American comedian Flip Wilson popularized the expression “the devil made me do it” through his character Geraldine Jones. While comic geniuses exaggerate for the laughs, their insights are usually on the mark. We tend to excuse our indiscretions by blaming an external agency. Judaism and Christianity both believe in the existence of a devil, but who is he? Revelation 12-13 portrays Satan as a supernatural being collecting human souls for an ultimate war of Good vs. Evil. Satan is seen as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, responsible for the fall of the angels to Earth in Genesis 6:1. From a Christian perspective, Satan possesses free will and is the cause of evil in the world. Judaism has a different outlook. The first time the word satan appears in the Bible is in Numbers 22:22 – God’s wrath flared because Balaam was on his way to curse the Jewish people, so He sends an angel [satan], to stop him.Satan appears a second time in I Samuel 29:4, where the Philistines are opposed to David being employed in their army lest he become an adversary (satan). The introduction of Satan as a supernatural being is in Zechariah 3:1-2: “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan (HaSatan) standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said unto Satan (HaSatan): ‘The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, yea, the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this man a brand plucked out of the fire?’” God’s intention was to show mercy to Joshua and restore the priesthood, but ‘The Opposer’ was there to argue for his punishment. God’s decision of course prevails. The point here is that Satan appears as a prosecutor within God’s plan, and under His rule.Satan also materializes in 1 Chronicles 21:1: “And Satan stood up against Israel, and moved David to number Israel.” However, the original story attributes the census plan to God in 2 Samuel 24:1: “And again the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and He moved David against them, saying: ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” Was it God or Satan who moved David to conduct a census? From Chronicles we see that God is directly behind evil, as Isaiah says (45:7): “I form the light, and create darkness; I make peace, and create evil; I am the Lord that doeth all these things.” The Hebrew word for create is barah, the same as that used in Genesis 1:1. This barah is ex nihilo (out of nothing). God is the creator of evil. The only other time in the Hebrew Bible we see Satan asHaSatan, a supernatural being, is in the Book ofJob. The same type of heavenly tribunal that featured in Zechariah isanimated. However, in this case, God listens to Satan and gives him alot of latitude to test Job’s sincerity.Satan is more than a legal adversary in Job, but reports to God; hisfunction is clearly a subordinate one. He does not even initiate theconversation concerning Job; it is God who calls attention to Job as “ablameless and upright man,” in Job 1:8 and Job 2:3. Satan cannot actindependently of God’s will, as it states in 1:10, where we learn thatGod has put a fence around Job and his possessions. Only when Godinvites Satan to stretch out his hand and touch what Job has (2:5) ishe able to act. The power that Satan exercises is delegated by God.From a Jewish point of view, Satan is assigned the role of tempter andprosecutor. However, a person has free choice to ignore hiswhisperings.