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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Heb. Heylel', הֵילֵל; Sept. ῾Εωσφόρος ), a word that once occurs in the English Version in the lines,

"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!"

(Isaiah 14:12). It is taken from the Vulgate, which understood the Hebrew word to be the name of the morning star, and therefore rendered it by the Latin name of that star, Lucifer, i.e., "light-bringing." The derivation has been supposed to be from הָלִל, halal', to shine. The same word here translated "Lucifer," however, occurs also in Ezekiel 21:12 [17], as the imperative of יָלִל, yalal', " to howl," "to lament," and is there rendered "howl." Some take it in the same acceptation in the above passage, and would translate. "Howl, son of the morning!" But to this the structure of the verse is entirely opposed, for the parallelism requires the second line to refer entirely to the condition of the star before it had fallen, as the parallel member, the fourth line, does to the state of the tree before it was cut down. Hence the former derivation is to be preferred, namely, "brilliant," "splendid," "illustrious," or, as in the Septuagint, Vulgate, the rabbinical commentators, Luther, and others, "brilliant star;" and if Henylel, in this sense, was the proper name among the Hebrews of the morning star, then "Lucifer" is not only a correct but beautiful interpretation, both as regards the sense and the application. That it was such is probable from the fact that the proper name of the morning star is formed by a word or words expressive of brilliance, in the Arabic and Syriac, as well as in the Greek and Latin (see Gesenius, Commentar, ad loc.). Tertullian and Gregory the Great understood this passage of Isaiah in reference to the fall of Satan; in consequence of which the name Lucifer has since been applied to Satan, and this is how the usual acceptation of the word. But Dr. Henderson, who in his Isaiah renders the line "Illustrious son of the morning!" justly remarks in his annotation: "The application of this passage to Satan, and to the fall of the apostate angels, is one of those gross perversions of Sacred Writ which so extensively obtain, and which are to be traced to a proneness to seek for more in any given passage than it really contains, a disposition to be influenced by sound rather than sense, and an implicit faith in received interpretations." The scope and connection show that none but the king of Babylon is meant. In the figurative language of the Hebrews, a star signifies an illustrious king or prince (Numbers 24:17; compare Revelation 2:28; Revelation 22:16). The monarch here referred to, laving surpassed all other kings in royal splendor, is compared to the harbinger of day, whose brilliancy surpasses that of the surrounding stars. Falling from heaven denotes a sudden political overthrow a removal from the position of high and conspicuous dignity formerly occupied (comp. Revelation 6:13; Revelation 8:10). Delitzsch adopts the same view (Comment. ad loc.). "In another and far higher sense, however, the designation was applicable to him in whom promise and fulfillment entirely corresponded, and it is so applied by Jesus when he styles himself 'The bright and morning Star' (Revelation 22:16). In a certain sense it is the emblem also of all those who are destined to live and reign with him (Revelation 2:28)." (See STAR).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Lucifer'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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