1902 Encyclopedia > Beelzebub


BEELZEBUB. The name of the supreme god among all the Syro-Phcenician peoples was Baal, i.e., lord or owner; and by adding to it zebub, insect, the proper name Baal- zebub was formed, the god of Ekron according to 2 Kings i. 2, the fly-god, the averter of insects, similar to the Zevs ____, ___, and the Hercules _____; so that Clemens Alexandrinus speaks of a Hercules ____ worshipped in Rome. Hug's hypothesis that this Philis- tine god was the dung-beetle, the Scarabceus pillularim, worshipped in Egypt, cannot be accepted. Beelzebub was so named not from his form, but from his supposed power of driving away noxious flies. In the New Testament the word is applied to Satan, the ruler or prince of the demons (Matt. x. 25, xii. 24, 27; Mark iii 22; Luke xi 15, 18, 19). But the best Greek MSS. read ____, Beelzebul, in the Gospels,—an orthography followed by the latest critical editions, though the Syriac and Vulgate versions have Beelzebub, which is also recommended by Jerome. What is the origin of Beelzebub 1 l The most obvious derivation of it is Baa(or lord) of the dwelling, a name of Saturn among the Phoenicians, accord-ing to Movers, synonymous with ____

So it may mean Baal of the heavenly dwelling or habitation, just as Satan is termed in the epistle to the Ephesians (ii. 2) " prince of the power of the air." Others suppose that Beelzebul arose from Beelzebub by a pun on the part of the later Jews, who wished to throw ridicule on idols by forming the appellation lord of dung, —____ or ___ meaning dung in the Targumic and Talmudic dialects. This is improbable, because Beelzebul was not a current name in Jewish litera-ture. Somewhat different is the opinion of Lightfoot, based upon various Talmudic passages, in which zebul, dung, or a dunghill, is applied to an idol or idolatry and the verb ____, to dung, to sacrificing to an idol, so that is not a proper name, but a general and common one, equivalent to the lord of idolatry, prince of the demons, the most devilized of all devils = _____. In this way the word has the secondary sense of idol, and Baalzebul has no connection with the proper name Beelzebub. The passages in question are far from support-ing the hypothesis. Zebul is not a Hebrew word. It has not the sense of idol in Chaldee. In the Targums zebd has no other signification than dung. A nickname or opprobrious epithet is not a real name or the signification of a word properly so called. All that the quotations fairly imply is, that an ignominious name was sometimes given to idols or idolatry, dung, or a thing of dung. Hence Light-foot and those who follow him, such as Gesenius and Schleusner, are in error. If zebul be a part of the name Beelzebul added to it designedly, it is more probable that it was meant to express contempt for a leading god of the heathen. But it is exceedingly doubtful whether it was common as early as the New Testament. According to the Gospels, the Jews attributed the power of expelling demons which Jesus possessed to his connection with Satan, the ruler of the demons; and their notions of Satanic influence forbid the idea of applying the name dung-god (if such was its meaning) to a being like the deviL We reject the two leading derivations of the word Beel-zebul, whether that sanctioned' by Lightfoot and Buxtorf, lord of dung, which is adopted by Fritzsche and De Wette; or lord of the dwelling, followed by Paulus, Jahn, and Hitzig. Meyer ingeniously supposes that the latter is favoured by the words of Matthew x. 25, where _____ is thought to be assigned to Jesus significantly, in allusion to Beek£if3ovk; and as Sccnrorrjs corresponds to _____, an analogous word must be found for _____, viz., The reasoning, however, is fallacious. The reading in Matthew x. 25 is not certain,—Lachmann following the Vatican MS. in giving _____ instead of the usual ______. Then, again, the passage is unique in saying that the Jews gave Jesus the surname Beelzebul. We learn from Matth. xii. 24 that they said he cast out demons " by Beelzebul, prince of the demons," which does not agree with x. 25, but is a more intelligible and likely statement. That they actually called Jesus Beelzebul is a doubtful assertion, notwithstanding Meyer's affirmation to the contrary. The change of the final letter from b to I seems to have been accidental Such alterations are not unusual, as Bab-el-mandel from Bab-el-mandeb, Rabbuli from Rabbuni, Ambakum from Habakkuk. L, being a softer sound than b, was a natural change. Why the name Beelzebul was applied to Satan at the time of Christ is obscure. Probably it originated in no specific reason. The appellation of a leading god was readily transferred to the deviL It is therefore idle to inquire on what grounds the Jews assigned to the Beelzebub of Ekron the peculiar position of " prince of the demons." The Philistine god had become but a name.

Lightfoot'a Home JEtebrceicce et Talmudicce, Works, vol. ii. pp. 188, 189, 429, ed. Strype, 1684; Selden, De dis Syris, Syntagma, ii. cap. vi. p. 301, &c, ed. Lupd. Bat. 1629 ; Gesenius, articles "Bel and "Beelzebub" in Ersch und Gruber's Encyclopaedia; Buxtorf, lexicon Chaldaieum Talmudicmn et Rabbinicvm, pp. 333, 334; Winer's Sealworterbxuk, s. w. "Baal," "Beelzebub;" Men in Schmkel's Bibtl-Uxiam, vol. i. p. 329 ; De Wette's Kritisch-txege- tisches Handbuch ins N. T.; Meyer's Kommentwr ueber dot Neue Testament; Movers's Die Phamizier, i. p. 260. (8. D.)


S<w Hiarosol. JBerachoth, fol. 12,13 ; and Midrash Shir, fol. 2. 1.

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