( Or BAALPEOR.)
Beelphegor was the baal of Mt. Phogor, or Peor, a mountain of Moab. The exact idea of baal seems to be "the possessor", the one who holds the real domination (Lagrange, Religions Sémitiques, 83, 84); so Beelphegor was the Moabite divinity who ruled over Phogor. Some identify him with Chamos (Chemosh), the national god of Moab, but this is not at all certain, as many localities had their local deities, apparently distinct to the popular mind. To the baal was generally ascribed the fertility of the soil and the increase of flocks; he was worshiped by offerings of the products he gave and often by unchaste practices done in his honor at his sanctuary. One of the great works of the prophets was to stamp out this immoral cult on the soil of Palestine.
Israel came in contact with Beelphegor at Settim, on the plains of Moab, their last station before entering the land of Canaan. Here many men of Israel, as a sequel to their immoral intercourse with the women of Moab, took part in the sacrificial banquets in honor of Beelphegor for which crimes they were punished by death ( Numbers 25 ). It is commonly held, in view of the occurrences at Settim and of the general nature of baal-worship, that immoral rites were part of the worship of this god; while the text does not make this certain, the large number of persons involved and the fact that "the affair of Phogor" is ascribed to the instigation of the seer Balaam, seem to indicate that it had relation to the cult of Beelphegor (xxxi, 16). Marucchi believes the survival of the cult till the middle of the second century is attested by an inscription dedicated by some soldiers from Arabia (?) to Jupiter Beellepharus, whom he identifies with Beelphegor. The proof is slight, nothing more than the resemblance in name. The terrible chastisement inflicted on Israel for the sin at Settim is mentioned several times in the Bible , and St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 10:8 ) uses it to point a moral.
More Catholic Encyclopedia
Browse Encyclopedia by Alphabet
The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.
Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.
No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.
Browse the Catholic Encyclopedia by Topic
Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912
Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online