On a previous post I said the following, “Satan … was an influence of the Babylonian captivity where the Jews encountered Zoroastrianism (Ahriman) and Babylonian mythology proper (Tiamat). I can show you how post-Babylon the Jews suddenly had an entity that actually opposed Yahweh, such an entity did not exist before the Babylonian captivity”
Lady Eva said, “Any chance of a new thread on that please? I’m really interested, and I don’t want to derail this thread.”
I am always happy to teach others, especially when it’s on common misconceptions. Now, without further ado, the creation of modern Judaism.
In 586 BC, The Babylonian Empire conquered the Kingdom of Judah; destroying their temple, carrying off their goods, and relocating a good portion of the people into Babylon. Later, in 539 BC, the Persian Empire conquered Babylon under the leadership of Achaemenid King Cyrus. In 538 BC, King Cyrus issued an edict allowing Jews to return to their homeland and rebuild their temple.
Many Jews, however, remained in Babylon-now Persia-and interacted with Zoroastrianism. It is here that the revelations to the prophet Zoroaster begin to cross pollinate the revelations of the prophet Moses.
Both Zoroastrianism and Judaism are revealed religions: in the one Ahuramazda imparts his revelation and pronounces his commandments to Zarathustra on “the Mountain of the Two Holy Communing Ones”; in the other Yhwh holds a similar communion with Moses on Sinai. The Magian laws of purification, moreover, more particularly those practised to remove pollution incurred through contact with dead or unclean matter, are given in the Avestan Vendïdād quite as elaborately as in the Levitical code. The two religions agree in certain respects with regard to their cosmological ideas. The six days of Creation in Genesis find a parallel in the six periods of Creation described in the Zoroastrian scriptures. Mankind, according to each religion, is descended from a single couple, and Mashya (man) and Mashyana are the Iranian Adam (man) and Eve. In the Bible a deluge destroys all people except a single righteous individual and his family; in the Avesta a winter depopulates the earth except in the Vara (“enclosure”) of the blessed Yima. In each case the earth is peopled anew with the best two of every kind, and is afterward divided into three realms. The three sons of Yima’s successor Thraetaona, named Erij (Avesta, “Airya”), Selm (Avesta, “Sairima”), and Tur (Avesta, “Tura”), are the inheritors in the Persian account; Shem, Ham, and Japheth, in the Semiticstory. Likenesses in minor matters, in certain details of ceremony and ritual, ideas of uncleanness, and the like, are to be noted, as well as parallels between Zoroaster and Moses as sacred lawgivers; and many more. The already present similarities caused a greater willingness of the Jewish people to listen to the Zoroastrian beliefs than they would other religions.
From the Encylopedia Americana, “First, the figure of Satan, originally a servant of God, appointed by Him as His prosecutor, came more and more to resemble Ahriman, the enemy of God. Secondly, the figure of the Messiah, originally a future King of Israel who would save his people from oppression, evolved, in Deutero-Isaiah for instance, into a universal Savior very similar to the Iranian Saoshyant. Other points of comparison between Iran and Israel include the doctrine of the millennia; the Last Judgment; the heavenly book in which human actions are inscribed; the Resurrection; the final transformation of the earth; paradise on earth or in heaven; and hell.”
There was no devil in Judaism, it’s a foreign concept. Judaism was originally a tribal religion, “Yahweh, the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, … this is my name forever…(Exodus 3:15)” God was not an omnipotent, omniscient, universal deity filled with good things. He was a warrior who protected Israel as their tribal diety, “Yahweh is a warrior, Yahweh is his name. (Exodus 15:3, sung after Pharoah’s army was sunk into the Red Sea)” It wasn’t until post-exillic texts that we see this. So, why would a spirit have to oppose Yahweh in rebellion when Yahweh was not the only god but one god among many?
Monotheism was another addition that Zoroastrianism brought to Judaism, The bible states that there are many gods: “You shall have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)” The full monotheistic conception of God came later, after the exile (Isaiah 43:10-13, Jer 10:1-16). The second Isaiah juxtaposes the great Persian King Cyrus with the first monotheistic declarations in the Bible. The second Isaiah is the first expression of universalism which has no antecedent in the Bible, according to the Anchor Bible note at Isaiah 45. He also first introduces the idea of false gods - a fundamental and indispensable criteria for monotheism. It needed the subsequent missions of Nehemiah and Ezra backed by the Achaemenian Imperial Government’s authority to make the Jews ruefully conform to the new ideal of monotheism.
