On the Name Lucifer

Is Lucifer Satan’s name? What does Lucifer mean? Where do the words Devil and Satan come from?

Isaiah 14:12 (KJV) 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!

Isaiah 14:12 (NLT) “How you are fallen from heaven, O shining star, son of the morning! You have been thrown down to the earth, you who destroyed the nations of the world.

The word Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12 just means “morning star” or “shining one” or “light-bringing” usually in reference to planet Venus. It is only used in Latin translation of the bible and carried over into English via the KJV. The Hebrew and Greek language text do not call Satan by any unique name and do not use Lucifer. The Hebrew word helel (הֵילֵל), or Eosphoros (Ἑωσφόρος) in the Greek Septuagint, is used in Isaiah 14:12. Lucifer is a description of things that light up or glow, so it’s not the unique name of an entity. It’s still debated whether or not the context in Isaiah 14:12 is talking about the devil or the king of Babylon. Lucifer is the foundation of the word Luciferase. Luciferase is an enzyme in fireflies and other bioluminescent creatures (fish, fungi, snails, etc) that makes them light up. It reacts with oxygen and a chemical called Luciferin.

The word “devil” comes from diábolos (διάβολος) the Greek word for slanderer. A slanderer is someone that makes false accusations to damage another person’s reputation. Slander (being a false witness) is a sin in the 10 commandments (Ex 20:16, Deut 5:20). It’s a generic term that can apply to anyone, but there are contexts in the bible where it is talking about THE Slanderer as in the slanderer or slanderers.

Jesus says this about the devil in John 8:44, “For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

The Hebrew word Satan (שָׂטָן) can mean accuser or adversary and is actually used generically in scripture to refer to any human (or national) enemy, as well as the spiritual enemy of God. The Greek new testament uses the transliteration Satanas (Σατανᾶς) from the Hebrew word Satan. Satan is referred to as the “accuser of the brethren” in Rev 12:10. In the Hebrew text, it is usually translated to English as Satan (the spiritual enemy of God), when the Hebrew says “Ha Satan” which means THE SATAN. Otherwise, the word Satan is translated as “enemy” in English when referring to a human enemy. This is just like how the English bible translates the Hebrew “malak” (angel in Greek), to “messenger” when talking about a human, but leaves the Greek word “angel” un-translated when talking about a messenger of heaven. We are never told “The Satan’s” name, and that is likely by design since he doesn’t deserve to be named. It’s the ultimate disrespect towards him to not be named.

There is a pattern here. The enemy of God is “the slanderer”, “the accuser”, and “the father of lies”; he is not to be trusted. Jesus even called him the “father of lies” and says he was a “liar from the beginning” in John 8:44. In Genesis ch. 3 the first dialogue of Satan’s entire bible is an attempt to slander God as a deceiver by telling Eve that he lied about the consequences of the forbidden fruit. Meanwhile, God is the maker of all things is totally God and asks that we trust him. Faith means trust and Hebrews 11:6 says “6 And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” Hebrews 10:37-38, Galatians 3:11, and Romans 1:17 each quote Habbakuk 2:4 which says, “the Just shall live by faith.” We are to trust God because he will tell us the things that will save us and are good for us (Rom 8:26-28, James 1:16-18). Satan, on the other hand, has made it his mission to deceive, that is why he called the deceiver, rather than given a proper name.

James 1:16 So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. 17 Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. 18 He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.

Romans 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

Satan the musician:
Ezekiel 28:13 (KJV) Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

Only some translations like the KJV and LSV seem to reference musical instruments (tabrets/tambourines and pipes) in Ezekiel 28:13. So there is a belief that Satan was a musician before his rebellion. The NASB translation of this passage says, “the workmanship of your settings and sockets” instead of “the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes”. “Pipes” is translated from neqeb (נֶקֶב) which means socket, and according to Strong’s concordance, it is in reference to a bezel for gems. Brown-Driver-Briggs says it is a “technical term of jeweler’s work, probably some hole or cavity”. The rest of the passage talks about jewels like red carnelian, white moonstone, onyx, jasper, blue lapis lazuli, emerald, etc, so it may simply be an extension of the comments on the adornment of jewelry. However, “tabrets” is translated from taph (תֹּף) which accordion to Strong’s concordance means tambourine which is a musical instrument. These interpretations are in dispute by many scholars, personally, I don’t think it matters if Satan was a musician or not. It would seem fitting since music can bypass our senses and have us saying things we don’t truly believe in or agree with. Either way, Satan is a defeated enemy of God and underserved of any glorification, and he will be cast in the lake of fire on judgment day (Rev 20:10) so, who cares?

Satan (שָׂטָן)
Satanas (Σατανᾶς)
Diabolos (διάβολος)

More on Luciferase

Lucifer from the Hebrew helel”
Shining One helel (הֵילֵל)
Various Commentaries on Isa 14:12
The Bible Project video on the subject of Satan

Satan the Musician:
More on Ez 28:13
toph (תֹּף)
naqab (נֶקֶב)