In P.T.66 we saw how the original meaning of “evil” (Hebrew RA) was connected with making a loud noise, and breaking in pieces. And it followed on logically that Satan must have chosen the concept of Noise, Display, Showmanship, and Pride as being the BETTER of the two ways. The other way, called “good” (Hebrew TOV) suggested Quietness, Softness, Beauty, and Peace. These qualities were relegated to the lower place by Lucifer. And even today we still refer to the “boss” as “the big noise”, though it is doubtful as to the origin of the expression.
In this paper we shall investigate the Hebrew word RA in more detail, because it has connections which prove altogether too important to ignore when studying the origins of things. On the last page I have set out the actual Hebrew words as they stand in our Old Testaments, and even though most of my readers will not be able to read Hebrew, I am sure that the shapes of the letters will stand out in such a way that connecting themes will be readily visible. The first thing to say is that Hebrew words read BACKWARDS to us, that it from right to left. And the VOWELS are found beneath the letters. Starting with RA, it is just two Hebrew letters RESH and AYIN. Because these letters are also words in their own right, we can say that they express HEAD and EYE. It is certainly true that Satan desires to be HEAD over everyone, and his EYE is constantly watching out for things, as he “walks up and down in the earth.” Maybe I’m taking things too far here, but I cannot help but ask why our Lord said to the Serpent that ultimately One would bruise his HEAD. On the other hand all he would be able to do was to bruise the HEEL, which like the TAIL, is figuratively the “last” or the “end” of something, and therefore the least important. Satan, who considers himself “top dog” despises all those who are pictured as the “tail-end” of humanity. At this point it is enlightening to quote the Apostle Paul’s words to Corinth – “God is choosing the weak things of the world to confound the mighty, the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and the base things, and the despised things, and even non-existent things, to bring to nought things that are.” (1 Cor.1:27-28) More of this later.
We must now move on to the Egyptian scene, because RA was the name of their most important god, the SUN-GOD. The Sun was worshipped in Egypt, as it was in so many of the other surrounding nations. And the name RA appears in other common Egyptian words, such as Pharaoh, Ra-Ameses, and Poti-Phera, details of which appear on the last page . Why did Egypt begin this style of worship? The earliest laws of God clearly forbid any worship of the “heavenly host”, and although these laws only appear after some 2,500 years from Adam, one is never left in any doubt that they are written statements of ALREADY KNOWN LAWS, an example of which is the Sabbath law, which is first mentioned in Genesis 2. I believe the answer comes from the way in which Satan’s mind-set has been infused into human affairs right from the beginning. He is the one who has encouraged man to worship him, by making him think a lot of himself, and by promoting one-upmanship, showmanship, and the love of all things that are “big, grand, superior, stronger, faster, louder, more clamorous, and more insistently drawing attention to one’s self.” What is the greatest light in the heavens? It goes without saying. The Sun is clearly the only contender for prime place, and therefore it became the symbol of Lucifer himself. And so he presents himself as RA to the Egyptians, SHAMASH to the Babylonians, PHOEBUS APOLLO to the Greeks (identical with HELIOS in legend,) BAAL in Canaan, SOL in Rome, SURYA to the Hindus, and so on, right across the world to the ancient Incas and Mayas in South America who likewise worshipped the Sun.
Moving on Greece for a moment, we find the mythology full of references to Apollo, whose name is derived from the Greek verb APOLLUMI meaning to destroy. The name Apollyon is also derived from this verb, and has virtually an identical meaning. Apollo was considered the god of youth, strength and beauty, medicine, music and prophecy. In this we can surely detect a connection with Satan as he was originally, the “anointed cherub who covers.” He was “full of wisdom and perfect in beauty”, he was the “Praise-Master” of heaven, only to “corrupt his wisdom by means of his brightness.”(Ezekiel 28:12 & 17) The Grecian Sun-god was also known as Phoebus-Apollo. This prefix means “bright, radiant, beaming” and exactly describes the Sun. Apollo was said to drive his chariot with four horses across the sky each day. He was responsible for giving light, health, strength, and growth to plants, but at the same time produce pains and scourges related to the excessive heat of summer, the so-called “dog days”, (July 3rd to August 11th) named after Sirius, the chief star in the sign of Canis Major, the Dog. Hence the Greeks believed Apollo to be responsible for strength AND destruction. How pointed that this should EXACTLY fit the ancient meaning of RA!
Going back now to Egypt, we remember that Poti-Phera was one of the priests of On. Now ON (pronounced in the way we say OWN) was the Hebrew word for strength and vigour, but the Egyptian word for the SUN itself. On a later page I have shown on a map where ON was situated, compared with Zoan and Ra’amses in the Nile Delta, the Land of Goshen, where the Hebrews lived. I believe it is instructive to know that the ten plagues of Egypt were ALL focussed on their pantheon of gods. And the last two plagues were particularly centred on their MAIN gods. Darkness reigned over ON for three days, whereas there was light to the Hebrews in the Delta. And finally the slaughter of the FIRSTBORN is related to ON in the meaning of the words given from the Lexicon on the last page . RESHITH HA-ON means literally “beginning of strength”, i.e. “firstborn.”
