is one of the four crown princes of Hell
In many religious traditions, a hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife. Religions with a linear divine history often depict hells as endless. Religions with a cyclic history often depict a hell as an intermediary period between incarnations...
and a demon
call - 1347 531 7769 for more infoIn Ancient Near Eastern religions as well as in the Abrahamic traditions, including ancient and medieval Christian demonology, a demon is considered an "unclean spirit" which may cause demonic possession, to be addressed with an act of exorcism...
in the Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...
, Jewish apocrypha
Jewish apocrypha includes texts written in the Jewish religious tradition either in the Intertestamental period or in the early Christian era, but outside the Christian tradition...
and Christian apocrypha
The word "apocrypha" is today often used to refer to the collection of ancient books printed in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments...
. It is also a term used to characterize or embody immense wickedness or iniquity.
Etymology is the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time.For languages with a long written history, etymologists make use of texts in these languages and texts about the languages to gather knowledge about how words were used during...
of the word is uncertain, but is most commonly translated as "lacking 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 an invented name from the start. In the Book of Jubilees
The Book of Jubilees , sometimes called Lesser Genesis , is an ancient Jewish religious work, considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches...
, penilely uncircumcised
Male circumcision is the surgical removal of some or all of the foreskin from the penis. The word "circumcision" comes from Latin and ....
heathens are called "sons of Belial".
In the Goetia
refers to a practice which includes the invocation of angels or the evocation of demons, and usage of the term in English largely derives from the 17th century grimoire The Lesser Key of Solomon, which features an Ars Goetia as its first section...
, Belial is said to be a mighty and a powerful king over fifty legions, made after Lucifer
Traditionally, Lucifer is a name that in English generally refers to the devil or Satan before being cast from Heaven, although this is not the original meaning of the term. In Latin, from which the English word is derived, Lucifer means "light-bearer"...
. 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
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...
the term appears in several places to indicate wicked or worthless people, such as :
- the men of Gibeah
Gibeah is a biblical site identified by archaeologists as a hill in Jerusalem, on the outskirts of the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood, known as Tell el-Ful.-Etymology:...
- the sons of Eli
Eli was, according to the Books of Samuel, a Jewish High Priest of Shiloh, and one of the last Israelite Judges before the rule of kings in ancient Israel.-Biblical narrative:...
According to the 1st Book of Samuel Chapter 25, Nabal , was a rich Calebite who was also described as being harsh and surly. David and his band of men who had been outlawed by King Saul were living off the Wilderness of Paran and providing voluntary protection to the shepherds in the area.The...
, and Shimei
Shimei is the name of a number of persons referenced in the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinical literature.*The second son of Gershon and grandson of Levi...
Dead Sea Scrolls
In The War of the Sons of Light Against the Sons of Darkness
, one of the Dead Sea scrolls
The Dead Sea Scrolls are a collection of 972 texts from the Hebrew Bible and extra-biblical documents found between 1947 and 1956 on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea, from which they derive their name...
, Belial is the leader of the Sons of Darkness:
But for corruption thou hast made Belial, an angel
Angels are mythical beings often depicted as messengers of God in the Hebrew and Christian Bibles along with the Quran. The English word angel is derived from the Greek ἄγγελος, a translation of in the Hebrew Bible ; a similar term, ملائكة , is used in the Qur'an...
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 the New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....
the word is used to refer to a demon, perhaps Satan
Satan , "the opposer", is the title of various entities, both human and divine, who challenge the faith of humans in the Hebrew Bible...
, when asked by St. Paul
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...
as to how Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...
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?".
Sebastien Michaelis was a French inquisitor and prior of the Dominican order who lived during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His Histoire admirable de la possession d'une penitente , includes a classification of demons which has passed into general use in esoteric literature.-Early...
states that Belial seduces by means of arrogance and his adversary is St. Francis of Paola
Saint Francis of Paola was an Italian mendicant friar and the founder of the Roman Catholic Order of the Minims.-Biography:...
; 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 Lesser Key of Solomon
The Lesser Key of Solomon or Clavicula Salomonis , is an anonymous 17th-century grimoire, and one of the most popular books of demonology...
(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, to calamitous circumstances, and most frequently, to good-for-nothing men of the lowest sort—for example, men who would induce worship of other gods; those of Benjamin who committed the sex crime at Gibeah; the wicked sons of Eli; insolent Nabal; opposers of God’s anointed, David; Rehoboam’s unsteady associates; Jezebel's conspirators against Naboth; and men in general who stir up contention. 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."
By the time Bible writing resumed in the first century, "Belial" was used as a name for Satan. So when Paul wrote 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."
