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34 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 



Beelzebul 

W. E. M. AITKEN 
COURTRIGHT, ONTARIO 

THE name Beelzebul, as is well known, occurs in the 
Synoptic Gospels, and is there applied to the chief of 
the demons. In the following pages its meaning will be 
discussed and its use. First, the question of the correct 
form of the word will be considered, and the contexts in 
which the name occurs examined. Then I propose to show 
that in New Testament times the word zebul was used 
specifically of heaven, and that, inasmuch as in each of the 
important non-Jewish religions of the period one god held a 
preeminent place, and he a sky-god, and a foreign god was 
considered by the Jews to be a demon, the name Beelzebul 
— i.e. Lord of Heaven — was properly applied to the chief 
of the demons. 

The word Beelzebul, with variants, is found in Mt. 10 28 
12 24. 27, Mk. 3 22, Lk. 11 is. 18. 19. Our first concern is to 
satisfy ourselves about the actual form of the word. The 
evidence x that I submit will show that the reading /3ee\£e- 
/3ov\ is supported by the most important witnesses, and that 
the deviations from that reading are entirely explicable. 

The Greek Mss. almost without exception read /3eeX£e/3oiS\. 2 

1 Teschendorf, Novum Testamentum Graece, 1869 ; Wordsworth and 
White, Novum Testamentum Latine, 1889 ff . ; Pusey and Gwilliam, Tetra- 
evangelium . . . simplex syrorum versionem, 1901 ; Lewis, Old Syriac Gos- 
pels, 1910 ; Ciasca, De Tatiani Diatessaron Arabice Versione, 1883 ; Ranke, 
Codex Fuldensis, 1868 ; Burkitt, Evangelion da-Mepharreshe, 1904 ; Rob- 
inson, "Ephraim's Citations from the Diatessaron," in J. H. Hill's Earliest 
Life of Christ, 1894. 

2 A few read /3e\fe/3oi)X ; B X (except Mk. 3 22) PeeXfrPoiX. These vari- 
ants are not important for our purpose ; with the latter might be compared 
beizebul in g 1 and mpb&M (Cooke, North Semitic Inscriptions, no. 54, 
1. 1 f.), D»B>M {Corpus Inscrip. Sem., i. 1. 139, 1), X3ra[3] (CIS, i. 2. 
869, 3), r»WM (CIS, ii. 1. 163 C), [I»]tt>W (CIS, ii. 1. 176). 



aitkbn: beelzebul 35 

This is supported by most of the Old Latin Mss. (a,f,ff\ q; 
k, d, h read behebul; b, velz.~), by some of the Syriac versions, 
and by the Armenian, Ethiopic, Gothic, Coptic (bete.), and 
others. The Vulgate reads beeteebub. This reading has 
influenced later scribes, with the result that it has been 
introduced into a few of the Mss. of the Old Latin ; but it 
causes no difficulty, for Jerome has explained that the word 
means "habens muscas, aut devorans rnuscas, aut vir mus- 
carum," and that on that account it is to be read beeteebub, 
and not beelzebul. 3 The Peshitta with the Sinaitic and the 
Cureton Syriac support the reading beeteebub; while syr p 
(Tischendorf), the Commentary of Ephraim on the Diates- 
saron, and the Diatessaron in Arabic 4 support beelzebul. 5 
This evidence suggests that the Diatessaron read beelzebul. 6 
It is demonstrable that the Syriac version has been influ- 
enced in other places by the Old Testament Peshitta 7 ; in 
the light of what we know concerning the reading of the 
Vulgate that is most probably the case here. Some frag- 
ments of homilies in Syriac 8 and a few Latin Mss. read 
beelzebud. An entirely adequate explanation of this is that 
it is due to a corruption originating in a Greek uncial Ms. 
(A fur A). 

The passages of the New Testament that bear on the 
question of Beelzebul are Mt. 9 34, 10 24 f., 12 24-28, Mk. 3 
22-26, Lk. 11 15-20. Jesus had been exorcising demons ; oppo- 
nents of his of the Pharisaic party offered an explanation of 
the phenomenon. They said that Jesus had Beelzebul, and 
that through him, the chief of the demons, he was working 
his wonders. Jesus, to show the weakness of the Pharisaic 

8 Liber de Nominibus Hebraicis — de Joanne, s.v. ' Beelzebub ' ; cf . also 
his Commentary on Matt. 10 25. 

4 Codex Fuldensis follows in general the order of the Diatessaron, but 
gives the text in accordance with the Vulgate. 

3 Gwilliam records a reading on the margin of a Jacobite Ms. of the 
twelfth or thirteenth century, S"el d'vuv. This is probably nothing but a 
textual error ; it might be due to the Syriac word debaba = fly, or possibly (?) 
to 833"! = enmity, as an interpretation (see below, p. 51 f.). 

6 So Burkitt, Evangelion da-Mepharreshe, ii. p. 205. 

7 Burkitt, op. eit., ii. p. 204, 289, et al. 

8 Anecdota Oxoniensia, Semitic Series, vol. i. pt. ix. p. 73. 



36 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

explanation, pointed out what befalls a kingdom, or a city, 
or a house, that is divided against itself. In like manner, he 
said, " if Satan hath risen up against himself and is divided, 
he cannot stand." " If I by Beelzebul," he retorted, " cast 
out demons, by whom do your people cast them out ? there- 
fore they shall be your judges. But if I by the Spirit of 
God cast out demons, then the kingdom of God is come upon 
you." At another time he said to his disciples : "A disci- 
ple is not above his master, nor a servant above his lord. It 
is enough for the disciple to be as his master, and the ser- 
vant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house 
Beelzebul, how much more them of his household ! " 

In seeking a satisfactory explanation of the name Beel- 
zebul, it is most natural to consider that it is a real name 
that has been applied to and is descriptive of the chief of 
the demons. Our first care is the word zebul, and we shall 
find that in addition to its ordinary meaning ' dwelling,' it 
was used, in the period with which we are concerned, specifi- 
cally of the dwelling of God, both of the temple in Jerusalem 
and of heaven. 

