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The Name "Lucifer"

Author: Frank W. Nelte

In the English version of the Bible the name "Lucifer" appears only one time--in Isaiah 14:12.
This reads:
1. "How are you fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning..."
2. "Lucifer" is not an English word, but a Latin word. The question is: who gave the world
this Latin name?
3. In A.D. 382 Pope Damascus commissioned the scholar Jerome to make an official revision
of the Latin versions of the Bible that were floating around in the Catholic Church. Jerome
went off to a cave in Bethlehem where he proceeded to make his translation, supposedly
based on the Hebrew text, but in practice based very largely on the Septuagint version (i.e.
"LXX") that Origen had produced about 140 years earlier while in Caesarea. (The truth about
the LXX is another subject that I have discussed in a separate paper.)
Anyway, by A.D. 405 Jerome had completed his work, which we today know as "The Latin
Vulgate" Bible. It is far from an infallibly accurate translation of the original texts. Rather, it
is an interpretation of thought put into idiomatic, graceful Latin!
For a thousand years this Translation was without a rival--and herein lies the problem!
4. Jerome had understood that Isaiah 14:12 is talking about Satan. There the Hebrew word
"heylel" is used and Jerome translated this into Latin as "lucifer"!
This is a mistranslation!!!
5. The word "Lucifer" comes from 2 Latin words:
Lux (=light) + ferous (=to bear or carry). Thus the name "Lucifer" means:Light-bearer or
But this is not what the Hebrew word "heylel" means! We'll see later exactly what this word
does mean.
6. Anyway, as a result of this Latin Vulgate translation, which was almost the only version of
the Bible in use throughout Europe for the next 1000 years, Satan popularly became known
as Lucifer. It should be self-evident that when the first people who translated the Bible into
English came along, one of their paradigms was that the name "Lucifer" applied to Satan.
When they came to translate Isaiah 14:12 into English, they decided that rather than actually
"translate" the word "Heylel," they would simply substitute it with the already well-known
(originally) Latin name "Lucifer." And they could do this because on the surface this seems to
be a reasonably accurate translation. But it isn't really!

7. I mentioned earlier that the word "Lucifer" appears only once in the English versions of the
Bible. But in the Latin Vulgate translation of Jerome it appears twice! That's right, twice!
Where else is this word used and who does it refer to? Jerome certainly knew who it refers to.
This knowledge also casts a dark cloud over his intentional use in Isaiah 14:12!
8. 2 Peter 1:19 reads : "...until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts." this is
another mistranslation!!!
The two words "day star" are a translation of the one Greek word "phosphoros." This comes
from the two Greek words:
Phos (=light) + phero (=to bear or carry). Thus the Greek word "phosphoros" means Lightbearer or Light-bringer.
Anyone who knows both, Greek and Latin, can verify that the Greek word "Phosphoros" and
the Latin word "Lucifer" are absolutely, one hundred percent identical in meaning. "Lucifer"
is the perfect translation into Latin of the Greek word "Phosphoros."
9. Now let's note the dishonesty, first of the English translators and then of Jerome-All of the English translators of the Bible know very well that the word "Phosphoros" in 2
Peter 1:19 can be perfectly accurately translated by the word "Lucifer." Instead they have
chosen to deliberately obscure this fact. Why?
They knew very well that 2 Peter 1:19 refers without doubt to Jesus Christ. This verse calls
Jesus Christ "Phosphoros" (in Greek) or "Lucifer" (in Latin). Yet the translators have hidden
this fact behind the words "day star." The facts are that "Phosphoros" has absolutely nothing
to do with either "day" or "star"! The translators simply borrowed a term that is elsewhere
used for Christ--namely "morning star" in Revelation 2:28 (Greek = proinos + aster) and in
Revelation 22:16 (Greek = orthrinos + aster).
To translate "phosphoros" as "day star" is plain dishonesty!!!
10. Now let's look at Jerome. The phrases quoted under point #8 above are translated by
Jerome into Latin as follows:
"...donec dies elucescat et lucifer oriatur in cordibus vestris."
Notice that Jerome correctly translated the Greek "phosphoros" into the Latin word "lucifer."
Jerome obviously knew that this verse refers to Jesus Christ--yet he wrote "lucifer" with a
small "l" and did not capitalize the word. He also knew that he had translated the word
"phosphoros" perfectly into Latin.
With this write-up I am including photo-copies of 2 peter 1:19 and Isaiah 14:12 from the
Latin vulgate. (Comment: that is what I sent to Pasadena with the original write-up I sent
through to them about 4-5 years ago. I can't really put photo-copies on Internet ).
Jerome knew that in the New Testament "Lucifer" is a title for Jesus Christ; yet he still chose
to also translate the less- clearly defined Hebrew word "Heylel" in Isaiah 14:12 as "Lucifer,"

