The Bible teaches us of a being who is the foremost antagonist to mankind and. He is an agent of evil and is hellbent on destroying mankind whom God made in His image. The Bible is clear that this being who we know as , is not the equal to God but is a creature of God that is in rebellion. Of course, Satan would have us believe otherwise. He would like us to think that he is equal to the God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and that he might win the battle that is currently raging. Over the centuries, Satan has appeared and been known by various names – to the ancient Sumerians he was Enlil, to the Akkadians he was Illil, to the Greeks he was Zeus who murdered his father and to the Romans he was Jupiter. However, the Bible gives the true account of his origin and fall and what we find is essentially a mirror image of the other ancient cultures. Thus, the ancient witnesses are relevant in that they give us the reverse perspective of just how Satan would like to be viewed. Only the Bible, however, gives us the complete and proper picture of how he came about and what will ultimately be his demise.
We are told of Satan’s fall from heaven in Ezekiel chapter 28 and Isaiah chapter 14. There are several important clues in the texts that tie together the two passages, as can be seen in the table below. Satan is referred to as the King of Tyre (note that the beginning of the Ezekiel 28 refers to a prince of Tyre). In Isaiah he is refered to as the King of Babylon (for example, in Daniel chapter 10 an angel was detained by the Prince of Persia and the kings of Persia, a reference to demonic beings, which we will discuss in chapter seventeen). In reality he is the ruler of this entire world.
Son of man, take up a lamentation for the king of Tyre, and say to him, “Thus says the Lord GOD: “You were the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your covering: The sardius, topaz, and diamond, Beryl, onyx, and jasper, Sapphire, turquoise, and emerald with gold. The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes Was prepared for you on the day you were created. “You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; You were on the holy mountain of God; You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones. You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, Till iniquity was found in you. By the abundance of your trading You became filled with violence within, And you sinned; Therefore I cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God; And I destroyed you [abedkha אַבֶּדְךָ֙], O covering cherub, From the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, that they might gaze at you. You defiled your sanctuaries By the multitude of your iniquities, By the iniquity of your trading; Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth In the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever,”‘ (Ezekiel 28:12-19 emphasis mine)
You will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: “How the oppressor has ceased, the insolent fury ceased! The Lord has broken the staff of the wicked, the scepter of rulers, that struck the peoples in wrath with unceasing blows, that ruled the nations in anger with unrelenting persecution. The whole earth is at rest and quiet; they break forth into singing. The cypresses rejoice at you, the cedars of Lebanon, saying, ‘Since you were laid low, no woodcutter comes up against us.’ Sheol beneath is stirred up to meet you when you come; it rouses the shades [Rephaim] to greet you, all who were leaders of the earth; it raises from their thrones all who were kings of the nations. Your pomp is brought down to Sheol, the sound of your harps; maggots are laid as a bed beneath you, and worms are your covers. “How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star [heilel הֵילֵ֣ל], son of Dawn [ben shakhar בֶּן־שָׁ֑חַר]! How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low! You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit, (Isaiah 14:4-15 ESV emphasis mine).
The table below summarizes the similarities between the two passages:
|Table Comparing The Descriptions of Satan as The King of Tyre and the King of Babylon|
|Ezekiel 28:12-19 (The King of Tyre)||Isaiah 14:11-19 (The King of Babylon)|
|You were in Eden, the garden of God|
|timbrels and pipes||the sound of your harps|
|Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor;||You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; above the stars of God I will set my throne on high; I will make myself like the Most High.’|
|holy mountain of God||I will sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds|
|You walked back and forth in the midst of fiery stones||above the stars of God I will set my throne on high|
|cast you as a profane thing out of the mountain of God and I destroyed you, O covering cherub||How you are fallen from heaven|
|You became filled with violence within, and you sinned […] I cast you to the ground||How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!|
|I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you||Those who see you will gaze at you|
|In the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you||And consider you, saying: Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms|
|But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch||You have become a horror, and shall be no more forever|
An important place to begin towards an understanding of Satan and his fall is his name. The Hebrew word for “Lucifer” found in Isaiah 14:12 is Heilel (Hêlēl הֵילֵ֣ל). Dr. Bill Gallagher has positively demonstrated that the Hebrew Heilel is synonymous with the Akkadian Ellil/Illil and Sumerian Enlil. In his article On the Identity of Helel Ben Sahar of Is 14:12-15 he shows that the Hebrew Heilel is equivalent phonetically to the Akkadian Illil (or Ellil). He states: “One could reasonably expect hll to be the West Semitic form of Illil. As the Ebla tablets suggest, Illil came into West Semitic directly from Sumerian.” [i] Let us note however, that this does not mean that Isaiah “borrowed” the concept from Sumeria and Assyria but rather that God directed him to properly identify that ancient god, whom we know as Satan or Lucifer.
