I first saw 'the satan' on Wikipedia. Satan is listed 49 times in the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. I did not look at every verse, but of the many I did review, not one is translated 'the satan'. Satan is designated as a person / being because he speaks with others. He 'works', he 'hinders', 'tempts', is a 'liar', etc. Jesus 'rebuked' Satan and told him to 'get out of here' (paraphrased). He argued with God (Job).

Per Strongs Concordance: 4567. Satanas Search for G4567 in KJVSL satanaV Satanas sat-an-as' of Chaldee origin corresponding to 4566 (with the definite affix); the accuser, i.e. the devil:--Satan.


2 Answers 2


The Hebrew noun satan, along with related nouns and verbs, are semi-common in the Hebrew scriptures. These terms are used in a variety of contexts and refer to a variety of individuals. In English, satan literally means something like 'opponent', 'adversary', or 'accuser'. The term is not a name, but a descriptive label for the action someone is taking.

In Numbers 22.22,32, for example, it is an angel explicitly acting on God's behalf who is identified as a satan, meaning 'adversary'.

In 1 Samuel 29.4, it is David who is called the satan (adversary) of the Philistines.

In other passages, satan refers to humans acting as enemies to the king of Israel (2 Samuel 19.22; First Kings 5.4; 11.14,23,25).

In yet another, the term satan describes an accuser in a court setting, who stands to the right of the person being accused (Psalm 109.6).

By the time we arrive at the new testament, the term is certainly used in a more systematic sense for a particular angel figure (i.e. the angel we find in Job 1-2 and Zechariah 3), but nothing in the text of either the Hebrew scriptures or the new testament suggests it should be understood as a name.

However, simply calling this angel the satan does not mean it is being reduced to an inanimate object or a symbol. It simply describes the kind of action this angel takes: he is the 'accuser' or 'adversary', i.e. he is the satan. This is no different than calling someone 'the king'.

  • I now understand "the satan" = "the accuser". Could be 'the defendant" though not giving a name. What about Lucifer, the Devil? What I mean is, when do we shift from labels to what we term names? Moses = Moses, to us, and we don't call him "drawn from the water"... I suppose I am answering my own question; in our culture Satan, the Devil, and Lucifer all typically refer to a fallen angelic being, or at least it used to...
    – user3380
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 2:19
  • 1
    @user3380 You've asked a new question in a comment. If you have another question, please ask it by clicking the Ask Question button (although you should also search the site for 'Lucifer' first, as we may have already answered your question).
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 7, 2014 at 23:42

הַשָּׂטָן ha-Satan, is the term used for accuser or opposer; he opposes God(and man), and stands in the way to accuse them:(Zech. 3:1-2)

And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him. 2 And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan

In another example, Satan deliberately seeks to oppose men:(Job 1:9-12)

Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? 10 Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. 11 But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. 12 And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord.

What one must very carefully recognize is that God does not afflict Job, Satan does.> In Rev. 20:1-3, it says:

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.

This equates him with "serpent" that tempted Eve in the Garden of Eden(Gen. 3:1-4), and it is important to note; because although angels have names(Michael, Gabriel, Raphael(from the Book of Tobit), fallen angels do not; rather, they take on the 'name' of their demonic activity(spirit of infirmity, deaf and dumb spirit, or, if they are a 'higher order', "Prince of Persia", "Prince of Greece", and it could be said of Satan himself "King of Tyre":(Ezek. 28:12-14)

"Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say

unto him, Thus saith the Lord God; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 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. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. 16 By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.


I believe that this is because they already are under judgement; we read in Matt. 25:41,

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:

Hell was prepared for Satan and his fallen angels-there is no repentance allowed. Therefore, Lucifer(Light-Bearer) of Isa. 14:12, becomes ha-Satan, the opposer.


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