knowing that this word referred to Satan--and here Jerome started the word with a capital
"L," as can be seen from the enclosed photo-copies.
So with Jerome Satan gets a name that refers to Christ with a capital letter--and Christ gets
His own name only with a small letter.
11. Now let's look at the Hebrew word "heylel"-It is used only once in the Bible, in Isaiah 14:12. That does not give us any further insight.
But "Heylel" is derived from the primitive root word "halal" It is this word that gives us
understanding of what "Heylel" really means. I might add here that this is also the only way
that Jerome and the English translators could come to an understanding of what "Heylel"
means--by clearly understanding the meaning of the word that "Heylel" is derived from, since
it is only used one single time.
12. "Halal" is used 165 times in the Old Testament and it is translated as follows in the KJV:
117 times = Praise
14 times = Glory
10 times = Boast
8 times = Mad
3 times = Shine(d)
3 times = Foolish
2 times = Fools
2 times = Commended
2 times = Rage
1 time = Celebrate
1 time = Give
1 time = Marriage
1 time = Renowned
This should make clear that the translators felt they should attach over a dozen different
meanings to this word "Halal." The meanings are both, good and bad; both, positive and
There is no question that this word has a good, positive meaning. But neither is there any
question that it also has a bad, negative meaning. Jerome, without the slightest proof
available to him, decided to give the word "Heylel" a good, positive meaning. All the major
translators into English have simply followed Jerome's lead, who was working for Pope
Damascus, remember?
Anyone who has studied what God tells us about Satan, should realize immediately that Satan
is--"mad, boastful, a fool and foolish and he does rage." These words with which "Halal" is
translated in numerous places, fit Satan perfectly.
The very next verses in Isaiah show Satan boasting! Read Isaiah 14:13 - 14! That is why God
calls him "heylel"--because he boasted!! What could be plainer?

"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" (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Satan's "boasting" is so very obvious in these verses!
13. Now here are some of the places where "Halal" is translated as:

"Mad" = 1 Samuel 21:13; Psalms 102:8; Ecclesiastes 2:2; 7:7; Isaiah 44:25; Jeremiah
25:16; 50:38; 51:7;

"Fools" = Job 12:17; Psalms 75:4;

"Foolish" = Psalms 5:5; 73:3; 75:4;

"Rage" = Jer 46:9; Nahum 2:4;

"Boast" = 1 Kings 20:11; Psalms 10:3; 34:2; 44:8; 49:6; 52:1; 97:7; Proverbs 20:14;
25:14; 27:1.

14. It should be very clear by now that "Heylel" has nothing to do with the words "Star" or
"Day" or "Morning" or "Bringing" or "Carrying." Notice also that he is "the son (Hebrew =
the product) of the morning" (Isaiah 14:12). Christ is the Morning Star and it is He who
created Satan. And Satan has deceived all of mankind into giving him the exalted title, which
is what it really is, and which rightfully belongs to Jesus Christ, of "Light-Bringer." One clear
fulfilment of Revelation 12:9--.
15. Paul explained this in 2 Corinthians 11:14, where he tells us: "...for Satan himself is
transformed (Greek = disguised) into an angel of light." Do you grasp this? He has deceived
the world into believing that Isaiah 14:12 tells us that he used to hold Christ's job ( as per 2
Peter 1:19)--that he used to be an angel who was a "Light-bringer."
16. Once you get rid of the old paradigm that "Lucifer is a name that used to refer to Satan"
and grasp that the Bible identifies Christ as "Lucifer" (or "Phosphoros" in Greek), the Lightbringer, then you'll be surprised how many scriptures literally flood into your mind in support
of this--. e.g.

John 8:12 = "I am the light of the world..."

John 3:19 = "...that light is come into the world..."

John 1:4 - 8 = " Him was...the light of men..."

John 12:36 = "...believe in the light..." etc., etc..

17. We need to understand that God has absolutely no reason to reveal Satan's previous name
to us. Why should we have to know it? (Apart from Ezekiel 28:12-15) nowhere in the bible is
anything good said about Satan!! Notice that in Ezekiel 28, where God does speak about
Satan's existence before the creation of man, God reveals that Satan had been an anointed

