Belial (also Belhor, Baalial, Beliar, Beliall, Beliel) is the name for a demon in the Old Testament. He is known as Beliar in Greek. He has been identified with Satan, both as a minion of Satan and sometimes as another name for Satan himself. Belial is Hebrew for "without value." Among certain sections of the Jews, this demon was considered the chief of all the devils. He is also called "the angel of lawlessness" and "the king of this world". Belial is also considered the father of idolatrous nations. According to the Book of Jubilees, uncircumcised heathens are considered to be "sons of Belial".
Belial is considered the source of the seven spirits of seduction that enter men at birth, the source of impurity and lying, and the spirit of darkness.
The etymology for his name is unclear. 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.  (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=571&letter=B)
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In the Old Testament, Belial is mentioned several times, referring to him as father of pagan nations, rivers of destruction, rivers of death, and impious men are considered the sons of Belial.
The Dead Sea Scrolls
In The War of the Sons of Light and 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, an angel 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 early Christian writings, Belial was identified first with an angel of confusion and lust, created after Lucifer. Paradoxically, some apocrypha credit Belial as being the father of Lucifer and the angel that convinced him to wage a rebellion in Heaven against God, and that Belial was the first of the fallen angels to be expelled. Belial is referred to as Satan when asked by Paul how Christ and Belial can agree.
Since the Middle Ages he has been considered to be a powerful king of Hell that gives excellent familiars to his followers, and rules fifty to eighty legions of demons, though no mention is made of this in the Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. As a demon he was said to have an agreeable aspect, and 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 Francis of Paola; 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 plays heavily in Christian apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. In addition to his appearance in the Book of Jubilee, 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 at the time of the Antichrist, "Belial shall be let loose against Israel, as God spake through Isaiah the prophet." (6:9). The Fragments also speak of "three nets of Belial" which are said to be fornication, wealth, and polution 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 Patriarchs
Belial is also mentioned (as "Beliar") in the Testament 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 Beliar. 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 Beliar rules over it. Naphtali (2:6, 3:1) contrasts the Law and will of God with the purposes of Beliar. 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 Beliar (3:3) and that the Messiah will bind Beliar and give to his children the power to trample the evil spirits (18:12).
The Martyrdom of Isaiah
In The Martyrdom of Isaiah, Belial is the angel of lawlessness and is the ruler of this world:
- And Manasseh turned aside his heart to serve Beliar; for the angel of lawlessness, who is the ruler of this world, is Beliar, whose name is Matanbuchus. - 2:4
Belial also plays a significant role in the Ascension of Isaias.
In other religious traditions
The Satanic Bible states Belial is one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell (specifically, the North Crown), and that "Belial means 'without a master' and symbolizes true independence, self-sufficiency, and personal accomplishment."  (http://www.dpjs.co.uk/belial.html) Belial represents the earth element, is the Master of Mankind and the Champion of Humanity, and represents the carnal and base urges of mankind.
Offerings, sacrifices and gifts must be made to honor Belial, or he will not answer the truth to what the conjurer demands. Gilles de Rais attempted to raise Belial and Beelzebub by using the dismembered remains of children as sacrifices.  (http://www.shanmonster.com/witch/witches/gilles.html)
Belial is listed as the eighty-sixth spirit of the Ars Goetia.
Belial (or a likeness thereof) figures in many works of fiction, both medieval and modern. Among these are:
Medieval fiction and Milton
- In Jacobus de Teramo's Buche Belial (1473), Belial was depicted with a man's body with talons instead of feet, and having ,a man's head with the horns and ears of a bull and the tusks of a boar; he keeps the door of Hell.
- In Book II of Paradise Lost, author John Milton depicts Belial as one who realizes that the war against Heaven has been lost by the hosts of Hell, and hopes that God will forgive them and allow them to return to heaven.  (http://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=21883)
Modern fiction, film, and popular culture
- Victor Hugo referred to Bellial as "the Infernal Ambassador to Turkey".
- The title of the novel and play Billy Liar by Keith Waterhouse is a play on the name "Beliar."
- In the Robert Jordan book series, The Wheel of Time, one of the characters known as the Forsaken is named Be'lal.
- In the Philip K. Dick novel The Divine Invasion, Belial is the name of The Accuser.
- In Dean Koontz's "Phantoms", Belial is one of the names of the evil creature residing in Snowfield.
- In the silent film Nosferatu, it is said that the Vampires were spawned from Belial's blood.
- Belial is one of the demons who possesses Emily Rose in The Exorcism Of Emily Rose.
- Catholic Encyclopedia entry on Belial (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02408a.htm)
- Belial entry at Jewish Encyclopedia.com (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=571&letter=B)
- Occultopedia entry on Belial (http://www.occultopedia.com/b/belial.htm)
- DJPS entry on Belial (http://www.dpjs.co.uk/belial.html)
- Wikipedia (2005). Belial (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belial). Retrieved Nov 22, 2005