In Christian demonology, Belphegor (or Beelphegor) is a demon.
The name Belphegor is a corruption of the biblical name Baal-Peor, the god of the Moabites.
In Christian tradition, Belphegor is said to be the chief demon of the deadly sin Sloth, at least according to Peter Binsfield's Binsfield's Classification of Demons Known as the demon of discoveries and of ingenious inventions, Belphegor seduces people by suggesting to them ingenious inventions that will make them rich and become greedy and selfish. According to some 16th century demonologists, his power is stronger in April. Bishop and witch-hunter Peter Binsfeld believed that Belphegor tempts by means of laziness. As a demon, he is described in Kabbalistic writings as the "disputer", an enemy of the sixth Sephiroth "beauty."
Belphegor (Lord of the Opening) was pictured in two quite different fashions: as a beautiful naked woman and as a monstrous, bearded demon with an open mouth, horns, and sharply pointed nails. Belphegor also figures in Milton's Paradise Lost and in Victor Hugo's The Toilers of the Sea.
Some rabbis claim that he must be worshipped on a toilet, with offerings being the residue of ones' digestion. This has led some to conclude that Belphegor is the god Pet (Fart) or "Crepitus," while others believe that he is Praipus. Selden is cited by Bainier as reporting that human victims are to be offered to him, and that his priests partake of the flesh. Wierus wrote that he always has an open mouth, attributing it to the name Phegor, which according to Leloyer means "crevice" or "split," and refers to when he was worshipped in caves and people threw him offerings through an air hole.
Belphegor originated as the Assyrian Baal-Peor, the Moabitish god to whom the Israelites became attached in Shittim (Numbers 25:3), which was associated with licentiousness and orgies. It was worshipped in the form of a phallus.
Numbers 25 describes that when Israel was in the northeast corner of the plains of Moab (called Abel-Shittim), they had illicit relations with the Maobite women and sacrificed to their god. As punishment, Moses all the Israelites who had sacrificed to Baal-Peor were to be killed. This slaughter amounted to 24,000 deaths. (Num 25:9)
Several other passages seem to refer to the event:
- "Your eyes have seen what the LORD has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from among you." - Deuteronomy 4:3
- "They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, And ate sacrifices offered to the dead." - Psalm 106:27-29
- "I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your forefathers as the earliest fruit on the fig tree in its first season. But they came to Baal-peor and devoted themselves to shame, and they became as detestable as that which they loved." - Hosea 9:10
He may be identified with Chemosh, the Moabite war god who fought against the Israelites.
- "Woe to you, Moab! The people of Chemosh have perished; For your sons have been taken away captive And your daughters into captivity." - Jeremiah 48:46
He was sometimes depicted as a phallus, a cone, a pillar, or a tree branch. As male, he was the sun god. As female, a moon goddess sometimes associated with Ishtar. As Baal-Peor, he was androgynous. As Chemosh, he would have been worshipped by Solomon.
- "Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable idol of Moab, on the mountain which is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the detestable idol of the sons of Ammon." - 1 Kings 11:7
- "The high places which were before Jerusalem, which were on the right of the mount of destruction which Solomon the king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the abomination of the Sidonians, and for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Milcom the abomination of the sons of Ammon, the king defiled." - 2 Kings 23:13
According to legend, Belphegor was sent from Hell by Lucifer to find out if there really was such a thing on earth as married happiness. Rumor of such had reached the demons but they knew that people were not designed to live in harmony. Belphegor's experiences in the world soon convinced him that the rumor was groundless. The story is found in various works of early modern literature, hence the use of the name to apply to a misanthrope or a licentious person.