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Beelzebub


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#31 Jesse2W

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 07:53 AM

The first book sounds just like what I was looking for - amazing! I'm going to order it tomorrow. I may get the second one. Thanks for the resources Paul!
Mark, that is a very interesting thing you point out about Jesus alluding to the Biblical reference when the Pharisees may have meant the pagan reference.

#32 Mark Taunton

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Posted 08 August 2011 - 09:12 AM

Looking back now, I can see that I did not present the conclusion of my study of Beelzebul in the most helpful way. I should have been much more direct and clear. So let me rectify that now as best I can, by expanding my summary with specific detail.

  • There is in the Old Testament someone who accurately matches the description "baal-zebul".
    • This is a man called Zebul, who was one of the "men" (KJV: other versions have "leading citizens" or "leaders" or similar) of the city of Shechem. The Hebrew word for "men"/"leaders" here is 'baalim', the plural of 'baal'. As I mentioned previously, the word 'baal' comes quite often translated as "man" / "men", commonly in relation to particular cities. The one passage in which this happens by far the most frequently is Judges 9, where the phrase "men (baals) of Shechem" occurs no less than 13 times (and we also find two instances of "the men (baals) of the tower of Shechem"). Zebul was clearly one of these baals of Shechem, so the description of him as "baal Zebul" fits accurately.
  • He is identified as a "prince" (the Hebrew word used matches the Greek word for "prince" of the demons).
    • Zebul is called the "ruler" or "governor" of the city, in Judges 9:30. The Hebrew word for "ruler" here, 'sar', is the same one used in relation to Moses in Exodus 2:14, where Moses is asked "who made you a ruler or judge over us?". When this question is quoted by Stephen in his speech, in Acts 7:27, the Greek word used to translate the word 'sar' is 'archon'. And in all instances in the gospel accounts of the phrase "prince of the demons", referring to Beelzebul, the word for "prince" is also 'archon'.
  • He is not a king, but serves a king. He is the prince over a city, as the king is prince over a nation.
    • Zebul is called the "officer" of Abimelech (Judges 9:28). Abimelech was made king of Shechem (Judges 9:6), and came also to rule ('sur', to be a prince) over Israel (Judges 9:22).
  • He is mentioned in the same context as an "evil spirit".
    • Judges 9:23 - God sent an "evil spirit" between Abimelech and the baals of Shechem - the baals of Shechem behaved treacherously with Abimelech. This was primarily effected by the arrival of a man called Gaal (Judges 9:26), whom the baals of Shechem came to trust in, and who spoke against Abimelech (Judges 9:28).
    • So Gaal himself is (the source of) the "evil spirit". As I mentioned earlier, the term "evil spirit" occurs in the NT; it is a parallel description with "demon" and "unclean spirit" (e.g. Luke 8:2).
  • By contrast, the spirit of God is said to be active before and after the events in which Baal-zebul and others like him are involved.
    • Judges 6:34 "the spirit of Yahweh came upon Gideon"
    • Judges 11:29 "the spirit of Yahweh came upon Jephthah".
  • Baal-zebul is part of a plot in which a brother delivers up many brothers to death.
    • Judges 9:1-5 The murder by Abimelech of his 70 brothers, paid for by the baals of Shechem using money from the house of their god Baal-berith.
    • Matt 10:21-22 "And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
    • Matt 10:25 "It is enough for the disciple that he 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?"
    • Here is deep irony: the leaders of the Jews are calling Jesus Beelzebul, but actually it is they who accurately fit the description!
  • However, one of the apparently murdered brothers in fact escapes.
    • Judges 9:5 Jotham, Gideon's youngest son, who escapes by hiding himself
    • Judges 9:21 "And Jotham ran away, and fled, and went to Beer, and dwelt there, for fear of Abimelech his brother."
    • Matt 10:23 "But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another:"
  • A man is established as king through this terrible slaughter.
    • Judges 9:1-6 Abimelech is made king over Shechem.
  • The escaped brother prophesies against the king, and the city and the house that were together responsible for the slaughter.
    • Judges 9:7-20 gives Jotham's parable and his curse.
  • The prophecy is that there will be mutual destruction; the king, and the city and house will consume each other.
    • Judges 9:20 "let fire come out from Abimelech, and devour the men of Shechem, and the house of Millo; and let fire come out from the men of Shechem, and from the house of Millo, and devour Abimelech."
    • Matt 12:25 "Every kingdom divided against itself shall not stand".
  • Baal-zebul is not the king, but is a loyal officer to him, and is prince over the king's own city.
    • Judges 9:28 "Zebul is [Abimelech's] officer".
    • Judges 9:30 "Zebul the ruler of the city"
  • The city becomes divided against itself, through events in a particular house, in which some of the masters of the city turn against the king.
    • Judges 9:26-27 : the house is the house of the god Baalberith, where the baals of Shechem curse Abimelech and Gaal speaks against him
    • Judges 9:30-31 Zebul hears these words of Gaal, is angered by them, and sends word to Abimelech.
    • Matt 12:25: "every city or house divided against itself shall not stand".
  • Baal-zebul the prince advises his own king to "rise up … against" his own city.
    • Judges 9:32 "get up by night"
    • Judges 9:33 "rise early, and set upon the city"
    • Mark 3:26 "If Satan rise up against himself, and is divided, his kingdom cannot stand"
  • The king rises up against the city, and attacks the people, who fight against him.
    • Judges 9:34,39,40 "Abimelech rose up ... and laid wait against Shechem".
    • Abimelech was made king in Shechem, but now he is attacking his own power-base and capital city!
    • Mark 3:26 "If Satan rise up against himself, and is divided, his kingdom cannot stand"
  • Baal-zebul himself does a "casting out" of an opponent of the king; this is described in terms matching Jesus' "casting out" of demons.
    • Judges 9:41 "Zebul thrust out Gaal and his brothers, that they should not dwell in Shechem".
    • The Hebrew word for "thrust out" is 'garash'. This is used by Sarah in Genesis 21:10 "cast out this bondwoman and her son". When this is quoted in Galatians 4:30, the Greek word used to match that is 'ekballo'. This is the word used generally of "casting out" demons, and specifically in "he casts out demons by Beelzebul the prince of the demons".
    • Gaal, the source / personification of the "evil spirit" is himself "cast out" by baal Zebul!
    • Matt 12:26 "if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself".
  • Despite this casting out, the city is again attacked by the king, and this time all its people die.
    • Judges 9:43-45 "they slew them"; "he slew the people in [Shechem]".
  • The city itself is broken down and made desolate.
    • Judges 9:44 Abimelech "beat down the city, and sowed it with salt".
    • Matt 12:25 "Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation".
  • A second related city in the kingdom is also attacked by the king, and all its people die too.
    • Judges 9:46-49 - the "tower of Shechem", an outpost of Shechem where about 1000 people lived, and where they had a house or temple of the god Berith.
  • A third city is attacked, but this time the king himself is killed.
    • Judges 9:50-54 Thebez is attacked and almost destroyed, but Abimelech's death brings the attack to an end.
  • As a result of this internal strife between the king and his own people, the kingdom comes to an end after only a few years.
    • Abimlech had ruled over Israel for just 3 years (Judges 9:22).
    • Mark 3:22-24 "And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house 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".
All this was founded upon the worship of false gods - notice the repeated mention of the house of the god Baalberith (Judges 9:4,27,46). The origins of this false worship are given in Judges 8:33:

And it came to pass, as soon as Gideon was dead, that the children of Israel turned again, and went a whoring after Baalim, and made Baalberith their god

So when in chapter 9, there is such frequent mention of the "baals" or leaders of Shechem, and also of the place called the tower of Shechem, this is no accident. These leading men in those places are clearly described in this way to connect them directly with the Baals - the false gods - and in particular to Baalberith ("master of the covenant"), which Israel had turned to when Gideon their divinely-appointed and faithful judge died. This led to the great evils that we read of:

  • It was worship of the Baals (false gods) that led these baals (men) to do the terrible thing they did to Gideon's sons. The money that paid for the massacre came from Baal-Berith's house: 70 pieces of silver, to kill 70 sons of Gideon (Judges 9:4-5).
  • It was also false worship which led to the division that developed among them. It was in the house of their god that the first explicit dissent against Abimelech was heard, when the baals cursed him (Judges 9:27).
  • People who had taken shelter in the secure part of Berith's house, foolishly thinking it was a place of safety, were instead burned to death there (Judges 9:46-49).
The result of this was, exactly as Jotham prophesied (Judges 9:20) and as Yahweh himself determined (Judges 9:22-24), the mutual destruction of both Abimelech and the wicked people over whom he ruled. It was the baal Zebul who played a key role in this process: Satan's kingdom was divided, and came to its inevitable end.

