Why was the character Lucifer created if that Hebrew phrase actually refers to the Babylonians?

In answer to your question, Lucifer is just a mistranslation that became popular. Helel ben Shahar meant Helel, son of Dawn. It is a reference to the Canaanite myth of Shahar and Shalim, twin sons of El who ruled the dawn and dusk, respectively (Sahar is Arabic for dawn and comes from the same root). Helel is thought to mean “shining one” by some, but it might also mean “wail” or “he who made us wail.” But the Greek translators guessed Helel to be a proper name meaning “morning star” or Venus, which comes before the dawn, so they translated Helel ben Shahar as Eosphoros (or bringer of [the goddess] dawn (in Greek, Eos is the dawn goddess). Jerome’s Latin version of this was “light bearer” or  Lux-fero. The KJV translators thought this was a name, and Lucifer was born. In Isaiah, this phrase was a reference to the king of Babylon, who had brought the Judeans much pain but who was expected to soon get his come-uppance. It’s a way of saying, “You made us wail (or,  you were once famous and shining) but you are fallen now (or, you will soon fall). Ezekiel 28 makes a similar reference to a shining cherub who once had everything but has now fallen; he’s is referring to the King of Tyre. Comparing these oppressive figures to mythical characters who fell from the sky was the authors’ way of illuminating their predicament. So how did Lucifer become identified with the Satan, who was at first just a servant of Yahweh, and the devil, who is a late product of Persian and Hellenistic influence? After all, by the New Testament, we see lots of references to Satan as a devil character. When did that happen? Well, in The Origin of Satan, Pagels explains that Christians were looking very hard for the devil in the Hebrew bible, especially a source to confirm the Christian notion that the devil Samael had fallen from Heaven into hell, which is alluded to in the non-canonical Enoch. Another late Greek non-canonical text, The Apocalypse of Baruch (attributed to Ezekiel’s scribe but written in the Christian era in Greek) links Samael to the serpent in Genesis. Actually, the canonical Hebrew bible says nothing about a devil OR a hell OR a bunch of fallen angels. “The Satan” (Ha satan) is mentioned, but “The Satan” is a servant of God in the earliest texts. The word “Satan” (it’s not a proper name) meant “Adversary” in the same way that we now call a prosecuting attorney “adversarial” and a defense attorney an “advocate.” Satan followed God’s orders but sometimes, literally, he played “devil’s advocate” to test God’s assumptions about things. So, when they ran across Jeremiah’s misreading of Isaiah 14.12, Christians were pretty excited to think that Lucifer gave them the precedent about fallen angels that they sought. Here’s the KJV of Isaiah: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer.” That translation is just WRONG. But we know that because we know about the Canaanite myths of Helel and Shahar; we know about those myths because scholars discovered the trove of Canaanite stories at Ugarit in the 1920s. (That’s also why we know that the word “Asherim” in 2 Kings, which KJV translated as “groves,” actually referred to either statues of the goddess Asherah or shrines to her. ) In other words, Pagels would argue that Christians created Lucifer because he seemed to prove what they already believed. But it’s hard to fault them; they just didn’t have access to the archeological finds of the 20th century. Later rabbinical writings also equated Satan and Samael, and some of them used Lucifer too, since by now this mistranslation was part of the culture. For more on the name Helel ben Shahar, see https://www.abarim-publications.com/Meaning/Helel.html For more on Pagels and the evolution of the Satan character, see this interview in The Christian Science Monitor.

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