Beelzebub (Baal-zebul, Beelzeboul, Belzebub) is the Prince of Demons. Beelzebub, originally an idol of the Canaanites, means “Lord of the Flies.” The name is a distortion of Baal-zebul, the chief Canaanite or Phoenician god, meaning “Lord of the Divine Abode” or “Lord of the Heavens.” Beelzebub manifests either as a gigantic, ugly fly or as a monstrous being of great height on a giant throne. In his latter guise, he has a swollen face and chest, huge nostrils, horns, bat wings, duck feet, a lion’s tail, and a covering of thick black hair.
Beelzebub has been a feared and formidable Demon from the earliest accounts of him. He was the Prince of Demons in Hebrew belief at the time of Jesus. The Pharisees accused Jesus of exorcizing Demons in Beelzebub’s name, for according to belief, the power to expel unclean spirits was gained through Pacts with Demons. The incident is recounted in Matthew (12:24–29), Mark (3:22–27), and Luke (11:14–22):
And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, he hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. (Mark 3: 22–27)
In the pseudepigraphical text the Testament of Solomon, Beelzebub, or Beelzeboul, is the Prince of Demons and is controlled by King Solomon with the help of his magical ring. Solomon has the Demon Ornias fetch Beelzebub to him; Beelzebub resists but succumbs to the power of the ring.
Beelzebub identifies himself as “the ruler of all Demons.” Solomon orders Beelzebub to explain the manifestation of Demons, and he promises to give to the king all unclean spirits bound. He tells Solomon that he lives in the Evening Star (Venus). He alone is the Prince of Demons because he was the highest-ranking angel in heaven and is the only one left of the heavenly angels who fell. He was accompanied by another Fallen Angel, Abezethibou, who was cast into the Red Sea. Abezethibou will return in triumph when he is ready, Beelzebub says. Solomon orders him to summon Abezethibou, but Beelzebub refuses to present any Demon. However, he says, a Demon named Ephippas will appear and raise Abezethibou out of the sea.
Beelzebub says he destroys tyrants, causes men to worship Demons, and arouses sexual desire in holy men and “select priests.” He also causes wars, instigates murders, and arouses jealousy. He is thwarted by “the Almighty God,” Emmanuel (Jesus), and will disappear if anyone uses the oath Elo-i (my God, which Jesus cried on the cross).
Solomon tells Beelzebub to cut blocks of Theban marble for the building of his temple. The other Demons protest at this unfitting task for so mighty a Demon. Solomon tells Beelzebub that if he wishes his freedom, he will tell the king about other “heavenly things.” Beelzebub says that Solomon can strengthen his house by burning oil of myrrh, frankincense, sea bulbs, spikenard, and saffron and lighting seven lamps during an earthquake. Lighting the seven lamps at dawn will reveal the heavenly dragons pulling the chariot of the Sun. Solomon does not believe him and orders the Demon to continue cutting marble and producing other Demons for interrogation.
The apochryphal text Gospel of Nicodemus describes how Beelzebub came to rule in Hell over Satan. After the crucifixion of Jesus, Satan bragged to Beelzebub that he was going to take Jesus to hell in revenge for all the times he had thwarted Satan. Beelzebub begged him not to do so, for Jesus was too powerful and would upset hell. Jesus arrived, and Beelzebub pushed Satan from the mouth of hell and barricaded the gate, calling upon all the Demons to help him. They could not keep Jesus out. Jesus trampled over Satan and snapped the chains of the imprisoned souls with a single word. He released all the trapped saints, who went immediately to heaven. Beelzebub was powerless against him.
As he left, Satan told Beelzebub, “Satan the Prince shall be subject to thy dominion forever, in the place of Adam and his righteous sons, who are Mine.” In medieval times Beelzebub was regarded as a Demon of great power. He was said to reign over witches’ Sabbats. Witches denied Christ in his name and chanted it as they danced: “Beelzebub goity, Beelzebub beyty [Beelzebub above, Beelzebub below].” Their Eucharist was bread with Beelzebub imprinted on it instead of Jesus. There are many stories of his copulating with witches in wild orgies. The witches were said to gather around the altar in a semicircle and then lie flat on the ground. They swallowed a foul medicine that made them sweat and then froze them in place. While they were unable to move, Beelzebub copulated with them. A frenzied orgy then began.
