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Reference: Moloch


king, the name of the national god of the Ammonites, to whom children were sacrificed by fire. He was the consuming and destroying and also at the same time the purifying fire. In Am 5:26, "your Moloch" of the Authorized Version is "your king" in the Revised Version (comp. Ac 7:43). Solomon (1Ki 11:7) erected a high place for this idol on the Mount of Olives, and from that time till the days of Josiah his worship continued (2Ki 23:10,13). In the days of Jehoahaz it was partially restored, but after the Captivity wholly disappeared. He is also called Molech (Le 18:21; 20:2-5, etc.), Milcom (1Ki 11:5,33, etc.), and Malcham (Zep 1:5). This god became Chemosh among the Moabites.

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(Jer 49:1 MOLOCH or melech, "king" of the people. Malcham, Am 5:26, Milcom, 1Ki 11:5,7, though originally the same as Moloch, assumed a modified character in time.) (See MALCHAM; MILCOM.) Ammon's god, related to Moab's god Chemosh. The "fire god", worshipped with human sacrifices, purifications, and ordeals by fire, habitually, as other idols were occasionally; also with mutilation, vows of celibacy and virginity, and devotion of the firstborn. The old Canaanite "Moloch" is always written with the article the Moloch; to him children were sacrificed in Topher in the valley of the children of Hinnom. But Milcom's high place was on the Mount of Olives, and human sacrifices were not offered as they were to Moloch (2Ki 23:10,13.) Josiah defiled the sanctuaries of both. Milcom was related to Chemosh, which is called the god of Ammon in Jg 11:24, though elsewhere the god of Moab (Nu 21:29).

Tophet appears again in Zedekiah's reign as the scene of child immolation to Moloch (Jer 32:35.) God sternly forbade any letting their seed pass through the fire to Moloch (Le 18:21; 20:2-5) on pain of death, which the people should execute; otherwise God Himself would. The passing through the fire may have been sometimes only a fire baptism for purification of the dross of the body; but Ps 106:37-38, shows that often expiatory human sacrifice was perpetrated, "they sacrificed their sons and daughters to "devils" (shedim, "destroyers", as Moloch was), and shed innocent blood ... unto the idols of Canaan" (compare 2Ch 28:3; Jer 19:5). In this respect Moloch answered to Baal the Phoenician sun god, to whom also human burnt offerings were sacrificed; also to Chemosh, to whom Mesha sacrificed his son (2Ki 3:27; Mic 6:7; Eze 16:20; 23:39). Kimchi (on 2Ki 23:10) represents Moloch as a hollow brass humanlike body, with ox's head, and hands stretched forth to receive.

When it was thoroughly heated the priests put the babe into its hands, while "drums" (tophim from whence came Tophet) were beat to drown the infant cries, lest the parent should relent. The image was set within seven chapels: the first was opened to any one offering fine flour; the second to one offering turtle doves or young pigeons; the third to one offering a lamb; the fourth to one offering a ram; the fifth to one offering a calf; the sixth to one offering an ox; the seventh to one offering his son. Compare Am 5:26 margin, sikut of Moloch, "the covert god." Ac 7:43, "the tabernacle of Moloch" (like the sacred tent of the Carthaginians: Diodorus 20:65), the shrine in which the image was concealed; containing also possibly the bones of sacrificed children used for magic. The portable model "tabernacle" (compare Demetrius' silver shrines of Diana, Ac 19:24) was small enough to escape Moses' notice. Amos calls Moloch "your Moloch" I am not your king but he, though ye go through the form of presenting Me offerings.

God similarly complains of their mocking Him with worship, while worshipping idols, Eze 20:49. Moses was aware of their clandestine unfaithfulness in general, while not knowing the particulars (De 31:21-27). The Latin Saturn corresponds; to the Phoenician Saturn relatives were offered in an emergency (Sanchoniathon). So the Carthaginians, when besieged by Agathoeles, sacrificed to him 200 noble children (Diod. Siculus, 20:14) by placing them one by one in his hands in such a manner that each fell into a pit of fire. Moloch's priests took precedence of the princes, "Chemarim" (Jer 49:3; 2Ki 23:5; Ho 10:5; Zep 1:4).(See CHEMARIM.) Hercules' priest, like Moloch himself, was called Melchart, "king of the city." Adrammelech, the Sepharvaite fire god, is related to Moloch. In 2Sa 12:31 for the Hebrew margin reading malbeen, "brick-kiln," the Hebrew text has Malkeen, "David led through Malkan," i.e. through the place where the Ammonites had burned their children to Moloch. He made their sin their mode of punishment; as they had done to the children, so he did to them.

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The same as Molech. MOLECH

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MOLOCH, ????, signifies king. Moloch, Molech, Milcom, or Melchom, was a god of the Ammonites. The word Moloch signifies "king," and Melchom signifies "their king." Moses in several places forbids the Israelites, under the penalty of death, to dedicate their children to Moloch, by making them pass through the fire in honour of that god, Le 18:21; 20:2-5. God himself threatens to pour out his wrath against such offenders. There is great probability that the Hebrews were addicted to the worship of this deity, even before their coming out of Egypt; since the Prophet Am 5:26, and after him St. Stephen, reproach them with having carried in the wilderness the tabernacle of their god Moloch, Ac 7:43. Solomon built a temple to Moloch upon the Mount of Olives, 1Ki 11:7; and Manasseh a long time after imitated his impiety, making his son pass through the fire in honour of Moloch, 2Ki 21:3-6. It was chiefly in the valley of Tophet and Hinnom, east of Jerusalem, that this idolatrous worship was paid, Jer 19:5-6, &c. Some are of opinion that they contented themselves with making their children leap over a fire sacred to Moloch, by which they consecrated them to some false deity: and by this lustration purified them; this being a usual ceremony among the Heathens on other occasions. Some believe that they made them pass through two fires opposite to each other, for the same purpose. But the word ?????, "to cause to pass through," and the, phrase "to cause to pass through the fire," are used in respect to human sacrifices in De 12:31; 18:10; 2Ki 16:3; 21:6; 2Ch 28:3; 33:6. These words are not to be considered as meaning in these instances literally to pass through, and that alone. They are rather synonymous with ????, to burn, and ???, to immolate, with which they are interchanged, as may be seen by an examination of Jer 7:31; 19:5; Eze 16:20-21; Ps 106:38. In the later periods of the Jewish kingdom, this idol was erected in the valley south of Jerusalem, namely, in the valley of Hinnom, and in the part of that valley called Tophet, ???, so named from the drums ???? ???, which were beaten to prevent the groans and cries of children sacrificed from being heard, Jer 7:31-32; 19:6-14; Isa 30:33; 2Ki 23:10. The place was so abhorrent to the minds of the more recent Jews, that they applied the name ge hinnom or gehenna to the place of torments in a future life. The word gehenna is used in this way, namely, for the place of punishment beyond the grave, very frequently in oriental writers, as far as India. There are various sentiments about the relation that Moloch had to the other Pagan divinities. Some believe that Moloch was the same as Saturn, to whom it is well known that human sacrifices were offered; others think it was the same with Mercury; others, Venus; others, Mars, or Mithra. Calmet has endeavoured to prove that Moloch signified the sun, or the king of heaven.

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