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A woodcarving of Belial and some of his followers from Jacobus de Teramo's book Buche Belial (1473).

Belial (also Belhor, Baalial, Beliar, Belias , Beliall, Beliel, Bilael, Belu; from Hebrew בְּלִיַּ֫עַל Bəliyyáʻal; also named Matanbuchus, Mechembuchus, Meterbuchus in older scripts) is a demon in the Bible, Christian apocrypha and Jewish apocrypha, and also a term used to characterize the wicked or worthless.

The etymology of the word is uncertain, but is most commonly translated as "without worth".[1] Some scholars translate it from Hebrew as "worthless" (Beli yo'il), while others translate it as "yokeless" (Beli ol), "may have no rising" (Belial) or "never to rise" (Beli ya'al). Only a few etymologists have assumed it to be a proper name from the start.[2] In the Book of Jubilees, uncircumcised heathens are called "sons of Belial". Also appearing in some Muslim scripture, the demon is said to have feasted on the poor and feed the rich with the regurgitated remains. When the rich denied his service, he was sent back into the underworld to serve Satan himself.

In the Goetia, Belial is said to be a mighty and a powerful king over 50 legions, created after Lucifer. He appears as two beautiful angels sitting in a chariot of fire. His purpose in the Goetia is to make the magician popular, possibly getting them titles. It is also written that sacrifices have to be given or he will lie to the magician.

In the Torah the term appears in several places to indicate the wicked or worthless, such as :

Contents

The Dead Sea Scrolls

In The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness,[8] one of the Dead Sea scrolls, Belial is the leader of the Sons of Darkness:

'But for corruption thou hast made Belial, an angel of hostility. All his dominions are in darkness, and his purpose is to bring about wickedness and guilt. All the spirits that are associated with him are but angels of destruction.'

In Christianity

In the New Testament the word is used to refer to Satan or Lucifer when asked by St. Paul as to how Christ and Belial can agree. The passage in the Bible NIV states: "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?".[9]

Since the Middle Ages he has been considered to be a powerful king of Hell that gives excellent familiars to his followers. As a demon he was said to have an agreeable aspect, and to induce to any type of sins, especially those related to sex, lust and gluttony. Sebastien Michaelis states that Belial seduces by means of arrogance and his adversary is St. Francis of Paola; in this sense his name is translated as "Lord of Arrogance" or "Lord of Pride" (Baal ial).

In the Biblia Vulgata fewer allusions to this demon are made, referring to Belial as torrents of death, and to impious men as sons of Belial and men of Belial.

Belial is listed as the sixty-eighth spirit of the The Lesser Key of Solomon.

(Be′li·al) [from Heb., meaning “Good for Nothing”; a compound of beli′, “not, without,” and ya·‛al′, “be of benefit; be beneficial”].

The quality or state of being useless, base, good for nothing. The Hebrew term beli·ya′‛al is applied to ideas, words, and counsel,[10] to calamitous circumstances,[11] and most frequently, to good-for-nothing men of the lowest sort—for example, men who would induce worship of other gods;[12] those of Benjamin who committed the sex crime at Gibeah;[13] the wicked sons of Eli;[14] insolent Nabal;[15] opposers of God’s anointed, David;[16] Rehoboam’s unsteady associates;[17] Jezebel’s conspirators against Naboth;[18] and men in general who stir up contention.[19] Indicating that the enemy power would no longer interfere with the carrying out of true worship by his people in their land, Jehovah declared through his prophet: “No more will any good-for-nothing person pass again through you. In his entirety he will certainly be cut off.”[20]

By the time Bible writing resumed in the first century, “Belial” was used as a name for Satan. So when Paul wrote[21] in his series of parallel contrasts, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” the conclusion usually drawn is that “Belial” is Satan. The Syriac Peshitta here reads “Satan.”

Apocrypha

The word "belial" appears frequently in Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.[1] In addition to his appearance in the Book of Jubilees, Belial appears in other texts as well.

