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Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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מלכּ? , 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, Leviticus 18:21 ; Leviticus 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 Amos, Amos 5:26 , and after him St. Stephen, reproach them with having carried in the wilderness the tabernacle of their god Moloch, Acts 7:43 . Solomon built a temple to Moloch upon the Mount of Olives, 1 Kings 11:7 ; and Manasseh a long time after imitated his impiety, making his son pass through the fire in honour of Moloch, 2 Kings 21:3-6 . It was chiefly in the valley of Tophet and Hinnom, east of Jerusalem, that this idolatrous worship was paid, Jeremiah 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 העביר , "to cause to pass through," and the, phrase "to cause to pass through the fire," are used in respect to human sacrifices in Deuteronomy 12:31 ; Deuteronomy 18:10 ; 2 Kings 16:3 ; 2 Kings 21:6 ; 2 Chronicles 28:3 ; 2 Chronicles 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 שרפּ? , to burn, and זבח , to immolate, with which they are interchanged, as may be seen by an examination of Jeremiah 7:31 ; Jeremiah 19:5 ; Ezekiel 16:20-21 ; Psalms 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, תפת , so named from the drums תפים תפּ? , which were beaten to prevent the groans and cries of children sacrificed from being heard, Jeremiah 7:31-32 ; Jeremiah 19:6-14 ; Isaiah 30:33 ; 2 Kings 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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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Moloch'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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Monday, May 25th, 2020
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