Thursday, July 20, 2006



This word (in the form Βεελζεβούλ or Βεεζεβούλ) is found 7 times in the NT:
  • Mat 10:25  It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
  • Mat 12:24  But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, "It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons."
  • Mat 12:27  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 
  • Mar 3:22  And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "by the prince of demons he casts out the demons." 
  • Luk 11:15  But some of them said, "He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons," 
  • Luk 11:18  And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. 
  • Luk 11:19  And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. 
In practice, note that Mk 3:22-30 = Mt 12:24-32 = Lk 11:15-22 (Lk and Mt adding material - Q or not Q - to the Markan story), so it's actually two distinct occurrences.

The Vulgate renders Βεελζεβούλ as "Beelzebub". It is the same name as Baalzebub. According to 2Kings 1:2, Baalzebub is "the god of Ekron" (Ekron was a Philistine capital); in the context of this verse, for Ahaziah to inquire of Baalzebub is tantamount to deny Yahweh. Literally, Baalzebub is the "Lord of flies", and the LXX renders it as Μυῖα θεός (καὶ ἐπιζητήσατε ἐν τῇ Βααλ μυῖαν θεὸν Ακκαρων), i.e. the "Fly-God" ("Baal the fly").

The change from Baalzebub into Beelzebub shifts the meaning of the word from Fly-God into "Lord of the [heavenly] dwelling" (or "Lord of dung"?). Interesting (although I am not able to verify its accuracy) the suggestion that szebuhl, in Rabbinic language, means not any dwelling, but specifically the Temple. This meaning seems attested by Mt 10:25: master of the Temple is now Beelzebul himself.

Mark has  ἐν τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια and similarly Luke has Ἐν Βεελζεβοὺλ τῷ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων ἐκβάλλει τὰ δαιμόνια (articular), while Matthew has ἐν τῷ Βεελζεβοὺλ ἄρχοντι τῶν δαιμονίων (anarthrous), i.e. Beelzebul would perhaps be the prince of the daemons in the former case, and one of the princes in the latter.

Note the irony in the fact that Mk 3:11 has the "unclean spirits" falling down before Jesus and crying Σὺ εἶ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ θεοῦ, and this immediately in front of 3:22-30, where the scribes "kept saying" that, instead, Jesus Βεελζεβοὺλ ἔχει. Interesting use of the imperfect in all verbs (both in the acts of the spirits and of the scribes) as to indicate repeated actions. (the spirits kept falling down and recognizing Jesus' divine nature, the scribes kept saying that Jesus was possessed - each one reiterating his own convictions.)

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