In Isaiah 14:12 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
American King James Version×, the powerful being who led a rebellion against God is referred to by a word often translated as “Lucifer.” The original Hebrew designation here—used only this one time in the Bible—is Heylel. Its precise meaning is debated. Some think it means “Praise of God,” seeing a relation with the Hebrew Halal (“praise”), the el at the end perhaps being a suffix meaning “God” (as in the angelic names Michael and Gabriel).
Others contend that Heylel means “brightness” or “shining one”—particularly given its apparent astronomical association. Paired here with the phrase “son of the morning,” many believe the reference is to the planet Venus as the bright morning star shining in the east before sunrise. Indeed, this was evidently the understanding of the term shortly before Christ’s time. The ancient Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament rendered the word as Eosphoros (“dawn bearer”), the Greek term for Venus as the morning star (also known in Greek as Phosphoros, meaning “light bearer”).
This meaning was incorporated into the fifth-century Latin Vulgate translation with the word Lucifer (“light bearer” or “light bringer”), the name Roman astronomers used for the same morning star. Yet we should further consider that the angels of God were referred to figuratively in Scripture as “morning stars” (Job 38:7 Job 38:7When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
American King James Version×; see also Revelation 1:20 Revelation 1:20The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which you saw are the seven churches.
American King James Version×).
A little knowledge of astronomy helps us better understand the picture here. Venus is the brightest object in the sky except for the sun and moon. We now understand it to be a planet. But to the ancients it was classed as a star—simply because their words for star meant a small, shining point of light in the sky. Notice again that the reference in Isaiah 14:12 Isaiah 14:12How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how are you cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations!
American King James Version×is “son of the morning.” The planet Venus is still referred to as either the morning star or the evening star—because it is visible only just before sunrise or just after sunset.
Thus the picture presented is of a grand star, likened to Venus, that wants to be grander than the other stars: “I will exalt my throne above the stars of God” (Isaiah 14:13 Isaiah 14:13For you have said in your heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also on the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:
American King James Version×). Before dawn, Venus rises from the eastern horizon. But before it is able to climb into the sky—to rise above the other stars and be the highest—the light of the rising sun causes Venus to disappear in the growing light of day.
The parallels between the astronomical picture and what happened in the spirit realm are striking and reinforce the points Isaiah makes here in describing this tragic angelic rebellion.