Satan’s Mysterious Identity as Enlil (chpt 1A of Corrupting the Image 2)

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. The great dragon … that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world (Rev 12:3, 9).

Criminals sometimes use disguises to give themselves a different look to conceal their identity. They might use a mask, costume, false passports, websites, buildings and so on to gain their victims’ trust and access their money or personal information. Our journey will reveal how Satan has used those same tools since the earliest of times to deceive the world to trust him and give him access to our riches, authority and even our lives. He has at the same time attempted to open the Gates of Hades and thus, unleash his forces upon the world.

Satan did not begin as a criminal mastermind. We do not believe in dualism that teaches there are two equal but opposite powers, i.e. God versus Satan, good versus evil; Satan is not the equal of YHWH. Scripture is clear: God created Satan and He created him good: “You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created” (Ezek 28:15). God did not create Satan with the intention of him being wicked and sinful. Instead, He made him good, along with the other angels, including Cherubim / Seraphim, whom He spoke into existence.

Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His hosts! Praise Him, sun and moon; Praise Him, all you stars of light! …. For He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever (Ps 148:2–6).

The picture we get is that God said, “Michael,” and “Gabriel,” and they immediately began to exist. God spoke Satan’s name and he began to exist. Unlike humans, the angels were created with great wisdom (Ezek 28:12–13), and while they would certainly learn history as it unfolded, they would not have needed to learn to speak, to reason and to comprehend abstract thinking. They had no childhood or age of innocence. Michael, Gabriel, Satan and all the angels must have perceived how God had shared his qualities of speech, art, music, passion and emotion, as well as his likeness with them (Dan 10:1–6; Rev 22:8). At the same time, they must have perceived they were in the presence of supreme greatness, of the exalted King to whom there would never be any equal (Rev 10:1, 22:8–9, Jude 1:9), the One who, upon uttering a simple command, had brought them into existence out of nothing. (See Appendix 2 Angel Freewill).

Enlil (Heilel), Not Lucifer

Unlike Michael (“who is like God”) and Gabriel (“God is my Hero”), we do not know Satan’s original name. Christians have long spoken of Satan, the devil and Lucifer, yet when we research these titles, we find nothing in the ancient world. In Isaiah 14, the prophet said: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Heilel [Hêlēl הֵילֵ֣ל], son of the morning!” (Isa 14:12). “Lucifer” is not Satan’s name; The underlying Hebrew in the word is Heilel ֵ[Hêlēl הֵילֵ֣ל].[i] Deciphering this word using the tools of the Ancient Near East is the key we need.

The ancient translators, not having all the texts we have today, came to this word “Heilel,” a hapax legomenon, (a word that appears once in Scripture), and had to make a guess; they translated it into Greek as eosphorus. We now can go back to early texts of Mesopotamia, written in the Sumerian and Akkadian languages, and do some comparative linguistics. Eos meaning “dawn” and phorus means “bearer.”Eosphorus, therefore, means dawn-bearer, (similarly to how Christo-pher means Christ-bearer). In Latin, Eos (light) became lux, and phorus became pheros, hence “Lucifer” which was a good attempt.  

My friend, Dr. Bill Gallagher, wrote a paper: On the Identity of Hêlēl Ben Sahar from Isaiah 14. He notes how the biblical Hebrew root HLL could be directly related to the ancient god Enlil: “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.”[ii] In other words, Heilel is equivalent phonetically to the Sumerian Enlil … and Akkadian Illil (or Ellil). Dr. Gallagher laid out the parallels between Heilel and Enlil, recreated on the next page:

Table 2 Enlil in Isaiah and Ancient Near Eastern literature

Isaiah’s Description
His name was Hêlēl (Isa 14:12).
He was the son of dawn (vs. 12).
He laid the nations low (vs. 12).
He aspired to set up his throne above the stars of El (vs. 13).
He aspired to sit in the mount of assembly and on Saphon (14:13).
He aspired to be like the Most High (14:14).
He fell down to earth into the midst of the pit (14:12, 15).
Enlil / Illil’s Description
hyll Hebrew equivalent of Illil
Causes the dawn
Illil was a devastator
Illil’s astral function was immense
Illil was among the most prominent members in it (in the divine assembly)
Illil was the highest in Mesopotamia until the end of the second millennium
Illil’s fall into the underworld is recorded in first millennium texts

Comparing Isaiah 14 with the descriptions in Mesopotamian texts, we find that there is a direct correlation. “The name Enlil can thus be rendered ‘Lord Wind”[iii] which is incredibly similar to how Paul refers to Satan as “Prince of the Power of the Air” (Eph 2:2). In Revelation 12:3, John saw a dragon with ten horns. Enlil was regularly represented wearing a crown or helmet with ten horns as depicted in Figure 4, (next page). Revelation has accurately pulled back the curtain on Satan’s secret identity: Satan = Enlil.

