Isa 14:4 That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!
Isa 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 word, ‘proverb’, is rendered from the Hebrew root word, משׁל, mashal (the actual word used here is המשׁל, hamashal, “this proverb”). משׁל can be rendered parable, by-word, lamentation, allegory, taunt, similitude, etc. It is also rendered ‘let’ and ‘rule’. The context tells the meaning. Therefore, the mashal can be an allegory or a similitude. That is, it uses a substantive object as a metaphor for another object. In this case, the immediate object of the parable is the king of Babylon, who was substantive, for he was a flesh and blood person. It is more likely that Belshazzar is the king in question than Nebuchadnezzar. The former lost the kingdom to the Medes and Persians. This parable refers to that one who lost the kingdom. Nebuchadnezzar did not lose Babylon, the golden city; Belshazzar did.
However, being an allegory or a similitude, the literal refers to the figurative. Figuratively, the parable regards one named Lucifer. This Lucifer is another who lost a kingdom. In orthodox Christianity, we understand Lucifer as Satan, the Devil, Beelzebul, the Dragon, etc. Even so, how do we know that Lucifer is the correct rendering of the Hebrew? Many adherents to modern textual criticism and modern scholarship scorn the idea that this light bearer, the son of the dawn is indeed Satan. They say that Jerome, in his Vulgate, used the word Lucifer, which is a combination of the Latin lucis (light—genitive of lux) and ferre (to bear), meaning light-bearer or shining one.They also say that Isaiah did not have Satan in mind when he wrote this parable. These experts state that Isaiah simply meant the king of Babylon. Many Roman Catholics regard that Lucifer is not the proper name of the devil, but denotes only the state from which he has fallen. Accordingly, he was the light bearer of Heaven before he fell. Literally, Isaiah uses the term Helel Ben Shachar (הילל בן־שׁחר ), light bearer (or shining one), son of the dawn, to refer to the fall of the Babylonian king.
Now I would like to remind you of what Bullinger said about the “shining one”:
These all compel the belief that Satan was the shining one (Nachash) in Genesis 3, and especially because the following words could be addressed to him :- “Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee” (verse 17).
—The Companion Bible, Appendix 19, E.W. Bullinger
Written by Dr. Bullinger in the late Nineteenth Century, this appendix refers to the serpent in Eden. Revelation 20:2 tells us that this serpent was none other than “that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan“. Bullinger calls Satan the “shining one”, albeit from a different Hebrew word, but still with the same meaning. Strong, Briggs, Robinson, and others tell us that the term, הילל, helel, can be translated “shining one”.
The Septuagint translators used the word εωσφορος (heosphoros) to render הילל, helel. Breaking the word apart, we have εωσ, heos, and φορος, phoros. The first word, heos, comes from φως, phos, meaning light. The second word, phoros, comes from φορεω, phoreo, meaning to carry a burden, or to bear. Hence, a εωσφορος, or heosphoros, is a light bearer. If one bears a light, then the light shines, therefore a light bearer could be said to be a shining one. Note that phosphorescent things shine in the dark.
We learn from ancient Greek literature that the word heosphoros, (compare the English word, phosphorus, which is a transliteration of heosphoros; phosphorus glows in the dark) means light bearer, dawn bringer, star of the morning, morning star, daystar, and Venus (AKA the morning star). Wade Cox1, a writer for logon.org, made this statement about the heosphoros: “This terminology goes back also into ancient mythology and represents a function of rulership. With the Babylonians, it was attributed to the Ishtar system in the evening as the Evening Star representing sexual love and the Morning Star represented Ishtar as goddess of war. This was reflected in the triune system as employed by Babylon.” Truly, the ancients worshipped the morning star, Venus, as a goddess. We know that goddess worship originated with Satan. Paul said that worshipping an idol, and Venus is an idol, is worshipping demons. 1 Corinthians 10:19-20, “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.“
Along this same line of reasoning, let us review excerpts from The Westminster Hebrew Morphology2 comments:
All the uses of our verb appear in contexts with mythological connections. This is not to say that biblical writers assumed the validity of pagan myth. Indeed, as Job (Job 41:18 [H 10]) seeks to make clear, God alone exists as deity. The pagan gods are creations of their own minds (Isa 2:8). Leviathan is a toy in God’s hands, i.e., he mocks the pagan religions… our verb appears alludes to shaµar [dawn] (q.v.; cf. J. W. McKay, “Helel and the Dawn-Goddess,” VT 20: 456ff) which is probably to be understood as the name of a goddess. McKay (op. cit.) contends that in the allusion in Isa 14:12-15 there is a Canaanite version of the Greek Phaethon myth as mediated and influenced by Phoenician culture during the “heroic age.” The development of the Canaanite version is complex and has affinities with the Ugaritic myth involving Athar, son of Athirat, who was unable to occupy the throne of Baal. It was Phaethon who attempted to scale the heights of heaven and as the dawn star was ever condemned to be cast down into Hades (she°ôl, q.v.)