Was Moloch the demon god of power and pleasure?


#1

It seems to me that this Moloch is the demon god of power and pleasure. So, for me it is both a question and a conclusion. I truly do not know and I couldn’t come to any clear decision based on the Bible Hub article.

Moloch
-children two years old (or younger?) were sacrificed to it.
-they fashioned it either from bronze or clay. a hollow statue with a raging fire in it.
-the children were either put on the arms alive or already dead as a sacrifice as a holocaust
–the children either rolled down the arms into the raging fire or were place into the statue.

-therefore, i surmise that this child sacrifice was both a form of contraception or abortion
-sterile sex for pleasures sake and not with the openness to life. children get in the way of sex and acts of power

I suppose the modern translation of Moloch into American English is “The Pill”, “Free Choice” and “Sell Baby Parts”.

  • -All are the dead fruit of contraception and therefore rebellion against God’s holy will.

#2

Not quite. Moloch, Ba’al, and Ashtoreth (in the female form) were all the same god worshiped in different regions of the Syria-Phoenician (e.g., Canaanite) culture, which ranged along the Mediterranean from modern Syria to modern Libya, They were all storm gods, being gods associated with rain, and therefore also with both agriculture and fertility. Rain was supposed to be Moloch’s ejaculate, showing he was happy with his sacrifices.

The sacrifices were supposed to be the first-born male child. We can see where this was a demonic effort to short-circuit G_D’s redemptive plan, since then it’s possible that Jesus would have been sacrificed.


#3

Interesting analogy, but I don’t think a primitive people would want to get rid of children - so many died in infancy that having many children was valued in ancient cultures. The more you had, the more survived to contribute to the household and support the family.

The value of children was the reason for the sacrifices. Giving up something valuable waa more pleasing to the god than giving up what you wanted to get rid of anyway.


#4

To be blunt, this is pretty much just (pardon the term) simple speculation/imagination. The only OT references to Moloch/Molech speak of people sacrificing their children to Moloch (Leviticus 18:21; 20:2-5) or making them “pass through the fire to/for Molech” (2 Kings 23:10; Jeremiah 32:35). We are not told just how exactly this ‘sacrifice’ or ‘passing through the fire’ was done.

In fact, we don’t even know exactly which god ‘Moloch’/‘Molech’ (mlk) is supposed to be, because the name is really just the word for ‘king’ (m-l-k - melek). (It’s like the term Ba’al, which simply means ‘master’/‘lord’.) That’s why scholars themselves propose a range of candidates: Ba’al (likely the storm deity Hadad), the Ammonite national deity Milcom (who has a rather similar name), the Babylonian god of the sun and/or the underworld Nergal (because there was this obscure god called Malik - same consonants as ‘Moloch’ - who is often equated with Nergal, and in Isaiah 57:9, Moloch seems to be associated with Sheol, the underworld). It’s rather complicated because you do see the name mlk pop up in various texts throughout the Ancient Near East, but it’s rather difficult to say that all these instances refer to the same god - because frankly, just about every other god is eligible for the title of ‘king’. :wink:

This thing about the statue Moloch/Molech being supposedly this bronze idol/furnace is actually taken from descriptions from Greek and Latin sources speaking of the offering of children by fire as sacrifices to the god Ba’al Hammon (which was identified with the Greco-Roman Kronos/Saturn) in the city of Carthage. Assuming that these accounts were not exaggerating/inventing this description, it’s still not a guarantee that this was also how children were sacrificed to Moloch/Molech in Judah. The only thing we can be sure about is that there was fire involved. (In fact, a few scholars even wondered whether “passing (children) through the fire for Molech” really refers to the ritual slaughter of children. They wonder what if this term simply meant that the children were ritually dedicated to the god in a ceremony involving fire - without killing them of course?)


#5

Exactly. You don’t offer a god a reject; you offer a god the very best you’ve got: the first fruits of the harvest and the firstborn of animals. One reason why you had human sacrifice in many ancient cultures is precisely because humans are thought to be the highest in the chain of living beings, and hence, the best form of sacrifice you could offer to the gods. (You can notice this mentality in the OT when God says that all the firstborn - the cream of the crop, you might say - are His and demands them to be given to Him; He however somewhat circumvents the need for the actual killing of babies when He allows the Israelites to sacrifice an animal instead of taking a human life while the baby is ‘ransomed’ by its parents from God.)

