Zechariah 3:1-7 – Satan


Zechariah 3:1-7


In the fourth vision, the prophet sees Joshua, the high priest, facing the angel of the Lord, with Satan at the angel’s side accusing Joshua. The Lord rebukes Satan and commands that Joshua’s filthy clothes be replaced with clean garments and a clean turban for his head.


In Genesis 3:1-5, Eve’s tempter is the unnamed “serpent.” In Zechariah the word “Satan” appears with a definite article, ha-satan, and could be translated as “the adversary” or “the accuser.” The same term appears in the heavenly scene in Job 1:6-12; 2:1-7, where Satan appears among the heavenly beings. In 1 Samuel 29:4 and 1 Kings 11:14, the word refers to a human adversary. In Numbers 22:32, an angel appears “as an adversary” to Balaam. In 1 Chronicles 21:1 (“Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people”), the word is a proper name. In Job and Zechariah, the Satan seems to be a member of the heavenly court whose divinely appointed job is to accuse the people, to act as God’s prosecuting attorney. The Satan is allowed in God’s presence, if not always appreciated. Perhaps the Satan is overzealous in prosecution and comes up for rebuke occasionally. But the notion of Satan representing an independent power opposed to God (as in the New Testament) does not seem to have developed yet.