Could It Be … Satan

I was recently asked by a friend how I might answer someone claiming to see Satan in the message of Ezekiel 28:1-19 (HERE is the passage).

Here is my brief response:

First, I point to 28.2 which specifically says “prince of Tyre” and this message is embedded within a series of messages against the kingdom/city and ruler (26-28) and surrounded by other texts against other kingdoms and rulers (25-32). To make this passage suddenly about “Satan” or “the devil” would be to potentially be ignoring the context.

Second, the individual addressed is human and ONLY thinks themselves to be like a god: v. 2 “you are only a man”, vv. 4-5, 16 amassing great wealth, vv. 7-10, 17-18 suffering judgment by a foreign military, vv. 10, 19 and dying.

Third, the prophetic imagery of “cherub” (vv. 14, 16) in “Eden” (v. 13) draws upon ancient story, but not the Biblical one preserved in Genesis 2-3. It draws upon that same world (and apparently was known in Tyre and likely some part of their mythology). A similar prophetic image function happens with Egypt and Pharaoh being a water monster of the Nile (29.3-5).

The connection people have made to Satan from this passage has been the language of Eden (ignoring the rest of the context of the passage ultimately) and presuming that any reference to an angelic like being in Eden must be referring to the serpent of Genesis 2-3. However, that serpent is called a “creature of the field” and never anything more. It is never called a cherub nor hinted at. The only reference to a cherub in Genesis 2-3 is with regard to the one left with a sword guarding the eastern entrance back into the garden once the man and woman are evicted.

Though reading Satan into this text has a long tradition behind it, it simply does not bear up under any real scrutiny. (As an aside, one could also examine Isaiah 14’s reference to the “morning star” [poorly translated “Lucifer” by some], but that is for another blog post on another day.

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