Even then, actual human sacrifice (for the Semitic peoples at least) was rare - it was apparently mostly just done during emergency situations like war or famine, when one really had to make the gods listen by not cutting any corners and giving them the best kind of sacrifice humans could give. The prospect of sacrificing people (babies especially) might seem abhorrent to us now, but you have to remember that in the ancient world, the community was valued above the individual. The clan was everything, and the individual was nothing. If some lives had to be sacrificed for the perceived benefit of the community as a whole, then those people had to go.

You might notice this ancient mentality in 2 Kings 3, where Mesha the king of Moab offers up his own firstborn - the heir to the throne - as a sacrifice in exchange for victory in battle against the Israelites. Apparently Mesha was so desperate for Chemosh’s (the Moabite god) favor that he performed this emergency measure. (I highly doubt Mesha would have considered killing off his own son and heir in any other situation. :shrug:) And apparently, the Moabite might say that it worked.

When all the Moabites heard that the kings had come up to fight against them, all who were able to put on armor, from the youngest to the oldest, were called out and were drawn up at the border. And when they rose early in the morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood. And they said, “This is blood; the kings have surely fought together and struck one another down. Now then, Moab, to the spoil!” But when they came to the camp of Israel, the Israelites rose and struck the Moabites, till they fled before them. And they went forward, striking the Moabites as they went. And they overthrew the cities, and on every good piece of land every man threw a stone until it was covered. They stopped every spring of water and felled all the good trees, till only its stones were left in Kir-hareseth, and the slingers surrounded and attacked it.

When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not. Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

You might say that from the Moabite perspective, Mesha’s sacrifice was effective because he offered a human life (his own firstborn): it helped turn the tide of the battle. The wrath of Chemosh came upon the Israelites.

Now I know some folks today do try to link the sacrifice of children to Moloch/Molech with modern-day abortions and other mistreatment of babies and children, but at best it’s really a selective parallel. I highly doubt those people who sacrificed to Moloch were offering him ‘unwanted’ kids, again for the reasons mentioned above. In their view, they would have been offering the god the best offering they could ever give.

From a historical perspective, I don’t think so, unless you think that God planned to send Jesus earlier in Jewish/Israelite history. (That, or the devil was just really dumb to target the wrong time period.) The Jews had generally gotten over polytheism by the time Jesus was born: they learned their lesson, you might say.


#6

I didn’t make it past the 20-minute edit limit, but I have to add:

In Semitic cultures, human/child sacrifice apparently occurred precisely because human life was deemed precious (hence, the highest and most effective form of sacrifice one could offer to the gods) and was performed - especially in times of dire crisis, when one really needed the gods’ help - for the benefit of the family or the community as a whole: one dies that the others might live. Modern-day abortion, however, is pretty much the opposite. IMHO it’s the product of modern society holding human life cheap and Western individualism taken to the extreme (‘It’s all about me, this is my body, I can do whatever what I want’).


#7

I am impressed with the quality of the replies to my assertion/question. I am no rethinking my original position.

Thanks to all of you who took the time out of your day to produce quality responses to my question. I am quite pleased with this thread.

I am now thinking of simply saying that we as a society (USA) and as a culture (Western Culture) have our demon gods that we worship: Power and Pleasure. Abortion is simply our highest ritual and contraception is our corrupt prayer.

Jesus the Way the Truth and the Life have mercy on us.

I will add these responses to my book by Fr. Enteneuer, “Demonic Abortion”.

atassina


#8

True we don’t have any information from Scripture on how these sacrifices were done. Neither do we have any information from Scripture how crucifixion was done. In both cases we have had to go on extra-Scriptural sources. We have descriptions both in Greek, and about a hundred years later in Latin. Both documents are pre-Christian, so we don’t have that accusation to deal with. The Roman writing the Latin document was so horrified at what he saw that one of the first things the Romans did after conquering the region was to ban these sacrifices.

(They also suppressed Canaanite culture in other ways, leading the Canaanites to intermarry with other, newer ethnic groups, so that by the time the Roman Empire collapsed the Canaanite people (the only ones who might have a legitimate historical claim on the land) had ceased to exist as a separate, unique ethnological group. They are not missed, except by grad students looking for subjects for their doctoral thesis.)


#9

Chalk it up to the Evil One being uninformed. He can know only what G_D permits him to know. He would not know when the Messiah would be born, only what the Prophets had written about Him. The Evil One did not wait until the last minute to try to thwart the plans of G_D, but clearly worked from the beginning to poison the well, so to speak.


#10

One can say that those offering their wanted children to a pagan god for the salvation of the nation were more noble than those who now murder unwanted children for convenience.

