5-5 Lucifer King Of Babylon
Isaiah 14: 12-14: “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: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be
like the most High”.
It is assumed that Lucifer was once a powerful angel who sinned at
Adam’s time and was therefore cast down to earth, where he is making
trouble for God’s people.
1. The words “devil” , “satan” and “angel” never occur in this
chapter. This is the only place in Scripture where the word “Lucifer”
2. There is no evidence that Isaiah 14 is describing anything that
happened in the garden of Eden; if it is, then why are we left 3,000
years from the time of Genesis before being told what really happened
3. Lucifer is described as being covered in worms (v. 11) and mocked
by men (v. 16) because he no longer has any power after his casting out
of heaven (vs. 5-8); so there is no justification for thinking that
Lucifer is now on earth leading believers astray.
4. Why is Lucifer punished for saying, “I will ascend into heaven” (v. 13), if he was already there?
5. Lucifer is to rot in the grave: “Thy pomp is brought down to the
grave...and the worms cover thee” (v. 11). Seeing angels cannot die
(Lk. 20:35-36), Lucifer therefore cannot be an angel; the language is
more suited to a man.
6. Verses 13 and 14 have connections with 2 Thessalonians 2: 3-4,
which is about the “man of sin” - thus Lucifer points forward to
another man, perhaps another king of latter day Babylon- but not
to an angel.
7. It should be noted that the idea of 'morning star' is translated
'Lucifer' in the Vulgate [Latin] translation of the Bible made by
Jerome. Significantly, he uses 'Lucifer' as a description of Christ,
as the 'morning star' mentioned in Revelation. Indeed, some early
Christians took the name 'Lucifer' as a 'Christian name' in order
to identify themselves with Jesus (1). It wasn't until Origen that
the term 'Lucifer' took on any connotation of 'Satan' or a force
of evil; and even then it was only popularized much later in Milton's
Paradise Lost . 'Lucifer' in its strict meaning of 'bearer
of the light' actually was applied in a positive sense to Christian
communities, e.g. the followers of Lucifer of Cagliari were called
'Luciferians'. As an aside, it's worth pointing out that they were
one of the groups who insisted that the devil was not a personal
being and held to the original Biblical picture of sin and the devil
1. The N.I.V. and other modern versions have set out the text of
Isaiah chapters 13-23 as a series of “burdens” on various nations,
e.g. Babylon, Tyre, Egypt. Isaiah 14: 4, sets the context of the
verses we are considering: “Thou shalt take up this proverb
(parable) against the king of Babylon...”. The prophecy is therefore
about the human king of Babylon, who is described as “Lucifer”.
On his fall: “they that see thee shall...consider thee, saying,
Is this the man that made the earth to tremble...?” (v. 16). Thus
Lucifer is clearly defined as a man.
2. Because Lucifer was a human king , “All kings of the
nations...shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as
we? art thou become like unto us?” (vs. 9-10). Lucifer was therefore a
king like any other king.
3. Verse 20 says that Lucifer’s seed will be destroyed. Verse 22
says that Babylon’s seed will be destroyed, thus equating them.
4. Remember that this is a “proverb (parable) against the king of
Babylon” (v. 4). “Lucifer” means “the morning star”, which is the
brightest of the stars. In the parable, this star proudly decides to
“ascend (higher) into heaven...exalt my throne above the (other) stars
of God” (v. 13). Because of this, the star is cast down to the earth.
The star represents the king of Babylon. Daniel chapter 4 explains how
Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, proudly surveyed the great kingdom
he had built up, thinking that he had conquered other nations in his
own strength, rather than recognizing that God had given him success.
“Thy greatness (pride) is grown, and reacheth unto heaven” (v.22).
Because of this “he was driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and
his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hairs were grown like
eagles’ feathers, and his nails like birds’ claws” (v. 33). This sudden
humbling of one of the world’s most powerful men to a deranged lunatic
was such a dramatic event as to call for the parable about the falling
of the morning star from heaven to earth. Stars are symbolic of
powerful people, e.g. Genesis 37: 9; Isaiah 13:10 (concerning the
leaders of Babylon); Ezekiel 32: 7 (concerning the leaders of Egypt);
Daniel 8:10, cp. v. 24. Ascending to heaven and falling from heaven are
Biblical idioms often used for increasing in pride and being humbled
respectively - see Job 20: 6; Jeremiah 51:53 ( about Babylon);
Lamentations 2 :1; Matthew 11:23 (about Capernaum): “Thou, Capernaum,
which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell” (the
5. Verse 17 accuses Lucifer of making the “world as a wilderness,
(destroying) the cities thereof; that let not loose his prisoners
to their home...(that did) fill the face of the world with cities...the
exactress of gold” (vs 17 & 21 R.V.; v. 4 A.V. margin). These
are all descriptions of Babylonian military policy - razing whole
areas to the ground (as they did to Jerusalem), transporting captives
to other areas and not letting them return to their homeland (as
they did to the Jews), building new cities and taking tribute of
gold from nations they oppressed. Thus there is emphasis on the
fact that Lucifer was not even going to get the burial these other
kings had (vs. 18-19), implying that he was only a human king like
them, seeing his body needed burying. Is. 14:8 records the relief
that now the "Lucifer" figure would no longer cut down
cedars in Lebanon and hew mountains. This is exactly the language
used by Nebuchadnezzar: "What no former king had done, I achieved:
I cut through steep mountains, I split rocks, I opened passages
and constructed a straight road for the transport of Cedars... to
Marduk, my king, mighty cedars... the abundant yield of the Lebanon"
(3). Clearly the figure spoken of in Is. 14 was Nebuchadnezzar.
