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—Biblical Data:

Name of a god of the Philistine city of Ekron, mentioned only in connection with the illness of Ahaziah, king of Israel, in 842 B.C. (II Kings i. 2, 3, 6, 16), when the sick monarch sent messengers to Ekron to consult him on the prospects of his recovery. There has been much speculation as to the character of the god. As the word stands, it means "Baal of flies." This is usually explained as the god who expels or destroys flies; though it may also mean the patron or controller of flies. The two explanations may be combined in one, or rather the second may include the first; for the god who has power to drive away any plague has also power to send it. A Zεῦς Απόμνως was worshiped at Elis in Greece as a disperser of flies, and further analogies drawn from the occurrence of "fly gods" among other nations (see Frazer's note to his ed. of Pausanias, v. 14) warrant us in retaining the common explanation until decisive proof to the contrary is forthcoming. It has been suggested that the second element of the name has been modified from an original "Zebul," or rather "beth Zebul," so that the name would mean "lord of the high-house" (compare I Kings viii. 13). The dropping of "Beth" is not without example (see Baalpeor); but the warrant for assuming textual corruption is not sufficient. It was not unusual to call a god by the name of things that were particularly troublesome, and which he was asked to destroy (Nowack, "Hebr. Arch." p. 304; compare Apollo Smintheus as the destroyer of mice among the Greeks). The New Testament form "Beelzebub" (Matt. x. 25, etc.) is probably not based upon any Old Testament reading, but is due to phonetic dissimilation. See Beelzebub.

J. Jr. J. F. McC.
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