In Rosh ha-Shanah 17 a we read: b"DD OTT ltaWSttf 

"raina iisnem ttHp&n tra vb* "rot pn b baoz naew 

J "p 7Qt W3 ♦ . . . " because they stretched their hands out 
against the zebul, for it is written b 7D1& (Ps. 49 15 ; cf . 
Rashi and Ibn Ezra) ; and there is no zebul except the 
Temple, for it is written : I have built thee a bith zebul " 
(1 Ki. 8 13). This proves conclusively that vttt was used 
by itself of the temple in Jerusalem. Similar passages 
found in Jer. Berachoth, ix. 1 (Zitomir ed., fol. 56 5), Ruth 
R. 7n$\ JtDp (Warsaw ed., 1725, p. 30 J), and Tosefta San- 
hedrin 13 5 (ed. Zuckermandel 434 261.). 

In the Aboth de Rabbi Nathan, c. 37, in a passage which 
is attributed to Rabbi Meir, a pupil of Akiba, a list of the 
seven heavens is given : \b\ Tpl, BPfltB, Sot, pSO, p3fi, 
and ITD"l9. In Hagigah 12 b the list of the seven is given 
with a description of each. Zebul is that one in which are 
situated Jerusalem and the temple and the altar ; beside the 
altar the great prince Michael stands and offers sacrifice. 



AITKEN : BEELZEBUL 37 

The other six heavens are similarly described, and the de- 
scriptions are accounted for by texts. J1T1 (Latin, velum) 
is said to be the pi of Is. 40 22 ; Wpl is derived from 
Gn. 1 17; D'pntP comes from Ps. 78 23, where it is parallel 
to WOO; |190 is from Dt. 26 15; j"DO from 1 Ki. 839; 
HD1S is deduced from the parallelism of Ps. 68 5 and 
Dt. 33 26. 9 

The two passages quoted in connection with zebul are 
1 Ki. 8 13 and Is. 63 15 : 

•p hat no vpa ma *»n» pw 1 ? nan mm 
D^obis yeah poo 

and 

irnwarn ^wip Sato 10 mm D"»t^a toan 

These show that by seJitZ was understood both the temple 
and heaven. They also show whence this particular usage 
was ultimately derived. There are two other passages that 
have been influential in this direction — Hab. 3 11 and 
Ps. 49 15: 

rbzi nos rrp wow 
h bato b)$& rvteb tnun 

Ibn Ezra's comment on the first of these passages is: "DTK TO 
"D"Dt "70S DHO ; I take it the poet meant to say : the moon 
"stands," i.e. ceases to shine 11 in the zebul. n tPOW is prob- 

9 There Is also in the same place mention of a discussion whether there 
were two or seven heavens ; Rabbi Jehudah concluded from Dt. 10 14 that 
there were only two, while b"T (who Bacher, Agada der Tannaiten, vol. ii 
(1890), p. 65, n. 3, thinks was Simon b. Lakish, or perhaps Rabbi Levi) 
held that there were seven. Those who held to the seven differed among 
themselves as to their contents. The Slavonic Secrets of Enoch, c. 3 ft., and 
the Testament of Levi, c. 3, both give descriptive lists differing from each 
other and from the Talmudic list. 

10 This can only be translated : "from thy holy and glorious 'zebul,' " 
whatever 'zebul' is. The ordinary translation, "from the dwelling of thy 
holiness and glory," must mean from the dwelling place of thy holiness, 
etc., i.e. thy holy dwelling. 

11 Cf. Jonah 1 15, Josh. 10 13. 

12 Alongside of fbsi I should like to place TOJS in the following passage 
from Deut. 33 26 f . : TOCa BpTW lniKttl "pIM WtiV S3T JW -MO J"* 
{ C6l» nmT nnntfl dip rb* : There is none like the God of Jeshurun, Who 
rideth through the heavens to thy help, And in his majesty through the 
skies. In heaven is the God of old, But underneath are the everlasting arms. 



38 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

ably to be taken with the preceding verb. The other pas- 
sage has presented difficulty to commentators. Our chief 
interest is to know how the later Jews understood it, and 
this is clear. The Targum, followed by Rashi, has taken 
T? 7310 to mean ' because they stretched out their hands 
against the temple to destroy it.' This interpretation is also 
found in the Talmud and the Tosefta, 18 and I think in all 
probability it is correct, the last few words being an annota- 
tion. We may note in passing that Rabbi Jonah, quoted by 
Ihn Ezra, understood zebul in this passage as heaven, for he 
says, " the judgment of heaven is on every one." 

I took it for granted above that the ordinary meaning of 
zebul was dwelling, and of this there is little doubt. That is 
the meaning given by Abu'l-Walid and Kimhi in their dic- 
tionaries. Rashi has understood it so on Gn. 30 20, 2 Ch. 6 2, 
Hab. 3 n, Ps. 49 15 ; Ibn Ezra on Gn. 30 20, Is. 63 15, Ps. 
49 15; likewise the Targum on Gn. 30 20, Is. 63 15, Hab. 3 11, 
Ps. 49 15. This meaning is quite suitable in 1 Ki. 8 13 and 
Gn. 30 20. In the one case it is a more or less poetic ex- 
pression, for which Rashi (on 2 Ch. 6 2) gives the prosaic 
TttD. One might compare Ps. 26 8, 

7V3 pSO TQHK m,T 
"]TDD pWb DTpBl 
with 1 Ki. 8 13, 

lb bat HO "ITO TO3 
bk&w yaob foo 

In the other case it is probable that an etymology has been 
forced for the occasion from a denominative verb. There is 
no reason to suppose that the Greek translators were better 
acquainted with peculiar Hebrew words than the later 
Jewish commentators. The Greek of Gn. 30 20 (alperiei) 
may well be nothing more than a good guess or a free 
translation. 1 * 

w Rosh ha-Shanah, 17 a. T. Sanhedrin, 13 5 (ed. Zuckermandel, 434. 26 f.). 

