Who is Moloch?

Moloch is a name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. The Greek form of the name of this god is variously known in the Old Testament as Molech, Milcom, Malcham (Lev. 18:21; 20:2; Jer. 7:31).

Child sacrifice

The abominable pagan rite of child sacrifice was common among the nations of Palestine (Deut. 12:31; 2 Kings 3:27). Children were, “pass(ed) through the fire to Molech” (Leviticus 18:7–21; 2 Chron. 28:3). Rabbinical tradition depicted Moloch as a bronze statue heated with fire into which the victims were thrown.

This detestable ceremony was forbidden by God under the penalty of death. For Moses wrote, “You shall not give any of your children to devote them by fire to Moloch, and so profane the name of your God” (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2).

However, God’s prohibition was not fully obeyed by the Israelites (2 Kings 16:2, 3; 23:10; Jer. 7:31; 32:35; Eze. 23:37; Lev. 20:2–5; 2 Kings 23:10; Jer. 32:35. etc.). Even, some of the kings of Israel, like Ahaz (2 Kings 16:3) and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:6), were affected by the pagan beliefs and committed this crime at Topheth, near Jerusalem.

Consequently, this location prospered under Manasseh’s son King Amon. But it was later cleansed by the righteous King Josiah. For “he defiled Topheth, which is in the valley of the sons of Hinnom, that no one might burn his son or his daughter as an offering to Moloch” (2 Kings 23:10). And this sin continued in the days of Jeremiah (Jer. 7:31).

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”).

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 adddition, 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.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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