… it is important to note the following philological oddities: (1) har môe’d (Isa 14:13) and Ugaritic gr.ll (“The Mount of Lala”) where there assembled the p-r. m’d, (“The Assembled Body” ANET, p. 130-UT 16: Text 137:20) and (2) the name saphôn [sides of the north] (Isa 14:13) which is well known in Ugaritic as the mountain of the gods. The God of Israel is not enthroned on Saphon [or Zaphon]; he reigns from heaven itself…Any interpretation of Isa 14 which does not take into account the mythological allusion does injustice to what is said there. (emphasis added)
It is certain that Isaiah fully understood the mythology of star worship when he wrote this passage. The Babylonians worshipped a pantheon that included the starry hosts. Such worship was a direct result of the corrupting influence of the evil one on the world. We also know, as did Isaiah, that these pagan rulers deemed themselves gods and accepted the worship of their subjects. Do you remember the statue that got Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego thrown into the fiery furnace? Nebuchadnezzar wanted them to bow down to his statue, that is, he wanted them to worship him as a god. It is therefore no stretch of the facts, or the imagination, to insist that Isaiah was metaphorically referring to Satan.
Lucifer is a name we call this shining one since the advent of the Latin versions of the Bible. Does that make it wrong to continue to use the word Lucifer? No. In fact it is better that we do not throw away the name Lucifer, for the great deception of the Devil is to make people believe he does not exist. Some modern textual critics and some modernist Biblical scholars would have us believe that Lucifer is a misnomer and a refutation of the facts. Perhaps they have fallen under the deceptive spell of the Devil themselves. Perhaps they too have accepted his lie that he does not exist. Let us retain the name Lucifer, for it continually reminds us of Satan and his power.
Now Lucifer, the morning star, who is Satan, has power over this world. When Christ, the Bright and Morning Star came, He defeated Satan the self-proclaimed morning star. This alludes to a transfer of power from Satan to Christ, which is truly Biblical. Genesis tells us that the serpent will bruise the heel of the Seed of the woman, and that the Seed will crush the head of the serpent (the Seed represents Christ—Gal 3:16). Satan, who had been the prince of the power of the air since the beginning of the world, successfully had Christ crucified, thus bruising His heel. Nevertheless, the victory was Christ’s, for after the crucifixion, Christ arose and crushed the head of the serpent. Satan may no longer posses anyone who is saved. The Devil cannot possess a saved person because the Holy Spirit lives in the saved person. An evil spirit cannot displace the Holy Spirit. Satan no longer has power over God’s children unless those children allow him to have power over them. As long as we keep our eyes on Christ, Satan has no power over us. That means his power has diminished significantly. Thus his head has been crushed. But he is not dead yet. At the end of the age he will be cast into the lake of fire where he will remain forever. Then his demise will be complete.
In the First Century BC, the term helel was used to refer to Satan. In the days that Christ lived, Lucifer, the light bearer, masquerading as an angel of light, and Satan were considered synonymous. It was simple for the early church to assign the devil to helel and to this passage in Isaiah. Isaiah does not highlight the distinction, though he understood it, and that is why some modernist scholars wrongly say that Isaiah did not have Satan in mind.
When one looks at the context, it is easy to see that these things mentioned here do not apply to a mere human. Yes, they can allegorically apply to a king, and the King of Babylon is mentioned, but they can also refer to the celestial shining being who is known as Satan. Since the early church assigned this view to Lucifer, I am willing to accept that Satan is in view in this passage. After all, in the apostolic age, many revelations of truth not known before the advent of Christ came to light. For example, the mystery that is the Gospel was unknown in the Old Testament era. It is no stretch to accept that the revelation given to Isaiah referred to Satan (knowingly or unknowingly) and that God reserved that revelation until the advent of His Son. I am certain that Lucifer, or Helel Ben Shachar, is the devil.
— Dr. Mark S. Oaks
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).
- Lucifer: Light Bearer and Morning Star, Copyright © 1997, Wade Cox, Christian Churches of God PO Box 369, WODEN ACT 2606, AUSTRALIA, Used by permission. http://www.ccg.org/weblibs/summary-papers/p223z.doc
- Groves-Wheeler Westminster Morphology and Lemma Database (WTM). Copyright © 1991-1992, by the Westminster Theological Seminary, and used by arrangement with Westminster Theological Seminary, Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia), Pennsylvania