Book of Job (Hiob / Book of Job (Iyov / Church / Jewish Concepts

The MALBIM on G-dly forces, Satan and Bnei E-lo-him

In the past, I wrote quite a few articles on the Jewish concept of SATAN (the Yetzer HaRah-Evil Inclination). Whereas in Christianity, Satan is an actual being and acting as an independent opponent of G-d, in Judaism, Satan in simply a concept but neither a being nor an independent entity. G-d created everything existing in our universe and there is no other being (whether good or bad) besides Him. A famous Jewish concept is that G-d created good and evil just as He created everything else existing in this world. Humankind was supposed to have a choice between good and evil. Otherwise all of us would act like robots and this wouldn’t make sense at all.
Furthermore, we find the concept of good and evil in Kabbalah when it comes to the “Shevirat HaKelim (the Breaking of the Vessels)” described by the Arizal in the famous book “Etz Chaim”. G-d withdrew Himself (Zimzum) from His Creation because if He hadn’t done so, all of us would just be perfect. However, He decided that humankind needs to have a choice between good and evil. And this is the reason why He had to pull Himself back.
From time to time I enjoy studying the Malbim (Rabbi Me’ir Leibush ben Yechiel Michel, 1809-1879) commentary on the Book of Job (Iyov). The Malbim is discussing whether Iyov served G-d out of love or fear. He accepted the view that Moshe was the author of Sefer Iyov. The characters mentioned in the book are never clearly identified as Jews. Some consider Iyov to be a righteous Gentile and others see him as a blasphemer. Iyov cried out bitterly because he thought that the afflictions were brought upon him without any reason.
The Malbim brings two very good explanations I would like to share:
  1. The Bnei E-lo-him (Sons of G-d) are nothing else but the forces of nature. G-d is the origin and generating forces maintaining all of existence. The angels are in continuous array before Him. It is through them (the G-dly Powers) that G-d maintains the existence of the universe. Already the Ba’al Shem Tov stated that the angels are actually G-d’s different powers.
  2. Satan is a negative force and the source of all misfortune, sin and loss.
When Christianity speaks about Satan as an individual being in competition to G-d: How then can G-d be the sole Creator of the universe? Where does Satan come from and how does he fit into the picture?
Satan is not a living independent entity but represents negative powers or forces but he is not the guy with horns and a tail. 🙂 As G-d created everything existing, He also created all negative powers (Satan), as I mentioned above.

2 thoughts on “The MALBIM on G-dly forces, Satan and Bnei E-lo-him

  1. B”H
    Just an idea: maybe xtians think of “the devil/satan”, as created by G-D, but with free-will just like humans (?).
    They choose their owns interpretations, as the “lucipher” prophecy (an angel who wanted to be more than G-D and as a result was thrown in the depths becoming the devil), whereas in the Jewish interpretation this prophecy is about Nebuchanezar and his fall. So as they make their own choices without regard to the original Jewish view, we should not care about what they do/say/think amongst themselves.

  2. B”H

    I think that this is how Christians see Satan / the devil: An independent being with a free will but not created by G-d. They did choose their own interpretation and I wonder why Christians don’t ask the question: “How can it be that G-d is the sole Creator of all existence and suddenly there appears to be another being (Satan) next to Him. Where is Satan coming from?”
    This just doesn’t make sense.

    I don’t care about what they do or think but when it comes to making false claims and running after Jews I do care. I have received a lot of Christian messages on “Why Satan is a person” and all Christians refer to Sefer Iyov.

    I love Sefer Iyov and as it starts with the whole Satan issue, I just want to make a point using the commentary of the Malbim. 🙂

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