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Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job

The scope of this paper is to examine how angels and demons and the
Devil are treated in the Book of Job in the Greek text of the Septuagint
version. For careful re-reading of the texts enables us to delineate some
particular aspects of the LXX Greek translation's attitude towards the
angels, demons and the Devil which appear in the narration. We may thus
perceive a similar line of thought in some apocryphal and deuterocanonical texts found at Qumran.
As an initial step it is necessary point out, and also bearing in mind the
monographic study published by P.J. Gentry for the identification and
examination of the asterisked material,1 that the texts which we have
examined in this paper all happen to be without asterisks. That is to say
they are those which Origen found in the Old Greek version in agreement
with the Hebrew text.2 Moreover, as we are not in search of the Old Greek
text, the Ziegler critical edition of the Book of Job in the Gttingen Bible will
provide us with our basis for the examination of the text in the Septuagint
First of all any differences in the terminology of the passages concerned
in our research, which appear in other translations, particularly the recent
NETS translation, will be examined and compared to the English version
of the Greek used in this work.3 Secondly, the paper will effect a brief
biblical comment, which will also consider how these same texts were

Cf. PETER J. GENTRY, The Asterisked Materials in the Greek Job (SBL.SCS 38,
Atlanta, GA: Scholars Press, 1995), 113; see also ALBERT PIETERSMA, Review of Iob,
Septuagint: Vetus Testamentum Graecum, II (ed. J. Ziegler; Gttingen: Vandenhoeck &
Ruprecht, 1982), Journal of Biblical Literature 104 (1985): 305311.
Cf. Origen, Lettre Africanus, 67, SCh 302, 533; Origen, Matthuserklrung (ed.
E. Klostermann; Origenes Werke 10, Leipzig: Hinrichs 1935), 387390.
Cf. For the general outlines of this new translation CLAUDE E. COX, To the Reader
of Job, in A New English Translation of the Septuagint and the Other Greek
Translations Traditionally Included under That Title (New York / Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2007; here it is abbreviated as NETS), 667670.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

interpreted in some other examples of later exegesis. This procedure will

also be adopted for the texts which regard demons and the Devil in the
same book of Job. It must however be stated that some texts will be
repeated in the course of this paper. Finally, some conclusions regarding
the results of this paper will be offered as a modest but, we hope,
beneficial contribution to a dialogue of cooperation between all scholars
who are involved in similar areas of research.

I. The texts referring to angels in the Septuagint version

A. Job 1:6
There are some textual variations in verse 6. This section is part of the
prologue 1:612 which is situated in heaven where the angels are in Gods
presence. In the Greek text they are defined as oi` a;ggeloi tou/ qeou/:
angels of God and this phrase is repeated in Job 2:1 and translates the
~yhil{a/h' ynEB. / the sons of Elohim in the MT4. In Jeromes translation
from the Greek and in Augustine we also find angels of God. The time is
referred to as being one day.The Targum gives two sittings of the court,
one for New Year and a second one at Kippur.5 The Lord is seated, like a
sovereign among his counsellors, in a heavenly court composed of
a;ggeloi, here translated as angels, or rather lesser celestial beings.
Pope in his commentary speaks of sons of the gods as in the M T as they
are depicted in the cult of Ugarit.6
The idea of a heavenly court was present in the pantheistic religion of
Ugarit where the god El or Baal was surrounded by his princes who were
divinities inferior in rank. In 1Kgs 22:19 we also find God seated on a
throne with all the array of heaven around him. Likewise, in Isa 6:1 the
prophet sees the Lord sitting on a high throne while in Isa 40:22 the Lord
is enthroned above the circle of the earth.7 The hierarchy of the divinity
who, seated on his throne governs over a court of minor gods in the
traditional cults is transformed here in the Bible into that of God who
reigns over the angels, Isa 6; Ps 29; Ps 103: 1921; Deut 32: 8.

In order to clarify the meaning of the Greek term a;ggeloi as a translation of the
Hebrew ~yhil{a/ or ~yhil{a/h' ynEB. in the Book of Psalms of the LXX we used the article of
ADRIAN SCHENKER, Gtter und Engel im Septuaginta-Psalter, in Der SeptuagintaPsalter. Sprachliche und theologische Aspekte (ed. E. Zenger; Freiburg: Herder, 2001),
Cf. MARVIN H. POPE, Job (Anchor Bible 15, New York: Garden City, 1974), 9.
Cf. JEAN LVQUE, I, Job et son Dieu (Paris: Gabalda, 1970), 41.
Cf. POPE, Job, 9; For the three divisions of the celestial court of Ugarit see
MASSIMO BALDACCI, Il libro dei morti della antica Ugarit (Casale Monferrato: Piemme,
1998), 29.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