Figure 4 Cylinder Seal of Enlil. p. 19. John Gray. Near Eastern Mythology. London. Hamlyn House Ltd. 1969.

We find Satan’s various biblical epithets (his titles) are also matched in the ancient world. Satan boasted in Isaiah that he would “sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north” (Isa 14:13), which is the same description of God’s holy mountain: “Mount Zion [on] the sides of the north, The city of the great King” (Ps 48:2). Alfred Jeremias points out that Enlil was “assimilated to the North Pole of the Ecliptic.”[iv]

Moreover, Samuel Kramer states how the creator god: “An carried off heaven while Enlil carried off the earth and assumed most of An’s powers. “Satan, the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), is shown in the Bible to have temporary dominion over the Earth. Enlil is also glorified as ‘the father of the gods, the king of heaven and earth,’ ‘the king of all the lands.’”[v] We note the comparison with Satan’s boast: “I will ascend into heaven. I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; … I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:13–14).

Though we do not know his original name, we do know that the biblical appellations for him as “Prince of the Power of the Air” and “Heilel” are precisely what Satan was called in the ancient world. The figure in Isaiah 14 was the same exact entity known as Enlil in Sumerian, and Illil in Akkadian. In fact, the epithet Enlil “Lord Wind” was so commonly used that it eventually became the very word for “idols” in scripture. God said to Israel: “Do not turn to the idols [הָ֣אֱלִילִ֔ים ha’elilim] … I am the LORD your God (Lev 19:4). A. T. Clay in 1907 pointed out “the origin of elilim [אלילים], the word translated “idols” in the Old Testament … is probably to be found in the … deity Ellil.”[vi]

Christopher B. Hays also suggests that “idols” may just be a form of Illil (Enlil) which could also mean “god of gods.”

His name was known far and wide throughout the ancient Near East, and in syllabic cuneiform, it was written as Illil (e. g. d.-li-lu); this is taken to be a contracted form based on a doubling of the word ilu, “god”, i. e. il-ilû, “god of gods”… In fact, it is now commonly argued that the Sumerian writing of his name, den.líl (“Lord Wind”) was derived from the Semitic name. [vii]

We have already unlocked a great deal! “Lucifer” is actually Heilel which was Enlil in the ancient world and was almost certainly the same word as “idols” in the Hebrew Bible. Obscuring his specific name has made it easier for Satan to hide his identity through the ages. Nevertheless, because we know that Heilel (Enlil) was syncretized (had fused his identity) with a multitude of gods, we can trace him. Hays notes:

Because lordship itself was Illil’s defining characteristic … Akkadian terms such as illilu, “god of the highest rank” and illilūtu, “divine supremacy” (literally “Enlil-ship”) … illilūtu was ascribed to various other deities over the centuries, including Šamaš, Marduk, Sîn and Nabû, each of whom was called illilu at various times. This background is significant to the biblical use of אליל , since it too arguably began with a specific reference to Illil, but was also applied to other divinities.[viii]

The implications are huge—“Enlil” or “Satan” was quite likely a general term for “idols” which God said not to worship in the Ten Commandments. Also, Satan was known by a host of other titles, though for simplicity, we will generally refer to him as Satan or Enlil throughout this book. Keep in mind that the names and titles, many which we find in the Bible with variant spellings, refer to Satan: Enlil (Isa 14:12), Ninurta (2 Kgs 19:37), Marduk / Merodach (Jer 50:2), Baal / Bel (Isa 46:1), Dumuzid / Tammuz (Ezek 8:14), and more. One of Satan’s disguises the Bible audaciously unmasks is that of Melqart, King of Tyre.

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[i] His name in the Hebrew is Heilel which should not be confused with Halal meaning praise.

[ii] W.R. Gallagher, On the Identity of Hêlēl Ben Sahar of Is 14:12-15 UF 26 (1994) pp 131-146.

[iii] Jacobsen 1989, The líl of dEn-líl. DUMU-É-DUB-BA-A: Studies in Honor of Åke W. Sjöberg (Behrens, H., D. M. Loding and M. T. Roth). Pg. 270.

[iv] Jeremias, Alfred 1913. Handbuch der altorientalischen Geisteskultur. Leipzig. Pg. 74.

[v] Kramer, Samuel Noah The Sumerians The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1963. Pg. 37-42.

[vi] Albert T. Clay, “Ellil, the God of Nippur” AJSL 23 (1907) 277.

[vii] Christopher B. Hays, Enlil, Isaiah, and the Origins of the ʾĕlilim: A Reassessment, ZAW 2020; 132(2): 224–235, https://doi.org/10.1515/zaw-2020-2002

[viii] Ibid.