Satyr

SATYR (sāt'êr). A word used (Isa.13.21; Isa.34.14; jb, kjv, rsv; goat niv; he-goat neb; shaggy goat mlb) to translate the the two OT uses of the Hebrew word sā‘ir, in one passage (Isa.13.21) describing the wild animals or demons that would dance among the ruins of Babylon.


SATYR sā’ têr (שָׂעִיר, H8539; LXX μάταια; meaning uncertain; hairy, wild goats, demons, foolish things have been suggested).

There is considerable obscurity with respect to this term. It may refer to wild beasts that overran the desolate areas or to demonic creatures that gambol there (Isa 13:21; 34:14). In Gr. and Rom. mythology, Satyr was a sylvan god, half man and half beast. It seems most likely that it is a reference to one of the demonically inspired pagan gods of Canaan, in the image of a goat, having a brutal and lustful nature, which was an object of worship for Israel and became a snare to them (Lev 17:7; Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

sat’-er, sa’-ter (sa`ir, literally "he-goat"; sa`ir, "hairy" (Ge 27:11, of Esau), and Arabic sha’r, "hair"; plural se`irim): For se`irim in Le 17:7 and 2Ch 11:15, the King James Version has "devils," the Revised Version (British and American) "he-goats," the English Revised Version margin "satyrs," the Septuagint has tois mataiois, "vain things." For se`irim in Isa 13:21, the King James Version and the English Revised Version have "satyrs," the English Revised Version margin "he-goats," the American Standard Revised Version "wild goats," Septuagint daimonia, "demons." For sa`ir in Isa 34:14, the King James Version and the English Revised Version have "satyr," the English Revised Version margin "he-goat," the American Standard Revised Version "wild goat." Septuagint has heteros pros ton heteron, "one to another," referring to daimonia, which here stands for ciyim, "wild beasts of the desert."

The text of the American Standard Revised Version in these passages is as follows: Le 17:7, "And they shall no more sacrifice their sacrifices unto the he-goats, after which they play the harlot"; 2Ch 11:15, "And he (Jeroboam) appointed him priests for the high places, and for the he-goats, and for the calves which he had made"; Isa 13:21 f (of Babylon), "But wild beasts of the desert (tsiyim) shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures (’ochim); and ostriches (benoth ya`anah) shall dwell there, and wild goats (se`irim) shall dance there And wolves (’iyim) shall cry in their castles, and jackals (tannim) in the pleasant palaces"; Isa 34:11,13,14,15 (of Edom), "But the pelican (qa’ath) and the porcupine (kippodh) shall possess it; and the owl (yanshoph) and the raven (`orebh) shall dwell therein: .... and it shall be a habitation of jackals (tannim), a court for ostriches (benoth ya`anah). And the wild beasts of the desert (tsiyim) shall meet with the wolves (’iyim), and the wild goat (sa`ir) shall cry to his fellow; yea, the night monster (lilith) shall settle there ..... There shall the dart-snake (qippoz) make her nest .... there shall the kites (dayyoth) be gathered, every one with her mate."

The question is whether sa`ir and se`irim in these passages stand for real or for fabulous animals. In Le 17:7 and 2Ch 11:15, it is clear that they are objects of worship, but that still leaves open the question of their nature, though it may to many minds make "devils" or "demons" or "satyrs" seem preferable to "he-goats." In Isa 13:20 we read, "neither shall the Arabian pitch tent there; neither shall shepherds make their flocks to lie down there." This may very likely have influenced the American Committee of Revisers to use "wild goat" in Isa 13:21 and 34:14 instead of the "he-goat" of the other passages. In the American Standard Revised Version, no fabulous creatures (except perhaps "night-monster") are mentioned here, but the Septuagint employs daimonia, "demons" in Isa 13:21 for se`irim and in 34:14 for tsiyim; onokentauroi, from "centaur," in Isa 13:22 and 34:14 for ’iyim, and again in 34:14 for lilith; seirenes, "sirens," in Isa 13:21 for benoth ya`anah, and in 34:13 for tannim. We must bear in mind the uncertainty regarding the identity of tsiyim, ’iyim, ’ochim and tannim, as well as of some of the other names, and we must recall the tales that are hung about the name lilith (the King James Version "screech owl," the King James Version margin and the Revised Version (British and American) "night-monster," the Revised Version margin "Lilith"). While sa`ir is almost alone among these words in having ordinarily a well-understood meaning, i.e. "he-goat," there is good reason for considering that here it is used in an exceptional sense. The translation "satyr" has certainly much to be said for it.

See Goat; Jackal.