Our next investigation concerns Lucifer himself, and the meaning of his name (or title) as found in Isaiah 14:12. On the last page I have shown the actual Hebrew words and how they are pronounced – “Helel-ben-Shachar.” The word Helel should be pronounced “Haylayl” because the two dots under the letters are the long E vowel-sound. “Praise-Master, son of the Early Dawn (of world’s creation)” gives the full meaning of this expression, and Helel is seen to be from the same root asHalelujah. It is not commonly known that this is the meaning of Lucifer. Most dictionaries prefer to associate the word with “light”. Hence in days gone by the word Lucifer was used (in Britain) to describe a Match, used to light a fire. And so we find that Satan’s real NAME still aludes us. He is referred to as SATAN (the slanderer), THE DEVIL (the one who thrusts you through with accusation), THE SERPENT (the covering cherub), THE DRAGON (the one full of eyes, with sharp sight), and LUCIFER (the Praise-Master of heaven). But nowhere in Scripture (to my knowledge) does his actual name appear. Lucifer is a word that comes from HALAL, and Gesenius’s Lexicon shows how the word can be applied in two senses. The idea of PRAISE is the one we are most familiar with. But when used in the bad sense, (as befits the early history of Lucifer), then it means “to make a show” and “use grandiloquent language”, and so to become “proud and insolent.” The Lexicon makes things so clear as to ORIGINS. I think it was Bishop Lightfoot who was once heard to say, “You can bury your head in a Lexicon, and arise in the presence of God”. I have found this to be true on a number of occasions. Words are very precious vehicles for conveying truth, and thereby helping us to know more of the character of both GOD (in Christ), and Lucifer (in his various guises.)
Happily we can now pass on to investigate something more positive, more attractive and GOOD! In P.T.66 I said that the Hebrew word TOV, which is translated “good” in Genesis 3, must have had a basic meaning of “soft, lovely, beautiful,” as opposed to “loud, clamorous, demanding” etc. On the last page I have shown the Hebrew word, and what Gesenius says about it in his Lexicon. You will see that TOV (pronounced TOVE) is made up of three letters, TETH, VAV, AND BETH. Earlier in this paper I hesitantly suggested that the word RA might contain in its letters (meaning HEAD and EYE) an understanding of the word itself. If there be any truth in that, it is only natural that one should apply a similar investigation to the word TOV. From what I can find out, TETH means HAND, VAV means NAIL, (or tent-peg), and BETH means HOUSE. Hence we have a hand employed in making a house, using nails, or making a tent, using pegs. I like this comparison. RA gives one the feeling of watching, and using one’s mind, but TOV shows a more practical bent, of getting on with the job that has been assigned. RA speaks about the “watchers” and TOV describes the “doers”. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who HEAR my word and DO it.”
In two other recent P.Ts (“In praise of Little Things”, and “Character Reference”) I have tried to spell out something of the character of our Lord, in the way in which He preferred to remain out of the public eye, frequently asking people NOT to say anything when he healed them, and teaching His disciples about simple things, birds of the air, lilies of the field, widow’s mites, and so on. These studies may now take on an even greater meaning after investigating the words GOOD and EVIL in the original. We may go even further. So often today, reinforced by electronic amplification, one hears gospel messages being relayed at high volume. Then again, worship services are noted for their sheer VOLUME of sound, produced by a variety of instruments. Young Christians are encouraged to attend great open-air celebrations such as Greenbelt, where Christian rock-groups pump out their latest music with ear-shattering decibels. It has become one of the curses of the age in which we live – NOISE, NOISE, NOISE. Why, even at Spring Harvest here in Skegness local people have in the past complained at the volume of noise produced in the Big Top late at night. Charismatic meetings are also known for their noise during “open praise”, where everyone seems to “pray in tongues” as loud as possible. I can remember how we had to walk out of one such meeting in Nairobi in Kenya. It seemed like madness and confusion.
Now compare this with what is written of our Lord by Isaiah, “He shall not strive, nor cry out, neither shall any man hear His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He shall not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench till He send forth judgment unto victory.” (Matt.12:19-20) I have already quoted Paul, saying that God chooses the weak things to confound the mighty. But Satan despises all such, in the manner that Judas Iscariot despised the Lord for washing his feet. Are we once again looking for a “Military Messiah” to dazzle the world from heaven at His second coming? Is the Lord just about to change His character and give the world a “fireworks display” to gain their attention and worship? Clearly this cannot be the case, because our God is “the same, yesterday, today and for ever.” Any language in the N.T. which on the surface seems to suggest the “display” method must therefore be closely examined, and translated according to the true character of our Lord. It will always be true that those who are “poor in spirit, meek, merciful,” together with all who “turn the other cheek” and seek peace, reconciliation, and humility, shall be “blessed”, or better “happy”, because they will have understood the Lord’s mind and ways, and will have found comfort and relaxation in abandoning all striving, all showmanship, all self-proclaiming, indeed, they will “not love their own lives unto the death.” This is the enduring message of these recent papers, and I would like to thank the Lord for revealing so clearly the utter contrast between the ways of Lucifer and His own way.
“Jesus I am resting, resting,
in the joy of what Thou art,
I am finding out the greatness of Thy loving heart.
Thou hast bid me gaze upon Thee,
and Thy beauty fills my soul,
for by Thy transforming power,
Thou hast made me whole.”
(Hymn by Jean Sophia Pigott.)