Growing up with the the New Living Translation, I had alway thought that Zechariah 3:1 said that Satan was accusing Yeshua:

Then the angel showed me Jeshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD. The Accuser, Satan, was there at the angel's right hand, making accusations against Jeshua.

However, reading the ESV (and seeing that many other translations have it similarly), it sounds like God may have shut up Satan before he had the chance to say anything:

1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

The infinitive in English could imply that he never actually got around to doing it. Does the Hebrew verb here, or any other grammatical or discourse considerations offer insight into whether Satan actually had a chance to state any of his accusations? or did he get shut down from the getgo?

1 Answer 1


In the English the infinitive here serves as the content of a purpose clause. It's hard to extract temporal aspect from infinitives without context, which appears to indicate that Satan did not have this opportunity.

לְשִׂטְנֹֽו in verse looks to be a Hiphil (purpose) stem of the sin-tet-nun root. The lamed prefix reinforces this since it indicates purpose.

I don't think that grammatical analysis can really help here. I think that we need to rely on immediate context which seems to indicate that God intervened and rebuked Satan before the accusations occurred.

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