted Christianity, they had a chance to attain heaven. And then, of course, the church burned them alive so that they could not revert to their original heresy. A few hours or days of pain on earth was a great bargain if it avoided eternal torture in Hell. For 3 centuries, western Europe was caught in an orgy of demonic superstition. The last European heretic was burned alive at the stake in Poland during 1792.

When the Church of England split from Roman Catholicism, they abandoned the baptism-exorcism ritual. The Protestant churches also rejected it at the time of the Reformation. The Protestant churches continued to kill religious heretics. The main difference was that they used less torture and adopted a less painful method of execution -- they hung their victims instead of burning them alive.

The church taught that Satan can appear as an angel of light. Thus the Inquisition might charge a person with Satan worship if they claimed to have had an angelic vision. The Witch-Heretic burning times came to a halt, late in the 18th century. The rationale of the Inquisition still matched church belief - that by forcing heretics to recant their faith, they might avoid eternal torture in Hell. But people simply grew to understand that whatever demonic-inspired religious activity there was in western Europe in the 15th to the 18th century, it was mostly used as a tool of the church for political purposes, and not in any supposed Satan worshipers.

In the 19th century, a very small group of theologians began to question the existence of Satan. They concluded that: "Jesus and his disciples drew their demonology from the common life of the period rather than from Scripture, so that the concept of Satan is not a permanent element in Christian doctrine." However, this hasnʼt changed the purposeful push of “God versus Devil” propaganda that continues to poison the Original Teachings of Yahoshua haMashiyach. What is propagated in almost all aspects of christianity to this day is a blatant paganistic lie with no true scriptural basis or support.

So Who or What is Lucifer?
to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition, “Lucifer” is a Latin word meaning “light-bearing,” and is used in one of three ways:
1. Used as a name for the devil
2. The planet Venus when appearing as the morning star
3. A friction match having as active substances antimony sulfide and potassium chlorate

A more detailed description of point #3 can be found in the word “
luciferin” (from the Latin word Lucifer), which speaks of any of various organic substances in luminescent organisms (like fireflies) that upon oxidation produce a virtually heatless light. So the next time you see a firefly, you can call it by its Latin name Lucifer.

Checking the Dictionary of Proper Names and Places in the Bible, there is no mention of the name Lucifer. According to the authors, the only three
malakhim (angels) named in Scripture are Raphael (who is mentioned in the Apocrypha), Gabriel, and Michael. So why would they leave Lucifer, undeniably a large part of the christian tradition, completely out of the picture?

In his 1967 book
A Dictionary of Angels, which probably names just about every angelic being known to religion, mythology and the occult, Gustav Davidson tells us that Lucifer is “erroneously equated with the fallen angel (Satan) due to a misreading of Isaiah 14:12.” There are, however, many other, more legitimate sources that do not recognize Lucifer as Satan. A short list would include Matthew Henryʼs Commentary, The Anchor Bible Dictionary, The Illustrated Dictionary and Concordance of the Bible, Smithʼs Bible Dictionary, and The Collegeville Bible Commentary, to name but a few.

Youngʼs Analytical Concordance to the Bible gives us the following:
Lucifer, shining one. A translation of helel applied to the king of Babylon by Isaiah, in reference to his glory and pomp.

Once again, we have no mention whatsoever of a once-perfect archangel, Satan, or the Devil. Why? Please take note to whom the passage in Isaiah 14 is primarily directed:

That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! The golden city ceased!” (Verse 4 – KJV)

The whole chapter in Isaiah 14 appears to be nothing more than a taunt directed against the king of Babylon (probably Nebuchadnezzar), who is told that his pride and splendor would be brought down to the grave. So how (or why) did Lucifer become Satan? And is it possible that the king of Babylon is being used symbolically to describe Satan?

How Lucifer Became Satan: Two Possibilities
Upon researching this issue, anyone will came across something very unusual. Although the name Lucifer is used only once in the entire Bible, it can actually be found twice in The Englishmanʼs Hebrew Concordance of the Old Testament, rendered as such by two different Hebrew words. How can this be? Apparently, there seems to be some dispute over the original Hebrew word that is used here. According to the Englishmanʼs Concordance, here are the two different renderings of the same Latin word Lucifer:

Heylel (Strongs #1966): from #1984 (in the sense of brightness); the morning star: – Lucifer
Yalal (Strongs #3213): to howl (with a wailing tone) or yell (with a boisterous one): – (make to) howl, be howling

The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names tells us the following:
Lucifer = Light bearer; the shining one; shining. Howling.
It appears as though the authors were unsure of which meaning to subscribe to Lucifer, so they used both. How does the word “howling” compare with one who is a light bearer, or a shining one?

If you compare the two Hebrew words
heylel and yalal side by side (using Hebrew script) you will notice that they are very similar in appearance, the difference being only one character, or letter. So is it possible that the text may have been misread during the translation process? And if so, then why does there still appear to be some dispute over the meaning of this word even to this day? Letʼs examine both possibilities.

Lucifer (Yalal)
How you have fallen from the heavens! Howl, son of the dawn! You are hacked down to the earth, defeater of all nations.” (Isaiah 14:12 – Concordant Literal Version of the Old Testament)

In this version, the proud king is told to howl [yalal] (weep, wail, lament), for his pomp and splendor, like all other earthly rulers, will be brought down to the depths of Sheol [the grave], where the worms and maggots will feed upon his dead corpse (verse 11). The Englishmanʼs Concordance has this to say about the word yalal:

Isaiah 14:12.
O Lucifer, son of the morning! (margin or, day star; perhaps, lit. Howl; see also heylel.

Many of our modern translations, such as the RSV, NIV, NAB, NASB, and NLT, have omitted the word Lucifer from the text and have instead opted for the word day star, or morning star. This has led many “King James only” enthusiasts to vehemently protest the change, since Jesus himself is also referred to as “the bright and morning star” (see Revelation 22:16). And anyone would have to agree with them, if indeed this passage is really referring to the fall of Satan. Trouble is, though, that it isnʼt. How on earth can this passage possibly be referring to Satan? Can physical worms and maggots feed upon an angelic spiritual being?

