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Isaiah 14:12 & Revelation 22:16
Will The Real "morning star" Please Stand Up...

This is by far the longest article on my site. Its length is not because a huge explanation is needed to defend the "modern versions", but because of the sheer amount of information that I think is worth mentioning. The information in this article will show that the typical KJV-only argument against modern versions for their rendering of Isaiah 14:12 is uninformed and unjustified, and that both "Lucifer" and "morning star" are correct, as they mean the same thing. Also, to help reinforce the fact that "morning star" is not a recent conspiracy by "modern versions", none of the information on this page is from modern versions or their translators and editors (with the exception of a few verses quoted from modern versions for comparison purposes).

To help break down the length of this article and keep it manageable and coherent, it is broken down in to the following sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. Origin of the term "Lucifer"
  3. Evidence from the KJV
  4. Evidence from other versions
  5. Evidence from historical scholars
  6. Evidence from Babylonian mythology
  7. Summary

Introduction

Most KJV-only supporters, and many others, think Isaiah 14:12 is referring to the fall of Satan because of the KJV's use of the word "Lucifer":

Isaiah 14:12 (KJV) "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!"

However, here's how the verse appears in some modern translations:

Isaiah 14:12 (NIV) "How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!"

Isaiah 14:12 (NASB) "How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!"

Isaiah 14:12 (Young's Literal Translation) "How hast thou fallen from the heavens, O shining one, son of the dawn! Thou hast been cut down to earth, O weakener of nations."


The fall of Lucifer, from
Paradise Lost by John Milton

Some KJV-only supporters have pointed to Isaiah 14:12 in the other English versions, and accuse them of a great, even heretical, mistranslation error. Some even suggest that these versions are suggesting that Christ and Satan are one in the same, and that Satan himself is responsible for inspiring these translations! This extreme view is because of where, in the KJV, Christ calls himself the "morning star" in Revelation 22:16:

Revelation 22:16 (KJV) "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."

Revelation 22:16 (NIV) "I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star."

So, are the accusations of some KJV-only supporters justified? Have these versions taken Christ's title and given it to Satan in Isaiah 14:12? Let's look at this in a little detail, then you can decide for yourself.

Origin of the term "Lucifer"

So where did the name "Lucifer" come from?

The Hebrew word translated as "Lucifer" in Isaiah 14:12 in the KJV is heylel (hay-lale', Strong's #1966), and literally means "shining one", "morning star", "light bearer", etc. Isaiah 14:12 is the only place in scripture where this Hebrew word appears.

The use of "Lucifer" is ancient, in Latin where it was the term to refer to the planet Venus when it appeared as a star in the morning. Although some early Christian Latin writings refer to "Lucifer", it was the Latin Vulgate that is most responsible for its widespread use. The Vulgate was produced by Jerome (c. 347-420) by translating available Greek and Hebrew manuscripts into Latin. It was started in approximately 382 A.D. and was completed in approximately 405 A.D. It was the scriptures used by the Catholic Church for nearly 1000 years. Here's what the Vulgate says (note the lower case):

Isaiah 14:12 (Latin Vulgate) "quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes"


St. Jerome, by Messina, looking tired after a long, hard day of Vulgating

Jerome understood the meaning of the Hebrew word heylel, and translated it into "lucifer", the Latin word meaning "light bearer" (from the Latin lux "light" and ferre "to bear or bring"). "lucifer", at the time of the Vulgate and even at the time of the KJV translation, meant "morning star" or "day star" in reference to Venus. Jerome (and some others before him) thought the passage was referring to Satan in addition to the king of Babylon, and because of this the use the word "lucifer" made the transition from a term referring to Venus to also refer to Satan. In other words, it was because of some peoples' interpretation of the passage that "Lucifer", the "morning star", began to be thought of as referring to Satan in addition to its existing meaning. Early church fathers believed that "Lucifer" is not a formal name of the devil, but instead denotes only the state from which he has fallen. Thus, depending on context, "lucifer" could refer to various things, such as Venus, Satan, Jesus, an angel, a pagan deity, the morning - basically anything that "bears light". There was a fourth century bishop named "Lucifer". "Lucifer" in Dutch means "match" in English, and even appears as such in some English dictionaries. Jerome didn't use "lucifer" to refer only to Satan, and this can be shown by of how Jerome used "lucifer" elsewhere in the Vulgate. Although "Lucifer" only occurs once in the KJV, it occurs multiple times in the Vulgate: once as shown above, and also in:

