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Satan as an Enemy

Satan is something of a puzzling figure in the book of Job since he appears only in the narrative prologue. He is the one who prods Yahweh to take action against Job in order to prove that his piety is self-centered. In spite of this, however, Satan is only presented twice as the explicit sub- ject of enemy behavior, and even then the reference to his enmity is somewhat oblique.

Yahweh says, "Behold, all that he has is in your hand; only toward him stretch not out your hand" (1:12). Yahweh's prohibition that Satan not stretch out his hand toward Job presupposes, of course, that Satan would do just that were it not for divine instruction to the contrary. In chapter 2:6-7 this hostile intent on Satan's part is made explicit when Yahweh prohibits the taking of Job's life, and then Satan "went forth from the presence of Yahweh and afflicted Job."

Otherwise, Satan is not explicitly presented acting in any hostile fashion toward Job, at least not directly. It may be that Satan is not such a great enemy after all, but is rather one of those more shadowy figures who have been designated the "enemy behind the enemy." This possibility will need to be discussed later.

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