The name "Beelzebub" (a corruption of "Baalzebub") is actually a pun on the name of the Canaanite god Baalzebul (Often shortened to just Baal). Baalzebul means "lord of lords." "Baalzebub" means "lord of the flies." Not very respectful, and taken in context it hardly summons the terror that eventually grew up around that name. It was intended to trivialize his power, but instead I think the imagery of "Lord of the Flies" (which is pretty scary and gross if you think about it) was responsible for the name's longevity. (I mean, jeesh, everyone calls their god "lord of lords.")

Beelzebub (1) The fly-god, a god worshipped in the Philistine town of Ekron (II Kings 1:3) (2) An evil spirit. (3) Any person of fiendish cruelty, who is nicknamed by his adversaries, or, in contempt of moral sentiment, appropriates the appellation to himself and cherishes it as if it were an honorable title.


Entry from Everybody's Cyclopedia, 1912.

Be*el"ze*bub (?), n.

The title of a heathen deity to whom the Jews ascribed the sovereignty of the evil spirits; hence, the Devil or a devil. See Baal.

 

© Webster 1913.

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