In both Job 1:7 and 2:2 Satan says to God:

And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Job1:7

And the Lord said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. Job 2:2

I am not well versed in Hebrew. What does the term mean and what was Satan busy doing because I see this term used in Dan. 12:4:

But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased. Dan. 12:4

In Daniel 12 it seems like the running to and fro is used to describe the physical action that would take place when studying Daniel's open scroll. What does the term mean in Job and what is it saying about Satan's activity?

2 Answers 2


The Hebrew in all three cited scriptures is שׁוּט or about (Strong's H7751) which means:

go about, through, to and fro, mariner, rower, run to and fro

A primitive root; properly, to push forth; (but used only figuratively) to lash, i.e. (the sea with oars) to row; by implication, to travel -- go (about, through, to and fro), mariner, rower, run to and fro.

In Daniel 12:4, the word is describing the frantic nature of people in the time of the end. Whereas Job is talking about Satan's actions. This is paralleled with Peter's words later on:

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: (1 Peter 5:8 KJV) [bold mine]

So the verses in Job are talking about how Satan is looking for an opportunity to turn people to his unrighteous course. This is especially true of those that are in direct opposition to Satan and doing Jehovah God's will.

  • Interesting connection with 1 Peter! +1 Commented May 21, 2022 at 21:05

The answer to this question might be found in the Septuagint text version.

Job 1:7: καὶ εἶπεν ὁ κύριος τῷ διαβόλῳ Πόθεν παραγέγονας; καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ διάβολος τῷ κυρίῳ εἶπεν Περιελθὼν τὴν γῆν καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσας τὴν ὑπ᾽ οὐρανὸν πάρειμι.

Job 2:2: καὶ εἶπεν ὁ κύριος τῷ διαβόλῳ Πόθεν σὺ ἔρχῃ; τότε εἶπεν ὁ διάβολος ἐνώπιον τοῦ κυρίου Διαπορευθεὶς τὴν ὑπ᾽ οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσας τὴν σύμπασαν πάρειμι.

Note that while the Hebrew Masoretic text has these two verses in almost identical wording to each other, in the Old Greek text there are important differences between these verses in the vocabulary used. I will try to make sense of the meaning by translating the relevant differences and will embolden some of the most crucial elements.
The word Πόθεν is translated as whence, but that can mean several things:

1.whence?, from where?
2.whence?, from what source?
3.wherefore?, why?, how?, for what reason?, how come?  

In Job 1:7 Πόθεν is followed by παραγέγονας, traditionally simply translated as "from where have you come?". But παραγίνομαι is a construct of παρα and γίνομαι and that verb has the meaning of to come into being, to happen, to become. When we combine this more literal meaning with the third sense of purpose of Πόθεν, this question Πόθεν παραγέγονας can be translated as something like: "For what purpose did you come into being?" When we follow this translation the rest of this verse will give us the information what Satan was actually doing: Περιελθὼν τὴν γῆν καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσας τὴν ὑπ᾽ οὐρανὸν πάρειμι. This can be translated as: "Going around the earth trampling on it where I am under the sky." So Satan brings destruction wherever he goes while going around the earth. Satan seems to be the personification of (ill) Fate, that is his purpose.

Now we have a theory what Satan really is, we can look at the other verse to test this theory:
In Job 2:2 God's question is worded as Πόθεν σὺ ἔρχῃ, which simply translates as "from where or what did you come?" The rest of this verse is also completely different from 1:7 as there is no mention of going around the earth, but instead the word Διαπορευθεὶς is used which translates as carrying, conducting through, one could even say performing an action or task. Then follows that Διαπορευθεὶς τὴν ὑπ᾽ οὐρανὸν καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσας τὴν σύμπασαν πάρειμι can be translated as: "Performing it (the task) where I am under the sky and trampling it all together." If the normal task of Satan was to randomly patrol the earth, spreading destruction wherever his path under the sky took him, in this case there was deliberate intent to bring multiple destructions to one particular place under the sky. The assumed theory about Satan's purpose as Fate seems to fit the context of both verses as it plays out in the story of Job.

To understand what made Fate/Satan behave differently between the two verses we have to look at Job 8:8-12 of the Septuagint text in the translation of Brenton:

8 And the Lord said to him, Hast thou diligently considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a man blameless, true, godly, abstaining from everything evil? 9 Then the devil answered, and said before the Lord, Does Job worship the Lord for nothing? 10 Hast thou not made a hedge about him, and about his household, and all his possessions round about? and hast thou not blessed the works of his hands, and multiplied his cattle upon the land? 11 But put forth thine hand, and touch all that he has: verily he will bless thee to thy face. 12 Then the Lord said to the devil, Behold, I give into thine hand all that he has, but touch not himself. So the devil went out from the presence of the Lord.

So far God protected Job and all his possessions. That's why he never was affected by any ill Fate. Satan insinuates that Job's showing such an upstanding character is only because of that. If only he would be affected by serious mishap, let's see if he still blesses God. The wordplay with "hand" is interesting. Satan proposes God should send forth his hand against Job and touch all he has and God delegates the task back to Satan by giving all into his hand. By this Job is now singled out to fall victim to destruction of his possessions; the protection is lifted. One gets the perception that in the end Fate is just an extension or delegate of God himself, given the context here one might even call Satan God's right hand(pun intended) in fact he showed up among the angels of the Lord in Job 1:6 in the first place.

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