The chief deity of the Moabites, who are referred to as “the people of Chemosh.” (Nu 21:29; Jer 48:46) Some scholars identify this deity with the Baal of Peor because of the latter’s association with the Moabites. (Nu 25:1-3) At least in cases of extreme stress, if not generally practiced, children were probably sacrificed to Chemosh.—2Ki 3:26, 27.
The black basalt stele, commonly known as the Moabite Stone, erected by King Mesha of Moab to commemorate his revolt against Israel, provides further insight as to how the Moabites viewed their god Chemosh. According to this monument, Chemosh gave the victories in battle, and warfare was undertaken at his command. King Mesha attributed the deliverance from Israelite oppression to Chemosh, and he reasoned that the actual affliction at the hands of Omri the king of Israel was due to the god’s anger with his land.
Jephthah referred to Chemosh as the god of the Ammonites. (Jg 11:24) Some scholars question the correctness of Jephthah’s statement in view of the fact that Chemosh is elsewhere always associated with the Moabites. However, it must be remembered that the Ammonites worshiped numerous gods. (Jg 10:6) Furthermore, since the Ammonites and the Moabites were neighboring peoples, with a common ancestry through Lot the nephew of Abraham, there is nothing unusual about both nations’ worshiping Chemosh.
The worship of Chemosh was evidently introduced into Israel during the reign of Solomon. Undoubtedly under the influence of his Moabite wives, Solomon built a high place to Chemosh “on the mountain that was in front of Jerusalem.” (1Ki 11:1, 7, 8, 33) During Josiah’s extensive religious reform, over three centuries later, this high place was made unfit for worship.—2Ki 23:13.
The prophet Jeremiah, in foretelling calamity for Moab, indicated that her principal god Chemosh as well as his priests and princes would go into exile. The Moabites would become ashamed of their god because of his impotence, just as the Israelites of the ten-tribe kingdom had become ashamed of Bethel, likely because of its association with calf worship.—Jer 48:7, 13, 46.