« Beecher, Willis Judson Beelzebub Beer, Georg »


BEELZEBUB, be-el´ze-bUb (properly, in all the New Testament passages—Matt. x. 25; xii, 24, 27; Mark iii, 22; Luke xi, 15, 18, 19Beelzeboul); The name of the prince of the demons; i.e., of Satan. The reading Beelzeboul has also this in its favor that the Greek oikodespotēs, "master of the 26house" (Matt. x, 25), seems to play upon be‘e1 zebul (be‘el being the Aramaic form for the Hebrew ba‘al). Nothing more than a play upon the word is to be sought in oikodespotēs, which is not a translation of the Aramaic; "master of the (Satanic) kingdom" would be a meaningless designation of the prince of hell. In spite of the correctness of the reading Beelzeboul, it is justifiable to trace this name to the much older name Baal-zebub, which is found in the Old Testament as that of an idol.

Baal-zebub was honored in Ekron, where he had a temple and an oracle, which was consulted by Ahaziah, king of Israel (II Kings i, 2, 3, 16). The name as it stands means "lord of flies"; the Septuagint calls the god directly "fly"; so also Josephus (Ant., IX, ii, 1). In classical mythology, there was a god who protected from flies. It is related that Hercules banished the flies from Olympia by erecting a shrine to Zeus Apomuios ("averter of flies"); and the Romans called Hercules Apomuios. A similar deity is mentioned as acting and honored in different places, the excuse for such worship being the plague which flies cause in those warm countries. Both the sending of flies and the driving them away were referred to the same divinity. As may be inferred from the name Baal, the Baalzebub of the Philistines was essentially identical with the principal god or gods of the Phenicians. He may have been lord of flies as sun-god, because flies are most numerous in midsummer, when the sun is hottest. And that he had an oracle is to be explained by a substitution of effect for cause. Flies come obedient to certain atmospheric conditions; hence the god was considered to have caused these conditions, and so at length his control was extended to other events, and accordingly he was consulted (see Baal).

Beelzebul was early identified with Baal-zebub, and, as was so often the case, was turned into a bad demon, in accordance with later Jewish ideas. Since Lightfoot (Horæ Heb., s.v.), it has been common to say that the name of the demon Beelzebul was purposely made out of Beel-zebub, in order to express contempt and horror; i.e., "lord of dung," instead of "lord of flies." But, inasmuch as such a name for Satan does not occur outside of the New Testament, it is better to seek its derivation in the old Ekronic worship, which might, in New Testament times, have still existed. Beelzebul may therefore be looked upon as the same name as Beel-zebub, and therefore as having the same meaning.

Bibliography: E. C. A. Riehm, Handwörterbuch des biblischen Alterthums, s.v., Bielefeld, 1893–94 (revives the theory that the Syriac form may have meant simply "an enemy," cf. KAT, p. 461); J. Selden, De die Syris, London, 1617; J. Lightfoot, Horæ hebraicæ on Matt. xii, 24, and Luke xi, 15, ib. 1675; F. C. Movers, Die Phönizier i, 260–261, Bonn, 1841; idem, in JA, 1878, pp. 220–225; P. Scholz, Götzendienst und Zauberwesen bei den alten Hebräern, pp. 170–173, Regensburg, 1877; Nowack, Archäologie, ii, 304–305; EB, i, 514–515; JE, ii, 629–630.

« Beecher, Willis Judson Beelzebub Beer, Georg »
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