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Baal-peor (bāˈəl-pēˈôr) [key], in the Bible, local divinity (the Baal) of Peor. According to the Book of Numbers, the Hebrews stayed at Shittim during the wilderness wanderings. While there, Hebrew men had sexual relationships with the local Moabite women. This led to worship of Baal, provoking an immediate outbreak of divine anger. Peor was also known as Beth-peor. Under the form Belphegor, the name became that of a devil in the Middle Ages, said to appear in the shape of a young woman; Machiavelli used it in his Belfagor.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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