-Tim-


#11

I referred to that in my last post. Those descriptions are actually about how the Carthaginians supposedly performed sacrifices to the city god Ba’al Hamon (which the Greco-Roman writers identified with Kronos/Saturn). The earliest description - which all the later writers apparently cribbed as their source - was from the Greek author Cleitarchus.

There stands in their midst a bronze statue of Kronos, its hands extended over a bronze brazier, the flames of which engulf the child. When the flames fall upon the body, the limbs contract and the open mouth seems almost to be laughing until the contracted body slips quietly into the brazier. Thus it is that the ‘grin’ is known as ‘sardonic laughter,’ since they die laughing.

  • Kleitarchos, Scholia to Plato’s Republic (ca. 310-300 BC), I, 337A

It’s true that Carthage was a Phoenician city, but doesn’t necessarily mean that the supposed Carthaginian method of child sacrifice in the 4th century BC - with the bronze idol and all - was also exactly how child sacrifices were performed in 7th century BC Judah.


#12

I’d just like to talk a bit about child sacrifice offered to Yhwh.

Interestingly enough, child sacrifice is not as expressly condemned in the OT (especially in the earlier books) as we might imagine it, certainly not so much on the grounds we would condemn it today in our modern culture (from a human rights / ethical / moral POV).

Yhwh agrees with the rationale behind child sacrifice: that all the firstborn and the first fruits - the cream of the crop - belong to the gods and must be offered up.

“You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.”

He, however, allows the Israelites to (humanely) preserve the lives of their firstborn by declaring that they could sacrifice to Him an animal in place of the human firstborn, who would then be symbolically ‘bought back’ by its parents. The logic behind child sacrifice is still upheld (it is not repudiated); God only allows the Israelites to give Him a lesser substitute. (Some commentators even wonder: is the practice of circumcising male babies - which for the record was not unique to the Israelites - also meant to be an alternative for child sacrifice? After all, blood-shedding is involved as in a regular sacrifice, but without taking the life of the baby.)

You might say that there could also be a utilitarian purpose for the redemption of the firstborn; at least in this stage of history the reason for God’s instituting this system does not necessarily have to have a moralistic rationale for the Israelites (as we might think today).

“All that open the womb are mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem. And none shall appear before me empty-handed.”

Note God’s command here in Exodus. He allows a lamb to be substituted for the firstborn of a donkey, which is the more useful animal in an agrarian society than a lamb; human firstborns are spared because human resources are more valuable than any animal. (That’s why even in many cultures that perform human sacrifices, these forms of sacrifice were apparently not done very often. Human sacrifice literally is a ‘sacrifice’ in the various senses of the word.) In other words, there seems to be this sort of utilitarian motive: Israelite society would not function properly if the people were to start sacrificing all of their firstborns to Yhwh. (Maybe that’s also why God targeted the Egyptian firstborn?)

IMO God was speaking the language of that culture: society is valued above the individual. Firstborns are spared not so much because of individual rights (yet), but because society could collapse if there was not enough manpower to sustain it. But even then, apparently some (many?) Israelites ignored this provision by God or considered it an exception from the rule, or else the Israelite child sacrifice we later hear about could not have any claimed any legal basis. These Israelites took the “You must give your sons to me” part literally - pretty much just like the other peoples around them.


#13

(Continued)

We’re all familiar with the story of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac under God’s command, what is called in Hebrew the Aqedah (the ‘Binding’ of Isaac). We nowadays often read it as a sort of etiological repudiation of human sacrifice (hey, after all, Abraham sacrificed a substitute animal!); we often (anachronistically) inject our modern preconceptions of human sacrifice being this repulsive barbaric ritual to the story. But what you really get from the actual account isn’t about so much a dilemma revolving around the ethics of child sacrifice (as Kierkegaard once claimed); child sacrifice, after all, was an ordinary part of Abraham’s culture. That kind of reading is anachronistic.

(In fact, if this story is supposed to be an etiological one that legitimizes the substitution of animals for human lives, as many people (including scholars) think, you would expect God or the sacred authors to allude to this story when the commandment about the firstborn is given. But there is none. Instead, it’s always the tenth plague of Egypt and the passover lamb that fills that role.)

The crisis in the story instead revolves around the fact that Yhwh’s promise to Abraham (to make him a father of many nations, to give him a son) is jeopardized by His command to give up Isaac to Him. Child sacrifice itself or the logic behind it is never repudiated (expressly) in the narrative. On the contrary, Abraham is held up as an archetype of faithfulness because he was willing to sacrifice Isaac in spite of the earlier promises made to him. It’s not so much about the ram; Abraham after all was commanded to sacrifice Isaac; there was no command about the ram. Abraham receives the fruits of the promise not because he sacrificed the ram in place of Isaac, but because he was willing to sacrifice Isaac to Yhwh. His obedience to the original command was rewarded.