14 The theory of Guyard (Journal Asiatique, vii. 12, p. 220 ff.), which 
was accepted by Fried. Delitzsch {Heb. Lang., p. 38) and Franz Delitzsch 
(Comm. on Oenesis, on 30 20) that the root idea of the word is "height" 
does not carry conviction, nor has it won assent. Cf. Noldeke, ZDMQ, xv. 



AITKEN : BBBLZEBUL 39 

This makes it clear that zebul was understood specifically 
of the dwelling of God, whether that was thought of as the 
temple on earth or the heavens; in later ages when the 
temple had long disappeared it was still used of heaven. 
The poets of the eleventh and twelfth centuries of the 
Christian era frequently use the word in this way. The 
Spanish poet, Shelomo ibn Gabirol (d. e. 1058), wrote as 
follows (44. If.) 15 : 

pan* areola b$b bat fi&rHwi pn# 
jwa^ an orris ow^a 1 ? rn *gfr\ bin 

Bahya ibn Pekuda (first half of 11th cent.) has used the 
word in the same way (54. 5) : 

i-tat niss *-i1ki rrv i,t p«i awft tre jian 

Ibn Ezra (d. 1167) bears the same testimony (135. 27): 

rrirjiD rnns jnyj wyg by mftn? 

and again (132. 20 f.): 

} bO[ 022 rfc® 'H\p JJT ItfPl&fifl 

One more example may be cited, this from Yosef ibn Zebara 
(beginning of 13th cent.) (148. 26): 

•jtoi ens wbxs tfttfa d^db ttx "Oine 

It li : • - T ! - 1 • T " " I 

There is little reason for thinking that the emphasis was 
placed much differently in the centuries immediately pre- 
ceding the Christian era, or that at that time the temple was 
immediately associated with the idea of 'dwelling of God.' 
Of course a prophet might say : 

Yahwe is in his holy temple, 

Let all the earth keep silence before him (Hab. 2 20), 

and the suppliant at the Jerusalem temple might cry : 

He heard my voice in his temple, 

And my cry came into his ears (Ps. 18 7). 

729 ; and Halevy, Revue des JStudes Juives, 1885 a, p. 299 ; 1887 a, p. 148. 
The Greek translation of Gn. 30 20 which is entirely explicable, and the 
Assyrian usage, which seems still to be uncertain, are not sufficient grounds 
for this conclusion. 

16 These examples are taken from Brody u. Albrecht, Neuhebraische 
Diehterschule, 1905. The figures give the number of the poem and the line. 



40 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

Isaiah, in vision, had seen the Lord sitting on a throne, high 
and lofty, and his train filled the temple — but it was the 
heavenly temple (Is. 6 1). Jeremiah warned his people 
against worshiping the temple, against crying : " the Tem- 
ple of Yahwe, the Temple of Yahwe, the Temple of Yahwe 
are these" (7 i). And this deeper note is frequent; 586 
succeeded 701 : 

Yahwe is in his holy temple, 

Yahwe — his throne is in the heavens (Ps. 11 4). 

"Doth God really dwell on earth? Behold the heavens and 
the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee ; how much less 
the house that I have built ! " (1 Ki. 8 27 = 2 Ch. 6 is). 
" Who is able to build him a house, seeing the heavens and 
the heaven of heavens cannot contain him?" (2 Ch. 2 6). 
"Heaven is my throne, and the earth my footstool, what 
kind of house will ye build unto me? Or what kind of a 
resting place?" (Is. 66 1). 

The New Testament presents the same picture. Men 
went in and out of the temple ; there the teachers taught, 
the people worshiped. But "the Most High dwelleth not 
in temples made with hands, as saith the prophet. The 
heaven is my throne, and the earth the footstool of my feet " 
(Acts 7 48 f.). "The God that made the world and all things 
therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in 
temples made with hands" (Acts 17 24). "And I saw no 
temple therein ; for the Lord God the Almighty, and the 
Lamb, are the temple thereof" (Rev. 21 22). Tldrep ^fx.S>v 6 
ev tov<! ovpavols. This explains why when the temple disap- 
peared nothing happened. 

I have presented facts to show that zebul means ' dwelling,' 
and par excellence the dwelling of God — heaven ; but that 
does not complete the discussion of the word. There are a 
considerable number of traces of its use as the name of a 
god. These are found in very different places and at very 
different times. 

An officer of Abimelech bore the name vDt (Ju. 9 28. so. 36. 
38. 41). " When a personal or geographical name is a single 



AITKEN: BEELZEBUL 41 

noun, it may be the name of a divinity." 16 A name, at the 
basis of which is our word zebul, was given to one of the 
Israelite tribes ; this was written fPSr, plSt, and once 
fPni in the Hebrew text, and is probably to be pronounced 
Jl?31. The Greek version, which is our oldest authority for 
the pronunciation of the word, represented it by lafiovkwv ; 
inasmuch as it distinguishes }1 and j*! this is of considerable 
importance. The adjective formed from fP5T is ^'Tttt 
(Jn. 12 11. 12, Nu. 26 27). If Zebulon is the correct pronun- 
ciation, it is probably a diminutive like JWK, JTlBS, |r?W, 
JWm, p*OS (cf. 'Obaid) and fW&D (cf. Sumais). 17 The 
name of the wife of Ahab, whom we know as Jezebel, is 
written in the Hebrew text ?3rK. The traditional pronun- 
ciation is in all probability due to the fact that in it was 
recognized the word ?3J (dung) ; but there is little doubt 
that that part of the name is a perversion of our zebul, and 
it may be that the whole word is the equivalent of bsrS^t, as 
some have thought. 18 "We do find WK Nu. 26 30 =SiraK 
Ju. 6 34 et al., and there we do not have to think of textual 
corruption. I should then compare it with such names as 

b»a*, byyzx, irroK, irmn, "p&^a, and *]bwm. in an 

inscription of the fourth century B.C. from Kition, mention 
is made of a woman whose name is 73tottf. 19 With this 
might be compared one in which Astarte is called 723 DTP. 20 
Another inscription 21 contains a name of which 73? is an ele- 
ment ; it has been transliterated as follows : 731KP93 ""Dp 
Dpfc p bpn TlK n|WK. The photographic reproduction 
is anything but clear, but clear enough to show that the 
copy is not an exact one. From what can be seen of the 