Since the angels are qualified as being of God it might be interesting

for us to take notice of some aspects about angels which are present in the
works of the Jewish exegete Philo of Alexandria. For Philo is our most
precious link between Judaism and Hellenism, Judaism and early Christian
exegesis. Philo explains that angels are the sons of God because they are
created incorporeal.8
B. Job 1:
The Syro-hexapla, Dhorme notices, has an obelus in verse 14 in front of
ivdou, and also after kai. ei=pen. In verse 16 in the Syro-hexapla there is an
obelus in front of the word a;ggeloj. In verse 17 we have the same obelus
as verse 16. In verse 18 though the Syro-hexapla forgets to put the obelus
in front of the word a;ggeloj added by the Septuagint.9
This part of the narration is in the section of 1:1322 where the four
misfortunes which fall upon Job are announced by four messengers or
angels. The number four is classic in order to suggest the total sum of his
misadventures, as in Ezek 14:1323. The section is structured
schematically. We also find three times the phrase pronounced by the
messengers: evgw. mo,noj h=lqon tou/ avpaggei/lai, soi: I alone was spared
and came to tell you of the survivor as in Gen 14:13; 44:20; Josh 13:12;
2Sam 13:32; 1Kgs 18:22; Isa 49:21; Ezek 9:8; 24:26.
However, the sense of this passage for the translator is more problematical than the preceding since the sense seems to be ambiguous. These
beings who are speaking are bringing bad news. Moreover are these human
messengers or angels, heavenly beings? The Hebrew text in these verse
contains the term %a'l.m; that means messenger. This scene takes place on
earth. The same Hebrew word also recurs in verses 16.17.18. Elsewhere if
it has a further specification: of God (Isa 44, 26) it may indicate a
prophet or a priest or a celestial being (Gen 48:16; Gen 24:7 in the
singular and Gen 19:1 in the plural; %a'l.m;W ~yhil{a/ (Gn 21:17), hw"hy> %a'l.m;,
(Gen 16:7). In Job 1 we are in a human context and it said that messengers
come to Job to announce the misfortunes that happen in Job 1:
Some scholars therefore declare that in this section the a;ggeloi are
clearly human.10 Dhorme in fact translates a;ggeloj as messager.11 NETS

Cf. Philo, Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim I, 92, 60.

Cf. DOUARD PAUL DHORME, Le livre de Job (Paris: Gabalda, 1926), 810; Cf.
Pope, Job, 2.
Cf. JOHN G. GAMMIE, The Angelology and Demonology in the Septuagint of the
Book of Job, HUCA 56 (1985): 119 (4).
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 8.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

also translates this same term in English as messenger.12 We learn from

Philo of Alexandria that angels symbolize the Word of God.13
C. Job 2:1
The last part of this verse, o` dia,boloj h=lqen evn me,sw| auvtw/n parasth/nai
evnanti,on tou/ kuri,ou: the devil came into their midst before the Lord, is
one of the so-called omissions of the Septuagint. The Hexaplaric versions
of this carry an asterisk in front of this part of the verse.14 The Syrohexapla also adds an obelus in front of the word w`j and au[th that the
Septuagint incorporates into the translation. The final part of the verse is
marked by an asterisk in Jeromes text and the Syro-hexapla and derives
from the versions of Aquila and Theodotion.
The scene here is similar to Job 1:6. The angels are again to be found in
a heavenly court in the presence of God and are once more defined as in
Job 1:6 to be angels of God. The commentators are again divided as to
the translation of the term. Dhorme here translates a;ggeloi as les fils
dlohim and adds that in the Targum les anges sont en jugement devant
Iahv.15 Our present English version has opted to translate a;ggeloi as
angels but the NETS edition prefers again the term messengers as it
does in Job 1:14.16 Another commentator of this verse even translates the
angels as the gods.17 Philo of Alexandria speaks of the cherubim as
representing the two primary attributes of God, namely the creative and the
kingly, of which one is called God and the other, the kingly one, is called
the Lord.18 The idea of the constant presence of the angels in Gods
heavenly court is also continued in later Christian exegesis of the
D. Job 4:1419
The sense of the word pneu/ma in verse 15 is ambiguous in Greek since it
can mean either wind or spirit as in John 3:8. In the translation used here in

Cf. Job, A New English Version of the Septuagint, transl. CLAUDE E. COX, in
NETS, 670671.
Cf. Philo, Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim, IV, 44, 319; Gregory the Great,
Moralia in Iob, CCSL 143, III, 61.
Cf. MARIA GORREA, Job repens ou trahi? Omissions et raccourcis de la Septante,
(tudes Bibliques NS 56; Paris: Gabalda, 2007), 15.
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 14.
Cf. Job, NETS, 1.
Cf. POPE, Job, 18.
Cf. Philo, Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim, 57, 35.
Cf. Gregory the Great, Moralia In Job, CCSL 143, III, 61; Olympiodorus,
Kommentar zu Hiob, 25.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


verse 15 the word is translated as a breath of wind.20 Elijah discovers the

presence of God on Mount Horeb in the wind or spirit, 1Kgs 19:12.
Pope translates verse 15a as a breath.21 Elsewhere, for instance in
NETS, pneu/ma is translated as spirit. In the Vulgata also we find et cum
spiritus me praesente transiret. May we compare it to Rom 8:26, where
Paul speaks of the groans of the Spirit which cannot be put into words?
In Isa 11:2 the spirit of God will rest on the offspring of Jesse, on the
servant of God, Isa 42:1 and on the prophet Isa 61:1.
In the Greek text of Job the term pneu/ma / spirit is used 18 times in the
parts without the asterisks and never in the plural. There is not the slightest
indication in the Septuagint of Job that there came within the translators
purview a demonology of hostile or evil spirits. This passage is part of the
second reflection which Eliphaz makes in his speech when he seems to
describe a prophetical vision. This text is more widely developed in the
Septuagint than in the Hebrew text. Here Eliphaz narrates his dream and
thinks of God and the heavenly court in verse 18: eiv kata. pai,dwn auvtou/
ouv pisteu,ei kata. de. avgge,lwn auvtou/ skolio,n ti evpeno,hsen: if he does not
put his trust in his servants and has observed unrighteousness in his
angels. In the Hebrew text of Job 4:18 we find the term wyd"b'[]B; (his
servants) in parallel with wyk'a'l.m;b.W (and his angels). In the Greek text Job
4:18 the word a;ggeloi is in parallel with pai/dej and were possibly human
messengers.22 Yet on the other hand the immediate context and especially
the contrast with verse 17 supports the contention that the translator had in
mind heavenly beings.
In verse Job 4:17 we find a question, can any man be considered
righteous before the Lord as Job himself asks in chapter 9:2 and Bildad in
chapter 25:46. Eliphaz repeats the question in 15:1416. However no man
is guiltless before God as we know from Ps 143:2 and Ps 130:3.
Yet in verse 18, we hear that the angels, here described as pai/dej: the
servants of the Lord, are not worthy of Gods trust. There is something
impure about them. Is Eliphaz here concentrating his attention on these
figures of mediators between a transcendent God and humanity who are
often present at the theophanies?
For we have noticed that in the prologue of the Book of Job 1:6 the
angels are called the sons of God. One modern exegete even interprets
this verse by saying that the servants here in verse 18 are lesser gods
who with monotheism became angels.23


Cf. Aeschylus, Persians, 1086.

