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Satyrs Isaiah 34.14


I’ve been working on some sort of article for a little while during this past semester of college.  Which includes that wonderful passage where Lilith appears.  I haven’t quite finished it yet, but I haven’t posted anything on here for far too long.  So this is portion of the paper, but it might seem like it ends abruptly.  Sorry about that, but I’ve got to finish the section of Lilith.   But here you go, maybe someone will enjoy this little piece.

“Wildcats shall meet hyenas,
Goat-demons shall greet each other;
There too the lilith shall repose
And find herself a resting place.” – Isaiah 34.14 (NJPS).

This is the famous passage in which Lilith emerges from.  The identities of what the NJPS translates as the “goat-demons” (שָֹעִיר) and the “the lilith” (לִילִית) have become a source of puzzlement for years.  Do these words refer to demons, or instead to animals?  What exactly are the Satyr and Lilith, what traditions have been placed upon these creatures of desolation?

Both of these creatures, the שֹעִיר and the לִילִית (from her on in, Satyr and Lilith respectively) are both citizen of “the wild and lonely places,” basically the wilderness (Cohen 162).  These words which may be translated less supernaturally as “he-goat and night-bird,” can still nonetheless easily refer to demons (Oswalt 616).  Looking at the many animals which appear in this passage most are unclean, therefore one sees easily how it would be “appropriate” that demons as well accompanied them into this new wasteland, this wilderness (Blenkinsopp 453).

The Satyr is found in other places within the scripture.  For example it appears within the book of Leviticus 4.24 where it does refer to the creature in question as a goat, but this is not so easily done in the other passages it appears within the Hebrew Scriptures (Jennings 410).  Hence in Lev 17.7 it is used as the name of some object of worship.  “And that they may offer their sacrifices no more to the goat-demons after whom they have strayed…” (emphasis added).  (Also as many modern translations: cf. ESV, NASB, etc.; NAB simply “Satyrs”).  It is used again 2 Chr. 11.15 in much the same sense as Lev 17.7, some suggest that in both passages this refers to an idol, most likely goat shaped (Oswalt 616).

In this specific passage in Isaiah we see that he Satyrs are merely calling to one another, something a normal animal could do, yet if one looks back in Isaiah 13.21 we see the Satyrs doing something goats simply don’t do (Bleniksopp 453).

“But beasts shall lie down there,
And the houses be filled with owls;
There shall ostriches make their home,
And there shall satyrs dance.” (Isaiah 13.21)

The following is an incomplete work cited, but things are cited above so here are the books in some form or fashion (plus some of other ones that I’ve used in other parts).  Um… yeah…

Ballard, Wayne Jr. H. “Is Lilith Fair? an Observation From Isaiah 34:14.” Reviewer and Expositors 95 (1998): 583-587.

Brueggemann, Walter. Westminster Bible Companion: Isaiah 1-39. Louisville, Kentucky:

Westminster John Knox P, 1998. 272.

Cohen, A, ed. The Soncino Books of the Bible Hebrew Text & English Translation Isaiah.

New York: Sonchino P Limited, 1983. 162.

Gaines, Janet H. “Lilith.” Bible Review 10 (2001): 12+.

Jennings, F C. Studies in Isaiah. 4th ed. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, Inc,

1966. 410-411.

Oswalt, John N. The New International Commentary on the Old Testament the Book of

Isaiah Chapters 1-39. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Company, 1986. 616.

Word Biblical Commentary Isaiah 34-66

Anchor Bible Study Isaiah 1-39

Demonizing the Queen of Sheba Jacob Lassner 0226-469158

Everyman’s Talmud Abraham Cohen 0805210326

Bible NJPS


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