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Isaiah 14:12

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

The only time in the OT there is one. And how do they get that from halel הֵילֵ֣ל H1966?

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    Commented May 30 at 14:09

3 Answers 3

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אֵיךְ נָפַלְתָּ מִשָּׁמַיִם הֵילֵל בֶּן־שָׁחַר נִגְדַּעְתָּ לָאָרֶץ חוֹלֵשׁ עַל־גּוֹיִם׃

הֵילֵל בֶּן-שָׁחַר, or Hilel Ben-Shahar is an epithet that Isaiah uses against the king of Babylon and invokes the Ugaritic/Canaanite dawn deity Shahar. In the 4th century CE, Christian translators believed this referred to the morning star, Venus, and rendered the name as Lucifer which means "morning star".

However we've discovered texts at Ugarit (now known as Ras Shamra) which identified Shahar as a dawn diety, which is evidence of the mythology which Isaiah 14 is drawing from.

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  • + 1 ... But Shahar was probably a god, not goddess (the word is masculine). He had a twin brother named Shalim, the god of the dusk. There's also the issue of whether the deity was named for the dawn, or the dawn was named for the deity. If the former, Isaiah could be speaking of the actual dawn, in which case the Morning Star makes good sense. Commented May 30 at 15:36
  • @DanFefferman re. the sex of the word, Shahar is definitely masculine but I was relying on "Helel and the Dawn-Goddess: A Re-Examination of the Myth in Isaiah XIV 12-15" for identifying the dawn deity as feminine, happy to adjust the answer though Commented May 30 at 16:46
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Welcome to the Biblical Hermeneutics forum, Jennifer.

Let me add to Avi's interesting answer some additional information for your interest.

Lucifer is actually a Latin word that means "light-bringer." In English, we use a derivative word, lucid, to express what Merriam Webster defines as follows: “Lucid means having full use of one's faculties, clear to the understanding, or suffused with light.”

The Latin word, lucifer, is imported into many Bible translations from the Latin Vulgate translation of the Bible.

The Hebrew word, helel, means “a shining one” and is used as a description of the king of Babylon in Isaiah 12 as Avi already noted, and is projected to describe the devil. This term is used seven times in the Tanakh.

Note that the Devil (slanderer), Satan (accuser, adversary), Lucifer are NOT the actual name for the serpent of old who murdered us. These words are simply descriptions and really shouldn’t be capitalized. His name is forgotten and will remain so, although Jewish folklore names him "Samael," which comes from the name of a fallen angel in the two books titled Enoch, which were written just before and just after the time of Christ.

To check the Greek, we can go to the Septuagint translation from several hundred years before Christ. There, the passage uses the Greek word, Eosphoros (Hesperus in English), which means “until light” or extrapolated to “ushering in the dawn” and was the Greek name for the planet Venus, the morning star.

Hope this helps.

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The name in Isaiah 14:12 is Semitic (Hebrew/Aramaic/Akkadian/Ugaritic) not Greek.

הֵילֵל: Jerome elil, Sept. ὁ ἑωσφόρος (Seeligmann 100), Vulg. lucifer; I הלל; Ug. hll, Arb. hilāl, > Tigr. Wb. 2b hīlal the crescent of the new moon, → WbMyth. 1:447; rd. הֵילָל ?: the morning-star or crescent moon Schrader Keilins. 565; → Gunkel Schöpfung 132ff; Baumgartner Umwelt 157f :: Driver JTS 12:63f; Grelot RHR 149:18ff: Akk. ellu (= ḥll !): Is 14:12. † -- Koehler, L., Baumgartner, W., Richardson, M. E. J., & Stamm, J. J. (1994–2000). In The Hebrew and Aramaic lexicon of the Old Testament (electronic ed., p. 245). E.J. Brill.

The Septuagint (LXX, Greek translation) translates:

ἑωσφόρος, ου, ὁ (fr. ἕω, Attic form of Ionic ἠώ ‘dawn, morning’, and φέρω; Hom., Hes.+; LXX, Philo) morning star 2 Pt 1:19 v.l.—DELG s.v. 1 ἕω. -- Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., Bauer, W., & Gingrich, F. W. (2000). In A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 424). University of Chicago Press.

The Latin Vulgate translates:

lūcifer, fera, ferum, adj. lux+1 FER-, lightbringing: Diana: equi, the horses of Luna, O.—As subst m., the morning-star, the planet Venus, C.: prae diem veniens, V.—The son of Aurora and Cephalus, O.—Day: omnis, O.: tot Luciferi, O. -- Lewis, C. T. (1890). In An Elementary Latin Dictionary. American Book Company.

The KJV changes the Latin word to a proper name Lucifer. Most modern translations use some variation of morning star or day star.

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