cherub--but God does not use any name that previously applied to Satan. Why not? If it was a
"good" name that we should know about, it would have fitted perfectly into this description
of Satan's prior glory. But Ezekiel 28 carefully avoids hinting at any previous name. And so
why should Isaiah 14:12 be an exception--by giving us a lofty title that supposedly belonged
to Satan at one time, and which Peter in fact tells us is Christ's title?
Whatever name Satan may have had previously is totally blotted out before God--it is as
though Satan never ever had that name. That's what sin does--it totally blots out any memory
of any good that went before. That's what God tells us in Ezekiel 3:20 and 18:24 and 33:13. If
the righteous turns away from God, then--"all his righteousness shall not be remembered."
Isn't this plain enough? After Satan sinned, why should God want us to know about Satan's
supposed "good name" from a previous time???
Understand this: even if "Lucifer" really had at one stage been Satan's name, God still would
not want us to use it in reference to Satan! It is God who reveals Satan to us by the name
"Satan"! And it is God who reveals Satan as a braggart in Isaiah 14:12-14.
18. Satan is the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4) who has blinded the minds of people. He
has churches and ministers who disguise themselves as "...the ministers of righteousness" (2
Corinthians 11:15), a plain reference to them disguising themselves as "Christians." Satan's
universal ("catholic") church gave Satan one of Christ's names by means of a mistranslation
from the Hebrew into Latin. Jerome was clearly working for Satan when he converted the
Greek word "Phosphoros," used in 2 Peter 1:19 for Jesus Christ, into a personal name for
Satan in the Old Testament. Jerome knew that "Phosphoros" refers to Christ. If he really was
a Hebrew scholar, as is generally claimed, then he also knew that "Halal" also has negative
connotations like "mad, boast, foolish," etc. because he would have had to translate this word
into Latin 165 times. Did Jerome really not understand the context of boasting in this
For over 1000 years this name was used for Satan in the western world. It was placed above
question as a former name for Satan. So translators and students of the Biblical languages and
of Latin have also accepted this as a fact that should not be questioned. Satan clearly does not
want his "right" to the name "Lucifer" questioned. Those who use it for Satan show they are
"worshipping" Satan--by attributing one of Christ's names to Satan.
I could carry on with some more points, but I feel that the above information should suffice to
understand that Satan is never referred to as "lucifer" in the Word of God. So what about
you--will you continue to refer to Satan as having once been called "Lucifer"?? You now
know the facts!
Frank W. Nelte


Dear Reader, Now that we have your attention, may we also make note that since, You now
know the facts!, you may be even more interested in knowing the rest of the story.
As the above author wrote:

Once you get rid of the old paradigm that "Lucifer is a name that used to refer to
Satan" and grasp that the Bible identifies Christ as "Lucifer" (or "Phosphoros" in
Greek), the Light-bringer, then you'll be surprised how many scriptures literally flood
into your mind in support of this--. e.g.
We can now add, without the preconceived notion that Lucifer is a prior name for Satan,
that we have removed the reason for placing Satan into Isaiah 14:12 in the first place.
Concerning Is. 14:!2 please note the authors statement:
Anyone who has studied what God tells us about Satan, should realize immediately
that Satan is--"mad, boastful, a fool and foolish and he does rage." These words with
which "Halal" is translated in numerous places fit Satan perfectly.
The following is also true of the King of Babylon! So why substitute Satan for this human
king without cause? If you think that this is cause:
"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" (Isaiah 14:13-14).
Then be aware that in the Hebrew culture of that day, these were all expressions of bravado
and pride used to denote supremacy over Israel.
I will ascend into heaven does not mean what we think it does in English. It simply means
that his power was far reaching and he dominated many formerly strong nations.
I will exalt my throne above the stars of God has nothing to do with outer space, but with
ruling over the royalty of Judah.
I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, likewise, rule over the House of
I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most high" is pure
boastfulness and vanity and hyperbole related to his sovereignty and spread of his empire.
To borrow from the above author, That is why God calls him "heylel"--because he boasted!!
What could be plainer?
For a Scriptural examination of the story of and behind the satan found in the bible, please
see the article entitled, Sin and Satanelsewhere on this website.
Then, when you have encountered further questions, please forward them to Richard Fix at
the email address offered on the website.

Sin and Satan

by Nehemia Gordon

In the fourth chapter of Genesis we read about the first

murder committed by Cain who slew his brother Abel. Cain and
Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, both offered sacrifices to God.
The shepherd Abel offered the firstborn of his flocks while the
farmer Cain offered the firstfruits of his crops (Gen 4:3-4). The
brothers' sacrifices were not received equally as we read, "(4)
And YHWH gazed upon Abel and his offering, (5) but upon
Cain and his offering he did not gaze" . What does it mean
that God gazed upon Abel's sacrifice and how did Cain know that
his sacrifice was not gazed upon? One explanation that has been
suggested is that when Abel presented his offering, a fire came
down from heaven and burnt it up, while nothing happened to
Cain's offering. This sort of heavenly fire is know from a number
of biblical accounts and was apparently the norm in Tabernacle
and Temple times. For example, we read concerning David's
offerings, "And David built there an altar to YHWH and offered up
whole burnt offerings and peace-offerings; and he called unto
YHWH and He answered him with a fire from heaven upon the
sacrificial altar" (1Chr 21:26). David prayed to God to accept his
sacrifice and the response was a heavenly fire that burnt it up.
The heavenly fire also burnt up the offerings of Solomon, as we
read: "And it was when Solomon finished praying that the fire
descended from heaven and consumed the whole-burnt-offering
and the meat sacrifices" (2Chr 7:1). Again we see that a sacrifice,
accompanied by prayer is accepted by a heavenly fire consuming
the offering. The same heavenly fire consumed Elijah's sacrifice
on Mt. Carmel (1Ki 18:24.36-39). Thus one explanation of the
gazing upon Abel's sacrifice is that a fire came down from heaven
burning it up, an indication that God accepted him and his
offering. In contrast, Cain's offering was not burnt up, indicating
that God was not pleased with him.
Of course, Scripture does not tell us precisely how God's
gazing was expressed and whether it was a heavenly fire or some
other sign or indication, Cain realized that God was pleased with
his brother but not with him. Cain quickly became jealous of his
brother and suffered all the emotions associated with that
jealousy, as we read, "And Cain was very angered and he became

