The Ancient Connections Between The King Of Babylon And Satan (Isaiah 14:12-17)

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It is written:

Isaiah 14:12-17- “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! 13  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; 14  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ 15  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit. 16  “Those who see you will gaze at you, And consider you, saying:Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms, 17  Who made the world as a wilderness And destroyed its cities, Who did not open the house of his prisoners?’

Throughout the ages, this passage of Scripture has been applied to the downfall of Satan from Heaven. This always puzzled me, since the text very clearly says that it is about the king of Babylon:

Isaiah 14:4-that you will take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say: “How the oppressor has ceased, The golden city ceased!

Why would the Jewish commentators, and the early Christians, believe that this passage is about the downfall of Satan when Isaiah said it was clearly about the defeat of the human king of Babylon?

I received a partial answer a few years ago, when I came upon this interesting note by Michael Heiser regarding the word translated “proverb” in the NKJV of Isaiah 14:4:

“In Isaiah 14: 4, God tells the prophet to take up a “taunt” (Hebrew: mashal) against the king of Babylon. A mashal is better described as a comparative parable. The question to keep in mind as we proceed is, to whom is the king of Babylon being compared? 1 The beginning of the parable sounds as unfavorable to the king of Babylon as Ezekiel’s description of the prince of Tyre is to that ruler. The king of Babylon is called an “oppressor” (ESV; v. 4) who ruthlessly persecuted the nations (vv. 5–6). The world will finally be at rest when the oppressor is “laid low” (ESV; vv. 7–8). In anticipation of the joy of finally being rid of the king of Babylon, the prophet writes: 9 Sheol below is getting excited over you, to meet you when you come; it arouses the dead spirits [rephaim] for you, all of the leaders of the earth [’ erets]. It raises all of the kings of the nations from their thrones. 10 All of them will respond and say to you, “You yourself also were made weak like us! You have become the same as us!” 11 Your pride is brought down to Sheol, and the sound of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you like a bed, and your covering is worms (Isa 14: 9–11). As in Ezekiel 28, the figure in Isaiah 14 who is the target of its diatribe goes to Sheol, the underworld. The Rephaim are there, here identified again as the dead warrior-kings (“ you have become the same as us”). The king of Babylon will be one of these living dead, just like the prince of Tyre. Recall that Ezekiel 28 shifted from the prince of Tyre to a divine figure in Eden. That shift informed us that the writer was using a story of cosmic, divine rebellion to, by comparison, portray the arrogance of the earthly prince. After verse 11, Isaiah 14 shifts to a divine context with clear links to Ezekiel 28. Those connections in turn take us conceptually back to Genesis 3. Isaiah 14: 12–15 reads: 12 How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of dawn! You are cut down to the ground, conqueror of nations! 13 And you yourself said in your heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise up my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit on the mountain of assembly on the summit of Zaphon; 14 I will ascend to the high places of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.” 15 But you are brought down to Sheol, to the depths of the pit (Isa 14: 12–15). The divine council context is transparent. You’ve already seen much of the terminology in chapter 6 about divine gardens and mountains. The figure to whom the king of Babylon is being compared is a divine being fallen “from heaven” (v. 12). He is called the “morning star, son of dawn.” The language takes us back to Job 38: 7, where the sons of God were called “morning stars.” But the Hebrew terms in Isaiah 14: 12 are different than those in Job 38: 7. “Morning star, son of dawn” is an English rendering of the Hebrew helel ben-shachar, which literally means “shining one, son of the dawn.” When we talked about Job 38: 7 in chapter 3, I noted that “morning stars” were the visible bright stars seen on the horizon as the sun rose. Astronomers (ancient and modern) knew another celestial object that behaved the same way—an object so bright it could still be seen as the sun rose. That object was Venus, and so Venus, though a planet, became known to the ancients as the “bright morning star.” In essence, borrowing the language of Ezekiel 28, Isaiah portrays this particular divine being as hopelessly enamored of his own brilliance. So great was his arrogance that he declared himself above all the “stars of God” (kokebey el), the other members of the divine council (Job 38: 7). That this “shining one” sought superiority over the other members of the divine council is indicated by the phrase “raise … my throne” and his desire to “sit” on “the mountain of assembly.” That this “mountain of assembly” speaks of the divine council is clear from its location in “Zaphon” (“ the north”; tsaphon) and the clouds. The “seat” language is familiar from Ezekiel 28: 2 (the “seat of the gods”). Isaiah 14 reads like an attempted coup in the divine council. Helel ben-shachar wanted his seat in the divine assembly on the divine mountain to be above all others. He wanted to be “like the Most High” (elyon). But there can be only one of those. It’s no surprise that helel ben-shachar, the shining one, meets the same end as the divine throne guardian in Ezekiel 28.” (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, 1464-1522 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press)

Heiser makes a compelling case that Isaiah’s language compares the downfall of the king of Babylon with another personage that was well known to the Jewish people; and the clues in the text of Isaiah 14 suggested this was in relation to the downfall of Satan himself.

