The accusing angel and the serpent





The Accusing Angel and the Serpent: One in the Same?


The Book of Job is a very complex translation in which two images of evil are presented. Steven Mitchell calls them the Accusing Angel (Accuser) and the Serpent. They are both very powerful and portrayed as supernatural beings. His first reference to the Accusing Angel appears early on, however references throughout the story do not exist. Unlike the Accusing Angel, the Serpent is mentioned throughout the book. Disturbing imagery and ideas from the unnamable voice from the whirlwind help to give the reader an accurate perception of the Serpent. Although the context in which they are presented is different, the way that both are talked about, and defined, are very similar and lead the reader to believe that the two may be the same entity.
The Accusing Angel, one of the aforementioned evils, is first mentioned in The Book of Job on “the day when angels [come] to testify before the lord.” The Accusing Angel came with the other angels and God made it a point to mention his faithful servant, Job, to him. In this context, the Accusing Angel is described as a fallen angel, which could define the Accusing Angel as Lucifer or Satan. Mitchell mentions in his translation that the Accusing Angel “came too,” on the day when the other angels had to make an appearance before the Lord. The connotation of the phrase “came too,” in this context, leads one to believe that the Accusing Angel was not invited, or does not regularly attend. If the Accusing Angel was not invited, or does not regularly attend this meeting, he must be a fallen angel, or an angel who has fallen from the graces of God. Then, the Accusing Angel, when asked “Where have you come from?” by the Lord, responds that he was walking around on earth, looking here and there. The mention of earth as the place of wandering points again to the definition of Satan, who was the angel banished to earth.
Even though Satan and Lucifer may seem like synonyms, there is a slight difference in their definitions. Satan is defined as “the adversary of God and lord of evil” while Lucifer is defined as “a fallen rebel archangel, the Devil.” By these definitions it is possible to give either name to the Accusing Angel. The Accusing Angel fits the description of “the adversary of God” because he is sent to torment Job and test his faith. The Accusing Angel could also be depicted as an adversary because of the way he tempts God into allowing him to test Job. The Accusing Angel says that Job must be protected by some kind of divine power and that if he was to fall into hard times, he would “curse [God] to [His] face.” The Accusing Angel also fits the definition of Lucifer because of the idea that the Accusing Angel is a fallen angel. Thus, the definition of Accusing Angel is a combination of Satan and Lucifer.
Mitchell also uses the image of a Serpent to portray evil in his rendering of The Book of Job. The Serpent is not described in great detail until later in the story, but the description given is extensive. The first mention of the Serpent is by Job when he issues his “curse.” Job says, “Let the sorcerers wake the Serpent to blast [the day I was born] with eternal blight.” Job introduces the Serpent as extremely powerful, but does not give the reader any information regarding where it came from or what purpose it serves. However, by mentioning sorcerers in the same sentence, Job creates the idea of mystical power and magical strength. The second mention of the Serpent comes when Bildad the Shuhite says that “[God] shattered the Ocean with his breath and pierced the primeval Serpent.” This comparison, of God to the Serpent, brings the power of the Serpent into context. If God was needed, or is one of the only ones who can pierce the Serpent, it can be assumed that the Serpent is a formidable opponent and being. The use of the word primeval is interesting because it brings a new understanding to the Serpent’s character. “Primeval” is