Belial is also mentioned in the Fragments of a Zadokite Work (which is also known as The Damascus Document (CD)), which states that during the eschatological age, "Belial shall be let loose against Israel, as God spoke through Isaiah the prophet."[22] The Fragments also speak of "three nets of Belial" which are said to be fornication, wealth, and pollution of the sanctuary.[23] In this work, Belial is sometimes presented as an agent of divine punishment and sometimes as a rebel, as Mastema is. It was Belial who inspired the Egyptian sorcerers, Jochaneh and his brother, to oppose Moses and Aaron. The Fragments also say that anyone who is ruled by the spirits of Belial and speaks of rebellion should be condemned as a necromancer and wizard.

Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs

Belial is also mentioned in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. The author of the work seems to be a dualist because he presents Belial as God's opponent, not as a servant, but does not mention how or why this came to be. Simeon 5:3 says that fornication separates man from God and brings him near to Belial. Levi tells his children to choose between the Law of God and the works of Belial[24] It also states that when the soul is constantly disturbed, the Lord departs from it and Belial rules over it. Naphtali[25] contrasts the Law and will of God with the purposes of Belial. Also, in 20:2, Joseph prophesies that when Israel leaves Egypt, they will be with God in light while Belial will remain in darkness with the Egyptians. Finally, the Testament describes that when the Messiah comes, the angels will punish the spirits of deceit and Belial[26] and that the Messiah will bind Belial and give to his children the power to trample the evil spirits.[27]

The Ascension of Isaiah

In The Ascension of Isaiah, Belial is the angel of lawlessness and "the ruler of this world."

"And Manasseh turned aside his heart to serve Beliar; for the angel of lawlessness, who is the ruler of this world, is Beliar, whose name is Matanbuchus."[28]

In the Rules of the Community God is found making a very prolific statement, "I shall not comfort the oppressed until their path is perfect. I shall not retain Belial within my heart."

The War Scroll and the Thanksgiving hymns both delve into the idea that Belial is accursed by God and his people, and shows how the existence of Belial in this world can be attributed to the mysteries of God since we can not know why he permits the dealings of Belial to persist.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls Belial is further contrasted with God. These are the Angel of Light and the Angel of Darkness. The Manual of Discipline identifies the Angel of Light as God himself. The Angel of Darkness is identified in the same scroll as Belial.

Also in The Dead Sea Scrolls is a recounting of a dream of Amram, the father of Moses, who finds two 'watchers' contesting over him. One is Belial who is described as the King of Evil and Prince of Darkness.

Atlantis legends

Edgar Cayce spoke of the existence of Atlantis, a legendary continent with an advanced technology whose refugees peopled ancient Egypt as well as pre-Columbian America. Cayce's description of Atlantis has much in common with that of Ignatius L. Donnelly. According to Cayce, Atlantean society was divided into two long-lived political factions—a "good" faction called the "Sons of the Law of One," and an "evil" faction called the "Sons of Belial." Many people alive today are the reincarnations of Atlantean souls, he believed, who must now face similar temptations as before. It is said Atlantis suffered three major destructions, one of which was the deluge. According to the readings, a major source of turmoil was the Sons of Belial's desire to exploit the Things, sub-humans with animal appendages and low intelligence, and the movements to protect and evolve them by the Sons of the Law of One. The final destruction was the overcharging of the crystal which caused a massive explosion.

In Satanism

The Satanic Bible names Belial as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell (specifically, the North Crown), and states that his name means "'without a master'" and symbolizes true independence, self-sufficiency, and personal accomplishment."[29] Belial represents the earth element, is the Master of Mankind and the Champion of Humanity, and represents the carnal and base urges of humans.

