(Baʹal-zeʹbub) [owner (lord) of flies].
The Baal worshiped by the Philistines at Ekron. There are indications that it was a common practice among the Hebrews to change the names of false gods to something similar but degrading. Hence, the ending “zebub” may be an alteration of one of the titles of Baal shown in the Ras Shamra texts as “Zebul [Prince or Exalted], Lord of the Earth.” Some authorities, however, suggest that the name was given to the god by his worshipers because of his being viewed as the producer of flies and therefore able to control this common pest of the Middle East. Since the giving of oracles was associated with Baal-zebub, others favor the view that Baal-zebub was a god who was regarded as giving oracles by the flight or buzzing of a fly.—2 Ki. 1:2.
Ahaziah the king of Israel sent messengers to inquire of Baal-zebub as to whether he would recover from his serious injury or not. Through his prophet Elijah, Jehovah rebuked Ahaziah, saying: “Is it because there is no God at all in Israel that you are sending to inquire of Baal-zebub the god of Ekron? Therefore, as regards the couch upon which you have gone up, you will not come down off it, because you will positively die.”—2 Ki. 1:2-8.
The designation “Beelzebub” (possibly meaning “lord of the habitation” or “lord of dung”), appearing in the Christian Greek Scriptures with reference to the ruler of the demons, may be an alteration of “Baal-zebub.”—Matt. 12:24.