Beelzebul

The Greek that is typically transliterated as “Beelzebul” in English used to be transliterated in English and most other languages with a long tradition in Bible translation as Beelzebub, going back to the Latin Vulgate translation that had used Beelzebub. St. Jerome likely had done that to correspond with the pronunciation of Baal Zebub (בַּעַל זְבוּב) of 2 Kings 1:2 where a Philistine god by that name is mentioned. The Hebrew name carries the derogative meaning “Baal (or: god) of flies” and is likely an ironic and humiliating misspelling of Baal Zebul with the meaning of “Baal (or: god) the Prince” (see Translation commentary on 2 Kings 1:2).

In popular German literature of the 14th through 17th century, the term “Beelzebock” was also used, a word with a similar sound, but with last and changed syllable carrying the meaning of “(billy) goat,” the partial form of the devil in popular imagination. (Source: Jost Zetzsche)

In languages that use Chinese characters, including Mandarin Chinese, Min Nan Chinese, Yue Chinese (Cantonese), or Hakka Chinese, the characters 別西卜 are used in Protestant translations (pronunciation in Mandarin: biéxību, in Cantonese: bit6 sai1 buk1, in Hakka phe̍t-sî-puk). That transliteration name has been used since at least 1850 in the Literary Chinese Delegates’ Version, likely because of the suitably negative meaning of the last character 卜 or “divination.” (The Catholic transliteration is 貝耳則步 / bèiěrzébù in Mandarin, without any particular meaning.)

In Western Bukidnon Manobo it is translated with Endedaman, the Manobo name for the ruler of the evil spirits. (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)

In Libras (Brazilian Sign Language) it is translated with a sign that combines the signs for “Baal” and “fly,” because of its meaning of “Baal (god) of flies.” (Source: Missão Kophós )


“Beelzebul” in Libras (source )