16 H. P. Smith in Old Testament and Semitic Studies in Memory of 
W. S. Harper, i. p. 49. 

17 See Noldeke, Eney. Biblica, " Names," § 77. 

18 Ewald, Lehrbuch d. Hebr. Spraehe, ed. 7, 1863, iii. § 273, n. 1 ; cf . 
Fiirst, Handworterbuch, 1857, s.v. ?3PK. The latter interprets it (s.v. "?13T) 
Herr der Himmelsburg = J1B& '3 = DVSS? '3. 

19 Cooke, North Semitic Inscriptions, 21. 4 ; cf. Noldeke, Ency. Biblica, 
"Names," § 39. 

20 Cooke, op. cit., 5. 18. 

21 CIS, no. 158. 



42 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

K of 721X753 it cannot be said to resemble very closely the 
other two S's in the same inscription ; it resembles the fl of 
SWU just as closely, and that reading would be explicable. 22 
A proper name, Zabullus, finally, is found on an altar dedi- 
cated to the Dii Manes in the walls of an old mosque at 
Tremesen. 23 After this accumulation of evidence there can 
be little doubt that Zebul was also a name applied to a god. 
For all that has been said regarding the usage of 7131, 
there is a complete parallel in pSa. This word is used of a 
lair of jackals (Jer. 9 10, 10 22, 49 33, 51 37), or a den of 
lions (Nah. 2 12), with the general idea of habitation. It 
is used of the dwelling place of Yahwe, both of the temple 
on earth (Ps. 26 8, 2 Ch. 36 15) and in a general way of 
heaven (Dt. 26 15, Zech. 2 17, Ps. 68 6, 2 Ch. 30 27). In a 
similar way Yahwe is said to be the madn of his people 
(Ps. 90 1; cf. 71 3, 91 9): 

•m to 137 rro nn* psa "on* 

Like zebul it is the name in Rabbinical literature of one of the 
heavens — the fifth 2 * ; and in medieval poetry is a designation 
of heaven itself. 25 What idea was associated with the use of 
maSn as the dwelling of God is a question raised by Dt. 3327: 
E712 nS7t nnriDI Olp rbm rDSa, and is answered as fol- 
lows : » D715 bo 1315a HOpfi OK p5TP 13K pK '31 ,735a STD 

1315a rvopn in '31 pse n «s>rai no fa 1315a iafr& an 

: 1315& 1&71S pHI D715 bo Like zebul again it was a place 
name : pSfi by itself, 28 JTSO IT'S," pSO 753, 30 or pSO 753 HO » 

22 There is a name on one of the ostraka recently found by the Harvard 
Expedition at Samaria that is written "OB^CS. 

23 Corpus Inscrip. Lat., viii. 9947, on which see Shaw, Travels, ed. 3, 
1808, p. 68. In viii. 5987, a part of the same name is found. 

24 Aboth de Rabbi Nathan, c. 37 ; Hagigah, 12 b. 

26 Brody u. Albrecht, op. tit., no. 16, 1. 21 ; no. 34, 1. 3. Cf. jl2», no. 34, 
1. 7. It seems to be so used in Dt. 33 27 ; see n. 12. 

2 « Bereshith R., 68, 67 c (Levy). 

27 Ps. 90 1, -m "na vb rvn nnx pro wk. 

28 Shabbath, 139 a. 

29 Jer. 48 23 ; Jer. Erub. v. (Zitomir ed. 26 6). 
» Nu. 32 88, Ez. 25 9, 1 Ch. 5 8. 

31 Jos. 13 17, Tosefta, ed. Zuckermandel, 71. 23. 



AITKBN : BEELZEBTTL 43 

From this it may be inferred that it was also the proper 
name of a god, though in what sense it was used we cannot 
tell any more than we could in the case of Zebul. 

Zebul is heaven ; Beelzebul is lord of heaven. With 
these facts decided we may proceed at once to the solution 
of the problem. It was the Pharisees who used the name ; 
Beelzebul was chief of the demons; the gods of the nations 
were considered by the Jews to be demons ; in each of the 
prominent religions of the period one god held a preeminent 
place, and he was a sky-god — these are the considerations 
on which the solution will be based. 

The Pharisees, Matthew tells us, were the people who 
said that Jesus was casting out demons by Beelzebul, the 
chief of the demons ; according to Mark it was the scribes 
who came down from Jerusalem — who in this case were in 
all probability of the Pharisaic party. These people were 
the makers as well as the observers of tradition. They 
were students and teachers of the Bible who represented the 
observant and progressive side of Judaism — the advocates 
of the new religion. They are the people from whom we 
may look for some information on the subject of demonology. 32 

Beelzebul is chief of the demons ; that is plain from the 
gospel narrative — " this man doth not cast out demons but 
by Beelzebul, the prince of the demons. " ffl It is necessary to 
see what was meant by 'chief of the demons,' and whence 
a 'chief of the demons' might come. The later Jewish 
demonology was composite in structure ; its materials were 
drawn from all accessible sources. Natural developments at 
home were combined with borrowings from abroad ; and the 
organization of it all was certainly a gradual and not neces- 
sarily a logical process. 34 

Satan was a product of Jewish history. At one time an 
officer of the celestial court, he later became the representa- 
tive of all that was evil, appropriating the functions and the 

