Questions From Readers
● Did not Lucifer become Satan the Devil, according to Isaiah 14:12?—A. R., United States.
The term “Lucifer” is found only once in the Scriptures and that at Isaiah 14:12. Even this, however, is true of only certain versions, such as the King James, Douay, An American Translation, Knox and Darby. The American Standard Version and the Revised Standard Version use the expression “Day Star”; Rotherham, “Shining One”; Moffatt, “shining star.”
The King James Version at Isaiah 14:12, 13 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! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north.”
The Hebrew word here translated Lucifer is Heylél. In the Septuagint Version it is rendered by the Greek word Heosphóros, which means “bringer of dawn.” In Jerome’s Latin Vulgate Version this word is translated “Lucifer,” which accounts for its appearance in other versions, especially in Catholic versions. To appreciate just how the term “Lucifer” may be applied we must bear in mind the following points.
First, that this prophecy is directed primarily to the king of Babylon, who, by reason of his many conquests, especially that of the nation of Judah in 607 B.C., became world ruler and therefore like the bringer of dawn, the morning star Venus, which is the brightest of all celestial bodies aside from the sun and moon.
Secondly, that this prophecy is really a taunt song, as noted by Rotherham’s translation of Isa 14 verse four: “Thou shalt take up this taunt over the king of Babylon.” It is directed against one who exalted himself very highly and who is being taunted on his downfall.
And thirdly, we are not to consider these stars as literal stars or planets. In the Scriptures at times a glorious prince is termed a star, as we read: “A star will certainly step forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will indeed arise out of Israel.” (Num. 24:17, NW) Since the princes or kings of Jerusalem were said to sit upon Jehovah’s throne, it would be proper to speak of them as the “stars of God.”
When, therefore, the king of Babylon took captive Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, he had exalted his throne above the stars of God, and he had in this sense made himself like the Most High. It is only at this time, when Satan, the god of the king of Babylon, truly became the “god of this system of things,” that he was pictured by Babylon’s king and therefore in a taunting way can be referred to as the Shining One or Lucifer.—2 Cor. 4:4, NW.
Thus we see that this title could not refer to the original perfection, beauty and jewellike brightness that he enjoyed as the covering cherub, which is described by the prophet Ezekiel at Ezekiel 28:14-17, AS. It can only be applied in a taunting sense to Satan, and that only from 607 B.C. onward. For more details see The Watchtower, October 15, 1949, pages 307 to 315.