Having explained linguistically how the biblical Heilel (Hêlēl) is equivalent to the Akkadian Illil, Dr. Gallagher then notes the similar characteristics between the two. He first notes the correlation of astral functions between the two:
Illil’s astral function is mentioned in numerous sources. […] Illil was the god of 33 “stars” by which constellations and one planet are meant [footnote: Jupiter]….Thus Illil was ruler of a very large part of the heavens. Illil also had a street called the “Way of those (stars) of Illil,” (emphasis mine).
The number 33 is very fascinating when we consider that according to Revelation 12:4 Satan drew 1/3 of the stars (angels/demons) with him when he fell. One third of course is 33/100 or 33%. Secondly, we note they are stars – in the Bible “stars” very frequently is a term used to describe angelic beings – thus him being the god of 33 stars is extremely similar to the 1/3 of the stars that fell with Satan. [ii]
Dr. Gallagher then notes the “seven characteristics which are helpful in identifying Hêlēl” from Isaiah 14:12-15 and notes how these characteristics can be compared with Illil:
|Isaiah’s Description||Illil’s Description|
Dr. Gallagher has sufficiently demonstrated the linguistic and characteristic parallels between the biblical Heilel and the Akkadian Illil for us to conclude that they are one and the same. We ought to pause here and note that this does not make Isaiah’s prophecy dependent on Akkadian documents, as many Ancient Near East and Biblical scholars presume. What it does prove is that Heilel was known as a god outside of the Bible and was worshipped accordingly. The being we know as Satan has many different names which the Bible notes (Revelation 12:9; 20:2) and Illil/Heilel is one of those names.
Further Common Features of Heilel and Illil
With the clear identity as Heilel we can investigate more about this god. What we find is extremely enlightening and once again confirms Dr. Gallagher’s conclusion on the identity of Heilel. Micha F. Lindemans in the Encyclopedia Mythica writes about Enlil which is the Sumerian equivalent to Ellil/Illil:
In ancient Sumero-Babylonian myth, Enlil (“lord wind”) is the god of air, wind and storms. Enlil is the foremost god of the Mesopotamian pantheon, and is sometimes referred to as Kur-Gal (“great mountain“). In the Sumerian cosmology he was born of the union of An heaven and Ki earth. These he separated, and he carried off the earth as his portion. In later times he supplanted Anu as chief god.
Enlil holds possession of the Tablets of Destiny which gives him power over the entire cosmos and the affairs of man. [iv] […] Enlil is portrayed wearing a crown with horns, symbol of his power. His equivalent is the Akkadian god Ellil. [v]
Not only was Enlil portrayed as wearing a crown of horns but it ranged between eight and ten. A crown with ten horns can be seen in the cylinder seal impression in the figures above. [vi]
These observations are confirmed by several other scholars as well. Kramer confirms that An (thegod) carried off heaven while Enlil carried of the earth and assumed most of An’s powers. Furthermore, he is also glorified as “the father of the gods, the king of heaven and earth,” “the king of all the lands”. [vii] He adds however, that Enlil was also known as the one who “causes the dawn”. [viii] Alfred Jeremias discusses how Enlil was assimilated to the north “Pole of the Ecliptic“. [ix] The Colombia Encyclopedia notes how Enlil was sometimes referred to as “Bel.” [x] Lastly, the encyclopedia Britannica adds the following insight into the characteristics of Enlil: “Although An was the highest god in the Sumerian pantheon, Enlil had a more important role as the embodiment of energy and force and authority.” [xi]
Summarizing the characteristics of Illil/Enlil we discover the following composite which is amazingly similar to the biblical picture we have of Satan – and it does not only come from Isaiah 14 as Dr. Gallagher pointed out to us initially but from the entire Bible.