32 See Ency. Biblica, " Scribes and Pharisees," § 6 f . 

33 Mt. 12 24 ; cf. 9 34, also Mk. 3 22, Lk. 11 15. 

84 Cf. Toy, " Evil Spirits in the Bible," JBL, 1890, p. 17 ft. 



44 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

names of various other prominent evil and supernatural 
beings, the evolution of the idea associated with him keeping 
pace with the development of Jewish angelology and demon- 
ology. 35 In a somewhat similar fashion the impulse to evil 
that is in man from his youth (Gn. 8 21) was personified ; 
the Yeser ha-Rd joined the number of the demons, and 
before long it was said w that Satan, Yeser ha-Rd, and the 
Angel of Death 37 were one and the same. Belial is another 
of the important demons. In the early Hebrew literature 
this word is found chiefly in such expressions as 79"v3 "^S, 
" vile scoundrels," w in later literature by a natural develop- 
ment it has become a proper name which is applied to the 
chief of the demons. 39 

The general state of affairs may be illustrated very well 
from the New Testament. In it there is frequent mention 
of demons or unclean spirits. Among these powers there is 
one that is regarded as chief — a>PX mv ™v Bai/iovia>v. He is 
ordinarily known as Sarara? or %arava<;, Ata/3o\o? or 
Ata/3oXo? ; but many other designations are also employed : 
6 dpymv tov Koafiov tovtov, 6 dp^mv t»)? ef overlap tov aepos, 6 
avonos, 6 ireipd^mv, 6 e%0p6<;, 6 irovqpo^, fteXiap, 6 o<f>i$, 6 o<f>K 6 
apxaios, 6 Bpdicwv. The number caused no difficulty whether 
they were regarded as epithets or real names ; on occasion 
several of them were used side by side : ejiXridr) 6 hpa/cav o 
fieya<;, 6 o^)ts d ap%ai<K, 6 KaXovfievos Ata^o\o? ical 6 2aTaz>a?, 
d irXavmv tyjv oiKovfie'vtjv okrjv (Iiev. 12 9). 

The demons that we have discussed so far, demons that 
came to be known as 'chief demons, were the result of 
native development, though there is little room for doubt 
that this development was fostered by foreign influence, 
especially by that of Babylonia and Persia. In addition to 
this external influence on the development of native Jewish 

35 Cf. Blau, Jewish Ency., s.v. " Satan," p. 69 a. 

86 By Simon b. Lakish, Baba Batra, 16 a. 

87 Cf. 1 Chr. 21 15, 2 Ki. 19 36, 2 Sam. 24 15. 

38 Moore, Judges, p. 417 ; cf. also p. 419. 

39 Ascension of Isaiah, 2 1 4 2 ; and many passages in the Testaments of 
the Twelve Patriarchs. 



aitkbn: bbblzebul 45 

demonology there is to be observed a certain direct depen- 
dence on foreign religions — on the one hand, a direct bor- 
rowing from the foreign religion ; on the other, explanations 
necessitated by the very existence of these religions. 

Direct borrowing from a foreign religion, naturally rare, 
may be illustrated by Asmodeus, 40 the great demon of whom 
we learn chiefly in the book of Tobit. Whatever be the cor- 
rect explanation of this name, there seems no longer room 
for doubt that in origin he was the great representative of 
evil in the Parsee religion, and that he was borrowed and 
" modified by the sovereign will of the popular imagination," 
and made into a chief of the demons 41 for the Jews. 

The other phase of direct dependence is more apparent. 
Hebrew religion had not advanced very far before it was 
necessary to explain the fact of foreign religion and foreign 
worship. Different explanations of the fact could be given, 
and were given. Yahwe might be considered the God of 
the Hebrews, and a foreign god the god of the foreign peo- 
ple concerned — the opinion of monolatrous theology. Or it 
might be said that a god of a foreign people was no god at 
all. On the other hand, it was possible to associate the two 
gods as the same god under different names. Origen in 
combating this view illustrates it. He says it is wrong for 
Christians to call God Zeus, that they are to be defended 
when they struggle even to the death to avoid calling God 
by this name or by a name from any other language. 42 He 
discusses the question further : vo/jl%ovcti firjBev 8ia<f>epeiv, el 
\e<yoi Tt? • cre{3a> rbv irp&rov Oebv rj rbv Ata f) Zy}Va, ical et 
<f>d<TKOi Tt? • Tifiai ical aTroBey^ofiai rbv tfXiov 7) rbv , KiroWmva 
Kal rrjv aeXrjvriv 9) rrjv "Aprefuv Kal to iv rrj 797 irvevfia rj rrjv 
Arj/xrjrpav Kal o<ra aWa <paalv oi "EiWr/vcov o-octW. 43 I suppose 
this was the course the Hellenists at the time of the Macca- 
bsean struggle and later had to pursue unless they were pre- 
pared to give up their own religion altogether. 44 

