09.01.02 Mk. 3:20; Mt. 12:22-24 (See also Lk. 11:14-23) Capernaum
IS JESUS A DEMON OR SON OF DAVID?
Mk. 20 Then He went home, and the crowd gathered again so that they were not even able to eat.
Mt. 22 Then a demon-possessed man who was blind and unable to speak was brought to Him. He healed him, so that the man could both speak and see. 23
And all the crowds were astounded and said, “Could this be the Son of David!” 24 When the Pharisees heard this, they said, “The man drives out demons only by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”
Just as there are many denominations in Christianity today, so likewise there was a variety of sects in first century Judaism. Among the Pharisees there was a charismatic group known as the Hasidim, meaning, the godly people, who performed healings, and exorcisms (see Jn. 12:27; Ac. 19:13). Today, some scholars believe the Hasidim were the closest to biblical Judaism of all the religious sects. It is believed that they used a variety of chants and verbal formulas that were amazingly similar to chants and verbal formulas of neighboring pagan cultures. They had the gift of exorcism and they cast out demons “in the name of Yahweh” (Heb. “God”), or more commonly “in the Name of Yahweh, and the seal of Solomon.”
The Jewish people believed there were three unusually powerful demons, each known as chief or prince of devils. They were:
- The angel of death who is the prince of all satans.
- Asmodeus, the chief demon of antagonism known primarily from the book of Tobit, a popular book at the time of Jesus.
- Beelzebub, described below
Jesus demonstrated He had superior power over all other powers, an act that, no doubt, that challenged the Hasidim. He demonstrated life over death, health over sickness, and peace over confusion and anarchy.
“Blind and unable to speak.” Jewish exorcists were able to deliver an oppressed person from demonic control by first requiring the demon to identify itself and then demanding the evil spirit to leave. However, if that person was unable to speak, they were unable to perform the exorcism. So the rabbis told the people that when the messiah comes, he will be able to perform this kind of deliverance. Therefore, this miraculous exorcism, known as a “messianic miracle,” proved that Jesus was indeed the messiah. For more information, see “messianic miracles” as well as “binding and loosening.” The audience was stunned, because in various Inter-Testamental writings, the advent of the Messiah meant that evil would be defeated.
“Could this be the Son of David?” They had just witnessed a messianic miracle. Therefore, they were asking if He could be the expected son of David, because if He was, then he would be their messiah. Jesus repeatedly demonstrated, as recorded by the gospel writers, that He was the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant.
But they had a serious problem: As previously stated, their expectation of the coming Son of David was as a military victor who would lead them to political independence and economic prosperity, and establish an international superpower, as King David had done a thousand years earlier. This was the description they read in the Psalms of Solomon, a recent first century B.C. book. But when the people saw Jesus heal the demon-possessed man, they realized this was not anything King David had done. In fact, the terms Son of Man, or Bar Enosh in Aramaic, and Son of David became synonyms for Messiah by the first century. The expectations were that this “Son” would excel David’s triumphs. So they questioned if He really was from the house of David. It obviously was not the mission of Jesus at this time to rebuild the Davidic Empire, but to bring deliverance and salvation to every soul afflicted by sin and, thereby, usher in the Kingdom of God into their life.
But a few leading Pharisees (not the Hasidim) believed that, if this kind of a demon had been cast out of a person, this could have been done only by a more powerful demon. More specifically, it could only have been accomplished by Beelzebub, the prince of demons (Satan) who ordered one of his subjects out of this man. They concluded that Jesus was possessed by Beelzebub, and therefore, had to die. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, turned the issue around so they would have to realize that if He cast out the demon by the Spirit of God (and He did), then they had a problem of how to deal with the Kingdom of God which was now confronting them. But this conversation caused another problem: They either overlooked or refused to recognize how Jesus could have known their thoughts unless He was a prophet of God? Demons do not have this gift.
“Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.” This phrase was well known and appears in the Testament of Solomon. Jewish writings had numerous references to Satan such as this one:
I am Beelzebul, the ruler of demons.