depressed (literally: his face fell)" (Gen 4:5). God revealed himself
to Cain and told him he had no reason to be jealous, "And YHWH
said to Cain, why are you angry and why are you depressed? If
you do good, forgiveness; but if you do not do good, sin crouches
at the door, and its desire is toward you, but you can rule over it."
God tells Cain he has no reason to be angry or depressed since he
can improve his own situation through his behavior. Yes, God is
displeased with Cain, but if he acts righteously he will be
forgiven. The word" forgiveness" has often been
misunderstood. The word derives from the Hebrew root which
literally means "to lift up, to take" and hence "to take away sin, to
forgive". For example, Jacob instructs his sons to ask forgiveness
from their brother, "Thus shall you say to Joseph, Forgive ,
now, the transgression of your brothers" (Gen 50:17). Similarly,
Moses prays that YHWH forgive Israel for the sin of the golden
calf, "And now, surely you shall forgive their sin and if not
erase me, now, from your book that you have written" (Ex 32:32).
The infinitive form of the verb, , means "forgiveness".1 God is
explaining to Cain that if he "does good", he will receive
forgiveness and be acceptable to God.
To "do good" means to act righteously. In Hebrew the word
"good" is both an adjective (good person, good food) and a verb
"good" (to do good). Apparently failing to understand this, the
King James Version translates "good" as an adverb, "If you do
well". This translation leaves the reader wondering: "If you do
what well"? The Hebrew contains no such ambiguity. What Cain is
instructed to do is "goodness", that is, righteous action. God is
teaching Cain that if he acts righteously, he will be forgiven and
acceptable to God.

Sin Crouches at the Door

God also explains to Cain, "if you do not do good, sin crouches
at the door, and its desire is toward you, but you can rule over it."
Sin is personified as a wild beast that lies in wait for Cain to leave
the comfort and safety of his dwelling place. The wild beast is
ever ready to pounce. If Cain sins, the wild beast will lust for him
and will surely attack him, 1 In Biblical Hebrew the infinitive construct
form usually expresses the abstract idea of the verb. For example, the root
means "to create"; the infinitive construct form means "creation". but he

can still rule over the wild beast. What this extended metaphor
means is that if a person sins, sin will desire him and will look for
a way to make him sin further. Thus the consequence of sin is
being placed in a situation that will lead to further sin. But we can
avoid this further sin by controlling ourselves and not giving in to

Sin as a Punishment for Sin

God taught Cain an important lesson, that the consequence of

sin is further sin. This is what is meant by the verse, "The wage of
the righteous man is life, while the fruit of the evildoer is sin"
(Prov 10:16). Just as the righteous man reaps life as his reward,
the sinner reaps further sin as his punishment. The ultimate
punishment of the sinner will be magnified if he continues to sin,
so being placed in a position that will lead to sin is itself form of
punishment. This is also the meaning of the proverb, "He that
sows sin will reap iniquity" (Prov 22:8). The concept of sin being
punished by being placed in a situation that leads to further sin
has a prominent place in the Torah. We are informed in the 28 th
chapter of Deuteronomy that the punishment for not keeping the
covenant of the Torah is exile. Exile is not only a physical
banishment; it also means being spiritual cut off from God and
placed in a position that may lead to sin. Thus we read, "YHWH
will bring you... to a nation which you have not known... and
there you shall worship other gods, of wood and stone." (Dt
28:36). If we violate His commandments we will be taken to a
strange land where we will be forced to worship idols. Thus one of
the punishments for sin is being placed in a position that will lead
to further sin.

Sin and Satan?