40 See Cheyne, Ency. Biblica, s.v. 

41 Called so in Git. 68 a ; Pesach. 110 a ; Targ. to Eccl. 1 13. 

42 C. Cels.,i.25. 

43 JExh. ad Martyr., § 46 ; cf. Justin Martyr, Apol., i. 54. 

44 Cf. Cheyne, Religious Life, p. 196. 



46 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

The explanation that was most generally accepted at that 
period, however, was different, "irdmei ol 6eo\ rmv i0v&v 
haiiiovla (Ps. 95 (96) 5 ; cf. 1 Ch. 16 26) ; ifiiyrja-av iv Tot? 
edveacv ical efiaOop ra epya air&v . . . eOvcrav tou? vloiis avr&v 
ical ra? Ovyarepa 1 ; avrcov t<h? Saifioviois (Ps. 105 (106) 37) ; 
oi Xonroi r&v avOpmirasv . . . ov8e fierevorjcrav ex to>p epyeov 
. . . iva fir) irpocricvvricrovcnv ra Sai/iovia (Rev. 9 20). This 
same idea apparently finds expression in 1 Corinthians : Sri 
a Ovovcnv, hcupLOvlois ical oi 6eq> Ovovo-w. 45 It was further 
explained that it was really God's doing that foreign nations 
should do so, for to all the people under the whole heaven 
he had at the beginning allotted the sun, moon, and stars, 
and all the host of heaven. 46 A slightly different theory 
held that when the Most High gave to the nations their 
inheritance, when he separated the children of men, he set 
the bounds of the people : Kara api0p.6v ajyeXcov 0eov (Dt. 
32 8). So hcderrcp Wvei Karearrja-ev rjyovfievov (Ecclus. 17 17). 
There is special mention of princes of Persia (Dan. 10 13. 20) 
and Greece (Dan. 10 20), and likewise of Israel; that of 
Israel is called Michael (Dan. 10 13. 21 12 1). 

The steadfast Jew of the Maccabsean period would have 
been more than human if, altogether apart from theological 
opinion, he had considered the god of the heathen oppressor 
aught else but a demon, and a very powerful and vicious one 
at that, when he saw the blasphemies (2 Mace. 6 4) that 
were committed in Judah and Jerusalem, the destruction of 
the people, the desolation of the holy city, the sanctuary in 
the hands of strangers (1 Mace. 2 i-m), the high priest send- 
ing sacrifices for Herakles at Tyre (2 Mace. 4 19), the for- 
eigner commanding that the holy temple be called by the 
name of Zeus Olympius (2 Mace. 6 2), the stranger coming as 
a man of peace and then cutting down the unsuspecting mul- 
titudes on the Sabbath day, and when he saw his own brethren 
forsaking the law of his fathers and of his God (1 Mace. 1 52). 

This particular state of affairs of course was transient, but 
on that account not necessarily quickly forgotten. It was 

« 1 Cor. 10 20 ; cf. Baruch, 4 7 (Swete), Dt. 32 17 ©. 

46 Dt. 4 19 ; cf. 29 26. A different explanation in Enoch 19 1. 



AITKBN : BEELZEBCJL 47 

one phase of a condition that was not transient, but one that 
was to endure. The cosmopolitan ideas of Alexander the 
Great, carried on by warrior and trader, pervaded the whole 
civilized world during the Hellenistic age. The greatness 
of the man is seen in the ambition that set itself to carry 
not only Greek arms to every land, but also Greek man- 
ners and customs, Greek language, Greek culture, enlisting 
all the virtues and energies of Asian life, and organizing 
them in a system and with a spirit that was Greek. His 
greatness is seen in the permanence of this conquest of 
Greek civilization in the face of the dissolution of Greek 
rule. With so much new in this life that was attractive, 
— opportunities for military service, for political and finan- 
cial usefulness ; more fertile lands abroad, commerce, cities, 
— with so much that was repellent, and the inability of any 
man to flee it or avoid it, it would be incredible if its influ- 
ence on Jewish religion could not be seen, if the influence 
that lay behind this movement did not make itself felt — 
the influence of its religion, its gods, its chief god. The 
gods of the nations are demons. 

In each of the prominent religions of the period one god 
held a preeminent place, and he was a sky-god. We have 
already mentioned in connection with the discussion of the 
relation of ' temple ' and ' heaven ' to ' dwelling of God ' that 
this was the case in the Jewish religion. It is worth point- 
ing out here to how great an extent it is true that the God 
of the Jews was God of heaven. In the first book of 
Maccabees there are almost a dozen examples of the use of 
heaven by metonymy for God; 47 in the second book there 
are almost as many. 48 The God of the Jews is called God 
or Lord or King of Heaven in many places. 49 This is found 
put in the mouths of Nebuchadnezzar and Cyrus, and in the 
edicts of Darius and Artaxerxes ; it is used by the Jews in 

47 1 Mace. 3 is. 50 4 10. 24. 40. 66 5 31 9 46 12 is 16 3. 

48 2 Mace. 7 11 8 20 9 4. 20 11 10 14 34 15 34. 

49 Ezra 1 2 5 11. 12 6 9. 10 7 12. 21. 23. 23 > Neh. 1 4. 6 2 4. 20, Dan. 2 is. 19. 87. 44 
4 87 5 23, Jonah 1 9, Ps. 136 26, Tobit 13 11, 2 Maec. 15 23. Cf. for the identi- 
cal usage in the Assuan papyri, Sachau, Drei aram. Papyrusurkunden, 
no. I, 2, 27 ; II, 26 ; III, 3. 



48 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

addressing men of other religions, and in speaking among 
themselves. Such expressions as D'ttEOttf 13 , 3S are very 
common in Rabbinical literature, 50 and simply represent the 
popular usage of the time. 61 Jesus adopted this usage as suit- 
able to his purpose: Harfjp 6 iv (to£?) ovpavoi? is found 
thirteen times in Matthew, Harrjp 6 ovpdvioi seven times. 62 

Similar to this is the cultus of Baalshamem — " the god 
who dwells in the heavens, to whom the heavens belong." 63 
A great deal of the material on this subject has been gathered 
together by Lidzbarski ; M from this it is clear that for the 
later time traces of this cultus are to be found in the whole 
north Semitic world from Sardinia and Carthage to Palmyra. 
In many cases he had risen far above the local Baals, e.g. at 
Palmyra; in some it may be that he had supplanted them. 
Lidzbarski's results need now to be revised in two respects : 
the occurrence of the name in an inscription of Esarhaddon, 65 
and in one of Zakir, king of Hamath and La'ash, 66 necessi- 
tates a much earlier date for the beginning of the cult than 
Lidzbarski had supposed ; 67 and the occurrence of the name 
in the Zakir inscription alongside of the names of other gods 
removes the objections he raised against supposing that the 
Dhii Samawi of South Arabia was equivalent to Baalshamem. 