Job 11:17 (Latin Vulgate) "et quasi meridianus fulgor consurget tibi ad vesperam et cum te consumptum putaveris orieris ut lucifer"

Job 38:32 (Latin Vulgate) "numquid producis luciferum in tempore suo et vesperum super filios terrae consurgere facis"

Psalms 109(110):3 (Latin Vulgate) "tecum principium in die virtutis tuae in splendoribus sanctorum ex utero ante luciferum genui te"

2 Peter 1:19 (Latin Vulgate) "et habemus firmiorem propheticum sermonem cui bene facitis adtendentes quasi lucernae lucenti in caliginoso loco donec dies inlucescat et lucifer oriatur in cordibus vestris"

What is interesting about those verses where "lucifer" is used is what the term is referring to. The KJV was not translated from the Vulgate, but here are those verses in the KJV for comparison, to illustrate what the Latin word "lucifer" meant in the Vulgate:

Job 11:17 (KJV) "And thine age shall be clearer than the noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the morning."

Job 38:32 (KJV) "Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?"

Psalms 110:3 (KJV) "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth."

2 Peter 1:19 (KJV) "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: "

So, we learn that the name "Lucifer" in the KJV is more of a transliteration (a new word derived from a foreign word). This transliteration is not even from the original Hebrew, but instead from the Latin. If "Lucifer" in the KJV is strictly a proper name for Satan, then that means the Bible has changed meaning. The term "Lucifer" in the KJV has confused many people today, because the historical meaning has largely been forgotten. However, the use of the word "lucifer" is perfectly acceptable if you understand what "lucifer" really means.

Evidence from the KJV

In response to the objection from supporters of KJV-onlyism, there are several points that can be made directly KJV.

Here's how the verse looks in the 1611 edition of the KJV:

Notice in the original 1611 edition of the KJV, there is a marginal note for the words "O Lucifer". The marginal note reads "Or, O daystarre".

Clearly the KJV translators themselves understood the meaning of the Hebrew and provided "daystarre" as additional translational meaning. Similarly, the marginal note in the 1672 edition of the KJV says "for the morning star that goeth before the sun is called Lucifer".

Also of interest (not to this particular discussion, but the KJV-only issue in general) is the fact that this verse is written as two questions (question marks are used) in the original 1611 KJV, but was later changed to two exclamations (exclamation marks are used) in today's commonly used editions of the KJV.

'But "morning star" is Christ's title....'

Many KJV-only supporters object to the use of the NIV's "morning star" and the NASB's "star of the morning" to refer to Satan in Isaiah 14:12, saying that the title is Christ's alone. However, the KJV itself is quite clear that it isn't:

Job 38:7 (KJV) "When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

Ecclesiasticus 50:6 (KJV Apocrypha) "He was as the morning star in the midst of a cloud, and as the moon at the full: "

In Job 38:7, the KJV indicates that this is not just a title for Christ, as it is also given to other angelic beings. Ecclesiasticus 50:6 gives the title to the high priest Simon son of Onias (even though many, including KJV-onlyists don't consider Ecclesiasticus to be scripture, it still shows that the KJV translators had no problem using "morning star" for someone other than Christ). One could return the "argument" and say that if "morning star" is only Christ's title, then the KJV tell us there are many Christs because of these verses! (Of course that is ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than saying the NIV and NASB are equating Christ and Satan). Whether Isaiah 14:12 refers to Satan or not, it is not such a stretch to suggest that "morning star" or a similar term may be applied to Satan, since he too is considered by many to previously be a angel, and can still appear as such. Consider:

2 Corinthians 11:14 (KJV) "And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light."

Therefore, to accuse the NIV and the NASB of giving "Christ's title" to Satan is to accuse the KJV of giving Christ's title to angels and men. Of course, we then see that "morning star" is simply a title that can be given to others as well. If it can be given to angels and men, it could be given to Satan as well - depending on context, of course.

