Israel's God and Evil Spirits

No, not those evil spirits, silly Fundamentalists! (Source: texastribune.org)

No, not those evil spirits, silly Fundamentalists! (Source: texastribune.org)

(Maybe I should have posted this on Halloween!) As I've been researching passages in the Hebrew Bible related to authority over and control of spirit [ רוח] one of the more fascinating elements of Hebrew pneumatology is how Israel's God, YHWH, controls even evil spirits. This is not analogous to the Gospels where Israel's God defeats them through Jesus Christ. In the Gospels there is no hint that God the Father is sending these spirits to do his bidding. In the Hebrew Bible this is the case though, specifically Judges 9:23; 1 Samuel 16:14-16; 18:10; 19:9; 1 Kings 22:22-24; 2 Chronicles 18:21-23; Isaiah 19:14 and Jeremiah 51:1. Whether it be sending an "evil spirit" to cause war, an evil spirit to torture King Saul, a deceptive spirit to trick King Ahab's prophets, a "spirit of confusion" against Israel's enemy Egypt, or a destructive spirit against Babylon, all these spirits obey Israel's God and do his bidding. I won't say much more about this because I'm still working through the literature on these passages, and whatever I do write will likely go to my dissertation for now, but I would be interested in hearing the thoughts of anyone who is interested in offering them in the comments section. What do you make of these passages where evil spirits do YHWH's dirty work?