6. Verse 12 says that Lucifer was to be “cut down to the ground”
- implying he was a tree. This provides a further link with Daniel
4: 8-16, where Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon are likened to a tree
being cut down.
7. Babylon and Assyria are often interchangeable phrases in the
prophets, thus, having spoken of the demise of the king of Babylon,
v. 25 says, “I will break the Assyrian...”. The prophecies about
Babylon in Isaiah 47, are repeated concerning Assyria in Nahum 3:
4, 5, & 18, and Zephaniah 2 :13 & 15; and 2 Chronicles 33:11,
says that the king of Assyria took Manasseh captive to Babylon -
showing the interchangeability of the terms. Amos 5:27 says that
Israel were to go into captivity “beyond Damascus”, i.e. in Assyria,
but Stephen quotes this as “beyond Babylon” (Acts 7:43). Ezra 6:1
describes Darius the king of Babylon making a decree concerning
the rebuilding of the temple. The Jews praised God for turning “the
heart of the king of Assyria” (Ezra 6: 22), again showing that they
are interchangeable terms. The prophecy of Isaiah 14, along with
many others in Isaiah, fits in well to the context of the Assyrian
invasion by Sennacherib in Hezekiah’s time, hence v. 25 describes
the breaking of the Assyrian. Verse 13 is easier to understand if
it is talking about the blasphemous Assyrians besieging Jerusalem,
wanting to enter Jerusalem and capture the temple for their gods.
Earlier the Assyrian king, Tilgath-Pilneser, had probably wanted
to do the same (2 Chron. 28: 20-21). Isaiah 14:13: “For thou hast
said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven...(symbolic of the
temple and ark - 1 Kings 8: 30; 2 Chron. 30: 27; Ps. 20: 2 &
6; 11: 4; Heb. 7:26) I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation
(mount Zion where the temple was) in the sides of the north” (Jerusalem
- Ps. 48:1-2).
8. There's a good reason why the King of Babylon is described as
"the morning star", or Venus. The Babylonians believed
that their king was the child of their gods Bel and Ishtar, both
of whom were associated with the planets- they thought that their
King was the planet Venus.
9. The Lucifer-king was to "lie down" (Is. 14:8) in his
destruction- and that Hebrew term occurs later in Isaiah with reference
to the 'laying down' of Babylon's King and army in the grave (Is.
10. Note that "the stars of God" can refer to the leaders
of Israel (Gen. 37:9; Joel 3:15; Dan. 8:10), above whom the King
of Babylon wished to arise.
11. The passage about "Lucifer" is alluding to and deconstructing
a contemporary myth, in a manner which is common to much Biblical
literature. "An ancient myth told how Heylel, the morning star
(Venus), tried to climb the walls of the northern city of the gods
to make himself king of heaven, only to be driven from the sky by
the rising sun. In Isaiah 14:12-20 this mythis given a historical
application" (4). Isaiah is mocking the myth, and saying that
the King of Babylon was acting like Heylel in the myth- but would
be thrown down not by another planet, but by God Himself.
H.A. Kelly- one of the leading historians of religious ideas of
recent times- observed from much research that "It was not
until post-Biblical times that Lucifer was associated with Satan,
or that Satan was thought to have been cast out of heaven before
the creation of Adam and Eve, or that Satan had some connection
with Adam and Eve" (5). The New Testament references to Jesus
as the morning star, Venus, have been read by H.A. Kelly as a conscious
allusion to the growing idea that Lucifer ['light-bringer', heosphoros
in Greek, the dawn-bringer] / Venus, the morning star, was in fact
something or someone evil (6). All the N.T. references to the morning
star are positive, and all refer to Jesus (2 Pet. 1:19; Rev. 2:28;
22:16). It's possible to read Jn. 1:8 in this context, too. Here
John the Baptist is described as "bearing witness to the light",
which was language understandable with reference to Venus, the Morning
Star which is seen in the Eeast just before the Sun rises in the
(1) Nick Lunn, Alpha And Omega (Sutton, UK: Willow, 1992)
(2) W.H.C. Frend, The Donatist Church: A Movement Of Protest
In Roman North Africa (Oxford: O.U.P., 1952).
(3) J.B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating
To The Old Testament (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
3rd ed., 1969) p. 307.
(4) G.B. Caird, The Revelation Of St. John The Divine
(London: Black, 1966) pp. 114,115.
(5) H.A. Kelly, Satan: A Biography (Cambridge: CUP, 2006)
(6) H.A. Kelly, ibid pp. 164,165.