Neither the Hebrew Bible, nor Jesus taught of the modern mythological interpretation of satan, the "devil". The noun satan is used with two, and possibly three, distinct meanings in the Hebrew Bible. The first is "adversary," and this meaning Is evidenced in both the human (1 Sam 29; 1 Kgs 5, 11) and divine (Num 22) spheres. The second meaning, "accuser," describes a role that could be assumed by someone with a legal complaint. Again, the tern could have a human (2 Sam 19; Ps 109) or a divine (1 Chr 21) referent. In two contexts, both of which are set in the heavenly courts (Job 1-2; Zech 3), the noun satan may designate a post or office of 'accuser', but this meaning cannot be confirmed by comparison with ancient Near Eastern human or mythological court models, nor can It be demonstrated that only one office of divine accuser was envisaged byGod or the scribes of the Tanakh. In any event, according to the Hebrew Scriptures and historic understanding there is no single celestial satan, meaning there is not a separate singular entity that is the "Satan" king of a "hell dimension".

Essay excerpted & aggregated from:
Day, Peggy L.
An Adversary in Heaven: Satan in the Hebrew Bible. Scholars Press, 1988
Preuss, Horst D. Old Testament Theology Volume 1. Westminster John Knox Press, 1992
Wray, T.J. The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots. St. Martin’s Press, 2005
Pagels, Elaine.
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics. Random House, 1995
The Meaning of the Word: “Demon”
In ancient times the original descriptive term for "demon/daemon/daimōn" was nothing more than another word for a "god-like" figure. The names demon and god were generally an interchangeable descriptive title and there was no discrimination between the two. The Ancient Greek word δαίμων (daimōn) indicates a "spirit" or "divine power". The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the etymology of the Greek word as from the verb daiesthai meaning "to divide, distribute." The Greek conception of a δαίμων notably appears in the works of Plato, where it describes the divine inspiration of Socrates.

Originally, the Greek term does not have any connotations of evil or malevolence. In fact, εὐδαιμονία (
eudemonia), literally meaning "good-spiritedness", is a term for "happiness". The term daimōn first acquired its now-current evil connotations in the Koine Greek translation of the Christian Bible. This connotation was inherited by the Koine text of the christian version of the New Testament. The medieval and neo-medieval conception of a "demon" in Western Civilization derives seamlessly from the ambient popular culture of Late (Roman) Antiquity. Greco-Roman concepts of daemons that passed into christian culture are discussed in the entry ‘daemon’, though it should be duly noted that the term originally referred only to a spiritual force, not a malevolent supernatural being. The Hellenistic "daemon" eventually came to include many Semitic and Near Eastern gods as evaluated by Christianity.

The Vague Meaning of “demons” in the Hebrew Bible
There are places in the Old Testament where some English translations use the word "demon" or "devils" (for example, "demons": Deut 32:17, Psa 106:37; "goat-demons": Lev 17:7, Isa 13:21, NRSV; "devils": 2 Chron 11:15, AV). In other places, it is easy for people in the modern world who are accustomed to reading the New Testament to think "demons" when they read things like "an evil spirit," even though the text clearly says that the evil spirit is from God (for example, Jud 9:23, 1 Sam 16:14-23).

In spite of the translations, there is no word in Hebrew equivalent to the English word "demon," nor any word that communicates the same meaning that the term communicates in English as an malevolent being in the service of the devil out to destroy humans. That idea today has been shaped by the imagination of medieval writers and popularized in the modern church in terms of evil beings against which Christians need to wage "spiritual warfare." Yet, the ancient Israelites lived in a world in which that view of "demons" was not part of their culture or way of thinking.

This disparity between our own modern notions and what lies behind the Hebrew terms and concepts often leads to misunderstanding the point of the biblical text and what it communicates. It is always a good idea to read what the biblical text actually says about a topic, and understand the passage against the social and cultural background of ancient Israel and the early church before we impose too many of our modern assumptions and preconceptions about meaning onto Scripture.

Despite the fact that the demons are not in general associated with the dead, Israel's ideas of the “demonic” are best treated in conjunction with the realm of the dead, for the simple reason that they cannot be included in the worlds of heaven or earth. This is also in keeping with their extremely minor significance in Israel's religious life. The intrusion of the “demonic” is, in fact, more a question either of an undeveloped inheritance from the heathen past or of a variety of superstitions intruded at a late date.

The truth of this assertion can be seen right from the start in the fact that the demons are not associated in any way either with YHWH or with the angelic powers. The doctrine of a “fall of the spiritual world” (as a result of which Satanic forces were released) is foreign to the Old Testament. "Fallen angels", "demon-minions of Lucifer", and all variants of such things do not exist nor are supported in the Hebrew Scriptures or by the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. For instance, the mention of
mal'ake ra'im in Psalm 78:49 refers not to evil angels but to angels of misfortune, specifically they are Messengers of God with a very specific job to perform. Such mythological additions were added to christianity and judaism very late and had very little to do with doctrines and salvational end-times beliefs of the jews during Jesus' era.

It should be noted that in the case of what are interpreted now, as a few named “demons”, in the Hebrew Scriptures we are given no detailed information but only very faint and indefinite outlines of figures mentioned entirely incidentally. Even after every effort has been made to wring more particulars from hints elsewhere in the Old Testament, this result is not essentially altered. It is true that many cultic practices, and food and purity laws, conceal what were originally apotropaic rites against demons; but the lawgiver was no longer aware of their original meaning, and their incorporation into the worship of YHWH proves only how decisively the covenant YHWH had driven out all other powers, and concentrated every cultic activity on himself. Thus the demons were even to all intents and purposes dispossessed from their most characteristic activity, the causation of illness; it is YHWH who sends sickness, and also heals it. Even though the notion of demons of sickness may still occur from time to time, the situation is in no sense comparable to that in Babylonia, where every illness at once suggested the work of demonic forces. The tremendous energy with which the divine Lord of the nation focused the whole of its life and thought upon himself robbed the demons of their significance, and thus burst for Israel one of the most dangerous bonds which trammelled the religious life of heathenism.

