A spot in the valley of the son of Hinnom; S.E. and S.S.E. of Jerusalem; "by the entry of the E. gate" (Jer 19:2). (See HINNOM.) Infamous by the immolation in it of children to Moloch (2Ki 23:10; Isa 30:33; Jer 7:31-32; 19:2,6,11). (See HELL.) From toph, the "drums" beaten to drown the shrieks of the children made to pass through the fire to Moloch; rather tophet means tabret, so "tabret grove," i.e. music grove, as Chinneroth is "the harp sea"; or tuph "to spit," less probably; or from a root "burning" (Persian, Gesenins); or "filth" (Roediger). One of the chief groves in Hinnom; forming part of the king's gardens, and watered by Siloam; Hinnom is placed by old writers E. of Jerusalem, answering to the month of the Tyropoeon, along the southern banks of the Kedron (Jerome De Loc. Hebrew).
Topheth was next defiled by idols, Baal and Moloch, with their inhuman sacrifices. Josiah threw down its altars and heaped here the filth of the city, so that, with its carcasses preyed on by worms and its perpetual fires for consuming refuse, it became a type of hell (Isa 66:24). In Kings and Jeremiah the article precedes, "the Topheth" In Isa 30:33 it is Tophteh, "tabret grove," as tupim in Isa 30:32 is "tabrets." Jeremiah (Jer 7:32; 19:6) makes it prophetically "the valley of slaughter," i.e. the scene, no longer of slaughter of innocents (Jer 19:4), but of the Jewish men who so richly deserved their fate. In Isa 30:33 Topheth symbolizes the funeral pyre of Sennacherib's army, not that it actually perished there, but the Assyrian forerunner of antichrist is to be burnt in ignominy whereas the Hebrew buried their dead. Satan is the king finally doomed to the fire with the lost (Mt 5:22; 25:41; Mr 9:43-44).
A term of uncertain etymology, designating some locality in one of the valleys near Jerusalem, very possibly in the Valley of Hinnom (2Ki 23:10), or near the point of juncture of the three valleys of Jerusalem. It was there that the Jews under Ahab and Manasseh performed the rites of human sacrifice (Jer 7:31-32), offering children to Baal, Molech, and other heathen gods. It was defiled by Josiah as a part of his religious reformation, and so came to be an abominable place where the refuse was destroyed, and thus a synonym of Gehenna (wh. see).
and once To'phet (place of burning), was in the southeast extremity of the "valley of the son of Hinnom,"
which is "by the entry of the east gate."
The locality of Hinnom is to have been elsewhere. [HINNOM] It seems also to have been part of the king's gardens, and watered by Siloam, perhaps a little to the south of the present Birket el-Hamra. The name Tophet occurs only in the Old Testament.
The New does not refer to it, nor the Apocrypha. Tophet has been variously translated. The most natural meaning seems that suggested by the occurrence of the word in two consecutive verses, in one of which it is a tabret and in the other Tophet.
The Hebrew words are nearly identical; and Tophet war probably the king's "music-grove" or garden, denoting originally nothing evil or hateful. Certainly there is no proof that it took its name from the beaten to drown the cries of the burning victims that passed through the fire to Molech. Afterward it was defiled by idols and polluted by the sacrifices of Baal and the fires of Molech. Then it became the place of abomination, the very gate or pit of hell. The pious kings defiled it and threw down its altars and high places, pouring into it all the filth of the city, till it became the "abhorrence" of Jerusalem.