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Who is this Lucifer Character?
Most of the church believes that Satan, aka Lucifer, was a perfect angelic being that was cast out of Heaven because he wanted to take God's place. He is alleged to have been beautiful, a bringer of light, arrayed in precious stones and the chief music player around God's throne responsible for leading the worship. However, what may come as a startling surprise is that Judaism knows nothing of these ideas as none of them can be found in the Old Testament.
Lucifer is not Satan
Throughout the church and also the popular media of the Western World the name Lucifer is synonymous with Satan and describes his former glory from which he fell. Because tradition has for so long said that Lucifer is Satan, the church does not question the word or concept any further.
The word 'Lucifer' is a Latin rendering of the Hebrew 'Helal' or 'Day Star'. Jerome first used the word in his Latin Vulgate Bible prepared sometime toward the latter half of the 4th century, however it wasn't Jerome who created the myth.
Origen (185-254 A.D.) was the first to make the new connection between Satan and Lucifer. He brought together diverse Old Testament references from Job, Ezekiel and Isaiah and argued that Lucifer, the Prince of Tyre, and the Leviathan of Job, were all identical with the Devil. He used these texts to emphasize Satan's pride and his fall from heaven.
Later Tertullian (155-After 220 A.D.) taught that before Satan's fall he was not only an angel but the foremost angel. It is mainly to these three theologians, Origen, Tertullian, and Jerome that we derive the Lucifer myth.
An interesting side note is that Origen and later Augustine believed that the Devil's envy arose from pride; the Devil envied God. Tertullian on the other hand believed that the Devil was jealous of humans, believing that the Devil was furious that God had created humans in the divine image and had given them governance over the world. Needless to say Tertullian view lost out to that of Origen.
However seeing as these three theologians came up with their ideas of Satan's origins long after God finished speaking to Israel, this should start alarm bells ringing in our heads that cause us to question whether these ideas are of God or men.
Lucifer is only found once in the bible in Isaiah 14, noting that not all modern translations include this word. It is the description of the fate of Lucifer that has supported the fallen angel idea for so long. What follows is a verse by verse examination of Isaiah 14 in the New King James version to expose the Lucifer myth for what it is.
1. For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel, and settle them in their own land. The strangers will be joined with them, and they will cling to the house of Jacob. 2 Then people will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them for servants and maids in the land of the LORD; they will take them captive whose captives they were, and rule over their oppressors. 3 It shall come to pass in the day the LORD gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your fear and the hard bondage in which you were made to serve,
Verses 1-3 are a preamble where God is talking about His promise to release Israel from Babylon and bring them back to their homeland. He then tells them they will taunt the King of Babylon. It is a section of this taunt that the church claims is actually talking about Satan aka Lucifer.
4 that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: “ How the oppressor has ceased, The golden city ceased!
Note the king is a man here.
5 The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, The sceptre of the rulers; 6 He who struck the people in wrath with a continual stroke, He who ruled the nations in anger, Is persecuted and no one hinders.
Still talking about an Earthly king here that ruled over a large empire.
7 The whole earth is at rest and quiet; They break forth into singing. 8 Indeed the cypress trees rejoice over you, And the cedars of Lebanon, Saying, ‘Since you were cut down, No woodsman has come up against us.’
The whole Earth being the known world that came under the king's rule. The forests are at rest, not being harvested for their wood to supply Babylon.
9 “ Hell from beneath is excited about you, To meet you at your coming; It stirs up the dead for you, All the chief ones of the earth; It has raised up from their thrones All the kings of the nations. 10 They all shall speak and say to you: ‘ Have you also become as weak as we? Have you become like us?
The word 'Hell' should not be here, the Hebrew has 'Sheol' the place of the dead which has a completely different meaning to the pagan derived Christian concept of Hell. This is also speaking metaphorically of the other dead kings greeting him as in Sheol there is no speaking, thought or consciousness, Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, 10.
11 Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, And the sound of your stringed instruments; The maggot is spread under you, And worms cover you.’
Still talking about an Earthly king as maggots and worms can only eat a physical human body and not spiritual beings. The reference to stringed instruments might be where the church gets the idea that Satan was a musical angel but music is part and parcel with the pomp of kings.
12 “ How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!
The Latin term Lucifer means light bearer and is discussed later in this study. However, where does Isaiah say he has switched the focus from a man to Satan between v11 and 12?
