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(I am posting this to both Orion and ioudaios-l. Apologies to anyone subscribed
to both who receives it twice.)
I am researching the history of the references and allusions to "Belial" in the
DSS and other second temple literature. (It occurs much more frequently than
one would realize from reading texts of the period in translation, since it is
frequently consigned to oblivion by being rendered as "evil men" "riffraff"
While I am interested in just about anything anyone has to say about its use, I
am particularly intrigued by:
a) A footnote in Ginzberg's LEGENDS OF THE JEWS which says there are 3
archangels: Michael is made of fire, the heavenly element, Gabriel is made of
snow, the stuff earth is composed of. "The element out of which the third
archangel was made...is the water beneath the earth, the streams of Belial of
the Bible=the waters of death." Did Belial start out as an angel? If so, how
was his name transposed from being spelled with an aleph, as the names of all of
the other angels were, to being spelled with an ayin?
b) Belial seems to have been written as "Beliar" in the pseudepigrapha. How
and why might this change from lamed to resh have occurred?
c) Gaster suggests that in the third book of the Sibylline Oracles, Belial is
thought to refer to Simon Magus. What is the basis for this connection?
All suggestions and references would be greatly appreciated.
Marsha B. Cohen
Graduate Student, Dept. of Religion
Florida Int'l University