I hope that's clearer now!

Edited by Mark Taunton, 09 August 2011 - 07:41 AM.


#33 Mark Taunton

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Posted 10 August 2011 - 09:02 AM

Mark, that is a very interesting thing you point out about Jesus alluding to the Biblical reference when the Pharisees may have meant the pagan reference.

This is actually a somewhat difficult point. It seems clear from the way Jesus uses the name Beelzebul, in conjunction with all the quotations and allusions around it to Judges 8-9, that this is entirely deliberate. Yet how can it be that this name Beelzebul, with its specific biblical reference that Jesus is working with, was already in use in the world for a pagan invention called the "prince of the demons"? It is quite puzzling.

It's of course perfectly possible to conceive that God, working unseen in the affairs of men, brought about this state of affairs deliberately, so that Jesus could re-apply the name in its intended Biblical manner, exposing the contrast. But I find that hard to accept, as it seems rather contrived. Having studied the question a little more, I now think there is a better explanation.

My suggestion, surprising as it may appear, is that the name Beelzebul wasn't already in use. All the scholarly studies I have been able to find say that the name Beelzebul is unknown before it appears in the NT record. The Jewish encyclopedia suggests that it was simply a corruption of "Baalzebub". Yet clearly both the leaders of the Jews, and Jesus, use it. What's going on?

The key I believe comes by looking at the gospel record carefully. The very first time Jesus is slandered in relation to casting out a demon comes in Matthew:

As they went out, behold, they brought to him a dumb man, a demoniac.
And when the demon was cast out, the dumb spoke: and the multitudes marvelled, saying, It was never so seen in Israel.
But the Pharisees said, He casts out demons through the prince of the demons.
(Matt 9:32-34)

Notice that at this point the Pharisees don't use any name when they slander Jesus; they speak only of "the prince of the demons".

Then, shortly after this, Jesus gives his disciples power to cast out demons, too:

And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease.
Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus;
Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter not:
But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons: freely you have received, freely give.
(Matt 10:1-8)

But he warns them that they will face fierce opposition (which indeed they did, particularly as recorded in the book of Acts, when they continued the work Jesus gave them):

But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
And you shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what you shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what you shall speak.
For it is not you that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaks in you.
And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
And you shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he who endures to the end shall be saved.
But when they persecute you in this city, flee into another: for truly I say unto you, You shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
(Matt 10:17-23)

And it is that context that he goes on to say:

The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord.
It is enough for the disciple that he 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?
(Matt 10:24-25)

Here we have the first scriptural occurrence of "Beelzebul". But it isn't the Pharisees and scribes who say it: it is Jesus himself!

Now clearly, he is using it in relation to how he and his own disciples were being and would be treated, as they went about to preach the word of God. As part of that work, they proved their god-given authority by the miraculous powers they were granted, and particularly by the power to cast out demons.

But although it might sound as if his enemies had already used the name "Beelzebul", Jesus' words here don't require that to be the case.

Rather, I believe he is alluding back firstly to the original baal Zebul in Shechem, and the evil spirit in that city, particularly associated with the man Gaal, and focused in the house of the god Baal-berith where opposition to Abimelech arose. It was Baal-zebul who cast out Gaal from Shechem, but failed to remove the evil spirit from the house of their god and from the city.

By comparison, Jesus himself had earlier in his ministry cast out the corruption he found in the temple, the house of God (see John 2:13-17); the word for "cast out" or "drove out" used in John 2:15 is the same word for "casting out" demons. Jesus was concerned for the temple, God's house, the place of his dwelling. As God's son, filled with not an evil spirit but God's holy spirit, he had cast out the merchandisers who were defiling it.

