2 Kings 1:1-18, Baalzebub - god of Ekron (6/21/13)
Get ready to tackle our hottest topic yet: the Devil.
The Big Lie – A Biblical word study on the Devil
Beelzebub and Lucifer – Not the Devil
The King of Tyre
More of The Big Lie
Copyright information, disclaimers, and sponsors
Return to homepage
If everyone calls you by a name that’s not on your birth certificate, does that eventually become your name? We’re going to look at some names – and some words we only think
are names – that do not refer to the Devil in the Bible. If you want to say, “Well, that’s a name for the Devil now
,” I’m not going to argue about it, but I do ask you to remember that these were not names for the Devil in the time of Jesus.
The Hebrew baalzebub
is the proper name of the god of the Philistine city of Ekron. It is used four times, all in the same passage, which we read today. Baal
literally means master
, or husband
. It’s used 81 times in the Old Testament, and all but about three times it is referring to some foreign god or idol. Zebub
might have meant prince
when the Philistines were talking about their god, but in Hebrew it means fly
is used independently twice in the OT, both times referring to the actual insect (Ecclesiastes 10:1 and Isaiah 7:18). The Septuagint has Baal muian
in these verses of Ecclesiastes and Isaiah. Muian
isn’t found in the NT, but it is Greek for of flies
. So the OT writers called Baalzebub, god of Ekron, “the Lord of the Flies.”
From the Bible in Basic English, with selections from the King James and Contemporary English Versions:
1 After the death of Ahab, Moab made itself free from the authority of Israel.
Matthew 9:32-35, 12:22-29, Baalzebub - prince of demons (6/24/13)
2 Now Ahaziah had a fall from the window of his room in Samaria, and was ill. And he sent men, and said to them, Put a question to Baalzebub Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, about the outcome of my disease, to see if I will get well or not.
3-4 But the angel of the Lord said to Elijah the Tishbite, Go now, and, meeting the men sent by the king of Samaria, say to them, Is it because there is no God in Israel, that you are going to get directions from Baalzebub Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Give ear then to the words of the Lord: You will never again get down from the bed on to which you have gone up, but death will certainly come to you. Then Elijah went away.
5 And the men he had sent came back to the king; and he said to them, Why have you come back?
6 And they said to him, On our way we had a meeting with a man who said, Go back to the king who sent you and say to him, The Lord says, Is it because there is no God in Israel that you send to put a question to Baalzebub Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? For this reason, you will not come down from the bed on to which you have gone up, but death will certainly come to you.
7 And he said to them, What sort of a man was it who came and said these words to you?
8 And they said in answer, He was a man clothed in a coat of hair, with a leather band about his body. Then he said, It is Elijah the Tishbite.
15 Then the angel of the Lord said to Elijah, Go down with him; have no fear of him. So he got up and went down with him to the king.
16 And he said to him, This is the word of the Lord: Because you sent men to put a question to Baalzebub Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, for this reason you will never again get down from the bed on to which you have gone up, but death will certainly come to you.
17-18 So death came to him, as the Lord had said by the mouth of Elijah. And Jehoram became king in his place in the second year of the rule of Jehoram, son of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah; because he had no son. Now the rest of the acts of Ahaziah, are they not recorded in the book of the history of the kings of Israel?
The New Testament Greek word beelzeboul
(given in some manuscripts and translations as Beelzebub
, probably because of its Old Testament associations) is apparently a reference to Baalzebub. (By the way, beelzeboul
is not used in the Greek Old Testament.) The meaning of zeboul
is a little uncertain – according to Wikipedia
, it may be a slurred pronunciation of zebub
, or from zebel dung
, or from zebul lofty
. Apparently zebul
isn’t used independently anywhere in the NT; however, Strong’s dictionary says Baalzebul
means “dung god,” and I’ve read that in several commentaries as well. If that’s correct, Beelzebul is a scornful, mocking reference to Baalzebub, Lord of the Flies.
Now, two things interest me about the single occasion described in the first three passages that we read today. First, the people who are referring to Beelzebul are the scribes and Pharisees, who knew the scripture very well. One might think that if they said “Beelzebul,” they probably meant “Baalzebub,” who was the god of Ekron. (Note that scholars are divided about this, based on linguistics; I’m just giving you my opinion.)
Second, they call him the “prince of demons,” not “the Devil,” and the context of the discussion is demon-possession and casting out demons, not temptation or sin. As we have seen, demons appear to be mostly associated with sickness in the New Testament, and the passage in 2 Kings is also about sickness. The Devil, on the other hand, is associated with temptation or sin. My inclination is that Beelzebub and Beelzebul are not Biblical names for the Devil.
How did Beelzebub get connected to the Devil? The Devil became a popular topic in intertestamental times, and writers of popular literature decided that Baalzebub was one of the Devil’s assistants, or possibly the Devil himself. This was picked up by early non-Biblical Christian writers, and then cemented by Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress.