Recently I came across some new information that may shed some more light on the subject.

Years ago, I became aware of an ancient Jewish history book known as the Life Of Adam And Eve. The Apostles of Jesus make allusions to this work (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Revelation 10), giving it some credibility. While working on another study recently, I discovered that there is another version of this work translated in Latin, which may actually predate the other.

“THE LIFE OF ADAM AND Eve is the Latin version of a work believed to have been written in a Semitic language, as there are terms transliterated into the Greek, Latin, and Armenian versions from a Semitic language, however, it is not known positively which language as the original text is lost, and so far, no fragments have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls that firmly be linked to it. The closest text discovered to date among the Dead Sea Scrolls would be the Genesis Apocryphon scroll, written in Aramaic and generally dated to between 37 BC to 50 AD. A number of references circumstantially date the source-text used for the Greek version, known as the Apocalypse of Moses, to the era when the Greeks ruled Judea, between 330 and 140 BC, however, the source-text for the Latin translation appears to have been older. One of the indicators that the Latin Life of Adam and Eve is older than the Apocalypse of Moses, is the discrepancy between the 72 ‘strokes’ and 70 ‘wounds’ that God sent to punish Adam. In the Apocalypse of Moses, there are 72, while in the Life of Adam and Eve, there are 70, and these numbers are significant. The number 70 was very significant in the Canaanite and later Israelite (early-Samaritan) religions, however, it was changed to 72 in the Jewish religion for numerological reasons during the late-Persian and early-Greek eras. The number 70 does appear to have continued to be important among the Samaritans until the Hasmoneans virtually wiped them out in 113 BC, after which only the number 72 was used by Jews and Samaritans. This provisionally dates the text to the Persian era, between 525 and 330 BC, however, it could also be a Samaritan text dating to as late as 113 BC. Both the Latin Life of Adam and Eve, and the Armenian Penitence of Adam, also include the curious reference to ‘powers’ (virtutes / զաւրութիւնք) being present with the angels. This is generally accepted as proof that either the Latin or Armenian translation was influenced by the other, however, the other option is that something that both the Latin and Armenian translators chose to translate as ‘powers’ was already in the Semitic source-texts they were using. The obvious Hebrew term for them to have been translating was Elohim, which Jews have traditionally translated the term as ‘powers’ as it is a plural form, and Jews only worship one God. The Greek scholars that translated the Septuagint at the Library of Alexandria translated the word Elohim as either God or gods, depending on the context, however, there is no reason for the Latin or Armenian scholars to have been dependent on Greek translation norms when translating directly from Hebrew or Aramaic into Latin or Armenian. If the powers in the Latin and Armenian translations were the Elohim in the Semitic source-texts, then this would place the origin of the text to the Persian era at the latest, and almost certainly to the early-Persian era (525 to 330 BC), before Ezra the Scribe reformed Judaism, as there were two Elohim present, and therefore, these Elohim would have to date to the Samaritan priesthood from before the time of Ezra.” (Scriptural Research Institute, Life of Adam and Eve: Latin Life of Adam and Eve (The Life of Adam and Eve Book 2) 7-8 (Kindle Edition))

It is thus possible that this account stretches back near to the time of Isaiah the Prophet himself. With that in mind, notice what Satan is recorded as sayin when he refused to pay homage to Adam:

“[THE DEVIL CONTINUED,] “When the angels, who were under me, heard this, they refused to worship him, and Michael said, ‘Worship the image of God because if you will not worship him, the Lord God will be angry with you.’ I said, ‘If he is angry with me, I will set my throne above the stars of heaven and will be like the Highest.’” 3 Chapter 16 [THE DEVIL CONTINUED,] “The Lord God was angry with me and banished me and my angels from our glory, and on your account were we expelled from our homes into this world and hurled on the Earth. Straightway we were overcome with grief since we had been spoiled of so great glory. We were grieved when we saw you in such joy and luxury. With guile, I cheated your wife and caused you to be expelled through her doing from your joy and luxury, as I have been driven out of my glory.”” (Scriptural Research Institute, Life of Adam and Eve: Latin Life of Adam and Eve (The Life of Adam and Eve Book 2), 25-26 (Kindle Edition))

Notice in chapter 15 the similarities to Isaiah 14:12-15.

I do not know if this account predated Isaiah’s writing (which was around 750 B.C.). The evidence suggests it was at least as early as the fifty or sixth centuries B.C. Perhaps it was around orally before it was written down.

Or, perhaps this document came after the time of Isaiah and was referring back to Isaiah 14 as its’ source for the downfall of the king of Babylon and Satan in Isaiah 14. As we noticed, there are sufficient clues in the text of the Isaiah 14 passage to make the connection between the king of Babylon and Satan.

Either way, it reminds us yet again that the textual evidence linking the downfall of the king of Babylon with that of Satan is ancient and powerful.

Thanks to Jesus, Satan has been defeated!

Revelation 12:10-12-Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. 11  And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. 12  Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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