When Black Masses were fashionable in high society in the 17th century, Beelzebub’s name was chanted during the rites.
According to magical grimoires, a sorcerer conjures Beelzebub at his own risk of death by epilepsy, apoplexy, or strangulation. Once conjured, the Demon is difficult to banish. A conjuring spell for him is:
Beelzebub Lucifer MADILON
SOLYMO SAROY THEU
AMECLO SAGRAEL PRAREDUN
VENITE BEELZEBUTH AMEN.
Beelzebub also was among the Demons blamed for Demonic Possession cases, among them NICOLE OBRY in Laon, France, in 1566, and the bewitchment of nuns in the Loudun Possessions and AIX-EN-PROVENCE Possession in France in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, leading to the executions of his accused lieutenants, Fathers Louis Gaufridi and Urbain Grandier.
One of the Demon’s most notorious acts was the EARLING Possession, in the early 20th century in Earling, Iowa. Beelzebub entered young Anna Ecklund at the behest of her father, Jacob, in retaliation for not engaging in incestuous sex with him. The Demon left on December 23, 1928, in a terrible roar of “Beelzebub, Judas, Jacob, Mina [Anna’s aunt and Jacob’s mistress]” followed by “Hell, hell, hell” and a terrible stench. Beelzebub rules gluttony, the fifth of the Seven Deadly Sins.
- Hyatt, Victoria, and Joseph W. Charles. The Book of Demons. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1974.
- Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons: Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Owl Books/Henry Holt, 1998.
- Charlesworth, James H. ed. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Vols. 1 & 2. New York: Doubleday, 1983; 1985.
The Philistines were traditional enemies of the Israelites. They do not appear in flattering terms in the Old Testament. The word philistine remains a synonym for uncouth barbarian. So perhaps it is no surprise that their primary male deity, Ba’al Zebub, appears in even less flattering light in the New Testament.
In the context of Philistine Ba’al Zebub, flies are emblematic of the eternal human soul. In the context of Demon Beelzebub, flies are emblematic of putrefaction, death, and decay.
The original Ba’al Zebub was a spirit of fertility and rebirth. In the Gospels, Beelzebub, as his name evolved, is chief of Demons and prince of devils. In Christ’s time, Beelzebub seems to have been incorporated into controversial shamanic techniques, disapproved of by the general Jewish public. According to the Gospel of Luke, when people witnessed Jesus successfully expel Demons from the bodies of the ailing, they accused him of doing so with assistance from Beelzebub. Luke records that Jesus was insulted by the suggestion.
Beelzebub and Satan were once considered to be distinct beings. According to the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus, Jesus gave Beelzebub dominion over Hell in gratitude for helping remove Adam and other pre-Christian, unbaptized “saints in prison” and bringing them to Heaven, over Satan’s objections. In those early days, Satan outranked Beelzebub. By the sixteenth century, however, Demonologist Johann Wierus was listing Beelzebub as supreme chieftain of Hell, with Satan below him.
The distinction between the two was eventually erased. Dante equated them in his Divine Comedy. Beelzebub appears in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress and John Milton’s Paradise Lost. His name was frequently evoked during witch trials and Demon-possession hysteria, including at Salem Village. Many now believe that Beelzebub is the devil’s name.
Medieval Demonologists perceived Beelzebub as a powerful Demon to conjure, command, and control. They classified him as a fallen angel (order: Cherubim) and Founder of Hell’s Order of the Fly.
Beelzebub’s Tales to his Grandson is the first volume of All and Everything, the trilogy of influential allegorical novels written by mystic G. I. Gurdjieff (circa 1866–29 October 1949).
Beelzebub allegedly manifests in the form of a giant fly.
Beelzebub tends to be conjured by those more inclined to command than cajole. If one wished to offer a bribe, however, bottles of Belzebuth French Ale or other items evoking his royal malevolence might do the trick.
Ba’al (1): Ba’al Zebub; Ba’al (2)
Beelzebub – Lord of the Flies; Lord of Chaos –
Also known as:
Belzebuth; Beelzebul –
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses– Written by Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
Making an offering to Beelzebub :