Hence the Israelite culture did not contain either prayers or ceremonies for warding off demons; nor does the Israelite in his prayer think of contrasting the power of YHWH with that of the demons as the reason for the assurance of his faith, as happens, for example, in Babylonian prayers and exorcisms in the case of the principal gods. The Yahwist faith also maintained with success an inflexible attitude of rejection, which it expressed in prohibition and reproof, toward the constant threat to import ideas of this kind from foreign sources. And when in post-exilic Judaism, because of the weakening of men's sense of the immediate nearness of God, belief in demons as well as belief in angels awoke to more vigorous life, the concept of YHWH as the Creator of the world, which by that time had become deeply ingrained, sufficed to provide a sure defense against any ascription to the demons of independent significance—as an Aramaic cursing formula against star-demons, which has by chance been preserved, affords eloquent testimony. Hence it was said by H. Duhm: '
One could imagine every trace of daemonistic conceptions removed from the Old Testament without feeling that this would essentially alter the character of even the ancient popular religion, to say nothing of the prophetic.'

Only in much later Judaism, under the influence of a radical change in men's feelings about the world, did a new demonological realism invade the realm of faith. It is characteristic of this period that the demons, which hitherto had been associated only with physical evil, that is to say, misfortune, are now made responsible for ethical evil, or sin. At the same time this only made the gulf between the service of God and of the demons quite impossible to cross. For now there could be no question, as there had been in earlier times, of contingent subordinate powers additional to YHWH. Their ethical opposition to God and his kingdom had turned the demons into devils, and placed dealings with them under the severest imaginable ban. Even though Jewish apocryphal literature and the Talmud now liked to give full play to the imagination in describing the demonic realm, arranging the demons in various classes and groups and finally in a kingdom of their own,1 there was no longer any danger that this would prejudice the exclusive worship of God; and even dualism, with its inevitable consequence of the obscuring of monotheistic awareness, was permanently averted.

Nevertheless it cannot be denied that there was a considerable darkening of life's horizons. In this situation only a new assurance of the nearness of the redeeming covenant God could lead to freedom and that religious confidence, capable of overcoming the world, which had been characteristic of the prophetic period. Hence even this line of development in the Old Testament's understanding of its faith points beyond itself to the age of the christian New Testament and the Roman church's "fathers".

Idols and Demons
A good place to begin is Deuteronomy 32:16-17:
16 They made him jealous with strange gods, with abhorrent things they provoked him. 17 They sacrificed to demons, not God, to deities they had never known, to new ones recently arrived, whom your ancestors had not feared. (NRSV)
The Hebrew word translated "demons" in verse 17 (
שׁד, seed) occurs here in the plural with the preposition "to" and vocalized with the definite article "the" (לשּׁדים, lassedim), which gives us "to the demons."

It is important to be aware that translation is not a matter of finding a single word in one language that translates another word in another language. Translation is more often the translation of ideas and concepts rather than merely words, and there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence of single words between languages. This is especially true of languages that are separated by 3,000 years of history and culture.

Also, there are other features of language besides just the words that affect translation. Words do not have fixed or inherent meaning in any language. The historical and cultural context in which they are used, the literary features that accompany them, the topics they are used to address, even who is speaking or writing the words can all affect "meaning," what a term communicates and how it is to be understood. There are many words in English that can take on different meanings in different circumstances, or that can be used as technical terms in one context and yet take on a more common meaning in another context.

Take for example the simple English verb "run." It has a fairly simple meaning in most contexts, referring to a human action, "to go faster than a walk." However, in different contexts it can refer to what a candidate does in a political campaign, to play a musical passage quickly, to go back and forth or spread out between two points, to melt, to remain constant, to penetrate or slip through, etc. It is usually a context or contexts, as well as other terms in that context, that give us clues to which meaning is meant.

Rather than complicating the meaning, in many places in Hebrew Scriptures some of these features actually help us better understand the meaning of a term no matter what English word we use to translate it. There is one unique and prominent feature of Hebrew writing that is especially helpful in providing a context for the meaning of words. It is known as parallelism, in which ideas are related and emphasized by the grouping of synonyms or antonyms.

Along with the term translated "demons," in the Hebrew of Deuteronomy 32:16-17 there are a whole series of terms with similar meaning that will help us understand how the writer is using the term
שׁד (seed). In these two verses, there are four other parallel terms and phrases that are used with the word translated as "demons":
strange or foreign gods (
זרים, zariym)
abhorrent things (
תועבת, to‘eybot)
demons (
לשּׁדים, lashshediym)
gods [they did not know] (
אלהים, elohiym)
new ones [recently come {of whom} your fathers were not afraid] (
חדשים, chadashim,)

The first of these parallel terms is simply the word "strange" (or "stranger") or "foreign" ("foreigner"). It is most often used of things that present a threat to the community, such as foreign people who are enemies (Hos 7:9, Isa 1:7, Jer 5:19, etc.), prostitutes ("strange women," Prov 2:16), or things that violate custom or law ("strange fire," Lev 10:1, Num 3:4; "strange incense," Ex 30:9). In this sense it is also used to refer to the gods of foreign peoples that present a threat to the proper worship of God (Psa 44:21, Isa 43:12, Jer 2:25, etc.).

The same is true of the second term, "abhorrent things." This term is often used to refer generally to the whole practice of Baal worship that included cult objects like household idols, images, sacred poles, trees, and high places, as well as sexual practices of the fertility religion, which were all "abhorrent" or "offensive" to Israelites (Lev. 18:22, Deut 7:25, 1 King 14:24, etc).

The final two terms also refer to the gods of Canaan with which the Israelites had come into contact only after their entry into the land (for the time frame of Deuteronomy; the "golden calf" or bull in Exodus 32 may have reflected Egyptian religious beliefs). In this sense they were "new" gods that the people "did not know" before.

It seems obvious in this context from these parallel terms that the term translated "demons" also refers to the gods of the surrounding peoples that posed a threat to Israel’s worship of Yahweh. In this passage in Deuteronomy, the wider context is an appeal, in the form of recounting Israel’s failure to worship God and their practice of worshipping the idols of Canaan, to worship God properly as the only God.

The immediate context of the use of
שׁד(seed) here is also important. Just a few verses later in this passage, there is a clear statement that these "demons" or "strange gods" or "abhorrent things" that the people are so tempted to elevate to deity and use to replace Yahweh are really no gods at all (Deut 32:21):

32:21 They made me jealous with what is no god, provoked me with their idols. Psalm 106:36 They served their idols and they became a hindrance to them; 37 they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.

