Old Testament

Is Lucifer Satan’s Name or a Star?

Is Lucifer Satan’s Real Name? Some would answer in the affirmative, using Lucifer as the original name of Satan before the Fall. The KJV also seems to agree with that sentiment. Isaiah 14:12 reads:

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, if we compare the KJV with other translations we notice the absence of the name Lucifer.

NIVHow you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
ESVHow you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!
NASBHow 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!
CSBShining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens!
You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground.
NETLook how you have fallen from the sky, O shining one, son of the dawn!
You have been cut down to the ground, O conqueror of the nations!

The name “Lucifer” is noticeably absent from these translations. Instead it is translated as a description, or perhaps some sort of title.

photo of lucifer the shining one

The difference in translation from the KJV concerns the Hebrew word הֵילֵל, which occurs no where else, but is almost certainly is related to the verb הלל, which means “to shine,” or “flash forth light.” The Greek translation of the OT translates it as ἑωσφόρος (“morning star,” cf. 2 Pet 1:19). The Latin Vulgate translation uses “Lucifer” both in Isaiah 14:12 as well as 2 Peter 1:19. Lucifer is related in Latin to the verb luceo which means “to shine.”

In churches today you will often hear Satan referred to by name as Lucifer, however, it seems clear to me that Lucifer was not intended by the translators of the Latin Vulgate to be understood as a name. Whether or not the KJV translators intended it to be used as a name is also in question. They likely would have understood Latin well enough that Lucifer would communicate the notion of shining star. In any case, it should be clearly stated that Lucifer is not a name for Satan.

Note: I have deliberately ignored the whole question as to whether Satan is even being addressed in Isaiah 14:3ff (many scholars think it is not a reference to Satan). This is a bigger issue which will have to await a future time.

Photo by Farid Askerov on Unsplash

Peter serves at Shepherd's Theological Seminary in Cary, NC as the professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages. He is a husband, father, and sports enthusiast.

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