Lucifer: to be or not to be?

First, was there ever such a being named Lucifer? The answer is yes because of what we read in the KJB in Isaiah 14:12, “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, according to the ESV in Isaiah 14:12 the answer is no. No one named Lucifer ever existed, the entry blamed on bumbling King James Bible translators. Instead, for the modern bible version translator, the verse refers to an ancient practice of speaking of rulers in deified terms. The verse reads, “How 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! For the editors of the ESV, this passage refers to Nebuchadnezzar and the desolation of Babylon, not the fallen angel named Lucifer. The KJB alone translates הילל Lucifer and הילל is found only in this place in the Hebrew OT. Jerome’s Latin reads, quomodo cecidisti de caelo lucifer qui mane oriebaris corruisti in terram qui vulnerabas gentes. It is interesting to note that advocates of the ESV translation argue that הילל simply means “morning star” or “day star.” Albeit the ESV capitalizes “Day Star” after the manner of a name or title. While arguing a strictly literal rendering against the KJB, derived from the Latin, the ESV translates הילל as the name or title of someone or something. In any case the Latin lexical defense of the modern reading is significantly diminished considering the way the English was translated. The question then is, who does “Day Star” refer to? After long linguistic criticisms of the King James translators, the translation choice can be summarized to who, not what, does הילל refer to – Lucifer or Nebuchadnezzar. Given the gravity of the immediate context of verse 12, “being fallen from heaven,” the heavenly setting of verses 13 and 14, and the fact this is the only time הילל is in the Hebrew OT, “Lucifer” is the superior rendering. The Holy Spirit, through Isaiah, also would have been the author of Nebuchadnezzar’s supposed inspired deification, another argument against this passage that is set in the context of heaven referring to a man.

With the omission of the name “Lucifer” from the ESV, so also the angel Lucifer ceases to exist from the biblical record. Bible study helps, concordances, commentaries, lexicons, etc., based on the new Bibles have erased the name and person of Lucifer from their content. With the ESV and other similar translations, the end of Lucifer has come to the Church. Who might you consider the principal beneficiary of this omission?

Published by Dr. Peter Van Kleeck, Sr.

Dr. Peter William Van Kleeck, Sr. : B.A., Grand Rapids Baptist College, 1986; M.A.R., Westminster Theological Seminary, 1990; Th.M., Calvin Theological Seminary, 1998; D. Min, Bob Jones University, 2013. Dr. Van Kleeck was formerly the Director of the Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, Grand Rapids, MI, (1990-1994) lecturing, researching and writing in the defense of the Masoretic Hebrew text, Greek Received Text and King James Bible. His published works include, "Fundamentalism’s Folly?: A Bible Version Debate Case Study" (Grand Rapids: Institute for Biblical Textual Studies, 1998); “We have seen the future and we are not in it,” Trinity Review, (Mar. 99); “Andrew Willet (1562-1621: Reformed Interpretation of Scripture,” The Banner of Truth, (Mar. 99); "A Primer for the Public Preaching of the Song of Songs" (Outskirts Press, 2015). Dr. Van Kleeck is the pastor of the Providence Baptist Church in Manassas, VA where he has ministered for the past twenty-one years. He is married to his wife of 43 years, Annette, and has three married sons, one daughter and eighteen grandchildren.

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