This leads to the conclusion that the word translated as "demons" does not refer to anything close to what we moderns think of as demons, but is a pejorative term to refer to the idols of Baal worship that are declared to be nothing at all (compare Isa 44:6-20, where the writer pokes fun at the gods of Canaan as nothing but wood and stone). What is emphasized is that they are "no god."

In light of this verse, we might note that verse 17a can be translated in two ways. In NRSV, it is translated: "they sacrificed to demons, not God." This would imply that the verse should be understood to say that they sacrificed "to the demons" instead of sacrificing to God. However the construction in 17a is identical to verse 21, which means it could as easily be translated "they sacrificed to demons that are not god," which would further emphasize the pejorative use of the term
שׁד (seed) here (the LXX supports the NRSV translation).

In any case, a closer look at the word
שׁד (seed) in Hebrew emphasizes that it refers in a negative way to Canaanite idols and deities. Actually, the term שׁד (seed, "demons") does not even originate in Hebrew. It is a loanword from Assyria, from the Assyrian word šêdu. This word in Assyrian refers to the mythological creatures that were supposed to guard the sphinx-colossus of Asshur, the primary deity of the Assyrians (in Western mythology they are called griffons). The word in Hebrew, then, originally referred to mythological creatures associated with Assyrian deities. The very purpose of using the term, and paralleling them with other terms for pagan idols and deities, seems to be to emphasize that the pagan deities are not something to fear because they are not really gods at all. In Hebrew thought, that is equivalent to saying that they do not exist, or have no power or importance of which to fear.

It is instructive, then, to note that LXX translates
שׁד (seed) in Deuteronomy 32:17 with δαιμονίοις (daimoniois, "demons"), not in the context of "demonic powers" or minions of the devil as we want to hear the term, or even in the context of the NT usage, but in the context of mythological creatures that are specifically stated to be "no-god" (ου θεω, ou theo). In other words, even though the Greek translation uses a term that sounds much closer to our word "demons," the meaning is not what that word means to us in English, but rather what the Hebrew term communicates.

Further, the word
שׁד (seed) only occurs twice in the MT, here in Deuteronomy 32:17 and in Psalm 106:36-37. It is no accident that the context in the Psalm is precisely the same as the Deuteronomy passage; that is, the condemnation of the Israelites for worshipping the idols of foreign deities.

Psalm 106:36 They served their idols and they became a hindrance to them; 37 they sacrificed their sons and their daughters to the demons. 38 they poured out innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with blood.

Once again, parallelism gives us some indication of the meaning of the word. The Hebrew word
שׁד (seed) in verse 36 is parallel to the word עצבים (‘atsabim), "idols" or "graven images, and in verse 38 to  עצבי כנען  (‘atsabey kená‘an), "idols of Canaan." Clearly, שׁד (seed) is related to the gods of the Canaanites. And again the Septuagint translates שּׁדים (sedim) by τοις δαιμονιοις (tois daimoniois) to describe these false gods of the Canaanites, as is clear from the latter part of the verse.

So, it can be concluded that the Hebrew term
שׁד (seed) is a loanword from the mythology of the surrounding peoples. Originally, it referred to the mythological creatures of Canaanite and Assyrian religion that were representations of various gods. In biblical usage, it becomes synonymous with "idol," a pejorative way to refer to Canaanite deities.

Are demons the minions of the "Devil"?
There is no association between demons and Satan in the Hebrew Bible, nor does Jesus teach that demons are the minions of the devil, in the modern mythological sense. The demons are not to be included in YHWH's heavenly court. They do indeed play a part in popular belief, but they are not associated with the God of heaven, and therefore call for consideration at a different point. This does not, however, apply to the figure of the Satan. He belongs in YHWH's heavenly court as a fully-qualified member, and by nature has nothing to do with demons.

Since before the rule of Constantine the Great, Christianity had been in a transition period. In order for the majority of the people to recognize Christianity as the official religion of the state, several concessions would have to be made. Paganism was still widespread, and the people would not so easily give up their long-standing traditions. Many of the early Greek & Roman “church fathers” purposed to bridge the gap between Paganism and Christianity, and to tolerate Pagan doctrine, all for the sake of winning proselytes. The Christianizing of Pagan holidays began about the fourth century AD when Constantine became (or feigned becoming) a christian. To consolidate his rule, he incorporated Pagan holidays and festivals into church ritual, which attracted the Pagans. But he also gave the holidays and festivals new Christian names and identities, which appeased the Christians. And the Christian churches have for the most part embraced many of these deceptions to this very day.

Simply put, the “fathers” of the Roman church departed from the simplicity of the apostolic church and corrupted the purity of the Christian faith. Edward Gibbon in his epic work The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (XXVIII) states that:
It must ingenuously be confessed, that the ministers of the Catholic Church imitated the profane model, which they were impatient to destroy. The most respectable bishops had persuaded themselves, that the ignorant rustics would more cheerfully renounce the superstitions of Paganism, if they found some resemblance, some compensation, in the bosom of Christianity. The religion of Constantine achieved, in less than a century, the final conquest of the Roman Empire: but the victors themselves were insensibly subdued by the arts of their vanquished rivals.

This pagan corruption and influence started with the Temple-less gnostic teachings of Paul and have continued on through the present time. It influences every aspect of Christian Doctrine from “Angels” to “Hell” to the doctrines of “Eternal Torment”. It even includes the Christian concept of “The Devil”.

Misinterpretations of biblically named “demons”
There is a modern consensus, by scholars and laity alike, in both Christianity and most of Judaism to regard the terms azazel, lilith, deber, qeteb and reshef as names of ‘evil demons’ in the Hebrew Bible. This interpretation is based on the view that these things in the scriptures are ‘demons’ because they were either deities (azazel, deber, qeteb, reshef) or demons (azazel, lilith, qeteb) in the ancient Near East, and therefore appear ‘demonised’ in the Hebrew Bible, or they were known as demons in a much later Jewish tradition, and therefore must have been ‘demons’ already in the Old Testament, or both.

