See what all the controversy is about.
In my novels, Joshua Valiant and Caleb Vigilant, I write about a tribe called the Seirim people of Banias at Mount Hermon. They live in caves at the foot of the mountains and are led by satyrs, chimeric beings with the lower body of a goat and the upper body of a human. But this mythopoeic imagery is not a mere assimilation of ancient Greek myths about Pan, the satyr deity of nature and shepherding. The notion of satyrs or goat deities predates Greek myth and finds a place in Canaanite lore, and therefore, the Bible as well.
Take a look at these prophecies of Isaiah referencing the destruction of Babylon and Edom.
Isaiah 34:11–15 (The destruction of Edom)
11But the hawk and the porcupine shall possess it, the owl and the raven shall dwell in it… 13Thorns shall grow over its strongholds, nettles and thistles in its fortresses. It shall be the haunt of jackals, an abode for ostriches. 14And wild animals shall meet with hyenas; the wild goat (seirim) shall cry to his fellow; indeed, there the night bird settles and finds for herself a resting place. 15There the owl nests and lays and hatches and gathers her young in her shadow; indeed, there the hawks are gathered, each one with her mate.
Isaiah 13:21–22 (The destruction of Babylon)
21But wild animals will lie down there, and their houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there wild goats (seirim) will dance. 22Hyenas will cry in its towers, and jackals in the pleasant palaces; its time is close at hand and its days will not be prolonged.
The passages above speak of God’s judgment upon the nations of Babylon and Edom (symbols of all that is against Israel and Yahweh). A cursory reading of the texts seem to indicate a common word picture of Yahweh destroying these nations so thoroughly that they end up a desert wasteland with wild animals and birds inhabiting them because the evil people will be no more.
Nothing about mythical monsters like satyrs there, right?
Wrong. Because the English translations of the Hebrew word seirim as “wild goats,” obscure the full ancient meaning. If we look closer into the original Hebrew, we find a more expanded mythopoeic reference to pagan deities.
I was on video for The Sharpening with Josh Peck.
Check out the Description at the YouTube link. It shows an outline of what I talked about so you can jump around if you want.
In Matthew 16:13-20 is the famous story of Peter’s confession of Jesus as the Christ, who then responds, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (v. 18). Shortly after, Jesus leads them up to a high mountain where he is transfigured.
First off, let’s get this straight. It isn’t “Hell” whose gates Jesus is talking about, but Hades, a very different thing than what most people think. The Greek words are actually “Gates of Hades,” which is not a place of eternal burning fire, but rather the temporary holding place of dead souls before the judgment. It was the Abode of the Dead. (More on that in future posts)
In order to understand the spiritual reality of what is going on in this polemical sequence and its relevance to the cosmic War of the Seed, we must first understand where it is going on.
Verse 13 says that Peter’s confession takes place in the district of Caesarea Philippi. This city was in the heart of Bashan on a rocky terrace in the foothills of Mount Hermon. This was the celebrated location of the grotto of Banias or Panias, where the satyr goat god Pan was worshipped and from where the mouth of the Jordan river flowed. This very location was what was known as the “gates of Hades,” the underworld abode of dead souls.
The Jewish historian Josephus wrote of this sacred grotto during his time, “a dark cave opens itself; within which there is a horrible precipice, that descends abruptly to a vast depth; it contains a mighty quantity of water, which is immovable; and when anybody lets down anything to measure the depth of the earth beneath the water, no length of cord is sufficient to reach it.” (this cavern shows up in the new novel, Jesus Triumphant)
As scholar Judd Burton points out, this is a kind of ground zero for the gods against whom Jesus was fighting his cosmic spiritual war. Mount Hermon was the location where the Watchers came to earth, led their rebellion and miscegenation, which birthed the Nephilim (1 Enoch 13:7-10). It was their headquarters, in Bashan, the place of the Serpent, where Azazel may have been worshipped before Pan as a desert goat idol.
When Jesus speaks of building his church upon a rock, it was more of a polemical contrast with the pagan city upon the rock, than it may have been a word play off of Peter’s name, meaning “stone.” In the ancient world, mountains were not only a gateway between heaven, earth, and the underworld, but also the habitations of the gods that represented their heavenly power and authority.
The mountain before them, Hermon, was considered the heavenly habitation of Canaanite gods as well as the very Watchers before whose gates of Hades Jesus now stood.
