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Lucifer (// or //) is the King James Version rendering of the Hebrew word הֵילֵל in Isaiah . This word, transliterated hêlêl or heylel, occurs only once in the Hebrew Bible and according to the KJV-influenced Strong's Concordance means "shining one, morning star, Lucifer". The word Lucifer is taken from the Latin Vulgate, which translates הֵילֵל as lucifer,[Isa 14:12] meaning "the morning star, the planet Venus", or, as an adjective, "light-bringing". The Septuagint renders הֵילֵל in Greek as ἑωσφόρος (heōsphoros), a name, literally "bringer of dawn", for the morning star.
Later Christian tradition came to use the Latin word for "morning star", lucifer, as a proper name ("Lucifer") for Satan as he was before his fall. As a result, "'Lucifer' has become a by-word for Satan in the Church and in popular literature", as in Dante Alighieri's Inferno and John Milton's Paradise Lost. However, the Latin word never came to be used almost exclusively, as in English, in this way, and was applied to others also, including Christ.
Translation of הֵילֵל as "Lucifer", as in the King James Version, has been abandoned in modern English translations of Isaiah 14:12. Present-day translations have "morning star" (New International Version, New Century Version, New American Standard Bible, Good News Translation, Holman Christian Standard Bible, Contemporary English Version, Common English Bible, Complete Jewish Bible), "daystar" (New Jerusalem Bible, English Standard Version, The Message, "Day Star" New Revised Standard Version), "shining one" (New Life Version, New World Translation, JPS Tanakh) or "shining star" (New Living Translation).
The term appears in the context of an oracle against a dead king of Babylon, who is addressed as הילל בן שחר (hêlêl ben šāḥar), rendered by the King James Version as "O Lucifer, son of the morning!" and by others as "morning star, son of the dawn".
In a modern translation from the original Hebrew, the passage in which the phrase "Lucifer" or "morning star" occurs begins with the statement: "On the day the Lord gives you relief from your suffering and turmoil and from the harsh labour forced on you, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended!" After describing the death of the king, the taunt continues:
For the unnamed "king of Babylon" a wide range of identifications have been proposed. They include a Babylonian ruler of the prophet Isaiah's own time the later Nebuchadnezzar II, under whom the Babylonian captivity of the Jews began, or Nabonidus, and the Assyrian kings Tiglath-Pileser, Sargon II and Sennacherib. Herbert Wolf held that the "king of Babylon" was not a specific ruler but a generic representation of the whole line of rulers.
In ancient Canaanite mythology, the morning star is pictured as a god, Attar, who attempted to occupy the throne of Ba'al and, finding he was unable to do so, descended and ruled the underworld. The original myth may have been about a lesser god Helel trying to dethrone the Canaanite high god El who lived on a mountain to the north. Hermann Gunkel's reconstruction of the myth told of a mighty warrior called Hêlal, whose ambition it was to ascend higher than all the other stellar divinities, but who had to descend to the depths; it thus portrayed as a battle the process by which the bright morning star fails to reach the highest point in the sky before being faded out by the rising sun.
Similarities have been noted with the East Semitic story of Ishtar's or Inanna's descent into the underworld, Ishtar and Inanna being associated with the planet Venus. A connection has been seen also with the Babylonian myth of Etana. The Jewish Encyclopedia comments:
The Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible points out that no evidence has been found of any Canaanite myth of a god being thrown from heaven, as in Isaiah 14:12. It concludes that the closest parallels with Isaiah's description of the king of Babylon as a fallen morning star cast down from heaven are to be found not in any lost Canaanite and other myths but in traditional ideas of the Jewish people themselves, echoed in the Biblical account of the fall of Adam and Eve, cast out of God's presence for wishing to be as God, and the picture in Psalm 82 of the "gods" and "sons of the Most High" destined to die and fall. This Jewish tradition has echoes also in Jewish pseudepigrapha such as 2 Enoch and the Life of Adam and Eve.
2 Enoch 29:3 Here Satanail was hurled from the height together with his angels
However the editor of the standard modern edition (Charlesworth OTP Vol.1) pipelines the verse as a probable later Christian interpolation on the grounds that "Christian explanations of the origin of evil linked Lk 10:18 with Isa 14 and eventually Gen.3 so vs 4 could be a Christian interpolation... Jewish theology concentrated on Gen 6., and this is prominent in the Enoch cycle as in other apocalypses." Further the name used in 2 Enoch, Satanail, is not directly related to the Isaiah 14 text and the surrounding imagery of fire and stones suggests Ezekiel 28.
Other instances of "Lucifer" in the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha are related simply to the "star" Venus, in the Sibylline Oracles battle of the constellations (line 517) "Lucifer fought mounted on the back of Leo", or the entirely rewritten Christian version of the Greek Apocalypse of Ezra 4:32 which has a reference to Lucifer as Antichrist.
As an adjective, the Latin word lucifer meant "light-bringing" and was applied to the moon. As a noun, it meant "morning star", or, in Roman mythology, its divine personification as "the fabled son of Aurora and Cephalus, and father of Ceyx", or (in poetry) "day". The second of the meanings attached to the word when used as a noun corresponds to the image in Greek mythology of Eos, the goddess of dawn, giving birth to the morning star Phosphorus.
