Shalom everyone, new visitor here. The term הֵילֵ֣ל may be found in Isaiah 14:12, but I have not been able to find it in any Hebrew dictionaries.

English translations range from "morning," to "morning star," to "Lucifer," to "shining one." Going to the Hebrew, it's הֵילֵ֣ל. It's also described as being derived from הָלַל, so if that's correct (I lack training in Hebrew), does it simply mean to shine?

If there's more implied (one source said הָלַל is associated with arrogance or madness), what nuances or connotations are implicit in the term and its derivative respectively? Are either of the terms in common usage? Some reference to an authoritative text or just a statement of your source for your answer would be appreciated. Thanks!

*update 9/2/2015 I've tried to organize the answers a little bit so the reasoning for the chosen answer will be clear:

"English scholarship" @Yaacov Deane has mentioned "praise" and @andrewmh20 referenced the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon for the term "shining one, epithet of the king of Babylon." Epithet of the king of Babylon" seems just a self-referential definition to the source term's context in the original book of Isaiah and non-explanatory, please correct me if I'm mistaken. I managed to find one resource that brings an explanation for both of their definitions together and adds the third one of madness, while trying to provide an etymology of sorts within English scholarship: "Wilhelm Gesenius squeezed all various meanings and nuances of halal into the central charge of splenduit. But almost a hundred years later, the authoritative dictionary of Brown, Driver and Briggs, listed two separate roots halal, each with their own group of meanings. Three quarters of a century later, Harris, Archer and Waltke published their lexicon, and split the second root of Brown, Driver and Briggs in two, forming three distinct roots halal" 1)'shine, emit light,' 2)'to be boastful or to praise,' 3)'to be insane, or rather irrational.' His explanation of how they play against one another is also interesting.

I didn't find the reference in Jaastrow, but @Yaacov Deane mentions in his discussion with Daniel a lack of clarity on the meaning of the additional strokes or what sort of conjugation or other grammatical meaning they imply, something that's important for this theory of הֵילֵ֣ל descending from הָלַל, but they do look pretty similar (granted that it's language; even one stroke can make a world of difference)

"Hebrew scholarship" @msh210 references several sources (thank you for the multi-volume search), noting both broad agreement in Hebrew scholarship on a fourth general definition of a shining planet or star, but he points out a lack of clarity still on whether that definition is a name of said celestial body or a generic term for such a one. This character "כוכב", looks almost nothing like the term הֵילֵ֣ל, so this argument seems to rest solely on the authority/consensus of the commentators rather than the logic of language structure.

"Cross-referencing" @H3br3wHamm3r81 points to Eze. 21:17 and Zec. 11:2, translating it as 'Wail.'

All seem like they could possibly use some clarification and expansion. The first case, "English Scholarship," would need a linguist's explanation of the nuance of the grammar rule in play, while the second, "Hebrew Scholarship".. perhaps sources for the sources, and something that answered why the cursed king of Babylon would be called a shining planet or star in context of his fall. The third case of "Wail" seems to make the most sense from the context, and the hermeneutics is especially great, but can anyone verify with some reference or authoritative source that "the Hif'il imperative conjugation of the lemma יָלַל (yalal) is הֵילֵ֣ל?"

  • Klein connects it to h-l-l meaning to shine (or "new moon"). Are you looking for what it means or what it refers to?
    – rosends
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 0:42
  • @Danno I'm looking for the meaning primarily, although if you have insight into the reference to the Babylonian head, please share.
    – ahnnyoung
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 2:42
  • @ahnnyoung if you're looking for the pure "meaning" doesn't the English scholarship answer fully answer your question? (Ie it means "shining one, I.e. Star) ---what that might refer to is a job for parshanut -or am I misunderstanding the question?
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 12:17
  • @andrewmh20 It's not a full explanation yet because it doesn't answer the question of how grammatically הֵילֵ֣ל descends from הָלַל; how is this case made? It's a similar question to how we might know יָלַל conjugates to הֵילֵ֣ל
    – ahnnyoung
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 18:32
  • @ahnnyoung I don't think that's really relevant....obviously they are related, but one does not directly descend from the other. The Lexicon brings the verb הלל, and it's conjugations...but הילל is amount, not a verb so there is no "descent", at least how I understand your question. The Lexicon cross references the Assyrian "mustilil" if that helps...
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 18:53

5 Answers 5


The same word הֵילֵל occurs twice elsewhere in the Tanakh (it is spelled identical):

זְעַק וְהֵילֵל, בֶּן-אָדָם--כִּי-הִיא הָיְתָה בְעַמִּי, הִיא בְּכָל-נְשִׂיאֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; מְגוּרֵי אֶל-חֶרֶב הָיוּ אֶת-עַמִּי, לָכֵן סְפֹק אֶל-יָרֵךְ

Cry and wail, son of man; for it is upon My people, it is upon all the princes of Israel; they are thrust down to the sword with My people; smite therefore upon thy thigh. (JPS, 1917)

הֵילֵל בְּרוֹשׁ כִּי-נָפַל אֶרֶז, אֲשֶׁר אַדִּרִים שֻׁדָּדוּ; הֵילִילוּ אַלּוֹנֵי בָשָׁן, כִּי יָרַד יַעַר הַבָּצִיר.

