From Ancient Times To Medieval Ones: Moloch In Art
Moloch is most frequently referred to in Leviticus:
Scholars have compared these Biblical references to Greek and Latin accounts which spoke of fire-centric child sacrifices in the Carthaginian city of Punic. Plutarch, for instance, wrote of burning children as an offering Baal Hammon, though they mistakenly attribute these sacrifices to the Roman gods Chronos and Saturn.
Wikimedia CommonsGreek and Latin sources from Cleitarchus and Diodorus Siculus to Plutarch all mentioned the burning of children as an offering to Cronus or Saturn or Baal Hammon, the chief god of Carthage. Seen here is Saturn devouring one of his sons.
Why Does Paul Warn Against Idolatry
Just like John and every other apostle, prophet, and saint, Paul understood the spiritual realities behind idols that these are demons, working toward the destruction of man by removing him from the worship of the one true God and engaging him in the worship of all that is evil and opposes the Almighty .
Gilbert, Derek, Last Clash of the Titans, Defender Publishing, 2018
All Patristic quotes from A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs, edited by David Bercot, Hendrickson Publishing, 2009
For further reading:
Cultic Worship Sites Discoveredin Eilat Mountains Of Southern Israel
“The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot.” KJV, Jeremiah 3:6
“When Josiah was king of Judah, the LORD said to me, “Jeremiah, you have no doubt seen what wayward Israel has done. You have seen how she went up to every high hill and under every green tree to give herself like a prostitute to other gods.” NET Bible, Jeremiah 3:6
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Who Is Molech In The Bible
According to the Bible, Molech is the name of a Canaanite god associated with child sacrifice. It is also called God of the Ammonites. Perhaps it was called Malkam, Milkom, and Molech. Molech may have been a title rather than the name of a deity. The Mosaic Law clearly stated that anyone who sacrificed his children to Molech would be put to death.Lev 20:2 Jer 32:35 Ac 7:43.
Molech Name Derived From
Some scholars have suggested that Molech represents the Canaanite God Mekal, proved by inscriptions in archaeology and that the last two letters are reversed. Others claimed that the name is derived from the combination of the letters of the Hebrew Melek with the vowels of Bosheth . Bosheth is often used in the Old Testament as another name for the pagan God Baal .
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The Complete Explanation Of Molech According To The Bible
As with much of ancient history, the precise origins of Molech worship remain unclear. The word Molech is believed to have originated from the Phoenicians or the Phoenician-based Malak, which refers to a type of sacrifice used to confirm the fulfillment or omission of an oath. Molech is the Hebrew word for king. It was common for the Israelites to add the names of pagan gods to the vowels of the Hebrew word Sharm: Bosheth. In this way, Astarte, the goddess of fertility and war, became Ashtoreth. Molech consequently comes from a combination of the words Malak, Melekh, and Vosheth, which can be interpreted as a ruler with a personality who has received a shameful sacrifice. It is also written as milkom, milkam, malik, and Molech. Ashtoreth is her companion, and ritual prostitution was considered an important form of worship.
The worship of Molech was not limited to Canaan alone. Monoliths found in North Africa are filled with engraved images of pillars of stone Malakoften written as Malakmar and Malakdum. meaning the sacrifice of sheep and sacrifice of man. In North Africa, Molech is known as Kronos. Kronos moved to Carthage, Greece, and in mythology, his development was a titan and his father. In the form of Zeus, Molech is related to Baal and is sometimes equivalent to him, although the word Baal was also used to designate any god or ruler.
Praise For The Print Edition
This is a remarkably comprehensive . . . thesis. . . . The main subject, the enigmatic Molek cult in the Old Testament, is thoroughly explored on the basis of earlier major contributions, particularly the important work of O. Eissfeldt, Molk als Opferbegriff . . . und das Ende des Gottes Moloch . Much new light is thrown upon the subject through the consideration of the ancient Near Eastern comparative material, especially from Ebla, Mari, and Ugarit.
Journal of Semitic Studies
- Title: Cult of Molek: A Reassessment
- Pages: 446
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The Description Of The Statue Of Moloch By Gustave Flaubert
In the Salammbo by Gustave Flauberta historical novel about Carthage from the mid-19th century, Moloch is referred to as a god of the Carthaginians who accepted the offerings of children as worship.
Flaubert describes a statue of Moloch as being made of iron and that he possessed a pair of outspread swings. His arms were so long that they reached the ground and he had three eyes positioned on his brow. He also maintained the traditional bulls head as frequently seen in medieval art and his head was raised as if he meant to go about barking terrible orders.
He also explains later in the novel that another statue was brought into the city centre of Carthage and that it was used to calm down a storm that had brought pouring rain. Sacrifices were made before the statue first grain and animals were placed inside the statue but when that did not silence the rain, children were offered next.
The victims, when scarcely at the edge of the opening, disappeared like a drop of water on a red-hot plate, and white smoke rose amid the great scarlet colour. Nevertheless, the appetite of the god was not appeased. He ever wished for more.