Isaiah 14:12 is not the only place where the Vulgate uses the word lucifer. It uses the same word four more times, in contexts where it clearly has no reference to a fallen angel: 2 Peter 1:19 (meaning "morning star"), Job 11:17 ("the light of the morning"), Job 38:32 ("the signs of the zodiac") and Psalms 110:3 ("the dawn"). To speak of the morning star, lucifer is not the only expression that the Vulgate uses: three times it uses stella matutina: Sirach 50:6 (referring to the actual morning star), and Revelation 2:28 (of uncertain reference) and 22:16 (referring to Jesus).
Indications that in Christian tradition the Latin word Lucifer, unlike the English word, did not necessarily call a fallen angel to mind exist also outside the text of the Vulgate. Two bishops bore that name: Saint Lucifer of Cagliari, and Lucifer of Siena.
In Latin, the word is applied to John the Baptist and is used as a title of Christ himself in several early Christian hymns. The morning hymn Lucis largitor splendide of Hilary contains the line: "Tu verus mundi lucifer". Some interpreted the mention of the morning star (lucifer) in Ambrose's hymn Aeterne rerum conditor as referring allegorically to Christ and the mention of the cock, the herald of the day (praeco) in the same hymn as referring to John the Baptist. Likewise, in the medieval hymn Christe qui lux es et dies, some manuscripts have the line "Lucifer lucem proferens".
The Latin word lucifer is also used of Christ in the Easter Proclamation prayer to God regarding the paschal candle: Flammas eius lucifer matutinus inveniat: ille, inquam, lucifer, qui nescit occasum. Christus Filius tuus, qui, regressus ab inferis, humano generi serenus illuxit, et vivit et regnat in saecula saeculorum (May this flame be found still burning by the Morning Star: the one Morning Star who never sets, Christ your Son, who, coming back from death's domain, has shed his peaceful light on humanity, and lives and reigns for ever and ever). In the works of Latin grammarians, Lucifer, like Daniel, was discussed as an example of a personal name.
The Hebrew term הֵילֵל (heylel) in Isaiah 14:12, became a dominant conception of a fallen angel motif in Enochic Judaism, when Jewish pseudepigrapha flourished during the Second Temple period, particularly with the apocalypses. Later Rabbis, in Medieval Judaism, rejected these Enochic literary works from the Biblical canon, making every attempt to root them out. Traditionalist Rabbis often rejected any belief in rebel or fallen angels, having a view that evil is abstract. However, in the 11th century, the Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer, drawing on ancient legends of the fallen angel or angels, brought back to the mainstream of rabbinic thought the personification of evil and the corresponding myth. Jewish exegesis of Isaiah 14:12–15 took a more humanistic approach by identifying the king of Babylon as Nebuchadnezzar II.
Early Christians were influenced by the association of Isaiah 14:12-18 with the Devil, which had developed in the period between the writing of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, also called the Intertestamental Period when the deuterocanonical books were written. Even in the New Testament itself, Sigve K Tonstad argues, the War in Heaven theme of Revelation 12:7-9, in which the dragon "who is called the devil and Satan … was thrown down to the earth", derives from the passage in Isaiah 14. Origen (184/185 – 253/254) interpreted such Old Testament passages as being about manifestations of the Devil; but of course, writing in Greek, not Latin, he did not identify the Devil with the name "Lucifer". Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 225), who wrote in Latin, also understood Isaiah 14:14 ("I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High") as spoken by the Devil, but "Lucifer" is not among the numerous names and phrases he used to describe the Devil. Even at the time of the Latin writer Augustine of Hippo (354 – 430), "Lucifer" had not yet become a common name for the Devil.
Some time later, the metaphor of the morning star that Isaiah 14:12 applied to a king of Babylon gave rise to the general use of the Latin word for "morning star", capitalized, as the original name of the Devil before his fall from grace, linking Isaiah 14:12 with Luke 10:18 ("I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven") and interpreting the passage in Isaiah as an allegory of Satan's fall from heaven.
However, the understanding of the morning star in Isaiah 14:12 as a metaphor referring to a king of Babylon continued also to exist among Christians. Theodoret of Cyrus (c. 393 – c. 457) wrote that Isaiah calls the king "morning star", not as being the star, but as having had the illusion of being it. The same understanding is shown in Christian translations of the passage, which in English generally use "morning star" rather than treating the word as a proper name, "Lucifer". So too in other languages, such as French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. Even the Vulgate text in Latin is printed with lower-case lucifer (morning star), not upper-case Lucifer (proper name).
Calvin said: "The exposition of this passage, which some have given, as if it referred to Satan, has arisen from ignorance: for the context plainly shows these statements must be understood in reference to the king of the Babylonians." Luther also considered it a gross error to refer this verse to the devil.