Cf. POPE, Job, 37.
Cf. GAMMIE, Angelology, 4.
Cf. POPE, Job, 37.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

Finally, in verse 19 we may observe that the reference to earthen

dwellings could be interpreted as the earthly body of man. It has also been
surmised that this is a historical reference to the conflict at the beginning
of the Persian era between rival groups who attempted to take possession
of the houses and the city of Jerusalem.24
E. Job 5:1
The angels here are unseen presences but are once more defined as holy.
Another commentary gives the translation the holy ones so for him these
are presumably the same divine beings as the servants and angels in
chapter 4:18.25 It is to be noticed that the angels here are called holy.
Philo, commenting Gen 18:2, the apparition at Mambre of the three men,
explains it as a theophany of Gods creative and kingly powers and thus of
venerable holiness.26
Here Eliphaz reflects upon human fragility which brings down just
retribution upon the sinner and his possessions. It is therefore useless to
call upon an angel, Gods servant, for any form of mediation as we find in
Hos 12:1; Zech 14:5; Dan 4:10.14.20; 8:13; Ps 89:7. Does the phrase refer
to the idea of a personal attendant such as the numerous protective figures
of minor divinities which existed in the traditional cults of Ugarit or
Ebla?27 Yet Philo of Alexandria, commenting on Gen 24: 8, explains how
the angel, the interpreter of divine commands and oracles, must
accompany and instruct a suitable bride for Isaac.28 The same author also
says that divine reason is the angel that guides our feet.29 Moreover, the
angels go on embassies bearing tidings from the great Ruler to his subjects
of the gifts for them and reporting to the Monarch what his subjects are in
need of.30
F. Job 38:7
This verse is to be found in the first speech which God addresses to Job.
According to Pope these are to be interpreted as gods as in Job 1:6.31
Here the angels seem to assume a liturgical function. For Dhorme the
description of the creation of the stars and the parallel chorus of angels

Cf. JACQUES VERMEYLEN, Lnigme des ruines et des villas inhabites. Un

ancrage historique au livre de Job, Rivista Biblica 55 (2007): 129144.
Cf. POPE, Job, 41. See also his comment on 4,18.35.
Cf. Philo, Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim IV, 2, 272.
Cf. BALDACCI, Il libro dei morti della antica Ugarit, 163.
Cf. Philo, Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim IV, 9091, 3713.
Cf. Philo, Quod Deus immutabilis sit, 182.
Cf. Philo, De plantatione, 145.
Cf. POPE, Job, 293.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


form part of a liturgical fanfare such as would be used for the dedication of
a new building such as the Temple, as it is described in Zech 4: 7; Ezra
3:10. In fact he translates angels as fils dElohim.32 The verses are
perhaps in contrast to the divine court of Baal such as we find at Ugarit.33
The words of the cosmic hymn of praise of Ps 148: 2 are brought to mind.
For the translator of the book of Job the angels here are presumed to
function as agents of praise who announce the creative acts of God.34 Philo
of Alexandria also visualizes the angels proceeding in a chorus which
moves in the final heaven of all with unchanging rhythm before the
presence of the Lord.35
G. Job 40:11
There is no reference to angels in the MT.36 This reference is taken from
the second speech addressed by God to Job. Another English version
translates angels as messengers here.37 Pope here interprets the angels as
gods.38 This reference comes from the second speech which God makes
to Job and refers to the description of Leviathan, the second mysterious
beast. The Vulgata here has the version super universos filios superbiae.
At this point we may observe that the angels are Gods creatures as Job
1:6; 2:1, who dwell in his heavenly court before his presence. They are
thus defined as holy as in Job 5:1. They have a range of functions which
appear to be of a positive nature: that of communicating Gods word to
human beings as in Job 1:1418 and the liturgical function of praising the
creative acts of God as in Job 38:7. Yet the texts which follow in this next
section of this work present a different and darker aspect of these heavenly
beings, which has already been hinted at in the reference of Job 4: 1419.

II. The texts referring to demons in the Septuagint version

A. Job 15:1415
These words are spoken in the second cycle of speeches when Eliphaz
proceeds to attack Jobs defence. In fact Eliphaz resumes his earlier theme
in his words of chapters 4:17 and 14:4. Jobs tongue betrays him: his

Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 527.

Cf. GIANFRANCO RAVASI, Giobbe (Milano: Rizzoli Libri, 1989), 746; Baldacci, Il
libro dei morti della antica Ugarit, 119ss.; 140.
Cf. GAMMIE, Angelology, 7.
Cf. Philo, De cherubim, 79, 2332, 237.
Cf. GORREA, Job rpens ou trahi?, 208.
Cf. Job, NETS, 695.
Cf. POPE, Job, 344.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

