Satyrs in the Bible

DionysusSatyr2Unlike the bad translation that gave us Unicorns in the Bible, the satyrs are actually there in the Hebrew. The Hebrew word sa’ir can mean goat or in these passages it means those mythological half man half goat creatures from the ancient religions that surrounded Israel.

So it is understandable that they like the rest of pagan mythology are condemned by the Bible.

So they shall no more slay their sacrifices for satyrs, after whom they play the harlot. This shall be a statute for ever to them throughout their generations. Lev. 17:7

. . . and he appointed his own priests for the high places, and for the satyrs, and for the calves which he had made. 2Chr. 11:15

Then we come upon what at first glance seems a very strange Isaiah passages. In an oracle concerning Babylon’s demise. Isaiah seems to be treating these mythological creatures as if they were real. This is a cultural misunderstanding.

But wild beasts will lie down there, and its houses will be full of howling creatures; there ostriches will dwell, and there satyrs will dance. Is. 13:21

The satyrs that dance is a reference to the constellation we call the little dipper. The ancients called this constellation the goats and goat-herder or Pan and the satyrs, because to them these stars danced around the Northstar every night. Isaiah is chiding Babylon’s pride by saying in a very poetic manner is that when great Babylon is gone the stars will still turn in their place.

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