AskDefine | Define Lucifer

Dictionary Definition



1 (Judeo-Christian and Islamic religions) chief spirit of evil and adversary of God; tempter of mankind; master of Hell [syn: Satan, Old Nick, Devil, the Devil, Beelzebub, the Tempter, Prince of Darkness]
2 lighter consisting of a thin piece of wood or cardboard tipped with combustible chemical; ignites with friction; "he always carries matches to light his pipe" [syn: match, friction match]

User Contributed Dictionary

see lucifer



From Latin lux, "light," and -ifer, "bearer."

Proper noun

  1. A name of the Christian devil, referring to him before his fall into sin.
  2. The planet Venus as the daystar.


Venus, the morning star

Extensive Definition

Lucifer is a name frequently given to Satan in Judeo-Christian belief because of a particular interpretation of a passage in the Book of Isaiah. More specifically, it is supposed to have been Satan's name before being cast out of heaven.
In Latin, the word "Lucifer", meaning "Light-Bringer" (from lux, lucis, "light", and ferre, "to bear, bring"), is a name for the "Morning Star" (the planet Venus in its dawn appearances). The Latin Vulgate version of the Bible used this word twice to refer to the Morning Star: once in Bible verse 2|Peter|1:19 to translate the Greek word "Φωσφόρος" (Phosphoros), which has exactly the same literal meaning of "Light-Bringer" that "Lucifer" has in Latin; and once in Bible verse |Isaiah|14:12 to translate "הילל" (Hêlēl), which also means "Morning Star". In the latter passage the title of "Morning Star" is given to the tyrannous Babylonian king, who the prophet says is destined to fall. This passage was later applied to the prince of the demons, and so the name "Lucifer" came to be used for Satan, and was popularized in works such as Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost, but for English speakers the greatest influence has been its use in the King James Version for what more modern English versions translate as "Morning Star" or "Day Star".
A similar passage in Bible verse |Ezekiel|28:11-19 regarding the king of Tyre was also applied to Satan, contributing to the traditional picture of Satan and his fall.

Latin name for the Morning Star

see Hesperus Lucifer is the Latin name for the "Morning Star", both in prose and poetry, as seen in works by Marcus Terentius Varro (116–27 BC), Cicero (106-43 BC) and other early Latin writers
Cicero wrote:
Stella Veneris, quae Φωσφόρος Graece, Latine dicitur Lucifer, cum antegreditur solem, cum subsequitur autem Hesperos
The star of Venus, called Φωσφόρος in Greek and Lucifer in Latin when it precedes, Hesperos when it follows the sun.
And Pliny the Elder:
sidus appellatum Veneris … ante matutinum exoriens Luciferi nomen accipit … contra ab occasu refulgens nuncupatur Vesper
The star called Venus … when it rises in the morning is given the name Lucifer … but when it shines at sunset it is called Vesper
Poets also used the word "Lucifer". Ovid has at least eleven mentions of the Morning Star in his poetry. Virgil wrote:
Luciferi primo cum sidere frigida rura
carpamus, dum mane novum, dum gramina canent
Let us hasten, when first the Morning Star appears,
To the cool pastures, while the day is new, while the grass is dewy
And Statius:
et iam Mygdoniis elata cubilibus alto
impulerat caelo gelidas Aurora tenebras,
rorantes excussa comas multumque sequenti
sole rubens; illi roseus per nubila seras
aduertit flammas alienumque aethera tardo
Lucifer exit equo, donec pater igneus orbem
impleat atque ipsi radios uetet esse sorori
And now Aurora rising from her Mygdonian couch had driven the cold darkness on from high in the heavens, shaking out her dewy hair, her face blushing red at the pursuing sun – from him roseate Lucifer averts his fires lingering in the clouds and with reluctant horse leaves the heavens no longer his, until the blazing father make full his orb and forbid even his sister her beams