For a more-thorough review of the non
-Biblical ideas about Baalzebub and Beelzebul, try here
From the Bible in Basic English, with a few clarifications from me:
9:32-34 And while they were going away, there came to him a man without the power of talking, and daimonizomai with a demon. And when the daimonion demon had been sent out, the man had the power of talking: and they were all surprised, saying, Such a thing has never been seen in Israel. But the Pharisees said, By the ruler of daimonion demons, he sends daimonion demons out of men.
Mark 3:22-27; Luke 11:14-26 (6/25/13)
35 And Jesus went about all the towns and small places, teaching in their Synagogues and preaching the good news of the kingdom and making well all sorts of disease and pain.
12:22-23 Then they took to him one daimonizomai with a demon, who was blind and had no power of talking: and he made him well so that he had the power of talking and seeing. And all the people were surprised and said, Is not this the Son of David?
24 But the Pharisees, hearing of it, said, This man only sends daimonion demons out of men by Beelzebul Beelzebub, the ruler of daimonion demons.
25-26 And having knowledge of their thoughts he said to them, Every kingdom having division in itself is made waste, and every town or house having division in itself will come to destruction. And if Satanas Satan sends out Satanas Satan, he makes war against himself; how then will he keep his kingdom?
27-29 And if I by Beelzebul Beelzebub send daimonion demons out of men, by whom do your sons send them out? So let them be your judges. But if I by the Spirit of God send out daimonion demons, then is the kingdom of God come on you. Or how may one go into a strong man's house and take his goods, if he does not first put cords round the strong man? and then he may take his goods.
Pay attention to Mark 3:23-26 and Luke 11:17-18. Baalzebub isn’t the Devil, but he is part of Satan’s kingdom. It’s interesting that Jesus’ famous saying, “He who is not with me is against me,” follows immediately after the discussion of Baalzebub and Satan. The demon prince Baalzebub is fighting against Jesus by trying to keep people ill and under the power of demons; he is on the side of Satan.
From the Bible in Basic English, with a few clarifications by me:
Mark 3:22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem, said, He has Beelzebul Beelzebub, and, By the ruler of daimonion demons he sends daimonion demons out of men.
Isaiah 14:1-22, Lucifer - not the Devil (6/26/13)
23-26 And turning to them, he said to them in the form of a story, How is it possible for Satanas Satan to put out Satanas Satan? If there is division in a kingdom, that kingdom will come to destruction; And if there is division in a house, that house will come to destruction; And if Satanas Satan is at war with himself, and there is division in him, he will not keep his place but will come to an end. But no one is able to go into the house of the strong man and take his goods, without first putting cords round the strong man, and then he will take his goods.
Luke 11:14 And he was sending an daimonion demon out of a man who was without the power of talking. And it came about that when the daimonion demon had gone the man had the power of talking; and the people were full of wonder.
15-16 But some of them said, He sends out daimonion demons by Beelzebul Beelzebul, the ruler of daimonion demons. And others, testing him, were looking for a sign from heaven from him.
17-18 But he, having knowledge of their thoughts, said to them, Every kingdom in which there is division is made waste; and a house in which there is division comes to destruction. If, then, Satanas Satan is at war with himself, how will he keep his kingdom? because you say that I send daimonion demons out of men by the help of Beelzebul Beelzebul.
19-20 And if I, by Beelzebul Beelzebul, send out daimonion demons, by whose help do your sons send them out? so let them be your judges. But if I, by the finger of God, send out daimonion demons, then the kingdom of God has overtaken you.
21-22 When the strong man armed keeps watch over his house, then his goods are safe: But when one who is stronger makes an attack on him and overcomes him, he takes away his instruments of war, in which he had put his faith, and makes division of his goods.
23-26 He who is not with me is against me, and he who will not give me help in getting people together is driving them away. The unclean spirit, when he has gone out of a man, goes through dry places, looking for rest; and when he does not get it, he says, I will go back to my house from which I came. And when he comes, he sees that it has been made fair and clean. Then he goes and gets seven other spirits more evil than himself, and they go in, and take their places there: and the last condition of that man is worse than the first.
“Lucifer” is not a biblical name for the Devil. Isaiah 14:12 is not talking about the Devil; it’s talking about the king of Babylon
. We know this because that’s what Isaiah says
, and he should know who he’s talking about! The king of Babylon thought he was pretty hot stuff, and God is about to bring him down: now
who’s hot stuff, O King? Are we to believe that in the middle of a long, sarcastic taunt against the king of Babylon Isaiah talks about the Devil in one verse? I don’t think so!
