Monday, September 5, 2011

Who is Satan, Lucifer or the Devil?

1. Satan - The name ‘Satan’ is a 10th century English word. It comes from the Semitic root "Stn," which represents opposition or adversary. The root word created a Hebrew word, "sathane", and meaning adversary. In original Jewish usage, it is found in the book of Job. The Satan is the mental adversary, not of the Divine, but of mankind. It is a human mental condition or state as an opposite of the mental state of goodness; not a person.

Thus, Satan' is not a person, a real character or being but a personification of an adversarial role or evil to test the genuineness of human virtue. As a fictitious creature, 'Satan' is used to scare people as we do with children so that they obey rules without questioning and when they are too young or immature to understand their purpose.

'Sin' in Greek is "hamartia," which is a state or condition of an "intellectual error in judgmental reasoning." Understanding this concept of 'sin' affirms the freedom and the acceptance of the full responsibility and consequences for one’s own actions. A person can only achieve victory over gross or beastly passions through knowledge. We are by nature NOT sinful or unclean but we drift away by thoughts, words and actions from our own inborn highest potential or divine selves (Genesis 1:27; 2:7 and Psalms 82:6) and by living a life in the lower stages of consciousness, like the prodigal son who chose to be in self-exile and later lived the life of pigs. We should not blame "Adam and Eve," ancestors, parents or anyone for our own transgressions of an "intellectual error in judgmental reasoning." The source of ALL evil is hate, greed and ignorance.   

We are not sinners, we just make mistakes. In Hebrew, there is no word for sin. The (scriptural) word "Chet" appears in reference to an arrow, which "missed the target." The archer is not "bad." Rather, he makes a mistake - due to a lack of focus, concentration or skill. To avoid mistakes and achieve our fullest potential, get an education about life which is buried deep inside you and human nature.” - Rabbi Noah Weinberg, 'The ABC's of Judaism'

2. Lucifer is a Latin word meaning "light bearer" (from lux, lucis, "light", and ferre, "to bear, bring"), a Roman astrological term for the "Morning Star", the planet Venus. (Catholic Encyclopedia, 1913. New York: Robert Appleton Company). 

Christians have used the words ‘Satan’ and ‘Lucifer’ interchangeably, while some authors have referred to Lucifer as Satan's name before his expulsion from Heaven.

The word ‘Lucifer’ was the scriptural translation of the Septuagint Greek heosphoros, "dawn-bearer" and phosphoros, "light-bearer". It is itself the translation of the Hebrew Helel ben Shahar, (Jewish Encyclopedia) i.e. ‘Son of Dawn’.

The name Lucifer was first applied to Satan around 400 CE by St. Jerome, a former hermit who served as secretary to Pope Damasus. St. Jerome was responsible for the Latin ‘Vulgate Bible,’ translated the word into the Latin ‘Lucifer,’ which refers to Venus.  The Latin ‘Vulgate Bible’ is the authorized scriptural version of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lucifer is the term originally used by the Romans to refer to the planet Venus when the planet was west of the sun and hence rose before the sun in the morning, thereby being the morning star. The ancient Greeks and Romans both used different words for this planet when it appeared in the morning sky from its appearance in the evening sky.

The Greeks called it ‘Hesperus’ in the evening and ‘Phosphorus’ in the morning; while the Romans later called it Venus in the evening and Lucifer in the morning. Hence, the translation of the Hebrew, via Greek, into Latin (i.e., from the Hebrew to the Septuagint in the Vulgate), naturally would introduce the word "Lucifer" as the correct Latin translation of the Hebrew. 

Isaiah 14:12 in The New International Version, the verse is as follows: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations.”

And the Good News Bible: “King of Babylon, bright morning star, you have fallen from heaven! In the past you conquered nations, but now you have been thrown to the ground”

The word is applied by the writer of the prophecy to the King of Babylon, partly in reference to the astrology for which Chaldea was famous in ancient times, partly to the prevailing belief in the deification of heroes. The King of Babylon had complacently looked forward to the time when he would ascend into heaven and exalt his throne above the stars of the Divine. But in reality his dead body would be treated with the utmost contempt.