Literary references

BELIAL came last, then whom a Spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for it self: To him no Temple stood
Or Altar smoak'd; yet who more oft then hee
In Temples and at Altars, when the Priest
Turns Atheist, as did ELY'S Sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God.
In Courts and Palaces he also Reigns
And in luxurious Cities, where the noyse
Of riot ascends above thir loftiest Towrs,
And injury and outrage: And when Night
Darkens the Streets, then wander forth the Sons
Of BELIAL, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the Streets of SODOM, and that night
In GIBEAH, when hospitable Dores
Yielded thir Matrons to prevent worse rape.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Metzger & Coogan (1993) Oxford Companion to the Bible, p77.
  2. ^ JewishEncyclopedia.com: Belial
  3. ^ Deut. 13:13
  4. ^ Judg. 19:22, 20:13
  5. ^ 1 Sam. 2:12
  6. ^ 1 Sam. 25:17
  7. ^ 2 Sam. 20:1
  8. ^ 1QM
  9. ^ 2 Cor 6:15
  10. ^ De 15:9; Ps 101:3; Na 1:11
  11. ^ Ps 41:8
  12. ^ De 13:13
  13. ^ Jg 19:22-27; 20:13
  14. ^ 1Sa 2:12
  15. ^ 1Sa 25:17, 25
  16. ^ 2Sa 20:1; 22:5; 23:6; Ps 18:4
  17. ^ 2Ch 13:7
  18. ^ 1Ki 21:10, 13
  19. ^ Pr 6:12-14; 16:27; 19:28
  20. ^ Na 1:15; see also 1Sa 1:16; 10:27; 30:22; Job 34:18
  21. ^ 2 Corinthians 6:15
  22. ^ 6:9
  23. ^ 6:10-11
  24. ^ Levi 19:1
  25. ^ 2:6, 3:1
  26. ^ 3:3
  27. ^ 18:12
  28. ^ Ascension of Isaiah 2:4
  29. ^ Crabtree, Vexen. The Aspect of Belial

Sources

External links


[[File:|thumb|300px|A woodcarving of Belial and some of his followers from Jacobus de Teramo's book Buche Belial (1473).]] Belial (also Belhor, Baalial, Beliar, Belias , Beliall, Beliel, Bilael, Belu; from Hebrew בְּלִיַּ֫עַל Bəliyyáʻal; also named Matanbuchus, Mechembuchus, Meterbuchus in older scripts) is one of the four crown princes of Hell[citation needed] and a demon in the Bible, Jewish apocrypha and Christian apocrypha. It is also a term used to characterize or embody immense wickedness or iniquity.

The etymology of the word is uncertain, but is most commonly translated as "lacking worth".[1] Some scholars translate it from Hebrew as "worthless" (Beli yo'il), while others translate it as "yokeless" (Beli ol), "may have no rising" (Belial) or "never to rise" (Beli ya'al). Only a few etymologists have assumed it to be an invented name from the start.[2] In the Book of Jubilees, penilely uncircumcised heathens are called "sons of Belial".

In the Goetia, Belial is said to be a mighty and a powerful king over fifty legions, made after Lucifer. He appears as two beautiful angels sitting in a chariot of fire. His purpose in the Goetia is to make the mage popularly known, possibly getting them titles. It is also written that sacrifice must be given or he will lie to the mage.

In the Torah the term appears in several places to indicate wicked or worthless people, such as :

Contents

The Dead Sea Scrolls

In The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness,[8] one of the Dead Sea scrolls, Belial is the leader of the Sons of Darkness:

'But for corruption thou hast made Belial, an angel of hostility. All his dominions are in darkness, and his purpose is to bring about wickedness and guilt. All the spirits that are associated with him are but angels of destruction.'

In Christianity

In the New Testament the word is used to refer to a demon, perhaps Satan[citation needed] or Lucifer[citation needed], when asked by St. Paul as to how Christ and Belial can agree. The passage in the Bible NIV states: "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever?".[9]

Sebastien Michaelis states that Belial seduces by means of arrogance and his adversary is St. Francis of Paola; in this sense his name is translated as "Lord of Arrogance" or "Lord of Pride" (Baal ial).[citation needed]

In the Biblia Vulgata fewer allusions to this demon are made, referring to Belial as torrents of death, and to impious men as sons of Belial and men of Belial.

