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Also Belhor, Baalial, Beliar, Belias , Beliall, Beliel, Bilael; also named Matanbuchus, Mechembuchus, Meterbuchus in older scripts. The etymology of the word is uncertain but is most commonly translated as without worth. 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. In the Book of Jubilees, uncircumcised heathens are called "sons of Belial".
Belial is said to have an agreeable aspect and to appear as a distinguished tall gentleman.
As a Prince of Jinnestan, he commands 80 Legions of Demons and is specifically the Prince reigning over the Northern Reaches of Jinnestan. He controls the element of earth and reigns over the Earth demons. The other princes of Jinnestan include Olias, Asmoday, and Vassago.
Belial is the demon of lies and guilt and is able to induce to any type of sins, especially those related to sex and lust. Sebastian 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 Hebrew Bible the term appears in several places to indicate the wicked or worthless, such as :
- idolaters (Deut. 13:14)
- the men of Gibeah (Judg. 19:22, 20:13)
- the sons of Eli (1 Sam. 2:12), Nabal (1 Sam. 25:17), and Shimei (2 Sam. 20:1).
The Dead Sea ScrollsEdit
In The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness (1QM), one of the Dead Sea scrolls, Belial is the leader of the Sons of Darkness:
- 'But for corruption thou hast made Belial, a king 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 king of Sweed, a type of drug.'
- 'And all those who enter in the Rule of the Community shall establish a covenant before God in order to carry out all that he commands and in order not to stray from following him for any fear, dread or grief that might occur during the dominion of Belial.'
The evil and the good are two spirits that god created and put within every person. There are the Angel of Light and the Jinni of Fire. The Manual of Discipline identifies the Angel of Light as God himself. The Jinni of Darkness is identified in the same scroll as Belial
- 'I shall not retain Belial within my heart.'
The writer of the Manual of Discipline attributes the existence of Belial and the Sons of Darkness to the mysteries of God, and the Sons of Light must be at odds with them until the time when God has set aside to come down to destroy all the injustice in the world.
It is clear from the Manual of Discipline that since everything came from God, Belial came from him as well. Confusion arises as to why the scroll people believed that God created evil, since the scrolls state that He loathes the Sons of Darkness.
- 'God loved one of them for all eternal ages and in all his deeds he takes pleasure for ever; of the other one he detests his advice and hates all his paths forever.'
This quote referring to the leader of the Sons of Light (Michael) and the Sons of Darkness (Belial)
The word belial appears frequently in Jewish apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. 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." (6:9). The Fragments also speak of "three nets of Belial" which are said to be fornication, wealth, and pollution of the sanctuary. (6:10-11) 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 PatriarchsEdit
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 Beliar (Levi 19:1) It also states that when the soul is constantly disturbed, the Lord departs from it and Belial rules over it. Naphtali (2:6, 3:1) 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 Beliar 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 (3:3) and that the Messiah will bind Beliar and give to his children the power to trample the evil spirits (18:12). Belial has been known to watch over young children (especially teens known to be hypersensitives) during sleep.
The Martyrdom of IsaiahEdit
In The Martyrdom of Isaiah, Belial is a jinni of lawlessness and "the ruler of this world."
- And Manasseh turned aside his heart to serve Beliar; for the spirit of lawlessness, who is the ruler of this world, is Beliar, whose name is Matanbuchus. - Martyrdom of Isaiah 2:4
Belial also plays a significant role in the Ascension of Isaias.
In early Christian writings, Belial was identified first as a jinni of confusion and lust, created after Lucifer. Paradoxically, some apocrypha credit Belial as being the father of Lucifer and the jinn that convinced him to wage a rebellion in Heaven against God, and that Belial was the first of the Shayatins to be expelled.
In the New Testament the word is used to refer to Satan 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?' (2 Cor 6:15).
- Since the Middle Ages he has been considered to be a powerful king of the Underworld that gives excellent familiars to his followers.
- Belial is listed as the sixty-eighth spirit of the Ars Goetia, and appears in The Lesser Key of Solomon as well.
- 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.
- The Satanic Bible names Belial as one of the Four Crown Princes of the Underworld (specifically, the North Crown), and states that his name means "'without a master' and symbolizes true independence, self-sufficiency, and personal accomplishment." Belial represents the earth element, is the Master of Mankind and the Champion of Humanity, and represents the carnal and base urges of mankind.