THREAD: Who is Beelzebul?

In Matthew 10:25, Jesus hints that he, the master of the house, will be called Beelzebul, even as his disciples will be maligned.

The Greek word Βεελζεβούλ has a variant spelling, namely Βεελζεβούβ (also seen in the Vulgate Beelzebub).
At Matthew 12:24, we are given the identity of this personage by the Pharisees, who state that Beelzebul is the 'prince of demons'.

This view was common in Second Temple Jewish circles, as can be seen by various non-biblical texts.
For example, a certain Aramaic magic incantation formula (4Q560) found among the Dead Sea Scrolls appears to mention בעל] זבב] (see the image below).

Notice that this spelling matches the alternate variant we find in the New Testament.
In fact, בַּעַל זְבוּב is actually attested in the Hebrew Bible, at 2 Kings 1. There, he is identified as the god of Ekron. The word 'Baal' will, of course, be familiar to us, but the second word זְבוּב is less common.
There is a bit of a debate about the actual relationship between the words זְבוּב 'fly' and זְבֻל (which is otherwise only attested as a personal name in Judges 9).
I'm persuaded that זְבוּב is a deliberate deformation by the Israelites of the original זְבֻל, which meant something like 'prince'. The sense is that Baal is Lord of the flies (along with everything that gets associated with flies, such as filth).
This would be parallel to the deformation of Esh-Baal 'man of Baal' (?) / 'fire of Baal' (?) / 'Baal exists' (?) > Ish-bosheth 'man of shame'. This son of Saul famously lost against King David in a power struggle.
In Ugaritic, zbl is attributed to both Baal and Yammu (the god of the sea). It occurs, for example, in the famous Baal myth (pictured below):

line 7: zbl . ym /zabūlu yammu/
line 8: zbl . bʕl /zabūlu baʕlu/
It's fascinating how an ancient pagan Semitic epithet finds its way through the Hebrew Bible via the Dead Sea Scrolls and onto the pages of the Greek New Testament!
'Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried, like so many of the earth's marvels, beneath the dust of habit.'

–– Salman Rushdie


• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Kaspars Ozolins

Kaspars Ozolins Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @lettlander

8 Jan
THREAD: What is Ugaritic?

Many of my threads involve Ugaritic texts, but I thought I might provide a brief introduction to the uninitiated.

If you're at all interested in the Hebrew Bible, I believe you should take some interest in the field of Ugaritic studies.
The WHAT: The terms Ugarit and Ugaritic refer to a Late Bronze Age (LBA) city-state and its people and language. This small kingdom flourished about 13 centuries before Christ, until it was destroyed along with many other cultures in the Late Bronze Age collapse.
The Late Bronze Age collapse was a series of catastophic events around 1200 BC which led to the destruction of many city states and kingdoms in the eastern Mediterranean region. Scholars still debate the exact mix of conditions and peoples which precipitated such upheval.
Read 24 tweets
11 Dec 20
THREAD: Latin vowels are interesting.

One of the first rules students of Latin learn is its simple accentuation system. The default stress is penultimate:

for-tū́-na, Rō-mā́-nī, a-mā́-mus

...unless the syllable is short, in which case stress the antepenult:

As an Indo-European language, Latin inherited a rather different accentual system, which was based on pitch and was mobile, as far as we can tell.

But in between the two systems, Latin went through a different intermediate phase: everything was stressed on the first syllable.
That's right. Archaic Latin had the stress system of the Germanic languages, Finnish, and Latvian (!).

How do we know this?

When we compare the vowel system in other archaic IE languages with that of classical Latin, we notice vowel changes in all but the initial syllable.
Read 11 tweets
10 Dec 20
Now, a session devoted to ongoing work in the critical editions of Samuel-Kings.

Craig Morisson, who is working in place of the late Stephan Pisano on BHQ Samuel presents on the role of the younger versions (Peshitta, Targums, and Vulgate) in the edition.

Next up is Guy Darshan, representing The Hebrew Bible, A Critical Edition (HBCE).

The HBCE is unique in OT textual criticism in its attempt to reconstruct and provide an eclectic text. (I have some concerns about this approach.)
Darshan offers some critique of BHS, whose apparatus is incomplete in many places (for example, several good DSS readings are absent). However, BHS was completed only when data from Qumran was beginning to become available to scholars.
Read 10 tweets
9 Dec 20
Now onto linguistics and biblical interpretation. @michaelgaubrey presents on the divergent senses of a familiar verb.

He provides a very interesting chart here with how various translations deal with λύω.
As a thought experiment, consider a child’s gradual acquisition of a schematic network for ‘tree’ and various other lexemes which are slotted in.
Read 6 tweets
9 Dec 20
@K_L_Phillips now presenting on shorthand Masoretic manuscripts in the Taylor-Schechter collection.

A subset of these provide only the accented syllable (and sometimes only the first consonant of that syllable).
In the 1970s, Revell argued that these were Masoretic tools for the preservation of the accent system.
Read 4 tweets
8 Dec 20
Top scholars of the Homeric, Hebrew Bible, Qur'anic, Vedic textual traditions now inquiring of each other's work over Zoom, including the current state of development of digital tools such as optical character recognition.


#SBLAAR2020 Image
@libbieschrader asks about accessing funding for other traditions (beside the NT), as well as applying the CBGM to different textual corpora.

Although there are many similarities (as I've noted), in other respects the various textual traditions really have unique challenges.
The CBGM, for example, is specifically designed to tackle a highly contaminated manuscript tradition.

• The Hebrew Bible tradition instead needs to adjudicate between the MT and various versions.
• For the Tibetan tradition, contamination is a feature, not a bug!
Read 4 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!