Satan (Standard Hebrew Satan'el, English accuser) is a term that originates from the Abrahamic religions, being traditionally applied to an angel in Judeo-Christian belief, and to a jinn in Islamic belief.
Originally, this figure was the one who challenged the religious faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible. Since then, the Abrahamic religions have variously regarded Satan as a rebellious fallen angel or demon that tempts humans to sin or commit evil deeds. Others regard the Biblical Satan as an allegory that represents a crisis of faith, individualism, free will, wisdom and enlightenment.
The word 'Satan', and the Arabic شيطان "shaitan", may derive from a Northwest Semitic root , meaning "to be hostile", "to accuse." An alternative explanation is provided by the Hebrew in Job 1:7. When God asks him whence he has come, Satan answers: "From wandering () the earth and walking on it" (מִשּׁוּט בָּאָרֶץ, וּמֵהִתְהַלֵּךְ בָּה). The root signifies wandering on foot or sailing. 'Satan' would thus be "the Wanderer".
The Apocrypha are religious writings which are not generally accepted as scripture by Judaism and many modern-day Protestant sects of Christianity. These works usually bore the names of ancient Hebrew worthies in order to establish their validity among the true writers' contemporaries. To reconcile the late appearance of the texts with their claims to primitive antiquity, alleged authors are represented as "shutting up and sealing" (Dan. XII. 4:9) the works until the time of their fulfillment had arrived; as the texts were not meant for their own generations but for far-distant ages (also cited in Assumption of Moses I. 16:17).
The 2nd Book of Enoch, also called the Slavonic Book of Enoch, contains references to a Watcher Grigori called Satanael. It is a pseudepigraphic text of an uncertain date and unknown authorship. The text describes Satanael as being the prince of the Grigori who was cast out of heaven and an evil spirit who knew the difference between what was "righteous" and "sinful". A similar story is found in the book of 1 Enoch; however, in that book, the leader of the Grigori is called Semjâzâ.
The Book of Enoch contains references to Satariel, thought also to be Sataniel and Satan'el (etymology dating back to Babylonian origins). The similar spellings mirror that of his angelic brethren Michael, Raphael, Uriel and Gabriel, previous to his expulsion from Heaven.
Where Satan does appear in the Bible, he plays the role of the Accuser.
According to the article on 'Satan' in the Jewish Encyclopedia, Satan's role as the accuser is found:
The Talmud mentions the Satan in many places. In all of these places, the Satan is merely an agent of God, and has no independent existence. Sometimes the Satan is conflated with various demons, such as Asmodai. At times there is even some sympathy for him. Commenting on the Book of Job, the rabbis express sympathy that his job was to "break the barrel but not spill any wine."
In Kabbalistic literature and its derivative, Hasidic literature, the Satan is seen as an agent of God whose job is to tempt one into sin, and then turn around and accuse the sinner on high. An additional understanding of Satan is from a parable to a prostitute who is hired by the King (God) to tempt his son (a Jew). The prostitute has to do the best she can to tempt the son; but deep down she hopes the son will pass the test. Similarly, Kabbalistic/Hasidic thought sees the Satan in the same situation. His job is to tempt us as best he can; turn around and accuse us; but deep down his wish is that we would resist his blandishments.
See main article: Devil in Christianity.
See also: War in Heaven.
In Christianity, terms that are synonymous with 'Satan' include:
In mainstream Christianity's understanding of the holy Hebrew scriptures, the Torah, Satan is a synonym for the Devil. For most Christians, he is believed to be an angel who rebelled against God— and also the one who spoke through the serpent and seduced Eve into disobeying God's command. His ultimate goal is to lead people away from the love of God — to lead them to fallacies which God opposes. Satan is also identified as the accuser of Job, the tempter in the Gospels, the secret power of lawlessness in Thessalonians 2:7, and the dragon in the Book of Revelation. Before his alleged insurrection, Satan was among the highest of all angels and the "brightest in the sky." His pride is considered a reason why he would not bow to God as all other angels did, but sought to rule heaven himself. The popularly held beliefs that Satan was once a prideful angel who eventually rebels against God, however, are barely portrayed explicitly in the Bible and are mostly based on inference. Moreover, in mainstream Christianity he is called "the ruler of the demons" (Matt. 12:24), "the ruler of the world" and even "the god of this world." (2 Cor. 4:4). The Book of Revelation describes how Satan will be cast out of Heaven, down to the earth, having "great anger" and waging war against "those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus". Ultimately, Satan is thrown into the "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:10), not as ruler, but as one among many, being tormented day and night for all eternity.
