Molech, or Moloch, is one of the many old testament gods worshipped by the Hebrews. Despite being mentioned several times in the bible, Molech was made prominent when King Solomon began worshipping him instead of God. Let’s take a much deeper look at Molech.
What’s the relationship between Molech and the Israelites?
Despite being a famous deity amongst the Hebrews in the Old Testament, there’re quite a handful of facts about Molech that many do not know. Those who took part in Moloch’s worship had to sacrifice children to gain favor in his eyes. The name of the deity was derived from combining two Hebrew names “Melech” and “boshet”. Melech was king and “boshet” was shame.
Boshet has also been used a handful of times in the old testament to refer to another deity called Baal. But that’s a story for another day.
According to the scriptures, Molech found his way into Israel from other nations as a result of syncretic policies by a handful of kings. Even though God had forbidden the practice of idol worship, that didn’t stop the kings – and Israelites by extension – to start worshipping and making human sacrifices to Molech.
Some of the most notable kings that took part in the forbidden worship of Molech include King Solomon, King Ahaz, and king Manasseh. King Ahaz’s worship of Molech can be found in 2ndKings 16:3 while Manasseh’s can be found in 2ndKings 21:6.
These two kings (Ahaz and Manasseh) built a sanctuary for Molech in a place called Topheth. Topheth was situated just outside of the walls of Jerusalem. Manasseh passed the behavior to his son King Amon but then the site was demolished at the start of King Josiah who the bible as the reformer.
It was King Josiah who did his very best to return the Israelites on the right track as the last thing he wished was for his offspring – or any other’s offspring for that matter – to be sacrificed to Molech (2ndKings 23:10).
More facts about Molech
Even though many believe Molech to be a Canaanite deity, scholars have discovered that he was an import from the Syrians. The simulation came at a time when the kings of Israel were full of themselves and weren’t having any issues veering away from God and his commandments.
Molech was condemned many times in the bible, especially because it involved sacrificing innocent children. But despite the condemnation, a few Israelite kings went ahead and did it. The latter is what brought God’s wrath upon them, especially after they refused to heed to his prophets’ pleas to repent.
The bull-headed idol has a human body with the hands outstretched over the pier where the sacrifice was supposed to be laid. The latter has also sparked a fiery debate on whether burnt sacrifices in the bible were being offered to God or to Molech – a debate that hasn’t been settled at the time of writing this piece. I’ll sure make the necessary edits as soon as they reach a consensus – if they ever!
The word Moloch has been mentioned a total of eight times in the Hebrew Bible, specifically in the Masoretic texts. Also, several prophets cautioned Israelites against the worship of Molech. The latter only goes to show how rampant the practice was. One such prophet was none other than Prophet Jeremiah.
The Book of Leviticus also shows that a decree was finally passed that any Israelite, or any foreigner who was absorbed into their tribe, would be put to death should they sacrifice their children to Molech. The preferred way of execution was stoning.
Stoning was majorly used because its crude nature instilled fear amongst the Israelites thus making them think twice before attempting idol worship.
Apart from being a deity, Molech has also been used to refer to a form of sacrifice. So, if you tend to hear “lammolekh”, which can be translated loosely as ‘to Molech’ being term as a sacrifice, then it simply means the sacrifice involved sacrificing of children to a deity, even if it isn’t Moloch himself.
Was Molech worshipped in the new testament or the old testament?
The Worship of Molech the deity is mentioned mostly in the Old Testament but also the new testament. You can find it mentioned a few times in Leviticus and other books as well. Either way, the deity’s worship, and related sacrifices were highly condemned, especially by the prophets that Yahweh himself sent.
Is Molech being worshipped today?
Whether Molech is worshipped today remains a mystery that is likely never to be solved. In as much as religious freedoms have improved in contemporary society, it’s still quite difficult for many to come clean on what their beliefs are.
Therefore, it’s quite hard to tell as if there were any temples for Molech worship, and that’s a big if, then they’ll have to be secretive. But there’s a big possibility that they’re some individuals who still worship the ancient Syrian deity.