🔼The name Lucifer: Summary
- Light Bringer
- From (1) the noun lux, light, and (2) the verb fero, to bring or carry (same as φερω, phero).
🔼The name Lucifer in the Bible
Doubtlessly much to the chagrin of fans, Lucifer is not a personal name and it certainly is not the personal name of the devil.
The word lucifer is a common Latin word and occurs in the Old Testament in Job 11:17 (= the dawn) and Job 38:32 (= some constellation), Psalm 110:3 (= the dawn), Isaiah 14:12 (see below), and once in the New Testament, in 2 Peter 1:19 (= φωσφορος, phosphoros, the Morning Star or Venus, see below).
Of all English, German and Dutch translations of the Bible, only the King James Version and the Darby Translation mention Lucifer and that only in Isaiah 14:12. All other occurrences of the word lucifer are translated as "morning star," "shining one" or "day star" or something to that extent in all European translations over the last four centuries.
🔼Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12
The only time that Lucifer could possibly be perceived as a personal name is in Isaiah 14:12, where the Lord makes the observation: "How you have fallen from heaven, lucifer, son of the dawn!". This observation is part of a larger statement addressed to the king of Babylon (14:4), in which Babylon's fall from grace is discussed. Babylon's prior rise to grace isn't mentioned in this chapter, but is part of the general rule that everything belongs to God and whatever grows, grows because the Lord makes it grow (see for instance Isaiah 45:1-7). Hence Babylon could not have risen to prominence without the blessing of YHWH, and its fall is due to Babylon's desire for wealth and power.
A similar sentiment is recorded in the Book of Ezekiel, where the prophet speaks of the king of Tyre, "You had the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty; you were in Eden, the garden of God" (Ezekiel 28:12-13). The Tyrians and the Phoenicians in general had built a highly successful empire on the basis of respect and free trade, and had achieved such great levels of skills and wisdom that Solomon had asked them to build the Temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 2). Sadly, even the Phoenicians became corrupt and were wiped out by the Romans (read our article on the name Hannibal for more details).
Because the archangel Michael kicked satan out of heaven (Revelation 12:9), and satan was present in Eden (Genesis 3), there is some similarity between satan and the kings of Babylon and Tyre in the words of Isaiah and Ezekiel, but similarity is not the same as equality, and they are really three different entities.
🔼Lucifer the Light Bringer
The original Hebrew text of Isaiah speaks of הילל (helel), which scholars generally derive from the verb הלל (halal), meaning to shine or radiate. Here at Abarim Publications, however, we're not so sure about that and see more in the verb ילל (yalal), meaning to wail (see for a full discussion of this our article on the "name" Helel). But whether Isaiah spoke of radiating or wailing, when the Greek Septuagint was being written, the authors decided to spice Isaiah's statement up a bit, and turned הילל (helel) into εωσφορος (eosphoros). This epithet consists of (1) an unusual variety of the noun ηως, meaning dawn (or even the personal name Ηως, which belongs to the deity Eos or Aurora) and (2) the verb φορω (phoreo) meaning to bear or bring.
That meant that Isaiah's Helel was now the Light-Bringer, which in fact nearly perfectly reflected the Biblical perspective: the great ancient civilizations indeed brought wisdom, skill and peace to humanity, but the crucial difference with the Biblical perspective was that although the empires delivered light to the world, they didn't create it. Light in all its forms came from YHWH, and the fall of the empires coincided with their forgetting about YHWH and claiming the glory for themselves (see for instance the transition between Daniel 4:1-3 and 4:30).
The authors of the Septuagint hadn't made up the title εωσφορος (eosphoros), because it existed at least since the time of Homer, and was used as an epithet for the Morning Star, now known as Venus, and then also known as φωσφορος (phosphoros, or phos + phoros = light bringing) as used in 2 Peter 1:19.
The planet Venus never strays far from the sun. It's at best about halfway up the sky when the sun is on the horizon, and either heralds the sunrise when it rises earlier than the sun, or sets just after the sun does. Besides the moon and the sun, Venus is the brightest light in the sky and can be seen during the day with the naked eye and the help of a sextant; it looks like a little lost ping-pong ball. But the rub is that neither the moon nor Venus produces their own light; they get it from the sun. They are simply objects that the sun shines on, even when the sun itself is below the horizon. Here at Abarim Publications we are pretty sure that the ancients knew all about the stars and planets, but read the article on our home page for more details.
The ancients called Venus the Dawn-Bringer and the Light-Bringer because it heralded the imminent rise of the sun and the end of the night. And they called the kings of Babylon and Tyre the same because the evolution of local human culture is only a sign that something greater is on the rise. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus says without ado, "I am the bright morning star," and the principle is really quite simple. Between the darkness of the caves and the dawn of the New Creation is a period of darkness in which pockets of human culture provide whatever light there is on planet earth. Whichever earthly monarch or insightful scientist is leading the way, it's still either the pre-incarnate Christ or else the incarnate Christ. No matter by what label folks call themselves, in whatever measure they differ from the caveman, that difference must come from God, and specifically: from the Word Of God. We call it science and technology, wisdom or culture; the ancients called it Logos.
When Jerome translated the Septuagint, he turned the Greek εωσφορος (eosphoros) into lucifer, which was an existing adjective meaning light-bringing and also the Latin name for the Morning Star.
🔼Etymology of the name Lucifer
The name Lucifer consists of two elements. The first part comes from the familiar Latin noun lux, meaning light, which in turn comes from the Greek/Latin root that yields words that have to do with light or white::
The Greek adjective λευκος (leukos) primarily means to be white, and secondarily to shine or glitter. The Latin verb luceo primarily means to shine and secondarily to be white. Noun lux means light or day(-time), and noun lumen means light or brightness
The second part of our name comes from the Latin verb fero, which means to bring or carry and which exists in Greek as the verb φερω (phero); the second part of the Greek name εωσφορος (eosphoros):
The verb φερω (phero) primarily means to bring, carry, convey or guide, and is associated with willful action and often commercial activity. It's part of a long list of compound derivations and is cognate with the Latin verb fero.
The name Lucifer means Light-Bringer, but it is not a name of the devil, it is the name of the Morning Star or the planet Venus, and is figuratively used for collective human achievements that in fact herald the much greater human culture of the New Creation.
What also may have helped to suggest that Lucifer was a personal name, and particularly of the devil, was a tradition that Pliny the Elder talks about in his Natural History. Pliny laments how in his day and age all food and goods had to be marked, labeled and locked up to prevent pilfering throngs of nameless slaves from purloining them.
Back in the old days, relative to Pliny's first century AD, people had only one slave, and that slave had a name derived from his master's plus the word puer, meaning child or in this case servant. A slave of Marcus would thus be called Marcipor, and a slave of Lucius would thus be called Lucipor, or Servant Of The Light (Hist.33.6).
The names Lucipor and Lucifer are not all that dissimilar, and when we then realize that our word "category" comes from the Greek verb κατηγορεω (kategoreo), which means to accuse and which is the main occupation of the devil (Revelation 12:10), the words of Pliny appear to curiously resonate with the traditions of the Bible.