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In the framing story of Job, we read about הַשָּׂטָן (ha-Satan) and בְּנֵי הָאֱלֹהִים (ben 'elohiym) appearing before God:

Now it fell upon a day, that the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan came also among them.—Job 1:6 (JPS)

Wikipedia (and all the other places I can recall the issue being discussed) suggests that Satan is among the "sons of God" (AKA, the Divine Council). But the way the clause is rendered in English, it sounds more like he slipped in when the door was opened to let the legitimate audience enter.

Leaving aside the question of who the sons of Elohim might be, does the text allow for the idea that the Adversary was not counted among their number? Or does the Hebrew make more clear than the English translation that it was one group and Satan was specifically called out as a member?

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This question came up as I tried to answer When was “diablo” first used to refer to the Devil? on History. – Jon Ericson Dec 26 '12 at 23:07

5 Answers 5

There are 3 theories.

  1. Modern christianity would say that no. And they try to explain away the verse in so many ways.
  2. Judaism believe that Satan is still God's employee and servant. God doesn't have enemies (ask a real jew on this).
  3. The writer of job think that that Satan is one of God's son. Ancient Judaism is polytheistic. It is a very common idea in ancient time to have one supreme God with sons as underlings.

I am choosing this 3rd interpretation. I don't say that the 3rd interpretation is true because I do not know if God or Satan even exist or not. I mean that the 3rd interpretation, which is the most natural interpretation is indeed what the author means. Then I will show why it's not so strange for a writer during biblical time to think that way.

Basically it will be quite obvious if we do not see bible as our scripture but a scripture of a some nomadic tribe that live 4k years ago. If we see an ancient scroll or tablet that says "bnei elohim" we would definitely know that it means sons of God literally.

The Anunnaki correspond to the "host of heaven" or "sons of God" of the Hebrews. Marduk allotted portions to the Anunnaki: "To the Anunnaki of heaven and earth {Marduk} had allotted their portions." Likewise, the Canaanite-Hebrew god El Elyon allotted portions to his sons: "When the Most High {Heb. Elyon} gave {allotted} to the nations their {portion of} inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God." (Deuteronomy 32:8 RSV)

Here, at least Marduk has another word for his "angels" called Anumakis. In tanach, Yahweh' "sons" are also called elohim. Those are often translated as angels on whims of translators even though it really means gods. Elohim is also the same word to describe Yahweh.

The word el (singular) is a standard term for "god" in Aramaic, paleo-Hebrew, and other related Semitic languages including Ugaritic. The Canaanite pantheon of gods was known as elohim (the gods [plural]).[citation needed] For instance, in the Ugaritic Baal cycle we read of "seventy sons of Asherah". Each "son of god" was held to be the originating deity for a particular people. (KTU2 1.4.VI.46).[6] A memory of this myth is contained in Genesis, describing the "sons of God" who lay with the "daughters of men". In post-exilic apocrypha these were identified as Nephelim, or fallen angels.[citation needed]

So may be it's strange for us to imagine that yahweh and his "angels" are gods. However, on the hebrew bible we call old testament, they are both called elohim.

I think the most natural meaning of the verses is yes Satan is one of God's son.

The actual words are Bnei Elohim. Bnei means son. Elohim means gods.

Elohim can sometimes be used to refer to one god (not necessarily Yahweh)

We can read more here

Modern christianity and jews interpret bnei Elohim to means so many things. Angels. Men. Whatever.

However it could mean what it literally says. Sons of gods. This may sound very politically incorrect nowadays. However, if we look around the torah, we see that it's not obvious that ancient judaism is monotheistic.

They are henotheistic.

Rabbinical Judaism as it developed in Late Antiquity is emphatically monotheistic, but its predecessor, the various schools of Hellenistic Judaism and Second Temple Judaism, and especially the cult of Yahweh as it was practiced in ancient Israel and Judah during the 8th and 7th centuries BC, have been described as henotheistic.

Basically the ancient jews believe, just like their neighbors believe, that each nation has a national god. Yahweh happens to be the god of Israel.

For example, most bible translators translate yahweh elohim as the Lord God. Obviously there is no capital letter in original bible. So let's just read that the lord god. But then again that's not even the most natural translation. Yahweh elohim is most naturally translated into God Yahweh. Yahweh is just one of the gods ancient jews believed to exist.

It seems that the writer of the bible think that Yahweh or Elyon had many sons.

There are many verses that suggest that. You can read more.

What about Judaism? Well they have a moderate position. Satan is still God's ally. Now, they don't believe that God has any sons. However, their ancestors didn't have that problem. Many beings are called bnei elohim after all.

Jews still believe that Satan is still working for God. It's not until the new testament we have an idea that Satan is an adversary of God.

So now we have to revise our understanding of Satan. Satan is not a fallen angel. Satan is merely an angel with a dirty job. Satan does not have a rival kingdom. Satan is not in competition with G-d, and Satan does not want followers or worshipers. He's not even happy when people obey him and sin.

In fact, judaism' belief is actually more reasonable. Do we honestly think God almighty have some arch enemy that's almost as powerful as him? If we reject that strange assumption, we would see that Satan, as everything else, is just God's subordinate.

Satan in Job and other places in old testaments seem to have a role in God's kingdom. More like district attorney whose job is to show that someone is guilty. God here is more like a judge.

