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Don Stewart :: Why Is Satan Sometimes Called Lucifer?

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Don Stewart
In some versions of the Bible, the personage described in Isaiah 14:12 is called Lucifer. For example, the King James Version reads:

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!

The name Lucifer appears nowhere else in the King James Version.

Other Versions Different

Other versions however do not use the name Lucifer to describe this personage in Isaiah 14:12. The American Standard Version of 1901 reads.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that did lay low the nations!

Most other modern versions translate this passage in a similar way as the American Standard Version.

Why The Difference?

To understand the difference we must go back to the original language in Isaiah 14:12, Hebrew. The Hebrew word translated "day star" or "Lucifer" is Helel. This word has been rendered in a number of ways, because there was some question as to its exact meaning, and how it should be understood.

Helel has been understood to be the command form of the verb, "to howl." Therefore the translation of Isaiah 14:12 would read, "Howl, son of the morning."

To Shine

Others have connected this word with the verb, "to shine." From this idea came "day star," "bright one," or "bearer of light."

Context In Isaiah

In the context of Isaiah, Helel is possibly used as proper name for the king of Babylon. Therefore his name would be translated as "day star," or "bright one."

Hebrew To Latin

When this Hebrew term was translated into Latin, the word lucifero was used. Lucifero basically means "to shine." Therefore, if this term is understood to be a proper name of the king of Babylon, that name, in Latin, would be Lucifer.

King James Translators

The King James translators were very familiar with Latin. In fact, the notes they kept during their translation deliberations were made in Latin. When they began their translation process, the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible had been around a thousand years. Lucifero, the Latin translation of the Hebrew Helel, had already become a proper name for the Devil. Instead of translating the term as "day star" or "bright one," they kept the popular Latin term "Lucifer." This is how the term ended up in some English translations.

Bright And Morning Star

Though the term "day star" has been attributed to the Devil, the genuine bright morning star is Jesus.

It is I, Jesus, who sent My angel to you with this testimony for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star (Revelation 22:16).

Summary

The reason Lucifer has been understood to be a proper name of the Devil has to do with the Latin translation of the Hebrew term Helel. This word was understood, by some, to be a proper name for the king of Babylon. It means "light bearer," or Lucifero in Latin. The Latin title became a popular name for this evil figure. When the King James translators rendered the Hebrew term into English, they kept the popular term "Lucifer" for the Devil.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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