How Satan Came To Be Called Lucifer
Lucifer is probably the most well-known name for the evil spirit otherwise known as Satan. If you say “Lucifer” there’s no confusion about whom you’re speaking. So in a way it’s accurate to say that Lucifer has become Satan’s name. There is a TV show right now in the USA entitled Lucifer and yes, it’s about Satan and no, I haven’t seen it.
But Lucifer isn’t Satan’s name according to the Bible. Calling Satan Lucifer was actually a decision made by the translators of the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. Here’s what happened. They translated Isaiah 14:12 this way,
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 problem is they translated the Hebrew word הֵילֵ֣ל or helel as “Lucifer.” The word helel is only used here in the Bible. It comes from a root meaning “shining one.” However, Lucifer isn’t an English translation of the Hebrew word helel. It’s a Latin translation of the word. The KJV translators borrowed the word Lucifer from the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Bible. In Latin Lucifer has the sense of “light-bearing” and “morning star.” Rather than translate the Hebrew word helel as “shining one” or “morning star” like modern translations do, the KJV translators inserted the Latin term “Lucifer” in this verse. Since many scholars understood this passage as referring to Satan, Lucifer became synonymous with Satan’s name.
What’s The Real Name of the Being Known As Lucifer?
If Lucifer Isn’t Satan’s name, what Is it? Technically he has many names, Satan, the Devil, Beelzebub, ancient serpent, god of this age and more. I say technically because none of these are really names. They’re all descriptors. Even in the book of Job, where our English translations call him Satan, that isn’t what we find in Hebrew. Satan is a transliteration of the Hebrew word “satan” which means adversary. In Job the word “satan” has “the” in front of it. It would be more accurate to translate each occurrence in Job as “the adversary.”
So what was this being’s name before he sinned? We don’t know. It may be that it was “shining one.” I’m sure it was a glorious name due to his power and position. It’s significant that we don’t know what it was. Names are important to God. A person’s name reflects their character. We see this when God changed the names of Abram to Abraham Genesis 17:4-6 and Jacob to Israel Genesis 32:29 to reflect His work in their lives.
Even though God has given him great power and he’s followed by many other fallen spirits he is still under God’s control. It is a small thing but I take comfort that God’s control extends to the point where we don’t even know his original name.
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 1 John 4:4
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