The “name” Lucifer is found only once in the Bible, and then not in most translations. “Lucifer” is a Latin translation of the Hebrew word haylale
, which also appears only this one time. According to the Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon
means shining one
and comes from the verb to shine
. The highly influential King James Version has Lucifer
, as does An American Translation
, 1935, by Powis Smith and Goodspeed. Those are the only two translations I found with “Lucifer.”
The Jerusalem Bible has “Daystar.” Moffatt has “shining star of the dawn.” The New English Bible and Bible in Basic English have “bright morning star.” The Contemporary English Version and God’s Word have “morning star.” The Jewish Publication Society Bible, which is often word-for-word like the King James, has “day-star,” as does the KJV’s daughter, the Revised Version. The Revised Standard Version, English Standard Version, and International Standard Version also have “day-star.”
It is truly ironic that much of what we thought we “know” about the Devil comes from this passage, when in reality Isaiah is talking about the king of Babylon. Tune in tomorrow for more evidence that “Lucifer” isn’t even a proper name in the Bible, much less a name for the Devil.
From the Bible in Basic English, with selections from several other translations:
Isaiah 14:3-6 And it will be, in the day when the Lord gives you rest from your sorrow, and from your trouble, and from the hard yoke which they had put on you, That you will take up this bitter song against the king of Babylon, and say, How has the cruel overseer come to an end! He who was lifted up in pride is cut off; The stick of the evil-doers, the rod of the rulers, is broken by the Lord; He whose rod was on the peoples with an unending wrath, ruling the nations in passion, with an uncontrolled rule.
Job 3:9, 11:17, 38:12, 41:18 (6/27/13)
12 How great is your fall from heaven, O haylale shining one, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the earth, low among the dead bodies!
King James Version: Lucifer
International Standard Version, Revised Version, American Standard Version: Day Star
Contemporary English Version, Good News Bible: Bright morning star
God’s Word: Morning star
22 For I will come up against them, says the Lord of armies, cutting off from Babylon name and offspring, son and son's son, says the Lord.
So if the Hebrew word haylale shining one
in Isaiah 14:12 isn’t talking about the Devil, where did “Lucifer” come from? The ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), has eosphoros
in place of haylale
in that verse. I don’t read Classical Greek, and eosphoros
doesn’t occur in the NT. According to Wikipedia
, however, it means “dawn-bringer,” i.e., the planet Venus.
The Greek word eosphoros
is used seven times in the LXX, but only once to translate haylale.
We read all seven today. As usual, bold italics give you first the Hebrew word and then the Greek word, which is eosphoros
, right before the English word.
Look at how the King James Version translates the other six verses:
- 1 Samuel 30:17: twilight;
- Job 3:9: day;
- Job 11:17: either noonday or morning;
- Job 38:12: dayspring;
- Job 41:18: morning.
- Psalms 110:3. morning.
All of these verses have to do with time of day
, namely, the early morning, just as the Classical Greek word eosphoros
does. Are we to believe that once
refers to the Devil? I don’t think so!
The Devil became a popular figure in non-Biblical and non-Apocryphal literature during intertestamental times. Some writers decided that Isaiah 14:12 was talking about the Devil, and some Jews and early Christians picked up on this idea.
Later, when Jerome translated the Bible into Latin (the Vulgate) around the year 400, he just translated the Greek dawn-bringer
into the Latin lucifer light-bringer
in Isaiah 14:12.
Therefore “Lucifer” became a name of the Devil in the popular Medieval mind. Dante’s Inferno
and Milton’s Paradise Lost
apparently cemented the equivalence of Isaiah 14:12, Satan, and Lucifer in popular culture.
I also talked about the Isaiah passage here
. For a review of the post
-Biblical ideas about Lucifer and Isaiah 14:12, try Wikipedia's article here
From the Bible in Basic English:
Isaiah 14:12 How great is your fall from heaven, O haylale eosphoros shining one, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the earth, low among the dead bodies!
Ezekiel 28:1-19, King of Tyre - not the Devil (6/28/13)
1 Samuel 30:17 And David went on fighting them from nehshef eosphoros evening till the evening of the day after; and not one of them got away but only four hundred young men who went in flight on camels.
Psalm 110:3 Your people give themselves gladly in the day of your power; like the dew of the mishchar eosphoros morning on the holy mountains is the army of your young men.
Job 3:9 Let its morning stars be dark; let it be looking for light, but may it not have any; let it not see the eyes of the shachar eosphoros dawn.
Job 11:17 And thine age shall be clearer than the tsohar noonday; thou shalt shine forth, thou shalt be as the boker morning. (Note: It’s not clear to me which one of these became eosphoros.)
Job 38:12 Have you, from your earliest days, given orders to the morning, or made the shachar eosphoros dawn conscious of its place;
Job 41:18 His sneezings give out flames, and his eyes are like the eyes of the shachar eosphoros dawn.