The polemics become clearer when one realizes that gates are not offensive weapons, but defensive means. Christ’s kingship is storming the very gates of Hades/Sheol in the heart of darkness and he will build his cosmic holy mountain upon its ruins.
But the battle is only beginning. Because the very next incident that occurs is the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-13).
The text says that Jesus led three disciples up a high mountain. But it doesn’t say which mountain. Though tradition has sometimes concluded it was Mount Tabor, a more likely candidate is Mount Hermon itself. The reasons are because Tabor is not a high mountain at only 1800 feet compared to Hermon’s 9000 feet height, and Tabor was a well traveled location which would not allow Jesus to be alone with his disciples (17:1).
Then the text says, that Jesus “was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him” (Matthew 17:2–3). When Peter offers to put up three tabernacles for each of his heroes, he hears a voice from the cloud say, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased, listen to him” (vs. 4-5).
The theological point of this being that Moses and Elijah are the representatives of the Old Covenant, summed up as the Law (Moses) and the Prophets (Elijah), but Jesus is the anointed King (Messiah) that both Law and Prophets pointed toward.
So God is anointing Jesus and transferring all covenantal authority to him as God’s own Son. And for what purpose? To become king upon the new cosmic mountain that God was establishing: Mount Zion in the city of God. But wait, didn’t you read me say he would build it upon Hermon? Follow me, here…
In the Mosaic Covenant, Mount Sinai was considered the cosmic mountain of God where God had his assembly of divine holy ones (Deut. 33:2-3). But now, as pronounced by the prophets, that mountain was being transferred out of the wilderness wandering into a new home in the Promised Land as Mount Zion (ultimately in Jerusalem).
And that new mountain was the displacement and replacement of the previous divine occupants of Mount Hermon. Of course, just like David the messianic type, Jesus was anointed as king, but there would be a delay of time before he would take that rightful throne because he had some Goliaths yet to conquer.
Take a look at this Psalm and see how the language of cosmic war against the anointed Messiah is portrayed as a victory of God establishing his new cosmic mountain. We see a repeat of the language of Jesus’ transfiguration at Hermon.
Psalm 2:1–8 (NASB95)
Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers [heavenly as well?] take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed [Messiah], saying, “Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!” He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, “But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.” “I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. ‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.
Like Moses’ transfiguration in Exodus 34:29, Jesus’ body was transformed by his anointing to shine with the glory of those who surround God’s throne, evidence of divine status (Dan. 10:6; Ezek 1:14-16, 21ff.; 10:9).
But that description is no where near the ending of this spiritual parade of triumph being previewed in God’s Word. One last passage illustrates the conquering change of ownership of the cosmic mountain in Bashan. Notice the ironic language used of Bashan as God’s mountain, and the spiritual warfare imagery of its replacement.
O mountain of God, mountain of Bashan; O many-peaked mountain, mountain of Bashan! Why do you look with hatred, O many-peaked mountain, at the mount that God desired for his abode, yes, where the Lord will dwell forever? The chariots of God are twice ten thousand, thousands upon thousands; the Lord is among them; Sinai is now in the sanctuary. You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there… But God will strike the heads of his enemies, the hairy crown of him who walks in his guilty ways. The Lord said, “I will bring them back from Bashan, I will bring them back from the depths of the sea.
In this Psalm, God takes ownership of Bashan with his heavenly host of warriors, but then replaces it and refers to Sinai (soon to be Zion). It is not that God is making Bashan his mountain literally, but conquering its divinities and theologically replacing it with his new cosmic mountain elsewhere.
In verse 18 we see a foreshadowing of Christ’s own victorious heavenly ascension, where he leads captives in triumphal procession and receives tribute from them as spoils of war (v. 18). He will own and live where once the rebellious ruled (v. 18). He strikes the “hairy crown” (seir) of the people of that area (v. 21), the descendants of the cursed hairy Esau/Seir, who worshipped the goat demons (as depicted in Joshua Valiant and Caleb Vigilant). He will bring them all out from the sea of chaos, that wilderness where Leviathan reigns.
But first, the Messiah must descend into that sea to claim his victory.
And that “sea” of descent is Hades. Stay tuned in the next post as we talk about Christ’s descent into Hades.
For additional Biblical and historical research related to this novel, go to www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com under the menu listing, “Links” > Jesus Triumphant.
In the last post, I explained how the nations had been allotted to the fallen Watchers (“Sons of God”) as territories over which they ruled (Deut. 32:8-11). The satan, as the “god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), was most likely the Watcher of Rome, because Rome ruled the known world at the time, AND it was the oppressor of Israel.