But Molochs appearance in John Miltons Paradise Lost and Gustave Flauberts Salammbo are perhaps more fanciful takes on a being who is mentioned only a handful of times in the Bibleprimarily in the book of Leviticuswhere he is associated with child sacrifice.
Moloch In Literature And Popular Culture
The Canaanite godMoloch was the recipient of child sacrifice according to the account of the Hebrew Bible, as well as Greco-Roman historiography on the god of Carthage. Moloch is depicted in John Milton‘s epic poemParadise Lost as one of the greatest warriors of the rebel angels, vengeful and militant.
In the 19th century, “Moloch” came to be used allegorically for any idol or cause requiring excessive sacrifice.Bertrand Russell in 1903 used Moloch to describe oppressive religion, and Winston Churchill in his 1948 history The Gathering Storm used “Moloch” as a metaphor for Adolf Hitler‘s cult of personality.
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Moloch In The Book Of Leviticus
It is in Leviticus that we see the most frequent use of Moloch and the most frequent condemnation of him where he is yet again associated with child sacrifice. We are told in chapter 18 of Leviticus
You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lord. Leviticus 18:21
Here, readers are cautioned against giving their children to Molech and that to do so would sully their relationship with God and serve as a great disrespect to him.
Whilst still in Leviticus, we see God explaining to Moses what will happen to any man who sacrifices his child to Molech and that the man in question will surely be put to deathvia stoning. God declares that he will cut the man off from his people himselfthus showing us the magnitude of this transgression, that God himself will personally see to the mans punishment.
He also explains that if this man is not stoned and if he is allowed to walk free, then God will take vengeance upon his entire family and reckon upon those that absolved him of his sins. We are told,
Going by what the bible tells us, Moloch can certainly be viewed as a pagan deity, a deity who demanded his followers to sacrifice their children to him. But according to medieval rabbinical traditions, Moloch could also have been connected to an ancient Phoenician and Carthaginian deitya view which later evolved into viewing Molek as the ancient Semitic and or Mesopotamian gods Adrammelek and Anamelech.
Pretenders To The Throne
The Bible wouldn’t be the Bible without some punny subtext. And Molek is no exception. The Hebrew root m-l-k means king, and some commentators think that the Israelites may be confusing Molek the king with God, their spiritual king. So hating on Molek might be a warning against trying to set up a new Israelite kingship or a coded message not to give the rising generation over to Persian control. Either way, pretty sneaky.
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Medieval And Modern Artistic Depictions
Medieval and modern sources tend to portray Moloch as a bull-headed humanoid idol with arms outstretched over a fire, onto which the sacrificial child is placed. This portrayal can be traced back to medieval Jewish commentaries, which connected the biblical Moloch with depictions of Carthaginian sacrifice to Cronus found in sources such as Diodorus, with George Foote Moore suggesting that the bull’s head may derive from the mythological Minotaur. John S. Rundin suggests that further sources for the image are the legend of Talos and the brazen bull built for king Phalaris of the Greek city of Acragas on Sicily. He notes that both legends, as well as that of the Minotaur, have potential associations with Semitic child sacrifice.
Scripture Deals With Shrine Prostitutionunder The Rubric Of Worshiping The False Gods Of Canaan
The NET Bible, not considered gay friendly by anyone, takes a strong anti-gay position on Leviticus. This reflects the strong anti-gay beliefs of Dallas Theological Seminary .
Yet in spite of being so anti-gay, the NET Bible links the Mo-lech worship of Leviticus 18:21 and 20:2-5, 13, with sexual sin and with spiritual prostitution, “I will cut off from the midst of their people both him and all who follow after him in spiritual prostitution, to commit prostitution by worshiping Molech .” Leviticus 20:5.
The adjective spiritual was inserted by the translators because in their opinion this is not a reference to literal prostitution but figuratively compares idolatry to prostitution. Regardless their opinion, notice that even anti-gay Christians admit Leviticus 18:22, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” and 20:13, are in the context of harlotry or prostitution and Molech worship.
The NET Bible on Leviticus 18:21, Note 30, says: “…It could refer to either human sacrifice or a devotion of children to some sort of service of Molech, perhaps of a sexual sort . The inclusion of this prohibition against Molech worship here may be due to some sexual connection of this kind, or perhaps simply to the lexical link between meaning seed, semen in v. 20 but offspring in v. 21.”
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Molech Was The Ancient Ammonite Fire God
As early as 1450 BC, as they wandered in the wilderness, Israel was worshiping Moloch, even before they entered the land of Canaan. For that reason, God and Moses prohibited Israel from worshiping Moloch in Leviticus 18:21 and 20:2, 3, 4, 5.
“Have ye offered unto me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, O house of Israel? But ye have borne the tabernacle of your Moloch and Chiun your images, the star of your god, which ye made to yourselves.” – Amos 5:25-26 and Acts 7:42-43
In their forty years of wilderness wandering and backsliding, wicked stony-hearted rebellious Israel chose the wrong god and the wrong tabernacle. They preferred to worship goat idols and demons instead of the one true God. God’s warning against worshiping Molech the Canaanite fire god, is given in a religious context. Believing Jews and non-Jews living in the land of Israel were also prohibited from pagan sexual worship of the Canaanite fertility goddess because God viewed such pagan worship as abomination.