The Morning Star in Isaiah 14:12

The Book of Isaiah has the following passage:
When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has ceased! How his insolence has ceased! … 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! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit on the mount of assembly on the heights of Zaphon; I will ascend to the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High." But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the Pit. Those who see you will stare at you, and ponder over you: "Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, who made the world like a desert and overthrew its cities, who would not let his prisoners go home?"
The passage expressly refers to a "king of Babylon", a "man" who seemed all-powerful, but who has been brought low. Isaiah promises that the Israelites will be freed and will then be able to use in a taunting song against their oppressor the image of the Morning Star, which rises at dawn as the brightest of the stars, outshining Jupiter and Saturn, but lasting only until the sun appears. This image was used in an old popular Canaanite story that the Morning Star tried to rise high above the clouds and establish himself on the mountain where the gods assembled, in the far north, but was cast down into the underworld.
The phrase "O Day Star, son of Dawn" in the New Revised Standard Version translation given above corresponds to the Hebrew phrase "הילל בן־שׁחר" (heilel ben-shachar) in verse 12, meaning "morning star, son of dawn". As the Latin poets personified the Morning Star and the Dawn (Aurora), as well as the Sun and the Moon and other heavenly bodies, so in Canaanite mythology Morning Star and Dawn were pictured as two deities, the former being the son of the latter.
In the Vulgate, Jerome translated "הילל בן־שׁחר" (morning star, son of dawn) as "lucifer qui mane oriebaris" (morning star that used to rise early). Already, as early as the Christian writers Tertullian and Origen, the whole passage had come to be applied to Satan. Satan began to be referred to as "Lucifer" (Morning Star), and finally the word "Lucifer" was treated as a proper name. The use of the word "Lucifer" in the 1611 King James Version instead of a word such as "Daystar" ensured its continued popularity among English speakers.
Most modern English versions of the Bible (including the NIV, NRSV, NASB, NJB and ESV) render the Hebrew word as "day star", "morning star" or something similar, and never as "Lucifer", a word that in English is now very rarely used in the sense of the original word in Hebrew, though in Latin "Lucifer" was a literal translation.

Satan as Lucifer

The Jewish Encyclopedia states that the Lucifer myth was transferred to Satan already in the pre-Christian century, citing in support of this view the Life of Adam and Eve and the Slavonic Book of Enoch 29:4, 31:4, where Satan-Sataniel (Samael?) is described as having been one of the archangels. Because he contrived "to make his throne higher than the clouds over the earth and resemble 'My power' on high", Satan-Sataniel was hurled down, with his hosts of angels, and since then he has been flying in the air continually above the abyss. It too has been applied to Lucifer/Satan, because of some of the expressions contained in it. But, since it does not contain the image of the morning star, discussion of it belongs rather to the article on Satan than to that on Lucifer.
The same holds for the picture of Satan in other books of the Old Testament as, for instance, in the book of Job, where Satan, who has been wandering the earth, has a discussion with God and makes a deal with him to test Job.
Joseph Campbell (1972: p.148-149) illustrates an unorthodox Islamic reading of Lucifer's fall from Heaven which champions Lucifer's eclipsing love for God:
One of the most amazing images of love that I know is Persian – a mystical Persian representation as Satan as the most loyal lover of God. You will have heard the old legend of how, when God created the angels, he commanded them to pay worship to no one but himself; but then, creating man, he commanded them to bow in reverence to this most noble of his works, and Lucifer refused – because, we are told, of his pride. However, according to this Muslim reading of his case, it was rather because he loved and adored God so deeply and intensely that he could not bring himself to bow before anything else, and because he refused to bow down to something that was of less superiority than him. (Since he was made of fire, and man from clay.) And it was for that that he was flung into Hell, condemned to exist there forever, apart from his love.
This interpretation of the satanic rebellion described in the Quran is seen by some Sufi teachers such as Mansur Al-Hallaj (in his 'Tawasin') as a predestined scenario in which Iblis-Shaitan plays the role of tragic and jealous lover who, unable to perceive the Divine Image in Adam and capable only of seeing the exterior, disobeyed the divine mandate to bow down. His refusal (according to the Tawasin) was due to a misconceived idea of God's uniqueness and because of his refusal to abandon himself to God in love. Hallaj criticized the staleness of Iblis' adoration. Excerpts from Sufi texts expounding this interpretation have been included along with many other viewpoints on Shaitan (by no means all of them apologetic) in an important anthology of Sufi texts edited by Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, head of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.
The Sufi teacher Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan taught that 'Luciferian Light' is Light which has become dislocated from the Divine Source and is thus associated with the seductive false light of the lower ego which lures humankind into self-centred delusion. Here Lucifer represents what the Sufis term the 'Nafs', the ego.
Liberal Christian scholars often deny altogether the existence of a personal being called "Satan", rendering the Lucifer story irrelevant. They argue that the name Satan itself (Hebrew: שׂטָן) merely means "adversary" or "accuser", which may be a personification.