Treating "Lucifer" as a name for the devil or Satan, they may use that name when speaking of such accounts of the devil or Satan as the following:
- Satan inciting David to number Israel (1 Chronicles )
- Job tested by Satan (Book of Job)
- Satan ready to accuse the high priest Joshua (Zechariah )
- Sin brought into the world through the devil's envy (Wisdom )
- "The prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience" (Ephesians )
- "The god of this world" (2 Corinthians ).
- The devil disputing with Michael about the body of Moses (Jude )
- The dragon of the Book of Revelation "who is called the devil and Satan" (Revelation 12:9;20:2)
They may also use the name Lucifer when speaking of Satan's motive for rebelling and of the nature of his sin, which Origen, Chrysostom, Jerome, Ambrose, and Augustine attributed to the devil's pride, and Irenaeus, Tertullian, Justin Martyr, Cyprian, and again Augustine attributed to the devil's envy of humanity created in the image of God. Jealousy of humans, created in the divine image and given authority over the world is the motive that a modern writer, who denies that there is any such person as Lucifer, says that Tertullian attributed to the Devil, and, while he cited Tertullian and Augustine as giving envy as the motive for the fall, an 18th-century French Capuchin preacher himself described the Rebel Angel as jealous of Adam's exaltation, which he saw as a diminution of his own status.
In Islam the Devil is known as Iblīs (Arabic: إبليس, plural: ابالسة abālisah) or Shayṭān (Arabic: شيطان, plural: شياطين shayāṭīn). He has no name corresponding in meaning to that of the Latin word lucifer to associate him with the Morning Star, but the accounts of him resemble the fallen-angel accounts in Enochic and Christian literature. Iblis is banished from heaven for refusing to prostrate himself before Adam. Thus, he sins after the creation of man. He asks God for a respite until the Last Day rather than being consigned to the Fire of Hell immediately. God grants this request, and Iblis then swears revenge by tempting human beings and turning them away from God. God tells him that any humans who follow him will join him in the Fire of Hell at Judgement, but that Iblis will have no power over all mankind except who wants to follow Iblis. This story is cited multiple times in the Qur'an for different reasons.
Islamic literature presents divergent ideas of the nature of Iblis. In one view Iblis is a prominent angel turned devil through disobedience. Apart from the idea that Iblis is an angel, there is the commonly held view that Iblis is a jinn, as well as the view that Iblis is neither angel or jinn but uniquely created out of fire, the view that the nature is ambiguous, and the view that Iblis is an angel transformed into a jinn for disobedience.
Luciferianism is a belief system that venerates the essential characteristics that are affixed to Lucifer. The tradition, influenced by Gnosticism, usually reveres Lucifer not as the Devil, but as a liberator or guiding spirit or even the true god as opposed to Jehovah.
In Anton LaVey's The Satanic Bible, Lucifer is one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell, particularly that of the East. Lord of the Air, and is called "Bringer of Light, the Morning Star, Intellectualism, Enlightenment."
Author Michael W. Ford has written on Lucifer as a "mask" of the Adversary, a motivator and illuminating force of the mind and subconscious.
Léo Taxil (1854–1907) claimed that Freemasonry is associated with worshipping Lucifer. In what is known as the Taxil hoax, he alleged that leading Freemason Albert Pike had addressed "The 23 Supreme Confederated Councils of the world" (an invention of Taxil), instructing them that Lucifer was God, and was in opposition to the evil god Adonai. Supporters of Freemasonry contend that, when Albert Pike and other Masonic scholars spoke about the "Luciferian path," or the "energies of Lucifer," they were referring to the Morning Star, the light bearer, the search for light; the very antithesis of dark, satanic evil. Taxil promoted a book by Diana Vaughan (actually written by himself, as he later confessed publicly) that purported to reveal a highly secret ruling body called the Palladium, which controlled the organization and had a satanic agenda. As described by Freemasonry Disclosed in 1897:
With frightening cynicism, the miserable person we shall not name here [Taxil] declared before an assembly especially convened for him that for twelve years he had prepared and carried out to the end the most sacrilegious of hoaxes. We have always been careful to publish special articles concerning Palladism and Diana Vaughan. We are now giving in this issue a complete list of these articles, which can now be considered as not having existed.
Taxil's work and Pike's address continue to be quoted by anti-masonic groups.
Lucifer, by William Blake, for Dante's Inferno, canto 34
Cover of 1887 edition of Mario Rapisardi's poem Lucifero
Lucifer before the Lord, by Mihály Zichy (19th century)
Mayor Hall and Lucifer, by an unknown artist (1870)
Gustave Doré's illustration for Milton's Paradise Lost, V, 1006-1015: Satan yielding before Gabriel
Lucifer, is taken from the Latin version, the Vulgate
Heylel (Isa. xiv. 12), the "day star, fallen from heaven," is interesting as an early instance of what, especially in pseudepigraphic literature, became a dominant conception, that of fallen angels.
The notion of Satan as the opponent of God and the chief evil figure in a panoply of demons seems to emerge in the Pseudepigrapha ... Satan's expanded role describes him as ... cast out of heaven as a fallen angel (a misinterpretation of Is 14.12)."
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