Satan the Mainstay of Sacerdotalism

Mahomet and his disciples, who held Jesus in great respect as a prophet, remarks Eliphas Levi, used to utter, when speaking of Christians, the following remarkable words: "Jesus of Nazareth was verily a true prophet of Allah and a grand man; but lo! his disciples all went insane one day, and made a god of him."

Max Müller kindly adds: "It was a mistake of the early Fathers to treat the heathen gods as demons or evil spirits, and we must take care not to commit the same error with regard to the Hindu gods." *

But we have Satan presented to us as the prop and mainstay of sacerdotism — an Atlas, holding the Christian heaven and cosmos upon his shoulders. If he falls, then, in their conception, all is lost, and chaos must come again.

This dogma of the Devil and redemption seems to be based upon two passages in the New Testament: "For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might

* "Comparative Mythology," April, 1856.

destroy the works of the Devil."* "And there was war in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon; and the Dragon fought, and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great Dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world." Let us, then, explore the ancient Theogonies, in order to ascertain what was meant by these remarkable expressions.

The first inquiry is whether the term Devil, as here used, actually represents the malignant Deity of the Christians, or an antagonistic, blind force — the dark side of nature. By the latter we are not to understand the manifestation of any evil principle that is malum in se, but only the shadow of the Light, so to say. The theories of the kabalists treat of it as a force which is antagonistic, but at the same time essential to the vitality, evolving, and vigor of the good principle. Plants would perish in their first stage of existence, if they were kept exposed to a constant sunlight; the night alternating with the day is essential to their healthy growth and development. Goodness, likewise, would speedily cease to be such, were it not alternated by its opposite. In human nature, evil denotes the antagonism of matter to the spiritual, and each is accordingly purified thereby. In the cosmos, the equilibrium must be preserved; the operation of the two contraries produce harmony, like the centripetal and centrifugal forces, and are necessary to each other. If one is arrested, the action

of the other will immediately become destructive.

This personification, denominated Satan, is to be contemplated from three different planes: the Old Testament, the Christian Fathers, and the ancient Gentile altitude. He is supposed to have been represented by the Serpent in the Garden of Eden; nevertheless, the epithet of Satan is nowhere in the Hebrew sacred writings applied to that or any other variety of ophidian. The Brazen Serpent of Moses was worshipped by the Israelites as a god;+ being the symbol of Esmun-Asklepius the Phrenician Iao. Indeed, the character of Satan himself is introduced in the 1st book of Chronicles in the act of instigating King David to number the Israelitish people, an act elsewhere declared specifically to have been moved by Jehovah himself.} The inference is unavoidable that the two, Satan and Jehovah, were regarded as identical.

Another mention of Satan is found in the prophecies of Zechariah. This book was written at a period subsequent to the f 2 Kings, xviii. 4. It is probable that the fiery serpents or Seraphim mentioned in the twenty-first chapter of the Book of Numbers were the same as the Levites, or Ophite tribe. Compare Exodus xxxii. 26-29 with Numbers xxi. 5-9. The names Heva, hwt, Hivi or Hivite, w!h , and Levi Ywl, all signify a serpent; and it is a curious fact that the Hivites, or serpent-tribe of Palestine, like the Levites or Ophites of Israel, were ministers to the temples. The Gibeonites, whom Joshua assigned to the service of the sanctuary, were Hivites.

J 1 Chronicles, xxi. 1: "And Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel." 2d Samuel, xxiv. 1: "And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say: 'Go, number Israel and Judah.' "

Jewish colonization of Palestine, and hence, the Asideans may fairly be supposed to have brought the personification thither from the East. It is well-known that this body of sectaries were deeply imbued with the Mazdean notions; and that they represented Ahriman or Anra-manyas by the god-names of Syria. Set or Sat-an, the god of the Hittites and Hyk-sos, and Beel-Zebub the oracle-god, afterward the Grecian Apollo. The prophet began his labors in Judea in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, the restorer of the Mazdean worship. He thus describes the encounter with Satan: "He showed me Joshua the high-priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to be his adversary. And the Lord said unto Satan: 'The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?' "*

We apprehend that this passage which we have quoted is symbolical. There are two allusions in the New Testament that indicate that it was so regarded. The Catholic Epistle of Jude refers to it in this peculiar language: "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the Devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, did not venture to utter to him a reviling judgment (Kpiaiv ¿neveyKeiv pAaa^nM^g), but said, 'The Lord rebuke thee.' "+ The archangel Michael is thus mentioned as identical with the mrp Lord, or angel of the Lord, of the preceding quotation, and thus is shown that the

* Zechariah iii. 1, 2. A pun or play on words is noticeable; "adversary" is associated with "Satan," as if from !jX , to oppose. f Jude 9.

Hebrew Jehovah had a twofold character, the secret and that manifested as the angel of the Lord, or Michael the archangel. A comparison between these two passages renders it plain that "the body of Moses" over which they contended was Palestine, which as "the land of the Hittites"} was the peculiar domain of Seth, their tutelar god.§ Michael, as the champion of the Jehovah-worship, contended with the Devil or Adversary, but left judgment to his superior.

Belial is not entitled to the distinction of either god or devil. The term 'w^n, BELIAL, is defined in the Hebrew lexicons to mean a destroying, waste, uselessness; or the phrase y^'^'tf or Belial-man signifies a wasteful, useless man. If Belial must be personified to please our religious friends, we would be obliged to make him perfectly distinct from Satan, and to consider him as a sort of spiritual "Diakka." The demonographers, however, who enumerate nine distinct orders of daimonia, make him chief of the third class — a set of hobgoblins, mischievous and good-for-nothing.

Asmodeus is no Jewish spirit at all, his origin being purely Persian. Breal, the author of Hercule et Cacus, shows that he is the Parsi Eshem-Dev, or Aeshma-dev, the evil spirit of

J In the "Assyrian Tablets," Palestine is called "the land of the Hittites"; and the Egyptian Papyri, declaring the same thing, also make Seth, the "pillar-god," their tutelar deity.

§ Seth, Suteh, or Sat-an, was the god of the aboriginal nations of Syria. Plutarch makes him the same as Typhon. Hence he was god of Goshen and Palestine, the countries occupied by the Israelites.

concupiscence, whom Max Müller tells us "is mentioned several times in the Avesta as one of the Devs,* originally gods, who became evil spirits."

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