Satan comes from the Hebrew word meaning “the adversary.” In the Old Testament the term Satan when used commonly refers to a function, not a proper name. An example is seen in the Chronicles of Jerahmeel, the fallen angel is described as the chief of the Satans. Gradually throughout the generations Satan became the Adversary par excellence, the infernal Lord of Demons governing the armies of Hell.
However, in the Book of Job Satan makes him memorable appearance as the Adversary when with God’s permission he tests Job’s faithfulness to God. Throughout the Old Testament and into the New Testament Satan retains this position as tempter of men on the behalf of God and adversary. In the New Testament he stands in direct opposition to Christ, therefore the zenith of evil. Many no longer recognize the importance the importance of Satan’s position as the tempter of men because they think that over all the generations the humankind has betrayed the Lord that God would have acknowledged humankind’s weaknesses and depend less on Satanic temptation. Therefore it is generally acknowledged that the principle role of Satan and the multitude of demons or devils which he commands is to torture and torment human beings. This includes Satanists who ally with and depend on Satan in mutual supporting role to carry out their plans. Many Satanists figure the trouble which Satan and his demons give them just strengthens them.
The main description of him originates from the Abrahamic Religions, Hebrew, as the accuser. He is evil personified, the tempter of men. He acquired this position, according to Hebrew tradition, by sinning against God. Generally this is described as a sin of pride. Other legends say the God wanted Satan to honor, bow to man, and Satan refused. Some add that he loved God so that he refused to bow to the human. This made God, Yahweh the jealous God of the Jews, furious and he cast him from heaven into hell. From hell he became the accuser and tempter of the human race. This is the role he played in Genesis, tempting Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the Book of Job, tempting Job.
As the tempter Satan tests men to sees if they will remain faithful to God. According to Hebrew tradition he does so with God’s permission. Such belief is continued in Christian tradition. However, this belief has declined among many because of man’s many failures throughout the centuries; they reason God no longer needs to tempt man to know he will be unfaithful. Also, the entire concept of God testing man seems ridiculous if God is omniscience since God knows the past, present, and future, therefore, God knows the future actions of men, also Adam. If God needs to test men then he is not omniscience.
Within the previous argument that Satan refused to adore man which caused God’s anger one sees another contradiction. Both God and Satan are spiritual deities, therefore, why would God ask Satan to adore physical man? This conviction just makes sense only when viewing it from the human viewpoint. God would not ask a spiritual being to adore a physical one, a spiritual being possesses more powerful qualities and capabilities. Two explanations are possible: the jealous Jewish God was unjustly exercting his power or this portion of the legend was written by man so to emphasize man’s importance.
In spite of the previous contradictions most Christians continue holding the Biblical concept of Satan; he is a malevolent spiritual god-like being possessing demonic (evil) powers who opposes God and tempts and torments mankind. Seen as the Devil, who can do no good, the opposite of Christ, is view which can be traced back to Zoroastrianism, the two opposing brothers, good and evil.
But this dark view of Satan has not always been held by everyone. The Gnosticic Christians around the second century BCE held Satan befriended man. He gave him knowledge and enlightenment, gnosis. The God of the orthodox Christians was the demiurge; he entrapped the soul of man within the material, the flesh.
One can find such sentiment within modern Satanists, particularly those believing that Satan is only an energy force, and the theistic Satanists who believe Satan to be both a deity and a force. La Veyan Satanists of the Church of Satan only honor Satan as a force whereas the theistic Satanists honor him both as a deity and a force. Both do not view Satan as all evil but as helping others deserving of the help and themselves. Also, and most important, the theistic Satanists do not fear the lost of their souls as Christians do but vigorously use their souls to help themselves and others deserving their help.
Satan is equivalent in infernal rank to Lucifer, Leviathan, Belial as they all have placed at the head on the infernal hierarchy by various traditions. Berbiguier in his nineteeth-century work Les Fardates depicts Satan as a deposed prince and leader of an opposition which was ousted by Beelzebub. This same hierarchy is again described and repeated by A. E. Waite in his treatment of the Grand Grimoire. In Mathers’ 1898 translation of the Sacred Magic of Abramelin the Mage, Satan is identified as one of the four principle spirits overseeing all other demons in the work. Satan is equal in rank to Lucifer, Leviathan, and Belial in the Munich Handbook. In this work he is invoked several times but frequently his name is spelled Sathan. A.G.H.
Belanger, Michelle. The Dictionary of Demons: Names of the Damned. Llewellen Publications. 2010. ebook.
Chrinicles of Jerahmeel. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chronicles_of_Jerahmeel>
Chrinicles of Jerahmeel. <http://www.sacred-texts.com/bib/coj/index.htm>