Belial is listed as the sixty-eighth spirit of The Lesser Key of Solomon.

(Be′li·al) [from Heb., meaning "Good for Naught"; a compound of beli′, "not, lacking," and ya·‛al′, "be of benefit; be beneficial"].

The quality or state of being useless, base, good for naught. The Hebrew term beli·ya′‛al is applied to ideas, words, and counsel,[10] to calamitous circumstances,[11] and most frequently, to good-for-nothing men of the lowest sort—for example, men who would induce worship of other gods;[12] those of Benjamin who committed the sex crime at Gibeah;[13] the wicked sons of Eli;[14] insolent Nabal;[15] opposers of God’s anointed, David;[16] Rehoboam’s unsteady associates;[17] Jezebel's conspirators against Naboth;[18] and men in general who stir up contention.[19] Indicating that the enemy power would no longer interfere with the carrying out of true worship by his people in their land, Jehovah declared through his prophet: "No more will any good-for-nothing person pass again through you. In his entirety he will certainly be cut off."[20]

By the time Bible writing resumed in the first century, "Belial" was used as a name for Satan.[citation needed] So when Paul wrote[21] in his series of parallel contrasts, "What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?" the conclusion usually drawn is that "Belial" is Satan. The Syriac Peshitta here reads "Satan."[citation needed]

Apocrypha

The word "belial" appears frequently in Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha.[1] In addition to his appearance in the Book of Jubilees, Belial appears in other texts as well.

Belial is also mentioned in the Fragments of a Zadokite Work (which is also known as The Damascus Document (CD)), which states that during the eschatological age, "Belial shall be let loose against Israel, as God spoke through Isaiah the prophet."[22] The Fragments also speak of "three nets of Belial" which are said to be fornication, wealth, and pollution of the sanctuary.[23] In this work, Belial is sometimes presented as an agent of divine punishment and sometimes as a rebel, as Mastema is. It was Belial who inspired the Egyptian sorcerers, Jochaneh and his brother, to oppose Moses and Aaron. The Fragments also say that anyone who is ruled by the spirits of Belial and speaks of rebellion should be condemned as a necromancer and wizard.

Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs

Belial is also mentioned in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs. The author of the work seems to be a dualist because he presents Belial as God's opponent, not as a servant, but does not mention how or why this came to be. Simeon 5:3 says that fornication separates man from God and brings him near to Belial. Levi tells his children to choose between the Law of God and the works of Belial[24] It also states that when the soul is constantly disturbed, the Lord departs from it and Belial rules over it. Naphtali[25] contrasts the Law and will of God with the purposes of Belial. Also, in 20:2, Joseph prophesies that when Israel leaves Egypt, they will be with God in light while Belial will remain in darkness with the Egyptians. Finally, the Testament describes that when the Messiah comes, the angels will punish the spirits of deceit and Belial[26] and that the Messiah will bind Belial and give to his children the power to trample the evil spirits.[27]

The Ascension of Isaiah

In The Ascension of Isaiah, Belial is the angel of lawlessness and "the ruler of this world."

"And Manasseh turned aside his heart to serve Beliar; for the angel of lawlessness, who is the ruler of this world, is Beliar, whose name is Matanbuchus."[28]

In the Rules of the Community God is found making a very prolific statement, "I shall not comfort the oppressed until their path is perfect. I shall not retain Belial within my heart."

The War Scroll and the Thanksgiving hymns both delve into the idea that Belial is accursed by God and his people, and shows how the existence of Belial in this world can be attributed to the mysteries of God since we can not know why he permits the dealings of Belial to persist.

In the Dead Sea Scrolls Belial is further contrasted with God. These are the Angel of Light and the Angel of Darkness. The Manual of Discipline identifies the Angel of Light as God himself. The Angel of Darkness is identified in the same scroll as Belial.

