Who is Moloch in the Bible?

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By BibleAsk Team


Moloch, a name that echoes through the corridors of ancient history, holds a most wicked presence in the Bible. Referred to in various forms across different translations, Moloch is often associated with practices that are both enigmatic and disturbing. To unravel the identity of Moloch, we delve into the pages of the Bible, exploring its references and the historical context that surrounds this enigmatic figure.

The Name

Some scholars have suggested that Molech (molek) represents the Canaanite god Mekal, who was proven by inscriptions in archeology, and that the last two consonants have been reversed. Others, claimed that the name is taken from combining the consonants of the Hebrew melech (“king”) with the vowels of boshet (“shame”). Boshet is often used in the Old Testament as another name for the pagan god Baal (“Lord”).

The Mention of Moloch

The term “Moloch” is mentioned in several passages in the Old Testament, primarily in the context of idolatrous practices. One such reference is found in Leviticus 18:21 (NKJV), where the Lord commands the children of Israel:

“And you shall not let any of your descendants pass through the fire to Moloch, nor shall you profane the name of your God: I am the Lord.”

This prohibition against passing children through the fire to Moloch highlights a grim aspect of the deity’s worship, suggesting a connection to child sacrifice.

The Nature of Pagan Worship

To comprehend the significance of Moloch in biblical history, it is essential to examine the practices associated with its worship. In 1 Kings 11:7 (NKJV), the downfall of King Solomon is recounted, revealing his deviation from the Lord’s command:

“Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, on the hill that is east of Jerusalem, and for Molech the abomination of the people of Ammon.”

This verse underscores Moloch as an abomination, linking the deity with practices that deviate from the pure worship of the true God.

Moloch and Child Sacrifice

The darkest aspect of Moloch worship is the association with child sacrifice. In Jeremiah 32:35 (NKJV), a poignant condemnation is pronounced against such practices:

“And they built the high places of Baal which are in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech, which I did not command them, nor did it come into My mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”

The Valley of the Son of Hinnom, also known as Gehenna, became a notorious site linked to the atrocities of Moloch worship, perpetuating the image of a deity demanding the ultimate sacrifice.

Identifying Moloch with Other Deities

In the exploration of Moloch’s identity, scholars have sought connections with other ancient deities. The name Moloch is sometimes associated with Baal, another pagan god worshipped in the ancient Near East. However, distinctions between the two deities exist, and Moloch is often viewed as a specific manifestation with a focus on child sacrifice.

Theological Implications

The condemnation of Moloch worship underscores the biblical emphasis on exclusive devotion to the one true God. The abhorrence expressed in the Scriptures reflects the gravity of deviating from the divine commandments and engaging in practices contrary to the moral and ethical standards set by God.

Archeological Discoveries

Archaeological excavations since the 1920s have provided proof for child sacrifice for Baal Hammon in Carthage in North Africa. In 1935 O. Eissfeldt published his discoveries concerning a Punic inscription of Carthage of the period from 400-150 B.C. He claimed that the terms “molk of sheep” and “molk of man” were used to designate animal and human sacrifices (Molk als Opferbegriff im Punischen und Hebräischen und das Ende des Gottes Moloch).

Also, G. Dossin found manuscripts in the city of Mari, in Mesopotamia proving that the inhabitants worshiped a god named Muluk, in the Middle-Euphrates area in the 18th century B.C. (Revue d’ Assyriologie, vol. 35, p. 178, [1938], n. 1).

In addition, other Mesopotamian inscriptions revealed that children were offered as sacrifices by fire to another god by the name Adrammelech (2 Kings 17:31). Aarcheologists concluded that there was a relationship between this god and the god Muluk because they both have the same last half of the word.

Lessons for Today

While the ancient practices associated with this pagan god may seem distant, the underlying message remains relevant. The Bible’s denouncement of idolatry, especially practices involving harm to children, serves as a timeless reminder of the importance of faithful adherence to God’s commands.

Conclusion

The figure of Moloch in the Bible emerges as a symbol of deviance, idolatry, and, most disturbingly, child sacrifice. Through a careful examination of the references, we discover a consistent theme of divine prohibition and condemnation surrounding this pagan god worship. The biblical narrative serves as a moral compass, urging adherence to the true God and denouncing practices that undermine the sanctity of life.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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