Lord of the Flies
Prince, King, Chief of Scret Police
Second to Lucifer, OR regent of Hell
When he’s described at all, either a monstrouls creature on a large thrown, with a swollen face and a wild assortment of animal parts (see “occult world“) Or, obviously, a giant fly.
Beelzebub is an excellent demonification story. Originally, he was one of many Ba’al deities, Ba’al is one of the big Mesopotamian gods, and as Yahweh came into his own as the head of a religion, Ba’al was one of his rivals…likely the reason so many demons have “baal, beel, ba’el, bel” in their names. Anyway, Ba’al was likely Ba’al Zebul, “lord of the great hall” or “lord of heavens.” But the Jewish people threw some very successful shade on him, and his name changed to “ba’al zebul,” or “lord of the dungheap” or “flies.” Classic.
(As a note, there are a lot of Ba’als, but they’re not necessarily the same entity, since Ba’al is, at least party, a title, just “chief” or “male god guy.”)
According to the Testament of Solomon, Beelzebub is the ruler of all demons, originally a high ranking angel, and among other things, causes wars, instigates jealously, encourages men to worship demons, and arouses sexual desire in holy people. He was also a regular attendee in medieval sabbats, encouraging them to orgies. One hopes he had a better form than “giant fly” here.
While he’s occasionally head of Hell’s secret police (thank you, Berbiguer), his highest position is King of Hell–or technically Regent of Hell. In the Testament of Nicodemus, when Jesus storms the gates of Hell, Beelzebub is very quick to shove Satan out the gate and under Jesus’s feet. Because of this act of service, or self-service, Jesus named Beelzebub lord of Hell until such time as the Millenium rolled around and the Book of Revelations started happening all over the place.
There is some confusion over the “Order of the Fly,” of which Beelzebub is sometimes associated with. Daffy 18th century demonologist Charles Berbiguier created a strange demon hierarchy based on the French court, wherein you’ll find titles like “Grand Pantler of Hell” and “Chief Eunuch of Hell” and “Ambassador to England.” His eccentric hierarchy was included in the Dictionary Infernale around 1850. A.E. White’s book “Black Magic and Pacts” references this list in a footnote, attributing it to one of the first major grimoires, Johann Weyer’s De Praestigiis Daemonum (1563), and giving it a weird “verification by time travel.” Which is not to say Beelzebub didn’t lead a revolt in Hell and now serves as Lucifer’s chief lieutenant…but the sources are very suspect.