Also in The Dead Sea Scrolls is a recounting of a dream of Amram, the father of Moses, who finds two 'watchers' contesting over him. One is Belial who is described as the King of Evil and Prince of Darkness.

In Satanism

The Satanic Bible names Belial as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell (specifically, the North Crown), and states that his name means "'without a master'" and symbolizes true independence, self-sufficiency, and personal accomplishment."[29] Belial represents the earth element, is the Master of Mankind and the Champion of Humanity, and represents the carnal and base urges of humans.

Literary references

BELIAL came last, then whom a Spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for it self: To him no Temple stood
Or Altar smoak'd; yet who more oft then hee
In Temples and at Altars, when the Priest
Turns Atheist, as did ELY'S Sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God.
In Courts and Palaces he also Reigns
And in luxurious Cities, where the noyse
Of riot ascends above thir loftiest Towrs,
And injury and outrage: And when Night
Darkens the Streets, then wander forth the Sons
Of BELIAL, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the Streets of SODOM, and that night
In GIBEAH, when hospitable Dores
Yielded thir Matrons to prevent worse rape.
  • Jon Peniel' "Children of the Law of One & the lost teachings of Atlantis" (Network Pub Inc, March 1998) describes the teachings of a pre-buddhistic monastery in the Himalaya's of Tibet as received by Jon Peniel. This monastery claims their heritage is from Atlantis, where there was a split between the 'Sons of Belial' and the 'Children of the Law of One'. This writer and his message on Belial are prophesized by Edgar Cayce on January 19th,1934 (ref. 3976-15).

See also

Occult portal

References

  1. ^ a b c Metzger & Coogan (1993) Oxford Companion to the Bible, p77.
  2. ^ JewishEncyclopedia.com: Belial
  3. ^ Deut. 13:13
  4. ^ Judg. 19:22, 20:13
  5. ^ 1 Sam. 2:12
  6. ^ 1 Sam. 25:17
  7. ^ 2 Sam. 20:1
  8. ^ 1QM
  9. ^ 2 Cor 6:15
  10. ^ De 15:9; Ps 101:3; Na 1:11
  11. ^ Ps 41:8
  12. ^ De 13:13
  13. ^ Jg 19:22-27; 20:13
  14. ^ 1Sa 2:12
  15. ^ 1Sa 25:17, 25
  16. ^ 2Sa 20:1; 22:5; 23:6; Ps 18:4
  17. ^ 2Ch 13:7
  18. ^ 1Ki 21:10, 13
  19. ^ Pr 6:12-14; 16:27; 19:28
  20. ^ Na 1:15; see also 1Sa 1:16; 10:27; 30:22; Job 34:18
  21. ^ 2 Corinthians 6:15
  22. ^ 6:9
  23. ^ 6:10-11
  24. ^ Levi 19:1
  25. ^ 2:6, 3:1
  26. ^ 3:3
  27. ^ 18:12
  28. ^ Ascension of Isaiah 2:4
  29. ^ Crabtree, Vexen. The Aspect of Belial

Sources

External links


Bible wiki

Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From BibleWiki

Meaning: worthlessness

Frequently used in the Old Testament as a proper name. It is first used in Deut 13:13. In the New Testament it is found only in 2Cor 6:15, where it is used as a name of Satan, the personification of all that is evil. It is translated "wicked" in Deut 15:9; Ps 418 (R.V. marg.); Ps 1013; Prov 6:12, etc. The expression "son" or "man of Belial" means simply a worthless, lawless person (Jdg 19:22; Jdg 20:13; 1Sam 1:16; 1Sam 2:12).

This entry includes text from Easton's Bible Dictionary, 1897.