In God's warning to Cain, sin is described as a wild beast that
seeks to cause man to sin. When we sin, the beast lusts for us
and tries to make us sin even more. But we always have the
power to resist sin, no matter how great the temptation. Is sin
really a beast of prey that lusts for mankind to sin or is this just a
metaphor? Can we identify the sin beast of Gen 4:7 Satan? For
that matter, is there really an angel named Satan that rebelled
against God and who desires for men to join him in his unholy
struggle? To understand the biblical concept of Satan we must of
course look at how the Hebrew word translated as Satan is used
throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. In the King James translation
we find a character named Satan mentioned 19 times. However,
the Hebrew word for Satan . . appears a total of 35 times in
the Hebrew Scriptures. 2 It is immediately apparent that no
understanding of the biblical concept of Satan can be attained
without reference to the Hebrew text.

The Meaning of satan

The Hebrew word . . means "enemy, adversary". It is used
in this sense numerous times in the Hebrew Scriptures to refer to
human adversaries. For example, we read, "And YHWH raised up
a satan (enemy) for Solomon, Hadad the Edomite, who was of the
royal seed in Edom" (1Ki 11:14). And again, "(23) And God raised
him up a satan (enemy), Rezon son of Elyada... (25) and he was a

satan (enemy) to Israel all the days of Solomon..." (1Ki 11:23-25).

We see that both Hadad the Edomite and Rezon son of Elyada
were satans of Israel, that is, they were enemies of Israel. These
two were not the only humans described as satans (enemies). The
Philistine nobles warned Achish the Gittite that David should not
be allowed to join them in their invasion of Israel, "that he not be
for us a satan (enemy) in war" (1Sam 29:4), that is, they were
concerned that David would turn against them in the middle of a
battle and become their enemy. So King David, the anointed of
YHWH, was a satan (enemy) to the Phillistines. King David himself
accused the sons of Tseruya of being his satan (enemy) (2Sam
19:23). Any act of enmity can be described as being a satan
(enemy). The psalmist complains to God about "those that repay
me evil for good, and are satans (enemies) to me instead of
seeking my well-being" (Ps 38:21). And again, "instead of loving
me, they are satans (enemies) to me" (Ps 109:4). Ps 71:13 speaks
of "those that are satans (enemies) to my 2 Gen 26:21; Nu 22:22, 32;
1Sam 29:4; 2Sam 19:23; 1Ki 5:18, 11:14, 23, 25; Zech 3:1 (twice), 2 (twice); Ps
38:21, 71:13, 109:4, 6, 20, 29; Job 1:6, 7 (twice), 8, 9, 12 (twice), 2:1, 2 (twice),
3, 4, 6, 7; Ezra 4:6; 1Chr 21:1 soul", Ps 109:20 of "my satans

(enemies)... those that speak evil of my soul", and Ps 109:29 of

"my satans (enemies)". Our forefather Jacob dug a well which he
named sitnah (enmity) after his shepherds quarreled with
the Shepherds of Gerar. The enemies of Israel sent king
Nebuchadnezzar "a letter of sitnah (enmity) against the
inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem". We see that a satan is quite
simply an enemy, someone who hates and seeks harm. A satan is
not even necessarily evil since King David was a satan (enemy) to
the evil Phillistines.

Angelic Satans
Up till now we have only seen references to human satans,
but what of angelic satans? The first angelic satan (enemy) to
appear in the Hebrew Scriptures is in the account of the Gentile
prophet Bil'am (Balaam). Bil'am had been invited by the Moabite
king Balak to curse Israel but God instructed Bil'am not to agree
to Balak's request (Nu 22:12). Bil'am would not take no for an
answer and God eventually agreed that he may go to meet with
Balak but not to curse Israel (Nu 22:22). Apparently Bil'am had
other ideas and set off to curse Israel anyway. God was
displeased by this and sent a satanic angel against Bil'am, "And
the anger of God burned, for he (Bil'am) was going. And an angel
( ) of YHWH stood in the way as a satan (enemy) to him
(Bil'am)" (Nu 22:22). We see the angel of YHWH is called a satan
(enemy). The account continues that the satanic angel of YHWH
drew his sword to kill Bil'am. Seeing the angel, Bil'am's ass
turned out of the way of the satanic angel three times until there
was nowhere else to turn. Not knowing why the ass turned off the
main path, Bil'am beat her. Eventually God revealed His satanic