Wail, O cypress-tree, for the cedar is fallen; because the glorious ones are spoiled; wail, O ye oaks of Bashan, for the strong forest is come down. (JPS, 1917)

Accordingly, it would be the Hif'il imperative conjugation of the lemma יָלַל (yalal), meaning "Wail!" or "Howl!"

Therefore, Isa. 14:12

אֵיךְ נָפַלְתָּ מִשָּׁמַיִם, הֵילֵל בֶּן-שָׁחַר; נִגְדַּעְתָּ לָאָרֶץ, חוֹלֵשׁ עַל-גּוֹיִם.

would be translated as,

How you have fallen from heaven! Howl, son of dawn! You are cut down to the ground, [you] who weakens the nations.

  • could you provide a reference to יָלַל conjugating to הֵילֵ֣ל? This translation seems to make the most sense in the passage's context
    – ahnnyoung
    Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 5:05
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 the Isaiah citation is a proper name, Heillel son of Morning. The Zechariah and Yechezkal are verbs. They don't work the same. Commented Sep 3, 2015 at 5:39
  • @Yaacov Deane: Who says it's a proper name? Is his father's name שָׁחַר? :)
    – user2088
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 17:53
  • @ahnnyoung: Two examples were already provided: Eze. 21:17 and Zec. 11:2.
    – user2088
    Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 17:56
  • @H3br3wHamm3r81 you have to read with the ta'amim to see it. The Mecha on the words איך and נפלת indicate that they are forming a phrase with the final word משמים which carries a Tafcha. "How did you fall from Heaven". The Mounach on הילל indicates that it is associated with the words which follow it. בן-שחר is considered a single word because of the Makaf and the phrase stops there because of the Reviah over the word שחר. In other words, Heilel ben-Shachar. The sentence then continues with נגדעת meaning you are (involuntarily) chipped off to the earth. You were caused to fall. Commented Sep 4, 2015 at 19:21

Commentaries on the verse (in no particular order, Malbim, Yonasan, M'tzudos, ibn Ezra, Rashi, Ri Kara, Radak) say it's a כוכב, that is a shining star or planet. (They're not clear, though, on whether the word means "כוכב" or, on the other hand, is the name of a כוכב.)


The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon defines it (referencing that pasuk in Yeshayahu) as "shining one, epithet of king of Babylon" and notes that it refers to "star of the morning" I.e. Venus.

The Hebrew ultimately comes from the same 3 letter root as הלל (halal) [the root being ה.ל.ל.] translated as "to shine". הילל is the noun related to that root, not a conjugation on the verb.


From ספר השורשים לרד"ק :

