Unraveling Revelation: Belial, the Worthless Counselor

THE HEBREW phrase that literally means “sons of Belial” is usually translated into English as “worthless fellows.” We’ve encountered Belial in the Book of Nahum as we continue our look at his prophecy of the destruction of Nineveh.

While scholars disagree as to whether Belial was the name of an entity in the Old Testament, it was definitely used as such during the Second Temple period, including in the New Testament (2 Cor. 6:15). The Hebrew word beliyya’al occurs twice in Nahum, once in the phrase “worthless counselor” (Nah. 1:11), a contrast to Isaiah’s prophecy of Messiah, the Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6), and again in these words of comfort to the kingdom of Judah:

Behold, upon the mountains, the feet of him
who brings good news,
who publishes peace!
Keep your feasts, O Judah;
fulfill your vows,
For never again shall the worthless [beliyya’al] pass through you;
he is utterly cut off.

Nahum 1:15, ESV

Note that the definite article “the” is not in the Hebrew, so we think the sentence should read: “For never again shall Belial pass through you; he is utterly cut off.”

That’s why we take this as an “already-but-not-yet” prophecy that applies to the end times and possibly to Mystery Babylon—as we’ll explain in the weeks ahead.

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