But when the Pharisees heard it
Very probably not the same that went out, and held a council against Christ to destroy him, ( Matthew 12:14 ) but others that were come from Judea and Jerusalem, and were with him in the house, and saw the miracle: these, when they heard what the people said, and how ready they were to believe, and own Jesus to be the Messiah, in order to prevent it, being filled with envy and malice,
they said, this fellow doth not cast out devils but by Beelzebub,
the prince of devils.
They could not deny the miracle, or that it was one; but to deprive him of the glory of it, and even reproach him for it, and to bring him into contempt with the people, they not only speak of him in a scornful manner, (outov) , "this" sorry man, "this" vile fellow; but ascribe the miracle he wrought to familiarity with the devil, to diabolical influence and skill in magic art: they pretended he was in confederacy with Satan, and was carrying on his interest: and therefore, that he might gain credit and reputation, the prince of devils suffered the inferior ones to remove at his word: and of these their ancestors, the Jews have learnt to fix this vile imputation, and blasphemous piece of slander upon Christ; who, they say F15, brought enchantments, or witchcrafts, out of Egypt, in the cuttings of his flesh, whereby he performed the things he did. Concerning Beelzebub, (See Gill on Matthew 10:25) here called "the prince of devils"; it being a prevailing notion among the Jews, that there is one devil who is the head of all the rest, and who is by them sometimes called Asmodeus: they say F16, when Solomon sinned against the Lord, he sent to him (ydyvd aklm) (yadmva) , "Asmodeus the king of the devils", and drove him from his throne, and so elsewhere F17: and sometimes Samael, who is styled F18 Samael the prince, (Mydvd aklm) , "the king of devils"; and the angel Samael, the wicked, (Mynjvh lk var) , "the head of all the Satans", or devils F19: and we often read F20 of (Mnhygh rv) , "the prince of hell"; by whom the same is meant, as here, by Beelzebub; for if anyone devil is more wicked, odious, and execrable than the rest, the chief of them may be thought to be so; for which reason he is here mentioned.
F15 T. Hieros. Sabbat, fol. 13. 4. T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 104. 2.
F16 Targum in Eccl. i. 12.
F17 T. Bab. Pesach, fol. 110. 1. Gittin, fol. 68. 1. & Raziel, fol. 41. 2.
F18 Zohar in Deut. fol. 120. 3.
F19 Debarim Rabba, fol. 245. 3.
F20 T. Bab. Sanhedrim, fol. 52. 1. Imre Binah in Zohar in Gen. fol. 22. 3.