protestations of innocence only reveal his desire to conceal his hidden

guilt. The intrinsic impurity of humanity which, according to Eliphaz, is
the reason for human frailty and for inevitable transgression, is here
portrayed as the root from which great sins grow. In verse 15 Eliphaz
refers to holy people, the holy ones who inhabit God's heaven, the same
term used in Job 5:1. A document from Qumran also narrates that the holy
ones themselves are not always reprehensible in their conduct.39 However,
as in Job 4:18 the holy people, like man himself are also subject to God.
They might even be considered as astral deities of pagan cults who have
been degraded to mere members of a heavenly army such as in Job,
chapters 4:18; 25:26; 38:7; Is 40:2526. In a Mesopotamian epic fragment
we have the winged figure of the god Anzu depicted as the doorkeeper of
the Akkadian god Ellil.40 Likewise in 2Pet 2:4 we find a passage which
describes how when the angels sinned God did not spare them but sent
them down into the underworld, consigned them to the dark abyss to be
held there until the Judgement.41 We may also observe that in Deut 32:17
and Ps 106:37, the LXX translates with the Greek term daimo,nion, used in
classical Greek to define an inferior divine being often of evil nature,42 in
the sense of pagan divinities, the enemies of Yahweh which are reduced to
impotence before the Almighty.43
B. Job 20: 1517
The Greek text of verse 15, instead of the word God which we find in
the Masoretic text, has the word angel. The NETS translation gives us
the term messenger in the same verse.44 Riches which have been unjustly
accumulated and delighted the heart of the evil man have become a poison
in his bowels. The Hebrew uses the term lae( / god but the Greek translates it as a;ggeloj in order to avoid the anthropomorphism and the codex A
with angel of death a;ggeloj qana,tou.


Cf. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. G. Vermes), p. 322 (concerning 4Q400).
Cf. POPE, Job, 116; Cf. Anzu I, in Myths from Mesopotamia (ed. S. Dalley; Oxford
1989), 216.
Cf. Olympiodorus, Kommentar zu Hiob, 140; Julian the Arian, Der Hiobkommentar des Arianers (ed. D. Hagedorn; Patristische Texte und Studien 14; Berlin/
New York: de Gruyter, 1973), 106; Gregory the Great, Moralia in Iob, CC.SL 143b,
XXX, 651.
Cf. Plato, Symposium, 202 E; Chrysippus, Fragmenta stoica, 2. 338.
Cf. MARIO CIMOSA, Gli angeli e i demoni nella letteratura apocalittica
intertestamentaria, in Angeli e demoni nella Bibbia (ed. G. Bortone; studi biblici 18;
L'Aquila: ISSRA, 1998), 3738,61.
Cf. Job, NETS, 682.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


Thus the Greek version attributes that which is positive to God and
negative to the angel.45 This reference is taken from the speech of Zophar
which concludes the cycle of the friends speeches and is found in the
fourth strophe of the speech. Zophar is full of reproach for Job and insists
upon the ephemeral nature of the happiness and well-being of the wicked.
The wicked man cannot obtain good from evil for good cannot spring from
evil. The course of justice, which is often unexpected, will inevitably
punish them. The wicked man will not enjoy his wealth, as Qohelet points
out the futility of the greed for money 5:9; 6:2, which is acquired by unjust
means. The punitive function of the angels is perhaps emphasized in the
Book of Job.46
C. Job 33:23
@l,a'_-yNImi dx'a, #ylime %a'l.m; wyl'[' vyE-~ai
`Ar*v.y" ~d"a'l. dyGIh;l.
If there be for him an angel, a mediator, one of the thousand, to declare to
man what is right for him;
eva.n w=sin ci,lioi a;ggeloi qanathfo,roi ei-j auvtw/n ouv mh. trw,sh| auvto,n eva.n
noh,sh| th/| kardi,a| evpistrafh/nai evpi. ku,rion avnaggei,lh| de. avnqrw,pw| th.n
e`autou/ me,myin th.n de. a;noian auvtou/ dei,xh|
If there were a thousand death bringing angels none of them would wound
him, if he decides in his heart to turn to the Lord, announce to man his
blame and indicate his folly.
The text is longer in the Greek version than in the MT where there is one
angel mentioned and there are no death bringing angels.47 Elihu returns to
his idea of 5:17, blessed is the man who is corrected by God. We once
more find the idea of the heavenly court as Job 12; 1Kgs 22:19; Dan 7:10;
Rev 5:9. Here the being or beings are unmistakably heavenly but their
function seems to be a punitive one, that of bringing death.48 The Greek
text, as we may notice, is longer than the MT here and also in verse 24. In
verse 22: His spirit is brought near to death his life is in Hades. He is
approaching death on the threshold of the tomb. Here the divine element
is introduced by means of an intermediary who has the role of protecting

Cf. CIMOSA, Gli angeli e i demoni, 55.

Cf. MARKUS WITTE, The Greek Book of Job, in Das Buch Hiob und seine
Interpretationen (ed. Th. Krger et al.; AThANT 88; Zrich: Theologischer Verlag,
2007), 3354, 52.
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 456457.
Cf. GAMMIE, Angelology, 5.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

man as in Dan 12:1. The term #ylime / mediator, attribute of angel,

insinuates the idea of an angelic mediator in an ascending sense of man
towards God which is not infrequent in the Jewish Scriptures while there is
the notion of a human intercessor who will placate God (1Kgs 13:6).
This figure is also to be seen in Job 42:8 where Job intercedes for his
The angel to whom Elihu refers is one of the thousand. This is merely
indicating in a poetical fashion a multitude. Lvques theology of Job
carefully examines the function of this %a"l.m,; #ylime: the angel appears as an
ally of God and is parallel to atn of the prologue; the angel intercedes on
behalf of man to God.50 The mediation of the angels is rare in the Bible, as
we have observed above in the comment on Job 5:1. Elihu here in Job
describes the traditional course of sin, illness and conversion, forgiveness,
health and joy. The angel who intercedes for man indicates what is just for
him, comforts him and presents his ransom to God.51 Here though,
something negative is attributed to a being, the angel, who is distinct from
The first thing to bear in mind is the close link between the LXX and
the linguistic world of Greek literature so much so that this literature is
essential for the interpretation of this version of the Bible.
An excellent example might be the translation which is frequently found
of the Hebrew term lAav. with a[|dhj.52 The evidence of the Greek text of
Job about the underworld is linked to the Greek concept of afterlife. The
a;ggeloi qanatofo,roi may be connected to the preceding verse where the
Hebrew expression where ~yti(mim.l is interpreted with a[|dhj where the
Vulgata translates it literally mortiferis as a figure of speech. In Job 38:17
a[|dhj is the equivalent of tw<m'l.c; which at times is translated as skia,
qana,tou. In Job 40:20 and 41:24 it is translated as ta,rtaroj. The Greek
translator was certainly acquainted with Greek mythology.53
This is evident, for example, that ~yrIysia], the chained in the Sheol, is
translated as oi` aivw,nioi the eternal in Job 3:18. N. Fernandez Marcos
points out that this expression indicates a kind of everlasting demon and is
a sign that confirms the translator as well as the readers were familiar with
the Greek mythology. This same scholar, quoting M.P. Nilsson, states that
the plural form of this noun has this meaning, particularly in papyri