One KJV-only supporter once pointed out to me that "morning star" in Rev 22:16 is distinct from the "morning stars" of Job 38:7, not based on context but because one is singular and one is plural. If such a distinction was valid, then the whole issue can be dismissed because the greater distinctive differences in the NIV: the title "morning star" in Isaiah 14:12 of the NIV is in all lower-case letters, while the title "the bright Morning Star" in Revelation 22:16 is capitalized. Another distinction is that in the Revelation verse, the title is qualified with the definite article "the", as well as the descriptor "bright", both of which are not present in Isaiah 14:12. These differences seem minor, but they are more than enough to distinguish between the KJV's "sons of God" and "Son of God", "lord" and "Lord", "god" and "God", "spirit" and "Spirit", etc.

Of course, Jesus is "the bright Morning Star" (NIV, Rev. 22:16), and the NIV makes a strong distinction between the title as used in Isaiah 14:12. The KJV does not use the upper-case letters in Job 38:7 as the NIV does in Rev. 22:16, the NIV in fact makes a stronger distinction when the title is given to Christ.

Another title of Christ's is "the son of man". "The son of man" refers to men in Job 25:6 and Psalm 146:3, Ezekiel in Ezekiel 2:1 and many other verses, and Jesus Christ in Matt 18:11 and many other verses. Isn't it kind of a double-standard for KJV-only supporters to ignore these while jumping on the NIV's "morning star"?:

Job 25:6 (KJV) "How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?"

Psalms 146:3 (KJV) "Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help."

Ezekiel 2:1 (KJV) "And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee."

Matt 18:11 (KJV) "For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost."

'But the Hebrew words for "morning" and "star" don't appear in Isaiah 14:12....'

One objection often raised by supporters of KJV-onlyism is thsat the Hebrew words "boqer" (morning) and "kowkab" (star) don't appear in Isaiah 14:12, and thus "morning star" is an obvious translational error. These people are unaware, or have forgotten, that words do not always correspond one-to-one between languages, and that different terms can mean the same thing. For example, consider a verse already mentioned in this article, 2 Pet 1:19:

2 Peter 1:19 (KJV) "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: "

In 2 Peter 1:19, the English words "day star" are translated not from the Greek words for day ("hemera") and star ("aster"), but rather from the singular Greek word "phosphorus". And what word appears in Isaiah 14:12 in all Greek translations of the Old Testament? "eosphoros", the alternate spelling1 for "phosphorus". If "morning star" is a translational error because "morning" and "star" don't appear explicitly in the original languages, then the KJV is in error in 2 Peter 1:19 for the same reason.

Evidence from other versions

Early English versions

In approximately A.D. 1382, John Wycliffe collaborated with some others and translated the Latin Vulgate into the first Middle English Bible. Wycliffe (who, coincidentally, is called "The Morning Star of the Reformation") simply borrowed the word "Lucifer" from the Vulgate he was translating from, but like Jerome did not intend it to be taken as a proper name for Satan. This can be demonstrated by how he used "Lucifer" in his translation:

Job 38:32 (Wycliffe) "Whether thou bryngist forth Lucifer, that is, dai sterre, in his tyme, and makist euene sterre to rise on the sones of erthe?" ("Whether thou bringest forth Lucifer, that is, day star, in his time, and makest evening star to rise on the sons of earth?")

Isaiah 14:12 (Wycliffe) "A! Lucifer, that risidist eerli, hou feldist thou doun fro heuene; thou that woundist folkis, feldist doun togidere in to erthe." ("A! Lucifer, that rose early, how fellest thou down from heaven; thou that woundest folks, fellest down together in to earth.")