However, in every case, the context of the term is an attack upon the idolatrous practices of Baal worship, or a negative reference to Canaanite mythology. For example, in 2 Chronicles 11:15, an account of the pagan practices introduced by Jeroboam in the Northern Kingdom, the KJV translates "devils" for a different Hebrew term.

And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. (KJV)
and had appointed his own priests for the high places, and for the goat-demons, and for the calves that he had made. (NRSV)

Here the Hebrew word translated "devils" in the KJV or "goat-demons" in the NRSV is
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr). The most common meaning of the word שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is "goat," specifically "he-goat" or buck (for example, Gen 37:1; Lev 4:24, etc.; 53 times in the MT). A feminine form of the word occurs twice to refer to "she-goat" (Lev 4:28, 5:6). The root of this word in Hebrew is the word שׂער (se‘ar), which means "hair," either of animals (Gen 25:25) or of persons (Ju 16:22). Another derived cognate of this word is the word שׂערה (se‘orah), which is usually translated "barley," that is, a hairy or bearded grain. The connotation of שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is that of a "hairy" animal, which is appropriate since many goats in the Middle East are longhaired or Angora goats.

There is also an underlying assumption that the Hebrew Bible preserves the belief that ‘demons’ inhabit the desert, and this is also used in the case of
azazel and lilith by some scholars as ‘proof’ to their ‘demonic’ nature. We can conclude from the history of research that in the case of azazel it is questionable whether any of the arguments are strong enough to support the demonological interpretation. The reliability of etymological evidence in general has been questioned. Similarly, the significance of ancient Near Eastern material to explain the meaning of the term azazel and the rite described in Lev 16 is debatable. The pseudepigraphic Enoch material should also be treated with extreme caution.

With regard to
lilith we saw that in the demoness Lilith attributes of the ancient lilitu/ardat lîli demons as well as those of Lamaštu were fused and thanks to Jewish mysticism and 19th-20th century poets and painters she became the most popular demon ever. It can easily be understood that anyone familiar with Lilith’s name would inevitably think of the demoness as known since medieval times (which to the modern reader is also ancient). Therefore we argue that scholars interpreting Isa 34:14 who see Lilith appearing there are reading into the text influenced by their knowledge of the demoness, and are ignoring the context.

The problem with the argument that
deber is a ‘demon’ is that it is generally based on a discussion of only three texts and the presupposition that reshef with whom it appears in two of these texts, and qeteb with whom it appears in one text, are also ‘demons’. It also relies on evidence from the ancient Near East which is scant and questionable. The situation is similar with qeteb and reshef too, with the addition of citing later Jewish belief in the case of qeteb. The existence of a mythological figure, a deity or demon qtb from Assyria or Ugarit is questionable, and later Jewish belief which knew of a demon called Qeteb should be used with caution.

reshef is a ‘demon’ in the Hebrew Bible is based on the general consensus that it is the name of the known deity Reshef, and the view that foreign deities are demonised by the authors of the Hebrew Bible. That a deity called Reshef was well known in the ancient Near East is unquestionable but, as we have seen, his association with plague or disease is only one of his aspects. His major characteristic seems to be that of a god of war and protector of kings. Whether it is this deity that lies in the background of the reshef in the Hebrew Bible should be determined from the context of the Hebrew texts.

In order to determine the significance of the term azazel in the Hebrew Bible, whether it is the name of a ‘demon’ and whether there is a mythological figure behind it, a careful exegesis of Leviticus 16 is required.

Examining the term
azazel we have found that its meaning remains unknown. Although the parallelism with YHWH in Lev. 16:8 suggests that it is a proper name of a supernatural being whose place is in the desert, however there is nothing to suggest that it would refer to a ‘demon’ named Azazel. Despite the various efforts of scholars to prove otherwise, there is no evidence that a mythological figure was behind this term. Azazel’s significance in Lev 16 is its symbolic function. Its role is to stand in contrast to YHWH and as such it could be argued that it is a personification of the forces of chaos that threaten the order of creation.

When analyzing Leviticus 16 we see the following conclusions: the
azazel rite forms an integral part of the “Sin Offering”, the purpose of which is to cleanse and sanctify the altar and the people. ‘Guilt’ and ‘uncleanness’ are parallel terms referring to the Israelites’ sin: straying away from YHWH and going after other gods. The blood of the bull and one goat wipes away the people’s sin and sanctifies the altar from their ‘uncleanness’. The live goat removes their sin and guilt by literally taking it outside of the community, into the desert, away from the sanctuary. The sanctuary represents the presence of YHWH, the order of creation, while the desert where azazel is found, stands for the chaos that threatens it.

In order to determine the significance of the term lilith in the Hebrew Bible, whether it is the name of a ‘demon’ and whether there is a mythological figure behind it, a careful exegesis of Isaiah 34 is required.

It is found that because of the assumption that the hebrew word “liyliyth” (lee-leet), used once in the Tanakh,
is the ‘demoness’ Lilith, some of the other creatures that also occur in the passage are regarded as ‘demonic’, whilst others as real animals. Each term in question was then examined and it was shown that although most of these are difficult to translate exactly, and in many cases only a general designation can be offered, the contexts in which they occur do not support a demonological interpretation for any of them.

Therefore, in in Isaiah 34:8-13 the creatures should be translated as ‘screech owl’ and ‘raven’, when looking through to verses 14 & 15 the wild animals that inhabit the desolate and desert places can be translated as ‘jackals’ or the more general ‘howling creatures’ depending on the context. Also, the usual translation of ‘ostriches’ is not supported and the creatures are probably meant to be described as ‘eagles’ or ‘owls’. Finally, the passages describe a ‘goat’ creature and this is the contextual meaning implied.

All these creatures are real animals and birds who inhabit desert and ruined places, some of them scavengers who feast on dead bodies. In Isaiah 34, after the complete destruction of
Edom and all its people and livestock, only these wild scavengers would be able to survive. Thus there is nothing to support the view that lilith is a ‘demoness’ or other mythological character. Like the other terms, it also refers to an animal.

