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Lesson 12

Most often the Bible uses a word more than once making it easier to determine its definitions, and context of use. When a word is used only once it is prudent to find out where the word came from by tracing its linguistic roots. The commonly accepted root word for Heylel is Helel. Heylel appears only once in the Hebrew text, but its root word Helel appears 165 times. When used in a positive context it means to: praise, shine, worship, and be bright. Its negative context reflects: arrogance, anger, boasting, foolishness, bragging. Depending on which context God uses, the word should be understood  differently. In Isaiah 14 the context is negative. It describes a rebellious, arrogant, boaster who is self delusional and thinks he can depose his creator. Do you get a positive or a negative feeling from your favorite translation?

Isaiah 14:12-16 International Children’s Bible
King of Babylon, morning star, you have fallen from heaven, even though you were as bright as the rising sun! In the past all the nations on earth bowed down before you. But now you have been cut down. 13 You told yourself, “I will go up to heaven. I will put my throne above God’s stars. I will sit on the mountain of the gods. I will sit on the slopes of the sacred mountain. 14 I will go up above the tops of the clouds. I will be like God Most High.” 15 But you were brought down to the grave. You were brought down to the deep places where the dead are. 16 Those who see you stare at you. They think about what has happened to you. They say, “Is this the same man who caused great fear on earth? Is he the one who shook the kingdoms?

Some scholars believe Heylel could take its roots from the word Yalal which is used several times. Because of the complexities of the Hebrew language there is no definitive way to absolutely prove which root word is the correct, so we should examine them both. The word Yalal is straightforward and comes from an original root verb meaning to howl, or wail. The Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament, the “heylel” notes have this to say about the meaning of “lucifer”. “However, heylel itself is not infrequently Imperfect Hiphil of the verb yalal in the signification wail, lament (Ezekiel 21:17; Zechariah 11:2), and this does not appear less suitable, and is adopted by the Syrian (Aramaic) translation” Having thrown Satan out of heaven, God may be asking, “How did you fall from heaven: Howl, son of the dawn, you brought other nations down, now you are thrown to the ground.” Does this mean obscure translations are best, or just that there are other legitimate options for what Heylel means? Why would God use a word only once that is ambiguous and could have 2 different meanings? Was there a poor translation? Is the basic message the same whichever translation you choose to believe? Does it make you question the meaning of other words used in original Bible texts?

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