Remember from above that in Job 38:32, the Vulgate has "luciferum" and the KJV has "Mazzeroth" (stars of a constellation or the zodiac, according to Strong's). Wycliffe, in the first English Bible, explicitly stated the word "Lucifer" means "day star".


John Wycliffe, coincidentally
"The Morning Star of the Reformation"

Each of the following English translations each leveraged some of the work of the English translations that preceded it, and "Lucifer" became the term of choice in Isaiah 14:12 for the next few hundred years. Its meaning as "morning star" remained however, as can be seen from the following additional information:


Isaiah 14:12ff, with marginal note on "Lucifer", from the 1560 Geneva Bible

Other languages

While some KJV-only supporters believe that one must learn English to have "the word of God" (i.e. the KJV), others say "the word of God" is available in other languages, but only in certain versions. The following list examines some of these KJV-only accepted Bibles, and what they say on the subject:

Other Bibles accepted by KJV-only supporters, such as the French Olivetan Bible, the Polish Visoly Bible, the Icelandic Gottshcalkson Bible, the Dutch DeGrave Bible, the Hungarian Erdosi Bible, etc. may read similarly, but I am unable to verify them at this time.

The LXX

The Septuagint (LXX) is the ancient translation of the Old Testament, from Hebrew into Greek. Although strongly disliked by KJV-only supporters, it does demonstrate the ancient "morning star" meaning in Isaiah 14:12. According to tradition, the LXX was started in about 200 B.C. by Jewish elders because of the increase of use of the Greek language among the Jews. When Isaiah was translated into Greek and added to the Septuagint is not exactly known, but it was most likely near the time of Christ, +/- 100 years. Where the KJV has "Lucifer" in Isa 14:12, the LXX has "heôsphoros". "heôsphoros" is an alternate rendering of "phosphoros", and is the Greek name for Venus when it appears as a star in the morning. Its counterpart, "hesperos", or the evening star, was thought by the ancients to be a different star, but the well-known philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras who determined they were in fact the same object. As noted above, "phosphoros" appears also in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 1:19 (translated "day star" in the KJV).

Evidence from historical scholars

Pre-Christian philosophers

There are many instances in ancient pre-Christian writings that prove that "heôsphoros", the word in Greek Old Testaments in Isaiah 14:12, is the Greek word for the morning star, Venus. Here are just a few:

  • Homer, Iliad book 23, line 227 - book 23, line 229 (c. 800 B.C.): "êmos d' heôsphoros eisi phoôs ereôn epi gaian, hon te meta krokopeplos hupeir hala kidnatai êôs, têmos purkaïê emaraineto, pausato de phlox." ("But at the hour when the star of morning goeth forth to herald light over the face of the earth--the star after which followeth saffron-robed Dawn and spreadeth over the sea--even then grew the burning faint, and the flame thereof died down.")
  • Hesiod, Theogony line 381 - line 382 (c. 700 B.C.): "tous de met' astera tikten Heôsphoron Êrigeneia astra te lampetoônta, ta t' ouranos estephanôtai." ("And after these Erigeneia bare the star Eosphorus (Dawn-bringer), and the gleaming stars with which heaven is crowned.")
  • Plato, Laws section 821c (c. 350 B.C.): "en gar dê tôi biôi pollakis heôraka kai autos ton te Heôsphoron kai ton Hesperon kai allous tinas oudepote iontas eis ton auton dromon alla pantêi planômenous, ton de hêlion pou kai selênên drôntas tauth' ha aei pantes sunepistametha." ("for I, during my life, have often noticed how Phosphorus and Hesperus and other stars never travel on the same course, but wander all ways; but as to the Sun and Moon, we all know that they are constantly doing this.") (Phosphorus is the Greek name for the planet Venus when it appears as a star in the morning, and Hesperus is the Greek name for the planet Venus when it appears as a star in the evening.)
  • Plato, Hippias Major, Hippias Minor, Ion, Menexenus, Cleitophon, Timaeus, Critias, Minos, Epinomis div1 Tim., section 38d (c. 350 B.C.): "sômata de autôn hekastôn poiêsas ho theos ethêken eis tas periphoras has hê thaterou periodos êiein, hepta ousas onthaepta, selênên men eis ton peri gên prôton, hêlion de eis ton deuteron huper gês, heôsphoron de kai ton hieron Hermou legomenon eis [ton] tachei men isodromon hêliôi kuklon iontas, tên de enantian eilêchotas autôi dunamin: hothen katalambanousin te kai katalambanontai kata tauta hup' allêlôn hêlios te kai ho tou Hermou kai heôsphoros." ("The Moon He placed in the first circle around the Earth, the Sun in the second above the Earth; and the Morning Star and the Star called Sacred to Hermes He placed in those circles which move in an orbit equal to the Sun in velocity, but endowed with a power contrary thereto; whence it is that the Sun and the Star of Hermes and the Morning Star regularly overtake and are overtaken by one another. As to the rest of the stars, were one to describe in detail the positions in which He set them, and all the reasons therefore,")
  • Philo, circa A.D. 30 in The Cherubim, Part I, section 7 wrote, "But their peculiar and voluntary motion is from west to east, according to which last motion we find that the periods of the seven planets have received their exact measure of time, moving on in an equal course, as the Sun, and Lucifer, and what is called Stilbon. For these three planets are of equal speed; but some of the others are unequal in point of time, but preserve a certain sort of relative proportion to one another and to the other three which have been mentioned."

Homer - no, not Simpson, the other one


Plato, answering the age-old question
"What's up?"

Early church Fathers and other Christian writers, up to A.D. 1000

There are also many examples from the writings of the early church that demonstrate that "Lucifer", while often believed to refer to Satan, also meant the morning star, Venus. Here are just a few:

Christian scholars from A.D. 1000 to present

Just a small sampling:

  • Walter Hilton, a British religious writer and mystic from the late 14th century, wrote the The Scale of Perfection, and in it said the following about John Wycliffe: "That he was a morning-star of the Reformation we have no difficulty in allowing, a fitting Lucifer for such a day."
  • Lancelot Andrewes, the Anglican Bishop who oversaw and participated in the translation of the KJV, said in a sermon3 on December 25, 1622, referring to 2 Peter 1:19, "St Peter's Lucifer in cordibus [daystar in your hearts]"
  • From Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible (A.D. 1712) in the discussion of Isa 14:11-12: "The king of Babylon shone as brightly as the morning star, and fancied that wherever he came he brought day along with him"
  • From The Works of Jonathan Edwards, (circa 1750) Volume II, Miscellaneous Discourses, XI. Miscellaneous Observations, II. Fall of the Angels: "This angel, before his fall, was the chief of all the angels, of greatest natural capacity, strength, and wisdom, and highest in honour and dignity, the brightest of all those stars of heaven, as is signified by what is said of him, under that type of him, the king of Babylon, Isa. xiv. 12. “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” This signifies his outshining all the other stars, as the morning star outshines the rest."
  • From John Wesley's A.D. 1754 commentary on Isaiah 14:12: "Lucifer - Which properly is a bright star, that ushers in the morning; but is here metaphorically taken for the mighty king of Babylon."
  • From Adam Clarke's A.D. 1825 Clark's Commentary, Volume 4, on Isaiah 14:12: "The Versions in general agree in this translation, and render kkyh heilel as signifying Lucifer, fwsfwrov, the morning star, whether Jupiter or Venus; as these are both bringers of the morning light, or morning stars, annually in their turn. And although the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is most incongruously denominated Lucifer, (the bringer of light!) an epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil. That the Holy Spirit by his prophets should call this arch-enemy of God and man the light-bringer, would be strange indeed."
  • In the 1828 Webster's American Dictionary of the English Language, which many KJV-only supporters say is the dictionary to use to determine the meaning of words in the KJV, has as its first definition of the word "Lucifer": "1. The planet Venus, so called from its brightness". The entry on "Daystar" says "The morning star, Lucifer, Venus; the star which precedes the morning light." Under "Phosphor", it says "The morning star or Lucifer; Venus, when it precedes the sun and shines in the morning. In this sense, it is also written Phosphorus."
  • In a sermon delivered on January 10th, 1864, Charles H. Spurgeon said "We can scarcely think that all devils are Satans. There seems to be one chief arch-spirit, one great Diabolus, who is an accuser of the brethren—one mighty Lucifer, who fell down from heaven and has become the prince of the powers of darkness. In all his hosts it is probable that there is not his like. He stands first and chief of those fallen morning stars; the rest of the spirits may stand in different grades of wickedness, a hierarchy of hell."
  • From 1876 in Sermons on Gospel Themes by Charles Finney, chapter XI secton 2: "What would you think of one who might shine like Lucifer among the morning stars of intellect and genius, but who should debase himself to the low and miserable vocation of snuffing round after applause, and fishing for compliments to his talents?"
  • In 1890, James Strong published the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with accompanying Hebrew and Greek dictionaries, still widely used today. The entry for the Hebrew word "heylel" from Isaiah 14:12 appears as follows: "1966. heylel, hay-lale'; from 1984 (In the sense of brightness); the morning-star:--lucifer."
  • In his 1923 book The Antichrist, Arthur W. Pink wrote in chapter 15: " “Lucifer” is a Latin word which signifies the “morning star.” “All the ancient versions and all the Rabbins make the word a noun denoting the bright one, or, more specifically, bright star, or according to the ancients more specifically still, the Morning Star or harbinger of daylight” (Dr. J. A. Alexander). This term “Lucifer” has been commonly regarded as one of the names of Satan, and what is here said of the Morning Star is viewed as describing his apostasy. Against this interpretation we have nothing to say, except to remark that we are satisfied it does not exhaust this remarkable scripture. A detailed exposition must be reserved for a later chapter. Sufficient now to point out that however Isa. 14 may look back to the distant past when, through pride, Satan fell from his original estate, it most evidently looks forward to a coming day and gives another picture of the Antichrist. In this same passage “Lucifer” is termed “the Man that did make the earth to tremble” (v. 16), and in his blasphemous boast “I will be like the Most High” (v. 14), we have no difficulty in identifying him with the Man of Sin of 2 Thess. 2:3, 4. The force of this particular title “Morning Star” is seen by comparing it with Rev. 22:16, where we learn that this is one of the titles of the God-man. The “Morning Star” speaks of Christ coming to usher in the great Day of rest for the earth. In blasphemous travesty of this Satan will send forth the mock messiah to usher in a false millennium."

Lancelot Andrewes, lead translator of the 1611 KJV, looking dapper in his favourite puffy shirt


Charles Spurgeon often used lucifers (friction matches) to light his cigars

Evidence from Babylonian mythology

A really really brief primer in the Babylonian/Canaanite/Ugaritic mythology4

The ancient Babylonians had a large pantheon of gods. One of chief Gods was "El", and his wife was "Asherah". According to the religion, El and Asherah had many children (about 70) who were gods themselves. One of these gods was "Baal", whom Asherah spent most of her time with. Scripture mentions Baal and Asherah several times. The most well-known example is perhaps in 1 Kings 18, where the prophet Elijah challenges 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. (Note the KJV translates the Hebrew "Asherah" as "groves").

Two more of El and Asherah's children were twins: Shahar and Shalim, brothers of Baal. In the Babylonian pantheon, Shahar was deemed god of the dawn, and his twin brother Shalim was god of the dusk. Shahar himself also had a son, Helel. The Babylonians believed that the planet Venus, when it appeared as a star in the morning, literally was Helel, the son of Shahar, and grandson of El. They worshipped Helel the morning star and considered him one of the more important gods. They also worshipped Shamash, the god of the sun.