In order to determine whether deber is the name of a ‘demon’ in the Hebrew Bible the present chapter examined every passage in which the term occurs. The investigation led to the following conclusions:
  • Although generally translated as ‘plague/pestilence’, deber is best understood as meaning in general ‘destruction’, possibly by infectious disease. The term is mostly used in a personified sense as an agent of God. However, there is no evidence that would point to a mythological figure behind the term, and there is nothing in the texts to support an interpretation that takes deber to be referring to a ‘demon’.
  • Ps 91, Hos 13 and Hab 3, the three passages that are used to support this view, present deber as a personified dangerous force which brings death and destruction. As such he appears as one of God’s agents who carries out his punishment or simply emphasizes his awesome power as a member of his retinue. Psalm 91 presents these agents as God’s angels. This is also clearly the case in Psalm 78 and 2 Sam 24.
  • In the 17 occurrences in Jeremiah it most often appears with ‘sword’ and ‘famine’, deadly forces that always come as a punishment from YHWH for the Israelites’ disobedience (mostly idolatry). Although its personification is only clearly suggested in one passage (Jer 21:6), the others also offer this possibility.
  • In Ezekiel deber occurs as a personified deadly force accompanied by others; often by ‘sword’ and ‘famine’, but other elements such as dam (bloodshed) and hayyah ra‘ah (beings of evil) also occur. They all are presented as YHWH’s agents of punishment.
  • This is also the case in all the other occurrences of the term. Some passages present the personified deber more clearly (Deut 28, Exod 9, 2 Sam 24, Ps 78) than others but there are links between these and the latter passages which suggest that the term could be taken as personified in these too.
  • It can be seen that when personified, deber is one of YHWH’s angels, one of the mal'ake ra'im. In fact there is no evidence to suggest that this was one particular angel and that thus deber would be a proper noun. It is rather a function, a Messenger of God with a specific function. Any of YHWH’s angels could be a deber, a bringer of ‘disease’ or ‘destruction’ which in most cases results in death.

From the discussion above we can conclude that there is no one particular word to translate qeteb. The contexts suggest some kind of destructive force that comes from YHWH as a punishment. Therefore the general ‘destruction’ or ‘scourge’ have been used here as these best express what it refers to.

De Moor wrote that ‘On the sole basis of the Masoretic text of these passages it cannot be decided whether
qtb was a demon or not.’ However, he and some other scholars appeal to the Septuagint, Midrashic and ancient Near Eastern material in order to prove otherwise. However, we have seen that the ancient Near Eastern material is scant and questionable. The ancient versions cannot be relied on. They are not consistent in their interpretation of the word. For example in Psalm 91 both the Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate do not know what to do with qeteb (Latin Vulgate: ab incursu, the Septuagint is taken as referring to a ‘noonday demon’ (et daemonio meridiano) and not qeteb. De Moor thinks that ‘the Septuagint presupposes a different Hebrew text in Psalm 91:6.’ We have seen a similar problem in Deuteronomy 32 too. In Hosea 13 the Septuagint has, the Latin Vulgate's morsus, meaning ‘sting’ or ‘biting’. In Isaiah 28:2 it is not clear how the Septuagint interpreted qeteb, The Latin Vulgate has the sense of destruction and Targ (presumably storm-) ‘wind’. Although undoubtedly these can be valuable in tracing the development of the term there is no need to bring in outside evidence to illuminate its function in the Hebrew Bible. That becomes clear from the careful examination of all of its occurrences.

In Psalm 91
qeteb occurs in the company of Deber, the Fowler, the Arrow and Terror, all destructive forces, angels of YHWH, sent to punish or protect according to YHWH’s plan. In Hosea 13 Qeteb appears together with Deber, Mot and Sheol, bringing destruction as instruments of YHWH. The destruction depends on YHWH’s decision, so all four of them are inferior to YHWH and are ultimately his agents.

Psalm 78 suggested a possible interpretation for
Deber as one of the Angels of Evil; according to Psalm 91 Qeteb and Deber are both angels of YHWH. Deuteronomy 32 supports this interpretation of Qeteb and extends it to Reshef. YHWH sends his Arrows, seven of them this time (Famine, Plague, Bitter Scourge, Fang of Wild Animals, Poison of Snakes, Sword and Terror), at others their number varies. There are five in Psalm 91, four in Hosea 13, and three in Isaiah 28. Here, although neither Deber nor Reshef appears with Qeteb there are other agents beside him: Barad (Hail) and Mighty Waters. These agents of YHWH function as forces of destruction, which come from YHWH as a punishment for turning away from him and turning to other gods.

We can conclude that in all four passages
Qeteb appears in a personified sense. However, there is nothing to support a demonological interpretation in any of the passages. Qeteb appears as an agent of YHWH, possibly one of his angels of evil. Furthermore, as in the case of deber, there is no evidence to suggest that qeteb was the name of one particular angel of YHWH. Any of YHWH’s angels could be a qeteb, a ‘scourge’, a ‘bringer of destruction’. There is no evidence that a mythological figure would lie behind the qeteb of the texts in the Hebrew Bible.

In the Hebrew Bible we can conclude the following: the assumption that Reshef appears in the Hebrew Bible as a ‘demon’ is not supported by the texts.

Of the seven occurrences
Reshef is once a proper noun, the name of one of Ephraim’s descendants. In two passages, Deut 32: 24 and Hab 3:5, it occurs in the singular, and in the other passages in the plural with various associations; as inPsalm 78:48; inPsalm 76: 4; in Job 5:7, and in Cant 8:7. All of these passages are poetical. It was argued that the best interpretation is to regard the term in these passages as personified. In none of the passages does Reshef(s) appear alone; it is always accompanied by other destructive forces, who are agents or enemies of YHWH but always inferior to him. In Deuteronomy 32 Reshef is one of seven Arrows of Misfortune, the Famine, Qeteb, Wild Animals, Snakes, Sword and Terror; in Habakkuk 3 together with Deber he is one of YHWH’s attendants. Job is similar to Deuteronomy in that here too we have Sword, Famine, Wild Animals, Six/Seven Calamities as well as Stones together with the Sons of Reshef.

Psalm 78 lists a number of destructive forces: blood, flies, frogs, grasshoppers, locusts, hail, sleet, as well as the company of Angels of Misfortune,
Deber, Fury, Anger and Distress. In Psalm 76 the context is military, thus we have Bow, Shield, Sword and Battle, but the similarities with Hosea 2:18(20) where wild animals, creatures of the ground (snakes?) and birds of the sky also appear allowing us to conjecture that perhaps other destructive forces are also meant behind the plural of translated the hebrew word.

