Who doesn't love the devil? That funny guy with the twinkle in his eye, the advertising pitch of Christianity...
Satan is the second best known character in the Christian cosmology after Jesus to the non-Christian world.
In my own Catholic upbringing, overcoming literal belief in the nether god as well as a thorough rejection of most of what my parents believed in was hard. Fear always seemed more convincing than love, and hell so much easier to imagine than heaven. In traditional folk Christianity there seems to be almost as much a need to believe in Lucifer as there is to believe in the Trinity. Such are the whims of human appetite.
Yet just as much ignorance accompanies popular understanding of Christianity (like the fact that when the Christians took over, it was the pagans who got fed to the lions), for all the talk of Helal ben Shahar, very little really seems to be known about the fallen angel.
The principle of an intelligent evil force emerged in Hebrew consciousness, it is believed, around the time of the Babylonian exile of the sixth century BCE. The Jews, forcibly relocated to Mesopotamia (Iraq) by Nebuchadnezzar II, had many reasons to believe they were in the grip of dark forces for sins done in the past. The climate in the "land between the rivers" was harsh and inhospitable.
The Babylonian's world view also embraced a complex and terrifying demonology with predator spirits that fed on the unforgiving winds which howled across the wastes. Entities such as Lilitu, "The Maid of Desolation", part bird and part woman, and Pazuzu, "Father of Fevers", the demon which possessed the little girl in the Exorcist were among these Uttuku, the dwellers of desert places and cemeteries.
It was in Babylon also that the Jews were exposed to the dualistic beliefs of the Persians who eventually conquered Babylon and allowed the Hebrews to their homeland.
The Persians are credited with the invention of Pilaf and the world's first bonafide devil incarnate in the form of Ahriman. Zoroastrianism, a pre-Islamic religion which has lasted to the present, divided the cosmos into a battle ground between good and evil.
Ormazd, the Creator god, was good, his brother and opposite, Ahriman, Lord of Discord, was evil. Everything in the universe is attributed to one of these deities or the other. Ormazd created the stars so that humans could make calendars, while Ahriman invented planets to upset that calendar.
Ormazd gave his children the fruit of the fields, but Ahriman inspired them to hunt flesh instead. Eventually, it is foretold by the prophet Zarathustra, Ormazd will destroy Ahriman and all his demons.
The Hebrews, as mentioned above, adapted some of these beliefs in Babylon. Part of their adaptations revolved around reconciling their god, Yahweh, who was absolutely good, to the cruel behavior he often endorsed and displayed, such as the slaughter of the Egyptian first born or the massacre of Jericho.
At first Hebrew scholars theorized that their were different aspects or faces of God. There was God the Loving Father and the Wrath of God that God had allowed to enter the world for His own purposes. Eventually this view evolved into the notion of some external force of evil given license by the Lord to serve His mysterious plan but which would not in any way diminish His goodness.
In Hebrew, Satan means "advisary" and is used in that context as an adjective and can be applied to anyone. Satan as a personality first appears in The Book of Job as God's sadistic court jester or at least a representative of the loyal opposition, an appointed nemesis of mankind who works for the Lord whether he wants to or not.
Extra-Biblical Hebrew mythology elaborates this picture some.
Much of the lore of Satan emerged during the course of the Roman Empire and in early Medieval Europe in the Jewish and Christian Apocrypha (hidden books). These works, for whatever reasons, were not selected to be official parts of the Old and New Testaments, often for political reasons, as many were deemed heretical.
They dealt with the War in Heaven and the Fall of the Angels, the end of the world and extra Talmudic Hebrew mythology. Some also included genealogies of demons and the sort of material that would later appear in grimores, or magic books. Of the few Apocryphal books that can be found incorporated into the Bible, The Revelation of St. John the Divine, which tells us the number of the Beast is 666, is probably the best example.
Satan was once an archangel, Samael (Venom of God).
Samael, jealous of the position accorded man in God's creation, led a rebellion among the seraphim against Yahweh.
Samael, after a calamitous fight, was tossed out of Heaven with all his horde of rebels, proving you don't fuck with the Big Guy no matter how bright you are. In the process he almost dragged his sworn enemy, the Archangel Michael, leader of God's army to hell with him by his wings, forcing God himself to intervene to save his faithful angel.
Lucifer, the morning star Venus, becomes associated with Samael, as his pride would contest the sun (as Samael's pride contested God). He is mentioned in Isaiah XIV, 12-15. Here the prophet warns the Babylonian king to take care with his own pride while telling of Lucifer's fate.
"Yet though art brought down to Sheol/to the bottomless abyss." Lucifer is the Latin translation of Helal ben Shahar, the Son of Dawn.
There is also evidence of a Prince of Darkness, more primordial and originally evil, than Lucifer, who argued that creation be made of darkness rather than light, which caused him to be banished before the stilling of the waters. His character is "ox like'.
By the time Christianity emerged, the devil took a more important place among Christians than he did with Jews. By this time Lucifer had become more readily identified as the Prince of Darkness than Samael. Lucifer, of course, is incapable of love, having the original Heart of Darkness. While the possessor of vast knowledge, his knowledge has a price.
His palace is Pandemonium in the blackened wastes of Sheol, where he plots the seduction of the human race. His second in command, according to Milton, is the Arch-devil Beelzebub, who was once worshiped as Ball Zebub in the north of Canaan until the Israelites killed his followers (the Galileans accused Jesus of being in league with him in Matthew XII).
Also attendant on Lucifer is Moloch, god of money, Asmodeus, king of the demons who was forced by magic to build Solomon's temple, Azazel, who taught women the diabolical art of make up, Lilith, who the patriarchs rightly feared as the mother of feminism, Azathoth, who is the lord of perverse sexuality and who appears as a black skinned European lord and the Lucifuge who negotiates pacts.
There are millions and millions of cohorts more. Among Arabs Lucifer is known as Iblis. Christians derive the term devil from the Greek diablos which means "slanderer", the opposite of angelos, or "messenger". The devil bears false messages or messages which contain only enough truth to be convincingly false.
The Gates of Hell?
This was anonymously sent to us. Warning! Bill Gates (president of Microsoft) may be the next Antichrist. Revelation 13:18 says, “Let anyone who has intelligence work out the number of the Beast, for the number represents a man’s name, and the numerical value of its letters is six hundred and sixty-six.”
Bill Gate’s full name is William Henry Gates III. Nowadays he is known as Bill Gates (III). By converting the letters of his current name to their ASCII values, you get the following:
B I L L G A T E S 3
Daniel 7:23 says, “The explanation he gave was this: ‘The fourth beast signifies a fourth kingdom which will appear on earth. It will differ from the other kingdoms; it will devour the whole earth, treading it down and crushing it.'”
Current history knows three Antichrists: Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and the Pope. Is the fourth beast the Microsoft corporation, which represents the power of money?
- Illustration by Maya Hayuk