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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature


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(Βεελζεβούλ, BEELZEBUL) is the name assigned (Matthew 10:25; Matthew 12:24; Mark 3:24; Luke 11:15 sq.) to the prince of the daemons. It is remarkable that, amid all the daemonology of the Talmud and rabbinical writers, this name should be exclusively confined to the New Testament. There is no doubt that the reading Beelzebul is the one which has the support of almost every critical authority; and the Beelzebub of the Peshito (if indeed it is not a corruption, as Michaelis thinks, Suppl. p. 205), and of the Vulgate, and of some modern versions, has probably been accommodated to the name of the Philistine god BAAL-ZEBUB (See BAAL-ZEBUB) (q.v.). Some of those who consider the latter to have been a reverential title for that god believe that Beelzebul is a wilful corruption of it, in order to make it contemptible. It is a fact that the Jews are very fond of turning words into ridicule by such changes of letters as will convert them into words of contemptible signification (e.g. Sychar, Beth-aven). Of this usage Lightfoot gives many instances (Hor. Hebr. ad Matthew 12:24).

Beelzebul, then, is considered to mean בִּעִל זֶבֶל, i. q. dung-god. Some connect the term with זְבוּל, habitation, thus making Beelzebul = οἰκοδεσπότης (Matthew 10:25), the lord of the dwelling, whether as the "prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2), or as the prince of the lower world (Paulus quoted by Olshausen, Comment. in Matthew 10:25), or as inhabiting human bodies (Schleusner, Lex. s.v.), or as occupying a mansion in the seventh heaven, like Saturn in Oriental mythology (Movers, Phoniz. 1, 260). Hug supposes that the fly, under which Baalzebub was represented, was the Scarabaeus pillularius, or dunghill beetle, in which case Baalzebub and Beelzebul might be used indifferently. (See BAALIM); (See FLY).


"A few months since a peasant man found near Ekron, five miles southwest of Ramleh, on the great maritime plain of Philistia, a stone seal about one inch square on the face, bearing a peculiar device,and which I purchased for a trifle; not considering it of any great value. Since then many antiquarians, to whom impressions were sent, have pronounced the device an image of Beelzebub, the great Fly-god, and the only one ever discovered. He is represented as a man of the Assyrian type, with short beard and four wings. In his hands he holds two apes or monkeys, denoting, perhaps, his office as prince of devils"' (De Hass, Travels in Bible Lands, p. 424).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Beelzebub'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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Beeman, Jacob
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