In Canticles 8 the
Reshefs of Fire appear with Mot, Sheol, Love and Jealousy, Flame of YHWH, Mighty Waters and Rivers, again as destructive forces. In all of the above passages the forces that appear bring destruction and death, they come from YHWH as a punishment or their purpose is to inspire awe and fear of YHWH. Through them YHWH’s power is manifested.

In most cases the hebrew word translated as ‘plague’ (in the sense of a destructive force) fits all the contexts. In some instances
Reshef was left untranslated as this reflects the mythological dimension of the texts better. However, even in these cases there is nothing to support a demonological interpretation of Reshef. Any arguments to the contrary would be reading into the text. Even though there is a possible connection to the Semitic deity Reshef, the mythological motifs in the Old Testament are used merely as a poetic device. Similarly to Deber and Qeteb, Reshef is best regarded as one of YHWH’s Angels of Evil (Ps 78, Deut 32) or Holy Ones (Job 5, Hab 3). As in the case of Deber and Qeteb, there is no evidence to suggest that Deber, Qeteb or Reshef are used as proper nouns, they are best regarded as functions (to bring destruction) that any of YHWH’s angels could take on.

Goats and Satyrs
The Hebrew word translated "devils" in the KJV or "goat-demons" in the NRSV is
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr). The most common meaning of the word שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is "goat," specifically "he-goat" or buck (for example, Gen 37:1; Lev 4:24, etc.; 53 times in the MT). A feminine form of the word occurs twice to refer to "she-goat" (Lev 4:28, 5:6). The root of this word in Hebrew is the word שׂער (se‘ar), which means "hair," either of animals (Gen 25:25) or of persons (Ju 16:22). Another derived cognate of this word is the word שׂערה (se‘orah), which is usually translated "barley," that is, a hairy or bearded grain. The connotation of שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is that of a "hairy" animal, which is appropriate since many goats in the Middle East are longhaired or Angora goats.

However, there are four occurrences in the Hebrew text where the term
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) takes on a slightly different shade of meaning (2 Chron 11:15, Lev 17:7, Isa 13:21, and 34:14) while at the same time retaining the basic meaning of "he-goat." Leviticus 17:7 reads:

Lev 17:7 . . .
they may no longer offer their sacrifices for goat-demons, to whom they prostitute themselves . . ..
The context here is the regulation of the killing and eating of meat, specifically prohibiting the killing of animals in the open fields or even within the camp without subsuming the taking of life under the covenantal worship of God. Directly forbidden in verse seven is the offering of sacrifices to the "he-goats" instead of to Yahweh. It becomes clear, then, that the "he-goat" is not just an ordinary goat, but refers to something that is a false object of worship, especially with the term "prostitute" that is commonly used in the Old Testament to describe graphically the unfaithfulness of the people in worshipping pagan gods.

In 2 Chronicles 11:15,
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is connected with "calves" and "high places" that are both associated with pagan Canaanite religious practices. Likewise, in Leviticus 17:7, "he-goat" refers to idolatrous images, either physically represented or part of Canaanite mythology.

The two other occurrences of
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) are both in Isaiah (13:21; 34:14). Although in a different context with a different emphasis, the meaning is similar in both passages.

But wild animals will lie down there, and its houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will live, and there goat-demons will dance. 13:22 Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand, and its days will not be prolonged.
Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches. 34:14 Wildcats shall meet with hyenas, goat-demons shall call to each other; there too Lilith shall repose, and find a place to rest. 34:15 There shall the owl nest and lay and hatch and brood in its shadow; there too the buzzards shall gather, each one with its mate.

In both passages the emphasis is on wild animals that inhabit the desolate places of the desert. These verses are highly poetic descriptions of the desolation of the land under God’s judgment, specifically Babylon (ch. 13) and Edom (ch. 34). The imagery is that of cities being so thoroughly destroyed and overgrown with thorns that only wild animals live there. Among the wild animals, the Hebrew text refers to
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr). While it could be argued that the term refers to the ordinary goat, this was a domesticated animal in biblical times. Even though it wandered the hillsides, it was not really a "wild" animal. In other words, "goat" does not fit the imagery here to symbolize devastated and uninhabitable land.

Some versions (for example, KJV) translate
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) in these verses not as "devils" or "evil spirits" or even "he-goat" but as "satyr". The satyr is a legendary creature that shows up in the mythologies of various cultures of the ancient world as the guardian of holy places or deities, or as the personification of debauchery and revelry. It was portrayed as half-human and half-animal, usually with the feet, tail and ears of a longhaired goat or horse and the torso, head and arms of a man. In Greek mythology, the satyrs were the escorts, guardians, and companions of the god Dionysus, the god of mirth, wine, and revelry. They were thought to inhabit the countryside, especially waste areas and ruins. The Greek god Pan was often portrayed in paintings as a satyr.

Much of what we know about satyrs in ancient mythology comes from Greek and Roman sources. Yet, there seems to be some connection between the idea of
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) in the ancient Middle East and the satyr in western mythology. Some have even suggested a linguistic connection between the terms. In any case, the Hebrew term שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) in these four verses seems to refer to mythological creatures from Canaanite religion, false idols that the people worshipped instead of Yahweh.

There are overtones in the Isaiah passages of the mythological creatures associated with these particular animals, for example the idea of the satyr behind the use of
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr). However, the real point is that Isaiah is using the creatures as metaphorical symbols of desolation, of destruction, of total devastation that results in a place fit only for wild creatures, real or mythological, who inhabit the humanly uninhabitable places of the earth. This picks up the overtones of "emptiness" that is associated with the idols elsewhere (see below). To read more into this by trying to connect the term with the modern idea of demons is drastically to misunderstand the function of poetic language (sometimes called "mythopoetic" language) in prophetic oracles.

An interesting passage in 2 Kings 23:8 can be further instructive at this point.

He brought all the priests out of the towns of Judah, and defiled the high places where the priests had made offerings, from Geba to Beer-sheba; he broke down the high places of the gates that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city, which were on the left at the gate of the city.

