Lucifer

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NOTE: For the Theosophical magazine of which H. P. Blavatsky was the editor see Lucifer (periodical).

Lucifer is a translation of the Latin words lucem ferre (from lux "light" and ferre "carry") meaning the "light-bearer". It was the name given to the morning star, i.e., the planet Venus when seen at dawn. In Christianity this name is usually associated to Satan.

Lucifer in the Bible

The only time the name "Lucifer" appears in the old testament is in Isaiah xiv:12, where he calls the King of Babylon "Helel" (הֵילֵל, "Shining One"), a Hebrew word that refers to the Day Star or Morning Star (the Latin term for which is "lucifer").[1]

H. P. Blavatsky comments on this:

The literal words used, and their translation, are: “Aïk Naphalta Mi-Shamayim Hillel Ben-Shahar Nigdata La-Aretz Cholesch Al-Goüm,” or, “How art thou fallen from the heavens, Hillel, Son of the Morning, how art thou cast down unto the earth, thou who didst cast down the nations.” Here the word, translated “Lucifer,” is הֵילֵל, Hillel, and its meaning is “shining brightly or gloriously.”[2]

The verse was interpreted as a reference to Satan in early Christianity. Mme. Blavatsky claimed Pope Gregory I was the responsible for this:

It was Gregory the Great who was the first to apply this passage of Isaiah, 'How art thou fallen from Heaven, Lucifer, son of the morning,' etc., to Satan, and ever since the bold metaphor of the prophet, which referred, after all, but to an Assyrian king inimical to the Israelites, has been applied to the Devil.[3]

However, in the book of Revelation we find the same word applied to Jesus:

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.[4]

In the same book, Jesus says he will give "the morning star" to "the one who is victorious and does my will".[5] In his Notes on the New Testament, Albert Barnes comments:

The "morning star" is that bright planet--Venus--which at some seasons of the year appears so beautifully in the east, leading on the morning--the harbinger of the day. It is one of the most beautiful objects in nature, and is susceptible of a great variety of uses for illustration. It appears as the darkness passes away; it is an indication that the morning comes; it is intermingled with the first rays of the light of the sun; it seems to be a herald to announce the coming of that glorious luminary; it is a pledge of the faithfulness of God.[6]

Based on the above discussed, Mme. Blavatsky claimed that Lucifer and Satan were two different characters:

So absurd and ridiculous is that prejudice, indeed, that no one has seemed to ever ask himself the question, how came Satan to be called a light-bringer.[7]
Thus addressing the bright luminary in perpetual abscondito beyond the eternal fogs of the great city . . . we might entreat him at the same time to pour a little light into the no less befogged heads of those who insist on boycotting Lucifer under the extraordinary notion that he and Satan are one.[8]

Lucifer as the Light bringer

Satan as the opposer

Satan (Hebrew: הַשָּׂטָן ha-Satan) means "the opposer". In the Book of Job, ha-Satan is a member of the Divine Council, "the sons of God" who are subservient to God. Ha-Satan is charged by God to tempt humans and to report back to God all who go against His decrees. In Christianity the title became the personal name of the chief of the rebellious fallen angels, "the devil".

In the Gospel of Luke there is this reference to Satan:

And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name.” And He said unto them, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding, in this rejoice not that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.”[9]

Mme. Blavatsky's interpretation is as follows:

The “Serpent” fallen from on high, “deorsum fluens,” was credited with the possession of the Keys of the Empire of the Dead . . . to that day, when Jesus saw it “falling like lightning from heaven” (Luke x. 17, 18) . . . and it means indeed that even “the devils are subject” to the Logos—who is WISDOM, but who, as the opponent of ignorance, is Satan or Lucifer at the same time. This remark refers to divine Wisdom falling like lightning on, and quickening the intellects of those who fight the devils of ignorance and superstition.[10]

Boris de Zirkoff on Lucifer

Boris de Zirkoff provided this commentary on Blavatsky's writings:

There exist divergent views among scholars concerning the Hebrew term which is sometimes spelt hillel, and sometimes hêlçl and even hailal, according to the interpretation of the vowel-points. The Hebrew expression in Isaiah, xiv, 12, hêlel bên shâhar, appears in the Greek Septuagint as Septuagint quote.jpg and in the Latin Vulgate as Lucifer qui mane oriebaris, conveying the idea of “early rising,” both in Greek and in Latin. The Hebrew expression bên shâhar definitely means “son of the dawn.” The Vulgate translates by the word Lucifer the Hebrew term bôqer, “light of dawn” (Job, xi, 17), the expression mazzârôth, “the Signs of the Zodiac” (Job, xxxviii, 32), and even shâhar, “the dawn” (Ps., cx, 3). Besides using the word Lucifer in connection with the King of Babylon, in the above-mentioned passage from Isaiah, the same term is used by the Vulgate in connection with the High-Priest Simon, son of Onias (Ecclesiasticus, 1, 6), and is applied to the “glory of Heaven” (Apoc., ii, 28), and even to Jesus Christ himself (II Peter, i, 19; Apoc., xxii, 16). In the Exultet (liturgy of Holy Saturday), the Church uses the title of Lucifer in connection with its Saviour, and expresses the hope that this “early morning Lucifer” will find the Easter-candle burning bright, he who knows no decline and who, returning from Hell, sheds his brilliant light upon mankind.

Hêlçl is derived from hâlal, “to shine” (Arab. halal; Assyrian, elêlu). The Syriac version of the Old Testament and the version of Aquila derive it from yâlal, “to lament,” and St. Jerome agrees with this derivation (Comm. in Is., v, 14, in Migne, Patrol. Lat., XXIV, 161), making of Lucifer the principal fallen angel who is supposed “to lament” the loss of his original glory, bright as the morning star. Other Fathers of the Church maintain that Lucifer is not the proper name of the “devil,” but denotes only the state from which he has fallen (Petavius, De angelis, III, iii; 4). Present-day scholars agree with H. P. B. that the supposed derivation from yâlal, “to wail,” “to howl or lament,” is untenable.

The passage in Isaiah, xiv, 12, discussed by H. P. B., is transliterated as follows by present-day standards: Aik nafaltah mi-shamayim ƒailal ben-shâhar nig’datah la-ares ƒolesh ’al-goyim. The translation of this verse, according to King James’ Bible is; however, “How art thou fallen, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!” Some scholars translate “cast lots over nations,” instead of “weaken.”[11]

Notes

  1. Lucifer at Online Etymology Dictionary
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1960), fn, 27.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1960), fn., 7.
  4. Revelation 22.16
  5. Revelation 2.28
  6. Revelation of St. John the Divine - 2.28 at Christian Classics Ethereal Library
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1990), 7.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 280.
  9. Luke 10:17-20
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 230.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VIII (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1960), fn, 27.

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