''A carcass trodden under foot”, while his soul would descend into Sheol, and there receive but an empty honour from the shades, astounded that the great and mighty king could become like one of themselves. - F.H. Woods, A Dictionary of the Bible Vol. III. (Edited by James Hastings, 1908)

The myth about the fall of Lucifer from heaven to the underworld is of non-Christian origin. It was derived from the Greek cosmic power of Hephaestus (the god of technology, blacksmiths, craftsmen, artisans, sculptors, metals and metallurgy, and fire, whose Roman equivalent was Vulcan) who fell from Mt. Olympus (the highest mountain in Greece in which they considered as the home of the Olympians, the principal divinities in the Greek pantheon i.e. temple of all divinities) to the nether regions, where his forges were located.

In ancient art, Hephaestus is depicted as lame from the fall. Later the word was used to the demon of sinful pride in ‘Paradise Lost,’ an epic poem by the 17th-century English poet John Milton. The poem grapples with many difficult theological issues, including fate, predestination and the Trinity. It was originally published in 1667 and a second edition followed in 1674.

The poem concerns the scriptural story of the ‘Fall of Man’ i.e. the ‘temptation’ of Adam and Eve by the serpent and their ‘expulsion’ from the Garden of Eden. John Milton's purpose, stated in Book I of the Paradise Lost, is "justify the ways of God to men" (Milton 1674, 4:26) and elucidate the conflict between the Divine's eternal foresight and free will and discernment.

Based on and for more reading, “Some Light on Lucifer”

Heaven (n.) Old English heofon, earlier "sky, firmament," probably from Proto-Germanic. *hibin-, dissimilated from *himin- (cf. Low German heben, Old Norse himinn, Gothic himins, Old Frisian himul, Dutch hemel, German Himmel "heaven, sky"), perhaps from the prehistoric language of Eurasia root *kem-/*kam- "to cover" (cf.chemise). There is nothing to do with the place of residence of the Divine nor a place of reward for the good but dead.

The concept of Heaven arises from Zoroastrian ‘Spenta Armainti,’ a righteous society, which is not in the skies beyond the clouds, but on earth. It is a home, a neighbourhood, a community, a society, a country, a place which has to be created by our righteous thoughts, words and deeds, and is the fruit of ‘Vohu-Mana’ (Good Mind).

The word Paradise was derived from the Greek word ‘Pari Daiza’ and meant circular enclosure, behind which in ancient Persian, the Zoroastrianists, created beautiful gardens which they called ‘Ferdows.’ It was originally introduced by Xenophon in his ‘Oeconomicus’, where he relates how Kurosh brother of King Ardeshir personally conducted Lysander the Greek General, round his Paradise at Sardis.

Xenophon writes, "....Lysander was full of admiration for the beauty of the trees, the accuracy of their spacing, the straightness of their rows, the regularity of the angles and the multitude of their scents...’. The creation of such a place was possible because the Zoroastrianists had used their ‘Vohu-Mana’ (Good Mind) and learned the secrets of the plants, and used it to create these beautiful gardens. The system of planting would today be categorized under scientific farming.

Hell (n.) Old English hel, helle, "nether world, abode of the dead, infernal regions," from Proto-Germanic. *haljo "the underworld" (cf. Old Frisian helle, Dutch hel, Old Norse hel, German Hölle, Gothic halja "hell") "the underworld," lit. "concealed place" (cf. Old Norse hellir "cave, cavern"), from the prehistoric language of Eurasia *kel- "to cover, conceal, save" (seecell).

The English word may be in part from Old Norse Hel (from Proto-Germanic. *halija "one who covers up or hides something"), in Norse mythology the name of Loki's daughter, who rules over the evil dead in Niflheim, the lowest of all worlds (nifl "mist").

The word is used in the KJV for Old Testament Hebrew "Sheol" and New Testament Greek Hades, Gehenna.

Used figuratively for "state of misery, any bad experience" since at least late 14century.

Hell is according to many religious beliefs about the afterlife, a place of torment, of great weeping and gnashing of teeth. The English word 'hell' comes from the Norse 'Hel', which originally referred to the feminine cosmic power of the Norse underworld. In most religions' conception of Hell, evildoers will suffer eternally in Hell after their death or they will pay for their bad deeds in hell before reincarnations.