13 For you have said in your heart: ‘ I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’
These verses are still talking about the vanity of a man. Nimrod also aspired to ascend to Heaven by building a tower in Babel, yet no one invented a spirit being call 'Nimrod' there. Jesus proclaimed that though Capernaum be exalted to Heaven (in their own minds) they will be brought down to Sheol in almost exactly the same proclamation upon them as the King of Babylon here, yet no one suggests that the people of Capernaum were spirit beings either. The bible and ancient history is full of examples of men who claim they are gods, and the King of Babylon here is no exception.
15 Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. 16 “ Those who see you will gaze at you, And consider you, saying: ‘ Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17 Who made the world as a wilderness And destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’
Here we are explicitly talking about a man. When did Isaiah switch the focus back from Satan to a man between v14 and 15?
18 “ All the kings of the nations, All of them, sleep in glory, Everyone in his own house; 19 But you are cast out of your grave Like an abominable branch, Like the garment of those who are slain, Thrust through with a sword, Who go down to the stones of the pit, Like a corpse trodden underfoot. 20 You will not be joined with them in burial, Because you have destroyed your land And slain your people. The brood of evildoers shall never be named.
The king will not be buried in honour as other noble kings, but will receive a burial in disgrace.
21 Prepare slaughter for his children Because of the iniquity of their fathers, Lest they rise up and possess the land, And fill the face of the world with cities.” 22 “ For I will rise up against them,” says the LORD of hosts, “ And cut off from Babylon the name and remnant, And offspring and posterity,” says the LORD. 23 “ I will also make it a possession for the porcupine, And marshes of muddy water; I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” says the LORD of hosts.
So the final destruction of Babylon is foretold.
Where the Vulgate uses 'Lucifer' the Hebrew uses 'Day Star'. The Ancient Greeks called the morning star 'Phosphoros', the "Bringer of Light" 'Eosphoros', the "Bringer of Dawn". The evening star they called 'Hesperos', the "star of the evening". By Hellenistic times, the ancient Greeks realized the two were the same planet, 'Venus' which they named after their goddess of love, Aphrodite. Hesperos would be translated into Latin as Vesper and Phosphoros as Lucifer.
The Babylonians named the planet Ishtar, the personification of womanhood, and goddess of love. In Iranian mythology, especially in Persian mythology, the planet usually corresponds to the goddess Anahita of fertility which is again is associated with the planet Venus.
So if 'Lucifer' or 'Morning Star' is associated with a goddess of love and fertility, how did this become associated with Satan or a king? Satan certainly is not a personification of love, the king of Babylon was a tyrant, and neither of them are female. Clearly then the calling the King of Babylon after Venus is incorrect and there must be some other explanation.
The King Identified
In Isaiah 13 we have the following verses:
17 “ Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, Who will not regard silver; And as for gold, they will not delight in it. 18 Also their bows will dash the young men to pieces, And they will have no pity on the fruit of the womb; Their eye will not spare children. 19 And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, The beauty of the Chaldeans’ pride, Will be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah. 20 It will never be inhabited,
Immediately preceding the account in Isaiah 14 of the demise of the king we have God saying that he is going to bring the Medes to destroy Babylon.
In Daniel 5 the Babylonian king Belshazzar was having a party and using the gold and silver vessels from Israel's temple to drink from whilst he praisd his gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone. Suddenly a hand appeared and started writing on the wall. The king was terrified and called in his wise men for an explanation. When they came up with nothing, the queen spoke up and suggested calling in Daniel to have a look. Daniel told him:
This is the interpretation of each word. MENE: God has numbered your kingdom, and finished it; 27 TEKEK: You have been weighed in the balances, and found wanting; 28 PERES: Your kingdom has been divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.”29 Then Belshazzar gave the command, and they clothed Daniel with purple and put a chain of gold around his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom. 30 That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain. 31 And Darius the Mede received the kingdom, being about sixty-two years old.
Belshazzar was the son of Nabonidus, who after ruling only three years, went to the oasis of Tayma and devoted himself to the worship of the moon god, Sin. He made Belshazzar co-regent in 553 B.C., leaving him in charge of Babylon's defence. In the year 540 B.C. Nabonidus returned from Tayma, hoping to defend his kingdom from the Persians who were planning to advance on Babylon. In 538 B.C. Belshazzar was positioned in the city of Babylon to hold the capital, while Nabonidus, marched his troops north to meet Cyrus. On October 10, 539 B.C. Nabonidus surrendered and fled from Cyrus. Two days later, October 12, 539 B.C., the Persian armies overthrew the city of Babylon.