The same general conditions prevailed in the important 
non-Semitic religions of the period. It is not necessary to 
demonstrate this ; m our problem is to show how the Jews 

60 In the Mishna : Sota 49 a, b, Aboth 23 a, Rosh ha-Shanah 29 a, Yoma 
85 6. 

61 Dalman, Words of Jesus, p. 188. 

62 Hawkins, Horm 8yn.\ p. 26. 

w Moore, Ency. Biblica, "Baal," § 4. 

64 Ephemeris, i. p. 243 ft. 

65 Schrader, Keilinschriften 3 , p. 357. 

66 Pognon, Inscriptions semitiques, 1908, pp. 156-178. 

67 Cf. Lidzbarski, op. cit., iii. p. 1 ft ; Montgomery, JBL, 1909, p. 67. 

68 Farrell, Cults of the Greek States, says : In the Greek theory concern- 
ing the physical world and the powers that ruled it, we find beneath the 
bewildering mass of cults and legends a certain vague tendency that makes 
for monotheism, a certain fusion of persons in one ; namely, Zeus. This 
tendency is genuine and expressed in the popular cult, and is to be distin- 
guished from the later philosophical movement. Thus Zeus could be identi- 



AITKEST: BEELZEBTJL 49 

regarded the situation, and that is clear. The religions with 
which they were brought face to face in no uncertain way in 
the New Testament period were those of Greece and Rome 
with their gods, Zeus and Jupiter. 

The one passage in the Old Testament which throws light 
on the Jewish attitude to these religions is the famous pptP 
D&tP of Daniel. 59 There seems no longer any reason for 
doubting that this is a contemptuous allusion to BfaV 752, 60 
from which we may infer that D^tP 753 was the name 
applied by the Jews to the god worshiped by Antiochus. 
We need not stop to inquire whether that be Jupiter or 
Zeus ; whichever it was, he was thought to be the one who 
had brought about the desolation of the sanctuary. The 
passage that bears the strongest testimony in favor of the 
theory that DfttP ppttf is a perversion of BPQVf 753, 
2 Mace. 6 2, givts further proof of the fact that DftZXff 753 
was the name the Jews applied to the god of the Greeks and 
Romans. In the Syriac version of this verse Zeus in the 
name Zev? 'OXv/x.Trio? and Zew Sew'o? is rendered p&t£753; in 
the Vulgate, Jupiter. 

There is outside testimony to show that this association 
was general. Jerome in discussing Dan. 11 31 says that there 
was a statue erected to Jupiter Olympius ; Syncellus 61 says 
in the same connection that the temple was denied by set- 
ting up in it Ato? 'O\v/xiriov fi$e\vyfia. Josephus, 62 further, 
quotes Dius as saying that Hiram joined to the city of Tyre 

fied with Poseidon as Zeus 4yi\u>s and in Caria as Zr)vo-TXo<reidQv ; he would 
be identified also with Hades, not only in the poetry of Homer and Euripides, 
but by the worshipers at Corinth or Lebadeia. The fortunate mariner 
could offer up his thanksgiving either to Poseidon or Zeus dwoj3aT^pios or 
2«Ti)p. The man who wanted a wind could pray to the various wind gods 
or to Zeus oSpios or eidve/ws (i. p. 47). His worship has a political signifi- 
cance higher than any other (i. p. 61), a political significance such as be- 
longed to no other Hellenic divinity (i. p. 63). No other Greek deity 
possessed so long a list of cult-names derived from names of people and 
towns (i. p. 63). 

69 Dan. 9 27 11 si 12 n ; cf. 8 18. 

«o Cf. Nestle, ZATW, 1884, p. 248. 

61 Corpus Script. Hist. Byzan., vol. xi. 1. p. 543. See Gratz, Gesch., ii. 
2. p. 314 f . 

62 Ant., viii. 5, 3 ; c. Ap., i. 17. 



50 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

the temple of Olympian Zeus, which had stood by itself, 
and Menander as speaking of Hiram's dedication of the 
golden pillar that was in the temple of Zeus at Tyre. This 
temple is distinguished from those of Hercules and Astarte ; 
that, together with the name applied to it, makes it very 
probable that it was the temple of Baalshamem. Philo of 
Byblus, according to Eusebius, 63 makes this association 
directly : tovtov yap 6ebv ["HXtoi'] ivop,i%ov /movov ovpavov 
Kvpiov, fieeXcrafirjv tcaXovvre;, 6 €<tti irapa <f>o£vil;i, Kvpios ovpa- 
vov, Zei>? Be irap "E\Xi;<ri. It is not of importance here that 
he confuses the sun with both Baalshamem and Zeus. 

The people who were troubling the steadfast Jews in the 
New Testament period and for some generations preceding 
were from Greece and Rome. The god who had been the 
cause of all this trouble, the one whom these people wor- 
shiped, was known to the Jews as WW 793. He was a 
demon, that was plain ; but as such it would never do to call 
him W1SV 793, for that, as we have seen, was the name of 
the god of the Jews. The mutilation of that name in 
Daniel shows how distasteful it was, to some of the Jews at 
least, to apply it to any but the true God. There were 
other words for heaven that were free from this association, 
that would suit the situation just as well — p71, S'p'l, 
D"pn», 7131, |W&, fDB, nniS were all used of heaven at 
this period. One, zebul, was chosen; why this particular 
one we do not know. Some of the above list, of course, are 
unsuited, but others not so unsuited. We have seen that 
zebul had often been used as the name of a god. It may be 
that this usage had persisted (there is some evidence that it 
had), that it had been interpreted in accordance with the 
developing meaning of zebul, and so had grown to fit the 
situation to which it was now applied. 

To conjecture further on this subject would be to guess. 
But whatever may have been the reason of the choice of 
zebul, it is beyond dispute that the god of the hated foreign 
religion was a sky-god, that the word that would first sug- 

68 Prep. Evang., 1. 10 beg. 



AITKEN: BEELZEBUL 51 

gest itself as the proper designation for him as chief of the 
demons was unsuited on account of its associations, that 
Beelzebul was not so unsuited, but was satisfactory in every- 
way, and was so applied. So Beelzebul, Lord of Heaven, 
came to be chief of the demons. 