|Characteristics of Enlil/Ellil/Illil||Characteristics of Biblical Satan/Lucifer/Devil|
|God of 33 Stars||
|God of the air / atmosphere||
|Known as the Great mountain||
|Assimilated to the north Pole of the Ecliptic||
|Holds Tablets of Destiny giving him authority over cosmos and mankind||
|Wears a crown with horns||
|Causes the dawn||
|Referred to as Bel||
|Banished to the underworld||
|Father of the godsKing of heaven and earth||
After analyzing the table, there can be no doubt that the Sumerian Enlil and Akkadian Ellil/Illil are one and the same with the Heilel of Isaiah 14:12. Thus, the composite we get of Satan is intriguing – the Sumerian/Akkadian Illil is essentially a mirror image of what we have in the Bible. Whereas God cast him out because he attempted (and failed) to ascend to the heights and be like God in the Bible, in the Sumerian/Akkadian tradition he has attained those things. He is known as “the father of the gods, king of heaven and earth” – just what he always wanted. Whereas Satan wanted to be on top of the mountain of God, in the Sumerian/Akkadian tradition he was known as the Great Mountain. In the Bible he is son of the dawn and as Illil he caused the dawn.
God of this World and Tablets of Destiny
The explanation of the separation of heaven and earth is also of great interest and there appears to be some truth in it, though it is a twisted form of the actual events. What we can glean from that is that heaven (God’s abode) and earth (man’s abode) used to be connected and as a result of Satan’s actions and the fall of man, heaven and earth separated. The Creator God (An) took heaven (dwells there until now) and Satan (Enlil) took the earth. This is why Satan could offer the earth to the Lord Jesus when he came because he actually held the (legal) title to the earth (see table above for references). Revelation 21 indicates however that God’s dwelling will come down to the earth and forever be connected to man’s abode. It is also so like Satan to tell humanity that the Creator God (An) was not that interested in the affairs of men – that He was too busy and rather aloof and therefore he, Enlil, was the go-to-god.
Additionally, the Bible confirms that Satan is the god of this world (for the time being). As Illil he holds the Tablets of Destiny which give him authority over the cosmos and the affairs of men. In Revelation chapter five we see a powerful scene in the throne room of Heaven; there we find a scroll with writing inside and on the back which no one is able to open.
And I saw in the right [hand] of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. […] Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has conquered; thus he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:1-3, 5).
Finally only one is found worthy to open it – the Lion of Judah who “has conquered.” However, the question arises: conquered what? Given that when the two-sided scroll is opened cataclysms begin happening on the earth, it is therefore reasonable to assume that the scroll is the deed of the earth or the “tablets of destiny.” Pastor Chuck Smith commenting on Revelation chapter five notes well:
This book is nothing other than the title deed to the earth. Under Jewish law whenever you sold property in the deed there was always a redemptive clause. You always had the right to buy the property back within a specified period of time providing you could fulfill the terms and the requirements that were written in the deed.
So wherever there was the sale of property, there were always two deeds that were drawn up. One deed was sealed and it was put away in a safe deposit. The other remained open and was kept by the person who sold the property. And in the time of redemption you would bring both deeds, the one that was open and the one that was sealed. And by the open deed you would prove that you were the one that had the right to redeem it. And in the redeeming of it, you would break the seals of the closed deed and you would fulfill the requirements therein, and thus, the property would revert to you. [xii]
Jesus conquered Satan and death by way of His death on the cross and the scene in Heaven is merely where he finally takes possession of that which He conquered. As He lays claim to what is His, the old kingdom begins to fall apart and disintegrate. The time of disintegration is what is known as the Great Tribulation.
Why Satan Fell
We have one final question to consider in our study of Satan’s origins is why he fell in the first place. From all that we have seen in this book concerning theand what he looks like and how the angels look, we might be able to speculate just a bit. We know from Ezekiel 28 that Satan, the anointed cherub, was the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty and his fall was due to his great beauty.
Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom on account of your splendor. I threw you down to the ground; I placed you before kings, that they might see you, (Ezekiel 28:17 NET).
When humans see an angel they are overwhelmed. Both Daniel and John fall to the ground debilitated as a result. John was so overcome that on two occasions he began to worship the angel who quickly exhorted him to do not that.
And I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “See [that you do] not [do that!] I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren who have the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” (Revelation 19:10).
Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things. Then he said to me, “See [that you do] not [do that.] For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.” (Revelation 22:8-9).
It is not just that John was overtaken by the angel standing before him but in his vision he had already seen the Lord Himself. Therefore we can surmise that Satan must have been so amazing in splendor (at least outwardly) and so similar in appearance to God that he began to compare himself with God and could not see any qualitative difference, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty,” (Ezekiel 28:12). Of course, regardless of how glorious he appeared bodily, Satan would always be a created being. His very existence was a gift from the Almighty and so therefore he would never even begin to truly be like God – he was just a creature. “You [were] perfect in your ways from the day you were created” (Ezekiel 28:15). Therefore, we may conclude that because outwardly he was glorious like God, he apparently believed himself to be equal (or close enough) to God and then attempted to rise up to the place where God was. “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” (Isaiah 14:13). When Satan attempted to magnify himself to God’s level, God cast him “as a profane thing [vaekhalelkhaוָאֶחַלֶּלְךָ] out of the mountain of God,” (Ezekiel 28:16). Furthermore, God says:
And I destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the fiery stones. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor; I cast you to the ground, I laid you before kings, That they might gaze at you. You defiled [khilalta חִלַּלְתָּ] your sanctuaries by the multitude of your iniquities, (Ezekiel 28:16b-18a).
It appears that God, in some way that we do not fully understand, then took out (caused to go out of) the fire that was in Satan (as an angelic being created in God’s image):
Therefore I brought fire from your midst; It devoured you, And I turned you to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who knew you among the peoples are astonished at you; You have become a horror, And shall be no more forever.”‘ (Ezekiel 28: 18b-19).
Bible commentator David Guzik sums up with a very plausible explanation as to why Satan fell. He suggests that Satan rebelled when faced with the prospect of having to serve man, who was below him in glory and power:
Perhaps because he rejected God’s plan to create an order of being made in His image (Gen. 1:26), who would be beneath the angels in dignity (Heb. 2:6-7a; 2Pe. 2:11), yet would be served by angels in the present (Heb. 1:14; 2:7-8; Psa. 91:11-12) and would one day be lifted in honor and status above the angels (1Co. 6:3; 1Jo. 3:2). Satan wanted to be the highest among all creatures, equal to God in glory and honor, and the plan to create man would eventually put men above angels. He was apparently able to persuade one-third of the angelic beings to join him in his rebellion (Rev. 12:3-4, 7, and 9). If this is the case, it explains well Satan’s present strategy against man: to obscure the image of God in man through encouraging sin and rebellion, to cause man to serve him, and to prevent the ultimate glorification of man, (Guzik’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, Isaiah 14).
Having fallen from God’s presence Satan then deceived the very ones who were created in God’s image and likeness and in whom God had breathed the breath of life. As a result God spoke of the Seed of the Woman to save them and of the seed of Satan who would strike the Redeemer’s heel but would ultimately be destroyed. With this pronouncement in mind Satan set out to overcome the judgment that he faced by distorting the seed of mankind through whom the Promised One would come.
[i] W.R. Gallagher, UF 26 (1994) pp 131-146. http://www.pantheon.org/articles/e/enlil.html May 23, 2010 [vi] Enlil was here identified by Sitchin 1983, The Stairway to Heaven, pg 114. Picture Retrieved December 16, 2010 from http://sumerianshakespeare.com/373712.html [vii] Kramer, Samuel Noah The Sumerians The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963. pp. 37-41. [viii] Ibid. Pg 42. http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/58985/Enlil May 23, 2010 [xii] Smith, Chuck 1986 Through The Bible C-2000 Series, Revelation 5, retreived from theWord Bible Software.