The word "belial" appears frequently in Jewish apocrypha
The term apocrypha is used with various meanings, including "hidden", "esoteric", "spurious", "of questionable authenticity", ancient Chinese "revealed texts and objects" and "Christian texts that are not canonical"....
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." The Fragments also speak of "three nets of Belial" which are said to be fornication, wealth, and pollution of the sanctuary. In this work, Belial is sometimes presented as an agent of divine punishment and sometimes as a rebel, as Mastema
Mastema an angel who persecutes evil in Hebrew folklore. He carries out punishments for God. He tempts humans and tests their faith. He asked God to permit him to have demons as his subordinates. In the Zadokite Fragments and the Dead Sea Scrolls, he is the angel of disaster, the father of all...
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 Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs is a constituent of the apocryphal scriptures connected with the Bible. It is a pseudepigraphical work comprising the dying commands of the twelve sons of Jacob. It is part of the Oscan Armenian Orthodox Bible of 1666. Fragments of similar writings were...
. The author of the work seems to be a dualist
Dualism denotes a state of two parts. The term 'dualism' was originally coined to denote co-eternal binary opposition, a meaning that is preserved in metaphysical and philosophical duality discourse but has been diluted in general or common usages. Dualism can refer to moral dualism, Dualism (from...
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 It also states that when the soul is constantly disturbed, the Lord departs from it and Belial rules over it. Naphtali contrasts the Law and will of God with the purposes of Belial. Also, in 20:2, Joseph prophesies that when Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...
, 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 and that the Messiah will bind Belial and give to his children the power to trample the evil spirits.
Ascension of Isaiah
In The Ascension of Isaiah
The book Ascension of Isaiah is one of the Pseudepigrapha. Theories as to the date of its composition place it in a range from the late 1st century AD to the second half of the 2nd century AD...
, Belial is the angel of lawlessness
Antinomianism is defined as holding that, under the gospel dispensation of grace, moral law is of no use or obligation because faith alone is necessary to salvation....
and "the ruler of this world."
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.
The Satanic Bible
The Satanic Bible is a collection of essays, observations, and rituals published by Anton LaVey in 1969. It contains the core principles of LaVeyan Satanism, and is considered the foundation of its philosophy and dogma. It has been described as the most important document to influence contemporary...
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." Belial represents the earth element
Earth, home and origin of humanity, has often been worshipped in its own right with its own unique spiritual tradition.-European tradition:Earth is one of the four classical elements in ancient Greek philosophy and science. It was commonly associated with qualities of heaviness, matter and the...
, is the Master of Mankind and the Champion of Humanity, and represents the carnal and base urges of humans.
- John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...
, "Paradise Lost", Book I
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's Children of the Law of One & The Lost Teachings of Atlantis describes the teachings of a pre-buddhistic monastery in the Himalaya's of Tibet
Tibet is a plateau region in Asia, north-east of the Himalayas. It is the traditional homeland of the Tibetan people as well as some other ethnic groups such as Monpas, Qiang, and Lhobas, and is now also inhabited by considerable numbers of Han and Hui people...
. This monastery claims their heritage is from Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....
, where there was a split between the "Sons of Belial" and the "Children of the Law of One".
- Belial figures prominently in Philip K. Dick
Philip Kindred Dick was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist whose published work is almost entirely in the science fiction genre. Dick explored sociological, political and metaphysical themes in novels dominated by monopolistic corporations, authoritarian governments and altered...
's novel The Divine Invasion
The Divine Invasion is a BSFA Award nominated 1981 science fiction book by Philip K. Dick. It is the second book in the gnostic VALIS trilogy, and takes place in the indeterminate future, perhaps a century or more after VALIS...
- Robert Browning
Robert Browning was an English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets.-Early years:...
(1839), "Soliloquy of the Spanish cloister", eighth stanza:
Or, my scorfulous French novel
- On gray paper with blunt type !
Simply glance at it, you grovel
- Hand and foot in BELIAL's gripe:
If I double down its pages
- At the woeful sixteenth print,
When he gathers his greengages,
- Ope a sieve and slip it in't?
- Belial in popular culture
The demon Belial, or characters named for him, have appeared in many examples of modern culture.-Literature:*In Philip K. Dick's The Divine Invasion, Belial is The Adversary, whose influence around Earth obfuscates reality and interferes with Yah's powers...
- The Lesser Key of Solomon
The Lesser Key of Solomon or Clavicula Salomonis , is an anonymous 17th-century grimoire, and one of the most popular books of demonology...
- List of theological demons