For this text see MARIO CIMOSA, L'intercessione di Giobbe in LXXGb 42,710,
Salesianum 49/3 (1986): 126.
Cf. LVQUE, Job et son Dieu, 550551.
Cf. RAVASI, Giobbe, 682.
Cf. Job 7:9; 11: 8; 14:13; 17: 13.16; 21: 13; 26: 6 (Th.); cf. also Ps 6: 5.
For the use of Greek terminology concerning life after death see MARIO CIMOSA
and GILLIAN BONNEY, Job LXX, The Animals. The mystery of God in Nature, Studia
Ephemeridis Augustinianum 101 (2006): 2539.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


dedicated to magic and Christian literature, aivw,n corresponds to dai,mwn

and pneu/ma which is used to describe a supernatural being.54 Another
translation of the MT is possible: if there is a messenger nearby, an
interpreter, an intercessor, one of a thousand, to declare in favour of man
and his rectitude.
In his speech Elihu seems to say that if that man has someone who
informs him, a messenger on his behalf before God who, compared to the
multitude who testify to his guilt, attempts to find the ransom which may
save him from the grave, he will be restored to life. Perhaps that messenger
could be another man who in all honesty intercedes for him before God
and God is content with his merits and saves the sinner as in Job 22:30;
42:79; and again Gen 18:1633; Exod 32:1114; Isa 53; Jer 5, 1; Ezek
22:30). The Greek places it even more so in relation to the celestial court
and tribunal. Just as Satan appears to be the adversary and accuser of man
in the same way there is someone ready to defend him before God as in Ps
91: 1112.
In this case the divine intervention envisaged by Elihu, will restore his
strength and youthful vigour to man with renewed life (see verse 25 and
2Kgs 5:14; Ps 103:5). In this way it is already possible for us to perceive
the presence of the angels which protect man in the Hebrew text and even
more so in the Greek one. Philo of Alexandria, commenting on Genesis,
speaks of the kingly attribute of the angels which is both legislative and
punitive.55 This notion is continued in later Christian exegesis of this
passage.56 Perhaps the addition of the Greek Text shows that the translator
intended inserting his own theological views in it.
D. Job 36:14
The context is the speech of Elihu where he explains the real sense of
Jobs sufferings. The NETS translation prefers messengers in place of
the angels in the Greek version.57 There is a textual phrase which, but
not according to all scholars, could refer to the premature death of
adolescents.58 As in verses 5:1, 15:1415, in 36:14 the invisible presence,
relative purity and punitive functions of the angels are underlined. It might


Cf. MARTIN P. NILSSON, Geschichte der griechischen Religion, II (HAW V/2,12;

Mnchen: C. H. Beck, 1950), 481; WITTE, The Greek Book of Job, 39, n.26.
Cf. Philo, Quaestiones et solutiones in Genesim I, 57, 35.
Cf. Olympiodoros, Kommentar zu Hiob, 284; Julian the Arian, Der Hiobkommentar des Arianers Julian, 209.
Cf. Job, NETS, 692.
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 496.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

also be observed that in the later apocryphal work, The Testament of Job,
Elihu, specifically named the evil one, is an accomplice of Satan himself.59
E. Job 40:19
First of all there is no reference whatsoever in the MT to the angels which
are mentioned in the Greek text.60 Secondly, we may observe that the
classification of this animal is rather difficult.
On the whole Behemoth seems to be a more mythical than real animal.
The name Behemoth is, for some scholars, a generic name for a
mythical beast which is a symbol of evil, the forces of chaos, over which
man alone cannot hold sway. They therefore consider the LXX version to
indicate the Beast par excellence and not the hippopotamus as suggested
by the Hebrew text.61
Yet in the Greek version of the LXX of Job 40:19 we learn that he is not
a deity which, as in the Babylonian myths, dominates chaos but he also has
been created by God, in fact he is the first object of Gods intervention in a
condition of chaos. Indeed in Job 40:19 he is described, in the Greek
translation, as the principle element or the beginning of Gods creation,
which is described as a moulding from clay, as in Isa 29:16; Hab 2:18; Ps
102. Yet Behemoth appears in this portrait as in Gen 1:2, as a brutal beast
of immense strength and the description of his strength in Job 40:16,
specifically alludes to his sexual vigour. Even he has to contend with the
violence of the rivers current but he overcomes it. Yet despite this
mythical beasts evil connections, God, as in Gen 1:2025, is the Lord of
all living creatures even of Behemoth. So even the beast born from chaos
is subordinate to God who has created from nothing, from chaos. In fact in
Job 40:19 the Greek text says that he is even an object of mockery for
Gods angels.
F. Job 41:25
There is no reference to the angels in the MT.62 In Ezek 29:3 ~yNIT;h; is
described as having powerful jaws and scales.