But his enemies were speaking of him in terms that effectively treated him more like Baal-zebul in his casting out of Gaal. Jesus was truly the ruler over God's own house, in a way that parallels but is spiritually very distant from Zebul's rulership in Shechem and the house of Baal-berith. Jesus, in saying they have effectively called him "baal Zebul", is saying that they are rejecting his authority; they are treating him as if he himself were a baal-worshipper, but one seeking to exercise rule over others and cast them out from God's house.

It is only after this that we find the name Beelzebul in the mouths of the Pharisees and scribes, as recorded later in Matthew, and also in Mark 3 and Luke 11.

Then was brought unto him a demoniac, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, so that the blind and dumb both spoke and saw.
And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David?
But when the Pharisees heard, they said, This one does not cast out demons, but by Beelzebul the prince of the demons.
And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand:
And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?
And if I by Beelzebul cast out demons, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.
(Matt 12:22-28)

I suggest that the Pharisees have actually taken the name Beelzebul from Jesus' own mouth. Possibly Jesus' use of this name was reported back to them via Judas - notice how Matt 10:4 mentions Judas, one of the twelve given power over demons, as the betrayer.

So, when Jesus does another miracle of casting out a demon, his enemies now have a name (even if they don't know what the name really means) which they can and do give to the "prince of the demons". After all, Jesus spoke of them calling him Beelzebul, so that's what they'll do! Thus, I propose that it was Jesus himself, by using it as he did, who actually supplied them with this name, and not by accident. By God's spirit that filled him, he knew their thoughts (Matt 12:25), and knew the spiritual corruption that was in them. When they used this name Beelzebul, in all likelihood having no idea of its real reference, they did so to continue their attack on Jesus, expanding on their earlier attack in Matt 9:34.

In response to their wicked slander, Jesius now uses their own scriptures to show them their error, and prophesy of the destruction that would ultimately come, not upon him and his household, but upon his enemies themselves. They were truly the Satan, the unclean spirit within Israel, manifesting in themselves that evil spirit of resistance to, and rejection of, the word of God, made manifest in the son of God, the one he has appointed to rule over his household in wisdom and honour.

#34 Jesse2W

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 02:38 AM

This is very intense. I suppose it's possible that Judas gave the name to them, or that they somehow picked up on it. History is a tricky puzzle. Up until this thread and some other things I've read on this forum site I just thought the four gospels were a reliable 100% true historical documents. It hadn't occurred to me that not only was it reliable, but the main goal of each gospel was to teach the readers and portray Jesus in a certain way the disciples wanted to portray him.

#35 Mark Taunton

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Posted 11 August 2011 - 06:09 AM

Jesse, you raise an important point. What I say below is perhaps going a little off-topic, but I thought it worth saying.

This is very intense. I suppose it's possible that Judas gave the name to them, or that they somehow picked up on it. History is a tricky puzzle. Up until this thread and some other things I've read on this forum site I just thought the four gospels were a reliable 100% true historical documents. It hadn't occurred to me that not only was it reliable, but the main goal of each gospel was to teach the readers and portray Jesus in a certain way the disciples wanted to portray him.

Indeed there is very definitely a point to there being four gospel accounts. But I would put the reason in a slightly different way. As I see it, the four gospel accounts show us not so much how the disciples wanted to portray Jesus, as how God, acting by his holy spirit upon those four writers, chose to portray both his beloved son and the events and people around him. He did so using those four different men, inspiring each of them individually to produce a separate account, in order to give us four distinct angles on these things. But their records are not in competition: God was working with all four, to accomplish a greater purpose than would come through any one alone. At the mouth of two or three witnesses, every word shall be established.

As an example, think of Pilate's sign fastened over the head of the crucified Jesus. All four writers report it, but each account is different. Do they disagree? Some might suppose so, assuming that they should all say the identical thing; but that's not necessary. Rather, they are giving us overlapping and interlocking parts of a whole. The four records both overlap, to show they have a common core, and differ from each other, to fill in separate elements in a complementary way. And it's when you put them all together that you find the complete wording. It was God who chose to give us those four distinct but interweaving accounts; none is wrong in any way - 100% true as you say - but none is complete on its own, either. We need them all, to see the full picture.

