7

Most of what Christians know about Lucifer comes from Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Especially in Ezekiel, however, the oracles are clearly addressed to the King of Tyre.

11 The word of the LORD came to me: 12 “Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

“‘You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God; ...

So, how did this become the basis by which Lucifer came to be?

Does Judaism call out a similar Lucifer narrative based on this text?

  • Judaism's conception of the "fallenness" of the nephilim comes from a blending of Genesis 6 and some other literature (1 Enoch, I believe). Great add, J.C. – swasheck Mar 13 '12 at 3:16
8

Within the Tanach/Old Testament there is no association of the angelic “adversary”, the satan¹ in the books of Job and Samuel, to be any sort of fallen or rebellious angel. Aside from the rather obscure verses about the nefilim in Genesis 6, I know of no Biblical verses that Jewish scholars take to refer to fallen or rebellious angels.²

The verses in Isaiah & Ezekiel, therefore, can be applied to some actual person—the king of Babylon in Isaiah, of Tyre in Ezekiel—who set himself up as a great power—“to the heavens” or “as a god”—and was/will be cast down.³

As such, I’m not sure this is answering the question “Why is the King of Tyre conflated with Lucifer?” so much as pointing out that this is a conflation, and not necessarily implicit in the text.⁴


  1. I have written the word in italics to emphasize that I’m using it as a transliteration of the Hebrew שטן, as distinct from “Satan” as a proper name.

  2. As swasheck points out in the comments above, the extra-canonical book of Enoch does describe these fallen angels in more detail.

  3. As usual, it’s not always easy to determine whether a prophecy refers to a contemporaneous event, one being predicted for the near or distant future, or even one in the past (Ezekiel doeas this at least once, IIRC); it’s also ambiguous whether a literal king of Tyre/Babylon is intended or this symbolically refers to someone else.

  4. Well, Isaiah does say “Lucifer”, at least if you translate into Latin; but a translation into English might go, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning!” (JPS 1912).

5

Though it's not going to be popular, I would suggest that these are the preferred readings of the "Lucifer" tradition. Both here, and Isaiah 13-14, the historical and traditional attempts to reconcile prophetic language with a very concrete concept of a location (Tyre and Babylon, respectively) probably resulted in such an understanding.

I'm still on the fence as to whether or not these passages describe the ACTUAL living history of Satan and such a cataclysmic event and fall. I have no doubt about the presence of Satan, but am skeptical as to whether or not this is an actual history of his origins/fall. There is no textual evidence that it is, other than traditional interpretation. The contextual interpretation of leaders and rulers of world powers suits it just fine.

  • +1; I had not realized that those whose beliefs include Satan might also read these verses in an adiabolistic sense. – J. C. Salomon Mar 21 '12 at 18:56
  • It's a literary approach. Read it as the narrative unfolds. – swasheck Mar 21 '12 at 21:21
4

It is a common feature of biblical prophecy to conflate various events, people, places, etc.

  • This is related to the theology of types: some events, people, places, etc, foreshadow and picture others.
  • This gives rise to the "mountain peak" metaphor of prophecy: when looking down a range of mountains, it not easy to clearly distinguish them unless you have other resources for doing so.
  • This is also related to the progressive nature of revelation: prophecy, in a sense, both reveals and conceals.
  • Example: Christ and Solomon in 2 Samuel 7:12-16. Other examples are so numerous it is hard to know where to start.

So as to the specific history of how this came to be interpreted as Lucifer, I do not know, except that the description does seem rather extravagant to be merely addressing the King of Tyre.

(The question about Judaism has already been answered better than I could, so I refrain from commenting on that.)

0

The name Lucifer does not appear in the Hebrew text. It seems that it was added or inserted in the Latin translation as a replacement for "morning star".

Excerpt from A Pilgrim's Path by John J. Robinson:

". In the original Hebrew text, the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah is not about a fallen angel, but about a fallen Babylonian king, who during his lifetime had persecuted the children of Israel. It contains no mention of Satan, either by name or reference. The Hebrew scholar could only speculate that some early Christian scribes, writing in the Latin tongue used by the Church, had decided for themselves that they wanted the story to be about a fallen angel, a creature not even mentioned in the original Hebrew text, and to whom they gave the name "Lucifer."

