Graveyard Shift Did You Know You’re Honoring One Of Hell’s Seven Princes Every Time You Use The Toilet?  

Beth Elias
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As if going to the bathroom weren't stressful enough - pooping at work, anyone? - now you can worry about sacrificing to a demon. Belphegor, one of Hell's Seven Princes, is the demon of sloth... and excrement. Lighting a candle in his name apparently just wasn't enough. 

Belphegor comes from Baal-Peor, seen multiple times in the Old Testament as the god of the Moabites. Hundreds of years later, Baal-Peor was Latinized into Belphegor and reappropriated into a demon to populate the Christian hell. A book on demonology from the early 1800s got the ball rolling, and Belphegor soon developed an entire mythology of his own, only loosely based in Biblical roots. Today, Belphegor is associated with Belphegor's Prime, a prime number with "666" in the center that is supposedly demonic. And, of course, we know him as the demon of feces. 

Belphegor Prefers Offerings Of Feces

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Photo: H - - J/flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Some gods want virgins or lambs or goats, some gods want excrement. Such is the case with Belphegor, whose preferred offering is feces. "Pe'or," as in the Hebrew root of Baal-Peor or Belphegor, is usually translated as "opening." Rashi, a French rabbi who wrote commentary on the Old Testament said: "Peor was so named because before it they bared their anus... and relieved themselves. This was the manner of its worship." Quite the visual image there, Rashi. 

Pretty Much Everything We Know About Belphegor Comes From An 1818 Book

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Photo: J.A.S. Collin de Plancy/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Belphegor wasn't always a meaningful demon, or even in the forefront of anyone's mind, until Jacques August Simon Collin de Plancy wrote Dictionnaire Infernal in 1818. In it, he only briefly mentioned Belphegor (three lines!). However, he revised the text in 1863, and included the woodcut of Belphegor on a toilet as elegantly depicted here. Every reference to Belphegor borrows heavily or blatantly plagiarizes de Plancy, who took what the Bible set about Moab and Baal/Baalphegor and tied it into other mythologies.

Belphegor's Prime Is Associated With A Mysterious Manuscript

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Photo: Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Belphegor's Prime is not only a prime number, but also a palindrome. It begins and ends with 1, and 666 is in the middle: 1000000000000066600000000000001.

The symbol for this demonic number is an upside-down Pi. It's not so much that the prime number itself is mysterious, but its symbol definitely is. It was first seen in the Voynich Manuscript, which is a large book written entirely in a code that appears to be one of a kind and has kept historians and scientists stumped for years. It includes astrology, plants, naked women, and plenty of other weirdness. The 600-year-old tome is understood by absolutely no one - even the most elite Voynich scholars don't even know what language it was written in before it was put into a cipher - and recent attempts to crack the code using artificial intelligence haven't worked.

Of The Seven Deadly Sins, He's Usually Sloth

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Photo: Pieter van der Heyden/Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Though Belphegor has taken many forms throughout history and been associated with many different sins, he is most often seen as the demon of sloth. This could mean that he tempts mankind to be lazy, but one church father, Thomas Aquinas, felt that sloth was the root of other sins as well. Ignorance, in Aquinas's mind, was a result of laziness.