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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary

Baal Zebub

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BEELZEBUB, or BELZEBUB, signifies the god of flies, and was an idol of the Ekronites. It is not easy to discover how this false deity obtained its name. Some commentators think that he was called Baal Samin, or the lord of heaven; but that the Jews, from contempt, gave him the name of Baal-zebub. Others with greater reason believe that he was denominated "the god of flies" by his votaries, because he defended them from flies, which are exceedingly troublesome in hot countries; in the same manner as the Eleans worshipped Hercules under the appellation of ‘Απομυιος , fly chaser. Pliny is of opinion, that the name of Achor, the god invoked at Cyrene against flies, is derived from Accaron, or Ekron, where Baal-zebub was worshipped, and where he had a famous temple and oracle. Winkelman has given the figures of two heads, "both of them images of Jupiter, called by the Greeks ‘Απομυιος , and by the Romans Muscarius; that is to say, fly driver; for to this Jupiter was attributed the function of driving away flies."

It is evident that Beelzebub was considered as the patron deity of medicine; for this is plainly implied in the conduct of Ahaziah, 2 Kings 1. The Greek mythology considered Apollo as the god of medicine, and attributed also to him those possessions by a pythonic spirit which occasionally perplexed spectators, and of which we have an instance in Acts 16:19 . Apollo, too, was the sun. Hence we probably see the reason why Ahaziah sent to Beelzebub to inquire the issue of his accident; since Beelzebub was Apollo, and Apollo was the god of physic. The Jews, who changed Beelzebub into Beelzebul, "god of a dunghill," perhaps had a reference to the Greek of pytho, which signifies putrefied. In Scripture Beelzebub is called "the prince of devils," Matthew 12:24; Luke 11:15; merely, it would seem, through the application of the name of the chief idol of the Heathen world to the prince of evil spirits. This was natural, since the Jews were taught in their own Scriptures to consider all the idols of the Heathens "devils." Those commentators who think that the idol of Ekron himself is intended, have indulged in an improbable fancy. See HORNET .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Baal Zebub'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/wtd/b/baal-zebub.html. 1831-2.

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