Mentions of the Morning Star in the Bible

In the Latin Vulgate the word "Lucifer" was used twice to refer to the Morning Star: once for "הילל" (hêlēl) in Bible verse |Isaiah|14:12 and once for the Greek word "φωσφόρος" (phosphoros) in Bible verse 2|Peter|1:19.
"Lucifer" (Morning Star) also appears twice in the Vulgate translation of the Book of Job, once to represent the word "בקר" (which instead means "morning") in Bible verse |Job|11:17, and once for the word "מזרות" (usually taken to mean "the constellations") in Bible verse |Job|38:32; and it appears also in Bible verse |Psalms|110:3 for "שׁחר" (dawn, the same word as in Bible verse |Isaiah|14:12).
Two references to the Morning Star in the Book of Revelation are not represented in the Vulgate by "lucifer". In both cases a circumlocution is used in the original Greek text, instead of the simple term "φωσφόρος", and a corresponding circumlocution is used in the Latin. Thus "stella matutina" is used for "ὁ ἀστὴρ ὁ πρωϊνός" in Bible verse |Revelation|2:28 and . (In the latter case some Greek manuscripts have the adjective "ὀρθρινός" instead of " πρωϊνός".)

Astronomical significance

Because the planet Venus (Lucifer) is an inferior planet, meaning that its orbit lies between the orbit of the Earth and the Sun, it can never rise high in the sky at night as seen from Earth. It can be seen in the eastern morning sky for an hour or so before the Sun rises, and in the western evening sky for an hour or so after the Sun sets, but never during the dark of midnight.
It is the brightest object in the sky after the Sun and the Moon. As bright and as brilliant as it is, ancient people couldn't understand why they couldn't see it at midnight like the outer planets, or during midday, like the Sun and Moon. It outshines the planets Saturn and Jupiter, which do last all night, but soon disappears. Some believe they invented myths that Lucifer wanted to take over the thrones or status of the gods Saturn and Jupiter, as a result of which Lucifer was cast out from heaven.

Non-Biblical use of the title "Morning Star"

"Morning Star" appears to have been used as a poetic description of Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II in 968. Liutprand, bishop of Cremona, reported the greeting sung to the emperor arriving at Hagia Sophia: "Behold the morning star approaches Eos rises; he reflects in his glances the rays of the sun – he the pale death of the Saracens, Nicephorus the ruler."

Alleged connection with Freemasonry

Léo Taxil (1854-1907) originated a perception that Freemasonry was associated with worshipping Lucifer. In what is known as the Taxil hoax, he claimed that leading Freemason Albert Pike had addressed "The 23 Supreme Confederated Councils of the world" (Taxil's invention), instructing them that Lucifer was God, and was in opposition to the evil god Adonai. Taxil also promoted a book by Diana Vaughan (actually written by him) that purported to reveal a highly secret ruling body called the Palladium which controlled the organization and had a Satanic agenda. As described by Freemasonry Disclosed in 1897:
With frightening cynicism, the miserable person we shall not name here [Taxil] declared before an assembly especially convened for him that for twelve years he had prepared and carried out to the end the most sacrilegious of hoaxes. We have always been careful to publish special articles concerning Palladism and Diana Vaughan. We are now giving in this issue a complete list of these articles, which can now be considered as not having existed.
Despite the fraud having been revealed for over a century, Pike's spurious address and other details of the hoax continue to be quoted by anti-masonic groups.
Arthur Edward Waite wrote an exposé of this hoax, titled Devil-Worship in France, producing evidence that it was what today we would call a tabloid story, replete with logical and factual inconsistencies.
See also "Lucifer and Satan" at the Grand Lodge of British Columbia and Yukon website.