הלל – שֶׁבַע בַּיּוֹם הִלַּלְתִּיךָ (תהלים קי״ט:קס״ד),[פִּעֵל] כִּי הִלֵּל רָשָׁע עַל תַּאֲוַת נַפְשׁוֹ (תהלים י׳:ג׳). והשם: קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים (ויקרא י״ט:כ״ד), וַיַּעֲשׂוּ הִלּוּלִים (שופטים ט׳:כ״ז). ובתוספת תי״ו תְּהִלָּה לְדָוִד (תהלים קמ״ה:א׳). ויבא בתי״ו במקום ה״א אֵיךְ לֹא עֻזְּבָה עִיר תְּהִלָּה [תְּהִלָּת] (ירמיהו מ״ט:כ״ה), בקמץ הלמ״ד. והקבוץ יוֹשֵׁב תְּהִלּוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל (תהלים כ״ב:ד׳), ובתוספת מ״ם מַהֲלָל, וְאִישׁ לְפִי מַהֲלָלוֹ (משלי כ״ז:כ״א). וההתפעל: מַה תִּתְהַלֵּל בְּרָעָה הַגִּבּוֹר (תהלים נ״ב:ג׳), בִּקְדוֹשׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל תִּתְהַלָּל (ישעיהו מ״א:ט״ז). ויש מפרשים לְהִתְהַלֵּל עִם נַחֲלָתֶךָ (תהלים ק״ו:ה׳) מענין שמחה מן קֹדֶשׁ הִלּוּלִים. ואין צורך להוציאם מענין תהלה שהוא השבח וההודאה אבל קירוב ענינו הוא השמחה. וכן וּבְתוּלֹתָיו לֹא הוּלָּלוּ (תהלים ע״ח:ס״ג), כלומר שלא באו לעת השמחה וההלול רצונו לומר שלא היו לאנשים. ובית החופה נקרא בלשון רבותינו (בבא מציעא ל״ו.), בֵּי הִלוּלָא. ושלא נזכר פועלו [פֻּעַל]: הָעִיר הַהֻלָּלָה (יחזקאל כ״ו:י״ז). וענין אחר: אָמַרְתִּי לַהוֹלְלִים אַל תָּהֹלּוּ (תהלים ע״ה:ה׳), לֹא יִתְיַצְּבוּ הוֹלְלִים (תהלים ה׳:ו׳), כִּי קִנֵּאתִי בַּהוֹלְלִים (תהלים ע״ג:ג׳). ובנין פועל הנוסף [פֹּעֵל] כִּי הָעֹשֶׁק יְהוֹלֵל חָכָם (קהלת ז׳:ז׳), אָמַרְתִּי מְהוֹלָל (קהלת ב׳:ב׳), מְהוֹלָלַי בִּי נִשְׁבָּעוּ (תהלים ק״ב:ט׳), מְהוֹלָלַי אשר הם מהוללים בעיני. ופירוש בִּי נִשְׁבָּעוּ כתב רבי יונה מפחיתותי בעיניהם היו אומרים ישימני אלהים כפלוני אם יהיה כך וכך. וכשנשתתף עמו התפעל וַיִּתְהֹלֵל בְּיָדָם (שמואל א כ״א:י״ד), יִתְהוֹלְלוּ הָרֶכֶב יִשְׁתַּקְשְׁקוּן בָּרְחֹבוֹת (נחום ב׳:ה׳), וְהִתְגֹּעֲשׁוּ וְהִתְהֹלָלוּ (ירמיהו כ״ה:ט״ז), עֲלוּ הַסּוּסִים וְהִתְהֹלְלוּ הָרֶכֶב (ירמיהו מ״ו:ט׳). והשם: וְדַעַת הֹלֵלוֹת וְשִׂכְלוּת (קהלת א׳:י״ז), מָלֵא רָע וְהוֹלֵלוֹת (קהלת ט׳:ג׳), לִרְאוֹת חָכְמָה וְהוֹלֵלוֹת וְסִכְלוּת (קהלת ב׳:י״ב), הנפרד מהם הוֹלֵלָה בצירי. ומשקל אחר הוֹלֵלוּת רָעָה (קהלת י׳:י״ג), והמסורת לית כותיה שורק. ומשקל אחר וּבְמַלְאָכָיו יָשִׂים תָּהֳלָה (איוב ד׳:י״ח), והיתה הלמ״ד ראויה להדגש והוקל כמו לֹא יָשִׂים תִּפְלָה (איוב כ״ד:י״ב), שהוא מן וְנָתַן בִּפְלִלִים (שמות כ״א:כ״ב), בְּמִכְסַת נְפָשֹׁת (שמות י״ב:ד׳) מן תָּכֹסּוּ עַל הַשֶּׂה (שמות י״ב:ד׳), כלם ענין שגעון והיציאה מדעת השכל ומדרך הצדק והישר. וענין יִתְהוֹלְלוּ הָרֶכֶב כי מרוב מרוצתם בשמחה כאילו הם משתגעים מרוב השמחה. וכן עַל כֵּן יִתְהֹלְלוּ גוֹיִם (ירמיהו נ״א:ז׳), פירוש בראותם מפלת בבל. וענין שלישי: בְּהִלּוֹ נֵרוֹ עֲלֵי רֹאשִׁי (איוב כ״ט:ג׳), מקור מן הקל כי בתשלומו בְּהִלְלוֹ בפלס וּכְפִתְחוֹ עָמְדוּ כָל הָעָם (נחמיה ח׳:ה׳). והפעל הנוסף [הִפְעִיל]: אִם אֶרְאֶה אוֹר כִּי יָהֵל (איוב ל״א:כ״ו), לֹא יָהֵלּוּ אוֹרָם (ישעיהו י״ג:י׳), ויהל נופל הפעולה על האור ויהלו על הככבים. והשם: וּתְהִלָּתוֹ מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ (חבקוק ג׳:ג׳). ויש מפרשים מהענין הזה עַד יָרֵחַ וְלֹא יַאֲהִיל (איוב כ״ה:ה׳). ונכתב בו הנח אשר ביהל, יהלו ואף על פי שאיננו עקרי כמו שנכתב במלת אָז אֵיתָם (תהלים י״ט:י״ד). ויש מפרשים מענין זה וּבְמַלְאָכָיו יָשִׂים תָּהֳלָה, ומלת לֹא עומדת במקום שנים וכן הוא הן בעבדיו לֹא יאמין ולֹא במלאכיו ישים תהלה. ומהענין הזה נקרא כוכב הבקר הֵילֵל בֶּן שָׁחַר (ישעיהו י״ד:י״ב), וענין אליו כלם הנגה והאור.

What you're looking for is the last line. It says "הילל" is the morning star; i.e. Venus. From the language of shining.


According to Jastrow on page 366 in the following link it is the Pi'el Binyan of the verb form hollal. Hollal (הלל) means to praise as found on page 373. The sources indicating usage are listed there.


  • 1
    Indeed, הִילֵּל is what's listed in Jastrow, not הֵילֵל
    – Daniel
    Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 3:10
  • Yes, but the citation from Isaiah is referring to the rising of the "morning star", the planet Venus. The concept of the heavenly bodies praising while they are visible is repeated often in the Torah. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 11:21
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat. Commented Sep 2, 2015 at 12:36

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