The one passage, which has a bearing on the subject of 
Beelzebul, which we have not yet discussed, only confirms 
this result. " A disciple is not above his master, nor a ser- 
vant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that be as 
his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called 
the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more shall 
they call them of his household ! " Various suggestions 
have been made as to why Beelzebul is introduced here. 
The question that is to be answered is why the word oIko- 
£e<T7ro'T»7? is used, and not some other word ; and the answer 
is because of the ordinary meaning of zebul. It is a play 
on each other of the words S>W 753 and ITS! SsS — DK 

:to vib n»3 in bint bn imp nan bv^b (cf. Peshitta). 

Very little need be said of the interpretations of Beelzebul 
that have been offered hitherto. Almost all who have re- 
garded Beelzebul as a real name have started out with the 
assumption that zebul meant dwelling, and then conjectured 
or guessed at its application in a name ' lord of the dwelling ' : 
because the demon took up his abode in human bodies ; or 
because he had his dwelling in Tartarus or the nether world; 
or because he was prince of the powers of the air ; or a planet 
was referred to ; to be more exact, the planet Saturn, or per- 
haps the sky. This is not, so far as we know, an esoteric 
name ; but if it were and there were no way of finding out 
its application but by guessing, it would be as well not to 
guess. 

Some have supposed that Beelzebul is a euphonic modifica- 
tion of Baalzebub of Second Kings. Examples of changes 
similar phonetically have been adduced in sufficient number. 
The difficulty (which most who hold to this theory have 
avoided) is to explain the development in thought from 
Baalzebub to Beelzebul. To say that the fly is an unclean 



62 JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL LITERATURE 

and troublesome animal does not help much ; nor yet is one 
persuaded that the missing link is found in K331 ?S3 — a 
phrase that is quite intelligible though apparently not under- 
stood by some who write on this subject. All the conjec- 
tures that have been made along this line have to be viewed 
in the light of what we know about how the Jews themselves 
in the New Testament period understood Baalzebub. There 
is positive evidence from Josephus, the Greek translation of 
the Old Testament, and a passage in the Babylonian Talmud. 
Josephus 64 says that Ahaziah sent to Ekron to inquire of 
Mvia, " for that was the god's name." In the Greek transla- 
tion of 2 Ki. 1 2 we read Ahaziah's command : eVt^T^o-aTe 
iv to fidaX (ivlav 6eov 'Atcicapeov. We may feel confident 
that fwla is a translation of 3131, and in the light of Josephus' 
explanation, that it is here also regarded as a proper name. 
A Baraitha preserved in the Babylonian Talmud 65 goes 
somewhat beyond this. It connects Baalberith, who is said 
to have been worshiped at Shechem after the death of 
Gideon, with Zebub of Ekron ; and explains that the latter 
was a fly, and that people made images of him, and would 
carry one about in their pockets and kiss it. Early Christian 
interpreters, likewise, know nothing of any interpretation 
but that which connects the name with a fly — Theodoret 
on 2 Ki. 1 ; Philaster, Divers. Hares. Liber; Gregory Nazian- 
zen, Contra Julian., orat. iv ; Procopius of Gaza on 2 Ki. 1. 

So we are forced to the conclusion that facts have not 
been adduced to show nor a suggestion made that would 
reasonably explain how the chief of the demons was evolved 
out of a Canaanite god taken over by the Philistines, who 
had a certain reputation as a giver of oracles, but about 
whom we have no further information, nor reason for sup- 
posing that the Jews of New Testament times had. 66 

M Ant. ix. 2. 1. 

65 Shabbath 83 6. 

66 If, as seems probable, Baalzebub is a perversion of Baalzebul, it must 
be due to the author of the story or a very early editor. The earliest version 
knows only Baalzebub, and, what is more important, the Baal is intact, 
which would not have been the case had the word been changed in a late 
period. But there is no reason that I know of to suppose that any one in 



aitken: beelzebtjl 53 

The theory, proposed by Lightfoot 67 and adopted widely, 
that Beelzebul is an odious epithet applied to the chief of the 
demons, rests on error. He cites a passage of the Palestinian 
Talmud : « 8 JUTM 0?b W S«D DiTT 1BWBW BfflK "frtHH, 
which he translates " Etiam illis, qui manus suos extenderunt, 
in stercororio (id est, in Idoleo vel Idololatria) est spes." To 
make his translation of b'Dt doubly sure he points to the 
occurrence of the word pTGIfi in the same passage a few lines 
below. The passage he has translated owes its position to 
the fact that it is an interpretation of part of Ecclesiastes 9 4 : 
fim» W DTtfl bl bx naiT "WK , »> which differs from one 
given directly above it. It has no connection whatever with 
j ,L ?2tJD. What SOD DiTT Ifi^S does mean was pointed out 
on page 36. For further proof he quotes the expression 
iTA bfOm bvn a\ This is not our word at all; it is 
written with yod, and is doubtless to be pronounced with 
the same vowels as ppttf 69 — so it has no place in this 
discussion. 



the New Testament period had any idea that Baalzebub was a perversion of 
Baalzebul. This with reference to C. Harris in Murray's Bible Dictionary 
(ed. Piercy, 1908, s. v. "Baalzebub"), who though he knows what Zebul 
means, fails in this respect to connect the names Baalzebub and Beelzebul, 
and also to interpret correctly the Zebul of Beelzebul. 

67 JKorce Hebr., 1st ed. 1674, Eng. trans. 1684 ; on Matt. 12 24, Lk. 11 15. 

68 In the Zitomir edition it is Berachoth 56 6. 

69 So far as I know both the abstract noun and the verb from the same 
root are always found in the intensive stem.