Why Lucifer? In Roman astronomy, Lucifer was the name given to the morning star (the star we now know by another Roman name, Venus). The morning star appears in the heavens just before dawn, heralding the rising sun. The name derives from the Latin term lucem ferre, bringer, or bearer, of light." In the Hebrew text the expression used to describe the Babylonian king before his death is Helal, son of Shahar, which can best be translated as "Day star, son of the Dawn." The name evokes the golden glitter of a proud king's dress and court (much as his personal splendor earned for King Louis XIV of France the appellation, "The Sun King").

The scholars authorized by ... King James I to translate the Bible into current English did not use the original Hebrew texts, but used versions translated ... largely by St. Jerome in the fourth century. Jerome had mistranslated the Hebraic metaphor, "Day star, son of the Dawn," as "Lucifer," and over the centuries a metamorphosis took place. Lucifer the morning star became a disobedient angel, cast out of heaven to rule eternally in hell. Theologians, writers, and poets interwove the myth with the doctrine of the Fall, and in Christian tradition Lucifer is now the same as Satan, the Devil, and --- ironically --- the Prince of Darkness.

So "Lucifer" is nothing more than an ancient Latin name for the morning star, the bringer of light. That can be confusing for Christians who identify Christ himself as the morning star, a term used as a central theme in many Christian sermons. Jesus refers to himself as the morning star in Revelation 22:16: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." Source: here

Further, "son of the morning" may very well have been an ironic appellation by God by applying the meaning of a pagan god's name to the king of Babylon.

As answered in a previous question here, the Babylonian pagan god Attar was Venus, which is the morning star. And, as many ancient kings claimed divine right of rule by appropriating pagan gods for their sponsor or parent, they often claimed to be the son of whichever pagan god told them they had the right to rule.

So, "son of the morning" most probably was God's way of calling out the king of Babylon in righteous indignation for reaching too high.

  • How isn't this a contradiction: "In Roman astronomy, Lucifer was the name given to the morning star (the star we now know by another Roman name, Venus). The morning star appears in the heavens just before dawn, heralding the rising sun. . . . Jerome had mistranslated the Hebraic metaphor, "Day star, son of the Dawn," as "Lucifer," " – Sola Gratia Feb 14 '18 at 20:08
  • The author seems to indicate that Jerome read into the text a contemporary meaning and chose a Latin word for the Roman pagan deity for Venus in place of the Hebrew word "helel". As I understand it, the problem is that the Hebrew "helel" is only used once throughout the scriptures, and that is in Isa. 14:12. So there is considerable opinion on the root of this word which sides either as meaning "to howl", or another root that can either be positive or negative depending upon context and can mean either O shining one (YLT) or braggart / boaster. – Gina Feb 15 '18 at 12:01
  • Another source explains a little better the choice Jerome made. See bible.org/article/…. The context of Isa. 14:12 is in the form of an address to a man, specifically the king of Babylon. To interrupt the address with a verb meaning "to howl" does not fit the context. Young's, the NLV and the NET are more correct in using "O shining one". The KJV only lifted the Latin from Jerome's Vulgate into the English, which was not a true translation. "Lucifer" should never have been used. – Gina Feb 15 '18 at 12:12
  • Thanks for taking the time to respond! I believe S. Jerome said somewhere (I can't find the reference for the life of me, even though it was one I read for myself) that the word does mean howl. But maybe he saw two equally probable etmologies? – Sola Gratia Feb 15 '18 at 18:06
  • However, you said S. Jer. "chose a Latin word for the Roman pagan deity for Venus" To be clear, lucifer (light + to bear = light bearer: lucis+ferre=lucifer) is a simple Latin noun and even common name which only means 'light-bringer/bearer' its application to a specific star is secondary. Jer. uses this to translate the term Jesus uses for Himself in Revelation (morning star) because that's how you translated 'morning star' into Latin. It was the bringer of the dawn, thus, the 'light bearer.' Even when applied to Satan it refers to his innocent state, not his fallen one. – Sola Gratia Feb 15 '18 at 18:08

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