sa'tansMany adults are surprised to find out that Satan is not mentioned at all in Genesis. (It is only later Christian Biblicists who tell us that the serpent in the Garden of Eden story is Satan. The text itself only mentions a serpent.) The noun formed from the Hebrew letters “S” “T” and “N” is only used 13 times in the Hebrew Bible outside of the book of Job. (This article is going to omit the anomalous usage in the book of Job for the sake of getting trying to get to a point about humanity.) When the word is used, it is without a definite article. That is it’s not ST”N with a capital “S”, but with a lowercase “s”. The Hebrew isn’t talking about a being with the name S”TN but rather about anyone who is an adversary.

Take a look at these two (of the 13) examples and you will see how the word isn’t meant as an incarnate, external force for evil, but rather as the word “adversary”.

  • Numbers 22:22: “And the angel of the LORD stood in the way as an adversary against him.” (The angel was standing there as an adversary. Not that the angel was satan!)
  • In the books of Samuel, once the Philistines say that King David is a satan/adversary against them and once David says that the sons of Zeruiah are acting as satans/adversaries against him. (1 Samuel 29:4 & 2 Samuel 19:22)

I’m going to advise that we switch, revise, and possibly do a 180 on our thinking about people who oppose us.

Let us not view them as the devil incarnate, but rather, as adversaries – there to test our mettle a little.

Oprah used to say something that went along the lines of this:

First life is going to nudge you in a certain direction. If you don’t listen to that nudge, life is going to push you. If you don’t listen to that push, life is going to shove you.

Similarly, there is this beautiful quote by the author and spiritual teacher A. H. Almaas about struggle:

Your conflicts, all the difficult things, the problematic situations in your life are not chance or haphazard. They are actually yours. They are specifically yours, designed specifically for you by a part of you that loves you more than anything else. The part of you that loves you more than anything else has created roadblocks to lead you to yourself. Without something pricking you in the side saying ‘Look here! This way!’ you are not going to go in the right direction.

There is a part of you that loves you so much that it doesn’t want you to lose the chance of figuring something out. It simply won’t stop at nudging you – it will go to great means to wake you up. It will make you suffer greatly if you don’t listen. What else can it do? That is its purpose.

This week’s #wisdom_biscuit: What if all the difficult things in your life are there to help you? Their purpose is to help wake you and live life to its fullest.


Few problems are solved by an email your in-box.

This is an exception.

40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

Wonderful! You did it. Look for an email soon! (Unless you want to work on your patience, of course.)