In his story The Sophisticate and the Simpleton Rabbi Nachman mentions the Devil

(Source from Wikisource)

Meanwhile someone came and said, "The Devil [Yid. Toivl, Heb. Azazel] has sent for you [plural]." The simple man trembled severely and ran and told his wife with great fear that the Devil had sent for him. She gave him an advice, that he should send for the baal shem. He sent for him; the baal shem came and gave him kame`as [amulets containing holy names] and [other] protections and told him that now he need no longer fear at all. He had great faith in this.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan in his book The Lost Princess & Other Tales of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov comments:

Devil 'Teivel' in Yiddish; 'azazel' in Hebrew. The term 'azazel' is found in the Torah, relating to the place where the Yom Kippur scapegoat is sent (Leviticus 16:10). In general, it denotes the forces of evil (Rimzei Maasioth)

My Question:

Where is the earliest mention of the Devil (or azazel connoting the Devil) in Jewish Literature?

  • יצר הרע is mentioned many times in the Midrashim and Talmudim. It has many names and nicknames, and it is not "personified" as in other idolatrous religions.
    – Al Berko
    Dec 9, 2018 at 22:44
  • בבא בתרא טז...?
    – kouty
    Dec 10, 2018 at 6:16
  • don't know whats the down vote for.... but ok. Dec 10, 2018 at 15:29
  • @kouty quote please? Dec 10, 2018 at 20:37

2 Answers 2


Baba Batra 16a:

אמר ר"ל הוא שטן הוא יצר הרע הוא מלאך המות הוא שטן דכתיב (איוב ב) ויצא השטן מאת פני ה' הוא יצר הרע כתיב התם (בראשית ו) רק רע כל היום

Resh Lakish said: Satan, the evil prompter, and the Angel of Death are all one. He is called Satan, as it is written (Job 2), And Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. He is called the evil prompter: [we know this because] it is written in another place (Genesis 6), [Every imagination of the thoughts of his heart] was only evil continually

See further in the Gemara.


The first time the devil appears as a talking character is in the book of Job.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .