It will come as a shock to some that the name “Lucifer” does not occur in the Hebrew Bible; it is in neither the Hebrew text nor the Greek text. It is an unfortunate translation of the KJV (and of John Wycliffe) in Isa 14:12 which most modern versions do not have. What are the facts?
- The Hebrew word in Isa 14:12 is “helel” (הֵילֵל), meaning, “shining one”, from the root word, “halal” meaning, “to shine”. The word was used to describe Venus, the morning (or evening) star (actually a planet!), but which easily outshines Sirius. The complete phrase in the Hebrew is “helel ben-shachar” (הֵילֵ֣ל בֶּן־שָׁ֑חַר) meaning “Venus, son of the morning”, or, “Morning star, son of the morning”.
- The Septuagint (in Greek) translated the word, “heosphoros” which means, “Morning star”. This translation is correct.
- The Latin Vulgate (Jerome 400 AD) translated the word, “lucifer” meaning “light bearer”. This translation is correct – for Latin.
It is apparent that the KJV translators struggled with the Hebrew and transliterated the Latin word instead of translating it. John Wycliffe (who translated from the Latin and knew no Greek or Hebrew) also appears to have been flummoxed as he left the word untranslated. They appear to ignore the fact that the same word appears elsewhere in the Latin Bible describing other things. (2 Peter 1:19, Job 11:17, 38:32, Ps 110:3)
It is only in the later English Christian tradition that “Lucifer” became a proper noun referring to the Devil before his fall, which the Hebrew does not do.