Hell exists in the Christian popular imagination. It has its origins in Hellenized Christianity. Judaism, at least initially, believed in Sheol, a shadowy existence to which all were sent indiscriminately. Sheol may have been little more than a poetic metaphor for death, not really an afterlife at all. In any case, the afterlife was much less important in ancient Judaism than it is for many Christian groups today; indeed, the same can be said for modern Judaism as well.

The Hebrew ‘Sheol’ was translated in the Septuagint as 'Hades’, which means both the ancient Greek abode of the dead and the cosmic power of that underworld. Haidou was the genitive form of the word, meaning "the house of Hades". Haides was ‘origin', the name for the underworld in Greek mythology comprises the collected legends of Greek divinities and ancient heroes and heroines, originally created and spread within an oral-poetic tradition. 

The human mind, Mana, can at the same time be used in a ‘Ahri’ or bad way, and is called ‘Ahri-Mana.’ The net result of such use will be the creation on Hell on earth. Enmity, war, famine, sickness and conflict with the laws of nature are a result of ‘Ahri-Mana.’ The wrong use of knowledge upsets the balance in nature and creates difficulties. The constant conflicts in large and small pockets around the world create hell. The social and economic systems, which exploit human and natural resources all create hell. So Hell is not under the ground, no horned devils, no snakes or fire await us after our death, but hell exists on earth, and we create it with our Ahri-mana and live with the difficulties while we are alive.

This was the original concept of Heaven and Hell in Zoroaster’s teachings. Today most religious scholars agree that heaven and hell have come to other religions through Zoroastrianism.

Later the Arabic Moslems who conquered Persia repeated the same exercise of burning the books, because they believed all that people needed to know was given by the Divine in the Koran. They did not allow the people under their rule to learn any thing but the Koran. Thus, ‘Vohu-Mana’ was out of use for a second time, this time by the power of the sword. Wrong concepts started creeping into Zoroastrianism, among them was the concept of the heaven and hell after death and away from the earth.

It is of significance to note that heaven and hell do not feature in the Hebrew Scriptures, being purely scriptural concepts. The very word ‘hell’ was taken from the Indo-European feminine cosmic power of the underworld, Hel.

Sheol (n.) 1590s literally "the underworld, Hades." Used in the scriptures in place of Hell in many passages. Sheol is the term in Hebrew which means a grave or pit not a place of punishment for the wicked after their death.

Hades 1590s, from Greek Haides, in Homer the name of the cosmic power of the underworld. Hades was the habitation of the dead or shades not a place of punishment for the wicked after their death.

Gehenna, from the Greek geenna or the Hebrew hinnom, the Valley of Hinnom, is a deep narrow glen south of Jerusalem, where the Jews offered their children to the god Molech (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 7:31, 19:2-5), as seen in Jeremiah this practice was strongly condemned by the prophets. Later it became a refuge for all rotten material which defiled the city; and thus became a symbol of the place of everlasting punishment, especially with its accounts of eternal burning fire.

‘Gehenna’ is a word tracing to Greek, ultimately from Hebrew Gai-Ben-Hinnom meaning “Valley of the Son of Hinnom” and is still called Gai Be', from the Valley of Ge-Hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem used as a landfill. Hebrew landfills were very unsanitary and unpleasant when compared to modern landfills. The Hebrew places were filled with rotting garbage and the Hebrews would periodically burn them down. However, by that point they were generally so large that they would burn for weeks or even months. In other words they were fiery mountains of garbage. The early Christian teaching was that the damned would be burnt in the valley just as the garbage was.

Gehenna is fairly well defined in rabbinic literature. In Judaism, Gehenna, while certainly a terribly unpleasant place, is not hell. The overwhelming majority of Rabbinic thought maintains that people are not tortured in hell forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be 12 months. Some consider it a spiritual forge where the soul is purified for its eventual ascent to Gan Eden (Heaven), where all imperfections are purged.

Please read the Divine Comedy, an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri between c. 1308 and his death in 1321 and Inferno, a 2013 mystery thriller novel by American author Dan Brown.

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