angel to Bil'am, "And YHWH revealed to the eyes of Bil'am and he

saw the angel of YHWH standing in the path with his sword drawn
in his hand... and the angel of YHWH said to him, why did you hit
your ass these three times, behold I went out as a satan
(enemy)... and the ass saw me and turned away from me three
times; had she not turned away from me, I would have surely
killed you and let her live." (Nu 22:31-33). Bil'am responds to the
satanic angel with sincere remorse, "And Bil'am said to the angel
of YHWH, I have sinned for I did not know that you are standing in
front of me on the way, and now, if it is evil in your eyes, I will
turn myself back" (Nu 22:24). Bil'am says to the satanic angel
that if he has done evil by going with the Moabites he will readily
stop what he is doing and go back home. The satanic angel
responds, "And the angel of YHWH said to Bil'am, Go with the
men, but only the word which I speak to you, speak to them" (Nu
22:35). Bil'am can continue on his mission but he must be certain
only to speak that which God tells him.
We see that the angel of YHWH is called a satan. This satanic
angel is not out to win minions for his unholy war against God. On
the contrary, he is God's angel. The Hebrew word for angel is
mal'ach which means "messenger". The representatives
sent by Balak to Bil'am are also called mal'achim
"messengers" (Nu 22:5). The satanic angel in the Bil'am Account
is simply YHWH's messenger who does what YHWH sends him to
That the satanic angel is YHWH's messenger is also clear from
the fact that he speaks the message of God both as himself, and
as if he were God. Thus we read, "And the angel of YHWH said to
Bil'am, Go with the men, but only the word which I speak to you,
speak to them" (Nu 22:35). The satanic angel refers to the words
that YHWH will speak to Bil'am as "the word which I will speak to
you". This is because the satanic angel is speaking the words that
God told him to speak, which is after all the role of the
messenger. The messengers of Balak did the same thing when
they spoke to Bil'am, "And he sent messenger to Bil'am...
saying, Behold a people has gone out of Egypt, behold he covers
the face of the earth and dwells across from me." (Nu 22:5). The
messengers of Balak refer to Israel as a nation that "dwells across
from me", the "me" being Balak. Thus they spoke the words of
Balak in the first person (I/ me) as if Balak himself were saying
them, in the same way as the satanic angel speaks the words of
God in the first person as if God were saying them.
While the satanic angel spoke the words of God, he was not
himself God. When he says, "behold I went out as a satan
(enemy)" (Nu 22:32) he is speaking about himself, the angel, not
YHWH. It was the practice of the ancient messengers to freely

switch off between speaking their message as if they were the

sender and speaking it as themselves. The prophets of YHWH also
spoke the message of YHWH in these two manners. For example,
we read in the book of Hosea, "the offerings of My gifts they
slaughter as meat and eat; YHWH shall not accept them, now he
shall remember their iniquity and repay their sins" (Hos 8:13).
Hosea, speaking the words of God, refers to the animals donated
to the Temple as "the offerings of My gifts". Rather than bring
these gifts to the Temple, the Israelites sin by eating them as
meat. Hosea explains that "YHWH will not accept them, now he
will remember their iniquity". We see that Hosea freely switches
in mid-sentence between speaking as if he were YHWH ("My
gifts") and speaking as himself ("YHWH will not accept"). In both
instances Hosea is speaking the message of YHWH, he is simply
presenting it in two different manners of presentation. The
satanic angel in the Bil'am Account employs this same dual
mannerism. He speaks about himself, the angel, in the first
person, and in the next breath speaks the words of God in the
first person. Just like Hosea and other prophets, the satanic angel
switches between speaking as the messenger and speaking as
the sender.
The satanic angel that was sent to harm Bil'am did not desire
for Bil'am to sin. He was not a tempter, and on the contrary, he
ordered Bil'am not to defy God (Nu 22:35). The satanic angel in
the Bil'am Account was simply a messenger of God, and like
human messengers, could speak the words of God in first person
as if he were God. Clearly this satan was not a rebellious angel
seeking to establish a kingdom of evil. He was called a satan
(enemy) because he was sent to slay Bil'am, as a punishment for
defying God's explicit order not to go to Balak for the purpose of
cursing Israel. We see that an angel sent to cause harm to human
beings can be referred to as a satan (enemy). The satanic angel is
not an enemy of God, but His messenger. An enemy causes harm
so the angel that causes harm to human beings is called a satan

A Satan on His Right Hand

The next appearance of a satanic angel is in the book of
Zechariah. The prophet Zechariah sees two angels standing near
the high priest, "And he showed me Joshua the high priest
standing before the angel of YHWH, and the satan (enemy)
standing upon his right to be a satan (enemy) to him" (Zech 3:1).
Zechariah sees a satanic angel standing on Joshua's right hand as
his enemy. The vision continues, "And YHWH said to the satan
(enemy), YHWH rebukes you satan (enemy), and YHWH rebukes
you he who has chosen Jerusalem, is this one not as a brand
saved from the fire" (Zech 3:2). The satanic angel wants to harm

