Many argue that Satan is the master of music, referencing the KJV, NKJV and others, of Ezekiel 28:13 "the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created." However, other translations including the LXX Septuagint do not include this mention of musical instruments. I have found no other scripture that references Satan involved with music, other than this one (possibly incorrect) addition to scripture. Does the original text include musical instruments in this verse, and if not, why do several translations include it?


It is interesting that so many people think that Ezekiel 28:13 refers to Satan. The One Year Bible Companion says great care must be taken to read this passage with discernment. It says it is clear that Ezekiel describes this king in terms that could not apply to a mere man. Ezekiel may therefore have been condemning not only the king of Tyre, but Satan, who had motivated the king to sin. For others, this possibility is a certainty and has been elaborated on, with the ambiguous reference to pipes demonstrating that Satan was the master of music in heaven.

Looking at the context, we see that Ezekiel talks about the destruction of Ammon, Moab, Seir, Ammon, Edom and the Philistines in chapter 25, then Tyre and Sidon in chapter 26 - so the reference to Tyre is not an isolated reference. Ezekiel 27:1-26 is an expression of jealousy that Tyre had been so much more prosperous than Jerusalem, followed in 27:27-36 by the description of Tyre's downfall. Chapter 28 continues this lament, before moving on to the city of Sidon and finally promising to gather the people of Israel for their forthcoming return to Israel (28:25-26). Ezekiel seems to have singled Tyre out because of its former prosperity, emphasised by the reference to various gems and perhaps the pipes. Some translations refer to the Hebrew נֶ֫קֶב as 'pipes' because this fits the context, although the more literal translation appears to be 'sockets' used in jewellery, or to holes or hollows.

Akio Moriya and Gohei Hata (Pentateuchal Traditions in the Late Second Temple Period, page 159) say that Ezekiel is taunting the king of Tyre in verses 13-16, noting that what appear to be allusions to the biblical story of Adam could actually be from another, parallel story that Ezekiel knew about primal man. When we see this as a taunt, and when we see the allusion to what may be an extra-biblical creation story, it becomes hard to sustain a secondary meaning of an allusion to Satan.

  • Yeah, I had read a commentary that said that there was a Tyrian tradition that their King had been in a type of "Eden" and that Ezekiel was mocking it. I couldn't locate it in my library though so I can't cite it. But that the idea that this is about the Satan or that the Satan is lord of music is very, very far off the mark based on the addressee of the taunt within Ezekiel.
    – user10231
    Apr 25 '16 at 0:01
  • @WoundedEgo If you do come across that reference, I'd love to read an extract of it. (You could post it on chat). As Moriya and Hata point out, Ezekiel's reference does not appear to be from Genesis. Apr 25 '16 at 0:47
  • Will do. I believe it was Anchor Bible Ezekiel vol 2 by Moshe Greenberg.
    – user10231
    Apr 25 '16 at 0:53
  • Thank you. Your comment, "Some translations refer to the Hebrew נֶ֫קֶב as 'pipes' because this fits the context," I don't see in the text indications of musical instruments, only gems. Although I understand v13 is difficult to translate, how does "pipes" better fit into the context than sockets?
    – Chris
    Apr 26 '16 at 6:24
  • @Chris We think of wealthy kings as enjoying music. It "fits the context" but whether more so than sockets depends on the understanding of the translator - I did not express a view on this. Gems (also enjoyed in abundance by wealthy kings) are placed in sockets for display. Apr 26 '16 at 6:39

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