In other, non-mainstream, Christian beliefs (e.g. the beliefs of the Christadelphians) the word "satan" in the Bible is not regarded as referring to a supernatural, personal being but to any 'adversary' and figuratively refers to human sin and temptation.
While Shaitan (شيطان, from the root) is an adjective (meaning "astray" or "distant", sometimes translated as "devil") that can be applied to both man ("al-ins", الإنس) and Jinn, Iblis is the personal name of the Devil who is mentioned in the Qur'anic account of Genesis.
Whenever the Qur'an refers to the creature who refused to prostrate before Adam at the time of the latter's creation, it refers to him as Iblis. The Islamic view of Iblis has both similarities and differences with Christian and Jewish views. The character of Satan is generally similar to the one presented in Judeo-Christian thought. However, according to Islamic belief, Satan is not considered to be a 'fallen' angel, but a jinn who was among the ranks of angels due to his wisdom and piety; in Islamic belief, angels always follow God's commands, but jinns (like humans) have free will, which explains why Satan was able to rebel against God's command of bowing to Adam.
Although some other faiths may have an evil figure or entity likened to Satan (see Devil), few have a figure actually named 'Satan'.
In the Bahá'í Faith, 'Satan' is not regarded as an independent evil power as he is in some faiths, but signifies the "base nature" of humans. `Abdu'l-Bahá explains: "This lower nature in man is symbolized as Satan -- the evil ego within us, not an evil personality outside."
See main article: Satanism and LaVeyan Satanism. Much "Satanic" lore does not originate from actual Satanists, but from Christians. Best-known would be the medieval folklore and theology surrounding demons and witches. A more recent example is the so-called Satanic ritual abuse scare of the 1980s; beginning with the memoir Michelle Remembers – which depicts Satanism as a vast conspiracy of elites with a predilection for child abuse and human sacrifice. This genre regularly describes Satan as actually appearing in person in order to receive worship. Claims of Satanic child-molesting or murder rings are largely unsubstantiated.
In art and literature, Satan has been depicted in numerous ways throughout history. According to one interpretation of the book of Genesis, Satan is identified as the serpent who convinced Eve to eat the forbidden fruit; thus, Satan has often been depicted as a serpent. (However, some care to argue that Lilith was the one who persuaded Eve to take this act upon herself.) This interpretation goes back at least as far as the time of the writing of the book of Revelation, which specifically identifies Satan as being the serpent (Rev. 20:2). In truth, Genesis makes no direct reference to the serpent having another identity, Satan or any other. It has been postulated by many Biblical scholars that Eden's snake is just a snake, able to speak, reason, and tempt Eve because it serves the explanatory purpose.
. Bernard J. Bamberger. Fallen Angels: Soldiers of Satan's Realm. Jewish Publication Society of America. 2006. 0-8276-0797-0.
. Neil Forsyth. The Old Enemy: Satan & the Combat Myth. Princeton University Press; Reprint edition. 1987. 0-691-01474-4.
. Kenneth L. Jr. Gentry. The Beast of Revelation. American Vision. 2002. 0-915815-41-9.
. Kersey Graves. Biography of Satan: Exposing the Origins of the Devil. Book Tree. 1995. 1-885395-11-6.
. Elaine Pagels. The Origin of Satan. Vintage; Reprint edition. 1995. 0-679-72232-7.
. Maximilian Rudwin. The Devil in Legend and Literature. Open Court. 1970. 0-87548-248-1.
. Jeffrey Burton Russell. The Devil: Perceptions of Evil from Antiquity to Primitive Christianity. Cornell University Press; Reprint edition. 1977. 0-8014-9413-3.