In 397 B.C. Ezra, a courtier of the Persian king, was sent from Babylon “to teach in Israel statutes and ordinances” (Ezra 7:10). Ezra had been born and educated as a divine reader in Babylon and was sent by Artaxerxes to see if the people of Judea “be agreeable to the law of God”. There are explicit indications of widespread religious conversion in Ezra 6:19-21 and Nehemiah 10:28-29, but why would Jews have to convert to Judaism? Nehemiah, chapter 8, discusses an event where Ezra read from the book of law which neither Hebrew speakers nor Aramaic speakers could understand - the words had to be translated by priests. What strange language could Ezra have been reading, Avestan maybe? Ezra’s major reform was the prohibition of foreign wives. Although marrying foreign wives had always been the most favored Jewish practice, such marriages violate Zoroastrian law (e.g. Denkard, Book 3, ch 80). It is clear that Zoroastrianism was being taught to the common Jews.
The Jews greatly resisted the imposition of Zoroastrianism charading as Judaism. The construction of the temple designed by the great Persian king Cyrus for the Jews was delayed by both political and physical means. “The true Israelis (Samaritans)” built their own temple on MT. Gerizim and wrote Jerusalem out of their Pentateuch. So, whatever the Persian governors and priests were doing in Jersusalem in the name of Judaism, it caused a great schism. The Sadducees, the ‘purists’, made up over 97% of the population and believed in “no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit” (Acts 23:8) - in a word, no Persian ideas. The Pharisees or Persian faction - Pharisee, Parsee, Farsi - never numbered very high, not more than 6,000, although only Pharisaism survived the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. St. Paul, of course, was a member of the Pharisee sect.
It was of course, during this time of increased syncretism that Zoroastrianism did stick some of it’s ideas into Judaism. One of these ideas was an opposing spirit to the monotheistic deity, Yahweh. In the same way that Ahriman opposed Ahura Mazda, so did an entity appear that opposed Yahweh.
There are a few places where the Bible retells stories, and from these places we can see theological evolution. In the earlier text 2 Samuel 24, this happens:
2 Samuel 24:1, 15: “Again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go, count the people of Israel and Judah.” … So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel from that morning until the appointed time; and seventy thousand of the people died, from Dan to Beer-sheba.”
Here, clearly, Yahweh was angry for some reason, tribal gods are sometimes just angry. He incites David into sin and then punishes Israel, 7000 people die.
1 Chronicles is a much later book, written long after the the exile, and it contains a retelling of the story.
1 Chronicles 21:1, 14: “Satan stood up against Israel, and incited David to count the people of Israel. … So the Lord sent a pestilence on Israel; and seventy thousand persons fell in Israel.”
This time, it’s Satan who opposes men and incites them into sin, instead of Yahweh. This occurance of Satan is unique in that in the Hebrew, this is the only time it appears without the defining article. Meaning instead of being, “the accuser” an angel in service to God who’s job is to accuse men of their weakness, it’s a proper noun. It’s actually an entity named Satan. This is the only time that is appears in this manner, and it’s no coincidence that this is in a post-exilic text.
In many of the intertestamental literature, the Jewish angelology, demonology, and view of the afterlife became much more Zoroastrian, and the position of Satan continued to grow, sometimes he was given another name, Samael. In the book of Jubilees he was to blame for the corruption of the earth itself, and the introduction of sin into humanity.
In summary, it is absolutely certain that Zoroastrianism influenced Judaism in a massive way. Without the influence of Zoroastrianism, Christianity wouldn’t be possible, as ideas such as a divine messiah, a worldwide judgement, and a resurrection to immortality just wouldn’t exist within the Abrahamic revelation. And, Satan wouldn’t exist without the influence of Ahriman and Zoroastrian monotheism. So, I view him as an extension of the entity known as Ahriman.