Monday, April 9, 2018

Lucifer, pleased to meet you

Doubtlessly much to the chagrin of fans, Lucifer is not a personal name and it certainly is not the personal name of the devil.

Pleased to meet you -- hope you know my name!

The word lucifer is a common Latin word and occurs in the Old Testament in Job 11:17 (= the dawn) and Job 38:32 (= some constellation), Psalm 110:3 (= the dawn), Isaiah 14:12 (see below), and once in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 1:19 (= φωσφορος, phosphoros, the Morning Star or Venus, see below).

Of all English, German and Dutch translations of the Bible, only the King James Version and the Darby Translation mention Lucifer and that only in Isaiah 14:12. All other occurrences of the word lucifer are translated as "morning star," "shining one" or "day star" or something to that extent in all European translations over the last four centuries.

Revelation 2:28 and 22:16 also speak of the morning star, but the Latin Vulgate uses stella matutina; literally star of the morning.

The only time that Lucifer could possibly be perceived as a personal name is in Isaiah 14:12, where the Lord makes the observation: "How you have fallen from heaven, lucifer, son of the dawn!". This observation is part of a larger statement addressed to the king of Babylon (14:4), in which Babylon's fall from grace is discussed. Babylon's prior rise to grace isn't mentioned in this chapter, but is part of the general rule that everything belongs to God and whatever grows, grows because the Lord makes it grow (see for instance Isaiah 45:1-7). Hence Babylon could not have risen to prominence without the blessing of YHWH, and its fall is due to Babylon's desire for wealth and power.

A similar sentiment is recorded in the Book of Ezekiel, where the prophet speaks of the king of Tyre, "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, the garden of God" (Ezekiel 28:12-13). The Tyrians and the Phoenicians in general had built a highly successful empire on the basis of respect and free trade, and had achieved such great levels of skills and wisdom that Solomon had asked them to build the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2). Sadly, even the Phoenicians became corrupt and were wiped out by the Romans (read our article on the name Hannibal for more details).

Because the archangel Michael kicked satan out of heaven (Revelation 12:9), and satan was present in Eden (Genesis 3), there is some similarity between satan and the kings of Babylon and Tyre in the words of Isaiah and Ezekiel, but similarity is not the same as equality, and they are really three different entities.

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