Beelzebub ( /biːˈɛlzɨbʌb/ bee-el-zə-bub or /ˈbiːlzɨbʌb/ beel-zə-bub; (Arabic: بعل ألذباب, Ba‘al Azabab; Hebrew: בעל זבוב, Baʿal Zəbûb, literally "Lord of the Flies"; Greek: Βεελζεβούλ, Beelzeboúl; Latin: Beelzebūb), with numerous archaic variants, is a Semitic deity that was worshipped in the Philistine city of Ekron. In later Christian and Biblical sources he appears as a demon and the name of one of the seven princes of Hell.
Beelzebub is commonly described as placed high in Hell's hierarchy; he was of the order of cherubim. According to the stories of the 16th century occultist, Johann Weyer, Beelzebub led a successful revolt against Satan, and is the chief lieutenant of Lucifer, the Emperor of Hell, and presides over the Order of the Fly. Similarly, the 17th century exorcist, Sebastien Michaelis, in his Admirable History (1612), placed Beelzebub among the three most prominent fallen angels, the other two being Lucifer and Leviathan, whereas two 18th century works identified an unholy trinity consisting of Beelzebub, Lucifer, and Astaroth. John Milton featured Beelzebub as seemingly the second-ranking of the many fallen cherubim in the epic poem Paradise Lost, first published in 1667. Wrote Milton of Beelzebub "than whom, Satan except, none higher sat." Beelzebub is also a character in John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, first published in 1678.
Sebastien Michaelis associated Beelzebub with the deadly sin of pride. However, according to Peter Binsfeld, Beelzebub was the demon of gluttony, one of the other seven deadly sins, whereas Francis Barrett asserted that Beelzebub was the prince of false gods. In any event, Beelzebub was frequently named as an object of supplication by confessed witches. Within religious circles the accusation of demon possession has been used as both an insult and an attempt to categorise unexplained behavior. Not only have the Pharisees disparagingly accused Jesus of using Beelzebub's demonic powers to heal people (Luke 11v14-26) but others have been labeled possessed for acts of an extreme nature. Down through history Beelzebub has been held responsible for many cases of demon possession such as that of Sister Madeleine de Demandolx de la Palud , Aix-en-Provence 1611, whose relationship with Father Jean-Baptiste Gaufridi led not only to countless traumatic events at the hands of her inquisitors but also to the torture and execution of that "bewitcher of young nuns" Gaufridi himself. Beelzebub was also imagined to be sowing his influence in Salem, Massachusetts: his name came up repeatedly during the Salem witch trials, the last large-scale public expression of witch hysteria in North America or Europe, and afterwards Rev. Cotton Mather wrote a pamphlet entitled Of Beelzebub and his Plot.
Beelzebub from Russian icon of Harrowing of Hell.
In the aftermath of the 1634 Loudun possessions, as the priest Urbain Grandier was burnt at the stake, onlookers saw a fly appear and alleged it was Beelzebub fetching his soul.