Peor is either

  • The name of a mountain peak (Num. 23:28) to which Balak led Balaam as a last effort to induce him to pronounce a curse upon Israel. The tribes of Israel are described as being visible from the peak, but nevertheless, Balaam refused to curse them, and continued to offer blessings (24:1-9). Peor is similar to the Egyptian Pi-Hor ("House of Horus").
  • A reference to a divinity who was worshipped at that mountain peak, and, biblically, was the subject of the heresy of Peor. The divinity, worshipped by the Moabites, is biblically referred to as Baal-peor (Num. 25:3,5, 18; comp. Deut. 3:29), literally meaning the Baal of Peor (The Lord of the House of Horus). An ancient Aramaic inscription, found at Dier Alla, identifies Balaam as a prophet of Shamash, a semitic sun-god, and consequently, it could well be the case that the unidentified Baal of Peor is Shamash. If Peor's connection to Pi-Hor is factual, then the Baal of Peor may be the Egyptian god Horus.

This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.

In John Milton's "Paradise Lost," Peor is said to be the other name of the fallen angel Chemos, who "entic'd/Israel in Sittim on thir march from Nile/To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe." (Paradise Lost, I.412-14) His deeds are described in the first book of the epic, as Milton describes Satan's followers who were banished from Heaven, and have pledged themselves as followers of the underworld.

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