As an author named Jon Levenson (The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son) comments:

Genesis 22:1-19 is frighteningly unequivocal about YHWH’s ordering of a father to offer up his son as a sacrifice …] As an etiology of the redemption of the first-born son through the death of the sheep, however, the aqedah is, it seems to me, most ineffective. For although Abraham does indeed spot and then sacrifice a ram just after hearing the gruesome command rescinded (Gen 22:13), he is never actually commanded to offer the animal, as he was commanded to sacrifice his only beloved son, Isaac. And, in fact, so far as we know, Israelite tradition never explained the substitution of the sheep for the first-born son by reference to the aqedah; it was the tenth plague upon Egypt that served that role, with the paschal lamb spelling the difference between life and death for the Israelite first-born males (Exodus 12-13). The sacrifice of that sheep is commanded emphatically and repeatedly. But more importantly, it is passing strange to condemn child sacrifice through a narrative in which a father is richly rewarded for his willingness to carry out that very practice. If the point of the aqedah is ‘abolish human sacrifice, substitute animals instead’, then Abraham cannot be regarded as having passed the test to which Gen 22:1 tells us God is here subjecting him. For Abraham obeys the command to sacrifice Isaac without cavil and desists—knife in hand, Isaac bound on the altar over the firewood—only when the angel calls to him from heaven. And the burden of the angelic address is not that the slaughter of Isaac is offensive or that the ram is a preferable victim, but that it is Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son that verifies his fear of God. A second angelic address then specifies the reward for having passed the test with flying colors:

[INDENT]16 By myself I swear, the LORD declares: Because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your favored one, 17 I will bestow my blessing upon you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars of heaven and the sands on the seashore; and your descendants shall seize the gates of their foes. 18 All the nations of the earth shall bless themselves by your descendants, because you have obeyed My command. (Gen 22:16-18)

No interpretation of the aqedah can be adequate if it fails to reckon with the point made explicit here: Abraham will have his multitude of descendants only because he was willing to sacrifice the son who is destined to beget them. Any construal of the text that minimizes that willingness misses the point.

…]

The announcement that “God put Abraham to the test” cannot, however, be interpreted as von Rad taks it, as a signal to the reader (though not to Abraham) that the aqedah is only a test. Nothing in the verb used (nissâ) implies that the act commanded will not be carried to completion, that Isaac will be only bound and not sacrificed on the altar. … This being the case, Abraham’s willingness to heed the frightful command may or may not demonstrate faith in the promise that is invested in Isaac, but it surely and abundantly demonstrates his putting obedience to God ahead of every possible competitor.[/INDENT]


#14

The second example is Jephthah and his daughter (Judges 11:29-40).

Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites. And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If you will give the Ammonites into my hand, then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.”

Nowadays, since we’re groomed to think of human sacrifice as barbaric, later interpretations of the story often revolve around the presumed rashness of Jephthah’s vow that ended up taking the life of his daughter. (This has been the common line of interpretation since pseudo-Philo and Josephus: Josephus blames the daughter for rushing out to meet Jephthah - while reassuring his audience that the sacrifice “was never sanctioned by the law nor well-pleasing to God” :wink: - while pseudo-Philo blames Jephthah for making such a rash vow and presents it as a divine punishment for Jephthah’s foolishness.)

Some people even whitewash the story by saying that Jephthah never really sacrificed his daughter but just ‘dedicated’ her to God as a sort of virgin. But this ‘bloodless’ intepretation of the story is very late (it only pops up in the Middle Ages - one of the first to suggest this idea is the 12th-13th century French rabbi David Kimhi; all the earlier writers by contrast understood the story to refer to Jephthah literally sacrificing his own daughter), not to mention that the line of thinking in this interpretation is somewhat suspicious: it conveniently smoothens out the difficulty of Jephthah offering up his daughter as a “burnt offering” (so his original vow), which one could argue is really the natural way to interpret the text.

Besides, IMHO this ‘lifelong virgin’ doesn’t work because the OT text itself seems to draw a parallel between Abraham and Isaac and Jephthah and his daughter: both children were (to be) sacrificed by their fathers, and both are referred to as an “only child” (Genesis 22:2 yeḥideka; Judges 11:34 yeḥidah). But unlike Isaac’s case, Jephthah succeeds in sacrificing his daughter.

