The Phoenician god at Ekron consulted by King Ahaziah (2 Kings 1.2–18). The name in Hebrew means “Lord of Flies,” but no evidence exists for a Philistine god who either drove off flies or gave oracles through their buzzing. The Hebrew form is probably a derogatory transformation of Baal‐zebul, which appears in Ugaritic texts meaning “Lord Baal,” but could also be understood as “Master of the Heavenly House” (cf. Matt. 10.25). In Aramaic, Beel‐zebul may have been construed as “Lord of Dung,” Beel‐zebub possibly as “Enemy.” During the Greco‐Roman period, Beel‐zebul came to be used for a leader among the demons opposed to God. Jesus denies that he casts out demons by authority of Beelzebul, the ruler of demons (Matt. 12.24–27 par.). Some translations employ Beelzebub in the New Testament passages, following the text of 2 Kings. Christian interpreters identified Beelzebul with Satan on the basis of the Gospel passages.

Robert Stoops