Testament of Solomon 3:6
Some believed that the Philistine god Beelzebul (2 Kg. 1:2-6), was the chief demon who lived in the Abyss located at the bottom of the Sea of Galilee. His name meant Lord of the heavenly dwelling, or Lord of the royal palace, in the ancient Philistine law. However, by a slight alteration of letters, the Jews changed the name to mean the god of dung, or the god of flies. In Syria, it meant Lord of the manure pile. Word plays like this were common and it clearly reflects their offensive attitude toward their Gentile neighbors. Baal-Zubub was also a god of the Phoenicians that Jesus identified as Satan when He said, “If Satan drives out Satan” (Mt. 12:26; next section) Satan was believed to have his evil work accomplished by subordinate demons. The name Baal, in its various forms, appears 84 times in the Hebrew Scriptures. This indicates that there was a long historical encounter with this god in Jewish history.
Many rabbis believed that King Solomon prescribed the directives on how to perform an exorcism. In fact, Josephus quoted some of Solomon’s directives that were being used by Jewish exorcists of his time.
. Beelzebul is also known as Beelzebub, Baal-Zebul, Baal-Zubub, or Baal-Zebub.
. Bruce, New Testament History. 65-67.
. Safrai, “The Jewish Cultural Nature of Galilee in the Frist Century.” 180.
. See Ex. 7:22; 8:7; Mt. 24:24; Jn. 12:27; Ac. 19:13.
. Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:114-16.
. The book of Tobit was written in the Inter-Testamental Period. Aramaic and Hebrew fragments of this book were found in 1952 among several Dead Sea Scrolls in Cave 4. See 02.02.03. It is in a class of books known as the Apocrypha.
. Research on the “Messianic Miracles” is credited to Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a Messianic scholar and director of Ariel Ministries in San Antonio, TX, formerly of Tustin, CA. For more information, see http://ariel.org/. Retrieved September 26, 2013. See also 06.03.08.V (Video), 06.01.03 and the comparison of Dead Sea Scroll fragments 4Q278 and 4Q521 with Luke 4:16-30 at 06.02.02; See also Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Miracles. 4; Fischer, The Gospels in Their Jewish Context. (Lecture on CD/MP3). Week 10, Session 2.
. For further study on binding and loosening see 08.06.03; 11.02.08; 10.01.29; 12.01.03; See also Foster and King, Binding and Loosening: Exercising Authority over Dark Powers.
. 1 Enoch 55:4; Jubilees 23:29; Testament of Simeon 6:6; Testament of Judah 25:3; Testament of Moses 10:1, and the Testament of Solomon 20:16-17.
. It must be noted that the Jewish people did not believe that their messiah was deity, therefore, in their thinking messiah is spelled with a lower case letter “m.” In terms of Jesus as Him functioning in His role, Messiah is spelled with an upper case letter “M.”
. The messianic title Son of David appears in the following three groups of passages in the gospels where it is always reflective of the Davidic Covenant: 1) In various healings by Jesus – Mt. 9:27; 12:23; 15:22; 20:30-31; Mk. 10:47-48; Lk. 18:38-39. 2) In connection of the harassment the religious leaders gave Jesus – Mt. 22:42-43, 45; Mk. 12:35, 37; Lk. 20:41, 44, and 3) The praise the crowds gave Jesus at His entry into Jerusalem – Mt. 21:9, 15; Mk. 11:10. See Rogers, “The Davidic Covenant in the Gospels,” Bibliotheca Sacra. Part 1 of 2. 158-78.
. The phrase Son of Man in the Book of Enoch is a figure, who is waiting in heaven until God sends him to earth where he would establish his kingdom and rule over it. This book was common knowledge to the Jewish people, so when Jesus used the phrase about Himself, He was clearly claiming to be the long-awaited Messiah. See Bruce, New Testament History. 167; Tenney, The Gospel of John. 105.
. Wijngaards, Handbook to the Gospels. 44.
. Richardson, “David.” 59-60.
. Psalm of Solomon 17; ben Sirach 47:11; 1 Macc. 2:57; See also Farrar, The Life of Christ. 245-47.
. Quoted by Evans, “Exorcisms and the Kingdom.” 168 n38.
. A/k/a Baal-Zebul, Baal-Zubub, or Baal-Zebub.
. Or any sea, John. 2:2-3.
. Gilbrant, “Luke.” 353; Lang, Know the Words of Jesus. 140; Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica. 3:114-16; Geikie, The Life and Works of Christ. 2:141-43.
. Major, Manson, and Wright, The Mission and Message of Jesus. 64.
. Vine, “Baal, Master.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary. 1:12.
. Josephus, Antiquities 8.2.5; See also 09/01/05 and 10.01.06.