Occult beliefs

In the modern occultism of Madeline Montalban (died 1982) Lucifer's identification as the Morning Star (Venus) equates him with Lumiel, whom she regarded as the Archangel of Light, and among Satanists he is seen as The "Torch of Baphomet" and Azazel. In this modern occult teaching, an obvious appropriation of Christian soteriology, it is stated that it is Lucifer's destiny to incarnate in human form at certain key times in world history as a saviour and redeemer for humanity. A symbol for this process is the Tudor Rose. The Tudor Rose can be red, representing Lucifer, or white representing Lilith. The Tau cross is also a symbol of Lumiel/Lucifer and his role as an avatar for the human race.
In the Satanic Bible of 1969 Lucifer is acknowledged as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell, particularly that of the East. Lord of the Air, Lucifer has been named "Bringer of Light, the Morning Star, Intellectualism, Enlightenment."

Other meanings

As well as signifying the archangel cast from heaven for leading a revolt of angels, and the planet Venus in its appearance as the Morning Star, the word "lucifer" has been used in English with reference to a friction match.
Luciferin is a pigment in bioluminescent animals, such as fireflies or certain marine crustaceans, that produces an almost heatless, bluish-green light when oxidized.
Luciferase is an enzyme that catalyzes the oxidation of luciferin.



  • Campbell, Joseph (1972). Myths To Live By. A Condor Book: Souvenir Press (Educational & Academic) Ltd. ISBN 0-285-64731-8
Lucifer in Arabic: لوسيفر (مصطلح)
Lucifer in Bulgarian: Луцифер
Lucifer in Czech: Lucifer
Lucifer in Danish: Lucifer
Lucifer in German: Luzifer
Lucifer in Estonian: Lucifer
Lucifer in Spanish: Lucifer
Lucifer in Esperanto: Lucifero
Lucifer in French: Lucifer
Lucifer in Korean: 루치펠
Lucifer in Italian: Lucifero
Lucifer in Hebrew: לוציפר
Lucifer in Latin: Lucifer
Lucifer in Latvian: Lucifers
Lucifer in Lithuanian: Liuciferis
Lucifer in Hungarian: Lucifer
Lucifer in Dutch: Lucifer (Satan)
Lucifer in Japanese: ルシファー
Lucifer in Norwegian: Lucifer
Lucifer in Polish: Lucyfer
Lucifer in Portuguese: Lúcifer
Lucifer in Romanian: Lucifer
Lucifer in Russian: Люцифер
Lucifer in Simple English: Lucifer
Lucifer in Slovenian: Lucifer
Lucifer in Finnish: Lucifer
Lucifer in Swedish: Lucifer
Lucifer in Thai: ลูซิเฟอร์
Lucifer in Chinese: 路西法

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Aldebaran, Apollyon, Beelzebub, Canicula, Dog Star, Hesper, Hesperus, His Satanic Majesty, North Star, Old Nick, Old Scratch, Phosphor, Phosphorus, Polaris, Satan, Satanas, Sirius, Venus, Vesper, celestial body, comet, daystar, devil, diablo, evening star, fiend, fixed stars, heavenly body, living sapphires, lodestar, morning star, orb, polar star, polestar, serpent, sphere, starry host, stars, the Adversary, the Arch-fiend, the Common Enemy, the Demon, the Devil, the Devil Incarnate, the Evil One, the Evil Spirit, the Fiend, the Foul Fiend, the Old Enemy, the Old Serpent, the Tempter, the Wicked One, the archenemy, the serpent
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