El, the supreme god in the Canaanite pantheon, had a palace on Mt. Zaphon (or Zephon). Mt. Zaphon is situated about 9 miles north of the Babylonian city of Ugarit, the source for our knowledge of most Babylonian/Ugaritic mythology. El's palace on Mt. Zaphon is roughly equivalent to Mt. Olympus in Greek mythology, as it was the congregating and feasting place of the gods.


Elijah "strongly disagreeing" with the prophets of Baal and Asherah

Ya, so what?

So what is the relevance of all the above information on this pagan mythology? Let's look at the Isaiah passage again, carefully:

Isaiah 14:4,11-17 (KJV) "That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!...[11] Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. [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! [13] For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: [14] I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. [15] Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. [16] They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms; [17] That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?"

The passage, a taunt and prophecy to the king of Babylon about his demise, is practically dripping with mocking references to his Babylonian religion:

  • The passage is to the king of Babylon, who considered himself god-like.
  • He is compared to one of his gods, Heylel, the morning star. Remember, Heylel is the son of Shahar (god of the dawn): Thus, "Heylel ben Shahar" = "morning star (lucifer) son of the dawn".
  • The king said in his heart he will ascend into "heaven", and exalt his throne above the stars of "God". The Hebrew word translated "heaven" is "shamayim", very close to "Shamash" who was the Babylonian god of the sun. The Hebrew word translated "God" is "El", the supreme Babylonian deity. Although these words are the same as the Jewish (and Christian) words for heaven and God, due most likely to commonalities between the Middle Eastern languages at that time, it is extremely improbably that a Babylonian king would hold the Jewish/Christian concepts of God and heaven.
  • The king also said in his heart he will sit also upon "the mount of the congregation" - did the Babylonian El and the other gods have a mountian where they congregated? Yes, Mt. Zaphon. Where does Isaiah say this "mount of the congregation" is located? "in the sides of the north". Where is Mt. Zaphon in relation to Ugarit, the source for our knowledge of Babylonian/Ugaritic mythology? Directly north. And what is the Hebrew word Isaiah uses in this verse, translated "north"? "Zaphon"! (Strong's #6828) In other words, the verse reads "I will sit also upon the mount of assembly (of the gods), in the sides of Zaphon"!
  • The king also said in his heart he will be like "the most High". Again, it is extremely improbable the Babylonian king wanted to be like the Jewish God. The Hebrew word here is "Elyown", and can literally mean "the high El".

Mt. Zaphon, Heylel's grand-pappy's home, as seen by looking north from Ugarit

Unfortunately for the king of Babylon, it didn't turn out for him like he wanted.

Summary

I think I have fairly exhaustively and conclusively proven that the "morning star" reading in Isaiah 14:12 is not only an acceptable translation, but in fact is the real meaning of "Lucifer", having centuries and even millennia of solid support, from a plethora of sources. Although the primary context of the passage is about a king of Babylon, it may also be legitimately referring to Satan as well - but if so, it is important to remember that this is an interpretational issue of the passage, not a translational issue of the single word "heylel". It is my hope that this article will help put to rest the tiresome KJV-only argument regarding Isaiah 14:12.


Footnotes:
1 See "Lucifer" in the Encyclopedia Britannica, which says "Greek Phosphorus, or Eosphoros in classical mythology, the morning star (i.e., the planet Venus at dawn); personified as a male figure bearing a torch, Lucifer had almost no legend, but in poetry he was often herald of the dawn. In Christian times Lucifer came to be regarded as the name of Satan before his fall."
2 Luther’s Works, Vol. 16, p. 140
3 P.E. Hewison (editor), Selected Writings, p. 112. Also Lancelot Andrewes Works, Sermons, Volume One, Sermons of the Nativity, Sermon 1, (Transcribed by Dr. Marianne Dorman, 2001), p. 1
4 A much better introduction to this subject is the Canaanite/Ugaritic Mythology FAQ at
http://home.comcast.net/~chris.s/canaanite-faq.html

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