Joshua the high priest but God calls him off because it would also
cause harm to Jerusalem. Joshua is likened to a brand saved from
the fire, that is, a stick of wood about to be burnt up that is
plucked out of the bonfire. Joshua was supposed to be burnt up
by YHWH's wrath, but YHWH gave him a last minute reprieve, not
for his own sake, but for the sake of Jerusalem. After saving him
from his punishment, Joshua's soiled clothes are removed and he
is dressed in fine robes (Zech 3:4). To wear "soiled clothes" means
to be covered in sin and worthy of punishment (Ps 109:29). God
has forgiven Joshua, cancelled his punishment, and removed his
sin. We see that the satanic angel in Zechariah was sent to punish
the high priest, just as the satanic angel in the Bil'am Account
was sent to punish Bil'am. In both cases the satanic angel is sent
when YHWH's wrath burns ("a brand plucked from the fire") and
in both cases the satanic angel's mission to cause harm is
canceled at the last minute.
Why does YHWH rebuke the satanic angel? If he is no more
than a messenger then why does YHWH not just recall him? Is the
satanic angel there out of his own initiative? There is only one
other place in scripture that speaks about a satanic angel on
someone's right hand. In Ps 109:6 King David asks YHWH to
punish those who have harmed him, "Appoint an evildoer over
him, and a satan on his right hand" (Ps 109:6). King David prays
that his enemies be punished by YHWH "appointing" an evil
human to rule over them or a satanic angel who will harm them.
We see that the satanic angel who comes on the right hand to do
harm is "appointed" by YHWH. We should not be surprised that
YHWH rebukes the very satanic angel that He Himself has
appointed to harm Joshua the high priest. The ability to rescind
His own decree of punishment is said to be one of the merciful
traits of YHWH, "But He is merciful, atones sin, not destroying; He
many times turns back his anger ) ( and does not
stir up all his wrath" (Ps 78:38).
YHWH can "turn back his anger" and forgive, canceling the
punishment that he has already decreed. He did this for the
Israelites after they worshipped the golden calf (Ps 106:23). He
also did this for Joshua the high priest who was soiled in sin. Thus
when YHWH rebukes the satanic angel this is an act of "turning
back His anger". The satanic angel was "appointed" on Joshua's
"right hand" to punish him for his sins. But God decided to forgive
him for the sake of Jerusalem and recalled the satanic angel sent
to execute His wrath.

A Satan that Incites to Sin

From what we have seen so far, no connection can be made
between the metaphorical beast that lusted for mankind to sin in

the Cain and Abel Account and the biblical concept of satan. Yet
we do find a number of instances in the Hebrew Scriptures in
which a satanic angel fulfils the role of the wild beast that leads
man to sin. The clearest example of this is the account of the
census of King David. The Torah requires that every person
participating in a census pay a half shekel of silver to the Temple
as "an atonement for his soul to YHWH when they are counted,
that there not be a plague when they are counted" (Ex 30:12).
This is done by writing down the names of all the Israelites who
pay the half shekel and then counting the number of names on
the list (Ex 30:13; Nu 1:2). To simply send around census-takers
to count the people is a grievous sin that will surely bring YHWH's
wrath on the nation. Enter the satanic angel: "And a satan stood
against Israel and he incited David to count Israel." (1Chr 21:1).
David gave in to the satan's incitement and counted Israel which
resulted in a devastating plague that killed thousands.
Was the satan that incited David the mythical fallen angel
locked in a never-ending war with God? David's census is also
mentioned in a parallel account in the book of Samuel. Many of
the accounts in the Books of Samuel and Kings are repeated in
the Book of Chronicles, sometimes verbatim, other times with
complementary information. In the case of the Davidic Census we
find complementary information, "And the anger of YHWH
continued to burn against Israel, and he incited David against
them saying, Go count Israel and Judah." (2Sam 24:1). The book
of Samuel informs us that the one who incited David was YHWH,
while the book of Chronicles attributes this to a satan. We have
already seen in the Bil'am Account that satanic angels are
messengers of YHWH who do His bidding. They can even speak
his words in the first person, like a human messenger or a
prophet. So when we read in one book that YHWH incited Israel
and in the other that a satan incited Israel, we must conclude that
this satan was acting on YHWH's behalf. It is not unusual to
attribute the actions of the messenger to the one who sent him.
The book of Kings tells us that Solomon built the Temple, even
though we can be certain that he never lifted a stone or cut a
piece of wood (1Ki 6:1). But the sender is credited with the action
of the messenger acting on his behalf. The satanic angel incited
David on YHWH's behalf, so it can be said that YHWH incited
David. Chronicles informs us that He did it by sending a satanic
It is worth noting that David was not tempted by the satanic
angel, but incited. To incite (Hebrew: ) means to urge or
otherwise influence someone to do something wrong. For
example, "If your brother... incite you in secret saying, let us go
and worship other gods" (Dt 13:8). We can only guess how the
satanic angel urged David to count the people. From Joab's