The text simply narrates the event in a matter-of-fact way: there is no condemnation (nor any explicit approval, for that matter) for Jephthah’s actions. Rather, it is the function of the sacrifice that appears to receive attention. Some commentators notice that both Abraham’s and Jephthah’s human sacrifices to Yhwh are tied up to potential fertility: the only-begotten child is a symbol of that. Because Abraham is willing to sacrifice Isaac, God makes good on His promise to give him descendants; as for Jephthah’s daughter, her status as a betulah, a virgin (a female who had reached puberty but had yet to bear a child), makes her a symbol of fertility.

It seems that in its original context, the logic of the story is that a vow made to a god is more valuable than anything, even a human life. Note that Jephthah’s daughter in the narrative affirms the system: “My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites.” She doesn’t protest at the prospect that her father will sacrifice her; in fact, she simply asks that she be given time to mourn her virginity.

If you read carefully, even Jephthah doesn’t really question the prospect of sacrificing a human to Yhwh. A few commentators even think that Jephthah had in mind a person when he vowed to sacrifice “whatever/whoever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me;” because it’s not always that an animal would come out of your house :wink: So he’s not much shocked that a human being greeted him when he came home (rather than an animal or something), but more because that the human who greeted him happened to be his daughter. The story is tragic not because a human sacrificed another human being (which is how we might read it today), but because a father sacrificed his only daughter.

In fact, in both stories the narrative revolves around the fathers - Abraham and Jephthah; the children are simply secondary characters. Both stories revolve around two men who demonstrated their faith in God, even if in a rather grisly way: Abraham by doing what God asked him to, Jephthah by making good on his vow to the Lord.


#15

A third ‘child sacrifice’ story in the OT is Mesha king of Moab’s sacrifice of his own son in exchange for victory in battle against the allied armies of Israel, Judah and Edom (2 Kings 3).

When the king of Moab saw that the battle was going against him, he took with him 700 swordsmen to break through, opposite the king of Edom, but they could not. 27 Then he took his oldest son who was to reign in his place and offered him for a burnt offering on the wall. And there came great wrath against Israel. And they withdrew from him and returned to their own land.

One has to remember that for the OT writers - (some of) the earlier ones at least - the existence of other gods was apparently not questioned. Whereas later, the Jews (who by then had the knowledge of monotheism) believed that there is only one God who exists - all the other pagan gods being simply a figment of peoples’ imagination - earlier, the Israelites apparently believed that the gods other peoples worship also existed. They were banned from worshiping those gods of course (“Thou shalt have no other gods”), and likely some of them believed that all the other gods were lesser in status compared to their own God (“Who is like you, Yhwh, among the gods?”), but then, people seem to have thought that gods like Ba’al, Chemosh, Milcom, Qos, Molech, or Asherah were real entities just like Yhwh was. (You might argue that they would; otherwise why would many Israelites worship these gods? :p) Or they could have thought that it’s all the same god, just under different names/titles.

You can see this mentality at play here. You might notice that the sacred writer doesn’t deny that Mesha’s sacrifice worked. In fact, he suggests the contrary: Mesha’s bargaining with the god of Moab (Chemosh) did very much work because he used a trump card - his own firstborn son and heir. Chemosh apparently accepted Mesha’s human sacrifice that “great wrath came upon Israel” (the word for ‘wrath’ used here, the noun qetsep, occurs 28 times - including this instance - in the OT; twenty-four of those other twenty-seven instances refer to the wrath of a Deity, Yhwh) as a result. So you have this (rather odd, for us) picture of an Israelite author claiming that the Israelite/Judahite/Edomite armies were defeated by the “great wrath” of the Moabite god, who responded to Mesha’s (apparently) efficacious human sacrifice!

Mesha’s story and Jephthah’s story has one thing in common: both men offer human sacrifices to their gods in exchange for victory in battle (which is really a desperate enough situation to warrant such an action). But whereas Jephthah offers his daughter to Yhwh after the battle, Mesha sacrifices his son in the thick of the battle (to kind of make sure Chemosh will listen to him?)


#16

The whole point of the Book of Judges was “Back then, people did whatever seemed good to them. So weird stuff happened, and some of it was bad because they didn’t know any better.”

So Jephthah and his daughter both thought this was good; but the point is that God may or may not have thought it was good. Readers are supposed to figure that the Law is better than randomly deciding stuff, even though many people living in the time of the Judges were genuinely pious and heroic.


#17

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