It was common for kings to prefix their names with those of their gods, so Belshazzar was known as Bel-Shazzar, or Bel Protect the King. Bel signifying "lord" or "master", is a title rather than a genuine name, applied to various gods in Babylonian religion. Bel became especially used of the Babylonian god Marduk and when found in Assyrian and neo-Babylonian personal names or mentioned in inscriptions in a Mesopotamian context, it can usually be taken as referring to Marduk and no other god.
Marduk literally, "bull calf of the sun" was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon. Marduk's original character is obscure but he was later on connected with water, vegetation, judgement, and magic. When Babylon became the capital of Mesopotamia, the patron deity of Babylon was elevated to the level of supreme god. Marduk, originally Ea's son is acknowledged as the creator of the universe and of humankind, the god of light and life, and the ruler of destinies. He rose to such eminence that he claimed 50 titles, but eventually, he was called simply Bel, meaning "Lord." To the Babylonians.
So the name Belshazzar and the god Bel or Marduk have nothing to do with the morning star or the dawn. Thre must be another explantion for why Isaiah gave him this title.
The New Testament
Now if 'Morning Star' really was a reference to Satan, then we have some trouble reconciling this idea with the New Testament which uses 'Morning Star' as a reference to Jesus:
2 Peter 1:19 And we have more firm the prophetic word, to which we do well giving heed, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, till day may dawn, and a morning star may arise -- in your hearts;
Revelation 2:27-28 He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.
Revelation 22:16 I, Jesus did send my messenger to testify to you these things concerning the assemblies; I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star!
There is no link between the New Testament's use
of 'Morning Star' with that of the 'old Testament'. We still have to look elsewhere.
A Canaanite Myth
Just as the Latin poets personified as gods the Morning Star and the Dawn (Aurora), as well as the Sun and the Moon and other heavenly bodies, so in Canaanite mythology 'Morning Star' and 'Dawn' were pictured as two deities with the former being the son of the latter. Shahar is the goddess of dawn in the pantheon of Canaanite Ugarit. She is the twin sister and counterpart of Shalim, the god of dusk.
In the Canaanite Myth the Morning Star, the son of Shahar, tried to rise high above the clouds and establish himself on the mountain where the gods assembled, in the far north, but was cast down into the underworld.
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia:
Septuagint translation of "Helel [read "Helal"] ben Shaḥar" (= "the brilliant one," "son of the morning"), name of the day, or morning, star, to whose mythical fate that of the King of Babylon is compared in the prophetic vision (Isa. xiv. 12-14). It is obvious that the prophet in attributing to the Babylonian king boastful pride, followed by a fall, borrowed the idea from a popular legend connected with the morning star; and Gunkel ("Schöpfung und Chaos," pp. 132-134) is undoubtedly correct when he holds that it represents a Babylonian or Hebrew star-myth similar to the Greek legend of Phaethon. The brilliancy of the morning star, which eclipses all other stars, but is not seen during the night, may easily have given rise to a myth such as was told of Ethana and Zu: he was led by his pride to strive for the highest seat among the star-gods on the northern mountain of the gods (comp. Ezek. 28. 14; Ps. xlviii. 3 [A.V. 2]), but was hurled down by the supreme ruler of the Babylonian Olympus. Stars were regarded throughout antiquity as living celestial beings (Job xxxviii. 7).
There are some who insist that the king of Babylon was not human at all, but was a fallen cherub called Lucifer. However there is no evidence for this idea which would be a gross distortion of history and falls foul of other ancient occultic ideas that kings are born of the gods. Besides which, the whole of the passage in Isaiah above makes it clear that we are talking of a man.
In calling Belshazzar 'Morning star', Isaiah was drawing a parable with an existing Canaanite myth. The self exalted star parallels the self exalted Belshazzar. The sudden and unexpected falling from Heaven parallels the unexpected and sudden falling of the Belshazzar from his throne. The star being cast into the underworld parallels the final resting place of Belshazzar in Sheol. Sheol is the silent grave which contrary to pagan mythology has no demonic spirit in charge using it as its personal fiefdom.
However, neither should we lend any credence to this myth as being some true account of any fallen angelic being, as no such story or anything similar too it can be found anywhere in the Old Testament. Remember we need two or three witnesses to establish a doctrine. It is not a true account from the word of God, but a vain imagination of men, that Isaiah used to illustrate the demise of Belshazar.
There simply is no Satan here in Isaiah 14 and nothing that supports the idea of Satan being a fallen angel.