fly-lord, the god of the Philistines at Ekron (2 Kings 1:2, 3,
16). This name was given to the god because he was supposed to
be able to avert the plague of flies which in that region was to
be feared. He was consulted by Ahaziah as to his recovery.
(Gr. form Beel'zebul), the name given to Satan, and found only
in the New Testament (Matt. 10:25; 12:24, 27; Mark 3:22). It is
probably the same as Baalzebub (q.v.), the god of Ekron, meaning
"the lord of flies," or, as others think, "the lord of dung," or
only in Matt. 23:24, a small two-winged stinging fly of the
genus Culex, which includes mosquitoes. Our Lord alludes here to
the gnat in a proverbial expression probably in common use, "who
strain out the gnat;" the words in the Authorized Version,
"strain at a gnat," being a mere typographical error, which has
been corrected in the Revised Version. The custom of filtering
wine for this purpose was common among the Jews. It was founded
on Lev. 11:23. It is supposed that the "lice," Ex. 8:16 (marg.
R.V., "sand-flies"), were a species of gnat.
Heb. zebub, (Eccl. 10:1; Isa. 7:18). This fly was so grievous a
pest that the Phoenicians invoked against it the aid of their
god Baal-zebub (q.v.). The prophet Isaiah (7:18) alludes to some
poisonous fly which was believed to be found on the confines of
Egypt, and which would be called by the Lord. Poisonous flies
exist in many parts of Africa, for instance, the different kinds
Heb. 'arob, the name given to the insects sent as a plague on
the land of Egypt (Ex. 8:21-31; Ps. 78:45; 105:31). The LXX.
render this by a word which means the "dog-fly," the cynomuia.
The Jewish commentators regarded the Hebrew word here as
connected with the word _'arab_, which means "mingled;" and they
accordingly supposed the plague to consist of a mixed multitude
of animals, beasts, reptiles, and insects. But there is no doubt
that "the _'arab_" denotes a single definite species. Some
interpreters regard it as the Blatta orientalis, the cockroach,
a species of beetle. These insects "inflict very painful bites
with their jaws; gnaw and destroy clothes, household furniture,
leather, and articles of every kind, and either consume or
render unavailable all eatables."
(Heb. shu'al, a name derived from its digging or burrowing under
ground), the Vulpes thaleb, or Syrian fox, the only species of
this animal indigenous to Israel. It burrows, is silent and
solitary in its habits, is destructive to vineyards, being a
plunderer of ripe grapes (Cant. 2:15). The Vulpes Niloticus, or
Egyptian dog-fox, and the Vulpes vulgaris, or common fox, are
also found in Israel.
The proverbial cunning of the fox is alluded to in Ezek. 13:4,
and in Luke 13:32, where our Lord calls Herod "that fox." In
Judg. 15:4, 5, the reference is in all probability to the
jackal. The Hebrew word _shu'al_ through the Persian _schagal_
becomes our jackal (Canis aureus), so that the word may bear
that signification here. The reasons for preferring the
rendering "jackal" are (1) that it is more easily caught than
the fox; (2) that the fox is shy and suspicious, and flies
mankind, while the jackal does not; and (3) that foxes are
difficult, jackals comparatively easy, to treat in the way here
described. Jackals hunt in large numbers, and are still very
numerous in Southern Israel.
a "stroke" of affliction, or disease. Sent as a divine
chastisement (Num. 11:33; 14:37; 16:46-49; 2 Sam. 24:21).
Painful afflictions or diseases, (Lev. 13:3, 5, 30; 1 Kings
8:37), or severe calamity (Mark 5:29; Luke 7:21), or the
judgment of God, so called (Ex. 9:14). Plagues of Egypt were ten
(1.) The river Nile was turned into blood, and the fish died,
and the river stank, so that the Egyptians loathed to drink of
the river (Ex. 7:14-25).
(2.) The plague of frogs (Ex. 8:1-15).
(3.) The plague of lice (Heb. kinnim, properly gnats or
mosquitoes; comp. Ps. 78:45; 105:31), "out of the dust of the
land" (Ex. 8:16-19).
(4.) The plague of flies (Heb. arob, rendered by the LXX.
dog-fly), Ex. 8:21-24.
(5.) The murrain (Ex.9:1-7), or epidemic pestilence which
carried off vast numbers of cattle in the field. Warning was
given of its coming.
(6.) The sixth plague, of "boils and blains," like the third,
was sent without warning (Ex.9:8-12). It is called (Deut. 28:27)
"the botch of Egypt," A.V.; but in R.V., "the boil of Egypt."
"The magicians could not stand before Moses" because of it.
(7.) The plague of hail, with fire and thunder (Ex. 9:13-33).
Warning was given of its coming. (Comp. Ps. 18:13; 105:32, 33).
(8.) The plague of locusts, which covered the whole face of
the earth, so that the land was darkened with them (Ex.
10:12-15). The Hebrew name of this insect, _arbeh_, points to
the "multitudinous" character of this visitation. Warning was
given before this plague came.
(9.) After a short interval the plague of darkness succeeded
that of the locusts; and it came without any special warning
(Ex. 10:21-29). The darkness covered "all the land of Egypt" to
such an extent that "they saw not one another." It did not,
however, extend to the land of Goshen.
(10.) The last and most fearful of these plagues was the death
of the first-born of man and of beast (Ex. 11:4, 5; 12:29,30).
The exact time of the visitation was announced, "about
midnight", which would add to the horror of the infliction. Its
extent also is specified, from the first-born of the king to the
first-born of the humblest slave, and all the first-born of
beasts. But from this plague the Hebrews were completely
exempted. The Lord "put a difference" between them and the
Egyptians. (See PASSOVER ¯T0002864.)