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Found frequently as a personal name in the Vulgate and various English translations of the Bible, is commonly used as a synonym of Satan, or the personification of evil. This sense is derived from 2Cor 6:15, where Belial (or Beliar) as prince of darkness is contrasted with Christ, the light. It is clear in the Vulgate and Douay translations of 1 Kg 12:10ff, where the same Hebrew word is rendered once as Belial and twice as "the devil". In the other instances, too, the translators understood it as a name for the prince of evil, and so it has passed into English. Milton, however, distinguishes Belial from Satan, regarding him as the demon of impurity. In the Hebrew Bible, nevertheless, the word is not a proper name, but a common noun usually signifying "wickedness" or "extreme wickedness". Thus, Moore renders "sons of Belial" as "vile scoundrels" (Jdg 19:22); most prefer "worthless fellows". In some cases belial seems to mean "destruction", "ruin"; thus in Ps 129 (Heb.), the word is parallel to the thought of utter destruction and seems to mean the same. In Ps., sviii, 5, it is parallel to "death" and "Sheol"; some understand it as "destruction", Cheyne as "the abyss". The etymology of the word is doubtful; it is usually taken to be a compound meaning "worthlessness." Cheyne suggest an alternate that means "that from which no one comes up", namely the abyss, Sheol. St. Jerome's etymology "without yoke", which he has even inserted as a gloss in the text of Jdg 19:22, is contrary to Hebrew philology. Belial, from meaning wickedness or Sheol, could develop into a name for the prince of evil or of darkness; and as such was widely used at the beginning of our era. Under the names Beliar, Berial, he plays a very important rôle in apocryphal literature, in the "Ascension of Isaias", the "Sibylline Oracles", and the "Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs". He is the prince of this world and will come as Antichrist; his name is sometimes given also to Nero, returning as Antichrist.

Portions of this entry are taken from The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907.

Contents

—Biblical Data:

A term occurring often in the Old Testament and applied, as would seem from the context in I Sam. x. 27; II Sam. xvi. 7, xx. 1; II Chron. xiii. 7; Job xxxiv. 18, to any one opposing the established authority, whether civil, as in the above passages, or religious, as in Judges xix. 22; I Kings xxi. 10, 13; Prov. xvi. 27, xix. 28; Deut. xiii. 14, xv. 9; II Sam. xxiii. 6. A somewhat weaker sense, that of "wicked" or "worthless," is found in I Sam. i. 16, ii. 12, xxv. 17, xxx. 22. The use of the word in II Sam. xxii. 5 is somewhat puzzling. Cheyne explains it as "rivers of the under world," while more conservative scholars render "destructive rivers."

The etymology of this word has been variously given. The Talmud (Sanh. 111b) regards it as a compound word, made up of "beli" and "'ol" (without a yoke). This derivation is accepted by Rashi (on Deut. xiii. 14). Gesenius ("Dict." s.v.) finds the derivation in "beli" and "yo'il" (without advantage; i.e., worthless). Ibn Ezra (on Deut. xv. 9), without venturing on an etymology, contents himself with the remark that "Belial" is a noun, and quotes the opinion of some one else that it is a verb with a precative force, "May he have no rising." Cheyne ("Expository Times," 1897, pp. 423 et seq.) seeks to identify Belial with the Babylonian goddess Belili (Jastrow, "Religion of Babylonia," pp. 588, 589). Hebrew writers, according to this view, took up "Belili" and scornfully converted it into "Belial" in order to suggest "worthlessness." Hommel ("Expository Times," viii. 472) agrees in the equation Belial = Belili, but argues that the Babylonians borrowed from the western Semites and not vice versa. This derivation, however, is opposed by Baudissin and Jensen ("Expository Times," ix. 40, 283).

—In Rabbinical and Apocryphal Literature:

In Apocalyptic Literature.

In the Ḥasidic circles from which the apocalyptic literature emanated and where all angelologic and demonologic lore was faithfully preserved, Belial held a very prominent position, being identified altogether with Satan. In the Book of Jubilees (Jub 120), Belial is, like Satan, the accuser and father of all idolatrous nations: "Let not the spirit of Belial ["Beliar" corrupted into "Belhor"] rule over them to accuse them before thee." The uncircumcised heathen are "the sons of Belial" (Jub 1532).

