Sunday, October 6, 2013
Is Lucifer in the Bible?
Two people can have very different meanings for a word. When that word is found in a Bible, their differences may create very different ideas about what they believe is the “Word of God.”
What does this word mean to you – “Lucifer”?
When we look “Lucifer” up in the dictionary, we find the following definitions:
1. a proud, rebellious archangel, identified with Satan, who fell from heaven.
2. the planet Venus when appearing as the morning star.
Is “Lucifer” a “rebellious archangel, Satan, or a planet?
When it comes to the Bible, the answer probably depends on which translation you read. Below are two translations of Isaiah 14:12:
King James Version: 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!
New American Standard: 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!
In the Hebrew text of Isaiah, we find the following -- HEYLEL BEN ShChAR (transliteration of the Hebrew words). A literal transliteration of the Hebrew text is:
How you have fallen from heaven, O day star, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations!
The word “Lucifer” is not in the ancient manuscripts of Isaiah – it was added by the King James translators. Before you get upset, take a moment to consider the answer to this question: What did “Lucifer” mean to the King James translators? The clues to the answer to this question are found in earlier English translations, i.e., the Geneva Bible – which also used the word “Lucifer.” They probably decided to use it because of the Latin version that was read in the Roman Catholic Church:
quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes
But, Latin readers would have known that the meaning of the word “lucifer” was “Venus, the Morning Star,” not “Satan.” So how did the meaning “Satan” replace the “Venus” in the minds of English readers? The 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary provides an important clue:
“How wretched Is that poor man that hangs on princes' favors! . . . When he
falls, he falls like Lucifer, Never to hope again. Shak.”
It took a little work but I finally discovered the source of Webster’s quote; Shakespeare’s King Henry VIII, Act III:
Of a rude stream, that must forever hide me.
Vain pomp and glory of this world, I hate ye;
I feel my heart new opened: O, how wretched
Is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours!
There is, betwixt that smile he would aspire to,
That sweet aspect of princes, and his ruin,
More pangs and fears than wars or women have;
And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
Never to hope again.
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