Another example is related somewhat to the issue I raised about Judas. Consider when Jesus was eating in the house in Bethany, and a woman anointed him with expensive spikenard, as recorded by Mark and John. (Matthew and Luke also give accounts of it, but let's look at just these two for the moment.)

Mark tells us that there were some there who were indignant at her, saying the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor. He also reports Jesus' response to this. Mark does not name either the woman or those who were angry at her.

John on the other hand both names the woman (Mary) and says also that Judas was angry about what he saw as a waste of valuable material. John explains that his real reason was not concern for the poor but because he was a thief, and, describes how he stole from the bag he was in charge of. So John both gives more background information, and focuses in on the individual, especially here on Judas - he doesn't mention anyone else being angry. Additionally, the real facts of Judas' motivation, which no-one else was aware of (apart from Jesus of course, who called him a devil - John 6:70), are reported to us in detail. This demonstrates that John was not writing merely as a human witness (though of course he was one), merely from his own knowledge, but by inspiration, the holy spirit speaking in him in order to give true insight into matters that would not otherwise have been known to the disciples. God searches men's hearts and minds, whereas other men cannot.

Although Mark's account is briefer, the holy spirit speaking in him shows something that we don't find in John. Despite Mark not naming individuals, we learn that Judas was the source of the evil-speaking that occurred more widely among those around Jesus. Mark doesn't say Judas uttered the complaint, but that "some" were indignant and said those things. It is only by putting Mark and John together that we can work out what happened: Judas expressed the complaint first (for his own evil reasons), then others took it up and spread it around. In this, his bad influence upon others is shown, even though if we read Mark's gospel alone, we wouldn't know that there was any particular source for the discontent, nor that that was Judas.

These are only a couple of examples, but typical. It is the character of scripture: despite the apparent duplication, in fact we need to read it all, if we are to fully understand. There are more examples of multiple recording of the same subject matter, not just in the obvious case of the four gospel accounts, but in other parts of both the Greek scriptures and Hebrew scriptures also. To name a few:

  • Paul's letters to different recipients sometimes overlap in themes and mode of argument.
  • The book of Chronicles begins by replicating various genealogies in Genesis.
  • The Chronicles account overlaps substantially with the historical records in Samuel and Kings, yet differs by focussing in on the kingdom of Judah, saying little about the northern kingdom of Israel.
  • Isaiah and Jeremiah contain parts that overlap with the historical books.
  • Ezra begins by apparently repeating the last few words of 2 Chronicles; but even in this short overlap there are some (small) differences.
In all labour there is profit, and no comparison of God's words in one place with his words in another is wasted, if it is undertaken with a desire to learn and understand what God wants us to know. Indeed, comparing spiritual things with other spiritual things is the way he works by his spirit in his holy apostles and prophets, as Paul tells us (see 1 Cor 2:12-13, and context).

Edited by Mark Taunton, 11 August 2011 - 06:43 AM.


#36 BrotherDavid

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Posted 12 August 2011 - 11:16 PM

Casting out demons (devils) were common place in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Also many sicknesses and diseases were healed after the demons were expelled.

#37 nsr

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Posted 14 August 2011 - 05:53 PM

BrotherDavid, your homework for this thread is as follows:

1. Make a list of the locations where Jesus cast out "demons"/"devils".

We can proceed from there.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#38 BrotherDavid

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 10:09 PM

Your arrogance is really a laugh !! why do I need to do MY home work about Jesus casting out devils/demons ??

#39 nsr

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 10:52 PM

Because it will help you understand what is actually meant by Jesus casting out "devils"/"demons", and asking you to look into this for yourself is better than standing here and telling you that you're wrong.

I'm only asking you to do a bit of Bible study. You should have nothing to fear.
"But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect..." (Heb 12:22-23)

#40 Biblaridion

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Posted 16 August 2011 - 01:01 AM

Hello everyone,

If we are setting homework about demons/devils/unclean spirits can I suggest looking at the Legion incident .....................compare the parallel accounts in the gospels (they differ slightly) then take what you have learned from all three accounts and intertextual references with the OT and compare it with Revelation 11. You will find that Matthew 8 and the start of Matthew 9 (ignoring the chapter division) has many parallels with Revelation 11.
What do we conclude from this investigation? Who or what does legion represent? What does the link with Revelation 11 tell us?

Paul




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