Satan

🏷  Bible name Semitic pun recommended · name   —   by Gerry · Apr 2020 · 1254 words

The modern demonic character Satan seems to be a multi-pun, pieced together from arbitrary features that are all pronounced somewhat similar to “Satan”.

Satan was originally a character from the Book of Job, where he was the “accuser” & “enemy” of Job, because the name Satan is actually the word for *“accuser” & “enemy”+. In that story though, he was neither a weird critter nor particularly evil. He was simply one of God’s assistants, and everything he did was agreed upon with God in advance.

But the Satan character was then reused in the New Testament, and that seems to have caught on with audiences. In later times, particularly in Christianity, Satan was expanded into a full-fledged main character of his own, with all sorts of weird details and attributes, very often conflicting ones. The strangest contradiction is that while Satan was supposed to be the darkest incarnation of all evil, he was also a funny figure, with laughing devil’s masks worn at carnival events.

What is the explanation for Satan’s evolution? If you guessed it’s a pun, you’re only partly right: Satan is really a legion of puns, a character that was cobbled together from arbitrary attributes & features, as long as they were written & pronounced roughly like “Satan” in the Semitic languages. That’s also proof that the spookish “inventors” of religious scarecrow characters like Satan never believed in their own creations. Consult the list below! It was all just a literary exercise for them.

Satan is a very big pile of puns, because his letters are so easy to pun around with:

This makes for very easy pun creation, as long as consistency is not a requirement. Which apparently it isn’t. Below, I listed the Satan puns that I found, but I suppose there are many, many more.

The main pun & main reason for Satan’s popularity among the ruling elites is hardly a secret: In their eyes their subjects always need an enemy to fear. Satan was perfect to be that enemy, because his name simply means “enemy”. So he became the archetype of all made-up enemies, which are distracting us from the only real enemy we ever had: our rulers themselves.

An important secondary aspect is that Satan also means accuser, the “enemy” in a trial: If things are bad, it’s always said to be “our own fault” somehow, because we common humans are eeevil. The big bad fake terrorists attacked because we little guys didn’t accept the goodly surveillance police state. The bankster-triggered finance crisis hit because we were too greedy. Satan rules because we were bad. Bah. Now it’s true that all humans have potential for evil. But the only ones who can always be accused of constantly living up to it are again our rulers themselves! Pretty much all of humanity’s problems (wars, poverty, hatred) would’ve been long solved, if the rulers hadn’t actively kept them alive, or even created them.

These are the puns that Satan was created on:

  1. Satan is called the enemy, and was originally the accuser & enemy of Job, simply because sṭn means “accuser” & “enemy”.
  2. Satan was later reinvented as a demon, because there is another word šd / šdn which means “demon spirit”. (Since “demon” isn’t a real observable thing, that’s probably derived from some other term.)
  3. Satan is the fallen one, because šdy means “falling down” & “being cast out”.
  4. Satan became hated, because hštnˀ means “made himself hated” (reflexive Hitpa‘el form from šnˀ).
  5. Satan mocks humans (and was likely invented by our leaders to mock us), because ṣd / mṣdn means “mockery”.
  6. Satan fools people, and is often fooled himself, because šṭyn means “fool”.
  7. Satan is associated with adultery, because šṭy also means “adultery” & “sexual misbehavior”.
  8. Satan rebelled against God, because šṭy also means “rebellion”.
  9. Satan is a master of disguise, because hštnh means “disguising oneself” (reflexive Hitpa‘el form of šnh).
  10. Satan is evil, because zdn means “malice”.
  11. Satan plots, because ˁšt / ˁštn means “plotting”.
  12. Satan stinks, because štn means “urine”.
  13. Satan seduces & leads astray, because sṭ / sṭn means “seduction” & “leading astray”.
  14. Satan seeds discord, because ˀsṭsyn means “discord”.
  15. Satan is associated with fire, because šyṭ / swṭ means “burning” & “scorching”.
  16. Satan lives underground, because ysd / sdn means “bottom” & “foundation”.
  17. Satan is a jailer of punished souls, because zdynqn means “jailer” (a Persian loanword).
  18. Satan tortures the punished souls, because šnd means “torture” (a second-rate anagram pun).
  19. Satan is associated with the number 6 & number 666, because št means “six”, and štyn “sixty” (Aramaic spelling).
  20. Satan has big hooves, because šˁṭ / šˁṭny means “stomping with the hooves”.
  21. Satan specifically has cloven hooves, because sdq means “splitting” & “cloven hooves”.
  22. Satan may have bat’s wings, perhaps because Akkadian stn / štn means “bat”. (That’s old though. Perhaps its’s rather a synonym pun, see below.)

Semitic languages šṭn, šdn, zdn, štn etc. = various attributes of Satan

שטן šṭn : adversary, opponent, accuser, Satan — Old Hebrew (Strong)

שידן šydn : demonic; demonical — Aramaic (CAL)

שדי šdy : to throw (away or down); to put something down or upon; to cast down; to reject; to discard; to drive away; to be cast out, expelled; to be hurled down — Aramaic (CAL)

השתנא hštnˀ : Hith.: he became hateful — Hebrew (Klein)

מצדין mṣdyn : joking; simulator; deceiver; guile — Aramaic (CAL)

שטין šṭyn : foolish; fool — Hebrew (Klein)

שטי šṭy : to be stupid; to commit adultery, misbehave sexually; to do a stupid thing; to cause stupidity; to act like an insane person — Aramaic (CAL)

סטיה sṭyh : rebellion; error; deceit — Aramaic (CAL)

השתנה hštnh : Hith.: disguised himself, was changed, was different — Hebrew (Klein)

זידן zydn : malicious — Aramaic (CAL)

עשת ˁšt : to think well of; consider; to plot, plan — Aramaic (CAL)

שתן štn : to urinate — Hebrew (Klein)

סטי sṭy : to turn aside; to withdraw, remove oneself; to turn something away from or back to the proper path; to err; to be led into error — Aramaic (CAL)

אסטסין ˀsṭsyn : sedition, discord; sedition, discord — Aramaic (CAL)

סוט swṭ : to be burned; to be roasted, scorched; to burn up something; to bake — Aramaic (CAL)

סדן sdn : base, foundation; trunk; wheel; anvil — Aramaic (CAL)

זדינקן zdynqn : jailer; From Middle Persian zēndān “prison” — Aramaic (CAL)

שנד šnd : torture; torment — Aramaic (CAL)

שתין štyn : sixty — Aramaic (Strong)

שעטני šˁṭny : stamp (with the hoof); trample; trod — Hebrew (Klein)

סתקה stqh : split hoof — Aramaic (CAL)

𒋢 𒁷 𒄷 šutinnu : a bat, a flying fox — Akkadian (AAF)

There may also be some indirect puns based on synonyms to S-T-N words:

  1. Satan is called Beelzebub or Lord of Flies, because another word for “accuser” & “enemy” is bˁl-dbb, which puns with dbb / zbb for “fly”.
  2. Satan may have horns, because yet another word for “accuser” is qrṣ, which puns with qrs for “hooked” & “bent”.
  3. Satan may also have bat’s wings, because a more modern word for “bat” is ˁṭlp, which puns with ṭlp for “hoof”. (For the hooves, see šˁṭny and sdq above.)
🏷  Bible name Semitic pun recommended · name