The context of this passage is the religious reforms of Josiah in which he tore down the pagan altars and idols in response to the discovery of the law book in the temple. The Hebrew text here reads "high places of the gates" (
השּׁערים, hashshe‘ariym, "the gates"). However, "gates" does not fit with the meaning of this verse here. Most textual scholars suggest that the letter (sh) in the Massoretic text should be corrected to the letter (s). They suggest that the reading of the initial letter (s) as (sh) was influenced by the repeated occurrence of the word שׁער (sha‘ar) "gate" in the verse ("gate of Joshua," "gates of the city"). With this correction, the word would read השּׂערים (hasse‘iriym), "satyrs." So, a better translation of this passage is " . . .he broke down the high places of the satyrs that were at the entrance of the gate of Joshua the governor of the city . . .

So again the usage of
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) indicates reference to a pagan idol that was being improperly worshipped as a symbol of Canaanite deity. This understanding makes 2 Chronicles 11:15 even more clear. The context there is the sin of Jeroboam I in banishing the Levitical priesthood from the Northern Kingdom and setting up idols of bulls and goats for the people to worship. In fact, this idolatry of Jeroboam I in setting up images of animals to represent the gods of the Canaanites became a paradigm in Israelite theology of the sinful ruler who rejected Yahweh to follow the false gods of the land (compare 1 Kings 12:25-33; 16:25-26).

It is again instructive to note the Septuagint rendering of these verses. In 2 Chronicles 11:15, rather than simply translating the Hebrew word
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) with another word, the translators attempt to translate the "concept" or the meaning. The Greek reading for שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is "the idols and the worthless" (και τοις ειδωλοις και τοις ματαιοις, kai tois eidolois kai tois mataiois). This clearly indicates that the understanding of the term was pagan idols. Especially interesting here is the use of the nominal adjective ματαιοις (mataiois, "vanities," "emptiness," "worthless things") to describe these idols: they are empty, worthless, powerless things! (Note the use of the nominal form of this word in Ephesians 4:17.) It is with this understanding that we note that the word שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) in Leviticus 17:7 is translated in the Septuagint solely by the word τοις ματαιοις (tois mataiois): "And they shall no longer offer sacrifices to emptiness."

All of this clearly indicates that this word
שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) is not used in Hebrew Scriptures to mean anything close to our idea of "demonic powers" but exclusively to refer to the idols of the pagan deities who were recognized to be nothing or empty, devoid of any power. This negative connotation of the imagery of "he-goat" may well be related to the use of a goat in the Israelite sacrificial system as the bearer of the sins of the people (for example, Lev 16:21-22), although it is impossible to know which way the influence ran.

It can be debated whether Israelites viewed these idols in ontological terms, whether they would ever have asked if the gods they represented "really" existed or not. They would most likely not have asked such a question, since those categories of ultimate reality are alien to the ancient world. They tended to express things in functional terms (what they can do) rather than ontological terms (whether they exist). However, it is clear that the biblical traditions did not view the
שׁד (seed) or the שׂעיר (sa‘iyr) as anything to be feared. They simply represented the idols of the Canaanites, which were powerless and could be treated as "emptiness" or "nothing." In Hebrew thought, that comes close to what moderns mean when they say, "does not exist."

In summary, there is no Hebrew word that can be translated as "demons" to communicate what that word implies in English. There does lie behind the Old Testament conception a basic animistic and mythological world view with which the Israelites are in dialog. But they are using the terms and in dialog with such conceptions, not because they accept them or are dominated by them, but precisely to deny the validity of such mythological world views. The biblical writers use the terms not to accept what they represent but precisely to reject it. It is clear that there was a popular belief among Israelites in such things as ghosts and the mythological creatures of Canaanite religion. But the biblical tradition as it stands moves beyond such popular mythological conceptions to a vision of a Creator, a sovereign God who is in sole control of the world, and does not share that with anything or anyone. So again, there are no "demons" in the Old Testament, only idols that are rejected as "no-gods."

When looking at these subjects objectively, through a historical exegesis and not just through a modern eisegetical lens, it is easy to see the skills of the Old Testament authors and their ability to use parallelism, irony, personification to convey the embodiment of their writings. Similarities to other mythological devices should not be ignored but there is no reason to automatically or completely connect the ancient Hebrew personifications to other pagan religions.

While one can espouse the view that the fear of demons was more extensive in the milieu of the Judaism of Ancient Israel than is apparent in the Hebrew Scriptures, no one can clearly demonstrate this. It is the later injection of pagan religions and ideologies from Rome through the Middle Ages that has brought the onslaught of the “devil’s minions” into modern thought. The black-eyed, sharp-toothed, and horned demons portrayed in ancient christian literature and modern horror themes is a construct of the human imagination. The use of such horrific themes by later christian authorities was a controlling device to the masses and has no historical or theological history in ancient Judaism nor the Judaism professed by the historical Jesus and his 12 Disciples.

Essay excerpted & aggregated from:
Day, Peggy L.
An Adversary in Heaven: Satan in the Hebrew Bible. Scholars Press, 1988
Fröhlich, Ida & Koskenniemi, Erikki.
Evil and the Devil Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2013
Blair, Judith M.
De-Demonising the Old Testament: An Investigation of Azazel, Lilith, Deber, Qeteb and Reshef in the Hebrew Bible. Mohr Siebeck, 2008
Bratcher, Dennis.
Demons in the Old Testament - Issues in Translation. copyright 2013
Preuss, Horst D. Old Testament Theology Volume 1. Westminster John Knox Press, 1992

Setting the Record Straight:
The Truth About Ghosts, Hauntings, Demons, Possessions, & the Supernatural

Based on the Theology, History, & Foundations of Judaism, the Old Testament, & the Second Temple Era of Jesus

Under Construction

Essay excerpted & aggregated from:
Day, Peggy L.
An Adversary in Heaven: Satan in the Hebrew Bible. Scholars Press, 1988
Preuss, Horst D. Old Testament Theology Volume 1. Westminster John Knox Press, 1992
Wray, T.J. The Birth of Satan: Tracing the Devil's Biblical Roots. St. Martin’s Press, 2005
Pagels, Elaine.
The Origin of Satan: How Christians Demonized Jews, Pagans, and Heretics. Random House, 1995