In the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Belial is the archfiend from whom emanate the seven spirits of seduction that enter man at his birth (Reuben ii.; Levi iii.; Zebulun ix.; Dan. i.; Naphtali ii.; Benjamin vi., vii.), the source of impurity and lying (Reuben iv., vi.; Simeon v.; Issachar vi.-vii.: Dan. v.; Asher i., iii.), "the spirit of darkness" (Levi xix.; Joseph vii., xx.). He will, like Azazel in Enoch, be opposed and bound by the Messiah (Levi xviii.), "and cast into the fire forever" (Judah xxv.); "and the souls captured by him will then be wrested from his power."

In the Ascensio Isaiæ, Belial is identified with Samael (Malkira [Dan. v.]; possibly Malak ra = the Evil Angel [i. 9]), and called "the angel of lawlessness"—"the ruler of this world, whose name is Matanbuchus" (a corrupt form of "Angro-mainyush" or Ahriman?) (ii. 4).

In Sibyllines, iv. 2 (which part is of Christian origin) Belial descends from heaven as Antichrist and appears as Nero, the slayer of his mother. In the Sibyllines, iii. 63 (compare ii. 166) Belial is the seducer who, as the pseudo Messiah, will appear among the Samaritans, leading many into error by his miraculous powers, but who "will be burned up by heavenly fire carried along by the sea to the land [an earthquake?] to destroy his followers," "at the time when a woman [Cleopatra] will rule over the world."

In regard to the meaning and etymology of the word "Belial" there has always been a wide difference of opinion. The Septuagint, in translating it "lawlessness"—ἀνόμημα (Deut. xv. 9), ἀνομία (II Sam. xxii. 5), or παράνομος (Deut. xiii. 14; Judges xix. 22; and elsewhere)—follows a rabbinical tradition which interpreted it as "beli 'ol" the one who has thrown off the yoke of heaven (Sifre, Deut. 93; Sanh. 111b; Midr. Sam. vi.; Yalḳ. to II. Sam. xxiii. 6; so also Jerome on Judges xix. 22, "absque jugo." Belial was accordingly considered the opponent of the rule of God; that is, Satan, or the antagonist of God (see Antichrist). Aquilas (LXX., I Kings xxi. 13) translates it ἀποστασία = sedition, in the same manner that the "naḥash bariaḥ," or dragon ( = Satan), is described as the apostate. The various modern etymologies, taking the word as a combination of "beli yo'il" (without worth) (Gesenius), or of "beli ya'al" (never to rise)—that is, never to do well (Ibn Ezra, Lagarde, Hupfeld, Fürst)—are alike rejected by Moore as extremely dubious (commentary to Judges, p. 419). Theodotion to Judges xx. 13, Ibn Ezra (Deut. xv. 9), and so Luther and the A. V. occasionally take Belial as a proper noun. It was Bäthgen (commentary to Ps. xviii. 5) who first translated Belial, "the land from which there is no return," and then Cheyne (in "Expositor," 1895, pp. 435-439, and in the "Encyc. Bibl." s. v. "Belial"). They proved it to be the exact equivalent of the Assyrian "matu la tarat" (the land without return). Tiamat, the dragon of the abyss, having been identified with Satan, thus gave rise to the various uses of the word, and the legends of Belial Antichrist. Baudissin, in Hauck-Herzog's "Realencyklopädie," s. v., still takes a skeptical attitude as to the mythical character of Belial in the Old Testament, without, however, explaining the peculiar history of the word. Compare Satan.

Bibliography

  • T. K. Cheyne, The Development of the Meanings of Belial, in The Expositor, 1895, i. 435-439;
  • idem, in Encyc. Bibl. s.v.;
  • Bousset, Antichrist, 1895, pp. 86, 99-101;
  • Charles, The Ascension of Isaiah, li.-lxxii. and pp. 6-8;
  • Riehm and Hauck-Herzog's Realencyklopädie, s.v. Belial.
This entry includes text from the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906.







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