For reasons that are completely obscure to me, a lot of people think that Ezekiel 28 is about Satan. Apparently this idea originated in intertestamental times among (of all people) rabbis. God says twice, however, that the prophecy he is giving to Ezekiel is about the king of Tyre (a coastal city often at odds with Israel). God says twice that Ezekiel is to say, “you are a man.” The only thing I can figure out is that people who think this is about Satan either (1) haven’t read it, (2) think they know better than God what God is talking about, or (3) think the Bible is some kind of coded message.
First, I encourage you always to read the text for yourself. Read the whole context. If you read something that “tells you what it’s really talking about” – specifically including my comments – check for yourself to see if that distorts what’s actually written in the Bible. Second, never, ever make the mistake that you know better than God about anything.
Finally, God isn’t into coded messages – God has had such a difficult time getting us to understand his message of love and salvation that there’s no way he’s going to put it into code! (Except occasionally in apocalyptic writing, as we have discussed earlier. This portion of Ezekiel is not apocalyptic.) Prophecy is
poetic and full of imagery, though, and that’s why we get all the stuff in Ezekiel 28 about the Garden of Eden. The Hebrew word man
in vss. 2 and 9 is adam
. God is saying to the king of Tyre, “You had everything, and just like Adam and Eve you threw it all away because of your sin.” All too often, God has to say the same thing to us.
From the Bible in Basic English:
1 The word of the Lord came to me again, saying,
More of The Big Lie
2 Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, This is what the Lord has said: Because your heart has been lifted up, and you have said, I am a god, I am seated on the seat of God in the heart of the seas; but you are man and not God, though you have made your heart as the heart of God:
3-5 See, you are wiser than Daniel; there is no secret which is deeper than your knowledge: By your wisdom and deep knowledge you have got power for yourself, and put silver and gold in your store-houses: By your great wisdom and by your trade your power is increased, and your heart is lifted up because of your power:
6-8 For this cause the Lord has said: Because you have made your heart as the heart of God, See, I am sending against you strange men, feared among the nations: they will let loose their swords against your bright wisdom, they will make your glory a common thing. They will send you down to the underworld, and your death will be the death of those who are put to the sword in the heart of the seas.
9-10 Will you say, in the face of those who are taking your life, I am God? but you are man and not God in the hands of those who are wounding you. Your death will be the death of those who are without circumcision, by the hands of men from strange lands: for I have said it, says the Lord.
11 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying,
12 Son of man, make a song of grief for the king of Tyre, and say to him, This is what the Lord has said: You are all-wise and completely beautiful;
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every stone of great price was your clothing, the sardius, the topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the emerald and the carbuncle: your store-houses were full of gold, and things of great price were in you; in the day when you were made they were got ready.
14-16 I gave you your place with the winged one; I put you on the mountain of God; you went up and down among the stones of fire. There has been no evil in your ways from the day when you were made, till sin was seen in you. Through all your trading you have become full of violent ways, and have done evil: so I sent you out shamed from the mountain of God; the winged one put an end to you from among the stones of fire.
17-19 Your heart was lifted up because you were beautiful, you made your wisdom evil through your sin: I have sent you down, even to the earth; I have made you low before kings, so that they may see you. By all your sin, even by your evil trading, you have made your holy places unclean; so I will make a fire come out from you, it will make a meal of you, and I will make you as dust on the earth before the eyes of all who see you. All who have knowledge of you among the peoples will be overcome with wonder at you: you have become a thing of fear, and you will never be seen again.
The Son of God and the Father of Lies
The OT satan is always an adversary, but not always the Devil.
The Hebrew satan is translated various ways.
In the New Testament, both satanas and diabolos normally refer to the Devil.
Sometimes satanas and diabolos are used figuratively to refer to someone acting like the Devil.
Poneros – Evil in the New Testament
Demons cause sickness, not sin.
Sometimes Satan and demons cooperate with each other.
Neither Baalzebub nor Lucifer is a Biblical name for the Devil.
Belial means "worthless," and once it's used as a nickname for the Devil.
Satan's job description: Temptation and Lies
Our job description: Resist him!
Copyright 2013 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.
Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the
author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the
Bible-study participants. Thanks to the
Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers
for their support and enthusiasm. All
errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.
St. John’s United Methodist Church,
2626 Arizona NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87110
Traditional worship services are held Sundays at 8:15 and
11:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. Casual worship services are held Sundays at
9:30 a.m. in the Family Life Center.
are held monthly on the second Saturday at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. St. John’s feels especially called to the worship of God and to the service of our neighbors through our music program
Storm Dragon SoftwareTM
Get a free demo of our computer adventure game, full of hidden-object puzzles, tiling and jigsaw puzzles, cycling puzzles, and more.
Age Games: Animal ReaderTM
Computer games that children can play all by themselves
Ducks in a Row, Inc., developers of
Home Safe SoftwareTM.
Keep It SafeTM - Home inventory software so easy anybody can