Cf. MARIO CIMOSA, Comparing LXX Job 42:710 and Testament of Job 42:48,
in Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature. Yearbook 2004 (Berlin/New York: de
Gruyter, 2004), 389409, 40.
Cf. GORREA, Job rpens ou trahi?, 208.
Cf. DANIEL BERTRAND, Le bestiaire de Job. Notes sur les versions grecques et
latines. Index des noms des animaux, in Le Livre de Job chez les Pres (ed. P. Maraval;
Cahiers de Biblica Patristica 5, Strasbourg: Centre dAnalyse et de Documentation
Patristiques, 1996), 247; RAVASI, Giobbe, 795.
Cf. GORREA, Job repens ou trahi?, 214.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


The first reference to Leviathan in the Book of Job is in chapter 3:8,

where the term kh/toj, or marine monster is used, as in Jonah, but then in
chapters 7: 12 and 26:12 we also find the term dra,kwn. In chapter 41, verse
25 of Job we also find the first of five questions which expect a negative
answer from Job and in this same verse the term dra,kwn is used to describe
Leviathan as a marine monster as in Isa 27:1; Ps 74:13; 104:26; Rev 12:3;
13:2: 16:3. The Hebrew word ~yNIT, which indicates a mythical sea monster,
embodiment of the original chaos, is traditionally translated as serpent or
snake in Exod 7:9.10.12, Isa 27:1 and Deut 32:33. In Ezek 29:3 the
Egyptian Pharoah is called the great ~yNIT that live in the midst of his rivers.
The vivid description seems to indicate an enormous beast, a sea snake,
which belongs to the deep sea waters. We also know that the Egyptians
hunted the crocodile because it was for them a symbol of evil. It appears
from the examination of the texts of this second section that the heavenly
beings who are hidden from ordinary human gaze as in Job 5:516, are not
altogether pure, as we may observe in Job 4:18, and are not always
perceived as a positive presence. In Job 36:14 the Greek translation clearly
views angels as instruments of death or of judgmental wrath as in Job
20:117; 40, 11. In the latter of these instances the Masoretic text before
us does not obviously mention angels. Nor in Gods final speech 40:6
41:26 in the Masoretic text is there any reference whatsoever to angels.
However that may be, in the eyes of the Greek translator, these two
mythical beasts are clearly connected to a demonic presence.

III. The texts referring to the Devil in the Septuagint version

A. Job 1:612
In the Greek Hexapla text the final part of 1:6 the phrase the devil came
with them does not occur.63 The Devil we learn arrives in the company of
the angels.The Greek translation therefore seems to suggest more forcibly
than the Hebrew that the Adversary is one of the angels. The Hebrew is
more ambiguous.64 However in the Greek text we find the word dia,boloj
which derives from the verb used by Plato to signify to put at variance,65
and not the name of Satan. The Devil has an article in front of his name so
he was obviously a well known figure to the translator.66 The NETS
edition translates the term Devil as the slanderer.67 Another modern

Cf. GORREA, Job repens ou trahi?, 15.

Cf. GAMMIE, Angelology, 7.
Cf. Plato, Symposium, 222,c,d.
Cf. POPE, Job, 9.
Cf. Job, NETS, 1.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

exegete is of the opinion that the correct translation should be Adversary

or perhaps less ambiguously Opponent.68 The term one day in verse 6
has been interpreted in the Targum as the universal experience of man.69
Later on in the fourth century the patristic writer Julian the Arian says that
the day of the trial was deliberately chosen when Job was surrounded by
his children.70
The term o` dia,boloj is found 13 or 14 times in the LXX Job. On each
occasion it is used to translates the Hebrew word MT !j'F'h;, which is a
legal term in the Hebrew Scriptures. Scholars discuss the origin of the
name Satan which could derive from the Akkadic word !j;F'h;, which is
synonymous of an important court official. The same name is used in Zech
3:12; Num 22:22.32; 1Sam 29:4; 1Kgs 5:8; Ps 106:6. In 1Chr 21:1
David's census is inspired by the Devil. The name derives from the verb
!j;f'; which means to be an adversary or to be in opposition or to
accuse, as in Ps 35:21; 109:4.20 or to threaten Ps 71:13.71 At first he
seemed to be simply an adversary as in 1Sam 29:4 but then he became a
figure which accuses men before God.72 The !j'f' is an enemy in a special
sense because the accuser speaks before a court of law. It is usually an
earthly tribunal. However, as there exists an earthly tribunal, so there is
also a celestial one. In fact the use of this term in a religious context
corresponds to its profane significance.
The first reference to a figure called !j'F'h;, which is part of a celestial
council in the post-exile period is in the prologue of Job. In this particular
context we find the heavenly tribunal which on set days gathers before the
presence of God. Among these there is the accuser or the adversary. Here
therefore it is not demonic figure but a heavenly public prosecutor which
belongs to the group of the ~yhil{a/h'( ynEB. whose task is to travel about the
earth and to observe human behaviour. In this case he must obtain
permission from God in order to tempt Job, chapter 1:11. Some elements
which will assign to him power over the forces which threaten life are
already implicit. He is no longer only the public prosecutor but something
Thus the Greek translator did not choose to transliterate the Hebrew
term in o` Satana/j a word that is used many times in the Testaments of the
Twelve Patriarchs. Nor did he think of using the expression to. ponhro.n
daimo,nion / the evil demon used by the translator of Tobit which is
attributed to Asmodeus the death-bearing demon (Tobit 3:17). Instead he

Cf. GAMMIE, Angelology, 12.

