What Do Flies Symbolize in The Bible?

Flies are mentioned numerous times throughout the Bible, often in reference to plagues and judgments from God. However, flies can symbolize different things based on the context in which they appear. In this comprehensive blog post, we will explore the significance of flies throughout Scripture and what they represented to the ancient Israelites. We will look at key passages that mention flies in both the Old and New Testaments.


Flies have been seen as pests and sources of disease throughout history. However, in ancient Biblical times, flies were more than just a nuisance – they held much symbolic significance. The presence of flies or fly imagery in Scripture often indicated corruption, death, disease, or judgment from God.

To the ancient Israelites, flies were seen as unclean creatures that carried disease and decay. They were associated with the pagan religious practices of Israel’s enemies. The swarming of flies was viewed as a curse from God and a sign of His divine wrath.

In this blog post, we will dive deep into the Biblical symbolism of flies. We will explore key questions such as:

  • What passages of Scripture mention flies and what do these passages signify?
  • How did flies represent judgment, corruption, and death to the Biblical authors?
  • What is the spiritual meaning and significance of flies in the Bible?
  • How do flies point to the sovereignty of God over plagues and judgments?

By the end of this post, you will have a thorough understanding of the meaning of flies throughout Scripture and what they represented to the people of ancient Israel. Let’s explore the Biblical symbolism of flies!

Key Takeaways:

  • Flies often represented corruption, death, disease, false gods, and God’s judgment in Scripture
  • Swarms of flies were seen as curses and plagues from God
  • The presence of flies demonstrated the enormity of God’s power
  • Flies highlighted the unclean and temporary nature of earthly life
  • Jesus Christ has power over demonic forces, including Beelzebub, the “Lord of the Flies”
  • Believers can have victory in Christ over the corruption and death flies represent
What Do Flies Symbolize in The Bible?

Flies Representing Corruption and Death

One of the most common symbolic meanings of flies throughout Scripture is corruption, decay, and death. This is because flies are attracted to and lay eggs in decaying matter. They carry disease and their presence indicates the presence of death.

For example, in Ecclesiastes 10:1 the writer declares:

Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment, And cause it to give off a foul odor; So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor. (NKJV)

Here, dead flies ruining perfume represent how even a little foolishness can ruin the reputation of someone considered wise. The image of flies corrupting something pure points to how quickly corruption spreads.

Similarly, Exodus 8:24 states regarding the plague of flies:

And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies. (NKJV)

The swarms of flies during this judgment corrupted and ruined the land, just as flies corrupt and carry disease. The flies here demonstrate the corruption and decay Egypt was undergoing for refusing to obey God.

Plagues of Flies as God’s Judgment

The most prominent passage involving flies is the plague of flies God sent against Egypt in Exodus 8. Pharaoh had refused to let the Israelites go out of slavery, so God sent a devastating plague. Exodus 8:20-24 states:

And the LORD said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh as he comes out to the water. Then say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be.”’” And the LORD did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants’ houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies. (NKJV)

This plague was an epic and devastating judgment on Egypt for refusing God’s command to free his people. The swarms of flies corrupted and ruined the land, just as the Egyptians’ sin and hard-heartedness corrupted their souls.

The flies afflicted everyone in Egypt except for the region of Goshen where the Israelites lived. God promised protection for his people while sending this judgment on the unrepentant Egyptians. The flies demonstrated that the one true God was sovereign over all creation, able to control even the smallest of creatures for His purposes.

This dramatic plague highlights how flies symbolized corruption, judgment, and death throughout Scripture. The swarms of flies were a vivid reminder of the decay that comes from disobeying God.

Flies as Representing False Gods and Idolatry

In some instances in the Bible, flies also take on the symbolism of pagan gods, idols, and idolatrous practices.

For example, Belzebub, named as the prince of demons in the New Testament, literally translates to “Lord of the Flies.” In 2 Kings 1:2-3, this name refers to a false god worshipped by the Philistines at Ekron:

Now Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room in Samaria, and was injured; so he sent messengers and said to them, “Go, inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this injury.” But the angel of the LORD said to Elijah the Tishbite, “Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, ‘Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron?’ (NKJV)

The name Beelzebub comes from this false deity who was worshipped by Israel’s enemies. In the New Testament, the name becomes synonymous with Satan himself.

In Mark 3:22, the scribes accuse Jesus of casting out demons by the prince of demons, Beelzebub:

And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebub,” and, “By the ruler of the demons He casts out demons.” (NKJV)

By connecting flies with idolatry and false gods, Scripture highlights the unclean and corrupt nature of idol worship. Flies and Beelzebub represented the decay and corruption of the pagan nations surrounding Israel.

Flies Representing the Brevity of Life

In some verses, flies are used to highlight the temporary and brief nature of human life. For instance, in Isaiah 51:6, God promises everlasting salvation even though the earth and heavens will disappear:

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, And those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished. (NKJV)

Ecclesiastes also uses flies to represent the brevity of life and human mortality:

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going. I returned and saw under the sun that—The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all. For man also does not know his time: Like fish taken in a cruel net, Like birds caught in a snare, So the sons of men are snared in an evil time, When it falls suddenly upon them. (Ecclesiastes 9:10-12 NKJV)

Just as flies have an extremely short lifespan, human life is temporary and ends swiftly. The brevity of flies points to the importance of living this life with wisdom, revering God.

Jesus Christ’s Power Over Flies and Corruption

While flies often symbolize corruption, false gods, and brevity of life, Jesus Christ represents the total reversal of these themes.

As the Lord of all creation, Christ has ultimate power of flies and all creatures. The name Beelzebub comes to represent Satan as the prince of demons. But while Satan may be called the Lord of the Flies, Jesus has power over him and all unclean spirits.

Where flies represent death and decay, Christ offers eternal life and redemption from sin. Mark 1:23-27 depicts Jesus casting out an unclean spirit:

Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him. Then they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.” (NKJV)

While flies represent impermanence, Jesus offers eternal spiritual life to those who place their faith in Him:

And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3 NKJV)

Believers can have victory in Christ over the corruption, false gods, and brevity flies represent. We have everlasting life and redemption through faith in Him.


Throughout Scripture, flies carry deep symbolic significance. They primarily represent corruption, death, false gods, plagues, and the temporary nature of earthly life. Swarms of flies demonstrate God’s sovereign judgment against the unrepentant.

However, Jesus Christ has power over all the corruption flies symbolize. He offers freedom from sin and eternal life to all who believe in Him. As believers, we can rest in the salvation Christ offers, which far outweighs the brevity and decay of this fallen world.

In our journey of faith, flies and their representation of corruption remind us to pursue holiness and redemption through Christ. Though trials and plagues may come, Jesus is Lord over all. We can take comfort that God’s salvation is eternal and undefiled.

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