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Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Baal-Peor

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(Hebrews Ba'al Peor', בִּעִל פְּעוֹר, lord of Peor, or sometimes only פְּעוֹר, Peor, respectively represented in the Sept. by Βεελφεγώρ and φογώρ appears to have been properly the idol of the Moabites (Numbers 25:1-9; Deuteronomy 4:3; Joshua 22:17; Psalms 106:28; Hosea 9:10); but also of the Midianites (Numbers 31:15-16). It is the common opinion that this god was worshipped by obscene rites, and from the time of Jerome downward it has been usual to compare him to Priapus (see Sickler, in Augusti's Theol. Blatt. 1, 193 sq.). Selden and J. Owen (De Diis Syris, 1:5; Theologoumena, 5:4) seem to be the only persons who have disputed whether any of the passages in which this god is named really warrant such a conclusion. The narrative (Numbers 25) seems clearly to show that this form of Baal-worship was connected with licentious rites. The least that the above passages express is the fact that the Israelites received this idolatry from the women of Moab, and were led away to eat of their sacrifices (comp. Psalms 106:28); and it is possible for that sex to have been the means of seducing them into the adoption of their worship, without the idolatry itself being of an obscene kind. It is also remarkable that so few authors are agreed even as to .the general character of these rites. Most Jewish authorities (except the Tarnum of Jonathan on Numbers 25) represent his worship to have consisted of rites which are filthy in the extreme, but not lascivious (see Braunius, De Vestit. Sacerd. 1:7, for one of the fullest collections of Jewish testimonies on this subject). Without laying too much stress on the rabbinical derivation of the word פְעוֹר, hiatus, i.e. "aperire hymenem virgineum," we seem to have reason to conclude that this was the nature of the worship. This is, moreover, the view of Creuzer (2. 411), Winer, Gesenius, Furst, and almost all critics. The reader is referred for more detailed information particularly to Creuzer's Symbolik and Movers' Phonizier. The identification of Baal with the sun (See BAAL), as the generative power of nature confirms the opinion of the lascivious character of this worship. Peor is properly the name of a mountain (See PEOR), and Baal-Peor was the name of the god worshipped there. Some identify this god with CHEMOSH (See CHEMOSH) (q.v.). (See BAALIM).

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Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Baal-Peor'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/b/baal-peor.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

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