Cf. POPE, Job, 9.
Cf. POPE, Job, 9; Julian the Arian, Der Hiobkommentar des Arianers, 1,10.
Cf. RAVASI, Giobbe, 293.
Cf. CIMOSA, Gli angeli e demoni, 61.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


preferred the Greek term o` dia,boloj used by the LXX not only for a
heavenly figure as in Zech 3:13) but also for an adversary or a human
enemy such as Haman in LXX Esth 7:4) Certainly dia,boloj is connected
with the human expression ponhro,j. It is interesting to notice that in a later
Greek translation of 1 Maccabees there ia an allusion to dia,bolon
ponhro,n / an evil enemy who is clearly Antiochus IV Epiphanes who
attacks Jerusalem and spills Jewish blood. It is therefore impossible to
think immediately of a figure which is not human. Later on in the second
century Justin of Nablus in his Apology gives the various names of the
prince of evil as in the Book of Revelation 12:9; 20:2: Serpent, Satan
and Devil.73 Gregory the Great refers to the Devil simply as our
Adversarius antiquus.74
Satan however seems to behave like a member of the heavenly court
who comes with the other attendants to present himself and report on the
fulfilment of his duties as Zedekiah in 1Kgs 22 or Isa 6. In Zech 3 we see
the high priest Joshua stands before the angel of God and Satan is on the
right hand to accuse him. Satan's also answer in verse 7 brings to mind Zc
1:1011, where the horses represent those whom God has sent to patrol the
earth. Likewise in Zech 6:7 the horses are the four winds of heaven, which
after attending on the Lord, go out to patrol the world. Satan during his
travels had certainly encountered Job.75 Yet Gregory the Great, in later
Christian exegesis of this passage, observes that the Devil wished to be
seen rather than to see.76
We may also notice the familiar tone in verse 7 with which God
addresses the Devil and enquires about his activities in the world. In verse
8 the title my servant is characteristic of the prologue as 2, 3 and the
epilogue, 42:7.8.77 The translation of the phrase prose,scej th/| dianoi,a| sou
kata. tou/ paido,j mou Iwb is subject to debate. Some opt for the solution
that it is a complement and NETS translates it as set your mind against.78
This version is also preferred in the exegesis of Olympiodorus.79 In verse 9
we hear Satans ironic reply about the depth of Jobs whole religious
attitude, his faith; that is his virtue is a calculated interest. The Devil
remarks that God has even placed a hedge around him, an obvious sign of

Cf. Justin, 2 Apologia 5, 16.

Cf. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Iob, VIII, 68.
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 5.
Cf. Olympiodorus, Kommentar zu Hiob, 1519; Julian the Arian, Der Hiob
Kommentar des Arianers, 1117; Gregory the Great, Moralia in Iob, CCSL 143, II, 62.
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 67.
Cf. WADE ALBERT WHITE, A Devil in the Making: Isomorphism and Exegesis in
OG Job 1: 8b, in Septuagint Research. Issues and Challenges in the Study of the Greek
Jewish Scriptures, (ed. W. Kraus, R. G. Wooden; SBL.SCS 53, Atlanta 2006), 145156.
Cf. Olympiodorus, Kommentar zu Hiob, 17.1924.


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

divine favour and protection in the Bible. John Chrysostom points out that
Gods numerous benefits towards him, as indicated in verse 1: 10, are the
awards for his virtue and do not derive from acts of injustice.80 Moreover
God, comments Gregory the Great, praises his servant Job in the Devils
presence to exalt his virtues so that they may be preserved when they are
manifested afterwards and notices how enraged the Devil becomes when
he hears that these virtues are hedged around by Gods favour.81
In fact later patristic exegesis stresses that Satan is obviously envious of
Jobs many virtues.82 Yet in verse 1:11, after having insinuated that no
one, not even the righteous Job, really loves God in a disinterested way,
the Devil, without actually daring to say so, directly challenges God in
order that he may receive power over Job. Will Job use a divine blessing
towards God such as in Deut 2:7; 14:29; 15:10; 16:15? The difference in
attitude between the pessimism of Satan and the optimism of God is quite
B. Job 2:17
The first two verses 2:12 are parallel to those of 1:67. In verse 2:3 we
find again the expression my servant Job. The NETS edition here
renders the term servant as attendant.84 In another commentary we find
the term angels of God translated as the gods.85As above in verse 1:6,
the last part of verse 2:1 and the devil came with them is omitted in the
Hexapla version of the Septuagint.86
The patristic exegesis of verse 2 notices that God questions the Devil a
second time before the angels, to ask him where he had been. For the
Devil, Chrysostom notices, as the text says, also came among them to
tempt Job and because he had previously said in the presence of God that
Job would curse him to his face. Yet this did not happen.87 Satan defines
his work in chapters 1:7 and 2:2 as wandering around heaven and strolling
around the earth and in Zech 1: 811 and 6:7 the messenger of God does
the same. He doubts of the disinterested nature of Jobs faith and he tries
to incite God against Job but nevertheless he tries to keep his activities
concealed from Gods supervision. Job, according to Lvque, in
agreement with patristic exegesis, seems to be the object on which he tries

Cf. J. Chrysostom, Kommentar zu Hiob, 1.10, 19.

Cf. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, CCSL 143, II, 65.66.
Cf. Olympiodorus, Kommentar zu Hiob, 1718.
Cf. RAVASI, Giobbe, 298.
Cf. Job, NETS, 2.
Cf. POPE, Job, 18.
Cf. GORREA, Job repens ou trahi?, 15.
Cf. J. Chrysostom, Kommentar zu Hiob, 2,1, 33.