God intended to prevent His people from practicing the shrine prostitution of the Canaanites, which He warned against in Leviticus 18:3 and 20:23. The word translated Mo-lech or Moloch , occurs multiple times in the Bible, in Leviticus 18:21, 20:2, 3, 4, 5, 1 Kings 11:7, 2 Kings 23:10, Jeremiah 32:35, Amos 5:25-26, Acts 7:42-43.
Depictions In Modern Culture
The ancient practice of child sacrifice found renewed footing with medieval and modern interpretations that influence our culture to this day.
First MOLOCH, horrid King besmeard with bloodOf human sacrifice, and parents tears,Though, for the noyse of Drums and Timbrels loud,Their childrens cries unheard that passed through fire. John Milton, Paradise Lost
English poet John Miltons 1667 masterpiece, Paradise Lost, describes Moloch as one of Satans chief warriors and one of the greatest fallen angels the Devil has on his side. He is given a speech at Hells parliament where he advocates for immediate war against God and is then revered on Earth as a pagan god, much to Gods chagrin.
Gustave Flauberts 1862 novel about Carthage, Salammbô depicted the purportedly historical process of Carthaginian child sacrifice in poetic detail:
The victims, when scarcely at the edge of the opening, disappeared like a drop of water on a red-hot plate, and white smoke rose amid the great scarlet colour. Nevertheless, the appetite of the god was not appeased. He ever wished for more. In order to furnish him with a larger supply, the victims were piled up on his hands with a big chain above them which kept them in their place.
Wikimedia CommonsThe statue at the Roman Colosseum was modeled after the one Givoanni Pastrone used in his film Cabiria, which was based on Gustave Flauberts Salammbô.
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Who Is Moloch In The Bible
Moloch , was the name of an Ammonite god to whom human sacrifices were made. The Ammonites occupied the southern part of modern Jordan and were descended from Lot, who appears in the Old Testament as the nephew of the patriarch ABRAHAM. In the Second Book of Kings, Moloch is described as the abomination of the children of Ammon.
Many Israelites are believed to have consecrated their children to Moloch by throwing them into the flames. It is sometimes argued that, rather than being the name of a god, Moloch refers simply to the sacrificial ritual. The children were burnt in a place called Tophet, in the valley of Hinnom, which had been built for the explicit purpose of sacrificial rituals.
The king was sometimes regarded as the son of Moloch, and the phrase to the Molech may have meant for the sake or life of the king and referred to the sacrifice of a child conceived at a sacred marriage rite. Another research suggests that Moloch may have been the god Baal-Hammon who was worshipped at Tyre and Carthage.
Moloch As A Form Of Sacrifice
In 1935, Otto Eissfeldt proposed, on the basis of Punic inscriptions, that Moloch was a form of sacrifice rather than a deity. Punic inscriptions commonly associate the word mlk with three other words: mr , bl and dm . bl and dm never occur in the same description and appear to be interchangeable. Other words that sometimes occur are br . When put together with mlk, these words indicate a “mlk-sacrifice consisting of…”. The Biblical term lammolekh would thus be translated not as “to Moloch”, as normally translated, but as “as a molk-sacrifice”, a meaning consistent with uses of the Hebrew preposition la elsewhere. Bennie Reynolds further argues that Jeremiah’s use of Moloch in conjunction with Baal in Jer 32:25 is parallel to his use of “burnt offering” and Baal in Jeremiah 19:45.
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Agnostic Commentary On The Bible Chapter By Chapter From Genesis To Revelation
Punishments for Sin The Lord is still talking to Moses, who is talking to the Israelites. If you live in Israel and you’re an Israelite, don’t sacrifice your children to Molek, whoever the hell that is. If you do, you’ll be put to death by stoning. Well, you should be put to death if you Continue reading Leviticus: Chapter 20
Unlawful Sexual Relations This should be good… You can’t approach any close relative to have sex with them. Well this rule has already been broken, re: Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve? Don’t have sex with your mom. Good to know.Don’t have sexual relations with your fathers wife either. Apparently Mom and your dad’s wife Continue reading Leviticus: Chapter 18
Names Of Molech Or Moloch
Anyone who reads history knows that various writers in various countries spell names differently. These names all refer to the same false god.
Melech, Mo-lech, Milcom, Melkom, Moloch, Molek, Malec, Malik, Melek, Malkum, Melqart, Melkart, Milk, Melqarth, Kronos, Cronus. In Islam, Mo-lech is called Malec or Malik , believed to be the principle angel in charge of Djahannam, the Islamic version of hell.
That Molech worship was already common among the Canaanites when Israel entered the land is evident from the fact that, before Israel entered the land, God warned them against Molech worship as an abomination the Israelites were forbidden to practice, Leviticus 18:21, 20:2, 3, 4, 5. Fire gods like Moloch and his fertility goddess consort, Ashtoreth, were not religious fantasies. They exercised a very real power over the primitive Canaanites. And their pagan worship snared some of the children of Israel.
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