reaction (2Sam 24:3; 2Chr 21:3), it seems that David suffered

from a sense of inferiority and wanted to know how many people
he ruled so he could feel mighty. It may have been the satanic
angel who planted this seed of inferiority in David's psyche at
YHWH's behest. Like Cain, David could have controlled his desire
to sin, but he chose to satisfy himself rather than obey God's
Why did God incite David to sin? The book of Samuel tells us,
"And the anger of YHWH continued to burn against Israel, and he
incited David against them" (2Sam 24:1). God was angry at Israel
so he sent a satanic angel to incite David to sin. We may recall
that the satanic angel was also sent against Bil'am because
YHWH was angry with him. When God is angry, he sends satanic
angels to punish mankind. Bil'am was nearly punished by being
struck down by the angel. When God was angry at Israel, rather
than immediately strike them down, he incited David to cause
them to further sin and thereby receive an even greater
punishment. This also gave them an opportunity to resist sinning
and receive forgiveness. This is precisely what God explained to
Cain, "If you do good, forgiveness; but if you do not do good, sin
crouches at the door, and its desire is toward you, but you can
rule over it" (Gen 4:7). If he does righteousness he will be
forgiven; but if he sins, he will be tempted to further sin by a
beast of prey, a satanic angel, sent by God to cause him harm.

The Satanic Angel in Job

The most detailed account of a satanic angel appears in the
book of Job. In the first two chapters of Job we read about two
encounters between YHWH and a satanic angel dubbed
"the enemy". The fact that the angel is called proves that
Satan was not its name. In Biblical Hebrew a proper noun (i.e. a
name) cannot be preceded by the word "the". In Hebrew it is
impossible to say "the David" or "the Jacob". The angel in Job is
called "the satan", which tells us that satan is a description of the
angel, not its name. The angel in Job is "the enemy", that is, the
enemy that will be sent to harm Job.
We read in Job, "And it was the time that the angels (literally:
sons of God) came to stand before YHWH and the satan (enemy)
also came among them" (Job 1:6). God is described as a king
holding royal court. Instead of royal courtiers and officials, the
heavenly court is attended by the "sons of God", the angels,
including the satanic angel that would be sent against Job. The
account continues with an exchange between God and the satanic
angel. God boasts that Job is the most righteous man on earth
and the satanic angel responds that this is only because God has
protected him, "However", suggests the angel, "send your hand

and smite all that he has and he will surely curse you to your
face." (Job 1:11). God agrees and instructs the satanic angel,
"Behold, all that he has is in your hand, only do not send your
hand against him" (Job 1:12). The satanic angel is given
permission to destroy all that Job has but not to touch Job
himself. The satanic angel proceeds to kill Job's children and strip
him of his property. The angel is called a satan not because he is
an enemy of YHWH, but because he is an enemy who harms Job.
In the second chapter of Job, we witness a second encounter
between YHWH and the satanic angel. This time the satanic angel
suggests that YHWH harm Job's body, "Send now your hand and
smite his bone and flesh, he shall surely curse you to your face."
(Job 2:5). God responds by giving the satanic angel permission to
harm Job's person, "Behold he is in your hand, only preserve his
life". Again we see that YHWH smites Job by giving him over to
the hand of his satanic messenger.
To what extent is this satanic angel an independent creature?
Certainly he does not command armies of demons nor is he
engaged in an unholy struggle against YHWH. He can only do
what YHWH allows him to do. While Job is under YHWH's
protection, the satanic angel is powerless to do anything to him.
The satanic angel complains to God, "Have You not made a hedge
around him, his house, and all that he has?" (Job 1:10). When God
wishes to test Job He removes His protection and turns him over
to the satanic angel, just as He did to Bil'am and David. Yet the
actions of this satanic angel are said to be YHWH's actions. The
satanic angel suggests to YHWH, "send Your hand and smite all
that he has". YHWH sends His hand against Job's property by
giving it over to the satanic angel.
Again the sender is credited with the actions of the
messenger. Like the sin beast in the Cain and Abel Account, Job's
satanic angel lay in wait lusting for Job to sin. Thus this satanic
angel's divine mission is not simply to punish mankind, but to get
him to sin so mankind can receive an even greater punishment.
The satanic angel does not do this on his own initiative. He is sent
by YHWH to wander to and fro in the earth and tempt those who
have sinned to sin further or to test those whom YHWH wishes to

We have seen that satanic angels are not enemies of God, but
of mankind. They are not waging an unholy war against God nor
recruiting humans to join an army of darkness. They are simply
messengers who do YHWH's bidding. Some satanic angels fulfill
the role of a sin beast that crouches at the door, waiting to

pounce on the sinner. When people sin they are given over to the
sin beast who places them in compromising situations that can
lead them to sin further. The satanic angel in Chronicles fulfilled
this role and was sent by YHWH to incite David to sin. In Job the
satanic angel was at first helpless to cause Job to sin, because
God protected Job (Job 1:10). But when God wanted to test Job he
did this by allowing the satanic angel to tempt him. Despite the
horrific things that happened to Job he succeeded in ruling over
the great temptation to sin. Although he was turned over to the
hands of the satanic angel, by acting righteously he was able to
rule the satanic angel rather than be ruled by it.
Copyright 2003 Nehemia Gordon, All Rights Reserved.
Used by Permission