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


to vent his inner hatred and he clearly wishes to humiliate God by means
of his creatures.88
In verse 3 God is triumphant and repeats his praises of Job who, despite
all his misfortunes, remains faithful. Dhorme says that the expression skin
for skin in verse 4, according to the commentaries found in the Targum, is
that a man is ready to sacrifice a less important thing in order to save a
more important one. Moreover in verse 5 the words bones and flesh are
truly the most intimate part of man. Since the Devil, Julian the Arian
notices, had seen that the first attack of temptation on physical objects had
not caused Job to stumble, the test is now focused on Jobs person.89
Jobs faith has still not been truly put to the test. In verse 6 God accepts
Satans challenge because Satan must no longer doubt in Job's perfection
but Satan has no further power over Jobs life. In verse 7 the mysterious
disease which strikes Job seems to be a form of malignant ulcers, not
necessarily leprosy.90
It is possible, according to Dhorme, that the sections in chapter 1:612
and 2:17, which present the figure of Satan, were perhaps a later addition
to the original oral version and that from a literary point of view the two
sections have a limited connection to the rest of the drama. In order that
God may not seem to be directly responsible for Jobs misfortunes in
chapter 42:11, the two scenes introduce the theological background which
avoids attributing Job's vicissitudes to God. We should also have expected
that there would have been at least be a reference in the epilogue to the
healing of Jobs ulcers and Satans defeat.91 Moreover, although Satan is
the third actor of the drama, he cannot be seen in a dialectical perspective
as an angel of God who had become his opponent. Satan, as the later
patristic evidence confirms, is actually subordinate to God.92

Some conclusions
In the Hebrew text we see the existence of good celestial beings, the
angels, and bad ones, the demons. The figure of Satan in the first chapter is
also an angel. On the other hand, the Greek translation of the Book of Job
may be viewed as part of a process towards a clear even if modest and

Cf. LVQUE, Job et son Dieu, 189.

Cf. Julian the Arian, Der Hiobkommentar des Arianers, 2.4.
Cf. DHORME, Le livre de Job, 1517.
Cf. LVQUE, Job et son Dieu, 120121.
Cf. Olympiodorus, Kommentar zu Hiob, 17.27; Julian the Arian, Der Hiobkommentar des Arianers, 2425; Gregory the Great, Moralia in Iob, CCSL 143, II, 70; III,


Mario Cimosa / Gillian Bonney

limited view of a dualistic demonology. Yet the comparison with other

works of the Tolemaic and Seleucid period such as the first book of Enoch,
The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, The Book of Jubilees, the
demonology in Job appears rather bland and underdeveloped.

1. The angels
The angels are incorporeal sometimes invisible beings. Their origin, though
obviously divine, is obscure but they are certainly creatures of God. The
passages in Genesis, the Book of Enoch and the Epistle of Peter hint at a
mythical origin but the Septuagint version of Job gives no indication as to
their possible origin. Probably this was not a point of interest but the
translator was obviously well acquainted with the idea of heavenly beings
which stand before the presence of God. In fact in Job we find them
arranged as if in a heavenly court. In the Greek version of Job the angels
are depicted as Gods own messengers but they are clearly subject to his
divine majesty. God though, considers the angels worthy enough to
perform certain tasks on his behalf. They are invested with a liturgical duty
which leads them stand in his presence to sing his praise. They are Gods
mediators who deliver his Word to humans. They are intimately concerned
with the concept of divine justice for they guide the steps of the righteous
and intercede on their behalf but they can also bring death and punishment
to mankind.
2. The demons
These other angels are also Gods creatures but again their origin is
somewhat mysterious. Although the angels are defined as holy we perceive
that their purity is relative. They do not achieve the perfection of God and
are described as not always being without fault. There is thus some trace of
impurity attached to them. Various passages of Job which refer to angels
attribute a rather ambiguous role to these divine beings.
However, the two mythical beasts Behemoth and Leviathan in the Greek
text are clearly considered to be symbols of evil. Yet Behemoth does not
seem to be either a divine being or even a deity similar to those of the
Egyptian and Babylonian cults. Although this ferocious animal appears to
represent primordial chaos, it is the subject of Gods first intervention in
his creation and in the Greek version it is even mocked by Gods angels.
Likewise Leviathan, despite being depicted as the very essence of chaos
and evil, is a creature of God. In fact no man may hold him in check and
only God may curb his ferocity. In the Greek text he also is made an object
of mockery by Gods angels. So in the Septuagint version of Job we find
that these creatures, like the angels and the Devil are limited in the

Angels, Demons and the Devil in the Book of Job


exercise of their actions. For above all they are subject to their creator, to
the mystery of his all powerful authority.
3. The Devil
Satans origin is also mysterious but it might have been angelic because in
the Greek Book of Job he appears twice in company of the angels. Satan
hints to God that Jobs faith is not so disinterested or pure as it might first
appear. Job is a hireling who, deprived of his wealth and prosperity, will
eventually turn away from God. The Devil is clearly trying to tempt God
first of all, even before assailing Job, but he is also envious of Jobs
outstanding virtues. In the apocryphal work The Testament of Job, in the
speech of Bildad, Jobs misadventures are attributed directly to God
himself.93 Yet the biblical evidence of the LXX clearly proves that the
Devil has to ask God to deliver Job into his hands. In fact God allows him
to bring death to the sons and daughters and ruin upon Jobs entire
Moreover, despite allowing the Devil to tempt Job so sorely, God
dictates his own terms to the agreement. The Devil may not take Jobs life
since that is entirely in the hands of God. Satan therefore, though in direct
opposition to God, still remains subordinate to his authority. So on the one
hand we find Satan who tempts Job to the utmost and on the other we have
Job who, being unable to perceive any direct personal responsibility for his
terrible woes, cries out in anguish and despair. Yet, despite the consolation
and advice of his friends, Job resists the temptation of denying his faith in
God. For Gods answers to him in the final chapters confirm that Job has
never ceased to recognize the Almighty as the supreme authority, the
creator of all things. The Devil may try to challenge God but he clearly
does not hold his creation in his grasp. In conclusion, we may well observe
that the angels, the mythical beasts, the demons and the Devil are all
limited creatures which are in the last instance subordinate to their Creator.


Cf. Testament de Job, 100.