So how are we to understand the Biblical tension of the satan being “cast down” (Jn. 12:31) and without power (Heb. 2:14), while simultaneously having the ability to prowl around and devour people (1Pet. 5:8)?
Through the entire Chronicles series, I have used a concept called “binding” of angels, demons, and Watchers through either supernatural restraint or imprisonment in the earth or Tartarus. Continue reading
Chronicles of the Nephilim has largely been based upon the Divine Council worldview that has been explained in many free articles on the Chronicles Links Page and my book When Giants Were Upon the Earth. This involves the fallen Watchers from God’s heavenly host who are called the Sons of God. They led the world astray in the Days of Noah, that led to the Flood as Yahweh’s judgment. Deuteronomy 32:8-9, then speaks of how at the Tower of Babel, Yahweh divided the seventy nations according to the number of the fallen Sons of God and placed them under their authority. They became the “princes” (Dan. 10:13, 20-21) or “gods” of those pagan nations (Deut. 32:17; 4:19-21), rulers of those geographical territories.
So the headline was a trick, ya see, because Satan isn’t in hell, he’s in the heavens (Eph 2:2).
When earthly rulers battle on earth, the Bible describes the host of heaven battling with them in spiritual unity. In Daniel 10, hostilities between Greece and Persia is accompanied by the battle of heavenly Watchers over those Gentile nations (described as “princes”).
Daniel 10:13, 20
The prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me twenty-one days, but Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I was left there with the kings of Persia.” …Then he said, “Do you know why I have come to you? But now I will return to fight against the prince of Persia; and when I go out, behold, the prince of Greece will come.
When Sisera fought with Israel, the earthly kings and heavenly authorities (host of heaven) are described interchangeably in unity. (previous posts showed that in the Bible, “host of heaven” and “stars” are used to mean both the stars we see in the sky and the gods of the nations, interchangeably Deut. 32:43; 4:19; ; Isa 14:12-13)
“The kings came, they fought; then fought the kings of Canaan…From heaven the stars fought, from their courses they fought against Sisera.
When God punishes earthly rulers, he punishes them along with the heavenly rulers (“host of heaven”) above and behind them.
On that day the Lord will punish the host of heaven, in heaven, and the kings of the earth, on the earth. They will be gathered together as prisoners in a pit; they will be shut up in a prison, and after many days they will be punished.
Though this notion of territorial archons or spiritual rulers is Biblical and carries over into intertestamental literature such as the Book of Enoch (1 En. 89:59, 62-63; 67) and others, it seems to lessen at the time of the New Testament.
The New Testament epistles speak of the spiritual principalities and powers that are behind the earthly rulers and powers to be sure (Eph. 6:12-13), but it appears to be more generic in reference. And after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, these spiritual powers have been disarmed and overthrown (Col. 2:15, Luke 10:18), at least legally losing their hegemony (Eph. 1:20-23).
The fallen angelic powers are still around in the first century, but have been defanged with the inauguration of the Messianic kingdom of God.
But there is one of those fallen angelic powers that seems to rise up and grab extraordinary power in the New Testament: The satan (which translated, means, “Accuser”). The Accuser’s choice of Belial as a proper name in Jesus Triumphant is well-attested in Scripture and other ancient Jewish writings, especially the Dead Sea Scrolls from Qumran. He is also called Beliar, Mastema, and Sammael in other Second Temple literature. (For more details on the satan in the Old Testament, see my book When Giants Were Upon the Earth)
Throughout the Old Testament, the Hebrew word belial is used as a personification of death, wickedness, and treachery, as well as “an emotive term to describe individuals or groups who commit the most heinous crimes against the Israelite religious or social order, as well as their acts.” (For more details on the satan in the Old Testament, see my book When Giants Were Upon the Earth)
The Apostle Paul uses the proper name of Belial for the satan (using language similar to the Dead Sea Scrolls) in 2 Corinthians 6:14–15: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial?”
Three times in the Gospel of John, this Accuser, Belial, is called “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31, 14:30-31, 16:11), in 2 Cor. 4:4, “the god of this world.” In Eph. 2:2 he is called the “prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.” In fact, when Jesus was tempted by the satan in the desert, he offered Christ all the kingdoms of the world for his own “domain and glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6).
It seems as if the satan is the only Watcher god in authority over the nations, like he has all the power. What happened to all the other ones?