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In the first chapter of the book of Hebrews the writer asked, "for unto which of the Angels said he at anytime, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be my son?" As you can see, according to the bible, Angels are NOT Sons of God. Satan IS a Son of God! Which is precisely why in the book of Revelation John calls him the Son of Perdition. Christ has celestial brothers. They are called "Princes" just as Christ is the Prince of Peace and Satan is called the Prince of Darkness. Some of Christ's celestial brothers aka "Fellows" according to Paul, rebelled against God. Satan wasn't the only one! We come to this conclusion when an Angel is withheld for 21 days by the "Prince of Persia" before getting to Daniel. And the only reason why the Angel was able to get away from the Prince was because God sent Archangel Michael to help him. Based on the bible, we can safely conclude that Satan is a Son of God. Angels are servants of God. The celestial Sons are Gods and they have power just as God. Which is most likely the reason why Satan thought that he could overthrow God.

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I'm very grateful for your participation here. We're a little different from a forum, so do take the site tour if you haven't already. Answers are expected to have informed argument, cite evidence (primary and secondary), and not simply offer speculation. You may want to see What are we looking for in answers?. – Paul Vargas Jun 3 at 20:50

Perhaps the best way to describe the "Elohim/elohiym" is the "One God" has many "sons"; the result of God's creation of those who bear His image and likeness.

Jesus illustrates this in John 10:34,

Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? 35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; 36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

This is taken from Ps.82:6-7 which says,

I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High. 7 But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.

To be "elohiym" is to carry immortality, which is a function of the spiritual creation that lives forever. This is the destiny of every created spirit, to live forever in the presence of Elohim.

Ha-Satan(the Opposer) was created as Lucifer(the Light-Bearer), however(Isa. 14:12-13) says,

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:

In Ezek. 28:14-15, it says,

Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

God had created "sons of God/angels"(elohiym) as immortal beings who would manifest His Glory in Heaven, and (Heb. 1:13-14)

But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

The fact that "Lucifer" became "Satan" did not exclude him from being a "son of God", although as Ps 82 states, "ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes", the "prince" here specifically refers to Satan, who was cast out of Heaven, and ultimately sent to the Lake of Fire reserved for him.

Hell from beneath is moved for thee to meet thee at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, even all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. 10 All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us?(Isa. 14:9-10)

To Answer the Question

The text in Job 1:6 is not clear as to who was and wasn't invited. Obviously the "Opposer" cannot be seen as one who is obedient to the Will of God. But that didn't exclude him from being an "elohiym"; albeit one who will burn forever in the Lake of Fire, although in this dispensation is "as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour(1 Pet. 5:8). For God to 'permit' Satan to have access to Job, it had to happen within the boundaries established by God, which were outlined in the rest of Job 1 and 2. Satan, who was cast out of Heaven, along with his angels(Ezek. 28:17/Rev. 12:9) does not walk in the counsel of God. But he is allowed access to men, as seen by Job, and also in other circumstances (1 Kings 22:22) to fulfill a particular purpose, and that is how we must read Job 1:6.

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I'd say Satan was a son of God before he sinned, but not now or at the time he appeared before God in Job.

No doubt Satan was summoned before God for accusing Job in his heart: "Have you considered my servant Job..." or in other words--"You have been considering my servant Job..."

Satan was believing that Job was not as righteous as he appeared, and that he could get Job to sin if God would take down "the hedge".

Job's perseverance showed up Satan and furthered his humiliation in that the lesser creation--man--had outdone the greater--angels.

Satan rebelled against God's economy--that the lesser would exceed the greater to the praise and glory of God the Creator.

Angels are God's ministers--God's appointed servants OF and TO mankind--a notion that did not sit well with Lucifer--a spectacular and unparallelled creation who thought himself a little TOO good for this kind of work or way of ranking.

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Welcome to Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange! We're a little different from other sites. This post contains a lot of assertions with no sources nor logical explanation arising solely from the text in question. Keep in mind that we expect posts to 'show their work' and that this is not a religious site. We strive to take a scholarly approach to the text. – Dan Dec 18 '13 at 6:12

It seems that anyone who is termed the "son of God" is someone who is directly created by God. Thus Adam is the "son of God" because he was directly created by God (Luke 3:38). Likewise, Jesus is the "son of God" because he was begotten by his heavenly father. Satan, like other angels, was created by the direct hand of God (Ezek 28:13), and therefore he too is a "son of God" (Job 1:6). Satan addressed Jesus as the "son of God," and yet Satan still believed that by tempting Jesus, he might cause Jesus to sin, and thus (like Satan) become a fallen son. The reason that one is a "son of God" in the New Testament era is that when you are born again, you receive eternal life, which was something you had not had as a spiritually dead person. (We are all sons of Adam, and therefore we are born spiritually dead.) That is, when you believe, your new spiritual life is the direct creation of God, and therefore the believer is termed a "son of God" (Gal 3:26).

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+1 I like your reasoning which broadly makes a lot of sense to me. It isn't as well formatted and clear as some of your other efforts though: if you have a few minutes would you be willing to break it up a little? Do pop into the site chat room, 'The Library', if you'd like me to show you what I mean. – Jack Douglas Dec 27 '12 at 20:54

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