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Mythological and Mysterious Creatures in the KJV
Satyrs

Satyr

A satyr is a creature from Greek mythology, and is half man (top half) and half goat (bottom half) except for the ears and horns which also are from the goat. It is a very lustful creature, and is often portrayed carrying a flute of some sort.

Satyrs make an appearance two times in the KJV. Here's the verses, compared with some popular versions:

VerseKJV1885 RVNIVNASBNKJVNRSV
Isaiah 13:21satyrssatyrswild goatsshaggy goats [fn: Or 'goat demons']wild goatsgoat-demons
Isaiah 34:14satyrsatyrwild goatshairy goat [fn: Or 'demon']wild goatgoat-demons

A Look at the Hebrew and Greek

crop from Satyr And Peasant by Jacob Jordaens, 1620
"Satyr and Peasant" (cropped)
by Jacob Jordaens c. 1620-1621
The Hebrew word in these verses is "sa`iyr" (Strong's #8163, pronounced saw-eer'), and due to the similarity in pronunciation, maybe where the Greek derived "saturos" (pronounced saw-toor'-os), leading to the English "satyr". The Hebrew word occurs 59 times in the Old Testament, and the KJV has translated it thus: "kid" (ie. young goat) 28 times, "goat" 24 times, "devil" 2 times, "satyr" 2 times, "hairy" 2 times, "rough" (goat) 1 time.

The word in the context of the two Isaiah verses above gives the meaning a strong demonic sense. Compare with Lev 17:7 and 2 Chron 11:15 where the Hebrew word is used to indicate idols carved to look like goats, as well as the strong Satan/goat connection in the occult. The two Isaiah verses are dripping with this type of symbolism: "owls" are often mentioned with dragons (Job 30:29, Isa 34:13, Isa 43:20, Micah 1:8 KJV). In fact, right after the "satyr" in Isa 34:14 it mentions the "screech owl" ("night creatures" in NIV, "night monster" in 1611 KJV marginal note), which in the Hebrew is "lilith" (see also NRSV) - a female night demon according to Jewish and pagan tradition (which is another fascinating topic!). Also, the two "satyr" verses are in the context and genre of the apocalyptic, which tends to hint these veres may contain spiritual symbolism instead of simply mentioning animals.
A Satyr pic

The various readings ("satyr", "wild goat", etc) are acceptable in my opinion. But considering the symbolism going on in these verses, I prefer the NRSV's "goat-demons" as it really drives the point home. "Satyr" is perfectly fine, as long as you don't take it literally - it's not as accurate as it could be. I doubt that Isaiah, when originally writing this passage, specifically intended or knew about the satyr from Greek mythology, but perhaps he intended something along the same lines, which the Jews would understand by way of previous goat/evil connections.


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