Walter Wink points out a possible key to the solution. In the intertestamental period,
“Much tradition identified Satan as the angel of Rome, thus adapting the angels-of-the-nations idea to the situation of Roman world-hegemony. Since Rome had conquered the entire Mediterranean region and much else besides, its angel-prince had become lord of all other angel-princes of the vanquished nations.This identification was already explicit at Qumran, where Rome and the Romans (the ‘Kittim’ of the War Scroll) are made the specific allies and agents of Satan and his host.”
The Dead Sea Scroll 11QMelch interprets Psalm 82 as describing Satan/Belial as the chief of the gods in the divine council to be punished for his unjust authority over the nations.
Another Jewish intertestamental document, the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, lists in several places Beliar, synonymous with Satan, as holding captive mankind.
In 3 Enoch 26:12 Sammael is called the Prince of Rome, just as Dubbiel is called the Prince of Persia (remember the “Prince of Persia” from Daniel 10?).
Just like the satan in the New Testament, Sammael is called the “prince of the accusers who is greater than all the princes of kingdoms that are in the height [heaven]” (3 Enoch 14:2). And just like the satan in the New Testament, Sammael’s name means “god of the blind” (2 Cor. 4:4).
But what about this notion of the ruler (archon), or god of this world? Is the world something bigger than the realm of this satanic Prince of Rome? To answer that, we will have to look at the idea of the world as presented in the New Testament.
It is common in the Bible to refer to the Roman Empire as “all the world” (oikoumene) which meant the known inhabited world under Rome’s power (Luke 2:1; Col. 1:6; Rom. 1:8). All the known nations were encompassed in its power and worldview, so it seems those national angelic entities over those nations would therefore also be under the authority of the Watcher of Rome.
If Belial, the satan therefore was “god” or “ruler” of that “world,” then most likely he had become the angelic authority over Rome, and it would make sense that the New Testament would focus on the satan over the other Watchers.
In this understanding, When Jesus the Messiah arrives and inaugurates the kingdom of God, he does so by “binding the strong man” the “god of this world,” the satan. His casting out of demons was a herald of casting down the satan’s power (John 12:31; Matt. 12:28-29), and taking authority over his world. It was as if one fell swoop of the highest heavenly power over the nations brought down all the enemies with him. Jesus destroyed the devil who had the power of death (Heb 2:14).
Then why was the satan still around? He still prowled around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1Pet. 5:8). His binding was for something very particular. We will examine this “binding” in the next post.
For additional Biblical and historical research related to this post, go to www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com under the menu listing, “Links” > Jesus Triumphant.
In anticipation of the release of my next novel, Jesus Triumphant, Book 8 of the Chronicles of the Nephilim, I am going to post some articles on wild and bizarre spiritual stuff in the New Testament that will show up in the novel to come. July release. You better get cracking on the previous books in the series cause it all fits together with the Watchers, The Nephilim and the Cosmic War of the Seed.
Demons are a theological problem. Where do they come from? What are they? Why are they almost entirely absent in the Old Testament, and then all of a sudden, there is a flurry of demonic activity and possessions once Messiah comes to Israel? The casting out of demons is so frequently linked with Jesus’ proclamation of the Gospel that it seems to be more than a mere symbolic expression of his power over the spiritual world. It appears to be an essential theological component of the New Covenant.
First, just what are demons? We see in the New Testament that they are evil spirits that possess or inhabit the physical bodies of living individuals (Luke 11:24-26), and who are cast out by Jesus and his disciples by the power of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 8:16; Luke 10:17). Their presence sometimes causes physical infirmities like blindness (Matt. 12:22), deafness (Mark 9:17-29), or epilepsy (Matt. 17:15-18), as well as mental insanity (Mark 5:15). Many of them can inhabit one body (Mark 5:9), and bring great strength to the host (Mark 5:4).
But where did these evil spirits come from? In the Old Testament, there is very little explanation of demons. God sends an evil spirit to torment King Saul in 1 Sam. 16:14. Based on Saul’s insane behavior it is safe to say he was most likely possessed by that evil spirit (v. 15-23). 1 Kings 22:22-23 reveals that God sends a “lying spirit” into the mouths of false prophets. Demons? Maybe. But certainly subservient to God’s interests. Even the satan is depicted as a circumscribed servant of God’s will in the Old Testament (Job 1:12). As explained in other Appendices of the Chronicles, pagan idols are often referred to as demonic (“sheddim” Deut. 32:17; Psa. 106:34-37; Lev. 17:7; 2 Chron. 11:15) exposing the spiritual reality behind their earthly façade of graven images and foreign deities. But even these are not the same as what we traditionally think of as demons.
Other than these few examples, there is a dearth in the Old Testament of the kind of activity we read about in the New Testament, with raging demoniacs being exorcised by Christ and his disciples. It seems like the demons knew that the presence of Messiah was the final countdown of their own demise and they were throwing fits and tantrums. As if the Seed of the Woman was crushing the Seed of the Serpent’s head and the body was wriggling in pain.
But they are never described as fallen angels in the Bible. What then, are demons and from where do they come?
The church father Origen claimed that there was no clearly defined teaching on their genesis in the early church, but that a significant opinion was that “the devil was an angel, and that, having become an apostate, he induced as many of the angels as possible to fall away with himself, and these up to the present time are called his angels.”
This common Christian idea of the satan and demons as fallen angels is often proof-texted from Isa. 14:12-15, Ezek. 28:12-16, and Rev. 12:4. But as explained in the Appendix to Enoch Primordial, I do not believe these passages apply to a satanic fall from heaven. Isaiah 14 is the likening of the monstrous pride of the king of Babylon to a Canaanite myth of arrogant deities. Nothing about the satan there. And there is no reference to any others joining him either. Ezekiel 28 is a condemnation of the king of Tyre by likening him to Adam’s fall in the Garden, not the satan. This passage also fails to mention anyone in collusion with the arrogant prince. One has to import an alien notion of the satanic fall into these passages through eisegesis.
Lastly, Revelation 12 is not about a satanic fall or war in heaven before the Garden of Eden, or even in some future end of the world scenario. It is an apocalyptic parable that is describing the war of the satan at the incarnation of Christ, his ascension to the throne of authority over all principalities and powers, and his suppression of the satan’s power as the Gospel goes forth into the world.
So in the Bible there is no evidence of angels falling before the Garden of Eden. There is a satanic “fall” or a “casting out” of heaven (John 12:31) and a “throwing down” to the earth of the satan during the time of Christ (Luke 10:17-20). But that would be too late in the game to explain the few evil spirits in the Old Testament or their presence before the arrival of Messiah. The only other “fall” of angelic beings in the Bible is the Sons of God, the Watchers, in Genesis 6 coming to earth.
But that presents another problem, namely that the ontological nature or “material being” of the angels as revealed in the Bible would seem to preclude these fallen angels from being the Old Testament or New Testament demons or “evil spirits.” While angels are multidimensional in their ability to traverse between the heavenlies and the earth, they are described as having flesh that eats food (Gen. 18; 19:1), and can have sexual congress with human beings (Gen. 6:1-4). This is a heavenly flesh that is different from human flesh (1 Cor. 15:39-40), but is flesh nonetheless. It is a body. This would make angels such as the Watchers unlikely candidates for incorporeal spirits seeking flesh to inhabit or possess.
There is no origin of demons detailed in the Bible. There is merely a description of their spiritual nature and evil activities. But there is a tradition of their origin that carries some weight beyond mere speculation. Regarding this origin, the Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible says, “The most popular myth, however, is found in the Bible, intertestamental literature, the rabbis and the Church fathers: demons are the souls of the offspring of angels who cohabited with humans.” We are right back to that ancient text that keeps rearing its head in the New Testament; the book of 1 Enoch. There we read that the giants had unique ontological status as hybrids of both human and angel. So when they died in the Flood, their spirits became roaming entities seeking bodily possession of humans.
1 Enoch 15:8-16:1
8 “But now the giants who are born from the (union of) the spirits and the flesh shall be called evil spirits upon the earth, because their dwelling shall be upon the earth and inside the earth. 9 Evil spirits have come out of their bodies. Because from the day that they were created from the holy ones they became the Watchers; their first origin is the spiritual foundation. They will become evil upon the earth and shall be called evil spirits…12 And these spirits shall rise up against the children of the people and against the women, because they have proceeded forth (from them)… From the days of the slaughter and destruction, and the death of the giants… they will corrupt until the day of the great conclusion, until the great age is consummated, until everything is concluded (upon) the Watchers and the wicked ones.”
Chronicles of the Nephilim assumes this Enochic interpretation in its storyline as the last gasp attempt of the Seed of the Serpent to bite the heel of the Seed of Eve. Needless to say, their head is crushed in that attempt.
See the cool book trailer, artwork, characters, and free articles at www.ChroniclesoftheNephilim.com