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Discovery Magazine 4/1/2003

What's in a Name?

by  Brad Harrub, Ph.D.

Many people go by names other than those listed on their birth certificate. Maybe you are called by your middle name or a nickname. Likewise, people in the Bible often were known by more than one name. For example, Jacob was also called Israel. But this sometimes can cause confusion, and can lead to names that may not be right. For instance, think of all the many names that people call Satan. Some refer to him as the evil one, the devil, or Legion. However, there is one name that is often used that has been misinterpreted from Scripture. That name is Lucifer.

In the New King James Version of the Bible, the only place where the word "Lucifer" is found is in Isaiah 14:12, which states: "How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations!" The Hebrew word translated "Lucifer" is the word helel, which means to "shine" or "bear light." Actually, when we go back and look at how the word was originally translated, it was probably used to describe "the morning star." Isaiah was talking about the king of Babylon, not Satan. In verses 12-14, the prophet condemned the king for boasting and making proud declarations. We read that his ego would soon be deflated, and that the once-shining-but-now-dimmed "morning star" would lose his kingly status. Isaiah 14:15 tells us that this king would be brought down. Does the name Lucifer represent the devil? Not according to the Bible.

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